Muslim Men and the Roots of Anger
By: Salim Mansur
National Post | Friday, August 01, 2008
Before resting its recent case against Mohammed Momin Khawaja under
Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act, the prosecution presented Momin’s former
fiancée, Zeba Khan, as the final witness via a video link from Dubai.
Ms. Khan reportedly stated in her testimony: “You will not meet a young
Muslim man in the world who is not angry about something. Anyone who
watches the news, if he wasn’t mad then, a) there’s something wrong
with him, or b) he’s ignorant.”
Obviously, not all angry young
Muslim men are engaging in violence — nor, of course, are all Muslims
terrorists. But many terrorists are found to be Muslims. Ms. Khan’s
remark purports to explain the linkage.
It is perhaps no
coincidence that Mr. Khawaja has Pakistani roots. In recent years,
Pakistan has become a haven for al-Qaeda terrorists. For longer than
that, jihadis have recruited Pakistani boys and men to fight in Kashmir
and Afghanistan. These brainwashed men may be volunteers headed out to
fight infidel “invaders” and “occupiers” of Muslim lands, but it cannot
be said that they are acting entirely on their own initiative.
Muslims are responding to the political values and religious ideology
promoted and financed by influential radicals. These values — reflected
in Ms. Khan’s comment — provide the framework for the wider political
discourse in Pakistan and across much of the Arab-Muslim world, as well.
know Pakistani society quite intimately from studying and living among
the Pakistani people. The Pakistani culture is based on collective
loyalty to faith, history and politics. This makes it difficult for the
country to keep up with the demands of the modern world.
also travelled in various other Muslim nations — from Algeria to
Indonesia. Many of these societies, I’ve come to understand, are
essentially failed states. Their cultures are mostly closed,
authoritarian and patriarchal. While Muslim men of all ages can be
genuinely friendly to strangers, theirs is a culture of boasting and
But when one engages them individually
(especially younger men) in polite discussions of politics and history
— even in a place such as Qom, Iran, whose most famous product is the
late Ayatollah Khomeini — the mask falls and there is much sorrow
expressed over how greatly the Muslim world has degenerated into a
pathetic shadow of its past.
What is privately admitted cannot
be publicly affirmed or discussed. The character of Muslim society is
exemplified by the mosque culture, whereby the authority of the man on
the pulpit is final and public dissent is disallowed.
inside of homes, most discussions flow in one direction from the
patriarchal centre of power and influence downwards. Any critical
review or independent examination of controversial subjects is frowned
upon, if not repressed. Anger in such circumstances is mostly an effect
of the pent-up resentment bred of life in a society without any sort of
Khawaja Momin’s former fiancée is likely just as
immersed in this culture as are the angry young Muslim men she speaks
of. These men are their parents’ “jewels,” and given special care by
mothers as their future protectors in a male-dominant society — while
their fathers and imams angrily condemn the world around them for
corrupting their faith and way of living.
This culture has been
exported to Muslim immigrant enclaves in the West, including parts of
our own country. In a very revealing book, The Islamist, Ed Husain — a
former jihadi born and raised in Britain by parents from Bangladesh —
discusses the culture of such enclaves in the making of angry young
Muslim men. In the end, some head out to kill innocent civilians, as
did the 2005 London suicide bombers.
This sort of disaster has not
happened in Canada — yet. But it may, if we are not careful to monitor
the rise of radicalism amongst the likes of Mohammed Momin Khawaja.
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