In New York’s “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, xenophobes are ironically protesting construction of a Sufi community center—even as Sufi mosques and shrines are getting blown up regularly in Pakistan by the same political forces that were behind 9-11. Imam Rauf of the planned center (the Cordoba Institute), meanwhile, is being paid by the State Department to go on good-will tours of the Islamic world.
The RAND Corp and various neocon pundits have openly called for grooming Sufis (with their tolerant, universalist and pacifist spirit) to oppose jihadism in Pakistan and elsewhere. The Russians are already doing this, pouring money into Sufi groups in Chechnya and the Caucasus. In Somalia, a Sufi order has actually taken up arms against the local jihadi outfit, the Shabaab, which is attempting to suppress them. They may have no choice but to do this, but it could make them ripe for CIA/Pentagon intrigues.
Sufi orders played a critical but little-recognized role in anti-colonial struggles (against France in West Africa, Britain in Somalia, Italy in Libya, etc.). Today, with the collapse of the left and secular nationalism in the Middle East, how do we respond to the rise of jihadism (lubricated as it was by CIA largesse in the ’80s)? How do we offer solidarity to its targets without playing into new imperialist intrigues and strategies?
Sunday October 31, 1:00 PM
At the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, Calif.