Democracy is thought to have been introduced as early as 550 BCE in ancient Athens. It wasn’t democracy as we understand it today as only men with status, land and property were allowed to vote. The chaos of 600 men trying to decide on legislation helped decide Plato that democracy was one step away from anarchy. The modern form of democracy may not be ideal, but it offers hope to millions, hope that the world can be changed to provide humankind a safe and secure environment in which to live, work and raise children.
The recent atrocities around the world, concern not only Paris but many, many others such as Lebanon, Israel, Burundi, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Syria, Bali….too many. Paris has dominated the recent headlines because it is regarded as an emblem of the democratic state and the origin of the phrase ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’. These words hold a special meaning for the people who live in free, equal societies and never more so than now, when those ideals are under attack from groups of fanatical, religious extremists.
The West is split between factions offering refuge to those fleeing war, whose aim is unity and tolerance, peace and better understanding, and those who would condemn Islam and all its followers through discrimination, fear and hatred. Although blood has been shed by all different religious sects, there is little doubt Islam has received the worst of the public’s opprobrium because of the hideous acts carried out in its name.
Troops are deployed on the streets, bombing raids have increased, xenophobia more extensive, citizens have been warned and borders closed; fear and war mongering reigns supreme because this is the rhetoric the media love, outrage, death and destruction sell newspapers and get publicity. ISIS knows this and if their aim is as stated, they relish the idea of apocalypse, a fight to the death on the plains of Dabiq – ‘The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify…until it burns the Crusader armies in Dabiq,’ preached Abu Musab al-Zaraqawi in 2006.
It marks a fulfilment of prophecy when the forces of ‘Rome’ will be defeated by those of Islam. This prophecy can be found everywhere on the internet and demonstrates the ultimate goal of the jihadists… and fuels the escalating, political storms.
Sadly, it has been Muslims themselves who have suffered the most in this battle for an Islamic Caliphate and the calls for the reformation or re-interpretation of Islam are growing. The majority of Muslims interpret the Qu’ran as a message of tolerance and peace in the same way Christians decided the ideology of the Bible in past times. These were bloody times for Christianity – war, massacres, burning and torture all played a part in the re-thinking of enlightenment Europe and a diminishment of strict, religious belief introduced the blossoming of democracy, science and reason, leading to the supremacy of western states on the world stage.
Muslims around the world have consistently pleaded for their religion, insisting Islam is a religion of peace, but in Paris, who would or could believe this? In fact, many people do. Ordinary human beings who live and breathe democracy and stand for the values expressed above; those who uphold the rights of the individual above all else and their voices need to be heeded. There is a way to defeat ISIS but it must be embraced by those directly involved – Muslims. Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Irshad Manji, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nawaz Masjid are just a few of the voices now raised in support of reform, nevertheless, these few will not prevail without the wholehearted encouragement and determination of the 1.6 billion Muslims who declare ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ and ‘not in Islam’s name’. The ideals of the French Republic are still a hope for the future we can all strive to achieve.
Writer: Kay Saxon
The writer is a UK based columnist working with THE PASHTUN TIMES. She is graduated from the University of Central Lancashire, North of England. She can be reached at
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