Lots of advice for Obama on dealing with Muslims and Islam

December 22, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama has been getting a lot of advice these days on how to deal with Muslims and Islam. He invited it by saying during his campaign that he either wanted to convene a conference with leaders of Muslim countries or deliver a major speech in a Muslim country “to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular”. But where? when? why? how? Early this month, I chimed in with a pitch for a speech in Turkey or Indonesia.  Some quite interesting comments have come in since then.

(Photo: Obama image in Jakarta, 25 Oct 2008/Dadang Tri)

Two French academics, Islam expert Olivier Roy and political scientist Justin Vaisse argued in a New York Times op-ed piece on Sunday that Obama’s premise of trying to reconcile the West and Islam is flawed:

Such an initiative would reinforce the all-too-accepted but false notion that “Islam” and “the West” are distinct entities with utterly different values. Those who want to promote dialogue and peace between “civilizations” or “cultures” concede at least one crucial point to those who, like Osama bin Laden, promote a clash of civilizations: that separate civilizations do exist. They seek to reverse the polarity, replacing hostility with sympathy, but they are still following Osama bin Laden’s narrative.

Instead, Mr. Obama, the first “post-racial” president, can do better. He can use his power to transform perceptions to the long-term advantage of the United States and become a “post-civilizational” president. The page he should try to turn is not that of a supposed war between America and Islam, but the misconception of a monolithic Islam being the source of the main problems on the planet: terrorism, wars, nuclear proliferation, insurgencies and the like.

Also on Sunday, the Istanbul newspaper Sunday’s Zaman ran a piece by sociologist Dogu Ergil who spelled out what he thought “moderate Muslims” expected of Obama.

(Photo: Blue Mosque in Istanbul, 9 Dec 2008/Tan Shung Sin)

Moderate or non-ideological Muslims expect Mr. Obama to support democratic trends in their countries, but not to push them from above using ruling elites that will never adopt a democratic agenda but rather will simply play for time, making only cosmetic changes. This will, in turn, further reinforce the power of autocratic regimes that are threatened by genuine democracy.

Muslim moderates look at religion as a cultural affair, wanting to render it autonomous of politics so that it will be protected from political power and in the same way, preventing it from seeking political power. So they want the Obama administration to press their governments to enact reforms that will pave the way to democratic politics and legal changes that will allow for more individual freedoms. They do not want a hypocritical stance from an America which advocates democracy but supports the most authoritarian regimes in the Arab world for the sake of oil deals and other strategic ends. The Bush administration set a very bad example of paying lip service to democracy, which, in fact, worked as a vehicle to blackmail Arab regimes and served America’s strategic interests.

Michael Fullilove at the Brookings Institution made a pitch for an Obama speech in Indonesia in the New York Times while several Moroccan blogs have been running a campaign (including a petition with a long list of reasons) to have him speak there. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an exiled Egyptian sociologist and human rights who is a visiting professor at Harvard and Indiana universities, made the case for Indonesia or Turkey in the Washington Post.

Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador in the United States and Britain, has a long list of suggestions for a reformed U.S. policy towards the Muslim world in the Harvard International Review.  The list is fairly extensive, although it would have been even more informative if it had included suggestions for what should change in the Muslim world.

(Photo: Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, 21 Dec 2007/Mohsin Raza)

How Obama manages issues in the Muslim world will determine the success or failure of his foreign policy…

In the Muslim world … perceptions have been shaped by decades of uneven handed policies and by US double standards that placed the security of Israel and the need for cheap oil above considerations of international law and justice for the Palestinians. In essence, Muslims regard US policies as responsible for the trust gap between the United States and the Islamic world. In the West, opinions concerning the cause for the gap with the Muslim world are more mixed. The most common view attributes this rift in relations not only to US policies but also to factors internal to the Muslim world– to the weakness and contradictions in those societies and particularly to the democratic deficit, which allows radicals to build support for their cause. This, in fact, inspires the idea that the United States should lead efforts to restructure the Muslim world. Irrespective of the reality, both perspectives urge the need to review and recast US foreign policy.

My vote for the most interesting argument goes to Roy and Vaisse, who ask the basic question of what role religion actually plays in the big issues facing Obama.

The truth is, Islam explains very little. There are as many bloody conflicts outside of regions where Islam has a role as inside them. There are more Muslims living under democracies than autocracies. There is no less or no more economic development in Muslim countries than in their equivalent non-Muslim neighbors. And, more important, there exist as many varieties of Muslims as there are adherents of other religions. This is why Mr. Obama should not give credence to the existence of an Islam that could supposedly be represented by its “leaders”.

(Photo: Olivier Roy, 4 Dec 2007/Charles Platiau)

Who are these leaders that President Obama would convene anyway? If he picks heads of state, he will effectively concede Osama bin Laden’s point that Islam is a political reality. If he picks clerics, he will put himself in the awkward position of implicitly representing Christianity — or maybe secularism. In any case, he would meet only self-appointed representatives, most of them probably coming from the Arab world, where a minority of Muslims live.

Do you think Obama should launch a special initiative aimed at the Muslim world, or, as Roy and Vaisse argue, assert that “American values are universal and do not suffer any kind of double standard, and that they could be shared by atheists, Christians, Muslims and others”?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

It is not about anybody’s special values – it is about global values as they are laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They give us the common basis to be shared by all non-fundamentalists/non-radicals without considering their religious or ideological backgrounds or roots. If this large but silent majority could be given a voice and the means to let their words be followed by action the world might indeed become a better place some day. A first step in this direction might be to convene renowned human rights groups from across the world instead of putting American/Western values against those of Islam or whichever religion.

Posted by Saskia | Report as abusive

Barack Obama may or may not be successful on this one.
Anyway, here’s some timely advise for Muslims…

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

The debate over the trajectory of the western sociopolitical system and its strained relations with Islam is the most pivotal of our time. Muslims are in one of the most difficult phases of their history when malicious attacks including allegation of terrorism are being made on Islam and Muslims all over the world. The malicious campaign against Muslims is politically motivated. The world is obsessed by Islam. Anti-terror measures are ruining lives of Muslim youths. If you go around arresting young Muslims, you are going to find that you are going to ostracise this community. Young Muslims don’t need to be ostracized, they need to be engaged. According to the Arch Bishop, Rowan Williams, acceptance of some facets of Sharia not only “seems unavoidable”, but could actually improve social cohesion. Muslims should be able to choose to have marital or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia Court. Such courts should therefore be incorporated into the British legal system as a constructive accommodation with Islam. Schools are being asked to help “win hearts and minds” in the battle against violent extremists on both sides. British born Imams should go into schools to supplement the teaching of RE, PSHE and Citizenship so that all pupils can learn about the Holy Quran and Islam in the context of a multicultural society. OFSTED must make sure that their services should be fully utilised by the schools, otherwise, it will be waste of public money.

The British Establishment is wrong to assert that Imams and Masajid have been radicalising Muslim youths. The roots of extremism are in the British society and schools where institutional racism is at its peak. The racism within schools has got little media coverage. The school attended by 7/7 bombers in a part of Leeds known for its history of racial tension between British Asians and native Brits. Leeds council was so worried about the violence that it had to call in Foundation for Peace, a government funded peacekeepers who were used to keep Catholics and Protestants from killing one another in Northern Ireland. True message of Islam should be promoted because British media and society have always portrayed Islam in a negative way since Crusades and the siege of Vienna in 1683. School Curriculum should be used to convey a deeper understanding of Islamic faith, history and culture. Prison is not the answer of those who are vulnerable to, or are being drawn into violent extremism unless they have clearly committed an offence.

The greatest challenge to humanity is learning to live in a crowded and interconnected world that is creating unprecedented pressures on human society. The rector of Oxford’s largest Anglican Churches has called a Muslim call to prayers from the main Masjid “un-English”. This is a clear case of intolerance. Gibraltar is a British colony. Five Pound currency note has a queen image on one side and on the other side there is an image of the Muslim Conqueror with a sword in his hand. There is more hatred of Muslims seduced by the Western media, education system and church leaders like Bishop Nazir Ali. Catholic nuns have worn veils for centuries, with no public controversies arising. There is no reason why any girl’s school uniform can not now be modified to include a veil. Wearing a veil to school or to work must be a matter of choice for all.
Iftikhar Ahmad

Posted by Iftikhar Ahmad | Report as abusive

Every single statement by Obama has an expiry date. Every one.

If he is true to form, this stupid idea will get dropped as well. Otherwise he is more arrogant and stupid than I think he already is.

Don’t believe the hype of your sycophantic colleagues: Obama is just another Chicago politician.

P.S. He can always go to Iraq.

Posted by saint | Report as abusive

He has to bring people together without them realizing it. Hard thing to do, cause you have people like Iftikhar above, who think its has to be all Western changes. Remember that the Western nations are still the “old” democracies on the block. Remember that Muslim countries are not on par in terms of development, social advances, etc.(no matter what the above blog may claim), with the Western nations. Sorry, may not be very pleasant to hear, but it is true.
Obama has to make these countries feel like they are benifiting from a globalized world, while their respective gov’ts will try to use religion to strangle the populations into feudalism. He has to make the nation of Islam believe that it is profitable and “right” to make lots and lots of money.

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

Simply to live up to the oath your about to take.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

it,s amazing to hear the indignity of some of the muslim posters,that people are miss judging them.can they tell me any where in the world where there is violence being perpetrated and muslims are not involved,and in iraq they killing each other.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Musilms friends or foe, to deal with and to bring stability and peace one should understand Islam and learn Islam (its faith & preachings) before understanding the issues relating to the muslim world and dealing with it in modesty. You cannot swim across if you dont get into it.

Posted by misa | Report as abusive

i found it rather strange that you tolerated the comments made by Brain lee and and still wants us to believe that you moderate comments that are offensive

Posted by Mohammed | Report as abusive

Mohammed, you don’t see the comments we reject. Those include comments that are libelous, pornographic, vulgar, vicious, paranoid and irrelevant. Many of them are about Islam, Muslims, the Koran and the Prophet Mohammad and they have no place on this comment page. Brian Lee’s comment pales by comparison. He makes one stunningly false statement — that Muslims are involved wherever violence breaks out in the world — and one that is factually correct, i.e. that Muslims kill Muslims in Iraq, but not all that relevant to the post itself. In a democratic debate, we don’t censor such views just because some readers might not like to hear them. They’re posted as part of the discussion and other readers are free to dispute them if they wish.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

[…] Henegan of the FaithWorld blog at Reuters gives us an excellent overview of the chatter surrounding Barack Obama’s plan for engaging the Muslim World, highlighting […]

Posted by Welcome | Project on Middle East Democracy | Report as abusive

It is sad that you have ignorant clowns like Brian who still give us the “holier than thou” garbage despite the Iraq War, War in Afghansitan, Oklahoma City bombings, the bombing of abortion clinics, the bombing of gay bars and yet somehow Christians are the ones who tolerate people and are non-violent.

I’m agnostic so I pretty much think all religions are silly but people can hold whichever stance the want and I won’t think of standpoint as better or more moral than another. That’s just prejudice at it’s finest and if we’re in the 21st century and not beyond that I dunno if we’ll ever be over it.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

America can send in 100,000 more troops to Afghanistan, shed plenty of more American blood and trillions of dollars of American tax payer money. But US WILL NOT get any results until and unless it stops believing in the fantasy that Pakistan is an “ally” in the “war against terror”. MOST OF PAK ARMY, ISI subscribe to pan-Islamic jihadi ideology, but presents a “moderate” faces of a few generals to America to collect American money.

And then they use this money to buy weaponry against India, simulataneously sponsoring terrorism in India as in the recent Mumbai attack.

Alternate supply routes to NATO troops not going through Pakistan should be immediately implemented. Pakistan’s army and ISI are playing a deadly double game and its population, despite living on dole from American and European “crusaders” has NO LOVE for America. Stop military aid to Pakistan ASAP if you want not to waste any more tax dollars and American blood.

Posted by Victor | Report as abusive

I don’t think that Barack Obama should give a speech to the muslim world. What would he say? The muslim world is not monolithic so his speech could not alter those muslims’ way of thinking that we most need to change.
I’m going to define Islamist as someone who pushes others to Islam through violence or coercion and who wants to see the world run under the political and religious system of Islam, namely Sharia.
“Moderate” muslims aren’t rising up and challenging Islamist’s use of violence in any meaningful way. CAIR is not doing ANYTHING against muslim violence but are seen as a moderate organization. I have yet to see CAIR issue statements condemning HAMAS or Hezbollah. So who does Obama think he is? Does he really think he can change the minds of these Islamists? Is he going to speak to these “moderate” muslims and get them to change their worlds for the better when they have yet to speak out against radical Islam? The people of these Islamic countries or so uneducated and know nothing of alternatives to Islam other than that they are haram. Advocating for Democracy in any of these Islamic countries will undoubtedly get you a theocracy that will set up Islam as the state religion and Sharia as the law of the land. The Islamists use of threats and violence will make sure of that.
I think that Obama will make a laughing stock of himself is he gives a speech to the Muslim world. I for one advocate the thinking of Thomas Jefferson when it comes to the Muslim world; stop paying the “jizya” to Islamic countries and hold the countries of the Islamic terrorists accountable for their actions. This could range from monetary redress for the attacks that they have done, political sanctions and embargoes to all out nuclear attack if necessary.
Islam as it was written, is said to be the word of Allah. If you can’t alter the word of Allah, Islam cannot be changed and the words in the Koran advocate that Islam must be superior to all other religions. Islam must be kept at bay as it has been for the past 1400 years, by force if necessary.

Posted by Karl | Report as abusive

I think we must remember jews and chrisians and muslim lived together in peace 700 years under the BLACKAMOORS
Westrners should see the hand on the wall islam has taken over most of the known world it,s over americans looked did not you see bush hand and hand with the arab dubai is the new hongkong jews are investing again with their arab brothers,no hate when we all clocking dollars haha.
So obama is a chicago south side player i remember him from back in the day because the church he went to my mother co founded/his minister was mine before i saw all the pimping christians and went back to islam(documentery in the works. for more info/ rasta77@web.de

Posted by Ishmael | Report as abusive

Breif introduction of Islam and muslims:

The literal meaning of Islam is peace; surrender of one’s will i.e. losing oneself for the sake of God and surrendering one’s own pleasure for the pleasure of God. The message of Islam was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) 1, 400 years ago. It was revealed through angel Gabriel (on whom be peace) and was thus preserved in the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran carries a Divine guarantee of safeguard from interpolation and it claims that it combines the best features of the earlier scriptures.

The prime message of Islam is the Unity of God, that the Creator of the world is One and He alone is worthy of worship and that Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) is His Messenger and Servant. The follower of this belief is thus a Muslim – a Muslim’s other beliefs are: God’s angels, previously revealed Books of God, all the prophets, from Adam to Jesus (peace be on them both), the Day of Judgement and indeed the Decree of God. A Muslim has five main duties to perform, namely; bearing witness to the Unity of God and Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) as His Messenger, observing the prescribed prayer, payment of Zakat, keeping the fasts of Ramadhan and performing the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Islam believes that each person is born pure. The Holy Quran tells us that God has given human beings a choice between good and evil and to seek God’s pleasure through faith, prayer and charity. Islam believes that God created mankind in His image and by imbuing the attributes of God on a human level mankind can attain His nearness. Islam’s main message is to worship God and to treat all God’s creation with kindness and compassion. Rights of parents in old age, orphans and the needy are clearly stated. Women’s rights were safeguarded 1,400 years ago when the rest of the world was in total darkness about emancipation. Islamic teachings encompass every imaginable situation and its rules and principles are truly universal and have stood the test of time.

In Islam virtue does not connote forsaking the bounties of nature that are lawful. On the contrary one is encouraged to lead a healthy, active life with the qualities of kindness, chastity, honesty, mercy, courage patience and politeness. In short, Islam has a perfect and complete code for the guidance of individuals and communities alike. As the entire message of Islam is derived from the Holy Quran and indeed the Sunnah and Hadith (the traditions and practices of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings on him) it is immutable in the face of change in time and place. It may appear rigid to the casual eye, in actual fact it is most certainly an adaptable way of life regardless of human changes.

Islam teaches that the path to spiritual development is open to all. Any individual who searches the One Creator can seek nearness to God through sincere and earnest worship; it is central to establishing a relationship with the Almighty. This positive message for humanity fills hearts with hope and courage.

At present there are 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide and they form the majority in more than 50 countries of the world. Today Islam is the fastest growing faith in the world – its beautiful message is reaching millions in the far corner of the earth.

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive


The passionate zeal with which Muslims Pursue their religion is an admirable thing & their faith in God explains how Hope can replace Despair like the sun pierces the darkest cloud.A religion which is pursued in the private lawns of one’s home would not be affecting anybody.The issue for Obama or civilized world to address is A)If you can organise your religion & want to spread it, in the same vein the muslim world should also allow spread of other religion in their country without charges of Aposacy that to me is equality not duplicity. Laws in the Muslim countries have death penalty for apostacy.If the Muslim world can’t agree to this, then the democratic world needs to retaliate by disenfranchising muslims from voting & also spreading their religion in the democratic world B)The world we live seeks equality freedom & justice whether you are in Africa or America, Justice for Muslim Ulema is they will organize protests against danish cartoons across the muslim world, but then the people who make nude photos of Hindu Gods continue to escape prosecution.To me sensitivity is a two way street. C)It is individual who needs to determine in his mind which is the most powerful god or the powerful religion,the role of state in this process should be divorced from religion it should be an arbitrator for laws which humanity needs where there is congregation of minds of different races,religion & coming with one charter for the world, if sharia is the law for the world then implement it for every one,if not implement some thing else don’t have multiple laws for personal rights in the world D)the role of Obama is to push that as a superpower they act responsibly & not pursue war in every continent rather they push agenda for change of equality,justice & liberty through the United Nation.Sanctions & War if it comes from UN to me will have more credence than comming from a super power.To me if the west can have a nuke weapon then for equality it also means Iran can have one also,we can’t say they are evil with a nuke weapon while we are saints E)There is genuine need for making UN more powerful than ever before & having legal system adjudicated by them in every corner of the world where liberty, freedom prevails.One of the first thing which UN perhaps can do is make sure there is a text book introduced in every college & school across the world about equal rights taught as a subject both in Islamic world as also the free world, the next generation when it sprouts can then advance human progress than getting themselves killed in dirty manipulation & politics of idealogical religious superiority.To me that text book will be the first weapon of defence over crazy forms of extremism from hinduism,christianity,islam or buddhism.F)Just as Osama Laden is fighting for his injustice to muslims i am sure you may not want to breed other forms of terrorist giving birth who can be as much devastating like him for rest of the world assuming they have also their forms of injustice which the muslim world is not addressing for them. G) Second world war was a perfect example where the concept of race superiority of Aryans was laid to rest with the triumph of reason & logic, this time it will be interesting whether you need another war to put this issue to rest or we can think of sanity prevailing.Obama surely can make a big difference for he had a mandate of change & he was the most popular person in the arab world also. I wish him success that peace,justice,freedom, equality prevails in this world.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

Hi Victor
Don’t just play blame game, India himself was involved in many state terrorism against their own people, please see the archives of “Samjhota Express incident” supported and masterminded by Indian Army Col. Prohat and his fellow army officers; Violence in Gujarat supported by Nirendar Modi Govt.; violence against Tamil Hindus even by the Hindus etc ( everything is on record).
Indians has their best hobby to blame Pakistan for each and everything wrong in India. Try to find your enemies inside your country not outside, those are extremist Hindu organizations.

I agree with Karl too, President elect Obama don’t need to address Muslims, but need to address, Israeli Army and try to change their minds to stop atrocities in Palestine, to Indian Army to stop killing innocent Kashmiris etc.
Problem is violation against oppressed communities which makes very neutral people violent too.
President elect Obama should try to stop the brutality against Muslims all over the world and make a major part of population in his favor and thereby make this world really peaceful. We are now tired of reading news of bloodshed, terrorism etc. Please do anything to bring peace in this world. That might be organizing a Muslim summit and asking for suggestion to solve the problem. That might be addressing Muslim world in some Islamic state for showing your concern etc.
The main point lies to bring peace by all possible means. More bloodshed will not bring peace but more and more destabilization.

Posted by Yasar Saleem | Report as abusive

To begin with, I think Obama’s idea of giving a major speech, rightly or wrongly, smacks of the arrogance that the world often attaches to American attitude. I think he should stop trying to be a kind of miracle healer to all and sundry and concentrate his efforts on 2 fronts 1. what ails the US and 2.how to better its foreign policy which is generally perceived outside America to be an unmitigated failure.

The suggestion of asserting the fact that US values are universal and all encompassing are a way forward, as long as this assertion is accompanied by action not mere words. For starters, US prestige in the international arena, not just in Muslim eyes (that would be the icing), would be greatly enhanced if Obama focussed and concentrated efforts towards solving the Palestine issue. If he can indeed be seen as an honest broker in trying to find an amicable solution he would have overturned decades of failed US policy and restored respect for the US. In my view, that needs to be his starting point, and if he gets it right the rest will follow as a matter of course.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

A lot of people commenting state that more people in the world should learn about Islam. This may be fine but why should people of other religions bother, because Muslims do not accept any other religions,but state that Islam is a tolerant religion. This sounds hypocritical to me. Just read the everyday news to learn of the terrible treatment of Christians living in Islamic countries. To Muslims , get your own house in order before you criticise other religions.


Posted by m willis | Report as abusive

The following is a list of measures that the new Obama administration should take to win the war against international terrorism and to get enhanced cooperation from responsible countries in the Muslim world:

1) Nominate Pakistan and India for permanent seats on the UN Security Council.

2) Create two international advisory groups whose sole purpose is the resolution of two 60 year-old conflicts: the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan.

3) Stop American drone bombings in Pakistani territory.

4) Offer Pakistan the same nuclear deal that was offered to India.

5) Venerate Muslim religious holidays in America the same way as we have designated Christian and Jewish Holidays.

It is my opinion that steps taken such as those above will have exponential beneficial effects upon the the relationship between America (an indeed the international community) and the Muslim world.

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive

Dear Mr. Tom Heneghan
You think it is perfectly OK to allow islamic propaganda published under “Breif introduction of Islam and muslims” by peace. But you will censor any one asking a basic question “Did God ever spoke to any one” All those prophets claiming to revealing God’s word are just good salesmen who sold an idea. Don’t you think any religion based upon concepts written 1000 years back for caravan people might not be good for rest of the world. Please be fair

Posted by Sugi | Report as abusive

To Sugi, I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean. Please be clear about what we are supposed to have censored and what we should be fair about.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

To Alethia:
Why stop here. How about
1. Permanent seat for Israel and Korea and soon Iran.And why not Japan. Believe me they can make nuclear bomb in one month if they want.
2.What about solving dispute of Tibat, Taiwan, Sri Lanka
3. Why not stop bombing twin towers, Bali, Kohl and Mumbai these all are linked with islam.
4. Why not offer same nuclear deal to Iran and Korea
5.What about holidays for Hindus, Chinese, Sikhs, Budhese, Ahmadias and Bahai

It is my opinion that steps taken such as those above will have exponential beneficial effects

Posted by sugi | Report as abusive

Dear Mr. Tom Heneghan
My reference was to my post submitted 2 days back where I asked “How islam makes you a better person” since there is lot of efforts from muslims to convert everyone to islam. Should we not ask in plain language ‘How it makes me a better person’? If Islam called for stoning death of 13 year old girl in Somalia, this fact should be enough for an outcry of the world and the UN. Which is missing.Instead here we are thinking how Obama can please islamic world.

Posted by Sugi | Report as abusive

Dear Sugi, I did not see that comment. There are several editors moderating these comments and this one was apparently handled by someone else. Please send it again now and I will look at it.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

To Sugi: The subject here is the relationship between the incoming Obama administration and the Muslim world, so I was keeping the focus on that.

Certainly, there should be other nations nominated to the UN Security Council, other international conflicts to resolve, other countries the USA should engage in peaceful nuclear development, and holidays of other religions venerated in America.

But the glaring thing about the relationship between America and the Muslim world is EXCLUSION of Muslim concerns and interests. All religions in the world should be INCLUDED be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Bahai, Jain, Parsi, Ahmadis, atheists and others.

Respect and inclusion are the keys to a harmonious world and a sure way to end conflicts.

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive

Sorry, Sugi, your comment was rejected because it started off with charges about Islam and Judaism that don’t belong here.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

To Sugi: There is one point that I would like make that is absolutely central to any debate on the realtionship between the new Obama administration and the Muslim world:

The overwhelming majority of Muslims are innocent. They cannot be blamed for the horrific deeds of terrorists. They have suffered the devastating effects of bombings, suicide missions and hotel and resort attacks like everyone else.

One of the reasons for INCLUSION of Muslim interests and concerns in the world decision-making process is to make it easier for innocent Muslims and America (and indeed the international community) to fight against the terrorists who lurk and kill in everybody’s midst.

So,innocent Muslims, the vast majority, are not quilty of the 9/11 tragedy, nor of the Bali bombings, nor of the Mumbai massacre. It’s the terrorists who are quilty for those inhumane attacks.

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive


I want to know do you support

A) Obama should push for same rights in America in rest of the world including muslim countries. Holidays for major festivals.

B) Can anyone practice any religion in muslim countries & also they can spread their religion in a fearless manner just like muslims can do in the US/other democratic country. If they don’t agree do you think muslims should be disenfranchised in democratic country & also they should be stopped from spreading religion in other countries.

c) Should there be one uniform personal law for every citizen or there should be different personal laws based on religion.Should that be basis for UN membership & trade with other countries.

D)Should international disputes be resolved by UN or US.Rather than having more mebers in security council why is it not better if the 5 permanent members be stripped of their veto rights itself. That is more fair since in that case a country like srilanka can also get represented as much as Jordan.

E) Should Obama push for time bound actions for all disputes.

Posted by tommy | Report as abusive

To Alethia & others who think Obama need a special education on islam:
USA is the best country in this world. May be not perfect but best. The govt does not interfere in anyone’s religion. Everyone is free to follow what ever he wants. Please understand it is not govt that makes Christmas a week long event it is just population. There are just more Christians and free enterprise caters to that demand. US Govt is not in the business of keeping Hindus Jews or Muslims happy by giving the religious holidays as Alethia is suggesting it should do. Neither US Govt is in the business of teaching other countries how to use nuclear power. One of the role which US Govt has is how to keep it’s citizens safe and help other like minded democratic countries. Islam is just another religion. Obama as a US president should not give any special treatment to islam. May be it is time islam has to learn how to live with rest of the world.

Posted by Sugi | Report as abusive

To sugi!!

Firstly this is the wrong forum to talk about “How Islam makes you a better person”. However if I am allowed to answer that, Islam is not a new relgion it is same religion that was handed to Jesus,Mosses then finally Muhammed (P.b.u.h. and all the other prophets). However it was slowly implmented on Earth as you can imagine a person can not change over night so is relgion.

She writes Islam called for stoning of a girl No, its the locals who orederd it not Islam. If you want to understand any religion not only Islam dont look at the actions of their followers but look at the scriptures. I thought someone living in the West was a bit more open minded. I was so wrong how ignorant, narrow minded, uneducated, drunken yobs there are.

What I find so funny the same people who traded in slavery, opressed other nations and robbed them of their wealth, now that they have become so called developed countries want to teach the world how to behave and live. I find it appaling who gives theses nations rights to impose their dirty democracy (NOT even true democracy) on other nations.

Let me tell you, so called developed nations have only in the last century given rights to women. However Islam gave women rights 1600 YEARS ago and that is a fact! Some people here refer that Islam was spread by sword well if it was then we (Muslims) ruled India for 800years but still Hinduism/Sikhism/Budism exist in India. Surely if the Muslim rulers wanted to they would have converted everyone in India. That is living proof Islam is not something you can impose on somebody it is their will n choosing.

Yes I agree action of some uneducated and foolish muslim is not right but does not mean we are all over billion living in every corner of the world are terrorist.

Anyway I would suggest her to read the books and the teaching and compare all the religions and the one gives her most appropriate n suitable answers. One should believe in that if they want to if not live like a athiest if you wish. As we will all go to our graves n their we all have to answer our own actions. Thanks

Posted by Magic786 | Report as abusive

Mr Tom,

“He makes one stunningly false statement — that Muslims are involved wherever violence breaks out in the world — and one that is factually correct”.

Indian army killing inncocent kashmiris, raping women, puting leaders under house arrest.. R they Muslims?

Israli Zionist regime killing inncocent Palestinians, Blockading all sort of humanterian goods getting through, the biggest open prison in the world gaza strip…R they Muslim?

Serbians who mascared Muslims under Europes nose and you still finding mass graves…R they Muslims?

Russians who have levelled chechnya and are involved in so many atrocities..R they Muslims?

USA bombing Iraq, before that has sanctions which only killed innocent children …R they Muslims?

USA/GB n NATO bombing wedding parties in Afghnistan the n deniying they even did it before it was proved that so many inncocent were killed..Were they Muslims?

I see double standard from top to bottom, in reporting for e.g. you watch sky news covering Palestine Israel conflicty they make the viewrs feel like it is Israel that is the victim and Palestinian are the aggressors I know anyone without a twisted mind knows who is the agressor.

Let me tell you when the so called nations who preach democracy, justice etc etc when they start seeing the world from same angale and no double standard there will be no violence. But till we see all this injustice in the world what do you expect? have you not heard the saying what goes arounf comes around!!!

Posted by Majid | Report as abusive

Response to sugi!!

How wonderful USA is, I think it WAS not is that is the difference.

Wasnt it USA, that Nuked the Japanese?

Wasnt it USA, that made a new rules how to handle POW and set a new record how to treat the POW, a perfect example Guatanmo bay or even better Abu Gharib.

Wasnt it USA n handfull countries that do not want to sign the use of cluster bombs?

Wasnt it USA that used Pakistan to dismantle USSR and then left the poor country to deal with it.

Wasnt it USA that has killed so many inncocent in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Wasnt It USA, that helped the same Iraqi dictator when he was fighting the Iranians?

So grow up I can go on a on anway if you think bunch of Lesbian and gays from USA are going to rule the world you are so wrong!!! Thanks

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive

To Tommy:

Your proposals are very thought-provoking and intelligent.

Before I respond to them, I would like to emphasize that the world is currently in state of conflict engulfing terrorist elements in the Muslim world and in a host other countries where innocent people from everywhere are being attacked in terrorist incidents. My proposals are based on stabilizing the current dangerous global situation to get on board in these battles all the responsible countries of the world (including the Muslim countries) and to remove any feeling of inequity which dwells among them.

So the stabilization of the world is uppermost in my mind.

Here is my response to your proposals:

A) Yes, there should be veneration of festivals in all countries representing all minorites. But the US should set a good example by doing so.

B) All countries should allow freedom of religion. One example which I’ll give is Saudi Arabia. They haven’t allowed any non-Islamic religious house of worship to be built; they should.

C) Some Islamic countries have personal laws that are religion-based by each community. That is their perogative, although I am happy with the fact that in the US we have only one personal law for all religions. No, I don’t think that UN membership should restrict entry for countries not having the same personal law for all religions.

D) Your point on all countries being represented at the UN is your most well-taken point. It’s a difficult question. I inherently feel that it is important to be all-inclusive, to include small countries. The UN Security Council mechanism is dictatorial to smaller countries. The veto power of only one member crushes any concensus. I agree with you. A better choice is to have a larger body of countries (25?) on a rotating basis every two years with a 2/3 majority needed to pass a resolution.

E) There should be a time limit set right from the start of each program to settle international disputes in the Obama administration.

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive

To Magic786: Lets talk Facts
1. “She writes Islam called for stoning of a girl No, its the locals who ordered it not Islam”

No dear Locals implemented what is written in quran.

2. “same people who traded in slavery”
Today there is not even one slave in USA. But even today you can find them in islamic countries.

3. “However Islam gave women rights 1600 YEARS ago and that is a fact”
Even after 1600 years women can not go alone out in Saudi Arabia. She can not drive or work. Most recent news was “A girl was ordered for lashing for getting raped in Saudi Arabia” Her crime she was traveling alone. So much for women rights.
Man can have four wifes.
Man can divorce by saying I divorce three times but women cannot do that.

4. “we (Muslims) ruled India for 800years but still Hinduism/Sikhism/Budism exist in India”

Spread of islam in India was stopped by Marathas and Sikhs. It is a fact that Sikhism was born because Kashmiri Hindus were ordered to accept islam and Sikh Guru’s reply was if logic does not work with your enemies it is time to pickup a sword to fight for right. So please don’t tell a lie that islam peacefully existed with Hinduism and Buddhism. it was stopped by force.

5. “action of some uneducated and foolish muslim is not right but does not mean we are all over billion living in every corner of the world are terrorist”

The foolish muslims are doing all this foolishness in the name of islam and claim they are true to word of quran

You decide who is “ignorant, narrow minded, uneducated, drunken yobs”

Posted by Sugi | Report as abusive

Majid, a blanket statement like the one that reader made needs only one case to prove it wrong. It can be called stunningly wrong when there are many such cases to disprove it, as there are in the world today. The statement “Muslims are involved WHEREVER violence breaks out in the world” means that Muslims are involved EVERYWHERE that violence breaks out in the world. Do you really think that?

If you only consider Muslim victims of violence — the only ones mentioned in your comment — that would seem to be correct. But there are not only Muslim victims of violence in the world. What about other cases in the news, like Hindu nationalist violence against Christians in India or the violent army suppression of the Burmese protests led by Buddhist monks? Or the violence of guerrillas like the FARC in Columbia? There were no Muslims involved in those cases, as far as I know.

On the other hand, there have been other recent cases of violence involving Muslims that don’t quite fit your argument. Think of the violence by Muslims against Iraqi Christians. Or Muslims killing Muslims in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan and elsewhere. You complain about double standards but don’t include these cases in your list.

My conclusion is that blanket statements like this, either about all Muslims being violent or all victims being Muslims, are one-sided arguments that obscure more than they explain.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive


My thinking is you can stop terrorism only if you decide to address the root cause. 3 Points which should be put by Obama to the islamic world is

1. Laws on Apostacy should be deleted in their statute. Every other religion should be allowed to spread in the muslim country as much as islam should be allowed to spread in other countries.

2. Personal laws are universal & UN should guarantee minimum rights for every citizen which is freedom to wear what they want, freedom to marry whom they want, freedom to practice whatever religion they want.Punishment should be humane not stoning,hanging or chopping limbs. Only if countries abide to these laws should they be allowed to be part of the UN. If they do not qualify then all other UN members should impose sanctions.

3. Un representation I agree to your point.Also i think to eliminate poverty across the globe certain sections of the society who earn above a threshold should be charged a special tax which goes to the UN funding which then distributes it to Poorer countries or people who can be removed from poverty. The justification for that should be their global security.

Once they guarantee these 3 things all disputes of major world issues ( of muslim countries ) should be referred to a arbitration panel of the UN & a definitive time frame needs to be given for resolution. If required referrendum in concerned countries which has to concede the awards has to be initiated so that politics can be eliminated.If Obama can achieve these things it would be the greatest blessing to mankind.

Let us see if reason prevails or a war will be imposed to drive these changes across the world.The movement of the people, by the people, for the people should win not the wills of distorted hate preachers of any religion.

Posted by tommy | Report as abusive

Dear Tommy,

If more people thought along your lines, this would be a better world.

I agree with the majority of your points. Seting up a poverty fund is a good idea, arbitration of disputes is a good idea. But implimentation of these programs could be a little iffy. But with good intentions and a little faith, perhaps the world can do it.

Whatever your religion is, I’m wishing you a Joyous and Happy Holiday!

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive


The Somalian girl complained of rape committed by 3 young men. The Al-Shabab group thought otherwise. That is not taken from the Quran. That’s twisted logic. And let me be specific on this…it takes 4 EYE witnesses to commit someone for ADULTERY (Not Rape and not ‘making out’). Which is virtually impossible.

It also happened to have a tribal element of which the accused were from.

So what the Al-Shabab group did…was not implemented from the Quran. They purposely made a false accusation.

Slavery actually exists everywhere, but not in name. Forced prostitution, labourers, etc. This is true in the States as well and is illegal. There is virtually no constitution anywhere that allows it.

Not every Arab country or non-Arab Muslim country follows the Saudi Wahabi/Salafi/Deobandi laws. They don’t represent either my liberal or literal views on the Quran. Women can very well drive anywhere in the ME, except there.

The woman who received the lashings in Saudi was the most retarded sentencing ever. Her sectarian background (she was Shia) may have played into that prejudice. There is nothing in Islamic law that says that a Woman or man (the man she was with was also ordered to be whipped) gets whipped for simply traveling together. This case is famously highlighted with one of the Prophet’s wives, when she traveled with an unknown stranger.

Hope that helps some of your queries.

Posted by Saf | Report as abusive


Thanks for your holiday wishes.I wish you lots of joy,happiness, prosperity & good health for the coming year.Many people who think rationally are in the Fringe & we are in a world where there is trust deficit.In these super crappy times i wish suddenly a messiah does take birth & sways people to him in millions.It’s been more than 1500 years since we had any spirtual or military leader of global significance whom we can look up for inspiration.

Posted by Tommy | Report as abusive

Hi Saf,

Interesting reply to Sugi.Just wanted to know is there a Pope kind of a single religious leader planned in the Islamic world. He can perhaps bring that depth & understanding of Quran Spirtual & Literal Meaning,As an authoritative head he can influence how his followers need to adhere. This would have been less relevant since like sugi says there are some people who selectively use violence to push their point of view.In that context the message from Obama becomes very relevant if he can rein in radicalization. I am not saying the other religions are very saintly but they have not organised acts of significant damages to innocent people.

According to me Wars imposed by Government have to be fought very differently & there is increasing unpopularity in the west also on Iraq/Afghanistan etc.

Thirdly i also wanted your view that when we touch back history you would see Arabians & followers of Islam were hailed as the most intelligent race BTW AD 800 to AD 1500, there are many credits of numerical system, algebra, chemistry,astronomy which owes to their credit.

Why is it that the islamic world has slipped with a 1.5 billion people in the current era on many parameters like science, sports,new ideas etc both in democratic & theocratic states they are in bottom of the society in terms of influence.Is there a influential figure emerging according to you who has a pan global influence for the islamic world who can reform the educational system.

Posted by Tommy | Report as abusive

“Not sure if it went 1st time”
To Saf and other muslim readers,
Please read the article and some where in the middle you will find the following. Please pay attention to the bold Italic part

“Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador in the United States and Britain, has a long list of suggestions for a reformed U.S. policy towards the Muslim world in the Harvard International Review.
The list is fairly extensive, although it would have been even more informative if it had included suggestions for what should change in the Muslim world.”

This is what is important. You can see the trend of response and comments from muslims. Saf is trying to educate me on Somalian girl and Arab girl who received lashing but will never question himself that if after 1600 years of Islamic teaching there are women suffering under Islamic rule is this not islam’s failure? “Magic786” will never question that western countries gave rights to women in last century and in those countries women is not killed by stoning are they not better than Islamic countries?
Why there is not a Christian Country or a Jewish country where “Al-Isreal” group killing by stoning or beheading people in the name of Al-Shadai?

No muslim will ever reply to childish questions of Ali (Ali please see answers at the bottom). They will never question Islam or other muslim person (Vs Non Muslim). This is what is changing this whole scenario into Islam and Rest of the World and not Thinking Vs Non Thinking.

No Islamic country or Islamic Leader will tell Iranian president to shut up when he says he wants to wipe out Isreal from the face of the earth. This is what is making this issue as Muslim World Vs Rest of The World.

If there are any Moderate or Non Ideological Muslims please standup and speak. Now is the time.
And Now to answer Ali

Ali says “Wasnt it USA, that Nuked the Japanese?”

Yes. If you know history Japan attacked USA. Ever heard of Pearl Harbor? And there is a discussion about loss of human life could have been even more if A- Bombwas not use.

Ali Says “Wasnt it USA, that made a new rules how to handle POW and set a new record how to treat the POW, a perfect example Guatanmo bay or even better Abu Gharib.”

Yes. Geneva convention applies to Normal POWs. Not to people who are seeking 72 virgins in after life and are eager to blow themselves up. Rules should change to deal with kind.

Ali Says “Wasnt it USA n handfull countries that do not want to sign the use of cluster bombs?”

Yes. And your point is? Are the countries who use poison gas against their own people better?

Ali Says “Wasnt it USA that used Pakistan to dismantle USSR and then left the poor country to deal with it.”

No. USA never wentout to dismantle USSR. Fact is USSR attacked Afghanistan. USA helped Afghanistan to stay as independent & free country. What else you want? Dole and Alms for rest of your life from USA?

Ali Says “Wasnt it USA that has killed so many inncocent in Iraq and Afghanistan?”
It is a war and people die in the war. But any time you can make a list of people killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by Talibans and Saddam army you will see people killed by USA are far less.

Ali says “Wasnt It USA, that helped the same Iraqi dictator when he was fighting the Iranians
Yes and it was lesser of 2 evils.”

Ali Says “you think bunch of Lesbian and gays from USA are going to rule the world you are so wrong!!!”
Now where did this come from? I would love to hear your explanation of its relevance to the article.

Posted by Sugi | Report as abusive

Text Format was lost during posting the comment. My appologies. The Bold and Italic part was
“although it would have been even more informative if it had included suggestions for what should change in the Muslim world.”

Posted by Sugi | Report as abusive

WHAT PART OF THIS WHOLE MESS DO THEY THINK IS GOING TO CHANGE? Islam followers & al Qaeda- Muslims have one agenda conversion of the world and destruction of Israel,full control of the world ITS been like this for hundreds of years? the greed of there oil RICH leaders WILL CONTROL THEM FOREVER, Instead of spreading there great fortunes and developing there country’s, they spend it frivolously in Dubai on indoor skiing facilities, giant skyscrapers, etc…all thanks to American technology that we shared years ago, and the wealth Americans gained is being sent to china on inferior,dangerous products, America was the richest nation in the world, we have sold it, traded it and given it away(CHARITY) for far to long, NOW WE ARE IN TROUBLE AND NOW ONE STEPS UP TO HELP US? ITS TIME WE STOP AND TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

What a collection of thoughts, comments and ideas.
To our USA friend, you forgot to mention what we did to the indians.
Yes, close down Camp Getmo and let’s save the money. Stick these guys in places like Sing Sing and the problem will resolve itself in due course.
Great idea about Obama visiting, any muslim country will do. Whichever it is, he should stay there until the problem is resolved. That should keep him busy for a while. he can even take his ACORN friend too.
Any country which is ruled by religion is going to have problems which the rest of the world. The “chopping” system does have some merit. Better that then keeping some poor soul locked up for a long time on the tax payer’s dime.
Sorry, the world is not fair. Poor people are poor because they do not act to change the condition. Freedom is not a gift. It is human nature, for some odd reason, that some of us wish to deny it to others.
What does the Arab/Muslim world want from the USA? Simple. They want parity in treatment they way we conduct ourselves with Israel. The preferred relationship Israel enjoys with the West is the heart of the matter at hand. It is the total support of Israel by the US which festors this conflict. Why we must pay annually Israel billions of dollars to prolong this situation is beyond logic. Would it not be better to have 20 friendly countries in the region than 1?

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Dear Sugi,

Please notice my harsh comments against many of my own countrymen throughout other postings on Reuters. I specifically targeted your post on this blog post only because I had deemed it WAY too wrong.

Like I mentioned before there’s a difference between Muslims and the religion Islam. Also a difference is the way Islamic rules are implemented in a so called Islamic country.

You may want to tell my mom she’s being oppressed (though I think I am as she bosses me to drive her around), but she’ll beg to differ. She wears the Hijab (not the Niqab in case you had a wrong image of a Ninja creep in) and is fond of her rights and religion. There are many Muslim women like her. You won’t see them get air time.

I read your comments on the Somalian girl and therefore answered. I didn’t realize you were looking for a broader answer to 1600 years of women in Islam. So here I go (By the way, I find it odd how you dismissed whatever education I did impart and not acknowledge that the radical Al-Shabab men weren’t following the true interpretations of the Quran. I thought that would give a hint to the difference of literature and human nature).

Absolutely there’s oppression of women. Where isn’t there? Our religion doesn’t tell us to but the opposite misogynist leanings happens. Women suffering under Islamic rule? Ever been to UAE? Not true for all places. Women have suffered in all rules not just Islamic. And not justifiable. However there’s nothing in Islam that tells you to treat them like crap or property. Yet this tribal misogynist culture persists. Remember the time when people received Islam, was called ‘Jahiliya’, (the time of ignorance). Even then they tried to be funny with religion, the same case now.

Islam hasn’t failed anymore than Hinduism for Hindus in regards to the historical context of India’s violence, the Gujarat massacre, the Christian riots and now the Pakistan CD burning ala Taliban style.

All religions have a golden rule and have a code of conduct. Its up to the individuals to ignore it or implement it. And unfortunately you are seeing this massively in the Muslim world due to many factors (poverty, uneducation, nepotism and lack of consensus, superstition, confusion of tribal values and national aspirations, corruption, etc.). All these issues are addressed in Islam and their repercussions. Follow the message or ignore it. What more can the Holy Book do? Jump up and scream ‘Seize and Desist’ (apparently that’s what some Muslims believe their doing, only at extreme measures)?!

As one Western scholar said: “Islam is the best religion and Muslims are the worst people. I can not become a Muslim as if I do, I will have to live with them.”

I have no problem in criticizing Ali or any fellow Muslim, and I’m not going to side with them to gang up against you. Its a stereotyped template you’ve created Sugi. And I concede as many others do I receive more rights in Western civilizations with hardly any abuse in custody (except Gitzmo) and a fair trial (also addressed in Islam but…). But also concede on your side the foreign policies that have been double standard around the world including against Muslims.

The point I had issue on Ali’s comments was his Muslims ruled for 800 years and still other religions existed or flourish or whatever. I thought that was silly…it sounds like we’re doing a BIG favor for letting others live. You had your extremes. From Akbar to Aurangzeb, polar opposites. Lets not forget Ashoka had gone nuts on a killing spree as well and one of the most interesting individuals of India’s time and unfortunately should receive more exposure than a Shahrukh Khan movie.

Christians and Jews have gone through and going through great times. The Muslim world on the other hand are going through a dim-lightenment. But NOT ALL Muslim countries are stuck in a rot. This dim-lightenment started with years of abuse from nationalistic governments but then Wahabism/Salafism/Deobandi ideologies (which appeal to people in the Sunni sect. I’m Shia Muslim by the way. And we’ve got our own idiots, but not Al Qaeda and Taleban. Don’t be surprised if some Sunni countrymen might start rejecting me and calling me a Kafir after this post) started serving as a better alternative but still a continuation of miscarriage of justice (again some Muslim countries much better than others).

I applaud you on pointing out Pakistan Ambassador’s to the US statement of US policy but not a comprehensive plan of what Pakistan is going to do. This as you can see is true of many posters here, though there are some other Pakistani posters who aren’t short-sighted. I’m upset you lumped me like that.

I don’t like or dislike Ahmedinijad. I think the guy is nuts. However he’s a powerless puppet in the theocracy of Iran the opposite of the scary propaganda we hear. I’m not one to defend a nut but if you have some familiarity in Persian he was quoting Khomeini and totally taken out of context

The phrase he then used as I read it is “The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).”

http://www.juancole.com/2006/05/hitchens -hacker-and-hitchens.html
Please read the context of the paragraph before and after what I quoted before the link.
He wasn’t talking about a Nazi style extermination that everyone envisions but the end of Israeli occupation. People in the West ran with it. The Arabs were amused and didn’t tell him to shutup because ‘wipe off the map’ is not what he used and he’s not the leader.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahm adinejad_and_Israel#2005_.22World_Withou t_Zionism.22_speech

So I hope I eased some of your fears. I take it your mind is already made up and I can’t help that. Best of luck. Damn that’s a long post.

Posted by Saf | Report as abusive

Dear Tommy,

Thanks for taking interest.
Simply put, Muslims practiced nepotism and no consensus even though it was a strong community tribal element that did exist, so there’s no excuse. We slipped into a dim-lightenment due to many factors (power, poverty,corruption,abuse,lack of education,etc). However claims of Western interference and agenda of aggression, as a policy, is TRUE. But the onus must fall onto ourselves. Knowledge, community and hard work is what’s needed along with good moral values which are principled yet flexible for the sake of stability.

A unifying leader? Well, Iran believes in the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. However as you notice there is a strong anti-cleric or anti-theocracy sentiment in Iran. He is a Shia Muslim leader, therefore Sunni Muslims don’t follow him and even Shias around the world don’t necessarily follow him.

The Shias who don’t follow Khamenei follow Ayatollah Sistani, the reclusive Iraqi Senior cleric who doesn’t believe politics and religion need be intertwined. Some Shias don’t follow anyone. Sistani is credited with reigning in the majority Shias from committing perpetual violence that we’ve seen and a balance to the junior cleric Moqtada-Al-Sadr who is aligned with Iran. He has strong influence over Iraq’s politics but he’s not active in. He’s one of those rare progressive types, however he’s in old age, and is reclusive. He doesn’t give speeches. Just PR statements from his office. Sistani suffers a poor image amongst Sunni Muslims who believe he was behind the chaos in Iraq. The US govt and media are favorable to him which is taken as proof of a Shia conspiracy (usually the same people who defend Al Qaeda and Taliban).

Sunni Muslims are the majority. They look towards the Grand Mufti in Saudi Arabia, though there’s nothing in their theology that compels them to follow any clerical leader, hence the differences in beliefs of militant groups though universally similar in practice, which also explains the high number of Sunni Muslim individuals who do not follow anyone or DO NOT take part in extreme activities but are practicing. Those differences, however, have been extremely exploited in Pakistan (Ahle Hadith,Salafi,Wahabi,Deobandi,Ahle-Sunna h,etc.). Originally there are 6 school of thoughts, but it seems some of those schools have been redeveloped to meet each groups aim.

You can say Sunnis are equivalent of the Protestants (Which if you notice in predominant Sunni countries, clerics do not run the administration. i.e. Saudi Arabia has strong religious laws, but implemented by a monarchy through consultation with clerics) and Shias are the equivalent of the Catholics as far as the existence of a clergy (priesthood) is concerned with the choice of 2 leaders (Sistani or Khameinei, though there’s no theocratic system for Sistani). As you can tell the groups do not get along. Sunnis being the majority and Shias being the minority in both the Arab world (except for Bahrain) and non-Arab countries (Pakistan).

Right now what’s ripping the world are the Wahabi/Salafi/Deobandi Sunni extremists and their hardcore interpretations and rejection of other sects and will to impose Sharia law. They were used and utilized by the ISI to gain regional dominance over India. Also the Iran Revolutionary Guards who seem to be breaking away from the Iranian public stance and arming these extremist groups, even though ironically the extremist groups hate Shia Muslims, but the Guards seem to think its worth arming them just to get back at the US. As you’ve noticed all these agencies/groups are being curbed in Iran,Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

I guess the biggest cluprit to ripping the ME (the last few years) was Bush’s entire hypocritical,and if not, evil doctrine with the inheritance of years of terrible foreign policy ideology. Currently as you see Gaza pounded, we have yet to hear a strong condemnation on the deaths of the people. Equally to blame are the Arab leaders. It reinforces the belief that US can’t be honest brokers at least for the Palestinians and Obama has now extended an interest towards Kashmir to which both India and Pakistan are skeptical of.

The answer isn’t having a clerical hero, but just a Muslim guy, not necessarily religious nor secular, who can deal with the today’s issues from attitude to infrastructure. The same way people are hoping Obama will be a transformational leader in the US, is the same thing we’re hoping from him and one of our own, but have no clue who. There are good countries like Kuwait and UAE, but still lack some qualities.

I thought Musharraf was going to be that guy for Pakistan. He disappointed big time.

Here’s hoping for the best.


Posted by Saf | Report as abusive

Why are people taking up either a pro or anti- Muslim/America stance on this page? The Muslims are in a terrible trap, partly of their own making and partly of the Americans. It is a fact that the Muslims of the world were not lead by a group of visionaries, having the some of the most degenerate rent-seekers clinging on to positions where they were by accident of birth rather than any claim to merit. But this did not matter greatly as he priestly class never enjoyed much people-moving power.

Israel was an issue, but it was more territorial than religious. You cannot plunk down an entire nation of people in an inhabited land and tell the locals that we Europeans have tried to do away with these, they are not really biodegradable, so bear with us while we dump this garbage on you. Naturally, there will be resentment. The Indians and the Australian aborigines would understand this feeling. So, naturally, and aided by all sorts of players, there was violence. But, if you remember, the Palestinians were not just Muslims. There were other faiths too. George Habash was a Christian.

Then the USA, in its wisdom, decided to depose a democratically elected government in Iran and put its puppet on the throne – the poor deluded man even called himself an Emperor. (Nothing wrong in this, since this was time-tested US policy – read up Pinochet, Suharto, Noriega and a whole lot of s.o.b.s who happened to be their s.o.b.s., but this will go to explain the immeasurable quantum of ill-will the USA had started to acquire.) There was a lot of resentment against the Shah’s misrule, and a cleric called Ayatollah Khomeini was the focus of the protests. Naturally, he invoked the religious route and the Quran to drive out the interloper and, not undeservedly, he became an icon of a nascent Islamic movement. This was the first time that Muslims saw themselves as one people, an idea transcending cultural and national barriers. This is a particularly Semitic thing, an I, being a Hindu cannot understand how this till-now Christian “brothers-by-faith” ideology appealed to the Muslims. The stand-off between the Atatollah and the infidel Americans is too well documented to repeat here. Suddenly, from a god-fearing people defending the world from godless communism, the Americans became the godless. Just to remind you that the Ayatollahs were guilty of copyright infringements when they started quoting the Quran. Then came the Hezbollah and Hamas and the Middle-East conflict taking a religious turn. Not to forget Israel’s meddling in Lebanon that turned the Muslims firmly against Israel, and its principals.

Then came Afghanistan, and a chance to pay back Russia for Vietnam. The CIA turned away its attention from drug-running and discovered the virtues of Islam and the power of the Quran. They trained and forged a formidable fighting force which, as desired, bled the Russians white and achieved American objectives. By this time the Mujaheddin were well armed, well-trained and battle-hardened. And anti-infidel. A well-honed blade which would then turn against the next infidel in line.

The first Gulf war, the Saudi rulers’ rejection of Osama Bin Laden’s offer to defend Saudi Arabia, the prsence of infidel troops on the holy ground of Saudi Arabia, the simultaneous call of Saddam Hussein for a Pan-Islamic identity as well as the latent hatred of America, plus the gradual growth of the Pan-Islamic identity was responsible for the growth of the Al Qaeda. The Mujaheddin fought in Bosnia and Chechnya. I personally found this laudable, since I grew up on American books and was a great admirer of the Lafayette Squadron and Americans fighting in the Spanish civil war and to establish Israel. Now they were blooded and ready to carry on the fight.

This is not to say that Al Qaeda and an anti-American bias would not have developed naturally among Muslims. (I admire many things American, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I admire America – it embodies some of the worst human traits, natural in a country colonized by a people who had no qualms about conning and starving and killing off the original inhabitants – I also remember Hiroshima and Bhopal). All the necessary ingredients were in place.

I will not even discuss 9/11 or the War on Terror here because the whole world is hung up on the idea that only uniformed men have the right to wage war. I only suggest that we could herd all these war-mongers on both sides into a stadium, arm them with clubs and let them fight it out. Entertainment for us, eradication of an evil. One passing question. How many candle-light vigils did we hold for the kids who died and are dying in Afghanistan? Or should we, like Paul Tibbets say,”That’s their tough luck for being there.”

Further, the quantum of intolerance that the fundamentalists among the Muslims exhibit is very much present in America- it is just because we are kind enough that we do not dwell on this. Are abortion clinic bombs any less lethal than Islamic ones? Are the Patriot Act and the frequent waves of McCarthyism sweeping through America any less worse than the fatwas? Rather than sling mud at each other, and there is plenty of it lying all over the place, why cannot both of you work towards an understanding that, albeit unfortunately, you cannot possibly annihilate each other, and so, the faster you learn to tolerate each other the better. A little bit of consideration for the non-combatants might even have us thanking you.

Posted by Jayadevan | Report as abusive

On Religion, Islam & Muslims:
Religions have a place in the development of mankind. Since the birth of man many religions evolved and contributed towards the betterment of the mankind. Religion is a set of rules which are followed in the certain frame of time and location, these set of rules might not work in different time frame or location.
The US and many current democratic countries where a human being can live with a certain freedom of lifestyle are product of intelligent thought process. Given a chance most of the people would like to migrate to these countries for better life. Thanks to each and everyone who came before me, and came up with new set of rules that made current western civilization possible. Many rules from different religion were adopted, many were bent or changed and many were dropped. And this process do not stop here, it is in continuation even today and will continue 1000 years later.

The success or failure of any religion is the success or failures of its followers. You cannot claim that Islam is best but its followers are worst. “Final proof of the pudding is in eating”.
Saf, your mother is not the right person to ask if she is oppressed. How about asking Mukhtaren Bibi Or Somali Girl Or Zohreh and Azar Kabiri which are mentioned in following article in NewsWeek.
“Last year the Iranian regime arrested Zohreh and Azar Kabiri, 20-something mothers, on charges of adultery. The sisters got 99 lashes each before being sentenced to be draped in white sheets, lowered into dirt pits and stoned to death with fist-size rocks”

On Palestine, Israel & Refugees:
British ruled many parts of the world. They changed or created new boundaries for many nations. They didn’t do any thing new. It is an historical fact, since the birth of human many national boundaries have been changed or created. One similar case to Israel is case of Pakistan. Pakistan was created out of India. More than 3 million refugees were forced to move from Pakistan to India. India & Its 3 million refugees had two options.
1. Refuse to recognize Pakistan & fight to settle the 3 million peoples in their original homes.
2. Move on.
India & its 3 million refugees picked the second choice. They moved on. Today after 60 years those refugee families are living a similar life or better life than what they left behind.

In Middle East case countries and refugees have picked up first option.
Palestine and other Middle East countries want to turn the clock to pre 1948. But why stop there why not turn the clock all the way back to year 100 BC. It must be Romans controlling this area. So why not clear the place and give it to present Italy.

If Jewish Refugees can transform Israel into an industrial state with decent living standards than what is preventing Palestine refugees from achieving similar results?

On US the Wonderfull:
Any country that says “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” has to be the Most Beautiful.
Is there any Islamic Country who welcomes the tired & poor of any race or religion? They won’t even welcome other muslims.
To all those who are pointing to Hiroshima / Nuclear Bomb I ask them “What was the alternative?” Continuation of war till America was defeated?
Bhopal was an Industrial accident how US is responsible for that?
Any comparison of Patriot Law (which allows US Govt to use phone tapping and look into the bank information of individual for national security) with Islamic Fatwa is idiotic.

Obama the president elect’s utmost Important duty is to keep US the wonderful. Not by giving any special concessions or consideration to Islam. It should be same concessions and consideration it gives to rest of the World.

Posted by Sugi | Report as abusive

it is interesting to see how you have presented the US as he most beautiful country. i am referring to your last post only as i havent yet gone through the rest.

well isnt it the US where the whole sub-prime crises began and dragged the whole world into recession. in my opinion it was just the greed of the few that led to the collapse of the financial order. the earth provides for each man’s need but not his greed.

**On US the Wonderfull:
Any country that says “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” has to be the Most Beautiful.**

and im glad that the US welcomes the tired, poor, huddled masses. i guess your country gives out special visas to them. last time i knew they were keen on only extracting the best minds in the best financial state. that too in limited numbers lest your own citizens go jobless.

**Is there any Islamic Country who welcomes the tired & poor of any race or religion? They won’t even welcome other muslims.**

I wish there were an islamic state in the true sense. where the khalifa would be elected and shariyat laws be implemented in the right sense. and yes, if such a state would exist then all orphans, widows, elderly, handicapped shall be the responsibility of the state according to islamic laws.

**To all those who are pointing to Hiroshima / Nuclear Bomb I ask them “What was the alternative?” Continuation of war till America was defeated?**

you are right there was no alternative, for the US the only option is war, destruction. earlier it was in reply to an attack. and now its pre-emptive based not intel reports which have proved wrong time and again.

**Any comparison of Patriot Law (which allows US Govt to use phone tapping and look into the bank information of individual for national security) with Islamic Fatwa is idiotic.**

as far as i know the patriot law applies only to non citizens of the US. What could bring out more clearly the double standards the US has towards the world. It simply means people from other countries are a threat.

i just ask you to tell me, when 9/11 happened the US sent forces all the way across the globe. and the reason was that the taliban regime in afghanistan was sheltering bin laden. even today, when 1 civilian is killed in israel the US supports mindless use of force. but when about 300 people died in the mumbai attack and pakistan govt has denied handing over of any terrorist even if proved. the US asks India to show restrain?? is indian life less valuable than american life? or are terrorists from countries which have ‘most favoured nation status’ given some special immunity??

Posted by ammar | Report as abusive


I will not refute you. You need to get out of the defensive corner you have painted yourself into. After all, the search of truth demands jettisoning quite a lot of the beliefs one grew up with. For a true Hindu, life is a series of questions. There are no Revealed Truths like in other religions – even our idea of God is patently what we have thought up ourselves. The quest is the only truth. So you might want to get started with the Ko, Kutah, Ka stream.

We also need to remember that all nations/communities without distinction have committed crimes against humanity. The root cause of all these was hubris – the perpetrators of evil thought that they were superior to the victims; to them, they were Untermensch, Chandalas, barbarians, infidels. This is what causes exaltation in the ghettos of Gaza when a suicide bomber blows him/herself up. This is what caused the now discredited WMDs. AND Hiroshima-Nagasaki. ( Please remember at that time, that the Japanese were totally defeated, had no munitions to keep fighting any further, and were desperately asking for a face-saving formula. Would the Bomb have been used, in the same circumstances, if the antagonists had been white?) Cringing in shame for the evils of our fore-fathers is not called for. Learning from them is. The human race has to grow up sometime rather than keep on remembering old wrongs and justifying new wrongdoing.

We also have a saying in Malayalam – this is a language spoken by people in a small South Indian province called Kerala- which translates roughly as ” the pickle is saltier than salt itself”. This is an insult. It is gratuitous. And it comes after reading your earlier posts. I do hope you get some time to do a bit of research on cluster bombs.

Posted by Jayadevan | Report as abusive

As an American Christian, yet having spent three years in Egypt and having many Muslim friends, what have I learned? First of all, to me, and my ideas are subjective only, Islam is one of the three great faiths, Islam believes in Jesus and is a major prophet in the Islamic faith. Islam holds the Virgin Mary (Maryam) very dearly and Islam like other religions has a Prophet.

One treats any religion with the utmost of respect.

I never saw the faith of Islam as holding women or minorities in contempt; I saw that as the problem of the society at large.

As for VIOLENCE, One can cherry-pick any statement from the Old Testament and in isolation say, see, Christianity supports violence, supports fire and brimstone, supports stoning of enemeies. One must read the Holy Bible, as one must read the Holy Qu’ran in its entirety and major explications of both texts and then judge.

The problem with ANY RELIGION is who does the preaching and who does the listening, and do the listeners act out on what they think they are understanding? A complex sentence, yes, but read it over again, and you will see what I mean.

Just as Christianity has its splits, its divisions, its adherents, so dies Islam (Shia and Sunni)

To my many Muslim friends in Egypt, in Syria, in Morocco and in Tunisia, I say Salummu Aleykum. May Peace be upon you all.


Posted by Stephen Perry | Report as abusive