Ugly fight against a death-cult ideology
by Salim Mansur
At the year end, and this year also brings to an end a conflict-ridden decade, we are ritually inundated with reviews of past months and predictions for the future in magazines and journals from around the world.
On my desk, for instance, I have the Economist cautioning us about the "dangers of a rising China," and the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs assembling wise individuals to map for us what we might find in the "World Ahead."
From my perspective — one shaped by travels, readings and talking with people in foreign lands — there is a seismic shift unfolding in global politics and culture.
The man who sensed this shift perhaps most acutely, and described presciently its effect as the "clash of civilizations" was Samuel Huntington.
The severest of this clash is one between political Islam and the West.
I say political Islam to distinguish this ideology of murder and mayhem from Islam — the faith-tradition of hundreds of millions of simple, honest, God-fearing Muslims devoted to their family as were my parents, and also victims of Islamists who turned a simple faith into death-cult ideology.
This struggle between political Islam and the West will stay with us well into the next decade and, perhaps, beyond. It will end only when Islamists are effectively defeated and political Islam expunged similar to the defeat of German Nazis and Japanese militarists.
The struggle of this nature is invariably ugly. It is also bewildering to people caught in the midst of the struggle.
The ground zero of this struggle ironically is situated in the heart of Jerusalem. I was there a few months ago and, in visiting this noblest of cities, it became strikingly clear for me why the simplest solution to the strife that desecrates Jerusalem remains the most difficult to consummate.
The distance between the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall — two sacred places of worship where I joined Muslims and Jews respectively engaged in their prayers — takes a few minutes to walk.
The physical distance between the Dome and the Wall is, however, trivial when compared to the immense psychological distance separating Jews and Muslims.
If there is to be peace between these two peoples who revere Abraham and embrace his monotheism, then this psychological distance between the Dome and the Wall has to dissolve for Jews and Muslims acknowledging together what is common to both is greater than what divides them.
The greater burden of equal acceptance of the other rests with Arabs and Muslims given their history of empire and politics.
They allowed this history to obscure the truth that Muhammad's monotheism is anchored in Judaism.
This history also gets in the way of what the noblest of men once preached in this city of King David.
Jesus taught "cast out the beam out of thine own eye" prior to removing any speck from the neighbour's eye.
This requisite to examine oneself, or change one's heart as the Qur'an admonishes, for peace is more difficult than ascending Mount Everest or landing man on the moon.
And so in my final column of this decade I predict the "clash" Huntington foresaw will get more severe before it eventually comes to an end.