For people who claim to represent Islam their ignorance of the Quran is telling. It seems that they do not know that the Book they claim to follow says clearly: ‘Whoever kills a single (innocent) human soul it is as though he has killed all of humanity.’ The language is unambiguous. It could have read: ‘Whoever kills a single Muslim soul…’ But it does not. Souls are souls regardless of what they believe. In Paris all of humanity was murdered one hundred and twenty seven times.

READ MORE: Going not-so green

Daish, or ISIL, or ISIS, call them what you may, invoke Islam but act in ways absolutely repugnant to the religion and to the vast majority of its followers. History is littered with examples of political movements who sanctified ruthlessness by aligning with one religion or the other. The cloak of religion is superb camouflage. Barbarity walks the street more confidently when decently clad.

So, if not religion, what is Daish about? The answer, as they say, is complicated. Despite being a recent phenomenon Daish is in fact only the most recent, and perhaps most virulent, eruption of the magma that seethes below the surface in the Middle East. The story begins with the creation of Israel - a foreign entity created on the ancestral lands of the Palestinians. It would have been too much to expect for the Arabs to have welcomed the creation of this state in their midst. But over time, the Arabs would have come to accept their new neighbours, providing that wisdom and restraint had prevailed on both sides. It didn’t.

Wars were fought. Israel occupied additional territory. The Palestinians, those that were not expelled, were squeezed into ever narrower slivers of land. Free people do not like to be imprisoned. And when they are, they react against their occupiers with whatever weapons they have. The occupier is forced to suppress the unrest with a heavy - sometimes heavier than necessary hand. The result is a self reinforcing cycle of violence.

When the sole arbiter of international legitimacy - the United Nations - is paralyzed by partiality and influence peddling, the oppressed, in desperation, resort to armed resistance. The first manifestation of such resistance was the Palestine Liberation Organization formed in 1964. To those who are willing to see things as they are it will be clear that a single line links the PLO, Hamas, Al Qaeda and Daish. They are all manifestations of the same phenomenon: The injustice done to the Palestinians and later to Arabs in general. Each manifestation more virulent than its predecessor.

When 9/11 happened very few asked: Why? Why would 19 educated, affluent young men with everything to live for take their own lives? And the few who did ask were quickly silenced on the grounds that seeking an answer would justify terrorism. Ostriches may not actually bury their heads in the sand when confronted with an unpleasant reality. But it seems Western leaders did something of the sort. The tragedy is that if the question had been allowed American’s response to the attack would have been very different.

It did not help of course that Mr. Bush Junior destroyed Afghanistan and then blundered into Iraq. This along with subsequent misadventures in Libya and Syria killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Carefully constructed security structures that kept a tight lid on violence of any kind were decimated. Once these states were destabilized the resulting security vacuum saw the emergence of long suppressed chimeras out to settle scores and seek revenge for decades of oppression and for the more recent and ongoing mass murder of innocent people.

So those who say that Daish is a creation of the West are not entirely wrong. A more accurate statement would be that had it not been for Western intervention in the Middle East, of which the Israeli state was the first outpost, Daish would not exist today.

Since the original event, many mini 9/11’s have occurred across the Western world. Every time there is the threat of more violent retribution. But this approach is not working. The attacks keep coming. Mr. Hollande has promised that “France will be merciless” in her response. It is time for him and other Western leaders to appreciate that more violence is not the solution. It will only beget more violence
Root causes need to be addressed. Israel must be obliged to abide by UN resolutions which call for it to return to the pre 1967 borders. The Palestinians must get their state. Interventions, occupations and aerial bombardment of Arab lands and Afghanistan by Western forces must stop. The Arabs and Muslims must settle their own problems themselves. A West’s role should be that of a neutral sensible arbiter, with diplomacy not force, as its main source of leverage.

This is a moment of extreme danger. Relations between the Muslim world and the West are balanced on a cliff edge. The storms that rage in the abyss below will engulf us all. What is needed, more than ever before is statesmanship, common sense, and restraint. And this must come from the leaders of the West who possess exclusively the power to change things. If they step up to their responsibility, Daish, bereft of a cause, will disappear into the harsh Middle Eastern deserts whence it emerged. If they do not, Daish may well prove to be the thin edge of the wedge.