Raja G. Mujtaba says that Muslims should put aside denominational and sectarian conflicts, get united and resist the Western propaganda: "we have to display our higher cultural, social and ethical values. We have to show more respect for brother Muslims and sisters. We need to be fair, upright and just in our dealings. We need to defeat the West through our conduct."
Following the release of the anti-Islam movie "Innocence of Muslims" produced by Israeli-American filmmaker Sam Bacile, Fars News Agency conducted an interview with Muslim journalist and chief editor of the Opinion Maker website, Raja G. Mujtaba, to discuss with him the motives behind the production of this offensive movie and the ways through which the Muslim community should show its dismay and dissatisfaction with such provocative moves.
What follows is the text of Fars News Agency's interview with Pakistani journalist and former army officer Raja G. Mujtaba.
Q: Why have the enemies of Islam targeted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) such virulently? In 2005, the Danish paper Jylland-Posten aroused international controversy by publishing insulting cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, and now, the Western propaganda machinery is once again reviling the Prophet. What's your idea?
A: West knows it very clearly that we the Muslims hold our Prophet in very high esteem. To us his honor and respect is more important than our life. They feel and rightly so that by raising controversies about our Prophet (PBUH) they would be able to provoke us and then based on our reaction they would tarnish us as extremists. Thus they feel they would be able to achieve their objectives.
Q: It's very unimaginable that the Western states punish the offenders by holding them accountable, because derailing and weakening Islam is one of their tacit policies. Do you agree?
A: yes, I agree. They are working to make us a godless society, the same way they have done in the West and this would never be possible. A Muslim, no matter how weak he may be in his faith, becomes very emotional when Islam is attacked.
Q: As you mentioned, the Western powers want to portray Muslims as extremists by provoking their anger. How should the Muslims respond to these provocations? What should the Islamic Ummah do in order to confront these threats?
A: Muslim Ummah first of all should resolve their own differences and stop hating each other on the basis of sects, and just behave and live like Muslim fraternity. After having done this, they should evolve a joint strategy to encounter such attacks or maybe even physical wars. In its absence, Muslims would fail miserably.
Q: How do you see the reaction of Pakistani Muslims to the sacrilegious movie? How did the intellectual circles and Pakistani media react to this movie?
A: Pakistanis are as emotional about Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as any other Muslim around the world is. They are mounting pressure on the government and want to attack the American interests here. If the American government does not take a remedial action at home, even the US can burn in its fire.
Q: But the American officials have not signaled that they're willing to legally prosecute the anti-Islam filmmaker?
A: There are millions of Muslims within the US. They can react very violently.
Q: The US officials and media say that according to the principle of free speech, everybody is free to say whatever he wishes, so insulting a religion cannot be considered illegal. What's your idea?
A: Attacking a religion is freedom of speech, how if someone attacks holocaust? Freedom of speech is an excuse where they want to get away from a responsibility. Why are they detaining that American soldier who spoke out against the war in Afghanistan? Why is he not being released? Does he not enjoy that freedom of speech? The US applies the law selectively where it suits her.
Q: The US media have always tried to portray Islam as an oppressive religion and pretend that Muslims are backward and uncultured people. How is it possible to confront these biased depictions?
A: we have to display our higher cultural, social and ethical values. We have to show more respect for brother Muslims and sisters. We need to be fair, upright and just in our dealings.
We need to defeat the West through our conduct.
Q: The United States government officials say that they respect all religions and value religious diversity, but when it comes to Islam, they resort to double standards and don't protect the rights of Muslims. Why is it so?
A: Islam is the only religion that is a direct threat to capitalism. They know that Islam has a very different and humane system of working. If that finds roots in the ground then capitalism and Zionism will have no chance to survive. So basically it's a battle of their survival against Islamic ideology, hence they would never support Islam.
Q: Muslims in the West are facing different restrictions, in finding employment, in their selection of Islamic dressing, and in different domains. At the same time, the Muslim population is increasingly growing in the West. Do you see chances of their problems being solved?
A: Not as long as Muslims do not come into mainstream politics. They must come as a united force and not divided into smaller groups and communities. Muslims would need to display a very mature approach and rise above petty things.
Q: The anti-Islam movie was released on the anniversary of 9/11 attacks. Do you see any significance in this? Overall, what do you think about the contribution of 9/11 attacks to the rise of Islamophobic sentiments in the West?
A: 9/11 has been the watershed of American morality. Today, the US stands exposed before the entire world and so does the UK and other NATO members. But irony is that there is no country strong enough to take them to task. Almost all Muslim countries have their disputes and problems that has caused huge trust deficit between them. There has to be some supra body that can resolve these issues. Only then the Muslims would be able to press for war crimes against such countries but the West, i.e. US and the UK are not letting the Muslim countries unite and the Muslim world leaders are playing in their hands. Today, Saudi Arabia alone has over 3 trillion dollars in the US economy, if that money is pulled out, see what happens.
Q: The United States and its European allies have invested a lot in empowering and strengthening anti-Islam movements and initiatives. There are tens of neo-conservative think tanks at work which are funded by the US government agencies to stage propaganda against Islam and Muslim countries. Is there any way to confront them?
A: strengthen and develop your own think tanks and those who tow the Western lines, throw them out. You will have to have strict control over the fifth columnists within the Muslim society.
The Muslim world needs to develop a very high and capable scholarship and intellect to counter the Western propaganda. At the same time, develop a very advanced electronic and cyber media.
People employed in the media should be well versed with Islam and its tenants. Only then you can see light at the end of the tunnel. Also it must be a coordinated effort of the Muslim states.
A central body should be created if need be to do so
Q: Are the United States and its European allies popular among the Muslims? Through insulting the religious beliefs and sensitivities of the Muslims, they are drawing condemnation and anger from the Muslim world. What's your idea?
A: If they continue to indulge in such practices, then even the moderate and liberal Muslims would also turn against them. As it's already that the US graph is rapidly losing ground in almost all the Muslim countries and they feel that they can continue like this which is wrong.
Through their military might, they maybe able to destroy our lands but would never be able to break the will of the people.
* Raja G. Mujtaba is a Pakistani journalist, former army officer and current editor of the Opinion Maker news and analysis website. His articles and writings have appeared
on Veterans Today and Pakistani papers such as Insaf and The Nation.
Interview by Kourosh Ziabari