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UAE, a Discourse on ISIS
Sam Ghandchi
December 31, 2014

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai has just published an article about the way Islamic Fundamentalism in general and ISIS in particular has been dealt with in the region. The essay opens an interesting discourse on the topic.

The Intellectual Battle Against ISIS

He correctly notes that "we cannot extinguish the fires of fanaticism by force alone. The world must unite behind a holistic drive to discredit the ideology that gives extremists their power, and to restore hope and dignity to those whom they would recruit" and continues that beside the military action the "lasting peace requires three other ingredients: winning the battle of ideas; upgrading weak governance; and supporting grassroots human development."

Mr. Al Maktoum has powerfully emphasized the significance of intellectual battle, and not to sit back and expect the military to solve the problem of fanaticism in the Middle East, whether we are dealing with Al Qaeda, Taliban or ISIS. Also he eloquently explains the second and third ingredients of his solution. Thus I just focus on the first ingredient of his solution.

He notes that to win the battle of ideas, “The first is to counter malignant ideas with enlightened thinking, open minds, and an attitude of tolerance and acceptance. This approach arises from our Islamic religion, which calls for peace, honors life, values dignity, promotes human development, and directs us to do good to others."

If this is Mr. Al Maktoum's take of Islamic religion, then would these values be included in the laws of UAE, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries? For example, if Elton John was a UAE citizen, would he have been able to marry his boyfriend which he did last week in UK? I could ask similar questions about status of women too.

Sir Elton John marries his long-term partner

Moreover he continues that "only one thing can stop a suicidal youth who is ready to die for ISIS: a stronger ideology that guides him onto the right path and convinces him that God created us to improve our world, not to destroy it. We can look to our neighbors in Saudi Arabia for their great successes in de-radicalizing many young people through counseling centers and programs. In this battle of minds, it is thinkers and scientists of spiritual and intellectual stature among Muslims who are best placed to lead the charge."

Thus Mr. Al Maktoum is emphasizing the value of education in this battle of ideas. But to be able to do the above, one needs to promote secular education. Otherwise one interpretation of Islam will take charge and others will be alienated, the situation that has happened in the Islamic world during the last half century when secularism was implemented half-heartedly, whereas in the West, secular education was fully supported.

What is Secularism?

Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran

Iran Futurist Republic

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