Saturday, 25 December 2010

Some events, thoughts on the year about to end!

It's been long many weeks, perhaps months, since I last blogged here. Not that I lost interest, nor is it because I have little to write neither is it that I wish no more to write. In fact, never more than the last few months have I felt more willing and urge to write, to blog and share thoughts. Unfortunately though, life had many twists, many surprises and many "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns" which necessarily kept me busy to the extent that despite increasing sense of urge I seldom had time to surf these pages, to populate them.

But as the year 2010 draws to an end, I could not but resist the temptation to write here. So I look back at some events/incidents/experiences which will have profound impact in defining me.

I enlist some key events and will seek to write something about each one of them though not necessarily today:
July 16, 2010 finally started working in the field of Law
July 21, 2010 - left Birmingham to settle for now in London
August (can't remember precise date: I knows its a shame) appeared for the first time as advocate (well rather as legal rep)
October 3, 2010 - made chair of the Membership Committee of the MCB
November (can't remember exact date but I think 12) - first TV appearance for MCB
November 16, 2010 - key note address at a conference in the Commons on Prevent
November 30, 2010 - call to the bar by the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn
December 11, 2010 - Key note address at an Islamophobia Conference
December 21, 2010 - First meeting of the membership committee under my chairmanship
Some of the above of course would sound trivial to some of you, but each one of these has important and profound meaning to me for reasons which will become apparent to you all soon. But now, sadly, I am called and must leave the net. S many be a little later, may be tomorrow or next week I will begin to write about each one aforementioned.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Israel's cruelty unleashed on board freedom flotilla will embolden the peace Movement

This morning we woke up to hear that Israeli invaded Freedom Flotilla, a convey of ships carrying aid to Gaza, a besieged nation in Palestine. As many as 19 people are reported to have been killed and dozens other are injured. The convoy was 90 miles away from Gaza and were on international water when in the darkness of early morning the Israeli forces landed on board the ships from helicopter.

Reaction from the International community has been rather slow and insufficient though Turkey called summoned Israeli Ambassador in Ankara and called for an emergency UN meeting, Greece cancelled her joint military exercise with Israel, Germany and France condemned the Israeli act while EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner called on Israel to open all of Gaza's borders to allow necessary and essential aid.

The media, though slow but are now surely covering the event with BBC firing some probing questions on the Israeli Officials. Although notably little representation of the Peace Movements involved are aired other than their press statement.

19 brave men and women may have died, their convey did not reach the Gazan shore and International Community did not show the sense of outrage it ought to have shown. However, the determined and conscientious people on board Freedom Flotilla and all those who supported the preparation and launch of this great initiative can and must take satisfaction that their objective is not fully suppressed. Israel looks visibly shaken by the event and are struggling to answer for their actions. US-British government though remained largely silent, there will be intense pressure on both these governments to do something about the blockade. The people of both these nations are in solidarity with the pain and suffering of the Palestinians and will be even more so after today. Only last week we have seen Michael Mansfield QC, a leading lawyer of our country, writing in the Guardian calling for some tough actions from the UK Government.

Israel has acted in gross violation of International Law, brutally killed 19 noble and brave souls, maintain the death trap on Gaza, stood firm on its commitment to create worlds largest open prison and living recreation of Nazi Concentration Camp and provoked anger in the minds of millions, brutally killed. It has not met the necessary response yet, one it so badly deserves. But, the coverage of its shameless invasion and blood thirsty attitude towards those on board Freedom Flotilla will undermine its strength and standing at home and abroad greatly.

Heinous Israeli act will strengthen the resolve of all those fighting for justice and freedom for the Palestinians and will be embolden to commit to more Freedom Flotilla like actions.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A leader fit for the Time

British Muslim community comprises of diverse ethnic, social, economic and political groups coming from many parts of the world. But at its heart, our community still is one that lags behind in education, health, employment, socio-political engagement. Our leadership in the community still held by largely first or second generation immigrants who are often unable and perhaps unwilling to fully comprehend the challenges of our time. Not surprisingly, often some confident and rather 'unclassic' ambitious individuals take a swipe at our leaders controlling mosques and community organisations.
However, the reality is this: our elders, religious and community leaders have done a great deal. They lived in conditions where took their turn to sleep, worked hard to earn pennies and went out for bathing. Yet, they have set an excellent example of philanthropy. Hundreds of mosques across the country are largely their contributions. It is them who has given a voice to us when we had none, a place to gather when we had no where to go. They have limitations and served their purpose but we must positively assert their rights to be recognised for the goods they have done.
Of course, many Muslims have made success of their lives reaching senior positions in government, private corporations and businesses. In achieving success, they have gained important skills and experiences. Their experience and knowledge can play important role in the advancement of our community. We need to engage these successful people in manners which will build a happy and effective partnership between the traditional grass root community leaders and professionally successful people of our community.
Challenges we face in going about our daily lives are multi-facet. And every day these challenges become more complex in nature. Organisation like the MCB is in place precisely to identify these challenges and to find ways to not just face them but to keep up to date with their changing nature. However, ultimately, the MCB is an organisation of the Muslim Community. The strength of MCB is the strength of its constituent communities. As a result, MCB needs to keep its constituents happy. For this reason, new leadership of MCB needs to be one who has a track record of meaningful involvement within the community while reasonably able to understand and deal with the challenges posed at us by external entities. To lean stronger in one direction would mean loosing the other yet we need to succeed both in facing the challenges before us while also keeping our constituents faithful and confident on us.
The MCB will have its 11th AGM on the 20 June this year. In this AGM we must find a new leader, one who is capable of capturing the mood of the Muslim Community. He must be able to articulate the concerns and aspirations of the Muslim Community to the mainstream society in fighting against anti-Muslim hatred, discrimination in employment, inadequacies in education and the alarming health concerns.
Finally, we are a community bound together by a common faith. We have many traditions but our foundation is one. We have many opinions but our fundamental sources are same. We are a community identified, above all, by our commitment to our faith. It must, in my opinion, be a condition that our leaders ought to have sound knowledge and understanding of our traditions, our sources of inspiration.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Misplaced optimism over US Anger on Israel

Joe Biden, the Vice President of the US, has expressed his displeasure at the latest plan by an Israeli Local Authority to build hundreds of new settlement homes in the Occupied East Jerusalem. In particular he criticises the timing of the declaration hinting at its effect on the eminent resumption of peace initiatives. Yesterday, the US State Department let it known through the press that Mrs Clinton has expressed her displeasure at the plan while talking to the the Prime Minister of Israel. It must be noted however, that Mr Biden appreciated the response of Mr Netanyahu, who criticises the local Jerusalem Municipality which approved the plans.
Given the close relationship between US and Israel and the strong political influence that Israel enjoys in the US, this latest expression of displeasure by the two major figures of US Administration come as surprise to many. Already, some commentators has began to express hope that perhaps time has come when US may be just about willing to harden up over Israel. They hope that US will finally show courage and free herself from pro-Israeli bias to bring genuine pressure on Tel Aviv to play fair.
However, this apparent harshness of US and the glimmer of optimism seems to be misplaced and premature, to say the least. For Israel has expressed no desire to call of the announced plan to build new settlement homes neither has the US demanded that it must stop. Furthermore, the Palestinian side remains divided and deeply engaged in internal power-fighting. The Global community, in particular EU and US is taking advantage of the disunity on the Palestinian sides to further their own ideological and hegemonic interests.
There are, of course, other more pressing issues which would make is almost impossible to reach a settlement. Million of Palestinians remain in refugee camps for three generations or perhaps even more denied of minimum standards of life. No body seems to be concerned of their conditions nor willing to play fair on their rights to return. The Palestinian Authority is weak and frail, totally dependant on the Masters in Washington, Brussels and Riyadh. Israel, for their part, is determined not to recognise Israeli Arabs living in Israel as equal to other citizens let alone allowing any more return to their homeland. The world community, for its part, seems to be too happy to forget the Palestinian refugees for now. That leaves aggrieved Palestinians convinced that only armed struggle can ultimately ensure justice for the oppressed and occupied people of the Holy Land of Palestine.
In the light of the situations on the ground, given the geo-political dynamics of our world and considering the complexity of the issue, a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in harmony, peace and prosperity seems ever more illusional. Indeed, I, like many others, are now convinced that two-state solution is in fact impractical thinking and has always been an unrealistic expectation. Besides, a two-state solution defies established values of humanity, civility and justice. What's more is that two-state solution is an insult on the good people of Israel and Palestine where Jews, Christians and Muslims has lived for centuries in peace and harmony.
If a solution is to be achieved in the Middle East Conflict which we must, we need to redefine our values and re-formulate our strategies. We need to commit ourselves to achieving justice, human dignity and freedom for all people of the divine land. We then need to insist all the players that they accept these values and commit to them. Those who fail to live up to this demand must be confronted in all ways necessary. What this practically means is that we need to recognise the legitimate expectation of people to get back their own land, ensure equality of all citizens, establish system of governance representative of all people. Only then and then alone will we find a solution to a problem which has spanned over almost a century.

Published on The Financial Express on 20 March 2010.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Ban on Burka

UKIP becomes the first political party in the UK to call for a total ban on Burka. They argue that Burka has no place in the British tradition and is not compatible with British values. Furthermore, they also shows the audacity to say Burka has no basis in Islam.
UKIP calling for a total ban on Burka is not surprising at all. This is not the first time that they have expressed their 'Muslim hatred' openly and I am sure that this will not be the last. What does surprise, however, is their confidence in such strategy to win them more votes in modern Britain, in particular the appeal of such policies within the working class British people.
For me personally, the call by UKIP to ban Burka should ring alarms in the mind of all reasonable people of this Island. For this shows how weak our major political parties has been in addressing the hate elements of our society. Larger, mainstream parties has allowed cheap but successful political propaganda to overtake principle of equality, justice, freedom of speech and belief. The failure of the mainstream has made it fashionable in modern Britain to be hateful of others openly. Instead of creating a climate where xenophobes, racist and fascists will feel uncomfortable and shaky in expressing their hateful views, certain of our political class allowed these hatemongers to flourish. Even organizations like BBC has given fascist movements like BNP a kind of legitimacy which earned them credible standing in the views of many.
The big question, of course, is not the failure of our political parties. It seems that the lies, half-truths and more importantly hatred of Muslims are likely to grow. This is because the mindless thugs of the likes of UKIP, BNP and others who are the true affront to our British values of democracy and freedom are ever more confident in their political activism. The ideological bankruptcy of the larger political parties allowed these tiny ugly spots of our society to gain popularity. We therefore need a strategy to deal with it in a manner so that we can engage the wider population of our country. We need to engage in meaningful and intellectually rich debates.
There are organizations like the MCB who are working very hard to ensure Muslim voices are being heard. They are working to challenge the hallow and prejudicial views of these new Nazis. But their work needs to be complemented by others at organizational and individual levels. There needs to be a serious rethinking of our strategies too. Only when we will have a more coherent, better thought set of strategies to engage the masses effectively, we may hope to defeat these xenophobes.