Saturday, 5 September 2009

So why do you write to extremists?

Whenever I’m asked this question, it always amazes me. This ummah, who are 2 Billion strong and obsessed ( and I mean this quite literally ) with the concept of Freemasons / Secret Societies, and conspiracies, when it comes to our brothers and sisters in prison we accept the words of the Sun or the Daily Express without hesitation. To even accept the word “Extremism” is to accept a loaded term which is entirely concocted by the enemies of Islam in order to create fear and suspicion within muslim communities. Much like the term “islamist”, this term is one which many on a government payroll propagate, but few can define it or understand what it means.

Let me give you the example of one brother. He is Algerian, and was arrested under a flood of publicity and pomp in connection with the “ricin” trial. His case lacked any solid basis, but this did not stop the press worldwide condemning this brother ( and others ) to a trial by media. Tony Blairs administration seized on this and would reel out soundbite after soundbite about “those who hate freedom”, which became quite ironic when this brother and others were detained for over two years before being acquitted.

What then became completely absurd is that this brother was then arrested under immigration bail, the basis being “involved in the ricin plot” and other “secret” evidence that he has never been able to challenge or question in an open court. He is now located in a Chateau-D’if style existence under virtual house arrest. The muslim community on the whole have completely shunned this brother, he went from being a popular businessman to one who appreciates any contact however slight. His area is one devoid of muslims, and he spends every Iftari alone with the threat of deportation to torture hanging over him every day. There is no family here, no friends for 50 miles, and who knows what impact a small letter or phonecall would have on one so isolated?

Then there is the example of the brother serving an indeterminate sentence for organising paintball trips and doing dawah stalls in London. Some of the key “evidence” were items such as “The way this individual is cutting a watermelon is exactly as they kill hostages in Iraq.” This brother is a grandfather who is in his 50s. He went from having over 200 people knowing him and speaking to him regularly to having one or two brothers who write to him. Who knows what one letters impact will have towards that brother?

There is also the case of the brothers in Italy. The Egyptian brother, acquitted in Spain yet jailed in Italy for exactly the same charges (“terrorism”), even though the Spanish authorities (Not one known for being favourable to Islam) say that Italy mistranslated his intercepted phonecalls ( the only evidence). He has spent over 3 years imprisoned and has suffered terrible abuses including physical attacks by guards on three separate occasions. He faces at the end of his sentence indefinite detention in Egypt at the end of his sentence. He wept tears when he heard that one muslim in the UK wrote to him. What impact would another have?

Or what of the Moroccan brother, arrested last year and held in such isolated conditions on the island of Sardinia that he is cut off from his own family, sons and daughters, who cannot afford the travel to the region. He has not seen his family for six months, and has no realistic chance of seeing them anytime soon after being moved to the isolation wing of a new prison in the deepest mountains of Nuoro. He has recently been found to need kidney dialysis, which in Italy means that you have to pay some costs of the treatment.

What about the revert brother, attacked with boiling water in his cell whilst the guards stood back and let it happen. A cowardly attack that left him with burns all over his scalp and torso. What about the Tunisian left in -3 degrees celcius without even a blanket in the depth of winter. What about the other Tunisian whom was arrested and his wife suffered such a mental breakdown that their own children were taken into care? What about the brother left to nearly die when he was refused medical treatment from an asthma attack after the prison block caught fire? There are hundreds of examples like this.

As a final example there is Farid, another Moroccan brother who spent over 6 years imprisoned without a trial to assess his innocence or guilt. He was extradited to a Spanish prison where he was threatened and intimidated, where he knew no-one and where he did not even know a word of Spanish. How comforting to have letters from those in the UK who at least could offer him some support, however small.

I wish I could tell you from the above that it was all a bad dream, and really hundreds of thousands of muslims accepted their obligations and responded to all the above pleas of help. Sadly those who helped I can count on two hands from the muslim community. These brothers were all in need, and many more continue to be in need, and we fail them.

It is an obligation for us to support each other in times of difficulty and ease. The prophet(saw) said , “A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He does not wrong him, forsake him or despise him.”, as well as “The faithful believers are as a brick structure, each supporting one another”.

So, to answer the question “Why do I write to extremists?”, I would respond that I do not. I write to human beings, my fellow muslims, who request my (or any other muslims) support and help to allow them to prove their innocence or serve their sentence in peace, to stand firm against oppression and injustice.

I leave you with the words of the prophet (saw), then ask yourself to imagine yourself in those same shoes as those worn in the examples above. “No man forsakes a Muslim when his rights are being violated or his honour is being belittled except that Allah will forsake him at a place in which he would love to have His help. And no man helps a Muslim at a time when his honour is being belittled or his rights violated except that Allah will help him at a place in which he loves to have His help”.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Sarkozy, The Burkha and the French war on Humanity

When the vertically-challenged president of France Nicholas Sarkozy made an attack against the clothing that some women choose to wear, it re-ignited the debate about the womans’ role in Islam and society. This debate was of course mostly one-sided, with the tabloids and broadsheets combined making various inflammatory statements through their columnists.

As a man, I do not feel that it is my place to present arguments as to how the Islamic dress actually emancipates women, or the particular details of what constitutes Islamic dress. This is for the sisters to present, as they are the ones who choose to do so every day, facing the jeers and suspicions of many of those in the western society, and for that I have tremendous respect. I am sure that many of us have heard stories of sisters being insulted and attacked just because of their clothing they wear, and in a few cases the brothers have responded but on the whole the muslim vanguard in western countries is a fairly impotent bunch, which makes the sisters all the more stronger in my view.

Instead, I wish to concentrate on Sarkozy’s claim that “The burkha is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement.” He presumably has become enamoured with his public persona to such an extent that it has made him suffer amnesia about the actions of his own country in subjugating women and men in both its colonies and now with the “hidden French hand” in African affairs.

The French colonial experience was not a pleasant one, though of course colonisation for the colonised is never so, however there are often varying degrees of brutality. When France colonised Algeria in the early 1800s, they did so on a path of destruction. Alexis De Tocqueville gave this strategy to the colonising forces :-

“I personally believe that the laws of war enable us to ravage the country and that we must do so either by destroying the crops at harvest time or any time by making fast forays also known as raids the aim of which it to get hold of men or flocks. Whatever the case, we must say that all political freedoms should be suspended in Algeria.”

From these statements, which any Algerian who reads their history will tell you was followed to the letter, we can see that France revelled in its role of forcing subservience upon the population. To suspend freedoms of any kind is of course to debase and subjucate at the most extreme level. Of course, Sarkozy will claim that this was a long time ago ( though curiously the values of Liberté, égalité, fraternité as justification were then as now), there are more examples from recent history.

In Algeria, there was de-facto racial segregation in classrooms, with the Pieds-Noirs (French settlers ) being given access to the best education and employment. Algerian children in particular were prevented from attending school in rural areas.

In the 1950s, France found itself embroiled in a war of liberation by Algerian insurgents, the FLN. France (in a statement that will surely sound familiar ) denied that this guerrilla army was entitled to any rights as prisoners of war, and instead denounced the uprising as one of terrorism. The French forces collectively punished the Algerian population, and whether one was for or against the FLN in time no-one was safe from the excesses of the French forces. Rape, Murder and Torture were par for the course, men or women, young or old. One example from Verité Liberté states that :-

“first, the officer questions the prisoner in the "traditional" manner, hitting him with fist and kicking him. Then follows torture: hanging..., water torture..., electricity..., burning (using cigarettes, etc.)... Cases of prisoners who were driven insane were frequent... Between interrogation sessions, the suspects are imprisoned without food in cells, some of which wre small enough to impede lying down. We must point out that some of them were very young teenagers and others old men of 75, 80 years or more.”

With regards rape, the French army as protocol said that every female arrested must have their genitals inspected for evidence of sexual relations with relatives. This in effect legitimised sexual abuse and rape in the minds of the legionnaires and armed forces, and this command came directly from the French government themselves. A testimony by a former soldier in the book “Torture and the Twilight of empire” , states in one day he saw “one thirteen year old raped by three soldiers, a fifteen year old raped by seven, and a sergeant who had raped an eight year old.”

I apologise for these details, but it is essential that we understand that when france attacks women in Islam, it is in no position to do so. It is still rare to hear any Frenchman express regret over their actions in Algeria, and of course issues such as compensation are a non-issue as far as the French government is concerned.

And this is not to say that these matters are over with. Four French soldiers in 2005 were accused of rape by a child in the Ivory Coast, with similar events happening by French troops in Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Morocco and others. Examples include abuse of patients at a mental health facility, denying food and water to villagers for amusement, and many more atrocities.

It is perhaps then all the more bizarre that Sarkozy, diminutive though he may be, should make such grand statements as women who wear the burkha are debasing themselves. It is of course france that is doing the debasement of all those women in Africa and anywhere else which it tries to exert control.

In my own view, I believe that these women are subservient, to Allah(swt). If they believe that they should dress in the niqab, hijab or burkha, there is no doubt in my mind that they do so only with the intention to please Allah(swt). This is a direct challenge to the authority of the state that wishes all its citizens to rubber-stamp the murders, the rape, the theft of resources and the exploitation that characterises western foreign policy.

If Sarkozys’ concepts of freedom is to allow France to subjucate those weak and oppressed around the world, then I am pleased that we muslims are subservient to Allah(swt), al-humduillah. From a muslim perspective, he is as relevant as he is tall, and I would urge anyone to continue working for Islam, and to let the west know that muslims will not be intimidated.

Umar Abdullah, 26th June 2009

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Mr Smith goes to SIAC ( The Special Immigration Appeals Commission)

After reading so much about the Special Immigration Appeals Commission procedure, Control Orders, Detentions, Bail Revocations, Secret Evidence and Closed Sessions, a good friend of mine advised me that it was possible to attend in person. Having had a holiday from work, I decided to experience these myself from the public gallery so was present for the hearing on the 27th February for five detainees, U, Z, BB, Y and VV. Unfortunately due to restrictions of the court and allegedly their protection I cannot reveal their names.

For the uninitiated, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, or SIAC, was established in order to handle cases where the secretary of state herself wishes to see individuals deported on the basis of national security or public interest. These courts are heard in a small room off Chancery Lane, and anyone may attend them whenever the court is in session.

So what happens? Allow me to share my own experiences. I entered the building and had gone through the normal security procedures, no more intrusive than you would expect at an airport. This involved emptying ones pockets and walking through a scanner. After being waived on, a security guard gruffly told me “second floor”, however after responding in perfect English that I was looking for the SIAC court he realised I was not here for my own hearing and instead I made my way to the basement.

I was there fairly early, so the court was closed but after a period of ten minutes myself and four others were given entry to the court, and I made my way towards the back of the gallery following the crowd. The court is a modern one, though fairly cramped, and to the courts credit I must say the chairs were comfortable.

About fifteen minutes after this, a number of solicitors and barristers made their way into the courtroom. The court procedure already seemed fairly informal, with no silks or wigs in sight. It was shortly later that I realised I had made my first faux pas. A gentlemen asked me whether I was with the secretary of states department, and noting the disgust on my face asked me to move to the other side of the gallery. I did so, but at the expense of a good seat, the other side being almost full with supporters. I would estimate approximately 15 supporters had made the journey, some as far as Brighton. I was disappointed with the lack of showing from the muslim community however ( as far as I could ascertain I was the only muslim male there ) however there were plenty of muslim women. I was extremely pleased to see how much support these men have outside the community. It showed to me that this issue is not one that affects just muslims, but instead one that affects a lot of people who are concerned at the direction that this country’s’ laws and freedoms are heading.

Shortly afterwards, the “trial” began. At the “All rise”, I stayed seated, not wishing to show the courts the authority they so dearly would love to have. I do believe though my silent protest was obscured by the large public gallery, but I suppose it’s the thought that counts. There was firstly the matter of the detainees. One was present in the courtroom, behind a Plexiglas screen with slits in it so that he could hear the proceedings, and was flanked to the right of him with agents from the UK Border Agency, dressed in full regalia. It was not quite “Silence of the Lambs”, but it was close enough. I can only imagine how the couple of journalists present would perceive this man, and how much they would look behind the glass and see the man behind it. For the majority of the trial, he stayed studious and quiet, concentrating intently on the proceedings.

The debate was around the four other detainees, who had been taken in the night without their solicitors being contacted until much later. In a couple of the cases, they had been taken to prison after being told the van would be taking them home following a trial yesterday. They were now in different prisons, three in Belmarsh with one in Wood Hill. The Judge explained the court would have difficulty hearing their cases in person, so would videolink be acceptable. It was eventually agreed to.

So, after this was completed a time was given of 12-2 for the video linkups. This made me concerned that I would miss Friday prayers, however thankfully it transpired the proceedings were wrapped up early. Before that time (11am), a “closed session” took place. This is where everyone except for the judge and elements from the Home Office are asked to leave the courtroom. With the door firmly locked, the black box of “secret evidence” was discussed. The Detainee, Solicitor and Barrister are not permitted to hear this evidence. After ½ an hour of this, we were called back into the courtroom.

By this time, the video linkup had arrived and due to defence solicitors wishing to consult with their clients, I was asked to leave the courtroom having not been “ vetted for visiting.” Though disappointed not to hear the men speak, I do understand their reasons for doing so.

I went to make a phone call, returning to a somewhat more elated crowd. Four of the men (all except for “U”) had been ordered by the judge to be returned to their homes. “U” was then given the verdict of having his bail revoked and he was to be returned to prison. After some more complex legal arguments regarding Judicial Reviews and more alleged breaches of the Human Rights Act by the Home Secretary than there are Detainees, Mr Mitting the trial judge issued his judgement explaining his decision. There were no real details to be gleamed, other than “on the basis of the closed evidence, I revoke the bail of U”. This was in essence the commentary, cloaked in legalese.

As the judgement was being read, on the video linkup a sad scene was evolving. Of the three men on the screen, two were given the all-clear to go home whilst Detainee U would be staying. The men all seemed resigned to their respective fates, and as a testimony to the character and virtues of Detainee U he was able to give smiles and laughs to the two who would be going ( VV and Y ), and they shared hugs and salutations before being led out to the left, leaving the solitary figure of U alone. U’s face displayed a look of acceptance, realising that yet again he had been detained without hearing any of the closed evidence against him. I would think that years of these sorts of events have made him harden, and he had already prepared himself mentally to abandon hope ; it has a habit of turning to despair when you hope too much. I would like to see the Home Secretary in court one day herself, to see the damage she is doing to real people with feelings, just like you and me, rather than meeting with her spin doctors to decide upon vote-winning strategies for an increasingly right-wing British public.

It was on this note that I left the courtroom and made my way out into the world of an oblivious population, saddened that the black arts of the SIAC would again go unreported and the latent british public (including the majority of muslims in this country it seems) would again ignore one of the most dangerous assaults on rights and freedoms in the modern age.

* I would urge everyone to send a note of support to Detainee U whom I believe is currently in Belmarsh Prison. You can also send letters of support for those on control orders via the mens solicitors.

Settlers and Supermarkets

As promised, I elected to research for myself the extent of Israel-supporting companies and products on the high streets that we can carry out the small action of boycotting. As I said earlier, this should be a targeted campaign aimed not only at not boycotting the products in silence, but also ensuring that we tell the companies involved that we are boycotting their products coupled with making awareness within the wider communities that we are all a part of around the world. Today it is the turn of the supermarkets.

As I am from the United Kingdom, I have focussed upon the supermarkets present in this country. However, if someone wishes to add to this article in the future regarding other supermarket chains in different parts of the world, please let me know and I will add them to the list provided evidence is sent with the request.

In order to understand the supermarkets complicity with the Israeli occupation, we must first understand the nature of the suppliers. A great deal of fruit and vegetables, particularly Peppers and dates, is supplied from the so-called “occupied territories” and we may differ as to what extent Israel is occupying the land of Palestine. I take the view that the entire appropriation of land since 1948 is illegal, however some may hold the view that any land post-1967 is occupied. Either way, the same rules apply as most of the products are manufactured within settlements in the West Bank.

Now, as for the reality of these settlements, they have to be read to be believed. The first is the random violence they dish out upon the muslims (and Christians for that matter) of Palestine, knowing that they have state support. A Christian peacemaker team gave the following account on 20th November 2008 in Havat Ma’on :-
“Fifteen masked Israeli settlers from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma'on attacked three Palestinian shepherds who were grazing their flocks in a valley south of the outpost, and Christian peacemakers who were with them. The settlers came running down from a ridge above the shepherds, hurling rocks. The shepherds were able to get their flocks away before the rocks injured them.During the incident, the settlers were able to steal two of the shepherds' donkeys. The settlers killed one donkey with a knife wound in the chest area. They slashed another across the throat, but the donkey survived.”

A quick google search will reveal hundreds of such incidents, in which Settlers seemingly for sport seem to hunt Palestinians who are trying to survive on meagre resources.

They are also diverting much needed water from Palestinian communities in order to fund their excessive lifestyles. One report in 2007 identified that a pipe supplying a well in a Palestinian village was cut, with the water being used to fill a swimming pool for one settler. As each illegal settlement is made, the first actions are to cut the supply for Palestinian villages ( for example, 4000 homes were left without water after one settlement in 2006 ), and then eventually the Palestinians negotiate with the Israeli state as intermediary in order to get their own water back.

There is also the issue of destroying crops and engaging in a “Scorched-earth” policy. They cut olive trees and burn them in order to claim the land is disused, which of course the Israeli courts provide support to substantiate the claims. They often will build roads through olive farms, claiming that one side of the road is theres and the other is the Palestinians.

It is in this background that settlement products are making their way to british high streets in packages labelled “Palestine”, and though we acknowledge the Israelis for affirming that settlement land is Palestinian land, it gives the false impression that these goods are produced by Palestinians. They are made to profit Israeli farmers with water that has been stolen from Palestinians, on land that has been occupied against Palestinians and by individuals that harass and assault Palestinians. The label is an insult to the Palestinian people, just one more brick in the wall of denial and heartbreak that they have been experiencing since 1948.

So, the supermarkets that are involved in this through their greed without morals are Sainsburys, Tescos, Marks and Spencers and Waitrose. They are all supplied by settlement farmers with dates, peppers, herbs and other items. The suppliers are Hadiklaim and Arava. Both of these Israeli companies are complicit in the exploitation and appropriation of Palestinian crops. This was discovered by a report commissioned for the “Sir Joseph Hotung Programme” within the School of Oriental and African Studies.

So what can we do about it? The hardline approach is to boycott the entire supermarkets. With the exception of Marks and Spencers whom have many more stains against their cloth, I do not believe this is feasible nor practical. Instead we should boycott those products from the stores that are labelled “Israel” OR “Palestine”. We should write to these supermarkets, outlining our objections to these goods being supplied within the stores. We should also educate others about the realities of settler-produced goods and the ethics involved in eating peppers provided through deceit and stolen resources.

This I believe should have an effect. Supermarkets are motivated by profits being a capitalist industry, and they will respond in these troubled times if even 10% of their consumers defect to purchasing products from more ethical suppliers. Israeli goods rotting unsold on shelves will soon force these companies to make the right business decision and should see the restoration of fruit and vegetables that are not tainted by the brush of illegal occupation.

I will be writing a sample letter to send out in the next few days, if anyone has further information on any of the details above or would like references, please do get in touch.

A Place Called Gaza - Part 6

Previous Installments can be read here :-

In the last instalment, we studied the problems of Egypt and its occupation with the French. In this instalment, we will look at how the political circumstances of that period led to the rise of Muhammad Ali Pasha and the occupation of Gaza by this Egyptian faction.

Muhammad Ali Pasha was an army officer within the Ottoman Empire, and was a member of the battalion that was sent to retake Egypt from the French. When this was successful, and no obvious Ottoman-friendly officer available to hold the seat of governor, he put himself forward to occupy this position which was recognized by the Empire. He managed to hold this position through a Machiavellian approach of forming strong alliances with religious leaders and powerful village chiefs, while ruthlessly crushing those who would think of overthrowing him. This included the extermination of the mamluk power structure through inviting all their chieftains to a banquet to celebrate the appointment of his son as head of an army formed to battle the rebellion of Imam Abdul-Wahab in the Hijaz. When these people arrived at the banquet, Muhammad Alis’ forces massacred them, in what is known as the “Massacre of the Citadel”. After this, he dragged the body of one of them through Cairo to demonstrate what happens to those who seek power over him.

Once he held power, he began to be increasingly important to the Ottomans. They used him in many famous campaigns, such as the war against the Arab Rebellion in 1818, and many of his campaigns were at his own instigation, such as that of the Sudan in 1821.

With power however came greed. He wanted to be assured that his progeny could be sure of inheriting an Empire, and as such begun to act like an Empire. He began to see the Ottomans as a rival power rather than one in which he could work in Harmony. He also believed that he was too powerful to fail in his ambitions, and begun to think of aggressively taking the Levant , an area emcompassing modern day Palestine. Overtures were made, identifying that the natural border was not the Suez Estuary, but instead the Taurus Mountains.

After a war of words erupted between a governor of the Ottomans in Palestine, Abdullah, and Mohammad Ali. Civillians fearing a war fled to Southern Palestine and Gaza from Egypt, to which Abdullah refused to return the individuals. Muhammad Ali then initiated a war, threatening that he would return both the civilians and Abdullah himself to Egypt.

His son, Ibrahim Pasha, set out for Palestine accompanied by many warships and other heavy military. Upon arriving in Gaza, the people did not put up any resistance. This pattern continued all the way to Haifa, and after some battles had managed to open up the road to Istanbul and thereby control it, through their occupation of Anatolia.

Though one could argue that Muhammad Ali’s objectives were aggressive in nature, in some ways they initiated reform that Europe objected to, hence their interference. His major policies were those of economy, where he initiatied heavy industry in Egypt and Palestine such as Cotton industries, which were state monopolies. This drastically affected the market for British Cotton which at that point was obtained from India. With these benefits however were many unsavoury aspects of his rule. Conscription was enforced for every male in the region, and even disabled individuals were forced to fight in the rear ranks. Taxes were heavy and though allowances were given in difficult times, on the whole taxes were far higher than those under the Ottomans.

The Ottoman Empire reacted to his aggressive military manoeuvres and recognised Muhammad Alis wars against the Palestinian Wali for what it was : A rebellion. They removed the titles bestowed upon Muhammad Ali and all his officers by the Ottomans, as well as stripping them from their posts.

Muhammad Ali responded by ordering the Clerics of Al-Azhar ( showing the concept of “government Scholars” is not that new a phenomenon ) to declare the Sultan of the Ottomans a disbeliever guilty of apostacy, which they duly did, as well as issuing a call for jihad against the Ottoman Empire.

Sadly, at this point” the disbelieving forces of France, Russia and Great Britain began to pressure the two forces to agree to a ceasefire in the interests of “peace”. This in hindsight was the beginning of European powers to exert their influence and change the dynamics of the middle east and thereby Islam as a ruling system. The two warring sides signed the treaty of Ktahya ( the Ktahya Accord ) in 1833. This awarded control of Egypt, the Hijaz and Crete to Muhammad Ali.

Later on, the European countries exploited this war and the relative weaknesses of the Ottomans and Muhammad Ali Pashas Kingdom through infighting. They demanded that any aggression between either side must be given permission first by the European powers, these being Prussia, Russia, France and Britain. Britain formed a blockade, which could be said to be a precursor to the so-called peacekeepers we see in conflict zones today, near Beirut. This lasted for some years, the European powers forcing the two countries to abandon the monopolies on trade in both of their Kingdoms, meaning that the markets were flooded with cheaper European goods. At the same time, Gaza was met with a huge outbreak of the Bubonic Plague, decimating its populating and damaging its trade significantly.

Eventually, the European powers wanted a permanent peace, fearing that the skirmishes continuning between the Ottomans and the Pasha dynasty would cause trade problems. They forced Muhammad Ali to withdraw to Egypt and Acre, and gave him 10 days to accept. During these Ten Days, the Ottomans and Britain attacked Palestine, resulting in a civilian revolt against Egypt. Muhammad Ali had to give up this territory, reluctantly pulling out of Gaza and returning to Egypt in 1841, with Gaza being returned to the Ottomans. Muhammad Ali eventually died in 1849, after being awarded the right of hereditary rule over his Kingdom which covered Sudan and Egypt, and with his title of Ottoman Viceroy being restored. Egypt however was a broken state after being forced to abandon its trade tariffs and import duties, with National debt being 80 Million Francs. He remains buried in the courtyard of Muhammad Ali Mosque.

This concludes Part 6, in Part 7 we will study the deteriorating relationship between the Ottomans and Britain.

Friday, 20 February 2009

What is it like being Muslim in the UK?

I realise that over the last few posts, I’ve been covering a lot about Egypt specifically, together with the muslim-majority countries, and some people have raised some comments about how I am perhaps too harsh. I thought it might be interesting for those overseas in these countries in particular to understand a little bit about what it means to be muslim in the United Kingdom (where I live ) as well as what life is like for the muslims generally in the west.

The first item I would like to cover is the state of the muslims in this country. In many respects, they are sadly as nationalist as I see in those from other countries. There is a big drive from many muslim groups in this country to re-affirm the fact that they are “British muslims”, though none of them elaborate to any extent what that exactly means.

The Government, on the other hand, are very clear about what they mean within those circles. They want the muslims in this country to adopt the western way of life, and are often using muslim persons of so-called standing such as Baroness Warsi, Shahid Malik, Lord Nazir Ahmed ( yes, he really calls himself Lord Nazir ) and others in order to condemn the communities. Just yesterday, Warsi was making comments that polygamy should not be allowed in this country. Shahid Malik has voted strongly during his first term as an MP for ID Cards, 90 Days Detention without Trial for terrorism suspects , and opposed an investigation into the Iraq war. There are continuous calls and pressure applied by these individuals to make muslims within the United Kingdom follow the country in all issues, even if it is in conflict with their beliefs.

There is also the law, slowly being adapted to cater for those who do not want to capitulate to this situation. We are constantly made to feel, as a community, that our presence in this country is conditional and it can be revoked at any time. This would explain the legislation directed towards the community such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000 to target “islamists”, thinktanks established to look at “Islamism”, directions given to university lecturers to monitor “islamists”, and court rulings ordering the deportation of “islamists”. Again, no one has clarified what an “Islamist” is, but the closest definition I can deduce is one who believes in Islam and Allah(swt) as a complete way of life, and is not interested in sacrificing this belief for power or monetary reward. As a result there are over 170 muslims incarcerated within british prisons in relation to offences under the community-specific legislation passed.

I have mentioned the “community” a few times, so let me once again elaborate. In my experience, there is no “community” as such, unless there are knighthoods or OBE’s to be awarded in which case community leaders suddenly appear out of the woodwork. Most of the time, these community leaders are not seen unless it is to provide rent-a-quotes. The community is mainly concerned with how it is perceived by the non-muslim community, rather than supporting the existing muslim community. This is why you will see many interfaith gatherings and even police stations within Masjids, but hardly any free legal surgeries or youth programs.

The role of the community, particularly if you are under 30 years of age, is instead filled by Islamic groups. These groups are often fighting with each other, and have an almost cultish following between them and extreme partisanship. Rarely is what unites us championed, but instead division is promoted. If one was to imagine rival mafia families in 1930s Chicago, this is perhaps the same kind of co-operative atmosphere present certainly in the UK ( one just has to read discussion boards to see this).

There is a feeling that through living here, one adopts the capitalist way of life as their own. Suddenly you find yourself less willing to support brothers and sisters in a worse situation than you ( Palestine excepted, which almost every muslim attempts a small action towards in the UK, whilst Kashmir, Somalia, Burma, Thailand, Algeria, Tunisia are not mentioned ), and you also find yourself being reluctant in charity, in dawah, in ritual worship (Ramadan excepted ) and in seeking Islamic knowledge. I say this because I hold my hand up and say I am a guilty party in this respect. I realise that as I get older, the more I take Allahs(swt) blessings for granted.

Work is a big part of life in this country, and it dominates conversations even in one’s spare time. Work is a constant pressure not because of the difficulty, but more because of the environment. Every day you will challenge your own beliefs, as so much of the work social life revolves around alcohol. To refuse to drink is to refuse a promotion in many workplaces. To be seen discussing politics or religion is a big “no-no” in most environments. Jummah prayers are a constant challenge to pray and return to work within your assigned break. Though some environments are different, most I have experienced tend to be this reality.

However, there are benefits available here that I do feel thankful that I am a part of. The first is that you can never starve in this country, as the state has an obligation to help you, even when out of work. How different to India or Pakistan, where 75% of the population live on less than 2$ per day. The second is healthcare, available to all and yet denied to so many others throughout the rest of the world. I can travel in a car throughout different cities, and never once have to pay a bribe, unlike most of West Africa. There are large numbers of practising muslims from all over the world, unlike perhaps Indonesia or Malaysia where there is a much lower percentage of muslim immigrants ( though massive indigenous muslim populations). I have muslim friends from Australia, Iraq, Egypt, Canada, Pakistan and India in my small friends circle, and I am truly thankful for that, because I don’t think there can be many other places that have such a cosmopolitan atmosphere ( Hajj apart).

Inshallah I pray that people have found it interesting to read this brief summary about life for muslims in the UK, and will perhaps see that each country has its own problems and benefits, and that until we live according to Islam and its teachings, we will continue to face difficulties as an Ummah wherever we live.

Please do forward me any article you have written about your part of the world, as I am always interested in the various challenges that muslims face without Islam being established!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

A Place called Gaza, part 5

The Ottoman rule of Gaza continued unabatedly throughout the 1600s and 1700s,
leading to steady increase in trade and commerce into Gaza, and making it an extremely important city and region of learning and finance. As the years rolled on, and sea transports became more effective, Gaza then began to decline as the route from Egypt to Syria by road was viewed as harsh and a poor second to sea travel via the Mediterranean. Gaza naturally suffered for this, however important trading wares were still delivered via the ports and the occasional land caravans. Another factor in the decline of roads, apart from journey time, was the prevalence of criminal bedioun tribes, who sought to exploit money and goods from the travelling caravans. Piracy was not as big a problem in the immediate region, certainly when compared to the activities of highway robbers.

As Gaza declined, political intrigues begun to dominate the Ottoman Empire, especially in relation to the French Empire and an impetuous general, Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon advocated in 1797 to engage in an attempted capture of Egypt and the Levant, so as to harm British trade interests in India. Britain at that time were trading with the Ottoman Empire through reselling goods sourced in India to the Ottomans via the Mediterrenean, in which revenues were then directed towards other imperialist activities such as the slave trade. Napoleons concept was to make the Mediterrenean, the Levant and North Africa secure so that no ships from Britain may sail there, thereby depleting their economy whilst simultenously bolstering that of France.

Napoleon landed in Alexandria and secured a memorable victory against Mamluk governors in which over 6,000 egyptian cavalry and infantry died. However, whilst Napoleon was securing important land victories, the ships that had sailed to carry the troops were destroyed by the British in a port. At the news of this the Ottomans led by Selim III immediately sent large battalions, feeling that Napoleon was finished. This was not strictly correct, as though the ships which had carried Napoleon were no longer there, they had secured the lands of Egypt successfully, a few minor rebellions excepted.

Whilst in Egypt, Napoleon had tried unsuccessfully to paint himself as a liberator, not a conqueror. He ensured that he made favourable statements about Islam in the press and at public speeches, which some naïve muslims today point towards as evidence of Napoleons alleged “conversion”. To see Napoleons aims, one only has to study the experience, in which he made various claims such as “all my soldiers will convert” in order to curry favour with the Egyptians. Perhaps the closest example is that of the invasion of Iraq, in which alien customs, traditions and others cloaked in islam have been thrust on the Iraqi people. One story of Napoleon in Egypt is his organising of a “grand ball” to bring muslims and French together. This plan was abandoned once no single muslim woman turned up to the ball.

In the meantime, the armies of the Ottomans were on their way. Napoleon caught wind of this, and elected to try and meet them in Syria, through which he needed to land at Gaza and other key points on the Palestine coast. Napoleons attempts failed however, and as he was forced into retreat he killed muslim prisoners as well as any injured from his own party so as not to slow progress.

Napoleon later fled from Egypt, leaving his troops behind. This is in such stark contrast to the early muslim generals such as Khalid ibn Walid(ra) and Usama ibn Zaid (ra), whom always led from the front. They had arranged a deal with the British and the Mamluk Ottomans (who at this point had formed an alliance ) in order to arrange a peaceful retreat, but this was reneged upon.

The French general successfully repelled the forces in 1800, however a young religious student at Al-Azhar by the name of Sulaiman Al-Halabi assassinated him by disguising as a beggar. Ironically it is reported that he carried out this act in order to alleviate his fathers poverty, for which the Ottomans agreed to forgive his father his debts. Al-Halabi was impaled and the body sent back to France as a warning to others.

Egypt after losing the French general was a power vacuum, with the French rule becoming increasingly untenable. France agreed a surrender, and all French personnel were evacuated by British ships, together with numerous treasures looted from the Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings.

Though this article has mainly focussed on Egypt, it is important to understand the background to the conquering of Gaza by a rebel batallian of the Ottoman Empire led by Muhammad Ali Pasha in 1832, together with the political circumstances. This will be evaluated in the next article.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Starbucks and the War on Terror

Starbucks Coffee is ubiquitous on the high streets of most towns all over the world. They are also extremely active within most middle eastern and asian countries, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Indonesia, Malaysia and many other muslim majority countries.

This presence makes it all the more confusing when we receive emails and messages to support a boycott of Starbucks stores in the west, when the “muslim” countries are seemingly opening these stores at speed when others in the west are being forced to close through lack of business. I can only assume that, like myself, they were perhaps previously unaware of the extent of Starbucks coffees’ involvement in the “War on Terror”. Though the text messages we have received indicate a support of Zionism, which may have some truth in it, the verifiable facts are in fact a lot more concerning for any muslim.

I first heard about Starbucks briefly last year, when I read a book called “Bad Men” by Clive Stafford Smith, a human rights lawyer working to provide legal representation to those in Guantanamo Bay.( I urge anyone who has not done so already to read this book by the way, in order to understand the full horrors of the Bush legacy ). In it, he describes a visit to Guantanamo Bay that he undertook, and one item that caught my eye is a Starbucks being present on the Naval Base / Internment camp. This made me think, but in my own shallowness and desire for Frapucinnos, I ignored these early warning signs.

Then Gaza happened. Many emails came to my attention, saying such things as “Starbucks is giving Saturdays profits to Israel”, “Every coffee sold Starbucks is donating 10p” or “Drinking Starbucks is like drinking the blood of a palestinian child”. I decided to investigate these allegations for myself over the weekend, and so I can share my investigations with you.

Starbucks deny that they support Israel in terms of donations. You can see this on their website. However, they do not deny that their CEO, Howard Schultz, is an active Zionist. Inminds has a copy of an award (that has since been taken from their site ) which presented him with a “Israel 50th Anniversary Tribute Award” by Aish Hatora (fire of the Torah). This group financed an anti-islamic documentary that was posted out for free in key “swing states” in the United States in the recent US election ( but that’s another story). They are a pro-zionist organisation, encouraging the apartheid policy actively in Palestine at the moment.

Now, Starbucks could well argue ( as they have said on their site ), that the actions of its CEO does not reflect the organisation. We can then ask them why they sponsored a “Bowl4Israel” event (twice) in which monies raised went towards the Israeli Defence Forces benevolence fund. This organisation in a twisted irony produced posters stating that Palestinians are baby-killers.

What disturbs me most of all is their unquestioning support for the US Army and armed forces, who are at present occupying at least two countries (compared to Israels one ) and has killed over 100,000 muslim civilians in the past 5 years alone ( compared to Israels 3,000). In their support of the US armed forces, particularly the “war on terror”, Starbucks have made no contrasting statements and no attempts to hide their involvement ( unlike their Zionist-related activities). They are PROUD of their involvement, as their own statements say :-

“Starbucks has the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military personnel. We are extremely grateful to the men and women who serve stateside or overseas. We sincerely appreciate that they are willing to risk their lives to protect Americans and our values of freedom and democracy… our partners in our Atascadero, California store sent their weekly mark out coffee to troops in Afghanistan so they are able to enjoy a little piece of home. Our customer relations department in Seattle donated hundreds of pounds of coffee to the sailors in the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group.”

It is also disturbing to read that Starbucks Coffee is being used in Military Interrogations as an incentive ( replacing the stereotypical “fancy a smoke?” ) in Guantanamo Bay, as a break from waterboarding, stress positions and torture.

Now, one has to ask : If I, a humble part-time activist, is able to uncover these things, then why are the muslim countries presumably unaware of these activities? Why would Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia and others grant licences to this company, knowing it is indirectly involved all the atrocities and torture of the US Military, through providing them free and subsidised coffee in between their daily activities of torture, rape and murder?

I don’t think there can be any doubt in Starbucks support for anti-muslim activities, and I am now committed to an “anti-frappucino” rule! If we all commit to these boycott, and in particular advise the inhabitants of the muslim countries ( which in some cases are nearly 100% muslim) to do the same, I am sure we will see either Starbucks alter its policy or else disinvest from the Middle east and muslim world.

I intend to write a letter to Starbucks advising them why I am ceasing to drink their coffee, and I will also write to their trading partners making them aware that I am disappointed with their association with Starbucks. These trading partners are :-

Apple, Borders, Hilton Group, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott Hotels, PepsiCo, Radisson SAS, Safeways, Starwood Hotel Group and T-Mobile.

If anyone would like references to substantiate this article, please email me. Also, if anyone would like a sample letter to send to starbucks, please do contact myself as well.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

A Place Called Gaza - Part Four

Gaza was now under Uthmani, or Ottoman Rule, and subjected to stability that it had not experienced for some time. This is after the rebellion was quelled, which we saw in Part 3. Since that point, Gaza became an extremely profitable and burgeoning trading town, and a great deal of this reputation and resurgence was linked to the resurgence and benevolence of one of Islam’s greatest rulers of the Ottoman period, Sulaiman I ( or Sulaiman “the Magnificient”).

He was Selim the First’s son and successor, and he would go on to achieve incredible victories throughout the muslim world, as well as conquering new territory from those whom had previously been hostile. He was known as Kanuni, or “The Lawgiver”. This may seem a strange title considering that the Shariah is the law that all muslims follow and this law was given by Allah(swt). However, we must analyse the realities of this to fully understand the title.

Within Shariah, there are certain realities that come into being that have previously not been experienced, owing to either technology or political situations. In this circumstance, a concept known as “ijtihad” is permitted, which relies upon using the existing laws in order to extrapolate a new reality based upon the Islamic law. For example, subjects which would appear now are items such as “Is it permissible to pray Jummah via a tape recording”, or “Is IVF permissible for a muslim”. These are new realities that were not around at the prophets(saw) time, but the foundations to decide upon the permissibility or ruling can be found within the accepted sources of Islamic Law, e.g. The Quran, the Sunnah, the Companions (ra). What Sulaiman was responsible for was appointing Judges who could re-open these doors of Ijtihad and to provide justice within the framework of the Islamic Law. He was also responsible for coding these laws, so that a manual could be provided for judges in an easily referenced form. (This system, incidentally, was later adopted by European systems, including France).

He rigidly adhered to these principles of Ijtihad and Islamic rule, ensuring that any provinces which in the past had begun to preach innovation and misguidance were subdued and made to adopt the Ottoman codes.

One of his first acts was after the rebellion within Syria and Gaza to replace these individuals of the Mamluk dynasty with new Ottoman-influenced governors. He enforced the ottoman code throughout the province, and implemented direct or “home rule”, whereas the previous system by the Mamluks had simply been to exact a tribute. Inspectors for the state were sent to all provinces under ottoman control to evaluate and quantify the provinces adherence to the Ottoman code.

Through this micro-management, he was able to inject the correct amount of resources to enable rejuvenation, as well as to increase spending on infrastructure when it was required. This involved investing in roads, Waterways, a social services program, and in the case of Palestine led to restoring significant landmarks such as the Wall of Jerusalem.

Gaza was made the administrative capital of the province. This meant that trade was re-established between the province, whereas in the years of turmoil it had previously been bypassed. Commodities included Textiles, Silk and sugar from Egypt, Wool and fur from Syria, as well as the establishment of pilgrim markets for those to buy and sell whilst on the way to Hajj. These pilgrims markets were extremely popular, as well as an “Indian” market. The array of goods was astounding, particularly as Gaza had been nearly derelict a mere few years beforehand. Camels, Goat, Horses, Cheese, Yoghurt, Wheat, Barley, Melon, Aubergine and many other goods were instantly available, to which Gaza benefited immediately.

Gaza, through its abundance of raw materials, later led to entrepreneurial ventures, and heavy infrastructure was established in the district. These included flour mills, Dye-houses, Olive presses, and many others. The impact upon Gaza can be seen through the analysis of taxation revenues. Whereas at the start of Sulaimans reign the revenues were 18,000 Acke (the unit of currency), these almost quadrupled in forty years to 63,000 Acke.

The area also became quickly populated, as individuals from around the muslim world sought their fortunes in Gaza. There were just under 1000 males in the town during 1519, yet 30 years later this population had more than doubled to almost 2,500. If we assume that each taxpaying household consisted of four people ( though it may well be higher than this ), this meant that Gaza town had a population of approximately 12,000 people by 1548.

Significantly, of this population the urban majority were muslims. 2000 identified themselves as muslim, from a recorded population of 2,477. This statistic does not included students from the Islamic universities, schools, and academies, nor does it include those soldiers of the Ottoman empire stationed there. The Christian population numbered approximately 280, whilst jews made up 150 persons. This of course makes a fallacy of the claim that Gaza has always been “jewish” land ( as the Zionists frequently emphasise), as this would mean that jews made up 6% of the population. To put this in perspective, this is approximately the percentage of muslims residing in the United Kingdom today, and less that of the muslims of France. The Jews have no more claim to the land from a population perspective than the muslims of the UK have a claim that the United Kingdom has always been muslim. It also proves that muslims resided in this land, as a majority, for significant periods of time.

Perhaps of most interest was the implementation of correct and just Islamic law to the province. A Qadi (or judge) was established, who was meant to be impartial and prevent corruption and exploitation. Though in later years this became nothing more than paper justice, at the time of Sulaiman this was an extremely just system. The Qadi would hear cases from all persons, including non-muslims. Part of the role was to inspect the markets to ensure that no cheating was taking place, as well as publishing a list of “official” prices of goods sold. Though the Ottomans were Hanafi, the Qadi had deputies who could decide upon the relevant school of thought for the area. This impartiality no doubt contributed significantly to sulaiman being known as “the magnificient”, as he asserted rights that citizens had under Islam but which had been neglected for many years in the province.

Gaza continued to be an important trading sector during Sulaimans reign and afterwards, until another period of decline entered in the 17th century. This period we will study in Part 5.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Intelligent Boycotting

We often receive excitable texts and emails when Israel commit yet another aggression on the muslims of Palestine. These texts often contain such statements as “Mcdonalds to donate every Saturdays profits to Israel”, or “Drinking Coke is like drinking the blood of a Palestinian child.” However, these statements are purely emotional, and through studying them we can see that the muslim ummah is being used for capitalist ends by rival companies. A boycott is a very effective tactic, similar to a strike action on produce, and through sustained, intelligent boycotting and disinvestment results can be achieved.

This is not the same as emotional, reactionary boycotting. This type of “boycotting” serves little value, though intentions are sincere, because they are not based on fact and only rise and fall with the emotions if they prove to be correct.

For example, to claim that McDonalds will donate its profits every Saturday morning, as one text informed me, is just not true. We can prove this by examining the franchise structure of McDonalds, in which these are co-ordinated all over the world through individuals who pay a “preferred supplier” fee and as such take the profits for themselves. For McDonalds to be donating the profits every Saturday, this would mean that every single franchiser in the whole of the world would be contractually obliged to do this. This is simply not possible logistically.

For the other quote, regarding Coca-Cola, this again is not true. Drinking Coca-Cola may well be bad for you, but it cannot be equated to “drinking the blood of a Palestinian child”. This quote is originally sourced from Iran, who at the same time as this quote were promoting a rival coca-cola product. Therefore, this quote could quite reasonably be assumed to be a business decision by the Iranian Government to support their own product and undermine Coca-Colas market share. It is interesting as a sidenote to point out that Coca-Cola would not invest in Israel until the 1960s, as they feared an arab-wide boycott. Only when it made sound business sense did Coca-cola agree to distribution channels in Israel.

However, I am not for one moment saying that McDonalds and Coca Cola are friends of the Palestinians and the muslims, far from it. They DO invest in Israel, though this is clearly a business decision. They are capitalists, and believe in profit at all costs : that is part of the capitalist / free-market doctrine. What is needed is to encourage disinvestment through an articulate and targeted boycott, so that to continue to invest in Israel would no longer make financial sense.

So how to we do this? The first aspect I would illustrate is that many muslims whilst engaging in boycotts of these products were not targeting their efforts. I believe that a sustained campaign against one or two companies at a time would be far more effective than an emotional reaction to every single text or email we receive. By a sustained campaign, this would involve the following :-

1.Letters to the company, explaining why you are not interested in their product, why their support of Israel is misplaced, and explaining how you will be spreading this message of their support for Israel to your friends and relatives.

2.Prepare articles for circulation both within muslim and non-muslim circles, which can then be publicised online and offline.

3.Contact suppliers and customers of the company, advising them that the company concerned are engaged in supporting Israeli actions. Advise these suppliers and companies that you will be encouraging muslims and non-muslims not to trade with that firm whilst they continue to maintain the relationship between the Israeli-supporting customer/supplier.

4.Contact press and media, preparing accurate researched information regarding the companies anti-muslim actions. Ensure that these are well-documented and as objective as possible.

5.Finally, DO commit to not buying the product under any circumstances.

It is hoped that through these actions, it becomes a PR disaster and thereby creating a financial loss for the companies involved. Only when it costs them more money to continue to support Israeli product distribution versus the gains that they make in continuing to trade with Israel, thereby causing a net loss, will this lead to a disinvestment.

The strategies outlined above need not be restricted to Israeli produce or Israeli-made goods. Instead they can be directed towards any company anywhere in the world that continues to trade with the Israeli government. I would particularly encourage this action of disinvestment towards the muslim companies within muslim countries first. There are hundreds of Jordanian and Egyptian companies that trade with Israel everyday. Contact these companies directly using the steps above.

But what is hoped to be achieved through the boycott actions? For one, it would lead to a well-oiled Israeli war machine being far more restrained in its approach to the muslims in Gaza and the rest of Palestine, because they would not want to alienate its own financial support. If large scale disinvestment were to take place, Israel would be required to significantly alter its approach towards oppression, much in the same way as South Africa was forced to. It is perhaps optimistic to expect wide-scale emancipation over this disinvestment action, but we may never know which staw it is we lay that will break the camels back.

Over the coming week, I will research companies and provide sample letters so that this disinvestment campaign can be successful. If anyone has any information regarding companies that would be of interest, please do forward them to me.

Monday, 2 February 2009

A Place Called Gaza - Part Three

To recap from the story last time, Gaza had been abandoned once again when infighting consumed the descendents of Salah-uddin Ayubi, which was then followed by floods, plagues and all manner of natural disasters severely affecting the region. It was left virtually untended by the Mamluk dynasty ( the Egyptian dynasty) , particularly after the natural disasters that it suffered.

The Ottomans, or “Uthmani” empire, however had a different vision for the muslims. They were not content to reside within self-serving fiefdoms, and instead undertook massive campaigns to reunite the Islamic governments under one authority throughout all the muslim regions. They originated from the unification of various Ghazi ( or provinces ) from the breakup of Byzantium, led by Osman the First. They had many military successes before their arrival in the levant, having successfully repelled the mongol hordes from the east as well as conquering Anatolia ( what can now be considered west turkey). These battles were particularly important for muslims, as until the Ottomans were victorious against the Safavids, a Shia dynasty who were involved in inciting various struggles for power within the Ottoman state. They had planned to support violent uprisings led by treacherous relatives of Selim I, and were trying to implode the successful Ottoman empire. This plotting was in particular driven by Shah Ismail, whom some of his followers described as a reincarnation of Ali(ra)!

Selim I considered Shah Ismail a heretic who threatened the very foundations of the deen. Whilst they fought, the Shah ordered his armies to destroy all crops and anything useful to the “enemy” when Selim advanced, whilst at the same time berating him for fighting his muslim “brothers”. The Shah was defeated in the battle of Chaldiran. After this battle, he was able to turn his attentions towards the Mamluk dynasty.

He first tackled the Mamluks in battles near Aleppo, successfully defeating the Egyptian mamluks and forcing them into retreat in Egypt. When taking Damascus and Syria, Selim I lambasted the Alims and Scholars for being so close to the rulers and thereby allowing the mamluk excesses to be prevalent. Selim was able to move quickly through Palestine from this, with the area virtually deserted, particular Gaza. They first entered Gaza and the rest of Palestine in the same year as Syria, 1516.

Gaza to the Ottomans though underpopulated became a key strategic location, it being an excellent link for military expeditions between Egypt and Syria. Confident they had conquered the area, they moved on to other pastures whilst leaving a small reserve force in Gaza itself. The Mamluks however managed to send reinforcements, and participated in a slaughter of the entire garrison leaving no prisoners, killing all the sick and wounded. When the Ottomans returned, they spared no mercy upon the people of Gaza, feeling they had supported the mamluk slaughter. Many civilians were killed.

It is important to understand at this point that Selim I, though I may have given a different impression up to this point, was certainly not infallible by any means. He was known by some subjects and historians as “Selim the Grim”. He took power by killing and imprisoning many of his relatives whom he considered rivals to the throne. According to Shia sources, he was responsible for killing over 40,000 people suspected of heresy within the Ottoman State, and imprisoned thousands more. It should be understood however that even if these numbers are correct, Shah Ismail was reciprocating the treatment with other agitators within his own kingdom.

After this incident of the retaking of Gaza city, there was a key battle in Khan Younis, now famous as a town with an adjacent huge refugee camp within the Gaza Strip. The Ottomans were victorious and able to march upon the Mamluk dynasty, to where they entered triumphantly in Egypt and the Hijaz. The last of the Mamluks, Al-Mutawakkil III, was ordered to surrender the title of Caliph to Selim, together with the sword and cloak of the prophet(saw). These are to this day held in a museum in Turkey.
Even though Gaza was not given a separate wilayah, it was acknowledged as being of extreme military importance. Selim I when passing through the town and returning from Egypt ordered that it be reconstructed. This task fell on the Governor of Damascus.

With Gaza, Palestine, Egypt and Syria under the control of the Ottomans and the European front expanding rapidly, one would think that peace would return to Palestine. This was not to be the case. Gaza was under the control of the Syrian governor, as the “province of Damascus”. In order to abate any rebellions, ex-mamluks were appointed to powerful positions by Selim. These included Janabirde Al-Ghazali, who was made Governor of Damascus.

Selim I died in 1520, but not before he had significantly expanded the empire that he had become the leader of. The Ottomans were announced as a force to be reckoned with on the world stage, and had introduced many key milestones in modern warfare, not least the use of Gunpowder, as well as returning Islam to its rightful prominent place above the sects of the Alawi, Ismalis, Rafidah, and others. Sulayman I ascended to the position of Caliph.

Unfortunately, within days of Selims death, the mamluk governor of Damascus attempted to revolt against Selims son, Sulayman. This revolt encompassed Gaza, as well as pockets in Syria and the rest of Palestine. The newfound muslim unity was demonstrated though when a loyal battalion from Egypt, together with resistance against the revolt by bedioun tribes, arrived to quell the disturbance, with the Mamluk quest for power foiled.

Sulayman from this point onwards would move the Ottoman empire to that of a centrally planned government and economy, in order to regulate the restoration and development of cities, as well as to negate the risk of breakaway provinces. Through this approach, Gaza would emerge as one of the great centers of trade, as we will see in Part four, during the reign of “sulayman the magnificent”.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Understanding BBC Impartiality

On the news in the United Kingdom, a key feature has been that of the BBC News “impartiality” row. For those unfamiliar with the story, the BBC is a taxpayer-funded (through the licence fee regime ) government news channel. They have refused to show an appeal for emergency humanitarian aid for Gaza, on the basis that it would “Compromise their impartiality.” However, a quick examination of the facts show that the BBC is far from impartial.

The coverage of humanitarian disasters previously carried by the BBC need exploration firstly. They covered the DEC appeal for the humanitarian crisis in Mugabes’ Zimbabwe, a tyrant undoubtedly, but most significantly a tyrant who is against british policy. The DEC appeals can of course be used for propaganda pursposes by the government, and through showing this appeal it tugged on the heartstrings and encouraged pressure upon Robert Mugabe from an angle that he would not have appreciated : The British Public. Another appeal was that of Darfur, in which an appeal by the DEC was shown by the british government. This appeal is significant because it was a situation of a venomous Sudanese government attacking civilian refugees. The BBC showed the Appeal, even though it could be argued that it would contradict “impartiality” through showing victims of violence by the Sudanese Government, therefore by its nature being “Anti-Sudan”.

Now, when we move forward two years, we can see that the BBC in 2006 refused to show a DEC appeal for the attacks upon Lebanon by Israeli forces. In this war, the civilian level of disaster was significant. 350 Schools, 2 hospitals, water and sewage plants, an airport, and 15,000 homes were destroyed. It is also estimated that 1,200 people were killed and 5,000 injured within Lebanon. Despite the clear evidence of a catastrophe, the DEC appeal was not shown.

Let us now examine the present furore. The BBC Claim that through showing the appeal for the catastrophe in Gaza, this would contradict its impartiality. I for one would disagree, as the BBC has already set a precedent for showing such an appeal. An aggressive Government in Sudan targeted civilians in a conflict, resulting in many deaths. Allegations of war crimes were also levelled at the Sudanese government, with clear evidence of these shown through testimony and news reports on the victims of Darfur. Though one could argue that the rebels in the south encouraged the Sudanese governments response, the Sudanese government transcended a proportionate response and instead targeted refugees, civilians primarily instead of the ones they are alleged to be fighting.

Is this not exactly the same situation between the Israeli forces and Gaza? In fact, is this not worse? The Israeli government deliberately manufactured a breaking of the ceasefire and told the press as much, when it is clear that Hamas stuck to their ceasefire arrangements for the entire duration. Whilst this occurred, the Israelis and the british government applied severe sanctions on the population, depriving them of adequate supplies. The Israeli government then launch an attack upon Gaza, not differentiating between civilian and soldier. They killed over 500 Children, destroyed schools, hospitals, sanitation plants, infrastructure, and all using banned chemical weapons. Despite all these facts, which clearly occurred against a civilian refugee population by an aggressive military government in Israel, the BBC believes that to appeal would be “biased”.

What is the difference between Sudan and Gaza? British foreign policy. The British are not in favour of the Sudanese, whom they believe are a barrier to Britain exploiting the region. America view this the same. However, the British Government advocate a two state solution to Palestine, as does America, and as does indeed Israel (on the basis of approximately 7% of the territory given back! ). The problem is that Hamas do not want this, so in the British Governments opinion, and de facto the BBCs, it was legitimate to attack Gaza. They want to see Hamas removed and the Palestinian Authority installed once more in the region. This is the reason that they wish to present to the world that there is no crisis, or if (like now ) they are forced to, they argue by proxy that Hamas are the ones who are responsible, and therefore not entitled to aid. Using the civilian population of Gaza, the British Government and the BBC are fighting a proxy war against Hamas.

There is also another aspect of BBC policy, and that is its expansion within other regions, notably the United States. Unlike the UK, the BBC is trying to establish its nest-egg in the wider markets through the use of commercial revenue, anticipating the cancellation of the licence fee within the medium-to-long term. The issue is that the majority of American public and government are not interested in the Gaza crisis, and instead feel that Gaza “got what it deserved.” The BBC could be worried that any syndicated appeal would decrease its share of the viewing public in the United States, and it could be worried that major sponsors and partners of its programs (such as the Discovery Channel ) would pull out. This would explain their failure to show the Lebanon and Gaza appeals : A fear of revenue loss through criticism of Israel, even if this criticism was simply implied by the devastation on the screens.

However, we should not bear the brunt of the BBC imperialist expansion program, subsidised by our licence fees, whilst the BBC does not represent the interests of impartiality. Instead, I ask everyone to write to mark Thompson at the BBC expressing your disgust with his decision. He can be reached at :

A Place called Gaza - Part Two

This is part two of the story of Gaza. For those who missed the first part, you can read it here :-

When we left the story last, Gaza had been occupied by the Christian Crusaders, and it was, according to Christian records, a near deserted city. It was around this time that Salah Ud-din ( or Saladin ) Ayubbi emerged in order to reawaken the Islamic nation. He was a Kurd, from Tikrit in Iraq. His father was a regent of Mosul, and Salah ud-din was a student who continued to pursue Islamic knowledge. It is said that he had little interest in the Military, until the Christians captured Jerusalem and other Palestinian enclaves ( including Gaza). The muslims were disunited, with various kingdoms, the largest of which was the Shia Fatimid Kingdom in Egypt for whom his father, though a sunni, served. The Fatimid dynasty was incredibly corrupt and weak, and fears by both Salah-uddins father and uncle were that Egypt would soon fall to crusader raiding parties. Together with Fatimid forces, they were able to successfully defend Egypt, whilst the quarrelling continued. Looking for a pacifying force within the turbulence of infighting, Salah-uddin quickly rose to power, becoming Sultan of Egypt at the age of 31. One of his first acts was to consult with the scholars and realign the kingdom to that of Ahle-us-Sunnah, and from then on historians referred to Salahuddins Caliphate as “The Ayyubid Dynasty”.

He then set out to reunite the muslim kingdoms, initially taking North Africa and Yemen. Salah-uddin avoided recapturing Jerusalem and Palestine initially, because of a rival kingdom in Syria, whom he wished to reunite under the banner of Islam first so that they could be a far stronger force when they eventually fought the crusaders. This did not stop him capturing Gaza first however, in 1170. He successfully launched a military campaign against the Syrians, becoming victorious in Damascus in 1176 AD. This worried the heretics of the region, and one of these groups “The Hashashin” (Ismalis ) attempted to assassinate him whilst he was besieging Aleppo.

He engaged in one battle against the crusaders at this point, known in western history books as “The Battle of Montgisard”. It ended in a severe loss. From this point, Salah-uddin resolved to strengthen the muslim forces, emerging victorious at the battle of Jacobs ford in 1179. The crusaders arranged a temporary peace treaty, however frequently broke it, organising raids on pilgrims who were travelling to Mecca. These attacks were mainly made by ship on the red sea, to which Salah-uddin raised a fleet 30 galleons strong, and resolved to attack Beirut, where the attacks on pilgrims were originating. The crusaders continued to threaten to attack Mecca and Medina itself. Whilst these attacks on pilgrims were taking place, rival kingdoms in Mosul were plotting against Salah-uddin. He was able to arrange a peace treaty with them whilst Salah-uddin focussed on defeating the crusaders. He was victorious in capturing Jerusalem and thus uniting Palestine ( however briefly ) after the battle of Al-Hittan. He personally executed Raynauld de Chatillon after this individual insulted the prophet Muhammad (saw) and killed a number of Pilgrims.

Gaza was briefly recaptured by the crusaders ( led by Richard “The Lionheart “) in 1192, however it was returned as part of a peace treaty to the muslims in 1993.

Salah-uddin sadly passed away from fever that same year, after successfully uniting the muslim nation under one banner, and defeating the crusader forces. It is no small exaggeration to say that Gaza only has a muslim population today because of this one man, who rebuilt the city, fought the crusaders, and defended the honour of the muslims.

Sadly however, this unity was not to last. When the ummah found itself rich again, his own sons caused a great disunity to occur through their petty squabbling. Al-Adil, Salah-uddins brother, organised campaigns around all the provinces under Ayyubid control, killing and imprisoning his own brothers and nephews. Whilst this in-fighting continued, how history repeated itself! The Mongols this time, and not the crusaders, emerged as the new army to wake the muslims up. Hulagu Khan captured Damascus in 1256, before finally capturing Gaza in 1260. When he did so, he completely destroyed the city.

Though the muslims recaptured the city in 1277, the city suffered many catastrophes from that point until ottoman rule. An earthquake struck the city and region in 1294, causing many casualties. After that point, 5 years later, the Mongols (led by Khan ) again destroyed the city, ransacking it completely and causing misery for its inhabitants.

From this tragedy, Gaza recovered remarkably. It was described as a “medium sized city, with many gardens” by the geographer Abu Al-Fida, which is remarkable after this city suffered so much within that 100 year period. Sadly, the citys tribulations continued, with plague killing the majority of its inhabitants in 1348, followed by a great flood in 1352. It was after this time that the great muslim traveller ibn Battuta visited, seeing fit to comment on it thus : large and populous, and has many mosques. But there were no walls round it. There was here of old a fine Jami' Mosque (the Great Mosque), but the one at present used was built by Amir Jawli."

There was one more tragedy to befall gaza, that of a plague of locusts in 1401. After this point, the city was once again virtually uninhabited, with the arrival of the ottomans describing it as a city with an inactive port, little or no trade, and many ruined buildings.

In part three we will see the rebirth of the city once more, and how it flourished under Uthmani rule.

A Place called Gaza - Part One

We have seen the city of Gaza, what appears to be now a collection of makeshift refugee camps and slums, forming part the Gaza Strip after 60 years of Israeli rule, on the news constantly at the moment. Many have been on demonstrations, written letters, and otherwise campaigned in order to support its people. However, how many of us are actually aware of this areas rich history? Through understanding our past, muslims can inshallah shape their own futures.

Gaza is an area in the southern Levant, an area we now call Palestine. The main city is Gaza City, which is the subject of a great deal of this research. Its population have suffered more than two millennia of oppression, other than when it was governed by Islam. Its first record can be found within the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt, when the governor of Canaan took up residence there, in the 12Century BC. After this, according to religious scriptures, namely the Old Testament, it is recorded that this area and others were taken over by the “Philistines”, hence the name “Palestine.” From this point on, historically it was colonised by various empires, including those of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Romans and Alexander the Great.

When Alexander captured the area, it was only after an intensely fought military campaign. The people of Gaza were tenacious and rebellious, and only after five months of constant siege, much like the 14 month blockade we have seen since 2007 till today, did he succeed in capturing the area. The men fought to the death, until only women and children were left. From this point on, after he enslaved and extradited the local population as slaves, he repopulated the area with neighbouring Bedouins from the Arab lands, as well as importing and encouraging greek philosophers and artisans to the city of Gaza.

After a period of some stability, Gaza was raided by a rival empire, that of the Hasmoneons, a tribe of Jews who had emerged as a rebel province from that of the Selucids ( who were the successors of Alexander the Greats kingdom). This period of the rebel jewish self-rule is the foundation for their claims for the state of Zion, however Allah(swt) took this state away from them by the Romans by 37 BCE, which would approximately coincide with the arrival of Isa (AS) according to traditional scriptures. As no details are provided in the Qu’ran with regards exact dates, it is difficult to validate the claims of other religious books that have no doubt been corrupted.

When roman rule arrived in Gaza, Shirk flourished. It was home to many temples and idols, including those of Zeus, Helios, Apollo and other roman idols. After some Christians converted in the late 200’s , they were heavily persecuted. Finally, when Constantine made Christianity the state religion, Gaza of course followed suit. All of its pagan temples were destroyed and Gaza for all intents and purposes became a Christian city. Gaza was one of the most important commercial centres on the southern coast of the Mediterranean, and a valuable jewel in the Roman empire.

When Islam came of course, everything changed. The city and region was captured by the muslims under the great army of Amr ibn Al-As (ra), who converted with Khalid ibn Waleed (ra). He engaged in a siege against the Byzantine (Eastern Roman ) Empire in 635. During this period, the citys jewish population fought with the Byzantines against the muslims. The muslims were victorious and Gaza became the first city taken from the Byzantines on the Palestine coast.

Once captured, everything in the city changed. Churches were turned into Masjids, the population accepted the just rule of the Khilafah Rashidun willingly, and a province that had previously been extremely rebellious accepted Islam and Arabic as the language of the province. From this point onwards, Gaza became a city of learning which generated some of the greatest scholars and academics. For example, Muhammad Idris Shafi was born there, who went on to be one of the founders of Islamic Jurispudence. The city also became a key link for trade between the Hijaz and the Mediterranean, and the Persian geographer Al-Istakhri commented as such.

Sadly, after a period of immense wealth,trade and academia, Gaza fell into decline when the rulers of Palestine began disputing and fighting amongst themselves, allowing their wealth and seeking of power to cause division between the muslims. How much history repeats itself today! One of these rebellious kingdoms of Egypt, the Fatimids, allowed Gaza to fall into complete disrepair as they focussed their taxation revenues from trade on their own palaces rather than the upkeep of the cities within their control. This is despite Gazas agriculture being extremely fertile, with new fruits never seen in the region before, such as oranges from India, being prevalent and flourishing.

When Gaza was captured by the Christian crusaders in 1100, they claim they found the city nearly deserted. What a sad state of affairs for a city that had been a centre of trade and learning, until quarrelling, infighting and the seeking of the dunya destroyed it.

The story of Gaza however is nowhere near finished. In part two I will look at the resurgence of Gaza under Salah-ud-din, and the revival spearheaded by the Uthmani khilafah.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Craig Murrays New Book...Available here!

Salams all,

After thoroughly enjoying the book about Craig Murrays time in Uzbekistan, “Murder in Samarkand”, I was delighted to hear that he has written a new one, “The Catholic Orangemen of Togo”. I was less delighted to hear that the government through threats to his publisher would try and stop the publication.

However, it has successfully been released as an internet release for the timebeing, uncensored and available now!

For those who don’t know about Murray, he was an ambassador for the British Government who was sakced when he started highlighting the shocking abuses that were taking place in Uzbekistan with the active complicity with the Blair regime.

You can read it here :-

Walaykum Salam,

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Why I won’t be visiting Egypt

Egypt, Land of the Pyramids, the Nile, 5 Star Hotels, Sea, Sand and so much more. Over 1.2 Million people from the United Kingdom visited Egypt last year, no doubt contributing significantly towards the $4 Billion that Egypt earned from tourism. This figure represents 11% of its GDP and is its largest revenue sector for Hard Currency. The impact upon the stability of the country would be catastrophic should this tourism sector significantly decline.

Which exactly why I will not be contributing to this figure. I, as most muslims and non-muslims should, have extreme concerns about propping up a regime which is amongst the most tyrannical in the middle east, and given its competition this takes some doing. So what are the allegations?

In this article I will deal with the Gaza crisis and Egypts complete lack of support towards the muslims of Palestine. Just yesterday, a convoy of aid workers, journalists and peace campaigners were prohibited from reaching the border crossing which they as the whole world bar Israel want Egypt to open. They were met 4km from the border by police and security forces in full riot gear in a disgusting display of intimidation. In the past week, they have fired shots at refugees on the Gaza side seeking to flee, as well as arresting 200 people who managed to escape from a near constant bombardment.

They claim they are allowing aid, but this is just not simply true, other than a few trucks here and there. When asked to comment on this, Hosni Mubarak said that they will not open the border “without the Palestinian Authority and European Monitors”. This is in essence saying that they will not help the muslims of Palestine until they choose or have forced upon them a government that the US and Israel would agree with. Egypt is obliged under the Fourth Geneva Convention ( if they are not going to respect the Islamic ruling on the issue ) to protect civilians during times of war. They have ignored this.

Egypt has failed to take any action of solidarity with the people of Gaza, it has not recalled its ambassador, maintained the presence of the Israeli ambassador and associates ( even the “sheikh” of Al-Azhar university met with Shimon Peres ), and has vetoed a proposal by its own quasi-parliament to cease exporting gas to Israel. This same gas could well be forming part of the (banned) weaponry that Israel is using upon the muslims of Gaza as I write this.

It has also worked actively with the United States and Israel, taking technical advice on how to block the tunnels that the muslims of Gaza are reliant upon for humanitarian aid. This is passing yet another death sentence upon the women and children of Gaza.

Egypt will not even allow demonstrations to take place in solidarity with the people of Gaza, whilst these have been taking place all over the world from Sydney to Los Angeles. 400 people demonstrated at great risk to their personal safety in defiance of the Egyptian ban on Friday, leading to 40 persons being detained when the police violently broke it up.

And what of the official voices of the regime? On the 25th December, it was reported by Al-Quds daily that the Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleimann told the Israeli Defence ministry that it would not object to a short offensive in Gaza aimed at toppling Hamas. This is obviously what we are seeing on our screens today, and shows that Egypt is guilty of not only inaction, but active participation in the slaughter of women and children of Palestine.

However, none of this should come as a surprise. Egypt has over 20,000 political prisoners, is roundly condemned worldwide for its abuses of power, regularly arrests, tortures and murders its own citizens who even dare to write a blog, so what does it matter to them the casualties on the other side of the border?

What is surprising however is the number of people who continue to visit this fascist state, pumping it full of hard currency and propping up a regime based upon oppression and tyranny. I ask those who visit this country out choice to save their money and visit a country that respects humanity. Through your hard currency, Egypt is able to invest in its export industries which it then sells to Israel ( over $90 million in 2005 ), and which in turn is used to fund a war machine hell-bent on destroying Gaza.

Walaykum salam,

Saturday, 10 January 2009

5 Ways the So-Called “Muslim” Leaders could help Gaza, But Don’t

Salam Alaykum,

We are I am sure had hundreds of emails through from friends, activists and organisations urging us to participate in various small actions we can carry out in order to Help Gaza. These range from an ongoing boycott of Israeli produce, demonstrations, petitions, and letters to members of parliament.

However, no matter what we do we still feel fairly helpless in what we can do to stop the massacre happening in Gaza. We surely know, in our heart of hearts, that our small actions may not be having the impact we hope they have. We should still continue to carry out these actions however, and make dua’ that Allah(swt) grants victory to the muslims og Gaza, ameen.

Instead, this article intend to focus on an issue that is seemingly ignored in the appeals that we receive, as well as the actions we participate in. This is the issue of the “muslim” governments and their complete inaction with regards Gaza, and in some cases their efforts to help the other side, this side being Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom. I decided to write this after learning that a non-muslim leader, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, had expelled the Israeli Ambassador. This reverberated around the world, and indeed placed pressure on Israel through a small action that it never anticipated. It made me think how much impact a state can have on another, versus how much impact 1000’s of us, the stateless, have upon a state. I thought of 5 ways that the Arab / “Muslim” countries could help, and have listed them below.

1. Open the Borders

Currently the border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip is closed. This has a massive impact upon the peoples basic survival. In Gaza, 80% of them relied on humanitarian aid due to poverty, even before the Israeli actions. Fuel, Spare parts, Cotton, and other essential goods were prevented by Israel even before their bombing campaign. Baby Milk, Flour, Cooking oil and other items were scarce before the bombing campaign by the Israelis, and now there is NO aid or goods getting through. Hospitals are subjected to powercuts lasting 12 hours or more, meaning the injured are not getting proper treatment during this time.

Egypt has so far failed to do this. Not only have the not opened the border, but they are actively repelling those who try to cross for urgent medical treatment. Egypt fired shots at the muslims on Palestine on the 28th December 2008, among the first days in the crisis. They also received $23 Million in aid last year from the United States, in order to close up tunnels being used by the Palestinians to get essential food and medical supplies into Gaza. Germany have also pledged to provide staff and equipment in order to help Egypt close the tunnels and seal the border. All this is occurring when the muslims of Gaza do not have any functioning infrastructure and are dependent on these tunnels.

If Egypt were to open the border, the Gaza crisis would be all but averted. Supplies, aid, International efforts from “muslim” countries and muslim supporters could enter the Gaza strip and help. Independent journalists and news networks could cover the crisis.

2. Stop Trade With Israel

Whilst muslims from the UK are in the midst of a boycott, putting back peppers labelled “Israel”, walking past Marks and Spencers without a second glance, in order to cease any trade with Israel, the “muslim” nations are trading with them like never before.

With Jordan ( And let us not forget that “King” Abdullah recently gave blood to help the innocents of Gaza ), they imported least $78 Million worth of Israeli goods to the territory in 2004, and no doubt that figure has increased. Jordan also exported $130 Million of goods to Israel. In 2006, Military expenditure as a percentage of GDP was 7.3%. This would mean that a significant portion of the $78 Million went towards the same Israeli tanks and planes that we see attacking Gaza today.

Other states have followed this pattern. Turkey imported goods from Israel worth $903 Million in 2005, an incredible figure.Egypt imported $90 Million of Israeli goods in 2005, whilst Morocco Imported $11.5 Million, Tunisia $1.9 Million, the list goes on. By contrast, export of goods and services from the Palestinian territories ( if one accepts such a term ) suffers from high unemployment rates, lack of investment in infrastructure, lack of knowledge and skills, meaning that its total exports WORLDWIDE are one fifth than that of the “muslim” countries purchases from Israel. Is it too much to ask that the trade that the “Muslim” countries do with Israel, they instead direct their money and resources to the impoverished muslims of Palestine?

3. Recall their Ambassadors and Cut Diplomatic Relations Immediately

I am sure half the world cheered when Hugo Chavez, a left-wing non-muslim president of Venezuela ( a country with a muslim population of approximately 0.6% ), expelled the Israeli Ambassador. He stated, whilst commenting on this expulsion, “The Israeli army is cowardly attacking worn-out, innocent people, while they claim that they are defending their people. I call on the people of Israel to stand up against that government, to demand, to put a hand on their hearts and look at their children, and I call on the world to stop this madness.”

If only our so-called leaders were so brave. As of today Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Egypt, Eritrea, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Qatar (trade relations), Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have continued to maintain ties and relations with Israel. That is 15 muslim-majority countries that still have not even so much as expelled their ambassador or trade representatives whilst the muslims in Gaza are slaughtered.

Recalling ambassadors and expelling Israeli one would be an embarrassment for Israel, and would heap create diplomatic pressure upon Israel to end their war on muslims. Of course, none of the countries have emitted so much as a whimper against their Israeli representatives, let alone take steps to expel them.

4. Begin an Oil Embargo

When we see Jets over Gaza, or tanks / ARVs roll into Gaza, they need oil in order to function. Lots of Oil. Under estimates, each plane requires 85 Gallons per minute. If we assume that each mission lasts for 2 hours, this is 10,000 gallons per sortie (mission). This means that Israel, since the war began, has required 15 Million gallons of fuel. This fuel is provided by the USA.

The OPEC countries provide over 1134 Million Gallons of Oil per day around the world. If Oil production were to seize, the impact upon the global economy would be enormous, as well as the USA no longer supplying fuel to Israel, as it would be scarce. Country to popular belief, US oil reserves are nowhere near significant enough to allow the fueling of a proxy war via Israel. The fighting would be over within days, perhaps even sooner than this.

5. Threaten to mobilise their Armies and Air Force

If one looks through the list of largest Armed forces, we can see that “muslim” countries easily figure in the top 20. Pakistan has 650,000 troops, Iran 545, 000, Egypt 450,000 Turkey 514,000, Indonesia 316,000, Syria 296,000, and the list goes on. This is a combined 2.8 Million troops. Out of these countries, there are a combined 16,000 Tanks, 3,000 Aircraft and over 200 Naval Vessels. These are truly astonishing figures, in which forces outnumber the size of the Israeli force by almost 11 to 1.

Simply the threat of united military action would be enough to stop Israels slaughter of Palestinians, without a shot needing to be fired. However, these countries would rather use their troops against their own populations, as we have seen with demonstrations in Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, whilst Egypt actually fired on the muslims of Palestine from the Rafah crossing.

5 Steps we can do

Once we understand that the problem of this conflict can be solved with a proper human leadership instead of the taghut ( allies of evil ) governments that we see today, we can understand that we can stop the slaughter of Gaza by stopping our trade and embarking upon protests and actions against these treacherous governments, who are the real problem regarding Gaza (Along with the United States and Gaza of course.)

Below are five actions we can do :-

1. Protest against these governments

Arrange demonstrations, blockades, petitions, letters to the media both in the west and the muslim world. This will create pressure upon the governments to do something, however small.

2. Organise an Economic Boycott

Refuse to purchase goods from these governments. Though this may harm individual businesses, it will also create resentment on the part of those who are made to suffer because of their countries actions. In most cases, because these countries are so endemically corrupt the only people impacted would be those with close government connections.

3. Refuse Tourism

Many offers are available to visit Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and others , whilst the muslims of Gaza are suffering. Do not visit these countries unless you have family there, and do not inject your hard currency into their economies. Most of the tourist drives are highly unislamic in the first place ( Alcohol, nightclubs, gambling, riba transactions all play a part at most resorts ). Advise your non-muslim colleagues to do the same, explaining how their tourism industry is actually leading to people being killed.

4. Talk to citizens of these countries

Mention the details of this campaign to those who are citizens of the countries. Inform them of the damage that their country specifically is doing to the muslims of Gaza.

5. Spread the message through the internet

Let people know that this situation is not just black and white, Israel vs Gaza. Let them know that the “Muslim” countries are specifically aiding the Israelis through their actions in co-operation with the hidden hand of the United states.

I thank you for taking the time to read this note, and remember inshallah we can all play a part in ending the oppression of the muslims of Gaza.

Walaykum Salam,