Posted by: Lister | January 3, 2009

Moral Recession

And article by Muqtedar Khan: (via PM)

I have, for years, been a strong advocate of the democracy, primarily inspired by my experience with American freedoms. As a Muslim who speaks his mind and asks critical questions, I am routinely threatened and maligned by those who, unable to cope with my reason and critique, seek to silence me. American democracy gave me the protection and the opportunity to live life as God intended humans to — as thinking, reflecting and expressive beings.

I helped form an organization to promote democracy in the Muslim world and wrote a book making the argument that democracy was essential for good Islamic governance. However, in the past few years, democracy has repeatedly let advocates like me down. Let me give you a few examples.

The examples range from the war in Iraq to torture, the reaction to Israel’s current offensive and this example:

In India, Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, orchestrated a genocide of minorities in 2002. The state machinery worked with thugs to kill over 2,000 people, destroyed thousands of businesses and rendered over a hundred thousand homeless. Modi was condemned worldwide by human rights organizations, but in India, the world’s biggest democracy, he was re-elected. In fact an Indian-American, Sonal Shah, who was closely associated with him and his group, is on President-elect Obama’s transition team.

I hadn’t heard of Narendra Modi:

He hit the headlines in 2002, when he was accused of failing to halt some of the worst religious violence India has ever seen.

Riots erupted after dozens of Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train fire in the town of Godhra. More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in the ensuing violence.

His opponents say he indirectly egged on Hindu mobs who are believed to have led most of the attacks. His supporters say he could have done little under the circumstances to prevent the violence.

But since then, Mr Modi has been seen as the face of militant Hinduism.

[…] When Mr Modi was re-elected state chief minister in December 2002 his biggest gains were in areas of intercommunal violence.

During those elections he campaigned openly on a platform of hardline Hinduism.

The Gujarat Violence took place between Feb/May 2002.

Modi has been denied entry into the USA, on the accusation that he was responsible for violations of religious freedom. (wiki)

India’s supreme court compared him to Nero:

India’s Supreme Court compared Modi to Roman Emperor Nero, remembered in popular legend as playing his lyre while Rome burned. Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government looked elsewhere while innocent people were burning and was probably deliberating how to protect the killers, it said in a 2004 judgement.

The United States revoked a visa for Modi the following year, on the grounds that he was responsible for severe violations of religious freedom. But that has not detered some of India’s leading industrialists from courting and praising Modi.

Wiki’s page on Sonal Shah makes no mention of Modi. But the Times of India asks: Will Obama’s top aide give Modi visa power?

Will economist Sonal Shah, one of US president-elect Barack Obama’s top aides, open the doors of America for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi who has been barred from entering the US by the Bush Administration?

Shah, 40, an economist who co-founded Indicorps, comes from a family believed to be close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and particularly to Modi, having known him since his days as a young pracharak. The Houston-based Shahs developed strong links to the Sangh Parivar around the same time Modi decided to dedicate his life to the Sangh.

The RSS is the “National Volunteers Association”.

Well, that’s a lot of links. My intention when I first started was to link to Uri Avnery, who says (in the context of Israel’s violence and Egyptian/Arab impotence):

But there is another thing that is being imprinted on the minds of these millions: the picture of the miserable, corrupt, passive Arab regimes.

As seen by Arabs, one fact stands out above all others: the wall of shame.

For the million and a half Arabs in Gaza, who are suffering so terribly, the only opening to the world that is not dominated by Israel is the border with Egypt. Only from there can food arrive to sustain life and medicaments to save the injured. This border remains closed at the height of the horror. The Egyptian army has blocked the only way for food and medicines to enter, while surgeons operate on the wounded without anesthetics.

Throughout the Arab world, from end to end, there echoed the words of Hassan Nasrallah: The leaders of Egypt are accomplices to the crime, they are collaborating with the “Zionist enemy” in trying to break the Palestinian people. It can be assumed that he did not mean only Mubarak, but also all the other leaders, from the king of Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian President. Seeing the demonstrations throughout the Arab world and listening to the slogans, one gets the impression that their leaders seem to many Arabs pathetic at best, and miserable collaborators at worst.

This will have historic consequences. A whole generation of Arab leaders, a generation imbued with the ideology of secular Arab nationalism, the successors of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, Hafez al-Assad and Yasser Arafat, may be swept from the stage. In the Arab space, the only viable alternative is the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism.

This war is a writing on the wall: Israel is missing the historic chance of making peace with secular Arab nationalism. Tomorrow, It may be faced with a uniformly fundamentalist Arab world, Hamas multiplied by a thousand.



  1. France 24 reports a denial by Sonah Shah and:

    For its part, the VHPA mirrored Shah’s written statement. “All I will say is Sonal Shah is not associated with the VHPA. She has not been in any office in any capacity with the organisation,” said VHPA spokesman Shyam Tiwari in a phone interview with FRANCE 24. In a statement subsequently emailed to FRANCE 24, he reiterated that “Sonal is not associated with the VHP of America in any capacity whatsoever.”

    But a 2001 VHPA press release appears to undercut Tiwari’s claims.

    The release, issued shortly after the Jan. 2001 Gujarat earthquake, lists VHPA relief efforts – including wiring $50,000 for “immediate rescue and relief efforts” – and lists Sonal Shah as a “National Coordinator” for the relief effort, above Tiwari’s contact information.

    When confronted with this evidence by the press, Tiwari subsequently said, “Sonal was a member of the VHP of America at the time of the earthquake. Her membership has expired.”

  2. Learn more about this smear campaign against Sonal Shah:

  3. Thanks, GP

    Statement By Sonal Shah:

    In 2002, Gujarat suffered one of the most profound tragedies in its long history, when extremist political leaders, including some associated with the VHP, incited riots that resulted in the deaths of thousands. Had I been able to foresee the role of the VHP in India in these heinous events, or anticipate that the VHP of America could possibly stand by silently in the face of its Indian counterpart’s complicity in the events of Gujarat in 2002 — thereby undermining the American group’s cultural and humanitarian efforts with which I was involved — I would not have associated with the VHP of America.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: