From initially talking of bringing “democracy” to the region, the USA - which has been fighting radical Islamist organizations ever since the 9/11 attacks - is now talking about “eradicating” ISIS. It is of course impossible to ignore the contribution that America has made to the building of peace in various parts of the world, such as Kosovo. The sensitivity it displays on the subject of supplying humanitarian aid to almost everywhere in the world, despite its own economic problems, is also praiseworthy. There is also no doubt that democracy needs to come to Islamic lands and that the violence of ISIS needs to cease to exist for the sake of world peace. The important thing, however, is how this is to be done.
One concrete fact stands after 13 years of military operations, from Afghanistan to Libya and from Nigeria to Iraq, radical terrorist groups have not ceased to exist through military force, violence and oppression, on the contrary, they grow even stronger.
Statistics reveal that the USA has spent some $7 trillion in Afghanistan and Iraq. Again according to the figures, $10 million of US taxpayers’ money goes to the fight against terror every hour. The lives that have been lost are, of course, beyond any material measurement.
That picture can be changed, however. This is what needs to be done:
1. All kinds of military operation, including air strikes, just further anti-Americanism. Such strikes lead to civilian deaths, damage cities and destroy infrastructure, causing increasing fury in the countries concerned and that fury mostly benefits radical organizations. Spending billions of dollars on producing people opposing it, and thus providing human resources for terror organizations, is a most undesirable state of affairs for the USA.
2. Although killing off the leaders of terror organizations is presented as an effective technique by some military analysts, looked at from a wider perspective, no results are actually obtained from it at all. In the most recent incident, 25 people lost their lives in a suicide attack on a UN convoy in the immediate wake of the killing of the leader of al-Shabaab. Violence grows in proportion to the scale of the destruction, resulting in a vicious circle of violence.
3. In order to break the spiral of terror, it is essential to see the factors affecting people in the region and to assess them accurately. The most influential of these factors is without doubt Islam.
4. President Obama’s emphasizing that ISIS is not representative of Islam is a most valuable and important step: However, the ideology that ISIS does represent needs to be accurately identified. Indeed, ISIS does not represent Islam and Muslims, but unfortunately many of the values it espouses are based on interpretations found in basic Islamic works. Careful examination of the basic works of Sunni Islamic culture such as those of Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi shows that they do refer to primitive and barbaric modes of punishment such as “striking on the neck and stoning,” even though these are not in the Qur’an. First and foremost, these remarks must be removed from Islamic sources and there must be a return to the essence of the faith, to the Qur’an in other words. The whole Islamic world must be told, in detail, that there is no violence in the Qur’an and that such interpretations are incompatible with the Qur’an.
5. If we want a spirit based on love, compassion, understanding and affection to prevail across the Islamic world, the way to bring this about is a return to the moral values of the Qur’an, which have been ignored for centuries. Through such concepts as, “You have your faith and I have my faith” and “There is no compulsion in the faith,” Islam laid the foundations of secularism and democracy 14 centuries ago. Once people live by the Qur’an, nobody can be accused of heresy for belonging to a different sect, nobody will be killed for being a Christian or Jew, no criminals will be crucified and nobody will be enslaved because of a different ethnic origin. When people abide by the Qur’an, everyone, be they Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist will live as first-class citizens, democracy will function properly and universal law will ensure the provision of justice.
6. Therefore, what needs to be done is to expose, with evidence from the Qur’an, the invalidity of the information that ISIS and other radical terror groups use as supposed evidence and that appears in various Islamic sources. Thousands of young Europeans and Americans who have joined ISIS can be won back through education and by revealing the truth instead of error, not by killing tens of thousands of people in the Middle East and raining bombs down on them.
7. As a superpower, the USA also has a powerful military. It has great expertise in the strategy of war and invasion. Yet what would really become the USA is to build and develop civilization and to contribute to progress. The way to do that is through educational and cultural activities. Correct education with accurate ideas needs to be implemented; teaching the true Islam based on the Qur’an, rather than the classic, orthodox conception of Islam, can make people who currently favor violence espouse peace, love and brotherhood instead. This would be far more economical than spending trillions of dollars on weaponry and later spending billions more on humanitarian aid, and is a method that will produce guaranteed results.
8. Some circles in the USA are wary of supporting the teaching of the Islam of the Qur’an. One of the reasons for that caution is the false idea that “It is wrong for America to teach Muslims about Islam.” The USA should certainly not impose any particular idea or insist upon any particular opinion on Muslims. What the USA needs to do is to support cultural activities intended to teach and spread the Islam of the Qur’an.
9. It would be a very good idea for Muslim countries to be included in the coalition to be set up against ISIS. However, it must not be forgotten that a harsh and radical concept of Islam, similar to that of ISIS, also prevails in many of the countries in that coalition. Beheadings as capital punishment are carried out in those countries, women are treated as second-class citizens and freedom of thought and expression is routinely trampled underfoot. It is therefore impossible for the mindset that imposes a ruthless lifestyle on its own peoples to fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria or to provide the peoples of other regions with the peace they long for. Surely there are reasonable, rational and modern leaders in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. However, most of the time these people are forced to give in to the demands of the fundamentalists living in those countries. For this reason, it is paramount that these leaders are supported and made stronger. If the USA is to forge an alliance it must be with Muslims of the Qur’an, and it must develop common strategies with them.
10. What the Middle East, with its hundreds of sects, beliefs and ethnicities, needs is not new micro-states in perpetual conflict with one another, but a union such as the European Union and a spirit of alliance.
11. An Islamic world capable of acting as one in industry, economy, defense and most importantly of all in cultural activities will lighten the burden on the USA. It will be able to resolve its own problems, guarantee its own energy resources and prepare the ground for the ending of conflicts and regeneration.
Implementation of the solutions summarized in this film is essential, not just for the Middle East, but for world peace. Instead of resorting to a new military operation that will doubtlessly last for years and produce no results, the rational thing is to turn to these proposals, which have never been tried before but that would indeed produce the desired results. Unless the foundations of terror are eradicated through educational and cultural activities - unless the swamp is dried up in other words - there is no point in simply swatting at mosquitoes.
Our common prayer is to achieve a world in which there is no terror and violence, in which all people are valued, no matter what their religious beliefs, language or race, a world of joy and happiness. We hope that the USA will be instrumental in making that common prayer a reality and leading the way to peace and brotherhood.