index.htmlReturn to "Left Shoe News" 

Some Islamic History

 

(From Chapter 4, The Wrath of Allah by Robert E. Burns)

 

aCaliph Umar

bCaliph Ali

cThe Barbary Coast

dTurkey, The Armenians

e Asia Minor

f Cyprus

gThe Sudan

hIdi Amin

iMauritania

jIran, The Bahai

kYasser Arafat

lEgypt, the Copts

mWahhab, Saudi Arabia

nAssad, Hama

oThe Hezbollah, Lebanon

pIndia

qBangladesh

rPakistan

sKashmir

tSalman Rushdie

uMalaysia

vSuharto, The killings in Indonesia

w West Papua

x East Timor

 

 

CALIPH OMAR I

 

Umar ibn al-Khattab was one of Muhammad's fathers-in-law. He was a stern man and tended to over-react. Once when the Prophet was displeased with his wives, Umar offered to cut off the head of his daughter, Hafsah, and lay it at the Prophet's feet.1

At the first report of the Prophet's death, Umar drew his sword and cried out: "Anyone who says that the Messenger of Allah is dead, I will cut off his head!"2

He attained leadership of Islam in 634 CE, two years after Muhammad's death. He conquered Syria in 636 CE. The Muslim army in Syria was hit by an epidemic. No less than 20,000 warriors died. Among them were some of the top generals of Islam.3 He took what is now Iraq in 637 CE, Jordan and Palestine in 638 CE, Iran4 and Egypt in 642 CE.

Fazl Ahmad's book "Omar, The Second Caliph" intended for children in Pakistan, libels the Egyptian Christians by saying that they used to throw a beautiful maiden into the Nile as a human sacrifice. Umar forbade this and had a letter thrown into the river instead: ~ if your flow is controlled by Allah..." The Nile obeyed the Caliph.

Umar's plans for further conquest came to an abrupt end in 644 when he was stabbed to death by a Persian Christian slave.

The purpose of military expansion was, of course, to spread the word of Allah. However, Umar took cognizance of (2:256) in the Koran:

"Let there be no compulsion in religion",5 initially at any rate.

To help convert non-believers6, he enforced the jizya or poll tax on non-Muslims and used the money to benefit those who did believe.

Umar had his own son, Abi Shimhah, flogged to death for fornication and drunkenness.

Umar's most dastardly deed was the destruction of the great library at Alexandria.7 His order to Emir Amron ibn al-Ass is preserved as follows: "As for the books you mentioned, here is my reply. If their content is in accordance with the book of Allah, we may do without them, for in that case the book of Allah more than suffices. If on the other hand, they contain matter not in accordance with the book of Allah, there can be no need to preserve them. Proceed then and destroy them."

The 700,000 scrolls, some of them of works a thousand or more years old, many on mathematics, science and philosophy were distributed to the public baths of Alexandria. Ibn al-Kifti wrote that "it took six months to burn all that mass of material."8

 

REFERENCEs

 

1. "Omar The Second Caliph" Fazi Mimad P 20

2. IbidP77

3. IbidP88-89

4. From Persia, Islam absorbed much secular knowledge e.g. astronomy and algebra. This is often quoted as a plus for Islam.

5. This dictum, oft-quoted to show the tolerance of Islam, does not mean that the unbeliever will go unpunished. e.g. (3:4) "Those who reject Faith... will suffer the severest penalty, and Allah is Exalted in Might, Lord of Retribution."

6. Other disincentives for dhimmi (Jews or Christians in a Muslim state) included: they could not convert Muslims to their religion; they could not marry Muslim women or hold high government office.

7. Gibbon ("The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire") tried to acquit Umar of this terrible crime quoting him as saying: "the religious books of the Jews and Christians, which are acquired by the right of war, should never be committed to the flames." Instead Gibbon blames Archbishop Theophilus who in 415 AD, instigated the murder of Hypatia by a frenzied Christian mob. Mathematicians and pagan philosophers, Hypatia and her father were librarians at the great library. She was very popular in the intellectual circles of Alexandria and was conducting a successful rearguard action against Christian obscurantism.

8. "The Vanished Library" is a scholarly summary of what is known.

 

 

Ali and Husain

Ali was the cousin of the Prophet and, at the age of nine, was one of the first converts to Islam. He married Fatima and so was also son-in-law of the Prophet. When Muhammad died Ali thought that, being his closest male relative, he should be chosen as the first caliph of Islam.

After the murder of Caliph Uthman by rioters, Ali was elected as the fourth caliph. A'isha, a widow of the Prophet, did not consider that Mi was doing enough to avenge the death of Uthman-that indeed he may have had something to do with it. She raised an army of 3000, occupied Basra and killed scores of men who had risen against Uthman. A portion of Ali's army attacked A'isha and on that day, ten thousand Muslims died fighting each other. To cap it all A'isha and Ali were reconciled.

Nor did the governor of Syria, Muawia, accept Ali's authority saying that Mi sympathized with Uthman's murderers. At Siffin the two armies met and this time nearly ninety thousand Muslims were killed. A split developed in Ah's camp and twelve thousand men were disaffected. Eventually Muawia came out and openly claimed the caliphate.

A Muslim puritan sect, the Kharijites, did not believe in the power of a caliph and decided to kill both Ali and Muawia. The latter escaped with a slight wound but Mi was killed.

Mi was succeeded by his elder son, Hasan. He was easily beaten in battle by Muawia who became the sixth caliph and bestowed handsome gifts on Hasan.

Muawia came to act as an absolute monarch and groomed his son Yazid to succeed him. He had his son's major competitor poisoned. Many people who would not pledge allegiance to Yazid were killed.

Husain, Ali's younger son would not recognize Yazid as the new caliph and had to flee to Mecca. The townspeople of Kufa professed tobe ready to support Husain who sent his cousin bin Aqil to the town. Bin Aqil received the warm support of eighteen thousand men and sent for Husain. In the meantime, due to threats from the governor of Kufa, this support evaporated. Bin Aqil was betrayed, had his bead cut off and his body thrown on the road. Husain sent Qais with a message to the people

of Kufa but the latter was hurled to his death from the governor 5 roof.

On hearing the news from Kufa, most of Husain's retinue left him. On the 10th of Muharram, 61 AH Husain had only 32 cavalry and 40 infantry with him on the plain of Karbala, Iraq, while the enemy had four battalions. The small group fought for hours and Husain was the last to be killed. No doubt the fact that he was the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad held the hand of many.

Even today, thirteen centuries later, the question of the succession of imams divides Islam. Ten percent of Muslims, the Shia, still hold that the leader should be descended from Mi. Husain is considered a martyr and Karbala (or what was left of it by Saddam Hussein) a holy city.

 

Return toTop

THE BARBARY COAST

 

Khair Ed-Din

In 1516 the Emir of Algiers, Selim bin Teumin, weary of Spanish interference sought the aid of Khair ed-Din a Turkish sea-rover and one of the Barbarossa brothers. Another brother, Arouj had the emir assassinated. Khair ed-Din was named as viceroy by Selim I, Sultan of Turkey.'

Khair laid siege to the Spanish fortress on the island of Penon and wrested it from Christian hands. Martin Vagas, the Spanish commander was given the choice between death or conversion to Islam. He chose the former, whereupon he was flogged to death, his dead body dragged through the streets, cut into pieces and thrown into the sea.

Khair ed-Din, with the help of 30,000 Christian slaves built a huge causeway linking Algiers with the fort, mounted heavy artillery and built a lighthouse on the island. For three centuries the Muslim pirates were secure in Algiers. Ten percent of the booty went to the Bey of the day.

The captives of the Barbary corsairs were able to ransom themselves if they had the money and many were freed on accepting Islam. The others were sold like cattle at an auction and many died from fever, starvation or the lash. Women, however were taken into harems as concubines of their captors.

One story recorded by a Spanish monk, Haedo, of the sixteenth century concerns a young Arab. He had been captured by the Spanish, had embraced Christianity and been baptized as Geronimo. He was recaptured in 1569 by Barbary pirates and taken to Mgiers. When threats and pleadings failed to make him apostase back to Islam, Geronimo was condemned to death. Bound hand and foot he was thrown into a mould in which a block of concrete was about to be made and the liquid concrete poured in upon him. The block containing his body was built into the Fort of the Twenty Four Hours in Algiers.

In 1853, the fort was demolished by French military engineers and, in the spot named by Haedo, the block containing the skeleton of Geronimo was found. His bones were canonized as those of a martyr,

Saint Geronimo, and were buried in the Cathedral of St. Philippe. Plaster of Paris was run into the concrete mold and a perfect model obtained showing the agonized features of the youth and the cords which bound him. The cast is in the Algerian Museum,

 

 

Piali Pasha

In 1560 a Turkish squadron under Piali Pasha and the corsair Dragut annihilated the Spanish fleet at Tunisia and took the Spanish fort of Djerba. Ml 5000 prisoners were massacred and a huge mound of bones six metres high was formed. The mound was called Skull Fort and was extant for nearly three centuries when Christians regained the territory and buried the victims.2

 

 

Marabout Mssa

A holy man of Morocco, Marabout Aissa was lost in the desert and survived by eating fire, snakes, scorpions and spiny leaves of prickly pears. His followers, the Aissaoua sect eat broken glass, glowing coals, and small live snakes. They push steel skewers through their cheeks, thighs, biceps and breasts to the chant of "Allah, Allah."3

 

 

Mulai Hafid

Fez, Morocco in 1909 was the scene of some barbarity. Bou Hamara el-Roghi the Pretender had spent a year in a small cage, miserable, unkempt, unwashed and half-starved. He was shot by order of Mulai Hafid and his body thrown to the sultan's lions. These, however, refused to touch it.

Twenty four of Hamara's followers had both feet and both hands cut off in an excess of Muslim zeal. The occasion was celebrated as a public holiday. Only one of the victims survived although the 96 stumps were dipped into boiling fat to control the bleeding. This wretch was still shuffling around on his stumps begging for alms in 1925.'

 

REFERENCES

 

1. "In Barbary: Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and the Sahara" E.A.Powell, John Long Ltd, London 1927. P 302

2. ibid P141

3. ibid P233

4. ibid P261

5. ibid P385

 

 

 

 

THE TURKS

 

Sultan Muhammad III

Heir to the Ottoman Empire in 1595, Muhammad had his nineteen brothers put to death to prevent them from usurping his throne. He had seven of his father's pregnant concubines sewn into sacks and thrown into the Marmara. He decided not to kill his nephews but kept them under arrest in the Kafes, 'Cage,' of the Seraglio. Here, fearing that any day they would be strangled they vegetated and learnt little to help them govern the Empire.

 

 

Sultan Ibrahim

Immured in the "Cage" from the age of two, Ibrahim came to the throne on the death of his brother, Murad IV. He soon showed himself to be "the most depraved, selfish, cruel, rapacious and cowardly man that even the Ottoman Empire had produced."1

He had his Grand Vizir executed for murmuring about his excesses. In anger he threw his baby son into a cistern but someone rescued him

One day Ibrahim, after a debauch, felt jaded with his harem, had all 300 or so of them put into sacks and thrown into the Bosphorus. One managed to survive, being picked up by a passing ship bound for France.

After nine years the Turks had had enough and threw him back into the "Cage" where he was strangled some time later.

 

 

Sultan Mahmud II

The Janissaries were an army corps consisting of Christian youths snatched from their families, converted to Islam and rigorouslytrained in the arts of war.

After several centuries, however, they became a power unto themselves. They were responsible for the dethronement or murder of six Sultans. They started 140 fires in the course of 27 years and used the commotion to loot and plunder.

Sultan Mahmud 11(1808-39) determined to crush them. He built a new corps of regular soldiers, the eshkenji, and transferred over janissary officers he could trust. Mahmud provoked the janissaries into rioting. They attacked the palace and burned the archives.

The sacred green standard was unfurled. A fatwa from the Sheikh ul-Islam cursed and eternally dissolved the Janissaries. The new army blocked off every avenue of retreat of the rioters. They were slaughtered by gun-shot, the sword, burning and drowning. Mahmud pursued them down to the last man, over 25,000 it is estimated.

 

 

Abdul Hamid II

In 1894, The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdul Hamid reacted violently against Armenian nationalists living in Eastern Turkey.

In Sasun the Armenians refused to accept a one hundred percent increase in rents. Three thousand rebels were killed, women raped and mutilated and babies bashed against rocks. The pogrom spread: In Trebizond a thousand odd Armenians were killed, in Arabkir 2800, in Urfa 8000, plus 3000 burned alive in a cathedral where they had hoped that they would be safe. In August 1896 bands of Turks patrolled the streets of Constantinople killing over 5000 Armenians.

In all, the total toll from 1894 to 1896 is estimated at 100,000 noncombatants killed, 50,000 dead from starvation, 40,000 forcibly converted to Islam and 100,000 driven into exile. Hamid became known as the Great Assassin.

 

 

Enver Pasha

Enver was the leader of the Young Turks who took power in 1908. He was the chief political and military figure in Turkey and in 1914 he sided with the Central Powers, led by Kaiser Willhelm II. In February 1915 he decided on the elimination of all Armenians within the Ottoman Empire on the grounds that they tended to sympathize with Russia.

The extermination was carried out systematically. The army and bureaucracy were purged of Armenians. Families were split up, the men taken to be shot while the women and children were marched "endlessly... until they died from thirst, hunger, exposure or exhaustion".2 The few who survived were put into camps in deserts or marshes. Huge pits were dug and victims were thrown in to die In Moush, thousands of women and children were herded into wooden huts which served as their funeral pyres. Even Armenian orphans who had been adopted by Turkish parents were handed over to be killed. The Government warned: "If any Muslim protects a Christian, first his house shall be burnt; then the Christian killed before his eyes, then his [the Muslim'sl family and himself".3

A quarter of a million Armenians managed to escape to Russia and two hundred thousand saved themselves by converting to Islam.

However the number of men, women and children massacred is estimated at one and a half million, and Turkish Armenia no longer exists. These crimes went unpunished. "Who remembers the Armenian genocide"? said Hitler to justifY his crimes.

Greeks had lived in Thrace and Asia Minor for thousands of years before the Mongols pushed the Turks west into what is now known as Turkey. Despite the vandalizing of ancient Greek pre-Christian temples and Orthodox churches and massacres from time to time, sizeable Greek communities existed in Turkey until the twentieth century.

In 1913, sixteen thousand Greek inhabitants of Eastern Thrace were atrociously murdered by the Turks. On May 27 1914, the Muslims ordered that all Christians leave the town of Pergamum within two hours. Greeks were massacred in the towns of Erythrea and Phocaia in June 1914.

In July the Turks created "forced labour battalions" wherein four hundred thousand Greeks were exterminated by hunger and maltreatment. In November 1914 many villages in Eastern Thrace were forcibly evacuated. One hundred and twenty thousand fled from their ancestral homes to Greece.

In Spring 1917, the deportation of 23,000 Greek inhabitants of Cydoniae was ordered by the Turks while in April 1918 another 8000 Greek families were expelled from S.W. Asia Minor.

On 3 June 1921, the Turks arrested 1320 prominent Greek inhabitants of Samsus. The next day they killed 701 and buried them in mass graves.

A whole chapter could be written on Smyrna. On 9 September 1922, the Turks went mad and massacred or burnt one hundred and fifty thousand Greek and Armenian men, women and children.

In October 1922, three hundred thousand Greeks were compelled to leave East Thrace where their ancestors had lived for thousands of years.

The Islamization of Turkey had proceeded swimmingly. In half a century, the Christian population had diminished by ninety percent, from four and a half million to about one hundred and fifty thousand.4

Enver Pasha was killed in 1922 fighting the Bolsheviks in Turkestan. It could be claimed that Enver was a secular and not a religious figure and so no blame attaches to Islam. We shall see that most of "Muhammad's helpers" in the twentieth century were heads of state, military leaders or leaders of terrorist organizations. We also hope to show that early exposure to the Qur'an can twist or warp boys' minds so that murder and atrocities are normalized: "The Turks could calmly disembowel their mothers"5

The fact that Turkish secularization was shallow is shown in that it has "resumed the teaching of Islamic religion in the public schools, opened state schools for the training of religious functionaries and taken such measures for the promotion of religion as putting Qur'anic programs on the state radio"6

 

 

 

CYPRUS

 

Fahri Koroturk

Fahri Koroturk was the right-wing Muslim President of Turkey and commander of the armed forces when the decision was made to invade Cyprus.

The number ofTurks on the island was about 115,000 while 503,000 were Greek. At Sam, Saturday 20 July 1974, the Turkish army, navy and air-force attacked Cyprus. Turkey used weapons given to it by the United States and NATO, employing the Qur'anic injunction to accept help from the infidels but to remember that the Jihad is the ultimate aim:

"Let not the believers take for... helpers unbelievers. . . except by way of precaution... but remember the final goal is to Allah" (3:28)

The Cypriot soldiers had practically no weapons: only outdated rifles and a few old tanks. They had no sea nor air cover, no anti-aircraft nor anti-tank weapons. The Turkish bridgehead was firmly established. Even while peace-talks were in progress, thc Turks kept expanding their area taking village after village.

Prior to the invasion the percentage of Turks on the island was 18% but they demanded an area of Northern Cyprus equal to 38% of the whole island and that the region be vacated within 24 hours. On the same day (1~8-74) the second and more terrifying phase of the Turkish invasion began. Greek houses and businesses were handed over to Turkish Cypriots. Greek villages and towns were bombed and napalmed indiscriminately but in cities with mixed populations, targets were selected; for example, Christian churches, hospitals, schools. Indeed any building with a Red Cross painted on it was certain to be bombed. Greek Orthodox churches were taken over and converted into mosques.

The final toll was 4000 men, women and children dead, 1619 missing (most undoubtedly in shallow graves in Northern Cyprus) Forty percent of the island, corresponding to 65% of the arable land, 60% of all its water resources, 70% of its mineral wealth, 70% of its industries and 80% of tourist installations came under Muslim rule. The Turks brought in new settlers while 220,000 Greeks had to flee to the south. In, all, one third of the Greek population of Cyprus became refugees in their own country.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

1. P188"TheHarem"

2. P 203 Walker "Armenia"

3. ibid

4. "The Turkish Crime of Our Century" Asia Minor Refugees Co-ordination Committee.

5. T. E. Lawrence "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom".

  1. P186 Paul N Siegel "The Meek and the Militant".

 

Return toTop

 

 

 

THE SUDAN

 

Sayyid Muhammad Alimad Ibn Abdullah

Muhammad Ahmad was born circa 1844 at Dongola in the Sudan. His father was a deeply religious African Arab and the lad could recite the whole of the Qur'an by the time he was nine years old. As a young man he lived like a hermit in a cave on the bank of the Nile near Abba. He devoted himself to prayer sometimes for weeks at a time.

He travelled throughout the Sudan with his staff and begging bowl and became well-known as a dervish who spoke with tongues. He preached fervently in the mosques and a holy radiance surrounded his head. People began to say that he must be the "Kutb", the "axis of sanctity". Excited people began to kiss the hem of his dress.

He spoke to the people about their misery and about salvation in this life too. He stirred them against the Pasha in his palace at Khartoum, the Viceroy in Cairo and the Padishah in Istanbul.

A year or so older than Ahmad, was Abdullahi, an Arab of the Taaisha tribe. Before his father died he urged his son to go on a pilgrimage to visit Ahmad, whom he revealed as the long-expected Mahdi. The Mahdi, "the guided one" is alluded to in several hadiths. He is to appear before Isa (Jesus) descends upon the holy rock of Jerusalem and before the Day of Judgment. The Mahdi will achieve the World Empire of Islam by stamping out the unbelievers wherever they remain on earth.

In 1880 the two men struck up a relationship although Abdullahi tended to be grim and taciturn while Ahmad was ever-smiling. Abdullahi kept the secret that his father had told him. He was given a huge black flag covered with Holy texts to precede the Dervish and his group of followers.

Some time later, in 1881, Abdullahi took ill and was expected to die. Miraculously however after several days he rose from his bed and announced: "The Expected Mahdi has appeared at last! He has healed me!" It was true, Muhammad Ahmad said that he had descended from the Prophet, indeed on both sides of his family.

Soon the Mahdi had a vision. He saw Muhammad the Prophet in a green mantle which shone. He stretched out his hand and it penetrated into the Dervish's body until it touched his heart . At that instant it purified and a light shone from it. The Prophet descended from his throne and girded his own sword on Ahmad and said: "The faith of Muhammad is with the sword. If anyone believe not in him, he believes neither in Allah nor in me. Behold Allah has given to thee the signs of the Mahdiech; they are the birth-mark on thy cheek and the separated teeth".

That Friday a crowd had assembled to hear the Dervish preach. It was there that Ahmad announced: "I am the expected Mahdi. He who believes not in me, believes neither in Allah nor His Prophet".

The Pasha, wanting to know more about the Mahdi, tried to persuade him to come to Khartoum. When the Mahdi refused, the Pasha sent two companies of soldiers to bring him in. The Mahdi was expecting them: in a vision the Prophet had promised him a great victory. And so it was. The remaining Turks lined up to take the Mahdi's hand and pronounce the new creed. "There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is his prophet. And Muhammad the Mahdi is his successor." While the Mahdi was praying, the tom-toms sent out the message of the Jihad, the Holy War. The Mahdi decided on a Hijrah (1881), that is, to emigrate, with his, as yet, small band of Ansars (helpers). His destination was Mount Masa, previously known as Jebel Gadir.

A force sent out to annihilate the Holy Army, was itself annihilated. The local negros flocked to join the Mahdi, sure that he possessed the Tebrid talisman which turned the Turkish bullets to water. The Mahdi sent letters to every town and village of the Sudan and far beyond. Muslims and part-heathens came from afar to share the Jihad and the spoils. (Later the booty was to go mainly to the upper echelons) A new force of six thousand was sent against the Mahdi. Hardly a single man escaped to tell the tale and many new converts to Mahdism were made. Again a huge amount of booty was taken in the form of arms, provisions and the soldiers' wives. The Mahdi continued to increase his harem.

Half the Sudan was now in rebellion. The Mahdi besieged El Obeid and eventually the defending Turks went, dressed in new Dervish shirts to surrender to him. The Pasha denied having any gold, but when his treasure was found, he died by the axe.

The puritanism of the Mahdi was accepted by his followers: he forbade songs and dances, fine clothes, gold and silver ornaments. The veil was imposed on the tribeswomen even though they might otherwise be quite naked. A savage justice punished murderers and adulterers by the axe. Adulteresses were stoned to death. For a small theft the criminal lost a hand and a foot. Eighty lashes were dealt out for drinking beer and a hundred for smoking.

In November 1883 General Hicks led an army of almost ten thousand to attack El Obeid. There were seventy thousand frenzied Dervishes waiting for them. For two miles lay heaps of bodies many headless or eviscerated. Many Ansars had fallen or were wounded. They were the ones-it was declared-who did not yet know the Ratib, the new Mahdi Prayer Book.

The Mahdi was now ready to march on Khartoum, the capital of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Along the way sheikhs, ambassadors and high officials came to give their allegiance. General Gordon was at Khartoum and the British were sending a relief army of tommies to garrison the town. The Mahdi had high hopes of converting Gordon to Islam and sent him a Dervish uniform.

On the 25th of January, 1885 Gordon had ten thousand men at Khartoum but still no redcoats. He did not doubt that many of his native soldiers were secret sympathizers of the Mahdi. Before dawn Abdullahi attacked but the shooting only lasted a few minutes. However for hours, cries and cracks of whips could be heard coming from the town. The Mahdi wanted Gordon to be brought to him alive but when Gordon's head was delivered to him he displayed it, on a spear, outside his tent and stared at it for hours.

Two days later the British steamers came up the Nile to Khartoum. There was fire from both banks of the river and so they had to fight their way back to safety.

The whole Muslim world was filled with expectation, especially in those countries where the British and Turks ruled. The Mahdi sent letters to influential people such as Victoria, Queen of England, the Viceroy of Egypt, the Negus of Abyssinia urging them to convert to Mahdism or suffer Gordon's fate. The Mahdi preached that he would live another forty years and, in that time, Islamize the whole world and set the stage for the Hour of Judgment.

Unfortunately most of the skilled workers had been killed. He had been able to print his prayer books and mint some coins but he could not make gunpowder or fix the steam-engines needed to travel down the Nile. He took over an area of almost a quarter of the continent but then his campaign ran out of steam. The lean Dervish of Abba became swollen in size despite his earlier teaching of moderation in eating: his 5 wives and hundred concubines tended to pamper him with food. On the twenty second of June 1885, at the age of forty two, the Mahdi died whether from fatty degeneration of the heart or typhus. Before he died he appointed Kalipha Abdullahi as his successor.

It was made known that the Mahdi had voluntarily exchanged this life for Heaven. It was forbidden, on pain of severe punishment, to say that he had merely died. When the world was conquered for Islam then the Mahdi would come back again.

For fourteen years the Kalipha kept control of the Sudan. He was becoming increasingly dictatorial. He was described by Bermann' as "a monster, cold, suspicious and cruel by inclination" and is credited with "the death of four million human beings."

In the end lack of progress on his part was his undoing. While General Kitchener was building a railway over the desert, the Kalipha's army was still supported with shields, spears and swords even though Abdullahi had captured large quantities of excellent rifles, cannon and machine guns.

On September 2nd 1898, Kitchener slaughtered eleven thousand dervishes for a loss of barely fifty men. The Kalipha escaped and retreated to Jebel Gadir where he incited the population by religious propaganda and succeeded in raising another army.

He marched against Khartoum but near Abba was trapped by General Wingate and killed on 24th November 1899.

The Dome over the Mahdi's grave which the Kalipha had had built at Khartoum was reduced to rubble by Kitchener so that it should no longer be a holy place. The Mahdi's body was destroyed to show that he had been a mere human.

 

REFERENCES

 

1. "The Mahdi of Allah" R.A. Berman, Macmillan N Y 1932

 

 

 

 

SUDAN (Continued)

 

In 1956, Sudan achieved independence and had the requisites for a democratic state-"a strong and independent judiciary, free trade unions, a free press and liberal universities."1

Unfortunately society was rent religiously and ethnically. The northerners controlled the Sudanese Armed Forces and were mainly Arab Muslims. The ummah was divided into fundamentalists and modernists. The southerners were mainly African Christians and animists. Militarily they came to be represented by forces including the SPLA, the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army.

Bit by bit the Islamic fundamentalists, the Ikhwan, were able to consolidate their power in Khartoum. In September 1983 a version of Shariah, the "September Law" was introduced. Many floggings, amputations and stonings were carried out. Incorporated in the law was ijtihad or "free interpretation". If the qazi was unable to find a relevant law to convict a defendant he could search the Qur'an and Hadith at his discretion. For example Mahmoud Taha, the 76 year old leader of the Republican Brothers was hanged in January 1985 for apostasy, although it was not a crime at that time.

On 30th June 1989, the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) of Lt. Gen. Omer al Bashir seized power. What little was left of a secular state was converted into a military theocracy. For example businessmen who did not close for prayers on Fridays were flogged. Women could not travel without a mahram (husband, father, brother or son); several middle-aged women academics without mahram were prevented from attending international conferences. A number of women received the lash for selling peanuts and tea in the streets. The threat to women's status from the fundamentalist regime includes dismissals of women from the public service and restriction of their access to higher education particularly to the legal profession.

The RCC created the "Islamic Security" which operates from the confiscated clubs of trade unions and professional associations. They pick up opponents in the middle of the night and subject them to beatings and torture. They censor the newspapers; most secular ones have been banned outright. Hundreds of political prisoners held without trial include dissident lawyers, striking doctors, journalists, trade unionists, academics, writers and teachers.

A number of southerners living in the north had changed their names to Arabic ones to improve their business prospects. They discovered that they had done a dangerous thing; now they were expected to be practising Muslims and could not use their original names without being subject to the death penalty for apostasy. Similarly at risk were non-Muslim families who adopted Islam or an Islamic name so that they could qualify for relief supplies during a famine. Also trapped were non-Muslim men who had "embraced" Islam so that they could marry Muslim women or to be able to obtain easy divorces.

The drought of 1983-85 killed approximately a quarter of a million people but the famine of 1986-89 although as severe was due to the civil war. Firstly the Islamic government exported almost the entire grain reserve of Sudan to pay for arms. Secondly what food was available was sold at high prices beyond the reach of the poor. Thirdly the armies destroyed food convoys going to the areas of their enemies ; the Christians were not blameless in this respect either.

Prospects for the future do not appear any brighter. The SPLA demands the abolition of Islamic Law as a pre-requisite for peace. The Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) is just as adamant that the Rights of Allah should be maintained and extended.

 

REFERENCES

 

1. P1 "Denying the Honour of Living-Sudan-A Human Rights Disaster." The Africa Watch Committee 1991 London, NY, Washington.

76 The Wrath of Allah

 

 

 

Idi Amin

 

Al-Hajji Field Marshal Dr Idi Amin VC, DSO, MC born in 1925 was dictator of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. He is now in exile in Saudi Arabia. He had been a sergeant in the British colonial army but was self-promoted to Field Marshal. His military decorations and doctorate were also self-donated.

In 1970 he made the pilgrimage (Haj) to Mecca so the pilgrim title is correct. Amin was considered as a holy man by Uganda's numerous Muslims. He often took part in Muslim religious ceremonies. Every evening he had verses from the Qur'an read over Uganda TV

He had also been to the Omar mosque in Jerusalem. While in that city he had been treated for syphilis. He was in the tertiary manic stage of that disease but he was not the fool that many people thought he was.1

He had had a love-hate relationship with Israel but eventually the balance fell on the Palestinian side. In 1972 he sent a cable to the United Nations congratulating the Black September terrorists for the murder of Israeli sportsmen at the Olympic games in Munich. In the same cable he praised Hitler for destroying over six million Jews.

On the 3rd July 1976 the hijacked Flight 139 was diverted to Entebbe airport just out of Kampala. Amin was sympathetic with the hijackers and he permitted additional terrorists to reinforce them. His own 8O~100 troops at the scene had their guns trained on the 103 Jewish passengers in support of the ten terrorists who threatened to execute the Jews from dawn, Sunday 4th of July.

After the freeing of the hostages by Israeli commandos, Idi was livid. He had air traffic controllers and civil aviation authorities executed even those who had been off duty at the time. Apart from the army, his main organ of suppression based at Nakasero was the innocuously-named State Research Bureau. Amin was paranoiac: he did have some enemies who wanted to remove him but most of his enemies were imaginary. He used cunning as well as ruthlessness. Rather than take on the power of the Roman Catholic Church, he had Archbishop Luwum killed in a "traffic accident."

At Nakasero, some of the tortures were mind-boggling. People had nails hammered into their skulls, limbs were broken, flames played onto the skin, broken soft drink bottles rammed into elbows and knees, sisal ropes used for slow strangulation, whips, knives. A Palestinian, Faijal was particularly notorious for his cruelty.

The Nubians and Karwa Muslim soldiers fearing that the spirits of the innocent people would revenge themselves, often indulged in ritual cannibalism. Many of the bodies later found had a heart, a liver, eyes, ears, breasts or genitals missing.

There was a massive brain-drain as educated Ugandans fled the country. Nor was the economy helped in 1972 when Amin expelled the Asian community. Cash crops became uneconomical. Essential commodities such as salt, soap, cooking oil became hard to obtain.

In October 1978 Amin invaded Tanzania. At first his forces did well, looting, raping and killing as they went. By January 1979 however the Tanzanian troops, backed by two thousand anti-Amin Ugandans, crossed the Ugandan border and all resistance crumbled.

After Idi's exit, the count of dead and missing people was put at 280,000. Perhaps one day a psychiatrist could tell us to what extent his medical condition, his Islam or mental abnormality contributed to his wanton sadism and death-lust.

 

REFERENCES

 

1. "Escape from Idi Amin's Slaughterhouse" W. Cato, Quartet Books, London 1989.

2. "90 Minutes at Entebbe" W. Stevenson, Corgi Books 1976.

 

 

 

 

MAURITANIA

 

The Islamic Republic Of Mauritania is situated in the north-west of Africa and has an area of a million square kilometers two-thirds of which is desert. The population of two million consists of 80% Arab-Berbers while the remainder, in the south, are black Africans. Since independence from France in 1960, Mauritania has been ruled from time to time by military dictatorships.

Tens of thousands of black Africans have been expelled into neighboring countries and their property confiscated. Hundreds of negros or members of political parties and trade unions have just "disappeared". Sometimes their bodies are found showing signs of torture such as scorched genitals, cigarette burns, open weals on the soles of their feet or with their heads crushed by stones. Methods of persuasion are innovative: prisoners are urinated upon or placed overnight in ditches of human excrement; needles, hot coals, naked flames and electric shocks convulse their bodies; they are forced to hold heavy bricks above their heads until they eventually collapse. Some prisoners are incarcerated with no medical care, insufficient sleep, food or water, permanently chained in small cells with no toilet facilities, kept in unlit or underground dungeons, left in rooms with corpses or buried up to their necks in sand and left to die.'

The influence of religion is strong in Mauritania. Shariah has been incorporated into its laws as the following excerpts show:

Gazetted 29 February, 1984. Islamic Republic Of Mauritania.

 

Article 306

 

"Every Muslim guilty of the crime of apostasy, whether by word or action, will be invited to repent over a period of three days. If he does not repent within this time limit, he is to be condemned to death as an apostate and his property will be confiscated by the Treasury

Every Muslim who refuses to pray will be invited to fulfill the obligation of prayer in the prescribed time limit. .. If he persists in his refusal he will be punished by the death penalty."

 

Article 307

 

"Every adult Muslim of either sex, guilty of the crime of adultery will be publicly punished, if he is single with a penalty of one hundred strokes of the whip and a year's imprisonment. Otherwise the penalty of death by stoning, "Tajum", will be pronounced in regard to a married or divorced couple. In regard to a pregnant woman the penalty of stoning or whipping will be deferred until after the delivery."

 

Article 308

 

"Every adult Muslim who commits a shameless act contrary to nature with an individual of his or her own sex will be punished with the penalty of death by public stoning."

 

Article 341

 

"Every adult Muslim who voluntarily and consciously consumes alcohol will be punished by forty strokes of the lash."

 

Article 351

"Anyone who fraudulently removes something which does not belong to him/her is guilty of theft and will be condemned to the amputation of his right hand... If the guilty party commits a second offence his left foot will be amputated... If he repeats yet again his left hand will be amputated... If he commits a theft for the fourth time his right foot will be cut off."2

 

REFERENCES

 

1. Amnesty International Reports 1988-1993.

2. '~De L'Islam en general Et Du Monde Moderne en particulier." Jean-Claude Barreau, Le Pre Aux Clercs, 1991. Translated by the author.

 

 

 

 

IRAN

 

 

Nasiri-Din-Shali

Nasiri-Din-Shah was the ruler of Iran in 1850 when the Bab (= gate), who had proclaimed himself the Hidden Imam, was executed after a trial by an Islamic court. An upset follower of the Bab fired a shot at the Shah and the horror was really on.

Babis had their eyes gouged out, were forced to eat their amputated ears, teeth were torn out and skulls crushed by hammer blows. Women had deep holes dug into their breasts and burning wicks were fuelled by the boiling fat. Soles of people's feet were skinned and then placed into boiling oil. Feet were shoed like the hoof of a horse and the victim made to run.

Lucky were the Babis who died quickly: being tied in front of a mortar, strangled, suffocated, stoned, cut down with a sword or blows of hammers and knives.1

In 1863, one of the Bab's disciples who had survived the pogroms, Baha 'u' llah, announced that he was the Messenger. For thirty years the Bahai grew, taking a very low profile. The essence of Bahai is theosophical-all prophets and divinities are to be revered. This was heretical to Islam-for one thing Muhammad was the final Prophet, not to be followed by any more Messengers of Allah. Also to profess polytheism (including Hinduism and Buddhism with Aliah) merits a death sentence.

Bahais were not to fight back, however: '~It is better to be killed than to kill" (Baha 'u'llah)

 

Reza Shah

In 1926, Ali-i-Pishnamez. was responsible for the deaths of thirteen adult Bahais and a baby of fifteen months. They were bludgeoned, stabbed and hacked to death. No one was punished by Reza Shah who, in spite of his modernism, did not want trouble with the clergy. Despite some laws restricting Bahai employment, the Bahais became known as excellent workers and administrators. Their schools were so good that Reza Shah sent his children to one.

However in 1933 the ulama prevailed: "the publication of Bahai literature was banned, Bahai marriage was deemed concubinage and there were prison sentences for those marrying according to Bahai customs; Bahais in the public service were demoted or sacked; eventually Bahai schools were shut down.2 Persecution became systematic and not just spasmodic as under previous regimes. Reza Shah was removed in 1941 by British and Soviet forces for his Nazi sympathies.

 

 

Muhammad Reza Shah

The new Pahlavi Shah although "Western influenced," courted the clergy. The government, in 1955, allowed Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Falsafi free air time for his attacks on the Bahai Faith. A wave of anti-Bahai violence swept the country-murders, rapes, damage to shrines, exhumation of Bahai cemeteries, and corpses dragged through the streets and burned.

The United Nations and the U.S. State Department brought pressure on the Shah to stop the attacks. Legal discrimination continued: huge taxes were demanded from the Bahai. The Pahlavi secret police, Savak, was used to harass the Bahai community and supply information to certain Muslim fundamentalist groups such as the Tablighat-i-Islami.

When the Pahlavi regime fell in February 1979 the Bahai breathed a short-lived sigh of relief.

 

 

Ayatollah Khomeini

At first the revolution was relatively democratic; even the communists were allowed to exist. The ayatollahs used the policy of divide and conquer until they held the full reins of power.

In May 1979 they charged the Bahais with the ridiculous crimes of collaborating with the Shah, being Zionists, U.K. and U.S. agents

(One tenet of the Bahai Faith is NOT to participate in politics.) All assets of the faith were seized: shrines, cemeteries, hospitals and a home for the aged.

In June 1980 three leading ayatollahs declared that the payment of pensions to retired Bahais was to be forbidden by the Shariah (religious law). Anyone paying such pensions would be offending against Islam. Bahais were dragged into mosques where attempts were made to make them "return to Islam".

The execution of Bahai officials and prominent teachers began in the second half of 1980, still on "political grounds". By June 1981, when the fundamentalists triumphed, revolutionary courts were sentencing Bahais to death on purely religious grounds. Ayatollah Sadduqi declared Bahais to be "mahdur ad-damm" (those whose blood may be shed). This led to open slather. An elderly man and his wife were drenched in kerosene and set alight.

Bahai girls were kidnapped and forced to marry Muslims. People were bridled like donkeys and led through the streets. Widows were compelled to pay for the bullets used to kill their husbands and then evicted from their homes with only the clothes they were wearing. Condemned persons were drained of blood for use at the Iraqi front. People were tortured to recant. Marriages were dissolved and Bahai family life called prostitution (punishable by death). Bahai children were deemed illegitimate and parents denied any right to them in civil law.

One Islamic judge, Hujjat-ul Islam Qazai, with many executions to his credit, stated in the Khabar-i-Junub on February 22, 1983:

"The Iranian Nation has risen in accordance with Qur'anic teachings and by the Will of God has determined to establish the Government of God on Earth. Therefore it cannot tolerate the perverted Bahais who are instruments of Satan.... (Iran will) God willing, fulfil the prayer of Noah, mentioned in the Qur'an "and Noah said, Lord leave not one single family of infidels on the earth".

Soon the Islamic courts were sentencing mujahedin, fedeyin, marxists, communists, liberals and democrats as well.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

1. "The Babi and Bahai Religions 1844-1944". A. von Gumoens P133

2. "The Persecution of the Bahais of Iran 184~1984", D. Martin, The Association for Bahai Studies, Ottawa 1984 P18.

 

Return toTop

 

Yasser Arafat

Mohammed Abder Rauf Arafat al-Kudwa al-Husseini was born in Jerusalem in 1929 of Egyptian parents. He adopted the name Yasser meaning 'easy-going' adding ABU AMAR after a companion of the Prophet Muhammad. He is a practising Muslim, has performed the Haj to Mecca and wears a pendant engraved with a verse from the Qur'an.1

In 1920, when Britain was given the mandate to rule Palestine, there were about 75,000 Jews living there and about 600,000 Arabs. Angered by the influx of Jews from Europe, Muslims in 1929 rioted in Hebron, Haifa and other cities killing 135 Jews. The latter retaliated killing 116 Arabs. By 1936 there were about 400,000 Jews and 1,000,000 Arabs.

During World War II some leading Muslims including Haji Amin al-Husseini worked for the Nazis in Germany, calling for a jihad against Britain. Amin was the grand mufti of Jerusalem and Arafat's uncle. Hitler wanted to barter some Jews for the return of German nationals but the Muslims convinced him to send 8000 Jewish children to the death camps instead of to Palestine.

Late in 1947 Britain announced that it planned to withdraw from Palestine. Their proposal that Palestine be partitioned in two was rejected by the Arabs, in particular by Haj Amin al-Husseini. Years later after a number of defeats at the hands of the Israelis they would have gladly accepted the boundaries offered.

There was a deal of military activity on both sides but the initiative for terrorism was begun by the Jews. In April 1948, an extremist group, the Irgun massacred 254 men, women and children of the Arab village of Deir Yassin. Arafat who had been active in Cairo University circles went with about fifty other students to fight. However their weapons were confiscated by the Egyptian Army.

On May 15, 1948 the British withdrew from Palestine and the state of Israel was declared. Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria sent troops in but were unable to dislodge the Israelis. The only result was that 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homes.

Back in Cairo, Yasser trained with the Muslim Brothers and took part in their raids on British installations. The Islamic fundamentalists helped Arafat's rise in the students' organization even though he canvassed support from all factions, including the communists.

Active in Palestinian affairs, Arafat was made unwelcome by Nasser. He had completed his degree in engineering and went to work for several years in Kuwait. Now he had the money to print literature and buy arms. With the aid of other Palestinians he set up Fatah, which is Qur'anic for "opening the gates of glory". Fatah was independent of the Arab states and of ideology. Its sole aim was to liberate Palestine by armed struggle.

Fatah realized that water was essential to Israel's expansion and so its first targets were the water projects. One bomb exploded killing seven Israelis. By 1966 attacks had moved to homes and kibbutzim.

In June 1967, Syria, Jordan and Egypt moved against Israel. In six days Israel had put them to rout. They increased their territory to three times its original size by incorporating the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. More than a million extra Arabs came under their control.

Arafat immediately organized guerillas, 500 of them, to cross into the West Bank. He organized shopkeepers and truckdrivers to strike. Bombs were planted in Jewish areas.

Israel conducted a successful campaign of rooting out Palestinian activists. Arafat and 300 Fatah fighters were lucky to escape from the West Bank to Jordan.

On March 18, 1968 a busload of children hit a mine near Eilat. Two children were killed and twenty seven were injured. The Israelis attacked into Jordan to destroy the Fatah base at Karamah. The Palestinians were waiting for them with rocket-propelled grenades. The Jordanian air force and army came to Fatah's assistance and the Israelis had to retreat. Although more Muslim lives were lost than Jewish, Yasser claimed it as a victory, the first ever over Israel. It made headlines in every Arab newspaper and Arafat's picture went around the world. Thousands of new recruits were added to Fatah's fighting forces. The terror escalated; more bombings took place. Thirteen people, including some Arabs, were killed when an old refrigerator exploded in Jerusalem. Another fifteen were killed when an old car exploded in the market place of Jerusalem.

Fatah had become the biggest of the Palestine guerrilla groups and Arafat was able to win control of the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization. The aim of the PLO at this time was to wipe out the Jewish state and in 1969 the PLO carried out over 2000 attacks on Israel. The PLO was an umbrella organization for a number of groups and Arafat came to be praised or blamed, as the case might be, for a number ofterrorist operations which he himself did not plan. For example the Christian, George Habash of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) organized three successful hi-jackings. These planes were redirected to Jordan and King Hussein was forced to deal with the Palestinians, eventually killing 3000 PLO.

In October 1967, Egyptian missiles sank an Israeli ship, the Eilat killing forty seven people. In retaliation Israel destroyed two Egyptian oil refineries. Egypt sent commando raids into Israel and there were dogfights in the sky.

Arafat sent Fatah members into Europe and South America to strike at Israeli targets abroad: The most infamous of these was in September 1972 when Fatah's Black September group took Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich Olympic Games killing eleven of them.

On Yom Kippur 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. In two weeks of fighting the forces were quite evenly matched much to the dismay of the Israelis, although Egypt lost 10,000 men, 650 tanks and 180 planes. By the peace plan of 1974 Israel handed back half of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Anwar Sadat had had enough and left the Palestinians to their own devices.

The PLO were based in refugee camps in Lebanon and continued raids into Israel. On 11th April, the PFLP attacked the Jewish village of Kiryat Shmonah with hand grenades and small arms. They killed eight children and eight adults. In May, three DFLP terrorists took a hundred Jewish children hostage in an attempt to free twenty Palestinian prisoners. Sixteen children were massacred and another sixty eight were wounded.

In October 1974 the Arab rulers came to the agreement that "the PLO, with Arafat as its chairman, would become the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people".2 Yasser announced that the PLO was prepared to accept the West Bank and Gaza for the Palestinians as a state. Arafat was seen as a traitor by George Habash and Ahmed Jabril (PLF) and they withdrew from the PLO.

To undermine Israeli Labor Party proposals to accept the "two state solution", the Jewish hardliners pushed for settlement right along the West Bank and in Gaza. The PLO likewise hardened its attitude killing Arabs who sold land to the Israelis.

In November 1977 Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel. Hardliners on both sides sought to negate the Camp David accords. Six Jewish students were murdered in Hebron. Two Arab mayors were crippled in car bomb explosions. Israel bombed PLO sites in Lebanon and the Christian Phalange massacred Palestinians in the refugee camps of Lebanon. On Monday 7th. October 1985, four "PLO" terrorists took over the cruise ship, the Achille Lauro. They took hostage about one hundred passengers, demanding the release of fifty Palestinians who were in Israeli jails. Next day, off the coast of Syria, the Islamic heroes murdered a retired American Jew, Leon Klinghoffer by shooting him in the head. He had had a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair. The helpers of Allah ordered two crew members to throw his body and wheelchair overboard. Apparently the master-mind was not Arafat but Abul Abbas of the Palestine Liberation Front.

With the PLO unable to mount border attacks into Israel, the Palestinians themselves began an uprising, the intifada. Women and children stoned Israeli soldiers and settlers. It was not bloodless; numbers of young Arabs were shot for throwing stones or painting slogans on walls.

A possible confederation of Israel, Palestine and Jordan is being considered but the right-wing Israeli leaders are not prepared to talk with Arafat or the PLO. The Palestinians on the other hand see the PLO as their representative organization. Nor is Arafat now aligned with the Muslim fundamentalists who want nothing of Israel and want Palestine to be an Islamic religious state.

The only hope for the region is a secular settlement. Arabs and Jews are both Semites; their languages are similar; (the main thing which divides them is religion. Separation of religion from politics could ensure a confederation of mutual advantage to both sides). Already 150,000 Arabs work happily in Israel. This number could be increased and Jews would have access to large Arab markets. On the other hand, Arabs would have the use of Israeli ports on the Mediterranean Sea and Israeli know-how especially in agriculture. Despite his Islamic upbringing, Yasser hopefully sees the solution in a Palestine, not controlled by Islam, reduced in size but cooperating with a more liberal Israel.

Yasser Arafat has resisted the threats of Hamas, the organization of Palestinian Islamic fundamentalists, and recognized Israel as a state. Israel's Rabin has ousted the hardliners and agreed to meet Arafat as the spokesman of Palestine. The first step in the accord is to grant limited autonomy to the Gaza Strip and the town of Jericho.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

1. "Arafat: In the eyes of the beholder" J&J Wallach. Heinemann

2. Ibid

Return to Top

 

 

EGYPT

 

Umar II

Egypt was proselytized, it is said, by St. Mark and was one of the earliest Christian countries. Its demise to a Muslim nation is instructional, especially when one considers how Islam protests its tolerance towards the dhimmis.

The Pact of Umar imposed discrimination on the non-Muslims. Not only did they have to pay the jizya but they lost ownership of their land and, to be able to use it, had to pay land tax, the kharaj. Nor were they allowed to build new churches or repair old ones. Church bells, crosses, banners and sacred books were banned and services had to be held in silence. Marriage or sexual intercourse with a Muslim woman and blasphemy against Islam were capital offences. They were made to wear discriminatory clothing a~d were allowed to ride donkeys but not horses or camels. Without a receipt for the jizya, the dhimmi could be executed.

In 724 CE, twenty four thousand Christian Copts converted to Islam to avoid destitution. Thousands of other Copts revolted against the taxes and were killed: their women and children were sold into slavery. The Pact of Umar disallowed dhimmis from exerting any authority over Muslims, so they could not join the army or become civil servants.

In the reign of Caliph Al-Hakim (996-1020) all churches and synagogues were looted and demolished or converted into mosques. For a while they were allowed to be rebuilt but in 1058 all churches were closed. Persecution continued throughout the centuries and the number of Copts grew fewer and fewer. At the time of the Muslim conquest there had been twenty five million Christians with forty five thousand churches and monasteries but by the beginning of the nineteenth century they had fallen to one hundred and fifty thousand with two hundred and fifty partially destroyed churches. British occupation helped remove legal disabilities against the Copts and from 1884 many resurfaced until now they number nearly nine million.'

 

 

Husan Al Banna

Al Banna founded the Ikhwan Muslimoon, the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. Many were his pledges. One of the most important was "the jihad of which Muslims have grown ignorant and negligent and do not know that this is the criterion of faith... of sacrificing everything to achieve Paradise. To pledge... the suzerainty (paramount authority) of Islam over the whole world".2 He pledged the enforcement of the Shariah. The Ikhwan "works for the establishment of Islam ..... the entire world"3 .... . to make His Word supreme in the whole world"4 "It should raise the flag of Jihad and the Call towards Allah till the entire world is benefited by the Islamic teachings."5

The Ikhwan should work for an Islamic government in its own country making sure that non-Muslims are not entrusted with any powers of office. This has, in large part, been enforced in Egypt. Coptic Christians who make up twenty percent of the population seldom advance to the senior ranks of the military, security, diplomatic services or any instrumentality for that matter.

By the 1940s, the Muslim Brotherhood were strong enough to attack Copts and burn their churches. The Ikhwan was under the patronage of King Farouk who wanted to set up a theocratic state with himself as the Caliph of all Muslims.

In 1952 after hearing the Friday sermon in a mosque in the City of Suez, a Muslim mob armed with butchers' hooks dragged nine Christians into the St. Antonius Coptic Church and burned them alive.6 The murderers and the inflammatory sheikh were never brought to justice.

From 1965 to 1973 while Egypt was friendly to the USSR, the right-wing Ikhwan was proscribed but this did not mean that Nasser and Sadat were even-handed with the Copts. Apparently Sadat had been a member of the Egyptian Nazi Party and of the Muslim Brotherhood in his earlier years.7

Legally the Christians have full citizenship but this is not so in practice. While the market is flooded with anti-Copt books and newspapers, the Christians find it hard for their material to pass the censors. State television and radio constantly broadcast Muslim speeches attacking the Copts who receive no right of reply.

Christian schools have been closed and confiscated without compensation while Muslim schools are financed and encouraged. Medical schools do not accept non-Muslims in their departments of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. State universities and colleges admit Christian Students but this is not so in the al-Azhar University which is for Muslims only. A recent stratagem is to open up colleges, in secular subjects such as nursing, as branches of the Islamic University so that all their graduates will be Muslims.

In May 1978, Muslim fundamentalists at Assuyuit University took fifty Christian students hostage for two days in an effort to make it a hundred percent Muslim institution. The governor took no action against the students; he was well-known for his statement: "the enemies of Egypt, are Christianity, Zionism and Communism". Scores of similar if smaller incidents took place in other colleges and universities.

In the same month and in June, three churches were destroyed in Touk-Delka and in Minyia. No action was taken against the extremists.

Four weeks later two Sunday-school teachers were machine-gunned to death, hacked with swords and thrown into the Nile. The murderers were apprehended and confessed but they were released "on religious grounds". Explosives were placed in three churches with the aim of killing the infidels celebrating Christmas.

Rather than aid the Copts against their persecutors, President Sadat accused them of sedition and conspiring to discredit Egypt and Islam. He emphasized that he was a Muslim president in a Muslim country and quoted the Qur'an: "Those who fight Allah and his apostle, and spread disorder in the land (Blame the victim again!) shall be put to death or crucified, or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or banished from the country" (5:33) He exiled Pope Shenouda III, jailed eight bishops, twenty three priests and one hundred and fifty laymen. They were not able to defend themselves and a barrage against them filled the mass media. The only two Christian newspapers were banned. The Muslim extremists certainly got the message to increase their attacks.

A Coptic businessman had bought land in Cairo for a factory and a church difficult as it was to have one built. Muslim extremists wanted to take the land by force and build a mosque on it quoting a hadith "Allah gave the world to Muhammad and to the Muslims after him".8 On the 17th June, 1981 one of the largest massacres in Egypt in recent times occurred. While thousands of police massed around the plot of land for two days the Islamic warriors reduced more than one hundred and fifty homes and shops to rubble or burnt them. They prevented fire engines from reaching the scene. More than a hundred Copts were killed while three Muslims died. (Should one fight back?) "To please the US government and the American Press, President Sadat blamed the communists. He prevented foreign correspondents entering the district or interviewing the relatives of the victims."9 The Egyptian Government also suppressed information about scores of other murders of Christians.

It was ironic when, on the 6th October 1981, the Ikhwan assassinated President Sadat for the "appeasement of Israel", because his domestic policy was actively promoting their cause.

President Mubarak has continued the same policy of oppression and discrimination against Egyptian Christians. It was not until after wide-spread world-wide campaigns that Pope Shenouda was allowed to return in 1985. However persecution continues up to the present day. A non-Muslim cannot give evidence in court. Any legal agreement between a Muslim and an "infidel" is only binding on the "unbeliever." Job opportunities are restricted: Muslim companies which are owned by oil-rich governments do not hire Christians. It is difficult for a Christian to establish his own business and even then he may be forced to hire Muslims instead of Copts or face destruction of his livelihood.

Newly constructed apartments are rented only to Muslims. Christians who convert to Islam will be immediately granted an apartment, a lump sum of money and a job.10 Christians are everywhere harassed in a psychological struggle to force them to apostacise.

Christians are not allowed to build new churches or repair old ones. Some who have attempted to convert other buildings to church use have been murdered or had their homes burned. No action is taken against the Muslims responsible.

While there are, as yet, no laws against apostasy from Islam, the missionary or the convert may be convicted on other charges, for example "threatening social peace and intercommunal relations". There is, however, a Supreme Court ruling that a Moslem who apostacises is legally dead. He loses all rights and powers. He cannot withdraw funds from his accounts. Any person who kills him does not commit murder from a legal point of view because he is already legally dead. The "dead" person cannot marry or inherit. Nor is it possible for an apostate to have his identity card changed to "Christian". More than one hundred and fifty Muslims who have adopted Christianity have been detained in maximum-security prisons. They have been accused of threatening national unity.

One example from a Coptic press release, concerned the case of Dr. Abdul-Rahman who has been held in Cairo without trial for two years for breaking with Islam. He is in solitary confinement but his will has not been broken. He is undoubtedly being used as a warning to anyone else contemplating apostasy.

 

REFERENCES

 

1. P18 "The Copts Since the Arab Invasion". Shawky F. Karas The American, Canadian

& Australian C. Coptic Associations New Jersey 1985.

2. Pviii "The Muslim Brotherhood" Saeed Hawwa, Hindustan Publications, Delhi 1983

 

 

 

3. Ibid P14

4. Ibid P31

5. Ibid P43

6. P 86 "The Copts Since the Arab Invasion"

7. Ibid P188

8. IbidPl86

9. Ibid P179-186

10. "The Copts: Christians of Egypt". New Jersey June 1987

 

Return toTop

 

SAUDI ARABIA

 

Sheikh Muhammad Bin Abdul Wahhab

Abdul Wahhab was a stern eighteenth century Muslim revivalist who considered that Islam, and Arabia in particular) needed cleansing and repurifying. Rather than worshipping just the one God, men were praying to saints, stones and statues. For this reason the Wahhabis call themselves unitarians. In Saudi Arabia the home of Wahhabism, the name is not used as it is considered integral to Islam and not a separate sect.

The descendants of Abdul Wahhab, the Al al Sheikh, are still chief of the ulama, the religious advisers to the Saudis. The unitarians see no separation whatever between church and state and so the King of the Saudis is also their Imam (spiritual leader).

Within sixty years the puritans controlled most of what is Saudi Arabia today including the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina. The zealots imposed their will on their citizens and the pilgrims and destroyed what was not to their liking such as hookahs, musical instruments and human portraits.

In 1818 the Ottoman Caliph retaliated. Mecca was seized; Diriyah the Saudi capital was laid waste, the inhabitants of Diriyah and Riyadh were left to starve and the Saudi ruler was beheaded.

In 1871 the Turks again smashed the renascent Saudis and it was not until 1902 that Abdul Aziz Bin Saud, known in the west as Ibn Saud, conquered Riyadh with forty men.

In 1912 a revival of Wahhabism led to the formation of a religious settlement at the village of Artawiyah, 300 miles north of Riyadh under the auspices of the Ikhwan, the Brotherhood. Artawiyah soon grew to a town often thousand population, of former bedouins who now devoted their time to farming and to the Qur'an. They enforced attendance at the mosque by whipping those who did not go; they whipped shopkeepers who did not close during prayers. Even today automatic teller machines are switched off during prayers. They forbade moustaches longer than the Prophet's, and banned music and smoking. They killed Christians, and even Muslims who did not recite the Qur'an nicely.

Ibn Saud took control of the Brotherhood and in 1916 ordered all his Bedouin tribes to emulate Artawiyah. They were given instructions in Wahhabism with Ibn Saud as their king and Imam. The Ikhwan became a fanatical fighting machine and on the 25th May 1919 had a fearsome triumph over the much superior Hashemite force at Turaba, sixty miles from Mecca. Even Ibn Saud feared for the lives of the Meccans and had to disband the Ikhwan.

In 1924, a band of three thousand Ikhwan looted and burnt the town of Taif, killing three hundred townsfolk. Not having seen mirrors before, they smashed all that they could find.

After the massacre at Taif, Ibn Saud forbade further looting and murder and by 1926, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and indeed most of Arabia fell, comparatively bloodlessly, into Saudi hands.

Ibn Saud no longer needed the Ikhwan. The crunch came when the Brotherhood attacked the Egyptian hajji of 1926. Accompanying them was a noisy brass band which offended the puritanical sensitivities of the Ikhwan. Ibn Saud's response was to clear them out of the Holy Places back to their desert settlements of which there were about one hundred by now.

The Ikhwan were not pleased with what Ibn Saud allowed in the state. Instead of banning tobacco he increased taxes on it. In January 1927 Ibn Saud had to confer with three thousand odd Ikhwan with the ulama as adjudicators. The zealots raised the fact that Prince Feisal was visiting infidel England, Shusm still flourished in the Kingdom, Christian and Satanic contraptions such as the telegraph were being installed. While the ulama was sympathetic to many of these views they ruled that the calling of a jihad was up to the Imam, Ibn Saud.

The Ikhwan, still determined on jihad, raided across Saudi borders butchering men, women and children and herding back their animals. Transjordan and Iraq formed defence corps backed by British armored cars, radios and aeroplanes. Unable to raid outside of Saudi Arabia, the fighting turned inwards against other Wahhabis. Their moral strength dissipated and Ibn Saud with an army of loyalists met the rebel Ikhwan near Zilfi.

Ibn Saud was magnanimous in victory and allowed the rebels to return home. Several times they tried to rebel again but Ibn Saud used "Christian contraptions" such as motor cars against them. By 1930 the Ildiwan armies were completely demolished.

Nevertheless the ulama was still Wahhabist. Ibn Saud was able to demonstrate that the radio was a medium for Qur'anic verses, and insisted that his photographs be displayed. Football was legalized in 1951 but alcohol which had been available to non-Muslims was banned in 1952. In 1956 a strike was made a punishable offence and trade unions and political parties were banned; Two hundred strikers were arrested and three leaders were publicly beaten to death.

In 1957 King Saud banned women from driving. This of course is not shariah as no cars existed in Muhammad's time. The reason given is that a properly dressed woman could not change a tyre, talk to traffic p0lice or other drivers. Probably the main reason, however, is to control women 5 movements especially in the light of Muslim obsession with female sexuality.

The King allowed in U S troops as part of a Training Mission on the proviso that it be free of Jews and that Christian ceremonies were forbidden. In 1962 there had been about thirty thousand slaves in Saudi Arabia but pressure by the United Nations eventually brought about the abolition of slavery, despite opposition by the fundamentalists.

In 1965 the Wahhabis led a violent demonstration against the King's decision to set up a T V Service in the kingdom.

In 1966 the King was embarrassed by articles in the newspapers written by the Vice-President of the Islamic University of Medina. He had evidence that Copernican theory was being taught at Riyadh University. Three hundred years earlier the Christian theologians had to concede that the earth went around the sun and not vice versa!

The religious police (Mutawain) armed with batons searched homes for alcohol, smashing dolls, record players and movie projectors, beating the bare calves of European women, knocking cigarettes out of mouths of people smoking in public.

In 1967 the sale of Christmas trees was banned, segregation of the sexes at schools was set at age nine, which was the age for girls to start to wear the veil. The King was forced by the Wahhabis to sack the Minister of Information for "offensive" programs on the very much censored T V service: even Mickey Mouse could not give Minnie a little peck.

In July 1977 a Britisher with a miniature camera was able to take some photographs which shocked the world. He snapped the public execution in Jeddah of Princess Mishael bint Fahd bin Mohammed a young married, but separated, mother and her lover Khalid Muhallah. She was shot six times in the head while her lover was beheaded. The photographs became part of the documentary, "Death of a Princess". The British ambassador became a "persona non grata": countries which are authoritarian cannot seem to understand that the media in open societies have much more freedom than theirs.

During 1978 to 1980 all beauty parlors in Riyadh were closed to prevent, it was claimed, women from meeting potential lovers. In 1980 women university graduates were banned from going overseas for higher degrees: the probable reason was that they came back with dangerous ideas. Women are forbidden to bicycle or jog.

An unmarried woman and man should not ride in the same car. The mutawains search photo-developing laboratories to check the "morality" of the pictures: the standards are so strict that virtually any shots showing people enjoying themselves are banned.

Men and women are separated on buses by means of a steel partition. Women may only work in jobs such as medicine or teaching where there is no contact with males. If it is necessary to contact a man it must be done by telephone or letter. Occasionally a husband-wife team can overcome the segregation and act as go-betweens for the two sexes. In universities girls are segregated into separate rooms where they can watch a male lecturer on closed circuit television: this means they cannot participate fully in the lectures.

In 1977 female clerical staff, although in short supply, were banned from working in the same offices as men. There was a ban on mixed bathing in hotel swimming pools and on men and women holding hands in public.

On New Years Day 1400 A H (20 November 1979) two hundred rebels led by Juhaiman bin Muhammad Utaibi and the "Expected Mahdi" Muhammad bin Abdullah al Quatani seized the Grand Mosque at Mecca. Juhaiman rejected the "Modernism" of the Saudis, the TV service, the presence of infidels in the kingdom, relations with "godless" foreign countries and he invoked the name of the Ikhwan for his group. No doubt hoping that other Wahhabis would join in the rebellion, they held out for two weeks. A month or so later sixty three of the surviving Ikhwan were executed. This "victory" did not produce a swing towards liberalism in the kingdom; the Saudis had been frightened and made to realize that the spirit of Abdul Wahhab was still alive out there.

 

REFERENCES

 

1. "The House of Saud" D. Holden & R. Johns.

2. "The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom" S. Mackey.

3. "The Closed Circle: an Interpretation of the Arabs" D. Pryce-Jones

 

Return to Top

 

 

SYRIA

 

Hafez M-Assad

President Assad of Syria is an Alawite Muslim while the majority of the population is Sunni. The latter regard the Alawites as heretics to Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood, Ikhwan, instituted activities against Assad and his Baath Party. The leadership of the Brotherhood consisted largely of Muslim clerics, the ulama, and its rank and file were mainly young Sunni bourgeois or urban poor.

The Brotherhood carried out a number of bomb attacks and assassinations against the government. Scores of Baath party workers were slain in their homes often together with their wives and children. On 26th June 1980, Ikhwan assassins attacked the "enemy of Allah", Assad himself. The next morning eight hundred Ikhwan in Palmyra prison were killed in their cells.

The Mukhabarrat, secret police of Assad rounded up those they considered were collaborating with the Brotherhood. A leading light, Shisakhi was found castrated, face burnt with acid and his eyes gouged out. Hundreds of Sunni were executed and even some Christians. Suspects were tortured to prepare lists of the Islamic underground. An apparatus to rip out fingernails was used and also the "Black Slave"-a hot metal skewer which burnt its way from the anus to the colon.1

The ancient city of Hama was the Ikhwan stronghold and Assad was determined to clean it out. On 2nd February 1982, five hundred troops moved into the old Barudi district. The Ikhwan were waiting for them and cut them down with machine-gun fire. Exhilarated with their early success they called for a jihad against Assad. Every mosque in Hama blared forth the call from its minarets. The guerrilla war was over; it was time for everyone to openly support the Brotherhood and drive out the "infidels".

The Ikhwan held a sizeable part of the town and even had its own hospital and women fighters. Some Syrian army units defected to them.

Assad called in the heavy weapons; many of the old alleyways were too narrow for tanks and so whole districts were flattened by artillery rather than engage the Brotherhood in hand to hand fighting.

Thousands of innocent people were killed in this way. Many more perished during the "mopping up". Buildings were dynamited without concern for the occupants. After that whole areas were levelled by bulldozers.

The death toll is estimated at over 20,000. "Syria's murderous suppression of the Hama uprising had much in common with the behaviour of the Nazis in occupied Europe".2

 

REFERENCES

 

1. "From Beirut to Jerusalem", Thomas Friedman, Collins, London 1990

2. "Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War" R Fisk O.U.P 1990

 

 

 

 

LEBANON

 

The Hezbollah

The Hezbollah, Party of God was founded in Baalbek, Lebanon by Sayyid Abbas Al-Mussawi, Sheikh Subhi Al-Tufayli and other Shute clergymen. It first appeared in June 1982 as a Lebanese resistance movement opposed to the invasion by Israel. They took inspiration from Iran and around their heads wore ribbons of martyrdom with the single word, Allah. At Khalde they ran up to within six metres of Israeli tanks to launch their grenades.

In July 1982 a group under the umbrella of Hezbollah, the al-Jihad al-Islami (Islamic Holy War) kidnapped David Dodge, the acting president of the American University in Beirut. A year later he was released with Syrian help.

Hezbollah also set itself more routine tasks such as burning down or smashing up bars and brothels.

The "peace-keeping" force (US, UK, France, Italy) were seen to be aiding the Christian Phalange by allowing the weapons of the Muslims to be confiscated but not those of their enemies.

On 18th April, 1983 a truckload of explosives blew up the US Embassy in Beirut. The driver of the suicide truck was a member of the Islamic Jihad. Of the 63 people killed, only 17 were Americans. The rest were Lebanese trying to leave the war-torn country.

In September 1983, US ships John Rodgers and Virginia, bombarded Lebanese Druse and Muslim positions thus appearing openly partisan in the civil war. The French conducted a single air-strike against Muslim gun batteries but that was enough to earn the hatred of the Jihad. On the 23rd October 1983, two simultaneous suicide bombings sent two Holy War warriors to Paradise. Trucks each laden with a tonne of explosives killed 241 American servicemen and 58 French paratroopers. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility and stated: ~ We are the soldiers of God and we are fond of death. We are neither Iranians nor Syrians nor Palestinians. We are Lebanese Muslims who follow the principles of the Koran

On the 4th November, sixty Israelis and prisoners were killed when suicide bombers attacked the Israeli military base in Tyre, southern Lebanon. Nor were the activities of the Islamic Jihad restricted to Lebanon. In Kuwait 17 men including several Lebanese were arrested after the destruction of the American and French embassies.

Anti-American feeling grew. In January 1984, Islamic Jihad shot Malcolm Kerr, president of the American University in Beirut.

In 1985 Islamic Jihad gunmen hijacked a T W A airliner from Athens airport. At Beirut they released the women and children. One passenger, however, Robert Stetham, USN was clubbed over the face, shot in the head and thrown from the plane. The demand of the hijackers was the release of the seventeen Islamic Jihad prisoners in Kuwait and 753 Lebanese Shiite prisoners in Israel.

Various Islamic groups were taking hostages. Lucky was Jeremy Levin who escaped and several dozen others who were released. Not so lucky were William Buckley, CIA chief who was tortured to death or US Lt. Col. William Higgins who was hanged. Three British teachers and a British journalist were shot in revenge for the US bombing of Libya and their use of British bases.

In March 1985, Islamic Jihad abducted American journalist Terry Anderson. This was ironic as his objective reporting was often unfavourable to the Israelis and to the Christians. For two weeks he lay alone in the darkness, chained to a dank wall. To pass the time he made a chess set out of aluminium foil but it was taken away by his captors. Guards beat him and often threatened to kill him. Food was a sparing quantity of bread, cheese and tea. Once he was so frustrated that he banged his head on the wall until it bled.

In the latter half of 1991 it became apparent that Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was seeking to release hostages to normalize relations with the West. Iran wants a breathing space before the next round of the Jihad. It needs Western credits, trade and technology to rebuild itself after the destructive war (1980-88) with Iraq.

Terry Anderson, freed on 4th December was the longest-held hostage-nearly seven years!

Joseph Ciccippio 61, suffered at the hands of his Islamic captors. He had been clubbed on the head and chained outdoors in winter causing permanent frost-bite damage to his hands and feet.

The last two Western hostages were the German aid workers Hemrich Struebig and Thomas Kemptner for whom the Muslims wanted the release of several convicted terrorists by the German Government.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

1. P520 "Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War" R. Fisk, O.U.P. 1990

 

Return toTop

 

 

 

INDIA

 

"The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying from within."1

The second caliph, Umar sent an expedition against India in 636 CE but it was unsuccessful. For thirteen centuries the Hindus have withstood, with breaks here and there and with varying degrees of success, attempts to Islamize the sub-continent.

The last actual war was in 1971 with Pakistan and, at the moment, Islamic efforts seem confined to swelling the Muslim population of the Republic of India to over 100 million by infiltration and by natural increase-the Muslim population increase is nearly double that of the Hindu. "Marry women... who will be very prolific, for I wish you to be more numerous than any other people" (Muhammad)

Islam sees India as "unfinished business" and it is, without doubt, the next country on the agenda. Oil-rich Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia are spending millions trying to convert and subvert India to Islam.

We cannot possibly detail all the terror and cruelty inflicted upon the Hindus, particularly in the thirteenth to seventeenth centuries. We shall merely illustrate them with several short essays.

 

 

Shahbuddin Mohammad Kiran

Shah Jahan (1593-1666) was the fifth Mogul Emperor, the grandson of Akbar the Great. Several writers have romanticized his reign as being a golden era. However he was a pathological warmonger, instituting forty eight military campaigns in less than thirty years. In the meantime famine and fever often ravaged India.

While his father, Jehangir, was alive Shah Jahan rebelled against him two or three times without success. He had his brother, Shahriyar, blinded and thrown into prison. On coming to the throne in 1628 he killed all his male relations except one who escaped to Persia.

Shah Jahan had several wives and five thousand concubines in his harem. He is also said to have had incestuous relations with his daughters Chamani and Jahanara. His favorite wife was Mumtaz Mahal, The "Ornament of the Palace". She was as fanatical a Muslim as her husband. Despite his Rajput (Hindu) mother, Shah Jahan shared none of his father's and grandfather's liberal views on religion.

A Hindu was made to give up his Muslim wife or convert to Islam. (Kashmir is now predominantly Muslim due to Shah Jahan's policies). In 1632 he ordered that all Hindu temples recently erected or in the course of construction should be razed to the ground. In Benares alone seventy six temples were destroyed. Christian churches at Agra and Lahore were demolished. Later in the year he besieged Hugh, a Portuguese enclave, near Calcutta. The siege lasted three months. In a manner befitting the Prophet he had ten thousand inhabitants executed by being "blown up with powder, drowned in water or burnt by fire". Four thousand were taken captive to Agra where they were tortured to try to convert them to Islam. Only a few apostacised, the remainder were trampled to death by elephants, except for the younger women who went to harems.

When Mumtaz died, Shah Jahan decided that he should find her a suitable resting place in Agra. Muslim chroniclers have taught us that he had the Taj Mahal, the "Crown Residence", built for this purpose. (Shah Jahan nowhere stated this himself).

P.N. Oak2 however, says that the Taj Mahal had been built as a Shiva temple in the twelfth century and was currently being used as the palace of Rajah Jaisingh. The Hindu was evicted "legally": Shah Jahan had him sign a land transfer deed. Oak's corroboration includes carbon dating of a wooden doorway and the Hindu octagonal shape of the building. Also, despite Muslim skill at pin-pointing Mecca, the qiblah of the 'mosque' was fifteen degrees out and was, in fact, due west, a Hindu direction. Perhaps even more telling is the fact that the "Crown Residence" contains over two hundred rooms, many to this day bricked up. It is not likely that a mausoleum should be built with so many rooms or with guest rooms, guard rooms, stables, a cow room, a well and a bazaar. Shah Jahan's main expense was building brick scaffolding around the Taj Mahal so that he could vandalize it with Qur'anic graffiti. He also had Hindu idols removed (are there still some bricked up?) although Hindu flowers including the lotus are still to be found in the mosaics.

When his labourers complained of low wages he had some of their hands amputated, as an example. The dome of the Taj Mahal is often quoted as evidence for Islamic architecture but as Oak says, this was borrowed from the early Hindus, just as "Arab" mathematics and astronomy were. A score of buildings attributed to Islam are said to be originally Hindu: for example the tombs of Humayun, Safdarjang and Akbar. Shah Jahan has been incorrectly named as the founder of Old Delhi. The Red Fort and the Jama Masjid were early Hindu buildings (Tamurlane, in his memoirs,was in Old Delhi in 1398 and mentions the latter building).

It was poetic justice when, in 1658, his son Aurangzeb usurped his throne. Shah Jahan was kept under house arrest at Agra, being only able to gaze across to the Taj Mahal where his Mumtaz was buried. He joined her in 1666.

 

 

Aurangzeb

Shah Jahan had four sons by Mumtaz. Dara Shikoh, the eldest was his father's favourite and very popular with Hindus, Jesuits and Muslims alike.

Aurangzeb, the third son was a strict Sunni who knew the Qur'an by heart. He hated his brother and had him executed on the grounds of heresy. Dara's decapitated body was paraded through the streets of Delhi. Aurangzeb murdered several nephews who would have been legal heirs to the throne.

Aurangzeb was cold and crafty, and an unscrupulous intriguer. He invited brother Murad to dinner, took him into custody and had him also "legally executed". The fourth brother Shuja took refuge in the jungles of Arakan and fell victim to the tribes-people there. Aurangzeb had his own son, Muhammad Sultan poisoned.

The survivor became Emperor in June 1659 and he declared himself Caliph of the whole Muslim world. He tightened up on the observance of Qur'anic law. In every city was appointed a censor of public morals, the Muhtasib to enforce the Shariah. Drinking, gambling and illicit sex relations were made punishable crimes.

The Muhtasib saw to it that the Muslims did not omit the five daily prayers and the fasts of Ramadan. State musicians and singers were pensioned off. The death penalty for apostasy from Islam was enforced.

Aurangzeb considered himself "The Scourge Of The Kafirs" (non-believers) and closed Hindu schools and libraries. In his lifetime he destroyed more than 10,000 Hindu, Buddhist and Jam temples and often erected mosques in their stead.3 In 1669 in Agra he had hacked off the limbs of the recalcitrant Hindu King Gokla and in 1672 several thousand revolting Hindus were slaughtered in Mewat.

In 1675, Sikh Guru Tegh Bahader protested against the forced conversion of Hindus to Islam. He had to watch while one of his disciples was burnt to death. Another, Bhai Mati Dass was sawn into right and left halves while held in a large wooden vice. Bhai Dyala was boiled alive in a huge cauldron. When he still refused to apostase to Islam the guru was beheaded.

In 1680 Aurangzeb re-introduced the Jizya, the poll tax on unbelievers. A huge crowd of kafirs held a peaceful protest against the tax and many were trampled to death when the Emperor ordered his elephants to be driven through them.

The Hindu king, Shambhaji who refused to convert to Islam was blinded and his minister Kavi Kalash, who had said some uncomplimentary things about the Prophet had his tongue pulled out. On 11th March 1698, while still alive, their arms and legs were hacked off and thrown to the dogs.

Nor did Aurangzeb show any tolerance for Muslim "heretics"; he had the famous Sufi Sarmad executed. As an orthodox Sunni, he hated the Shia sultans of Bijapur and Golkonda and attacked and conquered them.

On his wars he expended vast sums looted from the Hindu temples; he over-extended the Moghul Empire and having murdered many of his competitors left it virtually leaderless when he died on the 21st February 1707.

The Hindus had been aroused to defend themselves and Islam was still a minority in a sea of kafirs.

Return toTop

 

 

BANGLADESH

 

On July 13, 1947 two days before India was divided into the two independent states of India and Pakistan ("the land of the pure"), Mohammed Ali Jinnah leader of the Muslim League stated:

"I shall not depart from what I have said repeatedly with regard to the minorities. The minorities, to whichever community they may belong, will be safe-guarded. Their religion or their faith or belief will be protected in every way possible. Their life and property will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with the freedom of worship. They will have their property and their culture. They will be in all respects treated as citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste, religion or creed".

Trusting this forthright pledge, thirteen million non-Muslims-Hindus, Buddhists and Christians remained in their homes in East Pakistan.4 A reign of terror against the minorities was instituted from the start. The minorities were blamed for all of the shortcomings in East Pakistan and its Muslims were rallied against the Hindus in particular. The government raised slogans such as: "Islam is in danger from the heathen Hindus" and distributed firearms and other weapons to the bigoted Muslim masses. Property was forcibly taken over. Hindu women were abducted in large numbers so that Muslim men could indulge in polygamy. Islam became the acronym for Intolerance, Slaughter, Loot, Arson and Molestation of minority women.5

In 1950, nearly half a million Hindus were slaughtered in East Pakistan. The mutilation was disgusting-eyes gouged out, pregnant women disembowelled, male genitals cut off, women's breasts cut off.

About 4.5 million East Pakistanis crossed into India but eventually the Indian government prevented refugees from crossing into its territory. "The eight million Hindus left behind lived in constant fear for their life, property and honour. "6

Between 1951 and 1970 four million more refugees slipped across the border into India fleeing from Muslim rapine, looting and torture. By the Pakistan "Enemy Property Act" of 1965 those who left had their property seized and were virtually penniless.

West Pakistan controlled the economy of the Eastern half and did not spend a fair share on East Bengal. In 1971 a war of independence was fought and with Indian help the independent state of Bangladesh was set up. In the process, however, three million Hindus were massacred by Pakistani troops using US weapons.

Major-General Sawkat Reza remarked: "We have undertaken this noble work in the name of our religion...." Often the Hindus had to dig their own graves. "There have been a hundred My Lais and Lidices in East Pakistan."7

Two hundred thousand minority women were raped and many of them then killed by bayonets pushed up between their legs.8 Many were shipped to Saudi Arabia and sold into slavery which continued clandestinely. The money from these sales went into the coffers of Pakistan. In the village of Haluagat, Pakistani Army medical officers drained blood from minority "donors" until they died.

After the war, India repatriated the 9.5 million Hindu refugees back to Bangladesh and for a while they were safe under the secular government of Mujibar Rahman. However, Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan had Mujib murdered and Bangladesh became an Islamic military dictatorship.

The strategy of Islam is to ultimately reduce the number of kafirs (unbelievers) to zero. Bangladesh achieved this in northern Mymensingh which in 1947 had nearly 90% Christian population. Because of brutal persecution in 1964 and 1971 all the Garo Christians slipped into India. Similarly, the Hill Chittagong District was 98% Buddhist in 1947. Denied asylum in India most have fled to Arakan in Burma. By 1979 35% Buddhists lived in that part of Bangladesh. Districts which had a majority of Hindus were settled by Muslims to make them the dominant population.

The eleven million zimmis are literally second-class citizens in Bangladesh. All government jobs are denied to them; nor are they allowed access to higher education. The Munir Committee on the Shariat stated: .... . they will not be full citizens; they will have no voice in the making of the law, no rights to administer the law and no rights to hold public office."9

Police protection is not given to the zimmis. Their women can be harassed and violated, their crops removed from the fields, their temples and churches destroyed, job and trade licenses refused, and so on. The word of a zimmi is not taken in a court of law and even if a Muslim would give evidence, Shariat considers it haram (sinful) to bear witness against a Muslim in favour of a kafir.

Without any redress girls can be kidnapped and married to Muslims, becoming converts to Islam against their will. Forcible conversion to Islam proceeds in many areas. Petro-dollars from Saudi Arabia sup-port organizations such as World Tabligh-i-Jamaat in proselytizing among the zimmis.

In schools a distorted view of Indian 'history is presented so that Muslims are brain-washed into thinking that they are superior and Hindu youngsters are made to feel ashamed of their legacy. Often Hindus have to hide their identity by aping Muslim dress and customs or denying Hindu observances such as wearing the vermilion mark on the forehead or the obligatory conch-bangles. Hindu religious rituals are attacked and many centuries-old schools have been closed down. Muslim religious schools, of course, are liberally supported by the Bangladesh government.

In August 1991, Bangladesh "returned formally to parliamentary democracy, ending nearly sixteen years of presidential rule and military dictatorship".10 The elected Prime Minister, Mrs Khaleda Zia is the country's executive head rather than the President.

We certainly wish Bangladesh well but still have our doubts about the ability of an Islamic state to function as a democracy-the two concepts are mutually exclusive.

September 29, 1993 We were correct about undemocratic practices in Bangladesh. The government has banned a book by Taslima Nasreen entitled "Lajja" (Shame) about atrocities committed by Muslims against Hindus in 1990 and 1991. Nor have the authorities acted against the Bangladesh Shahada Sainik Parishad, a fundamentalist group which has put a 50,000 taka prize on Ms Nasreen's head.

 

Zia U1-Haq

General Zia was the military dictator of Pakistan from 1977 until 1988. He had links with the Jamaat-e-Islami a Muslim fundamentalist organization, which wanted the country to be ruled by religious rather than secular leaders.

Zia had been chief-of-staff to Zulfikar Mi Bhutto, Pakistan's first democratically elected Prime Minister. Bhutto was the founder and leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which enjoyed massive support. He was opposed by the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) which campaigned for Nizame-E-Mustafa, The "Regime of the Prophet". A vote against the PNA was a vote against God whereas a vote for the PNA was equal to 100,000 years of prayer.11

It was not as if Bhutto had not courted the Muslim vote. He had given Pakistan its first Islamic constitution in 1973, its Ministry of Religious Affairs, made Islamiyat - religious education compulsory in primary and secondary schools, programmed Arabic language lessons on Pakistan T V so that the Qur'an could be read in the original; even the Red Cross had been changed to the Red Crescent. But the fundamentalists would not be happy until the Shariah was instituted, turning the clock back hundreds of years, especially for human rights and women.

Bhutto's new laws supported women working outside the home and forbadc sexual discrimination.

Demonstrators against the PPP were paid via the PNA in American dollars.

Zia overthrew Bhutto in 1977 and had him hung in 1979 on a trumped-up charge of murder. He suspended the Constitution and imposed Martial Law. Some of his commands were:

Martial Law Order No 5: Anyone organizing or attending a meeting of a trade union, student union or political party without permission from the Martial Law Administrators (Zia) will receive up to ten lashes and five years imprisonment.

Law No 13: Criticizing the army in speech or writing is punishable by ten lashes and five years' imprisonment.'2

ML 0 No 16: "Seducing" a member of the army from his duty to the Chief Martial Law Administrator (Zia) is punishable by death.

ML 0 No 6: No person shall loot: maximum punishment: amputation of hand.

M L 0 No 77: "Treason" to be tried by a military court. Maximum penalty death by hanging.

ML0 No 78: Detention without trial for political prisoners extended beyond 12 months for as long as warranted. "Reasons for detention shall not be communicated to any person

Provisional Constitutional Order: Gave Zia the power to (retrospectively) amend the Constitution. All judges were required to swear to uphold the Martial Law. One quarter of the judges refused.13

Presidential Order No 4 Trials by military court to be held in secret. It became an offence to name the accused, the charges or the sentence. Military courts did not permit lawyers to defend the accused.

M L 0 54 (23-9-82 retrospective to 5-7-77)Death penalty for being "liable to cause insecurity, fear, despondency among the public" or having knowledge of such an offence. Unless proved to the contrary, the accused is presumed guilty.

"In October, two thousand lawyers met in Karachi to demand the restoration of civil liberties. The organisers of the conference were arrested and sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment."'5

ML 049 The editor of any publication deemed dangerous to the "sovereignty, integrity and security of Pakistan or of morality and maintenance of public order" is subject to ten lashes and 25 years of rigorous imprisonment. 16

The mass circulation PPP newspaper, Musawaat was closed down and the presses seized. Censorship was enforced and the military controlled the source of newsprint.

ML 0 No 48 A member of a political party is subject to fourteen years rigorous imprisonment, the loss of his property and 25 lashes.

Doctors were usually present so that whipping stopped short of death. Smelling salts were often administered if the victim lost consciousness before receiving his allotted number of lashes.

Bhutto's dentist, Dr. Niazi, was not a member of any political party but was punished for his friendship with the ex-PM. An American visitor had left half a bottle of wine at his house. This was found when his home was searched. Dr. Niazi was jailed for six months for possessing alcohol.

Zia supported the Wahhabis whom we described in the essay on Saudi Arabia and he made no effort to restrain the religous fundamentalists. They could assault people, throw acid at them or destroy their property at will. During Ramadan gangs roamed the streets checking that no restaurants were open, that water was shut off in drinking fountains and public bathrooms and that no one smoked in public during the day. Fundamentalist students campaigned for sexual apartheid at the schools and attacked girls wearing Western clothing. Women's events at the Olympic Games were not shown on Pakistan T V because they showed their legs. Shariah law was introduced so that a woman 5 evidence was worth only half of a man's. The woman's penalty of being stoned to death was introduced for Zina (adultery). The double standard was shown in one case in Lahore. Two women were made to strip, beaten on the genitals and then raped. After all that, the case against them was dropped due to lack of confessions or eye-witnesses. Surely their experiences in the police station made them guilty?

Members of religious minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians were particularly likely to be victimized and warned to get out of Pakistan. The Ahmadiyya community whose members consider themselves to be Muslims, under amendments made to the penal code in 1984, may be "imprisoned for up to three years for calling themselves Muslims or for engaging in Muslim religious practices such as wearing badges displaying verses from the Qur'an."17 Over 3000 Ahmadis have been charged under this act.

To show how "democratic" he was, Zia decided to go through the motions of a referendum in 1985. A "yes" vote would bring the laws of Pakistan into line with the Shariah. What was laughable, however, was that anyone campaigning for a no vote could be fined $35,000 and imprisoned for three years. The only alternative for the democratic forces was to call for a boycott of the referendum. The voter turnout may have been as low as 10%. Official figures were useless; all supervision and counting were done by the military.

Zia had a special relationship with the United States of America. Despite human rights abuses, many saw Pakistan as a Western bastion in the East. Zia called Pakistan a front-line state helping to fight a jihad (holy war) against godless communism. He received over $500 million a year in economic and military aid from the U.S.A., plus whatever did not reach the mujahedin forces in Afghanistan. The Under-Secretary of State, James Buckley testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that elections "were not in the security interests of Pakistan"18

Reagan, however, did want Zia to hold elections. The dictator took the precaution of rounding up 3000 political opponents until the elections were over. Still he was rejected: only six out of6l candidates standing for the Jamaat-e-Islami won seats whereas of 52 candidates supporting the PPP fifty won seats-this despite the fact that the PPP had been banned for eight years.

However Zia did not lift martial law until December 1985. He retained the posts of President and Army Chief of Staff and he kept the "civilian government" under tight control.

Little of the billions of dollars received in aid went to help the people. For example the literacy rate was falling not improving. The infant mortality rate to the age of one was 15% and to age five was 34%. Over 85% of Pakistanis lived in huts or shacks with no access to clean water.

In August 1988, Zia was killed in an air-crash. Benazir Bhutto, daughter of the murdered Prime Minister, had spent years in exile, years under home detention and years in jail including long periods in solitary confinement. She obtained a court ruling that elections should be party-based. The PPP won the largest number of seats and Benazir became Prime Minister. She immediately had all death sentences commuted and thousands of political and religious prisoners were released.

 

March 19,1993 Meeting in New Delhi, the supreme council of Shia Ulema (religious leaders) is to approach the United Nations to have Pakistan declared a terrorist state. The Wahhabist Sunnis do not recognize Shiites as Muslims and recently massacred a number of them in Bahawalpur, Pakistan.

 

 

 

KASHMIR

 

After early Buddhist and Hindu rule, Jammu and Kashmir State became part of the Moghul empire in 1587 and most of its people were forcibly converted to Islam. It came under British domination in 1846. On independence and partition in 1947 its Hindu Maharajah hesitated and refrained from joining India or Pakistan for some time.

Pakistan made an unprovoked attack and seized thousands of square miles. It was then the Majarajah threw in his lot with India, which action was later ratified by the Kashmir Assembly. At Leh about five hundred innocent Buddhists were murdered and many monasteries were looted and desecrated. The secular army of India contained numbers of Muslim officers some of whom passed information on to Pakistan. Under the cover of darkness Muslim Kashmiri troops murdered their Hindu comrades while they slept.

The Pakistan army was accompanied by Muslim tribesmen. At Baramula they raped and robbed the kafir women including the nuns of the local mission hospital. A month later the town of Mirpur fell." Hardly two thousand out of about 25,000 living at that time in the ill-fated town managed to reach Jhangar in safety. The rest were ruthlessly butchered. The number of women abducted from there ran into thousands. Most of them were paraded and then sold in the bazaars of Jehlum, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. The barbarities of the Pakistan troops and civilians on these hapless women... put to shame the worst orgies of rape and violence associated with the hordes of Ghengiz Khan and Nadir Shah."19

On August 15, 1948 after many months of resistance, the town of Askardu fell to Pakistan. The entire Hindu population and most of the surviving troops were massacred. By the time of the cease fire approximately half the state had come int6 the grasp of Pakistan, which consolidated its power by killing or driving out all Hindus including Sikhs.

Pakistan, however, had not been able to take the Kashmir Valley and intensified its efforts to agitate the Muslim masses.

An example was the disappearance (and later re-appearance) in 1963 of the reputed hair of the prophet Muhammad kept in the Hazrat Bal Shrine at Srinagar and the anti-Indian storm which erupted.

From May 1965 Pakistan sent thousands of armed infiltrators into Kashmir prior to its full-scale invasion on September 1, 1965. In this Second Indo-Pak War India was able, in the main, to withstand the invaders.

On December 3, 1971 Pakistan bombed Indian air bases starting the Third Indo-Pak War. Again Kashmir was high on the list of its objectives. Apart from India once again preventing the severance of Kashmir it helped Bangladesh achieve independence.

Still hoping to enlarge its Islamic state, Pakistan is training and arming young Kashmiri rebels. To date they have mainly engaged in hit and run activities. The Indian Border Security Force have killed 227 guerrillas and captured three hundred including some Afghan fighters.

Sajjad Ahmed, one of the leaders of an Islamic group, the Harakatul-Mujahedin stated that every true Muslim should join the jihad. In October 1991, Ashun Dar of the Hizb-ul-Mujahedin had four captured soldiers hung when the Indian authorities would not exchange ten Kashmiris for them.

Muslim fundamentalist groups have gone about systematically destroying non-Muslim school and college buildings in Kashmir. Six advanced colleges, 79 primary schools, 81 middle schools, 63 high schools and 23 higher secondary schools have been destroyed by the militants. In addition, 240 educational institutions have been damaged including Christian missionary schools at Srinagar and Baramula.

At the same time a number of Islamic schools and seminaries have been opened or extended. Money for these activities have derived from Pakistan or drug-smuggling. Large quantities of heroin and hashish destined for Europe have been seized by Indian security forces on the IndoPak border. Together with the drugs come arms and explosives for the Muslim terrorists.

On August 14 1993, Islamic militants stopped a bus traveling from Kishtwar to Jammu, pulled out 16 Hindus who were aboard and shot them in cold blood.

 

REFERENCES

1. "Story of Civilization", W. Durant

 

2. "Taj Mahal-The True Story" P.N. Oak

3. "The Reign of Aurengzib" Sir Jadu Nath Sarkar.

4. In 1947, nearly a million Hindus and Sikhs were killed in West Pakistan, resulting in the flight of 6.5 miHion refugees to India.

5. "Genocide in East Pakistan/Bangladesh", S.K. Bhattacharyya.

6. ibid

7. A. Mascarenhas, London Sunday Times.

8. Newsweek.

9. Genocide in Bangladesh P13.

10. "The Advertiser" Adelaide, August 1991

11. P82 "Daughter of the East" Benazir Bhutto 12. ibid P97

13. ibid P175

14. ibid P231

15. bc cit

16. ibid P27

17. Amnesty International Report Jan.-Dec. 1988.

18. P219 "Daughter of the East"

19. P709 "Kashmir: The Storm Center Of The World."

Return to Top

 

 

Salman Rushdie

The late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran passed the sentence of death in absentia on Indian-born, Salman Rushdie, the writer of "The Satanic Verses

Muslim extremists have reacted violently against the novel and more than a dozen bookshops in Britain have been attacked. Book-burning has been witnessed on the British streets for probably the first time. Here the Muslims hold common ground with the Nazis who burnt books in Germany in 1933.

Many western readers would not have understood all facets of "The Satanic Verses", but having read this book, "The Wrath of Allah" you should have a better background to cope with Rushdie's work.

It is quite probable that the demonstrators and book-burners have not even read the book that they are condemning. In my opinion it is pleasing comical fiction and the writer has used Muhammad and his contemporaries quite cleverly as his characters. He had the right to do so being a British citizen and living under British Law.

In the West the laws of blasphemy mainly go by default. I certainly would not be prosecuted for saying that Jehovah was an irascible tribal god, that Jesus was a mere mortal or that his apostles might have been homosexuals who hallucinated on magic mushrooms. Let the gods stick up for themselves, for example by hurling bolts of lightning if they think that they or their prophets have been maligned. Adherents to the faith should not expect the state machine to interfere in religious matters. There should be freedom of speech for the non- religious as well as for the religious, for the person wanting a humanist society and not a sectarian one. In a free secular state, truth will sort itself out by a dialectical exchange of ideas. Humour and satire should be weapons in this intellectual debate for as much information can be traded by satirical as by serious works. Unfortunately Islam has ossified so that its tenets are not negotiable, with the result that they will just get more and more out of kilter with the West.

Rushdie claimed (1985) to be a non-Muslim and so is not bound by Shariah blasphemy laws. If he was born of Muslim parents then the Shariah does not allow him to leave Islam even in childhood. The penalty under Muslim law for apostasy is death. Did you know that Islamic leaders in Britain want Muslim religious law to rate as equal to existing British law? A British Pakistani father murdered his daughter for converting to a Jehovah's Witness. He would, of course, have been acquitted, under Shariah which the Muslim fundamentalists are trying to bring into England.

The aim of every Britisher should be to repeal out-of-date laws such as those dealing with blasphemy and to allow no further repressive laws to be added to the books. Indeed if human brotherhood means anything to us then we, through organizations such as Amnesty International, should help people in Muslim countries who run foul of the Shariah, in particular, the apostasy provisions.

The question of censorship is a vexed one. If Salman Rushdie had been advocating the violent overthrow of Islam then a court case would have been in order. As it was, I am sure that he was aiming at the evolutionary liberalization of theocracy by Muslims being able to laugh at the risible instead of taking themselves so seriously.

On 24 December 1990, Salman Rushdie met with six Muslim scholars and "embraced Islam". I have left my earlier comments unaltered as that was the situation before that date. Let us all hope that his days of hiding and worrying about a premature death are over.

As a Muslim modernist he may still have problems with the fundamentalists. Will he still ask: "are all the rules laid down at a religion's origin immutable for ever?"' or state that "no religion is any longer a sufficient basis for a society. The world has changed too much for that."2 or: "Terrible things are being done in the name of Islam"3 or "The Islamic revival is a throwback to medieval times".4

We trust that Salman Rushdie can maintain his modern outlook despite all the pressures that will be brought to bear on him. For example he stated that in multicultural societies such as India, secularism "is the only way of safeguarding the constitutional, civil, human and religious rights of minority groups"5 The opposite sectarian or communalist society could be dominated by the largest religion, in India's case, the Hindus.

In his essay on Stephen Hawking, Salman stated that the Professor has changed his mind on Genesis.6 "So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose that it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained... [with] ... neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place then for a creator"?7

I hope, Salman, that you have thought through what your position would be in the future if you ever wanted to change your mind on Creation. Apostasy II?

October 1993 As predicted, Salman has apostased from Islam. He is probably no worse off as his earlier conversion did not mitigate the fatwa against him. In 1991, the Japanese translator of "The Satanic Verses" was stabbed to death and the translator of the Italian version was knifed. A few days ago, his Norwegian publisher was shot twice in the back.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

1. "Imaginary Homelands" S. Rushdie P 400

2. ibid P387

3. ibidP375

4. ibid P373

5. ibid P3

6. ibid P263

7. "A Brief History of Time" S. Hawking P149

 

Return to Top

 

MALAYSIA

 

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation where Islamization is proceeding. The percentages of religious adherence is Muslim 49%, Christian 9%, Buddhist 17%, Hindu 7% and Confucian & Taoist 12%. Islam is the official religion and a number of laws give it precedence over the others. For example the import and sale of the Bible in Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) is prohibited as it is "considered prejudicial to the national interest and security of the Federation".'

Christian missionaries are barred from trying to convert Muslims and yet a non-Muslim minor can convert to Islam without the consent of his/her parents. Non-Muslim schools can only give religious instruction out of school hours and yet a dhimmi (non-Muslim) "may not object to his children receiving lessons in Islam in the public school because in so doing they are instructed in the ideology of the state "2

Dhimmis do not have the rights to be judges or administrators where the Shariah may be involved. They have the right to music and art in their own homes but the Islamic State has the duty to interfere where it poses a threat to public morals. Newsletters and pamphlets are subject to government restrictions unless they are labelled "For Members Only" or "Private Circulation". Christians are clamouring for land on which to build churches and for time on television and radio to carry out their activities.

While drug trafficking cannot be condoned, the legal murder of two young Australian men in 1986 was abhorrent. The Barlow-Chambers hangings and those of 140 others show the low esteem that Islam has for life.

Dr. Mahathir, the Malaysian Prime Minister was upset by the Australian TV series "Embassy", set in a fictional S E Asian country, "Ragaan". It showed some less savoury aspects of Islamic life such as the stoning to death of an adulteress but if Dr. Mahathir thinks that Ragaan is meant to portray Malaysia then some such dastardly deeds must have happened there. To expect that the Australian PM could control what is shown on television shows how Islamic states cannot understand democracy.

 

REFERENCES

 

1. "Christian Mission and Islamic Da'wah in Malaysia" Ghazali Basri, Nurin Enterprise Kuala Lumpur P23

2. ibid P59

 

 

Suharto

President Suharto is a devout Muslim and recently went on the pilgrimage to Mecca. Yet he was reported as saying, in the Adelaide "Advertiser" 23-9-91, on the eve of Prophet Muhammad's birthday that Indonesia will not become a Muslim State although the Government will continue to pursue policies promoting religion. Nearly 90 per cent of Indonesia's 180 million people follow Islam but President Suharto has strongly opposed pressures to make Islam the State religion.'

While it is numerically the largest Muslim nation in the world, the Indonesian ummah (community) is not highly regarded in Islamic circles. The reason is that Islamization was interrupted by the Dutch colonialists. Muslims were free to practise their own religion in the Netherlands East Indies but were not free to act politically and offensively against existing Hindu-Buddhists. The result is that the ummah can be divided into two groups; the Santri who are orthodox, pious Muslims and the Abangan who combine varying amounts of the Prophet's teachings with magic, animism and Hindu-Buddhist beliefs.2

For example, the young Suharto went for a while to live with Kiai Darjatmo, a religious teacher. He helped build a mosque and he studied the Qur'an. One of his tasks was to assist with the Dukun; a Qur'anic inscription is written on a leaf or piece of paper. The recipient soaks it in a glass of water which is drunk. This practice is undoubtedly an abangan legacy.3

The santri, of course, see the need to purify Islam in Indonesia and have organized fundamentalist groups to this end. President Sukarno and Suharto banned Muslim parties of the radical right which they believed would upset "Guided Democracy" in Indonesia. Wishing to please the United States, Suharto did not allow a theocratic Islamic Republic to replace his army-based government.

Nor did Suharto want a Chinese style "People's Democracy" to take over. By 1965 the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) had become the largest single party with over 50% support in some areas. President Sukarno was quite affable towards the PKI and it had sympathizers in the Armed Forces.

As the story goes, a group of generals was planning an anti-Sukarno coup for October 5th. On the night of September 30th 1965, Lt. Col. Untung and some other officers with the knowledge of D.N. Aidit a leader of the PKI launched a putsch and killed seven of the right-wing generals.

Suharto was spared because he was regarded as neutral. However he quickly took control of the situation and did not interfere when rampaging Muslim youths started to murder communists who had had nothing to do with the putsch.

Suharto saw his chance to remove the communist threat. Not only were the godless communists fit for jihad (holy war) but they were carrying out a land reform which would affect many of the richer santri. The killings were done with knives, clubs and firearms. Victims were dragged behind jeeps or set on fire. Pregnant women of the Gerwani (PKI Women's Front) had their foetuses cut to pieces. Bodies were buried or thrown into canals or rivers.

In Java, young Muslims were given weapons and weapon training by the army. In Bali, Suharto had to rely on disaffected Nationalist Party, PNI, groups. Elsewhere he even used some Christians, although the Catholic Church refused to join the "witch hunts" and some Catholics died as "PKI sympathizers

For months the massacres continued. It was rare for the communists to fight back; many went to their deaths in their white funeral clothes. In many cases whole families were murdered so that no one who opposed the killings would be left alive. Motives of jealousy and revenge were strong; you could literally lose your head because someone wanted your job. The army supplied lists of names; often they were just unionists who had agitated for wage increases, people who had subscribed to certain news-papers or someone who had signed a PKI petition.

The total death toll 1965-66 has been estimated at between half a million and a million. The figures were hard to compute but several hundred thousand widows indicate their veracity. Fifty thousand schoolteachers had to be replaced in Java alone. Empty dwellings similarly provided some evidence of the slaughter, and large numbers of Chinese businesses were closed down. The supply of Batik cloth and wood carvings dropped drastically during that period because many of the artists had been associated with Lekra, a left-wing cultural organization.

For some months Suharto "shared" power with Sukarno but he saw his way clear to end the dualism on 20th February 1967. Why did Suharto get others to do his dirty work? It is obvious that, rather than impose his New Order from above, he wanted to implicate as broad a section of the population as possible. The tens of thousands of civilian vigilantes involved in the bloodbath, ashamed of their participation, tried to put it out of their minds. As a topic of conversation, it was a no-no

Suharto made it plain that everyone had to have a religion. In the six years after the killings, an estimated 2.8 million people converted to Christianity. The Christians had, in the main, been free of guilt in the bloodbath. Also they had taken a good deal of pastoral care of the victims' and prisoners' families and of the remnants of the Left. In Java, numbers of abangan switched to Hinduism.

Some of the Muslim groups which Suharto no longer needed were banned. Nor did he condone Muslim attacks on Christian churches in 1967 when the latter were proselytizing in North Sumatra and South Sulawesi.

Islam alone did not benefit from Suharto's order; a former liberal humanist was not likely to choose the religion which had erased his friends and neighbours.

 

 

 

WEST PAPUA

 

In 1962 Dutch New Guinea was handed over to Indonesia and its name changed to Irian Jaya, Victorious Irian. The tribal people of West Papua had nothing in common with Indonesia except that they both had previously been ruled by Holland. They are Melanesians and not Indo-Malays and they live on a separate continent, Australia/PNG (Papua New Guinea).4 Their population, then about a million lived 4000 km from Java.

Sukarno ravaged West Papua; shops were looted, hospitals emptied, development projects abandoned and stripped for use in Java. The Papuan flag, anthem and political parties were banned, press and mail were censored, public meetings and movement of people were controlled.5

After Suharto's ascendancy in 1965, "Indonesianization" was accelerated. For example the government decided to establish an Indonesian school in Piramupan. The army rounded up all the children from the mission schools and forced them to attend the new school. In Agats, Father Smidt delivered a protest to the army whereupon he was shot on the spot.6

Resistance to Indonesian control was widespread and at one stage the OPM, Operasi Papua Merdeka (Free Papua Movement) occupied a huge area of their homeland. While Suharto was cleaning up the "thou-sands of gang members" (the uprising was not dignified as OPM by their oppressors), zealous Muslim officers went on a spree killing the villagers' pigs. The Muslims also were offended by the penis gourds on the Dani men and tried to force them to wear trousers. The Da'wah (conversion to Islam) is succeeding with some Irianese around Sorong and Fakfak. Pagan natives in the Piniai region were bayoneted, women through the vagina. The missionaries especially the Protestant fundamentalists, did little to protest, knowing that any criticism of the army would endanger their continued presence.

The UN had insisted on a referendum of the Irianese to test whether they wanted to be ruled by Indonesia. The "Act of Free Choice" in 1969 was a farce. The Indonesian concept of free choice was to assemble 1025 "representatives" of West Papua with Indonesian troops standing behind them. Instead of the democratic, one-man one-vote system they used "musyawarah" (consultation). The UN ratified the unanimous results; all the major countries so voted including, to our shame, the Australian delegates.

As a "peace offering" to the people of the Piniai region, Suharto sent in a batch of pigs from Bali, infected with tapeworm (taenia solium). For thousands of years the West Papuan pigs had been free of this disease. In the seven years until 1978, 25 per cent of the Ekari people had been infected by cysts in the brain and other organs. An anthropologist at the Queensland University, David C. Hyndman cites the cystericosis as biological warfare. A Catholic priest who attempted to import drugs to counter the disease was not allowed to do so and told to tell the natives to change their dietary habits.7

The population of Java increases by two million a year and it was planned to settle four million Javanese into Irian Jaya. The West Papuans would become a minority in their own country. To this end their lands were taken, villages destroyed by bombs and napalm, their leaders tortured and dropped from helicopters.8 But transmigrasi was not a success. The soil of Irian was, in the main, shallow and not the rich deep volcanic soil of Java. After cropping it for several years it was exhausted. By 1987 only 100,000 Javanese had settled there and they were in a bad way-most of their settlements had become slum outposts barely subsisting on handouts.

In 1985 the Sydney Morning Herald exposed the business interests of President Suharto's family-they had made over two billion dollars, in oil, gas, communications, plantations and timber. Villagers were conscripted to log the forests. Those who would not comply were beaten or killed. Denuding the forests prevented the Irianese from hunting or growing sago palms.

The exploitation of mineral wealth fr'om West Papua is becoming a considerable item in Indonesia's exports. Javanese have been success-fully brought into mining towns from which the Irianese have been excluded.

The destruction, human rights violations and loss of life has been successfully concealed from the rest of the world. Except for missionaries and mineral exploration teams, few Westerners have been allowed into the country. By September 1973, OPM announced that over 30,000 men, women and children had been killed by Indonesian troops while thousands had fled from towns and villages, many to join the guerrillas in the bush.9 Indonesian response, using US-supplied aircraft, has intensified. Bombings and strafings have brought the toll since the occupation to 1990 up to an estimated 100,000 Irianese (The Anti-Slavery Society thinks that "a figure of 300,000 would not appear to be an exaggeration."10 Over ten thousand West Papuans have crossed into PNG even though they are not welcome.

 

October 1993 On the night of 29th October, red-beret Indonesian soldiers crossed the border, penetrated 12 km into PNG and attacked Yapsie village in the West Sepik Province. Their Intelligence must have been faulty for the thirteen villagers killed were all Papua New Guinea citizens.

For years, Islamic countries have talked about Western imperialism and cultural aggression but what is happening in West Papua if it is not the most blatant colonialism?

 

 

EAST TIMOR

 

East Timor had been a colony of Portugal but the "father land's" fascist government was overthrown in 1974. Suharto saw his chance of bringing the whole of Timor under his control. To the shame of the Australian Labour Party, Gough Whitlam the Australian PM met President Suharto on 6th September and assured him that Australia would not oppose the integration of East Timor into Indonesia. In return, Australia would share the oil in the Timor Gap, on the Australian continental shelf close to Timor.

The Australian social-democrats, the ALP did not attempt to find common ground with the ASDT (Timorese Social Democratic Association) who were the leading political party in East Timor with approximately 60 per cent mass support. The other main parties which were formed after the coup were the right of centre UDT (Timorese Democratic Union) with 10 per cent popular support and Apodeti which campaigned for union with Indonesia and had about 5 per cent support, mainly from Dili's small Muslim population.

With independence very much on the agenda the ASDT expanded into Fretilin (the Frente Revolucionara do Timor L'Este Independente). Left of centre, it was a mass organization composed of liberals, democrats, priests, marxists and nationalists. Fretilin began an anti-illiteracy campaign and set up cooperatives. For some months it was in coalition with the UDT.

In October 1974, the Indonesian government launched Operasi Komodo (Operation Great Lizard). To annexe East Timor, they would first try to be invited in by Apodeti or conservative UDT elements. Military invasion would be a last resort. The "red peril" would be the reason given for any incursion. Fretilin saw the "writing on the wall" and started to prepare bases in the hinterland.

In August 1975, UDT reactionaries launched a coup in Dili, the capital of East Timor, to snatch power from the Portuguese and halt the growing popularity of Fretilin. The Portuguese withdrew from Dili and a few weeks later the UDT had to retreat into West (Indonesian) limor leaving Fretilin in control of East Timor.

Indonesian forces crossed the border on several occasions in October. On the 16th, five western journalists were killed by Indonesian troops in the East Timorese village of Balibo. They were dressed up in Portuguese uniforms, propped behind machine-guns and photographed. Suharto tried to say that the five were fighting for Fretilin and were "Australian communists"; they were, however, reporters for respectable capitalist TV stations.

On November 28th, Fretilin declared East Timor an independent state. Nine days later, using the communist threat as an excuse, Suharto officially invaded East Timor. At first the Apodeti and the UDT supported the Indonesian "Provisional Government" but as the death toll climbed to 60,000 the newly appointed governor, an Apodeti member, wrote to Suharto complaining about the killings. Rather belatedly the UDT tried to revolt against its Indonesian masters.

Dili's bishop, Mgr. Coste Lopez, later stated: "The soldiers who landed started killing everyone they could find. There were many dead bodies in the streets-all we could see were the soldiers killing, killing, killing.11 The soldiers had been told that they were fighting a jihad (Muslim holy war) against the communists. Entire families were shot for flying Fretilin flags on their homes or had grenades pitched into them. Indeed whole villages, for example Remexio and Aileu were slaughtered for supporting Fretilin. In Dili hundreds of Chinese were shot and thrown off the wharf into the sea. In Maubara and Luiquica, the entire Chinese populations were wiped out.

Nineteen ships were moored in Dili harbour to remove looted cars, radios, furniture, tractors and whatever else could be ransacked. Churches and the Seminary were looted and their books burnt.

Australian Consul to East Timor, James Dunn reported that East Timorese refugees were not even safe in West Timor: two thousand men, women and children had been burnt or shot to death at Lamaknan.

Most of the population left the towns and villages for the interior. Fretilin forces were swollen by 2500 regular troops from the former Portuguese army plus 7000 militia and 20,000 reservists, and were well-supplied with weapons that the Portuguese had left behind. Fretilin still held 80 percent of the countryside and were growing their own food in the base areas.

In the fringe areas Fretilin forces were fed and supplied information by the villagers. The Indonesians started to resettle those East Timorese and restrict their movements. So bad were these restrictions that food production dropped alarmingly and malnutrition was rampant. Near the Indonesian concentration camp at Aileu, female Timorese were forced to do heavy work in the rice-fields, completely naked, in the role of buffaloes.12

News was still getting through to the world via a transceiver operating near Darwin. The Australian government shut this down on the 29th September 1976.

By November 1976, the death toll had reached 100,000. The military focused on the more educated strata of Timorese seminarians, teachers, nurses and public officials.

To help root Fretilin out of the forests, America supplied Bronco OV-10 jets to the Indonesian Air Force. The US government condoned the brutality as it wanted to use the Ombai-Wetar straits for deep-sea submarine passage. British Aerospace sold eight Hawk ground-attack aircraft to the invaders; these planes are ideal to use against ground forces in difficult terrain. The US Government in turn sold sixteen A-4 counter-insurgency bombers to Indonesia. By 12th December 1978, the Fretilin radio station ceased operation and its forces appeared encircled and annihilated.

However a handful of Fretilin leaders managed to escape and, despite the dangers, new forces were able to rally around them. They obtained weapons and ammunition by raiding Indonesian outposts and, like the Phoenix, arose from the ashes. On 10-11th June 1980, the independence forces were able to engage the Indonesians for six hours at a TV relay station in Dili. The world knew that the insurgency was far from over.

The freedom fighters had lost 80 percent of their troops and 90 per cent of their weapons, and had to change their strategy. They formed continuously mobile units striking at Indonesian convoys and supply lines. Clandestine networks were re-established in all the villages.

Suharto introduced Operasi Keamanam (Operation Security); eighty thousand civilians from 8 to 50 years of age, poorly fed and subject to starvation, advanced across the island walking in front of soldiers so that Fretilin could not shoot at the army. The technique is known in Indonesia as Pagar Betis (fence of legs). The fence of legs was far from a complete success because the Timorese hid or assisted their comrades often at a cost to themselves. At Aitana, however, Suharto had 'a "field day". His troops encircled and murdered ten thousand old men, women and children who had been living in a liberated area.

In September 1981 at Lacluta, four hundred people were killed, mainly women and children. Indonesian soldiers took hold of babies' legs and smashed their heads against rocks. At Kraras two hundred elderly and sick were burnt alive in their homes. Sixty villagers of Malim Luro were bound and crushed to death by having a bulldozer driven over them.

At the concentration camp on Atauro island, the prisoners were given one small can of corn per person per week. They had to supplement this with leaves, roots or whatever else they could find. The children were "skin and bones" and, on the average, two died per day.

Punishment for listening to foreign broadcasts or speaking in Portuguese included beatings, burning with cigarettes on face and genitals, electric shock, the cutting of skin, the crushing of limbs, hanging by the feet, water immersion and the removal of toe nails.

Another example of barbarity was that of a student who was decapitated and his sexual organs stuffed into his mouth. In another instance two men suspected of being guerillas were stoned to death.

Many priests had moved to the hills with their flocks and were able to report on the Fretilin areas. "In January 1984, students from the Dare Seminary, near Dili presented a document to the Indonesian Bishops' Conference detailing massacres of children in Lospalos, Viqueque, Amoro and Sumalai" (12)

Priests were beaten, churches invaded and their congregations arrested. In an article in the Catholic Leader (Brisbane) titled "The Harassment of the Church in East Timor" in August 1984, it was claimed that the death toll since the Invasion now stood at over 200,000.

Prior to the Pope's visit to Dili in October 1989, the Indonesians took great pains to "pacify" the population. If the people should openly come out against their oppressors, "all the churches and objects of worship in the area will be destroyed."'4 The Pope addressed 100,000 people, above giant photographs of himself and President Suharto but tried not to offend his hosts. At the end of the mass, demonstrators called out for independence and the troops moved in. Those arrested were forced to confess that the ring-leaders were priests and students. Major Prabowo, Suharto's son-in-law stated that the church, the priests and the religious were the three factors which threatened East Timor's integration with Indonesia, and that: "the people must turn against them".

In 1973 there had been 463 primary schools in East Timor, mainly Catholic. As Indonesia could not readily ban these they set up an alternative system of 400 schools. In these all teaching was done in Indonesian, the local dialect and Portuguese banned, and the culture of Java emphasized. An hour per day was spent singing Indonesian national songs. It was compulsory to join Pramuka, the Indonesian Scouts Organization.

 

To reduce the Timorese population further each family was allowed to have only three children. If a women had a Caesarean section or other operation in the pelvic area, she would be sterilized. At the same time transmigrasi was commenced bringing in other ethnic groups.

The military officers set up monopolies. One of these, P.T.Denok Hernandes International, owned by two generals had the sole right to trade in coffee and even had the right to confiscate plantations. It moved into other export crops such as sandalwood, cumin, copra and cloves.

Other companies were set up involving, for example, President Suharto's half-brother Probosutedjo, the president's son Sugit Suharto, his wife Tien and his son-in-law Prabowo. These businesses get the cream of the government's contracts and licenses.

Suharto has assets greater than those of the late President Marcos of the Philippines and while "People Power" is perhaps too much to hope for in Indonesia, Suharto was seventy years of age on 8th June 1991. He may never stand trial for war crimes, corruption, profiteering and slavery but Prabowo could. He was personally involved in a small affair at Bere-Coli, Bacau when troops under his command shot twenty people dead in April 1989.

 

REFERENCES

 

1. "The Advertiser" (Adelaide) 23/9/91

2. "The Indonesian Killings: 1965-1966" P65

3. "The Smiling General: President Soeharto of Indonesia" P90

4. "Poisoned Arrows" P5

5. "The Rule of the Sword: The Story of West Irian" P16

6. "The Lost World of Irian Jaya" P225

7. "West Papua: The Obliteration of a People" P59

8. "West Papua: Plunder in Paradise" P15

9. ibid P66

10. ibid P83

11. "Indonesia's Forgotten War: The Hidden History of East Timor" P68

12. "Timor Information Service" October 1977

13. "Indonesia's Forgotten War" P149

14. Bishop Belo, "Independente" (Lisbon) 9/8/89

 

Return to Top