SACW Feb 9-10 2011 | S Asia to Africa and USA: Reactionaries Bloom / Nobel Laureates Appeal for Binayak / A Political History of Healing

Harsh Kapoor aiindex at
Wed Feb 9 21:01:30 EST 2011

South Asia Citizens Wire -  Dispatch No. 2708 - February 9-10, 2011

[1] Afghan Human Rights Groups Shift Focus to Taliban
[2] Pakistan: Religious zealots and political Islam (Manzur Ejaz)
[3] Bangladesh: Intimidation of the Ahmadiyas unacceptable (Editorial: New Age)
[4] India: 40 Nobel Laureates Appeal for Doctor Binayak Sen
[5] India - Communalism:
  - Media Manipulation, Narendra Modi role in Gujarat Pogroms of 2002 and the SIT Report (Ram Puniyani)
  - Church attacks justified by cover commission in Karnataka (Frontline)
  - India's continued Taboo over a Uniform Civil Code
  - RSS-sponsored congregation in Madhya Pradesh sparks fears among Christians
  - Debate on Law Commission’s recommendations on religious conversion
[6] Egypt / Indonesia / Sudan / USA: Democracy and Demilitarisation Yes, But Don't white wash the Egyptian Religious Right
   - Movements in Egypt: The US Realigns (Samir Amin)
   - Autumn of the patriarchs (Aijaz Ahmad)
   - Egypt's Military-Industrial Complex: Why the Generals Wield Such Power (Ken Stier)
   - Egypt's army 'involved in detentions and torture' (Chris McGreal)
   - "We Became One in the Street": Leading Egyptian Feminist Nawal El Saadawi Says Egyptians are More United than Ever
   - States accused of cracking down on activists
   - Islamic Hard-Liners Attack Court and Churches in Indonesia (NY Times)
   - Murder in God's name (The Economist)
   - Is this Pakistanism in Sudan? (Ali Mazrui)
   - Religion no excuse for promoting scientific ignorance (Lawrence M. Krauss)
   - A new battle on abortion rights (Ashley Sayeau)
[7] Book Announcement:
The Art and Science of Healing Since Antiquity by Daya Ram Varma
[8] Events: Announcements:
(i) Development with Dignity: Looking Beyond - A discussion meeting and workshop with Prof. Amit Bhaduri (13 February 2011, Calcutta)
(ii) Kashmir: A Youth Perspective Panel Discussion (18 February 2011, Cambridge, MA)


[1] Afghanistan:

The New York Times


By Rod Nordland
Published: February 9, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan — International and local human rights groups working in Afghanistan have shifted their focus toward condemning abuses committed by the Taliban insurgents, rather than those attributed to the American military and its allies.

Outraged by growing civilian casualties, many activists are now calling for the insurgents to be investigated for war crimes and viewed as war criminals. The insurgents are now blamed for more than three-fourths of all civilian casualties, according to United Nations statistics, and those casualties increased by 20 percent last year.

Several groups have approached the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which has been conducting a preliminary inquiry into war crimes charges in Afghanistan.

The activists’ concern would have been unheard of a year ago, when a series of large-scale civilian casualty episodes caused by NATO forces outraged Afghans and prompted President Hamid Karzai to repeatedly condemn his own allies. Human rights groups joined the chorus of blame.

Now, the episodes that activists say they worry most about no longer stem from NATO aerial bombardments or special forces night raids but from the insurgents’ indiscriminate use of suicide bombers, assassinations and improvised explosive devices. According to United Nations figures, those attacks caused more than 1,800 civilian deaths from January to October 2010. By comparison, NATO forces are blamed for up to 508 civilian deaths last year, according to the Afghanistan Rights Monitor, an independent Afghan group, or even fewer, according to United Nations or NATO figures.

The change in attitude is prompted by more than just raw statistics. NATO and American military leaders have made reducing civilian casualties a cornerstone of their policy and have moved quickly to investigate claims of abuses and often issued apologies.

“NATO, in some cases they acknowledge their mistakes; to some extent they have taken positive steps in terms of reducing their impact,” said Ajmal Samadi, director of A.R.M. “On the insurgent side we don’t have any acknowledgment of the problem and instead we see a brazen continuation of their crimes.”

Afghanistan Rights Monitor is no stalking horse for the government. Last year, Mr. Karzai’s spokesman Waheed Omer attacked the group as supporting the enemy. “We said it will take a miracle to win this war under Hamid Karzai’s leadership, and he didn’t like that,” Mr. Samadi said.

While a code of conduct put out by the Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, in 2009 and updated last June called for avoiding civilian casualties, the Taliban have since claimed responsibility for many attacks where civilians were, if not necessarily the targets, the main victims.

“We haven’t seen any change in the conduct of the Taliban since their code of conduct,” said Ahmad Nader Nadery, a commissioner of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. “To the contrary, we’ve seen an increase in roadside bombs and suicide attacks in places where there are civilian populations.”

A Jan. 29 attack on the Finest Supermarket in Kabul by a Taliban member, using both firearms and a suicide bomb vest, was both a recent example of the insurgents’ disregard for civilians and something of a watershed event for the human rights community.

Among the 14 civilian victims was a prominent human rights activist, Hamida Barmaki, her husband and their four young children; the youngest victim, her 2-year-old son, had a bullet wound in the head as well as blast wounds. When his body was found, clutched in his hand was the scorched remains of a plastic shopping bag handle.

That galvanized many in the rights community, and a memorial service held in Ms. Barmaki’s honor on Feb. 1 at the Human Rights Commission turned into a series of impassioned eulogies, mostly denouncing the insurgents for singling out civilians.

“Killing innocent people is a mortal sin, and under the holy religion of Islam, those who did this are condemned to hell,” said Sima Samar, the head of the rights commission.

Rights groups have not stopped criticizing international forces, particularly over the issue of night raids, which often result in civilian casualties. Many say, as well, that the increased tempo of NATO operations is to blame for the greater frequency of all attacks, including those that end in civilian casualties.

But human rights advocates’ main emphasis has shifted to what amounts to an insurgent killing rampage among softer, civilian targets — whom insurgents kill more than twice as often as they kill government or coalition forces.

For the first time last summer, the United Nations’ twice-yearly report on the protection of civilians in Afghanistan, which previously focused on NATO and Afghan government violations, blamed the insurgents for engaging in “unlawful means of warfare through increased use of IEDs, suicide attacks and assassinations that violate Afghans’ basic right to life and the international humanitarian law principles.”

Taliban officials reacted furiously to the report, denying its conclusion that insurgents caused most civilian deaths and proposing a “joint commission” between the United Nations and insurgents to study the problem.

That was a rare response, however. “With the insurgents there is no channel to convey our concerns,” said Mr. Samadi of Afghanistan Rights Monitor. “Instead of acknowledging it, they start threatening us. Last year they issued a statement accusing us of being puppets of the invaders and supporting the American crusaders.”

In addition, he said, armed insurgents went looking for the home of A.R.M.’s Kandahar representative in December, forcing his relocation and replacement. Mr. Nadery of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said one of the group’s regional leaders was kidnapped by the Taliban and swiftly beheaded in retribution for his commission work.
At War

Notes from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other areas of conflict in the post-9/11 era. Go to the Blog »

“NATO, with the tactical directives, they’ve moved a long way,” said Rachel Reid, Human Rights Watch’s Afghanistan analyst. “It’s very possible to engage with them, even organizations like mine, they’ll meet with us and listen to our concerns.”

“There is a real need for more pressure and open dialogue with insurgent forces for their violations of the laws of war,” she said.

She was among human rights activists who have met with the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, encouraging at least a preliminary investigation of human rights abuses on all sides. “He’s interested, and his ears are open,” she said.

The prosecutor’s office “is examining alleged crimes within the jurisdiction of the court by all actors involved,” said Florence Olara, a spokesman for the prosecutor. “A preliminary examination however does not necessarily mean the prosecutor will open an investigation.”

Last August, Amnesty International called on the court to step in. “The Taliban and other insurgent groups should be investigated and prosecuted for war crimes,” the group declared.

The Human Rights Commission had a meeting on Saturday at which it discussed formally calling on the court to investigate Taliban war crimes, but it has made no decision, Mr. Nadery said. “We are exploring other ways to bring pressure on the Taliban about civilian casualties, and one option is to ask the I.C.C.,” he said.

That initiative is complicated by efforts to start reconciliation talks between the government and the Taliban. As part of that, the Karzai government pushed through an amnesty law that specifically absolves any insurgent who stops fighting and accepts the government of all past war crimes and crimes against humanity — an amnesty so broad that it runs contrary to international law.

On top of that, American officials have shown little enthusiasm for the involvement of the International Criminal Court. Fearing prosecution of its own soldiers, the United States has never signed the treaty that established the court, although Afghanistan has.


[2] Pakistan:

Daily Times, February 09, 2011


by Dr Manzur Ejaz

The assault by religious zealots has now been undertaken by the Sunni Tehreek. The transformation of this otherwise peaceful group of Muslims shows how deep an effect the religious right-wing has had in radicalising all other religious parties and sects. Now, it can be safely said that there is no tolerant Islamic sect among Pakistani Muslims

It seems that the movement for Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (TNR) has become a source of political power for the mullahs. As expected, wherever there is power, there are contenders for the throne. Thus, the intense competition between the mullahs has begun and it is in fact a stampede under which Pakistan is being brutalised and crushed.

The prime mover of the TNR is the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the mother of most theocratic and extremist religious trends. Presently, the JI is competing for influence for itself versus Fazlur Rehman but that is its secondary goal; the main goal is political power. For the JI, the TNR is a vehicle to keep religious parties united and to slowly dismantle what is left of the secular institutions of the state. The Taliban and other jihadi groups fit very well in its strategy to undo the system. Therefore, while the Taliban and other jihadis keep the state engaged with guns, the JI provides a political cover to them with rhetoric. The ‘Free Aafia Siddiqui’ and TNR movements are just political covers masterfully orchestrated by the JI.

The JI uses very subtle and sophisticated means to stoke the fires of religious extremism and bigotry. It tries to give the impression that it is temperate and modernistic unlike jihadi groups like the Taliban, but this is far from the truth: the JI uses the Taliban’s crude methodology in educational institutions where they have real influence. To its credit, the JI has slowly implanted the ‘Campus Model’ elsewhere in society. What is happening in Punjab is a macro version of what happened in Punjab University since the 1970s.
[. . .].


[3] Bangladesh: 

New Age, 10 February 2011


Ahmadiyas, a minority sect of Islam has been exposed to intimidation once again. Attacks on homes and places of worship of Ahmadiyas are not new phenomenon in this country, although article 41 of the state’s constitution unambiguously says that ‘every citizen has the right to profess, practice or propagate any religion’ and that ‘every religious community or denomination has the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions’. This time, the Ahmadiyas were not allowed to hold their annual convention, which was scheduled to take place at the Rover Scout Training Center at Bahadurpur in Gazipur.

The Ahmadiyas duly secured prior permission of the government authorities concerned, but on the eve of the convention, the authorities revoked the permission on the ground, as New Age reported on Tuesday, the ‘local people objected’ to the holding of the convention! Subsequently, the administration asked the Ahmadiyas to leave the place, and thus failed to uphold the constitutional responsibility of the state to protect the rights of the religious sect to exercise its faith.

The government authorities, in the present case, have done just the opposite to what it is obligated to do. It was their responsibility to tackle those who objected to the holding of the convention of the Ahamadiya to uphold the latter’s constitutional right. Instead, they have given indulgence to those who were objecting to the convention in violation of the constitutional provisions of the state. Such indulgence would encourage the majority community of Islam further to intimidate the minority sect in future. The irresponsible act of the administration would definitely send an adverse message to the world to the effect that the state of Bangladesh is intolerant to the minority religious sects, and thus tarnish the image of the country abroad. The local administration has thus done a serious disservice to the image of Bangladesh abroad.

It is common knowledge in Bangladesh that the most of the mainstream Muslims of the country are tolerant to, and accommodative of the minority communities – religious or ethnic. It is the small vested groups of chauvinists, religious and ethnic, who are intolerant to the minority groups. Under such circumstances, the government authorities should act strongly in favours of the minority communities, instead of indulging themselves in patronising the undemocratic chauvinist groups.

We strongly believe that the cancellation of the Ahamadiya convention by the local administration calls for the country’s elected government, which love to claim itself as secular every now and then, to punish the local authorities for its failure to protect the constitutional right of the minority sect. Meanwhile, the democratically oriented sections of the society raise their voice against such discriminatory treatments of the minoririty religious communities by the government administration – local or central.


[4] India:

February 8, 2011


We, the 38* undersigned Nobel Laureates, respectfully express our astonishment and dismay at the unjust life sentence handed down last month in India to a fellow scientist and human rights advocate, 61-year-old Dr. Binayak Sen.

We note that, when Dr. Sen was on trial in 2008 and many of us appealed for his release on bail, a year later the Supreme Court of India concurred with our opinion and ordered his immediate release.  Several months after voicing our concern about Dr. Sen’s detention, one of us traveled to Chhattisgarh; met government officials; consulted Dr. Sen’s family, lawyers, and colleagues; visited his remote clinic to learn more about his selfless work with the Adivasis; and, after a few days and many hours spent waiting in the Raipur prison yard, finally met with Dr. Sen himself in the presence of the prison warden.

We have seen that Dr. Sen is an exceptional, courageous, and selfless colleague, dedicated to helping those in India who are least able to help themselves.  Yet his recompense has been two years in prison under difficult conditions, a blatantly unfair trial lasting two years in the so-called “Fast Track” Sessions Court, an unjust conviction of sedition and conspiracy, and condemnation to life imprisonment.

We earnestly hope that our renewed appeal is heard.  We know that there are leaders in India who have the power, humanity, patriotism, and decency to speak out against this injustice.  We entreat those leaders to act now, to urge Dr. Sen’s immediate release on bail, and insist that this time his appeal is heard without delay under the highest standards of Indian law. 

Surely, those who would see the largest democracy in the world survive and thrive can do no less at this crucial time for both Dr. Sen and for the future of justice in India.


Peter Agre, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2003
Kenneth J. Arrow, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 1972
Richard Axel, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2004
David Baltimore, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1975
Martin Chalfie, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2008
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1997
Robert Curl, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996
Johann Deisenhofer, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1988
Richard R. Ernst, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1991
Edmond H. Fischer, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1992
Walter Gilbert, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1980
Roy J. Glauber, Nobel Prize in Physics, 2005
Paul Greengard, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2000
David J. Gross, Nobel Prize in Physics, 2004
Roger Guillemin, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1977
Dudley Herschbach, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986
Antony Hewish, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1974
H. Robert Horvitz, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2002
François Jacob, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1965
Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 2002
Eric R. Kandel, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2000
Lawrence R. Klein, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 1980
Roger D. Kornberg, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2006
Sir Harold W. Kroto, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996
Finn E. Kydland, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 2004 
Yuan T. Lee, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986
Rita Levi-Montalcini, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1986
Roderick MacKinnon, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2003
Sir James Mirrlees, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 1996
Joseph E. Murray, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1990
Douglas D. Osheroff, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1996
John C. Polanyi, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986
V. Ramakrishnan, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2009
Sir Richard Roberts, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1993
Jens C. Skou, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1998
Jack Steinberger, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1988
Sir John Sulston, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2002
Charles H. Townes, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1964 
Klaus von Klitzing, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1985
Torsten N. Wiesel, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1981

*After this appeal was released two additional Nobel Laureates requested to sign it, bringing the total number of signatories to 40 as of 18h EST on Tuesday, February 8.  Their names are included above.


[5] India - Communalism:

Goebbels is being outplayed in Gujarat
by Ram Puniyani

The report has squarely put the blame of carnage on Modi. All the charges against him stand vindicated in the SIT investigation report. The report practically confirms all the findings of the people’s tribunal and other Citizens committees who painstakingly investigated the Gujarat violence and called it a pogrom. The SIT report submitted to the Supreme Court tells that Modi had tried to alter the situation in the Gulbarg society by saying, by now most infamous, ‘every action has equal and opposite reaction’. SIT report confirms that Gujarat Government had deputed ministers in the police control room, a move which gave the management of violence in the political hands making it more horrific and motivated act. It was a common knowledge that few honest police officers, who had stood by the call of their duty and prevented the aggravation of violence, were transferred to insignificant postings.
Goebbels is being outplayed in Gujarat. This whole episode should make us do the introspection as to how to ensure that ‘truth shall prevail’ in present circumstance. Also which are these forces, politics-media alliance which can manipulate the mass thinking at will by publishing that ‘SIT has given clean chit to Modi’? If we cannot wake up to this stark fact of our society, such popular perceptions  will be laying the ground for the mass murderers to keep ruling with the great appreciation form the communal forces and captains of industry and they can also manipulate the opinion of masses in their favor. 

Full Text at:

o o o

Frontline, Feb. 12-25, 2011



SECULAR and Christian organisations in Karnataka have voiced strong protest against the report of the Justice B.K. Somasekhara Commission submitted to the government on January 28. They have done so on the basis of the highlights of the report put up on the commission's website and also the parts of the report made available selectively to the media. The entire report has not been released.

The one-man commission consisting of Justice Somasekhara, former judge in the High Courts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, was set up in September 2008 to “inquire into the sequence of events and circumstances leading to attack on the places of worship and incidents thereafter, which occurred during the month of September 2008 in Dakshina Kannada and other districts of Karnataka”.

Its terms of reference also included identifying the persons and organisations responsible for such incidents and ascertaining whether there was any negligence or lapses on the part of the district administrations in dealing with the situation.

The September 2008 incidents, mainly in Dakshina Kannada, were the first in a series of actions by fringe groups of the Hindu Right since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in Karnataka that year.

The attacks on churches, according to media reports then, looked planned and they evoked fear and insecurity in the Christian community in the State. Groups in the Sangh Parivar such as the Bajrang Dal claimed responsibility for them (“Now, Karnataka”, Frontline, October 10, 2008). Even the State Home Minister, Dr V.S. Acharya, had justified the violence by saying that there were reports of “forced conversions”.

Given the evidence produced by affected persons, including priests and nuns, and the audacity of the lumpen members of the Sangh Parivar in accepting their role in the attacks, the commission's job seemed fairly simple. The report, however, has come as a disappointment, as it has refused to recognise the government's culpability although it acknowledges that “misguided fundamentalist miscreants... have mistakenly presumed that they would be protected by the party in power with their policies at the relevant time”.

The highlights of the report show that the one-man commission has not done its best to fulfil its mandate. There are contradictions in the report. On the fundamental question as to who was responsible for the attacks, the commission says: “There is no basis to the apprehension of Christian petitioners that the Politicians, BJP, mainstream Sangha Parivar and State Government directly or indirectly, are involved in the attacks [ sic].”

It further states that the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Jagran Vedike (HJV) were responsible for attacks on 12 churches across the State. There is no doubt that the Bajrang Dal and the HJV are Sangh Parivar organisations, and Mahendra Kumar, the State president of the Bajrang Dal, is known to hobnob with BJP politicians, especially during the annual Datta Jayanthi celebration.

While concluding that the impression that police officers of the district administration colluded with the attackers is false, the report says that the police action against Christian protesters in several parts of the State was justified. It also indicts several police officers for failing in their duty to protect churches but refuses to connect the work of the police with the government. It is learnt from advocates present at the hearing that an application to summon the Home Minister to explain the failure of the police was ignored.

By and large, the commission has accepted the idea that religious conversions were the main reason for the attacks. According to a lawyers' forum that took part in the proceedings, the commission's work was an eyewash, with “pastors and priests who had suffered attacks being repeatedly and aggressively questioned as to their alleged conversion activities, almost making it seem that the attacks were justified”. By contrast, the report has paid little attention to the activists of the Sangh Parivar.

The Archbishop of Bangalore, in a press release, stated: “After going through the highlights of the final report of Justice Somashekara Commission, the entire Christian Community is disappointed and felt the report is very unfair. It also feels the Commission has very badly let down the Christian community.”

Fr Amborse Pinto, Principal of St Joseph's College, Bangalore, pointed out that there were no attacks on the Christian community before the BJP came to power. “Given the fact that it was a government's commission, the report is no surprise. The commission has done the biddings of its masters by wasting the resources of the state,” he said.

Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed

o o o

The Times of India


Feb 10, 2011, 12.00am IST

The failure of every administration since Independence to address one of Indian society's glaring shortcomings - the lack of a uniform civil code - has come in for criticism again. And just like every time, the ruling dispensation will brush it off with specious arguments. But the fact of the matter is that leaving minority communities out of the ambit of reform of personal laws that has - rightly - been implemented for the Hindu community is not a show of secularism. It is, as the Supreme Court has pointed out in this instance, precisely the opposite, undermining the basic concept of the rule of law applying equally to every citizen in a democracy.

This is an issue that has come up of late elsewhere as well, such as in British Prime Minister David Cameron's speech in which he attacked a particular brand of multiculturalism in Britain. The same kind of multiculturalism - one that has less to do with the positive aspects of tolerance and inclusiveness and more with the creation of insular religious or cultural ghettos for political purposes - is the problem when it comes to personal laws in India. It strikes at the root of liberal values, giving primacy to the community rather than to the individual and his rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

When the decision was first made by Jawaharlal Nehru's government to put aside the reform of the minority communities' personal laws, it may have been understandable even if divisive, given the horrors of Partition. But in the decades since, successive administrations have displayed both breathtaking cynicism and an utter lack of will, as in the Shah Bano case - despite repeated prodding by the Supreme Court. It is time to make this reform something more than an idealistic irrelevance languishing as a directive principle of state policy. 







Pambazuka News 
2 February 2011

by Samir Amin

Egypt is a cornerstone in the US plan of control of the planet.  Washington will not tolerate any attempt of Egypt to move out of its total submission, also required by Israel in order to pursue its colonisation of what remains from Palestine.  This is the exclusive target of Washington in its 'involvement' in the organisation of a 'soft transition'.  In that respect the US may consider that Hosni Mubarak should resign.  The newly appointed vice-president, Omar Soliman, head of army intelligence, would be in charge.  The army was careful not to associate with the repression, thus protecting its image.

Mohamed ElBaradei comes in at that point.  He is still more known outside than in Egypt, but could correct that quickly.  He is a 'liberal', having no concept of the management of the economy other than the ongoing, and cannot understand that this is precisely at the origin of the social devastation.  He is a democrat in the sense that he wants 'true elections' and the respect of law (stop arrests and torture), but nothing more.

It is not impossible that he would be a partner in the transition.  Yet the army and the country's intelligence will not abandon their dominant position in the ruling of the society.  Will ElBaradei accept it?

In case of 'success' and 'elections', the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) will become the major parliamentary force.  The US welcomes this and has qualified the MB as 'moderate', that is, docile and accepting the submission to the US strategy, leaving Israel free to continue its occupation of Palestine.  The MB is also fully in favour of the ongoing 'market' system, totally externally dependent.  They are also, in fact, partners in the 'compradore' ruling class.  They took a position against the working-class strikes and the peasants' struggles to keep their ownership of land.

The US plan for Egypt is very similar to the Pakistani model, a combination of 'political Islam' and army intelligence.  The MB could compensate their alignment on such a policy by precisely being 'not moderate' in their behaviour towards the Copts.  Can such a system be delivered a certificate of 'democracy'?

The movement is that of urban youth, particularly holders of diplomas with no jobs, and supported by segments of the educated middle classes and democrats.  The new regime could perhaps make some concessions -- enlarge the recruitment in the state apparatus, for example -- but hardly more.

Of course things could change if the working-class and peasants' movement moves in.  But this does not seem to be on the agenda.  As long as the economic system is managed in accordance with the rules of the 'globalisation game', none of the problems which resulted in the protest movement can really be solved.

Samir Amin is an Egyptian economist. 

[For those who read french see more comprehensive comments by Samir Amin on developments in Egypt and the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood, that some on the left circles outside egypt see as an ally.]


by Aijaz Ahmad

By Ken Stier,8599,2046963,00.html

Military accused by human rights campaigners of targeting hundreds of anti-government protesters
by Chris McGreal in Cairo



o o o


The New York Times

Published: February 8, 2011

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Hundreds of Islamic hard-liners stormed a courthouse and set two churches on fire in central Java on Tuesday to protest what they considered a lenient sentence for a Christian convicted of blaspheming Islam.

The Christian, Antonius Richmond Bawengan, was found guilty of distributing books and leaflets that “spread hatred about Islam” and was sentenced to five years in prison, the maximum term.

The violence came two days after Muslim villagers carrying machetes and sticks attacked members of Ahmadiyya, a minority Muslim sect, in Banten Province. Several people were killed as outnumbered police officers failed to stop the brutality.

Tuesday’s events began in front of the district court in Temanggung, where the trial was held, and spread to surrounding neighborhoods, said a police spokesman, Col. Djahartono, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. Members of the crowd, who apparently wanted Mr. Bawengan to receive the death penalty, also threw rocks at a school and set a police truck and several cars and motorcycles on fire. Riot police officers fired into the air to disperse the crowd.

Witnesses said that at least nine people were hospitalized and that the police led some protesters away for questioning.

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court upheld the blasphemy law last year, saying that it did not limit religious freedom and that it was vital to religious harmony in a secular nation.

Human rights advocates say the law discriminates against believers who are outside the mainstream of six officially recognized faiths (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism). They also say the law is largely used to defend Islam, the dominant religion of Indonesia’s 240 million people.

o o o


Feb 8th 2011, 12:47 by R.C. | JAKARTA

INDONESIANS are reeling from one of their country’s most awful incidents of religious violence in years. It happened on February 6th, in a village in Banten, the western end of Java, not far from Jakarta, a district where strictly Islamist parties poll well. Out of keeping with the more usual pattern of Muslim-versus-Christian attacks, this was a mob attack by Muslims against men who claimed to be their own fellows: members of a Islamic sect called the Ahmadiyah.

Three Ahmadis were killed and five seriously injured in a frenzy of violence: footage of the assault was deemed too graphic to be shown on Indonesian TV news, which tends to have a fairly high tolerance for the stuff. Instead the footage is circulating on the internet, if you have the stomach. Indonesians are asking what could have motivated religious people to commit such a barbaric act (“sadistic” is a word being bandied around)—and why the police were so feeble in their attempts to stop it.

Nerves have been frayed further by another spate of religious violence, first reported this morning. Elsewhere in Java a Muslim mob burned down three Christian churches, all the while calling for the death penalty to be brought against a Christian man whom they accused of blaspheming against Islam. They were apparently unsatisfied by the judgment of a court, which had already given him the harshest sentence available (five years in jail) for distributing leaflets that insulted Islam. This sort of mob violence is not rare enough.

But Sunday’s lynching was something on a different scale entirely. These murders were aimed at the sect itself. Ahmadiyah was established in India in 1889; modern Ahmadis believe that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a prophet and messiah. This, of course, contradicts orthodox strains of Islam, which all hold that Muhammad was the final prophet.

Non-Ahmadi Muslims have long regarded Ahmadiyah as an apostasy. Its adherents are a persecuted minority almost everywhere they are to be found: the Pakistani Taliban carried out an especially terrible massacre of Ahmadi worshippers in May 2010. There have been attacks on them before in Indonesia, perhaps three in the past decade, but nothing remotely as gruesome as what happened on Sunday. A local group of Ahmadis had gathered at the home of their leader and then refused to disperse, despite complaints made by their neighbours. A 1,500-strong mob then arrived at the house, dragged the people from inside their mosque and fell on them with machetes, knives and sticks.

The sheer savagery of the attack shocked the rest of the country. Many Indonesians also felt let down by the police, not for the first time. The local police had been aware of the threat posed to the Ahmadis, and indeed they asked them to leave, for their own safety. The Ahmadis had replied that is was the police’s job to guarantee their safety, according to the constitution.

The footage of the attack shows that the police’s attempts to stop the mob were half-hearted at best. To critics of Indonesia’s police force, their pitiful effort is further proof of a lack of direction and authority at the top. The president, Susilo Bambang Yudhyono, has dithered in his defence of Ahmadiyah, sometimes suggesting that he might sympathise with its persecutors. As one disappointed adviser to the government told me, yet again the state has proven itself to be weak and ineffective when it comes to upholding laws concerning the freedom of religion.

And all this in Interfaith Harmony Week, launched amid considerable pomp and ceremony at the Jakarta Convention Centre on the very same morning at the attacks. As my government interlocutor admitted, Indonesia still has a way to go to “walk the talk” one hears so often: of a peaceful and tolerant country of many faiths. 

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The Guardian, 9 February 2011


Borders in Africa have long caused conflict. Now Sudan's Christian-Muslim divide could raise tensions

by Ali Mazrui

The referendum in Sudan, which will result in the secession of the south, is the first redrawing of an African colonial border by popular vote. The question many are asking is whether this will create a precedent across the continent.

When African heads of state created the Organisation of African Unity in 1963, they committed themselves to fighting colonialism and its legacy. Yet the one legacy they had no intention of ending was the borders of their own countries.

Some "decolonised" their national names. The Gold Coast became Ghana, Northern Rhodesia became Zambia, Nyasaland became Malawi. But almost none of them were prepared to decolonise their boundaries. The new African Union, formed in 2002, renewed this commitment.

So the Southern Sudan referendum was truly historic. In this country, the size of western Europe, it took two civil wars, the death of more than a million people and the displacement of millions of others to reach the simple decision to allow Southern Sudanese people to determine their own territorial destiny.

I have discussed the Sudanese civil wars with former presidents Jaafar Nimeiri and Omar el Bashir. Both were stubbornly protective of territorial integrity. Like other African leaders they were afraid of the domino effect. Even now, many in Khartoum fear that Southern Sudan's independence could lead to similar separatist demands in Darfur.

The borders of African countries were an aftermath of the Berlin conference of 1884-5 at which 14 European countries negotiated their scramble for Africa. The boundaries were drawn to suit the colonial powers, with little regard for the history or cultural cohesion of the colonised peoples. They often divided people who belonged together and forcefully enclosed communities who had no experience of shared government or economic co-operation.

The most absurd was the division of the Somali people into five parts – separate British, Italian and French colonies, with a fourth Somali fragment integrated into Ethiopia and a fifth into colonial Kenya. The Somalian people have never recovered.

Changing African boundaries by unification seemed at the time to be a better method than , and in 1960 British and Italian Somaliland integrated into the independent state of Somalia. Unfortunately the Somali experiment of amalgamation subsequently collapsed, leaving the former Italian Somaliland in chaos while the former British fragment experimented with a stable democracy but without international recognition.

Postcolonial Africa has suffered from two main causes of civil wars: conflicts of identity (like the Hutu versus Tutsi in Rwanda); and conflicts over resources (like petroleum in the Niger Delta). However, trying to redraw Africa's political map may cause more problems over both issues than it solves. After all, there are more than 2,000 ethnic groups on the continent. If territorial self-determination was granted to even a tenth of them, it would be reduced to dozens of warring mini-states – especially when the location of minerals coincides with ethnic differences.

Since 1960 there have been more attempts to change boundaries by secession than by amalgamation. After a 30-year war for independence (1962-92), Eritrea successfully seceded from Ethiopia. The conflict developed from civil war to a conventional war between separate sovereign states. Sadly the interstate war was better armed on both sides with tanks and war planes, and the casualties escalated.

The Nigerian civil war of 1967-70 was an attempt by the Eastern region to create a separate state, Biafra. Federal Nigeria won, and retained its territorial integrity. But Nigeria has continued to have ethnic and religious conflicts, short of secession, ever since.

The most enduring boundary change by amalgamation has been the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964, to create Tanzania.

Most of Africa's separatist movements since independence have consisted of ethnic rather than religious groups trying to secede. In the 1950s Kwame Nkrumah was afraid of what he called "Pakistanism" – partition on religious grounds. African nationalists disapproved of the partition of British India as a solution to Hindu-Muslim tensions. Particularly vulnerable at that time was Nigeria, with its Muslim-majority north and Christian-majority south.

Now, at last, at last Pakistanism has arrived in Sudan, where the Christian-led south will separate from the Muslim-majority north. Southern Sudanese have played the religious card, accusing Northern Sudanese of religious intolerance. In this regard the aftermath of this referendum will almost certainly overshadow in importance both the popular popular uprising against President Nimeiri in 1985 and the popular revolt in Khartoum against President Ibrahim Abboud in 1964.

Even Southern Sudan on its own is multi-ethnic internally. After the euphoria of independence is over there is anxiety that smaller groups in the south may start to resent the supremacy of the Dinka as a potentially dominant "tribe". who will have to handle their southern compatriots with great sensitivity.

And all this is quite apart from rivalry over petroleum resources. Debates about who benefits more have torn Nigeria asunder; Southern Sudan needs to be even more careful.

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by Lawrence M. Krauss

Republicans are using healthcare repeal to try to roll back abortion rights. Who will speak up for American women's needs?
by Ashley Sayeau




by Daya Ram Varma MD, PhD

Why are there many schools of medicine when this is not true for other sciences such as physics and chemistry? Author Daya Ram Varma MD, PhD, explores the answer to this question as he shares an in-depth study on The Art and Science of Healing Since Antiquity.

This book  represents a distillation of the author´s understanding of the origins of medicine. The modern medicine, like all schools of medicine, is a child of spiritual medicine commonly known as witchcraft. It has made gigantic advances, but not enough to remain unchallenged by other streams of the witchcraft. The Art and Science of Healing Since Antiquity is an attempt to analyze how witchcraft unfolded into its different variants and why modern medicine is its most rational expression.

As readers browse through the pages, they will see how the author endeavors to show that witchcraft, or spiritual medicine, is the medical
expression of a gathering and hunting society, Ayurveda, Chinese and Greek medicine of an agricultural society and modern medicine of a capitalist society. Through The Art and Science of Healing Since Antiquity, Dr. Varma attempts to present a political history of medicine that would help readers gain an insight into different schools of medicine and assist them in making a rational choice.

Trade Paperback: $23.99
Hardback: $34.99
Pages: 413
ISBN13: 978-1-4568-4210-9 (Trade Paperback)
ISBN13: 978-1-4568-4211-6 (Hardback)

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* Online:

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Bloomington, IN 47403

Read 4 Page excerpt at:


There is an old Chinese expression about ‘the Rivers going to pay court to the Sea’, and indeed one can well consider the older streams of science in the different civilisations like rivers flowing into the ocean of modern science. Modern science is indeed composed of contributions from all the peoples of the Old World, and each contribution has flowed continuously into it, whether from Greek or Roman antiquity, or from the Islamic world or from the cultures of China and India.
—Joseph Needham1

Notwithstanding Needham’s views quoted above, there is something unique about medical sciences. Here too rivers pay to the court but also continue to behave as if each rivulet was a sea. Consequently, there is the modern medicine as well other schools of medicines like Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and so on.

Medical historians have dealt with this issue, but their emphasis has been limited to modern medicine rather than a comparative exposure of different schools of medicine. There are not many narratives of medical history that can help the general public gain an insight into different schools of medicine and assist them in making a rational choice.

The modern medicine, like all schools of medicine, is a child of spiritual medicine commonly known as witchcraft. It has made gigantic advances, but not enough to remain unchallenged by other streams of the witchcraft. This book is an attempt to analyze how witchcraft unfolded into its different variants and why modern medicine is its most rational expression.
When I was a medical student at King George’s Medical College, Lucknow, India, from 1950–1955, I used to visit one Dr. Narendra Gupta, a professor of pathology and no fan of Ayurveda. On one occasion, he remarked that Ayurveda made a great contribution to medicine by ushering a departure from spiritualistic to materialistic medicine. Since then, I have pondered over the significance of Dr. Gupta’s remarks and over what sociopolitical or philosophic factors could have contributed to this switch from one to another phase of medicine. It occurred to me then that, someday, I would make it a complete story. However, this idea remained dormant for over fifty years and would never have materialized into this book had some bizarre development not taken place in India.

In 2006, Brinda Karat, a leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), publically highlighted the grievance of a certain female employee of the Ayurvedic Divya Yog Pharmacy in India that she had to grind animal tissues and bones as a part of her job. The proprietor of the pharmacy, Acharya Ramdev, controls a big institution with zealot followers; his disciples attacked the office of Karat’s party, and the whole episode received big publicity in the Indian media. This incident provoked me to write an article “The Uninterrupted Journey of Medical Science from Witchcraft to Allopathy” (Varma, 2006); here I used the term allopathy a bit loosely because the expected readership is more familiar with this term than with any other definition of modern medicine. In this book, the terms medicine and modern medicine are used for what commonly is called Hippocratic medicine; all other variants of medicine are defined. I do not treat modern medicine as Hippocratic medicine.

I received a number of complimentary comments about the this article (Varma, 2006). One of these was a suggestion from Gyan Publishers in Delhi that I convert the article into a book. I did not promise but decided to do so after pondering over what the content would and should be.

There are many books on the history of medicine (appendix 1). This book is an expanded version of that article in the Indian journal; the narration follows the style of medical historian Henry E. Sigerist (1891–1957).2 The term the age of in the titles is borrowed from the common word in the series by historian Eric J. Hobsbawm.3

In the pages that follow, I endeavor to show that witchcraft, or spiritual medicine, is the medical expression of a gathering and hunting society, Ayurveda, Chinese and Greek medicine of an agricultural society and modern medicine of a capitalist society.

1. Joseph Needham (1900–1995) In Science and Civilisation in China, V. 7 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 25.
2. Sigerist, H. E. A History of Medicine, V. I and II (New York: Oxford University Press, 1951 and 1961).
3. Hobsbawm, E. J. The Age of Revolution (1962), The Age of Capital (1975), The Age of Empire (1987), and The Age of Extremes (1994) (London: Abacus).
Varma, D. R. “From Witchcraft to Allopathy: Uninterrupted Journey of Medical Science,” Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai) 41 (2006): 3,605–3,611.

October 2010




Following up on a two day discussion in 2008 on a model of poverty alleviation, based on full employment and development of an internal market, we look beyond “Development with Dignity” in this meeting. Academics and activists will discuss the problems and potential of a post DwD approach as the basis of a feasible programme of economic development and political empowerment of the poor. Discussants include Prof. Amit Bhaduri and other academics and political and social activists.

Venue: ‘Jadunath Bhavan’, 10, Lake Terrace, Kolkata: 700029.
Time: Sunday, 13th February, 10 am to 5 pm

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Senior Vice-President at MTV, Nusrat Durrani, has been visiting the Kashmir Valley for the past 25 years, his presentation will utilize multimedia to begin telling the story of the Kashmir conflict from the point of view of Kashmiri youth.

His audio-visual presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with the Kashmir Initiative’s advisory board: Bob Nickelsberg, Suvir Kaul, Ayesha Jalal, and Angana Chatterji.

Moderated by Carr Center Executive Director, Charlie Clements.

February 18, 2011
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Wiener Auditorium (Taubman Building, Ground Floor) Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Cambridge, MA 

Presented by:
   The Kashmir Initiative
      at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy

Co-sponsored with:
   The Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the
      California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco


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