Being Pro-Muslim in a Complicated World

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by Denis MacEoin for GatestoneInstitute.org – August 17, 2018 at 5:30 am

 Zuhdi Jasser (pictured) advocates separation of mosque and state and has spoken against the ideology of “political Islam” or Islamism.

No doubt those who ignore or cover up abuses such as beatings, female genital mutilation or general repression do so out of cultural sensitivity, deferring to traditionalist leaders and self-appointed representatives of various communities, including Muslim bodies. Their sensitivity, however, can end up gravely impairing the lives of literally hundreds of millions of Muslim women in allowing harmful practices to be perpetuated.

Genuine humanitarian concerns about injustice to Muslims, however, have been mingled with a political and religious attitude that condemns anyone who expresses even the mildest questioning of Islam — so much so, in fact, that many well-intentioned Western politicians, human rights advocates, church leaders and journalists have turned Islam into the one and only ideology that must never be criticized, and have called anyone who so much as comments on some of the precepts of Islam as “racist.”

The view that Islam should not be questioned, seems to have led to a lack of reciprocity: radical Islamic individuals and bodies are often permitted to preach hatred for the West in mosques, centres, and university campuses, but non-Muslims commenting on genuine concerns are frequently the objects of public abuse and even criminal prosecution.

What is needed are more organizations that stand out as pro-Muslim in support of bettering the lives of Muslims; many are often too fearful of retribution to speak out.

My, how the world changes. When, in late 1978, your humble correspondent presented the first translations into English of passages from Ayatollah Khomeini's book, Velayat-e Faqih (“Governance of the Jurist”), bought in Tehran in 1977, I knew the religious extremists would challenge the shah's rule, but I was certain they had no chance against his army, police, and security services.

I was wrong. In January 1979, the Islamic Revolution took place, and by April, Khomeini declared the foundation of an Islamic Republic headed by himself and, under him, a clerical regime.

In November of the same year, a young Muslim fundamentalist and his followers took control of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, thereby sparking a siege that lasted 15 days and led to possibly 1,000 deaths; intervention by a French counter-terrorism force; a series of executions, and a number of surviving rebels who would years later join the terrorist organization al-Qa'ida.

In December, just a month later, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. This sortie started a nine-year war that caused around a million civilian deaths. The term Mujahidin (Jihad fighters), became famous in the West, along with the concept of jihad. After Russia's withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the stage was set for the Taliban (students from religious seminaries), who took control of the country in 1996. The Afghan war against Russia also set the scene for Osama bin Laden's forming, in 1988, al-Qa'ida, which was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and led to the US invasion of Afghanistan as well as a multinational war that continues.

As widely documented, since 2001, parts of Europe and the United States have suffered waves of Islam-inspired terrorism; an international radical movement known as Islamic State (ISIS) has ravaged Iraq, Syria, Libya and beyond; a host of Muslim terror outfits have wreaked havoc in North Africa; countries such as Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have been destabilized, as well as parts of India and beyond; Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamic Jihad, have effectively destroyed all prospects of peace for Israel; waves of Muslim refugees have entered Europe, some of whom have made European cities more violent; Islamic anti-Semitism has forced thousands of Jews out of France; national governments have all but turned a blind eye to the ravages created by hard-line Muslims, often on one another, and so on.

Although of course most Muslims are peaceful, law-abiding, and most likely just hoping for better lives, it is hard not to see how the sheer quantity of this extraordinary wave of violence could spark apprehension about what to expect. After all, we have all gone from seeing people and property blown up, to shootings, stabbings, vehicular-rammings and, in parts of the West, increased sexual aggression. Many of these disruptions have unfortunately been coupled with the arrival in Europe and North America of millions of Muslims, many of whom, often after two or three generations, have not yet been comfortably assimilated in their host countries.

This apprehension has dark echoes down some 1,400 years in Europe, where, since the seventh century, wars have been fought against invading Islamic forces. Relatively recent jihads include the one launched against Britain, France and Russia by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, and against the Armenians and Greeks in Turkey.

After so many terror attacks in the name of Islam, a certain apprehension might not seem unreasonable.

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