How Muslims should respond to terror
May 25th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

How Muslims should respond to terror

"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

The sheer barbarism of the attack on a British soldier in Woolwich is really beyond comprehension – the alleged murderers are said to have hacked the victim to death, waited for the police to arrive, and seemed to encourage people to videotape their brutality.

And yet, we have to search for some way to think about what appears to be our future.

Terrorism used to be about something big and dramatic. But perhaps because groups like al Qaeda are on the run, their people hunted, their money tracked, their hideouts bombed, Woolwich and Boston have become the new faces of terror – a few people, disturbed or fanatical, radicalized by things they have read or watched, decide to commit evil.

How do you detect this kind of danger? It seems impossible.

This was the first terrorist killing on British soil since the London bus and subway bombings in 2005. In fact, since the Madrid and London bombings, there have been just three times that Islamic terrorists have killed people in Western Europe – Woolwich, the equally gruesome 2012 murders in France that killed French soldiers and children and a Rabbi, and the killing of U.S. soldiers in Frankfurt.

More from GPS: Here we go again

Europe's governments have been doing a good job with police and counter-terrorism work – and that might explain the relative calm of recent years. They have also done a much better job than in the past at reaching out and helping to integrate their Muslim communities. And the communities have been responding much more strongly against these isolated acts committed by murderers in the name of Islam.

The Muslim Council of Britain issued an unequivocal statement condemning the latest killing, supporting British soldiers, and urging the police to do whatever it needed to, unhindered and unhampered. That is precisely the kind of statement all leaders of Muslim communities need to make whenever one of these kinds of attacks takes place.

I understand the feeling that some have that they should not be held responsible for the actions of a few perverted madmen. But the trouble is that these madmen claim that they are killing in the name of Islam and someone has to refute their claims – as often as they make them.

Now...the alleged murderer in Woolwich claimed that he was retaliating against British soldiers killing Muslims in Afghanistan.

I wish Muslim leaders would make the point that British – and American and other allied soldiers – are in Afghanistan at the invitation of the democratically elected government of that country. They are defending that government and Muslims every day from terrorist attacks and insurgent warfare. If these people want to protest the killing of Muslims, they should direct their wrath at the Taliban and al Qaeda and other jihadi groups because they are the ones who are killing Muslims and many others.

We need to hear this message more often and more loudly.

Post by:
Topics: Islam • Terrorism • United Kingdom

soundoff (805 Responses)
  1. Salif Qazy

    All the hate filled vitriol spewing forth from commentators on this site is proof that you people are no different than the terrorists. If the situation were reversed, you would be doing the exact same thing. You are one and the same. Your state of mind is identical.

    Until you heal your own hatred and stop invading other countries for money and oil and lies, and until you stop killing their children, your children will also be at risk. What goes around, comes around.

    People, just take a deep breath. Life is a beautiful experience. Don't live in hate and fear. That is what the terrorists do.

    May 26, 2013 at 4:59 am | Reply
    • Edwin

      Hateful posts are not the same as violent acts. The rage and unreasoning fury may be the same, but the level of attack is not equal. Granted, violent crime directed against Muslims – simply because of the way they look – is on the rise, but the number of orchestrated attacks by Westerners against Middle Easterners is very low.

      As for what would happen if things were reversed, of course you are right. This terrorism is based primarily on economics not religion – everyone who really thinks about it deeply realizes that. So if the powerful nations of the world were greedy Muslim nations instead of greedy Christian nations, the downtrodden Christian nations would certainly give rise to violent 'Christist' terrorist groups. The majority of christians, of course, would claim that they were a peace-loving religion – and the majority would be right – but they would still cheer when the oppressors were knocked down a few pegs.

      But this sort of analysis requires deeper thinking than most people are interested in pursuing... and it is far more fun to hate they bad guys than try to understand them. I think your problem is that you expect to much intellect from posters on CNN.

      May 26, 2013 at 11:00 am | Reply
  2. Disgrunteled American

    so you must be one of those goose stepping morons who are getting your news from libral media outlets!!!and you say your open minded!!LOLOLOLOLopen minded aslong as they say what you want to hear!so far no one has proven FOX wrong on any of their stories and has never doctored video or voice feeds to make their stories say what thaty want like the tray von martin feed of the 911 call trying to portray a man who is part black a racist!! lolol

    May 26, 2013 at 5:02 am | Reply

    Universal Islam (=i.e. Surrender to this one and only GOD of Moses, Jesus, David, and Muhammad)

    is the ultimate Solution,

    which will thus bring real Peace, Serenity and Harmony to all Humanity on this earth.

    May 26, 2013 at 5:17 am | Reply
  4. Trufaxxare

    America, has always had terrorist. Domestic.The KKK, who terrorized people for over, one hundred & ten years and backed by the Goverment. There's about, one hundred or more domestic terror groups here in the U.S. The Goverment created Al-Qeada many years ago to justify the things they do in oil rich lands.these are plots thought out many years ago, in the 30's and 40's when the U.S.found out that the Muslims have most of the oil in the world.So now,everything is
    the Muslims fault, all set up by the Goverment. It's a game called, capitalizism. Blood for money! 911, Bin Ladin, all of it
    all set up.

    May 26, 2013 at 6:13 am | Reply
  5. flouik

    You know let's agree to agree for once so we can all live instead of these stupid arguments, we as arab and specially Moroccans have a lot of blood in our hands as well, remember the Andalous ( the moors) we invaded Europe and stayed in their lands for 700 years that sounds a lot worse than 50 or 60 years of imperialism, Israel existed in the holly land and we chased them out of it to establish a palestinian state, these are facts in our own books.
    We did all this because we think we are better and our religion is better, we are snubs
    We have lost the war, and we should move on, instead of fueling these radicals and drive them to outrageous crimes, We arabs need to take another look around, and stop living in denial, and maybe just maybe start endorsing peace as strengh

    May 26, 2013 at 7:36 am | Reply
  6. Ron

    I have thought, many years ago, that the only way this problem can be solved is when the husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors get together and fight these terrorists in the neighborhoods, streets, houses, appartments, courts and yes, mosques, then and only then can this be resolved. The solution must come from within the "Nation of Islam" and not from the outside.

    May 26, 2013 at 8:09 am | Reply
    • vivian

      mosques are the nurseries of terrorism. will the Muslims kill their own babies?

      May 27, 2013 at 2:10 am | Reply
  7. Gerg

    This fanatix=cism is not reserved to the Muslim culture and religion, although the violene it portrays on a regular basis is first and foremost in the news. Consider the radical actions of the "Christian Right" in America and it's lone wolves who have acted in the "name of God"...bowing up abortion clincs, assasinating abortion doctors at the clincs, at places of worships, in their homes. The big difference there is that the numbers are not as great as the Muslim crazies scattered around the word. What I am saying is that religion is at the root of violence and justifying these horrendous acts. It gives energy to those "faithful" to kill in the name of God. I do not recall hearing much on apologies from Christian leaders when those actions occurred. Nonetheless, Muslim leaders around the world should be conducting a reverse Jihad of sorts - one that calls on Muslims to purge themsleves of these deviants who justify murder in the name of Allah. Anything short of that speaks volumes about the violent nature of the Muslim religion and culture... honor killings and the like...

    May 26, 2013 at 8:17 am | Reply
  8. Mark Yelka

    When Muslims feel offended by simple things like cartoons, they kill and maim.
    And, the leaders make apologies.

    Speaking the Truth about Muslims isn't hate speech. It's just the Truth.

    Muslims don't typically punish Muslims for practicing violence against non-believers. That's also the Truth.

    May 26, 2013 at 8:23 am | Reply
  9. TSB8C

    Keep in mind that if you are really a true Muslim who believes and adheres to the teachings in the Koran, you will support and believe terrorism acts to be right and justified. The Koran does teach to drive non Muslims from Muslim lands and to use force and killing as necessary to accomplish that goal. It also instructs adherents to use techniques to strike fear and "terrorize" your non Muslim enemies. So these types of acts will continue as long as there are those who read, are taught, and believe what the Koran states.

    May 26, 2013 at 9:41 am | Reply
  10. Salazar

    Attackers are extremists religious, so their religious leaders must to call them like: "bad sons and daughters of Islam". I am sure that Allah of Muslims do not allow this kind of irrational behaviors, for that, and as fanatics that they are, I believe they will listen the voice of their priests ... or will it be that all the religious leaders and believers in deep wants this? ... I hope not because if this is true, we would be facing a religious war that is ridiculous in full 21st century

    May 26, 2013 at 9:58 am | Reply
  11. Franklin

    Much more important than Muslims releasing external public-relations statements condemning past violence, would be Imams giving internal sermons against future violence. That does not happen very much – all of the renunciations of violence are geared towards convincing non-Muslims that Islam is "the religion of peace", rather than attempting to dissuade future jihadists from violence.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:18 am | Reply
  12. SheerBarbarism!

    Please read:
    Mr. Zakaria, CNN, would you have the courage to label such act by the prophet of Islam as also "sheer barbarism"? I don't think so. This guy in England was just following the acts of his prophet. Would we blame him for doing so?
    just think.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:21 am | Reply
  13. ollie

    Islam Is A Hate Crime

    May 26, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply
  14. Operations

    Osama Bin Laden was a Saudi who went to Afghanistan, partially to free Afghanistan from the Soviets, and partially to free Afghanistan from a different sect of Islam. He did not want to keep the country as it was, but wanted it to be transformed into his version of Islam. In doing this, he sought and received US and UK assistance, funneled through Pakistan.
    Once free, he turned on his helpers, the US and the UK, and NATO, and demanded that all westerners leave Afghanistan and Pakistan – on his say so, and despite requests from those governments that we stay.
    When Kuwait asked the help of the west to drive back Sadam Hussein, Bin Laden again took offense at our being there, and decided that our presence on Saudi soil deserved punishment. And so there were two attacks on the twin towers, and multiple attacks against embassies, civilian and military targets. His way of saying thanks.
    And now, his actions have resulted in the west turning to the means of which they were accused.
    Muslims must fight the enemy within. They are the only ones who can stop this violence. They must make the crazies look like the crazies they are, and insist that they represent the devil, not god.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:31 am | Reply
  15. EdL

    More often and more loudly? I would agree. The problem is, Muslim leaders continue to have muted criticism of the murdering fanatical Muslims. Perhaps because they do not want to become targets themselves.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:39 am | Reply
  16. Bob - just Bob

    I would encourage Muslims to respond to criticisms of their religion in the manner many American Christians have and increasingly do. Walk away from your backwards cults. My only regret about abandoning Catholicism is not having done it much earlier. It's been a spiritually fulfilling experience.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:47 am | Reply

    Do any of you think it is possible that non-extremist Muslims stay silent because they are ASHAMED of people who call themselves Muslims and kill in the name of Islam? Have you ever thought that the silence is a way to distance themselves from these terrorist criminals?

    May 26, 2013 at 10:50 am | Reply
    • Mohabbat

      No. Very few have distanced themselves. If they have they do not have a conscience and stay silent. Take Islamic Pakistan, this country carved out of India is now 98% Muslim and dozens of Jihadist groups run amuck. It has been an Islamic republic with limited or no rights for minorities, but when did you hear anyone rise up to its Islamic character?? How can you expect anyone to be ashamed of terrorism when even basic rights are compromised? when did you hear Muslims protest the Saudi Arabian laws of banning the practice of all religions other than Islam?

      May 26, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply
    • Call me Bwana

      Not such thing as a non-extremist Muslim. Push them a bit and the undercurrent of hate comes to the surface.

      May 26, 2013 at 11:19 am | Reply
    • flouik

      I have stated before that We muslims don't respond to terrorism for 1 of 3 reasons only
      1. cowards
      2 don't care
      3 we agree with terrorism
      for that im calling for all modern muslims to stand up stop living in denial and face the reality that we live in

      May 26, 2013 at 11:21 am | Reply
      • Call me Bwana

        Sounds great. Won`t work

        May 26, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • dodo

        Where muslims gain power, they turn the place into a violent blood soaked hellhole

        May 26, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  18. xyzthegreat


    May 26, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
  19. Call me Bwana

    Farid: your articles are simplistic and your reputation of a plagiarist is ever present. I don`t know why CNN insists in keeping you in their payroll. You don`t know important points about anything you write. Go away. By the way, Europe should start deporting entire families who embrace this current of thought along with all radical Imams, who, while well versed in the Koran, are total ignorants in the way things work. Proof? Iran

    May 26, 2013 at 11:15 am | Reply
  20. Mohabbat

    Fareed Z beats around the bush. Muslim authorities should completely close down madrassas and displace Islamic education from the public sphere. Saudi Arabia needs to open up to all religions and stop chopping of hands and making a public display of executions. Blasphemy laws in Muslim countries should be scrapped and UN make it a prerequisite for any assistance or membership.

    May 26, 2013 at 11:25 am | Reply
    • Call me Bwana

      Since there is a lack of structure in the Muslim religion, Islam cannot present a united front on anything. Every Imam, or someone pretending to be one, can issue a fatwa for any reason. Again, sounds great, won`t work as long as Islam insist in remaining in the 7th Century

      May 26, 2013 at 11:28 am | Reply
  21. KEVIN

    The entire muslim communities in the West need to take much more vigorous ACTIONS to stop the estremism in their communities, not just make verbal condemnations

    May 26, 2013 at 11:46 am | Reply
  22. liz48

    Zakaria, makes an excellent point in his last paragraph...yes...muslims should be told why the US and other allies are in Afghanistan and Iraq; at the invitation of elected muslim governements in those countries, and they prevent the death of muslims by the rebels...

    May 26, 2013 at 11:58 am | Reply
  23. Terrible_Ted

    The once proud UK, a nation that built the world. Is now reduced because of unchecked immigration to being a nation of Mongrels. The nations these immigrants come from all have one thing in common, they're all crap holes. This is your fate as well, unless these unwanted and undesireables are removed. Let them live how they like in a crap hole country that they can destroy further. Islam is a destroyer of civilizations.

    May 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  24. Pancho Villa

    As a Mexican, I condemn any form of vilolence commited by anyone in the name of Islam. If you listen or read some of the speaches by clerics or imam's, there's no tolerance for any other relious beliefs but islam. Wake – up people before it's too late.

    May 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  25. James

    Violence and Hate is a contagious mind borne virus. It feeds on cause and effect within the thoughts of humankind.
    It can only be stop by facing it's carriers with a higher consciousness. When confronted by this virus, do not partake of it's effect to respond as this enemy voice has too you. Refuse to multiply evil cells with thoughts. Hate is the original sin and can only be taken away by a higher force called Love. Not Love to the virus but Love to self. Do not allow yourself to be contaminated by the original virus.

    May 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Reply
  26. xx4zu1

    This is the beginning of the next world war, countries have already started passing laws that lay the foundation for banning the Muslim religion. This time I fear there will be no superpower to step in and stop the genocide. The concentration camps will open once again with the Star of David replaced with the Crescent moon and Star. Look to the past to see your future.

    May 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  27. Dave R.

    Zakaria's comments are exactly what I think many non-Muslims have been saying for a long time. Among Islamists, where is their visible outrage over these extremist activities? They are certainly very vocal about defaming the Koran or Mohamed but why not terrorist attacks like this?

    A peaceful Islimist march in Washington DC against Islamic extremists would be a great demonstration of where they really stand.

    May 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  28. Jen

    Fareed, look at all the comments here. The sorry truth is that as an educated, aware, modern, progressive Muslim, you are in the awkward position of being a statistically outlying representative of Islam, and it pains you to hear people describing Muslims as something that at least in your case, Muslims are not. This is analogous to how I feel, as an educated, aware, modern, progressive American when I hear non-Americans describing Americans as something that, at least in my case, Americans are not (ignorant, intellectually lazy, incurious, judgmental, uncouth, uncaring about their physical health, fat or obese, uncultured...). I am a statistically outlying representative of Americans and when people in other countries criticize Americans, it hurts because (1) I'm not like that and (2) I know that sadly, the criticism are pretty much true. I think the same goes for Islam. You yourself aren't like that, nor is anyone in your social circle. But Islam IS like that today, for better or worse. There has not been a single, incensed Muslim protest about this Nigerian-British fool perverting the name of Islam to commit murder. Contrast that with the tens of thousands of Muslim men who take to the streets without prompting, in fits of offended rage, if one silly guy half way around the world makes a crappy movie that they think doesn't adore the prophet. That IS the real face of Islam today. You are a real face, too, Fareed. But you are in a very, very small minority. Whether Muslim or Christian, or American, Chinese, Russian, Pakistani, or Nigerian, or something else, most people in the world are deeply ignorant, hateful towards and fearful of "the other," in no mood to change. Such is humanity.

    May 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  29. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    FOR A CHANGE Mr. Zakaria makes a HALF-HEARTED appeal to lay the onus on Muslims to condemn terror committed in the name of Islam. I say "HALF-HEARTED" b'coz the PASSION with which he CASTIGATES the West (& his native INDIA) for being BIASED & DISCRIMNATORY against Muslims is missing here.

    But YET AGAIN, he makes his point clear that this has been ONLY the third terrorist attack involving Radical Islamists, while FOR A CHANGE NOT paying some credit to Law enforcement, and OFCOURSE Muslim communities none of whom have given up the BLACK SHEEP hiding amongst them, UNLESS faced with a do-or-die situation. For example, while Mr. Zakaria had PRAISED SKY-HIGH the NOBLE (!) acts of the father of the Nigerian shoe bomber, and the parents of the VA five who brought to the notice of the FBI about their children, what HE DECIETFULLY kept away from Americans is the fact that these kids had already made MARTYRDOM VIDEOS and vanished from their homes, and so the parents ONLY HOPE of seeing their kids alive was to forewarn the FBI.

    Also, in the aftermath of every Islamic terror attack incl. the 9/11 attacks (with the sole exception of this article) Mr. Zakaria has castigated magnanimous Americans and Europeans and our law enforcement for being TOO HARD on Muslim terror, citing statistics like the one has referenced here (of ONLY 3 Islamic Terror attacks since the 7/7 London bombings). And, what he DOES NOT say is that SCORES OF such attacks have been thwarted by law enforcement both in Europe & the US spending millions of man hours and spending billions of $. For example in the 10 years since 9/11, the US has foiled 39 terror attacks on its soil, using a multi-pronged approach, the US averted 11 terror attempts on New York City, five on Washington DC, five attacks at airports or through planes, four on the city of New Jersey and nine other targets.

    Having said that even if this article is a POOR EFFORT on Mr. Zakaria to sound fair & balanced, a lot of Americans, and Indians are aware of Mr.Zakaria’s FERVENT QUEST to further the Islamic agenda!

    May 26, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  30. Peter Clarke

    I totally fear muslims, In my mind they put on a show condeming acts of terror but in their hearts they hate America. I'm an infidel and their belief system is primitive and tribal. I wish they would not hurt us here in America. I could live with them easily if I weren't frightened. They just seem so crazy.

    May 26, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Reply
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