The terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco should alarm the Muslim world, showing that there is no good and bad terrorism
By GIL TROY
The Montreal Gazette,
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
|Newspaper and Journal Articles-Written||
Perpetuating the lie that suicide bombers - when aimed at the "right" target - are "martyrs not murderers," theses leaders' diplomats have praised suicide bombings on the front pages of London newspapers, their professors have honoured students who killed rather than learned, their populace has worshiped mass-murderers with the same adulation the decadent Westerners expend on rock stars. And their religious leaders have developed a cult of martyrdom, hijacking a religion in the service of an odious ideology of death, distorting key ideas to feed hate and foment violence.
Of course, terrorism was supposed to be aimed at "legitimate" targets - Israeli kids munching pizza, American secretaries booting word processors, Australian teenagers bogeying in a nightclub. By exporting terror, the Saudi kingdom was supposed to be buying a certain immunity from it. In the more moderate Kingdom of Morocco, until this weekend, terrorism was something that happened elsewhere. But is anyone surprised that such a tactic, once perfected and applauded, could not be controlled? A society that can so demonize the "other" as to celebrate enemy deaths, risks distorting its political culture. A political culture that celebrates wading into crowds or apartment compounds and blowing up civilians wherever they might be, whoever they are, risks teaching its members that when arguments fail, it is OK to resort to violence, even against your neighbours.
Terrorism is so morally problematic because it is deliberate yet indiscriminate. Whereas one mourns the deaths of soldiers and of civilians in war, terrorism seeks out civilians when they are doing what civilians do - working, playing, shopping, eating, sleeping - and often targets the weakest members of society, women in markets, children at play, old men on a bus.
Although it is easy to moralize about Saudi Arabian and Moroccan hypocrisies, we need to acknowledge our own inconsistencies. The Canadian government's softness for Hezbollah and Hamas, reflected most recently in immigration authorities' branding as a war criminal a refugee who helped fight against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, implicates us all. The people purporting to be peace protesters who march with signs legitimizing suicide bombers by saying "martyrs not murderers," thus celebrating murder, shame us all. No civilized person can delight in the dozens killed in Riyadh or Casablanca. But as one awaits condemnation from the Arab world of the latest wave of Hamas suicide bombings aimed at aborting U.S. President George W. Bush's peace initiative, one can hope that some good will result. Perhaps now, the leaders of Islam are ready to lead the fight against terror. Perhaps they are ready to purge their ranks of those who encourage terrorism and those who soft-pedal it.
There is no longer a need for an appeal based on idealism. The sociopaths who slit a Casablanca doorman's throat, the cars that detonated throughout Riyadh and Casablanca, the bomb that exploded in a Yemeni court days after a judge sentenced an Al-Qa'ida terrorist to death, demonstrate that this is a matter of life and death. Supporting terrorism comes with no immunity clause - those who support terror today risk being terrorist targets tomorrow.
Gil Troy teaches history at McGill University.
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