Sunday, September 21, 2014

Modi has a Jekyll and Hyde personality: Asaduddin Owaisi -

Modi has a Jekyll and Hyde personality: Asaduddin Owaisi

21 Sep 2014 01:09 AM, IST

Modi has a Jekyll and Hyde personality: Asaduddin Owaisi
Asaduddin Owaisi in Aap Ki Adalat show on India TV news channel on 20 Sep 2014


New Delhi, 21 Sep 2014: Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have a “Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde personality” vis-a-vis the Muslims. In an interview with Rajat Sharma’s show Aap Ki Adalat aired on India TV channel Saturday night, Lok Sabha Member from Hyderabad, Owaisi said: “On August 15 from Red Fort, the PM called for a 10-year moratorium on communal riots. I say, why 10 years, why not 100 years? But what sort of a taskmaster is he, when he says one thing, and his MP Yogi Adityanath says the opposite. 

What kind of a taskmaster is he, when his MP Sakshi Maharaj says all Madarsas are centres of terrorism and the PM's government gives Rs 209 crores to madarsas? One of his ministers Menaka Gandhi says, cows and cattle are being slaughtered, and on the other hand his government reduces import duty from 10 pc to 6 pc on machines for slaughtering animals. You may not agree with me, but this denotes a Jekyll & Hyde personality.”
The interview was aired at 10 PM but the channel posted excerpts from the interview on its website around three hours before the telecast.
The MIM chief questioned BJP’s credo of “justice for all, appeasement of none”, by alleging that minorities are being discriminated against.
Owaisi alleged: “Is it not discrimination that that the Supreme Court found that Muslim youths were made the target in the Akshardham attack case, the investigations were conducted wrongly and the accused lost 10 to 11 precious years of their lives?
“Is it not discrimination that anybody trying to sell properties in Gujarat needs to take permission from the state government?
“Is it not a fact that the file seeking permission to prosecute an IB official in Ishrat Jahan encounter case is lying with the government? Can anybody look into the eyes of Zakia Jafri and say that justice is being done to her? Sohrabuddin's brother is still seeking justice.
“Is it not discrimination that the officers who carried out encounters in Gujarat are back in service? What message are you trying to give?”
When Rajat Sharma played out video clippings of his and his brother Akbaruddin Owaisi’s hate speeches, the MIM leader said, his brother’s case was sub judice, and he would prefer not to comment and await the court’s verdict.
Barred from entering Azamgarh

Owaisi lashed out at Samajwadi Party supremeo Mulayam Singh Yadav for not allowing him to enter Azamgarh at least four times in the last one and a half years.
“I can stand up and speak in Parliament, but in Azamgarh, from where Mulayam Singh is the MP, permission is first given to me and then cancelled.”
When Rajat Sharma pointed out that it was because he could have stoked the communal fire there, Owaisi replied: “If I stoke the fire, or try to demean Mulayam Singh, time will tell. If I say something objectionable, you can book me. I told the Azamgarh SP several times, you can stop me if I make provocative remarks, book me, I am ready to go to jail.

Asaduddin Owaisi in Aap Ki Adalat facing questions of senior journalist Rajat Sharma

“But I cannot understand why Mulayam Singh Yadav had a two-hour secret meeting with VHP leaders before the 84 Kosi Yatra. Were they watching Mughal-e-Azam film? And then, look what happened. This is the real face of Mulayam Singh and it is my duty to expose him”, said Owaisi.
Maharashtra elections

The MIM leader said his party would contest the Maharashtra elections and campaign against both the Congress-NCP and Shiv Sena-BJP combines. 
“Eighty nine per cent of Muslims in Maharashtra presently live below the poverty line. Manmohan Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan can claim to be leaders of Muslims, but the fact remains that Muslims along with Dalits are at the top in urban-rural poverty figures.
“In the Malegaon blast investigation, the Maharashtra ATS accused Muslim boys of carrying out the blast, while the National Investigation Agency said, the blast was carried out by Sadhvi Pragya and Col Purohit. Who is correct?”
Owaisi said, “match fixing is going on in Maharashtra between the Shiv Sena-BJP and Congress-NCP. They tell each other: either you come to power, or we stay in power. But we are telling the Muslims, there are others like us who will work for you.”
The MIM leader revealed how former Congress minister and film star Chiranjeevi offered to create a Union Territory for Hyderabad with a separate assembly.
He said: “Chiranjeevi spent all his life in Hyderabad, he bought properties there. I met him four times in Parliament and told him that Hyderabad should stay with Telangana as because of georgraphical contiguity.
“He told me we will create a separate assembly for Hyderabad, and you can come to power there. I told him, I am not buying that. Hyderabad has been with Telangana historically and geographically."
ISIS and Indian Muslims

Owaisi made it clear that he had publicly appealed to Muslim youths not to support the jehad call from ISIS. "I told Muslim youths at Mecca Masjid that the right jihad would be to join parliamentary democracy, and work for the eradication of illiteracy and poverty among Muslims, instead of joining ISIS."
The MIM leader said: "India was, is and shall remain our country, God willing. Those in power should not view themselves as masters of our destiny. They may have got the power, but they should view everybody as one. India is the world's unique country.
“There is no other country where there are so many religions, cultures, festivals and languages. My fight is not against my country, God willing. India's diversity is its strength. Its pluralistic ethos is its soul.”
India TV channel will repeat telecast of Aap Ki Adalat show with Asaduddin Owaisi on Sunday (Sept 21) at 10 am and 10 pm.

Book Review: 'Heaven's Bankers' by Harris Irfan - Wall Street Journal | Telegraph UK | Independent UK | The Indian Express

Book Review: 'Heaven's Bankers' by Harris Irfan

Shariah banking is a $2 trillion industry thanks to trade in emerging markets.

By connect

Aug. 6, 2014 2:44 p.m. ET
Balancing the altruistic ideals of faith with the need to turn a profit has never been easy: Look no further than the Book of Matthew for an early example of what history's most famous carpenter-cum-rabbi thought of money changers in places of worship. But while Judaism and Christianity historically had strict prohibitions against usury, today it is Muslims who adhere to the most stringent rules regarding finance of the three.

Islamic banking is unique in the world of finance, mostly because of what is prohibited. There are some straightforward bans: No investing in businesses that deal with products considered haram, or forbidden, most commonly pork and alcohol, but also Pop-Tarts (gelatin) and some aftershave (alcohol). Speculative bets are barred, and transactions must be based on real assets, not cash flows. By far the most significant rule is the prohibition on charging interest. The ban is meant to reflect the particular ethical responsibilities bestowed upon financiers: Profits and losses should be shared between debtors and creditors.

Many Muslims believe this risk-sharing approach can help remedy our broken financial system, even if it's difficult to square with mainstream, conventional banking. But a new book by financial industry insider Harris Irfan claims that many of the practitioners of Islamic finance have abandoned this honorable aim in an effort to keep up with the sophisticated tools of Western investment banks.

In "Heaven's Bankers: Inside the Hidden World Of Islamic Finance," Mr. Irfan, an observant Muslim, charts a course from seventh-century Arabia, where Muslim traders invented the precursors to modern checks and trusts while plying the Silk Road, to the 1970s and the establishment of the first Islamic commercial lenders in Dubai, as well as the short-lived "Islamization" of Pakistan's economy. But it's the turbocharged present that is the focus of the book: Islamic banking, otherwise known as Shariah-compliant banking, is now an industry approaching $2 trillion, thanks to soaring trade in emerging markets such as Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

Heaven's Bankers

By Harris Irfan
(Constable, 347 pages, £20)

Mr. Irfan has been a key player throughout much of this contemporary boom, having co-founded the team at Deutsche Bank DBK.XE +2.13% that pioneered modern Shariah-compliant derivatives. He became the global head of Islamic finance at Barclays Capital in 2009, and is now a managing director at European Islamic Investment Bank, one of the few U.K.-based Shariah-financing boutiques. The book provides an up-close look at the tactics Western banks, like Deutsche, Goldman Sachs GS -0.90% and HSBC, HSBA.LN +0.26% have taken to win over 1.6 billion Muslims world-wide, who for years either had to park their religious principles to participate in the global financial system or accept mediocre returns.

But along the way, Mr. Irfan also provides numerous examples of how Western financiers, determined to win over the faithful, have diluted Shariah standards in pursuit of commercial advantage: Bankers delete the word "interest" from deal documents in favor of Shariah-friendly language; Islamic investors wittingly and unwittingly fund businesses where alcohol and pork products are consumed; and Islamic scholars find their names used to suggest that they had given approval to deals they had never reviewed. In one instance that remains murky, a $2 billion Islamic bond deal by Goldman Sachs was sunk after a fatwa, a religious edict green-lighting a deal, failed to pass muster with skeptical Muslim bankers. Even when Western banks go out of their way to accommodate the faithful, things can border on the surreal. Mr. Irfan describes one comic case in which Deutsche Bank is left pondering how a deal that justifies its Shariah credentials by trading real assets can be completed without clogging up the mailroom with millions of sacks of Egyptian fertilizer for years on end.

It's plain, though, that many Western bankers treat Islam as a nuisance: "I don't care about the Shar-eye-ah stuff!" yells one New York-based banker as a cross-border acquisition deal runs into religious requirements. On the flip side, many Muslims, Mr. Irfan argues, also turn a blind eye. Even while chasing a deal to fund a five-star hotel and gigantic clock tower in Mecca, Deutsche Bank finds some companies prepared to settle for Shariah-lite. "I don't understand why you guys need to overanalyse things," the bankers are told by the finance manager at Saudi Binladin Group, the kingdom's biggest construction company. "Just do the deal. Draft up the docs with a structure that roughly works and print the damn thing." Eventually the company loses patience and the deal folds, but not before Deutsche's reputation in Islamic finance is made—in a city where non-Muslims are forbidden, no less.

The industry remains arcane and poorly understood, and often facing accusations that it is somehow linked to terrorist finance: Saudi Binladin Group will forever be overshadowed by the estranged son who ran a rather prominent terrorist network. Banks "are concerned that trading with Islamic financial institutions might somehow taint their own reputation, as if those institutions must by definition have a greater degree of exposure to laundered terrorist money," Mr. Irfan writes. He might have done more to vigorously confront this prejudice.

Given this book's topic, it will find relatively few readers outside of the financial industry. This is a pity, because aside from opening a window into this fascinating world, Mr. Irfan's career provides a case study in the challenges of balancing profit and principle.

As Mr. Irfan assesses the deals he structured at Western investment banks, he realizes that Shariah isn't ultimately being served by the mainstream banking world. Geert Bossuyt, former head of Deutsche Bank's now shuttered Islamic unit, concedes that perhaps "a bank is not an Islamic concept." But Mr. Irfan concludes that for all Islamic finance's shortcomings, its introspection is a source of strength—so long as it can refrain from the self-congratulatory impulses of Western banking and reassert its social mission. His message ought to be recited by bankers of every creed.

Mr. Hunter is a markets reporter at The Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong who previously covered finance in the Persian Gulf
----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Heaven’s Bankers: Inside the Hidden World of Islamic Finance by Harris Irfan, review: 'noble intentions'

Is sharia-compliant banking just a way of twisting the rules?

4 out of 5 stars

Islamic finance is, today, a trillion-dollar industry
Islamic finance is, today, a trillion-dollar industry Photo: Rex Features

8:00AM BST 19 Jul 2014

Even those who assume to know something about sharia – Islamic law – are reticent to make claims about Islamic finance, so complex is this area of law. So when the phrase “sharia-compliant” first emerged in Western financial sectors in the early Nineties, it was seen as little more than an ethical-religious system on the fringes of mainstream financial markets with one main message: the prohibition on charging interest.
Yet today Islamic finance is a trillion-dollar industry with many financial institutions, corporations and governments keen to embrace it as a profit-making alternative to mainstream financial dealings.
Harris Irfan is an insider on two fronts. He is a Muslim and also an expert in finance and commerce. He has worked as an investment banker in Europe and the Middle East and been head of Islamic finance at Barclays; he also founded Cordoba Capital, an Islamic finance advisory firm. Irfan is a man with a mission: to show that Islamic finance might be able to make a real contribution to our economic woes. He asks the reader to consider whether the Islamic world can “bring something of benefit to the Western world, and vice versa”.
This is no mean task, but Irfan uses his own professional and personal experiences to weave together an accessible and interesting story. We get an insight into the birth of the Islamic finance system in the Fifties, to the establishment of the first Muslim banks in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States and the gradual recognition by Western banks of the enormous profit potential in structuring products on a sharia-compliant basis. Traditional clerics were flattered with the attention and remuneration offered by the giants of the banking industry in exchange for their expertise. The prevalence of sharia-compliant bonds, or sukuk, ensured that Islamic finance went global.
While this book isn’t full of jargon, it helps to know something about how the investment industry works. You also need to have some sense of Islamic history and religious concepts – though there is a helpful glossary. But the religious commentary does not overcomplicate the narrative. Anecdotes about the life of the great eighth-century Muslim legal scholar Abu Hanifa, the financial workings of the Ottoman Empire and the modern controversial Pakistani scholar Taqi Usmani all add weight to Irfan’s history.

Islamic finance uses a risk-sharing model. Simply put, in a typical risk-sharing arrangement such as equity finance the parties will share the risk as well as the reward of a contract. In an interest-rate-based debt contract the risk is transferred from the financier or lender to the borrower, where the financier retains both the property rights claim to the principle and interest but also to any collateral.

Though he is broadly a supporter of risk-sharing schemes, Irfan does include the opinions of Muslim scholars who question just how “Islamic” this approach is and whether it offers a real ethical alternative to mainstream investments. Is it simply a clever way of twisting the rules to allow you make as much money as before?

The book takes us right up to the present day with the Bin Ladens and Bob Diamond both making an appearance. Irfan provides an interesting comparative case by discussing the recent controversy surrounding the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Irfan speaks of the embarrassment when the archbishop condemned the high-interest-rate practices of the payday lender Wonga, only to find that the Church of England’s own endowment fund was an investor in the company. Irfan shows that ethical finance is a concern for other religious traditions and that in matters of wealth, morality matters.

His concluding chapter ponders the future of Islamic banking after some sharia-compliant finances were unfairly equated with funding terrorism and banks and corporations began to close down their Islamic wings.

But while there has been scaremongering over the issue, he also acknowledges those Muslim financiers who feel that they have failed to truly bring something worthwhile to the banking sector to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Irfan’s intentions might be noble, but I suspect that here in the West he faces a real struggle. The big banks and companies hit by the financial crisis are determined to recover and some are increasingly wary of Islamic banking for all kinds of reasons. To this many might add that Muslims have bigger issues to contend with than the complex and arbitrary nature of sharia-compliant finance.

Heaven’s Bankers: Inside the Hidden World of Islamic Finance by Harris Irfan
368pp, Constable, Telegraph offer price: £18 (PLUS £1.95 p&p) (RRP £20, ebook £12.34). Call 0844 871 1515 or see

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Heaven's Bankers by Harris Irfan, book review: How high deals of Islamic banking were brought low


Thursday 17 July 2014

Immediately after 9/11, international banks profiled their Middle Eastern account holders in meticulous detail. There was a general suspicion that they were aiding terrorists. The account holders reacted by transforming their clean money to the Gulf states, triggering a regional explosion in bank assets, stock markets and property.

The simultaneous rise in Islamophobia in the West encouraged a multitude of young and bright Muslim bankers and financial experts to migrate to the Emirates. The sheikdoms welcomed them by creating freehold property zones. The scene was thus set for Islamic finance to emerge from a curiosity on the margins to become a lucrative global enterprise.

Harris Irfan was amongst those who migrated to Dubai. As soon as he arrived, the ruler established the Dubai International Financial Centre – "a square mile of real state on a patch of desert with little surrounding infrastructure". The sole purpose of the Centre was to develop a thriving Islamic finance industry. In Heaven's Bankers: Inside the Hidden World of Islamic Bankers, Irfan relates the punch-drunk story of what happened next.

As a discipline, Islamic economics has a much longer history than indicated here. Its roots can be traced back to the more hopeful times of 1960s and 1970s, when there was a great deal of talk about "Islamic resurgence". Committed Muslim scholars everywhere were trying to develop alternatives to capitalism and socialism. The goal was to develop an economic system based on Islamic principles that outlaw interest and speculation, insist on limiting uncertainty, and aim at promoting equity, responsibility, and social justice. Since then Islamic economics has developed into a sophisticated theory and practice.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Islamic banks mushroomed in Egypt, India, Iran, Malaysia and Pakistan. But before the boom chartered by Irfan, Islamic finance was a limited local affair. One of the first experiments was the Mir Ghamr Savings Bank in Egypt, a small profit-sharing institution that did not give or receive interest, engaged in commerce and industry, sharing its profits with depositors. It was more a vehicle for savings and investments than a bank. Later Islamic banks followed a similar model.

Things changed when the "rocket scientists of Deutsche Bank", Goldman Sachs, HSBC and other big boys arrived on the scene. They saw Islamic finance as an opportunity for quick profit. Muftis and Mullahs were hired at footballers' salaries to make some of their product "Sharia compliant", and bankers such as Irfan to sell them to an unsuspected Muslim public. Soon we had products such as sukuk (the equivalent of interest on bonds), hilah contracts (which substituted bank charges for interest) and Islamic finance became embroiled in hedge funds, derivatives and other dubious instruments justified in the name of Islam.

Irfan tells the story of high jinks and deceitful behaviour with great relish. While he is rather reverential towards "billion-dollar scholars", he does expose their knack for finding religious justification for every seedy product. The debate between scholars attacking and defending Islamic finance is particularly illuminating.In the end, Irfan realises that Islamic finance is nothing but a confidence trick.

He is a "charlatan", suffering from "incoherent pietism" and "cognitive dissonance". The very institution of the bank, as it operates today, is intrinsically un-Islamic, forcing bankers such as him "to squeeze a square peg into a round hole". It is a refreshing confession. It will upset the pious eager to find "Sharia compliant" institutions for their hard-earned cash. But it vindicates what so many intellectuals have been saying for decades. One failure, albeit a monumental one, should not mean that the search for an ethical Islamic economy should cease. In fact, it begins all over again.

Ziauddin Sardar is the editor of 'Critical Muslim

----- ----- ---- ----- -----

The Islamic Origins of Capitalist Enterprise

Harris Irfan | Posted: July 12, 2014 3:25 am
BY: Harris Irfan
Book: Heaven’s Bankers; Inside the Hidden World of Islamic Finance
Author: Harris Irfan
Publisher: Constable & Robinson
Pages: 347 pages
Price: Rs 999

The work of Abu Hanifa [in 7th century Iraq] and others like him on the fundamentals of jurisprudence, followed by the codifying of commercial law, would eventually lead to the development of a widespread money economy, with gold and silver giving way to paper notes. At first, traders relied on prophetic injunctions against usury or uncertainty in transactions or manifest examples of immoral behaviour. As scholars like Abu Hanifa built upon prophetic traditions, cheques and letters of credit followed naturally and before long a market-oriented capitalist economy — underpinned by an ethical code — was thriving in the Islamic world.

Arab and Persian merchants forged trade links with India and the Far East, becoming indispensable in the chain of trade between East and West. An Arab merchant from Baghdad might travel to Cordoba in Spain, taking with him a letter of credit — a suftaja — to be encashed on arrival by an agent, part of a network of money transfer that came to be known as hawala. Indeed the hawala would go on to influence the development of the agency concept in common and civil laws throughout Europe. The saqq — the forerunner of our modern-day cheque — allowed the early banker to become indispensable to every trader as a guarantor of paper money at markets and cities throughout the Islamic world…

Muslim traders would share the profits of their ventures with their sponsors in a pre-defined manner that would come to be the hallmark of Islamic economic activity, an investment partnership that modern Islamic banks refer to as musharaka and mudaraba. An exchange economy became the framework for Islamic merchant capitalism.

Within a few centuries, the Crusaders would encounter Arabian merchants and carry their new-fangled ideas — such as the trust law encapsulated in the Waqf and the agency concept intrinsic in the hawala — back to the Mediterranean. Not only would the techniques of commerce and finance filter through to medieval Europe, but also an entrepreneurial spirit which had been less widespread before. Ironically, given the negative connotation that “capitalism” has today — with all its implications of greed and selfishness — it was the Islamic world that institutionalised capitalism and brought it to the West in the form that we are familiar with today. Somewhere along the way, “Islamic” capitalism — of the type which Abu Hanifa legislated in favour of, and that afforded protection to the weak and the needy – became diluted…

Although earlier banking systems like the hawala method of money transfer were still widely in use, and the 100,000 pilgrims travelling annually to Makkah continued to make use of the suftaja bill of exchange to draw money at their journey’s end, court records of Anatolian cities show that interest-based lending was a frequent and apparently tolerated practice. Most disputes were in relation to small-scale transactions from person to person, with interest rates ranging from 10-20 per cent. There appeared to be no attempt to conceal the interest-bearing nature of the transaction and indeed, the local pious endowments became important providers of credit in major urban centres. Though some clerics denounced the practice of charging interest as incompatible with Sharia, the majority adopted the pragmatic view that  disallowing the practice might harm  the community.

Ottoman merchants continued to make use of the business partnership models such as the mudaraba, or investment partnership, which typically financed long-distance trading ventures without resorting to a fixed interest charge… However, little development of an Islamic system of economics and finance took place during the 600 years of Ottoman power. As European money-lenders gained in prominence, eventually Ottoman practices fell into line, and it would not be until the middle of the 20th century that Islamic finance would reassert its identity.

Founder of Cordoba Capital, Harris Irfan has headed Islamic finance at Deutsche Bank and Barclays.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Maharashtra Muslims to go for elections without strategy but with miraculous expectation - By A.Mirsab -

Delivering news, not profit

Maharashtra Muslims to go for elections without strategy but with miraculous expectation

Submitted by on 16 September 2014 - 8:49am
By A.Mirsab,,

Mumbai: Maharashtra assembly elections are round the corner, 288 seats to go for polls on 15th October and as usual the anxiety of Muslims in the state have started to build up for two major reasons – to keep communal parties at bay and to increase Muslim representation in the assembly.

These worries of Muslims always crop up only days before elections - parliamentary or assembly. Barely a section of the community in reality bothers about the actual strategy months before elections to achieve these two goals in the elections which basically rest at almost all Muslims’ heart.

Lok Sabha Election 2014: Muzaffarpur
File photo of Lok Sabha Election 2014

Even though these are main concerns of Muslims but the community never prepares a united strategy to accomplish the common objective. Muslims make up 11-12% of the population in the state and hence have the possible strength in proving vital during elections if their votes are not divided.

Presently in the state there are set of Muslim led or so called pro-Muslim parties who are eying to fight assembly polls from Muslim majority areas. These are Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Awami Vikas Party, Welfare Party of India, Samajwadi Party (SP) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslemeen (AIMIM).

Although SP is not purely Muslim party but is the strongest Party mostly preferred by Mumbai Muslims.

As of now these parties have not allied together plus there is no apparent possibility of alliance between SP and AIMIM. Even if these parties get together they will pose main hurdle for INC-NCP than Shiv Sena (SS) – BJP alliance as Muslims in the communally sensitive state are known to least vote for SS and BJP rather they are identified to choose INC-NCP candidates due to their secular stand.

AIMIM has made a grand entry into Maharashtra with Akbaruddin Owaisi holding a huge rally in Mumbai this week where he announced of fielding candidates from Muslim majority areas in the upcoming elections with the motive of increasing Muslim representation in the assembly so as to raise community issues more rigorously.

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) which has a strong presence in Kerala has announced of fighting from all 20 Muslim majority seats in and around Mumbai. Former police commissioner Shamsher Khan Pathan led Awami Vikas Party has also announced of fielding candidates from all Mumbai seats. Three years before launched Welfare Party of India has also declared of fighting on 80 seats.

These sections of Muslim parties are indeed going to disturb the equation of Muslim votes in the state especially for already struggling INC-NCP in the state. Learning parables from the defeat in the parliamentary elections and with the worry of impact of debuting AIMIM in the state, Samajwadi Party (SP) state Chief Abu Asim Azmi has already declared of going into seat sharing with INC-NCP.

“One cannot deny that the AIMIM’s candidates will divide the Muslim votes. To avoid the division, we have decided to support the secular parties and may field only 8 to 10 candidates in seat sharing arrangements with the Congress and the NCP,” Abu Asim Azmi reportedly told HT.

In present political scenario in the state some short sighting Muslims are expecting of a miracle in their community favor from the elections while Muslims having awareness are worried with the announcement of fighting election by the number of Muslim parties.

Advocate A.W. Shaikh, resident of Mumbra in Mumbai told, “At a time when communal forces are at rise and minority voices are suppressed, there is no need of such Muslim parties as an alternative in the elections rather they should increase awareness in the minority people and unit their vote for secular candidate in the region”.

Sajid Shaikh, a government employee residing at Bandra in Mumbai said, “Even though we learn lessons in every elections but the community never comes up with united strategy that could help the community as a whole. Rather than launching new Muslim party in the elections the community leaders should compel the already existing secular parties to listen to their problems and to implement schemes in the community favor”.

Till now, Vidarbha Muslims have not recovered from the shock of Lok Sabha election results from where all the 10 seats were won by SS-BJP alliance and hence are not optimistic about the upcoming assembly elections.

Talking TCN, social activist A. Raza from Vidarbha said, “I have found Muslims in the area to be less enthusiastic about the election this time. They are feeling that their votes have no meaning as in the Lok Sabha elections majority of the Muslims in the region had voted to defeat saffron party but none of the candidate they voted won in the election”.

Although some Muslim youths in Marathwada region who are energized with Owaisi brothers speeches are seeing a hope in AIMIM and are expecting the party to deliver same performance as like in Hyderabad.

“This is the party we were waiting for. I am not party worker but wish to soon work for it”, said Saleem, a vendor at the Nanded train station.

“We supported congress against Shiv Sena many times but congress has not lifted Muslim issues and hence we feel AIMIM will be the better option for Muslims”, said a young businessman from Aurangabad who wished to be identified with only his last name Khan.

In such a mixture of hope and worry for the Muslims in the state, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is the only organization working to unite Muslim votes. It has announced last week that it is going to hold a state-wide campaign highlighting its various demands.

The organization aims to reach out to at least six crore voters through various means, including door-to-door campaigning, corner meetings, symposiums and rallies between September 12 and 21.

Aslam Gazi, senior member of Jamaat-e-Islami and resident of Kurla in Mumbai said to DNA, "At the end of the day, a winnable candidate is someone who can trounce a communal person. We look to consolidate votes instead of dividing them. If votes get divided, that will affect us. If both the major candidates happen to be from the same community, or a non-Muslim stands in a sure-shot secular seat, we look at the standing of the person in the community. In the past this has happened: Muslims were put up, but non-Muslims have won if they were better."

All political parties will begin their campaigning soon in the state and it is exciting to watch how INC-NCP alliance play its cards this election so as to defeat grand Mahayuti (BJP-SS-RPI) alliance while winning over Muslims vote which will otherwise go to the set of debuting Muslim parties in the state.

Fingers crossed!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

U.S. intelligence agencies remain uncertain about danger posed by Islamic State - By Greg Miller and Juliet Eilperin - THE WASHINGTON POST


U.S. intelligence agencies remain uncertain about danger posed by Islamic State

Comments 1097

Hours before President Obama announced a new U.S. military offensive against the Islamic State, one of his top counter­terrorism officials testified to Congress that the al-Qaeda offshoot had an estimated 10,000 fighters.

The next day a new assessment arrived from the CIA: The terrorist organization’s ranks had more than doubled in recent months, surging to somewhere between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria.

The enormous discrepancy reflects, in part, significant uncertainty among U.S. intelligence agencies over the dimensions of and danger posed by America’s latest Islamist adversary.

But the trajectory of those numbers — and the anxiety that they have induced among U.S. counter­terrorism and military officials — also helps to explain Obama’s decision to go to war against an Islamist group that has yet to be linked to any plot against the United States.

In his speech, Obama laid out a rationale that leaned heavily on what-ifs. The United States has “not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland,” Obama said. But Islamic State leaders “have threatened America and our allies,” he said, and are on a path to deliver on those threats “if left unchecked.”

The emphasis on hypotheticals was notable for a commander in chief who presided over the creation of a counter­terrorism doctrine in which U.S. strikes are supposed to be contemplated only in cases­ of imminent threat of violent attack. Faced with a terrorist group that is expanding faster than U.S. spy agencies can chart it, the “imminent” threshold appears to have been set aside.

Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said in an interview Saturday that the speed at which the Islamic State has grown and amassed re­sources and its efforts to recruit Western fighters have prompted officials to respond differently than they did to terrorist groups elsewhere. “At least at this stage, it’s a really different type of threat that it poses,” she said.

When asked about the revised estimates of Islamic State fighters Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said it indicates “that the group has had some recruitment success after the battlefield ad­vances that they demonstrated back in June, and it reflects some better insight that the intelligence community has been able to gain into the activities” of the Islamic State.

Several factors have fed U.S. anxiety. The Islamic State’s seizure of large chunks of territory in Iraq and Syria has been particularly unnerving to U.S. officials and agencies still haunted by the extent to which a haven in Afghanistan served as an incubator for al-Qaeda and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

U.S. officials have also cited the danger posed by the massive flow of foreign fighters into Syria — including at least 2,000 holding Western passports, enabling them to emerge from the Syrian civil war with Islamist contacts, lethal training and the potential ability to travel throughout Europe and North America unimpeded.

There may also be a significant emotional component. The expanded U.S. strikes were ordered just weeks after most Americans were introduced to the Islamic State on the most brutal terms: through the release of videos in which two U.S. journalists were beheaded by a masked militant speaking with a British accent.

Late Saturday, a new video was posted online showing the beheading by Islamic State of British aid worker David Haines, who was abducted in Syria near the Turkish border in March 2013.
Some terrorism experts have questioned Obama’s decision to open a multi­year campaign against the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — citing concern that it is being driven more by psychological factors and fear than by evidence that it can significantly harm the United States.

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq targeting Islamic State

“The American public has come to equate ad­vances in the Middle East by this one group, ISIS, with the danger of another 9/11,” said Paul Pillar, a former deputy director of the CIA’s Counter­terrorism Center.

Pillar said that the Islamic State is following a playbook that is in many ways the opposite of al-Qaeda’s and that making the group the target of a U.S.-led campaign risks turning its focus toward the United States.

“For them to seize and maintain territory is a major digression from terrorist operations in the West, rather than a facilitation of such operations,” Pillar said.

U.S. strikes can certainly degrade the organization, but “there will be a revenge factor,” he said. “The killing of the two captive journalists was depicted by the group explicitly as retaliation for strikes that had already occurred.”

Attention to that issue and others has been scarce in the limited Washington debate so far over the Islamic State, a debate that has often been dominated by more dire projections.

“There is no contain policy for ISIL,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said this month. “They’re an ambitious, avowed genocidal, territorial-grabbing, Caliphate-desiring, quasi-state within a regular army. And leaving them in some capacity intact anywhere would leave a cancer in place that will ultimately come back to haunt us.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote in a recent op-ed that “the threat ISIS poses cannot be overstated.” She went on to describe the group as “the most vicious, well-funded and militant terrorist organization we have ever seen.”

Although aspects of Kerry’s and Feinstein’s characterizations are accurate, confusion about the group stems to a large degree from the difficulty in extrapolating its danger to the United States from such adjectives.

The Islamic State emerged from the remnants of an al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq that was largely dismantled before U.S. forces left the country in 2011. But the organization has taken advantage of the chaos in Syria’s civil war and sectarian tensions in Iraq to regroup.

Beyond its swelling ranks of fighters, the organization has amassed resources at a rapid rate. Its seizure of cities in Iraq this year has enabled it to build an arsenal that includes U.S.-provided weaponry. It also generates an estimated $1 million a day in revenue from black-market oil sales, kidnappings and other criminal enterprises.

Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said recently that the Islamic State has vastly eclipsed al-Qaeda in its use of the Internet to spread propaganda and entice recruits.

The White House considered that targeting the Islamic State directly could intensify its motivation to strike the United States, Monaco said, which is part of why the president and others have made a point of questioning its religious credentials and overall legitimacy. But she noted that the group has already made clear its intent to target the country.

“We conduct that analysis, but they’ve already shown their brutality,” she said.

The threat the Islamic State poses to the region is in some ways more insidious than direct. Its fighters have swept through Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria where local security forces­ were already weak or disinclined to fight. It would be harder to take on the loyal armies of other countries in the region.

Of greater concern is the flow of foreign fighters, including thousands of Saudis, Jordanians and Tunisians who have probably learned lethal skills in Syria and been drilled in extremist ideology.

There have already been demonstrations in support of the Islamic State in Jordan; its flag flutters over some Sunni communities in Lebanon; and Saudi Arabia has conducted sweeps to detain dozens of suspected supporters.

For Saudi Arabia and other gulf nations, there is little incentive to join a military assault on the Islamic State, said Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist who runs the Al-Arab News Channel. “Nobody wants to be in the middle of a bloody sectarian war,” he said. “And if we go into Syria, do we side with the rebels” or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad?

Similar anxieties have spread across Europe, as thousands of Muslims from France, Germany, Britain and other countries have flocked to the conflict in Syria, a country easier for Western militants to reach than al-Qaeda havens in Yemen or Pakistan.
French authorities earlier this year arrested an Islamic State-linked militant who had returned to that country and was discovered with a stockpile of explosives. Another fighter with ties to the group killed four in an attack on a Jewish museum in Belgium. It is unclear whether either had been acting on direction from the Islamic State.

The number of Western fighters in Syria has dwarfed the migrations to other insurgent hot spots in the past. “No more than 50 to 75 American foreign fighters” made it to Afghanistan between 1986 and 2001, said Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism consultant at Flashpoint Partners. “It’s very difficult for law enforcement to monitor this large a number of people.”

U.S. officials have said that about 100 Americans have either traveled to Syria or attempted to and that perhaps a dozen have linked up with the Islamic State. Moner Mohammad Abusalha — who fought with another extremist group, Jabhat al-Nusra, and was the first known suicide bomber in Syria to come from the United States — recorded a video before his death in May describing how he had eluded FBI surveillance.

The Islamic State’s rivalry with al-Qaeda has emerged as another source of worry for U.S. officials. The group severed ties with al-Qaeda this year, mocking the older network’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as too timid and declaring itself the founder of a restored Islamic caliphate.

U.S. counter­terrorism officials have warned that a struggle over adherents and resources­ could lead to competition between the two groups. Nicholas Rasmussen, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, warned in a recent briefing for reporters that the “competition for primacy in global jihad” could lead to competition in staging spectacular attacks, compounding the danger to the United States. The rivalry, Rasmussen said, makes each side “more unnerving than it might be if judged purely on its own terms.”

And groups such as al-Qaeda could recruit some of the Islamic State’s most talented foreign fighters, making them better positioned to strike the West, said Frank J. Cilluffo, director of George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute.

Even so, U.S. officials have drawn significant distinctions between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and other countries. The Iraq-based group mixes military and terrorist tactics but is not seen as a patient cultivator of elaborate trans­national plots. And there is no indication that its leaders have the technical bomb­making expertise that has enabled al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to devise devices­ that evaded detection on U.S.-bound aircraft.

“ISIL’s ability to carry out complex, large-scale attacks in the West is currently limited,” Rasmussen said in testimony before a Senate committee last week. The Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula “remains the al-Qaeda affiliate most likely to attempt trans­national attacks against the United States.”

Liz Sly in Beirut and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hinduism losing its benign face… no one at top stepping in: Fali S Nariman - The Indian Express

My comments posted on Indian Express article: Hinduism is losing its benign face:

  • Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by Indian Express.

    "Can anybody in India see the hand of neocon/CIA in supporting another Hindu Taliban movement just like they did in Afghanistan, to fish in troubled waters. They first support such fascist movements,and later when their clients go on rampage, they turn around, demonize them and come in to 'save' the country. In the NDTV interview, Sheshadri has very mildly alluded to this danger. However, the media is still happy with its circulation and TRP games. Let the country go to hell."

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Saturday, Sep 13, 2014

Hinduism losing its benign face… no one at top stepping in: Fali S Nariman

nariman-main Fali S Nariman delivers a lecture on “ Minorities at Cross Roads : Comments on Judicial Pronouncements” in New Delhi on Friday. (Source: PTI)
Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: September 12, 2014 10:14 pm | Updated: September 13, 2014 8:08 am

Hinduism is losing its traditional tolerance because some Hindus have started believing that it is their faith that has brought them political power — and because this belief is not being challenged by “those at the top”, Fali S Nariman, one of India’s most celebrated jurists, said on Friday.

Nariman said he agreed that the “majority government at the Centre” had done nothing to stop the recent repeated tirades by individuals or groups against members of minority communities.

Nariman criticised the NCM for not carrying out its “main task”, the “protection of the interests of the minorities”.
The eminent constitutional expert delivered the Annual Lecture at the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), titled ‘Minorities at Crossroads: Comments on Judicial Pronouncements’.

Nariman, who began the lecture by saying that he welcomed the single-party majority government at the Centre but also feared it because of “past experience with majoritarian government(s)”, said Hinduism has traditionally been the most tolerant of all Indian faiths.

“But — recurrent instances of religious tension fanned by fanaticism and hate speech has shown that the Hindu tradition of tolerance is showing signs of strain. And let me say this frankly — my apprehension is that Hinduism is somehow changing its benign face because, and only because it is believed and proudly proclaimed by a few (and not contradicted by those at the top): that it is because of their faith and belief that HINDUS have been now put in the driving seat of governance,” he said.

[Underlining and capitals Nariman’s; text of the speech made available by the Ministry of Minority Affairs.]

“We have been hearing on television and reading in newspapers almost on a daily basis a tirade by one or more individuals or groups against one or another section of citizens who belong to a religious minority and the criticism has been that the majority government at the Centre has done nothing to stop this tirade,” Nariman said. “I agree.”

BJP MP Yogi Adityanath has delivered a series of speeches at election meetings in the recent past, for which the Election Commission reprimanded and cautioned him on Thursday, and ordered that an FIR be registered against him. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has described India as a “Hindu nation”, and several political leaders linked to the Sangh Parivar have made allegedly provocative statements since the Narendra Modi government came to power.

Nariman criticised the NCM for not carrying out its “main task”, the “protection of the interests of the minorities”.

“Every government…will do or not do whatever it considers expedient to advance its own political interests… This is why…Parliament has…set up an independent Minorities Commission…

“…The main task of the Commission is ‘protecting the interests of minorities’. And how does one protect the interest of minorities who (or a section of which) are on a daily basis lampooned and ridiculed or spoken against in derogatory language? The answer is by invoking the…law enacted in the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. Otherwise the Commission is not fulfilling its main task which is the protection of the interests of the minorities…

“Those who indulge in hate speech must be prevented by Court processes initiated at the instance of the Commission because that is the body that represents Minorities in India. Whoever indulges in such hate speech or vilification (whatever the community to which they belong) they must be proceeded against and the proceeding must be widely publicised,” Nariman said.

The remarks were made in the presence of Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla, who presided over the function. Later, asked by reporters about the minister’s silence on recent instances of hate speech, Nariman said, “You should ask her that.”

Nariman lauded the role of the Supreme Court in upholding minority rights on many occasions, describing it as a “Super Minorities Commission”. However, he said, the judicial outlook has undergone gradual change since the early 1990s when the BJP introduced the phrase “appeasement of minorities” in the political lexicon.

“The label stuck; ‘minority’ became and has become an unpopular word. And after the same political party had included in its Election Manifesto in the general election of May-June 1991 the party’s resolve if and when it came into power to amend Article 30 to the disadvantage of minorities, ‘minority rights’ got less and less protected by Courts (including the Supreme Court of India) than they were before,” Nariman said.

Heptulla, in her presidential address, reiterated the NDA government’s commitment to “sabka saath sabka vikas”. “One of the important constituents of such an approach is the need for safeguarding the constitutional and legal rights of the minorities and provide them protection and equal opportunity to ensure their economic and social betterment… Government is doing its best for communal harmony and will continue to do so,” she said.

She later defended the government, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told her that Muslims had been “deprived” of their basic rights all these years, and that he wanted her to fulfil the promises the BJP had made to minorities in its manifesto.

She said Modi believed in “inclusive development”, and that there would be no discrimination against anyone on the grounds of religion, language or caste.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----


UP 2014, like Punjab 1947 - By Rajmohan Gandhi - The Indian Express


Friday, Sep 12, 2014

UP 2014, like Punjab 1947

The supposed civilisational war between the West and Islam, and the emergence of fanatical groups like the ISIS, are directly relevant to the 40 million or more Muslims living in UP. 
The supposed civilisational war between the West and Islam, and the emergence of fanatical groups like the ISIS, are directly relevant to the 40 million or more Muslims living in UP.

Written by Rajmohan Gandhi | Posted: September 12, 2014 12:14 am | Updated: September 12, 2014 8:42 am

Not long ago, while working on a history of undivided Punjab, I found that in 1914 that vast province was seen as the subcontinent’s hope for economic progress and inter-communal understanding. Yet, in 1947, both halves of divided Punjab saw carnage that no part of the world should witness.

Recent events in Uttar Pradesh should caution Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others that this state, with its immense population, may now be drifting towards a tragedy the nation must never allow again. The Punjab tragedy involved the Empire. On February 20, 1947, London announced that it was about to leave all of India including Punjab, without saying who would inherit the province.

Either “the existing provincial government” would take over, said Her Majesty’s Government, or another arrangement that “may seem most reasonable” would be made. That word triggered two things. One was a Muslim League-led mass movement, which in a fortnight forced out the province’s coalition ministry, led by Khizar Hayat Khan of the rapidly declining Unionist Party but mainly sustained by the Congress and the Sikhs. The other was the creation of separate militias, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh, to force the future of different parts of Punjab.

After the killings in early March 1947 in the towns and villages of Rawalpindi and Multan, Lieutenant General Frank Messervy, the region’s top British officer, recorded his shock that “the normally chivalrous and decent Punjabi Muslim peasant” had been “aroused to such frenzied savagery”, and added: “There has also been a widespread desire to rid many areas of all Sikhs and Hindus, entirely for ever.”

Messervy had identified ethnic cleansing, but the Empire in retreat chose to look away. While London was focused on the safe return of India-based soldiers to Britain, there were elements in the Empire that did not mind an all-out conflict between Indians. Five months after Messervy wrote his note, the great bloodletting of August-September 1947 took place. A major incident, now entirely forgotten, had also occurred in western UP. In November 1946, a number of Muslims were massacred in Garhmukteshwar, not far from Meerut, Muzaffarnagar or Moradabad.

There is a global context for UP’s current tensions too. The supposed civilisational war between the West and Islam, and the emergence of fanatical groups like the ISIS, are directly relevant to the 40 million or more Muslims living in UP. Also of relevance to UP’s Muslims is the national and provincial context. From India’s ruling establishment, which includes the RSS and other workers/ warriors for Hindutva, two distinct and conflicting suggestions have emanated: build and burn. Construct bullet trains, bathrooms, bank accounts for the poor, bright cities and so forth — this is Prime Minister Modi’s call. The other appeal, voiced by many in the ruling establishment though not in the government’s name, is for polarisation and an apparent readiness for violence, but a violence that justifies itself as a reply. In their script, the initiators of violence are always, without any exception, Muslims, even though almost always, a majority of the violence‘s victims are Muslims.

Where Hindus are a clear majority but Muslims a substantial minority (as is the case in UP and some other places), polarisation-riot followed by heightened polarisation-bigger riot is a sequence that has fetched electoral benefits for the BJP. However, riots interrupt and reverse growth.

Not only would the BJP like to have its own government in UP, the party president, Amit Shah, has said he wants the party to command more than 50 per cent of the state’s vote. But are elections won for presiding over a burning state?

Already, UP has seen localised ethnic cleansing, which the state’s SP government seems unable to prevent or rectify. UP’s police has frequently appeared to be out of its depth in coping with acts of violence. The civilian administration also seems helpless. And the state’s secular political parties seem lost on how to deal with the BJP’s provocative — and electorally promising — strategy of focusing on a supposed “love jihad”.

Yogi Adityanath, the BJP MP from Gorakhpur, has tried to relate violence in different parts of UP to their Muslim percentage. But the question can also be posed: how should UP’s 40 million Muslims respond to a Lok Sabha from which they are totally excluded? Not one of the 80 MPs from UP in the current Lok Sabha is a Muslim, a whitewash that has not occurred before.

Among the many voices reaching these 40 million Muslims are those of the ISIS and similar groups, who push the line that the West, backed by India and Israel, is out to get the world’s Muslims, and that the latter must hit back.

A large factor in Punjab’s 1947 tragedy was the inability of politicians to engage with the Other. The Indian National Congress in Punjab was in effect only a Hindu party, and also only an urban party. As for the Muslim League and the Sikh parties, these groups did not even pretend to be interested in persons outside their communities.

Today, few Hindu politicians in UP openly ask for Muslim votes, and few Muslims for Hindu votes. As is true of UP today, Punjab in 1947 contained a large number of decent citizens who easily outnumbered the bad guys. Many saw what was coming but did not or could not intervene. Citizen groups did not protect lines of communication across communal borders, or between communities and the police.

Are UP’s good citizens asking themselves what they can do to help? Lest we forget, independent India solemnly assured equal rights to all, irrespective of caste, religion or class. But since the stakes are so high, Prime Minister Modi, who represents a UP constituency, and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, a former chief minister of the state, must also intervene. Bringing on board Mulayam Singh, Mayawati and others with influence, they should convene a “save UP” roundtable, where exercises to burn are identified and abandoned.

The writer is research professor at the Centre for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US