Islam has as little to do with terrorism as the Ku Klux Klan has to do with Christianity.
But this simple truism has not prevented Michael Myers’ self-proclaimed “confusion” (“Is Islam peaceful?” Mailbox, December 22), which led him to impute evil machinations to the religion of Islam: all because of Michael’s acceptance of a literal definition of Jihad, based on two sentences from the Qur’an.
By contrast, professor Bernard Lewis, an arch-conservative advisor to all manner of American warmongers, provides a far more reasonable summation of the religious-terrorist nexus in his influential book, Islam: The Religion and the People.
The learned professor is explicit that the terrorist practice of suicide bombing “has no antecedents in Islamic history, and no justification in terms of Islamic theology, law, or tradition.” Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he further makes plain that “the laws of Jihad categorically preclude wanton and indiscriminate slaughter.”
Muslims like Christians are united in their condemnation of terrorism: and, as most would surely agree, it is political not religious ideas that lead to terrorism.
Religious fanatics who partake in terrorism in the name of their religion nearly always exhibit a very poor understanding of their religious scriptures, be they the Bible or the Qur’an.
Powerful elite interests, however, are not so naïve, and in the case of Islam, have benefited immensely from encouraging the spread of literal and extremist misinterpretations of this religion to serve their own political interests in the Middle East.
During the 1980s for instance, the CIA was able to construct a 50,000-strong mercenary army (Mujahideen), using Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as proxies, to fight the Russians. Billions of US dollars flowed into the region, matched only by donations from rich Saudi tycoons and our then ally in the conflict, Osama bin Laden.
Here, a central political player in enabling the well-funded growth of a radical Islamic ideology in Afghanistan was Pakistan’s military regime – led by the infamous and reactionary General Zia-ul-Haq.
Tragically in 1977 this brutal General had, with the blessings of US imperialism and support of other Western-funded religious parties like Jamati Islami, acted to overthrow the elected government of the Pakistan People’s Party and immediately impose martial law.
Religious extremism serves the political interests of a powerful few against the urgent social and economic needs of the many.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on December 22. Edited version which changed the meaning of the concluding part was published on January 2 as “Politics, not faith, is spur to terrorism” (bold sections removed).
“The creeping privatization of the jihad, for this is in fact what is was — not rogue governments, but rogue private financiers are responsible for much of the postwar political terrorism in the West — grew out of the Saudi-American alliance.” (Unholy Wars, p.111)