The deadly attacks of some hotels in Mumbai, India, said to be carried out by Muslim terrorists connected to global terrorist network (usually associated with the Al-Qaidah), demand a thorough analysis of the roots and causes in order that governments, the media, and the peoples, can deal with these problems more effectively. I argue that a particular political ideology inspired by textual out-of-context interpretation of Islam is the key element for everyone fighting against terror to focus on, rather than the on the surface issues. This political ideology cannot be simply said as "Islamist" ideology, because Islamism also carries with it various kinds of political manifestations, including the democratic moderate one. The discourses that are obviously stated by the organizations claiming responsible for the attacts in India have included the politicization of a strict truth claim of Islam vis-a-vis Hinduism, Western-type Indian secularism, and colonialism. The terrorists perceive they are under siege; they are within the war zone -- against American and British interests, as well as against the Indian Hindus and democrats,secularists.
The ideological contradictions perceived by the terrorists - mostly in their twenties and thirties, that motivate them to wage their terrors should not be however seen as a clash of Islam and the West, a clash of Islam and Hinduism, clash of Islam and secularism, and clash of Islam and colonialism. The historical and contemporary situations are more complex than these perceptions perpetuated by the terrorists and many fundamentalist media reporters and leaders. Islam has been defined, constructed, implemented, and practiced in so many different ways, within contexts: local, regional, and global. A sound analysis of what really happens should involve both textual dimension of a religion and contextual situations that could change.
Any kind of murder and killing of innocent people is not humanistic, not Islamic (which I adhere to), not at all to bring the actors to the heaven they are wishing for. Islam has and can become tolerant, moderate, peaceful, democratic, and diplomatic through all kinds of educational, cultural, diplomatic, economic, political efforts made by Muslims and non-Muslims in the world. Obviously many of the terrorists use Islam for their own political ideology against their enemies. The terrorists' enemies" are not the enemies of most Muslims.
Labeling the terrorists as "Islamist fundamentalist radical", is not the key effort in the world's struggle against terrorism and its roots. More grass-root efforts are what we need: cross-religious, cross-cultural, cross-national. These efforts are endless and should be even more serious and more global and local at the same time in order to reduce if not to eliminate the political ideology that fuels hatred against the "other". The problem of violence is always complex, but clear and sound judgment about its roots will help a lot.
We, including the U.S. government, should not make another mistake like what is happening in Iraq: Targeting the wrong enemy, Ignoring the roots.
Glen Mor, 8:21 pm, Nov 26, 2008