Turning the tide
The solution is
to embrace those who are
passionate about change
at the core
By Faye (Fereshteh) Farhang
June 15, 2004
In a recent
forum held at JFK School of Government at Harvard, former presidential
counter terrorism chief, Richard Clarke, insisted that the United
States can win the war on terror if it campaigns to gain favor
in Muslim countries, where the overall influence of Al-Qaida and
terrorist elements are a growing obstacle.
Clarke said, "The problem with the long term
is how do we persuade millions of people in the Islamic world
'who believe in Jihad' that they are wrong?" His answer -- to engage in
the "battle" for hearts
and minds and believe that "until we turn the tide, we are not going to
Clarke proposes an apparently fundamental
solution to what seems to have become an uncontrollable phenomenon
-- the growing influence
of Al-Qaida and Islamic fundamentalism in general. And in turn the promotion
a twisted, and bastardized version of what Jihad itself means.
Yet is "winning hearts and minds" alone a sufficient
solution to a problem that threatens the world? Or are we simply prescribing
treatment of the benign
tumor for the malignant?
Those in the Middle East, especially the poor,
find great solace in Islam, as a religion that substantiates their
thus they remain the perfect target for manipulative fundamentalists
who seek a following.
This sort of religious manipulation - the winning
over of feeble human minds brainwashed to think that all intellectuals,
the West, and
a different faith than theirs seeks their extermination can be categorized
as the "mullah trick of the
century!" After all, the Iranian revolution is a perfect example
of how religious manipulation can send thousands into the streets
shouting death to
tyranny while all along marching to the gates of hell.
Yet even if
the U.S. were to embark on a full fledged campaign to convince
that America is not the "so-called" enemy, that America seeks
positive change in the region, that American soldiers are there to not
U.S. interests but maintain an agenda to help Iraqis regain
their footing - will anything change?
Even if the middle class
and the poor are embraced as equally as Mid-East intellectuals
who play puppet
America's needs--- will this somehow curb the development of Al
Qaida and the Fundamentalists?
if the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq gets miraculously dismissed
by Middle Easterners as shortcomings of individual soldiers and
not caused by the dominating presence of an arrogant America ---
would this really curtail the power of extremism?
Indeed it is wishful thinking to believe that the
"absolute embrace of humanity" in the Mid-East will somehow stand
in the face of
Extreme Islam. When the doctrines are corrupt, the solution is
not to embrace the
followers, to satisfy them, but rather to embrace those who are
passionate about change
at the core.
If America and the West remain sincere in their
respective efforts to help the suffering Middle Easterners, they
by now that
the only way to effectively combat Extreme Islam is by supporting
and the Secular Muslim agenda. In the face of a pious population,
the sincere Revisionists who see the 'wrong' that has become
of their religious traditions possess a passion to change it.
Finding those people, distinguishing
them from the corrupt, embracing their passion, and giving them the power and
forefront to bring about change is the only viable solution to a religion that
has been used, abused and manipulated by its own followers.
The day that an
influential mullah, an intellectual of Islam, admits the shortcomings
of the followers of
Islam, and describes the fundamentals of this religion as pillars that sustain
a believer and not as propaganda to hate others is the day that Mr. Clarke
will have helped 'turn the tide' -- the day that the
Middle East will breathe again.
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