Free Internet

An earlier post suggested that putting controls on internet in Pakistan is not the best idea. By a long shot.
Here is a post from an amazing blogger who has to deal with that very fact in Saudi Arabia. Those clamouring for more governmental oversight of the internet in Pakistan will do good by heeding such cautionary tales – because a. it kills freedom and b. it won’t work anyways.
I cannot say enough good things about The Religious Policeman.

Kerry On, General

None of that pesky freedom and democracy rhetoric from the Democratic Presidential Nominee. He made it clear to the WaPo yesterday that “sometimes we are dealt a set of cards that don’t allow us do everything we want to do at once”. And the cards dealt to the DPN are such that he has to be all pragmatist and realist while his opponent can float on vague notions of civilization.
So, what does he have to say about Pakistan?:

Kerry said Pakistan is a “critical relationship,” and he said he would not immediately pressure President Pervez Musharraf to loosen the reins of power.
“Is he a strongman to a degree? Did he promise elections that have not occurred and all the rest? Yeah,” Kerry said. “I don’t see that as the first thing that is going to happen in our priority of making America safer. It is a long-term goal. It is a goal that I will keep on the table. But it is not the first thing that has to happen.”
Instead, Kerry said, the first priority is keeping nuclear weapons from radical Islamists in Pakistan, with the secondary objective of crushing al Qaeda through better intelligence sharing with Pakistani security services.
Kerry evinced little concern about the possibility that Islamic parties could sweep elections in Middle Eastern nations if open elections were permitted. He said he would not try to thwart the results if it appeared Islamic parties might win.
“The last time I looked, except for Florida, an election is an election,” Kerry said.

As long as you do right by Americans, carry on. I have to say how insanely SHORT-SIGHTED and STUPID this foreign policy agenda is. US has to promote democracy in Pakistan. And by promoting, I mean: Fair trade, strong business ties, grants for education [administered by UN], cultural ties [no, not the O.C. on cable but massive libraries filled with Dead White Authors and PBS], and above all, a constant drumbeat of consistent, regular elections. Musharraf will co-operate, no doubt. He is most suited to liberalizing Pakistani society and rolling back Zia’s Islamization curse. But, at least KEEP THE PRETENSE OF DEMANDING FAIR ELECTIONS. Even the commonwealth had more balls than that. Dear Kerry, you are not to give free passes to dictators! sheesh.

Roosting Chickens

Unidentified gumen shot and killed Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai today in Karachi. Riots have broken out all over town. They burned a KFC, a research library and countless shops. The general in charge of security is trying to protect the Shi’a neighborhoods. By most accounts, this looks like a payback for the Shi’a mosque bombing a few weeks ago.
Who was Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai? He was, probably, one of the biggest Sunni clerics in the country. The head-mullah of the Jamiat-ul Ulum-il Islamiyyah Banuri Town. Commonly known as Banuri Town, the seminary is the biggest Deobandi seminary in Pakistan. It was founded by Maulana Yusuf Banuri in the early 50s. It trains seminarians and theologians that take Deobandi message to all corners of the world. It also was the fountainhead for many jihadis in the Afghanistan conflict as well as Kashmir supplying money and training for the mujahideen.
In October 2001, Mufti Shamzai declared a fatwa pronouncing compulsory Jihad on all muslims against the U.S. He lend his support to many jihadi organizations, namely Harkat ul Mujhadeen, Jaish-i Muhammad, Harkat al Jihad-ul Islami, and the supra-org Harkat al Ansar. His student, Masood Azhar the founder of Jaish Muhammad, and Omar Sheikh collaborated on the Daniel Pearl murder.
Mufti Shamzai was unabashedly anti-Shi’a, anti-Musharraf, anti-US. Any one of those concerns could be behind his demise. Earlier this year, he responded thusly to Musharraf’s policies: “The anger is there and it is building and it will one day explode into a bloody revolution”. He peddled violence against the world that was not Deobandi. He advocated and used terror but hid behind the fake veneer available to the religious elite in Pakistan. It was inevitable that he would suffer what he prescribed so often.
Yet, in the end, it is the Pakistani people who will suffer the most. His killing is already being used as a call to arms to begin an Islamic Revolution in Pakistan. It is sure to unleash a horrific backlash against the Shi’a population in Karachi and elsewhere. Still, the government remains unable to prosecute these organizations in any sytematic form.
& if you thought that burning the KFC was a statement against globalization. don’t. Shamzai Jamiat-ul Ulum-il Islamiyyah Banuri Town hated KFC because the chicken was not halal.
update: Daily Times has an editorial laying out the Shamzai past. also, as predicted, the first wave of retaliation against the Shi’a has begun
correction: Some research over the weekend proves that Mufti Shamzai did NOT advocate any sectarian violence. I apologize for writing that. However, I do think he bears responsibility for what was peddled in his seminary and by his students.

Buffy the Academic Slayer

We discovered Buffy: The Vampire Slayer late – in the seventh season. And thanks only to sven. Now, I admit, I am hooked. I love the humor, mainly. But, there are others to whom Buffyverse is a vast, uncharted space for interstatial observations.
There is Ken Kuykendall, a Mormon youth leader, who uses Buffy to teach Christ.
There is a literary theory thriller where Buffy stands in for pomo-bashing.
There is philosophy.
And, after all that is said and done: there is The Slayage Conference on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. An academic affair that attracted philosophers, theologians, physicists(?) and literary critics. Some papers that caught my attention:

  • Structural Identity, or Saussure Visits Buffy/Angel’s World: What’s the Difference? – AmiJo Comeford (University of Nevada at Las Vegas)
  • Renegotiating Identity: Viewing the Post 9/11 Buffyverse in a Post 9/11 World. – Jill Gorman (Rollins College)
  • Im/Material Girl: Abjection, Penetration, and the Postmodern Body on BtVS. – Jasmine Hall (Elms College)
  • “Oh Stay! You Are So Beautiful”: Angel the Vampire Faust. – Angela Lin† (Vanderbilt University)
  • Buffy Slays Walt Disney. – Katia McClain (University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • Russian Existentialism and Vampire Slayage: A Shestovian Key to the Power and Popularity of BtVS. – J. M. Richardson and J. D. Rabb (Lakehead University)
  • Warrior Heroes: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Beowulf. – David Fritts (Henderson Community College)
  • “Il y a” the Vampire Slayer: Encountering Levinas Through “Hush”. – Christopher Berry (Purdue University)
  • “Don’t Speak Latin in Front of the Books”: Knowledge, Power, and History in BtVS. – Jennifer Welsh (Duke University)
  • “Actually, No Wheeling Is More My Specialty”: Why Buffy Doesn’t Drive. – Brett Rogers and Walter Scheidel (Stanford University), Distinguished Speaker
  • “Why don’t you just go back where you came from?” Aspects of Post-Colonial Theory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. – Russ Jackson
  • Magic, Classical Physics, and the Conservation of Energy and Matter. – Scott Speakman (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)
  • Self Becoming or Becoming Self? A Comparative Study of Buffy and the Hindu Saint Antal on Identity and Self-Realization. – Tracy Tiemeier (Boston College)
  • “This Is How Many Apocalypses for Us Now?”: The Buffyverse Apocalyptic and Premillenialist Christianity. – Lisa Roy Vox (Emory University)
  • A Vampire Is Being Beaten: De Sade Through the Looking Glass in Buffy and Angel. – Jenny Alexander (University of Sussex, Falmer)
  • The Male Hero in Feminist Society: Comparisons of Buffy’s Spike and the Iroquois’ Hiawatha. – Linda Jencson (Appalachian State University)

So, today, we are gonna go and pick up a copy of the 6th season DVD and I am going to start studying over the long weekend. yeah.