Archive for June, 2006

The Logic Behind Supreme Court’s Anti-Bush Ruling

The Supreme Court of the United States of America yesterday ruled against President Bush’s plans to try Guantanamo inmates in military courts. This means President Bush has no alternative other than trying those suspects—of which only ten have been charged—in US civil courts. In this post I aim to explain the logic behind this decision.

The key controversy surrounding this case was whether or not to accept the Guantanamo inmates as prisoners of war; and, subsequently, whether or not to deal with them as per the provisions of the Geneva Convention. President Bush and company refused to deem them prisoners of war, and, therefore, refused to treat them according to the Geneva Convention. The judges, citing article 3 of the Convention, ruled that Al-Qaeda combatants are prisoners of war and that they deserve treatment according to the Geneva Convention.

Article 3 provides:

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

  1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.”

The military tribunals, carrying out the trials of the detainees, are authorized by President Bush to:

  • Provide evidence acquired by torturing the defendants
  • Assert pressure on the defendants’ attorneys otherwise not allowed in civilian courts
  • Keep parts of the trial secret from the defendant.

However, all three of these authorities provided by President Bush are against the Geneva Convention. Again, according to the Convention:

… the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Hence, the judges ruled President Bush’s decision to try Guantanamo inmates in military tribunals illegal. However, it may reasonably be inferred, that the suspects kept at Abu Ghraib and Bagram (Afghanistan), may also have to be tried in civilian courts.

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Disturbing News From Iran

This bit of news, depicting the maltreatment of Afghan refugees in Iran, has almost gone unnoticed.

HERAT CITY, June 18 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Bodies of seven Afghans, killed in the Iranian city of Shiraz, have arrived … The seven people, who were members of the same family, had gone to Iran to seek the hand of an Iranian girl for a boy named Noor Ali. However, father of the girl, in connivance with his associates, allegedly shot dead all the seven people, including the would be bridegroom, his mother, two brothers and three cousins. Read the rest of the story here.

 

Comments and analysis on this issue will be posted shortly.

Afghanistan’s Successful Tour of England

Afghanistan's nascent cricket team was on tour of England this June. It played against regional teams in England and displayed an impressive performance wining five out of the six matches played. It is a landmark victory for cricket in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, two Afghan players, Mohammed Nabi and Hamid Hassan, had so much impressed England's Marylebone Cricket Club in a match in India that they were recruited to play for the team.

Afghanistan came into contact with cricket when millions of Afghan refugees crossed the border during the civil war to Pakistan, a cricket-crazy country. Cricket was also one of the very few sports allowed by the Taliban's Vice and Virtue Police.

Cricket is now believed to be the third largest participant sport in Afghanistan after Buzkashi, the national sport, and soccer. There around 22 registered provincial cricket clubs and around 12,000 registered players across Afghanistan. The Afghan cricket team is registered with ICC, cricket's international governing body.

Afghanistan seems to be making progress by leaps and bounds in sports. Earlier this year, Afghanistan won a four-nation soccer tournament beating teams from Pakistan, Tajikistan and Iran. Afghanistan also displayed impressive performance in tae kwon do in the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games held last year in Pakistan.

Related Links:
" Afghans Make England Tour Debut (BBC Sport)
" Afghan Cricket Federation in England (Lords.org)
" Cricket: Afghan Tour Yields Unlikely Success (The Observer)


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June 20: World Refugee Day

June 20 was the World Refugee Day. Did anyone notice it? Despite being an Afghan refugee and a member of the largest single refugee group in the world, I didn't notice it come and go. Although I do not believe in the symbolic efficacy of the day, I do believe that if such days are marked properly with awareness programs, a real change can be brought about in the lives of refugees.

I believe that in an overwhelming number of cases, people become refugees when the profits of a multinational corporation are at stake or when a number of immoral, corrupt leaders play dirty politics on the international arena. However, I also strongly believe in the power of the collaborative strength of the human beings as an agent for real change. Therefore, when a day such as this is used to educate the general public and urge them to take action, it can have a real impact on the lives of the refugee population of the world.

The people, especially those of the first world, must know that by donating money to charities and/or feeling sorry at the plight of destitute people shown on their TV screens, no significant change can be brought about. Begging cannot be finished by giving money to beggars; it doesn't fulfill the beggar's consistent need for money and facilities. As the old Chinese saying goes: "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”

Real change comes when the root causes are addressed. And when the root causes are corrupt politicians or corporate profits, the people must mobilize to fight them and strive to create an environment in which refugees are able to earn a subsistence.

No Radical Islam, Only Radicalized Muslims

All religions are open to more than one interpretation. This ambiguousness causes them to split into groups and sub-groups disguised as sects and sub-sects. Often militant-minded, extremist religious groups interpret religions to justify their actions. This means a religion in itself may not be radical, but the way it is interpreted makes it so. Christian Identity groups in Christianity and Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Hinduism are some groups which use religion to justify their extremist agendas.

The creation of Al-Qaeda by the United States was a step in the direction of creating one such group. Al-Qaeda not only interpreted Islam militantly, but also used it to radicalize and inspire many Muslims to join them.

The American war on terror strengthened Al-Qaeda's claims of being the only true representative of the Muslim world. From a Muslim perspective, America killed innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq and no Muslim country spoke. The Koran was desecrated and no significant action was taken. Unfair trade and diplomatic double standards made the feeling worse. Poverty, lack of education and absence of basic amenities of life were some other factors which made life hard for these people.

This situation of frustration and chaos was exploited by Al-Qaeda, which, by releasing its inspirational videos and pamphlets, using its cogent mullahs in the neighborhood mosques, and, most importantly, taking retaliatory action in return to the 'subjugation', portrayed itself as the only ray of hope in the backdrop of silence from many Muslim governments. This means Al-Qaeda kept (and still keeps) getting the crucial supply of disillusioned, frustrated young Muslims who want to wage a 'holy war' against the Western 'oppression' and die as 'heroes' and 'martyrs'.

The scenario here indicates that a group of extremist Muslims and its radical interpretations of Islam, with support from America, turned international. The economic and political dynamics in the Muslim world, influenced by American policies, worked in their favor. An increasing number of simple desert dwellers, for which Islam was only a five-times-a-day of prayer, grew discontented and set out on a conquest to spread Islam all over the world and prove its supremacy. Hence, the followers of Islam were turned into radical beings by the political and economic circumstances of their countries. This radicalization causes Islam–a religion teaching its followers to be good Samaritans–to be interpreted as a radical religion.
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Amazing!

It is an old Socialist maxim that everything is a reflection of economy. However, this was certainly not the case with the economically poor Ghanaians today as they beat the world number-two Czechs with a very convincing margin of 2-0 in the soccer world cup.

With a goal in the second minute of the match, the Ghanaians were super-charged as they launched attacks against the Czechs, who couldn't play as well as they were expected to and launched only a miniscule number of attacks.

A wrong tackle in the penalty area by the Czechs gave a chance to Asamoah, the Ghanaian striker, to score his second goal. However, he missed the penalty. Seven yellow cards and one red card–a sign of how roughly the game was played–were allotted to the players.

Ball possession was almost equal between the two teams, but the offensive Ghanaians had 10 off-sides compared to only four from their adversaries. A large number of missed chances from the Africans and a heroic display of goalkeeping by Petr Cech, the Czech goalie, saved his team from a greater agony.

The Czech team is comprised of experienced and aged players. The team also has played 9 times in the world cup. The Ghanaian team is playing its maiden world cup and is comprised of players mostly in their early 20s.

This upset is reminiscent of Senegal's one-nil victory over France in the '98 World Cup and a reminder of the fact that Africa can potentially be a hub of soccer in the future.

Why Frustrated Muslims are So Frustrated

If not already, you are likely to meet or hear some Muslims who think the West, particularly America, is waging a war against Islam. They believe the West is systematically waging a 'crusade' against their religion by defaming and demonizing it. They also think there is a program running to politically and economically isolate the Muslims and subjugate them to exploit their rich natural resources.

While to a person in the West this may seem too farfetched a conspiracy theory, a considerable number of Muslims, who are illiterate and somewhat indoctrinated, have some really 'good' reasons to believe so.

First, they say, the Americans created terrorist agencies like Al-Qaeda and strengthened them to wage a jihad against their ideological and political enemy-the Soviet Union-in Afghanistan. Then, when the Soviets were ousted, they left the country to plunge into chaos in the hands of the Jihadis and terrorists they had created.

Afterwards, they launched a number of attacks through these terrorists on embassies, important buildings, cities and commercial centers around the world. These attacks were justified through the terrorists to be Islamic in an attempt to portray Islam as a religion of intolerance and bloodshed.

Then, they desecrated Islam's religious texts to incite violence among ordinary Muslims, whose reactions were used to demonize Islam even more. To further incite violence and exploit it, they satirized the Prophet of Islam.

In the meantime, they also politically pressurized Islamic countries to further their own ends. They, for example, bombed critical pharmaceutical companies in Sudan, kept a strict check on Libya's military activities, subjugated Iraq, favored India over Pakistan, kept the Palestinians under censure, turned Kashmir into an arena for state-sponsored terrorism and whatnot. Additionally, Israel, which stands in defiance of 69 United Nations Security Council resolutions, is aided and favored–despite its undeclared-nuclear-state status–over Iran. Additionally, Muslim countries like Pakistan, Kuwait, Egypt, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia have been turned into virtual military colonies.

There is no significant Islamic country with a voice in the world. Iran, which, tried to build a nuclear weapons program in the past (by America's own incentive) in a bid to assert itself, has been isolated and turned into a pariah.

All these factors and the anti-Islamic coverage of the media helped turn Islam into a highly abominable demon with its followers equalized to hatemongers, extremists, anti-West conspirators and a threat to world civilization and culture. In almost every country in the world, Muslims are harassed, mocked and socially segregated. A man with a beard and moustache is thought of as a terrorist linked with Al-Qaeda. Muslims are killed everyday in large numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan in return for bogus theoretical ideals such as 'freedom' and 'democracy'. What a humiliation.

Muslim youths are being deviated from the right path by the production and dissemination of immoral and alien books, magazines, CDs and movies. This has led to a growing trend of cultural alienation, which will subsequently lead to their cultural and civilizational demise.

The voices of the moderate Muslims are not heeded.

These problems, aided by poverty, low literacy rates, high unemployment, a sense of being powerless and humiliated, etc are making the Muslims very frustrated.

Disclaimer: This post may not completely represent the views of every Muslim individual, but it does, however, give a decent peek into an average Muslim's thoughts.

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I no longer update this weblog due to academic and other preoccupations. However, feel free to browse through its older entries. Thanks.
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This is a weblog where a journalism enthusiast Afghan student writes about hot contemporary issues from an Afghan perspective. Enjoy your visit! Contact: mail . myscribbles @ gmail . com

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