Friday, July 27, 2007
The Muslims of the West, discontent and alienation
When the British authorities discovered that the plotters and terrorist masterminds behind the attempt to blow up British airports, early this month, were trained doctors, it was a shocking development in some respect, but it is also a wake up call for governments that terrorism evolves and spawns keeping pace with anti-terrorism measures. In light of those terrorists incidents in Britain you just never know who could be or would be terrorist thus turning terrorist’s profiles upside down.
The negative aspect of these events, on the Muslim community as a whole, is that it once again refocused the watchful gaze of security and intelligence services on Muslim communities in the west but it is impossible for security services to watch every person or have a way to know what people hide in their hearts and minds. Therefore governments ought to take a different approach in dealing with terrorism threats, something along the lines of “Sociology of terrorism”
In the case of Britain, one place to look at is the relations between the Muslim immigrant community with the larger British society which parallels to some extent the relations of the US Muslim community with the larger society and its media, political and social institutions.
The source of Muslim discontent in Britain or in the US, in my opinion, is “Alienation" which is a shade of racism, with that I mean that Arabs or Muslims in general tend to be demeaned in the public domain, by the media or Hollywood and sometimes by ill-conceived government policies. Muslims views are under represented in western societies despite their large numbers as in the case of France and other European countries.
To have a Muslim or an Arab name is a sure guarantee to make you a suspect sometimes blatantly and sometimes in a subtle way depends on the location and circumstance.
Alienation impedes upward mobility and the progress of the community, it could also lead to gradual radicalization of individuals of whom terrorist organizations and their recruiters might find a fertile ground to recruit in their ranks and provide them with a vent to strike back at the society that they perceived alienated and discriminated against them.
The war in Iraq has exasperated the sense of alienation among Muslims in that they see their governments i.e. Britain or the US are waging an "unjust war" in their opinion, against a Muslim country without legitimate justification. They see that as an assault on their values, holy places and without an outlet for them to express their dismay or objection to this type of polices, they therefore find an easy vent or an outlet in extremist groups that eventually, perhaps, would evolve into acts of terrorism through exploiting their discontent and anger.
Alienation of person(s) from his surrounding and the larger society is certainly placing the individual in a mental ghetto that impairs vision and reason. A person who is placed in such environment will end up becoming an easy prey for terrorists to harvest.
It is prudent upon Western governments that Muslims in their societies must be assured of their place in the society without being prejudiced or looked down upon as suspects simply because they have foreign sounding names or because they look “different”
This could be done through integration not assimilation for the community does not need to melt down or dissolve into the larger society so it can be accepted.
Integration could be done through various government programs designed to foster a relation of trust and good citizenry between government, individual and community.
Assimilation on the other hand might create a backlash between two different set of value systems that not necessarily in conflict on all issues, but like everything in life, have some differences between them.
Lack of opportunities for Muslim in Britain and in the US is one way to prevent Muslim integration in that society and therefore increase their Isolation and Alienation. How can you feel like an American or British or French when you are constantly reminded that you are “an Alien” foreigner” or an “Arab” Muslim” and sometimes denied jobs and better opportunities because of who you are or where you come from.
The war in Iraq has my opinion increased the risks of terrorism in the western world almost ten folds. PR gimmicks by the US government officials like Karen Hughes who is trying to “win the hearts and minds” will not work. In the mind of Muslims across the globe, the US or British polices are designed to win them over is like when an accused notorious murderer who is trying to change your mind about him by taking you out to a steak dinner. You’ll eat the steak, but you’re not going to change your views of him.
Western governments must deal with their growing Muslim population as an integral part of the society that has its own problems and concerns which must be addressed and dealt with, not as an alien outpost or a security issue.