Ye Xiaowen On The War In Iraq

Ordinarily, an essay from the State Bureau of Religious Affairs director would not be of interest.  The essay was originally published on February 1 on the front page of the overseas edition of People's Daily.  It did not draw a great deal of attention. However, attention has been revived and actually soared because it was noted that the article had been quietly removed from state-backed websites (e.g. People's Daily, Xinhua, etc).  This is one of the contradictions of censorship in China --- being known to be censored is the best way to get publicity.  Now everybody wants to read the original essay and analyze the reason for its removal.  This essay has been translated below, together with a copy of the original Chinese.


(SCMP)  Article critical of Iraqi war taken off websites.  Minnie Chan.  February 11, 2007.

Beijing has removed an article from prominent mainland websites that is deeply critical of the US-led war in Iraq and written by the mainland's religious affairs chief, an overseas religion watchdog said yesterday.  According to US-based rights group China Aid Association, the government has taken the article off state-backed websites - including the People's Daily, Xinhua and - fearing it could be misunderstood by the US.

The People's Daily commentary, written by State Bureau of Religious Affairs director Ye Xiaowen on February 1 and titled "Bush should reflect deeply", urged the US administration to perform a "comprehensive self-examination" over the war.  Mr Ye said US President George W. Bush had lost support domestically and internationally, as reflected in a series of anti-war protests in Washington and other countries. He said Mr Bush should scrap his unilateral approach and respect religious diversity in his "war on terror" to resolve the problems of Iraq.  Mr Ye also criticised terms such as "crusade" and "Islamic fascism" that Mr Bush had used in relation to the war in Iraq.

"How can you link anti-terrorism with a particular religion?" Mr Ye asked.  He said Washington believed it could use Christian civilisation to reform Islam, but elections and the downfall of Saddam Hussein had transformed Iraq into a "meat grinder" that had engulfed innocent lives rather than create a haven for democracy.  "Unilateralism and terrorism breed each other, but neither can overcome the other. Terrorism cheats people under the guise of religion. Why should unilateralism hijack religion as well?" he asked.

US-based China Aid Association said a Beijing source had said it was unprecedented for Mr Ye to openly criticise a foreign president in an article in the state mouthpiece, adding Beijing believed Mr Ye had overstepped his power.  Although Mr Ye's article was scrapped from state-backed websites, as well as other official media, internet users could still read the article on non-official news websites and personal blogs.  "Ye's article has also invited speculation as to whether his view represented Beijing," the association said. "In order to `put out the fire', the central government has already erased the article from all official websites."

Relevant Link:  (Asia Times)  Islam as a political issue in China.  February 10, 2007.

[in translation]

Bush Should Reflect Deeply.  By State Bureau of Religious Affairs director Ye Xiaowen (叶小文).

At first, after the world-shattering 911 incident occurred, the whole world stood up to oppose terrorism.  "Those who are righteous receive help, those who are not righteous lose help."  So why has the war in Iraq started by the United States in the name of anti-terrorism not received broad support across the world?  Why are its own citiziens rising pu to opposte the war now?  The problem is with "not being righteous."

American president Bush began with a "slip of the tongue."  In one speech, he slipped that he wanted to launch "a crusade" against terrorism.  He had to apologize after the Islamic nations complained, and he chose the name "Operation Infinite Justice."  The Islamic countries were still unhappy because they believed that it offended the authority of Allah.  So he changed the name to "Operation Enduring Freedom."  But the war against terrorism later did not change its tune because the slogan was to "reform Islam" and it did not mince words by saying that the war was against "Islamic fascism."

Why should anti-terrorism be tied to a specific religion?

Religions are forms of social ideology which reflect social, political and economic contradictions.  The clashes around the world over religious issues all have conflicts of economic and political interests in the background.  The "clash of civilizations" is just a cover for clashes of real interests.  In matters of social, political and economic contradictions, religion often serve special purposes.  Actual economic and political interests often make use of religion.  By putting on the fig leaf of religion, the activities are often said to be done "in the name of religion." 

Once religion is injected into a conflict, then it becomes not just a matter of "the name."  The matter becomes more complicated, intense and confusing.  On one hand, the conflict may spin out of control once religious sentiments explode into the open.  On the other hand, the conflict may psychologically create an unbreakable molass of problems.

The United States was confident that they would be victorious in Iraq, because the United States was able not just to use its superior military might to attack "Islamic fascism" but it would also use Christian civilization to "reform Islam."  This war therefore made use of religion to a certain extent.  But the iron fist was unable to conquer the Islamic resistance.  It was also unable to use the soft power of democratic elections to turn Iraq into a democratic paradise.

The United States knew how to arrest and hang former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, but it could not remove the Koran that Saddam Hussein held up in court when the death sentence was pronounced and it could not shut Saddam Hussein up when he shouted "I bear witness that Mohammed ..." with the noose around his neck.  It overthrew the rule of Saddam Hussein, but it opened up the factional and sectarian struggle for power and interests.  In Iraq, the Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis and al Qaeda are engaged in internal struggle and fighting each other.  They are like wild horses on the loose and out of control.  The frequent armed clashes has turned Iraq into a meatgrinding machine with innocent lives being swallowed up every day.

The United States is getting deeper and deeper into this meatgrinder.  It can neither move forward nor backward.  How many more soldiers it send to die?

The United States has its strong and powerful American dollars, American aid, American capital and American soldiers and it wants to fight terrorism and seek hegemony; international terrorism has the fundamentalists in the Islamic revivalist moverment who rise one after another, here there and everywhere.  "Unilateralism" and "terrorism" are symbiotic,.as neither can overcome the other; they complement each other as neither can substitute for the other.  When will the mutual hatred and acrimony ever end?  If "terrorism" wants to wear a religious cloak to deceive people, why does "unilateralism" also to want to hold up a religious banner to bluff people?  When anti-terrorism is linked to religion, it can only create more chaos; more anti-terrorism would therefore lead to even more chaos.  As the United States suffer the pain of "those who are not righteous lose help," might it try to forsake "unilateralism" and respect "peace and diversity"?

[Note: Unknown to this translation, a different translation was previously published at China Elections and Governance]

布什应该好好反思  国家宗教局局长 叶小文


口误,他曾在一次讲话中脱口而出,要用十字军东征打击恐怖主义。遭到伊斯兰国家的抗议而不得不道歉,改口为正义无限 行动。伊斯兰国家仍然不满,认为冒犯了真主的权威,遂再次改口为持久自由行动。但此后开展的反恐战争却并不改口,打出的旗号从改造伊斯兰,竟然 到直言不讳地要反对伊斯兰法西斯主义


  尽管宗教作为一种社会意识 形态,不过是社会政治、经济矛盾的反映,当今世界因宗教问题引起的冲突,其背后都是经济、政治利益的冲突,
文明冲突不过是实际利益冲突的幌子,但在社 会政治、经济矛盾的运动中,宗教常常起着特殊的作用。宗教凝聚着众多群众,有时甚至可以调动巨大的力量,掀起声势浩大的宗教运动。实际的经济、政治利益的 冲突常常从宗教借光借力,披上宗教的神圣外衣,其行为常常被说成以宗教的名义。而宗教一旦卷入冲突之中,就不仅仅是一个名义问题,冲突 会因之而变得复杂尖锐、扑朔迷离,一方面冲突会以宗教感情爆发出来而不可收拾,一方面冲突又会以心理积淀深埋下去而成为剪不断、理还乱的死结。美国本 以为伊拉克战争必胜无疑,因为美国不仅能以超强的军事实力打击伊斯兰法西斯主义,而且能用基督教文明改造伊斯兰。但这场一定程度上从宗教借 光借力借名义的战争,不但未能用铁拳把伊拉克抵抗力量打服帖,也无法用民主选举的软实力将伊拉克改造成民主的乐土。美国有办法抓住和绞死伊 拉克的前总统萨达姆,但无法拿掉萨达姆在被法庭宣布死刑的那一刻还高举着的《古兰经》,无法封住萨达姆在脖子套着绞索的那一刻还高喊让穆罕默德作证的 那张嘴。推翻了萨达姆的统治,却揭开了不同族群、教派争权夺利的盖子。现在伊拉克的什叶派、库尔德人、逊尼派、基地组织相互倾轧、干戈四起,犹如野马脱 缰,难以控制。频频发生的武装冲突,使伊拉克变成了绞肉机,每天都吞噬着无辜的生命。


   美国以雄厚、强大的美钞、美援、美资、美军为背景,既要反恐,也要称霸;国际恐怖主义以伊斯兰复兴运动中原教旨主义崛起的大潮为背景,前仆后继,此起彼 伏。
单边主义恐怖主义相生相克,谁也制服不了谁;相克相生,谁也取代不了谁。冤冤相报何时了?恐怖主义要披着宗教的外衣骗人,单边主义 何必也去拽着宗教的大旗唬人?反恐拽上宗教,只能乱上添乱,越反越恐。美国在失道寡助的痛楚中,能否尝试一下放弃单边主义,尊重和而不同