Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
It’s not enough for Muslims to be revolted by terror.
Sultan Al Qassemi
Last Updated: November 29. 2008 9:19PM UAE / GMT
"They knock on my door aggressively but I don’t open it, I stay very quiet.” The caller pauses briefly before continuing. “But I am fine.” These were the words of UAE national Rashid al Owais, a 40-year-old marble trader whose business took him to Mumbai last week. Rashid, a Muslim and an Arab, was among the hostages of the co-ordinated terrorist attacks by a cowardly crew of criminal gangsters. He was speaking to Dubai TV on Thursday night from his hotel room in the Oberoi Trident, where he had been holed up since the beginning of the siege. Naturally, the UAE was one of the first countries to condemn this “reprehensible crime”.
The situation of the UAE is unique: its ties with India go back hundreds of years, and it is a country where the peaceful Indian community constitutes a majority of the foreign residents. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, an association of 56 Islamic states, also condemned the terror attacks stating that “these acts of violence contradict all human values and can be justified by nothing”. Nothing is the key word here.
Since the evil attacks of September 11, moderate Muslims dread the news of yet another “holy attack” in which the name of their religion – which means peace – is used as an excuse for bloodthirsty savagery. In fact there is an unannounced air of relief among Muslims whenever perpetrators of violent attacks turn out to be from non-Islamic fundamentalist backgrounds. Such was the case during the Virginia Tech university massacre in April 2007 in which 32 mostly students were killed by a South Korean.
We like to remind others that like Rashid al Owais, Muslims are victims of terror, too. We also are mindful of other notorious non-Islamic groups that perpetuate violence, including Eta in Spain and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. The latter are responsible for up to 60,000 deaths and more than 200 suicide attacks, one of which took the life of Rajiv Gandhi, the then prime minister of India. The perpetrators of last week’s Mumbai attacks could not have chosen a more powerful symbol of humanity than India, with its beautiful mosaic of ethnicities – a mosaic that will undoubtedly continue to shine despite the crimes of an unrepresentative minority who hijack Islam whenever the state of their miserable existence dawns upon them.
India is a proud nation in which the Hindu majority embraces many minorities such as Muslims and Christians, and where they are able to dream and flourish. This is the country of Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, who as a poor boy in the mid 20th century was forced to sell newspapers to pay for his studies, but who grew up to be elected as the 11th president of over a billion people earlier this decade. This is the country, too, of Azim Premji, a young Stanford graduate who had the opportunity to turn a fledgling family business called Western Indian Vegetable Products Limited, into a global software giant now called Wipro, making him until recently it’s richest citizen.
This is the country of Shah Rukh Khan, an orphaned Muslim boy who rocketed into movie stardom and yet respects the religion of his wife and continues to place the Holy Quran next to Hindu gods in his house. This is the country of the Taj Mahal, the most magnificent Islamic structure in the world, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. But most importantly, this is the country of the everyday man and woman, Hindu, Christian and Muslim, who wake up each morning and often embark on a journey that could last several hours, leaving their loved ones behind in order to build better lives for their families. This vision of humanity is at odds with the beliefs of terrorists, brainwashed thugs who also leave their homes and embark on a journey – but in their case to commit murder.
It is not enough for moderate Muslims to be revolted by the attacks in Mumbai as we have been revolted by the attacks on the New York office towers, Amman wedding, London transport system, Madrid trains, Beslan school, Jerusalem pizzeria, Baghdad markets and numerous other places. It is time to take a serious stand against these perpetrators and reclaim our religion. Muslims must be more vocal in their sentiments regarding such criminals, and Islamic states must counter this behaviour proactively. To borrow from an unpopular phrase, the Islamic states must launch a psychological pre-emptive strike against these terrorists and more importantly those who encourage them. Muslim preachers who fail to condemn terror must either be re-educated or discredited completely, and those who excuse terror using certain conflicts as a pretext must be silenced because the poison that they spread today will come back to haunt us all tomorrow.
Some media outlets can also act as a conduit for the terrorists’ propaganda. The stories of reformed radicals such as Sayed Imam, also known as Dr Fadl, must be highlighted to the ignorant minority. Our message must be clear: “These acts of violence contradict all human values and can be justified by nothing.” Nothing.
Sultan Al Qassemi is a Sharjah-based businessman and graduate of the American University of Paris. He is the founder of Barjeel Securities in Dubai.
The other usuals, Mike and Tony also came. Tony brought his wonderful Potato Salad and his other friend Mike brought mashed potatoes. Kasey and Kyle came with two desserts and their Andrew who has gotten so big since we last saw him! He has a bunch of new words and now and he and Kaden played so well and were adorable together. There were only a couple minor arguments and otherwise they were best friends all night, which was wonderful since it made Kaden tired!
We had some fun waiting for Steve to arrive from Al Ain about an hour late (pictures to follow) playing “Where’s Steve?” We ended the night by watching episodes of Saturday Night Live and then Stu and I called it a night and had Kaden in bed by 10:30.
Here are some pictures from the night!
Kaden having a very serious conversation with Matt.
Kyle: "Where's Steve?"
Playing like good boys.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
We had a good time until Kaden face planted in the sand! Haha Poor baby.
We were both pretty bummed that we weren’t at my Mom’s house for food. But we tried to make the most of it. As always, there was no shortage of odd happenings. Yesterday I woke up to the sound of a helicopter in my bathroom. Apparently the fan is dying and it smells like hot electronics and sounds like a freaking Black Hawk screaming through vents. Since TITME, we can’t get a repair man until Saturday, inshallah. Which more than likely actually means Wednesday of three weeks from today. We will see.
Then poor Kaden is cutting his eye teeth (3 of the 4 at once) and is…. Well…. Not the happiest camper that ever did live. So we’re all getting through that as best as we can.
Last night we watched another Episode of Band of Brothers and then tried to go to sleep… with said chopper still lingering. It was tough and I know at least I didn’t get to sleep until well after one and then was reawakened just after seven from the fabulous noise.
Today we’re going shopping for groceries and then heading to Matt’s tonight for food. I will be sure to take some pictures.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family and my true friends. I am also thankful for the opportunity we were given to get ahead for our future. I’m thankful for the perspective and cultural understanding I’ve gained since living here, and especially for my good fortune of being an American and all the wonderful things our country offers its citizens.
Here are pictures from OUR Thanksgiving! :)
With the terror attack in Mumbai last night it makes me wonder if violence and hatred in this region will ever end. Are Muslims and Hindus destined to fight right up until Judgment Day? I woke up and got on my yahoo account to see the breaking news from our neighbor to the East, while watching delayed reports from CNN and Fox News (what would I do without AFN???). They even set the Taj Mahal ablaze. Do none of these terror gentlemen have any respect for preserving history??? Oh wait… no, no they don’t.
Reading that Three Cups of Tea book has gotten me very interested in learning more about the history of relations in India and Pakistan (and Afghanistan). I also want to read Taliban by Ahmed Rashid now to learn more. I don’t know a lot about the history of the Taliban other than the recent history of their climb to power in Pakistan and Afghanistan using madrassas to brainwash the illiterate children of poor, remote villages who knew no better. Islamic extremism is a scary concept, though not as much so as assuming all Muslims are terrorists. I know this region of the world is vastly misunderstood and I think there should be a more conscious effort by our government and private sectors to educate our people about Islam and it’s teachings as the majority of those who practice it see it. Instead, we hear about the extremists and terrorists who are grouped together by the media with regular Muslims. Although, having said that, did you know that until 9/11 Saudi Arabia and (*gasp*) The United Arab Emirates directly funded the Taliban? Fun stuff. Anywho, that’s it from me.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers (and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers). I hope everyone has a great day with family and a wonderful feast! We’re going over to Matt’s tomorrow to eat some turkey, so I will hopefully take some pictures and let you know how that goes!