The European Union, the media, the Strategic Foresight Group and others have attempted to detach religion in general and Islam in particular from terrorism.
EU officials, for example, prefer ‘terrorists who abusively invoke Islam’ to the term Islamic terrorist.
For people everywhere, however, the link between Islam and terrorism is crystal clear.
Islam is the point of reference and banner of political Islam – a movement in or vying for political power and the right wing restructuring of the ruling elite in various societies. It has established and aims to establish Islamic rule wherever it can. Terrorism is its method of choice and intrinsic to its very being. In today’s world, Islam without terrorism would lose its political significance and relevance.
Of course, there are those who say that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with the ‘real’ Islam or that it is a perversion or misinterpretation of Islam. But it is Islam and nothing but.
There are ample examples in the Koran and the Hadith in support of terrorism as can most likely be found in all other religions.
The difference is that because it is the ideology behind and banner of a contemporary political movement, the need to challenge it becomes all the more crucial.
More importantly, though, Islam has slaughtered more people than to be able to deny its accountability and to excuse and justify its actions by claims that Islamic terrorism is rooted in injustice or deprivation.
Of course the outrageous situations in Palestine and Iraq or political, social and economic deprivation are fertile recruiting grounds for this movement but it is not the source of its terrorism.
Religion in power is.
There is a majority across the world that are economically, politically, and socially deprived and / or outraged at US or Israeli state terrorism – but most do not resort to the slaughter of people. Instead, they organise and resist in progressive social and political movements, often at great risk to themselves.
Saying that Islamic terrorism is somehow rooted in injustice implies that the movement actually represents the people of the Middle East. The abuse-excuse rationalisation of the Islamic movement is very similar to the Israeli government’s exploitation of and capitalization on the genocide of the Jewish people during the holocaust to repress the Palestinian people and occupy Palestine.
Neither represents the people and oppression they have suffered.
It also implies that those from the Middle East and elsewhere are Muslims (out of the myriad of other characteristics that could define them) and that they are all synonymous with the Islamic movement.
In fact Islamic terrorism is not the work of Muslims but Islamists – two very different things.
Blurring the distinctions between the two – as Islamists and their apologists often do – and the use of rights and anti-racist language here in the west to do so are devious ways of silencing criticism and opposition – criticism which is particularly crucial given its role in the Middle East and North Africa and more recently here in the west.
These justifications are particularly ludicrous given the monumental struggle against Islam and political Islam that is taking place, especially in Iran.
It also ignores the important fact that the political Islamic movement was strengthened and brought centre stage by western governments during the Cold War as a green belt vis-à-vis the then Soviet Union and against the rise of the left in Iran and the Middle East.
Of course not all forms of terrorism rely on religion as political Islam does.
US militarism, one pole of terrorism in today’s world, nonetheless uses religion and religion has very much become a part of the political power struggles taking place between the two.
In my opinion, the attempts to detach Islam from terrorism are mere attempts to save Islam’s sullied reputation, appease its political movement or endeavour to return to the pre-September 11 status quo – when political Islam and Islamic terrorism’s sphere of influence was restricted to the Middle East and North Africa and at least to assassinating exiles in Europe.
Dropping the Islam terror tag merely aims to ‘foster better relations between the West and Islam’ – old friends and only recent foes at the expense of millions of victims and survivors.
The ‘inclusion of the west and Islam’, ‘cooperation’ amongst those committing mass murder, reforming the un-reformable… none of these add up to an alternative vision of the world but are just more of the same.
Rather an end to Islamic states, and wheeling and dealings between western governments and these states, ending the occupation of Palestine, ending the retreat from secularism, equality and freedom, including in the west, ending the divisions of and labelling of people other than as human, and exposing religion will go much further in addressing today’s terrorism.
As Mansoor Hekmat, the late Iranian Marxist has said: ‘It has been proved time and time again that pushing back religiosity and religious reaction is not possible except through unequivocal defence of human values against religion. It has been proved time and time again that preventing religious barbarism does not come about through bribing it and trying to give it a human face, but through the fight against reactionary religious beliefs and practices. What price should be paid… to realise that Islam and religion do not have a progressive, supportable faction?’
The above was Maryam Namazie’s opening remarks in a May 31 Oxford Union debate entitled this house believes religion is not responsible for terrorism. The event will be held in conjunction with Strategic Foresight Group, a global ‘think tank’ based in Mumbai, which recently published the report – ‘An Inclusive World – In which the West, Islam and the Rest have a stake’.