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Middle East Wars, Islam and Jihadism
A personal view from David Douglass


Anyone trying to make head or tail of what’s going on in the Middle East will never discover it from the British or American media, both of which are slavishly following the line of their governments. In normal circumstances that would be bad enough but in the case of the Middle East that line is bazaar and contradictory in the extreme.

Egypt represents a distorted battle for democracy and liberty but one we must support.

There were high hopes for a thoroughgoing democratic change in Egypt last year after the country had only known dictatorship or colonisation ever. The old order was smashed and a united people held the streets. There seemed then an acceptance that ‘democracy’ a much over-used and abused word had to mean more than a vote every few years. That democracy had to mean recognition of secularism, freedom of religion or of none, and the right to personal freedom of morality, dress and culture. The right to think different things, and believe different things. To dress in traditional garb or wear modern clothes, to worship at the Mosque or the church or drink wine and beer in the city clubs.

Sadly the election of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi as the highest poling presidential candidate soon put an end to that. Almost at once the new president Morsi set about tearing up the constitution and imposing an Islamic one, civil rights for women, trade unions, religious and cultural minorities  were curtained and sectarian attacks started against Christians and even Muslim’s who didn’t conform to the majority view. But it was the attacks on secular society, sales of alcohol, bars and clubs, dress styles among women and girls, rights to be seen and heard, which sparked the big cities to explode with anger. Mainly young people took to the streets, unwilling to be pushed under the veil and into an Iranian style theocratic Sharia law.

Millions took to the streets, and the army for years educated to see the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization having been banned under everybody from the British to Nasser, after initial confrontation with the democracy demonstrators drew back, confused as to who they were now fighting and why. The Egyptian army isn’t a democracy of course, but it has long seen itself as the guardian of secular Egypt. They issued an ultimatum to the Morsi to redraft the constitution and guarantee religion rights for Christians and other religions and recognize secular society rather than a Sharia one. He refused, and with mass riots at their backs the army deposed him.

Political commentators and the left in general have got themselves into huge confusion over this issue. How can you demand democracy but welcome the army deposing the democratically elected president. ? First off, it is essentially the people at large which forced the army to act to save secularism and stop the creation of an Islamic state. Members of the armed forces themselves are not neutral to this change, they live in Egypt too, they too and their families would have to suffer under Sharia and have their own individual freedoms withdrawn. Few in the army by tradition, religion or politics are fundamentalist Muslims (a concept ‘the left’ doesn’t like us using although its meaning is quite clear and descriptive) they too have a collective viewpoint at least on the issue of Sharia. The masses on street though  cannot and actually do not see the army as a guardian of democracy, only they themselves, acting directly for themselves can do that, but forcing the army to act was the nearest instrument to hand, a blunt and imperfect and dangerous instrument true, but welcomed for the right reasons and in a progressive cause. They couldn’t wait for years until the next election to vote in someone else, by that time sweeping changes would have been brought in, and by that time Sharia law would already be well entrenched with secular democratic institutions and cultures uprooted. Already the majority of Coptic Christians have left, fearful of a pogrom against them. In places where the Islamists have taken over hundreds have been slaughtered, as have been aid workers and doctors and teachers.
We should note here, that Hitler, the worse dictator in several centuries was elected, wait and see if he can be removed in the next election really wasn’t a sound strategy, not for Trade Unionists, Socialists, Communists, Jews , and many others, because they were all shot, hanged and gassed before they could cast a vote on a ballot paper. Not that there would ever have been another ballot paper anyway.
Secondly the president only actually got 13% of the vote, enough to win surely, but not enough to abolish everyone else’s rights. The struggle to have and to hold democracy is a constant process it isn’t about a vote once every five years. The fight in Egypt isn’t over, it’s only just begun. The Islamist forces behind the Brotherhood can draw in many many armed fighters from across the region and the world.  The British and US governments have condemned the army, but haven’t come out against the democracy revolution; they aren’t formally defending the Islamist in Egypt, although the American press in particular seems to see the Muslim Brotherhood as the defenders of democracy. The people ought to just accept that Brothers won and the loss of civil and religious freedom is something you just have to put up with because ‘it’s democratic’. A sort of ‘never mind the ball lets get on with the game’ where they have clearly no perspective as to the magnitude of the Islamist threat in the whole region. This is demonstrated by their government’s foreign policy, a policy which plays both sides against the middle. In Libya, they armed the Islamist, trained them, fought along side them, and acted as their air force. They have now succeeded in installing Al Qaeda as the dominant armed faction there, people are murdered in the hundreds daily and no-one with a eye to see would say the country is better now than it was under the madcap Gadaffi.

In Syria they back to the hilt the armed forces of Al Qaeda, the self same force they are fighting against in Afghanistan. Britain and American governments were straining on the leash to start bombing government supporters in Syria with the view to undermining them and allowing the terrorist Islamists to win. Men who would be jailed in their countries of origin, men who would be bombing British and European cities are being given unrestrained passage over Syria’s borders armed to the teeth with everything NATO and the Gulf States can equip them with. The dominant armed faction of opposition in Syria is Hamza, al-Qaeda’s local representatives, like the Brotherhood in Egypt, and their armed gangs in Iraq and Libya, fighting to install a fundamentalist Sharia based Theocracy. The Islamists installed by Blair and Bush to power in Iraq, now form the front line of their pan-Arab push throughout the region. ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq) fights in alliance with al-Sham they are the Middle Eastern ‘Taliban’ like them, armed, trained, and equipped by the west and the Gulf. This is the team which is single handedly responsible for tens of thousands of sectarian murders in Iraq. They are the team behind the failed bomb attacks in London and Glasgow. In Syria they have operated a murderous extermination programme against any village or town or faction which objects to their rule.  All they lack  in Syria is an air force, and Obama promised them his, ‘if’ Assad and the Syrian government use illegal nerve gas, a line will be crossed and the USA with the British and French and whatever other gung ho forces they could muster would go in and bomb the secularists into submission. At a time when the government forces had the terrorists on the run, when the only thing which could swing the war against them was an American led air blitz, why would Assad or his forces launch a nerve gas attack? Only one side would benefit from the use of nerve gas, the Islamist.

Now its illustrative that the gas wasn’t fired from aircraft, the terrorists haven’t got one of those, they weren’t fired from tanks, only the government have those too, nor where they fired from heavy field guns , only the army has those. But they were fired from hand held ground to ground rocket launchers, they do have those. It is fairly obvious to most outside observers that the Islamists were the only force to have benefited from the use of the gas. It nearly worked too, only mass public opinion and for once the politicians actually listening to what overwhelming public opinion was saying stayed their hands and stopped the west going in as al-Qaeda’s air force again.

Syria now has thousands of Islamist fighters pouring unhindered over the Turkish border, with a nod and wink from NATO.  They come from Britain, France and other European states; they come from sub-Sahara Africa, as well as the states where they have come to power in the Middle East thanks to NATO. They are the same force which just unleashed a mass indiscriminate attack in a Kenyan shopping centre, mowing down hapless men women and children .They are spread out across Iraq and Northern Syria, their aim the creation of a caliphate a single political and cultural entity based on Sharia with no room for secularism, religious disagreement, trade unions, political parties or needless to say democracy and human rights of any sort. In the classic double game being played by America and NATO, Turkey pulled its troops and border forces back to allow the Islamists a free passage in Syria. The Times reported that “Ninety per cent of the jihadists are getting there through Turkey. Some of them are just young men going to fight jihad, but among them too are slaughterers and terrorists well known to international intelligence organizations.” (Sept19th 2013, pg4)


 The whole western double standards and slanted news reports are bollocks of course, part of the big power chess game played by Imperialism and the USA in particular, they aren’t confused at all by the way they play both sides against each other, the only principle they have is that they win in the end. Linked to the whole process is Turkey, one of the central planks for secular society in the middle east, and an example of the way in which Muslim, Christian and non believer could live together with the strict separation of religion, and your God from the state and running the country. The new President is however leaning hard toward Islam, is softening up secularism, is imposing new rules and codes on dress, and alcohol, on liberty.  They have effectively signed up as allies of the Islamist forces in Syria, if Syria didn’t have enough on its plate right now probably a state of war would exist between the two countries, certainly they are entitled to feel stabbed in the back as Turkey is far from neutral in this war. This has resulted in mass protests especially by the youth, demanding that they keep their civil liberties, that secular society be defended. All of these developments have put ‘the left’ in all camps at the same time. Used only and always to defending ‘the Muslims’ it now finds itself accusing the democratic secular revolution of islamiphobia, even when the bulk of those force are Muslims themselves .

The left in Britain is now so thoroughly imbued with middle class liberalism it can scarce make neither head nor tail of what is going on in the world anymore and more often than not comes down on the wrong side of progress. Some time ago it decided that Muslim, a religion which you either choose to embrace or reject, was the same as ‘race’ which is something you are born into and cant choose and can’t change. That Muslim, which is a belief in a particular kind of magic pixie in the sky as opposed to some other kinds of magic pixies in the sky, was the same as being ‘black’ which you don’t get to choose at all. So they conclude, being against Islam, and in particular political Islamic Jihadism, must mean you’re anti black and therefore racialist! Despite the fact that the aim of the Jihadists is anti women, anti working class, anti democratic and anti secular, and needless to say thoroughly anti communist. They end up defending and supporting Islamist forces against secular forces even if the secular force is largely Muslim too, though not Jihadists, so they end up supporting Al-Qaida in Libya and Syria along side NATO the USA and Britain.
They have now chosen to condemn the army in Egypt rather than the Brotherhood.  They have drafted a new ‘phobia’ to go with all their other allegations of phobia’s, in this case ‘Islamiphobia’  now the folk they accuse of this condition very rarely are actually against Muslims, or their right to believe in as many magic pixies as the Christians do, certainly I’m not. I am against a political viewpoint which seeks to create a social and political system dominated by a theocratic religious state run in the name of Islam, and based upon medieval prejudices, repressive morality, and ancient cruel laws and rules. Iran and Afghanistan under the Taliban are recent examples. But we see similar versions in parts of Pakistan and the Gulf states. A phobia is an irrational fear of something. I see nothing whatever irrational in a fear of Jihadism being established across the middle East or Africa, or parts of the far east, this is process already started and wars and resistance are in full swing there, with girls, women, and progressive people being butchered every day.

I don’t like armies, I don’t like states, but if I was in Egypt and the army had just slammed the door shut on a rapid slide to theocracy and religion being rammed down me throat, I think I’d be having a smoke on the ol hooky pipe and dancing in the street too. If I was in Syria I would be forming a secular armed defence team to stop the advance of the Islamists and while we were at it, fight for a democratic secular society run and administered by the working class directly with no input from mullahs or priests or pixie worshippers .

So finally coming to the vexed question of the Niqab, the black shroud which covers a women from head to toe and allows only her eyes to be seen, in some cases not even that, since the slit itself if covered by a mesh. I am fully aware that like the confusion by so called leftists and progressives defending the fascistic terror of Islamism, they have also been quick to ‘defend’ the ‘right’ of women to be covered up. One expects that with progressives like this women in China and Japan would still have their feet bound as they used to by law, because men liked tiny child like feet and the crippled hobble of the bound women. It was after all ‘a culture’ and opposition to it could be called ‘asianophobic’ or ‘racist’. It would be just as absurd.
This particular ‘culture’ is the same as feet binding, it comes from a particular misogynist version of Gulf based Islam Wahhabism, and is nothing to do with Islam as such.
I am disturbed by the insidious spread, much of it enforced and not a free choice at all, of this oppressive provocative garment.  As a libertarian I do indeed defend the right of people to wear any daft get up they wish, a goldfish bowl on their head, or a biffo the bear mask. However, I draw the line at this right, when it comes to face to face situations which require we actually see the person talking to us, to see their responses, their faces, their expressions. Jobs such as teaching and child care clearly need the child to see its carer, to see the carer's face, for sympathy, for a smile, for a laugh, for sorrow, for joy. I need to see the bus drivers face if he wants to collect my fare or inspect my ticket and talk to me. It is also the case that one cant make a ban on hoodies, and face masks, and helmets in shops, restaurants and banks and post offices etc, but then allow the jilbab, it is simply making some people more equal than others. The recent decision to allow an accused women to have her face covered up in the public trial except when given evidence, is a case in point. Which person in the country accused of an anti social crime would not wish to keep their faces covered up so members of the press and public couldn’t see it?  It is also highly provocative, something like those British football fans that go abroad with T shirts bearing a bulldog with a union jack standing in a fighting stance. It’s a ‘f…you’ to the people of the country they are visiting.

It is now more than clear that the full body and face cover is NOT part of a religion, it is not a requirement of Islam, it is not called for in the qouran as Muslim scholars will tell you. It is a choice, a cultural fashion statement, an act of defiance, and I defend the right to make that cultural fashion statement provocative as it is. BUT there are situations where practical requirements of work and society do not allow for that practice on those occasions. Many Muslim women do not wear the veil and they remain Muslim women. At a time when hard line jihadists are waging a global armed offensive against secular societies allowing this fundamentalist strain of Islam to gain ground and set standards is a dangerous and slippery slope. Already the right not to wear the full face veil is being denied at a number of Muslim schools across Britain. Pre-teenage girls are force to wear the full Burka in school and en-route to and from school. There has been no left and liberal outcry about ‘rights’ and ‘freedom’ in these cases. To conclude, a fully veiled women on the street makes my freedom loving guts turn, but I defend her right to do so and would physically defend her against attack or insult. However if she is my Doctor, or my nurse, then I do not expect her to stubbornly ignore the tasks and human qualities needed to do her job and insist on wearing it just because that is what she has chosen to do. It is not practical, necessary or helpful to any aspect of the job, or being part of a multi racial, secular society.





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