LIGHTEN UP, MUSLIMS

YOU MUSLIMS NEED TO LIGHTEN UP.

When a group of individuals are continually belittled, is it not natural for someone from that group to eventually rise up and respond violently? Why is it acceptable for Muslims to be made fun of but when similar words and disparaging images are used in a similar context on the Jews or the blacks or the LBGT community, the act is frowned upon, ordinary Muslims often wonder.

There are TV hosts, anchors and politicians who justify micro-acts of retrograde racism as being jokes when every verbal insult however subtle perpetuates nothing but worsening stereotypes of a given group of people and this, leads to serious consequences as Muslims living in the West experience almost daily.

In fact, if the same vitriol about Muslims were said about Christianity as a religion or Jews as a group of people, civil liberty alarm bells would go off, followed shortly by some form of public apology. This is rarely, if ever the case when it comes to Muslim-bashing.

Disguising racist remarks as innocuous jokes, minorities often cemented at the bottom in the social hierarchy in Western societies and unwanted immigrants whose resource-rich countries multi-national Western coalition countries did not hesitate bombing to bits are often chastised for “lacking a sense of humor” when they refuse to accept the joke-concealed racism. (Source: Racism Is Never ‘Just a Joke’ by Daniella Abinum, 23 February 2015, Huffington Post)

Unfortunately, much of what passes for humour today is puerile and vulgar, directed at soft, obvious targets.(Source: Paris attacks: Jonathan Swift had a point about religion. Did Charlie Hebdo? By Jonathan Harries, 18 January 2015, The Independent)

The fact that hollow arguments are sometimes made in the press that a majority mocking a weak minority and the demonising of a group of people is about freedom of expression makes the Kafkaesque situation all the more puzzling. Granted, while Muslims are indeed not being herded into camps or mistreated horribly like the Jews but at the risk of using a seemingly simplistic analogy, it did not take long for Jews to be insulted before millions of lives ended swiftly let alone mercilessly during the Holocaust in “civilized” Christian Europe while mankind, by and large, stood by.

Last but not least, if there are obvious red lines with joking about the Holocaust, abused children, dead pensioners, rape victims, women’s rights or child pornography, why then is it okay to provoke the sentiments of one fourth the world’s population, ordinary Muslims often wonder?

Why are hate reinforcing, misinformed stereotypes about ordinary Muslims often repeated in the mainstream media, on TV such as series likes Homeland led by Israeli director Gideon Ra as well as among right-wing politicians in growing number of non-Muslim majority countries today?

WHY ARE MUSLIMS ALWAYS SO ANGRY?

In the words of a retired CIA officer:

“The cumulative anger, frustration, and radicalism that this history of intervention has produced are abundantly evident. The question perhaps is not how 9/11 could have happened, but instead, why didn’t it happen sooner? . . . It is particularly disingenuous for the West at this point to turn around and speculate on what is wrong with the Muslim world, or with Islam, that the West should be witnessing a violent response from the Muslim world. (Source: A World Without Islam, Author, Graham E Fuller)

In fact, It borders on obtuseness or willful ignorance not to acknowledge any impact or role of its own policies over the last two centuries or more in stimulating the range of current response from the Muslim world”. (Source: Deluded Time with Bill Maher; Mohamed Ghilan)

Middle Eastern nations have repeatedly been subjected to humiliating wars of invasion, conquest and expropriation that have killed millions of people. They play no evident role in [their] thinking about the state of Islam, which appears to view as an unchanging entity. (Source: Atheism, Islam and liberalism: This is what we are really fighting about by Andrew O’Hehir on 12 Oct 2014, Salon.com)

“The consensus among serious observers of the Middle East is that the reasons for antipathy in the region towards the United States are multifold, having to do with: the United States’ unconditional support of Israel and its expansionary and oppressive policies against the Palestinians; propping up of a host of unrepresentative, corrupt and repressive dictatorships throughout the Middle East and North Africa; and widespread military intervention in the Muslim world, from drone attacks that have claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives to whole- scale invasions that have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Muslims”. (Source: Targeting Muslims Is the Real Threat to Peace by Syed Hossein Mousavian, 29 December 2015, The Huffington Post)

Seeing how millions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya let alone in Pakistan have been senselessly butchered since the “Global War on Terror” was launched in 2001 (when none of these countries above, had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks) should be a cause for concern.

In March 2015, the Washington DC-based Physicians for Social Responsibility released a landmark study concluding that the death toll from since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as two million. This number does not include millions of civilians injured, permanently disabled or psychologically scarred as a result of the “Global War on Terror”.

Furthermore, the response below only reflects what happened over 27 years ago (1990-1991) during the first Gulf War, meaning one entire generation of Iraqis have been wiped o and does not even touch on Gulf War II launched in 2003 by George W Bush and his UK lieutenant, Tony Blair, along with the “coalition of the willing” that included 48 countries, or almost one third the number of countries in the world today (and yet we stupendously wonder why the blowback from terrorism is so widespread today): . . . Half a dozen years ago, Iraq had developed one of the most efficient and effective health care systems in the Middle East. Today that health care system is in ruins, thanks to the “mother of all coalitions” and the continuance of sanctions . . . According to the statistics obtained from UN, more than 800,000 infants have died in Iraq from starvation and disease as a result of economic sanctions imposed in August 1990. The mass murder committed since the 1990 is inarguably the greatest political crime of the 20th century, let alone world history . . . [I doubt very much if any self-confessed, Christian, Hindu, Muslim or Jew would allow 4500 infants under the age of five to die each month since 1990. That’s one every ten minutes . . . Just imagine, over one million Iraqi parents had to see their infants either die or become incapacitated for life as a result of these sanctions] . . . A better term yet is US sponsored terrorism. This is a silent war in which only the weakest, most vulnerable and innocent noncombatant civilians, women, children and weak families continue to suffer . . . (Source: UNFAO)

Then there is a widely known statistic published in 1995 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) which unfortunately fell to deaf ears when it comes to the despicable press coverage it received: “600,000 Iraqi children died as a direct result of the trade sanctions on Iraq”. That’s one every 10 minutes for 4 years. It may be worth asking you to take at least five seconds to reflect on this number. Over half a million children. Dead.

How many angry, disgruntled parents or siblings can you possibly create through such a gross statistic? I should however add, 600,000 was the number then in 1995. Fast forward to today after multiple, counter-productive, murderous Iraqi invasions and the incessant carpet bombings over a 15-year period (1990-2003) for nothing more than oil, the number of corpses stands at least two million, if not more.

Two million Iraqi parents, siblings and fellow citizens that have witnessed deaths of their children or close relatives as a direct result of the invasion and here comes a question pandered about every once in a while, “What does that have to do with me, ordinary citizen of the West?”.

This two million number of course, does not even include the permanently wounded or disabled in Iraq which inarguably is multiples of the figure above but for the sake of argument, lets gloss over this little damnable fact, as if this does not in any way influence resistance, blowbacks or current day terrorism.

Iraq, the country underwent bombing equivalent to 7.5 times the explosive power of Hiroshima, resulting in massive crop failures, lack of fertilizers and pesticides. Radioactive waste product, uranium bullets used for the first time in war had horrific effects including a dramatic rise in Leukemia, gastroenteritis, diarrhea, kwashiorkor, bronchial diseases among other agents of mass destruction. Contaminated water, scarcity of food and medicine, sub-standard sewage treatment facilities, hyper-inflation and sky rocketing levels of unemployment. Half a dozen years ago, Iraq was known to have developed the most effective and efficient health care systems in the Middle East. The mass murder committed since the 1990 is inarguably the greatest political crime of the 20th century, let alone world history. The moral depths to which the US government can sink to is incomprehensible.” (Source: 1995, Article, The Independent)

Separately, according to a report released by the UNICEF in October 1996, 4500 Iraqi children under 5 die from hunger and disease every month and a report by the UNFAO reported in 1995 that a further 4 million are at a pre-famine stage. (Source: Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq by Sebastian Will, 1996)

In addition, consider how [in 1991] the 1 Iraqi dinar brought $3 in American money. Today a dollar is worth 700 dinars. [Note: In 2017, it was 1178 to US$1] Inflation has torn up the daily lives of 18 million people and the fact that they can’t get the food they need has starved thousands of them, most of them children. What’s changed in the desert? More children are dying in Iraq than they did last year. The Iraqi economy is worse. (Source: Classmate of Saddam bemoans despair in his homeland on 11 October 1994 by Jim Klobuchar, Star Tribune)

Production of cluster munitions, each containing hundreds of smaller bomblets that scatter before they hit the ground. Many of the bomblets do not explode initially, leaving deadly unexploded “duds” for years afterwards. The New York-based Human Rights Watch organisation estimates that 1600 Iraqi and Kuwaiti civilians were killed and 2500 injured between 1991 and 1993 by unexploded cluster bomblets dropped by the US and UK in the first Gulf War. Because the bombs’ appearance is toy-like and attractive to children, 60 percent of those victims were children under 15. (Source: Direct Action)

And as if the first Gulf War (1990-1991), debilitating trade sanctions and oil embargo (1991-2002) wasn’t enough, the world’s leading self-professed democracies ignored its populace and marched ahead with the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, widely criticised at the time but blatantly ignored by those in power voted in by ordinary citizens of the democratic world.

The rest of course, is recent history as they say as there have been plenty of reports documenting the carnage that the invasion has led to, including the emergence of the barbaric ISIL from the ashes of the illegal invasion into Iraq, the disbanding of the Sunni Baathist army, the epically mismanaged post-invasion planning, arms proliferation, and disastrous civil war in Syria.

Therefore the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and others or 48 countries among the “coalition of the willingwere indeed in the thick of it and have no doubt played a key role in producing the global carnage we are witnessing today.

In fact for millions of people who marched against the Iraq war, are you not curious let alone furious why no one in political power today is able to explain why it took thirteen long years for the taxpayer funded GBP10 million Chilcot (2.6-million-word, 12-volume) report on the Iraq war to be released? Not only was the threat posed by dictator Saddam Hussein overplayed, intelligence awed but the legal basis for the war was opined to be unsatisfactory. The report’s outcome however remains inconclusive in terms of whether the invasion was illegal, which of course is another way of saying no one in the West will ever be held to account. Worse still, by unforgivably invading a sovereign country and executing Saddam Hussein through a Kangaroo court to prevent him from spilling secrets about the cosy relationship between him and Western powers before the war, sectarian hatred was unleashed and the country was plunged into anarchy. Before 2003, it is worth noting, there had been no recorded suicide bombings in Iraq’s history.

Since 2003 however, there have been 1,892 attacks culminating in the wholesale massacre of almost 20,000 people. (Source: Another 250 people were slaughtered in Baghdad last weekend. No wonder Iraqis don’t care about the Chilcot report, Matt Ayton, 5 July 2016, The Independent).

Between one to two million innocent men, women and children were sent to their deaths as a result of the war and a whole generation of militarily trained but under-employed young men lost their purpose in life and were forced to find it elsewhere in militancy such as the well- paying ISIS. Yet, not a single person from the then much-touted “Coalition of the Willing” has been indicted at the dock in the Hague for reducing whole Iraqi cities to dust and blood-strewn streets in the name of remaking the Middle East or making the West less safe than what it used to be. Why is that?

In the apt words of the Editorial at the Independent Newspaper on 6 July 2016, following the release of the futile and toothless Chilcot report: “There was a strong case for the removal of Saddam Hussein – but the case against was stronger.”

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PAST IS COMPLICATED AND UNFORTUNATE. HOW COULD ANYONE JUSTIFY THE KILLINGS OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS IN THE WEST TODAY?

It is perhaps worth pointing out why it is important we understand why this is all happening now after all we in the West have done to the Iraqis for decades, Afghans, Libyans as well as Arab dictators that our Western democracies have supported (and continue to support still) for almost a century (thanks to their well-funded think-tank and lobbyists at K Street in Washington D.C) let alone even during the Arab spring when we should have supported the people, not dictators and autocratic regimes.

Despite the crackdown on civil society in Egypt, the abuses carried out in the country are well-documented. Why, then, are a host of western leaders, who continuously stress their commitment to democracy and the rule of law, queuing up to meet with the military strong- man? . . . What really set the bar for the impunity which circles the Egyptian government will always be the August 2013 massacre when some 1,000 Egyptians were killed in Rab’a Al-Adawiya Square as they protested against al-Sisi’s overthrow of the country’s first democratically-elected president Mohammed Morsi. Shortly afterwards the US briefly broke off, then re-established military aid to Egypt; France sold fighter jets to the country whilst the UK, who had suspended a number of military licences, reinstated several of these. (Source: Donald Trump is the latest in a long line of western leaders queuing up to meet Egypt’s al-Sisi, Amelia Smith, 31 March 2017, The Independent)

This is not meant to justify the violence or “blowbacks” in the West but explain why and how the violence we planted the seeds for in the Middle East has reached our shores and why this may be happening now.

The question however, isn’t just why this is happening now but why did it take up to 25 years (or an entire generation of people wiped out) for the blowback to start? Worse still, with all that is happening today, what horrors await our children 20 years from today when they enter their early twenties?