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Published in the 1-15 June 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Will the ‘Islamic’ moderates now take heed?
The beast is USA

What does an average Arab/Muslim individual see in the faces of the American soldiers in Iraq? They see racists, rapists, sadists, sodomites, thiefs, perverted necrophiles, murderers, cannibals and serial killers. This was their view of the US soldiers even before the broadcast of a small sample of the gruesome pictures and videos taken at the Abu-Gharib dungeon. 

This perception of the US soldiers behaving like depraved animals is not confined just to the Arab/Muslim masses as the pictures and reports travelled instantly to all corners of the earth in this information age. Last year the US soldiers from the military base in Okinawa gang-raped Japanese girls, one of them just 12. Similar incidences also took place in South Korea, not to mention their sordid track record in places like the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. The victims of sexual abuse and torture now even include reporters of Iraqi origin working for Reuters and Aljazeera. 

No doubt many would say that this perception has been built by America’s own conduct over the years and Abu Gharib merely confirmed this with clear evidence. 

Arabs do not have a sophisticated mass media to influence American masses. What little they have is nascent and restricted to their domestic audience by the language factor, as unlike English, Arabic is a regional language. Lets also not forget the continuous intimidation by the US forces targeting the few Arabic channels like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. A reminder of how America views the notion of ‘free’ press. 

On the other side, the opinions of the masses in the West are the result of a one-sided propaganda, where ‘information’ is packaged and conveyed by its powerful mass media that has a very strong Zionist influence, hence the embedded anti-Arab/Islamic bias. Most of their experts come from academic institutions which have inherited their knowledge of Islam from colonial era experts through the filter of deep-seated imperialist racism. The filter may appear to have become thinner in the age of political correctness but it has also become more subtle and efficient in presenting a distorted picture of the Arabs/Muslims. 

As an example, the media failed to mention that the initial rage shown by the people of Fallujah in burning the mercenaries was in response to the horrors committed in Abu-Gharib. Obviously, they could not be humiliated by being stripped naked and subjected to sodomy. Iraqis are far more civilised.

American soldiers are raised in this sea of hate and intolerance created by its powerful mass media. From CNN, FOX TV to Hollywood blockbusters, American soldiers are depicted as righteous and Arabs/Muslims as terrorists. Arab/Muslims are the modern day wild Native Americans on their horses waving an axe, attacking the wagons of the early European ‘settlers’, the ‘peaceful’ Christian folks. This is what “little house on the prairie” would tell you. It is this hate, savagery and intolerance that America is exporting cloaked in terms like ‘freedom’, ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’. 

Their British cousins are subtler but nevertheless carry similar traits. Prior to the recent war, the British football fans collectively chanted, “attack Iraq” in the football arenas. They are good reflection of what the British army is composed of. Typical racist hooligans brought up to look at the Arabs or any foreigner with disdain. When they put on a suit and tie they simply transform into the likes of Richard LittleJohn or Kilroy-Silk or a member of the Conservative party. The more extreme ones can be associated with the British National Party (BNP). 

The systematic torture, which is euphemistically called ‘abuse’ or a ‘scandal’, was clearly ordered by the Pentagon under the cover of “softening up” the prisoners for interrogation. Thus, the pattern can be seen across all the prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay and even in New York. However, the pictures of Abu-Gharib also reveal that the American soldiers were enjoying the whole experience at an individual level, that they were not just following orders reluctantly. Pictures taken as trophies for friends and families speak volumes about American society. There was also an input from Jewish mercenaries conveniently labelled as ‘contractors’ who were highly paid to extract information. Under the free market ethos, privatising torture would naturally result in greater efficiency. 

We are told, these are the types of soldiers have come to liberate Iraq propelled by their love for the Iraqis! That is like expecting the British National Party (BNP) or the Ku Klux Klan to fight for the defence of the Blacks and Asians. Even their appearances depict violent and criminal intent. In reality it would have been odd to expect anything other than brutality, racism, torture and execution from the Anglo-Saxon military forces. The soldiers were in fact demonstrating the culture of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ to the Iraqis. Abu-Gharib was not the exception but the apex of that sordid American culture. 

So, what happened to democracy? Free elections at present are not likely to produce a pro-US government as the political climate and the opinion polls clearly indicate. Hence, the US-appointed authority is being paraded as a stepping-stone towards democracy. 

On the subject of democracy the notion of majority and minority has surfaced again. The spin-doctors are suggesting that the US soldiers committing these acts are a minority, so until it is a majority phenomena, it can be overlooked! This argument is perplexing, since Al-Qaeeda is a ‘minority’ and ‘rouge’ organisation that does not work for any the governments of the Muslim countries or represent the Muslim majority. The same reason applies to Saddam Hussein who is supposed to be a dictator not being representative of the people of Iraq. So, why punish the whole Islamic world for the action of these rogue elements and unrepresentative rulers? Yet, the US expects the Islamic world to view the soldiers and mercenaries hired by the Pentagon as isolated actions of a few bad apples.

The Iraqi resistance are a minority but the foreign invaders and their collaborators are a majority voice for the Iraqi masses! The world opposed the war, only Britain and the US governments with a handful of tiny mercenary countries looking for handouts participated and they are supposed to be a majority in the guise of ‘international’ community! 

Under Saddam, you could not express your opinion and the government did what it wanted. In democracy, you can criticise and participate in mass demonstrations without government interference. 

Then come the US knights in shining armour. They are supposed to be the vanguards of women’s rights. So why did the soldiers resort to sexual-abuse, rape and all sorts of photographed and videographed depraved acts that could not be mentioned by the BBC reporter? Where are those editors that constantly rant about Islam not giving women’s rights? Even children were not spared! A 12-year-old young girl was abused in Abu-ghraib just as in Japan. It seems as though when America was talking about women’s freedom, it was freeing the women for the genitals of the US soldiers! Mr Clinton can also testify to this notion of women’s freedom! Most certainly, one can now expect plenty of HIV, and other sex-related diseases floating around in Iraq, as these modern-day Roman soldiers are also not known for personal hygiene! 

Now, which ‘Islamic’ moderate has the gall to stand up and tell me that it is not a war on Islam? Reminiscent of the infamous Spanish Inquisition, the prisoners were forced to denounce Islam, consume pork and alcohol. Latest reports say around that General William Boykin, who views Muslims as Satan, had a role in the policy of the American inquisition in Abu-Gharib. Are there any ‘Islamic’ moderates that still lack common sense and self-dignity not to recognise the true nature of the capitalist beast? 

Those pro-war ‘Islamic’ moderates and secular enthusiasts with an ounce of sincerity must be feeling guilty for their treachery in supporting the US-led war against their own populations. The moderates can be forgiven for being fooled by the US, but after this point any continuation of supporting the invading forces tantamounts to clear treason. From this point on, no one can plead ignorance as a defence. 

Even the militant secular fanatics in the Islamic world had a rude wakening realising that sodomy, homosexuality, violent rape, serial killers and necrophilia may be a way of life in the US, a product of free society but such things are viewed with absolute abhorrence by the ordinary masses in the Islamic world. Democracy and freedom are not just about generating wealth and technology.

Adopting Western technology is fine but technology is clearly distinct from culture, values and ethics. Technology in general is inherited, developed and passed on between civilisations. Technology itself is neutral and it is the values that determine how it is used. As an example, Internet can be used to educate or it can be filled with sadistic porn like that was produced in Abu-Gharib. 

Let this be the final lesson and a warning for those are still seeking to play the role of a coolie for carrying US policies. As one Muslim said to me when I was recently in the Middle East, “after Abu-Gharib there is nothing more that the Americans can say”.

Yamin Zakaria, London

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