The recent report of a Riyadh mosque serving as a facade for manufacturing explosives is an indication that the threat of terrorism is still there and that the extremist ideology continues to be a dangerous phenomenon in Saudi society. The nationwide campaign that had earlier succeeded in reining in extremist and terrorist sympathizers must be reactivated to address the new dangers that are threatening the Kingdom from the terrorists involved in conflicts and unrest in neighboring countries.
It is very reassuring to hear the loud calls of condemnations by religious scholars warning Saudi youths not to heed the jihad calls in Syria.
Extremists used the distorted interpretation of the concept of jihad to recruit young people and incite them to commit violence and murder, legitimizing their actions in the name of Islam. The distorted interpretations of jihad have misguided many of our youths who remain behind bars for committing terrorist acts and have become a danger to themselves and to society.
All Muslims today and Saudis in particular expect religious scholars to speak out against terrorists and extremists. We must not allow a repeat of Afghanistan and Iraq where many Saudi youths, recruited by Al-Qaeda, were killed and many others remain in jail, their life wasted and their future ruined. There are many stories of parents who were utterly devastated and were completely shocked to discover that their sons had been recruited by the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The open condemnation by Saudi religious scholars demanding deterrent punishments to those who exploit the innocent minds of our youth has renewed the trust in the religious establishment. It is a positive indication that there is a serious commitment to defy the militant ideology and promote the true spirit of moderation and tolerance in Islam. The perpetrators of the militant ideology should not be allowed to mastermind terror operations that continue to threaten our region and the Muslim world at large.
The disturbing images of innocent Syrian women and children dying and injured in refugee camps have touched us all. However parents need to be aware of the dangerous political conditions and explain to their children the ramifications of wars and armed struggles. They need to warn them against militants with selfish agendas and explain the danger of meddling into the affairs of other countries. They need to be educated about the proper channels available to offer contributions that can ease the pain and hardship of people living in the midst of wars and conflicts. Donations, prayers, and messages through the media and, social media or supporting Syrian families stranded abroad are some of the official and safe ways to help.
It is important to show our children that we all care and it is only normal for us to feel the pain of others. Our religion tells us that it is the duty of every Muslim to help his fellow Muslim, however we are also instructed not to indulge in “Fitna “ or conflict when a Muslim brother kills his Muslim brother. The government has put in place legal channels to facilitate support for the suffering Syrian people. It is our religious obligation to urge and support government initiatives to stop the killings of the innocents in Syria and exert more efforts to promote peace in the whole region. Moreover we should all donate generously to ease the sufferings of the innocent Syrian people.
The vast border with Yemen is another security threat. It enables terrorist infiltrators to bring explosives and weapons into Saudi Arabia. Terrorism is still rampant in Yemen because of continued disputes between tribes and religious sects, poverty and a failed state. It is the responsibility of the state and academic institutions to inform and educate the public about the dangers in our midst and to offer a more peaceful and healthy environment for all citizens Educators also have a crucial role to recognize social ills that lead to extremism and create a hostile environment. A stronger and more effective nationwide campaign should be activated to address sectarianism, discrimination and racism and serious measures should be adopted to enforce a more moderate and tolerant attitude that is based upon the Islamic principles of tolerance and moderation.
Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manie, who is a member of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars and adviser at the Royal Court, urged authorities to provide better protection to Mosques and called on them to save the places of worship from being converted into dens of destructive acts.
Citizens and residents have also been advised to be more vigilant and report any suspicious activity around mosques to the proper authorities.
The Saudi government campaign to combat terrorism and extremism needs to be further supported and encouraged by society and Muslim scholars. The extremists today are threatening Muslim societies and they have created a conflict between Muslim brothers. This dangerous phenomenon needs to be checked before it causes more chaos and instability in our region and across the Muslim world. Moderate Muslims have an obligation to combat those extremists who continue to be in confrontation with societies and people that reject their extremist views and principles.
Samar Fatany is a radio broadcaster and writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.