Dow Marmur is rabbi emeritus at Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple. In this column he repeats a sentiment that non-Muslims have expressed many, many times before. No one, however, ever seems to stop and ponder the implications of the fact that now, thirteen and a half years after 9/11, articles like this one still need to be written.
“Mainstream Islam must do more to prevent extremist violence,” by Dow Marmur, Toronto Star, March 15, 2015:
The outpouring of local Muslim support for Jews after the murderous attacks in Paris and Copenhagen by self-proclaimed devout followers of Islam has been heartwarming and greatly appreciated.
Jews were particularly touched by the human chain around the synagogue in Oslo, the capital of Norway, after the tragedy in nearby Denmark. Some 1,000 Muslims, almost as many as there are Jews in all of Norway, are said to have held hands around the synagogue to tell those who worship there that their sanctuary will be protected.
Jews even accepted in good faith the reported change of heart by one of the Muslim speakers at the event. He had argued a few years earlier that it’s the Jews who were responsible for 9/11.
But is it enough to express support for victims after they had been attacked? Shouldn’t mainstream Islam take more drastic steps to prevent the violence perpetrated by its ostensible adherents before it occurs? Though many tend to blame U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders for past mistakes and present relative inaction in dealing with the menace of jihadism, few are urging the Islamic communities themselves to help eradicate it from their midst.
The menace is spreading. The notorious “Jihadi John” who has won international infamy as the executioner of hostages held by ISIS, was a graduate of the University of Westminster, one of the many academic institutions in Britain dominated by Muslim zealots.
One of the former adherents to have now recanted, Majid Nawaz, wrote in the New York Times earlier this month that on the very day that “Jihadi John” was identified, the Islamic Society in his alma mater was due to host Haitham al-Haddad who has been quoted describing Jews as descendants of apes and pigs.
Of course, people of that ilk neither reflect nor represent mainstream Islam. But shouldn’t respected and responsible Muslim leaders take drastic public action to identify the troublemakers on their fringe and help stop them before they engage in murderous endeavours?
That doesn’t seem to be happening. Only recently King Salman of Saudi Arabia, ostensibly the enemy of Muslim terrorism and a staunch defender of the faith, bestowed upon Dr. Zakir Najk, a notorious Muslim televangelist from India, his country’s highest honour.
Najk has a 9/11 theory that exonerates Muslim terrorists. He has also proclaimed in the conventional way of anti-Semites that the Jews control America. Mercifully, Canada denied him entry when he was invited to give vent to his opinions here.
To repeat: nobody should ever suggest that he or the young men and women who abandon their homes in the West to join extremists in the Middle East represent true Islam or reflect its teachings. But it’s not enough to say it after the event. Zealots and other miscreants should be prevented before they take action, including being reported to the police.
This is hard, because adversaries, keen to find fault with religious institutions and those who speak for them, may intimidate exponents of authentic Islam not to be publicly self-critical in order not to provide more fuel for the fires on which their enemies wish to burn them….