The International Community Must Actively Address the Menace of Jihadism and Its Phony Interpretation of Islam, Urges Sultan Shahin in the UN Human Rights Council in Its 25th Session
By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
18 March, 2014
United Nations Human Rights Council
Twenty-fifth Regular Session ((3 - 28 March 2014)
Agenda item 4: Subjects of particular concern for the UN Human Rights Council
Full Text of the Oral Statement by Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
South and Central Asian nations are deeply worried about the shape of things to come after the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan and the return of Islamist terrorists from the Syrian theatre of Jihad back to North America, Europe and rest of the world. The upsurge of Taliban Jihadism in Afghanistan-Pakistan may also mean more terror in India and Bangladesh.
As experience has shown, Mr. President, the war on terror cannot be fought merely with military means. This war has an ideological dimension as much as military. The exclusivist, political, totalitarian, Jihadi narrative of Islam has to be contested and the mainstream narrative of Islam as an inclusive, spiritual path for salvation promoted vigorously. Among the Western governments, only Britain has shown an awareness of the ideological nature of this war and a resolve to help Muslims fight it ideologically. But the response of British Muslims has been disappointing.
Muslims across the world continue to be in denial. Not the slightest sign of introspection.
British Muslims find the Report from the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Tackling Radicalisation and Extremism problematic. The subsequent actions too have caused consternation. But there is no indication that Muslims themselves plan to do something to fight this menace. We Muslims must understand and accept that this is primarily a war within Islam and it is for us to fight it.
Already, the Taliban have started flexing muscles. In Pakistan last month they forced the government to open talks. While demanding the implementation of Shariah they cut the throats of 23 captured soldiers of Pakistan Army. As Pakistan Information Minister pointed out, 90,000 Pak troops were taken prisoner in the 1971 war against India but not one of them lost their heads. He also wondered what sort of Shariah law Pakistan Taliban want imposed that allows cutting the throats of soldiers of their own country.
Clearly the international community must actively seek to address the menace of Jihadism and its phony interpretation of Islam.
Let us now reflect on some of the issues mentioned above in some detail. First, I find it gratifying that at least one government in the West has discovered that this war cannot be fought just with bullets and bombs. The recent report by British Prime Minister’s Task Force on Tackling Radicalisation and Extremism finds it “also necessary to define the ideology of Islamist extremism” and goes on to say in paragraph 1.4:
“This is a distinct ideology which should not be confused with traditional religious practice. It is an ideology which is based on a distorted interpretation of Islam, which betrays Islam’s peaceful principles, and draws on the teachings of the likes of Sayyid Qutb. Islamist extremists deem Western intervention in Muslim-majority countries as a ‘war on Islam’, creating a narrative of ‘them’ and ‘us’. They seek to impose a global Islamic state governed by their interpretation of Shari’ah as state law, rejecting liberal values such as democracy, the rule of law and equality. Their ideology also includes the uncompromising belief that people cannot be Muslim and British, and insists that those who do not agree with them are not true Muslims.”
I hope they also come to the realisation that the fathers of modern extremism, Sayyid Qutub of Egypt and Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi of the Indian sub-continent, are products of and heavily influenced by an ideology that the British Empire had played an important role in imposing upon the Muslim community. It supported this radical Wahhabi ideology in its infancy and provided it with the wherewithal to cause the destruction it has, even betraying its formal alliance with the mystically inclined and peaceful Hashemite Khilafat of Sheriff of Mecca in the process. Then again the West, this time led by the US, supported and encouraged this ideology, indeed spent a lot of money in promoting it during the last years of cold war.
One would have thought that it would be difficult for Jihadists to survive in post 9/11 world. Instead, the post 9/11 world seems to have created more swamps for Jihadists to wreak havoc and plan and plot further devastation in different parts of the world. Having reflected upon past mistakes, the West better realise that the first thing to do in tackling Jihadism is for it to immediately stop supporting and protecting the fountainhead of radical Islamist ideology in Saudi Arabia or at the very least to curb the massive export of the Saudi version of radical Islam to far corners of the world. After all, 16 of the 19 terrorists involved in 9/11 were Saudis, nurtured through the Saudi school curriculum and the rest too schooled in Saudi version of Islam.The UK Report considers challenging and tackling extremism