Currents, News

Islamophobia and the crusade

After the recent Charlie Hebdo shooting in France, there is a growing trend of Islamophobia prevalent in the West coupled with the post 9/11 world that already had witnessed a discernible change in the West’s perception of the Muslims’ culture, identity, ethnicity, ideology; perceived as an alien to and incompatible with self-defined western culture by the people with anti-Islamic prejudice.

Generally, the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim elements do not want Islam to flourish in their countries neither in the foreign lands. In the West, they believe that if Muslims have every right to practice Islam then soon the time will come they would gain access to and control of the state administration entail in turn the control over the world. Therefore to grapple with the situation, the West and its allies formulated yet attractive policy of the “war on terror” to curb and crumble the Muslims throughout the World in general and in the US and the UK in particular. Before touching the war on terror policy, I would like to tread briefly in the history of Christian hostility against the Islam.

The prejudiced Christians and the Jews had a long legacy of antagonism with the Muslims right from the ‘emergence’ of Islam in the Arab world. Generally, at two fronts the West predicament with the Muslims: first, of course, at the theological level and second at the political level. For later, Islam had made a successful era of a great civilization into the Europe (Spain) which housed a number of world renowned educational centre like Qurtuba (Cordoba), Garnata (Granada) to name but a few; rather Islam received a warm welcome by the inhabitants but, regretfully, Muslims could not remain there due to their internal disunity on the one hand and Christians’ onslaught against the Islam on the other hand. The Christian Europe did not stop here; when Islam was progressing near the walls of the then great empire, the Byzantine Empire, whole of the Christian Europe stand against to and mustered one of the largest military expeditions the world had ever seen in what is known as Crusade (Christianity’s war on Islam).

While launching the Crusade, the Christian popes and cardinals alleged to and fabricated epics depicting the Muslim wrath against the Christianity, although that was a long way from the truth. What they feared, in fact, was that their authority and monopoly of the then world’s political, religious, and economic domains were at stake, replacing by the Muslims. Thus, infuriated with the Muslim success, Christians vociferously mesmerized hatred against them. With the passage of time, Christian Europe committed to beat Muslims in every sphere of life.

Coming back what we see the contemporary Western world is doing through their “war on terror” policy with the rest of the world particularly against the Muslims, is not a new born concept to be surprised with; although in content and form, but in motive it shared the concept of the Crusade: to beat the Muslim world.

War on terror, in the words of the Canadian scholar, Prof. Michael Keefer, is “a criminal fraud designed to frighten Americans and the citizens of its allies into supporting systematic violations of international law” and from its outset is “Islamophobic both in intention and in the wars of aggression” in order to justify it. Although, terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, but what the US and its allies view through is that the roots of terrorism allegedly lie in Islam vis-a-vis so-called Islamic Extremism.

As such, the terror war’s policy makers, scholars, ideologists, and political activists, writes Arun Kundnani in his The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror, have developed two broad approaches—Culturalism and Reformist—to grapple with the sense of “Islamic Extremism”. In Culturalism, extremism is viewed as a result of Islamic culture. Culturalists see Muslim communities as failing to adapt to modernity as a result of their Islamic culture. Because the teachings of Islam are seen as failing to separate it from the political sphere, thus the activism of religious extremism are dangerously introduced into the public sphere. They argue that the war on terror is a battle between Judeo-Christian civilization and Islam’s premodern values.

While as Reformists view extremism as a perversion of Islam’s benign and peaceful message into an anti-modern, totalitarian, political ideology by the twentieth-century ideologues. For them, the Islamic religious texts themselves are not the basis of terrorism. They contend that the war on terror is a battle between Western liberal values and anti-modern political ideology called Islamism. Said, the concept of ideology is at the heart of both the culturalists and reformists.

However, what both approaches neglect is the basic political question, the role of domestic social and political circumstances in shaping how people make sense of the world and then act upon it.

Therefore, through their dominance of the mainstream discussion of terrorism in the US’s and the UK’s political cultures, these two approaches, in effect, conspire to sustain a shared discourse that defines Muslim as a problem; reflected in Bush’s characterization of the war on terror as a “Crusade”.

Resource: Turkey Agenda, May 15, 2015


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