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April 27, 2011

The Road to Peaceful Victory

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – It is incomprehensible to understand why someone would strap a bomb to their body and blow themselves to bits in the name of a religion and a god. It is also incomprehensible why someone would burn a religious book in Florida knowing it could endanger the lives of their countrymen overseas. They are the same people, just different places.


Written in old Arabic, the Qu’ran as scribed is incomprehensible to most people. For example, my sons name is Dzul but pronounced Zul, the D being silent. We elected to keep the D in deference to local culture.


Some people believe the Qu’ran should be followed and interpreted as handed down in the original text. They believe there must be an educated person who has studied the verses and can communicate them to others.


This person then has a following much like a preacher in the Christian church. Depending on the country, many of his followers are uneducated, poor and illiterate. Poverty swells the ranks of any movement that offers hope and a better life.


Because they cannot read the Qu’ran on their own, they believe the words of this leader as truth. They look to him to translate the meaning to them in their own language. In Afghanistan and Pakistan there are hundreds of dialects, many incomprehensible to each other.


The leader then twists the true meaning of the Qu’ran in order to obtain power. This could include political power over land, the conversion of others to his cause, or the desire to become rich. Most times it is all of them.


When you have a group of followers who believe in the leader, the only way to keep them united is to find an enemy. The current perceived enemies are Israel and the United States; Israel because they “stole” land from fellow Muslims and formed their own powerful country and the United States because they support Israel.


But, if those two entities were not there, then it would be something else as it has been for generations. Leaders will choose another enemy and another cause to wage war on the people they perceive will rob them of their power and sources of income. That’s why they call them warlords.


For example, very recently the Indonesian army and police arrested 19 terrorists who were plotting to bomb a church and a mosque. The church is horribly understandable as an enemy, but why a mosque? The mosque was probably governed by another leader whose version of the Qu’ran was different, but the aims are the same; the quest for domination, power and securing money over others. Therefore both were considered enemies. In fact, the Malaysian newspaper called the recipients of some of the bombs as “liberal Muslim figures.”


These groups are not a stable entity. They are very fluid. Followers may ebb and flow between other groups, one may dissolve and join with another as the leader is blown to bits or another group may form within a group and then break away. This is why it is so difficult to keep track of who is who in the terrorist world.


The answer to this dilemma is to pull out of both countries. Evacuating our troops and advisors removes a visible enemy, one that is perceived as occupiers and not liberators, one thought of as spreading Christianity and attacking Islam and one seen as supporters of the hated and despised Israel.


Our next mission should be the training of teachers to educate the masses in their own language. Basic skills must be taught such as reading and writing. Then, and only then, can the people read the Qu’ran for themselves and obtain the true meaning of this religion of peace.


As each teacher is returned to his or her village, he/she must be armed with ways to build a school, have books to distribute and a way to access the Internet. And he/she must be paid. All of these together will educate a new generation to believe in the peaceful message of the Qu’ran.


Will teachers be assassinated? Yes, Will schools be blown up? Yes. Will computers be sold to support terrorist groups? Yes. The people who are in power hate to empower their followers with knowledge and education because they may challenge their rule.


But these numbers will be small. Parents, like parents everywhere, want their children to have a better life and will step up and demand these actions be stopped. And they will.


It will take a generation or two, and the results will not be as spectacular as a drone missile bombing a group of “leaders;” but the results will be just as spectacular. Witness Tunisia and Egypt whose leaders could not withstand the revolution of educated youth standing up and forcing them out.


For articles about Borneo see Tom’s blog at He is also on FaceBook at Borneo Tom.


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