Wednesday, 30 April 2008

" OUR" Middle East Envoy "BLAIR" What a JOKE?

Robert Fisk: How can Blair possibly be given this job?
Here is a politician who has failed in everything he has ever tried to do in the Middle East

I suppose that astonishment is not the word for it. Stupefaction comes to mind. I simply could not believe my ears in Beirut when a phone call told me that Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara was going to create "Palestine". I checked the date - no, it was not 1 April - but I remain overwhelmed that this vain, deceitful man, this proven liar, a trumped-up lawyer who has the blood of thousands of Arab men, women and children on his hands is really contemplating being "our" Middle East envoy.
Can this really be true? I had always assumed that Balfour, Sykes and Picot were the epitome of Middle Eastern hubris. But Blair? That this ex-prime minister, this man who took his country into the sands of Iraq, should actually believe that he has a role in the region - he whose own preposterous envoy, Lord Levy, made so many secret trips there to absolutely no avail - is now going to sully his hands (and, I fear, our lives) in the world's last colonial war is simply overwhelming.
Of course, he'll be in touch with Mahmoud Abbas, will try to marginalise Hamas, will talk endlessly about "moderates"; and we'll have to listen to him pontificating about morality, how he's absolutely and completely confident that he's doing the right thing (and this, remember, is the same man who postponed a ceasefire in Lebanon last year in order to share George Bush's ridiculous hope of an Israeli victory over Hizbollah) in bringing peace to the Middle East...
Not once - ever - has he apologised. Not once has he said he was sorry for what he did in our name. Yet Lord Blair actually believes - in what must be a record act of self-indulgence for a man who cooked up the fake evidence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" - that he can do good in the Middle East.
For here is a man who is totally discredited in the region - a politician who has signally failed in everything he ever tried to do in the Middle East - now believing that he is the right man to lead the Quartet to patch up "Palestine".
In the hunt for quislings to do our bidding - ie accept even less of Mandate Palestine than Arafat would stomach - I suppose Blair has his uses. His unique blend of ruthlessness and dishonesty will no doubt go down quite well with our local Arab dictators.
And I have a suspicion - always assuming this extraordinary story is not untrue - that Blair will be able to tour around Damascus, even Tehran, in his hunt for "peace", thus paving the way for an American exit strategy in Iraq. But "Palestine"?
The Palestinians held elections - real, copper-bottomed ones, the democratic variety - and Hamas won. But Blair will presumably not be able to talk to Hamas. He'll need to talk only to Abbas's flunkies, to negotiate with an administration described so accurately this week by my old colleague Rami Khoury as a "government of the imagination".
The Americans are talking - and here I am quoting the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack - about an envoy who can work "with the Palestinians in the Palestinian system" to develop institutions for a "well-governed state". Oh yes, I can see how that would appeal to Lord Blair. He likes well-governed states, lots of "terror laws", plenty of security - though I'm still a bit puzzled about what the "Palestinian system" is meant to be.
It was James Wolfensohn who was originally "our" Middle East envoy, a former World Bank president who left in frustration because he could neither reconstruct Gaza nor work with a "peace process" that was being eroded with every new Jewish settlement and every Qassam rocket fired into Israel. Does Blair think he can do better? What honeyed words will we hear?
I bet he doesn't mention the Israeli wall which is taking so much extra land from the Palestinians. It will be a "security barrier" or a "fence" (like the famous Berlin "fence" which was actually called a "security barrier" by those generous East German Vopo cops of the time).
There will be appeals for restraint "on all sides", endless calls for "moderation", none at all for justice (which is all the people of the Middle East have been pleading for over the past 100 years).
And Israel likes Lord Blair. Indeed, Blair's slippery use of language is likely to appeal to Ehud Olmert, whose government continues to take Arab land for Jews and Jews only as he waits to discover a Palestinian with whom he can "negotiate", Mahmoud Abbas now having the prestige of a rabbit after his forces were crushed in Gaza.
Which of "Palestine"'s two prime ministers will Blair talk to? Why, the one with a collar and tie, of course, who works for Mr Abbas, who will demand more "security", tougher laws, less democracy.
I have never been able to figure out why the Middle East draws the Balfours and the Sykeses and the Blairs into its maw. Once, our favourite trouble-shooter was James Baker - who worked for George W's father until the Israelis got tired of him - and before that we had a whole list of UN Secretary Generals who visited the region, frowned and warned of serious consequences if peace did not soon come.
I recall another man with Blair's pomposity, a certain Kurt Waldheim, who - no longer the UN's boss - actually believed he could be an "envoy" for peace in the Middle East, despite his little wartime career as an intelligence officer for the Wehrmacht's Army Group "E".
His visits - especially to the late King Hussein - came to nothing, of course. But Waldheim's ability to draw a curtain over his wartime past does have one thing in common with Blair. For Waldheim steadfastly, pointedly, repeatedly, refused to acknowledge - ever - that he had ever done anything wrong. Now who does that remind you of?

Ode to the Young at Heart

By Imam Zaid Shakir

The young at heart enter this world to dream and wonder why.

They walk a path that sees them cross God’s bridges to the sky.

With smiles and tears they overcome the trials along the way.

With hopes and dreams they build a world of future’s brighter day.

Their hearts ignite the flames of love that burn away the dross in hearts of those obsessed with pain and burdened down with loss,

Of those who fail to find the paths that lead from worldly stress,

Of those who fail to find the ways in which we’ve all been bless’d.

So young at heart will be the ones who shine a brighter light, that clarifies the sullied truth and dignifies the fight.

To guide the lost, to help the poor, to shelter those too weak; through efforts great, through sacrifice to gain the good they seek.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Never Pick Up Stones

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Halfe- Caste By John Agard

John Agard

I first read this poem when I was in Secondary school.I absolutely loved it. I love the way it is written, so authentic . I really think that the meaning of the poem is very deep. After thinking about it I have decided not to use to the term half-caste because I think its racist. The term Hafe Caste if you reflect after reading this poem does not even make sense.Every time I read the poem it still streaks me.

Excuse me

standing on one leg

I'm half-caste
Explain yuself

wha yu mean

when yu say half-castey

u mean when picasso

mix red an green

is a half-caste canvas

explain yuself

wha u mean

when yu say half-castey

u mean when light an shadow

mix in de sky

is a half-caste weather

well in dat case

england weather nearly always half-caste

in fact some o dem cloud

half-caste till dem overcast

so spiteful dem dont want de sun pass

ah rass

explain yuself

wha yu mean

when yu say half-caste

yu mean tchaikovsky

sit down at dah piano

an mix a black key

wid a white key

is a half-caste symphony
Explain yuself

wha yu mean

Ah listening to yu wid de keen

half of mih ear

Ah looking at u wid de keen

half of mih eye

and when I'm introduced to yu

I'm sure you'll understand

why I offer yu half-a-hand

an when I sleep at night

I close half-a-eye

consequently when I dream

I dream half-a-dream

an when moon begin to glow

I half-caste human being

cast half-a-shadow

but yu come back tomorrow

wid de whole of yu eye

an de whole of yu ear

and de whole of yu mind
an I will tell yu

de other half

of my story

By John Agard

Friday, 18 April 2008

Bush Planned Iraq Change Before He Became President

Lets Not Forget: Bush Planned Iraq 'Regime Change' Before Becoming President

15 September 2002: A SECRET blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure 'regime change' even before he took power in January 2001.
The blueprint, uncovered by the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a 'global Pax Americana' was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice- president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says: 'The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'
The PNAC document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'.
This 'American grand strategy' must be advanced for 'as far into the future as possible', the report says. It also calls for the US to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars' as a 'core mission'.
The report describes American armed forces abroad as 'the cavalry on the new American frontier'. The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document written by Wolfowitz and Libby that said the US must 'discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role'.
The PNAC report also:
l refers to key allies such as the UK as 'the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership';
l describes peace-keeping missions as 'demanding American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations';
l reveals worries in the administration that Europe could rival the USA;
l says 'even should Saddam pass from the scene' bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently -- despite domestic opposition in the Gulf regimes to the stationing of US troops -- as 'Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has';
l spotlights China for 'regime change' saying 'it is time to increase the presence of American forces in southeast Asia'. This, it says, may lead to 'American and allied power providing the spur to the process of democratisation in China';
l calls for the creation of 'US Space Forces', to dominate space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent 'enemies' using the internet against the US;
l hints that, despite threatening war against Iraq for developing weapons of mass destruction, the US may consider developing biological weapons -- which the nation has banned -- in decades to come. It says: 'New methods of attack -- electronic, 'non-lethal', biological -- will be more widely available ... combat likely will take place in new dimensions, in space, cyberspace, and perhaps the world of microbes ... advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool';
l and pinpoints North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iran as dangerous regimes and says their existence justifies the creation of a 'world-wide command-and-control system'.
Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP, father of the House of Commons and one of the leading rebel voices against war with Iraq, said: 'This is garbage from right-wing think-tanks stuffed with chicken-hawks -- men who have never seen the horror of war but are in love with the idea of war. Men like Cheney, who were draft-dodgers in the Vietnam war.
'This is a blueprint for US world domination -- a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world. I am appalled that a British Labour Prime Minister should have got into bed with a crew which has this moral standing.'

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Robert Fisk: The fearful lives in a land of the free

Westerners assume that anyone with a Canadian passport is safe

I was given the chance to talk to 600 Muslim Canadians a few days ago. The dinner was in an Ottawa banqueting room and the guests also included the imam of the Ottawa mosque, the Ottawa chief of police and sundry uniformed Canadian army officers.
The imam sat between me and the Canadian capital's top cop – a genuinely decent guy who wanted Muslim Canadians to regard him as a friend – and we were even able to joke about the reality of those "random checks" which Muslims of Middle Eastern origin and a certain R Fisk seem to receive at North American airports. All well and good, then, until I got up to speak.
I warned the audience they might not like all they heard from me. And sure enough, when I told the audience that they were perfectly at liberty to condemn Israel and America – indeed, that they should condemn both when they abuse human rights, occupy other people's countries and shoot innocent civilians – but that I wanted to know why I so rarely heard them condemn the vicious police states in the Middle East and other areas of south-west Asia from which they originally came, I was greeted with silence. A smattering of Muslim diplomats sat like statues, thus identifying the cruelty of their regimes. The only immediate applause came when I remarked that the moment Western soldiers started shooting at Muslims in Muslim lands, it was time for the soldiers to withdraw.
Two interesting phenomena emerged from this remark. The first was that, when I finished, both the police chief and the Canadian army officers joined the applause. Canada's hopeless military involvement in Afghanistan is a subject of considerable controversy within the Canadian military. When the politicians have had their say, I've discovered, soldiers usually let us know their views.
Much more revealing, however, was the long car journey I took next day across the frozen tundra of Canada during which two Muslim Canadian men – yes, yes, they had beards – explained to me just why their community was so silent about the iniquities perpetrated by their local dictatorships back home. I had suggested that they were rather too beholden to those regimes – for funding and political support. They agreed – up to a point.
"Mr Robert, you have to understand something," the driver suddenly said. "They have their 'mukhabarat' agents here in Canada. Whenever there is even a dispute between families, anyone who's angry can report back that his antagonist is anti-regime. We have to remember that we have families still in our Arab countries. They can be arrested. Or we can be arrested when we go back to visit them."
Of course. Only a Westerner – only someone who automatically assumes that anyone with a Canadian passport is safe – could have failed to spot the flaw in the country's brave multiethnic society: not that Canada's vast communities from every part of the world live in the land of the free – which they do – but that their freedom is frighteningly circumscribed by the ruthlessness and lack of freedom in the countries from which they came.
And so I began to learn what it is like to be an Arab Canadian. It takes only a local argument to have an email winging its way back to Tripoli or Cairo or Damascus or the Gulf, informing the local despots that their dual citizen – Mohamed or Hassan or Abdulrahman or whatever – is a potential subversive and, ergo, a terrorist. And, so great is the co-operation between our beloved Western intelligence agencies and the torturers of these repulsive dictatorships that this "intelligence" is shared.
So only days after the original message has gone off to the Arab world, the "mukhabarat" privately tell the Canadian intelligence service – a truly silly institution called CSIS – that Mohamed or Hassan or Abdulrahman is a "terrorist". At which point, Mohamed or Hassan or Abdulrahman come under observation from CSIS as potentially dangerous terrorists in Canada.
At which point I realised exactly why my remarks in the Ottawa banqueting hall were greeted with a frozen silence. It isn't long ago, for example, that Maher Arar, who lives in Canada, was picked up by the FBI's goons while in transit at JFK airport and "renditioned" to an underground prison and torture in Syria, courtesy of information provided by CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Canadian government subsequently awarded Arar $10m for this outrageous experience. But who wants to speak out against one's country of origin if it's going to end in the company of a well-trained torturer?
Just as Tariq Ali revealed the darkness behind the Bhutto legend in the London Review of Books last year, so my favourite lawyer, Gareth Peirce – she of In the Name of the Father fame – has now shone her crimson torch upon the British version of these iniquitous goings on.
In the same publication, she has given the most detailed account so far of the fraudulent British promises given to Arabs who chose to return to their savage homelands – rather than languish under a form of house arrest in the UK – that they would be neither tortured nor imprisoned after they went home.
When Benaissa Taleb and Rida Dendani were packed off back to Algeria, for instance, a British diplomat had promised that they would be detained for only a few hours. But they were both interrogated and beaten for 12 days in Algiers before being sentenced to years in prison. When Dendani appealed desperately to the British Special Immigration Appeals Commission, the SIAC didn't even bother to reply. And there was no reason why they should.

As Peirce has now revealed from court papers, private memoranda between the Home Office and Anthony Blair (I am truly sorry that I must mention this wretched man's name again), a caution from civil servants about the probable torture to which deported Egyptians might be subjected if sent to Cairo, was greeted by our former prime minister with the words: "Get them back." In reference to the Home Office's concern that Egyptian assurances could not be trusted, Blair wrote: "This is a bit much. Why do we need all these things?"
Am I the only one to react to the preachy, hypocritical sermon by this detestable man at Westminster Cathedral on Thursday with something more than disgust? Because it is his callous, immoral reaction to that deportation case – and the response of countless political leaders like him – towards Muslims in Europe and North America that led to that cold, hollow, frightening silence in the Ottawa banqueting hall. If I had been among the audience, I now realise, I would have remained silent too.

Robert Fisk's new book The Age of the Warrior: Selected Writings, a selection of his Saturday columns in The Independent is out now

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Desert University

This an overview of the Madrasah of Al-Murabit Al-Hajj(The Desert University). It is a truly beautiful place as you can see. May Allah preserve its inhabitants and all those who visit them. Amin.

University of Murabit ul-Haj: The traditional nomadic encampments (Mahdaras) were established centuries ago by the Zawaya tribe to preserve Islamic sciences. The Mahdara of Sheikh Murabit ul-Haj, publicized by American scholar Hamza Yusuf (shown sitting in the background), is the most well-known.
A simple structure propped by poles serves as the mosque for the village. The type of foundational sciences – logic, grammar, law - taught here is quite advanced despite the simplicity of the environment
Where does a young, college-educated, second-generation American go to pursue graduate studies? For Humza Chaudhry, a senior in biochemistry and Near Eastern Languages & Civilization at the University of Washington (UW), the answer is Mauritania, Africa’s least densely populated country.
Not an Ivy League university in the U.S. or anywhere in Europe. Not even in Asia or Northern Africa. But a university that sits in the desert countryside of Mauritania in Tuwamarat, a tiny village with 400 inhabitants of which 100 are international students.
The university village itself has no electricity aside from two solar panels, one that powers a light for the mosque, and one that powers a well drilled for the village inhabitants. There is no phone or running water—water must be carried by bucket from the well to one’s hut. Yes, there is no dorm room or houses to rent in here.
At the Old Redmond School after Friday prayers in late March, Chaudhry was saying goodbye to several of his old friends by giving them friendly hugs. It was his last weekend in Seattle before his flight to Morocco and then Mauritania for a one year course.
“I should have half my dissertation material (by the time I return).” said Chaudhry happily, one hand holding a bag containing nearly $500 of electronic equipment that included a MP3 recorder, digital camera and solar charger.
Chaudhry is on an independent study course from UW and is to earn credits for his one year desert sojourn. He also hopes to record nearly 1000 hours of lectures over the course of a year on his MP3 recorder which he will later use for PhD dissertation material.
Classical teachingAn interesting study technique is that all books taught are also memorized by students. This is a tradition that was alive in the pre-colonial schooling system across the Islamic world although this scarcely exists today.
This emphasis on the use and development of memory has earned the Mauritanian scholars repute across the Muslim world. So, it is no wonder that graduates of this university become professors at universities and Imams of mosques in Gulf Countries such as UAE.
Students typically spend over 60 hours every week in instruction, study and review. The large amount of study time is due to the absence of distractions such as TV, phones, markets or restaurants. Subsequently, students learn much more in a shorter time span than if they attended a regular university.
Chaudhry will be attending the mahdhara of Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj. He is currently about 97 years old and is well renowned for his immense knowledge in all of the Islamic sciences as well as his piety and good character; although old age has slowed him down a little, he still devotes a vast majority of his time to teaching, and takes out a small amount of time for his own meditation and even less for his sleep.
The core of his school comprises Murabit al-Hajj himself and five Mauritanian professors. Muhammad Rami Nsour, an American student who studied a few years in Mauritania, cautions potential students that life is difficult in Tuwamarat until the body adjusts to the desert harshness.
“People get sick. Hepatitis, Malaria. Dysentery. Mainly stomach problems and flu. A little cut takes a long time to heal.” More importantly, what can be learnt in a desert without huge libraries, hundreds of professors and access to new knowledge? “There are matters that change with time.” acknowledges Nsour but clarifies that what he learnt in the mahdaras are foundational matters that don’t change with time and started listing some of the sciences.
“Grammer (nahw), memorization of the Qur’an, jurisprudence (law), Principles of Law, ideology (aqeedah), logic, astronomy, ….”

By the rising Star Team

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Another Provocation Hate Speech or Free Speech

Geert Wilders who is creating a film to create a provocation

The Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders has touched off a fierce debate with his plans to post a short film on the Internet that is said to be highly critical of the Koran and Islam. A date has not been set, and there is no certainty that the film will be posted. But the anticipation has already touched off a heated discussion, and raised fears that the film could set off violence of the sort that followed publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark.
Following are four comments on the film and the furor around it.
A recent Gallup poll of Muslims in 39 countries reported that 92 percent of Muslims believe that attacks on civilians can never be justified. When asked to explain their position, a significant segment of the group cited the Koran's insistence on safeguarding innocent life as a moral duty. In spite of this, Geert Wilders would have us think otherwise.
Wilders's film is the latest in a series of provocations against Muslim communities in Holland, and against Islam in general. Its title, "Fitna," is taken from an Arabic word meaning chaos and civil strife.
It seems that this is also Wilders's intended outcome in producing the work. He argues that most Dutch Muslims should leave Holland or tear up at least half the Koran if they wish to stay. He promises that his film will definitively show "the violent and fascist elements of the Muslim faith."
There is no doubt that a small number of criminal extremists have committed violence in the name of Islam in recent years. But they do not represent the overwhelming majority of Muslims.The Gallup poll also shows that the tiny minority of people who believe that violence can sometimes be justified rarely use religion or the Koran to support their views. Their reasons are mostly geopolitical. In other words, Wilders's anti-Muslim ranting is not only racist, it is inaccurate.
The cynical use of identity politics to pit people against each other for political gain is not a new tactic. The past few years have been marred by a rise in tensions between small groups of extremists all over the world promoting the perception of a supposed "Muslim-West" divide.
It is no surprise that those on the fringes of either side of "the divide" use similar, incendiary rhetoric to provoke young people, with the ultimate aim of strengthening their own political platforms. In releasing a film that will undoubtedly insult deeply held religious beliefs, it seems that Wilders is hoping to cause a violent reaction to prove his own argument.
As with the Danish cartoon crisis two years ago, this situation, while dangerous, also presents unique opportunities.
Every time resources are deployed to spread disinformation, there is an attendant rise in the public's curiosity. Already there are many who are interested in learning more about Islam. It is likely that their number will grow after this. It is critical that we seize this opportunity to mobilize ourselves to present a more accurate picture of Islam.
As mediators in an increasingly heated debate, our efforts to counter the likes of Wilders must be both outwardly directed - in teaching others about Muslims - as well as inwardly directed toward our youth.
How do we ensure that our youth do not fall prey to such provocation?
We must be sensitive to their needs, and listen to them carefully. We should use every opportunity to further the development of healthy Western and Muslim identities. We must provide them with alternatives both in terms of information and platforms for dialogue and participation. And the best way to start doing this is to exemplify moderation in our own words and actions. Our Prophet would have done no less.

By Hamza Yusuf, Din Syamsuddin & HH Prince Hassan bin Talal.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson is a Muslim American scholar of Islam. Din Syamsuddin is the president of the Muhammadiya, the second largest Islamic organization of Indonesia. Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan is the president of the Arab Thought Forum.

Please Geert Wilders do not start the flame of hate, we have seen to much hate in this world of ours.Hate only generates hate, which leads to violence not peace.What saddens me most is that your speech, Geert is very inaccurate, if you study the history of tolerance, you will discover that tolerance was introduced in Europe through Islam.Like most things that you take for granted such as the street lights you walk under which came from Muslim Spain, or the orange juice you drink in the morning which also came from Muslim Spain.Not to much the Algebra you were taught that helped you to pass your Maths exams in school, not forgetting the coffee you drink that was invented by a Ethiopian Muslim, his idea went to Arabia, then was practiced in Turkey, finally appearing in Italy.This probably calms you down when you are stressed and helps you stay awake when you burn the midnight oil.Oh I forgot the shampoo you use when you have wash your hair that to my dear friend is an Islamic idea. These are just some of the vast contributions Islam has brought to the west.I pray that you correct your speech and understand what Islam really is and not what the media conveys.

Peace your brother in humanity

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Priceless Jewel

"Each of your breaths is a priceless jewel, since each of them is irreplaceable and, once gone, can never be retrieved. Do not be like the deceived fools who are joyous because each day their wealth increases while their life shortens. What good is an increase in wealth when life grows ever shorter? Therefore be joyous only for an increase in knowledge or in good works, for they are your two companions who will accompany you in your grave when your family, wealth, children and friends stay behind "

Imam Al-Ghazali

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Celebrating Martin L King 40 years on

A classic pitcure of the elegant Martin L king

Forty years ago, Martin Luther King was assassinated, but his legacy lives on. So who is the This great man ? What were his achievements ?

"Let freedom ring" that is what he said so powerfully on capital Hill. But, what does it really mean ? The BBC have produced a profile of his life. I think eveyone should know who he is and what he has doneas and his hardwork has affected all of our lives indirectly and directly in some way or another.

King was an American clergymen, Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the principal leaders of the American civil rights movements.
King was born on 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His father was a Baptist minister, his mother a schoolteacher. Originally named Michael, he was later renamed Martin. He entered Morehouse College in 1944 and then went to Crozer Religious Seminary to undertake postgraduate study, receiving his doctorate in 1955.
Returning to the South to become pastor of a Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, King first achieved national renown when he helped mobilise the black boycott of the Montgomery bus system in 1955. This was organised after Rosa Parks, a black woman, refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man - in the segregated south, black people could only sit at the back of the bus. The 382-day boycott led the bus company to change its regulations, and the supreme court declared such segregation unconstitutional.
In 1957 King was active in the organisation of the Southern Leadership Christian Conference (SCLC), formed to co-ordinate protests against discrimination. He advocated non-violent direct action based on the methods of Gandhi, who led protests against British rule in India culminating in India's independence in 1947.
In 1963, King led mass protests against discriminatory practices in Birmingham, Alabama where the white population were violently resisting desegregation. The city was dubbed 'Bombingham' as attacks against civil rights protesters increased, and King was arrested and jailed for his part in the protests.
After his release, King participated in the enormous civil rights march on Washington in August 1963, and delivered his famous 'I have a dream' speech, predicting a day when the promise of freedom and equality for all would become a reality in America. In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1965, he led a campaign to register blacks to vote. The same year the US Congress passed the Voting Rights Act outlawing the discriminatory practices that had barred blacks from voting in the south.
As the civil rights movement became increasingly radicalised, King found that his message of peaceful protest was not shared by many in the younger generation. King began to protest against the Vietnam war and poverty levels in the US. He was assassinated on 4 April 1968 during a visit to Memphis, Tennessee.