Friday, November 11, 2005

Reclaiming Islam

In the wake of the horrific Amman terrorist bombings, John Hinderaker of Powerline had the following observation:
The fathers of both bride and groom, at the far left and right, were murdered. The bride and groom were both wounded, but, thankfully, survived. The groom, Ashraf Mohamed al-Akhras, said from his hospital bed:
I lost my father and my father-in-law and I saw many other dead. This is a horrible crime. The world has to know this has nothing to do with Islam.

I understand his sentiment, but the fact is that this mass murder, like all the others committed by al Qaeda and like-minded groups, has everything to do with Islam. It is up to sane Muslims everywhere to reclaim their religion from the sadists and fanatics.

Reading this sort of thing, I'm always curious about what would constitute "reclaim[ing] their religion". What would persuade the rightie boys at Powerline that "sane Muslims" do not condone this sort of behavior?

Cue Daniel Drezner. He collects a series of articles regarding the aftermath of the bombings--and it looks like the "mainstream" Muslims are coming out pretty hard against terror. He links to this Washington Post editorial characterizing what he calls "a long string of reversals" for al-Qaeda:
Even as it has bloodied Iraq -- where two more suicide bombings were recorded yesterday -- support for violence and Islamic extremism has been declining elsewhere in the region. Two movements that pioneered suicide bombings, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories, have at least temporarily set aside violence and are focused on participating in democratic politics. An al Qaeda branch in Saudi Arabia has found little support, and most of its leaders have been captured or killed. In Lebanon this year, a popular revolution embraced a democratic agenda, and a grass-roots democratic movement has appeared in Egypt. The government most under siege in the region is not the Jordanian monarchy but the Baathist dictatorship of Syria, which has been a tactical ally of the Zarqawi network and the Iraqi insurgency.

Meanwhile, according to the Chicago Tribune:
The offshoot of Al Qaeda spearheading the anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq sought to defend its actions Thursday in the face of furious Arab protests in the streets of Jordan's capital over the hotel attacks that killed three suicide bombers and their 56 victims.

After first claiming responsibility for the Wednesday bombings of three hotels popular with Israelis and Westerners, Al Qaeda in Iraq later issued a second Internet statement that appeared to acknowledge that its tactics may have backfired and undermined any support the group enjoyed among the Jordanian population.
But most of those killed were Jordanians or other Arabs, and many of the thousands of residents who marched in protest Thursday spoke of an assault on their sense of security in this tightly run city, which had been spared the carnage of suicide bombings elsewhere in the Middle East and was considered an oasis of stability.

I'm not sure what Powerline wants besides personal statements of outrage, massive anti-terrorist protests, and a widespread fall in general support for Islamic extremism in the Muslim world.

The problem right now isn't convincing the Muslim rank-and-file that terrorism is immoral and wrong. That's a battle we've won. Our problem at the moment is two-fold. First, that Islamic extremist groups may have reached a critical mass already where they don't need mainstream support. After some period of time, Northern Ireland Catholics didn't need mainstream Catholic support to continue its reign of terror (nor did NI Protestants need mainline Protestant support for same). To indict the religion as a whole at that point would be asinine and unfair--though it is still a conflict fueled by religion, the moderates really can't be held responsible to "take back the faith" at some point.

Second, while Muslims are repudiating terrorism, that doesn't mean they're ready to trust the West. Right now, the Islamic view is that they are between the frying pan and the fire. They don't like the extremists, and they don't like us. That's an image gap problem--we have the burden to show to the Islamic world that our society is a model they should follow (or at least fuse with their own). Right now, we're just saying "reject terror, reject terror", and that's not enough. It's like the Republicans always say about Democrats: they can't just say that Republicans are awful; they must also offer concrete plans and proposals of their own. Well, we need to do the same for the Muslim world--not just say "boo terror," but also provide clear-cut benefits for choosing to join the global community and adopt liberal and progressive ideals. That's a project we're failing miserably at currently, and things like torture scandals and stripping accused terrorists of due process rights is not helping our case.

1 comment:

Captain USpace said...

Good one, it's in, thanks!

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never debate religion...