Al-Ahram Weekly Online   11 - 17 August 2005
Issue No. 755
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Naguib Mahfouz

Faith first

By Naguib Mahfouz

There is no such thing as Islamic terror. There is only terror committed in the name of religion. Those who perpetrate acts of violence in the name of Islam remind me of the time the Inquisition spread terror in the name of Catholicism. In both cases innocent people lost their lives in acts of unspeakable horror, in bombings or at the stake. In both cases religion was not to blame, but those who used it for evil purposes.

No religion sanctions mindless bloodshed. Religions teach tolerance and love. When people resort to violence we have to look at the underlying social and political motives. Look at the situation in the Muslim world, for example. There is a heightened sense of injustice and frustration coupled with widespread economic deprivation. This may explain, but not justify, what we see. Terror is against all civilised norms. It is a backtracking on religious legacy. Terror is as shocking to Muslims as it is to everyone else.

Based on an interview by Mohamed Salmawy.

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