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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Extremist Does Not Mean Terrorist: Islam Too Large to be Split in Two!

By Liam Bailey

Splitting a largely followed religion like Islam down the middle: either extremist or moderate; with us or against us, is the wrong path to take. In an article for Common Ground News, Asma Khalid, a Muslim woman pursuing her master's degree in Middle Eastern/Islamic studies at the University of Cambridge, England, wrote:

I am a Muslim who embraces peace. But, if we must attach stereotypical tags, I'd rather be considered "orthodox" than "moderate."

"Moderate," in this context, implies that Muslims who are more orthodox are somehow backward and violent and that, in our current cultural climate, progress and peace are restricted to "moderate" Muslims. To be a "moderate" Muslim is, thus, to be a "good," malleable Muslim in the eyes of Western society.

In the aftermath of 9/11, much has been said about the need for "moderate Muslims." But to be a "moderate" Muslim also implies that Osama Bin Laden and Co. must represent the pinnacle of orthodoxy; that a criterion of orthodox Islam somehow inherently entails violence.

I refuse to live as a "moderate" Muslim if its side effect is an unintentional admission that suicide bombing is a religious obligation for the orthodox faithful. True orthodoxy is simply the attempt to adhere piously to a religion's tenets.


My theory was re-affirmed by an article in Arab News -- one of the best I have ever read. Dr Khaled Batarfi basically called Islamic terrorists: invisible soldiers with nothing to lose and a desire to die fighting for their cause. In short, an enemy that cannot be defeated by military might.

But that is exactly what the U.S. has attempted to do -- with invasions of two Muslim countries and complicity in the bombardment of Muslims in Somalia and the continuation of the occupation of Palestine. By living up to the extremist's claims of U.S. imperialism and conspiracies of a war against Islam, the U.S. is alienating the moderates and increasing the following of the radicals.

The gist of another of Dr Batfari's statements was: with 2.2 billion Muslims in the world, even if U.S. policies are successful in ensuring 99% are moderate towards the U.S. and their allies, that still leaves 22 million extremists. According to western interpretation of extremism and Dr Batfari's description of terrorists, that is 22 million, invisible, highly motivated and suicidal killing machines.

As I am sure there is nowhere near 99% of Muslim's that don't feel a certain degree of anti-Americanism and would thus not be classed as moderate. But nor does the number of terror attacks suggest more than 22 million Jihadists dedicated to attacking the west and willing to kill themselves to do it. This proves both that the west's (U.S.') meaning of extremist is inherently wrong and that the divide between moderate and extremist is not clear cut. There is another divide between extremists and terrorists.

Non-Muslim's have come to associate the Salafist strand of Islam with extremism and terrorism, but it is not so. Salafism is anti-modernist putting it at odds with the capitalist and technologically driven western world. But with so many followers of Salafism around the world, and most attacks happening in only a few places it shows that most Muslims and even those adhering to Salafism are quite happy to live and let live.

The extremists that do seek to attack the west, justify their actions by creating their own interpretations of Islam, and attempting to convince (brainwash) disillusioned Muslims that they are the ones interpreting their faith correctly. They attract the biggest following from countries and areas where the west, with the U.S. at the forefront has displayed its worst qualities -- often to the severe detriment of the Muslim populations.

Countries like Afghanistan: predominantly Salafist and used as a proxy battleground in the super power-struggle that was the cold-war. In that country and the surrounding area there is understandably deep resentment even hatred for the west's actions. The feelings are heightened in the current N.A.T.O./U.S. occupation, with every civilian death -- much more with incidents like troops opening fire on a crowd of civilians.

In Iraq, support of Saddam Hussein's slaughter of the Kurds and Shiites laid the same understandable resentment in those Muslim populations. Sunnis came to hate the west for turning on Saddam in 1991 and again in 2003. Like Afghanistan their hatred mounts with every incident of "collateral damage" and more so the atrocities committed by U.S. forces. Muslim patriotism and effigy with Islamic land puts them against lengthy occupations anyway -- especially by the country that has largely made Israel's oppression of Palestine's Muslims easier than it would have been without their support.

And now the U.S. has embroiled itself in another proxy war in another Muslim country, Somalia, and is complicit in the deaths of over 1,500 innocent Muslim's -- far more than the number of combatants killed.

Somalia has become yet another front in "the War on Terror". Simply because the predominant group within the Union of Islamic Courts -- over-thrown by the U.S.' Ethiopian proxy -- followed Salafism and were therefore extremists and terrorists in the U.S' eyes. But as countless thousands of innocent Muslim's die in the "War on Terror" it is increasing the likelihood that any moderates will become extremist in their views of the West and that any extremists will go the next step to terrorism.

If the U.S. wants to continue fighting every Muslim who does not fall into their category as a moderate Muslim. Either because they follow a particular strand of the religion or don't not agree with the U.S.' actions in and policies for Muslim countries, then they will be fighting forever. I just hope they realize that having an extreme belief in true Islam does not make you a terrorist, before a "clash of civilizations" becomes a dreadful reality.

6 comments:

Kazim said...

Hello Mr. Bailey,

Your articles on esinislam have always benefited my household. Anytime my daughter 25 visited the African Muslim portal, she only looks for one thing. And that's your new post.

I have also read your articles on esinislam.com along with my wife today. We now know why you are the favourite of our our family.

By the way, are you a Muslim? If your are, you must be extremely open-minded. If you are not, you know very well how to strike the balance.

Keep it up

Norman

Liam Bailey said...

Thank you Norman for your kind words of encouragement. No I am not a Muslim, I have recently been trying to write more balanced articles to further my career. But on the issue of Islam/western relations I have always been pretty open-minded. I do not believe the line that violence is an inherent part of Islam.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your family, where are you from etc?

David Duff said...

Well, whilst you tiptoe around the head of a needle attempting to define exactly and forever the hairline difference between a Muslim extremist and a Muslim terrorist, perhaps you might like to pause and tell us all what we are do about the rascals who are determined to blow us all to hell unless we convert to their notions of heaven!

But, please, do not suggest that if we throw Israel to the dogs all will be well. It might cause me to take a low opinion of your political knowledge, and I wouldn't want that!

Liam Bailey said...

Firstly David,

If you have read any of my Israel/Palestine articles you will know that I have never advocated throwing Israel to the dogs -- in fact all my articles advocate that no race or creed should be subjected to excessive hard-ship or violence. That however incorporates the Palestinians plight, where I advocate that the Palestinians should be given a viable state on the land taken in the 1967 war including East Jerusalem, I even recognize that a land swap may be sufficient giving land back equivalent to that taken by Israel, and that compensation is perhaps the only solution to the refugee issue. I have in the past suggested the U.S. should threaten to withdraw financial aid and immediately withdraw their cushion between Israel and the UNSC until the above is granted.

As for the article at hand, what to do with the "rascals as you call them. I will first answer what shouldn't have been done; there should have been no invasions. The Northern Alliance could have took control of Afghanistan with the help of U.S. air-support alone, which could have also destroyed all Al Qaeda training camps and bases. Iraq too was a mistake, because both wars legitimized what previously had been terrorism as a battle-field war between the U.S. and Islam. In that Muslims also must know that invasions were necessary and draw the conclusion that oil and resources are behind the attack, which, as it is killing mostly civilians, is perceived as an attack on Muslims for western greed, this only adds support to a cause that was dwindling before 9/11.

The U.S. splitting Islam down the middle only exacerbates the increase in support for terrorism. How can you expect Muslims to support such onslaughts on Muslim countries in the name of U.S. imperialism and resource control, you can't. Therefore any moderate Muslims are either only outwardly moderate, or their faith has been corrupted by their own greed. Forcing them to choose between supporting U.S. policies or being branded extremist is forcing the number of extremists up around the world, once extremist the next step is terrorism.

When the U.S. was struck on 9/11 the War on Terror should have been what should have been done many years before. A concentrated campaign to weed out those following militant anti-western interpretations of Islam, and seeking to brainwash other disillusioned Muslims into terrorism and violence. As I have suggested before if the money that has been spent by all the "coalition governments on the two wars, support of the TFG against Somalia's so called Islamists and other ill-advised endeavours to combat widely branded "extremists around the world, had instead been spent on concentrating the efforts of all our intelligence services and anti-terrorism branches of police forces around the world, most of the terror attacks in the west and around the world could have been prevented, definitely prevented in Iraq. Perhaps even a global anti-terror hybrid police force/intelligence service could have been set up, comprising some of the best investigators and spies from around the world. A concentrated police/intelligence campaign around the world, and a propaganda war against the terrorists, who were hated by all decent Muslims -- most of the 2.2 billion -- around the world, without the counter-propaganda wars from the ammo given by collateral damage in Afghanistan and Iraq, would have further alienated the terrorists and made Al Qaeda numbers continue to deteriorate. In short Bush has been Al Qaeda's biggest recruiting agent. How's that?

Gaime said...

Hello Liam, those posts are weekly archive by Lori! She is a posting machine on myspace. I saved them so I can view them later on my own. If you click on the date, it will take you to the archive.
Thanks

Liam Bailey said...

Gaime,

You say:

Hello Liam, those posts are weekly archive by Lori!

To what posts do you refer?