In a recent comment, American Mick despairs: “Iâ€™ve come to realize there will be no coherent response from a Moslem to the genuine questions and concise points of logic raised here. I think most of us here to genuinely want some greater mutual understanding, but we may be beating our heads against a wall…. It would be nice to hear a Moslem express appropriate outrage over terrorism, just as Moslems expect – and see – American outrage over Abu Ghuraib and Iraq.”
I sympathize with such despair, since I often feel that way about the callous way in which many Americans accept the violence of their own government. But just as there are many Americans who (invisibly to foreign eyes) are agitating for a more responsible, humane, moral American government and society, so there are many Muslims who (invisible to American eyes) are agitating for a more responsible, humane, moral set of Muslim governments and societies. All you have to do is take a few moments to open your eyes and look for these groups, and you’ll find them.
Last week, I took a moment to mention the efforts of the Progressive Muslim Union. Today, I’d like to turn your attention to the Free Muslims Coalition, with chapters in the United States, Canada and Egypt.
Regarding the recent and ongoing brouhaha over cartoon images of Mohammed, the Free Muslims Coalition writes:
The controversy intensified on Wednesday when a French news paper, printed a new drawing on its front page showing Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy figures sitting on a cloud, with the caption “Don’t worry Muhammad, we’ve all been caricatured here”.
The response by Muslims to the cartoons is absolutely pathetic and depressing but revealing. The reason Muslims are responding with anger and threats of violence is because most Muslims live in countries where democracy and freedom of speech are alien concepts.
Moreover, the Muslim world suffers from a lack of visionary leadership. In this particular case, when Muslim leaders, including American Muslim leaders, realized that Muslims are furious they joined the chorus of fury rather than explain to their people that they must be reasonable and that freedom of speech is healthy even if it is insulting.
Democracy is rule by the people; a system of free choice where rulers are elected and held accountable by their constituents. The element of free choice of leaders is an explosive topic right now in the Middle East & North Africa. If fair and free elections were held tomorrow, the majority of Arab countries would probably elect totalitarian leaders with an intolerant pro-Islamist agenda. The election of extremists would spell death to democracy. We must first expel Islamic extremists and terrorists from Arab and Muslim societies before democracy sweeps the region.
The Coalition supports the right of all peoples to self government, but recognizes the importance of a solid system of government which guarantees a secular democracy protecting the rights of all people, regardless of gender, race or religion, and strives tirelessly to eliminate threats to democracy including extremism and terrorism. The Coalition fosters this secular environment by opening debates on the prerequisite of secularism in governments in the Middle East & North Africa, rallying against Islamist propaganda in media outlets, in institutions of education and in political campaigns, and by exploring the creation of secular democracy-preserving constitutions for Arab and Muslim countries.
The Coalition believes that Muslims must be reeducated about the benefits of secularism and that the failure of their governments to bring them peace and prosperity was not because they were secular. The Coalition also believes that democracy can not succeed unless terrorism is defeated and Islamic extremism is discredited.
The Free Muslims Coalition believes that there can NEVER be a justification for terrorism.
The Coalition believes that fundamentalist Islamic terror represents one of the most lethal threats to the stability of the civilized world. The existence of Islamic terrorists is the existence of threats to democracy. There is no room for terrorism in the modern world and the United States should take a no-tolerance stance on terrorism in order to avoid another tragedy, along the lines of 9-11. With the added threat of biochemical weapons, the call to defeat terrorism has never been so urgent.
Among Islamic scholars, the concept of jihad ranges in definition from the personal struggle against temptation to holy war. All calls for jihad to create an Islamic state should be rejected as heretic and a threat to modern society. The Coalition feels that the concept of jihad should be reinterpreted for a modern day context in which holy war is obsolete. No holy war needs to be waged; there is no clear and present threat to Islam; the only war that needs to be waged in the modern world is one against terrorists and extremists.
Another disturbing trend that is heavily propagated by extremists and accepted by many naive Arabs and Muslims is the blaming of all Muslim problems on “the Jews.” There are numerous examples for this but most recently news broadcasts out of Iraq quoted Iraqi victims of violence who blamed the bombings on Jews or a Jewish conspiracy.
Many Arabs and Muslims still blame the 9-11 attacks on a Jewish conspiracy that was allegedly perpetrated to demonize Arabs and Muslims in the eyes of the world.
One of the most recent and tragic examples of unjustified hate towards Jews was the brutal murder of Daniel Pearl. Daniel Pearl was a journalist murdered by Islamic extremists in Pakistan who had never met a Jew, and the only knowledge they had about Jews was the tireless propaganda from Muslim extremists throughout the world blaming Jews for all of the worldï¿½s problems. The extremists targeted and murdered Daniel Pearl because he was a Jew.
Our research indicates that one of the modern origins of this trend is the mutual demonization by Israelis and Arabs of each other to gain global support for each other’s causes. This pattern includes the Arab mediaï¿½s ceaseless reference to the falsified document, the Protocols of Zion. The Coalition strongly urges Muslims and Arabs to refrain from demonizing Jews and stop blaming Jews for all of the world’s problems. The Coalition also urges Israelis to stop demonizing Arabs and Muslims who peacefully advocate for the rights of Palestinians.
American liberals have allies in the Muslim world, if we will only open our eyes and look for them.