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Yeh Hum Naheen
August 25, 2007 12:01 AM   Subscribe

We have lost on the way the lesson of living together, We are now even scared of each other. They are others whose faces are on your hands, Your hurts are a deep sea -- our wounds are deep. The stories that are being spread in our names are lies, This is not us.
Words of a Pakistani pop song Yeh Hum Naheen [This is not us] hitting the charts, attempting to spread the message that all muslims are not terrorists, story via Salon. "Produced and written by a British Muslim, Waseem Mahmood, at the request of his two sons, "Yeh Hum Naheen" offers a welcome counterpoint to the images of troops storming the Red Mosque, or fundamentalist mullahs preaching jihad. But the key to the song's success lies neither in its production values or deft depictions of average Pakistanis going about their daily lives, but in its heartfelt expression of pain. "
posted by infini (26 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Vancouver is home to some 30,000 people born in Iran. Most of these people are concentrated in one area, the North Shore; yet for some reason, there isn't a single Farsi-speaking mosque. The only Shia mosque in Vancouver is on the other side of town and is attended predominantly by the Pakistani and south Asian community. Interestingly, the only mosque on the North Shore I know of is Sufi.

I wonder why this is? I went to high school with many Persians, and I was also an English tutor for some Iranian children. One thing I noticed was that while many families are nominally Shia, none of them appeared religious at all. The greatest religious display I noticed among Persian kids at my high school was refusing to eat pork. Perhaps this is because most Iranians who have settled here fled the Islamic Republic of Iran. It's understandable that even believing Muslims might be hesitant to join a mosque after fleeing from theocracy, especially in light of the increasingly powerful influence of political Islam.

I bring this up because like this post, it gives me hope that maybe Islamism has overreached, and has now triggered a backlash that could destroy its influence. Theocrats always need enemies of the deity to explain why their purity and zeal inevitably fail to bring tangible benefits. When enough people are branded enemies of god, and when enough people have grown impatient with ceaseless sectarian rhetoric, a theocracy will collapse. Unfortunately, radical Islamists can delay this backlash because they don't have to attack internal enemies nearly as vigorously if they can attack the United States, and by extention the West, instead.

The US could end this, but instead continues to play into the best interests of Islamists worldwide by declaring "war" and thereby implicitly agreeing that political Islam is inherently sovereign world actor.

Of course, the American establishment also benefits from the legitimization of political Islam, because after all, they need external enemies too.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:53 AM on August 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


I bring this up because like this post, it gives me hope that maybe Islamism has overreached, and has now triggered a backlash that could destroy its influence.

There are one billion Muslims on the planet. It is pure fantasy to imagine that the influence of the Islamic religion is going away. If they all converted to Giant Sphagetti Monsterism nothing would change, but then we could blame the monster.
posted by three blind mice at 2:55 AM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


tbm - I presume by Islamism [expletive deleted] is referring to the political movement, not the Islamic faith in toto.
posted by Abiezer at 4:29 AM on August 25, 2007


Here's the video of song. (English subtitles)
posted by miss lynnster at 5:47 AM on August 25, 2007


bring this up because like this post, it gives me hope that maybe Islamism has overreached, and has now triggered a backlash that could destroy its influence.

Over the years my occupation has given me the opportunity to do a great deal of traveling and also to meet a great number of people from many different walks of life. Regardless of religion (or lack of), race, nationality or socio-economic background I have seen one constant. Every large demographic contains this:

Top 15% interesting, curious, friendly people
Middle 70% unimaginative, basically unremarkable people
Bottom 14% unfriendly selfish bigots and 1% dangerous crazies


All the hype in the media on Islam breeding destruction bent lunatics is nonsense. Sure there are some such that follow Islam. There are an equal number of lunatic Christians, Jews, Atheists, farmers, women over 50, however you want to lump people, the same number.

Keep an open mind, judge people through your own experience not whatever experience the media is portraying this week. The trick isn’t to get rid of any specific religion, or its influence. The trick is to make sure you help the top 15% keep the bottom 15% from convincing the middle 70% to destroy us all.
posted by BostonJake at 5:57 AM on August 25, 2007 [5 favorites]


I've mentioned this before... but when I started learning Arabic I became acutely aware of just how overwhelming this paranoia is. Some of the reactions really blindsided me at first, since I'm a white girl it was interesting to see how for some people simply learning Arabic suddenly gave me a tint of either "terrorist lover" or "wannabe FBI agent." I had one woman say, "But, don't you KNOW what the world is LIKE right now?" to which I responded, "Isn't that all the more reason to learn about and try to understand other people & cultures?" But unfortunately, many people far prefer to bury their heads in fear & hate.

If you learn French, people don't assume you are trying to become a crepe chef. If you learn German, people don't ask you if you're looking to become a neo-Nazi. You're just learning a language, trying to expand yourself. But merely SEEING that I'm interested in communicating with people who speak Arabic, which is the FOURTH most common language in the world, has inspired some people to feel the need to share their innermost feelings about people who speak Arabic. Sometimes disturbing, most often just sadly ignorant or closed-minded. When I ask, I often find "that they know of" they've actually never even met someone who spoke Arabic firsthand themselves.

I know I've said this before too, but when I was in Egypt, I kept a blog. The people I met were so kind and they told me they didn't meet many Americans because Americans were scared. The pain in their faces as they said this was immediately visible. When I said that I was keeping a blog to tell people what my experiences were, more often than not, the person would grasp my hand and thank me with an obvious sincerity. It was like they felt I was standing up for them and letting people know they were good and not terrorists. It was clear they love their country and are proud of it, and that they are victims of terrorism far more than fans of it. And when the bombing happened in Dahab (600m away) and I watched people's reactions, I saw how desperately shattered these Egyptian people were as they spoke of it and as they heard the latest news. I didn't see one person cheering the terrorists, I saw people who were heartbroken for the victims and for their country. Just heartbroken.

Just like during the Cold War, all Russians were Commies... our propoganda machine always has to instill that there is an "us" and a "them," I suppose. (As do all propoganda machines... alas, every country has one.) But the muslim people I have met and befriended in my life are just people, though. I've learned a lot from them. And as someone with multiple siblings who are Fundamentalist Christian, I can tell you that I have found most muslims actually to be much less judgmental and far kinder on a whole than their American Christian counterparts.

Too bad this song is sung in another language, so the message won't be able to affect America. We don't really like our music foreign and subtitled. (Well, unless it was 80s pop songs sung in German... those sure were hits for some reason.)

On preview, I think BostonJake's percentage formula sounds about right.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:29 AM on August 25, 2007 [6 favorites]


Oh, and I meant to say of THE song. Duh.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:30 AM on August 25, 2007


Yeh Hum Naheen is on iTunes if folks are interested.
posted by ao4047 at 7:36 AM on August 25, 2007


I thought you were learning Arabic because you have an Egyptian boyfriend?
posted by vronsky at 7:42 AM on August 25, 2007


One thing I noticed was that while many families are nominally Shia, none of them appeared religious at all

I would suggest it is very unwise to judge based on expats. People who leave their home country are outliers both geographically and psychologically.
posted by srboisvert at 7:50 AM on August 25, 2007


I have three good friends in Egypt that I talk to regularly, not just one. I've referred to that person you're referring to as my "non boyfriend" because a real relationship is unfortunately impossible so we're just dear friends. But he speaks perfect english & is very Westernized, so he's not why I'm learning Arabic.

I wouldn't need to learn Arabic for my english-speaking friends. I'm learning it to speak to other people and hopefully be able to travel while communicating for myself eventually. I became really interested in the cultures after getting a taste of the region and I'm hoping the next time I travel to Egypt I can also add in places like Morocco. I want to experience the cultures on a deeper level & not have to be babysat the whole time. I saw how appreciative the locals were if you even tried a few words, it makes a big difference. And knowing the language would make me feel a lot more confident that I could find my way around safely as an independent traveler without feeling like I need to take a tour so people would take care of me.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:19 AM on August 25, 2007


YouTube link (from Salon article)
posted by Afroblanco at 9:21 AM on August 25, 2007


Top 15% interesting, curious, friendly people
Middle 70% unimaginative, basically unremarkable people
Bottom 14% unfriendly selfish bigots and 1% dangerous crazies


Which one are you in, BostonJake?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:22 AM on August 25, 2007


WAIT LET ME GUESS
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:23 AM on August 25, 2007


*rolls eyes* As soon as I hear Egypt or Arabic mentioned in a post, I just know it's miss lynnster. Would you please stop trying to steal my thunder? Never mind the insignificant detail that you came here first.
I bring this up because like this post, it gives me hope that maybe Islamism has overreached, and has now triggered a backlash that could destroy its influence.
There are one billion Muslims on the planet. It is pure fantasy to imagine that the influence of the Islamic religion is going away. If they all converted to Giant Sphagetti Monsterism nothing would change, but then we could blame the monster.
There's a difference between Islam and Islamism, although I think that due to the similarities it's an unfortunate choice of a word. Perhaps "Pan-Islamic aspirations" or "Islamic Extremism" might be better choices.

Having a lot of Muslims on the planet is a good thing. Having an increasing number of those Muslims believing that everyone should be a Muslim, and that they ought to do something about that, is a bad thing. Personally, most Muslims I meet are just people who want to have jobs, a family, and a home and could care less about how much of the world is Muslim or not. But there are some radicals who, whether it's because they feel that their culture and religion is under attack, or because they genuinely believe it is the only acceptable religion, are working to hurt or attack people of other faiths.

I don't necessarily think that the Muslim world is going towards extremism. But I also don't think the environment is looking good for a backlash against extremist tendencies. As a common barometer, you might look at how many women in, say, Egypt, one of the less conservative Muslim countries, are covered. Today, it's quite a lot. 20 or 30 years ago, almost no one covered their heads. Most of these people aren't extremists, and there's nothing wrong with covering your head, but for sure there's no evidence that the strength of Islam as a religion and cultural influence is decreasing.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:30 AM on August 25, 2007


Having an increasing number of those Muslims believing that everyone should be a Muslim, and that they ought to do something about that, is a bad thing.

Those are Christians--not Muslims. Muslims don't convert whole populations, nor do they want the whole world to be Muslim.

There's no wave of sharia coming here--no burkas for all. It's all rightwing propaganda and myth.
posted by amberglow at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Amberglow, I don't think too many people here will argue that Sharia is comming here. My primary concern is for the people living in places like Iran and Afghanistan, where the Karzai government is arresting people for blasphemy and turning them over to sectarian courts. That's the post-Taliban government we are talking about. Political Islam is a danger, maybe not to us, but to people living in the Islamic world. Any danger we face from the effects of radical political Islam, like Islamic terrorism, is just a dim reflection of the violence and hatred directed at percieved enemies of the pious within the borders of Muslim nations.

How often have you criticized the theocrats in our own culture? How are the Islamists any different from the radical Christian dominionists? I never thought that you would defend people who trample the rights of women and murder homosexuals in the name of God.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:55 PM on August 25, 2007


*rolls eyes* As soon as I hear Egypt or Arabic mentioned in a post, I just know it's miss lynnster. Would you please stop trying to steal my thunder? Never mind the insignificant detail that you came here first.

Okay. Point noted. Next time I'll just move on to the synthetic coke posts and let the thunder be entirely yours. No eye rolling necessary, my friend. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 4:21 PM on August 25, 2007


How often have you criticized the theocrats in our own culture? How are the Islamists any different from the radical Christian dominionists? I never thought that you would defend people who trample the rights of women and murder homosexuals in the name of God.

It's not defending them to point out that worldwide sharia and burkas is not the goal of Islam. It's about truth and reality. Political Islam is what people want. And they're not as bad as Christian Dominists, which is my point. Our lives here are affected everyday by those people, yet alarms are raised about others elsewhere. Does being against political Islam mean we have to prop up rotten dictators like Pakistan's or the Saudi Princes and Kings or Dubai's assholes? What are our options here, except for helping people emigrate or rebel? And supporting those, like this singer, who are doing good and showing that it's not just extremists? Validating the threat or the theocratic aims of any group is always a mistake. Fighting them never is. But we're not there--we have to stop our govt and society both from exacerbating it and from being overwhelmed by the much more pertinent and immediately dangerous threat of those here who want this to be The Handmaid's Tale made real.
posted by amberglow at 6:33 PM on August 25, 2007


Any danger we face from the effects of radical political Islam, like Islamic terrorism, is just a dim reflection of the violence and hatred directed at percieved enemies of the pious within the borders of Muslim nations.

It's not just a dim reflection of anything. It's a direct and traceable effect our actions there. It's not about them so much as it is about our creating the perfect conditions for them to gain power and grow in popularity. We help the extremists everywhere by our actions. That's what we have to change.
posted by amberglow at 6:38 PM on August 25, 2007


And we can never control popular movements in other countries based on hatred of others. We can only stop the stupidity and halt their growth, and start providing other options and opportunity.
posted by amberglow at 6:40 PM on August 25, 2007


since I'm a white girl it was interesting

Chip on shoulder. Got it.

I know I've said this before too, but when I was in Egypt, I kept a blog. The people I met were so kind and they told me they didn't meet many Americans because Americans were scared. The pain in their faces as they said this was immediately visible.

Ummm...what?

I'd always semi-respected what you said (at least, what I noted) until this, it being so totally full of shit. Egypt is crawling with Americans (and Westerners in general). Even the Muslim Brotherhood killing the German tourists a couple of years back hasn't changed that. The only thing more oppressive than the souvenir shills on the Giza plateau are Americans looking for King Tut, or pyramid magic, or some other historical fantasy. Americans fill the Nile on the river tours and American ex-pats use Egypt as down-time from mercenary duty in hotter places because it's "safe and open to Western customs" (hint: drinking and fucking are OK). Dubai is better, but Egypt works.

The pain in their faces as they said this was immediately visible.

Oh. Gawd. (rolls eyes).

And as someone with multiple siblings who are Fundamentalist Christian, I can tell you that I have found most muslims actually to be much less judgmental and far kinder on a whole than their American Christian counterparts.

Fundies are douches, to be sure. But we get, what, a dozen or three fundies doing multi-kills every year (well, maybe more in Indonesia...haven't kept up). We have, what 2-10 a *day* in the opposition. Trying to equate Christian fundamentalist asshatery with Islamic fundamentalist asshatery doesn't square with facts if you tally by body count.
posted by kjs3 at 10:49 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that was just crazy talk miss l. And Morocco is one of the most friendly and pro-American countries in the Arab world.

Are you sure you didn't just dream your trip to Egypt? And invent this mysterious Muslim paramour as a way to get back at your fundie siblings?
posted by vronsky at 11:59 PM on August 25, 2007


I have been asked to point out that the statement "all muslims are not terrorists" is not actually correct.

For that to be true, there would have to be no Muslim terrorists at all. "Not all Muslims are terrorists" would be correct.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:44 AM on August 26, 2007


Amberglow, I think you may misunderstand me. I in no way support American policy in the mideast. You have a point about US interventionism giving cause to political Islam. I believe I touched on this in my first post. I do think that our governments are far to eager to intervene in the affairs of Muslim nations.

I do, however, take issue with something you've said.

Political Islam is what people want. And they're not as bad as Christian Dominists, which is my point.

They are as bad. They are mirror fucking images of each other. You are right to correct me that the violence against the west is in large part due to the past actions of western states, but you must concede that these radical Islamists are homicidal lunatics. While they don't represent a fraction of the threat to Westerners as a fiery death on the freeway, they are busy destroying the lives of the people whom they control through the power of the state. That should concern you.

9/11 I can understand in a geopolitical context. It was an inexcusable atrocity to be sure, but it can at least be understood in light of an endless list of similar atrocities committed by, or at the behest of, western powers in the mideast.

What I can't abide is the outright abrogation of the rights of women in many Islamic states. What I cannot tolerate or condone is the state executing people for the imaginary crimes of blasphemy or homosexuality or adultery (if you are a woman).

What I will never, under any circumstances, forgive, is the outright cruelty of those foul mutaween in Mecca who forced schoolgirls back into a burning building, condeming them to death, because they were 'immodestly dressed.'

What I can never comprehend is the senseless death of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian beaten to death by Iranian policemen for having the gall to photograph a demonstration against the imprisonment of the Islamic regime's political opponents.

These people want the same as the Christian dominionists. They want to impose their narrow view of religious purity on anyone they control. What they stand for is absolute anathema to any person who values any basic human rights.

While I agree that we should be focusing more on what the theocrats are up to at home, it in no way means we cannot condemn the assholes destroying the lives of countless millions in other parts of the world.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:52 AM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know I only have love for you miss l.*

And kjs3 and vronsky, she's not an idiot. Yes, it's true that there are loads of Americans in Cairo. My experience is that many of them end up having a very limited connection with Egyptian people. I think many Egyptians, rightly or wrongly, believe that Americans do perceive them as terrorists (I know I certainly got my fair share of "Are you sure it's safe to go to Egypt?" spiels). Not badmouthing anyone who lives in Ma'adi, I'm sure there are plenty who are very friendly with the Egyptians and all, but some that I've met seem very insular and are there to work in their companies, and interact with Egyptians mostly in the context of servants, employees, etc. That's a lot of the expats in Cairo. They don't learn to speak Arabic, they don't ride in the microbus, they don't eat off the street, they don't tell small kids what their name is (anyone who's been to Egypt should get that). Now, I'm fairly lousy at being social but I'd like to think I've at least made the attempt to connect with the people here, and my experience has been that Egyptians are a bit worried about how they're perceived by America.

I can tell you that I have found most muslims actually to be much less judgmental and far kinder on a whole than their American Christian counterparts.
Fundies are douches, to be sure. But we get, what, a dozen or three fundies doing multi-kills every year (well, maybe more in Indonesia...haven't kept up). We have, what 2-10 a *day* in the opposition.


There's no debating that currently Muslim fundamentalists are more violent, and cause more deaths (both to non-Muslims and to "non-believers" who are either not Muslim enough or are in the wrong "sect"). However, what lynnster said -- that most Muslims are less judgemental than their Christian counterparts -- is true. The average Muslim Egyptian is a lot more religiously observant than the average American Christian. If I met an American Christian who was equally devout, odds are very good that he or she would make me quickly uncomfortable by subtly or not-so-subtly witnessing (and/or making pronouncements [example? I was with an xian fundie in Egypt. I and my friends had just spent a while discussion reincarnation, something which is in fact central to one of my friends' religion. I turned to him and asked him what he thought. Perfect time for him to say something like, "I don't believe in it; it's not my thing." Nope: "It's a bunch of bullcrap" (the man never curses) Needless to say, the friend whose religion centers on reincarnation was a bit peeved by this]. This is by religious design. Christianity is a religion of a specific truth (only by believing in Jesus will you not burn in hell) and an imperative to spread this truth. Islam is not a missionary religion, at least, not without an army (joke! sorta).

* And not creepy I will stalk you via google love. Just normal, wow cool someone else actually interested in Arabic for none of the wrong reasons kinda love
posted by Deathalicious at 8:06 PM on August 26, 2007


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