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Islam,Terrorism and Jihad ( 12 Oct 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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We Need Compassion, Not Violence





By Saad Al-Dosari

12 October 2015

Last week, a weird story about a father and his teenage son was published in the local media. I do not know how it reached the media, but according to the father, it started when he was “scolding” his son for something he had done. Suddenly the boy went to his room and came out with a dagger claiming that he was from Daesh.

The father fled the scene and called the police. They caught the boy who said he was only trying to stop his father from beating him. He only meant to scare him and that he did not believe in any terrorist group. The boy said he had heard that Daesh pushed family members to attack each other, and he used it as a way to instill fear in his father so that he would think a million times before attempting to hit him ever again!

The story ended with the authorities releasing the boy after verifying his story although they warned him not to do such a thing again.

The story ends here, but it raises a lot of questions.

First of all, it is apparent that these terrorist groups have been successful in making themselves and their crimes widely known. They have been able to exploit media in its different formats to market their ideology and redefine their horrors. They are pushing their news to the front pages of world’s newspapers. Hate them as much as you want, the next time you open the news channel, the newspaper, the radio, something about them will come up to haunt you.

I cannot help but wonder if our media’s obsession with Daesh has given it some advantages, some free marketing and exposure. And when I say “we” I am referring to our local media, the Arab, Muslim and the international media. The coverage of Daesh news, hierarchy, sources of funds, their obsession with women and blood, all have given us access to their activities and brutal ways. For example, till recently, most of the Arabic media outlets were referring the group as the “Islamic State,” then they realized that by keep repeating this name, they were reinforcing a link between Islam and this terrorist group in the hearts and minds of the public. The terrorist group was trying to connect themselves with Islam by choosing that name anyway. Now, the media refers to this group as Daesh.

The second point we need to discuss in the father-son story is the environment in which those criminals thrive and execute their plans. We have been struggling for years to find how such terrorist groups have been able to lure our sons into joining them? We still do not have a definitive answer to that and we keep struggling with young men who are ready to leave everything behind and join terror groups, some of them even end up blowing themselves up in suicide attacks.

In my opinion, one of the elements that fosters violence is the leniency toward this act.

The tendency toward violence in Arab culture is seen as a sign of manhood and heroism. It is normal for boys to engage in fights. They are told to learn how to defend themselves. Those who win are admired as brave ones.

The story of the boy threatening his father with a dagger is, no doubt, shocking and unacceptable. But, at the same time it is weird that the father was hitting or scolding his 16-year-old son. Either hitting or scolding, when the boy is 16, gives you a hint that the boy is accustomed to violence at home. Of course it is difficult to judge this particular story without going into details, but I am only referring to it as an example.

There are a lot we need to do to fight terror groups. They can be countered not only with weapons and airstrikes but with ideas and education. We need to change our approach when dealing with terror groups or with those promoting their ideology and we need to revive compassion in our dealings. We need to break the shackles that have kept us chained and prevented us from competing in the civilized world.