Mainstreaming is not moderating

Plaudits to Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy’s outspoken piece (‘Don’t surrender to mob rule’), in which he laments the Pakistan state’s reluctance to stand up to spiralling clerical power, and decries what he so rightly calls the ‘mainstreaming of religious extremism’.  There has been a worrying increase in the number of extremist candidates standing in recent Pakistani elections, due to the military implementing their plan to mainstream terrorist groups by encouraging them to contest elections. Alas, mainstreaming has not equated to anytemperance in their radical views or methods: the TLP leader Dr Hoodbhoy mentions, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, even threatened to ‘wipe Holland off the face of the earth’ if it allowed a cartoon drawing competition of the Prophet Mohammed. Even in the most liberal societies there must be a limit to tolerance. These fanatics have crossed it and should be stopped.

(Name and address supplied)


View from the other side

Dear Sir

Your magazine gives excellent coverage of many stories across Asia and I was impressed with the reporting in past issues about the Rohingya crisis in Burma and Bangladesh. I am happy now to see the article by Mr Nicholas Nugent in December edition (‘Portentous policies in Xinjiang’) about persecution of Muslim Uighur citizens in XinjiangUighur Autonomous Region. Mr Nugent might also be interested to learn that Muslim shop owners in the region are prohibited from selling halal foodor other items related to Islam. The media is full of news about Muslims behaving badly so it is good to see some balance.

Aamir Chowdhury


ACTIVIST: Rebiya Kadeer, head of the World Uighur Congress

What’s really behind Trump’s realpolitik?

Do other Asian Affairs readers share my disgust at the Trump administration’s reaction to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, highlighted in the December issue by Reva Goujon and Khalid Nadeem?It is one thing to be pragmatic about the nature of international relations, and to accept the reality that any serious penalties imposed against Saudi Arabia could affecttrade, impacting on oil prices and lucrative Saudi-USarms deals. There are also diplomatic considerations, as a good relationship with the Saudis providesa bolster against America’s nemesis in the Middle East, Iran. Sadly, many countries have long put these kinds of concerns ahead of human rights.

What is morerepellantin the Khashoggi case isthe matter of Trump’s personal commercial interests, as various wealthy Saudis have invested heavily in his businesses over the years – for example, when Trump was verging on bankruptcy, he sold his ‘Princess’ yachtfor $20 million to Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal, who also bailed him out over his failing Plaza Hotel. It was the Kingdom that bought the entire 45th floor of the Trump World Tower in New York for $12 million, and the president also has several other business links with the Saudis.

It is not a little concerning to have to even consider that, for the leader of the world’s most powerful democracy, personal gain might be a compelling factor in the refusal to probe more deeply into the killing of a journalist who was also a US resident.

J. R. Devereux

(By email)

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