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. Vince

    This is an idiotic article. I would expect better from Zakaria.
    Why should muslims be obligated to respond to anything? How should Christians respond to Drone attacks, or invasion of Iraq? Everytime you make this a religious issue, you are agreeing with Osama Bin Laden, whose primary accomplishment was to convert isolated resistance movements into a global religious struggle. I guess Osama won if you insist on characterizing these conflicts as muslim vs christian.

    May 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Reply
    • bob

      Good because islam is not compatible with western liberal ideals of freedom equality democracy, so sorry it upsets you that some poor murdering Islamic extremist gets cut down before he can further his purpose in life to see his brutal repressive ideology become supreme, don’t worry tho perhaps he will get his 72yr virgin

      May 26, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Reply
      • Vince

        Bob, it upsets me that American soldiers are killed everyday, and American civilians are killed occasionally by various attacks, instead of people who are pushing a religious war, like yourself. Your ideas are very similar to Osama Bin Laden's. His opinion of America was very similar to your opinion of Moslems. Even your language is very similar to his. I wish there was a way for people like you and like him to fight each other, without involving the rest of us.

        May 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
      • bob

        Your sick in the head…

        My opinion of muslims as that they are not special, they are people, victims of a 7th century totalitarian supremacist ideology and dogma that desperately needs criticism and dissent needs to be dragged into the 21st century. It is not my opinion it is consistent fact islam is fundamentally at odds with the very cornerstones of a free liberal democratic. It is not a coincidence the vast majority of the muslim world is a brutal violent repressive place that has contributed nothing to civilization fro 100s of years but censorship and civil war and it is not the west’s fault. Yes let pretend its all not happening we’re all above this Yes to bad you where not around to talk sense in to the Nazis shame they had to involve the rest of us.

        May 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
      • james cox


        May 27, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • Joe

      I don't think your points are good or accurate. drones attacks are not done in the name of christianity. unless you feel the US is a christian country, in which case I have a few hundred million friends who would take issue with that. I also don't think these conflicts are muslim verse christian. Ive lived in muslim majority countries for years, and it is true that in the present day there are significant conflicts between Islam and literally every other major religion in the world. this is not even close to true for any other religion. Are we to believe that it is everyone else's fault?

      May 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  2. Scholar

    While we are familiar with and enjoy freedom of religion, no Muslim is free to speak out against other Muslims and use the Koran to support their argument. No Muslim is free to speak of the Koran or of Islam because only the learned religious leaders have the learning and position of doing that. Anyone else could be accused of being a heretic or other religious criminal.

    May 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  3. Ayatollah Khomeini

    “Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war.

    Those who say this are witless.

    Islam says: 'Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter their armies'....

    "Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to paradise, which can be opened only for holy warriors!

    "There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and hadiths urging Muslims to value war and to fight.

    Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war?

    I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.'”

    The Ayatollah Khomeini

    May 26, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Reply
    • A Muslim

      It is wrong to take Quranic verses out of context. The Quranic verses are understood only in the light of the understanding of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions. A lot of verses talking about war were verses that were sent while active fighting was taking place and it should be understood in that historical context. It is very clear message that Muslims are not supposed to kill civilians or innocents even in the state of war. Unjust murder of even one person is equivalent to killing of whole humanity.

      May 26, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Reply
      • GetBent

        Then I would like to know what every crazy boom vest wearing extremist has been reading lately. Maybe they've been playing Tour of Duty, damn those video games..

        May 26, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
      • james cox


        May 27, 2013 at 12:49 am |
      • David

        There is no sugar coating your kill verses. Research mohamed. He was a crazy maniac!!. You followers are brainwashed dangerous idiots. MO was a insane maniac and you follow him..

        May 27, 2013 at 5:10 am |
      • Joe

        I feel there is a very good explanation for why many muslims won't outright say that violence in the name of religion is bad, or why the recent Pew data from 'moderate' muslim countries reveal shocking statistics about how much of these societies believe violence is justified in matters of religion. The prophet may have been a great man, he may have been a merciful man, he may have been a saintly man. However, it is historical fact that he was no pacifist. Perhaps when muslims consider rejecting violence in the tradition of our great non violent social changers (Gandhi, Martin Luther King, arguably Mandela) they consider that this is a direct contradiction to the life of the prophet, which has been touted as a model life (hadiths, etc). As well, it is fundamentally important that the central figures of major religions be unequivocally nonviolent, as history has shown that people will find any way to twist and distort even the most non violent of messages to violence to advance personal agendae. Further, this is the argument that if Gods chosen, the model human, the central figure in one of the worlds great religions, cannot effect social change without violence, how are the rest of us to figure it out??

        May 27, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • james cox


      May 27, 2013 at 1:23 am | Reply
  4. Kelsey Franklin

    Tell Muslims that if they don't reign in their fellow believers, each time there is a terror attack, pamplets to Wikiislam will be spammed in public forums and it will happen over and over again until terror attacks stop. Use Wikiislam to extort peace from the Muslim community – because if people are introduced to Wikiislam, they will be hardened against the religion.

    May 26, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  5. David

    Why import trouble?

    May 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Reply
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      i believe that's what the native indians said 500 odd years ago.

      June 12, 2013 at 4:28 am | Reply
  6. David

    Muslims are satans deciples. Be afraid. Be very afraid . Beware of alah and his evil apostate from hell "mo" .

    May 26, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Reply
    • A Muslim

      "Allah" is the Arabic word for God. Even Christian Arabs use the word "Allah." It means the one and only God. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) was his last messenger. We believe in all the previous prophets and messengers including Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them all) and the books that were sent on them by God (Allah). Prophet Muhammad is the direct descendant of Prophet Abraham from the line of Prophet Ishmael. Prophet Moses and Jesus were the descendants of Prophet Abraham from the line of Prophet Isaac (peace be upon them all). It is not an evil religion but just a continuation of Judaism and Christianity with the last instructions sent by God to Prophet Muhammad.

      May 27, 2013 at 12:04 am | Reply
  7. Donnie the Lion

    If you want to make things worse, then by all means, attempt to kick all the Muslims out of the USA. A handful of white Muslim American citizens will become radicalized, lie about their religious affiliation, and set up bomb making operations in their basements.

    When we deal with people, we deal with symptoms, not the disease. And we'll never win that way. The key is reformation of Islam. Get them to fracture into two branches.....the peace-loving and the radical Jihadists. Make the delineation VERY clear cut, then have the jihadists ostracized and ridiculed by the "legit" Muslims.

    May 26, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  8. dave

    Anyone who still says that i slam is a religion of peace has never read the quran. I have. And, I have on file dozens of verses copied from the book (and completely *IN CONTEXT*) that call for the FAITHFUL mus lim (NOT EXTREMIST) to convert, subjugate, or kill C hristians and J ews. S ata n is the father of all lies and has fooled billions of people with this 'religion of "peace"' Anyone who argues this point is either, 1.) a defendant m uslim, 2.) a completely ignorant liberal/atheist who has never actually read a verse in their life, or 3.) See #1

    May 26, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Reply
    • MashaSobaka

      I've read that book too, and so I know you're lying. Nice try, sweetie-pie.

      May 27, 2013 at 1:03 am | Reply
  9. Pitdownman

    The reason they do not "direct their wrath at the Taliban and al Qaeda and other jihadi groups" is because they would become targets themselves.

    May 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  10. wade

    Its Time all these extremist Muslims should be dealt with the way Hitler was with the Jews , round them up

    May 26, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Reply
    • musings

      I'm curious about your remark – plainly you think Hitler was right to round up the Jews too. You seem to like losing propositions and should get the Darwin award for not understanding that you will simply strengthen whoever you try to wipe out, because the strongest will survive and come back to smash you. I'm not crazy for Islam, but I sure don't want to hurt Moslems (or Jews), if only out of a sense of self-preservation.

      May 26, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Reply
    • Shab

      Jews and Muslims are like bacterias. If you apply a strong anti-biotic on them, most of them are going to die. however some of them would survive and learn how to resist the anti-biotic and therefore their population grows bigger and bigger and you gotta find another anti-biotic to fight them.

      June 12, 2013 at 7:58 am | Reply
  11. Just Call Me Lucifer

    Can't we just forget all about these ancient mythologies and evolve? Seriously... enough of this bronze age buffoonery already.

    May 26, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  12. Muin

    LOL. Keep this up. You might be U.S secretary of state one day.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  13. brsinai

    How should Muslims respond?

    Change religions.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  14. Maggie

    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Reply
  15. musings

    I don't distrust Muslims, but I do distrust those who frame them. Big time.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  16. LogicNotHuff

    The unceasing slaughter of non-Muslims is an unarguable central tenet of Islam Killing, that's how Islam takes over. This is in the Kran and that's why they killed and slaughtered 1000 years ago and why they kill and slaughter today and why they will kill and slaughter in all the days to come. The bottom line is all immigration should be ended. Age of immigration has ended and the reason is Islam has put United States in their crosshairs.

    May 26, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  17. mmi16

    If Muslims have a Excommunication type action – Terrorists should be excommunicated and publiclly banned from the faith by the highest Mullah's of the faith. If they are not the voice of Islam they should be banned from Islam for their actions.

    May 26, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Reply
  18. GetBent

    Dear MUZZY IN CANADA: We are forever grateful you are in Canada, PLEASE STAY THERE, THX..

    May 26, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Reply
  19. Seek the Giver of life before you face the reality of death

    Romans 5:8-"God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." www . theeternalwisdom . com
    Seek God through Lord Jesus while He still can be found, follow Him while the door of grace is still open to everyone. Please do not wait until you are on your death bed or until the end of the world to call upon His name. He made it very clear, who ever believes in the Son of God will not die eternally, but will inherit immortality. If you desire life, go to the source of life. Faith is the key to all things.

    May 26, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  20. chris

    This whole "war on terror" is a made up never ending war. If you pull up the official numbers from gov website their are more deaths in america from domestic terrorism (kkk and white power groups) than international terrorism (Muslim groups). They use this international terrorism story to have endless wars in foreign countries and to make the american citizens give up more rights. They use the fear factor to scare us into giving up all your privacy. How many laws were passed post 9/11 that gave away all of our privacy?

    May 27, 2013 at 12:10 am | Reply
  21. Chris

    Oh and by the way this country is a country of immigrants.

    For all the people that are saying to deport immigrants they must have forgot that their families were immigrants at some point in history. Maybe they never read that in school. That is probably not the smartest statement to make.

    May 27, 2013 at 12:24 am | Reply
  22. Greyeyedman

    Zakaria is always apologizing for muslims. What he never states is the fact that he has a gay muslim lover. The muslim council of Britain is a known terrorist organization. British intelligence knows this. There are no innocent muslims. What should be done is to strike at muslims everywhere. Kill them and their families. Burn all mosques and muslim businesses.

    May 27, 2013 at 12:44 am | Reply
  23. MashaSobaka

    At what point does a killing or other act of violence become "an act of terror?" Are the arson attacks against mosques "acts of terror," or is that just local boys blowing off steam? Was the mass murder of Sikhs at their temple an "act of terror," or was that just another mass shooting (of which we have plenty here in the US)? Are the murders of either Muslims or people who are mistaken for Muslims "acts of terror," particularly when they are motivated by the religion (or presumed religion) of the victim? Or are those just cut-and-dry hate crimes? Why is it an "act of terror" when a Muslim kills someone in the name of a twisted ideology, but not when a Muslim (or presumed Muslim) is murdered in the name of an equally twisted ideology? If Muslim leaders need to condemn every "act of terror" committed by Muslims, then everyone from every ethnic and/or religion group needs to condemn the "acts of terror" committed by their members. I don't see members of the LDS church screaming at the top of their lungs about the atrocities in Colorado City, even if those crimes are being carried out by fundamentalists members of their church. I didn't see parades of white men trying to assure us that not all of them are going to go on shooting sprees, even though the vast majority of mass shootings are carried out by white men. I'm all for anything that can combat Islamophobia, but eventually the rest of us are going to have to admit that the demographics to which we belong are very far from innocent.

    May 27, 2013 at 1:02 am | Reply
    • Patel P

      Please look up the word terrorism in the dictionary. The goal of terrorism is control using fear. Extortion without the money.

      May 27, 2013 at 5:20 am | Reply
  24. brian

    The Muslim religion was founded by terrorists. In the 7th century people had the choice: Convert to Islam or have your throat cut.

    May 27, 2013 at 1:02 am | Reply
  25. Sab sadat

    Please visit to help in legal as well as illegal immigration reform and avoiding the flood of immigrants.

    May 27, 2013 at 1:45 am | Reply
  26. Easy

    If anybody has ever studied Islam and studied the Koran us Americans are the infidels. What does the Koran say about infidels? It says for them to be wiped off this Earth or converted until everyone believes in Allah. I dont want to hear Islam is based on peace. All you have to do is read this website or watch any news network that covers world news to see what Muslims do everyday to their own people and what they will do to other people. They do not tolerate other religions just look at the Christians being round up in Egypt or any other country not in North America or Europe. Then they go around killing innocent people because they are killing there own in their own wars that they started. To all Muslims, take a hard long look in the mirror at yourself and your religion. Why does noone trust you? Go turn on a TV, read a news story on this website. Why do none of your problems get solved? Because your religion is based on violence and wiping those who dont believe in it off the Earth. If your religion was not based on violence then please tell me and every American that reads this why we should trust you? Please do not pull the I'm the victim card that everybody pulls. All you have to do is turn on the TV and the news story blah blah Mohamaad blew himself up while killing so many others. For some reason that is enough for a Muslim to feel free to kill innocent lives and blame other people for the crap you caused. Explain that logic and thinking too while your at it.

    May 27, 2013 at 2:35 am | Reply
    • David

      Everyone needs to know their verses of kill. Well said. Great post

      May 27, 2013 at 5:14 am | Reply
    • Nick

      Not true. There are historical Jewish and Christian communities in almost every country in the Middle East; mosques and synagogues that have been around for hundreds of years. This would not be the case if we wanted to kill everyone and wipe them off the face of the earth. (This cannot be said for a place like Spain, where the historical Jewish and Muslim communities were killed, converted, and driven out.) You see, what you are doing is exactly what the ill-educated terrorists are doing: cherry picking verses with no acknowledgement of context or historical legal opinion. And as we can all see, this is a recipe for disaster. You don't have to agree with Islam, but you should be well informed. Be better than the terrorists: take your knowledge from recognized, qualified scholarship. This is the way it has always been.

      May 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Reply
  27. *sigh*

    For all of you whining about muslums and not killing everyone you see, you are a bunch of fat libturd liars. If you really think they are all terrorists, you'd be killing ALL of them before they kill you. Otherwise you are here posing and lying while secretly condoning everything they do.

    May 27, 2013 at 2:45 am | Reply
  28. Ahmed

    I see many comments are saying that Muslims should eliminate or expose bad apples in the community. Do you think a Muslim walk in the mosque or a community gathering and announce that he will be carrying on an act of terrorism tomorrow afternoon? Focus on Islam and tying it to terrorism is going overboard and causing Muslims to suffer to assimilate in their communities. Over 30,000 American lives are lost every year to gun related violence (Non of which caused by Muslims) and the number is significantly higher than thus of terrorism related causalities, let alone Muslim related terrorism.

    May 27, 2013 at 3:26 am | Reply
    • Patel P

      I agree that what they ask is unrealistic. You should just emigrate to some Islamic theocracy as being a better place.
      That would remove any conflict and let everyone live in peace and we wouldn't have to listen to your lies. Simple.

      May 27, 2013 at 5:18 am | Reply
      • Ahmed

        What an insightful and factual reply. I was stunned by facts presented and lack of hate and bigotry.

        May 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • What a joke

        They will never leave willingly. Force will have to be used. But asking them to leave is certainly more polite in some ways.

        May 28, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Grafted Olive Branch

      Dear Islam, I know that many of you honestly and fervently seek to know God. I, as a Christian, ask you to forgive our trespasses against you as we forgive your trespasses against us.

      You try so hard to be good and adhere to the peaceful tenants of your religion. But as is human nature, you have likely discovered that the harder you try to be good and righteous, and fail, the more frustrated you become with yourself. How then can we stand before a Holy God in judgment if we are ourselves un-clean?

      I was the same way as a Christian, trying so hard to be good and righteous, yet failing miserably due to my own human fallibility, until I discovered that Jesus Christ is already “righteousness” for me. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the ultimate price for my sins. I am clean by His sacrifice. You can be also. The peace that Jesus Christ alone can provide is yours for the asking…forgiveness.

      May 27, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  29. d45

    The average Muslim will not be critical of his religion as he/she knows that what the radical side does is in the name of Allah...and is written in the Koran to eliminate all non believers

    May 27, 2013 at 5:42 am | Reply
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