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Guilty by Connotation

Reader comment on item: Do Moderate Muslims Exist?

Submitted by John Maszka (United Arab Emirates), Apr 25, 2019 at 23:04

Mr. Pipes' distinction between Muslims and "fundamentalists" is inaccurate at best and very misleading for those who don't actually understand the difference. For example, his 1995 article "There Are No Moderates: Dealing with Fundamentalist Islam" (and even his comments above) insist that Muslims and fundamentalist Muslims are mutually exclusive-that it's impossible to be both at the same time. However, this caricature of Islam reeks of Orientalism and willful ignorance. Islam is no different than any other religion. It has adherents that fall along a wide continuum from the most nominal to the very devout-none of which necessarily involve violence. Fundamentalists (of any religious background) lean toward a strict, and sometimes literal, interpretation of the scriptures they revere.Most fundamentalists are devout, not fanatical. There's a difference. Fundamentalism in no way equates to violent extremism. The fact that a minute percentage of adherents to any religious faith resort to violence is unfortunate, but this fact in no way implicates the vast majority who do not.

Many born-again Christians accurately fit the definition of fundamentalism as well. However (and unfortunately), the denotation of the word is very different from its sensational and much-abused connotation, which conjures up images of suicide bombers screaming, "Allah O Akbar," and slaughtering innocent women and children. It is just as ridiculous to label all fundamentalists Muslims as violent extremists as it is to assume that all fundamentalists Christians are.

As for Mr. Pipes' objection to the assertion that he is an Islamophobe, I'll let the facts speak for themselves. The Urban Dictionary defines an Islamophobe as someone who believes that "Islam promotes violence, barbarism, terrorism, persecution, women oppression..." Mr. Pipes' insistence that all fundamentalist Muslims are violent basically alleges that in order to be a devout Muslim, one has to be violent. His attempts to defend his position with his many references to "moderate Muslims" only further reveals his true ideology and is akin to the racists who always tell you that they have many "Negro" friends. I doubt it.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

Emily Shalev (@emshalev) replied at the Gatestone Institute, where this article originally appeared, to this identical comment. I can't do better than to quote her here:

@Johnmaszka: you have not responded to the actual content of Dr. Pipes article - nor specifically to any of the allegations made on the level of your academic integrity.

In the 1995 article by Dr. Pipes, which you reference, there appears the opening sentence of the 5th paragraph: "Though anchored in religious creed, fundamentalist Islam is a radical utopian movement closer in spirit to other such movements...". Thus Pipes clearly acknowledges that Islam & Fundamentalist Islam are not mutually exclusive. If you had bothered to read the article (which was in many ways prescient) you would have realized that Pipes is NOT claiming that there is no moderate Islam, but rather, that among the fundamentalists moderation is absent or scarce.

Your sloppy, self-congratulatory response, clearly re-enforces the validity of the allegations made in the body of Dr. Pipes' article.

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