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We oppose all kinds of terrorism
Points to Ponder

A seminar was organised by the Indian Cultural Heritage Society at the India International Centre in New Delhi on 13 October. its theme was ‘Indian Muslims against terrorism’. Prominent speakers said that it is grossly unfair to demand Indian Muslims to prove their loyalty every time there is a problem. Former National Minorities Commission chairman Prof Tahir Mahmood said emphatically that ‘I refuse to give anybody this right to question my loyalty as an Indian Muslim.’ Outlook editor Vinod Mehta said ‘why do we expect Indian Muslims to stand up always and be counted.’ Former IG Police KPS Gill said that fear is the greatest danger that may befall a society or individual. He also observed that the country would have benefitted a lot had Urdu not been shabbily treated after Partition. Actress and social activist Shabana Azmi thundered that she refuses to give proof of her loyalty everytime there is a crisis. She said that every problem starts with a just demand and later only it takes an unacceptable face and therefore problems should be tackled at the very start. Former chief justice of India Justice Ahmadi said that there will be no justice in the world if basic problems are not addressed. ‘11 September was terrorism and what is happening in Afghanistan now is terrorism too,’ Justice Ahmadi said. MG editor Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan also spoke at the gathering. Following is his address:

'Terrorism' is a constant issue of discussion these days, especially since the tragic events of Black Tuesday. Various parts of the world have been witnessing this phenomenon for a number of decades now. But of late the focus is on the so-called 'Islamic terrorism' and somehow some quarters have assumed here and abroad that Islam as such has something to do with terrorism, that Muslims cannot live in peace with other communities and nations. We have not heard of 'Christian' terrorism, or 'Hindu' terrorism, or 'Jewish terrorism' or 'Buddhist' terrorism.

In this brief presentation I will try to discuss two main issues: Islam's basic approach to terrorism and an attempt to look at the phenomenon in its totality in order to avoid repetition of tragic events like Black Tuesday.

To start with, Islam as a religion is totally against terrorism meaning senseless murder of innocent people. But the very terminology to date has not been properly defined. I may cite here the following definition of terrorism coined by UN expert AP Shmid that terrorism is "peacetime equivalents of war crimes". He has further explained it as follows:

"Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby - in contrast to assassination - the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperiled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought".

Now within this definition Islam never allows an individual or group or state to take another person's life or destroy his/her property without ample justification and that too only to the extent of the damage suffered by the victim (sura al-Nahl, verse 126)

Muslims are allowed to fight back only if they are wronged (al_hajj:40). Indeed murder is so much detested in the eyes of Allah that the murder of one innocent person has been held as equal to the murder of the whole humanity (Al-Maida: 32).

Mercy is the foremost quality praised by Islam and it is the first quality of Allah. A Muslim repeats everyday dozens of times: Bismillahir Rahman al-Raheem - 'in the name of Allah, most merciful, most compassionate.' Allah says in the Qur'an that 'He has inscribed for Himself the rule of mercy' (Al-An'am:12). The Prophet has been described by Allah as 'Mercy unto the worlds' (Al-Anbiaya:107). So this religion cannot sanction the murder of innocent people under any pretext.

Islamic societies all these fourteen centuries did not experience the phenomenon of terrorism. The only example to my knowledge of terrorism may be that of the Hashasheen, a word which has entered English language as 'assassins.' This was a fringe group of Muslims during the Crusades who used to take hasheesh before attacking the Crusaders who were an occupation force, the harbingers of colonialism which came about two centuries later.

Modern Middle East did not know the phenomenon of terrorism until it was introduced there by the British during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman State, followed by the zionists who were carving out a homeland for themselves with active British support. It started with groups like Haganah, Palmach, Stern and Lehi terrorist groups and led to such inhuman acts as blowing up King David Hotel in Jerusalem which housed the British administration in Palestine, drowning a ship carrying Jewish immigrants, murder of UN mediator Count Bernadotte, murder of the British resident minister in the Middle East, Lord Moyne, attack on the American Centre in Alexandria, downing a Syrian civilian airliner, bombing Jewish synagogues in Baghdad to induce the prosperous Iraqi Jewry to migrate to Israel, attacking USS Liberty in 1967, downing a Libyan civil airliner in 1973, and so on… Palestinian terrorism came much later, from mid-sixties, when the refugees lost all hope to go back to their stolen lands and homes.

The so-called Islamic terrorism emerged a few years later. Though it has its seeds in the crushing defeat of Arabs by Israel in 1948 and 1967 with active US and western support, it surfaced only after the US having used the mujahideen suddenly abandoned them after the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan. This was further strengthened after the US decided to stay put in the Arabian peninsula after the Second Gulf War of 1991 and the crushing sanctions against Iraq ever since at the insistence of Israel and the zionist lobby in the US. All this was reinforced by anger and hate accumulating since the Crusades, the colonial onslaught, destruction of the Ottoman Empire, non-fulfillment of the promises made to the Arabs during the First World War and subjugation of Arab lands in its wake, creation of Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, unreserved material and political support to Israel ever since and ignoring Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians and all its neighbours. All this has given rise to what is staring us now as Islamic terrorism.

It is the accumulation of an unending chain of injustices that has angered many people around the world against the sole superpower. This includes such historic injustices as sustaining, aiding and abetting Israeli terrorism and propping up dictatorial regimes around the world. Over the past half a century the US has stepped on many wrong toes in Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan to name a few. In 1989 it invaded a sovereign country, Panama, kidnapped its president (Manuel Noriega) and still keeps him in a Miami jail. It helped Iraq destroy Iran. It brought down an Iranian civil airliner in the Gulf in 1988. It has blindly supported Israel kill, maim and devastate Palestinians after making most of them refugees and occupying their land since 1948. It protected Israel during its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 which led to the murder of tens of thousands of innocent people including such infamous massacres in the annals of history as Sabra and Shatila under the supervision of the war criminal who now rules Israel. Bush Senior helped Israel out of the US treasury with $10 billion to build and expand illegal settlements which are the biggest hurdle to any compromise even by the most lenient Palestinian negotiators. US veto has always saved Israel from world censure in the UN. Most recently the US was the sole country in the world to stand by and walk out with its protege, from the Durban Racism Conference.

This deep anger is enough to find new recruits all the time, here and there, and no amount of crushing Ben Laden, Al-Qa'ida or Taliban can solve this problem. A serious and honest attempt is to be made by the US in the first place to understand these problems and solve them in order to restore peace and justice all over the world. If this happens, humanity will not have to witness another horror like Black Tuesday or Sabra and Shatila or Mai Lai… If this lesson is not learnt and interned, the US approach, as a British MP has said, will create a thousand Bin Ladens.

It is very important that the US and its hasty allies think over these facts to discover why Uncle Sam is detested and perceived as ‘ugly’ around the world. No peace is possible in the world and there is no certain way to stop the recurrence of the Black Tuesday again and again unless the basic flaws in the US foreign policy are addressed and more equitable and just world system is ushered, in which all have a stake.

Points to ponder
> No Indian Muslim support to violence in J&K.
> Draconian action taken against SIMI which is not involved in terrorism while no action taken against Bajrang Dal and similar outfits which engage in violent activities and arms training.
> Most terrorism cases in south America.
> IRA does not figure on the US list of terrorist organisations.
> No action to date against the perpetrators of Nellie or Hashimpura massacres.
> Resistance to foreign occupation is not terrorism. Rather resistance is a basic right enshrined in international law.
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