Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: A new weapon against terrorism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Saudi security forces patrol Riyadh’s Al-Munissiyah district. AFP

The Saudi government has passed a law on terrorism, defining terror crimes in detail, and laying down the relevant punishments.

The Saudi Council of Ministers agreed the law on both terror crimes and the funding of terrorism at the end of its weekly session, which takes place every Monday. According to specialists in the field the draft was highly detailed in its definition of such crimes.

According to its content, the law is aimed at “achieving balance between the dangers caused by these crimes, and the protection of human rights which are guaranteed by Islamic sharia”. The law will come into effect after the publication of the regulations on how it will be implemented. To classify the crime and determine the punishment clearly and without ambiguity is an important step.

There has been disarray up to now in the fight against terrorism because of the false perception that any legal challenge would provoke terrorist ideology.

The fact is that such intimidating excuses have hampered the fight against terrorism and resulted in weak sentencing—or none at all—for those who incite terrorism or apologize for it, those who recruit, organize, give shelter, or hide Al-Qaeda fighters and potential suicide attackers under the pretext that they are God’s soldiers—an excuse many ordinary people, especially the more naïve, are too willing to accept.

Here lies the problem—I mean the problem of an environment which encourages terrorism, and which every now and again produces another youth who blows themselves up.

It is finally over. We must widen the war on terrorism. The issue is not with the youth wearing the explosive belt, or who drives a booby-trapped car or the one who shoots at people. These are just at the end of a complex chain full of inducements and the protection provided by those who exploit charity collections and people’s religious feeling.

Not everyone is in this chain of those who do bad under the guise of doing good, because there are many who do want to do good. If we recall, there is another war in Saudi Arabia—against drugs. A law was passed and each party knew their role in this fight; the judiciary and the police, and with time, the effectiveness of this law became clear.

We now hope that the terrorism law will have the same effect, in spite of those who won’t like it, and who will be furious with the government. Chaos and intimidation are a useful weapon for those who have their own agenda.