Why is Islam taboo?

This article seems to proceed from the false assumption that jihad violence and Islamic supremacism have no basis or justification in Islamic texts and teachings, but otherwise it makes a very important point: obviously there is a problem that has something to do with Islam. Why is it forbidden to discuss it? Why can there be no investigation of how jihadis use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism without charges of “Islamophobia” and “bigotry” and claims that such investigations are a hindrance to “dialogue” with Muslims who profess to reject violence and supremacism anyway?

A recent example of this came when the Roman Catholic bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, Robert McManus, barred me from speaking at a Catholic conference in Worcester because he thought talking about Muslim persecution of Christians and Islam’s view of Christianity would hurt his good relationship with the friendly Muslims of Worcester, including a self-professed “friend and supporter” of convicted jihad terrorist Tarek Mehanna.

Here is the petition that is circulating asking Bishop McManus to allow me to speak after all.

“Tunisia in chaos: Why is Islam taboo?,” by Piero Gheddo for Asia News, February 11 (thanks to C. Cantoni):

Milan (AsiaNews) – On 6 February, the murder of Chokry Belaid, a lawyer who protested the government’s human rights violations, led to a revolt of the Tunisian people, who fear an Islamic dictatorship and would like a democratic and secular government. The picture of the “Arab Spring” in Sunni countries is becoming increasingly incomprehensible, there seems to be a return to the autumn and winter of democracy in Islamic countries.

The situation today is this: no country with a Muslim majority (and there are more than thirty) has a tolerably democratic government, many of these are in a state of civil war: Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Nigeria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, in no country with a Muslim majority is there full religious freedom for Christians and other religions in some countries where the faithful of the Koran are sizeable minority, there are separatist guerrillas and terrorism: Philippines, Thailand, India, China, Burma, Indonesia.

We all know the latest news, the events of that day-to-day confirm this situation. What is surprising is the fact that the West does not question, does not ask itself where the Islamic world’s instability originates and how it propagates, the uprisings, guerrilla warfare, terrorism that breaks out in all or almost all Islamic countries and what can be done to get to the root of this violent extremism, this loose cannon that threatens world peace. When before World War II, Nazism was already an expanding power, the free world discussed it at the popular level, studied the ideology and visited Germany, trying to make deals, it summoned international conferences for world peace. After World War II, when International Communism began to expand, from the 40s to 1989, the danger of contagion was perceptible, measures were discussed to prevent the spread of this ideology-religion, studying the roots of Marxism-Leninism and what to do to counter its spread in the free world. Communism was a threat, it was discussed a lot.

The same does not happen with Islamic extremism, condemned by all but which remains like a mysterious object. I do not mean aversion for Islam and even less Muslims. I am convinced that Islam is a great religion that has had the valuable historic merit of bringing many people from polytheism to the monotheism of Abraham, the father of all believers and from tribalism to unity in faith: it gave divided people and enemies a Book , a Law and a community that united and joined them. Today, however, Islamic extremism has taken over the vast majority of the followers of Islam and represents a new threat to humanity and our West demonized as the “great American Satan”, claimed as the sworn enemy. In short, Islam is not spoken of. Wars, revolts, terrorism, dictatorships, are all denounced but the root cause of all this is shrouded in silence in the Western press and in meetings and cultural debates. It is a taboo subject. At the most they mask the problem by writing, for example, that the Salafists persecution of Christians in Egypt, Sudan and Nigeria, “is not religiously motivated, but by economic interests,” a half-truth that nobody believes.

What can we do? Many things, but I think that in Italy there are about two million Muslim workers and students, generally good people who only seek a job, a home, the warmth of relationships, security, social peace, well-being. The theme of the roots of Islamic extremism must be publicized, discussed, debated, brought to popular attention, to involve ordinary people and Muslim guests in an atmosphere of respect and effective brotherhood. In the “lectio magistralis” in Regensburg (September 12, 2006) Pope Benedict XVI had made it clear that Islam has to deal with human reason, according to which “violence in God’s name does not exist.” No less than 200 imams and Muslim academics responded to the Pope saying they agreed and starting a dialogue on this crucial issue for Islam today.

I discuss this initiative at length in my book Not Peace But A Sword, which will be published March 25 by Catholic Answers. For a number of reasons, it appears to be less an attempt at genuine dialogue than a proselytizing mechanism designed to convert the “dialogue” partner to Islam, as the Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb explained: “The chasm between Islam and Jahiliyyah [the society of unbelievers] is great, and a bridge is not to be built across it so that the people on the two sides may mix with each other, but only so that the people of Jahiliyyah may come over to Islam.”

The title of that invitation to the Pope for dialogue was A Common Word Between Us and You. Reading the entire Qur’anic verse from which the phrase “a common word between us and you” was taken makes clear the Common Word initiative’s agenda: “Say: “˜People of the Book! Come now to a word common between us and you, that we serve none but God, and that we associate not aught with Him, and do not some of us take others as Lords, apart from God.” And if they turn their backs, say: “˜Bear witness that we are Muslims– (3:64). Since Muslims consider the Christian confession of the divinity of Christ to be an unacceptable association of a partner with God, this verse is saying that the “common word” that Muslims and the People of the Book should agree on is that Christians should discard one of the central tenets of their faith and essentially become Muslims. Not a promising basis for an honest and mutually respectful dialogue of equals.

During his journey to the Holy Land as a “pilgrim of peace” (8-15 May 2009), Benedict XVI returned to the theme when he gave a clear indication of how the followers of the three monotheistic religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims could live in harmony. On the plane taking him to Jordan he said that the key of getting along is “talking to reason and supporting positions that are truly reasonable.” And then, in meetings with Muslims in Jordan he insisted on this: religion is reasonably against violence. This view of religion, he added, “rejects all forms of violence and totalitarianism: not only on principles of faith, but also of right reason.” The reason leads to “serve the common good, to respect the dignity of man, which gives rise to universal human rights.”

But afterwards it was no longer spoken of or discussed, not even in Western democracies where there are millions of Muslims and there is freedom of thought and of press. In a democratic and free nation like our own, there should be no taboo subjects, because they never produce any good.

Indeed.

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