Spice Girls: Exactly the Reason Why Bin Laden Hates the West
For almost a month now, we have seen commentaries in which hatred of freedom, liberty and democracy have been fingered as the core causes for terrorist rage and aggression against the United States. But the media have it all wrong. If the pundits, experts and sages would simply stop pontificating and postulating for just a minute, they would see the answer to this seething discontent right in front of them; and that answer has a name: The Spice Girls. This may sound absurd, but I think the following anecdote will clarify this assertion.
On October 6, the BBC reported that former Spice Girl, Geri Haliwell, had entertained British troops performing military exercises in Oman.
Accompanying the report on the BBC's website, was a full color picture of Geri performing in a halter-top and hotpants flanked by a number of female dancers clad in bikinis that used the British Union Jack as the motif for the top part of their outfits covering their breasts. Interesting choice of design; the Queen must be delighted at the show's producer's taste in fashion.
Apparently the concert was a type of reward for the hard work put in by the soldiers, many of whom have trained in Oman under harsh conditions for over three months. After trekking eight hours across the desert, troops watched a football/soccer match between England and Greece and then were treated to Haliwell's concert in what the BBC described as "a special arena ... dug out of the sand for the show."
As the British might put it, the event must have been "top drawer" - that is, if you're a British soldier.
If you are a practicing Muslim however, the event was yet another reminder of why Westerners often aren't welcome in the Muslim world. And if you are a terrorist - using religion to justify your acts of destruction - that event was confirmation that fighting the West is truly a jihad (struggle). In fact, Osama Bin Laden is probably in some mountain fortress right now, handing out copies of the report while preaching to his minions about the decadence of the West and how it has once again visited the Arabian Peninsula in its most impudent form.
What the British were thinking, I don't know. However if a picture speaks a thousand words, then the message Haliwell's concert sent was that the British are on some kind of grand adventure, some sort of Western safari with all the amenities of home living, including the indulgence of dancing girls.
But Oman isn't 19th century India or Africa. It isn't the playground of empires. And in this time of delicate coalition and consensus building, one would have though that Britain's Foreign Secretary would have informed troops abroad to be on their very best behavior and not "piss off the locals", as it were.
What ever happened to the "When in Rome" ethic of foreign relations? It's as if the "Ugly American" syndrome has found a new footing all of a sudden.
The issue at hand is the following: Muslims want their cultures, traditions and religious and societal standards to be respected. And those Muslims with extremely conservative or even radical views of the religion sometimes see disrespect in these areas as pretext for armed struggle. The sad thing is that the rhetoric from the West supports that pretext right now. It is rhetoric loaded with language that suggests that if Muslim culture isn't in step with a Western way of living and outlook on life, then it doesn't deserve to compete in the world's marketplace of ideas.
So much has been said recently of the Taliban's treatment of women, thus focusing inordinate attention on women in Islam. In the West, hijab (modest clothing and behavior) has become almost a symbol of oppression. Yet for a vast majority of Muslim women, hijab is simply a religious mandate with which they are all too happy to comply. And in Muslim cultures, it is a sign of modesty, and is looked upon favorably by the majority. When visiting Muslim countries, Westerners should be cognizant of this fact and respect the standards of modesty there.
Having a Spice Girl and her bikini-babe dancers prance around in the deserts of Oman like so many trampy tarts, isn't showing respect.
Think of it like this: If I ask you to remove your shoes before entering my house because I want to keep my white shag carpet clean, you probably would oblige me. It might seem ludicrous in this day an age of steam carpet cleaners and Scotch Guard, but it's my home, and my rules.
The same applies on a macro-level in the Muslim world. Sure, it might seem ludicrous to bemoan an event that took place in the remote deserts of Oman, out of site for all except British soldiers. But it's the principle of the matter that counts, and perceptions of disrespect are very real to those with delicate sensibilities. And right now, with tempers and tensions running high, a message of disrespect was maybe the last thing that needed to be sent to the broader Muslim world. Because somewhere, there's an angry young man sitting by himself, reading this BBC report and becoming angry, and saying to himself: "They just don't get it, do they."
By Ali Asadullah
taken from islamonline.net