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AlJazeera’s coverage of the events have been arguably one of the best. However.

Has anybody else noticed that AlJazeera English stopped inviting As’ad Abu Khalil to comment on their programs after he criticized them about their Libya reports?

That’s notable because the ‘Arab Spring’ has been the focus of AJE’s reporting for the last three months.

And As’ad is right. AJE seems to rally with a certain agenda.

For example, it seems to sell the youth movements over other strands. In Egypt, when the referendum was up for votes, although it was clear most people there liked the referendum, AJE framed it in a way that put focus on the youth groups who were opposed to a yes vote (because they wanted a more drastic change in the constitution.)

The over-emphasis on social networking was annoying, because internet penetration in Tunisia (~30%) is quite low. Even less in Egypt (~20%). Why was the emphasis on English speaking affluent Facebook users, while somewhat downplaying  labour movements etc?

Similarly, AlJazeera seems to completely ignore support base that Gaddafi has in and out of Libya. They never reported on the laudable social programs that Gaddafi implemented- for example free education and free healthcare(1). Libya has a low GINI index (~36) which means less income inequality than most countries. AlJazeera never cared to report.

They also seemed to cheer the Western powers into invading Libya, whereas if they reported on the misgivings people have about another Western invasion, perhaps UN would mandate the neighboring Arab/Muslim countries to take action(2).

Even worse, AlJazeera barely mentioned the attacks on blacks in Libya by racist mobs and the lynchings that took place. Similarly, the attacks by some Bahrainis on South Asians got no attention at all.

They cold shouldered African Union when they expressed concern about the Western involvement, and also when offered to intervene to reach a deal.

I am not even sure that the ‘rebels’ in Libya are genuine about change. Despite all their bravado when facing the camera, they fled their posts when facing guns. That’s not the trademark of a desperate population, that’s the behaviour of rich who want others to fight for them. The situation only improved after Egyptian, British and some other special forces were seen on the ground.

And what was the “where are you Sarkozy” call (from some ‘rebels’) about? I have serious misgivings about who these Libyan ‘rebels’ are.

I think these issues can be understood when we recognize that AlJazeera is really a pan-Arab news channel that has a deep admiration for the West. That’s not unhealthy, but it’s important to keep in mind.

Notes:

1. The way Gaddafi treated criticism can not and should not be defended, but that is the only thing that gets covered.

2. When there was reports of the crackdown in Libya, I was hoping for some kind of intervention from it’s neighbors. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey, even. It was naive to assume that the Western powers will let that happen. They like to ‘seize the initiative’, i.e. they want to be there and directing events wherever and whenever they can on whatever excuse they can find.

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Image from aljazeera.net

Garment workers are staging mass demonstrations and strikes in Bangladesh. A major part of Bangladesh’s foreign currency reserve comes from the contracts the country gets from foreign garment companies. The workers are demanding that their minimum salaries be increased from about 45 USD a month to 70 USD a month. (Factories are not honouring even the existing minimum wage.)

There are some concerns about viability of that demand. The argument goes as follows: if the salaries are increased to 70USD/month, then the businesses won’t be profitable anymore.

That’s entirely untrue. Paying 70USD to a worker in a month is not going to make the businesses unprofitable. What the businesses are worried about is that their profits will decrease.

One must remember that income disparity in Bangladesh is extreme. There are the very rich who send their children abroad to study, buy foreign cars and smoke foreign cigarettes. Most Bangladeshis don’t have money to buy enough food.

Because there is so little infrastructure and heavy (or otherwise) industry in Bangladesh, the rich don’t spend in their own country. When they spend, they help foreign economies and foreign companies.

If minimum salary is increased then the poor will have more money at hand, and they will spend them on basic necessities- causing that money to flow in the local economy. Helping local businesses/producers and manufacturers. Evantually the quality of life of the middle class will also rise because of the general increase of income.

So I’m all for the increase.

At another level, however, a more urgent problem is Bangladesh’s tax structure and the tax collection system. If the wealthy pays their fair share of taxes, then that money goes to the government and is spent locally. Good thing is (Alhamdulillah), the government is solvent at the moment and not dependent on foreign aid.

Wa’Allahu ‘Alim.

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This is likely a conspiracy theory that has no basis whatsoever.

Wikileaks is merely the messenger. They are publishing internal memos and reports etc of the US army, and of course that will be written in the US perspective. Much of these are first information reports- not all of them are factual. (For example the people killed with the Reuters photographer were logged as “insurgents.”)  We should not take these documents at face value, and certainly not conclude that WLks is trying to push US interests.

Here is why: these documents provide legal basis for the US to be sued at International Criminal Court for specific instances, including it’s personnel. Two, they portray a horrid picture even from the US’s own perspective. They will never want that out. I mean 60% of the people they killed could not be passed off as insurgents. Do you really think they will want this stuff out? Are they mad?

Don’t shoot the messenger.

I seriously think Julian should get the Peace prize. Now that will be a real bold move by the Nobel committee. Let’s see if they have the courage. It’s easy to grant Chinese dissidents Nobel. It’s another thing to recognize western dissidents.

I am also wondering how the internal documents of Indian army in Kashmir, Pakistani Army in NWFP, and Israeli army in Palestine will reveal, if they were ever to come out. Who knows?

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We have waited for 18 years for a verdict. I don’t remember the day the Mosque was brought down. But my mother tells me the whole town spent the night on their rooftops- looking for early warning of trouble. It was tense time in an otherwise idyllic little town.

A judgment is now around the corner. And I presume (and I hope) it will conclude that the Mosque was, well, a Mosque.

The lingering question is what do we do with the land afterwards? Provided we win the case.

Let us consider the facts. VHP has convinced a large number of poor, Hindu villagers that that was where Ram was born. They sincerely believe in that story, because that story gives them purpose, and something to hang on to in their misery.

We certainly have a right to rebuild the Masjid there. However, it will only strengthen the VHP.

Poor low caste Hindus are justifiably angry at their misery, and the VHP is looking for opportunity to turn their anger against other poor, marginalized communities in India.

Rebuilding the Masjid will only strengthen their (VHP’s) ranks.

Then, who will use that Masjid? The surrounding lands have been bought by VHP’s temple trust (or whatever it is called), and the city is bustling with their cadres. A Masjid there will be an easy target- the desecration of a Masjid may escalate. (they will love that.) It is almost certain that a)  the masjid will be desecrated, b) it will help the VHP. In this scenario, I dare say it may not even be permissible to build a Mosque at the location.

I am, therefore, in favour of building something else in that location. What about building a Hospital there?

Just imagine bearded doctors treating Hindus and Muslims in “Shifa Hospital.”

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Israel has been a strategic asset for the US since the late sixties when the Arab countries turned to USSR for friendship, and has benefited greatly from the relationship. US relied heavily on Israel to counter Syrian and Egyptian governments in the region, and provided Israel with aid,  intelligence, expertise, equipment and political support. The cold war is over, and what Israel is worried that US may not care about it as much.

The Israelis came in with a belligerent attitude onto the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, killing nine people from close range. Incidents that was certain to cause uproar in Turkey, and sour Turkish-Israeli relationship. This appears to be a deliberate goal of the campaign.

But Israel had a friend in Turkey in the region, even until 2008.

Which begs the question: why? Why alienate their only ally in the region?

It appears that now they see Turkey as a regional challenge. Turkey has been a staunch ally of the US for longer than 60 years,  recently has risen economically, and now the size of Turkish economy is three times that of Israel. They used to be comparable not so long ago.

Israel is afraid to have a country that is an ally of the US in it’s neighborhood that is much more important politically and economically than itself. It fears that Israel will become insignificant to the US (compared to Turkey) in the region. It therefore wants to sabotage the relationship between the US and Turkey by forcing US to choose between the two- so as to remain the only ally US has in the region. They want US to depend on Israel in that region and only on Israel. It will open US to blackmail.

Which is very clever, if not found out.

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There is no doubt the environmental impact of Deep Horizon spill is great. I wonder how many of God’s creatures will suffer for this spillage of our greed. I wonder how many lives will be destroyed because of this.

What is being talked about a lot is the response of the US govt with respect to the spill. First of all, it’s being called a BP spill, whereas three companies were involved in the project including Halliburton (Dick Cheney’s company). Actually it was Halliburton which was in charge of sealing the rig where the actual problem started.

I strongly believe that the singling out of BP for this disaster is a continuation of US’s hypocritically different treatment of foreign (BP, Toyota) and domestic (Dow, Goldman Sachs) companies. It comes from a protectionist standpoint to attack any vulnerable foreign company so that US companies can grow over the grave of these.

It is USA, however, that led the charge against protectionism in the rest of the world when it had the capital to invest in those markets and demolish local competition. Now that the world is fighting back…

Please don’t get me wrong here. I shed no tears for BP. I know how they and other oil giants destroy lives and livelihoods without the least concern.

However, I can’t but laugh at the US’s righteous rage.

Note that the government refuses to take charge of the cleanup. It knows that the task is nearly impossible, and wants to have BP to blame for the failure.

In two more months, the relief well should be done, and inshaAllah the situation will improve.

By the way, protectionism is not going to save US economy in the long term because of some systemic faults. The crisis in Europe is going to go back to the US in two years time, while Asian economies will continue to grow.

This is crucial time for Muslims. There will be a power vacuum. Question is who fill it? Russia unlikely. Either China, India, or a united Muslims.

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Sad Week

ASAK,

It has been a sad week for me. The massacre of peace activists by Israel, the massacre at the Ahmadiya mosque in Pakistan, and the ongoing strifes in tribal India.

Israel is committing double the crimes by passing the blame on the victims. They forget that Allah is with the oppressed. They forget in their arrogance of false sense of power.

The attitude of many Muslims towards Ahmadiyas and others is also a source of pain and anger for me. It saddens me to think that it’s never going to go away.

So is the trouble in India. The majority, urban population do not seem to consider the tribals to be human beings.

And it’s not a new thing. It has always been like this. It always will be.

Audubillah.

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