Talking to the “enemy”

The Western conundrum over Islamism:

“So, you spoke to the leaders of Hezbollah?”
“And you also speak with the leaders of Hamas?”
“And they told you that they support democracy?”
“And you believe them?”

With this the leader of a Washington think-tank smiled satisfied to her audience and sat down.

Clearly the biting scepticism of her question “and you believe them?” was fairly clear. It implies a conviction that Islamists have nothing to say, or if they do speak, and when they do have something to say, that this is just babble with no particular meaning or sense to it. This exchange conveys the sense in the West that when Islamists speak, their language is somehow shadowy, unreachable and coded, whereas our language – the language of the West – is transparent, accessible and honest. When we say we support democracy, we are serious, whereas when Hezbollah or Hamas say that they support democracy, then they, of course, are lying. This is the implication of the way that the question above was framed.

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