Since the uprisings in Tunisia, there has been a chain reaction that has swept through the Arab world. Young people, mostly students, aided by the social media networks, have managed to topple totalitarian and extremist governments in many countries with a Muslim majority. Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Bahrain... the list of countries with youth revolutions continues to grow. Just as the number of uprisings in the middle east grows, so does the coverage in the media and Western sympathy for these young people yearning for freedom.
A disturbing trend in the Western media has been to portray many of these uprisings not as a revolution by young people oppressed by totalitarian regimes, but as revolutions of young people that are oppressed by Islam itself. This could not be more inaccurate and is a blatant attempt to hijack the hard work and revolutionary spirit of these students for political aims. After all, many right wing politicians have discovered in recent years that bashing Islam is a quick and easy way to get the support, money, and votes of an increasingly xenophobic and scared sector of the population.
This kind of characterization does a great injustice to these brave young people that have done what many generations before them were unable to do. It strips them of their identity and attempts to convert them into one-dimensional victims. We should understand that the vast majority of rebels, revolutionaries and protestors are Muslim, and most them quite devout as well. We should also understand that they are rebelling against governments that have continually trampled on the human rights of their populations and through corruption and greed have managed to turn some of the nations in the world that are richest in natural resources and revenue into third world countries. These people are not rebelling against Islam, they are rebelling against economic programs in which unemployment and inflation are rampant and it is impossible to make a dignified living.
The lack of respect for human rights, the corruption and greed in the management of finances and natural resources, the blatant despotism and nepotism in these governments; none of these are a consequence of Islam. In fact they are a consequence of corrupt, greedy, and power-hungry individuals that have decided to forget Islam and everything it stands for. These totalitarian despots have corrupted Islam for their own gain, conveniently forgetting the most important messages in the Qur'an that condemn their actions and way of governing.
We must not let the media and the right-wing politicians hijack these revolutions. These only belong to the brave young men and women that have decided to fight for their freedom. Any attempt to portray these uprising as a rebellion against Islam is absurd, considering that the great majority of protestors are Muslims. It should be an important priority for all Muslims around the world to embrace these protests and to help in any way they can, speaking up against these attempts to portray wrongly the nature of these protests. For too long the face of Islam in the West has been Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist network; let us hope that these young Muslims yearning to speak their voice to the world become the new image of Islam in the West.
-- Al Arabiya Digital