London terror: No. 30,499 in a series
Commenting on the London attack that killed three and injured 40, acting Deputy commissioner Mark Rowley told the BBC that it was “Islamist-related terrorism.”
A day earlier, on March 21, an Islamist suicide car bomber killed 10 people in Mogadishu.
A day before that, two dozen people were blown up by an Islamist car bomber in a Baghdad neighborhood.
Two days before that, a mother and her two children were among four people wiped out by three Islamist suicide bombers in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
A day before that, Islamist Shiite rebels fired two rockets into a Sunni mosque in Yemen, killing 34 people during Friday prayers.
On the same day, in Paris, a father and son’s throats were slit by a family member yelling “Allah Akbar” (God is great).
A day earlier, a young child was blown to bits by an Islamist suicide bomber in Bangladesh.
On that same day, March 16, in South Ukkadam, India, an atheist was hacked to death by an angry Muslim over Facebook posts attacking his religion.
I know that it’s painful to consider the stunning reality that 30,499 deadly attacks could be committed in the name of one religion.
That is just a little glimpse of last week’s terror report from the Third World and elsewhere. Worldwide, since 9/11, Islamist terrorists have carried out more than 30,499 deadly terror attacks, according to the independent watchdog site TheReligionOfPeace.com.
Most of these attacks never make it to CNN or The New York Times or Facebook, because the victims don’t live in places like London, Brussels or San Bernardino. So, on March 15, when Boko Haram members slit the throats of three hostages in Borno, Nigeria, while reciting from the Koran, Wolf Blitzer wasn’t on it. There was no “breaking news” drama on our screens.
Similarly, when a pregnant woman was gunned down by Islamist terrorists on March 16 in Ayati, Nigeria, it made no noise in our world.
In the West, we see a fraction of the carnage done in the name of Islam. No matter how much media attention we give to the attacks on our soil, it doesn’t come close to capturing the scope of the global problem.
I know that it’s painful to consider the stunning reality that 30,499 deadly attacks could be committed in the name of one religion. It challenges our narrative that all religions are pretty much the same, that there’s good and bad in all religions, and there’s no special reason to isolate one in particular. This is a comforting narrative that can lull us into complacency.
Still, there’s an aspirational value to that narrative. It gives us something to look forward to. For humanity to succeed, we need it to become true. We need a reformation of Islam so that, one day, the number 30,499 will be reduced to a very low number and we can truly say that the religion is just like any other.
Because right now, it’s not. Too much killing, too much horror, is done in its name.
It’s no longer enough to say, “This is not Islam.” For the killers doing the killing, it is Islam. It may be a radicalized, supremacist version of Islam, but there’s enough supporting text in the holy Koran to make the killers believe they’re doing God’s work.
Despite our efforts to counter this radical Islam, reform only gets more distant and the violence only gets worse. Defending the faith, accusing extremists of perverting it and engaging in interfaith kumbaya is fine, but it’s not enough. True reform will come not from interfaith but from innerfaith, from the inside, from Muslims taking responsibility for the violence done in the name of their religion.
It will come from Muslims who have the courage to acknowledge and confront the extremist parts of their texts and reinterpret them in a holy way that will honor their faith.
One such group is the little-known Muslim Reform Movement, a group of Muslim scholars and spiritual activists whose leaders call for “a respectful, merciful and inclusive interpretation of Islam” and reject interpretations that call for “any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam.”
For some reason, this movement has gained little traction among progressive circles, even though its founding declaration sounds like a love letter to progressive values. Going forward, we must ensure that such moderate groups are no longer marginalized by the mainstream, and are empowered to make progress in their supremely difficult mission.
We must pray that their non-violent and tolerant interpretation of Islam will one day take hold throughout the Jihadist world and win over the hearts of the killers, even if it takes a century. We must pray that the number 30,499 will eventually be reduced to zero.
Yes, that would be a miracle for humanity and for Islam, but God is great.