Islam and Terrorism – Are they inextricably intertwined?

Perhaps last week’s decision to write on the contentious issue of immigration was a prescient warning of what was going to happen on Friday. After all, the deluge of press coverage on immigration is not simply dictated by the mass of people seeking refuge and economic relief in Europe but generally their religion too. Of course, the religion I speak of is Islam, in whose name the perpetrators of Friday’s horrendous attacks in France, Kuwait and Tunisia claim they are committing these crimes. And perhaps this has to the fundamental question in our discussion about the nature of Islamic extremism today. Are these heinous acts committed by devout Muslims or by apocalyptic terrorists who blight Islam’s allegedly peaceful reputation?

As something of a disclaimer, I must confess that my understanding of the Quran and Islamist politics is more disappointing than I would wish to admit. However, the barrage of coverage we have received about Islamic extremism in recent years has given me the opportunity to come to my own conclusions. While these terrorists certainly prescribe to a convoluted form of Islam, I do believe a majority of them have read the Quran, which others wish to contend. Critically, I believe their literalist interpretation of the Islamic holy book is fuelling their abhorrent ideology. This demonstrates that more needs to be done to address the manner in which Muslims are taught to read the Quran. Ultimately, Imams and community elders need to be emphasising to their congregations that the literalist interpretation of going out and killing kafirs or infidels, a derogatory term for non-Muslims, is simply unacceptable. Though I’ve no doubt that many Mosques in the United Kingdom and across the world are doing laudable and effective work in combating Islamic extremism, there’s certainly a distinct number, especially amongst the Deobandi sect, a highly conservative strand of Islam, which continue to preach a divisive message. In the UK, this encourages members of their congregations to reject our democratic, secularist traditions which have long allowed us to be a country of religious tolerance and multiethnic harmony. Ultimately, while these terrorists are certainly Muslims, they are clearly uneducated ones. All the same, as Muslims endowed with a considerable understanding of the Quran, they are damaging their faith’s ostensibly peaceful reputation.

Continuing in the same vein and upon the same principle; I watched Hollande and Cameron as they were carted out in front of the assorted press, eagerly awaiting their respective replies to the inevitable question of whether Islam had played a central role in these attacks. As the British PM declared Islam ‘a religion of peace’, his French counterpart completely ducked the question, merely suggesting that these attacks had ‘all the hallmarks of terrorists.’

Given that the French President is particularly fond of utilising the same remarks every time there is a terrorist attack, I was not surprised to hear his statement. Yet given we are just over one week on from Cameron’s appearance at the Global Security Forum, in which he controversially called for Muslims to redouble their efforts in foiling Islamic extremists’ recruitment drives, it was something of a climbdown for him to disassociate Islam from today’s tragic events.

Though this distinction has been somewhat overlooked by the commentariat, Cameron’s decision to dismiss the role of Islam in Friday’s bloodshed is evidently an indication of the British Government’s unwillingness to add fuel to an already burgeoning fire in many districts of Britain’s largest cities. As the process of social and economic equality continues to bite hard particularly across the North, London’s outlying suburbs and Wales, the views of an increasingly, vociferous segment of the British population are now at odds with the Westminster consensus on the issue of EU membership and immigration.

With this in mind, perhaps it was appropriate that the PM did not press home Islam’s association with these horrific attacks. Indeed, if Mr.Cameron had issued a nod of approval to the words and thoughts of those feeling disenfranchised by mass immigration and EU membership, race riots may have beckoned. Though some may dispel this as incendiary rhetoric, absenting metropolitan Britain, there is a raw sense that the British people are being perpetually sold out by politicians incapable of tackling issues like Islamic extremism, the deficit and NHS reform.

While the success story of the last government may have been the creation of two million jobs, this time the Tories have to target the seemingly inescapable issue of Islamic extremism, for national security remains the principal government responsibility. Whether this entails instituting a Muslim led enquiry into what allures people to Islamic State and Al Qaeda or introducing intensive educational programmes aimed at furthering integration between different ethnicities in the most demographically diverse British towns and cities, something needs to be done immediately to arrest Britain’s vulnerable national security situation.

Of course, terrorism is not only a domestic issue but a foreign policy one too. Therefore the FCO (the Foreign & Commonwealth Office) needs to reconsider Britain’s policy of engagement with some of the world’s most brutal dictators as well as its historically interventionist stance in global conflicts. Ultimately, the strong political and economic relationships that Britain enjoys with an extensive number of authoritarian states in the Middle East and Asia continues to give ammunition to those who wish to challenge the reputed hypocrisy of British foreign policy. Given the repeated celebration of our democratic traditions at home, it is somewhat sanctimonious of us to entertain regimes, which commit some of the most horrific human rights abuses in the world.

With all this for Cameron to consider, there’s little doubt that Islamic State are one step ahead, if not two. His task is to hit back and hit back quick, for if he doesn’t, the storm will only grow and combatants on both sides will inevitably resort to ever more gruesome methods to end it. Let’s hope for our sake we never reach that stage.

  • So why not start with challenging the loyalists who abuse a literalists interpretation of the Christian Bible?

    Or we could look back to the religious wars of the reformation and counter-reformation, now being repeated in Islam, with David Cameron weighing in against the Islamic Calvinists on behalf of the absolute monarchs of the Gulf.

  • Dan

    I must say, whilst they aren’t culpable for anything that’s happened this last week, Belfast Islamic centre could have issued a statement on their website empathising with the loss of so many British and Irish lives….. As it is, there’s nothing on their website or facebook page. There is though a link to a site called ‘Die for Islam’
    Charming.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Belfast-Islamic-Centre/163003537095773
    https://www.facebook.com/die.for.islam

  • Hokken

    Aren’t we supposed to see thousands of moderate Muslims in the street
    claiming they don’t support the daily atrocities committed in the name
    of Islam? where are they ? The streets are empty and why is that ? The
    people want to understand why those moderate Muslims are not taking a
    clear stance.

  • Chingford Man

    To be fair “Die for Islam” seems totally benign.

  • notimetoshine

    Frankly it doesn’t matter about the justification. These morons have just used one specific ideology to further their warped goals, either as a result of socio economic factors, geopolitical reasons or just plain sadism. They could be using Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism or even Buddhism.

    Let’s be realistic though, every time there is an islamist terror attack we hear the same old trope of where are the apologies, muslims must do more. The two most blood soaked and frankly evil ideologically driven terror campaigns were carried out by Russian communists and German fascists, so immense where they that their geopolitical consequences still reverberate today. I have yet to hear however, the apologies from conservative and socialist parties from across the world for the damage done on behalf of and as a result of their ideologies, when can I expect these apologies?

    For that matter and closer to home, did people expect the SDLP to apologise on behalf of their ideology every time the IRA murdered someone?

    After all religions are just all encompassing cosmic political ideologies when one looks at rationally.

    However I must say this article smacks of the ill informed posturing that is rife within the daily mail and its tabloid ilk.

    I would have thought that writing on such a weighty subject the author would have at least attempted to understand the very real and complex differences between the different branches of Islamic terror (AQ and Islamic state are chalk and cheese), the geopolitical and sectarian issues which dominate the mid East and a frank acceptance that all the abrahmaic religions anyway advocate violence and hate towards to the ‘infidelheretic”.

    Oh one more thing, I don’t see how EU membership and migration have anything to do with Islamic state. Migration from the 50s onwards from outaide the EU provides more than enough manpower for any terror minded Islamic group.

  • Turgon

    The fundamental error is to see ISIS as the archetype of the muslim faith. There are 1 billion muslims in the world of all varying shades of political view and of all levels of religious observation.

    ISIS is fundamentally a political system. A nasty violent group bent on carving out political power in the region and using parts of the Koran to provide justification for their measures and increase their power / appeal.

    It is vital to remember that the vast majority of ISIS’s victims are muslims. They are especially fond of killing muslims they dislike such as religiously liberal sects e.g. Alawites but again that is probably more about power than anything else.

    The west continuously misunderstands and misrepresents Islam. I claim no particular expertise but am old enough to remember that at the time of the Iranian revolution we were told Shia Islam was the extreme lot and Sunni Islam the moderate ones. Now we have it the other way round. Except of course it is not really about religion but about power and these labels we lazily apply to groups are just that – lazy labels. Remember Assad (an Alawite which is sort of a sub sect of Shia Islam) is married to a Sunni Muslim.

    Exactly where that leaves us in terms of understanding Islam is uncertain but saying that Islam and terrorism are intertwined is simply silly: as I said above there are 1 billion muslims and most of the victims of militant islam are muslims.

  • james

    I don’t think Islam is inextricably linked to terrorism any more than Christianity, or any other major religion, is. Like many things, it can be misused in that way, but it is unfair to equate any religion with terrorism. One could make that argument for an ideology, however – as, for example, Irish Republicanism, which since it originated has unfortunately tended to go hand in glove with violence.

  • kalista63

    I’ve vague memories from my childhood of lazy jounalists talking of the Catholic IRA or the Protestant UVF/UDA. How did we feel about that? I also recall, bein a RC, priests reading out circulars condemning the IRA and the Faith being blamed for IRA activity.

    ISIS, or Daish as its now trendy to call them,are a hobby of elites such as the Saudis and their Salafist/ Westboro Baptists in beards,corruption. Yesterday I watched film of them destroyning historic monuments as the locals, mostly if not all Muslims, watched with unmistakable desperation and sdaness in their eyes.

    As the Saudi’s messengers, financed at the time by the west, attacked Ma’loula it was local muslims and the Syrian army who held back so the town was damaged as little as possible. Then we have the abandonment of the Yazidis by the west. Man, they were the big story, nightly film of our bous rescuing them but the plug was quickly pulled because we can imagine the contempt Salafist feel for them.

    As a closer, isn’t odd that the more we fek with them, over there, the more extreme some become. Didn’t we overthrow every attempt at democracy from Iran, replacing them with a puppet leader, till Egypt, replacing an elected government with the army who then foragve Mubarak

  • terence patrick hewett

    The phrase “Muslim community” slips easily off the tongue but it is anything but an easy matter to unravel what, if anything, it means; and indeed who believes in what.

    Islam claims that it is not a religion invented by Mohammed some 600 years after the birth of Jesua Ben Joseph but as the restorer of the original, uncorrupted monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham and Moses and therefore allegedly supercedes both Judaism and Christianity. We know there are more incarnations of Islam around the world than the Eskimos are alleged to have names for snow; and each maintain they are right. Members of one Islamic group may not recognize members of other groups as fellow Muslims, and open conflict is not uncommon. We have great difficulty understanding who is speaking for whom.

    Muslim religious taxonomy is tortuous; the western definitions used are necessarily approximate since any attempted precision invites endless debate. There are the Sunni (six schools of belief, at least seven movements and many traditions), there are the Shi’a (three main branches, but a vast and inclusive number of schools of thought following their respective imams and scholars), there is Sufism (a mystical tradition within Islam), and there is the Ahmadiyya (two movements); there are the Wahhabi (and its associate Salafism) and there are the Kharijites (with some twentyfour sub-divisions) and there are many, many other sects and allied traditions too numerous to mention, both extant and extinct. Then there are the Reformist Muslims who question dangerously and bravely, the very understanding of Shari’a itself (a whole raft of those); but it is what goes bang that gets the attention.

    And what goes bang may be exemplified by the writings of Sayyid Qutb the leading intellectual of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood; part of the Sunni trans-national movement. His views may be expressed by the following:

    He maintained that to restore the sovereignty of Allah to humanity, the Ummah (the community of truly believing Muslims) must overcome Jahiliyya; defined by Qutb as the “state of ignorance of the guidance of God.” And that today, as in the time of Muhammad, there could never be any place for Christians or Jews within the world of Islam save as Dhimmis (a complex second class status, restricted, sanctioned and theoretically protected but practically very much un-protected and to western eyes a status of slavery). There is no room at all for the apostasy of atheism; the sentence for apostasy is death; the sentence for homosexuality and adultery is death; the sentence for blasphemy is death. He maintained that compromise is impossible between the worlds of Jahiliyya and Islam and to overcome Jahiliyya he called for practical and eventually violent action, since those who deviate from Islam are the enemies of mankind. True freedom can exist only in a polity governed by Shari’a. It may be observed that one of the Arabic words for dialogue with unbelievers (that is we, the notorious Kuffar) is Takyyah which in Arabic means religiously sanctioned dissimulation. There is no real engagement with non-Muslim thought.

    To sum up his views: “There are two parties in all the world: the Party of Allah and the Party of Satan – the Party of Allah, which stands under the banner of Allah and bears his insignia, and the Party of Satan, which includes every community, group, race and individual that does not stand under the banner of Allah”

    In perspective, Qutb’s essentially puritanical moral outlook appears to some orthodox Christian eyes superficially attractive. To some of the political left, his authoritarianism, his rejection of materialism and the sublimation of the individual to the tribe, finds a fellow traveller. But since many authorities find his ideas strongly reminiscent of European fascism; his writings should carry a severe health warning.

    Now do not expect an inundation by persons from all the myriad incarnations of Islam articulating my grievous error, since this posting itself is an alleged blasphemy; but if they paid a little less attention to religious introspection and a little more time trying to understand the history, culture and especially the sensibilities of the countries in which they live, we would all get on a great deal better. But perhaps that is Jahiliyya, not Islam.

  • Dan

    One of the videos isn’t….

  • antrim65

    Are you mad – I do not see Christians murdering innocent civilians enjoying a break – said civilians contributing to the host {Muslim) country’s economy.

    Irish Republicanism was nothing to do with religion and more to do with a country’s perceived identity and quest for national sovereignty.

    Where are the prominent British Muslims for a quote when you need them for comment – same as the grooming scandal (Predominantly Pakistani Muslim men gang raping 1400 white British school girls) – their silence was deadly!!!!

  • james

    I didn’t say Irish Republicanism was linked to religion, I said it was linked to terrorism.

    I was making the difference between Muslims generally, and terrorists who are Muslim and whom interpret certain parts of the Koran to justify terrorism. Muslims, generally speaking, are not terrorists. A much higher proportion of Irish Republicans, historically, have been.

    And paedophile gangs is hardly a solely Muslim phenomenon. Various priests have been found guilty of such, but that does not make it a Christian act.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The guy in question was an electronic engineering student just like I was, are we going to blame the punishing demands of MOSFET gate and channel calculations or exposure to metal toxicity for his mania?

  • Reader

    Wait, isn’t Cameron “weighing in” against the One True Church? On behalf of the elected government of Iraq?

  • Mirrorballman

    I urge people to watch this video. An interview on CNN in relation to is topic.

    http://youtu.be/Bwdhib-bZ-s

  • antrim65

    We have to deal with the here and now. Are you an apologist for this barbaric rabble who feel it acceptable to blow up, shoot dead or behead innocent “civilians” in the name of Islam – their description – not ours

    These innocent murdered civilians were from countries who have welcomed Muslims (whether that be Britain, France, Spain etc) and provided them with a better life – better than they would ever have in their native countries.

    I appreciate the West has previously meddled where it quite possibly should not have, but that was then – governments now have to be more transparent to their people – where as America and Britain have in the past entered conflicts without due consideration, that cannot be said as of now (The Syria bombing rejection by British parliament – for example)

    British and other European Muslims must denounce the attacks allegedly carried out in the name of Islam and show allegiance to their adopted countries (or country of birth – not ancestry)
    I say “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”
    If not, feel free to leave, but hey, the benefits and Human Rights afforded in this country are non existent in the middle east Africa and Asia – so I don’t think that will happen.

    I think you will find the Author of the article re EU and immigration was referring to the general consensus within (certainly) the “White working classes” and (probably) middle aged “White middle classes” that uncontrolled immigration whether EU (or other) and directives from Brussels is creating an in balance in certain cities and towns and where schools, hospitals, public services and the government purse are being stretched to the limit due to immigrants. 300,000 (net) last year I believe (probably more).

    I would also refer you to the crime statistics in regards to immigrants – it is adversely disproportionate and creates anger and animosity within the natural populous (White British).

    The vast majority of Eastern Europeans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Somalis, Iraqis etc are not making any real attempt to integrate but instead form/create their own area’s which ultimately become “no go” or unsafe areas for natural White British people.

    Islamic State receives support from elements of the Muslim community not from the White British – that is a fact and not some ill informed Daily Mail rhetoric as you call it.

    Why is it suddenly fashionable for Muslim women to wear the Hijab
    or even worse the Burka (never generally worn in the 60’s 70’s, or 80’s?)
    Why were the Muslim sex grooming gangs covered up by the leftie media and public authorities including the police.
    Why are Islamic “hate preachers” allowed to verbalise hatred and promote terror when the bodies of dead British soldiers are returned to this country for burial.
    Why did Michelle Obama go to and promote a school in London where Muslim girls made up 99% of the school population – all wore Hijab’s and this image was portrayed around the world.

    Racism reversed me thinks

    For the record I am not some anglo saxon, raving right wing extremist, but am an immigrant myself (to UK) so have no axe to grind with anyone.

  • submariner

    For the record I am not some anglo saxon, raving right wing extremist,

    You sure do a good impression of one.

  • antrim65

    Irish Republicanism was born from a nation/peoples resolve to repatriate its citizens from the iron grip of one external country (Britain) – not for world or continent domination as IS seems to want to attain – these organisations have no comparison what so ever. In regards to the word “terrorist” are we referring to the “rebels of 1916” who became national heroes or the current “Republican” incumbents at Stormont who are now democratically elected to jointly run the country but who were once perceived by the “state” and NI Protestants as terrorists ?

    As for current terrorism (globally) unfortunately the majority of terrorist acts are now carried out by people of the muslim faith – therefore your point is invalid in stating ” Muslims generally are not terrorists” the fact is – terrorists are generally Muslims !

    Quite clearly I am not referring to the majority of law abiding Muslim people – that would be ludicrous – but there is an element (of sufficient proportion) prepared to carry out attacks on people of their own faith and the “west”

    The point in regards to Muslim sex grooming gangs is the quite deliberate attempt by the British media, public authorities and prominent muslims to submerse this problem instead of tackling it head on and prosecuting people. I accept priests have brought shame on the Catholic church but they are slowly being brought to justice and their abuse is widely publicised. That justice should be applied to all who commit these horrendous acts – no matter their faith or fear of offence or claims of racism

  • Mister_Joe

    And Christianity is somehow different with respect to the number of groups which lay claim to the “real” truth and have been and are still in open conflict in some places? Not in N.I. of course.

  • Carl Mark

    Joe, you beat me to it.
    I lived in a Muslim country (Indonesia) for a few years and while I admit their are those Muslims who would agree with the opinions outlined above (swop Islam for Christianity and Allah for Jesus and it could apply to many Christian groups) I believe from my own experience that most Muslims I met treated me a lot better than many Christians did in Northern Ireland.
    I found in general that they were a tolerant (they put up with me) generous people who helped me through Culture shock, malaria and showed great patience as I learned their language and who I am glad to say many remain my friends to this day.
    Im my mind “Islamic” terrorism is more to do with geopolitics than Islam.

  • Carl Mark

    Couldn’t resist could you James! whataboutry even when the subject is Islam!

  • Carl Mark

    Turgon I doff my hat to you, a great post I wish I had written it!

  • Carl Mark

    who do you think are fighting ISIS and dying in the process.

  • antrim65

    By stating the truth I am a raving right wing extremist – unbelievable !

    The problem with the left, is ( I assume your politics is leftist ? ) they resort to fascist tactics and try to brow beat everyone of an opinion different to yours/theirs into submission

    I came from nothing (working class Irish background) but want a safe and lawful society for my Family and for decent law abiding citizens of Britain – nothing more – nothing less

    Labour/the left are doomed – the working class have been betrayed by the chattering classes of the Westminster bubble who do not have a clue as to the real world. I bet the labour front bench were not on “youth schemes” at £25 per week in the eighties !

    If immigrants come to this country and integrate,contribute and embrace our culture and respect our laws then no problem – if not – then please respect my right to express concern and have a reasonable expectation that our government will protect the rights and culture of the host nation. Surely it must be the Dog wagging the tail – not the tail wagging the dog ?

    I don’t see Christian churches flying up at a rate of notts in the middle east or Dave replacing Mohammed as the most popular name in those regions. If we wish to become an extension of islam, carry on and reap the rewards. Our government needs to wake up (sooner rather than later) and protect the rights and heritage of its natural citizens – just as Russia, China, Australia, America etc etc do

  • Mister_Joe

    Carl, I’m not surprised. 3 years ago, I became very ill in a Moslem city (Istanbul) and ended up in hospital for 3 weeks, the first in an induced coma. The treatment I received was amazing and I made many friends from nurses to doctors. We had lots on interesting conversations about Islam. Later, while recuperating in an hotel, I had to use a wheelchair. An Iraqi, recovering from a car bomb in which he lost a leg asked to use my wheelchair to go to prayers at a local mosque. He and I became good friends and it was he who gave me the name Mister Joe.

  • james

    Subject was terrorism and an allegation that it was a twin brother of Islam. I refuted that and suggested a more appropriate example.

  • Carl Mark

    and your not even embarrassed!

  • terence patrick hewett

    @ Joe & Carl

    There is much to agree with in what you say: all three Abrahamic monotheistic religions have at one time or another been extremely violent. Two of the Abrahamic religions are proselytising religions and one is not. Judaism has never proselytised: part of the argument with Imperial Rome resulting in the Diaspora was religious in nature. In the words of the immortal Archie Bunker when he said that he preferred his kids to play with Jewish children rather than Catholic:

    “Der Jews don’t wantcha”

    The original proposition was: “Islam and Terrorism – Are they inextricably intertwined?”

    One may equally ask:“Judaism and Zionism – Are they inextricably intertwined?”

    There are two dreams which unite all the variants and traditions of Judaism and Islam respectively.

    For the Jews of the Diaspora it was the longing for Jerusalem: their lament is chronicled by Psalm 137

    ……How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
    If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy……

    For a divided Islam it is the formation of a single state under God’s law which stands at the heart of all Muslim traditions. To quote Prof. John Casey:

    “That Muslims throughout the world form a single community – an Ummah – is not the conviction of a few cranks. It is inherent in all Muslim traditions. Even if the divisions within the Arab world make a Caliphate seem impossible to achieve, very many Muslims – perhaps the majority throughout the world – respond to it instinctively as an ideal. A leader who with God’s blessing dispenses law and justice throughout the countries of Islam appeals as profoundly to the Muslim imagination as the kingdom of Christ upon earth or St Augustine’s City of God did to Christians in Europe for at least 1,500 years. In England in the 17th century, Protestant radicals thought that they were achieving just that.”

    My own optician and friend, the late Bernard Woolf, as a young man in 1948 sprang Yaakov Meridor, Nathan Germant, Reuven Franco and Yaakov Hillel of the Irgun, and Shlomo Ben Shlomo and David Yanai of Lehi from captivity in Gilgil; a British internment camp in Kenya. A very exciting story told in his own words which can be accessed at:

    http://www.jewishgen.org/SAfrica/newsletter/SA-SIG-NL-2007-06.pdf#zoom=83

    The dream of the Caliphate attracts young Muslims in exactly the same way. I have observed the activities of various Islamic Societies at university and my conclusions are espoused in the second post of only ten posts in response to an article in Algemeiner: in the unlikely event that anyone is interested it can be accessed at:

    http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/04/03/bittersweet-reception-to-cancelation-of-anti-israel-hatefest-at-southampton-university/

    I have hundreds of Jewish and Muslim friends and acquaintances in many countries; some going back a very long way. And my answer to the original proposition and the one which I proposed is – Yes and Yes.

    Addendum

    A selection of influential Islamic thinkers over the last 150 years.

    Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (d.1897)
    Muhammad Abduh (d.1905)
    Muhammad Rashid Rida (d.1935)
    Muhammad Iqbal (d.1938)
    Hassan al-Banna (d.1949)
    Sayyid Qutb (d.1966)
    Ali Shari’ati (d.1977)
    Sayyid Abul-A’la Maududi (d.1979)
    Ayatollah Khomeini (d.1989)
    Tariq Ramadan (b.1962)

  • murdockp

    no