Enjoy the silence!
Thomas Friedman rules. He just does. He gets it, which is more then i can say about the rest of the NYTimes columnists. In his latest column, he tackles the paradox that is the Muslim world's response to events: The Outcry against the Koran desecration story and the Silence against the terrorist attacks in Iraq. While he condemns the Koran desecration act if it's true, he can't help but wonder: Why the double standard when it comes to the Shiite and Kurds-who are muslims- when they are killed by other muslims? Where is the outrage when it comes to them? That said, though, in the same newspapers one can read the latest reports from Iraq, where Baathist and jihadist suicide bombers have killed 400 Iraqi Muslims in the past month - most of them Shiite and Kurdish civilians shopping in markets, walking in funerals, going to mosques or volunteering to join the police. Yet these mass murders - this desecration and dismemberment of real Muslims by other Muslims - have not prompted a single protest march anywhere in the Muslim world. And I have not read of a single fatwa issued by any Muslim cleric outside Iraq condemning these indiscriminate mass murders of Iraqi Shiites and Kurds by these jihadist suicide bombers, many of whom, according to a Washington Post report, are coming from Saudi Arabia. The Muslim world's silence about the real desecration of Iraqis, coupled with its outrage over the alleged desecration of a Koran, highlights what we are up against in trying to stabilize Iraq - as well as the only workable strategy going forward. The thing is, the majority of arab sunnis are indifferent to the death of Shiites and Kurds in Iraq. They are viewed as "collatroal damage" or an "acceptable Loss" in the fight for an iraq free of the american christian imperialist zionist occupiers, mainly because they are the ones who benefitted from the American ousting of Sadam, and because they are not Sunnis. The fact that they are also muslim, or that there are sunni kurds, or that the "insurgancy" is killing far more iraqis then US soldiers, well, that doesn't really concern them. What is important is "supporting the struggle against the war waged on Islam" and "teaching those americans a lesson". The future of Iraq be damned! And this is not just the ignorant masses speaking, this is an acceptable argument presented in arab government sponsored media, by regimes that have their own interests in seeing democracy in Iraq fail. At the same time, politically speaking, some Arab regimes prefer to see the pot boiling in Iraq so the democratization process can never spread to their countries. That's why their official newspapers rarely describe the murders of civilians in Iraq as a massacre or acts of terror. Such crimes are usually sanitized as "resistance" to occupation. Salama Na'mat, the Washington bureau chief for the London-based Arabic daily Al Hayat, wrote the other day: "What is the responsibility of the [Arab] regimes and the official and semiofficial media in the countries bordering Iraq in legitimizing the operations that murder Iraqis? ... Isn't their goal to thwart [the emergence of] the newborn democracy in Iraq so that it won't spread in the region?" (Translation by Memri.) It is unfortunately their goal, and they advance it by playing on the popular anti-US sentiment amongst their own people, who have been opressed for years, seen the world pass them by and davance economically, educationally and technologically, and in desperate need for Heros in a time where none are present amongst their leaders. By glamourizing the iraqi terrorists, and not condemning the death of the innocent civillians, the governments are giving them uncritisized "Heros" to believe in and support. And the people buy it, because they need some kind of hope in their sorry opressed existance and they like to blame the US, instead of their own inaction and cowardice, for their appaling state of affairs. And the state-funded clerics support that viewpoint, by giving sermons that call for praryers of support to the muslims fighting in Iraq and Palestine. It's easy to believe something, if you hear it everywhere you go, you know? Interestingly, as Friedman points out, within that problem lies the soloution itself. If the Arab world, its media and its spiritual leaders, came out and forcefully and repeatedly condemned those who mount these suicide attacks, and if credible Sunnis were given their fair share in the Iraqi government, I am certain a lot of this suicide bombing would stop, as happened with the Palestinians. Iraqi Sunnis would pass on the intelligence needed to prevent these attacks, and they would deny the suicide bombers the safe houses they need to succeed. It worked in Egypt in the 90's, with the media, the mosques and the government sponserd clerics came out against the local tourist-killing terrorists by saying that they were murderers who are damaging our way of life and economy and threatning our future. They became so unpopular because of it that they stopped their attacks. If it worked here, i see no reason why it shouldn't work there. The only problem would be getting those governments on board to get them to do this, when it is in their own best interest not to do this. And US p[ressure won't work, cause if it did, they would've used it for the sake of their own image a long time ago. Hmm.. Maybe a good soloution would be to get the US state department to fund the free publishing and distribution of Iraqi newspapers in arab countries. By giving them the Iraqi inside view on things, it could balance out the view given to them by the government local propaganda machine. It might not have that much effect, but it would be a start. What do you guys think?