The issue is simple and clear. You make your own destiny; otherwise, others will make it for you. You build your destiny according to your interests, aspirations and responsibilities, or others will build it for you according to their interests and calculations. You live in a world to which you have contributed, or you live in a world crafted by others. What is created in your absence is often made on your account.
Your destiny means your security, stability, economy, your place in the territory you belong to, and your relationship with the world of which you are part. You can no longer close your borders or windows. Your fate is inseparable from the fate of your neighbors and those beyond them. We are in an interconnected world where ideas flow without permission or authorization. Your map will not be calm if the nearby map is ailing or violated.
Armies of darkness sneak through the Internet, social media, screens and platforms. You will not be able to plan a solution within your borders and wash your hands of what is going on in the world.
That is why we want to believe that the meeting of the defense ministers of the Islamic Alliance against Terrorism in Riyadh on Sunday is an expression that the Islamic world has decided to hold on to its fate. It has decided to develop a comprehensive and collective plan to address the cancer of terrorism, which, as soon as treated in one hand, quickly spreads to another. The latest message of terrorism was horrific and very costly.
Stories of survivors of the “worshipers’ massacre” in the village of Al-Rawdah in Arish, the capital of North Sinai, break the heart. My grief was mixed with anger when I read what Eid Shreifat told our newspaper.
“Most of my friends and colleagues in the village were killed in the mosque,” he said. “The secretary of the local village council was also killed. Three-quarters of the village’s men, young people and children have died.” He explained that his family alone lost twenty men in the massacre, which claimed the lives of more than 300 people, including 27 children.
The stories break the heart. It is a terrible massacre, which took place inside a mosque. The brutality of its execution exceeded that of the most imaginative fantasies of horror films.
The facts provoke both grief and anger. It is the determination to target Egypt through its security, stability and economy… To keep the country from catching its breath. Fortunately, Egypt, with its people, army and institutions, is not in a position to bow to this wave of insanity; a wave that reminds us that terrorism is a weapon of mass destruction, and that the fountains of extremism are the wellsprings of mass destruction. One does not exaggerate when saying that the “massacre of worshipers” can be repeated in more than one place, because terrorists have violated all kinds of borders and sanctities.
It happened that Al-Rawdah massacre occurred two days before the first meeting of the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism. Participants do not need to be reminded of the horrors of terrorism. There is no longer any ambiguity. The Islamic world is the first target of terrorism and the great loser of terrorists’ wars. It is true that the same terrorism targeted Western cities and distant capitals, but it is also true that its first and last goal is the oppression of the Muslim world itself, after cutting all ties that connect it to the world.
The Islamic world has no choice but to decide to eradicate terrorism and turn off the fountains of extremism. This battle must be the first item in the program of all governments, by dedicating the necessary capabilities and expertise, as well as actually cooperating with other countries, which are aware of the importance of winning this battle. Victory here is more than essential. Without defeating terrorism and extremism, a normal state cannot be built, a natural economy cannot be established and stability and investment cannot be discussed.
The Muslim world does not lack resources. The problem is lack of will and submission to the logic of hurdles, sensitivities and disputes over positions. The Muslim world has no longer the luxury of waiting under these kinds of pretexts. It is impossible to head towards the future without building countries and institutions, without comprehensive development and modern education, and without catching up with the accelerating technological revolutions.
Enemies of the state
Terrorism and extremism are the first enemies of a natural state, which can only be based on the rule of law and the recognition of the different other inside and outside the map. It is unthinkable that the Muslim world rushes to resort to the great powers whenever darkness prevails over its territory. We are not entitled to rely on others and then complain about their interventions and different approaches.
We want to believe that the Riyadh meeting paves the way for a comprehensive battle against terrorism and even “its total eradication from earth,” as stated by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his opening speech. We want to believe that the participating countries will establish bases of cooperation at the “military, financial, intelligence and political” levels. Countering terrorism can only be comprehensive, so that it becomes possible to erase its repercussions on the minds, books, mosques, screens and all platforms.
We do not intend to say that terrorism is the only problem facing the Muslim world. There are many old and new problems at the political, economic and social levels. What we mean is that fighting terrorism and extremism is a prerequisite for dealing with other problems.
Extremism and terrorism poisoned relations between the components of the same maps. They also poisoned relations among Islamic states and relations between Islamic countries and the world. We cannot talk about the future of our peoples and our children unless we become a natural part of the world. We cannot live in a closed island that is healing its current diseases by using herbal medicine from the past.
It is true that the modern part of the world wants our markets, but it is also true that we need the fruits of its laboratories and research, and we also need its incredible technological progress and investment. Fear of terrorists and extremists has consumed the energies of Islamic countries and deprived them of stability, investment and prosperity. That is why the current battle looks like the battle of the future of the Islamic world.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat.
Ghassan Charbel is the Editor-in-Chief of London-based Al Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Ghassan's Twitter handle is @GhasanCharbel.