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Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 09:52 GMT
Is the war on terror a war on Islam?
Most of the 500 Muslims polled by telephone the BBC Radio 4's Today programme believe that the war on terror is really a war on Islam.
More than those half questioned believed Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network should not have been blamed for the 11 September attacks.
While 11% believe further attacks on America by al-Qaeda terrorist network would be justified and 8% said such an attack on Britain would be justified.
Of those surveyed by ICM, 37% said they had suffered more hostility and abuse since 11 September. And many fear war with Iraq will bring more of the same.
But more than two thirds of those interviewed said they felt patriotic about Britain.
Do you think the war against terror is really a war against Islam? Are Muslims being targeted by the war on terror?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
We seem to forget, Regan declared a near identical "war on terror" as cover for his right wing domestic agenda, which caused untold devastation on Central America and the Middle East, resulting in the only nation to be found guilty of international terrorism - the USA, for its invasion of Nicaragua, when it was ordered to pay $17Billion reparations. It refused, declaring itself above international law.
Of course it is a war on Islam in a sense, in that the terrorists are motivated by religion. For politicians to say these are not 'Muslim terrorists' is a well-meaning lie, but a lie none the less. I do feel sorry for Muslims in the UK; they will bear the brunt of terror attacks on this country. As a Catholic I can see parallels with 17th century England, when the Vatican's opposition to this country made all Catholics seem like potential traitors. But polls such as this, which suggest British Muslim sympathy for a group that hates Christians and our way of life, will only increase that suspicion.
Yes, I just think a war against Saddam is a war against Muslims.
Ismail, Preston, UK
It is a war on Islam! Bush and Blair are only looking for an excuse to destroy the religion of peace and to secure oil. We have been told that this time would come by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), we Muslims must be patient in these hard times, we must advise those who are ignorant in our religion. There will come a time when us Muslims will succeed, do not rush to your swords.
Unfortunately the American government doesn't know how to express themselves properly. They make their own people believe that it's a war against Islam and they do nothing to correct it. Probably because it creates the necessary hate to start a war. Unfortunately in this age every US President needs a war to boost his reputation, so Washington is working hard at it.
This is a blatant war on anybody who does not agree with America's plans. Muslims happen to be the main target as since the fall of Communism, the spiritual and moral philosophy of Islam and the peace that emanates from it, through human unity and realisation of the true essence of reality, is the biggest threat to globalisation due to the challenge to worship of the 'self' upon which the present world economy thrives, benefiting few at the expense of many. The words 'crusade' came straight from the horse's mouth so to speak, the horse being Bush who is the world's biggest terrorist, following in the footsteps of his predecessors.
There is no a war against Islam. President Bush has armed Muslims guarding him. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar could easily expel the American military from their sovereign territories but they choose to continue playing host because the Americans are the least of many evils. Regrettably, innocent people were killed in Afghanistan, including lest we forget Muslims who were killed by Muslims.
The war is about US interests at home and abroad. As part of this the US seems to want a compliant Middle East in order to secure cheap oil into the future. It sees the best way to achieve this being the support for the established ruling families in oil rich nations and a strong Israel to hold "radical" forces in check. Whatever the moral and economic arguments behind this, the losers are the millions of ordinary Arabs (of whatever religious group) who are subjected to injustice and poverty as a result of this policy.
Muslims and Islam need to take a reality check and start distancing themselves from the Islamic terrorists who've hijacked their peaceful religion and culture and misused it for evil selfish motives. If Muslims choose to disbelieve this, then that's their choice.
Since American and British governments have already moved their forces very close to Iraq before the inspectors arrived in Iraq, there will be a war whatever the result of the verification being done by the Inspectors. So the war cannot be avoided at this stage. Only the poor population of Iraq will be once again the main victims of war.
The war on terror is really just another tool of control.
It's used as propaganda was during the second world war. Fear is power, it enables home security bills to be passed relatively unopposed. It just so happens that the "enemy" at this point in time is Al-Qaeda, and it will probably be for ever more, as they are a relatively faceless organisation operating from within many countries, therefore spreading the web of fear and the amount of control the governments of those countries have over their population.
Has the Islamic world forgotten about the former Yugoslavia? There the US spent hundreds of millions of dollars and risked the lives of its servicemen specifically to protect Muslims, without any strategic or economic reward.
Of course this is a war on Islam, America needed an enemy after the fall of communism and Islam fitted in very nicely
We need to look at the interference by America in Muslim countries, the corrupt and tyrannical governments supported by America in Muslim countries and the lack of Human rights in Muslim countries to understand why these countries breed "terrorists".
Part of the problem is that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. I think we have to focus on the fact that it's a war on those people who would commit atrocities against democratic countries, regardless of religion.
Until this survey, I thought terrorist support was limited to a small number of extremists. If the survey is to be believed, there are tens of thousands of Muslims living in this country who believe a terrorist attack on this country is justified. I am saddened by this information and only hope that the figures in the survey are inaccurate.
I do not think that the British people want to see a war on Islam. We just hate terrorists, whether they are Muslim, Israeli, American or whoever.
If America avenges the terrible attack on their own people by killing far more people from Muslim countries, which it has done in Afghanistan and shortly will in Iraq, then it will be seen as a war on Muslims, and that Muslim life is worth less than American life. It will also increase not reduce terrorism.
This war is definitely against Islam. Look throughout history, the USA has always had an evil enemy, from the British centuries ago, Communists in the 20th Century, and more recently, the country now fears Islamic Fundamentalism. This has nothing to do with Terror! It is against Islam.
This is not a war on Islam but it is also not about terror. This is the west's war in pursuing its interests namely protecting the oil supply and support to Israel. The West will put a facade about terror and weapons of mass destruction. They however continue to support the biggest terror regimes in Israel which occupies Muslim land and sponsors state terror on a daily basis.
Having visited many Muslim countries over the years I can tell you that tolerance for religions other than Islam is not forthcoming. I think this is the start of the clash of civilisations that we are seeing. We can either embrace the future, or look forward to peace or we can embrace religion with all its hang-ups, racist overtones and superstitious nonsense.
I think it's pretty obvious that the US is gunning for the entire Muslim faith. You only have to look to the disgusting scenes in L.A. last week to see how little the US authorities value the rights of Muslims. Let's not forget that America has needed a new 'enemy' ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, without it the people might realise just how corrupt their own administration is. Welcome to the new Crusade...
I do not believe that the war against terror is specifically against Islam, but I do believe that its scale is due to ideological differences, i.e. the US's versus everyone else's. What atrocities will be perpetrated to counteract terrorist atrocities, I dread to think, but I do think that it's about time that Britain had some input and Blair acted as the rational voice that the hawks in the US seem to be failing to provide.
Instead of feeling victimised, perhaps Muslims around Britain and the rest of the world should take an introspective view. Think of the global interpretation of all the Islamic 'bullying' going on at the moment around the world. How can the Islamic community expect sympathy when it's clear many of them support violence against Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and anyone who disagrees with them basically?
This is not a war on Islam but it is also not about terror. This is the West's war in pursuing its interests namely protecting the oil supply and support to Israel. The West will put a facade about terror and weapons of mass destruction. They however continue to support the biggest terror regimes in Israel which occupies Muslim land and sponsors state terror on a daily basis.
No I don't think its a war against Islam, and I am no pacifist, but I do think it would be wrong to invade Iraq without UN agreement. I think Tony Blair is wrong to support the US at all costs, and UN resolutions are the only way to pursue this problem.
Any individual or group of people that seeks to harm others for no good reason must be challenged as often as possible and by as many 'good' people as possible. This argument is universal and is independent of national, religious or ethnic tribalism.
Pete Norris, UK
Yes, it is no doubt war against Islam, and just a small look at N. Korea, Iraq and Israel is sufficient to know that!
It's not a war on Islam - rather, it's a war on those whose real creed is mindless violence, but who hide behind a religious veneer, which in this case is Islam. Al-Qaeda thugs pay about as much attention to the demands of the Koran than the Real IRA do to the Bible.
How can half of those polled say that Osama Bin Laden should not be blamed for September 11 when he has admitted it?
It's *not* a war against Islam. The problem is that bin Laden et al. are hijacking Islam a profoundly peaceful religion to justify their actions.
America is doing now to Muslims what it did decades ago to Communism - judging the world by their own standards and deciding that it is wrong. It is time the US realised that it is not their place to decide what is acceptable in the world.
James McEnaney from Scotland is wrong about Communism, wrong about what America is doing to Muslims, and wrong about America. The happiest people in the world about the defeat of communism are the tens of millions of freed slaves who lived under it and the unhappiest are the western intellectuals who championed it while living freely and lavishly under capitalism. If the war on terrorism is America's war on Muslims, none of them would be left living in the United States and many more of them would be dead. Is the war on terrorism a war against Muslims? Not yet but it could become that if enough Muslims want it that way.
No the war against Iraq is not a war against Islam but it is a war to promote Zionist expansion unfortunately. Just ask those living under oppression on the West Bank a number of whom are in fact Christians
Steve, why don't you take it a step further and understand why this 90% feel the need to commit acts of terrorism. The so called 'civilised' west has been manipulating world economics and the politics of these countries for decades.
In reply to Steve, UK. I am afraid no matter how hard one tries not to think of it in those terms, the current buikd-up and policies of the US indicates that the "war on terror" is a war against Islam and is a war to secure cheap oil. As for the biggest threat to the "Western" world - it is the West that help put so many of the despotic leaders in place in the mid-east (creating a climate of fear and oppression - ideal for sowing seeds for terrorist groups) and it is the West who by far own and have used their weapons of mass destruction.
To respond to the post by "Steve, UK" - the biggest threat to the western world isn't Islamic terrorists. The biggest threat - not only to the western world, but to the whole world - is George W Bush and the cartel of massive US companies that got their puppet into power.
I couldn't disagree more with Steve. The majority of terrorism is internal, either caused by "freedom fighters" (see IRA), or loners (see Soho nail bombing or Oklahoma). It's easy to ignore the real threat, internal dissenters, while going after "foreign" targets because it's easier to kill people in other countries, where everyone looks the same and they're poor so they don't really matter, rather than to face up to a real internal problem.
Let us not forget that terrorism is not just a Muslim problem. The IRA are terrorists too, we live in a sad world where evil men use religion to justify there horrific deeds. Islam, Christianity and all religions that I am familiar with condemn such actions (Islam more than most)
It's not a war on Islam; it's a war on anyone who doesn't agree with Bush and his right-wing Christian philosophies. Bush and Blair between them seem determined to crack down on civil liberties and expression of dissent in order to look like they're doing something.
07 Dec 02 | Middle East
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