Monday, February 22, 2010

Bigmouths of the West and Clash of Civilizations

By Omar Javaid Inspired from the writings of Mr. Shahnawaz Farooqi. 

Tony Blair in his speech to the Foreign Policy Center[1] highlighted that it’s the values of Islam and the west which are on a course of clash.
“Others found themselves caught between colonization, nascent nationalism, political oppression and religious radicalism. Muslims began to see the sorry state of Muslim countries as symptomatic of the sorry state of Islam …”
“This is, ultimately, a battle about modernity. Some of it can only be conducted and won within Islam itself … It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace and see opportunity in the modern world and those who reject its existence; between optimism and hope on the one hand and pessimism and fear on the other. That is what this battle is about; it is a battle of values and progress; and therefore it is one we must win.”[2]

This would perhaps be an elaboration of his earlier statement “This is not a clash between civilizations. It is a clash about civilization …”[3] I am sure that many would agree with Tony here, as Islamic as of today doesn’t really look much like a unique civilization; however one must not forget the past and the potential hidden underneath the skin. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi seems to be at variance with Tony Blair on an occasion when his tongue slipped uttering the following historical statement:
“We must be aware of the superiority of our civilization, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and - in contrast with Islamic countries - respect for religious and political rights.” [4]
“The West will continue to conquer peoples, even if it means a confrontation with another civilization, Islam, firmly entrenched where it was 1,400 years ago.”[5]

If readers disagree then they would also have to disagree with Giovanni Berlinguer when said:
"Silvio Berlusconi has gone abroad and launched into eccentric and dangerous calls for conflict between civilizations... using terms that no statesman worthy of the name has used in these recent terrible weeks for humanity."[6]

And with the Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who would agree with Berlinguer:
"These remarks could, in a dangerous way, have consequences,", whose nation holds the EU presidency, was quoted as saying. I can hardly believe that the Italian prime minister made such statements ... rather than bringing civilizations together, they could feed a feeling of humiliation."

Later Silvio Berlusconi argued that there were attempts to misinterpret his statement against Islam, note the word Islamic Civilization in the following statement as well:
“They have tried to hang me on an isolated word, taken out of context from my whole speech ... I did not say anything against the Islamic civilization... It's the work of some people in the Italian leftist press who wanted to tarnish my image and destroy my long-standing relations with Arabs and Muslims.”

George W. Bush also is reported to have said in his reaction to the event of 9/11, “… this nation is [now] at war with Islamic fascists …”[7] and said (in another of his speech) “This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.”[8]
When the direct attacks from various notable figures weren’t sufficient to wake most of the secularized Muslim population from the mesmerism of the west, Attorney General Ashcroft pounded another blow when he said “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you.”[9]
General Wesley Clark took in it even further on 13 May 2002 while speaking at Seton Hall University, he said:
“They killed in the name of God. But they are not the first. This began in pre-history; the tragedy is that it persists today. Some would characterize the events of 9-11 as a clash of civilizations, and a conflict of religions. And to many it seems a simple and satisfying explanation. But others would suggest, correctly in my view, that such an interpretation is both wrong-headed and dangerous. They recognize a civil war within Islam itself, as contending factions compete for power. They would argue that we must influence the struggle where we can, by supporting greater attention to the secular structures in the Islamic world, and by encouraging our own American Islamic community to speak out in support of America’s democratic values.”[10]

Although Wesley Clark denied that there would be any clash of civilization kind of a thing, however after reading in between the lines he is highlighting nothing but the same clash in its purest of sense.

[2] Tony Blair's speech to the Foreign Policy centre, 21st March 2006: Source:
[3] Ibid.
[4] EU deplores 'dangerous' Islam jibe, reported on BBC world on 27th September 2001. Source:
[5] “In quotes: Berlusconi in his own words” published on BBC World on May 2nd 2006
[6] EU deplores 'dangerous' Islam jibe, reported on BBC world on 27th September 2001. Source:
[7] “The day the enemy became 'Islamic fascists'” by By Kari Huus and Tom Curry. Published on MSNBC on Aug. 11, 2006. Source:
[8] Remarks by the President Upon Arrival in the south lawn on September 16th 2001. Source:
[9] John Ashcroft, as reported by Cal Thomas, 2001, News Channel  
[10] Commencement speech by Wesley Clark at Seton Hall University (13 May 2002): Source:

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