Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sources of Terror

The Times of London has an essay on the Sources of Terror that looks at the success in rounding up the bomb suspects of 7/21 and the laying down of arms by the IRA this week.
...One reason for the IRA statement is that since the events of September 11 the world has changed profoundly. Terrorism is being seen for what it really is right across the West.
...
The IRA campaign of violence is another victim of Osama Bin Laden’s global jihad. The atrocities perpetrated by the Islamists, who seem increasingly to resemble the bizarre cults that have emerged in the West in recent decades, put politically motivated terror beyond the pale. There is a big gorilla on the block now and the monkeys are suing for peace.


An interesting note in the essay reads,
In the inquest that will go on after the atrocities of July 7, we should not forget that successive governments have played a role in fostering this alienation. Not only were the alleged July 21 bombers given sanctuary by Britain, but they went on to become part of our entrenched underclass. They failed in education, one was imprisoned and almost all lived off benefits. As social mobility has eroded in Britain, they turned to a corrupted Islam as their escape route.


This is indubitably true, yet one fears that this is a problem both of the personal and the political spheres. All other things being equal, why did Person X adopt one way and Person Y another?

Is there a Faculty X that predisposes men to evil?

On a similar note, Pakistan President Musharraf's decision to expel all the foreign students in Pakistan's madrasas has raised the concern, not unreasonable, that this is unfair to those interested in a spiritual pursuit and study of Islam. Furthermore, one might ask, why not root out the 'bad 'uns', students or seminaries? Even better, modernize these so-called seats of learning? What Pakistan and the Islamic world needs is not more scholars of the hadith, but more scientists, engineers, doctors and thinkers. Islam once in history held the torch while others floundered in the dark. Things are quite different today, for manifold historical reasons. President Musharraf could spearhead a new Islamic Revolution, a great leap forward, as it were, for the Islamic world, and create a center of excellence for all the world.

The Daily Times of Pakistan cautions that the moves may not be enough
...One does not need to marshal arguments to prove that there can be no modern, progressive Pakistan while the country has a parallel, medieval and millenarian streak running through it.However, having said this, we need to put the new measures in a perspective.

First, and let this come as no surprise, some of these measures are not new. Banning extremist organisations, arresting their leaders and streamlining and registering seminaries, are measures the government decided to take, with no less fanfare, back in 2002. Since then, their implementation has been the story of inefficiency and selectivity.


A truly insightful comment in the Daily Times editorial reads, referring to the private madrasas,
The sanctity of a private entity is directly proportional to the good that the entity can produce in a society. It does not mean freedom from regulation to do things that are patently against accepted or legal norms of behaviour or, as in this case, obviously murderous and criminal.

Not all terrorists come from the seminaries. But there is enough evidence to suggest that some seminaries have a dubious character on that count. Moreover, nearly all seminaries produce students with sectarian biases and narrow, particularistic ideologies. So it makes sense to tackle the problem in all its aspects.
....
the real problem in the longer run lies with the nature of the state itself. That brings us to other facets of the problem about which General Musharraf remains quiet. The problem, as it stands, has been the creation of his constituency. While he might want to move against the seminaries, he is not prepared to put the army in its correct place within the polity. Neither has he shown any desire to link up with regular, mainstream parties.


President Musharraf, make the Islamic Renaissance happen!

Also: Enlightened Moderation for Dummies

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