Brussels attacks: The responsibility to counter jihadism lies with us Muslims

By Shamila Ghyas


This is a cross-post from The Nation


Another day, another blast. More innocent deaths.


At least 34 people were killed after explosions ripped through Brussels airport and metro station. With over a 100 injured, many critically; the toll number is expected to rise.

Eyewitnesses say that after hearing the loud boom, they were literally blown back by its force. There was a lot of blood in the elevators as ceilings started to collapse in the affected areas.

Just imagine you are at the airport perhaps in an immigration line, getting something to eat or browsing through the duty free and a blast occurs and you or your companion dies.  Just like that. Blown to pieces.

You were just a regular person trying to live your life with nothing to do with the terrorists or their reasons for wanting to kill you.

A sad reality but most of the Muslims worldwide immediately started wondering whether the culprits were Muslims while simultaneously dreading the answer, which they already knew in their hearts. Especially when the accounts of Arabic being spoken everywhere started coming in.

As always, the social media statuses started popping up about how bad this makes Islam look. That was their concern. Not the people dead. Just that it makes Islam look bad.

Followed right after by the escapists’ route, ‘Oh, they can’t be Muslims. Muslims don’t do this. Muslims don’t kill.’

As twisted as the terrorists are, as sickening is their literal and inaccurate interpretation of everything, they ARE Muslims.  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (the leader of ISIS) has a doctorate in Islamic studies for heaven’s sake!

To think that Muslims are incapable of doing bad things is simply closing your eyes to reality.

Security experts suggest that ISIS is responsible for the attack. It was to take revenge for the arrest of Salah Abdeslam (responsible for planning the French attacks).

Quite a number of ISIS supporters celebrated the tragic attacks on Twitter. Some of whom were not actively part of ISIS but just regular folks who believed what they were doing was right.

One wrote:

“The state will force you to reevaluate your ways a thousand times before you are emboldened to kill Muslims again, and know that Muslims now have a state to defend them.”

While another wrote:

“The group has time and time again issued statements that it will have no mercy in targeting those who are supporting the US and who are fighting against the group.”

Really? What about Turkey?

Why did the terrorists go and explode there?

What about Nigeria?

What does they have to do with all this?

And then the most favorite excuse of the apologists without openly agreeing to ISIS is, “You reap what you sow.” Again, what does Brussels have to do with the US attacking Iraq?

More attacks are expected in other European countries. Why? Aren’t they the ones taking in the Muslim refugees? Giving them shelter; a place to stay?

All this sounds more like, “Bite the hand that feeds you” than anything else.

The first step to be done is to admit these are Muslims.  They are. You can fight it but you cannot deny the truth.

The second step is to stop looking at others to blame: “Oh, but you did this, and your policy was this, this is why they are bombing you.”

No – they are excuses.

And no need to even bring in the counter attack, “What about Palestine?” Er, yes. What about it? It has absolutely nothing to do with these attacks.

“Islamophobia. Islamophobia” chants also need to go. This is just the easy way out if you ask me.

Don’t bring in Donald Trump and his bigotry either. We constantly blame him for stereotyping and that he wants to send Muslims away. What about us Pakistanis? What percentage of us constantly wants Afghans gone from Pakistan?

Be honest. It is a very large and disturbing number. We want to go to another country and be accepted as their citizens while, 30 years later, we are still not willing to accept those who came into our country as our own. We simply want them gone.

Also, if people like Trump are stereotyping, it has to be accepted that it is us Muslims ourselves who are responsible for it. This is an issue for all Muslims. We have to do something about it, instead of playing victim again and again on repeat.

We need to be the change. Condemn every terrorist attack. Not justify it. Or make excuses or look for holes in the ground to stick our heads in.

We can’t go to another country and act likes aliens for the rest of our lives. We need to integrate and act the way we want others to think we are like.

The responsibility lies with us. No one else.



Shamila Ghyas is a Pakistani fantasy fiction author and journalist who writes for various publications. Her main focus is on rights of women and minorities. Nutella-holic, music obsessed, and Superman’s alter ego. Find her at


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