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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Women - India unsafe

Living with Fear: India unsafe, say women
Yogendra Yadav & Sanjay Kumar / CNN-IBN

Mike Ghouse - It is a shame that women fear the men. We should be make each other feel safe and secure. The men should give up the animal instinct in them to control and influence what is around them. Some of these men feel threatened and insecure, we need to help them learn that if we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness to each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.



Published on Wed, Jan 23, 2008 at 22:08, Updated at Thu, Jan 24, 2008 in Nation section

Tags: Survey, Women , New Delhi

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Pak's notorious espionage agency recruits women to ferry fake money.

Pics: Bips is world's sexiest Asian woman
Safety worry stalks women BPO workers in Delhi
New Delhi: You don't need a survey to find out that women feel insecure in this country. You just need to take a walk in the evening. You don't need numbers to see that domestic violence against women is widespread. You just need to look into their eyes, perhaps yours.

Yet this realisation is not enough to devise a strategy to combat this violence. You need to understand the anatomy of violence - where, how and why of violence against women - to begin to think about countering this violence.

This is what the latest round of the six-monthly Indian Express-CNN-IBN-CSDS State of the Nation Survey does. This round of the survey focuses entirely on the Indian women.

We interviewed about 4,000 women in 160 locations in rural and all shades of urban India across 20 states of the country in the second week of January and quizzed them about a wide range of questions, including many sensitive questions on the nature of violence against women.

The findings of the study corroborate and deepen the popular impressions about the high level of insecurity felt by women

Nearly half the women interviewed, 44 per cent to be precise, said that they felt ‘mostly’ (17 per cent) or ‘sometimes’ (27 per cent) unsafe outside their home. The survey findings also confirm that the metropolitan areas (million plus cities) are most insecure places for the women.

Vulnerable groups

Women in small towns feel much less insecure than big cities or villages. The survey enables us to pinpoint some of the most vulnerable groups of women that require special policy attention:

Young women below 25 years feel particularly unsafe in all kinds of localities. While women in village feel safer than metros, the young women in the rural areas are more vulnerable than their counterparts in urban areas.

The poor women who live in the big cities turn out to be the most vulnerable group across all the locations and categories in this survey.

Single working women feel much more insecure than the average.

While there is no strong community pattern to the level of insecurity, young Muslim women feel particularly vulnerable.

The survey gives some insights into the basis of this sense of insecurity. It is not so much the screaming headlines about rape or murder but the everyday experience of routine violence that makes women insecure. In this respect again, metropolitan areas are the worst places for women.

High level of insecurity, especially among metros
Those who feel unsafe among %
All 44
Metropolitan 53
City/town 37
Village 46
Note: All figures in percent of women who feel unsafe; 'Unsafe' includes those who feel unsafe' mostly' or 'sometimes'. 'Metros' are all the cities with million plus population.

As many as 59 percent of our respondents from the metros had experienced either physical or verbal harassment in the last one year; 37 percent had faced physical violation.

Some sections are more vulnerable
Those who feel unsafe among
Poor women in metros 68
Young Muslim women 61
Single working women 58
Young women (below 25) 50
Note: All figures in percent; 'Unsafe' includes those who feel unsafe mostly or sometimes. 'Metros' are all the cities with million plus population.

Unsafe at home, unsafe at work

Public transport in big cities is a hellish experience for women. A majority of young women living in the metros said they had experienced teasing and one-third of them had experienced molestation in the last one year in public transport.

There is little to support the widespread impression that women who dress up 'provocatively' are more vulnerable to harassment. If any thing, our analysis shows that women who did not give any importance to dressing up faced more verbal and physical harassment than those who were attentive to dressing up.

Harassment at the work place is not confined to daily-wage workers or those who work in the unorganised sector. Organised sector professionals who work in offices report a higher than average experience of harassment at the work place.

Insecurity for women does not begin outside the four walls of their home. Taking a cue from the pioneering work of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) in documenting domestic violence, our survey also asked a series of sensitive questions on violence that women face from close quarters.

Nearly one-fifth of our married respondents said they were beaten by their husband or in-laws in the last one year; the figure for husband alone was 17 percent. This fits in well with the findings of the NFHS that women who experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence from their spouse within the previous 12 months were 21 percent, 7 percent and 11 percent of the women interviewed. These figures are particularly important because domestic violence tends to be severely under-reported.

Domestic violence has the expected pattern: women in the lower classes tend to experience or report greater domestic violence. At the same time the level of violence by husband or in-laws in the respectable middle class families is not inconsiderable. Educated women too face a great deal of domestic violence.

Far from escaping it, working women face more marital violence than ‘housewives’.

Those women who were not married did not escape this form of violence: about one-sixth of unmarried women and the same proportion of students reported being beaten by their father or teacher respectively.

Finally, the survey gives a reason why violence against women does not come down: women don't quite trust the police to help them when they face violence.

When asked if they would approach police if they faced molestation in a public place, only about half of the women responded in affirmative. Interestingly, there are no big differences across caste, community or even class on this question, though the poorer women were obviously a shade less sure of going to the police. Here is something for policy makers to ponder about.

(Next page: methodology and graphics)

The CNN-IBN-Indian Express-CSDS “State of the Nation Survey- An Exclusive Survey of Indian Women” was designed and analysed by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

The findings presented are based a sample of 39,98 women respondents in 160 locations spreading over 13 metropolitan or 'million plus' cities, 17 big cities with population over a lakh, 11 small towns with population less than a lakh and 68 rural locations.

The respondents were randomly selected from female names on the electoral rolls in each location. The urban areas were over-sampled in order to get a detailed picture of various kinds of towns and cities.

Urban women comprised 56 per cent of our sample, although only 28 per cent of the country's women stay in urban areas. This over-sampling of urban areas has to be kept in mind while reading any figure for 'all' respondents. Despite this limitation, the social profile of the achieved sample is fairly representative: 75 percent Hindus, 12 percent Muslims, 14 percent Dalits and 10 percent ST.

The fieldwork for the study was conducted between January 10 and 16, 2008. More than 320 investigators and supervisors (about 80 percent among them being women) conducted face to face interviews at the place of residence of the respondent using a standard-structured questionnaire in the language spoken and understood by the respondent.

Sanjay Kumar of the CSDS directed the survey. The field work was coordinated by P. Narsimha Rao (Andhra Pradesh), Rakesh Ranjan (Bihar), Kinjal Sampat (Delhi), Priyavdan M Patel (Gujarat), B.S.Padmavathi (Karnataka), Sajjad Ibrahim (Kerala), G. Koteswara Prasad (Tamil Nadu), Ram Shankar (Madhya Pradesh), Nitin Birmal (Maharashtra), Jagroop Sekhon (Punjab), Harish Kumar (Haryana), Baba Mayaram (Chhattisgarh), Sanjay Lodha (Rajasthan), A.K. Verma (Uttar Pradesh), Suprio Basu (West Bengal), Harishwar Dayal (Jharkhand), S.N Misra (Orissa) Akhil Ranjan Datta (Assam), Mangi Singh (Manipur), Rajesh Deb (Meghalaya). The team that designed, coordinated and analyzed the survey at CSDS comprised of Yogendra Yadav, Sanjeer Alam, Praveen Rai, Dhananjai Joshi, Vikas Gautam, Himanshu Bhattacharya, K.A.Q.A Hilal and Kanchan Malhotra.

Young women are more vulnerable in public places
Age group Teasing Molestation
All 33 14
Young women (below 25) 42 17
Note: All figures are for per cent of women up to 45 years who faced harassment at least once in the last one year in public places like street/mohalla or market. 'Teasing' sands for any form of verbal harassment including lewd comments and 'molestation' stands for any form of physical harassment.

Work place harassment cuts across occupations
Age group Teasing or molestation
Teasing or molestation 22
Office goers 28
Manual labourer 36
Note: All figures are for per cent of working women who faced physical or verbal harassment at least once in the last one year at their work placer.

Women being harassed in public transport
Locality Teasing Molestation
All 27 15
Metropolitan 39 26
Young metro 54 30
Note: All figures are for per cent of women up to 45 years who faced harassment at least once in the last one year in public transport. 'Teasing' sands for any form of verbal harassment including lewd comments and 'molestation' stands for any form of physical harassment.

Women are unsure of going to police even if molested in public
All Poor
Will approach police 53 48
No, will not 14 15
Not sure/ Cant say 33 38
Note: All figures in percent.

High incidence of domestic violence
Those who were beaten by %
Husband 17
In-laws 6
Father 12
Employer 4
Teacher 17
Note: All figures in per cent of (married women for husband/in-laws; unmarried women for father, working women for employer and students for teachers) women below 50 years who were hit at least once in the last one year. Interviewed held in the presence of husband and other adult male family members are excluded from the analysis.

Working women face more violence from husband and/or in-laws
All 19
Housewives 16
Working women 23
Note: All figures in per cent of married women who were hit by their husband or in-laws at least once in the last one year.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Obama Rally in Carrollton

Obama - Rally in Carrollton

Register to attend "Yes we can Obama Rally" on Sunday, March 2
between 4 PM and 6:30 PM


Sunday, March 2, 2008
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Barbeque tonite Restaurant
2540 Old Denton road, suite 173
Old Denton at Trinity Mills (Bush Frwy)
(972) 877-9133

For the first time in our history, we have a candidate who is representing you, me and every American; he is an all inclusive candidate.

“as the son of an immigrant, his experience can affirm that the American dream is still intact for everyone, regardless of where one's parents were born. His dedication to his family, strong work ethic, opposition to the war in Iraq and deep faith are all qualities that are important to Latino voters." Indeed, he represents the hopes of every American; born, naturalized, white, Black, brown or yellow, Atheist, Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Native Indian, Sikh, Shinto, Wicca, Zoroastrian and every American. Obama has become a powerful symbol of pluralism and inclusiveness.

Join us between 4 and 6 PM on Sunday, March 2 at Barbeque tonite, in Carrollton at the SE Corner of Old Denton and Trinity Mills (Bush Frwy or I-90). Be a part of the change to put American on the path of peace, progress and co-existence.

Mike Ghouse (214) 325-1916

Obama - Safety issues

Obama - Safety issues.
I am duly concerned about the safety of Obama, whenever good emerges in a nation; evil forces get activated and attempt to harm the good. It is in our interest to safeguard the new hope for America; Obama.

This is the first time in our nation's history; some one is speaking the needs, wants and voice of the majority of the people. He is not a right winger extremist, nor a left winger but right down the middle, touching every mind and soul on either side. A majority of us are moderates, people who want to get along with all, people who do not want to breed hate, anger and dirt in our hearts, people who do not want to earn our living by frightening others.

Thanks God for Obama, he is our new shepherd on the political pluralism.

Here are a few articles that bring out the issue to the fore;
1. Secret Service leaves Obama at Risk
2. Police concerned about order to stop screening
3. Leaving Obama Vulnerable Leaves National Security At Risk


February 22, 2008 at 11:44:12

Headlined on 2/22/08:


by Allen L Roland


The U.S. Secret Service ordered Dallas police not to screen for weapons an hour before a recent Dallas Obama rally not only putting Barack at unnecessary risk but raising grave concerns about his safety ~ as his populist movement continues to gain momentum: Allen L Roland

My one growing concern as the Obama movement continues to gain momentum is that the Military / Industrial complex will do anything in their power to remove threats to their power ~ and that certainly would include political leaders who do not believe in Bush's illegal war, occupation and economic rape of Iraq.

The Secret Service apparently ordered the Dallas police to shut down their weapons screening an hour before a major Obama rally on Wednesday putting Obama at risk ~ which obviously surprised many police officers.

The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

Jack Douglas, Dallas-Star Telegram reported yesterday that " Several Dallas police officers said it worried them that the arena was packed with people who got in without even a cursory inspection."
"How can you not be concerned in this day and age," said one policeman.

For myself and millions of Americans this raises grave concerns about Obama's safety as his populist movement continues to gain momentum.

Allen L Roland http://blogs.salon.com/0002255/2008/02/22.html

Police concerned about order to stop screening

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Barack Obama speaks Wednesday at a Democratic rally in Dallas' Reunion Arena. Police were told to stop screening people for weapons before the rally began.
DALLAS 02/21/08 Security details at Barack Obama's rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena.

The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department's homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order ~ apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service ~ was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena's vacant seats before Obama came on.

"Sure," said Lawrence, when asked if he was concerned by the great number of people who had gotten into the building without being checked. But, he added, the turnout of more than 17,000 people seemed to be a "friendly crowd."

The Secret Service did not return a call from the Star-Telegram seeking comment.

Doors opened to the public at 10 a.m., and for the first hour security officers scanned each person who came in and checked their belongings in a process that kept movement of the long lines at a crawl. Then, about 11 a.m., an order came down to allow the people in without being checked.

Several Dallas police officers said it worried them that the arena was packed with people who got in without even a cursory inspection.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because, they said, the order was made by federal officials who were in charge of security at the event.

"How can you not be concerned in this day and age," said one policeman.

Allen L Roland http://blogs.salon.com/0002255/2008/02/22.html


Leaving Obama Vulnerable Leaves National Security At Risk
by Gail Minor Page 1 of 1 page(s)


Let's get one thing straight. This is a new day, and I would hate for it to take a horrific event for some to come to terms with this point. I don't care how clueless the person calling for the change in security protecting Presidential hopeful Barack Obama may be. If it is malicious in intent or a circumstance of poor judgement that results in harm to this man, those responsible for this reduction in security will get a crash course I am sure their butts and this nation are not ready for.

Black folk this time will not be burning their own neighborhood as occured upon the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And, the National Guard will not be able to do anything to quail what will result or protect those that appear to be responsible. Let's not forget, the Blacks in the hood and the Whites on the farms that are ALL supporting Obama may not be card carrying members of the NRA...but they are packing and they will handle business.

This is not the sixties, and as much as Obama reminds all of us of the Kennedy's and King...times are very different and history will not look the same this time around. Not only are Blacks and Whites, Native Americans and Latinos, Asians and others all unified on this candidate. Not only are people anxious to live the dream and promise he so eloquently describes to us. Not only are they passionate about Obama's leadership and sick and tired of the old Washington and it's evil. The lives of so many people are depending on Barack Obama keeping his promise of "Change We Can Believe In." And it is this passion that would fuel the likes of a backlash never felt before in America.

Let's not forget...so many people are in desparate need for Obama's promise to be real, for it to improve peoples lot in life. Killing this spirit and hope would make folk feel they have personally been assaulted or are under attack. Expectedly and in self-defense, they will fight back..their reaction, while unpredictable, would certainly be frightening. Today's American citizens have a dark, vigilante side to them that in instances like this, we should worry about. Here are some points of proof.

First of all, we are no longer a nation prone to tears. We start with our infants, giving them no more tears shampoo. We attend courses and listen to motivational speakers that tell us we can not be a victim. There are more children being taught that if someone hits you or pushes you, you push or hit back. You hardly hear mention of the idea of turning the other cheek anymore...unless of course your child attends a Christian school.

Second, let's look at the cinama. Good guys who break the law to injure the bad guy, to bring him to justice or distribute their own brand of payback is acceptable in the eyes of many. And all we see on television and in movies are stories like this...showing those who are breaking the rules to correct an injustice...the vigilante cop, mom, rape victim.

Third, there was a time in our history when people trusted government to protect them, act in their best interest and be fair. Those times are gone. Today Americans are suspicious and untrusting when it comes to Government. They have resolved themselves to the fact that they must take care of themselves...and by any means necessary.

Barack Obama changed that. He has reawakened hope and trust.
People are believing again, trusting again, and open to the possibility that government is not only by the people, but for the people. So protecting him is paramount and there is no room for short cuts or laziness or excuses to reduces security on him. His dreams and promise cannot be lost or deferred--we can't afford it.

In a poem, Langston Hughes asked,

"What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sagslike a heavy load.
Or does it explode?"

If harm comes to Barack Obama, we all will find out.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Petition to save Fawza Falih


To: HRH King Abdullah bin Abd al-'Aziz Al Saud

February 21, 2008
HRH King Abdullah bin Abd al-'Aziz Al Saud
Royal Court
Riyadh 11111
Saudi Arabia

Your Royal Highness,

Al-hamdu lillahi rabbi-il 'alamin
All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds.

We are citizens of many countries appealing to you on behalf of Fawza Falih Mumammad Ali who has been sentenced to death by beheading for the alleged crimes of “witchcraft, recourse to jinn, and slaughter” of animals. The conviction of Fawza Falih for “witchcraft” is a travesty of justice.

Your Highness, we appeal to your devotion to Allah as the greatest judge of all. In the seventh chapter of the Qur'an it is God who tells us “My mercy encompasses all,” a mercy which bestows profound peace and infinite love. Is it not the principle of divine compassion that rules the heart in Islam?

Surely it is the wisdom of God who is, as so many of the verses of the Qur'an teach, much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace, which must inspire mercy for Fawza Falih, and it is you who embodies that compassion in this realm where the least of humanity most needs your protection.

In the name of God, please, halt the execution of Fawza Falih immediately and release her from the Quraiyat Prison.

Thank you.

  • Rev. P. W. Curott, J.D., Assembly of World Religious Leaders
  • Mike Mohamed Ghouse, President, World Muslim Congress
  • Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor of Tikkun Magazine, Chair of the Network of Spiritual
  • Progressives
  • Gregory Gomez, Apache, Spiritual Leader
  • Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim
  • Ellen Evert Hopman M.Ed. Author
  • Elliott Dlin, Executive Director, Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education & Tolerance
  • Dr. Sushil Jain, President, Jain Society of Metro Washington & Secretary, Federation of
  • Jain Associations in North America.
  • Ervad Ratansha Vakil - Zoroastrian Priest - Dallas, Texas, USA
  • Ashok Aklujkar, Hindu Community, Professor Emeritus, Vancouver, Canada
  • Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, Director, Faith Voices for the Common Good, Visiting
  • Scholar, Starr King School for the Ministry
  • Rev. Dr. Todd A. Collier, Presbyterian Minister
  • Rev. Dr. Kevin D. Huddleston, Episcopal Priest
  • Rev. Darrell E. Berger, Unitarian Universalist
  • Noor-ul Amin Ali Son of Jaffer Ali, Pakistan Karachi, Shia Ismaili Muslim
  • Naresh R. Shah, Jain Community, Nitro, WV 25143
  • Rev. S. M. Fox, President, Greater Madison Interreligious Association, Assembly of WorldReligious Leaders
  • Marylou Ghyst, Unity Church, Texas



The Undersigned

View Current Signatures - http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?AIDFAWZA

Nationalism: Boon or Curse?

Is Nationalism a Boon or a Curse? by Amartya Sen

Perspective - Economic & Political Weekly
February 16, 2008
Is Nationalism a Boon or a Curse?
Amartya Sen

Text of Netaji Lecture given in Kolkata on December 27, 2007.Amartya Sen is at the department of economics, Harvard University,United States.

It would be wrong to see nationalism as either an unmitigated evil or a universal virtue. It can be both, a boon and a curse "depending on the circumstances two sides of the same coin. Nationalism tends to be negative when people confront each other along the lines of national divisions; it can be productive enough when social divisions and hostilities tend to be based on other identities, such as religion, community or ethnicity. Central to understanding the contingent variability of the role of nationalism is the need to see nationality as one identity among many that we all have.

Exactly two years before India's independence, on August 15, 1945, in his last message to the nation, Subhas Chandra Bose wrote: "There is no power on earth that can keep India enslaved. India shall be free and before long".1 That confidence, based on a determined commitment to a great cause of ending imperial domination of India brings out a hugely appealing face of nationalism. It can inspire and motivate the people of a country subjected to the bondage of alien rule and to the internal loss of self-confidence that goes with such rule. Even the rousing statement about the inability of any power on earth to keep India enslaved, which Netaji articulated, can be seen in the context of the need to overcome what Rabindranath Tagore had called "the worst form of bondage" "the bondage of dejection, which keeps men hopelessly chained in loss of faith in themselves".2

I begin with a preliminary question. Nationalistic thought on behalf of a nation into which one is born may be quite powerful, but is this sentiment not inescapably confined and constrained by the accident of one's birth? Is nationalism a non-chosen virtue, if virtue it is? I would argue that there are very strong elements of choice underlying nationalistic thought, and this is important to recognize since the understanding of the role of choice is powerfully relevant for taking a responsible view of one's decisions and priorities. First, the fact that one is born in a country and sees no reason for changing one's nationality does not, in itself, demand that overwhelming importance must be attached to one's inherited nationality. Perhaps no one has been more vocal than Rabindranath Tagore in arguing against nationalism when it goes against one's humanity.

Arguments taking a "cosmopolitan" view have been championed for thousands of years, by philosophers such as Diogenes. If and when a person goes in the direction of nationalistic thought, it is a distinct exercise of choice, even when the urgency of social concerns may make it difficult to see the element of volition in that thought. Second, people can, of course, change their nationalities, and there is clearly a huge role of choice there. Third, a person may be contented enough with his or her nationality, and yet may choose to work for the cause of national independence of another country, or for the dignity and well-being of a foreign nation.

Inspiring Power It is important to see that the positive role of nationalism need not influence only those who happen to be, themselves, victims of foreign domination and of related indignities imposed on a subdued nation. Indeed, the fight against national subjugation need not be restricted only to persons who are born in the suppressed nation. The search for justice against captivity can inspire others who come from elsewhere but who choose to join that struggle, moved by the cause of independence and of regeneration of an overpowered nation, and who come to develop a close bond with that underdog society. Annie Besant and Charles Andrews may not have been natives of India, but their dedication and role in the pursuit of freedom and dignity in India were important for India, and also, I would argue, for them too, since the chosen identifications yielded a strong sense of purpose that enhanced the lives of these outreachers as well.

The inspiring power of a chosen rather than inherited identification is brought out clearly enough by Byron's lament about having to leave Greece after the close bonds he had developed with Greece (along with his chosen commitment to work for its independence):

Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Give, oh give me back my heart!

Because of the possibility of such chosen and not just inherited identification, open to anyone in the world, nationalism need not have the parochial quality that it might otherwise have had because of being locally confined, through birth. There is something of a universalising potential in nationalism, which is particularly relevant when the cause involved is that of the underdogs of the world. People choose to work where they think they might achieve something of value, and from Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa to Mother Teresa in India there are plenty of wonderful examples of chosen identifications that show the possibility of global participation in national or regional causes.

Other Virtues of Nationalism Nationalism can clearly have other virtues as well. Netaji pointed to another role of nationalism in his presidential address at the 51st Session of the Indian National Congress at Haripura in February 1938. He touched on the fact that a sense of national identity can work powerfully against the divisiveness of communal distinctions. Subhas Chandra talked about the attempt by India's British rulers "to separate the different communities and put them into water-tight compartments" .3 This point was particularly apt in India in 1938, when the British raj, in its last days, was still rather involved in emphasising the divisions within India between different religious communities, which was widely seen in India as being exaggerated by the raj as a justification for continued British imperial rule.

The point about the uniting role of nationalism does, however, have a more general and pervasive relevance. No matter how generated, divisiveness among the people of a country can be resisted, in general, with a uniting identity, and nationalism can indeed play that constructive role. Nationalism did rise to that challenge in India in confronting communal tensions that preceded the partition of India (though with uneven success), and indeed it remained relevant also after that, through its contribution to the resistance to the separatism of religions, languages, and regions, thereby helping to keep what remained of India reasonably united. I shall discuss later on in this talk how this uniting and positive role can sometimes be extremely important not just in India, but also in other countries as well. I will illustrate the point with the example of contemporary Britain, since the cultivation of divisiveness in colonial India by the British rulers is now matched, I would argue, by an inadvertent
nurturing of religion-based communal identities within Britain itself.

It is not hard to see that nationalism can indeed be a boon, offering benefits that are significant and substantial. What is, however, equally obvious is that nationalism can also be a source of huge conflicts, hostilities and violence. Subhas Chandra himself pointed to this recognition, in the same presidential address at Haripura, when he argued that a country with a strong sense of nationalism can be a source of adversity for other countries, referring interestingly enough in the light of subsequent events to Japan as being "militant, aggressive and imperialis".4 While he himself would later give priority to Indian nationalism in his chosen actions, particularly in creating and leading the Indian National Army (INA), mainly recruited from captured Indian soldiers in Japanese hands, yet his clear understanding that aggressiveness and imperialism can follow from the extreme nationalism of Japan of that period is not in doubt. Subhas Chandra obviously did have to balance the arguments in different directions, and chose to give priority to the fight for independence of his subjugated nation, even though this inescapably involved his being aligned to a power that was, in his own judgment, aggressive and imperialist (though not present in India in that imperial form).

Attitude to Japanese Nationalism The dual attitude to Japanese nationalism is a widespread feature of Indian thinking over those years. Rabindranath Tagore appreciated and praised the importance of the Japanese experience in economic and social development as something that gave hope and some basis of self-confidence to countries outside the west. There was indeed pervasive admiration in India for Japan for its demonstration that an Asian nation could rival the west in industrial development and economic progress, and Tagore noted with great satisfaction that Japan had "in giant strides left centuries of inaction behind, overtaking the present time in its foremost achievement. "This was inspirational for other nations outside the west, and it "has broken," Tagore said, "the spell under which we lay in torpor for ages, taking it to be the normal condition of certain races living in certain geographical limits".5 In this role the contribution of Japanese nationalism was clearly significant.

However, in the same lecture on "Nationalism in Japan," given in Japan in 1916, Tagore went on to criticise sharply the emergence of aggressive nationalism in Japan and its new role as an imperialist, and as E P Thompson, the historian, has noted, "Tagore's outspoken criticisms did not please Japanese audiences and the welcome given to him on first arrival soon cooled".6 While Tagore's worries and concerns were already strong in 1916, the subsequent events, particularly the Japanese treatment of China, shocked him deeply. Rabindranath wrote to Yone Noguchi, a nationalist Japanese poet, who was a friend of Tagore, in 1938 (as it happens in the same year in which Netaji had pointed to the imperialist nature of the-then Japan): "You know I have a genuine love for the Japanese people and it is sure to hurt me too painfully to go and watch crowds of them being transported by their rulers to neighbouring land to perpetrate acts of inhumanity which will brand their name with a lasting stain in the history of man".7 Subhas Chandra Bose too faced conflicting considerations in forming his view of Japan of that time, and the fact that he did decide eventually to get the help of the Japanese in raising his INA would not have eliminated the conflict of rival considerations in Bose's own assessment. The fact that a person facing a conflict decides to give priority, ultimately, to one argument against an opposing one does not indicate that the opposing argument was without merit, or that the winning argument was the only one that the person saw as important. Since this way of understanding the outcomes of arguments is rather central to the approach of my book The Argumentative Indian, I have had the opportunity to discuss the issue more fully there.8 Subhas Chandra clearly did see the conflicting considerations that would have been relevant for his choice, and in the particular circumstances of India and his own role in helping its independence, gave priority to the argument that took him to the INA, rather than doing nothing or ending up again in British imprisonment.

Nationalism in First World War

The generally conflicting picture of nationalism is indeed clear enough. Nationalism is surely a boon in many contexts, and yet it can also be a terrible curse in other ways. The brutal use of nationalism in the world war of 1914-18 was a decisive event in warning people across the world of the destructive potentials of the appeal to nationalism, when the Germans, the British and the French fought each other with great brutality, fed by the invocation of their respective nationalist identities and commitments.

"All a poet can do today is warn", wrote Wilfred Owen, who told the world of the sadness of human lives caught in violent pursuit of what they took to be their national interest. The tragedy of violence is made even more unbearable by its glorification, which is used so effectively by those who appealed to nationalism, particularly in recruiting foot-soldiers for savagery. In his bitterly visionary poem, 'Dulce et Decorum est,' Owen appealed to reason and humanity to resist Horace's much invoked endorsement of the honour of death for (or allegedly for) one's country:

My friend, you will not tell with such high zest to children ardent for some desperate glory, The old lie: Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori.9

Wilfred Owen's mother, Susan, wrote to Rabindranath Tagore in 1920, describing her son's final departure for the war that would eventually cost him his life. Through the nastiness of the desolation of war, young Wilfred could still see the beauty of nature and civilisation. He went to war "looking towards the sun-glorified sea looking towards France." Susan Owen told Rabindranath that Wilfred said good-bye with "those wonderful words of yours beginning at 'When I go from hence, let this be my parting word'." When the pocket book of her dead son, recovered in the battlefield, was sent to Susan Owen, she found (she wrote to Tagore) "these words written in his dear writing with your name beneath." Wilfred Owen's warning has as much contemporary relevance right now as it had when he himself was facing the horrors of the first world war which would ultimately take his life.

If one of the curses of nationalism is the violence and brutality it could generate, there are other burdens as well. Nationalism can blind one's vision about other societies, and this can play a terrible part especially when one country is unusually powerful vis-à-vis another. To illustrate the point, let me consider the Irish famines of the 1840s. I know of no other famine in the world in which the proportion of people killed was as large as in those Irish famines. Even the Chinese famine of 1958-61, which is the largest in terms of the size of absolute mortality (with statistical estimates ranging between 23 and 30 million deaths), cannot match the Irish famines in terms of the proportion of the population that was killed. The famines of the 1840s also changed the nature of Ireland in a decisive way. It led to a level of emigration even under the most terrible conditions of voyage that has hardly been seen anywhere else in the world.10 The Irish population even today is very substantially smaller than it was more than 160 years ago, in 1845, when the famine began.

Was British more particularly English nationalism involved in the process that led to that sequence of famines in Ireland and to the lack of determined public intervention by the administrators in London who were in charge of Irish governance? That hypothesis has often been advanced in a crude form, and even though the over-simple accusation of motivated genocide could not be defended, the general thesis of the culpable role of English nationalism is not entirely mistaken. In Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman, Malone, a rich Irish American, refuses to describe the Irish famines of the 1840s as famines at all. He tells his English daughter-in- law, Violet, that his father "died of starvation in the black 47." When Violet asks, "The famine?", Malone replies: "No, the starvation. When a country is full of food and exporting it, there can be no famine."

There is a significant issue here, even though there are several mistakes in Malone's spiked statement. It is certainly true that food was being exported from famished Ireland to prosperous England, but it is not true that Ireland was full of food. The economic crisis, partly connected with potato blights, did reduce sharply the supply of staple food in Ireland, while also stripping most of the Irish of their normal purchasing power, which is why ship after ship sailed down the river Shannon, laden with fine foods such as dairy products, poultry and meat, for which there were more buyers with adequate purchasing power in Britain than in Ireland (such food export out of a famine-stricken region, guided by market demands, can also be observed elsewhere in a particular class of famines, as I have discussed in my book Poverty and Famines).11 Also, while the expressions "starve" and "starvation" can certainly be taken in their old, proactive sense now largely defunct of making people go without food through intervention, in particular causing their death from hunger, it is hard to deny that there was indeed a famine (as the term is commonly understood) in Ireland at that time, despite Malone's rhetoric to the contrary.

Human Agency in Famine Malone was, in fact, really making a different and extremely important point, in Shaw's wonderful play, but admittedly with some literary licence. The important focal issue concerns the role of human agency in causing and sustaining famines. If the Irish famines were entirely preventable, and in particular, if those in public authority could have prevented them, then the charge of "starving" the Irish would have perspicuity enough. The role of public policy in preventing or not preventing famines, and the political, social and cultural influences that determine public policy, connect closely with the priorities of administration, which are, in turn, influenced by attitudes of the administrators. Underlying Malone's comprehensive censure is an implicit but powerful reference to the attitude of British rulers in London over those ruled in Ireland.

Indeed, as Joel Mokyr, the historian, has noted, "Ireland was considered by Britain as an alien and even hostile nation".12 This estrangement affected many aspects of Irish-British relations. For one thing, it discouraged British capital investment in Ireland, contributing to its underdevelopment. But most relevantly in the present context, there was an astonishing callousness about famines and suffering in Ireland and the absence of any determined attempt made by London to prevent Irish destitution and starvation. Richard Ned Lebow has argued that while poverty in Britain was typically attributed to economic change and fluctuations, Irish poverty was viewed in Britain as being caused by laziness, indifference and ineptitude, so that "Britain's mission" wasnot seen as one "to alleviate Irish distress but to civilise her people and to lead them to feel and act like human beings".13 This may be a somewhat exaggerated view, but it is hard to think that famines like those in Ireland in the 1840s would have been at all allowed to occur in Britain by the administrators in London at that time.

English Attitude to Irish In examining the social and cultural influences that shape public policy and that in this case allowed the famines to occur, it is important to appreciate the sense of dissociation and superiority that characterized the prevailing English attitude to the Irish. The roots of the Irish famines extend, in this sense, at least as far back as Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene (published in 1590) and perhaps even earlier. The tendency to blame the victims, plentiful in the Faerie Queene itself, survived through the famines of the 1840s, and the Irish taste for potato was added to the list of the calamities which the natives had, in English view, largely brought on themselves. Charles Edward Trevelyan, the head of the treasury in London during the famines, who had a huge role in the making of public policy in Ireland, even took the liberty of speculating: "There is scarcely a woman of the peasant class in the West of Ireland whose culinary art exceeds the boiling of a potato".14 There, it seems, we see the birth
of a putatively great explanation of a famine â€" people starved because the Irish peasant woman could not cook beyond boiling a potato!

This cultural issue is also deeply political in its fuller sense, and cultural nationalism can create a big divide between the ruler and ruled, thereby making a huge difference to the way a dependent nation is governed. British attitude to Ireland, including the deep scepticism of the Irish character as seen by the administrators in London, is matched by other cases of national prejudice that played a substantial part in colonial mis-governance. Winston Churchill's famous remark that the Bengal famine of 1943 was caused by the tendency of people there to breed like rabbits belongs to this general tradition of blaming the colonial victim. This had a profound effect in crucially delaying famine relief in that disastrous and easily preventable famine. The demands of cultural nationalism merge well with the asymmetry of power and can have quite devastating effects.

If nationalism is both a boon and a curse, then, it might well be asked, what we should see as the "bottom line". It would be hard to get a bottom line that sorts out neatly the relative importance of boons and curses in this case, and our judgment must depend on the context in which nationalism is being assessed. Perhaps the right bottom line is no more than the divided recognition just stated, along with a pointer to the contextual nature of the overall judgment that should emerge. But this synthetic assessment is somewhat unhelpful as a general statement about the merits of nationalism, if it is not followed by some kind of analysis of when nationalism acts mainly as a boon, and when it is largely a curse. We have to go, I would argue, a bit deeper than the two-part bottom line would state.

Plurality of Identities

I have tried to argue elsewhere, particularly in Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, that many of the puzzling and indeed tragic features of social confusion arise from a common tendency of not paying sufficient attention to the fact that any human being belongs to many different groups and thus has many disparate identities, none of which can be taken to be the person's only or only relevant identity. We are all individually involved in various associations and affiliations in different contexts, in our own respective arising from our birth, our background, our social activities, or the company we keep. The same person can, for example, be a British citizen, of Indian origin, a man, a believer in gender equity, a Muslim, a Malayali, a stock-broker, a non-vegetarian, an asthmatic, a linguist, a poet, a pianist, an astrologer, and one who believes that Australians do not really play good cricket but win consistently because of excellent luck in the fields. All these identities can exist together, and there is no contradiction in accepting simultaneously one's membership of each of these disparate groups, some of which are standard while others may be quite eccentric.

The influence of identity on our decisions can be properly seized only after the basic plurality of identities is adequately appreciated and taken on board. Since we do belong to many different groups, we have to decide whether a particular group to which we belong is or is not important for us. This task also demands that we weigh the relative importance of these different identities, and also that the exercise of choice of identity has to come to grips, explicitly or by implication, with this necessary valuational issue. I am very aware that my contentions on the inescapable presence of plurality of identities, and the need for us to choose our relative priorities between them, are in conflict with some approaches to social analysis, in particular "communitarian" thinking.

Communitarian Approach

The communitarian approach points to the fact, plausibly enough, that some special identity, in particular one's community, can be a matter of pure "discovery" not of choice. The problem arises after it is accepted that there are membership categories indeed many of them to which we involuntarily belong and which can be discovered easily enough. From there the communitarian approach, at least in some versions, proceeds to take the identity with one's community as being automatically the most important part of one's social being central to one's self-discovery. There is surely a huge jump in the reasoning here, since we also discover many other things about ourselves, such as our class, our racial features such as skin colour, our gender, our environment, and so on, and what importance we give to them respectively is for us to decide. We may be sometimes goaded by ongoing convention to conform, but at other times we can resist that goading and decide on our priorities in some different way. We could also give some chosen and acquired rather than discovered identification the pride of place, such as one's profession, one's political affiliation, or one's intellectual approach (such as being a leader of a working class movement despite coming from a different class, or being a feminist thinker despite being a man). Human beings are not only capable of discovery, but also of critique, assessment and judgment.15

There is a similar issue concerning the place of class in Marxian analysis, and some have argued, within that tradition, that the priority of class is automatic and ubiquitous. But is it? It is worth recollecting, in this context, that Karl Marx himself subjected such unique and automatic identification to severe criticism in his Critique of Gotha Programme, in 1875, which was his last substantial work. Marx criticised the German Workers Party's proposed plan of action (the "Gotha Programme") on many grounds, among which was his argument against the insistence in that plan to see a worker only in terms of his or her being a worker, "everything else being ignored":

....unequal individuals (and they would not be different individuals if they were not unequal) are measurable only by an equal standard in so far as they are brought under an equal point of view, are taken from one definite side only, for instance, in the present case, are regarded only as workers, and nothing more is seen in them, everything else being ignored.16

Neither the plurality of one's identities and affiliations, nor the role of human decisions in relative priorities can be easily ignored.

In the context of multiple identities, the nationality of a person can clearly be very important in many situations. Nationalism takes the form, in one way or another, of giving priority to that identity in some particular contexts. When Mahatma Gandhi or Subhas Chandra Bose expressed the hope that in the political context Indians of all different religions should have reason enough to give priority to their Indianness over their respective religions, the appeal that they made was towards giving conditional priority to the national identity in the specific context of those political decisions. This does not, however, deny the importance of other identities that the person has, including religion and community and language and literature. Indeed, for Gandhiji his Hindu beliefs and practices established a hugely important identity in contexts that were primarily religious, rather than political. For Subhas Chandra Bose too, while religion did not have that role, there were non-political identities that were important for him as well, when the issue at hand was not one of national politics, but other things, such as Bengali culture and literature.

The curse of nationalism tends to be associated, I would suggest, with a tendency, when it exists, of giving automatic priority to one's national identity in all or nearly all contexts. Perhaps more modestly it can be argued that when a particular identity is a source of division and engineered violence, as in a war or in terrorism, giving unique priority to that specific identity, denying all others, can be peculiarly flammable and dangerous. Let me illustrate the point with an example involving the competing pull of different identities involving nationality, on one hand, and religious community, on the other.

Pull of Different Identities When the Germans, the British and the French tore each other apart during 1914-18 in fighting what was, to a large extent, a war of nationalism, they could have taken more note than they did of the identities they shared with each other, including that of religion (all three were, of course, overwhelmingly Christian countries), or that of their common Europeanness (all three were in Europe), not to mention their shared human identity. It is the single-minded prominence given to nationalism (and related to it, the prioritization of perceived national interests and alleged national priorities), ignoring the bonds of Christianity, Europeanness, or humanity, that made the recruiting of foot soldiers for that nationalistic war a relatively easy job. That was, however, a moment when the combating populations could have fruitfully reflected on their common Europeanness, or their shared Christianity, which would have worked against giving singular priority to national divisions, even though Europeanness and Christianity can also be hugely divisive in other contexts. The recognition of a shared humanity would, of course, have been more uniting in general in a less contingent way, but in the
specific situation of the European wars of 1914-18, even the otherwise divisive identities of religion and regionality could have played a conditionally pacifist role.

We can contrast all this with the situation today, when the battle lines of terrorism and violence often go along divisions according to religious communities, not of nationality. Here a national identity, rather than one of religious community, can have a contingently constructive role. Despite the political error indeed inanity of the Iraq war waged by the so-called "Coalition of the Willing" led by the United States, the quest for some kind of order in that troubled post-intervention land could be much easier if Iraqi nationalism, or for that matter Arab nationalism, were an important force. Iraqi nationalism could do something to overcome the existing divisiveness of religion and ethnicity, which split up even the Muslim population of Iraq into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish groups, with some hostilities between them. What was a big curse in Europe during the days of the first world war, to wit nationalism, would be a big boon in post-intervention Iraq, to wit again nationalism.

Classificatory Confinement Even though I admire greatly the way post-colonial Britain has, by and large, succeeded in giving cultural freedom to people of different backgrounds and origins who are now resident in the country, it is not easy to avoid misgivings about the official moves in recent years in the United Kingdom towards classifying people by religious categories only, such as "British Muslims", "British Hindus", "British Sikhs", etc, in addition to the old Judeo-Christian Brits. A Bangladeshi
Muslim is now mainly described in official categorisation as a "British Muslim" not differentiable from a Moroccan or Pakistani or Malaysian Muslim even though language and literature are hugely important for the identities of most Bangladeshis (and they did even fight a war for separation, not on grounds of religion, but on that oflanguage and culture and secular politics).

This classificatory confinement has been combined in Britain in recent years with extending state-supported, faith-based schools. Rather than reducing the existing state-financed faith-based schools (which are mostly Christian), actually adding others to them Muslim schools, Hindu schools and Sikh schools to pre- existing Christian ones sharply enhances the importance of religious identities, and reduces the help that children get from their schooling about how to make reasoned choices, including about beliefs and faiths. Also, not only do some of these new schools have difficulty in maintaining standards of non-religious education (like maths and grammar and speech), but also they typically fail to acquaint students with the necessity of reasoning and choice in human life, including the need to decide for themselves how the various components of their identities (related respectively to nationality, language, literature, religious and cultural history, scientific interests, etc) should receive attention. They tend to give pre- determined priority mainly to loyalty to inherited religious communities, through the construction and composition of these schools and also their chosen curriculum.

The odd view of the British nation as something of a "federation" of religious communities has gained much ground in Britain, not least in official circles. There are indeed many signs of enhanced political divisiveness in contemporary Britain, fostered and nurtured along religious or communal lines. This is a context very similar to the one in India that Subhas Chandra talked about in his Haripura presidential address, and indeed elsewhere. It is sad that Britain, which was often accused of nurturing communal divisiveness in India for the purpose of continuing the raj, now has done a fair amount to promote divisiveness within Britain itself, along similar lines. The cultivation of a British national identity that is not parasitic on identities of religious communities, can be very important at this time, for reasons that Netaji talked about in the context of India, as did Mahatma
Gandhi, particularly in his presentations in the so-called "Indian Roundtable Conference" in London, hosted by the British prime minister in 1931.17

I must conclude here. Nationalism is both a curse and a boon. I have discussed the distinct ways in which the two different types of effects of nationalism may work. Our national identity is one of the many identities that we have, and nationalism operates mainly through giving special priority to our national identity over other demands on
our affiliative attention. Nationalism would tend to be least productive indeed thoroughly counterproductive when the main confrontations are along the lines of national divisions themselves (as was the case in Europe during the first world war), since greater nationalism would add fuel to fire. On the other hand, nationalism can be productive enough in many contexts, especially when the social divisions and hostilities, within a country or across the world, tend to be based on other identities, such as religion or community or ethnicity (as it is, to a great extent, right now). The curse and the boon are, in this sense, two sides of the same coin, and depending on the circumstances involved, they can have strongly negative or hugely positive effects.

Two Sides of Nationalism We have reason to resist the tendency, common in some circles, of seeing nationalism as an unmitigated evil, and also the tendency, prevalent in other circles, of considering nationalism to be a universal virtue. More affirmatively, I have argued, first, that nationalism can be either a boon or a curse, depending on the actual circumstances. Second, I have also argued that central to understanding the contingent variability of the role of nationalism is the need to see nationality as one identity among many that we all have, on the relative importance of which we have to decide, if only implicitly. Third, if the choice of priorities is to be made through reasoning, for which I have also argued, then we have to examine whether an emphasis on national identity would add to the divisiveness of a country or the world, or help to reduce it by providing an alternative way of understanding human beings, different from other distinctions, for example of religious community or ethnicity, that might be contributing to divisions and possibly violence. The contingency here involves examining whether focusing on national divisions would sharpen hostilities, or alleviate them. We do know something about the circumstances that would make nationalism a terrible curse, and also about other circumstances that would make it a great boon. There is no mystery in the variability and contingency of the effects of nationalism. But there certainly is a firm invitation here to think and reason and scrutinise, before we decide what to do.

1. 'India Shall Be Free' in The Essential Writings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sisir K Bose and Sugata Bose (eds),Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1997.
2. Rabindranath Tagore, Nationalism, Macmillan, London, 1917; republished with an Introduction by E P Thompson, Papermac, London, 1991, p 17.
3. The Essential Writings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, p 199.
4. The Essential Writings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, p 200.
5. Tagore, Nationalism, pp 17-8.
6. E P Thompson, 'Introduction' to Tagore's Nationalism, p 10.
7. Published later in Tagore for All, Visva-Bharati, Calcutta, enlarged edition, 1984, pp 134-37.
8. The Argumentative Indian, Penguin, London and Delhi, 2005.
9. The poem is included in a collection of poetry for the charitable organisation CRY (this particular one was selected by Shashi Tharoor), and in the Foreword to the book (Poems for CRY, Penguin 2006), I have discussed its lasting relevance.
10. On this, see Robert James Scally, The End of Hidden Ireland, Oxford University Press, New York, 1995.
11. Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1981.
12. Joel Mokyr, Why Ireland Starved: A Quantitative and Analytical History of the Irish Economy, 1800-1850, Allen & Unwin, London, 1983, p 291.
13. See Mokyr's balanced assessment of this line of diagnosis in Why Ireland Starved, op cit, pp 291-92.
14. Quoted in Cecil Woodham-Smith, The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-49, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1962, p 76.
15. I have discussed these issues in my book Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, Norton, New York and Penguin, London and Delhi, 2006.
16. Karl Marx, Critique of Gotha Programme, 1875; English translation in K Marx and F Engels, International Publishers, New York, 1938, pp 21-23.
17. I have discussed and drawn on Gandhiji's arguments in Identity and Violence, Chapter 8.

Kosovo - birth of a nation


Posted 2/20/2008

Geopolitics: The breakup of the distinct nations of the former Yugoslavia was a good thing. But splitting Serbia from its Kosovo province goes beyond that. It's trouble, not just for the Balkans, but for the rest of the world.

Many Kosovars celebrated wildly after winning an independence vote. But not all. Serbian Kosovars blanched at the loss of their ancient homeland, known as the cradle of Serbia, to ethnic Muslim Albanians who had moved in, started a guerrilla war and, with the weekend balloting, finally took over.

It was bitter, because Serbs had cleaned up their country, thrown out their dictator and banked on United Nations assurances guaranteeing their territorial integrity in Security Council resolution 1244, passed in 1999.

"It's frustrating that the (Boris) Tadic administration is being punished for acts that took place under (Slobodan) Milosevic, because the new administration helped oust him," Illinois congresswoman Melissa Bean, co-chair of the House Serbian Caucus, told IBD.

She and seven other members of Congress, including Sen. Jim Inhofe of Texas and Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, pleaded in a letter with President Bush to hold the line until a mutually acceptable solution could be reached with all sides.

But on Monday, the U.S. and the European Union said it's a done deal. They extended fast recognition to Kosovo and waved off the Serbs. After all, wouldn't a new Muslim state in Europe show the Arab world that the West wanted successful Muslim democracies?

Diplomacy is all about taking risks. But the West's gamble in Kosovo is too high for the possible rewards in terms of its interests. Five reasons spring to mind:

• Kosovo has just 2 million people. Sure, some microstates, such as Singapore and Panama, make it. But more often, the story is like East Timor's, a nonviable state in turmoil since its 1999 independence. With a GDP per capita of $250, 50% unemployment and half the population under 16, the odds against Kosovo are long.

Awash in corruption and mafias, free market reforms will be tough, and many unemployed young Muslims will be looking for a purpose. "Its instability risks attracting Islamic extremists from around the world," warned ex-U.S. envoy to the U.N. John Bolton.

• Ramming independence through for Kosovo with no regard for Serbia opens the door to new secession movements. Countries such as Spain, which faces a similar situation with Basque terrorist secessionists, tellingly declined to recognize Kosovo.

Canada has reason to worry about Quebec. Russia, China and Iraq fear breakaway regions, too. Meanwhile, Macedonia and Montenegro, which have ethnic Albanian populations, now fear a precedent for parts of their territory to be pulled into a greater Albania.

• The West has lost credibility by breaking its promise to Serbia. Terrorists will take note.

• Alliances are weakened. As the U.S. and dominant nations of the EU push through Kosovo statehood, the nearby nations of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Greece and Israel oppose it. This not only splits the EU with its eastern members. It separates the U.S. from its New Europe allies — not the least of which is Serbia, a country that allied itself to the West in two world wars.

• Russia's appetite for payback is whetted. Unlike smaller nations, Russia has a global reach and engages in tit for tat.

In response to our setting up military bases in Central Asia, Russia sold advanced weapons to Venezuela. With Russia ramping up jet production and buzzing U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific, there's little doubt it'll be looking for ways to create trouble.

In short, a successful Kosovo state is speculative. But the potential for trouble in the wake of trying to create it is certain. If it isn't reversed, it could become a global Pandora's box opened to new problems. This is going to take some major diplomatic repair work.

Third Muslim in US Congress

Indiana Democrat Could Become Third Muslim in Congress
Race; Posted on: 2008-02-20 14:46:45 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]

The First 'Muslim' Leader of the West
Jim Brown

A black Democrat, seeking to win a March 11 special election in Indiana's 7th district, could become the third Muslim elected to Congress and the second currently serving in Washington.

Democrat Andre Carson is attempting to succeed his late grandmother Julia Carson, who represented inner city Indianapolis for five full terms. Carson converted to Islam more than a decade ago after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Curt Smith, president of the Indianapolis based Indiana Family Institute, is convinced Carson would closely follow in his grandmother's footsteps. "I think he would continue a pretty, what I would call, liberal outlook in terms of economic and social policies, pro-choice, [and] so forth and a very hands on, retail kind of political style," says Smith.

A concerned Smith points out that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan delivered a eulogy at Julia Carson's funeral. "Some have suggested that Mr. Carson, the candidate, should renounce Louis Farrakhan and his kind of separatist approach to public life," he continues, "and to my knowledge Mr. Carson has not done that. So it suggests to me that he is positive towards, if not beholden to, Louis Farrakhan."

The Institute spokesman says it is important to note the distinction between black Islam practiced in prisons and inner cities and Middle Eastern Islam. He says the two have a common ideology, but the difference lies in that black Islam tends to be more of a separatist movement that promotes a non-integrated, healthy, positive, and distinct African American community and experience.
A black Democrat, seeking to win a March 11 special election in Indiana's 7th district, could become the third Muslim elected to Congress and the second currently serving in Washington.

Democrat Andre Carson is attempting to succeed his late grandmother Julia Carson, who represented inner-city Indianapolis for five full terms. Carson converted to Islam more than a decade ago after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Curt Smith, president of the Indianapolis-based Indiana Family Institute, is convinced Carson would closely follow in his grandmother's footsteps. "I think he would continue a pretty, what I would call, liberal outlook in terms of economic and social policies, pro-choice, [and] so forth and a very hand-on, retail-kind of political style," says Smith.

A concerned Smith points out that anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan delivered a eulogy at Julia Carson's funeral. "Some have suggested that Mr. Carson, the candidate, should renounce Louis Farrakhan and his kind of separatist approach to public life," he continues, "and to my knowledge Mr. Carson has not done that. So it suggests to me that he is positive towards, if not beholden to, Louis Farrakhan."

The Institute spokesman says it is important to note the distinction between black Islam practiced in prisons and inner cities and Middle Eastern Islam. He says the two have a common ideology, but the difference lies in that black Islam tends to be more of a separatist movement that promotes a non-integrated, healthy, positive, and distinct African-American community and experience. "That might be more reassuring for someone with concerns; in other ways it might be less reassuring," Smith offers.

According to Smith, during the eulogy, Farrakhan endorsed Andre Carson and urged the community to send him to Congress. He says Carson has a great shot at winning the strongly Democratic 7th district in the March special election, but a number of Democrats have already lined up to challenge him in the May primary.


From: Haleem1
Date: Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:32 am
Subject: Fwd: Invite to community event - Atlanta Islamic Community
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2008 07:16:03 -0500

Salaamu Alaikum,

This is an invitation to the entire Atlanta Islamic community to attend the following events:

Friday, April 4, 8 pm Lecture guest speaker Sr. Laleh Bakhitar translator of the Sublime Quran. Masjid Al Mu minun, 1127 Hank Aaron Dr. SW. Requested donation $10 per person. Limited vending available (must pay in advance). The contact for this event is Sr. Hadayai Majeed. You can reach her at 678-705-1241 or 404-684-0016. You can send your donations in advance by mail to: Baitul Salaam Network, Inc., PO Box 11041, Atlanta, GA 30310 or use paypal.com (haleem1@aol.com). If you vend you must pay in advance very few spaces available for this event.

Saturday, April 5, 12 noon to 4 pm discussion topic: Let's Talk: Unity and Coalition Building. Discussion leaders (Sr. Bonita McGee, VA, Dr. Kaukab Siddique, PA and Sr. Hadayai Majeed, GA) will ask questions to stimulate full participation from attendees. Bring a pad, pen and a very open mind. Open to men and young people.

A donation of $10 is requested to defray some of the expenses for both events. Please send the donation in advance to the address listed above.

Since the lecture on Friday is held at a masjid no one will be turned away due to not bring a donation. Copies of the Sublime Quran will be available for purchase for $27.00 each.

Rooms are available at a discount rate at a newly opened motel about three miles away from both venues. If you need a room you just email for details. You will be responsible for placing your reservation and payment to the motel.

To save money we are not doing a hard copy flyer or posters.

This event is open to all in the community. Please send this to all you know.

ma salaam
Supporters of the Baitul Salaam Network, Inc.

Obama - Indonesian point

Misconceptions about presidential candidate Obama


Bara Hasibuan, Jakarta

The exhilaration over Barack Obama's recent surge to claim the front-runner status in the Democratic Party nomination process is not just felt in the United States but also here in Indonesia.

Never before has there ever been a candidate in the history of the U.S. presidential elections with such strong historical ties to this country.

Many here are hopeful that an Obama presidency would usher in a new era in the U.S.-Indonesia bilateral relations. But would it?

First of all the notion that just because a candidate lived in a foreign country for a few years during childhood might somehow mean she or he would focus extra attention to that particular country if elected president is somewhat fanciful. Foreign policy is not driven by romanticism but by priorities and strategic interests.

It is not clear at this point how strategic Indonesia is for Obama -- or for any other candidate for that matter -- as the country has never been brought up throughout the campaign, whether in debates or stump speeches.

In the most comprehensive foreign policy speech Obama made last year in Chicago, Indonesia was hardly mentioned. Obama's foreign policy plan, as laid out on his campaign website, only calls for "new partnerships in Asia", without specifically identifying which countries in Asia with which he would seek new partnerships.

The only serious reference Obama has ever made to Indonesia has been in the context of his childhood living in a country with a Muslim majority which would make him the best candidate in dealing with one of the most pressing challenges the next President would face: repairing the U.S. image in the Muslim world.

But as he was once unduly attacked by a smear campaign charging that he had attended a Madrasah while living in Indonesia, Obama has been forced not to overtly stress his historical ties to the country.

And if we look at Obama's record in the U.S. Senate, it is equally hard to assess how he views Indonesia. Obama does in fact sit on the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs but he has never shown notable interest on Indonesian issues.

Yes true on Capitol Hill when it comes to priorities related to Asia, Indonesia is of less importance compared to China, Afghanistan, Japan, India and North Korea.

But there are a handful of senators and congressmen known to take up Indonesian issues from time to time, whether in a critical or a supportive way.

Just to name a few: Senators Patrick Leahy, Kit Bond, Russ Feingold and Congressmen Robert Wexler and Eni Faleomavaega.

It is not clear why Obama has never used his assignment on the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs to take up Indonesian issues.

One would think with such strong historical ties Obama would position himself as an ally of Indonesia.

It is conceivable that early on in his Senate career he had made a strategic decision not to get associated with Indonesia as he was already thinking ahead of a possible presidential bid. Or perhaps for Obama Indonesia simply has a less strategic value compared to other foreign policy priorities.

Indeed, whoever ends up in the White House in January 2009 foreign policy priorities for the U.S. will not change dramatically.

The new president will still have to deal with the mess in Iraq, how to get the Israelis and the Palestinians to agree to a workable peaceful solution, uncertainty about Iran's nuclear programs, the rise of Russia as an economic and military power and energy security.

For Asia the priorities will still be dominated by the rise of China, the North Korea nuclear programs, the uncertainty in Pakistan, the mess in Afghanistan and India's economic rise.

And whoever is elected President, he or she will continue to maintain strong ties with U.S. traditional allies in Asia Pacific: Japan, South Korea and Australia.

Another factor that needs to be put into the equation is Congress -- a body that has a lot of influence in shaping U.S. foreign policy through the power of the purse.

The Democrats are expected to continue to control Congress after the 2008 elections. That means issues like human rights, the role of the military and labor that have often times been contentious in the U.S.-Indonesia bilateral relations may not go away.

True one of the main attractions to Obama is that as President he would have the ability to mobilize support from Congress, including from those who are across the aisle.

But it remains unclear whether Obama would have the ability or the power to sway members of his own party on issues that are traditionally close to their hearts.

And we also need to bear in mind that despite all the talk about bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle Obama is ideologically liberal.

He in fact was voted the most liberal senator in 2007 by the publication, National Journal. This may make it instinctively hard for him to disregard issues like human rights and labor.

Nevertheless, the prospect of an Obama presidency is thrilling. There is no doubt of all the candidates who remain in the race, he is the best one to restore the U.S. global image.

His assets are obvious: The face and the background. And these assets would be the most powerful weapons to meet one of the biggest challenges for the next administration: How to win the hearts and minds of those who have been alienated by the Bush Administration.

The writer was an American Political Science Association (APSA) congressional fellow 2002-2003.

Kosovo - Problems for US

Kosovo Independence Equals Problems for U.S.


While driving today, I have listened to every news media today. Our Embassy was torched in Kosovo today by the radicals, not one media said the name of the faith of the people who did the wrong, and indeed, that is truly the right thing to do. (http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/05/laser-barking-at-terrorists.html )

If those radicals were Muslims, imagine the feasting that would have gone on by the vultures like O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, and Savage. This is the ultimate in evilness of our media. Shame on them. I hope the people of conscience open a blog of their own, each individual and put this out as many times as they can. Media is blatantly evil. I hope each one of you can call on their talk show tomorrow, and encourage them to do the right thing for every incident, bad guys are bad guys, do not stamp them with a religion.

http://www.newsmax.com/alden/kosovo/2008/02/21/74508.html Thursday, February 21, 2008 3:27 PM

By: Diane Alden Article Font Size

The current disaster in Serbia, including the attack on the U.S. embassy in Belgrade was predictable. That is, if you know the history of the region, our involvement under Bill Clinton and now George W. Bush, and the U.S. State Department’s craziness about how to create "democracy" and markets in the 21st century.

The Gerard Intelligence Report indicated Monday that Serbia was about to blowup in our faces. You didn’t hear a word about it in the mainstream media. It was barely mentioned as Bush stood signing the paper that gave our stamp of approval to Kosovo "independence."

The rush to do this may have a lot to do with resource issues as much as encouraging democracy to take root — which hasn’t been happening under Clinton or Bush.

Gerard Report advises its clients:

Muslims who represent 90 percent of Kosovo's two million people, have stated their claim on the new state. According to our source, a systematic ethnic cleansing of Kosovo's remaining Christian inhabitants has been going on for several years and will now likely escalate.

Since we have been supporting democracy in Kosovo, and have ignored the strong Albanian Islamic influence in political affairs there, we have opened the gates to a new Islamic state, complete with terrorist training camps on the ground and a global network through which to funnel their graduates.

This begins a trail that leads to (but does not end in) New York City, where the Albanian Mafia has taken over much of the drug and organized crime trade. The combination of the legitimization of their terrorist activities in Kosovo, their links to the U.S., and the fall of Serbia (partly self-inflicted) may spell a new era of unrest and confusion that will mean danger for U.S. interests everywhere.

The breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the late '80s and '90s took place partially because the only thing holding it together was dictator Tito and Russian troops. Part of the reason for the breakup was economic. Insane actions of U.S. and international monetary experts as well as financial gurus at the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization facilitated the collapse of the former Yugoslavia into tiny sectors of ethnic and religious bickering and hatreds that are now causing U.S. problems.

Following World War II, industrial development took place in northern Yugoslavia, while the southern half of country produced raw materials. As the price of raw materials fell, serious economic inequalities between the various states grew. This in turn led to discontent and a desire for independence in the industrial north.

The International Monetary Fund then took over economic policy, implementing a number of all too familiar shock therapies; devaluation, a wage freeze, and price decontrol, designed on the Harvard/MIT economic textbook principles meant to drive the wage rate down to a level where it would be internationally economically competitive."

But the interference of the IMF caused revenues to the central government to shrink and that in turn forced the IMF to insist on raising taxes in Yugoslavia in order to balance the budget.

As the Cold War was ending in the late '80s, the Federal Republic began to splinter. At the same time, servicing the national debt became hopeless.

As a result, the attempt to comply with IMF demands made a shaky economic situation even worse.

Between 1979 and 1985 a quarter of the national income was taken up with debt service. As a result, the economy began to implode and ethnic conflicts erupted. Thus, the current conflict in the Balkans may be partly explained by economic factors as much as by ethnic hatreds and rivalries.

All this should be some indication our experts do not know what they are doing. Neither do our political leaders, it appears, in the modern world of splintering into religious, tribal, and ethnic groupings.

In the '90s, the breakup of the various ethnic and religious provinces accelerated when Europeans, the international press, and State Department whiz kids saw ethnic cleansing only on one side blaming Christian Serbs and ignoring atrocities by the other side. Some believe interference by the Clinton administration was just an attempt to get his troubles off the front page. That intervention for whatever reason had unintended consequences and now America is seeing some of the blowback.

During Bill Clinton's era of screwing things up in the Balkans, his end runaround congress on the conduct of that war is something I vividly remember. The Clinton administration had a contract with U.S. mercenaries to go to Bosnia. At an estimated $50 million the objective was to integrate and build up the Bosnia army of Muslims and Croats against the Serbs. The U.S. State Department’s incompetence and flaky policies in the region gave the go ahead for religious cleansing of Christian Serbs to accommodate Muslims in the former Yugoslavia.

Along with the DoD under Richard Cohen and the U.S. State Department, our leaders hired a firm of American mercenaries allowing the Muslim Croats to create a national army which successfully ejected 150,000 Croatian Serb civilians from the country. This success brought lucrative financial contracts from Islamic countries elsewhere. It was with the help of certain Islamic states that funding for participation by the American firm was concluded.

George W. Bush signing the acknowledgement that Kosovo was an independent nation is one more finger in the eye of the Orthodox people of Central Europe.

It fails miserably to recognize the extent of Islamic Wahabbi Saudi funded mosques in the region and what that portends for the rest of Europe. Recognition of Kosovo independence will do nothing to promote democracy in that part of the world.

More likely it will mean more problems for the United States and Europe in the region. We now have another nation in the heart of Central Europe that is a home to drug cartels, mafia, and frankly, many potential Muslim terrorists.

Recognition of Kosovo’s independence also drives another stake into what is left of our shaky relationship with Russia. Our policies since the end of the Cold War towards that nation may just doom us to relive another Cold War of sorts. Isn’t it odd that former atheistic Soviet Union is supporting a Christian society of Orthodox believers while the last two American administrations enable a growing arc of Islamic power and Arab militarism to form in the suburbs of Europe.

Prophetic Voice of Hope

A Prophetic Voice of Hope
Daisy Khan - Washington Post

Barack Obama continues to elicit responses of profound passion and enthusiasm from many Americans. He evokes hope and inspires people to act. In this sense, whether or not we agree with his particular policies is irrelevant, because surely we must recognize that his person and candidacy represent much larger phenomenon in American society.

Millions of Americans who have heard Obama speak – in person or on their TV screens – feel a visceral connection with something greater: CHANGE and the hope for a government that can restore the luster of the American Dream.

While only time will tell, Obama seems to truly represent a prophetic voice, perhaps in the vein of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., or John F. Kennedy. Historically, all religious prophets transformed the status quo just at the moment when that status quo no longer represented a healthy or just society. Moses brought the Israelites out of the depths of slavery and misery in Egypt. Jesus awakened an occupied society to radical understandings of love and mercy. Muhammad turned an unjust and religiously negligent Arabian society on its head by setting forth rules for human welfare. Furthermore, each of these prophets inspired hope and aroused people to take action to realize desperately-needed change.

Of course, I’m not saying Barack Obama is a prophet! But he does represent a prophetic voice – uniting people across religion, gender, ethnicity, age, even ideology – calling us back to the American “religion” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for ALL Americans.

More Posts About: Muslim


Mark your Calendar - Sunday, March 2, 2008 4:00 to 6: 30 PM
Yes you can rally for Barak Obama in Carrollton,
Announcement details in a day.

Mike Ghouse

Muslims - Obama problem

The American Muslim Community's "Obama" Problem :How do you root for a candidate who doesn't want you to root for him?


As Obamamania continues to capture the imagination of the United States, parts of the American Muslim community are no less overcome by the Illinois senator's charismatic and overpowering vision for change. It makes sense. He is a man of diverse ethnic background who seeks dialogue over war, who can credibly represent change given his independence from establishment politics and whose life story suggests an intimate understanding of the Muslim world. In many ways he represents more than Muslims could have hoped for given the radioactive nature of Islam in America over the past several years. Someone who seemingly has a sympathetic ear and background that could build bridges.

But for many reasons, Muslims are one constituency Obama does not want to court. With a wink and a nod, Obama's Muslim supporters continue to work for a candidate who cannot afford to wink back at them. Given his perceived "closeness" to Islam, and the fact that he shares a name with a former Iraqi dictator, it could be strategic suicide for the Obama campaign to vocally acknowledge organized Muslim support. At a time when endorsements are worn like badges of honor, no major candidate is looking for the Muslim vote..

No doubt if Obama wins the nomination, the Republicans will exploit this issue far more than Bill Clinton attempted to manipulate race in South Carolina. Republican presidential candidate John McCain will never have to say a word, the "hit job" will be manufactured and executed by the sympathetic folks at Fox News, via the airwaves with Rush and Hannity (who would have overcome their issues with McCain by then) and through tabloids like the New York Post. Vocal Muslim support for Obama, if it happens, will likely be used as subtext for character attacks against his background and to fuel baseless rumors that he is actually a stealth Islamist who will subvert the establishment after taking power. As Don Imus can attest, racism and bigotry against African Americans is now largely unacceptable in public discourse. However, the same cannot be said of vitriol against Muslims. Attacking Obama for his pseudo-association with Islam is a far safer and more acceptable strategy for right-wing zealots than attacking him for being black. So if Obama has a campaign strategist worth his or her weight, we will never hear any serious public support or defense of Muslims from him or his campaign. For Muslims to demand anything from him simply demonstrates a misunderstanding of reality. Muslim support for Obama is akin to George Bush's support for democracy in the Middle East. The mere association with the former will undercut the credibility of the latter. It is an analogy that Muslims should understand.

Obama's lack of public defense of Islam is not so much an indictment against him as it is a demonstration of the infantile state of Muslim political participation in America. While it is impossible to tell, it would be reasonable to assume that if Obama could say something nice about Muslims he would because he wants votes from any and all Americans. Muslims fit squarely into the demographic that he appeals to most. Professional, educated and young. The only reason a candidate like Obama would not say something nice about Muslims is because he is making a clear political calculation. The votes he would gain from Muslims are far less than the votes he would lose from his association with Muslims. This should be startling. Unfortunately it has not initiated the kind of discussion within the community necessary to change these political ramifications for candidates in the future. To be fair, other candidates have lost votes based on their religious affiliation. Romney, a practicing Mormon, could have had a much better shot as the Republican nominee if he were from a Protestant denomination. But in terms of public perception, Muslims are a whole other category of disrepute. We are not talking about a Muslim candidate, we are talking about supporting a candidate who denies any connection, real or perceived, to Islam.

This is a political reality that Muslims in America must face. It is a clear demonstration that the collective efforts of Muslim institution building over the last 20 years have largely failed to make any real progress when it comes to impacting the American political process, at least at the national level. Muslims have found the perfect candidate, but cannot vocally support him for fear that if they do, they may be the reason he loses. How is that for a wake-up call.

At the core of the problem is the public perception of Islam in America. While global events, and of course 9/11, play an undeniable role in shaping the image of Islam for Americans, Muslims have ignored establishing some of the most basic institutions that are necessary for any minority community who seeks to have their voice taken seriously. There are no widely circulated national publications that explain Muslim perspectives. There is no widely recognized think tank expressing Muslim understandings of policy debates. There are a scant few public intellectuals from Muslim backgrounds that articulate mainstream views or who represent general Muslim thinking. While there are a number of very talented Muslim academics, very few have been able to cross-over and achieve mainstream credibility. Every other minority community has multiple inventories in each category listed above. What Muslims have are a number of smaller efforts that lack support, lack funding and lack human resources. If Muslims have failed in all these arenas it is not for a lack of talent, but rather for a lack of collective vision.

Instead, Muslim have invested in a handful of advocacy groups that, to their credit, work extremely hard to bring a "Muslim" slant to whatever breaks in the news that day. Advocacy groups play an important part of any community, but they are not sufficient for any community to make a serious play for political clout. In fact, the degree to which Muslims are publicly represented by their advocacy is inversely related to how they will be positively perceived by the general public. Advocacy groups are inherently divisive. The African-American civil rights watchdog NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups all play important roles in American democracy, but they are also polarizing organizations. Muslims need to take the edge off the way they present themselves in the broader public discussion. While this includes important and pioneering efforts like Unity productions, which has produced excellent work in the area of documentary film, much more is needed on a number of different fronts.

Policy and political decision making in America is not decided entirely on Capitol Hill. It is decided in the complex interaction of think tanks, academic institutions, book stands, radio shows, the evening news, newspapers, editorial pages, opinion polls, Hollywood blockbusters and much more. It is the confluence and interaction of all these institutions that inform how politicians behave, not the other way around. Politicians are simply seeking votes, and votes are determined by people's inclinations, perceptions, prejudices and perspectives. If you want to win politicians, you have to build constituencies by changing the way people think.

If Muslims do not want to suffer the indignation of political irrelevance for many elections to come, instead of giving money to politicians, they should start investing in journalism scholarships. They should establish fellowships for Muslim academics to take a year off and write a book for a general audience, and then back them up with a PR firm to get the book on a best seller list. They should invest in publications that demonstrate a breadth and depth of thinking on a range of issues. They should invest in think tanks that analyze public issues and present actual value to the overall public discussion. All of these institutions exist right now for Muslims in America. But for the most part they are underfunded, underappreciated and undervalued. Because the community in general has not rallied behind them, they are for the most part invisible. Because they are invisible, Muslims are effectively invisible when it comes to Obama or any other serious candidate.

Another real tragedy here is that the part of the Muslim community that has made significant headway in all these areas, the Blackamerican community, remains effectively marginalized from leadership roles in the larger Muslim establishment in America. Blackamerican Muslims have been civicaly, politically and socially engaged in America for centuries. The rest of the Muslim community discovered these words a few years after 9/11. If all Muslims did was change the public perception of Islam in America to identify more with Blackamerican Islam than Arab or Pakistani Islam, the community would move forward in leaps and bounds. It is no accident that the first Muslim congressman is black. Until the Muslim leadership in America begins to recognize and reflect this historical reality, progress on a number of fronts will be slow. The Middle East and the subcontinent will remain powder kegs for decades to come.

Muslims largely misunderstand the process by which minority communities in America achieve their proverbial "seat at the table." It is not achieved through campaign donations and political posturing. It is achieved through understanding and executing on a collective vision that nurtures real, active, social, economic and political participation that improves both one's own community and the broader community that surrounds it. It is achieved through understanding that public perception is not entirely devised by a select few, but rather it is earned through hard work and sacrifice. It is achieved when a community actually adds some value to the society from which it benefits.

There is little strategic understanding of how to develop political capital within the Muslim community in America. If there was, Obama would not have to rebuke his Muslim supporters. The proof is in the pudding. Either Muslims deal with it, or do as they have done for the last 25 years: blame the media.


FIRAS AHMAD is deputy editor of Islamica Magazine..