West, Muslims in this together
Even as their faith is put in the dock all over again, Muslims and their friends and supporters everywhere are falling over themselves to condemn the slaughter of innocents in Brussels in the strongest terms. They go to elaborate lengths to insist that their noble religion and its teachings are innocent of the actions of a bunch of coldblooded killers. Of course, they are.
No religion sanctions bloodshed. Especially a faith that proclaims that taking one innocent life is akin to killing all humanity and saving one innocent life is like saving the entire humanity can have nothing to with the violence and carnage that is unleashed on cities, from Brussels to Baghdad and from Paris to Peshawar.
And perhaps by every time rushing to condemn the terrorists and their actions as “un-Islamic” and in desperately trying to distance themselves and their faith from them, Muslims are unwittingly serving the designs and agenda of the fringe.
Cynical, shameful acts of violence like these targeting totally innocent people cannot be the actions of sane, reasonable individuals, let alone those of believers. So let us not even try to explain or rationalize them. Islam and Muslims cannot be held to ransom or responsible for the actions of a lunatic bunch, just because they carry Muslim names.
We do not have to hang our heads in shame over the attacks in Brussels or Paris, just as we do not have to be apologetic or defensive about the actions of their fellow travelers in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere. If it’s any consolation, more than anyone else, it is the Muslims who have suffered most at the hands of these fiends.
The chief victim of groups like Daesh is not the West or Christians and Jews but ordinary, innocent Muslims who have been dying in their hundreds, from Somalia to Syria and from Libya to Lebanon, on a daily basis. It is the Islamic world that has been bleeding non-stop as Muslims are hopelessly caught between the tyranny of terror of groups like Daesh and Al Qaida and the “war on terror” unleashed by the West.
Incidentally, if it pleases Messrs. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and their kind, the fringe views the vast, overwhelming majority of Muslims, who are revolted by their morbid bloodlust and casual, intolerable cruelty, as beyond the pale of Islam.
So this vicious, self-sustaining cycle of hate and violence is mutually aided and abetted by the extremist fringe that claims to speak in our name and those who are born with the belief that the whole world is their fiefdom to rule and ravage it as they please. And Muslims find themselves at the receiving end from both sides, as they once again are in Europe and around the world.
Predictably, Daesh has been quick to claim responsibility for the Brussels attack. Any fool could have sent that tweet though: “F*** Belgium. Belgium wanted to bomb the Islamic State. Now enjoy what your hands have sown! We have come to you with slaughter.”
More predictably, the attacks have provoked a massive and overwhelming political and security response from governments of the 28-member European Union. Border controls are back across the once borderless, seamless continent. Security is at its highest at airports and in public places.
Needless to say, Muslims will feel the maximum heat with a surge in Islamophobia and hate crimes. Desperate Syrians trudging across Europe right now in search of refuge could find doors shut in their face. There has already been a nearly 300 percent spike in attacks on Muslims across Europe in the wake of Paris attacks. Islamophobic groups and rightwing parties like France’s National Front and Britain’s UKIP get a new lease of life.
The surprising rise of a bigot like Trump across the pond in the United States is part of the same phenomenon. In their response to Brussels, both Trump and fellow Republican Cruz have called for increased surveillance of Muslims.
So whoever the forces behind Brussels and Paris, they cannot be the friends and well-wishers of Muslims. Indeed, they are perhaps the worst calamity to hit the world of Islam in a long, long time. They have brought nothing but shame and misery to the believers everywhere. Which may be why many Muslims believe that Daesg is a progeny of CIA and Mossad. Many believed the same about the now largely defanged Al Qaeda.
Daesh may not have been the creation of Western agencies but it is certainly a result and product of Western militarism and mindless wars of hegemony in the Middle East.
As Prof Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University argues, “The slaughter of innocent people in Brussels is the extension of the slaughter of the innocent in the Islamic world. These are not acts of revenge and retaliation. These are identical acts of murderous violence targeting identically innocent people in different sites. Daesh is the crooked product, the diabolic extension and the ugly shadow of precisely what it is they say they are fighting.”
Dabashi strongly warns against Muslims reiterating their innocence: “Even declaring this is not Islam, or Islam is peaceful, or most Muslims are peaceful, is an admission of guilt by association. The more Muslims defend themselves, the more vicious this cycle perpetuates itself. Of course they do not have anything to do with it. It is like saying they are not responsible for global warming!”
How do you fight this menace though and how do you prevent future Brussels? There are no quick and easy solutions of course. The easiest and most tempting course of action would be to send fighter jets to bomb some Muslim country or the other, as France did by impulsively pounding Syria after the Paris bombings.
This achieves nothing except provide more cannon fodder and ready recruits to extremists. Unfortunate as these attacks are, they should make Europe’s leaders look for the genuine causes of this malaise. It is hardly a secret that their unquestioning support to disastrous US wars in the Middle East has not played an insignificant role in inflaming the region and radicalizing thousands of its young people.
Secondly, it is about time European nations, especially countries like France, Belgium and to some extent the UK, asked themselves why its young Muslims are increasingly putting their lives on line to join Daesh.
Unlike in the US and Canada where immigrants are successfully absorbed into the mainstream in no time, most Muslims find themselves locked away forever in Europe’s impoverished, crime-infested ghettoes.
Like those involved in 7/7 London bombings, many of those reportedly behind the attacks in Paris, and now Brussels, were known to security agencies. Far from being religious, many of them reportedly drank, smoked pot and chased girls. Despite being second and third generation immigrants, they felt ignored and discriminated by host societies. And identifying with distant causes in the Middle East clearly made themselves feel relevant and useful. This is a serious problem and the multicultural Europe can no longer brush it under the carpet.
Thirdly, the West must stop looking at Islam and Muslims as the problem. Muslims are not the enemy here. Indeed, they are in the frontline and real victims of this war by a faceless, fast multiplying enemy. No part of the Muslim world is safe and stable today. So this war cannot be won by fighting and alienating Muslims. Islam and the West are partners in this war of ideas. We are in this together.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view