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Original contributions

Aug-Sept-Oct 2004

Islamic terrorism and prevention: a challenge

Giuseppe Samir EID (R.C. MILAN SOUTH-EAST)

I read with interest the scenario described by Farotti in the May 5 Issue.

I would like to offer my contribution on some aspects of prevention just touched upon by the Author, but which help to complete the understanding of the phenomenon.

In the last forty years there has been a very strong demographic growth in Muslim societies, which has led to more than a doubling of the population. This has happened in geographical areas which, with the exception of a small privileged minority, are characterized by a very low economic level compared to that of the West, causing waves of migration towards Europe.

Notwithstanding the fact that 80% of the world’s energy reserves are found in the Islamic Countries, (Arab and non-Arab), the GDP or wealth produced by the Arab Countries (200 million inhabitants), is equivalent to only a quarter of the GDP of Italy! (World Development Report, 1999/2000). Moreover, Islam is involved in the greatest number of unofficial wars in progress in the world (over two million dead only in the South). Population growth, economic backwardness and the weakness of the socio-cultural fabric are the main driving forces behind the wave of migration to the West which has become, particularly in recent years also because of its geographical proximity, a pole of great attraction for many emigrants coming mainly from Arab countries. The globalization of the means of communication (TV, Internet) and the speed of the means of transport, which have physically brought the peoples closer together making the inequalities even more evident, have generated a stimulus to their movement and revenge against the rich, colonialist rhyme West, later defined as exploiting the wealth of the poorest under the cover of economic imperialism. For these reasons it is expected that the trend of immigration to the West will increase until there is cultural, economic and social development in countries with poor populations and until the governments of richer countries have not implemented a long-term policy of planning economic aid aimed at human resources.

It should also be noted that the temperament and tradition of the populations living in the southern part of the Mediterranean area make them particularly sensitive to religious involvement.

Such behaviour can be better understood if we take into account the fact that the whole of society is impregnated with religious characteristics. Suffice it to say that every Arab state with a Muslim majority draws the laws governing the coexistence of citizens from the Koran. It has been demonstrated that a good part of the channels of financing terrorism pass through the West: these must be dried up as specified by Farotti. I would like to add other aspects of prevention, no less important, to be carried out both in the West and in Islamic countries.


Without absolutely wanting to assimilate terrorism to Islam, the facts have shown that the acts of terrorism have been perpetrated by people coming from nearby, or who have frequented, places of Islamic aggregation: mosques, cultural centres or similar. Some instigators are playing on frustration, which is also present among immigrants in Europe, especially those who have failed to integrate and have been dragged into violence in the name of Islam. From this it is clear that religious and cultural factors cannot be overlooked in addressing immigrant integration and prevention issues. Some movements constituted on an Islamic religious basis have in common an anti-Western vision and intend to change society; they believe they have a model of civilization to offer and want to replace ours. Especially, since behind Islamic immigration there are often Islamic states that intend to use it for political-religious interests; hence, the importance of addressing the issue of coexistence and integration in the West.

For these reasons, the messages proposed by the Islamic centres must be monitored by the authorities: is there talk of adherence to the fundamental values of the host society without renouncing the culture of origin? Are they messages of openness to the pluralism or cultural, between a system of values, shared and defined, with all the social components? Is the reference to the Islamic identity always compatible with the juridical and socio-cultural order of the European countries?  The consequences on the behaviour of millions of people are guessed:  potential states of conflict could arise that need to be faced with the necessary awareness. It is necessary to ask those in charge of the Islamic centres, especially those not born in Italy, to clearly demonstrate their willingness to integrate and their loyalty to the society in which they live. In this regard, a serious and constructive dialogue is desirable in order to become aware of the problems that Muslim immigration poses. The dialogue should concern the integration of Muslims in the fabric of European societies, so different in mentality, customs and values, with the possibility of a civil and peaceful coexistence among all citizens. It is up to our institutions to work out an integration project that respects the fundamental rights of religious practice for the individual, while respecting the constitutional order of our country. The term “integration” is used here as an adherence to the fundamental values of society without renouncing the culture of origin.


The sense of victimhood, one of the evils of the Arab peoples (poverty, exploitation, internal divisions…) and their weakness in the face of a West that is strong, rich, and above all Christian and a friend of the Zionists, is a propellant for the rampant frustration amongst the skilfully manipulated masses.  Precisely for this reason, the accusation that is most often made against the actions of Arab governments, politically allied to the West, is that they do not follow the teachings of the Koran to the letter and instead give in to compromise with the Western world and its external symbols.

The contribution of the international organizations and the West to economic development must be combined with cultural and social development, with particular reference to the contents of school teaching and television and media programs. There are Arab intellectuals who fight against all forms of violence and for equality among citizens, without distinction of race or religion and to free women from all discriminatory dictates existing in the laws. The development of women is the main road for the development of the Muslim world.

The editor of a Saudi publication recently wrote that not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims; massacres against children and civilians perpetrated in the name of God (Allah) Clement Merciful. Down in 2002 the best-known Muslim religious leaders justified the martyrdom of the Mujàhidin by finding their foundation in the Koran and in the tradition of the Prophet. The daily events of the war in progress report more and more that the control of the population remains by the ulemas and the imams of the mosques, so much so that they have become the privileged interlocutors of the Western Governments. It becomes evident that the fight against religious fundamentalism can be won only with the contribution that the Moslem religious leaders in the Arab countries could give; and all the means should be adopted by the Countries concerned to obtain their adhesion. The various public initiatives for dialogue undertaken by Christian organizations in the West can only bear fruit if they are replicated in Islamic countries. It is indispensable that the path of dialogue be followed also in Islamic, Arab and non-Arab countries. Personally I do not believe in the definition of “moderate Islam”. There is only one Islam, applied in such different measures according to the rulers of the moment and the power in place in a given place; in no case does it contain the ingredients of what we call democracy: freedom and equality. At this moment, since there is no separation between state and religion in Arab countries; it is only the way Islamic laws are taught and implemented that differentiates Islam and makes us labelling moderate Islam. An Islam that should not discriminate against citizens on the basis of their religious beliefs or sex, allow freedom of worship and religious choice, not prohibit women and non-Muslims from exercising certain professions; where there is freedom of thought, of religious choice, of equal rights between citizens without any discrimination of sex or religious belief.

The social, religious and cultural aspects of globalization must be managed in equal measure and, at the same time, with the economic aspects, so that the bridges which today can physically unite peoples are factors of coexistence and not of division and conflict. To manage these changes, it is necessary that North and South, East and West act in concert; and it is necessary that no room be left for those who claim to hold a monopoly on the Truth and who want to use coercion to impose their Truth, and who want to create ghettos, future centres of power.


Taking into account the importance of the religious element, a further element of prevention of terrorism consists in establishing a dialogue between religious leaders of all major religions, with the aim of breaking down the walls of distrust and discovering the common values of their religions, in mutual respect. Today it is urgent to offer spiritual content to globalization and, to this end: the encounter between Islam, Judaism and Christianity can be precious and fruitful for peace in the world.  There is a presence in Europe of Arab Christians, with a tradition of living in common with Muslims, Christian citizens of Islamic states, who are an integral part of the Arab world; they have always played a role as a bridge between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Today this role is no longer limited within the Arab Muslim world, but must be extended to the West, to help it better understand the East, once again without prejudice and without idealism to help the Arab world to understand the West.


Received on August 21, 2004

Free web translation from the original in Italian

The published articles intend to provide the tools for a social inclusion of the migratory flow, shed light on human rights and the condition of life of Christians in the Islamic world from which the author come from. Knowledge of the other, of cultural and religious differences are primary ingredients to create peace in the hearts of men everywhere, a prerequisite for a peaceful coexistence and convinced citizenship in the territory.

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