Militant political Islam represents big threat
The attack on London’s Houses of Parliament on March 22nd is just the latest in a long line of incidents in the Western world. It was not surprising that the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed a tenuous link to the attack.
It appears that Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British-born Muslim convert, was inspired by radical Islamism to perpetrate his violent attack.
There is no doubt that militant political Islam represents a big threat to the safety of people all over the world. It is a sad fact that many of the victims of the attacks are Muslim themselves. This cannot be in accordance with any sane interpretation of the doctrines of Islam.
Masood does not fit the stereotype of a jihadist fighter. In the recent past, such characters as Mohammed Emwazi, more popularly known as Jihadi John, have been young men, obviously disaffected with life in the West.
These men yearn for more purpose and direction in their lives. They want a big cause and feel they have found this cause in promoting radical Islam.
In London, we have many people who have been radicalised, not only in their mosques but also by messages that proliferate on the internet celebrating the jihadist’s life.
London itself is a city known for its pluralism and diversity. It is also known as a hotbed of radical activity, encouraged by militant forms of Islam.
It is widely known, for example, that London has acted as a headquarters for the Muslim Brotherhood for many years now, if not decades.
It is now more necessary than ever for the British government to continue and deepen its commitment to a tough stance against jihadism, wherever it raises its head.
Many Londoners now yearn for greater security against the criminal and often lethal activities of jihadists and religious extremists who use the excuse of religion to justify barbaric, inhuman acts.
British Prime Minister Theresa May was right when she spoke in the House of Commons: “A terrorist came to the place where people of all nationalities and cultures gather to celebrate what it means to be free. And he took out his rage indiscriminately against innocent men, women and children.”
She was careful not to describe the acts as “Islamic terrorism”. What many of us who have experience of the region have found is that it is very difficult to separate such acts of terror from the ideological and political basis by which they are justified.
It was significant that ISIS quickly claimed credit for the March 22nd attack. A statement published by the group’s Amaq propaganda agency said a “soldier of the Islamic State” had carried out the atrocity at the Houses of Parliament.
We cannot distinguish that readily between different types of political Islam. It is difficult to draw the kinds of distinctions between all kinds of Islamist groups.
Some supporters of political Islam genuinely seek democratic mandates. Others feel that democracy is illegitimate. A small minority repudiate all forms of political engagement and seek power solely through the sword.
This small minority has been largely responsible for terrorist outrages in the West. The Bataclan attack in Paris, the attacks in Berlin and Nice and the most recent assault on the British Parliament are the results of a sick ideology that defines itself as seeking an Islamic Caliphate. They appeal to Islamic principles to justify their sick actions.
We all know that their approach is a total distortion of the Islamic faith, but they espouse in violent terms the cause of political Islam. Their goals are the same as those of the Muslim Brotherhood, even though their methods may be different.
It is safer perhaps to be sceptical of political Islam in general than to draw difficult and arbitrary lines between the myriad forms that this ideology assumes.