February 9, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 5961

Saudi Columnist: Those Who Condemn Terrorism Halfheartedly Help Strengthen It

February 9, 2015
Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 5961

In his November 27, 2014 column in the Saudi daily Al-Watan, 'Ali Al-Sharimi harshly criticized those who hesitate to unequivocally condemn Muslim terrorism and find excuses for it - such as that it is a response to Western-Israeli aggression, or stems from frustrations born of poverty and unemployment. He wrote that such justification indirectly supports this terrorism, and pushes young people towards participating in terrorism and jihad. Thus, he says, those who use the discourse of halfhearted support for terrorism are no less dangerous than the terrorist organizations themselves.

The following is a translation of the main points of his column:

'Ali Al-Sharimi (image: Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia)

"Have you ever heard of the 'but' gang? Simply put, it is a gang [of people] that has become enamored of the word 'but,' and its affair with this word is a protracted love story. This gang contradicts itself: It supports, but it doesn't support; it opposes, but it doesn't oppose; it condemns, but it doesn't condemn. This gang has no color, no flavor, no smell - because while it [states that it] doesn't support terrorist operations, it invents despicable excuses [for them], justifying them in people's minds, primarily [amongst] the simple folk. [In fact,] there are those [in the gang] who do support them [the terror operations] secretly and shamefully...

"This ['but'] gang first surfaced with [the emergence] of the Al-Qaeda organization, and primarily after the events of September 11, when it began condemning terrorism while simultaneously justifying it by calling it an [understandable] response to the injustices done to the Muslims from within and without. I do not know how [they can justify terrorism as a reaction to the injustice done to Muslims in the Muslim countries] while at the same time arguing that Western democracy and freedom are apostasy and criminal! For if the absence of freedom [in the Muslim countries] justifies terrorism, then how to explain the terrorism that takes place in a number of European countries where life could not be more democratic?

"With regard to the injustice [done to the Muslims] from without, they [members of this gang] are referring to the West's injustice against the Muslims. They explain away terrorism, justifying it by arguing that it is a reaction to Western and Israeli aggression. But what is the connection between the massacring of Muslims and the West's crimes against us? Are we the only nation suffering oppression and subjugation?! Many peoples are more oppressed than the Muslims - but they know no suicide attacks. The truth is that from the dawn of history to our time, the injustices that some Muslims inflict upon their own [Muslim] brethren are much worse than the injustices inflicted upon them by others. Look how the radical factions in Syria, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan fight each other!

"If terrorism is the result of Israel's tyranny, why don't Al-Qaeda and ISIS retaliate against Israel? One of the false arguments reiterated by the 'but' gang is that terrorism is a natural response to secular and liberal radicalism. This is a fallacious excuse - who ever heard of secular and liberal Arabs practicing takfir [i.e., accusing others of heresy], cutting off heads, or piercing hearts?

"This gang's excuses [also] include the statement that terrorism is a response to frustration stemming from poverty and unemployment. But this flies in the face of reality - most radical factions do not suffer from poverty or unemployment. On the contrary; they have plenty of money for their terror attacks.

"A new [kind of] 'but' men, in a sectarian iteration, clearly emerged [following] the events at Al-Dalwa [in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia, where Shi'ites were attacked at prayer and five were killed on November 3, 2014[1]], when they shamefacedly condemned the attack [but qualified their condemnation] by adding, 'But we must also condemn the Shi'ite killing and slaughter of our Sunni brothers in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. This is the very same language that we have long heard from the preachers in the mosques, who shout from the pulpit, 'Oh Muslims! Islam prohibits bloodshed - but see what is happening to the Muslims in Chechnya, Kashmir, Bosnia, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq! See the Western racism and American arrogance against the Muslims.' It is this violent inciting discourse that creates an atmosphere that pushes young people into the bosom of terrorism, and into adopting the jihadi takfiri way of thinking.

"The 'but' gang is no less of a danger to Muslim societies than the terrorist organizations themselves."




[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5901, Saudi Columnists: There Is Anti-Shi'ite Incitement In Our Country, December 10, 2014.

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