Belfast Telegraph

War and death are the only options, when no one has the courage to speak

By Adam Walker

Over the past two weeks the world has been witness to a series of terrorist attacks.

Though not confirmed, there are strong indications to suggest that terrorists were behind the tragic murder of 224 people returning to Russia from Egypt.

On Wednesday more than 40 people were tragically murdered in a double suicide attack on a Beirut suburb. Only a day passed and at least 129 more innocent people lost their lives in the Paris attacks.

Sadly, there have been many more similar attacks this month.

A quick glance at social media websites immediately brings to light the enormous human and emotional impact of these attacks. The world has been at war for more than a century and the bloodshed continues into the abyss. Thankfully, digital platforms have brought our collective consciousness and empathy closer to the suffering of others.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired; exhausted by the constant hate that perpetuates violence and ultimately leads to mass displacement and bloodshed.

My fatigue is made all the more heavy by the narratives and counter-narratives of left and right wing commentators. The far left is happy to cross the hazardous road confronting us with their eyes closed and fingers crossed, hoping that we won’t be hit.

Conversely, an increasingly growing right would have us bulldoze the road, with no care for collateral damage or future implications. Both approaches lack a clear sense of justice.

As we have already witnessed in the hours following the Paris attacks, the coming days and weeks will be filled with talk of war being our only option and that Islam is the enemy we must destroy.

Indeed, these harrowing sentiments were echoed in the words of former CIA Director, Jim Woolsey, on Friday night's BBC News, when, quoting Trotsky, he ended his interview with the words: 'You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.' And the ‘down with Islam’ line was ratcheted up by Douglas Murray in his impulsive reaction to the Paris attacks: ‘Will David Cameron, Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel once again claim that this has 'Nothing to do with Islam'?’  

I have written in the past about the fact that the There's nothing 'Islamic' about Isis: The Koran, whose message Isis butcher at every turn, instructs Muslims to protect the religious freedoms of others. Moreover, that peaceful Muslims -that's the majority- are not in denial about their religion, but instead know very well that they adhere to a religion of peace.

So rather than restate the same arguments, perhaps it is better that I echo some of the rational statements of hope that are spread across the social media.

Many would have us believe that grotesque groups such as ISIL and Al Qaeda are clear proof that Islam is an inherently violent religion.

However, there are living indicators all around us that seriously throw doubt upon this premise. For example, the question remains as to why Muslims living in North Africa and Asia still adhere to Islam when, like the victims and their families of Friday's Paris attacks, they have suffered greatly at the hands of Muslim terrorists?

Although estimating fatality numbers is always problematic, some estimates place the numbers of those murdered in conflict zones such as Syria at 300,000, Algeria at 200,000, Iraq at more than 150,000, Afghanistan at 90,000, and Egypt and Libya in the tens of thousands.

With a heart-wrenching figure of well over half a million people killed, the number deaths would be the equivalent of an entire European city being wiped out. With casualty figures this high, I dare not even contemplate the number of casualties.

So what of those who survived; who witnessed first-hand the barbarism of political Muslim ideology. A staggering 10 million plus have been internally displaced or had to flee to other countries as refugees.

Many were forced to traverse the most horrific physical and emotional stormy waters in order to flee their homelands. Yet why is it that they still hold fast to their faith, when many would have us believe that ''pure Islam'' is the cause of their suffering?

Clearly, Muslim populations across the world are acutely aware of the suffering and mayhem reaped by extremists. Equally as manifest is the fact that the very same Muslims do not recognise the theo-political doctrines and hate espoused by terrorists as belonging to the true tenets of Islam. And in proving this reality, they have given their land, health, wealth, and lives in their opposition to political extremism.

If not, then why would they have chosen to fight extremists or to flee their homelands? If the Islam that they hold to be true is the same as the rotten perversion of Islam espoused by ISIL, then would they not have joined ISIL?

Had that been the case then tens of thousands of ISIL members in Syria would be more than ten million and ISIL's flag would be flying over Damascus. 

Governments have a responsibility to take every legal step necessary in protecting their citizens. Likewise, humankind also has a collective responsibility to denounce and oppose cruelty in all its evil guises. However, at present our swords are unsheathed and, for many, war is only a minute away. While many can drop bombs and fire bullets, few have the will to sit around a table, with sincerity and honesty, and fight for justice.

Therefore, until we can learn to speak to one another free of prejudice and self-interest, there only exists the remotest opportunity for a just world to prevail. And until we realise that a won over heart is worth a thousand bent heads, we will continue on our current ‘MAD’ trajectory of mutually assured destruction.

Adam Walker researches the classical Islamic world and contemporary Muslim diaspora. He is a frequent commentator on social affairs and religion in the British media and author of the award-winning publication: 'Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God.'

Twitter: @adamwalkergb

More from Adam Walker

Extremism can never be defeated by eradicating our right to think, even if those thoughts offend others 

Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them — and it's bad news for critics of Islam 

There's nothing 'Islamic' about Isis: The Koran, whose message Isis butcher at every turn, instructs Muslims to protect the religious freedoms of others

Pakistan aids persecution of Ahmadi Muslims by extremists

Muslims have been standing against apostasy laws for a century

Dear Boko Haram, you know nothing of Islam

The truth will set you free not an offensive comic

The right to free speech: Just because we can do something, it does not mean that we should do it

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