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November 15, 2004
AP: Muslim Extremists Increase "Fault Lines" In Islam

Using the brutal murder of Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands and a Buddhist worker in Thailand, the AP reports that Islam has increasingly become unmoored from the wider world, and that even Muslims now concede that extremists have hijacked the Religion of Peace to excuse their murder sprees:

"The fault lines are growing," said Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle Eastern and International Affairs at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. "It's not just between the Muslims and non-Muslims. It's also within Islam itself. It's a battle between moderate Muslims and extremist forces that threaten to hijack Islam."

The most recent hot spots zigzag around the atlas from Liberia in West Africa to the Netherlands to Southeast Asia. They join a growing roster of places already feeling the strains of religious conflict and terrorism along the edges of the Islamic world regions as diverse as Chechnya, Nigeria, Spain, Central Asia and the Philippines. Even China is worried about separatist sentiment in its vast and mostly Muslim western province of Xinjiang. ...

In Amsterdam, a moderate imam, Abdel Eillah, feared the scales were tipping in a troubling direction among Muslim immigrants in Europe who fail to adapt.

"When I hear young men praise violence in the name of Islam, I fear for my faith and I fear for the world. We must fight it before it's too late," he said after the Nov. 2 slaying of Van Gogh, whose work included harsh commentary against traditional Islam. "I didn't like what Van Gogh said, but he should not pay with blood."

The problem is that too few voices such as Eillah's are being heard from within Islam, and that springs from the funding received by mosques, which overwhelmingly comes from radical sources. Wahhabists and other radical followers of Islam gather huge sums of money and open mosques and madrassas to sermonize about killing Jews and conducting jihad against the West. Either moderate Muslims need to step up their funding of tolerant imams and rational madrassas to instruct the faithful, or they will be overwhelmed by the nutcases -- and their religion will mark them as enemies of freedom and liberty.

The failure of moderate Muslims to speak clearly against the violence and their haste in making excuses for it has been disappointing, especially after 9/11. They issue statements that deplore killing, but then accuse the West of keeping Southwest Asia in a state of poverty and point to our support of Israel as an antagonizing action for Muslims. Even if both were true, nothing excuses the primary targeting and murder of civilians as a means of political expression, and moderate Islam seems to have trouble acknowledging this.

People keep repeating that Islam is a Religion of Peace and that true Islam rejects terrorism. If they want people to believe that and treat Muslims with respect as allies and brothers in freedom, then the so-called true Islam had better start taking a more public stand in combatting the radical mosques and madrassas. Otherwise, they start resembling little more than an Islamic Sinn Fein, a palatable front for what amounts to an Arabic version of Murder, Inc.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 15, 2004 5:36 AM

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Tracked on November 15, 2004 7:53 AM

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