Category Archives: Arab

Park51 Raises Urgent Questions for Muslims

The struggle over the Park51 project — the Islamic center that will be known as the Cordoba House — in New York has presented a series of challenges to both Muslim organizers and the broader Left, but these challenges need to be understood as the culmination of deeper political and strategic questions that have so far gone unresolved.

Responding to white populism

In a period of growing white populism, it’s important to ask what strategies are necessary for the defense of our communities, and the defeat of both white supremacy and US imperialism.

The murder of Oscar Grant is only one of the most recent and better known cases of the ongoing police campaign to control and repress the Black community.  Since the death of Oscar Grant, at least seven more young Black men have been murdered in northern California alone.  Bloodshed at the hands of white violence — whether by slave drivers, lynch mobs, or the police — has been a consistent feature of the Black experience in the U.S.

In Arizona, Latin@ and undocumented peoples have been on the front lines of the fight against draconian forms of immigration control.  Sheriff Arpaio — who openly associates with neo-fascists — has become a national figure of the anti-immigrant movement conducting raids on immigrant neighborhoods, and holding many immigrant and undocumented people in tent cities that differ little from concentration camps.  This struggle, of course, has deeper roots in NAFTA and other imperial incursions by the U.S. in Latin America.

The passage of SB 1070 in Arizona needs to be understood as part of the success of a resurgent Right, that has been circling around the Tea Party, to capture state power in AZ.  While the ideological make-up around the Tea Party nation-wide is still being contested, fascist elements have entered the fray, and are attempting to both win individuals to their program, and influence the political direction of this milieu.

In this context, Park51 takes on new meaning and greater urgency.  Deepa Kumar has argued that anti-Muslim racism in the U.S. is in the process of changing.  While in the past, the U.S. ruling class treated the “Muslim terrorist threat” as a task to be tackled in the international arena, we have seen an increase in attacks on Muslim peoples inside the U.S.

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Park51 Coopts Muslims

From our friends over at Ikhras.

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What the Muslim-American Establishment Fights For

by Kathim

If I may sound so callous, allow me to admit that I don’t really care about recent approval of building a mosque near Ground Zero (that’s New York’s ground zero for the purposes of this article, not Baghdad’s or Kabul’s). Aside that this step will anger islamophobes, which is always a good thing, I see nothing to celebrate.

I would be impressed if the mosques that were destroyed in Al-Lid and Palestine 48 were rebuilt for Nakba survivors to pray in, or if the mosques of Iraq that were destroyed during the US invasion and occupation were restored.  However, I fail to see the point of pouring much time and energy into gaining legal and political permits to build a mosque near the site of an event that happened on 9/11/2001, in retaliation for which around 2 million Muslims have been killed between Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan and other sites of the so-called war on terrorism. How will the building of a mosque near Ground Zero alleviate the grief of 2 million Muslim families that have lost loved ones? How will it protect Muslims from the empire’s claws? What role will it play in defanging the US war machine? Will Abu Ghraib survivors’ psychological scars heal? Will this mosque help dispossess Afghani and Iraqi refugees feel safe enough to return home?

Let’s examine what interests will be served. What will Muslims get out of the establishment of a mosque at ground zero? A place to pray at most. And it’s not like there was a shortage of mosques in New York. Indeed, one Muslim who advocated for the building of the mosques stated there were already 200 mosques in New York, so building one at ground zero won’t be a big deal. Any attempt to enhance political standing in the US discredits the entire mosque effort islamically, as the intention (niyyah) behind building a mosque or performing any deed should be made exclusively for pleasing God.

What will the US get out of the establishment of a mosque at ground zero?

Continue reading Park51 Coopts Muslims

Palestine today, but what about tomorrow?

By Will and jubayr

Last week, we all watched as the Obama administration asked to get “all the facts” before releasing a comprehensive statement about the murder of 9 Palestine solidarity activists by the Israeli Defense Force aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.  If he just waits a little longer, he might be able to find a way to use international law to bury both the dead and the living.

Many of us have become depressed and catatonic, staring eyes wide and mouths dry;  we’ve lost sleep and shed tears;  there is a heavy weight in our chest as we’ve become both saddened and enraged at the continued barbarism of Israeli state violence, and the way the US ruling class justifies spilling the blood of Muslims, Arabs and Palestine solidarity organizers alike.

In response we’ve organized rallies, protests and candlelight vigils around the world.  In Turkey, dozens of our sisters and brothers declared an end to sanctuary for Zionism and white supremacy, by storming the Israeli consulate.


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Israel’s Attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla: New Escalation, New Desperation

As with the general crisis, it seems everything is magnified at a higher level.

What follows are a few brief notes on last week’s assault of the aid convoy to Gaza. It certainly isn’t the only death squad operation going on against aid convoys as events in southern Mexico shows.

The attack on the Free Gaza flotilla, with the killing of 9 solidarity organizers and wounding of 30 or more, is not an isolated incident. It instead reveals a number of interlocking tensions that need to be pulled apart.

This premeditated assault and murder is part of a general shift in the Israeli government’s policy toward international anti-apartheid organizing, where the regime itself is taking on an increasingly direct role in attacking solidarity efforts. The regime understands that a more pro-Palestinian viewpoint has steadily gained ground in the Left and progressive circles. Further, it understands that the tactic of BDS has gained significant ground in the last ten years. While Palestinians, and more broadly Arabs and Muslims, have been constant targets of U.S, European and Israeli agents and police, the net is now being cast wider to include international solidarity as a whole.

In less than 24 hours after the attack on the Free Gaza flotilla, the Israeli government, along with the vast majority of newspapers and news channels in the U.S. and Europe began their typical intensive propaganda campaign. This certainly creates a kind of firewall, with the vast majority of people suffering from lack of knowledge about Israeli apartheid and the role of U.S. imperialism.

However, even this propaganda and the immense interest U.S. and other Western elites have invested in the apartheid project is coming up against reality. They have not been able to solve the political impasse represented by the Palestinian struggle. As a result, Zionism, as a form of white supremacy, is perhaps more in crisis today than it ever has been in its history.
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Iran Retrospective

By Will and mlove

Two weekends ago in Iran hundreds of thousands people (perhaps more) took to the streets once again and defied the clerical regime. The holiday of Ashura was turned into another referendum in the streets with people marching, as well as attacking police stations and banks. Not only were about a dozen people killed by the police, but there were reports that some units refused to fire on the crowds and that some went over to the marchers. What seemed to be at first a continuation of the small, sporadic but violent demonstrations that have occurred in recent months, turned into another massive street confrontation with the regime. Therefore, they have turned out to be a further development of the June 2009 protests that, what seemed like protests about the questionable election result of Ahmadinejad’s victory, became a direct and mass challenge to the character of the regime itself.

Well before the June events, and periodically since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the character of the regime and the struggles against it have become among the Western Left and Iranian socialist exiles deeply and bitterly debated. The reason for this urgency is obvious: Imperialism has spent 30 years in an unrelenting attempt to win back its access to Iranian oil and destroy the historical example of the Iranian Revolution. While more recently the U.S. has hoped to sponsor a version of its “color revolutions” in Iran (as they have in Ukraine, Lebanon and Georgia), there is another side of the struggle in Iran that is fundamentally opposed to the interests of Western imperialism. The fundamental issues, of course, go back further and are not new, and go back to the time of the Russian Revolution when this became a dividing line between anarchists, Left communist currents, Trotskyists and Stalinists.

Here are some basic readings that cover some key positions on the Iran events. Some basic questions worth asking (among others): What is the class basis of the movement? What are its politics and demands? What are the forms of struggle that are developing? What is the relationship of U.S. imperialism and Israeli apartheid to developments inside Iran and the historical legacies of the Iranian Revolution? What are the issues involved in the “split” between the Iranian and Arab Left concerning the character of the regime and the movement against it?

Background to the June events:

Kaveh Ehsani, Arang Keshavarzian and Norma Claire Moruzzi,
Tehran, June 2009

Iran and the Western Left:

Wildcat,
Iran: A new warm-up?

World Socialist Web Site, The crisis of the Islamic Republic and the tasks of the Iranian working class

MRZine Editor,
How many Leftists are “United for Iran”?

Saeed Rahnema,
The Tragedy of the Left’s Discourse on Iran

Afro-Asian Solidarity from Below or Above?

by Will

Afro-Asian solidarity is the basic idea that people from these backgrounds have struggled together against white supremacy and colonialism.  This can be expanded to how both have influenced each other culturally in terms of music, food, and clothes.

I have felt this takes on a particularly important dimension in the United States where race/class tensions have existed between Asians and Africans.  This has been most notably recognized in popular media through the Asian shop owner pitted against the Black community.  Hopefully these dynamics will be explored in the upcoming months on the blog, but to frame that discussion properly we need to start from a seemingly distant point.

Here are some notes on Aijaz Ahmad’s chapter on “Three Worlds Theory” from his book, In Theory. While Aijaz explores the relationship of literature, socialism, nationalism, and anti-colonialism, I will primarily focus on the latter three.  I am specifically trying to explore the relationship of “Afro-Asian solidarity” to Three Worlds Theory (When people say “third world” the underpinnings go back to TWT.), the Bandung Conference, and the Non-Aligned Movement. I am not saying they are the same thing, or that they originate from the same historical moment or people.  I am trying to connect and separate concepts in the hopes of achieving some clarity. Fundamentally, I believe the question of Afro-Asian solidarity is about the class nature of such solidarity.

I believe this is important as in the last decade a host of works by Bill Mullen, Vijay Prashad, Robin Kelley and Fred Ho revive a legacy of African and Asian solidarity.  I believe this attempt is vital, but has been underdeveloped theoretically and politically.  Most notably it has taken on Stalinist and Maoist politics.  I have taken Aijaz’s chapter as a key place to start thinking about the problems of any discussion on Afro-Asian solidarity.  My interest is in thinking about Afro-Asian solidarity ‘from below’ from a class perspective.  In this light Mullen’s connection of CLR James and Grace Lee Bogg’s collaborative efforts is vital.  There is much more that can be explored from ‘from below’ recoveries in the context of national liberation and communist movements.

If my notes on Aijaz do not make 100% sense right now, my upcoming notes on the Darker Nations should clarify why Aijaz is so vital in the discussion of Afro-Asian solidarity. I believe that Vijay Prashad’s work is a long lament or tragic drama on why the national bourgeoisies did not have time or resources to develop the nation; or that they were not pushed to the left far enough; among other excuses justifying a history of national liberation and neo-colonialism rooted in the national bourgeoisies as the determining agents of social change.

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Nidal Hasan: The Soul of a People

written with fatima & Will

For the moment, no one can say for sure that they understand the dynamics behind the events at Ft. Hood involving Nidal Hasan. What is clear is that he attacked military personnel whose sole purpose is to kill Arabs and Muslims. This should not be forgotten. He was humiliated and attacked for being Arab and Muslim, he desperately wanted to avoid deployment in a war that was directed against him and our people, and he believed that it is our duty as brown, black, Muslim, Asian, Arab, South Asian and many more to stand up and fight our oppressors. This rage that we feel swelling up in our hearts, weighing heavy in our chests, that rises up to choke us and bring tears to our eyes can only be held back for so long.

This rage cannot be controlled. Liberals and Conservatives get upset when we don’t express that rage in ways they are comfortable with.  They send troops to put bullets in our peoples’ heads, and then council patience and moderation to us. This lets them offer the solution of dialogue to everyone who has their necks under the boot of Empire.  When they disband the U.S. military, then dialogue can be considered with these hypocrites. There is no hope of explaining this rage to them. They will never understand.

At the same time, many liberal and conservative Muslims are afraid of this rage as well because they profit from their role as our prison guards. It is clear that the Muslim community is not united and can never be under these conditions.  There are some who want to join the club of American Empire.  They just want American Empire to kill less Muslims and to interrogate them with less electricity.  They are just as afraid of the Black people, poor people, and queer people as the racists, the homophobes, and the rich.

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