Bush's Policies Are the Fuel of Islamic Fundamentalism
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American foreign policy since 9/11 has dangerously divided
the world and has marginalized the very people it seeks to help most: moderate
By Syed Ashfaqul Haque
July 8, 2005
It is not just the U.S. that has changed irrevocably since America’s most horrendous attack on September
11, 2001. The whole world has changed
since then, and yet many in the West have little idea of how great the change
But a potentially bigger change is taking
place in Muslim countries, fuelling fanaticism, strengthening fundamentalist
forces and weakening the secular base. Even Bangladesh, which has a long history as a moderate Muslim nation,
has not been spared the fallout of 9/11.
The greatest tragedy of 9/11 is not what
the U.S. lost on that fatal morning, but what the world has
lost since then -- which is a lot. Muslim support or non-support of al-Qaeda,
Saddam Hussein, or the Taliban have nothing to do with recent changes in the
Muslim world, as moderate Muslims never regarded those ultra-Islamists as
heroes taking on the infidel. Rather, it is America’s post-9/11 policy that has lumped together secular
Muslims and Islamist militants, that has so greatly contributed to the cause
of religious fundamentalism across the globe.
Secular Muslims have been quite understandably
caught on the horns of a dilemma over George W Bush's war on terror, as they
subscribe neither to the terrorism being perpetrated in the name of Islam
nor to Bush's post-9/11 foreign policy, which he has pursued with outrageous
THE IRAQ WAR AND FALSE CLAIMS
Like other Muslim nations, Bangladesh could not support the second U.S.-led invasion of
Iraq based on a false claim of weapons of mass destruction.
The attempt of Bush and his “well-dressed butler” -- as The Economist once
described Tony Blair -- to link Osama bin Laden's Taliban with Iraq’s former dictator Saddam failed to convince even
their most rabid supporters in the Muslim world.
Feeding the world half-truths and distorted
facts, the U.S. war-mongers delved into this dirty war in Iraq, which has led to the killings of thousands of innocent
civilians and a strangely spectacular rise of the insurgency. America’s war against its former henchman Saddam turned the
Iraqi people into targets of assault of both the insurgents and U.S. war allies alike.
Needless to say, the false claims of WMDs,
the brutal torture of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi jails,
and the abuse of the Quran by a few U.S. soldiers at Guantanamo Bay have enraged Muslims.
The alliance's false justifications of an unjust war have spread hatred toward
the U.S. policy of aggression.
The heat of the simmering anger against
this mindless war can be felt among the predominantly secular Muslims of Bangladesh.
This general feeling has set the stage for fundamentalist forces to capitalize
on the general sentiment against present U.S. policy. Many previously unheard-of religious groups
have held rallies, burned Bush in effigy and chanted slogans against the U.S., events which secular Muslims saw little to object
NEW WORLD ORDER
Under post-9/11 U.S. policy, the countries that were reluctant to join
Bush's war on terror are regarded as allies of terrorism. Such arrogance from
America's cowboy president has only encouraged the dangerous
divisions in the world, forcing many to believe that Bush’s war is a sort
of American jihad, its own brand of fundamentalism, against both Islamist
terrorists as well as peace-loving Muslims.
As formulated by the U.S., the world had a new order, with South Asian nuclear
rivals India and Pakistan scrambling to win Bush’s heart first. India leaped to kill a few birds with one strategic stone.
That forced military-ruled Pakistan to choose, and it has chosen to take a guarded “secular
route” amidst the outcry from its mullahs.
A new South Asian order based solely on
loyalty to U.S. policy at the expense of its moderate religious character
is not what Bangladesh wanted. So Bangladesh not only turned down the U.S.
offer by not supporting the U.S. war in Iraq, it has remained oblivious to
the fact that ultra-Islamic militants may choose this very country, ridden
with corruption and embroiled in confrontational politics, as their next destination.
Sadly, secular Muslims in Bangladesh have witnessed the rise of religious hard-liners
who conveniently cash in on anti-America sentiment. All of the grenade attacks,
explosions, assaults on the Ahmadiyya [Muslim] community, and the activities
of radical religious groups have that have occurred in Bangladesh since 9/11
are much like similar events that have taken place in Pakistan. Many people
believe that these attacks are by-products of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that the U.S. was unusually quick to spread its terror war into
Asia, and was painfully slow to help the affected countries respond to the
Secret trials, eavesdropping on the Internet,
racial profiling, and mass detentions now form the essence of U.S. policy, or at least it seems so.
Rights groups have been accusing the U.S. of gross violations of basic civil and human rights,
with Amnesty International observing that the war on terror must not be an
excuse to deny these rights.
The controversial Patriot Act that allows
U.S. agencies to “sneak and peak,” in other words search people's homes and
offices without a search warrant – have sent a collective chill down the spine
of the Muslim population in America, severely curtailing their freedom since
The situation is so suffocating that scores
of Bangladeshi-Americans have started telling their relatives back home that
they no longer want to live in what was once known as the land of freedom.
A Bangladeshi professor living in New
York had to part with his 30-year-old
beard in fear of harassment by law-enforcement agencies and anti-Muslim groups.
A 16-year-old girl, Tashnuba Hayder, was
arrested in New York City by the FBI on charges of “domestic terrorism.” But
after weeks of intense interrogation, she was deported to Bangladesh for violating immigration laws! The American media
ran stories on the traumatized Tashnuba and her family, depicting the chilling
details of police-state intimidation and anti-Muslim persecution.
Many such stories of harassment exist,
and these tales of horror have won America more foes than friends in Bangladesh.
The Bush Administration must understand
Islam before deciding who it should fight with or against. The U.S. leadership must accept the conventional wisdom that
war is by no means the only remedy to terrorism. Also, Bush must realize the
fact that any real change in the Muslim world should come from within and
not be imposed by US military power.
A good strategy for the U.S. would be to focus on changing the internal dynamics
of Muslim countries by strengthening secular forces. But it is high time the
U.S. abandon its military atrocities and its foreign policy
of arrogance, and tries to understand why it is so hated over much of the
There is not much to argue about, if one
says that only a policy of patience and pragmatism will help the Bush Administration
win over the Muslim world. At least, I won't.
The author is Joint News Editor of The
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