Fwd: Myth of the Violent Muslim - a good article by Gwynne Dyer
- M Muneer KhandwallaThese Two messages are from Ms. Razia
I am sure you all will find them interesting!!
Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2003 11:03:50 +0300
To: Razia Mohamedali@...
Subject:�1. Myth of the Violent Muslim - a good article by Gwynne Dyer
2. Who are the Extremists.
Myth of the Violent Muslim
By Gwynne Dyer
Sitting in Cairo in a flat borrowed from a friend. Turn on the TV and
catch the news on BBC World: six stories in 15 minutes. Iraqi guerillas blow
up a couple of pipelines. European hostages released by Muslim guerillas in
Mali. Nigerian peacekeeping troops in Liberia. Rioting between Muslim sects
in Pakistan. Iceland resumes whaling. Islamist terrorists arrested in
Indonesia. End of world news.
Four out of six: that's how many of the stories were about Muslims who
do violent things. That would make sense if two-thirds of the world's people
were Muslims, and most of them were violent. Because only one-fifth of the
world's people are Muslims, and many of them don't even spank their
children, it calls for an explanation. Especially because the international
news is like this most of the time.
BBC World is not particularly bad. In fact, from Minnesota to Moscow to
Manila it is the preferred source of TV news for people with an interest in
the world, a knowledge of English and access to cable. It is serious about
delivering "balanced" news to a multi-national audience, and yet it is doing
an absolutely terrible job. Why?
Consider the four "Muslim" stories among the BBC World six I listed at
the top of this article. The Iraq story is legitimate. When the world's
greatest power is sinking into a political and military quagmire, it is
going to get coverage. But why Muslim hostage-takers in Mali rather than
politically motivated kidnappers in Colombia? Why sectarian clashes between
Muslims in Pakistan rather than inter-caste violence among Hindus in India?
The story of suspected terrorists arrested for the Marriott hotel
bombing in Jakarta is of legitimate interest, but there's a lot less
follow-up when suspected Basque terrorists are arrested in Spain, or when a
resurgent Sendero Luminoso blows something up in Peru. The BBC is not
anti-Muslim, but it is responding to a definition of international news that
makes "violent Muslims" more newsworthy than violent people in other places.
It is largely a Western definition, following an agenda set mainly by
the dominant U.S. media. It is rooted in Western perspectives on the
long-running Arab-Israeli conflict, and has been vastly strengthened by the
Islamist terrorist attack on the United States two years ago. It is also a
steaming heap of horse-feathers.
I am not preaching pious nonsense about Islam being a "religion of
peace." The only peaceful religions are dead religions. And I am not denying
that the Muslim world has a big historical chip on its shoulder. Having run
one of the most powerful and respected civilizations on the planet for the
first 1,000 years after they burst out of Arabia and conquered large chunks
of Europe, Asia and Africa, Muslims have spent the past three centuries
being overrun, colonized and humiliated by the West. But the image of
Muslims that the rest of the world gets through international news coverage
is deeply misleading.
For the past month I have been wandering around the Middle East with
eight other members of my extended family. For some, it was their first time
in the region; others of us have lived here or visited often enough to be
able to lead everybody astray. And we gave less thought to our personal
safety -- and much less to petty theft -- than we would have done on a
comparable trip across America, or even through Europe.
I won't go on about how kind and friendly most of the people we met
were, because most people are like that everywhere. I would point out that
every single person I discussed current events with was against the U.S.
invasion in Iraq, but that I nevertheless encountered no personal hostility
although I am easily mistaken for an American. (Would an Arab doing a
similar trip around the United States have the same experience?)
If Iraq gets completely out of hand, the patience and tolerance that
still prevail at street level in the Muslim Middle East will be severely
eroded, and even Asian Muslim countries may end up taking sides against the
United States and Britain. But for the moment Samuel Huntington's nightmare
vision of a coming "clash of civilizations" is still a long way off, and the
most striking thing is the sheer ordinariness of daily life in the Muslim
world. Don't be misled by television.
Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are
published in 45 countries.
2. Who are the Extremists
Writing in the Daily Mirror, John Pilger identifies the root cause of
the bloody bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad, which Washington and
London have blamed this on 'extremists from outside'. : Pilger :22 Aug
Who are the extremists?
The "liberation" of Iraq is a cruel joke on a stricken people. The
Americans and British, partners in a great recognised crime, have brought
down on the Middle East, and much of the rest of the world, the prospect
of terrorism and suffering on a scale that al-Qaeda could only imagine.
That is what this week's bloody bombing of the United Nations
headquarters in Baghdad tells us.
It is a "wake-up call", according to Mary Robinson, the former UN
Humanitarian Commissioner. She is right, of course, but it is a call that
millions of people sounded on the streets of London and all over the
world more than seven months ago - before the killing began.
And yet the Anglo-American spin machine, whose minor cogs are currently
being exposed by the Hutton Inquiry, is still in production.
According to the Bush and Blair governments, those responsible for the
UN outrage are "extremists from outside": Al-Qaeda terrorists or
Iranian militants, or both.
Whether or not outsiders are involved, the aim of this propaganda is to
distract from the truth that America and Britain are now immersed in a
classic guerrilla war, a war of resistance and self-determination of
the kind waged against foreign aggressors and colonial masters since
For America, it is another Vietnam. For Britain it is another Kenya, or
indeed another Iraq.
In 1921, Lieutenant-General Sir Stanley Maude said in Baghdad: "Our
armies do not come as conquerors, but as liberators."
Within three years 10,000 had died in an uprising against the British,
who gassed and bombed the "terrorists".
Nothing has changed, only the names and the fine print of the lies.
As for the "extremists from outside", simply turn the meaning around
and you have a succinct description of the current occupiers who,
unprovoked, attacked a defenceless sovereign country, defying the United
Nations and the opposition of most of humanity.
Using weapons designed to cause the maximum human suffering - cluster
bombs, uranium-tipped shells and firebombs (napalm) - these extremists
from outside caused the deaths of at least 8,000 civilians and as many
as 30,000 troops, most conscripted teenagers. Consider the waves of
grief in any society from that carnage.
AT their moment of "victory", these extremists from outside - having
already destroyed Iraq's infrastructure with a 12-year bombing campaign
and embargo - murdered journalists, toppled statues and encouraged
wholesale looting while refusing to make
the most basic humanitarian repairs to the damage they had caused to
the supply of power and clean water.
This means that today sick children are dying from thirst and
gastro-enteritis, that hospitals frequently run out of oxygen and that those who
might be saved can not be saved.
How many have died like this?
"We count every screwdriver," said an American colonel during the first
Gulf war, "but counting civilians who die along the way is just not our
The biggest military machine on earth, said to be spending up to
$5billion-a-month on its occupation of Iraq, apparently can not find the
resources and manpower to bring generators to a people enduring
temperatures of well over the century - almost half of
them children, of whom eight per cent, says UNICEF, are suffering
extreme malnutrition. When Iraqis have protested about this, the extremists
from outside have shot them dead.
They have shot them in crowds, or individually, and they boast about
The other day, Task Force 20, an "elite" American unit murdered at
least five people as they drove down a street.
The next day they murdered a woman and her three children as they drove
down a street.
They are no different from the death squads the Americans trained in
These extremists from outside have been allowed to get away with much
of this - partly because of the web of deceptions in London and
Washington, and partly because of those who voluntarily echo and amplify their
In the current brawl between the Blair government and the BBC a new
myth has emerged: It is that the BBC was and is "anti-war".
This is what George Orwell called an "official truth". Again, just turn
it around and you have the real truth; that the BBC supported Blair's
war, that day after day it broadcast and "debated" and legitimised the
charade of weapons of mass destruction, as well as nonsense such as that
which cast Blair as a "moderating influence" on Bush - when, as we now
know, they are almost identical warmongers.
Who can forget the BBC's exultant Chief Political Correspondent Andrew
Marr, at the moment of "coalition" triumph. Tony Blair, he declared,
"said that they would take Baghdad without a blood bath, and that in the
end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And
on both those points he has been conclusively proved right."
If you replace "right" with "wrong", you have the truth. To the BBC's
man in Downing Street, up to 40,000 deaths apparently does not
constitute a "blood bath".
According to the independent American survey organisation Media Tenor,
the BBC allowed less dissent against the war than all the leading
international broadcasters surveyed, including the American networks.
Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter who revealed Dr David Kelly's
concerns about the government's "dodgy dossier" on Iraq, is one of the very
few mavericks, an inconvenient breed who challenge official truth.
One of the most important lies was linking the regime of Saddam Hussein
As we now know, both Bush and Blair ignored the advice of their
intelligence agencies and made the connection public.
It worked. When the attack on Iraq began, polls showed that most
Americans believed Saddam Hussein was behind September 11.
The opposite was true. Monstrous though it was, Saddam Hussein's regime
was a veritable bastion against al-Qaeda and its Islamic fanaticism.
Saddam was the West's man, who was armed to the teeth by America and
Britain in the 1980s because he had oil and a lot of money and because he
was an enemy of anti-Western mullahs in Iran and elsewhere in the
Saddam and Osama bin Laden loathed each other.
His grave mistake was invading Kuwait in 1990; Kuwait is an
Anglo-American protectorate, part of the Western oil empire in the Middle East.
The killings in the UN compound in Baghdad this week, like the killing
of thousands of others in Iraq, form a trail of blood that leads to
Bush and Blair and their courtiers.
It was obvious to millions of people all over the world that if the
Americans and British attacked Iraq, then the fictional link between Iraq
and Islamic terrorism could well become fact.
The brutality of the occupation of Iraq - in which children are shot or
arrested by the Americans, and countless people have "disappeared" in
concentration camps - is an open invitation to those who now see Iraq as
part of a holy jihad.
When I travelled the length of Iraq several years ago, I felt
completely safe I was received everywhere with generosity and grace, even though
I was from a country whose government was bombing and besieging my
Bush's and Blair's court suppressed the truth that most Iraqis both
opposed Saddam Hussein and the invasion of their country.
The thousands of exiles, from Jordan to Britain, said this repeatedly.
But who listened to them? When did the BBC interrupt its anti-Christ
drumbeat about Saddam Hussein and report this vital news?
Nor are the United Nations merely the "peacemakers" and
"nationbuilders" that this week's headlines say they are.
There were dedicated humanitarians among the dead in Baghdad but for
more than 12 years, the UN Security Council allowed itself to be
manipulated so that Washington and London could impose on the people of Iraq,
under a UN flag, an embargo that resembled a mediaeval siege.
WHO ARE THE EXTREMISTS?
It was this that crippled Iraq and, ironically, concentrated all
domestic power in the hands of the regime, thus ending all hope of a
The other day I sat with Dennis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary
General of the United Nations, and the UN in New York. Halliday was the
senior UN official in Iraq in the mid-1990s, who resigned rather than
administer the blockade.
"These sanctions," he said, "represented ongoing warfare against the
people of Iraq. They became, in my view, genocidal in their impact over
the years, and the Security Council maintained them, despite its full
knowledge of their impact, particularly on the children of Iraq.
"We disregarded our own charter, international law, and we probably
killed over a million people.
"It's a tragedy that will not be forgotten... I'm confident that the
Iraqis will throw out the occupying forces. I don't know how long it will
take, but they'll throw them out based on a nationalistic drive.
"They will not tolerate any foreign troops' presence in their country,
dictating their lifestyle, their culture, their future, their politics.
"This is a very proud people, very conscious of a great history.
"It's grossly unacceptable. Every country that is now threatened by Mr
Bush, which is his habit, presents an outrage to all of us.
"Should we stand by and merely watch while a man so dangerous he is
willing to sacrifice Americans lives and, worse, the lives of others."
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M Muneer A A Khandwalla
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