"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." (Karl Popper)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Calling a spade a spade

Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al- Arabiya news channel, had an article recently in the pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. Al-Rashed is the man who, two years ago, penned a sentence containing the kernel of one of the most difficult problems facing Europe today: "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims." If this is true, how do we engage with our growing Muslim minorities?

Well, democratic European minds would likely be more at ease, if they could know that most of their Muslim neighbours cleaved to the sort of "good authority" analysis al-Rashed's more recent article puts forward. A while president Bush described America (and the free world) as at war with "Islamofascism". In the Islamic Middle East, some sought to describe the statement, in the same way as some wilfully distort every comment by Western leaders on this subject, as suggesting a war with Islam per se. There is of course no such war, and the U.S. president certainly hasn't declared one. What Bush in fact had in mind, although one can quibble about the usefulness of his terminology, is correct. Al-Rashed takes up the point:
"When US President George W. Bush described those who plotted to kill thousands of passengers in ten airliners as Muslim fascists, protests from a number of Islamic societies in the west and the east were voiced against this description. What is wrong with using a bad adjective to describe a terrorist as long as he is willing to personally call himself an Islamist; declares his stance, schemes, and aims; while his supporters publicly call for killing of those whom they consider infidels, or disagree with them religiously or politically?"
"Bush did not say that the Muslims were fascists; he said that the Muslim fascists were the problem, i.e. he distinguished between an extremist group and the general innocent peaceful Muslims. Yes, fascism is a word that has bad connotations, and is used here to approximate the meaning to the listeners. The westerners know that fascism is an extremist nationalist movement, which emerged from the European society, and was responsible for destructive wars caused by its premises, which are based on discrimination, racism and hatred. This approximation is correct when you apply it to the literature of the Islamic extremists. The same as the Europeans fought fascism and the fascists by word and by gunpowder, the world will fight the extremist Islamists. This is what the good Muslims, who are at the forefront of those hunting down Al-Qaeda, do; the same as the Muslim who exposed the latest conspiracy to hijack the airliners,
when he hastened to inform the security authorities when he suspected what was happening in the neighborhood. This is why I do not understand what those people - who want to protect reputation and image from the westerners - want to call the Muslim extremists who resort to violence? Do they want to call them Khawarij (The earliest Islamic sect, which traces its beginning to a religious-political controversy over the Caliphate)? The problem is that no one (in the west) understands its historical meaning. Do they call them by their names only, such as Osama, Ayman, Muhammad, and Zamani? Do they call them according to the sarcastic Egyptian way: "people who should remain nameless?""
"At the end, describing rotten apples as rotten does not make the people hate eating good apples. The same applies to the Muslims; there are one billion Muslims in the world, and the world has no option other than dealing with them, and hunting down the evil minority among them. We have wasted a long time since the seventies in being preoccupied with protesting against nomenclatures and images. This is despite the fact that these people hijack civilian airliners, kill people in restaurants, and justify their actions by using pan-Arab or Islamic descriptions. To describe a Muslim as terrorist is natural if he is a terrorist, the same as you do with a Colombian drug smuggler, an Italian Mafioso, a Russian butcher, a British Nazi, or a US right-wing extremist."


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