Identity, Equality, Unity
How would you describe someone distributing the antisemitic hoax ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ (purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination) in Nazi Germany when Hitler and his security forces were slaughtering six million European Jews (The Holocaust). Of course, that would tantamount to enabling further violence against innocent Jews.
Well, that is exactly what Tarek Fatah did only two days ago when he distributed a highly inflammatory video in which a few Shia youths were shown insulting the Prophet Muhammad’s wife Ayesha.
It is shocking to see Tarek Fatah using his Twitter and facebook page to promote the video clip (screenshot attached) that can only promote greater hatred against Shiite Muslims, and was duly reprimanded by both Sunni and Shia Muslims.
I do not want to reproduce that atrocious clip. Needless to say, it does not represent Shia practice in the mainstream. I also note that the clip was produced and distributed by an organization (MEMRI – the Middle East Media Research Institute, with headquarters located in Washington, DC) which claims ‘to inform the debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East’ and for ‘timely translations of Arabic, Persian, Urdu-Pashtu, and Turkish media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East’. I think MEMRI directors really need to set their priorities right instead of enabling further Shia genocide in Pakistan and other countries by distributing misleading and provocative videos.
Returning to Tarek Fatah, given his active interest in Pakistan, Middle East and the history of Islam, how could he remain oblivious to the extremely adverse implications of the video for Shiites, particularly for Shiites of Pakistan, who already face a slow-motion genocide. At least 19000 Shias have been killed in Pakistan by Saudi-sponsored Deobandi-Wahhabi militants because the killers consider Shiites as a deviant sect outside the pale of Islam; a Jewish (Sabai) conspiracy against Muslims. Fatah claims to be a friend of Jews while at the same time enabling hatred and massacre of ‘Jewish agents’ Shiites. See the irony?
Refer to this clip of Al Qaeda/Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader Malik Ishaq spreading hatred against Shia Muslims in Kabirwala, Pakistan (19 June 2012):
Is Fatah any different from LeJ’s Malik Ishaq?
Both are referring to isolated incidents that relate to criticism of certain historical personalities (by fringe elements) to incite hatred against all Shias without any distinction. Malik Ishaq is just more up front in his incitement. Usually this incitment leads to mass murder, especially in Pakistan. Pakistani expats, both of Shia and Sunni sect must take serious note of this incitment by Tarek Fatah.
As recent massacre of 22 Shia and 3 Sunni Muslims at Babusar pass by LeJ-Taliban extremists reveals, this sort of incitment is used to mass murder Shia Muslims and those Sunni Muslims who stood to protect their Shia brothers.
Under the prevailing circumstances, what made Fatah do something so reckless. Does he not realize the consequences of his act?
Here’s a response to such provocations by the LeJ-Al Qaeda leader Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi (son of Sipah-e-Sahaba founder (killed) Haq Nawaz Jhangvi|) who nakedly abuses all Shias by making them responsible for attacks on Ayesha:
By promoting incitement, Fatah shares indirect responsibility for the deaths of Shias who are daily killed by extremists – especially in Pakistan.
Overseas Pakistanis must take notice of this incitement and approach the law enforcement authorities, media and human rights organization and ask them to explore legal action against Fatah and expose his hate agenda against Shia Muslims.
They should write letters to TV channels, newspapers, community and government organizations to bar Fatah from presenting his selective discourse on human rights and his camouflaged hatred of Shias.
We recall that when pro-democracy activists were being brutally crushed by Saudi and Pakistani mercenaries in Bahrain, Fatah showed his true sectarian colours. For him, the entire issue was not the brutal suppression and killing of pro-democracy activists by the Khalifa regime – most of the victims being the indegenious Shias who have third class status in their own land. For Fatah, the violence in Bahrain was only about Shias killing Pakistani-Army drafted Baloch mercenaries. Using abusive methods as diversionary tactics, Fatah tried his best to distort the discourse on the pro-democracy struggle in Bahrain.
One or two selective instances of sporadic mob violence were misused by Fatah to make such spurious arguements. The news and facts by diverse media outlets, Amnesty International, Nickolas Kristof, Robert Fisk were conviniently ignored. Any attempt to engage with him on this resulted in being abused as Iranian Agents, Baloch killers, Arab-want-to-be and Anti-Jewish.
As for the video clip being used by Fatah, I would request Shia organizations in Europe, Canada, Australia, US and especially UK to investigate whether this distasteful and condemnable event was even staged by Shias. Such tiny events may have been staged to facilitate the ongoing Shia Genocide in Pakistan and also persecution and killing of Shias including and not limited to Indonesia, Malaysia, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Morocco and Turkey. These are all areas where Shias are being killed and targeted. If this video is staged to assist in incitment against Shias worldwide, legal recourse for hate crimes and slander may be explored against Tarek Fatah. If this is an isolated incident, it must be condemned by Shia Organizations worldwide as well as exploring incitment to murder charges against Fatah.
Shia Muslims have different views about historical incidents. This is common in all religions and social movements and Fatah should know.
The Prophet Muhammad’s wife Ayesha is immensely respected by Sunni and Salafi Muslims while Shiite views about her are varied because of her opposition to and battles with the fourth Muslim Caliph Ali. There are clear instructions by Shiite clerics that Ayesha and other holy figures of Sunni Islam may be respectfully criticized based on historical evidence, however, insulting or abusing Ayesha and others is declared haram (impermissible) by Shia religious scholars.
In his own book, Fatah talks precisely about historical differences between Sunnis and Shias and why Muslims must be open to diverse opinions and uphold the values of free speech in accepting criticism of their respective beliefs. Some of his historical accounts can even be viewed as sanitized, selective and apologetic from the Shia perspective. Still his work on topics such as moderation in religious practice, separation of Church and State and criticism of regressive Hudood practices are both valid and constructive.
What is problematic from his media output in general and the promotion of this clip in particular is his insensitive and simplistic slanders on Shia Muslims and presenting the extremists amongst Shias as on par as Salafi-Deobandi extremists. Such views are naive at best and sectarian at worst. Perhaps he was influenced to spread these kind of false binaries during the time he lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For many Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, Saudi Arabia funds Salafism that is intolerant of both sects and their cultural and spiritual practices.
It’s therefore no surprise that in a subsequent tweet, Fatah rationalized Shia genocide by blaming it on Shiiites practice of insulting holy personalities of Sunni Islam. How similar to Abu Musab Zarqawi, Malik Ishaq and Ahmed Ludhianvi!
It does not matter what Fatah’s religious background is or whether he comes from a Sunni, Shia or Salafi background. That is his personal business. The problem is with how Fatah (mis)uses his media presence to defame and incite murderous hatred against Shia Muslims. In this instance, his instrument is a clip where an unknown person with clearly malicious intent is provoking 6-7 small children to criticize one of the wives of the Holy Prophet nearly fourteen hundreds years after her death. This practice does not reflect mainstream Shia opinion and could very well be a fake event staged to incite Shia killings in places like Pakistan.
For someone who talks of everything under the sun and especially on wide ranging Muslim issues, Fatah cannot be oblivious to the implications of this incitement. The practice of being specifically critical of some caliphs and some of the wives of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is a fringe practice. Similarly the practice of cursing and abusing the Holy Prophet’s family and Shia and Sufi icon Imam Ali ibne Abu Talib is a fringe historical practice. This practice was instituted by Imam Ali’s political rival Caliph Muawiya ibne Abu Sufyan and ended with the Omayyad era. Moderate Muslims from both Shia and Sunnis generally quote the non-specific Quranic verse “May God’s blessings be removed from the nation of oppressors” to register their protest against acts of injustice committed by both Muslims and non-Muslims.
The Shia fringe that engages in this type of specific criticism – essentially invoking Lanaa i.e. revoking God’s blessings from certain acquaintances of the Holy Prophet and some of his latter wives – has been discouraged by the mainstream Ithna Ashari (Twelver Shias). Similarly the extremist Salafi and Deobandi sect that equates such criticism as blasphemy and punishable by death and pogrom represents a minority within the Deobandi and Salafi sects. However, due to the patronage of rich oil countries in the Gulf, this tiny fringe has become very powerful all over the world. Since the military dictatorship of General Zia in Pakistan, Salafi and Deobandi militias often kill Shias as collective punishment due to inflated and widely circulated actions of a fringe that engages in criticism. It is important to provide the context of this issue – something that would be well known to someone with the scholarship and media presence like Tarek Fatah.
This is all the more reason that the insensitive act by Fatah casts serious doubts on his otherwise commendable efforts for inter-faith harmony. We appreciate his work when he holds up the mirror to Muslims of all sects and asks them to confront their intolerance against other faiths and discard anti-Semetic conspiracy theories.
Pity then that when it comes to Shias who are being targetted by extremists of the muslim faith, Fatah is no different than a Saudi-funded Salafist Mullah!
Update: Apparently Tarek Fatah apologized in the comments section but the very next day attacked the very forum (Word Shia Forum) by stereotyping it as an Iranian blog. It’s a sorry state of affairs.