When President John Kennedy was assassinated 52 years ago this week, the Black leader Malcolm X said “Chickens have come home to roost”. He was condemned for his callousness but no one debated the meaning of his statement that since White Americans had built their society on violence, such events were to be expected. When Azam Khan says that the attacks on Paris were a reaction to Western attacks on the Middle East, we should condemn him but also debate what he said. After all,there have been terrorist attacks on the West since mid-1990s, if not since the Munich Olympics of 1972. What is different now?
The Middle East was once a single Empire with a Sultan/ Caliph at its head. The Ottoman Empire was the last one in a continuous series of Caliphates since the death of the Prophet. Defeat in the First World War led to the dissolution of the Empire and then Kemal Pasha abolished the Caliphate in 1924 . Ever since, Sunni Muslims have not had a legitimate head of their faith. The post-1945 history of the region has been full of violence; three wars, 1948, 1967, 1973, where Arab armies fought Israel and lost. There was the Iraq-Iran war through the 1980s, and Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait which led to Operation Desert Storm.
Then the US and UK invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent disastrous reconstruction of post-Saddam Iraq. Then the Arab Spring, followed by the intervention in the Libya civil war. For the last five years we have had the rebellion against Bashar Assad by his own people in Syria, the eruption of the Kurds who want Kurdistan and now the establishment of a new Caliphate by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Al-Qaeda and Taliban have been overtaken by more ruthless terrorists.
The tragedy is not the war of Islamists against the West. The war in the Middle East that Assad and Baghdadi are waging is of Muslims against fellow Muslims. Azam Khan should know that there is no schadenfreude to be got out of the 129 people killed in Paris by IS militants. Thousands more Muslims — Shia and Sunni — are being massacred by the murderous regimes in the region. The Middle East is almost 100 per cent Muslim but the majority of the world’s Muslims live outside.
Why have the majority living in India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia , Pakistan, Nigeria not protested against this massacre? Why has there not been an agonised debate among Muslims in these countries about how Muslims around the world can tackle this biggest tragedy which has struck the birthplace of Islam? Why have the men or women political leaders in these countries stayed silent? Who will launch ‘Save the Muslim Civilisation’ campaign from among all these nations? Will Azam Khan or any of the secularists do it?
Paris is not just a declaration of war by the IS against the West. That war has been going on since the mid-1999 attack on the US Embassy in Kenya. It heralds a severe crisis that has seized all Arabia. As of now Russia, the US, France and the UK are ‘solving’ it to protect their own backyards. When will the Muslim world wake up? The cause of saving Muslims from killing by their fellow religionists is urgent. Wake Up.