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Paris Attacks: Islamic terrorism, Islam and the usual denial

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Photo: www.eonline.com

By Nithin Sridhar

In the last few years, a misleading trend can be observed in the discourse on terrorism that follows any major terrorist attack across the world. Whenever such an attack takes place; be it in India, the UK, or anywhere else, almost immediately claims like ‘terrorism has no religion’ or ‘ISIS has nothing to do with Islam’ are propagated by the media and intellectuals across the world.

The same trend can be observed in the Paris attack that took place on Friday as well. What is shocking is how the discourse on terrorism was diverted being concerned about assessing the causes and effects of the present attack to trending in twitter the hashtag: #MuslimsAreNotTerorist.

Of course, all Muslims are not terrorists, nor is Islam as such is a religion of terrorism and barbarism. But, this does not mean terrorism, as practiced by ISIS or terror groups like LeT or Al-Qaida, has no connection with Islam. The fact is that each of these groups is well versed in Islamic scriptures and history and they, not only take inspiration from Islam but also try to strictly adhere to their understanding of the tenets of Islam.

There can be debates and discussions within the Muslim community regarding the validity of such interpretations of the Islamic scriptures, but it is undeniable that there are as many Islamic scholars who provide support for the violent interpretation of the Islamic scriptures, as there are scholars who are against it.

What is also undeniable is that Islam has been invariably associated with violence in one or the other forms throughout the history. Whether it is the wars fought by Prophet Mohammed himself for establishing Islam in Arabia, or the wars fought by various Caliphs and their armies be it in Persia, or India. Highlighting this, Taslima Nasreen, the famous Bangladeshi author tweeted:

 

 

Therefore, every such argument that tries to dilute and whitewash the relationship that the Islamic terrorism shares with Islam by saying the terrorists are ‘misguided’ people, or that they have ‘misinterpreted’ the scriptures, or that they have been brainwashed in false interpretation of Islam holds no ground.

In fact, these arguments are actually preventing a genuine discourse about the root causes of terrorism from taking place. What the Islamist apologists don’t realize is that the fact that by vehemently trying to portray terrorism as not being rooted in Islam whenever a terrorist attack happens, they are showing how deep down even they realize that there is indeed a connection between terrorism and Islam and hence, the need for them to dilute it or whitewash it every time.

Unless and until the governments, as well as people, do not discuss and debate the root causes, no effective and long-term solution to terrorism can be arrived at. This was highlighted by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, activist and author of books like Heretic as well:

 

Therefore, the very first step towards resolving the issue of terrorism is to recognize that terrorism is indeed rooted in religion. More specifically, the terrorism carried out by Islamic terrorist organizations are indeed rooted in Islam.

Shadi Hamid, who recognizes that such a connection indeed exists between terrorism and Islam, asks: “ISIS’s rise to prominence has something to do with Islam, but what is that something?” In answer to his own question, he writes: “ISIS draws on, and draws strength from, ideas that have broad resonance among Muslim-majority populations. They may not agree with ISIS’s interpretation of the caliphate, but the notion of a caliphate—the historical political entity governed by Islamic law and tradition—is a powerful one, even among more secular-minded Muslims.

Thus, Islamic history and religion do have notions, beliefs, and institutions on which ISIS or terror organizations further build up their ideology. In fact, ISIS is rooted in Jihadi-Salafism movement within Sunni Islam. This Salafism movement was started many centuries ago for purifying Islamic faith by purging the faith of its non-Islamic elements.

The second step should be the recognition of the fact ISIS is not a terrorist organization. It is an Islamic Caliphate that derives its political and religious legitimacy from Islam and which calls for the allegiance of every Muslim irrespective of their geographical location. This understanding that ISIS is a Caliphate is most crucial in dealing with ISIS. The world leaders at present appear to be ignoring or at least downplaying this aspect. As a result, their response to the threat of ISIS has had a limited and short-term impact.

It is high time that, the world boldly recognize this intricate relationship between Islamic terrorism and Islam, so that a credible solution to the threat posed by ISIS and other radical Islamists can be arrived at. India should also properly assess the threats posed by ISIS to India and should take proper countermeasures accordingly.

Also Read:

Jihadi-Salafism: The Islamic ideology of ISIS

Why India should not ignore IS threat

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Syrian Militia: End Is Near for Islamic State in Raqqa

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Syria ISIS
Smoke rises near the stadium where the Islamic State militants are holed up after an airstrike by coalition forces at the frontline, in Raqqa, Syria. voa

Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Syria’s Raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the jihadists Saturday or Sunday, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters Saturday.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said around 100 of the jihadist group’s fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and had been “removed from the city,” but it still expected difficult fighting “in the days ahead.”

It did not say how the fighters had been removed or where the fighters had been taken.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said remaining Islamic State fighters were being transported out of Raqqa by bus under a deal between Islamic State, the U.S.-led coalition and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG. There was no immediate comment on that report from the coalition or the SDF.

Fighting since June

Civilians who escaped from Islamic State
Civilians who escaped from Islamic State militants rest at a mosque in Raqqa, Syria. voa

The SDF, backed by coalition airstrikes and special forces, has been battling since June to oust Islamic State from Raqqa city, formerly its de facto capital in Syria and a base of operations where it planned attacks against the West.

The final defeat of Islamic State at Raqqa will be a major milestone in efforts to roll back the group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, where earlier this year the group was driven from the city of Mosul.

“The battles are continuing in Raqqa city. Daesh (Islamic State) is on the verge of being finished. Today or tomorrow the city may be liberated,” YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters by telephone.

In emailed comments to Reuters, coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon said about 100 Islamic State fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and were “removed from the city,” without giving further details.

“We still expect difficult fighting in the days ahead and will not set a time for when we think (Islamic State) will be completely defeated in Raqqa,” he said, adding that around 85 percent of Raqqa had been liberated as of Oct. 13.

Some civilians escape

Around 1,500 civilians had been able to safely make it to SDF lines within the last week, he added.

Omar Alloush, a member of a civilian council set up to run Raqqa, told Reuters late Friday that efforts were under way to secure the release of civilians and “a possible way to expel terrorist elements from Raqqa province,” without giving further details.

An activist group that reports on Raqqa, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, said on its Facebook page Saturday that dozens of buses had entered Raqqa city overnight, having traveled from the northern Raqqa countryside.

The Observatory said Syrian Islamic State fighters and their families had left the city, and buses had arrived to evacuate remaining foreign fighters and their families. It did not say where they would be taken.

During the more than six-year Syrian war, the arrival of buses in a conflict zone has often signaled an evacuation of combatants and civilians.

The campaign against Islamic State in Syria is now focused on its last major foothold in the country, the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, which neighbors Iraq.
Islamic State is facing separate offensives in Deir el-Zour by the SDF on one hand, and Syrian government forces supported by Iranian-backed militia and Russian airstrikes on the other. (VOA)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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Why are Ordinary Citizens becoming ‘Extremists’?

Factors of people dwelling into extremism

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Extremists
Extremists (Representational Image)

Oct 1, 2017: The 21st century is witnessing more and more of extremism, in the form of both verbal and physical assault. The phenomenon of showcasing extreme support is visible in many countries. Groups like ISIL target extremists and through them conduct violent activities in the name of defending ‘Islam’ and Muslim communities.

Who are Extremists?

A person who has extreme political or religious views and lacks the quality of being ‘objective’. The actions of extremists may often be aggressive and violent. Various organisations including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have gauged the factors of people resorting to such measures.

One may wonder as to why do extremists resort to aggression and violence in the name of religion or ideology? What could lead to someone dwelling into such actions? Apart from education and poverty, there are factors which result in such behavior. Various studies and researches indicate factors- loneliness, depression, and need for societal acceptance as some of the reasons.

The FBI in one of its reports has stated some vulnerabilities which lead to terrorists or extremist groups.

Also Read: Muslim Population May Take Over European Dominance In the Coming Decades

The following factors make people more prone to believing in such ideology:

1. Feeling of loneliness.
2. Emotional distress.
3. Hatred towards a sect of society.
4. Disagreeing with governmental policies.
5. The need of being accepted in the society.

Terrorist organisations are in search for these people only. While the reasons for becoming an extremist is mostly a mystery, but terrorist organisations recruit the ones who have these vulnerabilities, as these factors are directly related to a person’s psychology and conscience, and the game can certainly be won by playing with the person’s psychology. These people are dehumanizing those who do not fit into their view, and as mentioned before this extremism is leading to terrorism. Extremism in India, which has lead to terrorism is prevalent in conflicted areas like Jammu and Kashmir, where Islamic militants are conditioning and instigating the citizens of the state to raise their voice against their nation.

The rising extremists is a grave concern that commands immediate actions to be taken. The present actions determine that the future may be very bleak. We need a future which has humanity and objectivity. Extremism needs to be beaten through the power of knowledge, education and right information.