The point has been made and ignored many times before, yet bears repeating: almost every single perpetrator of Islamist terrorism in western countries has explicitly cited western foreign policy as their major motivation. While religious fundamentalism – or any other extremist, militant ideology—certainly provides a language through which to express such opposition, denial of this basic political fact is either disingenuous or deluded.
The Boston Bomber, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, and the killer of Lee Rigby, Michael Adebolajo, provided two of the clearest of such articulations. While hiding in a boat, the former scrawled a message, the opening and closing lines of which read:
“The US Government is killing our innocent civilians but most of you already know that…Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”
Similarly, after Rigby’s murder, Adebolajo told the court:
“It was the Iraq war that affected me the most…I saw ‘Operation Shock and Awe’ and it disgusted me. The way it was reported was as if it was praiseworthy, saying ‘look at the might and awe of the West and America’. Every one of those bombs was killing people.”
…We are involved not in a “clash of values”, even less a “clash of civilisations”: the Charlie Hebdo massacre was merely the latest round in what Gilbert Achcar has termed “the clash of barbarisms”, within which western societies, by any objective measure, suffer by far the lesser trauma…
…Race has no genetic or biological basis. It is a social construct and all racisms work by attaching social prejudices to a particular group, for whom skin colour is at most an external identity marker. As such, although it is true that “Islam is not a race”, Islamophobia is as racist as anti-Semitism—indeed, the two forms of hatred share a common genealogy, with Jews and Muslims historically demonised side-by-side and in similar terms in western legal, cultural and politico-philosophical discourse…
Duncan Thomas has written widely about contemporary politics in the Middle East, covering post-invasion Iraq, the emergence of the Islamic State, state-society relations in Syria and creative resistance in Iran. A graduate in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, he maintains a blog at rearwindow.me.
Not even a Muslim himself! A true fellow-traveller: he must have gone native during his travels abroad. I am not bothering to provide a link to his blog; interested readers can find at the link.