SHAFAQNA – A rather disturbing white paper entitled Countering Violent Extremism: Scientific Methods & Strategies which was first published in 2011 resurfaced this February, labelling and associating the wear of the Muslim headscarf with “passive terrorism.”
The logic behind such madness is being flaunted by one Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a self-described former Islamic extremist and fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. Dr Hamid argues that terrorism as expressed in the phenomenon of “Islamic” radicalization is rooted in, “sexual deprivation.” Such deprivation he postulates manifests through the imposition of the headscarf onto women (hijab), an observance which ultimately implies “passive terrorism.” Of course such a theory is completely devoid of empirical evidence, let alone common sense.
Beyond the overt bias, and I would argue hypocritical political bigotry such a theory implies, Dr Hamid’s attack on the hijab falls within an Islamophobe narrative which Western politicians have fronted under the flag of national security.
Millions of women across the world wear a hijab – an overwhelming majority of them do so of their own volition, in accordance to their personal beliefs and sense of morality. Dr Hakim would have you believe that a woman’s modesty is somehow a tacit acceptance of the ideology of Takfir – the core belief upon which terrorism is expressed.
I suppose Dr Hakim failed to realise that Muslim women are far from alone in their modesty… women across the ages, and across faiths have covered their head. Are we to believe that those women were the harbingers of terrorism? Are we to believe that a simple piece of clothing can dictate a person’s method of thinking and political affiliation?
The white paper was reissued by the Air Force lab this past summer following President Obama’s announcement of a national counter-extremism strategy. This January, the revised copy was published online by the open source research website Public Intelligence. A preface for the revised report cites a summit convened by Obama on extremism as a reason for revisiting the subject, adding that “the wisdom contained in this paper collection is more relevant than ever.”
While some articles penned by various experts hold some merit, Dr Hakim’s theories border insanity – terrorism does not bear relation to religious dress. THAT would be essentially equate any religion to a form of terrorism … but then again it might be Dr Hakim’s intention.
A former radical now turned liberal, Dr Hakim suffers still from acute intolerance. Whether expressed through so-called Islamic radicalism, or liberalism, both concepts are joined in that they seek to impose their world view, rather than respect pluralism and diversity.
His ideas for combating terrorism include “addressing the factors underlying [sexual] deprivation” among young men, as well as “weakening the hijab phenomenon.” Dr Hamid further claims that, along with fundamentalist ideology, the “hijab contribute[s] to the idea of passive terrorism” and represents an implicit refusal to “speak against or actively resist terrorism.”
Hamid’s theory of radicalization states that terrorism stems from a lack of sexual activity among young men and that addressing this issue is key to reducing support for militant groups. “I believe young Muslims are motivated to join radical groups because of sexual deprivation,” he writes, claiming further that “addressing the factors causing deprivation in this life can interrupt the radicalization process and reduce the number of suicide attacks by jihadists.”
In an interview with the Intercept,Ingrid Mattson, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Western Ontario, said Hamid’s comments about the hijab are baffling. She pointed out that the garment is worn by an incredibly diverse array of women, including Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai, who was the subject of a Taliban assassination attempt after she campaigned for women’s rights in northwest Pakistan.
“Is hijab any Muslim woman’s headcover? Any style, any country? Because covering the head is very widely observed among Muslim women,” Mattson says. “There is no logic here. Is Malala, who wears a hijab and was shot by the Taliban, a terrorist? There is nothing, sadly, more banal than for powerful people to tell women to take their clothes off.”
The updated version of Countering Violent Extremism: Scientific Methods & Strategies includes a preface that credits Hamid with providing a “soup to nuts strategic plan” for combating radicalism that “addresses the components of the Islamist terrorism cycle at ideological, psychological, social, and economic levels.” The original version of the report was cited by the FBI in the development of its own anti-extremism strategy in 2014. Both the original and revised versions contain Hamid’s chapter on radicalization.
Hamid’s section ends with an unsettling argument for using harsh military force to fight terrorism, comparing it to the use of chemotherapy to fight cancer. “Nobody supports the intentional killing of innocent civilians,” he says, “but in war, as in medicine, good cells die when we treat bad ones. … It is unfair to blame the doctor for killing good cells.”
Hamid’s chapter “is no more than Islamophobic propaganda and should not have been included in any kind of government training material or published research,” Kundnani said.
There is trend it seems today in the US where reformed radicals have jumped onto the liberal bandwagon, trading their beard for political bigotry – same hate, different packaging.
There is something deeply disturbing in one man’s insistence to interfere with a woman’s manner of worship, and right to uphold God’s command.
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear therof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran 24:31).
By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna