Monday, 6 July 2020

China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization



 The hundreds of millions of dollars the government pours into birth control has transformed Xinjiang from one of China’s fastest-growing regions to among its slowest in just a few years, according to new research obtained by The Associated Press in advance of publication by China scholar Adrian Zenz.

“This kind of drop is unprecedented....there’s a ruthlessness to it,” said Zenz, a leading expert in the policing of China’s minority regions. “This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uighurs.”

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo denounced the policies in a statement Monday.

“We call on the Chinese Communist Party to immediately end these horrific practices,” he said.

China’s foreign minister derided the story as “fabricated” and “fake news,” saying the government treats all ethnicities equally and protects the legal rights of minorities.

“Everyone, regardless of whether they’re an ethnic minority or Han Chinese, must follow and act in accordance with the law,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday when asked about the AP story.

Chinese officials have said in the past that the new measures are merely meant to be fair, allowing both Han Chinese and ethnic minorities the same number of children.

For decades, China had one of the most extensive systems of minority entitlements in the world, with Uighurs and others getting more points on college entrance exams, hiring quotas for government posts and laxer birth control restrictions. Under China’s now-abandoned ‘one child’ policy, the authorities had long encouraged, often forced, contraceptives, sterilization and abortion on Han Chinese. But minorities were allowed two children — three if they came from the countryside.

Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most authoritarian leader in decades, those benefits are now being rolled back. In 2014, soon after Xi visited Xinjiang, the region’s top official said it was time to implement “equal family planning policies” for all ethnicities and “reduce and stabilize birth rates.” In the following years, the government declared that instead of just one child, Han Chinese could now have two, and three in Xinjiang’s rural areas, just like minorities.

But while equal on paper, in practice Han Chinese are largely spared the abortions, sterilizations, IUD insertions and detentions for having too many children that are forced on Xinjiang’s other ethnicities, interviews and data show. Some rural Muslims, like Omirzakh, are punished even for having the three children allowed by the law.

State-backed scholars have warned for years that large rural religious families were at the root of bombings, knifings and other attacks the Xinjiang government blamed on Islamic terrorists. The growing Muslim population was a breeding ground for poverty and extremism which could “heighten political risk,” according to a 2017 paper by the head of the Institute of Sociology at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences. Another cited as a key obstacle the religious belief that “the fetus is a gift from God.”

Outside experts say the birth control campaign is part of a state-orchestrated assault on the Uighurs to purge them of their faith and identity and forcibly assimilate them. They’re subjected to political and religious re-education in camps and forced labor in factories, while their children are indoctrinated in orphanages. Uighurs, who are often but not always Muslim, are also tracked by a vast digital surveillance apparatus.

“The intention may not be to fully eliminate the Uighur population, but it will sharply diminish their vitality,” said Darren Byler, an expert on Uighurs at the University of Colorado. “It will make them easier to assimilate into the mainstream Chinese population.”

Some go a step further.

“It’s genocide, full stop. It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide,” said Joanne Smith Finley, who works at Newcastle University in the U.K. “These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population.”

Link

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Anti-Racism: Prophet Muhammad’s Example



Relations between different ethnic and religious groups are deteriorating at a rapid pace. Muslims are pitted against non-Muslims and black and brown people are pitted against white.

What is needed now more than ever is a role model whose teachings counter bigotry and whose acts serve as a model for coexistence. I believe that role model is none other than Prophet Muhammad.

Approximately 1,400 years before the Civil Rights movement in the US and the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa, the Prophet Muhammad dealt with the issues of xenophobia and prejudice in Arabia. In this short piece, I highlight how the Prophet fought against the idea of judging individuals and groups based solely on their skin color and ancestry.

Prophet Muhammad’s anti-racist views are seen in his friendship with Bilal ibn Rabah, a black slave who rose to a leading position within the Muslim community of 7th century Arabia. One story relates how Muhammad defended Bilal after Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari, one of the Prophet’s companions, called Bilal “the son of a black woman.” Annoyed with this emphasis of identifying people by skin color, Muhammad criticized Abu Dharr by stating “you are the man who still has the traits of ignorance in him.”

The Prophet’s reference to Abu Dharr’s ignorance refers to the “pre-Islamic” state of jahiliyyah, an Arabic term meaning “the state of ignorance of Divine guidance.” This period of Arab history before Muhammad’s arrival was marked by “barbarism” and “lawlessness,” as described in the Quran. The Prophet’s anti-racist mentality helped lead Arabs out of this darkness and into the light by guiding them onto the path of justice and equality.

Bilal, who other Muslims referred to as “master” because of his knowledge and grace, became the muezzin of the Prophet, meaning that he was responsible for calling Muslims to the five daily prayers. In choosing Bilal for this honorable role, Muhammad demonstrated that social exclusion and subordination based upon skin color was not to be permitted in an Islamic society.

Before Muhammad revealed his message, Arabs were overly proud of their tribal and ethnic identities, so much so that tribes and ethnic groups became the social standard of society. The Prophet’s teachings changed all of that. He emphasized the importance of piety as the hallmark of respect. In challenging Abu Dharr, Muhammad showed that he was willing to rebuke even his closest companions if that person denigrated someone because of his or her ethnicity. The Prophet believed that this form of “tribalism,” or al-asabiyyah in Arabic, was cancerous because it drove people to ethnic loyalties even if that meant they supported oppression and injustice.

The Prophet’s Last Sermon at Mount Arafat in 632 AD is perhaps his most noteworthy manifestation of anti-racism.

In his speech, Muhammad stated that “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab ... a white person has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”

The Last Sermon is the culminating point of Muhammad’s life. He challenged a disunited population that was constantly engaged in warfare by calling on people to unite under a banner of humanity. By distancing himself from the tendency to categorize others based upon ethnicity, the Prophet preceded the words of Martin Luther King Jr., whose “I Have a Dream” speech called for African Americans to be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Muhammad’s message of anti-racism is especially important now in the US. Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, the African American civil rights leader who is more commonly called Malcolm X, reflected Muhammad’s insistence on harmony. After he performed Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage, El-Shabazz wrote home to his friends that all Muslim pilgrims in Mecca accepted the “Oneness of God.” He added that white people in the US should echo the Muslim pilgrims and “cease to measure and hinder and harm others in terms of their differences in color.” El-Shabazz’s anti-racism perspective mirrors Muhammad’s spirit of friendship and inclusivity. Like the Prophet, El-Shabazz is a role model for the anti-racism movement.

I consider Muhammad to be a quintessential anti-racist figure because he promoted peace and equality. Without a doubt, he advanced human rights in an area of the world that had no previous experience with this practice. Non-Muslims who belittle the Prophet have certainly not considered the examples highlighted above.

To further promote better relations between Muslims and non-Muslims as well as people of different skin colors, it is imperative that media outlets highlight Muhammad’s anti-racist ethos. Rather than being a divisive figure, Muhammad is an inspiration for those working to rid the world of the evil of racism.

Dr. Craig Considine is a scholar, global speaker, media contributor, and public intellectual based at the Department of Sociology at Rice University. He holds a PhD from Trinity College – University of Dublin, an MSc from Royal Holloway – University of London, and a BA from American University in Washington, DC. Dr. Considine is a U.S. Catholic of Irish and Italian descent.

Link

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Palestinians mourn death of a Bangladeshi war hero



Palestinian activists are mourning the loss of Saiful Azam, 79, a Bangladesh fighter pilot who died of natural causes in the capital, Dhaka, on Sunday.

Azam, also a former legislator from Bangladesh's mid-northern Pabna-3 constituency, was regarded as a legendary figure for Bangladeshi people, thanks to his record as an ace fighter pilot.

How the US and Israel exchange tactics in violence and control
A unique figure in the history of Bangladesh, Azam fought in wars as a fighter pilot in three different countries - Jordan, Iraq, and Pakistan.

During the 1967 Six-Day War, he was the only pilot to have downed four Israeli aircraft.

Mourning him on Facebook, Palestinian historian Osama al-Ashqar hailed Azam as a great airman.

"Our brothers in Bangladesh and Pakistan were our partners in resistance and defending the Al-Aqsa Mosque," the holy site in Jerusalem, he added.

The Palestinian professor Naji Shoukri posted on his Twitter prayers mourning Azam.

"Saiful Azam loved Palestine and fought for the sake of Jerusalem," said Shoukri, saluting him and wishing him God's grace.

Renowned Palestinian journalist Tamer al-Mishal lauded Azam, calling him "the Eagle of the Air".

Downing four Israeli warplanes
On June 5, 1967, four Israeli jets were descending on Jordan's Mafraq airbase to smash the country's tiny air force, shortly after the entire Egyptian air force had been destroyed.

Jordanian air force commanders deployed Azam to thwart the attack, shooting down two aircraft. He was shifted to Iraq two days later to defend air bases, where he shot down two more Israeli planes.

In recognition of Azam's contributions, he was conferred with military awards by Jordan and Iraq. The United States also gave him the Living Eagles title in 2001 for his outstanding skills.

After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the veteran pilot joined the Bangladesh Air Force to serve his homeland. In 1980, he retired and joined the civil service and later took up a political career.

Describing Azam as the pride of Bangladesh, former chief of Border Guards Bangladesh, Major General Fazlur Rahman, said his name will remain a part of Bangladesh's history.

"He is a source of inspiration for every soldier in the battleground on how to defeat the big enemy with limited weapons. He set a milestone in optimum use of skills and courage during war," Rahman said.

Born in a remote area in Bangladesh’s central district of Pabna in 1941, he spent his childhood in the Indian city of Kolkata with his father. After the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, his family migrated to Bangladesh (then East Pakistan).

According to the South Asia-based analytical website Roar Media, Azam left home at the age of 14 for higher secondary education in then West Pakistan (now Pakistan). In 1958 he was admitted to Pakistan Air Force Cadet College, where he completed his education as a pilot officer.

Popular defence blog Fighter Jets World also recorded that after learning the fundamentals of aviation in Pakistan, Azam was sent for advanced air combat training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

During the 1965 India-Pakistan war he also downed an Indian warplane, encouraging Pakistani forces to stand against India with limited warfare tools.

The act was widely applauded in Pakistan, which awarded Azam Pakistani's Star of Courage (Sitara-e-Jurat) medal, the third-most prestigious award of its military.

Link

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Hadiths of the day; Do good


 Verily, God will not change the condition of a people until they change that which is within themselves." The Holy Quran, 13:11

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "Whoever sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart - and that is the weakest of faith." Sahih Muslim

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong. But (instead) accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong if they do evil." Al-Tirmidhi

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Shall I not inform you of something more excellent than fasting, prayer and charity?. . .It is putting things right between people." Sunan of Abu-Dawood

A person once asked the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who is the best of humankind. The Prophet replied: "A person whose life is long and whose deeds are good." The Prophet was then asked which deed is best. He responded by saying: "That you should leave this world with the mention of God fresh on your tongue." Al-Tirmidhi