Without any knowledge of our middle eastern history, the norms of our social structure and the conflicts that we have carried in our hearts for hundreds of year…it seems impossible for those of western culture to understand us.
From the earliest days in our history, we have known war. Our story is one of conflict and being conquered, then ruled by a foreigner. Even when we have lived in peace for centuries with our cousins, the Jews, in the land of Israel or enjoyed a peaceful, integrated, cooperative, rich and respectful life living amount others Jews and Spaniards in Western Europe….we were attacked by true believers. We were treated as infidels. We were killed by our brethren. Our friends, families, wives, and children were killed because we respected other people’s right to be happy and believe in a god.
Our countries have been raped by outsiders and the lines have been redrawn on your maps without consideration for our territorial heritage. These territories were established for many reasons, but these reasons were given no respect by western governments or their League of Nations. This lack of respect for our history and the traditional territories that our forefathers established, has created many of our middle eastern problems. Western leaders have drawn their own lines on the planet, to mark off a territory of like minded people….but not us….we must live within other other’s drawn lines.
Just imagine if one day someone decided that Ireland should be part of England….or that New York City is now part of your New Jersey because of uninformed beliefs….
We watched from afar the Irish Republican Army fight in the name of religion and freedom…some called them terrorists. We read of the great battles that occurred in the history of the US…..Battles for territory and belief….the Native American extermination….the great Alamo….the bloody conflict over territorial economic strength disguised as your Civil War. Is any of this history so different?
As we learn and watch, these struggles seem no different to us….but you rationalize them because you understand your struggles….you made the emotional commitment to see this struggle through….the only difference is the judgement exercised westerns. This judgement is based on western civilization concepts, not based on our heritage, beliefs and matters of family, tribe, village or territory. None of these matter to the arrogance of western government.
Can you imagine what would have happened if the government of Russia would have decided to send troops to calm the racial conflict during your riots in Watts territory?
Or if the German leaders decided there was great injustice in Haiti due to the human suffering created by a government that cannot control its own country?
Is there that much difference to our conflicts in the Middle East?
From time to time our people have had hope for a better, more peaceful life. The “Arab spring”, as it has been called by western media, was a brief moment of optimism. We all felt the movement, which was birthed through social media, would be a real chance for our young adults to begin the change our pattern of destruction and hate that infects our culture. But it appears that we are not yet ready. The small group that help lead this effort has been silenced by the majority of proud, but ignorant people that can’t stand the idea of freedom.
Our “spring” has been hijacked by the perpetual cycle of brother against brother, neighbor fighting neighbor and the very real possibility that we will never see a peaceful coexistence with our people and neighbors.
Over the millennium we have learned to live under strong leadership. Our leaders have always been the only thing we know….dictator….strong man….military coup….all of these have impacted us. We have lived in a state of caution most of our lives, therefore, we are not ready to think in western terms of democracy. We simply don’t have the right social background to understand the responsibilities of this democratic approach to living.
Is it possible that the “Arab Spring” may have been the worst possible outcome for the people of the Middle East that just want to go about their daily lives?
Maybe the only thing we respect and respond to is the structure provided by a strong-armed leaders. If you are a student of mankind, did not strong leaders, (dictators, if you will) help to determine and further the growth of man dominance over this planet. Our history is filled with great men of history….men that ruled with the sword….little compassion and fear. Men that granted freedom to those that swore allegiance to the ruler is how we have lived.
The recent unrest and death in Egypt and Syria is a result of the “Arab spring” being dismantled by people that can’t stand freedom and would rather fight than live. Both these countries had established a peaceful life, their people generally lived well and there were no random attacks or bombings. But look at what our Islamic brothers are doing to one another! Fighting for what? To unleash the life of chaos that existed before Suleiman?
It appears that some of our population…at least those willing to die….want to control the direction of our life. This Islamic fundamentalist minority is the real problem for the future. Those of us that just wish to lead a quiet, respectful, Muslim life are more afraid of our brothers with their extreme beliefs and practices, than any thing the West could do to us. We are afraid to speak out against their actions, we are afraid to stand up for our families and we are afraid because our enemy now hides in our towns disguised as one of us.
Are there any other believers that are not afraid to stand against the extremist people in our life?
This fundamentalist group, wants us to live under Shira law. This is a harsh life that is suppose to represent how our prophet lived in the 6th century. But only these people believe the stories of how our beloved leader lived during his rise to lead Islam. Many scholars have told us he lived like a man with the weakness of men.
The law part of this Shira life creates a world of dos and don’ts, a life of extremes, a life where circumstances does not matter, a life of fear, a life without the desire to be better and a small life tightly contained by the lack of possibility. Shira law creates a life suited for those people that can’t stand the idea of freedom.
As you can see…..the West can’t fix these beliefs because Western leaders don’t understand how we think about such matters.
Most of our young adults can’t find any meaningful direction in their life. We have practiced our daily prayers, because it is what we do. Most of us really don’t understand the words, but we say them because we want to be a believer. The people of our country and others are having more children than ever before.
But what will we do with all these children? Will they have a meaningful life as they grow up?
In our town, over 25% of the adults under 30 can’t find meaningful work. We have been forced to find work and endure great humiliation to support our families….moving through checkpoints….having walls built through my hometown cutting off family members for one another.
In the Jerusalem the stories of Muslim homes being invaded by Israeli Defense Forces to move out the Palestinian home owners, while “settlers” (place-holder Jews) are moved in by the Army, is an unimaginable challenge to our proud history.
How can this human rights violation be ignored by the US leaders? US leaders concern themselves with factories that make cheap clothing, or with living conditions at FoxCon city in China, but not the quiet, respectful Palestinians that have lost their land, homes, economic opportunity at the hands of Israeli government. Hollywood stars visit Africa or Haiti because of dying children. Our children are dying here everyday and with them dies our future. But the western media won’t show the images of checkpoints preventing women in labor getting to a hospital and having their child die, or the images of Israeli built walls that prevent us from working our vineyards.
Our people are desperate for a new life. Where is our Gandhi? Where is our strong leader with a peaceful heart? Great men like Martin Luther King help to change the future of America, just like Mandela led South Africa through its evolution. Our Islamic leaders lack this purity of love for their fellow Humans, they work to blame the infidels for our Middle East challenges, they pursue power through hatred. When do we solve our own problem? Shiite versus Sunni….I am not even sure I understand why my brothers fight each other. I am a Muslim. I pray five times a day. We honor the same prophet, yet we fight and die about ancient history. Where is our Gandhi?
If there no man or woman with a quiet confidence and the strength of will to lead us out of our past, our people will continue the cycle of destruction. This destruction destroys our great cities, erodes our faith in fellow man and does more to set us back on the world stage than any effort of the west. Please…..my Muslim brothers and sisters, we are the enemy! Where is our Dr. King?
So…..we have come to accept the fact that the people of the Middle East…. mostly Muslim through faith…. are mere shadows on the deserts sands to the west.
The West cannot understand. People from outside won’t solve our problems. It must be us! Where is our Mandella?
Disclaimer – this is a cut and paste of a letter from 2014 that I thought is still relevant today with the Syrian mess and the Iran still working to create conflict.