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Old Sunday, July 10, 2016
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Moment to contemplate


AS the Muslim world celebrates Eidul Fitr, many in spots around the globe have been deprived of the joys of the festival, due mainly to war and terrorism. In fact, it appears as if most of the Muslim world is in perpetual crisis. Vicious civil wars rage in Syria and Yemen, with significant external involvement, while militants struck the ‘usual’ targets (Iraq, Afghanistan) as well as newer locations (Madina, Istanbul, Dhaka) in the run-up to Eid. Violent militant gangs acting in the name of Islam — IS, Al Qaeda, TTP etc — have shed much innocent blood, as the silent majority in Muslim lands struggles to formulate a coherent response to this hijacking of their faith. Moreover, militants have struck targets in non-Muslim locales — Paris, Brussels, Orlando — feeding Islamophobia that leads to hate crimes against peaceful Muslims. Indeed, today the social fabric of the Muslim world appears in tatters, with societies fragmented.

There are complex issues that fuel militancy and extremism in Muslim lands. For one, there are genuine grievances regarding the mistreatment of Muslims; the disputes of Palestine and Kashmir have festered for decades without resolution, while Muslims in countries like Myanmar face appalling levels of discrimination. But internally, Muslim ruling elites have failed their polities. In far too many Muslim states, strongmen lord it over the people; ruling families and cliques live in luxury as the masses toil in an atmosphere of physical and economic insecurity. It is the lack of social, political and economic justice in the Muslim world that pushes some amongst the disenchanted into the arms of extremism, with those questioning democracy and promoting atavistic systems, such as IS’s so-called caliphate, appearing to have all the answers. The reality of what the militants peddle is, of course, much darker, but far too many are giving ear to their appeals. Moreover, geopolitical tussles within the Muslim world are major sources of instability. So where does the process of renewal start? Perhaps the key lies with Muslim rulers; instead of preserving the status quo, they must promote participatory governance, and the Muslim state must be one which delivers social, economic and political justice without prejudice to all that live within its borders. Unless Muslim elites come to these realisations, the militant tide, and the chaos it brings, will be impossible to confront. Though it is time for celebration, Muslim states and societies need to consider how best to confront the monster of militancy.

Source: Moment to contemplate
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2016
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