The Islamophobia “industry,” dormant for several years, has returned with a vengeance. There are books to be rewritten about those “scary Muslims,” a lot of money to be made, and most importantly primary presidential elections to be won. Donald Trump’s statements about Muslims and what he would do if he is elected President would make the 1930s European fascists proud. With every statement he makes his polls improve. After all, he has been endorsed by the Daily Stormer, the most popular Neo-Nazi news website. Ted Cruz, the other conservative and borderline fascist declares that if he is elected President, he will bomb the Middle East so relentlessly that we will all learn whether “sands can glow in the dark.” He is also surging in the polls.
So, there seems to be no downside to being an Islamophobe and even fascist, right? Wrong! There is a downside, and we the ordinary people pay for it with our flesh, blood, and money, not to mention our freedom. The Islamophobes and fascist politicians do not, however, explain why this is so.
They do not talk about the role that Western governments, and in particular the United States, have played in creating the bloodshed and destruction in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North Africa, from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Libya, regions in which all the countries, with the exception of Israel, are Muslim nations. The Islamophobes and fascist politicians do not explain that the bloodshed and destruction in that part of the world are the root cause of the terrorism emanating from those regions, and we are paying for them.
I do not want to review the entire depressing history of Western intervention in those regions. As an Iranian-American, I lived in one of the nations in which the result of Western – American and British – intervention was a complete catastrophe. But, consider briefly the events since the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001.
The United States attacked Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, ostensibly to destroy al-Qaeda. The attacks were not necessary; they did not destroy the terrorist cult; they became lightning rods for similar terrorist groups elsewhere, and the war, the longest in the United States history, is still raging.
Then, the United States and Britain invaded Iraq in 2003 on the basis of lies, exaggerations, and half-truths. They overthrew a secular dictatorial regime. The war gave rise to al-Qaeda in Iraq, which later on morphed into Daesh (also known as the “Islamic State” or ISIS or ISIL) that we are supposedly fighting with now. The Iraqi people are yet to experience peace and democracy that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney promised them.
Incidentally, I would like to ask all the antiwar, pacifist people to use Daesh, instead of the Islamic State, or even ISIS or ISIL, because referring to such thugs and killers as “Islamic” is not only insulting, but also evokes anti-Muslim emotions.
Then, instead of offering moral support to the Muslim people in the Arab nations to achieve democracy and respect for their human rights when they rose up against their ruling dictators during the Arab Spring, almost all of whom are supported by the West, we attacked Libya and toppled another secular regime. Before the attacks, Libya was one of the most economically advanced nations in Africa – that continent’s “Switzerland.” Now, it is a hub for all sorts of terrorist groups, sending weapons to a vast area, from the Middle East to North and West Africa. Daesh alone has up to 3,000 terrorists there.
And, when a moderate, Western-educated Muslim, Mohamed Morsi, won the democratic elections after the Arab Spring in Egypt, Western leaders supported the military coup there by the Pentagon-trained Egyptian army that toppled Morsi’s government in July 2013. The regime of Egypt’s new dictator, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi killed at least 1350 people demonstrating peacefully against the coup, and perhaps as many as 2600. From July 2013 to last month at least 323 people have died in Egypt’s prisons as a result of torture and negligence. But, our relation with Sisi is as warm as what we had with his predecessor dictator, Hosni Mubarak, if not warmer.
If moderate Muslims feel that they are not allowed to govern, even when they win democratic elections, what should they turn to?
Then, we began siding with the “rebels” in Syria that are fighting with another secular regime. Not only has our CIA been arming the “rebels” – read terrorists – in Syria, but as Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged in October 2014 at Harvard University, our allies – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Arab nations of the Persian Gulf, and Jordan – also funded and armed anyone who was willing to fight with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, except that, as Biden said, the only ones fighting with that regime were – and still are – the al-Qaeda branch in Syria, known as Jabhat al-Nusra, Daesh and other terrorist cults and groups. Even Israel got into the act, working with the al-Nusra, treating their injured in Israeli hospitals.
We have also been helping Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen, a country that was always held up by President Obama as a “model of success” for combating terrorism. The combat was being carried out by drones that have killed at least 1,147 innocent civilians, and quite possibly as many as 4,700. They have attacked, for example, wedding ceremonies, killing scores of innocent women and children. Now, as a result of the Saudi war in Yemen that we support, al-Qaeda has returned to Yemen, and Daesh that was not present there before the war is now highly active there.
Is it not interesting that the only nation in which the Arab Spring succeeded and led to a democratic state, namely, Tunisia, is also the only one in which the West did not intervene, because it did not believe to have any “strategic interest” there? Innocent Muslims are being killed as “collateral damage” for our “strategic interests.”
Meanwhile, Israel has also taken advantage of the chaos. In addition to helping al-Nusra in Syria, it has been pressuring the President to recognize its illegal annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also declared that a Palestinian state will not form on his watch; that he will not hand over even “more meter” of land to the Palestinian Authority, and he did his utmost to prevent improvement in the relations between the West and another Muslim nation, namely, Iran. And fascism is on the rise in Israel too.
How many civilian Muslims have lost their lives since invasion of Afghanistan in 2001? Here are the most conservative estimates:
Afghanistan: at least 26,000 civilians and counting.
Iraq: At least 500,000 and counting, and probably as many as over 1.4 million. Add to this at least 576,000 Iraqi children who lost their lives in the 1990s as a result of the West’s crippling economic sanctions.
Libya: At least 30,000, and counting. NATO waged war there supposedly to save lives.
Syria: at least 250,000 and counting, about 100,000 of them are civilians.
Yemen: at least 2,300 and counting, and probably as many as 4,500.
Total: at least 1,230,000 civilians, and possibly as many as 2,130,000. The true number is likely much higher.
Add to these horrendous statistics, millions of refugees, and completely destroyed or greatly damaged infrastructures of these nations. Muslims that accept every type of threat and danger to their lives and their children’s, and even accept humiliation in much of Europe, do so only because they are trying to escape the wars that we have helped create, and to get away from the same terrorism and terrorists that we supposedly are fighting. Otherwise, who would leave their own homes, towns and villages, country, and region to go somewhere else, especially where they are not even mostly welcome?
So, who are the prime victims of the wars, bloodshed, and destruction from Southeast Asia to North Africa? Muslims in that part of the world, and ordinary people like us in the West. But the Islamophobes and the fascists will have none of this, and in fact they do not utter a word about the bloodshed and destruction that Western policy toward that vast region has created.
Unless and until we stop our military interventions in Muslim nations; stop supporting their corrupt and dictatorial regimes, such as those in Saudi Arabia, the Arab nations of the Persian Gulf, Egypt, and Jordan that actually supply most of the terrorists to al-Qaeda and Daesh, and stop sending arms to that region into the hands of the terrorists, the problem of terrorism will not be solved.
We the ordinary people have been paying for such misadventures, our treasury has been drained, and the money that should have been spent here at home to fix our crumbling infrastructure is being wasted in the Middle East and enriches only the weapon makers. Muslim Americans, such as the author, will be increasingly discriminated against, if not physically attacked. Most importantly, the Islamophobes and the emerging fascists will gradually take away our freedom in the name of the global war on “terrorism” that we created it ourselves.