We would not apologise for Faisal Shahzad’s actions — for we have stood against his ilk throughout our adult life, while Lieberman’s kind has financed, armed and trained the antecedents of such bigots
Senator Joseph Lieberman’s call to violate section 349 (a) (7), of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, smacks of a desire to go back to the days of the Executive Order number 9066.
The said order was used by Franklin Roosevelt during the Second World War for internment of the Americans of “Foreign Enemy Ancestry” (AFEAs), predominantly the ethnic Japanese, as many as 122,000 of whom were then held in various government-run camps. Following in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, FDR had also suspended the habeas corpus writ.
Title 8, Chapter 12, Sub-chapter III, Part III, Section 1481 of the US Code deals with the potential loss of US nationality by a native-born or naturalised citizen, the voluntary actions leading to such loss and the burden of proof to sustain the charges and the presumptions therein.
Simply put, Section 349(a)(7) states that a person can be stripped of his or her US citizenship for committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the US, or conspiring to conduct any of these actions.
However, there is a glitch here — a constitutional one — that does not suit the expedient agenda of the hate-mongers like Lieberman. The law states that the offender can only be stripped of citizenship “if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction”.
And why do Senators Lieberman and McCain despise this hurdle? The answer lies in Section 349 (b), which states: “Whenever the loss of United States nationality is put in issue in any action or proceeding commenced on or after September 26, 1961 under, or by virtue of, the provisions of this chapter or any other Act, the burden shall be upon the person or party claiming that such loss occurred, to establish such claim by a preponderance of the evidence.”
Lieberman’s Bill is completely in sync with the neo-con methodology of prosecuting the war against terror, specifically in the Pak-Afghan theatre, in the ‘wham, bam, thank you ma’am’ manner. They wanted to do it cheaply and got thugs like Ismail Khan and Rashid Dostum to do the donkeywork so the neo-cons could divert the resources to attacking a sovereign Iraq. On the Pakistani side, the action was outsourced to a military dictator and his army.
The lazy and incompetent US planners in the Bush era –the motley bunch around Holbrooke not being far behind — never wanted to confront the complete monopoly of Saudi Wahabiism over the mosque-centres in the US. The previous US administrations had turned a blind eye to this Wahabist coup because of their unholy alliance with the Wahabi world against the Soviets.
Whereas no accurate data is available on the ethno-national background of American Muslims, the majority is of Indo-Pakistani-Bangladeshi descent. No concerted effort — by these communities or the US planners — has ever been made to free them from the chokehold of the minority Arab-Wahabi lobby.
While pretending to be non-denominational, most Muslim groups in the US including — but not limited to — the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Students Association (MSA), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and so on, serve as a front for the Wahabi-Salafi ideology of hate. Their alleged financing by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states has been a subject of much writing but no official probe.
They systematically exclude people subscribing to the moderate Sufi, Shiite, openly Hanafi/Barelvi or other variants of Islam from holding key positions within these outfits. So strong is the Wahabi control that in most mosques run by these groups, the customary Friday prayer sermon is delivered only by Arabs. By one account, ISNA alone controls about 2,000 mosques in the US. This is a whole lot of intolerant pulpits at the disposal of Wahabiist ideology to indoctrinate the vulnerable South Asian Muslim-Americans.
A vicious web of bigotry and intolerance has been allowed to flourish and prosper in the US because the American decision-makers did not want to alienate their Saudi friends, who are the actual lords and masters of Wahabiism Inc. While this multitude of Islamic groups serve as the eyes, ears and sword-arm of Wahabiism Inc in the US, the nerve-centre and training grounds remain in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan respectively.
After any terrorist attack, like the recent one in Times Square, the websites of these outfits are swiftly populated with boiler-plate statements condemning the dastardly act and pledging solidarity with the “adopted homeland”. But in private and many public conversations, their (largely Arab) leadership cannot hide their designated apologist status for Wahabiist terrorism.
For three decades, the Liebermans and McCains of the world have collaborated with Wahabiist maniacs like Faisal Shahzad across the continents, while the majority of Pakistanis and Pakistani-Americans stood up against two military dictatorships and a whole slue of Islamic fundamentalist groups.
Along with the hundreds of thousands of progressive Pakistanis, I hold my head high for confronting Islamism from the very beginning. We would not apologise for Faisal Shahzad’s actions — for we have stood against his ilk throughout our adult life, while Lieberman’s kind has financed, armed and trained the antecedents of such bigots. I would not be labelled an AFEA.
It is important to not let Joe Lieberman or Faisal Shahzad define who the Pakistani-Americans are. Yes, we denounce the past, present or future acts of terror but more than that, we demand and want to be part of a process that takes a proactive approach to this problem.
Senator Lieberman and his coterie must realise that even to create a cultural détente, let alone a rapprochement between the US and the Muslim world, we need to wrestle back the control of the mosque-centres from the Wahabi-Salafi enterprise headquartered in Riyadh. This nerve-centre of fear should not be protected any longer.
The secular and progressive American-Pakistani individuals and organisations are up to the challenge and might indeed be the only viable vehicle to change the face of American Islam.
Attempts at a witch-hunt against common Pakistani-Americans through convoluted legislation, suspension of civil liberties and blatant violations of due process, however, would only go to show the other face of fear.
Dr Mohammad Taqi teaches and practices medicine at the University of Florida and contributes to the think-tanks www.politact.com and Aryana Institute. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Daily Times, 11 May 2010