Monday, December 29, 2008

Terrorism - The Symptom of a Serious Social Disorder

The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai seem to have shaken not only India but the entire world. These acts of terrorism demonstrated that even a handful of people who decide to lay down their life can shake a country which has one of the biggest and mightiest army and police in the world.

Yet the instance was not the first of its kind. Just few years back, terrorists attacked USA on 9/11 and killed thousands of people. Thereafter, the war on terrorism was launched by Western powers lead by USA against the countries believed by them behind the attack. No one knows how many people had been killed by the western forces to revenge the death of their innocent people. Many of us are perhaps not even interested as we treat the terrorists as our enemy whose lives matters little for them who are the victim of terrorism.

Yet, before claiming that terrorism is the biggest threat or the biggest killer today, it would be interesting to glance through the statistics published recently in an article "Lightening kills more than terror" in The Times of India, (New Delhi edition) on December 17, 2008. The article provides the statistics of the unnatural deaths in India (per day) in 2007. There are 934 people dying every day due to natural deaths which includes

-Suicides - 336
-Road Accidents - 314
-Drowning - 74
-Falls - 29
-Lightening Strikes - 8

If we add the number of people dying every day in India due to medical illness, poverty, hunger, cold etc i.e. due to man made causes, the number of unnatural deaths may be many thousands times that of the numbers of people dying due to terror.

Thus logically, terror may not be the biggest killer of people even in the countries affected by terrorism. Yet it shakes the humanity due to the inhuman way, a terrorist kills the innocent people.

The act of terrorism also shakes the faith of an ordinary human being in God as he wonders, what is He doing when innocent people are being killed? Even the people, who have deep faith in God, fail to explain such acts spiritually.

Terrorism, having seed in the hatred, creates tremendous hatred in the world. People just can not adjust with the idea of love and compassion against the terrorists. How many of us are willing to even listen to the sermon like "Love your enemy" or "offering the other cheek, if someone slaps you". "An eye for an eye" seems to be the only solution of the problem of terrorism.

Is it so?

The Wisdom of God

We all know that when we are angry, the first casualty is our capacity to think, logic and reason. Anger, like a fire, burns the body and soul of the person and it must not be allowed to engulf us for a very long period. We have to find solution of terrorism by understanding it rather than hating it.

The first requirement for any understanding in man is to have faith in God and Man. If He is Supreme, nothing can happen in this world without his direction and wish.

Why must God allow terrorism to happen?

Why should the innocent human beings be killed by terrorists?

Terrorism is an attack on the society and not on the individual. Any one who would be coming in the range of the gun would be killed on that day.

Are We Not Sowing Hatred and Injustice?

All scriptures universally endorse that you have to reap what you sow. Yet, most of us expect to reap good while sowing evil in this world.

There are numerous studies that have proven the harmful effect of smoking, alcoholism, drugs, fatty food, sexual indulgences and its role in causing dreaded diseases like Cancer, Heart Attack or AIDS. In India, for example, it is written on every packet of cigarette that smoking causes cancer. Yet, people do such acts every day thinking that they would not suffer from it.

Yet when it is pay out time, they curse advertiser, manufactures, drug traffickers and even God for their ply.

There is no limit to the hatred and injustice that is perpetuated by the mankind in this world.

Millions of innocent birds are killed even before the first man gets infected from Bird Flue. Millions of innocent Kangaroos are killed to protect man in a country. Just a few days back, an Honorable Judge of High Court in India ordered to kill all stray dogs in the State of Maharashtra.

We are killing millions of innocent animals, birds and fishes everyday to feed just one specie of the earth known as man.

Man has acquired virtually all lands and forests and water bodies of the earth for its sole use as if Lord has created only for man for Earth.

Yet man found nothing wrong in such inhuman acts until the mightier and greedier of the men decided to kill other men for conquering the Earth to satisfy their greed. Millions of people were killed in the wars to satisfy one person's quest of power in last century. Yet none asked question as there was always a cause for such action which was logical and reasonable at least to the people who thought they can win the war.

Yet, when we are on the receiving end we call it injustice and cruelty.

Can Might Be Always Right?

Even though man has evolved from animal, yet they prefer working by the law of jungle i.e. "Might is Right". Even the scientific community accepted this universal law of jungle by calling evolution of life as "Survival of the fittest."

There is no doubt that the Western world today is so powerful that they can destroy the rest of the world perhaps in a matter of days. There are thousands of unused nuclear weapons and missiles which can send any country into the Stone Age. Hence, in their exalted sense of power and security, they often think that what they know is right and what they do is right. While no one has the right to judge their "rights", they can judge everyone's right.

Jesus Christ said in Bible, "Do not judge so that you will not be judged".

The reason why we must not judge others that all judgments are based on a particular perspective and based on the relative truth that changes with time. The history has demonstrated in countless times that no principle is sacrosanct and nothing is in fallible. Therefore, judging others from one's own perspective always lead to wrong judgment.

Even the first principle of natural justice says that nobody would be judge in his own cause.

Scriptures: The Path to Happiness

As per one survey conducted by Newsweek, more than 91% people in USA still believes in God and only 3% call themselves atheists. This is simply amazing as even after five centuries of the scientific knowledge and technological developments, people are convinced that only scriptures can guide them in the path of happiness and peace.

Yet it is surprising that we violate virtually every law of scriptures while claiming ourselves to be Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Jew.

Some of the universal principles of scriptures can be summarized as following

1. God is one (Do not fight in the name of God).
2. God is present in all beings (Show compassion to all lives).
3. Love all people and feel compassion for all living being (Do not hate).
4. Do not accumulate wealth (Do not live for bread alone)
5. Do not seek power (Serve instead of ruling others).
6. Respect your parents and elders (Have gratitude to parents) .
7. Shun violence (Respect Other's Views).
8. Speak Truth (Do not Speak Falsehood).
9. Be faithful (Do not commit adultery).
10. Deal with people in a way you would like to others to deal you.

Yet, one can easily see that the modern societies are evolved on just the converse principles, though based on the same laws. These facts are demonstrated from the following

? People do not believe in the God of others. The result is that God is used as the main justification for wars
? People see God in themselves while see Devil in others (enemy)
? We are compassionate only for people of our family, country, race or religion
? There are few people in this world, who have billions in their account, while there are billions who do not even have one dollar. They sleeps in footpath, remain hungry for days, die due to cold and heat and by simple illness
? Society is hierarchical and everyone is subordinate to someone. The head of some nations are so powerful that they can kill millions at their wish
? Parents are discarded by their children at old age when they fetch no return
? Violence is the most desired solution for the rich and powerful for solving all problems. Nonviolence is for the weak and poor.
? Truth is rare or fallacy the rule
? Adultery is a rule and Faithfulness is an exception
? Different treatment for different people even within the same religion, state or status

The Root of Terrorism

The values preached in scriptures are not merely theories but contains in it the universal laws of peaceful and loving existence. Religions, though developed in different countries under different prophets in different times, contain the same truth.

One can break these laws for the immediate material benefits or instant gratifications, yet he loses peace and happiness in the process.

Terrorism is just a symptom of the ill of the society like theft, murder, rape or any other crime. Terrorism, however, makes great news as it is fought against the most powerful organ of the modern civilization i.e. State.

Terrorism is a weapon of the weak who can not fight the might of the State power. Hence the weak demonstrate their power by killing the citizens of the powerful enemy.

When a journalist, threw shoes at George Bush, The President of America, the most powerful person of the world, recently at Baghdad he became a hero overnight. The entire Arab world rejoiced at this incident. A man even offered 10 million dollars for the shoe.

Terrorism or other crimes can be eliminated from this world only if the humanity is able to rise above greed, inequality, injustice that is perpetrated by the modern world against the weak and poor people.

This is a difficult solution as the very foundation of modern life is based on the principles of the survival of the fittest. Let the weak perish from this world as they have no right to survive in the world that is based on competition and not compassion.

World As Family

The only way to avoid the symptom of a disease is to eliminate the cause of the symptom. The root of all crimes, particularly terrorism lies in the basic philosophy of materialistic life that defies all tenets of scriptures and spirituality. Only when the modern world can visualize the whole world as one family, such problems can be solved. Are we ready to live like a family and share our fortunes and power with all humanity? In answer to this question lies the solution of terrorism.

Dr. Awdhesh K Singh is an Engineer by education and philosopher by passion. He holds his PhD degree in the area of E-Governance.

He has published several papers in International Journals and Conferences on the subject of E-governance and the application of Artificial Intelligence tools like Fuzzy Logic (FL) and Expert Systems (ES) for E-governance.

He has keen interest in the study and application of Religion, Spirtuality and Philosophies for solving the real-life problems of the modern world.

Many of his articles are published on the website of Aatmic Science Forum and Science of Soul.

His can be contacted on the email aksinghirs [a]

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spiritual Economics

A very wise consultant to the health care industry shared with me a conversation he had with a hospital board of directors facing bankruptcy: "What do you think caused the financial difficulties of the hospital?" he asked. "The labor unions wanting too much, the doctors demands, and the patients who can't pay their bills."

"No," said the forthright consultant, "the cause of this difficulty is your greed, selfishness and disregard for the needs of your community."

How could that be true? These were all well-educated, well-respected citizens of their community who saw themselves as charitable and responsible. Yet true it was. And one-by-one, they opened their eyes to how they had ignored the clear needs signaled from the community, remained adversarial in talks with doctors and support staff, ignored the need to invest in new systems, equipment and procedures. All these decisions and behavior were justified at the time they were made by the self-interested, culturally approved "need" to hold on to profits.

In the face of the current economic crisis, unstable stock market, businesses like the auto industry facing bankruptcy, and the financial challenges of individuals, the cry that emerges from the news media is "what are we going to do about this?" "Who is to blame?" and "What will president-elect Obama do to save our economy?"

Just as the above hospital board of directors facing bankruptcy of their organization, the country is desperate for a quick fix, for a 'to do' solution, for a hero to reveal a formula that will distribute over a trillion dollars to the right places.

Money is viewed as the source of and solution to our problems. Yet, perhaps the problem is thinking that money is the solution to our problems.

The view that money is both the source and solution to our problems has brought the nation to a no-win situation: We need money to solve our problem of lack of money, but taking money from ourselves will continue the problem of lack of money.

All attention seems focused on money - where is it, who has it, who spent it, who needs it, how can we get it to those who need it, and those who will spend it wisely?

There are many concerns being voiced about the "Big-Money Rescue" solutions being promoted such as:

-limiting entrepreneurs from the "reward" of money by 'spreading the wealth around' through high taxes will de-incentivize the business people who generate the wealth of this country

-"rescuing" those who squandered the money under their responsibility by giving them more is not intelligent

-renegotiating with those who have bought what they cannot afford will encourage more irresponsible spending

All of these concerns are legitimate, and all see the economy as based on the generation, accumulation and distribution of money.

The truth is that any use of money will result in some good and some bad, depending on the clarity, motivation and honesty of those given the responsibility to spend it, which is everyone, as everyone uses money.

The view that The Economy=Money promotes a climate of greed, which is what the economy is acutely suffering from now. When money is seen as the source and goal of business (and thus, of life), then business people focus on making money for themselves, their stockholders, and their businesses. In this climate inventiveness and ideas are channeled toward making money and the more the better. Certainly some good, useful and creative ideas have been generated from this climate, but the 'side-effect' is greed and corruption. Anything to 'make money' becomes justified, and acceptable. Just as in medicine, sometimes the "side-effect" can be more deadly than the disease.

What is the purpose of business?

The purpose of business is not to make money, nor to lose money.

The purpose of business is to see a real need and fill it with a reliable product or service through an efficient organization. The result of good business is prosperity for all. Those who run the business, produce the product or service, and those who purchase the product/service. There need be no limit on wealth for those stewarding a useful, efficient business. Everyone benefits. Individuals, communities, nations and the global community are joined in the endeavor to meet real needs and prosper, individually and collectively. This is economy based on the idea that what is truly good for one is good for all. This idea is one that cannot be legislated, regulated or manipulated. It is an idea that when understood by an individual/entrepreneur/businessperson, guides and inspires their activities. Any individual living this principle will be trustworthy, and the needs of their business will be met.

This is the heart of the American Dream. The opportunity to see a real need, develop an organization to serve the need and benefit from the prosperity that is generated for all.

This points to individual motivation as the source of our problems and the source of our solutions. A trillion dollars can be thrown into the system, and where personal gain and greed is the underlying motivation, the economy will continue to suffer. On the other hand, prosperity will spread where there is motivation based on good will.

The challenge then is not what "to do," but rather to understand and face the real problem and cultivate an economy of prosperity based on solid, time-tested principles of good business and good living. Afterall, it is not individuals who can be blamed for being influenced by the climate of greed, yet it is individuals who can see the problem and participate in the solution.

This is called Spiritual Economics as it is based on what cannot be legislated, manipulated, regulated or contracted. It is based on something non-material, yet something that we have the capacity to recognize when we see it. The truth of it is undeniable. It may be argued that it's idealistic - that most of business-as-usual is greedy and that's just the way it is. But if we accept that as truth, we are doomed to continue a downward spiral of constant gain and loss, and continuous struggle between those who have and those who have not.

There are numerous examples of entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors, educators, legislators, who have seen real needs, responded with an idea, product or service and prospered. Those who have prospered from knowing this truth are not primarily motivated by money. They are motivated by good ideas, efficient systems and personal excellence. This is spiritual economics as it is based on something intangible yet substantial, imperceptible yet knowable, unseen yet recognizable.

These same individuals who accumulated great wealth from implementing good ideas plow their wealth back into the community through charitable and altruistic visions. This is the continuation of valuing good ideas, efficient systems and personal excellence.

The good news is that to get the economy back on the right track does not require us to wait for the "trickle down" when someone figures out what to do and does it. It is something we all can be attentive to right now.

When frightened about financial issues wake-up! It's not money that is the source of intelligence and creativity. And, it's not fear that will generate good ideas. It's the God-given gift of open-mindedness and receptivity that allow good, new ideas to flow right to the challenging situation of the moment. This is priceless.

Coming Up:

What is poverty?

Education as Capital in Spiritual Economics

Scrutinizing our motivations

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Egyptians vie for Islamists leadership

Two Muslim preachers compete for the leadership of Islamists: Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, an Egyptian radical cleric living and preaching in exile Qatar. Qaradhawi wears the Muslim uniform - a turban and a Jilbab (gown). The other, Amr Khaled, is a young soft-spoken Egyptian who wears a Western suit and a necktie.

Mishari Al-Thaidi writes in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (March 7): "A row has broken out between Khaled and Qaradhawi. The latter objects to Khaled's mission to Denmark, with 50 other preachers, to present 'real Islam' to the Danes." Qaradhawi does not believe that Khaled's mission would bring in any good results. On the contrary, it would kill the momentum which the anti-Islamic cartoons have generated. "At last, Muslims, all Muslims express their indignation and are united around their Prophet (PBUH)." Qaradhawi told Al-Jazeera.

Fahmi Huwaidi, also in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (March 8) stands by Al-Qaradhawi. "Amr Khaled should confine himself to preaching and should not interfere with theological issues. He should listen to learned people like Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi," Huwaidi argues.

My comment: Qaradhawi wants to exploit the Danish cartoon row to advance his political agenda. Qaradhawi, a traditionalist, wants to silence "modern" Muslim young preachers like Amr Khaled. Khaled seems to be palatable to young moderate Muslims. He addresses practical, contemporary issues. He is less dogmatic than fundamentalists like Qaradhawi. Preachers like Khaled are perhaps in a position to influence young Muslims and keep them off extremism.
Qaradhawi is not interested in dialogue and in spreading a moderate form of Islam. For his political Islam, he needs radical ideas, radical events, and radical preachers. Moderate Islam would dilute the line drawn between Islam and the rest of the world. Islamophobia and Westophobia nourish his "Kampf" (struggle) for Islam, Qaradhawi-style.

Both Qaradhawi and Huwaidi characterise Khaled as naive and simple-minded. For them, the West has "declared war" on Islam and this war must be ferociously fought. Radical Islamists like Qaradhawi hate to have competitors like Khaled. Moderate preachers would take the wind from the sails of radicals. Qaradhawi and Huwaidi would love to have radical preachers who charge young Muslims with hatred and violence against Westerners, the unbelievers.
Barbaric West!

Under the title "Barbaric West!" Abdulmin'em Saeed observes in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (March 3) that whenever Islamists and Pan-Arabists talk or write, they severely attack the West. Here are some samples: The West exterminated the Native Americans. The West is decadent. There is racial discrimination in the West, etc. All these things are true. Nobody denies them.
It seems, however, that we, Arabs and Muslims, know more about atrocities and decadence in the West than about our own atrocities and deficiencies. We excoriate atrocities everywhere, but not in our societies.

My comment: This may be attributed to the fact that the West is more critical of itself and more honest and freer than we Arabs and Muslims are. Let us count just a few instances of Arab and Muslim atrocities: Who murdered one and a half million Armenians? Our fellow Muslim brothers in Turkey. For half a century we have been demanding the liberation of Palestine, but we have denied 20 million Kurds a homeland. Who is to blame for that? Again our fellow Muslim brothers in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran.

According to UN reports, we have in our Muslim societies as much prostitution,homosexuality,rape and women trafficking as Western societies have. We have in our Muslim societies more corruption than Western societies have. In practice, we Muslims discriminate against people from certain countries/regions and colours. We also discriminate against women,homosexuals,Ethnic minority groups and look down on them, especially in the Arab Gulf region.

Muslim countries rate top in terms of child labour, something that is almost non-existent in the West. Where is more freedom, justice, and tolerance? In the West. Most Muslim countries lack freedom of speech, religious freedom and social justice. It is even forbidden in some Muslim countries to erect churches and temples.

Ethnic minorities in the West are protected per constitution and in practice. The small Danish community in northern Germany, for example, is allowed to have its own schools and cultivate its own culture. Until recently, the Kurds in Turkey were not even allowed to use their own language in public. Laila Zen, a former Kurdish MP was imprisoned for fifteen years because she used Kurdish in the Turkish Parliament.

Who is more civilised? The West? Or the Muslim Orient? Shame on those who deny atrocities amongst us.

Defenders of the Faith

FOR centuries, we have been told that without religion we are no more than egotistic animals fighting for our share, our only morality that of a pack of wolves; only religion, it is said, can elevate us to a higher spiritual level. Today, when religion is emerging as the wellspring of murderous violence around the world, assurances that Christian or Muslim or Hindu fundamentalists are only abusing and perverting the noble spiritual messages of their creeds ring increasingly hollow. What about restoring the dignity of atheism, one of Europe's greatest legacies and perhaps our only chance for peace?

More than a century ago, in "The Brothers Karamazov" and other works, Dostoyevsky warned against the dangers of godless moral nihilism, arguing in essence that if God doesn't exist, then everything is permitted. The French philosopher André Glucksmann even applied Dostoyevsky's critique of godless nihilism to 9/11, as the title of his book, "Dostoyevsky in Manhattan," suggests.

This argument couldn't have been more wrong: the lesson of today's terrorism is that if God exists, then everything, including blowing up thousands of innocent bystanders, is permitted — at least to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God, since, clearly, a direct link to God justifies the violation of any merely human constraints and considerations. In short, fundamentalists have become no different than the "godless" Stalinist Communists, to whom everything was permitted since they perceived themselves as direct instruments of their divinity, the Historical Necessity of Progress Toward Communism.

During the Seventh Crusade, led by St. Louis, Yves le Breton reported how he once encountered an old woman who wandered down the street with a dish full of fire in her right hand and a bowl full of water in her left hand. Asked why she carried the two bowls, she answered that with the fire she would burn up Paradise until nothing remained of it, and with the water she would put out the fires of Hell until nothing remained of them: "Because I want no one to do good in order to receive the reward of Paradise, or from fear of Hell; but solely out of love for God." Today, this properly Christian ethical stance survives mostly in atheism.

Fundamentalists do what they perceive as good deeds in order to fulfill God's will and to earn salvation; atheists do them simply because it is the right thing to do. Is this also not our most elementary experience of morality? When I do a good deed, I do so not with an eye toward gaining God's favor; I do it because if I did not, I could not look at myself in the mirror. A moral deed is by definition its own reward. David Hume, a believer, made this point in a very poignant way, when he wrote that the only way to show true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God's existence.

Two years ago, Europeans were debating whether the preamble of the European Constitution should mention Christianity as a key component of the European legacy. As usual, a compromise was worked out, a reference in general terms to the "religious inheritance" of Europe. But where was modern Europe's most precious legacy, that of atheism? What makes modern Europe unique is that it is the first and only civilization in which atheism is a fully legitimate option, not an obstacle to any public post.

Atheism is a European legacy worth fighting for, not least because it creates a safe public space for believers. Consider the debate that raged in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, my home country, as the constitutional controversy simmered: should Muslims (mostly immigrant workers from the old Yugoslav republics) be allowed to build a mosque? While conservatives opposed the mosque for cultural, political and even architectural reasons, the liberal weekly journal Mladina was consistently outspoken in its support for the mosque, in keeping with its concern for the rights of those from other former Yugoslav republics.

Not surprisingly, given its liberal attitudes, Mladina was also one of the few Slovenian publications to reprint the infamous caricatures of Muhammad. And, conversely, those who displayed the greatest "understanding" for the violent Muslim protests those cartoons caused were also the ones who regularly expressed their concern for the fate of Christianity in Europe.

These weird alliances confront Europe's Muslims with a difficult choice: the only political force that does not reduce them to second-class citizens and allows them the space to express their religious identity are the "godless" atheist liberals, while those closest to their religious social practice, their Christian mirror-image, are their greatest political enemies. The paradox is that Muslims' only real allies are not those who first published the caricatures for shock value, but those who, in support of the ideal of freedom of expression, reprinted them.

While a true atheist has no need to boost his own stance by provoking believers with blasphemy, he also refuses to reduce the problem of the Muhammad caricatures to one of respect for other's beliefs. Respect for other's beliefs as the highest value can mean only one of two things: either we treat the other in a patronizing way and avoid hurting him in order not to ruin his illusions, or we adopt the relativist stance of multiple "regimes of truth," disqualifying as violent imposition any clear insistence on truth.

What, however, about submitting Islam — together with all other religions — to a respectful, but for that reason no less ruthless, critical analysis? This, and only this, is the way to show a true respect for Muslims: to treat them as serious adults responsible for their beliefs.

Slavoj Zizek, the international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, is the author, most recently, of "The Parallax View."

No Ports or Nukes for Muslims

THIS is not a good time to be a Muslim. Today, in the Western world, openly expressed hatred and contempt for Islam and Arabs has become the only socially acceptable prejudice.

The collapse of the Dubai ports deal is the latest striking example. The highly professional port operator, DP World, was forced to give up a deal to manage East Coast US harbours after an enormous political uproar in America. At the heart of the uproar was the fact that DP World was owned by the Arabs.

The cry went up from the US Congress and media: ‘Keep Arabs out of our ports!’ No one seemed to notice, or care, that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have invested $121 billion in US companies and property.

A bi-partisan coalition of Islam-hating conservatives, evangelical Christians, publicity-seeking Democrats and the mighty Israeli lobby, forced President George Bush to back down on the port plan. UAE, a staunch US friend and ally, was slapped in the face. But it had the good sense and good taste to withdraw from the no-win battle.

This ugly business came right after Bush’s trip to India where he completed the enshrinement of America’s double-standard nuclear policy. After preaching for years about stopping nuclear proliferation, Bush agreed to give India nuclear fuel and key US nuclear technology, while turning a blind eye to India’s ongoing production of nuclear weapons and denying old ally, Pakistan, any such aid.

Nuclear arms for largely Hindu India are good; nuclear arms for Muslim Pakistan and Iran are unacceptable. India, which is working on intercontinental and sea-launched nuclear missiles, is being fawned over by the US, while Pakistan stays in the dog house and even faces threats of US attacks on its nuclear infrastructure.

This week, US Vice-President Dick Cheney, addressed the Israeli lobby in the US and came close to threatening war against Iran over its alleged covert nuclear arms programme — which may not even exist, while India is estimated to have stockpiled around 100 deliverable nuclear warheads, and Israel reportedly has 200. North Korea, that nuclear-armed member of the axis of evil,’ seems to have been forgotten in Washington’s rush to chastise the ‘disobedient’ Muslim world. Of course, going after supposedly nuclear states that don’t have any such weapons, i.e. Iraq and Iran, is a lot safer than attacking a state that actually does have them.

No sooner was Bush back from India when he unblushingly again proclaimed the need for nuclear non-proliferation. A few days later, the BBC broke a fascinating story, revealing that in the 1960’s, Britain had secretly sold Israel nuclear components used to make its first atomic, then hydrogen warheads. Interestingly, some of this British technology, notably the use of the rare element tritium to boost the explosive power of nuclear weapons, was later sold by Israel to India.

Speaking of proliferation, I was always amused when I hear Britain’s sanctimonious prime minister, Tony Blair, sermonise about the evils of Iraq’s so-called weapons of mass destruction. His moralising reminds me of the media joke which made the rounds during the time of the US invasion of Iraq: ‘Of course we know Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. We have the receipts to prove it!’

In late 1990, on the eve of the first US attack on Iraq, I was covering the looming war from Baghdad. There, I discovered four British technicians who told me a remarkable story which they backed up with documents. The four technicians had been secretly sent to Iraq through a joint operation of the British Ministry of Defence and MI6 Secret Intelligence Service. Their job was to develop germ warfare weapons for Iraq, using anthrax, Q-fever, tularemia, and botulism. The germ raw materials were supplied to Iraq, with full US government approval, by an American laboratory in Maryland.

The British scientists worked at a top-secret laboratory at Salman Park, near Baghdad. They never progressed very far in turning the lethal germs into stable, deliverable battlefield weapons, but the technicians all insisted the germ weapons were intended solely for us against Iran, with which Iraq had been locked in a bloody, eight-year war. So the only potential arms of mass destruction in Iraq were actually those supplied by Great Britain, which today is warning about the dangers from Iran. Such hypocrisy is truly breathtaking. You need a fine Saville Row suit and the very best Queen’s English to pull it off. The moral of this story: if you want to run seaports or obtain nuclear weapons for self-defence, you had better change your name to O’Reilly, Schwartz or Patel and stop turning to Makkah in your prayers.

Eric S Margolis is an eminent journalist and columnist based in Toronto, Canada. He can be reached at

Friday, March 10, 2006

Half of Americans Hold Negative Views on Islam

There are some days you just want to throw up your hands in despair and today is one of them: A new US poll reveals that nearly half of Americans hold a negative view of Islam.

The survey also found that one in three Americans have heard prejudiced comments about Muslims lately. In a separate question, slightly more (43 percent) reported having heard negative remarks about Arabs. One in four Americans admitted to harboring prejudice toward Muslims, the same proportion that expressed some personal bias against Arabs.

The Washington Post and ABC News poll, released yesterday, found that 46 percent of Americans have a negative view of Islam, a figure that is seven percent higher than in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Post reported.

Those polled who believe Islam helps fuel violence against non-Muslims has more than doubled since the attacks, from 14 percent in January 2002 to 33 percent today.

Several Mideast experts told the Post the poll results did not surprise them as they feel the Arab world has been demonized in the US since 2001.

Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan said Americans have been given the message to respond this way by the American political elite, the mass media and by select special interests.

A surprising item from the poll found that even Americans who said they understood Islam and who viewed the religion as peaceful and respectful, also said it harbors harmful extremists and were no less likely to have prejudiced feelings against Islam.

A total of 1000 randomly selected Americans were interviewed March 2-5 for the poll.

The Post quoted a school bus driver in Chicago, Gary McCord, 65, who said he is dealt with many children of Arab descent.Some of the best families I've ever had were some of my Muslim families. They were so nice to me.

But the Post said his good feelings do not extend to Islam. "I don't mean to sound harsh or anything, but I don't like what the Muslim people believe in, according to the Quran. Because I think they preach hate" he said.

The truth is Koran teaches love and humanity, there are Muslims who preach hatred. Majority of Muslims also have negative views on United States and the west, the best solution is exchange of ideas and clearing up all the negative views based on ignorance.
Last Friday a Iranian student who is mentally ill tried to kill his fellow students in UNC, luckily no one died, but reaction of non-Muslims were and is hostile toward innocent Muslims who had nothing to do with lunatic man.

For those who asked me about Iran; Iran is largest Shia Muslim country, Iranians are not Arabs, Majority of them are Aryans.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Egypt Arrests Islamic Radicals

Egyptian security forces have rounded up a number of Muslim Brotherhood members after briefly banning the Islamist party’s mouthpiece publication, a spokesman for the Islamist movement said yesterday. In the latest campaign against the banned but occasionally tolerated group, Issam Al-Aryan alleged that security forces had threatened to hold the family of one now detained member, Abdul Moneim Mahmud, hostage until he handed himself in.

Mahmud, 26, who lives in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, is an outspoken member of the Brotherhood. “This is a new phenomenon,” Aryan said.

“Now they are occupying homes in order to force their (Brotherhood members’) surrender,” Aryan said. In the past, Aryan said, security forces arrested Brotherhood members in the middle of the night or at dawn in their homes.

But the alleged holding of families hostage and recent arrests on the street and in public places such as coffee shops suggest a break with tradition, he said.

Fellow Brotherhood member Ayman Abul Ghani was arrested along with his wife as they were picking up their children from school in the northeastern Cairo suburb of Nasr city, he said. “The family members were detained for four hours while the police searched their home,” Aryan said.

He added that the arrests brought to more than 20 the number of Brotherhood figures detained since last week when the government unleashed a new campaign against the group, the largest opposition force in the country. Brotherhood officials suggested that the renewed hostility against them may have been triggered by an article by Rashad Bayyumi, a member of the group’s Guidance Office, in the Afaq Arabia weekly. He was picked up in a first wave of arrests last week.

The edition that carried the article criticizing Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak’s son, Gamal Mubarak, was banned outright and the paper has not appeared on the streets since then. The Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc issued a statement yesterday condemning the decision to ban the paper, which was launched under license from the liberal Ahrar party, but acts as the Brotherhood’s mouthpiece. “The bloc sees in this decision further efforts to backtrack on democracy and freedom of opinion and expression,” it said.

The Brotherhood said the authorities had justified their decision by saying it was due to a dispute within the paper’s management. However, a statement published later on the Brotherhood’s official website said the (governmental) Superior Press Council had reversed its ban “after solving the dispute.”

The Brotherhood, which fielded candidates as independents in legislative polls last year, won a record number of seats in parliament, taking 88 of the 454 seats up for grabs.

A government clampdown on the opposition in the run-up to the elections targeted Brotherhood members with a wave of arrests, though most of those detained were freed by the end of January.

Israel Will Attack Iran

If the UN Security Council is incapable of taking action to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself, Israel’s defense minister said yesterday. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was asked whether Israel was ready to use military action if the Security Council proved unable to act against what Israel and the West believe is a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.

“My answer to this question is that the state of Israel has the right give all the security that is needed to the people in Israel. We have to defend ourselves,” Mofaz told Reuters after a meeting with his German counterpart Franz Josef Jung.

The Iranian delegation to an IAEA board of governors meeting in Vienna issued a statement earlier warning that the United States could feel “harm and pain” if the Security Council took up the issue of Tehran’s nuclear fuel research and vowed never to abandon its atomic program.

“So if the United States wishes to choose that path, let the ball roll,” Tehran national security official Javad Vaeedi said.

Security Council diplomats said it would probably start debating Iran next week and US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said it would be Monday or Tuesday. Iran, the world’s No. 4 oil provider, also said it would review its oil export policy should the council tackle its case. “The United States may have the power to cause harm and pain but it is also susceptible to harm and pain,” Vaeedi said.

Asked about Iran’s warning, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in New Orleans: “Provocative statements and actions only further isolate Iran from the rest of the world.”