Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The mystic connection!

A lad came galloping on a mare
on a June day, so warm and fair
With a triangle on his pastel neck
made by a mix of three-some fleck
Like evening breeze from a thousand jasmines
more tiddley than a thousand wines
Constantinople is a lucky old city
Someone likes its white little kitty
Fish of Bosphorus jump in joy
at the spryness of this boy
Can chirping birds of Turkey ever fathom?
that Selcuk means more than a Kingdom


Friday, August 26, 2005

Pull-out and Pile-up

Israel's recent pull-out from the Gaza strip must not result in the consolidation of its settlements in the West Bank.

After nearly 38 years, Israel reluctantly moved out of Gaza this August. The Jewish settlers, who were made to inhabit the Gaza strip -- and West bank plus parts of Jerusalem -- under a well-thought out policy for close to four decades were finally asked to pack up and leave. There were tears and sighs. International media units flew into Gaza to capture history in the making-- the anguish and drama unfolding, live. CNN, BBC World and a host of media crews carried live feeds from the bleached shores of the Holy land. In February 2005, the Israeli government had voted to implement Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip beginning August 15, 2005.

The plan required the dismantling of all Israeli settlements there, and the removal of all Israeli settlers and military bases from the Strip, a process that is to be completed by October, 2005. Isreal went ahead with its plan on August 15, 2005. Days before the D-day, Benjamin Netanyahu, Sharon's finance minister -- and ex-prime minister -- considered a hawk and Sharon's doppelganger resigned from the cabinet, opposing the disengagement plan. Following withdrawal, Israel will retain offshore maritime control and a small strip of land -- Philadelphi Corridor -- alongside the Egypt-Gaza Strip border, although Israel's defense minister has said that Israel will eventually leave this corridor as well.

The settlers played tough ding-dong battles with the Israeli troops before being safely ferried away to their make-shift homes. The relative ease with which the abusive ultra-orthodox Jews were evacuated was a marked shift from the dismantling of Palestinian homes in Raffa some years back. The poor palestinians were not even given a minutes time to lay hands on their bare essentials by the Isreali monster bull-dozers. Back in Gaza, the settlers threw acid and stones on the police. Insults and profanities were heaped on Sharon's men. God was invoked. "Jews don't expel Jews"...the placards read. Right so, Jews expel Arabs only. Stupid! The foul-mouthed settlers can't be blamed for their fate. The settler movement has been Sharon gang's ultimate dream. It is hard to envisage a Sharon ordering his flock out, unless the shrewd war-horse has other plans up his scheming head. Isreal captured Gaza in the 1967 Six-Day War. Till 1967 Gaza was under Egyptian control. Israel blitzed, during 6 days in early June 1967 with Arabs, and seized all of the West Bank from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.

At that moment the whole of historical Palestine came under the military control of Israel. Israel's policy of building colonial settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza meant confiscation of Palestinian lands, annexation of Jerusalem, the annexation of the Golan Heights, and the settling of over 100,000 Jews within annexed Jerusalem. Israel confiscated precious water resources of the West Bank for its settlements, while prohibiting Palestinians from seeking desperately needed new water sources. The repression required to successfully occupy the Palestinian people in their indigenous country was nothing short of a comprehensive and systematic effort to destroy the Palestinian people.

Isreal has historically been a bully. Patronaged by US and Great Britian and emboldened by years of a militarist attitute. Only this time, things look good. The only problem is that Isreali's intentions have always been suspect. Not that they cannot do any thing good but sincerity has never been Israel's high-point. The population of Jewish settlements in the West Bank has grown this year by more than the 9,000 settlers evacuated under the plan to cede some occupied land, an Israeli government said recently. Thousands of Israelis have streamed into larger West Bank settlements since the start of the year, increasing the number of Jews living on occupied land to 246,000.

After factoring in Israel's evacuation of 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank this week, the overall number now living in the occupied West Bank has grown by about 10,000 Jews. West-bank is predominantly Palestinian (86%). Israel's insistence on expanding settlements represents a declaration of war against the Palestinians because it aims to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state by reinforcing and prolonging occupation," Palestinian cabinet minister Ghassan al-Khatib said recently. "The Gaza step will not be worthy unless the international community compels Israel to match it with a stop to settlement expansion in the West Bank," he told Reuters today.

The World Court brands all settlements illegal. Israel disputes this. Some 116 settlements are scattered among the 2.4 million Palestinians of the West Bank, captured by Israel along with the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. An additional 200,000 Jews live in Arab East Jerusalem, also captured in 1967. Palestinians, numbering 240,000 in East Jerusalem, want it for the capital of a future state. Israel annexed it in a move not recognised internationally.

The only fear is that Israel must not be allowed to walk away from a highly-publicised exit in Gaza only to legitimise and barricade its illegitimate occupation eslewhere.

Sameer Bhat

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sweet looks

I haven't scribbled much on my webpage -- weblog, as some may like it -- for a couple of days. It was perhaps a little mix of my own inertness and work pressure that kept me from posting. In the meantime, there has been some refreshing change around my work place. A few new faces appeared in my office -- aspiring hacks -- and were quickly selected to take over the flame of journalism, forward. Fresh, out-of-college faces! Two guys and two gals. The lads are nice and gals beautiful; this particular bunch has spilled some refershing newness in an otherwise slack office. As good luck would have it, three of them are in the same hall level as I am, so I constantly get to see them smile at me, as I step in and out of my corner. Juniority necessitates some degree of reverence towards -- one-year senior-- chaps, as they say. I never believed in the maxim, until last week. Now I revel in the sudden respect.

My pick is a gal, who reminds me of Sharmila Tagore's daughter. Sizzlingly beautiful. She is in the new group. I don't know her name yet and I am not particularly dazzled by her. I love beautiful gals and intellegent humans and that is I surmise, only natural. Their laughter and verve has made the stale hall a vibrant bower and even the air conditioning plant is cooler. The whole summer, I thought the split-ac would not cool our cabins. The group puffs away like country-side chimneys, appealing and billowing away. They giggle like class-10 kids but the crisp uproar can only pass off as a welcome break. Covering energy -- petroleum and gas and what not -- and writing features as a business writer requires such ducky interludes.

My pals tell me that I have a dream innings at my present job. I have a great -- and somewhat easy -- regimen. I like my work. I know my contacts, I churn stories at will. I like my Boss. I have an amiable relation with him. We discuss gals. Not at a great length, though. I like to keep my space. We did talk about new babe on the block. Boss thinks she is good, I told him she rocks. Great bloke. I enjoy my talks with Vij, my fav in office. My days are good. I work, talk, read and jot. That is a lot in ten-hours. I keep myself occupied. Yeah, I chat in between also.

I am not in love with the trio or is it four-some. I just like the energy the young exude and yeah I like the subtle admirable pace of the new dove. I can't be hanged for that, I am sure!

Sameer Bhat

Monday, August 22, 2005

Mind joining me for a stroll in the countryside
Pic Sam

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hadi, Tariq with pals relishing barbeque, Manhattan NY

Hadi, blue shirt, tries his hand at Basketball, Manhattan NY, Recent Pic

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Amhed Deedat is no more

World teacher and Islamic scholar Ahmed Deedat passed away yesterday at Lotusville South Africa, age 87. Deedad earned reputation as a thinker, preacher and orator par excellence propounding the noble values of Islam. Born in Gujarat, India, Mr Ahmed moved to SA with his family at a very young age. A brilliant student Deedad was initially influenced by the missionary work carried out by cristian groups in India, before embarking upon an eventful life that saw him setting up the first Islamic Seminary in Southern Africa to train propagators of true Islam at Assalaam educational Institute - Braemar.

He has published more than 20 books and distributed millions of copies of free literature the world over. Many of Sheikh Deedat’s publications have been translated into the many different languages of the world : Russian, Urdu, Arabic, Bengali, Bangladeshi, French, Amharic, Chinese, Japanese, Mayalam, Indonesian,, Zulu , Afrikaans, Dutch, Norwegian amongst others. He delivered countless lectures all over the world, crossing all the continents and successfully engaging some of the biggest names in Christian evangelists in public debates. The frugal-mannered Deedat would mesmerise his audiences with his intellectual prowess.

Early in his career, he created major storms in the mainstream South African media with his unique, innovative styles of promoting the Palestinian cause. By inviting competitive essays on pictures depicting Israeli opression, Deedat not only exposed the pseudo-liberal SA media's phony commitment to freedom of speech; he was also severely maligned by Zionist pressure groups.

So fearless was his stand in defending the truth that Sheikh Deedat was refused entry into France and Nigeria on the pretext that ‘ he would cause a civil unrest’.

Deedad's Da'wah activities doubtless resulted in legions of people embracing Islam both in this country and internationally. His legendary skills propelled him to an international audience in all corners of the world. Former SA President Nelson Mandela famously called up Deedat once, congratulating him for his international icon status in the Muslim World. Despite being a vehement critic of the Arab regimes Deedad was awarded the prestigious King Faisal Award in 1986 for his sterling services to Islam in the field of Propagation.

Sheikh Ahmed Deedat 1918-2005 (Scholar,Teacher, Activist and a great human being) R.I.P

So you find fault with me, the Christian I don't blame him, I am the most dangerous guy for him, he knows that, he may say I am bashing him or swearing at him, if he breaks my jaw, he is entitled to. But you have no right to point the finger at me, the Muslim, you have no right, you read the Qur'an in Arabic, you understand. Allah is telling you: "O people of the book do not go to extremes in your religion."
Ahmed Deedat

Sameer Bhat

Thursday, August 04, 2005

French Revolution

Date line French Revolution:

May 5: The Estates General opens at Versailles
June 17: The Third Estate declares itself the National Assembly
June 20: The Tennis Court Oath
July 14: Fall of the Bastille
Late July: The Great Fear spreads in the countryside
August 4: The nobles surrender their feudal rights in a meeting of the National Constituent Assembly
August 27: Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen
October 5-6: Parisian women march to Versailles and force Louis XVI and his family to return to Paris


July 12: Civil Constitution of the Clergy adopted
July 14: The king accepts a new constitution

June 20-24: Louis XVI and his family attempt to flee France and are stopped at Varennes
August 27: The Declaration of Pillnitz
October 1: The Legislative Assembly meets

April 20: France declares war on Austria
August 10: The Tuileries palace is stormed, and Louis XVI takes refuge with the Legislative Assembly
September 2-7: The September Massacres
September 20: France wins the battle of Valmy
September 21: The monarchy is abolished

January 21: Louis XVI is executed
February 1: France declares war on Great Britain
March: Counterrevolution breaks out in the Vendee
April: The Committee of Public Safety is formed
June 22: The Constitution of 1793 is adopted. It is not put into effect.
August 23: Levee en masse proclaimed
September 17: Maximum prices set on food and other commodities
October 16: Queen Marie Antoinette is executed
November 10: The Cult of Reason is proclaimed. The revolutionary calendar is adopted

March 24: Execution of the Hebertist leaders of the sans-culottes
April 6: Execution of Danton
May 7: Cult of the Supreme Being proclaimed
June 8: Robespierre leads the celebration of the Festival of the Supreme Being.
June 10: The Law Of 22 Prairial is adopted
July 27: The Ninth of Thermidor and the fall of Robespierre
July 28: Robespierre is executed

August 22: The Constitution of the Year Ill is adopted, establishing the Directory

Watch this space for my write-up on French Revolution!!!

Hadi relaxing on a jutty. A fav of his!
Pic Sam

Suhail and Salah, bespectacled bros!
Pic Sam

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The identity vacuum

A splendid comment by Jonathan Freedland on 'The identity vacuum' that lingers London Post-Bombing. A reaslistic assertion that cuts into the morass of terror and loyailty.

Britain should follow the US approach to citizenship, which emphasises not only diversity but the ties that bind

Jonathan Freedland
Wednesday August 3, 2005
The Guardian

This has been the summer of fear, the season in which our worst nightmares have come true. Take those devoted to bringing racial harmony to this country. Every argument they spent years beating back has suddenly gained new life.

It was long a racist trope that Muslims, even those born here, could not be trusted, that they represented a potentially lethal fifth column. On July 7 that viewpoint was handed lurid "proof": four British-born Muslims ready to kill as many British civilians as they could.

The racists had long argued that immigrants were a menace. As if to vindicate every scaremongering anti-refugee headline of the last 10 years, along came the suspected cell behind the July 21 strikes. It included at least two men who, as children, had fled Africa and found safe haven in Britain. British tabloids had once had to make up "Asylum seekers ate my donkey"; now they write "The asylum seekers who want us dead" - and this time it seems to be true.

This setback for the cause of racial harmony is not abstract. Just listen to the phone-ins, as people admit they are scanning carriages and buses looking for dark, Muslim faces. Suspicion and racial tension that many Britons hoped they had banished 25 years ago are back.

It means those dry, often tedious debates about Britishness suddenly have a new urgency. For how is it possible that Britons could seek the deaths of their fellow citizens? Maybe it's a strange question to ask. After all, it's surely baffling that anyone would want to kill civilians anywhere, of whatever nationality. But because we still imagine a tacit solidarity, an unseen web binding those who live on the same streets and ride the same buses, it shocks all the more to contemplate a man delighting in the death of his neighbours. The July 21 case is even harder to fathom. If Britain had saved your life as a child, would not a pang of obligation hold you back from killing that country's civilians, no matter how great your rage?

The problem was visible on Monday's Newsnight when two members of a fringe Islamist group declared those behind July 7 "praiseworthy" - and did so with British accents. Did they have any loyalty to Britain? Of course not, they answered; only to their fellow Muslims. They may be on the fringe but not, apparently, alone. A YouGov survey for the Daily Telegraph last month found that a clear majority of British Muslims felt loyal to Britain - but 18%, nearly one in five, did not.

This is not, despite Home Office minister Hazel Blears's Muslim-dialogue roadshow yesterday, a question chiefly for Muslims. This is a question for British society as a whole. For July stands as proof that our model of integration, the way we absorb difference, has somehow failed.

Not completely: some of Britain's ethnic minorities testify to an integration which may still be bumpy but which is gradually working out. Not exclusively: the Madrid bombers were Moroccans who had lived among Spaniards for years, yet were ready to murder them. Nevertheless, it can't be avoided: something has gone wrong.

The best explanation might be the one provided by Aatish Taseer, who recently interviewed a series of second-generation Pakistanis in the north of England for Prospect magazine. He found people who took little pride in their Pakistani background, but who struggled to make any connection with their Britishness. When they grew up, "Britons themselves were having a hard time believing in Britishness", he writes. "If you denigrate your own culture you face the risk of newer arrivals looking for one elsewhere." In this case, says Taseer, an Islamic identity, a sense of kinship not with Britain or Pakistan but with the global brotherhood of Muslims, the Ummah.

Is he right? The experience of one country suggests he might be. The United States has not - yet - had a brush with home-grown Islamist terrorism; 9/11 was the work of Egyptian and Saudi outsiders. Why might that be? Islamist radicals certainly find it harder to enter the US. It's also true that American Muslims tend not to live in the segregated urban enclaves that exist in Britain. It might even be relevant that, in contrast with Britain and France, the US has no former colonial populations - no equivalent of French Algerians or British Pakistanis.

But surely the chief reason is the way America approaches newcomers. It does not allow a vacuum where national identity should be, but fills the void with Americanness. Loyalty is instilled constantly - not only at one-off ceremonies - whether it be saluting the flag at school or singing the national anthem at a ballgame.
"What, you don't do all that in Britain?" asks Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations when I put the contrast to him yesterday. His members have "a definite sense of being American", he told me, and clear loyalty. Yes, they feel "concern" over events in Iraq or the Middle East, but not "anger or rage" - and it's voiced by lobbying a congressman or writing a letter to the editor. Of course, there is an identification with Muslims around the world, but that sits alongside loyalty to America. Which exerts the greater hold? "It's like asking me who I love more, my mother or my father?" The answer is, he loves them both.

It seems there are two ways to fill the identity vacuum. The French model of citizenship, which asks people to shed their differences to become French. Or the American, which allows people to keep their differences - and become American. Hooper points out that while the French government banned the wearing of Muslim headscarves in school, the US justice department recently backed an Oklahoma girl's fight for the right to wear one in class.

Britons' instincts would probably lean towards the American approach. Britain, like the US, is built on difference. Our crypto-federal structure, welding Scots, English and Welsh, allows for that; successive waves of immigrants have added to the mix.

But here's the difference. America works because it emphasises not only diversity but the ties that bind, too. It encourages a hyphenated identity - think Italian-American - but insists on both sides of the hyphen. In Britain, liberals especially have striven so hard to accept that people are Scottish or Jewish or Asian, they may have forgotten that they are also British. For bothness to work, you have to have both.

In other words, we let the Britishness part of the equation lapse. We were frightened of it, fearing that it reeked of compulsion or white-only exclusivity. But Britishness, like Americanness, need not be like that. It should, by its nature, be open to all. And yet it does entail some common glue: rule of law and tolerance, for a start.
This, then, is the challenge. To forge a Britishness which welcomes difference - but which is not so loose, so nebulous, that it leaves a hole where national identity should be.

We need that sense of kinship if we are to see each other as members of a shared society - not representatives of a faceless enemy.

Salah, natty and academic!
Pic Sam

Hadi, in a recent picture. Casual and free-spirited as ever!
Pic Sam