Muslims Must Save Islam from Islamists
December 16, 2014
It seems there is no respite for the ordinary Muslim. Barely a day goes by when news of fresh atrocities by our coreligionists isn't in the headlines.
Most of the world's billion-plus Muslims wouldn't dream of killing in the name of Islam, but enough do to form a critical mass that has put us on a collision course with the rest of humanity.
The Sydney siege by an ISIS-inspired jihadist had barely ended when the horrific news of a Taliban massacre killing 140 children at a Pakistani school shocked the world.
It took place at an "Army Public School", inside a Pakistan cantonment on the edges of Peshawar. Many of the students who attended this elite school were the sons and daughters of Pakistan army officers.
Ironically, the Taliban barbarians who killed these children were a creation of the Pakistan military,aimed at controlling neighbouring Afghanistan as a satellite state.
Why did the Taliban strike at a military school?
Could it be retaliation for the recent Pakistan army campaign to expel the Taliban out of Pakistan and into Afghanistan?
That may be one reason.
But knowing the workings of the worldwide jihadist terror movement and the Islamists who sow its seeds in Islamic countries and the West, there is another: the Islamist's rejection of Western-style education systems.
The school attacked had boys and girls attending classes in what is referred to as a co-educational "English-medium" school.
The boys, smartly dressed in green blazers, white shorts and green neckties, reflect everything the Islamists despise.
And to be in the company of teenaged girls being educated at the same school would be seen as the worst of sins by those who promote Islamism, not just in Islamic countries but in Canada.
I suggest this is the "Boko Haramization" of the Pakistani jihadist movement that proclaims "western education is 'Haraam' (sinful)".
Not that the Taliban have any tolerance for educating girls —Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai being one their early victims — but this attack appears to have been aimed largely at teenaged boys.
Last month, Zahid Askani, an American-educated Baloch who ran a co-educational school, where boys and girls studied English and wore western-style jackets and neckties, was assassinated by suspected jihadist death squads with the reported backing of the military.
Massacres are not new to Pakistan, or its military.
In the last few years Pakistan's army intelligence wing has reportedly abducted and killed hundreds of students in the Baloch Students Organization (BSO) in Balochistan who support an indigenous independence movement.
Just a day after an ISIS-sympathizer took hostages in Sydney, Australia, leading to his own death and that of two innocent civilians, the tragedy of Peshawar provides another opportunity for Muslims to recognize we have a serious problem that only we can correct.
Muslims who claim the actions of the Taliban or ISIS are not Islamic must match this rhetoric by coming together and calling for a strict separation between Islam and politics. They must renounce armed jihad as unfit for our age.
If they don't, we will all be tarred by the actions of those who kill in the name of Islam and Allah.
The hashtag on Twitter by an Australian woman expressing solidarity with Muslims, #Illridewithyou, may please us, but it will not save us from the proverbial Dante's Inferno.
Only we can do that, no one else.
Tarek Fatah is a founder of theMuslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, host of a Sunday afternoon talk show on Toronto's NewsTalk1010 AM Radio, and a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.
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