Category Archives: Politics

Politics

Muslim Lives Matter: Bias in the Mainstream Media

While main stream media is a little confused as to how a crime can happen against Muslims, I can confirm that it can and it did. I would also like to clarify that the shooter of the three Muslims in Chapel Hill was an atheist, Richard Dawkins fan, Inspired by Sam Harris rhetoric, a lover of guns and promoter of new-atheism. He is a non-Muslim terrorist and this was an act of terror, not just a simple hate crime, like painting hateful graffiti on the wall of a Masjid. Muslim lives matter!

And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: “They are dead.” Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not. Qur’an 2:154

Media coverage has been disgusting. It took a very long time for media to start properly reporting on the issue and when it did, they made it sound as if Muslims lives are not as important.

Media Bias
Fox news website reporting the Chapel Hill shooting right at the bottom of the page

So do not worry, it is not Ghaza that gets imbalanced media coverage, if something happened here in Australia, in the states or any other country, unless Muslims can be blamed, the news will not get enough coverage.

I personally  first read about the shooting on Twitter:

It appeared that the the idea of reporting by mainstream media was also to collect twitter feeds and republish them on a page, like this:

It didn’t seem important for mainstream media to send a reporter to the scene and instead relied on social media.

Activists and cartoonists have been quick to condemn mainstream media for their bias and sub-slandered reporting of crimes against Muslims. Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) Tweeted this gem:

Muslim Lives Matter by Carlos Latuff
Muslim Lives Matter (#ChapelHillShooting) by Carlos Latuff

The three Muslims who were murdered in cold blood were Deah, his wife Yosur and her sister Razan were three exemplary young people who enjoyed life, worked hard, did voluntary work, helped the poor and less fortunate. You can see Deah in this video trying to raise funds for Project:Refugee Smiles, a dental relief program for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Deah and Yosur had just got married less than 2 months ago. Surely they had plans to live a long life happily, finish their studies, settle down, bring new lives into this world and whatever else a young couple dream of. Alas they were not given the chance to do any of those. May Allah disgrace this murderer who has robbed a family of their future.

The man charged with this crime, many have already anticipated will be deemed mentally ill and put into an institution. I hope this is not the case and he faces the full force of law and is given the maximum possible sentence.

No amount of condolences and sympathy will lessen the pain their family is feeling right now. All we can do is to pray for them.

May Allah forgive and make Jannat al-Firdaws the abode of Deah, Yosur and Razan and bestow upon their loved ones patience and comfort in the face of such calamity.

Pretend Democracy Campaign in Afghanistan takes a blow

Carrey, Abdullah and Ghani
Carrey, Abdullah and Ghani

A national unity government now in Afghanistan means that the struggles and oppression that people of Afghanistan went through since at least 2001 when NATO invaded Afghanistan were basically for nothing. It is like saying, “We made a mistakes. Let’s go back to drawing board and start over. Democarcy has failed.”

The idea that we are somewhat better off than 1992 is laughable at best.  A government of coalition is basically what was agreed upon in Berlin back then and this is what we are going back to. As a matter of fact it is the same as when the Mujahideen took over Kabul in 1992. Hundreds of thousands of people killed by kinds of murderers from Jihadis to Talibs to Pakistanis to Americans since then and the ending is where it all began.

The naivety of us to think that somehow we would become civil and incorporate some form of democracy in our society boggles my mind. But then again I said this several times. My friends with whom I had similar discussions over the years will attest to that.

The fact that supporters of Dr Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah embarassed themselves on social media belittling each other was not surprising either. This was exactly what happened back in 1994. Hekmatyar was on about the fact that Rabani had joined with Kuffar but the moment he had an opportunity to make a deal with Dostum he did not think twice. Similarly, people in Dr Abdullah’s camp throwing all sorts of hypocritical statements that Ashraf Ghani has joined with Dostum while they were the ones who empowered Dostum to being with.

The idea that somehow one of these people will make a difference in the lives of common Afghans is a tall tale. The fact that people are so up in arms to defend these symbols of neo-clonialism is shameful. I am just hoping that at least some issues are addressed in the next couple of years, provided thugs do not jump each other before some order is established. However, political allegiances in Afghanistan being tribal and ethnocentric, it would be too much to hope for.

It is clear from what is happening in Iraq, Palestine and Syria that America has no intention of letting peace finds its way in the middle east. Similarly, this development in Afghanistan is a proof that the same is true for Afghanistan.

Thus a Thug Becomes an Afghan Hero

Marshal Fahim
Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim

 I will not mourn the death of Marshal Fahim for a moment let alone three days.

This idea of holding national mourning is absolutely ridiculous.  I have not seen a single positive achievement from Fahim to make his death a sad occurrence.

There is a saying in Dari, “Morgh kam Goish kam” which roughly translates, “The fewer the chicken, the less chickenshit.”
I am being very insensitive here but none of the warlords who brought death and destruction to Afghanistan has any right on people to hold three days of mourning. Frankly, this is embarrassing for the government to announce three days of national mourning for a person whose sole interest was his growing wealth. Will all government high ranking officials get three day national mourning? I doubt it.

Fahim was not a hero by far and not a man who deserves kindness and prayers from people.  Throughout his time, there have been several reports of human rights violations and corruption, including occupying land illegally.
In 2005 Human Rights Watch described Fahim as “one of the most notorious warlords” and implicated him of torture and murder. In recent years he was associated with Kabul criminal gangs that were involved in abductions and smuggling of weapons and drugs.
He has also been refereed to as “semi literate, self appointed field marshal, and one of the principal obstacles to Afghan unity because of his alleged ruthless threats, beatings and general thuggery, ” in The Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan.

His legacy a long with his friends, in addition to all deaths and destruction that he is directly and indirectly responsible, is also the invasion of Afghanistan by foreign forces.

In few days or weeks, they will probably name a street after him, if they haven’t done that and few year later a statue will be erected for him and he will be named a national hero.. and thus a thug becomes a hero.

Afghan War: A popularity contest for Western Leaders

Afghan War
Afghan War

From when NATO invaded Afghanistan under the guise of fighting terrorism, the poverty-stricken country has served as an election-winning tool for leaders of the involved countries. Every time election gets closer, the leaders of these countries make an announcement that could potentially win them votes.

Julia Gillard’s announcement of Australian troops withdrawal is nothing but a means for Labour to try and gain some popularity as they have been doing not all that good in the polls. This might just work for them as noted 64% of Australians are in favour of pull-out.

Every time the government is in trouble, they talk about the “War on Terror” to take people’s attention away from their national screw-ups and to try to stay as the favoured party around the time of the election. It is not surprising that withdrawal might start just before next federal election.

Obviously, both Obama and Gillard will spin the achievements as victory, but they know and everyone else knows that this illegal war and occupation will end as badly as it started.

Afghan conflict is complicated, obviously, NATO has not figured it out. Sooner or later they all will leave, shamelessly and all they have is nothing to show apart from a claim that they supposedly killed Osama and dropped his body in the sea and neutralized terrorist threat that supposedly existed in Afghanistan. And of course no one will ask them about the innocent lives lost and destructions they brought upon people of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: The blame game

از ماست که بر ماست – It is from us which is upon us

It is very rare for a country to get involved so deep in the affairs of another country without an ulterior motive. If NATO countries are fighting in Afghanistan, they are doing it only for their own sake. They are not the least bit interested in what happens to Afghans and Afghanistan. If in the process of their work, some Afghans benefit, they claim the credit but they don’t really give a fig either way.

Let’s face it, Pakistani government is not our best friend either. Fair enough, they let refugees in their country during the years of Soviet invasion and Afghans are still living there as refugees in somewhat peace of mind, but their intention is clear. They only want a government in Afghanistan that is more than just friendly neighbour. The same goes for Iran and even India.

Consequently, whenever there is a discussion about Afghanistan among Afghans, there is hardly a time when some outsider is not blamed for the miseries Afghanistan has faced and still facing. Some blame America, some blame Pakistan, some other blame Iran, and some blame all of them. While there is no doubt all these countries played us over the years, what people forget is a great deal of blame falls on us too. A puppeteer without his puppets is nobody. His art can only exist if he has puppets.

There is a saying in Dari, “Az maast ke bar maast” which translates to “It is from us, which is upon us.” Certainly external forces have been a big factor in the destruction of Afghanistan, but we as Afghans have done enough to 1. Directly by following their order, 2. Indirectly by creating unfortunate situations to benefit them. We have been more than accommodating to their demands for a few dollars.

If we keep a balanced view, we should notice that we share enough responsibility in making Afghanistan what it is now; either as a proxy for outsiders or for our very personal advantages. Next time when you get into a discussion about who is to blame for the bad fortune of Afghanistan, do not forget to mention “Afghans” along with other candidates.

Afghanistan: No Way Ahead

AFghan kid
Poor is getting poorer and rich is getting richer

First thing first, I do not like Karzai. I really don’t, but I can’t help feeling sorry for him at times. When he was offered the position of being a puppet of USA, he probably thought that he would go to Afghanistan, help NATO in capturing Osama and Mullah Omar, get some high-profile jobs and government contracts for his relatives, make some cash in the process from different sources, things will go better, US will leave and he would become the saviour of Afghans from whatever they thought they were fighting.

Didn’t work well for him, did it?! Well, he did most of those things, but now he is stuck in a situation that nobody likes him or trusts him. Northern alliance think he is helping Pakistan, Americans think he has a little too much sympathy for Taliban, Taliban know him as servant of America, people are sick of him because his government is very corrupt and incompetent. I would hate to be in his position right now!

He knows the issues and he knows that he is nobody’s favourite anymore. He tries to change things but it is too late for him. He constantly asks NATO to schedule a withdrawal of their troops, he encourages Taliban to make peace, he even once confronted his own brother about his illegal activities months before he was killed. But nothing seems to be going his way anymore. When I was in Kabul in 2002, I thought Karzai was doing some positive things and since he inherited a fairly peaceful Kabul city and surroundings, we didn’t believe American occupation would last this long.  At that time at least people in Kabul kind of liked him, because they copped it worst from Taliban’s social and recreational restrictions.

I am not a political analyst, but the way I see, the whole thing is one big mess. To be honest I do not see anything that is happening over there in a positive light. It is dim and grim; US  is supposedly staying until 2024 now, which by the way indicates how badly they have failed, insurgents have changed their strategy and are doing more targeted damage now and it is very clear from the recent assassinations that they are picking up momentum, corruption is through the roof, poor is getting poorer and rich is getting richer. Well, actually the last one is true about everywhere in the world.

Right now, I do not believe anyone has a solution for Afghanistan. It looks like they are letting chips fall wherever they may and nobody has a sense of direction. As a matter of fact there is no destination to have a sense of direction for. Walking blind and hoping the next step is the right one, or do we even care if the next step is the right one?

The Afghan Bazaar or Boat Bazaar?

Dandenong is home of great diversity in Melbourne. Like other parts, there are people from different backgrounds living in this heavily multicultural suburb. Rightly so, it is known as the most culturally diverse suburb in Victoria.

Afghan Bazaar, Dandenong
Afghan Bazaar, Dandenong

Afghan businesses have flourished in Dandenong for the past 10 years or so. Specially, Thomas Street is home to many Afghan businesses including restaurants and takeaways, Afghan carpet and rugs stores, Afghan groceries and more. In 2009 after the successful precinct branding of Little India, the Afghan traders advocated for the development of a recognisable brand for Thomas Street. The project was implemented by the City of Greater Dandenong in 2009 and later on the Afghan Bazaar Tour was developed for tourists to have a taste of Afghan culture in the heart of Victoria.

Recently the City of Greater Dandenong has undertaken Afghan Bazaar Streetscape Enhancement Project in Thomas Street Dandenong. Many members of the community have shown interest in this project. There has been face-to-face meetings and workshops, and the City of Greater Dandenong has welcomed opinions from all member of Afghan community.

Some days ago, I received an SMS from a friend suggesting that some members of Afghan community are advocating for changing the name of Afghan Bazaar to something that is either more specific to one ethnic group or strangely enough “Boat Bazaar”. Initially I thought it was just a rumour but this was confirmed by other more active members of the community.

Afghans have been part of the diverse Australian community for over 200 years since the arrival of the cameleers. Contribution of Afghan community is not a new trend that started after arrival of “boat people” but it is well-documented in Australian history. As a matter of fact the rebranding of Thomas Street as Afghan Bazaar was to recognise the contribution of Afghans from the time of the cameleers to date and not that of a particular ethnic group. This is visible from the branding logo.

It will be a sad day for Afghan community in Melbourne to lose this

Afghan Bazaar, Dandenong Photo by: Star Community

recognition to a particular group of people who are trying to score political point. Besides, entertaining the idea of rebranding Afghan Bazaar to “Boat Bazaar” is unethical. This will encourage the arrival of illegal migrants that has caused a lot of issues in the country whether due to unfortunate deaths of boat people or political controversies.

I have always voiced my concern about arrival of illegal migrants and the fact that many people undeservingly used the prosecution of certain ethnic groups in Afghanistan in their advantage to get residency status in Australia. I am not suggesting that all those people were lying about their situation in Afghanistan, but I know for a fact that many people arrived to Australia from Middle East or Pakistan who have used their background to gain sympathy from Australian government and now they are promoting a dangerous and ethnocentric ideology. No matter what ethnic group we belong to, we came to this country as Afghan migrants and anyone denying this fact has a personalised and political agenda.

I do not believe the City of Greater Dandenong will agree to changing the name, however to know that there are people in Australia who would promote such ideas is a cause for concern.

Images from  the City of Greater Dandenong

The future is bleak

Afghan kids
42% of Afghans live below national poverty line. Photo A.P

Afghanistan government estimates that 42 per cent of Afghanistan’s population live below the national poverty line and another 20 per cent just above the line in a position that they could fall below the line at any time. That is pretty sad, however you look at it.

There are probably thousands of organisations that are funded by their governments or through fundraising that have taken oath to help these people. But it seems that the money people so eagerly pay to these organisations do not reach the people who truly need it. Obviously when the field director of an NGO and other expats are paid so handsomely than most of us are paid over here, not much is left to reach to the poor.  Sure, there are some reputable agencies and they are doing the best they can, but obviously they are not enough.

At the moment there is no hope for sustainable future for people who have little to no income. Most of those if lucky are living on either charity or begging. It is also expected that this coming autumn, millions will be struck by hunger. UNWFP is short in funding for its Afghanistan mission and US Congress has proposals to cut funding for humanitarian projects.

In Kabul one Joraie (ie double) Naan costs 10.00 Afghanis, one kilo of potatoes about 20.00 – 30.00 Afghanis. To factor in other staff that are used to prepare a meal of potato and have it with bread for a medium size family will probably be around $2.00  (AU$1.00 ~= AF40.00).  With an average income of $30.00 per month, a man can barely feed his family.

The future looks bleak with little hope of improvement to the life of common man. Corporations are still trying to milk whatever is left from this country. Security is getting worse by the day with recent attacks and assassinations in sight. While US is trying hard to convince us that Afghans are better off now (than say 10 years ago), the statistics are against them. May 2011 was apparently the deadliest since 2007 in terms of civilian casualties.

So on one side, war is causing so much death to innocent civilians (we are not debating who is doing most of the killings here), on the other side, poverty.

When people come back from a trip to Afghanistan they all talk about development. I say to them, what development? Of course we have many TV channels now, but what percentage of population have access to electricity and TV to watch those channels? Sure there are booming shopping centres and modern buildings around Kabul, but who are in them? Obviously somewhere along the line, people have lost their sense of priority.

While we do not see anything in foreseeable future that can provide means of sustainable income to people who are below the poverty line, we can still help those in need to survive the coming autumn and winter. The summer is gonna pass, although it is hot and dry, but when cold comes and people not only have not much to feed themselves, they don’t have any means to stay warm either.
Through however way possible we have to assist those less fortunate. Whether you have family in Afghanistan, or know of a reliable agency whose aim is to help people and not make money on the process, you should help. Forget about computers and technology, people don’t have food and drinking water. Forget about sending computers to schools in Kabul, there are places where there is no school. There are children who do not have access to a pen to write with.

Let’s also pray that, this coming Ramadan, our Du’as are accepted and peace and security is established in Afghanistan so that people can start living again.