A lesson to pundits of anti-extremism and provocative journalism

We are certainly living in a very sensitive world, especially in South Asia, where conflicts based on ethnic identity or religious conscience is a fact of life. These are all issues that has gathered their own ideological and historical interpretations.

They thus need to be “handled with care” in public discourse, if one is serious in seeking a peaceful conclusion.

A case in point is where those who are only half baked outsiders to Islamism try to interpret that religion on their own political aspirations. Where media then drives the vehicle “illogically transporting” the wrong message.

This is therefore an important lesson to all in South Asia.

Read the article below.

ISLAM AND TERRORISM: ANOTHER EXTREMIST PERSPECTIVE

They certainly pray for peace and spiritual freedom in their lives

They certainly pray for peace and spiritual freedom in their lives

“Thousands of Muslim group members in Solo, Central Java staged a mass gathering that pledged their support to anti-terrorism drive in the country…. on Saturday,” – Xinhua reported on September 26. The report was another insight in to the heterogeneity of Islam, a clear message that not all Muslims are terrorists – an observation that seems glaringly obvious.

However, it seems this heterogeneity of society still eludes some media commentators. A day before the Xinhua report, the US based citizen journalism site Examiner.com published a two part series headlined ‘Islam and terrorism’. It claimed “In essence, Islam is based on war and violence and not on peace and charity. It preaches love and charity only for its own kind and anything outside of that is to be despised, exploited, and killed.”

It is perhaps not too difficult to simply dismiss this as eloquent drivel, masquerading as educated and informed opinion, but perhaps the damage is not that superficial. While certain interpretations of the Islamic scriptures can lead to Islamic extremism and even terrorism, non-Islamic attempts to literally interpret the Qur’an and present it as an unequivocally violent dogma, to the exclusion of more moderate interpretation of the texts, can also leads to non-Islamic extremism and perhaps even terrorism.

The erroneous assumptions in the ‘Islam and terrorism’ article are a result of a selective and literal interpretation of the Qur’an, an inability to understand that texts are subjective. The Qur’anic texts, like any other form of text hold no inherent meaning and can be read, interpreted and re-interpreted, often to suit the ideological and political needs of the interpreter. It is this diversity which enables one group of Muslims to become Islamic terrorist, who kill western civilians, while another join forces with the west to eradicate terrorism. In another example of Islamic anti-terrorism, the UK Independent reported in June 2008 that a Muslim Indian seminary – the 150-year-old Darul Uloom Deoband – had even issued a fatwa against terrorism insisting that Islam is a religion of peace.

The writer agues that Islam is not merely a spiritual doctrine but also contain a political and military doctrine – an observation that is not without outward merit. However it can also be argued that most religions either through scripture or convention contain elements of political and military doctrine and the slaughter of non-believers simply dismissed as inconsequential.

In arguing the intrinsic link between spiritual Islam and political Islam, it is perhaps ignorant to assume all politics in the Islamic world are dictated by the religious leaders; or that the West despite the benefit of the age of Enlightenment has altogether released it-self from the shackles of religious doctrine.

Perhaps what is more fruitful is not an us and them debate of Islam and Judeo-Christianity, but scholarly discourse of the ideological and cultural divisions within Islam, whereby promoting diversity and resisting the myth of a homogenous Islamic community that is ideologically and more importantly politico-militarily pitted against the West.

The debate of ‘God’ is not new, but it is perhaps important to note the contemporary discussion is staged in a political volatile environment in a cyber public-sphere, that has transcended the limitations of conventional communication. This global media environment opens up another proverbial can-of-worms through citizen journalism and its role in reporting terrorism – the emergence of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ with unprecedented access to media consumers.

Journalists covering conflict now have a greater responsibility in addressing core ideological issues surrounding the conflicts they cover. They should perhaps seriously attempt to contribute intelligent dialogue to the plethora of cyber comment and report terrorism beyond the populist rhetoric.

Reference:

Duffey, John. (September 25, 2009). Islam and Terrorism – Part Two. Examiner.com – National (online).

Duffey, John. (September 25, 2009). Islam and Terrorism – Part One. Examiner.com – National (online).

Xinhua. (September 25, 2009). Muslim groups support anti-terrorism drive in Indonesia. Xinhua (online).

Buncombe, Andrew. (June 2, 2008). Muslim seminary issues fatwa against terrorism. The Independent (online).

From the blog – Media & War – September 27, 2009, 01:16

http://mediaandwar.wordpress.com/2009/09/27/islam-and-terrorism-another-extremist-perspective/

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