Posts Tagged ‘secularism’

Khalil al-Anani argues that, with the entrance of Islamists into the political arena during and after the Arab Spring, “we need to rethink the Islamist question in a manner that transcends the styles of praise or ridicule that typified our approach and shaped our awareness for several decades.”  In making this point he is quite right: Islamists in politics require a more considered analysis than was necessary for purely religious movements, largely excluded from the public square.  For this, we have a few historical examples of how Islamist parties have functioned in elections and (in parliament though not in government) such as the Jamaat-e Islaami in Pakistan.  Fortunately, we now also have contemporary examples from which to draw conclusions in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Kuwait.

Al-Anani makes some important observations about the changes in Islamist discourse wrought by their electioneering and, in the case of the aforementioned countries, especially Egypt, their rise to power:

1) A shift from talking exclusively about religious solutions to practical problems, to engaging with voters through the use of more pragmatic rhetoric attuned to the present conditions.  He cites the example of the MB’s political party, the Freedom and Justice party (FJP – حزب الحرية والعدالة‎ , Ḥizb Al-Ḥurriya wa Al-’Adala), adapting the slogan ‘We bring the good to Egypt’ (نحمل الخير لمصر) as an alternate to the Brotherhood’s previous one of ‘Islam is the solution’ (الإسلام هو الحال).  Some would argue that the FJP are merely there to ‘market’ Ikhwani ideology, hence the adaption or moderation of the language used.

2) A shift from talking in mosques (and at rallies), to debating in parliament.  This involves not just a change in the nature of the issues discussed, but also a shift from sermons and speeches (which are traditionally monologues) to dialogue and debate.  Both spaces also have different customs for behaviour within each of them: not only is speech subject to less restriction in parliament, but it is also has to be accountable to the general public who may watch the debates live on TV or comment on Facebook.  Whilst there are certainly taboos in mosques, there is little or no public scrutiny, except perhaps in the case of the ‘live’ Friday sermon.

3) A shift from religious to secular authority, where religious figures respected for their Islamic knowledge are subjected to careful scrutiny on entering the public sphere.  It remains to be seen how this will affect the public’s perception of and reaction to policy inspired by the Qur’an and Sunna.

4) A shift from the solidarity expressed in private to a rivalry based on each party’s success at implementing its respective policies.  In the case of Egypt, it will be interesting to note the future role that Islam will play in the revised constitution and how this will impact on the relationship between the two largest parties in parliament: the FJP and the Salafist al-Nour party.


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Given President Yudhoyono’s resounding electoral victory last week, the future looked bright for a democractic Indonesia and its Muslim-majority population.  But, every silver lining has a cloud as they say:  in this instance, the ‘cloud’ came in the form of two separate but coordinated, virtually simultaneous bombings of the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels in Jakarta, at around 7:48 am local time.  Nine fatalities, including four foreigners have been reported, with more than fifty others  injured in the blasts.

If reports prove to be correct, this will be the second time that the Marriott has been attacked by a suicide bomber.  Several analysts have speculated that this was indeed the work of Jemaah Islamiyah, a South East Asian militant Islamic organisation dedicated to the establishment of a Islamic State.

But does this terrorist attack, coming so soon after the free and fair elections suggest that Indonesia is not a ‘model’ Muslim democracy?  Paul Wolfowitz, writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, outlines some of the elements that make Indonesia such a success story:

Successful economy

Per capita incomes are more than double what they were when I arrived there as U.S. ambassador 25 years ago. Since 2000, Indonesia’s economy has grown at an average of more than 4% a year. Last year the rate was 6%.

Stable geopolitical situation 

The country has made strides in other areas as well. The war in Aceh has ended. Secessionist sentiment elsewhere in the country has largely disappeared, thanks in part to a transition to democracy. And the Indonesian police have recorded substantial successes against terrorism.

Evidence of a maturing electorate

Above all, Indonesia’s political process has displayed a remarkable degree of maturity. Three consecutive free and fair presidential elections is one mark of that. Voters have also shown an impressive degree of common sense. For example, when President Yudhoyono was criticized because his wife often appears in public without a head covering, or jilbab, voters shrugged off the criticism.

Robust leadership

Mr. Yudhoyono’s leadership deserves a great deal of credit, as does the country’s tradition of tolerance and respect for women. Indonesia’s first two democratically elected presidents were Abdurrahman Wahid, a devout Muslim leader and proponent of religious tolerance, and Megawati Sukarnoputri, a passionate spokeswoman for democracy. Neither presidency was very successful, but the values each embodied were influential.

Redoutable civil society

So too were a variety of civil society groups that thrived despite restrictions from the Suharto regime. Indonesia’s press was financially independent and competitive, so the country had the basis for a free media as soon as censorship restrictions were lifted. Many of the country’s leaders were also educated in democratic countries. Mr. Yudhoyono is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and Staff College.

All of these factors and more have contributed to Indonesia’s contemporary success both on the global stage and domestically, not the least of which is the Indonesian state’s constitutionally enforced religious pluralism and founding philosophy of pancasila:

Pancasila (pronounced [pantʃaˈsila]) is the official philosophical foundation of the Indonesian state. Pancasila consists of two Sanskrit words, “panca” meaning five, and “sila” meaning principles. It comprises five principles held to be inseparable and interrelated:

  1. Belief in the one and only God, (in Indonesian, Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa).
  2. Just and civilised humanity, (in Indonesian, Kemanusiaan Yang Adil dan Beradab).
  3. The unity of Indonesia, (in Indonesian, Persatuan Indonesia).
  4. Democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives, and (in Indonesian, Kerakyatan Yang Dipimpin oleh Hikmat Kebijaksanaan, Dalam Permusyawaratan Perwakilan, dan)
  5. Social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia (in Indonesian, Keadilan Sosial bagi seluruh Rakyat Indonesia)

Wolfowitz also adds some caveats:

But we can’t be complacent about Indonesia’s future. The problems facing the country are enormous, poverty first among them. Corruption remains a deterrent to foreign investment. Islamic fundamentalism poses a threat. The authorities have shown a disturbing passivity in the face of attacks on churches and mosques of certain minority sects. Many Indonesians are fearful that government restrictions on pornography and proselytizing will be used by extremists to restrict free expression.

On the positive side, recent elections showed that there has been a decline in the influence of overtly Islamist parties.

The U.S. has an enormous stake in Indonesia. It provides stability for the whole of Southeast Asia, a region of more than half a billion people. It is an example for other aspiring democracies. And if it continues to make progress on religious tolerance, it can point the way for other majority Muslim countries.

One pleasing note is that he doesn’t use the term ‘the Muslim world’ as so many have.  At any rate, the recent elections, perceived declining influence of the Islamist parties and now these bombings, which are likely to galvanise Indonesian public opinion even further against the extremists, are promisin signs for the future in one of the world’s most diverse, Muslim-majority nations.

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When I read the news that Marwa el-Sherbini had been murdered, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of déjà vu.  Here was yet another  tragic case of someone  murdered ostensiblybecause of the group to which they belonged.  So, why the sense of déjà vu?  Because, having witnessed the exploitation of Eltham teenager Stephen Lawrence’s murder and the subsequent misuse of his memory for partisan political and cultural ends, I was prepared for the lengths some organisations and individuals would go to in order to attain their objectives.

And so it was in the wake of Marwa’s death: within a week of her murder in the Dresden court room in which her assailant was appealing a fine for slander against her, Islamic media such as Islam Online were beginning to fan the flames of conspiracy and ‘Islamophobia’ to justify her status as a ‘hijab martyr’.  Despite their being no connection between the initial offence of slander, her eventual murder at the hands of one Axel W. and her wearing the hijab, the causation for her death quickly became religious discrimination: she was killed because she wore the hijab, according to the prevailing narrative.

I was so sure that Marwa’s death would be exploited by the Islamists that I predicted her demise would become the locus of a relentless campaign against supposed negative attitudes towards Islam in Europe and the wider liberal democratic and secular West.  So far, my prediction has been proved correct.

Initially, Islam Online reported that the organisations affiliated to the Global Muslim Brotherhood supported a proposal to create a ‘World Hijab Day’:

A proposal put forward by one of IslamOnline.net’s readers for a World Hijab Day to mark the death of Marwa Al-Sherbini drew immediate support from around the world.  “We are throwing our weight behind this proposal,” says Abeer Pharaon, the chair of the Assembly for the Protection of Hijab.  “Sherbini is not only a hijab martyr but also a victim of Islamophobia, from which European Muslims are suffering,” she stressed.  “Her death deserves to be commemorated and marked as a World Hijab Day.”… The despicable crime sparked calls by IOL readers for action in defense of Hijab, an obligatory code of dress that every Muslim woman must wear. One reader suggested marking the tragic death of the young woman with a special day on which Muslim women across the world would take to the streets to defend their dress code.  “We are supporting the proposal,” Rawa Al-Abed, an official in the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, told IOL. “We are also calling for organizing more events to raise awareness about the rights of Muslim women in Europe, including wearing hijab.”  Many Muslims mark the International Hijab Solidarity Day in the first week of September.  The day was launched by the London-based Assembly for the Protection of Hijab (Protect Hijab) in 2004 to protest a French law banning hijab in state schools.

Rawa Al-Abed is known to be a leader in the “Women’s Action” section of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), an umbrella organisation comprised of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups in Europe.

A NEFA Foundation report documents the ties between FIOE and the Assembly for the Protection of Hijab:

FIOE is currently listed as a supporter on the website of an organization known as the Assembly for the Protection of Hijab, also known as Pro-Hijab, …Pro-Hijab was launched in in June 2004 at a press conference held at the House of Commons and attended by FIOE president Ahmed Al-Rawi.  A press release announcing a second Pro-Hijab conference indicated that it was to include Youssef Qaradawi as a guest of honor and that Tariq Ramadan was scheduled as a featured speaker. At that time, the organization indicated that the Muslim Association of Britain, the UK FIOE member, played a “pivotal role in the formation of Pro-Hijab.In 2005, the group planned a lobbying campaign at the European parliament in Strasbourg…

The issue of the hijab has consistently been at the forefront of the European Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘reform’ agenda.  As a pragmatic organisation, rather than seeking to achieve  the impossible task of implementing Islam by force, they have followed a policy of strategic gradualism, of which the initial stage consists of  ‘reforming’ Muslims and generating a movement that advocates a return to an Islamic lifestyle; for both individuals and society in general.  One of these key reforms is the normalising of the status of the hijab and promoting it as compulsory for all Muslim women.

Islamist movements such as the Brotherhood have also adopted the language of human rights to manipulate the debate over certain tenets of Islam that are seen as antithetical to or incompatible with Western notions of freedom.

One of the principal tools of Islamist soft power is the evocation of Islamophobia* at every opportunity.  Islamists are aware of the process by which an accusation of racism, homophobia or anti-Semitism can damage the reputation of a naïf or be used as a substitute for any semblance of a counter-argument to ‘win’ a debate.

U.K. far-left media have recently reported the launch of a new campaign against ‘Islamophobia’ called Kafa (Arabic for “enough”).  According to one report, the campaign was launched by the U.K. Muslim Brotherhood and the far-left Stop the War Coalition (SWC):

Around 200 people attended the launch of Kafa (Arabic for “enough”) in east London on Friday of last week. This timely campaign against Islamophobia was called by the Stop the War Coalition, British Muslim Initiative, Muslim Council of Britain and others. The meeting featured speakers including George Galloway, Guardian journalist Seamus Milne , Lindsey German from Stop the War and others . The campaign was called by Stop the War, British Muslim Initiative, Muslim Council of Britain and others has brought together Muslims and non-Muslims. Kafa intends to continue by holding events and activities up and down the country.

The British Muslim Initiative is a U.K Islamist group led by long-time U.K Brotherhood leaders Anas al-Tikriti and Azzam Tamimi, formerly leaders of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), yet another Brotherhood group.

The Kafa founding statement was signed by other individuals and organizations tied to the U.K Brotherhood including Mohammed Sawalha, a one-time UK spokesman for the Brotherhood and a ‘fugitive Hamas commander’.

The Federation of Islamic Organizations (FIOE), one of the MB-affiliated groups that have been extremely vocal in their criticism of European society in the wake of Marwa’s death and a key supporter of the World Hijab Day initiative, issued a statement at its Fourth General Assembly held in Turkey from June 4th to June 7th.  According to the statement:

In light of the rising wave of Islamophobia, the Assembly discussed the previously proposed decision of establishing an entity to protect and defend the rights of Muslims. It viewed the accomplishments of the committee designated to this task and expressed its approval of the outcome and efforts, and encouraged moving forward on this front.

According to their report on the FIOE, the NEFA Foundation describes the organisation as follows:

The Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) claims to be an independent organization representing the interests of Muslims in Europe.  In reality, the FIOE is an umbrella group that comprises the global Muslim Brotherhood in Europe.  Strong links connect FIOE’s leadership central institutions and member organizations to the Brotherhood, as well as to Saudi Arabia.  Funding for the FIOE is derived largely from Gulf sources, including some of the ruling families of the United Arab Emirates.  The FIOE has strong ties to Hamas and Hamas fund-raising organizations, and some FIOE member organizations show evidence of links with Al-Qaida.  The FIOE recently opened a headquarters office in Brussels and has had some success in positioning itself as a “dialog partner” for the EU and other important institutions.

The president of one of the FIOE’s key member organisations, the Union des Organizations Islamiques de France (UOIF), Lhaj Thami Breze, has insisted that the French government enact a law against ‘Islamophobia’.  According to one article:

The French government must submit a draft law against Islamophobia, like the laws against anti-Semitism. The appeal was launched by Lhaj Thami Breze, president of the Union des Organizations Islamiques de France (UOIF).  In an interview with AKI-ADNKRONOS INTERNATIONAL after a fire near a mosque in Lyon last Saturday, Breze says that, “in the face of continuing attacks against Muslims, it is necessary that the state is not limited to condemning these acts, but proposes a law that punishes Islamophobia”.  According to the advocate for the French Muslim community, these incidents reflect “the bitterness of those who oppose seeing Islam find its place in France and its official and popular acceptance”.  Breze points out that “not a day goes by without the the opening of a mosque or a prayer hall in several French cities.”

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), yet another umbrella body consisting of Muslim-majority nations and Islamic states, has been instrumental in calling for the criminalisation of religious criticism and, more specifically, the outlawing of Islamophobia.

A conference entitled ‘the International Conference on Islamophobia’ was held from 8-9th December 2007 at the Grand Cevahir Hotel in Istanbul.  The conference, organised by a Turkish organization known as ‘the Union of NGOs of the Islamic World‘ and affiliated to the OIC, featured a large number of prominent speakers with ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood including:

  • Ahmed Von Denffer (Germany)
  • Anwar Ibrahim (Malaysia)
  • Iqbal Sacranie (U.K)
  • John Esposito (U.S)
  • Karen Armsttrong U.S
  • Lord Nazim Ahmed (U.K.)
  • Louay Safi (U.S.)
  • Merve Safa Kavakçi (U.S.)
  • Tariq Ramadan (Switzerland)
  • Sulayman Nyang (U.S.)

The OIC itself has not been slow to capitalise on Marwa’s murder.  In a statement on their website following the incident’s widespread coverage in the press:

The OIC Islamophobia Observatory has been following the event and its aftermath with concern. “It only underscores the importance of addressing the threat posed by the worrying trend of Islamophobia, as a contemporary form of racism, through sustained and constructive engagement based on the vision of an ‘historical reconciliation’ advocated by the OIC Secretary General”, said the spokesman. He added that it would be particularly important in this endeavor for the political leadership in the West to pave the way by making positive statements and contributions.

The OIC’s Islamophobia Observatory, which has now produced two comprehensive reports into trends and incidences of so-called Islamophobia (see here and here), was originally set up in response to the publication of the Muhammad caricatures in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and subsequent controversy surrounding them, in September 2005.  However, the Observatory, as initially conceived, has a wider remit as part of a ten-year plan to:

[…] counter Islamophobia and bring the issue to the forefront of the agenda of the international community, to create awareness of its dangerous implications on global peace and security and to stress on the urgent need to develop a collective political will to combat it.

The OIC is planning to open a representative office and appoint an ambassador to Brussels to fight against Islamophobia in Europe more effectively:

“This office will provide the West and Islam the opportunity to work coherently,” said Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the Turkish secretary-general of the organization, to Today’s Zaman. The office will cooperate with the European Parliament and the European Council to develop the initiatives for interfaith and intercultural dialogue and institute contacts with nongovernmental organizations. The office will also be effective in efforts aimed at preventing discrimination against Muslims and fighting anti-Islam propaganda. “Of course fighting anti-Islam propaganda is one of the main aims of the office. Intercultural and interfaith dialogue constitute the priorities of the office in Brussels,” İhsanoğlu said.

This new institution will enable the OIC to lobby directly at the heart of EU decision-making and further entrench the organisation as the representatives of a fictitious and misleading entity known as the Muslim world:

OIC officials are concerned that most of the actions considered by the public as Islamophobic took place in European countries; thus, the OIC believes better contact with official European institutions and the public is vital.

The OIC already has offices in New York and Geneva. The new office in Brussels will advance relations between Europe and the Muslim world. “With this office, we can create close institutional cooperation with the member countries of the European Union,” İhsanoğlu said.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups have also been keen to make parallels between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

Efraim Karsh and Rory Miller, writing in Commentary Magazine, examine the claim by many Muslim Brotherhood groups that Muslims in Europe have become the “New Jews”, subject to massive discrimination and in danger of genocide.  While perhaps a little sanguine about anti-Islamic actions such as arson directed against European mosques, the authors correctly note how Muslim Brotherhood groups have used the concept of Islamophobia for political gain:

For their part, Muslim groups have worked assiduously to manipulate European feelings of guilt over the Nazi past.  Radical organizations like the French Union d’Organizations Islamiques (UOIF), the MuslimBrothers in Germany and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) in the UK have been increasingly able to use the Trojan horse of “Islamophobia” to establish themselves as the dominant voice of the Muslim communities in their countries.  MPAC, for example, emerged as a serious player in British politics by launching a campaign targeting “anti-Muslim MP’s” in the May 2005 parliamentary elections.  The rising influence of such groups should be as great a cause forconcern as the wave of anti-Semitic violence that has emerged in Europe in recent years.

Karsh and Miller observe the readiness of Islamists to manipulate crime statistics in order to assert that Muslims in the Europe are subject to a rising wave of ‘hate crimes’:

[…] the majority of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe since 9/11 have been perpetrated by members of the very same Muslim communities now claiming to be Europe’s “new” Jews. In almost every case of harassment and violence documented by CIDI in Amsterdam, the victims reported that their persecutors were of North African Muslim origin.  Muslim gangs have been responsible for many of the anti-Jewish hate crimes across the rest of the continent as well.

Anas al-Tikriti, in his latest column for Islam Online, whilst mirroring some of the false claims of media indifference to Marwa’s murder voiced by other Islamists, claims:

The manner as well as the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident, including her husband getting shot by a court security guard as he tried to shield her frenzied murderer, give rise to more questions than answers. The most pressing of which is probably why the European media, which is so vocal and enthusiastic whenever a “bad story” involving a Muslim emerges, was so quiet and muted when the Muslim happened to be the slain victim.

He also cites French President Sarkozy’s recent statement on the burqa as having laid the groundwork for Marwa’s murder, despite the fact that Marwa did not wear either a burqa or a niqab:

Also, with no more than two weeks passing since the French President attacked the burqa, one cannot help but query the extent of the influence of Sarkozy’s statements and widespread media support for his move, in creating the conditions which allowed “Alex” to carry out the murder.

And, like other Islamists, al-Tikriti is never one to miss an opportunity to seek a more prestigious role for Muslim organisations who supposedly represent the whole of the mythically homogeneous Muslim community:

The complex and sophisticated structure of mainstream Muslim federations, organizations and associations cannot afford to watch passively as political circles and media establishments continue to descend into the laps of the far-right and their racist, supremacist and repugnant rhetoric.

The role of these bodies has long moved from the basic remit to provide places of worship, venues for Islamic education and outlets for halal meat, and must now assume their full political, social, economic, cultural and ideological roles in addressing the pressing challenges of how to become a perfect European citizen without having to compromise on one’s Muslim faith, identity and practice. It’s also vital that these organizations see their role within the wider European contexts, as one that works towards the betterment and progress of Europe and all her nations.

All in all, it would be refreshing for once, if Muslim commentators, instead of seeking to exploit tragic isolated incidents as part of their despicable identity politics agenda, chose to honour the memory of the dead and sought to create a better world for all, free from essentialist notions of religious affiliation and cultural distinctiveness.

*The term Islamophobia was first coined in a report commissioned by the British government entitled Islamophobia: a Challenge for Us All compiled by the Runnymede Trust in 1997.

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Something I touched on yesterday was the point about Indonesia not being a ‘model’ Muslim-majority country in the same way that say Egypt is.  What I mean by this is that religion, and hence the role of religion in public life, is perceived very differently in Indonesia to its status in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa.  Yes, there are plenty of mosques; the call to prayer is broadcast; the new president is a Muslim; and there is a strong Islamic cultural influence on Indonesian languages and society.  However, this does not prevent Indonesia being very much more a secular state, with a constitutionally enforced pluralistic tolerance towards the multitude of religions observed by Indonesians.  Indeed, it is considerably more secular than supposedly secular republics such as Egypt and Syria are.

Joe Cochrane makes this point in Newsweek, opining that:

A worrisome note has crept into U.S. rhetoric toward the country of late. On her first overseas trip as secretary of state earlier this year, Hillary Clinton called Indonesia a “Muslim nation” and commended it for demonstrating that “Islam, democracy, and modernity” can go hand in hand. In June, she said Indonesia might be a “good partner in the U.S. efforts to reach out to the Muslim world.” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called Indonesia a “Muslim country” at a briefing in May.

This seems to me to be extremely problematic: I’m well aware that this point has been made elsewhere, but aping the language of the Islamists, particularly al-Qaeda, Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Muslim Brotherhood and their respective franchises, by lumping all Muslims regardless of their language, ethnicity and culture together in one boat does not help to empower moderate forces in Muslim-majority countries who wish to see a permanent secularisation of Islam and its divorce from any distopian vision of a pan-global Islamic caliphate.

Just how do you define the term Muslim World?  Is a Muslim living in a Christian country part of this mythical construct?  Here’s Scott Carpenter at Foreign Policy:

To see the trouble with the term “Muslim world,” one needs only to try and define it. Who is included in the Muslim world? What countries — or individuals — make the cut, and who defines it? Is half-Muslim Nigeria a part of the Muslim world as much as the Islamic Republic of Iran? And how do different sects in internal conflict, like the Sunni and Shia of Iraq, reconcile their placement in a single “world” to American eyes? Are extremists — such as the Taliban or al Qaeda — lumped together with secular Muslims?

This sort of terminology, whilst arguably useful when applied to historical analyses and for extrapolating rough trends, is neither helpful nor particularly useful.  Cochrane again:

The United States—especially President Barack Obama, who spent four years of his childhood there—should know better. Such language may sound benign. But Indonesia isn’t a Muslim state any more than Great Britain is a Protestant one. Indonesia is a secular nation that happens to have 190 million Muslim citizens. And its embrace of democracy has nothing to do with religion.

President Obama has made it a lynchpin of his public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East and beyond that the US is not ‘at war with Islam’ and persisted with this narrative from his first interview with al-Arabiya, through Istanbul and finally to Cairo.   Any congratulatory message to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or future dialogue with Indonesia should avoid this destructive typology, and it may well have briader policy implications:

[…] it should avoid touting Indonesia as a bridge to the Islamic world. Previous attempts by Jakarta to mediate the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the Iraq War, or other Middle East issues have failed, and it’s not hard to see why. Indonesia sits several thousands miles away from the Middle East, where it has very little influence. Most Indonesian Muslims practice a tolerant, moderate form of Islam, very different from Saudi-inspired Wahhabism.

Parag Khanna at the Washington Post has the last word:

The United States will never pursue consistent policy across the Muslim world’s petro-states, monarchies and failed states, nor do we need to do so. In Turkey, we should speak of how to help the country join the European Union. In Pakistan, focus on integrating tribal areas into the constitutional structure. In Egypt, speak of job creation and a legitimate transfer of power from Hosni Mubarak. Such efforts are taken through traditional foreign policy — between nations, not cultures.

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