End Occupation to Secure Peace

The Arab and Muslim world has endured decades of suffering, humiliation, oppression, occupation and exploitation by some of the most militarily powerful Western countries, particularly Britain, the United States of America and Israel. It seems that the brutality meted out to these Muslim victims has resulted in the biggest attack on American and British soil since World War 2 –” dubbed 9/11 and 7/7.

The latest London bombings killed more than 50 civilians and wounded over 700, eliciting howls of outrage and condemnation. Not unexpectedly, the ubiquitous Al Qaeda was immediately blamed for the blasts. The Anglo-American led invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and its unflinching military, economic and political support for Israel’s 50-year illegal occupation of Palestine, has led many to speculate the chickens are finally coming home to roost.

Blaming Osama bin Laden for every bomb blast in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and elsewhere will not, unfortunately, unravel the root cause of the problem. It is now opportune for these countries to be introspective and reflect deeply as to the likely motivation for these devastating attacks. Statements to the effect that “they hate our freedom” or ‘need democracy” will obfuscate the dilemma perpetuate the current imbroglio.

The indiscriminate nature and the targeting of the innocent civilians have caused widespread shock at the diabolical deed. The power of the media, BBC, Sky and CNN has brought the tragedy into the living rooms causing mass revulsion and condemnation. And yet, this crime is but a fraction of the daily horror visited upon the innocent people in occupied Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.

There has been, justifiably, near universal condemnation of the London bombing by every major religious group, including Muslims. The fact that civilian victims of Western countries are mourned and elicit selective condemnation, and Muslim victims in occupied territories are not even mentioned, smacks of double standards and hypocrisy. Is the value of a Muslim less than that of an American or British or Israeli?

The parade of Western politicians and dignitaries to the Middle East including Laura Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz and others, extolling the virtues of democracy, as if that is the panacea that will bring peace in the region. However, Muslims have seen these democracies transform into tyrannies that have perpetrated ghastly atrocities against mankind.

A glance at the historic record of the West is appalling. The only use of atom bombs was made not by a rogue dictatorship, but the leading democracy in the world, the USA. The two world wars that caused the lives of 60 million people and decimated entire cities were committed mainly by European powers. The horrors of Bosnia and Kosovo were committed by a democratically elected Serbian government. The largest democracy India, has 750 000 troops occupying, butchering and raping Kashmir. And Israel, falsely touted as a democracy, invades, occupies, violates, maims, destroys and brutalizes the land, homes and lives of the Palestinians with impunity.

These are not the values that any Muslim will aspire to. The most important political value for the West is freedom. For Muslims, honor and dignity are paramount in their value system. Tormenting the prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Baghram air base and Guantanamo by desecrating the Qur’an, exposing their nakedness, forcing them to simulate sex and other forms of ignominy, is unforgivable.

Ruthless puppet regimes have been propped up by these democratic countries to demoralize, exploit, pillage and plunder the resources for the benefit of the elite and their Western masters. Legitimate resistance against the savage dictatorships and monarchies in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are being labeled “extremists, fundamentalists and terrorists – linked to Al Qaeda.” Resistance organization fighting for their liberation against oppressive regimes, such as Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are denigrated and vilified by the West.

Islam has emerged as the ideological rallying point for Muslims everywhere as they aspire for genuine liberation from the fetters of both local despotism by illegitimate leaders and global authoritarianism. By presenting Islam as evil and Muslims as loathsome, the West is trying to justify their own illegitimate, immoral invasion and occupation.

Whoever has been responsible for this dastardly act, it would be a pity if Britain would follow America’s course in spurning to deal with the root problem which is the West’s foreign policy. Unfortunately, Tony Blair has already declared a tightening of laws targeting Muslims, a measure likely to worsen the climate of Islamophobia. Post 9/11, the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) stated that eighty per cent of the country’s 1.8 million Muslims say that they have been discriminated against.

It is critical for the West to grasp that the attacks on their land has a strategic objective: to compel these democracies to withdraw their military forces from the occupied territories, whether in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan or the Arabian Peninsula. The absence of justice in the world order will perpetuate occupation, oppression and terrorism. The removal of these factors will be a necessary step towards restoring peace and security in the world.