By M D Nalapat
Despite much talk of "universal" values, to this day the West has adopted separate scales for judging its own behavior towards the Muslim community and the treatment of non-Muslims in countries that are as overwhelmingly Muslim as the UK, France or Germany are Christian. Without exception, minorities who are not of European origin in such countries are subjected to practices different from those applied to the Muslim majority. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for instance, compensation paid to a Muslim male is double that given to a non-Muslim male, with women of course getting far less than their male counterparts. Even in Malaysia, where only a little over half the population is Muslim, food items not regarded by the Ulema (clergy) are banned from shop shelves, while in several countries, there is a ban on the following of any other than the prescribed dress code, or on consuming alcohol. Of course, such restraints exist mostly on paper, as in the privacy of their homes or safe zones, deportment and consumption of items are little different from that witnessed in those parts of London or Paris where Muslim (or more accurately, Wahhabi) influence is negligible. The reality is that the Wahhabi fringe controls policy in the Muslim world because of its directness and potency, in much the same way as the Bolshevik Party took over the reins of authority in Moscow after the fall of the Czar or how Khomeinists shunted aside the much greater number of moderates in monopolizing control of the government once Shah Reza Pahlavi abdicated in Iran. It is the subsequent tolerance of such practices, including within parts of West European cities, that has led inexorably to the hold of ultra-Wahhabism in a growing number of minds there. Because the "tolerance bar" towards exclusionary and religious supremacist practices is so absurdly high in the Western world, the bar for attraction towards the pseudo-theology of the Islamic State in particular is low enough to ensure a steady flow of recruits into its ranks.
Appeasement was a disaster in the case of the original Hitler and it is equally harmful when applied to Wahhabis and their practices. It is the appeasers and not those who oppose them who are responsible for the spread of ISIS and its consequences across the globe.
The "wink and nod" given by the West towards Wahhabi practices in several Muslim majority countries have the effect of creating a perception in numerous minds resident in Europe and in North America that such practices must be kosher, else would not the western countries oppose rather than ignore them? If countries that openly practice exclusion and discrimination based on faith are nevertheless the objects of fawning attention by Washington, London, Paris and Berlin, in susceptible minds, it must follow that deep down such capitals acknowledge the validity and indeed justice of such practices, especially when they are in a position to do something about it but so conspicuously decline to do so. Partly as a consequence of such "tolerance of the incorrect" by western policymakers and their societies, the Muslim community has thus far been unable to build up the head of steam needed to challenge the twin pseudo-theologies of Wahhabism and Khomeinism. In a grotesque inversion of the truth, freshman diplomats in the US and the EU are taught that Wahhabism is the "purest" form of Islam. This is the exact reverse of the truth, for Islam as revealed in the Holy Quran repeatedly emphasizes the divine virtues to be compassion, mercy and beneficence. In other words, the opposite of Wahhabi or Khomeinist theology. Of course, "purity" becomes the fig leaf covering up the moral degradation involved in accepting as normal the practices followed in Wahabbized societies. Were those implementing such practices in their homes and in their countries to face the contempt and obloquy they deserve, the resulting example would not only have brought forward the day when Islam will be cleansed of the influence of Wahhabism and Khomeinism, but the magnetic pull of such ideologies as expressed in terroristic acts would be substantially reduced. Instead, it is those who point to the incompatibility between Wahhabism and civilized conduct that are regarded within much of the western world itself as "extreme". A characterization that feeds oxygen into the recruitment cells of ISIS each time it gets made. Of course, the conventional wisdom is that it is those who appease Wahhabism that are holding at bay the attraction of this ideological force, while those pointing out the actual nature of such pseudo-theologies are accused of "creating the atmosphere for ISIS to grow". Political correctness, what crimes get committed as a consequence of your aftershocks!
The morphing of ultra-Wahhabi theology into the ISIS variant has increased both its attraction as well as its toxicity significantly from the Al Qaeda strain. While Al Qaeda has knowledge or at the least acceptance of a rough and ready form of theology as a pre-condition for joining, the "theology" of ISIS is even thinner. Indeed, the organization resembles the NSDAP, the party forged by Adolf Hitler to lay waste much of Europe during 1939-45. The attractiveness of the NSDAP to millions lay in the simplicity of its message: by merely joining the party and becoming party to its misdeeds, what would otherwise pass as barbarity would be typecast as the summit of civilization. Not only would rape, murder and theft on an industrial scale not be morally reprehensible, they would count as the very essence of desirable civic conduct. Small wonder that such liberation from the constraints of civilisation, especially in dealing with those labelled as sub human, proved to be so attractive to so many. Hitler would never have been able to succeed in his atrocities without the willing participation of millions of previously ordinary Germans. In like fashion, the attraction of the ISIS Caliphate proclaimed by Abubakr Al Baghdadi in 2014 was that entry into its territory and membership of the organisation open the door for the practice of slavery and its attendant "freedoms", including untrammeled rights over the bodies and properties of those classified as sub human (i.e. those not subscribing to the ultra-Wahhabi theology of Al Baghdadi's movement). That this Hitler imitator still controls vast swathes of territory three years after grabbing control of them has acted as an effective recruitment tool. ISIS should have been bombed out of existence in the lands occupied by it in the manner promised but not yet delivered of Donald Trump, and the confusion and disunity within those against ISIS (who fight each other with far more ferocity than either does ISIS) that has led to the territorial survival of the ISIS Caliphate has led to an increase in the potency of its recruitment messages that may have caused recent terror attacks in Brussels, Paris and London.
The impotence of NATO to eliminate ISIS from the territory it still controls in Iraq and Syria. The simpering tolerance of vile discrimination in countries that are placed in the "Allies" box. The incompetence of the US and allied militaries in eliminating that ragtag band of thugs in Afghanistan who style themselves as the Taliban. The refusal to bring to account those who have over the past four years supplied cash and weapons to ISIS. Appeasement was a disaster in the case of the original Hitler and it is equally harmful when applied to Wahhabis and their practices. It is the appeasers and not those who oppose them who are responsible for the spread of ISIS and its consequences across the globe.