Saturday, February 16, 2013

Muslims must confront violent Islamic Extremism

Around the world, the greatest enemy of Muslim citizens is Islamist extremism. Today, in Pakistan, Sunni Islamists detonated a bomb in a market that is popular with Shia Pakistani families. Many are dead. These civilians were brutally murdered because of their beliefs. Just over a month ago, over 100 civilians were killed in a similar attack. But it isn't just Afghanistan and Pakistan which are suffering. In Iraq for example, alongside frequent bombings, assassinations of senior civil servants and politicians have also become more common. The main perpetrator of these attacks is the Islamic State of Iraq, an heir to Al Qa'ida in Iraq, and a group which seeks to return the country back into the bloody clutches of sectarian civil war. A time of death characterized by the torture of children, hostages killed in fire pits, the use of electric drills as implements of torture and the morally foul disinterest of too many senior American politicians.

Recognizing this brutality is crucial. But it's also equally vital that Islamic societies face up to the evil which festers inside them. For far too long, warped terrorists have found quiet excuse for the atrocities which they commit. That has to change. While effective counter-terrorism partly requires the application of force, the construction of a new social tolerance is key. In essence, the growth of a political discourse that alleviates concerns regarding cross-sectarian participation in governing society (see growing protests in Iraq). During the period between 2003-2006 in Iraq, a significant violence enabler was the US strategic failure to separate intransigent ideological extremists from broader social discontentment. When the strategy changed, violence reduced dramatically. The lesson is this - until extremists are loudly discredited from all sides of a society (or ended), they find breaches in which to take root and foundations to manipulate the broader dissatisfaction of others.

Finally, we must also condemn bigotry in all its forms. Nonetheless, because of nuclear proliferation, Islamist sectarian currents pose an exceptional threat to international security. 

On a related note, here's a link page for my other terrorism related writings.

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