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Between Quebec’s mosque and Paris’ Louvre

What Imam Guillet said has become more important than the debates on racial statements

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

Hassan Guillet, the imam of the mosque which was attacked last week in Canada’s Quebec, said during the funeral of three men killed in the attack: “We have 17 orphans. We have six widows. We have five wounded. We ask Allah for them to get them out of the hospital as soon as possible. Did I go through the complete list of victims? No. There is one victim. None of us want talk about him. But given my age, I have the courage to say it. This victim, his name is Alexandre Bissonnette. Alexandre, before being a killer he was a victim himself. Before planting his bullets in the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas more dangerous than the bullets in his head.”

What Imam Guillet said has become more important than the debates on racial statements. It’s true. The world is living through a crisis of sick ideas which managed to transcend borders, languages and values by making use of technology, political developments and chaos.

In Quebec, one man killed six worshippers. However, those engaged in wars of hatred and incitement are today in millions. This is unprecedented in our modern era and it includes all societies. What’s the difference between Alexandre who carried his gun and attacked worshippers and Abdullah al-Hamahmy who traveled to Paris to attack and kill people at the Louvre Museum? Both men are racist and extremist but they are also both victims of this time of extremism and hatred.

Hamahmy could have become a different person and he could have lived his life as a moderate man or he could have been an extremist and a victim of any other ideology. He could be as nationalist, communist, leftist, Christian, Jewish or Hindu. A man is the product of his environment or is its victim. The world has become contaminated amid this global negligence and recklessness toward extremism in general.

The international community is still confused about how it can stop the possible conflict between nations and followers of religions. At the same time, it is preoccupied as each party blames the other

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Threat of ideas

As Imam Guillet said, the ideas planted in both men’s heads are more dangerous than any bullet or terrorist crimes. Extremist intellect is currently more evil than all the weapons present in the world today. We are facing a situation that’s different from the wars of the past as wars have slogans and commanders and they include governments and settlements and involve a winner and a loser. However, that’s not the case with the wars of extremist ideas and hatred battles.

The international community is still confused about how it can stop the possible conflict between nations and followers of religions. At the same time, it is preoccupied as each party blames the other. All societies suffer from this crisis. Look at the Buddhists in Burma, the Muslims in Syria and Iraq and the Christians in the West. The fire of hatred is spreading as fast as messages of incitement are spreading through different social networking tools.

What about the stance of American President Donald Trump who put himself in the center of this controversy and struggles?
Of course, we cannot accept Trump’s decisions if they are hostile to Muslims or Arabs or to other people from different religions and race.

As long as Washington’s punishment is limited to countries it politically disagrees with, like Iran, and as long as the decisions are against countries that suffer from wars and whose authority is collapsed, like Syria and Libya, we cannot consider these decisions as racist and hostile. Many of our region’s governments also shut their doors to the citizens of these countries out of fear and caution.

This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on February 06 2017.
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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.