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August 16, 2005

Only Nixon Can Go To China

While driving home last week on the Beltway, I heard something truly remarkable. Something that filled my heart with hope.

And since that time, I have heard nothing more about it. Not in the newspaper. Not on my television. Not on the radio. And when, at last, I typed several search terms into Google this morning, I was dismayed at how little I found. This is the only post I will write today, and it will remain at the top of my site for the next week. It is that important. And though you may disagree with what I am about to write, I hope you will read it carefully, and think about it, and even perhaps consider sending it to a friend, for I think it shameful that this is not getting more attention.

On July 28th, the North American Fiqh Council of Islam issued a fatwah against terrorism.

This is what we have been calling for since September 11th. Although some have criticized the language, and some have said it does not go far enough, if you read it I think you will be surprised at just how much it does say. And if you think anything like the way I do, you may well be angry. You may well wonder why the text of this fatwa is not front-page news all over America:

The Fiqh Council of North America wishes to reaffirm Islam's absolute condemnation of terrorism and religious extremism.

Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram – or forbidden - and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not "martyrs."

The Qur'an, Islam's revealed text, states: "Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind." (Qur'an, 5:32)

Prophet Muhammad said there is no excuse for committing unjust acts: "Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil." (Al-Tirmidhi)

God mandates moderation in faith and in all aspects of life when He states in the Qur'an: "We made you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind." (Qur'an, 2:143)

In another verse, God explains our duties as human beings when he says: "Let there arise from among you a band of people who invite to righteousness, and enjoin good and forbid evil." (Qur'an, 3:104)

Islam teaches us to act in a caring manner to all of God's creation. The Prophet Muhammad, who is described in the Qur'an as "a mercy to the worlds" said: "All creation is the family of God, and the person most beloved by God (is the one) who is kind and caring toward His family."

In the light of the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah we clearly and strongly state:

1. All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam.

2. It is haram for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence.

3. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.

We issue this fatwa following the guidance of our scripture, the Qur'an, and the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him. We urge all people to resolve all conflicts in just and peaceful manners.

We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism. We pray for the safety and security of our country, the United States, and its people. We pray for the safety and security of all inhabitants of our planet. We pray that interfaith harmony and cooperation prevail both in the United States and all around the globe.


Before going on, I would like you to listen to this interview with Muzammil Siddiqi, chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America. He says a number of very interesting things, among them:

- the fatwa applies outside North America, to any Muslim, who is forbidden to kill any civilian, even during time of war. The targetting of civilians is strictly forbidden by Muslim law. Acts of terror against civilians are forbidden, whether performed by individuals or states. He says even Palestinians are wrong to target cafes and buses containing civilian men, women, and children. This is truly a remarkable statement for a major Muslim leader to make. Why is it not in the news?

- a very interesting point: the conflation of "Islamic" and "terrorism" in the media is a big mistake, for it lends legitimacy and dignity to their acts in the minds of many Muslims. It can create sympathy for the terrorists by making them sound like one of them. He says, "do not call them 'Islamic terrorists'" - make them small - outsiders - so no one will feel sorry for them. Listen to his reasoning. It requires an open mind, but it is a very interesting point.

- he states unequivocally that Israelis have the right to live in peace and security in the Middle East

- he says Muslims living in Western nations must adapt, not adopt, to Western culture and respect the laws of their adopted nation. He says they teach that American Muslims are extremely lucky, for [I am paraphrasing here] "Though it allows many things God says we must not do, in the US, there is no law that tells Muslims they must do that which God says is forbidden. This is a very good thing for us."

Listening to the interview, I heard a man who is very passionate in his beliefs and a strong advocate for the rights of Muslims. But I also heard a man who, I think, is open to compromise. The American Jewish Congress responded cautiously, but I think, correctly to news of the fatwa:

Obviously any sincere condemnation of all forms of terrorism by bona fide religious leaders of the Muslim community would be a welcome development. So, we would like to be able to applaud the statement of the Fiqh Council without reservation. What troubles us, and leads to hesitancy, are reports that some of those involved in the issuance of the Fiqh Council statement have been past supporters or advocates for terrorism, causing skepticism over whether their statement can be taken at face value. On the other hand, because radicals play so dominant a role in the leadership of the Muslim community, if we insist in accepting only statements issued by those people with perfectly clean hands, there may be no one who holds a position of acknowledged leadership capable of issuing a statement that will be taken seriously by other Muslims.

Past statements by moderate Muslims condemning terrorism suffered from the deficiency that they had little impact, while statements by more-radical Muslims until now were ambiguous about whether acts of terrorism against Israel and Israelis were included in the condemnation. Ironically, because the current unequivocal statement comes from those with radical credentials it is likely to have far greater impact than past pronouncements in putting an end to the acceptability of terror. Essentially, "only Nixon can go to China."

Exactly. If anyone has cause to be skeptical here, it is Jewish leaders. But if they are willing to extend the benefit of the doubt I don't see how we can do any less. I was very disturbed to see many on the Right side of the blogosphere dismissing the fatwah as mere lip-service:

In fact, the fatwa is bogus. Nowhere does it condemn the Islamic extremism ideology that has spawned Islamic terrorism. It does not renounce nor even acknowledge the existence of an Islamic jihadist culture that has permeated mosques and young Muslims around the world. It does not renounce Jihad let alone admit that it has been used to justify Islamic terrorist acts. It does not condemn by name any Islamic group or leader. In short, it is a fake fatwa designed merely to deceive the American public into believing that these groups are moderate. In fact, officials of both organizations have been directly linked to and associated with Islamic terrorist groups and Islamic extremist organizations. One of them is an unindicted co-conspirator in a current terrorist case; another previous member was a financier to Al-Qaeda.

First let me address this:

Nowhere does it condemn the Islamic extremism ideology that has spawned Islamic terrorism.

Not true. Look at the text of the fatwah - it is quite clear on that point:

Islam strictly condemns religious extremism...There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism.

Prophet Muhammad said there is no excuse for committing unjust acts: "Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil." (Al-Tirmidhi)

Golden Rule, anyone? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Turn the other cheek? Return good for evil? Where have I heard that before? I know this will make people angry, but this is the plain meaning of these words, rendered in English. There is no wiggle room - the meaning is inescapable.

God mandates moderation in faith and in all aspects of life when He states in the Qur'an: "We made you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind." (Qur'an, 2:143)

By my reckoning, roughly 1/3 of the fatwah was devoted to renouncing extremism. And though the fatwah does not renounce jihad (war), it strictly forbids targeting of innocent civilians or any violence against civilians. This is huge. If you are fair, you will admit that even the United States is not ever going to issue a statement renouncing war.

Could the fatwah go farther? Of course. But it goes farther than anything that has come before and it speaks volumes. There is little use in complaining about the taste of the water when there is nothing else to drink. Had the London bombers followed this fatwah, that tragic day would never have come to pass.

Yes, a fatwah is only words, but words have meaning. Getting over 145 Muslim organizations to endorse this fatwah is not mere lip-service. This is how hearts and minds are changed - one step at a time. And we cannot have it both ways: condemning the Muslim community for not taking a public stand against terrorism and then dismissing them as hypocrites when they do.

What kind of message do we send to the Islamic community when they take such a step, and our media ignore it? Or worse, when we sneer at their efforts? After what just happened in London, can we afford to squander the goodwill of the Muslim families living in our midst?

I have argued before that we are in a war against radical Islam, which is not true Islam at all, but a perversion of that religion no different than that evil cancer which caused early Christians to persecute Jews and led to horrors like the Inquisition. No religion is immune to extemism within its midst, but that does not make the religion itself evil. As I have also argued, it was Christians who ended slavery. Judeo-Christian values and ideology form the basis for our culture and our modern jurisprudence: for the tolerance and openness enjoyed by Western civilization to this day. To blame Islam for the extremists in its midst is just as foolish an error as to blame modern Christians for the excesses of a few wingnuts on the fringes.

The important thing now is to make common cause with those moderates within the Muslim community who are taking a stand against violent extremism. This movement can be strengthened, or it can die for lack of oxygen. Listening to Siddiqi's interview, it is obvious that he was vastly heartened by his visit to the White House after September 11th - a visit that Bush was much criticized for, as I remember.

I am a Marine wife and the mother of a police officer. My husband was inside the Pentagon on September 11th, right around the corner from where that plane hit. Too close for comfort. My son patrols the streets of Arlington, VA, which scares me a bit when I hear news like the London attacks and he gets scrambled to help provide extra security for the Metro. Believe me, I am not insensitive to the number of our war dead, nor to the nature of the enemy we are fighting. Quite to the contrary: I have long argued that we must not be complacent. That we must not allow political correctness to keep us from enforcing appropriate security measures.

There is an old saying that is particularly applicable to this situation: trust, but verify. We do not have to be blindly trusting, but I think if we are blindly paranoid and petty, we lose what could be our most valuable ally in the War on Terror. Do not forget that third element of the fatwah:

It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.

Just think: if that had been in place on September 11th.

It is in place now. Do not allow hatred and prejudice to blind you to the first steps toward what could be a very useful partnership. And though I agree with this gentleman that more is needed, do not let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

CWCID: Michelle Malkin for the Counterterrorism link.

Posted by Cassandra at August 16, 2005 12:36 PM

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Comments

I agree that this is a positive development, and ought to be encouraged -- insofar as we can encourage it without lowering this group's credibility. In many of the circles we're trying to reach, "the US said it was good" is all they'd need to know to believe that this group was infiltrated by Jewish secret agents. Maybe we should condemn the statement officially in order to give it credibility. ;)

Fatwas are an interesting case, however. They are meant to be rulings of Islamic law, but in fact they have only the most dubious authority. Literally any Muslim can issue one, and so in cases where there are multiple fatwas, deciding which fatwa is correct is a matter of balancing credibilities of the scholars involved. There are, of course, many fatwas approving attacks on Americans and other civilians, on which these folks have been drawing for years.

To illustrate what I mean, I'd like to draw your attention to another set of fatwas, just issued in Indonesia. The subject of the fatwas isn't really important here -- what I want to look at is the process by which they influence, or fail to influence, Muslim behavior -- but for the record, it was a series of fatwas banning "liberal or secular" thought, setting restrictions on women, and similar things meant to purify the practice of Islam.

The Majelis Ulema Indonesia ("Indonesian Cleric's Council," or MUI) issued the eleven fatwas. MUI is named in the laws of Indonesia as having actual authority to issue definitive fatwas for Muslims living in that country. That's unusual -- normally there is no group that is set above others by law. As a result, MUI enjoys an obvious advantage not usually available to groups issuing fatwas.

(NB: the law that gives MUI that authority also makes clear that MUI's fatwas are not binding on anyone. Indonesia has a secular government. So, what the law says is: no religious figure can tell you what to do; but if you're choose to listen to religious groups, MUI is the one to listen to.)

In addition, MUI is composed of some of the most respected Islamic leaders in Indonesia. The leader, Dien Syamsuddin, is also the head of the Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Islamic group in Indonesia.

One would expect, then, that MUI's fatwas would go pretty much unchallenged -- at least among the majority of Muslims in Indonesia. But that has not proven to be true at all.

It wasn't just "liberal" Muslims -- such as Dr. Azyumardi Azra, mentioned -- who jumped on this. The fatwas were outright condemned by the head of the Nahdlatul Ulema (NU), which is the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia -- in fact, the largest in the world.

Meanwhile, radical organizations such as Majelis Mujahedeen Indonesia ("Indonesian Holy Warrior's Council," or MMI) and Hizb-ut Tahrir ("Party of Liberation," which you probably know of from their involvement in the recent London bombings) have been quick to jump in with their own statements, to lobby Muslims to support MUI's fatwas.

So, in theory, the fatwas are "rulings on Islamic law," which MUI has every right to issue, and which all Muslims should support. But in fact, even within Indonesia where MUI has statuatory authority and tremendous respect, it is really a question of politics and lobbying, with lots of room for what people would just personally like to believe.

So again -- the Canada thing is a positive development. It's good to see that Muslims are starting to think on these lines. I've also been encouraged by developments in the Muslim community in Australia. Insofar as we can, we should praise and be glad of these things.

But a fatwa isn't nearly as authoritative as it pretends to be, no matter who issues it. Even if we got the ten most important Muslim leaders on earth to issue a fatwa of this type, we'd still have a lot of fighting ahead.

What we have here is the 'end of the beginning,' though: the first real cracks in the glacier, the first signs that the ice is shifting worldwide. I think it's a very positive measure of effectiveness for the global war on terror, which is plainly starting to achieve its stated goals.

Posted by: Grim at August 14, 2005 10:37 AM

Cass, excellent post. And Grim's comment is pretty damned good too.

The point, I think, is that the West cannot defeat Islamic extremism, just as the West did not defeat communism. People who lived under communism abandoned it until it became untenable. Perhaps the West facilitated that abandonment by creating and defending safe havens, but in the end only the commies beat the commies.

So, only Muslims can defeat the jihadis. Given that the jihadis will exact reprisals against Muslims who cooperate with the police or the military to hunt them down, the average Muslim isn't going to risk retaliation unless he or she has an alternative worth fighting for. The plausible alternatives are moderate Islam and the Enlightenment value of popular sovereignty. Until recently, moderate Islam did not present itself, so the United States interposed popular sovereignty as the only alternative. That's a tall order in the Muslim world, where John Locke is not exactly required reading. Perhaps, if moderate Islam asserts itself, Muslims will start turning in the radicals in the back of the mosque without having to understand Locke and Jefferson.

We have to scratch where it itches, and we need an alternative if popular sovereignty does not grab the imagination of enough Muslims. A more assertive moderate Islam is therefore a very welcome development.

Posted by: TigerHawk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2005 10:57 AM

only Muslims can defeat the jihadis

Exactly. I think this is a movement that must be defeated from within: sapped until it collapses under the weight of its own excesses. I think in that way, Bush's tactic of exposing the ME to democracy and Western values is invaluable in that it makes them see the value of much that we offer: they learn to adopt what is of value to them while retaining their unique Muslim character and values. History shows Islam is capable of such.

They are not incapable of tolerance, but in a closed society it is easy for the more extreme elements to dominate.

And I agree that this does not have the force of law: Siddiqi makes that point also in his interview. But moral suasion has force as well, it also removes the moral justification for acts of terrorism, which is of great benefit when they go out to recruit.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 14, 2005 11:05 AM

Well...I'm not about to be as loquacious as some previous commenters, first and foremost because I am still of the "hunt & peck" school of typing, although I've been complimented before on how expeditiously I accomplish that.
(More "peck" than "hunt"; I know where the letters are)

Secondly, I see no reason to go over the same ground as they already have.

Anyway, this is most excellent news, so I shall follow your lead and post it on my blog as well.
(Giving credit where 'tis due, of course)

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: camojack at August 14, 2005 03:41 PM

Well, not to be contrarian, but if this is true, considering Nixon is dead there must not be a lot of travel into China these days.

Posted by: Pile On at August 14, 2005 04:27 PM

Pile darlin', I love you :)

Posted by: Cassandra at August 14, 2005 05:45 PM

Close, but no cigar. I am still NOT convinced the western Muslim community has a "grasp" on why we're so p.o.'ed.

There's something sinister that remains in their wording of the fatwah condemnation I can't quite put my finger on....but I don't smell love or impartiality in their "words" designed to comfort us.

Posted by: Frank at August 14, 2005 06:20 PM

I'll tell you what bothered me aobut this fatwa - it was only words.

Look at what they exhort the faithful to do (in the excerpts you posted: Cooperate if their cooperation is asked for and pray for things.

I read the fatwa a couple weeks ago, when it was issued and I don't recall reading a single place where it commanded, or even encouraged, Muslims to root out terrorists, actively turn in those who violate the fatwa to the authorities, or close their doors to those who practice terrorism.

There's a lot of passivity in that condemnation. I suppose I should be thankful that we have from them what we have, but, quite honestly, I'm not. It's been nearly four years since 9/11 and we in America have been practically begging Muslim authorities to get active in throwing out the terrorists among them. This s the best we get?

Nope. It may be a start, but it's a weak start and it's not nearly enough for me. It's high time that the Muslim community clean their own house or we're not going to to be left with any option but to do it for them.

Posted by: Jimmie at August 14, 2005 08:59 PM

At the risk of sounding patronizing (and I don't want to sound that way) let me say this: you don't have kids yet, do you?

Because the first thing you learn is that it is almost always better to make a less stringent rule that has a hope of being followed than a stricter one that will almost assuredly be ignored.

The first enhances your parental authority because it makes it easy for people to follow the rule and hence to submit to your wishes. Soon, following your rules becomes habit - defiance becomes almost unthinkable, if you only play your cards right.

The second undermines it because it an overly strict rule is certain to be defied. Once people defy one of your rules, you are seen as a weak leader.

Given that the Muslim council has no enforcement authority, they are wise not to insist on anything more. Incremental change, although slow, is inherently more stable and long-lasting. It provokes less of a back-lash in the long run.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 14, 2005 09:30 PM

Yeah, that is what my Mother told me when I had a daughter. She said if you say no to everything, pretty soon the child will tune you out. So she said, you gotta pick your no's.

Posted by: Pile On at August 14, 2005 10:33 PM

Sorry Cassandra, it might be a step in the right direction yes, but I'm a little skeptical, I keep finding stuff that is not very reassuring such as;

" A YouGov poll published in London's Daily Telegraph last month found that 32 per cent of British Muslims believed that "Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end". But men were far more likely than women to say this.

As well, the proportion of Muslim men who said they felt no loyalty to Britain (18 per cent) was more than three times higher than the proportion of women who said the same."

If the percentage of muslim men, not only wanting to bring our society to an end, but actually willing to tell the world about it is so high a few days after terror attacks in England, imagine how high it is the rest of the year.

And if that is true in England, it can only be true in the USA.

Scary...

Posted by: Friend of USA at August 14, 2005 10:33 PM

I saw this a couple of days ago, I think at Benador, but until I can actually see evidence, tangible evidence, that something is different in this "fatwa against fatwas" then I`m going to consider it just another bit of lip service.
A ruse to keep everybody happy.
Things like this have happened before and come to nothing, so I`m going to insist they put their money where their mouths are this time.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at August 14, 2005 11:01 PM

Yes, ultimately insurgency warfare is a hearts and minds battle.

You may be interested in my blog on insurgency warfare and the war in Iraq, the WOT and other things. I've got a number of articles on there about hearts and minds.

http://organicwarfare.blogspot.com

If you like it, link it. I'll be linking to this one.

Posted by: Jeremiah at August 15, 2005 01:37 AM

And if that is true in England, it can only be true in the USA...

Interesting analogy.

Support for the WOT in the UK has never been high. Why would you assume you can apply poll results from a European country to the USA?

If you polled non-Muslims about their support for the WOT, would you assume that you could apply those numbers to non-Muslims in the US?

Why assume all Muslims think alike? Or that their conception of "Western society" is not linked to conditions in England? Wouldn't it have to be, by definition?

And joatmoaf, no one suggested this was the definitive be-all and end-all - just a beginning. A promising sign.

And I stand by that. It is a promising sign, when a major group of Muslims goes AGAINST what the rest of the world has been doing and comes out AGAINST terrorism.

Let's not forget that even the UN hasn't been able to condemn terrorism. This guy went farther than anyone I've heard - he was willing to say certain acts are CATEGORICALLY WRONG, NO MATTER WHAT.

To us, that seems obvious, but to many in the Muslim world this is a fairly revolutionary statement because of the extremism that has been holding sway for so long. They are taking a brave stand - let's not forget there are a lot of crazies out there who won't be thrilled about this. If you think they didn't contemplate that before issuing this fatwa, you're being naive.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2005 04:33 AM

Cassandra, actually I do have kids. Two of them.

The children analogy doesn't fly with me. Muslims clerics have absolute religious power. Any cleric may issue a fatwa and it is religiously binding to his followers. Thus, any declaration this council may make is binding upon those it represents.

Religion isn't like child-rearing. You are allowed to make absolute rules and expect them to be obeyed absolutely. That's the perq you get being the direct representative of Allah (or God or whomever).

That being said...four years? I'm sorry, Cassandra. Muslims get no cookie from me for doing something last month they should have done on 9/12. Just like you wouldn't heap praise upon your child if yesterday he picked up a few shirts on the floor of the bedroom you asked - nay, demanded - that he clean thoroughly in 2002.

Posted by: Jimmie at August 15, 2005 10:17 AM

ARgh - dumb me for thinking this after I posted the last comment.

The other reason this doesn't fly with me is that I'm not inclined to give Muslims the room to make incremental rules when it comes to blowing people up and more than I'd give my son or daughter incremental rules when it comes to throwing steak knives at other kids.

There are places where incremental rules is all well and good. This just isn't one of them.

I'm just not inclined to pat the council on the back for saying "Killing civilians is bad, mmmmmkay" today. They don't get much credit from me at all. I understand why you do, but I just can't get into rooting them on. All I can think is "It's about freaking time! Now where's the rest of the fatwa".

Posted by: Jimmie at August 15, 2005 10:22 AM

Religion isn't like child-rearing. You are allowed to make absolute rules and expect them to be obeyed absolutely.

Actually, the analogy lacks something, Jimmie.

The Pope, for instance, has direct authority over his followers because (at least in theory) he can excommunicate them.

This dude cannot excommunicate a Muslim outside North America - Islam is not set up along strict authoritarian lines, as Grim pointed out. Fatwas can be issued by any religious leader, so they are by nature more directive in nature.

And I think you guys are misstating what I said anyway. I'm not saying, "isn't it wonderful they finally said 'don't kill people'?

My point was, "It's pretty damned hypocritical and counterproductive to bitch and moan about Muslim leaders not condemning terrorism, and then when they finally do, to say: well, I refuse to believe them anyway".

You can't have it both ways, and you have to start somewhere. If no one ever reaches out a hand, even if it's not in 100% trust, then we never get anywhere. Even if I'm willing to grant that some of the leaders aren't serious (and I am) are you willing to grant that some of their followers just MIGHT be? That they might be people of good will? So even if some of the leaders aren't honest (and when in politics is that EVER the case?), their words may do good, in the end. Gestures matter.

I suppose we can all sit around and whine about how things could be better, but the fact of the matter is that this represents progress. And we can be perfect shits about it and turn up our noses (in which case, who can blame the more moderate among the Muslim population for saying, "You see, they were never serious about working with us anyway?") or we can at least meet them a quarter of the way.

This is how peace starts to happen. No one side entirely trusts the other, but if people can't learn to set aside their knee-jerk reactions long enough to at least try, there is NO chance of things ever getting better. The Muslim population of America is NOT throwing steak knives at you. Nor, demonstrably, are they hiding terrorists up their burkhas.

And their leadership have just come out and said they won't excuse anyone who does. Personally, given where my husband was on 9.11, and where he still goes to work every single freaking day, I'm all in favor of that kind of thinking.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2005 10:38 AM

AND, regardless of how anyone "feels" about this fatwa, IS IT NOT NEWS?

Can anyone explain to me why it is missing from our newspapers? Seems to me this is much more "newsworthy" than Cindy Sheehan camping out on President Bush's lawn.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2005 10:41 AM

How old are your kids? :)

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2005 10:53 AM

Cass, if you're looking for small glimmers of hope, Dean has had several posts about a group called "Free Muslim Coalition/Society".

They're a small voice crying out in an ocean of hate, but at least they're crying out.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at August 15, 2005 11:26 AM

Thank you, Menace.

I think there are a lot more moderate voices than we get to hear about, but in life they are always drowned out by the big mouths.

And we forget that as many of us as the terrorists have killed, they have killed many, many more moderate Muslims, worldwide. In Iraq, those who side with us are killed all the time. They risk much by siding with us. But we give them no credit when they do so.

Moderate Muslims in New Jersey have been killed for taking a stand against the extremists. It gets little press. I don't understand why.

If we don't support them, how can we expect them to do the right thing?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2005 11:51 AM

9/11 did not happen in England; the hatred was directed at the US not England.

The USS Coles, the many US embassies all those terror acts that have happened in the last 30 or 40 years were done against the US by extremist muslims; very little was ever done against England.

England helped the US but did not lead war in Afghanistan nor Irak; England is seen as a puppet, the US's dog in a leash.

Half the planet is blaming Bush and the USA for every thing bad on this planet, England is only occasionnaly mentionned; the hatred is 99% towards the US, not England.

England is not blamed for supporting Israel, the US is.

Anti-americanism has become part of everyone's vocabulary, not anti-Britishism or what ever it would be called.

England is the most muslim-tolerant of all non-muslim country; But one out of three muslim men still hates England, and one out of five feels no loyalty towards that most tolerant nation.

And I could go on and on.

With all I know, it is impossible for me to think for a second that muslims living in the US feel better about western society than muslims living in England.

Impossible.

Posted by: Friend of USA at August 15, 2005 12:04 PM

This is from a poll of American Muslims, FofUSA:

The majority (54%) do not consider America an immoral society.

· Seventy percent immigrant Muslims does not agree that America is an immoral society, though, U.S. born Muslims (49%) and African American Muslims (57%) {my note - a sub-section of the previous group} are at odds with the morality of American society.

President Bush earns an overall 58% approval rating from American Muslims on his handling of the terrorist attacks on September 11. Also, two-thirds (66%) agree with the Bush administration’s assertion that the war is being fought against terrorism, not Islam.

Bukhari found one of the surprising aspects of the study was, “the eagerness of the American Muslim community to take part in the American political system despite the fact that 52 percent stated that they experienced acts of discrimination after Sept. 11.” Also notable was Muslims’ “balanced point of view” in their general acceptance of President Bush’s statement that this war is against terrorism and not Islam, he said.

With regard to foreign policy, 84 percent thought the U.S. should support a Palestinian state, and 70 percent felt the U.S. should reduce its financial support to Israel. About six in ten also thought the U.S. should cut back support for Muslim governments that were not democratic.

Interesting, no?


Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2005 12:38 PM

About to be 5 and 4. :)

I agree with your point fundamentally, Cassandra (and I think I even posted something similar to that when the fatwa came out). I just don't share the enthusiasm I'm getting from you.

Yeah, I'm glad that an American Muslim group has decided to come out and say that blowing up civilians is a bad thing. I think it stinks to high heaven that they couldn't bother to do this four years ago. I'm kind of surprised that they'd have to say "if the authorities ask for your help, help them" because, you know, they're Americans and it's their freaking job to do that. I'm a little non-plussed that an American Muslim group speaking to Americans had to say "blowing up kids is bad" because...well...that's the kind of thing that seems pretty obvious. But hey, if in forty years or so they get around to "squeal on the guys who want to blow up babies because that's your duty not only as a Muslim but an American", then great.

I do wonder, though, about something you said in your comments. For what, exactly, do American Muslims distrust us? I can't recall the Great Muslims Roundup and Lynching Party happening on 9/12. I haven't seen the Great American Muslim Shunning in the past few years. In fact, I've seen America be so open and sensitive to the needs and desires of American Muslims that we're willing compromise our own safety just to make sure we don't dent their collective self-esteem. I see our government jump every time CAIR squeaks. Meanwhile, Muslims managed to turn 3000 people to pulverized ash and we're supposed to be happy that they finally got around to saying that was bad? They have a lot more trust to build up and they owe the rest of us a whole lot more tham they've given.

Is it a first step? Yeah, maybe. I just can't manage much enthusiasm over it. At the pace they're going, I might see something substantive from them before I die of old age.

Posted by: Jimmie at August 15, 2005 12:43 PM

Argh - Again it happens.

Look, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I don't believe what they're saying. I do believe it. I just thinkg it's a small drop in a big bucket and I'm critical that, given all the time they've had to ponder this, that's the best they could do. I'm skeptical about them and I think I have good reason to be so.

So immigrant Muslims largely believe that America's a good place to live? I'm rather distressed about the 30 percent who believe that it's not, but live here anyhow. Look, I'm a big believer that you ought to love the country in which you live with all your heart and soul. I think that if you immigrate here, you ought to be damned certain that you're going to throw yourself into unabashed support of your new nation, else don't come here at all. I'm glad that number is up to 70 percent. It ought to be much higher.

Posted by: Jimmie at August 15, 2005 12:49 PM

"The majority (54%) do not consider America an immoral society. "

Cassandra that means that 46 % believe it is an immoral society or 14% more than Muslims in England.

" Seventy percent immigrant Muslims does not agree that America is an immoral society, though, U.S. born Muslims (49%) and African American Muslims (57%) {my note - a sub-section of the previous group} are at odds with the morality of American society "

Well... " U.S. born Muslims (49%) and African American Muslims (57%)"
are still higher percentages than in England.

It seems I was right in my " extrapolation " of sort.

Posted by: Friend of USA at August 15, 2005 01:14 PM

Sigh...

If you read the poll (which I did not link to) yes you are technically right.

My point was - and it's an important one because I have lived aboard military bases where this kind of thing is fomented - is that it is not Islam that is the problem here necessarily but militant racism.

In other words, the perception is that militant Islamism is an IMPORTED phenomenon, but ON THE CONTRARY the people who are the biggest malcontents are home-grown Americans - the second-generation black Muslim radicals who just plain hate America and everything it stands for.

*That* 57% is what is skewing the numbers.

And they're not typical of all blacks - they're a militant minority fringe element.

That's an important point, because people are saying it's Islam, but it's not necessarily Islam. It's people who are Americans - they've been here for generations. Just like violent fundementalist Christians who bomb abortion clinics or hate blacks and Jews and support the KKK are not representative of mainstream Christianity, either.

And if you ask those people, they'll tell you the same thing - they don't think American society is moral either.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2005 01:40 PM

Cass, if you have access to today's (Monday's) Wall Street Journal, there is a fascinating article on the front page about the difficulty that Muslims in London have had in dealing with extremists even in "moderate" mosques. I especially like the article because it describes the radicals as sitting in the "back of the mosque" just as I proposed in my comment yesterday. :)

In one of your various comments, Cass, you made the point that we cannot both both complain that moderate Muslims have not spoken out and then accuse them of insincerity when they do. However, we also must not be careful to define "speaking out against terrorism" as the only contribution that Muslims must make in the war. We need them to join the fight. That means they need to infiltrate enemy cells, rat out the middle class boys in the neighborhood who have travelled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, West Africa, etc., for unexplained reasons, and so forth. So I agree that we must applaud any and all denunciations of radicalism, but we must not allow those denunciations to qualify as "enough."

Posted by: TigerHawk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2005 08:48 PM

Is it groundhog day?

Babe, I got you babe.

IIIII got you you babe.

Posted by: Pile On at August 16, 2005 06:59 PM

No, I just said I was going to leave this at the top, remember?

I didn't :)

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2005 09:08 PM

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