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The Islamic State (IS) likely will create a branch in the Philippines and declare the southern island of Mindanao a Wilayat (province) in 2016.
After various local militant groups spent a year in 2014-15 discussing pledges of allegiance to the self-appointed caliph of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, they united and formed a council of representatives (Ahlus Shura) that appointed Isnilon Totoni Hapilon as the overall leader of an IS branch in the Philippines.
Hapilon heads the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan, an island-province that lies off Mindanao.
Al-Naba, an official IS newspaper, reported about the unification of at least four groups (“battalions’) of God’s fighters (“mujahidin”) in the southern Philippines, and referred to Hapilon as “Sheikh Mujahid Abu Abdullah al-Filipini.”
It described him as of “one of the senior figures of the Mujahideen in the Philippines.”
“His jihad against the Crusaders began more than 20 years ago when he was a leader in the Abdul Razaq Abu Bakr Al-Janjalani Movement, commonly known as Abu Sayyaf Group. He was the Amir of Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan for five years before he became the deputy leader for six years,” al-Naba said.
The choice of a highly experienced and a notorious leader in Hapilon to lead IS’s future province in the Philippines presents a long-term threat to the stability and the security of Southeast Asia.
An oath in the jungle
In January 2016, IS announced the unification of four of these battalions in the Philippines and the allegiance of their leaders to al-Baghdadi.
The four battalions are Ansar al-Shariah, Ma’rakah al-Ansar, Ansarul Khilafah Philippines, and al- Harakatul al-Islamiyyah, which is based in Basilan.
Abu Anas al-Mujahir, who leads Ansar al-Shariah, represented the various battalions as they took an oath in which they swore allegiance to IS’s caliph.
Abu Anas Al Muhajir is a Malaysian who is also known as Mohammad bin Najib bin Hussein. His battalion is in charge of laws and other matters pertaining to jurisprudence. He intentionally did not mask himself during the oath ceremony, which was videotaped.
Considering the importance given to a Malaysian by Hapilon, the ASG leader, Malaysians are likely to travel to Mindanao to join IS.
Ma’rakah al-Ansar battalion leader Abu Ammar could not attend the event, but sent someone in his place. Abu Harith, who represented the battalion in Ammar’s absence, is from Sulu, where ASG supremo Radulan Sahiron is based. Sulu is an island in the Sulu Archipelago between Mindanao in the Philippines and Sabah in Malaysia.
The appearance of Abu Harith, a former ASG member, reflected a split within the ASG, in which a small but important faction had defected to IS.
In addition to ASG, a new group, Ansarul Khilafah Philippines, joined the Islamic State. Based in South Cotabato province, Sarangani province and General Santos City, Ansarul Khilafah Philippines is headed by Abu Sharifah, who is fluent in Tagalog.
A total of 31 armed Filipinos and Malaysians met in Basilan and took part in the ceremonial oath presided over by Hapilon. Previously, the four battalions had pledged to serve IS individually, not collectively.
In addition to members of Ansarul Khilafah Philippines and the Malaysians, most of those present were members of the ASG. Its ranking members who were on hand included Talha Tanadjalin, an experienced combat tactician and the brother of Suhud Tanadjani, the sniper-trainer for the Basilan-based ASG.
After Hapilon and his group pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi, IS publicized the event in the Philippines.
“The unification of the Mujahideen under one leadership and banner of the Caliphate is seen as a huge threat to the tyrants of the Philippines and is an important step in order to liberate areas in Southeast Asia in general. It has a huge significance in the spreading of tawhid (monotheism) in the region, fighting the Christians, Buddhists and other polytheists as well as establishing the religion of Allah in this part of the world,” IS announced through al-Naba and online dissemination of the video of the mass oath-taking ceremony in Basilan.
“The Philippines is an archipelago that consists of many islands located in the Pacific Ocean. For centuries, it was occupied by the Christian Dutch and Americans who forced many of the inhabitants to revoke Islam and embrace Christianity,” IS said.
“Today, the Christians govern the Philippines and its capital Manila. Nevertheless, jihadi movements have spread in the country’s various remote islands, and jihad against the Christians has continued for decades.”
A potential regional threat
Since 2014, the Islamic State has engaged the threat groups in the Philippines with the aim of building an ideological and operational capability in the region.
With preparations now under way to proclaim an IS branch in the southern Philippines, IS’s influence and ideology is likely to grow, affecting both the southern Philippines and eastern Malaysia.
Furthermore, IS will likely create a safe haven in Basilan and mount operations from the Sulu Archipelago into both the Philippines and Malaysia.
In addition to enforcing the supplanting of the local practice of Islam by IS’s radical interpretation of the religion, IS-type beheadings and attacks bringing mass casualties and fatalities are likely.
The most enduring threat will be the creation of terrorist training camps, which will lure not only Southeast Asians but people from other regions. Recent developments indicate that Uyghurs who could not travel to Syria to join al-Nusra or IS in the Middle East travelled to Indonesia.
The nationalities undertaking training in the new IS province will pose a threat to their home countries. Since 1994, when Jemaah Islamiyah established its first training camp, Hudaibiyah, the Philippines became the training ground for Indonesians, Malaysians, Singaporeans, Thai Muslims and Arabs.
Most of the instructors were non-Filipinos trained by al-Qaeda. In addition to moving its officers to implement the IS brand of Islam, it is very likely that IS will dispatch its explosives experts, combat tacticians and other operatives to Southeast Asia.
IS plans for declaring a state for itself in Mindanao presents a real threat to the stability and security of Asia, a region that has hitherto enjoyed political stability, social harmony and economic growth.
For its part, the government of the Philippines made significant gains in engaging the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in a peace process that proved a success. However, the ASG and a few smaller groups continue to fight to create an independent Moro homeland.
The Philippines lacks political leadership and military operational capability needed to dismantle the insurgent and terrorist infrastructure in Mindanao, especially in the Sulu archipelago.
The IS-initiated merger of the various battalions and the unification of their leaders will present an unprecedented challenge to the government in Manila. In their new role as the “soldiers of the Caliphate” in the Philippines, the local IS branch will mount operations that gradually will mirror the core of IS in Syria and Iraq.
There is no better time for the Philippines to act.
But if President Aquino procrastinates as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, IS ideology will spread in his country, damaging a commendable and hard-won peace process.
The four “battalions” of IS will grow in strength, size and influence, as well as and pose an enduring challenge to his successors. Soon, IS will declare a satellite of the caliphate in Sulu.
Ideally, Aquino should try and preempt such a declaration by IS. To win Muslim hearts and minds and undercut Muslim support for IS, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should pursue a mandate of promoting economic development in impoverished Basilan and its surrounding areas, rather focusing its strategy solely on isolating and eliminating the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Finally, to preempt the imminent declaration of an IS Wilayat in the Philippines and a local branch of IS, the Philippine military should deploy in strength in Sulu, Basilan and Tawi Tawi.
If the armed forces of the Philippines can dominate the Sulu Archipelago, IS will fail in declaring, operating and expanding an satellite province in the country and a base in Southeast Asia.
The story has been published with permission from BenarNews
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.