Lessons From the Terror Tragedy in Norway

Tuesday, 26 Jul 2011 05:16 PM

By Tawfik Hamid

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The recent terror act in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik is, without a doubt, a heinous and evil act. This attack cannot be ignored as it may herald the very early stages of civil wars in Europe. At the same time, what conclusions does it merit?

The attack illustrates the reality that deranged individuals can justify acts of terror by hyperdevotion to any belief system. At the same time, the attack does not merit equating this heinous act by one individual with Islamic terrorism.

While acts of violence against innocents all wreak similar havoc, from a quantitative point of view the Norwegian tragedy and Islamic terrorism are incomparable. Worldwide Islamic terror acts number in thousands while the number of political extremist and/or Christian terror acts can be counted on one’s own fingers.

Western resources for fighting terrorism must be directed in proportion to the real magnitude of the problem.

The purpose of Islamic terrorism is jihad, that is, the establishment of Islamic dominance. By contrast, the Norway terror act was focused on a defensive concern, the spread of Islamic populations throughout Norway who live by rules that are contrary to Western values.

Why was Breivik so concerned about Islam more than other religions? Why did he not see a threat to his culture from other faiths such as Buddhism or Hedonism?

As with most paranoid ideologies, Breivik’s fears might have a kernel of rationality. Islamic Shariah laws oppress women, limit religious freedom, and promote using violence to spread the faith.

The value system on which these laws are based directly contradicts Western values of equal rights for women, religious tolerance for all faiths, and peaceful co-existence with, rather than domination over, others who are different.

Islamic orientation toward dominance has become an invasive species that could choke off Norway’s culture of tolerance. While Breivik’s methods were abominable, his concerns may be seen by many as having an element of validity.

Western values with regard to tolerance actually have been constraining European and American ability to correctly diagnose a growing danger. To stop an extreme allergic reaction such as the response of Breivik, the West must open its eyes to correctly identify and counter the allergen itself.

A recent NY Times Op-Ed has suggested that the attacker could have been influenced by U.S. authors who have exposed the dangers of Islamic values. The problem, however, is not the messenger but rather the phenomenon itself.

Hatred toward Islam could be engendered by merely observing the facts on the ground: the nonassimilation by Islamic populations of European values, and by-contrast Shariah-inspired beheadings, amputations of body parts, hanging gays, honor killings, and stoning of humans until death.

Rather than blaming writers such as Robert Spencer for exposing the realities of Shariah law, we need to address the failure of the Muslim world to modernize its theology. Until Muslim religious leaders explicitly reject inhumane Shariah laws, negative reactions toward Islam and its teachings are inevitable.

Alas, apologists for radical Islam describe Islam and its Shariah Law — which promotes the formerly mentioned violent values — as “peaceful.” This irrationality invites other forms of irrationality. The latter may occasionally manifest itself as extreme reactions in emotionally unstable people like Breivik.

The denial of the realities of Islamic Shariah teachings invite those like Breivik to commit dramatically violent acts to draw attention to the threats that he, to an unfortunately large extent, perceives. If we truly want to stop the rising of more irrational behaviors against Islam we need first of all to stop irrationality in dealing with the problem.

To conclude, Islamic terrorism is still radically more prevalent and pervasively more dangerous that the ranting and violence of a lone Breivik. Modifying mainstream Islamic teachings by providing new interpretations that reject anti-female, anti-gay, anti-tolerance, anti-equality, and pro-violent elements of Shariah Law would be an appropriate response by the Muslim community to Anders Behring Breivik’s violence.

Finally, Islamic apologists need to stop their irrationality in addressing Islamic Shariah to stop the development of other forms of irrationalities that may turn into violent reactions.






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