The recent terrorist attack in London is an addition to the tragic list of violent acts that have claimed lives of innocent people who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite the tight security measures – latest being ban on electronic devices – criminal minds of terrorists continue to turn kitchen knives and cars into mass murder tools.
Terrorists live in an illusionary world that differs from ours. Juhayman al-Otaybi occupied the Grand Mosque in Makkah and tried to wreak havoc chaos all around. Osama bin Laden attacked the twin towers thinking that he would undermine the US.
Bin Laden’s men thought that terror attacks in Riyadh and Jeddah would spread chaos and devastation in Saudi Arabia. Al-Baghdadi believed that his so-called “Caliphate” would bring back the time of the slaves. None of this will happen and terrorists will certainly not win over the civilized world. However, they will cause a lot of bloodshed.
The question that the world is asking today is who is responsible for all this and how can we stop this nightmare? Many prefer to say that Western countries are responsible for the rise of terrorism. This may be true but in just one aspect of it. Authorities in the West may have been tolerating extremist groups in their countries and are protecting them in the name of human rights and freedom of expression.
This is a major misconception because even act of incitement in western culture could come under the premise of freedom of expression. However, in the context of Muslim and Arabs, it may amount to an explicit permission to kill. In other words, what is seen permissible in London and Paris could be construed as motivation for terrorism in the Islamic and Arab countries.
The Western world has realized the extent of threat terror poses only after experiencing it in recent years. Protecting fanatics in the name of freedom of expression is developing a culture of hatred and turning those who got affected over the time into human bombs not only in the East but also in the West.
Protecting fanatics in the name of freedom of expression is developing a culture of hatred and turning those who get affected into human bombs not only in the East but also in the WestMamdouh AlMuhaini
Therefore, steps taken by some governments in the West to keep extremists on a tight leash is correct and serves the cause of Muslims more than any other. These steps are not against Muslims as they are made out to be. Muslims are most negatively affected by these acts and ideas. They either get influenced by them or get their reputation smeared.
Moreover, victims of terrorism are primarily Muslims themselves. That is why crushing extremists will protect their children from this menace and will serve them before serving western societies whose citizens are not vulnerable to ISIS recruitment.
This spirit of tolerance goes back to the western mentality that has overcome intolerance for centuries. It has undergone different stages of religious reform and a comprehensive intellectual and industrial renaissance until Christian extremists became a misfit in societies that had progressed. These clergymen lost popular influence and only became subjects of historical studies. Even if they call for murder dozens of times, no one would listen to them.
Western universities became secular long time ago and religious studies come only in a historical or comparative context. They do not seek to sow extremist ideologies that would imbue students with hatred.
When extremist Christian Pat Robertson said that the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010 was because of their ancestors’ deal with the devil writers and commentators ridiculed him for having superstitions, and not a modern, mentality.
This is the only area in which West can probably be blamed. However, this is not what some writers say when they place the entire responsibility on their shoulders. They make endless arguments that begin with marginalization and persecution of Muslim minorities to provoking them.
One of the strangest arguments is that progress in the West has made them feel alienated in this new industrial world and they have tried to wage a revolution against it. This is a strange excuse that seems to be asking humanity to stop progress so as not to frighten those who are already scared. The simplest solution is to ask them to change their ideas and keep up with the new reality.
It is indeed not easy to end this nightmare that has caused the death of innocent people. A terrorist is automatically an extremist. No child, raised with values of tolerance and co-existence, can blow himself up even if he has been tutored by the worst of instigators.
Since extremism has become pervasive and its foot soldiers are spreading everywhere we are confronted with a frustrating question as soon as we knew of the latest attack. Now London is hit, which city is it going to be next?
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.