Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa, a senior journalist and Editor of The Eastern Herald, who currently is in Dubai (The United Arab Emirates) recently in an exclusive interview told me, Europe is under the threat from radical Muslim groups. He also said, “This is not the era of religious empires. It is an era of secular and democratic countries. ‘State with religion’ tends to oppress the rights of others. And any group whether religious, ethnic or any if tries to impose their doctrine on society, it becomes dangerous for the nation”.
We discussed diversified issues ranging from recent turmoil in Sri Lanka to Ukraine war. On Sri Lanka crisis, Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa said: “The Sri Lankan issue is not a direct product of the Ukrainian crisis but is a result of the wrong political will of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa. But, the Ukrainian crisis put oil to the fire and made this country drown in heavy debts. Due to the Ukrainian crisis, some other countries like Chad, Pakistan, Sudan, Algeria, and Morocco are severely affected. These low-income countries are now on the verge of political turmoil too”.
Here is the full transcript of the interview:
Shoaib Choudhury: Thanks again for agreeing to this interview. According to information gathered through my research as a counterterrorism specialist, at least fifty percent of the young migrants in Italy are involved in numerous forms of criminal activities, while authorities are still reluctant in taking any effective measures in checking this migrant influx. According to 2021 statistics, the majority of these migrants are from Tunisia, followed by Egypt, Bangladesh, and Iran. The most shocking fact is, while entering Italy, these migrants provide mostly false documents or statements to the Italian missions in the respective countries, while they even succeed in hiding their criminal records by bribing the authorities concerned.
What is your opinion on this matter?
Muzaffar Bajwa: Thank you so much for your welcoming gestures. It is my pleasure to share some insights with your respected readers. Talking about Italy, it has been observed that the Italian authorities are not very much concerned about the activities and background checks of the migrants. In fact, it has also been found that when an individual applies for a visa they are not bothered to run a background check with the local authorities. There has to be a system. Many of the migrants want to flee their country not only because of their economic concerns but their criminal backgrounds too. I was reading reports about the latest surge in domestic crimes in Italy and some other European countries where I found that more than 85 percent of migrants are involved in these acts.
Now, look at the countries these migrants are coming from, these are the countries where states have religion. These are either non-democratic nations or pseudo-democratic. In most of the Muslim majority countries where the state has a religion, Islam, women have almost no rights when compared to men. Especially people coming from African and some Arab countries, where women are treated merely as an object or a medium of sexual pleasure, assume the same human rights as women in Europe. This makes the women hostile to the same situation they were in their respective countries. The cultural backgrounds and social status are considered the same by these migrants. Why I’m talking about this because the surge in domestic crime is the highest not only in Italy but in all of Europe. While talking about street crime, go to Africa, and you’ll see the teenagers, adults, and even women start to fight at any time in any situation. For them winning the fight, physically, is a matter of pride. Same culture and habits they bring to Europe. This is the duty of the government to train them about the culture in Europe. Educate them about European values. Otherwise, this surge will remain continuous even in the future. The only way to limit this is
1). background check of individuals when they apply for visas.
2). Educate them when they arrive in the country.
This way authorities have direct access to these migrants too.
Shoaib Choudhury: As we know, hundreds and thousands of migrants in Italy, after getting residency and or citizenship, also take their spouse and family members while in most cases, Italian embassies in the respective countries fail to check the background of these visa-seekers, including their past crime records.
It is also learnt from media reports, a large segment of the Muslim migrants in Italy and other European and Western countries are becoming heavily radicalized and spreading radicalism and religious hatred, as well as jihadism within the societies.
For the sake of the national security of Italy and other Western countries, what measures should be taken to check the influx of such elements within the societies and countries?
Muzaffar Bajwa: The most of influx is from economically weaker countries where corruption is a major source of income for government employees. So, I think, it is difficult to find a way toward uncorrupted background checks. These countries are so poor that they don’t have their records publically online. So, in this era of information and blockchain, it is important to have, at least, background information of individuals online especially on blockchain to keep it pure. Even, the forward countries should also encourage the world to adopt this new technology.
For radicalization of the society, it is important to keep a track of all the religious institutes, their activities, their source of funding, and their members. Especially religious institutions are run by various organizations. Some of these have backgrounds with some most dangerous groups and terrorist wings too. There are very few religious groups of Muslims that propagate the true teachings of Islam. Generally, so-called Islamic schools (madrassa) are promoting political Islam and not the original Islam. This is also an important task for Italy and other European countries to find any Islamic society or organization which aligns with their interest and find a way further.
Shoaib Choudhury: Needle jihad, a new jihadist menace is on rising in the European countries as well as the United Kingdom. According to media reports, just from February-June 2022, more than 300 people in France have reported being pricked out of the blue with needles at nightclubs or concerts. While doctors and multiple prosecutors are on the case, no one knows who’s doing it or why, and whether the victims have been injected with drugs — or indeed any substance at all, according to counterterrorism experts, this is a new jihadist act where Muslim youths are attacking females with needled contaminated with HIV and hepatitis viruses as well as mercury. The main target of the attackers is to infect those females with deadly viruses.
In your opinion, what are the reasons behind such dangerous jihadist incidents, and what measures those respective governments can take to save people from falling victims of needle jihadists?
Muzaffar Bajwa: As I said earlier, the government cannot just rely on police or intelligence. They have to find a partner. It is a funny term “needle-jihad” but dangerous. I don’t know who found this way. As far as I know, Islam prohibits these kinds of acts but today’s political Islam wants to win by hook or by crook. All these crooked activities are somehow associated with top-notch religious groups within Muslims. My suggestion is ‘Find a Partner’.
Shoaib Choudhury: Needle jihadists are targeting mostly females in nightclubs, discos, bars, and concerts. By doing so, do you think, they actually are trying to destroy the secular fabric of the societies and indirectly enforce Sharia rule in those respective countries?
Muzaffar Bajwa: No one understands Sharia. Today, there are 73 sects of Muslims and everyone considers their understanding of Islam is the best and most authentic. But the ones who want Sharia are mostly affiliated with radical groups and terrorists too. For them, this is the only way to impose their understanding and doctrine of Islam. And believe me, this is the most dangerous thing even for Muslims too.
This is not the era of religious empires. It is an era of secular and democratic countries. ‘State with religion’ tends to oppress the rights of others. And any group whether religious, ethnic or any if tries to impose their doctrine on society, it becomes dangerous for the nation. I know many radical Muslim groups are very active in Europe and the way they propagate Jihad is extremely dangerous for any nation.
Shoaib Choudhury: As you also are an expert on Middle Eastern affairs also, I would like to cite here a recent example, where Fa’ezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, an Iranian politician, ex-lawmaker, and daughter of a former president of Iran has been indicted after insulting the Prophet of Islam as well as accusations of propaganda activities against the country’s Islamic establishment.
Recently, Fa’ezeh Hashemi angered many in Iran by making disrespectful comments against Prophet Muhammad, who she claimed had “wasted” the rich assets of his wife Khadijah.
Days earlier, she had also hit out at the activities of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), an official division of the country’s Armed Forces, and said the elite military force should remain on the US sanctions list.
What is your opinion on this matter?
Muzaffar Bajwa: I’ve many Iranian friends. Not even a single person ever told me that the government in Iran is good for its people. As I said earlier, today any ‘state with religion’ is dangerous for society. Iran believes in another form of Islam; Shi’ite. Sunni Muslims don’t consider themselves Muslims.
The kind of Jihadist war Iran has waged in the middle-east has no end. Fa’ezeh Rafsanjani is a very vocal activist. She knew that with her remarks she shall face dire consequences. She knows that today Iran is not what Iran used to be in the shah regime.
The downfall of Iran is there due to its inclination toward radicalization. Either Fa’ezeh or anyone but IRGC will remain on the US sanctions list.
Shoaib Choudhury: While recently, Peter Baum, a research scholar, and writer recently said, anti-Hindu behavior is on the rise in the United Kingdom, we are witnessing similar incidents in other Western countries, including the United States. For example, US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has been pushing anti-India and anti-Hindu agendas almost openly under the patronization of Pakistan.
In your opinion, what are the root causes behind the rise of anti-India and anti-Hindu sentiment in the West?
Muzaffar Bajwa: This is true that India is rising and growing. Today India has achieved an economy of more than US$3 trillion. But, in India too there is a great threat of radicalization.
India is, no doubt, a secular nation where everyone lives in every kind of harmony. But, after the downfall of the Congress party, it has been observed that the Muslim scholars have started showing their might and mass following. Now, these clerics are mostly illiterate and don’t have a sense of understanding. For them, their Islam is what their elders taught them. And their elders were also taught by the then Jihadists. This is the reason when Muslim clerics in India approach the crowd, they haunt others. Now, these radical groups have strong affiliations with other radical groups in Europe and the US too.
Politicians like Ilhan Omar, no doubt, patronize radical groups of Muslims. But moderate Muslims have no followers. This should be the priority of any government to find out the outfits working and propagating against the nation and national security.
About Jihad, my opinion is very clear. Unless Muslim clerics don’t propagate the true meaning of Jihad which is not about physical assault but about education and teachings, the Muslim world is not going to uplift their society.
Shoaib Choudhury: According to media reports, the majority of the Ukrainian female refugees in the European countries are falling victims of human-trafficking cartels as well as organized sex rackets.
During the ongoing war, thousands and thousands of Ukrainian females have entered a number of European countries. While most people are showing sympathy for them, organized crime rackets are using the influx of Ukrainian females in Europe as an opportunity for sexual exploitation as well as trafficking. Nowadays, Ukrainian females are offered to customers in most brothels, escort services, massage shops, and even scandalous dating sites in the West. According to media reports, bad actors are leveraging social media groups and communications apps to sexually exploit and traffic Ukrainians seeking shelter and information, amplifying concerns about those dangers in an already high-risk region.
Do you think, once the Ukraine war ends, it will not be the only challenge for the Ukrainian people to rebuild the country and pay-back billions of dollars Volodymyr Zelenskyy is receiving from the Western countries as “military help”, the case of hundreds and thousands of Ukrainian girls and women been already made victims of rape and sexual entrapment would become a massive social catastrophe to Ukraine? And, how these challenges can be addressed?
Muzaffar Bajwa: First of all, we should know why Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine. The reason is very much clear if the west opens it eyes. The neo-Nazism and human rights violations of citizens were on surge in areas like Crimea, Donbas, Luhansk, etc. Now, what is happening in those areas after Russia took control of these areas, which western media will never show, people are happy and they started living their normal lives. They don’t fear persecution. They don’t fear the Azos militia anymore.
Now about prostitution, it was always on the rise in Ukraine. I visited Ukraine in 2017 and the Ukrainian military did not allow me to enter regardless of a valid visa. The reason was clear; they don’t want the world to know the reality of tourism in Ukraine. Tourism in Ukraine is not just tourism but ‘Sex Tourism’. My tour was about exposing ‘Child Sex Tourism’, but they didn’t allow me to enter their country. Prostitution was always a way to promote Ukrainian tourism in the country. Why does anyone visit a country where there are no amusement parks or anything special? The only reason was prostitution. The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, who is a very progressive leader has always warned authorities about it. Now, when the military operation finishes, I’m sure, the new nations like Luhansk and Donbas will enjoy their normal lives and shall promote tourism and not ‘Sex Tourism’. People shall live with dignity.
Whatever Zelenskyy had planned he has achieved. He wanted to be funded heavily and during this time, especially, no one is vigilant about the funds. The west is funding the war heavily and on the other side, Poland is also taking the benefits out of this opportunity. Later in Ukraine, which will be left, Poland will have a powerful diplomatic role. And another thing that Zelenskyy wants is the accession of Ukraine to the European Union, which ultimately will happen. Right now, all Ukrainian propaganda is there to gain the sympathy of the west. And the west wants to make this a world issue. Many major economies like China, India, the UAE, Qatar, Turkey, and many more either supported Russia or stayed silent. Why? because they know this is not what it looks like from the western perspective. So, just wait and watch. Ukrainian women have the right to live with dignity, not as sex workers. Even in European countries like Poland now ‘Sex Tourism’ is on the rise. This is due to the influx of Ukrainians into the country. Poland’s will is not to give a dignified life to Ukrainians but to exploit them. Ukrainian women are beautiful, smart, and believe in good family values. I hope that one day and that day may come very soon, Ukrainian women will emerge and shine.
Shoaib Choudhury: Due to the Ukraine war, the world is heading towards a cruel food crisis, while almost every country in the world is already hit by inflation. In Sri Lanka, for example, inflation has resulted in the resignation and fleeing of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Do you think, many other countries in the world may face a similar fate because of the economic crisis resulting from the Ukraine war?
Muzaffar Bajwa: The Sri Lankan issue is not a direct product of the Ukrainian crisis but is a result of the wrong political will of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa. But, the Ukrainian crisis put oil to the fire and made this country drown in heavy debts. Due to the Ukrainian crisis, some other countries like Chad, Pakistan, Sudan, Algeria, and Morocco are severely affected. These low-income countries are now on the verge of political turmoil too. The latest UNDP report states that ‘71 million people fell into extreme poverty‘. The main reason is the corona crisis followed by the Ukraine crisis. Now recently Turkey mediated and an agreement is signed between Russia and Ukraine about unblocking food grain across the sea. Still, the problem persists as many African countries can not afford the deal offered by Ukraine.
There is a high possibility that some more countries after Pakistan may face a severe political crisis. Sri Lanka will not be able to emerge from this crisis soon.
Shoaib Choudhury: Western and Ukrainian media are saying, Russia is losing the Ukraine war and Russian President Vladimir Putin is becoming weaker. What is your opinion?
Muzaffar Bajwa: Ha ha ha ha! Where is Russia losing? Russia is winning all the fronts. Europe cannot live without Russian gas. Look at the situation in Germany, France, and Italy. They are planning to impose another tax burden on their citizens and their excuse in Russia. But, believe me, Russia is not the reason. They want this operation to continue because this is what makes them politically strong in their respective politics. If Europe wills this crisis can end in a week but they don’t want. Again, Russia is not losing on any front. Look at the figures; how much territory is repossessed by Russia. Believe me, western media is not depicting the truth but the false and fake news only.
Shoaib Choudhury: We know each other now for many years. You are one of the Contributing Editors of Blitz. This newspaper has stepped into twenty years of publication. In this world of insanity and biased journalism, as a senior and seasoned journalist, what is your opinion about Blitz and its influence as a newspaper?
Muzaffar Bajwa: I’ve been meeting top policymakers, ambassadors, politicians, and some other top officials. They all know what Blitz is doing and how we as a team do. If you remember the struggle during the early days, today Blitz is no more an unknown entity. People who know Blitz are the ones who play important roles in their respective domains. Today, with more than 6 million visits every month, Blitz is one of the most influential newspapers in the region. I love the engagement with Blitz and I want to congratulate you on this occasion of the completion of two decades. I hope in the future too we’ll have more fruitful results. I can’t forget the day when due to Blitz’s and your undeterred efforts, Bangladesh removed ‘Except Israel’ from its passports. Now, any Bangladeshi can travel to Israel without any legal issues.
I hope we as a team play an important role in fighting against fake news and propaganda.
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