Muslims between old and new empires

Nations with former empires rarely forget their history or their traditional enemies. Russia’s President Putin has only made this clear again with speeches on Ukraine and NATO. After the Soviet Union disappeared into the history books with US help, it turned its attention to movements in the Muslim world. Under the veil of the “war on terror,” the US has spent the last 20 years stemming the rise of the new enemy that replaced the red menace. By Jahangir Mohammed

(Ayaan Institute). America sank into Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and the Arab Spring. Meanwhile, China rose and became an economic powerhouse. Although the US succeeded elsewhere, it failed with its strategy in Afghanistan and against Iran (another country that wants its old glory back). The hasty withdrawal from the Hindu Kush last year (to focus on China) has severely damaged its image as a superpower. Amid another propaganda war against Beijing, they missed the rise of a new Russian empire. The US is wounded, battered, and facing its own abysses, while its main rivals are rising and dreaming of great empires.

Since taking office in 2012, President Xi Jinping has reshaped decaying Chinese communism, replacing it with socialism with “Chinese characteristics.” He inspires the Han Chinese with speeches about their great past civilisations and recalls past humiliations at the hands of the Europeans and Japanese. Now he wants to unite all the people in a new empire and above all to reconquer Taiwan.

Meanwhile, President Putin and Russia have been on the upswing, dealing with the threat of independence in the Caucasus, Georgia, and Crimea. He has his country firmly entrenched in the Middle East in Syria and Iraq and is supporting another nation that wants to build on past glories by creating Greater Serbia. Bosnia’s Serbs have taken this on board. It is only a matter of time before it comes to fruition and Bosnian Muslims risk becoming a historical memory. China is also backing Serbia. Moscow’s tentacles have spread into Africa in Libya and Mali, where the French recently gave way to Russian mercenaries.

In the 21st century, we are again witnessing the rise of major power blocs. Beyond Russia and China, the European Union has created a bloc that is expanding eastwards. So far, it is a Christian one that does not want the Muslim NATO member Turkey.

In India, the mask of a secular democracy has fallen. And we can now see a ruling BJP that wants to revive a great Hindu culture of the past and its former empire. This urge is old, but we were fooled by buzzwords like “secularism” and “democracy.”

And where are the Muslims in all this? Nowhere. The truth is: In the present world, if you are not part of a power bloc or do not have one of your own, you are subjugated by the Other. Today, some of their countries are facing war, sanctions, or economic misery. In Europe, they are discriminated against. And in China, Russia and India, large communities are persecuted with no real means of resistance. India, with 200 million people, has the largest Muslim minority in the world, on the brink of genocide and seemingly powerless to prevent the inevitable. This is the greatest looming catastrophe facing the Ummah and we are unaware of it.

While Allah is the real protector, political power matters in the world. Whether as a minority or a majority, Muslims must organise themselves to be able to project it. History matters and we should learn from it. None of these rising powers have a history of tolerance towards Islam and Muslims. We should know what to expect from them.

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