MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Two cases of bigotry this week and two unsatisfactory recantations.
Both were forced to "explain" their remarks and apologize. They didn't mean it really, they are not bigotted people and all the usual excuses. The truth is, that they did mean it . They just don't see themselves as particularly prejudiced or bigoted, because where they come from, everyone thinks like that.
Prejudice and bigotry are determined by the norms of society. One hundred years ago, it was normal in European and American society to talk of Jews as sly and pushy, and it was normal in the United States to consider that Africans and other non-white people are "inferior" - less intelligent, lazier and less creative than "white" persons. Those views were held by respectable people - novelists, anthropologists and philosophers.
Times have changed for Jews and Africans in the USA, but bigotry against Muslims or Jews is still "OK" in certain circles in the United States, and bigotry against Jews is the respected norm in many Muslim countries. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly at all, nobody in the Arab or Muslim world seems to have found anything wrong with Mohamed's remarks. Even the Egyptian government, supposedly at peace with Israel, did not see anything anti-Semitic in remarks that deplored the fact that Hitler did not succeed in killing the Jews, and asserted that Jews control the world.
There is not much anyone outside of Malaysia (or in Malaysia for that matter) can do about Mahathir Mohamed, though Muslim countries can chose a different leader. A European move to censure Mohamed for his remarks was predictably blocked by French President Chirac, ever-ready to appease Muslims. Instead, Italian PM Berlusconi read a statement condemning Mahathir Mohamed's remarks. That is a bit unfortunate, since Belusconi himself made some highly anti-Islamic remarks at one time.
There is a lot that can be done about General Boykin, since generals are forbidden from making political statements of any kind, and certainly are not supposed to go about making racist statements, but the Pentagon and the US Army have thus far refrained from more than weak verbal criticism of Boykin's remarks, which were made in full dress uniform.
Last Update: 17/10/2003 12:43
World reaction to Malaysian PM comments on Jews
By The Associated Press
Reactions by world leaders to comments about Jews
by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at a
summit of Islamic nations in Malaysia.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar
Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Eqyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher
Somalian President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan
Yemen Foreign Minister Abubakar al-Qirbi
U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini
German Foreign Ministry
Australian Prime Minister John Howard
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan
Repeated assertions of Jewish
"I'm sorry that they have misunderstood the
Syed Hamid said the world's Muslims were in a
The perception is widespread in the Islamic
"The ones who are facing all the problems at
On Thursday, Mahathir, a respected leader in the
"They survived 2,000 years of pogroms not by
Mahathir said the world's "1.3 billion Muslims
"In today's world, we wield a lot of political,
The speech drew a standing ovation from the
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President
Many focused more on the aspects of the speech
"This was a pep talk to the Muslim countries for
Karzai, asked by The Associated Press whether he
"Dr. Mahathir spoke of the inhibitions within
"I don't think they were anti-Semitic at all,"
It wasn't seen that way in Washington or Europe.
The leaders of the European Union, meeting in
"The prime minister used expressions that were
The German Foreign Ministry denounced the
"It was made clear to (him) that repeating such
Malaysia is one of the world's most successful
Mahathir has locked up terror suspects without
The Malay Muslim ethnic majority generally lives
EU 'strongly deplores' Malaysian PM's remarks on Jews
The European Union on Friday released a statement
After a move by French President
Backed by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis,
The draft by foreign ministers Thursday night
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told
But when the paper was handed to EU leaders
The leaders then compromised by having Italian
The French Embassy in Israel issued a statement
Officials said the draft text also would be
Berlusconi told reporters Mahathir's comments
"All of our efforts must go toward a dialogue
Malaysian PM refuses to back down on remarks
"Lots of people make nasty statements about us,
"People make such statements, and they seem to
In his speech, Mahathir used allegations of
Mahathir said Muslims had achieved "nothing" in
Mahathir, 77, a senior statesmen in the
The United States, Canada, the European Union,
U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli
Britain summoned Malaysia's top diplomat in
But Mahathir was unapologetic - stressing that
"What I said in my speech is that we should stop
But since Israel was established a half-century
Mahathir said most European leaders - in which
U.S. General says he's not "anti-Islam"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior Pentagon intelligence officer, under fire for his comments about Islam, says he is "neither a zealot nor an extremist" and apologised to those offended by his statements but did not take back any of his remarks.
Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin, whose comments at churches and prayer breakfasts cast the U.S. war on terrorism in starkly religious terms, sought to explain comments including one that Muslims worship an "idol" and said he was not "anti-Islam."
Democratic lawmakers, including presidential candidates Sens. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, criticised Boykin's remarks and chastised President George W. Bush and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for failing to criticise the general. And a Saudi diplomat called Boykin's remarks "outrageous."
A statement released late on Friday by the Pentagon public affairs office represented Boykin's first attempt to publicly explain himself since his remarks came to light this week.
He did not address his future, but Defence officials said he had no plans to quit. The officials also said he planned to "tone down" his remarks. One official said, "I would not expect him to engage in those sorts of speaking engagements in the future."
"I am neither a zealot nor an extremist. Only a soldier who has an abiding faith," said Boykin, deputy undersecretary of Defence for intelligence and war-fighting support.
"I do believe that radical extremists have tried to use Islam as a cause for attacks on America," he said. "As I have stated before, they are not true followers of Islam.
"In my view they are simply terrorists, much like the so-called 'Christians' of the white supremacy groups, or extremist (sic) of any faith," Boykin said.
"I am not anti-Islam or any other religion," he added. "I support the free exercise of all religions. For those who have been offended by my statements, I offer a sincere apology."
NBC News this week broadcast videotapes of Boykin, an evangelical Christian, giving speeches while wearing his Army uniform at various Christian functions.
He portrayed the U.S. battle with Islamic radicals as a clash with "Satan," saying they sought to destroy America "because we're a Christian nation."
In one speech, Boykin recalled a Muslim fighter in Somalia who said U.S. forces would never get him because Allah would give him protection. "Well, you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol," Boykin told his audience.
In his statement, Boykin said his comments about that Muslim fighter "were not referencing his worship of Allah but his worship of money and power; idolatry. He was a corrupt man, not a follower of Islam."
Boykin added, "My references to Judeo-Christian roots in America or our nation as a Christian nation are historically undeniable." He also said he defends the right of every American to worship "as he or she chooses." He also said he was an invited guest speaker at churches.
"I have frequently stated that I do not see this current conflict as a war between Islam and Christianity. I have asked American Christian audiences to realise that even though they cannot be in Iraq or Afghanistan, they can be part of this war by praying for America and its leaders," he said.
Lieberman called on Bush to condemn Boykin's "hateful remarks." Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan said "it is outrageous that someone who holds such extreme, closed-minded, zealous views would be allowed such a prominent position in our military."
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Replies: 2 comments
You are comparing apples and oranges. One general, not a leader of his country or his religion, makes a statement. Then you are comparing this to a statement made & applauded by leaders of Islamic countries at an Islamic conference (that is what they themselves called it). So these are the top guys of Islamic countries and have a lot more responsibility than one general. America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and that is what part of what makes us great, the other is separation of church and state. Do you think the US president would go to a conference of Christian countries?!! Sorry, but don't tell me Islam is a religion of peace, the Moslems are involved with persecution of Christians all over the globe. Every time Bush bleats that I just cringe. Now you will tell me I'm a bigot but I'm stating facts here.
Posted by An American @ 10/21/2003 02:14 AM CST
Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 10/29/2003 02:00 AM CST
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