Causes of conflict between Islam and the West

Category: Featured, World Affairs Topics: Conflict, War Views: 10393

In the speeches he delivered in Ankara and Cairo, US President Barack Obama talked about making a new start between the US and the Muslim world. Naturally, all calls for peace, stability and peaceful coexistence should be taken into consideration as these are respectable calls.

I am from the group of people who believe that Obama has learned some lessons from the Bush era and is really sincere in his intention to make a fresh start. However, there should be concrete grounds for such a start. Now, let us see whether this is the case:

Robert Fisk of The Independent wrote that he sometimes asks why Islam has not undergone culture reform. His answer: Muslims have been on the defensive for hundreds of years, their enemies continually threaten them and Westerners have never given Muslims an opportunity to think. They have always bombarded the Muslim world with their industrial power, scientific and technological capabilities and with their capacity to rule and dominate the world. They have never let it develop and examine itself.

Fisk argued the US policy on Islam is based on enmity, asking: Why is the US in Iraq, the Middle East, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Germany, Turkey and Greece? Why are there US soldiers all around the world, beyond the US boundaries? What do they intend to do there? He made a comparison between the number of soldiers involved in the Crusades in the 12th century and the number of US soldiers currently deployed in the Middle East. The result is unbelievable: currently, the number of the US soldiers in the Middle East is twice the number of the soldiers involved in the Crusades. (Vatan newspaper, May 16, 2007).

Whether you like it or not, there are serious conflicts between Islam and the West. Without delving into the real causes of these conflicts, a fresh start does not seem likely:

(1) The West is exerting control over the Muslim territories where one-third of the world's energy resources are located, as well as exerting control over energy transfer routes. Muslims are denied ownership of their own natural resources.

(2) The primary obstacle to change in the Muslim world is the existence of oppressive regimes. The great majority of the population is young, desperate and unemployed and millions are seeking better education and health services, fair income distribution, freedom of expression and the right for a free opposition, in short, more humane conditions. However, these oppressive regimes are supported by the US and Europe. Yet, Western regimes and the media tend to portray the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), Hamas, Hezbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood, all of which advocate free elections, democratic participation and parliamentary regimes as "extremists" and the autocracies, dictatorships and kingdoms as "moderates." Thus, one can conclude that for Westerners, "moderates" are those who do not raise objections to the Western presence in the region while "extremists" are those who do.

(3) Israel, which was mounted in the heart of the region, has been occupying lands for 60 years and raining hell on the lives of Palestinians, but despite all the atrocities it commits, it gets unconditional support from all Western countries. The Palestinian issue is the "mother of all issues." This issue will not be settled unless the Israeli occupation ends, Palestinian refugees return to their own lands, Israeli settlers are stopped and the destruction of the Masjid al-Aqsa is stopped.

(4) Islam and its practitioners are being "othered" in a planned and intentional manner, and they are demonized through exclusion from the global system. Every day we face a new definition and another campaign for defamation: fanaticism, fundamentalism, political Islam, integrism, radicalism, Islamophobia, Islamofascism, reactionaryism, conservatism, extremism, Islamic terror, etc.

(5) The West imposes its culture and its lifestyle; it urges governments in Muslim countries to implement policies to ensure this, and it does not enter into dialogue on a paradigmatic level. It manipulates the social and cultural textures of Muslims without allowing them to change in their natural courses.

These are real conflicts. These are at the heart of the conflicts. On one side of the cleavage caused by these issues is the West, and on the other side is the Muslim world. Russia, China and India intervene in the Muslim world only from a political and strategic perspective. On the other hand, the West meddles with the Muslim world in every aspect. If the West really wants to make peace and coexist with Islam, it must pull out its occupation forces, it must stop supporting oppressive regimes, it has to make sure that Israel withdraws to pre-1967 borders and it must respect Islam and the lifestyles of Muslims.


Ali Bulac is a columnist for Zaman

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  5 Comments   Comment

  1. Dawood from USA

    I have to say I totally agree, although the US needs to step up to its word of putting an end to Israeli settlment building and NOT allow them to finish their current new settlements.

  2. Yohan from Bhutan

    James Price's demand for respect of Biblical Christianity by Islam is ambiguous. Islam itself is the heart of Christianity, in the true sense. ISLAM = {(Isa + Aslaam) meaning 'Jesus is good', (Isa + Salaam) meaning 'Jesus is peace, peace of Jesus, peace on Jesus' etc.}. Is that not respecting enough? This is 100% right Biblically. I would advise the disciples of the last prophet to submit to the mediator of the covenant, the Son of the Living God (Y'Shua the Messiah) instead of taking title of faith on one hand and wresting it by denial on the other.

  3. Johnathan Pike from USA

    This is a very clear cut, no nonsense look at the facts. As an American,nda a student of history, I believe this article to be a clear examination of what divides and spawns hatred of the US and it's policies in the Muslim World. Thank you for this article, Salamu Aleykum 🙂

  4. Kris MacPherson from Malaysia

    I would like to congratulate President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for his landslide victory in the Iranian elections. It's an honourable and gentlemen's victory.

    I challenge the skeptics of his victory to show me proof that there is / are riggings in the elections. Even International Observers had never said anything of doubt on Ahmedinejad's victory.

    That's the trouble with CNN and other western media isn't it. wWhen Saad Harriri won in Lebanon, since he is stoutly pro west, no one talks of the election integrity. But when Hamas won their victories in Ramallah, there is a hoo haah every where, in the western media, that the results were said to be detrimental to the Palestinians.

    And similarly in Ahmedinejad's victory, the west and the US suddenly found themselves backing a bad horse in Mousavi. What is so wrong with Ahmedinejad ? He's a genuine material, came from a poor family, went to university and became an engineer, and eventually became a mayor of Tehran. When he first became President, and was asked to declare his assets, his only assets was a small apartment and a car which he purchased in 1979. Is that not integrity ?

    Yes, he questioned the holocaust but he didn't explicitly deny it. I also questioned the holocaust, and I think the stories of it had been magnified, show me proof that 6 million Jews had died ?! Many others also died in WW 11, but none of these were magnified and exageratted to the extent like the holocaust.

    We have the same trouble in Malaysia too, though much on a minute scale. When the government won the general election, the opposition were quick to claim unfairness, even though they can't prove it. But when the opposittion won in several by elections, the ruling government recognised it and respected the choice of the people.

    I hope there will be elections in Jaffna Sri Lanka too. Now that the Tamil Tigers had been soundly defeated, it's time for the Sri Lankan government to bring law and order to the state.

  5. James Price from USA

    We will respect Islam as long as Islam respects Biblical Christianity. If not then nothing will change.