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Raj Thackeray and the tale of Azaan Loudspeakers

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The MNS chief, Raj Thackeray, took Maharashtra by storm with his statements on Azaan Loudspeakers. The leader made it very clear to the Maharashtra government and the crowds of the state that he’d be forced to take unimaginable steps if the government doesn’t stop the use of Loudspeakers in front of Mosques.

Azaan Loudspeakers
Raj Thackeray – MNS Chief

This created quite some buzz among the citizens of Maharashtra state and sent the Muslims down a lane of confused fear. While addressing the Journalists and people who assembled in the MNS Chief Office, Pune, Raj Thackeray urged all the ‘Hindu Patriots’ to stay ready on May 3rd. It is either the removal of Mosque Azaan Loudspeakers or the rage of the Hindu Patriots.

What are Azaan Loudspeakers?

According to Islamic beliefs, ‘Azaan’ means the ‘call to prayer. The mosque is the holy place where the Muslim men gather to offer prayers to ‘Allah’. This happens five times a day, a repeat on every single day of the week, month, and years to come. This practice became a part of every Muslim household from time immemorial.

In ancient times when there were no tools like clocks and stopwatches, a high priest from the mosque would recite the Azaan on the loudspeaker to intimate the Muslim brothers that it is time for prayer. Anyone who is within the vicinity of the mosque would come to do ‘Namaz’ and reminisce the divine aura of ‘Allah’.

The call for prayer is a beautiful recital that awakens the senses of Muslims and prepares them to pray with fresh minds. It became a habit and a tradition that is not easy to forget.

Raj Thackeray’s Ultimatum

Raj Thackeray 'Hanuman Chalisa
Thackeray’s Ultimatum for 3rd May

The MNS Chief gave an ultimatum to the Maharashtra government that if they fail to remove or stop the usage of Azaan Loudspeakers by May 3rd, he’d have the Hindu men play ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ right in front of the mosques. And if required and possible, they would even play it five times a day, louder than how the mosques play ‘Azaan’.

On the occasion of Gudi Padwa or the Maharashtrian New Year, Thackeray said that he was not looking to create communal differences. He emphasized that his statements are only the voice of all those people who get disturbed because of Azaan.

Also Read: Islamophobia in India: The Hostile Treatment Against Muslims

According to the government rules, there should be no use of loudspeakers before 6 AM. However, ‘Azaan’ is allowed. He said this disturbs several people who live in the vicinity.  

“If they don’t remove their loudspeakers, then ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ will play. They will have to hear our holy prayer if possible five times a day” The MNS Leader said to the gathered assembly.

He further said that rules should be the same for everyone in the country. And nothing is above the law and order established. He cited the examples of political rallies and Ganesh, Navratri Utsav.

Thackeray’s Statements

“We need to take permission to use loudspeakers during political rallies. Hindus need to take permission before setting up loudspeakers during Navratri and Ganesh Utsav. Who gave permission to these mosques to use loudspeakers for Azaan?” Raj Thackeray strongly said.

He addressed the journalists and party men, “If these clerks sitting in the mosques feel that their religion is bigger than the country and its rules, then it is not like that at all”

The Following Tension about Azaan Loudspeakers

There were discussions about mosques and the usage of loudspeakers before as well. However, with the involvement of a political leader, the tension heightened by several folds. The police and authorities quickly straightened up to avoid any unwanted disturbances in the state. 

Also Read: Communalism and Economic Marginalisation of Muslims

The Supreme Court of India released orders that ‘all loudspeakers’ have to be initially registered and only the ones with permission should play the sounds. However, Raj Thackeray stressed that many mosques were not following these rules. He urged the government to intervene and establish the same grounds of justice for everyone. He said he was only against the ‘illegal’ usage of loudspeakers. 

The Police’s Preparation

Loudspeaker row
Police outside Raj Thackeray’s residence on 3rd May

The Home Department released a statement that Mumbai police were ready to handle any untoward situation if it were to arise. They identified the sensitive areas and had special forces keeping a close eye on the situation.

The government also registered the call that Raj Thackeray openly made to them. While they did approve the use of loudspeakers in most of the mosques, there were several that didn’t get permission yet.

And these were identified as sensitive areas and the MNS leader was also pointing out these places.

On the day of May 3rd…

Like MNS Chief Raj Thackeray already said, his party members were ready to take the step if anyone were to break the rules. Their keen eye was on every Azaan Loudspeaker in the state. Most of the mosques adhered to the Supreme Courts’ orders and did not play ‘Azaan’ on loudspeakers before 6 AM. However, the clerks recited ‘Azaan’ without the loud noise and the people reached their praying place as usual.

Also Read: Islam in India: Then and Now!

Raj Thackeray urged leaders from across the state to do ‘Maha Arti’ with loudspeakers playing ‘Hanuman Chalisa’. And the tagline is – if the government and mosques do not take the call seriously. MNS Secretary Ajay Shinde along with six others was arrested for performing ‘Maha Arti’ in Khalkar Hanuman Mandir, Pune. Though there was no violence, the Police arrested Shinde and the men as a preventive measure. They said it was to avoid the possible violence after the Aarti.

Several Mosques did not play ‘Azaan’. Raj Thackeray stated that he received support from several parts of the state, including Muslims too. He said it was a social issue and not religious. Loud noises early in the morning are a disturbance to sleep irrespective of religious beliefs.

The Azaan Loudspeakers issue became a tool for certain sections of the crowd to start communal wars. Around 250 MNS party workers were arrested for playing Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers. There was no bloodshed and the police were already in-game to prevent any mishaps.

135 Mosques played loudspeakers before 6 AM, against the rules established by the Supreme Court. The Home Department urged that appropriate action must be taken against breaking the rules. 

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COP27 Climate Change Summit: Greenwashing Scam Imperilling Human Rights

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COP27 Climate Change Summit - A Greenwashing Scam Ignoring Human Rights

COP27 Faced Major Criticism

Morally, politically and economically COP27 climate change summit has been coined as a greenwashing scam imperilling human rights.

The world watched Egypt closely as it hosted the 27th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh from the 8th-16th of November. More than 190 governments attended COP27 to attempt to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

Furthermore, Egypt hosting of COP27 sparked much controversy due to its abysmal human rights record. Additionally, COP27 faced heavy criticism due to some of the world’s top polluters, such as Coca-Cola sponsoring the event. Furthermore, attendees arrived in private jets; meat and dairy products remained on menus; dozens of domestic civil society organizations were excluded. Additionally, the summit was overshadowed by persistent calls to release up to 65,000 political prisoners in Egyptian prisons.

Worlds Top Polluter, Coca-Cola, Sponsored COP27

The UN climate conference announced a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola, one of the “world’s top polluters”. Coca-Cola recently retained its title for the fourth year as the world’s top plastic polluter. The sponsorship deal is a greenwashing scam by campaigners, drawing intense criticism.

Coca-Cola produces 120 billion throwaway plastic bottles a year. 99% of plastics are made from fossil fuels, exacerbating the plastic and climate change crises.

Private Jets, Bottomless Cocktails and Beef Medallion Dishes

Surprisingly, attendees indulged in the very activities which got us into this mess in the first place. Moreover, world leaders flew to Egypt in private jets. Attendees enjoyed bottomless cocktails, one-hour unlimited wine and beer packages, $100 beef medallion dishes, and $50 seafood platters.

This begs the question: do these foods belong at a climate conference? We have missed the true purpose of the climate summit: to help save the planet.

Caption: Residents push a boat through a flooded street in Havana. Industrial nations are being asked to compensate those countries most affected by the climate crisis. Photograph: Ramón Espinosa/AP. Image obtained from the Guardian.

Meat and Dairy On the Menu – Not on the Agenda

In the three-decade history of the UN Climate Summit, COP27 was the first UN summit to discuss the meat and dairy industry’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions.

COP27 faced massive criticism this year from climate activists due to the unsustainable meat and dairy items on its menus. It seems unimaginable that globally we are trying to reduce our meat and dairy consumption to save our planet. However, our governments cannot stop eating these foods at the world’s largest climate summit.

Cutting meat and dairy output are not yet on the agenda for governments at COP27. Many governments attending the summit give billions to livestock farmers in subsidies. Instead of focusing on plant-based diets, they are advancing policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using feed additives that make animals less gassy and technology that sucks up the methane wafting off manure heaps. Andy Reisinger, a farm emissions specialist and vice-chair of the UN’s IPCC climate panel, said feed additives could worsen emissions by promoting intensive farming.

Read more: Is Veganism the Solution to Eradicating Food Carbon Foot Print?

Dozens of Domestic Civil Society Groups Excluded

Hundreds of prominent human rights defenders, researchers and environmentalists were exiled from Egypt. They were unable to attend Cop27 due to the nature of their work. Many voices from Egypt were absent at the conference due to the government’s corrupt attempts to exclude dozens of domestic civil society groups.

“Arrests and detention, NGO asset freezes and dissolutions and travel restrictions against human rights defenders have created a climate of fear for Egyptian civil society organisations to engage visibly at the COP27” 

Additionally, COP27’s wifi blocked access to international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other news websites needed during information talks. These prominent human rights organizations hosted talks at COP27 but could not access their sites due to previous work criticizing the Egyptian government. Egypt used this strategy to hide the nation’s decades-long record of cracking down on human rights.

Read more: Pakistan’s Climate Crisis: A Peek Into The Apocalyptic Future That Awaits.

65,000 Political Prisoners in Egyptian Prisons

Currently, there are an estimated 65,000 political prisoners inside Egyptian prisons. COP27 was overshadowed by persistent calls to release political prisoners.

A British-Egyptian detainee, Alaa Abd el-Fattah, was a significant focus in the media. As a leader of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, he has been in prison for the past decade. He started a partial hunger strike in April 2022 to protest his detention conditions. He spent the last six months consuming just 100 calories a day. A week before COP27 started, he stopped eating altogether. Then, on the day the summit began, he stopped drinking water. He has since resumed drinking water but remains critically ill.

Greta Thunberg, who refused to attend COP27, signed a petition by a human rights coalition calling on Egyptian authorities to open up civic space and release political prisoners.

Read more: Accelerating Deforestation in the Amazon Severely Threatens Climate Change Crisis.

COP27 Cracks Down On “Greenwashing”

Companies, banks, cities and states worldwide have continuously made broken promises to achieve net-zero emissions. These corporate climate pledges amount to little more than a greenwashing scam. Evading net zero claims is a common greenwashing strategy. Companies claim to be carbon-free due to strategies such as buying carbon credits while simultaneously pursuing new fossil fuel projects emitting greenhouse gases.

Greenwashing is when an organization spends more time and money marketing itself as environmentally friendly than minimizing its environmental impact. It’s a shady marketing gimmick that misleads consumers who prefer to buy environmentally friendly goods and services.

At COP27, the UN cracked down on greenwashing, laying down recommendations for how companies, financial institutions and cities must calculate their net zero emissions status. The new UN report aims to eliminate loopholes by laying out ten steps to bring integrity, transparency and accountability to net zero claims.

“I have a message to fossil fuel companies and their financial enablers. So-called ‘net-zero pledges’ that exclude core products and activities are poisoning our planet. They must thoroughly review their pledges and align them with this new guidance”.

United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres.

Read more: Doomsday Glacier on the Brink of Collapse: Catastrophes of Climate Change.

The UN cracked down on companies stating that they can’t claim to be net zero if they are not in line with targets set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These targets include cutting global carbon emissions by 45% by 2030. The UN limited short-term carbon offsets and held that they could only be used sparingly in the long term.

Historic Deal: Governments Must Pay Poor Nations for Climate Damage

Governments at COP27 approved a historic deal to create a fund for compensating developing nations that are victims of extreme weather events worsened by rich countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. However, many remained uncertain as countries argued over emission reduction efforts.

COP27 Climate Change Summit -Greenwashing Scam Imperilling Human Rights.
Caption: A Fridays for Future protester at the Cop27 UN Climate Summit holds a sign calling for the “loss and damage” deal. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AP. Image obtained from the Guardian.

Moreover, this is a massive step for poorer countries bearing the brunt of climate change. These nations face extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, heat waves, and famines despite releasing the lowest greenhouse gas emissions. This historical “loss and damage” deal will provide financial assistance to developing nations stricken by climate disasters.

However, this loss and damage deal has several flaws. Some nations held that the pledges to limit global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees showed little progress compared to the COP26 conference in Glasgow in 2021. Furthermore, others criticized how the language and guidelines on phasing out fossil fuels were weak. Despite many different opinions between nations regarding the guidelines of this historic deal, it is still a vital step towards achieving climate justice.

Read more: Climate Refugees: Pain of Unseen Victims.

Concluding Thoughts

COP27 has faced significant criticism this year for many justifiable reasons. Many believe COP27 is a greenwashing scam failing humanity and the planet by not leading to significant changes. The UN climate summit is losing its credibility in being able to create meaningful change to save our planet.

World leaders and people in power continuously use high-profile gatherings like COP for attention and are greenwashing, lying and cheating their way through pledges and commitments. The UN Environment Programme released the Emissions Gap report stating that only an urgent system-wide transformation can deliver the enormous emissions cuts needed to stabilize global temperatures below 1.5 degrees by 2030.

World leaders consistently fail to fulfil their commitments and act on time. We cannot place trust in greenwashing scams like COP summits anymore. Instead, we need rapid, far-reaching, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society if we want to build a sustainable world for future generations.

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Qatar FIFA 2022, A Civilized Model Of Islam

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Qatar FIFA 2022

Qatar is the first country in the Middle East to host the FIFA World Cup 2022. This was after Qatar’s award hosting in December 2010. This is a tremendous opportunity for Qatar to represent Qatar FIFA 2022 as a civilized model of Islam. The country converted to Islam in the 7th century. Since winning the hosting, it has been constructing some of the most eco-friendly and architectural advanced sporting facilities ever seen. It is the kind of country that has the power to host the greatest show of FIFA ever on Earth.

First, Qatar has always drawn its strength from discovering oil, fishing, and pearl hunting. In addition, it is the world’s second-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. Hosting the tournament presents tremendous opportunities for Qatar to prove itself as a powerful country. Significantly, Qatar has always been taking advantage of the tournament hosting to develop local Industries, expertise, and infrastructure. This was for Innovation and application of excellent standards and support of Qatar’s transition to a knowledge-based economy. This edition of the FIFA World Cup 2022 is being themed by Qatar on its culture, history, identity, and hospitability. As a result, efforts have made the event an unforgettable historical experience.

(more…)

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The Lebanese file: neither a president nor a government

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election of lebanese presidency

Despite six presidential sessions, Lebanon still does not have a president.

The funny thing is, the government is also idle and the whole country is waiting for a miracle to get up again.

France is on the president line!

The head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Representative Gebran Bassil, is expected to visit Paris, which is expected to mark a remarkable development in the presidential file in Lebanon.

The meetings will aim to discuss the imminent presidential, governmental, and economic entitlements of all Lebanese stakeholders.

French president macron right) and free Patriotic movement leader gebran bassil (left)
French president macron and free Patriotic movement leader gebran bassil

Based on Basil’s excellent relationship with Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi and Hezbollah, the French hope to agree on a roadmap for the presidential elections.

Although the French side does not carry an integrated initiative, it sought to know the position of all parties regarding a list of candidates that includes about seven names.

Those connected to the French ambassador understand that her country still has the American mandate to manage the initiative about the presidential file and that Paris wants to reach an agreement with Saudi Arabia that facilitates the task because insisting on fighting harsh battles would prevent the election of a president soon.

President issue: Who does Hezbollah wants?

 Hezbollah is reconsidering the local reality from a different angle than the one that preceded the election of President Aoun, as evidenced by Aoun’s recent paradox of reopening half-closed doors.

In contrast to Aoun, the party does not find any justification for repeating the vacuum for more than two years and tightening its internal domestic rams to deliver its candidate.

They are fully aware that choosing to unilaterally elect a president of the republic, and consequently, a government of one color and the presidency of the House of Representatives, means putting the country in direct conflict with the outside world. Everything that surrounds the internal reality is different from the previous stage, as is the position of the concerned countries.

 While Hezbollah’s opponents are only mentioning Franjieh as president—or, at the very least, any candidate from the party’s second row—this does not imply that Hezbollah has abandoned its candidate or candidates.

The party assumes entering into early settlements, which means that the party receives its price both internally and externally.

This is because the party cannot bear the idea of losing its candidate and will not bear the idea of any settlement following a vacuum that results in challenges, conditions, and counter conditions.

An alternative situation is possible in addition to that. Except for the March 8 team, there is no president of the country.

Is the former minister Franjieh a serious candidate?

Former Minister Suleiman Franjieh was Hezbollah’s candidate.

Nasrallah’s remarks coincided with a fresh French attempt that started a few days ago to forge an agreement on choosing a new president before the year is up and included pledges to start aid programs for Lebanon, including the “Cedre” program.

Former minister Sleiman Franjieh
Former minister Sleiman Franjieh

The debate that the French began with the major parties in Lebanon is anticipated to be finished with Washington and Riyadh and is predicated on the premise that no one can impose a prime minister or president of the republic without a genuine agreement between the major forces.

Hezbollah claimed in 2016 that there was no Plan B for the nomination of General Michel Aoun, and it repeated that claim this time as well: the candidate is Franjieh, and there is a point on the line.

 If the two allies cannot agree on a second candidate, there are dangers that no one has the luxury of incurring.

What does The Free Patriotic Movement says?

 The Free Patriotic Movement was informed by Hezbollah that the results of naming places below the presidency of the Republic under the General Michel Aoun administration were not encouraging, as the residents of these sites turned against the people who named them to them.

There is a “term” that Hezbollah agreed to, though, which is that it will not attend the election session for the Marada Movement’s leader until he has Basil’s endorsement in his pocket.

The party’s desire to maintain and strengthen the agreement with the Free Patriotic Movement is the most crucial factor, and as a result, “the election of Suleiman will be with Gibran’s consent and not at his expense,” among other factors, including giving Franjieh Christian support that makes him a strong president.

So far, there has not been any serious president, and we are facing many sessions without a result.

Is Lebanon on a date with a long presidential debate, as happened before the election of former President Michel Aoun, or will we witness the election of a president before the New Year?

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