Moderate Islam May Be Key to Winning War on Terror

[New York Sun] Daniel Pipes - An effective counterterrorism strategy must focus on the fact that terrorism by Muslims in the name of Islam presents the strategic threat today to civilized peoples, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. On the low end, this threat involves lone individuals seized by the Sudden Jihad Syndrome who unpredictably set off on a murder spree. At the high end, it involves an outlaw organization like Hamas running the quasi-governmental Palestinian Authority, or even al-Qaeda's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The surge of violence by Muslims in the name of Islam does not flow from the religion of Islam, which just a generation ago did not inspire such murderousness. Rather, it results from political ideas. Ideas, usually ones about radically changing the world, are central to terrorism, and especially to its suicidal variety. Islamists have come to dominate the ideological discourse of Muslims as the result of several factors: a historic rivalry with Jews and Christians, a boisterous birth rate, the capture of the Iranian state in 1979, support from oil-rich states. As a result, Islamic law, in retreat over the previous two centuries, came roaring back, and with it jihad, or sacred war. The caliphate, defunct in real terms for more than a millennium, became a vibrant dream. Only Muslims can formulate and spread an Islam that is modern, moderate, democratic, liberal, good-neighborly, humane, and respectful of women. Although theoretically possible, the weakness of its advocates at present makes moderate Islam appear impossibly remote. But the success of moderate Islam ultimately represents the only effective form of counterterrorism. Terrorism, begun by bad ideas, can only be ended by good ones.

2006-12-08 01:00:00

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