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Condemning terrorism is but the first step...

Condemning terrorism is but the first step...

Author: Jay Jina
Publication: Asian Voice
Date: July 22, 2005

The Muslim leadership's sincere condemnation of terrorism in the name of Islam is universally welcomed and supported, and all communities, agencies and individuals, whether of faith or secular, need to work together to root this evil out and allow our plural, civilized society to flourish.

It is insufficient, however, to merely condemn acts of terror. Even Britain's highest ranking Muslim police officer, Tarique Ghaffur, said that Muslims and their leaders must do more than just condemn the bombings.

Tony Blair said at the weekend, it is time to stand up to the "evil ideology" and that it would be a "misunderstanding of a catastrophic order" to think that if the developed world changed its behaviour, extremists would change theirs.

The Prime Minster further stated: "If it is the plight of the Palestinians that drives them, why, every time it looks as if Israel and Palestine are making progress, does the same ideology perpetrate an outrage that turns hope back into despair?

"If it is Afghanistan that motivates them, why blow up innocent Afghans on their way to their first-ever election?

"If it is Iraq that motivates them, why is the same ideology killing Iraqis by terror in defiance of an elected Iraqi government?

"What was 11 September 2001 the reprisal for?"

Adding to the Prime Minister's list, but leaving the long and bloody history and roots of the very same terror aside, are: the genocide committed on black Muslims by fellow Arab Muslims in Darfur, the near silence of the Muslim community to atrocities carried out over several decades by Saddam's regime, and the acquiescence over the mass persecution of religious minorities in various Islamic countries, to name but a few.

So, how to move forward?

First, it is vital that all civilized societies recognise that this evil of terrorism is a universal phenomenon. Its underlying causes and effects are the same everywhere: it is driven by a hate filled, inhuman ideology that maims and kills. No longer can political duplicity of the western media and governments in reporting such crimes be allowed to continue. The BBC, for example, needs to be challenged as to why the bombers in Iraq and Turkey are "militants" and those who killed in Ayodhya are "gunmen", whilst those in London are terrorists. Is the blood of Londoners worth more than those who live in Bethlehem, Baghdad, or Bombay?

Second, the rule of law and the democratic traditions of the British constitution, as determined by parliament, must be paramount. There cannot be separate laws for different communities based on religion. The will of God, of whatever persuasion, in the determination of socio-political legitimacy is irreconcilable with democracy. Contrast the shambles that is the Indian civil code and the injustice meted out to Muslim women victims of divorce and rape.

Third, the nation has to be the basis of political loyalty; religious belief has to remain a private matter. The political institutions of the state provide civil liberties, protection, social welfare, and the right to religious freedoms and therefore, allegiance to the state over and above any ambitious trans-national religious supremacy is the least a plural, democratic society can expect of all its citizens.

Fourth, it is time for religious leaders of those communities whose members commit terror and violence in the name of their religion, not simply to condemn such acts, however strong and sincere such condemnation, but to take the right steps as leaders and pass religious injunctions against all terrorist acts, respecting the validity of other belief systems and recognising the primacy of democratic institutions using the most clear religious language such that it is incontrovertibly understood within the community and also by wider society. After all, religious edicts have been and continue to be issued for lesser matters than terrorism.
 


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