Saudi columnist Tariq Al Maeena writes a piece for Gulf News in which he decries the ordinary, everyday extremism — the quotidian terrorism — that is seeping into Islam around the world. He cites examples out of Mali, where an extremist group has taken power, as well as Egypt, no governed by the Muslim Brotherhood. He might have added Pakistan and Afghanistan, both of which have seen extremist attacks on little girls.
These events are not the big ones, the ones that capture international attention as does the current fighting between Israel and Hamas. But they are the indicia of serious problems that eat away at the core of societies. If Muslims of good will do not want to raise their heads (or voices) about the big issues, they need to be saying something about the little ones. These events happen in their towns and villages, but as they gain notoriety through their enormity, they need to be condemned, condemned promptly and loudly. These are the events that color the world’s view of Islam, and the colors are getting darker by the day.
Let’s expose the thugs for what they are
Tariq A. Al Maeena | Special to Gulf News
The majority who practice Islam peacefully must raise their voice against those who continue to defame our religion through their acts of forcing their version of the faith down people’s throats
In recent years, the western media has been constantly churning out stories on the anomalies and forced imposition of Islam on other cultures and suggesting an impending war of civilisations. It is unfortunate that a few bands of power-hungry thugs operating under the cloak of an Islamic facade have helped promote this perception very rapidly. They do nothing more than defile Islam, a religion that does not beckon by force.
In the current scenario, thugs from two armed groups in Timbuktu are calling themselves Islamists — Ansar Dine and Mujao have begun imposing their own brand of religion on the hapless populace. These radical criminals who took control of the city a few months back through violent means are now requiring that the people follow their version of Sharia, which to their control-driven psyche means an attack on women’s rights. They have begun by demanding that all women be clothed in loose-fitting clothes and covered in black veils. The failure to comply with their demands would mean that a woman risks being whipped, disfigured or sent to jail on the trumped-up charge that she was not following Sharia. And they have been brutal in ensuring the application of their new laws.
According to an observer: “The Islamists announced that any woman who disobeys their rules will have her ears cut off and be sent to a new, all-female prison. Though they haven’t gone that far yet, they are still quite strict. On Thursday afternoon, as I was visiting a friend at the hospital, I saw a very pregnant woman arrive. She was wearing a white veil, so the Islamists asked her to go home and change. She explained that she was going into labour and that she lived two kilometres away, so she couldn’t go back. She ended up giving birth outside, on the sidewalk.”
Their rule is governed by the threat of corporal punishment for acts they deem to be a violation of their brand of Sharia. Punishments include whipping, amputations and in extreme cases the stoning to death of those in violation of Sharia. Just last month, one Timbuktu resident had his hand chopped off as he was charged with theft, while earlier, a couple was publicly whipped for indulging in extra-marital relationship. It is unfortunate for the residents of Timbuktu that such will be their plight until they get rid of this menace within their midst.