Buddhist monk Wirathu in Yangon, Burma. The 46-year-old has been blamed for inspiring sectarian violence
Radical buddhist nationalism is sweeping Burma, and at the forefront of the movement is a group more commonly associated with peace and tolerance: monks.
The most prominent among them is the controversial cleric U Wirathu, who gives passionate sermons from his Mandalay base calling on Buddhists to stand up against the “Muslim threat”.
“I believe Islam is a threat not just to Buddhism, but to the [Burmese] people and the country,” says the monk, whose boyish face and toothy grin belie the name his critics have given him: “the Buddhist bin Laden”.
The 46-year-old has been blamed for inspiring sectarian violence, which began in the long-volatile western state of Rakhine bordering Burma’s mostly Muslim neighbour, Bangladesh, but has spread to areas unused to such tension.
Hundreds of Muslims have been killed, mosques burned and many thousands driven from their homes.
Burma’s president, Thein Sein, will face demands to rein in anti-Muslim violence when he arrives on an official visit to Britain on Sunday. He has been invited by David Cameron to reward the gradual moves towards restoring democracy to Burma that began with the release from house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader, in 2011.
The former general, once a part of the military junta that ruled Burma for almost 50 years, has been criticised for allowing the ethnic attacks to continue. He will also be questioned over official tolerance of outspoken figures such as Wirathu who are blamed by many for whipping up hatred against Muslims.
It is an accusation Wirathu denies, instead blaming all the religious violence on Burma’s Muslims, who make up 5 per cent of the population.
In the leafy courtyard of the New Masoeyain monastery, where he lives and teaches, billboards display gruesome images of butchered and burned monks and of Buddhist women raped and killed – alongside pictures from around the world depicting Islamist violence.
A woman walks past a burnt out area in Sittwe, Myanmar, where dozens of Rohingya families used to live until fires destroyed the homes (GETTY)
He insists he does not believe in, and has not encouraged Buddhist attacks such as the riots a year ago in Rakhine that left 200 people dead and up to 140,000, mainly Muslims, homeless. Nor, apparently, has he joined those monks who have reportedly taken part in attacks.
He has, however, previously compared Muslims to “mad dogs” and called them “troublemakers”. Monks hold considerable sway in Burma, so when they condemn a single ethnic group at a time of political upheaval and uncertainty, critics say it is hardly surprising if violence flares. The solutions Wirathu offers to the perceived threat to Burma’s Buddhist majority are certainly provocative.
“I don’t know how you tame a wild elephant in your country,” he told The Sunday Telegraph, when asked what exactly he means when he says Buddhist Burmese should “stand up for themselves”, “but here the first thing you do is take away all their food and water. Then when the elephant is starving and weak you give him a little bit of water and teach him one word. Then you give him a little bit of food and teach him some more. That’s how we tame the elephants here.”
This is his metaphor for the imposition of economic sanctions on Muslims, who are also known as Rohingya, an ethnic grouping in the northwest that has long been denied Burmese citizenship. Buddhists, he insists, should not shop in Muslim stores, nor sell land to Muslims. This principle is being promoted by a movement, which he started in conjunction with other monks from southern Burma, known as 969.
Those figures are said to represent Buddhist virtues. In the form of a logo, however, they are a badge used to help supporters identify businesses as Buddhist-run.
It adorns videos distributed by the group showing scenes of destruction and violence supposedly caused by Muslims. It is also appearing increasingly at rallies, such as one held in Rangoon last week to protest against a front cover of Time magazine which described Wirathu as “The Face of Buddhist Terror”.
Wirathu has also proposed a ban on marriage between Buddhists and Muslims. “Women should not get married to Islamic men. If one Buddhist woman gets married to an Islamic man, it’s not just one less Buddhist [because Islam requires her to convert], but they will have one more and they will have lots of children so the population balance can change quickly.”
The poet and artist Soe Wei, who was a political prisoner of the Burmese military junta for two years, says that like many Burmese he finds it difficult to criticise a monk, though he does not share all of Wirathu’s opinions. Pressed on whether he sees Wirathu as a figure of terror or a man of peace, Soe Wei shakes his head then smiles wryly.
“I don’t see him as a man of peace. I’ve never seen anyone in authority really willing to have peace in Myanmar.”
“You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog,” Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk notorious for his rants against Muslims, said in a sermon in reference to Muslims, The New York Times reported on Friday, June 21.
“I call them troublemakers, because they are troublemakers,” the Buddhist monk said.
I am proud to be called a radical Buddhist.”
Buddhism was often defined by the gentle image and words of exiled spiritual leader of the Tibet the Dalai Lama.
But the image totally changed over rising attacks by radical Buddhists against Muslims in Burma as well as Sri Lanka.
Burmese Monks are blamed for inciting hatred against Muslims
In Burma, Buddhist monks have championed a campaign against what they call “the enemy”, in reference to Muslims.
They have given sermons and firing speeches against Burmese Muslims, which resulted in several bouts of violence against the sizable minority.
More than 200 people were killed and thousands of Muslims were displaced from their homes after attacks against Muslims in western Burma last year.
More than 42 people were also killed in a new bout of violence against Muslims in central Burma in April.
Monks were blamed for inciting hatred against Muslims by preaching a so-called “969 movement” which represents a radical form of anti-Islamic nationalism that urges Buddhists to boycott Muslim-run shops and services.
Wirathu, who takes pride as a Buddhist Bin Laden, has thousands of followers on Facebook and his YouTube videos have been watched tens of thousands of times.
He also leads the extremist nationalist “969” campaign, encouraging Buddhists to “buy Buddhist and shop Buddhist”, seemingly with the intention of creating an apartheid state.
Its message is spreading through regular sermons across the country that draw thousands of people and through widely distributed DVDs of those talks.
Buddhist monasteries associated with the movement are also opening community centers and a Sunday school program for 60,000 Buddhist children nationwide.
Stickers with the movement’s logo are now ubiquitous nationwide on cars, motorcycles and shops.
The movement has also begun a signature campaign calling for a ban on interfaith marriages, and pamphlets are distributed at sermons listing Muslim brands and shops to be avoided.
Wirathu describes the massacre of Muslim schoolchildren in the central city of Meiktila in April in recent sermon as a show of strength.
“If we are weak,” he said, “our land will become Muslim.”
The new extremist notion of Buddhism in Burma is being criticized by rare voices from monks in neighboring countries.
“Myanmar (Burma) monks are quite isolated and have a thin relationship with Buddhists in other parts of the world,” Phra Paisal Visalo, a Buddhist scholar and prominent monk in neighboring Thailand, said.
Visalo believes that the notion of “us and them” promoted by Burma’s radical monks is anathema to Buddhism.
He also lamented that his criticism and that of other leading Buddhists outside the country have had “very little impact.”
Among the most disappointed with the outbreaks of violence and hateful rhetoric are some of the leaders of the 2007 Saffron Revolution, a peaceful uprising led by Buddhist monks against the military rule.
“We were not expecting this violence when we chanted for peace and reconciliation in 2007,” said Ashin Nyana Nika, 55, the abbot of Pauk Jadi monastery who attended a meeting earlier this month sponsored by Muslim groups to discuss the issue.
Facing parades of extremist monks, Taunggyi Muslims were terrified by a visit by Wirathu and other 60 honking motorcycles.
“I’m really frightened,” he said, stopping in midsentence when customers entered his shop.
“We tell the children not to go outside unless absolutely necessary.”
Rights groups have accused the Burmese police of turning a blind eye to attacks against Muslims.
The anti-Muslim violence has raised doubts on the success of Burma’s transition from 49 years of oppressive military rule that ended in March 2011.
Burma’s Muslims — largely of Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi descent — account for an estimated four percent of the roughly 60 million population.
Muslims entered Burma en masse for the first time as indentured laborers from the Indian subcontinent during British colonial rule, which ended in 1948.
But despite their long history, they have never fully been integrated into the country, widely considered as foreigners.
Rohingya: the world’s most forgotten people
This is what the Bangladeshi authorities don’t want you to see: 300,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar living in makeshift camps alone the Bangladesh border. Officially, Bangladeshi authorities do not recognise their existence, but in reality Rohingyas are tolerated and are known as unregistered refugees. Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Hague reports
via The Contact.ie Daily.
Often drawing parallels between the suffering of Jews and Palestinians, Muslim leaders from around the world made emotional visits last week to Dachau, Auschwitz and other European sites as part of a Holocaust awareness program. Imams recited the Janazah, the Muslim prayer for the dead, inside the crematorium at Dachau, and held afternoon prayers in front of Auschwitz’ infamous, bullet-hole-riddled “Wall of Death,” where many thousands died.
“What can you say? You’re speechless. What you have seen is beyond human imagination…Whether in Europe today or in the Muslim world, my call to humanity: End racism, for G-d’s sake, end anti-Semitism, for G-d’s sake, end Islamophobia for G-d’s sake, end sexism for G-d’s sake… Enough is enough.” – Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America.
Amongst the posts on Chris Nosworthy’s Facebook page were details of an afternoon stroll through the park, a happy birthday message to a man called Nigel and a YouTube video of a dog walking on its back legs.
Mr Nosworthy defended the contents of his Facebook page and strongly refuted claims the he is ‘non-racist’.
“My friends, family and the people who know me will tell you I’m a total racist,” he insisted.
“I’m also pretty sure that dinosaurs were wiped out by Jews,” he added.
UKIP Facebook page
A UKIP spokesperson revealed that a full investigation would be carried out and action would be taken “if necessary”.
“It might just be that Chris has been a bit naïve and made an error of judgement.
“We also shouldn’t rule out the possibility that his account was hacked by leftist flag-burning gays from the BBC.
“He’s already been for a precautionary AIDS test.”
Deep-seated prejudice, radical Buddhist monks fuel violence against Myanmar’s Muslims – The Washington Post
LASHIO, Myanmar — When a huge mob of Buddhist thugs crawled on the roof of Ma Sandar Soe’s shop, doused it with gasoline and set it ablaze, the Buddhist businesswoman didn’t blame them for burning it to the ground despite seeing it happen with her own eyes.
Instead, her wrath was reserved for minority Muslims she accused of igniting Myanmar’s latest round of sectarian unrest.
“This happened because of the Muslims,” she declared, sifting through charred CDs in the ruins of her recording studio.
As Myanmar grapples with its transition to democracy, its Muslim minority is experiencing its perils in vivid, bloody fashion. Hundreds have died since last year as victims of sectarian strife.
In the country’s latest round of Buddhist-Muslim violence, swarms of Buddhist men roamed Lashio’s crumbling streets this week, armed with rocks and sticks and machetes. Before police and army troops stepped in, anarchic crowds had torched scores of Muslim-owned shops, sending plumes of black smoke into the sky. By the time it all ended, at least one person was dead and the town’s Muslim community cowered in their homes in fear.
Ma Sandar Soe’s studio fell victim because it sat in the shadow of the mob’s main target — Lashio’s mosque. As orange flames leapt from the ashes, she explained her rationale for pointing the finger at Muslims: The Buddhist mob was provoked by reports that a Muslim man from out of town tried to burn a Buddhist woman alive. The woman survived, badly burned, and the man was arrested.
But the roots of anti-Muslim sentiment in Myanmar, also called Burma, are far deeper and more complex than any single incident in any single town.
“There is a deep, underlying prejudice there. Even when Buddhists say they have Muslim friends, they call them ‘kalar’ and other derogatory terms,” said Mark Farmaner of London-based Burma Campaign UK, a democracy promotion group. “That prejudice is easily exploited, and it’s a cancer that is now spreading.”
“Successive military regimes have implanted the dislike of Muslims in the mind of the general public and enacted ad hoc and de facto discriminatory restrictions,” said Sai Latt, a doctoral candidate at Canada’s Simon Fraser University who has written extensively on Muslims in Myanmar.
Myanmar society has been in a state of flux since a nominally democratic government came to power in 2011 after almost five decades of harsh military rule. A liberalized economy has accompanied the political changes. And the advent of democracy has enabled hate speech to flourish.
“There are so few sanctions now on those who provide contrarian or critical or indeed radical ideas about how society should be structured,” said Nicholas Farrelly, a research fellow at Australian National University. “There is this awakening of different sentiments; some of those are very progressive and democratic, in other cases they are profoundly reactionary and or authoritarian in spirit.”
Into the breach has stepped a phalanx of well-organized Buddhist monks. Aside from their religious standing, their credibility derives from historically playing a vanguard role in politics — once upon a time against British colonial rule, in more recent decades against military dictatorship.
Describing themselves as nationalists, their sermons no longer target the powerful, but instead play on deep-seated fears of the darker-skinned outsiders, Muslims of South Asian heritage who allegedly pose a threat to racial purity and national security.
Preaching all over the country, even in areas with no discernible Muslim populations, monks belonging to the radical Buddhist movement called 969 urge Buddhists to boycott Muslim businesses and not to marry, sell property to or hire Muslims. They accuse Muslims of rape, terrorism and other depredations. The group’s graffiti, T-shirts and stickers are seen everywhere — including Lashio.
“Many within the government and those close to the government share anti-Muslim sentiments and fears,” said Sai Latt. “Many believe 969 is only an economic nationalist movement. They don’t seem to see that 969’s economic nationalism is actually a crime — spreading hate messages — that is implanting hate that prompts deadly clashes.”
Some suggest the anti-Muslim campaign has covert official backing, perhaps from hard-liners seeking to weaken President Thein Sein and his reform agenda.
“The violence is well-organized and appears to be a continuous campaign to spark fires across the country, creating instability, which would suggest it has the backing of political forces,” said Benedict Rogers of London-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which promotes religious tolerance.
“However, conspiracy theories must not be used as an excuse to ignore the deeper issues within society,” he said. “If there was no prejudice within society, it would be much harder to orchestrate this violence.”
Muslims are not major power brokers in Myanmar, but in any given town, some strike high commercial profiles, and they are often seen by many Buddhists as members of a wealthy merchant class. One of Lashio’s most prominent hotels, for example, a six-story building that sits on a hilltop, is owned by a Muslim businessman who also runs cinemas and other shops that were ransacked this week by mobs.
The violence against Muslims first erupted a year ago on the distant southwestern coast, but it has since spread to the country’s central heartland, to the outskirts of the largest city, Yangon, and now, with the riots in Lashio, to the hilly northeast along the Chinese border.
Not all monks have taken part in 969, and some say it is only a small and extremist element that doesn’t represent Buddhist religion as a whole. Some prominent monks, including Gambira — who helped lead the so-called Saffron uprising against the military in 2007 — have also openly criticized the movement.
In Lashio, where more than 1,200 displaced Muslims are taking shelter in one of the city’s main Buddhist monasteries, monk Pannya Sar Mi says the mobs who attacked Muslim shops this week were “terrorists.”
“What happened here isn’t about Buddhists or Muslims,” he says. “It’s about bad people doing bad things.”
However, Pannya Sar Mi pointedly refused to criticize 969, saying he doesn’t know much about it.
Thein Sein’s administration has been heavily criticized for not doing enough to protect Muslims, but in Lashio the army’s intervention appears to have stemmed further violence, indicating authorities may have learned from past riots. They deployed trucks of troops throughout the city and security forces cracked down hard on mobs. At least 25 men were arrested, one of whom was dragged from a checkpoint by his hair.
Muslims here have been shocked that the attack on one Buddhist woman by a Muslim man from out of town could spark such violence. The government issued a statement saying the assault was not religiously motivated, and there is some evidence suggesting the man suffered from mental disturbances.
Nu Nu, a 19-year-old Muslim woman who was helping her brother load salvaged television sets from their charred electronics shop, said the hatred was hard to comprehend since there had been no open animosity before.
“Most of this violence is against Muslims,” she said. “But we don’t understand it. We didn’t do anything to them.”
A 29-year-old sister of the woman who was burned said she felt horrible that the attack on her sibling spurred citywide unrest. She declined to be identified for safety reasons.
“I feel sorry for them,” she said of Lashio’s Muslim population. “Only the criminals should be punished. There should be no more victims. I don’t want any of the good Muslims to be hurt.”
But, like Ma Sandar Soe, she said she understood the Buddhist outrage.
As smoke rose from the wreckage of an entire corner of downtown, including the blackened hulk of a three-story building just a few steps from the surgical ward where her sister was recovering with severe burns across her face and body, she said, “In our country, the problems are always started by the Muslims.”
* EDL= English defense league
“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism (Islam) lays on its votaries (devoted followers)! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia (rabies) in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science – the science against which it had vainly struggled – the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome”.
via Jesus and Mo.
via Jesus and Mo.
Perhaps because of its strong religious background, the nation has been more accepting of Islam than many of its European neighbors.
DUBLIN – A new 60,000-square-foot development is likely to generate friction in any urban setting, much less a mosque in the capital of a historically Catholic country.
And yet a proposal to construct a multi-use Islamic center — including a three-story domed mosque, school, and fitness facility — in the north Dublin neighborhood of Clongriffin has triggered little of the anti-Muslim blowback surrounding similar projects in other parts of Europe and in the United States.
“Any politician I listen to in Ireland always reminds himself and the audience that we were and still are an emigrant nation…that we left home for a better future, and should treat people who are coming to this country fairly.”
In some ways, the reaction, or lack thereof, is symbolic of the Republic of Ireland’s relationship with its burgeoning Muslim population. It’s one of acceptance – at least on the surface — that is partially rooted in the successful narrative of the country’s earliest Muslim immigrants, many of them university students.
“When we talk about wider Irish society, there is not that much preoccupation within public discourse with the Muslim presence in Ireland,” said Oliver Scharbrodt, a professor at University College Cork and an expert on Ireland’s Muslim population.
The relationship is also shaped by a long Irish history of poverty and emigration, according to some. Most notably, the Irish Potato Famine, which started in 1845 and lasted several years, killed an estimated 1 million people and drove millions more to the United States and elsewhere. The pattern of emigration carried on well into the 20th century.
“There is a history that has shaped what an Irishman is,” said Said El Bauzari, a Moroccan native who moved to Ireland 14 years ago. “Any politician I listen to here in Ireland always reminds himself and the audience that we were and still are an emigrant nation. We should not forget our past, that we left home for a better future, and we should treat people who are coming to this country fairly.”
Muslims make up just 1.1 percent of the 4.5 million people in Ireland, but their ranks are swelling due to immigration, domestic births, and in some cases, conversion. Two decades ago, they numbered about 4,000. In 2011, the census recorded 49,204 Muslims, including nearly 12,000 school-aged children. The numbers represent a 51 percent increase since 2006.
They are one subgroup in a rapidly diversifying country. The demographic changes were fueled in part by workers seeking opportunities during the Celtic Tiger, Ireland’s economic boom that ran from the mid-1990s until 2008. Almost simultaneously, the number of asylum seekers and refugees began to climb. The once-homogenous Ireland is now 17 percent foreign-born.
In many ways, the Irish Muslim community is a cross-section of the Islamic world. It is increasingly diverse not only in origin — members hail from dozens of different countries — but also in education level, socioeconomic status, and in their motives for immigrating.
The first Muslims in Ireland began arriving in the 1950s, most to study medicine. The stream of students continued for decades. Many returned home, but some stayed, forged careers, married, and had children.
Ireland does not have a long history of viewing its Muslim population as a social problem, largely because those early immigrants integrated relatively easily, Scharbrodt said.
During orientation at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1994, newly arrived post-graduate scholarship student Mustafa Alawi mentioned to his guide that he would need to pray midday. He was shown the chapel, and soon the campus priest began to anticipate his daily visit.
“The Irish are very friendly people, very religious people,” said Alawi, 44, a native of Bahrain who now operates a private clinic providing cosmetic procedures in the heart of Dublin. “Everybody called you doctor from the first time they saw you.”
In a 2012 European Commission survey on discrimination in the European Union, 79 percent of Irish respondents described discrimination based on religion or beliefs as “rare” or “non-existent” in Ireland. Meanwhile, 66 percent of French respondents described religious discrimination in their country as “widespread.”
Irish also expressed the highest comfort level of any of their European neighbors with having a member of a religious minority fill the highest elected office in Ireland.
Elsewhere in Europe, anxiety about Islam abounds. Voters in Switzerland passed a constitutional referendum in 2009 prohibiting the construction of minarets, or mosque prayer towers. In 2011, the French government implemented on a ban on the wearing of face-obscuring veils in public.
“[In France], if you have a beard like this you would never find a job,” said Riadh Mahmoudi, a 35-year-old Algerian immigrant, gesturing to his chin. “My wife, for example, wears the full niqab. If she wears the niqab [in France], she would be in trouble. She would be fined. You don’t see these things happen here.”
To be sure, Muslims in Ireland confront their share of challenges, especially recent arrivals. During the last decade, unemployment among immigrants was consistently higher as compared to Irish nationals. That gap only widened with the onset of the economic recession.
They also face a different culture and climate, as well as a new language. Even those who arrive speaking English have struggled.
“If I talked to someone from the north [side of Dublin], I wouldn’t understand anything,” said Bushra Ibrahim, a 43-year-old mother of five who immigrated from Iraq a decade ago. “It is English, but it doesn’t sound like English.”
Head coverings worn by some Muslim women in Ireland sometimes attract unwanted attention. Ibrahim said that once she was approached by half a dozen teenagers who addressed her as “Paki” and told her to “go home.”
“In Ireland, religion and politics have always been connected together.”
Isolated incidents aside, Ibrahim and other Muslims said they find parity between their own faith life and their adopted country’s conservative religious history. They like that the Catholic-dominated education system offers numerous single-sex schools, and said that school officials typically accommodate the needs of Muslim students, including dietary restrictions and uniform modifications.
“The articulation of a religious identity in the public arena is not seen to be that problematic,” Scharbrodt said. “In Ireland, religion and politics have always been connected together.”
The story of Muslims in Ireland will likely grow more complicated in the coming years, Scharbrodt said. The community is no longer made up entirely of students and professionals, but now includes many asylum seekers with little education and few skills.
The socioeconomic shift has broad implications. There is a certain nostalgia among long-established Muslims for an earlier time when members of the religious minority were closely associated with education and elite career fields, Scharbrodt said.
What’s more, some children of Muslim immigrants could find themselves straddling two worlds and not really feeling at home in either, a reality for many young people in other parts of Europe, Scharbrodt said.
Still, Muslims said they see a bright future as they carve out a place for their faith in Ireland. It will likely include plenty of growth — the population is projected to hit 125,000 by 2030, according to an analysis published by the Pew Research Center.
After being approved by the Dublin City Council in March, the proposed Clongriffin Islamic center is now under appeal — but the biggest complaints about the project aren’t its purpose, but rather over its size and potential impact on traffic.
“Once you make this place your home, and once your neighbor feels okay with you becoming his neighbor and that you have made your home next door to him, that is integration,” El Bauzari. “For me, it has already happened. My neighbors are Irish. My kids go with Irish kids to school. I think it is really a positive story to tell from this country.”
Ireland has rapidly become a multicultural and multiracial society. This upheaval gave platform to the existence of diversity of religions and ethics of various communities residing in Eire. The Muslim Modern existence in Eire can be traced back to the early 1950s. To a large extent it is difficult to get accurate statistics on Muslim population in Eire. However, according to the 1991 census, the number of Muslims was 3,873. Apparently the number of Muslim population was largely underestimated.
A substantial increase occurred to the Muslim population in 2002. According to the 2002 census Muslim population scored 19,147. The present population, according to the last census conducted in 2006, is estimated to be 32,000. Nevertheless, the true figure is a little bit more than 55,000. It is obvious that the Irish Muslim community has passed through a number phases involving changes, transitions and progress. Nevertheless, due to a number of difficulties and hurdles the Muslim political contribution can hardly be discerned in the Irish arena.
One of these obstacles is lack of motivation. At this point it should be marked clearly that creating this motivation and promoting it are a reciprocal responsibly that should be shouldered by Muslim organizations and leaders on one hand and Irish politicians on the other hand.
It is not fair to solely blame the Muslim community for their isolation with regard to the Irish political life. The Irish political system is supposed to take the initiative and encourage Muslim societal activities and cooperate with Muslims so that they can participate in all societal affairs and particularly the Irish political activities. However, few might argue to the contrary, but it is obvious that they are heedless of the fact that the ways for Muslim political participation are narrow with uneven surface and still not prepared enough to accommodate the Muslim participation. Their argument is usually manifested in their statements that endeavour to force Muslims to adopt assimilation that obliterate their distinctive identity.
Given the fact that Muslims, organizations, leaders and laymen, bear a portion, possibly huge and fundamental, of the responsibility for the Muslim political indifference, the politicians and the regulations still bear an essential portion thereof. There is no doubt that the regulations pertaining to citizenship and permission to stay in the state profoundly affect a section of the immigrants when it comes to their political interaction. These immigrants are concerned with the process of making decisions at various levels.
At this point it is worth mentioning here that motivating political participation in general constitutes one of the objectives of many specialized organizations in Europe e.g. Bundeszentrale f?r politische Bildung located in Germany. This issue is of a paramount importance to the extent that political participation of the minorities in America attracted a number of political sciences researchers and it was described by the Committee on Comparative Politics – Social Science Research Council (USA) as “The Crises of Participation”. In the current Irish situation emerges the need for setting up a governmental office specialized in political participation of the minorities.
Motivating political participation is a matter that can neither be accomplished by mere good intentions nor by positive instructions e.g. equal opportunities, as some might claim. It should be founded on the significance of the awareness of the importance of political participation and its profound impact on the positive integration among the various communities forming the texture of Irish society. Motivating political participation leads to averting societal crisis deemed to be a platform to isolation and gehtoing. Hence, one should raise the following question. Is the political system flexible enough to be amended to suit the contemporary societal changes in terms of accommodating the new communities and including members thereof.
In the same context the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia stated that members of the E.U. are in need of developing their politics aiming at accomplishing equality for Muslim minorities. It also encourages the initiative of positive integration aiming to create an environment that enables the Muslim communities all over Europe to participate in all ranges of the societal activities.
In spite of the above mentioned one cannot claim that Muslims are released from blame. As leaders and organizations they have a fundamental role to encourage the Muslim political participation. They should answer legal issues pertaining thereto. In cooperation with political leaders they are supposed to organize workshops and seminars to raise awareness about the Irish politics. They should look into arguments and counter arguments regarding the permissibility and impermissibility of Muslim political participation.
About Author: Ali Selim
ABOVE is the graphic the Wall Street Times published to illustrate its story about rising taxes in the US.
The look on the face of that single parent getting by on 4260,000 a year is heart-wrenching. That single woman with no kids pulling in $230,000 for 12 months hard graft should lift her chin and thank her lucky stars that no man left her destitute with two extra mouths to feed.
The elderly couple who can only afford rope to wear ropes as scarves could consider selling less-vital organs to heat their arching bones.
But the pick are the huddled masses, the family of six subsistence deskers on $650,000 a year. Someone get Bob Geldof on the phone.
We feel a song coming on:
“It’s bonus time, there’s a need to feel afraid…”
Following the misery inflicted on Islam by a toy bear that ended up with calls for the execution of an English woman for blasphemy, more Muslims are stepping forward with stories of long-suppressed emotional trauma imposed on them by so-called reality.
This has led to the creation of support groups and social networks that help followers of the Prophet Mohammed cope with the agony of learning about life outside of their immediate environment, offering assistance with technical resources, practical guidance, and strategies for early intervention and punishment of those who offend Islam.
“I have always been offended by rubber ducks,” says Mahmud Said of Portland, Oregon. “For a long time I felt stigmatized and inadequate, until one day I decided to write about it on an Internet forum. I received hundreds of heart-felt emails – from Morocco to Indonesia. It turns out that thousands of Muslim men between the ages of 18 and 35 have had traumatic experiences with rubber ducks.
“We started a support group that has grown to 10,000 members. Not only do we share horrifying rubber duck stories, we also try to increase public awareness by sabotaging the world supply of rubber ducks, setting fire to factories, abducting rubber duck distributors, and intimidating retailers. These are building blocks for our healthy future. With Allah as my witness, our public awareness campaign will soon result in a completely rubber-duck-free world.”
Abdullah Sharif had just turned 35 when the Mohammed cartoon controversy suddenly broke out. It left him so emotionally scarred that he developed an aversion to representative art in all its forms. He often found himself shrieking while passing comics in a bookstore window, or seeing the funnies in the local newspaper. But while Abdullah had formerly been considered just another oddball, thanks to social networking, he is now a successful leader of an international charitable organization working for the betterment of humankind through imposing of Sharia law on the infidels.
His group covers a wide range of activities, from occasional riots, bombings, and beating of newspaper editors to writing threatening letters to the Cartoon Network. “One true believer may be a nutcase, but together we are the fastest growing religion on Earth, making the important cultural shift to a more Islam-dominated society that benefits both the true believers and the lowly kufir,” boasts Abdullah. He recently moved to a new home in Malibu and is touring the world on a private Lear Jet.
Studies conducted by mental health professionals have shown that Muslim men and women are often offended by the most unexpected items, including baby rattles, hummingbirds, home appliances, or geographical maps with polar ice caps. On the top ten list of the most offensive things are rectal thermometers and the word “allometric,” which many consider an underhanded insult to Allah.
Every such grievance is being thoroughly documented and acted upon by support groups and mental health providers, such as CAIR, that help victims to overcome their stress and anxiety by filing costly lawsuits against private institutions and government agencies.
The typical case involved a visitor from Egypt to Brooklyn, NY, who was offended by the sight of a cumulus cloud over Atlantic Avenue in the shape of the Arabic letter “A.” By organizing protests and putting pressure on mass media, a network of Muslim groups and charities succeeded in forcing a Brooklyn judge to award the offended man $150,000 in damages, to be paid by the National Meteorological Agency. The Agency is the government body the Muslim groups deemed most responsible for regulating the proper distribution of water molecules over the New York metropolitan area.
Among the most bizarre cases is a lawsuit filed by religious and community leaders who claim that they are being unfairly targeted by gamma rays, neutrinos, and other forms of cosmic radiation. According to plaintiffs, the problem started immediately after they had complained to authorities about the disproportionately tangled shape of the Galactic magnetic field. Government agencies were fast to express dismay and sympathy for the victims, but none were willing to accept responsibility, and it seems they are playing a cynical game of administrative football with neutrino sufferers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on national governments to provide financial backing for the network of Muslim self-help groups, twelve-step healing programs, and training camps, creating an environment that is more supportive and empowering for sufferers of Offended Muslim Syndrome (OMS).
“Being a Muslim today means to be always aware that something, somewhere, is somehow offensive to Islam,” said a report issued by WHO, a specialized agency of the UN that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. “It is a shame to see the wealthiest nations of the world stingily hold on to their pockets in the face of the largest epidemic of reality-induced psychological disorder in human history.”
The WHO report provides a list of symptoms of the Offended Muslim Syndrome, suggesting that the condition be officially recognized as a disability, with the ensuing costs covered by Western governments. The report also includes advice and recommendations by leading UN-affiliated health professionals:
Symptoms of Offended Muslim Syndrome (OMS)
Irritability, agitation, anxiety at the sight of women who are not fully covered
Prolonged rage or unexplained killing sprees
Significant changes in immigration patterns
Brooding about the past glory of the Caliphate
Decreased effectiveness and minimal work productivity
Difficulty in understanding new information without a trial lawyer
Feelings of despair or hopelessness about the existence of Israel
Recurring thoughts of death to the infidels
In order to guard against OMS, health officials warn individuals who are at risk to make sure that the objective reality they are exposed to does not:
Make them aware of the outside world
Trigger curiosity about the Western notions of “logic” or “rationality”
Make life more enjoyable
Cause them to question the need for martyrdom
Have side effects such as independent thinking and longing to live as a productive individual
Create an illusion that communication with infidels is possible without hostage-taking
Spontaneously developed methods and techniques are already in place to help OMS sufferers: the Paris Youth Group, the Gaza System, the Beirut Procedure, and, of course, the Zawahiri Method – an easy-to-learn, do-it-yourself way to eliminate anxiety whenever you find anything offensive, by removing any negative thought or feeling below the neck of the offending party.
This method has proven to be particularly effective in breaking the patterns of thought and behavior among non-Muslims, whose very existence is suspected to be the leading cause of pain of anxiety afflicting the Muslim world.