World Affairs

On Sunday, 7/11/2012, Onislam.net held in the Sixth of October City an in-depth press interview with Professor Abdul-Hamid Abu Sulayman, Director of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, on the following topic: "Limits to the relationship between the freedom of faith and freedom of expression from an Islamic perspective", on behalf of the Onislam.net gate, for both its versions, Arabic and English.

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In his analysis of the predicament of the contemporary non-religious man, Albert Einstein says: “The crux of the crisis relates to the relationship between the individual and the community. The attitude of the individual toward the group makes him blow up his individual motivations while his communal motivations — which are weaker — gradually deteriorate. People, who are prisoners of their selfishness, feel that they are living in anxiety and seclusion and that they are deprived of enjoying the social life. In fact man cannot find a meaning to his short life if he did not give from himself to the society.” When Victor Frankl built the third school for psychological treatment in Vienna, following the two previous schools set up by Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, he established the school on his own theory about the primary motivation behind the human conduct. Frankl’s motivation is different from that of Freud (desire for pleasure) and of Adler (desire for power). The motivation for Frankl is to find a meaning of life. He does not believe that “pleasure” can be the motivation for the human behavior but a result of it. He does not also believe that “power” is the ultimate end for the human behavior but a means to it. He believes that the society will turn into a sick case when pleasure and power become the dominant forces.

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Over the last few years we have been witnessing a dangerous drift that seems to widen the chasm between civilisations. The process of meaningful bilateral and multilateral dialogue has virtually ceased. In the void thus created have grown mutual suspicions, hatred and hostility.

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Last week the media (national and international) carried a scary message supposedly released by Osama bin Laden. Mr bin Laden was reported to have threatened reprisals against some European countries for their sustained slander campaign against Islam and Muslims.

At the outset let it be clear that Islam, as understood by most Muslims worldwide, is not about reprisals. Another clarification is in order here: We don't endorse Mr bin Laden's prescription for setting things right, nor do we share his worldview.
 

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Every year finance ministers and commerce ministers of scores of countries gather under the auspices of World Economic Forum (WEF) to discuss commerce and trade issues that affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide. National contingents include bureaucrats, activists and endless number of national and international NGOs.

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Within a week's time we have heard the same words from the US President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Iran. First Mr. Bush declared grandly that regarding Iran's nuclear ambition, "all options is on the table". And within the next few days Mr. Olmert told a high-level committee of Israeli officials the same thing in the same words.

The International Herald Tribune reported that the committee meeting was not open to the media, but one of the participants told the Tribune reporter on condition of anonymity what Mr. Olmert had communicated to them. By "all options on the table" Mr. Bush and Mr. Olmert mean they would launch a military attack on Iran together or singly if it refuses to follow their orders.

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America's handling of the Middle East situation is fraught with risks for it, Israel, the Middle East and the rest of the world, observes DR M MANZOOR ALAM
 

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The declaration of Emergency in Pakistan could be an indicator of more difficult days to come. The extreme measure restored to by President Pervez Musharraf makes democracy – popular rule, functioning of independent legislature, judiciary and media – a distant prospect as all of them are in suspended animation now.

As usual the United States and its Western allies are firmly behind the person who has done this, that is, President Pervez Musharraf. The US loves to claim that it stands for democracy (that is how it justifies its occupation, and destruction, of Afghanistan and Iraq), but on the ground it does the exact opposite by backing dictators and justifying occupation.

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One of the welcome trends in international affairs in 2006-2007 has been the gradual inching of Kosovo towards independence from Serbia and (in the mid-term) statehood. However, the process seemed extremely complicated, much of the complication having been created by Serbia, which though guilty of massive ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars, still tried desperately to cling to the territory.

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President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan filed his nomination papers on September 27 amid protests from the Opposition and a wave of arrests. Faisal Hashmi looks at the Pakistan scenario over the last several months, from mid-2006 onwards.

Through much of the year 2006 till the writing of this piece Pakistan, a significant Muslim country in terms of its high quality human resource and technological development, had been passing through a bad patch.

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BAGHDAD: Reports of the poor health among high-ranking Iraqi politicians are being seen as symbolic of the popular mood here about the U.S.-backed government.
 

In late February, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was flown to neighbouring Jordan for medical treatment amid conflicting reports about his health. Sources in Amman and from Talabani's office in Baghdad told reporters that the 73-year-old had suffered a stroke, but in a televised interview his son said that Talabani was suffering from fatigue or exhaustion.

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 The vast majority of Iraqis live by the Euphrates river, and the Tigris with its many tributaries. The two rivers join near Basra city in the south to form the Shat al-Arab river basin. Iraq is also gifted with high quality ground water resources; about a fifth of the territory is farmland.

"The water we have in Iraq is more than enough for our living needs," chief engineer Adil Mahmood of the Irrigation Authority in Baghdad told IPS. "In fact we can export water to neighbouring countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan -- who manage shortages in water resources with good planning."
 

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In the face of a critical Senate debate on future U.S. strategy in Iraq, neo-conservatives and other hawks are trying to rally increasingly sceptical -- and worried -- Republicans behind continued support for President George W. Bush's five-month-old "surge" strategy, writes Jim Lobe from Washington.


They are arguing that the surge -- the deployment of an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to try to pacify Baghdad to encourage political compromise among the major groups in Iraq -- has not been given sufficient time to work and that abandoning it now would amount to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

 

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Over the last few years the Islamic obligation of jehad has been erroneously turned into a cottage industry. Individual Muslims and the tiniest of "organisations" (often containing no more than the family members of the  "founder") have taken upon themselves the duty of waging jehad most likely against the Muslim state itself in which such persons and groups are based.

There are quite a few things to be understood here. First, mostly these are individual efforts of freelance warriors, or those of ragtag bands with nothing substantial to glue them together. They cannot stand before the sustained assault of an organised national army, navy, air force, paramilitary units and special forces. They don’t have the advantage of eye-in-the sky cameras orbiting in space and feeding military intelligence to the armed forces headquarters of a country round the clock as well as unmanned aircraft flying over rebel formations and transmitting crucial data to the command headquarters. All that makes launching and sustaining an effective attack against rebels more viable.

 

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George W. Bush is undoubtedly the most genuine representative of a system of terror forced on the world by the technological, economic and political superiority of the most powerful country known to this planet.  For this reason, we share the tragedy of the American people and their ethical values.

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"Zaytoun" is the name of a plant in Arabic. In English it is known as olive. Its significance can be imagined from the fact that it has been mentioned in the Holy Quran. Allah Ta’la in a verse swears by it and calls Makkah "Baladil Amin" (City of Peace). That’s why the branch of Zaytoun has become a symbol of peace. Interestingly, this olive branch seems to be common to both Fatah and Hamas. Fatah leader and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat had in his historic speech at the United Nations General Assembly delivered on November 13, 1974 said: "Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun.

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 FAISAL HASHMI discusses a subtle change in Islamic theological stance that has the potential to unite the Muslim world by minimising sectarian squabbles.

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The Muslim world heaved a sigh of relief when Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement last week in Makkah to form a national unity government. The agreement signed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Chief Khalid Mashaal sent home signals to the fighters of the two sides to stop killing each other.

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DR MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM agonises over growing division between Muslims, and pleads for unity in the larger interests of the Ummah

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There is a marked increase in the opposition to the Iraq war from US Congress, American citizens and sensible persons from across the world, but President George Bush is still adamant to “stay the course”. Instead of bringing coalition forces back from Iraq, President Bush has recently announced to send more troops there. This is why people are calling him a “dictator” – one who does not care for public opinion.

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In the first week of November 2006 the science journal Nature published a special issue on science in the Muslim world. It was a collection of several reports by specialists that took stock of scientific and technological education in the Muslim world as well as research laboratories and other intellectual and artistic activity.

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North Korea’s nuclear weapon is horribly immoral, India-Pakistan’s are barely acceptable, Israel’s are very very reasonable, France’s, UK’s, Russia’s and China’s are harmless, and US weapons are holy, beyond reproach. “This is terrible duplicity”, argues MOHAMMED ATAUR RAHMAN

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ON OCTOBER 6 the Danish state TV showed video clips of fresh cartoons of the holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The cartoons were drawn by members of the youth wing of Danish People’s Party that tried (foolishly enough) to "humiliate" the prophet.

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Since September 11 attacks, Muslims living in America and Western countries have become the subject of constant discussion and a cause of worry for others. They have been living in fear, which has been compounded by massive bomb blasts in Madrid and London.

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The unfortunate controversy raised by Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks in Germany last week has brought to fore the long and intricate relationship between Islam and Christianity. Muslims worldwide heaved a sigh of relief when the dust of the storm kicked by the remark began to settle down with the official declaration of regret by the Vatican on September 16, and a personal apology a day later from the pope himself.

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Lebanon war revives Arab nationalist feelings, not of a socialist-secular Nasserite vintage, but of a universal Islamic kind.

Some observers see the post-war surge in Arab national pride as rebirth of Arab nationalism that had begun to fade after the 1967 Arab-Israel war. By the time Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser died (September 28, 1970), the idea of Arab nationalism had receded considerably.

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TODAY, GEORGE W. BUSH said, "Islamo-facists are trying to use any means to kill us because they hate the freedom we all love."

Yes, Islamic terrorists are trying to kill us. But why? Islamic terrorists are trying to kill us because our government has been funding and arming Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine for decades now.

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Israel, which had never really left occupied Palestinian territory, is back in Gaza. A just solution is

still very far from sight, writes DR. MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM

The Palestinian-Israeli situation is typical of all occupations. The occupier creates the impression that it is doing a great service to the people under occupation and that the freedom fighters are a set of rascals who have to be put in their place.

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I am amazed at Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of the US Episcopal’s Church’s remark that "homosexualism is no sin". A recent Reuters report from Washington said she had observed that "homosexuals were created by God to love people of the same gender".

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At the turn of the century, we are living in a moment of “virtual reality” an interface between reality and its image. They are so close and so much alike outwardly (yet so unlike in their innate nature) that any moment the image can become the substance. In fact, elbow the substance out. The image has already done so: it has become the substance. The media has become the message.

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Multiculturalism, as a distinctive model for the management of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, emerged in the West in the wake of the great migrations of the post-War period. Canada and Sweden were the first nations to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy in the 1970s. Subsequently, many European countries followed suit. The process of globalization brought about a good deal of exposure to ethnic and religious diversities as well as inter-cultural sensitivity, thanks to large-scale international migrations, modern information and communication technologies, and the intermingling of people from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.

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The resounding victory of Palestinian freedom fighters’ group, Hamas, in parliamentary elections marks a turning point in Middle East history. As usual it has raised eyebrows from Tel Aviv to London, Rome to Washington.

Once again the West is over-reacting to a rather understandable phenomenon. Before reacting in their set, habitual ways, they should take into account the fact that Hamas has been voted by a people under occupation, a people who despite the severity of their situation, have preponderantly favoured peace.

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US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in his typical self-glorifying manner, proclaimed at the outset of this month that newspapers and other media had burgeoned in Iraq after the removal of Saddam Hussein. It, according to him, proved that democracy was flourishing there.

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Over the last few months we have seen too much of ill-will over Iran’s perfectly legitimate bid to develop an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle technology for peaceful purposes.

This, as I have asserted already, is a perfectly legitimate activity that is in consonance with the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Iran is a signatory. This fact was also presented before the UN General Assembly last month by the Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinijad at the Millennium Development Goals summit.

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The recent three-day world summit at the UN could barely agree on “modest reforms”, but major issues of poverty, development and security remained largely unaddressed, writes Mohd. Zeyaul Haque

At the largest-ever gathering of world leaders (more than 150) at the UN last week that coincided with the 60th anniversary of the world body a 35-page document was endorsed that left crucial issues of poverty and security largely unaddressed. However, the leaders agreed on a peace commission to help countries emerge from war and facilitate transition to peace and reconstruction.

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Before the Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana the world did not know that such pockets of poverty and hopelessness as Louisiana existed in a flashy, post-modern America. The world was also not aware of the Bush Administration’s monumental capacity for callousness.

Five days after the hurricane hit Louisiana, IPS correspondent Jim Lobe reported the survivors had not got food or water, and the federal government had yet to intervene meaningfully. For the first time the world also realised that the massive civil rights movement (led by Martin Luther King) of the 60s had not really improved the quality of life of American Blacks beyond a point.

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Within the next few hours the world will be observing the anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre (WTC) and the US Defence Department headquarters, Pentagon, in Washington. Newspapers and magazines worldwide would be featuring analyses of the event and discussing what possibly could be done to ensure that it did not happen again. As usual, most of it would be wrong, either by design or because of a genuine mistake of diagnosis.

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The question “Why was Sheehan killed?” is getting too tough for President George W. Bush to answer. Even though Mr Bush was never very good at academics, he should have been able to answer this simple question. So far he has avoided a straight answer.

Casey Sheehan was a young US army officer who was killed in the totally unjustified campaign against the supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Casey Sheehan’s mother, the 48-year-old redoubtable activist Cindy Sheehan has since been asking President Bush and his administration as to why was her son killed in a war which has nothing to do with justice, or with America’s interests.

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Things rarely happen in isolation. Every headline-grabbing event is part of a long sequence of similar events spread across decades and centuries and diverse territories across continents. The roots of the blasts in London may lie in Abu Gharib in Iraq, Guantnamo Bay in Cuba, Jenin in Palestine or somewhere on Pak-Afghan border. Likewise, the sequence of events, as rightly pointed out by Arundhati Roy in an earlier article, could lie in the racial memories of sustained Western high-handedness.

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President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan is a living oxymoron of sorts: he is a hardened Islam-baiter. This former communist ruler of Afghanistan is known to have resisted even normal, peaceful expressions of Islam, like growing a beard, or regularly visiting a mosque.

Karimov’s antics have often drawn flak from human rights groups. The world showed great outrage when his troops shot dead 700 protestors in the eastern Uzbekistan town of Andijan on May 13. A large gathering of civilians was protesting against the arbitrary arrest of 23 local businessmen. Earlier a mob had broken the local jail and freed the 23 businessmen, besides 1200 other inmates.

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The latest meeting between Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf took place on April 22 in Jakarta at a dinner hosted by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia in the honour of visiting Afro-Asian leaders on the occasion of a summit.

The ever-courteous Dr Singh is reported to have walked, along with his wife Ms Grusharan Kaur, up to Gen. Musharraf and his wife Sheba. Earlier Dr Singh had said that establishing good relations with Pakistan was the uppermost in his mind, a desire that was reciprocated by Gen. Musharraf.

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When the German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected the successor of Pope John Paul II on April 19, he inherited the goodwill of a large number of people. Many of those people are not Roman Catholic, some not even Christian. That is a plus point for the church that John Paul II had led for close to three decades with great distinction.

That could also be the problem of the 77-old new pontiff, who has assumed the papal name Benedict-XVI. His predecessor was one of those giants of history before whom even great men are likely to look small, a risk that Pope Benedict XVI will inevitably run. His predecessor had other, quite obvious advantages. To begin with, he was a highly athletic, fit person when he became the pope, and a full two decades younger than his successor was at the time of ascension.

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The second term of George W. Bush has potentials of immense harm to America, the world, as well as the Muslim world. It could also be a time of undoing most of the harm inflicted in the first term, writes DR MANZOOR Alam.

Now that President George W. Bush is firmly settled in his office in the second term as president of the United States, it is time for both the US and the rest of the world to take stock and figure out where we (the whole world) is headed.

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A historic vote in Israel's parliament to withdraw from Gaza has  been overshadowed by serious concern over the health of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

Just days after the Israeli press unanimously described the  highly contested vote in parliament in favour of a withdrawal from Gaza as ''historic'', the event has been eclipsed by a sharp deterioration in Arafat's health.

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So wrote Rudyard Kipling, the great champion of colonialism, nearly a century ago (The White Man's Burden by Rudyard Kipling, McClure's Magazine 12, Feb. 1899).

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One, and perhaps the only, message that the illegal American invasion and occupation of Iraq has sent to the people across the globe is that you must be strong or must have a genuine deterrence in order to survive in this maddening world. This is specially true if you happen to be richly endowed with natural resources or your geographical location is one of strategic importance. Being weak or deprived of deterring weapons is an open invitation to invasion and subsequent disaster. The bleeding Iraq is an eye-opening example.

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The dramatic Federal Court  decision to free jailed ex-Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim after six years of  incarceration will have far-reaching implications for Malaysia.

 There is more than one winner arising from the decision. Apart from giving Anwar a new lease of life, the court ruling will also provide a boost for the reformist credentials of Malaysia's new Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

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At best we can expect certain changes in the nuances of US foreign policy under John Kerry, but even those nuances can be vital for America's, and the world's, wellbeing , writes Dr. Manzoor Alam

The US presidential election of 1961 was a historic event in many ways. Democrat John F. Kennedy won the election trouncing his rival Republican Richard M. Nixon. Kennedy did not seem to be the public choice in the early phases. His chronic illness, his elitist background and, above all, his being a Roman Catholic were great problems holding him back. In a Protestant America his opposition made it a point that he would be taking orders from Vatican instead of keeping his own counsel. (A Roman Catholic US president was virtually  unthinkable then.)

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The Israeli government has thought of a novel way to compensate for Palestinian deprivation. For over two millennia, the Jews have been gathering at the last remaining wall of Solomon’s (PBUH) Temple to cling to it and wail over the destruction wrought by Romans. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (or war criminal Sharon, as his victims would describe him) has magnanimously decided that the Palestinians too must have their Wailing Wall, much before they are allowed to have a “state” of their own.

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Finally, we are face to face with the reality that we have dreaded the most. It is official now. Media experts at the latest World Social Forum meet in Mumbai conceded that the access to media for underprivileged classes and groups has become even more difficult now than, say, 20 years ago.

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Last week’s summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Islamabad showed once again that relations between the two regional powers -- India and Pakistan -- was crucial to the grouping's survival and growth. The gradual thaw in Indo-Pak ties thus bodes well for the region’s peace and prosperity.

Pakistan had set the ball rolling in December by suggesting that it was prepared to jettison the long-standing demand for a plebiscite in Indian Kashmir to determine whether the people in this Muslim-majority valley would like to stay with India or go to Pakistan.

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After Saddam Hussein’s Capture
 

After President Saddam Hussein’s capture two questions are being asked frequently: What will be the future course of resistance to American occupation, and what will be the future of Mr Hussein.

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June began with some hope for the long-suffering Palestinian people as the new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas began to engage with Israel, the US and other Mid-Eastern regimes to stabilise the Palestinian Authority and move towards the ultimate goal of creating a Palestinian state. 

Although people like Abbas are looked at with some suspicion as the quintessential quislings — like the present leadership in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia — hopes for some improvement in the Palestinian situation had begun to grow

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The closing decades of the 20th century witnessed the dawn of the multicultural era, characterised by the salience of cultural diversity and plurality, the coexistence of multiple ethnic and religious groups in most nation-states, and the universal acceptance of the principles of tolerance, peaceful coexistence in a democratic framework, and respect for human rights, including group rights.  Multiculturalism has been closely intertwined with the process of globalisation.  The great migrations of the post-War period, especially from Asia, Africa and Latin America to Europe and North America, brought about a significant alteration in the demographic and social composition of many Western countries.

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MALAYSIA AFTER MAHATHIR

After 22 years of stewardship of UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) as its president and that of Malaysia as its prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad steps down to enter history as one of the tallest Muslim leaders of the world and the builder of a new Malaysia.

 

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The chorus of condemnation targetting Dr Mahathir Mohammad’s alleged racial slur in his address at last month’s OIC meet at Putrajaya against Jews still continues. Among several other things, he had remarked that Jews make others fight proxy wars on their behalf. Quite a few people are feigning injured innocence. The US Department of State took no time to denounce Mahathir, as did the Italian foreign minister by condemning the speech in his capacity as foreign minister of Italy as well as by raising the issue at a European Union ministerial. The largely Jewish-controlled US media raised a storm over Mahathir’s remarks that is yet to die down.

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In mid-June a young Indian student of University of Massachussets Dartmouth was severely beaten up by four white racists. The attackers were shouting, “Go back to Iraq.”

The victim, Saurabh Bhalerao, pleaded he was not a Muslim from Iraq but a Hindu from India. His pleas fell on deaf ears. Bhalerao was hospitalised for days after the attack.

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The World Social Forum meet in Mumbai changes the emphasis of international political discourse from terrorism to human freedom and welfare...

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By now it is quite clear that things are not going smoothly for the US and allies in Iraq. Nearly 250 occupation soldiers have been killed by Iraqi resistance fighters since President George W. Bush declared the war over on May 1. According to western estimates, 10,000-15,000 Iraqis have died in the unjust, uncalled for, and absolutely unjustifiable war...

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Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam, who stayed in Saudi Arabia for a decade after finishing his education, pays tribute to King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz...

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