Category Archives: Islam

The Egyptian Uprising

More at The Real News

-Chris Shortsleeve

The uprising in Egypt is escalating. Imperialists who have said that ‘stability’ is what makes for good democracy, racists who have said that Arabs do not want their freedom, patriarchs who have said that women do not attend, much less lead, protests, and the Western middle classes who have wanted to paint the Egyptian uprising as a Twitter and Facebook-happy ‘Cedar Revolution’ of doctors and lawyers, have all in the last two weeks seen their pseudo-sociological assumptions about the Egyptian people collapse.

On Tuesday, one of the largest pro-democracy demonstrations yet went down in Cairo – this after days of the US media reporting, and the Mubarak regime requesting, a return to “normalcy” in Egypt – and perhaps even more significantly, new and militant strikes are now emerging throughout Egypt: six thousand Suez Canal workers have gone on strike in Suez, Port-Said, and Ismailia. They are being joined by railway technicians and oil workers, by government, sanitation, and court employees, and by factory workers both in Suez and historic, militant Mahalla. Independent trade unions are forming, and calls are being circulated for both single-day and more sustained General Strikes. The working class is moving in Egypt.

And while the Mubarak regime unleashes both direct and extra-parliamentary repression against the pro-democracy forces, while Torturer-in-Chief Omar Suleiman issues a mixture of pleas, threats, and mild economic ‘reforms’, and while both the Obama administration and the Egyptian opposition itself cannot coherently say whether they are for dictatorship or democracy, cannot unequivocally call for the Mubarak regime to be dismantled and for Mubarak and Suleiman to step down, the Egyptian people are showing no signs of giving up, and are continuing to call for the entire government’s dismissal.
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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

Muslim Students Take the Lead at UC Irvine

written with Will

This past February students in the Muslim Student Union (MSU) at UC Irvine deliberately disrupted a talk by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the US, as he attempted to justify the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008/2009.

The 11 students who disrupted Oren by shouting him down were arrested.  Afterwards, Muslim students and other Palestine solidarity activists attending the event walked out and held a protest outside.

Recently, Lisa Cornish, the Senior Executive Director of Student Housing, and other university officials at UC Irvine have recommended the 1-year suspension of the MSU.  In addition, MSU members must complete 50 hours of community, no MSU officers will be allowed to be an “authorized signer” for any other student groups, and if the MSU is allowed to re-register for official status in 2011, it will be placed under a one-year probation.

There is currently a debate over at Kabobfest where some in the Muslim community are arguing that the MSU should not have been involved in organizing the disruption.  They argue that MSAs and MSUs have no business taking leadership in this struggle.

One argument goes that it invites retaliation on the whole Muslim community threatening their religious freedom.  The problem with this argument is that it places the sins of white supremacy and empire squarely in the laps of Muslims and solidarity activists who choose to resist.  There is a faulty assumption here that the occupations of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the racist attacks on Muslims in the US are a result of organized resistance on our part.  This is completely backwards.  Oppression doesn’t result from our resistance; we resist because we are oppressed.

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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.


Continue reading Palestine today, but what about tomorrow?

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

Notes on Afghanistan and Pakistan

by Will

Historical Features of Afghanistan

A) Afghanis have fought the British in three separate wars and Russians once and defeated them or held them at stalemate.  This is military dimensions of this war is something the American brass and political establishment are aware of.  This is reflected in the uneasiness of sending more troops although the new fiscal realities of the U.S. government are probably playing a role as well.

B) Afghanistan is one of the few places on the Earth where bourgeois-capitalist development has had little if any impact.  While many newly independent countries in the post-colonial era were taking stabs at state-led development, Afghanistan was largely left out of this dynamic.  This has meant a centralized state with a national ideology, which reaches into the pores of Afghanistan, has never existed.  There is a huge gulf between the cities and the rural sectors of society.  It also means that the presence of a working class is minimal.

C) The Communists following the overthrow of Daoud did not have a base in the countryside.  90% of the Afghani population lived here at the time.  To push for change they had to rely on a top-down strategy which alienated the villagers. This meant force and violence had to be used by the Communists fuelling an insurgency.  The pitfalls of revolution from above laid the gravestone of the Afghani Communists. So when Afghanis hate Communism, it is not because they are backwards, it is because Communists first became their jailers and tortures and later with the Soviets sided with those who jailed and tortured them.

Most Communists made another fatal mistake in supporting the Soviet invasion.  Socialism/Communism cannot be brought by the barrel of a gun.  Furthermore, the Soviet army found itself playing the role of occupier instead of some progressive force.  This was the inherent logic from the beginning.

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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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The Trouble with Irshad Manji

Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble with Islam, has taken official society by storm with her attacks on the culture and politics of the Muslim and Arab world. As a South Asian lesbian who grew up alienated attending a Muslim school in Canada, she represents a multicultural voice in solidarity with the great liberal values of the secular state. Her message and identity are marketed as the latest, best selling popular criticism of “Islamic fundamentalism.”

In promoting her book and ideas, she has spoken on cable news shows, in the official papers, at Washington think-tanks and Zionist audiences throughout North America. Manji claims to be taking up a project of self-criticism and innovative thinking in the Muslim community. The inspiration for her criticism is the “enlightened” states and societies of the West, in particular the U.S. and Israel. To her audience, she is the quintessential “Good Muslim.”

The Irshad Manji phenomenon can perhaps be understood in three ways. First, it is an extension of the logic of liberal multicultural racism. Second, is the attempt to refine a general liberal racist doctrine based on secular chauvinism, which has justified imperialism for more than a century, in the battle to consolidate Western control of the Middle East. Third, like the shallow white male conservatives who falsify the history of democratic traditions from Ancient Greece to Judeo-Christian ethics, Manji falsifies the history of the Arab world and Islamic traditions. She posits a “free” secular West where in fact worship of God is generally subordinated to mayors and police chiefs. This is contrasted to an imaginary Middle East where Allah mandates “tyranny” and where all independent thinking is crushed. Manji, like all good imperialists, tells us lies about the history of those we wish to be in solidarity with and about our own history.
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