Why like bin Laden?
On Friday, after prayers, some Sri Lankan Muslims staged a demonstration against the US bombing of Afghanistan and expressed their support for Saudi Arabian bin Laden, whom the Americans have accused of carrying out attacks on some of their embassies and the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre as well as the US defence headquarters, the Pentagon.
The demonstrators cried out: Stop attacks on Afghanistan and the killing of innocent civilians -We support bin Laden. One placard as our frontpage picture on Saturday showed said: East or West bin Laden is best.
While demonstrations against the bombing of Afghanistan and killing of civilians are justified, the support for and adoration of bin Laden is inexplicable, to say the least. In the first place, what is the reason to support bin Laden? He has denied all allegations made against him on the bombing of American embassies previously as well as the September 11 attacks on America. Thus, were the demonstrators - not only in Sri Lanka but throughout the Islamic World -acknowledging that bin Laden was the person behind one of the most horrendous massacres recorded in history and that they were endorsing it? On the other hand, if bin Laden is the person responsible for these horrible crimes, isnt President Bush justified in trying get him, dead or alive? It is pertinent to note that no world leader has openly supported the bombings and on the other hand these leaders, save for a few, have openly condemned the attacks on America.
Those who came out in support of bin Laden will no doubt say that bin Laden was perfectly justified in carrying out these attacks in the context of the US support for the Israelis over the Palestinians, the sanctions on Iraq that have led to immense suffering and the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, where Islams holiest shrines are located etc. While the accusations made by followers of Islam against the US and some western nations may be justified, can unleashing of terrorism on a scale as that which happened on September 11 be permitted if humanity is to survive? In previous editorials we have pointed out that there are many terrorist organisations that sincerely believe that their cause is just and armed violence is the only option open to them. If so, what would happen when all or most of the terrorist groups opt for violence of the September 11 kind to gain their objectives? Clearly, humanity will not be able to survive.
The United States and western nations brought this terrorist plague on themselves in the eighties when they looked at terrorist groups far removed from their countries with a benign eye. They described terrorism in countries like Sri Lanka as low intensity conflicts and were not worried about them. But the tentacles of global terrorism have spread and in this hi-tech age assumed intolerable forms - intolerable particularly because of the massive damage it can cause, as we witnessed recently. The world now faces terrorism in the form of biological terrorism, poison gas terrorism and soon it could be nuclear terrorism. In these circumstances, one cannot wait for just causes to be realised. Whatever the form of terrorism, wherever it raises its head, it has to be chopped off immediately. We Sri Lankans can tell the world all about it.
This is not to say that rights and injustices should not be addressed. They have to be settled through civilised means. Terrorism is not the way.
The Islamic nations have a powerful weapon - the Oil weapon - which they deployed quite successfully in the 1970s. These countries sitting on the worlds largest oil reserves can control the outflow of oil in a way to paralyse the western economies, all of which are dependent on oil. It will be much more effective than carnage in New York and Washington. The European nations and the US cannot bomb the oil producing countries because of oil hikes or cuts in oil production. But this would also mean the oil revenues drying up. It will be hard for the petro-dollar loving Arabs to risk playing with oil. It will be recalled that the income earned from OPEC oil hikes ended in investment banks of the West, while the Third World nations that supported the OPEC hikes literally starved to death.
An equally important consideration is the contributions made by the Taleban regime in sponsoring terrorism. They demonstrated their barbarism when they destroyed the priceless Bamiyan Buddha statues and other priceless Buddhist artefacts in the museums. No doubt many will be saying that it is poetic justice delivered to this regime of ruffians even though it is the poor Afghan refugees who are facing starvation and even death with winter approaching them fast. The Taleban makes no bones about the fact that they will support terrorists who will support their cause.
The vociferous protests made against the US attacks on Afghanistan however stands out in contrast with the reaction of most Islamists around the world to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. For example, in Sri Lanka there were no protests made against the Soviet invasion, except for a yearly feeble protest made by the Muslim Library in Slave Island. During the ten-year Soviet occupation of Afghanistan not much concern was expressed in Sri Lanka about the suffering Afghans, who fled the country by millions. Was it that that the Soviets were liked more than the Yankees or that Afghans did not matter in the 1970s and 80s or that they now like bin Laden, best for reasons not yet specified?
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