“Defeating the ideology of terrorism” is a phrase coined by Doctor Mohammed al-Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League and the director of the intellectual center to combat extremism and terrorism in the Saudi defense ministry.
Issa recently visited Malaysia, a Muslim Asian country which thanks to its rich experience is a basic pillar in the Saudi-led Islamic military alliance to fight extremism and terrorism.
The aim of the visit is cooperation. This is why King Salman Center for International Peace will be launched in Malaysia. The center’s goal is to work on strengthening peace and tolerance. This can be achieved through confronting extremist ideology. It attracted my attention that they focused on extremism more than terrorism. Another goal is to defend Islam and Muslims against hate speech and those who intimidate others from Islam.
Issa reiterated that King Salman Center for International Peace will contribute to solidifying values of peace and moderation and improve positive images about Islam. While speaking before a group of scholars, intellectuals and diplomats in Kuala Lumpur at the Wasatiyyah Institute Malaysia (Moderation Institute) affiliated with the Malaysian cabinet, Issa said: “Extremism will not be politically defeated before it’s ideologically defeated. It previously expanded in areas where there was vacuum in terms of confronting it.” Does Malaysia have something to offer to help accomplish this major mission and fight this intermittent, endless war?
It’s actually interesting that, despite their diversity, the Malaysians are the least engaged in terrorist groups from among Muslim communitiesMashari Althaydi
Wasatiyyah Institute Malaysia director Mohammed Yusof said the major reason the Malaysian people are united despite their different races and cultures is the moderate approach. It’s actually interesting that, despite their diversity, the Malaysians are the least engaged in terrorist groups from among Muslim communities. Of course some have been engaged in terrorism but they are very few.
The World Muslim League, the Saudi intellectual center, King Salman’s peace center and the Malaysian government deserve to be encouraged and supported. I reiterate that focusing on fighting extremism first – before terrorism – is the right approach towards succeeding in this confrontation.
Sheikh Issa said it’s not possible to politically defeat extremism before ideologically defeating it, adding that sick extremism expanded amid vacuum in terms of confronting it.
Anticipations are high
Truth is, a lot has been said in terms of confronting extremist ideology. However, it’s not fair to say there was “vacuum.” Thus the question is: Why have these efforts failed? Must we increase these efforts or improve them?
Honestly the answer is that Muslim countries did not frankly, decisively and continuously cooperate to launch war against extremists. They failed to do so due to political disputes or intellectual laziness or political negligence. The situation is now different considering the practices of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and lone wolves as well as Khomeini and Houthi gangs and popular mobilization forces in Muslim countries.
The question is: How will the confrontation be different this time? We enthusiastically wait for this to unfold.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.