Thank you Riwka, I thank you for your calm and rational responses.
I completely agree with you that a lot more has to be done within the muslim communities to root out this "cult of death" as you say it. But the
muslim world is very large (thanks loam, for the link) and widely scattered. Yet we see the extremist movement focused in certain regions while in
others it barely gets a foothold.
Poverty and Violence
Yes, we as muslims need to clean house. I do not deny that. However I believe there is only so much a muslim from one region at one corner of the
Earth can do to affect changes in regions where this cult of destruction have taken root. It is up to the muslims in that area to stand up to this
I am not passing the buck, but simply being practical about it. The most we in unaffected regions can do for the time being
is to stem the
tide, stop these ghastly and barbaric ideas from taking root in our neck of the woods.
Now that is out of the way, the second issue to be addressed is the "why" of it all. Why does it spread easily in one region, whereas it can barely
gain support in another. As ubermuche have mentioned earlier in this thread,
"Impoverished, poorly educated populations are especially vulnerable to radical ideas that promise something greater than the bleak existence they
endure, add disposession or oppressive regimes to the mix and you have a population rife for exploitation by those with their own power base to
I myself couldn't have put it better. I strongly believe this is the prime factor if you will, that makes the ideas behind the cult of death take
hold easily. Think of it like the undercoat, the base layer that allows for even more twisted ideas to take root.
I've seen the effects poverty can have in making a population more violent, I've seen it happen in Indonesia and also I've seen it happen in the
worst of immigrant slums here in my beloved country Malaysia. This was back in '98 if I'm not mistaken. Yep, those were testing times for us. We
managed to stem the tide with laws we had set up in the 1950s to combat communist insurgents. Al Gore criticized us for those laws. Tosser.
America's foreign policy I believe is another strong factor. What the US thinks of other nations really has a lot of weight in the world. Taking the
Gore example again, he had made some comments supporting the movement out to oust Mahathir, the former PM who is also an outspoken critic of the
United States. Unfortunately his comments backfired and united the majority of us behind Mahathir and eventually he pulled us out of the problems that
were plaguing our nation then.
My point is that it was just a comment, directed towards our country. Just a comment! If simple comments from the US can have such a strong effect
on a population, imagine what actual intervention will do.
That may not be the best example. But it is the one I understand most completely, since
it happened to my little country.
So we have socio-economic factors and foreign intervention policies as two factors that weigh in strongly to determine whether extremist ideas can
take root easily. The final factor that weighs in strongly is the type and amount of anti-west propaganda received by the people.
Propaganda at work
I've made a mention about propaganda and it's similiarity to conditioning in another thread. What propaganda is listened to will also determine
which mindset the masses will be locked into. To take the Gore example above again, prior to that comment Mahathir has always criticized the US on
it's foreign policies and it's imperialists leanings, always stressing that the US likes to meddle in other's affairs (topic then and now didn't
change much, did it?
That's why Gore's comments backfired. It was seen as yet another form of American meddling, trying to stir up dissent in our country while it's in
a period of turmoil. All sides of the argument seized that as "American Meddling".
That was one form of propaganda, the political type. The other form is religious propaganda, which reached it's peak during the events following the
During the '97-'98 period of turmoil in this country (following the Asian Financial
and the Anwar fiasco
) the Islamic Party of
Malaysia (PAS) won two additional states in the northern parts of the peninsular.
What do I have to say about PAS? They're an overzealous bunch, and they like to blame jews for everything. The financial crisis had provided them
that Jewish scapegoat in the form of George Soros. I don't know if he is a Jew or not, I'm just not a subscriber to the "everything wrong in the
world is because of Jews" idea. I believe every culture and every race has their monsters.
At any rate, PAS won those two extra states by taking advantage of the period of turmoil. After the dust settled and their true colours show, they
lost it again and now just cling to their traditional Kelantan
Now, the point of this story about PAS is to illustrate how a more radical brand of Islam such as the one championed by PAS can gain a popular support
if there is turmoil or unrest within the population. PAS didn't last long because while the rest of the nation recovered from the financial crisis,
the states under their control actually slipped back a notch or two.
It's just to show why I believe the three factors I've mentioned are the most important factors in determining the success of radical ideas in
taking root. With economy being the absolute base of it.
I hope I did not bore you all with these stories. I simply wish to set the record straight that though this is a muslim problem, it is not a
problem with Islam. It is a muslim problem but if it is to be helped it must start with muslims in the region affected. It is also key to know why it
could gain currency in the regions affected. If we do not know the "why," then we will not know the "how" and we have missed the point of
tackling problems at it's root.
I truly believe it is important to acknowledge that if the war on terrorism is to be won by all sides and be trully successful.