Sunday, April 24, 2011


A revealing case study

By: Gulamhusein A. Abba

Marrickville is a small but charming inner western suburb of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. Though it has a modest population of about 75,000 it is very multi-cultural. Over a 100 different cultures are represented here, with 70 or more different languages spoken. It has a sister city relationship with Bethlehem.

On Tuesday, December 14, 2010, this small city made history by becoming the first and only municipality to pass a resolution in support of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

After four and a half hours of debate on local issues, the Marrickville Council took up Item 11 – Notice of Motion: Supporting the Global Boycott, Divestments and Sanction Campaign.

The Greens, Labor and an Independent Councilors united at Marrickville Municipal Council to adopt the following resolution moved by Greens Councilor Cathy Peters:

In particular recognition of its sister city relationship with Bethlehem and the strong support for this relationship from local progressive faith communities and other community members, Marrickville Council support the principles of the BDS global campaign and report back on any links the Council has with organizations or companies that support or profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine with a view to the Council divesting from such links and imposing a boycott on any future such links or goods purchases.

Marrickville Council boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, institutional academic, government or institutional cultural exchanges.

Marrickville Council write to the local State and Federal ministers (Carmel Tebbutt and Anthony Albanese) informing them of Council’s position and seeking their support at the State and Federal level for the global BDS movement.

The meeting was attended by all the 12 members of the Council. The motion was carried, with 10 in favor and 2 against.

The voting on the resolution showed remarkable unity. Of the 12 Council members, the 10 who voted in favor comprised of five Greens, four Labor and one independent. Only two voted against the resolution, both independents (Hanna is Egyptian and Macri is Italian).

And yet, almost immediately after the vote, powerful forces came together in an effort to get the vote rescinded and oust mayor Fiona Byrne, a member of the Greens..

Those who voted in favor of the resolution, and mayor Fina Byrne particularly, became subjects of vilification in the press owned by international media proprietor Rupert Murdoch. A vicious smear campaign was launched. Vitriolic attacks were mounted. Character assassination was resorted to and even death threats were flung.

The local authority was compared to North Korea! It was accused of meddling in foreign affairs. Even death threats came from Australia’s lunatic fringe.

Positioning the issue as being loyalty to “democratic” ally Israel and “terrorist” Palestinians, articles praising Israel and condemning Palestinians sprouted all over.

An article in the Australian Islamist Monitor website entitled “Australian Council Disgraces Itself” berated the local authority and leveled scurrilous charges against it, saying: “you have got it all wrong — you have sided with the aggressors, the bullies, the friends of Hitler and those whom Hitler considered his friends in their antisemitism [sic].” And one comment following the article read: “This is insane. I hate these people. I would like to have a 22 and pick them off one by one for target practice. Better still a suicide bomber in their midst…..”

Surprisingly, Federal Minister Anthony Albanese (Labor), who has in the past been supportive of Palestine solidarity campaigns and critical of Israel’s human rights record, came out strongly against Marrickville’s BDS resolution. Sydney commentators have suggested that the real-politik of upcoming elections could have been behind Albanese’s condemnation of the boycott vote. An article in the Australian mentioned the risks to Albanese’s seat from the Green Party. Also relevant is the fact that Carmel Tebbutt, the New South Wales state legislature member (Labor) for Marrickville, is Albanese’s wife — and that her seat was under threat from Marrickville Green Mayor Fiona Byrne in the then upcoming state-level elections.

In all this hullabaloo the Palestinians and their plight was made invisible.

In the midst of all this drama, the Marricckville Council held a meeting on Feb.15. On the agenda of the Council meeting were questions dealing with the costs of the BDS in both time and money. Pro BDS and anti BDS speakers presented their views on the question. Pulver Jackson, an Aboriginal convert to Judaism, now a Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales, told the Council that Wiradjuri Koori, of which she was a member, had to deal with discrimination on a daily basis. She claimed that as a Jew, she was going through this again. She said she objected to the Council excluding sections of the community when making its decisions which, she said, will “divide rather than unite our community”.

David Schlesinger, who lives in the area and is the father of three children, told J-Wire: “I would find it unthinkable if an Israeli cultural show or exhibition was banned from the area and my children could not enjoy locally their own cultural background.”

Greens Council member, who had proposed the BDS resolution on December 14, told J-Wire that her grandparents were in Theriesenstadt during the war. “I am proud of my Jewish background but not of the Apartheid activities of the Israelis in the West Bank…”

Independent Councillors Victor Macri and Morris Hanna, both of whom had voted against the December 14 resolution, were confident that other members of the Council would “see the light” and would vote differently should a rescission move be called.

There are twelve members of Marrickville Council. Five are Greens Part, four are Labor and three are Independents.

At the February 15 meeting, Mayor Fiona Byrne informed the Council and those present that they were still seeking advice on how to put the BDS into practice.

The campaign against BDS became shriller as another meeting of the Council approached. After the state elections, the newly elected Premier of NSW said that one of the first items on his government’s agenda would be to end “Marrickville Council’s embargo on Israel.” One newspaper wasted no time in describing the municipal council’s ethical decision to boycott Israel for its human rights abuses against Palestinians as a boycott of Jewish businesses, and therefore, “bordering on anti-Semitic”, ignoring the fact that BDS only targets businesses that trade with Israel, not Jewish businesses specifically.

Not to be left out, Reverend Fred Nile of the Christian Democrats lent his support to a “Day of Special Support for Israel” to counteract what he said was Fiona Byrne’s “hatemongering” and “anti-Semitic attack on Israel”.

By this time, some of the biggest cultural and academic names in the world had thrown their support behind Marrickville Council's boycott of Israel.

Journalist John Pilger, author Naomi Klein, filmmaker Ken Loach and Nobel peace prize laureate Mairead Maguire are among 16 prominent figures who signed a letter of support for the Sydney Council’s resolution supporting the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

As against this, New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell wrote to Byrne a few days before the meeting and threatened to fire the entire council unless the boycott was dropped within 28 days.

The boycott was also opposed by the national leader of the Greens Party, Senator Bob Brown, as well as Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, whose parliamentary seat falls in the Marrickville area.

Ultimately, the crucial meeting of the Council that all had been waiting for was held on April 19. On the agenda was a motion to rescind the Council’s December 14 resolution in favor of the Council adopting BDS

Four hundred people packed the chamber and down two flights of stairs onto the street. There was waving of "Free Palestine" banners and Israeli flags. Activists shouted and jeered and even walked out. Mayor Byrne at times struggled to keep control.

Anglican Rev David Smith, from Dulwich Hill, invoking Gandhi, spoke of "dark forces" arraigned against "little Marrickville".
When it was the turn of Palestinian Samah Sabawi to speak, she said missing was the Palestinian voice. "I've been ethnically cleansed”, she said. Referring to the hardships being inflicted on the Palestinians by Israel, with special reference to the plight of Palestinian refugees unable to return to their ancestral homes, she said that she was prevented from going to live in the home of her ancestors because she was not Jewish.

While Independent Victor Macri, a Marrickville hairdresser, justifying his position against BDS, pointed out there had been "no consultation with the public”, Independent Morris Hanna, president of the Marrickville Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Egyptian Coptic church and the former mayor (he had signed a sister city deal with Bethlehem four years ago), justified his anti-BDS stand by saying: "It's not a local issue ... this is making a joke of us around the world”

This resulted in the most dramatic moment of the night. A woman lunged forward and shouted at Hanna: "Hang your head in shame! Remember Tahrir Square. Shame on you."

During a fiery meeting that lasted more than three hours and was marked by a lot of confusion, eight of 12 Councilors voted to abandon the Council's December 14 resolution in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

The voting showed that six Councilors (four Labor and two Green) withdrew their original support. Four Green Councilors voted to retain the boycott but the fifth, Max Phillips reversed his previous support and this time voted against BDS.

According to Sonja Karkar, co-founder of Australians for Palestine and editor of its web site by that name: “after hearing statements from 17 speakers, both for and against, and then the councillors themselves speaking to the resolution, the Mayor Fiona Byrne tabled a Mayoral Minute which proposed to rescind Point 2 of the original resolution calling for consumer, academic and cultural boycotts and introduced a new Point 2 – an in principle BDS statement which watered down the original Point 1 in principle BDS statement. The motion to amend sought to have the entire Points1 and 2 rescinded as well as deleting Point 2 of the Mayoral Minute. This resulted in a tie and failed when the mayor and chair Fiona Byrne used her casting vote to defeat it. The Mayoral Minute motion rescinding Point 2 of the original as well as the new Point 2 – to boycott and to maintain an in principle support of BDS – was lost.

"The final motion resolved “not to pursue BDS against Israel in any shape or form” while at the same time maintaining the three tenets of the BDS call - to end the occupation of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall, to ensure full equality for Palestinians living in Israel and to support the right of Palestinian refugees to return home. This was carried 8 votes to 4 against. None of the councilors who had opposed the BDS resolution seemed aware of the incongruity of now voting for a motion that included the very demands that BDS seeks, while refusing to do anything about it, nor that Point 1 of the original in principle BDS statement had in fact not been rescinded.”

Sadly, at the end of the day, as a result of threats, confusion and politics, the first boycott of Israel by an Australian local council was lost and BDS by the tiny Green inner-western suburb of Sydney got buried! Not even celebrity names mentioned before could help brave Marrickville Council hold on to BDS against Israel

The only comfort Mayor Byrne could draw was the chant of “We love you Fiano” that rang out again and again at the Council meeting.-- and the thought she expressed: "We have put BDS on the national agenda.”

The visibly disappointed Green Mayor Fiona Byrne commented: " “We have created a little egg which is support for the plight of the Palestinian people, and a sledgehammer is being used to break that …..I personally don't understand why we've had a sledgehammer used to crush the little egg of Marrickville Council."

The council moved, and passed a motion to remain concerned about Palestinian rights and called on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territory and mayor Byrne stated clearly and emphatically: “The plight of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories has been and remains a source of concern for Marrickville councilors.”
Later, Mayor Byrne and her fellow Greens asserted that "vitriolic correspondence", threats, bullying and intimidation had caused several Council members who had originally voted in favor of the BDS to reverse their vote on April 19.

Federal politics obviously played a part in the Council voting. The Greens and Labor are competing for the Left. Albanese, the federal MP for the local seat of Grayndler, which takes in Marrickville, wanted Marrickville's boycott dumped, and the four Labor Councilors obeyed.

At one level this is a sad and cautionary tale. But at another level, it provides a glimmer of hope. If pro Israel forces resort to turning even local issues into an Israeli-Palestinian issue, it is a sign that they realize that the world is slowly beginning to see Israel as an Apartheid and rogue state, and they, the pro Israel propagandists, are desperately trying to prevent this opinion from spreading.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


The passage
Through existence

Is coexistence!

It’s a narrow passage
An alley
Turned valley!

It meanders
Among the blunders
Of the global Will!

It’s not evil
Just the devil
On a sponsored anvil!

It wasn’t the UN Plaza
But Gaza
Where you were strung!

No detours
As Palestine endures

The message
In every passage
Just lost its adage!

Humanism as well!

Nothing is swell
In this part of hell!


Good friend
To every fiend!


- Dom Martin

A note on Vittorio Arrigoni, his kidnapping and execution: Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, Italian, was an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteer in Gaza. He arrived in Palestine in the summer of 2008 on the first boat of activists that sailed there to protest a blockade imposed by Israel with Egyptian help. He was well known in Gaza and was a passionate defender of the rights of people in Gaza, and a fierce critic of Israel.

Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of the ISM, said Mr. Arrigoni had a "dynamic, humanitarian personality".

A respected journalist, Mr.Arrigoni tried his best to shed a light on Gaza. As one of his friends commented: "He came from across the world, left his country and family and his entire life and came here to break the siege."

He was seized on April 14 by radicals belonging to Al-Qaeda inspired Salafist group, an Islamist movement that considers Hamas as too moderate. They threatened to execute Mr Arrigoni unless several prisoners, including their leader, Sheikh Abu Walid al-Maqdasi, were released.

Hamas police found Vittorio dead in a house hours after being abducted. He had been hanged. Ministry spokesman Ehab al-Ghussein said he was killed "in an awful way". He told reporters that the security forces had been led to the house in Gaza City by one of the men involved.

He described the killing as a "heinous crime which has nothing to do with our values, our religion, our customs and traditions", and vowed to hunt down and bring to justice others who were involved.

Two members of the al-Qaeda inspired Salafist group have been arrested.

-- Gulamhusein Abba

About the Poet:

Dom Martin is a prophetic artist, a visionary poet and writer. NAKBLINKA: The Cleansing of CoExistence, is his most current volume of poetry.

Friday, April 15, 2011

BDS Rooted in law and human rights

by Samah Sabawi

Note: This article first appeared on the web site of Australians for Palestine and is being published here, slightly revised, with the permission and approval of the writer and the editor of the original web-site

The pro-Israeli groups launch again and again unrelenting attacks on the Greens and on the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign. One such recent attack was published on April 7, 2011 in “The Australian” in it’s opinion piece entitled “A party of ignorant extremists” by Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan. In this piece, Sheridan lists a number of services Israel offers the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and asks if the Greens are willing to boycott these institutions that provide health care, electricity and jobs for Palestinians. This argument is voiced repeatedly by pro-Israel media all over the world and deserves to be answered.

First of all, the services listed fall under Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under the 4th Geneva Convention. They are offered on a very limited basis and are paid for by the PA from internationally paid funds. The insinuation that Boycotts of Israel would harm the Palestinians is at best patronizing.

The call for Boycotts came from Palestinian Civil Society, and is supported by most Palestinians living today in the iron grip of occupation. To try to brand the occupation as being good for the Palestinians reflects a colonial outlook which Palestinians strongly reject.

This orchestrated campaign of misinformation and slurs launched against the Greens and the BDS is intended to send a chilling message to all politicians and human righs activists. Speak out on the rights of Palestinians and you will be called extreme and anti-Semitic.

Anyone who has been involved in the BDS campaign knows that a growing number of Diaspora Jews as well as Israelis from within have also joined this call because they view it as the only way to save Israel from its path of self-destruction. World leaders and politicians everywhere need to understand that as well.

Throwing around words like ‘supporting the two state solution’ is empty rhetoric in light of the facts on the grounds today. If not boycotts, what are world leaders, reluctant to impose sanctions on Israel or take other measures to force Israel to end its illegal occupation and bring about a Palestinian State – what are these world leaders doing to ensure the viability of the two-state solution?

Israel has used decades of negotiations with Palestinians only to expand their settlements and to entrench their occupation. A look at the Palestinian Papers Leaks provides a clear picture of how much Palestinians were willing to compromise – including on the right of return – and how uninterested the Israeli government was in making any head way.

It needs to be made clear that the call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions is fully rooted in International Humanitarian Law. BDS demands an end to the systematic discrimination against Palestinians citizens of the state of Israel, an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land as per UNSC resolution 242 and for Israel to meet its obligations under International Humanitarian Law and UN Resolution 194. How can any of these three demands be considered extreme or anti-Semitic?

BDS activists, Israelis and Palestinians, firmly reject the idea of turning their human tragedy into a football match, with members of governments choosing teams, this one is pro-Israel and that one is pro-Palestinian. Palestinians and Israelis have had enough of being used for political gains. BDS activists want the governments of the world to take a pro-justice and pro-human rights stand. Supporters of the BDS amongst the Greens should be congratulated for supporting justice and equality in Palestine/Israel and for endorsing a movement that is rooted in International Humanitarian Law and the Universal Declarations of Human Rights.

Click on cover to see the contents

Click on picture to see enlarged view

About the author:Samah Sabawi, recently appointed Public Advocate for the Melbourne based advocacy group Australians for Palestine, is a Human Rights and Social Justice advocate. She has lived and worked in many countries around the world and is currently residing in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to numerous articles and poems (published in as many publications and web-sites), she has also co-authored with her father, Abdel-Karim Sabawi, a play “Cries from the Land”. She has also produced the play “Three Wishes” based on her adaptation of Deborah Ellis's book "Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israelis Speak Out". Samah Sabawi is former Executive Director and Media Spokesperson for the National Council on Canada Arab Relations.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Horrible Truth about Gaza

This article first appeared on the web site of Australians for Palestine and is being published here, slightly revised, with the permission and approval of the writer and the editor of the original web-site

INTRODUCTION: With the surfeit of attacks on the Greens and
BDS in our media and then the timely Goldstone recantation,
no one bothered to report on Gaza. Perhaps for some, Israel’s
latest round of attacks could easily be dismissed as border
skirmishes, but for people in Gaza, it was shades of “Cast Lead”.

If you haven’t experienced the sounds of supersonic war planes
streaking across the sky and the thunder of artillery fire, let alone
the exploding bombs and shells that can kill and do, you might taken
note of what a Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius wrote in the 17th
century: “Wars, for the attainment of their objects . . . must
employ force and terror as their most proper agents.”(Book3,
Chapter 1:VI). Israel has made an art of that.

The escalation of attacks and their grisly death toll gave way
to news about twoIsraelis injured by a rocket fired into
Israel and landing on a bus.

Terrible and frightening to be sure for those affected, but not
more heinous than what Israel has been doing every day to
Palestinians in Gaza already suffering from a draconian siege
that Israel keeps tightening, despite reports to the contrary. If
that were not enough, Israeli politicians have been suggesting
another “Cast Lead” and predicting that one is around the corner.

So, to be told that the papers are not interested in headcounts
and the re-hashing of the same arguments is truly insulting to
people whose lives are in perpetual jeopardy. What is there
that is “deeper” than people’s lives – talking about the
implications of declaring a state in September, as was suggested?
In truth, that is another way of spinning a gossamer screen to
camouflage reality.

It’s time we asked how many Palestinian voices have we heard in
the obscene rush to dump on anything critical of Israel. If Israeli
apologists are so convinced of their own arguments against the
one nonviolent measure left to the Palestinians –BDS – to hold
Israel to account, then they should not be worried about letting
others air their views. But, that is not how propaganda works!

Sonja Karkar
Co-founder, Australians for Palestine

The media coverage of Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza that left many dead and many more injured echoes Israel’s claim that it was part of an escalation that began on Thursday when Hamas militants fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus, critically wounding a teenager and lightly injuring the driver. Such claims ignore the reality that systematic violence against the Palestinians has never stopped.

In fact, in the weeks before the school bus incident between 16-29 March, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Israel has killed a total of fourteen Palestinians, including six civilians, and injured fifty two Palestinians, including at least forty civilians (nineteen children). In that same period, three Israeli civilians were injured. OCHA’s report makes it clear that all the civilian fatalities and nineteen of the Palestinian injuries occurred as a result of Israeli tank shelling and mortar fire.

So while both Hamas and Israel have targeted civilians, Israel has used force far more lethally against the civilian population. And as tragic as the wounding of an Israeli boy on a bus is, his injury was not a trigger to Israel’s bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza which has continued on and off for the better part of this last decade, and certainly was not what started this current escalation .

Unfortunately, Palestinian deaths and injuries and Israeli incursions don’t make the daily news. But the death of every child, man and woman is indeed felt deeply in the close-knit community of Gaza and the rest of Palestine. Failing to understand this is failing to understand the impact of the human tragedy on this conflict. On the political level, this failure to comprehend the human tragedy and how it inflames Arab and Muslim public opinion has (and continues to have) disastrous consequence for world peace and security. Western audiences are spared the images of grieving Palestinian mothers and fathers, but in the Arab and Muslim world, such images are a constant reminder of the brutality of the Israeli occupation and of the hypocrisy of the world powers supporting it.

This gap in reporting leaves many with the false impression that since Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, there has been “calm” between Israel and the Palestinians. But reality tells a different story. In fact, since Cast Lead and up to February this year, Israeli Human Rights organization B’Tselem reported a total of 151 Palestinians killed in the Occupied Territories, 19 of them minors. During that same period 9 Israeli civilians were also killed by Palestinians including 1 minor. These statistics, as horrid as they are, don’t even begin to describe the daily violence of occupation including the travel restrictions, the lack of access to medical care, clean water and electricity.

Indeed, the violence of Israel’s occupation comes in many forms. Perhaps the most poignant of which is Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza. Keeping the economy “on the brink of collapse”, confirmed as an Israeli policy by diplomatic US cables revealed by Wikileaks, is the goal of the inhumane siege that has made 55 percent of the population in Gaza food-insecure and 10 percent of Gaza’s children a victim to stunting and malnutrition. Israel’s periodic attacks, incursions and invasions that involve the killing of large numbers of civilians and the systemic destruction of agricultural lands, demolition of homes and destruction of civilian infrastructure have not stopped for one day since the siege intensified in 2007. Restricting the movement of people, prohibiting patients and students from leaving Gaza, prohibiting loved ones and relatives visitation rights to the world’s largest open air prison is a form of violent and extreme collective punishment that targets the entire population.

Let us not forget that 75 percent of Gaza’s population is made up of refugees denied for 63 years the right to return to their homes inside what is now Israel. Israel’s denial of the rights of refugees and its 43 year old occupation and colonization of Gaza and the West Bank is at the root of all the violence. Those who point at the latest set of incidents as the cause for the violence are simply missing the big picture.

NOTE: Samah Sabawi, recently appointed Public Advocate for the Melbourne based advocacy group Australians for Palesine, is a Human Rights and Social Justice advocate. She has lived and worked in many countries around the world and is currently residing in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to numerous articles and poems (published in as many publications and web-sites), she has also co-authored with her father, Abdel-Karim Sabawi, a play “Cries from the Land”, produced the play “Three Wishes” based on her adaptation of Deborah Ellis's book "Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israelis Speak Out", and is former Executive Director and Media Spokesperson for the National Council on Canada Arab Relations.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


By: Gulamhusein A. Abba

“It is all very well to talk about the freedom of speech and expression. But such freedom cannot extend to committing acts designed to deliberately incite people to violence.”


“If freedom of religion and peace between different religious faiths is to be maintained, there must be respect and civility between those who profess different faiths.”


“Often one hears the question “Where is the voice of moderate Muslims” whenever a particularly atrocious deed is done by some group acting in the name of Islam. In this case, it would be appropriate to ask, “Where is the voice of moderate Christians” with regards to pastor Terry Jones burning the Quran.”


The burning of the Quran by pastor Terry Jones was vicious and a deliberate provocation. It was most reprehensible, deserving of condemnation by all, no matter what their faith.

What he did was immeasurably worse because he well knew what the reaction would be among some of the fanatic and misguided Muslims.

He had threatened to burn the Quran on an earlier occasion when the protest against the proposed construction of the so called “Ground Zero Mosque” was at its height. At that time the pastor had been briefed thoroughly about the repercussions that would follow and the danger it would pose to the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had then refrained from carrying out his threat.

A little more than a year later, he went ahead and burned a copy of the Quran. If reports are to be believed, the expressed purpose of the burning was to provoke violence so that it could be used to “prove” that Islam was a violent religion! As if the actions of a few fanatically misguided Muslims can be attributed to Islam itself.

In these circumstances, for him to have done what he did makes him the prime inciter of the ensuing violence and he needs to be held accountable for it.

It is all very well to talk about the freedom of speech and expression. But such freedom cannot, should not, and, to the best of my knowledge, does not extend to committing acts designed to deliberately incite people to violence.

If freedom of religion and peace between different religious faiths is to be maintained, there must be respect and civility between those who profess different faiths.

That having been said, those who raided the UN compound and went on a rampage, killing innocent people, beheading them, injuring them, destroying property, deserve the strongest condemnation possible.

Among those on the rampage at the UN compound many chanted “Death to Americans” and “Death to the Jews”, and those killed included four Nepalese. The UN had nothing to do with the burning of the Quran. Nor did the Americans or Jews as such have to do anything with it. And certainly the Nepalese were not involved in any way. The killing of these innocent people can neither be excused nor forgiven under any circumstances.

One can understand their outrage and anger, and perhaps even admire their zeal to protect the honor of the Quran, but in thus protesting the burning of the “book” they violated and gravely assaulted the spirit of the teachings therein. Violence of the kind they perpetrated is not the way to express outrage. There are more civilized ways of doing it, as indeed others so outraged did, by taking out huge non-violent processions and making their feelings known.

It is to be hoped that the authorities in Afghanistan will take the strictest possible action against perpetrators of the atrocity and their inciters, and that the relevant authorities in the US will take suitable action against the pastor and those in his congregation who aided and abetted him.

In the meantime, it would be fitting for responsible leaders in the faith community, specially those of the Islamic and Christian faiths, to condemn both, the burning of the Quran and the violent reaction to it.

Often one hears the question “Where is the voice of moderate Muslims” whenever a particularly atrocious deed is done by some group acting in the name of Islam. In this case, it would be appropriate to ask, “Where is the voice of moderate Christians” with regards to pastor Terry Jones burning the Quran.

Gulamhusein A. Abba,