Akbar Ahmed is a world-renowned Islamic moderate, but in this piece he plays the same games of victimhood, shifting of attention from jihad to "Islamophobia" and evasion of responsibility that his colleagues in Hamas-linked CAIR and other Islamic supremacists and jihadists have perfected over the last decade.
My own experiences with Akbar Ahmed have not been positive. He has ignored my invitations to debate or dialogue (with the exception of one noncommittal email saying he was looking forward to "talking soon" -- he never did), and has responded to my views on C-Span with deceptive evasions and irrelevancies.
"N.Y. bomb plot: What radicalizes some converts to Islam?," by Akbar Ahmed in the Washington Post, November 21:
The case of Jose Pimentel, an “al-Qaida sympathizer” accused of plotting a bomb attack in New York, has once again focused our attention on why converts to Islam appear to be so fascinated by violent jihad. Is there something in the act of conversion that transforms normal citizens into messengers of death?
For the answer, let us look at the pattern of converts to Islam in the West. In the last generation we have had many high profile converts such as Yusuf Islam, a.k.a Cat Stevens, Sheik Hamza Yusef, Ingrid Mattson, and of course, one of the most famous of them all, Muhammad Ali, the great boxer. Each one of them brought their extraordinary talents to Islam and promoted better understanding between Muslims and non Muslims....
It's interesting to note that even when listing converts to Islam who are not jihadists, Ahmed includes Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam, who in 1989 called for the murder of Salman Rushdie in accord with Islam's blasphemy law; Hamza Yusuf, who has spoken at events sponsored by the Hamas-linked Muslim Brotherhood group Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); and Ingrid Mattson, former president of that same Hamas-linked ISNA.
So what has changed today? Why are we seeing a number of American converts to Islam plotting against this country? In order to answer this question, I travelled recently for almost a year through the United States with a team of young researchers. We published the findings in Journey into America (2010). What we found was a Muslim community that very much appreciative of being in the United States as proud citizens, but was also sharing a sense of being under siege after 9/11. They saw their religion, culture, and traditions mocked mercilessly. They were conscious of the attacks on mosques and women wearing Islamic dress.
Note that he says nothing about Islam's doctrines of jihad warfare. Converts to Islam plot jihad because Islam is "mocked mercilessly." So once again, it is a matter of that "respect" that Muslims find ever-elusive. If non-Muslims would only respect them, everything would be all right. Remember as you read this that "Islamophobia" is a myth, trumped up for patently manipulative, propagandistic purposes. And remember also that I am "mocked mercilessly" in my work, and yet somehow I find it rather easy to avoid constructing bombs and plotting to murder vast numbers of people. Why converts to Islam, on the other hand, find this so difficult, Akbar Ahmed does not deign to explain.
The problem we found was not only the widespread Islamophobia. We also, to our dismay, saw a Muslim leadership that was unsure of its strategy and directions. Muslim leadership was often divided along ethnic and sectarian lines and not able to create an overarching vision for the community in the United States. In particular, religious leaders seemed largely disconnected from the cultural environment in which many young Muslims grow up. In the absence of a clear message emphasizing the peace and compassion which lie at the heart of Islam, the strong messages of confrontation and violence coming from religious leaders like Anwar al-Awalaki filled the void. To compound matters, some senior American political figures are either hostile to Islam or indifferent to it....
Akbar Ahmed should explain: do the extensive teachings on Islamic jihad that Muhammad Yusuf has at his website originate with Anwar al-Awlaki? Did he invent them?
Ahmed, for all his "moderation," concludes with a veiled threat:
Concerned about the possibility of someone slipping through the administrative net and actually exploding a bomb which could kill a large number of Americans, we had recommended several steps which need to be taken urgently. While there have been vigorous interfaith activity and attempts to create a greater understanding among religions, too many preventive measures not been taken, we note with regret. In order to avoid possible future men of violence from succeeding, a vigorous exercise that combines political and Muslim leadership, along with the media, needs to be planned and implemented. It is well to keep in mind that about 50 percent of Americans in poll after poll confirm what we found in the field: they believe Islam is incompatible with being American. The matter is both urgent and serious. Unless immediate steps are taken, we may well see more Jose Pimentels in the future.
So we must regard Islam as compatible with being American, or more Muslims will try to murder Americans. Yet the reason why so many Americans view Islam as incompatible with being American is because Muslims so easily turn to violence and murder when their wishes are denied, and because of veiled threats like this one.