This direct question is motivated by the recent evolution of violence against Muslims in several parts of the world. It raises the question of the responsibility the leaders of Islamic countries are taking by not opposing this violence.
Yet, this post should not be seen as a defense for the surge of Islamist terrorist attacks in the Middle East, and somewhere else. These are often motivated by internal dissension. There are reasons for islamophobia, as for antisemitism. Both are racist at the core, and often violent. Both are fueled by the excesses of Muslims and Jews around the world.
As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most cruel and brutal extermination camp, mostly against Jews, we need to remember that we have a duty to protect those who are the victims of racist violence. The trend also affects brutal treatment of Christians in the Islamic countries.
This blog challenges the passivity and silence of Islamic countries when violence is made against their co-religionaries. The four situations we will cover have a common political characteristic: their governance is dominated by ideologies and their leadership is autocratic. Religion for them is used when it is helpful, and rejected when it becomes controversial or conflictual.
Even though it might not make headlines, among the numerous fights President Xi JinPing is confronted with, the persecution of the Uighurs is the most directly and violently anti-Muslims State terrorism. One million Uighurs have been sent to camps without any other reason than the fact that they are Muslims. They are incarcerated in the western region of Xinjiang.
Even though Uighurs are of Turkish origin, President Erdogan, tempted by Chinese investments, did not raise his voice. He is trying to protect Turkey’s commercial relationship with China. The world has been quiet about it. But the most resounding silence comes from the Muslim countries, and especially Arab countries. China has managed to quash any form of criticism, even refusing to acknowledge that those camps exist. They are “education centers” according to the ominous metaphor of the Chinese government.
The excuse that it wants to stop Muslim extremism, as laudable as it looks, does not correspond to any reality. The Uighurs are rather pacific and certainly did not mount any opposition as visible as the Tibetans. At the United Nations Human Rights Council, Western countries called on China to close the camps. The Arab countries did not join the chorus.
The “visits” organized for preselected journalists did not land any criticism. A Malaysian Diplomat (a Muslim country) who visited the camps criticized the fact that students were in fear and were not allowed to learn the Quran. So it is really anti-Islam. “Sinicization” was a headline of a report by the European Union’s executive branch. Not from the Arab League.
The relationship between the 200 million Indian Muslims and the Hindu Nationalists who see in Prime Minister Modi their hero, is deteriorating in the profound silence of Muslim countries. The invasion of Kashmir has been followed by the “de-nationalization” of millions of residents deprived of their Indian Nationality in Kashmir, most of which were Pakistani Muslims. Even Pakistan let it happen (see the NYT coverage).
It should not surprise: When Indian Prime Minister, Narendran Modi, was Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat, Hindus had attacked and killed Muslims without defense and he only sent troops to protect them after three days. To be elected, he made sure everybody forgot.
A Mosque located in Ajodhya has been burned by Hindu nationalists in 1992 creating massive violence that killed 2,000 people.
India’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Hindus in a decades-old dispute over a holy site contested by Muslims, handing the prime minister and his followers a major victory in their quest to remake the country as Hindu — and shift it further from its secular foundation.
The promulgation in December 2019 of an anti-Muslim law has led to daily, sometimes brutal but mostly pacific, demonstrations in the entire country. the government withdraw a citizenship law passed Dec. 12 that welcomes migrants from India’s Muslim-majority neighbors but only if they belong to six religions other than Islam. Has India been denounced by Islamic countries? Of course not. The cover page of a recent issue of The Economist is displaying “Intolerant India”, far away for the slogan of “Unbelievable India”.
3. Israel and Palestine
Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan Exposes the Ugly Truth. This isn’t a break with the status quo. It’s the natural culmination of decades of American policy, wrote the New York Times. Barack Obama was the only U.S. President who dared to resist the supremacy of Israel on the US foreign policy. The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is sometimes cruel and often illegal.
The announcement of a “peace Plan” by Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coincided with the day that Netanyahu was officially indicted for corruption. The peace plan was made in the absence and without the consent of the Palestinians. It took three year for the son in law of the President, Jared Kushner, a Jew himself and a friend of the corrupt Israeli Prime Minister, to propose an unacceptable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Will the Islamic countries support the Palestinian President? Nothing is less sure. One thing is certain, Saudi Arabia, another friend of Jared Kushner, lined up with Donald Trump. Palestine used to be the common cause of Islamic countries. At least the Arab League condemned the unilateral plan. The diverse responses reflect the current political climate in the Middle East and the severe political fragmentation among Arab states over crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. Ever since the Arab Spring of 2011, the region has been characterized by civil wars, internal strife, and international interventions.
Nobody is dupe. It is a way for the Jewish State to obtain the assent of the White House.
4. Myanmar and the Rohingyas
The killing, torturing and rape of the Rohingyas has led to one of the largest emigration of Muslims in history: one million people. The Peace Nobel Price winner but powerless President of Myanmar, Ang Shan Suu Ki, not only let it happen, but pleaded at the War Crime Tribunal in The Hague that it was not a genocide. She won on that front.
Today Rohingyas hesitate to come back to their home country. Their villages have been burned and there is no sign of appeasement from the murdering Myanmar Army.
Here again, the Islamic countries have not come to the assistance of their co-religionaries. They did not seize the United Nations. Their silence is deafening. The UN did not manage to pass a resolution on the subject. Only the European members of the UN security council put pressure on Myanmar to apply the resolution of the International Court of Justice.
Infighting vs. solidarity
Islamic countries are in civil war.
As the Islamic fight between Sunnis and Shiites intensifies, it seems that Islam lost interest in the treatment of Muslims outside of the Middle East and in Palestine. Have they lost their faith in Islam? Religion and racism have taken the largest number of lives in world history. Religious wars are often the deadliest, since they are limitless.
It also raises the fundamental question of the US foreign policy that allows “preemptive” strikes. This has resulted in two major conflicts in the Muslim world: Iraq and Afghanistan. Further developments in Syria, Libya and Yemen ended in bloodsheds. The Western intervention has been a total failure and we should ask ourselves the question whether we should continue to be involved in the region unless the Muslim countries are requesting it and empower them to find a solution to their religious conflict.
Europe has large populations of Muslims, and recent immigration from Libya and Syria has increased their number. The relationship is often tense and has become largely political. However, Europe has a role to play in this difficult and sometimes unsolvable situation. However, it is the only bloc who defended the human rights in the Middle East. But they face the resistance of Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Turkey.
Imagine if China had incarcerated upwards of a million Christians. Or India said it would take all refugees except Christian ones. The West would be in a state of frenzy. Since both China and India are targeting Muslims, their cause is given short shrift.
In the meantime, Islamic countries look as oppressors. It is time that they assume their responsibilities for human rights, peace and prosperity of their own people rather than fight amongst their religious factions. The infighting of Muslims is undermining Islam and radicalizing it. Is the deep solidarity of Muslims displayed in the Holy Quran disappeared?
The last thing the international community should do is taking sides between the Islamic enemy brothers.