Muslim Ummah

The Lonely Muslim

Some voices about Israel’s continuous oppression tactics against the Palestinians
may exist in European countries, but these are stifled as such
criticism is considered to be a crime in the West.

By Nikhat Sattar | September 2020

“Instead of being one of the leaders of world civilization, the Islamic world was quickly and permanently reduced to a dependent bloc by the European powers. The European invasion of the Islamic world was not uniform, but it was thorough and effective.”

This statement by Karen Armstrong speaks volumes for the state of the Muslim world even today. Having built their resources from wealth looted from colonized nations and strengthening their economies on the basis of slave labour, Western countries decided that they would maintain power over global institutions and countries by virtue of their technology and military and economic strength. In the post-colonization world, Muslim countries face incompetence, terror, repression, wars and instability through the combined tactics of the West and their own elite. It is no coincidence that while the Middle East, with a large Muslim population, contributes to 27 per cent of global oil production, it is the least influential factor in global policy-making and international affairs.

Since WWII, the West has ensured that it does not engage in wars within its member nations, but it has, as a matter of strategy, intervened, incited, encouraged and pitched weaker countries against each other, sometimes by supporting dictators and suppressing people; sometimes by providing arms and sometimes by deliberate blocking of peace-building efforts. The number of countries in which wars have been fought by the US is mind-boggling: Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Kuwait, Sudan and, more recently, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. Millions have died and millions more wounded. However, two festering centres of suffering on the one hand and oppression on the other, are Kashmir and Palestine. Britain played an important role in the hasty division of the sub-continent in 1947 and by the position it took in the UN Assembly in 1948 as one of the five permanent members. It has been sitting on the fence since then, even as India removed Kashmir’s special status in August 2019. Despite daily human rights violations, neither the UNSC nor the OIC have taken up Kashmir seriously.

A second and equally significant event took place in 1917, when, after defeating the Ottoman Empire, Britain (with tacit support from the US and France), made a public pledge: “The Balfour Declaration” declaring its aim to establish a home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. In the words of Edward Said, “it was made by a European power … about a non-European territory … in a flat disregard of both the presence and wishes of the native majority resident in that territory”. At that time, the Jewish population in Palestine was just about 10 percent. By 1947, the population of Jews had increased to 27 percent, Jewish institutions were set up and the army strengthened. These preparations culminated in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs (the Nakba incident), as Zionist soldiers expelled 750,000 (over 80 percent) Palestinians from their homelands in 1947 when the British moved out suddenly and without putting a structure in place. This was also the precursor to the constant conflict between Israel and Palestinians that has caused unbearable suffering to the latter. Zionist forces attacked 530 villages and killed around 13,000 Palestinians. Refugees number 7 million now.

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The writer is a development professional, researcher, translator and columnist with an interest in religion and socio-political issues. She can be reached at

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