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Response to Sully

Reader comment on item: Shoeless George Bush
in response to reader comment: I wish you well in your efforts Chris

Submitted by Chris G. (United States), Jul 7, 2007 at 13:00

Thank you Sully. You are correct that the theological issue of Jihad by the sword vs. peaceful co-existence and tolerance is indeed an issue to be decided by Muslims. However, the choice Muslims make is heavily influenced by our actions towards the Islamic world. That is where we have enormous influence over the outcome of Islam in the future.

If our State Department and Department of Defense were better trained in Islamic theology (or at least if both had core groups of experts), much could be done to manipulate the attitudes and perceptions of Muslims towards America and towards Islamic extremists. What our nation's leaders are just barely beginning to understand is that our foreign policy currently is creating a strong rationale for the ideology of Islamic Jihadists. Our long occupation of Iraq is the primary reason for the massive jump in recruitment for Islamic Jihadist movements like Al-Qaeda.

The reason for this is that all Muslims believe in the right for self-defense. Indeed defensive Jihad is mandatory for all able-bodied Muslims (although it must be done according to specific rules of Islamic warfare which Al-Qaeda does not follow). By invading a sovereign Islamic nation in the heart of the Islamic world, we created the perfect opportunity for Al-Qaeda to take advantage of these beliefs to get people to come and fight for them in Iraq.

From these volunteers, they are able to further brainwash them and turn them into hardcore terrorists who are willing to kill anyone including fellow Muslims. More dangerous however is the way in which now they tailor their propaganda on the internet to appeal to Muslims who are infuriated by our occupation of Iraq. Yes, I know we did it to get a rid of a terrible dictator. However we did a horrible job of pitching that reason to the Islamic world (not to mention the rest of the world).

The current Bush administration really didn't seem to try very hard to build a coalition. Americans have a very short-term memory often. It was only a little more then a decade and a half earlier when Bush's father, Bush Sr., led a coalition against Saddam Hussein that included Saudi Arabian, Egyptian, and Syrian military forces.

We actually fought alongside SYRIA against a dictator who invaded a sovereign nation and killed his fellow Muslims. Today, however the current Bush administration has taken the opposite approach and has obliterated relations with countries like Syria and Iran even though Syria is still desperately trying to improve its relations with us (they recently made substantial improvement in stopping insurgents from crossing its borders). After 9/11 the Iranian population in several cities had candle light vigils in memory of the victims of 9/11. But the American media barely covered that.

The Iranian government had also extended an olive branch to the Bush administration by offering intelligence on the Taliban. They also had been the only major power in the region to my knowledge that was supporting the Northern Alliance after the Russian pullout. Previously the Taliban had been a major enemy of Iran. Sadly, shortly afterwards Bush made his famous axis of evil speech which absolutely wiped out the popular support to the United States from the Iranian people. Then even worse, the Iranians elected this new idiot of a President and our relations went from bad to worse. Instead of helping us, they are actively sending weapons to insurgents in Iraq and now maybe it looks like to the Taliban as well. For what? They want power and respect in the region. Like every Muslim regime in that region, they want to appear as the saviors of the Islamic world.

As for halting the building of mosques.... that's not a good idea. Many Arab countries do have Christian populations and most allow the building of churches. Only highly conservative countries like Saudi Arabia absolutely ban the construction of religious buildings of ANY faith. However that is mainly because they are considered to be the center of Islam and the guardians of Islam. Even if we were to have a ban on mosque building, Muslims would simply hold their prayer gatherings at private homes turning those homes into makeshift unofficial mosques. Like Christians, they do not need an official religious building to pray in. They can pray as a group anywhere as long as they have an Imam to guide them in prayer.

You may say that we could ban Imams from coming into this country. We should ban the extremist Imams (who have a history of extremism) from entering this country. However banning all Imams wouldn't do much. Technically the most knowledgeable Muslim (about Islam) in any group of praying Muslims can act as the Imam in a prayer. So really there is no way of getting rid of Islam without deporting them from this country. Then you have millions who are American born Muslim converts that are hispanic, white, and black Americans. Where do you deport them? How do you strip them of citizenship?

The constitution would have to be heavily modified and that could easily jeopardize all freedom of religion. We may inadvertently strengthen secularism and anti-religion sentiment during the coarse of that witch-hunt. Furthermore, in such a situation, Muslims can lie about their faith so we would have to hold trials to determine whether someone is truly a Muslim and whether they are only pretending to be a Christian or an atheist.

You see how crazy things could get? If we only half-way oppress one religion, we will most likely only end up making them stronger and more radical and extreme. Some Americans believe that such half-way pressure upon the Islamic community of America will make them bow down to the rest of America and force them to assimilate. I have seen little historical evidence to suggest that this is the manner in which most Muslim communities react when oppressed. Al-Qaeda would have a field day getting new recruits in America unless we cut off all internet access to Muslim countries. Even then however its impossible to stop all Al-Qaeda propaganda and communication from getting in through the internet via European nations.

All of that horrible mess could be avoided by simply taking more positive diplomatic steps in the Middle East. That would include using the media more to state our case, placing that case in the context of Islam, developing Islamic based counter-propaganda to refute Al-Qaeda type propaganda, intensively work against countering conspiracy theories (rampant in the Middle East), and giving strong economic incentives for all Islamic countries to fight against extremism.

Right now our State Department has only ONE guy working as a spokesperson on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia according to a recent documentary on Front Line. Our Department of Defense has two spokespeople who don't even speak Arabic and who seem clueless about the culture and religion of the region. This is pitiful. We can do so much better. It's all just a matter of political leadership and vision.

If we openly start attacking and denouncing Islam in general, like it or not, we are attacking the core belief system that governs the lives of hundreds of millions of people. That is why I am hoping that Daniel Pipes might notice my posts and perhaps engage in some productive debate with the goal of creating viable solutions to this problem. What our political ideology is does not matter. What matters is that we come together as Americans to find the very best ways to combat terrorism and the growing threat of Islamic extremism.

Chris G.

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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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