History Shows, the United States is Not Anti-Muslim

Why is it that the United States, despite its apparently reasonable intentions, is so successfully demonized by its adversaries in the Muslim world? According to this op-ed article from Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, the reasons are partly rooted in history, and partly due to the al-Qaeda 'Frankenstein' Washington created to battle the Soviets in Afghanistan.

By Shahid M. Amin*

May 18, 2006
Pakistan - Dawn - Home Page (English)

Pakistani Muslims Express Their Hatred for the United States.
Is Such Hatred Warranted, Given the Historical Record? (above).

September 11: A Day that Irrevocably
Altered the Course of History. (below).


IT is becoming increasingly apparent that the Islamic world is passing through a period of crisis, which is both external and internal. Externally, there is a growing distrust, which is developing into an actual or potential clash, between Muslim countries on the one side, and the West, particularly the U.S., on the other.

The internal crisis in the Islamic world can be seen in the growing cleavages of Muslim societies, and which is assuming the shape of a battle for the soul of Islam. A relentless struggle is taking place within Islamic societies between the traditionalists and extremists on the one side, and the moderates and modernists on the other.

It is also notable that the external crisis is fuelling the internal crisis, and vice versa. Moreover, the crisis has now acquired global dimensions, particularly after September 11. The future of the Muslim world is at stake, and it is important for all Muslims to make a close study of this phenomenon as dispassionately as possible with a view to separating myth from reality.

First, let us examine the external dimensions of the crisis, which is perhaps taking shape as a clash of civilizations. Here, one must look back into history to understand the nature of the crisis. The historic record suggests that by and large, Islamic countries did coexist peacefully with non-Muslims. The Ottoman Empire [Turkey] had formed alliances with Christian countries, and this was also the case with many Muslim rulers in India. Within Islamic states, Muslims were generally tolerant of those not of their faith and living inside their countries.

For instance, Muslims ruled India, Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria for five centuries or more. But at the end of their rule, these countries continued to have large non-Muslim majorities. On the other hand, when Muslim states in Spain and Crimea were reconquered by the Christians, Muslim populations were quickly and almost totally annihilated. During the Middle Ages, many Jews found sanctuary in the Muslim world as they fled persecution in Christian Europe. Muslim rulers often appointed Jews (and Christians and Hindus) to important positions in their administrations. The best Jewish religious literature was written by scholars living in Muslim countries like Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere. Muslim tolerance had as its source the teachings of the Holy Quran, where one surah [chapter] states, "there is no compulsion in religion," and another surah says "to you your religion and to me mine."

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) signed his first peace treaty with the Jews of Medina. In the golden period of Islam from the 8th to 16th centuries, Muslims excelled in science, philosophy, the arts and literature, taking inspiration from the writers of ancient Greece, Rome and India. They developed a truly holistic civilization.

The Muslim began in the 16th century, as Muslim societies lost their vibrancy. From the 18th century onward, the decline in Muslim political fortunes accelerated, when the Ottomans RealVideo in Europe and the Mughals RealVideo in India lost ground. Distrust between Muslims and European Christians, which had taken root during the Crusades, increased during the Ottoman domination of East Europe from the 14th century onward. The rise of the West after the 17th century saw European powers taking global control as imperialists and colonialists. In this period, Muslims lost ground mainly to European Christians. This is a key reason for the simmering Muslim resentment against the West, which has now come out into the open.

In more recent times, the loss of Jerusalem and the implantation of Israel into the heart of the Arab world turned Muslim and Arab anger initially against Britain and subsequently against the United States, which assumed the mantle of Israel's protector. The Palestinian issue has been and continues to be a festering wound on the Muslim body politic. More than any other cause, this has generated Muslim anger and resentment against the West.

Afghans Who Collaborated With
the Soviets Hung By Mujahideen in 1980.


Paradoxically, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan also contributed toward the growing chasm between civilizations. For geostrategic reasons and as a part of its own rivalry with the Soviet Union, the U.S. decided to support the Muslim Jihad against Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. However, an unintended consequence of this Jihad was that Islamic extremists and fundamentalists gained strength and have made Afghanistan their sanctuary and training ground ever since.

I was Pakistan's ambassador to Moscow during the 1980s and remember well the Soviet warning that these Islamic fundamentalists, who were being nurtured by the U.S. and Pakistan, would at some point turn against the latter. It is evident that the jihadists have emerged as a kind of Frankenstein and that now threatens to destroy their creators. Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda, apart from the Taliban, are very much a product of the Afghan war.

Their anti-U.S. campaign began around 1995, when U.S. facilities in Saudi Arabia were attacked and some damage was done to the World Trade Center in New York [bombing in 1993]. This was followed by the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa, in which hundreds of African bystanders were killed, followed by an attack on an American ship in a Yemen port [the USS Cole]. Then came the horror of September 11, which really changed the course of world history.

To take revenge for September 11, the U.S. and its allies attacked and occupied Afghanistan in late 2001. But this didn't ended the fighting in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are now staging something of a comeback. Similarly, the al-Qaeda network has been weakened, but has survived the American-led onslaught.

World Trade Center Bombing of 1993.

[RealVideoWorld Trade Center Bombing, 1993]


The American military invasion of Iraq in 2003, carried out on the pretext that the Saddam regime possessed weapons of mass distinction, reinforced the belief that the United States is targeting one Muslim country after another. This perception has brought new recruits into the ranks of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups. These Islamic extremists are in the forefront of the guerilla warfare against the occupation forces in Iraq. The growing possibility of an American attack on Iran, in order to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapons capability, will further inflame the situation and radicalize Muslim public opinion.

It is also worth noting that the Islamic extremists are currently engaged in a relentless hate campaign, and have sought to demonize the U.S. in every possible way. Since September 11, the extremists have taken advantage of Muslim anti-Americanism, in which even the more moderate have joined, to paint an unbalanced and one-sided interpretation of events.

Any objective analysis would refute the misconceived notion that the U.S. has an anti-Muslim policy. By taking military action against Yugoslavia In the 1990s, it was the United States that secured the liberation of oppressed Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. The emergence in 1991 of six independent Muslim states in Central Asia was the outcome of the collapse of Soviet communism, which had been opposed tooth and nail for decades by the United States.

In the Middle East, it was the U.S. that forced Israeli withdrawals from Sinai, both in 1956 and 1978. The return of the PLO to the West Bank after the Oslo accords in 1993 was due largely to American efforts. In our own region, according to authoritative accounts, it was the U.S. that saved West Pakistan from an Indian invasion after the surrender of Pakistani troops in Dhaka in 1971. Similarly, when there were fears  of war between India and Pakistan in 1999 and again in 2002, it was the U.S. that played the central role of mediator to dissuade India from any kind of military adventure. Continued U.S. diplomatic and economic support has always been and remains a key element in Pakistan's quest for security against India.

As for the American invasion of Afghanistan, it was the al-Qaeda, operating from safe havens in that country, that first attacked the United States, and not the other way around. The U.S. attacked Afghanistan to dismantle the terrorist network there, and not as part of any global plan to conquer a Muslim country. Afghanistan is an impoverished country and there is no evidence that the U.S. has exploited any of its negligible resources.

Moreover, the Taliban regime was very isolated and was disliked even by its immediate Muslim neighbors, including Iran, which at one time threatened to go to war against it. It is a fact that the Taliban regime was practicing a narrow-minded version of Islam that was anti-women, anti-entertainment and anti-education. Its ouster has been welcomed by large sections of Afghan society, and above all, by Afghan women, who had been virtually under house arrest during its rule.

But the U.S. invasion of Iraq that followed in 2003 has been rightly condemned by most observers as a unilateral use of force based on false pretexts. Its real objective was the ouster of the Saddam regime. However, it's worth noting that a recent poll in Iraq shows that nearly three-fourth of Iraqis approve of U.S. action to oust Saddam. The Shiite majority had been badly suppressed by the Saddam regime, as were the Kurds, and it is understandable that they would welcome the change. These two groups now rule Iraq for the first time in its history.

Kidnapped By Zarqawi: Many Innocent Foreigners Have Been Executed.


The resistance to U.S. military occupation appears to be coming from Islamic extremists like Al-Zarqawi and foreign suicide bombers. They have killed far more Iraqis than the U.S.-led coalition forces in a ferocious guerilla war in which many innocent foreign hostages, including Pakistanis, have been executed.

It is notable that the Iraqi government, elected in free elections and recognized by the Arab League, the OIC and the U.N., has not demanded the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Nor has this demand been made by either the Kurds nor any top Shiite leader, like Ayatollah Sistani or Al-Hakim. For these reasons, one must question the impression of many people in Pakistan, particularly the Islamic extremists, that the fight in Iraq is a war of national resistance, and that most Iraqis are engaged in fighting foreign troops.

(To be concluded)

The writer served in the Pakistan Foreign Service from 1958 to 1997, including 18 years as Ambassador. He was Ambassador to Libya, Soviet Union, France, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.


WindowsVideoInternet Broadcast, Iraq: Video by Al-Qaeda Commander in Iraq Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi. The video culminates in footage of Al-Zarqawi with masked fighters, firing an automatic weapon, and the firing of what the leader of the fighters claims are new missiles developed by "the brothers," April 25, 00:017:36, MEMRI

"You [Bush] should know, oh arrogant liar, that we confront your dreams with our blood and our body parts, and what is still to come is even more terrible and bitter, Allah willing."

Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda Terrorist