Saturday, March 24, 2007

Muslim support for terror

The myth of Muslim support for terror
Mike Ghouse, March 24, 2007
The issue is not about Muslims V. Christians or Jews, Palestinians V. Israelis or other wise, the issue is simply bad people V. all of us.

Blaming Muslims does no good, and it is downright stupid, it rather aggravates the situation to blame Muslims for the acts of a few. It is like saying Americans are bad people for the inhuman acts of those at Abu-Ghraib.

Throw me in the Jail for the wrongs I do, but do not blame my family, my neighbors, my religion or my nation. By blaming the religion, we are pissing of the people who follow that religion.

Shoot me with a good aim, hoping I am the target but don't shoot blindly and run down Afghanistan, Iraq and the universe. Destroying others for the acts of few have caused the people to be agitated who would otherwise would not have been. We look like maniacs with an open gun and no aim. We need to laser bark
We need compassionate people around to make the world a better place and not revengers.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith and civic issues. He has appeared on the local affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS and FOX and has been written up the news papers. He founded the World Muslim Congress on the belief that we all have to live together and we might as well enjoy living it. He believes if people can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. His articles can be found at , and

The myth of Muslim support for terror

The common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews.
By Kenneth Ballen

WASHINGTON - Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria .

The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland 's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified."

Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia , Pakistan , Bangladesh , and Nigeria . Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are "never justified"; in Pakistan , that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh , 81 percent.

Do these findings mean that Americans are closet terrorist sympathizers?
Hardly. Yet, far too often, Americans and other Westerners seem willing to draw that conclusion about Muslims. Public opinion surveys in the United States and Europe show that nearly half of Westerners associate Islam with violence and Muslims with terrorists. Given the many radicals who commit violence in the name of Islam around the world, that's an understandable polling result.

But these stereotypes, affirmed by simplistic media coverage and many radicals themselves, are not supported by the facts – and they are detrimental to the war on terror. When the West wrongly attributes radical views to all of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, it perpetuates a myth that has the very real effect of marginalizing critical allies in the war on terror.

Indeed, the far-too-frequent stereotyping of Muslims serves only to reinforce the radical appeal of the small minority of Muslims who peddle hatred of the West and others as authentic religious practice.

Terror Free Tomorrow's 20-plus surveys of Muslim countries in the past two years reveal another surprise: Even among the minority who indicated support for terrorist attacks and Osama bin Laden, most overwhelmingly approved of specific American actions in their own countries. For example, 71 percent of bin Laden supporters in Indonesia and 79 percent in Pakistan said they thought more favorably of the United States as a result of American humanitarian assistance in their countries – not exactly the profile of hard-core terrorist sympathizers. For most people, their professed support of terrorism/bin Laden can be more accurately characterized as a kind of "protest vote" against current US foreign policies, not as a deeply held religious conviction or even an inherently anti- American or anti-Western view.

In truth, the common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews. Whether recruits to violent causes join gangs in Los Angeles or terrorist cells in Lahore , the enemy is the violence they exalt.

Our surveys show that not only do Muslims reject terrorism as much if not more than Americans, but even those who are sympathetic to radical ideology can be won over by positive American actions that promote goodwill and offer real hope.

America 's goal, in partnership with Muslim public opinion, should be to defeat terrorists by isolating them from their own societies. The most effective policies to achieve that goal are the ones that build on our common humanity. And we can start by recognizing that Muslims throughout the world want peace as much as Americans do.

• Kenneth Ballen is founder and president of Terror Free Tomorrow, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to finding effective policies that win popular support away from global terrorists.

Manufacturing Islamophobia

By Ram Puniyani
21 February, 2007
A friend's son Murali, a bright engineer, was studying in US. Murali is amongst the commonest of names amongst Hindus. This word Murali stands for flute, the musical instrument of Lord Krishna, which acted as a big lure for Gopikas (daughters of milkman) to fall in love with the Lord. But my friend's son Murali had a different fate. The US security agencies thought this is a name in disguise for a Muslim called Moor Ali, and the rest was the usual harassment meted out to the Muslim youth, resulting in Murali, returning to his home town, swearing at the US security agencies and all else concerned notwithstanding.
Post 9/11 the demonization of Muslims has gone several notches up. As such the demonization of Islam, Islam being presented as the new threat coincided; on one hand with the decline of Soviet states, and on the other with the coming to power of Ayatollah Khomeini, who succeeded in coming to power on the crest of the revolution which threw away the US stooge, Raza Shah Pehlavi. US was making merry with the Shah, who in turn was installed after the overthrow of democratically elected Mossadeq. Incidentally Mosaddeq to the great annoyance of US interests, nationalized Iran oil, and so was overthrow by a coup engineered by US agencies.
The phenomenon overlapped in time to pave the way for US media and other propaganda mechanisms to project 'Islam as the new threat', the earlier threat as per the US was Communism. This propaganda picked up by and by and today, God forbid, if you have a Muslim sounding name or face or any other characteristic, the 'security' hounds will get for themselves enough work to show their prowess. The average person on the street will think twice before shaking hands with you, the lurking fear being that you may be carrying some bomb hidden on your body somewhere.
Immediately after 9/11 2001 a Sikh was murdered in US, as the killer took him to be a Muslim. In many a European countries, the Muslims have faced intense intimidation, which is going up lately. The situation has gone to the extent that even the state governments have to wake up now if they want harmonious sailing of their affairs. Starting from innocuous looking jokes against Muslims, the matters have gone to the extent that a full fledged attempt is on to project Islam as the religion preaching hate and violence and Muslims as the intolerant fanatics. Every other person will tell you as to how Islam preaches to kill the Kafirs, How Jihad is an integral part of Islamic teaching and as to how Jihadis are mere Islamic soldiers. Here in India there is a long list of charges against Muslims, starting from the misconceptions about Muslim Kings breaking temples to humiliate Hindu religion to every Muslim having four wives twenty children to everyterrorist being a Muslim. As such of course, whatever be the underlying cause of these misconceptions, currently there had been enough number of incidents in which Muslims have been involved in such acts, to give a pretext to the political forces benefiting from this, to give bad name to the whole Muslim community.
To add to the problem, here in India, this Islamophobia, and fear of Muslims has come on the top of ongoing RSS project of spreading Hate against Muslims which has been in operation since last more than seven decades. The interesting point is that a numerical majority has been indoctrinated to believe that this minority is a threat to them. The US propaganda and RSS designs match to a great extent. This outfit has been spreading hate against Muslims using the distorted view of history and lopsided presentation of their current social life. This propaganda succeeds as an average person will not exercise her critical faculties at every juncture when seeing the content of what is beamed on the tube of idiot box or what one keeps reading in print over and over again. As such Gobbles did grasp this mechanism to the hilt and could create the phobia against Jews, as a prelude to the genocide launched by his mentor, Adolf Hitler. Even today one is not interested in the historical content of the use of word Jihad or Kafir, or one has nothing to do with the fact that no religious community can be uniform. But this phobia against the minorities has a serious political role to play. It forms the ground on which violence stands. Which in turn ghettoizes the community, intimidates its large chunk and its political rights are taken away despite the formal operation of democracies.
Culture as a disguise for religion; is shown to be at odds with the culture of others. Power stalks in the apparel of religion or culture. While this phobia plays it role in legitimizing the aggression against some countries or the carnage launched against them, it in turn also creates a society with deep fractures along the religious lines. The phobia directed outside also turns inside, to create scare amongst the more powerful sections within the community itself. Most of the retrograde processes are bidirectional. Hate outside creates intimidation inside. Creation of phobia against the outsider, the increase in insecurity within.
Even if we grant that the communities such targeted will become used to a new rhythm of survival under stress and fear, the bigger question is; can democracy survive in such states/ communities? While the political goals and purposes of imperialist powers on one hand and social elite on the other are well served in such an atmosphere, surely the progress of society is the victim on the altar of atmosphere of phobia against others. In this political scenario it is no coincidence that the sectarian understanding of communities thrives. One such sectarian nationalism was propounded by RSS chief, Golwalkar (We, or our Nation hood defined), where he asserts that Indians are basically Hindus, so others have not to be given equal citizenship. This proposition put forward in 1938, has made a strong social and political impact during last two decades. On similar lines, one does not know if there is an inspirational connection, the current US ideologue Samuel Huntington, in 'Who are we?' argues that US is essentially Anglo Saxon and others are a threat to the American ethos. While Golwalkar is the local sectarian ideologue Huntington is currently playing the similar divisive tunes at global level. The similarity between these two ideologues is striking on one hand and the coincidence of the latter coming precisely in the decades of nineties with Hindutva, Gowalkars ideology, picking up nineties, is not just coincidental.
The maters have gone too far. The targeted hate against the Muslims, the construction of phobia against Islam has crossed the threshold. While it served the US to attack many a countries for the sake of oil wealth, while it has helped the Hindu right to appropriate the social privileges, at the same time it has played and more so now than anytime before; is playing a counterproductive role to those states/societies and communities themselves. The schism between communities is acting on the nerves of democracies and weakening them as the process of societal development is getting retarded. It surely will have the impact on weaker sections of society and also will affect the economies worldwide. Humane values have taken a back seat during this period. This era of dark sectarianism needs to be overcome as soon as possible. The rise of right wing, rise of religious right at various places is a warning to the democracies and the progressive liberal elements all over the World that if this Islamophobia is not checked, the acts of terrorism will continue. The reality in the World is standing on the head many a times; though it seems currently as if terrorism is due to violence inherent in Islam and Muslims, the fact is that it is the political lust of vested interests that Islam is demonized.
We need to work on intercommunity relations, on spreading the words of harmony and peace, to look at religions as a set of moral values and not just a set of rituals or identities. We need to have the humane spirit prevail over the machinations of the interests of those out to grab the global and local resources for their own selves.

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