Islam as a New Enemy of the West

DR.MUHAMMAD MUMTAZ ALI argues that the West in general and the United States in particular take Islamic resurgence in different parts of the world as an open threat to the Western lifestyle and that is why they have launched a war against Islam and M

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Nationalistic sentiments of the West demand that they should remain superior to all other nations. Therefore, they made it the prime object of its collective existence to exterminate the others from the face of the earth or at least make them their subordinate. To achieve this end, it was necessary to excite such deep animosity in the hearts of a people that they should abhor the very name of foreign nations and be consumed with the desire to annihilate them. After much thought and careful deliberation the psychologists decided that hatred and animosity could be generated if educationists and politicians inculcated a sense of fear and apprehension in the minds of people. Through all possible means the bogey should be raised that “foreign nations are your enemies.” They want to eliminate you. It is, therefore, your duty to stand together and oppose the enemy.

C.E.M. Joad writes: “If I really wanted to unite the nations of the modern world, I should invent for them an enemy in some other planet, or possibly on the moon….the modern world should be chiefly guided by the emotions of hatred and fear in their dealings with their neighbours, since it is upon these emotions that their Governments thrive, and by them that unity is strengthened.”

Hunter’s hunt deserves our attention here: “With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union and with the absence of another country that could credibly challenge Western supremacy, the West is lacking a believable enemy figure, making it more difficult to reach consensus on foreign policy issues within individual countries as well as among allies. Thus, at least for commentators with the requisite psychological and analytical bent, there is utility in finding an ideological enemy against which to unite.”

Irvin Kristol, speaking within the American context, noted: “With the end of the Cold War what America really needs is an obvious ideological and threatening enemy, one worthy of its mettle, one that can unite all Americans in opposition….Where are invading aliens when America most needs them?” Thanks to Huntington and Bernard Lewis and many others who voluntarily took pain and provided an ideological enemy for America. They raised the slogan of “Islamic Threat”. Many other terms were coined such as radical Islam, militant Islam, fundamentalist Islam, anti-civilizational Islam, etc.

The rise of Islamic resurgence in North Africa and in Egypt was portrayed as the new enemy of democracy, the United States and the West. Ahmad Moussalli says that several political commentators in the Western world presented Islamic resurgence as revolutionary and aggressive, similar in its radicalism to the movements of Bloshevism, Fascism and Nazism in the past. It was contended that it is authoritarian, anti-democratic and anti-secular and cannot be absorbed in the secular Christian world. Because its objective is to establish the authoritarian Islamic state. The United States should, therefore, smother it at its inception.

This picture of total confrontation and non-conciliation between Islam and the West is now being strongly positioned in Washington, D.C. The developments in the Western press before the second Gulf war show clearly how public opinion was being charged to accept any action against Saddam Hussein. Suddenly, Saddam Hussein became the most dangerous man in the world and one of the most important enemies of the United States after the cold war was over. Iraq was portrayed as aiming at controlling all of the Middle East, a portrayal that prepared the way for public acceptance of the war as a strategic necessity.

The resurgence of Islam is an open threat to the Western lifestyle. The ‘green threat’ is more important than any other threat. It is viewed as a cultural threat. The ‘green threat’ is seen as a cancer that destroys Western values. Tehran is considered the centre of ideological and physical terrorism and military expansion. Islam is replacing communism. Islam and Muslims both became “Fundamental Fear” and to fight against this new threat several strategies were developed. The main being launching war against Islam through media. In this campaign, the print media is playing a major role. Academicians are fully participating in this “Holy War” against ‘major threat’ of the world. Themes such as the clash of civilization were put forward. Here are some examples of this propaganda. Huntington writes: “Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise. The relations between Islam and Christianity, both Orthodox and Western, have often been stormy….. At times, peaceful coexistence has prevailed; more often the relation has been one of intense rivalry and of varying degrees of hot war.”

“For almost a thousand years,” Bernard Lewis observes, “from the first Moorish landing in Spain to the second Turkish siege of Vienna, Europe was under constant threat from Islam.”

Huntington, therefore, concludes that Islam is the only civilization which has put the survival of the West in doubt, and it has done that at least twice. Huntington further contends that the underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. “It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.” It is therefore suggested by Huntington that ‘the future of the United States and of the West depends upon Americans reaffirming their commitment to Western civilization. Domestically this means rejecting the divisive siren calls of multiculturalism. Internationally it means rejecting the elusive and illusory calls to identify the United States with Asia.’ Furthermore, if, Huntington adds, “North America and Europe renew their moral life, build on their cultural commonality, and develop close forms of economic and political integration to supplement their security collaboration in NATO, they could generate a third Euro-American phase of Western economic affluence and political influence. Meaningful political and military [emphasis is added by this author to indicate towards joint war against terrorism] integration would in some measure counter the relative decline in the West’s share of the world’s people, economic product, and military capabilities and revive the power of the West in the eyes of the leaders of other civilizations. [emphasis mine] Whether the West comes together politically and economically, however, depends overwhelmingly on whether the United States reaffirms its identity as a Western nation and defines its global role as the leader of Western civilization.”

It is also suggested that it is the principal responsibility of Western leaders to preserve, protect and renew the unique qualities of Western civilization. As the most powerful Western country it is the sole responsibility of United States of America. To preserve Western civilization in the face of the declining Western power, Huntington has suggested various strategies. Two of them are more relevant here. 1] To restrain the development of the conventional and unconventional military power of Islamic and Sinic countries; 2] To maintain Western technological and military superiority over other civilizations.

Several officials including US Secretary of State visited several Muslim countries in order to draw the red line that Islamic resurgence should not cross. Iran and Sudan were demanded that they should stop their export of revolution and terrorism. Whereas Washington “welcomed the present Algerian government’s iron-fist policies towards the Islamic resurgence and its suspension of the election. The notion that Islamists or fundamentalists should be stopped somewhere and not allowed to spread is becoming stronger and stronger.”

What is important here is to take the note of the view that any Islam be it fundamentalist, reformist or even traditionalist all are discredited. Anything Islamic is a threat. In order to convince people around the world of the real danger of Islamic resurgence, the United States has adopted several strategies. Even before the 11th September attack they have been trying to propagate the notion of the existence of an international network of Islamic fundamentalism which is now called al-Qaida network. Western strategists and policymakers portrayed Iran as the fountain of international Islamic resurgence and the source of and support for all Islamic groups. Iran was pictured in the West, especially in the United States, as leading an Islamic alliance that aims at destabilising the pro-Western regimes in the Muslim world. Furthermore, what added to this dimension is the American propaganda that Iran is developing its nuclear capabilities in order to control many important areas in the World.

In the same way Sudan was also blamed for its Islamic resurgence. It was demanded by the United States that Sudan should reduce and finally remove Hasan al-Turabi’s influence and informal power. Otherwise, Sudan will be isolated and put on the state terrorist list. Since the removal of Hasan al-Turabi we are not hearing anything about Sudan. American focus is now only on Iran. One of the fundamental reasons of the blind support of America to Israel is the assumption that Israel can play an important strategic role by way of becoming the only power that can halt the ‘green threat’ from expanding. This assumption helps both America and Israel for repressing Islamic resurgence. Now they shifted the ‘focus of the strategic danger from communism to Islam. Israel maintains its strategic value in the Western world. It successfully argues that it serves Western interests, whereas ‘the Islamic movements – along with Islam – are new world threats that must be contained once and for all’.

Zionism is now using Islam as the new ideology threatening the West, and its culture and orders. Islamic resurgence and ‘political’ Islam are, therefore, always highlighted as ‘the danger’ for whole world. The slogan of the green threat is fully used for maintaining the political hegemony of America. The authoritarian and despotic regimes in the Muslim world are fully supported by America. These regimes ‘do not serve the ideological, political or economic interests of their peoples but those of the dominant world powers’. Whereas peoples are suffering from unending oppression, injustice, poverty, and illiteracy. All these are neglected by the so-called champion of human rights and democracy. In the eyes of America Muslims do not deserve either human rights or democracy.

American and Western Countries Foreign Policy Towards Islam

With this negative perception of Islam and the Muslim World, the Western countries generally and America particularly developed such a policy which is neither appreciated by Muslims nor is it in the interest of America and the West. Before we proceed further, we should have a look on the observation of Robert Fernea, an expert from the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He says, “If the relationship between the Western world and the Arab world is not to worsen, a major change must take place in the way contemporary Islamic discourse is understood in Europe and the United States.”

He further adds, “What the Western media have failed to communicate, what scholars are only beginning to address, is the way in which Islamic discourse is articulating opinions about both internal and external problems in a new language, a language that struggles to free itself from the contamination of Western political concepts, which are regarded by many as the symbolic residue of colonial domination.”

The West and America have always adopted a double standard in their foreign policy. Robert Fernea notes, “From a Muslim viewpoint, the rape of Muslim women by Christians in Bosnia, military sanctions against Iraq, the expulsion of Palestinians by Israelis, and the destruction of mosques and burning of Muslim neighbourhoods in India are all seen as a single pattern of persecution, tangible reasons for distrusting the non-Muslim world.”

He cautions the West, “A sense of rage and despair is moving across North Africa and the Middle East, feelings of resentment so great that the most outrageous acts against foreign and local Christians, which only a small minority of persons would actually commit, may find passive support among the many educated men and women. Combined with economic hardships, inflation, unemployment and deteriorating standards of living, the threat to internal stability and the peaceful resolution of differences becomes increasingly problematic in many countries.”

In a recent article, even Huntington observes the same: “…throughout the Muslim world, and particularly among Arabs, there exists a great sense of grievance, resentment, envy and hostility toward the West and its wealth, power and culture. This is in part a result of Western imperialism and domination of the Muslim world for much of the 20th century. It is also in part the result of particular Western policies, including American action against Iraq since 1991 and the continuing close relationship between the United States and Israel. It is, more broadly, a reaction of Muslim peoples to their own corrupt, ineffective and repressive governments and the Western governments they see supporting those regimes. He, therefore, suggests that ‘the resentment and hostility of Muslims toward the West could be reduced by changes in U.S. policies toward Israel.’

In spite of this suggestion, America in recent days used Veto power against a resolution adopted by the Security Council against terrorist acts of Israel in Palestine. Majority of Muslims understand that in all these negative developments America and the West are partners along with the present rulers. All this underdevelopment is caused due to American and Western policies. They want to keep the Muslim world undeveloped. They resist any genuine democratic movement which is supported by majority Muslims. For example, many Muslims would argue, in the case of Iran and Algeria that America and the West did not support popular democratic movement. In Algeria the popular movement of democracy was suppressed. In the same way when the whole Muslim world stood against Salman Rushdie, the sentiments of Muslims were completely ignored. When Babari Mosque was demolished in India it was considered an internal matter. After the demolition of mosque when Muslim masses launched a popular peaceful movement, they were killed and arrested. Nobody condemned this act of sheer terrorism. When the Russian Army killed thousand of Muslims in Chechnya, the UN did not take any action against Russia. For years all Muslims in the Muslim world without any exception have been demanding separate Palestinian state but it is not supported by the Secretary General of the UNO. When George W. Bush declared his support for Palestinian state after the 11 September attack, immediately it was supported by Kofi Annan.

All this dualistic and destructive policies of the Western countries have created frustration among certain people in the Muslim world. Consequently, there emerged violent and terrorist groups in the Muslim world. These groups were not separated from freedom and resistance movements. All the Muslim leaders and scholars repeatedly condemned and openly discouraged this kind of negative terrorist and violent activities. Alas to the Machiavellian politics and Western interests that all these concerns of the Muslim leaders and scholars were not appreciated; instead they were branded as fundamentalists and their forward march were restricted and checked. These isolated and self-proclaimed terrorist groups received so much coverage in the Western media that they were called Islamic terrorists and terrorism and Islam were considered integral to one another. Ninety-eight per cent Muslims’ cry was neither heard by these Western masters of the world nor got any sympathetic consideration.

There are several groups in the world even in America, who are involved in terrorist activities, they were not called Christian or Hindu terrorists. After the 11 September attacked thousands of Muslims have been arrested and put in jail in America, Britain and in many European countries without any trial. Amnesty International has recently complained that in America these arrested people are tortured. Muslims around the world are focused as though all of them are terrorists. More than 1.2 billion Muslims did not approve of the US attack on Afghanistan and Iraq. Most of them protested peacefully against it. George W. Bush himself expressed his wonder and admitted that he was not aware of the fact that most of Muslims do not like America. But Foreign Secretary of State Powell expressed his satisfaction that the situation is under control.

Heads of the governments in the Muslim world warn that if American air strikes continue in Afghanistan in the Holy month of Ramadan Muslim masses will protest and this situation will be out of control. But all these suggestions and warnings were put aside in a dustbin. Based on this, Muslims think that intentionally the Western governments want that there should be unrest in the Muslim world so that they can exercise their influence over the governments.

But all the blame is put on Muslims themselves. Huntington in his recent article on terrorism has presented the Muslim world as a major source of wars and terrorism. His caption of article, “The Age of Muslim Wars” sufficiently demonstrate Western bias against Muslims. In order to explain his point of view, he observes: “Contemporary global politics is the age of Muslim wars. Muslims fight each other and fight non-Muslims far more often than do peoples of other civilizations. Muslim wars have replaced the cold war as the principal form of international conflict. These wars include wars of terrorism, guerrilla wars, civil wars and interstate conflicts. These instances of Muslim violence could congeal into one major clash of civilizations between Islam and the West or between Islam and the Rest.”

He further says that “the ‘new war’ that began September 11, is thus not so new. It is a continuation and escalation of previous patterns of violence involving Muslims”. One of the major reasons of this violent tendency among Muslims is caused, as Huntington puts it, by the emergence of the resurgence of Islam. He acknowledges the constructive role of Islamic resurgence but still he feels that it is the Islamic resurgence that has also spawned a small number of extremists who supply the recruits for terrorism and guerrilla wars against non-Muslims.