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Islam,Terrorism and Jihad (23 Dec 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

How Not To Fight Terror

By Aijaz Zaka Syed

December 23, 2016

Yet another attack in the heart of Europe and yet another mad rush to tie it to Islam and its followers. The Berlin truck attack this week on a Christmas market, killing 12 innocent shoppers and reminding many of the horrific Bastille Day outrage in France last year, has set off tongues wagging across Europe. Many on the Right have pounced on it to blame German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s generous welcome of a million refugees last year.

UK’s Nigel Farage, who apparently advises Donald Trump and has helped his monstrous metamorphosis, tweeted, “Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise. Events like these will be the Merkel legacy”.

His protege himself tweeted, “Today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany – and it is only getting worse. The civilised world must change thinking!” Mercifully, the incoming US leader has acknowledged the gun attack on a mosque in Switzerland the same day, which has been ignored by much of the media.

Unlike others, Merkel has been very restrained and dignified in her response to the Berlin attack – fighting temptation to blame the usual suspects. Amid the unfolding crisis, the German leader has remained a beacon of sanity, as Anne Perkins acknowledges.

Facing a difficult re-election ahead, Merkel has been under intense pressure to shut the door in the face of refugees from the Middle East. She is being pushed by the media and politicians on the Right to crack down on civil liberties, especially those of Muslims – as was been the case in France after the Paris attacks.

However, doing so would be a great tragedy and would play right into the hands of extremists. This is precisely what groups like Isis want. The isolation and demonisation of Islam and Muslims and a crackdown on their freedom and human rights help and further their divisive, nihilistic worldview, offering them ready recruits.

In the words of Owen Jones, “Terrorist fanatics and the West’s ascendant populist Right are now working in tandem. They are feeding off each other. They are interdependent. Their fortunes rise with each other. From Donald Trump to France’s Marine Le Pen to the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, the populist Right will now be carefully plotting how they will extract political dividends from the horror. Muslims as a whole will fall under ever greater suspicion”.

Indeed, this has been the pattern and dominant political narrative on both sides of the Atlantic. With the election of Trump to the most powerful office on the planet, our worst waking nightmare – and that of Americans – has come true and now it appears on the verge of being visited in Europe. Fascism is on the march across the continent – from the original land of the free, France – to the picturesque Scandinavian climes of Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

This would be welcomed by the extremist fringe represented in Isis and Al-Qaeda who have been trying hard, in tandem with their ideological counterparts in the West, to push the apocalyptic worldview that Islam and West are essentially antithetical and must destroy each other to rule the world.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Arabs and Muslims around the world are as distressed and saddened by these senseless killings and attacks targeting innocent bystanders. Indeed, their pain is even more acute considering these cowardly acts are ostensibly carried out in their name and in the name of their faith.

More important, more than the West and more than anyone else, it is Islam and Muslims who have suffered the most and been the chief victims of terrorism and extremist violence.

Look at the toll it has taken on the Middle East. Entire countries have been destroyed by the chaos unleashed by terrorist violence which in turn has been in response to the lopsided policies and systems inherited by the region from the colonial order. From the sub-Saharan Africa and Arab Maghreb to the Gulf and south-central Asia, violence has wrecked millions of lives and many parts of the Islamic world.

Long before Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was gunned down on live TV by a renegade cop, apparently to protest Moscow’s role in the bloodshed and destruction of Syria and Aleppo, Nato’s only Muslim member country has been constantly at the receiving end, witnessing some of the largest terror attacks in recent history.

Only this past week, 46 people were killed – 36 of them policemen – in a massive attack in Istanbul’s Besiktas municipality. As I write this, there are reports of 13 Turkish soldiers having been killed fighting Isis along the border with Syria. December has been a disastrous month for a country that acts as a bridge between the East and the West.

Indeed, 2016 has been the cruellest year in Turkey’s history – recording at least a dozen attacks, eight of them in its largest and most cosmopolitan city, Istanbul.

Who can forget the savage strike on the Ataturk International Airport that killed 45 people and injured hundreds in June this year besides destroying the airport? Or the one in Gaziantep that killed 57 people in August?

By taking on terrorists as well as by opening its borders to tens of thousands of desperate Syrian refugees, Turkey has paid a colossal price in many ways. One of Europe’s fastest growing economies has also been bleeding on another account. Frequent attacks have been driving tourists away.

The case of Egypt has been similar – its economy has grievously suffered because of recurring attacks – the most recent one being the bombing of Cairo’s biggest Coptic cathedral. Libya, next door, has been torn into several bits and pieces by various armed groups.

Indeed, the Islamic world has paid an incalculable price for being the battlefront and ground zero of the West’s war. Look at the havoc wreaked on the ancient cities of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and other countries in the region.

Even Pakistan, panned by India as the epicentre of terror, continues to bleed with attacks on mosques, churches and even schools. Remember the despicable attack on the Peshawar school that killed 145 students and teachers in 2014?

Yet we are, time and again, bracketed with terror. What would it take for the world to understand that Muslims are almost as big a victim as anyone else, if not more, of the scourge of extremism?

Muslims and the West cannot win the war on extremism by stigmatising or fighting each other. They must work together to confront the sources and drivers of violence, including the rising spectre of Islamophobia in the West. Emboldened by the rhetoric of politicians like Trump, Farage and Le Pen, there has been a sudden rise in attacks on Muslims everywhere. This in turn feeds the anger and sense of alienation that extremists prey on.

We reap as we sow.  What unites Muslims and the West is far greater than what divides them. We need to promote greater forbearance and understanding of each other’s beliefs, cultures and sensitivities. Our diversity is what makes our world so beautiful. We should celebrate our distinctions rather than fight over them. This is our shared heritage.

Western and Muslim leaders, intellectuals and influencers must work together to build bridges between the two great civilisations, not polarise them further.

Do not let a tiny fringe hold us to ransom and destroy our humanity. We are in this together.

Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Middle East based columnist.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/173780-How-not-to-fight-terror

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,terrorism-and-jihad/aijaz-zaka-syed/how-not-to-fight-terror/d/109465


  • The majority of the people in any country are the marginalized and disenfranchised lot. They are politically passive and therefore remain invisible. They are therefore even thought to be irrelevant. Be that as it may, it does not change the fact that they may be saddened by the events.

    Let us not make the same mistake as the extremists do, in holding the entire population responsible as approver, for the wars waged by their governments, just because they are not seen to be protesting.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/24/2016 12:06:53 AM

  • The author says: “The Arabs and Muslims around the world are as distressed and saddened by these senseless killings and attacks targeting innocent bystanders.” But by visible appearances they are far less saddened and grieved than when a lone Western journalist writes or draws something that is demeaning of the Prophet. Put it another way, the heaven breaks loose over the heads of the Muslim world if a non-Muslim dares to insult their Prophet. The other day, 200,000 Muslims take to street when a Christian governer of their province made a passing but innocuous  reference to the Qur’an – but I have not heard of even a group of 1000 Muslims protesting against ISIS brutality.

    In my considered assessment, blind fear of God is so overwhelming in Muslim psyche that even the most horrendous crime or grotesque act which is accompanied with the Shahada, fills them with awe and they do not muster the courage to protest. So, no doubt, like the members of other faith communities the Muslims are horrified at the brutalities of ISIS and the carnage of terror attacks – but since the terrorists shout out the Shahada while perpetrating their crimes, the Muslims feel afraid to launch any loud and massive protest. “Deaf, Dumb and Blind – they cannot fiind their way”
    By muhammad yunus - 12/23/2016 10:35:17 PM

  • By failing to protest against terrorism in loud, visible and massive ways - such as organizing mammoth rallies, road marshes refuting and denouncing terrorism as this writer repeated suggested to an elite group of  American/ global Muslims via chain mails has rendered the Muslim community as the tact allies or sympathizers of the terrorists. So we pay the

    By muhammad yunus - 12/23/2016 10:07:59 PM

  • Reasonable and well balanced article. Deserves better responses  than mean-spirited wise-cracks.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 12/23/2016 6:16:15 PM

  • shutting the doors on the immigrants would play into the hands of extremists. opening the doors to immigrants would play into the hands of lorry drivers.

    may be we need to have two doors. one to keep ajar and the other to keep firmly shut.

    this should do the trick.

    By hats off! - 12/23/2016 7:03:15 AM

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