by Tahir Mahmoud (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 4, Sha'ban, 1437)
Imperialism uses many tools to advance its agenda. Language is one of them. Such terms as ‘democracy’, ‘elections’ etc need to be deconstructed to expose imperialism’s real agenda.
In the April 2016 issue of Crescent International, an article titled “The language of imperialism” was published. In it, our editor examined some of the methods used by the corporate media to control people’s minds by manipulating the use of language.
As a result of much popular attention the article received from readers, we are penning this second installment and hope to regularly do so in order to expose the methodology of imperialist propaganda. This may even nudge the mainstream media toward revising their use of certain terms. If that were to happen, this would certainly provide a far more accurate account of events in the world, especially the Muslim world.
Democracy – in 2009, Iqbal Siddiqui pointed out in the Crescent International that “‘democracy’ has come to mean all things to all people; it has become so vague that it is virtually meaningless, even in the Western political culture from which it originated… Thus the manipulation of economies by big business can be seen as democratic, while the organisation of labour is undemocratic; a military regime such as Algeria’s can be ‘democratising,’ while a popular revolution such as that in Iran can be ‘anti-democratic.’ The list of possible examples goes on and on.”
Would it not be more honest for media outlets to minimize the use of the term democracy because it has become meaningless? When talking about elections, it would be far more accurate for media organizations to use the term, elections or an electoral process. Instead of saying “the new government is democratic and promises to continue holding elections” a more accurate description would be “the new government utilizes elections to govern and promises to hold elections.” When describing a certain ruling system as “democratic” most media outlets mean secular. Therefore, the word secular should replace the word democratic for greater accuracy when describing a certain governing system.
Syria’s proxy-war – only a person ignorant of reality would deny the fact that the war in Syria is a proxy-war. Since the early days of the proxy-war that was launched in March 2011, which was presented as a “revolution,” NATO and Washington’s regional allies have been directly involved in order to utilize legitimate dissatisfactions to their own selfish interests in the region. There is plenty of evidence to prove this. Therefore, the only suitable term to describe the reality of events in Syria is a proxy-war.
Muslim clerics – there is no clergy in Islam. There is a juristic hierarchy, but not a clergy. The corporate media and their half-literate pundits must not be allowed to impose their alien secular notions on a din about which they have limited basic information. Islam has fuqaha’, ‘ulama, maraaji‘, mujtahids, jurists, and scholars, but no clergy. Some might object to the use of Arabic terms, but this is derived from an inferiority complex. Why should a tribal chief in Africa learn who is a prime minister or what is a cabinet of ministers, but we cannot teach the world what a mujtahid is? In any case, it is the repetition of words and terms that familiarizes people with them. Is the word jihad not well known to people in the West even if its meaning has been mangled to serve imperialist interests?
Islamic Awakening – the electoral success of Islamic movements after the 2010 uprisings began in the Muslim East and North Africa (MENA) region is a clear manifestation of the Islamic tendency of the so-called “Arab Spring.” Covering the Islamic Awakening, the Western corporate media and its regional affiliates, such as the Qatari regime-owned channel al-Jazeera, are continuously trying to create the impression that people in the Muslim East crave for secularism. Independent media outlets so far have not been able to fully capitalize on the Islamic reality of events in the Muslim East. They have not yet managed to shatter the false label given to events. The only way to do it is to incorporate the term Islamic Awakening into the media’s daily vocabulary.
This process must begin with Islamic media outlets using these terms and familiarizing people with them.