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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 28, 2003

Can the suicide genie be put back in the bottle?

So asks the Alt.muslim site, and implies that it may be too late
When put into the context of warfare in human history, suicide attacks are not new or particular to the Islamic faith. Indeed, most of the suicide attacks in the last 20 years have been inflicted by the Tamil Tigers in their quest for an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka. But in this same timeframe, we have seen suicide bombers invoke Islam in a variety of attacks against non-Muslim and Muslim alike, with a passion not seen since the hashashin. Of course, nearly every Muslim scholar in the world condemned the 9/11 attacks on the grounds that civilian life is sacred even in times of war. But the power that suicide bombing brings with it is intoxicating, and as recent attacks in Morocco, Chechnya, and Saudi Arabia have shown, the line between civilian and combatant, Muslim and non-Muslim, has been all but obliterated. (Even Muslims celebrating the Prophet's birthday in Chechnya found themselves a target.) Now that the carnage of suicide bombing is claiming more Muslim than Western lives, scholars who were silent about (or even approved of) the use of suicide attacks are trying to put the genie back in the bottle. "Bin Laden's war is not with the US," said Abdulmuhsin Akkas, a member of the advisory Shura Council. "It is against the Muslims and the Arabs. Bin Laden's form of Islam is a violent way of life, and the Riyadh bombings showed us that." Open debates about Wahabbi schools that "breed extremists" appeared in the Arab press. Even jailed leaders of the Egyptian Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya (Muslim Brotherhood) called the recent terror attacks "religious mistakes." But even a march of hundreds of thousands of Muslims against suicide bombing might not be enough to halt the bloodshed, as the tactic is spreading to new countries, genders, and targets. (So what did Norway do to piss off al-Qaida, anyway?)