Skip to comments.Political Islam takes center stage since 9-11 [Puke!]
Posted on 09/05/2006 11:47:45 AM PDT by Alouette
RIYADH (Reuters) - In the five years since the September 11 attacks, U.S. intervention abroad has fed the extremism it seeks to destroy and cemented the rise of political Islam as the ideology of choice for millions in the Middle East, experts say.
Today, political Islam -- a diverse movement with moderate as well as hard-line elements -- has been widely embraced in the Arab world, where many feel alienated by corrupt rule and foreign policies seen as serving the interests of the United States and its ally Israel.
"Since September 11, I have worked on massive public opinion polls in the Muslim and Arab world. You can see the animosity between September 11 and now. It's growing and it is worrying," said Jihad Fakhreddine, a Lebanese analyst based in Dubai.
"The line between religiosity and extremism has become thinner. In the time of colonialism, the antagonism was not perceived in terms of the West and Islam. Independence movements in the Arab world were driven by nationalist feelings."
Radicals hitching themselves to the al Qaeda banner are now fighting U.S.-allied governments in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and have staged attacks in Morocco, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, a moderate Islamist group which espouses non-violence, made a strong showing in elections last year, while Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, born in 1988 during the first Intifada against Israeli occupation, won polls in January.
Islamist discourse dominates in the pan-Arab media, where both nationalists and Islamists revere Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader seen as the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks, as "Sheikh Osama."
Nationalist politicians, who on the face of it have no reason to support Islamist movements, cheer their ability to challenge the West on popular channels like Al Jazeera.
WAR ON ISLAM?
The U.S. response to 9-11, when 19 Arabs struck a deadly blow to the heart of the world's only superpower, has driven more people toward Islamist politics, analysts say.
"American actions against political Islam after September 11 have ironically contributed to its further rise and emergence, even in its most fanatical, extremist forms," said Lebanese-born academic As'ad AbuKhalil, who teaches in California.
The United States has invaded Iraq and backed Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians, presenting both policies as part of a plan to spread democracy in a dysfunctional Arab world.
Public opinion in the region has traditionally seen a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict as the key to solving the region's problems of democracy and religious extremism.
"Moderate Muslims are having a difficult time. They are not at peace with the radicals, but they cannot somehow make their point heard convincingly in the West," said Jawad al-Anani, a former Jordanian government minister of Palestinian origin.
President George W. Bush's recent comment that the United States is battling "Islamic fascists" has crystallized a widespread sense that the "war on terror" is a war on Islam, Anani said.
"The Islamists have some ... valid arguments. They say 'we are fighting your enemies, who don't do anything to solve your problems, who take Israel's side blindly, who don't show any sympathy for Muslims being killed in Palestine or Iraq'."
ARAB NATIONALISM REDUX?
Political Islam began its ascent long before 9-11.
Analysts say its roots largely lie in the failure of secular Arab nationalism to challenge Western hegemony and return land to dispossessed Palestinians.
Over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were driven from their homes when Israel was created in 1948. Israel won control of the remaining 22 percent of historical Palestine in 1967, though its native Palestinians remained in place.
"The rise of political Islam in the Middle East, to which the United States and Western governments contributed, only became noticed after September 11 with those attacks," AbuKhalil said.
"The underlying causes for the rise of Islamist movements are non-religious in nature. It's about foreign policy and the stand against corruption and tyranny," he said.
Fred Halliday, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, also pointed to nationalism and the discrediting of past ideologies that have failed in the domestic and foreign arena.
"9-11 was a very important event, but I don't actually think in terms of Islamism in the Middle East it is the main event," he said.
"Political Islam uses a lot of nationalist ideas and themes. Bin Laden says countries are occupied by foreigners and have the right to fight. With him, Hamas or Hizbollah, 80 percent of the rhetoric is secular nationalism reconfigured," Halliday said, adding that Shi'ite Hizbollah also borrows from communism.
Islamist movements today offer empowerment in the face of U.S.-allied governments who argue that fighting the America-imposed order is futile and that Palestinians should make do with what they can get through talks alone.
Islamists, with their slogan "Islam is the solution," say it doesn't have to be that way.
Saudi cleric Saleh bin Humaid captured the zeitgeist during Friday prayers in Mecca this month.
"We are now, with God's will, witnessing a new dawn that implants self-confidence in the (Muslim) nation ... so that it relies on its unity, its people and wise policies rather than on international organizations and resolutions," he said.
Warning! This is a high-volume ping list.
So, prior to 9/11, Bin Laden and his band of merry men were just a social club. It was the all powerful Bush that tricked them into crashing those party planes. And, terrorists didn't exist before Bush. And Bush this and Bush that.
Muslims will never admit responsibility for anything, ever.
"You made us become terrorists and hate you more after we attacked you first!"
Let the backlash begin.
That's the biggest amount of BS i've read in a long time.
Like children, they always cry how misunderstood they are. We asked for it because we didn't make the p.c. effort to understand their murderous faith.
This is such baloney.
If it was the future and the world could somehow cut Israel off the actual continent of the ME and make it an island in the ocean, then rebuild a place for the Palestinians in the same spot that Israel was removed , OBL and those in his likeness would still be at war with the West.
He wants his totalitarian ideology to rule the ME and the world. Period.
What a misguided statement. The radical islamists have repeatedly stated that their goal is a universal Caliphate and all governments will be submissive to that Caliphate or die. The Caliphate is totalitarian and exists because of tyranny. That is the real truth. Reuters always photoshops it's articles as well as it's photos.
The Muslim Brotherhood
aka Jamiat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by a schoolteacher, with the goal of celebrating traditional Islamic family values. The Brotherhood is ostensibly like any other semi-political fraternal club: the Elks, the Moose, the Lions, the Rotary, the Masons. Except a lot more like the Masons than the Elks. And maybe a little more like al Qaeda than the Masons.
The Muslim Brotherhood first formed in Egypt, where it has been mostly banned since its creation. The ban may have something to do with the fact that the Brotherhood has been tied to at least half a dozen attempts to assassinate whoever happened to be president of Egypt at the time. Hassan al-Banna, the teacher who founded the group, was a Wahabbi Sunni Muslim. Wahabbism is an extremely strict form of Islam, not dissimilar to the brand pushed by the Taliban.
The most absurd statement is that the rise of Islamist movements is "non-religious in nature". What planet is he on?
Pan-Arab nationalism goes back more than 40 years to Nasser of Egypt. Further, this nationalism does not exclude jihadist fanaticism -- in fact it encourages it.
This is the old chestnut that the poor fanatics are only responding to our reaction to THEIR acts of terrorism.
I've seen convoluted reasoning before --- but is takes the prize!
They will never attack Israel completely, until the end. They will let Israel exist in order to possibly have the globe.
If they see they have lost the global war....watch out Israel.
They have been trying to subjugate the rest of the world for 1300 years and have caused untold misery and rivers of innocent blood to flow on every continent.
They kicked off the latest round of this war by attacking us and murdering innocent thousands of us in our own country. If they want to be around at the end of it, they had better change their tune, fast. Otherwise, we'll be happy to oblige in their death-wish to glorify
F**k 'em. Pass the ammo...
"Praise the Lord and blast them to Perdition.
Experts say .... Analysts say .... Who are these unnamed people? I suggest they are figments of the author's imagination or are the terrorists supporters themselves.
The attacks on this country have been steadily building since 1979 and would have increased even more had Bush not responded as aggressively as he did. At least they are fighting us over there, and fighting our military rather than innocent civilians, rather than here. This is just as planned.