Cessation of military operations in Northern Ireland

A new chapter seems to have opened in the history of UK as The British Army is ceasing operations in Northern Ireland at midnight tonight after 38 years. The tribute should be first made to Tony Blair whose policy in Iraq tarnished his political records in the views of many. We shouldn’t also forget about Bill Clinton who kept interested in solving the NA issue till the very last days of his presidency.

The case of Northern Ireland and the way its sectarian problems between the Unionists and the Republicans (IRA) were solved should serve as an example for other countries like Sri Lanka where there are the Tamils and Spain where there is ETA who are fighting the central governments of these countries for independence.

For UK security, a new chapter has opened since 9/11 attacks. Due to terrorists’ threats, UK security services still have to keep a watchful eye. Northern Ireland is no longer a thorn in the side of British politicians as it was the case when the IRA was supported by opponents to UK like Gaddafi of Libya, ready to spread scare around Northern Ireland and London in particular. The cessation of military operation in UK has preserved the unity of UK. Security scare from terrorists should further unite the British before individuals become militias or growing into uncontrollable numbers.

With the cessation of military operations at midnight, this is good news for further economic investment and growth in this part of the UK. The long dark nights that NA witnessed with curfews and attacks can now be replaced with a new dawn. It’s better to have foes in elected institutions that can be fought with arguments than in the street where the gun is supreme. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, every dollar spent in ending violence in NA, will be returned by 1,000 dollars in economic investment.

So the question I would like to ask is, “How Has NA prospered since the Good Friday Agreement and what are its prospects of prospering after the cessation of military operation at midnight.

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Joking about the Jihadists

BBC WHYS asked, Is it invigorating or tasteless to mock fundamentalism?

There is a Moroccan proverb which says, “Too much worries makes one laugh “. Laughter is a defensive means to face up a stressful situation or to make the best of a worst one. Political crises or government failing are portrayed in cartoons and jokes.

Terrorism or jihad has become a source of worries around the world, particularly in areas hit by attacks or still threatened by them. One way to keep normal and not to keep as seeing the world as a hell is to squeeze laughter out of what can come. Jihadists in this sense will become just like a scarecrow that no longer frightens as it has just the appearance without substance.

But there is the risk if threats from terrorists become just a source of laughter without being coupled with vigilance. It is the duty of everyone to know how to counterattack it with iron fist but without losing smiling teeth. Teeth should be used to show a smile as well as a good bite.

Joking about Jihadists can get out of control if it becomes an attack on the religion they belong to. It’s interesting to see that this kind of jokes about Bin Laden

and the rest didn’t stir any ferocious feeling among the Muslims contrary to the cartoons about Prophet Mohammed. This shows that Muslims don’t care about which joke is made about Islamists. Even in Muslim societies, there are jokes about the Jihadists. In Morocco, many jokes were made about the May 16th terrorist attacks which killed 44 people and injured many more. There are countless jokes about the Islamists like this one, “An Islamist discovered that he was gay. He put on a veil”.

If some Jihadists are driven by despair or illusion to carry their acts in what form it takes, ordinary people should carry their lives booing and jeering at them instead of taking to their heels and bury themselves in fear. It’s better they become a joke than they turn in monsters populating every part of the earth.

Spreading the Gospel in Muslim countries

The South Koreans travelling to Afghanistan must have miscalculated the consequences of their action. Afghanistan is still – at least in parts- in the grip of fundamentalists sympathetic to the Talibans. For them to decide to work in a country that is still insecure even for its inhabitants is a big adventure. They have chosen to walk on a mined land where every steps means risking getting blown up.

The hostages held there are likely to get bad publicity among the Afghans still loyal to the Talibans and to the Al-Qaeda. They must be seen them as crusaders using humanitarian aids and projects just to spread their faith as long as the funds come from a church or they work for it.

It’s true that many Afghans are in dire need. The Taliban is a reality. Aids to the areas where they operate should be through their consultation and their commitment to protect volunteers and aid donors.

In Muslim countries, it is still dangerous to spread the word as there people are born Muslims and they can’t change their religion without running the risk of being sent to prison in stable countries or merely killed in unruly ones. In some Muslim countries, you can adopt a Western life style in all aspects, there is no punishment for that. But just saying I’m not a Muslim can have dire consequences.

Turkey was tried by the EU about human rights, among which is freedom of religion. Although missionaries can get to Turkey, a secular state, they have very few followers. Some missionaries were killed there.

So it’s better to let the Muslims alone. What is needed is dialogue between different faiths on the basis of respective understanding. Those choosing to change religion had better move to a country where there is freedom of religion. There are other levels that can unite people in the spirit of cooperation. Religion should be put aside when it is likely to cause just trouble and pain.

Human growth and climatic change

Aberdeen scientists are carrying out commercial trials on a feed additive which they hope will stop cows from producing large amounts of methane. Belching cattle are responsible for producing large amounts of methane. This can be good news for the vegetarians as their diet contribute to saving the planet.

Aberdeen scientists should also work to see if human beings also produce methane by too much talking, laughing and shouting. If it is proven, people should reduce vocal responses to a minimum. They should use just electronic messages to communicate such as SMS and emails. People should also become less tall. The taller people need more cloths for their dress. The clothes industry will need less textiles to cater for people if they opt to become slim and less tall. The Danish should devise a medical method to have short children and the Japanese should keep at their current height!

The idea that birth rate can help global warming is too general. Global warming actually originates in great parts from the rich countries, especially the USA and Western Europe. In Western Europe, there is the danger of falling population. Many countries in this sphere like Germany, Spain and France are facing alarming low birth control. Children have become precious. They are using material incentives to encourage parents or single mothers to have (more) children.

World population should keep stable in terms of growth and age groups. If this equation isn’t respected, the population will be merely ageing, unable to take care of itself. The sight of children will be a rare commodity as wherever you turn you can find just people with grey or white hair. Walking canes and wheel chairs will become a thriving industry!
Prof. Chris Rapley has a sound argument when he says, “Saving a gigaton of carbon that way, through education for women and birth control programmes, would cost 1,000 times less than any of the other technical options – nuclear power, renewables, or increased car efficiency.” It’s true the more society become urbanised and education is generalised, it becomes natural for women to have less children. In the countryside, women don’t bother having as many children as possible because they live in “open spaces” where they can have rooms for their children. In the city, because of the cost of living, particularly housing, many parents can’t afford to have many children to make ends meet and to have a reasonable breathing space.

What can save the world are continuous researches in how to promote energy efficiency through solar panels and the like. What matters is the type of people we have and not their number, without stretching the planet resources to their furthest limits. Saving the planet from the effects global warming is essential for saving the human race and all other creatures. But it remains difficult to balance two extreme attitudes: guaranteeing human prosperity and using the current energy. Only green energy and balanced human growth will make the world liveable for the future generations

Responding to opposite views about Islam

To Hisham in France,

I read all you comments about Islam. From your background, being a Muslim from Muslim parents originating from a Muslim country (Morocco), you are well-placed to talk about Islam as an experience and not merely as a notion acquired through studies and reports. Your living in a western country must have enriched your experience of Islam as you surely contrast it with the values of the society where you live. But as I can see from you comments, you are enjoying the best of two worlds.

Mark for instance has general and apparently mistaken ideas about Muslims. Muslims differ in attitude because they have different social traditions which distinguish them from one another. Both a Moroccan and a Saudi are Muslims but a visitor to both countries can sense the difference. In Saudi Arabia, women, for example are still struggling for their rights. They can’t even drive or travel alone. They can’t even choose their husband without their male protector’s consent. In Morocco, thanks to the family code as you mentioned women have more rights. They can, choose their husband. For a man it has become difficult to divorce without giving guarantees to the wife he intends to divorce. It has also become impossible for a man to have more than a wife except in special circumstances.

I agree with you that Muslims like you are seeking to be part of the world and not a community apart. There are some mistaken Muslims who still consider one mode of Islam as the best referring to past Muslim heroes, caliphs and Emirs they take as the best example. But as we are human beings, we should be proud of any person who contributes to humanity regardless of their religion. It doesn’t make sense that only Muslims are the only top be favoured by God. God loves anyone who loves his neighbour as he loves himself. This is at least a shared view between Muslims and Christians. If this notion is widespread, there will be no attack or aggression at any level. When you love someone you are ready for tolerance, brotherhood will be not just in the name of religion but in the name of humanity as well.

I hope Mark will be convinced that there is a difference between the core of a religion and the way it is interpreted and practised by those who embrace it. As in any society, there are good doers and bad doers. The same applies to religion and why not atheism.

Giving asylum to Iraqis working with coalition forces in Iraq

Denmark has completed the evacuation of some 200 Iraqis who it feared faced danger for their association with Danish troops in southern Iraq.

The Americans must reveal how many Iraqis they took out of Iraq to secret prisons. For the Americans they must be suspicious of any Iraqi they take to their land as they will need 24-hour surveillance about their movement.

For the case of Iraqis taken secretly by a military force, this can be just a minimum operation. Millions are now refugees. What is needed is a quick end to the turmoil in Iraq so that all Iraqis can return to their land without fear for their lives. The state of the Iraqi refugees is a good a barometer of how things are going in Iraq.

The other risk is that any Iraqi hoping to live in the West will offer himself as an agent for the foreign forces. This is bad as Iraqis will grow more suspicious of each other.

It also remains a matter of conscience. How can someone leave one’s country to live in another peacefully and prosperously as a compensation for services rendered to an occupier while their countrymen are daily subjected to the fear of attacks?

As the Iraqi society is generally based on the extended family, even those who leave will continue to be worried about their kin. This operation is partially effective, as it doesn’t mean a total peace of mind for the beneficiaries.

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Diplomatic expulsion between UK and Russia

Russia and UK have a history of mutual diplomat expulsions from the Soviet era. In the 80s, there as an incident in which some staff members were expelled, including a baby although the baby wasn’t involved in spying.

Britain is also known to be tough as with Libya when it cut its diplomatic ties over the killing of a UK policewoman from the Libyan embassy.

Diplomatic expulsion is an indication of worsening relations. What can be worrying is how Russia and UK will sort it out knowing that both are members of G8 and permanent members of the UN Security Council. With this crisis hovering over their relations, this means other levels of cooperation will be put to a minimum. This can be bad news for those seeking to put Russia in full swing with the West.

Russia is now at odds with the US over US missile defence system in Poland and the like Adding this crisis with the UK, it can be argued that the Cold War is looming in a different form unless the three countries use their substantial weight to diffuse their tensions as soon as possible

New Orleans after Kathrina, a source of shame for the USA

The situation in New Orleans after hurricane Katherina put in question the effectiveness of local, state and federal authorities to cope with such a disaster. It’s true that the wrath of nature can be much stronger than any human preparedness but after the wrath there were damages that could be coped with in view of US technological and financial might. The Americans were somewhat ashamed of what the inhabitants of New Orleans came to as the state in which the city was lowered it to the level of a region in the third world. The Americans were used to see images of challenging disasters only in third world countries, which could do nothing without international aid.

The US is known for coming to the aid of many countries in time of peace and disaster, sometimes putting aside political differences as when there was a devastating earthquake in Iran. However, it was helpless in providing the necessary help to a city to bring it from its ruins to the state it had been in prior to the Hurricane. Maybe the locals wanted too much from their government to rebuild their lives or the responsibilities were attributed to different sides like insurance companies, individuals, officials – at the local, state and federal level. Each side finding justification for its action. The fact that Mayor Ray Nagin was re-elected despite the pitfalls in dealing with the emergency shows to a certain extent that the responsibility falls mainly on the state and the federal government.

The negative picture as it was summed by Ros in his post is that New Orleans is a place of crime, poor prosecution, sub-standard policing, corruption, a lack of public housing, the highest murder rate in he country. This reinforces the notion that New Orleans is ranking just with poor third world cities as those in South Africa. But the USA through its different sections can rebuild the city if the Americans initiate a period of solidarity through donations and volunteers to clear it from the mess it is in now.

Islam, ideal and reality

To Ali who posted on BBC WHYS his view of Islam which triggered different responses.

There is an anecdote about a man not living in a Muslim country who embraced Islam. When he visited some Muslim countries, he thanked God for having embracing it before visiting them. His conclusion was that he knew Islam in a non-Muslim country but he couldn’t see Islam in those supposedly Muslim countries.

Islam ,like major religions aims at making the human soul chaste so it can live in bliss in this world and life after this world – called the al akhira.

The point you raised are fundamental to all human beings. All religions aspire to make people honest, fair/just. The core of society is the family whereby individual have a sense of belonging and feel secure.

All these notions are grandiose. But religion or any other principle is what you make of it. To my knowledge, all the great religions have common principles by which the individual is both free and committed.

While religion is fundamentally spiritual, there are facts that make people revert to instinct for survival. When there is greed on one side and poverty on the other, one sees just the immediacy of the action. Spiritual principles are set aside.

Christianity and Islam preached peace but ironically, in their history there were the bloodiest incidents, just because religion was the pillar of power for the rulers and each tried to have superiority over the other in the name of the religion.

For Islam there was misinterpretation or ignorance of its principles even by some Muslims to justify their greed and material pursuits. As for “Women are not exploited as sexual objects”. That is what Islam preaches. But in many Muslim societies it was a common practice to have four wives ( mainly to have legitimate children)and as many concubines as possible (for sexual pleasure)

How the ills in Muslim societies can be fought depends on how Muslims can put their religion in practice without falling into extremes or seeing it as the best just to attack other religions. The same applies to Christians and Jews.

The facts that there are different tendencies among Muslims through the like of Sunnis and the Shiites which can lead to deadly and horrendous fights among them shows that individual practice of Islam alone isn’t the key to peace with oneself. There are external influences that can shake one’s upheld beliefs in what is halal “permitted” or haram “prohibited”.

Is LA Catholic Church apolgy enough?

The Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles has apologised to hundreds of people abused by priests after agreeing to a record-breaking settlement.

The apology by Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Church’s leader, comes after the 508 victims reached a pay-out deal with the church worth $660m (£324m).

There are many things that the whole money of the world can’t pay. The most important of this is the loss of dignity the rest of one’s life. Sexual abuse suffered in childhood is life long scar that can’t be easily wiped out. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church there were sexual scandals allegedly involving even popes. There used to be cover-ups. The church enjoying great moral authority was above suspicions. Its members used to see themselves as sinners needing redemption from a clergy considered as a spiritual guide. People used to have a view of the church only through public performances without the right to know what was going inside.

The lesson to learn from the LA Catholic Church compensation is that no one is above the law. Continuous scandals will scare Catholics into embracing other Christian denominations, changing religion or becoming without religion. In view of its declining influence in the developed world, the church has a chance to fructify it influence in poor Christian countries whose solace is faith, which makes them spiritually rich as they can’t make it materially.

The compensations of the LA Catholic Church can be an occasion to open the floodgate concerning abuses everywhere in the world. According to the reports, the $660m compensation will bring the LA Catholic Church almost to ruin- financial ruin. This is the consequence of ruining the lives of many. Maybe further ruins can be ahead not just in assets but also in reputation and authority, if the churches don’t clean themselves before they seek the souls of their followers. Churches are to set good examples and not to foster “do as I say, not as I do”

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