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Pakistan: The political context of a ‘religious’ assassination

Salmaan Taseer, assassinated governor of Punjab.

By Beena Sarwar

January 8, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a longer version of this article will appear at Viewpoint -- Just over a year ago, Salmaan Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s largest province, the Punjab, was assassinated in the most cowardly manner by a government-assigned security guard in federal capital, Islamabad. The killer, a trained commando of the Punjab Elite Force, Mumtaz Qadri, pumped 27 bullets into the Governor’s back as he headed to his car on the afternoon of January 4, 2011.

This sensational murder rocked the nation and reverberated around the world. It was not a spontaneous enraged act but a well-thought out, cold-blooded plan. One man executed this plan – but was he acting alone and was it an act motivated only by "religious fervour" as has been depicted, or is there more to the issue than meets the eye? And even if the action was purely altruistic, should the law of the land not be applied to punish the guilty?

Pakistan and Afghanistan: Conference of progressive parties' joint declaration

Statement by Afghan and Pakistan progressive and left parties

December 26, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The progressive and democratic forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan met here in Lahore for two days [December 21-22, 2011] in the first ever joint conference. This is a historic step for the progressive forces of both sides to sit together and share the sufferings of our people at the hands of US-led NATO forces as well as the religious extremists in the form of the Taliban. We also vehemently condemn the military establishment and the governments of both countries who use different excuses to justify the occupation by foreign forces as well as [being the] tacit [patrons] of religious extremism.

We resolve to launch a sustained campaign against the forces of imperialism and religious extremism. We plan to organise coordinated days of action and other initiatives at the political as well as the cultural and educational levels. We plan to broaden this movement and include other left and progressive forces who share the common goals of establishing a just peace and of progress in the region. We resolve to also include the progressive movements in India and Iran in order to build up a broad regional alliance to secure a just peace.

On Jesus and social justice

A poster from Cuba depicts Jesus the revolutionary. 

By Phil Shannon

Christmas seems an appropriate time to turn to the question of the relationship between Christianity and social change. Do pacifism and non-violence, and social change through personal change — which are among the values shared by progressive Christians and secular greens — offer a way forward?

Two thousand years ago in Palestine, exploitation by Rome and its quisling Hebrew ruling class meant severe poverty, political repression and an average life expectancy of around 30 years (less if it was found out that you thought the Romans should go home).

Of the contending politico-religious groups, the Sadducees advocated collaboration with Rome. A moderate wing of the Pharisees, who represented the middle class and the lower and middle priests, embodied the strategy of timid liberal dissent — one proverb said of them "when arms clash in the street, retire to your chamber".

A more militant wing of the Pharisees supported direct action against Caesar and Herod. They eventually split to form the Zealots with a rebel force of peasants from Galilee. Intensely nationalist and religious, the Zealots adopted armed struggle and led large popular uprisings.

The Essenes rejected all political strategies in favour of cultivating personal spiritual perfection.

Egypt: Military massacres Copts, stokes religious divisions to defuse revolution


October 12, 2011 -- Real News Network -- Angry protesters call for overthrow of the Egyptian military regime as many are killed by army. More at The Real News.

Statement by Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt): Glory to the martyrs of Bloody Sunday. Shame on the military and the reactionaries

October 10, 2011 -- The Revolutionary Socialists send sincere condolences to the families of the peaceful demonstrators who were murdered by the bullets of the Central Security Forces and crushed by the military’s armoured cars after they came on the night of October 9 to defend the right of Coptic Christians to freedom and equality.

Socialism and religion

Presentation by Kamala Emanuel at the "Socialism and religion" seminar at the Perth Activist Centre, July 2, 2011. Hosted by the Socialist Alliance and Resistance.

Cuba: National Assembly approves economic changes; Raul Castro's speech

"More than once, I have stated that our own worst enemy is not imperialism but our own errors and that these, if they are deeply and honestly analysed, can be transformed into lessons in order not to fall into them again." -- Raúl Castro

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic changes in Cuba, and assessments of the sixth congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, click HERE.]

By President Raúl Castro

Speech given by President Raúl Castro Ruz, president of the Councils of State and Ministers, to the 7th ordinary session of the 7th legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, August 1, 2011. The parliament earlier that day also adopted the amended Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution as state policy.

Compañeras and compañeros:

Review: 'From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy'

By Rupen Savoulian

July 8, 2011 -- Antipodean Athiest, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In the lead-up to the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the pop group the Dixie Chicks played a concert at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire theatre in London. One of the group’s members, Natalie Maines, a native of Texas, made a critical comment about a fellow Texan, George W. Bush who was then president of the United States. She said that “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” A seemingly innocuous comment, you would think?

Egypt: Left debates the Arab Spring, democracy and imperialism

"For social equality" -- May Day 2011 in Cairo.

By Nicola Pratt

June 29, 2011 -- Jadaliyya -- Egyptian, Arab and international socialists and progressive forces met in Cairo June 3-5, to discuss the future of the Arab revolutions in light of imperialism, Zionism and global capitalism. The Forum in Solidarity with the Arab Revolutions was organised by a number of progressive groups in Egypt and represented the first attempt to revive the annual Cairo Conference against Imperialism and Zionism, which was shut down by the Egyptian authorities in 2009.

‘One on One’ with Tariq Ali


June 20, 2011 -- Tariq Ali talks to Riz Khan on Al Jazeera's  One on One program about growing up in Pakistan, his student days at Oxford University, the anti-war movement, the US empire and paths of the international left.

Review: `The Muslim revolt: A journey through political Islam'

By Rupen Savoulian

June 25, 2011 -- http://rupensavoulian.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Since the September 11, 2001, twin tower attacks, there has been renewed interest in the questions of Islam, political Islamism and jihadism. Books have been published by the truckload, seminars bringing together various political scientists and experts have been held, reams of paper analysing the origins and trajectory of political Islam have been published, and the airwaves resonate with talkback from pundits about the impact of Islam and Islamism in the world. How can one make sense of all this? Where does one begin?

Imperialismo, fundamentalismo y revolución árabe: Socialismo o terrorismo

Foto
Soldados de las tropas especiales de la marina estadounidense (Navy Seal). Esta fuerza fue la responsable del asesinato del líder de Al Qaeda.

[Published first in English at http://links.org.au/node/2297.]

Por: Farooq Tariq

John Paul II: patron saint of anti-modernism

Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) with US President Ronald Reagan.

By Barry Healy

June 7, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As part of its attempts to turn back the clock in the Catholic Church the Vatican drew 1.5 million of the devout to Rome on May 1 for the beatification ceremony of Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. John Paul II may become the fastest declared saint in history.

The Vatican is also pushing the canonisation of Pius XII, who was pope during World War II.

While attention has been drawn to John Paul II’s woeful record on the issue of sexual abuse within the church little has been said about the reasons for the rush to beatification and sainthood.

Pakistan: Will Osama bin Laden's assassination end religious fundamentalist attacks?

By Farooq Tariq, Lahore

May 7, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In the first four days after Osama Bin Laden’s assassination by US forces, the mass reaction in Pakistan is very mixed. In Punjab there is a general sympathy towards bin Laden, however not many are expressing it openly. In Sindh, the responses differ in different cities. For example, in Karachi there is more active commiseration for bin Laden and condemnation of the US attack.

Surprisingly, not much happened in Khaiber Pakhtoonkhawa, where bin Laden was killed. Similarly, Baluchistan responded meekly against the killings. However the reaction against the attack on the compound in Abbotabad is growing and it will spread to other areas. Many religious fundamentalists fled Afghanistan and took refuge in Baluchistan and Khaiber Pakhtoonkhawa. They ruled those provinces from 2002 to 2008.

Cuba's Ricardo Alarcón: ‘Trying to reinvent socialism’

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic reforms in Cuba, and assessments of the sixth congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, click HERE.]

Ricardo Alarcón, president of Cuba's parliament, interviewed by Manuel Alberto Ramy

April 27, 2011 -- Radio Progreso Alternativa -- The sixth congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, a congress that, from what I have read and heard, foreshadows a country and a society that will be qualitatively different.

The president of the National Assembly and member of the politburo of the Communist Party, Ricardo Alarcón, granted me this interview. I know that his time is limited, so I'd like to ask him three very specific questions. The first refers to the area of the People's Power [Cuba's system of democratic representation].

* * *

David Hicks' Guantanamo nightmare

Review by Coral Wynter

Guantanamo: My Journey
By David Hicks
William Heinemann, 2010

February 25, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Everyone who is curious about David Hicks and his imprisonment at the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for six years, should read this book.

It is an honest account of Hicks’ life as a youngster and his torture at the hands of the US army. Contrary to what many of the mainstream reviews of Guantanamo: My Journey assert, Hicks goes into a lot of detail about why and how he first ended up in Pakistan, and then Afghanistan. He explains, in detail, the circumstances of how he became trapped in Afghanistan and his attempts to get back his Australian passport to be able to return home to Adelaide.

Hicks was like so many teenagers looking for adventure. He was also a confused young man, coming from a broken home when he was just nine years old and finding it difficult to find his place in his second family with his stepmother and stepbrothers.

Interview with protest organiser: 'Days of rage' spread to Iraq, shake US puppet regime

Protesters chant anti-Iraqi government slogans during a protest at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, on February 25, 2011. Thousands of demonstrators converged on central Baghdad as part of an anti-government rally inspired by uprisings across the Middle East and dubbed the "Day of Rage". Photo: Karim Kadim / AP.

By Tony Iltis

Egypt: Much more than a `Facebook revolution'

February 18, 2011 -- There has been much written in the mainstream and even the alternative media -- much of it superficial -- about the uprising in Egypt, and previously in Tunisia, being a "Facebook revolution" and/or a "Twitter revolution". Rare have been analyses that try explain the deeper dynamics at play beneath the surface, which put the effectiveness of cyberspace organising tools into a political and class context. Exceptions to this are two very useful articles that appeared in the February 12, 2011, edition of the India-based left-wing journal, Economic & Political Weekly, which map the interaction between the build-up to the uprising in Egypt and developments in the labour and working-class movements, and how they influenced the technology-savvy young men and women of Egypt.

* * *

Why Egypt's progressives win

By Paul Amar

Eyewitness Egypt: Feminist Nawal El Saadawi --'No discrimination between men and women ...That’s what women and men are saying'

January 31, 2011 -- Democracy Now! -- Renowned feminist and human rights activist Nawal El Saadawi was a political prisoner and exiled from Egypt for years. Now she has returned to Cairo, and she joins us to discuss the role of women during the last seven days of unprecedented protests. "Women and girls are beside boys in the streets," El Saadawi says. "We are calling for justice, freedom and equality, and real democracy and a new constitution, no discrimination between men and women, no discrimination between Muslims and Christians, to change the system... and to have a real democracy."

AMY GOODMAN: We go back right now to Egypt. Joining us on the phone is one of Egypt’s most renowned human rights activists, Nawal El Saadawi. A well-known feminist, psychologist, writer, former political prisoner in Egypt, she lived in exile for years due to numerous death threats. Nawal El Saadawi joins us on the line from Cairo.

Welcome to Democracy Now! Your feelings today in the midst of this popular rebellion against the Mubarak regime, calling on Mubarak to leave? Do you agree?

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