“India,” “Secularism,” and Its Dissenting Authors Or “Der Āyad, Durust Āyad, but is this even an arrival”?

October 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

by Huma Dar

Nagpur July 31, 2014: Senior scientist and Former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam visited RSS headquarters near Reshimbagh Nagpur and offered tributes to (Hindu Nationalist) RSS Founder Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar at ‘Smruti Mandir’ Nagpur.

Nagpur July 31, 2014: Senior scientist and Former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam visited RSS headquarters near Reshimbagh Nagpur and offered tributes to (Hindu Nationalist) RSS Founder Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar at ‘Smruti Mandir’ Nagpur.

“Prominent writers in India are collectively protesting what they consider an increase in hostility and intolerance, which they argue has been allowed to fester under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, by returning a prestigious literary award.”

Referring to attacks against Muslims, including the killing of a man who had been suspected of slaughtering a cow, he said, “This is not the country that our great leaders had envisioned.” (Ghulam Nabi Khayal, Sahitya Akademi Award, 1975)
The newsfeed on most South Asian social media has been deluged by articles like the one in The New York Times above. However, one has to wonder what kept these literary “stars” from this praiseworthy gesture of returning their State-given awards when the Gujarat pogroms were going on in 2002, or against the pogroms that followed the demolition of Babri masjid in 1992/3, or against the genocide of Sikhs around 1984, or heck, against the ongoing genocide in Indian Occupied Kashmir or that of Dalits… My apologies for this query which might seem cynical at first blush, but is actually a probing of the very problematic notions of “India” and “Indian secularism” that these authors and poets valorize, explicitly or implicitly, through this gesture or through their work. Brahminical, colonial, and Islamophobic at the core, it is precisely these twin concepts that are the fecund incubating ground not only of the acts of spectacular violence in the current context, at the contemporary moment, but also of the banal acts of quotidian violence that fertilize the roots, leave alone of the comparably spectacular violence of the allegedly “secular” contexts, that preceded and co-exist at any given time.

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Let’s Talk About Genocide: Shoot to Kill – Israel’s New Phase of Genocidal Policy

October 18, 2015 § 1 Comment

The most recent report from the Palestinian Health Ministry relates that 44 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s army, police and settlers, since the beginning of the month- in the past 18 days. 11 of them were children under 18 years of age. All 44 have been shot, most during demonstrations, least while wielding a knife, and others while standing in the street being Arab.

The most disturbing aspect of this new wave of extrajudicial executions is of course the latter, in which random Palestinian citizens of Israel are attacked in the street  by random Jewish citizens if identified to be Arab. In the best case scenario, they are just humiliated and brutally beaten, in the worst case they are shot multiple times by hysterical police officers.

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“Hands Off Syria” Applies to Russia Too—An International Statement

October 15, 2015 § 14 Comments

The following statement was authored by Gail Daneker of Friends for a NonViolent World, Brian Slocock of the Syria Solidarity Movement, UK, and the blogger and activist Clay Claiborne


“Hands Off Syria” Applies to Russia Too

As people and groups from many countries, united by a common commitment to peace, justice and human rights, we condemn the military offensive that began with air strikes launched by Russia in Syria on 30 September 2015 and accelerating subsequently.

While the Russian government has said that these operations were directed against the Islamic State (ISIS), most were on areas with no ISIS presence. The focus of the Russian military offensive appears to have been on opposition communities in the northern Homs region, a continuing center of resistance to the Assad Regime.

The victims of the Russian aggression on 30 September were predominantly civilians, including many children. Humanitarian conditions were dire in the area before Russia launched its offensive because it has long been under siege by the regime for its resistance. « Read the rest of this entry »

Kenneth Roth takes on Russian apologists for Assad’s terror

October 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Human Rights Watch executive director on RT challenging pro-Assad propaganda.

Toward a People’s History of the Syrian Uprising—A Conversation with Wendy Pearlman

October 8, 2015 § 1 Comment

In the increasingly disfigured debate about Syria, it is scarcely even remembered that it all began as a popular uprising—indeed, as a nonviolent and non-sectarian one whose goals were dignity, justice, and freedom from a one-family mafia torture state in power for more than four decades.

Wendy Pearlman is out to set that record straight and explain why the Syrian uprising happened in the first place.

Pearlman, an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University in Chicago who serves on the faculty of the university’s Middle East and North African Studies Program, is the author of Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada and Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement.

For the last two years Pearlman has been working on a book that she conceives as something of a people’s history of the Syrian uprising. She has interviewed more than 150 Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey about their experiences in the uprising and war. Along the way, she has published a series of powerful articles, among them “Love in the Syrian Revolution”, “Fathers of Revolution” and “On the Third Anniversary of the Syrian Uprising”.

In September, our Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver had the pleasure of co-hosting Pearlman (along with the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy) for a pair of presentations about her book-in-progress. While she was in Denver, I conducted this interview with her for our Middle East Dialogues video series:

Can the revolution in Syria survive an imperial carve up?

October 7, 2015 § 2 Comments

by Mark Boothroyd

The situation facing the Assad regime is dire. Having lost almost every major battle it has fought with the armed rebels for over a year now, it is facing crises on every front. Since March it has lost control of the entire province of Idlib to the Jaysh Al-Fatah coalition. In Aleppo, the Fatah Halab coalition are on the offensive and gradually liberating districts of the city from the regime, while last month the regime’s only ground supply route to the city was temporarily severed by rebels. In the south the Southern Front continues to pressure the regime around Daraa, and is advancing in Quneitra province, while rebels in Lattakia continue to mount incursions into the regime loyalist province.

Rebel advances in Idlib province May 2014 – May 2015 Credit: Archicivilians

Rebel advances in Daraa province May 2014 – May 2015 Credit: Archicivilians

Assad is facing a manpower shortage as tens of thousands of Syrians flee regime held areas to escape conscription and deteriorating living conditions. Refugees who left Syria recently describe being unable to live, as regular electricity and water cuts, and the rising price of food and rents makes the situation unbearable.

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Are There Things Money Shouldn’t Be Able To Buy?

October 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

Michael J. Sandel is an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for the Harvard course “Justice”, which is available to view online, and for his critique of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice in his first book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982). He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002. His book Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy appears in the list muse top 100 political science books list.


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