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Wikileaks, facebook cartoon pictures, football world cup, Obama’s tax cuts, Aasia Bibi case, Hajj scam. Just some things I’ve been wanting to blog about for quite some time.

Wikileaks. The ‘hot’ story these days. Now whether the motives of leaking whatever was (and still is) being leaked was to make people aware of what was going on, or to disrupt world peace (yeah right, because there is any) or, for lack of a better word, to screw over the U.S. diplomats, since the majority of the leaks revolve around them, the fact still remains that what Julian Assange was arrested for is just a cover up to get back at him for releasing things that showed the diplomats in a bad light. Fat lot of good that did, because despite the arrest, the website is still functional and will probably continue to be considering how efforts to shut it down have failed. So ultimately, when attempts at extradition of Assange and shutting the site down failed, Assange was arrested on accusations of sexual assault. To spell it out properly, he was arrested for having sexual relations with a woman without a condom. This obscure law might hold true, but there is no denying the fact that the lawsuit seems like a last ditch effort to get him behind bars and shut him up when everything else seemed to fail. It just goes to show you the rationality of governance in the world, because the timing of this arrest isn’t just coincidental. There is also running speculation that the woman accusing Assnage of sexually assaulting her is in fact an undercover CIA agent. It truly makes one wonder whether traits such as honesty and rationality exist in world politics anymore, or is it just a game now of putting behind bars anyone the big guns see as a threat to their image or as someone who’s trying to disrupt world peace.

World peace, in itself, is quite utopian concept. If, courtesy Wikileaks only, we know that Middle Eastern countries are asking the U.S. to invade Iran, then we are far from achieving world peace. In fact, it is only a delusion that we have, and that’d be quite a minority too considering people know they are far from achieving world peace.

I’m not too good on the subject of Wikileaks; maybe I’ll have something better to say when I’ve read more on this.

Not too long ago, facebook saw a plethora of pictures of cartoon characters replacing the profile pictures of people. This was done supposedly to raise awareness regarding child abuse and child molestation and the likes. The aim was to replace all human faces on facebook with cartoons. Now someone who’s messed up enough to go about molesting children will do it whether you put up a cartoon picture or not. Granted facebook is great for raising awareness considering the overwhelming number of people who use it, but is this seriously the right way of going about it? This isn’t even like an online protest. In fact, a lot of people who were putting up the pictures were just doing so because everyone else was – the bandwagon approach. This just goes to show you how much ‘awareness’ was raised. A pedophile won’t stop because the entire population of a social networking site has put up cartoon pictures. I may be sounding like a misanthrope but seriously, where has common sense gone? There was speculation surrounding these pictures which said that this was actually a ploy by Disney to get so many pictures of cartoon characters up on facebook that it would be able to sue the latter. Frankly, this would have been a better reason than that of raising child awareness via those means.

This emergence of cartoon pictures out of the blue brings out new avenues of thoughts regarding what facebook is regarded as. Facebook, it seems, is the ultimate judge of everything no? We won’t tell people we hate them, in fact, we will carry on a proper conversation with them, but we will make sure we take them off our friend list on facebook to send a message. Because our lives clearly revolve around keeping tabs on people we hate through facebook. What stalkers all of us are. Geez. This one word sums it all up.

FIFA World Cup 2014, Brazil, ought to be something to look forward to. Especially since the tournament is being played at a place with a rich football heritage and generally good conditions for both the players and the travelling fans. The 2018 and 2022 tournaments will be played in Russia and Qatar respectively, which brings new perspectives to light regarding what the World Cup’s underlying messages might be. The Russians may be superpower, but this does not deny the fact that racism is quite a big issue there. How, then, are they going to put forward a fair World Cup? Qatar also has a variety of problems attached to it as far as the World Cup goes, some of which will be elaborated on a bit later. The two sour grapes coming out of the bidding war would be England and the United States of America. In a nutshell, this is the FIFA World Cup until 2022, minus the obvious part about the football matches.

Qatar, it seems, is looking at the World Cup more as a means of improving its infrastructure and promoting its culture than as a means of promoting football in that region, which ultimately is what FIFA is about. While hosting a major tournament gives you the opportunity of improving domestically, it doesn’t make sense taking the World Cup to Qatar then. The 2010 tournament was held in South Africa, a nation that improved its infrastructure because of the fact that it was hosting a major tournament. Hosting it in Qatar goes against the principles behind the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – the principles that FIFA said will be used to decide which country gets to host the tournament – because Qatar is already quite well developed as a nation. In fact, there are a quite a few problems associated with having the event there. The hot and dry climate of the place will create a problem for both travelling fans and players, as it will take out the element of pace and energy from the players’ game, probably leaving the fans wanting more out of a game than what they were getting. After all, they didn’t travel so much for a boring, mediocre tournament. The weather is indeed an issue, but then football is supposed to transcend meager things such as heat and dryness right? An added problem to that is the small size of Qatar as a country. If the projected estimated figures are correct, then the number if fans travelling to Qatar will double its population! It’ll be ‘interesting’ to observe how the place will cope with that.

England may whine about how it didn’t get to host the FIFA World Cup and how Qatar as a nation has not qualified enough times for a major tournament and gets a free pass. However, what the English fail to realize is that by this logic, even they shouldn’t be just handed over the hosting of the World Cup because granted while they have the ability to qualify, their national team still isn’t too good at a sport they pride themselves to be the powerhouses of. And England can surprise on any day, and not in a good way. Remember Euro 2008 qualifiers anyone? Their domestic league may help provide good stadiums and the proper infrastructure for the World Cup, but isn’t that going against the principles behind the 2010 World Cup in South Africa about taking the tournament to less developed areas? And as far as the free pass goes, then by those standards only the ‘big’ teams of world football should get to host the events. So if we go by that, then we can see why the 2014 World Cup in Brazil fits that criterion perfectly. However, if this becomes the case, then we can point out exactly the monopoly of the countries that’ll keep on getting to host the World Cup. And so the discussion will come back to that of the event going to places already developed enough. This is indeed a very circular argument.

The United States were another of the sour grapes as far as the bidding goes, since they lost the hosting rights to Qatar. The debate on development does not hold here given how Qatar is a developed nation too; in fact, if we look at the logic behind having the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as an isolated entity, then what better place to have the tournament in than the U.S., one of the most developed nations of all time. However, they need to play more ‘soccer’ (as they call it) in order to have a more substantial claim in hosting the FIFA World Cup. The tournament in USA will have minimal support from the indigenous population as far as the matches themselves go. This is because ‘soccer’ in the United States gets sidelined because of other sports present there, such as American football, basketball and baseball. In hindsight, USA does not deserve the hosting simply because of the low level of interest in football there.

That’s a lot of talk about football.

Moving on to an issue closer to home, and I mean literally closer to home, we will now turn our attention to the Aasia Bibi case in Pakistan. This is case that revolves around blasphemy laws in Pakistan and raises serious questions regarding its education, rationality and selected sense of persecution. In a nutshell, the case against her is present because, if we take the accounts available online to be true, she was provoked by Muslim women after being labeled as unclean because she was a Christian and her religion was termed as being a religion of infidels. She retaliated by supposedly making some allegations against Islam and its Prophet and hence is facing death penalty according to blasphemy laws of Pakistan which forbid anyone from demeaning the religion of Islam and everything associated with it. We pride ourselves for being a Muslim nation, yet we do not adhere to what Islam teaches us. We can sentence Aasia Bibi to death because she said things against the Prophet of Islam, but doesn’t Islam teach us to not belittle someone else’s religion too? Where are we applying those teachings then? Our ‘Islamic’ mindset is actually quite selective, because we choose to commit certain preposterous acts in the name of Islam but are unwilling to look at ourselves first and how committed we are to our religion before making outrageous claims.

We can’t point out the right and wrong in the Aasia Bibi case, but we can use it to question the beliefs we pride ourselves on as a nation.

This debate, however, is not even entirely about religion. A group of women refused to accept a glass of water from Aasia Bibi because she was a Christian and hence, in their eyes, she was unclean. This raises serious questions about the level of education in Pakistan. With education comes an openness of mind and a sense of rationality and common sense, all of which seem to be lacking in this particular case. Politely denying a glass of water is one thing, going all out on a person and attacking their religion is another; the difference between the two is what education teaches us. That, and the fact that we aren’t educated enough as a nation to realize how our selective persecution of minorities is just proof of how ‘barbaric’ we are.

When Mohammed Ali Jinnah founded Pakistan, he mentioned how we are not various sects or various religions, but instead one nation united under the name Pakistan. Funny how sixty three years later, that ideology seems to have completely disappeared. Pakistan has a dwindling number of minorities, decreasing even more so with the failure to protect them adequately. We can enforce our obscure blasphemy laws – and while they may be right, we refuse to look at all facts present before passing judgement – but cannot adhere to the very principles behind the formation of our country.  Pakistan, being under a democratic government, allows every citizen a freedom of speech. In Aasia Bibi’s case, her freedom of speech may have been misused if we look at the blasphemy laws, but according to Islamic rulings then, the freedom of speech was also abused by the Muslim women when they chose to disparage another religion.

Islamic extremists in Pakistan today look at religion as the answer to everything that they do. What we fail to realize, however, is that religion is not a blind set of rules to justify everything we do. In fact, the religion of Islam also speaks about Ijma (consensus) and Qiyas (analytical deduction) as means of deciphering what the Islamic text says to fit in accordance to what is acceptable by society also. Those principles seem to be disappearing as Islamic extremism creeps in, and the perfect example of this is how a ‘mullah’ in Peshawar had ordered a reward of fifty thousand rupees to anyone who kills Aasia Bibi. It’s not the law, but instead the death penalty that is blasphemous.

Interesting how both the cases against Aasia Bibi and Julian Assange lack an approach of common sense. The world is getting dumber it seems.

Looking at Pakistan only, now that the Hajj (annual pilgrimage for Muslims) season is over, the annoyed pilgrims are asking for their money back. This is because those who undertook the pilgrimage with the government scheme offered by the government (duh) of Pakistan were promised residence close to Mecca and all sorts of privileges. That, however, did not happen, since they were given residences far away and some even did not have proper bedding or sanitation facilities. Under the guise of Hajj, this turned out to be a means by religious politicians in Pakistan to scam people out of a lot of money. It is probably shameful to call it the ‘Islamic’ Republic of Pakistan now, considering how honesty is lacking even in matters of great Islamic importance such as Hajj now. The people who portray themselves as being truly Islamic on the basis of their big beards and attire and their general appearance are indeed the ones quite far away from the principles of the very religion they claim themselves to be the experts of. It is disgraceful, to say the least.

President Barack Obama’s recent speech on taxes mainly spoke about lesser taxes on the rich and more taxes on the poor. The United States today is facing perhaps the biggest economics crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, ultimately affecting the entire world economy. However, all their President wants is tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires. So ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what slogans you come up with before you get elected or what promises you make while you campaign. The end result is the same as has always been  – the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

I need to read up more on this.

So far, that’s 2,481 words of things I felt I was smart enough to write about. Clearly I have nothing better to do than write an amateur commentary on stuff I think I know, but am probably wrong. Oh well, there isn’t a whole lot to do after exams ending, but I’m excited about LUMUN starting. Happy reading!