By Abdul Matin
17 Mar, 2015
Speaking to the representatives from 60 nations attending a three-day event on extremism, US President Barack Obama recently said those heading groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda were not religious leaders but terrorists. He added that the US is "not at war with Islam -- we are at war with the people who have perverted Islam." Unlike President Obama, the western media generally prefer to put the blame on Muslims and Islam whenever a terrorist attack takes place and the attackers claim to be Muslims.
There is a group called 'Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West' (Pegida) in Germany which has been organising marches in Dresden against what they call 'Islamisation of Europe'. They oppose the immigration of Muslims, mostly from Iraq and Syria, and try to incite Europeans against Islam. It appears that Nazism is rising again in Germany in another form and spreading in other cities in Europe. Recently, more than 2,000 people protested in Newcastle, England, against a march held by the British branch of Germany's anti-Islam group Pegida which drew around 400 people. It is reported that anti-Islam sentiment is growing in Britain as intensified violence by militant groups in the Middle East dominates the headlines.
Not many people are aware that the vast majority of the victims of terrorism since 2000 have been Muslims. Only 5.0 per cent, including the victims of the 9/11 attack, are non-Muslims. According to the Global Terrorism Index of 2014, among the top ten vulnerable countries, seven are predominantly Muslim countries and the rest three have significant Muslim populations. Had Islam been linked to terrorism, why should the majority of the victims of terrorism be Muslims? Muslims are not terrorists. They are the victims of terrorism.
It is totally a wrong notion that Islam is in any way linked with terrorism like Catholicism was not linked with terrorism when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) conducted numerous attacks against the predominantly Protestant army of the United Kingdom during 1969-2005. The members of the IRA were never called "Catholic terrorists." Why then should anyone refer to any terrorist as a "Muslim terrorist"? Terrorists have no religion. They exploit religion to implement their political agenda. Islam, being a religion of peace, does not condone violence.
Two recent incidents should expose the fallacy of the western media. On January 07, two terrorists killed 11 people inside the office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which had hurt Muslim feelings by printing a carton of Prophet Muhammad. While escaping from the office, they also killed three French police officers. One of them, named Ahmed Merabet, was a Muslim. Tens of thousands of Frenchmen paraded the streets of Paris with the slogan of #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie) showing solidarity with Charlie. They forgot that Ahmed had also given his life at the hands of the same terrorists. Interestingly, a new slogan, #JeSuisAhmed (I am Ahmed), honouring the assassinated Muslim officer soon became viral in the social media after Abou Jahjah had tweeted, "I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture and I died defending his right to do so…."
After his death, his brother Malek Merabet said, "My brother was Muslim and he was killed by two terrorists, by two false Muslims. Islam is a religion of peace and love….. He was very proud of the name Ahmed Merabet, proud to represent the police and of defending the values of the Republic - liberty, equality, fraternity." Malek Merabet has rightly pointed out that those who killed his brother are not true Muslims. They are preaching the false message of Islam.
French President François Hollande honoured the three police officers. In a moving funeral ceremony at the Paris Prefecture of Police, Hollande decorated the officials, including Ahmed Merabet, posthumously, with the French Legion of Honour and attached the medals to the coffins. Ahmed is now a hero in France.
In another incident, Lassana Bathily, a 24-year Muslim saved the lives of six shoppers on January 09 during an attack at a kosher supermarket in Paris in which four hostages and the gunman were killed. He guided the terrified customers to safety and has since been praised around the world for his quick-thinking and bravery.
He was recently honoured by the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve for his 'courage and heroism' and was granted French citizenship. Cazeneuve said that Bathily's 'act of humanity has become a symbol of an Islam of peace and tolerance.' In response, Bathily said, "'People are all equal to me…"
The two incidents amply demonstrate that Islam is a religion of peace and Muslims are human beings like people of any other faith. It is interesting to note that President Obama did not describe the recent attacks in France and Denmark as the work of "Islamic radicals" in his speech to representatives from 60 nations. President Obama has set a good example which the western media should follow. Terrorists should be identified only as terrorists and not by their religion as no religion, including Islam, supports terrorism.
Abdul Matin is a senior nuclear engineer.