10 November 2010

Islamophobes Seduced By Crusader Myth

Islamophobes Seduced By Crusader Myth, by John Feffer (Asia Times, 10 November 2010)

The Crusades, which finally petered out in the 17th century, continue to shape our global imagination today. The Cold War ended in 1991, but key elements of the anticommunism credo have been awkwardly grafted onto the new Islamist adversary. And the "war on terror", which US President Barack Obama quietly renamed shortly after taking office, has in fact metastasized into the wars that his administration continues to prosecute in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

Those in Europe and the United States who cheer on these wars claim that they are issuing a wake-up call about the continued threat of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militants who claim the banner of Islam. However, what really keeps Islamophobes up at night is not the marginal and backwards-looking Islamic fundamentalists but rather the growing economic, political, and global influence of modern, mainstream Islam. Examples of Islam successfully grappling with modernity abound, from Turkey's new foreign policy and Indonesia's economic muscle to the Islamic political parties participating in elections in Lebanon, Morocco, and Jordan. Instead of providing reassurance, however, these trends only incite Islamophobes to intensify their battles to "save" Western civilization.

As long as our unfinished wars still burn in the collective consciousness - and still rage in Kabul, Baghdad, Sana'a, and the tribal areas of Pakistan - Islamophobia will make its impact felt in our media, politics, and daily life. Only if we decisively end the millennial Crusades, the half-century Cold War, and the decade-long "war on terror" (under whatever name) will we overcome the dangerous divide that has consumed so many lives, wasted so much wealth, and distorted our very understanding of our Western selves.
Link: Islamophobes Seduced By Crusader Myth, by John Feffer