|Jordan's Islamic Front rallies
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - Despite Jordan officially being
pro-United Sates in the current showdown with Iraq, the
country has seen a marked rise in anti-US sentiment
among its population, with the main beneficiary being
the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the
Thus, once the US attacks
Iraq, the tiny Arab state, which currently acts as a
delicate counter balance in the region, could become a
nucleus of Arab Islamic movements.
Brotherhood and its sister concerns - which exist
largely as clandestine but militant groups marked by
their rejection of Western influences - have been busy
tapping into the anger raised in the Arab street by the
US designs on Iraq.
This correspondent was in
Jordan when the Islamic Action Front declared a jihad in
favor of Iraq and Palestine if the US attacks Iraq, and
in mosques, universities, colleges and other places
across the region people have been signing on to fight
the US. Their numbers have been estimated as high as
Jordanian society is a complex mix
of contradictions. Jordan comprises 55
percent Palestinians, but radical Palestinian groups such as
the Islamic Jihad and Hamas are banned. Since elections under
the constitutional monarchy in 1989, Islamic forces,
initially in the garb of the Muslim Brotherhood and
later in the shape of the Islamic Action Front, have
emerged as a political force, and especially so after
September 11, 2001.
The Muslim Brotherhood was established
in Jordan in 1940 (the organization was originally
founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna in opposition
to secular tendencies in Islamic nations and in
search of a return to the original precepts of the Koran).
It soon spread to Syria, Sudan and Arab nations, and
then to Jordan.
Today, the Islamic Action Front
is the only force to openly challenge the monarchy in
its ties with Israel and its role in the US-led war on
terror and against Iraq.
In late February, Asia
Times Online spoke to Hamza Mansoor, the chief of the
Islamic Action Front, at the Front's headquarters in the
Jordanian capital of Amman.
Could you please tell me the program and the background
of the Islamic Action Front?
We are an
Islamic political party and consider Islam as the fundamental way
of thinking. We have a program to enforce Islam in society
by peaceful means because we believe Islam can give
us happiness and we look forward to bringing out the best
for all members of society, including men, women and children.
We work for freedom for all and human rights
for society and we are against any bad
conduct at any level, especially in the government. And we are
against the people in charge in Jordan and want
a complete political change. This party [Islamic Action Front]
was founded in 1992 with 350 initial members. Engineer
Ahmed Azaida, Dr Ishaq Farhan and Dr Abdul Latif
Arabiyat were the main initiators of the movement.
ATol: Jordan is crucially located
in the region. On one side is Israel, on the other side
is Iraq. The majority of the population is Palestinian,
many of whom sympathize with the Intafada against
Israel, but King Abdullah has friendly ties with Israel.
How do you view this situation?
Mansoor: Let me first clarify some
basic things. The population of Palestinians in Jordan
is 55 percent, but they are not considered as
foreigners. The West Bank and the East Bank were one
before the 1967 Arab-Israel war. That is why we are all
one. As far as Arab neighbors [Iraq] are concerned, they
are no danger. They are our people. The danger is from
the Zionist identity and the US. We do not want our
government to build policies on political balances. We
want to build policies of democracy in Jordan and carry
out a program which will at the end lead to the unity of
Arab and Islamic countries because we believe Muslims
are one nation. We believe this unity is the need of the
hour; besides, it is our religious obligation. We
believe that Muslim nations have broader grounds and
factors to unite than Europeans, who have managed to
unite. If they can make a union despite centuries-old
differences, why not Muslims?
ATol: After September 11, the
Muslim world has faced the wrath of the US. The first
victim was Afghanistan, and now it is Iraq. How do you
analyze this situation?
the September 11 incident not happened, the US administration
would have invented a similar crisis themselves
because the US authorities want to make a pretext
to fulfill their designs. The problem is not al-Qaeda
and Saddam [Hussein]. The problem is within the US
administration itself. The present US ruling administration
has a strange religious feeling, which is
to beat and conquer other populations, especially the
older civilizations, and it has unlimited greed to take
over the wealth of other nations. Afghanistan or Iraq
are not their last stops. Iran would be the next.
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries would be
next in line. That is why we call all Muslim countries
to unite against the dangerous threats and we believe
that a government which offers the US any help
against the ummah [community
of Muslims] is not an Islamic government and Muslim subjects have
every right to change this sort of a government.
ATol: The Salafi [Wahhabi] branch of Islam,
to which Osama bin Laden subscribes, the Muslim
Brotherhood and the Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan's most
powerful Islamic party, are portrayed in the West as the
real enemies of the West and the inspiration for
al-Qaeda. What is your viewpoint?
I invite Western intellectuals to prove their
ideas and the truth behind these theories. I ask them to
think in a free environment, away from the psychology of
the Crusade, away from the way of thinking of colonial
powers, and liberate their opinions from the influence
of the Zionist propaganda machinery. The Islamic
movements, especially the Muslim Brotherhood
organizations in the Arab world, the Jamaat-i-Islami,
the Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Turkish and Sri
Lankan Islamic movements are moderate parties. The US
does not take Islamic movements as enemies, but it takes
Islam as its enemy. Anybody who represents real Islam,
be it an individual or a party or a society, the US
declares war on them and considers them terrorists.
We refuse to be enslaved by the US. We want to be
treated as free men and we want relations with the US based
on mutual respect. But the US wants us to be its slaves
and to treat us like conquered people. At the same
time, I ask those Western intellectuals, especially
those from the US, about religious extremism in the US
carried out by Jews and Christians, and I ask them just
to look at the Zionist crimes in Palestine and American
terror in Japan, Vietnam and Latin America before
calling others terrorists.
was in Iraq recently. I personally observed that the
Saddam regime is against the ideology that your party
projects, and he is brutal against those who have tried
to form religious parties. People have very limited
religious freedom. So why does your party support Saddam
Mansoor: We do not
support Saddam Hussein and have never supported his
aggressive designs against Iran and Kuwait. In fact, we
support the 25 million Iraqi people against US
aggression. At the same time, it is not strange that
people, whether they are rulers or commoners, revise
their relations with Allah and God is very kind to
ATol: What is
the attitude of your party to the US waging war against
Mansoor: Islamic movements in
Jordan or in Pakistan or elsewhere take their principles
from the same source, that is the Koran and Sunnah
[life of the Prophet]. That is why Islamic scholars
invite the whole ummah to face up to US aggression,
whether it is in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan
or anywhere. The rule is the same. However, every
country has its own special situation and the conditions
for jihad in each country differ. Depending on the
situation of a country, it can choose a way to struggle
against the enemy, be it by boycott or directly on the
ATol: It is a common
concern among Islamic movements that dictatorships in
Muslim countries prevent such movements from contesting
elections. There are theories that the movements should
consider other ways of grabbing power and instead of
indulging in politics should concentrate on dawah
( preaching of Islam). What is your opinion?
Mansoor: We respect all opinions
and we believe that we can join more than one way at the
same time. We believe in the dawah to reform
people and we believe in developing Islamic
institutions. We believe in election politics. If the
elections are free and fair, we are sure that our people
will put their trust in us. We do not believe in the use
of force, except against external enemies.
ATol: What future do you foresee
for Islamic movements and Muslims?
Mansoor: The future is for Islam
because this is a religion of basic human values. Since
other ideologies have lost out, it is noticeable that
Islam is spreading, despite the weakness of some
Muslims. This emphasizes and proves the saying of the
Prophet Mohammed, praise be on his name, that this
religion will fill the whole earth. This is the promise
of Allah, that this religion will overwhelm all.
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