Tuesday, September 07, 2004

An Arab Journalist Reflects on Islamic Terror

This is a surprisingly thoughtful and self-critical article coming from someone working for the BBC; it evinces a refreshing scepticism about the old "small minority" defense, and no attempt to justify terrorism on the basis of Western misdeeds, real or imagined.

A leading Saudi journalist has caused a stir by launching a scathing attack on Muslim clerics who justify the killing of innocent civilians in the name of jihad, or holy war.
In an editorial on the hostage crisis in Beslan, Abdelrahman al-Rashid, the managing director of the satellite channel al-Arabiyya, wrote: "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims."
He laid the blame for Islamist violence around the world on radical Muslim clerics, whom he accused of hijacking what is essentially a peace-loving and tolerant faith.

[............]

Mr Rashid's views are not new or unique. Several Arab writers have been calling on Arab societies to examine themselves and stop blaming external forces for their misfortunes.
But coming this time from a journalist as prominent as Mr Rashid they are likely to infuriate an Islamic public that is firmly convinced that that it is Muslims who are the victims of what many see as state-sponsored violence, whether it is in Chechnya, the occupied Palestinian territories, or in Algeria.
Mr Rashid's comments employ what has become a standard defence of the Muslim faith, namely, that the problem is not Islam itself, but a small number of Muslims.
That may very well be true as far as the number of Islamic militants go. But this analysis does not address the fact that radical clerics, like Mr Qaradwi, remain widely popular.
The problem of Islamist violence appears to go well beyond the views of a small, albeit influential, minority.
(emphasis added)
Oh glorious day! I never thought I'd live to see something like this from a BBC journalist: I guess it takes being of Arab descent oneself (as Magdi Abdelhadi seems to be) to have the freedom to say such things whilst in the employ of the Beeb. If only more of their reporters would follow suit, instead of engaging in contorted attempts to see "the other side" whenever some thug strikes in the name of Islam.