On March 16, 2019, BBC Arabic (U.K.) hosted a debate about extremism and Islam. Dr. Makram Khoury-Machool, the director of the Cambridge-based European Centre for the Study of Extremism, said that most Muslim societies are peaceful and that Islam should not be accused of extremism. He said that there had been no killing of Arab Christians in the Middle East until American and Western occupation. Dr. Arwa Al-Khattabi, a Yemeni expert in European and German history, said that ISIS represents Islam and that it has attempted to implement it by the book without distorting, changing, or adding anything. She said that Arabs and Muslims must discuss the matter honestly and take responsibility for what is happening in the world rather than act like victims and blame others.
Following are excerpts:
Dr. Makram Khoury-Machool: This is an important point for everyone to understand – the matter is between extremist forces in the West and the Muslims. This is why we say that most Muslim societies in the world are peaceful societies, and Westerners cannot look at the religion of Islam and accuse it of extremism in the world. This must stop – from a scientific, legal, practical, and procedural perspective.
Host: Okay let's hear from…
Dr. Makram Khoury-Machool: Just one more thing… The problem is that the Arab regimes do not have the power to stand before the European regimes and tell them: "What you want to apply to us – you must apply to yourselves."
We had not seen the killing of Arab Christians and easterners until the intervention and occupation by America and the West in the Arab east and in our Arab world. The Arab Christians lived with their Muslim brothers in security in their countries, and there were no problems until the invading Western powers came in and nurtured the hatred and supported it financially, as they still do. Thus, there is no connection or correlation between Western terrorism and Christianity in the East.
Host: Do you agree with Dr. Gabriel Sawma's point that ISIS represents Islam?
Dr. Arwa Al-Khattabi: Yes. This is the truth, and we must discuss this in full honesty and fairness. We must confront our [problems]. ISIS has come to implement Islam as it is, by the book. It has not come up with anything on its own. It evoked the religious texts exactly as they are. It did not distort, change, or replace anything. It came with the text and implemented it exactly as it is.
They came in order to [implement] the proper Islam, complete with slave girls, the rape…
It is very unfortunate that we want to deny… We have a huge problem and we must recognize this before [we do] anything else. We have a problem, and we must take responsibility for it before we blame others for what is happening in the world. We cannot shut our eyes and deny this. It is happening because of us. When we deny things and place the blame on others, as if we are forced to do all this and are not the reason for what is happening… We must all own up to what is happening.