The terrible attacks in London last week have brought home to the west the frightening reality of suicide bombers striking from within their own societies. The bombings also add London to the long list string of cities across the world that which have been struck by terrorists who have as little regard for human life as for the faith, origin or nationality of their victims. ose killed.
In Bali, Madrid, Casablanca, Riyadh, Istanbul, and New York,, hundreds, indeed Washington and London, thousands of innocent people of all faiths and backgrounds have been killed by extremists who claim to represent Islam. Only a few days ago, one such suicide bomber in Iraq killed 26 Iraqi children. It goes without saying that Their actions are entirely un-Islamic in character and that they bring only shame to Muslims across the world.
The reaction of Prime Minister Tony Blair, the British prime minister – and of the British people as a whole – to the London bombings has been admirable. They have exhibited an extraordinary resilience and a great capacity for understanding. Mr Blair has consistently said that the terrorists are in no way representative of Muslims or of Islamic values and that it is the causes of this terror which must finally be addressed.The terrorists subscribe, the prime minister said, to “an extreme and evil ideology whose roots lie in a perverted and poisonous misinterpretation of the religion of Islam”.
The choice of the terrorists to strike the heart of London at the opening of the G8 summit was, of course, no coincidence. But what it chiefly tells us is their poverty of thought, their emotional emptiness and the absence of any goal other than the perverse and senseless killing of innocent people.
Allow me to say to the suicide bombers and to those behind them: the people you killed are those the people who demonstrated boundless empathy and generosity towards the victims of the Asian tsunami, most of them Muslims; they are the people whose leader was preparing to announce the most ambitious and compassionate initiative to improve the lives of millions of Africans, many of them Muslims; they are the people who walked in their millions to oppose the war in Iraq; they are Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jews who live with in respect and tolerance towards of each other and who have called for the spread of these values and for a just peace in the Middle East. Tell me, what have you ever achieved by your terror? Show me one person whom you have helped, one noble cause you have furthered. I fear that there is not a single one.
MeanwhileAs Arabs and Muslims are move towards reforming their countries and political systems, expressing their hopes and wishes in the streets and in the international court of opinion, you choose to shame their efforts and to shame the image of Islam. They have achieved far more through their peaceful efforts than you have through any of your hateful attacks. Why are you so intent on wiping out the support which that Muslims and Arabs are finally receiving for their own betterment?
If your goal is to sow discord between Muslims and the west, let me tell you that you will not succeed. The world will come together to show you that the only people group it forcefully rejects are the aimless purveyors of death and terror whose misinterpretation of Islam has not only claims thousands of innocent lives but also offends and shames Muslims across the world.
If you have any justifiable grievances we ask you to express them peacefully and to work in a civil manner to address them. We are ready to listen to you and even to try to understand your distress but for the sake of Islam and of humanity, please stop making innocent people the victims of your hatred and confusion.
In Palestine, it is plain to see that all violence has brought Palestinians is hurt and unbearable living conditions. Palestinians have achieved a great deal more through peaceful means over the past year, gaining the respect and international support that bring them a true hope of a better future. What Muslims really need are home-grown Gandhis, dignified examples of peaceful resistance, not more Osama bin Ladens, Abu Musab al-Zarqawis and suicide bombers.
Londoners have shown us that there is something far stronger than terror, and that is their attachment to a life of freedom, tolerance and compassion, values which that represent the true meaning of Islam and of all other major religions. The terrorists have made it abundantly clear who is are those committed to bettering the world they live in and who is committed solely to se are those whose sole aim is destruction.
To the people of Great Britain, I express, on behalf of all Muslims, our deepest sorrow and sympathy for those who lost their loved ones or who have suffered as a consequence of these appalling acts. What we have witnessed in London are the losing tactics of those who have no cause but death and whose methods and interpretation of Islam are bound to fail. The British people, as true exemplars of the values at the heart of all major religions, including Islam, have answered with resilienceunderstanding and the desire to work sincerely, peacefully and effectively for a better world. The terrorists have already lost.
The writer is a former Saudi official