Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Religious Liberty, Security and Islamist Terrorism

Recent events in the Middle East have focused world attention on how governments (in this case, Israel) should appropriately respond to the threat of Islamic terrorism (although of course, most main stream media outlets will bend over backwards to avoid labeling Hamas and Hezbollah "terrorist organizations" even though that is exactly what they are!). In the light of this, today's Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin by the World Evangelical Alliance (of which The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada is an Associate Member) is particularly helpful. It was written and researched by Elizabeth Kendal.

Terrorism Threatened Religious Liberty and Security

Islamists are striving to 'liberate' and 'reclaim' 'Islamic lands' previously under Islamic rule, such as the former Ottoman Empire. Furthermore they are campaigning both politically and militarily to expand Islamic territory to bring the world ultimately under Islamic domination. Their strategy involves ideological indoctrination, dawa (Islamic proselytism), jihad (Islamic holy war) and international as well as domestic Islamic terrorism. Islamic terrorism is one of the greatest threats to openness and religious liberty in the world today. Needless to say, not all Muslims are militant or Islamist. Whilst multitudes of Muslims do support the Islamist agenda, it is often only because the totalitarian Islamic regimes they live under secure their allegiance by removing their rights and liberties and imprisoning them in fear and ignorance. Moreover liberal and 'reformist' Muslims who genuinely promote secularism, peaceful co-existence, openness and religious liberty are regarded by fundamentalist Islamists as apostates and infidels, deserving of death.

Terrorism is a form of unconventional warfare using or threatening violence to generate fear, terror and hardship. Its ultimate aim is to achieve compliance with specific political, religious, ideological or personal demands. Its real target is not the victim of the terrorist act but the state or group to which that person belongs. Islamists employ terrorism when they know they cannot win politically or militarily, although sometimes it is purely for publicity or popularity. Through terrorism they aim to make resistance to Islamic demands politically or personally nsustainable. The act of terror triggers a battle of wills. There will be a winner and a loser - there can never be a tied result. Capitulating to terrorist demands may give temporary respite from terror but it actually delivers victory to the terrorists. Believing they have the group or state hostage or retreating, they are emboldened to simply move on to the next item on their agenda.

Islamic terrorism could not occur without ideological indoctrination (primarily through madrassahs and mosques), recruitment, military training, and logistics including funding and arming. Since the 1970s Saudi Arabia has been disseminating Wahhabist Islamic material through the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the West. This material is fundamentally Islamist: pro-Sharia, pro-jihad, and virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Christian. This has been a primary source worldwide of Wahhabist ideology and Islamic radicalisation. The Islamic Revolution in Iran (1979) further radicalised and militarised the Shiites, whilst the Afghan jihad against the Russians (ended 1992) did the same with the Sunnis. Altogether this has led to the weakening of Arab and Persian nationalism (which was largely secular and progressive in nature) and the global resurgence of militant Islamism.

All Christians who believe in the principle of religious liberty - that all people should be free to believe, practise their faith, and even change their religion (Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 18) - should pray that the ideology of militant Islamism will fail and that the path to jihad and terror will be disrupted at every level. May God frustrate the ways of the wicked (Psalm 146:9b).

No comments: