Today there was a manager at the office who has recently spent a lot of time in Nigeria. The conversation turned to the situation in the northeast of the country. Boko Haram is overtaking more and more cities, leaving a trail of destruction. In April last year, there was the abduction of 276 schoolgirls, which led to the media campaign “Bring back our girls”. So far, nobody has managed to bring them back. This month a whole village was wiped out, with probably 2,000 people killed. Very little information is available; the Nigerian government has lost any control over the area.
It reminds me of the fact that most victims of Islamic terrorism are Muslims (between 82 and 97 percent in 2005–2011). And indirectly Islam also suffers under the terror. It is a vicious circle of fear of Islam, hatred against Muslims, radicalized youth, terror attacks, and more fear.
An institution that has taken a stand against Islamic extremism from the start is the Dar al-Ifta of Egypt. This is a fatwa issuing body with much authority in the Sunni world; the largest movement within Islam. If you take a look around on the website of the institute it is clear that there is no place for terrorism. For example, they published a book in which the ideology of IS is countered from the Quran. These are concrete actions to counter radicalization.
I totally agree with the article of Stevo Akkerman in Trouw (Je ne suis pas Charlie). People should have the freedom to ridicule God or Muhammad, but blasphemy is not one of my ideals. I think the way forward lies in mutual respect. In the Western media the voice of ordinary Muslims often drowns in the news about terrorism. This is how the idea takes hold that Islam is inherently violent. Dialogue is the only way to understand each other.