Following last week’s Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks against Europeans in Tunisia and France, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the atrocities were inspired by “a twisted and perverted ideology.” At the same time, he called Islam a religion of “peace.”
That seemingly forgiving attitude toward Islam as a whole, even while lambasting radical Islam, is the sentiment a prominent Middle Eastern journalist questioned in an article this week urging Muslims to embark on a soul-searching about the parts of their religious heritage that are inspiring terrorists.
Special forces of France's Research and Intervention Brigades escort an unidentified woman as they leave the building housing the apartment of a man suspected of carrying out an attack in Saint-Priest near Lyon, June 26, 2015. (Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)
Eyad Abu Shakra, the managing editor of the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, took on the controversial topic in a column on Tuesday in which he criticized those who contend that perpetrators commit atrocities because they feel alienated from Western culture.
“As for the heinous atrocity committed in France, those still trying to defend it, and interpret crimes like it, may claim that it was a natural negative outcome of cultural alienation, a reaction against religious and racial prejudice, and a case of escapism from an ethnically rejectionist society,” Abu Shakra wrote, adding:
There is little doubt that each of the three crimes [in France, Tunisia, Kuwait] committed in the same day across three continents has its own specific traits; however, the common denominator is much more significant and dangerous.
Furthermore, it is the main issue while the rest are details. It is up to Muslims – particularly, Arabs – either to ignore the bitter truth and so leave the disease to get worse until it turns fatal, or to admit its existence as a first step to radically treating it.
The three crimes are nothing but parts of a whole. They are examples of criminal actions committed in the name of the “true Islam” for years all over the world, without being firmly encountered, although they are pushing all Muslims in a real war against the whole world.
Abu Shakra suggested it was unrealistic to expect the West to aid the Muslim world when Muslims are killing Muslims.
“What right do we have to call upon the countries of the world to help us and alleviate our suffering when we harm not only our own interests, but also our own people, killing each other and declaring segments of our people apostates or traitors?” he asked rhetorically, adding that “the time for excuses and apologies has long gone.”
To drive home his argument, Abu Shakra cited an article written by a colleague in January after the terrorist attacks in Paris when Muslims asserted that the attackers were “not representative of the true Islam.”
Journalist Nadim Koteich – described by the Middle East Media Research Institute as a “Shi'ite known for his opposition to Hezbollah” - asked then, “What is this ‘true Islam’ those condemning crimes committed in the name of Islam are talking about?”
The Lebanese writer argued that terrorists use Islamic texts to justify their killings.
“The original texts that form an inseparable part of true Islam and inspire the ongoing crimes committed in its name are also guilty,” he wrote on Lebanon's NOW website.
He also suggested that state constitutions based on Shariah law and religious schools, which he called “factories for crime,” are part of the problem.
“These killers are us. They are our religion at its most extreme. They are our true Islam taken to its furthest extent and they are not beyond the scripture. If the West says in one united voice ‘we are Charlie’ we should say ‘we are ISIS,’” Koteich wrote.