An Interview with Brigitte Gabriel

Brigitte Gabriel is a wonderful author and activist who has first hand experience dealing with Islam, Islamic extremists and Islamic terrorist organisations. Here is an interesting interview that appeared on the New York Times website.

I recommend her book ‘Because They Hate’ to anyone interested in Islamists, the Lebanese Civil War, Role of Israel in Lebanese Christian resistance or just a touching human story.

As a Lebanese-Christian immigrant who spent her girlhood amid the bloody devastation of the Lebanese civil war, you have lately emerged as one of the most vehement critics of radical Islam in this country. Are you concerned that your new book, “They Must Be Stopped,” will feed animosity toward Muslims? I do not think I am feeding animosity. I am bringing an issue to light. I disapprove of any religion that calls for the killing of other people. If Christianity called for that, I would condemn it.

What about all the moderate Muslims who represent our hope for the future? Why don’t you write about them? The moderate Muslims at this point are truly irrelevant. I grew up in the Paris of the Middle East, and because we refused to read the writing on the wall, we lost our country to Hezbollah and the radicals who are now controlling it.

In your new book, you write about the Muslim presence in America and bemoan the rise of Islamic day schools and jihad summer camp. Is there really such a thing? Yes. Instead of taking lessons on swimming and gymnastics, the kids are listening to speakers give lectures titled “Preparation for Death” and “The Life in the Grave.”

You also lament the public foot baths that have been installed at the University of Michigan and elsewhere to accommodate Muslim students. I lived in the Middle East for the first 24 years of my life. Never once did I see any foot-washing basins in airports or public buildings. So why are they pushing them down the throats of Americans?

I can’t get upset if people want to wash their feet before they pray. This is the way they are taking over the West. They are doing it culturally inch by inch. They don’t need to fire one bullet. Look what is happening in Europe. Do we want to become like “Eurabia”?

But relatively few Muslims live in this country — about three million, or 1 percent of the population, whereas Amsterdam, for instance, has been estimated to be as high as 24 percent Muslim. They started as guest workers in Europe; they grow at a much faster rate than any other religion.

Your last book related the story of your childhood in southern Lebanon, where you hid out in a bomb shelter for seven years after your house was destroyed by a Muslim militia. Were you surprised it became a best seller? No, I was not surprised. Anyone can relate to a story about human suffering inflicted by radicals.

Are your parents still in Lebanon? I became an orphan at the age of 23. Both my parents are buried in Israel, on Mount Zion, with Oskar Schindler.

Why did you bury them in Israel? I wanted to honor my parents. After all, it is the Holy Land. And I wanted to ensure that both my children will know where my loyalty lies — with Israel, because Israel for me represents democracy, respect and human rights, something that no other country in the Arabic world offers.

Are you an agent of the U.S. government? No.

Are you underwritten by the C.I.A.? No. Are you kidding? In 2000, I voted for Al Gore.

But I see that R. James Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A., serves on the board of American Congress for Truth, your educational foundation. We also have John Loftus, a staunch Democrat and former Justice Department prosecutor. We are not Red or Blue.

Where do you live? I do not share that information because of the death threats I receive.

Threats from anyone we know? Al Qaeda mentioned my name on their top Internet sites and recently sent a press release about my work.

If you are worried about death threats, why would you put a glamorous photograph of yourself on the cover of your new book? In Lebanon, we were raised to be glamorous, feminine and sensual. It’s the only good thing we inherited from the French.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/magazine/17wwln-Q4-t.html?_r=1&ref=books&oref=slogin

Blaming Others (Farooq Sulehria)

The Amnesty International report on human rights for the year 2007 is out. The Muslim world constitutes, as usual, bleakest chapter. Every single country across the Muslim world has been pointed out by the Amnesty International either for executions and torture or discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities. Punishments never handed down even during the Stone Age, have been awarded in 21st century Muslim world. In one case, two Saudi nationals were awarded 7,000 lashes. Yes, 7,000. And executions? Well, 335 in Iran, 158 in Saudi Arabia and 135 in Pakistan. Violation of human rights, it seems, is the only thing that unites the otherwise divided Muslim world.

The report is no exception. The Muslim world cuts a sorry figure every time a global watchdog releases its findings. Freedom of expression here remains curtailed, Reporters Sans Frontieres annually reports. Regarding freedom of expression, there is a joke often told in Arab world. At a meeting, a US journalist says: “We have complete freedom of expression in the US. We can criticise the US president as much as we like.” The Arab journalist replies. “We also have complete freedom of expression in Arab world. We can also criticise the US president as much as we like.”

Similarly, it is either Bangladesh or Pakistan or Nigeria which is on top of Transparency International’s corruption indexes. However, when Nobel laureates gather in Stockholm every December, Muslim scientists and writers are conspicuous by their absence. In case, as Naguib Mahfouz is crowned, he is stabbed and rendered paralysed. The irony, or tragedy, is that his attacker had not even read his excellent books. Or we disown Dr Abdul Salam just because he belonged to the Ahmadiya community. Salam’s case deserves special mention since it underlines the absurdity that characterises this part of the world.

When all else fails, “Jews” and “Christian” West are there to lay the blame for all our ills. Conspiracy theories instead of scientific, rational thought holds sway across much of the Muslim world. And every time a rights abuse is highlighted in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, a typical Muslim answer is: Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya. True, imperialism and Zionism have a hand in our predicament. However, there are many wounds one can only describe as self-inflicted.

Take, for instance, the Iran-Iraq war, one of the last century’s bloodiest conflicts. There is no denying the fact that the United States backed the Saddam regime. But it was the Arab sheikhdoms, panicked at the Iranian revolution, that stoked the flames of war. And, ironically, now in the post-Saddam era when the “Christian” West has written off Iraq’s Saddam-era debt worth $66 billion, Iraq’s Arab brothers refuse to write off that country’s $67 billion loans.

Similarly, last century’s bloodiest Muslim genocide was not carried out by Serbs, Israelis, Americans, Europeans or Hindus. It was Pakistan’s military that refused to respect a democratic verdict and plunged East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, into an ocean of blood. Millions were killed, maimed, raped and rendered homeless. Luckily, Pakistan has a “Hindu” neighbour. “Hindus are born enemies of Islam’. Hence, Pakistani children are now taught that a Bengali traitor (revered by Bengalis as founder of Bangladesh), in connivance with our “Hindu” neighbour, dismembered Pakistan. Ironically, of all her South Asian neighbours, Pakistan enjoys most cordial relations with the world’s only Hindu state, Nepal. The other big genocide was perpetrated by Indonesia. The target was: its own citizens who were members of the Communist Party.

Figures are not available but Israel perhaps cannot match Iran in executing Arabs. Iran’s confessional regime is a champion of the Arab cause in Occupied Territories but Arabs of its Khuzestan province are regularly sent to the gallows. Seizing the opportunity, one may also point out how only recently Afghan refugees were driven out of Iran as if Afghan refugees were not as Muslim as Palestinians. And, by the way in the fallen “Emirate of Afghanistan” itself, Hazaras were slaughtered by the Taliban in their thousands almost a decade ago – mainly because Hazaras are Shia. In Iraq, more people have been killed in Shia-Sunni clashes than in resisting the US occupation. Shia-Sunni clashes in Pakistan have claimed more lives than those lost in its wars against India. Ironically, this only “nuclear power” of the Muslim world is not being occupied on its eastern front by its “Hindu” neighbour but is losing territory on its western front to its own citizens.

One can mention from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait to the recent Hamas-Fatah infighting (a shameful tribute to Israel on its 60th anniversary). The list is long. Indeed, unending. However, the solution to all our problems is always simple: return to an imagined past which, mercifully for the people of the seventh century, never existed. Every time, a scientist in the West is ready with an invention, our readymade answer is: we knew about it 1,400 years ago what the West has found only now. We kill Theo van Gogh when confronted with a film. We burn down our own cities in response to a blasphemous and racist caricature. Still, we refuse to understand that our answer to every “provocation” is either a fatwa or mindless violence – perhaps because creativity is anathema to us. Not because we lack fertile minds, but because we lack liberation and freedom — liberation from self-imposed mental, moral, and cultural censors. And freedom to think and express. Time to heed the great Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, who said:

Five thousand years

Growing beards

In our caves.

Our currency is unknown,

Our eyes are a haven for flies.

Friends,

Smash the doors,

Wash your brains,

Wash your clothes.

Friends,

Read a book,

Write a book,

Grow words, pomegranates and grapes,

Sail to the country of fog and snow.

Nobody knows you exist in caves.

People take you for a breed of mongrels.

This great article appeared in the The News International:
http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=118852

A Tale of Two Peoples: Palestine and Tibet

The long-suffering Tibetans have been in the news. This happens perhaps once or twice a decade. In a more moral world, however, public opinion would be far more preoccupied with Tibetans than with Palestinians, would be as harsh on China as it is on Israel, and would be as fawning on Israel as it now is on China.

But, alas, the world is, as it has always been, a largely mean-spirited and morally insensitive place, where might is far more highly regarded than right.

Consider the facts: Tibet, at least 1,400 years old, is one of the world’s oldest nations, has its own language, its own religion and even its own ethnicity. Over 1 million of its people have been killed by the Chinese, its culture has been systematically obliterated, 6,000 of its 6,200 monasteries have been looted and destroyed, and most of its monks have been tortured, murdered or exiled.

Palestinians have none of these characteristics. There has never been a Palestinian country, never been a Palestinian language, never been a Palestinian ethnicity, never been a Palestinian religion in any way distinct from Islam elsewhere. Indeed, “Palestinian” had always meant any individual living in the geographic area called Palestine. For most of the first half of the 20th century, “Palestinian” and “Palestine” almost always referred to the Jews of Palestine. The United Jewish Appeal, the worldwide Jewish charity that provided the nascent Jewish state with much of its money, was actually known as the United Palestine Appeal. Compared to Tibetans, few Palestinians have been killed, its culture has not been destroyed nor its mosques looted or plundered, and Palestinians have received billions of dollars from the international community. Unlike the dying Tibetan nation, there are far more Palestinians today than when Israel was created.

None of this means that a distinct Palestinian national identity does not now exist. Since Israel’s creation such an identity has arisen and does indeed exist. Nor does any of this deny that many Palestinians suffered as a result of the creation of the third Jewish state in the area, known — since the Romans renamed Judea — as “Palestine.”

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