Qanta-fying Islamism

IN the face of the frightening rise of ISIS and associated domestic radicalisation, as well as the recent conflict in Gaza, the views of Associate Professor Qanta Ahmed were received by the Sydney Jewish community as a refreshing perspective.

New-York based Ahmed – a prominent physician, academic, author and journalist – is a Muslim who has stood up and criticised Islamic extremism, and publicly declared her support for Israel.

Speaking in front of a capacity crowd at the B’nai B’rith Centre last Wednesday evening, Ahmed discussed Islam, and importantly, clarified the ways in which the religion diverges from Islamism.

“Islamism is not a religion; it’s a totalitarian political ideology which is very dangerously disguised as a religion, but can clearly be exposed as a man-made entity with 20th century roots,” Ahmed explained.

She added that Islamists do not tolerate any diversity in Muslim expression or identity.

Ahmed also talked about the ideology of political Islamism, in which Islam becomes the Islamic State. Other features include the stipulation that Jews are the chief enemy conspiring against Islam by pursuing a Jewish world order, and the evolution of classical jihad to terrorist jihadism.

Ahmed went on to address the Israel/Hamas conflict which has raged this year in Gaza, lamenting that the international media largely portrays Hamas as a legitimate social welfare structure.

She said one of the worst things to come out of this has been a rise in global anti-Semitism, catalysed by a number of factors. “I believe one of the factors is Islamism promotes a central principal being cosmic enmity of all things Jewish, Zionist, Israeli – all things to do with Jewry,” she said.

“All Palestinians are not Islamists, but Hamas is absolutely, avowedly Islamist in character. Its ambitions are Islamist, and its ambitions are declared extinction and annihilation of not only the State of Israel but Jewry in general.”

Ahmed was in Sydney and Melbourne as a guest of Hadassah Australia, and throughout her trip raising awareness of Project Rozana – an initiative launched last year in which partners including Hadassah Australia are seeking to improve medical services for Palestinians.

She enthused that this project is “an important vehicle to redress injustice” and exemplifies the sort of diversity, integration and unity which Islamism detests.

“[Project Rozana] gives the best possible answer to Islamist extremism in a way that no amount of diplomacy or other strategies could ever equal. It’s going to be serving humanity and changing all kinds of stereotypes,” she said.


Associate Professor Qanta Ahmed.

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