Want to Fight Xenophobia? Then Speak Clearly about Islamism

(Sydney Morning Herald - Australia) Colin Rubenstein - Many Western leaders, analysts and commentators are, often with the best of intentions, counter-productively aiding the popularity of anti-Muslim political movements by failing to speak clearly and sensibly about the ideological origins and nature of Islamist extremist terrorism - such as the bloody attack in Nice on Thursday. This ideology is best described as Islamism, a violent, totalitarian ideology that argues all political and social problems can be resolved by returning to an imagined version of the Islamic caliphate that existed in the time of the Prophet Muhammad. This ideology is a political belief system - like communism or fascism - and not at all the same as the religion, Islam. Some, apparently including U.S. President Obama, argue that it is best not to mention the Islamist ideology and belief system behind such attacks, which drives not only IS, but al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbullah, Jemaah Islamyah, Boko Haram, and numerous other violent and ostensibly non-violent groups. Failing to speak clearly about this ideology even as we see individuals, on a daily basis, carrying out vicious and unconscionable violence, which they say is in the name of Islam, actually does no favors to the vast majority of non-Islamist Muslims, Islamism's primary victims. Instead, it risks failing to create a clear public distinction between the perverse Islamism that guides attacks and moderate, majority, mainstream Islam. The author is executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council.

2016-07-20 00:00:00

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