By WILLIAM MAYER
December 4, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - In a December 1 piece published in the Los Angeles Times, Asra Nomani questions India's commitment to its 140 million Muslims, calling them, "India's new untouchables. [see, Asra Nomani, Muslims, India's New Untouchables, December 1, 2008, Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-nomani1-2008dec01,0,4752.story]
The central contention of Nomani's article is that the Mumbai attack was the direct result of India's supposedly shoddy treatment of its Muslim minority, "The headlines recounted how the socioeconomic condition of the people of my ancestry, Muslims in India, had fallen below that of the Hindu caste traditionally called "untouchables," according to a government report. "Muslims are India's new untouchables," I said sadly to my mother, in the room with me. "India is going to explode if it doesn't take care of them." Now, indeed, alas it has. And shattered in the process is the myth of India's thriving secular democracy."
Though she allows for the possibility, which now is certain, that the attack originated, most likely with official help, from Pakistan, she offers up the classic Muslim apologia when confronted by indefensible wrongs committed by her co-religionists, "the violence will most certainly turn a spotlight of suspicion on Muslims in India. Already, my relatives are hunkered down for a sectarian backlash they expect from anti-terrorism agencies, police and angry Hindu fundamentalists."
Those pesky Hindu fundamentalists...
Nomani bemoans the sad state of India's Muslims, "I heard about how the condition of Muslims had deteriorated " - yet the fact that they materially differ only marginally from hundreds of millions of Muslims outside the "constraining" confines and racism of India escapes comment. Why India's Muslims bear no responsibility of their own for their backward condition likewise is left unanswered.
She does offer a reason, again the classic excuse which the self-absorbed always offer for Islamic terrorism, "I have feared that Islamic militancy would be born out of such despair...to me, the condition of Muslims needs frank and open discussion if there is to be any hope of stemming Islamic radicalism and realizing true secular democracy in the country...When the location scouts needed to replicate the treacherous streets of Karachi's militant Islamist culture, they didn't have to go far. They found the perfect spot in a poor Muslim neighborhood of Mumbai."
In developing her thesis Ms. Nomani fails to make the reader aware of several key events in her past which provide critical context whereby to evaluate the worth of her viewpoint.
Nomani was employed for 15 years as a financial correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, writing about non-controversial topics such as the airline industry.
But Nomani's current career as a "crusading Muslim feminist" - if that is not an oxymoron - has little to do with the staid halls of the WSJ. Nomani derives her recognition, some might say notoriety as being among the last to see Daniel Pearl, the WSJ reporter who was savagely decapitated by Muslim terrorists in 2003. Pearl and his wife were staying with Nomani in her then residence in Karachi, Pakistan.
As Nomani tells the story:
"My interest in the investigation is more than a professional one. At the time Danny was kidnapped, he and Mariane, then pregnant with their first child, were staying with me at a house I had rented in Karachi, Pakistan, while writing a book. I had traveled to Pakistan for Salon, to cover the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, and was happy to host the Pearls when Danny came to Karachi to interview a local Muslim cleric who was said to have ties to alleged "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid. He was pursuing other investigative threads, as well. When he didn't return from the interview on Jan. 23, 2002, Mariane and I alerted U.S. officials and his Wall Street Journal editors, from the desk where Danny had left his laptop. We transformed my home into the investigation's headquarters. For five weeks, we worked closely with U.S. and Pakistani investigators to find Danny; after investigators discovered he had been murdered, I left Pakistan, and moved to Paris..." [source, http://www.asranomani.com/Writings.aspx]
Yes, she will always have Paris...
Tantrika: Traveling the Road of Divine Love, was published in 2003, the same year she decided to push a feminist viewpoint in her West Virginia mosque, attempting to integrate prayer by joining the men. The fact that she did this accompanied by two non-Muslim women leaves Nomani open to charges of concocting a stunt to promote her book, a tactic which apparently worked, having since built a lightweight resume as a Muslim reformer.
Lightweight because her views on just about anything considered controversial in the Muslim world, terrorism, surveillance, the post 9/11 world, Hamas, Hezbollah, radical Islam, Israel, Palestine etc., are difficult to find. They certainly don't exist within her website.
Her response to 9/11, when her adopted country was under attack?
Go to Pakistan, discover her "roots" and...well...become a quick-draw practitioner of Da'wa.
In At Home With the Taliban, a piece written for Salon magazine, we find her uncritical take on the brutal jihadist group, just a few weeks after 9/11. She even engages her host and his polygamous family in the exchange of trinkets.
Serving up the Taliban line as the terrorist bases from which bin-Laden planned 9/11 were being destroyed by U.S. air power, Nomani offers up an inaccurate but heroic and humanizing image of "her" Taliban, the "number 2 diplomat representing the Taliban government here in Pakistan. Mohammad Sohail Shaheen..."
Further richening the portrait, Shaheen is journalist, fallen or elevated depending upon one's perspective.
"Now it's gone," I say, stating the obvious. "Yes," he says, "very sad." He says that he, like many from this part of the world, would like to return to America. "We are not against America or Americans," he says. "We are against the arrogance of intimidation. "We are also human beings. We have not sprouted in the soil, not come down from the skies. We have families, fathers, mothers, like other human beings. "I like America. I like Americans," he says. "I just don't like American foreign policy."
"I put my finger over the image of the World Trade Center. [source, Asra Nomani, At Home With The Taliban, Salon Magazine, October 10, 2001, http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2001/10/10/taliban/index.html]
"Now it's gone," I say, stating the obvious.
"Yes," he says, "very sad."
He says that he, like many from this part of the world, would like to return to America. "We are not against America or Americans," he says. "We are against the arrogance of intimidation.
"We are also human beings. We have not sprouted in the soil, not come down from the skies. We have families, fathers, mothers, like other human beings.
"I like America. I like Americans," he says. "I just don't like American foreign policy."
So cultured and reasonable, if only the American government, caught in the maw of anti-Muslim rage and a concomitant blood-lust, were as similarly motivated...so sad.
In Nomani's writings, even the Taliban version of Islam provides the answers to the West's contentious social issues, "Amrika acha kam nahee kurtha hay." America does not do good work, is the literal translation. Work is deeds. It is about infidelity, adultery and premarital bed-hopping that she is talking about. I'm a single woman of the West exhausted by going in and out of relationships. I've got to say they have a point. Is "Sex in the City" really our model for civilized living?"
Her account of these two meetings with Shaheen is remarkable in that the only challenge to anything Shaheen said was a refutation of the claim that 4,000 Jews decided not to go to work at the World Trade Center on September 11 because somehow they knew it would be a smoldering ruin by the afternoon.
Nomani goes out of her way to present Shaheen's two wives [one less than half his age] as happy and not abused, casting him in a kindly grandfatherly manner, "He asks his second wife to get a book. The one with the Statue of Liberty picture, she asks, putting her hand up as if she is holding a torch. She brings the wrong book. He doesn't get irritated..."
At this point in her ideological/religious development Nomani's feminism is either well-hidden or entirely missing.
Nomani's grandstanding is typified in her founding of Muslims for Peace, creating a website with absolutely no content aside from a peace march poster of an event which either never transpired or was so inconsequential as to escape notice. The website however does contain an outbound link for marketing the group's T-shirts. [see, http://www.muslimsforpeace.net]
Returning to one of the pivotal matters concerning Asra Nomani's relationship with Daniel Pearl, much remains unknown, but the mere fact that her rented address in Karachi, Pakistan was his last residence before being kidnapped and butchered by members of the Taliban/al-Qaeda union, possibly by the operational commander of 9/11 himself, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, remains an open and in this writer's opinion, irredeemable sore on her curriculum vitae, bearing as it does, so heavily on her judgment and credibility.
"I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl in the city of Karachi, Pakistan," Mohammed is quoted telling the military panel Saturday. "For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head." [source, Dafna Linzer and Josh White, Two Senators Secretly Flew to Cuba for Alleged 9/11 Mastermind's Hearing, Washington Post, March 16, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/15/AR2007031500865.html]
What to make therefore of Asra Nomani, is she a member of the multiculturalists' most exclusive club, its Holy Grail, a moderate spokesperson for Islam?
In the most general sense, yes she is moderate, having traveled unmolested through airport security check stations - without major incident and having avoiding the no-fly list - during her furious campaigns of self-promotion.
But, that minimum standard is hardly enough, not against last week's backdrop in Mumbai.
Nomani's metamorphosis from antiseptic chronicler of events at the WSJ to her post 9/11 status as professional "Muslim critic," have, rather than providing reasons to support the contention that she has any reasonable prescription for combating the phenomenon of rising Islamism within Pakistan and India's political sphere of influence, serve to point in exactly the opposite direction, stifling the discussion on the matter by blaming the societies under siege rather than the perpetrators.
Such a process is actually disingenuous, involving a bait and switch approach, promising critical analysis but offering nothing more than politically expedient clichés which serve to exonerate and hold blameless the religious philosophy/ideology underlying the continuing jihad.
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