Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Islamic Fundamentalism: Time to act, before it is too late

Islamic Fundamentalism: Time to act, before it is too late

September 11th. A date everyone remembers. Whether it be due to the terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001, or the CIA-sponsored terrorist attack which murdered Salvador Allende, the democratically elected Marxist President of Chile, on the same date in 1973.

It is here the story begins. To debate the question of terrorism, it is necessary to lay down fundamental principles for discussion and the most basic of these must be that the terminlogy be the same for all cases. To admit that Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorist attacks are wrong, one has also to condemn the state terrorism practised by the United States of America and its allies in the last 60 years, along with the globalization of state terrorism – Imperialism, practised by Western European nations for centuries.

These are the basic causes of fundamentalism. Interference in foreign cultures, intrusion into foreign customs, imposition of foreign values in areas where they were bound to fail, the insistence to draw lines on maps, dividing peoples and creating imbalances which did not respect centuries of local history, culture and sociology.

These sowed the seeds for natural trends to be set in place later on, to correct the imbalances as all nations were granted equal rights under the auspices of the UNO. With the gradual advance of scientific research and the globalization of knowledge, the power of the individual to challenge the State became greater. Whereas one hundred years ago, an African tribe wishing to protect its territory against European imperialists found that its spears and shields were useless against machine-guns, today, the nail bomb, a gas cylinder, a vial of cyanide, material from nuclear reactors, an automobile or a back-pack full of explosives, deployed by a single individual, can have a devastating effect upon public opinion – the main aim of terrorism.

To claim that the terrorists are winning is wrong, whichever “terrorist” is under scrutiny. State terrorism, sponsored by Washington in Iraq, whose cast includes Lynndie England, the Great American Heroine, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo concentration camps, torture, rape, war crimes, mass murder, criminal damage, targeting civilian structures with military equipment, has met its nemesis in Iraq.

Iraq, the country which Saddam Hussein kept clear of terrorists, the country which now crawls with every fundamentalist from Morocco to Indonesia, is out of control and daily, we see more incidents across the globe. To name a recent few, the attempts in London and Glasgow, the Red Mosque siege in Islamabad, the decapitation of 10 marines by Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Militant Front guerrillas in the Philippines.

However, these are isolated incidents and have not yet created a climate of panic among public opinion in the societies which they have targeted, precisely the societies which created the problems in the first place by destabilising peoples and communities. Therefore neither the state terrorism expounded and practised by Washington has been successful, neither have the many attempts by various fundamentalist organizations done more than provoke loss of innocent lives, making those who perpetrate such acts murderers and heretics, because for those who know how to read the Koran, the basic message is to protect and honour life.

Today and tomorrow

This is the situation today. And tomorrow?

While calls for massive uprisings by Al Qaeda fall upon the deaf ears of the vast majority of populations who wish to continue with their lives in peace, the tiny fraction of people willing to blow themselves up and take out as many civilians as possible in the process remains worrying, the more so because there appears to be a ready supply of people fanatical enough to do it.

Despite massive security operations costing millions of dollars, those willing to plan and carry out terrorist attacks are able to mount successful operations worldwide, and nobody should forget the horrific attacks Al Qaeda has managed to launch before and after 9/11. They continue to plan, they continue to operate and however much money and resources is spent on security, the attacks will continue, and for many years to come, because a cause has been created.

When, not if

Therefore it would be well for the international community to realise that its current policy is no more than a delaying tactic until there is a serious incident somewhere occasioning a tremendous loss of life. The security officials themselves, in many countries, agree that despite all their efforts, it is a case of “When and not if”.

History cannot be changed, but apologies can be made and retributions paid, while a process of sincere and mutually respectful dialogue can ease tensions at a time when Humanity should be coming together, embracing other peoples as brothers and not blowing each other up – and here no distinction is made between an Iraqi child having his legs blown off, his face blown away and his family murdered by an American pilot, or a western civilian losing loved ones to some crazed young man screaming Allahu Akhbar before he connects the wires.

Six fundamental steps

  1. All those countries or peoples which engaged in slavery – including the Africans, should sign a Charter of Apology, admitting what was done and admitting it was wrong;
  1. All the nations which engaged in imperialist activity should similarly sign a collective Charter and commit themselves to clearly defined goals for the countries which they “civilised” in the name of the Bible and the bullet. It is wholly unacceptable, for instance, that the Millennium Development Goals might not be reached by 2015;
  1. The United States of America should admit its part in fanning the flames of Islamist fundamentalism in arming, aiding and abetting the Mujaheddin against the progressive Government of Dr. Najibullah in Afghanistan and should recognise that Al Qaeda and the Taleban were a natural development of the monster it had created;
  1. The international community must admit once and for all the inviolabity of all establised frontiers and this goes as much for Kosovo, as Israel. It is wholly unacceptable that Israel violates international law by remaining in control of terrorities it seized in war, unless it wants to justify violent acts against it to claim the lands back. Therefore there must be a phased and timed total withdrawal of all Israeli elements from the occupied territories;
  1. The Islamic communities themselves should be allowed time and space to solve the question of the fundamentalist cause through a process of dialogue with the angry young men who fuel the cause of the opportunists who make a comfortable living out of terror;
  1. Finally, a Global Charter of Fundamental Human Rights should clearly set out the framework for every human being to have a) the right to non-violation of the person; b) the right to adequate nourishment; c) the right to an education which produces results inside the local community, namely a satisfying job and sufficient remuneration to build a life in comfort and d) a healthcare systm which guarantees basic global human rights. With these four fundamental precepts, the questions of child abuse, female genital mutilation, immigration, crime, hunger and disease, among many others, are addressed.

With good will, it can be done. It takes a mere 12 years, for instance, to implement an education system. None of this is possible without debate and discussion, all of this is possible through dialogue and mutual understanding. Continue as we are, and we are sowing the seeds today for a tomorrow in which our children grow up in a climate of hatred. Is this what we have striven for, for two thousand years?