March 29, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6365

Self-Criticism In The Arab World Following Brussels Attacks: Muslim Justification Of The Attacks Is Unacceptable; We Must Recognize That Most Terrorism Is Carried Out By Muslims

March 29, 2016
Special Dispatch No. 6365

Following the March 22, 2016 Brussels terrorist attacks that killed 35 and wounded over 300 others the Arab press featured numerous articles accusing the West and various opponents in the region of supporting terrorism.[1] However, several notable articles expressed self-criticism, laying the responsibility for the creation of suicide bombers and for horrific terror attacks on the prevailing cultures and perceptions in the Muslim and Arab countries of origin. They harshly criticized the Muslims for not standing up against terrorism or doing enough to eliminate it and for justifying or even praising the attacks while disregarding any Muslim responsibility for terrorism.

(Al-Nahar, Lebanon, March 23, 2016) 

Following are excerpts from these articles: 

Al-Hayat Editor: We Have Failed, We Flee Our Countries And The World Attempts To Flee The Wave Of Suicide Bombers Produced By Our Culture

In an article titled "We Have Failed Indeed," the editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat, Ghassan Charbel, attacked the Arabs and Muslims for sowing destruction and fear in the very same European countries that had agreed to take them in after they had fled their failed countries. Charbel argued that the Arabs and Muslims had not managed to build states and citizens that could integrate into the modern world, and that they must recognize their failure and start from scratch. He wrote: "Are we [the Arabs and Muslims] simply part of this world, or are we perhaps an explosive charge implanted in [this world's] entrails? Are we a normal neighborhood in the global village, or are we maybe a neighborhood of suicide bombers in [that village]? Are these massacres that move [from place to place] aimed at annexing the Arab and Muslim communities in the West to the lexicon of slaughter and suicide? Are we part of the world's present and future, or are we a dark tempest that seeks to send [the world] back to the caves that it abandoned when it chose the path of progress and human dignity?

"Do we seek to defend our character, right, or identity? Or do we [actually] seek to impose this character on others? Is our option for the other essentially that he will either be like us or we will blow him up, so that his body parts mingle with ours? Is it accurate [to say] that we are calmed only by seeing the streets of the other's world full of barricades of corpses and broken glass? Who was it that allowed Muslim fanatics to kill a Turk on the streets of Istanbul, a Frenchman on the streets of Paris, and a tourist on the streets of Brussels?

"Has a man who came as a refugee or immigrant to a foreign country that took him in and provided him with a roof over his head, an address, social assistance, and medical care the right to blow himself up on its streets because it did not embrace his character, his interpretation, and his mode of thinking and way of life? Does the discourse regarding unemployment and non-integration in Western society detract from [the horror of] the crime? Has a spiteful person the right to kill the other merely because he does not drink with him at the same fount? Have we have the right to continue delving into historical sources in order to rely on past wrongs done to us and use this to justify the slaughter of innocents in a country whence we fled because of a tyrant or a civil war [in our own countries]? Who gave us the right to dictate to others the nature of their regimes, their values, and their lifestyle?

"We have failed indeed.

"This is the truth that can no longer be concealed or condoned. We have failed at building a normal state - a state that lives within its borders. a state of institutions that strives its utmost to obtain progress and development and provide its citizens with work opportunities and involvement, a state that cooperates with its neighbors and the world without being panic-stricken or fettered by spite. We have also failed to build a normal citizen, [one] who belongs to the current stage of development in a rapidly developing world.

"We have failed indeed.

"For decades and centuries, we have been gripped by negligence. We feared, and we closed ourselves off. We punished the oppositionist. We obliterated those who cast doubt, and accused anybody who raised questions of treason. We imprisoned the throats, the fingers, and the dreams. And thus our institutions rotted away - if they ever existed at all. The schools, the universities, and our educational curricula rotted away. Children graduate from our schools with sick imaginations and inflexible emotions... The student has become a number... and a bomb. We stood still on the world's platform, as it [the world] moved ahead, further and further, and we became sadder and angrier. We continued to feel that the world was being built without us, and in our absence - that it was being built against us. And this was how we readied our bodies and the explosive charges and blew ourselves up.

"We have failed indeed.

"These feelings overpowered me when I listened to Syrians in Berlin recounting how they had crammed into the death boats in the hope of casting themselves and their children [ashore] into the bosom of a European country; when I listened to the Iraqis who had used the Syrians' passports; and when I saw the tragedy in the eyes of the Yazidis, who were fleeing the hell of the [Islamic] State of [Abu-Bakr] Al-Baghdadi. This is frightening. How much we have read about our homelands and their deeply planted historical roots, while now we can only dream of escaping them, letting them die and writhe in agony around the sectarian anthems and victories by the militias. How we deluded ourselves that we were one people - and then our compatriots in this one people murdered us. We are left only with the death boats to flee our drowning countries...

"We have failed indeed.

"The world is seeking the best way to evade the throngs of refugees that we are sending, and the waves of suicide [terrorists] that are arriving from our territory and culture. The world treats us today as the source of peril to its security, progress, democracy and stability. The only solution remaining to us is to acknowledge this comprehensive and resounding failure, this terrible collapse. We must start from scratch, like a city devastated by a deadly earthquake. Continuing to hide behind lies and fallacies will [only] prolong our stay in the caves. We cannot progress to the future with our antiquated concepts and tattered garments. We cannot board the train without paying the fare [exacted] for our stagnation, our delusions, and our inflexible perceptions."[2]   

Jordanian Writer: Justifying Terrorism Is Worse Than The Attacks Themselves; We Are Responsible For The Terrorism In Our Own Countries

Tareq Masarwa, a writer for the official Jordanian daily Al-Rai, criticized how some Arabs are attempting to justify terrorist attacks by claiming that European countries are racist and marginalize Muslims. He wrote: "... [According to] some analyses [of the Brussels attacks,] the terrorists grew up in the outskirts of European cities and were angry at being marginalized! We hear these same excuses here. However, other analyses responded [to these claims] with a wise comparison: They [the Muslim terrorists in Europe] chose terrorism. Otherwise, why aren't there millions of [South] American terrorists in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, since they too are poor and grew up in the outskirts of big cities?! According to another analysis, Europe does not give immigrants from North Africa, and specifically from Africa itself, the same opportunities that it gives European immigrants. This constitutes a justification of terrorism, since Europe gives the immigrant the opportunity for a free education, and thousands of Jordanians have attended French and German universities for free... and had an easy time becoming citizens of those countries... How are France, Sweden, Germany, and Belgium expected to promote immigrants who are illiterate? And under what social conditions can a 10-person Arab or African family [hope to] exist?!

"It is shameful that we demand that the world treat us justly as we drive away our sons by killing them, imprisoning them, or failing to provide them with proper education, healthcare, and employment, and with a dignified life. The sight of people flocking to Europe's borders, including Syrians, Iraqis, Kurds, Afghans, and Iranians, is heartbreaking, especially when they are carrying their children or pushing them in front of them - but all we do is curse the Europeans as racists who hate Muslims and foreigners, and consider it our right to murder them in their airports, trains, and theaters.

"Did the Europeans take over our countries? Yes. But they left over 50 years ago, and we now call on them to bring down our tyrants, and accuse them of dragging their feet [on this issue].

"Terrorism is a crime, and justifying it is an even worse crime. What is happening in the cities of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, and Tunisia is terrorism, and we are responsible for its formation, its arming, and its funding. It is pointless to justify the murder of Europeans and Americans out of a desire to justify our own crimes."[3]  

Kuwaiti Writer: The Muslims Are Not Doing Enough Against Terrorism - And Some Are Even Praising It

Kuwaiti writer and author Khalil 'Ali Haidar wrote in the Bahraini daily Al-Ayyam that the Muslims are not doing enough against terrorism and are shirking their responsibility for it. He wrote: "What are we doing here in our countries, or in Western countries in Europe and America, while these terrible blows of terrorism land on us and them, one after the other? ... In fact, we do not know how to act against these terrorists. Is it sufficient that following each of these terrorist actions, which take place in merciless rapid succession and are all perpetrated by young Muslims... that we say 'they aren't Muslims' and 'they do not represent true Islam' and are misguided khawarij[4] and apostates? And will the world be satisfied with [such statements]?

"Is it normal that while terrorism succeeds in recruiting hundreds and even thousands of Muslims, we are satisfied to persuade ourselves that their numbers 'are still negligible' compared to the global Muslim population? Must the number of terrorists swell to tens or hundreds of thousands before we realize that a thunderous pounding torrent [is headed] towards us, and that this means that we must stop, convene, and give intellectuals the freedom to examine the reasons [for this] and the freedom to publish the results of their studies?

"What if we had been citizens of France, Britain, Spain, and the U.S., and had given Arabs, Pakistanis, Chechens, and others all these benefits [that have been given to the Muslims in Europe], including job opportunities, the option of  citizenship, salaries, and subsidies - and then they became terrorists who murdered us?! ...

"The religious culture of the Islamic world during this era is afflicted with innumerable ills. We turn the world upside down over various matters, such as an article that offends us, or issues regarding the niqab, Halal meat, Christians using the word Allah - which Muslims in Malaysia, for instance, claim as their exclusive right. [Furthermore,] many leaders of Pakistani and other immigrant [groups] expend all their efforts in the sectarian campaign against the Ahmadi movement, to the point where they have no time to examine this terrorist urge among their young people, including among the educated, engineers and [other] experts.

"Unfortunately, the Muslims do not yet unanimously condemn ISIS. Some Muslims praise them [ISIS members], think the media wrongs them, and join them at the first opportunity, and even carry out the first suicide mission they are offered anywhere in the world!

"One reason for the immaturity of Muslim young people in Britain, France, and the U.S. is that the leadership of the religious institutions, and all religious activity, still remain in the hands of Arab, Pakistani and other activists and leaders who have fled to the West [and continue to] support political Islam parties. These leaders may not [themselves] carry out terrorist attacks, but they also do not truly take a stand against the terrorist religious culture. Moreover, most of their writings, ideas, and strategic positions regarding an Islamic system and the caliphate state share [this religious culture].

"We say that 'terrorism has no religion and no homeland.' But we must confront the fact that most terrorist attacks in the Arab and Muslim world itself are not carried out by Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Ahmadis, or Baha'is - but by Muslims and the sons and daughters of Muslims. Some are not satisfied with carrying out their crimes in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia, but carry them out in Western countries. And even if they believe that terrorism in Europe and the U.S. is justified because of [these countries'] 'colonialist past' and 'hostile positions' against the Arabs and Muslims - of what crimes are the Egyptians, Iraqis, Afghans, and Nigerians guilty? Do those countries also have shameful colonialist pasts?"[5]



[2] Al-Hayat (London), March 28, 2016.

[3] Al-Rai (Jordan), March 24, 2016.

[4] The Khawarij was a group that broke away from the forces of Caliph 'Ali bin Abu Taleb and formed Islam's first religious opposition group.

[5] Al-Ayyam (Bahrain), March 23, 2016.

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