Communities United Against Terror
Terrorist attacks against Londoners on July 7th killed at least 54 people. The suicide bombers who struck in Netanya, Israel, on July 12 ended five lives, including two 16 year old girls. And on July 13, in Iraq, suicide bombers slaughtered 24 children. We stand in solidarity with all these strangers, hand holding hand, from London to Netanya to Baghdad: communities united against terror.
(Update written 5 October 2005:) On October 1 suicide bombers killed 22 people in three restaurants in Bali. Like the failed July 21 bombers in London, the Bali terrorists laced their bombs with ball bearings and shrapnel in order to maim and disfigure the maximum number of innocents. On October 12 2002 Al Qaeda murdered 202 people in Bali. The latest Bali attacks should spur us on to redouble our efforts to unite communities against terror, from London to Netanya, Baghdad to Bali. Immediately, please consider asking all your friends and colleagues to sign this statement - now being supported by the Madrid11 initiative and openDemocracy - and invite them to circulate it to their own friends and colleagues.
These attacks were the latest atrocities committed by terrorist groups inspired by a poisonous and perverted politics that disguises itself as a form of the religion of Islam. The terrorists seek a closed society of fear and conformity. They are opposed by Muslims the world over. Muslim community leaders have condemned the London attacks unequivocally. We reject the terrorists' claim that they represent authentic Islam. They do not.
We remember the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001 and in Madrid on March 11, 2004. But we know that al Qaeda and groups that are inspired by Bin-Ladenism have carried out atrocities in France, Pakistan, Israel, , Kenya, Tanzania, India, Iraq, Morocco, Yemen, Tunisia, Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, North Osetia and many other countries.
The vast majority of the victims of al Qaeda's violence have been Muslims. Those who have suffered at the hands of violent Islamic Fundamentalist movements in Iran and Algeria have also been ordinary Muslims.
This terrorist violence is not a response by 'Muslims' to the injustices perpetrated upon them by 'the west'. Western democracies have been responsible for some of the ills of this world but not for the terrorist murders of these deluded Bin-Ladenists.
These attacks did not begin in 2003. The first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center took place ten years before, in 1993.
These terrorists do not hate what is worst in the societies they attack, but what is best. They despise individual liberty, critical thought, gender equality, religious tolerance, the rights of minorities and political pluralism. They do not criticize democracy because it sometimes fails to live up to its principles; they oppose those principles.
In areas of conflict, the terrorists have damaged attempts at peaceful and political solutions to problems. They choose killing and reject mutual recognition, accommodation, negotiation, understanding, and compromise.
In the face of such an enemy, we believe it is vital that democratic political forces in all countries unite. We need a global movement of solidarity linking together communities threatened by terror. United we stand against terror.
We can find our inspiration in the behavior of ordinary people in the immediate aftermath of terrorist atrocities. Always the story is the same. A fractured world is mended by the kindness of strangers. We see, amidst the pain and anguish, in the rubble of the Twin Towers, the wreckage of a London bus, the bloodied glass across a Tel Aviv street, and among the Mothers searching for their children in Baghdad, that a common humanity asserts itself. Extraordinary acts of courage and selflessness become commonplace. The impulse of solidarity overwhelms fear and help comes from strangers.
With every healing gesture between strangers we feel a candle of hope has been lit in a dark world. On 7/7 a London tube worker rushed towards the blast, running down a smoke-filled tunnel, torch in hand, to lead out the survivors.
These ordinary yet heroic rescuers teach us the ethic of responsibility. It is time to assert our common humanity against all who would divide us. It is time to forge communities united against terror, respectful of the dignity of difference, and organised to extend active solidarity to each other across the globe.
We are frequently urged to understand the terrorists, but too often the call to understand is code for justification and apology. There are always other, better, more effective, and more human ways of opposing injustice than by killing yourself and others in a symbolic act of hatred. Muslims who have pursued modern democratic politics have often been the first in the firing line of the terrorists. The road to a just solution in Israel-Palestine is signposted by 'mutual recognition' and 'political dialogue' not the blind alley of terrorism.
We stand firmly against the racists who seek to exploit the current tensions for their own agenda.
We stand firmly against those who apologize for the terrorists and who misrepresent terrorist atrocities as 'resistance'.
We offer our support and solidarity to all those within the Muslim faith who work in opposition to the terrorists and who seek to win young people away from extremism and nihilism, towards an engagement with democratic politics.
We believe that democracy and human rights are worth defending with all our strength. The human values of respect and tolerance and dignity are not 'western' but universal.
We are not afraid. But we are not vengeful. We believe the kindness of strangers has lit the way and this light will drive away the darkness. We want to join light to light to show that evil, injustice and oppression will not have the final word. Through these acts of human solidarity we will mend the world the terrorists have fractured.
We invite you to sign this statement as a small first step to building a global movement of citizens against terrorism.