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Zero Tolerance on Terror

Manuela Paraipan, Arad, Romania, December 22, 2005

A woman holds a banner reading "No to Terrorism" as she takes part in a hometown vigil for German hostage Susanne Osthoff, who was kidnapped in Iraq last month. She has since been released. (Photo: Timm Schamberger / AFP-Getty Images)

I have to admit that the recent TV appearance of Abu Qatada was totally unexpected. The Muslim extremist cleric, who is jailed in the United Kingdom, voluntarily offered to make an appeal from his cell to the Iraqi terror group Swords of Truth to ask for the release of Norman Kember and his three companions, who were kidnapped in Baghdad last month.

"I, your brother Abu Qatada … beseech my brothers in the Swords of Truth in Iraq, who are imprisoning the four Christian peace activists, to release them in accordance with the fundamental principle of mercy of our faith. Our prophet said mercy should be shown unless there is a reason in Sharia that prevents it," he said on videotape broadcast by Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

My first thought was that Qatada wanted to be a good Muslim and show respect for Allah's message of peace; after all, Islam means peace or so I hear, since I rarely get the chance to see proof of it. But, if Qatada is playing the good Muslim role, what is left for the Swords of Truth terror group? Aren't they good Muslims since they take hostages and threaten to kill them, all in the name of Allah?

But I am being sarcastic. If Qatada's gesture helps the hostages, then all is good.

But, the essence here is not Qatada's gesture, although I cannot believe he did it only because of his good, tolerant heart — the man is jailed after all because of his intention to blow up the worthless infidels. In an interview with CNN's Christianne Amanpour, Qatada implied that Muslims have the right to use any possible means to fight the "filthy" policies of America and its allies, in the Arab and Muslim countries.

To add some weight to it, 25 prominent Muslim and Arab dignitaries and activists, including representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah appealed for the immediate release of the Christian peace activists taken hostage in Iraq. In their statement, the leaders said they were "saddened" by this kidnapping, and let the Swords group know that the activists they abducted "were intending to return home to inform the public opinion in their own countries about the destruction and havoc brought about by the invasion of Iraq by the United States of America and its allies." If someone is condemned in this statement, it is certainly not the abductors.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (M.C.B.), also pleaded for the immediate release of the Christian peace activists. Not long ago, Daniel Pipes wrote about the rhetoric of M.C.B. leaders and the group's activities.

The M.C.B never condemned the practice of al Qaeda or the practice of any other Islamic terror group, for that matter. But the U.K. government did not complain. And to make sure that M.C.B. stays happy and content, the Queen knighted Sacranie and the government gave the organization £250,000 to fight terrorism. Did anyone bother to keep a close eye on how M.C.B. actually spent this money?

Of all religions (although most have their share of warlike elements), Islam is the only one for which the so-called "holy" war or Jihad against the unbelievers is a duty. Combine this element with the double standard and often-extremist rhetoric of some Muslim clerics and what we have here is a chain of ticking time bombs. In New York, London, Madrid, Bali, Jakarta, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Beslan, Turkey and Jordan the bomb has already exploded. The actions of the terror groups have created panic and fear in East and West, but no one has succeeded in stopping them. And the East has failed to point out that Islam (or, at the very least the terror groups' version of Islam) advocates violence and uses suicide bombings to cause terror worldwide.

As the prominent Saudi journalist, Abdel Rahman al-Rashed honestly and courageously admitted, "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims."

When the East gives up its "covering it all up" behavior, then hopefully both sides can cooperate and eventually stop the terror caused by these groups. That is, if the East does not have a different agenda and Islam is indeed a religion of peace and tolerance, and not a religion of conquest, as it now appears to be.

Those who claim that Islam is not an extremist religion, frequently point out the period in which the Arabs and Moors conquered Spain. They say that Christians and the Jews were respected as human beings and as individuals belonging to a different religion — proof of Islam's tolerance. There is no reason why Europe should not welcome the creation of the Islamic Caliphate in its midst.

However, the records of Muslim jurists such as Ibn Abdun sweep away the Muslim Spain tolerance myth.

"No … Jew or Christian may be allowed to wear the dress of an aristocrat, nor of a jurist, nor of a wealthy individual; on the contrary they must be detested and avoided. It is forbidden to [greet] them with the [expression], "Peace be upon you." In effect, "Satan has gained possession of them, and caused them to forget God's warning. They are the confederates of Satan's party; Satan's confederates will surely be the losers!" (Koran 58:19 [modern Dawood translation]).

"A distinctive sign must be imposed upon them in order that they may be recognized and this will be for them a form of disgrace."("The Islamization of Europe," by Andrew G. Bostom)

There have always been violent struggles inside Islam. Mohammed's emigration or hijra to Medina was only the beginning. He then fought with the tribes of Medina, and after his death, his successors fought one another for recognition — that is for power and wealth. There has never been a peaceful time anywhere in the Dar al Islam. [The term used for the territories conquered by Muslims, where everyone had to obey the Islamic law, Sharia.]

From being a religion, Islam went on to being a weapon of power-hungry clerics who by virtue of the worldly nature of Islam had the advantage of controlling jurisprudence, thus they had the right means to manipulate large masses of people.

Sir Jonathan Sacks, chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth said that, "the suicide bombings in Madrid, in London on July 7, the riots in France, the tensions in Holland after the murder of Theo van Gogh have been very frightening, very scary. There are tensions. And even in a very peaceful country like Britain, they are under the surface … The nature of the issue at one level … is radical Islam."

At a recent meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (O.I.C.) — the world's largest Muslim body — in the holy city of Mecca, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia said,

"It bleeds the heart of a believer to see how this glorious civilization has fallen from the height of glory to the ravine of frailty and how its thoughts were hijacked by devilish and criminal gangs that spread havoc on earth."

The secretary general of O.I.C., Ekmeleddine Ihsanoglu said in his speech that, "terrorism is a crime that every Muslim should fight" since "the future of humanity depends on this part of the world."

Indeed, these leaders should take bold action against terrorism, its advocates and those who preach "death to America, death to Israel."

But how can they when the radical clerics who spread the slogan are the ones who prevent Arabs and Muslims from rebelling against their corrupt and highly ineffective leaders?

Overall, it is to the West's bad luck that Islamic society has changed only at its surface in the last 5 centuries. The world around the Muslims has known a tremendous progress, while the Muslim world has stagnated. Now, we are in the position of not being able to find common ground mainly due to their rejection of everything with a Western or Occidental label, advancement included.

Muslim organizations, charities and councils on one hand condemn terrorism, but then go on pretending there is no connection whatsoever between terrorism and Islam. Or, even worse, they see it as the West finally getting what it deserves, for interfering in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.

After 9/11, The U.S. redefined its priorities and policies regarding the Islamic terror threat. But, the old continent has been caught more than once with its guard down. Europe has to redefine its polices on sociocultural and religious diversity and immigration, otherwise it risks being taken over by the young, angry and resentful generations of Muslims in their midst who do not define themselves primarily as citizens of this or that European country, but as Muslims. The European Union and the United Nations have proven to be completely useless when it comes to combating Islamic terrorism, the only kind of terrorism that still confronts us, since the I.R.A. agreed to lay down their weapons and E.T.A. (Euskandi ta Askatasuna, or Basque Fatherland and Liberty) though still active has been quieter after the Madrid bombings in 2004.

What we need is better intelligence and an increased mercilessness when it comes to those suspected of advocating, supporting and being involved in terrorist acts. Some Western human rights N.G.O.s seem to have more interest in protecting the rights of the terrorists (that would be like protecting the rights of the Nazis!), instead of doing their very best to protect the rights of the terrorists' victims.

When terrorist attacks do occur, everyone shouts: Where were the secret services? Why didn't they know about it? Zero tolerance is what we are looking for here.

That being said I am sure:

Otherwise, we will soon be confronted with more and more public declarations such as that of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who would like to see Israel "wiped off the map."

He must have felt that his declaration was not fully expressing his feelings, so he made another astonishing declaration: "Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces, and they insist on it to the extent that if anyone proves something contrary to that, they condemn that person and throw them in jail."(As quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency.)

"If the Europeans are honest," Ahmadinejad said, "they should give some of their provinces in Europe — like in Germany, Austria or other countries — to the Zionists, and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe, and we will support it."

What Ahmadinejad omitted to say was that many Jews lived in Persia for centuries, and most of them were forced to leave their homes and properties because of the Mullahs' intolerance.

What is interesting here is that no matter what Ahmadinejad says the outcry comes only from Western leaders. Although Muslim and Arab dignitaries often complain about the double standard of the Occident, the truth of the matter is that they are using it as much as the other side. If the reformist movement collapsed in Iran, hopefully the pragmatist movement of the Occident did not. Ahmadinejad's declarations are not news. Hitler made similar declarations not so long ago and we all know how that ended.

This is the right time to react responsibly to the threat that radical Islam poses to the West and East, alike.

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