TERRORISM: Thank Allah for Tony Blair
Dr. Frank Kaufmann «View Bio

If British Prime Minister Tony Blair can stay the course he set in response to the deplorable London bombings, and if the people whom he calls as partners can rise to meet the challenge, what is called Muslim terrorism will end.

Blair offers the first intelligent response from a major Western leader to what is called Muslim terrorism. Blair’s clear and balanced 4 point plan introduced in Parliament promises to reverse our plummet into the blind and primitive militarism that nourishes escalating guerrilla attacks on innocents.

Blair’s four-point plan boasts simplicity rather than simple-mindedness. He calls for:

o New laws as planned against incitement and instigation of terrorism
o New measures to keep people inciting hatred out of the UK, or to make it easier to deport them
o Help for the Muslim community to counter the `evil` interpretation of their faith
o International efforts to mobilize the `moderate and true voice of Islam`

He shifts focus from acts of terrorism to incitement and instigation of terrorism. “The laws,” reports BBC, “would focus on measures the police and security services believed necessary to combat the incitement and the instigation of terrorism as well as the acts of terrorism themselves.` Additionally he includes a pledge: “help for the Muslim community to counter the ‘evil’ interpretation of their faith,” and to launch an international effort to mobilize the `moderate and true voice of Islam`

The analysis and the plan are finely integrated. The deportation aspect flirts with the unimaginative, wholly ineffective impulse to ‘get rid of people’. But it is nevertheless reasonable and proper as it deals with the laws of his own sovereign state, and his responsibility to protect its citizens.

Otherwise here’s how ‘getting rid of people’ works:

In July 2004, US Vice President Cheney stated: `Many of Al Qaeda`s known leaders have been captured or killed. Those still at large are on the run, and we are going to hunt them down – one by one.` In September, US President George Bush stated: “More than three quarters of Al Qaeda’s key members and associates have been detained or killed.” In the mean time US government reports of 2004 stated: “The number of ‘significant’ [terrorist] attacks grew to about 655, up from the record of around 175 in 2003.” And, “Terrorist incidents in Iraq also dramatically increased, from 22 attacks to 198, or nine times the previous year`s total.”

Blair instead correctly identifies the source of the problem as an ideology. He offers a clear and effective program in response by identifying the right allies, and promising resources to that community.

We do not find in Blair’s rhetoric references to a disembodied, non-defined bogeyman (terrorism) on which we “wage war.” He points out instead: that we are dealing with “an extreme and evil ideology whose roots lie in a perverted and poisonous misinterpretation of the religion of Islam.”

With Blair, the perpetrators of inhuman horror among us are no longer a science fiction-like, mercurial network of high-tech, inhuman demons lurking among us (maybe that 87-year-old lady from Iowa getting her shoes scanned at JFK airport is one of them). They are ideologues. They teach, they incite, they instigate and they effectively recruit and promote “an evil interpretation of the Muslim faith.” They are not best identified by having a pair of fingernail clippers in their carry-on luggage.

Who do they teach? Muslims. What do they teach? “A misinterpretation of Islam.” Who best might be able to identify these evildoers? Blair immediately met with Muslim members of parliament, and will host a summit of UK Muslim leaders. This is the correct read. In the same speech he warned that Britain`s Muslim community should be protected from reprisals or suspicion following the bombings – insisting that any attempts by the far right to use the attacks to stir up racism would be `particularly revolting.`

Perhaps Blair is lucky he doesn’t have his country’s leading Christian shouting across the dinner table, Islam is “wicked, violent and not of the same god.” (Asked by NBC News to clarify his statement, Franklin Graham stood his ground.)

Blair while meeting with Muslim MPs on July 13 said: `This evil [is] within the Muslim community… In the end, this can be taken on and defeated only by the community itself.`

Now that Blair has identified and pledged to support the international “moderate and true voice of Islam,” to combat perpetrators of “a poisonous and perverted misinterpretation of the religion of Islam,” maybe we can relieve corn-fed, Christian boys and girls from Arkansas of that duty.
Now it is up to the ones Blair calls partners, the ones he optimistically calls the `moderate and true voice of Islam.”  

In this he has done more than the politician’s job, and he has done so with a religion not his own! This is path-breaking statesmanship in the face of a devastating crisis.

It is now up to Muslim leaders, not only in Britain but worldwide, to meet this trust and optimism offered at the West’s highest levels. Muslim leaders must put aside all petty conflict and division, and rise to this call. Leaders of the “moderate and true voice of Islam,” have been offered respectful support from a mighty Western power, to effectively counter the “evil interpretation of their faith,” and remove the poison from their midst. This is a great challenge, but a precious opportunity for Islam to bring genuine benefit to all people of all faiths and all cultures.

Frank Kaufmann is the Director of the Office of International Relations of the IIFWP. This writing represents the personal opinion of the writer, not the position of the IIFWP.