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Dr Kaukab Siddique | Editor-in-Chief Jamada al-Awwal 9,1435/March 9, 2014 # 10

Scroll to end for photo of Agha Khan. See report below.

Ukraine and Crimea: Putin has tied Obama into knots. Owing to US aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and support for Israel, Obama has no moral backbone to stand against Putin. However, Muslims should remember, Russia is no friend of ours. Remember its role in Afghanistan, Syria, Chechnia and Ingushetia. Almost forgotten is its cataclysmic role against the Muslim Tatars. Br. Athar brings us a stark reminder. Please scroll to the end.

Outreach: Houston
Activism in Houston, Texas, Pakistani Community.

March 7: Jamaat al-Muslimeen info was given to 55 Muslims at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. The items included a report on the fighting in Syria, plus Munawar Hasan and Sirajul Haq on the need for peace talks and Sharia, plus Wolf Blitzer's support for the government on CNN, plus "Queen" Latifah's support for homosexuality and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri's message for the Muslims of Bangladesh.

Outreach: Br. Kaukab's Latest Khutba
Sahaba, r.a., are the greatest Muslims after the Prophet, pbuh.
Role Models for us.

On March 7, Dr. Kaukab Siddique gave the khutba at masjid Jamaat al-Muslimeen in Baltimore, Maryland. Here are the main points.

Text: "The vanguard (of Islam)- the first of those who forsook (their homes) and of those who gave them aid, and (also) those who follow them in (all) good deeds,- well-pleased is Allah with them, as are they with Him: for them hath He prepared gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever: that is the supreme felicity." [al-Qur'an 9:100]
  1. There is no one greater in Islam after the Prophet, pbuh, than the sahaba, r.a.No one is praised more in the Qur'an [except for the prophets].

  2. His companions, male and female, suffered the worst persecution with him in Makka and did the first migration to Africa led by Usman, r.a., and Ruqayya, r.a.

  3. When the whole world seemed to turn against the Prophet, pbuh, some enlightened people of Madinah secretly met him. They recognized in him the signs of prophethood indicated in the old scriptures of the Jews.

  4. Then a second larger group came, again secretly, and did bayat [oath of allegiance] on his hand unto death if necessary.

  5. When the sahaba, r.a, of Makka migrated to Madinah, the local Muslims offered them half of all they had but the migrants refused and only took loans to earn their own livelihood.

  6. Biggest suras of the Qur'an were revealed in Madinah and Muhammad, pbuh, urged young people to learn writing so that they could write down the increasing revelations of the Qur'an.

  7. The Muslims were very peaceful people but the oppressors would not let them live in peace even in Madinah. Allah then made jihad obligatory on them and they had to learn how to fight.

  8. The battle of Badr was the turning point in the history of mankind. The heavily armed oppressors were badly defeated by the poorly armed Muslims.

  9. The muhajerin from Makka and the Ansar of Madinah became the backbone of the Islamic movement.

  10. The third category "those who follow them" should not be ignored. These included the greatest fighters for Islam who were once enemies of Islam, like Khalid, r.a., Muawiyya, r.a., and even Abu Sufian, r.a., and Ikrima, r.a., the son of the Abu Jahl, the arch enemy of Islam.

  11. The greatest empires of those times could not stand against Islam for three reasons:

    1. The Muslims had the Quran and the Sunnah, knew they were on the right path and were ready to sacrifice themselves and all they had for Allah.

    2. The women, even in enemy camps, knew Islam was on their side, and flocked to embrace Islam to get rid of male tyranny.

    3. The empires were based on slavery. The slaves came to know that Islam recognized only Allah as Lord and Master and that slavery was the opposite of Islam. The example of Bilal, r.a., turned all of West Africa to embrace Islam.

Letter: The Grave of Umm Hurum bint Milhan, r.a., in Cyprus
Definitely not revered by Christians
Shoaib Haroon Qureshi [UK]

Breaking News: Syria

March 7: Al-Nusra and ISIL forces have re-entered Yarmouk, the vast Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts pf Damascus. Assad had allowed refugees to leave in exchange for handing over the camp to his secularist Palestinian supporters who are no match for the mujahideen.

In the south, Deraa province, mujahideen are advancing on heavily fortified Assad positions in Tal al-Jabiyeh which are reportedly repositories of chemical weapons. Jordan has warned the fighters that if they capture the deadly weapons, there will be an Israeli air strike on them. Assad's troops are in full retreat. [New Trend has pointed out previously that Israeli air strikes are not against Assad but are meant to stop mujahideen from capturing Assad's weapons.]

In the central Syrian city, Raqqa, under ISIL, dhimma tax has been offered to the Christian minority in exchange for security and the Christians have accepted it.

On Assad's supply route from Damascus to the Alawite stronghold of Latakia, Assad's forces have captured the tiny village of Zara where the Islamic defenders were heavily outgunned and under air attacks before they withdrew.

The opposition FSA coalition which has the support of the West has appointed a new commander, Abdul Ilah al-Bashir, to replace Idris. It is expected that the new commander will instill Islamic spirit among his fighters and join mujahideen groups to carry the fight to Assad.

Several thousand European Muslims, some of them converts, are now in Syria, helping the mujahideen and caring for those wounded in air attacks. French analysts are very worried that among them are young women and even girls. Their analysis is that Assad's propaganda offensive supported by Iran and Zionist media, has failed. Young Muslims, they say, are watching jihad web sites.

[As New Trend pointed out Caralucci, Chodavoski, Fisk, Lamb and other orientalists have been trying to smear the mujahideen as "Saudi paid agents." Their latest failure is that Saudi Arabia has declared al-Nusra and ISIL as terrorist groups and has warned Saudi youths fighting in Syria to come home within 15 days or face drastic punishments.]

Our America: New York
Muslim who defended himself, Charged!
by Sis. 'Aisha [New York City.]

I have a story here that I never heard of until now. It is very interesting how the prison industrial complex, capitalism, and racism play a key role in America's downward spiral. This downward spiral can only be stopped in its tracks by the oppressed. We cannot afford to wait for the oppressor, nor their future generations, to see the error of his/her ways and atone for it. The story is below:

Huntington Station, New York - In August 2013, four men illegally entered the home of Youssef Abdel-Gawad and his family. One of the men shot at the Gawad family inside the home and all four men ran. Youssef picked up his shotgun and, with two of his brothers, ran after the men. Youssef shot the man who shot into his home, Jazzmen Bryant - the perpetrator.

In March 2014, the Huntington Station New York prosecutor has decided to charge Youssef Abdel-Gawad with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide because the perpetrator was shot in the back. According to the prosecutor, this means that the perpetrator was running away from the scene. No consideration is being given to him for returning fire after having been fired upon himself. Thomas J. Spota is the district attorney for Suffolk County, which is where this case will be tried.

Many prosecutors work very hard to derail cases against police criminals. Police officers have escaped conviction in cases where they handcuffed and shot unarmed suspects or unarmed suspects running away from them. These cases were and still should be winnable convictions against police criminality were it not for prosecutorial misconduct.

Jurors need to understand their power in these instances. Jurors send a powerful message to legislators and the prosecutors who enforce their ridiculous laws when they refuse to convict in these instances involving civilians. I will keep everyone posted, insha'allah.

Extreme Right Wing Government Welcomes Extremist Ismaili Leader
Agha Khan is infiltrating Pakistan with large funds:
In with Nawaz Sharif, Karzai, Hosni Mubarak

On February 27, Agha Khan, leader of the Ismaili cult, got a huge welcome from the Canadian establishment and right wing government led by Prime Minister Harper. Here is how the notoriously anti-Islamic Toronto Star described the hysterical reception for the Agha Khan:
"He was welcomed with repeated standing ovations in the packed House of Commons. The audience in the galleries included many Ismaili Muslim representatives invited for the occasion."

It should be noted that Harper has numerous Muslima in his prisons. Even the families of the prisoners have been isolated and threatened.
Canada's troops are among the occupation forces of NATO in Afghanistan. They have killed scores of Afghans and suffered casualties and also committed atrocities.

Agha Khan does not support ANY Islamic movement, peaceful or armed. Instead he was a friend of the Egyptian tyrant, Hosni Mubarak, has vited Karzai in Kabul, and very recently sneaked into Pakistan for a secret meeting with Nawaz Sharif. Ismaili communities have been set up in the northern areas of Pakistan and Kashmir, Gilgit, Baltistan, etc, as well as in northern Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Agha Khan has been pumping big money into these strategic areas.

Now he has received unqualified support from Canada. Tens of thousands of Ismailis have settled in Canada.

This is only one example of a western power supporting a minority which sees Muslims as aliens. In recent years, Agha Khan is using fake names have been attacking the Qur'an, abusing the sahaba, r.a., and insulting the wives of the Prophet, pbuh. The Internet is rife with these Ismaili attacks.

Hail Marshall Eddie Conway
Black Panther Leader released after 44 years. Was framed in Conflict with police.
by Nadrat Siddique [A long time activist for Eddie's freedom]

Welcome back to Mob Town aka Baltimore, Br. Marshall Eddie Conway. You were locked up in 1971, the very year Nixon announced the start of the "Drug War." That year, fewer than 200,000 people were held in state and federal prisons. Today, there are more than 2.4 million, an increase of more than 700 percent.

Br. Eddie, by the mid-1990s, over half of the young Black men in Baltimore were under the ..."supervision" of the criminal-justice system--that is, in a jail or prison, on probation or parole, or under pretrial release (compared with one in three nationally). (Crime and Punishment in America, by Elliott Currie). Today the figures are even more disproportionately skewed against Black men.

In 1971, there were two prisons in Baltimore, the Baltimore City Jail (now known as the Baltimore City Detention Center) and the Maryland Penitentiary (now known as the Metropolitan Transition Center). Today there are nine. All of these, including the two extant when you were a Panther in Baltimore, were built under the watchful eye of the Black Democratic politicians (Uncle Toms) in power. The same politicians were pushing for a tenth and eleventh prison--specifically to warehouse Black youth and women respectively. The Youth Prison initiative was defeated in January 2013, at least for the time being, as a result hard organizing by the People.

My dear brother, today in your hometown, Black men are profiled, gunned down, or beaten to a pulp by a half a dozen/dozen cops. The situation reminds me of Gaza, a situation with which I am far more familiar. An environment of (police-inspired) terror and despondency exists for Baltimore's Native Black population, while the Settlers (usually wealthy White transplants to Baltimore, the result of gentrification) live comfortably in million dollar homes in the "clean" parts of the city. Black youth are locked up for years on very minor, non-violent offenses (average sentences, based on mandatory sentencing laws, are seven years in such cases). All of this occurs with the tacit approval of the Democratic Governor (a Black democrat), the City Council (mostly Black Democrats), and the States Attorney (a White Jewish Democrat).

They call you the "Leader" of Baltimore. What do you propose to do now, and what advice/ admonitions do you have for the People?

Muslim World "As if is Shaitan's Game"
by Shaukat Khan [North Carolina]

everywhere in the world today
muslims are always planning and toiling
acting like we have something in the say
of our worldly destiny

we are billions by numbers and counting
spread across in seventy countries barely surviving
yet we are treated as a handful in a small hive
because the power to be know the muslims lost their sting

the muslim world's is bee hive
rich in manpower and resources
which the world collects from us diligently
and leaves the muslim world starving

muslims are becoming weary of leaders
foolishly building and spoiling again
as if it is shaitan's game
to keep muslims away from their Islamic aim

I just dream for that serene river
where I dreamt my life away
for the powers to be
have trained muslim well indeed

that a dreamer lives forever in a game
and a toiler just dies away
so the muslims are kept busy
and away from the aim

here I sit as an example by life's flowing river
from where I see the muslim world eat itself away
though a muslim should aspire to be with Allah forever
contemporary Iman dies in a day

I am sick of the showy muslims contemporary
of a life built on shaitan's scheme
that is half a lie
of faces lined with scheming

from the dreamer thoughts endeavor
how we have made our Islam just a show and play
muslims contemporary lives to dream another day
while a muslim thinker dies every day

in muslims contemporary I feel no pride, but pity
while the muslims have been blessed with resources galore
only the rich enjoy the life in the city
while patient lives the poor must endure

let me dream as an old man by that river
and be loved as I dream away
for a dreamer lives forever
and a toiler dies in a day

The Passing of Chokwe Lumumba
From Mustafa Ansari [Atlanta]

Chokwe Lumumba was a great person, lawyer, Mayor, and comrade. I am at a lost for words right now. He will be missed.

Chokwe Lumumba, legendary Black Liberation activist and recently elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi has passed away. He was 66. There will be much to say about Chokwe and his immense contributions in the coming days, but for now we wish to extend our deepest sympathies to his family and comrades. Chokwe Lumumba, presente!

There is speculation that Chokwe Lumumba was Murdered. Why was he controversial?

Lumumba finished first in his law school class and graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School in 1975.[6] While there he created the Malcolm X Center[7] and was a staff attorney in the Detroit Public Defenders Office. He formed a law firm in Detroit in 1978 and successfully defended 16 prisoners who faced murder charges after a riot in a Pontiac, Illinois, prison.[8] He was initially barred from representing Cynthia Boston, known as Fulani Sunni Ali, a member of a revolutionary group charged in a Brink's robbery case; she was jailed on $500,000 bond. Many national legal groups protested the barring of Lumumba from representing the prisoner and the characterization of him as a terrorist due to his membership in the Republic of New Africa.[9] In 1983 while handling the Brink's case he was held in contempt by the federal judge for his press comments.[10]

He worked on the Geronimo Pratt case and encouraged black youth to eschew gang activities and participate in global actions such as protesting apartheid in South Africa. The 1980s witnessed a large increase in the number of imprisoned African-Americans in the United States.[11] In September 1987 at Harvard Law School, as a co-founder of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, Lumumba addressed a conference sponsored by the National Conference of Black Lawyers regarding the constitutional neglect of the needs of enslaved persons.[clarification needed][12]

In 1988 he returned to Jackson, Mississippi and three years later was granted the right to practice law. He was a public defender on contract with the City of Jackson's consortium to represent the indigent citizens of the municipality. In 1994 Lumumba sued to have a public defender contract voided.[13] In 2000 Judge Swan Yerger dismissed a lawsuit filed against a police officer and Lumumba was publicly reprimanded by the Mississippi Bar after the judge found him in contempt. In a Leake County case he was found in contempt and publicly reprimanded. After an unsuccessful appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, he served three days in the county jail when bond was refused. He also lost his license to practice law for six months.[14] A human rights and criminal defense attorney, he was licensed to practice in both Michigan and Mississippi.[15]

Saudi Arabia Opens Up to Oppressed Muslim Communities around the world
By Anwar Niazi

LAHORE, Mar. 4: The three day Islamic Solidarity Conference concluding at Makkah on Tuesday, has impressed upon the Muslim Ummah to side with the oppressed everywhere and try its best to prevent the oppressor from tyranny.

According to reports received from the JI delegation attending the moot, the conference discussed in detail the problems besetting the Ummah and the scholars and the Ulema highlighted different aspects of the issue under discussion.

The delegation from Pakistan included Ameer, JI, Pakistan, Syed Munawar Hasan, Mufti Rafi Usmani, Prof. Sajid Meer, Abdur Rashid Turabi, Abdul Ghaffar Azis and others.

Expressing deep concern over the bloodshed going on in Syria for the last three years, the conference noted that the world powers had only paid lip service to the issue and had been watching the killings in cold blood.

It noted that Iran was still supporting tyrant Bashar al Asad although more than one lakh people had been killed in Syria and millions had left the country.

The leaders attending the moot expressed grave concern over the victimization and executions of the opposition leaders in Bangladesh on false charges.

Discussing the Kashmir issue, a member of the Saudui Majlis e Shoora Dr Sadqah Fazil, and others noted that there were several resolutions on the Kashmir issue at the international bodies but these had been shelved as had been the case of Palestine.

JI Director Foreign wing, Abdul Ghaffar Aziz, spoke on the issue of Kashmir, Syria, and Bangladesh besides Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who had been jailed on false charges.

The conference condemned the bloodshed of the Muslims going on in Burma, Central Africa, Yemen, and Lebanon.
 Islamic Solidarity Conference at Makkah

But Saudi Arabia Sees some Muslims as a threat & tries "Divide and Rule."
Moves against Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Nusra and ISIL.
[From New York Times, March 7]

CAIRO — Saudi Arabia on Friday declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, escalating a new campaign against the group across the region with a sweeping ban that imposes lengthy prison sentences for even expressing sympathy with it.

The Saudi decree equates the Brotherhood, which has long denounced violence, with widely designated terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Syria-based Nusra Front. The inclusion of the Brotherhood appeared to signal the beginning of a Saudi effort to eradicate the group, demonstrating the deepening polarization that is spreading across the region after the Egyptian military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader, last summer.

The decree was the Saudi monarchy's latest gesture of support for attempts by the new military-backed government in Egypt to crush the Brotherhood. But it was also a pointed message to a neighboring Persian Gulf state, Qatar, which has provided refuge and support to Egyptian Brotherhood leaders since the takeover. Consistently sympathetic coverage of the Brotherhood by the Qatari-owned news network Al Jazeera has outraged Cairo and the other gulf monarchies.

The Saudi royal family has always viewed the Muslim Brotherhood with apprehension, fearing its rival blend of Islam and politics as well as its avowed embrace of democracy. The Saudi government prefers to align itself with a more puritanical approach to Islam, Salafism, which teaches heavy deference to Muslim rulers. But Brotherhood members living in Saudi Arabia have not usually felt the need to hide their affiliation for fear of arrest.

Since Mr. Morsi was deposed, though, the Saudi monarchy seems to have embarked on an all-out campaign against the group. As the dominant force in the gulf, Saudi Arabia appears to have led a campaign against Qatar over its support of the Islamists. This week, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, Qatar's capital, in protest. Saudi Arabia and other gulf states donated more than $12 billion to the military-backed government in Cairo almost immediately after it removed Mr. Morsi.

The decree's scope remained a puzzle. It was unclear if Saudi Arabia meant to extend the terrorist label to every affiliate or ally of the Brotherhood in the region. That would include the prime ministers of Turkey and Morocco, the leading party in Tunisia, and recognized opposition parties in Jordan and Bahrain. Some analysts asked if the Saudis would jail Islamist public officials from those countries if they visited, say, on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Saudi Arabia is also a close ally of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in their shared battle against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. And less than two years ago, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia met in Riyadh with Mr. Morsi on his first foreign trip after his election. The United States and other Western countries do not consider the Brotherhood a terrorist group.

In a statement issued by its London office, the Brotherhood said it was surprised and distressed by the decree. Unlike the militant groups listed, the Brotherhood said it never declared any government to be "infidel" or a legitimate target of violence. "The Brotherhood takes no stance of enmity or confrontation with the state, but rather acts as an adviser or a guider," it said.

"The Muslim Brotherhood also cooperates with all nations politically in order to achieve common goals, such as having a dignified and free life," the group said.

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi commentator, noted in an interview with the Saudi-owned news network Al Arabiya that the Brotherhood was the only organization on the terrorist blacklist that was not an armed group.

"What are the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the kingdom?" he asked. "These are not so easy to describe, and the authorities will need to answer the question of how they plan to respond to the group."

American Muslimahs Celebrate International Women's Day
by Sis Hadayai Majeed [Atlanta, Georgia]

Celebrating International Women's Day and saluting some of the wonderful, ambitious, giving and caring women and girls I have the pleasure of personally knowing. Girls who excel academically under great odds, Muslim Girls Scouts, Muslim women who work hard, give a lot and do not want or ask for any recognition, Muslim women activist, moms who read stories to children at home and at local events. Moms who at great sacrifice stay home to nurture their children during the early stages of their development.

I will be doing this several more times today. I ask that you re-post this when you see it. I have just begun to go through my personal photo collection online. If you do not see yourself this time you probably will before the day it over, in shaa Allah.
 Hadayai Majeed's photo.  Hadayai Majeed all done up for a photo shoot.  Hadayai Majeed's photo.  Hadayai Majeed's photo.  Hadayai Majeed's photo.  Hadayai Majeed's photo.  Hadayai Majeed's photo.  Hadayai Majeed's photo.  Hadayai Majeed's photo.

Munawar Hasan's Umra & Successful Visit to Saudi Arabia
He insiated on Focusing on Egypt along with other issues.....

 Ameer, Jamaat e Islami, Pakistan, Syed Munawar Hasan 7 March
LAHORE, Mar. 7: Ameer, Jamaat e Islami, Pakistan, Syed Munawar Hasan, has welcomed the government decision to have direct talks with the Taliban, and said this was the right way to ensure the success of the talks.

He was talking to the media men at the Lahore Airport on return from a week long visit to Saudi Arabia where he attended the conference of the Islamic movements held under the aegis of the Rabita al Alam Islami.

The JI chief said that direct talks between the government and the Taliban were essential for making the talks fruitful. He also urged the Taliban to assist the government in tracing the groups involved in terrorist activities to ensure peace in the area.

Replying to a question, he said that armed forces were an institution under the government, and the government had the authority to utilize the forces and their agencies wherever it thought necessary. He said the armed forces should also be taken into confidence regarding the talks.

The JI chief said that the whole nation wanted the talks to succeed, and added that the elements who did not consider the talks solution of any issue, were actually working on the foreign agenda to plunge the country and the nation into a plethora of problems. He said the government decision to go for direct talks was based on prudence and foresightedness.

Syed Munawar Hasan said that the three day Islamic movements moot held at Makkah had discussed the common line of action to end the oppression and tyranny on the Muslims all over the world, bringing an end to terrorism, stopping bloodshed of the Muslims in Egypt, Syria, Bangladesh, Kashmir, Palestine and Burma. The leaders of the Islamic movements also expressed the hope that the talks between the Pakistan government and the Taliban would bear fruit. The moot also prayed for the restoration of peace all over the world including Pakistan, and for the failure of the enemy intreagues against the Muslims.
The JI chief said that India was involved in subversive activities going on in Balochistan through Afghanistan, and added that the security agencies had solid proof of that. He said it was time that the government and the people recognized their enemy.
During his visit to Saudi Arabia, Syed Munawar Hasan addressed the Pakistanis in Makkah and Madinah and also performed Umrah.

Agha Khan, Westernized Ismaili leader claims that he is the descendant of Ali, r.a., and Incarmation of the original imamat coming from Ali, r.a. He is hardly distinguishable from his non-Muslim supporters.

The Agha Khan (centre) met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen on Thursday before addressing the House of Commons, where he spoke in both official languages.
 Agha Khan with Prime Minister Stephen Harper
The Agha Khan (centre) met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen on Thursday before addressing the House of Commons, where he spoke in both official languages.

The saga of Crimean Tatars
by Mohiuddin Athar [Canada]

It reminds us of the extermination of native Indians in Americas. The so called father of Turks-Ata Turk was leader of TurKey after the collapse of Ottoman Empire which was next door to Crimea in Black sea but turned his back on his own ethnic kin. Crimean Tatars are Turkic origin and speak a Turkish dialect. So much for fake Turkish nationalism which was watershed event in Muslim world and later spread among Arabs and others. And same goes for Muslim countries that dot the landscape today. Please note Iran has consistantly supported the war criminal Putin at every juncture.

As the international crisis over Crimea's status escalates, the fate of the Crimean Tatars has been nearly absent from the discussion. The West has essentially accepted a manipulation of history: According to the Russian narrative, Crimea is a traditional Russian territory with an overwhelming Russian population, whimsically transferred to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954. To accept this version is to negate the histories of non-Russian peoples, above all Crimean Tatars, and tacitly sanction Russian aggression, which may lead to consequences beyond Ukraine's borders.

]Since ancient times, many peoples have populated Crimea, including Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Mongols, Slavs and Turks. However, only the Crimean Tatars have Crimea as their only homeland; their presence and rule predates the Russians by centuries. As a distinct ethnic group, they can be traced to the early 15th century and the formation of the Crimean Khanate, a successor state to Genghis Khan's empire. For almost 350 years, the Crimean Khanate, under the protection of the Ottoman Empire, was a major power in Eastern Europe, controlling the northern Black Sea steppes. The Russian Empire eliminated the state of the Tatars in 1783, contrary to guarantees it pledged in the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainardja (1774).

So what happened to the Crimean Tatars and where did the Russians and Ukrainians come in? The Tatars fought both with and against their Ukrainian Cossack neighbours. After Russia conquered Crimea, it launched a massive colonization of Slavic settlers. Russia continued to reduce the Tatar population, decreasing it by two-thirds over the course of the 19th century through forced migration to the Ottoman Empire. The modern-day presence in Turkey of millions of people of Tatar descent explains Turkish concern over the current situation. Finally, in 1944, Joseph Stalin deported the entire Crimean Tatar population in cattle cars, dumping them in Central Asia under the pretext of supposed collaboration with Nazi Germany. About half of the 225,000 deportees perished from hunger and the elements.

This act of genocide opened the way for the settlement of additional, mostly Russian, colonists in Crimea. In the late 1980s, Tatars began returning to Crimea and found their homes irrevocably lost to the new settlers. They resigned themselves to the situation and to coexistence with the new settlers, who did not always welcome their return. Despite these hardships, the experience of the Crimean Tatars under Russian rule was so traumatic that for them, the possibility of Crimea's return to Russia, raised Thursday in plans for a quick referendum on that prospect, is appalling. They remain staunch supporters of Ukraine.

Between the ethnic cleansing of the Crimean Tatars and colonization, Russians eventually became the dominant population in Crimea. As of the 2001 census, the population was just over two million: 58 per cent Russians, 24 per cent Ukrainians and 12 per cent Crimean Tatars. (The Tatar proportion will have since risen due to migration and birth rate.) Russians hardly constitute a "vast majority," as is often stated in the media.

There are two more myths Russia invokes to justify its occupation of Crimea. The first is that Crimea is a land of "Russian glory sanctified with Russian blood" because Russia conquered it in the 18th century and retook it from the Germans in the Second World War. This article of faith disregards the fact that both the Russian and Soviet empires were multinational states whose armies included plenty of non-Russians - the blood of Ukrainians and other ethnicities was spilled in the wars against the Ottoman Empire and the Third Reich.

The second relates to the transfer of Crimea from the Russian to the Ukrainian Republic in 1954. The story goes that Khrushchev, bypassing all legal norms, single-handedly gifted the peninsula to Ukraine to commemorate its 300th anniversary with Russia and earn points with the Ukrainian Communist Party in his struggle for power. (Actually, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union passed a law that sealed the transfer.) Rarely mentioned are economic motivations. The Second World War devastated Crimea and Khrushchev was particularly troubled by the abysmal pace of recovery. The Ukrainian Republic's aid was seen as crucial, particularly in bringing water from the mainland to the arid peninsula. Ukrainian resources were a key to the recovery.

Lamentably, Russian myths about Crimea's past are being allowed the role of a full-fledged actor in the current crisis. Ukrainians have their narrative as well. All nations have heroic myths, but when an exclusivist myth is invoked in an international conflict, it must be understood for what it is, rather than accepted as a legitimizing factor for aggression. The Tatar voice desperately needs to be heard, both as a matter of justice and as a matter of prudence, to avoid a new grievance in the Muslim world. In accepting the Russian narrative, the West may contribute not only to the triumph of oppression over justice, but to war over peace.

Victor Ostapchuk is an associate professor in the department of Near and Middle Eastern civilizations at the University of Toronto, specializing in the history of the Black Sea region and Crimean Khanate.

2014-03-09 Sun 10:28:47 cdt