In the last few days, the Muslim world has revealed its political working in the most tragic way. Bombs in Turkey killed scores. Bombs in India, placed by Muslims, killed scores more. Bombs in Iraq, exploded by women who killed themselves in the process, killed over 50, and wounded many more. Bombs have been set off in Algeria, probably by al-Qaeda now building a base in that country. Palestinians in Fatah exploded bombs in Gaza City, killing members of Hamas, its Palestinian rivals. Five bomb outrages within the space of a week, and the huge majority of the victims were Muslim, like the perpetrators. Also in the same week the Iranian authorities executed no less than 30 people, most of them young, and charged with crimes that cannot be verified.
It is tempting to say that this is all the doing of savage brutes, and that in the end everyone will turn on them. Undoubtedly those responsible for the killings are savage brutes, but they are also calculating, devious, secretive, long-term planners, excellent at recruiting simple people to run risks for them. These are no mean skills. In their way, then, these killers have a dreadful sort of intelligence. Their goal is power and they pursue it single-mindedly.
In civil societies, power is diffused through the checks and balances of institutions, and these Muslim killers would be seen as mere psychopaths. In Islamic society so far, institutions instead concentrate power in the hands of whoever can seize and hold it. So those in power kill to maintain their position, and those in opposition kill to take their place. These bombs and executions, then, are the equivalent in the Muslim world of no-confidence votes in a parliament. And just as a parliamentary vote determines the direction a society will move in, so does all this killing. Except that in the former case, the direction is onwards, in the latter case backwards, further and further backwards to degradation.