It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.
The hostage-takers of children in Beslan, North Ossetia, were Muslims. The other hostage-takers and subsequent murderers of the Nepalese chefs and workers in Iraq were also Muslims. Those involved in rape and murder in Darfur, Sudan, are Muslims, with other Muslims chosen to be their victims.
Those responsible for the attacks on residential towers in Riyadh and Khobar were Muslims. The two women who crashed two airliners last week were also Muslims.
Bin Laden is a Muslim. The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all over the world, were Muslim.
What a pathetic record. What an abominable “achievement”. Does all this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies and our culture?
These images, when put together, or taken separately, are shameful and degrading. But let us start with putting an end to a history of denial. Let us acknowledge their reality, instead of denying them and seeking to justify them with sound and fury signifying nothing.
For it would be easy to cure ourselves if we realise the seriousness of our sickness. Self-cure starts with self-realisation and confession. We should then run after our terrorist sons, in the full knowledge that they are the sour grapes of a deformed culture.
Let us listen to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Sheikh - the Qatar-based radical Egyptian cleric - and hear him recite his “fatwa” about the religious permissibility of killing civilian Americans in Iraq. Let us contemplate the incident of this religious Sheikh allowing, nay even calling for, the murder of civilians.
This ailing Sheikh, in his last days, with two daughters studying in “infidel” Britain, soliciting children to kill innocent civilians.
How could this Sheikh face the mother of the youthful Nick Berg, who was slaughtered in Iraq because he wanted to build communication towers in that ravished country? How can we believe him when he tells us that Islam is the religion of mercy and peace while he is turning it into a religion of blood and slaughter?
In a different era, we used to consider the extremists, with nationalist or Leftist leanings, a menace and a source of corruption because of their adoption of violence as a means of discourse and their involvement in murder as an easy shortcut to their objectives.
At that time, the mosque used to be a haven, and the voice of religion used to be that of peace and reconciliation. Religious sermons were warm behests for a moral order and an ethical life.
Then came the Neo-Muslims. An innocent and benevolent religion, whose verses prohibit the felling of trees in the absence of urgent necessity, that calls murder the most heinous of crimes, that says explicitly that if you kill one person you have killed humanity as a whole, has been turned into a global message of hate and a universal war cry.
We can’t call those who take schoolchildren as hostages our own.
We cannot tolerate in our midst those who abduct journalists, murder civilians, explode buses; we cannot accept them as related to us, whatever the sufferings they claim to justify their criminal deeds. These are the people who have smeared Islam and stained its image.
We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women.
We cannot redeem our extremist youths, who commit all these heinous crimes, without confronting the Sheikhs who thought it ennobling to re-invent themselves as revolutionary ideologues, sending other people’s sons and daughters to certain death, while sending their own children to European and American schools and colleges.
Abdel Rahman al-Rashed is general manager of Al- Arabiya news channel. This article appeared in the pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. translation of Arabic article published in The Telegraph at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/09/05/wosse605.xml
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