The Deafening Silence of the Ummah
On January 27, President Trump issued an executive order imposing travel ban on the citizens of seven Muslim majority countries (that was reduced to six after widespread protests in the USA). The reaction against the order both by various governments and people was swift and widespread. However in this global expression of outrage against the order, the voices of government officials and people from most Muslim majority states have been conspicuous by its absence.
As of 2015, 1.5 Billion or 23% of the world population is Muslim. Of the 196 countries of the world, the number of countries where the Muslims are in majority stands at 50. Yet, only Iran has protested this draconian ban strongly and has imposed reciprocal restrictions. There have been murmurs of dissent from Iraq. One Muslim country, UAE has actually defended the ban.
So why is the so called Muslim Ummah silent at this time of clear and present danger to its adherents?
The reasons lay not just in the ever widening gulf between the rulers and the people, but also in the growing chasm between the rich and the poor in large parts of the Muslim world.
The governments of these Muslim countries are mostly corrupt and self serving.
They are dependent upon the economic and military support of the USA to survive and will therefore never invite the wrath of their benefactor by speaking against such blatant violation of human rights. Documents from wikileaks show that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States were more interested in undermining Iran than anything else and shamelessly urged US to act against it.
Then there is the class of citizens that has a personal interest in access to the USA. This class, which is by and large incapable of seeing anything beyond its own very narrow, short term self interest, is afraid that if they protest, the ban would be extended to their country. In the case of Pakistan, for example, to quote a friend, “Pakistan has become the country home from the home country.” A travel ban would not only restrict their business and recreational travels but deprive their children of getting education in the American universities.
The party most aggrieved with the ban of fellow Muslims should be the militants in the Islamic countries. These militant, however, view the US as an immoral, corrupt and malevolent power that is at war with Islam. For them it is pointless to engage with the US through marches and other conventional means of protest; they believe in direct action and in waging war against the interests of the USA. The travel ban serves only to confirm their belief in a US led war on Islam, and will definitely incense them and further fuel their militancy.
This leaves the citizens who belong to the poor classes. These down and out cannot even imagine getting a visa and visiting the USA since it is way too complicated and expensive. They may mutter against the travel ban but it is inconsequential as the grind of their daily struggle for basic survival is all consuming for them.
Thus the so called Ummah is silent, and in fact the governments and the elites are trying to improve their “behavior” in order to be spared the wrath of the big brother. Pakistan has put the banned Jamaat u Dawaa chief Hafiz Saeed under house arrest most likely to placate the USA that has for a long time asked Pakistan to take concrete action against this militant organization.
This cowardly behavior the Ummah is nothing new. They acted similarly when USA started the two Gulf wars. Once again, while the world saw some of the largest protests in history when the citizens of major western countries turned up to raise their voice against the American invasion of Iraq, the Ummah stood silent or actually supported the USA. Similarly, one is hard pressed to hear a single word of condemnation from Arab states against Israeli’s relentless and ever escalating oppression of the Palestinians.
Unless a major political change takes place in the Muslim majority countries that throws out the corrupt, greedy and incompetent rulers and replaces them with those who care about the ordinary people of their countries, the Ummah would wield no power in world politics and continue to turn a blind eye to any oppression they are subjected to by the rich and powerful countries of the world.