How Much Longer?

How much longer do we have to sit in front of our screens to see nothing but the humiliation of Muslims across the world? Recent happenings in Iraq – from the torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners to the killing of hundreds of civilians in Falluja show us one thing: the US-led war and subsequent occupation of Iraq is a failure.

Not only have the weapons of mass destruction – the existence of which was the very basis of this war – not been found, but even the second ‘reason’, to remove the tyrant Saddam and to bring stability (which perhaps should be defined as ‘installing puppet regimes’) to the region, a reason which was given to us after the war had started and after it had been quite apparent that there were no WMDs in Iraq, has not been actualised. The US military is doing everything but bringing “stability” to Iraq. It is the source of the very disorder that, in its colonial style, it claims it must intervene to prevent.

The Prime Minister, with all dignity, enjoys playing the role of President Bush’s puppy dog. Where did British pride disappear to? At the same time I commend Spain’s Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, for listening to the Spanish public; an act that, although marked as the essence of democracy, is what we wish our very own Prime Minister would do. While thousands have marched London streets in protest against the war in Iraq, Mr Blair stubbornly insists that he will stand “shoulder to shoulder with George Bush.” Where is that democracy that we are led to believe exists in Britain?

Furthermore, where is the freedom of speech that we are told is our right? The moment any major media organisation seems to go ‘against’ the agenda of Mr Blair, their editors and chairpersons are either forced to resign or are dismissed, as of the cases of Gavyn Davies and Greg Dyke from the BBC and Piers Morgan from the Mirror.

Piers Morgan did not even go against the Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice, which stipulates that editors must “take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted material”. Where is the evidence that the Mirror printed the pictures considering them to be inaccurate, misleading or distorted? Even if the pictures are ultimately proven to be false, their publication forced ministers to deal with truths that may otherwise have remained hidden. Is it not in the British public’s interest to know what is being committed by its soldiers?

So this brings us to the question of how much freedom of speech we really do have in Britain. Mr Dyke, the ex-Director General of the BBC, in an interview with the Sunday Times, accused Downing Street of “systematically bullying” and intimidating the BBC over its coverage of the war in Iraq. Compare what we are told by the mainstream British media (which is slightly better than its US counterpart) with what is being told by the media in the Middle East and we will know that there is something dreadfully wrong. Pictures and stories published there are not what are being shown in this country. Although, they are the same incidents that are being described, it is as if two different wars are being talked about. Sufficient to mention is what Dyke wrote in a letter to Tony Blair: “The moment the BBC starts kowtowing to government, you might as well close it down – it’s as simple as that.” It certainly is!

What seem to be apparent are the double standards of such ‘advanced’ or ‘civilised’ leading powers. What is so ‘advanced’ or ‘civilised’ about the following incidents which were depicted in photos published in a US newspaper:
• A prisoner being menaced by a soldier with a dog.
• A naked prisoner who appears to be covered in excrement is paraded down a corridor.
• A hooded detainee is pictured in a state of collapse.
• A US soldier appears to be raining blows down on detainees sprawled on the floor.
A Washington Post report also described a video clip which shows an inmate shackled to a door. He repeatedly slams his head into the metal, leaving streaks of blood, before he ultimately collapses at the feet of the cameraman.

One detainee, named in the report as Ameen Saeed al-Sheik, said he was asked by a soldier whether he believed in anything. “I said to him, ‘I believe in Allah.’ So he said, ‘But I believe in torture and I will torture you.'” He said one soldier struck his broken leg and ordered him to curse Islam. “Because they started to hit my broken leg, I curse my religion,” the paper quoted him as saying. “They ordered me to thank Jesus I’m alive.”

One detainee accused the US troops of repeatedly throwing prisoners’ meals into the toilets and saying, “Eat it.”

Another detainee said that he witnessed a US Army translator raping a boy aged between 15 and 18 at the prison, who shouted in pain. Yet another detainee described several soldiers sodomising another detainee with a phosphoric light.

The Guardian reported one woman’s account of being raped and said that the secret inquiry launched by the US military in January, headed by Major General Antonio Taguba “was entirely and devastatingly accurate”. There were about two thousand photographs taken by US guards inside Abu Ghraib and, according to Taguba’s report, they included images of a US military policeman “having sex” with an Iraqi woman. His report also mentioned that guards videotaped and photographed naked female inmates. There were also photos of Iraqi women forced at gunpoint to bare their breasts.

Civilised? Advanced? Should we not try George Bush for war crimes? US defence officials admitted that in late 2002, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved a request by interrogators to use some techniques that went beyond normal military doctrine. Who should be forced to resign: Davies, Dyke and Morgan, or Bush and Rumsfield?

Let us now take a look at the US foreign policy regarding the Middle East. Israel is known to possess weapons of mass destruction. Should not the Bush regime march into Israel then and wage war against the Israelis? What about the question of UN resolutions? The US repeatedly vetoes UN passing resolutions against Israel.

It is also becoming clearer as time goes by, that an objective – if not the primary
objective – of this war is the subjugation of a potential enemy to the US’s darling
of the Middle East: Israel. The contrast between the US’s behaviour in the UN over the issues of Iraq and Israel/Palestine is ever growing: what is universally condemned as ‘state terrorism by Israel’ is merely ‘self defence’ according to the US and Israel,
while in Iraq the same ‘self defence’ is openly renounced – and punished – as ‘terrorism’.

US soldiers went to Iraq to fight an oppressive leader who had WMDs (which were never found) and who had been oppressing his people. When they were injured or killed they were classed as heroes and martyrs. However, when the Palestinians, who are fighting an oppressive regime in Israel: the only state in the Middle East to have nuclear weapons (WMDs), a regime which is oppressing an occupied people (as attested by numerous UN resolutions); are killed they are labelled as terrorists.

One may well disagree with suicide bombings committed by the Palestinians, but should we not give them a better choice? What other choice do they have? Instead of supporting every movement that Israel makes, perhaps the US’s foreign policy should be rechecked.

This one-sided policy, no doubt, has forced some Muslims to go to extremes. Some have taken on so-called ‘terrorist’ viewpoints while others are trapped into making humiliating apologetic statements, saying sorry for the ‘terrorism’ that is attributed to some (other) Muslims, usually before any evidence has been found! Since when did every Irish person have to apologise for the actions of the IRA or every American for the actions of their army in Iraq?

We condemn all terrorism; ‘all’ being the operative word that seems to be forgotten in the midst of double standards. We not only condemn the killing of innocent civilians by a few individuals who happen to belong to the religion of Islam, but we also condemn the state-sponsored terrorism carried out by the US all over the world, along with our condemnation of Israel’s state-sponsored terrorism in Palestine. We must, however, recognise that it is not possible for a parallel to be drawn between the perverse actions of the US and Israeli armies, and acts of desperation by some Palestinians against their attackers.

It is ironic that Israel recently tried and found guilty a Palestinian leader, Marwan Barghouti, for organising four suicide attacks, three of them successful, which led to the deaths of four Israelis and a Greek Orthodox monk. Why give Barghouti a trial when assassination is the policy of the day? Ahmad Yasin, Rantissi, and the countless innocent civilians murdered by Israel are cited as an example.

The time has come to end the lies and deception of our governments and the media. It is time for the British public to know the truth.

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