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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Is Fear of Blaming Islam Greater than a Need to Fight Terrorism?

Middle East and Terrorism scholar Barry Rubin points out that most current policy makers and opinion shapers prefer to avoid considering Islam as the motive for terrorism. The fear of short term pain is indulged at the expense of preventing the real danger that will follow. And we are being lied to - "albeit for virtuous reasons" - by the politicians and the mainstream press.

Victim being treated after Boston marathon terror bomb blast.

Victim being treated after Boston marathon terror bomb blast.
Photo Credit: KTVU

The second largest group, says Rubin, is the one whose members insist “Islam is an inherently violent and extremist religion.”  And for this group, the only option is to wage war against all the adherents of the religion, nothing else will do.  “This second group,” Rubin says with disapproval, “is not interested in working with real moderate Muslims against radical groups and leaders because it claims such people don’t even exist.”

Rubin suggests another course, one that should already exist, and it would if those in the first group were right.

There needs to be organized Islamic education against Islamist extremism in Western countries.  Rubin explains there have been at least three such programs that he knows about, one in Egypt, one in Saudi Arabia and one in Tunisia, all before the Arab Spring.

Mosques, which are becoming – to some – the object of mistrust or at least concern as terrorism incubators should hold classes, or sponsor radio programs directed at Muslims.  These programs should stress the how and why their religion does not demand aggression against non-Muslims, or expansionist territoriality efforts.

Such anti extremist indoctrination programs would undermine the “radical Muslims” preaching, and doing, the opposite.  Like some of those who attended the very mosque in Cambridge the Tsarnaevs attended.

“American Muslim leaders – many who support groups that commit terrorism in the Middle East – issue press releases from time to time decrying specific terrorist attacks but do nothing to dissuade congregants from believing the extremist viewpoint,” Rubin told The Jewish Press. “And they have been under no real pressure to do so.”

Another significant point: these programs should be directed at Muslims and in mosques, rather than being directed at outsiders to convince them – sometimes menacingly – that people better not say there is any connection between Islam and terrorism.  That would be a good start.

FALSE FRONTS

There are currently groups such as the Commission on American Islamic Relations which create training programs, but their programs are focused on convincing non-Muslims that Islam is purely peaceful, and that anyone who says otherwise is a racist and worst.

The same is true of an op-ed in Wednesday’s Washington Post.  There, Salam al-Marayati, the president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, pushes the “it’s them, not us” meme.  No doubt it is true and painful for Muslim Americans that inquiring eyes have begun to turn towards them as the source of perpetrators of the never-to-be-erased-from-American-memory Boston Marathon bombings.  And without doubt more than 99 percent of all American Muslims had nothing to do with that or any other act of terrorism.

But, as Rubin’s articles make clear, the mainstream media and the country’s politicians are already fearful of even considering the role Islamism plays in terrorism here and abroad.  Where is MPAC’s program directed at Muslims which opposes radical indoctrination, rather than press pieces blasting any questioning of Muslims?  There are wisps of ideas in his op-ed, but no suggestion that concrete action, the kind American Muslims say they want from their leaders, will happen.

Salam al-Marayati is given a prized platform for playing the victim card in a message Americans are desperate to hear.  Yet he has failed to do the kind of work necessary to stop the radicalization within, something his own community wants.

And just to be clear, this is the same al-Marayati who suggested it was Israel that was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, on national radio, the day of the attacks.  Finger pointing is something he felt quite comfortable with then.

Not only has al-Marayati tried to blame the Jews for 9/11 and repeatedly suggest that the “Israel lobby” is dangerous, when it comes to terrorism, he has done more than fail to work against it from within.

Salam al-Marayati has also worked to remove groups from America’s terrorist watch list that few patriotic Americans want removed.  According to Steve Emerson, America’s pre-eminent terrorism expert:

In a 2003 counterterrorism paper advocating removal of Hamas, Hebollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from the U.S. terrorism list, MPAC said that Washington’s “preoccupation” with these groups “raises the question as to whether targeting Palestinian groups serves true national security interests or is based on political considerations.”

You know what he means by “political considerations” don’t you?  There’s that “Israel Lobby” again.

THE PROBLEM THAT CAN’T BE NAMED, AND WHAT IS A “KNOCK-OFF JIHADI?”

The latest permutation of the “Don’t talk about Islam, well maybe Islam had something to do with it, well it’s Islamism-motivated but they were acting alone,” or, the “mysterious motivation” game was advanced by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden this week when he referred to the Tsarnaev Terrorists as “knock-off jihadis.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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