With the death toll still rising from a series of cinema bombings in Bangladesh, many in the West are wondering why Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network or related jihadists might target theaters crowded with mostly Muslims.
Those observing the Islamic world closely have noticed in recent months a growing concern by Islamist hard-liners with the impact and popularity of movies from the West and from India.
In Afghanistan, for instance, where the Taliban once prohibited the showing of all such films, Islamist clergy are once again doing everything in their power to discourage attendance in such movie
Three months ago, the head of state-run television and radio issued instructions not to show Indian movies nor play Indian music – both popular among the Afghan populace.
Afghanistan’s deputy chief justice Fazel Ahmad Manawi has gone on record as saying any movies that violate Afghan culture and values should be banned outright.
”Any movie that undermines the morals of our society and mocks Afghan culture should not be aired through the state media. It makes no difference whether it is American movie or Indian,” he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
”We can’t put the whole society at risk to satisfy the lust of a few.”
Though Bangladesh is predominantly Muslim in population, most movies
shown in Bangladesh theaters are produced by the booming Indian film
industry, which makes more movies than Hollywood.
Generally, Islamists frown upon virtually all forms of pure entertainment – at least all that is not clearly uplifting of Muslim ideals.
In her new book about radical Islam, ”The Rage and the Pride,” Oriana Fallaci, writes: ”Don’t you see that all these Osama Bin Ladens consider themselves authorized to kill you and your children because you drink alcohol, because you don’t grow the long beard and refuse the chador or the burkah, because you go to the theater and
to the movies, because you love music and sing a song, because you dance and watch television, because you wear the miniskirt or the shorts, because on the beach and by the swimming pool you sunbathe almost naked or naked, because you make love when you want with whom you want, or because you don’t believe in God?”
The New York Times reported recently a new campaign is under way in Pakistan to discourage the western-style fascination with music, movies and pop culture.
”I urge the public-transport owners to stop playing music and movies during journeys,” said Pakistani Minister Muhammad Akram Durrani, in support of imposing stricter observance of Islam in buses, most of which are equipped with a television monitor and speakers.
While all of this could provide the justification in the jihadist’s mind for attacking Muslims in a theater, there is one other significant detail about the Bangladesh carnage that needs to be
understood: So far, no one has claimed responsibility.
If al-Qaida or some other jihadist group has indeed committed this series of atrocities, they may well blame them on others – perhaps the Jews, perhaps the CIA, perhaps India.
Many times throughout history, those responsible for acts of terrorism have instead blamed them on their enemies in an effort to enflame the passions of their constituencies.