Friday, November 17, 2006

Moderate Muslims???

A new report released yesterday by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, The Militant Ideology Atlas, says Finally, a word about “moderate” Muslims. The measure of moderation depends on what type of standard you use. If by “moderate” one means the renouncement of violence in the achievement of political goals, then the majority of Salafis are moderate. But if by “moderate” one means an acceptance of secularism, capitalism, democracy, gender equality, and a commitment to religious pluralism, then Salafis would be extremists on all counts. Then again, there are not many Muslim religious leaders in the Middle East that would qualify as moderates according to the second definition.

What this means is while only some of the Islamists want to kill to achieve their goal, the goal of most Muslims is not just to live in peace, practicing their religion, and willing to do so by whatever community standards exist in the country they are living in, they want to change the community standards to conform with what their religion calls for, and that is total subjigation of women, where a woman is not able to leave her home without a male relative escorting her, and covered from head to toe, and with practically no rights.
Until there are, the international community should focus on alienating Jihadis from the broader Salafi Movement. While it may be distasteful to work with non-violent Salafi leaders, they are best positioned to delegitimize Jihadi violence and monitor the activities of the more militant elements of their movement.

Dr. Rusty Shackleford blogged Most, but not all, Salaafi reject democracy out of hand. The participation of Salafi groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt should be seen in much the same way the the Nazis participated in German politics under the Weimar Republic--it is a means to an end.

Jihadis may be either subsets of Salafism or of Khomeinism. Al Qaeda is a Salafist jihad organization. Hizbollah are Khomeinists.

Which brings up a broader point about the roots of two very different problems that we face, and which are often mixed up.

a) The threat of violence from jihadis.
b) The threat of oppression from Islamists.

When we speak of a threat from Muslim quarters of the world, we are usually referring to the threat of violence by jihadis. The authors of this paper seem to suggest that this violence is inspired by Salaafism. But if Salaafism is the inspiration, how does one explain radical Shia jihadis who would reject Qutb (the philisophical founder of modern Saalafism)?

Lest we forget, it was the Khomeinist jihadis of Hezbollah that killed 220 American Marines, 18 sailors, and 3 soldiers in 1983.

Since both major branches of Islam have both Islamists and jihadis, then the inspiration must lie in Islam itself. At least, in Islam as it has been traditionally interpretted..... And if it is the case that Islam is the root of the problem, then the problem is much bigger than most are willing to admit. Because even if one rejects violence as the means to the end of Sharia law, isn't the end the real problem?.... And if the Taliban or the Iranian Mullahs are any example, then we have much to fear from all of political Islam, and not just the most radical aspects of it.

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