Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the ban of Dr Naik (and his "gay-bashing Jew-hating" values)

I first heard of Dr Zakir Naik during the RIS event, in 2005.

"Oh, you don't know Dr Naik? He's the best!" Said some of my friends. "You will hear him give a speech and immediately a dozen people will convert on stage."

I am not a keen proponent of people converting on stage (religion, to me, should be private and in my opinion new converts should not be a prop). Still, I remember attending his talk and seeing it as very entertaining. There is no debate that he is a highly effective public speaker. Yet ... something wasn't right.

Later, I reflected on what he said. There are two posts in the past on this blog where I recalled his speeches. One is "No Fun Please, We Are Muslims". The other topic was "Music and Its Power".

I had the opportunity to hear him speak on a few occasions. Today, I can see some sugar coating by some of his ardent supporters but to me there remained no doubt that he has very rigid opinions on what Islam is and what Muslims can do. He would not allow non-Muslims living in a Muslim country to spread their own religion because "they are wrong". Music is something that should almost be banned. I didn't witness the famous excerpt where he is alleged to have said homosexuals and those leaving from Islam should be killed, but my impression was that his attitude wouldn't be the friendliest to them.

Clearly he said a woman's lack of modest clothing would lead to her getting raped. He cited some statistics about how many women are getting raped in the USA and Canada all the time. Women who are of age and not married to a husband would become "public property", said Dr Naik. I remember hearing the word "public property" in that context. And no one, not even the women, got outraged.

People loved him for being able to cite verse numbers and chapter numbers of various holy books of all religions to underscore a point he was making. To me, the conclusions he were drawing seemed quite far fetched, yet people got offended when I pointed them out. How can he, I said, for example, ban a Jewish guy from spreading the Torah in a Muslim country when the Prophet Muhammad himself did no such thing? According to Muslims the Prophet was the perfect man leading the perfect state, yet in his state there was singing in the wedding and women were not prohibited to ride on camels and graves were not destroyed and Jews/Christians/Idolaters were free to spread their religion, and yet, are we today more pious than the Prophet?

To me, Dr Naik may be right on some things, but he was also wrong on a lot of others. To me, his views are not something I can identify with as a Western Muslim.

Is that why did Canada banned him? I can shed no tears on his ban, and if the argument is that his views are incompatible with Canadians then it's a fact.

Yet ... in another Toronto Star article it is stated he is banned (in Britain) for "unacceptable behaviour".

I was there at his "Every Muslim should be a terrorist" speech. He is being totally misquoted out of context for that one. To even cite that as a reason is being intellectually dishonest. As for the other statements, I agree then he does not espouse pro-Western views, and perhaps promote (indirectly or directly) hatred against certain groups or religions.

Then, why is Ann Coulter then allowed entry to Canada? Here's some of her quotes:
"I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo."

"Not all Muslims may be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims."

"I don't know if [former U.S. President Bill Clinton is] gay. But [former U.S. Vice President] Al Gore - total fag."

"[Canadians] better hope the United States does not roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent."
Here is someone who has expressed hatred towards a religion (Islam), a group (gays/democrats/liberals), a Western country (Canada) and yet she is allowed entry to Canada. I could go on about other similar examples but it seems the ban on Dr Zakir Naik is hypocritical to say the least.

I agree that entry to Canada is a privilege for foreigners. But there should be a consistent fair set of standards applied when preventing entry. This is why I cannot support the ban on Dr Zakir Naik. He is no more gay-bashing anti-Canadian-values person than Ann Coulter.

I hope Muslims in Canada can use the ban as a positive development and turn this into an opportunity to develop home grown imams who espouse both Canadian and Islamic values (which are perfectly compatible - except, er, beer contests). Then we wouldn't need a faulty foreign role model.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Soccer Teams In Cricket

So as I watched England get thrashed by Germany today, I had the notion that England are a lot like India in cricket. Overhyped team, overpaid stars, a domestic league that is all glitz and glamour without being good. So I continued the train of thought, if each cricket team had to have a football substitute, which ones would they be?


No doubt this is England. The IPL in India is what EPL is to English soccer - a league with lot of money and lot of talent, but not of the home team. Substandard quality but each time the World Cup comes around, they are supposedly the favourites. Until they go home.


It's a tie.

Fighting between the team and coach, divisions within the team, charges of match fixing in the domestic league, the captain meeting with the President after another bad World Cup, yet on their day they can be mercurial and beat the best of the best, and yet flop the next day.

It's France and Italy for Pakistan.


They are the Cameroon. Always young players, always full of potential, always with a lot of promise, always exiting at the first round, always promising to "build on this". Living off one glorious run past the group stages of a bygone World Cup - that's Bangladesh for you.

South Africa:

Spain. An all star team. One of the firm favourites to win.

Crucial must-win match.


Enough said.

Sri Lanka:

Despite their pedigree and previous history, this team always flies into the World Cup with low expectations. Their players love each other and click as a team, and somehow ALWAYS manage to find a way into the finals or semi-finals, no matter what their pre-tournament form is. So fluid, a pleasure to watch, and thrilling when they win.

And with their record of crushing minnows, there is no doubt - Germany are the Sri Lanka of football.


The big question.

Always the champion.

Always manages to find players to instantly slot into the team and be a world class player.

It takes a genius from the other team having an extra ordinary day with all the luck clicking to knock them out.

Any time.


... just who are the Australians of world football?

No doubt....

there can only be one team.


Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup 2010 - Round of 16 Predictions

Well well. Now we have halved the number of countries who came to South Africa with big dreams, here's how I see the next week happening.

Uruguay vs. South Korea South Korea looked good in their wins, and even in the game against Argentina they looked in with a chance until the late burst of goals. However, Uruguay got the X-factor who is Diego Forlan.

Prediction: 2-0 Uruguay.
Result: 2-1 Uruguay

USA vs. Ghana: Last World Cup Ghana stepped all over USA (literally) to a victory. They looked good, and disciplined, this time around. USA may always believe they are always in with a chance, but Ghana is Africa's last hope. Now if they can only find the net (both their goals have been penalties). Given that referees have been anti-US this time around, maybe it will happen again!

Prediction: 1-0 Ghana.
Result: 2-1 Ghana

Germany vs. England: The BIG ONE. England look finally like hitting their straps, and it reminds me of Canada at Vancouver, where they were playing their first round ice hockey games badly, and barely qualified, and then ran into Russia, and steam rolled them. Perhaps England are the same ... ? *hope*

Prediction: 2-1 England.
Result: 4-1 Germany

Argentina vs. Mexico: Good though Mexico has been, Argentina was in another level altogether.

Prediction: 2-0 Argentina.
Result: 3-1 Argentina

Holland vs. Slovakia: Holland hasn't played the total football we know they are capable of, yet they are getting the job done. Reminds me of South Africa in cricket, who never look good yet are machine like. Until they run into the eventual champions.

Prediction: 1-0 Holland.
Result: 2-1 Holland

Brazil vs. Chile: Brazil has their main players back while Chile have lost their first line up (or so it seemed) against Spain. Brazil should notch it up a gear (as I predicted, the game against Portugal was a yawn fest), and dispatch of a stubborn Chile.

Prediction: 2-1 Brazil.
Result: 3-0 Brazil

Paraguay vs. Japan: Did Japan ever think, even when they qualified second, that they would be facing Paraguay and not Italy? Their free kicks were really, really good and they just lost to Holland. But the South American team has shed off its traditional defensive game and played brightly. If Japan can avoid conceding an early goal, I expect them to hold out just enough for a win. That would be my upset prediction.

Prediction: 1-0 Japan.
Result: 0-0 Paraguay on penalties (5-3)

Spain vs. Portugal: I hope Spain thrashes Ronaldo (er, Portugal). Zidane once said when Spain learns how to win, they won't stop. Perhaps that will be true this World Cup.

Prediction: 2-1 Spain.

Now, what's your predictions?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Cup 2010 - 1st Round Last Leg Predictions 2 of 2

Here's my predictions for the next couple of days' matches.

Paraguay vs. New Zealand: I would LOVE New Zealand to go through, but while they were successful in holding off Italy, Paraguay has one thing Italy are missing - a striker.

Prediction: 2-0 Paraguay.
Result: 0-0

Slovakia vs. Italy: On paper this is easily Italy's. Despite their hiccups, I am expecting an Italy victory. Hopefully, I am wrong.

Prediction: 1-0 Italy.
Result: 3-2 Slovakia

Denmark vs. Japan: This one is tough to call as both teams look resilient and in form despite a terrible warm up campaign. Denmark is the champion of long passes though, so I would hedge it in their favour.

Prediction: 2-1 Denmark.
Result: 3-1 Japan

Cameroon vs. Holland: No contest. Next to Algeria, Cameroon are probably the worst team from Africa. Without being their best, Holland has managed to produce the goods.

Prediction: 2-0 Holland.
Result: 2-1 Holland

Portugal vs. Brazil: With a potential to be the match of the day and both teams through (Brazil, mathematically, Portugal practically), I am expecting this to be a dull, cagey draw. A nothing to gain, nothing to lose for both.

Prediction: 1-1.
Result: 0-0

North Korea vs. Ivory Coast: Another African disappointment, at least they will hope for a victory here. North Korea has blown hot and cold, but the Ivory Coast should be able to win here. If however Portugal starts losing 3-0 in the other game, expect the Ivory Coast to then gun for it.

Prediction: 2-0 Ivory Coast.
Result: 3-0 Ivory Coast

Switzerland vs. Honduras: Can BOTH these teams lose? Please?

Prediction: 2-0 Switzerland.
Result: 0-0

Spain vs. Chile: They save the best for the last. Will a South American team taste defeat for the first time this world cup? This could be a time even with two victories you can go out. I am calling this for Chile though.

Prediction: 2-1 Chile.
Result: 2-1 Spain

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World Cup 2010 - 1st Round Last Leg Predictions 1 of 2

With two legs of the group stages already done, tomorrow sees the last leg of the group games, with matches played simultaneously, begin. At the risk of getting egg on my face, here are my predictions:

Mexico vs. Uruguay: Both teams, you can say, "got the job done" so far. A draw would see both qualify, irregardless of other results. Yet, you have to feel they would both go for a win. One would get the early goal, the other team would equalize at the end, and then they would both indulge in time wasting.

Prediction: 1-1.
Result: 1-0 Uruguay

France vs. South Africa: the game means more for the hosts, but a disunited France should still be strong enough for them. Yet, I will ignore my head and go with my heart on this.

Prediction: 2-1 South Africa.
Result: 2-1 South Africa

Greece vs. Argentina: Argentina (well, Messi really) has been absolutely fabulous. Greeks will be all out to sea here. Greeks will defend hoping for a break that will never come, and Argentina only know one way to play.

Prediction: 3-0 Argentina.
Result: 2-0 Argentina

Nigeria vs. Korea: this is a strange group, with a 1-0 win enough for Nigeria to go through despite two defeats, if Argentina as expected beats Greece. Korea, though, looked good. Though I see a 2002 run to the semifinals difficult to repeat, I would tip a disciplined and more physically fit Korea to win over the misfiring Africans.

Prediction: 1-0 Korea.
Result: 2-2

Slovenia vs. England: Even if England wins, what's the point - they are absolutely rubbish. Lightning does not strike twice and I would expect them to score an early goal through a set piece and defend it like the Italians.

Prediction: 1-0 England.
Result: 1-0 England

USA vs. Algeria: The Americans have been good, really good. If not for a refereeing call, they would have won their last match. I expect them to easily win this one.

Prediction: 2-0 USA.
Result: 1-0 USA

Australia vs. Serbia: This one is hard to predict. You would think the Serbians would be favourites, but the Aussies are a stubborn dog. Yet, if not for a handball, Serbia would be sitting pretty at top of the group, and the Australians can't end the game with the same number of players they started with.

Prediction: 1-0 Serbia.
Result: 2-1 Australia

Ghana vs. Germany: All the African teams have been terrible so far, and Ghana had the only victory, yet they never look like scoring. In fact, both their goals have come from penalties. And the Germans looked really good against Australia. I expect normal service to resume and for Germany to eliminate the last African team standing.

Prediction: 2-1 Germany.
Result: 1-0 Germany

Next set of predictions on tomorrow (Wednesday) night.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Waving The Flag

The Wife and I recently met up with the charming Organica, who was visiting Toronto. Organica remarked she found it amazing that how many people were flying the flags of various countries participating at the World Cup from their cars. It wasn't like that in her home town. Indeed, of all the places I have visited, New York included, I don't think any city comes as diverse as Toronto.

Every four years when World Cup comes around you will see all the flags around Toronto. Some have two, three or more. Here's the post from the last World Cup.

At this time you will hear some radio commentators lament the flag that people are not flying two flags, one of the country they are supporting (mostly of their country of origin) and one of Canada - especially that Canada Day is so close.

They are mostly losers who have no love of soccer and in typical right wing mentality think that only waving the flag entails patriotism. I say fly whatever flag you want, and fly it proud! Now where's my Brazil flag?

It's a pity the South African flag won't fly much longer, unless the remarkable happens in their match against France

I usually support England, but with the dreadful way they are playing, even if they win the group and qualify, what's the point?

Lot's of support for Italy in Toronto. Lovely people, lovely country, but boring style of play for me. I want them out.

Now this sight you will never see in Bangladesh. Either you support Argentina or Brazil, not both!

Who are YOU cheering for?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

At the local mosque: World Cup Has Begun

This Friday I took a day off and had the time to attend Friday noon prayers at the big mosque near home. I went to the 1.45 prayers, that way giving me enough time to come home and catch the 2nd game of the World Cup.

The imam was giving a speech on ... the World Cup. Ah, this should be interesting!

"In Islam, there is NOTHING wrong with sports. Football is a good game and keeps you fit. So in Islam there is nothing WRONG with the game but ..."

I KNEW IT. There would be a "but". But why?

"some people take it too excess and forget their prayers and this is why it's very bad .."

Oh man! (Can I says Jeee-sus!) Why, of ALL the terrible problems facing your community you are taking out your anger on football?

I can say the following also.

"In Islam, there is NOTHING wrong with eating. Eating is a good activity and keeps you healthy. So in Islam there is nothing WRONG with the eating but some people take it to excess and miss the prayers ..."

Then the imam continued, "some people watch the games late at night and miss Fajr prayers."

Er, imam? If you take a look at the schedule (it's available on the CBC website) you can see all the games are in the morning in Canada. In fact, if you pray Fajr you can actually wake up in time to catch the earliest game! You are imam in Canada, why you are you giving the speech an imam in Bangladesh would make? I mean today, I woke up for Fajr prayers partly because the Algeria-Slovenia game was soon after. In hindsight I should have gone straight to bed (one team doesn't know how to score and the other doesn't want to score).

But, imam, what if I say, "some people catch a little 'action' *wink wink* late at night and miss Fajr prayers."

So if, imam, you are not warning about the eating and the 'action' why are you taking out your ire against the football World Cup? Surprisingly I haven't heard a thing about the Cricket World Cup. At 8 hours per game surely you are missing more than ONE prayer there!

It's not a unique thing. If you take a look at the supposedly #1 muslim blog MuslimMatters on their recent post about the World Cup, you will see all sort of weird comments. Some guys are concerned that players play in shorts.

There must be something wrong with some muslims if the sight of a MAN's bony knee can turn a muslim MAN on. And every concern about these supposed muslim creatures seem to be a woman's ankle or a guy's knee which turns them on. Must be some repressed people - these so-called salafists.

Why can't you just give thanks to God for the beautiful game that is soccer and pray to Allah so that your countries win and produce a decent squad? I mean, Canada's team can't beat a country like Honduras. Now that, would be a talking point.

I would love to see a cool imam who goes "ah the World Cup is here. Just for clarification I am supporting such-and-such team (perhaps England, to score against them you just shoot AT the goalie). But. I am also here taking care of my obligations to Allah. Which all of you can also. Never forget your prayers come first (and especially England needs all the prayers it can get). So, while you enjoy your games, eat and do 'other stuff', remember to give to charity, say your prayers and help the downtrodden."

Now that would be a great goal.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Why I support the Facebook ban by Bangladesh (and Pakistan)

Let us forget for the moment that the governments of Bangladesh and Pakistan are one of the most corrupt governments in history and they have anything but the welfare of their people in mind when they make decisions. Let's assume, for the purposes of this post, that they banned Facebook in their countries for the sole reason of "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" page that was not taken down by Facebook.

Here is why I support such a ban.
  1. It is not that the governments of Bangladesh and Pakistan banned public gatherings, freedom of speech, the internet or mass communication. A single website was banned. There are many ways to communicate to other people. So it's not that freedom of speech was curtailed. There are other social web networks.

  2. Drawing a caricature of Muhammad showing him in a degrading fashion is offensive to the majority of Muslims. Just like calling a black man a negro is offensive in USA, promoting Nazi culture is offensive in Germany (and illegal) and denying the Holocaust is offensive in many European countries. Just because you don't find it offensive does not mean others don't. If you have the right to offend, then don't be surprised when people exercise their right to be offended.

  3. Making fun of Muhammad is illegal in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Facebook is a company. By not taking down those pages it broke the laws in those countries. The countries therefore punished the company for breaking their laws. Facebook had to make a decision as to whether to stick to its values of "free speech" and operating in those countries, and it chose to ignore the laws. It therefore has to suffer the consequences.

  4. If Facebook was really about "freedom of speech", as they say they are, then it seems they are very selective in their "freedom of speech". One gentleman from Pakistan decided to test their limits, and this is his story.

  5. Making fun of the Prophet is hate speech - to Muslims. It may not be hate speech to you. Similarly, to many Bangladeshis who have never faced the wrath of Hitler, it's no big deal to praise some of his economic policies, but it's hate speech to Jews. If you support total freedom of speech then you have to support ALL hate speech.

  6. I don't think we have complete and absolute freedom of speech. We never had. Every society has its taboos. Facebook breached one such taboo in those countries and got punished fair.

  7. The ban is a non violent protest against Facebook's actions. If companies suffer financially through such actions, in the future they would be mindful of Muslim sensititivies if they want to do business with them.