The Chief Imam Islam in Liberia, Ali Krayee, last weekend finally broke the conspicuous (noticeable) silence of Muslims not only in Liberia but in many other places over the widespread terroristic attacks perpetrated by Islamic extremists in the name of Allah.
The latest of these attacks occurred last Sunday in our sisterly Federal Republic of Nigeria, when under-aged girls, used as suicide bombers by that country’s Muslim extremists, Boko Haram, entered crowded market places killing lots of people.
But most probably the main incident that led Imam Krayee to speak out against Islamic extremists was the murder of 12 French journalists by two brothers of Algerian descent, who said they had carried out their carnage in the name of Allah, to “avenge the Prophet Mohamed.” These journalists worked for a French satirical magazine that carried cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed.
That incident provoked worldwide anger and condemnation, leading to the largest demonstration in French and probably European history, when 3,000,000 people, led by President Holland and 49 other Heads of State, on Sunday marched through the streets of Paris to protest what was clearly a threat to the freedom of speech and of the press, cherished by the democracies of the West and other parts of the world. They marched in defiance of Islamic extremism and let it be known that France would not bow to anyone’s attempt to erase the “Libertie” for which the French people bled and died during their Revolution in 1789.
The Islamist extremists forgot that it was because of this cherished “Liberte” that during their Revolution the French beheaded their own King, Louis the XVI, and their Queen Marie Antoinette.
The Daily Observer has long called on Muslim leaders in Liberia to speak out on Islamic extremism and tell the world where they stand on these outrageous atrocities against innocent people. The 200 school girls captured last April by Boko Haram from their dormitory in Nigeria was a terrible and dramatic case in point, not to speak of all the others, including the murder of one of their own, Emir Mohamed Sanusi of Kano.
Imam Krayee declared firmly and unequivocally that the religion, Islam, “is under siege,” not by any other religious or political force, but by Islamist extremists, who arrogate to themselves the “right” to commit mass murder anywhere and everywhere in the holy name of Allah and His prophet Mohamed.
Of course, the Imam seized the opportunity in his sermon last Saturday to give a historical reminder of previous incidents of religious extremism. He recalled the Crusades during which European armies, between 1095 and 1291 A.D., launched a holy war to regain Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Islamic invaders. As in all wars, many people were killed.
The Imam also spoke of the First and Second World Wars which, though primarily political, killed millions.
He also recalled the Rwandan genocide of 1994 which in the space of 100 days killed 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu sympathizers. This, of course, was not religious but political genocide, blamed on the Tutsis or moderate Hutus who were alleged to have shot down a plane carrying both Rwanda President Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart.
But Krayee referred also to what he called the greatest of all genocides—the Atlantic Slave Trade—during which hundreds of thousands of Africans were uprooted from their homes and forcibly transported to the West as slaves.
While we welcome Imam Krayee’s forthright expressions against Islamist extremism, we think talking about them is not enough. It is a fact that this extremism, while it kills innocent people, also does great harm to the religion, because it tends to give the world, especially the non-Islamic world, a wrong impression of this great Abrahamic religion. That is why Imam Kryee rightly says Islam is “under siege.”
We think the best way forward is for major Muslim nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia and some of the other rich Arab nations to reach out to the extremists and try, one way or the other, to stop them, in the supreme interest of protecting the integrity of Islam. They can begin by engaging Boko Haram and helping Nigeria to end the bloodshed and save that most populous and richest African nation from the threat of disintegration