Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Europe: Regimes of Cultural Segregation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The recent terrorist attacks on Jordanian soil prompted me to compare the reaction of its citizens to that of other more politically developed nations.

In Jordan, people of all ages and ethnic groups took to the streets in protest against terrorism and Abu Musab al Zarqawi who they hoped would die a painful death.

For his part, King Abdullah II, who has inherited the courage and wisdom resolution of his late father, King Hussein, described terrorism as an epidemic and called for an “international war” against terror. The Jordanian monarch also referred to the Iraqi couple, sent by al Zarqawi to turn a wedding ceremony into a funeral, as “mentally unstable”.

Jordanian did not expect to be targeted since they were not part of the coalition which invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. The Hashemite Kingdom was always a haven for the Palestinian people and the launch pad for their resistance.

Also taken by surprise, the people of Jordanian immediately opted to join the coalition against terrorism and called for the war against terror to stepped-up in self-defense.

In Spain , the response to the Madrid train bombings was weak; united in grief, the Spanish people stood in silence, contrary the Jordanians who protested angrily and demanded the perpetrators be punished in hell.

Under the slogan Basta, or enough, the Spaniards rallied against their prime minister at the time, Jose Maria Aznar, and US president George W. Bush despite their leading role in the coalition fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda responsible for the attacks in Madrid . Instead of condemning the aggressors and supporting the war on terror, as the Jordanians did, a year later, the Spanish elected a government that had pledged to withdraw from the fight against terrorism!

In spite of the vast difference in the technological, cultural, economic and political fields, between European countries and its Muslim counterparts especially those recently created, the latter are more likely to succeed in developing a realistic model to deal with the terrorist threat and eradicate it.

This can be accomplished if the people and their leaders agree to tackle the problem head on, instead of treading cautiously for fear of offending certain groups, especially as the terrorists have already tainted religion with violence.

Jordanians did not allow themselves to believe that the war on those who hijacked Islam would hurt their Islamic credentials, as other governments did. These hesitant, schizophrenic regimes targeted terrorist groups at a time when their official policies executed the terrorists’ demands by censuring the arts and controlling freedom of expression… for fear of being accused of anti-Muslim bias.

European countries, including the United Kingdom , are increasingly adopting opposing strategies. On the one hand, they are implementing the terrorists’ agenda by curtailing the freedom of expression and liberal or secular activities so as not to hurt the feelings of minorities, under the banner of political correctness in Britain and affirmative action in the U.S. For example, a number of municipalities have canceled the tradition of handing out presents during Christmas for fear of provoking the Muslim population. Schoolgirls have also enjoyed government backing after being disciplined for not wearing their school uniform.

On the other hand, these same governments have attacked civil liberties, decreased the powers of the judiciary and boosted those of the police, so that a young man was shot dead for merely being suspect. These regimes also enacted emergency laws to rival those of totalitarian regimes and squandered taxpayers’ money on institutions which only serve to widen the gap between Muslim immigrants and the rest of society instead of strengthening the ties between different communities.

Blair’s policies, for instance, have achieved the terrorists’ goals by destroying liberalism and isolating Muslims in a cultural ghetto, thereby forcing them to turn inwards, in preparation for a civil war.

In spite of the increase in terrorist attacks in countries such as Morocco , Jordan and Iraq , these socially cohesive nations are more likely to develop- in the long-term- into nationalist states enjoying a high degree of freedom than European countries. The latter lack a clear vision on how to retain their liberal traditions (such as the freedom of ownership, individual choice and expression), at a time when their policies are increasing social fragmentation between religious groups.

European countries are facing a crisis as they seek to redefine their national identities after being targeted by terrorism in the name of Islam – Spain on the hands of its Moroccan immigrants and Britain by its second generation migrants- which has destroyed their unique social and cultural fabric. In The Netherlands, an artist was murdered because his work did not please extremists, the Sikhs shut down a theatre in Britain after objecting to a play it was showing. The riots in France have also increased the fears of an impending European- Islamic war.

In short, the multiculturalism concept in Britain and the assimilation model in the French secular republic have only lead to cultural apartheid. There are no longer a multitude of cultures but two” that of the majority and the importer culture of a vocal Muslim minority capable, by blowing itself and others up, of silencing dissenting voices. The British government is currently paying the price for the hostility of this minority, as is evident in New Labour’s policies.

Ridiculously, the British Foreign Office seems to be blindly imitating US policies although the success of US foreign policy leaves much to be desired!

For example, it has started observing Ramadan but has yet to celebrate with Sikh, Jewish or Hindu festivities. While female cancer patients ate forbidden to receive the adequate medication for lack of funds, the Foreign Office is funding an Islamic Media Team, similar to an Egyptian wedding party band!

This official policy has created a diplomatic and media schism between the Muslim community and the rest and will therefore increase the isolation of Muslims, as part of a new cold war.

This Islamic Media Team is responsible for holding off Muslim journalists from attending meetings with senior British government officials and on the very rare occasions these meetings occur, journalists discover their material has already been published by others!

Until European countries stop their hypocrisy and define a clear-cut policy for integration, Osama bin Laden, Ayaman al Zawahiri and al Zarqawi will continue to smile confidently.