Karen Armstrong has penned an interesting opinion piece for The Guardian questioning why we insist on referring to 'Islamic terror', yet never used equivalent terms to describe the IRA and other Christian terrorist organisations. She reminds us that what the Qur'an says, and the actions of certain violent bampots, bear no resemblance to one another:
We need a phrase that is more exact thanIslamic terror. These acts may be committed by people who call themselves Muslims, but they violate essential Islamic principles. The Qur'an prohibits aggressive warfare, permits war only in self-defence and insists that the true Islamic values are peace, reconciliation and forgiveness. It also states firmly that there must be no coercion in religious matters, and for centuries Islam had a much better record of religious tolerance than Christianity.
Like the Bible, the Qur'an has its share of aggressive texts, but like all the great religions, its main thrust is towards kindliness and compassion. Islamic law outlaws war against any country in which Muslims are allowed to practice their religion freely, and forbids the use of fire, the destruction of buildings and the killing of innocent civilians in a military campaign. So although Muslims, like Christians or Jews, have all too often failed to live up to their ideals, it is not because of the religion per se.
She goes on to argue that fundamentalism is nothing other than nationalism wearing religious clothing. The efforts by American Christian fundies to co-opt the Stars and Stripes would seem to support that hypothesis.
Muslim organisations have been quick to emphasise that such acts are quite firmly against their religion, and have issued a fatwa declaring that the individuals reponsible, even if they consider themselves to be Muslims, are not—basically an excommunication.
Signed by dozens of prominent Muslim bodies, mosques, Islamic scholars and community groups, the religious edict will brand the attacks as a breach of the most basic tenets of Islam, reported The Independent.
If these bombers are found to be Muslims, we will make it clear we utterly dissociate ourselves from them - even if they claim to be Muslims or are acting under the mantle of the Islamic faith. We reject that utterly,said the official spokesman of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
The label of Catholic terror was never used about the IRA - The Guardian, 11th July 2005; UK Fatwa to Call Bombers Unbelievers, If Proved Muslims - Islam Online, 10th July 2005.