Sikhs (15th Ludhiana infantry) save Sahibs

In all the talk we hear about how advantageous it was for India to have been a British colony (no one doubts that) we never hear how Britain benefited enormously from having an Indian colony- as it marched to victory in the World Wars on the back of Indian soldiers. There will be no reparations but even a few words of gratitude (and a few paragraphs in British history books) is still better than nothing.


Indian soldier, immortalized by his act of selfless heroism and valor
while fighting for the British armed forces in World War I has come in
for heavy praise from UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

has also floated the proposal that British children must be taught “in
the years to come about the role that the 1.2 million soldiers from the
Indian subcontinent played in World War I”.

The soldier Cameron
was referring to was Manta Singh, who served with the 15th Ludhiana
Sikhs, an infantry regiment of the Indian Army who was seriously injured
during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 – one that saw a
large number of casualties for the Indian Army – over 4000 in just three

During the battle, Manta Singh witnessed an English
comrade Captain Henderson who had suffered. Singh himself was hit by
machine gunfire in his left leg but that didn’t stop him from rescuing
his fellow officer Captain Henderson. Manta pushed him to safety in a
wheelbarrow he found in no-man’s land.

Singh and his wounded
comrades were later shipped to Brighton’s Royal Pavilion which was
turned into a hospital for Indian soldiers. Here, his wounds
became infected with gangrene. He was told his legs would have to be
amputated to save his life, a thought which filled him with despair. He died from blood poisoning a few weeks later.

Remembering the soldier, Cameron said “This year, as we commemorate the
100th anniversary of WW1, it is also perhaps worth saying something
specific about how British Sikhs have served in our armed forces with so
much devotion, bravery and courage over so many years”.

Cameron added “Stories like that of Manta Singh, who fought at The
Battle of Neuve Chapelle, that massive battle on the Western Front in
1915, and when his English colleague was wounded alongside him, he
picked him up, carried him, took him to the dressing station while being
wounded himself, and then sadly, tragically died afterwards. Stories of
heroism, stories of valor – the Sikhs have always had this
extraordinary courage and bravery, and it’s been demonstrated so often
in the British Armed Forces”.

Interestingly Manta Singh and the
injured man he rescued, Captain Henderson, had become firm friends as
well as brothers in arms.

When Manta Singh died, Henderson
ensured that Singh’s son Assa, was taken care of. He encouraged him to
join the Sikh Regiment too. Throughout the Second World War, Assa Singh
and Henderson’s son, Robert served together, in France, Italy and North

To this day, the Singh and Henderson families remain close friends.

Assa and Robert have passed away but their sons Jaimal and Ian are in regular contact.

Singh was born in 1870 near Jalandhar and as soon as he left school he joined the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs.

At the start of WW1, the regiment was sent to reinforce the British
Expeditionary Force fighting in France. By late autumn of 1914, one in
every three soldiers under British command in France was from India.
After long months of trench warfare, in March 1915, Manta Singh’s
regiment prepared to engage in the first major British offensive on the
Western Front, the Battle of Neuve-Chapelle. Half of the Commonwealth fighting force, 20,000 men were Indian Army soldiers.

General John French, commander-in-chief of the BEF in France at this
time, planned to take the village of Neuve-Chapelle, which formed a
German salient (bulge) in the British line.

On March 10, four
divisions, comprising 40,000 men, gathered on a sector of the front
which was only three kilometres wide. The infantry attack was preceded
by heavy but concentrated shelling from 342 guns. In 35 minutes, the
bombardment consumed more shells than the British Army used in the whole
of the Boer War 15 years earlier.

While the British and the
Indian Corps advanced rapidly through the lightly-defended village, the
Garhwal Rifles suffered heavy losses as they attacked a part of the
German line left untouched by the bombardment.

After an initial
success, in a matter of hours, the British became paralyzed by poor
communications and a lack of munitions, and their advance ground to a

It was in this chaotic field of battle that the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs fought.

Records say “Fighting ceased on March 13 with British gains limited to
an area two kilometres deep and three kilometres wide for a loss of
7,000 British and 4,200 Indian soldiers, either killed or wounded. The
Germans suffered similar losses and 1,700 of their soldiers had been
taken prisoner”.




Desert ports (Singapore dreams)

Duqm, Chabahar, Gwadar….all are desert ports of tremendous significance (maybe).

Duqm, Oman may be the American firing post in response to the Chinese held Gwadar.
The advantage for the Americans is that Oman is stable while Baluchistan is not (even if a People’s Liberation Army base comes up in Gwadar).  

India under Modi-raj will probably be friendly with Oman as well as Iran. The proposed access point to Afghanistan and Central Asia will be via the Chabahar port, right next to Gwadar).  

There is also a plan for a deep-sea pipeline between Iran and India. USA may not object to Indo-Iran links since there is a strong lobby which wants normalization between Tehran and Washington.

On Friday, India opened formal talks on a deep-sea gas pipeline with both Iran and Oman. Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khrushid met Omani
Foreign Minister Yousif bin Alawai bin Abdullah and Iranian Foreign
Minister Javad Zarif. The project, which is being discussed for the
first time at this high of a level, is expected to cost around $5
billion. The deep sea pipeline would be an alternative for India to the
proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline
which ran into several
complications after Pakistan failed to meet its obligations in a timely


Afghan foreign ministry officials announced that a memorandum of
understanding for the road transit of goods will be signed among Iran,
India and Afghanistan in May (2014).
“The draft of this MoU has been finalized and it will be signed by
Afghanistan, Iran and India within a month,” Afghan Foreign Ministry
Spokesman Shakib Mostaghni said in his weekly press conference on

Iran’s Chabahar Port, located 72 kilometers (44 miles) West of
Pakistan’s Gwadar port, holds immense strategic and economic
significance for India.

The Indian diplomat said the capital investment initially envisaged
for the construction of a container terminal in Chabahar stands at
$147mln. India’s interest in the Iranian port is not only to get a direct
access to Central Asia but also to facilitate import of minerals from
Afghanistan, Khurshid said in the Afghan city of Kandahar.

High-ranking U.S. defense officials, military and civilian, have been
visiting Oman and particularly Duqm of late.
A few years ago, Duqm was
just a blank spot on the map, facing the sea on a vast and empty
coastline with its back to the desert. Now, $2 billion has been invested
to build miles and miles of quays, dry docks, roads, an airfield and
By the time Duqm evolves into a full-fledged city-state, $60
billion will have been spent, officials told me during a visit I made
there — a visit sponsored by the government of Oman.

Duqm is a completely artificial development that aims to be not a
media, cultural or entertainment center like Doha or Dubai, but a
sterile and artificially engineered logistical supply chain city of the
21st century,
whose basis of existence will be purely geographical and
geopolitical. Duqm has little history behind it; it will be all about
trade and business. If you look at the map, Duqm lies safely outside the
increasingly vulnerable and conflict-prone Persian Gulf, but close
enough to take advantage of the Gulf’s energy logistics trail.
It is
also midway across the Arabian Sea, between the growing middle classes
of India and East Africa.

To spur development, Duqm will have a new legal framework and will
feature 100 percent foreign ownership of local businesses.
companies that invest here will enjoy tax-free status and the ability to
operate without currency restrictions, I was told.

Duqm’s biggest advantage for the Americans is that Oman has been for
decades among the most stable, well governed and least oppressive states
in the Greater Middle East — whereas the problem the Chinese have in
Gwadar is that Pakistan is among the least stable and worst governed
states in the Greater Middle East.
Strategic geography for a port
requires not just an advantageous location vis-a-vis the sea, but
vis-a-vis land, too. And it is road, rail and pipeline connections from
Omani ports outside the Persian Gulf — Salalah and Sohar, as well as
Duqm — to ports inside the Gulf, from Dubai to Kuwait, that potentially
make this place so attractive.

If Duqm succeeds — still a big “if” — it will become a great place
name of the 21st century, just as Aden was in the 19th and Singapore was
in the 20th.
Given continued demographic growth and the theoretical
prospect for economic dynamism in India and East Africa — even as
Europe hovers around zero population growth with stagnant,
over-regulated economies — the Indian Ocean, as I have been writing for
years, could become the geopolitical nerve center of postmodern times.
Duqm constitutes a multibillion-dollar bet that I am right.


Modi-Mao: may a thousand shakhas bloom

Forget the elections, this is the true Modi effect: 2000 shakhas in 3 months!!!

As we have noted before, polarization is not good for the country and never good for the Aam Aadmi.
The zealots who presumably suffer from Islam-envy seem all too ready to commit us to a Taliban asylum.
….. For
the last three months, Ravi Tewari, a 22-year-old engineering student,
has been waking up at 5am, putting on his white shirt and khaki shorts
and rushing to a nearby park for the morning shakha of Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).


His family is surprised. No one in the Tewari
clan has ever been with RSS. So, the family can’t quite figure what is
driving Ravi to adopt this punishing morning drill.


“I believe
in Hindutva,” says Ravi. “The country needs reforms. Who other than
Narendra Modi can make it happen? The youth needs something to look
forward to. They also need to take up more responsibilities to change
things and the shakha is the best place to learn how to do it.”

Ravi speaks with a sense of purpose that only a new convert can have.
He had never dabbled in politics before he joined ABVP, BJP’s student
wing, a few months ago. And there are thousands like him, he says,
neo-converts who have breathed new life into RSS after Modi was named
the BJP’s PM candidate on September 13 last year.

Suddenly, the
organization which was becoming moribund and seen to be out of tune
with the times, is growing. In less than three months, more than 2,000
shakhas have sprouted across the country. By the end of 2013, there were
44,982 shakhas in India, of which 8,417 were in UP alone.

numbers had peaked in 2004, when there were around 51,000 functioning
shakhas. They shrunk during the UPA tenure, hitting a low of 39,283
shakhas in 2010. But as scams broke out, and UPA 2 went from one low to
another, there was again a renewed, interest in shakhas, with a sudden
burst in post-Modi months.



Losing my (muslim) religion (voting for BJP)

A very significant question and an (surprisingly to us) enlightened response from Darul Uloom Deoband.

As per Sunita Aaron there is a problem due to manipulative maulanas causing mass confusion amongst the faithful by not speaking in one voice (surely an impossible task).

Reading the report between the lines and it is clear that the main cause for alarm is the wide-as-Ganga division between Shias and Sunnis. In places like Varanasi, the BJP (and specifically Modi) is expected to significantly benefit from Shia votes against Sunni acts of (petty) discrimination.
The Hindustan Times Correspondent in Lucknow Sunita Aaron says in an
analysis published on Sunday that the maulanas have had their share of
spreading confusion among the Muslims in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere,
and this will inevitably help the BJP in the elections. Have the
religious clerics bargained a quid pro quo?

In 2008, says Aaron,
one of the world’s biggest and influential Islamic seminaries, Darul
Uloom Deoband, which doesn’t entertain politicians, issued a fatwa that
said India is a democratic and secular country, whose electoral politics
can’t be assessed on the basis of Islamic scriptures.

method would bring nothing except disturbance and confusion. However,
one should vote for parties and leaders best suited for both Muslims and
the country,” the fatwa said, in reply to questions ranging from
whether one should vote for a criminal politician to whether a Muslim
loses his faith if he votes for BJP.

Clerics at Lucknow’s Darul
Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, another internationally renowned centre of Islamic
studies which receives politicians of all hues without rallying behind
them, has also resisted voicing partisan opinions about elections.

to the seemingly neutral position of these seminaries, Shahi Imam of
Delhi’s Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari recently urged Muslims to vote
for the Congress, saying it will “strengthen secularism”. He also
expressed support for Mamata Banerjee and Congress’ ally Lalu Prasad.

brother Yahya Bukhari, on the other hand, described Congress as a
“hidden enemy” under whose rule Muslims had to suffer several riots.
Influential Shia cleric Kalbe Jawad declared a vote for the Congress
meant “betraying Islam”.

Many Muslims feel that by endorsing
parties, often invoking religion, mullahs are not only dividing the
community but helping the politicians they intend to fight.

Rizwan Husain, an academic based in Aligarh, after casting his vote
posted on his Facebook account: “As theologians, mullahs should not
become political educators. We urge them not to confuse Muslim masses
with their political fatwas. Auctioning, bartering and selling Muslim
vote for personal gain is not an act of piety.”

The academic’s
remarks that such fatwas end up confusing voters appear apt, as reports
coming out of communally polarised west UP confirm the divergent
statements by Muslim clerics ahead of the polls divided Muslim voters
sharply, rather than uniting them as a bloc that votes tactically.

and I have just returned after casting our votes. It feels as if it is a
referendum vote on ‘Modi sarkar’. The Muslim vote, however, seems
divided because of varying endorsements of candidates by Shia and Sunni
clerics,” said another Facebook post.

Dr Mustafa Kamal Sherwani,
head of the department of law at Shia College in Lucknow, too blames
maulanas for the division of Muslim votes in the first phase of Lok
Sabha election in UP.

He said many of his Hindu friends had told
him BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rise had been helped
by “unwarranted reactions of maulanas”.

Although Muslims have a
strong presence only in 46 of 545 seats in Parliament, they can
influence the outcome of elections in more seats.




By Brown Pundits Archive 2 Comments
Mouth-watering Persian recipes from Sabrina Ghayour.
Following the book reviews for Persiana, we conclude that it is one of the best (primarily because we are fan of no-frills cooking).

Here is our recommendation: try and follow any one of her simple recipes, put out the candles for dinner and bring out the smiles in your significant other. Remember: everyday is Valentine’s day!!!

The walls of Sabrina Ghayour’s Earl’s Court flat are lined with family
photographs and Persian poetry. Ghayour and her mother have lived here
for 36 years and it’s where she began hosting supper clubs two years
ago. “I was worried my diners would think the poems were terrorist
scriptures,” she says. “I fretted too much about what people would think
of me back then.”

When we meet, Ghayour, 38, is preparing a family feast to celebrate
the Persian New Year, an occasion that coincides with her publisher
sending over the first copy of her debut cookbook Persiana.
Filled with 100 recipes she’s refined over the years, it also draws on a
childhood spent in the kitchen: “I was precocious,” she says. “My mum
and grandmother couldn’t cook for toffee – so at 11 years old, I became
the cook.” 

There’s a photo in Persiana of Ghayour, aged six,
stirring a pot with a wooden spoon as long as her arm: “That was the
first time I ever cooked – boil-in-the-bag cod mornay.”

Born in
Tehran, Ghayour moved to London in 1979 at the beginning of the Iranian
revolution. “We were lucky,” she says. “My mother had been studying in
the UK and had this flat.” Her parents separated around the same time,
her father moving to Los Angeles with his new wife, while Ghayour, her
mother and grandmother settled in west London. “My mum had me when she
was 20, so we’ve always been more like sisters, and I was very close to
my grandmother – we shared a room.”

After school she spent 15 years working in events and marketing for restaurateurs, including Ken Hom,
as well as corporate catering in the City of London. Made redundant in
2011, around the time of Thomas Keller’s £250-a-head pop-up version of
The French Laundry in Harrods, Ghayour half-joked on Twitter about doing
her own, The French Launderette,
for £2.50. Within hours – still via Twitter – she had more than 30
bookings. “I was offered the use of a restaurant on a Sunday, when it
was closed, and ingredients – meat, fish, wine. Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social team offered to do my front of house.”

the end Ghayour served 80 people, raising £4,000 for Action Against
Hunger. Since then she’s been hosting up to three supper clubs a week,
as well as taking private cheffing jobs and teaching Persian cookery:
“It’s exhausting, but I am constantly aware of how lucky I am. I was
never a chef, just the dorky events girl that loved food.”




Problem solved: 500 rapists, 499 innocent

No mercy for rapists, constitutional protections be damned. Only the French can take such drastic action and get away with it.

You can say no to DNA testing but that would make you an automatic suspect and the police will remand you to custody where you have no choice but to submit to DNA testing!!!!

So here is the question. Even if we believe the authorities that the DNA of the innocent kids will be eventually destroyed, what happens if in real-time there is some match for some other crime. I am sure the chance to check and verify will prove to be irresistible.
than 500 male students and staff were to give DNA samples in an
unprecedented operation launched on Monday to uncover who raped a
16-year-old girl in the toilets of a French school.

operation, a first for a French school, has raised concerns over rights
violations after prosecutors said anyone refusing to submit a sample
would be considered a potential suspect.

The collection of
samples began as students arrived for morning classes at the
Fenelon-Notre Dame high school, a private Catholic school in the
southwestern Atlantic port city of La Rochelle. It was expected
to take until Wednesday for the samples to be collected from 475
students, 31 teachers and 21 other staff on site at the time of the

The girl was raped in a toilet at the school on September
30. The lights in the toilet had been turned off and the girl has not
been able to identify her attacker.

Authorities said samples that do not match the DNA found on the victim will be destroyed.

“We must have the consent of both the parents and the minor,” said
Isabelle Pagenelle, the prosecutor of La Rochelle, “but those who say no
will become potential suspects who could be taken into custody.”

Prosecutors said they had decided to go ahead with the mass DNA tests after several months of investigation proved fruitless.

But some have condemned the move as a clear violation of civil rights.

“Refusing to give a DNA sample when not in custody is a right,”
prominent defence lawyer Joseph Cohen-Sabban told newspaper Le Figaro. “It’s ludicrous! They want to decide on taking someone into custody
based on that person exercising their rights,” he said. “Then, once in
custody, it’s against the law to refuse to give a DNA sample… This is a
truly unacceptable abuse of process.”





The merry band of brothers (Boko Haram) are spreading the seasonal cheers again (hint: mass murder is always in season). However what is alarming is that instead of focusing their energies on slaughtering children in the north they have taken the fight right into the (Christian majority) south and the capital Abuja.

Message: there will be no mercy till you folks submit to our sword.

blasts on Monday at a bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital
crammed with morning commuters killed 71 people and injured 124 others,
police said.

The attack appeared to be the latest attack by Boko Haram Islamists.

The explosions rocked the Nyanya station roughly five kilometres (three
miles) south of Abuja at 6.45am (0545 GMT) and destroyed some 30
vehicles, mostly large passenger buses, officials and an AFP reporter

The head of search and rescue operations at the Nigeria’s
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Charles Otegbade, said one
of the blasts “emanated from a vehicle” within the station but the
precise nature of the explosion was not immediately clear.

group has yet claimed the apparent attack, but suspicion is likely to
fall on Boko Haram, an insurgent group blamed for killing thousands
across northern and central Nigeria since 2009.

The Islamists
have attacked Nigeria’s capital in the past, most prominently in a 2011
car bombing at the UN headquarters in the city that killed at least 26

The explosions left a hole roughly four feet (1.2
metres) deep and scattered personal items as well as human flesh across
the compound, an AFP reporter and witnesses said.

“I saw bodies
taken away in open trucks,” said witness Yakubu Mohammed. “It is
difficult to count them because the bodies were burnt and in pieces.”




“Some can resist these pressures. Others succumb”

By Brown Pundits Archive 1 Comment
Another week, another tell-all book. Now it is the turn of the infamous Coal allocation (aka coal-gate) scam and it is a veritable nightmare for PM Man Mohan Singh (again). The claims are familiar:  an honorable (but weak) man who has been forced to play host to a den of dishonorable people.

PC Parakh was the chief whistle-blower in this case and here is a brief profile from Wiki:
In 2004, coal secretary P C Parakh informed PM the potential fraud
inherent in the discretionary allocation of the captive coal fields and
objected to it in writing.
Still all the 142 coal blocks were allocated
without auction during the Prime Minister’s tenure in the coal ministry.
The Supreme Court observations on April 30 (2013) are undoubtedly harsh. No
other government in India has been criticized in such words. PC Parakh who is considered the whistleblower for the coalgate said
that he clearly pushed for auctions, but was overruled by the PM.

Our personal opinion is that this is a BJP driven ploy to get free election propaganda (going around the election commission rules). We agree that dirty tricks are considered fair play in love and war, but this relentless targeting of a man who has given all his blood, sweat, and tears to his nation seems quite distasteful and extremely petty.
A new
book accuses Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of being weak and unable to
stamp out corruption on his watch, the second recent attack by an
insider that undermines the Congress party as it seeks re-election
despite trailing in opinion polls.

That impression
was underlined in a book, published on Monday, called “Crusader or
Conspirator? Coalgate and Other Truths” by PC Parakh, who retired as
coal secretary in 2005.

It said Singh’s inability to take on vested interests led to the so-called “Coalgate” scandal, which rocked his premiership.

It was the second book in the last week to portray 81-year-old Singh,
Prime Minister since 2004, as a well-intentioned man of high personal
integrity but one often unable to assert his authority.

Coalgate scandal erupted in 2012 after the public auditor questioned the
government’s awarding of mining concessions without competitive
bidding, which it said unduly benefited chosen private and state
companies and potentially cost the treasury billions of dollars in lost

Parakh said that Singh, though keen to introduce open
bidding, could not tackle resistance from coal ministers in his
administration. Parakh said he himself came under pressure from people
interested in acquiring coal blocks.

“Pressures come in the
form of enticements such as post-retirement assignments, partnership in
business, bribery, blackmail or pure intimidation. Pressures also come
from friends and relations,” Parakh wrote in the book. “Some
can resist these pressures. Others succumb,” he said, adding that at no
time did the Prime Minister’s office make recommendations or exert
pressure in favor of any party.



Burqa ban (the right path?)

Two Op Eds in CS Monitor consider the specific problem of a burqa ban (pro and con) in the USA and in the West. These laws will presumably be following in the foot-steps of the anti-sharia amendments that have been introduced in Oklahoma and elsewhere (ref. Wiki: More than two dozen U.S. states have considered measures intended to restrict judges from consulting sharia law). 

What was (mildly) interesting to us is that the pro-burqa (pro-choice) version is voiced by a (presumably) pale-face, liberal, male while the anti-burqa position is presented by a (presumably) cultural muslim female.
Pro-burqa: Last semester I went through an experience I’d never gone through before
in my teaching career: I taught a student whose face I couldn’t see –
except for her eyes. The reason? She was from Saudi Arabia, and she was wearing a niqab, a veil that covered her face from the bridge of the nose down.

The class was an English as a Second Language speaking course, and
Sara (not her real name) was there under the auspices of Saudi Arabia’s
generous scholarship program for international study. The program arose
out of a 2005 meeting between Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah (now
king) and President George W. Bush to find ways to build understanding
between Saudi Arabia and the United States after 9/11.

number of Saudi students in the US has grown every year since the
scholarship program began, and today some 70,000 Saudis are studying
here. While initially only men took advantage of the program, now more
than 20 percent of Saudi students here are women. The several Saudi
women who came before Sara and ended up in my classroom had adapted to
their American surroundings by wearing a head scarf. Sara in her niqab was a trailblazer.

France, the ban was instituted almost solely on the basis that such
clothing was oppressive to women. Opponents argued that denying women a
right to wear an article of clothing was itself oppressive.

The US
can reject France’s rationale for the law almost out of hand, simply
because it must be acknowledged that at least some women wear these
garments out of personal choice, not family pressure. And America is
about nothing if not personal choice.

Generally lost in France’s
heated national debate was the issue of public security. I believe that
is the only issue that the US can rationally concern itself with. And it
seems to me that city, state, and federal government can adequately
handle security without taking aim exclusively at Muslim dress like the niqab and burqa.

states and the District of Columbia already ban face coverings, either
outright or under certain conditions. But these laws are a motley bunch,
long on words but short on sense, and ill-equipped to provide actual
security impartially in the modern world.

Three specifically
exempt Mardi Gras revelers, one of them also including “minstrel
troupes.” One state tosses into its ban any “unnatural attire.” Only two
give exemptions for religious beliefs. Sara was technically breaking
North Carolina law every time she walked out of her apartment.

These laws need to be revisited.

Anti-burqa: I first saw a veiled woman when I was six, possibly seven.
Fascinated, and – never having seen anything like this – frightened, I
looked up at my father, who explained she was from Arabia. Like us, he
told me, she too was a Muslim.

Thirty-five years later, veiled women no longer catch the eye of pluralistic Muslim families like mine.
Instead, in an extraordinary distortion of social mores, I find they
now symbolize all of us, even assimilated, heterodox Muslim women like

Today, the veil is undeniably the international symbol of Islam. Such
a symbol ironically obscures the faith’s complexity and pluralism into a
single faceless monolith. Every day, Muslim women are veiled,
unveiled, de-veiled, or re-veiled, and their positions in relation to
fabric are often overtly political and frequently shifting. As the veil
has become a political statement in the migrant Muslim Diaspora, it is
frequently mistaken for a symbol of devotion, most often by ritualistic
Muslims themselves.

Because of the niqab, Muslim women generate
attention, rather than deflect it – the exact opposite of the principle
of veiling. They obscure the long-forgotten ideal of Islamic veiling (a
dedication to chaste modesty and dignified purity) that extends well
beyond either clothing or gender, foolishly relegating a rich philosophy
into mere cloth. Islam mandates modesty of the male Muslim as much as
of the Muslim woman, through conduct, not necessarily specific garment –
a principle smothered in today’s revival of rote ritualism.

These Islamist Muslims push the limits of societal tolerance beyond the pale, provoking latent intolerance. The Netherlands
is perhaps the most inflamed example of this today. Their actions, and
not the state’s, ultimately limit the progress and acceptance of all
Muslims, whatever the extent of our external symbols of Islam.

Worse, through their own innate ignorance of Islam, these Islamists contribute to profound fragmentation
of their adopted society, espousing insurrection that threatens the
state from within. This destruction of the host society is anathema to
the believing Muslim and deeply against Islamic ideals, which demand
cohesion and collaboration at the broadest societal level, irrespective
of the nature of that society’s leadership.



Abdullah Abdullah leads in Afghan (early) vote

After 500,000 (10%) votes have been tallied, Abdullah Abdullah (42%) is in the lead, closely followed by Dr Ashraf Ghani (38%). A run-off will take place if no candidate crosses 50% (likely).

Incidentally (and interestingly) AA is Pashtun (father) and Tajik (mother). Is this a hopeful sign (of national integration) or will the Pashtuns still find reasons to reject him (more Pashtuns favor Ghani)?

“Today we announce the partial results of
26 provinces with 10 per cent of votes counted, these include
(provinces) in the north, south, east, west and Kabul,” said Ahmad
Yousuf Nuristani, the IEC chief. “With 500,000 votes from 26
provinces Dr Abdullah is leading with 41.9 per cent; Dr Ashraf Ghani has
37.6 per cent and is in second; and Zalmai Rassoul has 9.8 per cent in
third position.”

the eight provinces for which results have not been announced, two are
in the north (Badakhshan and Baghlan) and two in the east (Nuristan and
Paktika). The others are Daykundi in the centre, southern Ghazni and
Wardak and the western province of Ghor.

Abdullah, who was born to an ethnic Pashtun father and a Tajik mother, is more associated with the northern Tajiks….an ophthalmologist by
training, came second in the 2009 election to current President Hamid
Karzai, in a vote that was internationally denounced as fraudulent.

He was a resistance fighter against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s
and was a close friend and adviser to Ahmad Shah Massoud, a revered
Tajik leader who fought the Taliban during their 1996-2001 rule and was
assassinated two days before the September 11, 2011 attacks on the
United States.

Ghani is a former World Bank economist and
globally renowned intellectual, who has shed some of his wonkish image
during his current campaign and is more favoured by the country’s
majority Pashtuns.

Former physician Zalmai Rassoul, another Pashtun, was seen as Karzai’s favourite — a charge which he denied.

All three pre-election favorites have pledged to protect women’s
rights, reach out for a peace deal with the Taliban and sign a bilateral
security pact with the United States that would allow at least 10,000
troops to stay for the next ten years.