An extremist named Sharmine Narwani finds a home at ‘Comment is Free’

Cross posted by Zach at Huffington Post Monitor

It isn’t an easy title to win, but Sharmine “Dignity Rockets” Narwani is probably the most loathsome of all the Huffington Post bloggers, past or present. We’ve documented in the past her hatred for AmericaIsrael (of course), and Huffington Post bloggers who dare to say stuff that she doesn’t like. She’s a liaran anti-Semite, and a propagandist, not to mention a proud terrorism supporter. If all that doesn’t convince you, check out this page of quotes here.


Of course it goes without saying that being an insulting, lying, anti-Semitic, America hating supporter of terrorism isn’t enough to get one removed from the Huffington Post. That’s exactly the kind of thing that they like to see. The problem is that Narwani went a bridge too far and started defending the regime in Syria while it was bombing its own people. This caused her to be removed from the Huffington Post and sent to Al-Akhbar and Veteran’s Today, where presumably the readership would mirror her views to a larger degree. 

Fortunately for her, she has found a website far left enough to take her in, despite this long, ugly and checkered history. This website would be the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’, of course! Were you expecting anything less? Narwani hits the ground running with a stalwart defense of the Assad regime in the grand tradition of calling everyone who isn’t her a liar.

Here is how she starts off:

“Less than two months after the UN announced “shocking” new casualty figures in Syria, its high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay estimates that deaths are “probably now approaching 70,000″. But two years into a Syrian conflict marked by daily death tolls, the question arises as to whether these kinds of statistics are helpful in any way? Have they helped save Syrian lives? Have they shamed intransigent foes into seeking a political solution? Or might they have they contributed to the escalation of the crisis by pointing fingers and deepening divisions?”

This paragraph is rich on so many levels. First of all, if the UN were to report tomorrow “shocking” numbers of Palestinians had been killed by Israel, do you think Narwani’s reaction would be the same? She would use it as the perfect excuse to fight harder.

Secondly, once again the UN, so beloved when it is passing toothless resolutions bashing Israel, is thrown under the bus once again when it doesn’t toe the left-wing line.

Finally, and most unbelievably, Narwani seems to be saying that if the fact that seventy thousand people are dead isn’t ‘helpful,’ then no one should know about it. That is not only an extremely heartless point of view, it actually contributes to the ongoing fighting there. Narwani seems to want to have it both ways: if the outside world won’t intervene, then no one should know about the death toll in Syria. On the other hand, if no one knows about the death toll then why would anyone intervene?

If you are wondering where she is going with this, after dismissing the death toll of 70,000 she then seeks to deny it:

“Syria’s death toll leapt from 45,000 to 60,000 earlier this year, a figure gathered by a UN-sponsored project to integrate data from seven separate lists. The new numbers are routinely cited by politicians and media as fact, and used to call for foreign intervention in the conflict.

But Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), whose casualty data are part of this count, calls the UN’s effort “political” and the results “propaganda”.”

SOHR may claim to be opposed to the regime, but Abdulrahman and Narwani are more or less saying the same thing: that the UN’s toll isn’t completely accurate. I say: does it really matter whether 45,000 are dead or 60,000? The point is that way too many people are dying in a terrible, ugly conflict. Ah, but Narwani has something to say about that as well:

“But questions about the accuracy of casualty numbers is only part of the story. Dig deeper, and it’s clear that this data also offers an insight into the Syrian conflict at odds with the story that this is essentially about a brutal regime killing peaceful civilians.” 

Maybe I read the news with more cynicism than Narwani does, but here is what I was thinking about Syria:

1) It is a brutal regime in power. However, the rebels are also populated by Islamists.
2) The regime has no problem killing civilians if they think it will advance their interests.
3) During this fighting a lot of civilians have been killed.

I never gave the rebels a free pass and neither did most people, at least as far as I can tell. But as usual, Narwani just has to take it one step further and apologize for the Assad regime that she loves:

“It’s time to stop headlining unreliable and easily politicised casualty counts, and use them only as one of several background measures of a conflict. It’s essential too that the media help us avoid such manipulation by asking questions about reported deaths: how were these deaths verified? Are they combatants? Who killed them? How do we know this? Who benefits from these deaths? Was this a violent death or one caused by displacement? How is it even possible to count all these dead in the midst of raging conflict?”

Believe me, I see where this is going quite clearly. Have a good time on CiF, Narwani. You’ll fit right in.


38 replies »

  1. I have come across this attitude before. After details of the Hama massacre in February 1982 in which it is estimated between 20-40,000 were butchered I found myself in a surreal situation in which a radical muslim student was speaking in Hyde Park condemning Israel for various human rights abuses. But when asked why he did not spare a word of condemnation about what had recently happened in Syria, his retort was: “That’s between brothers!” Mind your own business, was the best he could come out with.

    This runs deeply in the Arab psyche. A failure to condemn one’s own, is placing tribal loyalties above citizenship. To do otherwise is to add shame and dishonour to the tribe. .And the case of Sharmine Nardawi is clear evidence of the same pattern of behaviour. The Guardian is content to subscribe to such codes by granting a platform to propagate this line of distorted logical thinking.

    • This runs deeply in the Arab psyche. A failure to condemn one’s own, is placing tribal loyalties above citizenship.

      Please spare us the bigoted bollocks. Some people would say something similar about Jews. What would you say to them?

      • I am afraid it’s not “bollocks” Pretz as you put it. I have given you examples of how tribal loyalties transcend citizenship in this example and a personal example. This is one of the key reasons to my understanding why “democracy” has yet to happen in the middle east, however much many who live there would like to have it . The power- challenge dialectic is now laid bear as we witness Assad’s weakness that initiated a challenge to his rule: “Challenge leads to power.Power invites challenge.”

      • I would agree in part about jews and about any group, that this type of conduct prevails in limited circumstances. It is however so rife in the ME that it is the dominant code by which people live

  2. Is any scum hating democracy and supporting terrorism/mass-murder who is not welcome at the Guardian?

  3. If we went by your definition of ‘extremist’ we’d have Yitzak Rabin somewhat to the left of Atilla The Hun.

  4. Nowhere in Narwani’s piece does she “apologize for the Assad regime”. I challenge anyone to produce a quote to this effect. Certainly Zach’s concluding quote contains no such apologia.

    Narwani’s argument can be summarised as follows:

    1) UN casualty figures are highly unreliable, as admitted by their own spokesman: “When I interviewed the UN spokesman Rupert Colville in January, he conceded: “We can’t prove most of these people have died.””;

    2) The majority of reported deaths are of military aged males, many of whom may well have been armed combatants (only 7.5% were female);

    3) Casualty figures are routinely used by western hawks to promote the idea of western military intervention; Narwani quotes persuasive evidence that this was true of Libya.

    You can see today’s Guardian article by Jonathan Steele arguing the case for talks over intervention here:

    Narwani, like Steele is promoting a peaceful solution – not supporting Assad as Zach claims.

    • Yes sencar. Figures are unreliable. And you know why they are unreliable sencar? There is no freedom of speech or press over there. Tell the truth and say good bye to the lucrative job you once had, or they say good-bye to you. So figures are often played down – until that is when they start digging up pits of dead bodies here and there and start counting others who have “not come back”.

      • Alexa – I agree. But this is what is so stunning about Narwani’s piece (and, for that matter, Sencar’s astonishing defence of them). It is pretty much exactly what many pro-Israeli activists have been saying for years about the unrefined numbers spouted constantly by her critics. You know, when they say the rockets from Gaza have “only” killed x Israelis, whereas the response killed y Palestinians?

        The hypocrisy is incredible.

        • On reflection, having read Narwani’s article, I actually agree with pretty much every word she says. Tis just a pity that she only applies this sense and caution to crises such as “Syria, Iraq, Darfur and the DRC”, and not to Gaza etc, where casualty figures and claims of “massacres” are swallowed whole by her, the Guardian and their fellow travellers.

          • Make your mind up, Labenal! You can’t reasonably condemn my ‘astonishing defence’ of Narwani while at the same time ‘agree(ing) with pretty much every word she says.

            • No sencar – I agree with the point of Narwani’s article, but what I find astonishing is that you do too, given that you make a habit of coming on this site and quoting similar raw stats at us as evidence of the villainy of the Israeli government and the IDF.

              It is the hypocrisy I find astonishing in your (and Narwani’s) stance.

              • “quoting similar raw stats”

                ‘Raw’ statistics are as good as their source. The UN rep tells us their stats are unreliable. If you ever have evidence that mine are dodgy, please say so and why. It’s ridiculous to dismiss all stats out of hand, and I speak as someone who has used statistical methods extensively in my job.

                • Which stats you call yours did you deliver here? Critic of certain stats is not dismissing all, you mistook ‘your’ Palestinian stats for all, which is a sign for quite foolish thinking, inconsistent with logic.

  5. Where is the Narwani article’s “stalwart defense of the Assad regime” referred to by the author?

    • Pretz (and sencar, who makes a similar point above):

      I agree that there is no specific defence of Assad or his regime. The subtext of the article, however, is clear. It is plain to any objective observer that, while as Zach points out the “rebels” do not get a free ride, the raw figures of 60,000 or 70,000 dead are being largely used by the western media as evidence of Assad’s brutality.

      Debunking that figure, and suggesting, as Narwani does, that the conflict in Syria is “equal” therefore serves the purpose of “re-balancing” the discussion so that it is less critical of Assad and his regime.

      So, although she doesn’t come out and say “I support Assad”, the effect is the same.

      • Ah, so it’s all in the subtext. That perhaps explains why no-one has taken up my challenge to produce a pro-Assad quote from Narwani’s article.

        I’m not sure what you mean by the “conflict in Syria (being) “equal””. Certainly there seems to be a military stalemate, as pointed out in the Steele article I refer to above. As for unjustified killings and other war crimes, they are being carried out by both sides, though clearly Assad is responsible for much greater numbers.

        Narwani’s point about numbers is the way they are mis-used for propaganda purposes. She says nothing about moral equivalence of the two sides – or perhaps you can quote me different?

        • Glad to oblige (although I would have hoped you could read the article yourself). I am not suggesting the Syrian conflict is equal. I am suggesting that that is Narwani’s suggestion!

          “this data also offers an insight into the Syrian conflict at odds with the story that this is essentially about a brutal regime killing peaceful civilians” (para 10) Hence my analysis that she aims to lessen the approbation being heaped on Assad.

          “bald casualty numbers taken out of context have clearly failed to explain what now looks closer to a parity in violence inside Syria,” (para 15) hence my allegation that she is trying to portray the conflict as equal.

          • Of course I read the article in full.

            To your first quote:
            As I pointed out first time most of the deaths are of men of military age. That was news to me since the western media usually suggest that Assad’s violence is all aimed at innocent civilians. This corrective in no way justifies Assad (and Narwani doesn’t claim that it does). She simply tells us that the story is more complex than often presented.
            And to your second:
            The key phrase here is “closer to a parity” (i.e. closer than usually portrayed – not ‘equal’).

            • The cold bottom line is simple: Shithead Narwani doesn’t give a damn how many people are killed in Syria because she loves and admires Assad and loathes Western governments (the reasons vary, but she will always have on that, in her warped little mind, trumps mass murder). This fits into the general CiF hypocrisy that mirrors what they claim to hate about the West: if CiF types agree with the ideas and can stomach the methods of anti-West (or anti-Israel) killers of thousands of women and children (just as a statistical BTW, even if the 7.5% figure of female casualties in Syria is accurate, you’re talking about thousands of innocent female civilians being outright murdered…so it’s nice to know you have no problem with that at all), then all their sins are forgiven.
              It’s clear you want the Syrian government to remain intact. It would be nice if you had a less mealy-mouthed argument for why that existence isn’t a stain on humanity.

  6. “Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR),”

    is in fact a blogger and drapery store owner who lives in a bedroom in Coventry!!

    The UK based SOHR is run out of a two-bedroom terraced home in Coventry, UK, by Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdul Rahman, or Rami Abdelrahman), a Syrian Sunni Muslim who also runs a clothes shop. After three spells in prison in Syria, Abdulrahman came to Britain in 2000 fearing a longer, fourth jail term.[1]

    • This being the case, it’s amazing that Narwani (and by extension, the Guardian) quote his estimates and objections as being more authoritative than those of the UN.

      Still, Abdulrahman is probably right. As Israel’s defenders have been saying all along, the UN (particularly it’s various “Human Rights” bodies) is highly politicised and any stats or reports it sponsors should be carefully fact-checked before being accepted as true.

    • As ever, Akus, when you can’t challenge the argument or the facts you try to belittle the man/woman pointing them out..

  7. The even more astonishing thing about this woman is that she is, apparently, according to the Guardian’s little bio – as usual, leaving out the really important stuff:

    ” is a political analyst and commentator on Mideast
    geopolitics and a senior associate at St Antony’s College, Oxford University”

    How low some of the UK universities have fallen! No wonder they try to ban Israeli academics.

  8. I think the fact that she was invited to bleat her case on the English language mouthpiece of the Iranian regime, PRESS TV, speaks volumes.

  9. Thanks for crossposting, CifWatch. I see some of your local trolls have expressed doubt that Narwani is an Assad supporter. Well, I should remind them and you that this is merely one isolated article that happens to be placed on the Guardian. If you want to find what Narwani really thinks, you actually need to do a little research. She has published five pieces at Al-Akhbar that are all “questioning” the “narrative” in Syria:

    Every single one them is about how the “mainstream media” is getting it wrong, that the rebels are worse than they seem and the regime is not such “bad guys.” That is not balanced reporting, it’s a trend. Like a Holocaust denier, Narwani claims to be simply “questioning the narrative” but it’s pretty obvious that she just wants to replace it with a narrative of her own.

    • Bullshit, Zach.

      You quite clearly say that in the CiF article in question “Narwani hits the ground running with a stalwart defense of the Assad regime”.

      And FYI I am no troll.

    • “Narwani claims to be simply “questioning the narrative” but it’s pretty obvious that she just wants to replace it with a narrative of her own.”

      I wonder whether you have actually read these Narwani reports, Zach. They certainly question the black and white narrative presented by much of the western media. However they are carefully argued, backed up with much detailed observation and interview quotes and comment critically on many of the factions involved in the conflict.

      If you want a cowboys and indians version of events you won’t like Narwani’s accounts but anyone looking for something a little more subtle will find much to admire.

      • “Much to admire”!
        And the mask slips, once more, just like with your Khazar outbursts not long ago…
        Any comment on how Narwani posts for an anti-Semitic, Holocaust-Denying website: “Veterans Today”?
        Or calling Palestinian rocketing of Israeli towns — a blatant war crime — “dignity rockets”?
        Or perhaps seeks to deport Israeli Jews to Germany, so they could “have their plot of land” there?
        No, there’s no “subtly” there — there is, however, a great deal of plentiful, unrestrained, ratcheted Jew-hatred(your favourite kind, I presume).
        And yet somehow, I am not surprised by your support for her.
        There’s not a crevasse low enough you could still sink into.

    • My remarks were made in respect of the texts Zach pointed us to, Commentary101. If you disagree with what I said please say so. Since I haven’t read everything Narwani has ever written I won’t attempt to comment further, nor will I respond to generalised ad hominem rantings.

  10. She is just a bitch with no feelings for humans, not to mention she is hater for anything called American, Syrian or decent human being.

  11. Sharmine Narwani is a Scum of Indian origin who got to the US and now on pay list of Iran. All her comments are sympathetic to Iranian views. So she gets a place on Press TV alongside George Galloway another Scum.