The Toronto Star carries a story today called “Religious extremism is back” (thanks to Admiral Don Juan for the link). It is fundamentally wrongheaded in making an argument to which I have often objected in the past, in Islam Unveiled and elsewhere: it equates “extremists” of all religions without sufficient regard for what distinguishes each religious tradition from the others.
Unfortunately, in this case it looks as if I myself am doing that:
But, says Robert Spencer, the director of U.S.-based Jihad Watch, what repels the moderate and secular attracts others just as strongly.
“The extremists have nowhere to go but up. Moderates don’t have religious texts on their side, while radicals make thorough and consistent use of texts. In Islam, young people are very vulnerable to the sayings of the Prophet, just as in Christianity you have evangelicals telling you whether you should behave in a certain way. It’s an effective winner of converts.”
However, this was only part of what I said. I explained to the reporter that Muslim jihadists point to chapter and verse of the Qur’an to win Muslims over to their point of view, just as Christian Evangelicals point to chapter and verse of the Bible to win people over to their point of view. This is not to equate the two, because the messages of the Bible and Qur’an are so fundamentally different — as I have argued many times.
That this article quotes me only partially makes what I said open to misunderstanding, and for that reason it is regrettable.