The silent suffering of the Iraqi people: The ISIS and the Arab and Muslim apathy

As the ISIS spreads its violence like a flame fuelled by fire to various regions across the world; some of which are but not limited to Turkey, Belgium, France and Bangladesh; the world has been standing idle towards the people of Iraq and now Syria who are experiencing the murderous campaign of the ISIS in brutal silence.


Setting aside one of the biggest human migration catastrophes to have taken place in the Syrian region, the Iraqi people primarily are paying the heaviest price as this seed of destruction was planted there. They have had their country invaded in 2003 by US-British forces illegally under international law; a military campaign that has destroyed the country to nothing more than a permanent failed state, the destruction of its civilization, its honor and glory of its history as well as the desecration, humiliation and degradation of an entire region and people rich in culture and substance. The invasion has merely created and manufactured a justification that was non-existent that is now in full existence and began to spread worldwide as a result of this global impunity; experienced and deeply suffered by the Iraqi people held hostage to this manufactured product as shown today with the recent ISIS attack that claimed more than 200 lives.  

Given this information, the so called Islamic State’s self-destructive status, actions and position in the world has demonstrated that the Arab and Muslim world are now in deep crisis that requires collective regional self-reflection that has not been taking place. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is an international organization that claims to be the “collective voice of the Muslim world and it works to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony.” To this day, there has nothing that has come out of this organization- a troubling and hypocritical position given that it has its own legal personality due to its status as an international organization.  Therefore, the international law regimes failure demonstrated by the apathetic inaction by both regional and international players and organizations have structurally and systemically contributed to the potent darkness experienced by the Iraqi people in continuum since the illegal invasion of their country.

Since all transformational change starts in the community, micro level organizations in the United States such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for example are perpetuating the Iraqi people’s oppression. Although they have condemned terrorism and hate crimes, they expressed clear solidarity with Turkey over the tragic attacks that occurred at the Airport in Istanbul but no mention of others, in similar circumstances, specifically the latest Iraq situation. This is a very problematic stance on two important levels. The first and most important is that CAIR has a moral obligation as an American organization to expose the suffering of Iraqi’s in particular to the forefront as a result of the pivotal role and source of criminality and injustice caused and committed by the United States that have led to the circumstances taking place in Iraq. In fact, for CAIR to have any integrity and value for justice and human rights they must advance justice and human rights for the Iraqi people for the role and cause the United States played in the bloodshed of the Iraqi people paid for by the American tax payer like themselves.

The second is the fact that mentioning the suffering of some victims but not others, especially those who are in closest proximity to it such as the Iraqi’s is hypocritical and an enablement of the oppression, making CAIR an organization advancing an apologist stance. This must change.

The diversified attacks taking place in the world by the ISIS shows that it’s time for real and genuine action and transformational change, starting with Arabs and Muslims. The Islamic and Arab community need to speak out in a cohesive unit as one sharp united voice in solidarity against these crimes and injustices committed regardless of who is committing such crimes. There is nothing defensive or pre-emptive about the murderous campaigns taking place. The said communities must mobilize and be represented by leadership that hold this message of justice and human rights both on the micro level such as CAIR and macro level such as the OIS. Taking back power and responsibility as a community and a collective to restore and revitalize what has been hijacked in the name of the Islamic and Arab communities is a critical starting point towards the path of justice. Otherwise, the community, regional as well as the international organizations are perpetuating and enabling the oppression. We must not forget where we come from so that we know we are heading. The mess in the world started in post invasion Iraq. This acknowledgement must be put in practice by exposing Iraqi’s suffering on the forefront. Knowing this means justice for Iraq is where we must head.


This article was written by by  Ahmad Moussa for American Herald Tribune on July 5,2016. Ahmad Moussa is human rights scholar and activist. He is a freelance writer and contributor to various international news agencies such as Al Jazeera English, Middle East Eye, Mondoweiss and Counterpunch.