Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ancient Saka

Greatest extent of the ancient Scythian/Saka empire, First century B.C.
The Scythians were a nomadic Iranian-origin people who settled Central Asia and ruled different territories throughout Asia at different times. The name Scythia comes from Greek historians, while they referred to themselves as the Sakas. The name Saka was derived from the name of one of their chiefs from which they trace a common lineage. Chinese historians referred to them as the Sai. The territory ruled by the Scythians was referred to by them as Sakastana or Saka-estan, land of the Saka. For accuracy, the word Saka will be used for the duration of this post.

Saka horse archers were known for the skilled use of their bows and their unique dress
The Saka people, being an Iranian people, were Indo-European in their appearance as opposed to East Asian or Mongolian. Although some descriptions of them are of red hair and light-colored blue or green eyes, they were most likely similar in look to modern Persians, Afghans, and Pakistanis. It is possible that some among them may had these traits, but mostly they were a medium complexioned people with a large build and great natural strength. The Ancient Persians referred to them as the mightiest warriors known. Their dress was quite unique in that they wore pointed hats with Persian-style clothes. The Saka cavalry were feared for their strength, employing all able-bodied men and women from the tribes. Saka women fought side by side with their men in battles.

A Persian relief of a procession of Saka warriors

The Saka were the mightiest rulers in the great plains of Central Asia from the 8th century B.C. up until the 1st century B.C. Having a vast empire that stretched of the Caucasus to Mongolia. In the year 175 B.C., the pastoral Yuezi tribe of the Gansu basin in modern China were defeated by their rivals the nomadic Xiongnu (Mongols). Displaced Yuezi tribes entering Central Asia pushed some of the Sakas to retreat into modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan, founding the Indo-Scythian Kingdom. While the Yuezi became vassals of the Saka tribes of Central Asia, and later developed great empires of their own in Bactria and the Kushan Buddhist empire in India.

The Indo-Scythian Kingdom of Pre-Islamic Pakistan and Afghanistan, 2nd century B.C. to 400 A.D.
The Indo-Scythian Kingdom or Sakastan stretched from Afghanistan, encompassed Pakistan including Kashmir to the eastern region of modern Iran. Even today, Iran's easternmost province is known as Sistan-Baluchistan, Sistan coming from Sakastan. The Sakas also founded the ancient cities of Gandhara, Taxila, and maybe even Karachi, which at that time was known as Min by the Sakas or Min-nagara, the town of Min in Sanskrit. The Kushan empire (Yuezi) eventually conquered the Saka kingdoms in 75 A.D. and brought in the era of Buddhism to the region. In Sistan, Saka rule continued until about 400 A.D. when it was conquered by the Persians. This situation continued until the Islamic conquest around 712 A.D.

The Golden Saka Prince buried in the Issyk Kurgan tomb in Kazakhstan
The reign of the Sakas has left a lasting impact on all of those regions in Asia where they settled. Blending into local populations and being the origin of a countless number of people in Central and Southwest Asia, especially in the realms of Turkic and Persian influence.

Tajik woman wearing traditional jewelry from the Saka era

Although forgotten in the modern histories of Afghanistan and Pakistan today, Saka influence can still be felt in the languages, dress, foods, and customs they left behind. Being Muslims does not make us any less descendants of these great, powerful, and industrious people.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Video Game Sequels of Our Dreams

This is a favorite topic of mine. I spend a lot of my time on the internet reading opinions, reviews, first impressions, and general articles about video games. So the following are a list of some games which I would really like to see proper sequels to.



The first Chibi-Robo has to be one of my all time favorite games. It was a Gamecube adventure game where you are a tiny robot who has to explore the house and accomplish tasks for your friends and bring happiness to your family members. It was full of traveling back and forth to deliver items, and had some neat minigames. One of the defining features of the game was the presentation, where every movement and tool use created a musical sound.

Nintendo did release a sequel on the DS called Chibi-Robo Park Patrol, but it was more of a tech demo than a real sequel. Frankly, I was severely disappointed as I bought it when it first came out, excited to play it. The prospects for a sequel don't seem good, but we can hope.


Seiken Densetsu 3

Also known as Secret of Mana 2, this action RPG only came out in Japan. It is however available for Super Nintendo emulator via a translated rom developed by fans. This game is perhaps the best action RPG ever released, and this is saying alot. You have three out of six characters on your team which you pick up along the way and select from when you first create a new file. This game's battle system is addictive and never feels like a chore. It is fast, precise, and exciting all throughout the game. Your unique characters level up, learning new abilities and magical spells as they grow. The story for this game is extraordinary, with emotional and sad moments along with seeking revenge as the primary bases for most of the game.

This game, first of all, has never been released in America to begin with. It would help build interest for a sequel to actually release this game. It is hard to believe that one of the best games of all time can be so under-appreciated by its developers.


Megaman X

The first Megaman X game for the Super Nintendo was legendary for action games. Fast, furious, with hard, yet surmountable, bosses, and suit enhancements which vastly increased your powers. The best Megaman game, and perhaps the best action game ever made. Seeing a little X dash across the backs of giant robot sea monsters and flee a collapsing cave, whilst taking out massive enemies with a little buster shot, added to the splendid atmosphere. The controls were precise, even considering the great agility of the main character.

There have been 8 main sequels to this game, all of which have failed to capture what made the first one so good. Megaman X 2 and 3 were similar as they were released for the Super Nintendo, and yet nowhere near as fun. Megaman X4 comes in third being a good game, but it feels nothing like the first one. What I would like to see is a 2d platforming Megaman X game, preferably with 2d graphics, which faithfully represents the first game, ignoring the rest completely. Seeing as how Capcom released Megaman 9 with NES graphics not too long ago, it might happen.


Chrono Trigger

This famous Super Nintendo RPG deserves a proper sequel. This is my favorite RPG of all time, which I have beaten probably around three or four times. What makes this game so good? Simple response: everything. The battle system is surprisingly intuitive, fast, and immersive, becoming a model for games afterwards. The story is one of the best, if not the best, in any video game. It spans timelines from Jurassic, Medievel, Future, and other worlds. Full of exploration and hidden items. The characters are unique and well-made (from the creator of Dragon Ball), with their backgrounds are thoroughly explored through the duration of the game.

This game was recently re-released on the Nintendo DS, and re-released a long time ago on the original Playstation, yet the best version, without a doubt is the Super Nintendo version. It was easy to view and play unlike the DS, and didn't have any load times unlike the Playstation version. The chances are slim for a legitimate sequel, however. Chrono Cross on the Playstation was vague sequel to it, yet it didn't share all the attributes which made the first game a phenoma. Japanese Console RPGs are fast becoming one of the worst genres for games in recent times. An outstanding sequel to this legendary game would be amazing. Sadly, it's not a likely prospect though.


Def Jam: Fight for NY

A lot of you are probably laughing right now, but Def Jam for Gamecube is one of the best wrestling, street-fighting games ever released. The reason for this is that the developer AKI was responsible for all those brilliant N64 wrestling games we all enjoyed as kids. This game is indeed like a sequel to those games, except with gangsta rappers as the characters. That adds limitless charm to the game, especially with the atmosphere and the taunts.

The sequel, Def Jam: ICON, was horrible. Since when did rappers of psychic jedi powers to summon doors to hit people? The entire time cars and buildings bouncing in the background and random things like fire hydrants are exploding. It sounds fun, but its not, believe me. The main reason for this lackluster performance is that AKI had nothing to do with this game's development, and as a result the controls are unresponsive and the gameplay is vastly different. A legitimate sequel, with AKI as the developers, is truly needed. It may happen, depends on EA.


In addition, I'd like to see a legitimate sequel to several Nintendo franchises.

Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of my favorite games, and I'd love another Zelda with the depth and adventure of that game. Zelda: Four Swords was a multiplayer sequel to it, but it was completely different in gameplay and no where near as good. Zelda: The Minish Cap was too short and easy, although it was a good game. Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is an outstanding game, but it is hardly traditional and I feel that Nintendo needs more traditional Zelda games also. While we are talking about this, I would also like to see a sequel to Zelda: Link's Awakening. Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages were both wonderful games and I would like to see more games based on the original Gameboy Zelda games.

Nintendo has released the old-school NES and Super Nintendo Super Mario platformers to death on first the Gameboy Advance, and now the Virtual Console. It's time for Nintendo to follow Capcom's lead and release a traditional Super Mario platformer akin to Megaman 9. I played New Super Mario Bros. on the DS and although it was a good game, it had nothing of the greatest of the originals. I also recently played New Super Mario Bros. on the Wii, and it was only just decent in my opinion. I believe the multiplayer aspect of the game destroys the immersion and control of the traditional Mario games. I'd like to see a Mario game with traditional psychics, diverse music (no 'Ah Ah!' nonsense), and most of all it should not be a third version of New Super Mario Bros.

Kirby Superstar is my favorite Kirby game, I'd love to see a good sequel based on this game. Kirby games, as of late, aren't doing so well, i.e. Squeek Squad and Kirby remakes. I enjoyed Kirby: Canvas Curse, but it was far from traditional. Furthermore, a console Kirby game is deeply needed for the Wii. I enjoyed Kirby 64 greatly, and would like a new and ambitious Kirby game.

Donkey Kong Country is no doubt one of the best platformers ever released. Nintendo is literally sitting on a gold mine and refusing to use it. A great Donkey Kong platformer could jumpstart the series, as well as improve the overall quality of platformers which have been suffering lately. This is a very good idea for a Wii game.


Some more game sequels I'd like to see:

Super Smash Bros (more like Melee, less like Brawl), Resident Evil (based on RE4), Silent Hill (like 2 and 3), Bomberman (w/ singleplayer mode please), Earthbound (and release Mother 3 in US), Super Mario RPG, Lufia (like 1 and 2)

I'm excluding games whose sequels will probably come out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kashmir: Prehistory and Origins of the Conflict

In this modern age, numerous people throughout the world are facing unending and criminal occupation by foreign powers. The super power states of the world feel no shame in not only ignoring the pleas of help from depressed people, but in being instrumental in the ongoing injustice which riddles our world like a virus. Some conflicts receive media attention, while many others are simply ignored. The biggest hurdle to peace and security of people living under occupation is the oligarchical Western media, complicit in the support of invaders' brutality and even labeling legitimate indigenous resistance groups as terrorist groups, further weakening support for demoralized people. No more is this phenomena observed with its sheer inhumanity and loss of innocent life, than in the Kashmiri conflict.

Beautiful Kashmir, you shall be free one day. Your sons and daughters have not died in vain.

Kashmir's history is replete with invasions and eras of long stability. It is a region lying directly south of the fabled Himalayan mountains, whose frozen caps provide the rich and pure water which flows into the Kashmir valley. The people of Kashmir are an Aryan people who make up a unique ethnic group among the people of Southern Asia. They share ethnic relations to the Punjabis, Pukhtoons, and other people who live in the vicinity of the Indus River. Together consituting one of the first human civilizations, the Indus River Valley Civilization, which originated in modern day Pakistan. I have discussed this civilization in several previous posts, refer back to them. Kashmir remained largely Buddhist in its Pre-Islamic history, which caused great strife on the region during the violent Hindu-Buddhist wars which shook South Asia during the 7th century. The decline of Buddhism, the threat of Hindu pogroms, left the Buddhists to convert en masse to Islam when it entered the Subcontinent.
Several Muslim dynasties sprung up in Sindh, Balochistan (Makran), Pukhtoon lands, Afghanistan, the Punjab, and Kashmir. Following the Mughal invasions, Kashmir again came into preeminience and the majoirty of the great historical architecture comes from this era. Under Mughal rule, Islam became the state religion of the region, and Kashmir developed both Turkish and Persian influence. After the construction of the Shalimar Gardens (not to be confused with the one in Lahore), Mughal Emporer Jehangir commented, "agar firdos bar rooh e zameen ast, harmeen ast harmeen ast harmeen ast," meaning "If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this." The natural beauty of Kashmir, along with the beauty, kindness, and lightheartedness of its people has been well documented in Muslim history. Had Sultan Jehangir been witness to his beloved Paradise become an intolerable Hell, no doubt he would have more than couplets to sing. Kashmir prospered during Muslim rule, and became known throughout the Islamic world as a calm, serene paradise on Earth. Kashmir absorbed populations from Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Punjab, Sindh, and other regions, as well established a successful tourism industry. Kashmir's people becamed famed basket-weavers, tailors (cashmere), carpet-weavers, boaters, and mountain guides. Who could resist a pleasant, cool boat ride through crystal-clear rivers banked on both sides with luscious greenery and magnificent snow-capped mountains? Kashmir prospered, even during invasions of its Muslim cousins to the southwest by the infamous Sher Shah Suri of Afghanistan and several invasions by Iran. Capitalizing on the desctruction of Muslim political power in South Asia, Britain launched a massive campaign against what was left of Mughal rule. Hindu and Sikhs, armed to the teeth from British, Portuguese, and French weapons launched relentless invasions into Kashmir, Punjab, Sindh, and even Peshawar. It was at this point in time when Kashmir lost self-government in the 18th century, and had to submit to alien Hindu rulers backed by British arms. About a hundred years later, Kashmir was incorporated into British India, but was still ruled by a dynasty of foreign Hindu rulers. After a long repressed history under British rule, which among other things forbid Muslims to speak Farsi, attend superior British schools, rebuild Mosques and Mughal sites, or recieve any employment under the state, independence was in site.

Protest for the Liberation of Kashmir. They have been a common sight in Kashmir for almost 60 years.

After World War 1, the Muslims had secured from the British, by threat of revolt and mutiny, the right to govern the lands in which Muslims were the majority. The British sneakily added one more condition, however, that Indian princely states, those not ruled directly by the British, would have their kings choose which country to join. Junagadh and Haiderabad, majoirty Hindu populations with Muslim kings, signed over to Pakistan, but were given to India instead. Kashmir, a vast majority Muslim population ruled by a Hindu king Maharaja Singh, was signed over to India. There is ample evidence to suggest the Maharaja wished for Kashmir to be an independent kingdom ruled by his dynasty, but may have been coerced by an Indian invasion and subsequent Muslim revolt to sign his territory to India. Regardless, the resulting decision brought internal revolt by the majority Muslim population, yet the movement was crushed by an invasion into the territory by India. The newly formed government of Pakistan, which did not even contain enough military supplies, due to British complicity in giving its major military arsenal of Firozpur, residing in a Muslim majority region, to India in pure spite, had to muster a ragtag militia force to assist the Kashmiri revolt. Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah stated quite clearly, "Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan." Kashmir, not only was of intense importance because of a cultural and ethnic affinity with Pakistan's people, but it contained the source of all Pakistan's water from the Himalays. An India ruling Kashmir could starve Pakistan at whim, and thus completely dominate the country. India has recently renegaged on the Indus Water treaty, which divided water resources between the two nation and has caused an intense drought in the formerly fertile region of Punjab, which has caused massive crop failure reaching even to Sindh. The low level of the Ravi, Jhelum, Chenab, and the other rivers is open testament to the duplicity of the Indian government and the scorn for the lives of Pakistan's people. Yet the world community, led by the Western powers, refuses to acknowledge the human suffering of the people of the region. This proves the amount of insight and political genius of the founder of Pakistan, in the statement he gave regarding this matter. A ragtag Pakistani army consisting soldiers and tribal warriors with out-dated weapons and no formal military training entered the war on the side of their Kashmiri brethren. Afghani tribal soldiers also came south to aid the Pakistani army liberate their brothers in Kashmir. Were it not for that immediate action, all of Kashmir would have been perpetually occupied. The British relished the war, between two ungrateful subjects, but favored India as their legendary hatred for Muslims and Turks (whom they referred to the Mughals as) came out into the open. A hatred perserved from the era of the Crusades in the 11th century, evident when General Allenby entered Jerusalem in 1917 and declared in front of the great Muslim hero Salahuddin Ayubi with great disrespect, "Now the Crusades are over." More on this topic at a later date.

The map of Kashmir, as it is today. Azad (Free) Kashmir is controlled by Pakistan, Occupied Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian army.

The source of the conflict, was the Indian Congress' blatant disregard for the rights of Muslims and the willingness to commit mass-murder to preserve a 'united' India, in which Muslims were to be views only as a minority. The Muslims, in turn, simply wished to rule themselves in the lands in which they were a vast majoirty by their own laws, traditions, and leaders. For 60 years, India has been trying to undue Partition, arguing that the Muslims of South Asia are sub-class of Indians, not a nation of itself. The Muslims, regardless of rhetoric, view themselves as a major nation which is a sub-class of the Muslim world. This is why the Muslims in the 1920s organized the Khalifat agitation against the British, in support of the Turkish Ottoman Islamic Empire, though they suffered tremendous loss of property, resources, and lives due to British repression. The Muslims have always referred to themselves as a separate nation from the Hindus. On a deeper level, the Muslims of Pakistan and Kashmir are descendants of the prehistoric Indus River Valley civilization, which has had a profound affect on the cultures of Pakistan, developing differently from that of other regions of South Asia. This ethnic division is further marked by the fact that the Afghani Pukhtoons of Afghanistan have more homology with the people of Pakistan than the Indian Hindus. Beyond the pressure of the British and Hindus attempted to define the place of the Muslims in the history of the Subcontinent, the Muslims had succeeded, due to the genius of their leaders, in defining themselves and their place in the world. The British views them as Turks whom were invaders into the land, and hence blamed them for Christian losses during the Crusades and viewed them with suspicion, always fearing a global, unified Muslim revolt from their acquisitions in Africa, the Middle-East, Turkey, South Asia, and Indochina. The Hindus used a double policy, on the one hand to convince them that they were infact Indians and therefore that they should re-embrace Hinduism, and at the failure of the first method, of referring to them as Persian-Turkish invaders whom had no right to the land and thus must be ethnically cleansed from Indian lands. The second point ignited massive Hindu riots against Muslims throughout the breath of British India, proving once and for all, that Muslims could not live in security in a Hindu-dominated country. Pakistan was the natural progress of political self-determination of the Muslims. The Muslims of the Punjab were under Sikh rule due to British fears of Muslim resurgence, the Kashmiri people were under similar conditions but under a Hindu monarchy. The Punjabi Muslims successfully organized to rid themselves of the yoke of Sikh oppression, the Kashmiris did not have the economic, social, or political capacity to do the same. The destiny of Punjab could have ended up like Kashmir, except that the Muslims of Punjab were better equipped to force themselves into a position of power of their own affairs, along with a greater cohesion in the Islamic world and warlike history. Kashmiris, being a peaceful people, did not have the resources or will to fight as hard for their freedom. When they did organize, it was too little too late.

A Kashmiri girl at a protest with a photograph of her abducted brother. Many innocent people have been kidnapped and murdered by Indian soldiers in Kashmir.

Thus, the Kashmiris have endured countless hardships over the last 60 years. They have never been a warlike people, and never had to fight for their freedom before. The Kashmiris are a gentle and mild-mannered people, thus they have suffered far more under occupation than others. Whereas the Punjabis or Pukhtoon are world-renowned for their tremendous endurance for suffering, the Punjabis toiling under the hot sun in their fields, the Pukhtoon living a semi-nomadic herding lifestyle in the dry, desolate mountains, the Kashmiris live peaceful lives providing boat rides to tourists and living in pleasantly cool environments. Thus it is with tremdous grief that we see a people have never done anyone in history any harm, whom are the subject of barbaric and unrelenting oppressions. People prone to have a quiet cup of tea on their light boats in the middle of calm lakes, being forced to witness the murder of their sons and the abuse of their daughters. The anguish is double-fold, as they have never had experience in dealing with this type of oppression, and yet they are forced to endure it for nigh 60 years. It is a horrible testament of our times, that peaceful people are forced to endure such suffering. Yet it seems no one cares.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Xbox360 pricecut

As of today, Xbox360 Elite (120gb black console) are now $299 from $399 and Xbox360 Pro (60gb white console) are now $250 from $299. This price cut is in response to the new PS3 slim which is a 120gb system selling for $299. The video game world is an uproar. Such a massive price drop has not been witnessed before. All of which occurred literally in less than a month.

Black or white, 120 gb or 60 gb, better Jasper or cheaper Halo 3/Fable 2 bundled non-Jaspers. Do you know how impossible it is to find a jasper black elite. Microsoft, why do you make things so difficult?

I bought my Xbox360 jasper unit as a white pro at the original $299 over a month ago. As I look back, I think it is for the best, as that console has preoccupied much of my time since then. I only wished that the price drop was announced much earlier. I was initially looking for a black elite console, but could not find a jasper version. Now that I have spent some time with it, the white color has grown on me and I prefer it over black. To each his own, I guess.

The new PS3 slim sending massive shockwaves through video gaming entertainment.

By the way, I highly recommend the PS3 slim. I already have an older model (which can play PS2 games unlike the new ones), but the new PS3 slim is easier to find (vis-a-vis Jasper, which is a massive headache to find), cheaper, better made, no red rings of death, and a blu-ray player. The Xbox 360 has better exclusives, in my opinion, being mainly shooters such as Halo 3 and Gears of War (which are both amazing games), along with a larger online network (provided you pay $50 a year for it) and better downloadable games, more demos, etc. The PS3 has several good exlusives as well including Metal Gear Solid 4 (a stealth shooter) and Little Big Planet (a 2-D platformer like Super Mario). Both of these games are must buys. The PS3's online capabilities are not as good, but they are free, it is a better made system taking less heat, quieter, and generally not being poorly or hastily manufactured like the Xbox 360. If you buy an Xbox360, be prepared for the possibility of having to send it in to Microsoft and being without a system for 2 weeks. This really should not be acceptable. Microsoft has included a 3 year warranty with the system, so make sure you keep the receipt somewhere you won't lose it, i.e. the xbox packaging. Regardless, the vast majoirty of console games are available on both systems, so whichever you choose, make sure you enjoy it to its fullest.

The latest in Wii technology. Good luck competing with PS3 or Xbox360.

As far as the Wii is concerned, its just sad. No online, no demos, no downloadable content, no HD, no media playback, and for the last year: no good games, still $250. 'Enhanced' Wii, however, is a completely different story.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Xbox 360

I recently bought the Xbox360 with the new Jasper chipset. The new chipset does not have the Red Ring of Death which caused overheating and melting of the processor which was prevalent in older models. I can safely say this must be the wisest purchase I have made in a long time. The Xbox360 is probably the best system out right now for video games, especially since the PS3 has a very low number of good exclusives and the Wii hasn't had any good games come out in at least a year, maybe longer.

The best system out right now. The Xbox 360. Halo, Gears of War, full HD games, hundreds of downloadable demos, downloadable content, xbox live, and relatively cheap game accessories.

I had a very hard time finding a Jasper chip. I was initially looking for a Jasper Xbox 360 elite, but then I decided to settle for a Jasper Xbox 360 pro. The difference is that the Jasper pro has 60 gb instead of the elite 120gb. The elite also has a black color, while the pro is white. It is basically impossible to find a Jasper elite, I figured this out the hard way after spending about a week looking for one. What I did then was that I bought a Xbox 360 120gb harddrive and replaced my old 60gb harddrive. Basically, now I have a white Xbox360 elite. Another problem I had with the system is that it is does not support wi-fi out of the box like the PS3, and even the Wii. You have to buy your own network adapter.

Halo 3, one of the best shooting games of our generation.

I immediately bought Halo 3, because I am a big fan of Halo 1 and 2 for the original Xbox. I played the first level and was immediately surprised at how crisp and clear the game looked in 1080p. I also brought one of my friends over to play Halo multiplayer, and although he never had played a Halo game before, it was very fun, especially when we found the new Covenant charging laser canon weapon that destroys vehicles in one shot.

In addition to Halo, I also bought Silent Hill Homecoming, Halo Wars, and Gears of War. Silent Hill Homecoming is also in 1080p, and it is probably one of the best looking games on the system. I am a fan of Silent Hill 2 and 3, so as soon as I started playing this game, I got hooked. Halo Wars is a Strategy game developed for Xbox by the creators of Age of Empires, Ensemble Studios. It is basically a Halo strategy game in the Age of Empires gameplay style using an xbox controller. At first it was rather odd using a controller instead of mouse to play a strategy game, but once you get the hang of it, it just works out. I played skirmish mode, and really enjoyed the game.

Single-player or two-player co-op campaign featuring endless swarms of heavily armed enemies. Bliss.

Gears of War deserves some special attention. This game is amazing. It is a heavy shooter based on gun battles, where you have to hide behind objects and exchange fire with the enemy, flank the enemy, and take advantage of the terrain to defeat the enemy. Unlike Halo, you can't take a lot of damage, nor can you jump 20 feet in the air. In some ways, I would go as far as to say this game is better than Halo. In many ways it is, but it is an altogether different game. This game is not for the light-hearted, it is a serious shooting game which is at the same time difficult and violent. Definately not for all ages.

I'll post more when I get the chance.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wake Up Call

Mrs. Marwa al-Sherbini shall always be remembered as a hero to all Muslims. Her martyrdom should serve as a wake up call for the world's Muslims.

This new story hits close to home for many of us. Marwa al-Sherbini, a pregnant Egyptian woman, was stabbed to death by a German racist in a courtroom in Germany. Her husband was also critically injured and is now in intensive care. The body was brought back to Egypt, where it was buried. The situation caused turbulence in Egypt and led to mass protests against European racism, while Western media has tried to downplay the incident and intentionally ignored it. The trial, incidentally, concerned the racist referring to the woman as a 'terrorist.' Perhaps it is time for Germany and other Western country to increase the punishment of accusing an innocent person of murder, and furthermore of cracking down on Western anti-Muslim extremists whom they have nurtured due to their slanted media reporting on Muslims. All I can say is that there are many more people responsible for this woman's death than merely this attacker. The German government (which has forbidden hijab for school teachers in some provinces and requires Muslims to take extra tests to prove loyalty and liberal mindedness), the German and Western media promoting vilification and hatred of Muslims as a propaganda strategy, and racist right-wing parties who appeal to hatred of Muslims and other minorities all throughout the West to gain votes and further marginalize Muslims. Events such as this are quite common in many Western cities, but hate crimes against Muslims tend to be under-reported in the West, as it opposes the dominant Western narrative that Islam is the threat and Muslims are never victims, and deserve any suffering they receive. This was quite obvious in the reporting on the Israeli invasion of Gaza, Mumbai attacks in India, and the current Uighur riots in Western China. Muslims don't deserve the same respect as other human beings, because we are to be hated and vilified and our legitimate causes are to be denied and ridiculed.

Denial of the right of Muslim women to wear the clothes which they choose is not freedom, it is oppression and denial of freedom. Hypocrisy in dealing with Muslims must come to an end.

Justice, however, shall always triumph in the end. The deeds of man shall be revealed for all to see, and each individual shall be judged according to how he carried his life. The tyrants, oppressors, racists, enslavers, and usurpers shall have their just recompense. Those who have been victims of injustice by other men shall not be wronged in the least. Mankind should fear the day when all shall be revealed, and when he will cower over the weight of his sins. Those innocent beings who had borne the punishments of the people of this world shall be blessed and find happiness with their creator for all eternity.

Brutally occupied East Turkestan, known to the Chinese as Xinjiang, was an independent Muslim homeland of the Uighurs for thousands of years.

East Turkestan, known by the Chinese as Xinjiang (New Frontier), is facing ethnic violence as a result of tensions between native Uighurs and the Han Chinese immigrants in the territory. Turkestan was an independent land until 150 years ago when it was conquered by the Communist Chinese. The Uighur are a Turkic Muslim people who are relatives of the other Central Asian Turkic groups. They have largely preserved their heritage, language, culture, and religion, despite official Chinese persecution.

The Uighurs face intense ethnic marginalisation as a result of the banning of Arabic, forbiding fasting in Ramdan, forced secularization, banning of independent religious leaders (many Imams are servants of the state), and enforced demographic change through Han Chinese immigration, forced sterilization of Uighur women, and strict population control of Uighurs (while encouraging growth of Han Chinese in their lands).

Uighur students reading the Quran. Islam has long been persecuted and marginalized in Communist China. Many Uighurs have immigrated to other Muslim countries, such as Pakistan and Turkey, to practice their religion in peace.

What strikes us as the most odd, is the lack of reporting in the Western media regarding the Uighur's right to an independent state. Infact, the US and many Western countries have attempted to justify Chinese oppression of the Uighurs as another front on the war against terrorism, i.e. war against Muslim self-determination. This is in blatant contradiction to the stance taken by the West in regards to Tibet, which is a Buddhist majority population occupied by the Chinese. This situation brings up many questions. Do Non-Muslims have more of a right to freedom than Muslims? Are Muslims inherently dangerous, such should be oppressed and subjugated as a national policy? Is it beneficial to the West to support oppression of Muslims wherever they may reside, as all Muslims are a threat to them? The case for an independent Uighur state is far more justifiable and practical than an independent Tibet. The reason being that Turkestan was an independent nation for the vast majority of its national history. Chinese hatred of the Uighurs is quite apparent. Their lands are used to test nuclear weapons, which have had adverse birth defects to the people living there. Their oil is pumped out of their lands, without any benefit to the Uighur people. Uighur diaspora communities have established free East Turkestan movements in a variety of nations including Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan. The difference of reporting and sympathies from the West regarding the two conflicts in China, reveal a deep moral void and genuine hypocrisy to the cause of freedom of people around the world, especially when the subjugated are Muslims.

Click image to make larger. Some facts relating to the oppression of Uighurs by China. 8.5 million forced abortions, 750,000 killed by the effects of nuclear waste, 500,000 murdered. Let the truth be heard.

Both of these two cases are related by the fact that they reveal inherent hypocrisy in the Western propaganda claims of supporting freedom and self-determination, especially in the case for Muslims. In fact, it seems from the policies of Western nations that a substantial portion of the ruling elite and a large section of the overall populace of Western nations support the subjugation, control, and exploitation of Muslim people throughout the world. The American government and media area major factors in the population's negative and hateful views of Muslims.

Some Muslims tend to make excuses for the rise in hatred in Western people as a result of media coverage and government policies, but this reveals an apologetic view. It is not the act of forgiveness alone, which shall save the Muslim populations of the world from subjugation and genocide, but it is only the cause for truth. Pursuit of truth and justice, the paramount principles of the human world, need to be revived and appropriated to the situations of today. Unless we resolve to deal with justice and to study these matters with the intention of discovering the whole truth, and not allowing our own biases and moral failings to deviate us from it, only then can we lead to a genuine human intellectual renaissance. When the weak and oppressed make excuses for their exploiters, this deeply curtails our quest for the truth.

Click image to make larger. A flyer distributed by a student group at an American university shows the extent to which hate speech and demonisation of Muslims is propagated. None of the students nor the organization were reprimanded for their hate speech.

A Muslim woman stabbed to death, among thousands of other Muslim women and children who have been the victim of violent anti-Muslim crimes throughout the West, is not something which we should ignore. Each life is precious, particularly those of women and children. Those who attack and murder innocents deserve no pity, and harsh punishments need to be taken against them. The media should also not deflect blame to other sources (sometimes they very cleverly and dishonesty blame the Muslim victims), but the people of the West should accept that the rise of intolerance and racism in their nations are a homegrown problem, based in hundreds of years of state-based propaganda promoting Western racial superiority to other people of the world. Combating violence is the duty of all honest people who call themselves human beings, and those who justify the murder of innocent human beings should be ostracized and even punished by the governments in these nations. Calling for people to commit acts of vandalism, violence, rape, and murder against Muslims should be a serious crime. Throughout the Western world, media outlets, newspapers, radio talk shows, and right-wing parties are furthering these notions and gaining support through propagation of violence. It is the duty of these Western nations to prosecute those found encouraging others to violence with harsh punishments, and official counter propaganda measures to further the view that Muslim lives are just as holy as any other human being.

Muslims of the West need to re-evaluate their presence in the Western nations. Whether they are a source of genuine propagation of good, truth, and justice, or whether they have completely no effect on the present moral standing of the nations in which they reside. These nations have, from time to time, a tendency to slip into violent genocidal policies against minorities and those whom are different from them. The Holocaust, with its persecution of Communists, Gypsies, and Jews, was but one example. Another is the seizure of immigrant Japanese property by America during World War 2, and forced Japanese settlement into internment camps for fear of Japanese having sympathies with Imperial Japan. Both moves were overwhelmingly backed by their populations, due in part by government and media propaganda. If such a thing ever happened to Muslims in one Western country, I suggest the Muslims in the other Western countries should leave immediately. The lives and the continuation of our progeny are way more important than any mild monetary gain to be had.

A young Uighur child. If not for the decimation of our religion, children, and culture, What then will make us resist subjugation? Let all Muslims join hands together for a better future.

I pray for the continuation of Islam and the eventual liberation of Muslim lands from foreign occupiers. May Allah (swt) bless the believers, and humiliate the enemies of the believers. Know that truth and justice shall always prevail in the end.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pakistan World Cricket Champions!

Today, Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka in the Twenty20 World Cup Cricket finals earning them the title of T20 Cricket Champions. The final score was Pakistan 139/2, Sri Lanka 138/6.

Pakistan on the road to a promising future in cricket. Is the glory of the 90's returning?

Sri Lanka won the coin toss and thus chose to bat first. Pakistani bowlers, of most pre-eminience, Hamid Gul, kept Sri Lanka in check for nearly the whole game, taking out in the beginning three of Sri Lanka's finest batters. Sri Lankan captain Sagakkara scored nearly half the teams points at an impressive 64 runs with 52 balls, keeping Sri Lanka competitive until Pakistan's batting turn.

Pakistani players line up for National Anthem of Pakistan. Nationalistic passions run high in the crowd.

Pakistan's team started with the excellent batter Kamran Akmal with 37 runs from 28 balls. Sri Lanka took him out in the 7th over. Shahid Afridi and Shuaib Malik managed to stay in the game until the end, managing to scoring 54 runs with 40 balls and 24 runs with 20 balls, respectively. This despite tremendous pressure from Sri Lanka's world renknowned bowlers (the three M's). In many respects it can be said that Shahid Afridi won this game for Pakistan.

This is a welcome relief for Pakistan and Pakistanis throughout the world. The next following days will be one of joyous tribulation throughot the streets of Pakistan and Pakistani diaspora communities in London, Dubai, New York, and throughout the world. Pakistani news, if you have been following it, has been rather depressing of late.

Devoted Pakistani fans in London take to the streets in celebration of their teams victory. Everyone is proud to be Pakistani today.

I sincerely wish that this great victory for the people of Pakistan will enhance their resolve to alter the inadequacy of the present state of affairs for the security and welfare of Pakistan. After so many heartaches and headaches, this is almost seen as a sign of God that Pakistan has not been forgotten and left to be dissolved by its enemies. Pakistan, will and must, perservere despite the complicity of its enemies in the American, Israeli, and Indian governments. Pakistan is the thousand year evolution of the Muslim presence in Asia and a bulwark of Islam in a land which is antagonistic to Muslims. Pakistan's survival and well-being is a covenant with God almighty, and those millions who died in the creation of Pakistan and those hundreds of thousands who have died to keep Pakistan alive shall never be forgotten.

My best of wishes to Pakistan and the brave, courageous people of Pakistan. May the enemies of Pakistan have troubling sleeping due to the roaring of Pakistani cricket fans in the night. May they have green flags shoved in their faces. May they forever live a shallow and worthless existence. Ameen.