Lord Ahmed on Jihadism/ Islamism
and the problem in the Middle East
Dr. Mozammel Haque
Last Friday, 20 June, 2014, Lord Dykes introduce a question what is the Government’s assessment of the threats from the spreads of militant aggressive jihadism in the Middle East. So there was a debate in the House of Lords on 20 June 2014 on Jihadism and Middle East in the context of recent problems in Iraq after the ISIS attack on Iraq. Lord Ahmed participated in the debate and spoke on Jihadism/Islamism.
LORD AHMED (Non-Aft)
Defination of Jihadism/Islamism
Lord Ahmed (Non-Afl) said, “I am neither an Arab nor indigenous English, and jihadism for me is difficult to understand, as “jihad” is in Arabic and “Islamism” is in English. What does it really mean? As I read it in the Koran, jihad means “struggle for justice”, and it has two main categories. First, there is the inner struggle against evil, bad habits and temptations, and to strive for good deeds. The struggle for justice means a jihad against poverty, illiteracy, sexual violence—and, yes, there is a concept of a just war, where people are suffering from brutal regimes. Some scholars say that it is a duty to rescue people from that situation. I am sure that this does not mean individuals from Croydon or Luton who could go and declare jihad.”
“Sadly, words like jihadism and Islamism are used to describe despicable violent extremists and terrorists who proclaim to be Muslims. Let us have a look at two examples. ISIS, of which we know little, although it is much talked about, is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi but is made up of members of the Baathist party, former Saddam Hussein soldiers, militant Sunni fighters and Sunni youth, who have suffered from poverty and alienation, and terrorists. None of them has the same causes or beliefs, but they have two main enemies—the Maliki regime and the Assad regime,” argued Lord Ahmed.
Lord Ahmed continued, “Then we have Boko Haram, a terrorist organisation that commits the most heinous crimes. The word Boko means western culture and Haram means forbidden—so it means rejection of western culture. Then there are the terrorists in Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Taliban, which attacked the Karachi airport; all those fighters were from Uzbekistan. They are no representatives of Islam or Muslims, just as the Lords Resistance Army is not representative of Christians, nor are the RSS or VHP representatives of the great Hindu religion, nor is the Buddhist 969 movement in Burma or the activities of Buddhist monk Gnanasara in Sri Lanka, whose organisation Bodu Bala Sena, or BBS, has allegedly killed seven Muslims, including a child with a sword, in the past two days.”
Imposition of Democracy
Then Lord Ahmed spoke about the imposition of democracy. He said, “I hope that we have learnt that we cannot impose our form of democracy and expect other cultures and tribes to follow it, as was experienced by Mr Bush and Mr Blair in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are just experiencing the fallout in Libya after Colonel Gaddafi’s downfall.”
“The French rejected the legitimate elections won by the Islamic FIS Party in Algeria in 1991, the Americans refused to accept Hamas in Palestine and a large part of the world rejected the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. My point is that the international community withheld recognition of legitimate elections even while it accepted Sisi in Egypt, as well as sheikhdoms and kingdoms in the Middle East, as legitimate Governments. These are political struggles that require political solutions and invasions or bombings do not result in long-term solutions,” argued Lord Ahmed.
Lord Ahmed also recollected and said, “I was in Iraq last year and met many leaders. I also met the Speaker of the Iraqi Assembly, who told me about the isolation of the Sunni community, how Maliki had ignored the Sunnis in the north, and how he thought it was the Shias who were siphoning off all the wealth and had all the power. In most Arab countries, including Iraq, there is rough justice. If you look at some of their judicial systems, you find that confession-based evidence, forced through torture, is a norm.”
Finally, Lord Ahmed said, “I fear that unless we engage Saudi Arabia and Iran in all these states from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen to Lebanon, we may, unfortunately, see an even longer period of sectarian violence than Europe experienced during the 30-year war in the 17th century.”
“We should not feel threatened by any economic or trade organisation between Muslim states because in my view, if Europe can be at peace due to the creation of a common market, there is a huge potential for the Muslim world to create peace. There is potential for $4 trillion a year business between it and the rest of the world, and peace among 1.5 billion people, as well as the rest of the world,” argued Lord Ahmed.