September 14, 2004
Friend of FLAME:
President George Bush made a provocative observation last week, to
the effect that we would never win the battle against terrorism. One
thing is clear: No matter how much military might the U.S., Israel
and other nations throw at Islamic terrorism, it only takes a few
perverse fanatics to commit devastating terrorist acts. Terrorism
will not stop until Muslims stop believing that it's appropriate,
moral and effective. For this reason, we are not fundamentally engaged
in a military war, but rather in an ideological one, and until Muslim
leaders and the Muslim "street" condemn terrorism outright,
we will likely have no respite from its horrors. Where then are the
"moderate" Muslim voices? Until now, the deafening silence
of the Muslim world in the face of atrocities in Israel, Iraq, Russia,
Bali, Kenya, the Philippines and India have made all Muslims seem
complicit. This passivity has caused many commentators to blame not
just Islamic extremists, but Islam itself. After all, if you're not
forthrightly against the terrorism of your brethren, on a de facto
level you are supporting it. Now, finally, last week, after the murder
of some 335 school children, parents and teachers in Beslan, Russia,
a responsible Muslim figure has condemned such behavior. The article
below was written by Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of the
Al-Arabiya news channel. The previous day, his article appeared in
the pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. This bold, self-critical
analysis should serve as a wake-up call to other Muslim leaders. We
hope it will inspire an outcry against the barbaric behavior of those
who kill innocents in the name of Allah.
Innocent religion is now a message
The Sunday Telegraph (London)
September 5, 2004
It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is
equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists
The hostage-takers of children in Beslan, North Ossetia, were Muslims.
The other hostage-takers and subsequent murderers of the Nepalese
chefs and workers in Iraq were also Muslims. Those involved in rape
and murder in Darfur, Sudan, are Muslims, with other Muslims chosen
to be their victims.
Those responsible for the attacks on residential towers in Riyadh
and Khobar were Muslims. The two women who crashed two airliners last
week were also Muslims.
Bin Laden is a Muslim. The majority of those who manned the suicide
bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all
over the world, were Muslim.
What a pathetic record. What an abominable "achievement".
Does all this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies and
These images, when put together, or taken separately, are shameful
and degrading. But let us start with putting an end to a history of
denial. Let us acknowledge their reality, instead of denying them
and seeking to justify them with sound and fury signifying nothing.
For it would be easy to cure ourselves if we realise the seriousness
of our sickness. Self-cure starts with self-realisation and confession.
We should then run after our terrorist sons, in the full knowledge
that they are the sour grapes of a deformed culture.
Let us listen to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Sheikh - the Qatar-based radical
Egyptian cleric and hear him recite his "fatwa" about
the religious permissibility of killing civilian Americans in Iraq.
Let us contemplate the incident of this religious Sheikh allowing,
nay even calling for, the murder of civilians.
This ailing Sheikh, in his last days, with two daughters studying
in "infidel" Britain, soliciting children to kill innocent
How could this Sheikh face the mother of the youthful Nick Berg, who
was slaughtered in Iraq because he wanted to build communication towers
in that ravished country? How can we believe him when he tells us
that Islam is the religion of mercy and peace while he is turning
it into a religion of blood and slaughter?
In a different era, we used to consider the extremists, with nationalist
or Leftist leanings, a menace and a source of corruption because of
their adoption of violence as a means of discourse and their involvement
in murder as an easy shortcut to their objectives.
At that time, the mosque used to be a haven, and the voice of religion
used to be that of peace and reconciliation. Religious sermons were
warm behests for a moral order and an ethical life.
Then came the Neo-Muslims. An innocent and benevolent religion, whose
verses prohibit the felling of trees in the absence of urgent necessity,
that calls murder the most heinous of crimes, that says explicitly
that if you kill one person you have killed humanity as a whole, has
been turned into a global message of hate and a universal war cry.
We can't call those who take schoolchildren as hostages our own.
We cannot tolerate in our midst those who abduct journalists, murder
civilians, explode buses; we cannot accept them as related to us,
whatever the sufferings they claim to justify their criminal deeds.
These are the people who have smeared Islam and stained its image.
We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that
terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly,
implemented by Muslim men and women.
We cannot redeem our extremist youths, who commit all these heinous
crimes, without confronting the Sheikhs who thought it ennobling to
re-invent themselves as revolutionary ideologues, sending other people's
sons and daughters to certain death, while sending their own children
to European and American schools and colleges.