Friday, July 08, 2005

Terrorist attacks in London

Tom Friedman in tomorrow's New York Times is correct when he says: "Yesterday's bombings in downtown London are profoundly disturbing. In part, that is because a bombing in our mother country and closest ally, England, is almost like a bombing in our own country." I have to admit this is also how I feel - although more people were killed in the Madrid bombings on 3/11/04, the bombings in London have upset me more deeply. I've visited London, some of my ancestors come from England (others passed through on their way to the U.S.), and the British were the bulwark against Nazism when no one else was. Somehow, this hits closer to home.

He continues by arguing that this attack in London could lead Western countries to a crackdown not just on Muslim terrorists, but on all Muslims.
And because I think that would be a disaster, it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village.

What do I mean? I mean that the greatest restraint on human behavior is never a policeman or a border guard. The greatest restraint on human behavior is what a culture and a religion deem shameful. It is what the village and its religious and political elders say is wrong or not allowed. Many people said Palestinian suicide bombing was the spontaneous reaction of frustrated Palestinian youth. But when Palestinians decided that it was in their interest to have a cease-fire with Israel, those bombings stopped cold. The village said enough was enough.

The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden.

Some Muslim leaders have taken up this challenge. This past week in Jordan, King Abdullah II hosted an impressive conference in Amman for moderate Muslim thinkers and clerics who want to take back their faith from those who have tried to hijack it. But this has to go further and wider.

The double-decker buses of London and the subways of Paris, as well as the covered markets of Riyadh, Bali and Cairo, will never be secure as long as the Muslim village and elders do not take on, delegitimize, condemn and isolate the extremists in their midst.

There are Muslims who condemn terrorism in their name and who call for free and equal Muslim societies. The Bahraini blogger Mahmood al-Yousif says, "The way to beat them is not to give in to them, and more democracy and democratic institutions, a complete overhaul of the education system in the Arab and Muslim worlds and the full separation of Mosque and State. The time is now. We have to get this done. Otherwise we will be completely left behind and will suffer much more at the hands of these terrorists. My heart and thoughts go to the people of the United Kingdom in this very difficult time."

I second his feelingsl and hope that this will be the last terrorist attack inflicted by al-Qaeda and its cohorts.

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