[message_box title=”What fuels ISIS?” color=”blue”]“US military veteran and objector, Mike Posner said: “racism within the military has long been used as a tool to justify the destruction and occupation of another country. Has long been used to justify the killing, subjugation and torture of another people. Racism is a vital weapon employed by this government…”[/message_box]
The topic of ISIS has become a primary point of discussion on media panels, radio debates and news bulletins. However, the topic has seeped into the most intimate of spaces such as family gatherings and dinner table discussions. No group is questioning the motives, rise and ideology of ISIS more than the heterogeneous Muslim community. ISIS has gone from becoming the name of an Egyptian goddess to a powerful non-state actor in the Middle East.
I was asked at a family function recently why are people joining ISIS despite having knowledge of the beheadings and sexual atrocities against captive women and children. The issue is not about competing ideological streams within Islam, Sunni vs Shia or fundamentalism per se. The sympathy for ISIS, albeit minuscule within the Muslim world, is borne out of a far deeper issue.
Muslims in general have been at the receiving end of US and Allied militarism since the first gulf war. The Texans rolling in with armour and firepower to liberate the Muslim world with democracy in their war of terror. Ten years on, the world has shifted from the enchantment with democracy to absolutism. The rise of the right wing in Europe, xenophobia in Africa and the unmasking of the flawed liberators in the USA with police brutality directed at African Americans. The Muslim world has suffered brutal occupations and violated territorial sovereignty in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Mali and Somalia to name a few. Muslim families have lived the last decade as refugees in their own lands, having to eke out a morsel of food for their children whilst parents starve. Muslims have become the subjects of diabolical torture and sexual debauchery in the dungeons of liberation in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Bagram Air Base. It is the cry of our sisters having their dignity and chastity violated with night raids and unlawful detentions that haunt the Muslim psyche. Muslims in the Western world have not been spared either, with humiliation and ridicule being the order of the day. Repeated attacks on the sensitivities of Muslim communities with demonization, vilification and ridicule of the most revered figure in Islam, the Prophet Mohammed PBUH. Sad is the collective Muslim heart when the Western world that preaches about women’s rights and equality ridicules the man who singlehandedly stopped the grotesque ancient Arab practice of burying their daughters alive because they desired sons. How sad when the West ridicules the man who uplifted the poor, the weak and destitute and practised non-racialism by entrusting the call to prayer to a man of African descent. The bleeding issue that has not been solved by democracy, the Palestinian issue, remains to the present day.
The Muslim world has not been a recipient of democracy from the Western world, but racism and subjugation. US military veteran and objector, Mike Posner said: “racism within the military has long been used as a tool to justify the destruction and occupation of another country. Has long been used to justify the killing, subjugation and torture of another people. Racism is a vital weapon employed by this government…”. Ridicule of Africans as niggers, the Japanese as slant eyed yellow people; it comes as no surprise that the occupied are referred to as ragheads or sand niggers. The stench of colonial racism is evident in those names and painful due to our own South African and African history.
After being the recipient of disillusionment with democracy, occupation, torture, racism, the Israeli state and ridicule , is it any wonder that some in the Muslim world are placing their lot with the absolutism of ISIS. Support for ISIS, albeit small locally, is not due to fanatical convictions or blood lust. It is a by-product of the pained psyche of the Muslim world.
To address the issue of ISIS one must address the reasons for its support base. The legal maxim, sine qua non holds true in this case. But for US and Allied militarism in the Middle East, would ISIS be in existence today and the answer is simply no. Perhaps the world is now ripe for an alternative, not flawed democracy, not militarism and not absolutism. Perhaps the world needs a value driven society – to encourage good and discourage evil; built on the pillars of upliftment of mankind and equality and dignity for all. This may be a utopian dream, but in a world so marred with destruction and pain, dreams are the lanterns of hope that should guide humanity through its darkest hour.
Zaakir Ahmed Mayet
Chairman of the Media Review Network South Africa
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