Monday, October 11, 2004

Jason Burke on why they hate us

Just as Bush has maintained - because of our liberal values:

We must ask why

What is new is the immediacy of the challenge posed to traditional values and structures by the post-Cold War dominance of America and of 'Western' culture in general, piped directly into the front rooms of homes throughout the Islamic world through the internet and satellite television.

The unprecedented exposure to Western lifestyles and apparent wealth, so attractive to so many has raised aspirations throughout the Islamic world. People question the right of autocratic regimes to rule, of husbands to discipline wives, of mullahs to pronounce on how to wash hands and who to hate.

For many this is liberating and exciting. But others are frightened. Some feel marginalised in the new world. Some turn to force, the last weapon left, in a bid to hold on to what is passing. In the western Afghan city of Herat, where women are voting in an unprecedented election this weekend, domestic violence has surged since the demise of the Taliban. Those who had power over their wives and daughters are fighting, literally, to keep it. A very high proportion of older militants, including Zarqawi and bin Laden, come from families who moved from rural environments to the cities. They are men who have lost the certainties of childhood
He is probably right to caution:
We are already engaged in 'nation building', unwittingly, through the transfer of Western values to the Islamic world. But we must be sensitive to the impact of the undeniable attraction of our way of life.
But being senstive does not mean backing down and we should get over calling values such as respect for woman "Western", which is at once arrogant and demeaning.


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