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Muslim terrorism -Jihad in the service of Islamism or justifiable revenge?

Reader comment on item: Jihad through History

Submitted by Guy (Israel), Jun 1, 2005 at 16:54

The nature of Jihad, and jihad as the tactic for implementing Islamism are interesting points.

However, I feel that this brings up an additional important point in understanding terrorism -a point I feel is unfortunately avoided in our politically correct western culture - the issue of a cultural clash based on different moral value systems.

Muslims and Arabs around the world cheered when the twin towers fell on 9/11- and collectively their societies did not reject this basic act of random mass murder of non combatants. The reason is that in Arab and many Muslim societies - it is morally accepted to demand justice "collectively". In these tribal based societies the concept of collective responsibility, direct justice and revenge formulate a moral code that is different than ours.

In western society, notions of justice and revenge are individual. We hold perpetrators of wrong individually accountable. In the Arab world on the other hand there is "group accountability" so that it is morally acceptable (and indeed expected) to demand satisfaction from a family or tribal member of a perpetrator of wrongdoing. This is repeatedly and almost daily demonstrated in the numerous acts of collective violence aimed at different groups in the Arab and Muslim world. Guilt is assumed by association, and thus collective violence is justifiable revenge.

Herein lies the basic difference: 9/11 and other acts we find abhorrent and define as "terrorism" are seen as acts of "justifiable revenge" in the Arab and Muslim world.

The perpetrators of 9/11 (and other countless acts) are not viewed as criminals, deviants, or anti-social elements. They were socially conscious educated professionals acting out of moral conviction. They had "done the right thing" so to speak - in the eyes of their respective societies.

The danger of Islamism is not that it is an ideology intending to expand or replace others. Many religions seek to expand and some actively proselytize. The danger is in Muslim society whose moral value systems support collective violence and murder. This allows for tactics we in the west recognize as terrorism.

Conflicts between societies are common, the way the each society handles conflict or perceived injustice is dependant on its' moral values. The Hindus responded to British Imperialism with Gandhi, African Americans in the USA fought injustice with Martin Luther King, Muslims have responded with terrorism as defined by Osama bin laden, Yasser Arafat and others.

The source of violence is not in a religious persuasion - it is a result of what the societies from within which violence originates will support based on their code of moral values.
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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