By M Ratan
December 25, 2009
This refers to the articles, “The ‘cool’ jihadis of America” by Martha Irvine and Nafeesa Syeed (December 22) and “Swiss ban ripples across Europe” by Daniel Pipes (December 23). The articles raise some serious and disturbing questions about the growing influence of jihadi Islam among migrant, middle-class Muslims in the US and Europe.
The writers of the first article tell us about five young American Muslims of Pakistani origin who studied in good public schools and colleges in the US. They were “seemingly well-adjusted kids”. They did attend a common mosque but what seemed to have deeply impacted them was jihadi propaganda on the Internet. This motivated them to nurse a “sub-culture...of Muslims under siege”. It is this indoctrination that took them to the nursery of terrorism in Pakistan. At the time of their arrest, their aim was to join the Taliban to “fight US troops in Afghanistan”.
Such recurring stories of alienation of young, educated Muslims from the mainstream of their adopted countries that forces them to forge an Islamist identity are clearly the source of great anxiety and concern in American and European societies. This is something that Daniel Pipes has drawn our attention to in the second article. He has made a valid point that any attempt to reject the Swiss vote against Islamic minarets as a ‘nut case’ would be self-delusional. Its “ripples” are visible across Europe. He quotes readers’ polls by several leading French, German and Spanish dailies that overwhelmingly reflect the “growing anti-Islamic sentiments throughout Europe”. He has also cited examples of lack of reciprocity and equality on the part of Muslim countries in terms of setting up houses of worship of faiths other than Islam. Having lived in Kuwait, one is familiar with the Kuwaiti Government’s hostility to let a Hindu temple or a gurudwara function.
It is time the Muslim intelligentsia asserted itself to give a liberal direction to its community. Muslim migrants to other countries must accept the cultural ethos of their hosts. Those born and brought up in non-Muslim countries must underline their national identity more than their religious identity. This is the only recipe for inter-community harmony and mutual understanding. Preference for standing apart and resisting integration would be disastrous and may prove American author Samuel Huntington’s prediction of a clash of civilisations to be true.
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