What America Still Has To Learn About Islam. And The Sooner The Better


Cairo protests

Filed underpoints of view TagsNewsUnited StatesIslamMiddle EastMuslimArab SpringOttoman EmpireMitt RomneyNational Security AgencyAmerica . 
Jan Weatherhead writes from Washington: Anti-American Islamic fires burn in more than a dozen countries. Washington has no control over the situation.
There is nothing to be said by the President, the Secretary of State or even the mullahs of America – there are 2.6 million Muslim Americans.
The United States cannot disown the film that supposedly was used as an excuse to spark these fires.
The attacks on American properties abroad are no longer about that low budget and low taste movie – if they ever were. It takes nothing but the smouldering of anti-American feeling to ignite any protest.
There will be further terrible moments and all will be beyond the control of the United States. Here in the nation’s capital, staffers have been working over the weekend, briefing their bosses who need to know what to think if not what to say. Security offices from the FBI to the National Security Agency are working on two what-next tasks. There is one group that believes that the protests will either blow over or will be suppressed by local police and army units.

This group is, for the moment in the ascendancy. For example, there is a well-founded opinion that the rabble rousing in what are still transitional power bases struggling to make sense of their everyday positions in the post-Arab Spring pose threats to the security in Tunis, Cairo, Sana’a and even Khartoum. Therefore it is in local as well American interests for the protests to be stamped out.

There is, however, in Washington a second school that is asking two questions: have events in Benghazi revealed some horror that we had believed no longer existed – because of our public support for the Arab Spring. Therefore this group is very much in the what-next camp.

These are the people who have to get it right when they brief individually, the President and the Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney.

US Muslims US Muslims.

One group has had the sense to go back to basics and ask the question that for them at least could have a terrifying answer, assuming, of course, there is a correct one.

The question they ask is this: why do so many people hate us? It was asked after 9/11 and no one knew the answer, or even if the question made sense.

Americans find it difficult to believe in the question, never mind to judge the possibilities and givens that provide some answer albeit of no great conclusion.

Thus, the political science modellers lay out the givens and knows as they call the could-be facts: nearly a quarter of the people in the world are Muslims.

Some 1.62 billion Muslims live in an estimated 49 of the 200 or so states represented at the United Nations in New York.

And, in spite of this overwhelmingly important statistic, most Americans including people running the country have little notion what it means.

The apparently most volatile regions of Muslim diaspora are in countries and regions in which America is at war or has been recently at war. This is no coincidence.

The second biggest (Indonesia is the biggest) single Muslim grouping is in Pakistan, about 11 per cent of all Muslims.

The Gulf and Middle East are mostly small countries and although the combined population is large, individual Muslim populations are therefore relatively small.

For example, fewer than 5 per cent of Muslims live in Egypt even though 80 per cent of the 80 million Egyptians are mainly, Sunni Muslims.

But when the United States has gone to war during the past two decades, it has done so in Muslim  lands. Therefore, if nothing else, it carries the taint of Crusader and in doing so should remember that the Crusaders were defeated.

Therefore we have the first of a series of simple answers confronting the strategic thinkers in Washington this week: America is hated by fundamentalist  Islamic groups because they are in reality utterly at war with each other.

That single fact, even though the US retreats from Iraq and soon from Afghanistan, will explain to Americans why they are the enemy not of the peoples of the countries in these two regions, but of the religion – which is where Americans are having to learn the other fundamental of Islam.

Islam is not simply a religion. It is a socio-economic way of life and therefore millions of Muslims live Islam.

It is up front, not an alternative. From this comes the hard to fathom extras to the differences. If an Islamic fundamentalist hates America, how does it feel when America achieves so much: space travel, wealth, importance, big houses, big cars, Hollywood etc?

If that sounds farfetched then imagine the cultural and economic angst over a Satan that has every success imaginable. The Devil even has the best tunes and the children of Islam know this.

For Americans, who know not foreign lands (only 11 per cent of Americans have passports) it is instinctively hard to imagine other worlds, even when living in one of the most successful mixed societies that includes 0.8 per cent of its people as observing Muslims.

When the slaves arrived from Africa, as many as 30 per cent were Muslims. A later influx came during the four decades from the 1880s onwards with the steady movement of Muslim migrants to the United States during the exodus from the old Ottoman Empire.

There are also so-called jailbird Muslims – mainly men who converted to Islam while serving prison sentences. None of this is new data for the think tankers that slip in and out of government every four years. But in these days, people who have been resigned if not content with military solutions in two deeply hurting wars are turning page after page of this basic Know Thine Enemy while looking to the killings and burnings today and asking if the hatred against America is a minority expression or could it just be that pulling out will not solve a thing.

The answer is that the venom of the wars in the Middle East, the continuing US support for the oppressive regimes of the likes of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and the US Gulf-based fleet will not end the war against the United States.

The venom of this week in Benghazi, Cairo, Tunis and elsewhere will follow Americans home.

When they begin to learn that Islam is a way, not just a religion then they will understand why, but that understanding will be nothing more than learning why there is a trap door beneath the noose of Islam fundamentalism.

Via Stirring Trouble Internationally - (A humorous take on news and current affairs).

Filed under: points of view Tags: News, United States, Islam, Middle East, Muslim, Arab Spring, Ottoman Empire, Mitt Romney, National Security Agency, America .

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