Islam and the West

  • From: "" <muslim_affairs@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 17:21:07 +0000 (GMT)

In the months following the terrorist attacks of
September 2001, it was politically taboo to say that
the United States had in some way brought these
attacks upon itself. Television talk show hosts and
print journalists lost their jobs for suggesting such
a thing. 

Yet anyone with any serious knowledge of the American
relationship in recent years with the Muslim Middle
East knows that it is true, even if it is only part of
the truth. 

The Israel-Palestine conflict is a self-evident source
of the alienation of Arab Muslims from the United
States since 1948, and particularly since 1967, when
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. 

The essential cause for conflict, however, is one that
commentators are trying to get at when they talk about
the "crisis of modernization" in the Islamic world. It
is the incompatibility of values between Islamic
society and the modern West. The power and material
dynamism of the West seem inseparable from a value
system that demands that Muslims give up their moral

The British conservative writer Roger Scruton asked in
a recent book why we should blame Islam for trying to
reject "western technology, western institutions,
western conceptions of religious freedom" when all of
these "involve a rejection of the idea on which Islam
is founded - the idea of God's immutable will,
revealed once and for all to his prophet, in the form
of an unbreachable and unchanging code of law." 

Why indeed? The West takes for granted that the
existing religious assumptions of Islamic society have
to he overturned, not only because they don't suit the
West but because the West believes that they are
unsuitable for the Muslims themselves, 

There is constant Western pressure on Islamic
governments to conform to Western conceptions of human
rights and promote free and critical religious and
political thought. 

In short, they are to become us. 

We in the West are inclined to think that everybody
must eventually become like us. Standard American
discussion of American destiny and the "end of
history" takes for granted an eventual benevolent
Americanization of global society. To the orthodox
Muslim that means apostasy, immorality and God's

Westernization, to Westerners, means liberation.
Americans do not conceive of themselves as inheritors
of a Western legacy of Promethean violence. For people
in other societies, Westernization frequently means
destruction, social and moral crisis, with individuals
cast adrift in a destructured and literally
demoralized world. 

Cultural and political disorientation, violent
resistance to the intruder and attempts to recapture a
lost golden age are natural reactions to this. We see
all of this today. 

The violence of the shock is intensified when the
foreigner establishes military bases and tries to
shape an Islamic country's policies. This has been
Pentagon policy during the past decade, with regional
commanders for all of the world's major geographical
zones and expansion of the U.S. worldwide base system.

The New York Times a few days ago wrote about the
rising importance of ultraconservative or radical
Islam in Saudi Arabia, and acknowledged that its
growing influence has been directly connected to the
presence of American troops in that country since

Originally the bases were temporary, needed for the
11.5. campaign to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait. It
was a moment when the Saudis believed they needed
protection from Iraq. 

However, when the Gulf War was over the United States
rashly pressed a reluctant Saudi monarchy to allow
permanent American bases. The Sept, 11 attacks,
carried out mainly by Saudis, avowedly were revenge
for the contamination" of the Islamic Holy Places by
those bases. 

Relations between Washington and the Saudi monarchy
today are so strained that the United States will
probably be denied use of the bases for an attack on

Almost certainly this will be so if there is no United
Nations mandate for the attack. 

The United States now has extended its base in Kuwait
to nearly a third of that state's territory. There are
new bases in the other Gulf monarchies. 

The Afghanistan intervention has left American bases
in that country, and in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The
war against terror has expanded American troop
presence in Georgia and the Muslim southern
Philippines. A long military occupation of Iraq is
envisioned by Washington. 

Every base conveys the contamination of "infidel"
modernization, as well as the oppressive suggestion of
foreign military occupation. 

Washington remorselessly expands its military presence
in the Islamic world in order to fight the
anti-American terrorism that its presence causes. No
one in the government seems to see a contradiction in

Source:  IHT

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