Sunday, July 24, 2005

Why they Hate Us: Beyond Excuses

You might remember in a previous post that I talked about how some people tend to think that the recent spate of bombings in London are because of Britian's role in Iraq and that the terrorists are really using that issue as well as the Israeli/Palestinian issue as an excuse. Well, writer Oliver Roy does a damn good job in shooting more holes in that theory. He first talks about the excuses given shortly after 9/11: the reasons that tragedy happened was because of the US role in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Roy responds:

Were they then driven by the plight of the Palestinians? It seems unlikely. After all, the attack was plotted well before the second intifada began in September 2000, at a time of relative optimism in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

He then blows some more holes in the whole "if-we-leave-Afghanistan/Iraq-and-solve-Palestine-then-they-will-leave-us-alone" theory, by wondering why certain elements are missing:

if the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine are at the core of the radicalization, why are there virtually no Afghans, Iraqis or Palestinians among the terrorists? Rather, the bombers are mostly from the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Egypt and Pakistan - or they are Western-born converts to Islam. Why would a Pakistani or a Spaniard be more angry than an Afghan about American troops in Afghanistan? It is precisely because they do not care about Afghanistan as such, but see the United States involvement there as part of a global phenomenon of cultural domination.

He then goes toward the root of the problem: Muslims living in the west who feel "rootless:"

What was true for the first generation of Al Qaeda is also relevant for the present generation: even if these young men are from Middle Eastern or South Asian families, they are for the most part Westernized Muslims living or even born in Europe who turn to radical Islam. Moreover, converts are to be found in almost every Qaeda cell: they did not turn fundamentalist because of Iraq, but because they felt excluded from Western society (this is especially true of the many converts from the Caribbean islands, both in Britain and France). "Born again" or converts, they are rebels looking for a cause. They find it in the dream of a virtual, universal ummah, the same way the ultraleftists of the 1970's (the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Italian Red Brigades) cast their terrorist actions in the name of the "world proletariat" and "Revolution" without really caring about what would happen after.

So the real question isn't as much about foreign policy than it is about finding ways to intergrate Westrenized Muslims into the larger Western society. One of the themes you hear over and over again in Western Europe is how disconnected some young Muslims feel from the larger society. We in the West have to find ways to solve that. If we are the multicultural societies that we claim to be, then we must try to make Islam and Muslims part of the picture, because it isn't happening now. We must find ways to answer this alienation among youth, or we will see more of these assaults in the near future.


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