Free people

Can we expect General Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, to say, “Pakistan’s army is an Islamic army”? Can he elaborate the theme in the following words: “We are hated because we are Muslims, a nation of believers. Those who clearly lied and deceived the world to invade and occupy two Muslim countries and who actively support Israel’s never ending occupation and repression will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Allah. We in the army of Allah, in the kingdom of Allah, have been raised for such a time as this.”

The answer is, No. Musharraf can never say so, nor can any Chief of any armed forces in the Muslim world for that matter. They cannot say so, we may say, because they are not extremists. But so is not the senior Pentagon intelligence official who has called the US military “a Christian army” and refused to withdraw his comments.

If the present Muslim rulers cannot claim that they are appointed by Allah in those positions and they have the duty to end direct and indirect occupation of their countries and relieve oppressed Muslims from the clutches of tyranny, it is not that they are tyrants themselves, or they are not extremists. Lieutenant General William Boykin, an evangelical Christian, too, claims he is “neither a zealot nor an extremist, only a soldier who has an abiding faith.”

What then makes the difference? Does it mean that Muslim leaders and Chiefs of armed forces have no “abiding faith” which may enable them to make such comments?

They may not be extremists. They may have abiding faith as well. However, the simple reason they cannot make such bold statements or get into action against injustice is clearly underlined by Donald Rumsfeld, who needs full appreciation for his candid talk when he addresses his duped subjects.

Responding to Muslim critics of William Boykin remarks Rumsfeld highlighted that these are the “views” of “the people in the military, or in civilian life, or in the Congress, or in the Executive Branch.” The clear message comes in the last sentence: “That are their views. That’s the way we live. We are a free people.”

Muslims need to take a lesson from these honest words. They must stop criticising American military and political leadership for saying what they really deserve. They “are a free people” indeed.

Complains after wilful surrender and inaction does not make any sense. Those who have surrendered their freedom; assisted American leaders in developing ruses for invasions; those who physically supported an invisible genocide of Iraqi people for more than a decade and then provided all logistic support for the final bloodletting of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, do not deserve to condemn what the American leadership truly believe.

Personal belief is personal belief. Stating it in private or in public, or not stating it at all, is irrelevant. Your actions speak volumes of your belief. And that is what matters. If Muslims or their non-Muslim sympathisers failed to stop unjust actions of American leadership, it would make little difference if they force them not to state their inner conviction.

Is shutting up –” Bush from saying he is an appointee of God, or his lieutenants from saying, they are an army of God on a mission against idol worshipers –” a solution to ending the ongoing US Israeli occupations and pervasive injustice in their foreign policy at all levels? If they shut up, will that bring a change in their attitude and actions as well?

If the answer is negative, it means making an issue of their remarks about Muslims is of no use at all. As a “free” person, Mr. Boykin has already refused to withdraw his comments and his team-members have fully supported him.

One has to be “free” to mind or make such comments. Muslims’ job at the moment seems not to mind these petty issues. Rather they are busy learning how to tolerate every injustice with a smile. That is the “enlightened moderation,” the education to live happily as subjects of “free” people and worry only about their bread and butter. As long as you get it, don’t bother about religion, dignity or freedom.

These are luxuries, a free people can afford. As a subject publicly saying you have an “abiding faith” makes you an extremist right away. However, as a “free people” you have the right to publicly pray in the White House, visit religious gathering in military uniform and wage your wars in the name of religion and God.

As a subject, however, you have to learn “enlightened moderation,” keeping your religion in a closet not because it will adversely affect your public life, but a lesson from it might threaten freedom of the “free people” if you come to learn that it calls for resistance to injustice, occupations and oppression.

Until Muslims learn this lesson, until they themselves are free, they are not in a position to tell the truth let alone criticising Bush, his team and their allies for their words or deeds. Unable to tell as it is, they better heartily appreciate Bush and his team, whose actions might remind them of the lesson they want to ignore through learning new philosophies of moderation –” the core of which is nothing but learning and teaching submission to injustice.

It only takes free people to criticise free people; oppressed need only concentrate on liberation. Resignation of one or all oppressors or their apology is not a key to liberation from a system that oppresses. This reality makes everyone oppressed except a few thousand “free” who keep the system alive at home and abroad.