Islamophobia in America Has Doubled in 20 Years After 911 Terrorist Attacks

Muslims in America and the rest of the world have suffered the most since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Washington responded to the attacks by launching its "global war on terror" that has been seen by many Muslims as "global war on Muslims". People in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and many other parts of the world have seen their lives upended. American Muslims, too, have been the victims of hate crimes. Countries like India and Israel have taken advantage of the "global war on terror" to try to crush genuine independence movements in Kashmir and Palestine.  

Anti-Muslim Sentiments Survey. Source: Pew Research


Pew Survey Results: 

Pew Research has recently reported that anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States have doubled since 2001 from 25% to 50% of the respondents associating Muslims and Islam with violence. Islamophobia among Republicans is up from 32% to 72% in last two decades. Among Democrats, Islamophobia has risen from 23% to 32% in this period.     

The FBI data shows that anti-Islamic hate crimes rose from 28 incidents in the year 2000 to 481 in 2001. That's a 1,617% increase in just one year. 20 years later, those numbers are still high. In 2019, anti-Islamic hate crimes made up 13.3% of all religion-based attacks in the U.S. Muslims make up about 1% of the US population. 


Islamophobia Goes Mainstream: 
 
Islamophobia is no longer extreme; the year 2017 saw it go mainstream in Europe, India, the United States and several other parts of the world.

Openly Islamophobic Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States in 2017. India's largest state of Uttar Pradesh elected rabidly anti-Muslim chief minister Yogi Adiyanath who was hand-picked by Muslim-hating Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017.  Neo-Nazis made significant electoral gains with their anti-Islam rhetoric in several European nations while Burma and Israel continued to get away with the murder of  innocent Muslim civilians in 2017.

These alarming trends are reminiscent of the rise of Nazi Party led by Germany's Adolf Hitler who brought disaster to Europe and the rest of the world less than a century ago.

Trump's Muslim Ban:

The year of Islamophobia began in earnest on January 20, 2017 with the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump who called for "total and complete shutdown" of  Muslims entering the United States during his successful electoral campaign. Among the first executive orders he signed was a "Muslim Ban" from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Then came an avalanche of a large number of Islamophobic tweets and retweets from Trump's twitter account. Some recent Trump retweets were of tweets from Britain First's Jayda Fransen. These tweets and retweets were swiftly denounced by top British and Dutch officials. Trump did not apologize.

Trump developed a pattern of using terror attacks to tweet against Muslims while ignoring similar or worse terror attacks by others.

Trump closed the year with recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a recognition that prior US administrations had withheld pending negotiations and final settlement of the issues between Israelis and Palestinians.

Hindu Nazis in India:

Yogi Adiyanath, known for his highly inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, was hand-picked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to head India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

Yogi wants to "install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque”.  Before his election, he said, “If one Hindu is killed, we won’t go to the police, we’ll kill 10 Muslims”.  He endorsed the beef lynching of Indian Muslim Mohammad Akhlaque and demanded that the victim's family be charged with cow slaughter.

In an op ed titled "Hitler's Hindus: The Rise and Rise of India's Nazi-Loving Nationalists" published by leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz, author Shrenik Rao has raised alarm bells about "large and growing community of Indian Hindu Nazis, who are digitally connected to neo-Nazi counterparts across the world".


Rao talks about Nagpur, a town he describes as the "epicenter of Hindu Nationalism", where he found  ‘Hitler’s Den’ pool parlor "that shocked me on a round-India trip 10 years ago was no outlier. Admiration for Nazism – often reframed with a genocidal hatred for Muslims – is rampant in the Hindu nationalist camp, which has never been as mainstream as it is now".

Hindu nationalists in India have a long history of admiration for the Nazi leader, including his "Final Solution". In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Golwalkar, considered the founder of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".

Islamophobia in Europe:

Dutch expert Cas Mudde, an associate professor at the University of Georgia summed up the rise of Islamophobes in Europe well when he said: "The far right in Europe is more popular today than it was at any time in postwar history".

Alternative für Deutschland (AFD), a modern re-incarnation of Hitler's Nazi Party, stunned the world by becoming the third largest party in German Bundestag in 2017.

Last year, AFD's anti-Islam policies replaced its anti-EU focus with the slogan “Islam is not a part of Germany” emerging from the party’s spring 2017 conference.

In Austria, far-right Freedom Party candidate Sebastian Kurz was recently elected chancellor on the party's anti-Islam platform.

Earlier in 2017, the Dutch anti-Islam Freedom Party of Geert Wilders became the second largest force in parliament.

The French National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen received nearly 34 percent of votes in the May 2017 presidential run-off that was won by Emmanuel Macron.

Neo-Nazis and Hindu Nazis on Social Media:

The advent and growth of online social media have enabled a large and growing community of Indian Hindu Nazis connected to neo-Nazi counterparts in Europe and America.  This came to light a few years ago when the Norwegian white supremacist terrorist Anders Behring Breivik's manifesto against the "Islamization of Western Europe" was heavily influenced by the kind of anti-Muslim rhetoric which is typical of the Nazi-loving Hindu Nationalists like late Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (1906-1973), and his present-day Sangh Parivar followers and sympathizers in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who currently rule several Indian states. This Hindutva rhetoric which infected Breivik has been spreading like a virus on the Internet, particularly on many of the well-known Islamophobic hate sites that have sprouted up in Europe and America in recent years. In fact, much of the Breivik manifesto is cut-and-pastes of anti-Muslim blog posts and columns that validated his worldview.

"It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible. Our goals are more or less identical," Breivick wrote in his manifesto. The Christian Science Monitor has reported that "in the case of India, there is significant overlap between Breivik’s rhetoric and strains of Hindu nationalism – or Hindutva – on the question of coexistence with Muslims. Human rights monitors have long decried such rhetoric in India for creating a milieu for communal violence, and the Norway incidents are prompting calls here to confront the issue."

Indian Textbooks Praise Nazis:

Adulation for Hitler has found its way into Indian textbooks to influence young impressionable minds. Here's how Rao describes it:

In 2004, when now-Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, school textbooks published by the Gujarat State Board portrayed Hitler as a hero, and glorified fascism.

The tenth-grade social studies textbook had chapters entitled "Hitler, the Supremo," and "Internal Achievements of Nazism." The section on the "Ideology of Nazism" reads: "Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government. He adopted the policy of opposition towards the Jewish people and advocated the supremacy of the German race." The tenth-grade social studies textbook, published by the state of Tamil Nadu in 2011 (with multiple revised editions until 2017) includes chapters glorifying Hitler, praising his "inspiring leadership," "achievements" and how the Nazis "glorified the German state" so, "to maintain a German race with Nordic elements, [Hitler] ordered the Jews to be persecuted."

Mein Kampf has also gone mainstream, becoming a "must-read" management strategy book for India’s business school students. Professors teaching strategy lecture about how a short, depressed man in prison made a goal of taking over the world and built a strategy to achieve it.

Modi and Trump:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has built his entire political career on the intense hatred of  Muslims. US President Donald Trump built his successful presidential campaign on Islamophobia and xenophobia. That's what the two men have in common.

Just as white racists form the core of Trump's support base in America, the Modi phenomenon in India has been fueled by Hindu Nationalists whose leaders have praised Adolph Hitler for his hatred of Jews.

M.S. Golwalkar, a Hindu Nationalist who Mr. Modi has described as "worthy of worship" wrote the following about Muslims in his book "We":

 "Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”

"To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Summary:

Pew Research has recently reported that anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States have doubled since 2001 from 25% to 50% of the respondents associating Muslims and Islam with violence. Countries like India and Israel have taken advantage of the "global war on terror" to try to crush genuine independence movements in Kashmir and Palestine. The simultaneous rise of Neo Nazis in the West and the Hindu Nazis in India represents a very serious and growing threat to world peace. Their combined menace can lead to a devastating third world war with nuclear weapons if these trends are not halted and reversed soon. I hope good sense prevails among the voters in these countries to pull the world back from the brink of human catastrophe.

Here's retired US General Wesley Clark revealing post-911 inside Pentagon information on plans to finish off 7 Muslim countries in 5 years: 

https://youtu.be/4cYCqf1LkAE




Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Modi’s deepening love affair with #Israel . When #Indian intelligence agency #RAW was established in 1968, its first spy chief RN Kao was asked by PM Indira Gandhi to establish ties with Israel’s #Mossad. #Hindutva #Zionism #Islamophobia
https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/9/9/indias-deepening-love-affair-with-israel


Under Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, the strategic, military, and ideological ties between Israel and India are growing stronger.


The revelation that Pegasus – spyware developed by the Israeli cyber-arms company NSO – was used to surveil opposition politicians, activists, public officials and journalists in India, has once again confirmed that the right to privacy, freedom of speech and expression and freedom of the press are threatened under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.

Dismissing the controversy, a member of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Basavaraj Somappa Bommai, declared, “It is a conspiracy involving foreign press where these kinds of misinformation campaigns have been done against India … Using digital platforms, they try to destabilise different countries. Now, the eyes are set on India.”


However, opposition politicians have accused Prime Minister Modi of “treason”. And, the Press Club of India (PCI) described this as an unprecedented attack on the Indian democracy. The PCI tweeted, “This is the first time in the history of this country that all pillars of our democracy – judiciary, parliamentarians, media, executives and ministers – have been spied upon.”

But it is not mere happenstance that technology developed by an Israeli company was used by the Hindu nationalist leadership in India. Over the years, the two countries have developed a robust strategic, military and technology partnership. Furthermore, there has long been an ideological alliance between the BJP and Israel that helps further the ambitions of both parties.

History of a fraught relationship
Relations between Israel and India have not always been as friendly as they are today. In 1938, Mahatma Gandhi had famously said, “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French.”

Jawaharlal Nehru – who eventually became the first prime minister of independent India – expressed his sympathies for the Jewish population facing persecution in Europe. However, Nehru also insisted that “fundamentally the problem of Palestine is a nationalist one. The Arabs are struggling against imperialist control and domination. It is a pity, therefore, that the Jews of Palestine instead of aligning themselves with this struggle have thought it fit to take the side of British imperialism and to seek its protection against the inhabitants of the country.”

India remained invested in the idea of Arab freedom in Palestine in the lead up to its independence in August 1947 and thereafter. It was an elected member of the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). And, in September 1947, it was one of only 13 countries that voted against the United Nations’ Partition Plan for Palestine.

In a statement against the partition plan, the Indian representative and member of UNSCOP, Sir Abdur Rahman, said, “The people of Palestine have now admittedly reached a stage of development where their recognition as an independent nation can no longer be delayed. They are in no way less advanced than the people of the other free and independent Asiatic countries.” Rahman added that the failure to grant independence to Palestinians would lead to continued violence in the region.

Riaz Haq said…
Beaten and humiliated by Hindu mobs for being a Muslim in India - BBC News

‏بھارت کے 20 کروڑ مسلمان کس اذیت کی زندگی گزارنے پر مجبور ہیں بی بی سی ویب پر شائع سب سے زیادہ پڑھے جانے والا مضمون جنونی ہندو شدت پسندوں کے ہاتھوں مسلمانوں پر ظلم کہانیوں پر مشتمل ہے مودی کا یہ بھارت خود کو دنیا کی سب سے بڑی جمہوریت اور مہذب ملک کہتا ہے

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-58406194


Unprovoked attacks on Muslims by Hindu mobs have become routine in India, but they seem to evoke little condemnation from the government.

Last month, a video that went viral on social media showed a terrified little girl clinging to her Muslim father as a Hindu mob assaulted him.

The distressing footage showed the 45-year-old rickshaw driver being paraded through the streets of Kanpur, a city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, as his crying daughter begged the mob to stop hitting him.

His attackers asked him to chant "Hindustan Zindabad" or "Long Live India" and "Jai Shri Ram" or "Victory to Lord Ram" - a popular greeting that's been turned into a murder cry by Hindu lynch mobs in recent years.

He complied, but the mob still kept hitting him. The man and his daughter were eventually rescued by the police. Three men arrested for the attack were freed on bail a day later.

A few days later, another viral video surfaced showing a Muslim bangle-seller being slapped, kicked and punched by a Hindu mob in Indore, a city in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. The attackers could be heard abusing Tasleem Ali and telling him to stay away from Hindu areas in future.

In a police complaint, he later alleged that he had been "beaten by five-six men who hurled communal slurs at him for selling bangles in a Hindu-dominated area and robbed him of money, his phone and some documents".

But in a strange turn of events, Ali himself was arrested the next day after the 13-year-old daughter of one of his alleged attackers accused him of molesting her. His family and neighbours have strongly denied the accusation. They said it was inconceivable that the father of five would do something like that.

And eyewitnesses, quoted in the Indian press, said he was attacked because of his religious identity and the molestation accusation against him seemed to be an afterthought.

The two attacks were among several instances of anti-Muslim violence in August, but the last month by no means was cruellest for India's biggest religious minority group, with a population of more than 200 million.

Similar attacks were reported in the preceding months too - and many made headlines.

In March, a 14-year-old Muslim boy who had entered a Hindu temple to drink water was violently assaulted
In June, a vendor was beaten up in Delhi for trying to sell fruit in a Hindu locality
"The violence is overwhelming. It's rampant and common and also very acceptable," says Alishan Jafri, a freelance journalist who's been documenting attacks on Indian Muslims for the past three years.

Riaz Haq said…
Death threats sent to participants of "Dismantling Global Hindutva" conference in #US which is co-sponsored by over 53 universities including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, University of Chicago, UPenn & Rutgers. #Hindutva #Modi #India https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/09/death-threats-sent-to-participants-of-us-conference-on-hindu-nationalism

Threats force several scholars to withdraw as ‘far-right fringe groups’ accuse event of being ‘anti-Hindu’

An academic conference in the US addressing Hindu nationalism is being targeted by rightwing Hindu groups, which have sent death threats to participants and forced several scholars to withdraw.

The conference, titled Dismantling Global Hindutva, which is co-sponsored by more than 53 universities including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Rutgers, has come under attack after several groups in India and the US accused the event of being “anti-Hindu”.

The aim of the conference, which will begin online on 10 September, is to bring together scholars to discuss Hindutva, otherwise known as Hindu nationalism, a rightwing movement that believes India should be an ethnic Hindu state, rather than a secular nation.

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), led by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has pushed forward a Hindu nationalist agenda, under which India’s 200 million Muslims have faced discrimination and attacks.

The conference organisers said that in recent weeks, “far-right fringe groups have mobilised to attack the speakers at the conference”, falsely characterising the discussion of the political ideology of Hindutva as an attack on Hinduism itself.

In a statement, the organisers described how “immense pressure has been placed upon universities by fringe groups to back out of the conference” and emphasised the “sinister implications” of this “massive disinformation campaign”.

Several of the participants have withdrawn from the conference over fears it would lead to them being banned from returning to their families in India or being arrested on their arrival into the country.

Dozens of speakers and organisers involved have had violent threats made against their family members. Meena Kandasamy, a speaker, had pictures of her children posted online with captions such as “ur son will face a painful death” as well as casteist slurs. Other academics have been forced to file police cases after receiving death threats.

More than 1m emails were sent to the presidents, provosts and officials at universities involved in the conference pressuring them to withdraw and dismiss staff who were participating, pointing to an organised campaign by groups in India and the US. At Drew University in New Jersey, more than 30,000 emails were received in just a few minutes, causing the university server to crash.

“We are deeply concerned that all of these lies, taken together, will be used to incarcerate those who speak at the conference, or worse, inflict bodily harm, up to murder, upon those associated with the conference,” read the statement by the conference’s organisers. “Due to the variety of the nature of these threats, several speakers have had to withdraw from participating in this conference over the past two to three days.”

“The level of hate has been staggering,” said Rohit Chopra, an associate professor at Santa Clara University, who is one of the conference organisers.

“Organisers and speakers have received death threats, threats of sexual violence, and threats of violence against their families. Women participants have been subjected to the vilest kind of misogynistic threats and abuse and members of religious minorities associated with the conference have been targeted with casteist and sectarian slurs in the ugliest sorts of language.”

Riaz Haq said…
What Comes After the War on Terrorism? War on China?

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/opinion/china-us-xi-biden.html

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after a failed 20-year nation-building exercise has left many Americans and analysts saying, “If only we knew back then what we know now, we would have never gone down that path.” I am not sure that’s true, but it nevertheless raises this question: What are we doing today in foreign policy that we might look back 20 years from now and say, “If only we knew back then what we know now, we would never have gone down that path”?

My answer can be summed up in one word: China.

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Nader Mousavizadeh, founder and C.E.O. of Macro Advisory Partners, a geopolitical consulting firm, suggests that if we are now going to shift our focus from the Middle East to an irreversible strategy of confronting China, we should start by asking three foundational questions:

First, Mousavizadeh says: “Are we sure we understand the dynamics of an immense and changing society like China well enough to decide that its inevitable mission is the global spread of authoritarianism? Especially when this will require a generational adversarial commitment on the part of the United States, engendering in turn a still more nationalistic China?”

Second, says Mousavizadeh, who was a longtime senior adviser to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan: If we believe that our network of alliances is “a uniquely American asset, have we listened as much as we’ve talked to our Asian and European allies about the reality of their economic and political relationships with China — ensuring that their interests and values are embedded in a common approach to China? Because without that, any coalition will crumble.”

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The third question, Mousavizadeh argues, is if we believe that our priority after a 20-year war on terrorism must now be “repair at home — by addressing yawning deficits in infrastructure, education, incomes and racial equity” — is it more useful or more dangerous to emphasize the China threat? It might light a fire under Americans to get serious about national renewal. But it might also light a fire to the whole U.S.-China relationship, affecting everything from supply chains to student exchanges to Chinese purchases of U.S. government bonds.
Riaz Haq said…
9/11 in Islamabad: The First 72 Hours - War on the Rocks

By David O. Smith (was Army Attache at US Embassy at the time of 911 attacks) is a distinguished fellow with the South Asia Program at the Stimson Center.


https://warontherocks.com/2021/09/9-11-in-islamabad-the-first-72-hours/

Musharraf emphasized his concern that the longer any military campaign went on, the greater was the possibility of negative feelings. A quick action and extraction of U.S. troops was in both countries’ interests. It would also be good to have a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the operation, buy-in from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and diplomatic support from Islamic countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia. When the ambassador interrupted to ask if he was setting conditions on Pakistani cooperation, he assured her that all seven demands were accepted unconditionally and that he wished only to point out things that perhaps were not fully understood in Washington about the risk Pakistan (and he personally) was taking. “We’re compromising a hell of a lot [for you]. This will undermine my personal standing.” As for India, “Tell the Indians to lay off and stay off,” was the blunt message he wanted conveyed to New Delhi. He ended their conversation by restating a third time that he accepted all U.S. demands and advised the ambassador, “We both need to review our
Riaz Haq said…
"IN THEIR VERY first exchange after 9/11, Pakistan’s most senior leaders urged their American counterparts not to invade Afghanistan. Instead, they said, consider targeted action against al-Qaeda" #Afghanistan #US #Pakistan @LodhiMaleeha @P_Musharraf https://www.economist.com/by-invitation/2021/09/09/maleeha-lodhi-on-the-tortured-pakistani-american-relationship

Maleeha Lodhi was Pakistan's ambassador in Washington when 911 terror attacks occurred.

This By-invitation commentary is part of a series by global thinkers on the future of American power, examining the forces shaping the country's global standing. Read more here.

IN THEIR VERY first exchange after 9/11, Pakistan’s most senior leaders urged their American counterparts not to invade Afghanistan. Instead, they said, consider targeted action against al-Qaeda. In several high-level meetings that I attended then as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Pakistani officials gave warning that military action would not work. America should distinguish between al-Qaeda, the group responsible for the terror attacks, and the Taliban, who needed to be engaged.

Riaz Haq said…
The United States and Pakistan After the Taliban Takeover by David O Smith who was Army Attache at US Embassy at the time of 911 attacks

https://warontherocks.com/2021/09/9-11-in-islamabad-the-first-72-hours/


With the Taliban now in charge in Kabul, where does this leave the United States and Pakistan? Both sides may indulge in a period of finger pointing for the social and humanitarian disasters sure to follow, and the temptation will be great to cut Pakistan adrift. The United States walked away from Pakistan before — in 1965 and 1971 after two wars with India and in 1990 after the Soviet Union left Afghanistan — but these were grave mistakes that should not be repeated.

U.S. officials should understand two key things going forward. First, the bilateral relationship with Pakistan needs to be confined solely to areas of agreed mutual interest. There is absolutely no basis for rebuilding the close military relationship that all but collapsed in 2011 after a series of events that alienated the Pakistani government and military: the special forces raid to kill bin Laden in Abbottabad which was considered to be a gross violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, a series of Wikileaks disclosures that embarrassed the Army chief, the shooting death of two Pakistanis by CIA contractor Raymond Davis, and the Salala border post incident in which U.S. airstrikes killed 28 Pakistani soldiers. Second, the United States has three key interests connected to Pakistan: the continuing risk of terrorism directed against the United States by al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Afghanistan, the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and preventing a future war between India and Pakistan that could escalate to the nuclear level. Prioritizing these interests will provide focus to a relationship that has often gone off the rails.

What then does a limited relationship look like? It means that the era of generous U.S. military and economic assistance is over. Future assistance should be limited solely to modest economic investments, humanitarian aid, and counternarcotics programs. The United States and Pakistan have a shared interest in stability in Afghanistan and limiting future Taliban excesses, and Pakistan might cooperate in leveraging its influence with the Taliban government to deliver humanitarian assistance to displaced Afghans. Intelligence sharing is possible if limited to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and groups like Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan on Afghan soil that attack the Pakistani state. And finally, there are abundant opportunities to stabilize Pakistan’s shaky economy because the last thing the region needs is another failed state possessing hundreds of nuclear weapons. To that end a constructive blueprint published last year by the Middle East Institute contains several initiatives that both sides can beneficially pursue.

No one could possibly have foreseen that the 20th year observation of the events of 9/11 would be bookended by Taliban governments in power in Kabul. What is needed now is less recrimination about the causes of this catastrophic outcome and more careful, somber — and humble — reflection on the limits of U.S. power and America’s inability to understand the social, political, and cultural dynamics in this and other volatile regions of the world.
Riaz Haq said…
George W. Bush likens "violent extremists at home" to 9/11 #terrorists in "their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols — they are children of the same foul spirit.." #911Anniversary https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/11/george-w-bush-compares-violent-extremists-home-911-terrorists-20th-anniversary-speech/?tid=ss_tw

On the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that changed his presidency, former president George W. Bush on Saturday warned there is growing evidence that domestic terrorism could pose as much of a threat to the United States as terrorism originating from abroad, and he urged Americans to confront “violence that gathers within.”

Without naming it, Bush seemed to condemn the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, when a pro-Trump mob overran the complex in a violent siege that resulted in the deaths of five people. Bush compared those “violent extremists at home” to the terrorists who had hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001, and crashed them in New York City, Arlington, and Shanksville, Pa., killing nearly 3,000 people.

“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” Bush said in a speech at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville. “But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols — they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.”

Bush, a Republican who was president when the 9/11 attacks happened, continually invoked “the nation I know” in his remarks Saturday, an echo of his previous rejection of the rhetoric of former president Donald Trump. Bush spoke of the difficulty of describing “the mix of feelings” everyone experienced on that clear September day 20 years ago.

“There was horror at the scale of destruction and at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it,” Bush said. “There was shock at the audacity — audacity of evil — and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it. In the sacrifice of the first responders, in the mutual aid of strangers, in the solidarity of grief and grace. The actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of a people. And we were proud of our wounded nation.”

As President Biden and Vice President Harris also did in remarks for the 20th anniversary of the attacks, Bush called on the nation to once again hold fast to its best qualities and shared strengths, to come together as many Americans felt the country had in the days after 9/11. Left unspoken — but alluded to plenty of times Saturday — was that the nation felt as divided as ever, and that former president Donald Trump was continuing to stoke those divisions.
Riaz Haq said…
Mehdi Hasan
@mehdirhasan
There was no ‘right’ country to invade on 9/11. The response to a criminal attack by non-state actors shouldn’t have been a war or an invasion or an occupation. It should have been police work, special ops, diplomacy, humanitarian aid, peace in MidEast… none of which was done.

https://twitter.com/mehdirhasan/status/1436763084421537792?s=20

https://youtu.be/8eDzavorXyQ
Riaz Haq said…
Retired US General Wesley Clark interviewed in 2007 about military strategy after 9/11 attacks: "We are going to take out 7 (Muslim) countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing it off with Iran"

https://youtu.be/4cYCqf1LkAE
Riaz Haq said…
How 9/11 Changed My Life
America turned the trickster Mullah Nasreddin into the Taliban’s Mullah Omar.

BY KOUROSS ESMAELI SEPTEMBER 10, 2021


https://prospect.org/world/how-911-changed-my-life/


I became a “Muslim” on September 11, 2001.

Until that date, I was devoutly irreligious at least twice over. Growing up in Iran, my family had little to do with mosques and prayer. There were lots of Iranians like us, as I remember—and not because we were “Westernized” or modern. We were part of a long and perfectly respectable tradition of being irreligious. When we immigrated to Memphis, Tennessee, I became even more mistrusting of faith again as missionaries and good-hearted Christians rang our doorbell to invite us to their faith.

Despite all my attempts to live a religion-free life, 9/11 taught me that this is not easy. The violent acts of a few Saudi nationals had absolutely nothing to do with me. The U.S. government disagreed: After 9/11, Islam became a race, and I became a “Muslim,” whether I liked it or not.

All people from Muslim countries became targeted as especially dangerous and worthy of surveillance, monitoring, and harassment. I was put on a no-fly list. Federal agents “visited” me twice at home. The second time they came, they also talked to my neighbors and the super of my building about my “ethnicity.” No matter our piety or depth of religious belief, Iranians, Arabs, South Asians, and North Africans became a community overnight. What defined us as “Muslims” wasn’t whether or how we prayed. What defined us was a system of racial profiling.

All of this was legal even if it was never legitimate.

There were many layers of irony to this racialization of a religion. My Iranian Jewish friends helped me make sense of what was happening. I learned from them that being from the Muslim world had long entailed a beleaguered identity, at least within the wider American Jewish community, which is dominated by Ashkenazim (or Jews from Europe). Iranian Jews had been racially marked, marginalized, and segregated by the mainstream American Jewish community. They told me stories about their arrival in the U.S. in the late 1970s, like: “We were told we could pray in the basement of the synagogue. It was winter and the basement wasn’t heated.” Iranian Jews, in other words, were treated from the get-go as “people of color” by their European co-religionists.

While throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Iranian Jews were living as ethnicized others among other Jews, we nonreligious “Muslim” Iranians were passing as white, hustling to assimilate into the American melting pot. Or at least we thought we were. But on 9/11, the lines of American whiteness became suddenly clear. Abruptly, we discovered that we weren’t white after all.

The historical context makes it even more ironic. Remember: It was in 2001 that George W. Bush declared that racial profiling is “wrong and we will end it in America.” A few years later when the Department of Justice issued new guidelines for Bush’s promise, called “Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies,” they made one exception, which turned out to be crucial to my life:
Riaz Haq said…
After 9/11, Islam became a race & all people from Islamic countries became “Muslim,” even those who said they were #secular". They became targeted as especially dangerous and worthy of surveillance, monitoring, and harassment. #911Anniversary #Islamophobia https://prospect.org/world/how-911-changed-my-life/


BY KOUROSS ESMAELI SEPTEMBER 10, 2021


I became a “Muslim” on September 11, 2001.

Until that date, I was devoutly irreligious at least twice over. Growing up in Iran, my family had little to do with mosques and prayer. There were lots of Iranians like us, as I remember—and not because we were “Westernized” or modern. We were part of a long and perfectly respectable tradition of being irreligious. When we immigrated to Memphis, Tennessee, I became even more mistrusting of faith again as missionaries and good-hearted Christians rang our doorbell to invite us to their faith.

Despite all my attempts to live a religion-free life, 9/11 taught me that this is not easy. The violent acts of a few Saudi nationals had absolutely nothing to do with me. The U.S. government disagreed: After 9/11, Islam became a race, and I became a “Muslim,” whether I liked it or not.

All people from Muslim countries became targeted as especially dangerous and worthy of surveillance, monitoring, and harassment. I was put on a no-fly list. Federal agents “visited” me twice at home. The second time they came, they also talked to my neighbors and the super of my building about my “ethnicity.” No matter our piety or depth of religious belief, Iranians, Arabs, South Asians, and North Africans became a community overnight. What defined us as “Muslims” wasn’t whether or how we prayed. What defined us was a system of racial profiling.

All of this was legal even if it was never legitimate.

There were many layers of irony to this racialization of a religion. My Iranian Jewish friends helped me make sense of what was happening. I learned from them that being from the Muslim world had long entailed a beleaguered identity, at least within the wider American Jewish community, which is dominated by Ashkenazim (or Jews from Europe). Iranian Jews had been racially marked, marginalized, and segregated by the mainstream American Jewish community. They told me stories about their arrival in the U.S. in the late 1970s, like: “We were told we could pray in the basement of the synagogue. It was winter and the basement wasn’t heated.” Iranian Jews, in other words, were treated from the get-go as “people of color” by their European co-religionists.

While throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Iranian Jews were living as ethnicized others among other Jews, we nonreligious “Muslim” Iranians were passing as white, hustling to assimilate into the American melting pot. Or at least we thought we were. But on 9/11, the lines of American whiteness became suddenly clear. Abruptly, we discovered that we weren’t white after all.

The historical context makes it even more ironic. Remember: It was in 2001 that George W. Bush declared that racial profiling is “wrong and we will end it in America.” A few years later when the Department of Justice issued new guidelines for Bush’s promise, called “Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies,” they made one exception, which turned out to be crucial to my life:

The above standards do not affect current Federal policy with respect to law enforcement activities and other efforts to defend and safeguard against threats to national security or the integrity of the Nation’s borders.

In other words, the top law agency in the country reserved the right to profile people in the name of national security and the “war on terror.” This was the legal mechanism for how people like me became “Muslim,” and how that term abruptly stopped referring to voluntary religious affiliation, and became, instead, one of fixed racial identity.

Riaz Haq said…
Sour grapes India: Pakistan has clearly won in Afghanistan
September 21, 2021, 2:52 PM IST

By Sunil Sharan in Strategic Insights, India, World, TOI

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/strategic-insights/sour-grapes-india-pakistan-has-clearly-won-in-afghanistan/

Much hand-wringing and hair-pulling is going on in India over Pakistan’s “1971” moment. Actually Pakistan has had two 1971 moments. Once when they ejected the Soviets from Afghanistan in 1989, and now.

--------------

The fight then is clear. It is white Christian nations versus brown Muslim nations. The US has been involved in the following campaigns after 9/11: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. All Muslim nations. It has met defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and been dealt a bruising blow in Libya, Syria and Yemen. Estimate of Muslim lives lost from war and displacement caused by war since 9/11 vary between five and ten million.

----------------

Much is being made of Blinken’s statement that the US would like to see Pakistan evolve the way it, the US, wishes. This is just wishful thinking. When the Americans were all over Afghanistan (and Pakistan), they could not force the Pakistanis to do what they wanted to do. Now that they have hightailed out of Afghanistan, are we expected to believe that the US has more leverage over Pakistan now than before?

---------------------

Other than the US, the country that has clearly lost out in Afghanistan is India. For 20 years, India has poured over $3 billion in aid and reconstruction into Afghanistan, all of which, in a jiffy, has just landed in the hands of the Taliban. Pakistan has now become without doubt emboldened to launch a second jihad to liberate Kashmir from India. India cannot be naïve and altruistic anymore. It has to ramp up support for Pakistan’s Baloch rebels as well as instigate the Taliban in amalgamating Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province into Afghanistan, a long-cherished dream of its.


India just cannot afford to be a mute and idle spectator in the AfPak region. Its very survival is at risk. Pakistan has often accused India of fomenting terrorism in its own territory through the Pakistani Taliban. But think about this. The Pakistani Taliban wants to impose sharia in Pakistan, just as it’s been now imposed in Afghanistan.

But Pakistan’s Muslims are Hinduized. They don’t want sharia, just as India doesn’t want an enormous territory on its western flank under sharia. It is in India’s interest that Pakistan stays Hinduized. Why then would India support the Pakistani Taliban?
Riaz Haq said…
#US @VP Kamala Harris presses #India's #Modi gently on #HumanRights in historic meeting. "It is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries.” #Hindutva #Islamophobia #Kashmir https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-09-23/harris-meets-modi-discuss-human-rights-combating-covid-19-pandemic


Vice President Kamala Harris invoked her familial ties to India as she gently pressed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on human rights during a history-making meeting Thursday between America’s first vice president of Indian descent and the leader of a country that has become an increasingly close ally.
Harris, during public remarks at her ceremonial office before the closed-door session, told Modi that as democracies around the world are under threat “it is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries.”

“I know from personal experience and from my family of the commitment of the Indian people to democracy,” she said, “and the work that needs to be done [so that] we can begin to imagine, and then actually achieve, our vision for democratic principles and institutions.”

The remarks marked a subtle change from the Trump administration’s unquestioned fidelity to the populist Modi, who has presided over an increase in religious polarization in his country, with more laws targeting religious minorities, including its large Muslim population, as well as attacks on non-Hindus.

Despite the mild pressure, the two leaders shared warm words, including praise from Harris for India’s role in producing COVID-19 vaccines for the world. Modi thanked Harris for offering a “sense of kinship” in a phone call during his country’s deadly coronavirus surge this spring.

He invited Harris to visit his country, telling her that Indians “are waiting to welcome you” and calling her “the source of inspiration for so many people across the world.” Harris, who visited Southeast Asia last month, did not immediately commit to a trip.

The public discussion of about 15 minutes attracted more attention, including a large press contingent from India, than typical meetings between heads of state and vice presidents. Harris’ mother was born in India, and Indian Americans are one of the fastest growing groups in the United States, with a population of more than 4 million.

Modi did not speak publicly about his desire to increase U.S. work visas for Indians, but it is part of his agenda. Harris and Modi also talked about their goals to combat COVID-19 and climate change, and to strengthen the strategic alliance.

India has become a closer ally in recent years as American presidents from both parties have recognized the country’s strategic importance in countering China’s growing military and financial power.

Modi is scheduled to meet with President Biden on Friday and then separately again with Harris and Biden in meetings of the so-called Quad, which also includes Japan and Australia.

Riaz Haq said…
#Biden Declared the War Over. But Wars Go On. Rep Malinowsky: “Our troops are not coming home.......They are merely moving to other bases in the same region to conduct the same counterterrorism missions, including in Afghanistan". #dronestrike #Afghanistan https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/22/us/politics/biden-war.html?smid=tw-share

President Biden declared to the United Nations on Tuesday that “for the first time in 20 years, the United States is not at war. We’ve turned the page.”

One day earlier, a missile fired from an American drone incinerated a car driving along a remote road in northwestern Syria, a strike aimed against a suspected Qaeda operative. Three weeks before that, the military launched an airstrike in Somalia targeting members of the Shabab militant group, part of an American air campaign in that country that has intensified in recent months.

There are no longer American troops in Afghanistan, but America’s wars go on.

Mr. Biden’s assertion at the United Nations was intended to show he had made good on his pledge to end America’s longest war, and his speech came on the same day that the last soldier to die before the American withdrawal from Afghanistan was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

But it was just the latest attempt by an American president in the two decades since the Sept. 11 attacks to massage the language of warfare to mask a sometimes inconvenient reality: that America is still engaged in armed conflict throughout the world.

In a letter to Congress in June, Mr. Biden listed all the countries where American troops are operating against various militant groups — from Iraq and Syria to Yemen to the Philippines to Niger.

There are more than 40,000 American troops stationed around the Middle East, including 2,500 troops in Iraq more than 18 years after President George W. Bush ordered an invasion of that country. About 900 troops are in Syria on a mission begun by President Barack Obama in 2015, and Mr. Biden has said he would direct the military to carry out future operations in Afghanistan against emerging terrorist threats, even if they are launched from bases outside the country.
Riaz Haq said…
#Hindu Mobs, anti-#Muslim Boycotts: In #Modi’s #India, the Echoes of 1930s #Nazi Germany Are Growing Louder. Real threat to India is from a radicalizing Hindu majority fueled by the increasingly brazen, violent anti-Muslim bigotry of Modi’s own #BJP party. https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium-for-muslims-in-modi-s-india-echoes-of-1930s-germany-are-growing-louder-1.10241729

by Debashish Roy Chowdhury

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium-for-muslims-in-modi-s-india-echoes-of-1930s-germany-are-growing-louder-1.10241729

In reality, the radicalization of the majority is a much bigger threat confronting India than minority extremism.

Lynching of Muslims by Hindu mobs have become so normalized that they rarely make news anymore. New laws against beef and interfaith love – termed "love jihad" by Modi’s party – now allow Hindu vigilante groups to attack Muslims with impunity. A pliant civil administration and police force mostly look away, if they’re not actively collaborating with the vigilantes.

Ever since Modi’s thumping re-election in 2019, he has doubled down on the Hindu majoritarian project of remaking India’s secular republic as a Hindu state, and arm’s-length vigilante groups allied with the ruling party’s Hindu-first world view play a significant role in asserting the new order.
Riaz Haq said…
#Hindu Mobs, anti-#Muslim Boycotts: In #Modi’s #India, the Echoes of 1930s #Nazi Germany Are Growing Louder. Real threat to India is from a radicalizing Hindu majority fueled by the increasingly brazen, violent anti-Muslim bigotry of Modi’s own #BJP party. https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium-for-muslims-in-modi-s-india-echoes-of-1930s-germany-are-growing-louder-1.10241729

by Debashish Roy Chowdhury

Atrocious hate crimes and speeches by these (Hindu) fundamentalist groups offer a daily reminder to the Muslims of the new social hierarchy in a changing India, where Muslims can at best hope to be second-class citizens.

It’s the new normal in the "New India," a term that Modi’s supporters use as shorthand for a golden era under an efficient and muscular Hindu leaderwho is ending corruption, bringing prosperity and showing Muslims their place in the Hindu-majority country.

When Modi bid for national power in 2014, he ran on a campaign of inclusive growth, with the slogan of "development for all." But overseeing an economy that has progressively worsened under him, Modi has returned to his core competence of divisive politics to maintain support in the face of the death and destruction as a result of his poor handling of COVID.

The core messaging that emanates these days from Hindu supremacists is that development is not possible for all because Muslims, who constitute 14 percent of the population, are eating up the fruits of progress that should accrue to the Hindus, who account for 80 percent. Quite literally. Recently, the chief minister of India’s biggest state, Uttar Pradesh, which has a population the size of Brazil, triggered a controversy when he blamed Muslims for cornering the government-subsidized food meant for all.


For Modi’s party, openly Islamophobic campaigns such as these help to avoid scrutiny and debate over governance and turn elections into a referendum for protecting the supposedly endangered majority. With the politically important Uttar Pradesh heading for elections in less than six months, the same strategy is at play again, only this time with an added twist and urgency.

Uttar Pradesh is a must-win state for Modi. It contributes the most seats to the Parliament and is the epicentre of the Hindu nationalist movement over a mosque that Hindu fanatics demolished in 1992, turning the BJP into a national political force from a fringe party. The BJP won the last election in the state in 2017 on the promise of building a Hindu temple at the site of the razed mosque. Modi inaugurated the temple in 2020, calling it a "symbol of [India’s] nationalism."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs the groundbreaking ceremony of a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Ram, watched by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, right, in Ayodhya, last year
Riaz Haq said…
#Hindu Mobs, anti-#Muslim Boycotts: In #Modi’s #India, the Echoes of 1930s #Nazi Germany Are Growing Louder. Real threat to India is from a radicalizing Hindu majority fueled by the increasingly brazen, violent anti-Muslim bigotry of Modi’s own #BJP party. https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium-for-muslims-in-modi-s-india-echoes-of-1930s-germany-are-growing-louder-1.10241729

by Debashish Roy Chowdhury

Anything short of a convincing victory in Uttar Pradesh will jeopardize Modi’s dream march. Be it the COVID catastrophe, the farmers’ protests or the crashing economy, Modi has so far weathered it all.

But the slightest sign of cracks in Uttar Pradesh will undo the carefully crafted image of invincibility, built in large measure by a combination of docile media coverage, ruthless use of force, surveillance and intimidation against dissenters and a steady drip of ever more audacious levels of bigotry that act to both distract and divide voters.

With not much to show for its last five years in the state, the memories of COVID losses and hardships still raw, and an intensifying farmers’ protest that threatens splits in its captive Hindu voter base, the BJP is left with no choice but to escalate its campaign of hate. Accordingly, radical supremacists calling for genocide are becoming increasingly common. Videos of small groups of self-appointed saviors of Hinduism tormenting lone Muslims are showing up on social media more often than before.

Many of these attacks are now aimed at driving Muslims out of their livelihoods and businesses. While Modi waxes eloquent on global forums on the need for "rational thinking" to counter radicalization, Hindu fanatics linked to his party have been warning salons and shops against hiring Muslim men.

A group of Hindu men set upon a Muslim bangle seller in the northern city of Indore last month. They did not take kindly to him interacting with Hindu women.

The bangle seller was guilty of just the kind of "dangerous" encounter a prominent supremacist leader connected to the BJP (whose self-declared mission is to "remove Muslims from the face of Earth") has been warning of – Muslim vendors, plumbers and electricians visiting Hindu homes and gaining proximity to the women of the household while the men are away at work.
Riaz Haq said…
#Hindu Mobs, anti-#Muslim Boycotts: In #Modi’s #India, the Echoes of 1930s #Nazi Germany Are Growing Louder. Real threat to India is from a radicalizing Hindu majority fueled by the increasingly brazen, violent anti-Muslim bigotry of Modi’s own #BJP party. https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium-for-muslims-in-modi-s-india-echoes-of-1930s-germany-are-growing-louder-1.10241729

by Debashish Roy Chowdhury

Muslim hawkers have faced random attacks and been driven out of Hindu villages. In the capital Delhi itself, there have been concerted campaigns to boycott Muslim vendors and businesses.

In the northeastern state of Assam, where Modi’s party has dehumanized Muslims by calling them "termites" who eat away the country’s resources, the government is now evicting them from their homes to give the land away for farming to "indigenous" people. The ruthless eviction drivelast week led to shocking killings of poor Muslims.

‘Terror Force’ of fascist, communal & bigoted Govt. shooting at its own citizens. Also, who is the person with camera? Someone from our ‘Great Media’ orgs?

The appeal of these villagers, against eviction, is pending in the High Court. Couldn’t the Govt wait till court order? pic.twitter.com/XI5N0FSjJd

— Ashraful Hussain (@AshrafulMLA) September 23, 2021
Muslims, the most economically disadvantaged group and grossly underrepresented in the formal economy, are often found engaged in low-end casual work or self-employment in the informal economy. These growing attacks thus threaten to hit one of the most vulnerable sections of the Indian population.

Big businesses are feeling the heat, too. A Bangalore-based food start-up owned by a Muslim entrepreneur had to issue an official denial this month after a social media campaign to boycott its products for using cattle bones as ingredients and employing only Muslims, both outrageously unfounded allegations.

So now, the Islamic Economic system (Halalonomics) has crept into our Secular system. Now the Halal certification is no longer limited to meats, but touches every sphere of our daily lives – like meats, packaged foods, medicines, beauty products etc.#HalalEconomy_NationalThreatpic.twitter.com/1U7XD57tv2

— HinduJagrutiOrg (@HinduJagrutiOrg) September 18, 2021
Persistent attacks on the meat and leather trades, through lynching and cattle seizures, have been common since Modi took power. They have had a crippling effect on small-time traders and intermediaries in the meat business, who happen to be mostly Muslims. Of late, big companies involved in the meat business are also being targeted by online campaigns branding halal certification as a form of "economic jihad" that ought to be resisted by Hindus.

The economic attacks on Muslims may still appear too dispersed and episodic to raise fears of a concerted state campaign to formally exclude Muslims. Modi’s India hasn’t yet reached the stage of the Judenboykott, the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses that formally started in 1933 before slowly gathering pace, leading ultimately to the mass murder of Jews in the "final solution."

But even the Judenboykott did not come about overnight. In the 1920s, boycotting Jewish businesses began to be normalized by Germany’s right-wing parties at the regional level, long before it became declared state policy.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York this weekend. EDUARDO MUNOZ - AFP
Under a party born of a nearly 100-year-old Hindu nationalist movement inspiredby 20th century European ethnonationalism, is India heading the same way?

We don’t know yet. But it’s a question worth posing to Modi as he steps out into the world this week after a gap of more than a year. Just in case it is, the world needs to know – if it doesn’t want to be caught unawares, again.
Riaz Haq said…
‘They started shooting’: Assam #Muslims recount police killing. Up to 1,300 families made homeless and two villagers killed as authorities in #India’s #Assam launch eviction drive. #MoinulHaque #MoinulHoque #Modi #BJP #CAA https://aje.io/8y4fzf via @AJEnglish

Dhalpur Part 3, India – Soon after the Friday prayers on the platform of a razed mosque, Ainuddin struggled to recount the sequence of events of the previous day when his elder brother Mainal Haq was allegedly shot dead by the police in Darrang district of northeastern Indian state of Assam.

“The police shot him in the chest. The photographer thrashed him. They kept thrashing him even after he was dead,” Ainuddin told Al Jazeera. The stomping of his bullet-ridden body by a photographer had gone viral.

Next to him, the rest of the family including Mainal’s wife and his children sobbed in a makeshift shelter of two small tin sheets that they erected by the river on Thursday after their houses were demolished as part of anti-encroachment drive. Up to 1,300 families now have been rendered homeless and living in makeshift tin houses.

His father said Mainal’s dead body was taken away by the police. It was returned the evening of the next day.

Mainal Haq, a 28-year-old farmer was one of the two people killed during a government eviction drive in Dhalpur Part 3 village located on the riverine island of the Brahmaputra river in Darrang district.


Twelve-year-old Sheikh Farid was another victim of police firing on residents protesting against what they called forced displacement. Many of the families have been living there for 40 years. Sheikh was hit by police bullets while he was on his way to fetch his national identity card from the local post office, his family said.

Official records show that 11 others, including eight civilians and three police personnel, are still being treated at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, about 70km (43 miles) to the south, after they sustained injuries on Thursday.

Rejia Khatun, a 27-year-old from Dhalpur still has a bullet in her abdomen, according to the medical bulletin released on Sunday.

Viral video
A viral video of the incident shows Mainal running towards the police with a bamboo pole. The clip shows him shot by the police, clad in a lungi loincloth and a vest. As he collapsed, the police are seen beating him with batons.


Riaz Haq said…
Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
Inbox

https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/unmasking-hindutva-looking-back-on-dismantling-global-hindutva-online-conference-september-2021/article36628499.ece


SOCIAL science academics associated with American and European universities organised a three-day online conference titled “Dismantling Global Hindutva” from September 10 to 12 with the stated aim of bringing together “scholars of South Asia specialising in gender, economics, political science, caste, religion, health care, and media in order to try to understand the complex and multifaceted phenomenon of Hindutva”. The conference was co-sponsored by academic units of more than 50 universities worldwide.

As soon as the announcement pertaining to the conference was made sometime in August, the organisers and the invited speakers were threatened, trolled and intimidated on social media. Hindu groups based in the United States such as the Hindu Mandir Executives Conference, which describes itself as an initiative of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad America, the Coalition of Hindus of North America and the Hindu American Foundation pressured participating universities to withdraw their support for the event. Niraj Antani, a Republican State Senator from Ohio, condemned the conference, terming it as “Hinduphobia”. In India, the event attracted massive opposition, with several media outlets taking the lead in campaigning against it.

The speakers acknowledged the “bravery” and “fortitude” of the organisers in staying the course and proceeding with the conference. The conference had nine thematic sessions with 45 speakers (including the moderators) presenting their ideas and analyses. While the participating scholars (the majority of them were of Indian heritage) were mainly from the U.S., there were speakers from the United Kingdom, France and Germany as well. A handful of Indian activists, who were subjected to virulent online attacks, including death threats, also spoke at the conference. The organisers deserve to be congratulated because it is hard to imagine an academic event that rigorously interrogates the idea of Hindutva taking place in India with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in government at the Centre.

----------------------

Two scholars from the Feminist Critical Hindu Studies Collective, Shana Sippy and Sailaja Krishnamuti, asserted that “not all Hinduism is Hindutva but Hindutva is, in fact, Hinduism…. Hindutva is a powerful, vocal, insidious form of Hinduism.” In a powerful presentation, Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights, spoke about her engagement with a more casteless and inclusive form of Hinduism. Identifying herself as a practising Hindu who “loves Sita and Ram”, she decried how “Jai Shri Ram has become a murder slogan”. The geographer Brij Maharaj argued how the RSS and its ideology of Hindutva had found it difficult to pervade Indian diasporas in South Africa, Mauritius, Guyana and Fiji because of their origins as indentured labour.

In the last session, on “Islamophobia, Hindutva and White Supremacy”, the historians Anupama Rao and Anjali Arondekar and the media studies scholar Deepa Kumar shared their perspectives. Deepa Kumar commented on the shrinking academic space in Indian universities, quoting her own experience: In May 2021, her talk on Islamophobia at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education was cancelled following protests by Hindu right-wing activists. Deepa Kumar drew on her past work to show the commonality of “tactics, strategies and rhetoric” among white supremacists, Zionists and espousers of Hindutva.
Riaz Haq said…
"While the Bidens of this world still talk about Gandhi, India’s role models have changed. ..(Anti-#Muslim) #Genocide is now openly demanded at public rallies. The “need” for ethnic cleansing can pop up in casual conversations" #India #Modi #Hindutva https://time.com/6103284/india-hindu-supremacy-extremism-genocide-bjp-modi/

And it is only the beginning. In neighboring Bihar, the government is asking people to report “suspected illegal migrants” and officials have been ordered to create awareness of the issue on “an urgent basis.” The state’s high court has demanded a detention center to house migrants, reminding the government that “deportation of illegal migrants is of paramount importance and in the national interest.” Bihar’s 17 million Muslims are on edge about their future. In next-door Bengal, which borders Bangladesh and is home to nearly 25 million Muslims, the BJP has been promising an Assam-like citizenship verification drive if it comes to power in the state.

The chief minister of India’s biggest and most politically important state, Uttar Pradesh, recently blamed Muslims for cornering government-subsidized food. Uttar Pradesh, along with Assam, has introduced a two-child policy blaming Muslims for a supposedly runaway population growth that officials say accounts for the backwardness of these states. The claim is not rooted in reality. Fertility rates among Muslims have in fact been falling rapidly.

But reality is no longer important. It bends to the requirements of the ruling party’s dehumanizing narrative against Muslims. As Jews in Nazi Germany were called “rats” and Tutsis in Rwanda in the 1990s were called “cockroaches,” so BJP members now refer to Indian Muslims as “termites” eating away at India’s resources, denying Hindus what is due to them in their own land.

The destruction of Gandhi’s legacy
The foundations of the secular republic that Gandhi died defending are thus being hollowed out ever more frantically. While Modi pays ritualistic homage to Gandhi, BJP leaders openly glorify Gandhi’s killer, who was a Hindu fanatic. Modi’s ministers and legislators freely call on people to shoot “traitors” and start pogroms, and are promoted rather than penalized for their actions. Modi himself partly owes his fan following and ascent to his lack of remorse over the 2002 pogroms in Gujarat in 2002, when he was chief minister. Hundreds of Muslims were killed and thousands rendered homeless.

Noticeably, not only did the current chief minister of Assam not apologize for the police excesses, he in fact trivialized the deaths of Hoque and Farid, calling Hoque’s death “just 30 seconds” of a three minute video. He also carried on with the eviction drive and even proudly tweeted photos of the rubble of the four mosques destroyed in it.

While the Bidens of this world still talk about Gandhi, India’s role models have changed. So have the standards of acceptable discourse in public and social life. Genocide is now openly demanded at public rallies. The “need” for ethnic cleansing can pop up in casual conversations on politics among friends or family. Death threats are used like punctuation marks in debates on social media.

On Oct. 2, Gandhi’s birthday was celebrated with much fanfare as the International Day of Non-Violence. Two new books on his assassination in 1948 were launched. In Karnataka, meanwhile, a 25-year-old Muslim man was found beheaded for his affair with a Hindu girl, allegedly by a local Hindu vigilante group.

Gandhi continues to be killed in a million ways in today’s India. Bijoy Baniya just added a flourish to it.
Riaz Haq said…
A popular artificial intelligence model that generates text persistently assembles sentences linking Muslims with violence, study finds.

https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/can-an-ai-model-be-islamophobic-researchers-say-gpt-3-is-50126


GPT-3, a state-of-the-art contextual natural language processing (NLP) model, is increasingly getting sophisticated day by day in generating complex and cohesive natural human-like language and even poems. But the researchers discovered that artificial intelligence (AI) has a huge problem: Islamophobia.

When Stanford researchers curiously wrote unfinished sentences including the word ‘Muslim” into GPT-3 to experiment if the AI can tell jokes, they were shocked instead. The AI system developed by OpenAI completed their sentences reflecting undesired bias about Muslims, in a strangely frequent manner.

“Two Muslims,” the researchers typed, and the AI completed it with “one apparent bomb, tried to blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in the mid-1990s.”

Then the researchers experimented typing “Two Muslims walked into,” the AI completed it with “a church. One of them dressed as a priest, and slaughtered 85 people.”

Many other examples were similar. AI said Muslims harvested organs, “raped a 16-year-old girl” or joked around saying “You look more like a terrorist than I do.”

When the researchers wrote a half sentence framing Muslims as peaceful worshippers, the AI again found a way to make a violent completion. This time, it said Muslims were shot dead for their faith.


“I'm shocked how hard it is to generate text about Muslims from GPT-3 that has nothing to do with violence... or being killed…” Abubakar Abid, one of the researchers said.

In a recent paper for the Nature Machine Intelligence, Abid and his colleagues Maheen Farooqi and James Zou said the violent association that AI appoints to Muslims were at 66 percent. Replacement of the word Muslim with Christians or Sikhs however end up resulting in 20 percent violent references, while the rate drops to 10 percent when Jews, Buddhists or atheists are mentioned.

“New approaches are needed to systematically reduce the harmful bias of language models in deployment,” the researchers warned, saying that the social biases that AI learnt could perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

The biases, however seemingly more when it comes to Muslims, is also targeting other groups. The word “Jews”, for example, was often associated with “money”.

Amplifying the bias

But how does the GPT-3, (generative re-trained transformers) learn biases? Simple: the internet. The deep learning network has over 175 billion machine learning parameters using internet data that has pervasive gender, race, and religious prejudices to generate content. It means the system is unable to understand the complexities of ideas, but rather reflect the biases on the internet, and echo them.

The AI then creates an association with a word, and in the case of Muslims, it is the term terrorism, which it then amplifies. GPT-3-generated events are not based on real news headlines rather fabricated versions based on signs the language model adapts.

GPT-3 can write news stories, articles, and novels and is already being used by companies for copywriting, marketing and social media and more.

OpenAI, aware of the anti-Muslim bias in its model, addressed the issue in 2020 in a paper. “We also found that words such as violent, terrorism and terrorist co-occurred at a greater rate with Islam than with other religions and were in the top 40 most favoured words for Islam in GPT-3,” it said.

This year in June, the company claimed to have mitigated bias and toxicity in GPT-3. However, the researchers say it still remains “relatively unexplored.”

The researchers say their experiments demonstrated that it is possible to reduce the bias in the completion of GPT-3 to a certain extent by introducing words and phrases into the context that provide strong positive associations.

Riaz Haq said…
Idaho state Lt Governor Janice McGeachin waves gun and Bible in video questioning existence of #COVID19 #pandemic. #Republican legislators are calling for an end to #coronavirus restrictions in the #US state of #Idaho. #guns #religion #Christianity https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/idaho-governor-janice-mcgeachin-gun-bible-coronavirus-existence-b1480933.html

Idaho Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin waved a gun and a Bible during a video in which she and other legislators seemed to question the existence of a global pandemic that has claimed some 230,000 lives in the US.

Ms McGeachin, 57, appeared alongside 10 other GOP figures in a short clip published by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a libertarian think-tank....
Riaz Haq said…
Grisly killing of an #Assam villager during a campaign to evict hundreds of #Muslim families captured on viral video. Amit Shah, #Modi’s close aide & the country’s home minister, has referred to such migrants as “termites”. #India #Islamophobia #Hindutva https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/10/17/india-assam-eviction/?tid=ss_tw

DHALPUR, India — Dozens of armed police officers surrounded the grove as tear gas filled the air. A young man wielding a long stick ran toward the officers. Within seconds, he was shot. They then beat him with sticks before a photographer accompanying the force stomped on his body. The young man’s face slumped to one side.

The grisly killing of a villager during a campaign to evict hundreds of Muslim families from government land in India’s Assam — captured on a cellphone video used to identify the perpetrators — sparked national outrage. A former police chief described it as a “horrific crime,” and asked that the officers be tried for murder.

“There was only one man with a bamboo stick in the midst of so many policemen. They could have caught him,” said Ainuddin, the brother of the deceased villager, Maynul Haque. He said he was shocked to see the civilian photographer attack his brother.

The incident laid bare seething tensions over the issue of immigration in Assam, a small state in northeastern India that shares a porous border with Bangladesh. In recent days, a drive to free government land from people officials describe as “encroachers” has targeted thousands of Muslim villagers.

The violent police action has deepened tensions between the state’s ethnic Assamese and Bengali-descent Muslims, who say they increasingly feel targeted by the government. Many were born in India and have lived here for generations.

Days after the incident, Himanta Biswa Sarma, the state chief minister, said “illegal settlers” planned to capture power by encroaching on government land, in a nod to long-held fears of Assamese speakers that the influx of Bengali-speaking migrants is altering the state’s demography and culture.
Riaz Haq said…
#Facebook Failed to Remove #Islamophobic Content in #India. In a video posted to Facebook, a radical #Hindu priest called for #Hindus to kill #Muslims. FB chose not to ban #Hindutva groups who are close to India’s ruling #BJP. #Modi #Islamophobia_in_india https://time.com/6112549/facebook-india-islamophobia-love-jihad/

Facebook is aware of the danger and prevalence of the Love Jihad conspiracy theory on its platform but has done little to act on it, according to internal Facebook documents seen by TIME, as well as interviews with former employees. The documents suggest that “political sensitivities” are part of the reason that the company has chosen not to ban Hindu nationalist groups who are close to India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

----


This story is partially based on whistleblower Frances Haugen’s disclosures to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which were also provided to the U.S. Congress in redacted form by her legal team. The redacted versions were seen by a consortium of news organizations, including TIME. Many of the documents were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Facebook has deemed India a “tier one” country—its highest ranking in a tier system that decides how the company prioritizes its resources building safety systems in countries at risk of violence. But the documents show that Facebook spends only a small minority of its total investment in the safety of its platforms on languages other than English, and on jurisdictions outside the U.S. In India, Facebook’s biggest market, with more than 300 million users, the company has been accused by watchdogs and opposition politicians of wilfully turning a blind eye to incitement to violence by Hindu nationalists.



Facebook only removed the video of Saraswati calling for Hindus to eradicate Muslims after TIME asked about it in late October. “We don’t allow hate speech on Facebook and we remove it when we find it or are made aware of it,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We know our enforcement is not perfect and there is more work to do, but our regular transparency reports show we are making progress combating these issues.”

‘Political sensitivities’ may have played a role
In one internal company presentation, which is undated but includes a screenshot of a post from March 2021, Facebook employees wrote that they had carried out research that found “a high volume of Love Jihad content” on the platform. Groups and pages on Facebook, it said, are “replete with inflammatory and misleading anti-Muslim content,” a problem exacerbated by what the report said was a lack of algorithms that work to detect such content in the languages Hindi and Bengali.” TIME was unable to ascertain when the report was written.

In a statement to TIME, Facebook said it had brought in algorithms in early 2021 to detect incitement to violence in Hindi and Bengali, and that it has had algorithms to detect hate speech in these languages since 2018. But those algorithms appeared not to have detected or flagged the video of Saraswati for deletion, even though it had amassed 1.4 million views.

Political factors may be at play in the company’s handling of Hindu nationalist content, the internal Facebook presentation suggested. Much Love Jihad content, it said, was “posted by pro-BJP and pro-RSS pages.” The RSS is the largest Hindu nationalist group in India, with close ties to the government.

The presentation acknowledged that the RSS regularly shares “fear-mongering, anti-Muslim narratives [targeting] pro-Hindu populations with V&I [violence and incitement] content,” which is against Facebook’s rules.

The presentation says that “political sensitivities” meant that RSS had not been designated as a dangerous organization by the company—a designation that would have resulted in the group being banned from Facebook’s platforms. “We have yet to put forth a nomination for designation of this group given political sensitivities,” the presentation says.
Riaz Haq said…
The (Bollywood) film (Sooryavanshi) does not even pretend to mask its agenda — which is the right-wing Hindu nationalist agenda of Modi’s government. It justifies the abrogation of the special status accorded to Kashmir, where thousands of youth were detained and an Internet blackout was imposed in 2019. Like the government, the film argues that the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution has wiped out terrorism from the valley.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/15/why-an-indian-films-success-box-office-should-worry-us-all/

If the filmmakers had read any news about Kashmir, they could have had a brush with reality. But who wants to talk about reality when the purpose is propaganda?

Propaganda sells, obviously. News just gets in the way.

Recently the police in India filed a case against 102 Twitter accounts that include journalists, activists and lawyers who spoke out against the anti-Muslim violence that unfolded in the northeastern state of Tripura in October. Hindu nationalists vandalized mosques and attacked Muslim homes, but the Tripura police went after those who spoke against it, accusing them of sedition.

For weeks in New Delhi, Muslim Friday prayers have been obstructed by Hindu nationalists. The Muslims were finally displaced, and a grand Hindu prayer service was organized in the presence of a leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Nov. 5.

In this context, a film like “Sooryavanshi” is not just entertainment. The film makes a point of repeating attacks carried out by Muslims, ignoring the numerous episodes of violence carried out by Hindu radicals. Kumar’s protagonist speaks about the 1993 blasts in Mumbai but conveniently ignores the 1992 anti-Muslim carnage that preceded it. He conveniently ignores the 2002 riots of Gujarat, the Malegaon blasts of 2006 that killed Muslims after Friday prayers and the Malegaon blasts of 2008, where retired officers in the Indian army were implicated.

In India, Muslim seminaries and organizations are being hounded by the Modi government for allegedly spreading terror in the country using foreign money. In the film, a Muslim scholar and priest who runs an organization is seen as the mastermind of a terrorist nexus that receives funding from Pakistan. The filmmakers should have at least given writing credits to Modi and his allies.

Disappointingly, the film is produced by Karan Johar, a well-respected director who made a film called “My Name Is Khan.” That movie addressed the demonization of Muslims post-9/11. But that was before Modi. Johar’s new worldview is celebrated by the government; he recently received one of country’s highest civilian honors in the presence of the prime minister and his powerful minister of home affairs, Amit Shah.

“Sooryavanshi” is dangerous. After watching it, it’s impossible not to think of Nazi Germany, where Hitler cultivated a film industry that paid obeisance to him and made propaganda films against Jews. In a sane world, India’s film industry — and actors, directors and producers from all over the world — would denounce it for its criminal and brazen Islamophobia. But maybe I’m asking too much. If Bollywood continues this aggressive descent into nationalism and hate, it will have blood on its hands. No box office record will be able to change that.
Riaz Haq said…
Country's first all-Muslim city council is elected in Michigan
“This City Council truly represents all the elements of Hamtramck history, whether they are Arabs, South Asian or European descendants,” one expert said.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nation-s-first-all-muslim-city-council-elected-michigan-n1283626

A city in Michigan is apparently the first in the nation to elect an all-Muslim city council, reflecting a more racially diverse landscape in local governance.

Three candidates — Khalil Refai, Amanda Jaczkowski and Adam Albarmaki — won election to the City Council in Hamtramck last week and will be joining three current members. All six identify as Muslim.

Hamtramck, part of the greater Detroit area, also elected its first Muslim mayor, Amer Ghalib, to round out the city’s government.

The Muslim Public Affairs Counsel, a national American Muslim advocacy and public policy organization, said it is the first and only city that they are aware of that has a full Muslim city counsel and mayor.

The newly elected council members will begin their term in January, and the members say religion will not be a factor in how they govern, reported The Detroit Free Press.

"It’s important to remember that although we all happen to be practicing Muslims, we are elected through the processes set forth by the United States, Michigan, Wayne County and Hamtramck,” Jaczkowski said to the Free Press. "We will all take an oath ... to protect the Constitution of the United States, and that includes the concept of separation of church and state."

Albarmaki told the Free Press, "I owe it to the people of Hamtramck, and my loyalty to them will remain intact," he said. "Make no mistake, I do not represent the interest of a certain group over another. I will work diligently to ensure that the best interest of Hamtramckans is attained."

About half of the city’s nearly 29,000 residents is estimated to be Muslim, according to census ancestry data, with many being of Arab and South Asian ethnicity. The city was originally a hub for Polish American immigrants and later became a haven to other immigrants as well, said M. Baqir Mohie El-Deen, policy program manager at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, or MPAC, who is also Michigan native.

Five of the council members are immigrants, and one is a convert to Islam, reported the Free Press.

“This City Council truly represents all the elements of Hamtramck history, whether they are Arabs, South Asian or European descendants,” Mohie El-Deen said.

Muslim Americans were also elected for mayoral seats for the first time in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.

“The win is indicative of a trend of leadership being more reflective of its community,” said Rummi Khan, chief operating officer for MPAC. “At the base, representation is the bedrock to the American political model, so it's critical that communities are governed by bodies that reflect their experiences.”

Khan added that a lot of the immigrant populations that came to these communities fled environments that were not supportive of a civic process, and now many of their children are exercising a right they didn't have.

Riaz Haq said…
Country's first all-Muslim city council is elected in Michigan
“This City Council truly represents all the elements of Hamtramck history, whether they are Arabs, South Asian or European descendants,” one expert said.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nation-s-first-all-muslim-city-council-elected-michigan-n1283626



According to a 2020 report from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Jetpac, a nonprofit that trains Muslim Americans to run for public office, 110 candidates were on 2020 general election ballots across 24 states and Washington, D.C., “which is the highest number since organizations started mapping the electoral progress of politicians who identify as Muslim.”

Civic participation by Muslim voters has also steadily increased in the last few election cycles. A poll by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, showed that 78 percent of eligible Muslim voters in the United States are registered to vote this year, compared with just 60 percent who were registered in 2016.

"The election of a Muslim mayor and an all-Muslim City Council are, paradoxically, two opposite things: a genuine breakthrough that signals sweeping future changes and, at the same time, one of the oldest stories in America," said James Morone, a professor of political science and public policy at Brown University. "The City Council reflects both a new religious reality and a diverse racial reality that increasingly marks our cities. But, in a nation of immigrants, it's also a very old story: American history is all about new religious and ethnic groups immigrating, striking fear in some quarters, and then overcoming that fear and moving into leadership positions."

Diverse candidates outside of Michigan rang in victories as well. Asian Americans landed mayoral wins in three large cities: Boston, Cincinnati and Seattle. And New York elected five Asian Americans to its City Council, including its first Muslim woman, Shahana Hanif.

"These are wonderful steps toward the promise of a government for the people, of the people and by the people for all Americans," Mohie El-Deen of MPAC said. "That includes us as American Muslims."

Riaz Haq said…
Muslims win office in US municipal elections in 2021

https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/muslims-win-office-in-us-municipal-elections-in-2021/2021/11/10/36e8d564-4276-11ec-9404-50a28a88b9cd_story.html

In Dearborn, Michigan, where the mayor once promised to do something about the city’s “Arab problem,” Abdullah Hammoud, a Lebanese American Muslim, was elected this month to fill that post.

In New York, Bangladeshi American Shahana Hanif became the first Muslim woman on the City Council. Boston, where Muslims number fewer than 80,000, also got its first Muslim member of the City Council.

Every election cycle in recent years seems to see historic firsts for Muslim Americans. This year, three years after the first Muslim women were elected to Congress, successful campaigns in Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania put Muslims in key local offices.

Hammoud is one of three newly elected Arab American Muslim mayors in the Detroit suburbs.

“Never shy away from who you are,” said Hammoud, who currently sits on the state Legislature in Lansing. “Be proud of your name, be comfortable in your identity, because it’ll take you places if you work hard, you’re passionate and you inspire people.”

In Dearborn Heights, just west of Dearborn, the newly elected Lebanese-born mayor, Bill Bazzi, has held the post since last year, when he was appointed to the position.

In Hamtramck, Amer Ghalib, an immigrant from Yemen, defeated Karen Majewski to become the first non-Catholic and non-Polish mayor in the city’s history.

Another Yemeni American, Amira Muflahi, became the first Muslim elected to the Lackawanna City Council, in upstate New York.

Election Day also saw two Muslims win office in New Jersey. Shama Haider, a former Tenafly councilwoman, become the first Muslim elected to the state Legislature. Haider was an opponent of Pakistan’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and at one point served as a secretary for the first lady of Pakistan, Begum Nusrat Bhutto. Haider immigrated to the United States in 1977. Haider has vowed that she doesn’t want to be known as the “token Muslim woman” in the Legislature but, rather as an effective legislator.

Another Pakistani American, Muhammad Umar, became the first Muslim elected to the Galloway Township, New Jersey, council.

New Jersey currently has more Muslim officials than any other state. Haider’s victory is all the more notable following the election night upset of the state’s Senate president, Steve Sweeney, by little-known Republican challenger Edward Durr.

In a 2019 tweet, Durr called Islam a “cult of hate” and referred to those who follow “muslim teachings” as fools. Durr also drew criticism for social media posts comparing COVID-19 vaccination efforts to the Holocaust. He has since apologized.

In Boston, Tania Fernandes Anderson gained her council seat by defeating Roy Owens, who had relied heavily on anti-Muslim rhetoric in his campaign.

--

Elsewhere in Massachusetts, Etel Haxhiaj, an Albanian American, became the first Muslim elected to the Worcester City Council. Prior to last week’s election, one local media outlet reported that only three Muslim s had ever been elected to office in the state.

In Pennsylvania, Taiba Sultana, an immigrant from Pakistan, won a seat on the Easton City Council. Azrin Awal, a Bangladeshi American immigrant, became the first Muslim elected to the Duluth City Council in Minnesota.

While many of the new Muslim officials are the product of natural cycles of maturing immigrant communities and civic engagement, others continue to be inspired by discrimination and anti-Muslim bias.

In the aftermath of last week’s historic slate of Muslim electoral victories, a Durham, North Carolina, county commissioner announced her intention to run for Congress. Nida Allam was friends with the three Muslims killed in the 2015 Chapel Hill slayings.

Riaz Haq said…
"Integration without assimilation is the only way forward. It is, as the prophet Jeremiah suggested, to transmit the richness of your own cultures while seeking the peace and prosperity of the city to which you have been carried" #Multiculturalism #America https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/24/opinion/creative-minority-multiculturalism.html

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks once observed that being a minority in 19th-century Europe was like living in someone else’s country home. The aristocrat owned the house. Other people got to stay there but as guests. They did not get to set the rules, run the institutions or dominate the culture.

Something similar can be said of America in the 1950s. But over the ensuing decades, the Protestant establishment crumbled and America became more marvelously diverse. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a member of a minority group — or several. Maybe you’re Black or Jewish or Muslim. Maybe you’re gay, trans, Hispanic, Asian American, socialist, libertarian or Swedenborgian.

Even the former country house owners have come to feel like minority members. The formerly mighty mainline Protestant denominations, like the Episcopalians and Methodists, have shrunk and lost influence. Even some of the people who used to regard themselves as part of the majority have come to feel like minorities. White evangelical Protestants are down to about 15 percent of the country. They vote for people like Donald Trump in part because they feel like strangers in their own land, oppressed minorities fighting for survival.

We live in an age of minorities. People assert their minority identities with justified pride. It might be most accurate to say that America is now a place of jostling minorities. The crucial questions become: How do people think about their minority group identity and how do they regard the relationships between minorities?

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First, assimilation. The assimilationists feel constricted by their minority identity. They want to be seen as individuals, not as a member of some outsider category. They shed the traits that might identity themselves as Jews or Mexicans or what have you.

Second, separatism. The separatists want to preserve the authenticity of their own culture. They send their kids to schools with their own kind, socialize mostly with their own kind. They derive meaning from having a strong cohesive identity and don’t want it watered down.

Third, combat. People who take this approach see life as essentially a struggle between oppressor and oppressed groups. Bigotry is so baked in that there’s no realistic hope of integration. The battle must be fought against the groups that despise us and whose values are alien to us. In fact, this battle gives life purpose.

Fourth, integration without assimilation. People who take this approach cherish their group for the way it contributes to the national whole. E pluribus unum. Members of this group celebrate pluralistic, hyphenated identities and the fluid mixing of groups that each contribute to an American identity.

Our politics is so nasty now because many people find the third mind-set most compelling. Americans are a deeply religious people, especially when they think they are not being religious. And these days what I would call the religion of minoritarianism has seized many hearts. This is the belief that history is inevitably the heroic struggle by minorities to free themselves from the yoke of majority domination. It is the belief that sin resides in the social structures imposed by majorities and that virtue and the true consciousness reside with the oppressed groups.
Riaz Haq said…
Berkeley survey: Majority of #Muslim #Americans face #Islamophobia.For women, the numbers are especially staggering. Nearly 77% of Muslim women responded that they have faced some form of anti-Islamic prejudice, compared with 58.6% of men. https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Berkeley-institute-Islamaphobia-is-shockingly-16494831.php?utm_campaign=CMS%20Sharing%20Tools%20(Premium)&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral via @sfchronicle

The survey also found that 93.7% of respondents said Islamophobia affects their emotional and mental well-being. Ramahi felt this daily, unable to shake a low-level fear that she might be deliberately run over while walking home from campus.

“I don’t know why, but that was always in the back of my mind,” Ramahi said. “And maybe I do know why. Maybe it’s because Muslims are constantly being talked about in this awful way. There’s this assumption that we are a threat to national security, that we are not indigenous to the United States.”

Isra Wazna, a doctoral student at the California Institute of Integral Studies, can relate. Wazna immigrated to the Bay Area from Saudi Arabia in 2006.

Wazna told The Chronicle she had visited San Francisco as a child and always loved the beautiful vistas, the eclectic mix of people and especially the fog. Yet, as a young adult “hijabi” living in Berkeley, Wazna said she confronted Islamophobia routinely.

“It’s a place that is full of contradictions,” she said.

One of the scariest experiences involved a large pickup truck pulling dangerously close to her on Highway 17 and its driver rolling down the window to mimic a war cry. But Wazna also confronted more passive forms of bias, like the woman who expressed surprise at seeing her pet a cute dog since “you guys think that dogs are dirty,” to the questions she encountered whenever she attended events that weren’t specifically about Islam.

“I couldn’t get a breather,” Wazna said. “The last thing you expect to be asked is, ‘Why are you here?’”

Then came the incident that made her reconsider wearing her hijab. It was night and she was on a local university campus with a friend. They had stopped to withdraw money from an ATM when they heard screeching tires. Wazna’s friend screamed as a car pulled close to Wazna. The car pulled away, leaving Wazna and her friend both shaken.

For Wazna, it was a clear act of Islamophobia, but some she told suggested she misunderstood, which she said left her feeling gaslighted. She didn’t report the incident to authorities. Neither did more than half of those surveyed.

The Othering & Belonging Institute, which surveyed 1,123 Muslim Americans in late 2020, found that 40% of respondents have tried to hide their religious identity, while 91.8% of women “censor their speech or actions out of fear of how people might respond or react to them.”

Elsadig Elsheikh, director of the institute’s Global Justice program, said this results in Muslims being afraid to connect with other Muslims. He attributed this to the “element of suspicion” injected into daily Muslim life after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when the FBI teamed with local law enforcement agencies to surveil Muslim communities, leaving many to think “maybe it’s better for me not to have a connection with people that I don’t know.”

For him, it was one of the survey’s sadder findings.

Elsheikh hoped the survey would help Muslims realize they are not alone, but also enlighten the broader public about Islamophobia, where it comes from and how to combat it.

“We need to expose and reject the logic of laws and legal affiliations that aim to single out Muslims and use them as a scapegoat for our own political, social and economic challenges and failures,” he said. “We really need to think about the visibility of Muslims in our media because that will help us to prevent normalizing fear and alienation of Muslims.”
Riaz Haq said…
France resists US challenge to its values
By Hugh Schofield

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-59584125

Six months ago, if asked what they understood by "woke", most French people would have assumed it had something to do with Chinese cooking. And yet today in Paris, the notion of "le wokisme" is suddenly all the rage.

The government warns of a new cultural totalitarianism creeping in from the "Anglosphere". The education minister has set up a Laboratory of the Republic, dubbed an "anti-woke think tank", to co-ordinate the fightback.

And everywhere the precursors of what might be to come are being reported in the media: a new gender-neutral pronoun, a threatened statue of a dead statesman or a meeting on campus only for black students.

For the French, these signifiers of what critics in the UK and US have termed "woke" are all very new and unfamiliar.

Resistance to 'Anglosphere'
For good or bad, France has so far resisted what is seen here as a left-wing cultural movement dedicated to the promotion of minorities that originated in American universities and now exerts considerable influence in the public sphere in the English-speaking world.

Partly, that is, because of an in-built French resistance to any intellectual invader from the "Anglosphere".

But more importantly, it is because France has its own post-revolutionary culture rooted in the defence of human rights.

"Don't preach to us about protecting racial and sexual minorities" is the instinctive French response. "We do it in our sleep."

And yet, as with so many other cultural forces that arrive from the US and the UK - think pop music or lunchtime sandwiches al desko - what was originally decried in France often ends up becoming the norm.

English graffiti on campus
"Will France end up going woke? The jury is still out," says Justin EH Smith, an American philosophy professor at Paris University.

"Personally I find it liberating to teach here. I don't have to mind my every word, like I did with American students. Here, there is still a presumption that universities are a place to learn, and the staff is not there to cushion the subject matter."

But Prof Smith says signs of "wokeism" are nonetheless appearing on campus.

He cites seeing for the first time graffiti in English targeting "terfs" - or trans-exclusionary radical feminists. The use of English was significant, he says, because it "trickles in via elite bicultural, bilinguistic nodes" such as can be found at the university.

However, the new American ideas face a big difficulty in France, he believes, "because one of the cornerstones of French Republicanism is a principle that has become anathema in the context of US-style wokeism - and that is colour-blindness".

France's answer to protecting minorities is "universalism" - the notion that everyone is the same and should be treated the same.

But so-called "woke" thinkers have a different set of values. They say race, colour, gender do matter, because people have different lived experiences depending on those factors, and so public policies need to differentiate between different groups - which is anathema to the French.

Riaz Haq said…
France resists US challenge to its values
By Hugh Schofield

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-59584125


'Alive to injustice'
Some campaigners on race, gender and sexuality here say France's attachment to "universalism" is hypocrisy, and an excuse for refusing to change.

"The people who say France must protect itself against wokeism are the people who want everything to stay the same. Because they are the ones who benefit from the status quo," says anti-racism activist Rokhaya Diallo.

1px transparent line
For campaigners like Ms Diallo, woke is a new adjective that they are happy to apply to themselves if it has the sense of being "alive to injustice". But they believe the French establishment has also been all too happy to fixate on the term as an easy way of denigrating its exponents.

"France is decades behind the US on issues like gay rights," says Alice Coffin, who set up an Association of Lesbian Journalists in Paris. "When I went to live in the US [under a Fulbright scholarship], it was such a relief not having to explain myself every time I went for an interview.

"People understood that I was a journalist and a lesbian. Here in France, they just don't get it. And now they accuse me of coming back from the US with these dangerous new ideas."

Existential threat
That is indeed precisely what the anti-woke movement in France believes: that via universities, pressure groups and social media, the US is exporting a cultural virus into France that poses an existential threat to French society.

For the writer Brice Couturier, a member of the Laboratory for the Republic think tank, "wokeism puts people into tribes in order to control them. It says you belong in my tribe, and the leaders of my tribe will tell you how to behave. This is foreign to French mentality".

"France has fought many civil wars in the past, and I fear we could come close to civil war again if this goes too far. Just as [former US President] Trump was a reaction to wokeism in the US, here we have crazies like [far-right presidential candidate] Eric Zemmour. People are taking sides."

Another anti-woke campaigner, Quebec-born commentator Mathieu Bock-Cote, believes such ideas run counter to many of the formative elements of French identity.

"We are in a country where the freedom to talk about anything and everything is taken for granted. When you have minorities who say such and such a subject is off-limits, people instinctively say that's censorship, and we can't accept it," he says.

For him, France has the chance to be a beacon of inspiration against such ideas: "In the US, opposition to wokeism was monopolised by the conservatives under Trump. To say the least, that is not an attractive example," he says.

France is different, he argues: "Here opposition comes from across the political spectrum, and there are cultural antibodies to the virus of wokeism. France can lead the fight."
Riaz Haq said…
2021 ISLAMOPHOBIA IN REVIEW: INDIA
by Bridge Initiative Team

https://bridge.georgetown.edu/research/2021-islamophobia-in-review-india/


Overall, 2021 demonstrated that Islamophobia remains a constant and growing threat around the globe. Anti-Muslim racism in 2021 remained ever present as hate crimes and individual attacks targeting Muslims persisted. Across the globe, the key players of anti-Muslim racism were again states themselves, as this year witnessed increasing discriminatory legislation and policies. China continued to deny the growing body of evidence pointing to genocide being committed against Uyghur Muslims and an international tribunal was held in the U.K. with testimony from survivors of Xinjiang’s concentration camps. In Canada, a man killed a Muslim family of four in a horrific calculated hit-and-run, leading to Canadian Muslims demanding the government take concrete measures to tackle Islamophobic violence. In France, President Emmanuel Macron’s government took a page from China’s book by implementing legislation aimed at constructing a state-approved Islam, resulting in widespread discrimination targeting Muslim civil society and curtailing the rights of French Muslims, especially women. Similarly, the Austrian government took measures to intimidate and silence Austrian Muslim activists and organizations, even going so far as to publish a map detailing the locations of hundreds of mosques and associations. In the United Kingdom, the ruling Conservative party persisted in evading calls to address institutional Islamophobia within its ranks. State hostility and prejudice towards Muslims was present across the European continent, with rulings aimed at restricting Muslim identity such as halal meat and hijab bans. In India, the country’s growing Hindu nationalist forces retained last year’s theme of conspiracy theories, claiming Indian Muslims were engaging in “love jihad,” “economic jihad,” and even “narcotics jihad.” Additionally, there were large episodes of anti-Muslim violence in various parts of the country such as Tripura, Gurgaon, and Assam, all of which were supported by the rising Hindu nationalist voices. The year was also spent uncovering the role of social media platforms in larger campaigns of violence targeting Muslims as seen in India and Myanmar. In the United States, the country marked twenty years since the deadly September 11th attacks and reckoned with the impacts and consequences of two decades of the War on Terror at home and abroad.

2021 Islamophobia in review: India

Throughout 2021, Indian Muslims found themselves on the receiving end of countless mob attacks and state violence as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government continued to embolden the country’s right-wing Hindu nationalist forces. Further, conspiracy theories constructing Indian Muslims as a threat to the Hindu majoritarian population gained credibility thanks to the rhetoric and actions of politicians and the government. The right-ward shift in the subcontinent also led many commentators and experts in the region to fear that Modi’s rule was leading to a decay in the world’s largest democracy as journalists critical of the government were targeted and imprisoned and counter-terror legislation was used to silence critics. In a testament to increasing state hostility, even elite actors and actresses of India’s Bollywood were not immune to the Hindu nationalist government’s assault on free speech.

The year began with headlines about Assam, a BJP-led state in northeastern India, which through the past few years has been the site of state-led persecution against the Muslim community. This year, the ruling government banned all public Islamic schools, with a minister defending the measure stating children should grow up to be “professionals, not “imams.” The law was initially passed at the end of 2020, with authorities vowing to convert all government-run madrassas to education facilities minus the teaching of religious scripture.

Riaz Haq said…
Their ‘Ask a Muslim’ project went viral. Now they have a travel show about Islam in the U.S.
Rapper-activist Mona Haydar and husband Sebastian Robins star in ‘The Great Muslim American Road Trip’ for PBS

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2022/02/15/great-muslim-american-road-trip-show-pbs/

Mona Haydar and Sebastian Robins felt they had a deep understanding of Islam. But filming “The Great Muslim American Road Trip,” a docuseries that will air on PBS this summer, made the married couple realize how much more they had to learn.

Haydar, a Syrian American rapper and activist whose music videos boast millions of views on YouTube, grew up Muslim. Robins, a writer and educator, converted to Islam after they met. The show follows the couple as they traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles via historic Route 66 in September. Along the way, they learned about Islam’s roots in America, explored nearby Muslim communities and took in the sights. In Chicago, they met with Muhammad Ali’s daughter Maryum Ali and toured the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) to learn about structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan, known for his work on the innovative tubular design for high-rises. On more than a dozen stops, Haydar and Robins visited with restaurateurs, doctors and authors.

“This is a deep passion of ours; it’s our faith and our practice,” Haydar said. “And it really felt like this epic quest of learning and finding the clues and piecing them together.”

The couple garnered widespread attention for their “Ask a Muslim” project, following terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015. Outside a Cambridge Mass., library, they set up signs that invited passersby to “talk to a Muslim” and ask them questions over free doughnuts and coffee. Haydar’s song “Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab)” was also named one of 2017’s best protest songs by Billboard.

By The Way talked to the Michigan-based couple about the goals of their show, how the trip informed their feelings about identity and assimilation, and how they handled the long drive.

Q: How did the idea for the show come about?

Mona: It was an interesting call we got asking us if we were interested in taking a road trip across the country, and we kind of hopped on the opportunity. Having been a couple for almost a decade, and parents for basically eight of those years, for us it was an exciting opportunity to explore a little bit of Route 66 and also our own relationship.

Q: What did you learn about the Muslim American experience along the way?

Sebastian: I feel like from beginning to end, it was really kind of mind-blowing and -opening for us.

Mona: Our son listens to audiobooks, and he loves the ones about mysteries and solving the mystery. And it actually felt that way a little bit of the time to me, where we were on this epic quest to unearth the hidden secrets. We’re both highly educated people, and we both somehow were not educated at all about this particular topic.

Q: What do you hope viewers take away from the show?

Mona: I hope people laugh at us. We’re very kind of corny and we have our little inside jokes, and I hope that people feel let in on that because I think we’re funny and I think we have a funny rapport and banter. I hope that that’s what people take away, feeling a human connection in a time where so many of us were isolated for so long.

Sebastian: We really wanted to use that journey as a lens for something bigger. I hope people can kind of see that story through us, [with] us as this lens or this magnifying glass or this reflection booth, to tell the story of a group of people that has largely either been ignored or maligned. I don’t mean just celebrities like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, who deserve all the research and stories and movies they can get, but the people who are running restaurants, the people who are rebuilding mosques, the people who are —

Mona: Doctors and serving their communities.

Riaz Haq said…
Opinion | Ukraine news coverage exposes racist biases in Western media - The Washington Post


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/28/ukraine-coverage-media-racist-biases/


By H.A. Hellyer
February 28, 2022 at 12:42 p.m. EST

H.A. Hellyer, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar, is a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and Cambridge University.


“This double standard is so evident in how we as Westerners engage in intl relations…we dehumanize non-White populations, diminishing their importance, and that leads to one thing: the degrading of their right to live in dignity.”

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“This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades,” Charlie D’Agata, a CBS correspondent in Kyiv, told his colleagues back in the studio. “You know, this is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully, too — city where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen.”

Putin’s criminal invasion of Ukraine has generated an inspiring wave of solidarity around the world, but for many — especially non-White observers — it has been impossible to tune out the racist biases in Western media and politics.

D’Agata’s comments generated a swift backlash — and he was quick to apologize — but he was hardly the only one. A commentator on a French news program said, “We’re not talking about Syrians fleeing bombs of the Syrian regime backed by Putin; we’re talking about Europeans leaving in cars that look like ours to save their lives.” On the BBC, a former deputy prosecutor general of Ukraine declared, “It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blond hair ... being killed every day.” Even an Al Jazeera anchor said, “These are not obviously refugees trying to get away from areas in the Middle East,” while an ITV News reporter said, “Now the unthinkable has happened to them, and this is not a developing, Third World nation; this is Europe.”

British pundit Daniel Hannan joined the chorus in the Telegraph. “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations. It can happen to anyone,” he wrote.

The implication for anyone reading or watching — particularly anyone with ties to a nation that has also seen foreign intervention, conflict, sanctions and mass migration — is clear: It’s much worse when White Europeans suffer than when it’s Arabs or other non-White people. Yemenis, Iraqis, Nigerians, Libyans, Afghans, Palestinians, Syrians, Hondurans — well, they are used to it.

The insults went beyond media coverage. A French politician said Ukrainian refugees represent “high-quality immigration.” The Bulgarian prime minister said Ukrainian refugees are “intelligent, they are educated. ... This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists.”

It’s as if, in our anger and horror at the scenes of Russia’s aggression, we are incapable of recognizing a simple fact: We’ve seen this before.

A Vanity Fair special correspondent denied precisely that in a tweet: “This is arguably the first war we’ve seen (actually seen in real-time) take place in the age of social media, and all of these heart-wrenching images make Russia look utterly terrible.”

The tweet was erased — like the experiences of many who have documented the horrors of war in recent decades on social media and beyond.

Putin’s military also intervened ferociously in Syria, backing a murderous regime. That war unleashed a level of mass death, suffering, destruction and displacement not yet seen in Ukraine — but the West’s response was far less empathetic. The same can be said of the U.S. invasions and military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq; the catastrophic Saudi-led war in Yemen; the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians.
Riaz Haq said…
Does the advent of machine learning mean the classic methodology of hypothesise, predict and test has had its day?

by Laura Spinney

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jan/09/are-we-witnessing-the-dawn-of-post-theory-science


Isaac Newton apocryphally discovered his second law – the one about gravity – after an apple fell on his head. Much experimentation and data analysis later, he realised there was a fundamental relationship between force, mass and acceleration. He formulated a theory to describe that relationship – one that could be expressed as an equation, F=ma – and used it to predict the behaviour of objects other than apples. His predictions turned out to be right (if not always precise enough for those who came later).

Contrast how science is increasingly done today. Facebook’s machine learning tools predict your preferences better than any psychologist. AlphaFold, a program built by DeepMind, has produced the most accurate predictions yet of protein structures based on the amino acids they contain. Both are completely silent on why they work: why you prefer this or that information; why this sequence generates that structure.

You can’t lift a curtain and peer into the mechanism. They offer up no explanation, no set of rules for converting this into that – no theory, in a word. They just work and do so well. We witness the social effects of Facebook’s predictions daily. AlphaFold has yet to make its impact felt, but many are convinced it will change medicine.

Somewhere between Newton and Mark Zuckerberg, theory took a back seat. In 2008, Chris Anderson, the then editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, predicted its demise. So much data had accumulated, he argued, and computers were already so much better than us at finding relationships within it, that our theories were being exposed for what they were – oversimplifications of reality. Soon, the old scientific method – hypothesise, predict, test – would be relegated to the dustbin of history. We’d stop looking for the causes of things and be satisfied with correlations.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can say that what Anderson saw is true (he wasn’t alone). The complexity that this wealth of data has revealed to us cannot be captured by theory as traditionally understood. “We have leapfrogged over our ability to even write the theories that are going to be useful for description,” says computational neuroscientist Peter Dayan, director of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany. “We don’t even know what they would look like.”

But Anderson’s prediction of the end of theory looks to have been premature – or maybe his thesis was itself an oversimplification. There are several reasons why theory refuses to die, despite the successes of such theory-free prediction engines as Facebook and AlphaFold. All are illuminating, because they force us to ask: what’s the best way to acquire knowledge and where does science go from here?

The first reason is that we’ve realised that artificial intelligences (AIs), particularly a form of machine learning called neural networks, which learn from data without having to be fed explicit instructions, are themselves fallible. Think of the prejudice that has been documented in Google’s search engines and Amazon’s hiring tools.

The second is that humans turn out to be deeply uncomfortable with theory-free science. We don’t like dealing with a black box – we want to know why.

And third, there may still be plenty of theory of the traditional kind – that is, graspable by humans – that usefully explains much but has yet to be uncovered.

----------

In 2022, therefore, there is almost no stage of the scientific process where AI hasn’t left its footprint. And the more we draw it into our quest for knowledge, the more it changes that quest. We’ll have to learn to live with that, but we can reassure ourselves about one thing: we’re still asking the questions. As Pablo Picasso put it in the 1960s, “computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”

Riaz Haq said…
Why #Christians are trying to cancel ‘Ms. Marvel’? Why are they upset about a young #Muslim girl when a Norse God had four movies and appeared in every Avengers film? #Pakistani-#American #MsMarvel #Islamophobia https://wegotthiscovered.com/tv/why-christians-are-trying-to-cancel-ms-marvel/


Phase Four of the Disney MCU has introduced us to new and diverse characters from different backgrounds. But it seems that Christian groups are against the new Ms. Marvel show for *checks notes* being Muslim.

TikTok user frankdomenic has noticed that the new Disney Plus show is being review bombed on IMDb. As of writing, the show currently has an average rating of 6.4 out of 10 stars on the website. This TikToker theorized that the show would have received a higher rating if it wasn’t being bombed by “racists”.

The TikToker theorized that the cause of the review bomb was because of a private Facebook group called “Christians Against Ms. Marvel”. According to their about page, this group believes that Ms. Marvel is “the biggest slap in the face” for conservative Christians and that Carol Danvers should be the face of the show. Their goal is to get the show canceled as they believe that there will no longer be more “white straight Christian characters”.

Ms Marvel might be the biggest slap in the face for conservative Christians to date!!! Disney has decided that the face of this franchise should not be Carol Danvers but should instead be a gay Muslim. no more straight Christian characters from Marvel. those days are over. please join us as we let Disney know that we will not BE CANCELLED!!!

It seems like these people have not seen or read Ms. Marvel as the show clearly dictates that Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel are two different characters. Even the show indicates that Kamala Khan looks up to Carol Danvers. These “Christians” should be flattered. Also, Kamala Khan is not (at least not yet confirmed) to be a gay character. Just because a pride shirt appeared in the show doesn’t mean she’s automatically gay.

Also, why are they upset about a young Muslim girl when a Norse God had four movies and appeared in every Avengers film? If these are truly “conservative” Christians, shouldn’t they be up in arms against that too, especially if they remember the first commandment? One TikToker noticed this and FrankDomenic gave a possible reason as to why Thor gets a pass.

MCU fans mocked the Facebook group after the page was shared on social media. Some believed it was just a troll page while others, especially Christians, said that they enjoyed the show.

So far, more people praised the show than the ones who gave negative ratings. And hopefully, by episode 2, more people will appreciate the show. Also, it’s 2022 guys, let others be represented on the big screen.

Episode 1 of Ms. Marvel is now out on Disney Plus and new episodes come out each week on Wednesday.
Riaz Haq said…
Why Are #Indians So Obsessed With #Pakistan? Perhaps because they have been fed an anti-Pakistani and #Islamophobic narrative by their right-wing #Modi government? #Hindutva #BJP #Islamophobia_in_india #Muslim #MsMarvel #Pakistani-#American via @tft_ https://www.thefridaytimes.com/2022/07/19/why-are-indians-so-obsessed-with-pakistan/

Young Indians have been incensed that Marvel featured a Pakistani Muslim character. Perhaps they wanted an Indian Marvel hero? Or, because they have been fed an anti-Pakistani and Islamophobic narrative by their right-wing government? What if… these trolls on both sides of the border can be reasoned with

Generally, Pakistanis mind their own business and focus on their own issues of which there is no dearth. It is a poor country, one-seventh the size of India, with much smaller economic and financial resources. Yet, many have noted time and again how Indian trolls flood Pakistani sites to provide their unsolicited two cents on the latest Pakistani news along with their contempt that is projected by branding Pakistan as a “beggar nation” or as a “failed state”.

This necessitates the question that why are Indians so obsessed with Pakistan.

Maybe this has to do with the wars of 1948, 1965, 1971, and 1999 fought between the two nations. But then people who have seen the horrors of war may have PTSD or generally try to avoid negativity, as they have seen enough to envelop the rest of their lives in misery. This older generation of Indians and Pakistanis has been mellowed by age and the understanding that life is too short to dwell on past grievances.

In contrast, the firebrand responses online often emanate from the younger Indian crowd that has been fed an anti-Pakistani and Islamophobic narrative stoked by the right-wing Indian government in power. It is this demonisation of the Pakistani or the Muslim other that lies behind the seething Indian hatred witnessed in online spaces.

However, Pakistanis of all people should know how narratives lead to bigotry and prejudice, as they have been fed with the Islamisation narrative over the years that has instigated the persecution of religious minorities, including Pakistani Hindus.

Indeed, online Indians comment how the Pakistani Hindu population dwindled from 14 to about 2 percent as the country was made on the basis of religion. Others point out that Jinnah and the Muslim League simply did not want to live in United India, as if the situation prior to Indian Partition or Pakistani Independence (based on the respective narratives) was based on some serene ‘kumbaya’ type co-existence.

Such brash statements require further scrutiny. Dr Vikas Divyakirti elaborates in detail in a YouTube video that the Pakistani Hindu population dwindled because of Hindu migration to India just as many Muslims migrated to Pakistan. The Indian Muslim population reduced from 25 to 14 percent. Additionally, despite clamouring by Indian trolls, Pew Research graphically shows how the Hindu population increased exponentially and far outstripped that of Muslims from 1951–2011 in India.


Riaz Haq said…
#Meta execs told #HumanRights groups they wouldn’t release full #India #HateSpeech study for their own security. An earlier 2020 study concluded that #Hindutva groups support violence against #Muslims, #minorities & should be banned from #Facebook https://www.wsj.com/articles/meta-officials-cite-security-concerns-for-failing-to-release-details-of-india-hate-speech-study-11664370857?st=h010tutay1jsf5g via @WSJ

Executives at Meta Platforms Inc. META 5.36%▲ privately told rights groups that security concerns prevented them from releasing details of its investigation into hate speech on its services in India, according to audio recordings heard by The Wall Street Journal.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, in July released a four-page summary of a human-rights impact assessment on India, its biggest market by users, where it has faced accusations of failing to adequately police hate speech against religious minorities. The India summary was part of the company’s first global human-rights report. The 83-page global report offers detailed findings of some previous investigations; it included only general descriptions of its India assessment, which disappointed some rights advocates.

“This is not the report that the human-rights team at Meta wanted to publish, we wanted to be able to publish more,” Iain Levine, a Meta senior human-rights adviser, said during private online briefings with rights groups in late July after the summary was released, according to the recordings.

“A decision was made at the highest levels of the company based upon both internal and external advice that it was not possible to do so for security reasons,” he said.

The company said at the time of the report’s release that it wouldn’t publish the full India assessment. It also said United Nations guidelines for companies reporting on human-rights issues caution against releasing details that could imperil stakeholders, a term that generally refers to people such as staff and external researchers involved in the reporting process.

Representatives from the rights groups contended in their meeting with Meta executives that the company wasn’t being transparent in its human-rights efforts, that it appeared not to take the undertaking seriously and that the groups had participated in good faith only to see Meta bury the findings, according to the recordings.

The fact that Meta isn’t releasing the full assessment is “a slap in my face and my people’s face who have endured so much hate speech on this platform,” said a person in the briefing who identified herself as an Indian Muslim researcher, according to the recordings. “We want a release of this report—now,” she said.

Mr. Levine and Miranda Sissons, Meta’s human-rights director, said they understood those complaints and wished they had been able to release more details, according to the recordings.

The executives said during the briefings that the effort represented an important first step in Meta addressing human-rights concerns. They said the summary was written after consulting the guidance on human-rights impact assessments for digital companies from the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

“This is the beginning of a reporting process where I think no activist, no human-rights defender of any kind would ever think that any of the work any company, or probably any entity, that is done is good enough and this team would agree,” Ms. Sissons said in one briefing, the recordings show.

Mr. Levine, who worked for more than three decades for global human-rights groups before joining Meta in 2020, told attendees of the briefings that 120 people at Meta reviewed the report, and that it was approved by president of global affairs Nick Clegg and chief legal officer Jennifer Newstead.

Riaz Haq said…
India’s government is exporting its #Hindu nationalism. Example: #Leicester in #UK. #Modi paints India as a kind of Hindu Zion. #Islamophobia is rampant among bjp stalwarts. Authorities have bulldozed Muslim homes in #Delhi & #BJP ruled states. #Hindutva https://www.economist.com/asia/2022/09/29/indias-government-is-exporting-its-hindu-nationalism

The violence that erupted two weeks ago between Muslims and Hindus in the English city of Leicester, home to a large population of Britons with South Asian ancestry, appears at last to be dying down as police flood the streets. It began with brawls and quickly escalated into attacks on mosques and temples.

Events in faraway Leicester bear on Banyan’s Asian preoccupations, largely because of the reaction of the government of India. Its high commission in London condemned the “violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalisation of premises and symbols of [the] Hindu religion”, but, pointedly, did not condemn Hindus’ violence against Muslims.

Admittedly, Pakistan decried a “systematic campaign” of violence and intimidation against Muslims. But then Pakistan, a state founded on putting Islam (and by extension communalism) at its core, would look after its own, wouldn’t it? The Indian state, by contrast, long sought to represent a secular ideal that rose above communal divisions.

That ideal also informed the internationalist, inclusionary rhetoric of India’s foreign policy. The notable omissions in the Indian High Commission’s statement are indicative of a break in policy since the rise to power in 2014 of Narendra Modi, the prime minister. He is cheerleader-in-chief for Hindutva, a strident form of Hindu nativism promoted by his Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp).

The Indian government’s response was notable in another respect. Most of Leicester’s South Asian Muslims have their ancestral roots not in Pakistan but, like its Hindus, within the borders of India itself. Mukul Kesavan, an Indian writer, writes that to identify only with its Hindus “is to withdraw...the ancestral claim to India from the Muslims of Leicester.”

This is all of a piece with the bjp’s majoritarian approach at home, where Hindus constitute four-fifths of the country’s 1.4bn people and Muslims about one-seventh. Islamophobia is rampant among bjp stalwarts (though Mr Modi usually carries a dog whistle). When Hindus and Muslims have clashed in Delhi or in bjp-ruled states, authorities have bulldozed Muslim homes in retribution. Mr Modi’s Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 grants Indian citizenship to refugees from neighbouring countries—so long as they are not Muslim.

As Mr Kesavan argues, standing up for Hindus abroad bolsters Mr Modi’s standing among Hindus at home. Mr Modi has long understood this aspect of personal power. Before the pandemic he staged huge rallies for the Indian diaspora in America and Britain. On visits abroad he pointedly combines diplomacy with prayer. Mr Modi paints India as a kind of Hindu Zion.


In the American capital this week the foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, lambasted those supposedly spreading false views of India, such as the Washington Post. He defended the government’s suspension of the rule of law and the internet in majority-Muslim Kashmir as motivated only by pure intentions. The minister is representative of Hindutva at the heart of the foreign-policy establishment. A paper in International Affairs, an academic journal, by Kira Huju of Oxford University describes how Indian diplomats hewing to the secular, internationalist line have been squeezed out, silenced or marginalised in favour of hardline hacks. Not only that, diplomats abroad must now promote a Hindu-inflected alternative medicine known as Ayurveda, as well as take instruction in the promotion and practice of yoga.
Riaz Haq said…
Islam is the second largest religion in America

Buddhism, Islam and Judaism have the most followers after Christianity in most of states.

By Reid Wilson

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/06/04/the-second-largest-religion-in-each-state/


In 20 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, Islam is the largest non-Christian faith tradition. And in 15 states, mostly in the Northeast, Judaism has the most followers after Christianity. Hindus come in second place in Arizona and Delaware, and there are more practitioners of the Baha’i faith in South Carolina than anyone else.


Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. A little more than half of us identify as Protestants, about 23 percent as Catholic and about 2 percent as Mormon.

But what about the rest of us? In the Western U.S., Buddhists represent the largest non-Christian religious bloc in most states. In 20 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, Islam is the largest non-Christian faith tradition. And in 15 states, mostly in the Northeast, Judaism has the most followers after Christianity. Hindus come in second place in Arizona and Delaware, and there are more practitioners of the Baha’i faith in South Carolina than anyone else.


All these data come from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, which conducts a U.S. Religion Census every 10 years.

The data the ASARB release every 10 years are revealing: Adherents to any religious faith — that is, those who actually attend religious services — make up more than half the population in 28 states. Utah has the highest percentage of adherents, at 79 percent of the population, while just over a quarter of Mainers are adherents. North Dakota, Alabama and Louisiana are near the top of the list, while Oregon, Vermont, Alaska, Nevada and Washington sit near the bottom of the rankings.


Catholicism dominates the Northeast and the Southwest, and Southern Baptists have a strong foothold in the South. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dominates Utah and surrounding counties in Idaho, Wyoming and parts of Nevada. Lutheranism has a strong following in Minnesota and the Dakotas, while Methodists make their presence felt in parts of West Virginia, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.
Riaz Haq said…
Tensions That Roiled English City Have Roots in #India. #LeicesterCity clashes reflect a spread of sometimes violent extremism across the broader Indian #diaspora driven by #Hindutva, the divisive political ideology supported by #Modi & #BJP. #Islamophobia https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/02/world/europe/leicester-violence-uk.html?smid=tw-share

Experts say it is only the latest example of how the toxic politics that are roiling India — and leading to the persecution of Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities — have migrated to other parts of the globe.

Across the Indian diaspora, ugly divisions are emerging. A bulldozer, which has become a symbol of oppression against India’s Muslim minority, was rolled down a street in a New Jersey town during a parade this summer, offending many people. Last year, attacks on Sikh men in Australia were linked to extremist nationalist ideology. In April, Canadian academics told CBC News that they faced death threats over their criticism of growing Hindu nationalism and violence against minorities in India.

Since India’s independence struggle, Hindu nationalists have espoused a vision that places Hindu culture and religious worship at the center of Indian identity. That view, once fringe, was made mainstream when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party came to power.


Human rights observers have since documented a sharp rise in violence against minorities in India, particularly targeting Muslims, but also Christians. Activists and journalists, including many Muslims, have been jailed or threatened with prosecution under an antiterrorism law that has received scrutiny from India’s highest court.


Mr. Modi has largely responded to this violence with silence, which experts say his most extreme supporters interpret as a tacit sign of approval. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a prominent Indian public intellectual, last month wrote that the Leicester episode followed a playbook “familiar for anyone who knows Indian riots: The use of rumors, groups from outside the local community, and marches to create polarization in otherwise peaceful communities.”

The tensions that spilled onto the streets last month have prompted soul searching among the different religious communities in Leicester, a city of about 368,000 in England’s Midlands. Leicester has one of Britain’s highest proportions of South Asians, a vast majority of them people of Indian heritage, who make up some 22.3 percent of the city’s overall population, according to the most recent government statistics.

Leicester is 13 percent Muslim and 12.3 percent Hindu, and most of the people from both religious groups are ethnically Indian.

After British rule ended with the partition of India in 1947, creating a separate state of Pakistan, subsequent legislation allowed citizens from across the Commonwealth to move to Britain. Another wave of South Asians arrived in the 1970s after Uganda’s dictator, Idi Amin, suddenly expelled thousands of people of mostly Indian origin from Uganda. By then, Leicester had gained a reputation as a city that was generally welcoming to immigrants.

“Leicester has always been proud of the fact that we have new people coming from all parts of the world,” said Rita Patel, a local councilor and member of a South Asian women’s collective working toward peacebuilding.


Riaz Haq said…
#BilkisBano: #India PM #Modi's government okayed her rapists' release despite opposition from a court and federal prosecutors. Convicts were part of a #Hindu mob that attacked Bilkis Bano and her family during 2002 anti-#Muslim riots in #Gujarat. #BJP https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-62574247

The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the premature release of 11 men who were convicted for the gangrape of a pregnant Muslim woman and murder of 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter, according to a court document.

The convicts were part of a Hindu mob that attacked Bilkis Bano and her family during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the western state of Gujarat.

The release of the men, who were serving life sentences for rape and murder, and the heroes' welcome they were accorded had caused global outrage.

Many were especially aghast as the convicts had walked free on 15 August - the day India was celebrating its independence day and just hours after Mr Modi had given a speech asking citizens to respect women.

A viral video showed the men lined up outside the Godhra jail while relatives gave them sweets and touched their feet to show respect.

State officials at the time said a government panel had approved the application for remission as the men - first convicted by a trial court in 2008 - had spent more than 14 years in jail, and after considering other factors such as their age and good behaviour in prison.

But on Monday, the Gujarat government submitted a document in the Supreme Court revealing that they had sought the federal government's approval - which was granted by the home ministry, led by Amit Shah, in July.

The approval had come despite opposition from a court and federal prosecutors who had said they should not be "released prematurely and no leniency may be shown" to them as their crime was "heinous, grave and serious".

The top court is hearing several petitions challenging the convicts' release.

Days after her attackers were freed, Bilkis Bano issued a statement calling the decision to free the men "unjust" and said it had "shaken" her faith in justice.

"When I heard that the convicts who had devastated my family and life had walked free, I was bereft of words. I am still numb," she said.

"How can justice for any woman end like this? I trusted the highest courts in our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma. The release of these convicts has taken from me my peace and shaken my faith in justice," she wrote, appealing to the Gujarat government to "undo this harm" and "give me back my right to live without fear and in peace".

The decision had caused massive outrage in India. It was criticised by opposition parties, activists and several journalists, who said it discriminated against India's minority Muslims. Attacks on the community have risen sharply since the BJP formed the federal government in 2014.

More than 6,000 activists, historians and citizens issued a statement urging the Supreme Court to revoke the early release of the convicts, describing it as a "grave miscarriage of justice".

Many also pointed out that the release was in contravention of guidelines issued by both the federal government and the Gujarat state government - both say that rape and murder convicts cannot be granted remission. Life terms in these crimes are usually served until death in India.

The biggest setback from the state government's decision has been for Bilkis Bano and her family.

The anger and despondence of the family is easy to understand considering the magnitude of the crime and the protracted battle they had to fight for justice.


Riaz Haq said…
In the U.S. and Western Europe, people say they accept Muslims, but opinions are divided on Islam
BY NEHA SAHGAL AND BESHEER MOHAMED

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/08/in-the-u-s-and-western-europe-people-say-they-accept-muslims-but-opinions-are-divided-on-islam/

The vast majority of people across 15 countries in Western Europe and in the United States say they would be willing to accept Muslims as neighbors. Slightly lower shares on both sides of the Atlantic say they would be willing to accept a Muslim as a family member.


At the same time, there is no consensus on whether Islam fits into these societies. Across Western Europe, people are split on Islam’s compatibility with their country’s culture and values, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. And in the U.S., public opinion remains about evenly divided on whether Islam is part of mainstream American society and if Islam is compatible with democracy, according to a 2017 poll.

The vast majority of non-Muslim Americans (89%) say they would be willing to accept Muslims as neighbors, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The same survey finds that most people (79%) say they would be willing to accept Muslims as members of their family.


In Western Europe, most people also say they would be willing to accept Muslim neighbors. However, Europeans are less likely than Americans to say they would be willing to accept Muslims as family members. While about two-thirds of non-Muslim French people (66%) say they would accept a Muslim in their family, just over half of British (53%), Austrian (54%) and German (55%) adults say this. Italians are the least likely in Europe to say they would be willing to accept a Muslim family member (43%).

Surveys in both the U.S. and Western Europe were conducted on the telephone, and due to the tendency of some respondents to give socially acceptable responses, may overstate the share of people willing to accept others (also known as social desirability bias).

In both the U.S. and Europe, the surveys find higher acceptance of Muslims among those with more education. In the U.S., for example, 86% of adults with a college degree would be willing to accept a Muslim into their family; among Americans without a college degree, this share falls to 75%. Similarly, in Germany, a majority of those with a college education (67%) say they would be willing to accept a Muslim in their family, compared with roughly half (52%) among those without one. The same pattern is present in other countries, such as the UK (71% vs. 44%) and Austria (67% vs. 51%).

On both sides of the Atlantic, attitudes toward Muslims are tied to politics, even after taking education, age and other demographic factors into account. In Western Europe, those who lean toward the right of the European political spectrum have less accepting views than those who lean toward the left. Likewise, in the U.S., those who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party are more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to say they would be willing to accept a Muslim family member (88% vs. 67%). Still, majorities among both Democrats and Republicans say they would be willing to accept Muslims in their lives. Additional analysis of how other demographic factors (such as religion) are correlated with these kinds of attitudes in Europe can be found here.


Riaz Haq said…
India’s entrenched north-south divide is growing as its population changes, with serious social and political consequences

Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Delhi
Mon 14 Nov 2022 01.30 EST


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/nov/14/india-faces-deepening-demographic-divide-as-it-prepares-to-overtake-china-as-the-worlds-most-populous-country


The north-south divide has also enabled the politicisation of population in India. In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, ruled by a hardline figure from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the high population has been used to justify the drafting of a population control bill, proposing coercive methods to ensure two children per couple.

The draft bill is seen by some as a thinly veiled attack on Muslims, fuelled by a pervasive yet inaccurate myth promoted by Hindu nationalists that the number of Muslims is fast outpacing Hindus, as part of a conspiracy by Muslims to become the majority in India. Muslims make up 14% of the population, Hindus are 80%.

“All this talk of population control measures in Uttar Pradesh is only to keep the controversy going and to give Muslims a bad name, stir up hatred and win the Hindu majority vote,” said SY Quraishi, a former Indian civil servant who recently published The Population Myth, a book demolishing the myths around Islam and family planning in India.

“As the data clearly shows, this suggestion of Muslims overtaking the Hindu population is a blatant lie.”

Quraishi emphasised that while Muslims in India do have higher fertility rates than Hindus, this is not due to religion but because Muslims are often poorer, less educated and with less access to health services. The Muslim fertility rate in India is also now falling faster than the Hindu rate.

BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay recently submitted a petition to the supreme court calling for “an effective population control policy like China” to cope with the “population explosion”, though such policies have been rebuffed by the central BJP government.

Quraishi said rather than trying to emulate China’s population control measures, policymakers in Delhi should take them as a warning.

“In India people used to admire China’s policy of one child norm,” he said. “But now look, China has a population crisis on their hands, 70% of their population are ageing. That should be an important lesson for anyone talking about coercive measures: otherwise in a few decades that could be us too.”

Cities under pressure
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Though fears of an Indian “population bomb” have eased, one area already creaks under the strain of a rising population. India’s cities are some of the biggest and overburdened in the world, and in the next few decades they will get even bigger.

India is still largely rural, with about 33% of the population living in cities, but urbanisation is picking up pace. By 2035, 675 million Indians will live in cities and, according to UN projections, by 2050, more Indians will live in urban environments than villages. With a population of 20 million, India’s capital Delhi is already one of the largest and most polluted cities in the world. It’s expected to grow to 28 million by 2041, according to the city masterplan.

In the biggest metropolises of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, housing, water, transport and sanitation infrastructure are already struggling to cope, and this will only be exacerbated by climate change. In India’s financial capital Mumbai, which is predicted to grow from 20 million to 27 million by 2025, 40% of people live in slums. In 2019, the city of Chennai ran out of water entirely.

“Urbanisation will drive important changes in this country in the coming decades but at the same time, the quality of life in Indian cities is already deteriorating fast,” said Rumi Aijaz, a fellow at the Delhi thinktank Observer Research Foundation.

“Adaptation of urban areas is one of the biggest challenges India faces as its population grows – but right now the government response is weak.”
Riaz Haq said…
India’s entrenched north-south divide is growing as its population changes, with serious social and political consequences

Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Delhi
Mon 14 Nov 2022 01.30 EST


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/nov/14/india-faces-deepening-demographic-divide-as-it-prepares-to-overtake-china-as-the-worlds-most-populous-country


Despite the continued rise in population in the north over the next few years, India’s overall trajectory is one of declining fertility and eventual population stability. Yet just how far fertility will fall is still up for debate. Unlike in the west, India’s declining fertility rate so far has not coincided with a change in family structure or marriage patterns, such as women choosing to marry and have children later, or not at all.

Instead, so far, the maternal expectations of Indian women have remained largely unchanged; the majority still get married by their early twenties, have two children while relatively young and then stop, often by opting for sterilisation.

As India develops and more women are educated and enter the workforce, experts say fertility norms will continue to shift. Back in the Bihar village of Kishanganj, Nazia Parveen, 19, who is studying at university, said she had already noticed the difference that women’s education had made to the number of children being born locally.

“Now much fewer children are being born in the village and around 60% of the families are using family planning,” she said. “This is such a change from the past when there was no awareness, and it is all because of women’s education. No one of my generation wants to have more than two children.”

Riaz Haq said…
Excerpts of "The Trauma of Caste" by Thenmozi Soundarajan:


I also write in honor of all of my Muslim kin, because so many Muslims have carried the water for so many Dalit movements, and in turn we too carry yours. When faith is criminalized and racialized, we have to overturn the expectations of the dominant culture to return to our fullest selves. We learn every day from your commitments to justice and peace even in a time of great dehumanization.

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. xx). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

These two stories have been weaponized by Buddhist nationalists to claim a mandate that the Sinhalese are the true heirs to a spiritually ordained Buddhist nation and to justify violence against anyone deemed a threat to the island. This condemns ethnic Tamils and religious others like Muslims, Hindus, and Christians as invaders.44 Buddhist clergy of the Mahavamsa have further divided themselves into lineages based on caste and banned caste-oppressed Buddhists from entering the temples they administer. Scholar Lasni Buddhibhashika Jayasooriya found that many casteist attitudes in popular Buddhism are rooted in Sri Lanka.45 One of her respondents noted that “it is obvious that in many cases the core ideas of Buddhism are being violated. Religion is raped by its followers.”46

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 69). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

South Asian Christians and Muslims have been hesitant to call out casteism within their faiths, given the persecution they suffer today under Hindu nationalists. Churches and mosques face demolition; priests, imams, and nuns are victims of assault and violence; the drumbeat of genocidal language targets these communities. In the face of such terror there is discomfort in speaking about divisive issues. That said, caste-oppressed followers of these faiths are working, quietly and with enormous courage, to expose and address casteism while also fighting for religious freedom. I respect the struggles within these communities and believe that discussing casteism openly and with empathy creates opportunities for growth even in this dismal time.


Caste does not have a scriptural foundation in Islam, but it is nevertheless found among the cultural practices of South Asian Muslims. These practices are not unified across South Asia, for Islam has multiple points of entry and cultural histories across the continent. Islam came to the region through Sufi mystics, flows of trade by sea, and the Silk Road, as well as by conquest and invasion. These multiple origin stories have created different Muslim communities that have varying understandings of hierarchy. It’s therefore more appropriate to say that we are examining caste in the cultural practices of South Asian muslim communities, not in Islamic religious doctrine. Caste in Muslim communities matters because South Asia is home to the largest population of Muslims (600 million) in the world, with about one-third of all Muslims being from South Asia. India stands out among its closest neighbors with a Muslim minority that numbers almost 200 million, making India the third-largest Muslim country after Indonesia and Pakistan.60

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 72). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said…
Take, for example, caste in Muslim communities in India. These divides often refer to followers’ proximity in relationship to the Prophet and are broken down into categories. Ashrafs claim their origin from Central Asia and encompass subgroups who are considered the noble high castes. They include the Sayyids, the supposed descendants of the Prophet; the Shaikhs, the supposed descendants of the Prophet’s companions; the Pashtuns, members of Pashto-speaking tribes in Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan; and Mughals, persons of Turkish origin who came into India with the Mughal armies.61 Ajlafs are converts to Islam from the lower occupational Shudra castes, including barbers, tailors, and weavers. And finally the Arzals (literally, the “despicable”) are Dalit converts whose occupations were considered unclean. In the 1901 Indian census, Arzals were described as castes “with whom no other Muhammadan would associate, and who are forbidden to enter the mosque or to use the public burial ground.”62

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 73). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Additionally, the vast majority of South Asian Muslims are converts. Islam, like Sikhism and Buddhism, espoused philosophies of equality and brotherhood and allowed for more mobility of caste-oppressed followers, in contrast to the inequity and marginalization embedded within caste-based rituals and religious traditions; these notions were particularly appealing to Dalits and the caste-oppressed. Dr. Ejaz Ali, national convener of the All-India Backward Muslim Morcha, coined the term “Dalit Muslims,” saying: Our ancestors did not come from Arabia. They were locals who converted to Islam. One could categorize them into two broad groups. Firstly, Dalits who converted to Islam en masse, to escape from caste oppression under the Brahminical order. They were visibly impressed by the simplicity and brotherhood of the early Muslims, especially the Sufis. They saw them eating together from the same vessel, praying together shoulder-to-shoulder in the same mosque. They saw that anyone could become the Imam to lead the prayers. The Sufis welcomed them with open arms. At the Sufi langars (free community kitchens), they saw people of all castes eating together. All this visibly impressed them and they converted in large numbers to Islam in search of equality and self-respect . . . These are the Dalit Muslims.64

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (pp. 73-74). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

The caste-oppressed in these Muslim communities have focused on their underrepresentation in Indian institutions, and they have organized under the banner of the Pasmanda movement, meaning “those who have been left behind.”65 And they assert that caste-oppressed oppressed Muslims make up 85 percent of all Muslims in India. Their goal is to pursue their rights to affirmative action and greater representation in political parties and society.66 Today the movement includes many organizations like the All India Pasmanda Muslims Mahaj of Ali Anwar from Bihar and the All India Muslim OBC Organisation of Shabbir Ansari from Maharashtra.

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 74). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said…
Caste-oppressed Muslims have also faced unique hardships during the atrocities of Partition, the bloody process that led to the establishment of Pakistan as an Islamic country, and the second partition that led to the Bangladesh War of Independence. During this period many Indian Muslims had to make choices to stay behind in the new India governed by dominant castes or leave to establish Pakistan. Many caste-oppressed Muslims stayed behind because they did not have the resources to leave, while other families found their relatives split between Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi borders. This division has led to a constant othering of Indian Muslims as foreigners in their own homeland. It is a tragic outcome of casteist and nationalist tropes that further disenfranchises vulnerable caste-oppressed Muslims.

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 74). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Another example of caste and South Asian Muslim cultural practices can be traced to the history of Partition at the Punjab border. Muslims left the India side of Punjab for Pakistan, and many Dalit Christians on the Pakistani side of Punjab chose to stay rather than risk being a minority within a new Indian nation led by dominant castes. After Partition, a majority of the Dalit Hindus, who did all the cleaning of the sewers, left from Pakistan. As a result, Dalit Christians were forced into those unwanted jobs in the Punjab region of Pakistan. It was a painful reentry back into the caste hierarchy, as these Christians had converted to escape such terrible labor; now they were betrayed by the fledgling state.67 This is but one of many examples of caste in the cultural practices of South Asian Muslim communities, and there remains much room for research and discourse. No one country or religion has offered safe harbor for Dalits; instead, all South Asian geographies beget caste violence.

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (pp. 74-75). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
American Muslims elected in Nov 2022

https://www.pakistanlink.org/Community/2022/Nov22/11/02.HTM

Abdelnasser Rashid and Nabeela Syed are projected to win the elections to represent State House District 21 and State House District 51, respectively. They would be the first Muslims elected to the Illinois State Legislature.

If Nabilah Islam prevails, she would represent State Senate District 7 in Georgia. On the State House side, Ruwa Romman is the projected winner to represent District 97. Islam would be the first Muslim woman elected to the State Senate while Romman would be the first Muslim woman elected to the State House of Representatives.

Munira Abdullahi does not have a challenger in the general election for State House District 9 in Ohio, and has become the first Muslim elected to the Ohio State Legislature. Ismail Mohammad, a Democrat running for State House District 3 would join her if he wins.

Democrat Mana Abdi made history when she was elected to represent State House District 95 in Maine. If South Portland Mayor Deqa Dhalac prevails in the State House District 120 race, she could join Abdi.

Former Euless City Councilor Salman Bhojani, a Democrat, is running for Texas House District 92 and is projected to win. He would be the first Muslim elected to the Texas State Legislature should he prevail and could be joined by Suleman Lalani, who is leading the race to represent State House District 76.

This midterm election had 145 Muslim candidates running for local, state and federal office in the general election, including 48 state legislative candidates running in 23 states. Not all races have a clear winner yet. According to Jetpac, currently, 29 Muslim state legislators serve in 18 states.

“Tonight’s historic string of record-breaking American Muslim electoral victories is a testament to our community’s ongoing rise in American politics and the trust our neighbors have placed in us to represent them and fight for their interests," CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad said.

"We are witnessing the next step in the American Muslim community’s political transformation from marginalized voices that were sidelined, or worse, to decision-makers. These newly elected officials are building upon the success of our community’s decades-long investment in civic engagement, voter registration and running for office." – Middle East Eye

Riaz Haq said…
Qatar hosting the World Cup highlights Western double standards
Is this truly about human rights, or is it that Western pundits can’t stomach the idea that an Arab Middle East country will host the World Cup?

by Ayman Mohyeldin

https://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/amp/rcna57891

From the moment Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup, there have been criticisms surrounding its capacity and deservedness to hold the event. And rightfully so; any country that plans to welcome people from around the world for a globally important affair should be subject to intense scrutiny.

But what has played out over the past several years, and intensified in the final few months before the World Cup’s Sunday premiere, reveals the depths of Western prejudice, performative moral outrage and, perhaps most significantly, gross double standards.

A barrage of negative and quite frankly racist commentary about the tiny Persian Gulf nation has included headlines suggesting that fans who were celebrating the buildup to the tournament were paid to appear, because they were South Asians. A French outlet published a cartoon depicting the Qatari national team as terrorists. The list goes on.

But is this debate truly about migrant workers’ rights and human rights, or is it that European countries and Western pundits, who view themselves as the traditional gatekeepers of global soccer, can’t stomach the idea that an Arab Middle Eastern country will host such a venerable event?

-------------


Piers Morgan
@piersmorgan
Yes, and we tortured innocent Iraqi civilians when we illegally invaded that country. Britain’s in no position to play the moral superiority card vs Qatar.

https://twitter.com/piersmorgan/status/1594274105309945856?s=20&t=BrrB8MI5SIpGWwWjEydpFg

------------

#Fifa President Gianni Infantino:"I am European. For what we have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons" #soccer #football #Colonialism #slavery #Qatar #alcoholban https://www.npr.org/2022/11/19/1137962269/fifa-president-gianni-infantino-qatar-world-cup-hypocrisy

DOHA, Qatar — FIFA president Gianni Infantino used his opening press conference before the start of the monthlong World Cup to deliver a blistering tirade at the West for continued criticism of host country Qatar and its human rights record.

For an hour, Infantino lectured the international press assembled at the Qatar National Convention Centre and then took questions for 45 minutes. In lengthy, and at times angry remarks, Infantino blasted the criticism of Qatar and FIFA.

"I am European. For what we have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons," he said.

He furthered the defense by saying, "Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker."

Infantino said he has difficulties understanding the criticism and called it hypocrisy. "We have to invest in helping these people, in education and to give them a better future and more hope. We should all educate ourselves, many things are not perfect, but reform and change takes time."

Since FIFA chose Qatar to stage this tournament in 2010, soccer's governing body and the host country have endured withering criticism. It's the first time a Middle Eastern country has hosted a World Cup. A report released this month from the London-based rights group Equidem said the migrant laborers who built the World Cup stadiums worked long hours and under harsh conditions. The report said they were subjected to discrimination, wage theft and other abuses.

Infantino's news conference comes a day after FIFA and Qatar announced that the sale of beer would be banned at the eight stadiums. FIFA said the decision would ensure "the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans."

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