I’m not responsible for the Paris attacks or ISIS and neither is my religion ~ Jahangir Mohammed, 5 Pillars, 16th November 2015.
Like most people, I’m shocked and saddened by the events in Paris. My thoughts are with the victims and families of this horrific crime. But I’m not surprised. Some things are inevitable and predictable, writes Jahangir Mohammed of the Centre for Muslim Affairs.
If you go around the world inflicting violence on other people sooner or later it comes back to you. You don’t need security experts and complex theories of extremism and radicalisation to understand that. Even a schoolchild in a playground understands that simple logic.
At a time when people are suffering I don’t like to discuss causes of violence. However the reaction of the media, politicians and so-called experts pointing the finger at Muslims and Islam as if we are all somehow to blame requires a response, otherwise it will lead to more laws targeting Muslim communities and more Western violence in Muslim lands.
Western moral and political superiority
Like many Muslims I am dismayed by Western commentators and politicians use of language like “act of war,” “our values” and “moral and political superiority” in response to these crimes. This only serves is to fuel anger amongst younger Muslims who with social media have access to information and are aware of greater crimes committed in the region by Western politicians.
Muslims refer to one million Algerians massacred in the war of independence by the civilised French. We also recall the 1992 democratic Algerian elections won by FIS who were prevented from forming government by a French-aided and backed military junta.
Had the Algerian people been allowed to develop their own political destiny we might not have had thousands of alienated and disenfranchised young Algerians with little hope in France looking to Syria for a future.
When Western commentators talk of political violence committed by other groups they blame the specific group responsible for the act. But when it comes to Muslim groups committing political violence they blame “Islamists” and “Jihad” as a whole.
To be clear, this act was claimed by ISIS. They alone are to blame for it. It should be called “ISIS violence or terrorism,” nothing else. Muslims in the West bear no responsibility for it.
When politicians and experts talk about the rise of right-wing extremist groups in Europe, they look to causes such as too much immigration, pressure on public services, and lack of jobs for indigenous people. But violence emanating from the Muslim world is presented as having no cause, it is the result of bad theology, or pure evil.
So my question to any right-minded person in any country is this: How would your people behave if they had to endure what the people of Iraq have endured?
35 years of war and violence in Iraq
Western leaders have been engaged in war in Iraq for the last 35 years.
From 1980 – 1988 the West, backed, aided and abetted Saddam Hussein in a 8 year war against Iran which cost a million lives. This left Iraq impoverished leading Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait. Western and Arab intervention (including Syria) allied to remove him in the First Gulf War 1990-1991. The Iraqi people once again lost their sons and their country’s infrastructure was destroyed.
With a humiliating ceasefire, what followed was another decade of economic impoverishment, crippling sanctions in which 500,000 children are said to have lost their lives. During this time there was constant use of air power to downgrade and destroy the Iraqi State and infrastructure.
Having sufficiently weakened Iraq, Western politicians decided to invade and take over Iraq again. This time they destroyed more infrastructure so their companies could rebuild and profit from them. The occupiers also lit the fires of sectarianism by allowing one community to retain their militias and weapons and put them in power.
So one community is disempowered, impoverished, unprotected, whilst the other is empowered. The occupation has wreaked grotesque violence and torture on the civilian population of Iraq by all sides’ occupiers, governments, as well as armed militias/groups.
In 35 years the people of Iraq have been subject to the most grotesque violence using the most sophisticated instruments of death invented by man. They have been robbed of their resources, brutalised, violated and lost their people and children in the millions not hundreds. Their modern infrastructure and way of life has been completely destroyed.
In Europe we get the rise of extremists groups even if it’s perceived there are too many immigrants coming into the country. Is it therefore any surprise if something like ISIS with extreme ideas and violence has emerged from the rubble of Iraq?
Saddam Hussain was a dictator and committed the most heinous crimes. However, some of his last words were prophetic. When he was cursed to go to Hell by those taunting him, he responded with “you mean the Hell that is Iraq.”
He was right. Iraq has become Hell for people there. ISIS is the product of the Hell created by the West.
Western politicians often tell us that ISIS and their beliefs are evil and no doubt they carry out acts that are evil but I say this to all politicians: their values and evil emerged from the Hell you have created in Iraq. Don’t create Hell on earth for people and expect to find angels there.
The violence of ISIS and in the region is your handiwork. It is a reflection of your values of violence, warfare, sectarianism that you implanted in Iraq.
Bad theology or bad reality?
The theories of extremism, and radicalisation that the West have created to target all Muslims for political violence are misguided and rooted in historical anti-Muslim sentiments articulated during the Middle Ages that sought to overlook their own violent Crusades and focus on retaliatory Jihad and theology.
After creating such intolerable conditions for the people of Iraq and Palestine (over 60 years now), and Afghanistan (40 years) the West points to bad theology or Jihad or Islamism as the cause, just as they did in history.
The cause of Muslim political violence is not bad theology it is bad or political reality.
In the mid 1980’s Paris was also hit by bomb attacks and plane hijackings. This political violence was blamed on Hezbollah and had to do with the reality of political change and war in Lebanon and Iran. Today they are secure and don’t need to attack the West to achieve their political goals.
All political violence – even that of ISIS – has political goals and objectives.
So I do not feel the need take responsibility for or condemn what took place in Paris. I am not responsible for it, I did not encourage it, nor do I support it.
The act condemns itself. If I do condemn that, I also need to condemn our own government for the hell they have created in Iraq. I am also not responsible for that either.
What I am responsible for is to help bring peace and security amongst communities in this country and places like Iraq and Syria. To do that Islam requires that I speak the truth to those in power and others, but with strength and courage, even though they may dislike it.
Islam did not produce ISIS, decades of Western violence and interference did. The more violence that is committed, supported by the West in the Muslim world the more it will come back home.