Decline Watch: Pakistani clerics issue fatwa against calling America a superpower

Remember when anti-American clerics used to call it the Great Satan? Those were the days:

A clerical alliance in Pakistan has issued a religious decree (fatwa) saying that it is illegitimate (haram) to call the United States a "superpower" because "only Allah Almighty deserved the title."

Decline-o-meter score: 4

The Sunni Ittehad Council may not carry the same weight as, say, Standard & Poor's when it comes to assessing American power, but it's still troubling that an alliance of generally moderate Sufi Barelvi leaders, who are often targeted for attacks by the Taliban, are calling for "jihad against the U.S., in defense of the homeland."

This, however, is telling:

The scholars called upon the [Pakistani] government to end the country’s role as front-line state in the so-called US war on terror and try to establish a new bloc comprising China, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They also urged the government to start preaching Jihad in the way of God with the armed forces making preparations to counter any foreign aggression. They urged all politicians to bring back their assets from abroad as well as returning bank loans got through political influence.

As RFE/RL's Gandhara' blog notes, the clerics "probably don't know that China is a majority non-Muslim country. They are also seemingly unaware that one of Beijing's major security nightmares is the rising appeal of jihad among its minority Turkic Uyghur Muslims."

In other words, they're not really paying attention to China. They may not want to call the U.S. a superpower, but it still seem to be the dominant global player in their worldview.  

Thanks to RFE/RL's Zach Peterson for the tip


Did the BBC get pranked by a fake sociopathic trader?

The video above is currently making the rounds and provoking more than its share of confusion. Independent trader Alessio Rastani went on the BBC and gave an eyebrow-raising interview including such nuggets as "I go to bed every night and I dream of another recession, " "governments don't rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world," and  "In less than 12 months, the savings of millions of people will vanish." Some called him a sociopath, but others quickly suspected that Rastani might actually be a member of the anticapitalist prankster collective, the Yes Men. (Here's a similar example of their handiwork with a very similar looking interviewee.

Rastani seems real in this interview with Forbes, and the Yes Men themselves deny he's part of they group. Felix Salmon argues that there's a third option here:

is it possible that Rastani is both a trader and a member of the Yes Men? And the answer there, I think, is absolutely yes.

Independent traders are, well, independent — and you don’t need to spend very much time hanging around the comments section (or even many of the posts) at Zero Hedge to discern a strong nihilistic and even anti-capitalist strain to much of the thinking in that community. Independent traders are often men in their 20s and 30s who inherited a substantial sum of money and who for whatever reason don’t have a more attractive opportunity in the regular workforce. They work from home, they tend to have a strong contrarian streak, and they have a lot of time on their hands.

Update: The BBC say they do not believe it was a hoax.

Update 2:  Rastani tells the Telegraph, "I agreed to go on because I'm attention seeker. But I meant every word I said."