"Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you." – William Blake (1757-1827) from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Upholding the Rule of Law in the War on Terror: the implications of the bin Laden assassination

We are re-posting below a statement by the Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa, on the recent slaying of terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden by US military personnel operating within the sovereign territory of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Actions of this nature raise a number of important questions for the rule of international law. There has, as would be expected, a large volume of comment, opinion and analysis since the announcement by US president Barack Obama on the night of Sunday, 1st May. Questions have been raised about the circumstances and motivation behind the attack. There are even disputed questions of fact involved. However it is also important to highlight the underlying assumptions motivating and guiding adventurous acts such as that just witnessed which, among other things has violated the sovereignty of Pakistan. Those who are sponsoring and/or prosecuting the so-called 'global war on terror' are also answerable to the court of world opinion.

The statement reads:
Justice is served through the Courts not through Extra Judicial killings
Verily from God we come and verily to Him is our return.
The United States has once again destroyed and violated all standards of judicial internationally prescribed laws designed to govern, protect and resolve global disputes and conflicts. Since their "War on Terror" mission coined by George Bush, the reputation of the US has been reduced to nothing more than a violator of the human rights that they claim to uphold.

The recent lawless cowboy action of the Navy Seals under the command of President Obama has been hailed by the US as justice despite the fact that it has done nothing to advance global peace. If anything, it has advanced violence and terrorism as a means to achieve aims. It cannot therefore be seen as a means to foster good relations or understanding as the world has been plunged into a state of unrest.

These actions serve to parade the United States as a country unable to maintain human rights and thus cannot claim to be any better than those that they accuse of terrorism. It is therefore rather hypocritical and meaningless to say that the rule of law will bring about peace and then violate the international standards.

The Muslim Judicial Council condemns the failure of the United States to arrest Osama Bin Laden in order to maintain international global standards of law by affording him the opportunity to present his case through humane and legal avenues. The order to kill is fundamentally not supported by any legal standards and contradicts the standards that American claims to want to maintain and uphold through the war on terror.
We further condemn the manner in which the body of Osama Bin Laden was disposed of as this is not in accordance with Islamic laws even though the claim has been made that Muslim traditions were followed at sea. It is foreign to Muslims that a person is killed on land and buried at sea. We advise the US that their actions further entrenches views that they do not respect the rights of other nations’ cultures, religions nor traditions. The body should have been handed over to the family and people of Osama Bin Laden for a proper Islamic burial.
We thus deduce that the US is not equipped with the ability or intention to build global peace as true justice can never be claimed without dignity, integrity, respect and empathy for others.

Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks - PRESIDENT

Sister Nabeweya Malick - Public Affairs/Media

Source: Press statement issued by the Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa - reposted from their website.

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Thursday 14 April 2011

More on Democracy vs Dictatorship

Re-blogged from Old Holborn

Monday 4 April 2011

A Portend of Things Come

Debates that have raged in recent times (which in many ways are a sign of the times), arising out of what has been dubbed the global war on terror, raise many important questions. Included in this are themes and subject matters that we do propose to raise for discussion at a future date - using this blog as a forum for precisely such a debate.

What we have in mind generally boils down to notions about Freedom, the terrorism threat, what it means to live in a safe and secure environment, issues of press freedom and the role of the state - all matters and concerns that are crying out for modern definitions.

For the time being however we will limit our observations to the following illustration (re-blogged from Buzzfeed and FuckYeahAlbuquerque).

Saturday 19 March 2011

Democracy, Dictatorship or Merely Rhetoric?

When we talk of modern definitions we also have in mind certain antiquated notions, that are nevertheless bandied around and passed off as new. Listening to the political rhetoric of recent days, from certain leaders of western imperialism one can only be amazed, both at the childishness of their world view, and in the way they conduct themselves.

With the passing of the recent UN Security Council resolution, authorising the imposition of a 'no-fly zone' over Libya, the person of Muammar Gaddafi has joined the long list of 'dictators' that western imperialists disapprove of. The charge is levelled without any notion, or even discussion about what system of governance is in place in Libya; or what the role of individuals such as Muammar Gaddafi is in relation to that system.

But that's rather beside the point as far as this discussion is concerned. The charge of 'dictatorship' is levelled all too freely. Still it is clear what western imperialists have in mind, when they speak in such terms. A 'dictator' to them is someone who refuses to do their bidding; someone who stands up, not just for him or herself, but for their collective too.

According to Wikipedia the term actually originated in ancient Rome. It was in fact an official title, an office conferred by the Senate, upon a magistrate who was to rule the republic in times of emergency. In the context of the present emergency facing the Libyan people, Gaddafi might well be considered a dictator. By the same token western imperialism - which in this instance would appear to be Anglo-French led - could be viewed as the Barbarians at the gates.

As happens all too often, a term that wasn't pejorative in its original context, has become nothing but pejorative today. It sometimes works in the opposite direction. The term 'Tory' for example, as a political label freely accepted by the likes of David Cameron, stems from the Irish word t├│raidhe, which again as Wikipedia informs us referred in its orginal context to an 'outlaw, robber or brigand'.

On the outbreak of World War II Charlie Chaplin released The Great Dictator, a comic satire but also a powerful and heartfelt denunciation of fascism. Leaders like Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Salazar (to cite just a few) were stooges of reaction and world imperialism, which at the time was in crisis (facing emergency), but that's really about as far as similarity between them and their ancient Roman counterparts goes. They were defending a class system, not their respective nations.

In the aftermath of WWII it served a purpose to present these personalities as dictators, autocrats, political leaders ruling by decree. The purpose was to obscure the fact that these individuals were merely cogs in a machine; part of an apparatus with networks and connections that stretched far and wide, and not restricted by national boundaries either.

Overall it would be largely a positive development the way things have turned out; if it were not for the catcalls of certain influential philistines. To them a dictator is someone who won't do what they're told even when they've been told what to do - which could be anyone, including you and me.

In the same vein the democracy has come to mean whatever a person (any person) wants it to mean. For imperialists, or those whose agenda is to subvert the world and bend it to their wishes and whims, a democracy is any system that enables them to get what they want. When they don't get what they want they cry 'dictator' and adopt the 'pro-democracy' verbiage.

What this reflects is that modern society (which includes the whole world and the nations and peoples within it) remains class divided. Karl Marx pointed out that "the existence of classes is merely bound up with certain historical phases in the development of production." Marx and those who followed his trajectory, argued that any system of governance would be more or less democratic, only insofar as this is a reflection of the class composition of the society from which it springs. Democracy, far from being that 'city on the hill' is always and everywhere a battleground.

One such follower was V.I. Lenin. He admonished his fellow social democrats when he pointed out that:
... it is constantly forgotten that the abolition of the state means also the abolition of democracy; that the withering away of the state means the withering away of democracy. - from The State and Revolution

At the time of course Lenin and his supporters were still calling themselves social democrats but were also learning to disavow the term. European parties of the Second International had earlier betrayed the decision of the Basle Congress of 1912 which pledged to oppose plans for imperialist war. Lenin and his party were among those that remained true to the decisions. It was ultimately decided that:
We must call ourselves the Communist Party—just as Marx and Engels called themselves
and further he adds:
... the name of our Party (Social-Democrats) is also scientifically incorrect. Democracy is a form of state, whereas we Marxists are opposed to every kind of state. - see Lenin, What Should be the Name of Our Party etc

Introducing Modern Definitions

Welcome to our website.

Modern Definitions in concerned with key theoretical issues of our times, across all fields and disciplines of human scientific enquiry. In doing so we stand shoulder to shoulder with those striving to advance the cause of humanity; building on the movement for modern enlightenment by defeating obscurantism, as the only viable path to a world based on peace, prosperity and the well-being of all.

This website draws its inspiration from the life and work of Hardial Bains, to whom it is also dedicated, in recognition of the debt of honour that is owed to his memory, the programme of work which he instigated and which continues in his wake today:
Vague notions about what existed in the past; fiery essays against the 'enemy'; the incessant inciting of passions against all one disagrees with - none of the above can be considered a modern way of doing things. However, this is not where controversy either begins or ends.

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