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					       xxx 2010
Echo | March 2011   1
  Index
           World of Islam

       6 | The Arab Uprising


       10 |Unabashed by                                  17 | Arabia Without
       criticism, Clinton                                Sultanism
       tours Cairo’s Tahrir


       12 | Muslims and
       Christians                                        20 | Ayatollah Sistani slams violence
       together in a new Egypt                           against protestors in Bahrain


                                                         21 | Libya: A Test for
       14 | Bahrain and Libya
                                                         West’s Commitment to
       Raise the Stakes
                                                         Democratic Values



   PAGE                  | | | 4 | 6 | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |


       Echo of Islam
Managing Director: Dr. Mahdi Goljan                                 Editorial
Editor-in-Chief: Dr. Sadroddin Musawi
International Affairs Advisor: Dr. Musa Akefi Ghaziani       4 | Are the Bahrainis
Editorial Board: A‘zam Hosseini, Samin Nabipour,             entitled to “universal
Shima Entezari Moghadam, Forogh Fakhari                      rights”?
Photographer: Mohadeseh Vasfi
Public Relations Officer: Maryam Hamzelou
Design: Seyyed Amir Mohammad Moosavi
Email address: s_am_moosavi@yahoo.com
Tel: +98932-9059238
Printing Expert: Majid Qasemi
Tel:+98919-2892825
majidabnavi@gmail.com
Advertising Office: +9821-88801345
+98919-3005343
Magazine of ITF, P. O. Box: 14155-3899
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Tel: +9821-88897662-5
Fax: +9821-88902725
http://www.itf.org.ir
http://www.echoofsalam.com



   2                                                                        Echo | March 2011
               Middle East                                        Iran

                                                       36 | Iran foreign
           24 | Support for                            policy highlights
           Arab                                        in 2010
           Awakening Grows
           with
           Each New Revolt

          26 | Why Arab Leaders are Stubbornly
          Embedded to Their Thrones?                   38 | Iran proposes Islamic
                                                       world contact group




| | | | | | 24 | | | | | | | 32 | | | 3 6 | | | 4 0 | | | | |



               International                             Culture
                                                 40 | Teachings of
          32 | A Wakeup Call                     prophets
          for Americans                          carry universal
                                                 message of social
                                                 justice: professor
                                                 Monshipouri
                                                 44 | Religious
                                                 Democracy:
                                                 A New
          34 | Peter King and                    Governance
          Other Islamophobes                     Model

                                                 48 | Nowruz
                                                 celebration
                                                 symbolizes
                                                 splendid
                                                 civilization
                                                 of a great
                                                 nation



      Echo | March 2011                                                             3
          Editorial




Are the Bahrainis
entitled to “universal
rights”?
    By S. Musawi




R
         iyadh has dispatched      also reflected the deep shadow    of the action.
         more than 1,000 troops    cast by US neo-colonialism in        The US consent, acquies-
         to help Bahrain sup-      perpetuation of despotic rules    cence or even silence over
press peaceful protests of the     for the sake of “US interests”.   the Saudi decision to crash a
people demanding the “uni-            Washington appears to have     peaceful protest for universal
versal rights” that other people   full advance knowledge that       rights in a despotic regime that
enjoy in many places of the        Saudi Arabia, a crucial ally,     has suppressed the rights of
world, including in the United     would roll with Persian Gulf      the majority of its population
States and Europe.                 Cooperation Council troops        for years is a clear sign that
   Saudi Arabia’s intervention     into Bahrain – since Defense      Washington’s so-called sup-
in Bahrain amid peaceful pro-      Secretary Robert Gates visited    port for the concept of “uni-
tests demanding democratic         Manama a week before the          versal rights” is a mere farce,
reforms has exposed double-        Saudi military intervention.      for the quest of the people of
standard approach of the West         A clear sign of Saudi coor-    Bahrain is nothing but an at-
towards the revolts rocking the    dination with Washington in       tempt to gain their “universal
Arab world.                        dispatching the troops to Bah-    rights” through peaceful pro-
   The Saudi decision to lead      rain is what a Pentagon senior    tests.
a regional mission into the        officials said after the Saudi       Washington has not yet
strife-torn Shia majority king-    troops appeared in Manama         objected to Saudi dispatch
dom ruled by a Sunni minority      streets: Washington was aware     of forces to Bahrain, a nation


4                                                                           Echo | March 2011
                                                                              Editorial




which hosts the headquarters      opposition in Bahrain, Obama       mate interests.
of the US Fifth Fleet.            insisted that Washington must         The US apparently does not
   All these happen at a time     support aspirations of Arab        want either to jeopardize final
when Bahraini Shiite clerics      peoples for universal rights,      negotiations which have been
have said they feared a “mas-     but must not itself intervene to   taking place on a massive $60
sacre” of protesters in Ma-       prevent under pressure auto-       billion US arms sale to Saudi
nama where 200 Shiites were       crats from branding revolts as     Arabia – another sign of pre-
wounded in gang shootings         client uprisings of the United     ferring “military vested inter-
and the opposition leaders        States – another green signal      ests” to “universal rights”.
rounded up by the authorities.    to the rulers to go ahead in          If the rights US speaks of
   US Secretary of State Hill-    suppressing their people.          are “universal”, then the cru-
ary Clinton apparently gave          That stance indicates that      cial question will be: are the
a green signal to Saudis and      the US would give a green          majority of people in Bahrain
Bahraini rulers, when she         light to teetering despotic rul-   entitled to “universal rights”?
acknowledged in Cairo that        ers to massacre the peaceful       Indeed, the White House “en-
Bahrain had the right to seek     protesters if its “interests”      thusiasm for universal rights”
PGCC assistance.                  requires. Hence, the story of      is completely at odds with the
   In another move to encour-     “universal rights” is merely a     way many countries in the
age the Bahraini and Saudi        lever to pressure those coun-      Middle East, particularly Bah-
rulers to suppress the peaceful   tries that oppose US illegiti-     rain, run themselves.


Echo | March 2011                                                                                 5
       World of Islam




Arab Countries Need
Comprehensive
Reforms
    By Ali Morshedizad (Ph.D.)




T
        he current Arab regimes     world: Promoting democratic         substantial economic develop-
        must remember that the      reforms in Egypt and through-       ment programs that can pro-
        youth uprisings are an      out the Arab world is critical      vide immediate benefits.
indigenous movement. Regard-        under any circumstances and
less of how firm their grip on      no effort should be spared by          No single template
power may be today, no Arab         the indigenous people-in part-
government will be immune           nership with their governments
                                                                            for reforms, but
to some degree of meaningful        whenever possible-to bring               many common
change.                             about political reforms consis-          denominators:
   Egypt has always played a        tent with their aspirations. For-
key role in the developments in     eign governments and human             The breathtaking develop-
the Arab world. Many analysts       rights organizations can and        ments in the Arab world seem
consider Egypt the “big broth-      should provide assistance only      to have taken many parties
er” of Arab countries. Clearly,     as requested, bearing in mind       by surprise, and speculations
after the fall of Mubarak, the      three critical requirements to      about how the Middle East will
domino effects of his fall affect   lasting reforms: Since the gov-     look in the future run the gam-
many countries and it seems         ernance and traditions of each      ut. There are those who argue
that other Arab countries too       Arab state differ, there is no      that revolutions against dicta-
will be affected by this wave;      single template of political re-    torships, even when they suc-
of course depending on their        forms applicable to all. Rapid      ceed, do not guarantee lasting
domestic situation these effects    reforms without transitional        democratic political reforms-
will have different degrees.        periods to allow for the devel-     many former Soviet Republics
Alon Ben-Meir, a professor of       opment of civil society could       offer glaring examples, such
international relations at the      lead to further destabilization.    as Turkmenistan under Presi-
Center for Global Affairs at        And finally, political reforms      dent Gurbanguly Berdymuk-
NYU, argues that the follow-        are not sustainable-and might       hammedov, Uzbekistan un-
ing conditions will dominate        even backfire-unless they are       der President Islam Karimov,
future discourse in the Arab        concurrently accompanied by         or Tajikistan under President



6                                                                              Echo | March 2011
                                                                              World of Islam




Emomali Rahmon. These and           certainty.                          they have risen against oppres-
others have become a one-man           These arguments and others       sion, deprivation and stagna-
rule, stifling political freedom    bear a degree of cogency that       tion, and they no longer want
while often applying ruthless       cannot readily be dismissed.        to live in submission to corrupt
methods to maintain their grip      That said, there are certain con-   leaders and governments. To
on power. Others contend that       ditions created by the uprisings    assume that Arab youth will in-
regardless of how the events        that will remain constant and       definitely remain subjugated to
unfold, the Arab world will         will impact each Arab country       them is nothing short of an in-
continue to undergo transfor-       differently. Moreover, regard-      sult to a people who have con-
mational changes of historic        less of how firm their grip on      tributed so much to civilization
proportions, and that Arab gov-     power may be today, no Arab         and enlightenment. No Arab
ernments have no choice but to      government will be immune           government, however oppres-
heed their public’s yearning        to some degree of meaningful        sive, will ever be in a position
for greater freedoms. And then      change. But the sooner they un-     to completely shut down their
there are those who assert that     derstand the potency and long-      youth’s access to the outside
any reforms the Arab regimes        lasting implications of these       world and stifle their yearn-
are ultimately willing to under-    new conditions, the less blood      ing for freedom. Regardless of
take will be superficial, vary-     will be shed and the smoother       how youth uprisings fluctuate
ing in degree and duration, and     and more peaceful the transi-       in intensity, they are not a pass-
designed to pacify the revolu-      tional period will be.              ing phenomenon. They will
tionaries. They insist that en-        Those who never expected         last for years and wind down
trenched constituencies such as     Arab youth to rise against their    only when Arab regimes com-
the military and Islamic orga-      authoritarian      governments      mit to and deliver on promises
nizations in the region remain      were proven wrong. The Arab         for constructive and permanent
determined to shape events ac-      youth of today is not the same      political and economic reforms
cording to their political agen-    youth of a generation ago.          regardless of how long that
das, and that the only certainty    This new generation has been        might take.
about the future is, in fact, un-   exposed to the world at large;         The current Arab regimes



Echo | March 2011                                                                                      7
      World of Islam




must also remember that the        gans and contrived excuses that   not look for scapegoats, which
youth uprisings are an indig-      suggest chaos will dominate       brought more deprivation and
enous movement; they were          in the absence of the current     despair to their people.
neither instigated by outside      leaders should they be ousted        In addition, the Arab upris-
powers or groups, as some          from power. Gone are the days     ing still represents only the be-
Arab leaders alluded, nor did      when Arab leaders could ride      ginning of a continuing wave
the revolutionaries need to        the storm of public discontent    of instability that is sweeping
blame outside entities for their   by blaming Israel or the United   the region and will not sub-
plight. The youth have pointed     States or former colonial pow-    side by temporary economic
their fingers at the failure of    ers for their trying existence.   measures. The latest example
their own governments. The         The people want their leaders     is Saudi Arabian King Abdul-
revolting youth refuse to be       to focus instead on addressing    lah’s $37 billion welfare pack-
distracted by the old empty slo-   their grievances in earnest and   age for Saudi citizens and a 15



8                                                                           Echo | March 2011
                                                                              World of Islam




                                   They want to be heard, because       Israeli occupation, use interna-
                                   they have the inherent right to      tional forums to bring pressure
                                   be heard. They want to live in       to bear on Israel, and build a
                                   dignity and will undoubtedly         more self-reliant economy (an
                                   refuse to settle for their govern-   important premise in the Fayy-
                                   ment’s recent reactionary dis-       ad Plan). Generally speaking,
                                   play of pursuing social justice.     the transition in the Arab mon-
                                       There is no cure-all that will   archies will be more peaceful
                                   fit the needs for change in dif-     than in other Arab states, but
                                   ferent Arab states. Monarchs         most will experience various
                                   and Emirs, the rulers of the         degrees of violence. Regard-
                                   Persian Gulf States, Jordan and      less of the kind of government
                                   Morocco will undoubtedly face        many Arab states will end up
                                   serious challenges, but in the       with, adherence to basic hu-
                                   end-however many years that          man rights and the removal of
                                   might take-they will be forced       all emergency laws will be cen-
                                   to accept, or will evolve toward     tral to a more peaceful transi-
                                   (through expanded and suc-           tion. No Arab government will
                                   cessful democratic sustainable       be exempt from these require-
                                   development programs), a con-        ments.
                                   stitutional monarchy, or a more         The Arab world will contin-
                                   highly democratic one. Other         ue to undergo transformational
                                   countries like Algeria, Tunisia,     changes of historic proportions
                                   and Egypt may have to choose         led by determined youth com-
                                   a republican form of govern-         mitted to liberate themselves
                                   ment with powerful elected           from the shackles of poverty.
                                   legislators led by a prime min-      Every Arab regime must either
                                   ister, with a strong military be-    heed their public’s yearning for
                                   hind the scenes to guard against     greater freedoms and economic
                                   abuses of power. Still others        developments, or likely be fun-
                                   like Libya, Yemen and Sudan          damentally challenged. Egypt
percent raise for government       may end up dominated by a            offers a microcosm of the
employees. Another is the Bah-     military clique for a number of      changes that have occurred and
raini government’s payment in      years in an effort to reconcile      the kind of reforms that must be
the sum of $2,650 to each fam-     different tribal demands while       pursued. How the revolution in
ily to buy their compliance and    promoting some political and         Egypt further evolves will have
silence. These are examples of     economic reforms. Syria may          a direct and indirect impact on
an unsustainable approach gov-     succeed to head-off youth up-        the rest of the Arab states, as
ernments take in their effort to   risings by initiating some po-       Egypt has traditionally been-
quell public demands for great-    litical and economic reforms.        and will continue to be-the
er freedom and social equality.    Lebanon will remain a sectar-        leader of the Arab world.
The Arab regimes must realize      ian tinderbox; while the Pales-         Ali Morshedizad is a profes-
that the public does not want      tinians will be emboldened to        sor of political science at Sha-
handouts, they want a voice.       rise up in an effort to end the      hed University, Tehran.



Echo | March 2011                                                                                    9
      World of Islam




Unabashed by
criticism, Clinton
tours Cairo's Tahrir
Y
         outh groups that spear-     spearheaded the Tahrir dem-         crowds were seen to frown as
         headed Tahrir demon-        onstrations and by a deadly         she passed.
         strations snub US Sec-      police raid on a protest camp          As she posed for the cameras
retary of State for her former       in US Persian Gulf ally Bah-        alongside the Egyptian premier
support to Mubarak.                  rain which killed three demon-      before their talks, the US chief
   Secretary of State Hillary        strators and wounded dozens         diplomat again waxed lyrical
Clinton took what she called a       more.                               about her tour of the square
“thrilling” tour of Cairo’s Tah-        “To see where this revolu-       and promised Washington’s
rir Square, centre of the protests   tion happened and all that it       full support.
that ousted Hosni Mubarak, on        has meant to the world is ex-          But outside the prime min-
March 15, ignoring criticism of      traordinary for me,” Clinton        ister’s office, dozens of work-
Washington’s long support for        said as she toured the square       ers of the Petrojet oil firm were
his regime.                          protected by Egyptian and US        demonstrating to get their full-
   The most senior US official       security guards.                    time jobs back.
to visit Egypt since the vet-           “It’s just a great reminder of      “It was very exciting and
eran strongman’s resignation         the power of the human spirit       moving for me to go to Tahrir
in February, Clinton wandered        and universal desire for free-      Square and to have some sense
round the huge central plaza in      dom and human rights and de-        of what those amazing days
the morning rush hour accom-         mocracy,” she added.                must have been like here in
panied by embassy officials,            “It’s just thrilling to see      Cairo,” she said.
before heading into talks with       where this happened.”                  “I am so looking forward to
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.            Clinton was greeted by a         helping in anything that we can
   But her tour was overshad-        dozen or so ordinary Egyp-          in this transformation and all
owed by a snub from one of           tians in the square but others      the work that needs to be done.
the main youth groups that           further away in the morning            “There is so much to be



10                                                                              Echo | March 2011
                                                                               World of Islam




                                  But the lady in red is still not red-faced


done and the US stands ready        the ousted president.”                  Nationwide protests calling
to help in everything possible         The group added that it had       for Mubarak to step down and
to translate what happened in       also been angered by “the help       demanding political and eco-
Tahrir Square into (a) new re-      and support offered by the           nomic change erupted on Janu-
ality for Egypt.”                   American administration to           ary 25.
   But Washington’s swift and       many of the oppressive and              The rallies, which saw
apparently unapologetic switch      undemocratic regimes in the          bloody clashes between pro-
from staunch Mubarak ally           region,” in a statement posted       testers and security forces, left
to supporter of the transition      on its website.                      at least 384 people dead and
failed to convince the leaders         The United States bases its       more than 6,000 injured.
of the Tahrir protests.             Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, where           After a series of concessions
   The Coalition of the Youth       deadly violence raged as secu-       failed to placate the protesters,
of the Revolution said it had       rity forces assaulted a protest      Mubarak resigned on February
snubbed an invitation to meet       camp in the capital Manama’s         11 and handed power to a mili-
Clinton because of “the US ad-      Pearl Square modeled on the          tary council, which has vowed
ministration’s weak position at     Tahrir demonstrations after the      to pave the way for a swift re-
the start of the revolution due     authorities declared a state of      turn to civilian rule and a dem-
to its close relationship with      emergency.                           ocratic system.




Echo | March 2011                                                                                    11
      World of Islam




Muslims and Christians
together in a new Egypt
Online initiative - launched by preacher Amr
Khaled – seeks harmony between Muslims
and Christians in Egypt.
  By Yasser Khalil



T
         he recent protests in      Egypt that tensions between        disseminate rumors and agitate
         Egypt that led to the      Muslims and Christians would       tensions between Muslims and
         resignation of President   escalate and culminate in vio-     Christians in the country.
Hosni Mubarak, and their po-        lence, especially in light of         Word of the initiative spread
litical ramifications, have been    recent attacks that targeted       quickly, and it has proven very
covered extensively in the me-      Christians in the region, the      popular among Egyptian youth
dia. But stories of Christian-      latest of which was the bomb-      primarily because of Khaled’s
Muslim solidarity have not          ing of a church in Alexandria      huge following in the country.
been broadcast as widely, and       on New Year’s Eve that killed      The roots of this initiative be-
they deserve to be.                 23 people.                         gan with his lectures in 1998,
    During the protests, Chris-        To prevent such violence        after years of terrorist incidents
tians stood in a circle around      from reoccurring, Egyptians        claimed the lives of innocent
Muslims during their Friday         began to mobilize through a        people and religious bigotry
prayers to protect them from        new online initiative called       began spreading among groups
police. And last in March,          “An Internet Free of Sectar-       that were adopting extremist
Muslims stood around Chris-         ian Strife”, launched by Amr       interpretations of Islam.
tians in Tahrir Square as they      Khaled, who is described by           Many have found messages
conducted mass, and joined          The New York Times as “the         of balance and harmony in the
them in prayer for those who        world’s most famous and in-        young, dynamic preacher’s
were injured or died in the pro-    fluential Muslim television        rhetoric, which are all too rare
tests.                              preacher.” He began the initia-    in other speakers’ lectures. Be-
    Prior to the demonstrations,    tive in January after he saw how   tween 2000 and 2002, his lec-
there was a growing fear in         the Internet was being used to     tures – mainly about tolerance



12                                                                            Echo | March 2011
                                                                              World of Islam




in Islam – were being attended      managed by a group of Copts         Egypt. However, the core solu-
by audiences of 35,000. Today,      living in the United States and     tion lies in addressing the prob-
his Facebook page has around        has an influential presence in      lems that create such tension in
two million friends and his lec-    Egypt; and the OnIslam.net          the first place.
tures are watched by millions       website, which is managed by           Some solutions that can be
across the Muslim world.            IslamOnline.net, a well-known       enacted on the national level
   It is clear that youth are       Islam-focused outlet; as well as    include: allowing all citizens
playing a key role in the initia-   many youth-oriented Egyptian        the right to build houses of
tive’s implementation and de-       websites.                           worship, amending school cur-
velopment.                             These partners identified        riculum to promote religious
   The “Internet Free of Sectar-    ten basic items that they hope      freedom, ensuring that authori-
ian Strife” initiative features     will become “rules for internet     ties handle conflicts between
prominently on Khaled’s web-        users and a code of honor for       members of different religions
site (amrkhaled.net), which         Internet media outlets to abide     according to the law as op-
receives around two million         by.” The rules are to not use       posed to bias based on political
visitors every month. Many          the following: blanket gener-       alliances and ensuring equal
Egyptian youth have replaced        alizations, foul language; ru-      opportunity in the workplace
their Facebook profile photo        mors without credible sources,      regardless of a person’s reli-
with the initiative’s logo, a       sarcasm, videos that could en-      gious beliefs.
cross within a crescent. Other      flame tensions and violent or          Khaled’s positive initiative
websites and forums from            hateful fatwas (non-binding         is an important first step to
around the region have also in-     legal opinions). The rules also     address the core causes of ex-
cluded the logo on their web-       encourage words of peace and        tremism that lead to sectarian
sites to promote the campaign.      compassion, respect for oth-        tension. The solidarity amongst
   The initiative’s main part-      ers’ faith and disagreement         Muslims and Christians during
ners are influential media          with ideas, but respect for indi-   the recent protests shows that
outlets in Egypt and the Arab       viduals. Finally, partners have     both groups can overcome di-
world, including the Egyptian       agreed that users should never      visions, and offers new hope
OTV television station and the      post their opinions while an-       that coexistence and religious
news outlet Seventh Day, both       gry.                                equality can be the foundation
owned by a leading Copt busi-          This initiative is promising     of a new Egypt.
nessman, Naguib Sawiris; the        and could lead to improved             Yasser Khalil is an Egyptian
United Copts website, which is      Muslim-Christian relations in       researcher and journalist.



Echo | March 2011                                                                                   13
      World of Islam




Bahrain and Libya
Raise the Stakes
Bahrain and Libya raise significant issues
that go beyond the existing implications of
the overthrow of the regimes in Tunisia and
Egypt. In different ways, both countries are
deeply associated with the world of Arab
energy producers and exporters.
  By Rami G. Khouri




T
        he continuing insur-       governments       implementing       by the family and friends of
        rections and revolts by    policies that actually reflect the   Muammar Gadhafi. Should
        enraged Arab citizens      opinion of their people raises       that regime be overthrown, and
across the Middle East have        the prospect that Arab wealth        Libyan foreign and domestic
now spread to Bahrain and Lib-     and Arab public opinion might        policy be subject to the will of
ya, and these two states raise     soon converge -- with astound-       its people, we are likely to see
significant issues that go be-     ing implications for the region,     radically different uses of na-
yond the existing implications     but especially for Iran, Israel,     tional wealth from oil income.
of the overthrow of the regimes    Turkey and the United States         While excessive wealth almost
in Tunisia and Egypt. In dif-      and other major Western pow-         always fosters mismanage-
ferent ways, both Libya and        ers.                                 ment, corruption and enormous
Bahrain are deeply associated         Libya has squandered hun-         waste of assets, in this case
with the world of Arab energy      dreds of billions of dollars in      we might find that the Libyan
producers and exporters. So the    the past 42 years of authori-        people will insist on using their
anticipation of these countries’   tarian and often imbecilic rule      national wealth more produc-



14                                                                             Echo | March 2011
                                                                             World of Islam




              Some may be
          concerned that a
      democratic Bahrain
   might force the United
  States to close its large
          naval base there.
 Bahrain is important in
 the same sense because
 it is located in the heart
        of the oil- and gas-
 producing Persian Gulf
                     region,

tively and sensibly, perhaps        Bahrain revolt will be seen by     base there. These are all fasci-
sparking a new era of growth        many around the world mostly       nating but secondary aspects
and human development across        as a rebellion by Shiite Arabs     of the changes underway. The
North Africa.                       who resent being ruled by the      most important thing taking
   Bahrain is important in the      Sunni minority in the country.     place in Bahrain is that national
same sense because it is locat-     Others will worry that majority    policy-making may soon occur
ed in the heart of the oil- and     rule in Bahrain in a small coun-   on the basis of the majority of
gas-producing Persian Gulf re-      try where Shiites are the major-   Bahraini citizens expressing
gion, even though it has little     ity will be another victory for    their views freely and formulat-
of its own oil left. It is never-   Iran and its growing influence     ing policies in a manner that re-
theless a symbol of populist        in the Arab world. Some may        sponds closely to their values,
citizen revolts achieving their     be concerned that a democratic     rights and aspirations.
first triumph in this strategic     Bahrain might force the United        If these two states that are
energy-producing region. The        States to close its large naval    deeply anchored in the Arab



Echo | March 2011                                                                                  15
      World of Islam




oil and energy world pursue           closely with Turkey and its im-    weeks, the stakes suddenly be-
policies that are faithful to their   pressive economic and regional     come much greater. From the
people’s sentiments, we could         policies. If the United States,    perspective of the citizens of
see major changes in how Arab         Europe and others abroad deal      these countries, however, the
countries work more closely           equitably with the Arabs, and      process at hand is the same.
together to pursue more col-          also address Israel and Iran on       Arab men and women want
lectively beneficial domestic,        the basis of law and legitimacy    to be treated like human beings
regional and global policies          rather than naked self-interest    and citizens, with God-given
(as Western Europe did after          driven by indigenous emotion-      human and civil rights. The ad-
World War Two, for example).          alism and pro-Israeli political    vent of citizens with full rights
More democratic Arab coun-            blackmail, they will find them-    and freedoms in Arab oil-
tries with plenty of money are        selves welcomed as valuable        producing states is a novelty
likely to become more sover-          friends and partners across the    they and the world have never
eign countries, rather than pup-      Arab world.                        known. We should welcome it
pets of Western powers or hos-           The changes underway in         with open arms, because it may
tages to Israeli concerns (for        Tunisia and Egypt point the        mark a very important boost to
example, seeing their armed           way to a historic change in        the development of the entire
forces defined by what Israel         how Arab countries are gov-        Arab region in a more ratio-
allows Western countries to sell      erned and what policies they       nal, balanced, sustainable and
them). Sovereign and wealthy          pursue. The transformations        accountable manner than has
Arab states that think for them-      that have been unleashed and       happened in the last several
selves are likely to make major       are spreading across the region    generations.
adjustments in their relations        will need years to settle into a      Rami G. Khouri is Editor-
with the three major non-Arab         permanent pattern of new poli-     at-large of The Daily Star, and
regional powers of Israel, Tur-       cies and governance systems.       Director of the Issam Fares
key and Iran. This would mean         When such changes reach the        Institute for Public Policy and
being more critical of Israel,        Arab countries associated with     International Affairs at the
less hostile to Iran, and more        oil and energy -- like Libya and   American University of Beirut,
inclined to associate more            Bahrain -- as is happening these   in Beirut, Lebanon.



16                                                                              Echo | March 2011
                                                                              World of Islam




Arabia Without Sultanism
The Arab streets everywhere are now teeming
with popular demands for real change.
  By Kaveh Afrasiabi




T
        he late Fred Halliday,      the winds of change traversed       gether featuring a rapid meta-
        a keen observer of the      the semi-closed waters of Per-      morphosis, or said otherwise
        laboratory of Middle        sian Gulf and reached them too      re-inventing, of those regimes
East politics, once at the tender   in the contemporary context of      along inclusionary and partici-
age of 28 penned an impressive      “post-cold war era.”                patory lines.
book titled Arabia Without Sul-        Nearly 40 yrears later, Halli-       Enough hand-picked and
tan, in mid-1970s. Years later,     day’s astute predictions appear     rubber-stamped “consultative”
Halliday, who was a friend of       to be somewhat exonerated           councils or assemblies, and
this author,(1) once told me        by the prospects of an Arabia       limited and exclusionary elec-
that he no longer subscribed        without Sultanism that is a         tions that defy the elementary
to a bulk of his analysis in that   shade different from the type of    meaning of true elections with
book -- that was written from       wholesale regime change fore-       genuine impact on the reified
a Marxian perspective and           seen by him, for in both the Per-   and antiquated status quo aptly
vested undue hope in the left-      sian Gulf region and the wider      perpetuated by the pretorian
nationalist movements ‘from         Arab world we are witnessing        guards and foreign powers. The
the blow’ to topple the west-       the dawn of a new era where         Arab streets everywhere are
ern-backed sultanist regimes        the volcanic rupture of mass        now teeming with popular de-
in the oil region of Persian        movements for democracy, as         mands for real change, and in
Gulf. Still, Halliday clung to      in Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain,      the case of Arabia’s sultans this
his historical materialist view     may culminate less in outright      means the end of business as
that the narrow elites of those     regime change and more in in-       usual mandating drastic mea-
oil sheikhdoms and their frag-      cremental, albeit significant,      sures to make the necessary ad-
mentary legitimation due to the     democratization, understood         justments that may be painful
profound social stratifications     as a process of institutional       to the ruling families and their
and unjust hierarchies and ex-      change portending the wresting      system of patronage keenly
clusionary politics were bound      away of concentrated power in       cultivated throughout their po-
to experience significant jolts     the monarchical hands and into      litical systems, yet inevitable if
sooner or later and that it was     the representative hands of as-     they want to prevent a massive
simply a matter of time before      semblies, councils, etc., alto-     revolution from the below.



Echo | March 2011                                                                                     17
      World of Islam




                                                                      the current trend is toward a
                                                                      new political narrative that in-
                                                                      dicates the acidic mixture of
                                                                      democratic institutions, such
                                                                      as effective, representative par-
                                                                      liaments and an independent
                                                                      judiciary, with the relics of the
                                                                      past, above all the monarchies.
                                                                      The irony of conservative mon-
                                                                      archies, forced into the uncom-
                                                                      fortable position of initiating
                                                                      self-reform as a result of inten-
                                                                      sifying pressures from the be-
                                                                      low, is incomprehensible save
                                                                      through the intricate lenses of
                                                                      democratization in tune with
                                                                      the intricacies of local customs
                                                                      and traditions. In the new Ara-
                                                                      bia without Sultanism the sul-
                                                                      tans can survive only by being
                                                                      the grave diggers of their own
                                                                      sultanist power and authority,
                                                                      that is nowadays the focus of
                                                                      popular anger seeking a more
                                                                      diffuse and participatory po-
                                                                      litical system. Whether or not
                                                                      the co-habitation remains tem-
                                                                      porary depends on multiple
                                                                      factors, chiefly the balance of
                                                                      forces and the ability of rul-
                                                                      ers to re-invent themselves as
                                                                      stakeholders in the movement
                                                                      for change, rather than as sim-
                                                                      ply the targets of those changes.
   Thus, the cabinet changes      its). After decades of develop-         In the case of Bahrain, where
and shuffling of government       ment without liberalization, the    the embattled ruler has put
personalities, witnessed nowa-    stage is now set to close the gap   the crown prince in charge of
days in several Arab monar-       and sail through the turbulent      mapping a new course of ac-
chies, go hand in hand with the   channels of change that dictate     tion to appease the revolting
reluctant nods from the top to    the abrogation of big chunks        population, now squarely in
the popular demands for ac-       of monarchical power and            possession of the Pearl Square
countability,   anti-corruption   privilege in favor of “people’s     in Manama, this would mean
and nepotism, independence        power.” Spelling doom for the       power-sharing with the hitherto
and democracy (within lim-        future of dynastic Sultanism,       disenfranchised Shiite major-



18                                                                           Echo | March 2011
                                                                                 World of Islam




ity who yearn for citizen input
and equal rights. The Sunni-led
order, backed by Saudi Arabia
and US power, is no longer ten-
able and nothing can prevent
the winds of change that drift
in the direction of a future co-
alition of Sunnis and Shiites
running the government and
controlling its various branches
including its legislative and ju-
dicial branches.
   Without doubt, Bahrain’s
foreign behavior and its pres-
ent allegiances to US power
will not remain immuned from
the important domestic chang-
es gripping the country, no
matter what the degree of US’s
unhappiness over these devel-
opments ringing “chaos” and
“insecurity” for US’s vested
interests in the region. A corre-
sponding diminishing role and
influence of US power in Bah-
rain is inserted in the scripts
for change, albeit in a subtle
way that will likely become
more pronounced in the future
as the internal dynamics of
change shows is foreign rami-
fications. The US may end up
keeping its naval headquarters       sent to continuing US mili-           than pushing the status quo
and bases in Bahrain, but will       tary presence on the condition        ante to a reluctant population
likely come under increased          that it will refrain from any         to no avail. The end-game may
pressure and scrutiny that will,     unilateral action against Iran        be not just the decline but the
in turn, put certain limits on the   or any other regional player.         evaporation of US, and alto-
conduct of US military power,        This would clearly represent a        gether western, hegemony in
e.g., the US will no longer be       net loss for the hitherto unfet-      the region, but the intermediate
able to take for granted that        tered US military movement            future bespeaks of a mixed nar-
Bahrain will be a passive ob-        and power projection in the re-       rative that is wrought with the
server of any action against         gion, but one that the US may         tensions of an odd coupling,
the neighboring Iran. Instead,       have to bite the bullet and ac-       the strange bedfellows of mon-
the “new Bahrain” may con-           cept, as still a better alternative   archy and democracy.



Echo | March 2011                                                                                     19
      World of Islam




Ayatollah Sistani
slams violence against
protestors in Bahrain
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has expressed
grave concerns about harsh measures against
pro-democracy protestors in Bahrain.

A
         yatollah Sistani said     where the injured were be-        Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq and Ku-
         on March 16 that prob-    ing treated, was also attacked    wait have staged demonstra-
         lems in Bahrain must      by Saudi forces and everyone      tions in support of protesters in
be resolved “through peaceful      inside the building, including    Bahrain.
means,” Ayatollah Sistani’s        doctors and nurses, was taken        Security forces detained six
spokesman said.                    hostage.                          opposition leaders in Bahrain
   The statement came after           Bahraini      demonstrators    on March 15.
hundreds of Bahraini riot po-      maintain that they will hold         Opposition leader Hassan
lice and Saudi forces, backed      their ground until their de-      Mushaima, Wa’ad party leader
by tanks and helicopters, at-      mands for freedom, constitu-      Ibrahim Sharif, and activist Ab-
tacked demonstrators in Mana-      tional monarchy, and a voice in   dul Wahad Hussein are among
ma’s Pearl Square, the epicen-     the government are met.           the detained.
ter of anti-government protests,      Analysts say the king has         On March 16, King Hamad
where demonstrators have           brought shame to himself by       bin Isa al-Khalifa gave per-
camped out for weeks, killing      inviting foreign forces to sup-   mission for about 1,000 Saudi
at least six people and injuring   press his own people in their     soldiers and 500 United Arab
more than 1,000 others.            struggle for democracy.           Emirates police to protect Bah-
   The city’s main hospital,          Hundreds of people in Saudi    raini government buildings.



20                                                                          Echo | March 2011
                                                                          World of Islam




Libya: A Test for West’s
Commitment to Democratic Values
The West should give up its utilitarian
approach to Libya and stand on the side of
the people. Oil contracts should not be an
obstacle in the way of the West to take the
side of people instead of supporting the
despotic regime.
  By Abbas Kesavarz Shokri (Ph.D.)




L
        ibyan strongman Moam-        “We will chase the traitors    but are not taking any serious
        er Qaddafi said his       from Benghazi,” he told his       action. Some analysts maintain
        forces would launch       troops. “Destroy their fortifi-   that the western world wishes
an assault on rebel stronghold    cations. Show them no mercy.      to “steal” Libya’s oil because
Benghazi on March 17, saying      The world needs to see Beng-      of the following reasons.
“traitors” would be showed no     hazi free.”                          First of all, Libya and the
mercy but those who laid down        It seems that despite clear    western world have been enter-
their arms would be spared.       brutality of Qaddafi and his      ing into one profitable arrange-
“The decision has been taken.     suppressive regime, the United    ment after another. Moreover,
Prepare yourselves. We will ar-   States and Europe have been       for the last decade and up to
rive tonight,” Qaddafi said on    issuing threats and condemna-     a few weeks ago, Qaddafi had
state television.                 tions of the Qaddafi regime,      nothing but good press in the



Echo | March 2011                                                                              21
      World of Islam




western world. He was trying in every way to prove
that he was in no way a supporter of “terrorism” and
wished only to be fully integrated into the geopolitical
and world-economic mainstream.
   The second point is that on the basis of statements
and remarks of the American and European officials
there is not going to be any significant military in-
volvement of the western world in Libya. The public
statements are all huff and puff, designed to impress lo-
cal opinion at home. There will be no Security Council
resolution because Russia and China won’t go along.
There will be no NATO resolution because Germany
and some others won’t go along. Even Sarkozy’s mili-
tant anti-Qaddafi stance is meeting resistance within
France.
   The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and the
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mullen,
have very publicly stated their opposition to instituting
a no-fly zone. Indeed, Secretary Gates went further. On
Feb. 25, he addressed the cadets at West Point, saying
to them: “In my opinion, any future defense secretary
who advises the president again to send a big Ameri-
can land army into Asia or the Middle East or Africa
should have his head examined.”
   Retired General Wesley Clark, the former com-
mander of NATO forces, wrote an op-ed for the Wash-
ington Post on Mar. 11, under the heading, “Libya
doesn’t meet the test for U.S. military action.” So, de-
spite the call of the hawks for U.S. involvement, Presi-
dent Obama will resist.
   However, analysts like Immanuel Wallerstein main-
tain that the issue is not Western military intervention or
not. The issue is the consequence of Qaddafi’s attempt
to suppress all opposition in the most brutal fashion for
the second Arab revolt. Libya is in turmoil because of
the successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. And if
there is any conspiracy, it is one between Qaddafi and
the West to slow down, even quash, the Arab revolt. To
the extent that Qaddafi succeeds, he sends a message to
all the other threatened despots of the region that harsh
repression rather than concessions is the way to go.
   What follows is the analysis of Wallerstein of the
world left and the crisis in Libya: As Samir Amin points
out in his analysis of the Egyptian uprising, there were



22                                                            Echo | March 2011
                                                  World of Islam




                    four distinct components among the protestors -- the
                    youth, the radical left, middle-class democrats, and Is-
                    lamists. The radical left is composed of suppressed left
                    parties and revitalized trade-union movements. There
                    is no doubt a much, much smaller radical left in Libya,
                    and a much weaker army (because of Qaddafi’s delib-
                    erate policy). The outcome there is therefore very un-
                    certain.
                       The assembled leaders of the Arab League may con-
                    demn Qaddafi publicly, but many, even most, may be
                    applauding him privately -- and copying from him.
                       It might be useful to end with two pieces of testi-
                    mony from the world left. Helena Sheeham, an Irish
                    Marxist activist, well-known in Africa for her solidar-
                    ity work there with the most radical movements, was
                    invited by the Qaddafi regime to come to Libya to lec-
                    ture at the university. She arrived as turmoil broke out.
                    The lectures at the university were cancelled, and she
                    was finally simply abandoned by her hosts, and had to
                    make her way out by herself. She wrote a daily diary in
                    which, on the last day, Mar. 8, she wrote: “Any ambiv-
                    alence about that regime, gone, gone, gone. It is brutal,
                    corrupt, deceitful, delusional.”
                       We might also see the statement of South Africa’s
                    major trade-union federation and voice of the left, CO-
                    SATU. After praising the social achievements of the
                    Libyan regime, COSATU said: “COSATU does not
                    accept however that these achievements in any way
                    excuse the slaughter of those protesting against the op-
                    pressive dictatorship of Colonel Qaddafi and reaffirms
                    its support for democracy and human rights in Libya
                    and throughout the continent.”
                       Let us keep our eye on the ball. The key struggle
                    worldwide right now is the second Arab revolt. It will
                    be hard enough to obtain a truly radical outcome in this
                    struggle. Qaddafi is a major obstacle for the Arab, and
                    indeed the world, left. Perhaps we should all remem-
                    ber Simone de Beauvoir’s maxim: “Wanting to be free
                    yourself means wanting that others be free.”
                       On the basis of Wallerstein’s analysis, the West
                    should give up its utilitarian approach in Libya and
                    stand on the side of the people.
                       Abbas Keshavarz Shokri is faculty member of the
                    Shahed University, Tehran.



Echo | March 2011                                                       23
        Middle East




Support for Arab
Awakening Grows with
Each New Revolt
T
        he Tahrir Square “Hur-     colony may be accelerating.        the opposite. AIPAC has been
        riya!” tremors spread-        Also feeling the widening       saturating Capitol Hill this
        ing across the Middle      flood torrents are those depend-   week as well as media outlets
East may or may not be im-         ing on the 1978 Camp David         with its just released Red Alert!
pacting today’s events in the      Accords and its “Rosemary’s        “Urgent Appeal” which reads
historically liberal American      baby,” the 1979 “Peace Treaty”     as follows: “Please urge your
state of Wisconsin and other ar-   that castrated Egypt, betrayed     House member to sign a letter
eas of America, yet most of us     the Palestinians and ceded re-     to Secretary of State Hillary
would agree that the Tunisian-     gional dominance to Israel         Clinton that urges all branches
Egyptian revolutions are being     for three decades. The White       of the U.S. government to em-
felt far and wide and appear to    House reportedly is reconciled     phasize to prospective Egyp-
be dramatically gaining steam.     to the fact that Camp David        tian leaders and opposition fig-
Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee      may be ‘renegotiated’ but, like    ures the importance of Egypt’s
camps are no exception.            Israel, fears it may be frozen     international obligations, spe-
   Perhaps sooner rather than      and indefinitely suspended if      cifically its Camp David peace
later, a half dozen or so Arab     not scrapped completely in the     treaty with Israel.”
despots may reluctantly retire     coming months. This is part of        On February 18, the Pal-
or leave for medical treatment     the re-ordering we are witness-    estinian U.N. delegation, in
in Saudi Arabia. Indeed some       ing as the new era and indeed      a rare display of back bone,
Saudis may themselves move         culture of resistance spreads.     presumably influenced by the
to America to occupy their vast       Panicked Israeli leaders and    revelations in the Palestine Pa-
real estate holdings stateside,    their agents in Congress are       pers of treachery and resulting
some located in largely Israeli    busy trying to convince the        charges of treason, as well as
duo-national neighborhoods,        American public how vital          by Tahrir Square, joined the
whose occupancy rates are also     and cheap the $3 billion per       130 U.N. Member co-sponsors
dramatically rising, as many in    year cost of Camp David is         of the U.N. Security Council
Israel sense that the CIA-pre-     for America’s security, while      Resolution and stared down
dicted collapse of their settler   they know the truth is precisely   Barak Obama and Ambassador



24                                                                           Echo | March 2011
                                                                                Middle East




Susan Rice and rejected their        American public and the world       the Suez Canal? It was despite
proposed gutting of the modest       that under Congressional pres-      Israeli threats and claims de-
resolution condemning Israeli        sure, it is Israeli settlers in-    livered by Foreign Minister
settlements. Before the vote,        habiting stolen land, not the       Avigdor Lieberman that Iran’s
threats were issued from the         American people or their val-       use of the international water-
White House personally deliv-        ues, that still prevail, even as    way is “an hostile act”.
ered to PA “President” Mah-          the U.S. and Israel reap an Arab       Many Arab communities,
moud Abass during a 40 minute        and Islamic awakening that is       like the rest of us, appear al-
reportedly tense telephone call      hastening their expulsion from      most mesmerized by what’s
from the President; and before       the region. Just hours after the    been happening. A survey
Abass presumably recovered           courageous U.N. vote, the new       conducted by the Arab World
from that upbraiding, another        provisional government in           for Research and Develop-
one came from Hilary Clinton.        Cairo announced the opening         ment (AWRAD), published on
   The British, Russian, and         of Rafah crossing, if only on a     February 2, 2011 showed that
Chinese ambassadors were             limited basis—for now.              74 percent of the Palestinians
among those who rose to speak           Symbolism is everywhere-         support pro-democracy pro-
in favor of the failed resolution.   and sometimes seemingly ev-         tests in Tunisia, which toppled
Still, it was a rare 14-1 Secu-      erything. Who would have            President Zine El Abidine Ben
rity Council vote in solidarity      thought that Egypt, just days       Ali. In Lebanon’s camps, it ap-
with Palestine. It was also yet      after Mubarak’s recall, would       pears that support for the Arab
another American veto, that          welcome, for the first time since   Awakening grows with each
for the 63rd time, signaled the      1979, Iranian warships through      new revolt in the region.



Echo | March 2011                                                                                   25
       Middle East




Why Arab
Leaders are
Stubbornly
Embedded to
Their Thrones?
During their decades of
absolute and dictatorial rules
they also expect us to be
eternally grateful to them for
their leadership.
  By Nizar Awad



J
    uha in the Arab folk          Arab rulers’ obstinate cling-    most Arabs remember from
    tales is a thirteenth cen-    ing to power through sheer       story books, folk tales and
    tury witty trickster whose    cruelty and shrewd trickery as   bed time stories told to us by
comical jousts with political     in the case of the epitome of    our portents, was a shabbily
authorities and subversive hu-    trickery and deceitfulness of    dressed and funny looking fel-
mor are legendary. The story      the mercurial and soon to be     low probably resembling in
of Juha’s nail in particular is   ousted Muammar Abu Minyar        dress but not in appearance,
very fitting in describing the    Qaddafi. Juha as far as I and    his counterpart Qaddafi. Con-



26                                                                       Echo | March 2011
                                                                             Middle East




trary to Qaddafi, however Juha    embarrass the hell out of us in    rist, the novelist, the poet, the
was said to have stuck to his     the process. Along with Qad-       only eagle, meaning among
name and even appreciated it      dafi the illustrious figure head   Arab leaders, the inventor
unlike Qaddafi who took to        was known as the colonel, the      (he claimed to have designed
himself as many names and         leader of the revolutions, the     a jet-car that was destined to
titles as the colorful and out-   philosopher, the wise man          be manufactured by an Italian
landish customs that he wears     of Africa and the world, the       car manufacturer), the prophet
even on his state visits and      international ruler, the theo-     of the desert and not to blow



Echo | March 2011                                                                                27
       Middle East




his cover and uncover his and     ceive financial aid. In contrast   the patch of land where his
his family’s vast oil wealth he   to Juha’s nail Qaddafi’s aids      massive tent is hoisted. On
decreed that he and his fam-      carry around pegs so that they     one occasion and on national
ily are to be designated poor     can pitch his tent wherever he     TV mind you he unabashedly
and be counted among the          goes as an obvious gesture of      claimed that he once was so
Libyan poorest lining up to re-   staking his claim at least to      broke that he borrowed money




28                                                                         Echo | March 2011
                                                                            Middle East




from a member of the Libyan       Kabir. And you thought that        his trickery and treachery was
Revolutionary Council named       the time of Juha’s farfetched      and continues to be an endear-
Abd al-Salam Jallud so that he    stories and legendry tricks be-    ing and beloved figure among
can buy a sheep which would       long to the past and could no      Arabs old and young, and the
be sacrificed on the day of the   longer be resurrected.             fact that I am employing his
Muslim Eid known as Eid al-          In this anecdote Juha who       anecdote to illustrate my point
                                  actually stars in many of his      regarding Arab leaders’ usur-
                                  tales tells us that having been    pation and sinister manipula-
                                  decided to sell his house he       tion of power and authority
                                  drove a nail into one of the       should not reflect negatively
                                  walls and then sold the house      on Juha’s popular legacy.
                                  to an unsuspected buyer.              As soon as such Arab lead-
                                  However before leaving the         ers including the colonel/phi-
                                  property he sheepishly re-         losopher/ inventor...etc Qad-
                                  quested that the new owner         dafi come to power whether
                                  allows him to drop by once         through hereditary monar-
                                  in a while to visit his nail to    chies and republics, military
                                  which the unsuspecting man         copes, palace copes or over-
                                  agreed. To the new owner’s         throwing each other such as in
                                  surprise Juha wasted no time       the case of the Omani Sultan
                                  to stop by for a visit in the      Qabus bin Sa’id who over-
                                  same day and every day after-      threw his own father Sa’id
                                  wards. Juha kept dropping by       bin Timur they immediately
                                  during breakfast, lunch and        embark on a phase known
                                  dinner times to check on his       in the dictionary of authori-
                                  nail and partake in the man’s      tarianism as “entrenchment”
                                  meals. Whenever the weather        even if that requires the use
                                  turned bad the now visibly         of glue so no one could yank
                                  upset owner would find Juha        them off their thrones for the
                                  setting under his nail presum-     remainder of their lives. Fol-
                                  ably to insure the safety of his   lowing entrenchment Arab
                                  nail but obviously to avoid the    leaders would then embark on
                                  harsh weather elements out-        a process called weaving their
                                  side. Even at night Juha would     legacies which are no more
                                  always be caught fast asleep       than skeletal insignificant
                                  under his beloved nail. After      truths incased in layers and
                                  putting up with Juha’s antics      layers of lies. Let me ask you
                                  for a while the man became         this: could any rational being
                                  so distraught that he in a fit     believe these leaders actually
                                  of anger gathered his belong-      earned all those medals cover-
                                  ing and sped out of the house      ing their chests when they ap-
                                  without even asking for his        pear before cheering crowds
                                  money back. Here I would like      or engage in ceremonial in-
                                  to emphasize that Juha despite     spections of their troops?.



Echo | March 2011                                                                               29
       Middle East




Anyhow during their decades       constitutional monarchy of         truth. Juha Qaddafi inverted
of absolute and dictatorial       King Idris al-Sanusi in 1969,      all tenets of democracy so that
rules they also expect us to be   a revolution is by all accounts    the rule of the people became
eternally grateful to them for    a trickster of the worst kind.     the rule of a brutal dictator,
their leadership and gracing us   This roguish figure that stole     instead of granting the Liby-
with their appearances spit &     power and with it the security,    an people their rights in their
span in public or national TV.    happiness and dignity of the       country’s resources including
To add insult to injury the ma-   Libyan people under the cover      oil, he took ownership of the
jority of them are constant em-   of darkness, appropriated te-      land and everything on it in-
barrassment to their people at    nets, principles and ideals of     cluding the people and their
home and abroad. While some       democracy to create a night-       properties, and finally his so-
clown around like idiots even     marish regime that sat on the      called social reforms were de-
during Arab Summits, others       chest of the Libyans for forty     signed to create divisions and
not only behave but also dress    one years. He replaced the         fissures among the population
like clowns including Muam-       constitution of the monarchy       so as to cement and prolong
mar Qaddafi who has been          with the so-called green book      his and his family’s infamous
making himself and by exten-      supposedly implying the color      rule.
sion his oppressed people the     of Islam but instead it was in        Despite the fact that Libyan
laughing stock worldwide.         reality a blue print for turning   people and the world com-
   Among Arab leaders who         the whole country into a plan-     munity know of the regimes’
have been yanked from their       tation for him and his family      viciousness and the row evil
thrones or would soon be fac-     thereby enslaving all Libyans      beneath Qaddafi’s mask, It
ing similar fates, Muammar        and stealing the country’s re-     took an all out revolution in
Qaddafi is the most abomi-        sources.                           all of Libya to completely tear
nable with his people and            Even though he and his clan     up the mask off his vicious
humanity as a whole and has       kept enforcing the manifestos      and ugly face. Who among
been in power the longest “41     in his three parts green book      us could forget that this man
years to be exact”. Can you       on the beleaguered Libyan          engineered the 1988 destruc-
imagine a leader who instructs    people but they could never        tion of Pan Am Flight 103
his son Saif al-Islam or sword    pull it off. This imposter while   over Lockerbie, Scotland that
of Islam (now we know why         claiming that his three parts      killed a total of 270 people
he chose this particular name     green book provide solutions       many of them Americans
for his son) to tell the Libyan   for problems permeating de-        heading home for the Christ-
people “point blank” that they    mocracy, society and econo-        mas Holiday. Would you think
either cease their protests and   my but in reality they are tools   that the people of Uganda, Si-
demands for democracy and         to suppress democracy, hu-         erra Leone, and Chad could
freedom or face total anni-       man rights and freedom. This       forget this man’s support for
hilation. Could there be any      prankster in both behavior and     dictators of his ilk including
comparison with this atrocity     dress kept lying that he de-       Idi Amin, Charles Taylor and
of a man except with Genghis      rived his concocted ideas from     Goukouni Oueddei, who had
Khan, Hulagu, Hitler and Sta-     the Athenian, the French and       no qualms about committing
lin. This ruthless dictator who   the American Republics which       genocide against their own
calls his cope that toppled the   could not be further from the      people? Now that the jig is up



30                                                                          Echo | March 2011
                                                                           Middle East




and Qaddafi is exposed for the    thermore how could the civi-      ing massacred right before our
whole world to see, the regime    lized world and particularly      eyes, to please get involved
as expected would not hesitate    the United States of America      now. The time does not even
to pursue an inhumane policy      and Western Europe stand idly     allow for lengthy and tedious
of a scorched earth rather than   by and watch a massacre un-       sessions at the United Nations
surrender power.                  folding in which heavy guns,      or debating the pros and cons
   Who could believe that in      tanks and fighter helicopters     of direct involvement for if
the twenty first century the      and jets are being used against   we wait any longer a whole
equally murderous Saif al-        unarmed civilians. I am ap-       population would possibly
Islam Qaddafi speaking on         pealing to the world commu-       be wiped out right before our
national TV on his father’s       nity on behalf of the Libyan      eyes and with it our sense of
behalf threatened the Libyan      people whose young and old,       justice, security, compassion
people with annihilation? Fur-    women and children are be-        and common humanity.



Echo | March 2011                                                                             31
       International




A Wakeup Call
for Americans
Muslim Americans have been part of the
American fabric since the 18th century, and
continue to make contributions to its society.
  By Adel Syed and Lana Daoud




I
    n January, the Islamic        rived to the event, and attempt-     attendants were subjected to
    Circle of North America       ed to remain unscathed by epi-       during the ICNA event is symp-
    (ICNA) Relief sponsored       thets being shouted at them by       tomatic of a larger ailment. It’s
a fundraising dinner in Yorba     angry protesters. The widely         not only indicative of a grow-
Linda, California to raise mon-   viewed video documenting the         ing gap of understanding, but a
ey for women’s shelters and       event speaks for itself.             legitimization of fear and para-
hunger relief across the Unit-       Nonviolent protests, to be        noia evident in the words of the
ed States. Families, including    clear, are a civil right and valid   protesters, and even in speech-
young children and elders, ar-    expression, but the vitriol that     es by two US Congressman, Ed



32                                                                            Echo | March 2011
                                                                              International




Royce, Gary Miller, and Villa       since 9/11. However, only after    which people of diverse back-
Park Councilwoman Deborah           the YouTube video of the pro-      grounds work together toward
Pauly.                              test at the ICNA event perme-      a common goal to build a bal-
   The protest rally – spon-        ated the blogosphere did those     anced society.
sored by local Orange County        who have been on the fence de-        The American collective
conservative group ACT! For         cide that enough is enough.        conscience has always been
America, and Pamela Geller’s           Americans are not a mono-       able to differentiate between a
Stop Islamization of America,       lithic group defined by rheto-     few who seek to marginalize
now designated a hate group by      ric, but a diverse nation that     and scapegoat a community
the Southern Poverty Law Cen-       can work together. There are       and the majority that values
ter – initially took issue with a   steps that can be taken to move    pluralism. The outpouring of
single speaker at the ICNA fun-     toward inclusiveness and civil-    support from across religious
draiser. But it was their choice    ity toward one another. Some       and ethnic communities is a
of hateful language and insults     steps that concerned citizens      testament to the belief in equal-
against Muslims that has since      can take to involve local au-      ity for all.
caused the uproar.                  thorities and create positive         The late US President John
   The shock of such hate           change include contacting          F. Kennedy once said, “Ulti-
is still palpable, and nearly       members of Congress to ensure      mately America’s answer to
months since it took place, the     they know their constituency is    the intolerant man is diver-
protest has served as a wakeup      represented by diverse voices,     sity, the very diversity which
call. People of all faiths and      or reaching out to local places    our heritage of religious free-
backgrounds across the coun-        of worship or organizations to     dom has inspired.” Muslim
try showered the Council on         encourage outreach among var-      Americans have been part of
American Islamic Relations-         ious faith communities.            the American fabric since the
Greater Los Angeles Area               This spring, CAIR-LA is         18th century, and continue to
(CAIR-LA) with emails and           organizing a conference to pro-    make contributions to its so-
phone calls of support, some        vide necessary leadership skills   ciety. Muslim Americans are
even crying, showing their          to encourage civic engagement      well represented in the armed
solidarity with Muslim Ameri-       among Muslim Americans.            forces, and serve as doctors,
cans. The heartfelt messages        In addition, The Los Angeles       engineers, and school teachers
were followed by eager ques-        Sheriff’s department initiated     in America’s classrooms. En-
tions: “What can I do? I want to    an engagement process with         suring that America continues
do something, but don’t know        Muslim American community          to be a model of inclusiveness
where to start.”                    leaders through the Muslim         can only occur when Muslim
   The protests have served as a    American Homeland Security         Americans are seen as fellow
catalyst for dialogue, whereby      Congress (MAHSC), a commu-         neighbors to engage with, not
those who have been working         nity partnership in which law      outsiders to be shouted at, or
together across various faith       enforcement, Muslim Ameri-         altogether avoided. Adel Syed
communities at a grassroots         can leaders and youth through-     is the Government Relations
level can now bring people to-      out the Los Angeles area work      Coordinator and Lana Daoud is
gether for the real discussion.     together to keep communities       the Development Coordinator
Muslim Americans have been          engaged with each other. Such      for the Council on American
aware and even feared the es-       programs can serve as a mod-       Islamic Relations, Greater Los
calation of threatening rhetoric    el in cities across America, in    Angeles Area.



Echo | March 2011                                                                                  33
        International




Peter King and Other
Islamophobes
All across the US, people with clear anti-
Muslim bias and even overt hatred are being
proffered as “experts” on Islam.
  By Hesham Hassaballa



O
           n Feb 10, NY Rep. Pe-     American Muslims are brac-          discussions on Islam; they ap-
           ter King, Chairman of     ing for more negative news in       pear on television programs;
           the House Homeland        the months and years to come.       they are guests on radio shows;
Security Committee, held his         Although King has never ad-         they even are recruited to teach
first in a series of hearings over   vocated hatred of Muslims, his      college courses on Islam. All
the “Radicalization of Ameri-        lumping of the entire Ameri-        this despite their obvious anti-
can Muslims” and what to do          can Muslim community with           Islamic agenda.
about it. Despite numerous           the acts of a few terrorists (161      It is imperative to see
voices urging the Republican         since Sept. 11, 2001, accord-       through the agenda of Rep.
from NY to broaden the scope         ing to a University of North        King and the other Islamopho-
of his probe into homegrown          Carolina study) many Ameri-         bic “experts.” If Mr. King were
extremism and terrorism, King        can Muslims fear King will          truly serious about the threat
was undeterred, saying: “To          play right into the hands of        of violent extremism against
back down would be a cra-            those trying to demonize the        the United States, he would
ven surrender to political cor-      entire community.                   have also examined the threat
rectness and an abdication of           Indeed, there has been a         from right-wing groups whose
what I believe to be the main        steady and troubling growth         rise, according to the South-
responsibility of this commit-       of anti-Muslim hatred and fear      ern Poverty Law Center, has
tee -- to protect America from       ever since September 11, and        been meteoric since the elec-
a terrorist attack.”                 it appears to have accelerated      tion of President Obama. In its
   Most analysis of the hear-        in the last few years. All across   Spring 2011 report, the SPLC
ing has concluded that noth-         the country, people with clear      states that the number of hate
ing new was learned, and             anti-Muslim bias and even           groups in the United States is
some have called it “political       overt hatred are being prof-        over 1,000, a 7.5% increase
theater.” Rep. King has prom-        fered as “experts” on Islam.        from 2009. Moreover, accord-
ised more hearings, and most         They are members of panel           ing to a UNC study, there were



34                                                                              Echo | March 2011
                                                                            International




more than 30 domestic terror       yet they are still requested to   spite the fact that they have
plots in 2010; only ten were       speak about Islam and Mus-        nothing to do with terrorism,
committed by Muslims. Thus,        lims. They are either in it for   serves to dishearten me as
to focus solely on the Muslim      self-promotion and enrich-        well. But, I am not giving up
threat, to the exclusion of all    ment, or are part of a concert-   on America that easily. My
others, is playing politics in     ed effort to disenfranchise the   country is much better than the
the worst manner ahead of the      American Muslim community,        ignorant acts of a few of my
2012 election cycle.               again for short-term political    fellow Americans. My people,
   As for the Islamophobes         gain. Contrary to their claims,   the American people, are much
posing as experts, many of         the good of the country is not    better than the crimes of a tiny
them do not have even a cur-       in their interest at all.         minority. I know that Ameri-
sory knowledge or understand-         As I watched part of the       can Muslims will come to be
ing of the Arabic language,        King hearing, it was very         seen as part of the American
which is critical given that the   disheartening and saddening       family. The sooner that hap-
sacred text of Islam is in Ara-    to see the American Muslim        pens, the better it will be for
bic. These “experts” continue      community -- my community         the country and the world.
to peddle old and tired Orien-     -- singled out as the cause of       Hesham A. Hassaballa is
talist claims against Islam, the   violent extremism and home-       a Chicago-based doctor and
Qur’an, and the Prophet Mu-        grown terrorism. Seeing and       writer. His latest book is Noble
hammad and yet are not called      reading about the numerous        Brother: The Story of the Last
out on it. These “experts” are     attacks against Muslims and       Prophet in Poetry (Faithful
open in their guile for Islam,     their houses of worship, de-      Word Press).



Echo | March 2011                                                                               35
             Iran




Iran foreign policy
highlights in 2010
I
     n a report published on        invitation.                        produces radioisotopes for can-
     March 16, Iranian Foreign         Some members of the UN          cer treatment. According to the
     Ministry spokesman Ra-         Security Council and the Eu-       agreement, the exchange was
min Mehmanparast highlighted        ropean Union had also been         to take place in Turkey under
some of the most important for-     invited but decided not to send    the supervision of the IAEA
eign policy events during Ira-      representatives.                   and Iran.
nian calendar year 1389, which         - On April 17 and 18, Tehran       - Tehran held a conference
ends on March 20.                   hosted a conference on nuclear     on Human Rights in the United
   Following is a brief summa-      disarmament which was enti-        States on October 25.
ry of some of these events:         tled the Nuclear Energy for All,      - Iran participated at the 11th
   - Iran and the 5+1 group (the    Nuclear Weapons for No One.        Economic Cooperation Orga-
United States, Britain, France,        - Iranian President Mah-        nization (ECO) Summit which
Russia, China, and Germany)         moud Ahmadinejad attended          was held in Istanbul on Decem-
held talks on December 6 and 7      the 2010 Review Conference         ber 23.
after a 14-month hiatus.            of the Parties to the Treaty on       - Iran also participated at the
   - Iran and the 5+1 group also    the Non-Proliferation of Nucle-    third summit of Caspian Sea lit-
held negotiations on January 20     ar Weapons (NPT) which was         toral states in Baku on Novem-
and 21 in Istanbul.                 held from May 3 to 28.             ber 18, in which the presidents
   - Several measures were tak-        In his address to the confer-   of the five Caspian Sea littoral
en to clear up the existing am-     ence, Ahmadinejad said today       states signed an agreement on
biguities about Iran’s nuclear      certain nuclear armed countries    security cooperation in the Cas-
program and to show the world       are using their atomic arsenals    pian Sea region.
that Iran’s nuclear policy is       as a tool to “bully” others and       Ahmadinejad also proposed
transparent.                        even find “dominance” over         a six-point plan on additional
   - On January 15 and January      them.                              cooperation among the five
16, 2011, Iran invited a number        - On May 17, Iran, Turkey,      Caspian states.
of international representatives    and Brazil issued a declaration,      - Iran, as a victim of terror-
to visit its nuclear facilities.    according to which Iran was to     ism, also participated at several
   Diplomats from Egypt,            ship 1200 kilograms of its low-    conferences on terrorism.
Cuba, Syria, Algeria, Venezue-      enriched uranium to Turkey            - Iran played an active role
la, Oman, and the Arab League       to be exchanged for 120 kilo-      at several conferences on the
visited the Natanz enrichment       grams of 20 percent enriched       campaign against terrorism and
facility and the Arak heavy wa-     nuclear fuel to power the Teh-     held several negotiations with
ter reactor in response to Iran’s   ran research reactor, which        other countries’ officials in this



36                                                                            Echo | March 2011
                                                                                     Iran




regard.                             settle the problems facing these    tion of ties with certain African
   - The Islamic Republic also      countries.                          countries was also on Iran’s
had effective cooperation with         In his report, Mehmanparast      foreign policy agenda.
regional countries, particularly    also pointed to the bilateral ne-      Mehmanparast added that
the Persian Gulf littoral states.   gotiations that Iran held with      Iran had good cooperation with
   - The Islamic Republic also      several regional countries, in-     the European Union in various
took into consideration the cri-    cluding Turkey, Iraq, Syria,        areas.
ses in Iraq, Afghanistan, and       and Lebanon, as well as Latin          He also expressed hope
Palestine, and made several         American countries of Brazil        that Iran’s relations with other
suggestions in the regional and     and Venezuela.                      countries will improve during
international forums to help           He added that the promo-         Iranian calendar year 1390.




Echo | March 2011                                                                                   37
            Iran




Iran proposes Islamic
world contact group
I                                  MP criticizes West’s
     ranian Deputy Foreign                                            tocratic rulers, said Boroujerdi,
     Minister      Mohammad         silence on killing of             who is the Majlis National Se-
     Mahdi     Akhoundzadeh                                           curity and Foreign Policy Com-
has proposed the formation         people in Arab states              mittee chairman.
of a contact group within                                                The European parliaments
the Organization of Islamic          Top legislator Alaeddin          which sometimes issue state-
Conference to help resolve        Boroujerdi has strongly cen-        ments against the execution of
the issues facing the Islamic     sured the European parliaments      a murderer are also silent about
world.                            and the United Nations Securi-      these crimes, he stated.
   In a meeting with the OIC      ty Council for remaining silent        He went on to say that the
member states’ ambassadors        about merciless massacre of         UN Security Council which
in Geneva, Akhoundzadeh           Bahraini, Yemeni and Libyan         holds a session for an assassi-
said that the Islamic coun-       protesters.                         nation and orders the establish-
tries are currently faced with       In a letter to Chairman of the   ment of a tribunal has not taken
a number of major issues in-      German Parliament’s Foreign         any serious action over the past
cluding the violation of Pal-     Affairs Committee Ruprecht          month to restore security in the
estinians’ rights, violent sup-   Polenz, Boroujerdi said that to-    crisis-hit countries and defend
pression of Islamic nations’      day the world is witnessing bla-    the innocent citizens.
peaceful uprisings, economic      tant violation of human rights         The European parliaments’
problems, and terrorism.          and brutal massacre of innocent     inaction and the UN Security
   “A contact group within        and defenseless people in Bah-      Council’s failure to fulfill their
the OIC should be estab-          rain, Yemen and Libya.              obligations have paved the way
lished to examine and settle         However, the United States       for continuation of violent sup-
the problems and challenges       and Western countries, as the       pression of protesters, he said.
facing the Islamic countries,”    so-called upholders of the hu-         He added Saudi Arabia
he explained.                     man rights, are only observing      sends troops and heavy weap-
   Elsewhere in his remarks,      brutal killing of people in these   ons to Bahrain to put down the
he announced that a confer-       countries indifferently and         unrest and the United States as
ence on terrorism will be         even explicitly or implicitly ap-   the biggest self-proclaimed up-
held in Tehran in the coming      prove of the criminal actions       holder of human rights in the
months.                           perpetrated by the cruel and au-    West backs this action which is



38                                                                           Echo | March 2011
                                                                                  Iran




clearly in violation of the inter-   curity and created tension in    of Saudi and UAE troops to
national law and goes against        the region and called on the     Bahrain.
moral principles, he added.          Western countries to seriously      “Presence of Saudi and
   Boroujerdi      also    asked,    revise their policies.           UAE military forces in Bah-
“Doesn’t the great Iranian na-                                        rain and the U.S. support for
tion have the right not to trust        Foreign military              this action is the most crimi-
the West’s claims about the                                           nal Saudi-U.S. plan,” MP
human rights? And isn’t the
                                      presence in Bahrain,            Kazem Jalali told the Mehr
Islamic Republic of Iran right        most criminal U.S.-             News Agency on Wednesday.
to believe that the U.S. and Eu-           Saudi plan                    “U.S. Defense Secretary
rope only care about their inter-                                     (Robert Gates) has recently
ests and are ready to sacrifice        Meanwhile, the Rappor-         visited Bahrain and all plans
all humanity to achieve their        teur of Iran’s Majlis National   to deal with Bahraini people
goals.”                              Security and Foreign Policy      were drawn up during this
   In conclusion, the lawmaker       Committee also commented         trip,” he said.
said that the West’s policies        on the ongoing develop-             “The treachery of Bahraini
and actions have undermined          ments in Bahrain, condemn-       rulers will go down in the an-
the international peace and se-      ing the U.S.-backed dispatch     nals of history,” he added.



Echo | March 2011                                                                               39
          Culture




Teachings of prophets
carry universal message
of social justice:
professor Monshipouri
An expert on international relations,
Mahmood Monshipouri, says the teachings
of great prophets “carry universal message
of social justice and human dignity” and
believes as “history has shown great ideas
tend to outlast humanity.”
  By H. Kaji and J. Heirannia




“
      The holy books of Mus-        Monshipouri also says,         thinking is at the heart of the
      lims, Christians, and      “History has shown that im-       debates, for example, between
      Jews, among other re-      moral means and conduct tend      educators, policymakers, jour-
ligions, are typically about     to produce wicked and corrupt     nalists, and intellectuals who
ethical teachings of the great   results over time.”               offer us alternative views. In
prophets of the time,” Mon-         Following is the text of the   modern times, humans face
shipouri, an associate profes-   interview:                        confusion and lack of answer
sor of international relations      Q: How do you criticize dif-   amid a wide variety of an-
at San Francisco State Univer-   ferent views?                     swers. It is noteworthy that
sity, says.                         A: The issue of critical       constructive criticism con-



40                                                                        Echo | March 2011
                                                                                 Culture




cerns a reasoning that allows      speeding: why am I being the       of debates or complexities of
for both tolerance of diversity    only one stopped and ticket-       information explosion. In this
of opinions and intellectual       ed?” Two wrongs do not make        regard, making an emotional
honesty and integrity. Legiti-     a right.                           case is often more effective
mate criticism must be based          There is no question that       than a rational case. Some
on reasoning and logic of the      reasoning is the most widely       scholars have even argued that
message of the messenger. It       known rational tool of criti-      sentimental reasoning (against
is, therefore, fundamentally       cism. Yet it bears noting that     genocide, torture, hunger, ra-
wrong to criticize the char-       appealing to emotion rather        cial discrimination, corrup-
acter of a person rather than      than reasoning appears to be       tion, etc.) is far more effective
what s/he is saying. Instead,      the case in some situations,       than evoking abstract reason-
we should focus on the mes-        especially in political arenas.    ing as enunciated in UN or hu-
sage of the speaker rather than    Most politicians tend to turn      man rights declarations.
on her/his character. If some-     to emotions in election times         Q: Is there a space for “code
one’s position on the social,      simply because it is an ef-        of ethics” in such reasoning?
economic, or political issues is   fective method. People often          A: Yes, there are always
questionable, we need to criti-    make choices between can-          domestic rules and regula-
cize that position based on a      didates during election times      tions that are based on “code
reasoning that is sound, toler-    based on emotion not ratio-        of ethics.” For example, ac-
ant, and well established. We      nality. This has nothing to do     cepting money from outsid-
must avoid defeating a wrong       with being intellectually hon-     ers or foreigners in an election
argument by presenting yet         est or lacking a great vision or   campaign is an ethical—or
another wrong argument. Con-       imagination. It has to do with     even a legal—violation. There
sider, for example, if you are     connecting with the average        are, however, limits to ethical
stopped by a traffic police of-    person on the street who is not    reasoning, whose validity is
ficer for speeding, your reply     sophisticated enough to under-     legitimated by a whole host of
is that “but everyone else was     stand the nuance or subtleties     domestic factors and context.



Echo | March 2011                                                                                 41
           Culture




Using ethical reasoning must be relevant to
domestic contexts. In some circumstances,
emphasizing a strong version of ethical rel-
ativism (not permitting outside legitimate
criticism) could prove to be notoriously unre-
liable and perilous at best. Criticizing apart-
heid, as exercised by white supremacists in
South Africa, or the Gaza siege by the Israeli
officials is legitimate even if it is coming
from outside of South Africa and Israel.
   It is equally important to recognize that
there are limits to ethical justifications at
times, as decision making under some cir-
cumstances may involve the weighing up
several options and their consequences. To
argue that positive outcomes may result from
amoral actions, however, runs the risk of un-
conditionally justifying means in the name of
ends. Under Stalin, for instance, more than
20 millions of people lost their lives, but
nevertheless the Soviet Union became a su-
perpower by the mid-1950s. Did the means
justify the end? History has shown that im-
moral means and conduct tend to produce
wicked and corrupt results over time. Hence
the downfall of the Soviet empire by the ear-
ly 1990s.
   Q: What is your definition of authentic
thinking? Why do we need to have authentic
thinking in our time?
   A: The term “authentic thinking” is close-
ly linked to post-modernism, a school of
thought that refutes the modern, enlighten-
ment ideas that the expansion of knowledge            such thing as universally valid truth because the
in one part of the world (generally known as          contexts are different and the meaning of truth
the Western world) will lead to an improved           is often contextualized and thus not replicable
understanding of international relations across       in all situations. If we accept this reasoning,
the globe.                                            then there is no need to rely on the world’s great
   A most familiar and widely accepted under-         thinkers—such as Aristotle, Newton, Adam
standing of the post-modernism is about skep-         Smith, Bertrand Russell, Karl Marx, John May-
ticism and deconstruction of “universal truth”        nard Keynes, Immanuel Kant, and Karl Po-
in that it is argued that “truth” is socially con-    lanyi—for their ideas were relevant solely to
structed and better yet fabricated or coded with-     the past and not present. In other words, those
in a specific context. For this reason, there is no   ideas are not context sensitive largely because



42                                                                             Echo | March 2011
                                                                               Culture




                                                      begins from self and goes to society and the
                                                      globe and even larger universe—as opposed
                                                      to being outside and looking inside for the
                                                      solutions.
                                                         The problem with the extreme versions of
                                                      authentic thinking is that “no” universally
                                                      agreed upon standards, such as respect for
                                                      basic human rights, are regarded as universal.
                                                      Today, regardless of the origins and cultures
                                                      of ideas behind certain basic rights (UN Dec-
                                                      laration, Shari’a, EU Charter, or constitutions
                                                      of many secular and non-secular countries),
                                                      there is a global consensus that certain rights
                                                      (right to life, freedom from torture and dis-
                                                      crimination, prevention of retroactive appli-
                                                      cation of laws) are so fundamental that they
                                                      cannot be denied under any circumstances.
                                                      Post-modernism understanding tends to
                                                      struggle with such an approach. While it is
                                                      true that rights can be implemented and en-
                                                      forced based on local cultural traditions and
                                                      customs, there are values in spiritual think-
                                                      ing provided by philosophers, thinkers, and
                                                      prophets. The holy books of Muslims, Chris-
                                                      tians, and Jews, among other religions, are
                                                      typically about ethical teachings of the great
                                                      prophets of the time. They are still relevant—
                                                      or can be made relevant—to our times simply
                                                      because they carry universal message of so-
                                                      cial justice and human dignity.
                                                         History has shown that great ideas tend
                                                      to outlast humanity and that is the key rea-
                                                      son for their tenacity and longevity. Without
their times have passed.                              denying the value of authentic thinking, it is
   Taking this approach seriously, it basically    important not to lose sight of great ideas and
means that thinking is much more fulfilling        those aspects of history that can still teach us
and fresh when its roots are indigenous. The       great lessons.
struggle for self discovery (whatever that is:        Professor Mahmood Monshipouri is a faculty
searching for an authentic faith, seeking spiri-   member of the department of international re-
tual guidance, or exploring the question about     lations at San Francisco State University. His
the self) is valuable when it is coming from in-   most recent work is “Muslims in Global Poli-
side. This way of thinking, its proponents ar-     tics: Identities, Interests, and Human Rights”.
gue, will position an individual inside looking    He is also currently working on editing a book
outside for the solutions. This means that one     on human rights in the Middle East.



Echo | March 2011                                                                               43
           Culture




  Religious
Democracy:
     A New
Governance
     Model
                          By Yahya Fozi (Ph.D.)




T
         he Islamic Republic of Iran introduced
         a new political model named “religious
         democracy” which is of great importance
for those who try to harmonize religion with
modern institutions. This new model, in fact,
has given rise to a certain and independent po-
litical philosophy and governance method in the
face of modern models such as liberal democ-
racy. This new model of democratic governance
simultaneously honors the mundane and celes-
                                                     theses as “the end of history” and “end of Ideol-
tial aspects of life and deals with both religion
                                                     ogy” which regard Western democratic systems
and politics, faith and governance, administra-
                                                     as the greatest human work and introduce the
tion and guidance, rights and duties, individual
                                                     modern age as an end to the role of religion and
and society, individual and social rights and hu-
                                                     ideology in public life. In viewpoint of some
man and divine rights in the age of democracies
                                                     Western thinkers the fall of former Soviet Union
based on liberalism, secularism, and individual-
                                                     and its socialist ideology further supported the
ism. This is why the renowned French sociolo-
                                                     idea that there is no way but to accept liberalism
gist Foucault has said that the Iranian Islamic
                                                     and its liberal democratic governance model as
Revolution is the soul of a soulless and the heart
                                                     the sole model of governance. The main the-
of a heartless world. In fact, the idea of “reli-
                                                     sis in religious democracy as Imam Khomeini
gious democracy” seriously challenges such



44                                                                            Echo | March 2011
put it, was that instead of basing democracy       general Western democracies based on secular,
on civil, humanist and individualist principles,   liberal principles.
we could have a democracy based on religious
principles within the framework of divine rules.     Different Views about Religion
At a time when religion was regarded a dead
issue or at last a personal experience, Imam
                                                            and Democracy
Khomeini changed the paradigm of “Islam in
                                                            There are different viewpoints about
the Mosque” to “Islam in the public life” with
                                                   the relationship between religion and democra-
emphasis on the social and political aspects of
                                                   cy. Some believe in inconsistency of these two,
religion. Thus, he introduced a more advanced
                                                   calling religious democracy a paradox. They
democracy based on religious rules instead of
                                                   point that democracy is based on equality, free-



Echo | March 2011                                                                              45
           Culture




dom and the voice of majority, while religion
does not regard all humans beings equal like
the inequality of Muslims and non-Muslims or
the inequality of men and women. They main-
tain that freedom of thought is limited in Islam
and also argue that the voice of majority cannot
be a base for legislation in Islam, for God is the
only Lawgiver.
   There is a second approach, which believes
in consistency of Islam and democracy. The
advocates of this approach try to redefine the
Islamic principles in order to prove that Islam
and democracy are in no fundamental contra-
diction. They maintain that Islam, too, is pro-
tector of freedom and equality and defends the
voice of majority in social fields. They reject
the first approach by explaining some rules
on inequality of Muslims and non-Muslims
or men and women through jurisprudence, on
the one hand, and on the other hand they ar-
gue that such rules are mostly in judicial and
some certain fields which do not limit politi-
cal participation by non-Muslims or women.
Moreover, the new interpretation of the Islamic
jurisprudence, according to Iranian experience,
gives abundant room to men and women and
Muslims and non-Muslim to enjoy equal rights.
The non-Muslims, according to the Iranian
constitution, enjoy more socio-political rights
compared to their Muslim fellow-citizens. For        rules and also can be the foundation for legisla-
instance, while the religious minorities in Iran     tion on new issues.
who constitute about 2 percent of the total popu-       There is also a third approach: since there is
lation have one representative for every 30,000      no absolute definition for democracy and re-
citizens, their Muslim counterparts have less        ligion, their consistency or inconsistency de-
than 290 representatives for more than seventy       pends on how we define them. The advocates of
million people. The advocates of said approach       this approach maintain that democracy has no
also believe that freedom is not limited in Islam    unique form and political thinkers and writers
but it is a divine gift bestowed on all human be-    have named different models for democracy.
ings. They try to defend the voice of majority       David Hold, in the second edition of his famous
through interpreting the verses of the Quran on      work named eleven types of democracies while
council and allegiance (Shura and Baia’a) as         the English writer, Richard Garr named three
well as the principle of “Commanding Good            and Antony Giddiness listed three too.
and Prohibiting Evil”. They maintain that the           There is also no unique definition for religion.
voice of majority can set examples for religious     While some approaches accept more space for



46                                                                            Echo | March 2011
                                                                                  Culture




                                                     is in harmony with the rational interpretation
                                                     of Islam in which an Islamic democracy or a
                                                     religious democracy is definable.
                                                         In rational interpretation of Islam, values like
                                                     freedom, equality and justice are recognized as
                                                     natural and ultra-religious values. Hence, reli-
                                                     gion is not an obstacle to free and equal partici-
                                                     pation of people in the process of shaping their
                                                     own destiny. The advocates of this approach
                                                     maintain that democracy is a technology or
                                                     kind of human experience to reduce mistakes
                                                     and correct them or they argue that democracy
                                                     is a tool for realization of national will. Thus
                                                     it could be used by religion as a tool to realize
                                                     national-religious will.
                                                         If the realization of national will is the es-
                                                     sence of democracy, then realization of this na-
                                                     tional will would be closely related to culture
                                                     and traditions of every nation. Naturally, the
                                                     realization of national will in a secular nation
                                                     would be completely different from that in a re-
                                                     ligious nation.
                                                         A stable democracy needs a complementary
                                                     political culture. Thus to have a stable democ-
                                                     racy in a religious society, we need a strong
                                                     interaction between democracy and religion.
                                                     Russell maintained that every democracy need-
                                                     ed interaction with the tradition and culture of
                                                     the related nation. Hence, in religious societies,
reasoning and individual inference with more         we should speak of religious democracy, while
flexibility toward modern issues others give no     liberal democracy is fit for secular societies. In-
space to inference and reasoning and introduce      deed, it is the cultural background that differen-
some form of religious mind with an inflex-         tiates democracies from each other.
ible stand toward modern issues. Clearly each           In fact, when liberal democracy is shaped
of these views could lead to different relation-    by liberal values, then religious democracy is
ship between religion and democracy. Thus, if       framed by religion and its values. These values
consistency or inconsistency between Islam and      are the essential elements defining the differ-
democracy is a serious issue it is as much an is-   ences between these two types of democracies.
sue with regard to different types of democracy         Hence religious democracy, due to its roots
as well.                                            in religious traditions, could be a proper model
   According to this approach democracy is a set    for establishing popular, effective and modern
of institutions and, more importantly, political    government in religious societies.
game rules aimed at defending people against            Yahya Fozi is a faculty member of Imam
totalitarian and dictatorial rules. This approach   Khomeini International University.



Echo | March 2011                                                                                   47
     Culture




48             Echo | March 2011
                                                Culture




                    Nowruz
                    celebration
                    symbolizes
                    splendid
                    civilization
                    of a great
                    nation
                      By Ali Asghar Pahlavan




                    T
                            he people of Iran celebrated their most
                            glorious national festival of Nowruz as
                            new Iranian solar calendar year 1390 ar-
                    rived on March 21. Since early Persian history,
                    this magnificent occasion marking the first day
                    of spring which mostly falls on March 21, and
                    lasting almost two weeks, has been widely cel-
                    ebrated throughout Iran.
                       Nowruz or “new day” celebrations are deep-
                    ly rooted in the ancient Iranian civilization,
                    which is as old as the history of Persia. Today,
                    after the lapse thousands of years, people from
                    all walks of life, rich and poor, young and old,
                    celebrate it as the greatest national holiday. The



Echo | March 2011                                                49
           Culture




occasion symbolizes an ever-         serve their original identity in   tics, poetry and the life of
lasting tradition of a great na-     the face of foreign onslaughts.    the people. It is also widely
tion.                                    The Nowruz festival held       commemorated in many other
    In the course of history, for-   out against many disastrous        countries.
eign powers have invaded our         events and incursions and the          Man stands on the thresh-
homeland, ruled for short or         people of Iran demonstrated        old of the second decade of
long periods of time and even        their firm belief and determi-     21st century, yet he has not
tried to impose their culture,       nation to keep alive their tra-    been able to untangle himself
which was assimilated into the       ditions and always expelled        from the web of a historical
powerful Iranian-Islamic civi-       invaders sooner or later. The      deadline. In coming years, new
lization. As soon as they were       invaders were eventually ex-       global cultural movements
defeated, however, their short-      pelled from Iran making them       will emerge. Sooner or later,
lived effects faded leaving          realize that it is the Iranians    arms race will be replaced by
only disconnected fragments.         who will lead a free and inde-     these movements.
    Nowruz, a symbol of cul-         pendent life in their mother-          In this culture-oriented age,
tural resistance withstanding        land and safeguard their sacred    only those nations enriched
the socio-political effects of       and ancient national culture.      with well-established civiliza-
foreign dominance, has always            The festival marking the       tion, cultural heritage and an-
carried an everlasting message       first day of spring is the most    cient values will survive.
of peace and prosperity for          popular celebration in our so-         We should also remember
Iranians, enabling them to pre-      cial history, literature, poli-    that Iran is not restricted by its



                                                                         The Nowruz festival
                                                                        held out against many
                                                                        disastrous events
                                                                        and incursions and
                                                                        the people of Iran
                                                                        demonstrated their firm
                                                                        belief and determination
                                                                        to keep alive their
                                                                        traditions and always
                                                                        expelled invaders
                                                                        sooner or later.




50                                                                             Echo | March 2011
                                                                                   Culture




borders. Its spirit is bestowed        History of Noruz                 deeply rooted in the rituals and
with spiritual, cultural and na-                                        traditions of the Zoroastrian
tional values inherited from          Nowruz is the traditional         religion. Today the festival of
centuries of hard work. The        Iranian festival of spring which     Noruz is celebrated in Iran,
most outstanding feature of        starts at the exact moment of        Iraq, India, Afghanistan, Tajik-
these values is found in Iran’s    the vernal equinox, commenc-         estan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan,
national history, literature,      ing the start of the spring. It is   Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Ferdowsi’s masterpiece po-         considered as the start of the          The name of Noruz does not
etical composition, the Shahn-     New Year among Iranians.             occur until the second century
ameh, the poems of Hafez and       The name comes from Avestan          AD in any Persian records. We
Sadi, the couplets of Nezami,      meaning “new day/daylight”.          have reasons to believe that
the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayy-        Noruz is celebrated March            the celebration is much older
am, classical Iranian music,       20/21 each year, at the time the     than that date and was surely
the intricate design of the        sun enters Aries.                    celebrated by the people and
azure tiles in historical monu-       Noruz has been celebrated         royalty during the Achaemenid
ments and Nowruz.                  for at least 3,000 years and is      times (555-330 BC). It has of-




Echo | March 2011                                                                                  51
           Culture




ten been suggested that the famous Perse-
polis Complex, or at least the palace of
Apadana and Hundred Columns Hall, were
built for the specific purpose of celebrating
Noruz. However, no mention of the name
of Noruz exists in any Achaemenid inscrip-
tion.
   Our oldest records of Noruz go back to
the Arsacid/Parthian times (247 BC-224
AD). There are specific references to the
celebration of Noruz during the reign of Ar-
sacid Emperor Vologases I (51-78 AD). Un-
fortunately, the lack of any substantial re-
cords about the reign of the Arsacids leaves
us with little to explore about the details of
Noruz during their times.
   After the accession of Ardashir I Pabakan,
the founder of the Sasanian Dynasty (224
AD), consistent data for the celebration of
Noruz were recorded.
   Throughout the Sasanian era (224-650
AD), Noruz was celebrated as the most
prominent ritual during the year. Most royal
traditions of Noruz such as yearly common
audiences, cash gifts, and pardon of prison-
ers, were established during the Sasanian
era and they persisted unchanged until the
modern times.
   Noruz, along with Sadeh that is celebrat-
ed in mid-winter, were the two pre-Islamic
celebrations that survived in the Islamic so-
ciety after 650 AD.
   Other celebrations such Gahanbar and
Mehragan were eventually side-lined or
were only followed by the Zoroastrians who
carried them as far as India. Noruz, howev-         manids and Buyids, Noruz was elevated into an
er, was most honoured even by the early found-      even more important event. The Buyids revived
ers of Islam.                                       the ancient traditions of Sasanian times and re-
   There are records of the Four Great Caliphs      stored many smaller celebrations that had been
presiding over Noruz celebrations, and during       eliminated by the Caliphate. Even the Turkish
the Abbasid era, it was adopted as the main royal   and Mongol invaders of Iran did not attempt to
holiday.                                            abolish Noruz in favor of any other celebration.
   Following the demise of the Caliphate and re-    Thus, Noruz remained as the main celebration
emergence of Persian dynasties such as the Sa-      in the Persian lands by both the officials and the



52                                                                           Echo | March 2011
                                                                                   Culture




                                                           Haft Seen on the table or set next to it, and
                                                           await the exact moment of the arrival of the
                                                           spring. At that time gifts are exchanged.
                                                           Later in the day, on the very first day, the
                                                           first house visits are paid to the most senior
                                                           family members.
                                                              Typically, the younger ones visit the el-
                                                           ders first, and the elders return their visit
                                                           later. The visits naturally have to be rela-
                                                           tively short, otherwise one will not be able
                                                           to visit everybody on their list. Every family
                                                           announces in advance to their relatives and
                                                           friends which days of the holidays are their
                                                           reception days.
                                                              The traditional herald of the Noruz sea-
                                                           son is called Haji Pirooz, or Hadji Firuz. He
                                                           symbolizes the rebirth of the Sumerian god
                                                           of sacrifice, Domuzi, who was killed at the
                                                           end of each year and reborn at the begin-
                                                           ning of the New Year. Wearing black make
                                                           up and a red costume, Haji Pirooz sings and
                                                           dances through the streets with tambourines
                                                           and trumpets spreading good cheer and the
                                                           news of the coming New Year.
                                                              The thirteenth day of the New Year fes-
                                                           tival is called Sizdah Bedar (meaning “thir-
                                                           teen outdoors”). It often falls on or very
                                                           close to April Fool’s Day, as it is celebrated
                                                           in some countries. People go out in the na-
                                                           ture in groups and spend all day outdoors in
                                                           the nature in form of family picnics. It is a
                                                           day of festivity in the nature, where children
                                                           play and music and dancing is abundant. On
                                                           this day, people throw their green grown
                                                           seeds (sabzeh) away in the nature as a sym-
people.                                                    bolic act of making the nature greener, and
   During the Noruz holidays people are expect-      to dispose of the bad luck that the sprouts are said
ed to pay house visits to one another (mostly lim-   to have been collecting from the household.
ited to families, friends and neighbours) in the        The thirteenth day celebrations, Seezdah Be-
form of short house visits and the other side will   dar, stem from the belief of the ancient Persians
also pay you a visit during the holidays before      that the twelve constellations in the Zodiac con-
the 13th day of the spring.                          trolled the months of the year, and each ruled the
   Typically, on the first day of Noruz, fam-        earth for a thousand years. At the end of which,
ily members gather around the table, with the        the sky and the earth collapsed in chaos.



Echo | March 2011                                                                                   53
             News




Iranian drama wins
Berlin's Golden Bear prize
‘
     Nader and Simin: A Sepa-           “This is a great people, a pa-   for best director for “Sleeping
     ration’ tells story of crum-    tient people, a good people.”       Sickness” about European aid
     bling marriage, examines           The international jury led by    workers in Africa caught be-
conflict between strict religious    Italian-American actress Isa-       tween fascination and frustra-
observance and shifting values       bella Rossellini also awarded       tion with their environment and
of educated urban elite.             the Silver Bear prizes for best     a longing for home.
   A gripping Iranian families       actor and best actress to the          Koehler spent part of his
drama, “Nader and Simin: A           entire ensemble of “Nader and       childhood in Zaire, today’s
Separation”, won the Golden          Simin”.                             Democratic Republic of Con-
Bear top prize February 19 at           Babak Karimi, who played a       go, with his aid worker parents.
the 61st Berlin film festival.       judge settling a dispute between       “I’d like to thank my parents
   The picture by Asghar Far-                                            for having given us children
hadi, which also swept the act-                                          such a fear-free and exciting
ing prizes, tells the story of a                                         life,” he said.
crumbling marriage and exam-                                                US independent director
ines the conflict between strict                                         Joshua Marston and his co-writ-
religious observance and the                                             er Andamion Murataj won the
shifting values of the educated                                          best screenplay Silver Bear for
urban elite.                                                             “The Forgiveness of Blood”,
   It had been the hot favorite                                          the story of an Albanian blood
among 16 international con-          two families, said: “I’d like to    feud and its impact on two teen-
tenders to win the coveted           thank the jury...”                  agers caught between ancient
Golden Bear at the first major          Berlinale audiences quickly      practices and modern aspira-
European film festival of the        embraced the picture in what        tions.
year.                                many observers called an un-           Marston’s Colombian drug
   Farhadi had already won a         derwhelming year in the com-        mule drama “Maria Full of
best director prize for his haunt-   petition.                           Grace” picked up a Silver Bear
ing film “About Elly” at the            The Silver Bear runner-up        in Berlin in 2004.
2009 Berlinale.                      Jury Grand Prix went to “The           Farhadi’s film beat out high-
   “I would like to take this        Turin Horse” by Hungarian           profile rivals such as Ralph
opportunity to think of the          veteran Bela Tarr, tracing the      Fiennes’s directorial debut, a
people in my country, the coun-      hardscrabble lives of two peas-     contemporary retelling of the
try where I grew up, where I         ants and their long-suffering       Shakespeare tragedy “Corio-
learned history,” said Farhadi,      steed.                              lanus”, and the financial crisis
who was born in 1972 and has            German film-maker Ulrich         thriller “Margin Call” starring
made five feature films.             Koehler won the Silver Bear         Kevin Spacey and Demi Moore.



54                                                                              Echo | March 2011
                                                                                News




 Hundreds protest
Clinton visit in Tunis
T
        unisians stage third       “Hillary Clinton, you are not     US diplomat outside the for-
        demonstration against      welcome, get out”, “No colo-      eign ministry and chanted an-
        Clinton, accuse her of     nization after the revolution,”   ti-US slogans.
seeking ‘to impose the US          or “No to US tutelage on Is-         Police and army troops were
strategy on Tunisia’.              lamic soil”, as they warned       deployed in the area.
   ‘No colonization after the      against any US intervention          Earlier, Clinton pledged to
revolution’.                       in neighboring revolt-wracked     help Tunisia create jobs and
   Hundreds of Tunisians, in-      Libya.                            undertake reforms to keep the
cluding Islamists, marched            “She came before the up-       momentum behind the upris-
through central Tunis on           coming elections to impose        ing that overthrew Ben Ali
March 20 to protest the visit of   the US strategy on Tunisia.       two months ago.
US Secretary of State Hillary      But dream on. We brought             She said an international
Clinton but no incidents were      down a dictatorship and we        donors conference would help
reported.                          also know how to protect our      to focus minds on Tunisia’s
   It was the third such demon-    country,” said 60-year-old Na-    needs.
stration in three days against     ziha Bahri.                          New government officials
Clinton, who earlier opened           The new caretaker govern-      and other Tunisians under-
talks with interim President       ment has scheduled elections      stand “we need a plan for eco-
Foued Mebazaa, who replaced        for mid-July.                     nomic development, for jobs,”
ousted Zine El Abidine Ben            Meanwhile, another group       Clinton told reporters during a
Ali.                               of 30 to 50 demonstrators         tour of Tunisian Red Crescent
   The demonstrators chanted       burned a picture of the chief     offices.



Echo | March 2011                                                                              55
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