Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Where is the Muslim March Against Terrorism? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Just as the second anniversary of the barbaric 7/7 terror attack on our capital city approached, terrorism bared its sharp teeth an unveiled it’s ugly face once again. The terrorists nearly succeeded in claiming hundreds of innocent lives had it not been for a combination of good luck, the courage of a policeman risking his life to defuse a massive bomb, the quick reaction of another off-duty police officer and passengers at Glasgow airport and the terrorists’ own incompetence.

Since the alleged Muslim plotters; Arabs and Asians, have not yet been tried in a court of law, it would be inappropriate to examine their individual cases in this column; although two of them were caught red-handed driving a blazed jeep (an Iraq-style car bomb) into Glasgow airport. I will, instead, confine my comment to looking into their sick Islamism, or Islamist ideology. We must all call them ‘ Islamists’ – until someone comes up with better terminology to distinguish them from the large body of Muslims who state that they are law abiding citizens who reject terrorism. And since the violent extremists themselves have turned the Muslim faith into a political ideology, I cannot find any other term that would be more appropriate to refer to them. These Islamists only see the world through their ideological glasses and interpret world events through their narrow view, holding any other interpretation in contempt.

I, therefore, call upon all Muslims who believe their faith to be one of peace, to speak out, distancing their religion from the ideology that Islamists use to justify mass murder, kidnapping, and terror by citing Quranic verses that they argue call directly for terminating non-Muslims.

Many Muslims write to me objecting to the use of the term ‘Islamists’ to refer to terrorist-related atrocities such as 7/7. But to illustrate the problem that journalists face in selecting appropriate terminology, one can refer to many other examples of violent political movements, especially as some aspects of their conflict run along the religious divide. The Republican movement in the Irish conflict for example had always been deeply rooted in the Catholic faith and massed support among Catholics. On the contrary, the Unionists would tease the Irish nationalists with their Orange marches, which in turn were deeply rooted in the Protestant orange order of the 17th century. However, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) never called itself a “Catholic” movement, nor did it ever in any of its literature invoke Catholic references (furthermore, the IRA, with a few exceptions mainly related to poor communication, had always given warning to avoid human casualties, while Islamist terrorism is designed to maximise human casualties).

In his video tape broadcast by Aljazeera, the 7/7 gang leader, repeatedly claimed that he committed his crime in the name of Islam, invoking verses from Quran and even referred to us, the British citizens, as the enemy (even though he was a British citizen by birth) against whom he was revenging an alleged ‘attack’ on a mythical or metaphorical entity, the Muslim Ummah (nation).

The theoreticians who set the philosophy of Islamism as a revolutionary violent political movement such as Hassan al Banna and Sayyed Qutb, the ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the granddaddy of all the modern movements, invoked selected verses from Quran when putting forward their philosophical argument to justify violence as means for their movement. They argued that it was a Muslim duty to ‘kill the disbelievers wherever you find them’. Within a few years of launching the movement (the Muslim Brotherhood), this definition of targeted victims was extended to include fellow Muslims who followed a liberal way of life which contradicted the lifestyle prescribed by the Islamists.

Those who blew up cinemas, theatres, bars and nightclubs, or murdered judges, artists and intellectuals in Egypt in the 1930s and 1940s belong to a group that was named by its founder Hassan al Banna, the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ that raised the slogan “The Messenger (Prophet Mohammed) is our leader and Jihad is our way.”

It was evident that it gave the group the ‘Muslim’ label, which baptised itself with blood, fire and death. It also associated the name of the Prophet [pbuh], which is sacred to every Muslim to a slogan that limited the meaning of Jihad to a narrow literary meaning of ‘a crusade or holy war’ rather than its much deeper philosophical meaning of one’s self discipline and spiritual commitment to elevate the lot of the individual and the community.

By the 1970s, other terrorist groups followed the example of the MB in selecting labels such as Muslim, or Islamic i.e. Islamic Jihad, al Gamaa al Islamiya (the Islamic Group), Ansar al Islam (Supporters of Islam) or adopting Islamic symbols or concepts in their names for instance, al Takfir wal Hijra (Atonement and Exodus), Mohammed’s Army, Al Nagoon min al Nar (Redemption from Hell), Tawhid and Jihad (Monotheism and Jihad), Hisba (the Reckoning).

For example, the Dagmoush clan in Gaza that kidnapped and imprisoned the BBC reporter, Alan Johnston, for 114 days (and initially wanted a ransom to release him) called itself Jaish al Islam (The Army of Islam).

What do those who accuse British journalists of linking Islam with terrorism suggest we do? Since the terror groups themselves use Islamic labels and Islamic slogans, we have little choice but to refer to those groups by the very names that they choose for themselves.

Others, who are uncomfortable with publishing facts about terrorist and violent acts at the hands of Islamists groups like MB or Hamas, also accuse journalists and columnists of being unfair in criticising these groups because they are elected by the people.

This is granted. However, would the MB collecting approximately 20% of the votes in Egypt in the 2005 parliamentary elections rewrite history and change documented historic facts and exonerate the Muslim Brothers from acts of violence including murder especially when they claim with pride that ‘jihad’ is their chosen way of struggle?

Adolf Hitler’s election by the majority of Germans in 1933 will never alter the fact that he was perhaps the biggest war criminal and mass murderer in the history of mankind. If the German people had not redeemed themselves by rejecting the Nazi ideology and making an historic apology, they would have still been held responsible for his crimes.

Almost every revolutionary political group or movement I can think of renounces violence as soon as it achieves its political objectives or joins the negotiation process for a settlement. Only the Islamist Jihadist groups have no declared aims to achieve, which would lead them to desist from terrorism. It seems that Jihadists are on a road-map for continuous terrorism, a process of indefinite permanent Islamic revolution.

It is beyond the human imagination how the failed Glasgow Airport terror attack was carried out by two doctors who had taken their Hippocratic Oath, to protect and save the sacred human life in any form.

Is it some sort of a short-circuit that fused the light in their minds and distorted the equilibrium of their souls to allow them to strike with the aim of killing as many people as possible on the first day of the Scottish school holidays when the airport was packed with families and children? Or is it the same ideology of hatred and dehumanising ‘the other’ that prompted Nazi officers to drive millions to the gas chambers? The difference in Glasgow is that the attackers targeted those who choose to lead a way of life that is not approved by the Islamists.

The car bomb discovered in the early hours of June 29, 2007 was aimed at the nightclub ‘Tiger Tiger’ in Piccadilly when it was packed with approximately 2000 women who were enjoying ‘Ladies Night’ without upsetting anyone or harming anyone. It is noteworthy that another terrorist gang (also Muslims) were jailed in April after a lengthy trial for conspiring to blow up targets including the ‘Ministry of Sound’ nightclub in London. The gang leader expressed his disgust at the nightclub following because ‘immodestly dressed women were dancing like slags all night,’ even though those ‘slags’ harmed no one. Poking his nose in other people’s business by attempting to impose a dress code on them was not enough for that sick Islamist, rather, he wanted to change the way the majority of people choose to lead their lives.

Why didn’t he leave the land of infidels and go to an ‘Islamic Emirate’ where the main duty of security service would be to protect his gentle eyes from the visual aggression of ‘immodestly dressed women?

The Islamists main aim has little to do with Britain’s foreign policy and more to do with forcing us to change our way of life in a cultural war.

It is a battle between the culture of vibrant life which is a basic human instinct, and the culture of death, as summed up by Egyptian playwright, Ali Salem, in Asharq al Awsat last month.

Terrorists want to ram their sick culture down other people’s throats and force them to change their way of life. Why not? They have already succeeded in forcing people to change their dress-code, their ways of entertainment and their way of life in regions where democracy has retreated.

Just compare the high standard of performing arts in Egyptian movies in the 1930s and 1940s with the poor standard of Egyptian television drama today. Self-censorship has always been the death of creative art. Fearing the outcry of Islamists or even the threat of terrorism that they pose, Egyptian television bosses were cowed into cutting out scenes and performances that have always been part of Egyptian culture.

We must never permit the culture of death-mongers to change our way of life or force us to change the way we eat, drink, dress, or enjoy ourselves.

Hundreds of thousands of white Britons marched in the 1970s to denounce an ultra right-wing nationalist organisation condemning its racist slogans against immigrants. Where are the British Muslims today? Why don’t they march in their thousands to denounce terrorism?

Why don’t Islamic scholars and clerics rule that coercing people into a different way of life is un-Islamic and that one of basic Islamic teaching is that “there is no compulsion in religion”?