Spread of Islamic Fundamentalism alarming

 

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Category: International 12 Oct 14

 

Isis, or the Islamic State, is the latest scourge facing the world today. Its mission as a self-proclaimed caliphate is to bring most Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its political control, beginning with the Levant, which covers Syria, Jordan, Isreal/Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and southern Turkey. The organisation claims religious authority over all Muslims worldwide. No country is immune. Everyone who is not a follower of Isis is its enemy.

Muslims in Trinidad have said to me that they view the selfdeclared Islamic State (previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) as un-Islamic. They say Islamic State is an organisation with political intent under the guise of religious principles.

I did an interview with Lawrence Joffe, author of Keesing’s Guide to the Mid-East Peace Process. Over four hours, when I was able to only get to the tip of this complicated region, I learned this: That Isis, which grew out of the Al-Qaeda movement, is incredibly clever. It has expertly manipulated the media to create a global climate of fear against the mindless that surpasses the aftermath of 9/11.

How? Lawrence asked me to consider this commentary, which was accompanied with a photograph of Alan Henning holding a Syrian baby in his hands. His was the third beheading of a westerner in as many months. “Isis militants have released a video showing the murder of Alan Henning, who went to Syria to help people displaced by the terror of Assad. The video is short and brutal, with his severed head placed on top of his body.

The fact that Henning went to help the people of Syria is irrelevant to them—Isis hates anyone who doesn’t follow their ideology.”

I got a crucial history lesson. In the early seventh century AD in present-day Saudi Arabia, the Prophet Mohammed founded Islam, which his followers considered a community as well as a religion. As they spread across the Arabian Peninsula, they became an empire which expanded just as the neighbouring Persian and Byzantine empires were ready to collapse. In an astonishingly short time—from Mohammed’s death in 632 to 652 AD—they managed to conquer the entire Middle East, North Africa, Persia, and parts of southern Europe. They spread Islam, the Arabic language, and the idea of a shared Middle Eastern identity—all of which still define the region today. Isis wants a return to this time.

I asked Joffe what Isis wants. The brief answer is that Isis is claiming that ever since 1924, when the western world drew artificial borders, for the first time in Muslim history in 1,500 years there was no caliphate.

They said the Muslim world had been orphaned and everything went wrong because of that, including the creation of the state of Israel. They claimed that Islam took a wrong turn after the death of the Prophet Mohammed and they want to take it back to the “pure” version of Islam. This means innovation is un-Islamic.

As are philosophy, jurisprudence, development, architecture, education, women’s rights. They hate the Shia Muslims. They hate Sufis. They denounce all non-Muslims. They denounce democracy as un-Islamic, denounce anything that doesn’t have to do with Islam. They reject democracy. They want to knock off all borders till the world is one massive Islamic State. They claim they are going back to the fundamentals, the word of Allah, which makes them fundamentalists.

How has Isis succeeded in petrifying the world? This is what Joffe told me: “As long as you terrify people you win a war against terrorism. After the bombings in London, I was scared to travel in the Underground.”

People felt anybody with a Muslim name and a backpack would blow up a Tube station. They play the game of fear well, as Lawrence reminded me.

“Al-Qaeda killed three-and-a half thousand people in 9/11. These people have terrified the world by cutting the heads off two journalists and an aid worker.

“That’s the paradox. On the one hand, they have an atavistic, backward philosophy. They say they emulate the Prophet.

“In actual practice, they use social media, publicity, TV, propaganda techniques of the west, and the military weapons and techniques created by the west.

“The guy doing the beheading has a South London accent. They call him Jihadi John, and I doubt he knows the first thing about Islam. Isis started in Iraq, moved to Syria, and every day gets new recruits from the west through Facebook, mosques, gyms, boxing clubs. They currently have an army that’s 30,000 strong.”

We in T&T should find the spread of Islamic fundamentalism especially alarming because its recruits from France, from the UK, from the US, are similar to the ones used in the 1990 coup attempt. The west is alarmed because its recruits are young impressionable boys and girls in the west looking for a reason to live, and die. Already we hear the whispers of fundamental Islamists in some corners of our country.

We need to be vigilant. We need to give our sons and daughters a proper education, the hope of democracy, a reason to live in peace. We need to see that fundamentalists have nothing to do with Islam. It has to do with power, money, ignorance, and inhumanity of a handful of lost souls who are anything but Islamic.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur