In a meeting held last week by a significant establishment in Turkey, an officer from the Commonwealth of Independent States offered a crucial analysis of Muslim countries worldwide: "The world's keeping silent in the face of the persecution inflicted on leaders and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which first came to power with the Arab Spring and was then overthrown by a military coup, encourages all powers that are hostile to Islam. The example of Egypt, according to these power-holders, proves that the world will always keep silent in the face of persecution of Islamic political actors."
In its very beginning, Western colonialism pursued two major objectives. While Muslim countries were one of its primary targets through military occupation, negation of Islamic theses and waging war on Islamic truth itself constituted the latent side of Western colonialism. The former is known as colonialism, the latter as cultural imperialism. Western hegemony succeeded in both respects.
After the end of World War I, while the Ottomans left the stage of history, almost no single piece of land was left unoccupied in the Islamic world. The process of Western colonialism of the Muslim world, which was launched with the occupation of India, reached its zenith with the occupation of Istanbul, the last remaining stronghold of Islam.
While Western imperialism was carrying out all these military occupations, it also promoted a particular orientalist thesis, which was the result of the Enlightenment's replacement of religion with positive science, both in Europe and among the Muslim intelligentsia emerging from colonial cultures that reconstruct Islam as a "barrier toward progress and development." Thus, while Western forces struggled to eliminate Islamic truth, Muslim governors all around the world endeavored to isolate society from religion.
In the wars of independence in the 1940s and 1950s, all Muslim countries gained independence one by one against the colonial forces led by the U.K. Yet, regarding the cultural imperialism that was going on beyond territorial independence, the leaders of Islamic countries had become the very agents of Western colonialism that pursued the principles of cultural imperialism in lieu of Western political actors.
Due to Palestinian resistance against the establishment of Israel and the oil embargo of the 1970s, the West discovered a new discourse of the "Arab terrorist." Muslim youths who were defending their lands were therefore announced to the world as the new evil of the world. Yet, the demonization of Muslims entered a new phase after the Iranian revolution. During the revolution, the figures of hanged generals remained the favorite images of the Western media, while the concept of an Islamic revolution has served the function for the West to scare the world with the new "Islamic threat."
In Afghanistan, however, the people defending their motherland against Soviet occupation were reconstructed as "heroic mujahids" until religious dynamics turned against the U.S. and the new term "global Muslim terrorist" was introduced by the sudden emergence of the Taliban and al-Qaida. The process of demonization of Islam reached its zenith.
The final blow of the colonial empire against Islam was recently made through the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The emergence of such a cruel organization has framed a particular global perception of Islam that corresponds to the anti-Semitism of the Middle Ages. Muslims are now reconstructed as "barbarous creatures" who deserve cruelty, occupation and punishment.
Today, Muslims face the greatest degree a cultural imperialism and worldwide hostility toward their religion and thus, their existence. The ongoing exclusion, degradation and prohibition of Muslims might conclude with a usurpation of their fundamental rights and freedoms. It is not necessary to be a Muslim living in Turkey in order to grasp the world's conjecture turning against Muslims.
About the author
İhsan Aktaş is Chairman of the Board of GENAR Research Company. He is an academic at the Department of Communication at Istanbul Medipol University.