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Showing posts from September, 2012

Reassessing the Afghanistan Crisis

Time to be honest about Afghanistan
By Rory Stewart, Financial Times, September 21, 2012 More than 50 US and British soldiers have been killed by their Afghan partners this year. The attacks have been described as Taliban infiltration of the police, which could be addressed by better vetting. But the very words “Taliban”, “police”, and “vetting” are misleading.

Insofar as it is possible to understand the motives of the attackers (almost all are killed immediately) it seems that only a quarter have any connection to the Taliban. The “police” in question are a hastily formed, poorly trained militia. Ninety-two out of 100 recruits in a Helmand unit I visited last year were unable to write their own name, or recognise numbers up to 10. Their five weeks of training amounted to little more than weapons-firing and basic literacy. Thirty per cent of recruits deserted that year. With up to 10,000 villagers recruited in a month, “vetting” was not a serious option.
High quality globa…

Future of the U.S. - Muslim Relations ?

U.S.-Muslim Relations: The Second Coming?
By Mohsin Mohi-ud din, Huffington Post, September 21, 2012

In the aftermath of the tragic attack of the US Embassy in Libya that claimed several US diplomats' lives, American flags burn across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, in over 12 countries. Many non-Muslim Americans are asking themselves: "why are they so enraged about an amateur film?; or, "why do they hate us?" The protests are no longer about the film. Increasingly, the public displays of anti-Americanism today reflect the state of affairs between the US and the 'Muslim world'.

Of the non-Muslims in the West, 58% consider Muslims fanatical and a median of 50% believe Muslims are violent. According to Pew Research surveys from 2011, median percentages of Muslims who identify the U.S. and Europe as violent, greedy, or immoral, is above 50%. On these facts, the ideological divide between the Muslim and Western world is a matter of concern to both…

Prophet Mohammad's Charter of Privileges to Christians

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Prophet Mohammad's Letter to the Monks of Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai

HISTORICAL CONTEXT:

In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery visited Prophet Muhammed and requested for protection. The Prophet responded by granting them a charter of rights - copied below. St. Catherine’s Monastery is located at the foot of Mt. Sinai and is the world’s oldest monastery. It possesses a huge collection of Christian manuscripts, second only to the Vatican, and is a world heritage site. The original letter was taken away in 1517 by the Turkish Sultan Selim I and is now in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, but the sultan gave the monks a copy of it and sanctioned its terms.

TEXT:

This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.

Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them.

No comp…

Pankaj Mishra on 'The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia'

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Interview: Pankaj Mishra's Eye-Opening Asian Perspective on Modern History by Nadia Rasul, Asia Society, September 5th, 2012 

Versatile Indian critic and journalist Pankaj Mishra expands his portfolio significantly with his latest book,From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia, a wide-ranging and frequently pugnacious history of the intellectual currents underpinning nationalist political movements in China, Egypt, Japan, India, Iran, Turkey, Vietnam and the rest of Asia from the late 1800s through the present day. From the Ruins of Empire begins with the Japanese victory over the Russian navy in 1905, which Mishra considers a turning point in the history of modern world, one whose ramifications echoed throughout Asia and the Middle East. Russia's defeat, writes Mishra, proved to the subjugated peoples of the Middle East and Asia that the Western colonial powers were not invincible. From there, Mishra gives an alternative perspective on the …