Kafr al-Hanadwa

After the fact… by Mango Girl
February 24, 2010, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I suppose I should have made a formal farewell to blogging, but in case you hadn’t noticed…this blog stands formally abandoned as I move on to a new job and new baby! Thanks for reading.

The romance of football across electrified border fences by Mango Girl
July 25, 2009, 1:52 pm
Filed under: Arab world, Conflict, Desiland, Popular culture

Yes, I know I’ve abandoned this blog shamefully – but if you’re still reading, you might be interested in this ad for an Israeli mobile phone company that imagines a touchy-feely game of football across a fence between Israelis and Palestinians. It’s remarkably similar to an Indian mobile phone company ad from a couple of years ago that shows kids starting a football game across the India-Pakistan border. Except that the Israeli ad actually gets a few snorts and a comeback “response video” showing what would really happen if Palestinians dared kick a football across a fence.

Pick a side by Mango Girl
June 29, 2009, 2:07 pm
Filed under: Desiland, Politics, Religion, Social issues

Communities that practise both Hindu and Muslim religious customs were much more common in India once than they are now – the result of a pragmatic approach to blessings that would hit up any deity or saint or saint’s tomb for a divine favour. Much has been written about how the distribution of elected assembly seats by religion in the early 20th century and the colonial census aimed at defining people in terms of a single religious identity eroded some of this ‘composite’ religious culture. But religious revivalists on all sides also do their share in competing over ‘mixed’ groups.

[T]he 10-lakh strong community of Cheetah-Kathat-Mehrat — spread over the four districts of Ajmer, Bhilwara, Pali and Rajsamand in Rajasthan — …are in a unique predicament over their religious identity. Descendants of the Chauhan rulers, the community took to Islam about 700 years ago, and adopted only the three practices of dafan, khatna and zabiha (burial, circumcision and eating halal) from the religion. The rest of their lifestyle — names, marriage rituals, dressing styles — continued to be the same as Hindus.

So even though Shanti and Mithu call themselves Muslim they retain their Hindu names, and at their wedding a decade ago, took the pheras (circling the fire). Shanti still likes to wear the ghaghra-choli, and her son Sikander’s ‘school name’ is Hitesh.

Explains Maulana Qasim Rasul Falahi, 34, a member of the Cheetah Kathat Mahasabha, a pressure group for the community, “The Cheetah-Kathats used to stay in the jungles, which meant that until two decades ago, despite being Muslims, we didn’t even know how to offer namaaz or celebrate Eid.”

Religious leaders attribute the rise of ‘consciousness’ to the religiously charged atmosphere of the 80s, when the VHP, and Muslim outfits like the Rajasthan Deeni Talimi Trust and Tablighi Jamaat started intensifying their activity among these ‘in-betweeners’. “With funds from the Gulf, they were trying to convert the Kathats. It became a question of protecting the Hindu samaj (society), so we started teaching them about their past,” says Umashankar Sharma, 59, a VHP leader who has conducted several sammelans (mass meetings) to “make them Hindus”.

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Moral beggar-thy-neighbour by Mango Girl
June 9, 2009, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Arab world, Religion, Social issues

Bahrain is attempting to shed its image as a playground for wealthy Saudis looking for the booze and hookers they can’t get back home, and under pressure from Islamists who use the rationale that “family tourism” is more profitable than sex tourism, is pressuring hotels and tourist establishments to stop serving alcohol and stop allowing prostitutes to ply their trade. Isn’t it silly that they should attempt to turn into Saudi Arabia after seeing what extremes the ridiculously stringent ‘moral’ laws in Saudi drive its citizens to?

Full article after the jump.

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Obama on fair-weather democrats by Mango Girl

One part of Obama’s otherwise predictable, unexceptionable “I’d like to teach the world to live in perfect harmony” speech that got my goat was:

[T]here are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy

Followed, in case you didn’t get it, by commentary on religious freedom. Now look here – you can go on all you like about how the Islamists risk being intolerant and undemocratic when they come to power, and raise the old “one man one vote one time” canard, but till you acknowledge that what the current regime is doing, i.e. talking the talk of defending freedom and tolerance while brutally suppressing dissent and throwing people in jail for expressing themselves, is as bad as anything we might fear from whoever comes next, you risk looking like some idiot who tells people to stay in a collapsing house because there may be an earthquake if they go outside. Obama may have been wise not to comment on the Egyptian dictatorship and police state if he couldn’t follow up his words with policy, as Condoleezza Rice learned in 2005, but this part of the speech must have sounded ridiculous to all the students in the audience who have seen their friends and colleagues roughed up, arrested and intimidated for not toeing the government line.

Using religion to justify torture by Mango Girl
June 1, 2009, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Arab world, Democracy and Human Rights, Religion

Alaa al-Aswany recalls a conversation with a pious State Security officer:

“Excuse me. You are religious, it seems,” I said.

“Thank God.”

“Don’t you see any contradiction between being religious and working in State Security?”

“Where would the contradiction arise?”

“People detained by State Security are beaten, tortured and raped, though all religions prohibit such practices.”

He started to get emotional and said: “First, those who are beaten deserve to be beaten. Second, if you study your religion thoroughly, you will find that what we do in the State Security department is fully compatible with Islamic teachings.”

“But Islam is a religion that safeguards human dignity.”

“That’s a generalization. I have read Islamic jurisprudence, and I am well aware of its provisions.”

“There’s nothing in Islamic jurisprudence that makes it legitimate to torture people.”

“Listen to me until I finish, please. Islam has nothing to do with democracy or elections. Obedience to a Muslim ruler is a duty for his subjects, even if he has usurped power, is corrupt or unjust. Do you know how Islam punishes those who rebel against their rulers?”

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What terrorists and their opponents can learn from the LTTE by Mango Girl
May 24, 2009, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Conflict, Desiland, Ethnic and identity politics, Nationalism, Turrrsm

An interesting article on how the LTTE pioneered certain terrorist techniques such as IEDs, suicide bombings and so on, and what al-Qaeda learned from them. The point about using women who would be least suspicious to carry out bombings is a bit off because it was the Algerians who pioneered that. The point about how bombing civilians alienates one’s support base is an intriguing one – because while that is, in many cases, true (it led many Iraqi Sunnis to support the Awakening against the Sunni resistance), the truth is that nothing succeeds like success, and groups that have attacked civilians brutally enough, like the Israeli Irgun back in the day, or even the Sri Lankan government recently, have achieved their goals.

I don’t think anyone assumes that crushing the LTTE will suffice to quell Sri Lanka’s Tamil resentment forever. Perhaps the more important question to explore is when the actors in a conflict find their fates bound closely enough that any settlement really must assure all parties that their interests will be provided for in order for in order to stop violence. A civil war cannot be reduced to fighting terrorism.


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