Reflections on Paris, Beirut, and the Russian Airliner

A Letter from Nader El-Bizri, Professor of the American University of Beirut to Fred Dallmayr, Co-Chairman, WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations”, November 14, 2015

Dear Fred,

These are very sad days of mourning for us all, but they also offer us in the midst of sorrow a lucid and concrete situational context to aspire for going even beyond the “dialogue” between civilisations in view of accentuating the fact that we all face the same threat and the same enemy. The savage attacks of ISIS in Paris yesterday were preceded the day before by the horrific violence of ISIS against innocent civilians in Beirut, and just a few days before by the senseless ISIS terrorist act against the Russian civilian airliner. Many other episodes of the brutality of ISIS were witnessed across Syria and Iraq, and in the MENA region, and not only against minorities, but also directed towards the vast bulk of Muslims, by blasting worshipers in mosques and mausoleums, beheadings, etc. ISIS worships the nihil even if it claims with deceit to be “Islamic”. The Godhead of ISIS carries the name “Allah” but is unlike what the Qur’anic “Beautiful Names of Allah” actually mean across the various denominations of Islam.

ISIS uses Islamic vocabulary without being Muslim in comportment, nor being identifiable in this with any historical form of Islam, even the radicalized ones, despite its self-proclaimed ‘Islamism’.  This is a monstrous modern cult of hate that needs to be faced collectively and globally, especially in the battlefields across the Fertile Crescent.  Its destructive ideology is abject in the filth and murder it brings against humanity and in the way it also defaces all the traditions in Islam.  Russia sensed the danger earlier than any other government internationally, and it is intervening where others miserably (or deliberately) failed.

It is hard to believe that the intelligence services in the USA and Western Europe could not see that all of this terror was heading our way globally.  Any ordinary learned individual would have sensed this coming.  When Iraq and then Syria have been radically destabilized and devastated by the new “World Order”, and civil wars continued and erupted through the creative chaos of the so-called “Arab Spring”, the ISIS barbarians took the chance to invade vast territories of the Fertile Crescent and stood at the gates of Europe.

Only Russia, with its regional Syrian-Lebanese-Iraqi-Iranian allies, and the Kurds, Syriac and other minorities are actually fighting ISIS now.  Other governments and factions involved in the Syrian conflict condemn the atrocities, conduct surgical bombings, but seem to turn a blind eye on the channelling of money, resources, and militants to ISIS, while also opposing and hindering the troops and groups that are actually fighting ISIS on the ground daily, and paying a heavy price in their lives and those they love. One would hope that the international negotiators and G20 will wake up to the horrific reality we all commonly face and that shared efforts on all levels would be seriously invested to overcome it.

Warmest regards from Beirut, a city in mourning under its own wounds and in solidarity with Paris, galvanized too with a resilient resolve to face the threat of the suicidal nihilists by affirming life abundantly and defending it despite all dangers!


One amongst many stories of innocent victims that fell everywhere in the past two days due to the senseless ISIS barbaric violence, whether in Beirut or Paris, was expressed in few heartbreaking words as uttered softly by a three-year-old moonfaced boy, orphaned and alone at a hospital in Beirut. This reduced me to tears last night.  The little boy appeared in the news globally, his name is Haidar Mustafa.  His mother Leila and his father Hussein died as they shielded him from the fire of the suicidal ISIS explosion, which erupted near them when they parked their car. The little boy was not aware that his young loving parents perished, and in a gentle voice from behind his facial wounds he said that there was a blast, fire and blood, and that he wanted to save his mum and dad whom he missed dearly and thought were still alive and injured in the family car.