DENIZENS OF PROSPEROUS LANDS
FAISAL HASHMI on the situation of Muslims in Western countries
Since September 11 attacks, Muslims living in America and Western countries have become the subject of constant discussion and a cause of worry for others. They have been living in fear, which has been compounded by massive bomb blasts in Madrid and London.
For almost two years after September 11, people were made to believe that New York’s World Trade Centre and Washington’s Pentagon (headquarters of US Defence Department) were attacked because Muslims hated democracy.
Obviously, it was nothing but propaganda. If the attackers had to target US democracy or vent their ire against high values of freedom and liberalism, they would certainly have targeted the Statue of Liberty, which is a symbol of such lofty ideas.
During the last one year, this propaganda has begun to fizzle out. It is now popular belief in Europe and the US that the Muslim rage against America is not due to its internal policies (these, perhaps, are far better than the policies of African and Asian countries). But it is US foreign policy marked by aggression, occupation and exploitation of other countries’ natural resources that infuriates the Muslim world.
The US administration knows it very well. But, instead of confessing the truth America has handpicked dictators in those hapless countries to serve its interests. These dictators’ only concern is to please America. They show apathy to democratic values as well as public interest. It is mere coincidence that almost all those countries where the US feels its interests threatened are Muslim-populated. This is why the clash between the US and the Muslim world appears to be a Muslim-Christian conflict.
Despite all this, a majority of Muslims living in the US is happy and prosperous. American Muslims dispute US administration on its foreign policies, yet are not supporters of terror attacks. There was a marked increase in hate crimes against Muslims following September 11. Now it has begun to taper off. The situation can be controlled by strict adherence to law. However, today’s American policy is that like other religious and racial groups Muslims must be provided with an opportunity to take part in nation-building, and the state should take care of their interests. The constitutional guarantees for Muslims must be honestly enforced.
Remarkably, despite being under scanner, Afro-Asians (especially people from the Muslim world) have not ceased to trickle into America (to settle down, of course). In this regard, 2005 broke last 20 years’ record. Those who came to the US during 2005 are from Iran, Sudan, Algeria, and such Arab countries where people are seething with rage against US foreign policy. However, once people reach there, America’s independence, well-managed law and order system, and high democratic values leave a good impression on them. Obviously, these qualities are seldom found in their countries of origin. Thus, there hardly remains a person condoning acts of terror.
The situation is rather different in the countries under European Union. A large number of Muslims live in Britain, which is (in)famous for its duplicitous policies. However, Muslims happily live there as they are satisfied with Britain’s smoothly functioning law and order. But unlike in the US, Muslims don’t occupy high positions in government, business and professions in Britain.
The British Muslim population largely comes from the Indian subcontinent. In Germany, a majority of the Muslim population is from Turkey, while in France it is from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In the US, Muslims are about 40 to 70 lakh, in France 50 to 60 lakh, in Germany 30 to 35 lakh, in Britain about 20 lakh, and in Canada and the Netherlands about 10 lakh. Besides, Muslims also live happily in other Western countries.
Ironically, the European Union’s (except Britain’s) foreign policies are not as blatantly against Muslim countries as that of America, yet Muslims don’t enjoy such good economic and social opportunities in those countries as in America. Muslims living in the West may not approve of Western countries’ foreign policies regarding Afro-Asian nations, yet they do not like terror activities in their adopted lands.
On one hand, Muslims in Western countries have come out openly as supporters of their adopted land, on the other their ties with their native lands get weakened day by day. The positive aspect of the situation is that terrorism gains little currency among these Muslims. Terrorism as a means to stop the excesses of US and other Western countries in Afro-Asian countries has been rendered meaningless. However, some potent method to stop America and Britain from pursuing their unjust policies is yet to be devised.g