April 30, 2006

Fearing Crusade In Qatar

I took a look at Al Jazeera's arabic version via Google's beta Arabic translator today. Oh boy. While the translations still have a way to go, sentence structure variations clearly still a big hurdle, there was one translated article whose meaning couldn't be missed. (Note: I don't think it's a big leap to presume that the island referred to in the article is the Al Jazeera home base of Qatar. Though apparently it refers to the Al Jazeera name itself, which translates to 'the island.')

The majority of a crusade based on the Islamic world

Approved by an overwhelming majority in a referendum on the island's location on the Net to see al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. that the Islamic world is facing a crusade.

The referendum, which was shown over the three days with effect from 25 April to 82.8% of the participants, numbering 56897 agree with the vision of bin Laden. While the 17.2% disagreed with this view.

The diagnosis of Bin Laden being in the Islamic world as a crusade based on sound recording broadcast by the island on 24 instant. Turning through the manifestations of culture and information considered evidence of the Western cultural invasion against Arabs and Muslims. ...

It's a fair bet that a lot of Al Jazeera's readers are from Qatar. Qatar is a fairly modern Arab state that allowed women to vote in 1999 and elected the first female minister in 2003. They have a parliamentary system not unlike those of European nations, though the ruling Emir as a head of state has far more power than his U.K. counterpart, and a recently adopted constitution guaranteeing equal rights under the law, freedom of religion, non-discrimination & etc. (For the & etc., skip down to Chapter 3, Article 34) It may be the case that some of the bold language of their constitution is respected more in theory than practice, but for all that, they are among the more benign countries in the region. Concerning others who voted in the poll, the bulk of them are unlikely to come from blasted Afghanistan or an Iraqi populace lucky to get a handful of hours of electricity per day.

So what does it say when a poll of al Jazeera's online readers show over 80% of them think that they are living through an era of crusade against Muslims?

I don't agree with their opinion. I have a feeling that if the bulk of our oil was under East Asia, the world's Buddhists might well be wondering if we really had it in for them, instead. But things didn't work out that way, and it isn't the issue.

A wealthy, mostly uninvaded, literate segment of society in the Middle East believes that the west is engaged in a crusade with their culture. If the struggle for hearts and minds is lost with them, how can it be won in Iraq or Afghanistan? No matter who has the truth of it, the Muslim world has a fundamentally different interpretation of the events surrounding the western dominance of global affairs.

Robert Fisk reports on another aspect of this difference in opinion, sharing the Syrian and Iraqi view of what the U.S. is really trying to do in Iraq, with stories that aren't going to get any press credence in the U.S. anytime soon even if they came with proof straight from the hand of God.

Update: edited for content.

Posted by natasha at April 30, 2006 08:06 PM | International | Technorati links |