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July 11, 2005

Great Editorial From London: Where Is The Gandhi of Islam?

It asks some of the hard questions. Gingerly. But I guess that's the only way you can ask the hard questions.

Worth reading in full, but here's a good run:

The most important question is for Muslims, and the authorities' attitude towards them. Embedded in modern government are too many advisers who believe in a quietist policy. To them, the most important thing is to avoid a "backlash" against Muslims. But the truth is that the backlash only threatens because the terror strikes. Mired in ignorance, our Government (let alone the Opposition) has little idea how to find the trends in Islam that could really improve the life of our country, and run with them.

It is only when you start thinking about what we are not getting from leaders of British Muslims, and indeed Muslim religious leadership throughout the world, that you start to see how much needs doing. The moderates are not pressed hard for anything more than a general condemnation of the extremists.

When did you last hear criticisms of named extremist groups and organisations by Muslim leaders, or support for their expulsion, imprisonment or extradition? How often do you see fatwas issued against suicide bombers and other terrorists, or statements by learned men declaring that people who commit such deeds will go to hell?

When do Muslim leaders and congregations insist that a particular imam leave his mosque because of the poison that he disseminates every Friday? When did a British Muslim last go after a Muslim who advocates or practises violence with anything like the zeal with which so many went after Salman Rushdie?

Why is not more stigma attached to the Muslims who are murdering other Muslims every day in Iraq and the Middle East?

What communal protection is offered to those Muslims who really are brave and confront Islamist violence, or the poor treatment of women, or call for democracy in the Middle East? How much do mainstream political parties with Muslim councillors and candidates really insist on their religious moderation and co-opt them to extrude the bad people lurking within their communities?

I understand and accept that there are many moderates among British Muslims, but I want to know why Britain gets so pitifully little to show for their moderation.

When a nation, a race, a political movement, a group of workers, the followers of a religion have legitimate grievances, there generally arises amongst them a champion who can command respect for his advocacy of peace, his willingness to fight without weapons and to win by moral authority. There may be many such grievances for Muslims in Britain, and in the West, but we are still waiting for the Gandhi or the Martin Luther King to give them the right voice.

I'll try to say something here. Gingerly.

Of course we don't want a backlash against Muslims, either here or in Britain. Or in Europe generally. Or anywhere.

But.

If it is incumbent upon the more rational non-Muslim voices to restrain their more easily excitable correligionists, such as to avert a backlash against Muslims, don't Muslims have the same, if not a greater, responsibility?

If I heard someone talking about fire-bombing a mosque, I'd report it to the police.

Many Muslims, I think, would not do the same with respect to someone talking about violence against non-Muslims. There is loyalty to fellow Muslims --- combined with a general soft sympathy for such talk, if not such action -- that precludes many Muslims from "turning on" a fellow Muslim, even one talking about arson or murder.

Let's say it: It is unacceptable for anyone to put misfounded religious or ethic loyalty above one's general duty as a human being to do what one can to avoid strive, maiming, arson and murder.

If the leaders -- both political and opinion -- in the non-Muslim world were not constantly making it clear that counter-terrorism against Muslims was unacceptable, there would in fact be more bloody-minded non-Muslims engaging in random acts of anti-Muslim terrrorism.

But our leaders do make that perfectly clear. There is no -- repeat, no -- undercurrent of opinion or thought among non-Muslims suggesting that a little payback is just jake. Our "clerics" do not hint at it, our elected leaders do not equivocate on the point, our opinion-shapers and even our populist rabble-rousers (like the Rev. Sharpton) do not make statements that could be taken as an endorsement or justification for harming Muslim civilians.

Is this the case in the Muslim world, particularly in Europe?

The answer is clearly no.

Granted, we non-Muslims must do what we can to avoid "backlash" against Muslims.

But it is even more crucial that responsible Muslims do what they can to avoid "backlash" against non-Muslims.

Muslims don't want a lot of dark talk of violence against Muslims. Will they comprehend that we non-Muslims find it equally unaccepable that so much dark talk of violence against non-Muslims is permitted in mosques?

Incidentally, so long as we're so concerned about "backlash" -- the anti-Christian anti-Jew anti-Hindu anti-"apostate Muslim" "backlash" seems to have a much greater bodycount than the alleged anti-Muslim "backlash."

It sure would be nice to see Muslims have 1% of the concern for the "backlash" against the non-Muslim world -- the world that is actually experiencing mass-butchery at the hands of Muslims -- as they do for the hypothetical, always-on-the-horizon-but-never-quite-arriving "backlash" against themselves.



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posted by Ace at 02:05 PM

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