Terrorists wage a war on life, everywhere
On May 26, masked gunmen lay in wait for buses carrying Coptic Christians south of the Egyptian capital, then opened fire and killed 24 people. It was the third attack since December on Egypt’s Copts, the Middle East’s largest and increasingly embattled religious minority.
And it was a grim reminder, if any were needed, that for jihadist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda and others, Islam’s holy month of Ramadan is not meant for piety but for carnage.
Barely a week ago, the Riyadh summit placed the fight against terrorism at the top of the global and regional agenda. A day later, a suicide bomber struck at the northern English city of Manchester, killing at least 22 people, including children. And then came the attack on the Copts in the Minya governorate.
The jihadists are waging war — on plurality and peaceful coexistence; on any and everyone who does not share their perverse view of Islam, of faith, of free will. It is a perpetual war on cultural and religious diversity and not a war between cultures. It is a senseless war on life itself.
The murdered children of Minya and Manchester have in common their innocence in the face of their assassins’ savagery.
This blood-soaked week amplified the message of the Riyadh summit. There is an urgent need for international resolve to fight terrorism. It cannot be left to the Arab and Muslim world alone. The problem is global, its effects are felt worldwide and playing the blame game is no solution. The battle will be long and the lessons from recent incidents underline the hard reality of the task.
Terrorism is no longer constrained by borders. This past week it was Egypt and the United Kingdom. Not too long ago, it was Arish in Egypt, Kirkuk in Iraq and Cross River State in Nigeria. Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Orlando, San Bernardino… The list of cities where terrorism has caused much blood and tears to be shed is long. Even so, as US President Donald Trump pointed out in Riyadh, Arabs and Muslims remain the main victims of terrorism.
The work of the new Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology, which is examined in this issue on page8, becomes even more important. The centre was inaugurated by Trump and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh but it can only succeed if it is replicated, perhaps even duplicated, around the world. One of its most important tasks is to uncover the roots of youth radicalisation and devise strategies to deactivate the rallying call of extremist recruiters.
While all of this continues apace, it is important not to lose hope. Despite the jihadists’ atrocities, for the vast majority of Muslims, Ramadan will remain a month of prayer and worship and of solidarity and empathy with the poor, the dispossessed and the disinherited. It will be a month of serenity and peace even as war is waged against the foot soldiers of evil.