September 27, 2014
There is now a widespread perception in the Islamic world generally and in the Arab world in particular that the first and last target of the supposed international campaign to combat terrorism is Sunni Muslims alone and no other group. Adding insult to injury and confirming Sunni fears, the New York Times front page headline a few days ago stated "US aircraft and international coalition forces targeting Sunni terrorists in Syria and Iraq’.
This seems to suggest that the Shiite militias wreaking havoc, destruction and slaughter in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere are mere fluffy lambs. Certainly nobody in Western media ever mentions the Shiite fighters, who appear to have been completely excluded from the recent decisions issued by the UN Security Council to combat terrorism by limiting the number of foreign fighters travelling among the hotbeds of conflict in the Middle East.
There is certainly nothing wrong in the world standing together to confront the 'Islamic State’ (Da’esh) and its sister organisations which are universally considered terrorists by all measures. There is nothing wrong with the USA and its anti-terrorism alliance combating terrorism from every part of the world. We welcome any move to rid the world of both terrorism and terrorists. Arab and Sunni Muslims in particular are especially affected by the most heinous terrorism and support any international campaign to target this phenomenon.
At the same time, however, we are left wondering, why is this international campaign limited only to one sect or one doctrinal group of Muslims? Why exclude those very active parties in terrorism perpetrated in Syria and Iraq, namely the Shiite militias? Have the USA and the Iraqi interior ministry forgotten about the use of electric drills to drill into the skulls of Sunni prisoners in Iraqi prisons? Does the USA know that the vast majority of prisoners in Iraq are Sunni? Does the USA know that Sunnis are the victims of sectarian terrorism by the state? Is America aware that it was the sectarian terrorist form of rule adopted by Iraq’s former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki which led directly to the arrival of Da’esh in Iraq as a direct response to the horrific persecution of the country’s Sunni population? Does Washington even acknowledge that Sunni Iraqis have been suffering for over a decade from the most horrendous, state-backed Shiite terrorism?
Why is action being taken solely against the IS terrorist group and its sister organisations because they claim to be fighting against Bashar al Assad and the Iraqi regime while the Shite militias fighting for the Assad and Iraqi regimes, who are also terrorists by any definition in the US or the world, are ignored? Have the Americans seen the atrocities by the Iraqi Shiite militias and the Lebanese, Yemeni, Pakistani and Afghan ones fighting alongside the Syrian and Iraqi regimes' armies?
The only difference between the Sunni and Shiite terrorist groups is that Da’esh like to tell the media about their crimes while the Shiite terrorist militias practice the customary modest intimidation, i.e. they prefer to cover up their crimes rather than showing them to the world. It is very easy, however, to identify them through those who have been subjected to Shiite terrorism in Syria and Iraq. Some seeking the reason behind the vastly different treatment accorded to the Sunni and Shiite terrorist groups have asked sarcastically; did the Sunni terror group members graduate from universities in Tora Bora and Kandahar while their Shiite counterparts are alumni of Harvard, Oxford and the Sorbonne who enjoy the symphonies of Tchaikovsky, Bach and Chopin?
As time goes on, more and more are asking questions on all social networks and media, like why are there no Shiites in Guantanamo Bay? Why have Shiite militias not been added to the US list of terrorist organisations? Why do American drones bombard Ansar al-Sharia but not the Houthis of Yemen? Why does France insist on withholding Hezbollah from its list of terrorist organisations? Why is it that the West will not allow any form of Sunni Islamic rule from Afghanistan to Somalia to Mali to Yemen, while simultaneously allowing Shiite Iran to become a superpower in the Gulf? Why are Shiite organisations allowed to proselytise in Africa while even Sunni charities are prevented from fundraising? What is the difference in value between the life of a Sunni and that of a Shiite?
Why are the terrorist crimes of Bashar al Assad and the Iranian masters of crime, which are unprecedented in modern history apparently considered reasonable and acceptable, while those of certain Sunni terrorist groups are considered uniquely horrific? Are genocide, the destruction of a nation and the dispossession and displacement of half its population on the basis of sectarianism considered halal and acceptable while the killing of a journalist at the hands of extremists is a uniquely barbaric and unpardonable act?
A more important question, to be directed at the same time to the Arab states helping the USA to confront the Sunni extremist groups is: where is your action against Shiite terrorism? Why are you pursuing your customary blind impulsive alliance with the USA against so-called Sunni terrorism while you remain silent on Shiite terrorism? Why are the Arab Sunni states rushing to confront the Sunni Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi while remaining silent on Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi who is leading a sectarian and racist assault in Yemen in exactly the same way that Al-Baghdadi overran Mosul? Do these Sunni states work on the principle of Shiite good Sunni bad, as many commenters on social networking sites and elsewhere are already mockingly suggesting? Why are Arab Sunni extremist groups included on terrorism watch lists while Shiite terrorist groups are conspicuously ignored?
Do you believe that Sunni terrorism is haram while Shiite terrorism is halal?
Finally, I’d like to point out that I’m neither Sunni nor Shiite [Dr. al Qassem is from the Druze minority], but it is necessary to point out these things, not to favour one sect or the other but to clarify what is right and true.
Original article (in Arabic), published by Al Quds al Arabi on September 26th: http://www.alquds.co.uk/?p=227003