Chechnya is being destroyed for the second time in a few years. Civilians are dying in the midst of falling buildings, and endless columns of smoke are rising in and around the city. Russian forces are pushing toward the center of Grozny. To minimize Russian losses, random and ceaseless shelling is being used. A Russian officer told an AFP correspondent, "..it is better to destroy the town because soldiers lives are worth more than ruins." Yet under many of these ruins, thousands of Chechens are still residing, pleading to the world for help. Yet very little, if any, help has arrived. And while Chechens are desperately searching for help to ease their hardships, faithfully fighting with little means, many Muslims are looking for someone to blame, anyone at all, anyone but of course, themselves.
In times of catastrophe, many tend to point the finger at others, rather than considering that they too carry part of the responsibility. Most Muslim governments, while enthusiastically rushing to silence their opposition, backed by media propaganda, are quick to ignore the real challenge; a challenge that is so close that it defines them and touches them deeply, although it may appear far away. But whether the bombarded city was Beirut, Baghdad, Jerusalem or Grozny, the indifference has always been present and the apathy can always be felt.
While Chechens were savagely killed, hugs and kisses were generously offered to Russias former President, Boris Yeltsin, in his latest Middle East visit. Very little has been done thus far to tell Russia that its assault on Chechnya is an aggression against all Muslims and humans, and that its war will not end in the center of Grozny but it shall reach the center of every Muslim capital and nation. Russia was told very little, and almost nothing was done for those enduring the horror of the endless nightmare.
Time and again, the West has taught us that it never intervenes in a war unless it has vested interests to protect and to secure. Yet we insist on blaming the West, and the US in particular, as if it is the champion of humanity and the protector of children. We therefore remain forgetful of the many deaths caused by the United States and its allies in Iraq. Why do we keep on believing in empty promises and fake humanitarianism? Why cant we take a stand for once and resist the sin to fail those in need?
"At the edge of the nearby village of Duba-Yurt, a knot of elders crowded around a Russian officer, pleading for an end to the shelling," AP recently reported. Those desperate elders who are trying to save the lives of their young, are evidently confident that there are no liberators on the horizon.
It is admirable to feel the sense of belonging and unity. It is great to be a part of a group, to identify with and to be recognized as a part of a greater family. But it is as important to play the role to the end, to share in the struggle and to meet the challenges. I am aware, as many of you are, of the fact that our position in the world today, if represented by Muslim governments, is unpromising and indeed discouraging. But each of us as individuals are capable of playing a role. Moreover, each of us as individuals is aware of our abilities and potential. The war in Chechnya is a war that is attempting to destroy our aspirations for sovereignty, free will and independence.
Chechnya is one more chance to escape the vicious cycle of defeat, indifference, and the surrender to being victims and only victims. Such a cycle can be destroyed, and our will can be freed if we try to fulfill our duty and to simply do the right thing. City after city, Muslim lands are conquered, children are killed, women are raped, and brave men who refuse to surrender are recognized as terrorists, as if defending ones home is a crime. And those conquerors hiding as humanitarians only show their real faces in the end of the battle, when it is all over. Then, we realize that is was not about democracy, terrorism or human rights, but strategic control of important areas, natural wealth and in defense of interests, rather than children.
Despite setbacks and many failures however, a glimpse of hope and a ray of promise manages to survive these many atrocities. And there, scattered around the ruined streets of Grozny, there are men and women with unbroken spirits, fighting for our cause and defending our honor. But while they are not failing us, one must wonder: Why are we failing them?