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ISIS and the ‘clash of the civilisations’

If we listen carefully to what the Islamic State (ISIS) and its supporters are saying, we see a vision of the world in a state of ongoing war between the West and Islam. The essence of this war is religion, not colonial policies, as if colonialism has never targeted any other non-Muslim nations and Christians as well. We find a distorted promotion of the saying “clash of the civilisations”, although it ultimately serves military intervention in the region.

The beheadings, especially of Western hostages, are proof of the false “civilisations war”, as the images of ugly beheadings are free publicity for America’s goals, which have mainly adopted Islamophobia to terrorise the Westerners and push them to support the wars covered by the slogan “humanitarian-civilisational intervention”, an intervention that is neither civil nor humane.

The West’s shock at witnessing the crimes committed by ISIS and its counterparts is not devoid of hypocrisy, or, at the very least, great contradiction. What is really shocking to many in the West, especially the governments, are the acts committed against a Westerner, and on some occasions, against a Western ally. The scenes of the children of Gaza’s torn bodies do not provoke the same reaction; the lives of Westerners and Israelis are more valuable than the lives of Arabs.

The West’s hypocrisy greatly impacts the psyche of young Arabs, especially those who are marginalised or who have no hope in change and liberation. In a moment of anger, the lines separating the West and the East become a wall that can only be dealt with by means of fierce confrontation that only knows revenge and utilises an absolute religious decree to engage in a demolition operation of anyone considered to be the “enemy”, including Iraqi soldiers, American journalists, and any group that is outside “the religion”.

Therefore, a vision is lacking due to the programmes of change and as a result of oppressive regimes, thus putting us in the midst of a fake “clash of civilisations” that revives the spirit of colonialism as well as its justifications, theories and hidden immorality under ethical pretexts. These pretexts portray the West as superior to others and portray the other side as beasts that need to be tamed, detained, or killed and nothing more.

The “clash of the civilisations” is an orientalist theory that views the clash of the Arab and Islamic worlds with the Western civilisation as an inevitable result of the “civilisation” gap between the two sides; the “civilised and high-class” West and the “barbaric” East. It uses this distorted logic to justify America’s colonial wars, including the war on terrorism, the bombing of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, and everything in between.

The orientalist historian Bernard Lewis first coined the term “clash of civilisations” to prove that there is no existence of an Arab world, but a group of sects or factions, while Israel has the features and characteristics of a state, and therefore, the Arab world can be dissolved. He was followed by Samuel Huntington, who used the term as the title to his book in which he states that there will be an ongoing clash between the West and Islam in the future.

The goal was to find a new enemy to replace communism in order to justify America’s domination and the arms industry and dealers after the fall of the Soviet Union. The “clash of civilisations” has now become part of the official Western psychology, and a part of the American people and army’s incitement as a part of undermining the humanity of the nations targeted by American wars.

I must remind everyone that the support of “political Islam” as extremism and finding funding for armed groups, was at the heart of American politics and the policies of its Arab allies during the Cold War, and the transition away from this only began after the Soviet Union was weakened and collapsed. The position on Islam is not a position on the religion itself, but on how it is utilised and exploited by the people and regimes to serve the American strategies.

What we are seeing now is not proof of the validity of the “clash of civilisations” theory, but the continuation of the American domination wars and its official allies, as well as the consequences of creating “religious extremist” groups. Although these groups have become an expression of anger, they have also remained as a pretext for the tyranny of regimes and colonial wars, and therefore, all forms of resistance has been demonised and the nations have been paralysed.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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