High time for Western self-scrutiny about our Muslim community

by , under Enrique Tessieri

I made in the late-1970s one of the most important decisions of my life. Back then Argentina was ruled by one of the region’s bloodiest dictatorships. Human rights violations, torture and state-sponsored terrorism were the rule. You had three choices: take up arms and join a guerrilla group, shut up or leave the country.

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Wali Hashi believes that its high time for self-scrutiny by the Muslim community concerning its youth that is being recruited to fight in wars overseas. Read full story here.

 

The dilemma I was confronted with a long time ago must resemble the predicament that some Muslims face as they decide whether to join an extremist group like ISIS. One of the questions they must answer is clear: Is armed struggle and violence right to change society?

Even if the thought of joining a left-wing guerrilla attracted me at the time, I knew I could never be a member of such a group since it meant killing other people. How could I kill a human being if I couldn’t kill an animal?

I chose the pen instead and that changed my life for the better. Certainly joining a guerrilla group would have changed my life as well but differently.

I also made another important decision back then: I won’t kill anyone as long as I live.

Even if there was a lot of suspicion about left-wingers and communists in Latin America during the cold war, it wasn’t tainted by Islamophobia.

We’ve seen through time how wars have lured youth. We saw it in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and recently how youths join the Israeli Defense Forces. Why don’t these type of conflict worry us as much as the conflicts in the Middle East?

How you define a guerrilla or extremist organization hinges on your political viewpoint. It’s wishful thinking to believe that ISIS will be defeated militarily. For that you need a political solution and there is none in sight.

If the US has spent over 2 trillion dollars on Iraq, why would the latest declaration of war against ISIS make any difference?

In many respects, the ongoing strife in the Middle East, which is being inflicted by us, looks eerily like the flypaper that John Steinbeck wrote about in his 1942 novel, The moon is down.

The book tells about how the occupying Nazi forces attempted to force the townspeople into submission but the contrary happened. Resistance to the occupying force mounted with acts of sabotage. In the end, the invaders realized the futility of their campaign and it becomes clear they had lost the war.

The flies, as Steinbeck so eloquently writes at the end of the novel, had conquered the flypaper.

If you want to discourage our youth from taking up arms and being recruited to war zones, give them education, opportunities and ballot boxes as opposed to US-Western and Fox-style “war-on-terror” rhetoric, which is copied by the Finnish media as well.

Include, give back countries in the Middle East their self-determination, seriously take steps in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and challenge Islamophobia on all fronts. These matters will go a long way in helping discourage our youth from taking up arms against, ironically, enemies that we’ve financed and created.