Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fouad Ajami on Bigotry

I wrote about bigotry in the Middle East here. But Fouad Ajami is much more cogent and far more eloquent on the subject (hat tip to Austin Bay). I love the title, especially the tagline, "Heart of Darkness: From Zarqawi to the man on the street, Sunni Arabs fear Shiite emancipation." An sample of anti-Shiite bigotry:
Nor ought we be taken in by warnings from Jordan, made by King Abdullah II, of a "Shia crescent" spanning Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This is a piece of bigotry and simplification unworthy of a Hashemite ruler, for in the scheme of Arab history the Hashemites have been possessed of moderation and tolerance. Of all Sunni Arab rulers, the Hashemites have been particularly close to the Shiites, but popular opinion in Jordan has been thoroughly infatuated with Saddam Hussein, and Saddamism, and an inexperienced ruler must have reasoned that the Shiite bogey would play well at home.
Ajami even mention Western's complicity is this bigotry.
[...]And America, at times ambivalent about its mission, brought along with its military gear a suspicion of the Shiites, a belief that the Iraqi Shiites were an extension of Iran, a community destined to build a sister-republic of the Iranian theocracy. Washington has its cadre of Arabists reared on Arab nationalist historiography. This camp had a seat at the table, but the very scale of what was at play in Iraq, and the redemptionism at the heart of George Bush's ideology, dwarfed them.
It is an excellent essay. Go read the whole thing.


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