Saturday 6 June 2009

Oh Dear Obama !

Barack Obama's visit to Egypt this week and his speech entitled "A New Beginning" is part of a policy pursued by the new US President that worries me a great deal. Whilst many newspaper inches have been filled up dissecting each and every word that was uttered, my concern is more of a big-picture one. Why is it that the President feels the necessity to be so apologetic towards the Muslims, and to now actively court the Muslim world?

Just to dispel any misunderstandings, I have no issues with Islam, the Islamic religion and the Muslim nation. As one of the world's monotheistic religions alongside Christianity and Judaism, I have a great deal of respect for Islam, its writings and prophets. My problem is with certain elements who use Islam as a reason to promote anti-western behaviour, and those who use Islam as a means to transfer their anti-social and terrorist activities around the world. In many instances, this behaviour is in the form of terrorism against legitimately elected governments and against private individuals who are unknown to the terrorists and have never wronged them. Surely, private citizens have the right to continue their lives without the fear of such disgraceful threats against their personal safety? In many instances, these threats and actual attacks are carried out in the name of Islam, or by people who actively preach Islam as part of their terrorist activities.

It is more than just a passing coincidence that all the individuals involved in the September 11th attacks in the US were Muslims. The same is true of the perpetrators of the July 7th attacks in London and numerous other attacks that have been carried out (and prevented) around the world. What is also noticeable is the fact that these people make an open point of linking their terrorist activities to their Muslim faith. On the most recent State Department List of Foreign Terrorist Groups issued in April 2008, 26 of the 44 organisations on the list are obviously Muslim groups that can easily identified as such just by the name of their organisation. It is possible that others are also Muslim organisations that are not obviously so from their names. From this I have concluded that, whilst all Muslims are not terrorists, the majority of terrorists seem to be Muslims.

The USA has offered a home and citizenship to many millions of Muslims in the same way as it has offered to other religions and people from other countries. This is also true of many European and other western nations who have admitted Muslims from all around the world to be citizens. The notion that the west has an axe to grind with Islam, or has embarked upon a policy of treating Muslims around the world in a less than fair manner is surely recognised by most reasonable people as pure fiction. Current military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere were initiated in response to attacks or threats on the west's freedom and democracy, rather than as an attack on Islam. Maybe freedom and democracy is not a relevant style of government in the Muslim world, but this does not give Muslims the right to deny others the right to live like this. Equally, the west has a right to defend its freedoms and its rights when they come under attack from outside forces.

Surely President Obama recognises the fact that the USA has not actively pursued a policy of discrimination against Muslims? If he does recognise this, why does he feel the necessity at this time to apologise for the way in which Muslims have been treated? He seems to be blaming the Bush administration for maltreatment of Muslims. And now, President Obama arrives in the form of a superhero to apologise for the wrongs of his predecessor and to bring peace upon the planet. The timing and manner of his "New Beginning" seem to me to be fatally flawed.

My fear is that the "New Beginning" will show a weakness on the part of the west that will be exploited by the Muslim terrorist organisations. At a time when the free world should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder and pursuing a zero tolerance policy, a key player is opening up a weak front. This can only encourage those that wish to undermine peace and democracy to try to take advantage of the lack of unity and resolve that now seems to exist amongst western countries.

For more than 60 years, many highly intelligent and capable people have applied themselves to try to solve the conundrum of achieving a lasting peace in the Middle East. Obama displays an alarming level of arrogance when he makes statements indicating this he can insist that the parties reach a peace deal within two years. His people may indeed be smart and talented, but it seems as though his arrogance can only be detrimental to efforts to bring peace. I fear that his "New Beginning" will be a beginning of something that will make the situation worse rather than better. To my mind, a more appropriate message to the Muslim world would be that we will respect and embrace those who respect and embrace us, and that we will single-mindedly act to eliminate those who do not.

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