The Rohingya Muslims have been facing existential problems for sometimes now. What a lot of people don’t know is that the persecution of Rohingya was a subject matter in which alternative media sources have been harping on for some decades now. This problem has only come to limelight as some Muslim powers like Turkey and Iran threatened to get involved militarily if nothing is done. Consequently, the realization of other world powers of the potentials of that inhumanity to snowball into a major catastrophe is what is triggering current global media frenzy. The mainstream media is suddenly giving the issue pride of place in terms of their news coverage. In the same breath, the threats issued by Turkey and Iran on the Myanmar regime has started attracting the attention of international community. The plight of Rohingyas in Burma, now Myanmar, has become acutely intractable since the first decade of the 21st century.
Historically, Rohingya people are migrants from the Indian subcontinent who settled at Rakhine area of Myanmar. They are an Indo-Aryan stock that migrated to Myanmar more than 700 years ago now. Despite this long history, the dominant indigenous Burmese groups, in their different ethnicities, are not willing to recognize Rohingya Muslims as citizens of Myanmar. As a result, the Rohingyas have been turned into a stateless people, without nationality, or the rights and privileges conferred on all citizens of Myanmar no matter their ethnicity. Things got so bad for Rohingya Muslims to the extent of becoming the most persecuted group in the world after the Palestinians in occupied Palestine. With the current violence and pogrom that is being meted out to Rohingyas by Buddhists, and with the exodus of more than 150, 000 of them to Bangladesh, as they flee from state terrorism in the hands of Myanmar officials, the world is witnessing yet another gruesome form of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the government of Myanmar, even though the country pledges to uphold the UN Charter.
The protraction of the inhuman treatment of Rohingyas in the hands of especially the Buddhist militants is coming on the heels of a number of geostrategic developments in the world. The starting point of it all is the new world order in which United States of America declared itself the sole surviving global superpower. Such declaration was backed up with unipolar ambitions of solely deciding the fate of the world. The collapse of cold war bipolarity has created a situation in which international law; global institutions, protocols and other regulatory mechanisms are seriously becoming undermined by the United States through its attempts to rewrite the rules of the game. As America basks in its sense of triumphalism, power and glory, a dangerous tendency is manifesting through its actions. The world is increasingly guided by the principle of might is right. Show of brutal force is more or less characterizing America’s global engagements.
It was under this dangerous turn of events that the United States bagged terror attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York city and the Pentagon building located at Arlington County, Virginia, on September 11th 2001. The single-minded resolve by America to fight Islamic terrorism has led to the war against Al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The endless dragging of the war in Afghanistan and later in Iraq has also created more room for western powers’ further meddling in Muslim countries of the Middle East and Africa. United States meddling in particular becomes more acute with the eruption of Arab Spring across the Arab world, and the aiding the getting rid of Arab dictators, one after the other, beginning with Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Since then the world has never been the same.
In the midst of all that America inaugurated the idea of the new Middle East, which protects its friends and allies and threatens the survival of its opponents, such as Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The Syrian crisis has turned out to be a huge stumbling block in the way of American strategic goals in the new Middle East project. For sure, the Syrian conundrum has exposed the intentions of America and its allies, especially in their bid to balkanize formidable Arab States that have the capabilities to checkmate the excesses of the Zionist State of Israel in the region. The attempts to dismantle both Iraq and Syria have led to the implementation of Zbigniew Bedrezinsky’s doctrine of containing the crisis of Islam within the borders of Muslim states. As the externally induced war in Syria persists, Islamic militant groups under the auspices of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) were mobilized from all over the world, including Europe and America, to come to the Middle East to wage jihad against the opponents of America, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies.
This American engineered war in the Middle East is redounding. There is a very clear blowback at the home front from jihadi terror threats. ISIS jihad proclivities gradually spread all over the place in western capitals. The jihadi terror campaigns have since assumed global dimensions. They kept boomeranging in European metropolises as the radical Islamist groups, deliberately propped up by the same western powers, return home to continue to wage their jihad that has gone awry in the Middle East. The glaring failure to bring down President Assad of Syria is propelling the diaspora jihadists to go back to Europe to unleash themselves on innocent public. This is of course the context that fanned the embers of Islamaphobia and the climate of anti-Islam sentiments in the world, especially with the hypocritical representation, projection and distortion of issues relating to what is called Islamic terrorism by powerful western mainstream media, which however tilts public perception and induces in them a terrible image of Islam as a violent religion.
The de-legitimization of international law and rules of engagement consequent upon American wars of global supremacy, which wars against Islamic terrorism and the new Middle East project have amply demonstrated, has produced a number of unintended consequences. One of which is of course to put innocent Muslims on the spot and on the receiving end of public derision and hate, particularly in the different countries and communities they are in the minority. Myanmar government is taking advantage of this unfavorable situation to perpetuate its inhumanity against hapless Rohingyas. However, I do not blame Myanmar people or government or western powers or even the enemies of Islam and Muslims on the plight of Rohingya Muslims, but Muslims themselves for allowing fissures in the house of Islam. Muslims should be blamed squarely for the woes that have befallen Islam. It is only when you allow cracks on your wall that others would find their way into your home.
Going by our conduct as Muslims and the level of ignorance we exhibit of both the essence of Islam itself and other faith systems, we should blame nobody for our collective woes but ourselves. Our angst can easily be seen from the way we become excluded, confused and systematically edged out of our shared human values. We are indeed victims of our own folly, the architects of our own suffering. We overwhelmingly lack the wherewithal to appreciate the nature of our afflictions, and how to overcome them. If we cannot be fair or just to ourselves, how do we expect those outside our faith community to be fair and just to us? Similarly, if we want our humanity to be respected, we must be ready to respect the humanity of others. The earlier we understand the language of our common humanity the better for us, and the rest of the world.
By burying ourselves in sectarian trivialities and exclusionary agendas, it only means one thing, that is, as Muslims we have completely forgotten the essence of Islam, and the obligation upon us to promote and enhance the humanity of all human beings, whether Muslims or non-Muslims alike. We are all creatures of God in spite of our differences of beliefs, values, dispositions and idiosyncrasies. We as Muslims are expected to champion the cause of humanity via our uncompromising universal moral conscience, which in turn sets out to advance the cause of inclusive universal moral order based on the values of social justice, equity, freedom and sense of fairness to all. This is the basis upon which we are expected to empathize with other human beings in all circumstances irrespective of their color or creed. How else do we prove our humanity and the ultimate universal goals of the beauty of Islamic faith? Is it by being insular, rancorous, provincial and irrational? I don’t think that is the way. Muslims are supposed to support other human beings and, above all, support humanitarian causes in not just their localities but throughout the world.
In this regard, I would agree with those that see the plight of Rohingya Muslims as a collective human tragedy, not as something that is exclusive only to Muslims. This is one of the means of building bridges in order to share our anguish as Muslims with other fellow human beings outside our faith community. As it is, seeing the case of Rohingyas as exclusively the problem of Muslims will not take us anywhere since before our very eyes a Muslim country is treating Muslims in another Muslim country in the same manner, if not worse, but we are pretending as if there is nothing wrong with it, because it is Saudi Arabia that is doing it. I am here referring to the humanitarian disaster that is Yemen. We remain silent while Saudi Arabia and its allies are bombing Yemen out of existence. There is indeed no difference between the plight of Rohingyas and Yemenis. Like the case of Rohingyas, the moral conscience of other human beings, not necessarily Muslims, is prodding them to condemn the inhumanity of the powerful against the weak in strongest of terms in both Myanmar and Yemen.