x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 November 2017

To tackle extremism, we must work together to defeat evil

The West needs to stop associating terrorist groups with religion, writes Mohammed Fairouz

Forensic investigators work on London Bridge after an attack left 7 people dead and dozens injured in London, yesterday. Dylan Martinez / Reuters
Forensic investigators work on London Bridge after an attack left 7 people dead and dozens injured in London, yesterday. Dylan Martinez / Reuters

I f anyone is devastated by criminal acts against the city of London, it is me. I grew up in that city. My first day of school happened in London.

Having said that, we need to ask some serious and hard questions after the latest attacks in London. Not doing so would be dangerous.

It is both understandable and perturbing that a whole city, a whole nation, is in shock and lockdown over these heinous acts of terrorism, but is there also an overreaction at play?

It’s not about media sensation. The killers yesterday didn’t do something that the majority of murderers usually do – torture or rape their victims before killing. Yet these equally despicable acts only make the local news.

It’s about a narrative that has been created by western nations (we, in the Middle East and at the heart of the Silk Road, would never write that essay that Samuel Huntington wrote). It’s a dangerous narrative.

In the UAE, the “threshold for terrorism” is quite low. That means that such crimes are tackled at source – at the levels of funding and ideology. This explains why terrorists’ ideology fails to reach the stage where it can transform into action.

As Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, once pointed out: “For many countries the definition of terror is that you have to carry a weapon and terrorise people. For us it’s far beyond that. We cannot tolerate even the smallest and tiniest amount of terrorism.”

The West seems to be looking desperately for a narrative. To the national security establishments of Western Europe and the United States, I say this: they must take seriously the task of uncoupling Islam and terrorist in the security narrative. Moreover, we are not witnessing a radicalisation of Islam, but rather an Islamisation of radicalism.

Most people do not understand the difference between “Islamist” and “Islam” and separating these two shouldn’t be a problem. It should be done easily and quickly as we have an existential issue to deal with. Just separate them completely.

It’s crucial to uncouple “Islam” and “Islamic” from ideologies that connote terrorism.

Terrorist groups attract freaks who are in need of validation. That’s why ISIL is a cult. Its members do not follow any religion. By tying terrorists with Islam, many in the West are consistently giving fringe lunatic cults a legitimacy.

It would be sensible and beneficial to delegitimise terrorism from the beginning. The first step should be separating terrorism from religion. Why give them the credibility of association with the second largest thought movement on Earth?

Why award the illiterate enemies of civilisation with legitimacy by associating them with a civilisation that has been integral to shaping the planet for over a millennium and a half?

The West seems to be keen to find insidious intent from a Muslim “other” rather than face their own problems. Incediary “clues” seem to be everywhere.

This needs to be addressed instantly and lucidly. Because if billions of people clash, then there will be no “other” left to be blamed.

If we do not stop blaming and start fighting together the forces of evil and destruction that plague us all, there might come a time soon when humanity will face extinction.

Mohammed Fairouz is an Emi-rati­ composer