Archive for May, 2008


May 31, 2008




Saturday, May 31, 2008


There is serious flaw in not considering within proper context, Maulana Maududi’s verdict on Muslims that remained back in India, after an ‘Islamic state’ is formed where their religion and their Islamic way of life was to be protected from the kind of discriminations that were the starting point of the demand for a separate state/province for Muslims.


MM was responding to a question, the notorious kind that journalists invariably ask, more for argument and less for information. MM’s sarcastic line of argument should not be interpreted to mean that he ‘advocates’ or ‘prefers’ harsh treatment of Indian Muslims by their new ‘Hindu’ rulers. He possibly was encouraging them to appreciate the quality of religious and social life they will enjoy in the new Islamic state of Pakistan and at the same time scaring them of the dire consequences of remaining back in ‘Hindu’ India. He was all for Muslims to migrate in the best tradition of our beloved Prophet (PBUH).


At that stage, neither MM not Maulana Israr Ahmed, could have imagined that India, at least legally as per its constitution, would not become a Hindu religious state; even though in practice it already had become a Brahmin dominated state. Religious freedom to some extant was available to Indian Muslims in British rule too. But the thought of British handing effective power to highly communalised Brahmin rulers of independent India, was naturally nightmarish to practically all Muslims across the board, in terms of new religious/political changes in the country.


In the event, even though India is still highly communalised, its legal system, its constitutional safeguards to a large extent, give Indian Muslims a fair chance to rise up and even govern the country, if they can play the political game according to the new rules of the game. If a US or Israel can organise and manage a peaceful ‘regime change’ without firing a single shot; who has stopped the Muslims to get their due in their own land.


The problem with Muslims and especially with the Indian Muslim in the context of present discussion is that they just do not have what it takes to assume the role of the leader of the nation or nations. A shift of focus from the clamouring about immediate bread and butter issues to the higher level of resolve to help humanity at large could possibly bring in much better results. Islam at this juncture has so much positive to contribute to the world, that it will be a big mistake if we the Muslims should squander our energy and intellectual assets to fight internecine one-upmanship.


Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai



Indian Muslims <; 


Maulana Maududi’s Terrifying Vision for Indian Muslims


Posted: 30 May 2008 06:49 PM CDT


Maulana Maududi’s estranged disciple and Tanzeem-e-Islami chief Dr. Israr Ahmed appearing on the Jawabdeh program of GEO television in 2005 made some startling remarks about Indian Muslims. According to a published report of the program in the liberal Daily Times he reportedly said the following:


 In an Islamic state non-Muslims would be second-class citizens. He said if India decided after that to declare all Muslims second-class citizens then that would be right too. He said Muslims had fought in India on the claim that they were a different nation. There was no harm if India considered its Muslims a separate nation.[1] 


Dr. Israr Ahmed’s lack of concern for the protection of the rights of India’s Muslims is hardly surprising when looked through the prism of the views of his mentor Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi. Both were comfortable with a possible political scenario in India where the nation’s Muslims were reduced to second class citizens.


In the often cited Munir Commission report Maulana Maududi emphatically said in reply to a query that he will have no problem if Indian Muslims were treated on par with the Malechas or “untouchables.”  He was asked the question, “If we have this form of Islamic government in Pakistan, will you permit the Hindus to base their constitution on the basis of their religion?” He reportedly replied, “I should have no objection even if the Muslims of India are treated in that form of Government as shudras and malishes and Manu’s laws are applied to them, depriving them of all share in the Government and the rights of a citizen. In fact, such a state of affairs already exists in India.”[2]


But the venerable Maulana later on denied making such a statement. In a letter to Dr. Nejatullah Siddiqi, he wrote:


There is a fair amount of distortion in things attributed to me in Munir Report. Actually, I did not say that Manu’s Dharma Shastra be introduced in India, and that I would concur with the treatment of Muslims as Mleccas and Shudras. In fact these were [Justice Muhammad] Munir Sahib’s own remarks which he attributed to me. His question was: “If you want an Islamic government, would you then agree if a Hindu government is formed in India, where Manu’s Dharma Shastra would be introduced.” What I had told him [Justice Munir] was that it is up to Hindus to decide what they wanted to do and what they did not want to do. They will not ask us what form of system they would establish. Our task is to work according to our belief and faith wherever we have the option. As to India , there the Hindus will do whatever they want to whether we agree with them or not.”


Despite the denial there are at least two other instances where the Maulana made known his contempt for Indian Muslims?  A booklet titled Jamaat-e-Islami Ki Dawat contains a speech made by Maulana Maududi on May 10, 1947. In it he says:


It appears now certain that the country will be partitioned. One portion of India will be given to the Muslim majority and the other will be controlled by the non-Muslims. In the first part (Pakistan) we shall mobilize public opinion to base Pakistan’s constitution on the Islamic laws. In the other part we will be in a minority and you (Hindus) will be in a majority. We would request you to study the lives and teachings of Ramchandra, Krishnaji, Buddha, Guru Nanak and other sages. Please study the Vedas, Puranas, Shastras and other books. And if you cull out any divine guidance from these, we would request you to base your constitution on this guidance. We would request you to treat us exactly on the lines of the teachings of your religions. We would raise no objections. [3]


Further evidence of Maulana Maududi’s disdain for Indian Muslims is evident from his following answer to a question regarding the permissibility of a Pakistani male citizen marrying an Indian Muslim female:


Answer: As far as I know the Quran’s derivative is that there can be no relations of inheritance and marriage between the residents of Darul Islam and Darul Kufr…From now on there should be no marital relations between Indian and Pakistani Muslims.”[4]


This shows that the Maulana not only disregarded the plight of Indian Muslims but also considered them unequal to Pakistani Muslims.


It is the good fortune of Indian Muslims that the founding fathers and the present rulers of   India did not heed the calls of Maulana Maududi or an Israr Ahmed. As it is the nation’s imperfect democracy has relegated the community to the most backward status. One can only imagine what would have been the scenario if a theocracy was imposed upon them.














[2] Report of the Court of Inquiry …to Enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953. (Lahore: Superintendent of Government Printing, 1954), p.228. Cited in Dr. Omar Khalidi’s ‘Between Muslim Nationalists and Nationalist Muslims: Mawdudi’s Thoughts on Indian Muslims. (New Delhi: Institute of Objective Studies, 2004)


[3] Cited in S.E.Hasnain’s Indian Muslims: Challenges & Opportunities (Bombay: Lalvani Publishing House, 1968) pp.51-52.


[4] Mahnama Tarjumanul Quran, September 1951. Cited in Khalid Waheed Falahi’s Hindustan Mein Zaat Paat Aur Musalman.  p. 357.



There Are No Role Models – Indian Muslim suffer from a lack of leadership

May 30, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008



TO: The Editor, The Times of India, Mumbai


RE: Leader article: There Are No Role Models – Indian Muslim suffer from a lack of leadership,flstry-1.cms#write


MJ AKBAR has erred in trying to search for a flesh and bones leader of Indian Muslims when he writes that there are no role Models.


It is ironical that when Irshad Haqqani, one of senior Pakistani journalists is writing in Urdu and his article is published in URDU TIMES Mumbai on the same day TOI published Akbar’s article, describes how Israel’s doughty Prime Minister Golda Meir replied to a Washington Post interviewer, as to how she made up her mind to order huge amounts of guns, missiles and planes for 1973 war with her neighbours? He asked: Whether it was a spur of the moment decision or an old calculated strategy, as her entire cabinet was against it, citing heavy costs. Golda Meir said, I found my reasoning from the career of Prophet Mohammed, about whom I had studied in my comparative religious study classes in student days. When the Prophet died, his wife had to sell his shield to buy oil to light the lamp. Still he had nine swords hanging on the walls. History does not record his poverty. His triumphs are legend. Golda Meir reasoned that Israel’s history will not record how poor and destitute the Jews were during those early days. Only our triumph will be remembered and copied.


With a role model like the prophet, who had inspired even the present day Muslim’s worst enemies, how MJ Akbar seems to be complaining that Muslims have no role model?



Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


LEADER ARTICLE: There Are No Role Models
30 May 2008, 0034 hrs IST , M J Akbar




Bollywood is the clearest mirror of popular perceptions, reflecting part of the truth even as it shapes other parts.


Truth, after all, is a set of fragments, some contradictory, some complementary. When and how did the Indian Muslim become an indelible part of the Bollywood underworld.


The arc of decline from the misty world of Nawabs in Mere Mehboob to the sentimental glitz of goons in Maqbool is a trajectory of shifting role models among Muslim youth.


Villains change on screen as necessarily as they shift outside the cinema hall. The three stereotype villains of the Fifties all belonged to upper Hindu castes.


There was the violent, exploitative Thakur, whether in a classic like the Dilip Kumar-Vyjanthimala Madhumati or a potboiler like the Dharmendra-Jayalalitha Izzat.


The scheming Brahmin, Narada, was a constant of mythologicals. The Bania moneylender, epitomised in Mother India, was the worst, leering at women and extracting wealth out of famine.


These were not single-dimensional images: there was also the noble, patriotic, generous Thakur syndrome, for instance.


Perhaps the most powerful symbol of Sholay was the armless Thakur, turned impotent in the line of duty. Eventually, happy-go-lucky vagrants destroyed the evil Gabbar Singh.


By 1976 the saviour had become a variation of the emerging audience. As befits the new corporate age, crime became more professional and sophisticated, and space between smuggling, business and politics narrowed.


Gradually, the Muslim became the primary face among the foot soldiers of the underworld.


A role model must merge contemporary compulsions and aspirations. The model for young Muslims in the 1940s was obviously Jinnah.


They were oblivious of the traumatic potential of partition, and were charred by the killing hot winds of 1947 and the Fifties. Nehru, rather than Gandhi (who they had rejected), became the new model as he began, gently, to restore their self-confidence and nurture some degree of security.


But the security was partial, and Nehru did little to reverse the marginalisation of Muslims from the economy.


The Sixties were the decade of despair. Desperation discovered a strange role model: Haji Mastan. In the disturbed, distraught and fragmented mind of Muslim youth of the Sixties, no one else seemed to be giving Muslims any jobs.


Since they had no faith in the white economy, and the white economy seemed to have no faith in them, they turned to the black economy.


Haji Mastan was so impressed by the support he seemed to get from the community that he even started a political party. It did not work because crime does not work.


What was the alternative? The elite had disappeared on the auction blocks of Lucknow and Hyderabad (pace Mere Mehboob); the professional middle class of the north had migrated to Pakistan in large numbers.




Muslims felt deeply betrayed by Congress politicians, with their litany of double standards. The anger sharpened during the politics of Babri Masjid: the Congress was responsible for everything, from the opening of the locks in 1948 to laying the foundation stone of the temple in 1989 to indifference while the mosque was destroyed in 1992.


The BJP was the perceived enemy, of course, but the BJP could not be accused of betrayal, because it had never been trusted.


In this vacuum, the hysterical mullah, or his counterpart, became the role model of the Seventies and Eighties. There is little point in naming the prominent among them, for they turned irrelevant as quickly as they ascended.


The demolition of Babri in 1992, the riots that followed and the bomb blasts of Mumbai in 1993 were a historical watershed.


You cannot be disillusioned if you do not entertain illusions, so there was no rise in bitterness against the Congress; but there was sudden disillusionment with the Muslim purveyors of rabid rhetoric.


The role model split after Babri. The overwhelming sentiment is for a new Sir Sayyid Ahmad, founder of Aligarh Muslim University, who argued that salvation lay in both English and the English, the emblems of progress and success.


This is not a revival of the politics of separation; Indian Muslims know that they are the chief victims of partition.


This is a revival of the culture of modern education. I have argued at every public forum, and in my writing, that this thrust will not achieve its full potential until the girl child gets an equal place in the Indian Muslim’s quest for modernity. If gender bias is not eliminated, Indian Muslims cannot enter the 20th century, let alone the 21st. The good news is that girls are being educated in far greater numbers than ever before.


But there was another role model lurking in a corner of the consciousness, born out of the belief that those who started riots against Muslims were stopped only because of the 1993 blasts.


The anger of the victim justified terrorism. This is a minuscule section, but it exists and has merged its fantasies with the Osama bin Laden phenomenon.


This is the wart that could poison the future. It will not be eliminated by arbitrary repression; but it can disappear with the assimilation of the community into economic growth and educational opportunity.


Fifteen years after the watershed moment of 1992, Indian Muslims have reached another crossroads. The overwhelming majority will travel the road towards progress out of nothing more complicated than common sense.


But there is a regressive minority within this minority. It needs as never before the leadership of a modern Sir Sayyid. History has offered a role, but there is no one capable of being model.


(The writer is a journalist and author.) 




Open letter to K. Subrahmanyam re his Indian Express article: Sonia’s Choice

May 29, 2008

Open letter to K. Subrahmanyam re his Indian Express article: Sonia’s Choice  


Thursday, May 29, 2008


Dear Mr. K. Subrahmanyam, Good day


This refers to your IE article: Sonia’s Choice (May 27, 2008).


I am surprised that you have written such a personal and emotional address to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, working on her special relationship with her late husband Rajiv Gandhi to push a line of action that apparently is not supported by a wide circle of political leaders, elected members of parliament and general public. To deal with the proposed Indo- US civilian nuclear agreement is something in public domain and is not a private affair of the Gandhi family. It is people like you though enjoying highest level of credibility in your chosen field, when stoop to the such personal level of sycophancy to win an argument that on the one hand erode their bona fide and on the other hand openly sets examples that eventually threatens the democratic structure of our nation.


You have failed to distinguish and inform your readers that the issue has two very different and distinct levels that require evaluation on two different counts. One is the technical and economic side of the issue, while the other is a commitment to forge a legal relationship that opens the country to exploitation and forces it to a regime of compromise that pinches on national sovereignty.


You may feel that the danger of any internal constraints on US administration is merely a paper detail, it certainly appear to be so to a wide spectrum of public opinion.


Some of seniors like you may be fully experienced in the art of diplomacy and governance to take such risks, but you will have to take the people in your confidence before you can morally commit the nation to any controversial and uncertain line of action.


As far as the basic nature of US interaction with India or any other developing country, there is long history of US considering it legitimate to force weaker nation to its self-centered agenda, through employing any number of pressure tactics and leverage, from open threats to arm twisting or global propaganda or even regime change.


It is for this reason that the Indian government should be strengthened through greater public debate, scrutiny, full transparency, building accountability in to decision making processes. The more public participation in matters of such profound nature that could impose on national security and its freedom of action, the more the official will be confident in dealing with their counter part on the other side.


Agreements of the nature of 123, must be presented to the Parliament, the issue should be thoroughly debated and the agreement should be put to vote. If US Congress has such legislatively clout, why Indian parliament should be so callously short-circuited.


Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai



Sonia’s choice


By K. Subrahmanyam


Posted online: Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 0021 hrs



Whether to sacrifice national interests for a few more months in power



The president of the Congress, Sonia Gandhi, is facing a lonely decision as she did in the summer of 2004 when she decided to step aside in favour of Manmohan Singh as prime minister. At that stage, she was under tremendous pressure from almost all her partymen to assume the office of the prime minister. She asserted that she was listening to her “inner voice” and therefore not accepting their near-unanimous pleas. Once again, she faces the lonely decision whether to focus on the Indian national interest and Rajiv’s legacy or be influenced by her party veterans who tend to put what they consider, often mistakenly, party interests ahead of other vital considerations.


Rajiv Gandhi wanted to integrate India technologically with the world. He laid the foundation of India’s nuclear weapons programme and of the expansion of its civil nuclear programme by initiating negotiations with Russia on the Kudankulam project. Are we going to sustain and nurture his legacy or are we going to wind it up because the Left threatens to withdraw its support to the government if India were to continue the Rajiv legacy of technologically integrating with the world? All this for a few more months in office?


Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to make India a nuclear-weapon state was a painful one taken after four years of agonising. It was a lonely one. He might have informally consulted R. Venkataraman and P.V. Narasimha Rao who were the two in the know on the weapon research effort during Indira Gandhi’s days. But the decision was his alone. The cabinet was not in it, nor the party. Nuclear decisions all over the world were lonely ones and submitted to legislatures and parties for debate post facto. So it was when Atal Bihari Vajpayee took the decision to conduct the Shakti tests. When such decisions are taken by leaders the legislatures and parties usually accept them. Only leaders who have the confidence to carry the party and legislatures usually take such decisions.


The nuclear weapon effort is Rajiv’s legacy. He initiated it after a lot of agonising. I am personally aware of it since I had argued with him on that issue for almost a year in 1985. He appointed an inter-disciplinary group under his chairmanship to debate the nuclear issue. It had as members chief ministers Karunakaran and Saikia, Arun Singh, the cabinet secretary, the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, two intelligence chiefs, Raja Ramanna, Bimal Jalan, the chief economic advisor and R.K. Khandelwal, chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee, as secretary. I was the only person from outside the government. I was the most vocal advocate for India going nuclear. Many others were on my side but chose to keep somewhat muted.


Rajiv was clearly unhappy about India going nuclear. At one point, he asked if India could not offer a revised, non-discriminatory, draft Non-Proliferation Treaty. I was not a believer in the Western nuclear strategy and nuclear war-fighting. But I argued that nuclear weapons were the currency of power in that world and India needed them for its security and strategic autonomy. After several sessions of arguments spread over months he directed that a study be conducted on the cost of going nuclear. A committee under General Sundarji, with R. Chidambaram, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Vice-Admiral Nayyar and Air-Marshal Johnny Greene went into the issue and came up with the report that at a cost of Rs 7000 crore (at 1985 prices) and over seven years time a credible minimum deterrent of 100 warheads and 100 missiles could be produced. After this report was submitted there were no more meetings of the interdisciplinary group.


But it was obvious that Rajiv was against going nuclear. In 1986, he distanced himself from Ramanna and rejected his recommendation to appoint P.K. Iyengar, a weapon scientist, as his successor. He chose M.R. Srinivasan, a reactor engineer, as the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He initiated negotiations on the Kudankulam reactors. He joined Mikhail Gorbachev in issuing the Delhi declaration on a nuclear-weapon free, nonviolent world. He persisted in this policy though Pakistan had publicly boasted about its nuclear weapon and threatened India during Operation Brasstacks.


Rajiv Gandhi presented his action plan for disarmament to the UN General Assembly on June 9, 1988, in which he fervently pleaded for global disarmament. He offered that India would not go nuclear if the world were to accept his phased disarmament plan. He asked them to negotiate a new non-discriminatory NPT. He also issued a veiled warning. He said, “Left to ourselves we would not want to touch nuclear weapons. But when tactical considerations, in the play of great power rivalry, are allowed to take precedence over the imperative of non-proliferation, with what leeway are we left?”


Rajiv Gandhi’s pleas were totally ignored. After another eight or nine months of agonising, he put India’s security and interests ahead of all other considerations and directed the weaponisation of the Indian nuclear programme. It could not have been an easy decision for him. But Indian security came first. Today, senior US statesmen like George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry and Sam Nunn invoke the words of Rajiv Gandhi to derive support for their campaign for a nuclear-weapon free world, some 19 years after Rajiv Gandhi vainly pleaded for nuclear disarmament.


He envisaged Kudankulam as the beginning of collaboration with foreign countries for rapid expansion of our civil nuclear programme. While the credit for conducting the tests may go to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the father of both the military nuclear programme and the renewal of foreign civil nuclear cooperation is Rajiv Gandhi. It should not be forgotten either that the first Indo-US military technical cooperation agreement was also initiated by him.


People all over the country understand that the decision on nurturing Rajiv Gandhi’s legacy of the nuclear issue rests wholly with Sonia Gandhi. Manmohan Singh would have gone ahead with it on his own. She should now listen to her inner voice and not depend upon the advice of her veteran party advisors. It will not be to her credit or to the long-term credibility of her party if Dr Singh is unable to sustain his international standing. Let her pause and reflect on her own. Rajiv Gandhi’s legacy is at stake.


The writer is a senior defence analyst





India as a Neutral Power

May 26, 2008




Monday, May 26, 2008



India as a Neutral Power



As this juncture of a virtual flux and realignment of different power sectors around the world in the dying days of Bush presidency, mainly caused by Bush acts of commission and omission, damaging his own country, its world power and grudging world acceptance of the US as the sole super power status, India is at the threshold of assuming a very crucial and positive role in world politics, especially when matters focus around ‘foreign interventions in the internal affairs’ of troubled nations. India’s credentials as a big country, when compared to US, UK, NATO, UN’s present low ratings in world acceptability as honest brokers in areas of world conflicts, opens for India an important window to dug deep into its own peace ethos and use the trust of smaller countries around the world, to help in maintaining world peace.




It is heartening, that even without Indian leadership’s any conscious overt or covert attempt to take up such a role of an honest broker or unbiased mediator, India’s name is cropping up at various junctures, as a country worthy of trust and goodwill.


Indian leadership should take this natural phenomenon with humility and dedication and built on it to carve for India a role that is the most anguished cry of the beleaguered world.





Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai





May 26, 2008







Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The Editor, Afternoon Despatch and Courier, Mumbai


This refers to V. Sundaram’s views ( as reported in Arup K. Isaacs’s 10/5 letter) on Aga Khan’s role in Muslim and Indian politics in general and the freedom struggle and British conspiracy in dividing India before they hand over the country to the natives. It is time, we study the whole saga in a non-partisan and matter of fact way and do not get carried away by popular myths about who was the main culprit in dividing our country.


Sundaram’s account to a great extant is very correct and the collusion between the British and Aga Khan is corroborated by several official documents including the secret correspondence between several actors in the play of the great game as released by the British government. It will show that in the end, Aga Khan and company were less serving the Muslims as the Muslims foolishly believed, than their old benefactors, the British with whom they had been collaborating over a century before India was divided, especially in the great game scenarios in central Asia. Narendera Singh Sarila, a Indian diplomat, has extensively researched the British archival documents and in his book has correctly put the whole onus on the British and especially on Churchill who had advised Viceroy Wavell to ‘keep some part for us’ —- that part was Pakistan.


It was sold to gullible Muslims as a haven for them, while in fact; it was cleverly carved as a military outpost by British with full understanding with the US, and there is reason to believe that all top Indian leaders were fully aware of the British game and went along, first as they were getting a piece of land, with full and uncontested power to rule, and they were more relieved that the Muslim component of British Indian armed forces could be shipped out of their boundaries.


On this count, Nehru, Jinnah, Bhutto, Mujibur Rehman, all have one thing in common. All of them were ready, willingly or unwillingly, to let go of a part of their own country, across the table, as long as they got the residue part, for them to rule exclusively with all opposition out of way. For all of them unbridle monopoly power at the top was more important than the country they were to inherit in a quark of history, where the outside factor of the WWII and bankruptcy of the colonial British was the more decisive factor in India coming out of its bondage than any agitation by Indian freedom fighters.


As an Indian Muslim, who is victim of the popular mythmaking from motivated Indian Brahmins, I feel the role of British, Aga Khan and Indian National Congress, if correctly and dispassionately analyzed, will prove that Muslims were more sinned than sinning.


And the role of Aga Khan and Jinnah, an Aga Khani Khoja, should be reexamined to clear the stigma of partition on Muslim masses.



Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

May 19, 2008



Monday, May 19, 2008




Re: Bush criticizes Arab nations for repression

I heard Bush speech at WEF and picked up a sentence that has been engaging my attention. Bush laments that democracy in the Middle East at present means that those in opposition should remain in prison.


I could not help trying to figure out how much Bush and his administration has been intrumental in placing millions of those in opposition to Israelis, to be imprisioned, without any regard for their democratic or human rights in Gaza and West Banks. Is Bush ready to condemn US and Israelis on that count? What are Palestinians if not ‘political prisnors’ in the Israeli concentration camp called the occupied territories.


Will Bush first clean his own stables and restore democracy to the two main areas of Israel and Palestine so that his own worries about the deficiencies in Middle East democracies could be corrected and people are liberated from the tyrannies of arbitrary rulers, be they imposed by their own kind, or by the international interventionists.


Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai,0,4481854.story



Bush criticizes Arab nations for repression

The president wraps up his five-day trip by calling on Middle East nations to embrace economic reforms and women’s rights.


By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

May 19, 2008

CAIRO — In vivid contrast to his effusive stopover in Israel, President Bush ended a five-day Middle East trip on Sunday by criticizing Arab nations for political repression and urging them toward economic reforms and women’s rights.

The president’s speech at the World Economic Forum in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik crystallized an approach that in Arab eyes stubbornly favors Israel over their own concerns and interests. Bush’s language was in many ways supportive, but his characterization of the region was a pointed challenge to U.S. allies, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

“Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail,” Bush said in an addressto about 1,500 global policymakers and business leaders. “America is deeply concerned about the plight of political prisoners in this region, as well as democratic activists who are intimidated or repressed, newspapers and civil society organizations that are shut down and dissidents whose voices are stifled.”

He added, “I call on all nations in this region to release their prisoners of conscience, open up their political debate and trust their people to chart their future.”

The mood was markedly different from that on Wednesday, when Bush began his tour of the region by celebrating Israel’s 60th anniversary and receiving a standing ovation in the parliament, or Knesset, for uttering “Happy Independence Day” in Hebrew.

The Arab press condemned what it regarded as the president’s warm embrace of Israel and lack of understanding of the Palestinian cause. The Bush administration has been blamed for such favoritism for years, and Sunday’s comments appeared to underscore the president’s misgivings about the Arab world while lauding its economic potential.

“The president was himself, finally. Maybe because this is the end of his political career,” said Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian Cabinet minister and now a lecturer at Birzeit University. “This is actually him. This is George Bush the human being, not the politician. . . . I always thought he was a Christian Zionist and a fundamentalist ideologue.”

On Air Force One after the economic forum, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Bush’s visit was “very fruitful. . . . It’s not the last time that the president is going to be with these leaders. It’s not the last time that he’s going to have an opportunity to press this agenda forward.

“But it was yet another opportunity for him to make sure that everybody understands America’s very firm commitment to all these goals,” she said.

In his remarks, Bush emphasized that he would continue his push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord before he leaves office in January. The president met over the weekend with Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who days earlier had referred to Israel’s statehood as a catastrophe for Palestinians.

“We must stand with the Palestinian people, who have suffered for decades and earned the right to a homeland of their own,” Bush said. “A peace agreement is in the Palestinians’ interest, it is in Israel’s interest, it is in Arab states’ interest, and it is in the world’s interest. And I firmly believe that with leadership and courage, we can reach that peace agreement this year.”

For many in the Arab world, Bush’s seven years in office have produced too few gains to call the trip a victory lap and too many diplomatic failures to evoke a sense of nostalgia.

Hani Masri, a Palestinian columnist for the newspaper Al Ayyam, said, “Bush is trying to wash his hands from his promise. All his Middle East policies have failed, in Iraq, Lebanon and now here. So he tries to appear that he is fighting for democracy just for the sake of his legacy.”

The president’s calls for ending political repression and widening democracy strike many in the region as hypocrisy. In 2004, the Bush administration urged Egypt and other nations to allow free elections and political dissent. But after the Muslim Brotherhood won 20% of the seats in the Egyptian parliament in 2005, Washington fell largely silent when the Mubarak government cracked down on the organization, which the U.S. and Egypt feared would inspire other Islamist movements.

The Bush administration has relied on the support of Egypt and Saudi Arabia — countries with poor human rights records that frequently jail political opponents — to help contain Iran and bring stability to Iraq and Lebanon.

U.S. policy has become further complicated with the growing appeal of the militant groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Analysts here said that simply put, Bush’s call for democracy is rhetoric that runs contrary to the White House’s interests.

“Bush used strong words and leveled a harsh criticism against Arab governments, but this is nothing but public criticism,” said Amr Shobaki, an analyst with Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. “His talk about democracy is part of a public relations discourse. . . . There is no real intention or mechanism to pressure those regimes to embark on democratization.”

National security advisor Stephen Hadley characterized Bush’s tone as “one of optimism about what is possible in the Middle East; that the transformation to freedom, democracy, open markets and prosperity that occurred in Asia and Europe in the 20th century is possible in the Middle East in the first half of the 21st century.”

“The speech makes clear that to do this there needs to be economic reform . . . and then of course the promotion of freedom,” Hadley said.

Ahmed Thabet, an analyst at Cairo University, said Bush’s speech “will increase the tensions in the region and jeopardize U.S. interests.”

He added: “It is Bush’s policies that made those groups [Hamas and Hezbollah] stronger. . . . They evolved to resist the Israeli occupation.”

Although parts of the speech read like a lecture to Arab governments, Bush also offered praise. He cited Egypt, whose 80-year-old President Mubarak is facing labor unrest and protests over inflation, for reforms that have led to economic growth. But he also said Egypt, which receives about $2 billion in annual U.S. aid, cannot achieve permanent prosperity unless it undergoes political reform. Bush reportedly spoke to Mubarak about jailed political activist Ayman Nour.

“Nations across the region have an opportunity to move forward with bold and confident reforms — and lead the Middle East to its rightful place as a center of progress and achievement,” Bush said. “We have seen the stirrings of reform from Morocco and Algeria to Jordan and the Gulf states. . . . America appreciates the challenges facing the Middle East. Yet we also appreciate that the light of liberty is beginning to shine.”

Challenging nations such as Saudi Arabia that discriminate against women, Bush urged greater women’s rights as a “matter of morality and of basic math. No nation that cuts half its population from opportunities will be as productive or as prosperous as it could be. Women are a formidable force, as I have seen in my own family and my own administration.”


Times staff writer Ashraf Khalil in Jerusalem and Noha El-Hennawy in The Times’ Cairo Bureau contributed to this report.




May 18, 2008



6:57 PM 5/18/2008


While his troops reportedly were target practicing by shootings at a copy of Quran in the neighboring occupied Iraq, US President Bush has the audacity of speaking at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm al Sheikh WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM and boasting:


“In our democracy, we would never punish a person for owning a Koran.”


The world should recognize and condemn this re-incarnation of the infamous Nazi propagandist, Goebble.



Behind the Scenes: Apology for a desecration


By Michael Ware



In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the events. CNN’s Michael Ware covers the Iraq war.



CNN’s Michael Ware says the Quran incident could have become a crisis.


 BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — What the Iraqi fighter found threatened America‘s vital alliance with Sunni militia.


A week ago in a police station shooting range on Baghdad’s western outskirts, the American-allied Iraqi militiaman found what one or more GIs had been using for target practice — a copy of the Quran, Islam’s holy book.


Riddled with bullets, the rounds piercing deep into the thick volume, the pages were shredded. Turning the holy book in his hands, the man found two handwritten English words, scrawled in pen. “F*** yeah.”


The discovery was incendiary. It was an affront to Islam and a serious challenge to the religious credentials of the U.S-allied militias, or Awakening Councils, who turned on al-Qaeda and are now on the U.S. government payroll.  Watch villagers protest the incident »


Largely moderate Sunnis, the American-backed militias face constant accusations from Islamic groups that they have turned against Islam to support the cause of the infidels, or nonbelievers. If this indignity had gone unanswered, the Islamists’ case would have been won.


Abdullah, the militiaman who found the defaced Quran, complained to his superiors. Soon, there was outrage among the tribes and population of Radhwaniya, a semi-rural area long home to loyalists of the former regime of Saddam Hussein.


Word of what the Americans had done rippled throughout the district and the fury spread. Honor was at stake, and the urge for a violent response against the insult was strong. However, tribal leaders made an approach to American commanders in the region. “Honestly, we have to defend our religion,” said Sheikh Saad al-Falahi, “and relations [with the U.S.] would deteriorate if they did not apologize.”


[Don’t Miss

Soldier uses Quran for target practice]

Having fought and then negotiated so hard and for so long to quiet the insurgency in Radhwaniya, American commanders were wary of the potential crisis.


The U.S. 4th Infantry Division is posted in Baghdad and surrounds; many of its commanders and soldiers are veterans of the Iraq campaign. Col. Ted Martin, commander of the Division’s 1st Brigade, immediately launched an investigation, promising the tribal leaders a swift outcome.


Investigators soon identified the Army section that had been at the police station’s small arms range, and a staff sergeant, a sniper section leader from the 64th Armor Regiment, was the primary suspect. After denying involvement, the sergeant eventually confessed, though he claimed he had no idea the book used for target practice was a Quran. Martin dismissed the excuse.


On Saturday, about a week after the incident (locals say the shooting practice was on May 9, U.S. forces say the Quran was discovered May 11), CNN was present for the showdown in Radwaniyeh as the Americans faced the tribes.


U.S. commanders arrived at a police outpost in heavily armored vehicles to be met by a human tempest; hundreds of chanting tribesmen lined up behind razor wire, offering their blood and souls in sacrifice for the Quran.


A former college quarterback, Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, stood facing the angry crowd. His face was grim and fixed as tribal sheikhs swirled around him.


“I am a man of honor, I am a man of character. You have my word, this will never happen again,” the general told the angry crowd through loudspeakers, pounding the makeshift podium three times with his fist.


“In the most humble manner, I look in to your eyes today and I say, please forgive me and my soldiers.” The act of his sniper was criminal, he said. “I’ve come to this land to protect you, to support you…this soldier has lost the honor to serve the United States Army and the people of Iraq here in Baghdad.”


Martin stood before the crowd next, opening his address with an Islamic blessing. He announced the sergeant had been relieved of duty with prejudice; reprimanded by the commanding general with a memorandum of record attached to his military record; dismissed from the regiment and redeployed from the brigade.


Holding a new Quran in his hands, he turned to the crowd. “I hope that you’ll accept this humble gift.” Martin kissed the Quran and touched it to his forehead as he handed it to the tribal elders. The crowd’s voice rose, “Yes, yes, to the Quran. No, no, to the devil.”


But would it be enough to appease the mood in Radhwaniya? A local sheikh came to the microphone. “In the name of all the sheikhs,” he said, “we declare we accept the apology that was submitted.”


With hands shaken and sheepish thank-yous made, the general and the colonel returned to their armored convoy. The crisis, it seems, was averted.


The stakes, though, had been high. If accord had not been found, says Sheikh Ayad Abd al-Jabbar, head of the local Support Council, it could have been dire.


“Then surely the situation would have changed in another direction and more tension will have risen up, after all the cooperation with the Americans to restore security.”




May 15, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008





By Ghulam Muhammed



The world should thank the lawmakers of the US for their two term restrictions on elected Presidents, or it would have taken a world war to take out the new Hitler of the world who goes by the name of George W. Bush.


His speech at the Israeli Knesset, today, on his visit to Israel on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel, was a virtual rehash of Hitlerian world view with its own self-serving convoluted logics and untruth. When he talks about killings of innocents and human rights, he is blind to his own role in the killing machine that he converted out of the US during his presidency. Lofty ideas on religion and prophecies cannot hide the stark the fact that the murderous streak of this mad man can never be satiated by the bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan. He tamely accepts that Israel has a covenant with God that had granted the Israelis their own homeland. For him, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims all belong to the other side of old good and evil conflict and have to be destroyed. Throughout his 20 minutes speech, he was so committed to the state of Israel, as if he was ready to hand over the United States of America to the Jews, whether the people of US agreed or not. There was no doubt that all his speeches throughout his visit to Israel were drafted by Zionist neo-cons still lurking in the nooks and corners of the White House. In that sense, he was just a slavish actor, playing out a role dictated by the playwrights and director of the Zionist World Order. This was in no way the voice of the majority of the US. It was the voice of a very miniscule minority that has a deadly stranglehold on the Presidency of the US. This minority has suffocated the majority of the people of the US and forced them to follow its dictates, with Israel its main cause célèbre. This President is not the leader of a free nation. It is being openly and publicly controlled and manipulated by the American Jewish oligarchs.


Bush has spoken about his vision of a peaceful Middle East, after having demolished all potential aggressive tendencies by using the Japanese example. He mentioned who could imagine that the Japanese hara-kiri – the supposed precursor to today’s suicide bombers, could be so tamed after the use of two fist size atom bombs, that today Japan is not only a robust ally of the western world, but is a bulwark against anti-western movements. In effect, he made out a case of bombing Iran with a nuclear bomb, so as to subdue the whole of the Muslim world. This he thought was the most easily available option to bring peace to Middle East, with Israel at its center. 


The biggest mistake Bush and his Jewish handlers are making is to compare their old adversaries with the new ones from the world of Islam. Hitler and Communists had short lives and departed from the world stage with varying degrees of irrelevance. Bush and his Jewish handlers cannot take on Islam with the same degree of brutal force. Islam works in strange ways. The more it is challenged, the more it bounces back. Islam as an ideology is not manifest in the sacrifices of suicide bombers or the terror tactics of the extremely despondent desperadoes. Islam penetrates in the remotest recesses of human beliefs and commands its relevance at all ages and stages.


Jews have survived through centuries of Muslim dominated societies. Muslims have always accommodated them, came to their rescue when the Christians came hunting them. Jews through all their past have suffered more at the hands of their ‘co-religionists’ than at the hands of Muslims. However, the new birth of Jewish/Zionist militancy forces them to overstretch themselves. President Bush was very poetic when he said, that the 7 million Israelis should count themselves as 307 million strong, as the people of the US stand by them. Even when he was uttering these hollow words, the dour faces of Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and Olmert, sitting on the front benches, were enough to project the utter unbelief of Bush poetry. It is not far in history that time and again US has charted its own ways, distinct from the deepest aspiration of the Zionists in America as well as in Israel. There is no guarantee that it cannot happen again and again. American Jewish neo-cons are not the only players in US game. Other players could surface and boldly shake off the tentacles of Zionist octopus.


The most surprising omission in the Bush speech to the Knesset was any hint of the much touted peace moves that Bush thought he could deliver in the dying days of his bloody presidency. On the contrary he reiterated that Israel need not compromise with the killers who are out to see Israel being wiped out from the face of the earth. He ruled out anything to do with Hamas. They are still terrorists and even though elected democratically, are beyond the pale of democracy as defined by US and Israel.


On the whole it was an open crusading speech. Not many in the world’s new emerging power will abide by the terms of Pax Americana, especially in the dwindling days of its fast deteriorating economic power in the ‘non-polar’ world.



Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai