x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Dispelling wrong ideas about Islam

Some see the controversial project to build an Islamic cultural centre in New York as an opportunity for Muslims to counter the spread of hatred of Islam in the West.

Controversy surrounding the petition to build an Islamic cultural centre in the vicinity of Ground Zero, the site of New York's ill-fated Twin Towers, still rages in the US, reported Mazen Hammad in an article for the Qatari daily Al Watan. After weeks of protests and angry comments by opponents of hate crimes against American Muslims, the Islamic media is still taking part in the argument.

While many around the world are dismayed at the opposition to build the centre, others see the project as an opportunity for Muslims to counter the spread of hatred of Islam in the West and a medium to rectify wrong impressions about their religion. Gulf newspapers have expressed the belief that opposition to the building of the Muslim centre continues to fuel anti-Islamic rhetoric. Various Muslim experts say it is wrong to compare Al Qa'eda's tactics to true Islam.

Various Arab media outlets consider that this is the opportune time to disseminate truths about Islam and American Muslims. Controversy about this $100 million project hasn't ended yet, and Muslims the world over are yearning to dispel deliberate erroneous misconceptions that have been affixed to their faith. Despite the fact that more than two thirds of New Yorkers oppose the building of the centre, Muslims insist on it, as it would be an effective instrument to dissipate faulty ideas about Islam.

The Emirati daily Akhbar Al Arab In its editorial maintained that Washington was wrong to impose sectarian quota principles as a means to apply a "new democracy" in Iraq. Upon invading the country, the US's primary goal was to divide and conquer in such a way that would allow it to rule uncontested for as long as possible. Washington's vision was shortsighted and only benefited narrow interests that did not serve the Iraqi people or the American forces on the long run. Instead of creating a correct and progressive formula for the rule of Iraq through party institutions that transcend sectarian and ethnic differences, the US implemented an archaic and inefficient system that led to disastrous results.

American strategists who devised the sectarian quota formula wanted to govern the country by way of local representatives. This in turn restricted Iraqi politics to sectarian allegiances and the country was divided into various, conflicting factions. Patriotic loyalty regressed to be replaced with sectarian loyalty. As an outcome, the country's largest sect naturally sought the support of outside powers, which the US did not anticipate in their invasion plans. Tehran is strongly present in Iraq today through its sectarian interference in internal Iraqi affairs. This transformed Iraq into a dangerous factional monster at the hands of anti-democratic powers.

In an article for the Lebanese daily Annahar, Ameen Qamurieh commented on the direct negotiations in Washington. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, sat next to each other under the watchful eyes of the Americans. Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams will not be alone. They will be accompanied alternatively by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the Middle East envoy, George Mitchell.

The American duo chaperoning the talks will not serve as mediators, they will be the real negotiators "because the negotiations train was made in the White House and steering it safely to the two-state destination has become a US mission". In any case, direct negotiations wouldn't have been re-launched at all if they were left to the Palestinians and Israelis alone. Abbas, on one hand, would have preferred to wait until Israel offered him initiatives that would help him save face. Netanyahu, on the other hand, was content with the Palestinian division and would have preferred to stay away from the negotiations game that forces him into unwanted diplomatic measures such as freezing settlement activities. Therefore, Washington wouldn't leave the matter to the parties in question since it already knows that they wouldn't reach any positive outcome.

In a comment on the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Qatar and his threats to eradicate Israel in case of an attack on Iran, Tareq Masarwa wrote in the Jordanian daily Al Rai: "Ahmadinejad's speech wasn't addressed directly to Israel. It comes as part of the bargain on Iraq and its long-awaited government."

Saddam Hussein before him had threatened to wipe out half of Israel with chemical weapons should it attack Iraq. However, he later admitted that he wanted his menace to be an ultimatum to Iran. President Ahmadinejad brandished his threats in Qatar and it is likely that he would do the same during his upcoming visit to Lebanon. On one hand, he threatens to eradicate Israel if it attacked, but on the other hand he adds that he doesn't believe that Israel would launch an attack.

In conclusion, there will be no eradication. The man's sole goal is to share the Iraqi government with the Americans. Ayad Allawi, who wants to be Iraq's prime minister, confirmed that he is visiting Damascus, Moscow and Riyadh to have them convince the Iranians that he isn't anti-Tehran, as Tehran is the one hampering the formation of a government in Iraq and is pushing to see Nuri al Maliki as prime minister.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem @Email:rmakarem@thenational.ae