A Muslim Response to Manchester

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Originally Published on BeliefNet on May 29th, 2017

On Monday, ISIL claimed responsibility for another terrorist attack, this time in the great city of Manchester, England. We do not know for sure if so called Muslims committed this terrorist attack but we should condemn all terrorist attacks no matter who orchestrates them and those who believe in the power of prayer should pray for peace and justice. We must also pray for the victims and their families. Everyone though must also do their part to help stop these terrorist attacks from occurring in the first place.

While terrorism has no religion, unfortunately, this past week has probably taken us in the opposite direction than the direction we intend to be taking in order to counter extremism. President Trump gave an important speech this past Sunday in Saudi Arabia. Although, many praised his speech, the speech will result in more harm than good. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism. Evidence suggests that oil money is used to finance hate filled madrasahs (Islamic schools) all across the Muslim world. The Yemen conflict is yet another example of genocide committed by Saudi Arabia. Executions are regularly held to punish dissenters, atheists and members of the LGBTQ community. Furthermore, this speech took place at a summit where a historic $350b arms deal took place. America selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will only lead to more war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has already killed thousands of innocent people in Yemen and because of this arms deal, it will only become worse. If this will not create resentment against America in the Middle East, I do not know what will.

His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide supreme head of the largest group of Muslims, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has repeatedly raised the issue of ISIL and its creation and the supply of weapons originating from Western countries. As His Holiness points out, preventing ISIL from acquiring these weapons is the key to fighting them. According to the Amnesty International, ISIL uses weapons that come from over 25 countries including the United States. Perhaps the weapons we sell to Saudi Arabia will never reach ISIL’s hands but if history has shown us anything, it is that they will. And even if they do not, when Saudi Arabia kills the entire family of a 17 year old boy using weapons that were exclusively manufactured in the United States, it would not be all that surprising if that boy becomes resentful of our great country. The Trump administration is helping a vicious cycle of violence to continue that can be stopped if a change takes place from investing in weapons to investing in education in the Middle East. Trump conceded in his speech that terrorists “do not worship God, they worship death.” Trump also said that 95% of the victims of terrorism are Muslim. These are promising signs that the more Trump learns about terrorism, the more his policies will shift towards pluralism and acceptance of Islam as a peaceful religion.

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