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Fundamentalist Muslim Rage
Related Topics
Middle East
Countering Terrorism
Muslims Against Terrorism
Countering Terrorism from the Middle East

Nothing can justify massacring thousands of innocent civilians, such as on September 11th. Islam forbids the use of terrorism, attacking innocent civilians. No real or imagined injustice can justify it. In addition, harboring terrorists, whether by civilians or by governments, is not supported by Islam. Terrorists cannot be heroes.

Although terrorism cannot be justified, many Fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East are angry with the United States. Even though extremely few Fundamentalist Muslims engage in terrorism, the anger of many Muslims needs to be understood by Americans to avoid other types of conflicts in the future.

Right now, the rage of Fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East is incomprehensible to most Americans. After all, many Americans would say, the USA protected Middle Eastern countries against the aggression of Iraq, as well as against the former Soviet Union.

The Rage of Fundamentalist Muslims
Dr. Bernard Lewis is a noted historian and author on the Middle East. He is recognized as a specialist on understanding the rage of Fundamentalist Muslims. He has written articles on the subject and has appeared on television, such as the Charlie Rose show (10-18-01), to explain the anger of Fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East toward the United States. He gives the following reasons for Middle Eastern anger toward the United States:

Muslims blame the USA for poverty and oppression in the Middle East.
- The USA provides military support to several oppressive governments in the Middle East. The majority of people in those countries, Muslims, live in abject poverty, with no hope for the future.

- The people in those Middle Eastern countries are not allowed to protest against their own governments and cannot overthrow their governments, partly because of American military support for those governments. (However, the people are allowed to demonstrate publicly against the USA to vent their anger and frustration.)

- The USA abandoned the Muslim people of Iraq and Afghanistan after the USA achieved its military goals. After the USA left Iraq, oppressed people in Iraq who opposed Saddham Hussein were massacred. After the USA left Afghanistan, the people of that country were left in abject poverty, had no effective leaders, and had no hope for the future.

- The USA provides military support to Israel, one of the world's strongest military powers, and the Israelis use that American military power against the Palestinian Muslims, who are forbidden to build an army or have a military force. (Editor's Note - Israel was created by the United Nations to make a homeland for Jews. The land, however, was already inhabited by Palestinian Muslims. Many Muslims, therefore, regard Palestinian territory as being occupied by oppressors, the Israelis.)

- Fundamentalist Muslim leaders have focused on the frustrations and hopelessness of the people of the Middle East and promised a new world in which Muslims control their own destinies.

Muslims blame the USA for a loss of traditional values in the Middle East.
- For Fundamentalist Muslims, the USA is a symbol of moral decay. They see the USA as responsible for a decline in traditional values and lifestyles.

Fundamentalist Muslims see the American lifestyle as a dangerous competitor for the hearts and minds of Muslims.
- Fundamentalist Muslims view the technologically advanced and secular lifestyle in the United States as a dangerous temptation for Muslims and that it will lead them away from Fundamentalist Muslim values.

Fundamentalist Muslims believe that they are dominated by the West, especially the United States.
"Of all these offenses the one that is most widely, frequently, and vehemently denounced is undoubtedly imperialism ...." "What is truly evil and unacceptable [to the Fundamentalist Muslim] is the domination of infidels over true believers."

In addition, Fundamentalist Muslims believe that Middle Eastern tyrants have adopted Western ways to gain military power to use against their own people. "For vast numbers of Middle Easterners, Western-style economic methods brought poverty, Western-style political institutions brought tyranny, even Western-style warfare brought defeat. It is hardly surprising that so many were willing to listen to voices telling them that the old Islamic ways were best...." (The Atlantic - Lewis).

The United States provides a focus for Muslim rage.
"Islamic fundamentalism has given an aim and a form to the otherwise aimless and formless resentment and anger of the Muslim masses at the forces that have devalued their traditional values and loyalties and, in the final analysis, robbed them of their beliefs, their aspirations, their dignity, and to an increasing extent even their livelihood."

"And since the United States is the legitimate heir of European civilization and the recognized and unchallenged leader of the West, the United States has inherited the resulting grievances and become the focus for the pent-up hate and anger." (The Atlantic - Lewis).

Many Muslims Are Sympathetic to the USA
When Dr. Lewis appeared on the Charlie Rose television show (10-18-01), he pointed out that, contrary to the news media's coverage, a large percent of Middle Eastern Muslims actually have strong sympathies with the United States. He said, for example, tens of thousands of Iranian Muslims demonstrated to show their grief and sorrow about the September 11th disaster--in direct disobedience to the Iranian government.

Dr. Lewis thinks we should fight terrorist networks with great vigor, as long as it takes. He also said that the USA needs to stop trying so hard to please the Middle Eastern rulers. Instead, he wants the USA to support the development of true democracies in the Middle East. He thinks that the USA should not stop until a truly democratic government is in place in Afghanistan--or anywhere else we intervene.

Dr. Lewis believes that Americans need to correct the impression that we do not follow through on what we start. He said that because Hussein remained in power after the Gulf War, and then massacred people who opposed him, the United States looked like it gave up. When the USA pulled back from Somalia after an ugly incident, we further strengthened the impression in the Middle East that we would not finish what we started if things got difficult.

In short, Dr. Lewis thinks that the seeds of terrorism are sown in American support for tyrannic governments in the Middle East. In addition to fighting against terrorist networks directly, the USA needs to support the development of truly democratic governments that give the people in the Middle East hope for the future. He argues that free democracies are the best weapons against poverty, hopelessness, and terrorism.

Also try
Countering Terrorism from the Middle East, which has other recommendations for long term solutions and Islam and Liberal Democracy, Robin Wright's scholarly examination of modern Islamic movements and democracy.


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