We Muslims must end our silence on Islamist terror

Nice attack: inaction is inexcusable amid the scourge of violent radicalism, writes Mansoor Ijaz


Radicalism is a disease of the mind. You cannot see it, hear it, feel it or know it exists until it is too late, as revellers in Nice enjoying Bastille Day fireworksfound out on Thursday evening. As terrorists evolve strategies to attack innocent life with evermore creative methods, the global response remains mired in advancing techno-gadgetry that no longer gets the job done. François Molins, France’s counter-terrorism prosecutor, emphasised the point when he made clear that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who used a lorry to kill 84 people in Nice, had not shown up in any of the intelligence services’ databases.
Yet at the heart of our collective failure to halt the march of Islamism against humanity is the unforgivable silence of us peaceful Muslims. While we have long enjoyed “libertéégalitéfraternité”, we have failed to root out radicalism where it grows. We have been unable or unwilling to openly challenge wrong-headed views on Islam for fear the lunatic fringe would brand us non-Muslim traitors. This must now stop.
We must shoulder responsibility for what has happened to our great religion. We must rebuild the shattered trust between peace-loving Muslims boxed in by Islamists calling us Kaffirs, or non-believers, and fellow citizens who see us as pacifist enablers. This will happen more swiftly if western political leaders demonstrate a better grasp of what Islam’s core value system was at its birth and acknowledge how radicalism came to pollute its practice.
The Prophet Mohammed instructed his followers at his farewell sermon in Mecca to remember: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; white has no superiority over black, nor does black have any superiority over white; none have superiority over another except by piety and good action.” The prophet was the primary force behind the Constitution of Medina, written in 622 — a document with remarkable similarity to modern constitutional frameworks guaranteeing the rights of all people, irrespective of religious affiliation.
Political leaders who flay Islam and its lunatic fringe are not wrong in their criticisms of us. But their proposed solutions are short-sighted. Whether American, British or French, they must constructively challenge Muslims of all kinds to stand up and be counted as citizens abiding by their country’s laws, not just by religious belief. Working with local Muslim communities to design ways to protect all our citizens against the terrorist violence bred in the name of Islam is far better than the confrontational approach some leaders have laid out.
Meanwhile, peace-loving Muslims across the west must now take action. We should start by doing three things inconceivable to many of us before the spate of attacks in France and elsewhere — things that will go against the grain of the freedoms we have enjoyed until now, and which will make us targets of the very terrorists who threaten us all with their insane notions of a caliphate.
First, imams should filter access to community mosques that have become hotbeds for extremism in our midst, until each one can fully account for those who attend as peace-loving, prayer-offering almsgiving Muslims, not as planners of terror. We should consider issuing mosque ID cards. Public accountability is now our obligation.
Second, we must develop integrated neighbourhood watch committees whose job it is to know all those who go in and out of our areas. These groups should comprise Muslims, Jews, Christians, agnostics — anyone who wants peaceful coexistence — able to assist local authorities in getting to know the residents of our communities and what they are up to. Local officials should give these citizens’ groups the authority to demand compliance and should also interact frequently with them to insure smooth relations.
Third, our political leaders should more frequently invoke the direct words of the Prophet to define clearly what a Muslim is and is not. While military measures are necessary in the short term, and forceful as they must be to stamp out the fanatics, western leaders bear a great responsibility to protect the good in Islam and the right of those citizens who practise it to peacefully coexist among us. This will help raise up the silent Muslim majority in a manner no other action can, countering the proliferation of radicalism.
Ignorance is no excuse for bigotry. But silence and inaction are inexcusable in the face of the scourge of radicalism. Muslims citizens everywhere must stand together to douse the flames of hatred fanned by those who love chaos and terror, not liberty and freedom.
Source https://news.google.co.in/news/ampviewer?caurl=https%3A%2F%2Famp.ft.com%2Fcontent%2F0dfe3562-4ac5-11e6-8d68-72e9211e86ab#pt0-537962

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