radicalisation, extremism and 'islamism', relations and and myths in the "war on terror".


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radicalisation, extremism and 'islamism', relations and and myths in the "war on terror".

  1. 1. Radicalisation, Extremism & 'Islamism' Realities and Myths in the 'War on Terror' A report by Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain
  2. 2. 3 Hizb ut-Tahrir (meaning The Party of Liberation) is a global Islamic political party that was established in 1953 under the lead- ership of its founder - the scholar, political thinker and judge in the Court of Appeals in al-Quds (Jerusalem), Taqiuddin an- Nabhani. Hizb ut-Tahrir’s global leadership is currently headed by Ata’ abu Rishta. In the Muslim world, Hizb ut-Tahrir works at all levels of society to bring the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life under the shade of the Khilafah (Caliphate) State following an exclusively political method. Hizb ut-Tahrir adopts the methodology employed by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he established the first Islamic State in Madinah. The Prophet Muhammad limited his struggle for the establishment of the Islamic State to intellectual and political work. He established this Islamic state without resorting to violence. He worked to mobilise public opinion in favour of Islam and endeavoured to sway the political and intellectual elites of the time. Despite the persecution and boycott of the Prophet Muhammad and the early Muslims, they never resorted to violence. Hence, its commitment not to be involved in any violent or militant activity is based on its faith and understanding of the revelation of God. No person can join Hizb ut-Tahrir until he or she adopts this political and intellectual methodology and approach. The party is therefore proactive in disseminating the Islamic intellectual and political thoughts widely in Muslim societies so as to challenge the oppressive and declined situation that exists there. The party presents Islam as a comprehensive way of life that is capable of managing the affairs of state and society, as well as expressing its views on political events and analyses them from an Islamic perspective. It disseminates its thoughts through discussion with the masses, study circles, lectures, seminars, leaflet distribution, publishing books and magazines and via the Internet, actively encouraging people to attend our demonstrations, marches, conferences and vigils. In the West, Hizb ut-Tahrir does not work to change the system of government, but works within the boundaries of the system to encourage the Muslim community to live by Islam in thought and deed, adhering to the rules of Islam and preserving a strong Islamic identity. It argues that this is the most productive and sound basis for Muslims to engage outside of their own communi- ties. The party also works to project a positive image of Islam to Western society and engages in dialogue with Western thinkers, poli- cymakers and academics. Western governments, under the banner of the War on Terror, are currently working to present Islam as an ‘evil ideology’. At the heart of their campaign is the effort to malign the Islamic ideology as an alternative to Western liberal capitalism in the Muslim world. Because of this propaganda aspect to the War on Terror, Hizb ut-Tahrir works to counter negative propaganda about Islam in the Western countries, and present Islam’s beliefs and also its political ideas as an alternative for the Muslim world. Email: press@hizb.org.uk Web: www.hizb.org.uk
  3. 3. 4 - Contents Contents Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Section 1 - Challenging the Narrative: Radicalisation, Extremism & ‘Islamism’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Part I: The Use, Misuse and Abuse of Language in the Politics of Terrorism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Part II: Politicisation not 'Radicalisation' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Section 2 - 'Unspinning' the Accusations of Violence Against Islam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Part I: Decoupling Political Violence from Islam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Part II: Poll Evidence Refutes the Alleged Link between Islam's Political Tenets and Violence as a Means of Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Part III: Ends do not Justify Means, but Means do not Invalidate Ends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Section 3 - The Caliphate, Islamic Governance & the Myth of Violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Part I: Maligning a Popular & Orthodox Call . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Part II: The Significance of the Caliphate at the Time of its Demise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Part III: The Caliphate will Bring Stability to the Muslim World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Part IV: The Caliphate is an Islamic System of Governance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Section 4 - Mapping a Way Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Part I: The Failure of Calls for a 'Moderate', Reformed Islam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Part II: Understanding the Causes of the Political Crises in the Muslim World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Part III: Allowing the Muslim World to Shape its own Political Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
  4. 4. Forward - 5 Forward It is often said that the first casualty in war is the truth. In the case of the global War on Terror it is its central premise that was the first lie - the claim that this is a war in defence of security. It is impossible to imagine that any government would not develop some type of security response to the attacks such as those in New York in September 2001 or the bombs in London in July 2005. This is what happened in the case of terrorism related to Northern Ireland. There, we also saw, after many years, the development of a political response. But the launch of a 'war' upon a premise for which there is no agreed definition has made many in the world, Muslim and non-Muslim, uncomfortable. The construct of the case for war started after the attacks in New York, arguing that those behind the perpetrators were in Afghanistan. Other similar international crises - for example the Lockerbie bombing of a Pan Am aircraft - led to diplomatic pressure to secure an extradition. In the case of the 9/11 attacks, what followed was the invasion and occupation of the country said to be hosting the perpetrators, retrospective excuses generated to add to the case for invasion and large scale illegal detention and torture in Bagram airbase, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Other states started to claim their own 'terrorism' problems; most notably dicta- tors in the Muslim world, Israel and authoritarian regimes such as those in Russia and Central Asia. The violations of basic norms and rights committed in these places in the name of the War on Terror were recognised as an excuse to undertake otherwise unac- ceptable actions. Surprisingly, however, similar scrutiny was not applied to the actions of the UK or US until much later. In the US, the Patriot Act gave the administration unprecedented powers. In Britain draconian anti-terror laws were introduced and strengthened at every opportunity, even causing conflict between the judiciary and the government. It was perhaps the illegal war in Iraq, unpopular amongst a sceptical domestic audience, exposed as being founded upon lies and more to do with regime change than security, that became the single biggest factor that made increasing numbers of people uncomfortable about what was being done in their name. The lies underpinning the Iraq occupation were compounded by humanitarian abuses, the continued support for tyrants every bit as bad as Saddam Hussein and the worsening security threat and community cohesion in the West due to the war. In this report we expose how the narrative of the War on Terror has many inconsistencies and manipulates understandable security fears to attack political ideas that carry considerable support in the Muslim world. We do this by: 1. Exposing the statements of politicians that show it is not the violent means that is their only concern, but the legitimate polit- ical ends that an overwhelming majority in the Muslim world subscribe to. In keeping with its colonial history, Western governments have constructed a case for intervention to secure their economic and political interests in the Muslim world, with little regard for the consequences on the people in that part of the world. 2. Illustrating the way that language and arguments are manipulated to make the false claim that Islamic political ideas are the root cause of the problem. 3. Providing evidence from credible research which contradicts the Bush-Blair argument that Islam's political ideas inherently cause violence and insecurity. 4. Decoupling these myths of violence from the Caliphate and other Islamic political ideas y explaining exactly what these ideas represent. 5. Mapping a way forward, out of the mess and growing chaos created by the War on Terror. It is difficult to deny that the War on Terror has greatly exacerbated the chaos and instability caused by the chronic political problems in the Muslim world. Furthermore, a declaration of war against political ideas held by over 70 per cent of people in the Muslim world will be perennial, ceaseless and destabilising. There is an urgent need to engage in dialogue to explain Islam, the Caliphate and Shariah to people in Britain and the West, who hear these aspirations for the Muslim world continually demonised as part of the propaganda in the War on Terror.Given the current climate of suspicion and fear it is necessary that now more than ever people try to understand the legitimate political aspi- rations of many in the Muslim world, rather than simply falling for a reductionist Manichean dialectic, that paints everyone who seeks Islamic change in that region as extremists and supporters of terrorism. We urge everyone to study our report and realise that there is an urgent need to discuss and understand these ideas, as well under- stand the political feeling in the Muslim world. There is a need to understand the Caliphate, not only the fact that it is not linked to violence as alleged by the leaders of the War on Terror, but also how it will be a powerful force for bringing stability to the Muslim world. In the corridors of Washington and Westminster, Islam's political ideas are seen as a potential threat - not to security - but to the control, exploitation and interference that has continued for decades. Yet on the 'Muslim street' these ideas mean liberation from tyranny and oppression, a connection to their beliefs and history and the ability to shape their own political destiny. Abdul Wahid Chairman UK Executive Committee Hizb ut-Tahrir July 2007
  5. 5. 6 - Introduction - The ‘War on Terror’: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace Introduction The 'War on Terror': Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace A Monumental Change Draws Closer State Department, the British Foreign Europe, Africa, and Asia. This is their Office and American and British intelli- plan. They have said so. We make a It is not often the opportunity arises to gence agencies study intently develop- terrible mistake if we fail to listen and witness monumental political changes ments in a world they have come to learn". on the scale of the fall of the Berlin wall yield great influence over. Both and the collapse of Communism or the measures of public opinion indicate the Tony Blair after 7/7 also referred to the end of apartheid in South Africa. Yet return of an Islamic state, or Caliphate. need to confront an "an evil ideology" these have occurred in our generation's The National Intelligence Council of the that included "the establishment of lifetime. Now an even greater political CIA issued a planning report in effectively Taliban States and Shari'ah change is creeping ever closer in the December 2004 setting out options for a law in the Arab world en route to one Muslim world. The dismantling of years resurgent China and a potentially strong Caliphate of all Muslim nations". Most of oppressive rule presided over by Caliphate by the year 2020. recently General David Petraeus, when foreign hegemons is slowly but surely asked about his priorities in the 'surge' unravelling. For decades movements Constructing New Enemies: operation, in an interview with the have called for the re-establishment of Demonising the Caliphate & Islamic Times published on June 20th 2007, the Islamic political system, the politics said: "It is to disrupt al-Qaeda and its Caliphate, such that it now represents ability to conduct sensational attacks the only credible alternative to the Senior politicians, however, including and to try to continue the cycle of tyrannies and dictatorships that litter George Bush are now 'warning' of the violence, which they have been trying to the Muslims world. False arguments and consequences of its re-establishment. do all along. In addition, they are distortions have attempted to cast a Bush, in a speech to the American attempting try establish a real al-Qaeda shadow over the Islamic political nation on the 8th of October 2005 sanctuary in Iraq, a caliphate." system, but these attempts have been in stated: vain. There is growing evidence of a These arguments, amongst numerous widespread public opinion for the "The militants believe that controlling other arguments, have been forwarded return to the rule of law under Islam. one country will rally the Muslim in an attempt to discredit and divert Despite the unwelcome attention of masses, enabling them to overthrow all efforts towards the re-establishment of a those wishing to maintain an appalling moderate governments in the region, Caliphate, particularly through seeking status quo in the Muslim world, an and establish a radical Islamic empire to associate it exclusively with terrorism. inescapable momentum has been that spans from Spain to Indonesia." The effort has been extended to malign established for the return of the the goals of Islamic politics more gener- Caliphate. On December 5th 2005, the then US ally, as Blair did after 7/7 by attempting Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld to move the focus away from the acts of Certainly a global political movement in remarks pertaining to the future of terror to an 'evil ideology'. Such such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, active in over 40 Iraq at John Hopkins University said attempts have failed to convince countries, touching all corners of the Muslims and are met with scepticism by globe has a good finger on the pulse of "Iraq would serve as the base of a new the world more generally, given the US Muslim public opinion and develop- Islamic Caliphate to extend throughout and Britain's track record in forwarding ment of the call for political change in the Middle East and which would false claims in the War on Terror, such the Muslim world. Similarly, the US threaten the legitimate governments in as over Iraq.
  6. 6. Introduction - The ‘War on Terror’: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace - 7 Our report deconstructs such false asso- ” six years on, the battle for the hearts and minds of ciations between the Caliphate and Islamic politics and violence in sections 2 and 3. But more importantly, it also argues that the anxiety expressed over “ Muslims has been lost the establishment of the Caliphate has forces had just occupied, saying: As our report will go on to highlight in nothing to do with terrorism or security. "Our armies do not come into your section 3, opinion surveys too are It is a perceived threat to their cities and lands as conquerors or overwhelmingly pointing to support hegemony and primacy over a region of enemies, but as liberators. Your wealth for the return of Islamic rule. The the world that former Director of the has been stripped of you by unjust Center for Strategic Studies at the US State Department's Policy Planning men... The people of Baghdad shall University of Jordan undertook a Division, George Kennan, wrote after flourish under institutions which are in comprehensive survey of the key WWII in reference to the oil wealth of consonance with their sacred laws". Middle Eastern countries in a 2005 the Middle East: "that the United States report, finding that two thirds of had just acquired the greatest material He went on to say, "…your lands have respondents in central Arab countries prize in world history". been subject to the tyranny of strangers, felt that Shariah should be the sole your palaces have fallen into ruins, your source for legislation (a key require- Rebirth of a Colonial Age gardens have sunk in desolation, and ment for an Islamic State) and the your forefathers and yourselves have remaining third felt that Shariah should Indeed, current foreign policy towards groaned in bondage." Within three be a source of law. A recent study by the Muslim world, including the occu- years of the invasion, over ten thousand the University of Maryland published pation of Iraq, invasion of Afghanistan, had died in an Iraqi uprising against the in April 2007 also confirmed this trend support for unrepresentative tyrants, British, a conflict in which 'Bomber' towards Shariah, with the report and pressure towards Iran and Syria Harris referred to dropping "a bomb in stating: "Large majorities in most coun- amongst other actions by the US and every village that speaks out of turn" tries support the goals of requiring a Britain, cannot be considered recent or and Winston Churchill encouraged the strict application of sharia, keeping out isolated actions. They must be use of mustard gas admitting, "there is Western values, and even unifying all observed as part of a colonial tradition no doubt that we are a very cruel Islamic countries into a single Islamic of occupation, intervention and regime people". On the eve of the 2003 state." Interestingly, in addition to change. invasion of Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel greater than 70 per cent support for Tim Collins echoed Maude in a speech Shariah and a unifying Caliphate the The former British Foreign Secretary to British troops, saying "We go to respondents overwhelmingly rejected Lord Curzon remarked in almost liberate, not to conquer". The colossal that the change would come via jubilant tones at the end of the Caliphate loss of life and destruction in the after- violence: "Large majorities in all coun- in 1924 that, "The situation now is that math has exposed this neo-colonial tries oppose attacks against civilians for Turkey is dead and will never rise again, myth. political purposes and see them as because we have destroyed its moral contrary to Islam. Attacks on civilians strength, the Caliphate and Islam". But Replacing the Muslim World's Failed are seen as hardly ever effective. he also warned that the chapter of Political Architecture Politically motivated attacks against Islamic rule was not completely closed civilian infrastructure are also rejected when he stated "we must put an end to Meyrav Wurmser, the Director of as not justified". anything which brings about any Islamic Middle East Studies at the Hudson unity between the sons of the Muslims". Institute, characterised the Muslim Responding to Changes in the Muslim Curzon's remarks were recently echoed world as having failing or failed autoc- World and reaffirmed by the then British racies, repression, weak and deteriorat- Home Secretary Charles Clarke in a ing economies and double-digit unem- Of great interest will be how Western speech to the Heritage Foundation on ployment. The problems, Wurmser governments respond to these political October 6 2005 when he said: cited, are the regimes in the region - changes as they evolve in the Muslim unpopular with their own populations world. Despite posturing for domestic "...there can be no negotiation about the and viewed as backed by Western acceptance citing WMD, and then re-creation of the Caliphate; there can powers. The alternative to this failed regime change, Tony Blair finally be no negotiation about the imposition political architecture has increasingly admitted that the war in Iraq was all of Sharia (Islamic) law..." Muslims have centred on a greater role for Islam in about changing values. That values are been warned not to go down that path the politics of the Muslim world. not changing in the Muslim world again. Elections in the Muslim world now brings new challenges to Western invariably go to Islamic parties, despite thinking not least of which is the wide- The parallels with Iraq are equally perti- constitutions and other obstacles to spread opposition in the UK to the nent. Almost ninety years ago, the Islamic political representation, like the aggressive imposition of values which British commander Lieutenant General overt restrictions the Mubarak regime are poorly defined and for which there Stanley Maude issued a proclamation to in Egypt placed on Islamic parties such is little trust in the politicians suppos- the people of Baghdad, whose city his as arrests and strict quotas. edly leading the charge.
  7. 7. 8 - Introduction - The ‘War on Terror’: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace Despite the unwelcome The key point to note is that the Blair In 2002, Lieutenant Colonel Jack R. “ attention of those wishing to maintain an appalling status quo in narrative of simply changing a few unpopular governments and setting out a vision for effectively sidelining Islam via 'religious tolerance' within a secular framework completely lacks credibility MacClanahan Jr of the United States Army wrote a paper for the US Army War College about 'Winning Hearts and Minds in the Muslim World.' At that time, a mere six months after the onset the Muslim world, an in the Muslim world. The other plank of of the global War on Terrorism, he this policy which attempts to equate the wrote that: "The US may win the inescapable momentum has Caliphate and the desire for political military fight on terrorism but is thus far been established for the change with terrorism, lacks intellectual losing the public opinion fight in credibility when measured against the Muslim countries." return of the Caliphate public opinion that poll after poll are indicating. In fact the war mongering is Former British Prime Minister Tony on the other foot. The long war which Blair also remarked after the attacks that Bush/Blair have attempted to set up will rocked London in July 2005: "It is not a "Large majorities in most be a perpetual war if they think that clash of civilisations -- all civilized they can so easily change the core beliefs people, Muslim or other, feel revulsion countries support the goals of and aspirations of more than 70 per cent at it. But it is a global struggle. It is a requiring a strict application of of the Muslim world. Yet Muslims are battle of ideas and hearts and minds, still tarnished as the aggressors when it both within Islam and outside." sharia, keeping out Western is only a tiny element that have used values, and even unifying all violence against civilians; a violence Even the Conservative leader David which has been nothing like the shock Cameron jumped on the band wagon in Islamic countries into a single and awe tactics of Bush/Blair and is also November 2006, saying, "We must Islamic state." without the support of Muslim public remember that we are engaged in a opinion. battle for the hearts and minds of all (University of Maryland, 2007) Muslims in our country." ” The 'Battle for Hearts and Minds' More recently in January 2007, Blair's The West's Cold War experience and successor as Prime Minister, Gordon defeat of communism has shaped much Brown said in regards to the Iraq war of the rhetoric and policy regarding the and 'terrorism': "But you will not win Muslim world, particularly the success against extreme terrorist activities and credited to the cultural dimension of the particularly the propaganda activities, Cold War. The US think tank the RAND unless you have this battle of hearts and Corporation, for example, in its most minds that is won. And that makes me recent report about the Muslim world, think of the same cultural war that had 'Building Moderate Muslim Networks', to be fought against communism from describes how, "the propaganda and the 1940s and 50s onwards, is in a sense cultural-infiltration efforts of the United the model for what we've got to do States and Britain during the early years here." of the Cold War hold valuable lessons for the Global War on Terrorism". The Brown acknowledged the need for prop- perceived success of these "cultural-infil- aganda when, on 1st July 2007, he said: tration efforts" has fostered the belief that a battle for hearts and minds must "And that's why the cultural effort - be fought alongside the War on Terror almost similar to what happened in the to bring Muslims on side. Cold War in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, when we had to mount a propaganda Under the banner of this cultural war, a effort, if you like, to explain to people suite of McCarthyite labels such as that our values represented the best of 'extremist', 'radical', 'fanatic' and commitments to individual dignity, to 'militant' have become common liberty and to human life being taken currency. Their definitions are danger- seriously. And I think that's what we are ously loose and ever-broadening and going to have to talk about in the next manipulate the fact that there is no few years". consensus on the definition of terrorism to brand Muslims as more violence However, the Cold War propaganda prone. This use of language is exten- effort was not only about explaining sively explored in Section 1 of our Western values but also about denigrat- report. ing the Soviet Union and creating an
  8. 8. Introduction - The ‘War on Terror’: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace - 9 atmosphere of suspicion and threat. The Indeed, the policies of Western govern- The killing, torture and Cold War was, as much as for anything else, used as an excuse by Western governments to further their interests around the world. ments in the War on Terror have been so brutal and unprincipled that they have struggled to win over their own populations. Ironically, the real battle for hearts and minds is with ordinary “ abuse of people in the name of spreading democracy and liberalism to a part of the However, six years on, the battle for the people in the West, who have been world plagued by instability and hearts and minds of Muslims has been repeatedly lied to by their political lost. Very few believe that the War on leaders. As discredited politicians each tyranny has overshadowed any Terror, or any related domestic or try to convince their people that Iraq attempts at intellectual foreign policy, is premised on a sincere and Afghanistan simply need more or legitimate desire to maintain Britain's troops or more time, the general public persuasion security. The killing, torture and abuse becomes ever wearier with failed of people in the name of spreading policies. Furthermore, although the Iraq democracy and liberalism to a part of war proved that the justifications for the the world plagued by instability and War on Terror were riddled with falla- The Caliphate may soon tyranny has overshadowed any attempts cies and inaccuracies, there has been no at intellectual persuasion. Western states effective explanation to the public for become the defining debate of have today lost their moral authority. In why Western countries have been our age; the emerging prospect 1989, when the Berlin Wall collapsed, plunged into these conflicts by their Western states had not needed to fire a leaders. of its arrival must be met with shot in anger and were considered shiny a willingness to understand a beacons by the oppressed citizens of Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace Eastern Europe. Today, in the aftermath system that would undoubtedly of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, torture, What Charles Beard described as usher in a new era of stability 'extraordinary rendition' (or illegal Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, the ” kidnapping and torture), secret deten- title of Gore Vidal's most recent book is for the Muslim world tion facilities, the genocide of 650,000 an oxymoron that will never work, civilians in Iraq, the wanton use of except as a lie to keep civilian popula- white phosphorous and depleted tions from realising the reality of uranium and the reversal of Habeas shameful corporate-driven government Corpus through draconian security policies. There will be neither a wide- legislation, Western nations are consid- spread values change nor peace from ered more a part of the problem than carpet bombing, Guantanamo or part of the solution. The West's foreign Fallujah. Values driven more by corpo- policy has illustrated not just the unac- rate greed and strategic positioning will ceptable face of Western imperialism never win out over creedal principles but the true face of Western states with and the yearning for a return to a civili- the indomitable pursuit of profits, raw sation which led the world in tolerance materials and cheap labour driving the and personal and societal development inhumane policies of debt and political within a strong and consistent rule of support for dictators and tyrants around law. The Caliphate may soon become the world. the defining debate of our age; the emerging prospect of its arrival must be A recent Zogby/University of Maryland met with a willingness to understand a poll of citizens in six Middle Eastern system that would undoubtedly usher in states found that finding oil (76%), a new era of stability for the Muslim protecting Israel (68%), domination of world. the region (63%) and weakening the Muslim world (59%) were cited as the main objectives of America in the Middle East by respondents, compared to only 6% who agreed with President Bush and former Prime Minister Blair's view that their objectives are to merely spread human rights and democracy. This distrust is not confined to the Muslim world but is found globally from Caracas to Beijing with people in all continents looking at new models of governance and rule.
  9. 9. 10 - Section 1 - Challenging the Narrative: Radicalisation, Extremism & ‘Islamism’ Section 1 Challenging the Narrative: Radicalisation, Extremism & ‘Islamism’ The Muslim community in Britain has • The view that there is a process 'radicalised', subject to 'extremism' and been under a continuous spotlight since leading to violence because of the under the growing influence of the events of 7/7. The bombings trig- association of Islam and politics is 'Islamism'. These terms suffer from an gered a wide-ranging debate that sought wrong and is built on a false charac- inherent ambiguity that allows them to to understand the processes at work terisation of the relationship between be used in a number of different ways within the Muslim community, map its Islam and politics often with only a tenuous connection changes, scrutinise the influences it is with their dictionary meanings. As a subject to and identify events in its • There has, over many years, been a result, the political climate post 7/7 has recent history that may explain why process of a general politicisation of most influenced the use of these terms Muslim British citizens would want to the Muslim community and subse- and allowed them to become danger- turn on Britain. quent Islamicisation of Muslim ously broad in the behaviours they politics in Britain rather than 'radical- capture and label. For example, John This post 7/7 debate has blamed a isation' Esposito in his forthcoming book 'Who number of different factors for Speaks for Islam?' defines a 'political contributing to this heightened terror radical' as someone who believes "the threat, but has been offset by sensation- Part I 9/11 attacks were completely morally alist claims and alarmist comments that The Use, Misuse and Abuse of justified", whilst a report by the Policy have only acted to obscure an accurate Language in the Politics of Terrorism Exchange titled 'Living Apart Together' picture and to entrench stereotypes in equates 'radical' Islam with a desire for an already polarised debate. It has an Islam-based society, an idea that sought to discredit legitimate Islamic The language used post 7/7 has fostered actually carries mainstream support political ideas by suggesting they the belief that the Muslim community is amongst Muslims. increase the Muslim community's changing in a way that is de facto prob- susceptibility to using violence. To date, lematic and that the growing influence Historically, however varied their appli- the debate has lacked an honest, dispas- of Islam has been detrimental and is to cation, these terms have been consis- sionate assessment of the forces at play be treated with suspicion. It has created tently used to discredit political ideals within the Muslim community, the the false premise that such changes and goals through associating them with impact of which has been dangerous made 7/7 inevitable and, as a result, are violence or irrationality. There has been characterisations of Islam and the studied as if they are the cause of little responsibility to ensure the Muslim community, misinformed public violence and terrorism. This has phenomena they are used to describe fear and misguided government policy. spawned a phenomenon in which ideas actually fit the terms, but instead they themselves are treated as the key suspect have been used to declare as beyond the In this section, we argue that: in what are essentially security matters. pale, legitimate non-violent political ideas and goals. • The language used in the security The Political Manipulation of debate has become politicised to Terminology For example, the suggestion that counter dissenting voices and falsely 'extremist' and 'radical' appropriately brand the Muslim community as The predominant narrative has describe the views taking root within more violence prone described a community increasingly the Muslim community demonstrates a
  10. 10. Section 1 - Challenging the Narrative: Radicalisation, Extremism & ‘Islamism’ - 11 failure to understand ideas that rest tion' of Islam, as opposed to Islam being To date, the debate has outside of the prevailing political assumptions. Calls for Shariah, Islamic education, dress, and other social and political beliefs that break with the accepted secular liberal order and are inherently political, and an aberration because it employs Islam beyond its natural role as a personalised religion. Confronting the Myths: 'Islamism' and “ lacked an honest, dispassionate assessment of the forces at play within the Muslim community, the impact increasingly used to characterise the 'Political Islam' demands of extremists and radicals, as of which has been dangerous highlighted in the conclusions of the To such distinctions, a report by the Policy Exchange report. But although International Crisis Group, entitled characterisations of Islam and different to the west's secular tradition, 'Understanding Islamism', challenges the the Muslim community, they articulate orthodox and longstand- failure of commentators to understand ing, not marginal, Islamic beliefs. These the relationship between Islam and misinformed public fear and ideas may be unfamiliar to a secular politics. It refers to the: misguided government policy west but instead of considering them alternative approaches, they are often "…dichotomy, often taken for granted considered problematic and, as a result, by Western leaders, between on the one the suggestion that 'extremist' are addressed through a security frame- hand, Islam qua religion and its adher- and 'radical' appropriately work and new security legislation rather ents - 'ordinary decent Muslims' for than through engagement. This reflects whom 'Islam' is a matter of personal describe the views taking root a failure to understand Islam and there- piety, not political commitment - and, within the Muslim community fore to position its ideas within a secular on the other hand, 'Islamism' or 'politi- political system. The depiction has a cal Islam' - by implication an affair of a demonstrates a failure to profound impact on assessing the minority of agitators exploiting the faith understand ideas that rest Muslim community and subsequently of their fellow-Muslims for political suggesting their vulnerability to the use ends, stirring up resentment, constitut- outside of the prevailing of violence. ing a problem for Western interests and political assumptions 'friendly' Muslim states alike. This The Failure to Understand the dichotomy is misleading for several Relationship Between Islam and reasons…" "…the conception of 'political Politics Islam' inherent in this The distinction is born out of an impo- At the heart of much of the problem sition of a secular framework on Islam. dichotomy is unhistorical as with the current debate has been how An honest assessment of orthodox well as self-serving... In fact, Western commentators have chosen to Islamic literature demonstrates this understand Islam's relationship with distinction is false and that Islam natu- Islam had been a highly politics and the role this has played in rally forms the basis of political life as it politicised religion for subsequently supporting the belief that a does moral and spiritual. Islamic history generations before 1979. It only threatening radicalising undercurrent is too is dominated by the role of Islam in alive in the Muslim community. As politics, with the Caliphate - the Islamic appeared to have become Islam plays a greater role in the politics political system - ending only at the apolitical in the historically of both the Muslim community in beginning of the twentieth century in Britain and the wider Muslim world, 1924 after thirteen centuries, dominat- specific and short-lived heyday Western commentators have chosen to ing some 94 per cent of Islamic history. of secular Arab nationalism describe this as abnormal and a manipu- Even since its demise, political debates lation of Islam. in the Muslim world have strongly between 1945 and 1970" featured Islam in all but a few decades. (International Crisis Group) The term 'Islamism' has been used to The ICG's report goes on to describe encapsulate this view. The Policy how: Exchange report referred to earlier "the much laboured distinction describes 'Islam' as "a religion practiced "…the conception of 'political Islam' between 'moderates' and by Muslims worldwide" but 'Islamism' as inherent in this dichotomy is unhistori- "a political ideology that aims to create a cal as well as self-serving. The term 'Islamists' ... tends to get state and society in strict conformity 'political Islam' is an American coinage translated into the distinction with religious doctrine." A report titled which came into circulation in the wake 'The West, Islam and Islamism' by the of the Iranian revolution. It implied or between those who are think-tank Civitas, describes how the presupposed that an 'apolitical Islam' susceptible to co-optation and Latin suffix 'ism' refers to the politicisa- had been the norm until Khomeini those who take their beliefs in tion of its prefix, in this case 'Islam'. The turned things upside down. In fact, term is therefore used to imply that the Islam had been a highly politicised earnest". (International use of Islam in politics is a 'politicisa- religion for generations before 1979. It Crisis Group) ”
  11. 11. 12 - Section 1 - Challenging the Narrative: Radicalisation, Extremism & ‘Islamism’ the trigger has not - as some have alleged - been organisa- “ only appeared to have become apolitical in the historically specific and short- lived heyday of secular Arab national- tions falsely sensationalising...events, but images of western ism between 1945 and 1970". interference, injustice and double standards in the Muslim world and the failure of leaderships in both the West and the Muslim Labelling Views that Challenge the Interests of Western Governments, 'Extremist' Maintaining a false distinction between world to act against these perceived injustices. but is essentially academic. It is born out of a distinction that lacks credibility in religious identity. In the period that ” followed, a litany of crises in the Muslim Islam and Islamic politics has served political purposes by attempting to the phenomena it is describing. A trend world were marked by the first Gulf War isolate elements of Muslim society that towards using Islam in politics is consis- in Iraq, the persecution of Muslims in are assumed to threaten western inter- tent with Islamic orthodoxy and not an Bosnia, Somalia, the impact of sanctions ests. The ICG report describes how "the aberration. The terms construct false on Iraq, a number of confrontations concept of 'political Islam' and its defini- milestones on a path to 'radicalisation'. between the West and the Muslim tion as a problem only occurred when It has acted to inflate the belief that world, to current hostilities in Islamic politics began to articulate anti- Muslims are becoming more radical. Afghanistan and Iraq following the Western or, more specifically, anti- onset of the War on Terror. These all American attitudes" and that "'Islam' The question that needs to be asked is impacted Muslim thinking in Britain, was only seen to be political when it was whether such terms are appropriate in but how? seen to be a threat." Likewise, the much describing events and changes taking laboured distinction between 'moder- place in the Muslim community, or if These events have acted to awaken a ates' and 'Islamists' that follows from they are tenuous extrapolations that consciousness in the Muslim commu- this distinction "usually boils down to loosely use events to conjure up a false nity, triggering concerns about Muslims distinguishing between those with picture of the processes at work. These from either their countries of origin or whom Western governments feel they terms are sufficiently vague and are those to whom they have a sense of reli- can 'do business' (the moderates) and liable to expand in their meaning to gious affiliation. However, the trigger those with whom they cannot or will provide false evidence that orthodox has not - as some have alleged - been not. This tends to get translated into the Islamic changes in the Muslim commu- organisations falsely sensationalising distinction between those who are nity represent threatening undercur- these events, but images of western susceptible to co-optation and those rents. It is important to pierce through interference, injustice and double stan- who take their beliefs in earnest". the terms to understand the underlying dards in the Muslim world and the events, not to understand them through failure of leaderships in both the West Furthermore, a Gallup poll taken in the prism of the current language. and the Muslim world to act against November 2006 of nine Muslim coun- these perceived injustices. The prolifera- tries, featured in John Esposito's book A Brief History of Political Change tion of information through the globali- referred to earlier, found that the impor- Amongst Britain's Muslims sation of the media has been instrumen- tance of religion and attendance of reli- tal in bringing these events to the atten- gious service was near identical between The Muslim community in Britain is tion of both Muslim and non-Muslim so-called 'moderates' and 'political changing and has been for a while, but audiences and with it alternative and radicals', if not slightly more so in the when this process started, why and what uncensored news streams that have case of moderates. it represents is widely contested. challenged state sponsored and tradi- Importantly, we must ask if it is accurate tional media reporting. to use 'radicalisation' to describe those Part II changes. An Awakening Political Consciousness Politicisation not 'Radicalisation' For some, the process started during the This heightened sense of concern has furore that surrounded the publication not determined the nature of the subse- How Best to Describe Changes in the of the Satanic Verses. The subsequent quent response from the Muslim Muslim Community? response from Britain's Muslim commu- community. In fact, responses have been nity and mosque elders, from book in a multitude of different directions not The insistence of some commentators to burning to large-scale demonstrations, all of which have been religious or maintain a distinction between Islam demonstrated, it is argued, the first signs Islamic. and politics has provided false evidence of a mobilised Muslim mass in defence of Muslims becoming 'radical': as of religion. This mobilisation repre- Overall, it led to an increasingly politi- Muslims move from benign religious sented a departure from a predominant cally active Muslim community. For practice to using Islam in their politics, Asian identity with which Muslims had some, it involved involvement with according to these terms, they move associated during the waves of immigra- more conventional British politics such from Islam to Islamism. This trend is tion of the 60s/70s, to a religious as with the Labour party, the Left or described as one towards radicalisation distinction and increasingly assertive organisations fighting for social justice,
  12. 12. Section 1 - Challenging the Narrative: Radicalisation, Extremism & ‘Islamism’ - 13 particularly amongst university it is essential that Western commentators and policymakers educated Muslims. This was not only for pragmatic reasons but also through assimilating more generally into the ideology of these organisations, as it saw “ revisit their attitude towards Islam and politics. ” a widening of the campaigns with which practice, affiliation with and member- sic to Islam, honest and forthright they associated as not restricted to the ship of Islamic organisations, from local engagement becomes a possibility and Muslim world, taking up causes in Latin mosque associations to global Islamic presents an opportunity for a more America or the Third World more political parties, to more vocal demands, constructive relationship. generally. all of which now stand at record levels amongst second and third generation Taking Account of Globalisation and Likewise, some assessed the issues as Muslims in the UK. Impact of Western Policies in the having a particular Muslim bearing. Muslim world With talk of a green menace replacing On the whole, therefore, the processes the Soviet threat, a clash of civilisations have responded to a heightened sense of More broadly, a discussion on Muslims and the depiction of Muslims and Islam political injustice through first 'politici- in the UK should be understood in the being the common denominator of sation' and subsequent 'Islamicisation' of context of the Muslim world. The most of the key global crises following the Muslim community. Politicians and changes experienced within the UK the fall of the Berlin wall, a number of some commentators have instead mirror changes occurring more gener- Muslims mobilised around defending preferred to use 'radicalisation' to ally in the Muslim world that predated Muslim interests, Islamic values or describe these changes and trend the Salman Rushdie affair, particularly responding to injustices specifically towards Islam, in an attempt to malign the move away from secular, nationalis- perpetrated against Muslims. them at the outset. tic politics to Islamically based political activity. The advent of globalisation In the first instance therefore, the Revisiting Thinking on particularly through the movement of change in the Muslim community was a 'Radicalisation' information and human populations has growing politicisation, both religious made it less possible to understand and non-religious. The trend towards greater Islamic politi- trends purely in the boundaries of cal practice is consistent with Islamic national borders; globalisation has orthodoxy and a long-standing histori- brought changes occurring in the responding to or cal Islamic political experience that has Muslim world to the shores of Britain's “ understanding processes at work within the Muslim community in the UK will lasted centuries. It represents a legiti- mate non-violent political approach that may contrast with secular politics, but cannot be equated with a violent threat Muslim community and it is unlikely to be divorceable as the world continues to shrink. As a result, responding to or understanding processes at work within for merely being so. Radicalisation, the Muslim community in the UK will continue to require a more extremism and other similar terms, continue to require a more astute under- astute understanding of the amongst them militant, fundamentalist standing of the processes at work within processes at work within the and fanatic, denigrate Islamic political the Muslim world more generally. change through mere labelling, but Muslim world more more importantly fail to explain events To this end, it is naïve to ignore the generally. An Islamic Revival ” accurately. This would have only been of academic interest if it hadn't resulted in the growing polarisation between communities in Britain through prolif- impact of Britain's engagement in the Muslim world on attitudes of Muslims in this country, information about which can no longer be tightly erating ignorance about Islam and the controlled given the rise of alternative Over time, this politicisation has moved Muslim community. international news agencies, such as to take on a more Islamic form and those which broadcast from the Muslim represents what one may describe as a In taking this debate forward, it is world, or the huge networks of informa- subsequent 'Islamicisation' of Muslim essential that Western commentators tion made possible through the internet. politics. Flirtations with various political and policymakers revisit their attitude experiments, movements and associa- towards Islam and politics. If they It is important to note also that Western tions has changed over time either continue to insist they are separate and policies in the Muslim world have had a because of a failure of these movements structure policies on this assumption, similar impact in terms of politicisation to respond adequately to the perceived they will simply encourage what will be on many non-Muslims in the Arab problems or because the sense of the perceived as more extreme measures world. We highlight later in the report problem as having a particular Muslim towards the Muslim community because how polls conducted of non-Muslim or Islamic bearing has developed. This Muslims simply consider themselves opinion in the Muslim world also show increasing 'Islamicisation' of Muslim moving to a more orthodox not extreme heightened politicisation and opposition politics or Islamic political practice can form of Islam. If on the other hand they to Western policies in the Muslim be perceived through levels of religious acknowledge this relationship is intrin- world.
  13. 13. 14 - Section 2 - 'Unspinning' the Accusations of Violence against Islam Section 2 'Unspinning' the Accusations of Violence against Islam As discussed in the previous section, argument is extended to include the political violence demonstrates that it is some commentators have asserted that possibility of violence. cross-cultural, cross religion and the trend towards greater Islamic ideology and is driven by a number of practice combined with political In this section, we argue that: factors often born out of a sense of concerns over events in the Muslim political injustice, occupation or world has made the Muslim community • The trend towards greater Islamic invasion. An academic study by more vulnerable to the use of violence political practice, far from being a Professor Robert Pape, an Associate to counteract perceived injustices. precursor for violence, often provides Professor at Chicago University, people with an alternative. published in his book 'Dying to Win: The Policy Exchange report describes The Logic of Suicide Terrorism', how "Islamism is not only a security • Politically motivated violence is a demonstrates that the advent of suicide problem…" implying that it is at least wider issue most often occurring as a bombers is not unique to Muslims but that. Tony Blair's recent announcement response to political oppression and is rather a generic cross-human to make Islamic studies 'strategically injustice rather than because of phenomena driven by a number of important' to the British national ideology or theology. Hence, the asso- political factors rather than theological interest, arguing it will help prevent ciation of Islam with political violence beliefs. 'violent' extremism, demonstrates that is misleading. the study of Islam by the Muslim The study included the first complete community is thought to be associated • There is little support for violence as a database of every suicide attack around with an increased threat from violence. means of change as demonstrated by the world from 1980 to early 2004 and As a result, the logic requires this recent polls of Muslim opinion, which conducted in native-language sources - Islamicisation of Muslim politics to be also show increasingly levels of Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, and Tamil, and treated with suspicion and, at some support for Islamic politics. others - that allowed it to gather infor- level, stymied and prevented from mation not only from newspapers, but growing in influence. • It is important to separate goals from also from products of the perpetrating means so as to not to link widely held organisations . The study found that: It is important to reiterate that while in legitimate political ideas with a secular framework politicisation may violence. • The world leader in suicide attacks be supported, a growing awareness of was the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka - a Islam and its use in politics is seen by Marxist, secular group. some to stand at odds with secular, irre- Part I ligious politics. In this sense the trend is Decoupling Political Violence from Islam • Two thirds of Muslim 'suicide unconventional and outside the prevail- bombers' have been from countries ing political culture in the West which where US forces have or are still has led some to describe it with terms Violence is Driven by Political not maintaining military forces. that undermine their credibility. The Theological Factors terms 'radical' and 'extremist' misrepre- • The presence of US forces is creating sent the changes in the Muslim commu- Violence cannot be treated as an exten- suicide attackers in Iraq which was a nity, and misrepresent the phenomena sion of the trend towards greater country that had never previously of Islamicisation, but have a powerful Islamic political practice within the had a suicide attack in its history impact in the manner in which the Muslim community. The history of prior to the 2003 invasion.
  14. 14. Section 2 - 'Unspinning' the Accusations of Violence against Islam - 15 Political injustice provides oxygen for ing the sense of political injustice and in do not advocate violence and have the proponents of such attacks to justify driving individuals to undertake acts of refused to endorse the attacks on civil- such actions. It is therefore crucial that political violence against those they ians in Western capitals. acts of political violence are analysed as perceive as aggressors, whether the a separate phenomena based upon the rhetoric of legitimisation is religious or Regarding the use of violence more individuals who choose to engage in otherwise, following the conclusions of generally, the ICG report on Islamism them, their justifications and the role that Professor Pape's study. This is particu- makes a clear distinction between local and foreign political injustice has in larly important given the Muslim world Islamic political activity and violence. providing oxygen to justify such acts. is a region already at the mercy of The report concludes that while hostility despotic rulers and tyrants. Rather than to Western policy is widespread this Foreign Policy and Political Injustice blame a whole community or its does not necessarily translate into leanings towards Islamic politics gener- support for violence: Regarding the July 2005 bombings in ally, it is important to understand the London, as is now common knowledge, political nature of the factors that drive "Suspicion of, if not opposition to, the the British government was forewarned such acts as opposed to solely attribut- behaviour of al-Qaeda and its imitators that its involvement in the catastrophic ing them to Islamic theology or ideas, is widespread within Islamist circles and US invasion of Iraq had increased which does not take account of the all but unanimous among political Britain's vulnerability to the threat of a history of political violence across Islamists…at the same time, hostility to retaliation attack. The leaked report cultures, religions and ideologies. Western and especially U.S. policy is from the UK's Joint Terrorism Analysis very widespread but does not translate Centre (JTAC), which predated the into support for, let alone participation attacks, warned: Islamic Politics is an Alternative to in, al-Qaeda's global jihad except for a Violence as a Means of Change tiny minority." "Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of The phenomenon of Muslims using terrorist related activity in the UK". violence on Western soil is a relatively Islamic Political Activism is an recent phenomenon and brought to the Alternative to Violent Expression In April 2005, a report drawn up by the fore by 9/11. Non-violent calls for a Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) political vision of a Muslim world Islamic political organisations have entitled "International Terrorism: governed by an Islamic political system played an influential role in directing Impact of Iraq" was even more explicit, - or Caliphate - have been heard ever Muslim concerns towards non-violent stating: since the Caliphate was formally abol- political activity. Some organisations ished at the beginning of the twentieth have chosen the democratic process, "We judge that the conflict in Iraq has century. These calls and this vision while others have advocated non-violent exacerbated the threat from interna- therefore predate this modern phenom- political expression outside of existing tional terrorism and will continue to enon by more than fifty years. Talk of political structures. have an impact in the long term. It has establishing an Islamic political system reinforced the determination of terror- has continued to feature across the For example, Hizb ut-Tahrir has been at ists who were already committed to spectrum of political debate in the the forefront of working for a Caliphate attacking the West and motivated others Muslim world even after its demise. in the Muslim world since 1953 through who were not." urging Muslims to engage in a non- For numerous organisations, the goal of violent political struggle against the Amongst numerous other voices, a returning Islam to state and society rulers of the Muslim world. Its literature report in July 2005 by the foreign affairs features at the root of their political and behaviour prepare its members only think-tank Chatham House, also effec- activity. The means they employ differ, with the political means for change. In tively expressed the view that the as does their vision of the Islamic politi- fact, globally, it remains a fact that large invasion of Iraq had made the world a cal system's exact workings. Some opt numbers of people who joined Hizb ut- more dangerous place. In their view, for a gradual reform of the political Tahrir left armed militancy after being there was "no doubt" that the invasion system using existing structures and convinced of Hizb ut-Tahrir's political of Iraq had: "given a boost to the al- mechanisms. Others encourage individ- methodology on the basis of Islamic Qaida network" in "propaganda, recruit- ual reform, whilst others, like the evidences. In Uzbekistan, for example, ment and fundraising". Also that "riding Islamic political party Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a pillion with a powerful ally has proved opt to operate through a different model group that has advocated armed struggle, costly in terms of British and US of political activity. Most such organisa- witnessed a large turnover from its ranks military lives, Iraqi lives, military expen- tions are non-violent, have not endorsed to Hizb ut-Tahrir. The commitment of diture and the damage caused to the attacks such as those in New York or Hizb ut-Tahrir not to be involved in any counter-terrorism campaign." London, and do not advocate violence violent activity is based on its faith and as a methodology for change. Indeed, understanding of the revelation of God, It is essential to understand and amongst those Islamic organisations which makes its involvement in any acknowledge therefore the role that that seek to establish a Shariah-based terrorist or violent activity impossible, foreign policy has played in exacerbat- government the overwhelming majority either in theory and practice. No person
  15. 15. 16 - Section 2 - 'Unspinning' the Accusations of Violence against Islam “ Rather than blame a can join Hizb ut-Tahrir until he or she Islam in their countries - consistent adopts this political and intellectual with the goals of al Qaeda - but also whole community or its methodology and approach. express an openness to outside leanings towards Islamic cultural influences. Large majorities in politics generally, it is most countries support the goals of Part II requiring a strict application of sharia, important to understand the Poll Evidence Refutes the Alleged Link keeping out Western values, and even political nature of the factors between Islam's Political Tenets and unifying all Islamic countries into a Violence as a Means of Change single Islamic state." that drive such acts as opposed to solely attributing them to • "On the other hand, majorities in all The findings of a number of recent polls countries regard the increasing inter- Islamic theology or ideas, which conducted across the Muslim world connection of the world through trade does not take account of the refute the assertion that there is a neces- and communication as positive" history of political violence sary association between Islamic politi- cal ideas and violence as a means of • "Majorities or pluralities also reject across cultures, religions change or the argument that Islamic the idea that violent conflict between and ideologies political ideas inevitably lead to Muslim and Western culture is violence. The evidence from these polls inevitable and say that it is possible to shows that whilst support of Islamic find common ground." The findings of a number of political ideas - including a greater role recent polls conducted across for Shariah in the governance of their • "Large majorities in all countries countries - has steadily grown amongst opposes attacks against civilians for the Muslim world refute the Muslim populations, support for political purposes and see them as assertion that there is a violence and its use in political change contrary to Islam. Attacks on civilians has dropped. We are therefore presented are seen as hardly ever effective. necessary association between with an inverse relationship between Politically motivated attacks against Islamic political ideas and strengthening Islamic politics and the civilian infrastructure are also rejected violence as a means of change use of violence, rather than the direct as not justified" relationship some Western commenta- or the argument that Islamic tors and politicians propagate. • "Consistent with the opposition to political ideas inevitably lead attacks on civilians in principle, and in Of these polls, we will consider the contrast to the significant support for to violence findings of three of the most compre- attacks on US troops, majorities in all hensively conducted surveys carried out countries disapprove of attacks on “Large majorities in most by leading pollsters. civilians in the United States as well as civilians in Europe. Nearly as many countries support the goals of Program on International Policy disapprove of attacks on Americans requiring a strict application of Attitudes (PIPA), University of working for US companies in Islamic Maryland, April 2007 countries." sharia, keeping out Western values, and even unifying all The recently issued report by the Centre for Strategic Studies, University Islamic countries into a single University of Maryland entitled 'Muslim of Jordan, February 2005 Public Opinion on US Policy, Attacks on Islamic state” Civilians and al Qaeda' is one of the The Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS) at (PIPA, University of Maryland, April 2007) most recent and revealing polls of the University of Jordan published a opinion in the Muslim world. The survey entitled "Revisiting the Arab report found strong support for estab- Street" in February 2005 in which they The vast majority of lishing a single Islamic state, keeping out interviewed numerous population respondents across Egypt, Western values, rejection of the notion samples (national representative sample, of inevitable violence between the university students, media elites and Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Muslim world and the West, and the business elites) in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon believed that Shariah rejection of attacks on civilians in the Palestine and Lebanon. The report was West or elsewhere. based on interviews conducted between should be a source of March and June of 2004. legislation, with a strong Some of the report's key references majority in many of the which illustrate these points are In addition to findings that showed summarised below: support for a greater role of the Shariah countries stating that it ” and Islamic scholars in the politics and should be the only source • "Most respondents express strong governance of their countries, the support for expanding the role of findings also suggested that hostility
  16. 16. Section 2 - 'Unspinning' the Accusations of Violence against Islam - 17 towards the West was largely down to PEW Global Attitudes Project “Pew surveys found political reasons, such as the foreign policy of the US and Britain towards the Muslim world, rather than religious or theological arguments. Some of the report's findings were: A number of Pew Global Attitudes surveys undertaken over the past few years also support the findings of the above mentioned reports with regards to “ majorities of Muslims in nine of the 14 countries surveyed favored a "very large" the increasing support for the role of or "fairly large" role for Islam in • The vast majority of respondents Islam in politics and governance and a political life. In Pakistan, 86% across Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Syria strong decline in support for violence. and Lebanon believed that Shariah of Muslim respondents should be a source of legislation, with A Pew Global Attitudes Survey carried expressed that view, as did a strong majority in many of the out in February 2005 entitled ‘Iraqi Vote countries stating that it should be the Mirrors Desire for Democracy in the large majorities of Muslims in only source. Muslim World’ states: Indonesia (82%) and Jordan • Strong adherence to the precepts of • "…while Muslims are generally recep- (73%). In Turkey, however, far Islam was not found to necessarily tive to democracy and supportive of fewer Muslims (41%) think that equate with hostility or negativity basic freedoms, they also believe that toward the West. The tension between Islam should have a prominent role in Islam should play a major role the Arab world and the West is not politics. Pew surveys found majorities in the nation's political life” perceived in either religious or of Muslims in nine of the 14 countries (PEW Global Attitudes Project, 2005) cultural terms. surveyed favored a "very large" or "fairly large" role for Islam in political • Arabs believe that their societal values life. In Pakistan, 86% of Muslim The Centre for Strategic stand in sharp contrast to the West. respondents expressed that view, as They associate Western societies with did large majorities of Muslims in Studies...found that of those liberalism, individual liberty, democ- Indonesia (82%) and Jordan (73%). polled, most disagreed with the racy and technological progress, but In Turkey, however, far fewer Muslims also with increased levels of societal (41%) think that Islam should play a US definition of terrorism and problems. In contrast, they see their major role in the nation's political saw violence and the groups societies as maintaining stronger life." values of tradition and family, and as that engage in it as legitimate being less plagued with social • "Other surveys have shown that if they were part of a strategy problems. The exception to this is that Muslims take a nuanced view of Arabs believe financial and adminis- religion and politics. Shibley Telhami, to counter the perceived trative corruption is more prevalent in a professor at the University of occupation policies of the US Arab societies than in the West. Maryland, polled in six predomi- and Israel… Even 74 per cent nantly Muslim countries last June - • Arab reactions to Western, and most including Egypt and Saudi Arabia - of Lebanese Christians viewed specifically US, foreign policy in the and found that while most respon- Hezbollah as a resistance region were identified as being the dents favored a stronger role for the single most important factor influenc- ing Arab attitudes. When asked if the anti-American attitude was a result of American values or American policy in the Muslim world, 90 per cent of clergy in politics, few expressed admi- ration for religious leaders." It is important to highlight here that Pew have evaluated a desire for democ- organisation ” Egyptians, 79 per cent or Moroccans, racy by assessing support for ideals such 76 per cent of Jordanians and 80 per as allowing open criticism of govern- cent of Lebanese said that it was ment, greater participation in the politi- because of American policy. Most cal process and media reporting without believed that America and Britain were censorship. These all relate to empower- selfish and insincere in their foreign ing the citizenry with greater powers of policy and that America attempts to accountability notably absent in the dominate countries, violates human Muslim world, but such rights are not rights and rather than approach coun- exclusive to democracy. Within Islamic tries with dignity and respect tries to literature there are detailed discussions impose its policies on other countries. on the mechanisms for political partici- As the survey cites, these findings pation and accountability were not specific to the Arab world but were similar to findings in South A Pew Global Attitudes Survey Korea, Russia and Brazil. published in July 2005 entitled ‘Islamic