“9/11 - ‘mea culpa’ no more”

Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal

Posted Sep 9, 2006      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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“9/11 - ‘mea culpa’ no more”

Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal

President Bush’s remark that,’ America is at war with Islamic fascism’ was
greeted with a chorus of outraged protests from Muslims worldwide. They remain
incredulous that the leader of the free world who in the immediate aftermath of
9/11 had consistently declared Islam as ‘a religion of peace’, has now
intensified his rhetoric to one with such bellicose contempt. They know that
Islam has not changed so why has Mr Bush reversed his opinion? 

The answer is buried in the fact that almost five years into the so-called ‘war
on terror’, instead of being vanquished, “the epitome of evil”, AlQaeda, has
been allowed to become stronger than ever. And this has been the direct
consequence of the catastrophic invasion of Iraq. Not only did the diversionary
‘showdown with Saddam’ squander vital resources dedicated to the eradication of
AlQaeda, but more importantly it was perceived by many in the Muslim world as a
‘crusade’ against Islam, and thus became a recruitment bonanza for AlQaeda and a
propaganda blitz for the distribution of its destructive template for copycat
use anywhere in the world.

Thus AlQaeda stands as the supreme and unique symbol of “Muslim fascism”. This
is in absolute and total contradiction to the term “Islamic fascism”. This
distinction is not a matter of mere semantics. The term Islamic embodies the
very values and attributes of the faith (Islam) that a Muslim believes in and
loves. A believer in any faith could deviate from his religion, pursue ungodly
activities unrelated to it, or in direct contravention thereof, and end up being
a rapist, terrorist or even a fascist. There would however be nothing of
intrinsic religious value in such behavior. As religions go, there can be no
such entity as Christian, Judaic or Islamic fascism, at least not until a new
religion comes along promoting itself as second best.

AlQaeda is a distinct cabal whose fascist ideology directly contravenes the
basic principles of the religion it claims to espouse, whose target is the
current world order, whose modus operandi is the terrorization of innocent
civilians, and whose fuel is the rage of disenchanted and misguided young
minds.The threat of AlQaeda is global and affects Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
It must not be obfuscated with other organisations that may use terror as a
tactic, but do not have a fascist ideology, are not a threat to the US or the
west, and whose inclusion with AlQaeda undermines extermination of the latter.
The pursuit of AlQaeda must be relentless and based as much on winning the
hearts and minds of those it seduces, as by military efforts. To give it
reprieve is worse than appeasement.

Yet there are those who in masterminding the diversion of the war on AlQaeda to
the ‘cakewalk’ in Iraq gave AlQaeda a reprieve, and a boost. The architects who
let AlQaeda off the hook were were the neocons. They must be held fully
accountable for the calamitous conditions that prevail today: from the brutal
civil war in which scores of innocent people are slaughtered on a daily basis
with the human dimensions of the suffering rarely making it to our living
rooms; to the terror of survival under a permanent ‘code red’ and the utter
misery of living under Katrina-like conditions indefinitely;and from the
alarming level of anti-Americanism throughout the region, to the duping of the
troops that their self-sacrifice makes America safer from terrorism. Ironically
this horror is not lost upon countless young Muslim men, disillusioned by the
west and misguided by AlQaeda into believing that the occupation of Iraq is a
blatant first step in the crusade against Islam whose goal is the systematic
dismemeberment of Iraq, so-called ‘rogue states’ like Syria and Iran, and of
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia once they have outlived their usefulness. Though
indefensible, it is thus not surprising that such embittered brainwashed men
would be attracted to AlQaeda to ‘defend’ Islam from the ‘crusaders’. If in the
process of ‘defending Islam’ they have to slay innocent men women and children,
and plot to slaughter equally innocents abroad, this is the template that
Alqaeda markets for their ‘salvation’- a template formed in heresy. 

  Yet this sorry saga would be incomplete if the only villains were the ‘Muslim
fascists’. But there are those who wield infinitely greater power, have
unfettered access to unlimited supplies of weapons of mass destruction,  can at
a stroke declare a country a ‘rogue state’ and target it for destabilisation or
reprisal. They, soon after the implosion of the Soviet Union, orchestrated the
campaign to demonize Islam as the new bogeyman of the west.They let Al Qaeda off
the hook. They spearheaded the invasion of Iraq.  And if they had their way,
they would have expanded the Israel-Lebanon conflict into Syria and Iran and
triggered world war III. 

  Only heartless folk can direct a plane load of people into skyscrapers and
call it justice; only those with a similar mindset can concoct the fiendish ploy
of ‘shocking and awe-ing’ ( terrorizing)  innocent peoples and then pulverizing
them into submission and call it democratization. Few would question the fact
that Alqaeda is driven by a fascist ideology; fewer still would raise the
question as to whether there is a neofascist agenda behind the neocon facade.It
is time the world knew that Islam is not the enemy of America or the west. The
neofascists want it to be. Both the Muslim fascists and the neofascists need,
and feed of each other. They neither represent nor serve the interests of Islam
or of America. Instead of deriding Islam and thereby bolstering the jihadists,
Mr Bush should extend a policy of rapprochment toward the Muslim world.This
would isolate and neutralize the Muslim fascists. And instead of marching to the
drumbeat of the neofascists to world war III, a sure point of no return, Mr Bush
should jettison them.  Even in the desperately last days of a failed presidency
that could only be resuscitated by a timely but grisly terrorist attack,
President Bush has the power to change the course of history for good. As
Muslims, Americans and as citizens of the world, we have the responsibility to
expose fascism in all its guises so that the future for our children and their
children will be brighter than it now looks. 

Abdul Cader Asmal, Past President Islamic Center of Boston. Past President Islamic Council of New England