What can be done, and what can we expect in the future?
Weighing in today on these issues is a political leader who happens to straddle both worlds; that of of Islam by reason of it being the state religion of the country he rules, and the west by reason of his being a strategic ally of the United States.
So far only Agence France Press seems to have picked up on the speech made by Pakistan's President General Pervaz Musharraf at yesterday's opening session of the UN General Assembly. It's carried in several of this morning's Australian newspapers and, as far as we can tell, nowhere else so far. That's a pity because his words, while strident, are clear and definite. They give us some insight into what it's going to take to live in peacable relations with Moslems. As he makes clear, they have a real agenda... for the rest of us.
Musharaff's main points.
- We need to bridge, through dialogue and understanding, the growing divide between the Islamic and Western worlds. How? By a global ban on the defamation of Islam.
- We must have an end to racial and religious discrimination against Muslims.
- Because personalities of high standing are evidently oblivious of Muslim sensitivities, we must prohibit the defamation of Islam. (He clearly had Pope Benedict XVI in mind. But not only.)
- We must eliminate terrorism comprehensively. How? A two-pronged strategy combining the conventional anti-terror fight with efforts to resolve conflicts afflicting the Islamic world.
- "Across the Muslim world, old conflicts and new campaigns of military intervention have spawned a deep sense of desperation and injustice... Each new battleground involving an Islamic state has served as a new breeding ground for extremists and terrorists. Indiscriminate bombings, civilian casualties, torture, human rights abuses, racial slurs and discrimination only add to the challenge of defeating terrorism." (Somewhere in his analysis, there's evidently some cause and some effect. We somehow doubt that the rest of us would agree with him on which is which.)
- "Unless we end foreign occupation and suppression of Muslim peoples, terrorism and extremism will continue to find recruits among alienated Muslims in various parts of the world."
The silences and the missed opportunities speak far more eloquently in these difficult times than any road maps , non-negotiable demands or eloquent speeches emanating from the ranks of Moslem politicians, clergy and thinkers.