Mod­er­a­tion the key to de­rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion

A global united anti-ter­ror­ist front needed to fight ex­trem­ism

New Straits Times - - News -

ABOMB was det­o­nated at a pop con­cert in the north­ern city of Manch­ester, Eng­land. The lat­est count of 22 dead and more than 50 in­jured is tes­ti­mony of the cru­elty per­pe­trated in a closed venue where peo­ple were about to leave at the end of a per­for­mance by Amer­i­can singer Ari­ana Grande. Ter­ror has come to Euro­pean cities. Granted that the cur­rent spate is garbed in Is­lamic ex­trem­ism and blamed on the in­fil­tra­tion of refugees from the war-torn Mid­dle East, but in sev­eral in­stances the per­pe­tra­tors are home­grown as that oc­curred on Lon­don’s West­min­ster Bridge and West­min­ster Palace, and that in Brus­sels, and the Char­lie Hebdo of­fice in Paris. Whether Is­lamic State or al-Qaeda in­spired, the per­pe­tra­tors in Europe are be­lieved to be dis­grun­tled Euro­pean Mus­lims.

On the other hand, the ter­ror­ists wreak­ing havoc in Syria, Iraq and Libya come from all over the world, most es­pe­cially from Mus­lim ma­jor­ity coun­tries or prov­inces, such as Chech­nya in Rus­sia and Xin­jiang in China. Many have con­verged in the Mid­dle East war zones from an as­sort­ment of Euro­pean coun­tries and even the United States. Malaysians and In­done­sians are there, too. But why, when most Mus­lims agree that Is­lam is a re­li­gion of peace?

Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak, one of five speak­ers, at­tend­ing the Arab Is­lamic Amer­i­can Sum­mit in Riyadh last week, reaf­firmed his con­vic­tion that only mod­er­a­tion, wasatiyyah ,a Qu­ranic in­junc­tion, can tem­per the ex­trem­ist at­trac­tion that drives the ter­ror­ists who com­mit atroc­i­ties garbed as Mus­lims. Speak­ing in front of a gather­ing of lead­ers of the Mus­lim world — Syria and Iran were not in­vited — in the pres­ence of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Na­jib re­it­er­ated Malaysia’s com­mit­ment to the prin­ci­ple. The pol­icy thrust in­volved is to spread Is­lam’s mes­sage of peace and to, once and for all, ban­ish the idea that there is any­where in Is­lam where vi­o­lence is part of ji­had. To­wards this ef­fort, the King Sal­man Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Peace was launched in Kuala Lumpur dur­ing Saudi ruler King Sal­man Ab­du­laziz Al-Saud’s re­cent visit here.

In­deed, mil­i­tary ac­tion against ter­ror­ists is nec­es­sary, but with­out an ef­fort to win hearts and minds, ex­trem­ism can­not be de­feated. Ac­cord­ing to Na­jib, “a cred­i­ble nar­ra­tive needs to be told, in which Is­lam and moder­nity are com­pat­i­ble”. This is the ob­jec­tive of wasatiyyah, and as high­lighted by Na­jib, the de­rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme in Malaysia has had a 95 per cent suc­cess rate of rein­te­grat­ing former ex­trem­ists. Of course, it does not help when the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil bickers over what groups are to be cat­e­gorised as ter­ror­ists. Geopo­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests of some coun­tries have con­ve­niently turned ter­ror­ist groups into proxy armies. The com­bined ef­fect of such geopo­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ence is to ex­ploit the dis­af­fec­tion of Mus­lim mi­nori­ties es­pe­cially, and Mus­lim ac­tivists who ex­ploit the Mus­lim iden­tity. Un­til such time a global united anti-ter­ror­ist front ex­ists, the dis­grun­tled and the op­por­tunists are a dan­ger­ous cock­tail whose pres­ence ex­plodes on the un­sus­pect­ing — as in the Manch­ester bomb­ing — killing and maim­ing any­where, at any time.

In­deed, mil­i­tary ac­tion against ter­ror­ists is nec­es­sary, but with­out an ef­fort to win hearts and minds, ex­trem­ism can­not be de­feated.

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