By Dr Alhagi Manta Drammeh
Terrorism is colourless with no religion or ethnicity. Those who perpetuate terrorism are a bunch of criminals and bandits who should be condemned for their abominable and irreligious acts in the strongest unequivocal terms. I write this reflection while the horrible acts in Paris yesterday are still unfolding. It is reported to being the worst in France since the end of the Second World War. It indeed has greater geo-political implications for the French domestic politics and international relations.
In terms of the French domestic politics, there is already tight security put in place and their will be surveillance on activities of some Muslim individuals and Islamic organisations. That implies that some Muslims and Islamic organisations may feel that liberties are curtailed and they are accused until they prove their innocence. Maybe, the events will create more consciousness amongst the French Muslims in order to make more efforts to be integrated into the French society. This implies that the French state should also develop policies that will facilitate more integration in order to dampen the feeling of marginalisation and victimisation of Muslims who constitute the biggest religious minority in France. In light of multiculturalism, there is no perfect model.
However, there is a need for constant learning and unlearning. What I mean by that is that one has to learn good effective models from other experiences and social experimentation if you would like in order to entrench principles of diversity and plurality. The rich French heritage going back to the periods of Enlightenment and the French Revolution can be a source of great enlightenment and enrichment. The present rich diversity in fact of France can really be a source of formidable strength.
Regarding the global geo-political dynamics, the current events will have far-reaching implications.
First, it seems to me that what happened in France may have connection with the unfolding political instability in the Middle East and particularly in Syria with the establishment of the ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant). Second, it interestingly coincided with the report that John Jihadist was killed (evaporated) in a “precise” drone attack yesterday.
Third, on a more sombre poignant note, it will have a bearing on the humanitarian crisis regarding refugees attempting to desperately come to the shores of Europe in unprecedented numbers in order to have freedom and security that we may take for granted here.
Fourth, boarders between European countries and others in the region will be tighter creating more difficulties for genuine refugees running away from humanitarian calamities and atrocities.
For those misguided Muslims who commit these abdominal acts, we tell them that Islam is not an ideology. Rather, it a religion and divinity that is beyond and above human limited ideological imaginations. We implore the need for cultural engagement in France and interfaith dialogue. The Qur’an promotes in different passages dialogue and engagement.
Finally, I believe knee-jerk solutions are no solutions. There should be thought-through policies in terms of citizenship, integration and employment opportunities. France is a great country with a great potential. I am sure the French as a whole will stand tall to fight the menace of terrorism.
Dr. Drammeh is an Associate Professor of Islamic Theology and Philosophy at the Muslim College and Consultant at the Islamic Cultural Centre London