Friday, March 02, 2007

Article: A blind eye to bigotry

When I read the title of the article, I thought it'd be something about Blacks in America or antisemitism in the Middle East, but alas - it was on the Muslim massacre that took place in Gujarat, India five years ago.

I recall the horrors of that time in South Asian history because I was living in Lahore, Pakistan when it happened. We saw the images, read the stories. And today, to see that the ultimate perpetrator of that tragedy - Chief Minister Narendra Modi - is still in power is revolting. His political party - the BJP - is ultra-right wing and is thankfully no longer in power nationally, yet the ugly serpent still rears its head occasionally.

The article opened my eyes to the fact, no matter what, to make money, people will stoop to the lowest rung on a ladder and not even be hesitant or remorseful about it. Take, for example, China, which buys a lot of oil from Sudan. Likewise, you've got huge corporations from all over the world that continue to do business in Modi's Gujarat.

Some excerpts copied below:

Five years ago this week, across the Indian state of Gujarat, the stormtroopers of the Hindu right, decked in saffron sashes and armed with swords, tridents, sledgehammers and liquid gas cylinders, launched a pogrom against the local Muslim population. They looted and torched Muslim-owned businesses, assaulted and murdered Muslims, and gang-raped and mutilated Muslim women. By the time the violence spluttered to a halt, about 2,500 Muslims had been killed and about 200,000 driven from their homes.

The events of 2002 did not conform to the paradigm of the war on terror, in which India was a prize ally, so never achieved the infamy in the west they deserved. An array of interests - in New Delhi, London and Washington - is dedicated to ensuring the atrocity is consigned to oblivion. For them, the release of Parzania, a feature film centred on the violence, is an uncomfortable development. Despite dramatic flaws, it accurately depicts the savagery of the anti-Muslim violence, its planned, coordinated character, and the complicity of the police and the state government. Cinemas in Gujarat, under pressure from the Hindu right, are refusing to screen the film.

If and when Parzania reaches audiences here and in the US, it will offer a necessary counter-tale to the fashionable fable of the Indian neoliberal miracle, exposing the brutality and bigotry that have gone hand in hand with zooming growth rates and hi-tech triumphalism.

· Mike Marqusee writes a column for the Hindu; his most recent book is Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the 1960s.

Read the entire article from The Guardian.

NY Event: Women's History Month with Turning Point

Turning Point for Women and Families



When: Wed. March 14, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Where: The Puck Building, NYU

295 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10012


Asma Shikoh, Artist

Zaimah, Singer/Songwriter

and TP's very own youth group!

Food will be served!

Suggested Donation: $10


6 train to Bleecker; N/R trains to Prince Street; B/D/F/V trains to Broadway-Lafayette. or visit for exact directions.

Visit us at or call: (718) 883-9400

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Brooklyn Qawwali Party: Humanity's best bridge-builder

Right in line with my passion and zeal for anything BQP, i've pasted an article below which I wrote this past weekend after attending their CD release party. Happy reading!

New York Diary | Humanity’s best bridge-builder

Despite all the smear tactics and propaganda that we encounter through the world’s mass media outlets regarding Pakistan, the country has still been fortunate enough to be home to millions of hospitable, compassionate people who strive to make this world a safer, better place for all. I could go on and on with the names of Pakistanis from the world of finance to art, from architecture to science, from fashion to films, who have certainly made a marked difference in the lives of their fellow citizens, but more importantly, whose impact can be felt by people across borders, in faraway lands.

It is in such times that I cannot help but be saddened by the absence of the great singer, late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It may have been 10 years since his untimely death, but for those of us who were enraptured by his musical genius, it seems just like yesterday. Thankfully, his memory has been kept alive by countless musicians and non-musicians alike, and it is these people to whom we owe much gratitude. In this day and age, music can do, and has done, a great service to the cause of peace, unity and harmony. But it is indeed a pleasant surprise when the ones who carry the torch forward do not understand the language the song is sung in.

This is what enthralled me most the first time I went to see the Brooklyn Qawwali Party (BQP) perform in late 2005. None of the 14 or so band members understood Urdu, or for that matter, the taal and raags being used, yet they still managed to keep the essence of Nusrat’s music alive as they played their string, percussion and wind instruments with fervour and enthusiasm that night many months ago.

BQP has since come full circle now, having released their first CD consisting of four songs: Mustt mustt, Mann kunto Maula, Beh haad ramza dhasdha, and Allah hoo. Needless to say, the songs energise and captivate the listener, but what continues to amaze me is how experiential their concerts can be, much like when Nusrat performed. None of the band members has seen him live or in person, yet each performs with the same gusto and zest that a Sufi soul performer would.

As I sat in the audience and listened to trumpeter Jesse Neuman introduce the group at their CD release party a few nights ago, I was humbled and elated. Here were some regular, all-American folks who happened to listen to his music and have now become not only diehard fans, but also propagators of Nusrat’s noble message. “We are honoured to be able to bring Nusrat’s music to you; music that is centuries old and that, we hope, will live on for centuries to come,” Jesse said to a crowd full of people.

Nusrat sang of love for God, for the beloved and for humanity around us. He has touched the lives of millions all over the world. I remember growing up listening to his music and watching countless foreigners, who could not understand a word of what he sang, yet they were in a deep trance and understood that something so compelling could only take one to a higher plane of existence. The words meant nothing, the experience everything.

As BQP’s music makes its way into the hearts of thousands of New Yorkers, one can only marvel at the fantastic job the group is doing to bring the richness of Sufism and Pakistani music to mainstream America. We in South Asia are quite familiar with this heritage, but what to say of those who are only familiar with images of terror suspects? I am honoured that in a post-9/11 world where Pakistanis aim to build alliances and relationships with the rest of the US, they have allies and partners that are doing just as good a job as any ambassador can.

Whoever said building bridges was an engineer’s job?

Brooklyn Qawwali Party - finally out with a CD

I thought it would take a lifetime, but alas! BQP is out with a CD consisting of four energetic and lively tunes. Perfect exercise or morning walk music, as well as for a night out with friends or just something in the background at work.

Buy it here!

Angelina Jolie's on a roll - Justice for Darfur

Angelina Jolie has done yet another amazing job at highlighting the plight of those who are less fortunate than her. She already donates one-third of her earnings to charity on an annual basis, but writing about these issues raises the awareness exponentially.

The only way she can do better is if she made a video diary, as she has done in the past, and aired it on MTV perhaps?

On a side note, the article implicitly gives two huge thumbs up to the work of the UN - its refugee agency and its new judicial mechanisms (ICC and ICJ) in particular.

Now if only we could get mainstream America on track as well. The liberals are already on board - where are the conservatives? I wish they realized that like climate change and environmental issues, this one is also not political; it's moral - just like Al Gore said at the Academy Awards.

It's about time we acted.

The Washington Post article is here.

Teaching/employment opportunities at prestigious Bangladeshi university


The email below is self explanatory, but I just wanted to add that it will not only be a great experience professionally, but can hopefully also contribute to some person fulfillment as well.

All the best,


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sajid Huq <>
Date: Feb 28, 2007 11:15 AM
Subject: teaching/working for BRAC

I am forwarding an excerpt of an email from the Dean of the Economics and Social Sciences Department (ESS) at BRAC University. BRAC University is a private university in Dhaka, Bangladesh . It is among the best private institutions in Dhaka . And being a part of the very impressive umbrella of its mother organization, BRAC ( ), means that if anyone is interested in teaching there, the person would have access to the tremendous resources and programs of one of the world's premier NGOs and micro-credit institutions. Such is BRAC's reach that people in Bangladesh call the organization a state within the state. It is also expanding its coverage to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The excerpt from the Dean, Dr. Anwar:

"Let me ask your assistance in recruiting faculty members. Perhaps you know that we have obtained the UGC's approval to start a Masters of Science ( M.S.) in Applied Economics through ESS. We are getting ourselves ready to start the program this summer (May, 2007). We are searching for faculty members who can teach economics courses both at undergraduate and graduate levels.

We are looking for faculty who would be interested in teaching in Bangladesh. It can be long or short term. Long-term candidates would ideally have a Ph.D. The short term candidates are those who would teach for a semester or a year, minimum qualification would be a masters degree or an ABD. A Ph.D. candidate with intention to conduct dissertation research in Bangladesh will be welcome."

I should add that the compensation at BRAC is quite competitive, and higher than most South Asian Universities. I say this with a reasonable knowledge of compensation at most Indian Universities. If interested, please contact me off the list!
It should be a great experience, even if it is for this summer only.

Warm Regards.

Sajid Huq
PhD Candidate & Teaching Fellow
Columbia University |

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Bosnians propose, the ICJ disposes...

I havent read up enough on the recent International Court of Justice ruling that absolves the Serbians of state-sponsored genocide of the Bosnians (but says they did not prevent it either), but my initial thoughts are of disappointment and sadness.

If the ruling stated that the Serbians were responsible for the carnage and atrocities, the Bosnians were eligible for billions of dollars of assistance. While this horrific chapter finally approaches its conclusion, I would have been happy, but am not. I dont think living with the mere thought that the Serbians have been found guilty of being complicit in the crimes is enough.

Because of this complicity, and the lack of reparations they could have gotten, the Bosnians have lost faith in the world's justice system. The only court that could have given them justice, shied away from it when it had the opportunity to. The billions of dollars could have single-handedly raised living standards.

Instead, today, we see the Bosnians even more distraught, hopeless and saddened as they sit on the world's stage, the international community watching them as it smirks and giggles at them. What were they thinking? say onlookers and bystanders. Justice? What a joke...

I wonder who will have the last laugh in this story...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Article: Jolie adds glamour to US think-tank

So Angelie Jolie joins the Council on Foreign Relations.

This news isn't surprising, but I dont know what it would mean politically. What would her responsibilities be as a CFR member? What impact would she have? And most frightening - will she even be taken seriously?

I am assuming - and hoping - this is good news. I'm also definitely very interested in seeing what evolves out of this new role for her.

Complete article here.