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Muslim voices

By Lisa Fabrizio
web posted December 6, 2004

I usually write my own column, but recent events in the Middle East call for voices from that region to be heard among the mainstream media din. Some Muslims promote Jihad while others support democratic reform.

It has long been my contention that -- contrary to the caterwauling of the American and European left -- the forces of the current Islamist Jihad are limited by their preferred method of combat and by one of their main tenets; opposition to democratic institutions.

The first is a fact of nature: A movement whose main weapon of choice is the martyrdom of an entire generation of its young men is not one prone to propagation. I speak not of Islamist radicals in the West who thrive behind the shield of democracy, but of those who dwell in abject poverty in Arab nations. Listen to the mother of a Lebanese martyr:

"I am prepared to sacrifice my life. All I want is martyrdom. I'm willing for all my children to become martyrs. May my husband also become a martyr, and Allah willing, may I die as a martyr."

Should this mother’s wishes be granted, it is certain that her family will spawn no further generations of murderers. Nor will they enjoy what some see as the future hope for her people; the democratization of the region, beginning with elections in Iraq. These reforms might well spell doom for al-Qaida and friends, and they know it.

As a recent letter from a Saudi Jihadist shows, recruitment may be suffering. In it, he castigates his fellow Muslims for succumbing to material values rather than choosing to fight the ‘oppressors’:

"You who shirk Jihad: We haven't seen you coming to the aid of your brethren in the Arab peninsula, nor have we seen you fighting the Crusaders. Why do you shirk Jihad ? What is the matter with you? Believers, why is that when you are told: go forth [to fight] for the sake of Allah, you linger slothfully in the ground? Are you more content with this world than with the world to come…what are you waiting for?"

But Muslims who favor democratization are speaking as well. Some, like Salama Ni'mat of the London Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat, see hypocrisy in unelected Arab rulers who condemn Iraqi elections as illegitimate, and irony in the circumstances under which those elections will occur:

"It is outrageous, and amazing, that the first free and general elections in the history of the Arab nation are to take place in January: in Iraq, under the auspices of American occupation, and in Palestine, under the auspices of the Israeli occupation.

"It is sad and pathetic that the eyes of the entire world are upon the Palestinian and Iraqi elections that will be held under the lances of foreign occupation, while the peoples of the 'independent, free, and sovereign' Arab countries have no way of expressing their will.

“It is sad and pathetic that certain countries today are treating the Iraqis with the cheapest kind of political hypocrisy, even though no one heard any particular Arab protest during the time of the regime of the mass graves [i.e. during Saddam's rule]. What prevents some of the Arab regimes from holding free and genuine elections is their fear of the results, and nothing more – that is, their fear of the will of their peoples."

In Iraq itself, a newly liberated press offered commentary on the effects of the U.S. presidential election on their country. Writing on behalf of an Iraqi rights group, Aziz Al-Haj eloquently noted:

"Much can be said about this event, its meaning and consequences… I wish to express my feelings of happiness as a nationalist democratic Iraqi about this victory, which confirms anew the legitimacy and justice of the war of liberation of Iraq from the Saddam regime and the danger it had posed to the security of the region and the world.

"Kerry's opportunistic maneuvers with the Iraqi subject have failed, particularly his claims that Saddam did not represent a threat to the American and world security. We know that the Saddam danger was far greater than the danger of Al-Qaida and bin Laden because Saddam's regime had enormous capabilities in a very sensitive region and possessed forbidden weapons and capacities and programs to produce many types of these weapons.

“The betting on the defeat of Bush by the terrorists with all their tribes and branches, the nationalists, the Arab and European left, and the murderers in Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul, and the Iranian and Syrian regimes, has failed… These groups with disparate ideologies and objectives had one common denominator - a blind hatred for Bush. We offer them our deep condolences…"

Muslims are speaking. Is the world listening?

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Note: The above quotes were provided through translations via The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) website.

Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut. You may write her at mailbox@lisafab.com.

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