About OUFI

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London, United Kingdom
Welcome to my Blog. This Blog provides a platform for free expressions on issues of importance that appeal to the independent mind. Matters of political, moral and social concern, that may agree with or contravenes our free and well-intentioned thinking, have free reign on this blog. Friends and colleagues can express and respect different opinions on current or historical issues that at times may run counter to established worldview. “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.” - Voltaire

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Regents Park London

Regents Park London.  A tiny beautiful oasis is sitting in the heart of this great capital city.   

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Iraq, One Nation One State

Let us try to define what a Nation is.  From the many definitions, I have come across this is the best: “a human group willing to forming a community, sharing a common culture, attached to a clearly demarcated territory, having a shared past and a common project for the future and claiming the right to rule itself’. I also add; with enough determination for self-determination for the right to State sovereignty.  So awareness, territory, history and culture, language and religion all matter.  In my reckoning aside from the Pluralistic religious beliefs that existed in Iraq that definition is well suited with the construct assigned to those people who found themselves within those lines drawn on the map by François Georges-Picot and Mark Sykes when they divided the Ottoman territories at the turn of the 20th century. The three million people of Iraq were to be identified as such because they happen to live within these lines assigned to them.  Literally, at the stroke of a pen, forefathers of present-day people of Iraq acquired a history and became the distant relatives of people of great learning who lived thousands of years ago; they acquired a new identity they became the inheritors of Babylon, one of the greatest civilisation of the Ancient world.   That was a hundred years ago. However, a vital question needs to be answered: what qualities the descendants were supposed to have to look after such a privilege and to live up to the responsibility to regain the glory of their newly assigned ancient past.

The gates of Babylon opened for Alexander the Great, riding his royal chariot.  In around 330 BC,  he was to become the heir to the King of Babylon which marked the first and most crucial step in his progress to becoming the wealthiest man in the world.  Babylon and its farmlands, its fertile crescent could feed the prodigalities of Kings.  The City itself was a treasure trove, a reward of unimagined value.    A moment of glory so momentous that it surpassed any of his victories.  For two centuries earlier it was the Capital of the unjust and ungodly Persian empire, its masters, which had robbed it of its riches only used it as a source of slaves, Eunuchs and concubines.  Alexander, under his authority, restored the old temples, back to the glory days of its founder Nebuchadnezzar, made it shine like a jewel with gilded Lebanon cedar and cover the temples floors and the Ishtar Gates with inlaid red gold.

What went wrong? I don’t believe that anything went wrong, but those Iraq forefathers had the wrong makeup and were distinctively different not merited to be assigned a nation of such magnitude.  The British Authorities holders of the mandate at the time were out of their depth how to go about building a country of so many disparate people.  Although the population shared an Arab cultural background but were made up of diverse ethnic origins, different religions splintered across confessional lines and a plethora of social customs that were not likely to blend in any readily identifiable form or into any cohesive community.  State building was a more comfortable option; hoped to be the catalyst that will eventually pull people together.   Iraq as a new manufactured country with its new fancy zigzagged lines may have won its people a Nationality but lost them their Nation. The inhabitants had a Nation without a State but ended up with a State without a Nation.  

Unfortunately, even after the 1932 independence of Iraq, nation-building was elusive and placed on the back burner, and to this day Iraq is a State without a Nation.  Worse, the new generation has not fared any better.  A Nation living in such as none-State would lack legitimacy cease to be worthy of self-determination.  Nationalism, the most potent principle of political legitimacy in the modern world, coming together when the nation is collectively and freely institutionally express their willingness to be ruled by its co-nationals.  Without such fires of Nationalism efforts to integrate into a melting pot of a multi-racial and multi-ethnic state would be futile and as such this has characterised and blighted the history of Iraq for the last hundred years.  Iraq has ended up in double trouble; with power relations between 'racialised ethnicities' and 'ethnicized races.'

To give some credence to this tongue twister, people of Iraq have become acculturated to the values, norms and language towards accepting a cultural pluralism in their midst.  Some of whom structurally identify with a dominant society in an Arabised form within their particular ethnicity. A rather complicated set of values easily and instinctively go to undermine efforts of reaching out to socio-political cohesiveness and cultural pluralism.  As if inherently resisting the temptations to belong, to stand at odds with the cultural status quo.  While others, misjudging race with ethnicity and despite their generational legacy of Arab language and culture refuse to call themselves Arabs.  

Streaming of Nationalism means at some stage ethnic groups would eventually assimilate, however, this does not mean that the new identity is a melting pot that belongs to a homogenous Iraqi cultural identity.  Groups lose their language and customs, but ethnicity continues to be recreated in a new form of identification that is neither a melting pot nor a simple repetition of their communities of origin’s ethnicity.  Once assimilated the residual of the original culture identity eradicated as well as any discriminatory obstacles that could affect their successful incorporation. Ethnicity continues but in a new form of identity groups that emerges out of shared political interests.  They become interested groups that deliver political power which eventually translates into economic gains leading to upward mobility for the whole community. 

Unlike, say the Kurds, Christians were faced with religious discriminatory experiences obstacles that have a marked effect on cultural integration into the political mainstream. The identity of a group become religionised.  Names are giveaway identity subject to the State-centric origination of discriminatory influences conditioning attitudes that invariably must cause societal cultured dissimilation a sort of institutional barriers that will articulate the relationship within the society and to large extent receptions in the job market for example.  As a group of different ethnic backgrounds, Iraqi people are no longer racialised but draw their identity from their structural ethnic dynamics in building the framework to their cultural belonging. A socio-political mode of incorporation hitherto governed by discriminatory institutional barriers by any one dominant group be they Sunni or Shia.  It is, therefore, a question for the government to interfere not so much of a nanny state but, to some degree, regulate citizen education, language, culture, sport, travel and so on, and by so doing they establish and reinforce some ‘national’ attributes and discourage others.  Nation building must go hand in hand with State building working towards an ideology of nationalism rather than be shoehorning towards it. 

Nationalism in patriotic form obscures religion pushing it back to secondary status to the point it becomes a redundant principle of a stable and legitimate political order and to challenge archaic traditionalist conservatism.   I further add that Nationalism is the sine qua non in establishing legitimate political order ahead of Law, Reason, Utility, material prosperity and social justice all relegated to secondary principles.  Nationalism would finally wipe away influences of the primordial tribal orders. The Nation of Iraq becomes for many the substantive and ultimate value to which all political and ethical actions remain subordinate. 

States bent on extinguishing smouldering flames of ethnic enmity without the drastic surgery of secession or confederacy need to ensure the citizens of Iraq to live free from foreign influences or domination.  To implement principles of self-determination before any ideas that are territorial in character but more social in scope. Prioritising a roadmap for unions between its peoples, as well as an approach to issues of national identity and rights that differentiate between nationality and state citizenship. A states-plus-nations framework dampens enthusiasm for territorial compromises; it widens the menu of options when secession changes may not be in the best interest or when they are altogether ruled out. 

If the May 2018 polling comes to mean anything it needs to fuse the ethnic divide that still overrules the national identity.  There is, however, a tangible new sense of Iraqi nationalism creeping in and there are signs of a decisive shift away from the corrosive ethnosectarian voting. The commonality and a sharing of culture to go beyond the ideological barriers; religious and instinctive undertaking only to bond with the fellow religionist.  Instead, the new generation should be the nation builders collectively solidifying bondage and kinship through the history they have in common.  The Babylonians were their ancestors even though there is a strong element of exogenous variables such as outside ethnicity the endogenous ethnicity cannot be denied a place. 

Maps have proved to be a vital part of ‘imagining’ a nation, in quite a literal sense, creating a visual ‘image’ of a nation as a state. Nation-builders know this fact all too well, but they need to develop inside the borders the social contract to bypass the traditional bipartisan and religious prejudices and not to get stuck in orthodoxies which increasingly look out of date.  Essentially to allow for a centripetal ingredient to stand in opposition to the marginalising centrifugal forces that try to undermine the nature of the social weave within the fabric of a nation.  Iraq has had more than its fair share of killing and destruction; the name has become synonymous with, violence and all kinds of atrocities and no longer lures loyalty, an empathy much soiled by self-inflicted dishonour. Colonialism left Iraq a nation divided, so it has remained an inorganic entity with its people void of kinship beyond family ties or religious affiliations.  A dire need for a new culture a new sociological layering to heal fragments that exist among its religious diversities.  To grasp at Nationalism by a rebirth of the past to establish citizenship in a search for a National Identity and self-determination.  The historical greatness of Babylon is never in doubt, so such pedigree needs to vouchsafe this legitimacy in the lineage Iraqi people inherited to continue this honourable line of descent and to recapture the greatness, after all, the people of Iraq are appointees to a great sovereign Nation.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Iran, end of a nation.

An interesting read for those interested in Middle East Politics.  Put another way for those interested to read about American design and cunning objectives for that area.  Regime change in Iran is a final objective of civil unrest that would also mark an end of an era and a once great civilisation.  A regime change by motivating the minorities groups and stirring ethnic differences,  we could end up with another Syria.  Of course, such changes could also mean yet another refugee crisis but this time at Iraq's door destabilising the government there just when that country is seeing peace at last. 

They destroyed Iraq, Syria, Libya but now the neocon's strategy turning to bombing Iran.  The US is hell-bent on annihilating the Arab Muslim world. 

MEK will soon be the new name on the block.  Hitherto recognised as a terrorist organisation, any time now will be a Government in exile and by 2019 if CIA and Mossad strategies go to plan will be the government in Tehran. This scheme is official all planned out in US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s Plan B and set to go.  One effect of Internal agitation would also mean almost immediate stop of further Iranian military investments in neighbouring countries. 

The costs in human lives in bringing that about would be literally incalculable since morality must not be allowed to interfere in politics so thousands of Muslim refugees would be another sad chapter.  Besides, all of this fits so well with plans welcomed by Trump drawn by Netanyahu and the Likud party fanatics—hardcore Zionists.

I've said my piece now read-on this eye-popping article.

"John Bolton’s Plan B Now Operational
Posted on May 11, 2018May 11, 2018 by Kurt Nimmo

President Trump’s trashing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, missile development, or even Iran’s supposed role as the world’s top sponsor of terror. It’s about squeezing the Iranian economy with harsh sanctions. It’s about making the people of Iran scream. It’s about overthrowing the mullahs and installing the Mujahedeen Khalq—MEK for short— also known as the People's Mujahedeen.

Last year John Bolton, now Trump’s right-hand man on foreign policy, told a gathering of MEK supporters the organization—formerly listed as a terrorist group—is a “viable” alternative to the current government in Iran.
Bolton said MEK will rule in Iran “before 2019.” He said this before becoming Trump’s national security adviser.

Now that he is Trump’s man, Plan B—as opposed to Plan A, bombing the hell out of Iran—can proceed.

A few days ago, prior to Trump dumping the deal, Rudy Giuliani told an associated MEK group the United States now has “a president who is as committed to regime change as we are.” Now we have a carefully timed National Security Council document detailing a plan to overthrow the Iranian government by strangling its economy—think Iraq during the Clinton administration when 500,000 children died—and agitating its ethnic minorities and encouraging their separatist demands.

“The plan, authored by the Security Studies Group, or SSG, a national security think-tank that has close ties to senior White House national security officials, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, seeks to reshape longstanding American foreign policy toward Iran by emphasizing an explicit policy of regime change, something the Obama administration opposed when popular protests gripped Iran in 2009,” the Washington Free Beacon reports.

“It deemphasizes U.S military intervention, instead focusing on a series of moves to embolden an Iranian population that has increasingly grown angry at the ruling regime for its heavy investments in military adventurism across the region.”
“More than one-third of Iran’s population is minority groups, many of whom already seek independence,” the paper explains. “U.S. support for these independence movements, both overt and covert, could force the regime to focus attention on them and limit its ability to conduct other malign activities.”

Iran’s ethnic minorities include Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Lurs, Mazandaranis and Gilakis, Arabs, Balochi, and Turkmens. Making trouble in these restive communities is a speciality of the CIA and Israeli intelligence. It is standard knowledge there is a close relationship between MEK and Mossad. In 2012, US officials confirmed Israel has funded and trained Iranian dissidents to kill the country’s nuclear scientists.

For more than a decade, ethnic discontent has been stirred up along Iran’s borders, resulting in assassinations of government officials and terrorist a_acks. Kurds, Azeris, Ahwazi Arabs, and Baluchis are primarily responsible for these attacks on the government.

In 2007, The Sunday Telegraph reported funding for separatist operations is provided by the CIA and it is “no great secret,” according to a high-ranking CIA official.
The “attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran’s ethnic minorities to destabilize the Iranian regime,” Fred Burton, a former US state department counter-terrorism agent, told the newspaper.

Imagine Russia funding and training Aztlán separatists to kill US government officials and conduct terrorist bombings in the American Southwest as part of a plan to fragment the country and destabilize the central government. This is precisely what the United States has attempted to do for more than a decade in Iran.

Now that John Bolton and Benjamin Netanyahu are calling the shots on foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East, we can expect this destabilization campaign to get a huge injection of steroids.

The result will be civil strife, a government crackdown, and possibly thousands of Iranians killed in order to elevate the MEK cult—a band of former Marxists who killed Americans—so they will do take orders from the United States and Israel."

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Agony of Iraq

Iraq, its death seems an easier option; 
substituting the pain of life to the peaceful stillness of sleep.

Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE) was the most famous king of Babylon.  Under his reign, the city became one of the most powerful and influential in all of Mesopotamia, a centre of one of the most culturally and intellectually vibrant civilisations of the ancient world.  Hammurabi’s law codes are well known, he implemented policies that encouraged peace and prosperity. Engaged in great public works which included opulent temples and canals, and made diplomacy an integral part of his administration.  By 1755BCE, he had united all of Mesopotamia under the rule of Babylon which, at this time, was the largest city in the world.  Its power and glory made it the nucleus of Ancient Middle East attracted constant invasions by the Kings of Persia, survived the Persian wars and became the glittering Eastern capital of the largest empire the world had ever known - The Land of Two Rivers. It was Alexander the Great ultimate prize, called it Mesopotamia having secured its most magnificent treasury in the world. He saw to it that his marriage celebration to a local girl, Roxana, held on this paradise on earth.  Today Babylon along with his tomb lie in ruins 59 miles south-west of Baghdad.

Baghdad was no less influential during Islam Golden Age.  Under the rule of Abbasid Caliphate, last half of 8th century it became the seat of learning and culture and where Islam together with the Arabic language matured and came of age.  Following the rule of Harun Al-Rashid who died around 800, Baghdad underwent a series of civil wars and resumption of wars with the Byzantines. No sooner than it was under Seljuq military control (945 -1118) the 1250's saw Baghdad subjected to yet another invasion this time by the Mongols that ransacked the great city in a rampage of torture, and mass slaughter ending Baghdad Abbassid influences and with it the Islamic golden age.   Mamluk and Ottoman invasion soon followed until of course the break up of the Ottoman Empire by then Baghdad was reduced to mere vilayet status mandated and colonised, to Britain in 1922 under the Anglo-Iraqi treaty.     

This spiral of invasion and violence does not end there Baghdad's appetite for pain not yet satisfied. For over a century Iraq, a crumbling mess within, has imprisoned itself by that insatiable and instinctive desire for bloodshed and violence. Countries build walls to keep their enemies out, Iraq placed barbed wire walls to maintain the pain of vengeance, animosities and hostilities on the inside in the shape of civil wars, revolutions, and invasions.

British mandate was not an insurance policy for peace or modernity inside this troubled country.  The military discipline that spurred this incursion was short lived and proved expensive for the British Government.  Britain lacked the resources to redefine the country and its inhabitants after centuries of oppressive rule.  Sectarianism between the Shia and the Sunni population was granted its temporary respite to live in the shadows. Defeating this Imperialist Christian foreign influence was the primary objectives.  When the light finally about to shine it was too late, the 1958 revolution ensured Iraq was back in the long dark tunnel but this time completely blinded by the revolutionary zeal that finally ended British influence. The revolution was to mark a backlash to anything resembling modernity - it was a people's tragedy.  Coupe de'tat followed in succession and series of assassinations and purging that followed or preceded these incendiary devices was the natural order of things.   The Gulf war of 1990 capped an old type of turmoil but started a new more vicious terrorising war beginning with the American invasion of 2003.  Perhaps that was the last foreign damaging call, from then on was left for Iraqis to carry on with the dirty work of self-destruction, using religion as a weapon. Sectarianism came back with a vengeance.

Where to now, with Mosul in its last stages towards its final liberation after three years of ISIS rule, perhaps seeing the end of beheading, rape and pillage that marked their years in power over that historic world renowned city.  The shape of things to come is not that pretty because there is yet worse to come.  Since Mosul and neighbouring areas sit on an ocean of oil, the end of one type of violence very likely means the beginning of another, made more palpable since all participants and the regional powers are plagued with corruption and distrust.  Also in that arena of war, a lust for hegemony and influence use of treachery and backstabbing serve a greater purpose than alliances adding a local resonance that  'rival allies' is not an oxymoron. 

Finally, in July of this year, Iraq Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi standing among the ruins of Mosul proclaimed the inevitable conclusion; Mosul is now free while issuing restraining orders to keep the militias at bay, fear from vengeance and sectarianism.  In words of one soldier, "we killed them all [...] Daesh, men, women and children.  We killed everyone.  Strewn across the rubble hundreds of corpses lie half-buried in the collapsed brickwork the remainder of once historic buildings.  The stench of their decay in the 50c summer heat is more than one can stand.  Hideous sites of putrefying body parts sticking out from the rubble.  In the words of one Army major "we killed anything that moved [...] it was not the right thing to do at all. Most of the Daesh fighters surrendered.  They gave themselves up, and we just killed them." " The soldiers become inured to the landscape of death over which they now move around.  The brutality of protracted conflict and the barbarity of their enemy has taken its toll on the Iraqi armed forces.  There is little humanity left. That's how wars affect the lives of ‘ordinary’ people, both combatants and noncombatants. In addition to such fear-inducing new ISIS tactics of urban warfare, wherever they were, most soldiers had to contend with dirt, vermin, hunger, exhaustion and deadly diseases. The end of a war and its aftermath produce hardened soldiers used to killing and shedding blood, they become hard to control, and some would regret the end of the fighting and soldiers would continue to die from their injuries.   

As for the civilian population, liberation has come at significant cost.  What is left of their shattered lives, having experienced rape, pillage and destruction by ISIS members they now have to face a new ordeal.  The psychological trauma, seeing their houses destroyed their lives turned upside down will haunt them for the rest of their lives.  Fear and apprehension mark only their existence, life having escaped them long ago.  Roughly 20,000 homes have been destroyed including the old University Library, schools and hospitals.  A tortured city not unlike Dresden, Germany when the allied army carpet bombed that city in 1945.  Thousands killed, almost a million inhabitants have been displaced. People of all walks of life now imprisoned in a refugee camp without life savings, possession or anything they call their own. People, many of whom educated and affluent now forming part of a moribund society.   Human relief efforts can't come fast enough, witnesses speak of "here, no hope, no water, no food" in a city experiencing its apocalypse.   

The human catastrophe goes on as the political map is being re drawn.  Conflicts of civilisation, nationalism, culturalism, irredentism and secessionists, as well as tribalists, would be ingredients for the upcoming regional wars.  Iraq, Turkey, Iran, the Kurds, USA, Russia and last but not least ISIL in the shape of Jihadist resurgence and their backers, are core agents then there are the smaller factions followed by their affiliates, elbowing each other for a territorial slice or at least a share of the black gold. The tension caused among their objectives is alarming since Iraq continuous to be torn apart prolonging its agony; an ensuing sectarianism and religious strife.  The State rules without rules and the people are ignored when they should be placed in front and centre when the nation is crying out for peace. Fanning the flames of this tortured land are its guardians, feigning authority, pursuing their personal interests on standby at the edges ready to flesh out the titbits like vultures stripping the skeleton bare.

It was not supposed to be this way.

Nietzsche's first work was 'The Birth of Tragedy' there he argued that the Greeks were “keenly aware of the terrors and horrors of existence”.  In reply to what is the most desirable of all, “What is best of all is utterly beyond your reach: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second best for you is – to die soon”. Here lies Iraq was once known as Babylon, the greatest city on earth, its first mistake was to be born.   

Further reading:

Warning: Shocking report from the last days of the war.   

Report of war crimes:

For further reading:

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Information Revolution

There is no doubt we are going through a phase of post-privacy culture.  Whether you like it or not, in George Orwell words "big brother" is watching you.  This investigation will try to examine the internet platform, ways and means the new technology that is controlling our lives and causing public outrage. People are being monitored and regulated by just sending an email or ordering a burger on their smartphone. Each one of us is part of the larger community continually being watched, guided and controlled by one or more agents in cyberspace.  In short, all of us reduced to data for profit-making by the likes of search engines and social media organisations.  Cyberspace capitalism; by the use of an algorithm, primarily a tool coding our opinions, programmed to predict what you eat, drink, mathematically energised to think for you, anticipating your likes and dislikes. Technology now and increasingly in the future, means we can look forward to being fine-tuned to products we most likely to buy. That goes for anything from chocolate Sundays to Porn, from sex slaves to religious extremism and how to make bombs to kill off a crowd you don't like the look off. In fact, in an open cyberspace, anything goes on the internet and when least expected.

Many freely give information about themselves, data that can later be used to measure their psychology, in this case, up to 6 million people volunteered information to build the richest database of psychological profiles in the world.  Advanced technology takes us to the point where we will be controlled by robots since robots are taking over they are programmed to the next step: make their own programming, working out endless mathematical formulas for a more complicated algorithm for an efficient human siege.  Their only possible flaw would be, lacking corrections of embodied human bias but left free to formulate their own prejudices.  Science fiction this ain't so!

Ideas one has of The Industrial revolution arguably the start of our modern age one thinks of oily machinery powered by steam power billowing their hydrocarbons; killing the atmosphere with their pungent smells polluting the air people breathe. Such was the technology that served us in wars and built our infrastructure. In the last twenty years, we had embarked on clean digital technology that moves faster, more efficient and requires fewer people to operate fuelled by data piped into thousands of computers housed in unassuming buildings called data centres.  The value they produce is global wealth to power our economy for our modern age - replacing oil for data.  A new infrastructure that takes in new business, economics and politics all of which make up the invisible hands that orchestrate our actions.  The future infrastructures may not be the Centralities of Nation States but if not broken up, will be the giant digital companies storing databases of personal information such as age, sex, income, photos, video and emails to analyse, predict and anticipate our intentions and formulating our opinions.  Data will reform the basis of the conscious mind to swing what we favour in directions of their own making.  It is frightening when we realise carrying our smartphone, we are accompanying our shadow for company, outlining our digital trail everywhere freely, in cost and liberty, capitalising the social media giants yes, for free.

A search, now more commonly known by the verb 'Google', clicking on news articles, though maybe fake news, could still register to reveal about you a political profile silhouetting a probable political inclination which can be valuable during referendums or elections.   Some fake news operators are so powerful they can disrupt politics and distort real intentions without much care to the downsides of things but since Google is knowledge fake news is most likely believed.  Manipulation of news is in full swing when searching for some facts we are presented by extremism and hate readily accepted by the intellectually deprived, distorting the mainstream of ideas acquired by other but authoritative sites. However, political use of the internet is not exclusive to the media giants, but governments are in on it too.  For examples, the time of the Arab Spring Democratic sympathies swang either side, China's capitalism while prolonging communist ideals working in the background controlling their societies, while Russia uses it for control and social order.  Twitter par excellence, as we all know, is Trump who justifies his Twitter feed as "modern-day Presidential". When he goes quite, there must be something wrong.

Ideology is being utilised to disrupt the internet, thousands of signals are sent out creating right-wing views and propaganda, acting in the face of mainstream media.

"A spatial map of the right-wing fake news ecosystem. Jonathan  Albright, assistant professor of communications at Elon University,    North Carolina, “scraped” 300 fake news sites (the dark shapes on this map) to reveal the 1.3m hyperlinks that connect them together and link them into the mainstream news ecosystem.    Here, Albright shows it is a “vast satellite system of right-wing news and propaganda that has completely surrounded the mainstream media system”. Photograph: Jonathan Albright" Source: theguardian.com

Algorithm and the data they consume, besides their ability to psychologically group us, seem to have a life of their own and develop as they work to be first in the queue gushing out filtered information for the unsceptical vulnerable mind to lap up.  If the news is to be believed, there is a company called Cambridge Analytica using methods developed at Cambridge University in England, by weaving a tapestry of sites, is said to have manipulated data by targeting millions of voters psychological traits swinging their vote in favour of Trump in America and Brexit here in the UK.  A manipulation of stories that can make us acquire a partisan approach make us fragmented and more divided.  A story is later taken up by the mainstream media such as the Observer and The Times.  To learn more on this coordination effect read this brilliant piece; a second to non-analysis of this subject. A panoramic view giving some insights why our electoral system needs a complete overhaul.

How about some regulation because this is all getting out of hand, the real world is getting lost and privacy along with it.  We have become borderless.  If we want privacy, and I agree some don't, we need laws to control the controllers because it is becoming apparent that the media giants are either incapable or unwilling to police themselves.  Tech giants such as Amazon, Alphabet (Google parent), Apple, Facebook and Microsoft wield enormous power collectively made profits of $25billion in the first quarter of 2017.  All private information seems to be up for grabs. Advertisers are buying email addresses and mobile numbers hijacking our privacy inundating the unsuspecting public with unsolicited products.  Cookies left on our computers are also data for sale, a virus of freedom we voluntarily click, giving passive consent to gatecrash our privacy and analysing our digital footprints.

The easy access to Dating, Escorts, Prostitution and Porn sites means high traffic and lucrative profits.   Porn is a $12 billion dollar industry in the US with global turnover estimates around $97billion.  Thanks to the dark side of the internet, the adult entertainment industry never had it so good.  There is also the trafficking of children and slave labour, trolling and exploiting school children who mistakenly give out personal information makes the internet unsafe.  Software allowing girls as young as nine to be groomed for sexual abuse. Those on the chase develop ideas and techniques to engage and interact with youngsters directly from bona fide internet sites offering to sell their software directing their audience to tools and methods as resources available.  The algorithm can minutely target people, also tell whether one is extroverts or introverts, whether one is a family person or not even to some extent that car insurance can be based on Facebook activities.   Having learnt information about the likes, dislikes and so on, the information by the algorithm is always in favour of these supplied traits one favour.  The algorithm will then fire back information based on these acceptable characteristics irrespective whether the information it gives out is correct or not.

All kinds of software available, some free of charge, instructional materials on methods to target their audience to build individual and demographic profiles for best results.  Many of these approaches challenge our moral principles and bands of liberty and confronting the internet with a new moral philosophy.  It is vital to keep a lid on this technological age increasingly seeing morality running in the wild. Additionally, stopping the trend of Terrorism, Radicalism, Jihadism, religious, hateful ideology and extremism should not be looked at as moral cowardice.  An algorithm based on our patterns can seem racist and prejudiced so cashing in on it is highly irresponsible.  By itself has no sense of moral balance to take up an ethical responsibility to stem this tide.  The consolidation of these media giants taking united steps to police themselves is vital. The expression of free will of people must not be abused or seen as an invitation by the back door to be dominated by the power of these giants' billions of dollars but remain to behold to a civil society.  Additionally, responsibility lies on producers of these contents and the media need to regulate it, censorship if necessary, particularly when their freedom of expression so audaciously out of context.

This Information revolution, for example, Facebook serving a daily audience of around 2 billion people, is presenting a new reality that we need to understand.  It means we need to redefine this biggest source of information by new concepts and guidelines to interact with this arguably valuable phenomena.  Harnessing the internet values of this virtual world is to ensure the information we receive is ethical and unobtrusive, but responsibly, to fit with the changing values of society ebbing the tide of functional anarchy.  Seeing our life translated into data snooping it to sell say insurance is an infringement on many of our rights.  Companies such as Facebook, Google and other social media giants, need to wake up and ensure the codes they feed into their highly valuable algorithm, not only translates into the excellent service they provide but is accompanied by good ethics - code should be law. We know that our every search or 'like', 'anger, 'amazement' or other reactions, free as they seem to be, provides them with the capital they later sell.  Not only do we tell friends what we like but we are telling them the internet giants too. Newsfeed and spying on our friends and peoples whereabouts, what they are up to and working out probabilities based on our past activities are clear infringements on our rights of privacy.   What society needs and I see coming in the next few years is an algorithm watch, like Ofcom, a utility regulator, hopefully, introduced voluntarily but if not then by the dead hand of state censorship.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Overdose and Opioid misuse.

The paradoxical nature of eating is rather similar to that of taking drugs.  Taking drugs, like eating works as a balancing agent in relieving some disruptive effects we all experience, hence we eat, or some of us take drugs, as reward and aversion. In academic terms, it is like activation of learned behaviours in the presence of stimuli previously associated with the incentive event; to reinstate an appetitive state. With that over, this piece will try to highlight such aversive effects of drugs, e.g., marijuana, cocaine, morphine, synthetic cannabinoids.  Under supervision such effects as, essentially, protective but can lead on to drug tolerance that often can start with recreational drugs such as any number from a group of Amphetamines. Such factors, of course, can also lead to habit forming, substance abuse, overdose and premature drug-related deaths. Just as in the deleterious effect of eating, the phenomena of drug use and abuse is that drug taking requires an understanding of drug toxicity and aversiveness. I also go on to focus on the destructive effects the easing use of such recreational drugs on teenagers a catalyst to harder drugs. A rather friendly description is given to Ecstasy, a recreational drug, when in fact it a psychedelic drug that produces euphoria often the first link in a chain of dependency and consequent misuse and overdose.  Such are the horrifying scenes by 'downers', after a cocktail of drugs and alcohol in the UK and the destructive aftermath manifested in decriminalising drug use in many cities across The United States of America.

Ecstasy is the current drug in vogue making the rounds of the club scene as the new dance drug on a new generation of clubbers.  It is back in fashion after more than a decade in the shadows but has re-emerged in a more potent, powder form, than in the 1990's heydey of house, rave and techno scenes. Nine out of 12 countries report higher estimates of the drug’s use in the last year. The UK reported the second highest level of use, with 3.5% of young adults saying they had taken it in the previous 12 months. There are, however, safety measures for harm prevention being put in place to avoid poor quality and adulteration, organised by the police, social and drug agencies.  Concert and festival organisers are stationing uniformed police at entrances of their venues and at mainstream social settings requesting youngsters to hand over all substances for testing.  Reading in Berkshire and Leeds in Yorkshire, England, festivals there are among a number of other live music events where with the support of local police forces prioritising safety over criminal motives and arrests for drug offences.  Pleasure and risk is an integral part of the club scene. Smack (heroin), pawing (touching), spliff (marijuana cigarette), toke (puff on a cigarette), trollied (drunk) is the language of the initiated. Smoking tobacco and alcohol at the end of an evening is for chilling out and 'come down' is part of a fun hedonistic culture.

The above report also points to disturbing rising trends in the number of deaths from overdose.   The UK accounted for 2,332 of the 6,800 drug-related deaths notified to the authorities in 2014. Heroin and other opiates such as methadone accounted for 1,786 of these UK deaths. 

Putting moral concerns over the criminal intent is difficult, but a red line needs to be drawn between freedom and harm where government should intervene to uphold the law to protect all society from harm.  That balance, however, for drug liberalisation is now underway in at least seven states across America including Washington and California.  In all these States decriminalising drug use is proving to be counterproductive regarding habit forming, lower criminal activities or reduction in police hours taking drug crime off the streets.   The sordid details contained in many of the emerging reports that outline the monitoring figures prove an increasing dependence on opioids, family breakups and drug related deaths from overdosing.  News reports out of America claim more people are dying of opioids addiction than guns, cars or AIDS have ever claimed in a single year even at their peak.  In 2015 it killed over 33,000 peopleMoreover, drug decriminalising has meant an over the counter culture where drugs can now be smoked, needled, eaten, snorted and by introducing them as sweets are proving tempting for children to innocently indulge and more often go on locked in wasting downhill spiral of addiction. The devastating impact on individuals, communities and families losing their sons and daughters to heroin is causing enough pressure for the national media to upgrade their concern to this social dislocation, for the federal government to take action. 

Medics, through their virtuous moral actions, giving out drugs prescription defeat their good intentions; putting patients back to 'feeling normal'.  In their effort to alleviate the pain of withdrawals they are making legal what is illegal, in the UK, prescriptions for opioids increased 400%.  A recent report published in the United States on drug use found that opioid crisis is now ravaging America and is claiming record numbers of lives with many having their first 'fix' by a Doctor.  As in the UK, drug 'damage' does not only feed on the poor but middle-class professional and takes in all social layers of society.  When prescriptions ran out, the ease of access meant buying from the mushrooming outlets were available to fill the gap until the next fix. Where it is still illegal, people buy it off the streets, unknowingly in lethal doses sometimes acquiring products made as tranquillizers for elephants.  To get a buzz one user says “Every couple of hours you need a hit”, no ifs ands or buts, you’re going to find it and you’re going to get money to get it, no matter what”.  It is less expensive than a six-pack - of beer.  

Despite all this sad evidence cultured and so called experts still support the ideas for the legalisation of drugs by centring their arguments, not on the drugs but of their prohibition.   Just as with Tobacco and Alcohol legalisation they want it allied with adequate control taking it out from the hands of criminals, to teach our children on their 'proper' use, while passing taxation on the products to the government and legitimate traders to make a profit.  So far so good you might think, then arguments take peculiar contours suggesting the billions of pounds collected will then be syphoned to the appropriate channels for drug treatment and addicts.  Here is what Dr Susan Blackmore, (a psychologist), Patron of Transform, the campaign for the legalisation of narcotics: "In my dream, I can walk down any street in Bristol, Boston, Bogotá or Bombay and no one will steal my phone to get their next fix. No heroin–dazed beggar will plead for my change. No crack-crazed youth will kill me for my credit card. And why? Because in my dream they, like me, can walk down that street and buy any drug they like.  Obviously, in her case freedom doesn't come cheap where such drug use become epidemic and the spread of infection but might cost lives.  Here is a window on the consequences.(two parts).

As an activity, taking ecstasy or heroin, harming oneself, such as taking up boxing, bull riding or base jumping or those of us who refuse to exercise, for instance, is not wrong even when done voluntarily. Other arguments, however, stress that voluntary use of drugs for mental stimulation or artificially induce changes in mental states should not be permissible while others say this is a slippery slope argument.  That said, would these activities be any different to say listening to music or reading a book, since both latter activities do the same. So far as I could, see, there is a contradiction in such analogues arguments in that something in drugs brings about an unnatural state of mind leading to action that contradicts normal behaviour.   A matter of losing total control of oneself - autonomy and at what point does the user as an agent no longer can act rationally beside the fact they can become victims to unscrupulous drug dealers.  Users of these drugs can in principle act to end their use and their intoxicating effects – at least up to the point of the incapacity of rational thought.  But such effects are known to take hold, so much so, the agent no longer can act rationally to end their damaging effects, they can no longer serve as an independent agent. Allied to this there is also the addiction factor since there is a strong case to be made that a recreational drug user can quickly become addicted and once the habit established, is difficult to quit.  Additionally, as has been pointed out, from an empirical point of view against legalising drugs, one can see the damaging effects drugs use can have from the examples given above that speak for themselves; ill effects of alcohol and tobacco, by comparison, pale into insignificance; evidence in preference to authoritative directions. 

In the end, it boils down to protecting ourselves and all drug users from harm a reality that is part of our culture and part of our society.  Though acknowledged that Opioids are essential medicine but misuse according to British Medical Journal is now questioning whether prescription opioid is becoming an epidemic.   Without data to support it, punitive approach necessary because drugs do harm and life destroying.  Human reason, moral or otherwise, is not enough, but government action to protect a free society control is essential, keeping safe the society that is in its care.  To normalise risky behaviour makes it more attractive encouraging more people to take it up often not knowing the strength of these substances. Without legal guidance and responsible medical supervision, all these drugs are proving dangerous, and drug addiction is realised when it is too late.  

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Despotism and Happiness: Two Sides of a Coin.

I like to make it clear this piece is non-political and non-religious and harbours no critical intentions of any religion.  Its only message is that of the Arab world and its people, Both, Muslim and Christian, not ready for Democracy or universal Freedom but in fact, the majority of its inhabitants are adverse to the idea of Parliamentary Democracy.  Their interpretation of liberty is freedom FROM and not freedom TO - by and large a negative freedom.  They prefer to be free from political entanglement preferring not taking part in the system of government.  Their profound and obscure belief is sustained by ideas to better leave politics to those who rule.  This leaves them to indulge in a daily diet of Cafe politics, trade and money-making.

This essay comes from a westernised, regenerated and redefined fellow Arab I will attempt to show the peculiarities often seem to an untrained eye a dichotomy that can exist in Arab window framing when grappling to understand or to join with Liberalism.  Arab leaders and people have on the whole over the centuries ruled so keeping hold of an archaic system where they feel happiest is more favoured than stepping into the unknown.  Despotism in the Arab world is inherited from Ottoman Despotism, brushing aside any other form of rule is natural.  Cosying up to some of the worst violators of human rights in the region, such as President Sisi of Egypt is one example.  The idea of sharing with a government is an anathema to their way of thinking. Jean Jacques Rousseau would be spinning in his grave while Voltaire would have despaired.  As for what Montesquieu would have made of this, I shudder to think.

Anyway, it all comes down I suppose to universalities.  Western universalism Islamic universalism Asian universalism all are vying for universal value.  Falling into line is a preferred option but looking at a social contract with disdain has thus weakened any ideas to emerge from the darkness of that authoritarian cave.  Remaining subjects in preference to seeing the light to be individual citizens. They find it more convenient to entrench in the old world order than to navigate the conduits of enfranchisement of liberality.  The upending cultural frame of mind that had taken centuries to embed is a struggle and remains outside the framework of resistance that has in any case, over this period become rusty.  Or it is simply happiness in a different universal sphere where tough talk, a Clint Eastwood approach in preference to Reason that "make my day" for them.

The French Revolution inspired by the notions of the Enlightenment that came to the fore grabbed Europe's attention in 1760's was by western standards an intellectual revolution that is still in progress.  Driven by Reason and rational enquiry its ultimate goal was to the happiness of the individual. Invariably, finding in its mission towards values, attitudes and beliefs inducing a culture of empiricism; to question and to reason. Challenging the status quo, why and what became one of the modernities of the age.  France in July 1789 began a process of emancipation from a society of orders to one that belonged to the people that went on to define a Nation.  A citizen's Rights was born from the seeds of absolutism- grabbing a mistake in the genealogy of evolutionary government heavily centred at the time on the nobility and patriarchy.

The recent struggles on the road to Democracy belie the nature of Islamic universalism.  In this vein, 'The Arab Spring' was an attempt to see the light in the emancipation of the individual for it to cultivate the seeds of Democracy and Liberalism.  The movements faltered and went horribly wrong as we saw in Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Tunis among other Arab countries.

As I see it, in theory, Arab people are some of the most politicised people, but in practice, most are inclined to accept the inevitable. There is often a misconception of ideas between Rule and Govern.   The difference, of course, Rule commands obedience by a show of strength,  and power. Whereas to Govern strength is entrusted to personality, consultation and acceptance since by western standard justification for a majority to sanction any Rule of Law.  Without consultation, laws remain arbitrary; there can never be synergies between the two.  Moreover, in western thinking societies, Public opinion is an important pointer to people's metrics of satisfaction.  Somehow Arabia has its politics in reverse it is where the people are answerable to the government and not the other way round and where one is assumed guilty before innocent. Laws bind the people; religion controls them, while a government is lacking in virtue, govern by propaganda, yet they acquiesce to all three and luxuriate in the delusion they are Free.

However, to stay on this point a little, the logic of Freedom is to know what it is one is free from and free to do what.  The ruling groups fail to provide a compelling indication or direction to those ends. Monarchs, Emirs and Princes stay in power on the strength of so-called utilitarian principles that they install mainly materialist, leisure and shopping malls with instructions how to enjoy.  Whatever rights given under the Constitution bear little relevance since they are limited by Laws that are subjected to religious ethics dating back to medieval time.   An enlightened view, like that in West, the treatment of International citizens, is that the European welcome is unconditional. You are welcome to join us and be like us, and you are welcome to join us and not be like us.  If one looks at the constitutions of most Arab countries as I have done, I found their laws enshrined in Sharia principles, and the welcome is conditional and only seemingly tolerant but overlapped and consistently remaining subject and unequivocally subservient to such legislation that embodies it.  Such has become the culture and Arab diaspora to the West proved no guarantee against such thinking since culture has naturally followed.

At a stroke, the UAE government, in a recent example, disbanded what took it years to build: limiting freedom of speech.  Despite the fact, all Emirates are the signatory to the International Laws of Human rights, nevertheless these signatures overridden by the law of the land.    By making it against the law to show or express sympathy towards Qatar or Qatari is wiping away the freedom of conscious as well as free speech.  Breaking these rules or questioning their values, intentionally or innocently, one could face a stiff jail sentence.  This is clear evidence of an ostensible show of democracy tolerated not the freedom of Democracy.  Themes of Critical thinking is not only about commas and semicolons but about phraseology and the linking of words to obliterate or emancipate meanings.   Ambiguity and equivocality can never lend much to modernising idioms for further understanding, moderation or toleration.  Sharia laws may allow you to have fun but by its terms and parameters are set for that end. These are a spiritually inspired monolithic statement, not for Man to moderate, reform or change.

Subject to the rule of law that originates from a bicameral system of government and laws synthesised from a system of checks and balances is a rare commodity and are viewed by many as slow, tedious and boring.  Arabs prefer their rulers like a new CEO walking for the first time into a hostile boardroom; he set the tone: a one man Government is laying out the rules of the game and won’t tolerate disobedience.  They issue warning they would not tolerate a  "hostile media" — a likely reference to programming on the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera network. 'No one allowed to doubt my word or my way of thinking, I have no deficiencies, and I know the best' - is a syndrome ever present.  In typical Arab fashion and hot-headedness, they looked at criticism, not as challenges but defiance and where objections by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International ignored. The thought there could be another way - a third way is often an admission of failure and hurt pride.  As for Freedom to chose a government, well, that remains taboo and is strictly forbidden.

Today's chess board dominated by the country with the biggest oil reserves, and the new man in line to rule the Saudi kingdom will have Iraq in his sights having nominated for the alienation of both Shiaism and Shia Iran is a priority.  Emboldened by the United States, Saudi hegemony, with Sunnism and Arabism as the carapace, is unleashing its petro-muscle for mastery on all it surveys forcing its will on the minnows.  The likely outcome is a war of Kings jostling for the highest stakes.  The ultimate prize is the dominance of the Middle East without a say of its people since as always they are the pawns, obedient servants submissively accept whatever consequences thrown at them. Sunni Arab Nationalism is on the Warpath where Shia Iran and its sympathisers have no say, and any dissent might just as well bury their heads in the sand dunes.

Jailing Democrats is one of the favourite pastimes especially when it come to members of The Muslim Brotherhood. A liberal mind that can underscore the power of the individual could be a serious misdemeanour; instead, conformity is the order, and that is an order.  An independent mind comes with a heavy baggage as an enemy of the state and frowned upon as an undesirable attribute.  Independent thinking especially in political arenas or as cultural dissonance is taken as subversive and quite likely to meet by a stint in jail ripe for remodelling. Foreigners face stiffer sentences at the end of which they are deported as unwanted goods.  Religious Dissenters, in the land of Emirs, or heaven forbid Atheists, on the other hand, could face lashes or execution.  One can rightly ask has Universalism gone bonkers? When society is looked at through the prism of logic to understand that democracy is based on Reason while despotism relies on fear, the answer is who cares. As long as people are happy Reason fears to tread.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A Tale of Two Cities

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said a million people should “take to the streets to force Theresa May from power”. “The Tories have blood on their hands” and “Kick Theresa May out of Downing Street”.   Grayson in the 1930's; " We must break the rule of the rich and take our destinies into our own hands."  Such incendiary language goes to the heart of the Socialist movement in Britain in the 1930's.  Then as now, such poisonous language was the catalyst in efforts to bring down the government of the day to fall in line with its hard communist ideology that was fermenting in response to The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern generated by the Bolshevik Pary in Soviet Russia.

Today Theresa May will present a Queen’s Speech aside from the Brexit legislative details it will be low key, and will be kept short.  Defeat will spell fall of the conservative government.  Today has also been assigned as The Day of Rage by leftist demonstrators and is quite likely will be noisy and may even turn violent.  It is understandable residents of Grenfell Tower has commanded attention since last week's devastating fire but politicising the tragedy does take away the focus from social housing and the system that failed using the inferno as a source of an attack on government.

Notting Hill where Grenfell Tower is situated sits among properties worth between three to four million pound houses and apartments and is indeed a tale of two cities.  On the back of this dichotomy, there is Jeremy Corbyn leader of the British Labour party is trying to score political points.  I know rapid increases in prices -Brexit pressures and falling pound exacerbated existing tensions, but these do not qualify a Democratic party to turn discontent into agitation seeing that such agitations easily fuelled by radicalism that is planting the seeds of anarchy.   Easy to accomplish since most of the new generation are a breed of extremists and highly politicised.

Moreover, what may appear as an unwillingness to sequestrate or appropriate empty multi-million-pound property, is what Corbyn has advocated could easily incite violence.  The government is not in support of the system that failed but announcing a public enquiry shows it is just as much on the side of the victims.

Discrediting the government at every stage and every tragedy adds to the possibility of creating upheavals which are what the irresponsible Labour leadership is evidently trying to do is not exactly conducive to reconciliation and unity.  He recently talked about unity but supporting 'The Day of Rage' is highly irresponsible.

Threatening a fragile government is straight of the history books, it never works, and if anything it plays in the hands of the Brussels negotiators.  The hard left in Britain is far harder to stomach than the hard right, and Brussels will treat it no less like a pariah state.

What we see today is not much different to the social agitation some members of the Labour party rhetoric of the 1930's when Victor Grayson advocated revolution.  Although The Independent Labour Party (ILP) a socialist political party was committed to the parliamentary road to socialism, during the election, Grayson supported a revolution. In his election address, Grayson wrote: I am appealing to you as one of your own class. I want emancipation from the wage-slavery of Capitalism. I do not believe that we are divinely destined to be drudges. Through the centuries we have been the serfs of an arrogant aristocracy. We have toiled in the factories and workshops to grind profits with which to glut the greedy maw of the Capitalist class.  That support was for a failing ideology but what is worse today is that comrade Corbyn et al. are promoting an already proven failed ideology; an anachronism to the modernity of today and at best an obsolescent thinking.  

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Grenfell Tower, a tragedy waiting to happen?

Grenfell Tower, in Kensington, west London in the early hours of June 14th, 2017. An inferno sweeping through a London Tower block trapping many residents where dozens are feared dead.  
It is a sorry state to see Britain so badly divided.  No, so much Labour and Conservatives thing any longer but have transgressed beyond socially or morally acceptable to Them and Us, a polarised society.   Fuelled more so by the press hungry for headlines going out of their way to politicise defects, mistakes and shortcomings.  Playing on the those who are vulnerable for a rating score. Matters days earlier were of no concern to them, but as a tragedy unfolded, they take the moral ground to show purported gaping holes the government played with people's safety.  Rightly or wrongly the social media, an echo chamber, goes on to amplify this reporting causing more anger and frustration to an already tearfully sad situation.

Notting Hill district, in Kensington area of West London, where Grenfell Tower is situated couldn't be more representative of this social divide, neatly separating the vulnerable from the affluent. Including, of course, those immigrants coming to this country seeking a better life.  Witnesses statements added to reports of casualties while the death toll is still rising, latest estimates speak of well over 50 people.  A very high number in a country where we thought had the highest safety standards in the world.  But for a contemporary culture of  "I followed the rules" caused catastrophic mistakes are now to blame.  Causes of fire are yet to be determined, and the Metropolitan Police have instigated a criminal investigation.

I shudder to contemplate how this government or any government can quell this anger, with more to come I am sure.  Austerity, since the financial crisis of 2003 has taken its toll as social deprivation is on the increase.  Standard of living is falling for many; job insecurity is deterring salary increases.  Adequate housing and social welfare need to focus on those in need to fuse the divide and subdue the anger where regeneration of this deprived area is often perceived as attempts on social hygiene by the wealthy.  Income distribution is therefore in desperate need for reform. UK riots of 2011; Brexit and the swing to the left in the recent general election are real markers for dissatisfaction.

Unfortunately, I see this government has temporarily lost its grip on reality one needs to ask how many wake-up calls does it need to stir it into action.  There is anger on our streets, and anarchy is spreading by those ready to exploit it and weaponising it for their own political ends.  Besides the persistent inequalities, issues such as adequate social housing need government's urgent attention.  It is also high time for the media to act responsibly in uniting British society towards a common cause; Britain, as one caring nation.   

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Islam; Religion of Peace

The Massacre at Chios (1824) by Eugène Delacroix
Turkish fleet under the Kapudan Pasha Nasuhzade Ali Pasha arrived on the island of Chios, Greece on 22 March 1822. They quickly pillaged and looted the town. On 31 March, orders were given to burn down the city, and over the next four months, an estimated 40,000 Turkish troops arrived. In addition to setting fires, the troops were ordered to kill all infants under three years old, all males 12 years of age and older, and all females 40 and older, except those willing to convert to Islam.  Approximately three-quarters of the population of 120,000 were killed, enslaved or died of disease. It is estimated that 2,000 people remained on the island after 21,000 managed to flee, 52,000 were enslaved and 52,000 massacred.Tens of thousands of survivors dispersed throughout Europe and became part of the Chian Diaspora. Another source says that approximately 20,000 Chians were killed or starved to death.

On Wednesday 27th of March, 2017, the Westminster terror saw the murder of 5 innocent people including PC Keith Palmer, also a father and a husband, guarding the oldest parliament in the world.  An attack on democracy met with British Prime Minister, Theresa May's defiant reply "We are not afraid, and our resolve will not waver in the face of Terrorism." On the 8th of April, we saw similar terror repeating itself on the streets of Stockholm, Sweden. The attacker this time hijacked a lorry belonging to the Swedish brewery Speedups and used it to ram pedestrians. On Sunday, Palm Sunday 9th of April we saw at least 36 people killed after blasts targeted Coptic Christians in a Church in Egypt. Not long afterwards saw the killing of a French police officer in a shooting incident on Champs-Élysées.  All events were attributed to directly to IS or Muslim terrorist splinter group sympathisers.  

Islam was never like this.  Despite the belief by some, then and now, the conquest of Jerusalem in 638, after a two-year siege, established a fact for Islam that both Christianity and Islam originate from the same tree, now there was no denying of Islam's status.  Over the following centuries up to the pre-Mongol period, Islam was well articulated, and its relaxed attitude gave room to both the rational, philosophical interpretation and spiritual understanding to both the Quran and the Hadith.  Baghdad, at the heart of the Abbassid Caliphate, and Cairo after it under the Mamluks were centres of learning and groundswell of knowledge.  Baghdad, in particular, was a multi-cultural city of Christians, Jews and Muslims lived and worked together.  Many of the greatest philosophers of the age of different faiths applied Aristotelian logic to Islam enriching the Arabic language in the process.  The teaching of a united faith accompanied the spread of the Muslim Empire, and that applied knowledge stretched more than any empire before it, from the far corners of the East to the Atlantic in the West.

Guarantees extended by Umar ibn-Al-Khattab of civil and religious liberty to Christians in exchange for 'jizya' largely turning Jerusalem into a vassal state.

With the onset of the Ottoman Empire, Islam I believe took on more of a political tool rather than had hitherto been both political and societal.  Misusing Islam for power and glory, and for domination of Christianity.  The Caliphate assumed by the Ottomans was a usurpation since none of those chosen was either from the Quraish clan nor a distant relative of the prophet or indeed from Mecca or Medina.  For manipulation and control of the Ottoman and the Millet societies, Islam became a tool under their auspices.  Strictly applying rules that more or less established the mythical beliefs and customs many Muslim believers today acknowledge as the word of God.  Ironically, these distortions diluted the practical meaning of religion instead gave rise to a more radical approach that has over the years culminated in further distancing from a real essence of the Faith.

That radicalism has in recent history taken a more malignant transformation; from Al Qaida, the world's foremost terrorist organisation to ISIS; a transnational terrorist group formed in Iraq post the 2003 American invasion.   Its proclamation of the Khalifa has enabled it to gather around its organisation Sunni followers from both Syria and Iraq who are disenchanted, disillusioned and disenfranchised but radicalised and violently militant.  Both organisations have also managed to attract young volunteers from around the world to strengthen their infrastructure while internationalising its reach in the process.  Isis, in particular, having assumed the Khalif in Mosul, though its authority remained unrecognised by most Muslim countries around the world, has nevertheless, became a fighting force spreading its ideology in Europe and elsewhere by terrorism.

Take Al Qaeda for instance once the driving force of Global Jihad has built a network of multinational operations across the Arab world and Northern and Central Africa. The message that comes across from this militant and violent organisation is one of terror, killing, slavery and beheading.  These brutal warnings are often accompanying Muslim slogans with excerpts taken out of the Koran justifying its actions.  Nothing there that suggests Islam's peace messages or its true essence on the contrary we see frightening figures that in Charlie Hebdo terrorist case in France 27% of British Muslims sympathise with Paris gunmen.  One wonders whether their principle message is to spread fear or their faith or both.  More often the message that is increasingly coming across is both; hence we see Islamophobia as well as sympathies on the increase.  In the absence of contrary peaceful messages from its legitimate individual leadership across the Muslim world, their discourse of Islam a "religion of peace" sounding more and more hollow.

Neither Isis nor al Qaeda will be going away anytime soon despite IS's loss of territory in Mosul, Iraq and Raqa, Syria.  The cutting of beards and tearing off face veils are only a temporary respite in false dawn of final liberation from the Islamic State menace.   A retreat is happening, but as a terrorist organisation, they are far from finished.   They are definitely on the back foot, coming on the back of a military onslaught started in October 2016 with the main thrust coming from air power of coalition forces, supported by the Iraqi Government army (Iraqi Special Forces) charged in penetrating deeper into the IS-held territory.  A generally held belief that by the end of 2017 IS would renounce their Khalifa and retreat into the desert, but that does not spell the end of the movement by any means. Though many of its fighters return to Britain, France, Holland, Belgium, etc.  it is estimated at that stage, they would still have 10,000 or so loyal hardcore fighters and mainly Sunni Muslims who believe enough in the Salafi ideology prepared to cross the bridge into Europe and cause further mayhem.  Just as the  Iraqi Army has regrouped to fight another day so will IS, supported by its sympathisers in Europe and elsewhere who will do their bidding.  It will be a beginning of a new story as an organisation moving from soldiers to insurgents.  The more they shrink militarily, the more attacks, suicide or otherwise, they will commit to civilian targets especially in countries currently engaged in offensives against it.

Since the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and with it the last Khalifa in the shape of Abdulmecid II, described in 1922 as "a historic relic", Islam has lacked a universally accepted leadership and has ever since remained rudderless.  Influences of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda is spreading, and their militancy, intolerance and ideology can inspire people all over the world to carry attacks in their name.  The Social Media, a cost-effective tool serves an excellent conduit to recruit new volunteers to their cause who find comfort in its propaganda.  They may have lost territory and operatives and currently are on the run but are they likely to run out of steam? Not yet!  The third stage will be a change of tactics using a different strategy which means entry into the social fabric, a twenty-first-century strategy of networking within the Islamic societies around the world.

The brand will change, but the ideology of Salafi Jihadism remains the same hellbent to establish the Islamic States, and ultimately impose their own Khalifa and encouraging global jihadism and the Sharia Laws.  Once the enemy, the common cause infesting Mosul is eliminated the geopolitical terrain will need new cartography to define the new Mosul propagated from the new conflict that will attempt to devour it. That will leave IS, to put together new low maintenance ideological hubs, infiltrating Europe and elsewhere since ideological warfare is not a zero sum game of winning or losing. Unless there is one universally recognised Khalif, a legitimate central authority to defeat this spread, Salafi radicalism, intolerance is bound to grow. High time for a central authority to emulate Khalifa Umar humility who showed the meaning of tolerance and generosity in victory and strength. It is a challenge to the Muslim world that currently faced with a vacuum of ideas to contradict the spread of toxic fundamentalism that is doing untold damage to the Islamic character.