Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, former dean of the shari'a and law faculty at Qatar University, has recently published several articles in Gulf papers about terrorism and its root cause. According to Al-Ansari, terrorism is the outcome of a culture of hatred in the Arab countries, and in order to eliminate it, the culture of hate must be eliminated.
The following are excerpts from the articles:
Baseless Excuses for Terrorism
In an article titled "How the Arabs Explain the Terror Phenomenon" in the Qatari daily Al-Raya, Al-Ansari criticized the ways in which the Arab world denies and ignores the phenomenon of terrorism, and refuted the political and socio-economic arguments justifying it:
"...I don't understand the personality split in some people; they depict the terrorist in Iraq as a martyr and a resistance fighter…How can we term someone a martyr when he blows up schools and hospitals, does not respect the sanctity of religious sites, and, worse, blows himself up in restaurants and bus stations full of workers?!...
"Why has the terrorist violence increased? And why has it reached a level of such madness and barbarism? Why aren't we managing to deal with it and handle it? Why is there a rise in terror operations targeting innocents?!
"In my view, the [answer] lies in our inability to explain the phenomenon of terrorism, and to break it down into its structural internal causes and into the environmental elements that support its existence. [This inability] emanates from the following three main causes that are common in the Arab arena as explanations for terrorism:
"The first is the discourse of denial... that is, exonerating Muslims from [any] accusation of [perpetrating] terror operations, and [instead] accusing their enemies – usually the Mossad and U.S. intelligence. An extensive sector of prominent clerics, intellectual elites, and the masses are still convinced that 9/11 was a Mossad or U.S. intelligence operation... Likewise, many deny that Al-Zarqawi [ever] existed, and blame Israel and the U.S. for what is going on in Iraq.
"The second cause is the discourse of defensiveness, as manifested in repeated statements that terrorism has no religion, homeland or nationality, but is a transient virus that is alien [to the Arab world] – or that Islam is innocent [of terrorism].
"The third cause is the discourse of justification, which is extremely common in the religious and media outlets. This discourse tries to link terrorism with political factors, international conflicts or internal socio-economic factors – saying that terrorism is the outcome of political repression by some regimes that strangle freedoms and are hostile to democracy or that terrorism is a response to American and Western injustices, to the policy of discrimination [against Muslims], to the blind pro-Israel bias, and to the global conspiracy against the Muslims…
"There are also those who excuse terrorism because of unemployment and poverty, or use as an excuse the spread of corruption, permissiveness, women's adorning themselves in public, [and women's] attaining political rights and being appointed to senior positions, which is considered perverse in the eyes of those [who excuse terrorism].
"All these excuses are baseless. First, we are not the only nation that suffers from injustice – after all, nations and peoples in Africa, America, and Asia suffer from graver injustice than we.
"Second, throughout Muslim history – from the days of the Righteous Caliphs to our own time – injustice on the part of Muslims against other Muslims is greater than the injustices on the part of the enemies [of the Muslims] against them.
"Third, throughout history it has not been proven that any terrorist operation has [ever] restored what was plundered or achieved any political goal. With regard to [the claim that] the lack of democracy and freedoms causes terrorism, [the fact is that] nothing in any of Al-Qaeda's publications includes any demands for democracy – and furthermore, Al-Qaeda hates democracy and sees it as heresy.
"With regard to the [excuse of] unemployment, this claim is contradicted by the good [financial] situation of Al-Qaeda's leaders and members, as well as of [other terrorists] who possess funds, ammunition, weapons, and equipment.
"Likewise, many peoples, past and present, have suffered from difficult situations – yet they have not pushed their sons to blow themselves up among innocents as we do. I am certain that if the American occupation were to disappear tomorrow, terrorism in Iraq would not stop – indeed, it would become even more violent and barbaric.
"With regard to the Palestinian problem, none of the plans and publications of the terrorist groups include any demand connected in any way to Palestine. And as to women's leaving their homes and adorning themselves in public – how can this possibly explain why terrorism has invaded Saudi Arabia?...
"As long as we do not adopt a self[-critical] approach, the malady [of terrorism] will remain, and will even get worse..."
Terrorism – The Outcome of a Culture of Hatred
In an article titled "How to Make Our Young People Love Life" in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, Dr. Al-Ansari stated that it is the culture of hatred and extremism in the Arab countries that causes terrorism:
"Terrorism is the fruit of hatred – hatred of life, hatred of civilization and the [modern] era, hatred of society and state, hatred of living people. The young people who have become tools of murder and human bombs are the sons of the culture of hatred, and the outcome of a fanatical culture and extremist ideology that sees life, its pleasures, and its beauty as unimportant. Ultimately the political, economic, social, and religious motives that push [the young people] to blow themselves up lie in a single main cause – and that is the culture of hatred.
"These young people, at the age of flowering, have become the enemies of their society, avenging, hating, and exploding. They are our terrorist sons, raised in our bosoms, suckled by our culture, taught in our schools, and taught religious law from our religious pulpits and by the fatwas of our clerics.
"What, then, has made them prefer death to life? I have no answer except the fact that we have not managed to make them love life. We have taught them to die for the sake of Allah, but we have not taught them to love, to build, to create, and to help society for the sake of Allah. We have taught them that nationalism [means] attacking America and opposing imperialism, but we have not taught them that nationalism is love, loyalty, and belonging to the homeland...
"How can this miserable creature called the Arab and Muslim individual not turn to extremism, when he is surrounded by an overall atmosphere of extremism, bound by the shackles of repression and prohibitions, and girded by the ideas of intimidation and terrorization, and of almost endless torment? These accompany this creature from birth to death, beginning with dire warnings about the torments of the grave and enemy plots lying in wait for Islam and the Muslims, [as well as] the long list of prohibitions that has made blessed life – the gift of the Creator – into a prison of pain, from which the individual seeks to escape to Paradise and to the lovely maidens in it.
"As if all this were not enough, we even employ religious police to follow the people, to restrict their freedoms, to spy on them, and to interfere in their personal affairs. So how can there not be widespread phenomena of tension and worry in the souls [of the people]?...
"Go to hear a Friday sermon, and you will find a preacher who is enraged at the world, angry at civilization, spreading the poison of hatred and enmity. Then you will leave [the mosque] tense and angry!...
"The world's young people engage in music, art, and enjoyment of the pleasures of life. They create, discover, and participate in building the strength and the culture of their society – while we engage our young people in religious law disputes on the veil, the beard, how long garments should be, and how to greet Christians – or we engage our young people in adults' political and ideological disputes, or push them to go to Iraq and Afghanistan to commit suicide!
"Hatred is a culture of prohibitions, and the result of our viewing the world as an enemy lying in wait [for us.] Many factors have played a part [in shaping this world view], including the religious messages anchored in fears of plots [against us], the educational messages that have produced in young people alienation from the [modern] era, and a great number of publications by the Muslim Brotherhood and by the nationalists, which have, for the past 50 years, spread hatred of the other and conspiracy theories [against the Muslims].
"We need a culture that will restore the importance of life and the value of the individual, and will make young people love the arts and the humanities..."
The Values of Tolerance Should Be Implemented
In an article titled "Our Sons and the Culture of Tolerance" in the UAE daily Al-Ittihad, Al-Ansari called for Arab societies to abandon the culture of fanaticism and to adopt the principle of tolerance in order to destroy extremism and terrorism:
"...What is it that has turned some of our sons into prey?... What is it that has made them love perdition and death?... It is the heritage of fanaticism that comes to us from the dawn of history, that was founded and consolidated, and spread and based itself, in the social infrastructure, throughout Muslim history, in the shadow of the tyrannical regimes that suppressed, discriminated, and marginalized [both] Muslims and non-Muslims.
"Unfortunately, inhuman religious commentaries have supported them... The fanatical and discriminatory tradition – which contradicts Muslim principles – is the one from which some of our sons have drunk...
"In this current era in which we live, we do not need everything that is in the books of our forefathers. Rather, we [need] religious laws that will embrace the individual as an individual, and will bring our young people to love life, culture, and the advanced arts.
"Second, we must stop praising and priding ourselves on 'tolerance,' when we continue to live without tolerance. If we are truthful, and if we are faithful to our principles, we must translate [the principles of tolerance] into actual behavior...
"In my opinion, education is the key and the true beginning for reinforcing the values of tolerance: [education] at home, [education] in the family, by parents' tolerance towards each other and towards their neighbors, by family [members'] mutual tolerance, and by their tolerance towards the servants in the home – tolerance that spreads to the educational institutions and to the rest of the institutions of civil society and of the government, in all its political, cultural, and religious aspects.
"In this way, the religious and cultural elite will implement the culture of tolerance, and will uproot the accusations of treason, of heresy, and of espionage [that Muslims level at one other]. Thus, society will be ruled by a system of laws that are just towards ethnic groups, and there will be a political regime that will ensure equal rights and freedoms for all."
 Al-Raya (Qatar), April 23, 2007.
 Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), May 15, 2007.
 Al-Ittihad (UAE), May 18, 2007.