IN OTHER WORDS
It is hardly news that Osama bin Laden does not share the enlightenment value pla-ced on a citizen’s right to vote for a representative government. Nonetheless, the latest audiotape from the Al Qaeda leader, parts of which were played on Al Jazeera last week, does illustrate just how reactionary his reasons are for rejecting not only the elections scheduled for Jan. 30 in Iraq but also Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza on January 9.
Laden castigates the planned election of an Iraqi national assembly to draft a constitution, saying: “In the balance of Islam, this constitution is infidel.” This is the reflection of a doctrine drawn from a literalist interpretation of Islamic texts and traditions. It is the distillation of a political ideology that has its own theorists and propagandists.
Laden’s worldview is harshly exclusionary. In Iraq, as in the West Bank and Gaza, surveys indicate a popular will to hold elections. Yet Laden takes it upon himself to warn that “anyone who participates in these elections has committed apostasy against Allah.” These are not merely eccentric views of the political behavior required of Muslims; they amount to Laden’s death threat against all Iraqis and Palestinians who may be planning to vote this month. Bin Laden is waging a war within Islam, a war against all Muslims who refuse to obey his commands. — The Boston Globe