Commentary: Oppose the Anti-Muslim Hysteria!

February 14, 2006

by Michael Thorburn

During the past two weeks, millions of people, in countries throughout the world, have joined in protests triggered by the publication of racist cartoons which depicted the Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist. These protests are part of the ongoing struggles of the people against U.S. and European imperialism's' program of colonialism and war.

Massive demonstrations have been organized in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East including such countries as Afghanistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Kashmir, Niger, Palestine Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkey, and many others.

- On February 10, 700,000 people rallied in Lebanon.

- On February 8, thousands of people staged a protest outside a U.S. military base in Qalat, Afghanistan, denouncing the U.S. occupation of their country as well as the racist characterization of Muslim people. As the marchers approached the U.S. military base, police shot into the crowd, killing four and wounding 11 demonstrators. On the same day, more than 50,000 people protested in Niamey, Niger.

- On February 7, protests also broke out in front of NATO and Norwegian troop bases in Meymaneh, in northwest Afghanistan. The troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators, and two Dutch F16 aircraft also fired guns into the crowd. One protestor was killed, and several were injured.

- In Palestine, on February 3, 50,000 Palestinians rallied against the cartoon.

U.S. officials, including President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, condemned the demonstrations, blaming them on "extremists" opposed to freedom. Rice accused Syria and Iran of "instigating the violent protests."

The ongoing campaign of the U.S. and various European governments, along with the capitalist media, surrounding the publication of the anti-Muslim cartoons is an organized provocation against the Muslim and Arab peoples.

The cartoons are not only an insult and indignity to Muslims and all peoples. The depiction of the Prophet Mohammad as a terrorist must be understood in the real context of contemporary world politics - in the context of U.S. imperialism's "war on terrorism."

The U.S. government has taken on a mission to rid the world of "terrorists" and declared that it will hunt terrorists wherever and whenever it wants. Under the signboard of the "war on terrorism," U.S. imperialism has already invaded the sovereign countries of Afghanistan and Iraq and set up colonial regimes there. In the name of the "war on terrorism," Bush has repeatedly bombed Pakistan. In the name of the "war on terrorism," the U.S. government is openly threatening war against Iran and Syria and escalating its war against Palestine. Bush and Rumsfeld have declared that suspected "terrorists" are not entitled to human rights as guaranteed in international law and can be kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured at the will of the U.S. government. Bush has declared that anyone he suspects of terrorism can be wiretapped without warrant, imprisoned without charge, etc. Leading spokespersons for the U.S. government have continually cited "radical Islam" as the fountainhead of terrorism.

In these conditions depicting the Prophet Mohammad as a "terrorist" is both a justification for the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a further incitement to war. It is a call to drop bombs on Muslim countries and peoples.

The fact that all the propaganda about the cartoons and "Islamic terrorism" is part of the U.S. war program can be seen in the recent comments of Condoleeza Rice, who asserted that the massive demonstrations across the entire world are orchestrated by the governments of Iran and Syria which just happen to be the two countries likely to be the next targets in the war on terrorism.

The fact that we have to remind people of the real context in which the cartoons are being promoted is itself a testament to the utter deceit of the capitalist media which absolutely refuses to present the issue in its concrete context. In all the thousands of articles about the cartoons and the opposition to them, the capitalist media rarely mentions the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The entire issue is presented solely as one of religious sensibilities and freedom of speech. As part of this game, the media presents the "Muslim opposition" as violent fanatics who hate all Europeans, Americans, Jews, etc. The issue is presented that there is a clash of "values and culture" and the Muslims are portrayed as "intolerant" and "uncivilized" by the "advanced" standards of "Western (read: imperialist) values."

But the issue, at root, is not based on religion at all. The issue is that U.S. and European imperialism are waging war to grab the oil of the Middle East and to reimpose colonialism on the peoples of those countries. The imperialists are promoting hysterical, racist filth against the Arab and Muslim peoples in order to dehumanize them and justify their aggressive wars and colonialism ("the barbaric Muslims need to be civilized by the enlightened capitalists").

This, then, is the "logic" of the capitalist media: U.S. and Western imperialism have the right to spew out racist filth against Muslims, to invade their countries, massacre people and set-up colonial regimes. But when the peoples resist this fascism, they are "intolerant." When they defend their dignity, their sovereignty, their countries, they are "extremists."

In its most "liberal" moments, the capitalist media reminds the reader that in the cartoon controversy, the "extremists" are drowning out the voice of the "moderate Muslims." The media goes on to insist that the "moderates" come forward and properly police their community so as to isolate the extremists. This bourgeois "tolerance" is an equally virulent strain of racism and fascism. It is a more "refined" way of asserting that Islam is the root of terrorism. Even more it insists that "good Muslims" must prove themselves, not only by pledging allegiance to "moderation" and Western values (i.e. renouncing resistance) but also by helping to suppress the just struggles of the Muslim peoples against colonialism and war.

Everyone who cherishes the rights of the people should join the struggle against the anti-Muslim propaganda which is nothing but a justification for colonialism, fascism and war.