Christians, Muslims, Should Fight Extremism

Opinion: Horrific New Zealand Massacre Emboldened Islamists in the West

Over the course of weeks, all over the world, Radical Islamic groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have been running a heated race to exploit the horrific massacre of 50 Muslims during the Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15.

According to the leading Lebanese daily Annahar Newspaper, the massacre was like the “kiss of life” that brought them back to the scene after their influence began to fade away. All over the social media, Islamists have been striving to win new supporters and followers, claiming that the massacre was part of a Western Christian plot to annihilate Islam.

These Islamist organizations portrayed the racist assault of the extremist Brenton Tarant as a “Christian-Islamic conflict” and explicitly described it as a “crusade” and a “Western attack” on Islam.

Recently, a few days before the horrific massacre, I posted a question on Facebook asking: “Do Christians Hate Muslims? Why?” The question was posted after I gave a Bible study in a church where I encouraged Christians to love Muslims and build bridges with them.

That Sunday, one of the church elders expressed his distrust towards his Muslim neighbor in a polite way. That inspired me to pose my question on Facebook. I did that only for the purpose of emphasizing that Christians should love Muslims and reach out to their neighbors. Just before the terrorist attack, I had more than 300 comments by Christians; most of them asserted that Christians do not hate anyone, but are either afraid of Muslims or do not understand them.

However, the more interesting comments that were posted by Muslims came after the massacre. One of them, who lives in the United Kingdom, blamed me directly for hate against Muslims, and indirectly for the massacre. Another Egyptian Muslim lady (whom I know and lives in Cairo), asked me directly: “Hesham Shehab, why don’t you call that massacre ‘Christian terrorism’?” 

What prompted the racist murderer to launch his terrorist attack on Muslims – and this is important – was his racist ideological convictions and not any Christian beliefs or Christian religious texts.

On the other hand, there is a clear contradiction in position of Islamist movements on what happened in the mosques of Christchurch: While they show their anger towards the killing of Muslims by the racist terrorist Tarant, at the same time they forget that ISIS killed more than 300 Muslims in a mosque in Al-Rawdah city of El-Arish in Sinai, in 2017, during Friday prayers as well. It is the Islamists themselves, not white nationalists, who have killed greater numbers of their co-religionists.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, and their supporters, have been systematically instigating Muslims, over the past two weeks, through social media, and urging them to take revenge for the massacre.

While Islamist groups exploit the New Zealand massacre to inflame Muslims’ feelings against the West and present themselves as the primary defender of Islam and Muslims, most of the victims of those Radical Islamists are Muslims. Muslims account for about 95% of the victims according to some estimates.

It was to be expected that violent Islamist groups, like ISIS and Al Qaeda, and Political Islamist movements, like the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates would invest in using the New Zealand’s terrorist attack to promote the alleged mutual hatred between Islam and the West.

Such white supremacist attacks seem to legitimize the narrative Islamist movements and incur sympathy for them in the West and help them penetrate and control Islamic communities in the West. 

The old rule; each action has an equal reaction applies in this context. The upsurge in the extremism of white nationalists in the West will be met by increasing militancy in the ranks of the Islamist movements. 

The rise of terrorist acts perpetrated by the extreme Right in the West, and its appearance in the political scene in Europe, is in part a response to terrorist attacks committed by the violent Islamist organizations and the sense that western governments have not responded effectively. These Islamist movements are striving to destroy the Western culture, and impose their ideology, and believe that it cannot be reconciled with the Christian West.

Those Islamist groups emphasize the false idea that the position towards Muslims in the “Christian” West is “anti-Islamic,” rather than a reflection of concerns about the behaviors of these Islamist groups, not all Muslims.

The extremist Political Islamic groups have been promoting, in their discourse, the idea of ​​mutual hostility between East and West. This comes in the context of their nostalgia for the glories of the Islamic caliphate and its conquests. They boast of the past invasion of Europe by the Ottomans who stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1529.

Their distant agenda for re-conquering Europe, and the West in general, springs from the so-called “World Leadership” ideology, coined by Hassan al-Banna (the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sayed Qutb). Islamic Supremacists believe that they are the chosen people of Allah, and that they have a burden to lead humanity and establish Allah’s kingdom on Earth. This fantasy has led many Islamic movements to focus on plans to control Europe, where they have established many Islamic centers. Their goal in that is to infiltrate Western political decision-making institutions and departments.

There are three steps that may diffuse this difficult dilemma. Firstly, a candid conversation with the Muslim communities is badly needed, away from pointing fingers and accusing others of Islamophobia. Secondly, Muslim communities should launch or support reform movements that deny Radical Islamists the position of leadership in their communities and encourage real integration in the Western culture.

Islamic movements that preach hate are detrimental to their communities. Some of them are the Brotherhood, CAIR, American Muslims for Palestine, Muslim American Society and their affiliates. They should be exposed, and those involved with criminal or terrorist activities should be banned. Muslim communities need to embrace the freedoms of faith and speech and place them above their culture of shame. Thirdly, Western communities, including Christians, should actively reach out to their Muslim communities and help them in their struggle against Islamic extremism.

We are all in this together.

Hesham Shehab

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Hesham Shehab
Hesham Shehab
Educator, Journalist, Columnist, Islamic Expert, Muslim Expert, Human Rights Activist, Pastor at Salam Christian Fellowship | Website

Adjunct Faculty at College of DuPage, Formerly Adjunct Faculty at American University of Beirut and Pastor at Peace Lutheran Church Lombard, IL Name pronounciation: HI-shahm SHI-hab  Hebrews 12: 4 & Philippians 1: 29

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