America it appears cannot exist without an enemy that threatens its very existence … only a few decades ago communism and the warnings such an ideology posed to capitalism was vilified to such an extent that an entire segment of our world’s demographic was painted with the Devil’s brush.
Today America’s governing elite has cast its ire on Iran and by association the very faith that it has come to embody: Shia Islam. While it is important to note that Iran does not, and most pertinently, never claimed to represent Shia Islam, it remains nevertheless true that Iran sits a majority Shia country, with a religious tradition that stretches over 14 centuries.
But one country’s religious identity does not grant that nation’s ownership over a faith, and it certainly should not permit for any form of misguided sectarian profiling on the basis of a warped sense of political ethno-centrism.
Whatever do I mean? Allow me to put this plainly since we have somewhat reached a point of no return in the structure of our political disagreements and our officials’ propensity to play prejudices as weapons of political mass destabilization.
Iran has been aligned to Shia Islam, and Shia Islam to Iran so that anti-Iranianism could translate into anti-Shiism and thus serve two purposes at the same time: America would have its great foe and Saudi Arabia could re-enact the crusade by hailing Wahhabism the true face of Islam.
If US President Donald Trump’s trip to Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) this May is anything to go by then we may find ourselves staring down at a very dangerous precipice - that of sectarian fascism to mask very materialistic geopolitical ambitions.
Iran’s link to Shia Islam only ever became a problem in 1979 when a people chose to defy one tyrant and the imperialist construct of the British Crown … why is that? Why is it that Iran’s traditions never once warranted any form of criticism when the Shah happily squandered his people’s sovereign rights to inflate corporations ‘s bottom lines?
Why is it that Iran’s religious identity became a problem the minute its institutions were reborn into a republic? Objectivity dictates that we look into those interests an independent Iran disturbed, and those arguments world powers threw to convince their nationals that the Islamic Republic was an unfathomable danger.
While many debates I’m sure will be spent on Iran and Iran’s role at the world table, what of the prejudices Iranians, and beyond, all Shia Muslims have suffered for their faith and ethnicity were labelled nefarious?
If conflating a religion to a nationality was not perverse enough, it appears the United States of America is now playing directly into Saudi Arabia’s little book of repression by targeting Shia organizations.
If you recall it was President Trump, who, from Riyadh invited the world to think in binary terms so that passions could replace logic, and legal arguments be drowned in a torrent of self-righteous grand-standism: “Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this earth.” US President Donald Trump said during his visit to Riyadh- Saudi Arabia.”
Ironically Mr Trump adopted the very language that Terror has used when referring to Shia Muslims - those apostates Wahhabism, alongside all other religious communities, would like to disappear from existence.
It would be a tragedy to revert to a time when one particular group is shun, labelled, and altogether persecuted on account of its beliefs. It would be even more tragic to see a self-proclaimed democracy exploit the tools of fascism at home to promote its geopolitical interests abroad , and that of its allies.
And yet America is doing just that …
This week the Alavi Foundation will plead its case before yet another judge in yet another legal round against the state after allegations were lodged that the charitable organization, because of its Shia Muslim identity and its Iranian identity, should be disbanded and its assets seized.
Stuck in litigation hell since September 11th, 2013, the Alavi Foundation is facing an uncertain future. Needless to say that America’s broader Shia Muslim community is feeling rather anxious over such development, as many fear such a precedent will open the floodgate of repression.
At present both the Government and the judgment creditors are seeking to obtain the Foundation's 60% share in the building at 650 Fifth Avenue as well as the Foundation's other properties-Islamic Education Centers, schools and clinics in Texas, New York, California, Maryland, and land the Foundation owns in Virginia. If the Government and the judgment creditors were to win their cases, they would be entitled to seize and take ownership of all of these properties.
A charitable organization dedicated to furthering education, promoting interfaith relations and humanitarianism, the Alavi Foundation has been irreproachable in its conduct for over 40 years … its only crime: sitting a Shia organization in 20th century America.
If such a voice was to be smothered America’s Shia community would lose one of its pillars, allowing for hate and prejudices to win over tolerance and reason. Since 1973 the Alavi Foundation has donated an excess of $50 million towards a myriad of health and education programs - pushing and promoting excellence and democratic values both at home (the United States) and abroad.
“Our charitable activities promote the study of Persian culture, language, art, literature, and civilization. We have long supported programs in interfaith studies. We stand for democracy, freedom of expression, religious coexistence and pluralism, and equal rights for all” - Alavi Foundation.
The voice we should fight to preserve, safeguard and nurture, America’s government want to see crush so that no doubt Saudi Arabia could rejoice before the strength of its own Wahhabist lobby.
We live dangerous times indeed when the Free World offers cover to fascism and calls it legal due process.