November 14, 2015 by Paul Goldsmith
At first I had nothing. Nothing at all. The second mass murder of civilians in a year in the same city by homicidal maniacs inspired by the same ideology. A strategy of multiple, coordinated killings by people hell-bent on their death in addition to that of others, which by its nature is near impossible to stop. The usual catch-all claim/excuse from those claiming to be the perpetrators that it was “because” of a foreign policy (this time Syria, but it might as well be the rebel attack on the Death Star in the original Star Wars so desperate is the search for justification), AND that it was immoral Western values they were attacking. Then the polarized reaction, particularly on social media, of those hell-bent on using this to attack Islam, and those hell-bent on insisting that ‘Western Foreign Policy’ causes these things. Nothing new then. So I had nothing new.
Eventually, stumbling around intellectually as if I were drunk, I tripped over Iyad El Baghdadi (here), an Arab Spring Activist who was expelled by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in response to his activities. He had something. It certainly gave me a lot more clarity.
El-Baghdadi tends to use a series of tweets to make his point, and then engage in reasoned debate with anyone willing to engage with him in a sensible way. Two of the threads that have resulted can be found here and here.
The first of these is really important. In it, El-Baghdadi argues that ISIS want to eliminate any sense that it is possible for Muslims and non-Muslims to co-exist, because if that is possible, then the binary world of “believers” and “non-believers” can’t exist.
Any sense of a “Greyzone” in between, where, in the words of ISIS, the Muslim and the Kufr co-exist must therefore be destroyed, so that, in El-Baghdadi’s words, the world becomes as black and white as ISIS’s flag.
ISIS have quoted Osama Bin Laden’s view that “The world today can be divided into two camps. Bush spoke the truth when he said ‘Either you are with us, or with the Terrorists’. Meaning, either you are with the crusade, or you are with Islam.”
So, El-Baghdadi argued, the worst thing that we in the Western World can do is give ISIS what they want. Which would be to turn on the Muslim world, giving them no choice but to align themselves with ISIS. Given the ability of ISIS, who represent a tiny percentage of the Muslim World to terrorise us, imagine, asks El-Baghdadi, a situation where they get a lot more support.
The answer therefore is to find authentic Muslim ideological allies against ISIS, as only Muslims can eliminate ISIS. We should remember that the vast majority of Muslims already regard ISIS as their enemy. After all, ISIS kill more Muslims than any other group. So, we in the Western World MUST ensure that the greyzone is maintained.
Which is why, according to El-Baghdadi, the attacks took place yesterday. They were an act of desperation in response to the West’s help for refugees fleeing from Syria and Libya. All those Western democracies lining up to say that they welcome refugees? That didn’t fit the narrative.
“You know what pissed off Islamist extremists the most about Europe? It was watching their very humane, moral response to the refugee crisis. Seeing Europeans line up to help and embrace Muslim refugees infuriated and shattered the worldview of so many Islamist extremists. The Islamist extremist worldview says that we’re separate, different, hate each other and are eternal enemies. Wanna shatter the Islamist extremist worldview? Show them we aren’t separate or different and don’t hate each and can be eternal friends.”
So, ISIS realised they had to to something to stop us taking in refugees. They had to do something to remind us that Muslims are supposed to be our enemies. They had to do something to make us fear these ‘strangers’ in our midst.
That they had to resort to what they did on Friday night, and that, according to the latest reports, they trained and sent 15 to 18 year old boys to carry out these murders, shows that the West is winning, not losing.
Whatever we do now, we must not stop winning. We must be brave and maintain the greyzone. Yes, people died last night. But the alternative is going to be a war in which millions more could die. So we must show the same courage as the French people are showing today.