Dr Ghayur Ayub
IN recent history, we have witnessed two types of 9/11 scenarios. First in 2001, a military style action carried out in America by terrorists that divided global society into Muslims and non-Muslims. The Muslim side was taken over by the harsh and non-tolerant Wahabi/Salafi Islam carried out successively by Alqueda, Taliban and IS. The second in 2016 was a political action, again carried out in America, not by terrorists but by the manipulators of electoral process. Who were those manipulators? This is something that will be discussed in the coming weeks, months and years. Hillary Clinton has already started pointing the finger at FBI. In that political action, Donald trumped not only Hillary, but also he trumped the entire US speculative think-tank and the media.
In his per-election rallies, he challenged the status quo and questioned the existing world order. He brought to the surface the inter-racial, inter-faith and gender divide that exist in America. He exposed the rigged political systems and the way the polls are used to manipulate wins and losses. He successfully projected himself as a non-hypocrite who is not afraid of speaking the truth despite risking the super privileged elite class he was part of and which corresponds to 1% of population. He took side with 99 % of the non-privileged and went against the establishment, the defence industry, the oil industry, Wall Street, electronic media, banks and other financial enterprises. He knew these giants have been holding total control over the lives of 99% of ordinary Americans by using modern high technology in a manner which suited them. Most of the public accepted it not by choice but by fear of being punished by the power holders through the new laws introduced after 9/11 of 2001.
Not stopping there, the elite class tried to take over the globe by becoming its ‘big brother’ invading counties not for the good of the Americans but for the financial benefits of a few individuals especially linked to the defense industry. So here was a post-911 imbalanced America, filled with hate and intolerance, poorly managed by its self-serving elites and damaging it in two major ways. Namely, poor immigration policies letting Hispanics, fundamentalist Muslims and disgruntled blacks pour into the country through legal and illegal means that upset the ratio between local whites and immigrant nonwhites. Then the same elites took their industries and businesses outside America and based them in economically lucrative countries, where they became richer and at the same time making the local American jobless adding to their miseries.
Donald Trump took advantage of their anxiety and resentment and started talking in their language sharing their fear. The fear they have that America has been swamped by the poorly controlled immigrants, depriving the locals not only of their jobs but also of centuries-old traditions. He became their spokesman and used his astute abilities in campaign, reflecting their mind in an uninhibited manner never seen before in elections and showed his resilience which the American public failed to see in politicians. His bizarre utterances became music to their ears as they found a leader who would speak on their behalf. Instantaneously, he won their hearts as he went on bashing anyone who came in his way be that person was from establishment, media, Wall Street or corporations. It was reverse psychology best used to win the hearts of millions in a short span of time. That win induced their trust in him as they found he didn’t hide behind his words and understood their problems. They compared him with Obama who took a neutral position on many issues after becoming the president and saw Hillary was toeing an identical line. They didn’t see that in Donald’s personality and made sure he gets elected.
He promised them that he would change tax system which is counterproductive and pejorative to common Americans. He told them that the existing system is advantageous to a tiny percentage of privileged elites who use its loopholes giving them legal cover for shady practices. He knew about it because he himself used the loopholes in his business to become rich. He promised to simplify the tax system by plugging those loopholes. Secondly, he promised to develop economy by building domestic infrastructure to the benefit of common men. Thirdly, he would oppose the special interest groups such as oil industry and others that have done nothing for the common people. Fourthly, he would make legislation compelling those who have invested abroad and flourished businesses for personal gains to bring them back to the country. What about the projected hate for Islam? In his speeches, he pointed fingers at the fundamentalists in Islam who were supported by those who held responsible posts in post-9/11era. He solemnly promised that he would destroy all those outfits linked to fundamentalist Islam such as Al-Qaeda, Taliban or IS with all the powers in his hand as the US President. Now that he is elected, his litmus test would come in two places; Aleppo in Syria which is controlled by the IS; and Mosul in Iraq which is the power centre of IS. Taking away these two towns especially the latter will break the back of IS.
And that’s where the question arises as to which Islamic group would fill the vacuum? After all, 1.5 billion Muslims cannot be ignored on the global political platform against the post-9/11 global divide between Muslims and non-Muslims. That divide is not going to disappear so soon. It’s going to stay for decades if not for centuries. Keeping the world’s dreadful experience with Wahabi/Salafi Islamist in mind, President Trump would look for the Muslims who follow the tolerant form of Islam filled with humanity, fraternity, mutual respect and understanding.
That form of Islam is seen in Sufism. He knows the West has experienced Sufi Islam as political power in Turkey and lived with it comfortably. Why not in the rest of the Muslim countries especially the nuclear Pakistan? Let us hope, that as opposed to the first 9/11 of 2001 which gave birth to the harsh face of Islam, the second 9/11 of 2016 will give birth to the tolerant and friendly face of Islam. In this way, the divided world will live in peace avoiding the clash of civilizations.
— The writer is senior columnist based in London