A propagandist-in-chief's war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme

Posts Tagged: Salafi Takfiris

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Foreign Policy magazine  has published a thought provoking and brilliant analysis of the Saudization of anti-Shi’ism which details how sectarian discourse has shifted to doctrinal sectarianism, which is far more divisive and exclusionary than its older, ethnic/national variant. What I find particularly terrifying about this shift is that it has the effect of depoliticizing [while militarizing] identity-driven conflicts and essentializing them so that they become seemingly irreconcilable. Nasrallah referred to this shift in his last speech when he said ” At first, they didn’t refer to it as “Shia” [threat]. Today I want to call things by their name; they didn’t say Shia, they used to say the Iranians or the Majoos or the Persians, were attacking the eastern gate of the Arab umma…. They made a new enemy and then realized that their language which used the words Persian and Majoos etc. didn’t serve their project. So they gave their invented enemy another name: the Shia expansion.”

The full article penned by Fanar Haddad, is here . Excerpts below:

"The overthrow of Saddam Hussein changed all that. Since 2003, ajam, a term that was ubiquitous in what was regarded as anti-Shiite sentiment in Iraq and beyond, has all but disappeared from public usage. In its place has emerged a style of anti-Shiism that was largely the preserve of clerical circles of the Saudi Arabian variant. This is a discourse of exclusion primarily based on religious otherness that is embodied by the word rafidha. This new form of sectarian animosity frames the Shiites as suspect not because of the allegedly ambiguous national loyalties of some nor because of the so-called “ethnic impurity” of others but because of the beliefs that define the sect as a whole.

There is a qualitative difference between stigmatizing the Shiites as ajam and stigmatizing them asrafidha. Its potential repercussions on stability and social cohesion explain why authoritarian regimes in Iraq and elsewhere employed the former and repressed the latter. Multi-sectarian states like Iraq need a convincing veneer of inclusivity to survive. Iraq can afford to treat its miniscule Baha’i community the way Saudi Arabia treats its religious minorities, but its internal stability is hardly served by the explicit, unabashed, and ideological exclusion of culturally or demographically competitive sections of the population such as the Sunnis or Shiites. In dealing with Shiite opposition, ajam was a far more useful tool than rafidha for successive Iraqi regimes, as it allowed for selective exclusion: the state line throughout the 20th century was that some Shiites may beajam but that does not detract from “our brothers” the “noble Arab Shiite tribes.” This starkly contrasts with exclusion on the basis of doctrine which would place all Shiites beyond redemption until they renounce their beliefs and their adherence to Shiism.”

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Nothing is more absurd, disturbing and disillusioning as marking as “the anniversary of the Syrian revolution” the same date which signaled the wholesale destruction of the Syrian state; the fratricide that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people; the rise of Salafi-Takfiri terrorist groups and sectarian militias; the end of communal coexistence; the violation of a once powerful nation’s sovereignty by the US-NATO-Arab alliance and the influx of foreign fighters they have trained and dispatched; the substitution of a secular, anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist political culture with its antithesis— the culture of blind sectarian hatred which looks to reactionary Gulf monarchies as its point of reference, a culture whose leading figures, activists and intellectuals beg imperialist powers to invade their country whether directly or by proxy while assuring Israel of their pacific intentions. 
March 15 marks the day that made March 14 [i.e. the day that launched Lebanon’s own US-Wahhabi backed movement whose raison d’etre is the destruction of the Resistance] pale in comparison. No matter what the outcome of this ugly conflict is, March 15 will forever be remembered by the free world as the day that signaled the loss of Syria as we know it. And shame on every Arab and leftist who commemorates this day as anything less.

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'The bombing, blamed on “terrorists” by both the regime and its opponents…The attack was “carried out by armed terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda that receive financial and logistic help from abroad,” the foreign ministry said, using government terminology for rebels.'
You read that people? According to AFP, the Syrian Foreign Ministry is clearly using biased terminology when it describes the nihilistic violence which claimed 60 innocent lives today as “terrorism.” This type of “terminology” is strictly reserved for the Syrian “regime” which is so detached from reality that it is misreading and mislabeling as terrorism, the freedom-seeking struggle of “rebels”— a term which AFP suggests is a far more accurate term to describe the perpetrators of this bloodbath. Clearly, the Syrian government’s definition of terrorism represents a significant departure from the prevailing legal and linguistic consensus on the term which defines it as “the unlawful use of violence or threat of violence to instill fear and coerce governments or societies…. motivated by religious, political, or other ideological beliefs and committed in the pursuit of goals that are usually political.” After all, the US Defense Department’s definition cited here only refers to violence that harms US interests. All other acts which fit neatly into this definition are liberation struggles led by rebels not terrorists. And so long as the religion they are motivated by is House Islamism, it’s all good. 

Addendum* : AP also made this disgusting attempt to sanitize today’s terrorism as guerrilla warfare : "But the recent bombings and mortar attacks suggest that instead of trying a major assault, rebel fighters are resorting to guerrilla tactics to loosen Assad’s grip on the heavily fortified capital." See “rebels” are “resorting” [i.e. being forced to] adopt “guerrilla tactics”, with all the positive liberationist connotations such a term conveys.

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Excerpts from interviews with the martyred Tunisian opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, who exposes the role of the ruling Nahda party in the war on Syria and in sowing strife: ” these American and Zionist criminals enter our mosques and militarize our youths and send our children to die in Syria to defend a project that isn’t theirs…” The courageous Belaid accuses a Nahda official of collaboration with Israel in one of his interviews “you are a collaborator, a collaborator for the Zionists and Americans!”

But there is no room for the anti-imperialism of heroes like Belaid in the Arab Spring’s democratic-regimes, which are dominated by the most sinister form of colonized Arab—the House Islamists. 

It is instructive to recall here Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah’s warning about this phenomenon in December 2008 and in later speeches:

“Neither America nor Israel cares about our prayers or fasting. Fast as you want, pray as you want, or perform pilgrimage as you want, but leave things, sovereignty, and the major political interests for America and Israel…In principle, the Americans do not mind if the ruler is Islamist, Communist, Marxist, Leninist, Maoist, or nationalist. This is not important for them. You can have whatever ideology or thought you want. What matters is what is your political program? What is your position on Israel? What is your position on the United States?”

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It has become increasingly apparent that the war on Syria has not merely succeeded in sowing sectarian discord among the Arab public at large, but has even infected the reasoning of once progressive, secular, Arab intellectuals.

Take founder of Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah as an example. Last week, Ali tried to sanitize the FSA of its sectarian crimes by blaming anti-Alawite hate speech on Twitter on “pro-Assad trolls”.  This week, Ali has gone one step further in his defense of rabidly anti-Shia, sectarian takfiris by condemning all those who disseminated a fatwa [mis]attributed to Shia-bashing, Saudi Wahhabi cleric Muhammad al-Arifi  who later denied ever issuing it.

The fatwa in question permitted Syrian rebels to engage in temporary marriages with Syrian women over 14 for the sole purpose of sexual gratification—a religious edict which is easily believable considering Wahhabi misogyny and Arifi’s record of morally repugnant social and political positions which Ali himself notes in his piece. For example, in one such instance, Arifi brands Shia as “treasonous villains”.

Viewed against this background and given that the fake tweet uses an identical Twitter handle as Arifi’s original account and an identical profile pic, reporting the fatwa can hardly be portrayed as an unforgivable sin at a time when mainstream media has done nothing but manufacture entire news reports and narratives about Syria, with an even flimsier grounding in reality.

Yet, despite Ali’s admission that Arifi “has openly engaged in sectarian incitement against Shia Muslims”, Ali seems intent on whitewashing the takfiri cleric by devoting an entire article and numerous tweets to dissociating the nefarious figure from the fake tweet—as though it were significantly worse than his other odious rulings and statements.

More disturbing still, is the Islamophobia accusation Ali levels against all those who circulated the offensive tweet. Ali suggests that Iran is in cahoots with Israel in spreading Islamophobia when he links his EI piece on the subject to the following tweet:

“Zionists, Islamophobes, Hindu nationalists, US progressives and Iran come together to spread Islamophobic trash.”

Ali makes a similar allegation in his piece : “Progressive news organization AlterNet has fallen for and disseminated a story, pushed by Zionist, Islamophobic and Iranian outlets, claiming that a prominent Saudi cleric issued a religious edict authorizing sex-deprived fighters in Syria to rape women there.”

Aside from the absurdity of lumping Iran together with Israel in ANY campaign, Ali’s branding of a nation which identifies itself as the Islamic Republic of Iran as Islamophobic, is equally, if not more, absurd.  In so doing, Ali seems to be adopting Saudi media discourse which uniformly attempts to depict Iran as harbouring an anti-Sunni agenda, as well as a Wahhabi discourse that seeks to de-Islamicize Iran as a heterodox version of Islam . This attempt is further revealed by Ali’s assertion that Iranian tv outlets, namely Press Tv, reported that Arifi’s fatwa legalized rape, as indicated in the above excerpt. When distinguishing media which misinterpreted the fake tweet as a license to gang rape from those that didn’t (Ali informs readers that “the term “gang rape” does not appear in the New TV report”), he neglects to list Press Tv as an outlet which did not use these terms in its report. In fact, if one follows the Press Tv link to the fatwa story which Ali himself provides, all that can be found is a faithful translation of the fatwa and non-sensationalist headline “Militants can marry Syrian women: Wahhabi cleric in Saudi Arabia.” 

I wonder what Ali’s next campaign will be, perhaps to justify Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s exhortion to: “fight all those working with the regime, whether they are combatants or civilians or religious scholars or the ignorant”? 

No matter how ardently Ali will struggle in future to appease his pro-opposition fans with his takfiri-washing, the rest of us know full well the difference between Islamophobia and Salafi Takfiri-phobia. While the former targets Sunnis and Shias alike and does not distinguish resistance actors like Iran, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qassam Brigades, from  Salafis, Syrian jihadis and Wahhabis,  the latter exclusively targets mainstream Sunnis, Shia and Christians; in other words, the overwhelming majority of Arabs and Muslims. Ali’s efforts would be better spent defending our people rather than those who seek to divide and destroy our region and who surely will not countenance secular progressives like himself. 

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