Just don’t mention foreign policy

British soldiers in Afghanistan

Roshan picRoshan Muhammed Salih is the editor of 5Pillars. You can follow him on Twitter @RMSalih


Roshan Muhammed Salih
says that the terrorism debate is characterised by so much emotional and infantile analysis, as well as so much head-burying in the sand, that terror attacks on the West are bound to continue for a long time yet. 

On July 15, a few hours after the horrendous Nice attack which killed 84 people, I tweeted that France was “an Islamophobic nation with a hugely destructive foreign policy and these horrible attacks are a terrible blowback.”

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I admit that the tweet was controversial and that my timing would be considered inappropriate by many who would otherwise agree with my sentiments; but the overwhelmingly hateful response I received from Islamophobes, racists and the pure ignorant has convinced me that the West will be at war with “Islamic extremists” for a long time to come.

Commentators like me have been warning about the West’s failed approach to counter-terrorism for years: The bombings of Muslim countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Mali; the racism and Islamophobia inherent in state counter-terrorism policies and the media; the disenfranchisement felt by Muslim youth in the West; and, yes, the growth of radical ideology which has been allowed to flourish because of these other factors.

And we’ve been warning about the potentially fatal consequences of this failed policy which has now manifested itself in multiple terror attacks across the Continent, in France, Germany and, perhaps, soon in Britain.

But I’ve come to realise that the political and media establishment do not want to listen to actual solutions to the problem. Rather, in the emotional aftermath of a brutal terror attack they prefer to satisfy the mob by advocating yet more security responses which entail more bombing abroad, harsher security measures at home, and placing the blame overwhelmingly on “Islamist” ideology.

That satisfies the mob for sure, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

Hate mail

After posting my controversial tweet most people didn’t want to engage with my actual arguments; instead, they just launched a lot of Islamophobic and racist abuse in my direction.

Most of this abuse came from anonymous accounts with very few followers, which makes me think that they were part of an organised campaign specifically to target me.

Others seemed to have come from genuine accounts belonging to Donald Trump supporters in the USA who were probably tweeting me from their trailer parks after they’d downed a few beers.

For example:

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And then there was this article in the Washington Times which completely ignored my repeated condemnations of the Nice Attack and ISIS. And another tweet by the “journalist” Julia Hartley Brewer which I believe led to even more death threats and abuse.

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Let me be clear: I abhor all terrorism, whether that terrorism is directed at innocent civilians in the West (which we quite rightly hear about through 24 hour news coverage), or against innocent civilians bombed by Western countries (which we hear far less about).

And I also abhor the terrorist groups ISIS and al Qaeda who have corrupted my religion and dragged it through the dirt in the eyes of the world.

Moreover, I do not tweet to shock; I tweet because I believe what I am saying is true and am prepared to defend it.

Westerners brought up on “war on terror” propaganda may not like to be reminded about the West’s egregious record of invading and occupying abroad and of Islamophobia and racism at home, but we must keep reminding them if it.

Does that excuse what happened in Nice on July 15 or in Bavaria and Rouen? No, of course it doesn’t and terrorists and those plotting to commit acts of terror should indeed be met with a harsh security response.

But unless we acknowledge and address ALL the factors that are behind terror attacks, radicalisation and extremism we will never actually stop the bombs going off. And surely that should be our goal rather than angry bluster or blowing off steam?

So we must continue to shout loud and clear that this uniquely security approach simply does not work and will not keep the West safe; in fact all it does is create more resentment and anger in the Muslim world and among Muslim populations in the West.

Only a holistic approach to the terrorism problem will actually work and that includes Western countries reflecting deeply on their own foreign policy and Islamophobia at home, as well as genuinely collaborating with grassroots Muslim communities in the West to root out extremism.

As for my trolls, and especially the redneck Donald Trump supporters, they should break up with their partners and just be cousins.

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