Friday, November 23, 2012

Ali Asqar: For the World's Children

The greatest tragedy that occurs during war is the targeting  and victimization of  children. According to UNICEF  reports hundreds of thousands of children have been killed during war during the past decades, many more have been disabled, orphaned and psychologically traumatized . Millions have lost their homes.
I can never forget a tragic photo of children killed during an aerial  attack by the Saddam regime on a school in Dezful,  in southern Iran, dating back to 1983.  Only in the past decade, thousands of children have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and in parts of Africa, during armed conflict and war. Many children were killed in the recent attack on Gaza when their homes were demolished by Israeli missiles.
During the mourning ceremonies of Muharram, accounts of the tragedy in Karbala (which occurred in the year 60 of the Hejira) are recited. One of the most shocking scenes, is the martyrdom of Ali Asqar, the youngest among the family of Imam Hussein.
Imam Hussein the grandson of the Prophet, comes under pressure by the ruling Ommayid establishment to pledge allegiance to Yazid, the brutal Khalifa. Yet he has come to invite the people of Kufa to return to the authentic teachings of Islam. As Imam Hussein endeavors to avoid the battle, he asks the enemy to let them go back to Medina. But Ibn Sad, the commander of Yazid forces has orders to force Imam to submit or to face the battle. Imam Hussein cannot surrender,  he has risen in face of oppression and tyranny. Hussein has a mission to save the face of Islam and to revive the tradition of the Prophet (SA). Along with his family and companions, he camps in Neinava, a region in present day Iraq. The enemy forces bring the camp under siege preventing them from accessing water. In the dry deserts of Karbala, the women and children are exhausted by the heat and by thirst. Mothers have no milk to feed their infants. Thirst has overwhelmed the caravan and the youngest among them Ali Asghar is restless. Imam Hussein brings the child forward and asks the enemy for water to quench the thirst of the 6 month baby. Yet before he finishes speaking, an arrow from the enemy has slit the little throat of Ali...
Ali Asghar is the child martyr of Karbala. His tragic martyrdom signifies the sufferings that the family of the Prophet face to protect the Religion and also the brutality of the selfish and ignorant followers of Yazid who call themselves Muslims, but have relinquished their humanity in the face of  worldly temptations of the ruling power.
Every year on the eighth of Muharram, ceremonies are held in Iran and other Muslim countries to commemorate the martyrdom of Ali Asghar. Mothers attend with their infants and they pray for the health and prosperity of their child. They dress the children in green Arabic outfits .

Ali Asghar is a legend for humanity . When children are still killed in war and armed conflict, when residential areas are attacked and demolished during war, we need to remind humanity that the struggle for justice, for righteousness and peace must continue...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

For Gaza

More than 120 civilians including mostly children and women are now dead after more than a week of rocket exchanges between Gaza and Israel. Israel has occupied Palestinian land since 1948 and is now annexing whatever it can by building new settlements in disputed territories. For several years Israel pursued a policy of targeting Palestinian leaders by unmanned drones or rockets. The residents of Gaza decided to defend themselves and retaliate by also sending rockets into Israel. Even though Israel has claimed that their Iron Dome anti missile system is effective, dozens of Palestinian rockets have penetrated Israeli airspace during the past week. The aggressors are now more than ever under fire for their inhuman and brutal attack on civilian populations in the defenseless Gazan population. A glance at not only Muslim media but European and American newspapers indicates that public opinion is heavily against Israel aggression. A family of 9 members including several children were killed only yesterday. This has mobilized both Arab and Islamic countries to take a strong and unprecedented position against Israel.
For the UN and related bodies it must be said that the most initial and essential mission of this body is to "safeguard peace on earth"  not to play as an intermediary   between powerful governments and politicians. People still look forward to see this role for Gaza in the UN bodies.
Now, that President Obama is securely reelected to the White House he must remember that he is complicit in the crimes of the Zionist regime. He must remember that he vowed to change the negative and militaristic foreign policy image of the Bush era and that he vowed to cherish human life and dignity in the world.
For the Muslim world, it is upon them to defend themselves their homes and their families. Remember that as the Holy Quran states "Believers are brothers.."( Sura Hujjarat,10) and as humans they are common in their creation.."We created you man and woman..(Sura Hujjarat 13) .

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Supreme Sacrifice of Hussein

Although the month of Muharram is the beginning of the new year for many Muslims, for many Shia believers it designates the commencement of mourning ceremonies. The tenth of this month, Ashura coincides with the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet. Sixty one years after the Hejira, during the tyrannical rule of Yazid the Ommayid Dynasty ruler, who was infamous for his excesses, injustices and oppressive rule, Hussein refrained from pledging allegiance to the Khalifat. Viewing his dignified position and resistance, the people of Kufa (present day Iraq) invited Imam to join them to form a resistance front against the Ommayids. However, after murdering the emissaries of  Hussein, once he started off towards Kufa, Yazid sent his army to force Imam to surrender or to die in an unequal battle. Imam resisted, believing in the necessity to fight corruption and the deviant ways of the ruling system, which were in contradiction with Islamic teachings and had permeated the society. He invited the armies to let him go and not to fight with him. Imam did not wish to engage in battle, he had brought his family and children along, but he also would not accept to surrender to the deceit and lies that Yazid had propagated in the name of Islam. Ultimately he stressed that: "I have come to bring about change and reform in the religion of my Grandfather, but if the Religion will not return to its authentic form  other than with my death; then tell the swords to encompass  me". Along with his few companions Imam Hussein fought until martyrdom. The Ommayids did much to distort the reality and to deny this tragedy.Thousands of sermons were given to prove that Hussein and his companions were foreign infiltrators and rebels who had denied the essentials of Islam. The Khalifat sought to hold on to power by any means, but their reign was shortened by violent events that ensued once the people realized the painful truth.
Ashura is a spiritual and political inspiration for people of all times, it is a message for humanity.  Mahatma Gandhi spoke of Hussein as if they shared the same faith:“My faith is that the progress of Islam does not depend on the use of sword by its believers, but the result of the supreme sacrifice of Hussain (A.S.), the great saint.”
 Imam Hussein stood up for righteousness and truthfulness, thus he belongs to all irrespective of faith, creed , race or nationality. He is the beacon of light and ship of salvation for the distressed generations of today. In a world menaced by  corruption, greed, deceit and war we feel an urge to take refugee in the personality of unworldly role models like Hussein.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Environment Suffers in War

 The Center for Peace and Environment has convened an international seminar every year on the occasion of November 6 the International Day for the Prevention of the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. Members of the diplomatic community and countries which have suffered from war were invited to speak about the devastation that war had caused in their homelands. Also, representatives from the international organizations such as the UNDP , OCHA and the International Red Cross attended the seminar and provided reports on their actions in this regard.  As a Champion of the Earth, I would invite these international figures to attend our ceremony and they had usually responded favorably.  This year, considering the circumstances and continuing restraints on the activities of the civil society, the Center decided to issue a statement and postpone the session to the next year. The full statement is available at . This is the opening phrase:

"Since mankind has always counted its war casualties in terms of dead and wounded soldiers and civilians, as well as destroyed cities and livelihoods, the environment has often remained the unpublicized victim of war.
Yet when the environment   suffers in warfare, it threatens the well-being of vulnerable populations and undermines prospects for lasting peace, thus triggering a vicious cycle of destruction...."