RADICALISM is a plague fuelled by violence. As a result of erroneous and aggressive policies in the last 20 years, it has gained strength. The United States’ interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq were initiated on the grounds of the war on terror; however, the method of using violence and anger as the main strategy to combat radicalism has allowed this plague to flourish and take root.
Currently, the US is facing this mistake it has made in the past. President Donald Trump has temporarily banned the citizens of seven countries from entering the US for security reasons. However, this war should be evaluated thoroughly in terms of the choices and their consequences.
First, it should be noted that Trump is the kind of leader the Muslim community and its leaders who are sincerely seeking peace should ally with. Trump’s message is neither enigmatic nor difficult to understand, as he basically takes a stern and rigid approach against radicalism.
Radical terrorists, who are constantly perpetrating violence in the name of religion with the dark mentality of rage, violence and death, have always had feelings of bitterness, anger and hatred towards the US. There are a substantial number of people who harbour such bitterness against the US, yet at the same time, greatly benefit from its education system, social supports, freedoms, culture, quality and prosperity.
Understandably, Trump wants to take measures to protect the citizens of his country. What is erroneous here is not his intent, but the method he uses.
Bombing, banning, erecting sets of walls will always yield the same result: hatred. Hatred can lead to resentment in the hearts of even the most soft-hearted Muslims who love America, and who believe in friendly relations with Christians and Jews. It can lead to feelings of mistrust and isolation. The feelings of rejection and not being loved are never constructive, they are always destructive.
Radicals welcome such divisiveness, and feed off of the opportunity to justify their hatred. So, a statement or imposition by the US made in anger is exactly what they want.
They see it as a justification for their rabid aggression, as it makes them even more violent. Thus, the methodology Trump is choosing is not helping the war on terror, rather, it emboldens the terrorists.
Terrorism is a problem that not only plagues the US, but the entire world. Its solution does not lie in isolating the country from the rest of the world; it is only possible by confronting it together through education.
An education campaign would only cost a fraction of what bombs and walls would cost. It would not kill people, nor destroy cities, a recipe that breeds terrorism. It does not kill the terrorists, but rather, destroys the ideology that motivates and drives them. This is why intellectual fight would be much more efficient and a lasting solution. In this regard, Trump and Muslims that believe in peace should take advantage of this opportunity. It is high time to join forces and look for a practical, achievable and scientific solution against terrorism.
To achieve this, the existence of an effective mechanism of presidential consultants, and especially, advisory committees that will exchange views with trustworthy units in the Middle East is important. An evaluation and a decision-making mechanism based on the overall views of Trump’s own party and his people will eliminate the appearance of“a lonely man” and help him make more fruitful decisions.
Radicalism is global. Just as radicals may appear from the seven countries in question, a European citizen, and even a US citizen, may turn out to be radical. There is no way to resolve this problem by putting bans on some particular countries. Moreover, according to data collected by Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute, between 1975 and 2015, there have been zero American deaths on US soil at the hands of foreign terrorists from the seven Muslim countries listed. As it is seen, the problem is not the countries, but the mindset itself.
An effective education campaign against radicalism, rage and hatred should be conducted in concert with Muslims. Ideology is what breeds terrorism.
Until now, ideology remains as the only issue that has not been addressed. Trump should be the first US president to accomplish this.
He would see that it will produce conclusive results.
As true Muslims, this is what we wish for: America should exist as a joyful, prosperous, democratic and free country. America should also work towards solving the problem of radicalism in cooperation with genuine, reasonable Muslims. This should not be done by setting boundaries and issuing bans, but through efforts of love, education and science.
It would be welcome by the Islamic world if Trump joins hands with Muslims in the ideological struggle against terrorism.
Adnan Oktar's piece in New Straits Times: