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'Success of Arab Spring is rejection of al-Qaida'

world Updated: Sep 02, 2011 11:53 IST

The threat posed by extremists to the US and its allies across the globe in particular in the Muslim world is real, a top American Senator has said, as he described the success of Arab Spring as an "ultimate repudiation" of al-Qaida and its ideology.

"It has become fashionable in some quarters to characterise the past decade as a period in which America mistakenly exaggerated the danger posed by Islamist extremism and terrorism and overreacted in the wake of 9/11," Senator Joe Lieberman, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said.

This view is, in my judgement, profoundly mistaken and if embraced would lead to a false and dangerous road map to our future, Lieberman said. "The threat Islamists pose to us and our allies throughout the world, including most particularly the Muslim world, is absolutely real. Had we not acted in the way we did for the past 10 years, it's very likely that we would not enjoy the luxury today of debating whether we overreacted to the threat," Lieberman said in his speech at the National Press Club here. "I assume this refusal of the administration to speak honestly about the enemy is based on its desire not to do anything that might feed into al-Qaida's propaganda that we're engaged in a, quote, 'war against Islam'," he said.

Throughout the Middle East, we see the narrative of violent Islamist extremism being rejected by tens of millions of Muslims who are rising up and peacefully demanding lives of democracy and dignity, of opportunity in the economy and involvement in the modern world, he said. "Indeed, the rallying cry of the Arab Spring and its successes thus far are the ultimate repudiations of al-Qaida and everything Islamist extremism stands for. I would like to think, I hope that our willingness to stand up to violent extremist repressive Islam, in the name of human rights, may have given to the people of the Arab world some of the courage and principle that they have so remarkably shown in the last several months," he said.

Lieberman said to win this struggle, it's vital to understand that they are not just fighting an organisation, al-Qaida, but are up against a broader ideology, a politicised theology, quite separate from the religion of Islam, that has fuelled this war.

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