Sunday, May 18, 2003

Drying Up The Wells of Terrorism

DR. Khaled M. Batarfi,

If a swamp contains the mosquitoes known to be spreading malaria and it has begun to spread it all over world, it is the right of each person harmed by the insect to demand that its life source be dried up. Terrorists are like mosquitoes and the sources of their nourishment are numerous and need to be dried up.
The most important source is ideological. It is no secret that there has for a long time been an active current determined to disregard, discredit and demonize others. These people believe in one truth, and they regard themselves as its founders, keepers and executioners. The weakness of their “truth’s” logic and its even weaker legislative base, especially in a tolerant, multi-doctrinal, living and abundant religion, meant that they had to resort to callousness in its application, in order to impose a single vision and thought.
This ideology managed in the last few decades to impose itself and to infiltrate all areas that affect public consciousness from media to education, from mosque to university, from books to tapes. Since we are by nature a Muslim and conservative nation, and because many in our society have become used to receiving without question, believing without investigation, and to learning from that single source without research or investigation, it was easy for this force to convey what it wanted and direct us in the manner that it wished.
As a result, people’s stand was antagonistic from the start toward everything that differed from them in such details as modes of worship, greetings, the length of thobe and dealings with “infidels.” Consequently, people dealt on the basis of suspicion, hate, enmity, spite and rancor toward anyone different from himself, even if that other person also believed in the oneness of God and that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is his Messenger.
Drying up these ideological wells must start from the principle that Crown Prince Abdullah adopted in his statement last Tuesday, that anyone who incites someone to commit a crime is partner in it. I hope that this includes a rectification of incorrect directions and the expulsion of such people from centers of influence, whatever they may be, starting with universities and all the way through to mosques. Their ideological vessels must be confiscated and their methods of guidance must be monitored and curbed — whether from the pulpit, through the media or through cassettes. In return, we must open the door to transparent dialogue which we must all be witness to and in which we must all participate so that the average person can respond, correct and clarify in a manner that eliminates confusion, exposes immoderation and reveals any hidden agendas.
At the same time, we must also dry up other wells of terrorism, by rectifying the financial, political and security issues that led to the emergence and the dangerous spread of such movements. The young man who cannot find a college or work to occupy him, a father who watches out for him, or a law that forbids him from doing what he wants, will either stand still or he will deviate to right or left.
Deviation leads the wealthy to false friendships, the loss of religion and morals, while for the poor it leads to crime. Deviation to the right for all social classes leads to a search for an explanation as to why they failed to secure a better future, and the desire to punish the whole society for it and to work secretively for change either through persuasion or by force.
Rectifying these circumstances is a huge national project, which the government has begun through plans to combat poverty, find employment for everyone, expand universities, provide services, improve the performance of public utilities and establish the basis for a civil society and combat corruption and disseminate social justice. Through continued achievements of that sort and by speeding up the development of school curricula, training facilities and educational institutions in a manner that conforms with the needs and demands of the labor market, we will be able to dry up the basic sources that have been exploited by those instigators to entice their victims, kindle their hate and justify their crimes.
The project is huge and diverse. However, the leadership’s determination is even bigger, and the national consensus has rallied around it. The immediate popular reaction against those who committed the latest terrorist action and against their extremist ideology is important in revealing the true face of this destructive tide and in exposing its targets and revealing its true motives.
It is also an important indicator that the leadership and the Ummah are in agreement about the necessity resolutely and doggedly to confront this phenomenon and those behind it, and to work toward liquidating its resources and drying up the wells of terrorism.
Arab News Features 18 May 2003

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