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Muslims and Terrorism

Surabhika Maheshwari

By Unaiza Niaz
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2011, pp. 350, Rs. 1050.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 8-9 August-September 2011

Terrorism as a subject has evoked a great deal of academic interest from various disciplines. Professor Unaiza, a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist, has put together this work 'to sensitize and create awareness about the relentless sufferings of innocent civilians globally following 9/11.' The book, as the editor points out in the preface, is a documentation of facts about the 'violences in the Muslim world' with contributions from various Arab and Muslim countries. An understanding of the Islamic states is imperative, as Professor Okasha points out in the book, 'the more we are unable to understand the dynamics, frustrations and political systems in the Muslim world, the greater the chances for endless encounters. Unless we promote the fight against poverty, illiteracy, illness, unemployment, and ameliorating frustration due to lack of freedom and democracy and the despotic regimes in most Muslim countries, our struggle with terrorism will be futile.' The chapter on Islam and Anti Terrorism places terrorism in the context of Muslim countries, differentiates terror-resorting Muslims from the 'religion of mercy, compassion and tolerance', conceptualizes terrorism as a means to induce fear to bring about political change and urges mental health professionals to intervene at both the levels—of the victim and the victimizer. In elucidating the history of terrorism Niaz has put together an account of tracing organizations that have been involved in killings and loot to tracing the features of modern day terrorism, and writes, 'terrorism or the threat of terrorist acts have been in existence for centuries' (though at another place in the book, she writes, 'terrorism is a relatively recent phenomenon used by anti-state elements to bring about change'). The chapter touches on some important aspects such as state sponsored terrorism. Religion and nationalism are seen as forces that are able to mobilize terrorist forces. The 9/11 attack by the Al Qaeda has magnified the threat and the boundaries of terrorism. The author warns that the attack might be important for the US but is not as 'consuming as it has been made out to be'. She makes a pointed observation here, as do most parts in this book, that terrorism must not only be seen from the perspective of the westerners or the United States of America. Yet again, the discussion drifts to defend Islam when Idriss Teranti from Algeria provides an account of historical events which led to the current 'Muslim Fundamentalism', where he writes, ...

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