Archive for January 9th, 2015

After the Charlie Hebdo attack, we must resist the clash-of-civilisations narrative

Homa Khaleeli
7 January 2015

Terrorism feeds on society’s fears – and the relentless questioning of Muslims’ loyalty plays into its hands

It’s hard to admit to a reaction other than sadness to the murder of 12 people, especially when it takes place in a city that feels so close by. The images of sprawling bodies and masked assailants on familiar-looking streets gives the tragedy an extra edge of horror.

Yet in the moments after the news broke about the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I found it impossible to ignore a sinking feeling: the recognition that we were being pulled further into a cycle of distrust and division.

It grew as I read through the responses online. The straightforward reaction from far-right extremists was the hashtag #killallmuslims, which would have been easy to ignore as empty words if it hadn’t reminded me of the firebombing of mosques after the Lee Rigby murder. Read the rest of this entry »

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Charlie Hebdo: We cannot let the Paris murderers define Islam

Ed Husain
January 7, 2015

Today’s fanatics are blind to the compassion and care in the prophet’s life. Their ignorance must be tackled head on

The killing of journalists in Paris on Wednesday was not only an attack on France but also an assault on Islam and the very freedoms that allow 30 million Muslims to prosper in the west.

Free speech is not a western concept: it is a universal craving of the human soul. The gunmen ran away shouting that they were “avenging the prophet Muhammad”. How dare they? We cannot let the murderers define Islam.

In seventh-century Mecca, it was the prophet Muhammad who fought for free speech to proclaim one God as the creator of life and worthy of worship. The city’s pagans were his violent persecutors.

Today Muslims live freely in every European country because of the very freedoms that the terrorists struck at. Without the freedom to blaspheme and believe, Muslims would be seen as heretics and would be unable to flourish as faith communities in the west. The pogroms and wars of religion in Europe’s history bear testament to European life without freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

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Charlie Hebdo: The ‘them and us’ narrative is a dangerous downward spiral

Nesrine Malik
January 8, 2015

It may suit cynical politicians to push the ‘clash of civilisations’ line, but such polarised thinking is simplistic and can be deadly

It has already started – the talk of a clash of civilisations. After the horrific Paris attack in which 12 people were killed, there is a palpable sense of a Europe on the edge, teetering between righteous anger and tense restraint. Many of the subsequent reactions have fallen along the predictable lines of reasserting the difference between “us” and “them”.

But the Paris attack was not yet another front in the “clash of civilisations”. The term civilisation in itself is meaningless in this context. What civilisation do the terrorists represent? It is understandable that, on the face of it, the attack highlights the perpetrators’ and the victims’ starkly opposed values, one barbaric and silencing, and the other enlightened and freedom loving.

But this is a false dichotomy. It omits a far more uncomfortable and complicated truth about racial tension in France, immigration, and how Muslims are settling in an increasingly secular Europe where the resurgence of rightwing parties has further racialised religion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Najib to reconsider a RCI into the 2014-2015 floods catastrophe as any investigation which excludes inquiry into the failures of National Security Council in making proper Floods Disaster Relief, Mitigation and Management Preparedness will only perpetuate denial syndrome and cover-up complex

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday that Malaysian experts will be engaged by the Government to determine the cause of recent floods and how to mitigate them in future.

The Star report “Experts to be engaged to check floods” quoted Najib as saying yesterday at the official launch of Menara Razak at Universiti Tecknologi Malaysia (UTM): “The issue has been raised in the Cabinet and we have decided we must know the factors that cause the disaster.”
Najib said the Government believed there was sufficient local expertise to conduct the relevant studies.

He said: “We want our experts to guide the Government on what needs to be done both in terms of mitigation as well as sustainable development”.
I find Najib’s announcement most disappointing.

While I welcome an investigation into the worst flood disaster in living memory, the exclusion of the inquiry into the failures of the National Security Council (NSC) in making proper Floods Disaster Relief, Mitigation and Management Preparedness will only perpetuate the government’s denial syndrome and cover-up complex. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Guardian view on Charlie Hebdo: those guns were trained on free speech

The Guardian
7 January 2015

Jihadi Kalashnikovs murdered journalists in Paris, but their aim was at stifling liberty of expression everywhere. The condemnation must be unequivocal

Events in Paris today were beyond belief, indeed beyond words. The adjectives are simply not there to capture the horror unleashed by weapons of war in a civilian office. But the murder of at least a dozen French citizens, including 10 journalists on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, was beyond belief in another sense too.

Whatever faith-based or other objections there may once have been to the publication’s provocative editorial judgments are now entirely beside the point. “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” runs the famous formulation. When men and women have gone to their deaths for nothing more than what they have said, or drawn, there is only one side to be on. The hooded thugs trained their Kalashnikovs on free speech everywhere. If they are allowed to force a loss of nerve, conversation will become inhibited, and liberty of thought itself will falter too. Read the rest of this entry »

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Do Umno/BN want Malaysia to slide down the slippery slope to be a failed state by appointing an UMNO stooge to be Chairman of MCMC?

For nine days since the beginning of the year, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has been without a head, as the former Chairman Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi had been informed that his contract which expired on Dec. 31, 2014 would not be renewed.

Utusan Malaysia editor Zulkifli Jalil said in a commentary that Sharil’s contract was not renewed because MCMC under his watch had given free reign to those who had allegedly incited racial hatred, thereby failing in its role as a regulator.

Probably Sharil should have acted firmly against those who had exploited the cyberspace and misused and abused the social media with lies and falsehoods to incite racial and religious hatred, conflict and tension.

And top of the list of those guilty of such transgressions on the Internet in the past few years when Sharil was Chairman of MCMC would be the UMNO mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia and the army of UMNO cybertroopers, who had no qualms or compunctions in disseminating lies and falsehoods on the Internet to incite racial and religious hatred, conflict and tension. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zahid would have failed his comprehension test in school if he really believed what he said about his infamous letter to FBI

The Home Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi would have failed his comprehension test in school if he really believed what he said about his infamous letter to the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

As reported by the New Straits Times (Jan 7, 2015), Zahid had clarified that his letter to the FBI was to confirm that the “14K triad” did not exist in the country. Read the rest of this entry »


Malay leaders with their one-track minds

By Mariam Mokhtar
Jan 5, 2015

Many Malay leaders only know how to play one note, ‘C’. They should find people who are able to teach them how to use other notes when making intellectual melodies. The tunes these Malay leaders play constantly harp on the Chinese, Christians, communists, children in child custody cases, and compassion.

Decades of indoctrination have damaged the mindsets of many Malays. The process can be undone, but the work has to start now.

If you want to see how jittery some of those in authority are, look at the manner in which the Ipoh City Council (MBI) reacted to the mural which Lithuanian painter and graffiti artist Ernest Zacharevic painted on the wall of an Ipoh shoplot. His painting showed an old man drinking coffee, but to some Malays, the painting resembled Chin Peng, the deceased secretary-general of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).

Sinar Harian reported that the MBI would hold talks with Zacharevic to alter the painting. Some Ipoh residents made allegations of a subtle effort to reintroduce communism to Malaysians. Sense finally prevailed, and the MBI did not make any changes to the painting, but why did they entertain bigots in the first place?

Perak NGO Front chairperson Mohd Salleh Mohd Khan made the absurd suggestion that the owner of the building should be questioned, “so that everything is made clear”.

The violence of the CPM still haunts many Malaysians, but what appears to escape the minds of many Malays, is that their own government is deeply indebted to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Our leaders love it when leaders of the hottest economy on earth want to cultivate their friendship. Mao Zedong’s great leap forward into communism has now been followed by a greater leap in the pursuit of profit. Read the rest of this entry »


Reforming Islam – Where change comes from

Jan 7th 2015

WHEN news came of today’s appalling terrorist attack in Paris, I was in the middle of drafting an Erasmus post with some thoughts on the question: can we expect Islam to undergo its own version of the Reformation, or to produce its own Martin Luther? The subject is addressed, in quite an intelligent way, in the latest issue of Foreign Policy, an American journal, and it is a topical one because various modern figures, from the Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen to Egypt’s military ruler Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have been described, however improbably, as Muslim answers to Martin Luther.

Today’s ghastly events in France make the question even more pressing, because some people will undoubtedly say: this is proof, if proof were needed, that Islam is incorrigibly and by its very nature violent, intolerant and incapable of accepting the liberal ideal of free speech. And if that view gains traction, many Muslims will in turn conclude that in the face of such unremitting hostility, there is no point in even trying to explain their faith to others or seeking accommodation with their neighbours. So the stakes are very high. Read the rest of this entry »

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Liberty and laughter will live on

Simon Schama
Financial Times
January 7, 2015

It was a bloody attempt to wipe away a smile. But they will never kill satire, writes Simon Schama

The murder of satire is no laughing matter. The horrifying carnage at Charlie Hebdo is a reminder, if ever we needed it, that irreverence is the lifeblood of freedom. I suppose it is some sort of backhanded compliment that the monsters behind the slaughter are so fearful of the lance of mirth that the only voice they have to muffle it is the sound of bullets. Magazines such as Charlie Hebdo are in the business of taking liberties, even outrageous ones, but they exist so that we never take the gift of disrespect for granted.

Liberty and laughter have been twinned in the European tradition for more than three centuries and have together proclaimed as precious the right to ridicule. Graphic satire first arose as a weapon in the atrocious and prolonged religious wars that divided Catholics and Protestants. Read the rest of this entry »

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Paris Attack Underscores a Deeper Malaise

Geopolitical Diary
Stratfor Global Intelligence
January 8, 2015

Wednesday’s deadly attack against a French satirical publication has the potential to upset relations between European states and their Muslim citizenries. The strategic intent behind such attacks is precisely to sow this kind of crisis, as well as to influence French policy and recruit more jihadists. Even though Islamist extremism is, at its core, an intra-Muslim conflict, such incidents will draw in non-Muslims, exacerbating matters.

Three suspected Islamist militants attacked the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with high-powered assault rifles, killing 12 people. Among the dead are the editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, who was on a hit list appearing in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine for “insulting the Prophet Mohammed.” Eyewitness said they heard the attackers shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed,” and chanting, “God is Great” in Arabic. This is the third such attack in a Western country in less than three months. The Paris incident involves perpetrators who displayed sophisticated small arms and small unit training.

Whether or not these attacks are the handiwork of self-motivated grassroots jihadists and cells or of individuals tied to international jihadist entities, such incidents aggravate tense relations between the Western and Muslim worlds. This is all the more significant in Europe, where states are experiencing the rise of right-wing nationalism and Muslim communities have long experienced disaffection. The jihadist objective is to get the states to crack down harder on Muslim communities in order to further their narrative that the West is waging war on Islam and Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »

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