This business about the war on terror not being a fight against Islam is repeated endlessly, but rarely examined closely. Of course, Downer and all the others who say this mean that the war on terror can and should be pursued without impinging on Muslim belief and practice, and that Muslims themselves should join it. On the other side, jihadists, because they argue that what they are doing is justified by and essential to Islamic belief and practice, routinely characterize the war on terror as a war on Islam.
That fact indicates that it is not non-Muslims like Downer, but actually Muslims in pluralistic societies who claim to be moderate, loyal citizens of the countries in which they reside, who need to establish that the war on terror is not a war on Islam. They can do this by joining it wholeheartedly, seeking out and exposing the jihadists among their ranks, and demonstrating through their deeds that they can oppose jihad violence and its goal of the imposition of the Islamic social order and the subjugation of infidels, while continuing to practice Islam in some fashion. The burden of proof is on them. Downer and other Western pols shouldn't waste one second reasurring Muslims that the war on terror is not a war on Islam; instead, they should be asking them: "Show us that the war on terror is not a war on Islam. We don't want to go to war with the Islamic world in general, but we cannot ignore or deny the fact that those who have determined to destroy us are operating according to Islamic principles. Show us that you do not hold to the advancement of those principles either by violent or peaceful means, and that you will join us in combatting them."
So far, Muslim organizations in America and Europe seem primarily concerned with obstructing anti-terror efforts. Nor have they done anything to formulate a non-jihadist, non-Sharia, pluralist Islam, although they continue to assert loudly and regularly that such a thing exists, and is in fact the Real Thing. Why is it beyond politicians like Downer to say, politely but firmly, Show me?
"Fighting terrorism is not a fight against Islam: Downer," from Australia's AFP, with thanks to JE:
Fighting terrorism must not be characterised as a fight against Islam or support for terrorists will be boosted, Federal Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says.
Delivering a keynote address to an international seminar in Jakarta looking at ways of building cooperation against terrorism, and in particular suicide bombings, Mr Downer emphasised the damage extremists sought to wreck in Muslim nations.
"One of the greatest challenges of our age is to ensure that as we fight terrorism, extremism and intolerance, we do not at the same time trigger broader conflict between civilisations," he said.
"To characterise this fight against terrorism as a fight against Islam is to invite not just a clash of civilisations, but the broadening of support for terrorists," he said, adding that this was not a struggle of Islam versus Christianity either.
All of South-East Asia's suicide bombings have occurred in the world's most populous Muslim nation, beginning with the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.