in category Politics

Why are Muslims angry with the West?

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George Bush famously asked the question "why do they hate us?" His answer sadly was unpersuasive, "they hate our freedoms".
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In a Nutshell:
Western colonialism and occupations, illegal wars, sanctions, economic exploitation and support of dictators across North Africa, Middle East and Asia. A violent pathology is embedded in Western thinking, underpinned by self-interest, causing destruction around the world.


A British soldier was decapitated by a Muslim in South London in 2011. Police arrived quickly and fired 8 rounds seriously injuring one of the suspects. The media went into overdrive, sensationalizing the event. The then Prime Minister David Cameron called an emergency council meeting termed COBRA (Cabinet Office briefing room A).

Muslim organisations distanced themselves from the atrocities whilst their communities nervously awaited the fall out whilst reciting well-rehearsed lines of condemnation.

Why are Muslims angry with the West?
The Prime Minister, the media and usual array of talking heads argued the causes were hate preaching, extremist ideologies and poisonous ideas inspiring such acts. The government denied the causes had nothing to do with foreign policy whilst video footage of the suspect giving his reasons revealed a different explanation.

"I killed him because he kills Muslims over there, and I am fed up that people kill Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan" and "You think politicians are going to die?

No, it's going to be the average guy - like you - and your children.

So, get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so you can all live in peace."


A brief review of the history of similar attacks highlights similar explanations by perpetrators. The courtroom testimony of Dr Bilal Abdulla for instance, the doctor who attempted to blow up Glasgow airport, explained how the destruction of his country, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children, and the theft of natural resources shows the reasons we are being provided may not only be incorrect, but seriously misleading.

Why are Muslims angry with the West?
These individuals appear to feel a moral obligation to take direct action due to the atrocities committed against their countries, their communities and their family members - by Western governments, armies, allies and corporate interests. It is no doubt the same feeling which motivated millions to take part in the "Stop The War" coalition in 2003, believing the "democratic" system genuinely reflected the voice of society and such activities would achieve results.

The difference in activities between those who undertake violence and those who do not, appears to stem from confidence in or disillusionment with the political processes and whether they can effect change, importantly when they are in conflict with entrenched interests.

  • Whilst such acts may appear irrational, historical examples show this has been more frequent than may be assumed. The English civil war, the American revolution or the French revolution that swept away the millennium old Feudal system were all littered with such examples.
  • The failure of Gandhi's peace movement to expel the British from India compared with the success of Subhas Chandra Bose's violent Indian National Army and the rumblings of mutiny from the navy
  • The more recent violent activities of the IRA which resulted in significant political concessions in the Good Friday agreement.

To stop this cycle of violence, we must get beyond the political rhetoric and consider the causes - something that is missing from this debate.

For decades the government battled with the IRA, labelling them terrorists, blocking their funding and implementing security measure after security measure. Peace ultimately came when their grievances were addressed.

So what are the grievances?

Colonialism and its consequences in a nutshell. The new elites that emerged following reformations and revolutions in Europe left behind a trail of atrocities in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia. This was not exceptional but systemic, committed generation after generation, century after century.

The journal American Rationalist noted:

"Today we teach history to schoolchildren under the euphemisms "Western Expansion" and "Indian Wars" when addressing property appropriation and mass murder. Rarely, if ever, are the terms genocide or land snatching rendered in schoolbooks regarding the Old West."

The division of the Ottoman Empire by the British and French after World War I, with a multitude of conflicting promises made to various parties, opened the darkest, bloodiest and impoverished era the region had ever seen.

Why are Muslims angry with the West?

The deep-seated religious conflict and hatred witnessed in Sudan, Palestine or India were politically contrived amongst peoples who had coexisted peacefully for centuries during colonial rule.

This is not to justify terrorism, by state actors or individual actors, but an attempt to understand it. Without such an understanding there can be no meaningful discussion and no prevention of similar if not worse atrocities here or abroad.


One needs to look at the occupations, illegal wars, sanctions, economic exploitation, debt and support of tyrants and dictators across North Africa, Middle East and Asia to understand why so many exhibit anger and negativity.

There is a violent pathology amongst Western elites, historically emerging from wealthy landowners (who had benefited from the forced land enclosure movement) and merchants (who had benefited from genocides and misappropriation of land/resources in the Americas). This pathology is manifested in an amoral ideology, centred on self-interest, transmitted between generations of elites, reproducing similar destructive patterns from continent to continent, civilisation to civilisation.

Therein is the answer and explanation to the "why they hate us" question. Something George Bush's superficial "they hate our freedoms" and Blair's "we did nothing to them" fail to explain. The current debate refuses to engage with these issues – instead bellicose rhetoric and clamping down on critical voices along with diminishing freedoms increases all of our insecurity.

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