Terror Free Tomorrow, an organization that recommends jizya as an antidote to terror, says that Islamic terrorism isn’t that big a deal anyway. In “The myth of Muslim support for terror: The common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews” in the Christian Science Monitor (thanks to Ahsen), Kenneth Ballen, the founder and president of Terror Free Tomorrow, explains that poll results show that more Americans support terrorism than do people in majority-Muslim countries:
WASHINGTON – Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.
The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland’s prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that “bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” are “never justified,” while 24 percent believe these attacks are “often or sometimes justified.”
Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world’s most-populous Muslim countries — Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are “never justified”; in Pakistan, that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh, 81 percent.
It would have been interesting to see how the results would have changed if the people in Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria had been asked about jihad violence, instead of about terrorist violence.
Do these findings mean that Americans are closet terrorist sympathizers?
Hardly. Yet, far too often, Americans and other Westerners seem willing to draw that conclusion about Muslims. Public opinion surveys in the United States and Europe show that nearly half of Westerners associate Islam with violence and Muslims with terrorists. Given the many radicals who commit violence in the name of Islam around the world, that’s an understandable polling result.
Mr. Ballen is generous to grant that. He might have added that the evasions and smear tactics that self-professed moderate Muslims frequently employ in the West against those who are exploring the elements of Islam that jihadists use to justify their actions only feed the suspicions of Westerners who are unfooled by the reflexive cries of “racism” and “bigotry.”
But these stereotypes, affirmed by simplistic media coverage and many radicals themselves, are not supported by the facts — and they are detrimental to the war on terror. When the West wrongly attributes radical views to all of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, it perpetuates a myth that has the very real effect of marginalizing critical allies in the war on terror.
Who in the West really “attributes radical views to all of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims”? What the Qur’an and Sunnah teach, and how those teachings have been interpreted by the schools of Islamic law, is one thing, but what any given Muslim knows or cares about all that is quite another. By conflating the two, as is common practice in the mainstream media, Ballen is just setting up a straw man and obscuring the crucial effort need in order to distinguish true “critical allies in the war on terror” from false ones.
Indeed, the far-too-frequent stereotyping of Muslims serves only to reinforce the radical appeal of the small minority of Muslims who peddle hatred of the West and others as authentic religious practice.
I don’t believe it when Dinesh D’Souza says it, and I don’t believe it when Ballen says it. Stereotyping is always annoying, but the idea that it would make peaceful people turn violent is, at the mildest, unproven. And if Ballen means by stereotyping examinations of the violent elements of the Qur’an, Sunnah, and Islamic law, I still maintain that any genuine Muslim reformer will not react with rage and radicalism to an exploration of the elements of Islam that need reforming.
Terror Free Tomorrow’s 20-plus surveys of Muslim countries in the past two years reveal another surprise: Even among the minority who indicated support for terrorist attacks and Osama bin Laden, most overwhelmingly approved of specific American actions in their own countries. For example, 71 percent of bin Laden supporters in Indonesia and 79 percent in Pakistan said they thought more favorably of the United States as a result of American humanitarian assistance in their countries — not exactly the profile of hard-core terrorist sympathizers.
Nonsense. If America wants to pay jizya, the jihadists certainly will not refuse it.
For most people, their professed support of terrorism/bin Laden can be more accurately characterized as a kind of “protest vote” against current US foreign policies, not as a deeply held religious conviction or even an inherently anti- American or anti-Western view.
This view founders, of course, on the fact that jihad violence is much older than current US foreign policies.
In truth, the common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews. Whether recruits to violent causes join gangs in Los Angeles or terrorist cells in Lahore, the enemy is the violence they exalt.
Indeed. But how to address this phenomenon, and combat it? In Lahore it cannot be ignored that people join terror cells because they believe it is their religious responsibility to do so, and that they will be rewarded with Paradise. To ignore this because of political correctness would be silly, and possibly dangerous.
Our surveys show that not only do Muslims reject terrorism as much if not more than Americans, but even those who are sympathetic to radical ideology can be won over by positive American actions that promote goodwill and offer real hope.
America’s goal, in partnership with Muslim public opinion, should be to defeat terrorists by isolating them from their own societies. The most effective policies to achieve that goal are the ones that build on our common humanity. And we can start by recognizing that Muslims throughout the world want peace as much as Americans do.
D’Souza couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Ballen. But neither you nor he explain how we can identify these peace-loving Muslims, much less build alliances with them. Maybe the Muslims throughout the world who want peace as much as Americans do could start off the kumbaya party by taking decisive and effective action to pronounce takfir on Osama bin Laden and all violent jihadists and Islamic supremacists. Takfir is the declaration that they are so far outside the pale of Islamic orthodoxy that they are non-Muslims. One would think that since most Muslims abhor what they do, that shouldn’t be a difficult operation to perform, should it?