Point-blank: Islamising the cause

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 21 May 2024

“That’s Hamas fighting in Gaza,” an Egyptian colleague told me.


“They’re a paramilitary arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. I will never forget what that group did to us.”

I responded that, like him, I opposed religious groups that cloak their political ends in a religious garb. However, I also opposed the Islamisation of the current conflict in Gaza. Israel is not targeting Hamas because it is an Islamist organisation but because it is a resistance movement. Israel is killing all Palestinians. It does not discriminate between Hamas members or its opponents, or between Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians. Its bunker buster bombs do not differentiate between mosque and church. This is not a religious war between Muslims and Jews. It is a war between an occupier who has stolen the land and a people seeking liberation and justice. This is a political aim in line with international law and humanitarian principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our positions on the war and its parties should be based on these laws and principles.

Hamas, in this conflict, is pursuing a national political agenda, namely, to defend the homeland and liberate the occupied territories. However, at the moment, which may come after the war, that Hamas switches to a religious agenda, I will be the first to oppose it.

From the outset of this war, Israel has attempted to make the war in Palestine a religious war as a way to rally Western support, casting itself as the spearhead of a crusade such as that Christian Europe waged against Islamic Jerusalem in the Middle Ages. So, Israel presents this as a war against “Islamist Hamas”. Unfortunately, some Arab media have also taken this line, reporting and commenting on Israel’s “war against Hamas,” when in fact what is unfolding is a genocidal war against the Palestinians, Muslims and Christians alike. Israel has also been trying to lure Iran into the war so as to portray it is a fight against “Islamic terrorism”.

Let us not forget that interview with Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum LBC in December, flatly denying there were churches in Gaza, forcing the show host to confront her with images of the churches, including one Israel had recently bombed with the people seeking shelter inside.

I told my interlocutor: Casting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an Islamist framework and stirring disputes with Hamas amidst the ongoing war only serves Israel. By dividing ranks, we are lending ourselves to the realisation of Israel’s aims.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 23 May, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Short link: