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The fight against terrorism is our war
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The United Arab Emirates has given, through law, a practical lesson after its Federal Supreme Court sentenced to death Alaa Al-Hashemi, the woman known as the Al-Reem Island ghost, who stabbed to death an American woman at an Abu Dhabi shopping mall last December. The court rejected claims that Hashemi suffers from psychological problems, instead providing evidence that she was radicalized online.

Does anyone still doubt that “all” Arabs and Muslims are involved in an existential war with armed extremist groups?

We all saw what happened in Egypt on Monday, when the country’s prosecutor-general was killed by a car bomb. The assassination coincided with the second anniversary of the revolution that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood.

And now, while you are reading this article, Egypt is fighting a war with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in North Sinai.

After the criminal attack that targeted Shi’ite citizens at the Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque, Kuwait decided to follow a new path, declaring an all-out war on armed extremists—whether belonging to ISIS or not—and taking a series of procedures, including strict legislations.

Following the criminal beach attack in Sousse, Tunisia has also has entered into an open war with armed religious groups. President Beji Caid El-Sebsi has said the country will take strong measures in response to the attack. Even in Britain Prime Minister David Cameron said in recent days ISIS poses “an existential threat” to the West.

But we need to see the big picture, not just the minor details. The problem is in no way limited to a specific country. It goes far beyond country-specific problems, such as the removal of Egypt’s Islamist former president Mohamed Mursi; the sectarian behavior of Abdul Hameed Dashti and Walid Al-Tabtabai, two Kuwaiti MPs; Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali’s time in office; secret plots against Rachid Ghannouchi’s Ennahda Movement in Tunisia; or the conduct of the British police as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) apologists claim.

All these details limit our vision because the problem is much deeper and bigger. It lies in the “mentality” that dominates the consciousness of ordinary Muslims, young and old, and the Sunni and Shi’ite sheikhs who instigate sedition in society.

To put it differently, I acknowledge that each country has its own political circumstances and that several intelligence agencies are recruiting some Islamist groups, with or without their knowledge, to target their enemies in the Arab world, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Nevertheless, we should not lose sight of the bigger picture: the fundamental flaw in the culture that produces the fighters and supporters of Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Brotherhood. This flaw is the source of the entire misfortune which has been left uncured.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said during the funeral procession of prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat that Egypt is fighting a war with a despicable enemy, and despite a weak legal system. Therefore, he added, Egypt must introduce legal reforms to cope with the threat of terrorism.

Kuwait’s interior minister said in recent days his country was facing a real war and that it was seeking to introduce new legislation and policies to enable it to fight terrorists and those who look up to them.

Declaring war on those groups will reduce a heavy cost that could be caused by laxity and procrastination. It is a war we have delayed for far too long.

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.

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