Posted by: r.m. | December 10, 2010

Muslim or not Muslim – that’s not the issue

Yesterday, a roundtable/panel discussion was held at the University of Balamand under the title:  Security, Civil Society, and Aid: Global and Local Intersections. The roundtable is the culmination of a three-year project completed by the Center for Civil Society at London School of Economics. The study examines how counter terrorism measures taken by the US (and other countries) after 9/11 had affected the activities of civil society.

One of the comments raised from the floor was: Why does the West consider Muslims who defend their land terrorists?
Unfortunately, the panelist didn’t get the heart of the question. Rather, she responded that the UK has a tighter definition of terrorist than the US.

The question itself strikes at a problem that is all too predominant – both here in Lebanon, and possibly throughout the world. The idea that WE – we are the ones targeted.

It is not the identity of the individual that raises the ire of the “West.” Rather it is the desire to resist, to say No to oppression, to say Yes to liberty and justice — that is what is not desired by those who seek to control, to steal, to subvert.

It makes no difference to the “West” if the fighter is Muslim, Christian, or Atheist, just as it makes no difference if the supporter of their policies is Muslim, Christian, Atheist.  Whatever the color, the outer dressing (if I may be crude), the “West” will find a way to fit that color into the correct category to promote a certain policy.

It is the action, not the identity of the individual.  It is the resistance, not the identity of the resistor.

We see it throughout the world – look at all those whom the US (and pre-Bush, let’s please remember that Bush Jr. did not start the “war against terror” – he simply renamed it!) has targeted and killed and bombed and starved.  A rainbow of victims.

Of course, the panelist didn’t venture in that direction.

Rather, the panelists accepted the underlying language created by the very ones that designed the War on Terror. (more on that note later)



  1. The questions about terrorism are difficult to untangle.
    It seems to me that the issue is not resistance but the form resistance takes.
    Terrorism is not just the use of violence to resist. It involves injuring or killing more or less random people in order to terrify everyone in a particular place, or all members of a particular group.
    Thus, during the intifadah, as far as I know, Palestinians fought back against police and the military. That, I would think, is violent resistance but not terrorism.
    Flying planes into NY office buildings is definitely terrorism. Blowing up a US naval vessel or an embassy–should we call that violent resistance or terrorism? Here the matter becomes difficult.
    It is important to distinguish terrorism from resistance because the US and other major powers have consistently used terrorism–such as carpet bombing German cities during WWI or the London Blitz–without ” resisting” in any obvious sense.

    Richard Schmitt

  2. If we take the definition of terrorism to be the above (i.e Terrorism is not just the use of violence to resist. It involves injuring or killing more or less random people in order to terrify everyone in a particular place, or all members of a particular group.) then Western democracies have acted as terrorists in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan just to name a few.

    I always like debates, especially televised roundtables, on this topic to begin by clarifying WHO is a terrorist?

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