Monday, October 15, 2007

Hamas: Islamic democracy and national liberation

A Good Piece

By Sukant Chandan, Conflicts Forum, October 15, 2007

"The Hamas election victory in January 2006 has led to an increased interest in the Islamic Resistance Movement. Hitherto little had been understood of Hamas’ history, political and social strategy and tactics. Rather rumors and cheap prejudice against Hamas have been rampant across the political spectrum in the West. Regrettably, progressives in the West have largely dodged the challenges of internationalism and anti-racism in the context of neocolonialism’s racist campaign focused on Muslims and Islam, of which the maligning and criminalisation of Hamas is a component. Democrat-minded and progressive people who challenge the criminalisation of Hamas by the West, in so doing confront the Eurocentric idea that legitimacy is only bestowed upon those that the West consider democratic rather then what the people in the given country have chosen. This article seeks to demonstrate that Hamas’ ideology has as much claim to the values and practices of democracy and human rights as those political movements in the West. The difference is that these values are inspired and rooted in their own religious, cultural and social contexts......

We in the West must accept that secularism is not going to become a leading political force in the Middle East any time soon, due not least in part as it was brought to the region by colonialists. Arab and Muslim people, and by many more across the world who desire independence from US hegemony, see in the West many social and moral conditions that they don’t want to emulate but which Westerners often see as examples of the superiority of their societies. People around the world are developing their own political identities from their own cultural and political roots. Morales, Chavez, Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas are a few such examples. In the process of developing these indigenous movements, there is a move away from the uniform cultural and political forms of Western secular and Marxist models. However it must be stressed that there remain universal principles that these liberation ideologies and Western democratic and progressive ideas share, and there exists the possibility of developing mutual respect, solidarity and unity between the two. This dialogue and solidarity is jeopardized by the twin problems and challenges of Eurocentric prejudice and Western oppression of Third World peoples."

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