Islamophobia Awareness Month Deconstructing and challenging stereotypes about Islam

Islamophobia Awareness Month Deconstructing and challenging stereotypes about Islam

French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech in October accusing Islam of isolationism and of being ‘in crisis’, could not have provided better evidence of the challenge of Islamophobia facing European societies today.
 
For decades, Muslims who have long made Europe and Western countries their and their children’s homes, and to which they make immeasurably valuable contributions as citizens, those Muslims have warned that the most serious forms of Islamophobia are those which emanate from unsuspected sources.
 
While one would expect Islamophobic statements and attacks to come from Far-Right, xenophobic, white supremacist, neo-Nazi clusters, it shouldn’t be expected of a Centrist President of a major country such as France which itself is home to millions of Muslims. Further, it comes at a time when the entire world is debating the question of race, and nations are trawling through their respective legacies to see what gross crimes against other people were committed in order to provide the socio-economic conditions under which they currently live. It would’ve been thought that a politician of such stature should have been more careful.
 
Yet, such is the challenge of the rising and ever-expanding disease of Islamophobia, that few even in the much more tolerant Britain, even cared to mention it.
 
IAM launch event at the London Muslim Centre, 2nd Nov 2012Therefore, the Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) this November could not have come at a more apt time, nor under more telling circumstances. An annual fixture now, after the challenges of launching this fantastically important initiative by a group of prominent organisations back in 2012, it is a crucial landmark in the history of British society and its development in relation to matters of race, faith and culture. The month-long campaign seeks to deconstruct and challenge stereotypes about Islam and Muslims. (Image: IAM launch event at the London Muslim Centre, 2nd Nov 2012)
 
IAM was initiated by, amongst others, The Cordoba Foundation, Enough Coalition Against Islamophobia, London Muslim Centre, Mend/Engage, Federation of Students Islamic Societies and the Muslim Council of Britain.
 
Even with the immense challenges of having to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdowns that bear great costs on all sections of society, IAM is a vital reminder of the added difficulties life in modern Britain brings to so many, including countless on the frontlines of maintaining a semblance of normalcy and care.
 
The Cordoba Foundation is proud to once more welcome the Islamophobia Awareness Month, and pledges to continue to work with others, towards celebrating the values and tenets of this great global faith, followed by a fifth of the world population, and to remove any stigma attached to being a Muslim in Britain. 

Dr Anas Altikriti
CEO
The Cordoba Foundation

POST-CORONA: TRANSFORMATIVE LANDSCAPES AND SHIFTING PRIORITIES

POST-CORONA: TRANSFORMATIVE LANDSCAPES AND SHIFTING PRIORITIES

BACKGROUND AND AIMS

This project seeks to study the major changes and transformations that are forecast to take place around the world as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, and how those are likely to impact major conflicts and crises, particularly in the MENA region.

Exploring its impact and ramifications at multiple levels, including political, economic, medical, technological, technical, social, mental and humanitarian, the findings will feed into the development of adequate mappings and analyses as well as solutions to cater for those changes and also seize the opportunities which they and this crisis provide.

The study will also put forward appropriate mechanisms to deal with the post-pandemic transformations and set in place necessary plans and policies for the benefit of governmental and non-governmental actors.

This project will be carried out in collaboration between The Cordoba Foundation (UK) and the Egyptian Institute for Studies (Turkey).

 

Outputs

The outputs of this Research Study are as follows:

  1. All accepted abstracts/ papers will be published after peer review.
  2. International conference, The Corona Pandemic: changes and transformations in geopolitics and strategic developments impacting the MENA.
  3. Report launches in a number of countries.
  4. News stories in a major media outlets based on the findings of the study.

 

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Cordoba Foundation and the Egyptian Institute for Studies call for papers on the theme of “Post-Corona: transformative landscapes and shifting priorities”.

This call for papers invites contributors from scholars, researchers, policymakers and practitioners from a range of disciplinary perspectives.

Guidelines for abstract submission:

  • Full name, title and affiliation, along with contact details (postal address, telephone, and email).
  • Abstract should explain the paper’s objectives or purpose and ensure that it falls within the broad call of the paper.
  • Provide a concise and clear description of its objectives, methods, results, main arguments and conclusions.
  • Submissions will only be accepted in English and in Word format.
  • It is the author’s responsibility to submit a correct abstract; accepted abstracts will be reproduced as submitted, including possible errors.
  • Abstract acceptance or rejection will be notified by e-mail.
  • Abstract should be no longer than 500 words.
  • Full papers should not be more than 6,000 words.

IMPORTANT DATES

– Abstract submission deadline: June 5th.

– Final paper submission deadline: July 15th

– Exec Summary launch: Aug 20th.

– Full Report released by: September 10th

Send proposals to TCF Covid-19 Research Desk – info@thecordobafoundation.com

NEW ZEALAND TERROR ATTACKS, WARNINGS OF THE DANGERS OF ISLAMOPHOBIA IGNORED

NEW ZEALAND TERROR ATTACKS, WARNINGS OF THE DANGERS OF ISLAMOPHOBIA IGNORED

The Cordoba Foundation

Media Release
15 March 2019

**NEW ZEALAND TERROR ATTACKS, WARNINGS OF THE DANGERS OF ISLAMOPHOBIA IGNORED**

The Cordoba Foundation joins Muslims worldwide and all fair-minded people of the world in condemning the heinous attack on 2 mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand as worshipers were preparing to observe the weekly Friday prayers.

Since the details of the attack began to unfold, it has now become confirmed that the assailants were white supremacists and far-right nationalists, who shockingly displayed their intentions as well as their act of depraved barbarity openly and publicly for all to witness.

The Cordoba Foundation has warned over several years of the rapidly rising tide of Islamophobia, along with the gradually but steadily rising threshold of what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to Western Muslims. While those far-right terrorists might have been the actual killers, but it was an environment of acceptability and increasing justification endorsed by mainstream elements within politics, society and the media, that laid the ground for this bloodbath to be carried out.

In the same way that ISIS kills its adversaries, far-right nationalists butchered Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a racist murderer killed black church-goers in Charlottesville, North Carolina. To see each as separate or different than the other would be to do a huge disservice to the victims of terrorism, discrimination and racism all over the world.

The Cordoba Foundation reiterates its message that all forms of prejudice must be eradicated, and today, the scourge of Islamophobia is seeing rapid increase in reach, depth and substance, which threatens the stability and security of all of society. It is therefore incumbent upon the government to ensure that all its citizens, regardless of race, colour or creed, are safe, equal and respected.

End.

Notes to editors:

1. New Zealand terror attack solidarity meeting held today at the London Muslim Centre – https://www.facebook.com/eastlondonmosque/videos/2213182888774279?sfns=mo

Friday sermon by Imam Muhammad Mahmoud about the terror attacks — https:// www.facebook.comeastlondonmosque/videos/2098756003718329?sfns=mo

2. National protest against racism and Islamophobia 16 March 2019 – http://www.standuptoracism.org.uk/wp-content2015/uploads/2019/01/SUtR-demo-2019-3mm-bld.pdf

3. Media enquiries:
media@thecordobafoundation.com

www.thecordobafoundation.com
Cultures in Dialogue

The Sun chooses scandal over human rights

The Sun chooses scandal over human rights

The Cordoba Foundation

Media Release
4 March, 2019

The Sun chooses scandal over human rights

In an article published on the 28th of February titled: “Corbyn ally Emily Thornbury gives talk to extremist-linked Muslim Brotherhood group”, The Sun chose to stir scandal rather than cover the plight of the Uyghurs — victims of large-scale human rights violations of our time.

The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) is deeply disturbed that an event it had hosted at the London Muslim Centre on 13 February, in which numerous prominent speakers spoke of the tragic plight of almost a million Uyghur Chinese Muslims, drove The Sun to conjure a story without even mentioning the topic of the event itself.

With reportedly a million Uyghurs being held in concentration camps and subject to torture under the pretext of ‘re-education’, TCF held this event to highlight the crimes being committed by one of the UK’s major trading partners, China. Having reached out to all the major political parties, Emily Thornbury of the Labour Party and Alistair Charmichael of the Liberal Democrats responded positively, with Ms Thornbury kindly managing to attend and give a few minutes’ address. For this, she should be congratulated, especially that her speech touched on the most important issues pertaining to this case.

To taint the entire event and the topic at hand and abuse the victims of this crime by slinging mud in the direction of TCF and its CEO, is cheap. The readers of The Sun deserve far better. The Cordoba Foundation absolutely and completely refutes the charge of extremism and leaves its own track record and that of its Founder to speak for themselves. Countering extremism at every turn, promoting democracy and human rights around the world and advocating peaceful and collaborative co-existence, have been the unfailing pursuit of TCF, whilst Altikriti is renowned for successfully – often at his own safety — negotiating the release of numerous hostages in various conflict zones, including Christian Peacemakers in Iraq.
The accusation that TCF is somehow a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, made initially by David Cameron in 2009, is both laughable and tiresome. TCF has repeatedly reached out to the former Prime Minister challenging him either to provide evidence to the claim or to repeat the charge outside of Parliamentary privilege, to which he has never afforded the courtesy of a reply. As far as Foundation is concerned, it is a false charge which Cameron made to score political points at the time and has failed repeatedly to substantiate. In similar vein, a number of dictatorships have over the years levied false charges of extremism against The Cordoba Foundation seeking to undermine its work and tarnish it negatively. It is interesting to see The Sun corroborate and repeat the claims made by states and regimes which are renowned for the most gross human rights violations, absence of freedoms and authoritarian systems.

The plight of the China’s Uyghur Muslims is a tragic case of cultural and religious cleansing which is taking place under our watch. The Sun’s story is pathetic, riddled with lies and distracts from one of the most heinous crimes of our time.

muslims

Notes to editors:

1. Media and other queries: media@thecordobafoundation.com
2. Uyghur event video: https://youtu.be/O9slvfplEqA
3. For further information about Uyghurs, see the latest edition of iNSIGHTS, titled “China’s mass detentions and incarceration of Uyghur Muslims” written by Dr Rachel Harris.

Download the file here.

www.thecordobafoundation.com

China’s brute crackdown and mass incarceration of Uyghur Muslims

China’s brute crackdown and mass incarceration of Uyghur Muslims

Event Report

18 February 2019

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry joins Uyghur leaders and others to protest China’s incarceration of Muslims

On the 13th of February 2019, The Cordoba Foundation hosted an event to raise awareness of the persecution of the minority Uyghur population in China, titled ‘China’s brute crackdown and mass incarceration of Uyghur Muslims’. Notable speakers, including leading academics, politicians, journalists, human rights activists and Uyghur leaders who fled persecution, drew a crowd of over 500 people at the London Muslim Centre (LMC).

Delivering the keynote, Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary remarked,

“What has started from targeting extremism has morphed into targeting peaceful Uyghurs practicing their faith… There are hundreds of thousands facing systemic oppression and violence. For that to be happening today in the 21st century in a country with a permanent seat in the Security Council is abhorrent and can not be tolerated any longer.”

She concluded with a call to action, “it is time for us to say enough is enough and this should stop. Time to ensure the Uyghur people can practice their faith in peace. There is no them, there is no other, only us”.

Abdelkarim Zayyer, Uyghur scholar and Imam, opened the meeting with recitation from the Qur’an, this was followed by a welcome from LMC’s Director of Engagement, Dilowar Khan, who echoed popular sentiment amongst the crowd “We were hardly aware of this situation as it was rarely covered in the media…I hope we go away with more understanding and commit to do something about it.”

The persecution of the Uyghur population by the Chinese state has been relentless for over 70 years, however in recent years, especially since the rise to power of Xi Jinping, the persecution has intensified at an alarming rate. The Chinese government is systematically persecuting Muslims simply for practicing their faith. Over a million Uyghurs are currently being detained in “re-education” camps” (the term Chinese officials use for concentration camps), for simple crimes such as carrying a copy of the Qu’ran or regularly attending a mosque.

Several Uyghur nationals, forced to flee from China, spoke out about their experiences of living as a Uyghur in China. Rahime Mahmut, singer-songwriter and a human rights activist, stated that “accounts about torture are chilling and horrendous, people are kept in prisons for a year before being moved to concentration camps. One detainee who spent time in three different concentration camps said that many people he knew were forced to admit to making bombs in order to stop their torture”. The persecution reaches all sections of Uyghur society and the “re-education” camps are being applied to normal practicing Muslims. Rahime has not returned to China for the past 18 years in fear of her life. Similarly, Mahmut Turdi was forced to flee in 2004, and has not returned since, and has witnessed his siblings detained in concentration camps. He stated, “whoever is born with a Uyghur identity ends up persecuted… China is unwilling to protect our basic human rights; there is no justice and they have no fear”.

Uyghur poet, scholar and the Secretary, PEN International Uyghur Centre, Aziz Isa Elkun, recounted that,

“Ever since the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, we have faced persecution. However, the ascension of Xi Jinping has made everything worse with forced assimilations since 2016 and the building of concentration camps. Xi Jinping has placed a police station every 100 metres, and since 2017 we have been forbidden to make phone calls abroad”.

The recent escalation of violence against the Uyghurs has intensified under Xi Jinping’s reign for a variety of reasons and its causes are complex. Xi Jinping has difficulties with the Uyghur Chinese as he sees a problem of divided loyalties because of their religion. Professor Paul Reynolds, foreign policy and international economics specialist, elaborated that “if you look at it from a Beijing perspective, it will give you a psychology of the persecutions. It is a colonial project, with borders drawn by Chinese colonialists, similar to Middle Eastern and African borders. Furthermore, the reason why Xi Jinping has intensified his violence can be attributed to three main political reasons: Xi Jinping sees key vulnerabilities in the Communist Party. He needs growth to keep the country happy, he needs to address energy shortages and defence, and he is afraid of the US economy (China has a large US dollar holding of debt). To deal with these vulnerabilities, China wants to push its economic reach across the land mass, which ultimately means taking control of the Uyghur land, forcing migration from China into the area.”

Reynolds added, “The Uyghur area is also rich with natural resources such as oil, which is especially lucrative in the backdrop of a China which has difficulty importing natural resources and wants to develop its internal energy sources, with trade routes reaching from Afghanistan through the Uyghur lands. Xi Jinping has therefore come up with a six-point strategy to protect China’s power; weaken western objections to its crackdown on Uyghur Muslims; increase tourism to the Uyghur region; “re-education” of Uyghur Muslims; train Chinese in paramilitary organisations; and build three oil pipelines whilst allowing the West a share in this.”

Yuen Chan, British-Hong Kong journalist, TV and radio presenter, as well as a former Chinese University lecturer and founder of Journalism Educators for Press Freedom, stated that “The Chinese media is controlled by a vast and sophisticated propaganda machine, and it is hard to produce anything that delineates from the official narrative. Therefore, it is hard for the Chinese to gain any accurate picture of what has been happening. Many reporters have stated that they have witnessed the worst reporting conditions of the last 20 years and 96% of journalists in China have said that they have been visibly followed, with 90% forced to delete their data. Chinese news agencies have also been striking deals with the Western press in order to propagate their official story and keep the Uyghur crisis as China’s ‘dirty secret’”.

Rodney Dixon QC, international human rights lawyer from Temple Garden Chambers, explained that whilst there are many obstacles “it is important that legal avenues are pursued when they can be. It is critical to preserve the wealth of first hand evidence, which can be addressed to the General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council”. He further added, “we must not think legal routes are closed, just because China has not signed up to any treaties”.

Louise Pyne Jones, Senior Researcher at the International Observatory of Human Rights, who is an expert on religious and colonial ideologies, stated that “the solution starts with dialogue, engagement and knowledge sharing. We can then take the debate nationally and internationally through media, NGOs and the government”. Practical tips for how to address the problem were given by Harun Rashid Khan, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain: “we should use social media and mainstream media to raise awareness… keep tweeting and keep talking amongst each other”. He also stressed the importance of Muslim organisations supporting members of the Uyghur community in the UK, and added “the damage caused by interning up to a million Uyghurs in “re-education” camps and increasing restrictions on religious practice and identity is magnified by the fact that coordinated responses from civil society have been too few and far between.”

Dr Anas Altikriti, CEO of The Cordoba Foundation, who moderated the meeting, explained the different aspects of the Foundation’s Uyghur Campaign and appealed for collaboration to address the desperate situation facing Uyghur Muslims. “It is truly unacceptable that an entire ethnicity of people are persecuted in the way that the Uyghur Muslims are. It is imperative that the British government takes its Chinese counterpart to task over this despicable policy and ensures that the Uyghurs are treated as citizens on par with their fellow Chinese citizens of all faiths, races and cultures.”

The meeting ended with a lively question and answer session.

[Ends]

Notes to editors:

  1. For further information about this campaign or to discuss collaborations contact Dr Abdullah Faliq, Convenor of the Uyghur Solidarity Meeting and Managing Director of The Cordoba Foundation – media@thecordobafoundation.com
  2. Event details:
    1. Publicity – http://www.thecordobafoundation.com/news.php?id=1&art=196
    2. Picture highlights – https://www.facebook.com/
    3. Video highlights – https://youtu.be/O9slvfplEqA
  3. For further information about Uyghurs, see the latest edition of iNSIGHTS, titled “China’s mass detentions and incarceration of Uyghur Muslims” written by Dr Rachel Harris. http://www.thecordobafoundation.com/attach/iNSIGHT-Feb_2019_Final.pdf
  4. Organised by The Cordoba Foundation and supported by over 25 organisations. See website for details: http://www.thecordobafoundation.com/news.php?id=1&art=196

Uighurs Protest Invitation

Uighurs Protest Invitation

International Observatory of Human Rights Protests the Unlawful Detention of +1 million Uyghurs in Re-Education Camps in China

5 February 2019

The International Observatory of Human Rights will join the Uyghur community in London outside the Chinese Embassy at 5pm on Tuesday 5 February to protest the unlawful detention and persecution of the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region of western China.

The protest is being held on the anniversary of the 1997 Ghulja massacre, where hundreds of peaceful protesters were killed by Chinese State security forces. 2019 also marks the 30-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, so the protest will be an opportunity to highlight China’s human rights record on the first day of the Chinese New Year of the pig.

The protest is to call on the Chinese authorities to:

  • close internment “Re-Education” camps and immediately release all those held in arbitrary detention.
  • reveal the names, whereabouts and current status of all those who have been subjected to enforced disappearance in China.
  • cease policies of forced cultural assimilation and social re-engineering, known as “Cultural Genocide”, focused on the Uyghurs, Tibetans, Southern Mongolians and other groups.
  • allow access for independent investigators to visit and monitor the region.

The plight of the Uyghur people has been raised in both houses of Parliament over the last few months. Mark Field, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office reported “We remain deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang. We are aware of credible reports of thousands of Uyghurs being held in political re-education camps. UK officials recently visited Xinjiang to see the latest situation at first-hand and found a heavy security presence on the ground.” Another oral parliamentary question on the Uyghurs is scheduled to be raised on 11 February in the House of Lords.

Please show your support and join IOHR in a peaceful stand with members of the Uyghur community.

 

Go to website

Shari’ah – What everyone needs to know

Shari’ah – What everyone needs to know

In Shariah: What Everyone Needs to Know®, John Esposito and Natana DeLong-Bas offer an accessible and thorough guide to this little-understood, but often caricatured system. By answering the questions that so many people have about Shariah and its role in Muslim life, this book makes an invaluable contribution to the crucial task of fostering mutual understanding in our globalizing, pluralistic societies.

 

Unlike the Charlie-Hebdo and the kosher store attacks in January 2015, the perpetrators this time targeted public places, chosen not for their symbolic character, but ordinary people out on a Friday night. The intent: to inflict maximum casualties and victims as well as disrupting ordinary life. Sadly, the perpetrators were largely successful.

 

John L. Esposito is University Professor, Professor of Religion and International Affairs of Islamic Studies, and Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. His more than 50 books include What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam, The Future of Islam, and Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think . His writings have been translated into more than 40 languages.

 

Natana J. DeLong-Bas is the author of Islam: A Living Faith, Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad, and Notable Muslims: Muslim Builders of World Civilization and Culture. She is Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women. DeLong- Bas teaches Theology and Islamic Civilizations and Societies at Boston College.

 

Provides both historical and contemporary coverage on a wide range of disciplines

shariah-wentk-flyer
Europe’s Growing Muslim Population

Europe’s Growing Muslim Population

Muslims are projected to increase as a share of Europe’s population  even with no future migration.

 

In recent years, Europe has experienced a record influx of asylum seekers fleeing conflicts in Syria and other predominantly Muslim countries. This wave of Muslim migrants has prompted debate about immigration and security policies in numerous countries and has raised questions about the current and future number of Muslims in Europe.

 

To see how the size of Europe’s Muslim population may change in the coming decades, Pew Research Center has modeled three scenarios that vary depending on future levels of migration. These are not efforts to predict what will happen in the future, but rather a set of projections about what could happen under different circumstances.

 

The baseline for all three scenarios is the Muslim population in Europe (defined here as the 28 countries presently in the European Union, plus Norway and Switzerland) as of mid-2016, estimated at 25.8 million (4.9% of the overall population) – up from 19.5 million (3.8%) in 2010.

 

Even if all migration into Europe were to immediately and permanently stop – a “zero migration” scenario – the Muslim population of Europe still would be expected to rise from the current level of 4.9% to 7.4% by the year 2050. This is because Muslims are younger (by 13 years, on average) and have higher fertility (one child more per woman, on average) than other Europeans, mirroring a global pattern.

 

Amount of growth in Europe’s Muslim population depends on future migration

FULL-REPORT-FOR-WEB-POSTING

 

Reflections on the Paris Attacks

Reflections on the Paris Attacks

The attacks in Paris on Friday 13 November 2015 were the worst on French soil since 1945, where more than 125 people died and hundreds more injured. And among the dead and the maimed were a number of Muslims. For the first time, the country was confronted by suicide bombers in the heart of Paris.

 

Unlike the Charlie-Hebdo and the kosher store attacks in January 2015, the perpetrators this time targeted public places, chosen not for their symbolic character, but ordinary people out on a Friday night. The intent: to inflict maximum casualties and victims as well as disrupting ordinary life. Sadly, the perpetrators were largely successful.

 

Emotions in France and around the world are understandably deep and very palpable now. However as we reel from the magnitude and soreness of what just happened, we should not shy away from asking tough questions: Who stands to benefit from these attacks? What are the immediate effects and risks to us? What consequences can we anticipate and how best can we respond both at the domestic and international levels?

 

One very likely risk from the attacks is that the French may be pushed to blame Muslims in France for the actions of a few suspected deranged Muslims. Their actions will no doubt play into the hands of the National Front which is already on the ascendency in the country. With regional elections in December, the National Front has a high chance of coming out as the winner in the elections. This is especially the case in regions like the Provence Côte d’Azur or Nord, where if they succeed, they will gain considerable political and financial clout.

 

Right wing parties, and especially the Les Républicains led by Nicolas Sarkozy, are calling for proposals and laws that can only be described as draconian and undemocratic to provoke and sow divisions in French society. They are demanding that thousands of “suspected Islamists” be placed under house-arrest; they are asking for the adoption of a French version of the American Patriot Act of 2001 (“Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”).

 

The French government has already installed a “state of emergency” and put under house-arrest over a hundred people. In the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks, we have witnessed a surge in attacks targeting mosques, Islamic centres and adherents of the Islamic faith in France and in other parts of Europe.

 

It is well-known that that one of the aims of the so-called Islamic State, better termed as Daesh, is “the extinction of the grey zone” i.e. to polarise Western society by provoking Islamophobia. In Daesh’s official magazine, Dabeq, it states:

“Muslims in the crusader countries will find themselves forced to abandon their homes and live under the Khilāfa [caliphate], as the crusaders increase persecution of the Muslims residing in Western lands. [..] Eventually, the grey zone will become extinct and there will be no place for greyish calls and movements. There will only be the camp of Iman [faith in Allah] versus the camp of kufr [disbelief]”. We should not fall into this trap.

 

France is also a key target of the extremists like Daesh because it, along with the United States, is the most engaged militarily from Mali to Syria, and from the Central African Republic to Iraq. But its policy is incoherent and we should critically review the “war on terror” promulgated immediately after the September 11 attacks and re-launched after the capture of Mosul by Daesh in the summer of 2014. The failure of the War on Terror strategy is obvious: there have been more attacks, not less and very often in Muslim countries themselves. Within the last few weeks, we have witnessed bombings in the Turkish city of Ankara; the attack on a Russian-operated plane that came down over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, killing all 224 people on board; and suicide attacks in Beirut in a popular suburb.

 

Never have so many people, especially the youth, been more engaged in extremist and violent groups like al-Qaida or Daesh, committed to what they believe is a resistance to international aggression against Muslims the world-over.

 

We should try to decipher the dynamics on the ground and grasp the context that render the Middle East a complex geography and reality. In this sense, it is unhelpful for pundits to simply reduce the current crisis in the region to solely Daesh. Rather, we must address the problems of poverty, education, foreign meddling, development, etc.

 

Is it not high time to think about the region as a whole and not only in military terms? We must confront Daesh to rid the world from its menace, but this can’t be achieved through bombing only. Instead, privileging a political solution is likely to yield in better results – and hopefully more lasting for a region that has been characterised by a spiral of chaos and instability especially since the US intervention in Iraq in 2003.

 

It is time too to push all regional powers, which have in their own way, compounded the Syrian conflict. The Vienna meeting which saw the participation of all these powers is perhaps a step in the right direction. It is also high time to robustly push for the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by ending the occupation. And last but not least, we should reconsider the demands voiced by the masses during the Arab Spring and the fulfilment of these demands is the best route to stability for the long-run.

 

Prioritising diplomacy and political solutions over bombings is the best strategy for France.

 

Click here to DOWNLOAD

 

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*A French journalist, Dr Alain Gresh is former editor of Le Monde diplomatiqueand the current editor of OrientXX1.info (online magazine). A specialist on the Middle East, he is president of the Association of French journalists specialised on the Maghreb and the Middle East (AJMO). His books include The PLO, The Struggle Within (Zed Books, London, 1986), Un péril islamiste? (Complexe, Bruxelles, 1994), Israël-Palestine, vérités sur un conflit (Fayard, Paris, 2001). He co-authored, with Dominique Vidal, An A to Z to the Middle East (Zed, 1990, and I B Tauris, 2004); Palestine 1947, un partage avorté (Complexe, Bruxelles, 1987); Golfe: Clefs pour une guerre annoncée (Le Monde éditions, Paris, 1990); andL’Islam, la république et le monde (Fayard, 2004). Gresh co-authored, with Didier Billion, Actualités de l’Etat palestinien (Complexe, Bruxelles, 2000) and, with Françoise Germain-Robin et Tariq Ramadan, L’Islam en questions (Actes-Sud/Sindbad, 2000).

Gresh-article