Based on Tragically Limited Intelligence

Toronota based desi band, Falak – who think therefore they resist – want you to know that at least one of the 9/11 hijackers was just a spurned lover. In their video for the song, Yadain II – Memories II – the band rocks, ‘how do I live after forgetting you?’ while the hijacker gets ready. The video, with the disclaimer ‘Based on Tragic Events’ is here.

What. the. hell. is. wrong. with. you. people? [via]

An Open Letter to Senator Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama,

I am writing to you from Hyde Park, Chicago, as your constituent and as a long-term supporter. I admit that I have been severely disappointed by your response to the stories peddled across right-wing sites that you attended a ‘Madrasa’ in your youth. Ever since the story broke, I had been waiting for your response and hoping that you will lay bare the fundamental prejudice and hatred underlining that story.

Today, I read the response issued by your campaign office and I quote:

To be clear, Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago. Furthermore, the Indonesian school Obama attended in Jakarta is a public school that is not and never has been a Madrassa.

These malicious, irresponsible charges are precisely the kind of politics the American people have grown tired of, and that Senator Obama is trying to change by focusing on bringing people together to solve our common problems.

I was hoping that the response would not be to proclaim the horror of being insinuated a “Muslim” (Is it really such a terrible shame that one was born a Muslim?). I was hoping that you’d point out that the word “Madrasa” simply means “school”. That every school in the Islamicate world has that word in its title – even the American or British. You could have shown them this school in Marrakesh or this school in Doha . You could have refused to further the Islamophobia taken root in American society by stressing your appreciation of the cultural heritage you acquired in Indonesia. You could have simply said, ‘While I am a Christian, I resent the implications in being branded a terrorist-sympathizer merely by association with Muslims. There is no direct correlation between a Muslim and a terrorist despite the demonizing efforts of certain groups. One cannot pass judgement on billions of people and their faith without recalling the histories of Jews in Europe or Africans in Americas.’

Instead, your campaign sought to play the defensive card. To stress your Christian creditability and to proclaim a vehement distancing from anything “Muslim”. To simply call this story “a malicious and irresponsible charge” at you is wrong. It is “a malicious and irresponsible charge” at the millions of Muslim Americans and billions of Muslims around the world. You may have been the target of this mis-information but the victims are Muslims who must now defend their culture, belief and heritage, while living in America.

This is the state of Islamophobia in America today, where a simple declaration: “He is a Muslim” casts doubts on a Presidential campaign. I hope that you will make a further statement on this issue and lay bare the racist and phobic agendas in news organizations who make peddling such hatred their business.

I wish you continued success in your campaign and I know that I will be working to help you get elected in 2008.


Forget Macau

For years, I have carried a torch for Macau. My inevitable answer to any variant of the question, “Where would you like to visit?” was always Macau. Followed by some attempt to explain where in the world Macau was and why the hell would I want to visit it, over such stalwarts as Cordoba or Milan. Had I ever been there?

No. I have never been there. Besides a book or two and some photos on the internet, I know precious little about Macau. And yet, I have always been drawn to this tiny peninsula near Hong Kong. Here was glorious European colonial history [portugese] unbroken for over 400 years, living next to the Chinese imperial one. Here was a city imagined globally and locally; where East and West hung out for the longest time. For an empire geek such as myself, I just wanted to read gravestones for days on end.

Sadly, my imaginary trip to this variously imagined city has to be cancelled. Macau, or Macao, NYT tells me, is bigger than Vegas now – with 10 gajillion dollars of gambling from 2.2 billion people who live within five hours of flight from it. Or something. As a result, my hermetically sealed colonial time-capsule is now going to get “new luxury hotels, giant casinos and V.I.P. suites to cater to the apparently enormous gambling appetite of the mainland Chinese.”

I am sure those unread gravestones will soon give way to shiney gambling tables. History, in more ways than you’d think. Yes, you can file this post under, Lament, City.

The Silent Ones

Dink, who is survived by his wife, Rakel, and their three children, was charming, soft-spoken and eloquent. He was respected and beloved by many Turks who disagreed with his views but admired his courage in stating them.

He was hated by just as many. [via]

When I wrote about Dink yesterday, I had written of the courage it takes to speak truth and the price one pays for it. I had written about how much of silly blogposts and dissertations we write lack that courage and that truth. I deleted those sentences because they sounded even more vacant and foolish than they seemed. After all, do I even have any truths? Last night, I rememebered what Faiz had said about people like me.


Love Carried Away It’s Criminals In Bonded Feet

Wearing as their necklace, the hanging rope
the singers kept on singing;
Wrapping around the feet, the clanging chains
the dancers kept on reveling;

We were neither in this procession, nor in that queue.
We stood by the roadside, staring,
being envious of them,
and crying, silently.

When we returned, we found the color of the flowers
once red, was yellow through and through.
We checked ourselves to find
instead of a heart, pain through and through.

Sometimes we imagined the iron ring around our neck.
Sometimes the chain danced across our feet.

And then one day, Love, dragged us away,
our neck in a rope and our feet in a chain,
in the same caravan.
As them.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Beirut, 1981.

Hrant Dink

Hrant Dink, editor of Agos, was killed in Istanbul. Dink had been convicted by Turkish government and given a suspended sentence in Oct 2005 for ‘insulting Turkishness’. His ‘crimes’ were an article in Agos and remarks after a conference wherein he reflected on being Armenian and being Turkish. You can read a summary of charges against him here. If you want to know more about the background – the Turkish-Armenian strife – you can read this.

Dink is not the first, nor sadly the last, of those who give their lives for the truths they hold. May he rest in peace and may justice prevail.

Please see elizabeth‘s post and also the translation of Hrant Dink’s last article.

CM PwnD!

I am sure you all noticed that this site has acted flaky lately. At first, I kept thinking that it was due to my host, not doing a proper job of, hell, maintaining ONE damn SQL db. However, on monday, I discovered that CM had been hacked by some Saudi scriptkiddie named TrusT_Me.

You can see the hack here. TrusT_Me seems to target Linux based sites running some exploit or the other. But really, I don’t know how he did it because my DAMN HOST won’t tell me anything. I used to be happy with their service but guess who is about to cancel his account? Oh yeah. Me.

And as to why this honor? Why was CM targeted? Hard to say, we are such gentle souls that I cannot imagine anyone ever getting mad at something I wrote here. The amount of roses and chocolate delivered to my home testifies to the broad love that CM generates in the hearts of men and women. It appears that maybe Trust_Me targets folks he deems are morally suspect and/or corrupt. I do plead guilty to that. But, I am also not going to let this one slide. I declare Freedom Jihad on the Kingdom РLet democrary ring from Riyadh to Jeddah. Look forward to my exposé, my behind the scenes look Рat the highly secretive society of KSA. Admittedly, I last visited at the tender age of 11 but we all know that the Orient is timeless.

All this to say that CM may continue its flakiness over the next few days, as I resurrect it at another host. It seems to be up and down and all around for no apparent reason. So, I doubt my gentle readers will be that inconvenienced.

ps. Obama announced that he is going to start thinking about this whole presidential thing. Nice!

pps. 24 is awesome but why did they kill Kal Penn! WHY do they always got to kill the desi brother? Oh yeah, they kill all brothers on that show. Do you know it is Dick Cheney’s favorite show? He accidently shot 14 LCD tvs during the premier episode.