Our War on Violence and Extremism
“The battle against ISIS is not America’s alone.
It is ours par excellence. Those are individuals that targeted us
as nations — that targeted
our people, history, culture and everything...”
Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed
Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister
Nothing occupies the minds in this region and the world nowadays
more than the war on terrorism. War drums have rang to counter an
expanding threat that spares no country. More serious than the military
war itself is its impact and repercussions on the local conditions
in each country, triggering many questions, such as: How could we
create a clean environment where the viruses of violence and terrorism
cannot grow? This leads us to the other arm of the counter-terrorism
policy, the part relating to policy? thought and culture.
In essence, terrorism is an enemy of life, especially in the
form manifested by ISIS where decapitations and women captivation
left no room for preserving any of the human rights, chief among
them are the ‘right to life’ and the right to be free, as the world
has fought hard to put an end to slavery and combat it through regulations,
laws and legislation. Do we really want to go back to the ages of
captivation and ignorance?
As far as Bahrain is concerned, the Bahraini Foreign Minister
pointed out that the number of Bahrainis enrolled in ISIS (ISIL)
and Al-Nusra Front does not exceed a 100 people. Nonetheless, it
is not a small figure for a country with a tiny population, especially
one that has been renowned for its tolerance; acceptance of cultural,
sectarian and religious pluralism; social openness, and a long history
of civil peace.
Here we must recognize a number of objective fundamentals:
• Terrorism, especially of the Al Qaeda and ISIS brands, does
not grow in a clean environment, but rather flourishes in turbulent
atmospheres, suffering from political, social or security-related
unrest or all of these combined. We believe that the security and
political unrest in Bahrain has facilitated the growth of the extremist
thought and ideology which is essentially imported from abroad.
This led to a deep schism in the community which fed on political
dissent, and was further inflamed by media outlets and social networking
sites. For all of the above, all social groups in Bahrain, are required
to be aware of the fact that the various conflicts which had happened
in the past three years have provided a favourable climate for extremism
in thought and practice, which, we pray to God , would not escalate
into local violence. All the warring factions have rallied against
each other, and spared none of its media, cultural or religious
weaponry without using it in its political discourse. This resulted
in ? tense and charged audience that is fraught with pain. On the
other hand, the prolonged political crisis, and the lack of prospects
for moderate solutions, has contributed to the creation of a corrupt
climate where all the parasites of violence and terrorism were able
• We believe that the ideology of extremism and violence is imported
and that it is alien to Bahrain. Although this ideology holds but
a very tiny share of the ideology market, its shoppers do, in spite
of their meagre numbers, constitute a major threat to security and
stability. It is time to take severe and decisive measures against
those advocates and promoters of hate speech and extremism in Bahrain.
It is time for the discourse of our intellectuals, scholars and
politicians to rise to the challenge if we want to cleanse our country
from an epidemic of excommunication (Takfeer) and extremism that
leads to violence and blood. It is also time to impose tight censorship
over those imported extremist thoughts and combat them with moderation,
tolerance and respect, and by highlighting the spotless image of
the values of Islam and humanity.
• As we have seen and still see nowadays in other countries,
the extremist and violent ideology should not be a tool in the hands
of an individual against the other, because it is, ultimately, an
exclusionary ideology against everyone. It is an ideology that predates
the statehood era. Its adherents are not against a particular group
but are actually against all groups and sects, and against the very
origin of the system of government. They are against the way of
life of the ordinary citizen and against their culture and traditions.
None, whether a country, political party or group, has ever used
this thought and its adherents for their ends, without seeing it
backfire at them with dire consequences. This fact should made everyone
realise that they are within the circle of danger and targeting.
The sense of collective danger should drive them to re-communicate
after a long period of estrangement between social, political, religious
or cultural groups. Whatever the political dispute, it remains a
much lesser risk compared to the danger of excommunicating and violent
extremism. The political dispute should not be allowed to turn into
a sectarian dispute that feeds extremism and violence in Bahrain.
Finally, we must reckon with the fact that this violent ideology
feeds on societal divisions, and the greater the rift, the easier
is the generation of extremism. Politicians should avoid the intercalation
of sectarian, ideological and cultural differences in political
In sum, what has happened in the region during the past few months
is a lesson to all, including states and elites of various orientations.
We in Bahrain need to cooperate in eliminating the environment that
provides the lifeline for extremism and violence potentials. We
have to arrive at rapid political understandings to deliver everyone
from the crisis. This cannot be accomplished without true realization
and remembrance of the imminent and impending danger to everyone
on the one hand; and making concessions for the benefit of the security
and stability of the country and the future of its generations.