In the wake of continued demonstrations of terrorism of the worst kind by jihadist insurgents, ISIS, or Da’esh as is perhaps the more appropriate way of describing them, there has been a noticeable, and predictable, surge in anti-Muslim sentiment. This has come from the already stirring right-wing elements of European politics, as well as from individuals generally less interested in politics.
As those fighting Islamic State desperately struggle to balance maintaining liberty with ensuring security, we must remember that our individual liberty is at the centre of western cultural values; particularly in France and the United States. This means preventing a rash increase in surveillance capabilities, and tempering media focus on the culpability of Muslim communities.
ISIS’ recent attacks, as previously mentioned, have reinvigorated a right-wing political movement which has been growing in European states over the past few years. Framed by the xenophobic undercurrent which accompanies the recent migrant crisis in Europe, the effects of the attacks on Paris have put France on a war footing. This is likely to pave the way for Marine Le Pen and some of her right-wing European counterparts, Nigel Farage included, to campaign to slam the door shut on any hope of refuge for future asylum seekers.
Le Pen’s close advisor, and vice president of the Front National, Florian Philippot, after the Paris attack in November, said: “It is irresponsible to continue this welcoming of migrants, […] and this is a question that will be asked increasingly in coming weeks.” Le Pen’s niece, French MP, and FN member, Marion Marechal-Le Pen holds similar views: “Today, we can see that immigration has become favourable terrain for the development of Islamism,” she said. These statements reflect a larger sect of French and European opinion and the New York Times reports that Le Pen is likely to receive much more support for Presidential nomination after these attacks.
But what does this conservative rhetoric actually achieve?
Equating ‘mainstream’ Islam with ISIS is dangerous and risks the further marginalisation of Muslims; precipitating identity crises which lead directly to joining terror groups. Islam is continually marred by its conflation with extremist elements which claim it as their ideology, and believe it or not, it is the aim of Da’esh to cause this confusion.
The returnee European jihadists act in the name of Islam and under the name of Allah, but in reality, most of them, the individuals perpetrating the attacks, are not educated in Islamic theology, do not understand the classical Arabic script of the Qur’an and the Ahadith, and often engage in distinctly anti-Islamic practices, such as drinking alcohol, taking drugs, gambling, and listening to pop music; activities Islamic State abhors in Iraq and Syria as “vice”.
In fact, two of the Paris attackers were guilty of sin in the eyes of Allah.
- Salah Abdeslam, the only attacker who remains alive, was fined for possession of cannabis in February.
- Brahim Abdeslam, Salah’s brother, owned a bar in Molenbeek where he was frequently seen with his brother drinking alcohol, taking drugs, and dating women.
Some may argue that their involvement in jihad absolved them of their sin. This is no more than a perversion of Islamic scripture and confirmation of Mehdi Hasan’s claim that Islam is merely a justification framework for political goals.
To answer the question, all that intolerant, anti-Muslim, anti-immigration rhetoric achieves is to further marginalise Muslim communities and drive a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims. The increase of surveillance capabilities impinges on our liberty and individual freedoms and there is little evidence to suggest that doing so reduces the likelihood of terrorism. Some of the most repressive states, with extremely sophisticated security services which routinely watch their citizens, still suffer from terrorist attacks. Why reduce our individual liberties when IS already do that to their own subjects and want to extend that repression to all of us?
Da’esh wants us to fall apart, they want us to fight each other, and they want us to fight them at the same time. France’s declaration of war is the first stage of this process; the burgeoning conservatism of French and European politics is the second stage. The jihadists want a ‘clash of civilisations’ conflict against the world of non-Muslims (Dar al-Harb) in which the Maadi will return and exact moral retribution on those who do not believe.
‘Ordinary’ Muslims are not to blame for the development of IS. (If anything is its surely illegal western military conduct in the Middle East?) Neither are the millions of refugees seeking safety and liberty in Europe. If Le Pen and co. get their wishes, what do those people do? When Europe closes its borders and removes hope, who do the refugees turn to? The benevolence of ISIS?
In the face of so much hate, the citizens of Europe should must unite. It is the aim of IS to drive a wedge between Muslims and the West; especially during such an emotive period as the ongoing migrant crisis. The insinuation that one of the Paris attackers may have re-entered Europe as a refugee has fuelled the conservative fires; a reaction carefully and deliberately engineered by ISIS hierarchy. Muslim leaders around the world have united to condemn IS as Islam’s number one enemy and need to continue to strongly reproach them for their corruption. The UN needs to do to more force Assad to take responsibility and World Leaders need to encourage peace, not advocate and enact violence.
As with all insurgent warfare, there is rarely a straightforward response/solution. There is not a counter-insurgency strategy in the world sophisticated enough (or well enough resourced) to fight in the complex geo-political region of the Middle East. Particularly when the insurgent group is as volatile, unpredictable, and as uninhibited in its violence as is ISIS.
“To claim that Isis is Islamic is egregiously inaccurate and empirically unsustainable, not to mention insulting to the 1.6 billion non-violent adherents of Islam across the planet. Above all else, it is dangerous and self-defeating, as it provides Baghdadi and his minions with the propaganda prize and recruiting tool that they most crave.” – Mehdi Hasan.
Global Individuals recently posted: 22/08/16