Standing up to the lethal volcano of fundamentalism

Octavia Nasr
Octavia Nasr

Octavia Nasr

By : Octavia Nasr

ISIS exposed an angry, hateful and lethal volcano brewing under the surface in many countries across continents.

Radical Islam is now a reality we all must reckon with, although many remain in denial of its growing threat, while others distance themselves from the culprits claiming they are un-Islamic. As we watch authorities in North America and Europe step up security of fear of attacks, we realize this enemy does not need to strike to scare; all it has to do is live on. Even if dormant, its threat is real.

The reality is staring us in the face and we still refuse to admit that something is fundamentally wrong with all systems. The result is a worldwide status quo where moderate voices are stifled or ignored while extreme voices bask in the freedoms afforded to them by liberal and open systems as well as the tyrannical systems where they were initially born.

The little freedom that is afforded to us outside of our nations and homelands is now threatened to disappear

Octavia Nasr

In the Arab world, archaic dictatorships hang on to power at any price despite a clear dissatisfaction by a large number of their constituents and despite the loud demand for reform of systems and infrastructures. Meantime, criticism of Islamic fundamentalism is considered criticism of the entire religion of Islam and therefore treated as a red line that no one can fathom crossing. The result is literally a deadly silence where shouts and protests are needed.

The little freedom that is afforded to us outside of our nations and homelands is now threatened to disappear. As we demand more freedoms and more independence from the various binding systems, others use the existing freedoms to spread their messages of hate and to recruit more disoriented youths into a bloodbath under a guise that does not make any sense to us.

Secret to success

This nonsensical reality should not be used as an excuse to dismiss the threat radical groups pose to all of us. Nor should the “non-Islamic” excuse be produced every time one is unable to speak up against fundamental Islam.

If we look at the prosperous traditionally Islamic nations in the world, we might find that the secret of their success is a clear separation of mosque and state. Can you for instance imagine a country like Indonesia, Malaysia or the United Arab Emirates treating non-Muslims as “infidels” and calling on them to convert or face death?

Let us stand up to all forms of fundamentalism before they are shoved down our throats more than it already is!


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.



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