As Syrian government forces fired again today on protestors in Dara’a, Latakia, and other cities, the NYT’s Nick Kristof posted these two tweets, which are haunting me. The hashtag was #Syrianfear.
I backpacked through Hama, Syria, in 1982 after the massacres there. The old city in front was just rubble, but a tourist office remained.
“What happened?” I asked, pointing to the 50 acres of rubble. “I don’t see anything,” the man said. “Nothing happened.”
(Hama, north of Damascus, was the site of a government massacre of Islamist opponents to the Ba’ath regime. Since all information was suppressed, there are only estimates of the numbers of dead, ranging from 10,000 to nearly 40,000. Either way, it was one of the largest assaults by an Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East. Chemical weapons were reportedly used, and the city center then razed. For more on the Hama massacre, see Robert Fisk’s Pity the Nation.)
Thank you Lesley … today as we watch the news the ghosts of those who were massacred in Hama haunted us … how can one forget when the murder is still going on … today a protestor was killed in amman (jordan) the scene was horrofying … young people asking for “some” reform were beaten … freedom is sure costly
with no Zion(not Jewish), yes there is no Evil…
So I guess the Ba’athists are Zionists, and Qaddafi is a Zionist, and Hitler and Satan and any other arch-evil figures you can find — Zionists all. Another grand conspiracy. Ca s’explique.
thanks lesley, i think what surprises me is that arab leaders act in the same way today and think that under those ”revolutionary” conditions they can get away with it. perhaps the syrian regime was smart enough this time and is actually trying to respond to the people’s needs before its too late. arabs represent 40% of all oppressive regimes in the world today. even israel which is apparently democratic was built on the oppression of other people. i feel i have discovered that for the first time we are not weak and we can change the world around us.everyone will be a moses from now on.
I hate conspirational talk. I think Middle Easterners keep blaming Zionism for everything, which is pathetic. I think people have had a defeatist lazy attitude for decades, and keep trying to blame zionism. I dont think Zionism really needed to do much at all to push its agenda (if there is such a thing). Others have blamed freemasonry too. Just sad.
Finally now, people are waking up and realizing the only way to grow and find their place in the world is to strive for democracy, freedom, education, industrialization, and economic growth. Land borders, walls, occupation, etc. dont matter anymore. In today’s world, you’re only as important as your economy is.
This is a new Renessaince. A new industrial revolution just like Europe in the 18th and 19th century, but it is economic and its happening in the 21st century in the Middle East.
And its effect is being seen all over the world. Did anyone hear about the demonstrators in Wisconsin last month and the clashes in England yesterday too? People protesting budget cuts. People are waking up from the daze and distraction of reality TV, new electronics, sporting events and video games. Changes in Tunisia, Egypt, etc have made people everwhere realize that they can make a difference, that they need to be involved and scream for their rights. Big companies will not rule the world. But maybe I’m too optimistic.
Where has this term “islamist” come from? Is it a correlation between Islam and terrorists? I watched a clip the other day regarding an EDL(english defence ;eague) protest with one supporter calling for the removal of muslamist laws?
Good question. Nobody talks about Christists or Judaists. I know I have books on it, but no time to consult them right now, so off the top of my head, I’d say it was a right-wing confusion of all Islam with extremist theopolitical Islam — i.e. again, that lack of ability to differentiate among the innumerable strains of Islam, conflating them all into the most extreme one. But again, that’s just the top of my head. Will look into it further.
By the way, if Sharia is banned, then Roman Catholic Church law should be banned on the same grounds, and Jewish halacha also. Obviously I have no affinity for any of the three, but either you ban them all, or you ban none.
Lesley, while I agree that using the word Islamist may be a confused expression referring to extreme theopolitical islam, there is a christist and judeist form, they have different names, but may be seen in evangelical Christianity (of the “Graham” and “Pat Robertson” type), and the Israeli extremist Judaism, and their Judeo-Christian alliance. Main differences from “Islamists” is that the JudeoChristians rule, and control media, while Islamists are based in poor (or poorly educated) third world countries, where if they are brainwashed long enough by extreme extremists, might use violent actions which may be called terroristic. These actions are bound to be more negatively viewed to the Murdochian media than violence in the other direction. Power equals control which equals your opinion being right. Am I being to judgmental here? Is it wrong to say that in this day and age, an American, European, or Israeli life are more precious than an African or Arab persons life? It’s all relative, all about perception. As sad as that may be. That’s why something was named Islamist. Am I making sense?
Chad — yes and no (well, what else did you expect from me?!). I think you’re right re the Islamism=terrorism equation — though as you say, that equation is sometimes true. My main problem is less with the image than with the content of Islamism — i.e. Islam as a theopolitical system:
1. the insistence that mosque and state be the same
2. the astonishing range of influences on Islamist/Salafist thinking, from medieval dogma to 20th-century Marxism
3. the peculiar Salafi nostalgia for the caliphate of the first four caliphs (literally, successors to Muhammad), which I find hard to understand since three of them were assassinated (two by Muslims), and the longest-reigning of them (Uthman) ran a clearly nepotistic and corrupt regime. To put it as mildly as I can, I see no advantage in yearning for a return to those days — especially now, when the Middle East has finally risen up against nepotism and corruption.
I agree, that is another important difference from extremist Judaism or Christianity. Your 3 points ultimately lead to a general belief that is pretty widespread, not only among extremists, that Islam is a complete way and system of life, not just a way to worship god. The same educational system, doesn’t really mention the “bad” parts of the history of Islam, such as the issues in the caliphates and the civil wars of early Islam. Not too many Muslims know enough detail about this to realize that Islam as a system of life was BARELY acceptable in the 7th century AD, let alone in the 21st.
Having said all that, I am fine with it I guess. When someone has the power, they set the rules. Even if its unfair, The weaker side has just got to live with it till they find a way to become the more powerful side. And thus, you get the rise and fall of civilizations. Its all natural. We may dream of a united world, whose “religion” is humanity and where everyone is equal. But that will remain a dream.
Maybe what we really need is to take away the Islamist claim on all of Islam by coming up with a better word for Islamism. I mean, why concede Islam to its extremists?
Media has already found a solution for this. They call it “Moderate Islam”. or if its a person its a “moderate Moslem”. I’ve even heard “Modern Moslem”!! That one cracked me up.
Because that’s what sells today, that’s what makes the ultimate punch line, it was the perfect ideal after 9/11 and for over a decade islam has perhaps become the new “racial/political agenda”, where being “arab” all of a sudden makes you a terrorist, (fyi non-arabs make up more the muslim population than arabs), wearing hijab brings pity on you..all these have somewho fallen under the category being used by cable networks as “islamists”
A friend of mine was verbally insulted in her place of work simply because she wore the islamic head dress.
Old lady customer bitterly referring to my hijab: ‘Have you seen the way you look with that thing on your head, you look hideous and you intimidate me’.
Me:Calmly reply back ‘What is it that intimidates you about me?’
Old lady: ‘Everything, your a disgrace to the company … you should be fired’.
Me:’You don’t even know me’.
Old lady:’I dont need to, your in no position to comment on my point of view about you’.
Maybe we should all wear signs on our foreheads titled: “Don’t Panic – I’m Islamic”
But the panicky customer clearly had it wrong: you are in such a position, of course, and you just did comment. Good. So long as the hijab is your choice, as it clearly is, I am entirely with you.
(Point of fact: Arab Muslims are only about 20% of all Muslims worldwide.)
Rana — here’s a stunningly trivial but possibly ironic afterthought: that woman’s intrusive rudeness and judgmentalism suddenly reminded me very much of comments made to me when I was one of the first to wear a miniskirt… and around much the same time, when I decided to cut my hair to an inch long all round (think Jean Seberg in A Bout de Souffle).
@Rana: I would have liked to call it “ignorance” that the person would treat you like this. But, watching the media and how it presents Islam, and how the average person perceives Islam, its not too surprising, unfortunately. Also depends on where you live in the USA (North vs South, Big city vs. Small town, College town vs. Farm town, etc.).
I have one note about this. There is clearly an ignorance of the average American about Islam, leading to the perception that Islam = Islamism = Extremist Islam, which leads to some level of anxiety about Muslims within the American society. I think one factor contributing to this is that I feel that Muslims dont seem to mix within the society as much as other minorities who become more entwined within society. I think both the Moslem and the American communities are responsible for this separation. Does anyone agree with this? and if yes, what do you think is the cause?
You said “Another grand conspiracy.” I am not able to agree. If we are complaining about extremism, then we should criticize both sides. We should keep in mind that violence exploits the contrary to survive. I dont mean to give history lectures here but take Ottoman Empire, for more than 600 years, people lived in peace. No assasinations, no terrorist bombings took place, other than individual crimes which were unusual. People lived in peace [….]. Racism always creates the counterpart and as you may know, racism is banned in Islam. But what if the oppressed had no other chance since they were only offered this by their dictator regimes? And if they are seeking a saviour, and their saviour is nothing but their death? [….]
After the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the Mideast was designed by the global powers and all todays regimes were designed by those powers. In every country, like Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Algeria etc. the regimes or dictators were favored by those powers to take place who were only representing the minority of their people. And most of these fictive countries’ borders drawn with a ruler, and the ruler was of course the winners of WWI.
From the philosophical and ontological point of view, everything that exists, calls for between perfection and decadence which is clearly mentioned in Qoran. Personally I welcome both the perfection and decadence with a mystical approach as I am also one of them. [….] Perfection and decadence! Now guess whose turn is it?