Books can provide ammunition for terrorism

There is no doubt that huge amounts of money fund the spawning processes of Islamist terrorism.
Sunday 20/01/2019
A Moroccan woman places a flower during a vigil for the two Scandinavian hikers outside the Danish Embassy in Rabat, last December. (AFP)
Sympathy is not enough. A Moroccan woman places a flower during a vigil for the two Scandinavian hikers outside the Danish Embassy in Rabat, last December. (AFP)

The vile and horrible rape and killing of the two Scandinavian young women last December in the mountainous outskirts of Marrakech, Morocco, defies all dictionaries in all languages for the right word that befits such beastly, sick acts.

The Marrakech killings invite all of us as representatives of the cultural and creative elites to ponder this pathology deeply. We need to re-examine the many issues that drove some so-called Muslims to such levels of savagery. We must have the courage to expose the ideological backgrounds of such pathological acts and to bear our historical and philosophical responsibilities of freely investigating the spawning farms of this type of terrorism.

There is no doubt that huge amounts of money fund the spawning processes of Islamist terrorism, which require the presence of money-laundering operations to operate. As important as funding is, however, what is even more essential to these processes is the presence of the appropriate market for terrorist thinking and ideas.

Obviously, in the case of Islamist terrorism, the bottomless ideological well feeding terrorism is the sizeable number of so-called Islamic heritage books that circulate among readers from younger generations and encourage and even justify terrorist practices in the name of religion.

As long as the enlightened and secular elites in the Maghreb, Arab and Islamic countries keep silent or do not dare call things by their names, successive generations of Muslims will remain submerged in the ammunition of Islamist terror — these deadly old books.

If enlightened and creative elites do not find the individual and collective intellectual courage to denounce and condemn the ideological frames that many of these books preserve and diffuse, despicable acts of violence will continue to be carried out in the name of Islam.

The enlightened elites of the Maghreb, Arab and Islamic world must muster the strongest intellectual determination to critically examine, revise and classify Islamic tradition and jurisprudence books according to their danger potential and according to our need for them.

They must have the intellectual audacity to call for a ban on some of them, especially those that clearly call for “war,” “conquest” and “jihad” and that reject the idea of “living together in peace” and the idea of sharing the God symbol of all that is good, of happiness and justice.

They need to make sure that these books never reach the hands of young Arab readers or those of young Muslims in Europe, the United States and Asia.

If the elites fail or prove unable to achieve that then, frankly, they would be acting like someone who is trying to shield himself from sunlight by using a sieve.

There is a terrifying arsenal of books that, taken together, would represent a virtual factory running day and night, 365 days a year, to carry out brainwashing operations and incite new generations to venture into the culture of death and boycott the culture of life. Many of these books are labelled “sacred,” even though they were produced by human beings, who can make mistakes. The authors, for their most part, were jurists who lived at the mercy and in the service of a bloody political authority.

If we do not stop reprinting many of these terrorist books that hide behind a selection of the Prophet’s sayings, regardless of the degrees of authenticity of them, and which found their places among the fundamental references of Islamic jurisprudence and the main tools for forming the brains and souls of modern-day believers, such as Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, and some other books of history and Sunnah such as Tabari’s book, we will never break this vicious circle of reproducing extremism.

If we fail to rid our schools and children of these books, we won’t be able to live in peace and security and the world around us won’t be able to deal with us in terms of modern values and mutual interest.

If we cannot save our libraries from these books, which are killing weapons in the hands of their readers, we will continue to create new hatcheries for terrorism with each new library built.

If we cannot rid our mosques of these books of “fear” and “hatred,” we won’t produce believers who are also citizens instead of producing believers who are also kamikazes ready to plant terrorism and kill.

If we cannot do so, out of our sense of responsibility as enlightened intellectuals and thinkers whose main role is to counter these ideas of death and ruin, then what happened in Marrakech will happen again and again in any city or village where a library, a mosque or a school provides these books.

If, out of respect for freedom of opinion and freedom of expression or out of fear of being accused of Islamophobia, we fail to counter these deadly tides then we might as well be part of the next rape crime. We might as well be the knife that slaughters the next Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or secular tourist.

Silence is complicity in murder.

Those who killed the two Scandinavian tourists in Morocco were leaning on the contents of those poisonous books and on our silence.