Saturday November 17, 2018
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Paris attacks, Islam and the war within

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Whether Islam is a religion of peace or it promotes terrorism is a wrong question to begin with. That’s what many people have been asking on social media in the wake of utterly reprehensible, tragic terrorist attacks in Paris. That’s what they usually ask after each and every attack where Muslim men or women are found to be involved.

‘Send Muslims back to deserts’, ‘deport them’ and ‘kill them all’ are some of the common phrases used by some.

These people forget while making hateful comments that with about 1.62 billion followers or 23% of the global population, Islam is the second-largest religion followed by a large number of adherents and is the fastest-growing major religion in the world. If Islam was wicked, people would not flock towards it in multitudes (duh).

As historian Reza Aslan says Islam is neither a religion of peace nor hate. It’s just like any other religion and it all depends on what you as an individual bring to it. A good man will be a good Muslim and a wicked man will be a wicked Muslim. And same goes with Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Jews as well.

They say terrorism is bad and cannot be justified. I concur! Any form of terrorism that uses violence to harm and kill innocent men, women and children for political gains should be condemned. What ISIS does is definitely terrorism, for it kills innocent, unsuspecting civilians in cities for no fault of their own. I, however, also have a question and I am not the first person to ask it. What was it that the United States of America did in Iraq?

As this life is a trial, the battle of good and evil goes on in our hearts until one wins over the other. We must win this war.

The whole country was bombed back to the stone age and destroyed under false accusation that it possessed the weapons of mass destruction. Thousands of innocent men, women and children were killed due to the US’ War on Terror. Was it not state terrorism? Or is it the case that a mighty state has the right to wage wars on other smaller countries and reduce them to rubble without expecting retaliation. Or is it something acceptable?

The Newton’s Third Law of Motion says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is something the world has acknowledged to be true. For instance, if I abuse a person or slap him, I should expect some kind of retaliation and vice versa. Great people like Gandhiji would turn the other cheek, but they are few and far between or I dare say are extinct species. People these days want an eye for an eye and blood for blood. They long for retribution and justice, at once.

No one can justify what the ISIS did in Paris and at the same time we should have the humanity (and intellectual audacity) to condemn what the US did in Iraq. For, the people who died in that country were humans like us. They had two hands, two eyes, five senses, feelings and passions. They were no children of a lesser God. In fact, all men and women are born equal in the world. The issue is not with the religion which the man created to become a good human being instead of savages.

The problem is with us – the humans. Humans are good and wicked. Humans are murderers, rapists and good samaritans. Verily, good and evil dwell inside all of us. It depends on us whom to nurture. If we choose the latter, we become like the followers of the ISIS. It’s all about the choices we make.

Shakespeare writes:

Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs: grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.”

The Holy Quran concurs.

God says in the Quran (76:3)

إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا (Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: So We gave him {the gifts}, of Hearing and Sight.)

And in 76:3

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا (We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful {rests on his will}.)

Especially, the second verse above says it all. As this life is a trial, the battle of good and evil goes on in our hearts until one wins over the other.

We must tame the evil inside us and win this war that is raging within. The survival of the human race is at stake.

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Rohingya Muslims Remain Fearful Due To Forceful Repatriation

Another man who was informed he was on the list told VOA he witnessed troops killing people from his village

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Rohingya, Myanmar, refugees
Rohingya refugee women wait outside of a medical center at Jamtoli camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. VOA

Rohingya Muslims who fled a brutal military campaign in Myanmar last year are living in fear after being told they are on a list of over 2,200 people due to be forcibly returned to the country this month.

Some have said they are considering taking their own lives to avoid being sent back to Rakhine state, where Myanmar’s military is accused of waging a genocidal campaign of mass murder and rape.

“If we go back, they can kill us, they can torture us. We have already lost everything once,” said one man from the Jamtoli camp, speaking on the condition of anonymity, who was told by camp officials he is on the list along with his family.

Bangladesh and Myanmar last month struck a deal to begin returning Rohingya refugees by “mid-November”. The 2,200 names were picked from a list of 8,000 that Bangladesh gave to Myanmar in February.

Bangladesh’s refugee relief and rehabilitation commissioner, Abul Kalam, has told Human Rights Watch the Rohingya on the list “were not chosen because they particularly wanted to go back.”

More than 730,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh since August last year from what UN investigators say is genocide. Myanmar has consistently denied the charge and says the campaign was a legitimate response to what it called terrorist attacks.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights for Myanmar, Yanghee Lee,has called on both countries to scrap the plan to return people this month, warning Rohingya face a “high risk of persecution” if returned.

Rohingya
Rohingya refugees walk under rain clouds on June 26, 2018, in Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh. VOA

The plan may also “violate obligations under customary international law to uphold the principle of non-refoulement,” she added.

“Bangladesh should not be sending anyone at this time,” Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist, told VOA. “Forcing survivors and refugees back to the killing fields where genocide is still going on is complicity in genocide.”

A humanitarian who works closely with the Rohingya community in Bangladesh said that, although Rohingya at Jamtoli had been told they are on the list, names had not yet been officially confirmed. Until the UN’s refugee agency receives an official list from the Bangladeshi government, “we’re not entirely sure,” who is due to be returned, they said.

They added that they were aware of one man who had attempted suicide after hearing he was on the list: “The issue is that the lack of clarity and communication alone is already causing harm regardless of whether repatriation actually starts.”

Rohingya, India
Some Rohingya children and a woman at an unidentified refugee colony in West Bengal, eastern India. VOA

Rohingya who believe they are on the list told VOA that a block leader in their camp said they would be moved to another location inside Bangladesh on November 12 in preparation for their return.

Myanmar has this year built “reception centers” and “transit camps” to house and process the expected returnees.

The facilities are surrounded by barbed wire and security posts, and advocates fear the camps could become permanent homes for returning Rohingya. “They are like concentration camps,” said Nay San Lwin.

Myanmar government spokesperson Zaw Htay told VOA he could not comment for this story.

Rohingya, India
Some Rohingya women and children in an unidentified refugee colony in West Bengal, eastern India. VOA

The Rohingya man from the Jamtoli camp in Bangladesh, who was told his family was on the list last week, said his mother recently fainted from the stress.

As he was fleeing Rakhine state in September last year he saw his nephew and son-in-law shot dead, he said.

“Other families who are being sent back are crying loudly, all day and night,” he told VOA. “One family on the list have lost their parents. They’re crying, they have no one to look after them.”

One of the Rohingya Refugees settled in the hut with their fifth child
One of the Rohingya Refugees settled in the hut with their fifth child . BENAR.

Another man who was informed he was on the list told VOA he witnessed troops killing people from his village as he fled Rakhine state at the end of August last year. “They were killing everyone, small children, the elderly, everyone,” he said.

Also Read: Should Promote Human Rights More in Myanmar: Facebook

Earlier this week two block leaders – Rohingya volunteers who help refugees communicate with officials – approached him with a form and asked how many family members he has, and for a picture of the head of the family.

He refused, he said, and an argument ensued. “We will never agree to go,” he told them. “If they make us go we will take our own lives here, this is our final decision.” (VOA)