Islam: the most recent scapegoat
By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 1, 2007, former secretary of State Brzezinski damned the Bush Regimeâ€™s war in Iraq as â€œa historic, strategic, and moral calamityâ€ â€œdriven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris.â€ He condemned the war for â€œintensifying regional instabilityâ€ and for â€œundermining Americaâ€™s global legitimacy.â€
Brzezinski also told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that â€œthe final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam.â€ Brzezinski predicted â€œsome provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US, blamed on Iran; culminating in a â€˜defensiveâ€™ U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.â€
Brzezinski concluded his testimony with the statement that it is â€œtime for the Congress to assert itself.â€
These words of a sane intellect echo a view shared by many billions all over the world. Independent analysts and objective political experts believe the Bush Administration is directing the might of America against Islam under the pretext of terrorism. While some of its policies are motivated by the agenda set by neo-cons, the bulk of the strategy is rooted in theology developed by right-wing Christian evangelists to expedite the second coming of Jesus (as).
There are objective reasons to believe that the war on terrorism is being used as an attempt to undermine Islam. Since September 11, more than 37,000 statements, articles and speeches have been recorded blaming Islam for the upheaval and chaos that prevail in the Middle East and other parts of world. Among those who have issued such statements or written anti-Islam articles are many public officials, politicians, intellectuals and religious leaders. Even though Muslims all over the world have unequivocally stated their stance against terrorism and condemned acts of violence that target innocent civilians, the propaganda against Islam has not stopped.
Violence is neither confined to Muslim countries nor monopolized by groups such as al Qaeda or Iraqi insurgents. In the worldâ€™s two biggest democracies, India and the USA, violence results in more than 30,000 deaths every year. Yet, there is hardly anyone who in his or her right mind blames democracy or constitutionally guaranteed freedoms for this loss of life. Yet, there are thousands of so called experts who blame Islam for every act of violence that is attributed to Muslims.
This situation is of serious concern to Muslims in general and to Muslim Americans in particular, and it requires serious research and discussion among those who believe in dialog and understanding between civilizations. In their analysis of the situation, Muslims must avoid the mistakes that many scholars such as Samuel Huntington have made in drawing quick and unfounded conclusions leading to tbe belief that the final stage of conflict between the West and Islam is ready to take off.
As Muslims, we must understand that those who are equating Islam with terror and violence belong to a certain socio-political and theological groups. They donâ€™t represent all of western civilization. They donâ€™t speak on behalf of all Christians or Jews, or on behalf of all white, black, or hispanic people. Instead they have a world view that reflects their motives to maximize either financial, political, or religious interests.
They believe in resolving their differences with others through physical conflict. The neo-cons believe in unilateralism, hidden objectives, and the excessive use of force against those who challenge their world-view.
Right-wing Christian evangelists believe in defining those who do not share their theology as anti-Christs and political Zionists insist on defining the world as adhering to two poles: either â€œpro-Israelâ€ or â€œanti-semitic.â€ In the US, they represent less than 30% of the population. However, due to their disproportionate presence in the Bush Administration and in the media and academic institutions, they have succeeded in projecting their specific and often divergent points of view as consensual national opinion.
The media has played a dominant role in making this perspective the national agenda. Why? Brzezinski explained it brilliantly when he said that the media had become a propaganda machine for the Bush administration.
Thus, Muslims must make a distinction between special interest groups and others. Not every westerner sympathizes with the agenda of special interest groups.
Some westerners are objective and balanced, others neutral, and many others blame these groups for creating a world full of chaos and confusion. Through dialogue and discussions with these segments of American and European societies, Muslims must counter the anti-Islam tirade. The very fact that over 99.9% of the Muslim population all over the world has rejected violence as a means of organized social change is a testimony that Europeans or Westerners are not alone in their commitment to pluralism, human rights and human dignity.
The practice of treating Muslims as suspects and more prone to violence than others must stop. The fight against bigotry, intolerance and hatred is a common fight of people belonging to different faiths and ethnicities. This fight must not be allowed to be turned into an anti-Islam war or anti-Muslim crusade. The time has come when Muslim must assert their concerns about the attempts of special groups to use Islam as a scapegoat to promote their hegemonic agenda.