Posted: April 25, 2013 Filed under: Uncategorized, Video
Posted: April 25, 2013 Filed under: Pictures, Uncategorized | Tags: Armenian, Armenian Genocide, New York Times, Operation Nemesis, Ottoman Empire, Raphael Lemkin, Turkey, Young Turk
Source: nytimes.com (JOHN KIFNER)
On the eve of World War I, there were two million Armenians in the declining Ottoman Empire. By 1922, there were fewer than 400,000. The others — some 1.5 million — were killed in what historians consider a genocide.
As David Fromkin put it in his widely praised history of World War I and its aftermath, “A Peace to End All Peace”: “Rape and beating were commonplace. Those who were not killed at once were driven through mountains and deserts without food, drink or shelter. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians eventually succumbed or were killed .”
The man who invented the word “genocide”— Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish-Jewish origin — was moved to investigate the attempt to eliminate an entire people by accounts of the massacres of Armenians. He did not, however, coin the word until 1943, applying it to Nazi Germany and the Jews in a book published a year later, “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.”
But to Turks, what happened in 1915 was, at most, just one more messy piece of a very messy war that spelled the end of a once-powerful empire. They reject the conclusions of historians and the term genocide, saying there was no premeditation in the deaths, no systematic attempt to destroy a people. Indeed, in Turkey today it remains a crime — “insulting Turkishness” — to even raise the issue of what happened to the Armenians.
In the United States, a powerful Armenian community centered in Los Angeles has been pressing for years for Congress to condemn the Armenian genocide. Turkey, which cut military ties to France over a similar action, has reacted with angry threats. A bill to that effect nearly passed in the fall of 2007, gaining a majority of co-sponsors and passing a committee vote. But the Bush administration, noting that Turkey is a critical ally — more than 70 per cent of the military air supplies for Iraq go through the Incirlik airbase there — pressed for the bill to be withdrawn, and it was.
The roots of the genocide lie in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The empire’s ruler was also the caliph, or leader of the Islamic community. Minority religious communities, like the Christian Armenians, were allowed to maintain their religious, social and legal structures, but were often subject to extra taxes or other measures.
Concentrated largely in eastern Anatolia, many of them merchants and industrialists, Armenians, historians say, appeared markedly better off in many ways than their Turkish neighbors, largely small peasants or ill-paid government functionaries and soldiers.
At the turn of the 20th Century, the once far-flung Ottoman empire was crumbling at the edges, beset by revolts among Christian subjects to the north — vast swaths of territory were lost in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 — and the subject of coffee house grumbling among Arab nationalist intellectuals in Damascus and elsewhere.
The Young Turk movement of ambitious, discontented junior army officers seized power in 1908, determined to modernize, strengthen and “Turkify” the empire. They were led by what became an all-powerful triumvirate sometimes referred to as the Three Pashas.
In March of 1914, the Young Turks entered World War I on the side of Germany. They attacked to the east, hoping to capture the city of Baku in what would be a disastrous campaign against Russian forces in the Caucuses. They were soundly defeated at the battle of Sarikemish.
Armenians in the area were blamed for siding with the Russians and the Young Turks began a campaign to portray the Armenians as a kind of fifth column, a threat to the state. Indeed, there were Armenian nationalists who acted as guerrillas and cooperated with the Russians. They briefly seized the city of Van in the spring of 1915.
Armenians mark the date April 24, 1915, when several hundred Armenian intellectuals were rounded up, arrested and later executed as the start of the Armenian genocide and it is generally said to have extended to 1917. However, there were also massacres of Armenians in 1894, 1895, 1896, 1909, and a reprise between 1920 and 1923.
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has compiled figures by province and district that show there were 2,133,190 Armenians in the empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922.
Writing at the time of the early series of massacres, The New York Times suggested there was already a “policy of extermination directed against the Christians of Asia Minor.”
The Young Turks, who called themselves the Committee of Unity and Progress, launched a set of measures against the Armenians, including a law authorizing the military and government to deport anyone they “sensed” was a security threat.
A later law allowed the confiscation of abandoned Armenian property. Armenians were ordered to turn in any weapons that they owned to the authorities. Those in the army were disarmed and transferred into labor battalions where they were either killed or worked to death.
There were executions into mass graves, and death marches of men, women and children across the Syrian desert to concentration camps with many dying along the way of exhaustion, exposure and starvation.
Much of this was quite well documented at the time by Western diplomats, missionaries and others, creating widespread wartime outrage against the Turks in the West. Although its ally, Germany, was silent at the time, in later years documents have surfaced from ranking German diplomats and military officers expressing horror at what was going on.
Some historians, however, while acknowledging the widespread deaths, say what happened does not technically fit the definition of genocide largely because they do not feel there is evidence that it was well-planned in advance.
The New York Times covered the issue extensively — 145 articles in 1915 alone by one count — with headlines like “Appeal to Turkey to Stop Massacres.” The Times described the actions against the Armenians as “systematic,” “authorized, and “organized by the government.”
The American ambassador, Henry Morganthau Sr., was also outspoken. In his memoirs, the ambassador would write: “When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact.”
Following the surrender of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, the Three Pashas fled to Germany, where they were given protection. But the Armenian underground formed a group called Operation Nemesis to hunt them down. On March 15, 1921, one of the pashas was shot dead on a street in Berlin in broad daylight in front of witnesses. The gunman pled temporary insanity brought on by the mass killings and a jury took only a little over an hour to acquit him. It was the defense evidence at this trial that drew the interest of Mr. Lemkin, the coiner of “genocide.”
Other Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide
Posted: April 25, 2013 Filed under: News | Tags: Canada, Judge, Niqāb, Ontario, Sexual assault, Supreme Court, Supreme Court of Canada, Toronto
Judge says veil would obscure ability to assess woman’s demeanour
Source: CBC News
An Ontario judge ruled today that a woman accusing two family members of molesting her as a child must remove her face veil during testimony. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)
An Ontario judge has ruled a woman must remove her niqab to testify in a Toronto sexual assault case.
Justice Norris Weisman announced his decision after applying a new testset out by the Supreme Court of Canada dealing with witnesses wearing a veil. The woman at the centre of the case is known only as N.S.
“I conclude that to permit N.S. to testify at the preliminary inquiry with her face obscured by the niqab will impair defence counsels’ ability to assess her demeanour, as well as the [judge’s] ability to assess her credibility,” Weisman said.
The woman has been fighting for six years for the right to wear her niqab during the trial of her uncle and cousin, who are accused of sexually assaulting her when she was a child in the 1980s.
Weisman had first ruled in 2008 that N.S. must remove her niqab during testimony. That decision was appealed all the way up to Supreme Court.
The test set out by Canada’s top court in December includes four issues a judge must consider, including: the potential witness’s depth of religious belief, and whether the veil could lessen the fairness of the trial.
The preliminary hearing for the two relatives accused of sexually abusing the woman is scheduled to begin next week, but her lawyer said the ruling on the niqab will be appealed.
About to turn 75, Judge Weisman is set to retire on May 1.
Posted: April 25, 2013 Filed under: News | Tags: alqaeda, Canada, Hosni Mubarak, Iran, Momin Khawaja, Osama Bin Laden, September 11 attacks, Toronto
Militant Islamist group remains an inspiration to many would-be extremists
Source: CBC News(Andre Mayer)
Security experts say a thwarted plot to derail a passenger train between Toronto and New York is proof of the lingering influence of al-Qaeda in Canada.
“I would say its influence now is as great or greater than it’s ever been, though more in an indirect sense,” says Lorne Dawson, co-director of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society.
Dawson says that one of the achievements of the group behind the Sept. 11 attacks was inspiring like-minded organizations and setting “an example to all these groups around the world on how to reach out and communicate” to would-be extremists.
Part of its indirect influence has been to inspire “self-appointed jihadis” who take it upon themselves to seek out people willing to carry out attacks, and then pass these individuals up the line for further training by someone else.
The alleged train attack plot “appears to be a manifestation of what [Osama] bin Laden advised the world some years ago — namely, that there are a handful of countries that he had wanted struck,” said David Harris, an Ottawa-based lawyer and director of Insignis Strategic Research.
“Canada was among them, and Canada remains the only one of the lot yet to be hit on the scale that al-Qaeda has desired,” he added.
On Monday, RCMP charged Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto, with conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack and “conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group.”
U.S. law enforcement and national security sources told Reuters that these individuals were targeting a rail line between Toronto and New York.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said the two accused were getting “direction and guidance” from al-Qaeda elements in Iran.
The evolution of al-Qaeda
Since the details of the plot were revealed on Monday, many commentators have remarked on how unusual it is that al-Qaeda, a Sunni Muslim organization formed by Osama bin Laden, would have a presence in Iran, a country made up largely of Shia Muslims.
Canadian security expert Wesley Wark says the notion of al-Qaeda as a centralized command structure that authorizes and carries out attacks in Western countries is “a thing of the past.”
He says that even before bin Laden’s death in 2011, the group had splintered off into localized factions, such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, that were more focused on insurgencies in countries such as Mali or Yemen.
“From my perspective, I don’t think al-Qaeda affiliates are likely to target Canada. I think their operations will be primarily on regional environments,” says Wark.
What’s fuelling prospective Muslim radicals in Canada, he says, is the “al-Qaeda narrative” — namely, the legacy and inspiration of bin Laden.
In 2004, Momin Khawaja became the first Canadian charged under Canada’s Anti-terrorism Act.(Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)
Wark says this narrative had a great influence on the Toronto 18, a group that attempted to create an al-Qaeda-type cell in Toronto and carry out attacks on Canadian landmarks; as well as on Mohmin Khawaja, the Canadian-born computer programmer who was convicted in 2008 of financing and facilitating terrorist activities in London.
Dawson, who is based in the department of sociology and legal studies at the University of Waterloo, has looked at case studies of extremists and heard from many experts in the field of radicalization.
He says that in the absence of a top-down recruitment drive, the self-appointed jihadis inspired by al-Qaeda often become “middlemen,” taking it upon themselves to seek out people willing to carry out attacks.
These middlemen “are pretty adept at using the internet, they’ve had conversations in chat forums and they become sort of entrepreneurs,” says Dawson.
“They’re the ones that get in contact with younger people. Conversations are had, and they discover whether they’re dealing with a young person somewhere and whether their commitment [to the cause] is sincere. ”
Once the middleman is convinced the recruit is serious, Dawson says it could lead to a “referral” to a more senior operative who could provide the young radical with training and guidance.
The radicalization problem
Jabeur Fathally, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, believes this country’s experiences with radicalization can be partly attributed to the fallout of the Arab Spring, as well as Canada’s generous immigration policies.
Under such former authoritarian leaders as Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, for example, people that these regimes deemed radical Muslims were often persecuted and denied passports.
But since the overthrow of such strongmen, many Islamist parties have come to power in the Middle East, and have encouraged many of their previously persecuted citizens to study, work or otherwise do business in immigrant-friendly countries such as Canada.
While not all of them are radicals, Fathally says that at least some have sympathies with more hardline, Islamist thought.
“These people can fly easily, they can go to Turkey, they can move easily to Europe, and they can come easily to Canada,” says Fathally.
However, despite the recent media coverage of al-Qaeda-inspired plots in Canada, Wark doesn’t believe that these individuals pose the same existential threat that bin Laden’s group did in its heyday.
“I think they are a lesser threat than an organized, professional, trained network of the kind that al-Qaeda once was,” he says.
“It’s a challenge to uncover them, but the danger that they present is of a smaller degree.”
Posted: April 24, 2013 Filed under: News | Tags: Al-Qaeda, Canada, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Iran, Jaser, Montreal, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Toronto
By Allison Martell and Randall Palmer
TORONTO/MONTREAL (Reuters) – Two men charged with an alleged al Qaeda-backed plot to derail a Canadian passenger train made their first court appearances on Tuesday, and the lawyer for one said his client would fight the charges vigorously.
Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto and Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montrealface charges that include conspiring with each other “to murder unknown persons … for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group.”
They were arrested on Monday in separate raids after what police said was a joint Canada-U.S. investigation that started in the middle of last year after a tip from a member of the Muslim community.
Officers detained Jaser at his home, a semi-detached house in a north Toronto neighborhood, and arrested Esseghaier at a McDonald’s restaurant at Montreal’s main train station.
Canadian police said the plot involved a passenger train route in the Toronto area, and that there had been no immediate threat to rail passengers or to the public.
U.S. officials said that the suspects were believed to have worked on a plan involving blowing up a trestle on the Canadian side of the border as the Maple Leaf, Amtrak’s daily connection between Toronto and New York, passed over it.
They said investigators on both sides of the border were trying to establish if the suspects had associates in the United States, especially in New York City. One source said Esseghaier, in particular, was believed to have made several trips to the United States. CBC Television said Canadian police had tracked him for a year, including on a visit to a conference in Mexico.
Jaser, heavily bearded and wearing a black cap, was remanded in custody after a brief hearing in Toronto. Media were barred from giving details of Jaser’s hearing under a publication ban requested by his lawyer.
“He denies the allegations and he will vigorously defend them,” said the lawyer, John Norris, who has represented Canadian Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr, as well as Asad Ansari, one of a group of Toronto-area men charged in 2006 with planning attacks on Canadian targets.
Norris would not disclose Jaser’s nationality, saying the publication ban precluded discussing Jaser’s personal circumstances. He said Jaser has been a resident of Canada for 20 years.
Norris questioned the timing of the arrests, given a statement by police that the suspects posed no imminent threat. He noted that the arrest coincided with debate in Canada over a vote that would revive parts of the anti-terrorism act, which is supported by the Conservative government.
“The timing of the arrest is a bit of a mystery,” he said.
DENYING THE CHARGES
Outside the courtroom, a middle-aged man and a woman in a cream-colored hijab identified themselves as members of Jaser’s family, but would not answer questions.
With them were two younger men, and two women in full black niqab face veils, who fled when confronted with a throng of reporters, photographers and television crews.
Neighbors of Jaser told Reuters that he mostly kept to himself and attended a Masjid al-Faisal, a mosque in a refashioned house a short walk from his home.
“He was a normal attendee. If he’s coming he says ‘salaam’ to us and we say ‘salaam’ to him. Nothing more special, nothing more unusual, nothing more abnormal,” said Rana Khan, a congregant at the mosque. His alleged involvement in a plot was “a very, very shocking news for all of us over here.”
Esseghaier, a Tunisian-born doctoral student at a Montreal-area university, was flown to Toronto on Monday, but was quickly returned to Montreal to meet a legal requirement that he appear in a Quebec court within 24 hours of his arrest.
Bearded and bespectacled and wearing a shabby blue-and-black winter jacket, handcuffs and leg shackles, he told the judge there that conclusions had been drawn from facts and words “that are only appearances.”
A spokeswoman for the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique near Montreal confirmed to Reuters that Esseghaier was a doctoral student at the research institute.
At the hearing he was remanded in custody, and federal prosecutor Richard Roy said he expected Esseghaier to be flown back to Toronto later on Tuesday for a court appearance there.
Esseghaier represented himself at the hearing, which was not covered by a publication ban.
Canadian authorities have linked the two men to al Qaeda factions in Iran. But they said there was no indication of Iranian state-sponsorship of the plan, which police described as the first known al Qaeda-backed plot on Canadian soil.
DEATHS OR INJURIES FORESEEN
“Had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police official James Malizia said on Monday.
Iran had some senior al Qaeda figures under a form of house arrest in the years following the September 11, 2001, attacks, but there has been little to no evidence to date of joint attempts to execute violence against the West.
However, a U.S. government source said Iran is home to a little-known network of alleged al Qaeda fixers and “facilitators” based in the city of Zahedan, very close to Iran’s borders with both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Iran reacted angrily to being tied to the arrests. Canada last year severed diplomatic ties over what it said was Iran’s support for terrorist groups, as well as its nuclear programmed and its hostility towards Israel.
“No shred of evidence regarding those who’ve been arrested and stand accused has been provided,” Iranian Foreign Minister spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, according to the Mehr news agency.
(Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp and Mark Hosenball; Writing by Cameron French; Editing by Janet Guttsman and David Storey)
(This story is refiled to exclude ‘with each other’ from quotation marks in second paragraph)
Posted: April 22, 2013 Filed under: News, Video
Posted: April 22, 2013 Filed under: News | Tags: Al-Qaeda, Canada, Iran, Montreal, New York City, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Toronto, United States Department of Homeland Security
Source: dailymail.co.uk (MICHAEL ZENNIE)
- Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto, were arrested today
- Suspected received orders and got guidance from al-Qaeda leader in Iran
- Planned to target New York-bound trains in Toronto
- May have scouted targets in New York
Canadian security forces have thwarted an al-Qaeda-backed terrorist plot to derail a passenger train from New York City as it crossed the Niagara River, just a few miles from Niagara Falls.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police today arrested Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto, who they say took orders and received guidance from al-Qaeda operatives in Iran.
Officials reportedly watched the men for more than a year and say the plot never got past the planning stages. Canadian counter-terrorism officials say the public was never in danger, the the men would have carried out the attack if they had not been stopped.
Neither of the men are Canadian citizens, but security officials wouldn’t say where they were from or why they were in the country.
Targeted: Authorities say two accused terrorists conducted surveillance on Via Rail trains, Canada’s national passenger rail service, with the intention of derailing one of the trains
A U.S. law enforcement source told Reuters the alleged plot was not linked with last week’s Boston Marathon bombings.
The two men allegedly planned to derail an Amtrak or Canadian Via train as it crossed over the Whirpool Rapids Bridge from the United States into Canada.
The historic arch bridge spans the Niagara River 225 feet above the water.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said the operations was conducted with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.
A source told Reuters that the Amtrak Maple Leaf line, which runs from New York City to Toronto, was targeted. Canadian officials declined to confirm which trains were targeted.
‘Today’s arrests demonstrate that terrorism continues to be a real threat to Canada,’ Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told reporters in Ottawa.
‘Canada will not tolerate terrorist activity and we will not be used as a safe haven for terrorists or those who support terrorist activities.’
Perhaps the biggest surprise to come out of the announcement is that the orders were given by al-Qaeda leaders in Iran.
Iran, a Shi’a-majority country, is a strange ally for the fiercely Sunni Muslim terrorist group.
CNN reported last month that the few surviving members of Osama bin Laden‘s inner circle currently reside in Iran.
Some of bin Laden’s family are said to be under house arrest in Tehran. Others – including top advisers – live in the ski resort city of Chalus on the Caspian Sea.
Canadian authorities, though, were careful to make clear that this was not an instance of state-sponsored terrorism.
The arrests follow not only the Boston bombings but revelations that Canadians took part in an attack by militants on a gas plant in Algeria in January.
It also recalls the arrests in 2006 of a group of more than a dozen Toronto-area men accused of planning to plant bombs at various Canadian targets. Eleven men were eventually convicted of taking part on the plot.
Announcement: Authorities gave few details about the plot, but said the public was never in danger
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2313125/Canada-terror-plot-Authorities-thwart-al-Qaeda-backed-attack-trains-Toronto.html#ixzz2RER6uFGB
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Posted: April 18, 2013 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Afghanistan, Arab, Hindu, Hindu temple, India, Islam, Muhammad, Muslim
Why Muslims Loot and Destroy Hindu Temples
by Anestos Canelides Friday, June 18, 2010
Sources:K.S. Lal, The Legacy of Jihad: Muslims Invade India, Prometheus Books
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, Simon and Schuster. New York, 1954
According to Reuters, on July 27th, 2008, Islamic extremists put several Indian cities on high alert, and about forty people became victims in two days of bombings. It was reported that 16 small bombs were exploded in the Indian city of Ahmadabad on Saturday, killing at least 39 people and wounding 110. A day later another set of blasts in Bangalore tragically killed a woman.
A little-known group called the “Indian Mujahideen” claimed responsibility for the bombing, although it is unusual for any group to make such a claim. It is believed it was a militant group from Pakistan that actually carried out the attack. Reuters’ Islamic analysts blamed the violence on the Indian government, due to its neglect of the poverty-stricken Muslim community. According to Uday Bhaskar, a security analyst and former director of New Delhi’s Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, the disenfranchisement of India’s Muslims has forced them to join the global/regional jihad. (www.jihadwatch.org) Is it really because Muslims faced discrimination by the kuffar — the unbelievers of India — or does it go much further back in history? The truth is that if one looks at the historical record, these attacks on the Hindus cannot be justified. Some of the major targets of these bombings have been Hindu Temples, and this has been happening for decades.
In light of these attacks on Hindu Temples by Islamic extremists during the last several decades, it is important to realize that this is not a modern phenomenon. While one cannot say it is not totally separate from issues such as Muslim independence from India in Kashmir, in reality the roots go much deeper in history. The ideology of Islamic supremacism has not changed, and it is this same religious fanaticism that resulted in the Islamic conquests of ancient India, from present day Afghanistan to southern India. To the pious Muslim rule by non- Muslims is still unacceptable, and the modern nation of India is still largely a pagan nation full of idolaters.
The point of this article is not to understand the dhimmis — people of the book — but rather the contrast that the idolaters faced from a historical viewpoint. What is the Islamic ideology behind the attacks on the Hindu people of India and their religion? What are its roots? Why did the Muslims destroy temples and other religious artifacts in India? Is this connected to the modern-day attacks in India?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The great historian Will Durant clearly states that the “Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history.”2 He wrote these words prior to World War II, but even so, compared with the Muslim conquest of Christian and Jewish lands, the Muslim conquest of India was extremely brutal.
India was and still is largely Hindu, with some pockets of Buddhist and other assorted faiths, but under the teachings of Muhammad they were all idol worshippers. Unlike Christians, Jews and certain other groups, Hindus were not classified as “People of the Book”, and were not given the option to pay a protection tax called the jizya to be able to retain their faith.
People of the Book were given three choices: convert, pay the protection tax, or die. It was after paying this tax they moved from the House of War,Dar al-Harb, to the House of Peace, Dar al-Islam.Groups classified as idolaters were only given two choices: convert or die. Later on the kuffar (unbelievers) in India were given the same status as people of the book, but this only happened after their Muslim masters saw how lucrative it would be to tax these idolaters. Still, the Islamic conquests of India brought onto the Indians centuries of cruelty, even after they were granted dhimmi status.
– – – – – – – – –
The first Muslim attack began with a raid on Multan, in the western Punjab region of India, and similar raids continued at the convenience of the invaders for the next three centuries. Eventually this led not only to conquest, but also to the establishment of Islam in the Indus Valley contemporaneously with the battles fought by its co-religionists against the Franks at the Battle of Tours in 731 AD. However, the real conquest of Hindu/Buddhist lands did not come fully into fruition until the turn of first millennium after Christ.
In any case, military contact by the “peaceful” armies of Islam in pagan India resulted in conversion, destruction of property such as temples, outright slaughter, enslavement, and pillaging. These brutal attacks continued for the next 500 years, bringing war upon the kuffar from Afghanistan to southern India. The invasions caused the destruction of many temples throughout the lands of India, and in some cases eliminated Hindu and Buddhist culture from certain regions forever. Other groups such as the Jains faced the same threat from Islam.1
Arab conquests: the beginning
It was after the complete conquest of Persia under the Sassanid Dynasty in 637 AD that the boundaries of the Caliphate touched the frontiers of India, known as Hind va Sind by the Arabs. It was natural that India could not escape the attention of the Islamic expansionists, whose eyes were ever-hungry for converts, conquest, loot, and slaves.
The raids started in the territories of Sind by land and sea. At first the progress of invading Arab armies was slow, and they faced numerous defeats due to stiff resistance. “For the declaration of objectives of Muslim invaders had not taken into account the potentialities of India’s stiff and latent resistance.”1
Subsequent invasions were repulsed, and the Arabs enjoyed little success until they began to invade from the northwest, emboldened by the earlier annex of Khurasan in 643 AD. The first Arab army penetrated into Zabul, or present day Afghanistan, which at that time was part of India territorially as well as culturally. The Arabs were driven out of Zabul, but later reconquered the territory under Arab General Abdul Rahman, forcing Kabul to pay tribute to the Muslim conquerors.1
The attempts to conquer southern India continued by land and sea, but the first subjugation of India proper began in 712 AD with a full-fledged invasion. The main purpose of the invasion of India was the spread of Islam into the region. The Qur’an clearly says, “fight against them (the Mushriks) until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reins supreme” The one thing these Muslims knew about the inhabitants of India was they were idol-worshippers and infidels, which led to only one conclusion: conquest. This is repeated in Sura 69 “Lay hold of him and bind him. Burn him in the fire of Hell,” and again “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly.”
The invading Muslims knew about their duty concerning such idol worshippers with the instructions coming from three sources: the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the personal exploits of Muhammad himself. The supreme Qur’an taught them to fight the kuffar or unbeliever with all their strength until they were subdued. It was their pious duty to convert them and destroy their idols, shrines and temples.
“The Jihad or Holy War is a multi-dimensional concept. It means fighting for the sake of Allah, for the cause of Islam, for converting people to the true faith.”1 The central theme in Islam is iconoclasm and razing pagan temples, often to replace them with mosques. It is justified by Quranic revelation, and the examples are written in the Sunnah of Muhammad, who destroyed Arab temples, thus, setting an example for his followers. This example was carried into India, or anywhere else they came in contact with Kuffar. Without jihad there would be no Islam, and jihad is the duty of every true Muslim alive, from the time of the Prophet Muhammad until today.1
History does testify to the destruction caused by incursion of the religion of peace into India, which started with the Arabs.1
The Arab Jihad on Indian culture
A clear example of the destruction of the Hindu/Buddhist culture and their temples can be seen in the siege of Debal by Muhammad bin Qasim; who marched into India with a large military expedition. His forces were supplied by Muhammad Harun, the governor of Makran, with weapons of siege warfare such as five catapults. Debal was located on the coast, and was so called because of its Deval or temple. Qasim arrived at the city walls in late 711 or early 712 AD with about 20,000 foot soldiers and cavalry. The Muslims gave the initial invitation to convert, and many in the lower rung of society known as the Jats and Meds, who were thoroughly uneducated, accepted this invitation and flocked to the standard of Islam. Their main motivation was the hope of more material gain and the desire to escape from the Hindu caste system.
Much of the population in India — such as the Buddhists, who were totally averse to fighting — was passive; their faith taught them to avoid bloodshed. Many people were indifferent to invasion, but some resisted. K.S Lal states, “In such a situation it were only Raja Dahir of Sind, his Kshatriya soldiers and Brahman Priests of the Temple who were called upon to defend their cities and shrines, citadels and country. This is based upon a Muslim source and should be accepted with caution.”1
In the latter part of the siege of Debal, defectors informed Muhammad about how the temple could be captured. Following their information, the Arabs planted their ladders on the walls of the citadel and stormed over them. Once they took Debal the citizens were given the invitation to accept Islam and upon refusal the males were slaughtered and the women and children were taken into slavery. The carnage lasted for three days: looting, plundering, and rape. Their temple was razed, and was replaced by a mosque. Muhammad left a garrison of 4,000 soldiers in the town. The spoils of conquest were divided first among the leadership and then the common soldiers, and this would be repeated again and again with continued Islamic conquests. “As this was the pattern of all future sieges of Muhammad bin Qasim — as indeed of all future Muslim invaders of Hindustan — it may be repeated. Inhabitants of a captured fort or town were invited to accept Islam or face death.”1 India would face three major invasions over the centuries, beginning with the Arabs and continuing with the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century AD. Over and over again the same scenario repeated itself, with those who converted being spared and those who did not accept the religion of peace being massacred or enslaved. In every case their temples were destroyed, along with all the idols within them, and the remains of the temple were used to build a mosque on the former temple site.1 Later Turkish invasions would even be more brutal.
Example: Jihad by the Turks on the Indian culture
The Turkic Seljuk tribes who had converted to Islam were no less destructive to India’s largely Hindu and Buddhist population. Like the Arabs, the Turks gave the same invitation to convert or die.
In the year 997 AD a Turkish chieftain by the name of Mahmud in eastern Afghanistan cast an envious eye at the wealth across the Indian frontier, because his throne was new and his kingdom was poor. Mahmud knew the kuffar in India were extremely wealthy and he wanted their riches for himself. Using a zeal against idolatry as a pretext for war, he swept across their frontiers with a force inspired by a pious lust for booty. He slaughtered the unprepared Hindus at Bhimnagar, pillaged their cities, and destroyed their temples, carrying away the accumulated treasures of centuries. He returned to his capital in Afghanistan with so much loot that he astonished foreign ambassadors by displaying “jewels and unbored pearls and rubies shining like sparks or like wine congealed with ice, and emeralds like fresh sprigs of myrtle and diamonds in size and weight like pomegranates.”2 Each winter he returned and invaded India to fill his treasure chests and allow his men to pillage and kill, only to return to his capital richer than before.2
At the town of Mathura, Mahmud looted from the temple gold statues encrusted with precious stones and emptied its coffers of gold, silver and jewels. At the same time he expressed an admiration for the architecture of the city’s great shrine, and he judged that its duplication would cost him about one hundred million dinars and the labor of 200 years. He then ordered it soaked with naphtha and burnt to the ground. Six years later he sacked a city in Northern India called Somnath, and murdered all 50,000 of its inhabitants, although at other times he spared the population to be taken to his capital as slaves.2
The whole scenario in this conflict between India and the Muslim world would continue even after India became independent from Great Britain. The separation of India into Pakistan only confirms the hostility by some Muslim groups against their kuffar neighbors.
It is still clear that the main objective of radical Muslims in destroying Hindu temples was laid out by the examples of their Prophet Muhammad. For pious Muslim these temples are not only full of idols or false gods, but are an affront to the Unity of God — after all, there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.
Islam is not only a religion but it is a political system which does not tolerate rule by the infidel kuffar, let alone Hindu idolaters. Until the day comes when Islam is reformed, as Christianity has been, there will be no peace between radical Muslims and the non-Muslim population of India. The bombing of Hindu temples and other property will likely continue even if Kashmir gains independence from India.
Radical Islam only respects strength and courage. This fact is supported by Spero Vyronis in Medieval Historiography. In his book he states that during the First Crusade the only virtue that Arabs respected the Franks (French) for was their courage. This can be no less true for the government of India and, yes, the USA as well.
If we do not learn from history then we will never be able to deal with the Islamic threat. Respect will only come from the Muslim world by carrying a bigger stick.