*Islam in Arabic means submitting to Allah the one and only god. *Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. *Mecca is the Holy City. *In the beginning Islam provided a suffering Arab community divided by intertribal wars with power, unity, and triumph. *Mosques are the “churches” of Muslims.*The Five Pillars (key duties) of Islam: …Shahada: A profession of faith recognizing that Allah is the only god and Muhammad is his prophet. Salat: Praying five times a day at dawn, midday, when the sun begins its descent, sunset, and when night falls. This is a quick exercise in intense meditation. Fasting: During the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. Giving Alms A Pilgrimage to Mecca.
(The Five Pillars say nothing of terrorizing other people.)
Until the suicide bombing on September 11 I had never given very much thought to the Islamic religion because I come from the viewpoint that organized religion is an oppressive and controlling force that allies itself with government. As the Middle East continues to be demonized by our government I find it necessary to educate ourselves and our communities on the matter so that the demonstrations of ignorance through acts of violence, unnecessary sideways glances, threatening phone calls, ugly nationalism, and ironically enough, a rejuvenated love for the christian god can be thought of more logically and come to an end. Bush may have criticized intolerance but it still exists and needs to be addressed.
If David Koresh had been referred to as a “christian terrorist” the entire country would have been up in arms protesting the use of the two words together. It is just as ridiculous to use the term “islamic terrorist” that I continue to hear repeated not only by the media but also by individuals within earshot.
Bin Laden is not the representative for the entire Muslim community (which is 1/6 of the world’s population). In fact, he is a representative of one small fundamentalist group that was trained and funded by the United States (we gave them $43 million dollars just 4 months ago to destroy poppies-as part of the “war on drugs”).
Believing that all followers of Islam are terrorists is comparable to believing that all christians are devout followers of Jerry Fallwell. It is this ignorance that is allowing for people in this country to believe that a military retaliation is necessary, it is ignorance that is fueling the recent hate crimes in our communities, and it is ignorance that allows Bush to further an arms race that is ineffective and costly. The real danger is not individual spiritual beliefs or religions but fundamentalists of any religion who use their religion to justify actions that are not justifiable by any earthly circumstances.
Muhammad Atta who was the pilot for the first jet that crashed into the World Trade Center was from Egypt, a country that spends only 4% of the budget on health care. Poverty causes anger and rebellion and as we impose policies on the international community that pressure them to privatize their resources; their government in turn cuts further into public spending, which results in higher unemployment rates and increased poverty. There are very understandable motivations for attacks on the United States and we need to think critically about our foreign policy.
Aside from stealing bread off the tables of the poor consider Reagan’s 1983 bombing of a Lebanese village, Bush’s “smart bomb” of civilians seeking shelter in Baghdad, or Clinton’s 1999 “mistakenly” dropped missles on a pharmaceutical company in Sudan. Abbas Hamdani of the Mediterranean Quarterly, Fall 1995 articulates it well in the following paragraph:
“The Middle East grew more restive when the days of employment and comparative security under socialism gave way to infitah, or an opening of countries to the free market and Western capitalism; when poverty and inflation increased; when bread riots erupted; when national pride was hurt and humiliated; when Palestinians were thrown out of their lands and homes; and when the superpower; America, vetoed many United Nations resolutions granting Palestinians their legitimate right to return to their homes and achieve their self-determination, while doling out billions of dollars every year to Israel and strengthening its occupation of Palestinian lands.”
It should be no surprise that there are people in the world that despise us; and not because “we are the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity,” but because our freedom and opportunity come at the expense of the freedom and opportunity of the majority of the world’s population. Who is the real terrorist in this story?
If there is any doubt consider that America brought the Taliban to power, promoted Saddam Hussein for a war against Iran, allied itself with the most reactionary regimes in the mideast and sponsored the ongoing military occupation of Palestine by Israel. Not enough? How about Israel’s invasion on Lebanon in 1982 where 17,000 civilians died? Or maybe the half million children that have died because of our sanctions on Iraq. You think 5,000 is a big number? Consider the terrorists that we armed and paid in the 1980’s massacre of more than 30,000 Nicaraguan civilians. Vietnam?
With Bush’s “Operation Infinite Freedom” where he has threatened to “stop, eliminate, and destroy” terrorism where it grows (sort of like spraying your lawn for weeds, right?) we are embarking on a war that really will be infinite. How long will it take to “weed out” all of the terrorists? Will the impossible demands on the people from Afghanistan result in bombing? How many bombs will we drop before the people of this country protest against the ridiculous policy that has no attainable outcome? How many must die at our expense and what civil liberties will we lose in the meantime?
Until we change our brutal, militaristic, foreign policy and follow rules of international law there will be terrorists. The weapons of mass destruction the United States has in themselves are a form of terrorism on the rest of the globe; it is intimidation, and until we put down our arms we are inviting opposition. There will continue to be idealistic and fundamentalist attacks on capitalism and the West and it is up to progressive people in the west to use this opportunity to educate our own communities about capitalism and it’s effects on the rest of the wolrd.
Capitalism is the real terrorist in this world because it rewards greed and motivates the greedy to get what they want by any means necessary. When we get sick or go to war it benefits our economy. We need a new system based on humane principles, mutual aid, and strengthening of local infrastructures. The time is now, there are millions more lives at stake and things are only going to get worse as the nation becomes more hysterical and war hungry.
Call any of these Islamic organizations in San Francisco to show support and counteract all of the ignorant hateful messages they are receiving:
Islamic Bulletin/Masjid Al Noor 415-552-8831 Islamic Society of SF/Masjid Darussalam 415-863-7997 SF Muslim Community Center 415-563-9397 The Mosque and Islamic Center of SF 415-282-9039