The Reality of Islamic Protests
November 8, 2001 3:56 PM   Subscribe

The Reality of Islamic Protests An excellent article in Al-Ahram describing the anti war protests in Pakistan. It goes into the different groups who are organizing them, what hidden agendas they may have (some actually profit from the Afghani drug trade), and points out that for the most part, while not supportive of the war, most Pakastani's are not speaking out against it.
posted by billman (22 comments total)
Poor Lefties! in the days alas now gone we would applaud the masses as they rose up against the oppressive ruling classes and now we find that in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, the oppressed masses are as nasty, spiteful, hateful, crazy as those that rule or lord it over them.
Did Marx miss this this possibility?
posted by Postroad at 4:20 PM on November 8, 2001

Afghani is not the appropriate word for the Afghan people. Thanks though, for the excellent post.
posted by fletcher at 4:25 PM on November 8, 2001

I didn't mean to use the wrong word. Could you please post the correct word so I can avoid this mistake in the future?
posted by billman at 4:28 PM on November 8, 2001

Too bad postroad there's hardly a genuine leftist (from what I've been able to glean) movement with any real pull over there.

The only possibilty anyone missed is that people are prone to being intellectual cattle and the leaders are their shepherds. If they weren't being organized by local propaganda they'd be a new unlocked market of investor appeal.

What's the poor rightie's excuse?
posted by crasspastor at 4:43 PM on November 8, 2001

Postroad, actually this has been an issue with me since the first protests in Pakistan. When one does a little sleuthing it starts to become obvious that most protests in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world are staged events. They play to the media and are usually led by people who are some pretty wicked people. The WSJ ran a story a few weeks back on how Yemen's president is having trouble curbing terrorism (and getting back into the good graces of the rest of the world) because the "religious" leaders threaten to rise up and/or kill him if he tries to pass laws they don't like. And funny enough, they're against laws that put any restrictions on terrorist activities since that's how they threaten the government into not passing laws against terrorism. My take, is that some religious leaders in Islamic countries are more like warlords than they are what we would consider to be a religious leader. They are power hungry and they use their influence as religious leaders to gain followings that they can then rally for any cause they deem appropriate. Thus many protests have nothing to do with Afghanistan, they are recruiting drives. They are displays of power in the hopes of recruiting more members. Sure, we have our brand of religious leaders like this in the US (Rev. Al Sharpton, Pat Robertson, etc.) but they use political influence rather than raw violence to accomplish their goals. But just like the US, my impression is that they are small groups but wield huge influence. The average Muslim isn't involved in these events but you are lead to believe they are because you 10,000 people chanting and burning US flags. In a country of 120 million people, 10,000 is a joke but when those 10,000 have guns and some have received terrorist training, you start to take them seriously.
posted by billman at 4:45 PM on November 8, 2001

Musharraf is feeling pressure from somewhere.
posted by mmarcos at 6:06 PM on November 8, 2001

Could you please post the correct word so I can avoid this mistake in the future?

The proper verbiage is Afghan for people, afghani for money (like American and dollar).
posted by dchase at 7:35 PM on November 8, 2001

So how come it's Afghan and then Pakistani, Azerbaijani and so forth? Methinks the coup stick hit outside the strike zone here... God knows I just tweaked someone being a bit pompous over somewhere else via a misspelling--like I should talk!--and then come here and find the same ol' same ol' making-yourself-right-by-making-someone-wrong prep school oneupmanship

Bad call perhaps, twittish for sure.

Perhaps you fletcher or you dchase or someone else can explain the underlying rules for endings of geographical names describing inhabitants thereof--like, why is it Bostonian instead of Bostonite? Since so much of my vocabulary has been acquired through connotation, I really am curious.
posted by y2karl at 8:15 PM on November 8, 2001

When one does a little sleuthing ...

Er - can you enlighten us as to what your "sleuthing" might be, billman, apart from the Wall St Journal? I ask because I am getting really bored with these MeFi threads written by middle-class Americans who never leave home but who reckon they know what it takes to save the planet. Gross generalisation? Well, so is this: "They are power hungry and they use their influence as religious leaders to gain followings that they can then rally for any cause they deem appropriate."

Gee, those terrible Islamic religious leaders. Unlike, of course, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, etc etc etc etc. Snarl. Get a grip, guys.
posted by blue at 8:37 PM on November 8, 2001

far be it from me to defend the likes of Oral Roberts or Jerry Falwell, but as far as I recall, none of those fellas you mentioned has ever suggested their followers commit armed insurrection or murder of those they disagree with.

(I think I'll go have a snack while blue or somebody comes up with a link to something that they are sure proves that one of those preacher guys advocated genocide. hmmm, I wonder if there are any of those Archway apple-oatmeal cookies left...)
posted by nobody_knose at 9:45 PM on November 8, 2001


First off, let me hit on the most alarming part of your post: I did mention Pat Robertson, etc. as being like those I spoke about in the rest of my post in regards to using their position as religious leader to further their political goals. Not sure how you missed that ("Sure, we have our brand of religious leaders like this in the US (Rev. Al Sharpton, Pat Robertson, etc.) ") but I thought I would clarify since you asked.

In terms of shining some light, I can post several links but since you don't take the WSJ as a crediable source, I'm not sure anything I post would satisfy you. I don't want to waste your time or mine, so if you could just set forth some parameters on which you would find an explination satisfactory, then I can provide that but to just say "enlighten us . . . apart from the Wall Street Journal" sort of leaves me in a position of not really knowing what kind of evidence you require. To me, it's quite obvious. To you, that doesn't seem to be true. Tell me what you require, and I'll try to provide it, as best as I can.
posted by billman at 10:15 PM on November 8, 2001

Ooops, forgot to mention, blue, I'm not middle class and I travel around the world quite frequently. In fact, I've spent several years living outside the US, so perhaps you should spend less time trying to critique my experiences if you're not sure what they are.
posted by billman at 10:19 PM on November 8, 2001

Genocide: The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group. (American Heritage Divtionary, 2000).

Pat Robertson: "I think that the United States should take out Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist gang, and, in my opinion, we should take out the Taliban, because they are nothing but a bunch of thugs masquerading as religious people. Whatever is necessary to destroy that power hold should be done," Robertson remarked.

Bye guys.
posted by blue at 10:23 PM on November 8, 2001

Man do I feel filthy defending Pat Robertson, but as far as I recall, Pat Robertson has not built any stadiums for the sole purpose of holding public executions for crimes so vile as women begging in the street because they are not allowed to work.
posted by billman at 10:27 PM on November 8, 2001

Hi billman - didn't mean to offend you - I guess I am just afflicted with cumulative ennui at the relentless, largely ignorant dissing of non-American cultures etc etc. Look, I like the WSJ too, it's a fine newspaper, but reading the WSJ does not constitute "sleuthing". No, I don't need more links, I know what you mean, but my point is that for every Islamic leader who bollocks on to raise a rabble, there is an American, and English, an Australian...

Two wrongs don't make a right, is all I'm saying. This is a terrible time in human history, there is a bloody war going on and everybody suffers. There is enought stupid point-scoring going on out there without it also happening on MeFi (and I am now deeply chagrined that I, too, have fallen into that trap!).

I am thoroughly middle-class, by the way. Funny how that always gets taken as an insult these days.

posted by blue at 10:38 PM on November 8, 2001


Not offended, just trying to determine what the debate is.

I found it strange because I was the one who pointed out out the Rev. Al Sharpton's and Pat Robertson's in my post as being like those who I was commenting on and then went on to make distinctions on how they were different. Al Sharpton is not a religious leader in my mind. He is a scumbag who is able to manipulate public opinion in the same way many Islamic warlords posing as clerics are able to present themselves as holy people.

Those who actually read about and spent time caring about middle east politics prior to Sept. 11 are aware that those 10,000 people marching in the street in Islamabad are the same 10,000 people marching in the street a week later in Karachi. It's staged in order to gain political power. In fact, you don't need to be a middle east expert to understand this. Just be a savvy person and try to understand what motivates people. Does anybody give a rat's ass about Osama bin Laden? Sure, but most of those who care, only care because they receive a benefit from the Taliban or bin Laden. Politics is about understanding not what people say but what they mean. Those 10,000 jackasses tearing up the streets in Karachi don't give a rat's ass about bin Laden. They want to scare the shit out of the Pakastani government and make themselves into a political force to be reckoned with.

Which brings me to the bigger point about this whole situation which is that bin Laden doesn't care one damn bit about Palestine. He wants to throw the middle east into turmoil so he can sieze power. The whole reason this jackass is Afghanistan and not his homeland of Saudi Arabia is because he called for the overthrow of the Saudi government and they kicked him out. As long as the US supports the Saudi monarchy, he can't overthrow it. He doesn't hate American values or the American way of life. He hates the fact that America is keeping him from overthrowing the Saudi government. Now, you can say what you will about the Saudi government but if you believe his religious bs reasons, you're just a sucker for anti-US propaganda. He's a Hitler masking himself in Islam. Read something heavier than US Today and this becomes very obvious in the same way that the anti-war protests in Islamic nations shows itself to be less about the US bombing Afghanistan and more about individual warlords trying to grab political power.

It's not like Al-Ahram is a pro-US publication and yet even they note this difference. It seems the only people who remain blind to it are the leftist intellectuals who want to believe this is about past sins of the US.
posted by billman at 11:20 PM on November 8, 2001

damn, did it again. Just to address blue's comments about my being offended about being called middle class, it was't about being offended over being called middle class, it was being offended about being called middle class by someone who has never met me, knows nothing about me, or has enough information to form an opinion about me. I have spent a good portion of my life travelling the world and learning about other countries and peoples so I find it offensive when someone tries to label my opinions as being uninformed. I've talked with and lived with many of the people I talk about. I only wish more people could claim the same intimacy with the subject matter before offering their opinions.
posted by billman at 11:31 PM on November 8, 2001

There was a recent story on Sixty Minutes about majority moderates in Pakistan who thought the protestors were nuts. Being working people and all, they didn't exactly make it a point to parade around for cameras all day long. Much like politics in America, the extremist loudmouth makes it on tv - because it's a lot more compelling image than someone with a bit of sanity.
posted by owillis at 1:08 AM on November 9, 2001

Afghani: n. pl. Af·ghan·is A native or inhabitant of Afghanistan; an Afghan.
posted by rory at 3:55 AM on November 9, 2001

blue, c'mon, you're going to have to find a more explicit quote than that. "Take out the Taliban" is not automagically equivalent to "murder the Taliban and all persons ethnically related to them"; in fact in this context it clearly seems to mean "Remove the Taliban from power".

Now, there are plenty of yahoos around here who'll cry out "Nuke the bastards!" or send around e-mail jokes like "Lake Afghanistan" (google searches for which always find my weblog, by the way). But they're not at the same influential level.

I'm just tired of people making facile comparisons and passing them off as dramatic discoveries.
posted by dhartung at 4:31 AM on November 9, 2001

An afghan is also 'a coverlet or shawl of wool, knitted or crocheted in colorful geometric designs'. Got to make sure we all know what's being discussed here...
posted by mmarcos at 5:26 AM on November 9, 2001

Wait a minute, we are talking about the coverlets or shawls of wool . . . . right, folks? If this is about the . . . people of Afghanistan . . . well I'm not sure. I don't know anything about that. Oh what the heck, I'm sure if they have the same name as my blanket, they must be pretty close.
posted by billman at 7:39 AM on November 9, 2001

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