It is time for the world’s Muslims to take a stand
Posted by sanityinjection on December 3, 2008
I have many differences with Thomas Friedman, but I couldn’t agree more with his latest column in the New York Times regarding the reaction, or lack thereof, in the Muslim world to the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India:
Muslims around the world insist that it is not fair to lump them all in with terrorists when most are peaceful, law-abiding people. But if they wonder why they continue to be viewed with suspicion, it is because of the widespread half-heartedness among the Muslim community to combat terrorism and extremism from within.
To be sure, there are Muslim imams and other leaders who have spoken out against terrorism and condemned violence. What’s missing, though, is a coordinated effort within the Muslim Umma to stop the jihadis before they get started. In other words, Islamic terrorists don’t just spring up out of nowhere. They are nurtured by extremists preachers and madrassa schools, who fundraise and recruit in mainstream Muslim communities. Here’s a very small-scale example from a recent Muslim riot in Egypt against a Coptic Christian church:
“Muslims bought a parking lot across the street and started building a mosque — one of about five within a few blocks. It was from these mosques that the angry crowd rallied when word spread that the Copts were at prayer.” (http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=6383307)
I am sure there were plenty of peaceful Muslims at those mosques who did not attack the church. But how many of them made any attempt to dissuade their co-religionists from doing so? Islamic terrorism will only come to an end when those who fund, advocate, and perpetrate violence and hatred are publicly shunned by other Muslims.
This is no different than the responsibility of Israelis to condemn and discourage violent acts committed against Palestinians by fanatical Jewish settlers, or of Hindu political parties to condemn and discourage religious violence against Christians in India. If you don’t want to be blamed for something you’re not responsible for, all you have to do is speak out. Silence is tantamount to acceptance.
Let me use a different metaphor to illustrate the point. Let’s say a politician, any politician, we’ll use Barack Obama for name recognition, claims that he has my support, when in fact I do not support him. Of course he is wrong to make such a statement, but if I keep quiet and do not challenge that statement, it’s only reasonable that people will assume that I do in fact support him. Only if I speak up will anyone know that I do not endorse him.
Similarly, while it is wrong for the Islamic terrorists to claim that they are acting on behalf of true Islam, only by speaking out forcefully against them can Muslims show this to be untrue. One is reminded of Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous lament, that it was through the silent acceptance of the majority that a fanatical minority (the Nazis) was allowed to become so powerful that eventually even the majority was no longer safe from them. The numerous Muslims who have been killed by terrorist attacks are a sad verification of this truth.