By Yusuf Serunkuma
Does America hate Islam? Although some say yes, many American Muslims deny that mainstream America hates Islam. But the bigger part of the Muslim world believes that both quietly and openly American thought is full of hatred for Islam, especially after 9/11. But now that is history, the world is dealing with the repercussions.
The suicide bombers and flag burners in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Uganda ” will tell you openly that America hates Muslims. I would not have said so ten years ago. As a Muslim who got the biggest part of my youth education from not secular school, but one that was Christian founded and grounded, I somehow thought of the belief that the West hates Muslims as useless paranoia from those who could not pursue their dreams to conclusions.
On growing up and reading, and after getting exposed to the world, I am starting to rethink my stance on the relationship between Islam and America. I take the stance now that most ordinary Americans, intellectuals and ‘peasants’ alike, are technically and sometimes, crudely hateful towards this religion.
No doubt, President Barack Obama is calmer in his hostility; he was respectful to Islam in Cairo acknowledging it as part of the American story, and was respectful even when he falsely sent more troops to Afghanistan”thinking it makes America safer. Speaking to US troops, he said ‘extremists (hiding in Afghanistan) have misused Islam”¦one of the world’s greatest religions for their selfish interests”.
As we wind up the year, many media organizations across the world are nominating and voting ‘things of the year’. Let me pay attention to the media in America ” by the way the lead mover of public debate and thought. Time magazine, one of the most respected print media house nominated candidates for person of the year. Among them is a crowd of ‘Iran Protestors’ i.e. who protested the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Foreign Policy magazine, that which recognized The Independent magazine’s managing editor Andrew Mwenda among the 100 top global thinkers also included Zahra Rahnavard, wife of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel. There’s a suspicious but confirmable pattern here of American thought reflected in their media. It is certainly invisible to a less critical reader.
One thing is for certain; America has destabilised almost all the world’s leading Muslim nations except Iran. Yes, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan is a war against terror, inspired by the events of 9/11; but let us ask: Did this war start after 9/11? Certainly not; the Alqaeda is a product of America’s cold war politics in Afghanistan.
Researcher Mahamood Mamdani notes in his book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim how the Central Investigations Agency (CIA) produced a manual for terrorism that was handed to Osama bin Laden when he was a US darling fighting against the Soviet Union. Rape euphemized as marriage of convenience and indiscriminate killing as strategic sabotage were taught in this CIA manual. So why should the US media blow out of proportion the fact that there were protests against an election misdemeanor in Iran, a country with the best practiced and transparent democracy in the world as former Foreign Policy magazine editor Fareed Zakaria notes in The Future of Freedom?
The reasons are suspect, but not far away from crude hatred of Muslims. If not that; through awarding recognition to Muslim/ Islamic haters and defectors, Americans present themselves as men and women at war with Islam. Why?
Ayaan Harsi Ali: She is from Somalia, a refugee nation, known for pirates, anarchy and struggling with famished peace-keeping force. Somalia is one country that passionately hates America. She is a Muslim run-away girl, a fierce but ignorant critic of Islam and yes, enjoying Dutch citizenship and red carpets, and accolades for her ruthless criticism of Islam and the way it oppresses women! If Ayaan knew that well practiced Islam treats women as kings and men as their servants, she would write a different book and I doubt she would be deserving of the accolades. But again to understand the way Muslim women feel; how they live; what their challenges and principles are; do you need to ask a quitter or to read Infidel? No. You ask stable, prosperous and knowledgeable Muslim women.
Omar el Bashir: President of another renowned Muslim nation Sudan. In Saviors and Survivors, the most balanced and well researched book on Darfur and the alleged genocide, scholar and researcher Mahmood Mamdani notes that the big players in the Darfur scuffle is USA which entered the region in 1989 while the central government of Sudan started active participation in 2004. But instead of holding former US presidents accountable, it is Omar el Bashir who is indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). So again we ask: Why? Of course, we have heard Americans slandering that it is forced Arabisation/Islamisation of black Africans in Darfur. Do you then expect the Muslim people to think otherwise?
Americans must rethink their positions because Islam is an intrinsic part of the world story, and will not go away. But untamed disrespectfulness, however sotto voce it might be against Muslims does not make America any safer.