Islam at war – with itself

By Murtaza Haider

From Aleppo in Syria to Quetta in Balochistan, Muslims are engaged in the slaughter of other Muslims. The numbers are enormous: over 93,000 killed in the Syrian civil war and over 48,000 dead in Pakistan. Millions have perished in similar intra-Muslim conflicts in the past four decades. Many wonder if the belief in Islam was sufficient to bind Muslims in peace with each other.
Since the end of the Second World War, the world has moved in two distinct directions. The West, mostly Christian, has tried to minimise the intra-European conflict and has largely been successful with some exceptions. The Muslim world, on the other hand, has fallen into one violent conflict after another, involving mostly Muslims. Several intra-Muslim conflicts continue to simmer as proxy wars. In the 80s, the Iran-Iraq war alone left millions dead. More recently, a car bomb in Iraq on Sunday killed another 39 in the sectarian warfare between the Shias and Sunnis that killed at least 1,045 in May 2013.
As the violence amongst Muslims increases, most Muslims prefer denial or look for scapegoats. Those in denial believe no such violence exists and the entire issue is made up by the western-controlled media. Others blame it on scapegoats – Indians and Americans are the most frequently blamed. The overwhelming evidence, however, suggests that the sectarian and tribal divisions amongst Muslims and justifying violence in the name of religion are the primary causes of why Islam is at war with itself.
In Pakistan, confessions and appalling claims of responsibility by the spokespersons for the Tehreek-i-Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi should leave no doubt about where the guilt resides. At the same time, the Pakistani Intelligence agencies have put together incriminating evidence running into hundreds of thousands of pages against the extremist sectarian outfits, al Qaeda affiliates, the nationalist militias in Balochistan, and others who have perpetrated indiscriminate violence against civilians and the State resulting in over 48,000 deaths since 2004.
The hate-fuelled gulfs that divide Muslims are so wide that not only unarmed civilians, but doctors and others who try to save victims of violence, are also targeted by the extremists. The attack on the Bolan Medical Complex on Saturday, which left scores dead including four nurses, was not the first of its kind. A sectarian attack in Karachi in February 2010 was followed by a bomb attack on the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Hospital where victims were rushed for treatment. More than 25 Shia Muslims perished in the two attacks.
And while the Muslim on Muslim violence is claiming victims all over Pakistan, the violence against non-Muslims, including Hindus and Christians, often brings together Muslims of different stripes, who would otherwise be fighting each other, in attacking religious minorities.
The targeted killings of university professors in Karachi and Quetta, the murder of Shia doctors and professionals, and the attacks on the shrines of patron saints are all evidence of the fact that Muslims have been killing other Muslims while being motivated by hate and using Islam to justify violence.
Why is that the belief in Islam is not sufficient to prevent violence amongst Muslims? From the very first day Muslims are taught that their belief in Islam trumps all other identities that they may hold. Their skin colour, tribe, caste or creed, none matters once they enter the fold of Islam. Why then, have millions of Muslims died at the hands of their fellow believers?
Political, religious, and other leaders in the Muslim world have kept the dialogue focused on the conflicts where Muslims have been the victims. The Bosnian conflict, the communal violence in India, which has caused the death of thousands of Muslims, and the Arab-Israeli conflict have been the focus of Muslim leaders. Seldom has the dialogue focused on why Muslims kill other Muslims. And even if the topic ever comes up, it ends up being an exercise in mass scapegoating.
Muslim societies have thus evolved into places where revenge is confused with justice, forgiveness with weakness, and peace with cowardice. These are the places where unholy men wage holy wars against unarmed civilians, pitching Muslims against other Muslims.
Back to Quetta
Imagine the state of mind of the person who wore a suicide vest and boarded the bus carrying young women whose bright faces were lit with the pride of being educated. There was no reason to attack these innocent women who were unarmed and unrelated to any conflict. But that did not deter the suicide bomber who proceeded to kill them and herself in a suicide attack.
Moments before the blast, the young women were ignorant of the pain that would soon be inflicted on them. They must be smiling and talking to their friends, planning for the rest of the day and for what lay ahead in their lives. The suicide bomber looked at the faces of the women who, if given the opportunity, would most certainly have improved the plight of their impoverished nation.
And then the blast. Some died instantaneously. Others must have suffered the agonising pain of the wounds and the resulting fire that engulfed the bus and consumed its riders. Those who survived the blast must have heard the cries for help emerging from deep inside the bus. The rescuers must have rushed to the bus, but could not assist the victims since the leaping flames kept everyone at bay.
Somewhere in or near Quetta a group of men chanted with pride, Allah-u-Akbar (God is great), eulogising the female suicide bomber for killing the very women who held the most promise for Pakistan. Their spokesperson called the news outlets to claim responsibility for the attack on unarmed women. Later, at the Bolan Medical Complex in Quetta, another group of men, armed with AK-47 and wearing suicide vests, engaged the security personnel in a standoff that left several more dead, including four nurses who were attending to the wounded from the earlier blast.
This was all done in the name of Islam. This will be repeated sooner than later. Some would argue this is not the “real” Islam. Does it really matter what real Islam is when its true followers cannot stand against those who use religion to commit genocide?
(The author is Ph.D, Associate Dean of research and graduate programs at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto.)
—(Courtesy: Dawn)



TIME’ Magazine Was Wrong: Burmese Nationalist Monk Wirathu Stands Vindicated‏


July 5, 2013

By Shenali Waduge


There is a common thread that runs through the histories of Buddhist countries; they have all been the victim at one time or the other of aggressive incursions made by people of Abrahamic faiths i.e. Christians or Muslims. This process has not ended. It still continues unabated and with greater ferocity. When prominence is given to “reconciliation” their incursions have yet to be apologized or compensated.

One thousand years ago Buddhist Asia ranged from Afghanistan to Japan. Today countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and South Korea are no longer identified as Buddhist. Several other traditional Theravada Buddhist countries such as Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka today find themselves besieged by forces more powerful and predatory than their slender resources can match. Their appeal to the call for Buddhist nationalism is a last resort to preserve their heritage, religion and country to ensure history is not repeated.

The situation in Myanmar (Burma) must be understood in such context. The latest issue of ‘Time’ Magazine (July 1, 2013) has got it all wrong when it accused the leading defenders of the Buddhist heritage of Burma as terrorist. Western colonial countries and their Islamic acolytes have never admired Buddhist heroes or those who resisted European or Islamic conquests of Buddhist lands.

The Time magazine’s July 1 issue cover story, “When Buddhists Go Bad,” depicting a photo of nationalist monk U Wirathu with the headline “The Face of Buddhist Terror ” is easily explicable in the context of Western imperialism and its unrelenting propaganda campaign to demonise, denigrate and slander all those who stand in the way of their territorial and economic conquests.

It is also an unspoken but sordid fact that today Western media including big names like Time Magazine are at the service of Saudi, Qatar, Turkish and OIC petro dollar funds to defame, distort and spread vile propaganda against Buddhism and its defenders.
World’s Media – Held Captive by Oligarchies

Six companies control 96% of the world’s media which has been criminally complicit in covering up the West’s war crimes and functioned as propagandists for what we now know were lies to facilitate Illegal Wars of Aggression. Media is tasked to psychologically manipulate people through various strategies; Time Inc is part of that global media lie factory so when it christens its July cover as “Face of Buddhist Terror” and gets its China bureau chief and East Asia correspondent to write an article titled“When Buddhists Go Bad” it is nothing but unethical journalism because monk Wirathu’s letter shows that Hanna Beech has violated media ethics by incorporating statements that Wirathu had not made. Time Magazine owes it to Burma to publish monk Wirathu’s letter on Time and publicly apologize for misquoting monk Wirathu.

Asia is tomorrow’s future. Asia is still pre -dominantly Buddhist. Buddhists are people internally motivated and therefore the strategy is to use media to demonize Buddhists while using the weapon of arms and ammunition with hir ed rebel movements to do the rest of the dirty work. Funded by Anglo-Americans and assisted by Wahhabis, various strategies are now being used to denigrate, divide and demoralize Buddhists amongst themselves and with the other communities around them. Individuals who are nationalists and able to rally public opinion become targets for rebuke. We know the fate that befell Congo’s Lum umba and Burma’s own martyr Gen. Aung San at the hands of these Anglo-Americans because they were an obstacle to their overall objective. Therefore, Buddhist monk Wirathu becoming the latest victim of media onslaughts is nothing new. It is obvious that monk Wirathu’s “nationalism” is what the West abhors and why he is being targeted in an internationally funded campaign to discredit him.

Wirathu’s response

Hannah Beech’s article cannot be read and accepted unless monk Wirathu’s response gains the same prominence given that he accuses her of lying.

“I could not see the hatred behind
your smiles. I could not see your
ruthlessness under your tender

I could not see your deceit under
your sweet words it is like blade
covered by honey.

I did not think that a gentle and
beautiful girl like you have the
ruthless heart of performing savages
attack on us to be heard all over the
world. I could not think that
because of my background may be as
you said I was a vagabond.”

Therefore on what grounds of truth and morality does Time Magazine or Hannah Beech have to bring down the international condemnation gavel on Burma, monk Wirathu or Buddhists of the world?

My preaching is not burning with hatred as you say. Only your writing is full of hate speech.

We can forgive the misunderstanding. We can forgive wrong conclusion. But will you deny that your hatred words targeted me to tarnish my reputation.

Please recheck your words and the words that I preached.

“Now is not the time for calm.”

“Now is the time to rise up to make your blood boil.” These are your words.

Now I show my words.

969 is for peace,

We should preserve these noble reputations of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

For our National cause, our Culture and our Faith,

We will avoid terror act.

Upholding three gems (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha)

We will perform with honesty, diligence and determined attempts.

For our national cause,

We will carry out it warmly without ignorance.”

These are my words. It is clear that you made savage attack against me by comparing my words and your words.
Legacy of Western imperialism

It is obvious that Hanna Beech is building up an argument that Buddhism has become a religion of violence claiming that “Buddhism has largely escaped trial”. She cites examples from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand to project a notion of Buddhist chauvinism ill-forgetting that it was the monks who protected the religion, race and State of these Buddhist nations when they were faced with brutal onslaughts of Western Christian Armies at the instigation of the Vatican, Dutch Reformed Church or the Church of England, and many of these countries have had their Buddhist roots razed and Buddhists either killed or chased away – she conveniently omits mention of Bangladesh and Maldives as once Buddh ist nations where Islamic invaders killed the Buddhist monks and destroyed Buddhist artefacts, never mentioned too was how the world’s oldest university at Nalanda was raised to the ground by Islamic hordes and the Buddhist monks who stood and accepted their karmic fate were slaughtered in their hundreds. Incidentally, the Islamic element has become part of contemporary Islamic incursions alongside armed militant elements that has got unarmed Buddhists worried of history being repeated. Additionally, the invisible Christian element through conversions subtly taking place again echoes a re-entry of colonialism. Preparedness for both these Abrahamic incursions is the challenge that Buddhist Asia is now forced to gear itself up to.

Thus, the formerly Buddhist lands are no more and the dominos are certainly falling on the remaining Buddhist hinterlands. Therefore, what is the crime for defending one’s hinterland? Is Hannah Beech and Time Magazine desiring that Buddhists in the remaining Buddhist nations simply remain passive spectators because their religion denotes them to be compassionate without defending what is theirs? The Buddha has said to be compassionate and kind but he has not taught to not defend oneself or one’s country or Buddhist values and heritage.

Given that Hannah’s arguments rests on the logic of religion and violence we would like to remind Hannah that not a single Offensive War has been fought by Buddhists. Buddhists have never invaded other nations or usurped the rights of people’s religions by converting them by deceitful means. The histories of Africa, North and South America, Middle – East, and Asia all reveal the wanton destruction committed on the indigenous people by invading armies belonging to Abrahamic religious faiths. No amount of indulgence in human rights rhetoric and peace studies cosmetics can erase or whitewash the genocides, mass murders and crimes against humanity committed by people of European Christian stock and Islamic conquerors in their drive for world domination.
Media’s silence

Why does the media hesitate to clearly identify the conflicts that have been based on religion combining with political alliances, economic advantage and world supremacy? What of these religious conflicts – Northern Ireland (Roman Catholics vs Protestants), Rwanda genocide, Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict between Muslims, Catholics and Serbian Orthodox, Sudan (Christians-Muslims), Ivory Coast (Muslims-Christians), Cyprus (Christians-Muslims), East Timor (Catholics-Muslims), Iraq (Muslims-Muslims), Kosovo (Christians-Muslims), Kurdistan (Christians-Muslims), Macedonia (Christians-Muslims), Middle East (Jews, Muslims, Christians), Nigeria (Christians-Muslims), Pakistan (Muslims-Muslims), Philippines (Christians-Muslims), Chechnya (Christians-Muslims), Somalia (Wahhabi-Sufi). Over 50 of present day conflicts are either between or because of Muslims or Christians. If Jesus or Allah has never propagated to kill or annihilate people who are not their own why have these Religious Wars taken place consecutively and continue to do so? Buddhists cannot be put into the same basket as these for in defending one’s religion, one’s race and one’s country there is nothing chauvinistic, racist or damning.
Stakes in Myanmar

Monk Wirathu has not asked his followers to invade another nation like the Popes of the past did, nor has he said to attack any people – he has only said to defend oneself and to be prepared. There is no crime that anyone can attribute to such a warning. What he is doing is what any nation and patriot would do under the circumstances that the Buddhists of Burma are now placed in and that is to defend one’s nation and one’s people by warning them of foreign incursions. If the US after one single attack which it cannot even prove was committed, applied Christian Just War Theory and illegally invaded Afghanistan and continues to terrorise it after 12 years by starting a War on Terror to defend the US against terrorism, why cannot other nations also defend itself against terrorism because when any group take up arms as the Rohingyas have proved by the numerous armed rebel movements currently receiving training, weapons and financial support, Myanmar has every right to defend itself and monk Wirathu has every right to warn his people of the impending dangers.

1. Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO)

2. Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF)

3. Rohingya Patriotic Front (RPF)

4. Rohingya Liberation Organization (RLO)

5. Itihadul Mozahadin of Arakan (IMA)

Buddhist pacifism and tendency to co-exist in peace with others is being manipulated to their gross disadvantage. The challenge today is for Buddhists particularly in besieged Buddhist countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka and even Thailand to unite and to read between the lines.

‘Time’ Magazine and Hannah Beech in particular owes Burma and monk Wirathu a public apology. Monk Wirathu’s reply must feature in the next edition of ‘Time’ Magazine alongside that apology. Defaming and demonising is a strategy used by media but Asians are today more enlightened as to the dynamics that prevail in the international political scene and are also aware of the diabolical machinations at play.

The views expressed are the author’s own.‏-oped/