Yamin Zakaria

Yamin Zakaria

Driven by hate, another homegrown terrorist goes on the rampage – this would have been the headline if Adam Lanza had been called Mohammed Lanza. Similar headlines were seen after the Oklahoma bombings; the media spared not time in tarnishing the Muslims even before the basic facts were known. Like Timothy McVeigh and Anders Breivik, Adam Lanza is also white with Christian heritage. Will the media now scrutinise the link between the ethnicity and religion of these men and the acts of gratuitous violence?

“We need to flatten entire neighbourhoods in Gaza, flatten all of Gaza; the Americans did not stop with Hiroshima, because the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki too” (Gilad Sharon, son of Ariel Sharon, OP Ed in The Jerusalem Post)

“There are no innocents in Gaza.... Turn it into rubble! Paint it red!” (Michael Ben-Ari, Knesset member)


Consider how the West would have reacted, if Iran was behaving like the Israelis. They would not be pleading for restraint; instead there would be an outcry, with threats of military action, and instant UN sanctions imposed. History seems to support the notion that Israel will always get preferential treatment, no matter what it does. Hence, the blatant media bias in the West, combined with the unquestionable vocal support it receives from Westerns leaders. Accordingly, they have simply echoed the Israel propaganda: Hamas started this conflict with their rockets and Israel is merely acting in self-defence.

“We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism” - Barack Obama, Cairo Speech 2009

President Obama has a historic opportunity to demonstrate that the words uttered at the Cairo speech were not the usual rhetoric of a politician seeking popularity and votes, by taking swift action against the few anti-Islamic extremists who produced this satirical, and profoundly offensive, anti-Islamic movie (Innocence of Muslims). And consequentially, endangered the lives of innocent Americans abroad; unfortunately four Americans including the ambassador in Libya have already perished; igniting an emotional issue will generate emotional response with unpredictable consequences.

An open condemnation has to be followed by further actions to show that US government policy will not tolerate crass insults hurled against an entire community, in the same way that the world does not tolerate racial slurs. Hence, the crucial question is - can the US government take the lead in the Western world and demonstrate that it will not continue to allow the propagation of hostility towards Islam and Muslims, behind the pretence of liberalism, or will it continue to submit to the liberal bullies who are waving the hypocritical flag of free speech?

“If Malala had been killed in a drone attack, you would not hear her medical status update, neither would she be called "daughter of the nation"; and neither would the media make a fuss. Neither would General Kiyani come to visit nor would the world media criticise and repeatedly report on it. This I'm afraid is the bitter truth of the matter.” (Author unknown)

Despite being enemies, it seems the Taliban and the Americans have something fundamental in common: intolerance. Both advocate killing innocent people when they do not concur with them; the attempted execution of Malala Yousafzai and the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and his family members have the same underlying theme of intolerance. The Americans want to impose western liberal democracy and the Taliban want to impose a draconian (literal) version of Islamic law where there is no room for differences. What do the ordinary masses want in Pakistan or any other Muslim country? Apart from economic security and political stability, they want a society where there is room for dialogue and discussion - freedom of expression within sensible boundaries.

As for the attempted execution of a 14-year-old girl, a soft target by any standards and no doubt a cowardly act, there are two pertinent issues; the Taliban ideology and the media duplicity.

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