Religion is Not the Cause of Radicalism: The 100-year Western Policies have Created the Quagmire

Nowadays, we hear a lot about Islam from people who do not have much, if any, understanding of the faith they so confidently denigrate. Even though these emotional outbursts or hate-mongering annoy decent people, for the sake of the greater good, these can be overlooked.

However, when a disrespectful comment comes from the respected leaders and trusted voices in Washington with a huge influence, who are supposed to protect American citizens from abuse and attack, it is terribly disappointing and alarming. It is extremely painful to hear them blaming Islam for the radicalism in the world today.

On May 29, talking to the Australian Broadcasting Corp television network, discussing about the Islamic State (IS), Arizona Senator McCain commented in a way that clearly implied that Islam is responsible for radicalism and terrorism, he said: "I think [IS] can do terrible things, and I worry a lot about what is happening with the Muslim faith, and I worry about a whole lot of things about it …. "

Well, why people like the Senator, ‘worry a lot about the Muslim faith’? Do they worry about Christianity when the white supremacists, or the Klu Klux Klan do hate crimes? Or, do they blame Judaism for the atrocities perpetrated by the Jewish terrorist groups like Irgun, or the Stern Gang before 1948, or the ones who are doing the disservice to the Jewish cause now? Do they hold Hinduism or Buddhism responsible for the atrocities the Hindu extremists in India or the Buddhist extremists (in Myanmar) committing against civilians?

Good and evil, moderates and extremists exist among followers of all faiths, in all cross-sections of humanity. What purpose does it serve to isolate Islam except to denigrate it and to antagonize and anger a huge segment of humanity?

Islam defined a ‘crime against humanity’ – 14 centuries before the International Criminal Court did -- by a factor of one. The Quran says that if anyone kills an innocent person (irrespective of the faith, race, etc. of the victim) God would consider it as if he/she has killed the entire humanity, and if anyone saves a life, it would amount to be saving the entire humanity (Quran 5:32).

If Islam is to be blamed for radicalism, then 1.6 billion Muslims would all be terrorists. Instead, surveys after surveys of reputable organizations like Gallup and PEW confirm that overwhelming Muslims in the world dislike organizations like the Islamic State and do not condone violence against civilians. It is worthwhile to note that 95% of the victims of terrorism are innocent Muslims.

The Quran defines One Ever-True religion for mankind as complying with the dictates of conscience that God has empowered human beings with (Quran 30:30). The “sharia” is the path that leads to God. Anything good belongs to “sharia”. Recently a reputed Muslim scholar shared his view that the American Constitution is a ‘sharia’ for Muslims because it is fair, it complies with the dictates of conscience. As another leader –the President of Tunisia – recently commented: “Islam is never in contradiction with democracy.”

Seeing that moderate Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood who became non-violent since 1973, are outlawed and persecuted during the repressive, secular authoritarian regimes under the patronage of the West, die-hard Jihadist and Salafist movements sprang up in places like Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria in 1980s and after that and spread. However, in Tunisia after the 2011 Jasmine Revolution, when the moderate Islamists found the opportunity to participate in politics have been demonstrating remarkable flexibility to adjust in working with the secularists to make democracy work and defeat radicalism.

No radicalism existed in the Middle East before 1919, as per the King-Crane Commission’s report after an extensive survey of 36 cities and places in the region then. As per the report the entire region was euphoric about President Woodrow Wilson’s offer to help establish democracy in the Middle East. Most unfortunately, President Wilson became ill and incapacitated, taking full advantage of America’s absence in the final peace negotiation in 1919, Britain and France implemented their secret Sykes-Picot Agreement made in 1916 to divide the region to serve their colonial interests, thus created a conflict-prone region. They did the ‘original sin’. However, after the Cold War started in the early 1950s, under the influence of neoconservatives like the Dulles brothers, the United States of America abandoned its policy of promoting democracy abroad and went headlong with the militaristic agenda of confrontation. Since then the possibility of peace evaporated from the region.

By polarizing the people, ousting democratically elected leaders and replace them with ruthless tyrants — like the popular prime minister of Iran, Mosaddegh in 1953 was replaced by the Shah who repressed the country for the next 25 years— or support and sustain undemocratic governments to subjugate and control the region, while the transnational alliances of vested interests exploit the area, America set the stage for the oil rich region to burn in turmoil for a long time. Extreme situation breeds extremism: radicalism took root in the area and spread worldwide from the region.

Extremely unfair policies towards the Palestinians, creating an epic injustice in our time, has long been fueling an inferno of hate and anger especially among the vast growing young generations. As James Baker, the former Secretary of State, pointed out recently that America cannot be a part of the solution by being ‘Israel’s lawyer’.

History is a testament to the fact that when people are subjugated and economically strangled, they rebel. When a rebellion uses an ideology such as that of a religion to strengthen its movement, it turns into radicalism. The root is exploitation, repression, and the denial of basic human rights.

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