Is ‘non-violent extremism’ the cause for terrorism?

It is clear that the vast majority of Muslims both ordinary and their leaders and clerics have been quick to condemn the attack at Charlie Hebdo weekly despite images poking fun at Prophet Muhammad infuriating the Muslim world.

Sunni Islam's most prestigious centre of learning Al-Azhar said "Islam denounces any violence".

The two masked gunmen who killed 12 people claimed to be on a mission to "avenge" its cartoons of Mohammed.

"This is a prophet that is revered by some two billion people... Is it moral to mock him?" prominent Iraqi preacher Ahmed al-Kubaisi told AFP, explaining the violent reaction of Muslims to cartoons of Mohammed.

"France is the mother of all freedoms, yet no one said this (depiction) is shameful," he said.

Outspoken former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said Charlie Hebdo had shown disrespect towards Islam on numerous occasions.

"Is there a need for them to ridicule Prophet Mohammed knowing that they are offending Muslims?" state news agency Bernama quoted him as saying.

"We respect their religion and they must respect our religion," he added.

There were however voices raised over the application of the seemingly inviolable principle of freedom of speech and expression.

Political director of The Huffington Post UK, Mehdi Hasan, was especially vocal.

He said that “[i]n the midst of all the post-Paris grief, hypocrisy and hyperbole abounds”.

He reminded: “None of us believes in an untrammelled right to free speech. We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn.”

He added: “I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend.”

While Deputy Editor of 5Pillars, Dilly Hussain, spoke of the alleged connection between the acts of these terrorists and this newly invented buzzword “non-violent extremism”.

He challenged the “perspective on extremism” that sought to “reject[] any link between foreign policy and radicalisation” while placing the blame squarely at the door of “puritanical” Islam as the main cause of radicalisation and non-violent extremism.

Hussain reminded that this link “could not remotely counter the arguments presented by numerous counter-terrorism experts and academics who refuted this link”.

He said that he had “attended a report launch at the House of Commons hosted by think tank Claystone entitled, 'A Decade Lost: Rethinking Radicalisation and Extremism', authored by counter terrorism expert Professor Arun Kundnani”.

This “ground breaking report” mentioned that “the UK government's counter terrorism Prevent strategy was specifically designed to target the Muslim community, whilst disregarding Britain's foreign policy as one of the main influences behind extremism and radicalisation”.

He concluded: “From an academic perspective, Professor Kundnani stated how 'radical' views were not prerequisites to violent extremism. He highlighted that academics and think tanks that had previously advocated this theory had retracted their position as the War on Terror developed, and admitted that foreign policy was the main instigator behind terrorism.”

These modernist Muslims and others who propose this link simply cannot brush such evidence, including said report authored by a revered non-Muslim academic, aside if they wish to prove their point evidentially.

Simplistic and emotive arguments should be rejected outright as unsubstantiated and subjective in nature.