Not in our Name
12 July, 2005
By Farzana Shah
Thursday July 7th bombing in London has drawn thick flak from the peace-loving people across the world. Every one, not only from the western countries but also from the Muslim world has condemned this act of barbarism.
Muslims are particularly shocked by the incident where innocent people were killed and injured, for the simple reason that it would not serve their cause in any way and rather would add to their problems and difficulties. If it is the handiwork of al-Qaeda, as was reported in the press that a group calling itself "The Secret Organization of al-Qaeda in Europe" posted a claim on their website for the responsibility of Thursday's blasts in London, saying that it was in retaliation for the Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, then it will neither do good to the Muslims in these war-hit countries nor to the Muslim Ummah as a whole.
If al-Qaeda is involved in this heinous act and its members claim to be Muslims; they are not, because there is no room in Islam for killing the innocent in any manner or for any cause. Islam is the religion of peace. Its very name Islam is a synonym of peace. Its very greetings, ‘Assalam-o-alaikum” means peace be upon you. Qura’n says, “killing of one person (innocent) is like killing of the entire humanity”. Then how can the al-Qaeda terrorists claim to be the Muslims and still perpetrate what is forbidden in Islam?!
The mainstream Muslims of the world have denounced terrorism on numerous occasions. Thousands of the Muslims including Pakistanis have signed petitions denouncing 9/11 to show their solidarity with the world and that the Muslims and Islam do not support terrorism in any form.
Pakistan, in particular, has not only denounced the acts of terrorism in the strongest words, but is also playing a very active ‘front line’ role in fighting the war on terrorism in its north western mountainous region after the 9/11 incident.
If the Londoners are shocked so are we here in Pakistan. Who else can feel their pain better than the Pakistanis who have been fighting the war on terror for bringing peace to the world for more than three years now. Pakistan has deployed thousands of its soldiers on its western border fighting the terrorists there and suffering casualties in the process.
There have been innumerable terrorist attacks all over Pakistan and many an innocent life has been lost. The terrorists have not even spared the opportunity to kill our top leadership and several attempts have been made on the life of President General Musharraf including two suicidal bomb attacks. Similarly Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had a very narrow escape when a bomb exploded on the wrong side of his car that he was entering.
President Musharraf and the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have condemned the London bombing and expressed their heartfelt grief and sorrow over the killing of innocent people, besides expressing sympathies and praying for the departed souls on behalf of entire Pakistani nation.
In this hour of great bereavement of the British people, we the Pakistanis - also being a favourite target of the terrorists – highly appreciate the resilience, the fortitude, the courage and the a very high sense of discipline shown by the Londoners in facing the calamity. They are certainly a proud part of a great nation.
The London subway attacks also call for a serious examination for their raison d’etre. Apparently they look to be the part of an on going series of attacks. Their pattern and style akin to Madrid railways bombing strongly suggest them to be the act of the same perpetrators – al-Qaeda. Now, what is al-Qaeda and why is it doing such insane, inhuman, unIslamic heinous brutalities? What has driven it so mad? There seems to be no other consideration among its terrorist members except their murderous agenda. They kill anyone, Muslims just as quickly as the non-Muslims, as long as they feel the target qualifies for their agenda, irrespective of his faith, nationally or the origin. Unfortunately, they also seem to be blinded by their own agenda and hatred and believe themselves to be right. Their agenda is political, not religious, but Islam is used to justify it. Just as unjust wars have been fought in the name of religion throughout the history, the same still applies today.
Even a cursory look at the events would reveal that it all started with Afghanistan. Reversal of the US policy against the Talibans, after they had not only ousted the Soviets from the Afghan soil after 11 long years of war and suffering huge casualties and other untold miseries at the hands of the USSR, but also caused disintegration of the USSR leaving USA as the sole Super Power on the planet, was the root cause which gave birth to such terrorism. Talibans felt not only badly betrayed by the USA, left high and dry in the lurch as they say, but also their very existence was now being threatened by the cruise missile attacks and bombings. The same Osama bin Laden, who was ‘imported’ from Saudi Arabia and was the main protégée of the US in Afghanistan turned against them. One thing led to the other, till the most heinous of the crimes - 9/11 happened. Now there was an open war between the US and the al-Qaeda. In declared wars the enemy and the targets are known and neutralized as such. Though the battle ground was Afghanistan, but the enemy’s whereabouts were not certain. US soldiers were mostly fighting the ghosts of al-Qaeda. Anything moving was targeted and ‘Daisy Cuttered’ – including innocent men, women and children in the weddings and marriage parties. Donald Rumsfeld shrugged off such wanton killing by inventing the word ‘collateral damage’. However, Afghans and al-Qaeda did not buy this word which not only hardened their attitude against the coalition forces but also provided them with many dedicated fresh recruits for induction in al-Qaeda. A new breed of terrorist – suicidal bombers – came into being.
War on Iraq – totally uncalled for – gave further impetus to such suicidal bombings. More American, British and the coalition forces’ soldiers have died after the war in Iraq than during the war itself. Similarly many Iraqis have suffered and are suffering from the chaos unleashed on their country by a war waged over demonstrably false premises (i.e. that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which it did not.). US and its partners are faced with the proverbial “To do or not to do --. “To pull out or not to pull out?”. They are stuck and even if they wish to pull out they cannot. Military pundits equate Iraq with an other Vietnam for the Americans and this time for its allies as well. Britain being the foremost ally had to suffer 7/7. They all knew it. Only, they did not know ‘where and when’.
There are, however, many people in many places who have a huge stake in the senseless and endless war and not all of them live in the caves of Afghanistan or are sheltered across the Pakistani border. They are economical and political interests of much wider scope than they appear to be. Oil from the Mid East and Central Asia is alleged to be the uppermost consideration. I'm not trying to condone the terrorists from their dastardly and cowardly acts of crime against the humanity, but we need to examine all aspects of London bombing instead of just focusing on one group only for its happening.
We need to look whether some elements (zealots) in the Middle East are angry about U.S. Middle -East policies and they want Coalition Forces (the U.S. and England) to get out of Iraq and they had showed their anger by bombing the subways and buses in England. This is their method of threatening British government and forcing them to withdraw their troops from Iraq. July 7 was to them the most opportune time when the eyes of the entire world were focussed on the G-8 summit taking place in Scotland.
This war ‘On Terrorism’ and ‘For Terrorism’, despite the claims from both sides, does not seem to have any foreseeable end. It is a war of attrition on both sides. None of its proponents seems to gain much, except loss of life, face and despondency on the coalition side and loss of life and material (though not much) for the terrorists. None of them will be able to subdue the other or its will. It is likely to slobber perniciously and perennially.
Will there be an end to all such senseless killing, ask the saner element of the world? Or will it go on for ever by the slaves of their egos? Expecting the mainstream Muslims to talk and tell the terrorists to abandon their activities will be like telling black people of America that they should simply go to Los Angeles and sit down and talk to the ‘Crips and Bloods’ and tell them to stop the gang violence and it would just stop or telling Christians to sit down and talk to Christian terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph. The repercussions of 7/7 are already on the streets, mosques and churches of Great Britain. Hundreds of Muslims are being interrogated and rounded up. The spill over will most certainly meander to the European continent, to the detriment of the Muslims.
Afghanistan was the first to experience the worst bombing resulting in the killings of hundreds of innocent civilians due to the presence of very same al-Qaeda elements there. Palestinian and Kashmiri freedom movements which already suffered a set back due to 9/11 will find it still more difficult now after the London bombings to convince the world of their genuine struggle for freedom.
This incident will cast its damaging shadow over the entire Muslim community although they have nothing to do with it. Neither has Islam anything to do with it. These terrorist groups like al-Qaeda cannot be termed as Muslim groups, as they are rather violent, pseudo-religious cults led by men who play on the disenchantment of the people and use the religion as the justification to influence them to do their bidding. Though the Muslim countries are doing their bit to help in tracking down and condemning such terrorists yet, the western world’s viewing them with suspicion and likely to discriminate against them at the social level would not be healthy and the Muslims will justifiably be dismayed and consider it an unfair turn to them.
The need of the hour is in closing the gap rather than distancing themselves further apart. Terrorists are to be considered as a common enemy and combated together. However, in fighting this evil and menace more brain has to be used than the bran. Whether you saw a young handsome but dishevelled and wounded British being interviewed by the BBC after the bombing or not, I did. He said something which could come out only of the most sagacious, the most compassionate and the most humane being in this world. On being asked what did he feel about the terrorists who had bombed the trains, he said, “I feel pity for them”! The BBC reporter not prepared for such an answer, questioned somewhat startlingly, “pity?” and the gentleman calmly said, “Yes, pity. What else can one feel for people not in possession of their senses?”.
Terrorist are persons deprived of their senses. Killing them will neither cure them nor finish them. They breed fast. Let’s kill the root causes of terrorism, ignorance, poverty and injustice.