New Age Islam
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Islam and the West ( 7 March 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Islam and the West: What Went Wrong and Why? Concluding Part


By Amir Nour

March 01, 2018

“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born, now is the time of monsters”

(Antonio Gramsci)

The Priests of War and the “Islamic” Terrorism

In his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language”, George Orwell said that the political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. This essay, as well as his other famous classic “1984”, published in 1949, are so profound as to be as much relevant today as they were in the aftermath of WWII.

Thus, in January 2017, the dystopian novel “1984” sold out on Amazon in the U.S. after it rose up to the top of the site’s bestsellers list. This ascent to the top began when Donald Trump’s adviser, Kellyanne Conway, coined the phrase “alternative facts”, after she was asked to explain the reason of Press Secretary Sean Spicer making a statement which was filled with inaccuracies. Journalists soon started to label Conway’s comment as “Orwellian”. One of them even concluded that “truth” is being redefined as whatever the U.S. government, NATO and their Western interests say is true, and disagreement with the West’s “group thinks”, no matter how fact-based the dissent is, becomes “fake news”.

So is the case concerning the story of “Islamic terrorism” [24], which led to an unprecedented level of Islamophobia in the Western world nowadays. Long before the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the American media has broadcast fears of “terrorism” with the clear message that Arabs and Muslims are, if not terrorists, at least extremists prone to violence and terrorism. And as the record shows, according to American political writer Michael Collins Piper [25]—unsurprisingly labelled as a conspiracy theorist by Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, Bnai B’rith, The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and the Middle East Media Research Institute—when the media outlets turn to “experts” for information about terrorism, more often than not they rely on sources with close ties to Israel and its American lobby.

Piper recalled that in 1989, Pantheon Books published a little-noticed volume [26] that provides a stark and revealing look at the development and growth of the “terrorism industry”. In this book, co-authors Professor Edward Herman and Gerry O’Sullivan of the University of Pennsylvania, provided a comprehensive overview of the way that powerful private special interest (both domestic and foreign) have worked together with government agencies in the United States and internationally to influence the way that the world looks upon the phenomenon of modern-day terrorism.

The public, therefore, learns of terrorist activity from the government and from overwhelmingly right-wing “experts” who confirm and reinforce state policy discourse, and the mass media, thus missing a balanced perspective, usually serves as gullible conduits for promoting stereotypes and biased information, if not outright propaganda. One has to recall what historian Harry Elmer Barnes once wrote about the methods used by “the enemies of truth to suppress those historians who dare to lift the veil on reasons for world events (…) I charge that the articulate publicists of our country, by their semi-hysterical words in print and speech in which they champion extremes of diplomatic and military policy, are driving us rapidly into a war of unlimited and unattainable objectives which will bring on a gigantic catastrophe of ruin and revolution at home and abroad (…) By articulate publicists I mean those speakers and writers ranging from editors, novelists, magazine writers, columnists, dramatists, radio writers, lecturers, college professors, and educators, to senators and other elected officials, cabinet members, political leaders and presidents. When what they write and talk about becomes a united theme of agreement, action follows as certainly as butter follows the churning of sour cream”[27].

Numerous reports and investigations have indeed shed a light on the Islamophobia network of so-called experts, academics, media outlets, and donors who manufacture, produce, distribute, and mainstream fear, bigotry, hate and lies against Muslims and Islam in the United States such as: “Sharia is a threat to America”; “mosques are Trojan horses”; “radical Islam has infiltrated America, the government and mainstream Muslim organizations”; “there is no such thing as moderate Islam”; “practicing Muslims cannot be loyal Americans”, and so on and so forth. Two such reports [28] were released in 2011 and 2015, which revealed that close to 200 million dollars have been spent to support anti-Muslim activities.

One of the beneficiaries of these funds is Robert Spencer’s website “Jihad watch”, which received more than $500,000 in donations between 2001 and 2009. The ideas propagated by Spencer—long known for endeavouring to cast Islam as a diabolical threat that must be eradicated [29]—have inescapably resonated in America and elsewhere. A case in point is the story of Anders Breivik, the far-right terrorist who, on 22 July 2011, committed the worst mass killing his native peaceful Scandinavian country, Norway, has seen since WWII. In his 1,500-page manifesto entitled “2083 – A European Declaration of Independence”[30], Breivik referred to Spencer and his website 162 times. In the own words of the Washington Post “the monster who admitted slaughtering at least 76 innocent victims in Norway was animated by the same blend of paranoia, xenophobia and alienation that fuels anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Yes, it could happen here”.[31]

Moreover, this powerful Islamophobia industry seems to have succeeded in gaining the upper hand over those trying to speak out to counter its politics of fear. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian recounts this epic struggle in an article[32], which she concluded by stating that “Ideologues are seeking to marginalize Muslims by making their speech and their activism relating to their religion come at a very high price. They believe that Muslims are malevolent, duplicitous, and dangerous, and these Islamophobes will bend the truth to fit their claims. In the process, they are denying Islam the same functional rights that Christianity enjoys and silencing the very people best poised to reconcile Islam with modern American life. Which may be the very point”.

The “war against terrorism” has thus become part and parcel of the neoconservative long-range view and political agenda, in which Professor Bernard Lewis played a prominent role thanks also to the media which has consistently promoted his lectures and books.

Explaining Bernard Lewis’s scholar and political role in an excellent article[33] written in December 2002, Lamis Andoni says that Lewis’s work, especially his inflammatory book “What Went Wrong: Western impact and Middle Eastern Responses”––released in January 2002 shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks but written shortly before—has been an essential source of what was practically a manifesto for advocates of U.S. military intervention towards “establishing democracy in the Middle East”. This appreciation was indeed confirmed by Paul Wolfowitz in March 2002. Speaking via video phone at a special ceremony held in Tel Aviv to honour the leading Orientalist, he said “Bernard Lewis brilliantly placed the relationships and the issues of the Middle East into their larger context with truly objective, original and always independent thought. Bernard has taught [us] how to understand the complex and important history of the Middle East and use it to guide us where we will go next to build a better world for generations”. It was also confirmed on 5 April 2003, by the New York Times which described the book as having been a major influence on Bush administration thinking.

By declaring that the peoples of the Middle East—meaning Arabs and Muslims—have failed to catch up with modernity and have fallen into “a downward spiral of hatred and rage”, Lewis has not only exonerated American imperial policies and provided a moral and historical justification for Washington’s “war on terror”, but has also emerged as chief ideologue for the re-colonization of the Arab world. Andoni drew the latter reflection from the conclusion of the book in which Lewis says “If the peoples of the Middle East continue on their present path, the suicide bomber may become a metaphor for the whole region, and there will be no escape from a downward spiral of hate and spite, rage and self-pity, poverty and oppression, culminating sooner or later in yet another alien domination”.

All of the above has been aptly summed up in James Carroll’s aforementioned article which he concluded by stating that this inherited European habit of politicized paranoia is masterfully continued by freaked-out leaders of post 9/11 America. They too, he adds, like prelates, crusaders, conquistadores, and colonizers have turned fear of Islam into a source of power, and this history teaches that such self-serving projection can indeed result in the creation of an enemy ready and willing to make the nightmare real…

It is against that essential backdrop that we will set the events of 9/11 and their impact on the contemporary relations between the West and Islam, in a forthcoming analysis.

* * *

Algerian researcher in international relations, author of the book “L’Orient et l’Occident à l’heure d’un nouveau Sykes-Picot” (“The Orient and the Occident in time of a new Sykes-Picot”), Editions Alem El Afkar, Algiers, 2014: downloadable free of charge, by clicking on the following links: (French)العالم-العربي-على-موعد-مع-سايكس-بيكو-ج/ (Arabic) 

Noam Chomsky, “Masters of Mankind: Essays and lectures, 1969-2013”, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2014.

Dan Brown, “The Da Vinci Code”, Doubleday, 2003.

Malek Bennabi (1905-1973) was an Algerian writer and philosopher who devoted most of his life to observe and analyze History to understand the general laws behind the rise and fall of civilizations. He is mostly known for having coined the concept of “colonizability” (the inner aptitude to be colonized) and even the notion of “mondialisme” (Globalism). 

Translated from Arabic. In Malek Bennabi, “2ج وجهة العالم الإسلامي” (Vocation of Islam, Part 2), Dar Al-Fikr, Damascus, Syria, 2012.

Norman Podhoretz, “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism”, Doubleday, New York, 2007. 

Graham E. Fuller, “A World Without Islam”, Foreign Policy, January 2008.

Arnold J. Toynbee was an English historian whose 12-volume study entitled “A Study of History” put forward a philosophy of History based on an analysis of the cyclical development and decline of civilizations that provoked much discussion. In his study, began in 1922 and completed in 1961, he examined the rise and fall of 26 civilizations in the course of human history, and concluded that they rose by responding successfully to challenges under the leadership of creative minorities composed of elite leaders. Civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively, and then sank owing to the sins of nationalism, militarism, and the tyranny of a despotic minority. Unlike Spengler in his “The Decline of the West”, Toynbee did not regard the death of civilizations as inevitable, for they may or may not continue to respond to successive challenges. And unlike Karl Marx, he saw History as shaped by spiritual, not economic forces (Source: Encyclopædia Britannica online, 2008).

Arnold J. Toynbee, “The Western Question in Greece and Turkey: A Study in the Contact of Civilizations”, Constable and Company Ltd., 1922. 

Arnold J. Toynbee, “Islam, the West, and the Future”, in “Civilization on Trial”, Oxford University Press, 1948.

Bernard Lewis (with Buntzie Ellis Churchill), “Notes On A Century: Reflections of A Middle East Historian”, Penguin Books, New York, 2012.

Basil Mathews, “Young Islam On Treck: A Study in the Clash of Civilizations”, Friendship Press, New York, 1926. After service in the British Ministry of Information during WWI, he became the Literature Secretary of the Conference of British Missionary Societies and editor of Outward Bound. In 1924, he was called from London to Geneva, Switzerland, to be the Literature Secretary of the Boys’ Work Division of the World’s Alliance of Young Men’s Christian Associations.

Bernard Lewis, “Islam and the West”, Oxford University Press, 1993.

James Carroll, “The War Against Islam”, in The Boston Globe, June 7, 2005.

1868-74, 1880-85, 1886, 1892-94.

Quoted in Paul G. Lauren, ed, “The China Hands’ Legacy: Ethics and Diplomacy”, Westview Press, 1987, page 136: A variant of this quote is found in Rafiq Zakaria, “Muhammad and the Quran”, Penguin Books, 1991, page 59: “So long as there is this book, there will be no peace in the world”.

Samuel Phillips Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order”, Simon & Schuster, 1996.

“Young Islam On Treck: A Study in the Clash of Civilizations”, op cit., page 199.

This appreciation is totally at odds with such writings as astrophysicist Michael H. Heart’s book “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” (Hart Pub. Co, 1978), in which Prophet Muhammad is listed first. Asked why he made this choice, the author answered “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels” (To read more on that subject see: ). Or Karen Armstrong’s “Muhammad: A prophet For Our Time”, Harpers Collins, 2006, in which this renowned author demonstrates that Muhammad’s life—A pivot point in history—has genuine relevance to the global crises we face today.

In Bernard Lewis, “The Roots of Muslim Rage”, The Atlantic, September 1990 issue.

Olive Branch Press, 2001

Showed for the first time in 2007. Watch on:

In his landmark book “Orientalism”, first published in 1978, Edward Said observed: “Taking the late eighteenth century as a very roughly defined starting point Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient—dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient… My contention is that without examining Orientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage—and even produce—the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period. Moreover, so authoritative a position did Orientalism have that I believe no one writing, thinking, or acting on the Orient could do so without taking account of the limitations on thought and action imposed by Orientalism. In brief, because of Orientalism the Orient was not (and is not) a free subject of thought or action… European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self”.

See my analysis titled “The Western Roots of ‘Middle Eastern terrorism”

See his book “The High Priests of War”, American Free Press, Washington, D.C., 2004. For a free download:

“Terrorism Industry: The Experts and Institutes That Shape Our View of Terror”. 

Harry Elmer Barnes (editor), “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: A Critical Examination of the Foreign Policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Its Aftermath”, Caldwell, Idaho, Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1953.

See Center for American Progress report “Fear Inc.: the Roots of Islamophobia Network in America”, 2011; and CAIR’s report “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States”, 2015. 

Robert Spencer is the author of such hateful books as “Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam Is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs” “Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t” and “The Truth about Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion”.

To read the manifesto : 

Eugene Robinson, “Anders Behring Breivik and the influence industry hate”, The Washington Post, July 25, 2011 

Read “The Making of Islamophobia Inc.”, Foreign Policy, March 16, 2017: 

Lamis Andoni, “Bernard Lewis: In the Service of Empire”, The Electronic Intifada, 16 December, 2016.