We've been in the news. In case you missed it, it seems my home town was the scene of the only local Islamic terrorist activity with actual casualties; the previous hopeful martyrs tried to set fire to the home of an artist noted for lack of artistic talent, but abundance of marketing talent, provided you work on the premise that all publicity is good publicity, but only managed to set fire to themselves. They also left a jacket with their ID at the scene, which shortlists them for Dimmest Assassins Ever. In much the same vein, the casualty in this case was the terrorist himself.
As Swedish thriller writer Jan Guillou pointed out, this is a very disappointing total if your livelihood is in one way or other dependent on terrorists being a real threat; as if they'd been only waiting for him to tell them so, security analysts started yelling that we ain't seen nothing yet, while the official reaction of right-wing populists Sverigedemokraterna was "Finally!", which gives them the dubious disctinction of being the only ones who approved of terrorism, apart from some Islamic extremists groups who perfunctorily praised the deed on their web sites; they seemed less than clear on who the bloke was, but then again, they'd claim responsibility for global warming if they could only figure out how to.
Does this, readers of this blog might ask at this point, have any bearing on writing whatsoever?
Well, partly it's only that I used to work just around the corner from where this bloke blew himself up. Actually, when I went out on the street to smoke, I'd nip around that corner if there was a cold wind from the north, so I've been standing in more or less that exact spot enjoying a cigarette a handful of times fifteen years ago. Not much to brag about, all thing considered.
But there's a story here revolving around a word. A word whikch we've heard a lot, but which few people seem to understand properly.
The meaning of this word isn't exactly "holy war", as we've been led to believe for the past few decades. It's better translated as "spiritual struggle". One of the meanings, certainly, is "holy war", and this is how Mr. al-Abdaly certainly used the term. But according to most modern Moslem scholars, the "holy war" can only be fought when the right to practice Islam is under threat. In Afghanistan it might be possible to argue the case, but to be invited to Swedish Christmas celebrations, as Mr. al-Abdaly lamented against, doesn't seem to fit the bill. (OK: said celebrations feature alcohol and pork. Lots of pork. Traditionally, an entire pig, not one gram of which was wasted. But that's hardly the same as refusing him the right to be a practising Moslem.)
Also, even provided that a Jihad in the war-like sense is going on, a soldier must, in order to be considered a Mujahid, follow a rather strict code of behaviour. First and foremost among the rules is the unconditional prohibition against killing women, children, or non-combatants.
This isn't esoteric footnotes, like the neverending arguments on the purity or lack thereof of various varieties of running water in the Talmud. This is basic stuff, right there in the Quran, undeniable by the faithful. Even providing for the fact that it was written in a day when war meant hand-to-hand combat, there is no way that a bomb can be aimed at anything but a military target.
Terrorism is fundamentally incompatible with Islam.
It's a powerful statement, and one which certain nutjob politicians might find too difficult to comprehend (see above). But it's true. Swedish imams even issued a fatwa to that effect.
And while I'm at it, racism is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity. There can be no such thing as a Christian racist, in the same way as there can not be a Christian atheist. Or, indeed, a Christian sexist.
Don't believe me?
Thank you, and goodnight.