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Mr. Havas - Thank You for one of the few clear muslim voices against terror

Reader comment on item: Islamist Turkey vs. Secular Iran?
in response to reader comment: islam and terror

Submitted by Michel C. Zala (Switzerland), Dec 15, 2010 at 12:35

Yes indeed, at first glance, there seems to be no logic to Terror, as you correctly point out that atrocities, such as Mumbai or 9/11 only inflame the peoples of the west against all things muslim, as we can see it here in this forum. However, there is to my opinon a terrifying logic to these actions.

Terrorists like Al Kaeda see their only chance for success in a Holy War between cultures, which is what they try to create. Like anarchists they seek to destabilize, generate chaos and most of all extreme emotions and subsequent conflict. That conflict will then be used for propaganda purposes and recruiting efforts within the muslim world by pointing out how the West villifies all muslims indiscriminately, suppresses them, villifies them, and on the other side they must continuously pour oil into the fire to keep such emotions high.

These attacks rarely have a military or tactical objective, but serve an ideological, emotional need. On that dimension I do see a difference between Islam and Islamism, a religion and an Ideology. Such attacks can also result in a corrosion of our western civil rights and liberties, values and morale, a side effect the terrorists most definitely will gladly accept, as in that case it opens up a recruitment base within western nations, where they then seek to radicalize local muslim minorities.

The danger I see is, how Islamists use Islam as a tool and means to further their agenda, which is why I do believe that Islam must experience some form of reform or re-definitions. The notion of Djihaad as one example should be redefined as clearly non-violent. It is this one element of Islam which causes so much harm in the world, as seemingly every mullah, every imam in any backwater village of the world can call for such a holy war and the followers immediately become martyrs, going straightway to paradise. Somehow your holy book must be rewritten and translated to the 21st century, so such can no longer occur and fundamentalists can no longer pervert the Quran to justify the most atrocious acts. This requires the weight of muslim religious authorities, to speak out and have the courage to promote reform, as it took such people in the Christian world to stand up against the rigid Roman Catholic dogma, to bring about reformation.

>>>I think some muslim people are fighting against imperializm using wrong and disgusting terror methods.all muslims, afghans,phalestein,chechen,─▒rak can struggle against the imperialist powers who are stealing their natural sources or invading their country. but they must do it like a man. they must not kill civilians never. this is against islam>>>

There is to my opinion a thin line between a justified resistence by an oppressed people, as expressed for instance in the guerilla war of the resistance in France against the Nazis, or in fact by the Chechen in Russia and terror, such as suicide bombings in Iraq or 9/11, where in fact mainly civilians die. Every single case you mention deserves specific examination, and is different in origin and nature.

The chechens and many other subcultures in former Sovjetrussia, who simply happen to be muslim, fight to my opinion a struggle for justified independence, whereas for instance the fight in Afghanistan is much more complex and can not easily be explained away by a struggle against imperialism of the west. There are no resources to steal (other than poppy crops), no oil pipelines of note to secure, no real strategic objectives, other than to make a stand against religious fanatics of the Taliban, who have a sad human rights track record and try to export Islamism to nuclear powered Pakistan with the potential to inciting a nuclear war between the latter and India. America does not pursue hegemonial interests, let alone imperialism in this harsh, unattractive and unimportant part of the world, but is desperately trying to prevent the local misery from escalating into a region with clear and important value in terms of National Security, Foreign Policy and economy (PAK, India).

To avoid a destabilization of the entire region with grave (economical and security) consequences, our interests ironically overlapp with those of RU or China, both having minorities within their own borders, presenting explosive conditions, which can quickly escalate as well. In this case the people of the Taliban, supported by the Saudis, Iran, Syria and others (ab)use Islam as a tool and common denominator between various regional minorities yet again to promoting the notion of fight against western imperialism in the name of Allah, in other words, the ideology of Islamism.
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You mentioned Iraq as another example. I supported that war myself as doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. WMDs did not exist, but the invasion was nevertheless justified. We seem to forget, that Saddam was in fact one of the worst mass murderers of the 20th century, incited 2 wars himself with mios of deaths, killed during one week a quarter of a million kurds with chemical weapons, supported worldwide terror, suppressed his own people brutally and quite actually was an imperialist himself (Kuweit).

America did after the war not import a drop of oil - quite actually it was the French and Germans (outspoken opponents of the war) who opportunistically signed export contracts with the Iraqi Gov. Cui Bono ? For the Americans the war in Iraq was in economical terms a huge loss with no return of the huge investment other than possibly gaining an ally as block against the true imperialist in the region: Iran. The war admittedly must also be seen as serving national interest, as it secured the safety and stability of a region we do still import 40% of our oil from (SA and Kuweit). Any form of war and conflict involving the latter nations would have presented a clear and present danger, if this irrational regime would have been left in power. Further conflict, resulting in a collapse of the energy logistics, would have tumbled the world economy into a full out depression. Hence, Mr. Havas, even the controversial Iraq conflict constituted not imperialism, but originated out of a need for self preservation or self-defense.

Now Palestine. That debate is fruitless and I see no room for compromise. Israel is under siege since its inception. Their right to exist is not recognized by a majority of neighboring nations, let alone Iran proxies, such as Hezbollah, Hamas or Al Aksa. It was after all Arafat and his ingenuous PR skills, inventing the Palestinians, a people which never existed in history, most of which laying claim to exactly the locations of holy sites, the Jews see as their own. Albeit, both sides should accept the realities on the ground, as they present themselves right now, which will never happen, as once again fanatics who do not express any will to compromise, prevail. This is not imperialism either, but is quite actually truly the frontline of a cultural clash with no room to maneouvre and a cease-fire as best case scenario.

As you may now understand, Mr. Havas, the notion of western imperialism with logical muslim response may be too simplistic and a bit antiquated.

Even though we Americans are the last remaining superpower for some time now, there isn't a single nation we invaded and occupied for long, in order to expand, which would be following the definition of true imperialism. Our track record in comparison to Ru or China for instance is impeccable. We liberate, assist, establishing democracies and human rights, then leave. We do it, because we are comprised of people from all corners of the world, in this sense truly exceptional. If you ever read our declaration of independence or the preamble of our constitution, you will understand, how beautiful these documents, model for many other constitutions later, are.

We understand those principles and values as a needed guiding framework for the world. And rightfully so.

We Americans enjoy exceptional freedoms and liberties and a political system geared to truly representing the will of the people. It is the only system which can remotely be described as fair and just. If we ever want to experience a period of peace, democracy is the only way. If you look at just the military conflicts of the last 100 years, my notion is supported by the fact, that they only happened, where other systems prevailed.

In that sense Turkey stands at the cross roads. If you guys allow for an erosion of democracy and the principles of Attaturk, a truly great man, by letting religion into politics through the backdoor, and become, as feared by Dr. Pipes, victim of Islamism, you will consequently follow the development in Iran and find yourself at some point on the wrong side of history. If you however leave religion, where it belongs, in Mosques and the privacy of your homes, thus become part of the "Free World", I see a chance for Turkey to become the leader of the muslim world, the incubator for "Moderate Islam", a model for several other nations in the region (Jordan, Egypt, Iraq ) to follow suit.

Your open, honest and courageous statements against Islamistic terror gave me hope. May many more in your country share them and speak out accordingly.

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