23 October 2008

de-radicalizing terrorists

indonesia's fight against terrorism includes trying to 'de-radicalize' militants by debating religion with them. their greatest success is nasir abbas, a senior commander of jemaah islamiya, the group responsible for the bali bombings of 2002.

His remorse over the massacre of civilians and the Indonesian police's careful handling of him transformed Abbas. From a terrorist commander he became a terrorist counselor, working with the police to try to convince other captured militants that their interpretation of Islam is wrong.

"I (came to) understand that the Bali bombings were a crime, not a jihad," he says.


"Because terrorism is an ideologically motivated crime, it is not possible to stop it using mere physical operations," said Ansyaad Mbai, the head of the Indonesian government's Counter-Terrorism Coordinating Desk. "Based on our experience, the harder we hit them with military force, the more radical they become."

Mbai is critical of the Bush administration's approach to fighting terrorism. The war in Iraq, in particular, has made the job of handling terrorism in Indonesia harder, he said: "Even the moderate Muslim leaders find it difficult to explain that the war taking place in the Middle East is not a war against Islam."

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, treats terrorism as a crime, not a cause for war.

there are of course disputes about how effective this method has been in combating terrorism, but it seems an interesting alternative, one that could be developed further.

17 October 2008

political will

here's an interesting comparison: writing off third world debt would cost approximately "500 billion dollars or even less. Five hundred billion is a figure that has been tossed around (in recent weeks) to bail out bankers who have behaved irresponsibly and so on. But there is a political will to save this banking system, so resources can be found."

so says the ceo of the World Alliance for Civic Participation (CIVICUS) and one of the founders of the Global Coalition Against Poverty (GCAP), dr kumi naidoo. meanwhile, he notes that not even 20 per cent of the committments pledged by the G8 summit in 2005 to fight poverty and fund development in the south has materialized

there are popular concerns that amidst the present financial crisis, aid and funding for food, climate change and development will be reduced/lose priority, despite the huge numbers of people affected.

16 October 2008


last weekend i hung out with two friends; the three of us hadn't spent such quality time together in a LONG while. we laughed, argued and shared. it was like lip balm for the soul. not surprisingly, towards the end, we began a short walk down memory lane. some of the moments and individuals that flashed up had been pretty deeply buried, and my excitement at 'seeing' them was akin to being back in that time.

many of the memories are of places and individuals no longer part of my life, which is perhaps why i do not think of them much when i'm on my own (it would be too depressing). on that day though, it was not at all depressing. it felt good just to remember: the events and how they made me feel, as well as to acknowledge the pleasure (and thankfulness) of having those memories, of having had those moments.
it was one of those rare occasions when it didn't matter that friends were no longer around, that places had changed, that people had moved on; when it was enough just to have been.

rereading this post will be my solace on all those days when it is not enough!

05 October 2008

awesome eid

eid was awesome this year. on many levels, in many moments. ilhumdolillah.

i am one of those persons who usually does not enjoy eid-il-fitr. i find it an anti-climax to the month long ibadat and camaraderie. sure, i'm happy that it's eid, that i can use lip balm and listen to music again, but i'm also sad that it's all over and that i have few friends to truly celebrate with (the bane of a small jamaat i believe). the two feelings are constantly in conflict, leaving me largely irritated and out of sorts.

so what made this year different? the shabab treasure hunt. it wasn't actually a treasure hunt as such--we were given a clue/riddle to solve, which would tell us whose house we were to go and wish eid mubarak. there, we would be given the clue to the next house. my team consisted of people (adults and kids) whom i had had little contact with previously, apart from the general social niceties. to my pleasant surprise, i enjoyed their company tremendously, and discovered interesting tidbits about their lives. the same can be said for a couple of houses i went to--most were families i'd not visited before, with whose menfolk i'd never exchanged conversation beyond 'hello'. to interact with them in an intimate setting was very nice.

and to top this off, there was a lunch afterwards (where more people showed up than at eid namaz-typical!). not only was it nice to mingle at the restaurant and listen to the very amusing list of lucky draw gifts, but it was a novelty to be at the semi centre of attention for having participated in this novel treasure hunt :)

all in all, it was one of my most social eids. and financially beneficial too, with all the eidy and lucky draw cash prize!

03 October 2008

will girls like her?

three reasons why sarah palin fails the 'will other girls like her' test:

1. she's too pretty
"pretty girls tend to be liked only by other pretty girls"

2. she's too confident
"too timid and you're a pushover. too self aggrandizing and you're a bad word.."

3. she could (has already done so in fact) embarrass them

hmm, i'm not sure whether to laugh or scowl..

what did make me laugh however, was a comment by writer kathleen parker, that "if b.s. were a currency, palin could bail out wall street herself".