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Monday, April 19, 2010

Intellectual terrorism termed more dangerous than physical

Intellectual terrorism termed more dangerous than physical
Intellectual terrorism termed more dangerous than physical
By Qasim YousafzaiFor CentralAsiaOnline.com2010-04-19

Members of the Amn Tehreek (Peace Movement) demonstrate in Peshawar against any form of terrorism and demand peace on their land in this file photo. [Javed Aziz Khan]
Having deemed intellectual terrorism far more dangerous than physical terrorism, religious scholars, intellectuals, educationists and government officials are seeking to take concrete steps against the trend.
“This is a very dangerous trend”, said Dr Farooq Khan, a psychiatrist and religious scholar. “The reason is that having educated people ‘somehow legitimises’ terrorism and that ‘supports al-Qaeda.’ ”
Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister for Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa, agrees.
“Intellectual terrorism is a far serious and challenging issue to deal with than physical terrorism”, he told Central Asia Online.
Khan pointed to the distinguished parentage of Hamza Amin, who died while making a bomb. His father was Dr Amin Jadoon; his mother a former member of the national assembly from Jamaat-e-Islami. “I know many people who are al-Qaeda sympathisers while belonging to one or another religious party or group”, Khan said.
Prof Pervez Hoodbhoy, a faculty member at Qaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, said, “Those who intellectually motivate others to kill those who are not like them are equally responsible (for such murders). In fact, they are more dangerous and lethal”.
He added that intellectual terrorism has a long history and that the actions of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler provide an example of how dangerous inflammatory rhetoric can be.
“These mentors provide intellectual justification for physical terrorism”, Hoodbhoy said. “They create paranoia, fear and hatred and generate all kinds of negative emotion resulting in physical terrorism”.
He called for the denial of media platforms and other forums to such agitators.
Khadim Hussain, a political analyst and researcher, said intellectual terrorists have succeeded in seemingly rationalising physical terrorism’s place within society, such as equating Jihad with Qittal (killing) — even though they are not the same — and carrying out Jihad through privatised militia.
“(Intellectual terrorists) construct intellectual discourses that create enemies and hostile entities”, Hussain said. “For example the word ‘Ummah’ is used in a manner which leads to the clash of civilisation, and clash-of-civilisation theory is also floated by (the late US professor Samuel) Huntington. These mentors guide the terrorists’ organisation on their goals and network among each other.”
"It is enticement by exploiting people’s religious sentiments. It does more harm than good, promoting extremism and jingoism”, Canada-based Pakistani journalist Intikhab Amir said.
“They are continuing to use religion as a tool to achieve their personal policy goals", Amir told Central Asia Online of such leaders. "It goes beyond the problems that we are seeing on the surface. They are encouraging people to sacrifice their lives in the name of their religion. Simultaneously, this situation is resulting in a lack of tolerance and hatred towards those belonging to religions other than Islam”.
Citing certain state actors that he considers involved in promoting intolerance, he said, “This is playing with fire, which will not serve the state in any way, either in the short or the long run".
“So-called intellectuals are busy corrupting the minds of young people and put them on the wrong path”, said Zar Ali Khan Musazai, chairman of the Pashtun Democratic Council, referring to some former Army and intelligence officers, journalists and self-proclaimed "intellectuals".
"They (intellectual terrorists) have their own nefarious designs and vested interests. Besides the religiously corrupt intelligentsia, university and colleges are also promoting dangerous propaganda against people other than Pakistani Muslims”.
He said, “At the (pre-college) level, some Arabic-language and theology teachers instigate students to wage so-called Jihad and fight the non-Muslims, especially the West, the Hindus and Israel. Students are taught that Pakistani Muslims are better than other people and that when doomsday approaches, the Jihad will start from Pakistan and that this country will lead other Muslim countries”.
Khan told Central Asia Online that the ultimate danger of intellectual terrorism is that it can further divide the nation and provide more resources for physical terrorists.
“It provides the terrorists ground for good recruits”, he said. “The government is not giving due attention to fighting the terrorists on the ideological front".
The provincial minister, Mian Iftikhar, disagrees with that criticism of the government.
“We are fully conscious of these phenomena”, he said. “When the military operation in Malakand against terrorism was successfully completed, I said at that time that now we have to break the terrorist mind-set that is still there”.
"We will be fighting this intellectual terrorism on every front, namely, through our curriculum and education system, literature, speech, media and intellectual forums", Iftikhar said.
“The people who are spreading the propaganda are no friends of Pukhtuns or of Pakistan. They are ruining our youth and our society. We will counter this expansion of hate ideology”.
"There is a need for a counter-narrative against the hate and violence-ridden narrative of these people", Hoodbhoy said. "The counter-narrative that promotes peace, tolerance, harmony and peaceful co-existence".
"Liberal intelligentsia must deconstruct this discourse. Even if physical terrorism is eliminated for the time being, if intellectual terrorism is not countered, the menace of terrorism will flourish", Hussain warned.
Central Asia Online correspondents Raheel Khan in Islamabad and Iqbal Khattak in Peshawar contributed to this story.

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