The West never had any problem with Bashar al-Asad as long as he did their bidding. Following the “Arab Spring”, the West thought Asad was a low hanging fruit ripe for picking. Three years later, they are waking up to reality.
For a civilization and value system that places such great emphasis on “freedom”, there are still plenty of ways that dissidents can be targeted in the modern West. Freedom has been described as a “hurray word” — a word “with little substantive meaning… an empty signifier in a hegemonic language game, to which we all have to defer”, in the words of Mark Haugaard, political scientist and editor of the Journal of Power.
Every four years the world watches the political soap opera of the US presidential elections with a combination of amusement, bemusement and incredulity as the world’s most powerful nation, and the supposed flag-bearer of democracy, lays open its true nature. Although the polls are not due for over a year, the formal process began months ago, with Barrack Obama having announced the start of his re-election campaign in April.
Islamic movements, intellectuals and activists long tended to have a love-hate relationship with democracy. On the one hand, democracy has been associated with the aggressive, brutal, exploitative, hegemonic policies of the post-colonial Western powers, the cynicism, manipulation and dishonesty of Western politics and the increasing moral degeneracy of individualistic and hedonistic Western societies.
This month marks the seventh anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The invasion was no surprise of course; it was preceded by months of international politicking as the neo-con Bush administration tried to build international consensus for the war...
Since the announcement on April 8 that Egyptian authorities had arrested 49 members of a “Hizbullah cell” in the country, we have been subjected to a variety of explanations for the arrests and several different accounts of exactly what happened, when it happened, and why it happened. Much of this information has been leaked by Egyptian authorities, and little of it has survived critical scrutiny.
In the March 9 issue of Newsweek magazine, Fareed Zakaria, the magazine’s editor and formerly both an adviser to the Bush administration on US policy in the Middle East and a cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, published an article under the heading “Learning to Live with Radical Islam” and the tagline “It’s time to stop treating all Islamists as potential terrorists”.
Iraq and Afghanistan were far from the only victims of the neo-cons’ aggression under George W. Bush. Several other Muslim countries suffered grievously too, without receiving nearly as much attention in the world media, and, by extension, among Muslims. Somalia is perhaps the single greatest example. Crescent has covered developments there as best we can, largely thanks to M. A. Shaikh, who writes on the new government of Sherif Sheikh Ahmed in this issue, but elsewhere in the Muslim media Somalia has been largely ignored.
When Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as president of the United States of America in January 1981, Iran and its recent Islamic Revolution was an obsession for the US and all in it. Almost 30 years later, little has changed in that regard.
Such was the artificiality of the hype surrounding the election of Barack Obama at the beginning of November last year — only two months ago — that the elation has largely dissipated even before he has taken office. For many Americans, the realization that nothing much is likely to change has emerged from his appointment of establishment political figures to all major offices in his administration.
The problem with taking on the superpowers is that they never seem willing to admit that they are beaten, with the result that however successful the resistance to them, there is never an outright victory. Whenever the superpowers have projected their power and been met by determined local resistance, such as the Russians in Afghanistan and Chechnya, and the Americans in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and (indirectly) Palestine, the resistance faces the problem of actually sealing their victories in political terms.
The last few weeks have seen the stirrings of what may become the basis for another world-wide Muslim protest movement like those about the Rushdie fitna and the Danish cartoons insulting the Prophet (saw). Beaufort House, a minor publisher in the US, has published a sleazy work of fiction called The Jewel of Medina, by Sherry Jones, which has been described as a work of “soft porn” set in the time of the Prophet and taking a bowdlerised version of the life of Hadhrat A’isha (r.a.) as its theme.
In a few months’ time, Crescent International will insha’Allah complete 37 years of publication. During that time, it has inevitably seen many changes. It began as a local community paper in Toronto in the 1970s, before being transformed into a newsmagazine of the global Islamic movement after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, under the influence of Dr Kalim Siddiqui.1
The last Friday of Ramadan each year is marked around the world as Yaum al-Quds: the Day of al-Quds. This tradition was begun by Imam Khomeini r.a. shortly after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, as an annual affirmation of the Ummah’s solidarity with the Muslims of Palestine in their struggle for the liberation of al-Quds .
During the early 1990s, the war in Bosnia dominated Muslim attention much as a war in Iraq has in the last few years, considering which it is perhaps surprising how little of the events of those years is known to many young Muslims today.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency – the UN’s anti-nuclear watchdog – left Syria on June 25 after spending three days collecting samples and other materials from the al-Kibar site bombed by Israel in September last year.
This month, millions of Muslims all over the world will mark the nineteenth anniversary of the death of Imam Khomeini on June 4, 1989. The Imam was undoubtedly the most important figure in recent Muslim history, the man whose thought and leadership effectively gave birth to what we now know as the global Islamic movement.
Five years after the US invasion of Iraq, it is now widely accepted that the war was based on a web of lies deliberately spun by the Bush administration to justify a war that they were determined to execute come what might. A number of other groups have also been criticised for their roles in the deception, including the US intelligence community and the British government.
The neo-cons’ commitment to promoting democracy in the Muslim world was quietly discarded after Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian elections in January 2006, when they finally realised what most observers had been saying all along: that free elections in Muslim countries would almost invariably result in governments that the West would not like because they would promote the concerns and interests of their own people above those of Washington.
Every month or two, a new controversy concerning Islam and Muslims erupts in the UK. Sometimes they concern terrorism or extremism, sometimes education or women, sometimes anti-semitism. Often they are based on wildly sensationalised reports of the statements of some Muslim or another, stoked up by the right-wing media to demonise the Muslim community as whole.