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Archive for the ‘Mosque’ Category

MalalaMalala is right about women’s education. This little girl eloquently says what we all should agree on- that girls need to be educated. She’s even been attacked for saying something that has such strong roots within Islam.

Had it not been that Aisha (RA) was a scholar or that Fatima (RA) was a scholar, we would not have known explanations of many verses in the Qur’an.

Malala deserves to be lauded within our community.

Why the West is so excited about her struggle and her suffering, is an entirely different matter.

The suffering of Malala will be used again and again to kill her fellow citizens and fellow Muslims- her brothers and sisters. Her story will be told every time a bomb is dropped from drones, and more hearts stop beating.

Drone attacks that played a part in creating the TTP.

In every newspaper, every TV channel, whenever Malala comes up, pundits shake their heads at the brutality of the TTP- an organization that their government planted the seeds of in the 80’s.

A very close parallel is the brave Malalai Joya, who’s been touted before as the voice of Afghan women when she condemned the Taliban. As soon as she started demanding West withdraw from her country, Western media started ignoring her.

Malala Yusufzai can make sure she will be heard, loud and clear, if she goes up to that podium and says no thank you.

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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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GDP of a country gives some idea about how well it is doing in terms of production. In the last two centuries, Western economies overwhelmed others by far.

In the 1950s, US and Europe combined made up 60% of world economy. That’s not counting Canada, Mexico and Australia.

If we look at the fractional share of US+major European countries over the last four decades:

GDP of the US and Europe as fraction of world GDP

We see that their share has been falling over the years. From 62% in the early ’70s, to about 47% now.

So who’s gaining?

There’s a lot of talk about the so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries. These countries are supposedly rising stars in the world economy- and have seen unprecedented economic rise. Let’s see if that’s true.

Here is BRIC’s share of world economy over the years:

Fraction of world GDP controlled by the BRIC countries

So it did indeed go up from about 8% of world economy to about 16% now. Impressive.

However, it’s not the whole picture. Let’s examine each of the countries separately. First, Brazil-

Brazil’s GDP divided by the GDP of the world

Brazil has seen a steady rise in the last decade in it’s share of world economy. It now commands about 2.7% of world economy, not very unlike it’s share in 1996 (2.9%), 1982 (2.7%), and 1976 (2.6%). So its position now is by no means “unprecedented.”

Next, Russia:

Russia’s share of world GDP

Russia saw a steady decline in it’s share of world economy through the ’90s. It has recovered it’s strength of the early ’90s now. It had 2.5% of world economy in 1990, now it has about 2.7% too.

What about India?

Indian economy as a Fraction of world GDP

We can see that India has seen a steady rise in it’s share of world economy from the ’90s from about 1% to 2.2% now. But it’s nowhere near it’s best days in the early ’60s share of 3.5%. (Note that we fought two major wars right around that time- with China and Pakistan, and focus shifted from development to armament.)

So, as you’ve guessed, among the BRIC countries only one that has seen real unprecedented rise is China. Here is how it’s share of world economy have changed over the years from a mere 2% to about 7% over the last two decades. It is interesting to note that it had a share of world economy similar to India in the ’60s. Now China’s economy is four times that of India’s.

China’s GDP/world GDP.

But that’s not all. Here is the total share of the major Muslim economies in the world (Turkey + Indonesia + Malaysia + Saudi Arabia + UAE + Qatar + Pakistan + Bangladesh + Libya + Algeria + Kazakhstan).

Fractional share of Muslim economies in the world (total gdp of Muslim countries/world gdp)

That goes up from a baseline of approximately 2.7% in the ’90s to 5% (and rising) now.

This list includes Kazakhstan (became free only in 1991) and Bangladesh (created in 1971). Excluding Kazakhstan, and Bangladesh we see the following:

Fractional share of Muslim economies in the world (Excl. Kazakhstan and Bangladesh)

Therefore, Muslim economies have yet to reach the share they had in the ’80s, in spite of their rise in the last decade. I can only hope and pray that their growth will not be stifled this time. Ameen.

It would be good to know the causes and be able to make some predictions.

Data is from Wolfram Alpha.

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There are three factors driving crude prices higher.

1. NATO led War against Libya means a major supplier is unable to supply any oil.

2. Nuclear crisis in Japan makes people nervous about future of nuclear energy- especially in earthquake prone regions.

But that’s not all.

3. Production of oil in the US are low. The stockpile (reserve) is at their 25 year low. Keeping in mind US is the biggest oil importer by far, it is natural that oil prices will go up.

Oil is keeping around 120. Hopefully it’ll stay there for some time (a month or so) before starting to climb again. That’s because if it sees a spike, it’ll fall back to 120 if the baseline is established there, and not to 90.

We in the “third world” buy locally grown food, travel in public transport, save on electricity- and that makes our economies much more fuel efficient and robust against rise in oil prices. Only high prices of oil will force the “developed” countries to change their habits and become civilized. Otherwise they’ll blame us when their CO2 causes Bangladesh to sink under the sea.

Secondly, a high price of oil will cause the West’s hegemony to lose grip, iA.

I feel the pinch too, but we should be able to rise above saving a hundred (rupees) or two if that causes the poor to sink under the sea.

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The West is too used to getting oil for cheap (sometimes at a gunpoint.) The true price of oil is not reflected in the price an average user pays at a petrol pump. At around $3/gallon (less than $1/liter), oil is cheaper than coke in the US. No doubt US is intoxicated with oil.

The price is paid by people in oil producing countries. From the Iranians to Egyptians to Venezuelans to Ecuadorians.

The pressure for cheap oil has global implications too. The economy in the US is so transport dependent, that four/five major food producers provide meat for the entire country. Food at any store has on average traveled more than 500 miles. To grow 1 calorie worth of food, US spends more than 10 calories in burnt oil. There is no public transport to speak of. All that add up to make close to one fifth of world’s carbon emissions. Yes- the US alone produces about 20% of world’s carbon emissions. (China  22%/1.4billion, US 19%/.3billion, EU 14%/0.5billion.)

That can not be true forever. It has to change.

I am happy that oil prices are rising because of the ongoing revolutions.

Our economies are far more energy efficient. Food typically comes from the neighboring regions, unless there is a justification for brining them from afar. Eastern economies are much more robust with regards to high oil prices. Europeans are comparatively well off too.

Let us welcome the new era of expensive oil. I hope and wish to see $150/barrel by the year end, and $200-300/barrel in three years (adjusted for inflation.)

Let me also take the opportunity to express my best wishes for my struggling brothers and sisters.

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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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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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