March 24, 2015
Islam is the second largest religion in the
Netherlands. Rotterdam, for example, harbours a Muslim population of about 15
percent. A couple of weeks ago, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks,
the city Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, himself a Muslim, said extremists who do not
like freedom and the country’s peaceful way of life, and wish to fight along
with ISIL can pack their bags and leave. There are even those who believe that
it would be better for them to die fighting than to return.
As ISIL keeps attracting recruits from the country,
apparently there is a struggle for the minds of the young Muslims. The question
“How can we prevent our children joining ISIL?” is a topical one today among
Muslims living in the U.S. and Europe. European countries are presently
approaching this threat in terms of security measures.
To prevent people joining ISIL, checks at the borders
have been stepped up. Yet the way that three British girls managed to cross
into Syria from Turkey despite all the precautions clearly shows that security
measures by themselves are not enough.i
To combat this problem, it is very important to
identify its source. Monitoring, arresting, and jailing youth, or telling them
to “get lost” is not the solution. One of the factors turning young people
toward ISIL is the conditions in and histories of the countries they live in.
Such statements will only increase the resentment these Muslims harbor.
Many European Muslims believe they are being treated
as second-class citizens in their countries. They are unable to enjoy the
average levels of prosperity. Many of them, as in France, live in the slums
around the major metropolitan areas.
Henri Astier, author of a piece titled “French
election irrelevant in poor suburbs,” featured on the BBC website, says that
Muslims in France feel marginalized and neglected. The piece also says that
discrimination still occurs in employment and that the police mistreat migrants
of Muslim origin.ii
When inappropriate legal regulations introduced by
governments are added to this discontent, feelings of social exclusion grow
even stronger. Muslims working in crèchesin France, or even those looking after
other people’s children in their own homes, being forbidden from wearing
headscarves is one example of this. The outcomes of such measures need to be
well thought out.
Attacks on mosques in European countries,iii the
‘kebab murders’ by the NSU organization in Germanyiv and movements such as
PEGIDA further encourage the trend to radicalization among Muslims in Europe.
Another factor is events from the past. France
colonized several Muslim countries and imposed an authoritarian rule over them
for many years. The French Army has been accused of committing massacres and
torture during the War of Independence in Algeria.
While French President François Hollande referred to
this repression on the part of France in a speech, he did not feel it necessary
to apologize for it.v A similar attitude can also be observed in events in
Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
The U.S. attacked Iraq on the grounds it was producing
weapons of mass destruction. When it became clear that this was untrue,vi it
declared that the reason for the war was to bring freedom and democracy to
Iraq.vii Yet it brought neither freedom nor democracy to Iraq, only death,
sectarian violence and conflict.
According to an academic study by university
researchers from Iraq, the U.S. and Canada, more than 400,000 civilians lost their
lives in Iraq in fighting between 2003 and 2011.viii The words of General Tommy
Ray Franks, the commander of the U.S. Army occupying Iraq, ‘We don’t do body
counts’, showed the insensitivity of the U.S. to civilian deaths.ix
When there is a threat to their own citizens, Western
countries have no qualms about bombing and destroying another country and
killing its civilians. In the face of all this, ISIL attracts supporters by
saying, ‘We are protecting Islam against those attacks.’
Although the Western media claim that the reason why
ISIL is attractive to Muslims is because it pays each fighter $1,500 a month,
there are much more important reasons. To justify its actions, ISIL refers to
sources regarded as legitimate by Muslims; these works consist of statements
largely based on nonsense alleged to be the work of various Islamic scholars.
ISIL claims that many Muslims lack the courage to apply them, but that it,
however, is implementing them successfully.
People with insufficient or inaccurate information
concerning Islam and the Qur’an believe what ISIL tells them and think that
Islam does indeed encourage bloodshed, despises women and rejects science and
art. However, all those ideas are diametrically opposed to the Qur’an. What is
asked of Muslims in Islam is to be forgiving, to study science and to consider
women superior and be affectionate and protective towards them. Yet, the
majority of Muslims are unaware of this since they abandon the Qur’an and
follow superstitions instead.
So what needs to be done? First, it should be accepted
that coercive or suppressive legal measures have negative effects. It should be
emphasized that Islam is not to be equated with radicalism and that Muslims
should not therefore be treated as potential terrorists.
European Muslims’ social and economic conditions must
be improved. Mistreatment of Muslims as second-class citizens by government
officials in Europe should be prevented. The main thing that can be done,
however, is to make it clear that the extremist conception of Islam is wholly
incompatible with the Qur’an; a comprehensive and rapid education policy should
Western governments should initiate mandatory
education based solely on the Qur’an and divorced from the superstitions in
Islamic institutions. It should also be made clear to the rest of the community
that the Qur’an has nothing whatsoever to do with radicalism.
If all these suggestions are ignored and the old
familiar policies that do not produce any solution are persisted with, then the
number of people joining ISIL and acts of terror in Europe will simply grow
even further, and radicalism will grow stronger.
Harun Yahya has authored
more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and