A Muslim-Jewish call for human dignity

When Abu Sayaf, the financial head of ISIS, was killed in a US military strike in May 2015, a treasure trove of documents was found near his body, revealing horrific insight into the terrorist organization’s methodology.

Among these astonishing documents was an indignant fatwa decreed by ISIS regulating when and which sexual slaves could be raped. The trove also included a pamphlet entitled “Safety and Security Guidelines for Lone Wolf and Small Cells,” advising ISIS fighters how to avoid “enemy” security measures or detection while planning and executing attacks in the West — for the most part tips on how not to appear Muslim, such as steering clear of mosques, dressing as a Westerner and keeping a cleanly shaven face.

These are just a few behind-the-scenes indications of repugnant aggressions against the world and human dignity, by no means limited to sexual servitude against women, or terror attacks against Brussels or Paris.

They are also brutal examples of how a religion can be taken hostage by radical, as its moderate majority passively allows it to. Moderates prefer peaceful coexistence with their non-Muslim neighbors, while Jihadists seek to impose Sharia Law throughout the caliphate they wish to establish. These two kinds of Islam are impossible to reconcile. The means jihadists take to subjugate infidels in no way match the peaceful approach of moderate Muslims. For these jihadists, terrorism in the name of “holy war,” is necessary. And this war has gone global; the whole world is now a target.

ISIS is the largest and most immediate threat to the Western world, but it is by no means the only radical Islamist terrorist organization. Over the course of 2016 Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Abu Sayaf and Hezbollah have carried out attacks in Israel, India, Libya, Turkey, Iraq, Indonesia, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya and the Sinai Peninsula – along with dozens of other places on a list too long to name here. Yet for some reason, ISIS is the only threat garnering significant coverage from the media, as if readers have no moral interest in reading front page stories about horrors that don’t touch them directly.

Will we ever be able to rid the world of this sick hate indoctrination and the glorification of suicide bombers, of the radical obsession with murder as the path to “eternal life”? What kind of future will there be for mankind if new generations continue to learn violence and terrorism instead of tolerance, respect and coexistence with others, no matter their differences?

Our challenge as human beings is to win the battle against fanaticism, ideologies of hate, terrorism, decapitations, oppression of women, and other horrendous acts committed in the name of faith based on extremist holy doctrines.

The authors of this piece, a Muslim and a Jew, have decided that the time has come for us to take a step together toward winning this battle of good over evil. Our obvious religious and cultural differences notwithstanding, we wish to defy the historic friction between our peoples.

Together, we promote joint lectures in Costa Rican schools to discuss similarities of our peoples and to show how all of us, as human beings, can sympathy and coexist.  Together, we are also developing joint social responsibility projects, to demonstrate that Jews and Muslims can work together for the good of others.

Instead of importing our own country to the conflict in the Middle East, our goal is to export a message of peace. We refuse to be enemies in a world filled with adversity and hate.  We urge Jews and Muslims in other countries to take actions like these of their own, and prove just how successful we can be when we work with each other, rather than against each other.

We aspire to live in a world where human rights, equality and respect for the other and theirs beliefs are protected above all. We dream of the day that religions cease to be modified to fit certain extremist defiance of these fundamental human values, where selfish objectives and the ravenous dream for political and economic power no longer dictate how the masses must live their life.

Our common clamor is for the prevalence of the value of reason, freedom, democracy, limits to power, state of law, pluralism and, above all, protection of life and human dignity for all.

This piece was co-written with Hosam Said. Both Hosam Said and Eric Scharf are attorneys living in Costa Rica. Said is Egyptian-born and a member of the Costa Rican Muslim community. Scharf is a member of the Costa Rican Jewish community, and is part of the World Jewish Congress’ flagship program, the Jewish Diplomatic Corps.

About the Author
Eric Scarf is an attorney living in Costa Rica. He is a member of the Costa Rican Jewish community, and part of the World Jewish Congress’ flagship program, the Jewish Diplomatic Corps.