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And if I met a terrorist?

by Sumaya Abdel Qader

I have always wondered: "What would I do, how would I behave if I ever had to find myself in front of a Muslim fanatic or terrorist who is about to carry out an attack, or more "simply" in front of someone 'radicalized'[1]?". 

I have often tried to conjure up different scenarios and imagine different responses

I have imagined the (female) attacker sitting at a table planning his "deed", I imagined him or her in the tube, about letting him or herself explode, I also imagined to discover that a close (female) friend or relatives had suddenly embraced "the cause".

Thoughts that make me shiver.

In the first place a feeling of helplessness prevails, to then leave room to thousand questions. 

I have always imagined to get closer to the fanatic, be it male of female, and ask him or her a first question:

"Why? Why?!"

The reply I imagine scares me every time:

"So wants God. We must kill the infidels who threaten His word! Islam is the only truth and must rule sovereign".

"But…which God? Which word?" is my answer.

In the dream (or nightmare) with open eyes, in my heart and mind a thoughts resurfaces like a mantra: can the children of the same faith understand the meaning and godly will in such a different way? Apparently yes.

Naively, I imagine I reply: "Don't you understand you are wrong?" and I imagine him or her tell me:

"Sister, you have been brainwashed by the infidels, you have conformed to their models, get back on Allah's track or He will punish you!"

I would answer:

"Your God is not my God".

Thinking you hear the name of Allah connected with such mindlessness and violence hurts me so deeply.

So, I imagine I start a long monologue to persuade her or him that she or he is wrong, he or she is a victim of criminals with a very precise plan, criminals who have theorized an eschatological worldview starting from the Islamic tradition, mystifying and betraying its core message, and he or she is an unaware victim, a mere executive means of a plan of interwoven interests. I imagine to try and open his or her eyes on the pain he or she will leave on this earth. I would try to evoke the pain he or she will cause to their mother or father, who have brought him or her up with other aims. I imagine I tell them about an Islam of peace, as this very word indicated, and that Muslim means "those who have placed themselves in God's arms", preferring this translation over the more widespread one of "submitted to God". This because God is Al-Rahman, an Arab word that means merciful, whose root is rhm, the same root of the word uterus. Therefore God is welcoming, is love, is a state of peace and purity like the womb.

Would he or she listen to me? I don't know. I only know that the duty of trying is compelling and necessary.

As it is necessary and dutiful to contact the competent authorities if you have suspicions or evidence of some danger.

Fortunately, it does not happen to meet with terrorists or fanatics in our daily lives. We meet, instead, with people who want to live their own lives in peace, people with whom we need to establish ties, which can be of friendship or confrontation or at least respect. This is why the initiatives of inclusion, knowledge, those bringing about diversity need be encouraged. We must create the conditions for young people risking radicalization, bullying, criminality and so on not to fall in the grip of evil.

We should be united by an awareness: the one we live in a society full of challenges due to the plurality that is more and more increasing, not easy to keep in balance. This is a challenge that should bring about and keep the wonderful thing called life.

[1] I use the word 'radicalize' with the now widespread connotation as synonym of fanatic or extremist. In facts it is an inaccurate use of language, because radicalism/radicalization/radical have different original meanings.

Analysis by Sumaya Abdel Qader, City Councillor of Milan

26 October 2016

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