MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Marianna Belenkaya.) Counterterrorism is one of the main subjects at an extraordinary summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) opening in Mecca on December 7.
Russia is taking part in the summit as an observer for the first time.
The idea that terrorism cannot be defeated unless the Muslim world takes an active part in the effort is one the Russian Muslim community, the ummah, can relate to. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov has repeatedly stated that "the most effective measure to counteract terrorism would be for countries with extensive Muslim populations to take on the leading role in the efforts." He says that "the position of our religious figures and theologians in countering Islamic radicalism has been extremely passive." Muslims in Russia, especially in the North Caucasus, have put forward the proposal for creating an international Islamic center which would denounce terrorist attacks from the religious point of view. This idea has been reflected in the Amman Memorandum, which will be one of the subjects discussed at the Mecca summit.
This document, drafted on the initiative of King Abdullah II of Jordan and supported by the leading theologians and public figures from all large Islamic states, condemns acts of violence committed against peaceful civilian populations from the position of Islam. The King of Jordan explained during his visit to Moscow last summer that one of the main points of the memorandum is to outlaw fetwahs, religious edicts which validate committing terrorist acts. King Abdullah II says that the most difficult stage, when this mechanism will begin to be implemented in practice, has begun. In this context, the situations in the zone of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Iraq remain the most troublesome for Muslims all over the world.
On the eve of the OIC summit, another terrorist attack was committed in the Israeli town of Nataniya. The denunciation of this act and the expression of condolences to Israel by all Islamic states would be the most vivid confirmation of their commitment to counterterrorism. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), condemned the attack straight away.
However, it is doubtful that the OIC would dare to follow his example.
The Euro-Mediterranean summit in Barcelona in late November had difficulty adopting the anti-terrorist code of conduct. European countries had to exert pressure on Israel and the Arab participants of the summit to sign the document. Terrorism was denounced but with a reservation. The Arab countries insisted that peoples' resistance to foreign invaders could not be seen as terrorism. Israel objected to this. As a result, the term "resistance" was discarded; however, the point on "the inadmissibility of occupation" was included in the text. The problem was solved on paper but it is much more difficult to reach a compromise in reality.
There is a difference between international terrorists and those who resist occupation or young people dissatisfied with social or political conditions in their country. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish them. It is essential to keep two issues separate: a terrorist attack, on the one hand, and the degree of responsibility born by the authorities in any geographical point where terrorist attacks take place, on the other. In other words, one should unreservedly denounce a terrorist attack, but it is also necessary to look into each individual case what the leaders of Israel, the PNA, Russia, the U.S.A., Saudi Arabia, etc., failed to do and why they allowed certain population groups to fall under terrorists' influence. Then it would be possible to conduct a dialog with those who are prepared for it and eliminate those who do not intend to abandon terrorism. Political influence can and must be exerted on resistance movements. There have been a number of cases of resistance forces laying down arms and entering into negotiations.
An important point to keep in mind is that terrorist attacks, wherever they are committed - in Israel, Arab countries, Europe, the U.S.A. or Russia - are criminal acts to an equal degree. Without this, all talk about counterterrorism will be pointless. And so will be discussions in the OIC on improving a negative image of Islam which has been damaged by terrorism. Assurances that the Muslims oppose terror cannot satisfy the world today. It is hard to believe the sincerity of these statements when Muslims in one part of the world censure terrorist acts, whereas in another part they keep silent about the death of innocent people. Muslims may lay responsibility for what is happening on Israel or the U.S.A. However, they can make a much more effective move - condemn terrorist attacks against the Americans and the Israelis. Then no one will dare to criticize the Muslims. The majority of the Muslims in Russia have already realized this.