On last Saturday night, an Islamic State suicide bomber played havoc in Turkey in a virulent attack on the Kurdish wedding party near the country’s border with Syria. According to the latest news reports, the death toll from the Turkey attack has risen to 54 with more than 69 innocent people severely injured.
Worst of all, this attack was perpetrated by an Islamic State-linked minor bomber, a child only 12 to 14 years old, as the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his earliest remarks on Sunday also confirmed. Regrettably, almost half of the deceased are children. This is the most tragic part of this Turkey terror attack. Nearly 29 of the victims in the wedding attack have been identified as minors aged four to 13-year-olds. Such an obnoxious instance of the child assault has rarely been seen even in the previous Islamic State-inspired barbaric terrorist acts.
A recent Firstpost article explores how the terror outfits like Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Islamic Jihad and Hamas are promoting the concept of 'martyrdom' to school children and recruiting them as suicide bombers. The article has mentioned Brooke Goldstein, a human rights attorney, author and filmmaker, who says in an interview that,
Children are being picked up, literally, from the classroom and sent out with explosives in under 48 hours!
One wonders how the new-age young Muslim youth and even minor children are consciously or unconsciously being indoctrinated into a dangerous doctrine of violent jihadism. At this juncture, I am reminded of what an avowed Islamic State fighter, Abdullah the Belgian, once proclaimed:"This generation will fight the infidels and apostates… The right doctrine has been implanted in these children."
Scores of youths and children in Syria are being indoctrinated into this so-called “right doctrine”. This has been reported in detail in a documentary released by Vice News titled, “Grooming Children for Jihad". The documentary explores how gullible children with impressionable minds are being trained to kill those declared as kafirs (infidels). In order to indoctrinate children into this virulent doctrine, the Islamic State runs 'teaching vans' in war-torn areas. Once children are caught, they are brainwashed to join the Islamic State militants. They are trained to tread the path of violent jihad, which is taught to them as the path of Allah (fi sabeel lillah). But what helps jihadists best to lure the minor children into the violent jihadism is actually the doctrine of takfirism — declaring others infidel — which they believe as the “right doctrine”. Islamic State exhorts the brainwashed children to murder and maim the ‘infidels’ because they “kill Muslims”. This video shows the footage of the same ‘teaching van’ of the Islamic State travelling along the Euphrates River in Syria and radicalising the children.
The Islamic State's indoctrination of minor children was first exposed when an image showing the 7-year-old son of Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf holding up the severed head of a Syrian soldier went viral on social media. This upsetting image was posted on a Twitter account which was owned by the boy's father, Khaled Sharrouf, with the caption "That's my boy!”, as The Australian reported.
The above video clearly shows that the Islamic State preachers teach the children to kill “all of the infidels” (not only ‘non-Muslim infidels’ but also ‘Muslim infidels’), like the “infidels of the Europe” who live in secular and democratic countries, the un-Islamic nations. This is the murderous doctrine of Takfirism that prepares a minor child to engage in brainless violence. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) warned Muslims against the same dangerous ideology in his last sermon in Hajj. He said: "Do not revert to takfir after me by cutting the necks of one another."
Takfirism, or declaring each other Kafir, is of course not a monopoly of a particular sect in Islam. It is an ideological problem which is common to all Muslims — Sunnis and Shiites alike.
But when Takfirism turns into a violent wave, it creates much damage as an ideology of indiscriminate killing, wanton mayhem, and mindless atrocity.
This violent ideological extremism strikes all the essential principles of tolerance and plurality enshrined in Islam. Takfirists are hell-bent on imposing their beliefs upon everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims alike and declaring those who don’t follow them Kafir (infidel) or at least Munafiq (hypocrite). In their crazy bid to accord it an Islamic justification, they selectively apply verses of the Holy Qur'an and, thus, further their nefarious ends. But this actually goes completely against what the Qur'an exhorts in so many words. For instance, “there should be no compulsion in religion” (2:256); “religious pluralism is God’s will” (5:48); and that “Muslims have to believe in the revelations of all the prophets” (3:84).
Turkish Muslims, like the mainstream Muslims in all democratic and secular countries, were traditionally anchored in a mystical Islam and hence opposed to the violent practice of Takfirism. “God the omniscient and omnipresent cannot be confined to any one creed”, said Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, the great Turkish mystic highly revered in the country. But the Takfirism-inspired clergy infiltrating in Turkey began to declare people of other Islamic sects as “untrue and misguided Muslims” or “beyond the pale of Islam”. However, all these religious polemics were seen only on an ideological level, not in the combatant jihadists’ battle. But now Takfirism is seemingly taking its bloodthirsty incarnation in today’s Turkey. The latest terror strike in the country at the street wedding in the city of Gaziantep close to Syria is a lively evidence of that.
Ironically, the Turkish President Erdoğan, who himself said that the attack was "perpetrated by Daesh (Islamic State)" and that the bomber “aged 12-14" was IS-trained, is oblivious to this ideological factor. He continues to live in denial of the growing religious extremism in the grab of political Islam in the country. In fact, he too seems to be a motivated political Islamist leader who wants his own Islamic state. Erdogan has a political Islamist background, though he describes himself as a conservative democrat. Since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) ) came to power, religion has been used in the country in the most effective way to further the political ends. Therefore, his political agenda and ideals are often referred to as “Erdoganism”. Lamenting on Erdoganism in the post-secular Turkish state, Mustafa Akyol, the veteran Turkish journalist, wrote on 21 June:
“It is no secret that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “New Turkey,” which was hailed five years ago as the shining model of a Muslim democracy, now looks rather bleak. Turkey makes the news today not because of its domestic reforms and regional “soft power,” but because of its increasingly authoritarian regime and frequent terror attacks”.
The political Islamists are of the view of practising Islam as an ideology, not as a spiritual path, and ending up with the notion or creation of an Islamic state which ultimately seeks to eliminate the ideals of secularism and democracy. This holds true for all the political Islamist leaders — from Ibn Abdul Wahhab, the 18th century father of political Islam to Hassan al-Banna in 1949; from Sayyid Qutb in 1966, the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, to the founder-ideologue of Jamat-e-Islami in Indo-Pak, and Maulana Maududi, the Indian-origin Ahl-e-Hadithi political Islamist scholar and leader.
Given this historical perspective, caution is warranted on the Turkish support for the political Islamist movements like the Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood) and Rabita al-Alam al-Islami (The Muslim World League) – a pan-Islamist movement massively funded by the Saudi government to promote Wahhabism.
Given this, it is not difficult to see why the Turkish president lets this Takfirist ideology of Islam continue to spread in the country, which threatens the entire social stability at the local, national, and regional levels creating serious geopolitical dangers to the world at large. Instead of tackling the Takfirist problem head on, Erdoğan is playing a blame-game against the US-based scholar and interfaith dialogue activist, Fethullah Gülen, known for his moderate views on Islam. It is patently clear that Erdoğan is diverting the attention of the world governments from the real case by blaming Gülen and his civic, educational, and cultural bodies across the world, for the recent failed coup in Turkey.
Mohammad Behzad Fatmi, an Indian journalist and political commentator who has lived in Turkey for three years and worked at Mevlana (Rumi) University Konya, writes:
“It is not surprising to see the government accusing the Gülen movement for this coup attempt. Whenever it is in the government's interest to blame the Gulen movement for something, it does so. However, like other allegations, this too hardly seems to be holding the ground”.
The author is a scholar of Comparative Religion, Classical Arabic and Islamic sciences, cultural analyst and researcher in Media and Communication Studies. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org