Westerners, especially Americans, often look at violence in the Middle East as a result of the teachings of Islam.
This week’s talk show by Christine Amanpour’s spent the better part of two hours discussing Islam and how people are reacting to Islam as a source of fanaticism publicised in the press.
The Western public has been seduced into believing that reactions of “extremists” have something to do with Islam. Extremist reprisals have nothing to do with religion. They are expressions of revenge. Anti-American reactions have been what Reverend Jeremiah Wright called “bringing the chickens home to roost.”
How can the West expect a placid reaction to their own actions when they have massacred more than 1,300,000 Iraqis, let alone the Afghans and the support given to Israel for their vicious savagery in Lebanon and Gaza?
How can we expect anything but calls for retribution when the agonizing stories of innocent victims of military atrocities get told and retold?
Just this week, the New York Times published the unusual report of a grotesque story from a small village in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
A woman told how American military men took her husband, a local mullah in Maiwand, out of their house, forced him to the ground, put a grenade under his body and blew him up.
The mullah was the third victim of soldiers who killed Afghan civilians for no apparent reason. Is this the kind of activity that’s supposed to endear people around the world to America?
According to the New York Times, “Local elders estimate that in the past eight months at least 42 civilians have been killed in Maiwand during American operations.”
Expand that relatively small area to the much larger scope of American military action in the Middle East and the incentives for revenge multiply.
One Afghan elder reportedly said, “The Americans have killed many people who did not support the Taliban, which is painful for us and actually creates hatred toward Americans.”
In another incident reported by the New York Times this week, five soldiers are facing potential courts-martial on charges that they killed Afghan civilians for sport.
The report says they were “planting weapons near them (Afghans) to fake combat situations, collecting their body parts and taking photographs posing with their corpses.”
Also this week, a chicken that came home to roost was tried in New York. Pakistani born Faisal Shahzad, who planted a car bomb in Times Square, New York on May 1st, was sentenced to life in prison.
MSNBC reported that Shahzad came to court to tell Americans he felt no remorse about his May 1 bombing attempt. “Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun,” said Shahzad.
It’s a great anomaly that Americans expect the extremists to feel remorse for their acts of revenge when most Americans express no remorse over our mindless murder and maiming of innocents abroad.
Moderate and peace loving, as all but the very few extremists like Shahzad are, Muslims are innocent victims of hate and hate crimes.
Writing in the Princetonian, Adam Bradlow observed “Intolerance toward Muslims has become part of the new norm.”
Anti mosque rallies have broken out in at least four states, including the recent protests against the “ground zero” Community Centre in New York.
Speaking out against the Centre, past speaker of the US Congress Newt Gingrich called it “an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization.”
Elizabeth Madrid, editor of the Tennessee Journal, reminds her readers, and hopefully Gingrich, that “A handful of extremists cannot rightly represent the entire Muslim faith.”
Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. He’s a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the Gulf Daily News. Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month.