After the Islamic State (ISIS) formed a “caliphate” in June and called upon Muslims across the world to swear loyalty to the militant organization, a Pew poll shows that most people living in Muslim majority countries are very concerned about the threat of Islamic extremism in their own nations.
It was found that out of the fourteen countries included in the survey, almost no one approved of banned groups such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Hezbollah and Hamas.
However, despite widespread concern, little has been done to actually prove that Muslim nations are against terrorism. There has been condemnation but no substantial measures have been taken – as yet – to fight extremists.
Take Saudi Arabia – one of the most important Islamic states in the world.
While there are rallies and protests being held against the ISIS in non-Muslim countries like Britain, Norway and the United States, almost no significant reaction has been recorded by the Muslims of Saudi Arabia.
And yes, the level of indifference on the official level is even worse because of the vested political, religious and strategic interests.
It has long been speculated that Saudi Arabia refrains from addressing extremism by groups such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabab because they follow Sunni Salafism – an ideology Saudi Arabia is rumored to have been sponsoring for five decades.
But of course these are but speculations and the government of the Gulf State has always denied any association with terrorists.
Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud – the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the U.K. wrote in The Guardian:
“The government of Saudi Arabia does not support or fund the murderers who have collected under the banner of the Islamic State. Their [extremists] ideology is not one that we recognize, or that would be recognized by the vast majority of Muslims around the world – whether they were Sunni or Shia.”
Now let’s consider Iran. It has undoubtedly been very vocal in its condemnation of all terrorist organizations and even pledged to send troops to Iraq to fight ISIS militants. But it still fails to make an impact because – apparently – the Iranian forces are also playing to their interests.
"Iraq is viewed as a vital priority in Iran's foreign policy in the region and they go to any length to protect this interest," said Roozbeh Miribrahimi, an independent Iranian expert based in New York in June.
Many have noted that a similar reaction from Iran was not received when the same insurgents were killing off people in Syria.
The Muslim world must realize that a united effort is essential if it wants to confine and defeat extremism.
Condemnation is not enough – not anymore.