Political blogger Imran Shah says that effective Muslim activism is a clear threat to the current unjust world order.
There are two things that power structures tend to do: 1) avoid accountability, and 2) try to keep the power they have. This is particularly so if they have something to hide and are up to no good.
It’s no secret now that Western government officials from various nations are involved in arms trade contracts and industries that profit from war, the pillaging of people’s land, and the destruction of the local ecology.
Whether its Lockhead Martin openly saying that volatility in certain areas of the world is good for profit, or David Cameron being held to ransom by a UAE boycott of the UK arms trade if they didn’t take action against the Muslim Brotherhood, what was once direct imperialism and open abuse of Empire is now proxy colonialism and power games.
But the rules are the same: if you’re able to sustain control of the land, then you’re able to profit from it.
The West’s support of tyrants
America’s long history of supporting autocracy and coups has been well documented recently via online media. Here is one good example.
As for Britain, they supported Apartheid South Africa, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Argentina’s General Galtieri and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.
This tradition of supporting tyrants who were willing to align to their world order continued under Tony Blair, most notably with Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi. The added benefit of supporting centralised brutal autocratic regimes is that Western elites are able to secure easy access to that country’s wealth by selling arms to its government.
This in turn strengthens the tyrant’s hold on power, thus securing the Western hold on the nation’s wealth, a tradition upheld today. France also has enacted and still does enact a similar policy with its former colonies on the African continent.
Charmian Gooch, co-founder of Global Witness, testified that the same kind of power dynamic is driven by our international banking system; by the business infrastructure that enables the setting up of shell companies that can help mask global corruption; and by the secrecy our politics allows for oil, gas and other big corporations.
All of these scenarios have a common theme: the push for political change in these areas has no direct threat to Western nations themselves, but rather impacts on their money empire and influence on the world. The second theme is that Empire is predicated upon the creation and perpetuation of misery in this world.
The Black Panthers
People and movements have been raising these issues for decades now. The problem is, who can really challenge that power? Exposing hypocrisy and using colourful words only do so much, and many a power structure is simply able to ignore such things.
Occasionally, however, there is a political stirring, usually in the form of a bottom-up movement that seeks to challenge that international hold on power. If the stirring cannot be contained, the state will naturally spring into more pro-active and direct methods to sabotage it.
Perhaps the most notorious example of this is the American security services method of dealing with the Black Panthers. The Panthers were part of the Black Civil Rights Movement and were active and growing during the time of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
They firmly promoted the fostering of black unity via local welfare drives, and were effectively turning the ghetto from a dog-eat-dog society to one of brotherhood and community. They also armed themselves in protection against what they saw as white police brutality against African-Americans, very similar to what we are witnessing today.
In addition, they actively called for the US to, “Get out of the ghetto, get out Africa, get out of Asia, get out South America,” and were staunchly pro-Palestine and anti-Zionist, seeing Israel as nothing but a US colonial puppet.
This turned out to be too much for the American regime: they actively pursued the leaders of The Black Panthers, either imprisoning or assassinating them. Some died when in custody.
What was the unique thing about The Panthers that made the state take such action upon their own people, whilst various key leaders and organisations within the Civil Rights Movement were relatively untouched?
It seems to come down to two main factors. Firstly, the output of messages that creates a culture where a minority not only sympathises with, but intrinsically identifies with a people and their struggle that would go against the “interests” of the nation they live in. In doing so, not only would they uphold the moral high ground, but also the use of liberty and relative openness to power, that are usually actively suppressed elsewhere, to create that change.
Secondly, the gaining of mass mainstream appeal, as a body, organisation or simply as a concept is unacceptable. When we look at the current Black Civil Rights Movement in the US, there are many African American activists who demand the West get out of Africa. However, the majority are merely fixated upon demanding their own equality in the US, unaware that such an occurrence is only possible with the dismantling of the White Supremacist system that currently rules globally, although a resurgence of this understanding can be seen in the current #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Muslims, particularly activists, already have both of these factors, and they are increasingly becoming aware that their equality is intrinsically linked to the equality of the world. The concept of Ummah is dangerous to nation states who seek to sustain imperialistic advancement. In fact, the concept of Tawheed (Oneness of Allah) immediately implies that everyone is equal under Allah (SWT), and are afforded certain basic rights and as a core matter of faith. Muslims must strive for this ideal.
Even more so, if the people who hold these views are becoming increasingly politically active in their own democratic countries, where they are able to use their liberty to create the change that Muslims in other lands are not permitted, that sets up a basis for real political change.
It is little wonder then, that counter-extremism and counter-terrorism strategies across the West all take similar measures, underpinned by the same neo-conservative narrative: Muslims are the problem.
The fierce promotion (propaganda) that Muslims are suspect, especially those who are politically active, is already becoming a widespread institutional norm.
It will be little wonder that this agenda will succeed, unless Muslims get political from both inside and outside the system, and create the capacity to do so. While we demand our status as equal citizens of the West, we must also demand the equality of others whom our countries’ foreign polices oppress. Our freedom and equality will never be fulfilled until the industries and politics of injustice are dismantled.
Islam, if followed properly, transforms a human being into a person that is driven to rid the world of injustice and its sources. Aside from racists and xenophobes, the elites who profit from the misery of this world do not hate Islam because they are of a different ideology. They hate it because the natural end will result in them losing the power and freedom to profit from the misery they inflict on the world.
Imran Shah is writing here in a personal capacity. You can follow him on Twitter @ImranShah884