Wednesday, August 30, 2006

NCCRI must do some introspection

Sheikh Dr. Shaheed Satardien breaks the silence

This happens to be my first post on this blog which I have especially created to give some therapy to my clogged up hurt and sadness to what I have read about the response of the NCCRI head Philip Watt.
I think that he may be the person (or his side-kick) to whom I have given my business card of the Federation Of Families For Reconciliation And Peace (FOFFRAP) in the Dublin City Hall on the occassion of the comemmoration of the Holocaust (Shoa'ah) some time ago.

Otherwise he has never met me I suppose and his organization in any case has not done anything to help me when my family and I were the victims of racism in this country.
They told me that they cannot do anything but listen to us and record the details. On both occasions that I have visited their offices I was treated like an intruder. Not as much as a little advice did they give. Their training sessions need much to be said about when they question the origins of people's names. What type of multi-cultural training is that anyway some people are asking??

What exactly gave this self-righteous politically correct person the right to comment on me personally and on the organization that I run without having met me or acquainted himself with our organization? We agree that we do not have the money and the infrastructure that his other wealthy Arab friends have but we also know that life is not judged by wealth , bricks and mortar as he seems to fail to realise. I refuse to be silenced by people like him and the Arab business men and women who have turned my genuine concern into a freak show, a media circus and a power struggle. I just hope that for the sake of the broader society these politically correct lefties do not, at a later stage, regret their irresponsible utterances and have mud thrown into their faces by virtue of their own naivity now.
I must also mention that they were very silent at the time of the cartoons saga. Why? The other question is: did he not see that I have led more than one thousand two hundred people through the streets of Dublin in a peaceful march opposing the day of anger and violence that the leader of his friends called for?
Although I do not agree with the 'victim' mentality that is continuously displayed by the Muslim community, I would like to mention that I am not only saddened that I have become:
a - a victim of spiel and spin of journalists,
b - a victim of a scathing attack by unscrupulous and dishonest Arab busines people masquerading as so-called Muslim leaders
who have turned a genuine and sincere concern into a freak show, media circus and a power struggle,
c - a victim of the cross-fire of warring newspapers who have axes to grind with one another,
d - a victim of an obfuscating and deceiving Arab leadership who poses more as business-men and women than leaders who have the interest and well-being of their communities and their fellow citizens at heart,
e - a victim of the power and influence of the wealthy who have marginalised the down-trodden in their own so-called Muslim community probably because they are not of their ethnic extraction or of their movement's philosophies,
f- a victim of the inadequacies of organizations like the NCCRI who blow hot steam to appease a certain section of the broader society while effectively betraying the rest while at the same time claiming to be anti-racist,
g - a victim of the so-called Islamophobia that he is talking about because many a times we are verbally abused and told to go back to Iraq by young Irish men.
h - a victim of people like Philip Watt who encourages the Muslims to keep their heads in the sand and hide behind the labels of racism, Islamophobia and anti-immigrationism when there is constructive criticism levelled at them whilst clear and present danger to the larger society is lurking in the shadows.

I am a Muslim cleric and I have many contacts within the wider Muslim community in Ireland. It is an indisputable fact that there are some extremist views within the Muslim community and the only issue for debate should be the extent and level of this extremism. I believe that this fact must be faced, both by my own community and the wider non-Muslim community. I acknowledge that I do not speak for all the Muslims in Ireland, nobody does as it is a very diverse group with adherents from countries such as Afghanistan & Nigeria, Egypt & Indonesia, Iran & South Africa, Libya and Sudan, Malaysia and Pakistan, but I do speak for a sizable amount of Muslims.

Of course Islam is not the only faith group containing extremists, but as a Muslim I am at least trying to take responsibility for tackling the extremism that I know about. I hope that others in the world faiths can tackle extremism within their communities and people like the NCCRI leader also sees the extremism of his own injustice and unfairness when he condemns people that he does not know like his friends are doing. They claimed that they do not know me but they condemned me instead of condemning what I have said. Not in one instance were they able to disprove the claims that I have made. So in the absence of that ability they had to launch an attack on my person and get the help of their allies like Philip Watt to endorse it.

As a refugee in Ireland I am very grateful to the Irish people for embracing me in my hour of need. I know many, many Muslim refugees who feel the same. We believe that we have a tremendous amount to contribute to an Irish society which has helped us so much. Islam places great emphasis on family, community and personal morality – these qualities enhance any community whatever its creed or culture. And we hope that the promotion of these qualities can be part of our contribution to Ireland.

But above all we wish to prevent perverted and distorted notions of Islam from becoming a threat to the Muslim community in Ireland and the wider non-Muslim community.

I believe that facing up to a problem is the first step in dealing with that problem. There is a problem, and the problem is proliferating extremist beliefs, not only in Islam, but also in other faiths. I believe this problem must be tackled and it must be tackled now.

The vast majority of Muslims are decent, caring individuals, who simply want to practice their faith and live in peace with their neighbours. Although the extremist element can be a tiny fraction of that community, that fraction, if unchallenged, could pose a threat to societal cohesion.

The history of Ireland shows how even small numbers of extremists can hijack a community for their own ends.

Let me remind the head of the NCCRI that in no way did the Islamophobia increase after I have made the statements to a Muslim audience in my Friday sermon and to the newspaper because I, as a responsible Muslim leader has to address the current events in the community. If the other Muslim leaders prefer to stick their heads into the sand, then that would be their democratic right to do so, but I cannot do that at all. Islamophobia was prevalent before that and in most cases brought about sometimes by the behaviour of certain elements in the Muslim community and further exacerbated and perpetuated by irresponsible statements from people like the head of the NCCRI.
I personally am of the opinion that the NCCRI must re-think their position and role especially if they envisage themselves to be relied upon to influence government policy. They need to be truthful because I in my personal capacity will never trust their opinion especially in view of the experience I had with them. Trust is a very very important ingredient to the harmony and welfare of the society.
If the NCCRI cannot substantiate their claims of the massive increase in Islamophobia in Ireland after the statements that I have made then I think that they should come out clear and apologise not to me as such, but to the broader Irish community that they claim to protect and at the same time by innuendo imply that they are Islamophobic.
I can of course substantiate my claims that extremism and radicalism is spreading amongst the Muslim youth in Ireland and I would challenge the Muslim leaders and the NCCRI to debate this in a public forum and corroborate their claims instead of the cowardice that is being displayed by them.
If there is an elephant in the dining room then why is everybody refuting it? Should I not mention that the emperor has new clothes in future because I must be afraid that the NCCRI and their Arab friends will attack me?
I urge the NCCRI to re-think their public statements in future and do some introspection. Perhaps they will become more trusted if they do not echo the sentiments of some deceiving wealthy people in the Muslim community. Does the NCCRI mean that I must not speak up any longer? If they imply that then I will appreciate it if they could write to me and make their stand clear.
Do they want to shut me up because our organization represents the disenfranchised and marginalised Muslims of this country and not the wealthy with their fancy offices and ivory towers? If they think so then they must say so please.
Does it also mean that because our organization is maybe bigger but poorer than the rest that what I have said has increased Islamophobia? Or is it the historical relationship that they have with the Clonskeagh mosque again? I think that it is arrogant of the Clonskeagh mosque to claim that they represent the twenty six thousand Muslims in Ireland and like wise I think that it is arrogant of NCCRI leader to accept that lie and condemn the other Muslims.
Protecting buddies has never worked and normally blows up in your face at the end.
I would also like to remind the NCCRI that I know what oppression and racism is because I grew up with it in South Africa, but I am also capable of drawing a line between racism, oppression and extremism, radicalism and fundamentalism.
I have chosen not to protect only the Muslim community as they claim I should have. In taking this stance I am looking out for the Muslim community and the broader Irish community because everyone has the right to be protected from extremist fundamentalist terorists.
I appeal to the NCCRI and the Arab leaders who are in denial of the rapid spread of radicalism to identify the problem and make an effort to minimise or curtail it and not to exacerbate it by attacking those who wish to address it and find a solution for it.
The NCCRI can contact me on 0879932581 if they have anything further to say to me. I remain yours sincerely.