Moderate Muslims Hold the Key to the War Against Islamic Fascism

m-z-jasser-media-photo_010507For some time I’ve been meaning to highlight the work of M.  Zuhdi Jasser and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.  As their website describes, “AIFD was formed as an unmistakable expression of American liberty and freedom in an attempt to take back the faith of Islam from the demagoguery of the Islamo-fascists.”  Dr. Jasser is a Wisconsin-born Muslim of Syrian extraction, and a practicing physician in Arizona.

In a letter to the Washington Times this week, Dr. Jasser calls out the White House for its use of dangerous euphemisms:

According to John Brennan, head of the White House’s homeland security office, the war on terrorism is over. From now on, the administration will never use terms like “jihadists” and “global war” because doing so, as Mr. Brennan said, “risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve.” He insisted that the U.S. is at “war with al Qaeda” (“U.S. no longer at war with ‘terrorism’,” Page 1, Friday).

Could we be more blind? Acts of terror are rooted in the aspirations of Islamists to create an Islamic state and impose their version of Shariah law.

As a devout Muslim who, like many others across the world, is dedicated to fighting Islamism and its radical offshoots, I believe there is nothing more dangerous to our security in the long term than the leader of the free world remaining in categorical denial about the essence of this ever-so-real contest of ideas.

One of the first steps toward winning any war is correctly identifying the enemy.  The current enemy is not “terrorism,” any more than the enemy in World War II was the V-1 bomb.  And as Dr. Jasser goes on to point out, the enemy we face is broader than merely “al Qaeda.”

Some have argued that Islam itself is inherently incompatible with peace.  However, because of the very nature of Western Civilization, most of us are instinctively repelled by the idea that we are at war with “Islam.”

I prefer to believe that an Islamic Reformation — parallel to the wrenching changes Christianity experienced a few centuries ago — can rescue the world’s second-largest religion from its worst instincts.  Brave Muslims like Dr. Jasser are trying to lead the way.

Eloquent Economic Commentary from Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, my hero, sings the praises of open markets in a tightly edited, 6-minute video on the Templeton Foundation site, part of a series of discussions about “big questions” such as “Does the free market corrode moral character?

English is at least her fourth language — she was born in Saudi Arabia, came of age in Kenya, won election to Parliament in Holland, then fled to the United States in the face of Islamic death threats — and yet the 39-year-old Ali provides one of the most powerful descriptions of the virtues of capitalism that I’ve heard anywhere. A remarkable person.

Revisiting “What’s the Matter With Islam?”

Commenter McDaddyo caught me in a bit of bloggish sloppiness in my recent post titled “What’s the Matter With Islam?” In that post I quoted Phyllis Chesler:

Have the Princes of Saudi Arabia, the mullahs of Iran, the imams of Cairo, Baghdad, and London, the various Palestinian factions condemned the carnage? Did I miss it?

I missed it too.

Turns out I missed it because I didn’t look for it — I accepted without challenge a widespread meme. As McDaddyo noted in the comments:

You openly confess that you are not aware of Muslims condemning the violence by radicals. Yet such condemnations are easily found in three minutes via Google.

Oops. Multiple examples available. There’s even a useful compendium of Muslim condemnations of terrorism since the 9/11 attacks, although it’s not up to date. So I’ll eat some humble pie and apologize to the brave Muslims who have spoken out against terrorism.

I have to say, however, that I stand behind the rest of the post. In particular:

I want to make very clear what I am not saying here. I am not saying Muslims are inherently evil. I am not saying there are no good Muslims, or that Islam has nothing positive to offer humanity. I most certainly am not condoning random violence or discrimination against Muslims. Every individual Muslim on the planet is a child of God and a sinner, traits they share with me. I am eager to treat them as brothers and sisters if they will do the same.

What I am saying, and the reason I express these sentiments with some passion, is that it is dangerous to ignore the elephant in the room. We must stop hiding behind euphemisms like the “war on terror.” “Terror” is not the enemy, any more than V-1 bombs were the enemy in World War II. Terror is a weapon, and it’s being wielded against America and against civilization by theocrats and fascists who fly the flag of Islam.

Islam may not be the enemy, but the enemy is Islamic. It is not atheists or Buddhists or Quakers or Catholics or fundamentalist Christians who have committed virtually every major act of terrorism (except Oklahoma City) in the past three decades. From an earlier post:

Militant Islamists declared war on America in November 1979 by taking hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. This was followed by 1983 attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut; the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie in 1988; the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993; the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996; the simultaneous 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000; along with smaller atrocities too numerous to list.

And all of that is before 9/11. Since then there have been major attacks by Islamic terrorists in London, Madrid, Bali, Mumbai, the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as smaller attacks throughout the world.

You can find an extensive yet incomplete list of such attacks at I hesitated before linking to them, because they employ a gleefully mocking tone that I find distasteful. But they perform essential work by compiling and listing attacks large and small by Islamic terrorists — at this writing, more than 12,000 such attacks since 9/11. They are careful to distinguish between Islam and individual Muslims: “Don’t judge the Muslims that you know by Islam and don’t judge Islam by the Muslims that you know. ” But they make it clear, starting with the name of their site, that they consider Islam itself to be the root of the problem, and they document the dozens of verses of the Qur’an that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers.

I’ll close this by quoting a heroic Muslim, the author of Infidel, one of the most important books I’ve ever read. Ayaan Hirsi Ali escaped from a traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya to become a member of the Dutch Parliament. Her searing indictments of Islam and Islamic culture led to the 2004 murder of her filmmaker colleague Theo van Gogh, and she lives under armed guard.

She declares (p. 282) that Islam needs to undergo an Enlightenment similar to the process that purged Christian culture in Europe of the worst of its dogmatic excesses. Although she now rejects the faith of her childhood, she saves her harshest criticism for the culture into which it was born (p. 347-348, emphasis added):

I first encountered the full strength of Islam as a young child in Saudi Arabia… Saudi Arabia is the source of Islam and its quintessence. It is the place where the Muslim religion is practiced in its purest form, and it is the origin of much of the fundamentalist vision that has, in my lifetime, spread far beyond its borders. In Saudi Arabia, every breath, every step we took, was infused with concepts of purity or sinning, and with fear. Wishful thinking about the peaceful tolerance of Islam cannot interpret away this reality: hands are still cut off, women still stoned and enslaved, just as the Prophet Muhammad decided centuries ago.

The kind of thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia, and among the Muslim Brotherhood in Kenya and Somalia, is incompatible with human rights and liberal values. It preserves a feudal mind-set based on tribal concepts of honor and shame. It rests on self-deception, hypocrisy, and double standards. It relies on the technological advances of the West while pretending to ignore their origin in Western thinking. This mind-set makes the transition to modernity very painful for all who practice Islam.

It is always difficult to make the transition to a modern world. … Having made that journey, I know that one of those worlds is simply better than the other. Not because of its flashy gadgets, but fundamentally, because of its values. The message of this book, if it must have a message, is that we in the West would be wrong to prolong the pain of that transition unnecessarily, by elevating cultures full of bigotry and hatred toward women to the stature of respectable alternative ways of life.

America and the West face an implacable global enemy — an enemy motivated by a perverse ideology that inspires them to commit evil in the name of Allah and Muhammad. Any individual Muslim who observes Islam in a peaceful manner is entitled to respect. But we disregard the driving force behind the enemy at our peril.

To McDaddyo and others, if you feel I still overstate my case, I welcome your feedback in the comments.