Magazine article Insight on the News

Why America Needs More Sufi Muslim Allies

Magazine article Insight on the News

Why America Needs More Sufi Muslim Allies

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Schwartz, SPECIAL TO INSIGHT

The Central Asian country of Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic, has gotten a lot of attention in the United States lately none of it enviable. In a recent TV sitcom, a teen-ager complained that not being able to find Uzbekistan on a map got her a low grade on a test. Flip to the "educational channel" and you hear a pitch for funds, with a free atlas offered as a premium, so that the next time the intellectuals who favor such fare hear about Uzbekistan, they'll be able to locate it.

But there are some people hereabouts who claim to know a great deal about Uzbekistan. The Washington Post on March 4 and an op-ed column by playwright Tony Kushner on March 8, assailed Uzbekistan and its ruler, Islam Karimov. The pretext in the first instance: a State Department judgment that "Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with limited civil rights." Some might say that the real reason behind the rage at State and on the Post's editorial board was the praise for Uzbekistan from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who recently visited the nation and thanked it for its "wonderful cooperation" with our side in the war on terror.

When we turn to Kushner's fit of pique, the context changes a bit. The writer is incensed that the Uzbek authorities allegedly have abused one of their citizens, Ruslan Sharipov, who has proclaimed his journalistic aspirations as well as his same-sex proclivities. According to Kushner, the Uzbek government was motivated to act against Sharipov not because the country is a remote, Muslim-majority land untouched by Western sophistication about the public declaration of out-of-the-ordinary affections. No, according to him, Uzbekistan was imitating an America whose "leaders deplore the overturning of sodomy laws and flirt openly with a constitutional amendment, the first ever, designed to restrict the rights of gay and lesbian citizens."

Thus, the playwright warns us, "The world is listening." How absurd; rather like the science-fiction classic in which the death of a butterfly, caused by a time traveler into the distant past, leads to Adolf Hitler winning World War II. But neither the Post editorial nor Kushner's tantrum mentioned a few words that normally should be included in any discussion of Uzbekistan and the terror threat familiar to all its citizens: the "Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)" and "Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT)." The former was a terrorist entity aligned with al-Qaeda. Hundreds of IMU members were killed defending the Taliban in Afghanistan. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.