A Middle-Eastern Perspective on Terrorism

Archbishop Mouneer Anis believes education not arms is the ultimate solution to the threat posed by ISIS

In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Lebanon, Russia, and now France, I feel compelled to offer my perspective on the violence, structure, and origins of terrorism, especially the organization calling itself ISIS (the Islamic State in Syria/Iraq).

ISIS, as the name implies, is not just a terrorist group. It is a State. My hope is that countries fighting ISIS see that they are at war with a State and not merely a group. The chief danger of this State is that it has no border. It is composed of ‘citizens’ who have adopted similar ideologies although they come from different backgrounds and nationalities. The biggest question I have is whether or not the intelligence agencies of the countries of the European Union and the USA know where ISIS draws their financial resources from. Is there any action taken to dry up these resources?

Terrorism is a global threat. Thus, the whole world must cooperate in facing this danger. While terrorism can originate in one region, its effects are global. It is not Syria or Iraq, Egypt or France, England or the US that alone face such threats. It is an illusion to think that there is any state immune to terrorism.

To cut the chain leading to terrorism, it is necessary to sever the earliest links that spread militant ideologies. “Terrorism originates at many different levels, each level leading to another. The early levels are not militant, but the last are terrorists. It is important to prevent these chains of events right from the beginning,” says Dr. Ali Gomaa, former Grand Mufti of Egypt. Militant ideologies need to be countered with education and ideologies of peace and reconciliation.

I think that the international community would invest in the education of other countries instead of their militaries.

But I cannot ignore the violence and loss of life caused by groups like ISIS. I mourn with the global community at the loss of life in places like Syria and Iraq, especially in the wake of the recent attacks in Russia and Lebanon and now in France. My condolences and prayers go out to these communities, to the families of victims, and to the survivors.

+ Mouneer Egypt
November 15, 2015

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