Reza Aslan to US: Leave Us Alone

This is a recent clip from CNN where Reza Aslan schools Alexander Benard on whether or not Barack Obama should be more outspoken about the current situation in Iran. Sometimes, I’m amazed that people like Alexander Benard can appear on television. Earlier in the clip, you see John McCain expressing his support for the Iranian protesters and acting like the Iranian people respect him. This is the same man who was singing “Bomb Iran” during his presidential campaign! Does he really think that people will forget that?

Alexander Benard states that the President of the United States speaks on behalf of the world. Says who? Did American Presidents all of a sudden become Presidents of the world? Isn’t this reinforcing the notion that America is a bully nation that goes around policing other states? The US has no credibility in Iran anymore; the people don’t forget the CIA-backed coup in 1953 when a democratically-elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossedegh, was ousted for the sake of re-installing the pro-western Shah. The Shah’s dictatorship only led to the rise of Ayatollah Khomeni and the subsequent Islamic revolution. And we all know in recent times how the Bush administration has been very hostile towards the current regime in Iran.

People like Alexander Benard need to get over their western savior complex and pay attention for once. I’m glad Reza Aslan shut him down and schooled him on a country that Benard doesn’t know anything about. All one needs to do is use their common sense: If the United States mingles with this situation, Ahmadinejad will use it to his advantage and it’s going to get very ugly. Look at Pakistan, for example. The Taliban invasion of Pakistan is retaliatory to the Pakistani military, which was forced into the region by the US. The Taliban accuse the Pakistani government (and anyone else who doesn’t agree with their radical ideology) of being complicit with the war crimes of the US. Ahmadinejad will do the same thing if the US interferes; he will associate Mousavi with the west and it will seriously create potential for increased violence.

I’m really fed up with these groups who suddenly “care” about Iran, when only a few months ago, they were pounding the war drum against them. I don’t understand how they can shamelessly appear on television and have the “guts” to talk about Iran. I heartily agree with Aslan. This is something that needs to be left to the Iranian people.

Rest in Peace, Neda Soltani

Iran Election Icon

Salaam everyone,

By now, I’m sure everyone has heard about Neda Agha Soltani, the Iranian woman who was shot to death during a protest in Iran on June 20th, 2009.  I’ll save my rant about why the western media all of sudden cares about Iranians/Muslims for later, but I just wanted to share a really important post written by Fatemeh Fakhraie at Muslimah Media Watch.  It’s a definite must-read and it expresses how offensive and disrespectful it is for western media, facebook users, and bloggers alike to over-publicize the blood-splattering images of this tragic incident.  Instead of seeing pictures of her like the one posted above, television and internet images are filled with her post-mortem pictures.

As some of you know, I don’t like posting images of the dead.  Western media has a bad reputation for over-publicizing images of victims when they’re killed by their own people, and not when they’re killed by U.S., British, and/or Israeli forces.  It offends me even more when I see Islamophobic bloggers post several pictures and video clips of Neda’s death while making political points.  Is that all she is to you?  Someone for you to exploit and say, “Look, look!  Islam is evil and barbaric”?  All human beings, like Neda, have value and deserve our attention.  Our Love and prayers should extend towards all humans, be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Taoist, Agonstic, Atheist, and so on.  The worst and most insulting thing we can do to the victims of such brutal murders is to exploit them.

Please visit Muslimah Media Watch and read the latest post.  It’s really important and deserves everyone’s attention.

We come from God, and to God do we return (Qur’an 2:156).  Love, peace, and light upon all.

Senseless Drone Attacks on Pakistan: Obama’s Real Science-Fiction War

drone

Yesterday, June 24th, over 80 people were killed after a U.S. drone fired missiles at the funeral of a suspected commander of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan.  Pakistani officials reported that the Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, escaped the attack while the majority of those killed were civilians.  Al-Jazeera English reports the following:

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said: “There are reports that Mehsud himself was at the congregational prayer and escaped the attack.

However, we are told that a number of people present at that particular moment were [also] killed. There were unconfirmed reports that the death toll is much higher because a number of the bodies are badly mutilated.

However, Qari Hussain, a close associate of Mehsud, denied reports that Mehsud had a close call and said many of the dead were civilians.

“Baitullah Mehsud was at a secret place at the time of the American missile attack, and the attack killed only five of our colleagues, and the remaining 45 slain men were villagers,” he told The Associated Press news agency.

There is some dispute over the causality numbers — some say over 45, some say over 65, some say over 80 — but does the exact number really matter when we’re (1) talking about human life and (2) what has now become a frequent routine sweep for U.S. drone attacks in the region?  Since President Obama’s inauguration in January, he has authorized regular attacks from unmanned U.S. predator drones on Pakistan, which has amounted to over 150 people.  As Jeremy Scahill writes in his article, Obama’s Undeclared War Against Pakistan Continues, Despite His Attempt to Downplay It,” that “Since 2006, U.S. drone strikes have killed 687 people (as of April). That amounts to about 38 deaths a month just from drone attacks.”

Last weekend, Obama sat down with Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, and stated that the U.S. has “no intention of sending US troops into Pakistan.”  He also mentioned that he knows how to cook some Pakistani dishes like qeema and daal, and expressed his appreciation for Urdu poetry.  Are these comments meant to soften the reality of U.S. operations inside of Pakistan?  Although Obama denies U.S. military presence in Pakistan, The New York Times reported the following in February:

American Special Operations troops based in Afghanistan have also carried out a number of operations into Pakistan’s tribal areas since early September, when a commando raid that killed a number of militants was publicly condemned by Pakistani officials. According to a senior American military official, the commando missions since September have been primarily to gather intelligence.

The drones are remotely-piloted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) which have been used a great deal in Iraq and Afghanistan.  What doesn’t seem to be discussed is that there is a lot of racism and ethnocentrism embedded in these drone strikes.  As Scahill comments, “the only difference between using these attack drones and using actual US soldiers on the ground is that the soldiers are living beings. These drones sanitize war and reduce the US death toll while still unleashing military hell disproportionately on civilians.”  In other words, the drone attacks tell us that human life is only important if it is American. When innocent Pakistanis are killed, all the Obama administration can say is they “regret it” because they have that privilege.

We’ve all seen it before in science fiction films and novels.  Robot armies and unmanned vehicles are deployed by nations with disproportionate military power (namely the United States) to protect their own civilians, but never showing the same concern for human beings in other countries.  Eventually, what happens is the machines take over and end up waging an indiscriminate war against all of humanity.  Remember Skynet from the Terminator series:  Cyborgs and machines built initially to protect Americans against “foreign threats” develop a system/mind of their own and become humanity’s worse enemy.  No, I am not suggesting that machines are going to take over the world in such dramatic fashion, but metaphorically, it’s already happening and right now, it’s benefiting the military superpower.  Imagine what would happen if another nation used these same drones to attack a town in the United States?  How would the U.S. react to that?

First, there were spears, then swords, then arrows, then catapults, then gunpowder, then rifles, then canons, then automatic weapons, then fighter aircraft, then missiles, then the atom bomb, and now we have unmanned aerial vehicles.  What’s next?  Android soldiers?  As much as we can appreciate human innovation and technological advancement in things like the internet and telecommunication, why is that most of our government spending is invested in military technology?  Think about all the things we could be doing with that money instead of killing other human beings.  Think about all the people we could feed, shelter, and educate.  Most of us living in the west take our privilege for granted and don’t realize that we have a privilege to pursue our dreams and ambitions.  Others, like the 3 million people displaced in Swat, have other priorities in their lives before they can even worry about anything else.

And what kind of reaction are these drone attacks going to create from Pakistanis?  How does this benefit Pakistan’s attitudes towards the United States?  Pulse Media has an excellent post which includes Democracy Now’s interview with Imran Khan, a very outspoken activist and critic of both, the Pakistani government and U.S. foreign policy.  Here’s an important excerpt:

AMY GOODMAN: Imran Khan, you were in Washington at the time that US lawmakers voted for funding the expanded war in Afghanistan. The US is planning a massive diplomatic presence in Pakistan. I think President Obama asked something like three-quarters of a billion dollars, $736 million, to build a new US embassy, as well as permanent housing for US officials in Islamabad. What is the effect of this? And what is the effect of the expanded war in Afghanistan on Pakistan?

IMRAN KHAN: Well, there was no terrorism in Pakistan, we had no suicide bombing in Pakistan, ’til Pakistan sent its troops on—under pressure from the US. Musharraf, General Musharraf, capitulated under the pressure and sent Pakistani troops into the tribal area and Waziristan. So it was that that resulted in what was the new phenomenon: the Pakistani Taliban. We had no militant Taliban in Pakistan, until we got in—we were forced into this US war on terror by a military dictator, not by the people of Pakistan. And people never owned this war. People always thought that this is not our war, and quite rightly, because we did not have any terrorism in Pakistan, as subsequently grew.

The more operations we did, the more reaction came. And suddenly, as now, we have thirty Taliban groups. I mean, these groups call themselves Taliban, but basically these are radicalized people, these are extremists. And extremism is growing in Pakistan, the more we are being engulfed in this war, which is based in, basically, Afghanistan. So, as long as the US troops are in Afghanistan, I’m afraid there’s no peace in Pakistan either, because the tribal areas are basically—there’s no border there, so the Pashtuns are split between—on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and we have, you know, this movement across the border. And, you know, to send a—think that the Pakistan army is going to stop it—I think Pakistan army itself is going to be stuck in this quagmire, the same as the US in Afghanistan.

Imran Khan makes a crucial point that I always find myself making when I discuss how the current crisis in Pakistan evolved.  Following the attacks of September 11th, George W. Bush gave countries like Pakistan an ultimatum, “you’re either with us or against us.”  In that respect, Pakistan was pigeon-holed into military cooperation with the United States and as a result of fighting Taliban and militant forces in the North West Frontier Province, hostility and antagonism towards the Pakistani government increased.  The Taliban forces have invaded Pakistan, not because this was something rooted in their ideology, but because the Taliban consider the Pakistani government complicit with the war crimes of the United States.

President Obama, who has criticized U.S. foreign policy in other countries, oddly does not enlighten Americans about the current struggles in Paksitan.  He does not seem to worry about the inevitable backlash from the Taliban, militants, or even the civilians who just lost their Loved ones.  If Obama is willing to engage in diplomatic relations with other Muslim countries like Iran and Palestine, then why isn’t the same true for Pakistan and Afghanistan?  The President assured Pakistanis that their country’s sovereignty will not be violated, but the truth of the matter is that the drone strikes are violating their sovereignty.  So what is Obama’s purpose in Pakistan?  Jeremy Scahill reveals some disturbing facts about America’s plans in Afghanistan and Pakistan:

It is clear—and has been for a long time— that the Obama administration is radically expanding the US war in Afghanistan deeply into Pakistan. Whether it is through US military trainers (that’s what they were called in Vietnam too), drone attacks or commando raids inside the country, the US is militarily entrenched in Pakistan. It makes Obama’s comment that “[W]e have no intention of sending US troops into Pakistan” simply unbelievable.

For a sense of how significant US operations are and will continue to be for years and years to come, just look at the US plan to build an almost $1 billion massive US “embassy” in Islamabad, which is reportedly modeled after the imperial city they call a US embassy in Baghdad. As we know very clearly from Iraq, such a complex will result in an immediate surge in the deployment of US soldiers, mercenaries and other contractors.

Are you enjoying your qeema and daal, Mr. President?

Pseudo-Support for Iran From Ignorant Westerners

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It goes a little something like this:

Bob: Hey man, did you see the new trailer for Transformers 2?

Steve: No, I didn’t.

Bob: Oh, you gotta see it, it’s freakin’ awesome!  Here, sign on to YouTube real quick.

(Steve types in the web address for YouTube).

Bob: What the…?

Steve: What?

Bob:  What’s this thing at the top?  Breaking news from Iran…

(Steve clicks on link)

Steve: Oh, it must be about the protests.

Bob: Oh yeah, against Akmadina-whatever the hell his name is?  The guy who wants to kill all the Jews?

Steve: Yeah, that #@$ing anti-Semite.

Bob: It’s awesome that the people are standing up against him.

Steve: Yeah, finally!  It’s about time.

Bob: I heard the elections were jacked.

Steve: That’s effed up.

Bob: Yeah, and I also heard that the other guy is like Obama.

Steve: Screw Obama, I voted for McCain.

Bob: No, what I mean is, he wants to modernize the country.  McCain even supports him.

Steve: Oh nice.  But Iran is Muslim, right?

Bob: Yeah, but these people are moderate.  They’re for democracy, that’s all I know.

Steve: Yo, these Iranian girls are pretty hot.

Bob: Haha, yeah I know, man.

Steve: We definitely need to liberate their country.  Get those stupid rags off their heads.

Bob: Hells yeah.

Steve: We should go to their rallies, man.

Bob: Oh yeah, we should.  We’ll meet some Iranian chicks!

Steve: Hahaha!

(Bob looks at the clock)

Bob: Yo, it’s almost time for paint ball.  You still coming?

Steve: Yeah, of course.

(Bob grabs car keys)

Bob: I’m driving.

Steve: Oh hold on, wait.  Let me change my facebook profile picture real quick.  I like those “Where’s my vote?” signs they’re holding.

Congratulations Pakistan!

afridi celebrate 2

I will never forget this day, Sunday, June 21st of 2009 when the Pakistani cricket team defeated Sri Lanka to win the world cup in Twenty20 cricket.  Throughout the tournament, teams like South Africa, Sri Lanka, and India were favored to be this year’s champions, but no one expected Pakistan — led by an unstoppable Shahid Afridi — to power their way through.

This morning, as I sat tensely and cheered Pakistan on, I was reminded when Pakistan went to the Cricket world cup final in 1999 and lost miserably to Australia.  I remembered 2007′s Twenty20 tournament when India defeated Pakistan.  This year, Pakistan had to win.  A country that has been bombed, invaded, threatened, exploited, vilified, misgoverned, ignored, among many other things, can only take so much before the spirit of the people pull them out of the dark.  Indeed, it is a cricket team that has lifted the hopes of so many Pakistanis all across the globe, giving them something to smile, cheer, and even cry in joy about.  The exceptional teamwork and passion of their cricket team proved to the world that Pakistan deserved it.

I didn’t mention this in my previous post, but it bothers me when I see Pakistan and Pakistani people being so openly trashed and insulted around the blogosphere (one friend of mine reading this knows what I’m referring to *wink*).   It hurts me that there are millions of displaced Pakistanis as result of the Taliban invasion of Swat.  Recently, my parents and I watched some old footage that I video-taped in Swat when we visited in 2000.  It isn’t easy for those who make a mockery out of places like Swat (simply to support their Islamophobic views) to understand what it’s like to watch old footage of a beautiful place that you once visited before and realize that there’s a strong chance you’ll never see it again.  I was reminded of Swat while watching this cricket match and it wasn’t hard to tell that the team was winning it for them, as well as for all of Pakistan.

When I went out today, I looked at my Pakistani key chain and smiled at it.  I let it dangle freely when I walked into the mall; I rolled down my windows and popped in a CD of Pakistani music and sang along.  I smiled because I knew, today, my fellow Pakistanis were all happy.  We called our relatives and said “Mubarak (congratulations)” like it was Eid, we posted ecstatic status messages on our Facebook (and Twitter, I’m sure) accounts, and we all knew how important this was for our country, whether we were cricket fans or not.  Something also must be said about Sri Lanka, another country that has been facing challenges and difficulty.  They had a terrific run in the tournament and their country should be proud of them.  I especially liked the sportsmanship that both teams showed throughout the match, especially at the end.

Pakistan world cup champions

I found a great article published on Pakistan Daily this morning almost immediately after Pakistan won the match.  Very similar to my previous post here on Muslim Reverie, the author talks about how this victory was not just a win, but rather a reminder that there is hope.  Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from the article:  “It is crucial to remember why Pakistan’s win is so important. This win is not about winning at all. It is about showing the world that once again, Pakistan has performed in the face of difficulty; death of their coach, attack on their country, bombing of their cities, exploitation of their money. A nation who the whole world had given up on has turned around to come out with a lot more than they expected. But they earned it. These players were working under the pressure of not only the game, but the political games being played with their loved ones in their hometowns. Sometimes, Allah sends motivation from unusual sources.”

As they say, Allah — God — works in mysterious ways.  There are still immense problems in Pakistan, but this win was something that the people needed a lot.  It was beautiful to see the Pakistani players to make sajdah after the victory and then hear the commentators point out how important and special this world cup is to the people of Pakistan.  When I look at the players of this wonderful team and then at the horrible images we see on CNN and Fox News, I see a mismatch.  This is no surprise to me, as a Pakistani and Muslim, but I’m sure that there a lot of non-Muslims and non-Pakistanis in the west who are not familiar with these images.  Surely, these images of remarkably talented and passionate cricketers don’t represent all of Pakistan.  They just represent one incredible snapshot!

Here’s a clip of the winning moment!  Watch it before they take it down (hopefully they won’t!):

This Isn’t Just About Cricket

Afridi South+Africa+v+Pakistan+ICC+Twenty20+World+MxS19XTx9ztl

Scoring 51 runs from 34 balls and taking two important wickets, Shahid Afridi (pictured above) led Pakistan into their second-consecutive Twenty20 World Cup final after a marvelous all-around performance against the favored South Africa team on Thursday, June 18th.  Cricket commentators and analysts are calling this a “fairy tale” story for Pakistan, a country that has been facing immense adversity from the Taliban invasion, U.S. drone attacks, and negative media coverage.  The stunning performance and incredible display of teamwork from the Pakistani cricket team has shone a positive light in the hearts of millions of Pakistanis worldwide, showing the world that there is more to their country than just politics and turmoil.

After the victory, former test captain Moin Khan told Reuters, “Cricket has always been a big binding force in our country and the team’s success in the World Cup has helped lift the spirits of the people.  The last few months have been very hard for the people and many of us carry psychological scars of the innocent lives lost in these terrorist attacks. But for now we have something to celebrate and look forward to.”

Indeed, the last few months have been very difficult for Pakistan, and many Pakistanis who live outside of the country, like myself, feel heartbroken not only because of the Taliban invasion or the bombings in Lahore and Peshawar, but also because there are so many stereotypes and misconceptions about Pakistan and its people.  It’s wonderful when people are able to share and celebrate their culture, but lately, it’s been difficult to speak about my culture without having to deal with questions about terrorism, the Taliban, or even Osama bin Laden.  Being Muslim, the “Islam and terrorism” association is something I’ve been dealing with since 9/11, but now, since I feel more connected with Pakistan, the negative perceptions have worsened.

Unfortunately, most non-Pakistanis, especially in the west, have a very vague and limited understanding of what the country is actually going through.  The general impression seems to be that Pakistan is unstable and that a war is brewing between radical militants (like the Taliban) and the Pakistani government.  The Pakistani public, however, are left out of the picture.  Rather than pointing out that the majority of Pakistanis are very anti-Taliban, most of mainstream media is filled with Islamophobic rhetoric and a lot of misinformation, especially regarding whether or not the Pakistani government has been cooperating militarily with the United States (the fact that Pakistan has lost more civilians and soldiers than the United States in fighting insurgents doesn’t ever seem to be mentioned by the mainstream media or even the Obama administration).  Neglecting the voice that represents the majority of Pakistan is really irresponsible journalism and it’s one of the reasons why so many western stereotypes and misconceptions persist about Pakistanis.

The reason why the latest news about Pakistan’s cricket team is so significant is because cricket receives a lot of media attention in Europe, Africa, South Asia, and Australia, and the fact that Pakistan has reached the final during a time when its country is enduring so many struggles is remarkable alone.  It not only breaks stereotypes, but also helps restore some dignity and respect to Pakistan’s tarnished image.  It’s unfortunate that cricket hardly receives any media attention in the United States (since it doesn’t have a team), but perhaps a victory for Pakistan in the final would inspire (at least some) media coverage of it, considering that the Pakistani athletes have promised to donate their earnings to displaced people in the North West Frontier Province.

As many Pakistanis know, cricket is not just another sport.  It’s almost like the country’s second religion.  When I watched Pakistan defeat South Africa yesterday, I saw Pakistanis rejoicing in the crowd, young boys and girls with Pakistani flags painted on their cheeks and waving their green banners, people of all ages dancing and cheering into video cameras more jubilantly than I’ve probably ever seen them before  — these are the images of Pakistanis that I am familiar with.  Although most of the Pakistanis in the crowd were British citizens, I believe that all Pakistanis, no matter where in the world, knew exactly why they were cheering.  It wasn’t just about cricket.  It was about something more than that.  It was about inspiring hope, answering to the critics who said Pakistan’s reputation was destroyed after the attacks on the Sri Lanka cricket team, and showing the world that Pakistan has a place in the world where the majority of its citizens want stability and peace in their country.

I don’t think I’ve ever been this emotional while watching a cricket game.  Whether it’s Shahid Afridi’s gritty and competitive attitude on the pitch, or Pakistanis marching in the streets to reinstate the chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, or even large demonstrations against the Taliban, it all reveals that despite the problems that confront the country, the Pakistani people have heart and are not the “enemies” as western media often depicts them.  It is something they deserve appreciation and respect for.  May Allah keep Pakistan safe from both internal and external forces that only want to destroy it.  Ameen.

Good luck on Sunday, Pakistan!  In the meantime, enjoy the clip below from Pakistan’s recent victory over South Africa:

Conflicting Views on Iran

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I’ve been doing my best to follow the Iranian elections, results, and aftermath as closely and accurately as possible for almost a week now, but it seems that the more I read, the more confused and conflicted I feel about the whole situation.  There are many bloggers/writers/journalists out there who are doing an incredible job keeping us updated on what’s going on in Iran and they surely deserve a lot more attention than I do.  I don’t really feel like I can offer some “new insight” on this, but if you’re interested in what my thoughts are, please read on and let me know what you think.

Prior to the election results, I read about Ahmadinejad’s opposing reform candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and my general impression was that he was going to win the election.  One article in particular by Robert Dreyfuss stated that Ahmadinejad supporters were “hard to find” (in Tehran, at least, which ended up going to Mousavi).  It really seemed like Mousavi was going to be the victor until, a day before the election results, I noticed a message that an Iranian friend of mine on Facebook wrote on her status: “If Ahmadinejad wins, Mousavi supporters will say, ‘it was rigged.’”  When the results were announced, that is exactly what happened.

Perhaps it was rigged.  There’s a strong possibility of it, sure.  I mean, if the elections can be rigged in a democracy like the United States, then it could certainly happen anywhere else.  But then I started hearing an alternative side of the story; something we’re not hearing a lot in the media:  What if Ahmadinejad really won?  All over CNN and other mainstream western media outlets, we’re seeing images of young Mousavi supporters protesting in the streets of Tehran, holding up signs that read, “Where is my vote?” and resisting against riot police.  No doubt, these demonstrations are really powerful and inspiring, but what irks me a lot is the way the Western media is presenting the story.

First off, we hardly see anything about Ahmadinejad’s supporters.  Their voices and presence seem conspicuously absent in most western media.  I’ve heard people tell me, “no one voted for Ahmadinejad” or “the majority of Iran hates him,” but in actuality, he has a lot of supporters.  Even if you believe the election was rigged, I think people need to be honest enough to admit that Ahmadinejad has a significantly large number of supporters.  Secondly, the western media seems to present the current struggle as something like “secular reformists” versus “religious fundamentalism.”  This is absolutely false and sheer misrepresentation of facts.  Mousavi may be a reformist, but he is not a secular reformist.  Contrary to what many westerners may think at first glance, Mousavi would not abolish the Islamic Republic, but rather bring forth a new and different interpretation of Islam.  Even if you watch the video clips of Mousavi supporters, you’ll hear them chanting, “Allahu Akbar!” (God is Great).  Furthermore, there are religious clerics and mullahs expressing full support for Mouasvi.  In fact, a couple of days ago, Grand Ayatollah Husayn ‘Ali Montazeri questioned the election results and issued a statement in support of peaceful protests to “claim rights.”  Presenting these protests as “anti-religion” is not only irresponsible, but also very misleading and counter-productive.

Thirdly, the mainstream western media neglects to inform us that many of the same people who said, “Bomb Iran” are now expressing their concern for the country.  It’s worded much better in Glenn Greenwald’s article, “The ‘Bomb Iran’ contingent’s newfound concern for The Iranian People.” Here’s an excerpt:

Much of the same faction now claiming such concern for the welfare of The Iranian People are the same people who have long been advocating a military attack on Iran and the dropping of large numbers of bombs on their country — actions which would result in the slaughter of many of those very same Iranian People.  During the presidential campaign, John McCain infamously sang about Bomb, Bomb, Bomb-ing Iran.  The Wall St. Journal published a war screed from Commentary‘s Norman Podhoretz entitled “The Case for Bombing Iran,” and following that, Podhoretz said in an interview that he “hopes and prays” that the U.S. “bombs the Iranians”… Imagine how many of the people protesting this week would be dead if any of these bombing advocates had their way — just as those who paraded around (and still parade around) under the banner of Liberating the Iraqi People caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of them, at least.

I attended a rally for Iran yesterday and I felt really uncomfortable that some of the White non-Muslim supporters didn’t know what they were talking about (to put it bluntly).  “Why do you support Mousavi?” I asked them.  “I don’t really know much about him,” said one person.  “I just know that he’s more moderate,” said another.  A third person said, “I just hate Ahmadinejad.”   I followed up with the question, “Why do you hate Ahmadinejad?”  The response, “Because he ruined Iran’s image.”  I followed up again, “How so?”  The response was short and brief, “The comments he made about the holocaust, they completely ruined Iran’s image in the world.”  A White man rode by on his bicycle and expressed his support by shouting, “Down with dictators!”  Another White non-Muslim told me that she was showing her support because Iran is “so oppressive.”  An Iranian-American (who didn’t want to be video-taped) told me that even if Ahmadinejad had more supporters, the protesting is good because it’s what Iran needs right now.

Ok, can I call time-out?  I know there are a lot of passionate arguments going back and forth about this and I really don’t want to be censored from some of my favorite blogs in the blogosphere for speaking my mind about this, but hear me out for a minute or two.  Remember during the Bush administration, many democrats, liberals, Iranians and/or Muslims alike would argue that Bush was over-exaggerating immensely about the “existential threat” of Iran?  Do you remember Ahmadinejad’s “wipe Israel off the map” comment, which turned out to be a mistranslation and George W. Bush just pounding on his war drum?  Do you remember Reza Aslan saying “Ahmadinejad is no Hitler” on Anderson Cooper? Many of us said that even though Ahmadinejad is not very popular in Iran, he is essentially a powerless figure (according to Aslan’s recent appearance on MSNBC, he doesn’t even have “the national security clearance to even look at Iran’s nuclear portfolio, let alone make any decisions about it”).

Now, suddenly, Ahmadinejad has transformed into this “tyrant” and “Hitler-esque” figure that many of us were rejecting during the Bush Administration.  Ok, he made an idiotic statement about the Holocaust, but does that mean he’s a tyrant, oppressor, dictator, or Hitler reincarnate?  I do not support Ahmadinejad, on the contrary, I would have liked to see Mousavi as President, but I am simply against misrepresentation of facts.  Put this in perspective:  Ahmadinejad released those British sailors, didn’t he?  He also released Roxana Saberi even though she was a Fox News propagandist, and  he even called for an extension on Delara Darabi’s trial, but sadly, she was secretly executed (an order that was carried out by an unfair court).  It’s one thing to protest Ahmadinejad, but it’s another thing to misrepresent him and completely mistaken the amount of power he actually has in the country, which belongs to the Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  Jasmin Ramsey at Pulse Media has a great piece on the western media’s biased coverage (and misrepresentation of Ahmadinejad) in which she writes:

If one dares to go beyond (though not necessarily against) expressing support for the protestors in favor of taking a more analytical approach to this extremely complex situation, they are almost immediately defamed or written off as someone who supports Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ”the bad,” as Robert Fisk of The Independent has recently referred to him.

Anyway, as Ali A. Rizvi writes in his article, the election results are pretty much irrelevant now.  The protests represent the larger picture and the fact that seven people have been killed so far is very troubling.  Mousavi called for a day of mourning for his followers to observe in memory of those killed in the protests and I think this is strengthening his position even more.  I hope that there’s a positive resolution to all of this and I pray that no one else is killed.  It could very well be that Ahmadinejad won the election and it could also be possible that it was rigged, but regardless, the demonstrations right now show us that both candidates have thousands of supporters.  Like I said before, there is a lot of information to absorb and there are passionate arguments on both sides, which can make it a bit difficult to sift through, but it’s clear that Iran is making history right now and that the people will decide the future of their country.

I’ve noticed that the arguments can get quite heated and sometimes we concern ourselves too much with one-upping the opposing argument that we forget what this is about in the first place.  I am inspired by the energy  and persistence of the Iranian people, I have always had deep affection for Iranian culture, history, music, art, and language, and I pray that whatever the turnout is, it is best for the people.