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Editorial: Arab summit — Right response to terror

A handout picture provided by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra on July 26, 2016, shows Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (L), Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki (top), Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (C-L), Lebanese Prime Minister Tamam Salam (C-R), and Bahraini Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, posing for a picture during the Arab League summit in Mauritania's capital Nouakchott. (AFP PHOTO /handout by Dalati and Nohra)
Daesh is proving to be a Hydra-headed monster.
As the snake heads of the terrorists are being cut off in Iraq and Syria, their siblings are striking in Europe. The attacks in Germany and France are gross. They were suppose to be. They were designed to inflame public opinion against the hundreds of thousands of migrants, who have sought refuge in Europe. But Europeans need to hold on to some perspective. The death toll in Daesh attacks in their towns and cities are horrific. But they are nothing compared to the horrors inflicted by Daesh in territories they control. Even the Nice and Bataclan massacres are dwarfed by the standard terrorist violence in the Arab world.
It is precisely because of this living hell that Syrians have fled in droves. They have been savagely repressed by their own government. They have been brutalized by the terrorists. Is it any wonder that men head off with their families in a desperate search for safety?
At the Arab summit in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott this week, there was a complete agreement that the Arab world should continue to play a leading role in the international war on terror.
The Kingdom has long experience in confronting and defeating the terrorist menace. Its analyses were listened to carefully in Nouakchott. There was one point at the summit, which was very well made. A just settlement for the Palestinians should not be forgotten in the horrified reaction to Daesh’s European crimes. In fact, Daesh leaders care no more about Palestinians than they do for the communities they have overrun. Their cry that Israel should accept a sovereign Palestinian state is completely false. But it has been an important recruiting drum.
The war on terror is a war for truth. It is a war for justice. In Europe’s furious reaction to Daesh attacks, the Palestinians must not be forgotten again. The horror of 9/11 launched the Bush war on terror. But Washington chose not to understand how very much the illegal Israeli occupation and repression in Palestine matters in the Arab world. That failure further enfranchised Benjamin Netanyahu’s Zionist settlement policy. And it also gave Daesh a cause for which it could pretend to be fighting. Therefore the new drive by France and Egypt to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks is important. Israel will of course continue to frustrate any hint of progress. But that is not the point. The world needs to be reminded of the terrible injustices in Palestine. A genuine effort to broker a just settlement will undermine the Daesh message of hate. Ultimately, it will make Europe safer.
Daesh did not create European Islamophobia. Racists have long picked on Muslims, as well as blacks and Jews. But Daesh crimes in Nice, Munich, Paris, Madrid and London are designed to exploit the existing racist poison. They want to create fear and suspicion. They seek to promote the noxious idea that every Muslim is a terrorist. They want white Europeans to start discriminating against their domestic Muslim communities. They want racist attacks on European Muslims. They want hate-filled graffiti sprayed on mosque walls. They want these holy buildings attacked. They want Muslims to be in fear of their lives. Then they want to pretend that they, Daesh can defend European Muslims and help them fight back against their racist persecutors.
Muslim community leaders throughout the continent condemn Daesh and its evil distortion of Islam. They explain that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. European politicians parrot their words. But do they really believe them? Or are they too falling victim to the paranoia Daesh is trying to kindle?
A firmer stand needs to be taken. And far stronger efforts are required to help restore stability in the Arab world. The Kingdom at the head of the Gulf States’ coalition has shouldered the burden of ending chaos in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is part of the US-led task force whose warplanes are destroying Daesh from the air in Iraq and Syria. Saudi experts continue to brief and assist fellow counter-intelligence operatives in Europe and North America. The fight against terror, here in the Kingdom and around the world has to be relentless.
It also has to be proactive. The terrorists have to be struck before they can strike. European politicians share the popular shock at Daesh crimes. But their thinking looks reactive. Of course their security forces have a counter-terrorism strategy. But more is needed. The response to Daesh has to be multi-pronged. It must protect European Muslims from racist backlash. It must honor the place of Islam in world civilization.

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