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Saturday, December 6, 2008

No place to hide

No place to hide

Will we allow mainstream Islam to turn into a moderate fringe, while extremists take centre-stage?

By Aijaz Zaka Syed

December 01, 2008

Watching the terror nightmare unfold in Mumbai over the past three days on TV, my children have repeatedly asked me: “Who are these terrorists and why are they doing this?” And every time I wished I could offer them a convincing answer. I was clueless why these people had taken over Mumbai and were targeting people who had nothing to do with them. I was also ashamed to tell them that the terrorists were Muslims and came from a country that was created in the name of Islam.

At work, while my colleagues went about covering the madness in Mumbai and laying out pages with the images of the Taj Hotel with its Islamic arches and domes go up in smoke, I find it hard to look at them in the eye.

This happens all the time. Every time innocents are targeted in the name of Islam around the world, one can’t face one’s non-Muslim friends and colleagues. A distraught friend who has devoted her life to speaking and fighting on behalf of Arabs and Muslims wrote: “I’ve had it with the Arabs and Muslims and Islamic militancy. Forgive me but I am throwing in the towel.” I couldn’t write back to her. She grew up in Mumbai and is upset. She went on to say: “The Muslims and Islam have a problem and only they can solve it. If they do not, the whole world will turn against them.”

If this is how our most loyal friends feel, imagine the sentiments and reactions of the rest of the world. Can you blame the world if it’s turning against Muslims? What do you expect when not a day passes without the name of our faith being dragged through the mud by fellow believers around the world?

I know that Muslim leaders, including those in the highest echelons of power, have lately started speaking out against the extremists. The Darul Uloom Deoband in India, one of the oldest and most respected centres of learning in the Muslim world, issued a fatwa against terrorism at a large gathering of Islamic scholars in June. Last month, nearly 5,000 scholars backed the edict at a huge congregation in Hyderabad. The Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), and Saudi Arabia have, of late, been vehement in condemning these repulsive acts of violence targeting innocents. But clearly, we need to do more to be heard.

The great irony of the Mumbai attacks is the killing of ATS chief Hemant Karkare, a brave officer trying to establish the link between Hindu extremists and the Malegaon blasts. He was killed outside the Cama hospital on Wednesday night. Obviously, some Muslims do not know their friends from their enemies.

It’s all very well for us to say Islam has nothing to do with extremism and terrorism. We can go on deluding ourselves that these psychopaths do not represent us. However, the world finds it hard to accept this line of argument as it sees the extremists increasingly assert themselves and take the centre-stage while mainstream Islam turns into a moderate fringe.

Aijaz Syed is Opinion Editor, Khaleej Times

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=ca0ddccc-f725-4957-91c7-5ba0f568b371

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