'Terrorism a product of global injustice': Malaysia lecturer

PETALING JAYA - Terrorism is a product or response to the global injustice faced by Muslims worldwide, says International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Ahmad El-Muhammady.

The lecturer said there were Muslims who were drawn to the purported "call of jihad" after hearing about injustices in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

"They choose to fight extremism with extremism and terrorism with terrorism.

"That is how the Islamic State ideology was successfully spread because people in those affected countries were deprived of justice.

"They were willing to accept this extremist group that promises them justice," he said at a roundtable discussion titled "Extremism, Terrorism and Islam: Towards a Better Understanding of Issues" at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies here yesterday.

Ahmad, who has conducted interviews with about 50 terrorists since 2011 for a study, also warned that extremist thought in Malaysia could lead to extreme actions.

He gave the example of a recent case involving Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen who posted tweets which got him into hot water with the authorities.

"The situation could have escalated. It only takes one person to do it (act of terrorism)," he said.

"We are lucky because of we have not gone to that level of craziness. Our freedom is limited to other people's freedom. It is not absolute."

The International Movement for a Just World (JUST) president Dr Chandra Muzaffar, who also spoke at the event, said most cases of terrorism committed today were "reactive violence".

He said young Muslims, including from Malaysia, joined terrorist movements not only because of global injustices.

"It is also because of injustices within their own country such as corruption, abuse of power and the growing gap of the rich and the poor. These are the challenges in the Muslim world.

"In Malaysia, there are at least two challenges. I think we can do much better in terms of integrity as we have a problem of corruption. And the growing gap between the rich and the poor," he said.

Dr Chandra said these were the issues that fuelled the anger of Muslims, especially those in the lower income group to the point that they took the path of terrorism.

"They feel totally disenfranchised," he said.