Just like “Antisemitism” is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews, in the blink of a Century that just passed by, we cultivated a newer Culture where it is considered okay for extremists around the World to carry out their hostile agenda and blame it conveniently on a Faith which has been long known for love, peace and humanity – ‘Islam’.
Though “Antisemitism” was the centuries old hatred and has been called “the longest hatred”, it became a ‘European Christian phenomena’ after adoption of Christianity by Europe in 15th century (Baltic Christianization). On the same pattern we now have an egregious trend with a global impact called “Islamophobia”, though no different from hate under antisemitism but only the victims have changed, it applies to ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslims’.
The term ‘Islamophobia’ came into being in early 20th century and it emerged as a neologism in 1970’s, and increased during 80’s and 90’s. There is no doubt that Islamophobia did saw a spike post 9/11 following an impact, like a war against Afghanistan (Taliban) and then further an increase to the next level, after Iraq war. I have been keenly observing the politics in Middle East and its share of aggravating situation for the Muslims around the globe and a concomitant to it being a rise in Islamophobia. I believe that there are three main components to ‘Islamophobia’ and its rise at an alarming rate from past Decade.
These are essentially – ‘Bane’, ‘Bilk’ and ‘Demagoguery’. My only motive is to introduce to the World these components and it may be that most of the people will find these components familiar, as everyone is witness to events through social media, electronic or print media.
1. Bane : This component forms the foundation of Islamophobia. The reason is simple, when people are subjected to worst forms of subjugation and all the misery is inflicted upon them rather than fulfilling the promise that a democratic system will be setup so that the generations to come will see themselves flourishing in a vibrant democracy, there is always going to be the other side to such broken promises and illegitimate occupation. It was ‘bane’ that was witnessed by the Jews in Europe under a cruel Nazi regime which forced them to flee just to save themselves from the misery and torture on basis of antisemitism.
Western forces entered Afghanistan, Iraq, collaborated in Libya and Syria with the so called democratic rebels and this is how it all starts. Today when we go back in time and start comparing these countries pre and post occupation or civil war, we get to know what has western intervention done to these countries. Afghanistan war never destroyed Taliban, it went on. Iraq war gave us extreme form of Al- Qaeda and finally both Al- Qaeda and Al-Nusra teamed up to what is called the monster “ISIS”. We were told that Iraq possessed Weapons OF Mass Destruction and the World was made to believe that Saddam Hussain had intensions that cause a global threat. I hold no consensus over Saddam’s policies or the way he ruled as a dictator in Iraq, but I fail to understand how Saddam, who was one of the close ally in Middle East to the U.S.A suddenly started to appear as a despot to them and; secondly, where did the WMD (Weapons Of Mass Destruction) disappear at the end of war. “Sorry” is too little a word that Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush owe to the civilian people of Afghanistan and Iraq. The point to be observed here is that, where is the promised democracy in Iraq?! Well, at least that could have acted as an emollient to Iraqi’s who lost more than a million of their fellow countrymen. What is left of Iraq, is a torn apart country loaded with sectarianism which divided the country into pieces. Another Middle East country, Libya is an example of how things turn upside down when a foreign power intervenes. Its leader Muammaral Gaddafi, who was coined the, “Mad Dog of Middle East” by the popular Western elites, had somehow managed to provide it’s people the highest standards of living in the Middle East. Now, after the Civil War which finally ended up overthrowing Gaddafi and eventually lead to his death, Libya is in shambles again.
Even the Russian President, Vladimir Putin on his visit to Denmark on 26th April 2011 said and I quote, “Who gave NATO the right to kill Gaddafi?” Putin even went on to say, “Who allowed this to happen? He could have been put on trial no matter whether he was good or a bad leader, when the entire so-called civilized community falls upon a small country with all its might, it destroys the infrastructure created over generations — I don’t know, is that good or not?”
What happened in Syria is though interesting to note, Bashar Al Assad and his father ruled over Syria for a period of 40 years. Imagine a ‘Sunni’ majority country ruled by an Alawite (a Shia sect). There was no rebellion or concept of sectarianism. How it all started is of much concern here. As pre 2003, there used to be Shia-Sunni marriages in Iraq, no sectarianism. Same applied to Syria before ISIS took hold of most of the cities in Syria. What mess was left behind in Iraq teamed up with the so called rebels in Syria to form a gruesome gang of murderers, rapists, fanatics forming the most dreaded and brutal extremist group today called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Western powers collaborated with their closest ally, Saudi Arabia and started funding and supplying arms to rebels and these arms unfortunately, turned out to be in the hands of ISIS.
Now a normal human mind will think why Saudi Arabia joined western powers in supporting the rebels? It is because the intention was about a regime change in Syria as president Assad was close to Iran. This kept Saudi Arabia to be on its toes, as Iran’s regional influence in the Middle East was growing and to turn the tables of this growing power of Iran and this unsettling transformation in their own favor, Saudi Arabia teamed up with the western coalition and supported the rebels. However, this time the coup to remove another Middle East key player was failed by the intervention of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. The scars left for life to the Syrian people and the visuals from Syria that took the on looking World by shock and indeed to a petrifying emotional level, will not fade away easily. So when we talk of ‘Islamophobia’ the “bane” witnessed by people in a conflict which was never by the people and was just based on imperial greed, contributes to growth of terrorism and hence creates a mistrust towards a religion when radicalization takes over faith and the pretext is used to hide under the cover of religion, whereas the religion and majority of its followers denounce such acts of terror and have the least to do with it.
2. ‘Bilk’ : This component is based on theft of wealth, assets and resources. No war is good intentioned ever, there is not a definition of a “good war” versus a “bad war” either. There is a saying, “To the Victor belongs the spoils” and unfortunately, it happened in the above mentioned countries after the regime change or during the war too. In 2011, the Iraqi parliament sent a letter to the UN demanding the return of $17billion in oil money it says was stolen by U.S. institutions in the wake of the 2003 invasion. British parliamentarian and Respect party chief, George Galloway in his testimony before the senate said in his hearing over the “Oil-for-Food Scandal” and it was quoted, “The Oil-for-Food program turned out to be the biggest scandal, he went on saying that, “Senator look at the first 14 months when you were in-charge of Iraq, nearly $8.8 billion of Iraq’s wealth disappeared under your watch. Have a look at the American Corporations that not only stole Iraq’s money but the money of the American tax payer, have a look at the oil that you even didn’t meter while shipping it out of Iraq and selling it, the proceeds of which went who knows where. Look at the $800 million you gave out to the American Military commanders to hang around the country without even counting it or weighing it. ”
When it comes to Syria, Israel is complicit with Washington’s war on Syria, directly aiding ISIS and likeminded terrorist groups, profiting hugely from Daesh smuggled oil. Israel was the main buyer of stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil including Turkey. ISIS sold Iraqi and Syrian oil to Kurdish at a very low price and also the Turkish smuggling networks and mafias, who label it and sell it on as barrels from the Kurdistan regional government. It was then most frequently transported from Turkey to Israel via known or unknown middlemen, well; such is the nature of the deceiving conflict and war on terror, as the western powers refer it to be. On one hand, the western powers along with some Middle East allies may unknowingly/knowingly supply arms to ISIS and thus inadvertently may do business with the monsters and on the other hand accuse Assad regime of human rights violations. Thankfully, it ended though it is not all over but now such practices are microscopic else Syria would have been another Iraq and we don’t even know or may realize what monster would have come out of it.
All the bilk definitely has some dividends to terrorist groups too. Just as in examples above, the wealth stolen from these conflict zones made occupiers rich and the business the occupiers did with terrorist groups, helped them get stronger and manifesting attacks like the Paris bombings which was a possible indicator that ISIS was not short of money, and why would it be; after all, they sold a lot of Syrian and Iraqi oil without metering. On a lighter note, I just got to say here that it strikes my mind when I think of this bilk, the famous lines from the masterpiece ‘God Father 3’, “Finance is a gun, and Politics is when to pull the trigger”. Now it makes clear the case that it is the bilk on whom these extremists survive and thanks for the business they did with the people who claim that they are on war with terror. With the money negotiated with the wrong hands, they plan bombings, mass murders etc. and then it is the religion which is to blame. Does it amount to some fairness? ‘Islamophobia’ would have never existed if modern democracies would have not succumbed to their cupidity.
3. Demagoguery: Demagogues are people who appeal to popular passions. This is the new political trend that is adopted by the civilized country leaders. The pre-election remarks by the now President of US, Donald Trump that spoke of registering all Muslims into a database and banning all Muslims from entering the United States evokes a fraught history in the American political landscape. What people thought began as demagoguery is now shaping the future policies of America to the dismay of the liberals. This demagoguery as perceived by the people practicing the faith, numerous scholars and critics around the World is inadvertently demonizing Muslims and Islam. Whatever the reasons, the consequence is such that the people of faith, the innocent appear to be the perpetrators. Demagoguery drives Islamophobia to an extent no other component can. History is witness to the fact that, the pursuit of political power by some world political figures has been fueled by exploiting and exacerbating the fear of the other in order to gain importance and power.
Condemning the demagogues of the world will not be enough to throw out Islamophobia, but there is a serious need of wide social consensus against this rhetoric which is proving to be a deadly and egregious trend. People of peace around the World should strongly promulgate the idea of forgetting about the things that differentiate cultures, people and religions from one another, and rather; focus on commonalities. In conclusion I would like to quote, Mr. Reza Aslan (An Iranian -American author, public intellectual, religious study scholar), who has expressed it beautifully,” Islam doesn’t promote violence or peace. Islam is just a religion, and like every religion in the world, it depends on what you bring to it. If you’re a violent person, your Islam, your Judaism, your Christianity, your Hinduism is going to be violent”….
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the CEOWORLD magazine.