By Mshari Al-Zaydi
Could religious terrorism be eradicated?
Not for the foreseeable future, no. The problem with religious terrorism is that it basically relies on a narrow discourse that negates all other viewpoints. It is a confident dialogue that is also repressive, angry and crazy. Its proponents will not be satisfied until the temple comes down on the heads of all its occupants.
It is a discourse that believes perfection is missing and legitimacy is absent, and that we live temporarily in this immorality. Its followers believe all we should do in life is work on bringing back legitimacy.
It is therefore relatively easy to see an ordinary young man suddenly turn into a suicide bomber without previously being religious or being a member of these groups. This was the case with a young Saudi man who went by the name of “Sambatik” and who once posted photos on a social network showing off his modern hairstyle and making fun of others. All of a sudden, he said goodbye to his family and went to Syria to fight alongside Al-Qaeda’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This, of course, would please Bashar Al-Assad and his brother, Maher.
For decades—even before 9/11—waves of religious terrorism have been hitting us. A new wave starts as soon another ends, which weakens the already weak explanation that these terrorist phenomena are the result of losing political liberties, Western hegemony, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. As we said a decade ago—and as we repeat now—these were factors that helped terrorist recruitment, not factors that created terrorism itself.
The creation of a terrorist cannot be stopped without destroying the social and cultural climate that facilitates its creation, and this climate cannot be destroyed without a hard look at ourselves. There is no denial of identity here, no slighting of our culture, but rather a defense of it and those who drive us all to collective suicide.
Is there anyone in the world who would benefit from the existence of religious terrorism? There is no doubt that the last ones who would benefit are those who care about Arabs and Muslims. Until we reach the moment of confrontation with ourselves, there will be no solution.
All we can do is coexist with the disease of terrorism, just like we coexist with global warming, cancer, floods and forest fires.
We can only reduce the damage and try to protect those who have not been touched by the curse of the terrorist mentality, a poison that starts with the formation of someone who is religiously extreme, even if they were not devout in their behavior. The danger is in the radicalization of the mind, not the behavior itself.
We must live with the disease of terrorism until God decides a way out.