Since the early days of the war against Osama bin Laden, we have been told that the Muslims almost everywhere are bitterly hostile toward the West - especially the United States - and that this hostility accounts for the general approval that terrorists supposedly enjoy in Islamic countries. Without disputing the fact that numerous Middle Eastern countries have ample grounds for anger, we find it timely to suggest that this overall image needs to be qualified. Islam is not monolithic politically or culturally nor do all Muslim societies see the world in the same way. This issue of Peace Magazine has been organized to address this single topic: the variability of Islamic politics.
We offer Rajan Philips's overview of the global political changes since September 11. We offer a piece by David Bell on sustainability in this new world arena. We have a piece suggesting ways to curtail terrorism within the framework of democracy and international law And beyond that, we have articles on the politics of particular countries - Israel/Palestine, Iran, Kashmir, Iraq, Chechnya, the Balkans, Islamic Central Asia and the Pushtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, we cannot cover the whole Muslim world, and our survey here misses some important countries notably Indonesia, where most Muslims have a far more pluralistic outlook than elsewhere; Sudan and Somalia, where bin Laden has been a powerful figure; and Saudi Arabia itself, the home of many of the most fanatical terrorists, including bin Laden himself. (He had been expelled by an enemy faction, showing that even in Wahabin Saudi Arabia there are divisions and ideological splits.) If the existence of these extreme variations from one country to another becomes more recognized because of this issue's comparative perspective, we will consider it worth our effort.
Finally, in the West, peace activists, main focus needs to be this commitment: to promote a form of security and stance against terrorism that will be universal, fair, and based on true international law, with no exceptions made for any country that violates human rights.