In a recent TV interview, Kuwaiti writer and businessman Ahmad Sarraf said that the West had acknowledged its colonialist crimes and had made reparations for the crimes of Nazism, and posed the question "whether we, as Arabs and Muslims, are also ready to acknowledge that we had committed atrocities." "We call these atrocities 'conquests' or 'raids.' We give them a religious title," he said. In the Sky News Arabia interview, which aired on January 29, Sarraf further said that while ISIS is "a new name on the scene, there have been dozens or hundreds of Islamic movements... All these groups were considered to be the ISIS of their times." He said that while he has "no sympathy whatsoever" for the Iranian regime, he did not think that the danger today lies in Shiite terrorism. "We have Sunni terrorism, and the Shiite terrorism is like the icing on the cake," he said.
Following are excerpts:
Interviewer: You said that one of the most irrational analyses justifying the crime committed in the French capital was the attempt by some people to link it to the crimes of French colonialism in Algeria and elsewhere.
Ahmad Sarraf: When you go to Germany today, you see evidence in the museums proving the crimes of the German Nazi government in that war. There is a monument, you see it in the museums, and they have paid huge reparations to Israel and to the Jews, for what they did. At least the West acknowledges [his crimes]. You see this in French and European movies, and in American movies, which criticize the French colonialism in Africa, what the British did to the aborigines in Australia and New Zealand, and what the American did to the Indians. They have documented all these things.
The question that I raised in my article was whether we, as Arabs and Muslims, were also ready to acknowledge that we had committed atrocities. We call these atrocities "conquests" or "raids." We give them a religious title. The fact that we have given it an Islamic religious title, does not mean that it was okay for us to kill hundreds of thousands of Indians, in order to conquer India and China. Or Spain. These countries did not submit to us just because we are nice people, with black hair and black eyes, whereas they are blond with green eyes. They surrendered to us because we used the sword against them.
Each side has its own crimes. We cannot just philosophize about the "crimes of the British"… I have written this more than once, and I am certain about it. I'm a big supporter of the Palestinian people, but if the Palestinians had a nuclear bomb, they would have dropped it on Israel a long time ago.
ISIS is a new name on the scene, but there have been dozens or hundreds of Islamic movements, since the collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate, which emerged and were opposed to the central government. The Qaramatians are one example. All these groups were considered to be the ISIS of their times.
This collapse paved the way for the rise of ISIS. The tragic injustice and poverty experienced in the Arab countries have also created ISIS. All these factors – along with the media – played a role in the rise of ISIS. But ISIS has always been here.
What we read in our books [of heritage] is dangerous. It makes us believe that we are the best and noblest of all people, that our way of life is the cleanest, that we are all purity while the others are nothing but filth, and so we must not eat their food or wear their clothes. Even if your way to the mosque, you pass under an air conditioner, and some water from the condensation drips on you, you must find out who lives in that home, and if it is a non-Muslim, you must perform the ablution once again. So if we eat is the best, what we wear is the best, the way we live is the best, our way of thought is the best, and still it brought us to this wretched situation, we must reexamine it all.
Interviewer: Do you doubt that we are the best?
Ahmad Sarraf: We are the best only in bad things.
We are like sick people who call it a doctor, and say to the doctor: Come lie in the bed next to me, stick the pipes up your nose, and become sick just like me. Why? Why can't I join the doctor, instead of dragging him down to my illness? All these attempts to drag the world and force it to join Islam – as if we are living in heaven on Earth… We must take it one step at a time, but if we force the world to join Islam against its will, to pay the jizya poll tax in humiliation or face the sword and have its head chopped off – what will become of this world?
I'm talking about the big picture. 90% of the Muslims are Sunnis. Perhaps a little less – 85% I am focusing on the majority. The terrorism in the Philippines, in Pakistan, in India, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Morocco, in Iraq, and in Syria, and in the Gulf states – it is all Sunni terrorism. The Sunni terrorism is what worries me as a liberal. Iran's day will come. I don't think that it endangers my liberalism right now, even though my views are 180 degrees the other way from it.
I have no sympathy whatsoever [for the Iranian regime], but I do not think that the danger today lies in Shiite terrorism. We have Sunni terrorism, and the Shiite terrorism is like the icing on the cake.