Thursday, January 08, 2009

"a big concentration camp" and the Ashura of our Time

You can always count on Ron Paul to say it like it is, as he did in this statement a few days ago, where he described Palestinians as being confined in a big "concentration camp" in Gaza. A representative of the Pope also spoke out in calling Gaza "a big concentration camp". I'm sure both the Pope and Ron Paul will shortly be bombarded with accusations of antisemitism.

In addition to nightmarish visions of Nazi concentration camps, the situation in Gaza is also prompting many to compare it to Ashura, the day on the Islamic calendar month of Muharram marking the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, the grandson of the prophet Mohammad. On his way to Kufa, at the Battle of Karbala, Hossein and his small army of men, along with scores of womenandchildren, were slaughtered by the massive army of Yazid, and the historic battle is often viewed as a symbol of the importance of fighting against injustice, even if one is outnumbered and facing a brutal army that shows no mercy.

One of the things still mourned to this day is the failure of the people of Kufa and others to come to the aid of Hossein.

The orientalists working for the Israeli Ministry of foreign affairs, apparently in their zeal to further the strife they have been creating and nurturing between Shia and Sunni, seem to have been so convinced about their own narratives about Shia/Sunni dischord that they figured bombing during Muharram would go unnoticed by the Muslim world.

Well, it hasn't. Calling Gaza the Ashura of our times in a recent speech, Hassan Nassrollah successfully tapped into the resonance of this story in a way that goes beyond Sunni/Shia divisions.

In addition to fueling world outrage against itself, Israel may have also dealt a blow to the US-Israel project of fostering Shia-Sunni sectarianism.

Yesterday, in marking Ashura, Iranians also remembered Gaza, making the same link between the historical tale of injustice and the story playing out before our very eyes. You may be surprised if you see the faces of some of the people who joined this commemoration, here is one example:

(original picture from here)

Despite the best efforts of State Department funded VOA and similar stations trying to brainwash the Iranian people to worry about their own troubles (why don't you take your own advice, State Department!), there are plenty of Iranians who can think and see for themselves.

I am happy that people of various beliefs, in Iran and throughout the world, are putting aside their ideological differences and joining one another in raising their voice against the massacres of Gaza.

Thousands of protesters around the world. The UN. Ron Paul. The Pope. Girls in Tehran with too much make-up and girls with their plastic surgery bandages still on their nose. I'm proud to be part of this diverse group!