Tuesday, September 11, 2007

911, Why do they hate us and Islamophobia

Dear Friends, As Salaam Alaikum (Peace be upon you)

Today is the 6th anniversary of 911, a day of tragedy and hurt for the world. Actions perpetrated by the 19 hijackers have resulted in a causal effect of immense proportions for the world.

To those of us who suffered the loss of loved ones on that fateful day, I fervently pray that the Almighty eases our pain over the course of time.

Over the past 6 years, the question 'Why do they hate us' continues to be asked with its attendant racist assumptions of Muslims and Arabs as 'they', all other Americans as 'us' and the projection on Muslims and Arabs of a monolithic hate of 'us'. The right-wing coupling of purported 'Arab/Muslim anti-Americanism' with the supposed radicalism of Islam is a lethal combination in creating the rise of Islamophobia in the USA today.

Muslims and Arabs of the United States are law-abiding citizens; they oppose not only the religious extremism of the 19 hijackers and their cohorts but also the foreign policy extremism of the Bush administration. This is not a unique profile among Americans; it is actually quite mainstream.

Islam as a faith tradition informs the lives of over a billion and a half of this world and their aspirations to goodness and happiness for themselves and their neighbors. Yet it is maligned and assigned charges of innate extremism. From studies by right-wing think tanks to 'moderate' Islam by creating policies for dictators in Muslim countries to enforce to blogs by internet hate-mongers maligning and stifling the work of American Muslims in the civic life of this country, we find an atmosphere of hate and anger brewing against Islam and Muslims.

Understanding the rise of religious extremism in the Muslim world as an unintended consequence of Cold War foreign policy is key to understanding the historical perspective. Extremism can be leveraged anywhere and invoked in any religious tradition. The fact that the CIA and other spook agencies fueled religious extremism in Muslim countries to further national interests is well documented in multiple studies and books released after the events of 911 (see references below). What remains tragic is that this historical perspective is so ill understood.

Beyond Islamophobia in the USA, we have seen the launch of 2 wars and await the potential launch of a third. The war in Iraq, based on lies and driven by geo-political and industrial interests, has resulted in the rise of extremism in that country. Sectarian extremism has risen due to the utter absence of security and the daily lives of Iraqis have been turned upside down. Refugee numbers have grown beyond 3 million and continue to rise everyday. The reconstruction of Iraq is a story of corruption and war profiteering at the hands of global companies such as Halliburton and Blackstone and companies in the Middle East that are their partners. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize winner, co-authored a study out of Harvard University documenting the over $1 trillion the Iraq war has cost the US Treasury and yet their is no practical end in sight to this folly and tragic waste.

A framework of mutual respect and equitable dealings among nations, driven by the populations of each country, can hope to counter this maelstrom that we find ourselves in.

The Qur'an, the revealed word of God for Muslims, suggests the following:

' O people! Behold, We have created you out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of him. Behold, God is all knowing, all aware.'

It is time that a deep cognizance of our infinitely merciful Creator take place front and center to drive our public policies and form the basis of a healing of this world weariness.

Iftekhar Hussain

Reference List:

Good Muslim Bad Muslim: America, The Cold War and the Roots of Terror: By Mahmoud Mamdani
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism: By Robert Pape
Tinderbox: By Stephen Zunes
Blood and Oil: The dangers and consequences of America's growing dependence on imported petroleum: By Michael T. Klare
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century: By Kevin Phillips
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: By John Perkins
On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Consequences of American Conquest and Carnage: By Ward Churchill
Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East by Rashid Khalidi
Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy: By Noam Chomsky
Imperial Hubris: By Michael Scheuer
The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East: By Robert Fisk
War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death: By Norman Solomon
Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam: By Robert Dreyfuss
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America: By Chris Hedges
Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance - by Noam Chomsky
Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire - by Chalmers Johnson
The Case for Islamo-christian Civilization - by Richard W. Bulliet
America's "War on Terrorism" - by Michel Chossudovsky
All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror - by Stephen Kinzer Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 - by Steve Coll
Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq - by Stephen Kinzer
The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America - by Peter Dale Scott
Challenging Christian Zionism - edited by Naim Ateek, Cedar Duaybis and Maurine Tobin