Terrorists have a name
What do you call a terrorist? Rasha Saad
finds a few ingenuous terms linked to Islam
Pundits in the London-based, Saudi-owned daily Asharq Al-Awsat focussed on terror and terrorism this week.
Referring to the latest aborted London car bomb attempts, Adel Darwish wrote that just as the second anniversary of the "barbaric 7/7 terror attack" on London approached, "terrorism bared its sharp teeth and unveiled its ugly face once again. The terrorists nearly succeeded in claiming hundreds of innocent lives."
Darwish, who said he believed it would be inappropriate to examine individual cases of the alleged Muslim plotters since they have not yet been tried in a court of law, confined his comment to looking into their "sick Islamism", or "Islamist ideology". He, however, pointed out that many Muslims wrote to him objecting to the use of the term "Islamists" when referring to terrorist- related atrocities such as 7/7.
"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," Darwish wrote. But he added that since violent extremists themselves have turned the Muslim faith into a political ideology, he cannot find any other term that would be more appropriate to refer to them. Darwish added that "Islamists" only see the world through their ideological glasses and interpret world events through their narrow view, holding any other interpretation in contempt.
"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."
Darwish argued, "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."
In an article entitled "Who dispatched Saudi youth?" Mshari Al-Zaydi was alarmed by the news that 45 Saudis have been fighting with the terrorist group Fatah Al-Islam in the Nahr Al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. Twenty-three of them have been killed and buried in a mass grave.
Al-Zaydi warns that nearly every day we hear that a Saudi national has participated with Al-Qaeda in an attack in Iraq, or is being tried on charges of being implicated with Al-Qaeda, or is imprisoned because of a connection to fundamentalist militant activities. He points out that he acknowledges the participation of non-Saudis but that "there are far more Saudi elements in the conflagrations breaking out everywhere."
"Have Saudi Arabia's youth been turned into fuel that is ready to be used in any fire that breaks out here or there? Are they victims or perpetrators or both?" Al-Zaydi asked.
Al-Zaydi wrote that undoubtedly most, but not all of them, are naïve individuals who readily believe, readily execute and readily forget "but what is the machine that produces these men? Who operates it and who does the maintenance work when it breaks down?"
Al-Zaydi wrote that for Saudi youth to stop being used as firewood to serve the blaze of global terrorism there should be a reconsideration of certain religious and social conditions, the expansion of social horizons and ridding development of religious politicisation so that the state may advance into the future without fear.
He believes that the crux of the problem lies in the fact that such a request is handled by those who benefit from keeping social and religious affairs unchanged because it means the disintegration of the hegemony and the tutelage practised in the name of virtue and religious zeal over the rest of the people.
Abdul-Rahman Al-Rashed tackled the involvement of clerics in politics. He wrote that until the 1980s mosques have been places of worship, free of the obsession of politics.
"The embroilment of the clergy, in the sense of their engaging in politics, at the party, propagation and military level is an innovation which became attractive to some of those who frequent mosques... And it expanded until it went out of control."
According to Al-Rashed, mosques dissented from society and the existing order and led rebellions from Finsbury Park in London to the Red Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan. He added that scores of mosques in the Arab world, in Indonesia, Pakistan and Europe were targeted by those who espouse extremist thought and turned their imams into propagators of takfir [those who hold other Muslims to be unbelievers], and their propagators into leaders of recruitment, and their prayers into occasions for collecting funds to finance military and political action to promote their ideas.
The dilemma, according to Al-Rashed, is that many mosque preachers have an elementary knowledge of politics and see matters as either black or white. "They are easy to enlist and exploit in the name of supporting their weak brothers, without their realising the nature of the conflicts raging in the region, and who stands behind them."
In the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, Jamil Thiyabi wrote that in the Arab world terrorist activities are on the rise, extending week after week, from one country to another. He said those not struck by the attacks of so-called "Jihadis" should perhaps expect to feel their wrath in coming years.
Thiyabi said one of the solutions to curtail terrorism should be exchanging information and data among Arab countries by establishing Arab research centres.
"Where are the effective Arab research centres and their national role? Are the Arab countries benefiting from locally produced studies and those offered overseas?"
Thiyabi says that when you ask officials about how data gathering and exchange takes place between security apparatuses, and on the dangers of fundamentalist groups and their leaders who abuse religion, you get "empty and bankrupt responses that are neither based on scientific methodology nor on empirical or field research."
He said Arab governments should start studying the causes contributing to the increase in the membership of terrorist groups plaguing the Arab world east and West and warned, "if they fail to do so, the map of the region may change, not as a result of the greater or new Middle East initiatives promoted by the US, but as a result of terrorists who carry their coffins on their heads, believing that once they blow themselves up and commit suicide, they will go off to heaven to embrace the virgins there."
In its editorial "Will the state of terrorism be established?", the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh wrote that the real threat is not simply that terrorists strike different spots in the world but that these groups might succeed in assuming power in countries such as Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia, turning them into a base of sympathisers of terrorists.
The editorial also warned that the world is divided into states that support terrorism, states that are silent and states that are awash with terrorists. "The international community should avoid political and ideological divisions and act as one front in the face of terrorism," the editorial said.