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January 2009

The ventriloquism that occurs after terrorist incidents is always striking. Planes fly into towers, trains explode, gunmen run amok torturing and murdering Jews and whatever your particular grievance the terrorists all of sudden become your mouthpiece.

The travel-writer William Dalrymple used the pages of the Observer the Sunday after Mumbai to explain that the perpetrators of the attacks (still, then, unidentified) were "furious at the gross injustice they perceive being done to Muslims by Israel, the US, the UK and India in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kashmir respectively".

On CNN, within hours of the attacks, the Huffington Post's contributor Deepak Chopra said they were the result of the Iraq war and "our foreign policies". Out to the extreme margins, the UK Muslim Public Affairs Committee declared: "Western (often Zionist lobby driven) foreign policy is the root cause of why these young men are taking up arms."

For those of us who note that the terrorists of Mumbai went out of their way to target not only Americans and Brits but also a Jewish centre, the driving force behind these - and jihadi attacks stretching back decades - is perfectly clear. You'd have to be a Channel 4 newsreader or the New York Times to so repeatedly refuse to listen to the terrorists' own reasons for doing what they do - to pretend they do not commit their acts of terror in order to satiate their infidel-hatred, imperial ambitions and caliphate-nostalgia.

Islamic fundamentalism has a propulsion quite of its own. Is our foreign policy a factor? An aggravating one, yes - in that anything we do aggravates them. But let's go all the way. Let's forget the indignity - not to mention long-term risk - of nation-states having their foreign policy dictated by whichever group is most violent. Let's pretend it really is all about our foreign policy.

So what do we do?

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Riaz Ahmad
January 24th, 2009
3:01 AM
Aidan man, Right from the first two lines, you inner prejudice has become fairly obvious. Yes I was born in a Muslim family, but my thinking is no different to yours, in fact totally objective and unlike you, totally unbiased. You are presenting your self-congratulatory assumptions as if they are rational arguments; the reality is they are nothing but emotive tantrums that lack any rational coherence. I am neither a defender nor an apologist for Islam I have nothing to do with its ideology, I have openly stated that I have been an agnostic all my life. As for your enlightenment, killing of thousands of innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a shinning example of values emanating from enlightenment. The support and financing of death squads financed by CIA in South America and avid support of Pinochet who slaughtered thousands is straight out of the book of enlightenment. The killing of 6000 odd Kurdish women and children in Iraq by the British and another 3000 odd in North West Frontier province (both with delayed action bombs) is a shinning example of enlightenment. Saddam borrowed the same from the same old book of enlightenment to butcher more Kurdish women and children a few decades later. The Propping up of ruthless dictators in Congo, Philippines, Chile, Indonesia, and Iran is in strict conformity with the book of enlightenment. Grow up, who do you think you are kidding, your self? I openly oppose Islamic ideology, and despite my pacifism, I do not oppose defeating the curse of Islamic terrorism and fundamentalism by military means. Unlike like you, I do not hide behind the fig leaf of enlightenment; I openly point out hypocrisy with undeniable real life examples.

Riaz Ahmad
January 23rd, 2009
7:01 PM
pacifc_waters I have given practical examples to substantiate my rational arguments, you have merely added a few lines of futile and meaningless humbug.

ed hope
January 20th, 2009
10:01 PM
Iftikhar, When the same generosity of religious expression is extended to christians in Mecca then perhaps your one-sided ideas may be of interest. Until then, sod off.

Aidan Mann
January 15th, 2009
12:01 PM
Riad I would hazard that you are culturally Muslim despite declaring yourself religiously not. Unless i mistook your name for Roger Ambrose rather than Riaz Ahmad in which case my apologies. 'Western Foreign Policy is Machavellian', complex yes, based on state interests yes, subject to human error yes, but still based on values of the Enlightenment. A really good thing that there is no 'Machavellianism' in 'Eastern' Foreign Policy, then whew! Or should I just say 'Allujah Akhbar'? 'Even moderate none practicing Muslims educated in the west have become highly critical of the west; it is not hard to know the reason.' Yourself even? No it is not hard to know the reason, democratic tradition as practiced in the West, condones, supports, encourages a lively, healthy, critical social debate. If you and your (male?)'Friends' are learning to participate in this, let us just hope that (you) and they don't let this freedom go so far to your heads and hearts that you turn into the new Hassan al Banna's (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, ideological root of Al Qaeda) who on witnessing (horrors) church socials in suburban Colorado turned to write screeds condemning the moral outrage of it all, and start longing for, and designing an imposition of order to arrest all this licentiousness and criticism, that they suddenly find so appealing, albeit overwhelming, challenging even. I would be the last person to defend the United Nations in its entirety but what seems to emerge from your posts is that in putting Islam aside as a discipline for life something which you could be legitimately killed for in some non-Western countries, you long for the perfect pure system to relegate human affairs and specifically International politics. This is the thought process of a zealot and a fundamentalist who longs to replace their renounced faith with a newer enhanced perfect system. It is also a facet of Socialism the desire to create the perfect new man. I thought we had moved on? To paraphrase Bill W. it is often the wanderer from faith rather than the one who had no faith at all who has the hardest time. Personally I prefer Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s version of events than yours. Maybe you should just quit fighting it and admit you are a Muslim however doubtful or just get into being an atheist instead of all this agnostic nonsense which quite clearly you are not. I don’t mean any of this in a nasty way I am just saying what I see based on my understanding of events. If one goes further back in history and looks at Iran, I believe that if it were not for the efforts and involvement of Russia and Britain there would have been no such country today. Also one can castigate the West for everything from Palestine to the UN and back, but some form of International government and stability was necessary after two successive world wars, and a lot of these problems, are a direct result of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. I don’t believe that was the ‘fault’ or ‘design’ of the West when it comes down to it. Lastly Dr J I do not think that the building of European Union Association Agreements with what are our geographical neighbours is wimpishness. These go a long way toward normalising relations of trade, and establishing cultural, educational, social, and thereby political connections. The slow evolutionary process of building the civic institutions of a society, are the foundation of democracy, voting under duress or otherwise is just what you do when everyone has agreed to disagree and it is time for a show of hands. I am not a pacifist, I think that is a very dangerous ideology, I just believe that military options should be those of last reserve, as for example against Hamas, in the current situation where it has refused to sign up like all other State actors engaged in the peace process in the region to a two state solution, refuses to rescind the part of its manifesto dedicated to the eradication of the state of Israel continues to conduct acts of aggression against Israel, and is clearly a proxy of Iran.

Dr J
January 13th, 2009
11:01 PM
Our approach in the West to Political Islam should be the same as Ronald Reagan's with the Soviets: we win, they lose. For example:I don't want my daughter wearing a veil or being annoyed for not doing so. What other kids do is their parent's business; leave my kids alone Islamofascists. A message to anyone who harasses my kids--- expect a 3 number response from me: three five seven. Israeli style: twice in the head to be sure. Fortunately, I live in the US, and not the land of the Eurowimp. Fight the good fight Standpoint; I fear it may be too late.

January 7th, 2009
3:01 PM
Mr. Ahmad, your avowed agnosticism aside, there is no "western foreign policy". Instead of spewing forth with the tired and worn out cliches about oil and western hegemony come forth with constructive suggestions. The seeds of militant Islam were sown by Mohammed, not the west.

January 6th, 2009
6:01 PM
The debate over the trajectory of the western sociopolitical system and its strained relations with Islam is the most pivotal of our time. Muslims are in one of the most difficult phases of their history when malicious attacks including allegation of terrorism are being made on Islam and Muslims all over the world. The malicious campaign against Muslims is politically motivated. The world is obsessed by Islam. Anti-terror measures are ruining lives of Muslim youths. If you go around arresting young Muslims, you are going to find that you are going to ostracise this community. Young Muslims don’t need to be ostracized, they need to be engaged. According to the Arch Bishop, Rowan Williams, acceptance of some facets of Sharia not only “seems unavoidable”, but could actually improve social cohesion. Muslims should be able to choose to have marital or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia Court. Such courts should therefore be incorporated into the British legal system as a constructive accommodation with Islam. Schools are being asked to help “win hearts and minds” in the battle against violent extremists on both sides. British born Imams should go into schools to supplement the teaching of RE, PSHE and Citizenship so that all pupils can learn about the Holy Quran and Islam in the context of a multicultural society. OFSTED must make sure that their services should be fully utilised by the schools, otherwise, it will be waste of public money. The British Establishment is wrong to assert that Imams and Masajid have been radicalising Muslim youths. The roots of extremism are in the British society and schools where institutional racism is at its peak. The racism within schools has got little media coverage. The school attended by 7/7 bombers in a part of Leeds known for its history of racial tension between British Asians and native Brits. Leeds council was so worried about the violence that it had to call in Foundation for Peace, a government funded peacekeepers who were used to keep Catholics and Protestants from killing one another in Northern Ireland. True message of Islam should be promoted because British media and society have always portrayed Islam in a negative way since Crusades and the siege of Vienna in 1683. School Curriculum should be used to convey a deeper understanding of Islamic faith, history and culture. Prison is not the answer of those who are vulnerable to, or are being drawn into violent extremism unless they have clearly committed an offence. The greatest challenge to humanity is learning to live in a crowded and interconnected world that is creating unprecedented pressures on human society. The rector of Oxford’s largest Anglican Churches has called a Muslim call to prayers from the main Masjid “un-English”. This is a clear case of intolerance. Gibraltar is a British colony. Five Pound currency note has a queen image on one side and on the other side there is an image of the Muslim Conqueror with a sword in his hand. There is more hatred of Muslims seduced by the Western media, education system and church leaders like Bishop Nazir Ali. Catholic nuns have worn veils for centuries, with no public controversies arising. There is no reason why any girl’s school uniform can not now be modified to include a veil. Wearing a veil to school or to work must be a matter of choice for all. Iftikhar Ahmad

terence patrick hewett
December 30th, 2008
8:12 AM
Mohammedan terrorism is driven by the knowledge of its finite shelf life. Terrorism against the West is funded by oil money. These fanatics are well aware of the billions of dollars being spent to develope an energy source to replace oil. One day in the not too distant future we will succeed, and then these countries will be forced out of the 13th century to earn their living like everybody else. Until that happy day, expect things to get much, much worse.

Riaz Ahmad
December 24th, 2008
4:12 PM
Nigel, I believe we two are having quite a constructive debate, and I welcome it. I am neither a Muslim (I am an agnostic since I was 15) nor am I trying defending the Islamic world. I am an impartial observer, expressing opinion with out bias. I am a liberal with a world view based on common, decent and established rules of humanity. The point I am making is that the western foreign policy has always been motivated by hegemony with a Machiavellian weltanschauung. This approach is the opposite of peace, highly provocative and openly confrontational. You cannot have west operating outside the law and the others to conform to the same law. Look at UN, IMF, World Bank, NPT, NTBT and G7, these are all cartels of monopoly, tentacles of western hegemony. You cannot be president of the World Bank unless you are an American. You cannot be the head of IMF unless you are a European. The United Nations Security Council, no one elected it, it elected itself, no one appointed it, it appointed itself, it is responsible to no one, it cannot be dismissed by anyone, and it has veto over any reform, the ultimate check-mate. These examples are in stark contradiction to what the west pretends to stands for. So here is hypocrisy, vested interest and hegemony in its international institutional manifestation; not exactly befitting the legitimate needs and interest of the non west. I am in full agreement that militant Islam has got to be opposed by all necessary means, especially in the interest of the Islamic world. The seeds of militant Islam were sown by western foreign policy especially directed against the Islamic world, why? Because of oil. Even moderate none practicing Muslims educated in the west have become highly critical of the west; it is not hard to know the reason. In the interest of peace, the west must learn to abide by the rules it applies to others. Nigel, you are very critical of the imperial ambitions of militant Islam and very right you are, but you are very smugly silent about on going western imperialism.

Nigel Hussein
December 24th, 2008
8:12 AM
Riaz: We agree that the Iraq war was wrong and probably about other aspects of western foreign policy. But the war wasn't anti-Islamic in either cause or effect (quite the opposite in effect, and intentionally). Murray's broader point, with which I agree, is that, whatever western policies are, Islamists will still exist and will still oppose the west. Islamists have a freestanding imperialist agenda and giving them the Sudetenland won't quell their ambitions. That doesn't mean we have to declare war willy nilly around the Islamic world (not even Bush would do so), but we do have to have a foreign policy that opposes that agenda explicitly and contains it by the most peaceful means possible.

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