Breaking Glass

The Country of the Blind

In the 1960’s and 70’s, when European countries were admitting large migrant populations from predominantly Muslim regions, Western governments had a powerful vested interest in encouraging the growth of politicized Islam of the straitest sect.  European political attitudes were shaped absolutely by the Cold War confrontation, and the Middle East featured chiefly as a theater of East-West ideological rivalry.  The nightmare was that Soviet-tied communists would establish themselves throughout the region, probably using secular socialist and nationalist parties as fronts, and that would place the vast oil resources in the hands of the Soviet bloc.

The primary danger seemed to be the modernizing nationalism of Nasserism, Ba’athism, or revolutionary socialism, the fashionable and exciting Middle Eastern ideologies of the day.  Incidentally, many of these modernizing movements had a potent Christian element in their history and leadership.  Christian intellectuals and militants were much in evidence both in Ba’athism and among the radical Palestinian guerrilla groups.  To combat this threat, Western governments and intelligence agencies actively cooperated with the enemies of secular governments such as Nasser’s Egypt or Ba’athist Syria and Iraq—the sponsors of all those pesky Christian terrorists—and that meant tolerating and allying with the Muslim Brotherhood,...

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