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The "10%-15% of Muslims who are Islamists"

Reader comment on item: Smoking Out Islamists via Extreme Vetting

Submitted by Peter (United States), Jan 30, 2017 at 12:40

Here I would like to take issue with your statement, "Islamists, not all Muslims, are the problem; they, not all Muslims, must urgently be excluded from the United States and other Western countries", and suggest an alternative way of looking at this. I'd suggest the alternative solves a couple of methodological problems you yourself raise, while still proceeding from an acceptance of your 10%-15% premise.

First let me identify the problems whose existence you concede:
1) "Identifying Islamists is no easy matter"
2) "some believers change their views over time" (and related to that, the existence of "sudden jihad syndrome" - http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2008/01/sudden-jihad-syndrome-its-now-official)
3) "Fake-moderates have fooled even me, despite all the attention I devote to this topic"

I think you see the 10%-15% as a figure which applies, à la set theory, to discrete Muslims - in other words, each Muslim of the total population of Muslims either is, or is not, an Islamist, and of the total number of Muslims in the world (call that number n), about 0.15n are Islamists who must be excluded from the United States.

The alternative I would suggest is to see a probability distribution as applying to EACH MUSLIM. Consider this as saying that each Muslim in the world has an "inner Islamist" which occupies a small part of his or her psyche. That "inner Islamist" is only a very small part of each Muslim and has only a very small probability of manifesting at any given time. That probability, in fact, is whatever it has to be mathematically to account for 10%-15% of Muslims "manifesting their inner Islamist" at a given time.

If you look at the problem like this, I think it accounts neatly for the difficulty of identifying Islamists, and the possible changes from non-Islamist to Islamist Muslim over time.

And if you accept this way of looking at the problem, then the practical implications are significant. Even a questionnaire will not eliminate the threat posed by admitting Muslims to the United States. The "admit no Muslims" policy that Trump has proposed (even if it's doubtful whether he and our border forces will have the wisdom of Solomon necessary to implement it successfully) begins to look quite rational.

Submitting....

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Daniel Pipes replies:

First, some Muslims are determinedly anti-Islamist and to ignore them is both to insult them and to reject a potentially formidable ally.

Second, I addressed your no-Muslim policy in my article:

The no-Muslim policy sounds simple to implement but figuring out who is Muslim is a problem in itself (are Ahmadis Muslims?). Further, with such a policy in place, what will stop Muslims from pretending to renounce their religion or to convert to another religion, notably Christianity? These actions would require the same in-depth research and intensive interviews as described above. If anything, because a convert can hide behind his ignorance of his alleged new religion, distinguishing a real convert to Christianity from a fake one is even more difficult than differentiating an Islamist from a moderate Muslim.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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