Can Americans Answer These Questions? [Archives:2001/44/Viewpoint]

October 22 2001

I have received dozens of letters responding to my last week’s column entitled “Mounting Anger”. Most -but not all- of those letters tried to explain to me that the attacks are “not against Islam, but against terrorists.” Some of those letters accused me of “propaganda” and opposition to the USA.
I dedicate this column to all those readers whom I would like to thank for taking the time to write to me.
Here is where to start. First of all, I did not say that the US-led strikes are against Islam. I said that the public is slowly understanding that they are so, even though I personally believe that the strikes are indeed not intended to be against Islam. But at the same time, I do understand why Muslims are beginning to think that those attacks are against Islam.
The problem of many Westerners is that they take what is said to them for granted. They believe in the rightfulness of their government’s actions and rarely try to put themselves in opposition with their governments or in other nations’ shoes.
The very few Americans whom I met and who studied the history of the Middle East do admit that the strategies of oppression and support of oppressors by many Western nations, including the USA, has indeed led to the feeling of frustration by Arabs and Muslims. Those intellectuals know very well that the majority of Americans don’t realize how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict evolved over the years. They don’t have the slightest idea of the miseries Muslims have suffered all over the globe.
I wish that those would not prejudge this column and call it “propaganda” once again. What I want them to do is to go through the books of history, those books that explain how Palestinians were slaughtered by the thousands in the occupying state of Israel. Yet the United States does all it can to protect its “strategic ally” in the Middle East.
With this column, I am targeting the conscience of American readers who want to know the truth, and who want to investigate for themselves and not be taught or dictated. A little humbleness and effort would have them discover many things they may have never heard of.
Just as Muslims understand the pain and suffering the US people have gone through since the Sept. 11 attack, they also want a listening ear for their sufferings.
Americans need to realize that if 6,000 Americans were killed on September 11th, millions of Muslims were killed unjustifiably during the last decade. There are many things that could be fought using weapons and strategic tactics such as politics, etc. But still, there are other things that weapons cannot resolve. Among these is terrorism.
Terrorism is not a thing that can be found and destroyed. It is a phenomenon that has generated from ideas and thoughts. Muslims believe that terrorism can only be combated by bringing justice to the oppressed and weak. It can be combated by understanding the mistakes of powerful countries and how to treat the negative consequences of those mistakes. No terrorist activity can be stopped without preventing the reasons behind such an act. Muslims think that the USA is trying to secure its safety at the expense of others. They believe that even if Osama bin Laden is killed or brought to justice, unless the Israel-Palestinian conflict is resolved, peace will not prevail.
It would be easy for an American to understand why some Muslims may see this war to be against Islam if he came over to the streets and listened to what people are saying. “If America is against terrorism, why is it supporting Israel, which is killing Palestinians by the hundreds every year?” As an American, could you try to answer this question? I am willing to publish your answer in this very column if you wish. Another question is “Why is the USA applying an embargo that caused no damage to the Iraqi regime but rather resulted in the death of millions of innocent people?” The USA did admit that the embargo didn’t do much for its objective. But can you answer the question?
Those are among the few questions that Muslims ask, and if you could as an American justify those questions, then you could as well easily convince Muslims to divert from thinking that the strikes are against Islam.
I will be waiting for your answers…