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I am confused

Reader comment on item: Shoeless George Bush

Submitted by Chris G. (United States), Jul 3, 2007 at 15:34

Ok, I am left a little bit confused about what Daniel Pipes expects out of the President. Does he want President Bush to condemn all of Islam as a terrorist religion and start a war against Islam? Or does he want President Bush to encourage Muslims to fight against extremism within their religion?

The appointment of a special envoy to the OIC is an extremely important move. Mr. Pipes is right that they made a lot of anti-America statements at those conferences (and even more anti-Israeli statements). Nevertheless, without a voice in that conference we are unable to contest the allegations made against us and thus allow conspiracy theories and anti-Americanism to flourish in the leadership of the OIC.

If the special envoy is an Arabic speaking American Muslim and even better, is a traditional Islamic scholar who is skilled at inter-Islamic dialog (such as the American Shaykh Hamza Yusuf), he will be able to translate American foreign policy into an Islamic framework that can be respected in that part of the world. What I am more afraid of is that he will appoint a political friend who knows nothing about the cultures and religion of that region and who will make even more of a mess and more anti-Americanism. Whoever is sent can not be naïve about the back-stabbing nature of Middle Eastern politics and must understand the region and its complexity thoroughly.

At any rate, respecting the religion of Islam is not "appeasement" as long as you respect those who follow peaceful and tolerant interpretations of the religion. Bush does not respect those who seek to carry out death, chaos, and destruction in the name of Islam. Please, Mr. Pipes do not confuse the two and lump all Muslims together as so many neoconservatives do.

There are many Muslim leaders all over the world who are passionately fighting against extremism. However they tend to get extremely little media coverage (because they're boring) except from the liberal left in the media (such as NPR, Frontline, etc...). My area of research is precisely on this issue. I am a cultural anthropologist who is currently developing alternative methods of counter-terrorism using traditional Islamic theology to counter Al-Qaeda type radical Islamic ideologies.

This is done using a wide variety of methods. The primary method being the usage of internet-based counter-propaganda in which not only extremists are refuted, but it is done in a multi-media format with production values that conjure the romantic imagery and emotions of Islam such as what you see in typical Al-Qaeda Jihadi videos. Sadly however, nobody seems interested in funding my research and I lack the internet expertise, production equipment, and funding to do all of the work myself. I can not tell you how frustrating it is when I know from my research that in one on one dialog with wahhabi types on the internet that extremists can be turned towards more traditional and peaceful interpretations of Islam.

The same goes for Shi'a radicals. Its not hard to find Hezbollah supporters on the internet who you can surprisingly have dialog with and get them to use some common sense if you know how to frame your arguments within an Islamic context that they can relate to. Simple things, like a female politician wearing a hijab at a mosque is not appeasement, but rather a sign of humility that goes a long way in winning the trust of Muslims. However showing humility does not mean allowing extremists to run rampant such as we have seen in Britain and a few other European nations. There are limits to free-speech and any individuals who openly advocate violence and terrorism should be dealt with, especially when they are following ideologies that we know are deadly serious about what they say.

Radicals in American private militias were systematically found and arrested at the first sign of illegal activities. The FBI did an excellent job in infiltrating such organizations. The only way they will do that here with Al-Qaeda type terrorist cells is through the recruitment of patriotic American Muslims to infiltrate extremist groups.

The only way to get such recruits is to do what President Bush did at that Islamic center. Dialog and respect towards Muslims who follow peaceful traditions of Islam goes a long way towards winning hearts and minds. There are also many Islamic values that are also valued by Western cultures and in which we all have a vested interest in promoting. "Tolerance" does not mean appeasement. Tolerance is not without its limits. However within those limits, we can do much to improve relations with the Islamic world in order to jointly fight against terrorists who seek to kill the innocent regardless of their religion. (The victims of Islamic extremists have primarily been fellow Muslims).

As for those who Mr. Pipes supports such as Fred Thompson... I can only shudder in horror. While I love Fred Thompson as an actor in Law and Order, he is one of the most ignorant politicians I have seen in awhile making some of the most ill-informed statements that I've ever heard. Please Mr. Pipes, let's look at the logical repercussions of declaring war against Islam. Are we ready to accept the fact that we will have to conduct genocide in order to win that war? Are we ready to rewrite our constitution so that we may arrest and deport (or detain in prisons) American citizens who are Muslim and ban outright the religion of Islam from America? What about American citizens who sympathize with Muslims? Will we arrest them as well?

How is a more militant policy towards Islam combating radicalism when all of the data coming in shows quite clearly that we are fueling radicalism with our foreign policy? Lets do some predictive analysis Mr. Pipes before we go on our own Jihad against Islam.

Chris G.

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