Bassam Darwich / Nov 07, 2014

With the rise of savage terrorist attacks by Muslims in the West, it has become necessary for the governments of these countries to deal with this phenomenon in a more serious manner. Until now, most of the terrorist acts have been labeled workplace violence or mental illness. 

This approach in dealing with terrorism is perhaps best called the “ostrich policy.” 

Such folly has to change today, not tomorrow. If the West experiences another 9/11, or worse, citizens will never forgive their governments. 

The first step 

The very first and most important step is to start calling things by their correct names. One cannot treat a disease without first acknowledging and identifying it. 

The undisputable fact is that every Muslim terrorist attack that has taken place in Europe and America was stirred up by religious hatred. None of these acts can be categorized as work-related crime and none of the perpetrators can be described as mentally ill. To do so is nothing but self-deception, not to mention disrespect to the victims of terrorism. These acts and perpetrators must be labelled accurately: “Islamic terrorism” and “Muslim terrorists.” To avoid clear and straightforward terminology for terrorism is tantamount to treating cancer with an aspirin. 

The second step 

The second step is identifying the instigators, financiers, and facilitators of terrorism, as well as the places that harbor terrorists. All these must be called by their real names without equivocation or reservation.  

We are often told that most terrorists were radicalized online by Islamist organizations abroad. That is a half truth at best. Of the terrorists who carried out their savage attacks in the West, or were caught before they succeeded, every single one has attended one or more mosques in the West before they were recruited. Every one of them attended a mosque to pray and to listen to sermons and speeches by sheikhs or other lecturers. 

Had these mosques been true places of worship, had they preached tolerance and encouraged their congregants to love the country and people who welcomed them and provided them with all the rights and privileges they enjoyed, they could have influenced these would-be terrorists for positive good, could have drawn them from the path of terrorism. But the facts are to the contrary. Most sermons and lectures given in the mosques incite hatred for the West in general and Christians and Jews in particular. Preachers, either directly or indirectly, label Christians and Jews as infidels and the enemies of Islam. Therefore, as long as these mosques are allowed to continue with such invective, they will keep attracting these so-called “radicalized” individuals and will in fact reinforce their radicalization until they finally graduate as certified terrorists.    

All mosques in the Islamic countries are under the control and constant supervision of the governments, directly and indirectly. No imam dares to teach any ideology that does not reflect the policy of the government or promote any campaign that can be seen as a threat to the State or the society. 

In fact, no imam or lecturer can work or speak in an Islamic country without first receiving a special permit. The same should be true everywhere. Western governments must consider a similar process. They should require permits before anyone can speak in a mosque and the permit process should include a thorough background check. Moreover, special laws must be enacted to penalize the mosques and the speakers in the mosques to include the deportation of those who violate the laws. 

Let’s put it this way: If the governments of the Islamic countries fear the mosques and constantly monitor them, why should we be more tolerant of them? 

Some may object that we are different from the Islamic world in that we respect the freedom of religion and protect the freedom of speech. But let us not forget that terrorism is a threat not only to our security and economy; it is a threat to the very system that guarantees our religious, political and intellectual rights and our way of life. Therefore, regulating the mosques and monitoring their activities would not violate the rights of free speech or religion. Rather, such regulation would protect the very rights under which Muslims enjoy practicing their religion, rights they are afforded despite their religious teachings which contradict the values, laws and ethics of the civilized western world.  

These two steps would not bring an end to the Islamic terrorism in the West, but they are essential to clear the road ahead to make further steps to contain terrorism and eventually defeat it.

(This article is translated into Arabic)

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