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Quarterly | Issue 08 | August 2010 EUR 4, USD 5.5, GBP 3.5, AED 20, MYR 20, ZAR 44

A new focus on the world

Africa: On the Western Sahara. When will the solution arrive? Culture: The shores of Azania. Impressions from a journey to the Swahili coast.

Image: (c) dpa-Report

Cover story: A global trend. The world moves to alternative currencies.

Wealthy, poor Afghanistan. Massive reserves of natural resources discovered, page 16.


EDITORIAL By Abu Bakr Rieger.


COVER STORY A global trend. The world moves to alternative currencies.


Implementing the dinar and dirham. Role model: a case study in Indonesia.


ECONOMY Wealthy, poor Afghanistan. Massive reserves of natural resources discovered.


Detrimental to the economy. Iraq: on the American export of democracy.


Global “The runaway general”. Leading commander sacked for insubordination.


Interview “Liberal” versus “radical”. An interview with French author Oliver Roy.


Africa Return of colonial powers? China-EU rivalry in Africa sharpens.


On the Western Sahara. When will the solution arrive?


Ecology: the Muslims and the heir to the throne, page 45.


Asia There is no ‘Islamic Bomb’. An analysis of Pakistan’s strategic nuclear assets.




PUBLISHER IZ Medien GmbH Beilsteinerstr. 121 12681 Berlin Germany

Systematic opposition? Germany: the official interaction with Muslims.




“Guidance from the Qur’an”. Ecology: the Muslims and the heir to the throne.

PRINTING msk marketingserviceköln


Money growth: an ecological distaster.


NGO Beyond immigration. Skopje: cooperation between European Muslims.


Society The politics of fear. Globalisation: the middle class in crisis.

53 56

CHIEF EDITOR Abu Bakr Rieger

GLOBALIA Magazine reserves the right to shorten letters. Readers’ letters, guest articles and quotations do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Editors, nor do articles by named authors. PHONE +49 (0)30 240 48974 MOBILE +49 (0)179 967 8018

Winners in the crisis.

Culture The shores of Azania. Impressions from a journey to the Swahili coast.

FAX +49 (0)30 240 48975 E-mail WEBSITE


moving away from the hedge funds and the


old casino-capitalism and investing instead


in tangible assets. But why? There is no doubt that more and more people under which Europe’s nations are labouring

all over the world, rich and poor, are trying

is gigantic, and the long-term economic

to secure their welfare with tangible wealth.

It is the question of the century, and it

future of what were once the world’s richest

But whole nations too are reconsidering their

is not a difficult one to ask: are the

countries is now uncertain. Behind the

gold stocks, especially those fortunate enough

Golden Years soon to be upon us again?

scenes, the new global players are busy

not to have national debts.

In this edition we will be looking at the

preparing for the future.

Dear Globalia readers,

Saudi Arabia, for example, has more than

cataclysmic ‘financial crisis’ from various angles. Muslims in Asia are especially

I was talking recently to a German property

twice as much gold stashed away as pre-

involved in models for a solution to the

broker who sells agricultural and forestry

viously thought, according to World Gold

situation. Malaysia’s former President

estates. I asked him how business was going,

Council figures. According to them the

Dr. Mahathir recognised the financial

whether he was satisfied with the year so far.

Saudi Arabian Central Bank (Sama) holds

system’s innate structural problems

The man smiled and responded drily, “I’ve

gold reserves of 322.9 tonnes – more

way back in the Asian monetary crisis of

never sold so many properties and forests in

than double the previously published

the 1990s.

my life. If only I had more to sell.”

figure of 143 tonnes. Saudi Arabia is also the world’s fourth largest owner of

The facts are now clear. The burden of debt

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010

In other words, well-heeled Germans are

foreign currency reserves.


Even the European Parliament itself now considers democracy under threat in Europe and issued an interesting appeal for help just a few days ago. European parliamentarians are being overwhelmed by the power of lobbyists. “The disequilibrium between the power of this lobby and the lack of any counter-expertise is to us a danger to democracy,” states a parliamentarians’ circular helplessly. This makes an absurdity of the primacy of politics. Explaining how the pressure on politicians works, SPD Member of Parliament Udo Bullmann tells how the banks intimidate them with horror scenarios describing the consequences of more stringent banking regulations. “There is no neutral body that checks banks’ figures. But there is a mass of The reasons for this kind of silent monetary

has always kept its purchasing power through

money available for lobbyists to talk trash to

policy are obvious. Endless endebtment

the ages. Mack knows a good example: “At

no end,” said the politician in the Financial

logically has to end in collapse. In France,

the beginning of the 1920s, an ounce of gold


England and Spain, the first government

cost around 20 dollars, which would also buy

austerity packages are already threatening to

you a good men’s suit. Today you can still

We have come full circle. Sulaiman Wilms

cause social unrest – but packages which

get a good men’s suit for an ounce of gold,

reports in this edition on the role of fear in

would reduce new borrowing by a mere

but for 20 dollars you might only just get

modern politics. Fear of crisis, fear of social

fraction.The dynamic of the problem remains

the pocket handkerchief to go with it.”

relegation – and a fomented fear of Islam.

unstopped. Simple mathematics demonstrates its insolubility.

Fear is the common denominator which has Gold has another advantage as the anchor

to hold modern societies together. Pessimism

of a rational economy. The paper money

reigns, together with the general view that

Asset consultant Martin Mack said in an inter-

system currently in use, which is covered

there is no alternative to the dominant

view with Das Handelsblatt: “Our financial

purely by people’s trust in it, can, as we now

financial system.

systems are now receiving emergency

know, be expanded simply by printing,

injections of cheap money in the double-

with the result that people now fear

Fear and a lack of alternatives – is this the

figure billions. But what figures will we be

inflation everywhere.

beginning of a new totalitarianism in Europe?

faced with tomorrow?”

We hope not. Globalia, at least, will keep An expansive, boundless monetary policy is

People are famously inventive when the going

of course impossible with gold. But the

gets tough. And of course, people could opt

ownership of gold can be banned by law, as

for a growing number of new means of

has happened in the past. Power over paper

exchange in the face of looming monetary

money does of course equate with political

collapse. But gold has a long tradition, and


discussing alternatives.




founded in 1934 by the businessmen Werner


Zimmermann and Paul Enz as a result of


currency shortages after the stock market crash of 1929. Both Zimmermann and Enz had been influenced by German libertarian

The question naturally arises as to what drives the trend towards alternative currencies. The answer is simple: the recent financial crisis (which is certainly not over as the media like us to believe) has brought the world closer to a post-

economist Silvio Gesell. ‘WIR’ is both an abbreviation of Wirtschaftsring and the word for ‘we’ in German, reminding participants that the economic circle is also a community. According to the cooperative’s statutes, ‘Its purpose is to encourage participating members to put their buying power at each other’s disposal and keep it circulating

globalisation era which will be marked by

within their ranks, thereby providing members

uncontrollable sovereign debt and, as a conse-

with additional sales volume. Although WIR

quence, a reversal of policy, away from globali-

grown to include 62,000 – among whom is

sation towards regionalisation.

started with only 16 members, today it has traded approximately 1.65 billion Swiss francs annually (as of 2004). The WIR bank is a not-for-profit bank. It serves the interest of

The trend towards alternative currencies,

monetary shortages during the Great

the clients, not the bank itself. It is a very

originally started on a ‘community’ level have

Depression. A Wikipedia entry states:

stable system, not prone to failure as the current banking system is. It remains fully

increasingly turned into local, state-sponsored, payment systems gaining broad global

“The WIR Bank, formerly known as the Swiss

operational even in times of general economic

appeal and acceptance.

Economic Circle or WIR, is an independent,

crisis. In this sense,WIR may have contributed

complementary currency system in Switzer-

to the remarkable stability of the Swiss

The oldest and best known of these is the

land that serves small and medium-sized

economy, as it dampens downturns in the

“WIR” payment system, established in

businesses. It exists only as a bookkeeping

business cycle.”

Switzerland in 1934 in response to the severe

system to facilitate transactions. WIR was While the WIR complementary currency system in Switzerland and other more recent community-based payment systems such as the Chiemgauer in Southern Germany remain purely paper systems, we observe a growing trend towards bi-metallic currency systems. With our two companies e-dinar FZ LLC in Dubai and Emirates Gold Europe GmbH in Switzerland we are directly involved in the production and coinage for some of the best known of these complementary bi-metallic currency systems: namely the Kelantan Dinar and Dirham and the Ilmtaler Silber Thaler.

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


The state of Kelantan (Malaysia) has

The new Kelantan series is already being

pesos, the current total of silver in storage

been in the national and international press

widely advertised; when leaving or entering

would not be sufficient to satisfy demand

for their efforts to distribute the gold

Kelantan airport, one cannot miss the large

(Mexico in fact has a long-standing project

dinar through their state-owned pawn-

billboards advertising the new medallions

to do just that). It is important to note that

brokers. Since 2007, when they first started

with the state emblem on their face. The

in the not too distant past – actually only 30

distribution, they have sold some 10,000

purpose and aim of the Kelantan coins is to

years ago – the coins of several currencies,

gold dinars to the public.

pay zakat (the Islamic wealth tax) in hard

including the Swiss franc were still made out

assets which have intrinsic value and not, as

of silver. Only in 1980, when the Hunt

During the last one and a half years, we have

is done today, in promissory notes which,

brothers drove silver to 50+ USD an ounce

worked closely with the government of

according to Islamic Law, are unlawful means

and the silver content of these coins began

Kelantan to issue a new bi-metallic series of

of zakat payment.

to exceed their nominal value, was the Swiss

the Kelantan gold dinar and silver dirham

government forced to replace its silver coins

with the state emblem on the face of the new

in February 2010, we were approached by a

medallions. We were finally been awarded

German group who were planning to issue

that contract in March 2010 and received the

an alternative community currency purely

Should silver coinage become popular

funds for the first batch which went into

based on silver medallions – the Ilmtaler

again, the world would quickly use up its

production during April 2010.

series. Face motives include historic figures

depleted silver storage and run out of

with cheap nickel alternatives.

from the German renaissance, particularly

available metal. Inevitably, this would push

This new series of the dinar and dirham will

from the area of Erfurt and Weimar

the price of silver bullion sky high.

be broader in denominations and will

(Ilmtaler denominations: 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 and 1

comprise both silver and gold pieces

ounce silver pieces – .999 silver)

rather than just gold pieces as in the past:

Kelantan dinar denominations 1/2, 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10 (one dinar = 4.25 grams of 22 ct gold) Kelantan dirham denominations 1, 5, 10, 20 (one dirham = 3 grams of .999 silver)

The question naturally arises as to what drives the trend towards alternative currencies. The

A related group had previously issued one of

answer is simple: the recent financial crisis

the better-known paper-based alternative

(which is certainly not over as the media would

currencies in Germany – the Rheingold. Over

like us to believe) has brought the world closer

the years, they came to realize that sound

to a post-globalisation era which will be

money (i.e. gold and silver) is far superior

marked by uncontrollable sovereign debt and,

to paper receipts. It was for this reason that

as a consequence, a reversal of policy, away

they wanted to issue an alternative silver

from globalisation towards regionalisation.

‘currency’ in denominations comparable to the silver dirham.

Why is the financial crisis not over? Because governments have tried to treat the symptoms

Kelantan’s past efforts were exclusively focused on the gold dinar. As we know

In early 2010, we submitted a competitive

by injecting massive amounts of paper money

however from history, silver coins have played

offer for the production of the coins including

into a structurally flawed financial system;

a more significant role in everyday life than

the artwork, die production and coinage. In

failing to address the root cause of the crisis

gold coins for the simple fact that gold

April 2010, we were awarded the contract and

which is the parallel market of out-of-control

coins tend to be too valuable for everyday

are now in the stage of die production. Their

derivative products, amounting to no less

purchases such as bread or groceries.

first order comprised of more than 40,000

than 15 times the world GDP or roughly 600

Having understood this, the state govern-

silver medallions and we anticipate similar

trillion USD. It was a tiny fraction of this

ment of Kelantan has now decided to issue

sized orders every three to four months.

parallel market (i.e. derivatives based on subprime mortgages) which caused the

a bi-metallic series comprising both the gold dinar and the silver dirham in a wide range

If however a single large country such as

financial collapse in the first place. Yet policy

of denominations.

Mexico coverted its paper pesos into silver

makers continue to close their eyes to the




real problem hoping that somehow every-

default. While a sovereign default of the

reserves and savings.While the BRIC countries

thing will magically turn around. A danger-

PIGS countries would certainly be traumatic

have accumulated high levels of foreign

ous illusion since the next crisis is just below

for their citizens, Europe and the rest of the

reserves due to their singular focus on ‘export

the surface and waiting to erupt; the differ-

world could survive such an event. If the US

at all costs’ and have managed their debt

ence being that next time around, the world

however defaults on its sovereign debt, which

fairly well, the developed countries continue

will have run out of options.

is definitely in the cards (a downgrade of US

to spend beyond their means, amass un-

sovereign debt is today openly discussed),

manageable debt levels while at the same

Modern economies could not survive another

the economic world as we know it today

time facing decreasing levels of savings and

financial meltdown of the kind we have just

would cease to exist. Why? Because the US

sovereign reserves.

faced for the simple fact that our govern-

dollar would in the event be devalued to close

ments have run out of options to buy more

to zero, thereby destroying more than half of

In short, developed countries have for too long

time. The next financial crisis will result in

all monetary value in existence.

lived too far beyond their means. As every-

massive sovereign defaults, social unrest and

one of us knows from experience, such a

revolts leading to the eventual collapse of

The BRIC countries on the other hand,

democratic governance. For the people, the

although they also have increased their debt

outcome could at its worst become compa-

ceilings to combat the financial crisis, have

One of the signs of regionalisation is the

rable to the German situation at the end

formidable foreign reserves and sovereign

widespread adoption of barter and alternative

of World War II.

wealth funds which insulate them to a signi-

currency systems in Europe, Asia and the US.

ficant extend from the risk of sovereign

People feel increasingly betrayed by their


governments, have lost their faith in the

The signs for the advent of a new postglobalisation era are visible all around us.

situation will inevitably end in disaster.

banking system and the financial elite and see

First, the massively increased sovereign debt

Let us now turn to the issue of regionali-

their only saving grace in resorting to their

levels which are quickly separating the bad

sation. The disproportionate rate of sover-

own initiatives. Alternative currency systems

from the good and, secondly, the increasing

eign debt levels and foreign currency reserves

flourish in Germany, Asia and the US, while

formation of regional power centers.

has increased the rift between the well-to-do

barter systems grow like mushrooms in

countries in Asia, the Subcontinent and South

Eastern Europe. While these initiatives are

Let us first talk about debt. Governments all

America (“the good”) and the not so well-

admirable (and certainly on the right track),

over the world have tried to buy their way

to-do countries in Europe and the US (“the

while wishing them success, I would like to

out of the financial crisis, incurring debt of alar-

bad”). This is a fundamental shift of power

caution that the only true and lasting alter-

ming proportions.While economic conditions

away from the developed countries to a new

native to paper-based banking is gold and

in developed countries have not really

economic power axis extending from China

silver – the ultimate currency.

improved since the start of the crisis, the size

through India, the Middle East, Africa and

of government debt has increased drama-

South America - the so-called BRIC countries.

Such a world currency will have to be and

tically. Before the crisis sovereign debt was

The results of this shift in economic power are

must be based on hard assets, namely gold

already staggering, today it is beyond repair.

increased regionalisation and a reversal of

and silver. Gold and silver have served

economic focus away from export at all costs

us well since the beginning of civilisation

Everyone is concerned about the debt crisis

towards internal development and consump-

and will certainly serve us well until

in the PIGS countries (Portugal, Ireland, Greece

1tion (we can observe this new trend most

the end of civilisation.

and Spain), but few dare to even think what

clearly in China and India). The author is CEO of e-dinar FZ LLC and

might happen if the US (where government debt will soon be reaching 100 per cent of

What brought this shift in economic power

GDP) or Japan (which has the highest

about? The answer is obvious: it has to do

sovereign debt to GDP ratio worldwide)

with the ratio of sovereign debt to foreign

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010

Emirates Gold Europe GmbH. Text By Dr. Zeno Dahinden




Educating people as part of the programme: Umar Ibrahim Vadillo (front) and Pak Zaim (middle) are explaining the bi-metallic currency.

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


country in order to create an international


demand for the rupiah, restrict the powers of the Central Bank etc, and the list goes on.The government of Indonesia cannot solve the problem of the rupiah; the problem of inflation

History is alive with records showing that every

(which is more accurately an increase in the

time a currency like the Indonesian rupiah has

money supply and not merely in prices) but can only regulate it. This is all mathematics

been devalued, there is a massive transfer of

while the solution to the problem of the rupiah

wealth. Indonesians have been reduced to humi-

lies well outside such torturous calculations

liating poverty. In the past decade, the man who has been calling the people of Indonesia

emanating from air-conditioned bourgeois office buildings. It is, on the contrary, to turn away from all of that.

forward to a future of economic strength in Indonesia, with ever growing response from the people, is the founder of the ‘Wakala Induk Nusantara’, Pak Zaim Saidi.

The mess that modern economic theory has created in the 3,000, vast and rich inhabited islands of Indonesia provides a stimulus to seek a solution to the problem, and that lies in a return to the original economic model of the Nusantara Sultanate that people

Within ten years of the Bretton Woods accord,

imposed currency – because the rupiah has

practised for centuries before the introduction

the Indonesian rupiah stood at 415 to 1 US

only been losing its purchasing power ever

of paper as currency in colonial times.

dollar, in late 1986, 1000 to 1 and today it

since first issued – they are still unaware that

stands at approximately 9000 to 1. What

the problem of their economic condition lies

In the past decade, the man who has been

happened in between was Indonesia’s blind

in the very paper money they despise.

calling the people of Indonesia not merely back to conventional economic practice but

following of capitalism; an unquestioning adherence to its dogmatic dictates. The

In order to move the decimal point three

forward to a future of economic strength in

rupiah has been deliberately devalued time

digits to the left, to make the exchange rate

Indonesia, with ever growing response from

and again for reasons never clearly stated.

at least 9 to 1 US dollar let alone make it

the people, is the founder of the ‘Wakala

equal, the Central Bank has to reduce the

Induk Nusantara’, Pak Zaim Saidi.

History is alive with records showing that

money supply in the country – including every

every time a currency like the rupiah is

kind of central and private bank deposits

Having established the Wakala Induk

devalued, there is a massive transfer of

apart from the small portion of worthless

Nusantara in 2008, Saidi inaugurated the use

wealth from the hands of ordinary people to

paper and coins in circulation – by a thousand

of the gold dinar and silver dirham as currency

the hands of those who control the

times; then create a new demand for the

alongside the paper rupiah. He had already

resources and the real wealth of the country;


established the first wakala of Indonesia in the year 2003 and had been a proponent of

a sleight of hand that amounts to theft, always unknown and justified in ultra-tech-

This would mean a preposterous increase in

the function and role of the wakala and the

nical language.

interest rates and taxation which would in

coins. This he based entirely on the history and

turn result in a dramatic reduction of the

culture of Indonesia and the economic model

The people of Indonesia have been reduced

average income with a rise in poverty and

of the Nusantara Sultanate.

to humiliating poverty and destitution, yet

destitution as a consequence. It would also

though on the whole they despise the

mean nationalising the resources of the

As the dinar and dirham are commodities per




se, firstly they are free from inflation and

of which is called the daniq). The daniq has

the coins have been minted according to the

secondly they can be used as a just means of

been minted very recently and may be

culture and traditions of Indonesia and the

pricing. Pak Zaim often illustrates this by

considered the most important coin for basic

economic practice of the people of the

saying that the price of a chicken 1400 years

and daily market transactions. Some signifi-

Nusantara Sultanate and since their use is

ago in Madinah was 1 dirham and today, if

cant aspects of the recent launch of the daniq

based on their being a partial payment system

measured in dirhams, remains the same.

will be discussed later.

alongside the paper rupiah, they are not in any way opposed to state currency, which,

The Wakala Induk Nusantara, also known as

The exchange value of the coins follows the

though imposed, will naturally, when used in

the Master Wakala, is responsible for minting

market price at the time of transaction. The

parallel with the dinar and the dirham

the coins – in several denominations as will

wakala keeps track of the daily fluctuations

(themselves minted by the Royal Mint of

be shown later – with a direct relationship

in the exchange rate with the Master Wakala

Indonesia), have its worthlessness revealed

with the Royal Mint of Indonesia (Loga Mulia),

– since the prices of gold and silver, in terms

over time. There is no reason why the coins

and then sells them through the network of

of paper money, fluctuate daily. The minting

should not be used.

wakalas functioning under it.

and distribution costs, which amount to about

There are currently about 75 wakalas which

4 per cent in total, are then added onto the

Pak Sufyan, a scholar of Islamic coinage and

price of the coins.

the Islamic model of economics, quite clearly

in turn sell the coins to the people who

mentioned in an interview with a Dutch

ultimately choose to utilise them in a number

In a terse brochure published by the Wakala

journalist that he is not in anyway opposing

of ways as well as keeping them as collector’s

Induk Nusantara entitled, “Use Dinar and

the banking establishment but that he merely

items, a choice however which does still

Dirham – Daily Transactions, Hand to Hand,”

wants the freedom to choose his medium of

benefit the owner because gold and silver

the various uses of the coins are seen as

exchange which, if saved, would also preserve

serve as the best store of value.


the value of his wealth. The Dutch journalist included her study of Pak Zaim’s work in

The wakala is, in short, a private institution that facilitates the exchange of paper money into gold and silver coins. Very importantly, it is not a business enterprise. It is profit-free.

Indonesia and her interview with both Pak • As zakat payment according to the shari’ah; under which sub-heading are rulings by the imams of the different madhahib that zakat may not be paid in paper money.

The Master Wakala deals with the mint, the

• As savings and value protection.

wakalas deal with the Master Wakala and the

• As sadaqah.

people deal with the wakalas.This is the basic

• As dowry.

operational mode that has been established.

Zaim and Pak Sufyan in her internationally acclaimed documentary on capitalism [Time for Change, Bregtje van der Haak, VPRO Backlight 2010]. Finally, the wakalas also allow the coins to be redeemed with paper money but with a reduction of 4 per cent of the price that not

The coins – denominations and use

The brochure states one of the strongest argu-

only covers the minting and handling costs

The basic denominations of both the gold

ments for the use of the coins as currency thus,

but serves to deter such an action.

coin and the silver coin are 1 dinar and 1

“Besides the obligation to use them to pay

dirham respectively.The dinar is 22 carat gold

zakat, etc, by using them your wealth will not

Pak Zaim’s tireless efforts to educate the

(91.7 per cent purity), 23 mm in diameter

be affected by inflation. The value of all

public on such matters of daily importance

and is 4.25 grams in weight. The dirham is

paper-based currencies is always dropping,

as monetary economics and his actual work

99.99 per cent pure silver, 25 mm in diame-

but the values of the dirham and the dinar

on the ground in minting and distributing the

ter and 2.975 grams in weight. The dinar has

always increase. Their values appreciate

coins over the last eight years has now

been minted in two other denominations –

by 20-25 per cent annually.”

resulted in the circulation of approximately

1/2 dinar and 2 dinars. The dirham is in three other denominations – 2, 1/2 and 1/6 (the last

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010

50,000 coins throughout Indonesia. At first Pak Zaim Saidi argues succinctly that since

look, traders generally express mistrust and


suspicion but on inspecting the small

some scholars, has to be done before sunset

the market, with anyone being able to trade

certificate from the Royal Mint of Indonesia

or, according to others, within three days.

anything there and with those coming to the

that accompanies every coin in a plastic

Neither can Zakat be collected in paper money

market being given the freedom to use the

cover, they accept them at once as payment,

but rather in real wealth, and in the case of

coins together with the rupiah. People have

often astonished that each silver dirham is

savings or businesses, it has to be collected

freely exchanged their paper money for the

worth many times more than the ten thousand

in dinars and dirhams.

coins and have spent them in the markets with pleasure. The Mayor of Depok has taken part

rupiah note. This is because the only silvercoloured coin they see every day is the 500

Pak Zaim has taken on this task of collecting

in two such markets which stimulated an

rupiah, which has no purchasing power at all

Zakat via the coins that he has been minting

increasing confidence in the coins.

on its own.

and then distributing them in the regular markets he organises. He has set up the ‘Baitul

It is important to mention here that Pak

Zakat and Markets

Mal Nusantara’ so that Zakat is collected and

Sufyan, who lives in Cilincing, has achieved

The most significant element of Pak Zaim’s

distributed by zakat collectors, particularly in

tremendous success in convincing the traders

Amirate of Indonesia is the collection of Zakat


of his particular district to accept the dinar and the dirham as a medium of exchange. A

and the organisation of markets to encourage entrepreneurship and trading links amongst

This is because when the coins are distributed

pasar malam or night market operates every

Muslims that will break the barriers of

to the poor, needy and those eligible to

evening in Cilincing, which has attracted the

monopolies, oligopolies and the giant private

receive them, the next question arises, ‘How

attention of the mainstream media of Indo-

corporations of production in Indonesia.

can they be utilised?’ Since Zakat is distributed

nesia as well as several international journa-

in parallel with the organisation of markets,

lists. Near to Cilincing, traders in a series of

Zakat is the fallen pillar of Islam. This is

those receiving the money may immediately

shops beside a fishing village have begun

because, unlike sadaqah, Zakat is taken –

spend it according to their needs. To date

accepting the coins as currency as well.

clearly mentioned in the Quran (9:103) –

seven Market Day Festivals have been orga-

taken by an Amir who is then responsible for

nised based on the Islamic model of the free

Umar Ibrahim Vadillo, the Spanish Muslim

its immediate distribution to eight categories

market in the major cities of Indonesia.

who pioneered the whole movement of the dinar and the dirham and is the key to its

of people mentioned in another verse of the Quran, a distribution which, according to

Traders are not charged rent for a space in

reintroduction in Asia, in 1992 in Spain




minted the first gold dinar since the collapse of the Ottoman Islamic Dawlah. Vadillo once remarked in a lecture at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) that there are only two steps to the establishment of the dinar and the dirham as currency: their minting and distribution, and their being used. In Indonesia, with the problem of the minting and the distribution solved, the spread of their use now begins. It is important to mention here that the organisation of markets for the use of the dinar and the dirham is the antidote to the current capitalist procedure of establishing shopping malls and giant supermarkets that involve huge corporations supplying them with commodities as well as requiring massive investment, a procedure which has destroyed entrepreneurship and raised too many barriers for the man in the street to be able to engage in trade. As such, the only possibility for the trader is a bank loan, which contains, if admitted, the very seeds of the destruction of that business. On the other hand, Pak Zaim’s efforts have enabled any man in the street to be able to trade. If someone desires to trade but has no capital to start with, the person may get an interest-free loan for the purpose from the Wakala Induk Nusantara in dinars and dirhams. This is called ‘qirad’ or a profit-sharing investment in trade. Many people have successfully started trading through such loans and have also begun repaying the loan. Pak Zaim has recently begun another major operation for the distribution of dirhams through a non-commercial channel. He has called it Garnissun Bangsa. It is an acronym taken from parts of an Indonesian phrase

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


that means, Nationwide Movement for

people who came to the market and the

prices of the coins are also updated twice

Dirham Spending and Sadaqah for National

officials received the launch of the two new

daily according to world gold and silver prices


denominations of the coins appreciatively.

to avoid any loss due to daily fluctuations.

It is a campaign for economic strength, to

The nisfu dirham and especially the daniq,

The very strength of the political estab-

encourage people to use dirhams in all

solve the problem of using the dirham

lishment in the world today, including

transactions and give dirhams as charity.

in very basic transactions. Now for an angkot

Indonesia, lies in banking and imposed

Besides the numerous activities organised

(minibus) ride, which costs exactly one daniq,

currencies. Be it a secular, Islamic, capitalist

under Garnissun Bangsa, such as the business

the people may freely use the coins without

or communist state, regardless of the name,

loans, Pak Zaim has started the Million

any need to expect any rupiah as change.

the modern state has three foundational

Dirhams Give Away Campaign. It is to urge

Secondly, for small transactions like a cup of

elements: a constitution, a national debt and

people of means to give to people without

tea or coffee, even if paid with a dirham,

an imposed currency.

means doing so in Dirhams, which will help

change may be given in a nisfu dirham and

in the distribution of the coins.


The economic strength of those in power is due to the latter two – the national debt

People may give via the mosque or any

This will help distribute the coins more widely

and the imposed currency. For this reason,

charity organisation or straight to families

around Nusantara. In short, though the use

no state recognises gold and silver or any

and individuals. When a million dirhams

of the coins still functions together with the

other commodity as money.Therein lies both

enter into the economy, they start making a

use of the rupiah, the introduction of the

their strength and their weakness since it is

difference because, as mentioned above, the

daniq and the nisfu dirham has potentially

in no way against the law to mint coins and

coins preserve purchasing power and are a

freed Indonesians from dependence on the

use them as a ‘barter currency’. The people

good store of value and therefore immune

rupiah. Moreover, now anyone can exchange

of Indonesia know them to be money. But

from inflation.

almost any amount of rupiahs for dirhams and

the government refuses to acknowledge

over time they in turn may be exchanged

them and only recognises them as ‘barter

The Daniq and the Nisfu Dirham

for dinars. This may be the catalyst for the

currency’ or means for a partial payment

On 18 April 2010, the daniq and the nisfu

people’s completely severing their links

system in buying and selling. In Indonesia there

dirham (half dirham) were officially launched

with Bank Indonesia. Pak Zaim continues to

is a model for any serious person in any part

at the seventh Market Day Festival organised

educate the public about the dinar and the

of the world who has realised the fraudulence

by Amir Zaim. It was a historic event as the

dirham as solutions to the problems created

of paper money, it having no intrinsic value

daniq has never been minted as a coin in

by the fictions of both the electronic rupiah

and consequently losing its purchasing power

Muslim history; it has only been used as

and the paper rupiah. He has given numerous

irreversibly, and thus its incapacity to function

’odd-shaped clippings’ taken from existing

television interviews, authored several books

as a reliable medium of exchange.

silver coins of the respective time.The weight

on the subject and organised many seminars

and value of the daniq has therefore been

and markets to expand the work. Ilusi

As the US dollar falls, all currencies pegged

determined now.

Demokrasi and Kembali ke Dinar are two of

to it therefore fall with it. A close study of

his most important books. He has also trans-

the working monetary model of the

The festival was attended by a number of

lated Umar Ibrahim Vadillo’s book Heidegger

Indonesian Amirate is essential to avoid the

significant government officials and leaders

for Muslims from English into Bahasa

massive transfer of wealth from the poor

of large organisations including the Mayor of


and ordinary people to the super wealthy that always occurs every time the value of

Depok, Bapak Dr Ir Nurmahmudi Isma’il, and the Chief of Police, Kiyai Sanwari Ahmad.

His website is

Zakat was also distributed the previous

constantly updated with news of events and

afternoon and that very morning. Both the

developments with regard to his work. The

paper-based money falls. Text By Hasbullah Shafy’i



Image: AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq


“This is perhaps the best news Afghanistan has had in recent years”, said Waheed Omar, spokesman for weak Afghan President, Hamid Kharzai, in Kabul after the publication of the astounding geological report. He was careful to stress that it was conducted on behalf of the government. It is hoped that in the long-term, this discovery will unite the Afghan people. According to Soviet geologists, the preparatory work that contributed to the discovery was carried out during the occupation in the 1980’s. After the Soviet withdrawal, Afghan experts firstly hid the maps and data and Afghan Minister for Mines, Wahidullah Shahrani, during a press conference in Kabul.

then returned them to the official document archives after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. American geologists arrived in 2004 and made the records the basis of their own research.


It was not until 2009 that a Pentagon bureau


on economic development was informed of the discovery, that mining experts carried out

It has been almost three decades since the politically motivated war between Argentina and

checks, and that finally U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Afghan President Karzai were briefed. It has been estimated that there

Great Britain over the desolate Falkland Islands,

are natural resources worth just over a trillion

where it was well known that there were large,

U.S. dollars.

undiscovered reserves of oil and gas. This gives

Enormous reserves

the present Afghan conflict a painful irony as a

According to a senior U.S. government official

similar message has been making the rounds

quoted in the “New York Times”, stockpiles include large reserves of iron, copper, cobalt

within the international community. According

and gold. The Times report was essentially

to American geologists and the Pentagon, there

based on a Pentagon report. The mineral

are large and diverse natural resources buried

reserves are enough to turn Afghanistan into a “world-leading mining centre”, with mining

under Afghan soil. According to the International

becoming the backbone of the Afghan

Monetary Fund, the war-torn country is one of

economy, according to Jalil Jumriany, adviser

the poorest nations in the world. In 2008, the country’s income stood at $425 per capita.

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010

to the Afghan ministry for mining. Notably, Afghanistan was described in the Pentagon report as the “Saudi Arabia of lithium”, the





key metal component in the production of

only outcome to be expected from mining.

story looked to many observers like part of

computers and mobile phones.

In Afghanistan, the various militant factions

an effort to strengthen the case for giving the

now have – alongside the opium industry –

counterinsurgency effort more time,” agreed

Remarkable timing

another crucial incentive to continue their

political commentator, Jim Lobe.

There may be legal doubts as to whether the

armed struggle.

Hostile geopolitics

delays in the disclosure of the reputedly, enormous reserves of natural resources were

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, many

The geopolitical situation in Afghanistan and

purely down to technical delays. After all,

of the alleged natural resources are in

relations with its neighbours – in addition to

President Obama has recently been forced to

Taliban controlled areas [Ghazni, Kandahar

technical, military and political issues – is

oust his leading commander in Afghanistan

and Zabul], who could potentially free them

likely to be the biggest challenges needed

in the midst of ever-increasing admissions of

from a reliance on revenue generated by

to be taken into consideration. How are

western failure in the Hindu Kush. Some

opium, which essentially represents their only

countless tons of valuable ore from a

analysts have expressed the view that

source of income, that and the collection of

country without access to the sea to be

headlines regarding the alleged discovery of

protection money.

transported to the region’s major ports?

public opinion as to the futility of continued

Also, neighbouring countries such as resource-

It is the opposite problem to that with which


hungry China – and their direct competitor

the NATO commanders are presently occu-

natural resources serve to counter the growing

India – have an increased incentive to both

pied. They have spent years striving to find

“What better way to remind people about the

directly and indirectly interfere in Afghan

secure supply routes into Afghanistan.

country’s potential bright future – and by

internal affairs.According to information from

Pakistan would be an option, but the border

people I mean the Chinese, the Russians, the

think-tank “Stratfor”, the Chinese company

crossing points have proven to be dangerous.

Pakistanis, and the Americans – than by

China Metallurgical Group Corporation, has

In addition, Pakistani transportation is tradi-

publicising or re-publicising valid (but

already committed 3 billion U.S. dollars in

tionally considered by western observers to

already public) information about the region’s

advance and agreed to pay a further 400

be in the hands of a corrupt group of brokers

potential wealth?” wrote Marc Ambinder,

million thereafter for the mining rights to

– the so-called “transport mafia”.

political editor of the magazine “The

secure the copper deposits from Aynak in

Atlantic”, in his blog.

Logar province. Last year verification drillings

Iran, located to the southwest would represent

were carried out and a temporary base is

a different route. But simmering unrest

Blake Hounshell, chief editor of “Foreign

now being prepared. A railway line, power

currently plagues the southeastern regions.

Policy” recalls that the U.S. Geological Survey

plant and copper smelter are in the pipeline.

Furthermore, it seems clear that faced with

(UGS) published an online report in 2007 on

new sanctions against Iran and the earlier

mineral resources [excluding gas and oil] in

In the months since the implementation of

refusal to approve pipeline projects through

Afghanistan. It said, “Afghanistan has signi-

counterinsurgency measures, which according

Iran, NATO and the US have no real interest

ficant amounts of undiscovered non-fuel

to experts are increasingly based on those

in this option.

mineral resources.”The World Bank prepared

carried out by the French in Algeria, the losses

that, with their report on the extensive

of U.S. and NATO troops have risen sharply.

A third option would be to transport the

economic potential of the Afghan mining

A symbol of the de facto failure was the result

Afghan ore through Central Asia and Russia.

industry going back to 2004.

of the “battle” around Merja in Helmand

But this, according to NATO, is a lengthy and

Province. A second planned campaign in and

expensive journey – two and a half times as

around the key city of Kandahar has been

long and as costly as going through Pakistan.

Natural resources and counterinsurgency

postponed for months.

Experts dampen optimism

The optimistic Afghan and U.S. voices are questionable. Increase in wealth is not the

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010

“In that respect, the appearance of the Times

Official US experts have already warned


China’s focus on Afghanistan’s resources: inaugaration of the Aynak copper project.

that extracting Afghan natural resources will

P.J. Crowley.“As you know, mineral extraction

infrastructure, awkward logistics, security

not be simple and that it could take years to

faces numerous but not insurmountable

threats, and corrupt negotiations.”

convert the recently discovered minerals into


actual revenue. “It’s not a quick win,” said

The planners of “Stratfor” came to a para-

Jack Medlin from the U.S. Geological Survey

The extraction and transportation of the

mount conclusion on the potential develop-

at a briefing at the Pentagon.

coveted ore is a logistical challenge, even

ment of Afghanistan’s natural resources:

with developed railway and road networks.

“Over the next few years there will be little

Representatives of the Pentagon and the U.S.

Even if Afghanistan had these means of

meaningful impact on the ground in

State Department acknowledged that there

transportation, it would remain questionable

Afghanistan in terms of investing in and

was a general sense of optimism, in spite of

whether the mining of natural resources

developing the country’s minerals. The key

the fact that efforts to extract the raw minerals

would be economically viable.

question at this point is how Washington

were being hampered by remote locations,

will play this mineral-wealth story to serve

weak infrastructure, a lack of powerful

Experiences with investments in Afghanistan,

its interests in the region, especially as the

equipment and a strong military resistance.

such as the aforementioned Aynak copper

United States struggles to break a stalemate

“Turning the potential of Afghanistan’s

deposits show, according to “Stratfor”, that

in southwestern Afghanistan and force the

mineral wealth into actual revenue will take

typically slow development, is being further

Taliban to the negotiating table.”

years”, said State Department spokesman

hampered “by problems relating to poor

Text By Sulaiman Wilms




GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


other firms, with each of those firms receiving


its share. But in many cases some of those firms started working under the contract. For example, the private US company, Custer

At the beginning of US intervention in Iraq there

Battles received contracts for 100 million US-

was talk that democratisation would lead to

dollars over 13 months, signed subcontracts

prosperity. In practice it turned out to be wrong.

and then produced fake documents with “swollen” costs.The picture gets even worse

In 2005, when the constitution of Iraq was

if, as according to experts’ estimates, we add

approved, Iraq was proclaimed a democratic

the fact that by now Iraq has lost 90 billion

state. From the results of the elections (2005 and

US-dollar through illegal exports of oil and oil products.

2010) new governments were formed, but, to put it mildly, the development of the Iraqi economy leaves much to be desired.

Besides that, annually, the country wastes about 600 million cubic meters of gas and of the 1,041 oil wells existing, only 441 are being exploited. The country uses less than

Before the US began to export its democracy

country as a whole is ensured by the evolution

half its export potential estimated at 4.2

to Iraq, the country was one of Russia’s main

of traditional economic practices and not by

million barrels.

trade and economic partners in the Middle

the planting of Western democracy.” Over the last seven years of the Iraqi demo-

East. At that time the attractiveness of the Iraqi market for Russia was expressed by the

Before the much vaunted democratisation

cracy, not a single oil processing plant has

country’s high paying capacity, guaranteed

began in Iraq, the representatives of the US

been built in the country despite proposals

by its having the world’s second highest oil

did a lot of talking about big oil deposits in

from foreign companies. According to infor-

reserves, and good export prospects.

the country saying that hydrocarbons would

mation from the control department of the

ensure the development of the Iraqi economy

US Congress, of the 2 million barrels of oil

On the one hand, under Saddam Hussein the

and lead it towards modernisation. Did it

produced in Iraq daily, 100 – 300,000 barrels

members of the Baath party occupied the key

happen? At the end of 2009, the Iraqi govern-

remain unregistered which amounts to

ruling positions in all spheres of life of the

ment tendered for the development of its ten

between 5 million and 15 million US-dollars

Iraqi society and it was a common practice

oil fields. Many foreign companies bid for

in monetary terms.

for them to distribute part of the oil

their development and, as expected, most of

export profits amongst each other. Such

the winners were international consortiums

Comparing the economic state of Iraq under

practice is known as the muhassa system

including two Russian companies – Lukoil

Saddam Hussein to the situation now, we can

(“proportional distribution”) but from the

and Gazpromneft. However when it came to

conclude that the export of US democracy

perspective of the Western economic model

the distribution of the contracts aimed at

turned out to be detrimental to the Iraqi

it was the way to stagnation.

the quick economic restoration of Iraq, not

economy.Western democratic models do not

everything was transparent.

work in the Arabic world. (Source: RIA Novosti)

of stability in Iraq where people had become

According to a Mr. Al Khafaji, an Iraqi citizen

used to this system. As Evgeny Primakov, an

who worked with the US State Department

The author is a Strategic Culture Foundation investments expert on the energy sector in the Middle East and Africa.

expert on Iraq, says, “Iraq is specifically

before the war, the companies which received

different. The economic development of the

contracts arranged six subcontracts with

On the other hand it ensured a certain degree

Text By Eldar Kasayev




GLOBALIA | Issue 07 | January 2010



President Obama lost no time in removing General Stanley McChrystal from his command of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, appointing General David Petraeus in his place. He moved quickly to restore the unity of his administration’s war effort by reiterating the chain of command and reminding the military of the supremacy of civilian authority. President Obama came pretty close to having

McChrystal either. This was when he met the

a MacArthur moment and, following in the

president briefly in the Oval office after being

footsteps of President Truman, swiftly dealt

selected for the job in Afghanistan. McChrystal

with it. General McChrystal and his top aides

called this a photo-op and was said to have

had disparaged civilian leaders, including

been disappointed that the commander-in-

President Obama, in their conversations with

chief, quote, “didn’t seem very engaged.”

a freelance journalist, reported in an explosive article captioned “The Runaway General” by

The article also contains a number of

Rolling Stone magazine.

disparaging remarks made by McChrystal and his aides about vice-president Joe Biden,

Taking shots at the president, according to the

national security advisor Jim Jones, special

article, McChrystal described his first meeting

envoy Richard Holbrooke and the US ambas-

with him as “disappointing”, saying that the

sador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry.

president came in “unprepared” when, shortly after taking office, President Obama met

The general’s aides were clearly dismissive of

with senior military officers at the Pentagon.

the civilian misreading of the war, with the

A source familiar with the meeting said

general himself ridiculing the vice president

McChrystal’s assessment of Obama was that

Biden in a one-liner when he asked: “Are you

of a president who was “uncomfortable and

asking about Vice President Biden?” then

intimidated” in the presence of military top

adding,“Who’s that?”McChrystal held a grudge


against Biden ever since he had opposed the surge that McChrystal had proposed in

According to McChrystal’s staff officer, the

support of a new counter-insurgency strategy

magazine reports, their second encounter

to rescue the failing war and to which Obama

four months later did not make a mark on

had agreed over Biden’s objections.




The article quotes McChrystal as calling Richard Holbrooke a “wounded animal” because he “keeps hearing rumours that he’s going to be fired.” His aides derided Jim Jones by calling him a “clown”. The White House was furious, as was Obama. This unbecoming conduct amounted to insubordination by no less than a general officer holding a very important command. This called for a severe reprimand and dismissal.The general was summoned, given a hearing by the president and commanderin-chief and, in a show of grace, asked to resign. There were concerns in Washington that McChrystal’s departure in the middle of a war could cause a major set back to its execution and the timelines that Obama had

McChrystal’s unfinished legacy: the unsuccessful campaign around the town of Marja.

prescribed for the military in Afghanistan. Some argued that after a presidential scolding he should be allowed to return to

Pentagon did not appreciate political realities.

lating the leadership, which sent the wrong

his post and finish the job.

Out of sync with each other, they have conti-

signal down the line. Obama had had to give

nued to operate within their own spheres.

him a dressing down during his visit to

But Obama had other concerns.The general’s

The military high command however having

Copenhagen last year after McChrystal had

conduct had brought out into the open three

initially agreed to the timelines set by Obama

criticized Vice President Biden in a speech in

fault lines that now needed to be addressed

when he gave them additional troops and

London for advocating a scaled-down war


the funds to turn things around in Afghanistan

effort, in conflict with McChrystal’s own

last autumn, not truly accepting them.

strategy of increasing troop strength.

leadership over the conduct of the war with

They argue that counter-insurgency operations

Earlier last autumn, McChrystal was suspected

the fundamental question as to who is in

can not be realistically limited to a given

of having leaked his Afghanistan strategy

control of a war effort that is de facto going

length of time. The political leadership has

document to the media arguing for an

nowhere. This is despite Robert Gates being

accused the Pentagon of indirect insubor-

additional 40,000 troops even before

in charge of the Pentagon, having been

dination with the Pentagon responding by

President Obama could evaluate it and make

retained from the Bush administration for the

saying that the administration is focused

a judgment; calculated to put the president

very purpose of ensuring continuity of smooth

more on withdrawal and less on winning

in a box and make him concede to his

operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

the war.

demands. An angry White House made muted

Firstly, the friction between a civil and military

accusations of insubordination. Secondly, the Pentagon has been blaming the

And thirdly, McChrystal was habitually

administration for not understanding the war

crossing a venerated line in openly criticizing

Being thus emboldened, believing himself

with the government retorting that the

the civilian chain of command and manipu-

indispensable and enjoying the support of

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


the Pentagon, particularly Robert Gates,

Eikenberry and Richard Holbrooke.

McChrystal committed the grave indiscretion of publicly ridiculing the civilian authority to

The fallout over the McChrystal scandal will

whom he reported. But this time he forced

affect Pakistan too; where the civilian and

the president’s hand too far.

military leadership has chosen to quietly watch the drama unfold. McChrystal often

Fears that General McChrystal’s abrupt

visited Pakistan in an effort to win support

departure from the theatre of war would

for the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and deve-

cause serious disruption are, in fact, unfoun-

loped close ties with military commanders,

ded. It is not uncommon for commanders to

starting with Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan’s

be changed during the course of a war.

army chief, with whom he held frequent

Pending the Senate approval of General

meetings. Effective cooperation and intelli-

Petraeus for the new job, a British general

gence sharing exists between the two sides.

who was next in seniority had already taken over to ensure there were no missed heart-

There remains an uncertainty, however, as to

beats in the chain of command.

whether this cordial relationship will be maintained by the new US and NATO

The entire military leadership, including

commander General Petraeus.Although he is

General Rodriguez, the US and NATO second-

no stranger to this war and to the region,

in-command, continues to oversee day-to-

having overseen both the war and General

day operations as before. Subordinate com-

McChrystal and fully familiar with the realities

manders will also continue to follow the

on the ground, remaining in close contact

strategy and orders that are already in place.

with Pakistan’s military commanders.

General Petraeus was in fact the architect of

General Petraeus nevertheless remains an

the war strategy presented to President

unknown entity as a person physically

Obama by McChrystal and approved for

handling the operations. Pakistan will also

implementation in Afghanistan, a strategy

be closely watching the nature of his relation-

that Petraeus had already put in place in

ships with other groups in Afghanistan,

Iraq and where McChrystal also served. For

particularly those that work to destabilize

Petraeus, highly regarded for his performance

Pakistan and the region.

in Iraq, this war and the strategy are nothing new.

A strong working relationship with Islamabad is and should decisively remain a central part

In taking this decision, President Obama

of the US war strategy, not only because of

ignored the plea made by President Karzai

the sensitive common borders and the fact

who cautioned Obama against McChrystal’s

that Pashtuns straddle both sides of the border

removal, expressing fears that it would derail

but also because the events in Afghanistan

the war. For Karzai, McChrystal was also

directly impact Pakistan. That Pakistan is in a

important as he got the full backing of the

position to play an important role in promo-

general, who also served as his channel of

ting peace goes without saying.

communication with Washington. Karzai is not on speaking terms with ambassador

Text By Shahid R. Siddiq

Stanley McChrystal




within Europe. So now the debate is about


the status of Islam. And here we have a


strange phenomenon: while anti-immigration feeling is mainly associated with the conservative right, anti-Islamic sentiment is

“The debate in Europe has shifted in the last 25

to be found on both the left and the right,

years (effectively a whole generation) from

but for two very different reasons.

immigration to the visible symbols of Islam, which

For the right, Europe is Christian and Islam

has created a paradox: even people who were

should be treated as a tolerated, albeit inferior,

opposed to immigration now acknowledge that

religion.There is (unfortunately) no way to ban

the second and third generation of migrants are here to stay and that Islam has rooted itself within Europe. So now the debate is about the status of Islam.”

it (because of the principle of “freedom of religion”, inscribed in our constitutions, international treaties and UN charters), but there are means to limit its visibility without necessarily going against the principle of freedom of religion (for instance the European Court of Human Rights did not condemn the banning of the scarf in French schools).

The debate about Islam in the West, principally

Independent experts and authors like the

in Western Europe, has been developed along

French author Olivier Roy are helping to paint

ideological lines. Hitherto, it quite often came

a different picture. For Roy, extremist groups

For the left, the issue is more generally

to a rare – given the former political dialectic

like Al-Qaida (AQ) have more in common with

secularism, women’s rights and fundamen-

of “left” and “right” in the European

the political-terrorist movements of the

talism: it opposes the veil, not so much

landscape – fusion of anti-Muslim and anti-

European past than with Islam.

because it is Islamic, but rather because it seems to contradict women’s rights. Hence

Islamic rhetoric. Question: In Switzerland, a majority voted

the debate on Islam disguises a far more

But too often, religions and their practices

for a ban on minarets; in France and in

complicated issue: what is a European identity,

have been confused with ideologies and their

Belgium, the Islamic headscarf is under

and what is the role of religions in Europe;

proponents. These days, it is mostly the

serious debate; in Italy the crucifix is

and of course, on these two issues the left and

”talking heads” or “pundits” of mainstream

coming under fire. And also here, in

the right take very different positions. But we

TV or the press who dominate the ”discourse”.

Germany, the debate surrounding Mus-

are witnessing the rise of new populist

lims is often hysterical.Why do Europeans

movements (like Geert Wilder’s In Holland)

fear religious symbols or ”foreign” reli-

mixing both approaches, basically siding with

gions so much?

the right but using leftist arguments.

Olivier Roy: The debate in Europe has shift-

Question: In your book, you say that

ed in the last 25 years (effectively a whole

fundamentalists like Al-Qaida have

generation) from one of immigration to the

nothing to do with the tradition of Islam.

visible symbols of Islam, which has created

But for the people of Europe, they appear

a paradox: even people who were opposed

very traditional.Are Al-Qaida and similar

to immigration acknowledge now that the

organisations and movements a modern

second and third generation of migrants are

phenomenon? How do you explain this

here to stay and that Islam has rooted itself


GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 201 2010


Olivier Roy: The kind of terrorism perpetrat-

fact, there is no real parallel: the present

joined the Red Army Faction (RAF) or the Red

ed by AQ is unknown in Muslim history, as

struggle looks more like asymmetric warfare,

Brigades of thirty years ago, but have now

well as in “Christian” history. So in any case

with Islamic radicals having no air force or

joined the most successful movement on the

it is a recent phenomenon. If we consider

aircraft carriers.

anti-imperialist market.We are still witnessing

some of its main characteristics: suicide

the continuity of a mostly western, revolutio-

attacks, execution of hostages, targeting civil-

A radical Christian crusader who wants to

nary millenarianism that has turned away

ians; these are all tactics that have been put

fight Muslims does not need to enter into a

from the concept of establishing a new and

into practice recently by other organisations

terrorist organisation: he can just enlist into

just society. The new movements are pro-

before AQ: The Tamil Tigers used suicide

the US air force and become a fighter-

foundly sceptical about building a good

attacks, the Italian extreme right (Bologna

bomber pilot. It is well documented in the US

society, hence their suicidal dimension (also

bombings in August 1980), the Italian Red

media that the Colorado Springs US Air force

to be found with the RAF).

brigades: if you look at the video of the exe-

Academy is a hotbed of Christian evan-

cution of foreign hostages by AQ in Iraq, it

gelicalism (at the expense, by the way, of

Question: Today, some Europeans main-

follows precisely the “staging” of the exe-

Jewish or atheist cadets, note: Air Force

tain that European culture is essentially

cution of Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades

Removes Chaplain From Post: Officer Decried

a Christian culture, and hence that

(banner and logo of the organisation, hostage

Evangelicals’ Influence, By T.R. Reid,

everything Islamic is problematic and

hand-cuffed and blindfolded, a group of “mil-

Washington Post Friday, May 13, 2005)

alien for Europe.What do you think of this position?

itants” staging a mock trial, the pronouncement of a “sentence” followed by the exe-

Question: How do you explain the success


of such radical movements or ideologies?

Olivier Roy: They say that at the same time

Are poverty and exclusion really the

as the Popes (Benedict and John Paul) have

reasons for it?

said that Europe is rejecting and ignoring its

By its modus operandi; its form of organi-

Christian roots: the debate on sexual freedom,

sation, its targets (US imperialism), and recruitment (young western educated

Olivier Roy: No, all the research shows that

abortion, gay rights is not setting in opposi-

Muslims or converts to Islam), it is obvious

there is no correlation between poverty and

tion Europeans and the Muslims, but secula-

that AQ is not the expression of a traditional

radicalisation: there are far more Saudis than

rists on one hand (there are some Muslim

Islam (even fundamentalist) but of a recasting

Bangladeshis (in fact almost no Bangladeshis)

secularists) and conservative believers on the

of Islam under the cloak of western revolu-

among the radicals. I think that the present

other hand (whether they be Muslim, Catholic

tionary ideology.

struggle is a continuation of the old fault-line

or orthodox Jews). In fact Europe is highly

of anti-imperialist, third-worldist movements

divided on the topic of its own culture,

Question: Are there similar Christian

against the West and specifically the USA.

between secularists who consider that the

organisations? Can we find a similar

Bin Laden says little about religion, but

Enlightenment (alongside Human rights, free-

development in Christianity?

mentions Che Guevara, colonialism, climate

dom, democracy) to be the real birth certifi-

change etc. It is also clearly a generational

cate of Europe, and the “Christian cultural-

Olivier Roy: It depends what you call

movement: AQ is a “youth” movement of

ists” who consider that the Enligthment also

“Christian” (and that is the same issue for

young people who have split with their

led to communism, atheism and even Nazism.

Islam) and whether violence is motivated

families, their social milieus and are not even

by faith or by political ideology? I argue that

interested in the family’s country of origin.

Question: Is there a real risk of Islamophobia in Europe?

in both cases the motivation is driven far more by ideology (even claiming a religious

There are an astonishing number of converts

legitimacy) than by faith. There has certainly

within AQ, which is now acknowledged

Olivier Roy: The problem is how we define

been “white” western terrorism (the Okla-

but not taken into account. The converts are

Islamophobia: is it simply another term for

homa bombing in 1995, for example). But in

rebels without a cause who would have

racism, and specifically racism against




consider religions as “mere religions”, whatever they say about themselves. The issue is not what Islam says or what the Pope says, but under which conditions a faith community can freely exercise its rights. Governments should contribute to the de-linking between religion and culture, but at the same time reject the multi-culturalist approach of religion in favour of a neutral and strict freedom of religion within the framework of existing laws. Question: In the media we often have A new phenomon: Terror was unknown in Islamic history.

the dialectic of “liberal” vs. “radical” Islam. Is there a “liberal” or “radical”

people with a Muslim name, whatever their

Question: During an interview, you said,

Islam? If we look at the five pillars of

real degree of belonging to a faith community

for example, that the biggest campaign

Islam, is it possible to do the prayer

may be, or is it the rejection of a religion?

against Darwin in Europe was being

”liberally” or “radically”? Is this termino-

There are anti-racist militants who cannot

conducted by a Turkish Muslim using

logy actually applicable on this matter?

stand the veil (as is the case with feminists),

translations of books written by evange-

while there are racist people who do not

lical Americans, with a consequent con-

Olivier Roy: No, I think the mistake is to

oppose the veil (because they already think

vergence of values and norms, and even

consider that in order to be a good citizen, a

that these people are too different from us

the manner in which those religious

believer has to choose a “liberal” theology.

anyway). The issue is complex because we

groups translate their convictions into

The debate on the “reformation” of Islam is

haven’t tried to disentangle two issues:

political action and intervention. How

irrelevant. People who advocate a Muslim

ethnicity and religion.

can the political world find a way to deal

Luther never read Luther: he was not a liberal

with this “drifting, deculturalized and

and quite anti-Semitic incidentally.

Of course in Europe most Muslims have a

globalized religion”?

foreign ethnic background, but the distinction

The ”formatting” of Muslims into a Western

between ethnicity and religion is increasing:

Olivier Roy: I think that today, the ”successful”

environment has nothing to do with theology.

there are converts both ways; there are atheist

religions are the global and deculturalised

It is done by the individual practices and

“Arabs” and “Turks”, and more and more

religions (evangelicalism, salafism, cults, etc)

endeavours of the Muslims themselves by

Muslims want to be acknowledged as

not the traditional churches (the Catholic

attempting to try to reconcile their practices

believers belonging to a faith community, but

Church, in particular). This trend is dominant

within a western environment, in which they

not necessarily as members of a different

now. It does not make sense to fight

find tools to do that (rethinking norms in

cultural community; we need to distinguish

against it, particularly in countries where

terms of values, for instance). In the long

between “ethnic communities” on the one

constitutions prevent the State from inter-

run these changes will certainly translate

hand and “faith communities” on the other,

fering with beliefs. On the contrary I think we

into a theological rethinking, but it does not

because both require a different approach,

should accentuate the separation of church

make sense to associate modernity with

and since “ethnicity” is less and less mean-

and state by implementing full equality

theological liberalism: to think like that

ingful in terms of culture, it is becoming more

between religions, but not on a basis of

means either distorting history or relying on

and more linked with skin colour.

“multi-culturalism”; rather we should

wishful thinking.

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010




If China needed another prompt that the European powers have finally woken up to the fact they were losing the competition for the Africa pie, it came with France’s bid to recapture lost ground in May this year. French President Nicolas Sarkozy presided over the 25th Africa-France summit in Nice where for the first time he tacitly acknowledged the success of China’s expansion in Africa by calling on French businesses to emulate it. Without mentioning China by name, Sarkozy declared it was time for Europe to use infrastructure investment along with development aid and fight to increase its influence in Africa once again. “Africa is our future... the African continent is asserting itself more and more as a major player in The new ‘Big Brother’? African children waving Chinese flags.

international life,” said Sarkozy. “We cannot govern a 21st century world with a 20th century institution.”


The two-day summit, which ended June 1,


underscored Europe’s new drive to step up its investment in Africa and imitate China’s

In times of an obvious shift of economical and political influence from the Western hemisphere to the East of Asia, Africa has become to the staging-ground of a new competition. In order to counter Chinese influence, France’s president Sarkozy invited African leaders to an AfricanFrench summit in the town of Nice. Bejing has – in terms of hotly debated political issues – proven itself as less demanding to the African

successful formula of undertaking infrastructure projects and supporting private investment to win hearts and minds.To make his message heard Sarkozy had invited executives of some of France’s leading companies:Areva, the country’s nuclear giant, oil giant Total, France Telecom, Veolia, the world’s largest water supply company and others. “This summit is meant to bring policy and reality closer and facilitate French businesses to expand in Africa,” says Anna Stahl, researcher with the Institute for European

governments then its Western counterparts. So

Studies of Vrije Universiteit in Brussels.

it is less than sure they will return into the

“European Union (EU) businesses have been

political fold of its former colonial masters.

companies that enjoy the backing of the

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010

reluctant to engage in Africa and Chinese


state have had the advantage. Now France

“China’s behaviour in Africa plays by the rules

Chinese mining companies in Zambia and

wants to lend support to its companies and

set by western powers themselves,” said an

other African countries that have been found

redress the situation.” While EU policy

article in the Chinese edition of Global Times.

to use obsolete and highly-polluting equip-

towards Africa has always featured an econo-

“While no western government can speak

ment that has been banned inside China by

mic aspect, the model of preferential trade

out publicly against China’s investment in

the country’s new stringent environmental

combined with aid was dominant, according

the continent they have mobilised the media


to Stahl. “Now the discourse has become

and various non-governmental organisations

more pragmatic,” she says.

to find faults with China.”

Calls were heard too about the need to rethink China’s quest to control energy assets in Africa

The change is dictated by the staggering

‘The 21st Century China-Africa Investment

that is fuelling anti-Chinese perceptions.

figures of China’s expansion in Africa.A recent

and Cooperation Forum’, held in Beijing on

China’s re-examination of its practices in

report in China’s ‘21st Century Business

May 28, revealed China was shifting gears to

Africa comes at a time when the EU is

Herald’ newspaper said China’s direct

engage more players in its dealings with

wrestling to clarify its own position towards

investment in Africa has increased more than

African countries, courting relations with

China’s expansion on the continent.

ten-fold, jumping from a modest 80 million

commercial associations and social groups

US dollars in 2003 to 1.36 billion dollars in

beyond the immediate ruling elites.

2009. At the 2009 Forum on China-Africa

Two years ago the EU approached Beijing with a trilateral initiative on Africa, suggesting

Cooperation (FOCAC) held in the resort town

“The Chinese media needs to ‘go out’ too

China and the EU should work on a partner-

of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, Beijing com-

and explain to African people what China’s

ship basis that involved Africa as an equal

mitted to 10 billion dollars in low-cost loans

development model is all about,” Xie Boyang,

partner. But the response from Beijing has

and an additional one billion dollars in loans

vice-chairman of the China-Africa Business

been lukewarm. “They don’t see the trilateral

to support the growth of small and medium

Council, was quoted as saying at the forum.

initiative as their own,” says Stahl. “They

African enterprises.

Xie claimed the absence of Chinese media in

worry that agreeing to it could be interpreted

Africa meant that its investment there was

by the Africans as if China and the EU are

At about the same time that President Sarkozy

being misrepresented by western media as

negotiating over their heads.” (IPS)

was meeting African leaders in Nice, China

“the return of colonialism”. But some of the

was holding its own seminar on how to

participants in the forum also spoke about the

Text By Antoaneta Becker

counter negative perceptions about its rise in Africa. Recent official media reports have

Now a usual sight: Chinese business in the streets of Khartoum, Sudan.

been full of headlines like “the West envies China’s sway in Africa” (the Global Times) and “China and the West spar over diplomatic ethics in Africa” (Xinhua news agency’s website). Chinese companies have encountered upsets in several African countries where they have invested to gain valuable assets – being accused of turning a blind eye to corruption and violating local laws. All this has fuelled a climate of suspicion in China that the West is waging a covert war to frustrate China’s expansion in Africa.





The question of the status of the Western Sahara is seldom heard in the Western media, or at least not since the 1980s. But in Morocco, which since 1975’s legendary ‘Green March’ has considered the Western Sahara part of its own country, all the issues relating to that disputed territory are as current as they ever have been. Indeed they are explosive geopolitical issues. And yet political progress remains extremely sluggish. Many experts agree that the most promising prospect for solving the Western Sahara question remains the Autonomy Plan proposed by Morocco in 2007. To understand the conflict it is necessary to

Spain on how the area would be returned

look back a little. The area known today as

began in 1965, with the UN supporting

the Western Sahara was appropriated by

Morocco. What was at issue was the future

Spain in the course of Morocco’s colonial

status of the region. A trend soon emerged,

occupation. The Western Sahara is extremely

apparently instigated by Spain and later

sparsely populated, with an estimated

Algeria, amounting to equating self-deter-

500,000 people living there.Traditionally these

mination with independence – in other words,

have been nomadic tribes of mixed Berber and

a movement towards the independence of

Arab descent, known as the Hassani, to which

the Western Sahara. The Moroccans, on the

are added a large number of settlers from the

other hand, stuck by the position that what

Moroccan heartland. The Western Sahara is

was at stake was a territorial, legal conflict

largely desertified.The most important natural

between them and Spain, not a matter of

resource is phosphate, while others such as


oil and uranium are thought to exist. The Spanish position was based on the claim Since the decolonialisation of Morocco, the

that the Western Sahara before Spanish

status of the Western Sahara has been the

occupation was kind of no-man’s land, a terra

subject of constant dispute. Negotiations with

nullius, while Morocco and also Mauretania

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


made legal claims to the country – claims

has failed through disagreement as to the

which in Morocco’s case were basically

way voters would be identified.

recognised by the UN. British author Toby Shelley has criticised the In 1975, following a unilateral attempt by

UN Security Council’s overall lack of

Spain to hold a referendum, Morocco

determination to find a solution to the

mobilised everything in its power against

problem. Nevertheless, Shelley believes that

what it called the “Spanish-Algerian project

many presently want stability in the region

of a puppet state”. Morocco cited the position

(especially the USA), which could be one

of the International Court that it held a

reason why the matter has begun to move

legitimate legal claim to the area, and called

again lately.

on Spain to enter new negotiations. Morocco proposed its autonomy solution in The ‘Green March’, which was announced on

April 2007, which was presented to the UN

16 October 1975 and involved the peaceful

Security Council. The UN then requested the

occupation of the area by Moroccan civilians,

parties involved to enter into direct,

was designed to force these negotiations into

unconditional negotiation.Also in April 2007,

play; and negotiations indeed began – but

the UN Security Council passed Resolution

failed. There then followed a legendary

1754, which called on Morocco and the

phase of conflict over the country. On 6

Polisario to negotiate; this was extended to

November 1975, the ‘Green March’ began

October 2007 by the UN peace mission

with around 350,000 volunteers, an event

MINURSO.As a result, a total of four meetings

still deeply ingrained in the collective memory

between the two sides were held under

of the Moroccan populace.

United Nations patronage at Manhasset near New York, but results were not forthcoming.

The conflict threatened to escalate. Algeria

Furthermore, the mission of the UN General

began to arm the Polisario movement, sta-

Secretary’s Personal Envoy, Peter van Walsum,

tioned some of its own troops in parts of the

ended on 21 August 2008, with a successor

Western Sahara, and created what was known

yet to be named.

as the SADR, a kind of Polisario governmentin-exile, in the border town of Tindouf.

The UN mission was most recently extended

Morocco managed to keep the Polisario at bay

up until 30 April 2010. Morocco has proposed

militarily throughout the 1980s, partially by

far-reaching autonomy while preserving

the construction of massive protective walls

Moroccan sovereignty, while the Polisario

along the cease-fire line to prevent the

insist on a completely independent state and

Polisario from penetrating. Armed conflict

accuse the UN mediator of being partisan to

dragged on from 1975 to 1991. But in political

Morocco.While the situation remains difficult,

terms the situation is still today one of dead-

the Moroccan Autonomy Plan still seems the

lock, with a large number of Sahrawis still

best solution to the conflict.

living in refugee camps around Tindouf. Abdel Hamid El Ouali, a professor at Since the end of the armed conflict, every

Casablanca University’s Faculty of Law, in

effort to hold a referendum on independence

his highly recommended book ‘Saharan




Image: AP Images

on the possibility of independence. What is needed now is a new vision. El Ouali even suggests the development of a more cooperative, regionalised Maghrib similar to the European Union, a kind of ‘Maghrib of Regions’. Abdel Hamid El Ouali represents the view that the Moroccan autonomy offer goes even further than the Lund Recommendations regarding the regulating of autonomy published by the OSCE in 1998, and other applicable standards, and that an Autonomous Region of the Sahara would enjoy powers that even the most advanced autonomous regions do not have, like Greenland, the Faroe Islands, the Aland Islands and Catalonia. According to the Moroccan plan, the population of what would become known as the Autonomous Region of the Sahara would govern themselves on democratic principles,

Muhammad VI, King of Morocco, during his first visit in the Western Sahara.

with legislative, executive, and legal bodies. The powers of the autonomous region would

Conflict. Towards territorial autonomy as a

to independence or complete integration into

lie principally in the following areas: local

right to democratic self-determination’ has

the Moroccan state.

administration of the region, local police forces and jurisdictions; in the economic

produced a convincing portrayal of the way the conflict developed and the great oppor-

Secondly, he continues, independence has

sector overseeing the fields of economic

tunity represented by the 2007 Moroccan

always been the wrong approach to the

development, regional planning, promotion

Autonomy Plan. El Ouali basically sees three

Western Sahara, since Morocco does indeed

of investment, trade, industry, tourism and

reasons why the Autonomy Plan was received

have legitimate legal claims to the territory.

agriculture; the region’s budgetary and tax

positively, including by the UN.

And thirdly, the highly developed Moroccan

affairs; infrastructure (such as water, hydraulic

Autonomy Plan was, he claims, very convin-

plants, electricity, public services and trans-

Firstly, he says, there is a general paradigm-

cing for a variety of reasons. El Ouali speaks

port; in the social sector things like housing

shift away from concepts of total state inde-

of “the end of the paradigm that self-

construction, education, health, work, sports,

pendence for regions with ethnic minorities

determination means independence.”

social welfare and social security; the environ-

within existing states, since states formed

ment sector; and cultural life on issues such

that way often cause instability, not only

However, the so-called freedom-movement

as the promotion of the Saharan cultural

internally but also in respect to other

Polisario, which is supported by Algeria and

heritage of the Hassani.

countries, with them usually struggling or

headquartered in the Algerian town of

failing to sustain their independent existence.

Tindouf, still clings to the goal of complete

The above represent altogether a larger scope

More realistic and preferable, he says – and

independence. The Polisario was sceptical

than that proposed by the OSCE’s Lund

he includes the case of the Western Sahara

about Morocco’s autonomy offer from the

recommendations, which, for instance, did

in this – is territorial autonomy as opposed

outset, since it did not include a referendum

not encompass jurisdiction or taxes. The

GLOBALIA | Edition 01 | December 2007


exclusive jurisdiction of the Moroccan state

lie with a Head of Government, who would

Morocco at opportune moments.Algeria, says

would however remain in the following areas:

represent the Moroccan state in the region

El Ouali, should rather show more under-

symbols of sovereignty, in particular the flag,

and would be answerable to the King. He

standing for the maintenance of stability in

national anthem and currency; symbols of

would form the region’s cabinet and nominate

the region, in the interests of its own internal

the King’s constitutional and religious

the ministers, and would be responsible for

identity issues and ethnic regionalism.

authority as Commander of the Faithful and

answering questions from the regional

guarantor of freedom of worship as well as

parliament and populace.

He claims that the Moroccan Autonomy Plan is an effective way of taking regional identities

individual and collective freedoms together with foreign relations and the juridical order

The Head of Government would be elected

into account without encouraging the

of the Kingdom.

by the local parliament. His relationship to the

separatist tendencies that would be

central government and King would be of a

destructive to the region.“That is the greatest

And yet even in its foreign relations, the

somewhat symbolic nature and would aim to

danger to threaten Maghribi territoriality,

autonomous region would be included in

demonstrate the unity of the Moroccan state;

with ethno-nationalism having become a

issues that affect it directly. Moreover, the

but his influence on the actual work of the

distraction to and an outlet for the serious

Sahara would even be given the possibility,

autonomous government would be minimal.

problems affecting modern societies, aiming not for the take-over of power, but for the

with the approval of the government, of entering into cooperation with foreign regions

The Autonomous Sahara would also have its

disintegration of the state with a view to

in order to further international exchange

own courts to rule on disputes relating to

creating new state entities. The country that

and collaboration. Any powers not clearly

autonomous government decisions – again

seems best armed to face this eventuality is

defined would be regulated according to the

something that goes beyond the Lund recom-

Morocco,” El Ouali sums up.

‘subsidiary principle’ – in other words, with

mendations. The laws, ordinances and court

preference for the autonomous region over

rulings issued by the Autonomous Sahara

This is so, he says, firstly because of Morocco’s

central government, something in which the

would have to comply with the region’s

strong national cohesion in spite of the diver-

Autonomy Plan once again exceeds the Lund

autonomy statutes and the Moroccan

sity of its population, and secondly because

recommendations. The Sahara would also

constitution. And finally, the population of

of advances in its democratisation, which

have its own financial sources from regional

the Sahara would be represented in Morocco’s

have amounted to more codetermination for

taxes, income from the exploitation of natural

parliament and other institutions, and take

local and cultural communities. Finally there

resources, funds from internal settlements,

part in national elections.

is the culture of consensus, developed over centuries in Morocco. Strong national integra-

and income from regional productive investments. It is these fiscal aspects that reveal the

Abdel Hamid El Ouali sees the new Moroccan

tion is important for the strength of a state,

true extent of the Moroccan Autonomy Plan.

understanding of self-determination, as

and essential if the region is not to slide into

expressed in the Autonomy Plan, as post-

ethnic chaos. El Ouali also calls for an end to

A parliament, a government and jurisdictional

modern, while considering the Algerian

the conflict between Morocco and Algeria,

bodies are envisaged for the Autonomous

approach as backward and outdated since

and for closer cooperation between the

Sahara. The parliament would consist of

aimed solely at state independence,

Maghribi nations. One possible approach to

members from the various Sahrawi tribes as

something which, as explained, often leads

that would be a five-year moratorium on a

well as members from the regional popula-

to instability and is contrary to the general

solution to the Sahara question, aiming at

tion as a whole, and an appropriate represen-

trend towards globalisation.

identifying a common policy for regionalisation within an Arab/Maghrib Union.This in

tation of women on the parliament would also be ensured. So the body would be chosen

According to El Ouali, there are now doubts

turn could lead to the stabilisation of the

by means of free, democratic elections while

as to whether Algeria is interested in any sort

whole region and its diverse ethnicities.

taking into account the differentiated tribal

of solution at all, it perhaps preferring to keep

mosaic of the Region. The executive would

the conflict open as a lever to be used against

Text By Yasin Alder





When India went nuclear soon after playing a crucial role in dismembering Pakistan in 1971 and after having enjoyed an overwhelming conventional military superiority, Pakistan was left with no other choice but to develop a nuclear deterrent to ward off future Indian threats. The US invasion of Afghanistan provided another opening for the Indo-Israeli nexus to target Pakistan’s strategic assets. This time the strategy used was to present it as unstable and incapable of defending itself against extremist religious insurgents, creating the spectre of both Islamabad and its nuclear assets falling into enemy hands.

The Indian detonation of a nuclear device in

bomb a ‘Hindu Bomb’, the American and

no other choice but to develop a nuclear

1974 drew only a customary “show of

British bomb a ‘Christian Bomb’ or the Soviet

deterrent to ward off future Indian threats.

concern” from the Western powers. But

bomb a ‘Communist’ [or an Atheist] Bomb’.

Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto vowed to

Pakistan’s nuclear programme, initiated in

The West simply used Pakistan’s bomb to

make a nuclear bomb.

response to the Indian acquisition of

make Islam synonymous with aggression and

nuclear weapons, evoked immediate and

make its nuclear programme a legitimate

Soon however, both he and the nuclear

“serious concern” from the same quarters.

target, knowing full well that it merely served

programme were to become non-grata. Amid

Ever since, Pakistan has been under immense

a defensive purpose and was not even

intense pressure, sanctions and vilification

pressure to scrap its programme while the

remotely associated with Islam.

campaigns, Henry Kissinger personally delivered to a defiant Bhutto the American

Indians remain relatively uncensored. With India going nuclear soon after playing

threat: “Give up your nuclear programme or

That the Western attitude was discriminatory

a crucial role in the dismemberment of

else we will make a horrible example of you.”

can be seen by the religious colouring it gave

Pakistan in 1971 and after having enjoyed

to Pakistan’s bomb in the calling it an ‘Islamic

an overwhelming conventional military

Indeed a horrible example was made of

bomb’. One has never heard of the Israeli

superiority over Pakistan to the ratio of 4:1,

Bhutto for his defiance. But he had enabled

bomb being called a ‘Jewish Bomb’, the Indian

a resource-strapped Pakistan was left with

Pakistan to become the 7th nuclear power in

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


Text By Shahid R. Siddiqi

the world. This served Pakistan well. India

Israel’s apprehension of Pakistan’s military

shattering the invincibility myth of Israeli

was kept at bay despite temptations for

prowess is rooted in the weight Pakistan

pilots who believed themselves to be far

military adventurism. Although there has

indirectly provides to Arab states with whom

superior in skill and technology.The Pakistanis

never been real peace in South Asia, at least

Israel has remained in a state of conflict.

happened to be assigned to the Jordanian,

there has been no war since 1971.

Conscious that several Arab states look up

Syrian and Iraqi air forces on training missions

to Pakistan for military support in the event

when the war broke out and, unknown to the

Ignoring its security perspective, Pakistan’s

of threat to their security from Israel, it is

Israelis then, they undertook combat missions

Western ‘friends’ refused to admit the country

unsettling for Israel to see a nuclear-armed


to their exclusive nuclear club, though expe-

Pakistan. After successfully destroying the Iraqi nuclear

diency led them to ignore its ‘crime’ when it suited their purposes. However, prompted by

Israel neither can overlook the fact that

reactor in 1981, Israelis planned a similar

identical geo-strategic interests in their

Pakistan’s military is a match to its own. The

attack on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities at

respective regions and seeing Pakistan as an

PAF pilots surprised Israeli Air Force, when

Kahuta in collusion with India. Using satellite

obstacle to their designs, Israel and India

flying mostly Russian aircraft they shot down

pictures and intelligence information, Israel

missed no opportunity to malign or subvert

several relatively superior Israeli aircraft in

reportedly built a full-scale mock-up of the

Pakistan’s programme.

air combat in the 1973 Arab-Israel war,

Kahuta facility in the Negev Desert where




pilots of F-16 and F-15 squadrons practiced

nuclear reactor in the Negev Desert. India

mock attacks.

was also warned that Islamabad would attack Trombay if Kahuta facilities were hit.

has ensured absence of war in the region. The US invasion of Afghanistan provided another opening for the Indo-Israeli nexus to

According to ‘The Asian Age’, London journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-

The above quoted book also claims that,

target Pakistan’s strategic assets.This time the

Clark stated in their book ‘Deception:

“Prime Minister Indira Gandhi eventually

strategy was to present Pakistan as an

Pakistan, the US and the Global Weapons

aborted the operation despite protests from

unstable state, incapable of defending itself

Conspiracy’, that the Israeli Air Force was to

military planners in New Delhi and

against extremist religious insurgents, creating

launch an air attack on Kahuta in the mid


the spectre of Islamabad and its nuclear assets falling into their hands. Suggestions

1980s from Jamnagar airfield in Gujarat (India). The book claims, “In March 1984,

McNair’s paper No 41, published by the USAF

are being floated that Pakistan, being at risk

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed off the

Air University (“India Thwarts Israeli Destruc-

of succumbing to extremists should have

Israeli-led operation bringing India, Pakistan

tion of Pakistan’s “Islamic Bomb”), confirmed

its nuclear assets disabled, seized or forcibly

and Israel to within a hair’s breadth of

this plan. It said,“Israeli interest in destroying

taken out by the US. Alternatively, an inter-

nuclear conflagration.”

Pakistan’s Kahuta reactor to scuttle the

national agency should take them over for

“Islamic bomb” was blocked by India’s


Another report claims that Israel also

refusal to grant landing and refuelling

planned an air strike directly out of Israel.

rights to Israeli warplanes in 1982.”

Pakistan has determinedly thwarted the terrorist threat and foiled this grand

After mid-way and mid-air refueling, Israeli warplanes were to shoot down a commercial

Clearly India wanted to see Kahuta gone but

conspiracy. The terrorists have either been

airline flight over the Indian Ocean that

did not want to face retaliation at the hands

eliminated or are on the run. Pakistan has

would arrive into Islamabad in the early

of the PAF. Israel, for its part wanted this to

made it clear that it would act decisively

morning, then by flying in a tight formation

be a joint Indo-Israeli strike to avoid being

against any attempt from any quarter to harm

to appear as one large aircraft on radar

held solely responsible.

its nuclear assets. But if the game is taken to another level, the consequences will be

screens to prevent detection, and using the

disastrous for the region.

downed airliner’s call sign to enter

The Reagan administration also hesitated to

Islamabad air space, intended to knock out

support the plan because Pakistan’s dis-

Kahuta and fly out to Jammu to refuel and

traction at that juncture would have hurt

The Indo-Israeli nexus is losing initiative, but


American interests in Afghanistan, at a time

as long as the American umbrella is available

when Pakistan was steering the Afghan

Afghanistan will remain a playground for

resistance against the Soviets.

mischief mongers. It is now up to the US to

According to reliable reports this mission

walk its talk and prove its claim that it wants

was actually launched one night. But the Israelis were in for a big surprise. They

Although plans to hit Kahuta were shelved,

to see a secure and stable Pakistan. It must

discovered that the Pakistan Air Force had

the diatribe against Pakistan’s nuclear pro-

pull the plug on conspiracies to destabilize

already sounded the alert and had taken to

gramme continued unabated. Israel used its


the skies in anticipation of this attack. The

control over the American political establish-

mission had to be hurriedly aborted.

ment and western media to create hysteria.

Shahid Siddiqi served in the Pakistan Air Force

India too worked extensively to promote

and later held senior positions in the corporate

Pakistan reminded the Israelis that Pakistan

paranoia, branding Pakistan’s programme as

sector in Pakistan, USA and South Africa. He

was no Iraq and that the PAF was not the Iraqi

unsafe, insecure and a threat to peace.

also worked as a journalist and had a long association with radio and television. He is

Air Force. Pakistan is reported to have conveyed that an attack on Kahuta would

The fact is otherwise. It is technically sounder,

now a freelance columnist and writes on

force Pakistan to lay waste to Dimona, Israel’s

safer and more secure than that of India and

political and geopolitical issues.

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010





Text By Abu Bakr Rieger

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s leading socialist politician, visiting a Muslim Community.

The Muslims living in Germany are perhaps


its most important minority. Many of these


citizens now have German citizenship, or were even born in Germany. Furthermore there is also a considerable number of German

It always pays to revisit the declared fringes and

converts to Islam, but ever since the 11th of

examine the true situation of the minorities

September 2001, the Muslims in Germany

there. Germany is witnessing the re-emergence

Considered objectively, Muslims in Germany

of a new racism, one which seeks to deny Muslims the description of being “German” – not

have been the subject of serious controversy. carry very little political weight in the capital Berlin and from the Muslim perspective the current governing party, the CDU/CSU, has little to recommend it.

least those born in Germany. The issues that motivate those disturbed by Is Germany systematically opposed to

And yet to understand the true state of a

this significant minority could not be more

Islam? Of course Germany is a consti-

society it always pays to revisit its declared

different, ranging from a general animosity

tutional state under the rule of law, or

fringes and examine the true situation of

towards religion by radical secularists, all the

Rechtsstaat as the Germans call it, with

the minorities. Since Germany is very partial

way to a genuine concern in some sectors of

a functional system for the protection

to lecturing the rest of the world on human

government that millions of Muslims could

of minorities, with a free press and all

rights and the protection of minorities,

some day form a kind of parallel society.

the concomitant possibilities for the free

there should in principal be no objection to

formation of opinion.

a bit of critical self-reflection.

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010

And, sad to say, Germany is also witnessing


the re-emergence of a new racism, which

Affairs, did organise the Islam Conference, a

recent years.The so-called Verfassungsschutz

seeks to deny these Muslims the description

consultative body aimed at improving

offices, which define themselves as protecting

of being “German”, even those born in

relations between the government and

the constitution, liken Islamism to left and

Germany. One should bear in mind that


right-wing ideologies. In doing this the

the subject of Ausländerfeindlichkeit, or

authorities barely differentiate between

xenophobia, widely discussed prior to


modernist, traditional or orthodox Islamic

11.09.01, has now mysteriously disappeared

Of course the mass media has a key effect in

positions, although they do recognise such

from the public discourse.

shaping public opinion about a minority. The

differentiating aspects when assessing

generality of Muslims inside Germany are

Judaism or Christianity, expressing few

The way these new citizens are dealt with is

regularly associated with extreme misfits

objections to their orthodoxy or fundamen-

of course determined to a large extent by

(‘honour’-killers, terrorists), and sometimes

talism and subjecting them to scant public

political parties, media, the intelligence

with bizarre criminal acts.These associations


services, and the spectrum of NGOs. An

have a devastating public impact. The

poignant question on how minorities are dealt

contradictory term “Islamic” terrorism has

The “broad” and “controversial” term

with in practical terms is to ask whether

been effectively established by majority

‘Islamism’ is differentiated in terms of how

institutions and societal forces possess the

media, and has never been corrected by the

willing certain groups are to resort, if at all,

minimum level of fairness and neutrality.

publication of surveys that prove that

to violence, and yet committed Muslims who

This is crucial since the interplay between

terrorism today has the greatest impact of all

do not see themselves as Islamists find

these societal forces can potentially bring

on the Muslims themselves.

themselves easily falling into dossiers that overlap with mass murderers and criminals.

about a kind of systemic approach which effectively dismantles a nation’s very

Furthermore, the mass media offers a broad

Publications of these details amount to a de

protection of its minorities – even if it is not

and regular forum for vehement and some-

facto expulsion of Muslim communities and

what was originally intended.

times polemical critics of Islam, whereas

individuals from the relevant sectors of

Muslim or pro-Islamic authors nowhere gain

public life in Germany. Of course, Muslims

Political Parties

anywhere near the same regular access to

are also disadvantaged in Germany from

Considered objectively, Muslims in Germany

mass media. In the mass media, the clear

other angles, encapsulated in the following

carry very little political weight in Berlin. As

balance of power between majority and

problematic topics.:

mentioned, from the Muslim point of view

minority enables the domination of terms

there are reservations, especially with the

and definitions, made through the evaluation

The Terrorism Debate

current governing party, the CDU/CSU.

of the the nature of beliefs as either ”modern”

Of course, the discovery of terrorist plans by

Practising Muslims have hardly ever been

or “conservative” or applying the problem-

Muslim extremists has caused quite a

promoted within the structures of other

atic differentiation between Muslims and

sensation in Germany. It is regularly suggested

parties either, nor have any prominent

Islamists, and forming politically powerful

that the “Islamist scene”, defined publicly in

Muslims so far been able to secure relevant

terms such as “Islamism”.

the vaguest of terms, could descend at any time into terrorism and extremism. The state

seats in parliament. On a local and national level, the conservative party also profiles itself

The Verfassungsschutz

of Lower Saxony has been criticised for

against “Muslim” Turkey gaining the EU

Like other citizens in Germany, Muslims also

monitoring mosques about which no

membership. In this respect critics acknow-

fear attacks and support the investigation of

suspicions exist, something they declare to be

ledge that the CDU, itself undergoing an

such intentions. As well as having national

a precautionary measure against potential

identity crisis, is attempting to reclaim its own

intelligence authorities, Germany also has a

terrorists. Civil liberty campaigners are now

conservative profile by adopting a rhetoric

security branch for each federal state. The

worried that the population will gradually

against Islam. On the other hand, Wolfgang

security apparatus which deals with the

become accustomed to a process leading up

Schäuble, the former CDU Minister of Home

“Islamist” threat has grown enormously over

to a permanent state of emergency. Dozens




of warnings of possible attacks also influenced

debate with the anti-Semitism of the 19th

the latest parliamentary elections. In fact,


undercover informers operating on behalf of Western security services have been involved

Organisational Sovereignty

in numerous terrorist conspiracies. What is

Of course, government parties possess an

contentious in this respect is not the logical

organisational sovereignty legitimised by

necessity to investigate conspiracies using

elections. However, when it comes to the way

undercover agents, it is the extent to which

Muslims are dealt with in Germany, this right

advanced conspiracies are only possible given

of the majority has certain difficult aspects.

the actions of undercover elements.

Muslims and their organisations have had to date barely any say in the composition of

The Logic of Immigration

important consultative gatherings such as

Many active and widely promoted critics of

the Islam Conference. In the training of Imams,

Islam in Germany insist that Islam is foreign

teaching posts have been awarded to Muslims

and backward-looking, and negate the

who are proven outsiders, so that the minority

possibility that Muslim positions might

is effectively represented by a minority within

develop and adapt in accordance with the

the minority. Many important German

changes of a technologically defined world.

organisational bodies such as Rundfunkrat

German Muslims, especially those Germans

(Broadcasting Council), one of whose tasks

who have entered Islam, are described in

is to ensure that minority rights are protected

public discourse not only as “confused

in the media, contain no Muslim represen-

misfits” or discredited as “radicals”, they are

tatives at all.

more and more frequently made responsible

actively relativise that claim to truth which

for a series of grievances in the Islamic world


defines every religion. We must not underes-

as a whole. In this way, the idea that

Perhaps the most alarming intellectual

timate the danger of a majority society

most Muslims are merely guests in Germany

phenomenon to impact on the way Muslims

creating an Islam which it finds “pleasant”.

is reinforced in public. Sometimes it is even

are accommodated in Germany is the active

claimed that German Muslims ought not to

polarisation of the Muslim community.

The public debate has led not only to a

be accommodated until minorities are given

Muslims are by nature obliged to avoid

growing level of discrimination in everyday

similar rights in all Islamic countries.

extremes and not to gather on extreme

life, but also to a de facto professional ban

positions. Today in Germany, idealised

on Muslim woman who wear a headscarf.

The public confusion between culture and

concepts of “especially good” and ”especially

There are also growing fears that the German

Islam is almost systematically propagated,

bad” Muslims are widely promoted. “Bad”

public could be stirred up to a new kind of

despite the fact that a large number of

Muslims are what justify the burgeoning

friend-or-foe way of thinking about the

Europeans are themselves Muslims. Simi-

security apparatus and the latent mistrust of

Muslim minority in the country.

larly, the fate of Muslims who have been

all Muslims, while “good” Muslims, beyond

murdered in Europe or the existence of

all suspicion, are required to make constant

There are many reasons to defend our nation

significant Muslim societies on the

statements exposing their quasi-secular

against indiscriminate attacks – a nation

continent, are barely mentioned and

position. Under the pressure of extremism,

which we, like all other citizens, acknowledge.

sometimes even denied. One well-known

more and more ordinary Muslims are avoiding

But there are also good reasons to criticise

German sociologist was recently attacked

the public eye. There is a danger that in

loudly the way Germany treats its Muslim

as an anti-Semite because he compared

Germany, in the long term, public debate, as

minority before an unintentional systemic

stereotypes of Germany’s current public

well as academia, will only accept those who

approach mutates into a full-blown system.

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010




GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


were destroying the coral reefs. But when


the guidance came from the Qur’an, there


was a notable change in behaviour. Or in Indonesia and in Malaysia, where former poachers are being deterred in the same way

Under ideal circumstances, profound existential

from destroying the last remaining tigers,”

challenges bring people together – whatever their

said the future British monarch, who in recent

backgrounds. And there can be few crises to

ecological thinking in his country.

match the ecological one, with all its implications, that fit that description so aptly, since we are all affected by it whatever our personal convictions. More and more people, including pioneering thinkers in the field of ecology, are recognising the perhaps life-saving potential of right action

years has made substantial contributions to

The royal heir and the ecological question Prince Charles, whose quest for alternatives to ecological annihilation has made him critical of modernist ideologies and their destructive consequences, has quite naturally examined Islam in his search for answers. HRH Prince Charles is the heir to the British throne and therefore potentially the future

by Muslims in this regard.

king of Great Britain.

“These are all very real problems and

Its organisers are also busy in other Muslim

English Muslim veteran activist Fazlun Khalid

they are facts – all of them, the obvious

countries raising awareness of ecological

is the founder of the internationally acclaimed

results of the comprehensive industria-

issues among Muslim populations.The project

Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environ-

lisation of life. But what is less obvious

on Zanzibar, which has received world-wide

mental Sciences (IFEES). In recent years he has

is the attitude and general outlook which

acclaim, was the first ever in which environ-

made a name for himself as a pioneering

perpetuate this dangerously destructive

mental ethics derived from the Qur’an were

Muslim thinker in the field of environmental

approach. It is an approach that acts


protection, giving talks at prestigious events all around the world.

contrary to the teachings of each and every one of the world’s sacred traditions,

The Zanzibari fishermen stopped dynamiting

including Islam.”

coral reefs soon after they participated in the

Fazlun Khalid is a primary contact for

first workshop on Islam and Conservation in

international institutions and professional

1998. Before that they had been decimating

NGOs when it comes to a Muslim response

Recently the heir to the British throne gave

fish and coral stocks by using dynamite to

to ecological challenges. His core thesis is

a keynote speech on ‘the relationship

secure their means of living.

that there is a relationship between the

(HRH, Prince Charles of Wales)

ecological crisis and a globally unsustainable

between Islam and the environment’ at the

monetary architecture.

Sheldonian Theatre in the famous British

“Working in Muslim countries, the World

university city of Oxford. In this talk, the son

Wildlife Fund has found that trying to convey

of the reigning monarch mentioned a specific

the importance of conservation is much easier

Success in Zanzibar

Muslim eco-project run by the Islamic

if it is transmitted by religious leaders whose

“The impulse for our Zanzibar project was the

Foundation for Ecology and Environmental

reference is Qur’anic teaching. In Zanzibar,

fact that the fisherman there were dyna-

Sciences (IFEES) on the island of Zanzibar

they had had little success trying to reduce

miting the coral reefs because they were

east of the African coast.

spear-fishing and the use of dragnets, which

not getting enough fish. As a result the




Money growth: an ecological disaster

Rising global wealth spells disaster for the planet, with environmental impacts growing roughly 80 percent with a doubling of income, so reports the first comprehensive study of consumption. It adds to the mountain of evidence that the gospel of economic growth must be urgently transformed into the new gospel of resource-efficient green economies, a U.N. panel of experts panel concluded in Berlin. What are the biggest planetary criminals? Fossil fuel use and agriculture, the study found.

loped countries by through the import ofing

“Setting priorities would seem prudent and

Ironically, these are also the two most heavily

goods and food from those countries. In a

sensible in order to fast track a low-carbon,

subsidised sectors, noted Ernst von Weizsaecker

spiral of destructive co-dependency, China’s

resource-efficient green economy,” said Achim

of Norwegian University of Science and Tech-

rising CO2 emissions and deforestation in

Steiner, UNEP’s executive director, which

nology, and co-chair of the International Panel

Malaysia are in part a direct result of North

hosted the panel. “Decoupling growth from

for Sustainable Resource Management. “In

American and European consumption of the

environmental degradation is the number one

the case of CO2, a doubling of wealth typically

goods made there. “International trade clearly

challenge facing governments,” Steiner said in

increases environmental pressure 60 to 80 per

shows rich countries are outsourcing their

a statement. However, this decoupling is not

cent, sometimes more in emerging economies,”

impacts,” von Weizsaecker said.

happening, the report shows. And it will not happen in the future without strong policy

von Weizsaecker said in an interview. At the household level, it is the goods and

interventions, said von Weizsaecker.

Rising affluence has also triggered a shift in

services consumed, not the fossil fuel used for

diets towards meat and dairy products so that

cars or homes, that accounts for most the bulk

Politicians and economists have to abandon

livestock now consumes much of the world’s

of the environmental impacts. This is despite

their obsession with economic growth as the

crops and indirectly consumes 70 per cent of

energy and material efficiency gains over the

solution to all problems, wrote Clive Hamilton

the fresh water and produce contributes to

past two decades. Efficiency, which has

in his book “Requiem for a Species”. Growth

much of the fertiliser pollution, von Weizsaecker

improved on a per dollar expenditure basis, but

has become a powerful symbol of modernity

said from Brussels.The report “Environmental

people are consuming more, which drowns

even though it is neither, says Hamilton, a

Impacts of Consumption and Production:

out any efficiency gains, said panel expert

writer and academic at the Australian National

Priority Products and Materials”, was released

Sangwon Suh of the University of California,

University. If someone is murdered, about one

by the European Commission in Brussels.

Santa Barbara.“Policy makers cannot just look

million dollars to the GDP of rich countries

at direct emissions, they need to look at the

when costs of police, courts, and prisons are

The study also found that rich countries are

full life cycle of their consumption patterns

factored in, according to his research.“Murder

now “exporting” most or a large part or most

and incorporate those their impacts into their

is good for the economy. So is environmental

of their true environmental impacts to deve-

decision making,” said Suh.

destruction,” he writes. (By Stephen Leahy)

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


breeding grounds of the fish were being

“The root of environmental issues is the

only opens up new ways of solving ecolo-

destroyed. Other NGOs like Care International,

financial issue,” says Fazlun Khalid.“The point

gical issues, it also allows the joining of

which is an American organisation, could not

I am getting at here is a very important one.

elements otherwise considered alien to

stop the fisherman from dynamiting the coral

Money can be created today – as it has been

one another.

reefs. They called us to organise a workshop

created for the past 200 years – in an infinite

and training materials based on the Qur’an.

way. It can be created out of nothing. Then

Numerous times over the past decades, Prince

We did this workshop and it proved an

this created money is addressed to the

Charles has spoken to support both Muslims

immediate success. What the mainstream

earth which is finite. This arithmetic is lop-

and Islam. In 1993, speaking at Oxford

NGOs could not do over years we achieved

sided; it doesn’t make sense. If you continue

University, he said, “Our judgment of Islam

in 24 hours. Within one day they stopped

to create money in an infinite way and then

has been grossly distorted by taking the

dynamiting the coral reefs,” he says in a

apply it to resources which Allah has created

extremes as the norm. The truth is, of course,

summary of the IFEES project in Zanzibar. “If

as being finite then the only scenario to be

different and always more complex. My own

was for the simple reason that the people

expected in the long-term is environmental

understanding is that extremes, like the

realised that we are Allah’s khalifa; with the


cutting off of hands, are rarely practiced. The guiding principle and spirit of Islamic law,

given responsibility to look after His nature – from which we benefit. Therefore they

Beyond the fetish of ‘growth’

taken straight from the Qur’an, should be


In his view, the real solution does not lie in

those of equity and compassion. Islam can

the implementation of ‘green megaprojects’,

teach us today a way of understanding and

“We have to learn this lesson. Unfortunately,

but rather in a fundamental change of aware-

living in the world which Christianity itself is

the modern situation is that we have a model

ness at a grass-roots level; “To train the

poorer for having lost.”

of the capitalistic nation-state whose primary

‘ulama, to change the school curricula and to

objective is to increase the living-standard

change attitudes.” But Khalid also has some

In a speech at the Foreign Office Conference

of its people.” The people want more and

advice for contemporary consumers.

Centre on 13 December 1996 he referred to

more, and the only way to do it is by exploiting

Islam to help young Britons develop a

the earth. “This cannot go on because the

Even if the fundamental solution to ecological

healthier view of the world. “There is much

resources are finite.”

problems lies in the renunciation of the

we can learn from the Islamic world-

ideology of growth – and ‘sustainability’ –

view in this respect. Everywhere in the

Ecology and the Muslim world

every one of us can do many little things to

world people want to learn English. But

Sadly, and in spite of all the debates

help in our everyday lives. This includes, as

i n the West, in turn, we need to be

throughout the Muslim world, little attention

shown by our Prophet, the saving of water,

taught by Islamic teachers how to learn

is paid to ecology. “In ‘the Islamic paradigm

and also our own reduction of the amount of

with our hearts, as well as our heads.”

of submission’ and in the example of the

CO2 emissions we are responsible for.

Prophetic model,” says Fazlun Khalid, “there

“The upholding and support Prince Charles

are none of these environmental problems.”

Side by side?

continues to give to Islam and the Muslims

According to the Muslim eco-activist, Islam

“If Muslims have the answer, they have to give

protects the status of British Muslim citizens.

is very intensively conservationist but does not

it to other people. That can only begin from

When he does become king of Britain, today’s

speak the ecological language because it

a practical demonstration of what they think

British Muslims will be in a similar political

does not need to.

is right. If it works, other people will take it

and spiritual position to the Muslims who

on.” This is the bottom line according to the

made the first migration (Hijra) to Abyssinia,”

“We need to realise that the environmental

Muslim eco-veteran. The combining of

says Muhammad Zulfiqar Awan, Director and

and ecological language mainly emerged in

Islamic principles in our dealings with the

Lead Lecturer at Offa Consultants, London.

this civilisation in the last century as a reaction

creation, with the function of man within

to what human beings were doing.”

that as Allah’s representative [khalifa], not

Text By Sulaiman Wilms




Panel during the annual gathering of the European Muslim Union in Skopje, Macedonia.

in Europe is on the rise, the majority of


European Muslims having been born in Europe and speaking European languages. EMU is a European foundation which main-

Every year the European Muslim Union (EMU)

tains an organisational and communications office in Strasbourg, Europe’s second capital

organises gatherings of European Muslims. This year’s was in Skopje, and the organisers hailed it as an important step towards the coordination

after Brussels. Like all EMU meetings, the Skopje event from 28 to 30 May included a social aspect alongside discussions on content and organisation. On the evening of 28 May, the EMU and its Macedonian partner-

of Muslim activities in Europe. The EMU considers itself especially connected with the region.

organisation El-Halal invited more than 120 guests to the Bridge Hotel, where people became acquainted in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.

The backdrop for this annual gathering of

Under a banner of “Beyond Immigration”

European Muslims could not have been better.

Muslims from all over Europe discussed

The EMU’s Honorary President, Professor

Skopje, the historical capital of Macedonia,

mutual objectives on the invitation of the

Nevzat Yalcintas, gave an opening address

boasts not only magnificent architectural

European Muslim Union (EMU). “Because,”

entitled “The Significance of the Balkans for

treasures from the Osmanli period, but also

explained EMU President Abu Bakr Rieger in

the European Muslims” to kick off the event

and more importantly a large, vibrant Islamic

the event’s invitation, “we are not foreigners,

on the Friday evening. Yalcintas discussed

community. For a period of three days, dozens

we are European citizens and have always

the historical continuity of Islam in South-

of representatives of different Muslim commu-

been part of Europe.” And this situation is a

East Europe and recollected the highs and

nities visited the old city.

dynamic one too, since the number of Muslims

lows of Islamic history in the Balkans.

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


His observations on recent history included

and Muslim,” he said. “Islam is not in itself

townscape today. The EMU Foundation is

the Balkan Wars and the terrible crimes

a culture, but rather filters existing cultures

especially concerned with the role of mosques

perpetrated against European Muslims in the

and produces new, positive cultural relations

in European countries and is committed to


and connections. The Muslims who speak

facilitating excellence in management,

European languages today represent a cons-

services, accounting, education and social

On Saturday morning the Ambassador of

tantly growing potential from Kazan to

programmes in the mosques of Europe, thus

the Turkish Republic in Skopje, H.E. Hakan

Granada,” Rieger added.

addressing not only the Muslim community but also the surrounding society.

Okcal, gave a speech of welcome. Okcal voiced his approval of cooperation between

Other talks on the same day discussed the

European Muslims, and reminded delegates

difficulty the Western mind has in its percep-

All of the talks touched on how Muslims

about the city’s important role in the Islamic

tion of Islam, the new role of mosques in

could respond to the challenges of our times

world. The Balkans are still connected to

Europe, and the Muslim response to the

on the basis of Islam. Sunday’s numerous

Turkey through innumerable economic and

current financial crisis.The collection of zakat

workgroups were about implementation in

social projects, he said, adding that “Turkey

naturally connects the Muslims to the

activities such as joint media projects, the

remains strongly committed to a positive and

fundamental economic issues of our age.

organisation of Islamic markets, and youth exchanges. Representatives of NGOs and

peaceful future in the region.” The President of El-Hilal, Benjahudin Shehabi,

other associations also presented their work

EMU President Abu Bakr Rieger then presen-

who helped organise the conference, illustra-

in their home countries. “The EMU is not just

ted the main theme of the conference. “The

ted in his lecture the basic components of

about theoretical foundations,” explained its

European Muslims do not have an identity

Islamic architecture that remain alive today

General Secretary Malik Sezgin, “it is about

crisis and are themselves a proof that there

in Skopje. Mosque and market – the two

identifying and defining practical common-

is no contradiction in being both European

pillars of Islamic civilisation – still shape the

alities and activities that Muslims can undertake together.”

Part of the European identity: young, Pomak Muslims in a Bulgarian mosque.

In the closing address the assembly then re-stated the closeness of the EMU and the Balkan Muslims, and expressed the vision of close future collaboration with the men and women of the region. In the medium term the organisation intends to establish a regional office there in order to coordinate the activities of the various member organisations on location, and to give the European youth an opportunity to discover authentic places of Islam in Europe. “The Skopje conference,” summed up co-organiser Abdulhasib Castineira, “was an important milestone in the path towards better and more effective cooperation between the Muslims of Europe.”

Text By Malik Özkan




contraction since the inception of the Federal



GLOBALISATION: THE MIDDLE CLASS IN CRISIS “Overall, Germans are worrying more than ever. What is striking this year is that the

A spectre is haunting the Western world – the

number of worries that are identified has

spectre of crisis. And the European Union’s soft

practically exploded. I mean, I can’t remember us ever experiencing a jump like this, at least

underbelly – Greece and Spain, Portugal and Italy

not in the past 20 years. Most recently it was

– is nervous. Greece and Spain were saved at the

2.8 worries, and now it’s 3.2 on average.

last minute. According to some commentators, Europe’s single currency, once celebrated as a milestone, may now face demise. This crisis breeds

That’s a massive jump,” adds Raimund Wildner, Vice President of the GFK, commenting on the study’s results.

A new fear

fear, easily abused for political ends – with poten-

These new fears should not be mistaken for

tially dangerous side-effects. At the centre of

the acute worries that face the poor and jobless in their daily struggle for subsistence.

this fear are the middle classes, with Germany a

Rather there is a dread, one that permeates

clear case in point.

even into the political class. It affects precisely those classes that were regarded as the backbone of the political system in Western

Sometimes it can be helpful to transfer words

A people as barometer

from one language – and their conceptual

It is not just an individual problem or the

meanings – to another cultural zone. But

pointless worry of the over-pampered

Now, into the third millennium, the unrest is

what does it mean to me, as a German, that

consumer classes, it is an existential

not coming from the poverty belt of otherwise

one of the best-known words to come from

phenomenon that can display all the traits

affluent Western Europe, where for decades,

our language in recent times is Germany’s

of a clinical case. Sociologists are concerned

anaesthesia from consumption and TV have

notorious Angst? In the wider European and

that widespread anxiety stemming from the

long isolated people from any real social life.

Anglo-Saxon contexts, the term is used not

crisis and its repercussions might present a

According to German journalist Markus

to describe a specific fear, rather a more dif-

very real danger to Europe’s social and

Sievers, it manifests instead, “on the front

fuse, vague sort of anxiety.

political fabric.

lawns of the well-off neighbourhoods.”

There is good reason to examine the anxiety

On 7 June the German public opinion

The workplace that was guaranteed, the

of the Germans; their country is after all a

research association GFK – the fourth largest

shot at the highly remunerated position, the

microcosm of Western society. Long-standing

of its kind in the world – published a study

house and the pension – all this threatens

downward pressure on the once crisis-proof

entitled “Challenges for Europe 2010”.

to get sucked into the whirlpool of crisis –

middle class, the new phenomenon of the

According to the study, Germans are the most

whether in reality or in fancy. The middle

Prekariat (precarious proletariat) among the

worried of all Europeans. “The biggest worry

classes who, according to Sievers, up until

well-off, and a steadily widening income gap

for Germans in 2010 remains unemployment.

1989 were able to count on their share of

have stoked fears around the global financial

That is how it’s been for the last 20 years.”

economic growth, are becoming fewer and

system and, more broadly, around globalisa-

With a 5 per cent fall in GDP in 2009 the

are increasingly denied access to the nation’s

tion itself.

German economy experienced its sharpest


GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010






What do sociologists say?

power have declined in real terms.That means

French are for the most part very negative

Holger Lengfeld and Jochen Hirschle from the

that even with the same income, many

or fairly negative about globalisation, while

Hagen Institute for Sociology conducted a

individuals and families have less means to

only 29 and 35 percent of people are wor-

survey to investigate ‘Middle-class fear of

meet their daily needs.

ried about it in the USA and Great Britain respectively.

social climb-down’. Since the inception of the Federal Republic, the German middle classes

Then there is the fear of losing one’s social

were considered the cornerstone of society,

and professional position. Some of the middle

After the French and Belgians, the Germans

protected from economic instability, indus-

class, according to Hirschle and Lengfeld,

are the next most critical of globalisation.

trial change and failings in the education

transfer the poverty they witness in the classes

They consider it profoundly fraudulent and

system. But the crisis afflicting this truly

below them onto themselves. Despite the fact

believe it to be a condition of constraint,

“state-supporting” class has, since the early

that they are not actually affected, say the

which politics and economics are powerless

years of the new millennium, featured

researchers, anxiety about their own material

to overcome.

regularly in German mass media reporting

future washes off on the more qualified

and has now become an object of study

middle classes,“although this insecurity does

A comparison between continental Europe

among academics.

not actually reflect any objective deteriora-

and the Anglo-Saxon world - in which neo-

tion in their own situation.”

liberalism is more entrenched and the income disparity much greater - reveals that stress

According to sociologists, the German middle

levels are much higher in the latter. A survey

growth have not been able to maintain their

Globalisation is the cause, anxiety is the disease

positions long-term – whether through real

According to a survey conducted in 1998 and

societies between 2001 and 2003 showed

recession or just the fear of one – a pheno-

corroborated in May 2004 by the prestigious

that a third of those questioned had suffered

menon previously unknown in Germany. The

Robert Koch Institute, 14 percent of those

from stress at some point.

researchers discovered a ‘spill-over effect’ in

surveyed between the ages of 18 and 65

which the experience of loss in the lower

suffered from a “clinically relevant anxiety

Even if Germany was once ranked at the lower

middle classes is felt as a fear of possible

disorder”. After depression, anxiety is the

end in this respect, eight years of unfettered

social relegation: hence the coining of

second most common psychological disorder

neo-liberal policy and declining real income

’precariat’. “Whoever believes their own

treated by general practitioners in Germany.

is sure to have pushed the numbers up. Since

classes that had profited from economic

performed by the WHO in English-speaking

1998, psychological disorders have risen by

livelihood to be fundamentally threatened experiences Abstiegsangst,” – fear of social

Many see the phenomenon of globalisation

almost 40 percent and are now ranked fourth

relegation – says the study.

as the major cause of widespread anxiety

amongst diagnosis groups. As part of its

disorders in the industrialised world. In France,

‘Living in Germany’ series, the well-known

It is important to establish that this is not just

people have been talking for some time about

weekly Die Zeit states that the very fear of

individual or mass psychosis. By 2006, the

a new, massive, millennial anxiety wave.

illness is making Germans ill. On average 19

proportion of middle income earners had

Global pressure across borders is a significant

percent of people are afraid of illness in

shrunk to just 54 percent of the overall

feature of most anxiety symptoms.According

Germany, compared with 11 percent in other

population, and the edges of the income

to the website of Germany’s Economy and


spectrum have widened accordingly. By

Employment Ministry, “fear of being among

2006, 14 percent of those who were consid-

the losers creates insecurity and makes many

Dangerous consequences?

ered middle class in 2002 no longer enjoyed

sceptical of the globalisation process.”

Michael Grabka of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin believes

middle income. A comparative study by the German Marshall

that middle-class woes are not purely

On top of that and of particular relevance in

Fund in Germany, France, the USA and Great

imaginary.According to his theory, the middle

Germany’s case, income and purchasing

Britain, showed that the Germans and the

is crumbling. If income groups were previously

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


Winners in the crisis

While a considerable section of the West’s middle classes – not to mention the steadily growing Prekariat – are trembling at the prospects of the ongoing financial crisis, others have clearly profited.Their assets have suffered no significant losses, despite the many bankruptcies and collapses across the board. Notwithstanding the crisis and general loss of income, earnings for Germany’s well-off rose during 2009, the crisis year, according to a study by the German Institute for Economy (DIW). In 2008, 19 per cent of the population belonged to this category. “The income gap between low and high earners has opened up

The most important factors keeping the

creditors’ profits become. Some time ago the

wide,” says the study. The wealthier are, “not

financial bubble growing are stated as “the

German sociologist Hans Jürgen Krysmanski

just increasing in number, but also on average

attraction of the financial market” and ”higher

spoke about the silence on the matter: “The

getting richer.” In parallel, the poor are “not

savings”. Particularly in Europe and Asia-

identity of the creditors of debtor states is

just increasing in number, but are getting

Pacific, higher savings rates had an effect on

hardly ever talked about.The Republic has one

steadily poorer.”

growth. According to the consultancy firm,

trillion euros of debt. Next year’s budget puts

global assets are set to rise by 6 percent a year

aside 40.4 billion for interest payments alone,

The German experience reflects the global

up to 2014. A global power-shift reveals itself

the second largest spending item of the Federal

trend. According to a survey by the consulting

in the expectation that global growth will be

government list after welfare (147 billion

firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), global

twice as high in East Asia than in the rest of

Euros). So who are the creditors who, year

assets in 2009 were valued the same as in

the world, a trend which becomes even clearer

after year, receive a guaranteed 40 billion in

2007 – the year before the outbreak of the

when we look at it country by country: in

interest from that safest of debtors, the state?

crisis. In total the dizzying sum of 111.5 trillion

Singapore the number of millionaire house-

It is only to a small extent the banks them-

US dollars were under management, meaning

holds rose by 35 percent, followed by Malaysia

selves, whose primary function is to act as

that the losses of around 10 percent suffered

(33 percent) and China (31 percent).

facilitators. In reality, the interest ends up lining the pockets of wealthy individuals: the

in 2008 have been made up for. With 37.1 trillion US dollars in administered wealth,

Where and exactly how these extra earnings

rich. This is one of the safest ways to redistri-

Europe remains the “richest region in the

come about – except on the nameless, abstract

bute wealth and accumulate super-wealth. It

world”. The volume of assets has risen by 8

“markets’ – remains obscure. Alongside con-

existed – along with the Fuggers, the Welsers,

per cent. The highest growth was achieved in

tinued speculation on the essential commodity

etc – at the beginning of capitalism, it has

the Asia-Pacific region (not including Japan),

futures exchange, profiteers surely benefit also

crept through its history, and it will probably

where the figure of 22 percent is almost double

from Western government debt.The greater the

exist at the end of capitalism in its current

the global average.

national debt in Western nations, the greater





to Heitmeyer, is an increase in hostility to foreigners among the middle classes. But this hostility is no longer limited to traditional right-wing racism; it has gradually acquired a certain middle-class acceptability, especially since 11 September 2001, in the more contemporary guise of Islamophobia. Heitmeyer talks of a specific type of xenophobia, one based on competition – in other words, ”competition for scarce resources, etc.” With the financial crisis, society’s muchvaunted values have begun to lose their social credibility, according to Heitmeyer. Some time ago Heitmeyer’s team published their findings in a document entitled German Conditions. The researchers interpret the data as a type of ‘democracy-fatigue’ and expect a surge in prejudice against weak groups. The financial A reality in times of crisis: Germany is witnessing the return of public soup kitchens.

crisis has unleashed wholesale fear in society, they say. Of those questioned, 92 percent fear

layered like an onion they now resemble

class. “The fewer conventional households

that the future will bring more loss of position,

something more like an hourglass.The bottom

there are, the smaller the middle class

and 94 percent expect more poverty.

layer is growing and – ironically given the

becomes, as young people, single parents and

crisis – so too is the upper layer. “We can

divorcees struggle to move upward or simply

Nevertheless, Decker sees no direct threat to

see that in the mid 1980s and 1990s the

maintain their social position.”

the current order, “so long as the elites keep

middle class was relatively stable, making up

a firm hold on their democratic outlook.” But

just over 60 percent of the total population,”

Does middle-class shrinkage present a danger

it is the political class themselves that are

said Grabka on the nationally broadcast

to the political model of the societies

most prone to populism - “when strategies


involved? As well as providing the backbone

of symbol-politics start to take hold […]

of the economic order, the German middle

all the way to all-out populism.” The trend is

Since the new millennium we have witnessed

classes also represent the ‘middle way’,

clearly visible, as politicians such as

a clear shrinkage of the middle class, “by

holding the ground between extremes.

Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi amply

around five million people – in other words,

“Democracy needs the median,” they carry


from 49 down to 44 million.” Equally alarming

the weight, says political scientist Frank

is the fact that it is now practically impossible


for the poor to make it up to the middle.

Both politicians – compromised absolutely by corruption scandals and the influence of

Today it is truer than ever that, “once on the

Willhelm Heitmeyer, the well-known conflict

their nation’s wealthy classes – have long

bottom rung, always on the bottom rung.”

researcher, would probably agree. His

been running campaigns that can only be

conclusion is clear: as anxiety about social

described as just that: symbol-politics. An

According to Grabka’s assessment, the

decline among the middle classes increases,

example of this is the French initiative to ban

gradual disappearance of the nuclear family

so too does discrimination against those

the full body covering worn by a tiny minority

is speeding up the shrinkage of the middle

considered different. Most striking, according

of Muslim women. Although the problem

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


has no actual social reality, it takes up a dis-

its core. This society means the Western one

nisation of our youth is to be human with one

proportionate amount of public debate.

and at its core means not on the edges,”

another. It seems to me that we Germans

wrote Elsässer in the Islamische Zeitung after

could learn a lot from our Muslim fellow

The Swiss social historian Jakob Tanner

the killings, adding that it is about time

citizens with respect to rescuing our youth.

similarly warns: “There are no innocent

security experts focused on the new dangers

Family unity, love of children, respect for par-

concerns when it comes to the state of society.

rather than invoking those of the past. “The

ents and grandparents are all integral parts

There are always powers that will bundle

frustrated young men from the middle

of their culture, and are much more cherished

fears together, concentrate their intensity and

classes who would have followed Adolf

than by Christians, let alone atheists.”

turn them to political imperatives.”

[Hitler] in the 30s are hardly susceptible to fascism nowadays, they’re much more likely

The trail of blood through the schools, he

The dangerous middle

to be nihilists. It is no longer hate of ‘the

says, shows that it is not collectivism and

Fear and the politics it drives have long been

other’ that drives them, but hate of everyone.”

control that lead to mass murder, rather isolation and disinhibition. The new barbarism

part of social debate in the West. This is evident in the torrent of legislative measures

Elsässer doesn’t rest with this gloomy outlook,

does not emanate from ideological, racial or

that have been pushed through across

he sees real ways of confronting the break-

religious mass delusion as in days gone by,

Western Europe and in the USA under the

down of the middle, and he sees them in a

but rather from serial killers devoid of ideology

auspices of the ‘War on Terror’. In Germany

section of society that has not yet been

who, stranded in the desert of consumerism,

and elsewhere, it isn’t just the real danger that

addressed in that way.“How can it be preven-

have lost their minds.

counts, but most crucially the perceived one

ted? Community and family are essential.

as well, one which appears to justify the kind

[…] the best prevention against the dehuma-

Text By Sulaiman Wilms

of infringements in civil society that have not been seen here since 1945.

Violence in the middle classes: a German SWAT team while operating during a killing spree.

But is it really the political extremes (not to mention ‘Islamic terror’) that threaten the very foundations of Western democracy? In his analysis of the armed rampage of a student in the small German town of Winnenden, the political commentator Jürgen Elsässer goes much further than any of the aforementioned social researchers. On 11 March 2009, fifteen people were shot by a rampaging youngster at a school in this tranquil community in Germany’s south-west, after which the 17-year-old attacker ended his own life. For Elsässer, the “killing fields of Winnenden” are an example of the inner decay of the middle class. “All these trigger-happy individuals are products of the USA and Western Europe, from the metropolises of latecapitalism. This society is breeding killers at





The Muslim Swahili civilisation of the East African coast and its islands is both long-lasting and dynamic. One of its main features has been to keep its identity by constantly adapting itself to the given political circumstances. In Mombasa’s old town one gets a glimpse into this fascinating mix of African, Arab and Indian mix – all under the umbrella of Islam. Walking through the streets of old Mombasa

me. My hand now moves beside me, no longer

is not an exercise in romanticism.The narrow

perched in my pocket, as I walk with the calm

alleyways have not absorbed the throngs of

cadence of the town.

new humanity easily and I have one hand entrenched in my pocket, over my wallet, in

The ‘old town’ of Mombasa is the ancient

a less than subtle gesture of alertness.

nucleus around which the present teeming

Concrete buildings with an improvised air

settlement has grown. As with other ancient

tower over the great stone houses that once

coastal towns, there is a marked cosmo-

stood in their full splendour, and which now

politan character of both the people and the

shyly give way to a boisterous modernity.

culture. The people are of a golden hue, the inheritors of African, Arab and Indian genes

But there is a certain grace to the whole affair.

and there remains a constant alchemy

Through the heat and congestion, there

between these golden people and those who

exudes an age-old ease that even the Somali

fall in love with the place. This is one of the

merchants who clog the narrow arteries of

main reasons why Swahili culture and its

the town with their miscellaneous wares

people have survived even though the times

cannot repress. The women walk with the

hurtle forward.

movement of a cool breeze. The old men sit pensively observing their surrounds and a

Along the East African coast lie other famous

pack of children kick a tennis ball down an

coastal settlements that gave birth both

alley and give chase with the shrill clamour

collectively and antagonistically to this

of youth. I find the door that I am looking for

civilisation, such as the islands of Zanzibar and

and walk towards it, greeting along the way

Lamu; part of what was known in antiquity

an ancient man who smiles warmly back at

as Azania. In fact, the birth and strength of

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


Swahili culture lies in two paradoxes: it is assimalitive while being distinct and the great city-states that it gave birth to were both fiercely independent and competitive with one another and yet ultimately bound by a common political interdependence. “Two days’ sail beyond there lies the very last market-town of the continent of Azania [East Africa], which is called Raphta; which takes its name from the sewn boats already mentioned; in which there is ivory in great quantity, and tortoise-shell. Along this coast live men of piratical habits, very tall, and under separate chiefs for each place. The Mapharitic chief governs it under some ancient right that subjects it to the sovereignty of the state that has become the first in Arabia. And the people of Muza now hold it under his authority, and send thither many large ships; using Arab captains and agents, who are familiar with the natives and intermarry with them, and who know the whole coast and the language...” 1 (From the Greek guide for sailors Periplous Thalássos Eruthraoas, the first century AD.) The first antecedents that allowed for the story of the Swahili lie in the Bantu Migrations. Some of the tribes that exploded out of the Congo at the time established villages along the fertile eastern coast of Africa, eventually adopting the independent identity of Mijikenda. From here, access to the Indian Ocean and the interior of Africa, as well as the fertile soils of the coast, provided the setting for a rich interaction between the Africa hinterland and the already mythical trade routes of the Indian Ocean. As the volume of trade increased, so did the influence of the foreign traders who eventually brought with them Islam and it was in




A living tradition: celebrating the Mawlid on the shores of the island of Lamu.

this context that the villages grew into towns

the Swahili coast, and Mombasa in particular,

foreign threats. The only occasion that the

and from towns into city-states. Islam was the

a century later. The Portuguese first returned

Portuguese managed to regain their lost

‘filter’ that allowed for the hybridisation of

to Mombasa in 1500, plundering the city.

territory was during the brief period between

Mijikenda culture and the influence of the

After three such attacks against the Sultan

1728 and 1729, after which they were once

Arab, Indian, Persian and Chinese civilisations,

of Mombasa, they finally succeeded in

again supplanted by Oman.

leaving behind those practices that came into

establishing their control over the city in 1593

conflict with the Shariah while embracing

thanks to their support from the Sultan of

Footbridges in the air

those that did not. It would be in the twelfth


And yet life continued throughout these constant political changes with the city-states

century when the first mention of these areas Portugal’s influence on the Swahili coast

flourishing along the coast, giving rise to a

survived the constant provocations by Omani

deeply politically-nuanced Swahili culture.

It was this flourishing coast that Vasco de

Arabs until 1698, and after a century of

The succession of rulers and shifts in political

Gama, the ambitious Portuguese explorer en

confrontation the city had earned the name

alliances did not affect the Swahili identity

route to India, would encounter and see in it

Kisiwa Cha Mvita, ‘The Island of War’. From

but rather built on it. The Swahili language

a vital territory in which to establish Portu-

that time until the advent of British power in

itself is a good indication of the nature of this

guese influence in the Indian Ocean and its

the region, it was the Omani Sultans who

and while it has taken from Arabic, Portuguese

trade routes. On landing in Mombasa in 1498,

ruled the Swahili coast through the appoint-

and Indian, it has retained a predominantly

he received a hostile reception. Owing to the

ment of governors who administered in their

Bantu form linguistically2.

competition between the Swahili city-states,

name (although eventually, the Mazr’ui clan

Mombasa’s rival, Malindi, welcomed him

would break from Oman with British support).

It was the form of governance, compatible

warmly and in the process sowed the seeds

After recapturing Mombasa, the Omanis

with that of the original Mijikenda of the

of an alliance that would eventually allow the

established their power base on the island of

region and the ancient political orientation

Portuguese to wrest power from Arabia over

Zanzibar in order to bolster the coast against

towards the Arabian Peninsular that allowed

as being ‘Swahili’ was first made.

GLOBALIA | Issue 08 | August 2010


for these great city-states to maintain their

yet potent manner in which to re-state the

conscious enforcement of foreign values and

cultural and, to a large extent, domestic,

bounds of the community’s political boun-

views using the cultural elements available,

political independence from the overt - daries. Such was the nature of the Swahili

all the while eroding the political indepen-

influences of their political overlords whose

culture up until the coming of the British,

dence that gave rise to such a cosmopolitan

interests were mainly focussed on the control

first in 1824 to support the Mazr’ui clans


of the trade.The use of the Liwali or governors

break with Oman as a British Protectorate and

allied to Oman or Portugal allowed for these

then finally to incorporate the city and much

Swahili culture, however altered by British

external political powers to exert sufficient

of the Swahili Coast into its East Africa

policy and influence, did adapt and still

control over the region without overtly

Association in 1887.

survives. The remnants of the ancient bonds that held together the Swahili Coast of Kenya

manipulating the social and political dynamics

The Crown and its Trappings

in the past once again came to the fore during

As they proceeded to do when they attained

the election violence of 2008 that engulfed

Life in Mombasa in particular centred primarily

the Indian sub-continent, the British began to

the entire country except for its coastal areas.

on the family and its extensions that

solidify and filter the once fluid cultural and

The anarchy of the interior forced the people

constituted larger clans. Even the archi-

socio-political aspects of the Swahili culture

of the coast to lean on their historical socio-

tecture revolved around clan dynamics.

as a means to cement their hold on the coast.

political form, however diluted, in order to

Houses were built according to the families

Practices that would come into conflict with

avert the chaos; and it worked. The commu-

who lived in them and footbridges linking

their aim to incorporate the once fiercely

nity came together and formed itself into a

one household to the other allowed the

independent city-states into a larger econo-

naturally governed island in a sea of anarchy.

women of the families, who were highly

mic and political block with its political centre

protected members, to visit one another

in Nairobi, as opposed to Oman, were

It is this ability to adapt and at the same time

without having to dirty their feet on the

suppressed – the politically symbolic sacrifice

retain its very core that has allowed Swahili

bustling streets below. On a broader pers-

being an example.

culture to survive and it ensures that it

of the region.

remains a blueprint of civilisation as long as

pective, the families that made up the city shared cultural practices that reinforced their

The fluid social strata of the Wanguama (the

it holds on to that core that has its founda-

sense of political interdependence.

nobility) and the Watwana (free men) were

tion firmly rooted on Islam and trade.

solidified through the use of economic discriText By Parvez Asad Sheikh

“A man from Paté [a city on the Swahili Coast]

mination and the census. But it would be the

was lamenting that some of the cultural

abolition of the slave trade on which the

practices he knew as a child had been

caravans into the interior and the agriculture

completely forgotten. He then gave me the

along the coast depended that would deal the

example of the sacrifice that included the

heaviest blow to the economic and political

whole community; each family being involved

strength of the city-states along the Swahili


in the process. They would come together

Coast. Without the trade that had been the


and one family would donate the cow, others

lifeblood of the Swahili Civilisation since

would involve themselves in the other details

antiquity, the Swahili culture slowly had to do

of the procession which would go around the

what it had done for almost a millennium

whole city boundary, offering supplications at

and adapt yet again to its surroundings.

Taken from: Ostler Nicholas, Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World. London: Harper Perennial, 2006.pg102




each city gate.” (Kassim M. Omar) However, this adaptation was unpreceSuch a custom served two purposes. The first

dented in that it was no longer a natural

was to strengthen the community’s sense of

hybridisation of cultures coming into contact

‘brotherhood’ and the second was a subtle

primarily through trade but the direct and

All background information is taken from an interview with Mr. Kassim M. Omar, Director, The Research Institute of Swahili Studies of Eastern Africa on the 15th of January, 2010; Mombasa, Kenya.



Globalia Magazine 8th Edition  

Globalia Magazine 8th Edition

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