When declaring war against radical Islam in response to the 9/11 bombings, president George W. Bush made the statement that “Islam is a religion of peace.”
His laudable intention was to distinguish between radical Islamic fundamentalists, law-abiding American Muslims and “moderate” Islamic states. But the reality is that the impact of radical Islam extends far beyond the identifiable jihadists.
The mantra is chanted mindlessly by the chattering classes and well-intentioned government officials, who delude themselves into believing that such an adamant denial of reality can somehow ease social tensions.
But regrettably, imbedding such a falsehood into public discourse relating to Islamic terror precludes any rational consideration of the root problem. It also empowers radical Islamists and enables them to more effectively intimidate moderate Muslims aspiring to achieve accommodation with the West.
It is misleading to describe any religion – Judaism, Christianity or Islam – as a force for peace. But to apply such a blithely generalized descriptive term to Islam as practiced in the 21st century is really like saying that pigs can fly.
History provides ample evidence of Christianity’s harsh treatment of ‘heretics,’ and its violence toward all other religions (for example, during the Crusades). By accusing Jews of the crime of deicide, Christianity also laid the foundations for the world’s oldest hatred, anti-Semitism. However, in the 21st century, the dominant interpretations and objectives of both mainstream Judaism and Christianity are unquestionably peaceful. Most Christians genuinely seek accommodation with other religions, and attempt to make amends for the anti-Semitism of their forbears.
Largely, this does not apply to Islam. Like all sacred books, the Koran is also open to many interpretations. But it is simply delusional to generalize that Islam as practiced today is a religion of peace, when it manifestly spawns terrorism and when so many of its practitioners reject the legitimacy of other religions.
From its inception, adhering to the precept in the Koran to “kill [unbelievers] wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out,” Islam has often conquered and subjugated non-Muslims. Many of its proponents are engaged in a continuous, global war with all nonbelievers (infidels), displaying particular contempt for Jews, who are referred to as “the descendants of apes and pigs.”
ANY APOSTASY, under in Islam’s Shari’a law, is a capital offense. Under Islamic jurisdiction, all non-Muslim religions are persecuted and frequently subjugated to extreme violence. This was borne out by recent massacres of Christians in Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sudan.
There are admittedly also moderate variants of Islamic thought, which require Muslims to obey the laws of the land and act justly. But other than when there is a direct threat to their own societies, it is rare to hear imams in Muslim countries condemning global Islamic excesses.
The pitifully few outspoken moderate elements among the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are primarily domiciled in democracies where Islam is a tolerated minority. But the ‘moderates’ appear to be a diminishing breed, and the radical voices are becoming shriller as they perceive a lack of will to confront them on the part of most Western governments. Regrettably, the search for moderate Islam has proven highly elusive. Even today among Western Islamic communities, numerous imams continue to promote violence and extremism. In the US, 15 percent of Muslims between 18 and 29 believe suicide bombings are justified. Many, like their kinsmen abroad, still believe that 9/11 was a Zionist-CIA conspiracy, and admire Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.
It is chilling to observe the offspring of Muslim immigrants and converts – including those benefitting from a Western education – transformed into suicide bombers and assassins. Most of these terrorists, including the 9/11 perpetrators, were nationals from “moderate” Saudi Arabia, or were infected by extremist Saudi Wahhabi educational streams exported to Western mosques.
It is a fact that, without exception, every Western society which has accepted large numbers of Muslim immigrants has been obliged to protect critics of this religion from assassination.
THESE TRUTHS are being suppressed by cowardly government leaders mistakenly believing that silence will grant them immunity from being targeted. They are supported by politically correct elites and leftist liberals, who have deluded themselves into believing they are combating ‘Islamophobia,’ ‘racism’ and ‘McCarthyism’ by denying the facts.
In this climate of denial, government spokesmen downplay Islamic domestic and international terrorist incidents. Even after the recent terror attack in Egypt which killed 21 and wounded more than 100 in a Coptic church, the instinctive response from the White House was to issue a statement referring to it as an incident involving Christian and Muslim casualties, diverting attention from the fact that this was yet another example of Islamic violence against Christians.
This attitude even overflows to taking appropriate security measures.
Whereas it is indisputable that the overwhelming majority of terrorists are radical Muslims, there is an unwillingness at airports to implement ‘racial profiling’ out of a truly absurd concern that this would be discriminatory or upset Muslim sensitivities. As a consequence, terrorists have far greater opportunities of evading detection and, in contrast to effective Israeli security procedures, enormous resources are needlessly directed against toward low-risk groups.
Interfaith dialogue is also frequently perverted. Too often, many of the Muslim groups – especially those engaged with Jewish groups – are still associated with or tolerate extremism. Sharing a platform with such bodies provides them with respectability, enabling them to further marginalize the few remaining genuine Muslim moderates who were not already intimidated.
IT IS not surprising that in the current climate of escalating violence, there is growing anger against Muslims in many Western communities. In addition to being outraged at the home-grown variety of Islamic terror confronting them, democratic citizens also object to the fact that whereas blasphemy and curses against Judaism or Christianity are tolerated, criticism of the prophet Muhammad or Islamic behavior invariably results in death threats.
But despite allegations of escalating Islamophobia, mosques and Muslim cemeteries are not desecrated like those of the Jews, and Muslims in Western countries face infinitely less violence than their Jewish counterparts. For example, in New York state in 2009, there were 251 hate crimes directed against Jews, but only 11 against Muslims.
It is significant that despite escalating Muslim extremist violence in Europe, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany is the only European leader to explicitly concede that multiculturalism has failed, and that new policies must be adopted to deal with minorities that refuse to integrate, and whose basic religious outlook is incompatible with Western democracy.
Western democratic leaders must come to their senses and recognize that the ongoing appeasement of or “engagement” with radical Islamic forces poses a real threat to the future of Western civilization.
This must also be taken into account in the context of the increasing popular turmoil erupting against autocratic Middle East governments, now focused on Egypt. To replace corrupt and despotic regime leaders with Islamic fundamentalist fanatics like those who direct Iran will certainly not improve anyone’s quality of life for the long-suffering citizens.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post