American pressure against Islamic Jurisprudence

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Secularists accuse that Mullahs are in the habit of blaming the US and that every enlightened reform in the Islamic laws of Hudood or Blasphemy etc. is said to be due to American pressure on the Pakistan government. Instead of accusing Mullahs, it is better for them to read the official American Congressional testimony for several years.

A 1998 report is exclusively devoted to Pakistan blaming it since its birth in 1947 until 1998 for religious discrimination, when a loyal government like that of today’s Musharraf government was not in power. But the latest report of 2005 is very appreciative of Pakistan, as the present government is dancing to American tunes. It is especially devastating against the Zia-ul-Haq regime, as he had initiated Hudood Ordinances since 1979 and had established Shar’iah courts—all undesirable actions from the American point of view. It is available under the caption, “International Victims of Religious Persecution: Ludivca Bukhsh,” Dated: June 16, 1998 – Congressional Testimony. [1]

We rarely get any opportunity to know any details about as to whether the American government is really applying any pressure at all on other governments in the name of religious freedom to change their religious activities to American standards of religious freedom or not. If the answer is yes to this question, then how and under what justification?

If we could get an opportunity to find and read such a congressional testimony, we will get answers to all the above questions. Latest such testimony is available under the caption, “Statement of the Honorable John Hanford Ambassador At Large, International Religious Freedom U.S. Department of State Committee on House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations,”[2] Dated: November 15, 2005. The second document is available under the caption, “Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State holds State Department News Briefing on the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom,” Dated: November 8, 2005. [3] It is a news briefing but this document is also under the same restriction as the other one.

Speaking before the newsmen, Condoleezza Rice has said that she has transmitted to Congress the seventh annual Report on International Religious Freedom. American justification for applying pressure on other countries in the name of religious freedom will become clear from her statement: “Religious freedom is a constitutional right for Americans. It is also a universal human right enshrined time and again in international law and declarations. Our goal is to promote the fundamental right of religious freedom as a part of what President Bush calls "our agenda for a freer world where people can live and worship and raise their children as they choose." This is the philosophy under which America has become a self-styled inheritor of a Universal Charter to reform mankind and use its superior power and strength to coerce all countries of the world to conform to the standards and concepts of religious freedom as laid down by her.

Bernard Lewis, an American professor and author of several books on Islam for the last 60 years, had written a popular essay in 1990, published in Atlantic Monthly, under the caption, “The Roots of Muslim Rage.”[4] Much before the 9/11 events, he wrote in 1990, “For some, America represented freedom and justice and opportunity. For many more, it represented wealth and power and success… Suddenly, or so it seemed, America had become the archenemy, the incarnation of evil, the diabolic opponent of all that is good, and specially, for Muslims, of Islam, Why?….” He discusses several factors and one of them is imperialism. But, here again, he questions, “If the (Muslim) hostility is directed against imperialism in that sense, why has it been so much stronger against Western Europe, which has relinquished all its Muslim possessions and dependencies, than against Russia, which still rules (in 1990), with no light hand, over many millions of reluctant Muslim subjects and over ancient Muslim cities and countries? And why should it include the United States, which, apart from a brief interlude in the Muslim-minority area of the Philippines, has never ruled any Muslim population.? The last surviving European empire with Muslim subjects, that of the Soviet Union, far from being the target of criticism and attack, has been almost exempt? Here lies the answer. Like the US, Soviet Union has never tried to impose its concept of religious freedom or any other ideas of its own over the independent Muslim countries and their citizens. Religion is a matter affecting the daily lives of the believers. Trying to dictate the individual that he should lead his personal and private life according to the dictates of America will create such a strong fire of hatred that no amount of American financial can extinguish it. This is the answer to the question which arose in every American mind after 9/11, “Why they hate us?” Islam, Quran and Sunnah are ingrained on the heart and mind of every Muslim so deeply that no amount of any reform could eradicate the concepts and beliefs each individual holds and has inherited from his forefathers, while this process is spread back to several centuries.

What are the methods the United States adopts to impose its own ideas of religious freedom on the entire human race on the globe? Firstly, it has appointed a special ambassador for this purpose. He is John Hanford and is designated as Ambassador At Large. This one man is responsible to organize and oversee all activities to get detailed information from all countries of the world. Then he has to prepare an annual report to present to the Congress. It is his duty to apply pressure first. If he feels necessary, he can pass on this job to higher authorities. If any government agrees to all American demands in this respect, an agreement is signed between the US and that particular government.

All these facts will be clear by going further into the statements of Condoleezza Rice on this occasion. She says, “Preparation of this report, which will be available on the State Department’s Web site is an intensive year-long effort led by Ambassador John Hanford and involving a wide cross-section of our department, including our Office of International Religious Freedom, our regional bureaus, and our many embassies abroad. Production of the report is greatly assisted by the dedication and close collaboration of nongovernmental organizations and individuals around the world who are committed to documenting the status of religious freedom, often at risk to their own lives and their liberty. The 2005 report covers 197 countries and territories. In some countries we find that governments have modified laws and policies, improved enforcement, or taken other concrete steps to increase and demonstrate respect for religious freedom. In far too many countries, however, governments still fail to safeguard religious freedom. Across the globe, people are still persecuted or killed for practicing their religion, or even for just being believers.”

“This year, we have redesignated eight countries of particular concern: Burma, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Vietnam. These are countries where governments have engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom over the past year. We are committed to seeking improvements in each of these countries, improvements like those we’ve actually seen in Vietnam, which have been further advanced by agreement on religious freedom that our governments signed just this last May (2005).”

In the above list, the name of Pakistan is not mentioned. It has not been made clear whether an agreement has been made with the government of Pakistan as the American government has made one with Vietnam on religious freedom. Non-inclusion of Pakistan in the above list means that the American government is satisfied with the progress or the promises made to it by the Pakistan government. Otherwise, like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan would also have been included in the list of boys with bad behavior in the eyes of American government. It is a certificate from the American government that Pakistan is behaving as a good boy, fulfilling all the wishes and demands concerning religious freedom, as defined by America.

Unlike Pakistan, US government is not happy with Saudi Arabia. It is also a country trying to implement Islamic laws. This is not desirable for America. Therefore, it has resolved to pressure her to conform to American standards of religious freedom. The same report says, “In Saudi Arabia, freedom of religion does not exist and the government rigidly enforces conformity to the state-sanctioned Wahhabi tradition of Sunni Islam. Non-Wahhabi Sunni, Shi`a, and Sufi Muslims face discrimination and sometimes severe restrictions on the practice of their faith. Members of the Shi`a minority are subject to officially sanctioned political and economic discrimination, including limited employment opportunities, little representation in official institutions, and restrictions on the building of mosques and community centers. The Government prohibits public non-Muslim religious activities. Some non- Wahhabi Muslim and non-Muslim worshippers risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation and, in rare cases, torture for engaging in religious activity that attracts official attention. In September, Secretary Rice approved a temporary 180-day waiver to further the purposes of the International Religious Freedom Act, as provided for under that legislation. Senior Saudi officials have recognized the need to improve the climate of religious tolerance, and this waiver will give us time to work with the government to address our concerns. The Secretary has raised our religious freedom concerns with senior Saudi officials and has stressed the importance of continuing to work on this issue. In coming months we will press for the implementation of necessary reforms and improvements, such as improving religious freedom for non-Muslims, Muslim minorities and Muslims whose practice differs from the state-sanctioned Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.” How America applies pressure on other countries is clearly mentioned in the report in the form of following words: “In coming months we will press for the implementation of necessary reforms and improvements.” Being a super power, America has given to itself a self-styled right to press any government to implement the reforms and improvements, as defined and ordered by America. It is against the Shias of Iran and of Lebanon and Syria, but it is friend of Shia minority in Saudi Arabia to make it difficult for the Saudis to implement their Wahabi Islam. Saudis will be ultimately forced and coerced to make all American-desired reforms as Pakistan is already following their orders to reform Hudood laws.

Similarly Sudan is also a country in bad books of America. Its biggest crime was that it was also on the road of Islamization, which America does not like. Therefore, the same report falsely accuses it: “In Sudan, Islamization has been the objective of the governing party and it continued to attempt to impose “Shari`a“ on non-Muslims in some parts of the country. The government continued to place restrictions on and discriminate against non- Muslims, non-Arab Muslims, and Muslims from tribes and groups not affiliated with the ruling party. Applications to build mosques generally were granted; however, the process for applications to build churches has been more difficult, so much so that it appears that the last permit was issued around 1975. Many non-Muslims state they have been treated as second-class citizens and discriminated against in government jobs and contracts. Some Muslims received preferential treatment for government services, such as access to medical care, and preferential treatment in court cases involving Muslims against non-Muslims. We will be watching the actions of the new Government of National Unity to ensure that it fully implements the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the new constitution, both of which provide specific guarantees for religious freedom for all citizens. We will pay special attention to the provisions in the constitution that state Shari`a is only to be a source of legislation in Northern Sudan, and that non-Muslims in the national capitol of Khartoum will be exempt.

Compared to Saudi Arabia and Sudan, the progress for implementing American agenda in Pakistan was not so bad in America’s eyes. The report says, “In Pakistan, serious violations of religious freedom persist, and we are working for reform. The government has maintained its public call for religious tolerance and has taken some positive steps, including revising the implementation of the blasphemy laws and Hudood Ordinances that have led to past abuses. The government has also made efforts to curb sectarian violence and end the teaching of religious intolerance through reform of the public education curriculum. We welcome Pakistan’s consistent call for an end to religious extremism. We will continue to press the government on the need for further improvements on religious freedom.” There is a clear confession of continuing to apply pressure on Pakistan in the words of the report, ‘we will continue to press the government.” Despite some mild complaints for slow progress in the implementation of American agenda, a feeling of appreciation and satisfaction is indicated in the words, ‘We welcome Pakistan….’

This was a report presented to American Congress one year ago on 15th November 2005. During this one year, Musharraf government has proved that the satisfaction expressed by America in it was not misplaced, as it has ‘reformed’ Hudood Ordinance’ as per American desire exactly one year after the report on the same date of 15th November in 2006.

Notes:

[1]. "International Victims of Religious Persecution: Ludivca Bukhsh"
Congressional Testimony | Date: June 16, 1998 | Federal Document Clearing House
http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-28974409.html
(Subscription Required)

[2]. "Statement of the Honorable John Hanford Ambassador At Large, International Religious Freedom U.S. Department of State Committee on House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations"
Date: November 15, 2005 | Federal Document Clearing House
http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1CS1-113504.html
(Subscription Required)

[3]. "Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State holds State Department News Briefing on the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom"
Date: November 8, 2005 | Washington Transcript Service
http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-115035940.html
(Subscription Required)

[4]. "The Roots of Muslim Rage"
by Bernard Lewis
September 1990 issue – The Atlantic Monthly
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/199009/muslim-rage

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