Islam bashing part of racist war for empire
Published Feb 8, 2006 11:16 PM
Feb. 8—Islam bashing has ignited a
firestorm of Muslim protest. The vicious mockery of Mohammad in a Danish
newspaper last September first lit the fuse. The conflagration now circles the
Jakarta, Indonesia, Feb. 8.
“We are now facing a growing global crisis,” Danish
Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a Feb. 7 media conference. Rather than
apologize, which Muslims around the world demand, Rasmussen urged
“dialogue.” He said President George W. Bush had called him that day
and agreed that was the way to go.
Too little, too late. Yet until
protests turned up the heat, Rasmussen had refused to talk with Muslim
Last September, after the center-right publication
Jyllands-Posen—a major Danish daily newspaper—published the
“cartoons,” Muslims protested to the editor. But they were
On Oct. 12, the ambassadors of Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Indo nesia,
Libya, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, the Palestinian
Authority—and even Bosnia and Herzegovina, an imperialist puppet after the
destruction of socialist Yugoslavia—wrote Rasmussen, characterizing the
depictions as part of a smear campaign against Muslims.
Ankara, Turkey, Feb. 6.
Rasmussen—who Bush has referred to as a “steadfast
ally”—refused to meet with ambassadors from 11 countries with large
Muslim populations on Oct. 21.
In December, a delegation from 21 Muslim
organizations in Denmark traveled to Cairo for support. They prepared a 43-page
dossier to back their assertion: “There is currently a climate [in
Denmark] that is contributing to an increase in racism.” The group met
with Muslim leaders, including Egypt’s foreign minister and the general
secretary of the Arab League.
Nablus, Occupied Palestine, Feb. 7.
The Danish government and Jyllands-Postens
still refused to back down. In January, the Danish High Court rejected the case
brought to its bench by 21 Muslim organizations.
And in a Jan. 23
telephone interview, Jyllands-Postens’s cultural editor, Fleming Rose,
made clear, “An apology would imply we regret what we’ve done, which
Oppressor vs. oppressed
the big-business media, “free speech” is the core issue. In reality,
this is a battle between oppressor and oppressed nations.
exception of Bosnia, in the Balkans, all the nations where the predominant
religion is Muslim are in Africa and Asia and are formerly colonized by
oppressor nations. These oppressed countries are all still under the economic
domination of imperialist finance capital, or, like Iran, are threatened with
war. Iraq and Afghan istan are occupied by U.S.-led forces.
with other religions are rife now after the struggle unleashed by the insults to
For example, drawing an equal sign between Islam-bashing and
anti-Judaism leaves out the role of Israel as an imperialist cat’s paw.
Former President Bill Clin ton, among many others, tried to make this equation.
Clinton told those gathered at the economic conference in Doha, Qatar, on Jan.
30, “In Europe, most of the struggles we’ve had in the past 50 years
have been to fight prejudices against Jews, to fight against anti-Semitism. Now
what are we going to do? Replace the anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic
Arab people, of course, are also Semites. But what has
fanned the flames of anger at Jews for the last half century? The settler state
of Israel—established, bank roll ed and armed to the teeth by the U.S. and
British imperialism. The oppressor Zion ist state, acting as a boot heel on
historic Palestine, flies the star of David and claims to rule on behalf of all
Michael Muhammad Pfaff, of the German Muslim League,
pointed out that anti-Islamic depictions were like anti-Jewish caricatures by
imperialist German fascists before and during World War II.
had refused to print cartoons about Jesus three years ago that the publication
found “offensive.” But today, Christianity is not an oppressed
The publication France Soir tried to parallel what it termed
Muslim “fanaticism” with centuries of iron-fisted rule by the
Catholic Church in Europe. But the Catholic Church was the political party of
feudalism, which brutally exploited the peasantry. Today it is the capitalists
there who are the oppressors. Arab, South Asian and African immigrants are among
The unprecedented scope of this international firestorm is
an expression of outrage against attacks on Islam. But what gives it such force
and scope are the explosive underlying social, economic and political conditions
of life of the hundreds of millions who practice that religion. And those
conditions are super-exploitation and national oppression by
War for imperial empire
This attack on Islam can
only be understood within the context of the current imper ialist war for
empire to secure the rich resources of the Middle East and Central Asia.
U.S. imperialism has led invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and
Iraq, and is menacing Iran and Syria. Military interrogators at Guantanamo
reportedly flushed Korans down the toilet in front of Muslim prisoners. Pentagon
captors have used sexual and gender humiliation and torture at Abu Ghraib. In
the U.S., Muslim and South Asian people have faced mass roundups and forced
Salvos of racist, anti-Islamic propaganda have been used to
“justify” this blatant drive for global conquest.
part of this war on Muslims —at home and abroad. It has some 540 troops
deployed in Iraq, mainly stationed under British rule in the southern port city
After 9/11, the Danish government declared war on the some
300,000 immigrants in the country, 70 percent of whom are Muslims. In the
Netherlands, Dutch-born Muslims make up 1 million in a total population of 16
Right-wing and center-right parties have run viciously
anti-Muslim campaigns. Among its acts of scapegoating, Denmark shut down its
national borders, slashed immigrant welfare payments by 30 percent or more and
barred marriage of Danes to “foreigners” before the age of
Other governments and parties in Western Europe have also targeted the
some 15 million Muslims on the continent, who face some of the highest rates of
unemployment and face marginalization, racism and national oppression.
France, which has the largest Muslim community—an estimated 5
million people—banned the hajib, head scarves for Islamic women.
The German state of Baden-Wurt tem berg employs a “Muslim
test” which grills citizenship applicants about their views on 9/11 and
same-sex relationships. Some 3 million Muslims live in Germany.
councils outlawed Islamic garb for women. Italy shut down mosques.
was particularly ominous that on Jan. 10, the Norwegian evangelical newspaper
Magazinet reprinted the anti-Islam depictions from Jyllands-Posen. And since
then, newspapers have followed suit in Aus tralia, Austria, Belgium, France, Ger
many, Holland, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, New Zealand, Norway, Swit
z erland and Ukraine. The British BBC and Channel 4 did likewise. And so has the
Philadelphia Inquirer, ABC and other news networks. The New York Times, the
Washington Post and USA Today have so far declined to run the images.
Washington and London have res pond ed with caution to the outpouring of
Muslim outrage. At a time when resistance in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan has
not been broken by military overkill, Wash ington and London clearly fear the
force of mass anger sweeping from Jakarta to Philadelphia. These are arsonists
being burned by the fire they set.
In recent days, a State Department
spokes person termed the depictions “offensive to the beliefs of
Muslims.” And British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Feb. 3 that the
cartoons were “insulting ... insensitive ... disrespectful ... and
On Feb. 6, White House spokesperson Scott McClellan called
on “all governments [to] take steps to lower tensions and prevent
violence.” The same day, Bush put pressure on the Saudi royal family to
try to cool Muslim anger.
But even leaders of client states behol den to
U.S. imperialism have had to pay lip service to the storm of popular anger, or
risk the wrath of their own populations.
Fury in the
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have taken their rage to the
streets in the first week of February as more capitalist newspapers reprinted
the anti-Islamic images.
Even the occupation couldn’t stop Iraqis
from protesting. And insurgent groups re new ed their vow to target Danish
troops, all occupying armies and their collaborators.
protests took place in Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and the capital of
Kabul—where youths stoned the Danish, British and French embassies and
United Nations headquarters. On Feb. 6, as many as five demonstrators were
killed as thousands tried to march on the main Pentagon base in Bagram, north of
the capital. Puppet Afghan police forces killed another demonstrator and injured
more as protesters marched on the local police station in the city of Mihtariam,
in the eastern province of Laghman.
At least three Afghans were killed
and some 20 wounded on Feb. 7 when demonstrators laid siege to a base used by
the NATO-led “International Security Assis tance Force” (ISAF) in
Maimana in the north. Protesters reportedly used petrol bombs, set fire to a
guard box, and breached the wall protecting the installation. NATO sent
Some 20,000 Palestinians marched in Nablus, including
Muslim, Christian and Samaritan religious leaders. Thousands demonstrated in
Ramallah. Militant Palestinian demonstrations took place between Feb. 4 and 6.
In Jerusalem, thousands chanted inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, “Con
dem na tions are not enough, you have to reply with fire.” The French
cultural center in Gaza was firebombed; the German consu late office there was
attacked. Armed Pale stinians reportedly took over the Euro pean Union office in
Gaza. The EU is threatening to withhold millions of dollars to the Palestinians
if Hamas forms the next government there.
Furious demonstrators hurled
gasoline bombs and stones at the Danish and Aus trian embassies in Tehran on
Feb. 6 and broke the windows of the embassy of Austria, which currently holds
the EU presidency. Iran recalled its ambassador to Denmark. Iran is currently
defending its right to develop nuclear power, despite U.S.-imperialist
orchestrated attacks on that sovereign right.
In Damascus, Syria,
demonstrators torched the Danish, Norwegian and Swe dish embassies on Feb. 4.
The same day, protesters burned down the Danish embassy in Beirut. Syria
withdrew its chief diplomat from Denmark.
Libya closed its Danish
embassy. Saudi Arabia pulled its ambassador out of Copenhagen.
Feb. 6 and 7, protesters took to the streets in Indonesia, Algeria, Kashmir,
Yemen, India, Somalia, Thailand and New Zealand. Thousands of students marched
through the streets of Cairo. Rebellions continued in Pakistan on Feb. 7. Thou
sands marched in the Turkish cities of Diyarbakir, Konya and Istanbul. In
Jakarta, hundreds forced their way into the high-rise that houses the Danish
embassy. In Delhi, several thousand students battled with police who used water
cannons to stop the march to the Danish Embassy.
In Somalia, a 14-year-old
was shot to death during a demonstration. Protests also took place in Kano,
northern Nigeria and in Bamako—Mali’s capital. The High Court in
Johannesburg barred two of the largest newspaper groups from publishing the
Hundreds protested in the heart of Lon don, outside the
Danish embassy, and a smal ler demonstration targeted the Philadelphia
Aided by the grassroots power of the
Internet, a widening boycott of Danish, Scandinavian and other European products
has sent sales into a nosedive, sounding the tocsin in boardrooms.
Muslims in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab
Emirates and Yemen had joined the boycott of Danish goods as of Jan. 29. In
Bahrain, Danish dairy goods were set on fire Feb. 3.
On Feb. 4,
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on the commerce ministry to
review all economic contracts with European countries, beginning with Denmark.
The re-publishing of the images by two newspapers may cost New Zealand its
$NZ100 million sheep trade with Iran.
Hundreds of Kuwaitis massed outside
the Danish consulate in the capital on Feb. 4 demanding a boycott of Danish
goods. Demonstrators in Abu Dhabi called for a boycott of all trade with the EU.
Even Iraq’s puppet transport ministry officials were forced to cancel all
contractual agreements signed with the Danish government, particularly in
The Libyan Foreign Ministry announ ced Feb. 5 that it
will take economic measures against Denmark. The Qatar Cham ber of Commerce cut
all trade missions from Denmark and Norway.
Danish exports to the Middle
East and Northern Africa are big business for a small country. According to
Demark’s Statistik data bank, exports topped $1.25 billion in the first 11
months last year.
The Danish dairy company Aria—the largest in
Europe and the second-biggest international corporation in the Middle
East—has already been forced to close its dairy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,
after reporting losses of more than $1.5 million a day in sales. The Saudi
market makes up two-thirds of Aria’s sales in the Middle East, totaling
$396 million yearly.
Other companies are also reeling, including those
perceived to be Danish. The Saudi Dairy and Foodstuff Company and the Swiss food
giant Nestlé have had to publicly disclaim rumors that their products are
manufactured in Denmark.
On Feb. 4, as a result of this powerful and
growing economic pressure and wid ening protests, Rasmussen met in Copen hagen
with 76 diplomats representing large Muslim populations—which he had
arrogantly refused to do in the autumn. But he would not apologize.
days later, Rasmussen begged Arab countries not to boycott Danish
That same day, Jyllands-Postens Editor-in-Chief Carsten Juste
issued a statement that fell far short of an apology, but made mention of the
protests—and the economic impact of the boycotts—as part of the
“costs” of his newspaper’s actions.
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