Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Islamic Rage Shows Deep Internal Rifts; Muslims Wrestle with Their Political and Social Divisions as Well as Clash with Western Values

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Islamic Rage Shows Deep Internal Rifts; Muslims Wrestle with Their Political and Social Divisions as Well as Clash with Western Values

Article excerpt

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - At the height of the latest Islamic rage, one of the Muslim world's first media-celebrity imams told worshippers they were indeed witnessing a clash of civilizations. Just not the kind you think.

This one is within Islam, and it helps explain the multiple personalities of the fury.

It's political: The uncompromising ethos of extremism clawing for any gains against more moderate voices.

It's social: Fed by an explosive blend of economic stagnation, anger over U.S.-led wars and - in some places since last week - frustration as the soaring hopes of the Arab Spring hit the grinding realities of rebuilding.

And it cuts deeply into questions that have added resonance in a hyper-connected world that moves at the quicksilver pace of the Web: How to coexist with the free-speech openness of the West and whether violence is ever a valid response.

"Our manner of protesting should reflect sense and reason," urged Egyptian-born cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi in his Friday sermon in Qatar's capital, Doha, where he has found a worldwide audience through the Internet and a show on the pan-Arab network Al-Jazeera.

Yet such appeals - while frequent from many Islamic leaders and scholars in the past week - have competed against opposing calls that can tap deeper passions that have been funneled into violence. Political factions and hard-line clerics across the Muslim world have been quick to try to capitalize, as they have after other perceived offenses against the faith.

Ultraconservative Islamists apparently have taken the lead in protests in Arab Spring countries such as Tunisia and Egypt in a show of force against the new leadership and their Western allies. In a curious battle of perceptions, Egypt's government, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, called out riot troops to protect the U.S. Embassy against protesters also claiming to "defend" Islam.

Crowds in Yemen condemned the recent video mocking the Prophet Muhammad but also chanted against the continued U.S. military presence such as drone strikes that have targeted suspected al- Qaida leaders.

"Obviously there's a latent anti-Americanism that is coming out," said Salman Shaikh, director of The Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. "But that is only part of this," he said. "This is primarily about a struggle for the soul of these states."

Elsewhere - from Nigeria to Australia - hard-line clerics and parties have mobilized demonstrations in both expressions of anger and messages to rivals.

Bahrain protest groups, meanwhile, have used Twitter to organize demonstrations that included burning American flags in the nation that hosts the U. …

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.