Muslims, Islam, West and the rest – I

Twelve years since the invasion of Afghanistan and 10 years since the invasion of Iraq, a decade after the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, 7 years since the execution of Saddam Hussain, two years since the killing of Osama bin Laden, numerous “renditions” and waterboardings later, the American government and public at large and, to a lesser extent, other governments and people in the West, are living on edge, not knowing when and where the next attack will occur.

 (Daily Times, 14 August 2013)

(Note from author: The para below highlighted in bold was excised by the editor in the version published in the Daily Times.)

A false spectre is haunting the West, the spectre of Global Jihad.  The total number of westerners killed so far from this so-called “Jihad” has not reached five thousand, a majority of them in one incident only, namely, 9/11.  On the other hand, the total number of Muslims directly killed in “Anti-Jihad” – western invasion of or intervention in Muslim countries in the name of “war on terror” – now runs in the hundreds of thousands.

Of course, the historical significance of events is never measured by the number of people killed. Some events impact more than others, such has always been the case.  Surely, 9/11 will remain etched in the world’s collective memory for a very long time.  So will, to a lesser extent, the Bali bombings (2002), Madrid train bombings (2004), London’s 7/7 (2005), Mumbai’s 26/11 (2008), the recent senseless bombing of the Boston Marathon and the brutal murder of Lee Rigby in London.

Western governments seem powerless to stop such attacks, despite unprecedented border controls, security checks, sweeping surveillance and curtailment of civil liberties of their own citizens.  While Guantanamo, where 47 inmates are destined to stay locked up for life without facing a court, continues to be a stain on the country which considers itself a beacon of freedom and justice, we now learn that the US has been collecting phone and internet data of Americans, which would have been unthinkable before 9/11.

In the latest scare, the United States has officially closed its embassies in 19 North African and Middle Eastern countries.  Twelve years since the invasion of Afghanistan and 10 years since the invasion of Iraq, a decade after the capture of Al Qaeda’s chief of operations Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, 7 years since the execution of Saddam Hussain, two years since the killing of Osama bin Laden, numerous “renditions” and waterboardings later, the American government and public at large and, to a lesser extent, other governments and people in the West, are living on edge, not knowing when and where the next attack will occur. 

Many now see a “Jihadi” concealed in every face with a beard, hiding behind every burqa, camouflaged in every person named Muhammad or Ali and lurking in every public place. Unless sanity returns, one may live to see mob violence against perfectly fine, harmless people just because they look or sound like a Muslim.

Surely, one cannot talk rationally to people who are prepared to butcher unsuspecting runners or passers-by and blow themselves up with intent to kill others for any reason whatsoever.  One sends such people to jail or to the gallows. But, beyond that, one hopes that governments and leaders know better and they draw from knowledge and experience. In their pursuit of being seen to be doing something, Western governments ought not to forget what it is that they are doing. In the heat of the chase, they should not forget what it is that they are chasing.   

It should be clear by now that this terrible “War on Terror” – this “Anti-Jihad”, if I may – is embroiling the world in a vicious cycle of terror and counter-terror, of misperceptions, hatred and more terror. Anti-Jihad creates more Jihadis than it eliminates. It is not making the world more safe, but dangerously unsafe.

Owing to skewed reporting, false propaganda, rampant stereotyping, malicious interpretation of events, quoting Quran out of historical context, citing Quranic passages which only a handful of Muslims take literally and even fewer act upon, and highlighting fatwas to which hardly any Muslims pay any heed at all, many people in the West now view Muslims as a dangerous global threat and revile Islam as a source of evil.

It will help to get a historical perspective on this “Jihad” and “Islamic terrorism”.  But first, a few words about non-Muslim terrorism.  Timothy McVeigh, a white American Gulf War veteran, blew up a government building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people and injuring over 680, to make the point that the US government is “evil”. 

Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 fellow Norwegians to punish the ruling Labour Party for the influx of Muslims.  Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards shot her dead in 1984 to avenge the “desecration” of their holy shrine in Amritsar.  And Hindu mobs burned alive, slashed and decapitated 3,000 Sikhs in revenge attacks in Delhi alone. Sikh militants blew up an airplane over the Atlantic in 1985, killing 329 passengers.  Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh was killed by a Sikh suicide bomber in 1995.

Sri Lanka’s LTTE carried out at least 378 suicide attacks between 1987 and 2008.  Among others, they killed approximately 8,000 fellow Tamils accusing them of being traitors and expelled both Sinhalese Buddhists and Tamil Muslims from areas under their control.  They may not have employed religious terminology, but their goal was a state for the Hindu Tamil people of northern and eastern Sri Lanka. LTTE’s victims included an Indian prime minister and a Sri Lankan president, who were killed by female Tamil suicide bombers in 1991 and 1993, respectively.

And, while we are at it, why leave out Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot who, between them, and within the last hundred years only, killed perhaps many scores of millions of people in the name of racial purity or a “socialist paradise”?  Their victims’ only crime was to belong to the wrong race or religion or to the upper socio-economic classes.

Or the Serb massacre at Srebrenica in 1995, where 7,000 Muslims were executed in cold blood in one day for their religious affiliation.  Or the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, when at least half a million Tutsis were massacred over one hundred days by Hutu mobs because of their ethnicity.

The list is long. The further we go back in time, the longer and more grisly it gets.  No nation can escape culpability or claim the high moral ground.

(To be continued)

 By Razi Azmi

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7 Responses to Muslims, Islam, West and the rest – I

  1. Nadeem says:

    Azmi saheb your article confirms that terrorism has been practiced by right-wing and left-wing political parties, nationalistic groups, religious groups, revolutionaries, and ruling governments. In every act of terrorism the victims are always innocent people. Eagerly waiting for your next article.

  2. Javed Agha says:

    Sometimes, I really wonder that in the west there are so many think tanks, intelligent people, but lack simple common sense as they cannot explain whom are they chasing. I discuss with my western friends about war on terror; they have no concrete answer. At times no clue what are they doing and what are they trying to achieve. Majority of common people, just blame the government and say we do not know what is happening. They are lost.
    Articles like this one perhaps may make them aware of what is going on and whom are they pursuing.

  3. Carlo says:

    I like the response of Javed Agha. I live in the west, and I too sometimes wonder why western governments “cannot explain whom are they chasing.” Part of the answer must lie in democracy itself, in that western politicians compete to demonstrate that they are doing more than their rivals to stamp out terror. But of course terror cannot be “stamped out.” Another part of the answer lies in capitalism, in that some influential corporations profit from this supposed war on terror. Yet another part of the answer lies in the ignorance of the majority of people in the west – those who do not inhabit the think tanks he mentions. And this of course is due in part of the news media.
    So western governments probably could explain. But it seems they don’t want to. For my own part I would be very much happier if this stamping were stopped. I say this not only because it is deeply embarrassing to be a citizen of a nation that stamps so much, all the time it seems, but also because I am required to pay taxes to support all this stamping.

    • Razi Azmi says:

      You are spot on, Carlo. In democracies, governments pander to people. The more democratic, the worse it gets. Then the mass media gets in, competing for ratings (and $$$) with breaking news, breaking records with hysterical reporting. Did you hear of the young Australian woman, a candidate for election, who said she was opposed to immigration from the country called Islam, to Australia where only 2% of the people eat haram food! Fortunately, her campaign was dead in 24 hours.

  4. Zulfiqar Ali says:

    Azmi sahib has rightly raised this burning issue of the day in its true light. Yes, governments and societies all over including the powerful western democracies must resolve to put an end to this vicious cycle of terrorism and counter-terrorism. Human beings living in all societies deserve a peaceful and tolerant global environment to flourish. The sooner this wisdom dawns on the leadership of world powers, the better.

  5. Andy says:

    Let us see, where did the terrorism started first. Julius Nayarere and Desmond Tutu (himself a Christian bishop) told on many occasions that – “Arab and Anglo (white man) came to Africa with a book in hand. Asked us the natives to close our eyes for the prayer which he read from the book. When he finished his mumbo-jumbo in alien tongue, we had the book and he had all the land and its resources. Our dear ones were being sent to distant slave bazars of Baghadad, Istanbol and Americas.”

    The alien books might ave different colors red (Das-Capita), Koran, Bible or even so called democratic constitution which divides people. The first such division of native people by aliens was done by Romans in 4th century using the name of Jesus, whom they had persecuted for teaching individualized spirituality which became threat to Roman tax collection. Native spirituality was subverted and a new book was created. The book asked the new convert whom were promised the prestige in court, material wealth and also seat in heaven, to disown their own ancestors, hate their own kin as despicable unbeliever, pagan etc. these new converts then destroyed the native of Europe and also converted to raise more cannon fodder for Roman imperialism.

    In seventh century this Roman technique was perfected and made more deadly. Barbaric Bedouins were promised by the Bedouini book than what earlier Roman book did. In 40 years no more civilized Zoroastrian or native spirituality left in Persia, southern Iraq, Kurdisthan and among Assyrian of Syria or Coptic Egypt. Fanatic brutes captured thrones of distant lands. Made them lose their own language, culture, connection to their ancestors. They have become rootless. Pakistan and Afghanistan is also today inhabited by rootless people. Rootless confused people can be easily programmed for terrorism. Communism also tried the same thing of makinf people rootless brutes.

  6. nj says:

    Dear Mr. Azmi

    I reproduce my comments : and my apologies follow the comments

    Your Travelogue was good. However it seems to have embittered you instead of broadaning your view.

    If By Indians you mean “Hindus”, we have, i think more Nobel prizes as Indians and as Citizens of Other nations than the Muslims.

    We should be comparing with our betters, and that means that we are laggards.
    And we are and have no problems in admitting that, without dragging Muslims, Polynasians, Africans etc into the matter..

    Must be Galling for you to compare Muslims with Hindus, ( 10 Hindus= 1 Muslim etc).

    You have not compared Muslims with the “Children of Apes and Pigs”, the Jews, who beat the Muslims hands down. It seems that the Apes and Pigs must be more intelligent than you know, whom?

    It seems that all educated Muslims are Ideologues and Defenders for the Terrorists and are in Disguise, just waiting for the right opportunity for exposing themselves.

    Islam being perfect, cannot stand comparisons and hence there is no question of comparison,self appraisal, criticism and improvement of any sort.

    And by blaming others for your shortcomings you have just proved it.

    Dear Mr. Razi,

    Apologies for my comments.
    I guess we are all stressed out.
    I did not want to be harsh.
    But i wish this Terrorism is because of Palestine and Kashmir thing ends.
    We were also booted out of our homeland, I wonder why we did we not become terrorists?
    If terrorism is the right response, may be we are loosers.
    Anyway all the best.

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