Freedom of Religion needs War of Ideas

آحمد صبحي منصور في الإثنين 16 اغسطس 2010


   First: War of ideas, a new kind of peaceful war

 

  • The usage of the term (war) in this context might create a problem, since we are talking about an intellectual war, (a peaceful war) as a substitute for a military war, or as a de-escalating factor, curtailing the use of military might except in the most compelling situations. It is the culture of our contemporary times, where Humanity has reached a level of civilization, practice of democracy, human rights recognition and peace, it realized that war is not the solution for conflicts at all times, rather war could be the worst solution, better yet, itself becoming an added problem. We are still feeling the pains of two world wars that resulted in the death of millions of combatants and civilians, and what followed them of local and regional wars, in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East, none of which succeeded in accomplishing the desired objective, which is peace, tranquility and harmony among people, and the removal of causes of future wars.
  • Hence, to use the term (war) in our war of ideas, is considered distasteful due to the negative connotations it elicits ,yet we are forced to use it for two reasons:

 

A-Our war of ideas against terrorists is the only peaceful one that prohibits or limits the use of military force, halts or limits terror attacks and random killing of the innocent civilians, whereas the other party who murders the innocents, uses the war of ideas, to brainwash simple Muslims into committing suicide attacks, killing themselves and others with no distinction. In other words, our war of ideas is meant to maintain peace, and to save lives including those of the suicide bombers, whereas, the war of ideas of those terrorists is meant to kill the innocents randomly.

 

B-The second reason, it is an actual and real war but of a different nature. A rational intellectual war, ideas collide, religious, historical, cultural and fatwas struggle against each other, and there is no other adequate description befitting this condition except the term (War). It is a war of ideas comparable to an actual militarized war, yet it attempts to replace if not limit the latter one in order to save lives on both side.

3-         Furthermore, the war of ideas against terrorism differs than the militarized war in as much as the militarized one considers the other party as an enemy that should be killed, his infrastructure should be destroyed and himself should be exterminated. On the other hand, our war of ideas does not consider the opponent an enemy; rather it regards his evil ideas as the enemy, those controlling ideas that make him sacrifice himself in killing others, thinking that that jihad is the price to be paid for an eternal abode in paradise. The war of ideas against terrorists is meant to save them from those misconceptions, whereby they become friends instead of enemies. In addition, of our goals, is to reform Muslims from within Islam, to embrace democracy, religious freedom of choice, values of justice, equality, human rights, tolerance, benevolence and peace as the essence of Islam in interacting and dealing with others, it also aims at motivating the Muslim masses, a billion and a half billion of them, to understand and come to terms with the plundering of its rights by the tyrants, and to assume its active role in doing what is good as commanded by Islam, and to remain as a subjugated mount for a corrupt insolent tyrant.

The ammunition of a war of ideas differs from that of militarized war. Its ammunition is extensive knowledge of Islam and Muslims. To use such ammunition in new armaments like a written word, a picture, through publishing books, articles, research papers, the internet, radio, TV and the arts. The foot soldiers of this war of ideas are the Muslim scholars, whether extremists, war and terror mongering as on the other side, or peace and reform advocates as in our camp.

The battle field is the one and the same for both; the heart and the mind of the Muslim. We try to teach and inform him with the forgotten principles of Islam, try to win his heart and mind, to reform him peacefully from within Islam, and they try to force upon him, their Wahhabi doctrine, the culture of enslavement, and jihad that they interpret as the killing of the other different in religion or sect. This is evident in the young man whom they arm with their doctrine to become a suicide bomber; they fill his heart with hatred for the other, and the urgency of murdering him, they convince him ,through their Wahhabi or extreme Shiite doctrine to  blow himself up in order to kill the innocent other. In contrast, our war of ideas, tries to convince him from within the Quran, that killing himself and others, is nothing more that utter and absolute enmity to Allah, Glory be to Him, to His messenger and to Islam, and that if he were to commit such an act, he would earn Allah’s wrath, he would be accursed by Allah, and his destination on Judgment day would be eternal hellfire.

Second:  Obstacles in implementing religious freedom in the Arab and Islamic World

 

There are two obstacles facing this objective: Culture of religious fanaticism, and Tyrannical regimes, which are interconnected. The fanatical religious trend, in its two branches: The pro regime, represented in the religious apparatus or establishment, and the other branch aspiring to gain control of power represented in the Muslim Brotherhood (with their open and secret organizations and sub organizations), persecuting its adversaries in doctrine (Copts, for example in Egypt), its adversaries in sect (like the Shiite, Quranic and Baha’is, in Egypt and Saudi Arabia), Also the Sunnis in Iran. On the other hand, the tyrannical regime tries to outdo the religious fanatics by presenting itself more religious and more extreme judged by prevailing forms of religiosity.

Yet it is in the interest of tyrannical Arab regimes, friendly to the West, to promote and advocate the culture of religious extremism for many reasons:

  • To scare and alarm the West externally, and the secular, civil organizations internally, about the danger of extremism, and that the regime is the only one capable of confronting, suppressing and eradicating it. For as long as this threat is looming, the regime is the one specialized in dealing with it, which means that it needs this extremism and its religious culture as a justification for its existence. That is why; the system indirectly, promotes and spreads the culture of extremisms, and at the same time, forcefully pursues any militarized attempt that threatens its power. It persecutes any free discourse or debate or discussion of this extremist thought from within Islam, trying to prove its contradiction with its tenets, and that is paramount reason why it persecutes the Quranists.
  • The extremist religious trend could never make peace with or reconcile itself to democracy, because its political creed is derived from its religious creed which, according to them, states that the ruler has the right and duty to govern in the name of religion. Thereby, it is easier for a tyrant to deal with a tyrannical mentality like that, than having to deal with a democratic mentality that sees the ruler as no more than a servant of the people. Moreover, it is impossible for the Eastern tyrant to reconcile with transparency, since his culture and the culture of traditional religious extremism regard the ruler as possessor of both wealth and power, or as described in traditional terms (He owns the land and what is on it). He does not have a watch dog or an overseer; he is not accountable for what is being collected or what is being spent. In an effort to look good, he resorts to some (democratic cosmetics), making sure that parliaments and houses of representatives behave in a secretarial fashion to his bidding, brought about through fake elections to hoot, holler and dance in his processions. The competing extremists wish for the same things, because they believe they are more deserving of it, the wealth, power and mounting the populace, and why not, since they are seeking it in the name of religion. Considering the compatibility between the tyranny of the regime and the corruption of the extremists, neither one could coexist with Democracy and Transparency that we (The Quranists) advocate and promote, two characteristics of the essence of Islam and its forgotten obligations.
  • Religious extremism allows the tyrant to play a wider role in sawing the seeds of dissension among the people along religious and sectarian divides. The tyrant strives to turn religious fanaticism into religious conflict and violent acts whereby religious and sectarian minorities become the victims of the religious majority, hence pleading and begging for the tyrant’s protection, who never tries to find permanent and comprehensive solutions, rather superficial band aid measures, to exacerbate and maintain the status quo, at the same time, the fanatical rhetoric is reigning supreme in media, educational and cultural outlets. And as long as the religious fanatical fomenting is producing the desired religious strive, the tyrant is content to have them busy with each other instead of resisting and fighting his oppression. Taking in consideration this political and sometimes militarized conflict between the tyrant and those fanatical extremists seeking to topple him, yet they stand united against religious and political reforms, and against those who promote it. And since religious freedom is the cornerstone in religious reform, it becomes the top of the list in prohibited items with both contestants, the tyrannical ruler and the religious fanatics , and since the tyrant ruler usurps both wealth and power, suffocates reform movements on the inside, then the last resort left for reform and reformers, is the world community, the United Nations and the Unites States of America, through its specialized organizations, most notably of is the American Commission for religious freedom in the World.              

Third: War of Ideas is the solution.

 

  • Since militarized wars are impractical and useless in effecting changes in extremist’s religious cultures and in establishing ideas of reforms, the only alternative avenue left available is war of ideas. This type of war benefitted from the transformation of this world into a global village, where vast separating distances are rendered useless, and access to people’s minds and hearts is made simple via satellite TV, Radio and the Internet.
  • Regrettably, it was the extremists terrorists who initiated the use of war of ideas against America and the West, in the fifties of the twentieth century, followed by the Shiite extremists in 1979, both trends are experts at using the war of ideas in fomenting hatred against the other, and spreading religious fanaticism and extremism. Through this war of ideas, they penetrated America and the West, managed to brainwash the minds of Muslim communities to be used as fifth columns. The rampant diffusion of religious extremism among Muslims in the West is an obvious phenomenon, resulting in terroristic behavior and activities, committed by homegrown civilian and military Muslims, in America and the West, indicating conclusive evidence that those extremist Wahhabis were successful in waging their war of ideas against the West since the fifties.
  • Therefore, it is expected of the West, especially America, to wage a counter offensive of war of ideas, led by sincere genuine Muslims, loyal to the same values that are shared by Islam and the West, values of freedom of religion, justice, human rights, democracy and religious tolerance; experienced and qualified to defeat those extremists, on intellectual and Islamic grounds, to show and prove in no uncertain means, the contradiction between terrorism, extremism ,and Islamic principles, its creed, its legislation and its moral values. A feat exemplified in and by the Quranists, who have been waging an unabated war of ideas with the Wahhabi extremists since the mid eighties of the last century. They have been so successful at it, that those oppressive suppressive fanatic extremists could not face up to the challenge except through persecution, imprisonment, torture and fatwas of apostasy and bloodletting. The tyrants and the extremists unite in facing the Quranists, since both cannot contend and argue with the Quranists, they resort to available means, which are violence and use of force. Each group uses what he is qualified to use, the Quranists use their knowledge of Islam, their expertise of Islam in combating its adversaries, and the extremists use all their resources, their power, their prestige, unlimited capabilities in persecuting the Quranists, who are devoid of any protection or material resources.          

It is incumbent upon the U.S. and the Quranists to be allies against the common enemy. America should provide the Quranists with adequate protection, adequate support, material and moral, and in turn, the Quranists would dedicate their lives to fighting extremism, intellectually through the Internet, Satellite TV, Media, TV programs and all means of delivering ideas, in all languages spoken by Muslims inside America and outside.

  • The cost of waging this war in one year is less than what is costing America in one hour in Afghanistan and Iraq. And although the end of the tunnel in both wars is not certain, with all its military expense, yet victory is almost certain in the war of ideas, without shedding any blood or assuming that exorbitant expense.
  • In reality, the war of ideas is the perfect solution, not only in spreading religious freedom in contrast to extremist’s fanaticism, but also in combating tyranny, by advocating, teaching and spreading the culture of democracy. People have to be exposed to and learn about the benefits of democracy before implementing it. The U.S.A. committed a mistake by using military force in dealing with Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, and before that, in Somalia and Lebanon. A more effective war would have been the war of ideas, backed up by the threat of using military force without actually using it. We have already explained that the war of ideas needs the military might to protect those carrying it out. The weak point with the Quranists, the experts in war of ideas with extremists, is the lack of protection and material resources.
  • It is regrettable and very unfortunate that America still ignores the Quranist’ struggle in their war of ideas against the extremists.   

It is also regrettable that America, with all its resources, does not have one single website facing or standing up to tens of thousands of websites spewing Al-Qaeda ideology and helping Bin Laden in recruiting foot soldiers, collecting monies, getting aid, training terrorists and preparing suicide bombers.

            It is regrettable that the only website defending America against the extremists is www.ahl-alquran.com                      

It is regrettable that the only Islamic center in America dedicated to combating extremists and extremism through war of ideas, defending the principles and values of Islam, the same as America’s, is the International Quranic Center, a not for profit American center, located in the state of Virginia, with tax deduction status for donations and contributions. With its tremendous positive reputation throughout the Muslim World, as the leader of the Quranic movement, and as the overseer of the website, yet both entities have been met with total indifference by the Administration and its policymaker, this despite of all the attempts and efforts we have pursued since 2002.

All that the Quranists in America and in the West have been accorded was few lines in the annual report about religious freedom and human rights, that they were persecuted, but no reference to the cause of this persecution; their struggle in defending freedoms and higher values, and their opposition to tyranny and oppression.

This American position of indifference towards the Quranists, their struggle and their war of ideas against the extremists, beginning in June 2002 and until today (June 7th2010), deserves an analysis; we will give it a year’s time to deliver, if we were still alive.

During President Bush’s administration, I managed to introduce my plans for War of Ideas to the inner circle of decision makers at the White House…then I lost hope.

Now at the time of writing this article, Wednesday July 14th2010, words about my plans for War of Ideas have reached the inner circle of President Obama, and as it happened with Bush’s administration, I have not received a response. During Bush’s administration, some of his aids met up with me and listened to my proposal. This has not happened yet with any of president Obama’s aids.

But I am still hopeful, based on President Obama’s openness and his acceptance of new ideas. No matter how hard it is to get to the President personally, I am still hopeful. And in order for this hope not to be in vain, I am willing to wait another year, for President Obama‘s administration to take a decision. After that, I will be writing an analysis of both, President Obama’s administration and the refusal of America to engage in a war of ideas, after a fruitless struggle that lasted more than 10 years.

In one of my letters to the President, that I have received no reply for, I stated:

 

How long will it take to convince America to help us in defeating Al-Qaida and other terrorists in the war of ideas?

•           How many thousands of lives and thousand of billions America will lose until the American policy makers will be convinced to wage war of ideas?

•           Who will be responsible for this wasting of money and lives?

            In a year’s time I will write my testimony for posterity, if I don’t receive the desired reply.

 

In conclusion:

At any rate, recommendations to policymakers remain as follow:

1-You cannot separate advocating for religious freedom among Muslims from advocating for democracy, freedom in general and justice, without opposing religious fanaticism and political oppression. It is all in one reformation entity that cannot be split.

2- This necessitates the employment of war of ideas instead of military war alone.

3-Utilizing a war of ideas requires a change in the mentality of the American decision makers. It also requires a fundamental change in the core of the American policy, centered on the friendship of America with the Arab people, rather than with few oppressive hated and despised individuals, shifting from allying itself with a bunch of criminals to the respect and admiration of vast number of people. Those criminals should be brought to justice, to be tried as war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity, human rights organizations, whether American or international, along with the united Nations, attest to that fact. How can the U.S.A. deal with them as true genuine presidents and monarchs? How can it deal with Mubarak in the same fashion as it deals with the French President? How can it deal with Abdullah, the Jordanian and the Saudi versions, the same way it deals with constitutional monarchs of Europe? There is a humungous difference between a president elected by his people to be their servant, and a ruler who oppresses and suppresses his people, uses torture to subjugate and terrorizes them, transforms his country into a big prison, and fills it with hidden mass graveyards.

America’s alliance with those criminals is against its short and long term interests,( a subject deserving of  a more in detail analysis), it is not only against American values and against the spirit of the American constitution, it is contradictory to the American slogan, learnt by every American child, and sung  every morning at school while saluting the flag…and justice for all.

The painful reality is that with all the changes in conditions abound, America did not change its old worn policy with Arabs and Muslims since the cold war, a good reason why America’s Policy is met with failure there, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Palestine, etc..etc…Even internally, Al-Hurrah TV channel (which means, The Free Channel), aimed at Arab speaking people, to promote freedom and democracy in the Arab World, is utter failure, because it takes into consideration the interests of Arab governments, and ignores the Arab Man , even the whole Arab People, and pays them no mind. Why? Because it follows the dictates of the American policy, and forgets about being (Free) as its name indicates.

As a symptom of this perpetual American policy failure, is the aid it bestowed on Mubarak in Egypt, what amounts to over 100 billion dollars in assistance, who used it to direct his people’s sense of failure and their anger towards America, instead the rightful target; himself. Hatred for America increased directly proportionate to the level of monies America spent on Mubarak and his corrupt cronies, monies went directly to his and his aid’s bottomless pockets…..Then the Americans foolishly wonder: Why do they hate us?

The answer is two pronged…we keep emphasizing:

  • You are fighting a military war in fields that are better suited for war of ideas.
  • You are allying yourselves with the biggest enemy of the people: The Arab Tyrant. A carnivore, who in order to stay in power relies on 4 legs:

 

A-A monopoly of unlimited military and police forces, and directing them ruthlessly against defenseless people

B-Continuation of Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli conflict….unresolved

C- Unabated growth and intensity of terror tide.

D-Unconditional support of America for Tyrants

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