TRUMP’S HOLY WAR AGAINST IS­LAM

Pakistan Today (Karachi) - - WORLD VIEW - L ALI KHAN L. Ali Khan is the founder of Le­gal Scholar Academy and a pro­fes­sor of law at Wash­burn Univer­sity, Kansas.

IN his in­au­gu­ral ad­dress, Pres­i­dent Trump sin­gled out rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism as the sole en­emy. He did not even men­tion Rus­sia or China as threats to the se­cu­rity or pros­per­ity of the United States. In terse and clear words, Trump said: “We will re­in­force old al­liances and form new ones and unite the civ­i­lized world against rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism, which we will erad­i­cate from the face of the Earth.” In fight­ing against rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism, Trump as­serted that “We will be pro­tected by the great men and women of our mil­i­tary and law en­force­ment. And most im­por­tantly, we will be pro­tected by God.”

WHAT TRUMP MEANS: There are three points worth con­sid­er­a­tion to un­der­stand Trump’s speech on rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism. Each point is rooted in his­tory and aca­demic lit­er­a­ture, and each point car­ries se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions for the peace and se­cu­rity of the United States and the world.

First, rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism is pre­sented as a threat to “the civ­i­lized world.” His­tor­i­cally, the phrase “civ­i­lized world” was coined in the era of colo­nial­ism to re­fer pri­mar­ily to the Euro­pean na­tions and by im­pli­ca­tion to the “un­civ­i­lized world” re­ferred to Na­tive Amer­i­cans in Amer­i­cas, slaves from Africa, and the col­o­nized pop­u­la­tions in Asia. Un­der con­tem­po­rary stan­dards of global dis­course, the phrase “civ­i­lized world” is rarely used by diplo­mats, heads of states, or aca­demic schol­ars. There is a new un­der­stand­ing that the world is blessed with nu­mer­ous di­verse civ­i­liza­tions, in­clud­ing the Is­lamic civ­i­liza­tion that spans over cen­turies in all con­ti­nents of the world. It is un­clear whether Pres­i­dent Trump in­cludes fifty-six (56) Mus­lim coun­tries as part of the civ­i­lized world.

Sec­ond, the phrase “rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism” was in­vented to ar­gue that Is­lamic vi­o­lence em­anates from the re­li­gion it­self and not from any con­crete geopo­lit­i­cal griev­ances for which Mus­lim mil­i­tants are fight­ing in var­i­ous parts of the world. The phrase “rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism “was pop­u­lar with neo­con­ser­va­tives who wanted to shift the fo­cus from griev­ances to Is­lamic psy­chol­ogy. For ex­am­ple, the phrase im­plies that the Pales­tini­ans as Mus­lims are ad­dicted to vi­o­lence that has noth­ing to do with oc­cu­pa­tion or mis­ery they face as a peo­ple. Like­wise, the phrase would sug­gest that the Tal­iban as Mus­lims are hooked to re­li­giously-in­spired war­fare and their vi­o­lence has lit­tle to do with the in­va­sion of Afghanistan. By adopt­ing the phrase dur­ing his cam­paign and men­tion it in his in­au­gu­ral speech, Pres­i­dent Trump has bought into the idea that a rad­i­cal ver­sion of Is­lam is in­her­ently bru­tal and will find ex­cuses to per­pe­trate vi­o­lence through­out the world even af­ter all the prob­lems have been solved.

Third, Trump has added a holy war com­po­nent to the erad­i­ca­tion of rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism from the face of the Earth. In ad­di­tion to seek­ing pro­tec­tion from “the great men and women of our mil­i­tary,” Trump claims that “we will be pro­tected by God.” This sim­ply means that God is on the side of the United States in its wars against var­i­ous na­tions and pop­u­la­tions, par­tic­u­larly rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism. This un­der­stand­ing of God’s par­ti­san­ship in hu­man wars is the car­di­nal prin­ci­ple of the holy war whether the con­cept is in­voked by Catholics, Protes­tants, Shias, Sun­nis, or Shiv Sena. UN­DER­STAND­ING IS­LAMIC TER­ROR­ISM: A se­ri­ous study of Is­lamic ter­ror­ism sug­gests that Mus­lim mil­i­tancy orig­i­nates in con­crete geopo­lit­i­cal causes, in­clud­ing oc­cu­pa­tions and in­va­sions. Mus­lim mil­i­tants desert their fam­i­lies and chil­dren, for­feit their lives, and in­vite the wrath of mighty states be­cause they are fight­ing oc­cu­pa­tion of their lands, re­sources, or way of life. Un­less the griev­ances fac­tor is hon­estly in­cluded in the counter-ter­ror­ism equa­tion, rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism will not abate.

The phrase rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism is overly provoca­tive. It is a bad piece of rhetoric that does more harm than good. It im­pli­cates the re­li­gion of Is­lam, spawn­ing ha­tred against or­di­nary Mus­lim fam­i­lies liv­ing in Western coun­tries. The phrase also dis­cour­ages peace-lov­ing Mus­lims all over the world to join the fight against ter­ror­ism as they feel their re­li­gion is be­ing ma­ligned. As far as Mus­lim mil­i­tants are con­cerned, they do not care whether they are called ter­ror­ists, rad­i­cal Is­lamists, brutes, un­civ­i­lized, or any such phrases.

There are good rea­sons for all, in­clud­ing Amer­i­cans, to crit­i­cize when Mus­lim mil­i­tants openly and de­lib­er­ately vi­o­late the laws of war. De­stroy­ing an­cient tem­ples, Sufi shrines, ram­ming trucks into civil­ian crowds, bomb­ing cities, and threat­en­ing nu­clear holo­caust, all th­ese and other acts are con­demnable. Mus­lims are ob­li­gated to openly and un­re­servedly con­demn when Mus­lim mil­i­tants com­mit such atroc­i­ties that have noth­ing to do with any ver­sion of Is­lam.

Fi­nally, bring­ing God into the fight is ill-ad­vised. For cen­turies, God is pre­sented as a spon­sor of vi­o­lence and war­fare. Trump has ruled out the pos­si­bil­ity that God is in­dif­fer­ent to hu­man wars and that God does not con­done or take part in clus­ter bomb­ings, drone at­tacks, or the use of nu­clear weapons against any cities.

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