Salman Rushdie has attacked the “hate-filled religious rhetoric” that “persuades hundreds, perhaps thousands of British Muslims to join the decapitating barbarians of Isis”, describing it as “the most dangerous new weapon in the world today”.
Speaking at the award of the PEN/Pinter prize, Rushdie said he dislikes the word Islamophobia “greatly”. But it is right, the author argued, to “feel phobia” towards the oppression of the people of Afghanistan by the Taliban, towards the oppression of Iranians by the ayatollahs, and towards the death of people in Iraq today. “What is being killed in Iraq is not just human beings, but a whole culture. To feel aversion towards such a force is not bigotry. It is the only possible response to the horror of events.
“If I don’t like your ideas,” Rushdie continued, “it must be acceptable for me to say so, just as it is acceptable for you to say that you don’t like mine. Ideas cannot be ringfenced just because they claim to have this or that fictional sky god on their side.”
Rushdie, the subject of a fatwa from Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 for his novel The Satanic Verses, was accused by the academic Terry Eagleton in 2007 of moving “from being a remorseless satirist of the west to cheering on its criminal adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan” – a remarkcriticised by Rushdie and subsequently apologised for by Eagleton. Rushdie’s fellow writer Martin Amis was accused of holding views equivalent to a “British National party thug” by Eagleton later that year, for saying: “There’s a definite urge – don’t you have it? – to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.’”
The PEN/Pinter prize is awarded to a writer judged to exemplify the spirit of the free-speech advocate Harold Pinter. Rushdie announced on Thursday that he would share his award with the imprisoned Syrian activist Mazen Darwish.
After condemning Darwish’s detention as “arbitrary and unjust”, Rushdie told guests at the award ceremony that, as a citizen, he cannot “avoid speaking of the horror of the world in this new age of religious mayhem, and of the language that conjures it up and justifies it, so that young men, including young Britons, led towards acts of extreme bestiality, believe themselves to be fighting a just war”.
The language of religion, said Rushdie, “has been horribly mangled in our time”, by Christian extremists in America and by Hindu extremists in India, “but the overwhelming weight of the problem lies in the world of Islam, and much of it has its roots in the ideological language of blood and war emanating from the Salafist movement within Islam, globally backed by Saudi Arabia”.
In a world where we have all “became too frightened of religion in general, and one particular religion in particular – religion redefined as the capacity of religionists to commit earthly violence in the name of their unearthly sky god” – religious extremists are the enemy of modernity, said Rushdie.
“Modernity with its language of liberty, for women as well as men, with its insistence on legitimacy in government rather than tyranny, and with its strong inclination towards secularism and away from religion” is being targeted “by the deformed medievalist language of fanaticism, backed up by modern weaponry”.
This, said Rushdie, is a language that has been dubbed “jihadi-cool”, and it has so great an appeal for some young men that it “persuades hundreds, perhaps thousands of British Muslims to join the decapitating barbarians of Isis (worryingly, far more British Muslims join the jihadists than enlist in the British armed forces)”.
Winner of the Man Booker prize, Rushdie is also a former president of PEN – and friend of the late Pinter. He was awarded the prize, said current English PEN president Maureen Freely, because “when he sees writers unjustly vilified, prosecuted or forced into exile, he takes a personal interest”, as well as for his “many years of speaking out for freedom of expression” and his “countless private acts of kindness”.
BILL MAHER’s recent rant against Islam has set off a fierce debate about the problem of religious violence, particularly when it comes to Islam.
Mr. Maher, who has argued that Islam is unlike other religions (he thinks it’s more “like the Mafia”), recently took umbrage with President Obama’s assertion that the terrorist group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS, does not represent Islam. In Mr. Maher’s view, Islam has “too much in common with ISIS.”
His comments have led to a flurry of responses, perhaps none so passionate as that of the actor Ben Affleck, who lambasted Mr. Maher, on Mr. Maher’s own HBO show, for “gross” and “racist” generalizations about Muslims.
Yet there is a real lack of sophistication on both sides of the argument when it comes to discussing religion and violence.
On one hand, people of faith are far too eager to distance themselves from extremists in their community, often denying that religious violence has any religious motivation whatsoever. This is especially true of Muslims, who often glibly dismiss those who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam as “not really Muslim.”
On the other, critics of religion tend to exhibit an inability to understand religion outside of its absolutist connotations. They scour holy texts for bits of savagery and point to extreme examples of religious bigotry, of which there are too many, to generalize about the causes of oppression throughout the world.
What both the believers and the critics often miss is that religion is often far more a matter of identity than it is a matter of beliefs and practices. The phrase “I am a Muslim,” “I am a Christian,” “I am a Jew” and the like is, often, not so much a description of what a person believes or what rituals he or she follows, as a simple statement of identity, of how the speaker views her or his place in the world.
As a form of identity, religion is inextricable from all the other factors that make up a person’s self-understanding, like culture, ethnicity, nationality, gender and sexual orientation. What a member of a suburban megachurch in Texas calls Christianity may be radically different from what an impoverished coffee picker in the hills of Guatemala calls Christianity. The cultural practices of a Saudi Muslim, when it comes to the role of women in society, are largely irrelevant to a Muslim in a more secular society like Turkey or Indonesia. The differences between Tibetan Buddhists living in exile in India and militant Buddhist monks persecuting the Muslim minority known as the Rohingya, in neighboring Myanmar, has everything to do with the political cultures of those countries and almost nothing to do with Buddhism itself.
No religion exists in a vacuum. On the contrary, every faith is rooted in the soil in which it is planted. It is a fallacy to believe that people of faith derive their values primarily from their Scriptures. The opposite is true. People of faith insert their values into their Scriptures, reading them through the lens of their own cultural, ethnic, nationalistic and even political perspectives.
After all, scripture is meaningless without interpretation. Scripture requires a person to confront and interpret it in order for it to have any meaning. And the very act of interpreting a scripture necessarily involves bringing to it one’s own perspectives and prejudices.
The abiding nature of scripture rests not so much in its truth claims as it does in its malleability, its ability to be molded and shaped into whatever form a worshiper requires. The same Bible that commands Jews to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) also exhorts them to “kill every man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey,” who worship any other God (1 Sam. 15:3). The same Jesus Christ who told his disciples to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) also told them that he had “not come to bring peace but the sword” (Matthew 10:34), and that “he who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). The same Quran that warns believers “if you kill one person it is as though you have killed all of humanity” (5:32) also commands them to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them” (9:5).
How a worshiper treats these conflicting commandments depends on the believer. If you are a violent misogynist, you will find plenty in your scriptures to justify your beliefs. If you are a peaceful, democratic feminist, you will also find justification in the scriptures for your point of view.
What does this mean, in practical terms? First, simplistic knee-jerk response among people of faith to dismiss radicals in their midst as “not us” must end. Members of the Islamic State are Muslims for the simple fact that they declare themselves to be so. Dismissing their profession of belief prevents us from dealing honestly with the inherent problems of reconciling religious doctrine with the realities of the modern world. But considering that most of its victims are also Muslims — as are most of the forces fighting and condemning the Islamic State — the group’s self-ascribed Islamic identity cannot be used to make any logical statement about Islam as a global religion.
At the same time, critics of religion must refrain from simplistic generalizations about people of faith. It is true that in many Muslim countries, women do not have the same rights as men. But that fact alone is not enough to declare Islam a religion that is intrinsically more patriarchal than Christianity or Judaism. (It’s worth noting that Muslim-majority nations have elected women leaders on several occasions, while some Americans still debate whether the United States is ready for a female president.)
Bill Maher is right to condemn religious practices that violate fundamental human rights. Religious communities must do more to counter extremist interpretations of their faith. But failing to recognize that religion is embedded in culture — and making a blanket judgment about the world’s second largest religion — is simply bigotry.
Congratulations and respect to these two brave young Kurdish women (both 18) who invented a new concept to detect bombs and explosions to save peoples life. We need more people like them.
Their names are Eman Abdul-Razzaq Ibrahim and Dastan Othman Hassan! (x)
My only daughter, India, just gave birth to my first granddaughter, a healthy, beautiful nine-pound baby. I am overjoyed. My tears of joy run free.
Yet, my joy is fettered by sorrow. The new arrival’s birth has been cause for reflection about the world she inherits. This child, so dear to me, will not lack for opportunities, her future is wide open. I cannot, however, help but see in her the reflection of other less fortunate children. I am haunted by faces of dead innocent children in Syria gassed, either by their own government, or by rebel groups, by the little girls abducted in Nigeria, by the four small boys marked for death while playing soccer on a beach in Gaza, by the children killed and maimed in UNRWA schools, and by the faces of surviving children in all these places that should be radiant and curious and are instead fearful and traumatized.
I detest these ignominious attacks on children worldwide and the generally abject nature of our leaders’ responses to them. The sway held over much of the world by militarism and religious fundamentalism, both of which I abhor, is setting back collective efforts to create a better future for our children. At the risk of being accused by apologists for the Israeli government of singling out, I shall, nevertheless, concentrate my remarks here on the illegal occupation and colonial subjugation of the indigenous Palestinian people of the lands between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan.
Over 500 little ones were brutally slain by the Israel Defense Forces this summer during its 50-day assault on the tiny coastal strip of territory that is Gaza. The decades of relentless injustice faced by Palestinian children and their families living under the terror of Israeli occupation and siege are a stain, not just on the Israeli government, but also on our collective humanity.
Where governments and the security council of the United Nations have failed to address Israel’s occupation and subjugation of Palestinians, people around the world are increasingly stepping up to the plate. I have recently returned from a trip to Brussels where I served as a juror on the non-judicial Russell Tribunal on Palestine. We met, in a special emergency session, to consider the actions of the IDF in Gaza this summer, to listen to testimony from those who were there, and to determine whether the actions of the IDF might have constituted war crimes, crimes against humanity, or even, possibly, acts of genocide. The Israeli government was invited to join us but declined to respond.
The tribunal, after advice and deliberation from and by eminent international lawyers, “found evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.” Conclusions in these terms, serious as they are, too often have little meaning for the international community. They cannot expose us, safe in our homes, in a visceral way to the suffering of these people. They do not convey that Israel’s assault on Gaza left approximately 373,000 Palestinian children in need of direct and specialized psychosocial support. These children have been so traumatized by the terror, death, and destruction in their daily lives that they are in urgent need of Post-Traumatic Stress Therapy. They are, in other words, shell-shocked. We all acknowledge that PTSD is deeply unsettling to see in grown men, in our own troops returning from abroad, but in entirely innocent children whose land, according to international law, has been illegally settled and occupied for decades, it is grievous and unconscionable.
Tragically, Western governments, those with the power to do something about these children’s sorrowful predicament, too often only address Israeli fears while downplaying the horrifying realities faced by Palestinian children.
Such was the case days ago when President Barack Obama stated, “We have to find ways to change the ‘status quo’ so that both Israeli citizens are safe in their own homes and schoolchildren in their schools from the possibility of rocket fire, but also that we don’t have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well.” Hundreds of dead Palestinian children are referred to here essentially as an afterthought.
Indeed, President Obama stands firmly behind Congress in supplying Israel with the planes and tanks and bombs and drones and missiles that take innocent Palestinian lives. According to the Congressional Research Service, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance.” Do American taxpayers really want their hard-earned tax dollars sent to Israel to kill and maim old folks and women and children locked defenseless in what is essentially an open-air prison?
To give President Obama his due, he did at least tell Prime Minister Netanyahu that things must change. This is a step in the right direction. Netanyahu’s reaction was to accuse President Obama of being ‘un-American!’ Un-American? Given all the negative connotations of those words, dragging us back as they do to the dark days of the McCarthy witch hunts, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comment is not only wrong, it is also deeply inappropriate and boorish.
Three times in six years the US government has stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel as its military fired on Gaza. Hopefully President Obama’s admonition of the “status quo” and mild rebuke of Netanyahu will bear fruit. Sadly, the current weak ceasefire merely sets the stage for yet another assault. Rather than address and relieve the underlying lack of Palestinian freedom — and notwithstanding calls from Jewish Voice for Peace and a growing groundswell of eloquent protest from Jewish individuals and groups in Israel and the USA attached to Judaism’s central commitment to humanity — the Israeli government seems content to pummel Gaza again and again, repeating the obscenity of killing the children in the ghetto that is Gaza.
The Obama administration rejects violent Palestinian resistance as a means to securing Palestinian liberation. And most people, including me, condemn the random launching of rockets and other missiles that might hit civilian targets. I say might, because they rarely do. This past July and August I believe there were five Israeli civilian casualties. Their friends and families have my heartfelt sympathy; every fallen loved one is a tragedy.
Having said that, it is morally bankrupt to reject nonviolent resistance.
Nonviolent resistance to Israel’s occupation and brutalizing of the imprisoned indigenous people of Palestine is a moral duty for us all.
It is for reasons of conscience, and as an admirer of Gandhi, Dr. King, Nelson Mandela, and countless other dead comrades, that I am an enthusiastic supporter of the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. If you wish to join the hundreds of thousands already riding the BDS freedom bus, this link will give you further information. The Israeli government notices when musicians, by way of protest, refuse to play in Israel; when Stephen Hawking supports academic boycott by withdrawing from Israel’s presidential conference; and also when any of us asks our local supermarket or corner shop if they are selling anything that supports the illegal settlements in the occupied territories.
As Gandhi had it, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
The time has come to internationalize and broaden the struggle beyond BDS through the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, and the International Criminal Court.
We need these international institutions, as too frequently propaganda subverts common sense, derides nonviolent approaches, and numbs us to the obvious injustices our governments support. Israeli leaders — and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as well — argued repeatedly this summer in defense of the Israeli bombardments on Gaza. The argument which was presented to the American people via the mainstream media was essentially this: ‘If Americans were under attack in their cities they would fight back every bit as vigorously as Israel does.’ This line of defense, this hasbara, ignores the fact that Israel has occupied, subjugated, and imprisoned Palestinians for decades. The flip side of the Israeli argument, of course, is this: ‘If Americans had been imprisoned and subjugated under occupation for decades would they fight back as vigorously as Palestinians?’
The most telling and disturbing comment I read during the course of Israel’s onslaught this summer was, At least this time there will be fewer Palestinian orphans as whole families have been wiped out. Imagine the despair of the mother, father, or grandfather all too aware of their powerlessness to protect the most vulnerable among them, their children.
I weep sometimes, in despair, and I make no apologies for that. The day I stop weeping for the dead innocent children (in this case in Gaza) is the day when, to quote George Orwell, “There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother.”
Surely, we can do better than this!
I mentioned my daughter and granddaughter at the outset, not because I am inordinately proud, as any father and grandfather would be, but because I abhor the fact that we, taxpayers in the USA, do not demand of our government that it allow our Palestinian brothers and sisters to enjoy the same freedoms that we enjoy, that I enjoy, including the joy of having living children and grandchildren to bring light to our lives.
~ Roger Waters
P.S. The historic vote on Monday in the House of Commons of the British Parliament, the Mother of Parliaments, 274 ayes to 12 nays in favor of a motion declaring “That this house believes that the Government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a two state solution,” signals a dramatic shift in Britain’s willingness to apply moral pressure on the Israeli government to end the occupation and seek a just peace.
At least for today, I am proud to be British.
If only the executive branch of the US government — and Congress — would follow their lead. Based on the success of US activists with BDS and Open Hillel, I am convinced that the American people will become so aware of the situation they will push their members of Congress to take a principled stand for freedom and equal rights for the Palestinian people. It’s only a matter of time. Our role is to hasten that day.
A few days ago, I was on a panel on Bill Maher’s television show on HBO that became a religious war.
Whether or not Islam itself inspires conflict, debates about it certainly do. Our conversation degenerated into something close to a shouting match and went viral on the web. Maher and a guest, Sam Harris, argued that Islam is dangerous yet gets a pass from politically correct liberals, while the actor Ben Affleck denounced their comments as “gross” and “racist.” I sided with Affleck.
After the show ended, we panelists continued to wrangle on the topic for another hour with the cameras off. Maher ignited a debate that is rippling onward, so let me offer three points of nuance.
First, historically, Islam was not particularly intolerant, and it initially elevated the status of women. Anybody looking at the history even of the 20th century would not single out Islam as the bloodthirsty religion; it was Christian/Nazi/Communist Europe and Buddhist/Taoist/Hindu/atheist Asia that set records for mass slaughter.
Likewise, it is true that the Quran has passages hailing violence, but so does the Bible, which recounts God ordering genocides, such as the one against the Amalekites.
Second, today the Islamic world includes a strain that truly is disproportionately intolerant and oppressive. Barbarians in the Islamic State cite their faith as the reason for their monstrous behavior — most recently beheading a British aid worker devoted to saving Muslim lives — and give all Islam a bad name. Moreover, of the 10 bottom-ranking countries in the World Economic Forum’s report on women’s rights, nine are majority Muslim. In Afghanistan, Jordan and Egypt, more than three-quarters of Muslims favor the death penalty for Muslims who renounce their faith, according to a Pew survey.
The persecution of Christians, Ahmadis, Yazidis, Bahai — and Shiites — is far too common in the Islamic world. We should speak up about it.
Third, the Islamic world contains multitudes: It is vast and varied. Yes, almost four out of five Afghans favor the death penalty for apostasy, but most Muslims say that that is nuts. In Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, only 16 percent of Muslims favor such a penalty. In Albania, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, only 2 percent or fewer Muslims favor it, according to the Pew survey.
Beware of generalizations about any faith because they sometimes amount to the religious equivalent of racial profiling. Hinduism contained both Gandhi and the fanatic who assassinated him. The Dalai Lama today is an extraordinary humanitarian, but the fifth Dalai Lama in 1660 ordered children massacred “like eggs smashed against rocks.”
Christianity encompassed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and also the 13th century papal legate who in France ordered the massacre of 20,000 Cathar men, women and children for heresy, reportedly saying: Kill them all; God will know his own.
One of my scariest encounters was with mobs of Javanese Muslims who were beheading people they accused of sorcery and carrying their heads on pikes. But equally repugnant was the Congo warlord who styled himself a Pentecostal pastor; while facing charges of war crimes, he invited me to dinner and said a most pious grace.
The caricature of Islam as a violent and intolerant religion is horrendously incomplete. Remember that those standing up to Muslim fanatics are mostly Muslims. In Pakistan, a gang of Muslim men raped a young Muslim woman named Mukhtar Mai as punishment for a case involving her brother; after testifying against her attackers and winning in the courts, she selflessly used the compensation money she received from the government to start a school for girls in her village. The Taliban gunmen who shot Malala Yousafzai for advocating for education were Muslims; so was Malala.
Iran has persecuted Christians and Bahais, but a Muslim lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, showed enormous courage by challenging the repression and winning release of a pastor. Dadkhah is now serving a nine-year prison sentence.
A lawyer friend of mine in Pakistan, Rashid Rehman, was a great champion of human rights and religious tolerance — and was assassinated this year by fundamentalists who stormed his office.
Sure, denounce the brutality, sexism and intolerance that animate the Islamic State and constitute a significant strain within Islam. But don’t confuse that with all Islam: Heroes like Mukhtar, Malala, Dadkhah and Rehman also represent an important element.
Let’s not feed Islamophobic bigotry by highlighting only the horrors while neglecting the diversity of a religion with 1.6 billion adherents — including many who are champions of tolerance, modernity and human rights. The great divide is not between faiths, but one between intolerant zealots of any tradition and the large numbers of decent, peaceful believers likewise found in each tradition.
Maybe that is too complicated to convey in a TV brawl. But it’s the reality.
Nigeria’s government and Boko Haram have agreed a ceasefire that brings closer the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in the north of the country more than six months ago.
Secret meetings held between the authorities in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, and representatives of the al-Qaeda-linked militia have led to an temporary agreement to lay down arms.
Part of the deal includes “the need to rescue all the captives of the terrorists, including the students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok”, said Mike Omeri, anti-terrorism spokesman of the president’s national information centre.
There would also be an immediate ceasefire, with Boko Haram apparently saying it would suspend its bombing and kidnap campaign, and the Nigerian army agreeing not to target suspected militant camps.
“From the discussions, [Boko Haram’s representatives] indicated their desire for, and willingness to discuss and resolve all associated issues,” Mr Omeri said. “They also assured that the school girls and all other people in their captivity are all alive and well.”
The announcement came days after protesters marched in Abuja to mark the six-month anniversary of the girl’s abduction. Close to 300 teenage girls were kidnapped by armed gunmen as they were driven back to their school in coaches after an excursion.
Some managed to escape, but an estimated 219 are still being held captive, reportedly in Nigeria’s neighbour, Cameroon, whose military was involved in the ceasefire talks.
There was immediate scepticism, however. One Western diplomat in Lagos, Nigeria’s coastal commercial capital, pointed out that Goodluck Jonathan, the president, is in the middle of campaigning for the presidential elections due next year.
“He’s having a tough run with Boko Haram, and he needs a boost,” the diplomat said. “It’s the main thing that people are concerned about, security. If he can score a ceasefire, great. If he can bring the girls back, even better.
“But we’ve not yet heard from Boko Haram. Until then, we’re taking this with a little salt.”
Aid groups working to secure the release of the schoolgirls welcomed the news, but also remained cautious.
“This ceasefire is incredibly promising, but we aren’t there yet,” said Hussaini Abdu, country director for ActionAid Nigeria. “Until every girl is released negotiations must continue.
“We are excited about the possibility of restoring peace in the country, but these girls must remain a priority and we therefore urge the government to ensure that the safety of all of them is guaranteed as part of any truce.”
Britain is among several nations that has offered assistance to the Nigerian government and its military to help find the missing schoolgirls.
Privately, Western security sector sources in the country report exasperation among those coming to help over the slow pace of the Nigerians’ reactions to the kidnap crisis.
The girls are understood to have been separated into several groups, making an armed rescue far more complicated and dangerous, leaving talks as the only likely route to their release.
Boko Haram has in the past insisted that it would only release the teenagers if Nigeria freed several of the group’s senior commanders, who have been captured and are in jail. There were no immediate details of what Boko Haram will get out of the ceasefire deal.
The group has been blamed for hundreds of killings in bomb or gun attacks, and it is increasingly choosing targets over an ever wider area of northern Nigeria.
It began as a local militia targeting people who broke strict Islamic regulations such as drinking alcohol. But it recently linked with al-Qaeda’s franchise in West Africa, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and appears to have taken on far more ambitious aims, including ridding northern Nigeria of Christians.
Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, frequently justifies attacks on Christians as revenge for killings of Muslims in Nigeria’s volatile “Middle Belt”, where the largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north meet.
The Telegraphrevealed last month that the International Committee of the Red Cross had become involved in a secret prisoner swap deal that would ensure the schoolgirls’ return.
Officials from the Geneva-based organisation sat in on talks between the Nigerian government and a senior Boko Haram leader that was being held in one of the country’s maximum security prisons.
The Red Cross officials also visited a number of other jails, identifying a list of 16 senior commanders that Boko Haram wants freed in exchange for the 219 hostages kidnapped from the north-east town of Chibok.
The ICRC’s role in the talks represented the first official confirmation that the Nigerian government was actively engaged in talks with Boko Haram.
Publicly, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, has previously maintained that the government would never agree to any kind of negotiations.
The British Parliament’s overwhelming vote to recognize a “State of Palestine” may indeed be a sign of “where the wind is blowing,” as the British ambassador to Tel Aviv has commented – a reflection of the significant erosion of public support for Israel’s regime of occupation and denial of Palestinian rights. But it should not be seen in black and white.
If it is the first step toward recognizing the irrefutable right of the Palestinian people to self determination, then it would be a positive contribution to establishing a just and sustainable peace in accordance with international law.
If it is simply meant to resuscitate a comatose two-state solution dictated by Israel, it would simply perpetuate an unjust order.
But, if it is, as implied, solely meant to resuscitate the comatose version of the “two state solution” which, as dictated by Israel, omits basic Palestinian rights, then it would be yet another act of British complicity in bestowing legitimacy on Israel’s unjust order.
Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights and ongoing colonization of the occupied Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, after all, will turn the putative two-state solution into a PalestinianBantustan in an “apartheid state” of Israel, as Secretary of State John Kerry has warned.
The Palestinian right to self determination, according to the United Nations, includes, aside from national sovereignty, “the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted.”
The overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society has stated in the historic 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) against Israel that exercising Palestinian self determination requires ending Israel’s 1967 occupation and colonization, “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,” and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands from which they were forcibly displaced in 1948.
Israel has fiercely rejected full equality, in law and policies, for its Palestinian citizens because that would undermine, de facto and de jure, its continuation as anexclusionary Jewish state. But even the U.S. Department of State has criticizedIsrael for maintaining a system of “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens.
Palestinians expect world governments, especially the British, with its direct responsibility in creating the question of Palestine, to recognize, first and foremost, our right to have equal rights to all other nations and all other human beings.
We want what Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes as “the full menu of rights.”
Israeli settlers set fire to a mosque in the Nablus-area village of Aqraba overnight, locals said.
Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity, told Ma’an that a group of settlers broke the doors and windows of the Abu Baker al-Saddiq mosque and vandalized the interior with racist slogans.
The settlers then set fire to part of the mosque before being chased away by Palestinian villagers.
Locals managed to extinguish the fire and prevent it from burning down the whole mosque.
In Jan. 2014, settlers torched a mosque in Salfit and sprayed “Arabs out!” on the building.
Settlers in the occupied West Bank attack Palestinians and their property routinely yet rarely face prosecution by Israeli authorities.
Many critics of the Islamic State — President Obama included — have argued that the militant group cannot claim to be Muslim in the way it has wreaked havoc on Iraq and Syria. Religion scholar Reza Aslan takes issue with this argument.
Aslan joined HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill to discuss the rise of the Islamic Stateand the media’s complicated response to it on Wednesday. In a previous interview with CNN, Aslan criticized comedian Bill Maher for making sweeping statements about Islam, a theme he returned to on HuffPost Live.
"There’s a difference between criticizing a person’s belief and condemning that person themselves, and loathing them or dismissing them, or even suggesting that those people should be harmed because of their beliefs," Aslan said.
Aslan also warned against saying that the Islamic State isn’t Muslim, which may be true in some regards but misleading in others.
"ISIS’ notion of reestablishing slavery as part of Islam — I mean, if you know anything about Islamic history the very first thing that Muhammad did was outlaw slavery," Aslan said. "Nevertheless, there is no such thing as a Muslim pope, there is no such thing as a Muslim Vatican. No one gets to tell you who is and who is not a Muslim."
A 15-year-old Palestinian girl took office as the mayor of a West Bank town and became the youngest person in the world to occupy this position.
As part of an initiative to empower youth and involve them in the decision-making process, Bashaer Othman will be the mayor of the town of Allar in the city of Tulkarm in the northwestern West Bank for two months.
Othman is in charge of all matters related to the municipality of Allar and which include supervising employees and signing all official documents with the exception of financial ones.
Othman is working under the supervision of elected mayor Sufian Shadid who expressed his enthusiasm for the teengar’s appointment as a step towards supporting youth.
“There are many ways of supporting youth other than financial means. First, we should make sure we remove obstacles that might stand in their way and with determination and perseverance we can do so,” he said.
For Othman, the new position constitutes a major challenge that she is hoping she can be up to.
“I want to go through this experience in order to be able to share it with other youth so that they can be prepared for running state institutions in the future,” she said.