April 16, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 696

Arab Liberal: Most Islamic Ideologues, Organization Leaders Advocate Violence

April 16, 2004
Special Dispatch No. 696

In an article titled 'Who's Responsible for the Islamic Terrorists?' that appeared in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, columnist Khaled Kishtainy, [1] of Iraqi origin, discussed the leading Muslim ideologues' positive attitudes towards the use of violence. The following is the article: [2]

Islamist Talk of 'Love and Peace in Islam' is Just a Cover for Violence

"[The phenomenon] called Islamic terrorism has many roots and causes, and much has already been written about this. But I have personal input on this matter.

"I place on the Islamic intellectuals and leaders of Islamic organizations part of the responsibility for [this phenomenon] of Islamic terrorism, as nearly all of them advocate violence, and repress anyone who casts doubts upon this. Naturally, every so often they have written about the love and peace of Islam – but they did so, at best, for purposes of propaganda and defense of Islam. Their basic position is that this religion was established by the sword, acts by the sword, and will triumph by the sword, and that any doubt regarding this constitutes a conspiracy against the Muslims.

"The best proof of what I am saying is the 1984 world congress on 'The Nonviolent Political Arab Struggle' in Amman, that was nothing but hypocrisy and propaganda. In the congress documents in the English [version], they published my speech, but they removed it from the edition in Arabic!!! All this was in an attempt to deceive the Westerners, and not in order to educate the Arabs to peace.

"In my opinion, the sword played a minor role in Islam's triumph over polytheism. Moreover, the Muslims will [only] lose by their adherence to the perception [advocating] violence. This is due first of all to the military supremacy of others, and second because in this generation the alternative of nonviolent struggle is a more effective weapon. I have adopted this perception and called it by the Islamic name 'Civil Jihad.'"

My Attempts to Promote 'Civil Jihad' were Rejected

"I tried to establish in London an organization to disseminate this perception among the Muslims. I contacted some Arab ambassadors and activists in Islamic organizations, and all I got from them was their turning their backs, and even threats. Only three Muslims shared my belief – one from Ethiopia and two from Iraq. Over the course of two years, we struggled [for the sake of this goal]; then we lost hope and gave up.

"Most of the people we contacted were of the opinion that the Westerners are sons of dogs who understand only force, and that the Muslims have no choice but to strap on their weapon and fight. Some cooperated with us in private meetings [but] after the meeting was over asked us not to mention anything of it to others – as if nonviolence and peace were a kind of adultery that must be hidden. This was the atmosphere that helped the emergence of the terrorists, the suicide bombers, and all those who use weapons and explosives."

Some Publishers Wouldn't Allow The Draft Of My Book Into Their Office

"In the framework of this personal effort, I devoted a great deal of time to writing a book about nonviolence. It is the only book that presents in depth, in Arabic, the perceptions and methods of Civil Jihad. A large section of it is devoted to peace and nonviolence in Islam.

"In vain did my friend Anis Sayegh try to find a publisher for the book. Some [publishers] refused to even permit the draft of the book to enter their office. Finally, the Dar Al-Karmel [publishers] in Amman put it out (after omitting many paragraphs), and even that was in an abbreviated edition, replete with mistakes.

"The publisher did not manage to distribute it in a courageous way, perhaps because some Arab governments prevented him from doing so. Even the Institute of Arab Unity refrained from publishing my research on this subject in its journal.

"I reiterate that the Arab and Islamic ideologues and media leaders bear much of the responsibility for the involvement in terrorism and violence of the Muslims of the world. Of course, they will reject my statement arrogantly. But my statement can be tested: The draft of my book is still in my office in two languages, Arabic and English, waiting for someone to come along and publish it. I offer it for free, without asking a fee for my work."

[1] For more on Khalid Kishtainy, please see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 545, July 31, 2003, ' An Iraqi Intellectual in London: Arab Nationalists' Interference in Iraqi Affairs Will Pound the Final Nail into Iraq's Coffin',

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 11, 2004.

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