First, September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. Then sequence of bombings of resort hotel in Bali, train station in Madrid and under ground metro in London. Arrest of alleged (nothing has yet proven in the court of law) Muslim terrorists in Britain and now in Toronto. These events eventually lead to the thorny question: Is some thing wrong with Islam? Why Muslims youths are so mad at the West (West basically implies to American imperialism). Why do they attempt to destroy societies where they were born, raised and economically thrived. Societies for which their parents struggled hard to be part and to establish themselves. Today back home, millions dream, roam around embassies and spend untold sum to get visas to enter into a Western country. We need to look at root causes for this paradox and an unbiased sole searching.
Problems that Muslims are facing in the West did not arise over night. They have deep historical roots. The most important is the deplorable and pathetic situation of Palestinians, brought upon them by the Goliath Israel during the last fifty years, and supported blindly by Western countries (only denounced sporadically in diplomatic languages). The fact is that denouncement of Israel by Western countries is meaningless given the every day reality of miserable Palestinian condition on ground.
Palestine is a sore wound in the heart of every Muslim (practicing or non-practicing alike) and in fact among millions of impartial and sensitive non-Muslim citizens of the world. If West would have resolved Palestine-Israel issue even unevenly, the biggest complaint of the Muslim world would have buried. At least, educated and matured Muslims would have accepted the fact that Palestinian card does no longer hold much water to blame the West.
In recent history, Muslims in mass were killed by Christians in former Yugoslavia, while for years West was engaged only in diplomatic talk instead of armed intervention. Although order and peace were restored at the end, but it was done too reluctantly and too late. Thousands of people were already sacrificed, predominantly Bosnian Muslims.
More recently, Bush administration and its conservative allies tried to impose their messianic dream of taming Middle East into American-style democracy and Western-type liberal society. Invasion of Iraq and its illegal occupation was their first attempt, which appears to be failed miserably. This provided clear ammunition to millions of Muslims all over the world that West is against Islam. After all, there have been many other countries with ruthless dictators whose hands were (and are) full with heinous crimes and genocides, why were not any action taken against them?
Chechnya in former Soviet Union is another case that begs Western support for decades but of no consequence because Chechnyans are Muslims. Their continued plight is not a concern for the West that preaches justice and democratic principles for every one on each occasion, but lacks action where it is needed most.
Continued subjugation of most Middle Eastern population under dictator and kingship with tacit support of the West is another clear dichotomy of what West preaches on the value of democracy and human right and what citizens of that region have to face daily on the ground.
The other side of the coin
Muslims are not an invisible minority in the West. They are in millions with great power and influence once they join their forces. They are well educated, well established, successful businessmen and professionals, at least in North America. Their living standard and average earnings are not different from a typical American or Canadian.
The rage against the West and its institution is not that Muslims face specific discrimination (at least not up to now), but reasons that I spelled out earlier. Most notably: daily inhumane and deplorable treatment of Palestinians by Israelis with implicit (though complete) support of the West, daily killings of innocent Iraqis by the hellish environment created by America and its allies, and crushing of local democratic movements under Western nominated and blessed dictators in many Middle Eastern countries.
Islam is a very serious business for Muslims, irrespective of whether they practice or not. Quran is not Bible or any other Holy book as in other religions. Every dot in Quran is straight from God, narrated by Prophet Mohammad. Concept of “Jihad” is clearly stated in Quran, though there could be some interpretations. However, common believe among Muslims is not to take aggressions passively, rather respond with full force given right resource and situation.
On the one hand, young Muslims in the West are equipped with such strong believe. Their young minds are also very susceptible to orthodox interpretations of Islam by conservative Mullahs. They are also very resourceful in terms of education, skill and money. On the other hand, many of them are disgusted with Western materialism and daily plight of Muslims by the hands of Western powers. They are looking for alternative meanings in life. Advancement in technology and internet provided additional advantage in terms of quick gathering of knowledge and dissemination of their message to millions of similar thinking minds. This created a very toxic cocktail with unimaginable consequences.
What to do?
Solution is very complex and time intensive. It requires ingenuity, patience and unbiased sole searching by all sides. First, West has to provide concrete evidence on ground: whether it is Palestine, Iraq or any other Middle Eastern country. West has to prove that it is not indifferent to Muslims’ plight and it is doing some thing positive in real terms. Actions that every resident of the Muslim world can see, touch and feel, not just being served with promises and fancy diplomatic sentences.
Muslim scholars (not necessarily specialized in religious learning) have to analyze Quran with open mind and try to resolve its compatibility in societies with Western values, openness and multi-religious practices.
Muslim community in North America can not hide the truth by saying that the problem is not unique with Muslims or Islam, rather this is faced by all minorities. The fact is that this is uniquely a Muslim issue and they have to look for specific solutions. For example, criminal activities, drug trafficking and money laundering is not the monopoly of a particular ethnic group. Each group is involved in some degree depending on circumstances, opportunities, risk preference and economic returns. However, when it comes to terrorism against the West, why only Muslims are implicated all over the world? After all, there are so many countries and societies that have been suffering by the Western imperialism and indifference? But they are not planning or blowing up stations, towers and institutions. Genocide was committed in Rwanda right before UN supervision and Western forces, but no Rwandan was implicated even for planning a single treacherous act against the West.