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Sun 20 Nov 2005 04:00 AM

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Amman’s 9/11 and the prophets of terror

The latest attack has been committed by terrorists seeking martyrdom, but it is their victims who are the true martyrs.

|~||~||~|I'm still stunned, depressed and lost for words. I've been at a loss for words since peace was shattered in Amman. I never doubted for a moment the likelihood of a terrorist attack in Jordan. Whenever I said so, people back home would say Jordan wasn't Saudi Arabia.

But tragically it seems every Arab country today finds itself today faced with a very real, horrendous and ugly war. A war within which no hesitation must be taken, or fear shown, if we are ever to quell and defeat the anarchist, heinous and abominable acts the likes of Abu Musab Zarqawi are bent on carrying out. The devastating and gruesome attacks in Amman are heartless.

But then so are the endless and unabated daily attacks in Iraq over the past three years, the Madrid train bombings, the blowing up of housing compounds in Saudi Arabia, the cruel killing of children in Beslan, the bloodshed in Bali, senseless attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad (albeit many times a reaction to Israeli aggression, yet still inexcusable), the blowing up of nightclubs in Casablanca, the attacks on tourist resorts in Egypt and the senseless attacks in London.

For the past five years I watched as the world gradually lurched towards the violent reality of what life has become since Osama Bin Laden, the 'prophet of terror' decided to kill thousands of innocents on 9/11, changing the world in the process, instilling fear in the hearts of people, and, by his acts and those who subscribe to his twisted ideology, do irreparable damage to our reputation, faith, culture and, ultimately, to credible causes in the Arab and Muslim world.

It would be foolish to expect anything less from terrorists. They are opportunists and, for lack of a better word, scum.

Since when has it been part of our religion to kill people in cold blood? Exactly who the hell do Zarqawi and his followers think they are? Do they believe they are the messengers of Islam — those blasphemous killers? Who are they to sanction the killing of anyone? Who are they to be judge and executioner? They seek martyrdom, yet they don't know the true meaning of martyrdom. Who are martyrs?

Martyrs are the 16 relatives, including the fathers that Ashraf Al Akhras and his bride Nadia Al Alami had to bury as a result of the slaughter on their wedding night.

Another true martyr is Mustafa Akkad, the famous movie director and producer, who dedicated his life propagating the proper image of Islam and spoke out against terrorism. As is his 34-year-old daughter Rima, a mother of two sons, aged two and four.

Musab Khorma, waiting for his fiancé to have dinner, is also a martyr, as are the two-dozen Palestinians, who perished, the several Chinese officials whose bodies lay before their hotel, the baby who lost her mother, and many other innocents. In all, nearly 60 dead.

This is a war against humanity, one that is far from the teachings of any religion. Since when has terrorism belonged to any religion?

Religion is a personal matter between individuals and their God, it's not something that Zarqawi, Bin Laden or anyone else for that matter has the right to manipulate or murder in its name. Those who continue to sit in silence and watch as the prophets of terror spread their heresy are accomplices to the permeating bloodshed.

Lest we also forget the cruel and inhumane manner in which Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg were slaughtered. The truth of the matter is that the Arab world is not a world of moderation, so long as leaders allow such horrid people to spread their venom.

But that doesn't mean that Arab governments use this prevailing fanaticism as they have the Israeli wild card, to sanction crackdowns, deny civil liberties, and instil fear and paranoia. For if they do, they will only exacerbate the situation and teach people to hate. Above all, they will provide more ammunition to the likes of these terrorists.

And for those who persist in saying Israel or the West have a hand in these callous and chilling attacks, they are in denial and in desperate need of psychotherapy. But this phenomenon is also symbiotic of an education system across the Muslim world that needs to change and shed itself of its consuming hatred of Jews and the West. For it has been self-destructive.

If there is a chance for Arabs and Muslims to redeem themselves, it lies in going further than issuing condemnations. This frenzy of sacrilegious barbarism that has come to characterise our culture must stop.

It is a tenuous struggle no doubt — for politicians and ordinary people — but it is also a most important one that religious leaders have to take up.

Wishing Abu Musab Zarqawi and Osama Bin Laden burn in the depths of hell will not suffice. A worldwide fatwa or edict sanctioning them and their foot soldiers as apostates is the first port of call. ||**||

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