Opinion: The painful truth

Illustration Illustration

Illustration Illustration

By Elie Dvorin

Before brutally murdering hundreds of school children in Beslan, Russia, the Islamic terrorists yelled “Allah Akbar” (God is great) over the building’s loudspeaker system. This is just the latest of a slew of terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamentalists that have included hijacking two Russian planes; blowing up military barracks in Saudi Arabia; and detonating bombs on buses in Jerusalem – all in the name of God.

In addition to traditional acts of terrorism, Islamists stone rape victims to death in Gaza; sell children into slavery in Sudan; and forbid women from voting, driving or acquiring even the most basic of rights all across the Muslim world. Enough atrocities have been committed in the name of Islam for people to now ask hard-pressing questions without being labeled a bigot.

Many will never admit that the worldwide problem of terrorism largely is a problem within Islam. But to ignore the link between Islam and terrorism does a great disservice to both the truth and our ability to wage the war on terrorism.

Abdel Rahman Al-Rashed, general manager of the Al-Arabiya news channel, wrote the following after the Russian school hostage tragedy.

“It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists. But it is equally certain – and exceptionally painful – that almost all terrorists are Muslims.” After listing a plethora of examples of Islamic terrorism in recent history, he concluded by saying “What a pathetic record. What an abominable achievement. Does all this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies and our cultures?”

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Iraqi columnist Aziz Al-Hajj recently critiqued the culture of Islam when he wrote, “The Muslims today contribute nothing to civilization and progress except for blood, severed heads, scorched bodies, and the abduction and murder of children.”

Although a few Muslims are beginning to speak out against Islamic terrorism, the problem lies in the fact that this is the exception rather than the rule. Almost every time a Muslim leader speaks out against terrorism, a justification is offered concerning either “the United States’ support for the Zionist regime” or “its reckless foreign policy.” For Muslim leaders, nothing short of an absolute condemnation of all Islamic terrorism should be acceptable – and the United States should hold them accountable for their words (or lack thereof).

In a classic case of willful ignorance, Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to avoid the obvious and refused to admit Islam has any connection with terrorism. “I do not want to see the word ‘Islam’ or ‘Islamist’ in front of terrorism … terrorism has no race, religion or nationality.”

In theory, that politically correct statement almost sounds convincing. Yet, day after day, instances of Islamic terrorism fill our newspapers and airwaves. Beheadings, kidnappings and explosions all are commonplace in the Islamic world. Jews do not blow themselves up in Palestinian schools and daycares; Christians do not fly planes into Saudi office buildings; and Hindus don’t throw bombs at Pakistanis on the streets of Islamabad. It’s no coincidence the only countries with Jewish and Hindu majorities are democratic and that most Christian-majority countries are democracies as well. In contrast, of all Muslim countries Turkey is the lone democracy.

Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush declared Islam “a religion of peace.” In order for Islam to reclaim any legitimacy, all Muslims need to unequivocally condemn terrorism through their words and deeds. Only after the majority of Muslims show a strong commitment to defeating terrorism will Islam ever be seen as peaceful by the Western world.

Any Muslim who’s serious about eradicating the tarnished image of Islam must first and foremost admit that a problem within the religion currently exists. Avoiding this important issue by dismissing it as discrimination or bigotry only will lead to a more dangerous world for all of us.

Elie Dvorin is a junior in LAS. His column runs Thursdays. He can be reached at [email protected].