The violent fringe of Islam
is losing. The brutal killings of 20 people, including an Indian, at a Dhaka
restaurant on Saturday night, the killing of 126 Iraqis in two suicide blasts
in Baghdad on Sunday, and the earlier terrorist killings in France, are signs
of desperation. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), that ultra-violent Islamist
group, is losing ground, both in terms of territory and public support. It is
being rapidly delegitimised in the eyes of its most important constituency – Muslims
That is precisely why it is becoming more violent. Terrorism is always the weapon of the weak. The fact that terror incidents are now increasing in intensity across the globe – it hit mainland America in Orlando last month - is actually a sign not of an increase in Islamist sentiment, but its imminent decline as a legitimate tool of power politics.
Islamic State made two major fundamental errors in strategy. First, it sought to hold and retain territory. Holding territory needs far more resources than just launching guerrilla attacks. It is not sustainable without genuine state power and resources that come only with legitimacy. But this did not happen because Isis, far from seeking legitimacy as a state, lost whatever moral authority it sought in the name of Islam by being extremely inhuman and brutal. Many Muslims may support Islamism, but few support inhumanity in the name of Islam.
According to estimates made by the US-led anti-Isis coalition, “Isis has lost 45 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and 20 percent of areas it controlled in Syria.” It is only a matter of time before Isis’s Caliphate of Gore is decimated, and reduced to yet another terrorist group.
The world will, thus have to prepare for more terrorism from self-radicalised youth and other more organised terror groups. This is why Dhaka happened. Such killings cannot be prevented by anyone but Muslims themselves.
And this is beginning to happen.
In Bangladesh, which has become the new focal point of Islamist terrorism, the Dhaka killings gave us two wonderful demonstrations of Muslims who stood up for what was right.
When the terrorists asked Faraaz
Hossain to leave as he was a Muslim, he declined and stayed with his two
friends, Abinta Kabir and Tarishi Jain. He lost his life for refusing to be
just a Muslim as defined by the terrorists. His humanity triumphed.
Another person who was hacked to death by the Dhaka terrorists was Ishrat Akhond. The Indian Express quotes Akhond’s friends as saying that she was killed for not wearing a hijab, and for refusing to read the Koran when asked to by the terrorists. Once again, humanity triumphed. A Muslim chose her wider humanism over the Koran to fight narrow-minded and bigoted Islamists.
Bangladesh, which has seen a
spate of Islamist attacks on secular and minority targets, is seeing growing
Muslim resistance to fundamentalist terror. Nearly half of those killed by
terrorists have been Muslims, which, if it were not a tragedy in itself, should
be cause for cheer.
The moral is simple: violent Islamism is losing its charm for ordinary Muslims. They know that it is only ordinary Muslims who can defeat Islamist terrorism and not the rest of the world. With all its high-tech and surveillance capabilities, the US could not prevent Orlando (49 dead) from a lone-wolf terrorist. Nor could it prevent the San Bernardino husband-wife terrorism.
Hossain and Akhond are the real heroes of the war against terror for the simple reason that this war is finally rousing ordinary Muslims to rise and stand up against violent Islam. More power to them. Islamic terror can only be defeated by Muslims standing up for humanity over bigotry and violence.
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