But Islam’s swift progress is easily explained. For the West – but not China or India – is as politically and ideologically weak as the world of Islam is strong. The West is handicapped by many factors: its over-benign liberalism, the lost moral status of the Christian faith, the vacillations of judiciaries and the incoherence of their judgments, political and military hesitations over strategy and tactics, poor intelligence (in both senses), and the complicities of the ‘left’.
All of these have been skilfully exploited. Moreover, despite differences in the Muslim world over how the revived jihad against the ‘infidel’ should be pursued, Islam’s strengths have grown in the last decades. Our illusions about the minoritarian nature of the jihadist ethic can therefore no longer be afforded. Or, as Sheikh Saleh ben Humaid – not the embodiment of Enlightenment reason – expressed it during a sermon at Mecca’s Grand Mosque ten days ago to mark the feast of Eid, Islam has ‘spread beyond all borders and obstacles’. He was right; and no Catholic prelate or Anglican bishop can now say the same of the progress of his own faith.
In addition, most Western governments appear to have forgotten simple political truths which the Islamic challenge should have reinforced. Among these truths is that the principles of the free society require toleration of the tolerant, but demand that intolerance be shown towards those who not only reject such free society’s values but look forward to the day when they are brought down.
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