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US opens a new front against Islam, Muslims

Our Washington Correspondent

The US State department’s recent report on the treatment of Christians in 78 countries is more about demonising Islam and Muslims than about seeking protection for Christians. A shameless rehash of the west’s anti-Muslim propaganda of the last several years, it puts the seal of official approval on the new crusade unofficially launched after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, when Islam replaced communism as Christendom’s strategic enemy.

The lengthy document - issued on July 22 as instructed by the US congress - almost exclusively targets Muslim countries for special censure, reserving its most severe criticism for Iran, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, while blaming others for their failure to accommodate proselytising missionaries hell-bent on converting Muslims.

The report, if a rehash can be called that, is the end-product of a campaign by a coalition of Christian fundamentalists and pro-Israel forces in the US using their considerable financial and political clout to dictate to a congress and an administration that have already established their anti-Islamic and pro-Zionist credentials, anyway.

Even in its defence of Christians, the document is selective, leaving out in the cold those it considers to be actual, or indeed potential, enemies of Israel. For example, Palestinian Christians - surely one of the most oppressed religious communities in the world - do not figure at all in the section on Israel which focuses on the harassment of Jehova’s witnesses by Orthodox Jews.

But the section on Saudi Arabia asserts that ‘freedom of religion does not exist’ there. It goes on to focus on a few notorious cases of harassment to create the impression that an enveloping environment of persecution exists in the kingdom.

However, perhaps because the country is a US proxy, the report concedes that although forbidden by law, most private religious practice proceeds without government interference, and that private religious services ‘are held regularly on the grounds of at least one US diplomatic facility in Saudi Arabia’ - an inadverdent admission that Uncle Sam and his Christian associates are above the law.

The report does not say that Islamic activists are the most persecuted religious group in the kingdom, since it is clearly happy with that. Nor does it seek to change the friendly relations between Washington and the ruling Al Saud mafiosi, as those links almost exclusively favour the US.

The reason for the swipe at the kingdom is not to discredit the House of Saud but to demonise Islam, given that in the eyes of most non-Mulims the system of government there is Islamic, and that in any case, Islam’s two holiest sites are also there.

The document’s censure of Sudan, on the other hand, is a direct attack on the government of general Umar Hasan al-Bashir, which Washington seeks to overthrow because of its declared commitment to an Islamic system of government, its opposition to normalisation of relations with Israel and its friendly links with Iran.

In Sudan, it says, ‘forced conversion to Islam of Christians, animists, and other non-Muslims takes place as part of government policy.’ The report also accuses Khartoum of restricting churches and harassing clergy, adding: ‘There are reports that many Christians are victims of slave raids and forced conversion, and that some Christian children have been forces into re-education camps where they are given Arab names and raised as Muslims.’

This diatribe is lifted straight out of the propaganda literature of the London-based Christian Solidarity International (CSI), which takes exceptional interest in the war in Southern Sudan, and from the lurid coverage of the conflict by the western media. Both are designed to provide a back-up for the US-led western strategic decision to break up Sudan into a Christian south and a Muslim north as a prelude to the establishment of a coalition of Christian States in Central and East Africa.

Baroness Cox, CSI chairperson as well as a member of the UK house of lords, and archbishop George Carey, a supporter, and head of the Anglican church, made unauthorized, though well-publicised, visits to southern Sudan urging the minority Christian population to revolt against their Muslim ‘oppressors’.

The baroness is also heavily involved in the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, accusing Baku of imposing an economic blockade on its Christian neighbour, although the Armenians are occuppying one-fifth of Azeri land. The US congress has already banned aid to Baku because of the blockade while Armenia remains the highest per capita recipient of US assistance after Israel. Cox also supports the US campaign for the international boycott of Iran.

The State department report accuses Iran of prescribing the death penalty for apostates, but with only few of them judicially executed, it has resorted to the despicable ruse of invention - detailing a number of instances in which the government is ‘suspected’ of murdering or harming them. It is, however, forced to concede that Christian worship is permitted in the country, simply because it cannot get away with the claim that the government ‘is suspected’ of banning it when the evidence shows otherwise.

No document whose central objectives include the demonisation of Islam and the provision of support for Israel can be complete without a swipe at Islamic movements in secular Muslim States. Some of the worst instances of alleged Christian suffering described in the report are set at the door of Islamic activists in Algeria and Egypt and of ‘Muslim religious extremists’ in Pakistan, where anti-blasphemy law is also targeted.

The campaign by the pro-Israel and Christian rightist groups culminating in the publication of the State department report has also the short-term objective of preventing joint action by Muslims and Christians to halt the creeping annexation by Israel, as the timing of the campaign shows.

When the Coalition for the Defence of Human Rights Under Islamisation - made up largely of ethnic minorities from predominantly Muslim countries - held a programme in Washington last May, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) complained that the timing was deliberate. ‘The campaign seems timed to upset relations between Christians and Muslims as the debate over the status of Jerusalem is coming to a head,’ it said.

Although China, a non-Muslim country, is taken to task in the report over its treatment of Chinese Christians (but not of Chinese Mulims), the thrust of the whole exercise is directed against Muslims. That explains why the coalition’s anti-Muslim programme is not confined to the State department report.

The head of the New York City Council, for instance, has introduced legislation which is designed to prevent the city from doing business with companies and banks that have dealings with 15 nations. But he singles out Egypt for strong criticism, accusing it of routinely persecuting Christians.

Again, senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and a Zionist Jew, has introduced legislation that would set up a special white house office on persecution of Christians and require sanctions against offending governments.

President Bill Clinton, who is waging a war on the global Islamic Movement, hunting its members in all regions for extradition to the US, is not likely to kick up a fuss to stop such a move. In fact, his recent decreee said to open up federal offices for religious worship and the wearing of religious dress, including the hijab, is a sop to the Christian campaign.

Muslims should not see it as a concession to Islam. His public greeting to Muslims in America on the occasion of Eid al-Adha (Hajj) was no such thing either.

Muslimedia - September 16-30, 1997

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 26, No. 14

Dhu al-Hijjah 25, 14381997-09-16

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