Blaming the world’s 1.6 billion adherents of Islam for the atrocities of a small minority who claim to share their faith has moved from the far right to the mainstream of western societies, says Linda S. Heard.
Muslims are constantly being asked to distant themselves from terrorist acts whereas they make up the majority of terrorism’s victims. According to Der Spiegel, Al-Qaeda killed eight times more Muslims than non-Muslims.
The US National Counterterrorism Centre reported as far back as 2011 that “Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorist-related fatalities over the past five years”. Why should the prime targets of terrorism be expected to apologize for the actions of soulless killers distorting one of the world’s greatest faiths?
Just hours after a Tunisian born Frenchman used a truck as a weapon to mow down innocents gathered to watch a firework display on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Lt. General Michael Flynn tweeted this:
“In next 24 hours, I dare Arab and Persian world ‘leaders’ to step up to the plate and declare their Islamic ideology sick and must B healed.”
Such ignorance on display! Islam is not an ideology; it is the planet’s fastest growing faith. Moreover, the perpetrator drank, took drugs, was a womanizer, a wife-beater and was never seen in any mosque. There was nothing about this loser bearing any resemblance to a devout Muslim or any Muslim for that matter. The home grown terrorists who attacked France and Belgium were cut from the same sleazy, criminal cloth.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich popped up to advocate tests for Muslims to see if they are believers in Sharia law, saying those who are must be deported. He neglected to say what Sharia has to do with terrorism and he obviously didn’t bother to read the profiles of the Boston Bombers, the San Bernadino couple or the deranged Orlando killer; none of whom abided by Islamic norms of behaviour let alone Sharia law. A headline in one US newspaper read: “Gingrich has turned Islamophobia into an art”.
Note that whenever there is an attack in the United States or Europe it occupies days of television airtime, social media is always awash with sympathetic outpourings; flags over government buildings are lowered to half mast, parliaments hold one minute’s silence and landmarks in world capitals are illuminated in the colours of the stricken nation’s flag to show solidarity. For sure, the colours of the Iraqi or Afghan flags have never been honoured in this way and you can bet they never will be.
People that would once have been horrified at bigoted proposals to bar Muslims from entering the US or to subject American Muslims to surveillance, become enthusiastic at worst, accepting at best. Attacks on individuals visibly recognizable as Muslims invariably soar and paranoia reins to the extent people are forced off passenger planes for the ‘sin’ of speaking in Arabic.
A prime example of anti-Islamic paranoia was the brutal treatment meted out to an Emirati businessman by armed policemen in Avon, Ohio. Ahmed Al-Menhali was in the US for medical treatment after suffering a series of strokes. He had to leave his accommodation and went to the Fairfield Inn and Suites to book a room.
Told the hotel was full, he went to the forecourt to phone others on his mobile. Imagine his astonishment to be set upon, forced to the ground and handcuffed by armed police, accused of wearing Arab attire, having multiple mobile phones and of being overhead pledging allegiance to the Islamic State all because the father and sister of the Fairfield’s receptionist had dialled 911 with a concocted story.
Once the police had verified his credentials, Mr. Al-Menhali collapsed and had to be taken to hospital. The UAE has now advised nationals not to wear national dress when abroad “for their own safety” and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the deputy US Ambassador to protest such “abusive treatment”.
Conversely, major terrorist bombings in Baghdad, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Muslim World occurring almost monthly merit news bulletins and a few column inches on newspaper back pages unless westerners happen to be among the victims as they were in Kenya, Tunisia and Bangladesh when the tragedy gets greater coverage.
In mid-July, over 500 were killed in South Sudan in a single day; few viewers and readers in London or New York are even aware of the carnage around the capital Juba. This trend illustrates that authorities and the media cherry pick their responses according to whose lives they consider matter the most.
Curiously, the fact that almost all of Islam’s highest religious authorities and representatives of Islamic communities have spoken out against extremists and their warped ideologies that draw little from a religion promoting peace and tolerance, goes unnoticed. In December, 70,000 Muslim clerics issued a fatwah against global terrorist organisations, including Al Qaeda and ISIL. That hardly merited coverage in mainstream media publications.
Ironically, while the Muslim Brotherhood - whose links to Al Qaeda and other unsavoury groups are recognized - has been designated terrorist by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, the US and Britain declined to do so. In early 2016, a bill through Congress arguing the organization should be so branded was passed by the House Judiciary Committee but stalled in the Senate.
Until recently, President Obama invited Muslim Brotherhood leaders to the White House. Britain announced that those same leaders and their propagandists are free to claim asylum in the UK while the House of Commons’ Parliamentary Committee recently issued a report blessing “political Islam” and whitewashing the Brotherhood. The only people directly responsible for the carnage wrought by terrorism are the terrorists, their masters and funders.
If apologies are required they should come from states that sowed the seeds of terrorism in the first place by cynically using extremist groups as their proxy fighters.
Al Qaeda didn’t exist before the 1980s when the CIA recruited radicals and trained them in Pakistan. The self-ascribed Islamic State was born out of the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. Initially known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, its leadership consisted almost exclusively of Saddam’s former military officers sacked from their posts and imprisoned in America’s Camp Bucca.
It’s beyond time that the US and its former coalition allies apologized to and compensated Iraqis for waging a war on the basis of false intelligence that stole the lives of up to a million Iraqis and sparked sectarian divisions that have erupted in hatred and violence that still plagues Iraq today and has spilled-over into neighbouring Syria. The tragedy is the Obama administration poured salt into the wound with its legitimization of Iran and its military cooperation with pro-Iranian Iraqi militias under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Terrorism cannot be excused or justified in any way. People who stoop to beheading, burning or burying their opponents alive or placing them in cages to be drowned have lost their right to be called members of the human race. However, no solutions will be found unless it is universally recognized that recruiters cite injustice to lure the mentally feeble and those with psychopathic tendencies into their camp.
If Western powers are serious about eradication terrorism then it must be cured at its roots instead of placing band aids over its symptoms. Laying blame at the feet of Muslims is nothing but populist rhetoric, aimed at boosting the popularity of politicians with sectors of communities who’ve bought-in to the politics of fear.
The international community needs to make a concerted effort to bring peace to Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and to end the suffering of the Palestinian people. All hopes rest with President Trump to lead the way in his role as ‘leader of the free world’. Once justice prevails, the terrorist-breeding swamps will wither and die.