Islamism: Earth's terrible cancer

Global terrorism is spreading everywhere; it is not only concentrated in the war zone areas of the Middle East such as in Syria and Iraq. Turkey, France, and recently Belgium are suffering from the new wave of terrorism and suicide bombings. On March 22, the Belgium capital fell victim to two major terrorist attacks--at the airport and at the metro station killing at least 31 people and injuring 270 more. The following week, there was a tragic suicide bombing at a soccer stadium in Babil, Iraq, and on Easter Sunday a bloody blast killed over 70 people celebrating the Christian holiday in Lahore, Pakistan. These frequent suicide attacks are numbing our minds day after day.

Apologies, useless condemnations by world leaders, "not in our name" campaigns, illuminating world towers, and changing Facebook flags are not the solutions for this terrorism epidemic. All lives matter in this world. No human being deserves to lose his or her life in a terrorist attack, whether in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, France, Turkey, Belgium, or any Western country. We are all connected, and what happens in the war zone areas in the Middle East deeply affects us all.

The Syrian refugee crisis has created chaos in Europe. Members of ISIS have infiltrated its borders, posing as Syrian refugees fleeing from war and terrorism in their home countries. Despite the serious threat facing the world, no one is handling the issue very well--neither the Muslim community, world leaders, regressive liberal apologists, or the far rightists.

Those actors are commonly strengthening the Islamist terrorist political agenda regardless of their different approaches. The Muslim community is very reluctant to admit that there are some aspects of their religion that preach for violence and political domination. Islamists get inspired by those texts in Islam and use it to achieve their agenda. The world leaders engaged in the geopolitical games in the Middle East ally themselves for their interests, even if that means supporting countries that fund terrorism.

For instance, regressive liberal apologists block any fruitful discussion about Islamist terrorism. They deny the fact that Islam has some dangerous political teachings that preach for violence. On the other hand, the far rightists are taking things to the extreme by generalizing all Muslims. They paint Islamists and Muslims with the same brush. Those actors are maintaining this vicious cycle of terrorist activism around the world without attempting to end it.

There are two very important solutions to combat the ingredients of terrorism. The first solution is to fight the Islamist ideology. The second is to empower secular activists and secular organizations and invite them to work in the Western world to fight the radicalization of Muslim youth.

First, let's identify the cause of terrorism's cancer. Islam and Islamism are not one in the same. Islam is a monotheistic religion with basic teachings about good and evil, about good values, and about the main duties for being a good Muslim. Muslim adherents are regular people practicing their religion, who have regular lives between their jobs, families, and loved ones. On the other hand, there is the Islamism ideology, which aims to establish a political theocratic version of Islam. Islamist terrorists get inspired by some of the Koran and Hadiths that are controversial texts preaching for violence and for imposing Sharia law. Wahhabi Sheikhs and imams promote those controversial aspects in Western mosques and in social media outlets.

For instance, marginalized Muslims in the West are the first targets of terrorism brainwashing. To solve this issue, there should be honest discussions with important figures within Muslim communities about political Islam contents in the Koran and Hadiths. The sheikhs in the mosques should work alongside government officials and enforce the anti-terrorism campaign. There should be high surveillance on the social media outlets and cyberspace used by terrorist groups to monitor and prevent their agendas.

To fight this harmful ideology and its network connections and terrorist groups, intellectual speakers, secular activists, Muslims reformists, and secular organizations should be empowered and endorsed. There are so many prominent figures speaking perfectly about the issue and providing practical solutions to end the cancer of Islamism. Their perspectives and agendas are based upon their social knowledge of their societies. Some of them are Muslim reformists, identifying as Muslim while fighting the Islamist agenda funded by Saudi Arabia.

Maajid Nawaz is a British Pakistani activist, author, columnist, and politician. He is the co-founder of Quilliam, an organization focused on counter-extremism inside Britain and around the world. He has given so many brilliant speeches explaining the differentiation between Islam and Islamism, emphasizing that terrorism has something to do with Islam due to some of the political context mentioned in the Koran and Hadiths. Asra Nomani is a journalist, an activist, and a member of the Muslim Reform Movement. She is an important voice rejecting any interpretation of Islam that calls for violence, social injustice, and political Islam.

Their voices should be empowered as they attack the core of the problem without polarizing the issue. In addition, secular humanist movements and organizations with strong messages should be funded and supported such as the Global Secular Humanist Movement, Secular Student Alliance, and all secular humanist movements supporting and empowering free thinkers and humanists from the Middle East. These movements can eradicate this poisoned Islamism ideology.

Terrorist attacks are still ongoing throughout the world. The world leaders speak and condemn those horrendous acts. However, are our ignorance and our political greed part of the problem? Why are many Western countries providing weapon supplies to one of the most harmful Wahhabi countries in Saudi Arabia? Are we monitoring enough Arabic and Islamic school curriculums that might contain Wahhabi violent ideologies? Are all the sheikhs in Western mosques good preachers? Why are violent sectarian sheikhs like Ouraifi and Kurdawi given the voice to promote their hateful sectarian ideologies? Answering these questions is the first step toward a solution.

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