[Marxism] re: Rise of Political Islam

Emerson Tung emerson.tung at gmail.com
Thu Jan 26 15:31:27 MST 2006

"Once Iraq became part of the (Sunni) Ottoman Empire in 1638, Shiites
were persecuted and discriminated against. Even after the dissolution
of the Ottoman Empire, as King Faisal was installed by the British as
Iraq's ruler, little changed. He was Sunni, as were the leaders of the
Baath Party that followed him to power. Mosque and religion became the
last resort of Iraqi Shiites. Once the Baath Party was pulverized in
the wake of the Bush administration's invasion, the Shiite religious
network emerged as the most cohesive and efficient organization in the
country -- and remains so today. In the late 1970s, following the fall
of the secular regime of the Shah, Iran witnessed a similar
phenomenon. As for the Sunnis, that long dominant minority, twelve
years of UN economic sanctions hurt them as badly as non-Sunni Iraqis.
Increased misery and growing impoverishment led the Sunni masses, too,
to turn to Islam for consolation and support. So it is not surprising
that once Sunnis decided to participate in the electoral process, most
of them favored the Iraqi Islamic Party."

David Hiro somehow manages to completely ignore the rise and fall of
the Iraqi Communist Party from the mid50's to early 60s, (see Tariq
Ali's Bush in Babylon) instead he seems to suggests that the rise of
political islam just stems from the fact that they're oppressed.

"Take Iraq. History shows that when an ethnic, racial, or social group
is persecuted or overly oppressed, it tends to turn to religion to
find solace. In the Americas, this was true, for instance, of the
Africans brought in as slaves. It is not accidental that today
African-Americans are still more religious than white Americans."

And while its true that people can turn to religion for solace (or as
a way to sidestep limits to organizing) surely the way to see the rise
of political islam is through the failures and defeats of the secular
left - the other example would be Indonesia in '65 when Suharto took
power by massacring a few hundred thousand of the PKIs members and

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