OPINION: From Manchester to Minya, terrorism wins and we lose



Sat, 27 May 2017 - 01:40 GMT


Sat, 27 May 2017 - 01:40 GMT

Moataz Abdelfatah

Moataz Abdelfatah

Dozens have been killed in Upper Egypt’s Minya, as well as, Manchester in the UK in an active week for terrorist groups.

Let us examine the following map that demonstrates the major terrorist attacks during the month of May:

May 26 - Minya shooting (Egypt)
May 26 - Kandahar attack 2 (Afghanistan)
May 25 - Assassination attempt of the former Greek Prime Minister (Greece)
May 23 – Homs attack (Syria)
May 23 - Kandahar attack 1 (Afghanistan)
May 23 - Manchester Arena bombing (Britain)
May 21 – Mosul attacks (Iraq)
May 21 – Zabul attack (Afghanistan)
May 21 - Deir Ezzor attack (Syria)
May 20 – Baghdad and Basra blasts (Iraq)
May 20 – Libya airbase attack (Libya)
May 15 - Red Cross employees abducted (Mali)
May 11 – Tribesmen killed in Sinai (Egypt)
May 9 – Hawija executions (Iraq)
May 5 - Boko Haram attack (Chad)

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Additionally, a Tunisian court on May 4 sentenced two people to death and 16 others to jail terms for acts of terrorism in 2014. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised on May 16 against all travel to four areas in Tunisia due to probable incidents of terrorism.

Yemen, Syria and Iraq have been in civil wars that go beyond terrorism in the quality and quantity of violence and use of force. What can we make out of this map and all what we have learned about terrorism and terrorists?

First, terrorist acts are significantly increasing in the number of incidents and spreading further throughout the globe.
Second, terrorists are getting more vicious, better prepared and less deterred.
Third, most acts of terrorism are perpetrated by extremist Islamists.
Fourth, most Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are extremist Islamists.
Fifth, most of the countries where terrorist attacks occur are countries with Muslim majorities.
Sixth, the majority of the victims of extreme Islamists’ terrorist attacks are Muslims.
Seventh, a new term should be coined, and widely used to be more vivid in describing the association between Islam versus terrorism. Extreme Islamist Terrorists (EITs) would spare us confusing Islam as a religion, and peaceful Muslims as the majority of the followers of Islam with EITs.
Eighth, there is no way to be a terrorist without being an extremist beforehand. Killing innocent people by any means requires a process of demonization of others first.
Ninth, Western countries that pay lip service to democracy and liberalism usually assume that allowing extremists to flourish and expand is part of their duty to preserve freedom of expression and freedom of association. Their main assumption is that terrorism is not necessarily associated with extremism. Yet, there is no terrorist who has not first caught the virus of extremism.
Tenth, some students of democratic theory (e.g., Robert Dahl) maintain that one way to fight terrorism: to have a political system of Inclusive Democracy. Ostensibly, this is not necessarily supported by empirical evidence. The Tunisian experience is a case at hand. The Muslim Brotherhood competes in elections and exists openly in society;yet, Tunisia suffers from EITs, as all the other Arab societies, even if they are less democratic and less inclusive of Islamic movements.

Bearing in mind the abovementioned considerations, what should be done?
My point of concern is what the Egyptian government should do. Egypt has embarked on a war against terrorism since President Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981. As a country that gave birth to the Muslim Brotherhood and most EITs, the campaign against terrorism has become a steady policy of the successive Egyptian administrations. With a mixed bag of successes and failures, Egypt is currently expanding its vision to adopt a fresh vision with three components:

First, cracking down on extremism is an integral part of fighting it. In other words, it is pointless to wage a war against terrorists without waging a war against terrorism and its causes. The Egyptian president has repeatedly called upon Islamic scholars to look critically at the religious discourse and how it might be misused to justify violence.

Second, somebody’s terrorists are somebody’s agents. Terrorism is not just a reflection of a dialectical intellectual process. It is funded, harbored, supported and defended by certain countries. Egypt’s media circles usually refer to Qatar and Turkey as the key caretakers of terrorism in the whole region through their affiliation and support for Islamist movements.

Third, Egypt will use all the necessary means to deter terrorist acts meant to disrupt social peace and the political process, protect civilians under imminent threat of a physical attack, and maintain law and order. Using force against terrorists in Libya on May 26 is perceived by Egypt as an act of legitimate self-defense, according to Article 51 of the United Nations’ charter that states, “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.”

Simply put, if terrorism is a collective threat, it has to be fought collectively. Egypt is shouldering its responsibility and working on its duties. Who cares to join?



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