Seeking a way to combat terrorism
The London bombings have triggered new fears, heightened security measures and sparked another round of finger-pointing.
But, unlike in post-9/11 America, all sides of the debate are beginning to be heard in Britain.
All civilized people have condemned the terrorism, unequivocally, including British and Canadian Muslims.
Yet there is a tendency in some quarters to never lose an opportunity to lay a collective guilt trip on all Muslims. The new McCarthyism usually takes the form of a demand: "What do you have to say about ...?"
Such folks need to be reminded of the May 22, 1944 notation in the diary of Anne Frank: "What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does, reflects on all Jews."
Hounding law-abiding Muslims contravenes our basic democratic principles, besides being wholly counterproductive.
The next debate is over trying to understand the causes of terrorism.
One side says Muslims are angry because of what's going on in Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya, etc.
Yes, but ... says the other side. How come Africans and Tibetans are not terrorists? Such critics fall into three camps.
One blames Islam. "It's a violent religion; its adherents always wage jihad." Oriana Fallaci makes millions saying so. A congressman makes headlines wanting to bomb Mecca. Other hatemongers are more careful.
The second camp draws a distinction between Islam and what it calls Islamism, defined as Osama bin Laden's dream of destroying the West and founding a caliphate. The terrorists are said to be his foot soldiers.
But clearly not all are inspired by Bin Laden's religion, only his politics of grievance.
The third camp categorizes the terrorists as a neo-fascist, nihilistic and death-loving cult with an Islamic sheen. "They hate our freedoms." "They want to destroy our way of life."
"An evil ideology," Tony Blair calls it, associating it with "radical Islam." He'll hold a conference, just as he had on Palestine when feeling similarly helpless.
The "cult of death" line prompts a debate over which side kills more - the terrorists or state-initiated economic sanctions, wars and endless occupations?
Piping up in the middle are the old unreconstructed multiculturalists, still bemoaning that the West would be better off if we were all a homogeneous lot.
We are going in circles.
Which way forward?
One side says we show the same interest in solving the problems of the Muslim world as we did, say, in East Timor.
The other side says, Muslims heal thyself. Crack down on madrassas. Fight Wahhabism. Stop fiery sermons. If you don't do it, we will do it for you.
Muddling along in the middle are politicians and bureaucrats.
British competence in identifying the bombers does not cover up the fact that a recent security report concluded that there was no imminent threat; that one of the bombers was probed last year but not held; that the mastermind of the bombing, a known operative, was allowed to slip in and out of the country.
Blair's pledge to deport Islamic extremists avoids the issue of where he will send those born in Britain.
Similarly, the macho talk of our own Gen. Rick Hillier about going to Afghanistan to fight "detestable murderers and scumbags" does not clarify if he plans to go to war on Britain or Pakistan or Egypt, where the bombers were born or had visited or had connections with.
He is not the only quacking Canuck. Anne McLellan - "we are also a target, you know" - would also be wiser to prepare harder but talk less.
But there is hope.
Britons see the connection between Iraq and their troubles. It's not just Ken Livingstone, the leftist mayor of London, or rebel MP George Galloway, or some British Muslim leaders. So does a confidential security report. So does a public report by the Royal Institute of International Affairs. So does two-thirds of the public.
They are asserting themselves the same way that Canadians did before the Iraq invasion, notwithstanding the pro-war stance of the Tories, the establishment and most media.
Why are Western governments and the media so afraid to examine whether or not the terrorist Muslim mayhem that we are suffering is the extremist response to what America and its allies are doing in Muslim lands, or are complicit in?
Our own publics are pointing the way.
Haroon Siddiqui is the Toronto Star's editorial page editor emeritus. [email protected]
Topics: Conflicts And War, Iraq
author throws in comments like 'feeling helpless." Don't
try to force the same feelings on the West that Haroon
feels. Blair doesn't "feel helpless" anymore than
George Bush would. In addition to all the other reasons
you can rationale terrorism and murder, one thing that
people forget is the terrorists are playing a dangerous
game here. The U.S is not going to pull out of Iraq the
way Spain did because of some angry thugs. People
forget that the U.S. has the military, technological and
economic power to wipe most of the world off of the
map and if these people continue with these murders, it
just might do that. It makes no difference whether you
reply to me with "Look how many murders the U.S. has
committed,, etc...etc..." I know and the U.S/ gov't knows
that the U.S. policies are often horribly unfair and
destructive to many people and should be changed.
Bombings aren't going to do it though -- it will just
enhance the anger. Instead of blathering about
conspiracy theories like I've been reading, why don't
more people denounce these murders and forbid them
to be a part of their lives. There's no "Yes, but..." And, it
doesn't make a damn bit of difference why they are
commiting these murders, nothing will change unless it
This is not a crisis for Islam but a moment of reckoning for the west. Dont committ terrorism if you do not to suffer from it. Its common sense. Let us not forget that these warmongers are responsible for the deaths of over 128000 Iraqis, I dont see them condemning their war criminal troops for their actions.
And lest we forget Al-Qaida is their creation. Reap the whirlwind "liberators."
2. Nobody cares if the terrorist has justifiable reasons. It's the same way that if you were mauled by a dog, you would not care if the dog had been abused as a puppy. You just want to kill him.
3. Terrorist kill indiscriminately. Over 600 Muslims were killed in the Twin Tower attacks of 9-11. Did the Muslim terrorists ever apologize to the families of the Muslim victims?
4. We are fighting a war. A terrorist attack on America, Canada, Britain, or Europe will most certainly kill Muslims as well as non-Muslims.
5. These particular terrorists identify themselves as Muslim. In the West they attend the same mosques and follow the same rituals as as peaceful Muslims. Unfortunately, many Western Muslims do support the terrorists and aid them. So which group should the police be searching to find these terrorists, Catholics and Buddhists?
6. It is important for Western Muslims to purge these terrorists from their midsts. If they do not, their silence will be seen by non-Muslims as sympathy for the terrorists. If there are more attacks in the West, Muslims should be on their guard as there will be random acts of violence against Muslims who will be seen by many as collaberators.
6. Stop taking on the personas as "victims". All your non-Muslim neighbors will ask is "Are you with us or against us?" Nobody can be neutral in this war. If these "Muslim terrorists" don't speak for you, then show it by word and deed.
First of all its not even Iraq or even Afghanistan, the new generation of Muslims, is now awaked, awaked after a long sleep, now they don't want any one meld in their affairs, they don't want to have any western puppet ruling them, they don't want to take order from west.
Yes, Muslims are not like others, Muslims don't beg, we snatch what is ours, we will not let any super power take away the bread from the mouth of our Childers, else we will not let you eat in peace any more.
Had it not for the insurgents in Iraq, American would have installed a puppet dictator on Iraq long back, thank to the insurgency, American have not option but to talk about democracy in Iraq.
p.s. you also say "if Iraq is invaded then the people of Iraq have a right to fight back" and advise others to go there and help out...
Isn't it ironic that the majority of suicide bombers in Iraq are NOT Iraqis and that the majority of their victims ARE!
NO matter what is happening around the world we as muslims should not use these atrocities as justification for the terrorist bombings. These murders disobey one of the basic principles of islam (do not kill innocent women and children, innocence on the whole). What you are doing is justifying these terrorist actions because of the Iraq war. If Iraq is invaded then the people of Iraq has a right to fight back, and if you want to help them, then go to Iraq. Don't take revenge here and make life miserable for muslims in the whole western world. This is one of reasons why I thik that muslims are commiting these atrocities we are not that stupid to commit a crime to have the athorities come and distroy our families and houses left behind. Someone else is doing this and blaming this on muslims, and at the same time we are finding reasong to implicate ourselves. STOP THIS