Since the terror attacks of 9/11 I’ve never heard or seen so many experts on Islam and Islamism in print and on electronic media as I do today, with few in-depth details about either issue or offering tangible solutions.
When I spoke out against Islamism ten years ago, I was labeled a heretic, when I wrote my book I was labeled a fear-monger, but today I’m saying it again. This is not the first or last instance of Islamist terrorism in the West and it will not stop.
Following this latest attack in Paris, we at the Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow have sympathized, put out press releases and prayed. We’ve tried to exemplify and illustrate the importance of free speech. Are the words being heeded – is the media listening?
After 9/11 there was ample opportunity to find the root cause of Islamist terrorism and address it but what happened? Nobody seems to be interested in the solutions. Politicians are concerned that their vote bank should not be shaken so they stick to political correctness and can’t seem to articulate the words “Islamist” and “terrorism” in the same sentence; media is all about sensationalizing news in sound bites that sometimes do more harm than good; civil society doesn’t want to touch the issue because they feel it’s not their concern – they’re leading a happy contented life they’ll continue to look the other way. But tomorrow an incident could take place right here where I live which can affect my children, my grandchildren, my neighbours and coworkers. It’s only a matter of time.
So let’s dig in our heels – get to the root cause and let’s do something about it.
But first we need to put aside political correctness and fear of being called an “Islamophobe” (Oh yes that victim card is being played very well). Let’s get some clarity.
We clearly differentiate between Islam as a faith and Islamism as a political ideology. On our website for Muslims Facing Tomorrow we quote the words of Professor Salim Mansur that “Islamists do not want to be part of our civilized world. They are at war with it. They want to replace it with their Sharia-based vision for society. This is what people, and especially the politicians, in the West have to understand instead of being deluded that Islamists can be accommodated. Such an understanding of what the Islamists want is the least we in the West owe in mourning the dead at “Charlie Hebdo” and to the countless numbers of victims of the Islamist war against the civilized world – victims in Peshawar and Mumbai, Bali and Karachi, Jerusalem, Madrid, London, New York, and towns and villages dotted across the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia, and Africa.”
What is the Muslim world doing? We kept silent when we heard hate being taught and promoted through our curriculums and through our organizations. We let the Mullah make decisions for us and like sheep we followed, right or wrong. We did not take the time to promote the spiritual message of our faith and it was subsumed by a violent political message full of anger and aggression against the other.
When Pakistani preachers and TV anchors were wilfully promoting violence against minorities, we sat silent because it did not affect us as the majority; when women were being brutally killed in the name of honor, we argued about the semantics of the word ‘honor’ and we kept silent because it was not happening to our sisters or daughters; we blamed ignorance and illiteracy for the extremism, not willing to acknowledge that it’s happening among educated masses; we blamed everyone but ourselves.
We are unable to acknowledge that the majority of Muslims today all the way from Afghanistan to Zambia are influenced (if not actively violent) by the ideology of The Muslim Brotherhood, Khomeni-ism or Salafi/Wahhabi Islam, all of which have been embedded into Western society thanks to funding by petro-dollars.
There are cries of denial saying that political Islam (Islamism) is a small movement but they've been proven wrong. It’s a massive movement supported by colossal funding to establish a global ummah and to return to the days of the caliphate. If this means getting rid of anyone who comes in the way, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, so be it – they will be brutally eliminated, and we see this happening.
What is the media up to? Media channels in North America are using the odious Anjem Choudary as the credible voice for all Muslims. In an interview when I tried to intervene and point out that he is the devils spawn, I was cut off and I heard other guests saying “he speaks for real Islam.” Evil makes for good news. The voices of balance who are struggling to keep their heads afloat are not given equal time to explain the solutions.
Some government leaders (not the Canadian Prime Minister and the President of France) are of the opinion that they can sit down and have a warm, fuzzy conversation with the extremists. Maybe they will exchange hugs. Sorry to burst the bubble but the terrorists will soon be pointing a gun at your face. Other leaders are (perhaps wilfully) blind to the fact that Saudis are flooding into North America. On a tour of U.S. universities last fall, I discovered that many of them are actively recruiting students from Saudi Arabia because they bring in lots of money. I’m told that the U.S. Consulate also will issue a special visa for the male “guardians” who accompany Saudi women. Just today I met a doctor from a prestigious children’s hospital in Toronto who informed me that Saudi interns are being welcomed because for every Saudi intern, their government pays for one local intern so money flows and lips are sealed.
We have to tackle radical Islamism like the international community tackled communism, fascism and Marxism, by acknowledging the problem and dealing with it together, regardless of faith, political leanings, ethnicity, creed or color. Governments, communities, civil society and media need to come together with less of a knee-jerk reaction and more strategy on how we can stop this monster before it devours all of us.
Raheel Raza is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity. She is one of nine women's rights activists who took part in Clarion Project's film "Honor Diaries" which breaks the silence on honor violence against women.