Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shaykh Safar Needs a State to Humiliate the People of Falsehood

The relationship between state and Mosque is one of the hottest topics in the world today.

The Islamists across the board believe in a role for Islam in government though they disagree on the details. But the concept of citizenship and the modern state is absent from at least some of the discourse, if not most of it.

Shaykh Fadel al Safar, a professor of Islamic law in Iraq, wrote a book on the subject entitled the Jurisprudence of government in Islam. He starts the book with a wish and a prayer. The wish is for an Islamic state.

But the prayer--This is not a prayer for the end of hunger, corruption, and torture and death squads -God forbid.

Instead he starts his worthy book by asking God for a State that honors Islam and its followers and humiliates falsehood and its followers…

A state is for all its citizens. Not Mr. Safar's. It’s a state that is used to "humiliate the other." The other is anyone who does not belong to the privileged faith group.

This is one of the reasons why political Islam is troubling to those who value civil rights and equality.

See below the relevant Arabic text and the link.

شبكة النبأ: ورد في دعاء الافتتاح: ( اللهم إنا نرغب اليك في دولة كريمة تعزُّ بها الاسلام وأهله وتذل بها النفاق وأهله، وتجعلنا فيها من الدعاة الى طاعتك والقادة الى سبيلك وترزقنا بها كرامة الدنيا والآخرة).

المؤلف: الشيخ فاضل الصفار
الكتاب: فقه الدولة.. الدولة الإسلامية في المنظور الفقهي
عرض: الباحث حميد جاسم الغرابي


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Suha Bishara: on Palestine and Sunni-Shia Tensions

The late PA leader Yasser Arafat once answered a question about his governance of the Palestinians by telling The New York Times, give me the Swiss to rule and I will rule like Switzerland does.

It seems he was onto something. Switzerland does have a good influence on people.
Leave it to a woman, a Christian, a communist Lebanese, married to a Swiss and living in Switzerland, to speak freely and clearly about Lebanon- in particular about the Palestinians and about Sunni-Shia tensions.

On Palestine:

On the occasion of the release of the Lebanese prisoners from Israel in an exchange between Hizbullah and Israel, the Lebanese daily al- Safir interviewed Suha Bishara. Many years ago-Suha Bishara tried to assassinate Antoine Lahd, the head of the Lebanese militia set up by Israel to guard its Northern border-- the South Lebanon army. Suha Bishara was part of the secular national and leftist resistance movement that was fighting Israel before the Syrians colluded with Iran and its Islamists to limit guerrilla warfare to the Hizbullah.

In this interview she is asked what can a Lebanese, living in Lebanon, do for Palestine these days?

She replies: They don't need our direct support. The most important support for them is for the Lebanese to be united. The second issue is the civil rights of the Palestinian refugees. Nobody has really struggled for this issue. It’s not acceptable that a Palestinian refugee cannot work in Lebanon. And if he builds, we destroy. I am not talking about citizenship here. Though I do believe that a person is entitled to the citizenship of the country of his birth. Period. Palestinian or non Palestinian. (for a video on the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xog_gXYGx3o

Below is the Arabic text:
برأيك، كيف يمكن للبناني أن يعمل من هنا لأجل فلسطين؟ [ هونيك، ليسوا بحاجة إلينا بالشكل المباشر. الدعم الأهم بالنسبة إليهم هو أن نحصّن أنفسنا داخلياً أولاً. ثانياً، قضية الحقوق المدنية للفلسطينيين في المخيمات. لم يناضل أحد فعلياً لهذه القضية! مش مقبول فلسطيني ما يقدر يشتغل، وإذا عمّر حجر نهدّه نحن! هذا من دون الدخول في موضوع الجنسية، علماً أنني أؤمن بحق الإنسان بحمل جنسية الأرض التي يولد فيها، نقطة على السطر، فلسطيني أو غير فلسطيني

On Sunni-Shia relations:

She is asked "What reservations about Hizbullah you have?"

She replies:

No political party can get involved in internal politics and limit its program to the resistance slogan. This means as if your existence is a function of the enemy's existence. Question? does this mean that if Israel ceases to exist then Hizbullah would think of economic issues and get involved in Lebanese law making? Hizbullah should declare an economic program to get the country out of its economic crisis. Second, there is a huge gap between the leadership and the supporters of the Hizbullah. When they talk about the sectarian war being an impossibility, this is true as to the leadership thinking. The leadership thinks of sectarian war as serving the US designs. But the Hizbullah supporters, since the death (martyrdom) of Imam Hussein, have been raised on the basis of "who killed me?" My brother's name is Omar and all the family suffered a lot because of that. What happens when you have political parties and incitement included in the equation with this kind of background? You would have out of hand chaos, violence and bloodshed.

ـ ما هي المآخذ؟ [ أولاً، لا يوجد حزب سياسي قادر على بناء سياسة داخلية واختزالها بالمقاومة. كأنك موجود من خلال العدو. سؤال: إذا راحت إسرائيل، منفكر ساعتها نشتغل بالاقتصاد، ونصوّت على قانون؟ يجب أن يعلن سياسة واضحة لإخراج البلد من الأزمة الاقتصادية، وذلك كي يتكامل. ثانياً، هناك شرخ بين القيادة والقاعدة. عندما يتحدثون عن استحالة الحرب الطائفية، هذا صحيح طبعاً على مستوى القيادة لأنها اتخذت هذا القرار على المستوى العقائدي وتقرأ الحرب الطائفية كخدمة للمصالح الأميركية. أما القاعدة فمنذ مقتل الإمام الحسين تمت تربيتها على أساس »مين قتلني«. أخي اسمه عمر وكلنا نعاني لأن اسمه عمر منذ ولادته. فكيف إذا دخلت في المعادلة أحزاب وشحن؟ ستعود التربية و»بتفلت الفالوتة«.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lebanon War Memoir: Cobra's book

A controversial book on the Lebanon war from the Christian militias' experience as told by a former militia man is posted online.


Friday, July 11, 2008

When Not to Sue the Bastards?

Why Do Bigots Defame Arabs and Muslims and Get Away with It?

It is often said that the US is a highly litigious society. Individuals are suing and being sued at a rate that surprises many people- the US has way more lawsuits than China, for example.

Sue the bastards. It's a classic response that a person that is wronged hears. However, many times suing is not the best way of dealing with a problem. One of the areas where suing might not be the best way to go is in cases of defamation of a "public figure"- a celebrity, a politician or even anyone who injects themselves in the "public eye."

Take the case of a number of Arab and Muslim leaders that are being targeted by American bigots. Arab and Muslim personalities involved in public affairs find that the American bigots are targeting them with a campaign of organized libel (written defamation) and slander (spoken defamation). The labels are terrorist, terrorist sympathizer, former terrorist, terrorist apologist, Hizbullah agent, defender of Hamas, etc. The goal of the zealots is to cause the libeled individuals to be either intimidated and thus become silent on issues important to Arabs and Muslims-- or to cause non- Arab and non- Muslim Americans to avoid dealing with them either due to the sensational and serious accusations or to avoid the attacks that might extend to them by having associated with the victim.

One is tempted to think that these bigots targeting the Arabs and Muslims are nothing more than ignorant and marginal bigots who seem to suffer of one form of mental illness or another.
This is a big mistake. These bigots are highly driven, well organized and focused individuals who are driven by a clear agenda. This agenda is the marginalization of American Arabs and Muslims. The emergence of the web and the blogs has made their job much easier. Pick a high profile Arab American or Muslim American and Google their name. The odds are you would find some bigot attacking them with wild accusations that are laughable. But to non- Arab and non- Muslim Americans who have not dealt with the victim before these wild accusations raise a red flag. The result is the innocent victim loses an important contact or even money because of the defamation that is spread by one web site connecting to another and since there is no other information online dealing with the accusations head on- these allegations end up painting the reality of the victim.

The question is: why not sue? Cost is one reason. Litigation is very costly. Second, litigation takes time- the wheels of justice are slow and this can be very frustrating. Third, the person perpetrating the lies might have nothing to their name which means an expensive legal victory that amounts to little gained. Fourth, litigation opens the gates of discovery. And this discovery can be very wide in scope- depending on the judge. This discovery is susceptible to become a tool for further harassment of the victim. Also, a lawsuit might be welcome by the attention craving bigots and might even rally the zealots together. The defamer is also likely to grab the opportunity to get free media exposure while playing the victim of "an attack on the first amendment." Also, media coverage is a sure way that the lies would be repeated over again in the mainstream media.

The biggest hurdle though is that under American law it is very difficult for a "public figure" to win a defamation suit. The victim has to show that the defamer acted with "malice" - that they made untrue statements knowing that they are untrue or with reckless disregard of the truth.

This malice element keeps many - even libeled attorneys from suing their defamers. It is an awful situation that can be remedied by generating good speech. If those who libel Arabs are using blogs to spread lies, then the Arab and Muslim activists and their friends should also create web sites and blogs. This can achieve two goals: exposing the defamer and telling the truth about the defamed people.

(originally appeared in the Forum and Link Volume 5, issue 2 July 10, 2008)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Wall Street Journal Matchmaker Cabbie Story

The media can fairly represent Arabs and Muslims in the US when they cover them as ordinary people-and sometimes extraordinary people.

Stories about bad Arabs and bad Muslims, even when true, help perpetuate biases and prejudices when not balanced by the overwhelming other reality- the non- terror or foreign policy reality.

One story of the other reality is in the weekend Wall Street Journal of June 5-6, 2008, the Fourth of July weekend, about an Egyptian cab driver who plays matchmaker in Manhattan.
"These Singles Just Wanted a Taxi, But Mr. Ibrahim Drove Them to' I Do'" by Jane Spencer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Jerusalem attack and the Failure of Hamas

Today a Palestinian from Jerusalem used a bulldozer to run over a number of cars and people in West Jerusalem area.

Two died and a number of people were injured.

This was a classic act of terrorism. Indiscriminate violence against noncombatants. A despicable crime. No nuancing needed.

I watched a Hamas spokesperson on Aljazeera speaking from Gaza say that this attack is "understandable."


It 's impossible for the Palestinians to achieve an independent state without the support of fair minded Israelis and world public opinion. Condoning such terrorism is not only immoral- it is also foolish politically.

Hamas seems intent on keeping the label of a terrorist organization and ruling over an isolated and impoverished Gaza strip.

I can't recall how many times I heard and read that Islam does not condone indiscriminate attacks of this nature.

Regardless of the politics of the matter and the legitimate grievances of the wronged and occupied Palestinian people- plowing into noncombatants goes against Arab and Muslim values.