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“Jihadists are irreligious. The atrocities they commit are against the teachings of Allah”

Mark Weingard is a philanthropist whose fiancée was killed in the Bali bombings of 2002. Here he tells Southeast Asia Globe about the tragedy and how he narrowly escaped the grips of terrorism himself

Interview by Jemma Galvin

You were scheduled to have a meeting in the World Trade Centre on September 11 but were running late and therefore narrowly escaped the terrorist attacks of that day. How have the actions of terrorists such as Al Qaeda affected your view of the world and humanity since then?

Throughout history the human race has shown its ability to do great things, and its ability to commit atrocities. The events of September 11 were hardly something different to what has happened in the past, they were just more shocking due to the methodology. So it didn’t affect my view of humanity.

Your fiancée Annika Linden was killed in the Bali bombings. How did this affect your views on Indonesia, and perhaps on Islam?

Islam is going through its 1492 moment. Many religions have had their disciples commit atrocities in the name of religion, but out of religion also comes great teachings. The jihadists are irreligious. The atrocities they commit are against the teachings of Allah. Allah is good. Religions are good. Intolerance is evil. Man’s corruption of religious ideology is evil, not the teachings themselves.

How do you feel about the attackers now? Were their punishments just?

It has never crossed my mind. I only focus on the positive, not the terrorists. We combat terror with love and with understanding.

Given these past events and the recent ISIS developments (including Indonesians, Americans and Australians, among others, going to Syria to fight jihad), how do you think jihad and terrorism will affect the world in the future? Can there ever be a resolution to such conflicts?

I am not a politician. I never want to be one. I will stick to positive action to combat intolerance and show that humanity has an option – to accept all people, whatever their race, religion or creed..

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