Israeli Muslims Grow Extreme as Others Secularize

(Media Line-Jerusalem Post) David E. Miller - Israeli Muslim Sheikh Nazem Abu-Salim, head of the Shihab A-Din mosque in Nazareth, was indicted last week on charges of inciting violence and support of a terrorist organization. Four weeks earlier, police arrested Muhammad Ayyash, an imam at the Al-Bahr mosque in Jaffa, for "security offenses." Arabs comprise a fifth of Israel's population. In the last decade, Israeli Arabs have come to identify increasingly with their Palestinian brothers in the West Bank and Gaza, and have demanded recognition as a distinct community inside Israel. "On the one hand you have radicalization, and on the other, abandonment of religion," said Mordechai Kedar, an expert on Islam at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. "The more young Muslims drink wine and behave immodestly with women, the more radicalized others become." The proportion of Israeli Arabs accepting the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state has declined in the past seven years, according to Professor Sami Smoha of Haifa University. In 2003, 76% of Israeli Arabs believed Jews had the right to a state of their own. By 2009 this number dropped to 61%. According to the Herzliya Patriotism Survey carried out in 2006, 56% of Israeli Arabs are not proud of their Israeli citizenship; however 82% said they would rather be citizens of Israel than of any other country in the world.

2010-11-26 08:39:55

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