By Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi
Nov 17, 2015
“So where do we draw the line and decide enough is enough?” asked my wife. “Terrorists are killing us every day in many ways. To put us on a constant alert is the worst kind of killing. It forces you to change your way of life, be always on the edge, waiting for and expecting the worst — like being permanently in a war zone.
“This makes you plan your day, your life and your future not according to what is best for you, your family and your community, but on security considerations and for self-preservation. This is not a life! And when, finally, they do hit you or someone you love, they have already killed you many, many times, before,” she explained.
“Worst of all, they do all these satanic acts in the name of God — the most merciful and compassionate. Since the majority of today terrorists are calling themselves Muslims, it makes everyone of us a suspect.
“You study, work, build, support and help; be kind, considerate and just; go about your life in peace, friendliness and cooperation — holding your acts and thoughts up to the most civilized standards, the good rules of Islam. Then, you wake up one morning and find that in your good name a bombing here or there has killed peaceful, innocent people, going about their lives just like you.
“In mosques, churches, markets, stadiums, restaurants, cafes … in places where ordinary humans are studying, strolling with their kids, enjoying a good afternoon or a cool night, earning their living serving others, then … boom … a crazy young man blows up his life and theirs in an instance. Just like that!”
“Who is responsible for this waste, carnages and madness?” she asked. “All of us!,” comes the answer. “Those maniacs didn’t come from nowhere. They come from our midst. They are part of us. Some mother knew her beloved child was going about doing something destructive. Some landowner noticed suspicious activities in his property. Some neighbour, school teacher, friend or passerby witnessed something that should have been reported. But they failed to call the authorities. Maybe they feared they were mistaken, or expected harsh treatment or punishment to suspects, or feared dangerous involvement that may result in threats to themselves and family.
“Still, after all we have seen, there is no excuse,” she insisted. “It is safer for a misguided son to be in the custody of the justice system than in the hands of terrorists. The concerned authorities would thoroughly investigate any report and follow all leads to find out who is behind the operative, and what is their grand plan. The court would give him the benefit of the doubt, and judge him according to Shariah laws. He would have the access to lawyers and opportunity to defend himself and explain his acts.”
“However, if not reported,” she warned, “he may end up blowing himself and innocent people to pieces. In prison, at least, he would be protected from such fate. In time, he would have the chance to repent and change. After serving his time and paying his debts to society, he may return safe and sound to his family and people, and back to his studies or work. Having real mercy is to report our beloved ones — family, friends and neighbors — not to cover for them. We saw the consequences of neglecting and failing to do so!” she concluded her comments on recent terrorist attacks, in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and France.
My wife is right! It is now an open war — a bloody, destructive, crazy war! What is at risk here is our humanity. The casualties are more than those lost in such attacks. Our peaceful coexistence is the greatest casualty. Muslims in France, Europe and elsewhere stand accused. Christians and Jews are at risk in Muslim countries. Shia and Sunni communities who lived in peaceful coexistence, before Iran intervention and Iraq invasion, are now in competing camps.
How to salvage what is left of our civilization? First, our campaign against terrorism should start at home, as my wife pointed out. Second, we need to pinpoint our mutual enemy. Fighting amongst ourselves is what they aim for. Our unity is their loss. Third, we should hit them head on. So far, we have been confused, desperate, divided and reluctant. Even when we finally decided to hit back, we did it with less than needed force. The US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq aim for clean operation that doesn’t tolerate any causalities on their side. Air attacks alone would never win you the war on terror. You need ground forces from regional and international armies, similar to the force that liberated Kuwait, 1991. Only when armies landed in Aden, the city was restored. It is high time we put together an international army under a Security Council mandate to liberate Iraq and Syria from foreign and terrorist armies and militias.
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah.