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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Is the world geared up for global Islamism?

A book 'Rethinking Islamism' written by Lord Meghnad Desai was published last week. This book looks at and analysis the ideology behind global terrorism. The book makes a distinction between Islam the religion and Islamism - the political ideology. The book claims that global Islamism poses the most serious military challenge to the world and according to Desai, will continue to do so for the next 20 years or so.

The well known economist and Labour peer, Meghnad Desai told CNBC-TV18, "Islamism to me is an ideology and one which has to do something with either human behaviour or political power. The ideology, I'm interested in is global Islamism which is an ideology that claims that Muslims have been badly done by to in history, and that the time has come for Muslims to get power back into their hands."

In his book, he describes three forms of Islamism - moral Islamism, national Islamism and the third is global Islamism. He explains the difference between the three and says, "Moral Islamism says that a Muslim majority country ought to behave according to the tenets of Islam. National Islamism says that, if there is a Muslim majority, the government should follow the Quran as its guide and Sharia law and so on. While global Islamism is a very different idea. It says that the a decline of Muslims in the 20th and 21st century was due to the Crusader western powers, and the Muslims will have to understand it and fight to reclaim power."

Also global Islamism has distorted Islam's values and exploited the religion and Desai agrees with this because he says, "it'a story of Muslims worldwide. About how they have been done down by western imperialism rather than any other community. Now I should say this about Sunni Muslims, not any others. They believe that they are badly done by, so it's not their fault by someone else's." The Muslim community believes that their problems and grievances began with the collapse of the Ottoman empire. They blame British and later American treachery.

So, how justified are their grievances? Desai feels that it's a simplification of a very complex problem. He explains, "The simplification arises in saying we are all one and there are no differences among us. There is a single villian and all our constraints are due to that villian. So, to get us out of this miserable state, get rid of the villian and then all will be right."

When the Ottoman empire disintegrated, the Middle East was partitioned by a League of Nations mandate between Britian and France. Then Britain promised the Jews that they would have a homeland in Palestine after World War II and thereafter Jerusalem goes into non-Muslim hands and all the problems that this gives rise to. In addition, they also feel that all the problems in places like Chechnya, Kosovo Kashmir etc are due to the West.

So, what global Islamism does is - first simplifies and then exaggerates. This simplification ofcourse, ignores the injustices that Muslims have heaped on one another, like the Iran-Iraq war and first Gulf war. But since the enemy has been pointed out to the Muslims, they feel they should avenge themselves on the Wset anyway they can - and guerilla warfare is their chosen method.

According to the book, another setback that disheartened Muslims, was the disintegration of the Soviet Union. They had looked forward to socialism providing them a way out of their problems - economic and political - but when the Soviet Union collapsed, they didn't know what would fill the vacuum. It was not going to be western capitalism, so they turned inward and looked at their religion for help. And that's where global Islamism and fundametalism stepped in to fill the gap.

Another global phenomena that made Muslims feel like there was a western conspiracy to undermine them and an extention of American power was the "spread of globalisation". Desai agrees and says, "Not only Muslims but a lot of people see globalisation as American hegemony, spreading much wider after the collpse of the Soviet Union. They do not see themselves as competing with the US, like India and China is able to compete with the US. They see globalisation and liberal capitalism purely as American manipulation visited upon them."

Desai also feels that India should recognise the fact that global terrorism will be as much of a headache for India as the West because Osama bin Laden sees India as part of the crusader West. He adds, "He sees Kashmir as a basic battle that Muslims are fighting against the West." So, the big question to ask from India's point of view is that, is India prepared to take on global Islamism? Desai feels that India might still be deluding itself that it can claim immunity from Muslim wrath because of her history of supporting Muslim dictatorships, being part of the non-alignment movement and also because of her sizeable Muslim population.


Order the book here: http://www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk/books/DisplayBookInfo.php?ISBN=1845112679

Written for www.moneycontrol.com

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