Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Glorifying Terrorist - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Four Islamist deputies and members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s bloc in the Jordanian parliament revealed their true colors and “stood with the other camp”!

Mohammed Abu Fares, Ali Abu al Sukkar, Ibrahim al Mashwakhi and Jaafar al Hourani descended on Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s family home in al Zarqa to pay their condolences. Abu Fares attended prayers for the Jordanian terrorist’s soul and called him a martyr, after refusing to call the victims of the Amman hotel bombings martyrs, an operation masterminded by Zarqawi himself.

This visit and glorification of al Zarqawi brought about official and popular condemnation. The four deputies were detained, after blaming the “enemies” for an escalation of tensions… Did they mean the victims’ families? The Islamic Action Front leadership found itself in an embarrassing situation, or at least it should do. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was also apologetic and offered a host of unconvincing excuses. For example, Salem al Falahat, the group’s spiritual leader, said, “Abu Fares’ remarks were his own. When we discuss martyrdom and whether the victims of the hotel bombings are victims or not, these are legal issues on which opinions are divided.”

It is as if we are involved in a specialized debate of Fiqh and not facing a dangerous political viewpoint, such as the one Abu Fares expressed, in his eulogy of al Zarqawi the martyr.

Abu Sukkar’s statements were even more ironic. He said his “morals” drove him to visit Zarqa and would not be intimidated by “intellectual or social or security terrorism that seeks to stop citizens from fulfilling their social and religious duties.

What moral sense is the one that allows you to pay your respects to al Zarqawi and remain silent at your colleague’s description of him as “terrorist”? Rhetoric that this was a “conventional” visit is ridiculous. It was political and loaded with political messages; it expresses a certain ideology and sought to prove a point.

Should I agree with conspiracy theorists who claim that the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and Palestine want to win at both ends by holding different opinions? On the one hand, the group is sending its extremist wing a message saying it remains committed and has not laid down weapons or let down the Muhajideen. On the other hand, the group is sending messages to the public and the international community claiming it is not a terrorist organization and is an experience political player and a state administrator. Hamas, in order to keep this balance, issued two statements: one lamenting al Zarqawi’s death and, the other, from Mahmoud al Zahar, denying the first one! Similarly, in Jordan, four Islamist MPs visited Zarqa while the IAF’s deputy-secretary general Arhil al Gharaybah, asserted the visit was a private one.

The fact is, one is no longer able to discern personal positions from the Brotherhood’s political tactics. Either way, the result is the same: the group’s vague position on terrorism makes it a “silent devil.

The issue at stake is larger than political games, especially in Jordan. Tahir al Udwan, editor of Al Arab al Youm newspaper, was correct when he wrote, on Monday; that Jordan is a country ruled by extremism, to the extent that a condemnation of al Zarqawi’s terrorism, the effects of which have been seen in Jordan itself, becomes an accusation of being pro-American! How is it possible that when one condemns al Zarqawi or calls him a terrorists is then accused of being a traitor and working for the Americans!

“People and the press are under the control of a sort of intellectual terrorism that says: If you criticize the terrorists, then you must be a supporter of the American occupier”, al Udwan said.

Let us be honest with each other. The problem extends beyond Jordan to the rest of the Arab world. Some people amongst us believe in al Zarqawi and consider his fundamentalist project to be correct and final. As for the condemnations one hears every occasionally, they are temporary and relate to specific incidents were the public was harm. They do not stem from a principled and absolute rejection of al Qaeda or al Zarqawi’s aims. If Abu Musab hadn’t committed terrorist acts in his native country, his death would have been celebrated by a public wedding. But his attacks inside Jordan dented his popularity. This is the crux of the problem: if al Zarqawi had sufficed himself with terrorizing Iraq, he would have become a hero!

I am aware my argument might be described as “pro-American”, a vague and comical accusation. It is as if nationalism or pride in our Islamic identity means we should celebrate our murders and those driving us backwards, such as bin Laden and al Zarqawi.

Abu Musab’s death exposed previously secret beliefs. Imagine, some people have called him a martyr! Previously, bin Laden dubbed him; Emir of the Mujahideen.

Al Zarqawi is dead. However, who can guarantee that a new one won’t emerge in his place?

He will be back, not because of the US presence in Iraq or the tragic plights of the Palestinian people, but because of the culture of sectarianism and extremism in our region, which precedes these political events.

To those who explain the extremist tendencies of al Qaeda or al Zarqawi, by referring to US policies, the Palestinian problem, or even the repression of Arab regimes, I ask: will supporting al Zarqawi or being soft on religious terrorism solve these problems?

I fear that our problem is not only religious terrorism but the rejection of any attempt at enlightenment as well as clinging on to extremism until the time comes to reap the rewards.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

More Posts