The king of Saudi Arabia issued an impassioned plea Friday to confront all those who are seeking to hijack Islam through extremism, coupling it with a stern warning – those who fail to do so will become the first victim of extremists.
King Abdullah’s stance should be embraced by the leaders of Arab and Muslim countries to highlight the threat from Al-Qaeda extremists – whether from the central movement or its even more objectionable splinter group ISIS.
Saudi Arabia itself has taken a firm stance on battling extremism. It has enacted a multi-pronged strategy that includes rehabilitating those led astray by “jihadists” who seem to put a priority on oppressing civilian populations and engaging in spectacular acts of butchery.
In recent weeks and months the most revolting acts of these extremists have been on display for the world in Syria and Iraq – this is hardly surprising, since the leaders of these countries have had a record of indulging extremists in the past.
While there has been an abundance of statements of denunciation, there has been a drought when it comes to concrete, multi-country plans to confront such extremists. Many countries have spoken of the danger posed by such extremists, but their counter-measures have largely involved things such as border control and surveillance.
In contrast, King Abdullah’s concern reflects the danger to the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims who are seeing the reputation of their faith suffer because of the atrocities committed by the extremists.
It is a call for action at various levels – the realms of education and the media come to mind – and it should be taken seriously to defeat the designs of those, particularly Israel, who are overjoyed by the emergence of ultra-extremists claiming to speak in the name of Islam.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 02, 2014, on page 7.