Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

Democratic rule or theocratic rule for the Muslim people

October 26, 2014

Nasir Khan, October 26, 2014

Islam is a religion, a great religion, but it is not a political ideology for multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies of the present times. It contains some golden principles such as equality, fairness and justice that are applicable in politics because such universal principles are recognised as the pillars of democracy and open society. But that does not mean religion, any religion for that matter, can be an alternative to democratic form of government because this inevitably leads to the concentration of power and influence in the hands of some potentates and despots. This has been the case in the the Middle Ages where the Church dominated states and it became a symbol of tyrannical rule and oppressive practices. It is quite so in some Islamic countries where dynastic despots and oligarchs rule by using Islam for their own ends and state oppression.

It’s not difficult to see that different people have different interpretations of Islam. Historically, there has never been any unanimity of views in Islam on a range of issues. During the formative period of the Islamic Caliphate after 632 C.E. differing and mutually exclusive interpretation of Islamic state and Islamic rule had soon started to take shape when the community split along the Sunni-Shia lines. Such differences have multiplied over the course of fourteen centuries. Even within the Sunnis different schools of thought emerged and there is no way they can ever be reconciled. Nor, can the Sunni and Shia concepts of what constitutes Islamic ruler be reconciled because of the differing concepts that underlie Caliphate (Sunni) and Imamate (Shia).

When some people dare to give their opinions, which do not repeat the centuries-old stereotypes they are attacked for their heretical views by the orthodox and rigid literalists of traditions. They assume only they have the ‘true’ version of Islam; therefore, only they are the ones who can rightfully speak on behalf of God and Islam while all the others are groping in the darkness of ignorance and suffering from the malaise of modern Western ideas of democracy and human rights. However, it is essential to explain that democracy is a form of government in which the will of the population of a country is decisive in forming policies that advance the cause of the citizens in social, religious, economic and political matters. In a genuine democracy this will reflects the actual needs of the people but in a bogus democracy the form of democracy is used to further individual or particular interests while paying lip-service to the values of democracy.

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Chomsky: The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracy

August 18, 2013

The MIT professor lays out how the majority of U.S. policies are opposed to what wide swaths of the public want

Chomsky: The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracyNoam Chomsky (Credit: AP/Nader Daoud)
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The following is a transcript of a recent speech delivered Noam Chomsky in Bonn, Germany, at DW Global Media Forum, Bonn, Germany. It was previously published at Alternet.

I’d like to comment on topics that I think should regularly be on the front pages but are not — and in many crucial cases are scarcely mentioned at all or are presented in ways that seem to me deceptive because they’re framed almost reflexively in terms of doctrines of the powerful.

In these comments I’ll focus primarily on the United States for several reasons: One, it’s the most important country in terms of its power and influence. Second, it’s the most advanced – not in its inherent character, but in the sense that because of its power, other societies tend to move in that direction. The third reason is just that I know it better. But I think what I say generalizes much more widely – at least to my knowledge, obviously there are some variations. So I’ll be concerned then with tendencies in American society and what they portend for the world, given American power.

American power is diminishing, as it has been in fact since its peak in 1945, but it’s still incomparable. And it’s dangerous. Obama’s remarkable global terror campaign and the limited, pathetic reaction to it in the West is one shocking example. And it is a campaign of international terrorism – by far the most extreme in the world. Those who harbor any doubts on that should read the report issued by Stanford University and New York University, and actually I’ll return to even more serious examples than international terrorism.

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Resolving the Kashmir Conflict

January 14, 2011

by Dr. Nasir Khan, Foreign Policy Journal, January 13, 2011

Almost the whole world had condemned the Mumbai attacks of November 2008. Such terrorism had also, once again, reminded us how important it is to combat the forces of communalist terror and political violence in the Indian subcontinent. But what is often ignored or suppressed is the fact that there are deep underlying causes of the malaise that erupts in the shape of such violent actions; the unresolved Kashmir issue happens to be the one prime cause that inflames the passions and anger of millions of people.

Kashmir Conflict

However, to repeat the mantra of “war on terror” as the Bush Administration had done for the last eight years while planning and starting major wars of aggression does not bring us one inch closer to solving the problem of violence and terror in our region. On the contrary, such short-sighted propaganda gimmicks were and are meant to camouflage the wars of aggression and lay the ground for further violence and bloodshed. The basic motive is to advance imperial interests and domination. The so-called “war on terror” is no war against terror; on the contrary, it has been the continuation of the American imperial policy for its definite goals in the Middle East and beyond. Obviously any serious effort to combat terror will necessarily take into account the causes of terror, and not merely be content with the visible symptoms.

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China’s Charter 08 for human rights and democracy

October 9, 2010

Council on Foreign Relations, December 10, 2008

Over 2000 Chinese citizens, including government officials and prominent intellectuals, signed this statement calling for political and human rights reforms and an end to one-party rule. The statement was released on December 10, 2008, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was translated by Perry Link and published in the New York Review of Books.

I. FOREWORD

A hundred years have passed since the writing of China’s first constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of the Democracy Wall in Beijing, and the tenth of China’s signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.

By departing from these values, the Chinese government’s approach to “modernization” has proven disastrous. It has stripped people of their rights, destroyed their dignity, and corrupted normal human intercourse. So we ask: Where is China headed in the twenty-first century? Will it continue with “modernization” under authoritarian rule, or will it embrace universal human values, join the mainstream of civilized nations, and build a democratic system? There can be no avoiding these questions.

The shock of the Western impact upon China in the nineteenth century laid bare a decadent authoritarian system and marked the beginning of what is often called “the greatest changes in thousands of years” for China. A “self-strengthening movement” followed, but this aimed simply at appropriating the technology to build gunboats and other Western material objects. China’s humiliating naval defeat at the hands of Japan in 1895 only confirmed the obsolescence of China’s system of government. The first attempts at modern political change came with the ill-fated summer of reforms in 1898, but these were cruelly crushed by ultraconservatives at China’s imperial court. With the revolution of 1911, which inaugurated Asia’s first republic, the authoritarian imperial system that had lasted for centuries was finally supposed to have been laid to rest. But social conflict inside our country and external pressures were to prevent it; China fell into a patchwork of warlord fiefdoms and the new republic became a fleeting dream.

The failure of both “self- strengthening” and political renovation caused many of our forebears to reflect deeply on whether a “cultural illness” was afflicting our country. This mood gave rise, during the May Fourth Movement of the late 1910s, to the championing of “science and democracy.” Yet that effort, too, foundered as warlord chaos persisted and the Japanese invasion [beginning in Manchuria in 1931] brought national crisis.

Victory over Japan in 1945 offered one more chance for China to move toward modern government, but the Communist defeat of the Nationalists in the civil war thrust the nation into the abyss of totalitarianism. The “new China” that emerged in 1949 proclaimed that “the people are sovereign” but in fact set up a system in which “the Party is all-powerful.” The Communist Party of China seized control of all organs of the state and all political, economic, and social resources, and, using these, has produced a long trail of human rights disasters, including, among many others, the Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957), the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), the Cultural Revolution (1966–1969), the June Fourth [Tiananmen Square] Massacre (1989), and the current repression of all unauthorized religions and the suppression of the weiquan rights movement [a movement that aims to defend citizens’ rights promulgated in the Chinese Constitution and to fight for human rights recognized by international conventions that the Chinese government has signed]. During all this, the Chinese people have paid a gargantuan price. Tens of millions have lost their lives, and several generations have seen their freedom, their happiness, and their human dignity cruelly trampled.

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The U.N. Partition Plan and Arab ‘Catastrophe’

April 14, 2010
by Jeremy R. Hammond, Foriegn Policy Journal, April 13, 2010

The following is excerpted from The Rejection of Arab Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Arab-Israeli Crisis.

In 1947, Great Britain, unable to reconcile its conflicting obligations to both Jews and Arabs, requested that the United Nations take up the question of Palestine. In May, the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created by a General Assembly resolution. UNSCOP’s purpose was to investigate the situation in Palestine and “submit such proposals as it may consider appropriate for the solution of the problem of Palestine”.

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Elections Don’t Justify Iraq War

March 18, 2010

By Amitabh Pal, The Progressive,  March 11, 2010

Years after the debate was seemingly settled on the folly of the Iraq War, some in the media are using the recent Iraqi parliamentary elections to excuse the invasion.

The Newsweek cover on the voting crows “Victory at Last.” Ex-Wall Street Journal alum (and, I’m embarrassed to admit, a fellow schoolmate of mine) Tunku Varadarajan asserts at the Daily Beast, “What Iraq has achieved in five years is a political wonder, and those who would deny that are being very, very dishonest.”

And the New York Times resident Middle East expert becomes all gooey on seeing a picture of an Iraqi mother having her son put her vote in the ballot box. “Former President George W. Bush’s gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right,” gushes Thomas Friedman. “Democracy was never going to have a virgin birth in a place like Iraq, which has never known any such thing.”

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Winter in America: Democracy Gone Rogue

March 5, 2010

Thursday 04 March 2010

by: Henry A. Giroux, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

The absolute … spells doom to everyone when it is introduced into the political realm.

– Hannah Arendt [1]

Democracy in the United States is experiencing both a crisis of meaning and a legitimation crisis. As the promise of an aspiring democracy is sacrificed more and more to corporate and military interests, democratic spheres have largely been commercialized and democratic practices have been reduced to market relations, stripped of their worth and subject to the narrow logics of commodification and profit making. Empowerment has little to do with providing people with the knowledge, skills, and power to shape the forces and institutions that bear down on their lives and is now largely defined as under the rubric of being a savvy consumer. When not equated with the free market capitalism, democracy is reduced to the empty rituals of elections largely shaped by corporate money and indifferent to relations of power that make a mockery out of equality, democratic participation and collective deliberation.

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The Terror-Industrial Complex and Aafia Siddiqui

February 9, 2010

By Chris Hedges, TruthDig.com, Feb 8, 2010

AP / Fareed Khan
Mohammad Ahmed, son of Aafia Siddiqui, takes part in a demonstration arranged by Human Rights Network.

The conviction of the Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui in New York last week of trying to kill American military officers and FBI agents illustrates that the greatest danger to our security comes not from al-Qaida but the thousands of shadowy mercenaries, kidnappers, killers and torturers our government employs around the globe.

The bizarre story surrounding Siddiqui, 37, who received an undergraduate degree from MIT and a doctorate in neuroscience from Brandeis University, often defies belief. Siddiqui, who could spend 50 years in prison on seven charges when she is sentenced in May, was by her own account abducted in 2003 from her hometown of Karachi, Pakistan, with her three children—two of whom remain missing—and spirited to a secret U.S. prison where she was allegedly tortured and mistreated for five years. The American government has no comment, either about the alleged clandestine detention or the missing children.

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Democracy in America is a useful fiction

January 26, 2010

Chris Hedges, truthdig.com,  January 24, 2010

Original: AP / Charles Dharapak

Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place.

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Understanding Haiti

January 26, 2010

Red Pepper/UK, Jan 24, 2010

James O’Nions says the tragedy of Haiti doesn’t just lie with the recent earthquake

Like many ‘natural disasters’, the earthquake in Haiti may have had a natural cause but what has made it such a disaster was more political and economic than tectonic. Cheaply constructed buildings, a lack of basic services and infrastructure, and a lack of the resources to deal with the aftermath are all the result of a deep poverty which rich countries bear a huge responsibility for.

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