Bill Graham, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, has written a remarkably naive piece in the Toronto Globe and Mail (thanks to Earl) that calls for building bridges of understanding as a response to terrorists “exploiting Islam as a pretext for violence.”
Now, I am all for building bridges of understanding, but Graham shows no sign of being aware of the problem of jihad terrorism is not one of lack of understanding. No amount of dialogue will blunt the force of the religious command to make war on unbelievers, which is founded on the Qur’an (see especially sura 9) and many well-attested traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. He probably isn’t aware that the “currents of moderation” are attacked as un-Islamic by the radicals, and that they have no solid foundation in Islamic tradition. He is also just thrilled about the Muslim population of Canada, although he assumes (as all politically correct officials must) that this population has entirely abandoned its conviction that the Sharia is the law of Allah, and that no members of this population will ever try to impose it upon Canada.
I would like to believe this too, but where is the evidence? Where is even one unequivocal statement from a prominent Canadian or American Muslim, renouncing Sharia forever?
Anyway, here’s Graham:
In recent years, the impact of terrorists exploiting Islam as a pretext for violence has shaken the world and cast unwarranted suspicion on hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims around the globe. In turn, responses to this violence have aroused concern and mistrust among some Muslims about Western motives and principles. The present instability in Iraq, revelations of prisoner abuse and the killing of Western civilians there, only serve to raise tensions further.
If we are to take wise international actions for the sake of our security, prosperity and a more peaceful planet, we must understand the forces at work in the Muslim world. To do that, we must build bridges of understanding and co-operation between that world and the West. Canada has distinctive social and diplomatic assets that give us a unique potential to be a constructive force for engagement with Muslims around the world.
The impetus for progress will ultimately have to come from the leaders and citizens of Muslim countries, but the West must reinforce its efforts. At today’s G8 foreign ministers’ meeting in Washington, my colleagues and I will consider collective measures to support reform and development in the Middle East. Beyond today’s meeting, however, there is much Canada can do in its own right to support the forces of moderation and reform.
As the standing committee on foreign affairs and international trade noted after conducting hearings in Canada and 15 other countries, the Muslim world is extraordinarily diverse. Its 1.4 billion people live not just in Arab countries of the Middle East, but also in predominantly Muslim countries in Africa, Central Asia and Southeast Asia, in countries such as India with significant Muslim populations, as well as in Canada and other Western countries. Within these countries, as in many regions of the world, there is religious extremism. But within these countries there are also currents of moderation, popular support for democracy and civic freedoms, and movements toward political and social reform, including the advancement of women.
An invaluable asset we can draw on for moving forward in our engagement with the Muslim world is the presence within our country of diverse and flourishing Muslim communities, whose knowledge and skills we must further draw on to help spread messages, shape relationships and inform policies. The potential in these communities complements Canada’s well-established linkages with many Muslim countries through trade and through our development programs in support of human rights, civil freedoms, gender equality and good governance.