Imperialist powers use a number of tools in their drive to subjugate and exploit other societies and lands. Before resorting to military force, an elaborate propaganda campaign (psychological warfare) is launched in which the target society (or leader) is demonized. If a lie is repeated often enough, people will begin to accept it as truth. To this day, more than 30% of Americans believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the US attacked it in March 2003.
The West’s approach is based on categorizing governments as friendly and hostile. Friendly governments are those that will do what the West demands regardless of how detrimental those policies may be to their own people. Hostile governments are those that want to pursue an independent policy. All Western rulers want to know is that you’re for them; and if you can be their SOB, then they don’t care what else you stand for.
“Friendly” regimes are given a pass regardless of how terrible or criminal their conduct might be. The Zionist regime in occupied Palestine and the Najdi Bedouins in the Arabian Peninsula offer good examples. Despite their atrocious human rights records, both are referred to as governments as opposed to the demeaning word, regime.
In the case of the Najdi Bedouins, they have never held even token elections and do not intend to, if they can get away with it. The West is quite comfortable with that. In the past, it was Saudi family dictatorship, now it has become a one-man dictatorship (or at least that is what Muhammad bin Salman is trying to achieve). Anyone calling for respect for human rights, no matter how politely, is immediately thrown in jail. So why is Saudi Arabia referred to as government and not regime? The simple answer is that it is a puppet of the West and fulfills its demands.
The word regime is reserved for those governments the West considers as enemies, or are not sufficiently obedient. Thus Islamic Iran is branded as a “regime” even though the government and the system in place are completely legitimate and have backing of the overwhelming majority of people. Elections are held regularly and people’s participation is far greater than witnessed in any Western country in modern history.
The same applies to Syria where a determined attempt has been made to overthrow a legitimately elected government. It enjoys the support of a majority of people but one would be hard pressed to find any acknowledgement of this in the corporate owned Western media (the alternate media on the internet is clear on this but there are attempts to censor it).
The Zionist regime in colonized Palestine has been involved in land theft, ethnic cleansing, and mass murder since its implantation in 1948. Palestinians resisting the invaders are branded as terrorists even though according to Western-crafted international law and UN resolutions (the UN is a Western construct) such resistance is completely legitimate. The UN also says that occupied people are entitled to resist by whatever means necessary (emphasis added) to secure their freedom.
Zionist squatters that barge onto Palestinian lands in the West Bank and establish illegal colonies are referred to as “Jewish settlers.” Both words are meant to soften the criminal act that the Zionists are involved in. There is taboo on criticizing anything Jewish; it is immediately branded as anti-Semitism. The word settler is used to invoke memories of the early settlers (confiscators) in North America with their pioneering spirit. That those European “settlers” perpetrated genocides against the indigenous people is also conveniently overlooked.
Let us consider the example of Winston Churchill who is viewed in Western culture as a senior statesman. He was an unapologetic racist and mass murderer. In 1920–1922 when he ordered the use of poison gas against Kurdish tribes in Iraq, he denounced them as “savages.” He even claimed it was better for them to die this way than be ripped apart by cannon fire! He had similar contempt for millions of people that starved to death in India when it was under British colonial rule. Far from accepting responsibility for deaths caused by British policy, Churchill said it was their fault, “They should not breed like rabbits.”
Despite claims to “objectivity,” the Western corporate media is an extension of the elites’ policy of domination and exploitation. That is why Allah (swt) warns us in the noble Qur’an,
O you who have made a firm commitment to Allah! If any iniquitous person comes to you with a [slanderous] tale, verify it lest you cause harm to people unwittingly and afterward be filled with remorse for what you have done (49:06).
Muslims and people of justice would do well to keep this sound advice in mind.
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT).