With the U.S. elections approaching, it is increasingly difficult to decide whom Muslim Americans should choose. Sadly, our choice boils down to this: whichever side hates Islam the least. But figuring out which side that is is a tough task.
The Republicans? Okay, the GOP generally opposes abortion and homosexuality, and that's good. On the other hand, the Republicans are tethered to a Christian extremist fringe committed to an ideological battle with Islam. A seemingly endless parade of Republican lawmakers have strode forth to smear Muslims: Chris Smith, Arlen Spector, Jim Saxton, and on, and on.
At least Hillary invited us to the White House for Eid, some might say. At least the Clintons put a big star and crescent on the Mall one December next to the Star of David. They are the friends of the Muslims, they say.
But with friends like this administration, who needs enemies? Clinton signed into law the provisions that now have tens of Muslims in jail on secret evidence. He legalized airline passenger profiling that systematically targets Muslims and Arabs. Under this administration, the U.S. State Department has begun "investigating" a respected Muslim charity, the Holy Land Foundation, because some of the orphans it feeds are the children of deceased Hamas activists.
Clinton even has the US military involved in his crusade. US-dominated NATO has virtually declared war on Islamic movements in Central Asia. Joint military maneuvers between NATO, Russia, and several Central Asian dictatorships kicked off this week in Kazakhstan.
"One of the reasons we believe it is so important to have the central Asian battalion exercises ... is to be able to handle these internal regional problems such as the [Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan]," said US General Thomas Franks.
In Bosnia, NATO has been instrumental in the harassment of mujahideen who have been trying to live peacefully since the end of the war. NATO troops have recently assisted in forcibly evicting them from their homes. "NATO soldiers drive through our village and glare menacingly at us women in our niqabs [face veils]," one Bosnian woman told me.
Last year the US pressured the Bosnian government into deporting the former commander of the mujahideen, a soft-spoken and much loved Bosnian citizen of Algerian origin who retired from the Bosnian army with a high rank. And NATO has pressured the Bosnian government to boot the Saudi High Committee for Help for Bosnia from the Sarajevo building it occupies on the grounds that it distributes "fundamentalist" literature.
And in Asia, bowing to Indian pressure, Clinton's top counter-terrorism official at the State Department is promising to brand Lahore-based Lashkar-e-Taiba as a terrorist organization. Lashkar meticulously avoids innocent civilians in its attacks on Indian military installations in occupied Kashmir, yet Indian security forces regularly torture and murder civilians in the region. No doubt that messy fact will not come up as Clinton meets with terrorist India's president this week.
At this moment, the armed forces of the Philippines are conducting an assault on the base of supposedly Islamic rebels Abu Sayyaf. Press reports from the Philippines say U.S. Special Forces in the country are participating. Defense Department spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley denied American involvement on Friday, but he did admit that 200 U.S. Special Operations Forces were training in the Philippines.
And let's not forget Clinton's "Monica missiles" launched at Sudan and Afghanistan. Nor should we forget sanctions against Afghanistan, covert U.S. military operations in Sudan, CIA intelligence sharing with Russia in support of the military campaign against Chechnya's Muslims, and millions of starving children in Iraq. It would be no exaggeration to say that Clinton is quite possibly the most anti-Muslim president we have ever had.
This is not to say there aren't a few sincere Democrats or tolerant Republicans. Even so, there is no reason to suspect Bush would be any different than Gore. In that case, I'll take the Christian fundamentalist bigots of the Republican Party over Clinton any day. At least they admit that they hate us.
(Hamza Al-Zenitsawi is a freelance journalist in Washington, D.C.)