The Soft Fingers Of The Western Civilisation
Why aljazeera satellite TV embraces the extremists?
By: Arif Alwan
The first place I went to soon after arriving to London in 1990 was the Thames. I was eager to see its dirty waters that caused such sadness to T. S. Eliot and made him pessimistic about time, time that exhausts the human being and smashes the value of precious things inside him.
After few months in this ancient city, I began feeling an alienation, so I moaned to my friends who had come to London earlier about the misfortunes that had led us to this city in the footsteps of Eliot, Ezra Pound, Virginia Wolf, D. H. Lawrence and others who established the characteristics of modern literature in England and the whole world.
Of course I make no claim to be counted among those giants, as we are separated by more than half a century, but I want to follow some marks that their works made at that time.
thousands of Iraqis, whose passports Saddam’s regime had withdrawn after they
Two death sentences against one person only accentuate both the bloodlust and the banality of the Saddam regime.
amazed me most in
doubt that the
seems that the British, famous for their politeness, were blissfully unaware
that the terrorists had no affinity whatsoever with their place of birth, since
they are motivated to kill either by their own accumulated convictions, or are
deceived by others’ ideologies. In the case of
clerics have been accused of promoting terror and violence in their countries
of origin. However, in the
I was among those who are offended seeing these ‘clerics’ in the media promoting their dangerous ideas. But what can a person like myself, who writes in Arabic from time to time, do in the face of an English media, watched and read by millions of British, with the media all over the globe following suit?
Besides, could the antagonism of a nationalised British citizen like myself attract the attention of a government known for its aggressive attitude towards dissent these past few years?
I do not believe that civilisation could be destroyed by an extreme imported ideology promoted by small groups, which has been rejected even in their own societies of origin. However, I do believe, at the age of sixty-four now, that the main elements on which western civilisation is founded could be seriously harmed by feebleness, resulting from ill-judgement on the part of society, and if one of these elements crumbles, the resulting moral imbalance and frustrations at the individual level would be significant.
The great principles of individual freedom and human rights have been well established in the west as a result of experiences and ideological conflicts spread over four centuries, I cannot see serious danger threatening them if they were abused by the government or mistakenly by some NGOs while trying to defend these principles.
the midst of the chaos and confusion resulting from the
Pakistanis came to the
the Arab caravans of students and asylum seekers, there were a number of Iraqi
businessmen who settled in
that, there was a mosque in Harehills (
Although the population of Leeds is around three quarters of a million, among them 21.394 Muslims according to the 2001 census, in total there are more than 7 mosques in Leeds as far as I am concerned, four of them located within a half mile radius in Leeds 6. They are almost half-empty no matter what the religious occasion. Linked to these mosques and to complete their objectives, there are four Arabic schools with a curriculum focussed on teaching Arabic language, but through texts from the Quran and Hadith –prophet Mohamed’s eloquent and Islamic history reinterpreted by the extremists.
I am not concerned to name individuals or groups, I found that money from Pakistan,
Iraq and the Arabian Gulf have contributed in building these four mosques,
besides the continuous financial support from the local council, charities and
investments whose profits go overseas regularly. Part of this money goes to
unknown individuals in
also found that Leeds is used to accommodate large scale meetings on certain
political and religious occasions, which hundreds of Arabs and Muslims from
In the late 1980s a conflict took place between the founders of these groups. Some of them stood with Saddam, others against him. The conflict also took a religious form, as some of them rejected all forms of terror while the other supported it.
in accordance with the policy of multiculturalism, the universities and
I met lecturers in Middle Eastern studies departments who were infected by fundamentalism. I also discovered that they put pressure on the female Muslim students, via implicit ‘advice’, to wear the Islamic hijab, while an academic and scientific atmosphere reigns in other departments.
Saddam’s regime collapsed in 2003, individuals from Leeds approached the Home
Office seeking permission for Saddam’s wife and his two daughters to live in
not believe it is fair to accuse police and security agencies of not acting
properly towards what some Muslims in
result of the expanding terror and destruction in
Digging deep in the cultural role of the religions in forming people’s feelings, we find that Islam clearly promotes killing enemies, destroying them and looting their possessions, describing them as ‘Kafir’ which means ‘unbeliever’ (i.e. not a Muslim).
It is difficult, if not impossible for Westerners, especially the British, to appreciate the influence of the word ‘Kafir’ on the extremist Muslim’s consciousness. It is a word charged with hostility and a near hysterical desire to destroy others or exult in their pain. The word ‘Kafir’, repeated in the Quran hundreds of times and deeply rooted in the extremist Muslim’s subconscious, gives rise to spite and hatred which has no justification in reality.
Moreover, ‘Kafir’ is branded on the extremist Muslim’s consciousness and is unaffected by any friendship or kindness he or she has been shown.
The problem that secular and moderate Muslims encounter is that the concept of Islam has remained unchanged since the texts of the Quran were gathered in one book, and agreed to be the only reference for all Muslims regardless of sect.
Islam, in its spiritual and physical thought, descends from the Torah and imitates it. Because these texts were created at different stages, they contradict each other, so you can find one text that encourages killing while another preaches tolerance. Many Muslim researchers and writers have discussed this inconsistency during the past fifteen hundred years, including the most recent ones like Hamid Abu Zaid, Faraj Fooda (assassinated), Burhan Ghalioon, Mahmood Saeed Al-Qaamni who, along with many others, is threatened with assassination. However, the concepts of Islam have never been reformed or modernised, and this is the main reason behind the obscurantism and dysfunction of Muslim societies.
The only period when the Arab Muslims established a substantial modern state is when the Abbasids (750-1209) prohibited the clerics from intervening in politics and in everyday life.
does not seem to occur to nonentities like Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiry or even
Al-Zarqawi that they are contradicting Islam or harming it when they call for
the destruction of
The Pakistanis’ new role is complementing the Arabs in promoting extremism among children. The notable intelligentsia that came to into view after the senseless and sectarian separation from India have also found it difficult to enlighten villagers, nomads and those who live in the small towns due to the counterweight of the clerics.
groups appearing on TV with their long beards and traditional robes in
think that Eliot, like his contemporary Arnold Toynbee, believes that war is
not an important factor in the death of civilizations. The illustrious
historian refers that to what he calls the ‘barbarians’. He means the villagers
who creep into the city and destroy its lifestyle and moral values, while the
genius poet refers to the ugly scenes of the scum that covers the surface of
so sad to hear national and international Human Rights organisations opposing
the new procedures that aim to decelerate the wave of hatred and violence that
has overtaken the
The article translated by Fadwa Fadel