and Muslim self-criticism:
An Arab journalist speaks out
London - published on 9 September
Beyond Images Ref: 107
In the aftermath of the Beslan school massacre, the following
article was published by prominent Arab journalist Ahmed Rahman
Al-Rashed in the pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. It
was also published on various news agency websites. Al-Rashed
is general manager of Al-Arabiya news channel.
In the article, Al-Rashed describes terrorists as the “end-product”
of a “deformed” Islamic culture. He calls for Muslim
societies to embark on self-criticism, and to end their “history
of denial” and their justifications for “heinous
Innocent Religion Is Now A Message of Hate
by Ahmed Rahman Al-Rashed
6 September 2004
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.
The hostage takers of children of Beslan, North Ossetia, were
Muslims. The other hostage-takers and subsequent murderers of
the Nepalese chefs and workers in Iraq were also Muslims. Those
involved in rape and murder in Darfur, Sudan, are Muslims, with
other Muslims chosen to be their victims.
Those responsible for the attacks on the residential towers
in Riyadh and Khobar were Muslims. The two women who crashed
two airliners last week were also Muslims.
Bin Laden is a Muslim. The majority of those who manned the
suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and
buildings, all over the world, were Muslim.
What a pathetic record. What an abominable “achievement”.
Does all this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies
and our culture?
These images, when put together, or taken separately, are shameful
and degrading. But let us start with putting an end to a history
of denial. Let us acknowledge this reality, instead of denying
them and seeking to justify them with sound and fury signifying
For it would be easy to cure ourselves if we realise the seriousness
of our sickness. Self-cure starts with self-realisation and
confession. We should then run after our terrorist sons, in
the full knowledge that they are the sour grapes of a deformed
Let us listen to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Sheikh – the
Qatar-based radical Egyptian cleric – and hear him recite
his “fatwa” about the religious permissibility of
killing civilian Americans in Iraq. Let us contemplate the incident
of this religious Sheikh allowing, nay even calling for, the
murder of civilians.
This ailing sheikh, in his last days, with two daughters studying
in “infidel” Britain, soliciting children to kill
How could this Sheikh face the mother of the youthful Nick
Berg, who was slaughtered in Iraq because he wanted to build
communication towers in that ravished country? How can we believe
him when he tells us that Islam is the religion of mercy and
peace while he is turning it into a religion of blood and slaughter?
In a different era, we used to consider the extremists, with
nationalist or Leftist leanings, a menace and a source of corruption
because of their adoption of violence as a means of discourse
and their involvement in murder as an easy short-cut to their
At that time, the mosque used to be a haven, and the voice
of religion used to be that of peace and reconciliation. Religious
sermons were warm behests for a moral order and an ethical life.
Then came the neo-Muslims. An innocent and benevolent religion,
whose verses prohibit the felling of trees in the absence of
urgent necessity, that calls murder the most heinous of crimes,
that says explicitly that if you kill one person you have killed
humanity as a whole, has been turned into a global message of
hate and a universal war cry.
We can’t call those who take schoolchildren as hostages
We cannot tolerate in our midst those who abduct journalists,
murder civilians, expode buses: we cannot accept them as related
to us, whatever the sufferings they claim to justify their criminal
deeds. These are the people who have smeared Islam and stained
We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful
fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise: an almost
exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women.
We cannot redeem our extremist youths, who commit all these
heinous crimes, without confronting the Sheikhs who thought
it ennobling to reinvent themselves as revolutionary ideologues,
sending other people’s sons and daughters to certain death
while sending their own children to European and American schools