Ever since the Muslim armies once came within 125 miles of Paris, and twice reached the gates of Vienna, and ruled Spain (711-1492), Islam is perceived in the western world as an enemy to be contended with and confronted. While it is true that Muslims (along with Jews and Christians) suffered because of the Spanish Inquisition, not much later they were totally evicted from a country they ruled for centuries. With Islam receding to Africa and Asia and Europe gaining economic suzerainty, that fear of Islam receded but never really died.
Samuel Huntington’s ‘The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order’ brought about, among other things, a new rise of Islamophobia, assiduously supported by the western media. The architects of this new wave of Islamophobia insisted that Islam as such is violent and that it makes all Muslims inherently violent. With that phobia coming out into the open a defensive mechanism of Muslims was created. The ideology of jihad that had been part of Islam before as a defensive principle, it became now to be used counter-offensively. With poverty an ever-present feature and with corruption and nepotism virulent in Muslim countries, this new “jihadi” Islam was the self-defence mechanism fostering the desire for an Islamic state that would solve all the problems and right all the wrongs present in Muslim countries.
The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan rung alarm bells in the West. The US ally Saudi Arabia employed its Wahabi interpretation of Islam in Pakistan and beyond in order to use the newly-created international jihadis to fight as proxies for the West against the Soviets in Afghanistan. With all Muslim countries coming under the influence of jihadi ideology it was Pakistan, being the neighbour of Afghanistan that suffered most. Taking full advantage, India waged a brilliant proxy war against Pakistan for nearly 3-4 decades on a no-cost basis, either in lives or money. In the 1980s, they used Russian lives and money, after the 9/11, it has been American lives and money to go with Afghan lives and the destruction of Afghanistan. Despite all tribulations Pakistan has survived, and while we may have lost India’s hybrid battles against us, our faith in God, resilience thereof and the magnificent sacrifice by our Armed Forces have almost won us this war for our very existence. Imran Khan can only build upon this reality.
Arms supplied free to the combatants increased global violence, not limited to Muslims. White supremacists and Christian fundamentalists went rampant to ‘save the civilized world’. Radicalization proliferated among young people in the West – not only against Islam but also adopting Islam and joining ‘jihad’ in the Middle East and even Afghanistan. According to social science studies, this is because of the absence of values and guidance that young people experience in their home countries, the media and their schooling. Liberalism and attitudes that ‘all goes that pays’ leave young people looking for role models without satisfying choices. So in an increasingly globalized world dominated by social media they looked next door for alternatives and ended up either joining the fight against Islam that allegedly was threatening to overpower the western world or convert to ‘Islam’ or jihadism for that matter. There is an ongoing discussion about what to do with young Brits and Germans who are sitting in Kurdish prison camps in Syria, often females with kids. The spread of terrorism to Europe and America only showed that the path trodden by the West was dangerous and wrong. Terrorist attacks in London, Paris and Berlin rang alarm bells, in reverse terrorism anti-Muslim preachers called on Christians to attack mosques.
The mosque attack in Christchurch really upset the world. For the first time in history the people of an overwhelmingly “white” country led by their PM Jacinda Ardern, showed courage against terrorism and extremism by coming out in massive support of Muslim victims. One week after the grisly attack, many people gathered in front of the mosque on Friday, the whole country observed two minutes of silence in memory of the victims. Many of the women put on head scarfs to demonstrate their solidarity with Muslims. The Azaan sounding across the square calling the believers for prayers was something unheard of so far in the western world.
Violence driven by Islamophobia requires “genuine, comprehensive and systematic measures to address this affliction, to quote OIC ministers in a statement. Islamophobia that dehumanizes Muslims alleging them to be inherently backward and violent creating hatred against them has to be fought at all levels.
There should be a public outcry against all sorts of extremism and violence individually and collectively. The state and the judiciary cannot be the only ones to resist, the people of Pakistan and the world must reject terror and violence wherever it is found.Ikram Sehgal, "Attacking Musalmans," Business Recorder. 2019-04-12.
Keywords: History-Muslims , Western media , Armed forces , America , Pakistan , Asia , Afghanistan