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Old 10-24-2001, 12:47 PM   #16
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Right, this is a letter from a Muslim to President Bush. I do not know if you've read it or indeed heard of it, but I must warn you; it is mighty long and it makes some ridiculous parallels with the Roman Empire. However, as this is a post for the Muslim point of view, I will keep my opinions to myself;

> October, 2001 Mr. President: I am writing this letter to you in hope that
> it will be taken into account without regard to the faith of its writer,
> or the color of his skin, and despite your new division of the children of
> Adam into the civilized who support all your views, and the barbarians who
> do not. Perhaps this letter is strange to you, as I write to you as one of
> the heirs of the prophets, and the prophets, as we know, used to address
> the tyrants of the earth in the hope that they might repent and fear the
> Lord of all the worlds. Thus did Moses -peace be upon him- address
> Pharaoh, Haman, and Karun, and thus did Jesus -peace be upon him- address
> the Romans and the High Priest of the Jews, and thus did Muhammad -peace
> and blessings be upon him- address Abu Jahl in Makkah, as well as the
> Roman Emperor Heraclius and the Persian Emperor Khosraw. It is not
> necessary for the recipient to listen to or acknowledge the messenger, but
> it is merely his duty to convey the message. I write to you as a member of
> an oppressed and persecuted community in a condition like that of Jesus
> when he was persecuted by the Jews on one side, and Romans on the other
> side. It is regrettable that the United States, a nation founded by
> immigrants fleeing persecution, has taken for itself the position of the
> Roman Empire which persecuted the followers of Christ -peace be upon him-
> and colluded- with the enemies of faith (the unbelievers of the children
> of Israel) to slay the prophets and messengers, and to slay their
> followers in all times and places. At that time the Roman Empire claimed
> to be the symbol of freedom and civilized values, just as you claimed
> referred to America in your first statement after the incidents of
> September 11.It was the greatest world power of its day, the heir of Greek
> civilization. It had a Senate and a façade of democracy. The Roman citizen
> had freedom of religion and personal behavior. All this made it superior
> to other Empires throughout the world, and yet history does not speak well
> of this Empire because of the repulsive crime with which it stained its
> reputation: the persecution of the Christians. For this reason that Great
> Power lost its valuable distinctions when it oppressed a group of
> believers in God: Who alone possesses absolute power, absolute might, and
> absolute justice, Who is Mighty in His punishment which He withholds for
> the oppressor for awhile, but Who one day takes vengeance against him.
> Indeed, that is what He did. The Northern Barbarians overpowered Rome and
> destroyed it, They burned its cultural symbols and shattered its arrogance
> at the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. Two centuries
> later, God caused the followers of the final Prophet Muhammad -God's
> blessing and peace be upon him- to inherit the Holy Land in which Christ
> -peace be upon him- had lived. This was a tremendous victory for Christ
> since the Islamic Faith which conquered and liberated most of the known
> world from despotism and persecution, and filled it with mercy and
> justice, manifested for mankind the greatness of Christ -peace be upon
> him- and the truth of Christ's message, as well as the merit of his
> disciples and their followers as was revealed in detail in the Holy
> Qur'an. The Islamic community considered itself to be the final link in
> the long chain of followers of the prophets which began with Abraham, and
> included Moses and Jesus -peace be upon them- and declared to all the
> world that the enemies of Christ -peace be upon him- are the enemies of
> freedom and lofty values, especially the Jews, regardless of whether they
> denied Christ and incited the Romans against him, or whether they
> pretended to follow him so as to distort his message as did Saul who is
> called 'Paul.' The amazing thing is that the peoples who tasted the
> affliction of Roman tyranny and arrogance rejoiced at the destruction of
> Rome and wondered at the actions of the 'Northern Barbarians" who did it,
> despite the fact that they did not know or like them, yet how much more so
> would it have been if -for example- Rome had been attacked by the
> oppressed Christians? Would anyone have ventured to blame the Christians
> if they rejoiced or sympathized with the attackers? Mr. President, we
> Muslims are a nation of justice. At the same time our ethics do not allow
> us to rejoice over the misfortunes of the afflicted, yet we would still
> hope that the United States would review its stand and be more fair, so
> that we might once again give the benefit of the doubt to the United
> States for which there are precedents that encourage this hope, and which
> demonstrate how we used to move two steps towards them for every step of
> theirs, and a mile for every move of theirs. When President Wilson
> announced his fourteen points at the end of World War I, and especially
> the right of self-determination of peoples, it was greeted by the Islamic
> world as a just position towards European Colonialism that dominated most
> of its peoples. The Muslims rejoiced at a voice from among the Christian
> nations themselves saying that the time had come for an end to racial
> discrimination and crusader campaigns -such as the one led by General
> Allenby. Thus, the Islamic peoples hastened to place their complete trust
> in this neutral nation (the United States of America) and the United
> States profited greatly from this, since besides the moral distinctions it
> earned, it also achieved the greatest economic advantages in history.
> Their trust was not shaken even by its unjust position concerning the
> establishment of the Jewish state and the deprivation of the Palestinian
> people of their right to self-determination, but the Islamic peoples clung
> to their hope that that policy was simply an error that might be
> rectified. Similarly, President Eisenhower's position towards the
> three-party aggression against Egypt was one of the biggest factors that
> encouraged the continuation of the benefit of the doubt for America and
> the refusal to listen to the claims of the communists -which were not
> entirely false. However, the trust in America and its justice was rapidly
> shaken and then declined to the ground because of America's own behavior
> which came in the form of one proof after another which permanently
> refuted the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the first of these absolute
> proofs was the actions of President Nixon and his Secretary of State
> Kissinger during and after the Ramadhan (October) War of 1973, then your
> father, President Bush whose duplicity of standards were obvious to
> everybody. Iraq violated the same or fewer international agreements then
> those that Israel has and continues to violate. Iraq's excuse in doing so
> was similar to those used by America to incorporate Texas into its
> territory. As for Israel's excuse for occupying Palestine, it is worse
> than the British justification for keeping America as a British colony,
> and more repulsive than your ancestor's excuse for the genocide of the
> American Indian! It is this contradictory position which compelled the
> Islamic peoples to attend demonstrations by the millions in support of a
> dictator whom none of them had previously liked. Then came President
> Clinton and his Jewish administration. He was more concerned than either
> yourself or your father with finding a solution for the problem but he
> followed the same wrong road; describing the horrible terrorist attack on
> the Abraham Mosque in Hebron as no more than a "crime." You and he both
> know that up until now there has never been a Palestinian attack on any
> Jewish place of worship, and when the terrorist attack occurred in Cana he
> was not ashamed to describe it as "an unintentional mistake done by the
> Israelis in self-defense," Yet when Israel was faced with bombings, he
> gathered all the World and Arab leaders at the Sharm al-Shaykh conference
> so that they could all condemn "terrorism" ignoring the continuous
> barbaric massacres and the long chain of tragedies which the Israelis have
> brought upon the Palestinians and Arabs, which were not described at all.
> This caused the Islamic peoples to dissociate from America in view of the
> fact that it dictated to the attendees what Israel wanted, and from their
> governments in view of the fact that they yielded to the American
> administration. They turned with all their suffering and hopes to the
> groups described as terrorist without any concern about that description,
> since the conference taught them a good lesson in understanding the
> terminology of the American double standard: that when America decides
> that someone is a terrorist or an extremist it places them in the position
> of legendary heroes in the eyes of the oppressed and the wretched who need
> some airing after their long defeat and subservience, and as Claes (former
> Secretary General of NATO) officially informed them that the alliance had
> placed Islam as the focus of its enmity in place of the former Soviet
> Union. There is no need for additional practical proofs after this unique
> title, proofs which arrive daily from everywhere from the Philippines,
> Timor, Kashmir, the Caucasus, the Balkans, Sudan, and many other places
> -except that what occurred in Palestine after the defiling of the Aqsa
> Mosque by the greatest terrorist criminal of this age: Sharon, outweighed
> all the others. It was your misfortune after your difficult election
> victory to be contemporaneous with that criminal, and to continue your
> eternal strategic alliance with him. We Muslims desired to see you elected
> and we have proof that the votes which gave you victory were our votes,
> and I personally advised Muslims to vote for you. Some of them hoped that
> you would be fairer than the Democrats although others clearly stated that
> the matter was no more than choosing the lesser of two evils. We did not
> do that out of forgetfulness of the crimes of your party and your father
> throughout the Muslim World, but because we are a nation of justice and
> reason we held back our feelings and made the choice which we felt was
> best for us and for America also. We hoped that you would repay good with
> good, but you did the complete opposite by increasing your predecessor's
> material and political support of Zionist terrorism in the form which has
> occurred and continues to occur. Bewildered questions were repeated on the
> lips of everyone in the Islamic Word: Does the American administration
> have a conscience? Does this biased stance which has dismayed the entire
> world have any justification and will it ever end? Is America Greater
> Israel or is Israel Lesser America? In the midst of this continuous
> confusion and frustration, the events of the 11th of September occurred. I
> will not conceal from you that a tremendous wave of joy accompanied the
> shock that was felt by the Muslim in the street and whoever tells you
> otherwise is avoiding the truth. It is my opinion that America which
> believes in freedom and democracy -as you repeat in your speeches- should
> not become upset by this one-time joy, and should not seize upon the
> Muslim's spontaneous outpouring of feeling. This nation, which worships
> God and believes in justice more than any nation on earth, did not do that
> out of racist enmity or evil intent, but they were joined in this by the
> entire world: the world that kicked you out of the Organization for Human
> Rights. 3000 popular organizations mobilized against you at the Durban
> conference. More than forty nations suffer from your oppressive boycotts
> and economic penalties, let alone from your military incursions. Even the
> environment has identified you before the world as its greatest enemy.
> People's shock at your first speech was greater than their shock at the
> event itself. It totally equated America with freedom, justice and noble
> values, and it contained a harsh threat of vengeance rather than a promise
> of fair cooperation. We tried to excuse you because of the shock of the
> events and the need to absorb popular anger, but all of your statements as
> well as your actions have been of the same mode and have severed any other
> possibility. Reckless accusations and hasty revenge are the real tragedy
> for America, and the true test of its values and civilization. Your
> security apparatus -which had boasted that it could catch a fly passing
> over the Pentagon and that it would no about a riot among the Eskimos
> before it occurred- rushed to the nearest flight school and the nearest
> hotel and took down the name of every Arab or Muslim student or resident
> and announced that they are the terrorists! Imagine Mr.President, if you
> were sitting among your family or tribe thousands of miles away and heard
> or saw the news that you had been part of a suicide operation on a plane?
> or that it was done by your brother who had died a year ago? Wouldn't you
> thank God that you were not a citizen of that civilized country or a
> believer in their so-called values and justice? Especially when your very
> civilized people answered these calls of yours, your cabinet members, and
> your security apparatus and started to attack the barbarian invaders in
> every free and civilized part of your country. I and the people of my
> country have discovered how barbaric were are when a gang of Westerners -I
> will not call them terrorists since they have white skin and blue eyes-
> performed a series of explosions in our cities, we watched as they gave
> their serious confessions, and yet we made not the smallest move to attack
> any Western person in any place in our country, we did not kill them, or
> strip search them in our airports, nor did we place them in solitary
> confinement, let alone incite the whole world to form an alliance against
> them. No, we did nothing of that which your civilized people have done to
> our children and Muslim brothers in general. What caused us to behave in
> this manner is our religion and ethics, for which gift we thank God. At
> this point I would like to ask you Mr. President, if the world chose you
> to give a prize for the people with the most advanced morals and values,
> and the best treatment of others, which of the two peoples would you give
> the prize? To your people or to ours? Does this mean that we bear ill will
> toward the American people for that we are racist in our treatment of
> them? No. Never. We believe that the American people in general have such
> good attributes that they are the closest of all Western peoples to us,
> and the most deserving of all of them of our desire for them to achieve
> good in this life and in the hereafter. They are a people the majority of
> whom believe in the existence of God, and who donate to charitable work
> more than any other people in the world (and by that we do not mean the
> evangelization of the Muslims). The truest proof of the goodness of the
> American people is that they have embraced Islam more quickly and in
> greater numbers than other peoples of the world, and have tried to
> understand it better even after you held the Muslims responsible for the
> disaster without evidence. We desire all good and honor for a people like
> this from the bottom of our hearts, and good and honor are only achieved
> by any people by one of two things: 1- Embracing God's Faith which is
> alone acceptable to Him, the Faith of all the prophets: Islam. By doing
> this Allah grants them both the good of this world and that of the next
> world. 2- Making peace with the Muslims, loving them, and treating them
> kindly. By doing this Allah rewards them security and good in this world.
> This Islamic nation, the followers of Abraham and Muhammad -God's blessing
> and peace be upon him- is dearest to God of all nations. Whoever honors
> them is honored by God, and whoever despises them is despised by God,
> though He may grant them respite for a time. History is a witness to this.
> You may say, or others may have said on your behalf, "I have apologized
> for using the term 'crusade', I have visited the Islamic Center, and I
> have advice the people to control themselves," but we say, "We are used to
> America to inflict deep wounds and then putting a small bandage on them,
> but your present attack on Afghanistan has violently removed those
> bandages and opened a wound in the heart of every Muslim. Mr. President,
> if only when you did what you did, you had avoided the racist terminology
> of your speeches about hostile action. It would have been enough for you
> to simply claim the right -with no need for justification- treat the world
> any way you want, and to punish whomever you want, whenever you want. But
> then you had to go on and leave the desire for revenge open without any
> end in sight when you said " Today we will concentrate on Afghanistan, but
> the battle is wider than that." Is it not enough for you to destroy a
> whole nation because of an unproven accusation against a single person or
> organization forced to live in that country? Is this hostility which
> exceeds all values and morals, and shakes every living conscience in the
> world only a drop in the sea of your vengeance? Did Christ -peace be upon
> him- grant you that power? Far be it for him to do that. Even Machiavelli
> himself does not grant you that degree of power. Your precedent in this is
> Samson. Won't you fear God -you who have made your slogan to be "God bless
> America?" How can God bless and protect her when Christ His Messenger
> taught exactly the opposite of what you do: "Whoever strikes you on your
> right cheek, then turn to him your left cheek. Whoever takes from you your
> garment, then give him also your cloak. And whoever mocks you for a mile,
> go with him for two miles." Do you not understand that when you make the
> desire for endless vengeance to be the attribute of the civilized nation,
> you make Christ -peace be upon him- to be an uncivilized barbarian? Far be
> it for him, but you have rejected God and Christ, and followed the
> behavior of the Popes of the Middle Ages who used to grant indulgences and
> excommunication according to their whims. You have granted an everlasting
> pardon to yourselves and to the Zionist State, and to every hostile
> tyrant, and you have issued an excommunication for anyone who hesitates to
> join your endless hostility by describing them as terrorists or supporters
> of terrorism. You search with microscopes for so-called terrorist groups
> in Somalia which has been destroyed by poverty, or in the Palestinian
> refugee camps in Lebanon whose humble dwellings are threatened by Zionist
> terrorism every day. But you forget that horrible terrorism tangibly
> dwells among you. It is you, and nothing but you. If you do not believe
> this then tell me by God, if your best friend comes to congratulate you in
> ten years on the victory you hope to achieve over the mysterious enemy you
> have fabricated, what will he be able to congratulate you about? Supposing
> that he says, "Mr. President, we have killed one million Afghanis, one
> million Iraqis, one million of this and that," until the end of your
> cursed list, will that be a victory for civilization, lofty values,
> freedom and democracy? Certainly among your victims will be starving,
> naked widows and children. Will that satisfy your desire for vengeance?
> Shamelessly, you will use the fact that they are alive as evidence that
> you limited yourselves to the destruction of their mud houses and wooden
> huts as strategic targets of the smart bombs of your clean war that do not
> kill people. At this point the world that you have made depressed and sad
> for as long as God wills, will finally laugh. Yes, they will be forced to
> laugh by the civilized joke of the miraculous intelligence of your
> missiles: When you hit Iraq, Iran screamed. When you aimed at Afghanistan
> during your first attack on that country, you hit Pakistan, and one of
> your smart missiles infuriated the Yellow Giant by destroying its embassy
> in Belgrade. I admit -in all fairness- the intelligence of at least one of
> your missiles: the Patriot missile which saw one of the stupid Scuds which
> had lost its way, so it knocked it to the right direction and invited it
> to dinner with the American intelligence officers in Khobar. As for being
> clean, the whole world bears witness that you fought the cleanest war but
> with one simple observation: that although you cleaned out Hiroshima and
> Nagasaki, you unintentionally left a little pollution in its place.
> Perhaps you will realize your mistake in Afghanistan and its citizens, and
> be more generous and paint the sites with a little cheap American paint.
> However, for the sake of the truth we should also say that there is little
> doubt about the cleanness of your war in Iraq since the witnesses against
> you are children, and the law does not accept the witness of children even
> if they number in the millions, but the witnesses for your side are adults
> of the level of dictators and their generals. Mr. President, do you think
> that your list in which you announce the names of terrorist organizations
> and the countries that support terrorism will serve your interests, or
> will it be further proof that the world is against you? Who is the advisor
> who suggested publishing this list at the same time that people discovered
> your own house is glass and is still broken? Why do you make enemies of
> those who throw stones at you from Japan in the East, to Peru in the West?
> During the present dangerous security situation in your country wouldn't
> it have been enough for you to choose one country and one organization? Or
> do you want to incite all of them, so that if any one of them performs a
> terrorist operation you can hold the Muslims alone responsible so that
> your Crusade against them can continue forever? Mr. President, don't
> suppose that I want to recount your few faults and forget our own (in your
> eyes) very many faults. No, I will mention to you a serious fault of us
> Muslims: we don't forget our tragedies no matter how much time has passed.
> Imagine, Mr. President, we still weep over Andalusia and remember what
> Ferdinand and Isabella did there to our religion, culture and honor! We
> dream of regaining it. Nor will we forget the destruction of Baghdad, or
> the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of your Crusader ancestors. That is, we
> are not (in your opinion) at the level of civilization enjoyed by the
> Germans and Japanese who support your hostilities and forget your past
> treatment of them. Moreover, the African Muslims who embraced Islam after
> the fall of Andalusia cry along with the Arabs, just as the Indonesians do
> who only heard recently heard about Andalusia. It may be a problem for us,
> but who will pay the price after awhile?
> Mr.President, your problem with the Afghans -and the Muslims in general-
> is that you are stronger than necessary and they are weaker than
> necessary. Every time you use excessive force, or are excessive in using
> it, it proves to be a weakness in strength. This is a great divine mystery
> which reminds us of what happened to the tyrant Pharaoh at the hands of
> the oppressed children of Israel. Listen to the story from God's Holy
> Scripture: Ta Seen Meem. These are the revelations of the manifest
> scripture. We recite to you some of the story of Moses and Pharaoh in
> truth, for a people who have faith. Pharaoh exalted himself in the land
> and divided its people into groups, oppressing one group among them:
> slaying their sons and sparing their women. Truly, he was one of the
> tyrants. We desire to bless those who are oppressed in the land, to make
> them rulers and to make them the heirs, and to establish them in the land.
> We let Pharaoh, Haman and their hosts receive from them that of which they
> had feared. " (28:1-6) Do not say, "Who am I compared to Pharaoh?" You
> have demanded of the Muslims what Pharaoh never demanded of Moses -peace
> be upon him- and the children of Israel: that they should not hate you in
> their hearts no matter what you do to them or how you oppress them, or
> else you will have revenge on them. This is an attribute exclusive to God,
> for God Almighty alone is the Able to wreak vengeance on all who do not
> love Him. We know of no dictatorial empire in ancient history which
> treated people according to what their hearts and consciences conceal, let
> alone a twenty-first century democracy. You may say, "We intend to remove
> anything that will incite hate from sermons, school curricula, newspaper
> articles and the media." We reply that if that is your democracy, then
> there is try as you like, but you should be sure that you will not
> succeed. We learned to hate oppression and love the truth from our
> religion and our Qur'an, and it is stronger than all of your means, and
> firmer than your mountains. If you refuse everything but the arrogance of
> force and the insanity of greatness, then there are no means left for you
> except the extermination of all the Muslims with nuclear or biological
> weapons, or whatever you want from hellish arsenal contains. You may ask,
> "Why all of them when some of them love us?" Be sure, there is no Muslim
> on earth who loves you, even if they donate their blood to you, or set up
> intelligence gathering stations for you, or delegate to you setting the
> curriculum for the education of their people. Everyone on earth who claims
> to love you -and no Muslim is able to make that claim- they only love you
> like frightened prey loves a brutal predator. You may say, "We will
> restore the trust of the Islamic peoples by changing their government into
> tolerant and democratic systems." But we say you need only cease your evil
> treatment of us. You destroyed the Iraqi people as well as others by this
> false promise, and we do not want any freedom or democracy that comes from
> you and we will not accept it. The enemy of freedom cannot grant freedom.
> Mr. President, I advise you and put the fear of God before you, to cease
> and desist from hostile action. Deal with the problem with fairness and
> patience, and you will find that we are with you reservation. Your
> hostility now, at the beginning of the way, is easier for you and better
> for the world. If not, easy beginnings are usually followed by extremely
> difficult ends. For that reason I ask you to think,
> Mr. President, if you destroy every country on your list of terrorists,
> will that be the end or only the beginning? Unless you want to be
> remembered by history for Armageddon, and in that case there will be no
> history anyway For this reason I repeat to you: Fear God and think hard.
> Peace upon him who follows God's guidance,
> Safar ibn `Abd al-Rahman Al-Hawali

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Old 10-24-2001, 04:08 PM   #17
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Who is the person who wrote this letter? What country do they live in? None of the Muslims I know felt any 'joy' about the 11th September. They felt sadness for the people who died and fear that they would get abuse in the streets.

Rain from Heaven.

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Old 10-24-2001, 06:31 PM   #18
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I sense a great deal of anti-semitism in the "open-letter" written by Safar ibn `Abd al-Rahman Al-Hawali.

Oh well; Shalom, Chaverim anyway.

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Old 10-24-2001, 06:36 PM   #19
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I have one word to say on the above letter:


Just a tad rambling and incoherent, and the inclusion of the history and relion lessons just make it all the more confusing. But maybe i'm being over-critical...

Speaking of history lessons, here's an article from the Scotsman that's a bit more helpful in filling in the historical/geo-political background re: Bin Laden's motivations (yeah, it's still from a western point of view, but it's all i had on me...and sorry for printing it all here...i didn't have the actual url):

The Scotsman September 28, 2001, Friday


BY: George Kerevan

FORGET Afghanistan. The key to Islam is Saudi Arabia. Forget the debate over the rights and wrongs of America's support for the state of Israel.

The hatred towards the United States felt by the young Islamic intellectuals who look to Osama bin Laden for leadership is as much to do with its backing of the current Saudi regime as it has to do with the occupation of the West Bank. And our ultimate ability to reconcile the Islamic world with Western-style modernisation, on which might depend the peace and prosperity of the entire globe over thenext century, lies in Riyadh not Kabul.

Let us begin by trying to understand the central impetus behind the friction between the Islamic world and the West that led to the atrocities in America on 11 September. Palestine is a totem of this friction, not its cause.

The fiercely proud Islamic community - roughly a third of humanity - is trapped in a historical impasse. For it is the West and Western values that have triumphed globally: our economic model, our science, our individualism, our notion of women's rights and our sexually-charged consumer culture. Leave aside for a moment quite how this has happened, but the Islamic - and particularly
the Arab - world is an economic failure.

The average per capita yearly income of the Islamic nations is now barely GBP 2,000 - a tenth of the rich West. In 1950, Egypt and South Korea were peasant economies on a level pegging. Today, capitalist Korea, without Egypt's cheap electricity, is five times as rich.

This reality is what hurts Islam's young intellectuals who fly planes into the icons of international capitalism. Worse, the Arab countries tried for a generation between the Fifties and the Eighties to modernise (aka create Western industrial economies) and failed. The head of this movement was the charismatic Gamel Nasser in Egypt.

Nasser believed in socialist central planning which only resulted, as it did in Eastern Europe, in bureaucracy, waste and corruption.

But Nasser had one blindingly important insight. He knew you had to bridge adopting Western modernisation (albeit skewed by Dr Marx) with some ideological balm to soothe the realisation that the Islamic world was thereby admitting its economic and cultural dead-end. Nasser sought to overcome this psychological barrier by advocating a militant Arab nationalism premised on the eventual political unification of the Arab world.

Nasser's mythological Arab unity dissolved in conflict between the various military cliques who seized power across Islam in an attempt to build the chimera of Arab socialism (and waste their oil revenues in the process). In the Western democracies, we did not grasp what would happen with the eclipse of Nasserism. Sadly, Islam's young intellectuals easily flipped from Parisian Marxism to religious fundamentalism - not such a chasm to leap. Admitting you have "failed" twice in a row is hard on personal identity, especially in a martial society. It's the kind of mental crisis that can resolve itself too easily in martyrdom.

So across Islam, the bright young university men - not Dr Marx's proletariat - have sought a psychological retreat from what they perceive as Western cultural victory by adopting a purist, modern version of Islam called (but not by them) Waha-bism.

Enter Saudi Arabia, the spiritual home of Wahabism. This cult was created by Mohammad Ibn Wahab at the end of the 18th century. Wahab led an extreme fundamentalist revival of Islam based on its own texts - for example, Wahabis think that the Iranian Shi'ites, who revere different Islamic historic writers, are a heretical sect founded by Jews to destroy Islam. Wahabism, unlike mainstream Islam, also relegates women to an inferior role. Osama bin Laden is a devoted Wahabite, as are the Taleban.

Ibn Wahab joined forces with the Arabian Arabs against the Turkish Ottoman Empire. In the 19th century, one of these, Ibn Saud, adopted Wahabite doctrines as his official creed. During the First World War, Britain aided the Saudi family to eject the Turks and take control of the Arabian peninsula. Then came oil riches.

For today's passionate young Wahabites, their creed represents a revivalist purity and reaffirmation of their great heritage. But it is also a "successful" model: for it was the pure Wahabite faith that drove out the Turks and won independence without recourse to Western ideas (if you forget Lawrence of Arabia).

But the new Wahabites have an enemy beyond the West - the current Saudi regime itself. Extremists such as bin Laden and his ilk see their spiritual home as now corrupt and pro-Western.

We in the West have based our political strategy in the Islamic world on an alliance with Saudi Arabia (not to mention hitching our economies to its vast oil reserves). But there is a timebomb ticking away. Bin Laden aims to topple the Saudi regime and turn Arabia into the base for his assault on the West. Even if we kill bin Laden, the struggle to transform Saudi into a cockpit for Wahabite extremism will continue.

The reality of the Saudi economy is that without oil revenues it is an utter basket-case waiting to melt down, precipitating the overthrow of the existing royal family and its replacement with a fundamentalist regime. For the past 20 years, Saudi economic growth on average has been a pathetic 0.2 per cent per annum. The national income per head, once as large as that of the United Sates, has dropped remorselessly to today's third-world $ 7,000.

Many of the 15 million Saudis have not noticed this catastrophic economic failure because the government keeps them in uneconomic jobs subsidised by massive foreign borrowing. The country has turned from being a net creditor in the Eighties to being a net debtor on a large scale, possibly running into several hundred billion dollars.

The cash empties down two drains. Firstly, a vast network of inefficient state-owned industries, from petrochemicals to services, that makes the old Soviet Union look entrepreneurial. The other subsidy black hole is the all -powerful monarchy itself. This is centred on the remaining 24 sons of the kingdom's founder, Ibn Saud, who died in 1953. Most are in their sixties and seventies, leaving the dynasty ageing dangerously. As much as 40 per cent of government revenues go to the family.

But Saudi Arabia has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world. Some 110,000 Saudis come into the workforce each year and only 40,000 find jobs. Unemployment stands at 14 per cent, and 20 per cent among young Saudi men. Mix unemployed youth, official corruption and Wahabite extremism and you have all the makings of the situation that overthrew the Shah of Iran. In May, gangs of Saudi youths rioted at the new Feisaliyya shopping complex in Riyadh.

Here is our problem. We in the West have no policy for creating free-market democracy in the Islamic countries - which essentially means destroying Wahabism. Worse, the linchpin of our anti-terrorism coalition is an ultra -conservative but wobbly Saudi Arabia, the official home of Wahabism.

A week after the attack on New York, Saudi's ailing King Fahd flew to Switzerland for medical treatment. He's still there. Back home, there is talk of friction between Crown Prince Abdullah (aged 77) and defence minister Prince Sultan (aged 76). Keep your eyes on Riyadh.
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Old 10-24-2001, 06:55 PM   #20
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This Safar Ibn Whateverhisnameis is actually Saudi Arabian.
I lived in Saudi Arabia for five years, and all I have to say is this; I'm not suprised the article was written by a Saudi-Arabian. I'm not saying that all Saudi Arabians think like that, what I'm saying is that THAT kind of logic has been there for a very long time; the type that superficiall supports the west because it needs the commerce, but underneath it all it hates the West as much as any fundamentalist would. I pity the poor person who truly believes that Saudi Arabia supports the coalition.

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Old 10-24-2001, 07:06 PM   #21
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You have posted another interesting article! It is along the same lines of what I heard from one of my former (college) History professors last night at a forum: it is as much about modernism vs. purism as it as Israel vs. Palestine, Iraq vs. U.S., etc.

And it does indeed go back to the post-Ottoman era, when Britain, France and the U.S. were all vying, in different ways, for influence in the region. The irony there is that Turkey, the center of the Ottoman Empire, is nearly 100% Muslim by population, but maintains a completely secular government, much like several of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. Yet today, each of these nations are fighting off Wahabi-type fundamentalist groups who wish to impose "shar'ia" govenments. I think this is why many of the Eastern European nations and former Soviet Republics have agreed to cooperation with the U.S., in hopes that such groups will be stifled all around.

And Anthony makes a good point as well; depending on Saudi Arabia's commitment is betting on a very thin line, being as it is the most sacred and religiously strict of Islamic states.

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Old 10-25-2001, 04:30 PM   #22
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I felt sadness on the day of September 11.... In fact, the whole Islamic Center in Massachusetts felt the same way, we lost some of our own people in this tragic event... Not only that, but we feel very very very much against the people who did this.... We all know their goin to hell.... Anyways, we had a big congrigation of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian people, for a day of prayers, it was very peaceful.... We we all felt as one....
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Old 10-25-2001, 04:47 PM   #23
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Here's a link/story that fills in the gaps re: Bin Laden's emergence. You've probably read a lot of this information in other places, but this site is often a good alternative to mainstream media:
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Old 10-25-2001, 08:25 PM   #24
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Yes, Judah, that is indeed a very detailed article to say the least!

I believe excerpts from a similar article were in the Sunday edition of our local paper (Birmingham News) not long ago, alongside excerpts from a biography of Osama bin Laden a Westerner had written. I think your author's use of the word "mid-wife" to describe the U.S.'s relationship with bin Laden in the 80s is reasonably fair. He was fighting alongside many of the forces we were supporting, in fighting a common enemy but with an uncommon goal. In fact, he disdained the motives and the presence of the U.S. even at that time, but accepted our involvement because he was not in his position of power of revery at the time.

I think in the 1990s as the Iraqi-Saudi conflict was emerging, I cannot blame Saudi Arabia for choosing our alliance instead of his, both for the practical sense (540,000 plus advanced military hardware from the U.S. as opposed to a militia of 4,000 Arab-Afghan refugees, more or less) plus the economic history between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia (even though we only import 17% of our oil from the area, that is a HUGE part of the Saudi economy). But this is when bin Laden's fundamentalist, and in my opinion racist, views were emerging, and with that he hoped for this force of 4,000 veterans to grow stronger very quickly. And he was particularly diturbed by our military's presence on the soil of the Muslim Holy state.

If we stayed out of the Arab Peninsula and Persian Gulf in the early 1990s, I feel that Saddam Hussein would have done to bin Laden's Arab-Afghan army and any Saudi allies they recruited, the same he has done to the Khurds and Shiites in northern Iraq, once and IF he had retreated the Saudis (I doubt he would have toppled them completely).

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Old 10-27-2001, 05:03 AM   #25
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Here's an example of an opportunity wasted.

Britain's military chief has also been quoted as saying "We are rewriting the rules as we go along". Do they have the full story of what they are dealing with?

Rain from Heaven.
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Old 10-27-2001, 04:25 PM   #26
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The fiercely proud Islamic community - roughly a third of humanity - is trapped in a historical impasse. For it is the West and Western values that have triumphed globally: our economic model, our science, our individualism, our notion of women's rights and our sexually-charged consumer culture. Leave aside for a moment quite how this has happened, but the Islamic - and particularly
the Arab - world is an economic failure.

Sure, go ahead and call Islam a failure.... But last time i checked, it was the fastest growing religeon..... Not only that, but watch how u generalize things... Who r u to talk about the Islamic religeon... Do you study it? Do u have great knowlegde of it? No, I know my religeon better then u, so please don't insult it in anyway... Do not call it a failure... It's like me calling Christianity or some other religeon a failure. Though u might have a couple of good points, DON'T GET HIGH ON YOURSELf and whatever so-called knowledge u have... Cuz, I'm telling u, i was reading what u said and agreed some what with some of your points (or facts)... But once u said that Islamic and Arab states are economically a failure, I was totally turned off...
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Old 10-27-2001, 04:52 PM   #27
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Amna , trully i ( I'ME'MINE is not a religous person , but a Jedi Knight ) think that a combination religion+business is full of shit , and it doesn't matter what kind of is it . Maybe hundreds millions years from now we 'll live in peace . UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD ............

[This message has been edited by IvanClaytonJnr (edited 10-27-2001).]
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Old 10-27-2001, 06:33 PM   #28
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Who called Islam a failure?

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Old 10-27-2001, 06:39 PM   #29
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Originally posted by U2Bama:

Who called Islam a failure?

Nobody. George Kerevan, a writer for The Scotsman, called the Islamic and Arab states economic failures.
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Old 10-29-2001, 01:04 PM   #30
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Thanks, Speedracer. Amna, I hope you did realize that It was not I that was making those comments, and that I had posted the newspaper article from the Scotsman. And, Speedracer's right, the article does not denigrate Islam in any way or talk. It's talking about the Arab countries' economies, as far as I can tell. And, i agree with you, it wouldn't make much sense if anyone commented on whether a religion is a success or a failure...i mean, it's all up to an individual to decide whether theire religion fails them or not, otherwise, such comments don't mean much.

Also, if your comments were meant for me and not the newspaper writer, you should know that i grew up Moslem (born in Pakistan, a country that's one of the biggest economic failures in history, and which just happens to be Moslem), have read/studied the Quran in three languages (Arab, Urdu and English) and know a lot about it...though, i must admit, the religion failed me...er...sorry, i failed the religion, and do not follow it (or any others). I do understand and respect "the message" and think it's a good one, but...not for me, i guess.

Mirrorball Man: i read that story over the weekend, too. It seems our (western) vaunted "intelligence" agencies failed big time prior to Sept. 11 (even though they stopped many, smaller, potential terrorist acts from occuring around the world), and are continuing their intelligence boo-boos in Afghanistan. Hope we don't equip our own troops for failure such as this one that cost Abdul Haq his life.

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