Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Fatwas and the war of ideas

Over 500 British Muslim scholars have issued a fatwa condemning terrorism and the targetting of civilians.

For the confused among you, this is not a death sentance. A fatwa is simply a religious ruling - in this case, one that declares that violence and the destruction of innocent lives are fundamentally incompatible with Islam, and therefore "vehemently prohibited". I have not been able to find the full text, but the limited excerpts on BBC are pretty good:

Gul Mohammad, secretary general of the BMF, quoted the Koran saying: "Whoever kills a human being ... then it is as though he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a human life it is as though he had saved all mankind."

He went on: "Islam's position is clear and unequivocal: murder of one soul is the murder of the whole of humanity; he who shows no respect for human life is an enemy of humanity.

"We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism in the world.

"We pray for the peace, security and harmony to triumph in multicultural Great Britain."

This is unquestionably a good Thing. The war on terror is not fundamentally a military conflict, but a war of ideas - and in the long term we will win it not by killing and killing and killing until there are no more terrorists (because such tactics create terrorists), but by "draining the swamp", convincing the terrorists' supporters, funders, and potential recruits that blowing people up is neither acceptable nor necessary to get what they want.

Justice and freedom are two key tools to convincing people of the latter. Winning the debate in the Muslim community about the moral acceptability of indiscriminate murder is vital for the former. Unfortunately, the UK seems to be moving to prevent this debate entirely, with the government promising to outlaw "indirect incitement to terrorist activity", and imprison or deport anyone "glorifying" terrorism (for example, by calling suicide bombers "martyrs"), praising terrorist acts, or "attacking the values of the West". Quite apart from being a gross attack on freedom of speech, this is simply bad tactics; extremism feeds on exactly this sort of persecution, and it is difficult to convincingly win a debate when one side is thrown in jail for advocating their position.


Now that fatwa really is a step in the right direction. I've found the response of the Muslim community at large to the London bombings generally much more encouraging than the comparative silence after earlier terrorist attacks. Better late than never. We need more of this sort of thing. It must be Muslims, with our (i.e. non-Muslims) support, who lead the way on this. At least we're seeing some steps in the right direction from the Muslim community this time around.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/20/2005 06:39:00 AM

Actually terrorism has proven itself very effective in getting people what they want throughout history. You only need to look at the most powerful people and nations in the world and their corresponding history to realise this.

No, the way to win the so-called "War on Terror" (don't forget to capitalise it) is to realise that the "War on Terror" is big crock of shite being cooked up by those who crave the power it affords them.

The way to stop people killing "our" babies is to stop killing "theirs". The attacks on the West in recent years are the result of finally pissing off someone who wants to fight back with whatever means they have.

The way to end this fight is to deal with the VALID greviences of those who make these attacks thinkable. Stop sticking our limp dicks in every else's deserts is probably a good first step.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/20/2005 10:02:00 AM

It's not a matter of backing down Brian. It's a matter of stopping our own bigoted and murderous bombing, invasion and occupation of other people's homelands. Wake up for christ's sake!

"We do not indiscriminately blow up civilians."

You are lost in the darkness my friend. Of course "we" bloody blow up civilians indiscriminately. What do you call the hundreds of thousands fire and nuclear bombed in Japan?? What do you call the hundreds of thousands bombed in Vietnam and Columbia? What do you call the hundreds thousands bombed in Iraq? Collateral fucking damage?

So what's the dfifference between "their" "collateral damage" and "our" "collateral damage"? 52 dead, some of whom probably helped reelect a man who is arguably a war criminal, in the process endorsing a policy of illegal "preemptive" attacks on other nations and peoples.

It's people like you who let the Hitler's of this world become powerful Brian. Wake the fuck up before it's too late.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/24/2005 08:40:00 AM