Wednesday, July 11, 2007
  The Red Mosque
The situation in Pakistan with the government storming the Red Mosque and killing or arresting various militants based there raises a ton of issues for me.

On the one hand, I am relieved that the government has finally done something to reign in this group, which was carrying out vigilante style "justice" in the neighboring street and advocating for the overthrow of the government with the implementation of a Taliban style regime in its place. The government's inaction in the face of these people implementing their own laws, and advocating for the Talibanization of Pakistan was very troublesome. Something clearly needed to be done.

On the other, I worry that the manner in which it was done -- storming the mosque, and killing scores of people, will only create fodder for the cannon. The militants will no doubt make great use of the "martydom" of their fighters. And there will no doubt be a group of people who see such military action against a mosque as a validation that these people had it right -- the government does need to be replaced. Either way, it seems like the attack will serve as fertile ground for militant recruiters. In fact, Al Qaeda's second in charge has already issued a call for a holy war against the Pakistani government.

I compare this storming to the infamous Waco debacle here in the US. Clearly there are differences -- the Waco people weren't carrying out their own policing on their neighbors. Nor were they actively stirring up sedition against the government.

But there are also similarities. The outrage caused by the seige of Waco can only be even greater in the case of the Red Mosque as the latter is a historical mosque, a recognized sacred space, which has now been violated. While Koresh and his followers may have seen his compound as sacred space, most Americans did not. Most Pakistanis, however, will relate to the Red Mosque as first and foremost a religious institution.

More importantly, both cases raise the issue if military action is the appropriate response to radicalism and even to seditious propagandizing? Clearly the Red Mosque militants had broken a variety of laws (taking justice in to their own hands, taking hostages/prisoners, killing police officers who were sent to restrain their activities). It would seem that the appropriate response would be to arrest them and throw them in jail.

At what point does military action become justified? Clearly these folks were training themselves as warriors, the Pakistani military is now clearing the area of grenades and mines which speaks of intention to violence not just fiery rhetoric, but I still wonder if it wouldn't have been better to arrest the lot of them.

Of course, that probably would have resulted in a firefight that pretty much resembled the one that actually occurred...

I'm sure that this battle was just the opening salvo in a war that is going to be fought over the character of Pakistan -- will it become a Taliban style state as some elements wish? If the left, if moderates are not willing to fight fire with fire are we then doomed to lose to radicals? Can we win a battle for people's faith, for their beliefs with military action? Seems like it has to go hand in hand -- police action or if necessary military action coupled with an intensive campaign to convince people that militarism and radicalism have no place in Islam.
An excellent post, with which I completely agree. It is a tough issue, but force now might prevent a lot more bloodshed later.
I've always believed that Koresh manipulated Waco to fall out the way it did because he wanted to be martyred.

It's a dilemma -- does cracking down on hard liners encourage the cycle of violence, or can one eventually stop it.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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