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NOT JUST A "TACTIC

Reader comment on item: Suicide Reversal? Polling the Muslim world

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Jul 29, 2007 at 17:04

It seems a major mistake to regard suicide bombing as a mere tactic. It is rather an indication of an in-depth strategic problem that goes to the core of what it means to be a Muslim, and therefore is a central problem for the West and the rest of the world to face. This is not to say that all Muslims are would-be suicide bombers, but the degree of approval, the degree of acceptance of S-B "under some circumstances", and above all, the absence of convincing and affirmative rejection of S-B by the great mass of Muslims indicate that this is a far more central reality to the nature of Islam, than is indicated, I think, in trying to tease grounds of optimism from the poll figures.

It is hardly surprising that there would be a decline in approval of S-B when it is turned against themselves in a particular country, as happened in Jordan. But to conclude that this means any kind of deep disapproval of suicide bombing per se, seems an almost naive leap of faith.

I have long been astonished and appalled that the grassroots spread of suicide bombing has not led to any noticeable rejection of the religion by at least a minority of believers anywhere. What if, ultimately, the terrible choice for Muslims and non-Mulsims alike is, we can either have a religion in which indiscrinmiate suicide-bimbing is an approved and even required evidenc of faith as taught by ite body of clerics and theologians, or soemthing has to happen to the religion itslef in the eyes of both its believers and the rest of the world. (think back to Roosevelt's "quarantine " speech in late 1937.)

Over and over again, at best, there has been the psychological dodge reaction of, "that's not the real Islam." Well, how convenient, and what a total level of non-acceptance of reponsibility for a core tenet of your faith, preached by hundreds and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Imams, all over the world. (I would like to see statistics on how many Imams and other clerics have preached that suicide bombing is proof of piety - while I agree with hardly anything on Fox News, I do agree 200% with a marvelous, chilling report they had last night on Radical Islam)

I had another encounter, yesterday, that bears on this issue of the overall psychology of a billion people in an ominous way. Again at that hotbed of squishily indiscriminate interest in, and approval of, all kinds of speakers no matter what their message, I went to Politics and Prose to see an appalling approval of its own manipulation by a figure I'm sure you know, Akbar Ahmed, who has written a new book, Journey into Islam. Introduced as a great apostle of compassion and "dialogue", what I increasingly heard was a subtle variation of Mohammed's original message to the outside world (i.e. to the Byzantine Emperor in 626), "Convert, and you will be safe."

In Ahmed's handling this became, by means of a series of inherently contradictory* statements, (paraphrase), "never, ever criticize Islam, because it will injure their pride if any part of their religion is criticized, and you, not they, will be responsible if they go on a rampage. If you avoid all criticism, ..... maybe you will be safe." This took concrete form when an educated Hindu (self-described) religious skeptic in the audience, asked, in a thoroughly reasonable tone, some question that indicated Muslims in Pakistan (where Ahmed comes from) may be more responsible for the violence in the Red Mosque than the US for invading Iraq.

Well, keeping his tone light, Ahmed responded (paraphrase), "I don't hate you for your Paki-bashing, because I understand it's in your genes and you can't help it." Some dialogue.

As said earlier, what was most ominous to me was this fellow being reduced as a figure of wise moderation, and strongly applauded when he was dome.

I'll repeat my suggestion that Suicide bombing is far more than just a "tactic" of a "tiny minority" of Muslims. The failure of the great majority of Muslims to spontaneously and overwhelmingly reject it as abhorrent to their identity as human beings, aside form their identity as Muslims, indicates a fare more profound problem to me.

* As an example, saying repeatedly that Muslim reaction to 'insults' [any criticism], of Islam is just like what any people would do with regard to their religion, while utterly ignoring the phenomenon of suicide bombing. But then also implying or inferring that there is something unique about Islam that justifies any reaction whatsoever.

Toward the end of his talk, he said, "you must remember that there are 1.4 billion Muslims" (and also that their percentage of the world's population is growing fast), clearly implying that all of them are ready to turn to violence, if non-Muslims do not engage in a (one-way) dialogue with them.

Ron Thompson

Submitting....

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