Reality Check: Left is the new right

Published: July 1, 2010
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The term left refers to the liberal and right is used for religious fundamentalists

It all started after 9/11 and Bush’s  historic declaration that “Either you are with us or or against  us” – as in with terrorists – without defining who a terrorist was.

There was a wide implication that started taking shape in the Muslim world, especially Pakistanis. As is often the case, the elite started following Musharraf’s slogan of enlightened moderation, which trickled down to the masses and the middle class creating a new left of self proclaimed liberal Muslims.

Initially this was good. People were thinking and asking questions. But then began the self-bashing.  It seemed Islamic morals were not fit for the modern age and to be ridiculed and laughed at. Everything from Pakistan was wrong. Critical appraisal were not important anymore.

Almost nine long years later and the effects still haven’t receded. When a controversial piece is written a disclaimer appears stating it was based on the interviews and hence perceptions of  ‘hostile’ Afghan officials and Nato commanders. Not surprisingly the piece will be picked up by the international media to prove Pakistan guil – to suggest the Pakistan Army and intelligence are somehow behind scenes of mayhem in the country. This is like telling Indians that their establishment carried out the Mumbai attacks. Just imagine what the response would be then. Still, interestingly, the perspective has found vocal support amongst some segments of  self-depreciating Pakistanis.

Let me share one particular incident from just last year. In London there was a news story in the media that a Muslim man raped a Christian girl and then killed her. It resulted in extreme Islam and Pakistan bashing for almost a week untill the police declared that the guy was actually a mentally disturbed person of Christian faith. Guess what? Let alone an apology not even a single media outlet bothered to run a clarification.

Another interesting incident took place in East London in the so called “Muslim ghetto.” A Masjid was being planned in the area, in line with all the applicable laws and regulations. It wasn’t of any particular sect or involved with any political party and the project had been in the pipeline for several months. Funding was to be by the “Tabligi Jamat” (Preachers’ Group).

Come time to gain the final planning permission and suddenly there was a huge outcry. Initially it was started by  white-supremists but later on guess who joined in ? None other than the infamous self-bashing “liberal” Muslims specially those of Pakistani descent. They not only started leading the campaign but some signed petitions that they have ‘serious concerns that this Masjid would result in their children being radicalized.

The fate was of the masjid was sealed. The project was to be shelved, at least for the time being.

This was what a prominent Pakistani British, ex-councillor had to tell me:

“Ok, so a masjid will radicalize your children.”

“Yes.”

“ How?”

“ I don’t know but I don’t want our perception to be “badly affected” by having a masjid in our area.”

“ Well, your son was arrested  just last week for a drunken brawl after an all night party, doesn’t that give you a bad image?”

“I don’t need to give explanations to people. It wasn’t his fault.”

What? Give me a break. So the actual issue is that you are concerned people will hate you for being a practicing Muslim but being an anti-social element doesn’t even create an issue for you.

Let’s now move to North London, home to the biggest Jewish community in the UK. Shamon (not his real name) is walking in the garden, wearing the traditional skull-cap, a beard and the long black Jewish dress with his little daughter. He works in a leading bank. This is our conversation:

“Don’t you have issues at work due to your appearance?”

“ No, why should I? I’m competent at what I do.”

” Ok. but don’t you worry what others will think of you? You look so .. err… traditional.”

“ (Laughs) You mean fundamentalist. Well, this is my faith and no one has the right to judge me. Do I laugh at them? Than why should they have a problem with my way of life.”

“ But what about your daughter? You wouldn’t want her to be influenced by extreme ideas? “

“As I said, this is my faith. And my daughter would be better in the hands of God than the hands of people.”

This is their assurance and confidence, despite the worst persecution of the Jewish faith for centuries, for whatever reasons. I wonder if a Muslim specially a Pakistani Muslim would have the same confidence and faith to stand tall amid criticism.

One should try to clarify misconceptions rather than give in. We owe it to our forefathers, our future generations and ourselves. It is something the new “left” should learn from the Jewish community. Left has been the term to refer to the liberals and right for the “religious fundamentalists”. However with the new times the left is effectively becoming the new right, void of confidence and logic, self-pitying and trying to appease others in the fear of being declared an outcast. I remember being told once that fear kills the abilities of a person by taking away the faith and confidence.  I can say confidently that I’ve seen plenty of examples.

omer.zaheer

Omer Zaheer Meer

A UK based chartered accountant and financial analyst, Omer is a social activist and an avid blogger

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sikander

    Great Omer. You have outlined this issue beautifully. Being at the center of storm we Pakistanis are really battling it out. Lets hope there are more people like you who can sense some perspective into those too bogged down to see things rationally.Recommend

  • Mahreen Ahmed

    Very interesting. I understand the issue is the self bashing and over focus of Pakistanis to prove their guilt. This is in our DNA maybe or maybe due to the long slavery of british.Recommend

  • Ravinder Singh

    Congrats Omer. First time I have seen such a piece by a Pakistani. It is true Pakis are the worst appologetics and lowest on confidence. If it is because of the British rule than why we the Indians are differentRecommend

  • Saad Bhatti

    It is a sad reality.Recommend

  • Atif

    Really awesome. What a way to tackle a very tricky subject. Way to go Mr. Meer.Recommend

  • Atif

    @ Ravinder Keep off our issues. You Indians love to poke your nose in Pak’s affairs and when reciprocated start crying.

    And the prob is coz we have corrupt leaders imposed on us and your leaders atleast are not imposed and more patriotic. Good for u.Recommend

  • Sabiha Fazal

    Wonderful blog. It really exposes the self blaming by Muslims specially Pakistanis. And it also shows what should be done about it. All in all a great writing. Thanks for bringing these points to light.Recommend

  • Abigail Richard

    Omer it is simply great. I’d repeat what I said on your blogpost:

    An interesting and different point of view. Whether I agree or not but you are certainly gifted with the art of writing.

    (Just so you know Richard is with you on this so got a new fan)Recommend

  • John Mathews

    Surprisingly highly quality and mature for a blog. It should be in the opinion section. Very well written and made a point.

    However there are also certain reforms Pakistanis should undertake to get rid of terrorism.Recommend

  • insafian

    great work insafian………..keep it upRecommend

  • Masood

    John we Pakistanis have very high quality people and blogs infact everything except for perception :)Recommend

  • Asad

    Objective and very interesting blog. Hope to see more from you.Recommend

  • dilpakistani

    soooooooo true. now we have religious fanatics and liberal fascists forcing people to pick sides. and we have sensible people labelled extremist when they try to sense in some perspectiveRecommend

  • Atif

    Pakistanis and muslims should unite and be confident. it is high we let go of the sorry attitude dilpakistani i agree with youRecommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    Thanks for the appreciation and the compliments. I’m glad you all liked it. Please feel free to spread the message.Recommend

  • Aroma Sindhi

    Motivational blog.. so interesting
    good work keep it up.. :)Recommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    @ Mahreen, Atif & Ravinder

    The issue is a complex one and has many facets to it one of which is the mental slavery still prevalent not only in Pakistan but also in India. However lack of education, low focus of culture and history, low self-confidence, the global anti-Islamic enviornment, etc are all factors that contribute to this problem.Recommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    @ Abi, Nice to see you here. Thanks for the compliments and say Hi to Rich from me. I’m sure he will convince you tooRecommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    Sabiha, John, Insafian, Asad, Masood & DilPakistani

    Valid comments. Once again thanks for the compliments. This is an issue close to my heart and one where the objective view is getting rare.

    @ John That is a very nice and unique appreciation. I’m humbled. As for the reforms yes they are needed but where and what might be an area of debate.Recommend

  • Zafar

    We see this self bashing attitude in everyday lives. I hope one day our people can get rid of it. Very articulate. Hats off to the author.Recommend

  • Trisha

    Just reading this blog before going for breakfast. Just one word WoW Think my day would go good now :)Recommend

  • SoNiA

    I got tears in my eyes as I’m writing this. So true. Thanks for the blog.Recommend

  • SoNiA

    Not only is the prob mentioned but solution also suggested. The way of writing is engaging and unique 2. Keep up the gud work.Recommend

  • Abdul Rehman Al Qasim

    SubhanALLAH ya Habib. Beautiful writingsRecommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    @ Atif …….. Agreed. Unity is the path to redemption.
    @ Aroma ……… Thanks. Please spread the message.Recommend

  • Hemant

    Omer Sir how are you. I lost your email. Can you please give me.

    this is a very nice blog and very engaging too.Recommend

  • Rahul Patel

    Pakis themselves agree that they are terrorist and are not worth it. Just recently a Millat Face Book was launched and was said to be a big hit but I saw lot of Pakis criticising that too. It is simple Pakistanis are not a nation but groups of ethnic people.

    Please answerRecommend

  • Rahul Patel

    in addition to my question I got to admit yes this is a good blogRecommend

  • PakZinDaBaD

    Pakistan Zindabad Well Done good blog We cannot be defeated till we have people like this author and so many pakistani who luv PakistanRecommend

  • PakZinDaBaD

    one suggestion is that it should be made compulsory to study quran with translation so atleast we would understand our religion as of now we are mostly muslims by name of some basic ritualsRecommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    @ Zafar, Trisha and Sonia Thanks for the compliments. I’m glad you all appreciate the issue and have so much concern for this important matter.

    @Hemant Thanks. I will send you an email.Recommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    @ Rahul Patel I’m humbled with your compliment.

    Nobody and no nation in this world is perfect. There is a continuous evolution process. Not all Pakistanis are either so-called “terrorists” nor do all of us self-pity.

    It is just like some Indians say the Indian Government is involved in attacks within the country would that mean all the Indians think so? Certainly no. Applying the opinion of a minority on a majority would only serve to show bias which is not healthy for a discussion.

    I hope this clarifies.Recommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    @ PakZindabad I’m humbled and a very good suggestion. There’s nothing wrong with learning the religion. It only makes us a better and more lerned person and not backward as is the perception created by some quarters.Recommend

  • Hemant

    thank you sirRecommend

  • Atif

    Salam Omer Sb,
    I really liked your interview with the Hindustan Times too. It is just fabulous. I recommend all to read it

    Islam has a branding problem: Millatfacebook CEO
    http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/cutting-the-edge/2010/06/13/islam-has-a-branding-problem-millatfacebook-ceo/comment-page-4/#comment-3051Recommend

  • John Mathews

    Thank you for the response. Can I use your blog to enlighten some of my friends? Hope it would be fine with you.Recommend

  • John Mathews

    I mean can I reproduce it on my website and use in my email messages to them?Recommend

  • tahir

    there was another blast in data darbar lahore 42 dead. what will happen to Pakistan. why shouldnt we be concerned see thisRecommend

  • sundas

    Tahir it is sad but no need to say bad abt Pak. It can happen anywhere in the world. these times are like thisRecommend

  • Irshad Khan

    i like this. In uk we see problem peopl shame pakistani and pakistanis scare than. good way to tell like the part about jews confidenceRecommend

  • Ibad Ul Haq

    The incident of the mosque is a real shame. If muslims are doing like this what can we expect from others.Recommend

  • Umair

    It hurts more when Pakistanis do this to themselves. I see it everyday Paksitani pulling leg of Pakistanis. I wish we can learn to be mature and support each other and not get jealous and self pityingRecommend

  • Atif

    But Umair it is we Pakistanis who take the corrective action too :)Recommend

  • Kamran

    How can muslims reach such low to oppose a masjid just to ensure their image is good in eyes of those who hate muslims. PatheticRecommend

  • michal

    I must say that its a very good piece of writing precise use of words. concise and effectiveRecommend

  • Mushtaq Sheikh

    If the muslims can learn to be as resilient as jews than no one can stop us. See they are just a few lac and so strong and we are 1.5 billion and so weakRecommend

  • Mushtaq Sheikh

    Mr. Omer well done a very well written blogRecommend

  • Mushtaq Sheikh

    Agree Ibad what kind of muslims would be wanting to give image of a masjid in London to be a radical training center shamefulRecommend

  • Nathan

    Good one. But think why do paki people come to this point.Recommend

  • nothingwillchange

    It is a very nice article I hope people can see the sense and get balancedRecommend

  • Yusuf

    Magnificent, profound, and enlightening. Looking forward to more.Recommend

  • Manayal

    A really good piece of writing! hats off to you for bringing in light this important issue! hope it does motivate Pakistanis to keep their heads up, no matter what and to always have faith in themselves and Allah. In other words, be confident and proud of their identity as Muslims, than being influenced by others! Keep up the excellent work!

    May Allah bless us all(Amen).Recommend

  • Nojeba Haider

    Good article. Its true, if we dont defend Islam and show people what its all about who else will. Its up to us to stand up for our religion, to show people its not about suicide bombings or terrorism but about peace, brotherhood and equality.Recommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    @ Atif Thanks. I’m humbled. Please feel free to spread the message.

    @ John Sure. That’s alright. Please feel free to spread the message and source back.

    @ Tahir, Sundas, Irshad, Ibad and Umair

    Good points raised. The fact of the matter is that these sad events are happening throughout the world. Being the frontline state, certainly Pakistan is suffering more but the media perception is much worse than the ground reality.

    Many of our friends won’t be aware that not so long ago IRA used to regularly bomb British cities including London, Manchester, etc but no-one there said that there state is doomed or that there is no hope for the country.

    Nations and countries have to face tough situations at times and the greater ones are not those who are stronger but those with a stronger will.Recommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    @ Atif Thanks. I’m humbled. Please feel free to spread the message.

    @ John Sure. That’s alright. Please feel free to spread the message and source back.

    @ Tahir, Sundas, Irshad, Ibad and Umair

    Good points raised. The fact of the matter is that these sad events are happening throughout the world. Being the frontline state, certainly Pakistan is suffering more but the media perception is much worse than the ground reality.

    Many of our friends won’t be aware that not so long ago IRA used to regularly bomb British cities including London, Manchester, etc but no-one there said that there state is doomed or that there is no hope for the country.

    Nations and countries have to face tough situations at times and the greater ones are not necessarily those which are stronger but those with a stronger will.Recommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    @ Hemant … You are welcome.
    @ Kamran, Michal, Mushtaq and Nothingwillchange
    Thanks. Good and bad people are everywhere. Spread the knowledge and awareness and the light from it would illuminate the darkness from ignorance and hatred. Don’t be disheartened. Spread the message and soon people would start realising the problem with their attitudes.Recommend

  • Omer Zaheer Meer

    @ Nathan … It is Pakistanis my friend. Rascism is not good. Now this is a huge topic why Pakistanis have come to this and entails many aspect both internal and external ranging from low literacy, economic troubles, corrupt ruling elite to foreign wars, external forces fighting for their interests, “rulers” imposed from outside and a sustained propoganda war under the new world order.

    Please visit my blog site for more on this: http://www.omerzaheermeer.wordpress.comRecommend

  • http://www.hazro1.tk zakaria khan

    you are rightRecommend

  • hate politics….

    ThnX foR telln d reality for shown wat really goes back der…………… love DiZ blOg…….Hp To c mOrE Frm u VrY sOon…..Recommend

  • Bakthiar

    First of all many congrats for writing such a great article. I hope to see more from you. Secondly can I have a contact email or number. I might have something that may interest you.Recommend

  • Zair Mahmood

    Wonderful article and I completely agreeRecommend