Islam will not change, Muslims will. – Taslima Nasreen

Islam will not change, Muslims will. - Taslima Nasreen

Islam will not change, Muslims will. – Taslima Nasreen

http://freethoughtblogs.com/taslima/2013/03/20/islam-will-not-change-muslims-will/

by Taslima Nasreen

Some ex-Muslims believe Islam is resistant to change. They think there are a few reasons why the Islamic tradition is more resistant to change and the creation of a secular liberal breathing space for adherents than many other religious traditions appear to be.

The reasons are:

(1)…. Islam has historically had an expansionist and political dimension.

It was formulated at a time of war and is completely embroiled in the Arab imperialistic ambitions of the time.

While there is war and brutality in the Old Testament, there is no call for global war – the conflicts are quite local. In effect Islam became a kind of meta-tribalism when it was formulated.

Also, orthodox Islam explicitly sees no distinction between the sacred and the secular: social spheres have to be patterned according to sacred dictates.

Contrast this with Christianity, in which Jesus reportedly tells his followers to render unto Caesar his due, and unto God his due.

(2)… Islam sees its core text, the Quran, as being, more or less, God incarnate.

What Jesus is to Christianity, the Quran is to Islam.

Jesus is the logos in Christianity, the Word-made-flesh, whereas in Islam, it is the Quran that is the logos, the Word-made-flesh.

This is problematic because it means that Muslims have a hard time accepting that parts of the Quran are highly situated in very specific temporal contexts. Add to this the idea that Islam believes it is the final religion and the Quran is therefore the final text for all time and all places, and you can see that the seeds of literalism are sown right into the orthodox, classical tradition itself.

By contrast the idea of an eternally infallible text is not found in Christianity (the Bible is considered inspired, but still the work of human minds) or in the Indian / Asian religions.

(3)… Islam has somehow gotten saddled with this arrogant claim of Muhammad being not only the final prophet, but also the best human being to have ever existed in human history.

This is in contrast to the prophets of Israel in the Old Testament, who are seen as being basically human beings dealing with the challenges of life and existence as best as they could.

My impression of Muhammad as a man is that he seems to have started off as a humble and honest merchant, but the second half of his life shows that some major transformation took place: he behaved no differently from an average Arab warlord of that era (not that I am judging it by modern-day ethical standards — just observing), and it looks like the military conquests, multiple wives and influx of concubines and slaves just went to his head.

Many people have pointed out the differences between the conciliatory Meccan and more aggressive Medinan suras of the Quran.

(4) Unlike Hinduism or Buddhism or other Eastern religions, it can be reduced to a single man and a single scripture.

The same is true for Christianity as well of course, and Judaism to a lesser extent. This kind of reductionism encourages a religion to be a more closed system and discourages diversity and pluralism.

(5) The traditional Sunni orthodoxy is anti-innovation to the core, and all new ideas are considered as the devil’s handiwork and to be approached as cautiously as possible.

This has caused Islam to stagnate remarkably and has prevented its growth or evolution in any meaningful way. Here even Christianity and Judaism are different from Islam and have shown some fairly strong progressive and innovative movements through the ages (most recently, witness the rise of Emergent Christianity under which even evangelicals are taking a post-modern turn, and Process Theology inspired by Alfred North Whitehead, a contemporary of Bertrand Russell).

(6) Every orthodoxy needs a heterodoxy to keep it from stagnating too much, and every heterodoxy needs an orthodoxy to keep it from becoming reckless.

This is true not just for religion but also for science and for virtually every human endeavor.

Whether we are conservative or liberal, the future terrifies us even as it beckons us, and it is just natural to want to regress to the comforts of what is stable and known no matter how stale it has become.

But the Sunni Islamic tradition has exaggerated this fear of the unknown to such monumental proportions that it has squashed freedom of expression and thus every single heterodox movement. The only “heterodoxy” that has survived is the Shi’ites, and they only differ with the Sunnis on doctrinal issues that don’t have much of a bearing as far as social realities go.

(7) Islam is, to my mind, the only religion in the world with developed orthodox doctrines on how to treat unbelievers and apostates, and convinced of its universalizing mission which can even be implemented by coercion.

In other words identity politics are built right into the orthodox Islamic tradition. This makes the radical politicization of Islam even more problematic and endangers all those who dare to question the received wisdom.

Christianity is also a universalizing, prosyletizing religion, but its imperialistic ambitions (a) were not really based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth who was nonviolent (see also the comment above about rendering unto Caesar his due and rendering unto God his); and (b) have largely been surrendered in today’s context.

( 8 ) There is hardly a female voice to be found in Islam.

Christianity still has the figure of the Virgin Mary and even Mary Magdalene in the non-canonical Gospels, as well as numerous female Christian saints. Christ definitely had a feminine side and used to take female disciples, which was revolutionary for his era. Some of the Hindu scriptures are partially authored by women, and likewise for Buddhism. Both Hinduism and Buddhism have Tantric schools that elevate women to the status of goddesses and also certain very spiritual schools of thought according to which experience is supposed to trump intellectual dogmas which has allowed them to evolve.

Some of the reasons are good but nothing can prevent religion or religious people from changing, reforming and evolving. I am more interested in modern humans than ancient religions.

Muslim rulers have been using Islam for their own interests, they keep people in ignorance, women in slavery, and allow the persecution of the people of different faiths. They do not allow criticism of Islam.

You suppress critical thinking means you suppress the ability to think clearly and rationally, to engage in reflective and independent thinking. If criticism of Islam is allowed in the Muslim countries, I believe many Muslims will become agnostic or atheists, or become secular and will ask for secular state, secular laws and secular education.

It is not true that Islam can not be changed, Islamic laws have been slightly or considerably reformed in many different Islamic countries. But this is not enough. Revolution is always better than reformation. It doesn’t matter how much you sugarcoat myths, myths will never be facts.

Ignorance about true Islam is one of the main reasons for most Muslims to resist changes in Islam. Changes happened in most of the Western countries because free thinkers were allowed to criticize churches, priests, and Christianity.

Educated and enlightened people in the Christian societies abolished religious rules, separated state and religion before other religious communities did.

We now see more non-religious people are in the Western Christian countries than in the Muslim countries. Muslim men and women whoever leave Islam or criticize Islam still get killed, harassed, tortured, exiled. But I do not think Muslims will take much time to be secular and liberal if Muslim rulers instead of talking action against the people who criticize Islam, take action against the religionists who violate other’s human rights and the right to freedom of expression.

Christians were not less violent than Muslims. If Christians can change themselves, Muslims can. They are all humans.

There is no need to make ancient religions evolve to modern religions. Religion will always have conflicts with rationality and science. Religious scriptures and religious laws are not compatible with the modern concepts of human rights, women’s rights and the laws that are based on equality. All religious scriptures are out of place, out of time. Religion alone is powerless. People have enormous power to make a religion survive for centuries, or to go extinct.

I am hopeful that someday Muslims will make Islam die out. Zeus, Poseidon, Hermes, Athena, Apollo, Neptune, Jupiter, Odin, Thor and thousands of gods died, Allah will die too.

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HINDU RATNA award conferred to Vishnu Hari Dalmia& Dr Subramanian Swamy at New Delhi

Hindu Help Line 2nd Anniversary launches Hindu News Network
hindu ratna award - 2

‘Hindu Ratna’ Awards are conferred upon Hindus doing great work for the society in the fields of Art Culture / Economics / Science & Tech / Law / Business / Agriculture etc. 2013 Hindu Ratna were conferred upon the noted Industrialist & Patron / Ex President of VHP Shri Vishnu Hari Dalmia ji and veteran Socio-Economic Thinker & Janata Party President Dr Subramanian Swamy. ‘Hindu Ratna’ has a specially designed classic Trophy & a beautiful Citation to accompany.

New Delhi, March 23, 2013: In a simple function in Delhi, Hindu Helpline celebrated its 2nd Anniversary. To help Hindus in emergencies related to Travel / Health / Admin / Legal/ Religion etc, HHL has a 24 X 7 Call Canter & so far over 10,000 Hindus have availed of the service.

Dr Subramanian Swamy & Dr Pravin Togadia on the dais of Hindu Help Line prog
A unique news system for Hindu news: Hindu News Network – a concept & initiative by Dr Pravin Togadia was launched at the function at the hands of Shri Dalmia ji, Dr Swamy & Dr Togadia. Hindu News now will be available on www,facebook.com/HinduNewsNetwork and http://www.hindunewsnetwork.org.

Hindu Help Line brings out a classic annual planner diary with important info. This year’s planner too was launched in the function.

Tripura’s Tribals presented a magnificent Tribal dance ‘Kojagiri Nrutya’ in the function & the Tribals who came all the way from Tripura for the function were felicitated with great zeal.

Speaking on the occasion, Hindu Ratna Shri Vishnu Hari Dalmia ji said, Hindi Help Line was the most needed initiative for Hindus. In day today life, Hindus face many problems & there was no organization to hold their hand in the times of such difficulties. I congratulate Dr Togadia ji & the team for Hindu Help Line.”

Hindu Ratna & Janata Party President Dr Subramanian Swamy in his usual electrifying speech, said, “India is Hindu Rashtra & Hindu Help Line is a significant step forward to take common Hindus along. For bigger issues, there are many organizations; but Hindu felt lonely in personal / social difficulties. Hindu Help Line has filled up that vacuum. It is time now that all Hindus come together to create a renaissance. ‘Hindu Ratna’ matters to me as a proud Hindu.”

Elaborating on the Hindu Help Line further, VHP International Working President Dr Pravin Togadia said, “Hindu Help Line is an emergency service for Hindus. Hindus from anywhere in Bharat can call Hindu Help Line Call Center 24 X 7 for emergencies in Travel / Health / Law / Admin etc. I am glad that over 10,000 Hindus got help in time. From Reaching lunch boxes to the relatives of the patients from remote villages who come to cities for medical treatment to making blood available & from giving an efficient legal aid to sending help to drought affected farmers, Hindu Help Line cares for Hindus. A lot more needs to be done & the Team HHL needs your support on the way ahead. I am glad to be able to get Shri Dalmia ji & Dr Swamy together here on the Hindu Help Line stage for ‘Hindu Ratna’.“

Launching the special Hindu News Network Face Book system & a news portal Dr Togadia said, “We had it in mind for long as most media – especially electronic media due to their own compulsions cannot reach detailed Hindu news all over. Hindu News Network Face Book Page, portal etc will be a great forum for Hindus to share their news & views even from the remotest village to the tribal belt to many Hindus settled abroad. It is a full-fledged news network with Breaking News, News Updates about happenings nationally & globally, Hindu Culture & Heritage. Science & Tech, Law, Interviews, Sports, Finance & all. There are Book Reviews & Film reviews. Hindu News Network is FOR HINDUS! Together, let us make a real & permanent difference now!”

Shri Ranjeet Natu, HHL President introduced the concept of the HHL Business Planner Diary during the launch.

Shri Champat Rai – VHP Intnl Gen. Secy, Shri Om Prakash ji Singhal, Shri Subhash ji Kapoor & other dignitaries were present on the dais at the HHL Anniversary. __________

Contact: Hindu Help Line: contacthhl@gmail.comhindu ratna award

spreading lies……

Outlook magazine defends Jamat e Islami of Bangladesh as not “guilty of sectarian violence against Hindus.
Writer of this article ‘S. N. M. Abdi’ is a political analyst for ‘TIMES NOW’ television channel.

Introduction of the columnist
http://opinion.bdnews24.com/s-n-m-abdi/

link of article
http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?284276

The Monster Breathes Air
The Jamaat-e-Islami isn’t all villainy. India needs to engage with this part of Bangladesh.

Truth About Jamaat

Labelled fundamentalist, the Jamaat (right, Jamaat leader Sayedee, who was sentenced to death after being held guilty for crimes in ’71) isn’t guilty of sectarian violence against Hindus
Hindus, often oppressed economically, have their lives secure
The BJI has relinquished its goal of establishing the ‘rule of Allah’; also promised to reserve 33 per cent organisational posts for women
***

The best thing about Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (BJI) is that it doesn’t kill Hindus simply because of their faith. To be honest, the Jamaat pales into insignificance before monstrous Hindutva outfits that regularly target Muslims in India. This is the plain truth about the much-maligned Islamic party next door. Of course, Indian and western media don’t allow facts to get in the way of a good story. In their coverage of the escalating unrest—the ongoing war crimes trials, the Shahbag Square protests, and the flaring up of tension after Jamaat leader Delwar Hossein Sayedee was sentenced to death over atrocities committed in 1971—the Jamaat is relentlessly dem­onised. The latest political turmoil has claimed 84 lives, mainly Jamaat cadres gunned down by security forces.

Outlook was on board the Boeing 747 President Pranab Mukherjee flew to Dhaka in even as Bangladesh literally bur­ned. Indian high commission offici­als sweating it out on the tarmac were relieved once ‘Big Brother’ had arrived in a Jumbo Jet. “The size of the aircraft matters, yaar. It sends the right message to the host, it exudes power,” a first secretary remarked smugly. But the ground situation in the capital city was so scary that when artillery pieces boomed in a ceremonial welcome for the Indian president, some in the entourage mistook it for police firing and were visibly shaken.

Anti-Jamaat demonstrations at Dhaka’s Shahbag Square by secular-liberal forces and spiralling countrywide violence has turned the spotlight on the BJI, which went on the offensive after February 28, when Sayedee was handed the death sentence. It’s an electoral ally of former PM Begum Khaleda Zia’s Ban­gladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), lab­elled anti-India, unlike Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League, widely perceived as pro-India. The two parties, backed by their coalition partners, are contenders for power in elections due next year, if they can agree upon the composition of a neutral interim administration—a con­stitutional requirement to ensure fair elections.

Even as the Awami League government takes on the Jamaat, does it constitute a clear and present threat to India? Jamaatis are con­spicuous even in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh, beca­use they sport a beard and a skull cap. But does wearing Islam on their sleeves turn them into sworn enemies of India, or Hindus, who comprise 10 per cent of Bangladesh’s population? Is the Jamaat anti-India, or anti-Hindu, or both?

Neither Indian diplomats in Dhaka nor Hindu community leaders can recall a murder of a Hindu for purely religious reasons in years. Hindus have been kil­led by BNP-Jamaat followers, but were essentially victims of political vendetta. They were targeted not as Hindus, but because they were perceived as adversa­ries owing allegiance to the Awami Lea­gue. It can be compared with political violence in West Bengal, where CPI(M)-Trinamool clashes reg­ularly claim lives of political workers—many of them Muslims, and from either party.

Indian diplomats in Dhaka or Hindu community leaders can’t recall a Hindu being killed for religious reasons.

A spokesman for the Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (HBCUC) told Outlook that an elderly priest of a Hindu temple in Banskhali near Chittagong was beaten to death hours after Sayedee was sentenced on February 28, but Ind­ian high commission officials insist that the death didn’t have religious overto­nes. Interestingly, in December 2012, a Hindu youth called Biswajit Das was killed in a union clash by members of the Awami League’s students’ wing, Chhatra League, in broad daylight. The 24-year-old victim was captured on camera scr­eaming that he was an apolitical Hindu. Biswajit’s gruesome, cold-bloo­ded mur­der has blotted the Awami League’s copybook.
Bangladeshi Hindus may not live under the shadow of the sword, but life for them is not a bed of roses either. The vicious attacks they suffer are economic in nature, but wreak havoc nonetheless. Their homes, shops and cultivable land are targeted, forcing them to migrate to India so that their properties can be appropriated. Hindu temples and women are special targets. The temples are desecrated, the women abd­ucted and married after conversion at gunpoint. Even so, the HBCUC spok­esman said that pogroms like Gujarat or Kok­rajhar against the minority community are inconceivable.

The Jamaat is a key constituent of the BNP-led alliance because its support is crucial in around 80 seats of the 345-strong Bangladesh parliament. And the Jamaat, despite its fundamentalist image, is hardly averse to change. At the election commission’s prodding, it amended its charter, bidding farewell to its goal of establishing the ‘rule of Allah’. And Hindutva poster girls like Sushma Swaraj, Shaina Chudasama, Nirmala Seetharaman, Smriti Irani and Meenakshi Lekhi would be delighted to know that the Jamaat has promised to reserve 33 per cent of organisational posts for women.

In September 2011, Manmohan Singh famously said that “25 per cent of Ban­gladeshis swear by the Jamaat, are very anti-Indian and are in the clutches of the isi”. However, a pertinent question: what has South Block done to win them over since? New Delhi refuses to have any truck with the Jamaat, and calls it a terrorist outfit in cahoots with Pakistan, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Indian diplomats have established formal contacts with all political parties in Bangladesh except the BJI. It’s doubtful if they even speak informally. The Jamaat remains a dark mystery for India which has no idea of what’s going on inside it.

It’s high time India plays ball with the Jamaat. America’s concern for the Jam­aat is pretty evident: it has even shrugged off gratuitous Indian advice to engage only with democratic and secular forces in New Delhi’s backyard. Wash­ington has questioned irregularities in the war crimes trials and told Dhaka that human rights violations won’t be tolerated. The US obviously sees the BJI as a key player in its plans to coronate Kha­leda Zia, even as India finalises its stra­tegy to ensure another term for Sheikh Hasina.

Nalgonda : VHP take back 139 practicing Christians to Hindu Dharma

Nalgonda (Andhra Pradesh) : In a news that awakens, 139 Christians from 34 families returned to Hinduism in a Paravartan, Ceremony held at Nalgonda of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday, December 30, 2012.

From 34 families, a total 139 people from 4 villages of Damaracherla and Nereduchela mandals. After receiving Hindu Deeksha, they returned to Hinduism from Christianity, who were victims of Conversion, said a VHP Functionary.

The Paravartan (A religious programme where the converted people returns to Hinduism) ceremony was organised by Vishwa Hindu Parishat, held in historical Agastestswara temple premises situated beside Krishna river of village Vadapally. The Chairman of Temple, Siddappa presided over the function. VHP’s central joint secretery G. Satyam, DPS Pranta President K Yellaiah, Buchaiah, B.Mallikarjun, Secretery, B S Murthy and Mahender Agarwal addressed the gathering. The priest of the temple blessed these 139 persons, who returned to Hinduism.

Lockets of Lord Hanuman, Framed photos of Lord Rama, and new cloths were distributed to them. There was a Sah-Pankti Bhojan (Having food together in a mass, without caste-creed barrier).converson

By RSS school, Saraswati Sishumandira, Muslim lady Anjum Ara became second IPS officer of Bharat

संघ के विद्यालय में पढ़ी
मुस्लिम लड़की बनी भारत की दुसरी महिला आईपीएस
…………………………………………………………………………

Second lady IPS

Second lady IPS


आजमगढ़ की अंजुम आरा ने देश की दूसरी मुस्लिम महिला आईपीएस बनने का गौरव हासिल किया है। अंजुम ने साबित किया है कि कठिन परिश्रम और पक्के इरादे हों तो कोई भी राह मुश्किल नहीं होती। उनके पैतृक गांव कम्हरिया में जश्न का माहौल है। इसके पहले मुंबई क…ी रहने वाली गुजरात कैडर की सारा रिज़वी पहली मुस्लिम महिला आइपीएस बनीं थी।

अंजुम हालांकि शहर में पढ़ी नहीं लेकिन उनके पिता अयूब शेख की शिक्षा-दीक्षा इसी गांव में हुई। वर्ष 1985 में पिता अयूब को ग्रामीण अभियंत्रण सेवा में अवर अभियंता की नौकरी मिली। पहली तैनाती सहारनपुर हुई तो वह वहीं बस गए। सहारनपुर में ही जन्मी अंजुम अपने भाइयों-बहनों में दूसरे नम्बर की है। अंजुम की प्राथमिक शिक्षा गंगोह स्थित सरस्वती शिशु मंदिर में हुई, इंटर सहारनपुर व स्नातक और बीटेक लखनऊ से किया। उसके बाद वह प्रशासनिक सेवा की तैयारियों में जुट गयी। कड़ी मेहनत के बाद उन्होंने आइपीएस-2011 बैच की परीक्षा उत्तीर्ण कर अपना मुकाम हासिल किया। अंजुम आरा को हिंदुस्तान की दूसरी मुस्लिम आइपीएस बनने का गौरव हासील हुआ है।

300 Schools are destroyed By Maoists Terrorists Between 2006 to 2009- United Nations Report

SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 9, No. 17, November 1, 2010

Maoists: Sabotaging the Future
Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sair/Archives/sair9/9_17.htm

Two students, aged 10 and 11 years, a woman employee and a villager were killed when a grenade landed in the classroom of a tribal school on the outskirts of Savargaon village on the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border on October 8, 2010. Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres lobbed the grenade into the school during the course of an encounter with Security Forces (SFs) close to the school building. Three SF personnel were also killed in the fighting.

Again, on October 28, one Police Constable was injured when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded while it was being defused near the Jordi School building under Madanpur Police Station in the Aurangabad District of Bihar. The bomb disposal squad had been called in after four bombs, planted by the Maoists, were found in the school. The remaining three other bombs were defused.

These are far from isolated incidents. According to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report, nearly 300 schools were reportedly blown up by Maoists between 2006 and 2009.

According to the Police, the Maoists have destroyed over 150 schools in Bihar, and 20 in Aurangabad District alone. An affidavit filed by the Chhattisgarh State Government in the Apex Court on April 14, 2008, had noted: “They (Naxals) destroyed 55 primary school buildings in the last three years.” H.R. Gourela, Deputy Commissioner of the Scheduled Tribe Welfare and Development Department of Narayanpur District in Chhattisgarh on October 19, 2009, had stated, “Under Narayanpur District, around 77 concrete buildings [schools] were either damaged or demolished. We are continuing schools in alternative buildings made of tin-sheds.”

On November 7, 2009, Chhattisgarh Education Department officials claimed that the Maoists, over the preceding two years, had set ablaze 80 school buildings in just the Dantewada and Bijapur Districts. A November 6, 2009, had noted that the Maoists had blown up more than 30 school buildings in Jharkhand over the preceding five years.

Partial data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management documents at least 109 school buildings destroyed by the Maoists since 2006. Of these, three incidents were reported in 2006; 22 in 2007; seven in 2008; and 59 in 2009. The Maoists have, thus far, blown up 18 schools in the year 2010 (till October 31). The largest number of these incidents was recorded in Jharkhand, at 45 schools blown up over these years; followed by Chhattisgarh, at 26; Bihar, at 22; Orissa at 15; and one in Maharashtra.

These attacks were principally carried out with IEDs known locally as ‘can bombs’ – metal cans packed with explosives. Reports indicate that the Maoists primarily used gelignite, dynamite, potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate and emulsion explosives in their attacks on the schools.

More worryingly, at least 24 teachers have been killed by the Maoists in 34 attacks on teachers during this period. Three students and two school employees were also killed in three separate attacks.

Attacking schools and educational properties is an integral element of Maoist strategy, at once destroying what is the central structure in most villages, creating widespread fear, demonstrating Maoist capacities and the infirmity of the state’s agencies, and, crucially, expanding the rebels’ recruitment pool of frustrated and idle youngsters. Human Rights Watch, in its December 9, 2009, report quoted a Government official as stating, “If they want to attack any Government infrastructure then a school building is very handy, because they are all over now… This is one place were the Government gives no resistance. If you attack a Police station, you will get resistance. But in a remote area a building with no security is very easy [to target].”

The Maoists, however, claim that they attack schools because these have become ‘police camps’. A CPI-Maoist Information Bulletin editorial in November 2008 thus claimed: “No school was destroyed by the Maoists if it was not used by the Police as its camp. You cannot show a single instance where we had destroyed a school that was really meant for education purpose.” Most attacks on schools have occurred in the night, to avoid innocent fatalities; nevertheless, a large proportion of Maoist attacks have destroyed schools in which there was no Police or Security Forces (SF) presence.

Worse, teacher absenteeism on the plea of Maoist violence has enormously compounded the direct disruption of the educational infrastructure with devastating consequences for the lives and prospects of thousands of school children. A December 20, 2009, report, for instance, said that hundreds of poor school children in Bihar’s Aurangabad District had appealed to CPI-Maoist cadres not to target or damage educational institutions. In an open letter to the Maoists, the school children urged the rebels not to deprive them of education by destroying their schools.

Meanwhile, the Government has taken some steps to undercut the Maoist justification for their attacks on the educational infrastructure. A May 22, 2010, report noted that the Jharkhand Police had vacated 28 of 43 schools previously occupied by SFs in Maoist-affected Districts of the State, and were in the process of vacating another 13. The Chhattisgarh Government, however, in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on October 27, 2010, conceded that, due to administrative exigencies and lack of infrastructure, it was housing SF personnel involved in anti-Maoist operations in 31 schools, ashrams (residential schools) and hostels. The Government, nevertheless, claimed that it had made alternate arrangements to ensure that the presence of troopers in these premises did not affect the education of children

The Maoists also extort money meant for school education and infrastructure. According to a July 23, 2009, report, the Maoists in Jharkhand were demanding money from schools from the grants received by them from the Government. In Latehar, they demanded INR 50,000 as ‘levy’ from a school and threatened dire consequences in case they were not paid the demanded amount. The school had been granted INR 6.3 million for construction and development of the school.

There are also allegations regarding the Maoists looting foodstuff meant for students of several State-run schools and hostels for tribal boys and girls located in remote areas. An August 29, 2009, report indicates that the Orissa Government asked Collectors of all the Maoist insurgency-affected Districts to verify such allegations. Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste Development Department Secretary Ashok Tripathy disclosed, “Letters have been sent to all the collectors to verify allegations that Maoists forcibly eat food meant for school children living in hostels.”

A February 2010 UNHCR Report titled Education Under Attack 2010 – India, gives a snapshot of the sheer range and virulence of disruptive Maoist actions against the education system:

Over the whole of 2009 at least 50 schools were attacked in Jharkhand and Bihar. Maoists torched the house of a parateacher in Chowka, Jharkhand, and beat him up. In April 2009, a boy in Mandar, Jharkhand, was reported to have been tortured for refusing to join the Naxalites’ children’s brigade. In Bihar, four schools were blown up and a generator was seized from one of them. In Chhattisgarh State, a 15-year-old student was shot three times and stabbed by Maoist guerrillas in front of his teacher and classmates after finishing an examination in March 2009.
These circumstances have been exploited for significant recruitment of child soldiers by the Maoists. The UNHCR Report thus notes that, in 2008,

In Chhattisgarh, Maoists were reported to have used children under 12 “in droves”. Children, aged 6 and above, were indoctrinated and trained as informers; then, from age 12, were recruited into the ranks and trained to use arms and explosives.
The report, however, also observes that, “Government-backed Salwa Judum vigilantes have used children to attack Naxalite-influenced villages, and state police have used child recruits for anti-Naxalite combing operations…”

The United Nations report on Children and Armed Conflict – 2010, moreover, expressed concern over the recruitment and use of minors by the Maoists in some Districts of Chhattisgarh, noting that there were credible reports that youngsters were being abducted and forcibly recruited from schools. The Report notes:

India’s National Human Rights Commission… stated in its submission to the Supreme Court in August 2008 that the Naxals forced many families to send at least one adolescent boy or girl to join their ranks. Other credible reports indicate that many children are abducted or forcibly recruited from schools. The Naxals have claimed that children were used only as messengers and informers, but have admitted that children were provided with training to use non-lethal and lethal weapons, including landmines.
Significantly, the West Bengal Police on August 6, 2010, intercepted seven van-loads of school children at Dahijuri who were on their way to Jhargram town to participate in a rally organised by the Maoists. The students from the Ranarani School at Andharia alleged that some unidentified persons forced them to attend the rally and had also arranged for the vehicles.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the Government has announced a ‘multi-pronged strategy’ that includes setting up of secondary schools, girl’s hostels and reconstruction of buildings damaged by extremists, to improve educational facilities in 35 Districts worst affected by Maoist activities. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has accorded ‘top priority’ to these districts under new schemes such as the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (National Secondary Education Campaign, RMSA), Model Schools and the Girls’ Hostel Programme. Under RMSA, which aims at universalising secondary education in the country by 2020, as many as 384 schools have been approved for these affected Districts in 2009-10. Similarly, under the Model Schools Programme, 32 schools, out of a total of 327 sanctioned in 2009-10, are located in these Districts. Another 21 model schools are to be set up in seven Maoist-affected districts of Chhattisgarh. 44 girls’ hostels have also been sanctioned for these 35 Districts. The Government categorised these as Special Focus Districts under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Universal Education Campaign) and has allocated additional funds for the creation of new primary schools, maintenance of existing infrastructure and providing other facilities. The expenditure on construction activities under these programmes can account for up to 50 per cent of the total funds allocated under the SSA in these Districts.

Unfortunately, unless the security situation improves dramatically, additional allocations and schemes will have little – if any – impact on the grounds and would, indeed, tend to augment the pool of extractable resources for Maoist extortion.

The Maoists have established their disruptive dominance across vast areas, and these have been transformed into an amorphous frontline of conflict in which the education, the prospects and the lives of children are routinely placed at risk.

Saudi Wahabis erase archaeological evidence of idol worshipping in Medina

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    The photos Saudi Arabia doesn’t want seen – and proof Islam’s most holy relics are being demolished in Mecca

    Archaeologists fear billion-pound development has led to destruction of key historical sites
    JEROME TAYLOR FRIDAY 15 MARCH 2013

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    The authorities in Saudi Arabia have begun dismantling some of the oldest sections of Islam’s most important mosque as part of a highly controversial multi-billion pound expansion.

    Photographs obtained by The Independent reveal how workers with drills and mechanical diggers have started demolishing some Ottoman and Abbasid sections on the eastern side of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.

    The building, which is also known as the Grand Mosque, is the holiest site in Islam because it contains the Kaaba – the point to which all Muslims face when praying. The columns are the last remaining sections of the mosque which date back more than a few hundred years and form the inner perimeter on the outskirts of the white marble floor surrounding the Kaaba.

    The new photos, taken over the last few weeks, have caused alarm among archaeologists and come as Prince Charles – a long-term supporter of preserving architectural heritage – flew into Saudi Arabia yesterday for a visit with the Duchess of Cornwall. The timing of his tour has been criticised by human rights campaigners after the Saudis shot seven men in public earlier this week despite major concerns about their trial and the fact that some of the men were juveniles at the time of their alleged crimes.

    Many of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns in Mecca were inscribed with intricate Arabic calligraphy marking the names of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions and key moments in his life. One column which is believed to have been ripped down is supposed to mark the spot where Muslims believe Muhammad began his heavenly journey on a winged horse, which took him to Jerusalem and heaven in a single night.

    To accommodate the ever increasing number of pilgrims heading to the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina each year the Saudi authorities have embarked upon a massive expansion project. Billions of pounds have been poured in to increase the capacity of the Masjid al-Haram and the Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina which marks where Muhammad is buried. King Abdullah has put the prominent Wahabi cleric and imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, in charge of the expansion while the Saudi Binladin Group – one of the country’s largest firms – has won the construction contract.

    While there is little disagreement over the need to expand, critics have accused the Saudi regime of wantonly disregarding the archaeological, historical and cultural heritage of Islam’s two holiest cities. In the last decade Mecca has been transformed from a dusty desert pilgrimage town into a gleaming metropolis of skyscrapers that tower over the Masjid al-Haram and are filled with a myriad of shopping malls, luxury apartments and five star hotels.

    But such a transformation has come at a cost. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca’s millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone. Dozens of key historical sites dating back to the birth of Islam have already been lost and there is a scramble among archaeologists and academics to try and encourage the authorities to preserve what little remains.

    Many senior Wahabis are vehemently against the preservation of historical Islamic sites that are linked to the prophet because they believe it encourages shirq – the sin of idol worshipping.

    But Dr Irfan al-Alawi, executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation which obtained the new photographs from inside the Grand Mosque, says the removal of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns will leave future generations of Muslims ignorant of their significance.

    “It matters because many of these columns signified certain areas of the mosque where the Prophet sat and prayed,” he said. “The historical record is being deleted. A new Muslim would never have a clue because there’s nothing marking these locations now. There are ways you could expand Mecca and Medina while protecting the historical heritage of the mosque itself and the surrounding sites.”

    There are signs that King Abdullah has listened to concerns about the historical destruction of Mecca and Medina. Last October The Independent revealed how new plans for the masjid an-Nabawi in Medina would result in the destruction of three of the world’s oldest mosques on the west hand side of the main complex. However new plans approved by King Abdullah last week appear to show a change of heart with the bulk of the expansion now slated to take place to the north of the Masjid an-Nabawi.

    However key sites are still at risk. The Independent has obtained a presentation used by the Saudis to illustrate how the expansion of Mecca’s main mosque will look. In one of the slides it is clear that the Bayt al-Mawlid, an area which is believed to be the house where Muhammad was born in, will have to be removed unless plans change.

    The Independent asked the Saudi Embassy in London a number of questions about the expansion plans and why more was not being done to preserve key historical sites. They replied: “Thank you for calling, but no comment.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/the-photos-saudi-arabia-doesnt-want-seen–and-proof-islams-most-holy-relics-are-being-demolished-in-mecca-8536968.html