In a statement, before the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Rachid, a 31-year-old Algerian rebel (The Guardian, 9 March 2003), made an important point: ‘Algerians admire Osama for shaking the notion that the superpowers are invincible.... It takes more than the speeches of bin Laden to turn an Islamist into a terrorist. It takes years of feeling abused. To make me kill, my torture needs to be personal. To send me into a fury, I need flashbacks of suffering, not empty ideological concepts. The Algerian government’s tyranny has made the struggle feel real enough. Terrorist volunteers came running because of the blood that they tasted on their punched lips.’
Earlier, in his 1997 television interview with Peter Arnett (CNN), bin Laden, replying to why he has called for jihad against America, said: ‘The United States has committed acts, extremely unjust, hideous and criminal, through its support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and we believe the US is directly responsible for those killed in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. The US today has set a double standard, calling whoever goes against its injustice a “terrorist”. It wants to occupy our countries, dry our resources, impose agents on us to rule us, and then wants us to agree to all these. If we refuse to do so it says we are terrorists. When the Palestinian children throw stones against the Israeli occupation, the US says they are terrorists. Whereas when Israel bombs the United Nations building in Lebanon when it was full of children and women, the US stopped any plan to condemn Israel.’
There is not a hint of negating Christianity or having a world dominated by Islam.
The main problem is not religion; of course Islam condemns suicide bombing of innocent people.
Religion can always be abused to maintain power, it is as old as history can record.
Islam having become the terrorists’ motto has also become the western politicians’ scapegoat to avoid questioning the moral collapse of western foreign policies in the Middle East or in the Levant.
The Muslim communities in Europe are not perfect, but are under attack.
On the one hand they face poverty, poor housing, high unemployment, cultural clash, Islamophobia based on preconceived misconceptions and anti-Muslim prejudices.
On the other hand, faced with identity crisis in the west, national identity and British culture, they experience a clash between tradition and modernity within. They are constantly reproached for the violence, blamed for not showing communal responsibility, which, given the surge in violent anti-Muslim hate crimes, amounts to ‘collective punishment’.
Many Muslims are traumatised; migrants from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon who have either lost loved ones or are displaced due to war, political or economic crisis caused by western military invasions. Not only are they suffering from flashbacks and nightmares, they are also torn culturally while being violently attacked, denigrated and alienated by the very societies whose moral delinquency has contributed to their crisis of identity and displacement.
What they often experience is a racist, consumerist, emotionally-repressed, snobbish society in the grip of its dying colonial culture in which guilt and moral responsibility are empty phrases, especially when it concerns invasions and carnage.
Considering the UK’s support for US foreign policies in the Middle East; the UK’s continuous support for Israel’s violent apartheid, granting of diplomatic immunity for its alleged war criminals and even banning the boycott of Israeli goods; the UK’s support for Arab rulers, and arms sales to the Saudis while military attacks on civilians in Yemen continue; the UK’s complicity in Bahrain’s human rights abuses; and the UK’s involvement in Syria – to give a few examples – and the intimidation of the Muslim community, it is unlikely to see any improvement unless there is a comprehensive review of British foreign policies and attitudes.