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Bhutto Assassinated - Hope for democracy mortally wounded

12/27/2007

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated during a campaign rally, Thursday, December 27. A Jihadist terrorist shot her in the neck and chest as she was getting into her car to leave a rally in Rawalpindi, and then blew himself up, killing 20 others. Her supporters shouted "Dog Musharraf," blaming the Pakistani leader for the assassination, rather than the Islamists.

Two days ago, Bhutto had pledged again, perhaps too insistently, that she would fight extremists. In Pakistan as in Afghanistan, as in Iraq as in Lebanon as in the Palestinian territories, it seems that in Islamist "democracy," comrade Kalashnikov's invention (the AK-47 assault rifle), the suicide bombers and the their allies are winning the "war for hearts and minds" by murdering people.

Thus far, nobody has outlined a realistic policy for dealing with the spreading problem of Islamist extremism, though it should be becoming clear that it threatens to engulf all of us. On the one hand, repressive regimes like that of Pervez Musharraf disallow all manner of legitimate protest or democratic dissent. The only opposition that can survive takes refuge in the mosques and is defended as "religion." Indeed, in countries such as Syria and Egypt, Islamist extremism is virtually the only tolerated form of dissent, provided that the terror tactics and hate are not turned against the government itself. It is very likely that Pervez Musharraf will now reinstate the state of emergency that was lifted under Western pressure. Pakistan will see many more sad days - repression and violence beget more repression and more violence. No doubt, the suspicion will grow that Musharraf engineered this assassination as an excuse to perpetuate his own rule. The possibility cannot be ruled out. But Musharraf did not invent the Islamists and he could not have conjured them from nowhere. The blame must be put where it belongs.

On the other hand, the extremists are able to grow and prosper because they are supported by a vast network of passive support. In both Muslim and Western societies they are given legitimacy because they are supposedly fighting "oppression" and "occupation." The extremist madrassahs that breed this violent hatred are financed by petrodollars that come from Gulf countries, ostensibly allies in the "War against terror." Both Western and Muslim news media call the Islamist extremist murderers "fighters" and "gunman" and "militants" -- anything but terrorist criminals. When they are killed, Muslim media describe them as "martyred." Their victims are rarely described in those terms.

The most respected "experts" in the West continue to insist, against the evidence, that the Jihadists will inevitably become "democratic" if they are coopted into the system. In the Palestinian territories, the experiment was a disaster. Hamas finalized their ballot box victory by murdering the opposition. In Lebanon, the Hezbollah, having gotten a percentage of the vote, are now paralyzing the country and murdering opposition politicians one at a time until they have a majority and can elect a president of their own choosing. Democracy and guns in the hands of militias don't mix. Democracy doesn't stand a chance against c-4 explosives. In Turkey, it is true that a moderate party that espouses Islamic values has taken over the government successfully. But the AKP did not arise out of murderous extremist groups and was never part of the militant Islamist movement. The Turkish-Islamic reformist tradition has deep and genuine roots in the Ottoman reform movement and evolved separately from the Salafist extremists. And we should not forget that the story of Turkey is not complete yet.

It is considered very bad form to raise the least doubts about the received wisdom of engaging extremists, of believing in their eventual evolution to democracy and of "understanding the causes" of terror. Anyone who questions this wisdom, of whatever creed or political persuasion, is quickly branded a neocon Zionist Islamophobe. Fuad Ajami and Sheikh Palazzi are now honorary "neocon Zionist" Jews I suppose, and so are the editors of as Sharq al Awsat. The real causes of the terror are easy availability of explosives, assault rifles and inflammatory and evil education and the relative tolerance of extremist doctrines that are given immunity by laws of free speech or respect for religion. Study after study shows that the terrorists are not the impoverished wretched of the earth, but rather include a disproportionate number of the educated and affluent. Poor folks are too busy making a living.

All those "decent" folk of whatever creed, wherever they are, who apologize for Islamist terror, who insist on "engaging" and "coopting" and justifying these murderers, should understand that Benazir Bhutto was a martyr for them, for us, for our freedom. If we do not wake up and fight this menace together, we shall all meet her fate or be enslaved by them. The Islamist extremists declare that they are not interested in compromise or mercy or democracy in the terms that ordinary people understand it. Democracy for them means that you will be convinced, by the barrel of a gun, that their way is right, and then you will vote for it by consensus. You can have a choice of which Islamist candidate to support. There is nothing to discuss with these people except disarming and re-educating them.

It is time to understand. The apologists for terror and those who look the other way, and those who fund "educational charities" that teach hatred and perpetuate ignorance and xenophobia are not friends of Islam or friends of the poor people of Asia. They are not fighting to end any occupation or oppose any tyranny, but rather to impose a dark tyranny on all of us.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000662.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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