Saturday, July 16, 2005

Two Looks at Muslim Suicide Bombers

First, Tom Friedman writes in A Poverty of Dignity and a Wealth of Rage : "...Why are young Sunni Muslim males, from London to Riyadh and Bali to Baghdad, so willing to blow up themselves and others in the name of their religion? Of course, not all Muslims are suicide bombers; it would be ludicrous to suggest that. But virtually all suicide bombers, of late, have been Sunni Muslims.

There are a lot of angry people in the world. Angry Mexicans. Angry Africans. Angry Norwegians. But the only ones who seem to feel entitled and motivated to kill themselves and totally innocent people, including other Muslims, over their anger are young Sunni radicals. What is going on?

Neither we nor the Muslim world can run away from this question any longer...

'Some of these young Muslim men are tempted by a civilization they consider morally inferior, and they are humiliated by the fact that, while having been taught their faith is supreme, other civilizations seem to be doing much better,' said Raymond Stock, the Cairo-based biographer and translator of Naguib Mahfouz. 'When the inner conflict becomes too great, some are turned by recruiters to seek the sick prestige of 'martyrdom' by fighting the allegedly unjust occupation of Muslim lands and the 'decadence' in our own.' This is not about the poverty of money. This is about the poverty of dignity and the rage it can trigger. How does that happen?

Britain's Independent newspaper described one of the bombers, Hasib Hussain, as having recently undergone a sudden conversion 'from a British Asian who dressed in Western clothes to a religious teenager who wore Islamic garb and only stopped to say salaam to fellow Muslims.' The secret of this story is in that conversion - and so is the crisis in Islam. The people and ideas that brought about that sudden conversion of Hasib Hussain and his pals - if not stopped by other Muslims - will end up converting every Muslim into a suspect and one of the world's great religions into a cult of death. "

Then we have William F. Buckley Jr. on the 7/7 London Bombings and the War on Terror : "The first thought, surely, has to be that not all young Muslims at large in Europe have a viral compulsion to put bombs in London subways or to shoot and stab provocative filmmakers. So having arrived at that thought, what is our next thought?

It is not highly developed, but it focuses necessarily on acute security measures. They mount aggression, we mount a defense. This is bitter medicine in that the countermeasures signal a victory for terrorism.

London withstood years of bombings organized by a sovereign madman who came to control Germany.

That threat, on reflection, seems simple: Cope with it by waging a world war. We know how to do that. We don't know how to abort the evolution of young Muslims into murderers

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