Robert Fisk – a contributor to WHYS – has written an article today which is already getting you going.
It’s an issue which comes up time and time again when we discuss this . All your
1. The “Umma” is generally ruled by dictators who ban protests, who arrest and torture organisers and protesters and who have intelligence officers at every street corner monitoring people’s political tendencies.
2. The “Umma” generally doesn’t have free-media or free-speech for the people or the Clerics. The media is openly controlled and censored by the government, the religious leaders are appointed and removed by the government. How many newstations went with the story of the China execution? How many go with the story of Sudan and what picture do they paint?
It takes state organisation, or an underground opposition, to start a significant protest. A dictator who tortures and kills his own people will not organise a protest in support of democracy and human compassion.
It would be nice to see Muslims protesting against all the injustices of the world, not just some, but to do that, they need to get their freedom.
It’s not an impartial and just world we’re living in.The well written and rightly intended article has got me going nowhere; I’m as disillusioned as ever.
It’s all just Yakety yak. The BBC has to keep at it and Robert Fisk and may be all the rest of us, including myself. But nothing changes anything. We like to believe it does of course. Especially the so called democratic world, being the most hipocritic. We are all trying to justify our action or inaction. May be also because we don’t have enough to do today.
I must admit what Mr. Fisk brings up never occurred to me.
To summarise my previous post which is awaiting moderation:
The Muslim world is not free like we are free in the West, it is controlled by dictators. The Clerics and the Media are largely controlled and censored by the dictators. Individual dissenters are dealt with harshly. A cruel dictator will attempt to block protests against the cruel actions of their friends, but will allow/encourage protests against political foes.
In order to freely protest, the people need to be free first.
In politics there are always double standards. What matters are economic and political interests. The condemnation of atrocities against Muslims is used as a tool to sway public opinion, but i term of action very little is done.
There was a roar of outrage against Israeli raids on Gaza towards the end of 2008, which lasted for 23 days, but up to now the population in Gaza are still suffering from the effect of that raid which is going to culminate in their being besieged by a steel wall ( 18 metre deep underground) from the Egyptian borders.
Actually Muslim solidarity still leaves much to be desired. The row between Algeria and Egypt over a football match- in which their respective media was mobilized to portray their adversary side as animals – shows the degree of the precarious relations between Arab countries.
Some Muslim countries are right to shut up concerning the execution of Akmal Shaikh as they themselves need to improve their human rights records. The protests taking place in Iran are just an example of how freedom is curtailed and executions are a way of life for crimes that need just fines and short term imprisonment.
Mr. Fisk ignores the fact that it is only the West that feels that it has a right to interfere in other country’s affairs. He also does not take in to account that Islam preaches that the punishment should fit the crime. What then is there for the Muslim clergy and leaders to protest about. Is Mr. Fisk a fundamentalist Christian who creates opportunities to hit out at heathens from other beliefs?
While a lot of people love to have a go at Robert Fisk for his reporting, keep these points in mind.
If he’s so “biased”, why didn’t the Independent sack him years ago?
Has he ever been sued over one of his reports? No.
Can you name one other reporter who’s consistently put himself on the line for as long as he has?
The “totally objective journalist” is a nice myth that’s perpetuated in jourmalism courses. But it doesn’t exist. Therefore, what’s wrong with people like Fisk saying, no I won’t shut up in exposing the truth?
Does anyone else look back fondly on the days when spreading economic prosperity was going to bring political liberalization, more equitable distribution of wealth, economic sanity, and justice for all?
Now as China becomes wealthier, it seems that it feels more and more at liberty to do as it pleases. Their recent purchase of 18 Uighur refugees from Cambodia is even more striking than the case Fisk singles out, and that’s bad enough.
Why should Muslims speak out against the death of a heroin smuggler? Self-righteous media outlets such as the BBC show only one side of the coin, presenting a sob story about a “poor, mentally disturbed man tricked into taking a suitcase of heroin across the border”. Show the other side, BBC! How many people would have suffered the fate of addiction and overdose from the goods this man was peddling? But I don’t expect the BBC or any other European media to behave like the journalists they purport to be.
The death of one criminal to spare the lives of innocent people is the right thing to do. Executing Akmal Shaikh was the humanitarian solution!
The Chinese government seems to have a firm hold on governments whch are anti-American. The protests from Arabic governments regarding the execution were surprisingly mute considering that Akmal Shaikh was a Muslim. The mere fact that trade between China and the Arabic nations is booming seems to be another explantion for the reluctance to criticise China. The clerics are quite adept at the balancing act especially when it affects their pockets. The Chinese economic power simply speaks volumes.
Many of the comments to yesterday’s WHYS post illustrate what Mr. Fisk peripherally addresses: Everybody seems to understand and viscerally, if simplistically, endorses; An Eye For An Eye. What could be simpler; easy to remember, vividly descriptive, demanding of not a moment of nuanced thought or already over-subscribed energy. Some folk just need killin’ whether as punishment, deterrent, proximity to valuable resources or (yawn, what?) collateral damage, people dying is a constant, not a bad thing, in itself, but we think that we know what killing is righteous and what is an outrage and our rage is meaningless and impotent as long as we abdicate (as do the imams the subjects of Fisk’s article) our control of our controllers. Okay, criticism of the Chinese government can get you killed (also in Iran, Burma, lots of places) but what’s our excuse? Where is our outrage? How dare we presume to know which executions are justified and which just annoy our sense of balance? I made myself very uncomfortable thinking that it was right that the court in Pakistan ordered the noses and ears of two men to be cut-off as their punishment for doing that to the woman who rejected the advances of one of the men. Of course it’s a barbarity that would never happen in the US or UK, but it was also a rare case of a Pakistani court siding with a female victim and, I think, a much worse crime than smuggling drugs. We, as a society (US, UK, Pakistan, everywhere) need to steel ourselves to wade into this complexity and assert our humanity.
Third post lucky!
The Muslim world is ruled by dictatorships who control the media and decide when people are allowed to protest. Dictators will do everything they can to stop people from protesting in support of democracy and crimes of dictatorship, including media censorship of the crime.. To go against the will of the dictator can result in death or torture. Even more so after opposition groups can now be grouped under the “terrorism” umbrella. An individual’s voice is easily silenced and may never reach the intended ears, let alone Western ears. Mass protests are dangerous politically and in terms of human life, so the opposition has to prioritise/select the protests it can “win”.
Institutional religion, by definition, is a creation of politics. Selective protest is simply the nature of the beast.
A very interesting article, always a fan of R. Fisk, and I think we should all be rather afraid if China does indeed take over from the US as the dominant power, first economically, then politically and militarily.
You can at least try to take the religion out of politics, something that should have flowed from the Age of Enlightenment, and this is maybe where the US has gone so disastrously wrong since, despite its spurious “separation” of church and state, the fundamentalist Christian ideology along with its crusader mentality has won out. However, you can never take the politics out of religion, and this is when the trouble really starts. Most Muslims detest “the West” for things perpetrated in the past, no matter how many centuries ago so, as with any religious interest group, internecine squabbles like the Iran Iraq war don’t count, just as earlier Catholic vs Protestant slaughter somehow didn’t count. Because they sincerely hope that China will ultimately defeat their perceived Western enemy, militant Islamists see it along the lines of my enemy’s enemy is my friend, and the rest just shut up for fear of reprisals and a misguided sense of loyalty brought on by this orchestrated siege mentality.
How do we choose who to weep for? Okay, let’s keep it real. It’s more correct and empty chatter with no immediate impact.The bigger issues need to be resolved before we can get to the details.
Fisk is another voice asking the most basic question of Islam and religion in general. How can you profess peace and love and sit on your ass when it really counts? We revere people like Gandhi or ML King because they acted. They put themselves on the lines. That was courage.
We live in a world that is lacking in courage and getting worse. The Chinese government puts down opposition and disappears dissidents with impunity. No one makes a big noise about it–we love our HDTVs too much.
Why pick on the Muslim world for not speaking out? What have they ever spoken out about? The Shia/Sunni conflict is some 700 or 800 years old and there’s no one trying to end it. Who would speak out about a lone Muslim in China when thousands of Muslims are murderd by suicide bombers in the name of Allah each year. Who speaks what do you hear?
You hear silence.
What Muslim (cleric or not) has the reputation, respect and courage to speak out?
I know of only one man with the courage and the reputation across the world and that is Mohammed Ali. He stood up to the US government and has the morally heft. Sadly his parkinson’s has kept him down.
It’s all down to politics, the Cold War, religion and press focus.
The West and some Christians have this thing about having a go at China because it is ‘communist’. They don’t do it to the USA in the same manner.
People attack or defend Israel for all kinds of reasons. Religious, racist, socialist or political, but mainly because people expected better of it as a new nation, born out of blood and the most venerable religion, with the greatest number of great thinkers, artists, philosophers and liberal political thinkers of any race.
However there are two ways of looking at this article: either it a true indictment of our media led, and short term thinking; or it is a propaganda article having a go at Muslim clerics(not likely given Fisk’s record). A bit of both I assume.
Lets face it, in this terrible World, we cannot all react to everything, just what interests us. Anyway, just because some eminent person, like the PM condemns something, who are they speaking for, except themselves? I don’t think this news is the most condemnatory thing which has happened this week. Just another mundane tragedy pointed out to us in capital letters.
Why do people who willingly put their heads in a stock and invite all and sundry to have a go, believe that it’s what everyone else should also be doing?
They then feel aggrieved that not all are willing to “share”, as if we should all belong to a global association of guilt anonymous. The PC, liberal apologists have been begging the world for forgiveness for years, so much so that it has now become habit and a shock when confronted with a position that does not feel the need to defend its decision. It always boils down to respect – not likeability, and an apologetic approach to every decision is a sure sign of weakness. It doesn’t take a genius to predict where this kind of attitude will lead to.
We have always had selective protest,and always will.Had Akmal sheikh not been British,we might not have heard from Gordon Brown at all.Should I,or does anyone,really care about executions in Saudi,China or timbucktoo.I don’t know any of them nor am I likely to know them.We all tut-tut at mass killings in Congo and Nigeria etc,but we don’t lose any sleep over them,I am afraid we will have to live with selective protest,it is par for the course.
Another angle on this comes from Pepe Escobar, the foreign correspondent for the Asian Times.
There are other sources than the MSM worldwide that anybody can use. It’s a matter of doing some research and building your network. Also, develop your own blogs or other channels to get your message out.
Odds are you won’t get rich. You won’t be on “Oprah”. Yet, there’s the inner satisfaction of doing SOMETHING. Because nobody else will do it for you.
To Admiral Akbar at post #10:
“the BBC show only one side of the coin, presenting a sob story about a “poor, mentally disturbed man tricked into taking a suitcase of heroin across the border”. Show the other side, BBC!”
I suggest you listen to tuesday’s World Have Your Say “Should all drug smugglers be executed”, 29 Dec 09. you can find it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/whys/
All protesting is useless unless it is large enough to close a city down! The story of the Battle of Seattle by David Solnit is a case in point. It was the documentary that helped me with my decision to eschew anymore protest marches.
We are up against the most powerful forces on the planet who will stop at nothing to murder us on the spot! The police have all the weapons of mass destruction and they are sworn to protect the property class in this world. Every country it is the same old story. The innocents get their heads smashed in and then go home or go to jail in a paddy wagon. That is not my idea of progress.
Organization is the key and that is why the Battle of Seattle was a success. I have been to enough demonstrations to know that they are composed of good radical groups but they are all at odds as to how far they will go to disrupt the peace. I see a Muslim cleric with plastic explosives taped to his body and when it goes off in a public area he gets attention and things stop for awhile and then it all goes back to the aimless status quo and we all get screwed again. Look at this latest flop with the guy in Detroit who “almost” blew up a plane. That does not count. That really brings down the hammer on ordinary folks. I stopped flying years ago because of the security, now I will never go on an airplane!
You cannot beat city hall. They have the money and they have all the guns and they will use them on us. It is one sorry situation. To act as though nothing is wrong and keep electing fools to rule us does not make sense either. I am still searching for a way to reach the power and crush it. Capitalism is the enemy and it knows no mercy.
Why are Muslims presently highly critical of Israel and the USA? Perhaps because it is the most active country at war. Russian atrocities in Chechnya have died down. China’s treatment of Uighurs has become more of economic deprivation rather than military oppression. Right now, the USA and Israel are the only nations which are occupying Muslim countries.
Dear Robert Fisk,
Are we, the humans, most unjust and disunited of all the living species on the earth? You bet. We can be ‘yes ‘ and ‘no’ in the same breath; opportunistic and hypocritical as we are. So you do feel disillusioned, even disgusted and angry, like I do for the umpteenth times i.e. many ‘times’ within any short span of Time, and curse for what we are or what has become of us. What has become of those simple virtues of righteousness and conscientiousness, which were so natural to us when we had not complicated ourselves so much? Like you, I too am wondering and lamenting.
You may think, that, here is one, not touching upon any issue and yet trying to be felt or heard; Yes, that’s how it is and that’s how I intend to be, because I don’t see any point in pointing out to those matters which i know are not going to be considered by the extremists and the unjust. If ever or whenever any sanity is to dawn upon them, that will be the end to the tale of our woes; when? only the Time can tell!!!!!
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