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INSTEAD OF CONFRONTATION CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS MUST RECONCILE: OIC must reform itself for historic challenge

Paper No. 542                                                   06/11/2002

Guest Column- by  K. Gajendra Singh.

 An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth-A Semite proverb.

An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind –Mahatma Gandhi

After the 11 September, 2001 attacks on the World Trade towers and the Pentagon, symbols of  US economic and military might , October, 2002 was the bloodiest month in the ongoing Crusade vs Jihad in the world .The risky Russian decision to use gas to instantly to disable well armed  70 Chechen terrorists with enough dynamite to blow up the Moscow theatre ended in a  ghastly tragedy. Most of the terrorists were killed and over a hundred of over 700 hostages also died, mostly of gas poisoning .  

Earlier in the month Islamic terrorists killed nearly 200 holiday makers in the Indonesian holiday paradise Bali, majority of them Australians, while a black American sniper  John Mohammed and his accomplice, who had terrorized Washington and its suburbs and shot dead nearly 10 Americans, was finally arrested. Elsewhere along the far off Yemeni coast a French oil tanker was attacked by a remote controlled water craft and some Kuwaitis , whose country had been liberated by US led coalition in 1991, after their country was over run by Iraqi armed forces , killed and injured 2 US troop during an exercise off the Kuwaiti coast

The Jihadi attacks remained pinpointed on USA, the only super power now and its former adversary , now ally Russia and Australia , a steadfast supporter of US policies, all majority Christian nations. The Bali carnage also heralded the extension of the Jihad into East Asia. It was followed later by bomb blasts in  Philippines, where Al Sayyaf has been active since decades. It signified further widening of terror acts of Islamic fundamentalism in the world and the war between Christian powers and Muslim Jihadis remained focused in the international media. Western media ,of course , appeared little bothered by continued killings of innocent civilians and others by Pakistan supported Jihadis in Jammu and Kashmir.  

Soon after September 11, a chastened US President George Bush had changed his spontaneous clarion calls  from a "crusade" and "Infinite Justice" which had expressed the reality accurately  to  "War on terrorism" and "Enduring Freedom". He had visited mosques and Islamic centres in USA and even talked of a Palestinian state.  Some Arabs had felt elated and Saudis had even refused to receive the British Foreign Minister.  

But after an apparent ‘easy victory’ over ill equipped and ill trained Talebans with  help from  Northern Alliance , who occupied Kabul against US wishes, barring exceptions  western  media has remained focused on Bush led coalition , basically reduced to US and UK administrations, blaring  away asinine arguments for an attack on Iraq and for a regime change , with or with out approval of United Nations , a world body which was  ill served by Bush senior during the 1990-91 war on Iraq. It was sad to hear White House spokesman suggesting on 1 October even assassination of Saddam Hussein . USA has many malcontents and the regime’s new religion based racist and ethnic measures are upsetting many more of its people. 

President Bush’s remarks that UNO would go the way of the League of Nation if it did not toe his line further diminished the international body’s moral and democratic authority based on universal membership. USA showed lack of respect for the views of  the majority against planned unilateral US attack on Iraq in an unprecedented discussion in the UN General Assembly .Its lack  of  concern for 10 elected members of the UN Security Council, showed up  the US president like the spoilt child,  who when he loses a game, tries to make up his own rules or runs away with the marbles. The double standards now lie exposed as no attack or regime change in north Korea is contemplated, which has officially admitted to have had a secret nuclear program in spite of an agreement with USA not to have one.

Finally even Indian Minister of External Affairs ,Yeshwant Sinha complained of west’s double standards in dealing with Al Qaida and Jihadi elements when they operate in India including Jammu and Kashmir or Pak occupied Kashmir..

BBC’s field veteran in Pakistan and Afghanistan John Simpson said that the Fox News channel had now overtaken CNN and with other US journalists was cheerleading the world to war. Fox News was "dysfunctional, grotesquely patriotic and embarrassing" and had misled the American public after September 11 with "hysterical, excitable reporting", he told an audience at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. The result was the US public had been horribly misinformed, he said. "I went to Ground Zero and I found that many people believed US immigration policy was the reason why America was so disliked. Thank God I don't have to broadcast to them. There is no recognition of linkage with America's support for Israel. There is a great hunger for information in America which people are not just getting." “In 1991, I thought it was just a question of getting down to the war and the Iraqis will collapse, which is indeed what happened. This time I don't think it is going to be quite that easy." He said George Bush was a man of below average intelligence and a "glove puppet of his vice-president, Dick Cheney and defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld".

In any case Al Qaida and most of Taleban leaders had just melted away to fight another day from another place, even in Dar-ul-harb in the west. The sorry spectacle of subcontracting the hunt for Al-Qaeda and Taliban to Afghans and Pakistanis, instead of sending Rambos and James Bonds, is there for all to see. "America's war aims may well be compromised by America's reluctance to take casualties'. President Bush would do well to turn his attention to its ally Pakistan’s tribal belts adjoining Afghanistan, which have just voted in a group of religious parties into power , who want USA to leave Pakistan .”

OIC-EU Joint Forum;  

Anglo-Saxon administrations with media support have focused on a flailing Bush and rhetorical Tony Blair, whose dossier was described as propaganda in his own presence by Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Most unfortunately, US and British leadership ignored and the media drowned out first tentative steps for peace and reconciliation between Christian west and the Muslim Ummah.  

 A Joint Forum of Organisation of Islamic Conferences (OIC) and Europe Union (EU) was organized on February 12 -13 in Istanbul by Turkey, known in olden days as Constantinople and Asia minor or Anatolia. Turkey has more Greek antiquities than Greece and more Roman monuments than Italy .Turkmen blood i.e those who came from Turkistan might be between 12 to 15 %, the rest are descendents of those who built up magnificent Asian civilizations over many millennia and civilized the invading Greek pirates (later Turk nomads) from the Aegean islands or the ‘Greek’ main land. Turkey is the home of over 40 civilizations, a bridge between east and west, north and south with mixed ethnicity, where Christianity first took roots, expanded and became a state and is now a major universal religion.  

The Christian world has many forums and organisations to fine tune its plans and strategies eg  NATO, OECD, G-8 and others. Since the illegal transfer to Hague (according to even Yugoslav President Kostunica) of its ally co-ethnic Orthodox Slav leader Milosevic, even Russia under Putin has become a willing crony of the west unless its own interests were to be terribly affected. In any case current high crude prices because of curbs on exports from Iraq and Iran have rejuvenated the ailing Russian economy. Orthodox Slav Russia turned Communist was lost to western Christian world since early 20th century till the Berlin Wall fell. It had become a  Satan, an Evil Empire in the words of then US President Reagan ,a “great communicator “ and former Hollywood actor. Even USSR’s unraveling was attributed to an upsurge of Orthodox Slav nationalism. It was also felt that too much Russian wealth was being poured into Muslim Turkic Central Asian republics.   

Unfortunately the other side, the Muslims, victims of the western onslaught since the defeat of Ottoman arms at the gates of Vienna in late 17th century, colonized and now, whose even barren lands are  coveted for the oil underneath , have remained disunited as ever, last demonstrated by US President Bush in 1990-91. After 11 September apart from some desultory statements by leaders of some Arab or Muslim countries, or the Arab League and the OIC, there is little coordinated planning to face new historic challenges.  

OIC and historic divisions in Muslim Ummah;  

OIC or Munazamat Al-Mutamir Al-Islami, to give its full Arabic name , was institutionalised in 1971 by the Saudis, after summits of Muslim heads of state and government in 1969 and by Muslim foreign ministers in 1970, following the 1969 fire in Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the third most revered Islamic site after Mecca and Medina. The holy city of Jerusalem , which both Israel and Palestine  claim as its capital has been contested violently throughout history by the adherents of three  revealed and warring religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Attempts to liberate it by the Christian religious leaders, emperors , kings and others led to 8 major and many minor crusades in early centuries of the  second millennium. It is some irony that it was the fire at Al Aqsa mosque when  under Israeli control that brought the Muslim Ummah under one umbrella , which was first split under three caliphs in 10th century  

The seeds of disunity in the embryonic Muslim Ummah were sown as soon Prophet Mohammed lay dead. While his cousin and son in law Ali and family were preparing the body for the burial, another clan of the Qurayesh tribe elected Abubakr as the first Caliph. (According to Shias, Prophet Mohammed had given enough indications for Ali to be his successor ).The schism (Shiite) was complete when Muvayya clan fought with Ali. Among Muslims there is not even an agreement on the Caliphs.  Shias do not even recognise the first three caliphs and in many places abuse them .The two after Abubakr’s natural death i.e  Omar and Othman, died of violence, as did Ali, the first rightful Caliph and Imam according to Shias. Ali’s son Hussein and almost his entire entourage were martyred by the soldiers of Umayyad Sunni Caliph Yazid at Karbala in 680 which is now commemorated as Moharram. Almost all early Imams were maltreated and persecuted by the Sunnis. So violence is deep rooted in Islamic history and psyche. Christians believing in Darwin’s theory of ‘survival of the fittest ‘ i.e use of force, must remember it. After 11 September many Muslims, even scholars, declared that Islam means ‘peace .’ So all Muslims are naturally peaceful ( in general the masses are, as they are in other religions ) Yes, but the lands under Muslim rule are  called Dar-ul-Islam, but those under enemies are  Dar-ul-harb, arena for warfare . Why not OIC come out with a statement opposing non-peaceful means by Muslims?  

For Sunnis, Imam is only a prayer leader and could be any one .But for the  Shias, he is a spiritual leader with the divine spark and juris-consult ( Vilayet-el-Faqih) .The sacred Islamic law Sharia enacted under different situations and times has many schools among Sunnis, who unlike the Shias have closed ijtihad, independent reasoning in Islamic Law to meet new situations .The Aryan Shia Iranians created the office of  Imam ( like Shankracharya among Brahmins ) as only an Arab could become  a Caliph . After the first dynastic Umayyad caliphate based in Damascus was replaced by another branch of Quresh tribe, Abbasids and shifted to Iraq in 750, a number of local dynasties started appearing as the empire expanded. Far away in the West an Ummayed Prince established an independent kingdom in Cordova, Spain. But all these kingdoms recognised the supremacy of Abbasid Caliph. The unity under the Sunni Caliph was finally broken when Fatimids anointed their own Caliph first in Tunisia, then in Egypt in 10th century. So the Ummayed prince in Cordoba too declared himself the third Caliph.  

In the meantime after nearly two hundred years of Arab dominance in Islam, the Turkish nomad slaves, recruited for their loyalty and fighting prowess as Praetorian guards to begin with, took over power and upgraded the minor office of Sultan into a powerful one i.e ’ the protector of by now hapless Caliph ‘.The Ottomans took away the Caliphate by force from the Arabs and Ataturk abolished it in 1923 . The Ottoman Caliphs and Sultans were not recognized by Shia Safavids of Persia.  Recognition by Uzbek Shaybani Khans of Central Asia and Turkic and Persian speaking Moghuls of Hindustan and others was at best only nominal. Akbar the Great Moghul even synthesized a new religion, Din-e-Elahi, but it did not endure..

Aims of OIC .Its Failure and Divisions;

OIC aims to promote Islamic solidarity by coordinating social, economic, scientific, and cultural activities. It is also pledged to eliminate racial segregation and discrimination. Unfortunately it has not evolved into a responsible and creative body.

A main reason for the failure is the location of OIC offices in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia which funds it .As they have funded madarsas and fundamentalist organizations not only in non-Muslim but even in Muslim countries. Countries like Egypt, Algeria, and many in Central Asia and elsewhere are victims of fundamentalist violence incubated and unleashed from Afghanistan -Pakistan region which was financially supported in 1980s and later by kingdoms and sheikhdoms in the Gulf apart from USA. Till 11 September, when a majority of assassins turned out to be of Saudi origin , USA could not care less,  had encouraged fundamentalism, even after the  era of Arab Socialism and nationalism had faded away. OIC some times had had little autonomy as the Secretary Generals were more or less the paid employees of Saudi Arabia. Some of them were obscure and not well regarded as scholars which greatly diminished OIC’s objectivity and credibility.

Any debate on matters of substance is almost impossible at OIC meetings. Member countries bring chits of papers with grouses against non- Muslims, mostly neighbours and others , which  without any discussion, as is the practice back home , are then put together as the final resolutions. Unfortunately,  many in the leadership use OIC meetings to let off steam against non-Muslims which serves like a group therapy session . It brings a sense of well-being to many beleaguered regimes; venal, brutal and exploitative back home .The leaders go back flourishing a resolution or two to show  to their oppressed masses, hoping that the real problems would be forgotten.

In many ways OIC is a curious collection. Many members have been accused of conspiring against each other. They have fought wars with each other. Many OIC members and diplomats from secular countries like Turkey, Syria, Algeria, Iraq etc feel uncomfortable in the company of delegates from obscurantist regimes. To begin with, secular Turkey did not take OIC seriously. It was to counter Muslim countries support to (Greek) Cypriots in non-aligned forums and elsewhere that Turkey started sending senior officials to the summit .And then after 1973 the Arabs became very rich .To the author’s query how could secular Turkey subscribe to religion oriented parts of the OIC declarations, Turkish diplomats would sheepishly reply that they sent a letter every time that parts of  declarations, which were against Turkey’s secular constitution were not acceptable. Some like Syria, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia and others even make reservations on resolutions on Muslims in Philippines or Pak stand on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) where Muslims are in majority but the area they occupy is only 20% of the state. But these and other such facts are hardly discussed.

OIC is not even universal. King Hassan of Morocco had invited India for the 1969 Summit in Rabat , which transformed itself later into OIC . But after Pakistan ruler Gen Yahya Khan threatened  to walk out, an embarrassed King Hassan apologized and requested Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (later to become India’s President ) not to attend the meetings .After Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan, India with more Muslims than Pakistan remains unrepresented , but OIC has the temerity to speak on behalf of India’s 130 million Muslims who number more than the combined population of half the OIC membership.  OIC also speaks on behalf of large Muslims populations in Russia and China, and many millions each in FRG, France, UK and nearly 3 to 5 million in USA .But OIC says little about the conditions of Muslims in these countries .  

OIC calls for self determination in countries where Muslims are in a minority and even invites their so called Muslim minority leaders . There are organizations of Uighurs from Xinjiang persecuted by China or US Muslim leaders like Farrah Khan. They are not invited ! While Indian Muslims regularly exercise their democratic rights, there are few Islamic countries with genuine democracy?  Would OIC allow interference about persecuted religious minorities in Islamic states, say by the Christian world or even say by Iran for its Shia brethren in Sunni dominated Pakistan or the Gulf. Sunni majority Pakistan persecutes its Shias, not to mention Christian and Hindu minorities.  

Even Turkish democracy is shored up by its secular military which dismisses Islamist led coalition Governments, closes Islamic parties regularly and jails its leadership. And what about the discrimination and persecution of Kurds in Turkey, where during last 18 years over 35,000 people have been killed?  Till some years ago they had to be called mountain Turks and could not use Kurdish for education or in media. From time to time, Shia Alevis have to be protected against persecution and pogroms by Sunni establishment by the secular armed forces and the judiciary. OIC would not like it if Kurdish, Mohajir, Christian leaders (from Lebanon and South Sudan ) or perpetually persecuted Copts of Egypt, disgruntled Shia leaders of Saudi Arabia were invited to air their grievances at international and regional forums. Turkey, member of Council of Europe and NATO reacts very angrily when parliamentarians and media from Europe make human rights inquiries about Kurds ? Forget about the condition of minorities in other countries.

 In Cyprus, 18% Turkish Cypriot Muslims, recognised as an independent state only by Turkey, occupy  nearly 40% of  its territory under Turkish guns since 1974. They can not live with Christian Greek Cypriots and want a separate state, while almost 50 % Christian Lebanese who want a state of their own are denied one.  .Coptic Christians in Egypt, with the same percentage  of  Muslims as  in India remain oppressed and persecuted. Christian Sudanese in South are bombed and killed. Christians from Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt and elsewhere have to lump it. There are innumerable such tragic and sad examples all over the Islamic world. Through out history Christian and other minorities in Islamic states have been generally oppressed, persecuted and eliminated, beginning with the Jews of Medina in 7th century.

With different versions of Islam and interests, it was almost impossible for OIC to take or implement a united stand. Many times even meetings can not be organized. Calls for breaking relations with Israel are ignored. Egypt, Jordan are too dependent on USA for economic and strategic survival. So are most Arab Gulf kingdoms on USA, Israel’s steadfast ally. Turkey has a strategic alliance with Israel;  Egypt, Jordan have  peace treaties with it .Turkic states of Central Asia with flourishing relations with Israel ignore such calls.  Throughout history there has been little love lost between the Arabs and the Turkic people .Turks have still not forgiven the Arab ‘betrayal’ , also called the Arab revolt, helped by British agent Lawrence of Arabia against the Ottoman Empire during  the 1st World War. Ottoman Sultan was first of all the Caliph and head of a Muslim Empire.  

With ample energy resources, Azerbaijan in the Caucasus was even visited some years ago by Prime Minster Netanyahu, a younger Sharon clone. Baku used the Israeli connection to establish direct links with the Jewish lobby in USA to counteract the Armenian lobby in USA. At some time Western powers would use vast energy resources in the Caspian basin to counter Arab oil power.  

Islamic Fundamentalism:

The historically divided Muslim Ummah, now numbering a billion faithfuls, after its defeat by Europeans, went into a sulk .Its polity and outlook have emained frozen in medieval and even earlier time warps, except perhaps in Turkey and a few other countries. It is now stirring, awakening and reacting, mostly violently in intra Muslim or Muslim- non Muslim conflict and strife. The major fault lines sweep across where ever Muslims are i.e from Atlantic to China; through Algeria , Egypt, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Palestine ,Lebanon , Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Daghistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan , Pakistan, Kashmir, Xinjiang ,Ferghana valley, Kazhakistan and Philipines and Indonesia . FRG , France, UK  and USA ( with 3 to 5 million mostly black Muslims), where most Muslims are poor and live on the margins will face even more  problems.  The process of coming to terms with real time would be bloody and long as in other revealed religions say Christianity.  Apart from the Crusades,  just recall centuries long intra-Christian strife and warfare in Europe, with residual Catholic and Orange Order conflict still smoldering in northern Ireland. For Judaism, Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon’s version of Israel is there for all to see.

For kill joy Talebans, now hiding and biding their time ; throat-cutting Algerian extremists, some what quiet now after spilling  blood of over 100,000 in a population of 30 Million ( Algeria had lost   a million out of eleven million in its 8 year war of independence against the French ), Hizb-u-Allah’s Katusha lobbers,  Hamas bombers, and other mutants struggling to come to terms with themselves , their history and environment with fast technical changes like satellite communications,  there  are no shortcuts or easy answers . Such evolutions and revolutions spread in time and space over large areas, at different stages of tribal, political, social, scientific and economic development would take time, involve painful cathartic upheavals and convulsions with unpredictable results. Iran’s efforts to come back almost full circle, after the failure of a purely Shia Islamic state to make its masses happy and properous,  is one example.(USA is thoughtlessly hampering return to normalcy).  But at what cost!  So spare a thought for the misery and sufferings heaped on common and peace loving ordinary Muslim masses by their leaders, whether in Algeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan; nations divided or destroyed and elsewhere and now in Indonesia  too. 

After 11 September, the monster of Islamic fundamentalism  has now been accepted as the major challenge of early 21st  century, now in full play in and around Afghanistan and Pakistan, a vital and strategic center of the Islamic world . It is certainly over flowing into India from Pakistan since 1989 .And with Hindutva ‘s Sharon like clones in Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi , the cycle of violence  and counter violence is going to get worse. After 11 September, Indian policy makers and media were delighted.” We had told you so “ Of course  the Americans had always known about terror net works.  They had mid-wifed them after  pouring  arms worth tens of  billions of dollars, with  CIA/ISI training over hundred thousand Mujahaddins from all over the Islamic world

 . Many Jihadis treated  their stay there akin to Hijra to Medina, hoping to return in triumph to Mecca ie their own countries. The battles in the long war against terrorism have only just begun . 

India offered to be USA’s front line partner, thinking that the Americans would do the job of finishing terrorism. But USA needed Pakistan even more than earlier to protect itself from a backlash of its earlier Afghan policies. Washington desperately needed to stop Pakistan's nuclear bombs or material from falling into jihadi hands, and to eliminate, or at least curtail, further damage to US interests. Tired Indian leadership failed to respond and bomb Jihadi training camps in Pakistan even after 13 December 2001 attack on Indian Parliament and establish its right of self defence, abdicated earlier.

Islam’s Rainbow of variations:

Islam is as varied, complex and evolved as are other religions. The pristine austere Arab Islam of the first four Caliphs, to which the Jihadis and others hark back to, has been changed ,uplifted ,evolved ,enriched and made  more beautiful and humanistic through interaction with cultural and religious base of various lands conquered by Islam, most of them had highly cultured civilizations. The Byzantine civilisation in Syria and Damascus ( which also introduced the desert Arabs to veils, used by the high society Byzantine ladies), Persian civilisation in North Iraq , Persia and Central Asia, with their religions like Nestorian Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Shamanism etc contributed to the evolution and flowering of Islam in its various sects and forms.  At the height of Kurdish insurgency in Tur Abdin in South East Turkey, the author met fast declining Yezidis, who worship a redeemed  Devil .But Muslim and Christian neighbours dub them as Devil worshippers . He also met Suryani Christians speaking a language akin to Aramaic dialect spoken by Jesus Christ .  

 Both Persia and Central Asia had resisted Islamisation by force and accepted a version akin to their own culture and civilization.  Most of Central Asia, the subcontinent, certainly South East Asia was won over for Islam by humanistic Sufi saints with beliefs similar to that of the Absolute Reality of Brahman i.e union of self with God  ( in South Asia) and Buddhist Nirvana (in Central Asia and elsewhere ) and traders and not so much by military victories or Jihad and sword  .This  perception is sold and enhanced by militaristic Muslim and western historians. Wahabis and other orthodox Muslims have been strongly opposed to Sufi Islam through out history. 

Unfortunately, in spite of a millennia and half of  Jihads and Crusades , Christian West and others take Islam as monolithic and Muslims as barbarians, specially because of some of the medieval customs and barbaric punishments in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries. (As if starving half a million Iraqi children by embargo is not barbaric. US Presidents always talk of action against Iraq to protect their children and future generations ! ) Muslims are equally ill informed about Christianity. Even Sunnis about Shias, Twelvers , Ismailis, Alevis ,Alawites , Druzes and others. Qadianis and Ahmediyas are persecuted in Pakistan. Each has misperceptions about the other. As have various Christians sects about each other and Muslims. These misperceptions are exaggerated and exploited by politicians who use religion to acquire power and then to hold on to it. After the 1979 Khomeini led bloody Shia revolution in Iran, West  claimed that all Muslims were like that . But western policy makers encouraged and soon pitted Sunni Iraqi leadership against Shia Iran.  Sunni rulers in the Gulf Kingdoms, many with majority or sizeable Shia populations fully supported Iraq with arms and money, with full approval from their allies US and other western nations .

In Saudi Arabia, home and focal point of Islam, behind the oil financed glitter, its polity remains medieval with its barbaric punishments against all contemporary human norms. In Iran, the focal point of Shia Islam, Iranians are more creative and constructive and barring some incongruities like Chador etc give education to its women and freedom to work and drive cars etc . Sooner than later, after the end of stranglehold of Mullahs, who had ensconced themselves by force into positions of power in spite of Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran could be an example to other Muslims.  On the other hand, ruling oligarchy of Saudi princes’ life style, which according to Wahabi believers, who even took over the Mecca mosque in 1979, is at variance with the Wahabi percepts of Islam. This is a curious amalgam of two opposites united for sheer power sharing. But how long will it last!.  

Jews and Israel;

Jews have been persecuted throughout its history. But now Jews of Israel have become tormentors on behalf of Anglo-Saxon interests. The Crusaders had butchered Muslims and Jews alike,  till Kurdish origin Salahaddin saw the last of the crusader out of the holy land and elsewhere. In 20th century,  with  anti-Semitism  pogroms, Jews became the victims of terrible fate during the 2nd world war, in which almost all European nations participated, ending up in the  Holocaust –a blot on Christian Europe and humanity .Now the Zionists are inflicting terrible persecutions on  Palestinians, whose land they took  following  British duplicity.  After their dispersal in ancient times Israel is the first Jewish state in modern times but it has a Masada complex.  It retains the earliest primitive ruling model i.e combing in one person , powers of the ruler and the military chief ; the difference being  that instead of military commanders taking over power as in many Muslim countries, in Israel  successful military commanders are easily elected as  Prime Ministers, e.g  Begin, Shamir, Rabin , Barak, and now Ariel  Sharon. Security of the state and its citizens has become the seminal issue .  

Implicated by an Israeli report for the 1982 Sabra and Chatila massacres  in Lebanon , defence minister, Sharon had not risen above the level of cold murderer . He should have been long back charged for war crimes and ethnic cleansing as Belgian citizens had wanted to.  His actions  are bringing bad name and have been severely criticized even by Jews, among others Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s chief Rabi, and veteran British member of Parliament from Manchester, Gerald Kaufman, who noted “that  four times as many Israelis have been killed since his takeover and turning Israel into a pariah state.” Collateral killings of innocent civilians including children with US supplied arms including Apache gun ships and F-16s by a legal government while targeting human bombers will leave terrible scars on Palestinian psyche. Israel is fast losing sympathy all around the world, even among non-Muslims.

More than 625 Israelis have been killed in a total of 14,280 violent attacks in the past two years of new Intifada and some 1,372 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli armed forces. A total of 4,500 Israelis have been injured; among the Palestinians, the numbers are much higher - Palestinian Red Crescent reported 19,684 wounded a few weeks ago. There is an astonishing paradox in Israel even if it is worse off than it has ever been in the past 35 years. Its security, economy and national mood are in decline. Yet Ariel Sharon, a failure as prime minister, remains the most popular man in the country. He has succeeded - with no little help from Palestinian terrorism - in getting the Israeli people to restrict their view of their complex conflict with the Palestinians to a single question, their personal security. It's certainly an issue of decisive importance, especially in the current state of affairs. But Sharon's political cunning has succeeded in reducing it to a single dimension, so that the only answer to the great and complicated question "How does Israel make itself secure?" is "By force". More force and bigger force

A distinguished Israeli novelist David Grossman recently lamented ,”Today, it is clear that the severity of the attacks and the large number of victims they have claimed have reinforced Israel's sense of national unity and common identity. Israelis today are willing to suffer heavy losses to achieve Sharon's goals. Yet Israel is paying a high price. Two years into the intifada, Israel is more militant, nationalist and racist than it has ever been before. The very broad national consensus has placed all criticism and minority opinions outside the bounds of legitimacy. There is almost no significant opposition. The Labor party, the shaper of Israel's national ethos in the country's early period, has been digested entirely in the bowels of the rightwing government. Anyone who opposes the brutality of the Sharon government's actions is suspected of disloyalty bordering on treason. The media has, for the most part, aligned itself with the right, with the government, and with the army, and serves as a clarion for the most hawkish and anti-Palestinian line “

Recently the Simon Wiesenthal Centre asked UK that it recall its ambassador Mr Cowper-Coles from Israel for "Holocaust revisionism". The Ambassador was accused of describing Israel as turning the West Bank and Gaza into a "vast concentration camp" British officials clarified that on instructions from London the ambassador had conveyed concerns to Israeli Gen Gilad about Palestinians under perpetual curfew, and the "unprofessionalism" of some Israeli soldiers. They said Mr Cowper-Coles had said he understood Israel's security concerns but that it was in danger of turning the occupied territories into a "vast detention camp".  ( Guardian online 21October)

Anglö-Saxon conflict with Muslim Ummah ;

It is amusing that western media specially CNN and even BBC echoed and even justified US Defence Secretary Ronald Rumsfeld ’s angry outburst that US German relations were ‘poisoned’ by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s stand against US plans to attack  Iraq without UN sanction or  for a regime change during recent German elections  .Quite obviously, if German voters put Schroeder led coalition back to power, it is their sovereign and democratic right to do so.  Ironically ,even US democrats have  finally woken up and cried foul at Bush’s attempt to keep the Iraq war tension and rhetoric alive to maintain voter patriotic unity to help Republicans win in November elections.

Then there is that British dossier against Iraq with Blair getting more and more unconvincing while trying to unsuccessfully market it.  British analysts have pointed out that the evidence is as ill founded as is his monitor Bush’s rhetoric. ‘Speculating that Iraqi missiles can reach Cyprus where there are British bases, the dossier concludes that Saddam is about to attack Britain!’ Britain is staying on an independent Cyprus, because it is divided. A solution to the island dispute might send British forces packing. The French are rightly skeptical about the dossier and have said so,  the Germans have repudiated Bush’s fantasies. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov called it propaganda followed by President Putin, who wants the UNO to operate through existing resolutions. Negotiations on a new Security Council on Iraq are still going on , but USA has some what climbed down a bit .

Time for Reconciliation and Peace between Christianity and Islam ;

The OIC-EU forum on the political dimensions of civilization and harmony on 12-13 February, 2002 at Istanbul was attended by nearly 70 senior officials from OIC and EU countries including nearly  40 Foreign Ministers. It discussed Prevention of Political and Cultural Fault lines; Confronting Common Challenges in Today's Environment; and Politics and Media etc.

 Criticism of the United States' version of anti-terrorism came from Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, who accused the United States of a "unilateral and militarist" approach in the anti-terror struggle. Syrian Foreign Minister Sharara described ‘media under occupation which portrays events from US perspective only.’ ‘Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem rightly said that "The Palestinian problem is the biggest problem of the Islamic world today,"

The joint sitting had underlined that for peace, stability and harmony to prevail, the Middle East conflict must be settled in a just and comprehensive manner and in accordance with international law and the relevant Security Council resolutions. In this context, the 'two state' solution will contribute to bring peace and security to the peoples concerned.

The forum ended on a note of hope with an 8-point agreement on the basis of which the representatives of the two bodies will continue the dialogue with the aim of enhancing  understanding between Islam and the developed world. It also reaffirmed its strong belief that cultures, in their diversity, complement and enhance one another. Also, the forum confirmed its belief in the harmony among civilizations and in its attainability.

Istanbul forum was not a great success and ignored by USA but is a step in the right direction. The next joint forum meeting is scheduled for the latter part of 2002 at Doha.  Qatar is the current chairman of OIC.

In spite of its history because of  Saudi influence, OIC remains the only and the most representative organisation of Muslims .Its leadership ought to get down to the task of preparing its suffering masses for 21st century . The Muslim Ummah should not live on its past glories and must wake up, and under OIC umbrella do some internal restructuring to face the historic challenges. The crisis would not fade away. 

OIC could perhaps shift its location from Jedda to say Istanbul or Kuala Lumpur or even Tunisia .It should make itself more universal. It can not speak on behalf of those who are not represented like 130 million Indian Muslims and Muslims from Russia, China , USA and elsewhere. Other wise it has no right to speak on behalf of Muslim Ummah . It will remain as fractured as it has been since 10th century if not earlier . 

Not only from Christian EU, OIC can also learn from ASEAN, with its members not only Muslim countries like Indonesia, Malaysia but also Buddhist Thailand and Christian Philippines and others . During the first half of 20th century alone millions of Germans, French, British and others were  killed by each other in wars.  But since the creation of an European Economic Community and now EU, disputes have been subsumed into economic rivalry and competition.  Peace has reigned in west and central Europe. Similarly before the creation of ASEAN in South East Asia in late 1960s there used to be constant quarrels between Indonesia and  Malaysia and bilateral and multilateral disputes among others. As a rational block of countries, OIC should work for peaceful resolution of problems among members and also with other countries .Other wise disunited, many OIC rulers could become the focus of attacks from outside and internally from Jihadis . 

Similarly with a diminishing popular base at home , the Anglo-Saxon Bush Blair leadership calling for an attack on Iraq , with or with out UN approval or unilateral regime change ,while fully supporting  Sharon and his policies in Middle East should realize that all the people cannot be fooled all the time.  Even the Democrats in USA have seen through the game and are protesting. With 150,000 demonstrators coming out strongly against Bush Blair plans for a war on Iraq , a few weeks ago in London, it ought to dawn on Prime Minister Blair and certainly his Labour party that his power rests on the British electorate. He cannot remain in power like ally Gen Musharraf , by decrees or by rigged referendums . Bush elder had lost the 1992 elections to a Democrat neophyte politician called Bill Clinton, even after his successful 1990-91 war on Iraq which liberated Kuwait. 

But it appears that the United States as the champion of its version of capitalism wants lifting of national borders and control of energy resources for its corporate interests .Control and exploitation of Iraqi oil resources, 2nd largest in the world is being openly discussed .The United States is home to the "new masters of the world," notably multinational corporations which "loot the planet," impose a "sterile uniformity" on it as well as a "streamlined mode of thinking." The influential editor of Le Monde Diplomatique, Ignacio Ramonet, purveys this line of thinking in his book Géopolitique du Chaos. Fortunately, he says, "the specter of decline lurks over "American neo-hegemony." “The United States is overstretching; it is destroying itself. America will collapse under the weight of its own debt, and will be unable to manage such intractable problems as race, poverty, and unemployment. It is precisely because it is threatened by decline that the United States is so intent on shoring up its hegemony.” 

Like sayings of some Greek oracles in ancient times , Mr Ramonet’s prophesy might or might not come true but” there is something rotten in the kingdom of Denmark.” 

It is time not for high pitched calls for unprovoked attacks with or without UN sanction or for a regime change in Iraq or elsewhere. Double standards on terrorism in India and elsewhere or on UN resolutions on Palestine and Iraq and now with north Korean disregard of  an agreement with USA to close down  its nuclear program , will only increase a sense of injustice and fair play among Muslims and others around the world, who watch daily on western TV channels bombings of Israelis and daily killings of Palestinians , mostly innocent civilians. 

For how long would gung ho lone ranger policies go on , making  rules on the way. It only invites  3rd millennium assassins to go on terrorizing the world, in a basically Crusade vs Jihad scenario being sustained  by US administration with some help from Blair . Is it not time that the other side be listened to, differences be resolved, instead of resorting  to Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest?   One mistake and there could be Armageddon. 

This was brought out from the recent Havana meeting  of 1962 Cuban missile crisis adversaries. A yes by the 3rd Soviet naval officer in a nuclear submarine in Cuban waters would have launched  a nuclear missile and then --. Robert McNamara, the former U.S. defense secretary, said in Havana that a nuclear attack on a U.S. ship could easily have escalated into a full-scale nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. Yes just one crazy man is enough in a charged atmosphere being created and sustained. 

After the killing of over 100 Australian holiday makers in Bali, those who have lost their loved ones are already questioning the unquestioned Australian support to Bush doctrine and policies. There is already some back lash against nearly half a million Australian Muslims, mostly of Lebanese and Turkish origin. Counter back lash will not be too far as can be seen in India and elsewhere. Do we want more Balis to learn our lessons? .Let the two sides, Christians in EU and NATO and Muslims in OIC sit together and start discussions .It is necessary to listen to the other side and take measures to reconcile.  Only then the real mindless terrorists masquerading as religious martyrs can be isolated and destroyed as were early 2nd millennium assassins by the Mongols and Baybars .

Among those  who form the cadres of Jihadis are genuine misguided believers, many who are frustrated by  the inequities and brutality of their regimes and its supporters abroad , pure and simple opportunists looking for power and the criminals .It is so every where . During  the Sikh insurgency in Indian Punjab normal crimes had almost disappeared with criminals joining the militants and finding it more lucrative through  extortions, killing for money or settling disputes etc. But the over all impact on the unprotected and unsuspecting victims , who feel vulnerable and terrorized is the same .

Another lesson that can be drawn from terrorist acts like 11 September attack on high rise trade towers, holiday resorts , Moscow theatre and  sniper attacks in Washington suburbs is that it is an attack on the rich nations’ life style. Unless  the scourge of terrorism is eliminated and it  will take a long time with well thought out policies, business would be chary of  office space in high towers in metropolitan areas and the  till now  tranquil  suburban way of life will be affected . Incidentally both are high energy consuming life styles.  

Fortunately , there are enough sober  voices and leadership in the west ; the French, the Germans, British (not the leadership), the Russians and others. The west European states have millions of Muslims who are loyal citizens . Once again massive demonstrations against misguided plans to attack Saddam Hussein and Iraq have been organized in numerous cities in US, German and other European cities during the 26/27 October week end . After the bloody end in the Moscow theatre,  Putin will not give in to Chechenya demands, but Russia has large Muslim populations specially in resource rich East. He must treat the disease and not the symptoms.

The OIC leadership must cooperate and should not delude itself that this tempest will pass.  If a soft landing for the world is not negotiated, it will also blow away many Muslim leaders and their regimes. 

(Amb.(Retd) K. Gajendra Singh .Chairman, Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies , former Indian Ambassador  to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Romania , Senegal etc Email <KGSingh@Yahoo.com>)

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