The Paris massacres: Sad, sad, sad!

The Paris massacres: Sad, sad, sad!

It is sad that innocent people have been murdered brutally. It is sad that the murderers did it in the name of a great religion. It is sad that the sons and daughters of poor immigrants turn out to be evildoers in the name of a violent radicalism that defines itself as “Islamism” and/or “jihadism.”

Islam, like all other great religious traditions, obliges its followers to choose between “good” and “evil,” accordingly holding them responsible for their deeds. As modern thinking is more inclined to find reasons behind evil acts, believers are expected to not rely on “excuses,” but to avoid “evil” under all circumstances and by all means.

Nevertheless, many Muslims in the modern world seem to be lost and confused in a very risky way. On the one hand, many intend to resist modern values, but on the other hand they are eager to seek refuge in a sort of “modern sociological reasoning” to legitimize their evil deeds. This is not to say that Muslims are not supposed to contemplate on social, political, historical reasons, but they should also first and foremost condemn “evil.” It seems that this has been turned upside down: Muslims are now primarily eager to find excuses for evil done in the name of religion.

In the “modern Muslim mind,” evil has turned out to be the “outside” forces that can be referred to for the wrongs of Muslims. In this mindset, it is Western imperialism, historical injustices, Muslims’ enemies, and finally Islamophobia, that lead Muslims to turn hostile, revengeful and even violent. As Islamophobia has become the “new anti-Semitism,” Muslims resemble the apologists of Israel’s terrible politics, who define any criticism as “anti-Semitic.” As most Muslim leaders, politicians, and thinkers accuse Israel’s apologists of “hiding behind anti-Semitism,” they feel free to do the same by hiding behind “Islamophobia.”

Indeed, Islamism is a modern ideology that is based on a shallow reaction, not just against the “injustices of the Western powers” but also against modern values. Despite its great claims in the name of Islam, Islamism - like many other forms of fundamentalism in the name of other religions - is based on a poor theological understanding. I am not saying that “jihadists” or Islamist radicals are the victims of a poor theological reading, and that only a sophisticated reading of theology can save the world from “terror in the name of Islam.” There are hundreds of reasons behind the rise of Islamism and radicalism in the Muslim world, and the Western world is far from innocent in the creation of this evil. The assault of Western supremacy, its politics, and the hypocrisy resulting from political struggles, are all also to blame.

Nevertheless, it is also the “response of the Muslim world” that has created this monster. In other words, this monster was not created in a laboratory. It was Muslim thinkers who sought to endorse a shallow reactionism when they failed to challenge modern thinking in a more sophisticated manner. It was the politicians of the Muslim world who failed to deliver good governance. It was the Muslim middle classes and their intellectuals who lost their way between “hyper-Westernization” and “reactive dissidence.” Finally, this monster has been created as a result of a meeting of minds and hearts of hypocrites on both fronts - Muslim and Western - who have used Islam as a political ideology and social cement, and have used Islamists as pawns of their power struggles when it suited their interests.

It is no surprise that the so-called Muslim world generally appears reluctant to condemn Islamist radicalism and violence in general, most recently after the Paris massacres. Still, it is a matter of hypocrisy. Muslim sovereigns and presidents seem to condemn the latest terrible event only out of necessity, in order to not endanger their interests and to avoid the enmity of the Western powers. However, they also promote anti-Westernism, anti-Semitism, and a fundamentalist understanding of Islam for the sake of popular support, attracting support along those lines to divert attention from their bad governance, democratic deficit, corruption, and failure.

Unfortunately, Turkey has ended up becoming one of the latter Muslim states. That is why we are engaged in the debate on Islamophobia after the Paris massacre more than anything else. Moreover, Islamist politicians and their supporters are inclined to prove that what happened in Paris was a Western plot to give Islam a bad name. Sad for Turkey, sad for Muslims, sad for humanity!