Rally Muslims as well to fight terrorism

By Wen Zongduo ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-11-21 08:29:39

With world leaders rallying to combat the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, many people in the West, especially politicians in the United States, have quickly taken a hard line against Muslims.

The US House of Representatives rushed through a vote on Thursday to erect high hurdles for Syrian and Iraqi refugees coming to American shores. US presidential candidates Ben Carson and Donald Trump, both from the Republican camp, have done more. Carson is not backing away from his earlier remark that Muslims should be disqualified from the US presidency. Trump has reiterated he would rather confine the refugees within their own country after having controversially dodged a supporter's question indicating US President Barack Obama was a Muslim.

As these two candidates are Republican frontrunners in the campaign polls, their words could be representative of and even influence public sentiment. Carson's business manager, Armstrong Williams, has said many Americans share Carson's views about Islam and Muslims. Maryann Riley, 79, the head of a local Republican women's club, was quoted by The Times website as saying: "I think he's (Carson) right about Muslims." The senior social worker argued: "They don't share our values."

On the other side of the Atlantic British media have reported declining public support for Syrian refugees. These sentiments reflect the Western world's shock at last week's bloody attacks in Paris that claimed 129 lives.

But while mourning the dead and sympathizing with the survivors, the world should remind itself that deadly explosions take place almost everyday in Iraq or other places in the Middle East. It is sad that victims of terrorism in non-Western countries are mentioned only in passing, if at all, by most Western media outlets and evoke little outrage simply because they are seen as not sharing the values of the West.

The truth is Muslim communities have been among the worst-hit victims of the IS and other terrorist groups. In India, Asaduddin Owaisi, president of the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen party, was quoted by The Hindu on Tuesday as saying the IS group has killed close to 150,000 Muslims. In Kosovo the next day, visiting King Abdullah II of Jordan emphasized the IS group had claimed a high number of Muslims as victims.

Terrorist militants and jihadi suicide bombers are destroying not only people's lives in Syria and Iraq but also their hopes for the future, driving millions to join the ranks of refugees within and across national borders.

But experts have said the Pandora's box in the Middle East was opened by the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the hanging of its leader Saddam Hussein, which sparked sectarian violence and led to IS group's subsequent rise.

Only US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has openly said the world would be better off today if not for the US invasion of Iraq, which he cited on Thursday as an infamous example of ill-conceived military decisions that "can wreak far-reaching devastation and destabilization over regions for decades".

Mirroring the past helps find the way for the future. Terrorists don't differentiate between values, respect no law and know no national boundaries, no matter whether they are part of the IS group that claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks and the murders of Chinese and Norwegian hostages, the IS branch in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula who cheered the downing of MetroJet Flight 9268 of Russia that killed 224 people, or the East Turkestan Islamic Movement who have slaughtered hundreds in Chinese cities and towns.

As the Jordanian king told a news conference during his Kosovo visit: "We are facing a third world war against humanity and this is what brings us all together."

It will take time to free our world of terrorism. While pooling resources to eliminate this common enemy of humanity, people in the West, US politicians in particular, should stand not only with Russian President Vladimir Putin who has ordered heavy bombings on IS strongholds, but also with Arab communities and China that too have suffered from terrorism for long.

As for Carson and Trump, they could learn from Sanders and do themselves a favor by extending a hand to Muslims.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

(China Daily 11/21/2015 page5)

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