Following the July 7 London bombings Muslims leaders in the West were quick to denounce the attacks as un-Islamic. Nearly all of the denunciations carried the now-familiar qualifier that no matter how unjustly Muslims are treated, no matter how persecuted they might be nothing justifies blowing apart innocent people. This qualifier conveniently returned partial responsibility to the British people.
In other words, the most moderate voices in European and American Islam partly fault the British people for the subway bombings. It has always been thus. After Muslim terrorists last year murdered 344 children and teachers at a middle school in Beslan, Russia, the British Muslim columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown had the audacity (and the freedom) to write: “Much as it infuriates my detractors, I can even make myself imagine the rage and mental state of young suicide bombers brutalized by political oppression.” No matter that the “oppressors” were not the innocent school children that were butchered. Ms. Alibhai-Brown had no trouble pinning the atrocity on the victims.
Moderate Muslims were so slow to speak out against the 9/11 terror attacks that one mortified Harvard professor, Ahmed al-Rahim, founded the American Islamic Congress in order to voice his disapproval of Islamic violence: “The mainstream, official voice of Islam in America wasn’t forceful enough in condemning the violence and the acts of terror on 9/11,” Dr. al-Rahim told Fox News. “There was some hesitancy, and there was more concern with hate crimes against Muslims, which I think were relatively low, and there was more focus on that than actually looking at the violence and the hate speech that has been committed in the name of Islam.”
Moderate Muslims seem to have picked up the practice of blaming the victims from the American left. In a recent commentary in the New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman predictably blamed Muslim terror on Judeo-Christian racism: “Europe is not a melting pot and has never adequately integrated its Muslim minorities, making them easy prey for peddlers of a new jihadist identity.” That explains it.
EVEN THE BRITS ARE blaming themselves. Well, maybe not themselves as much as their leaders. Joan “Islam is a religion of peace” McAlpine, an editor for one Scottish newspaper, quotes Tony Blair saying: “In the end, this can only be taken on and defeated by the [Muslim] community itself.” Ms. McAlpine adamently objects to this patently unfair requirement of Muslims to police their own community: “By doing this [Blair] put the onus on Muslims to defeat terror, handily absolving himself of all responsibility.”
Complicating matters is the fact that too many moderate Muslims are in denial regarding the root causes of Islamic terror. One British Muslim MP suggested the terrorists are driven not by religious zealotry so much as “feelings of isolation and disaffection, the political anger at what they see as the double standards of the West in relation to international Muslim areas of conflict.”
Sorry, but this is not what motivated Mohammed Bouyeri, a 27-year-old Dutch-Moroccan national, and murderer of Theo van Gogh. He’s confessed to shooting the Dutch filmmaker six times and slitting his throat before plunging a dagger into his heart. Here in his own eloquent words is Mr. Bouyeri’s defense:
“I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion… I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do the same, exactly the same.”
Religion, not politics. Today European mosques teem with imams, financed by Saudi Arabian oil sheiks, who preach jihad, and where moderate voices are all but shut out. Hizb ut-Tahrir, a militant Islamic youth group banned in Germany and Holland, freely spreads its message of hate outside British mosques. The British government likewise tolerates Al-Muhajiroun, another Islamist hate group that preaches violence. “Moderate” Muslim Council of Britain’s spokesman Dr Azzam Tamimi, a regular guest on the BBC, declared last year that he was prepared to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel. And that’s only scratching the surface. In the past decade, notes Hebrew University of Jerusalem academic Robert S. Wistrich, “the UK’s undisputed political, economic, and cultural center has also become a major world center of political Islam and anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American activism.”
Those “moderates” who have denounced terror seem to be speaking out not because they genuinely oppose the end results of the bombers (whether they renounce the end ideals remains unclear), but because it is in their security interests to do so. Writing in the Financial Times this week, Shahid Malik, MP for Dewsbury, admitted that “the stakes are high and the choice is stark: either we confront the voices of evil, or we sit back and allow wider British society to regard us as a community that condones such evil.”
THE CONFUSION OF THE MODERATES’ position is expressed in all its usual muddled logic by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who told Radio Singapore that the reason “moderate Muslims are reluctant to condemn and disown extremists is the wide gap that separates the US from the Muslim world. The sources of this Muslim anger are historical and complex, but they have been accentuated in recent years by Muslim perceptions of American unilateralism and hostility to their faith.”
What’s interesting about this ludicrous statement is that Prime Minister Loong freely admits that moderates are reluctant to condemn terrorism, even while he is unable to articulate specifically why Muslims are so angry at the West (complex and historical reasons) or why Muslims believe the West to be hostile to their faith, when the exact opposite is true. Columnist Mark Steyn believes the so-called moderates simply lack nerve: “It requires great courage to be a dissenting Muslim in communities dominated by heavy-handed imams and lobby groups that function effectively as thought-police.” But I doubt it is courage that moderate Muslims lack, as much as will.
Should the West expect moderate Muslims to go beyond qualified denunciations of terror? Don’t be the trailer money on it. Most seem more interested in averting (an almost nonexistent) Islamophobia than stopping suicide bombers. Anyway, the moderates and the terrorists are basically in agreement on everything but the means to the end. In a recent column the Washington Post‘s Charles Krauthammer asked the long-overdue question: “Where are the fatwas issued against Osama bin Laden? Where are the denunciations of the very idea of suicide bombing?” Where indeed?
The Muslim Council of Britain may denounce terrorism, but when will it repudiate the Islamic obligation to institute global Sharia law, or repudiate the goals of the jihadists who seek the return of the Caliphate and a one-world Muslim community? To no one’s surprise the MCB boycotted last January’s Holocaust remembrance in Britain. Worse, MCB Secretary General Iqbal Sacranie has been linked to Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, former chairman of Muslim Aid (slogan: “serving humanity”) and alleged war criminal “instrumental in plotting the assassinations of intellectuals, journalists and students during the 1971 Liberation War in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh),” notes Chris Blackburn, a counter-terrorism expert.
Terrorism is not just a problem for the infidel; it is a problem within the Muslim community as well. In the midst of this fog of unreason and religious fanaticism, one thing seems clear: the U.S. and Britain cannot successfully fight terror if moderate Muslims continue to sit the war out.