Posts Tagged ‘ Freedom ’

Egypt Unrest

As reported by the BBC

A massive demonstration is due to be held in Cairo as protesters step up their efforts to force President Hosni Mubarak from power. Organisers say they hope one million will come onto the streets in what is expected to be the biggest show yet. A rally is also planned in Alexandria. Egypt’s powerful army has vowed it will not used force against the protesters.

Meanwhile, new Vice President Omar Suleiman says he will hold cross-party talks on constitutional reform. Mr Mubarak reshuffled his cabinet on Monday to try to head off the protests, replacing the widely despised Interior Minister Habib al-Adly.

But correspondents say that the army’s statement has been a major blow for President Mubarak, and appears to have encouraged protesters.

The BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, in Cairo, says that the feeling that change is coming in Egypt is getting stronger. Too much has happened too quickly to go back to the way things were before, he says.

At least 100 people have been killed across the country since protests began a week ago following an internet campaign and partly inspired by the ousting of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia last month.

Egypt has since cut off internet in the country and text messaging services have been disrupted. Google announced late on Monday that it is operating a special service to allow people in Egypt to send Twitter messages by dialing a phone number and leaving a voicemail.

Some protesters defied the curfew and continued to camp out in Tahrir Square through the night, saying they will stay there until Mr Mubarak’s 30-year-long rule ends. 

The protests in Egypt are posing a policy dilemma for President Obama’s administration, which has now despatched an envoy, former US ambassador Frank Wisner, to Cairo

One of them, Tarek Shalabi, told the BBC that groups were camped out in tents or sleeping out in the square, and described the atmosphere as “overwhelming”. “We’re here because we want to make a statement. We’re not going until Mubarak steps down,” he said.

He said a stage had been set up where people could go up and make speeches, read out poetry or sing or chant political slogans. “It has a festive feel to it,” he said. We all have one thing in common. We all hate the current regime,” he said.

Another demonstrator, 45-year-old lawyer Ahmed Helmi, said: “The only thing we will accept from him is that he gets on a plane and leaves”. On Monday, the Egyptian army said it respected the “legitimate rights of the people”.

In its statement, carried on Egyptian media, the military said: “To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people… have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people.”

Our correspondent says the announcement is absolutely critical because it takes away a huge measure of uncertainty from the mind of any potential demonstrator. Whatever happens next, this will change the Middle East, our correspondent adds. In his statement, Mr Suleiman said the president had ordered new government policy to be outlined “in the next few days”.

The review would include “clear and definite policies” to tackle unemployment, poverty, corruption and the cost of living, the statement said.

There would also be new elections in some districts where there was evidence of irregularities in last November’s parliamentary poll.

Meanwhile, the US state department has despatched a special envoy to Cairo, former ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner.

Concerns have also grown about the economy, as global oil prices on Monday topped $100 (£62) a barrel amid fears of the ongoing unrest.

Allama Iqbal: The Great philosopher Poet of Pakistan

By G. Sabir for Iqbal Academy Scandinavia

Nature gives birth to great philosophers and poets when the need arises. Natural calamities, wars, epidemics, storms and earthquakes etc causing human sufferings have always given birth to creative minds. Plato was born in 420 BC when his country had almost been ruined as a result of Peloponnesian war. Iqbal was born in 1877 AD when the inhabitants of India were suffering from miseries and deaths while struggling for the Independence of their country from British rule.

The people of Muslim community of India were the worst hit. They were being crushed ruthlessly. At that time Iqbal’s poetry played miraculous role. It awakened the people from slumbering hopelessness, made them stood on their own feet. They were united and then fought courageously for Independence with the result that they achieved a free homeland for them within a few years time.

Creative thinker

This means that despite being a creative thinker, Iqbal was addressing the situation at hand. The ideas he enunciated, though intrinsically creative in themselves and abiding in appeal beyond a particular time and place, were yet primarily meant to salvage the bleak Muslim situation in India and the world at large. This makes Iqbal, in a sense, oriented towards the Indian Muslim psyche and situation.

This framework makes his periodic forays into discussing and suggesting solutions to the problems of the Muslim world at large and his consuming concern with the ‘Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’ (1930) – a logical extension of his role as a modern Muslim ideologue, attempting to analyze and, see Muslim India’s problems and predicament on a wider canvas and in a total context. After all, Iqbal regarded India, if only because of the Muslim numerical strength, as ‘the greatest Muslim country in the world’, to quote his own words. These tasks, both critical and onerous as they were, he fulfilled squarely.

Effective medium

His emotion-leaden and soul-lifting poetry was the medium Iqbal chose to bring his people a new awareness of the depths of degradation to which they had fallen, to diagnose their ailments, their predicament and the prime cause of their decline and to warn them of the dire consequences if they failed to mend themselves in good time. A more effective medium he could not have possibly chosen.

For one thing, poetry is the most powerful medium for touching the deepest emotions of people and for driving a message into their subconscious. For another, the Indian Muslims had been among the most poetry-oriented people in the wold, with a long tradition of readily taking to heart what was written in verse. Political orations may stir and audience into action, but their impact is bound to be restricted to a particular audience and dissipate with time and events. In contrast, a poetic message seeps through the ethos of a nation, working on its psyche all the while.

Political leaders

Hence Iqbal achieved through his poems what a thousand speeches could not. But for the silence mental preparation that had gone on for long decades, the people would not have responded to the call of political leaders – in this case, especially of Jinnah during the 1937-47 epochal decade. No wonder, the pandals of the League sessions from Lucknow (1937) onwards were plastered with Iqbal’s couplets, calling on Muslims to rise and take their destiny in their own. Iqbal was quoted oft and on to rouse Muslims to a new awareness of their destiny. All this had an electrifying effect on the audience since Iqbal, though generally complex and couched in an appropriate idiom, was, straightforward and yielded clear guidelines.

Besides being a poet of extraordinary merit, Iqbal was a thinker of a high order. Thus, while Syed Ahmed Khan, Maulana Mohammed Ali and Jinnah provided political leadership to Muslims, Iqbal took upon himself the task of setting the intellectual tone for Muslim thought and action. (Previously, this was done by Sir Syed’s, writing and the Aligarh school). In addressing himself to this task, Iqbal brought a revolution in Muslim thinking at various levels, he also made a significant contribution to keeping them stolidly anchored to their pristine ideology and historical legacy.

New consciousness

His role in awakening the Muslims to a new consciousness began in 1899 when he recited a poem at the annual session of the Anjuman-i-Islam, Lahore. His moving ‘Nala-i-Yatim’ was symbolic of the echoing cry of the faceless masses of the Indian Muslims, who had long felt themselves sidelined neglected.

What pained him most was the impact of nationalism on various Muslim countries, eroding the pan-Islamic concept, enfeebling the Muslim world and laying it open to European aggression and exploitation.

To the ailments the Muslim world was afflicted with, Iqbal found the solution in Islam and its message. In order to reach the innermost recesses of their consciousness, he invoked the past glory of Islam, telling Muslims of the accomplishments of their ancestors. In so doing, he tried to fight off the prevalent slough of despondency, raising drooping spirit of Muslims and replacing it with a sense of soaring confidence.

Message of hope

Next, he gave them a message of hope. He told them that they could still redeem themselves if they could only recapture their soul and regain their pristine moral and spiritual values.

He emphasized the imperative need to develop human qualities and the right type of character. He attributed their degeneration to their taking to a life of passivity and resignation for several generations. That debilitating trend could be reversed by opting for initiative and endeavour which, he believed, Islam stood for. To him, an active, struggling non-believer was preferable to a sleeping Muslim.

But if Muslims were to be beckoned to a new destiny, they must first be confirmed as Muslims and they must own up their pristine values. This was all he more necessary in the context of the rise of positivism and skepticism, which posed a serious challenge to the modern Muslim.

Modern Muslim

To Iqbal, the task before the modern Muslim is to re-think the whole system of Islam without completely breaking with the past. And this crucial task he undertook in a series of lectures since compiled as ‘The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’ (1930). In these he argued that Islam represented a philosophy of action, for faith without action was a life bereft of any significance. Seldom does a poet exert such profound influence on the course of history and in changing the destiny of a nation. But Iqbal did because his accomplishments extended far beyond the realm of mere imagination and into the sphere of objective realities, because in the final years of his eventful life he donned the mantle of an ideologue, besides being a national poet. And, to be sure, all of Iqbal’s efforts throughout the whole span of his active life were directed towards the regeneration of Muslims and the resurgence of Islam.

Human rights

The question, ‘do we need Iqbal today?’ The reply is a clear ‘Yes’. It is a need of the time, because the honour of humanity is at stake. The preachers of human rights are abusing humanity. Masses of men are being trampled ruthlessly under the heavy feet of the powerful. There is dearth of love in the world these days. Iqbal is a messenger of love. His message of love is universal… the humanity needs him.. we do need him without any doubt.

Keith Olbermann – Special Comment, Muslim Community Center

“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
-Martin Niemöller

“This is America damn it! And in America when somebody comes for your neighbor, or his Bible, or his Torah, or his Athiest Manifesto, or his Koran, you and I do what our fathers did and our grandmothers did, and our founders did, you and I SPEAK UP!”
– Keith Olbermann

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