Month: December 2016

Jihadist Revisionism

Among the most frustrating things I have faced since I came to Islam in the 1990s are, what seems to me, the chronic tendency in our community to exaggerate, and our unwillingness to be objective.  I mean, a good recent example of this was when I saw an interview with Fatema, the mother of 7 year old Twitter celebrity Bana Abed, after the family’s arrival in Turkey.  She complained about the conditions on the evacuation bus, and likened it to being a hostage.  Except, this bus was delivering her and her family to safety and freedom.  The bus was not bombed, was not set on fire, the men on board were not executed, and the women were not raped; as we had been told to expect.  No.  They passed safely into Turkey.  But instead of “Al-Hamdulillah” we get a tirade against the bus ride that rescued the family from war.  As if it was disappointing that there was no atrocity.

Early in my interactions with Arabs I was given the impression that it wasn’t safe to pray Fajr in the masjid in any Arab country, and that growing a beard would get you arrested. It took me a while to realize that this was simply not true. I prayed Fajr in masjids in many of those countries, and knew many brothers with beards, and had one myself. I remember my brother-in-law in Gaza who had a beard the first time I met him, but had shaved it off when I visited Gaza again a little over a year later.  He explained that under Arafat, it was not safe to grow a beard.  Sitting next to him as he said this was my other brother-in-law, who still had his beard.  So let’s be honest.  The masjids are not full at Fajr time in the Arab world for the same reason they are not full in the West, or anywhere else: very few people want to go. “The Intelligence services will identify me as an extremist” is just an excuse.

It is worth noting that the demands of the original protesters in Syria in 2011 did not include the right to pray Fajr in the masjid. No.  The Jihadi narrative of pre-war Syria is revisionist.

I have known Syrians all my life as a Muslim; religious brothers, anti-regime, Ikhwan and Salafi and unaffiliated. None of them complained about overt sectarian repression of religious practices.  They complained about public sector corruption, censorship, income inequality, monopolization of power, and so on; the same things the demonstrators were protesting. And these are all the same kinds of complaints anyone has about authoritarian governments anywhere in the world. But most people were relatively free to say and do as they liked, as long as it was not critical of the government. Again, that is the same in any Arab country (it is also the same with anyone living under Da’esh, by the way, except that under Da’esh, overt sectarian repression is prominent).

No one is saying that the regime in Syria was benevolent and good; but it was not by any means, uniquely bad; and by most accounts prior to 2011, things were getting better. There was considerable economic development, rehabilitation of infrastructure, and so on.  This is all true, and none of it invalidates the demands of the protesters. Acknowledging this reality does not undermine the legitimacy of what they were asking for. But the demands of the protesters were immediately drowned by the armed conflict, and the nature of the struggle radically changed.  Again, the demands of the protesters were not religious in nature; they were political and socioeconomic; just as were the demands of demonstrators in Tunisia, Egypt, and everywhere else.  It is simply dishonest to rewrite the history of these events to make it appear as though they were rising up against religious repression. That just was not the case.

I don’t doubt that the Jihadis believe what they are saying, but when they talk about religious repression, they mean “living under any system other than Khilafah”, but this definition is not shared by most people. Perhaps they had personal experiences of people being arrested for praying Fajr in the masjid, I really don’t know; but if so, it is likely that the arrest related to matters beyond the prayer, and this experience does not reflect the general situation for most people. And, frankly, I have heard that line too many times, and seen it debunked too many times, and known too many Syrians before the war, to fall for it.

If we consider this tendency to exaggerate and revise history, it is predictable that we could see in Sudan, for example, a nonviolent opposition movement against Omar Bashir’s regime on the basis of socioeconomic demands turn into a violent secular uprising against “Islamism”, with religion used to obscure the real issues. We may be told 3 or 4 years from now by Sudanese rebels that Bashir’s government forced people to pray Fajr in the masjids and punished men who didn’t grow beards.  The religious people will back the government, and the West will back the rebels, and nothing that the protesters are demanding will even be remembered.

So you see, it is of the utmost importance that we are honest and objective about reality, because this has an impact on the shaping of reality.

هل هي هزيمة مظفرة؟                         Victorious defeat?

عندما تكون هناك انتهاكات وحشية تمارس، وناس يعانون، سنجد لدينا نوعين من ردود الأفعال، وهم مرتبطين ببعضهم البعض. الأول سيكون عبارة عن تعاطف مع الضحايا، وهو رد فعل قلبي وعاطفي، إن صح التعبير. والآخر سيكون عبارة عن محاولة لفهم ما يحدث، وكيف كان يمكن منعه من الحدوث، وكيف يمكن إيقافه، وكيف نمنع حدوثه مرة أخرى. ورد الفعل الثاني يتولد من الأول، أو هذا ما ينبغي أن يكون. للأسف، الكثير منا يقف عند النوع الأول ولا يعقب. فنجد أنفسنا نتعاطف فقط، ونفرك أيدينا ونتباكى على ما حدث. وبالنسبة للكثيرين منا، فإن رد الفعل الأول يتولد منه برد فعل عاطفي وبشع يطلق عليه: الرغبة في الثأر… فيأتي هذا التولد في شكل “إجهاض” الفكري.

بعض الناس يجدون الأشياء التي أقولها عن سوريا غريبة، وهذا إن دل على شيء فهو يدل على أنهم لم يفهموا الهدف الأساسي من كتابتي، وهو اكتشاف وتطوير استراتيجيات تهدف لرفع مستوى سلطة الإسلام في العالم الحقيقي مع الحفاظ على حياة المسلمين وتطويرها. معارضتي لاستراتيجية المسلحة ليست معارضة مطلقة، ولا تستند إلى التزام فكري بالسلمية، كما كتبت عدة مرات. فهناك ظروف وشروط تكون فيها التكتيكات المسلحة مناسبة، وهنا أنا لا أتردد في دعمها، خاصة إذا كانت هناك استراتيجية مصاحبة تضمن أقصى قدر من الفعالية.

لم أدعوا يوما لثورة مسلحة في مصر، ولم أدعوا إليها في سوريا، وهناك أسباب دينية واستراتيجية لذلك؛ ويجب أن تعلم أن الدين يدعوك لتبني استراتيجية فعالة. فالثورة المسلحة في كلا البلدين، وما حدث في سوريا، وما يأمل البعض أن يحدث في مصر، يمكن أن ينتهي إلى كوارث؛ كارثة للشعب، وكارثة لأهداف الثوار، وكارثة للإسلام.

الكارثة الحالية في سوريا واضحة، والمستقبل هو أيضا كارثي بنفس القدر، والأراضي التي يسيطر عليها المتمردون ستنفصل عن بقية سوريا، حيث سيبقى الأسد في السلطة، وستكون هناك مناطق منزوعة السلاح تحت سيطرة قوات حفظ السلام التابعة للأمم المتحدة وتحت القيادة والسيطرة الأمريكية على الأرجح. ويبدوا أن هذا كان الهدف الأميركي منذ البداية. ربما سمع بعضكم بالنشاط الإجرامي لقوات حفظ السلام التابعة للأمم المتحدة في أجزاء أخرى من العالم، ولا أعتقد أنكم يجب أن تتوقعوا شيئا مختلفا في سوريا. وفي نهاية المطاف، ربما بعد 10 سنوات أو قد يكون قبل ذلك، قد يتم اعتبارها نوع من الدولة أو الكونفدرالية، وستحكمها المافيا مثل قديروف في الشيشان. وستبقى بدون أي صناعات، ومتخلفة، وفقيرة. وهذه النتيجة هي نفسها المتوقعة اليوم كما كانت متوقعة منذ عام 2011. فإن كنتم ممن يتابعون كتاباتي، ستعرفون أنني لا أجد أي سبب يجعلني أشيد بأي من هذا.

أنا لا أقبل الحجة التي تقول بأنه لا توجد أية خيارات، فالخيارات المتاحة كانت فقط غير لطيفة، ولكنها كانت خيارات، وبعضها كان أكثر أو أقل خطورة من غيره.

إذا تصورتم أن انتقادي لاستراتيجية الثوار يعني أنني أعفي الأسد من مسؤولية وحشيته، فهذا رد فعل صبياني، لأن بشار الأسد هو ما هو، ديكتاتور بلا رحمة أو شفقة، وبالتالي يجب أن نتوقع منه أن يتصرف وفقا لهذه الصفات، وينبغي أن تستند استراتيجيتكم على هذا الأساس. وإن كنتم ستتعاونون مع القوى الغربية، أو الأنظمة العميلة لها في الخليج، فيتعين عليكم فعل هذا مع الوعي بمصالحهم وأهدافهم طويلة المدى، لأن أهدافهم قد تكون، في هذه الحالة، مختلفة اختلافا جذريا عن أهدافكم، فقد تتصورون أنكم تستخدمونهم، ولكن على الأقل توقعوا إمكانية أنهم هم من يستخدمونكم، لأن هذا هو ما حدث.

أنا لا أرى أن إخضاع المسلمين نصرا للإسلام، ربما أنتم ترون هذا! ويمكننا أن نتفق أو نختلف حول هذه النقطة.

When there is an atrocity underway, and people are suffering, ideally you will have two reactions, and these are connected.  One is that you will empathize with the victims.  That is the reaction of the heart, if you will.  The other is that you try to understand why it is happening, how it could have been prevented, how it can be stopped, and how to prevent it from happening again. The second reaction is born from the first, or should be.  Unfortunately, many of us stop with the first reaction; we empathize only, wringing our hands and lamenting what has occurred.  And for many others of us, the first reaction gives birth to a shapeless emotional offspring called vengeance.  This is an intellectual miscarriage.

Some people find the things I have said about Syria to be strange.  This only indicates to me that they have never understood the fundamental objective of my writing, which is to explore and develop strategies for uplifting the authority of Islam in the real world while preserving and improving the lives of the Muslims. My opposition to armed strategy is not universal; it is not based on an ideological commitment to nonviolence, as I have written many times.  There are circumstances and conditions in which armed tactics are appropriate, and I do not hesitate to support that, if there is an accompanying strategy for maximum effectiveness.

I have never advocated an armed revolution in Egypt, and I never advocated it in Syria.  There are both religious and strategic reasons for this; and yes, the religion does require you to adopt effective strategy.  Armed revolution in both countries, what has taken place in Syria, and what some hope to take place in Egypt, can only end in disaster; disaster for the people, disaster for the goals of the revolutionaries, and disaster for Islam.

The current disaster of Syria is obvious, and the disastrous future is equally so.  The rebel-held territories will be partitioned off from the rest of Syria, where Assad will remain in power, and they will be demilitarized zones occupied by UN peacekeepers under American command and control, most likely. And this was the American objective from the beginning. You may be familiar with the criminal activity of UN peacekeepers in other parts of the world, and I don’t think you should expect anything different in Syria.  Eventually, perhaps after 10 years, possibly sooner, the territory may be granted some sort of state or confederate status, and will be governed by a Mafioso like Kadyrov in Chechnya.  It will remain de-industrialized, under-developed, and impoverished.  This outcome was as predictable in 2011 as it is now.  If you are familiar with my writing, I do not know why you would expect me to applaud for this

I do not accept the argument that there were never any choices.  The available choices may have all been unpleasant, but there were choices, and some were more or less dangerous than others.

If you imagine that my criticism of the rebels’ strategy absolves Assad of blame for his brutality; that is just childish emotionalism.  Bashar al-Assad is what he is, a ruthless dictator.  You should therefore expect him to act like one, and your strategy should be based on this expectation. And if you are going to collaborate with Western powers, or their client regimes in the Khaleej, you should do so with the awareness of what their long term interests and goals are, because their goals may be, and in this case are, radically different from your goals.  You may think that you are using them, but at least consider the possibility that they are using you; because that is what has happened.

I do not view the subjugation of the Muslims as a victory for Islam, perhaps you do.  We will have to agree to disagree on that point.

اللا عـودة في سوريــا                         Irreversibles in Syria

ماذا كان سيصبح السيناريو الأسوأ في سوريا إذا اكتفت مجموعات المعارضة بإيقاف الاحتجاجات في الشوارع بعد عمليات القمع الأولى؟ حسنا، من الواضح، أن السيناريو الأسوأ كان ببساطة هو أن تبقى الأمور على ما هي عليه، ولكن ستكون هناك إمكانية لإجراء إصلاحات تدريجية على المدى الطويل.

وماذا كان سيصبح السيناريو الأسوأ إذا استمرت الاحتجاجات؟ من الممكن أنه كان سيكون هناك قمع وحشي على نحو متزايد، واعتقالات جماعية، وفرض قيود أكبر، وهلم جرا.

علينا بعد ذلك مقارنة أي من هذه السيناريوهات بما ظل لدينا لأكثر من خمس سنوات الأن، أي ما هو كائن الآن، وما يمكن أن نتوقعه في سوريا نتيجة الحرب للأجيال القادمة. وإذا كان لدينا أي ذرة عقل، أو قلب يعقل، وإذا كان الفهم الإسلامي راسخا في قلوبنا وعقولنا، فعلينا حينها أن نعترف بأن كلا التصورين البديلين كانا أفضل بشكل مطلق.

إذا كنت غير قادر أو غير راغب في الاعتراف بذلك، إذن فأنا آسف جدا، ولكنك تعاني متاعب نفسية حادة واضطرابا خطيرا في التفكير، وليس مجرد جهل بالدين، كلا، بل أنت مصاب بمرض خطير.

كانت حملة النظام ضد المحتجين همجية وإجرامية بلا شك. وهو نظام استبدادي وحشي، تماما مثل العديد من الأنظمة الأخرى في العالم العربي.

ولكن، بشكل عام، إذا لم تكن من نشطاء المعارضة السياسية، فقد كنت آمنا في شؤون حياتك وممارسة شعائرك الدينية، وتوفير حاجات عائلتك وتعليم أولادك؛ وكان هذا هو الحال مع الغالبية العظمى من الناس. هل يجب أن يعاقب بشار عن الفظائع ضد المتظاهرين؟ بالتاكيد ولكن هذا على فرض أن لديك القدرة على فعل ذلك دون معاقبة السكان.

أما إذا لم تكن لديك هذه القدرة (وهو الحال) فلا تفعل شيئا، هذه حقيقة واقعك، أن تتحمل بصبر، وتعمل بأي طريقة ممكنة لتحقيق العدالة محاولا -في نفس الوقت- عدم جعل الوضع أسوأ.

سيكون هذا النهج متعقلا وإسلاميا كذلك. فريضة الجهاد، على حبنا لها، لا تتطلب منا الدعم اﻷعمى لأي وكل أشكال النضال العنيف ضد الأنظمة القمعية. فهي لا تتطلب منا أن نوقف التفكير العقلاني.

فكون المعارضة المسلحة لها ما يبررها من دوافع، فهذا لا يعني أنها دائما على الصواب

What was the worst case scenario in Syria if the opposition groups just decided to stop street protests after the initial crackdowns? Well, obviously, the worst case scenario was simply that things would remain as they were; and there would have been potential for incremental reforms over the long term

What was the worst case scenario if they had continued protests? There would have been increasingly brutal crackdowns, mass arrests, greater restrictions, and so on.

Compare either of these scenarios to what we have had over the last 5 years, what we have now, and what we can expect to have in Syria as a result of the war for generations to come. If you have a mind, and if you have a heart, and if Islamic understanding is present in your heart and mind, you must recognize that both alternative scenarios were infinitely better.

If you are unable or unwilling to admit that, then I am very sorry, but you have severe psychological problems and a serious thinking disorder, not merely ignorance about the religion, no, you are dangerously ill.

The regime’s crackdown against protesters was vicious and criminal, there is no question about that; it is a brutal authoritarian regime, just like many other regimes in the Arab world. But, generally speaking, if you were not active in political opposition, you were safe to live your life, practice your religion, provide for your family and educate your children; and that was the case with the vast majority of the people.

Should Bashar have been punished for the atrocities against protesters? Of course; assuming you had the capability to do that without punishing the entire population. If you did not have that capability (and you didn’t) then you do nothing, because that is just the reality of your situation. You bear patiently, and work in whatever way you can for justice while trying to avoid making the situation worse. That would be the sane approach, and that would be the Islamic approach.

The religious obligation of Jihad, and our love for it, does not require us to blindly support any and all violent struggles against oppressive regimes. It does not require us to suspend rational thought; and just because armed opposition may be justified, it is not always right.

سوريــا: بين اللوم والمسؤولية                         Syria: Blame and Responsibility

“سنتحمل جميعا مسئولية ما يحدث في حلب، وسيسألنا الله عنها فعلينا تجهيز الأجوبة، فكلنا نتحمل المسئولية!” 

رأينا الكثير من هذا النوع من المشاعر، وسنرى الكثير منها بعد. بالتأكيد، سيحاسبنا الله جميعا على كل المظالم التي نقف عليها شهودا. ولكن بطبيعة الحال، سيكون هذا وفقا لقدرة جهدنا الواقعية على التأثير فيها بشكل إيجابي. فمعظمنا لا يملك طائرات مقاتلة ولا بوارج ولا صواريخ أرض-جو. هل كان بإمكاننا الضغط على حكوماتنا للتدخل؟ ولكن ألم يقل مرددو مثل هذه الأقوال لنا من قبل أن الديمقراطية كفر؟ وأن حكوماتنا ضالعة بنفسها في حرب ضد الإسلام، ومن ثم فإن تعليق الآمال عليهم حرام وبلا فائدة على حد سواء؟

إذا كنت ستبدأ في توزيع اللوم، ألا ينبغي عليك أولا أن تطرح البدائل؟

من الواضح أن شيئًا ما يتم إغفاله في خضم هذه العواطف.

ماذا عن المساءلة والاستجواب، ومسؤولية أولئك الذين اختاروا أن يتورطوا في معركة لا يمكنهم الفوز بها؟ وأولئك الذين قرروا أن قضيتهم تستحق أن يموت في سبيلها من عداهم؟ وماذا عن أولئك المشجعين الإيديولوجيين الذين يتساوى لديهم رفض الحرب مع الكفر؟

الفكرة السيئة تظل فكرة سيئة. لا يحق لك الغضب لمجرد أن الواقع يرفض أن ينحني لك. فالعالم لن يرضخ لمطالبك لمجرد انك تتبني إيديولوجية لا تحترم الواقع. يمكنك الاعتقاد أنك وقضيتك تستحقان الدعم الإلهي، وأنك إذن سوف تخرج منتصرا بغض النظر عن الظروف وميزان القوى.

ولكن في نهاية المطاف، لا يعمل الله تبعًا لرغباتك. لا يمكنك تجاهل هزائم الأمة في التاريخ لمجرد أن هناك أمثلة تغلب المسلمون فيها على أعداء أكثر قوة. كما لا يمكنك تجاهل القواعد الأساسية المتعلقة بالاستراتيجية، والتقييم العقلاني للنتائج المحتملة وللواقعية الشاملة.

لمدة خمس سنوات، كلما أراد أحد أن يعبر عن الشكوك حول جدوى نصر عسكري للمتمردين وجدوى الكفاح المسلح في سوريا عمومًا. دائمًا ما كان الرد يأخذ الشكل الأيديولوجي فقط، لا العملي ولا المنطقي ولا الواقعي. بل في الواقع كانت العملانية والمنطقية والواقعية أعراض لضعف الإيمان. هذه إيديولوجية مفسدة في الأرض، وعلينا أن نوقف هذا.

لقد نال خالد بن الوليد لقب “سيف الله المسلول” بعد إنقاذ المجاهدين بتراجع تكتيكي أمام قوة ساحقة. وكان الجيش السوري دائما الطرف ذو القوة الساحقة في هذا الصراع، ومع إضافة الدعم الروسي، فأي مراقب موضوعي، وبالتأكيد أي شخص على الأرض، كان ينبغي أن يكون قادرا على استنتاج أن الاستمرار في الخيار العسكري بمثابة انتحار.

لقد كان تقسيم سوريا هدفًا غربيًا وإسرائيليًا منذ البداية، وأي أي شخص جاد كان يعرف ذلك؛ لم يكن مخفيا. بل تم التصريح به وتوضيحه وتوثيقه.

وهذه هي النتيجة الحتمية، وهذه هي النتيجة التي يمكن أن تفشل في توقعها فقط لو كنت أعمى بأوهام إيديولوجية مبالغ فيها. إذا لم يتم اللجوء الخيار المسلح في عام 2011، أو إذا كان قد تم التخلي عنه في أي مرحلة خلال السنوات الخمس الماضية، لكان ممكنًا تجنب هذه العواقب. فمن يتحمل مسؤولية ذلك؟

“Everyone will be accountable for Aleppo, everyone will be questioned. We are all responsible”.

We have seen, and will see a lot of this kind of sentiment. Surely, we will all be questioned by Allah for any injustices to which we are witness; but of course, this will be in accordance with our realistic ability to positively impact them.  Most of us do not own fighter jets, battleships or surface-to-air missiles.  Could we have pressured our governments to intervene?  But haven’t we been told by these same people that democracy is kufr, and that our governments are engaged on a war against Islam itself, so appealing to them is both haraam and futile? If you are going to distribute blame, shouldn’t you first recommend options?

And there is a conspicuous omission in this sentiment.

What about the accountability, questioning, and responsibility of those who chose to plunge into a fight they could never win, those who decided that their cause was worth other people dying for, and what about those who became such belligerent ideological cheerleaders that criticism of the war was equated to disbelief?

A bad idea is a bad idea; you are not entitled to indignation because reality refuses to bend over backwards for you.  Just because you happen to embrace a reality-free ideology, the world is not obliged to cater to it.  You can adopt the view that you and your cause deserve Divine support, and that you will thus be victorious regardless of the circumstances, and the balance of power; but at the end of the day, Allah is not your employee.  Because there are examples in history of the Muslims overcoming more powerful enemies, you don’t get to ignore the examples of defeat.  You don’t get to ignore the basic rules regarding strategy, rational assessments of likely outcomes, and overall realism.

For five years, whenever anyone would express skepticism about the feasibility of a rebel military victory and the viability of armed struggle in Syria generally; the rebuttal was always ideological, not practical, not logical, and not realistic. Indeed, practicality, logic and realism were condemned as symptomatic of weak faith.  This is ideology run amok, and we have to stop this.

Khalid bin Al-Waleed was given the name “Sword of Allah” after rescuing the Mujahideen with a tactical retreat from an overwhelmingly more powerful force.  The Syrian army has always been an overwhelmingly more powerful force in this conflict, and with the addition of Russian support, any objective observer, and certainly anyone on the ground, should have been able to conclude that continuing with the military option was suicidal.

The partitioning of Syria was a Western and Israeli objective from the beginning, any serious person knew that; it was not hidden; it was stated, articulated, and documented.  This is the outcome we will have, and it is the outcome you could only fail to expect if you were blinded by inflated ideological illusions.  If the armed option had not been taken in 2011, or if it had been abandoned at any point during the last 5 years, this could have been avoided. So who bears responsibility for that?

There is no such thing as a heartless “good cause”

(To be published in Arabic for Arabi21)

Walking in the streets of Istanbul, I am frequently greeted by strangers with “as-Salaamu ‘alaikum” as they pass.  If you go outside with small children, you very quickly realize that Turks assume a sense of collective responsibility for them.  You will never lose a mitten or a baby shoe, because inevitably someone will notice that it has been dropped, and either tell you, or bring it to you.  Exclamations of “masha’Allah” come from passersby as they dote over your babies, whether old men, women in flowing abayas, or girls in t-shirts and jeans.

I have lived in the Muslim world for a third of my life, and been in many Muslim countries, and I have never seen a society that is as fundamentally decent as Turkey.

Last night a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a stadium in Taksim, Istanbul, followed in less than a minute by a second blast; nearly 30 people were killed, and 166 injured.

Whenever something like this happens, I always find myself thinking about what both the victims and the perpetrator were doing a few hours before; they woke up, dressed, ate, talked to friends and family, laughed, noticed things, had thoughts, feelings. It does my head in. Someone they made smile in the morning was screaming about them a few hours later, weeping, praying for their safety.

And whoever carried out the attack; were there not hundreds of things permeating his senses that should have made him change his mind? Things that should have awakened his reason, his human compassion, his desire for another path in life?  How can you believe your “cause” is right (whatever it is), if you have to shut these things off in your heart and mind, or in the hearts and minds of your followers and supporters?  If you are right, why do you have to brainwash anyone and dehumanize them so much that they dehumanize others?

As of my writing this, no one has claimed responsibility for last night’s attack.  The usual suspects, of course, will be the PKK, Da’esh, or the radical communists.  They take turns knowingly or unknowingly serving the West’s agenda to destabilize Turkey.  They have proved to be incapable of noticing that these tactics have never positively benefited their own “causes”, and never will.

These groups, and I think, the West, have not understood the greatest lesson from the July 15th coup attempt.  The Turks assume a sense of collective responsibility for their society; just as they do for small children in the street.  Whatever differences some may have politically with the government, they are generally unified when it comes to the country’s stability.  Any opposition group should learn from this.

When any group resorts to dramatic acts of violence, it revels their weakness and their inability to convince anyone to support their objectives; it is an attempt to blast their way out of the margins, but it just marginalizes them even more.  If you want your cause to succeed, you cannot do it by a process of dehumanization.  You need to build connections between your group and the general public, not sever them.  Help them, don’t harm them.  Empathize, don’t dehumanize.  Don’t turn your group into cold-hearted, brainwashed automatons serving their leaders; but rather compassionate, intelligent servants of the community. And if you cannot do that without it detracting from your “cause”, then you should recognize that your “cause” is wrong.