September 7, 2010
Americans waking up to Islamism?Topics: Political News and commentaries, Understanding Islam
David Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, says that he is encouraged over America's reaction to the Ground Zero mosque, but has a couple of reservations. Although its Pipes, not me, that's the expert on Islam, I have some reservations about his reservations.
[...] The furor over the Islamic center variously called the Ground Zero mosque, Cordoba House and Park 51 has large implications for the future of Islam in the US and perhaps beyond.Pipes goes on to caution against failing to distinquish between Islam (the faith) - and Islamism (the radical ideology):
The debate is as unexpected as it is extraordinary. One would have thought that the event that made Islam a national issue would be an act of terrorism. Or the discovery that Islamists had penetrated the US security services. Or the dismaying results of survey research. Or an apologetic presidential speech.
But no, something symbolic roiled the body politic - " the prospect of a mosque in close proximity to the World Trade Center's former location.
What began as a local zoning issue has morphed into a national debate with potential foreign-policy repercussions.
Its symbolic quality fit a pattern established in other Western countries: Islamic coverings on females spurred repeated national debates in France from 1989 onward.
The Swiss banned the building of minarets. The murder of Theo van Gogh profoundly affected the Netherlands, as did the publication of anti- Muhammad cartoons in Denmark.
Oddly, only after the Islamic center's location had generated weeks of controversy did the issue of individuals, organizations and funding behind the project finally come to the fore. Personally, I do not object to a truly moderate Muslim institution near Ground Zero; conversely, I object to an Islamist institution being constructed anywhere.
Indeed, building the center in such close proximity to Ground Zero, given the intense emotions aroused, will likely redound against the longterm interests of Muslims in the US.
[...] The energetic push-back of recent months finds me partially elated: Those who reject Islamism and all its works now constitute a majority and are on the march. For the first time in 15 years, I feel I may be on the winning team.Although Pipes is indeed an expert on Islam and Islamism, and yes America does indeed appear to be waking up to Islamism, based on the creeping sharia America continues to experience, isn't the only difference between Islam the faith and Islamism the radical ideology a matter of degrees of separation? After all, in his piece titled "Islam and Islamism - Faith and Ideology" Pipes himself essenially says as much. And aren't all prominent groups that claim to be representatives of America's Muslims - groups like CAIR, ISNA, the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations' (CCMO) - Islsmist and have ties to the radical Muslim Brotherhood? At what point does a Muslim become an Islamist, what is the impetus of change, and how can non-Muslim Americans trust that a Muslim isn't or will not become and Islamist? Could it be that the difference has to do with degrees of patience in bringing sharia to America?
But I have one concern: the team's increasing anti-Islamic tone. Misled by the Islamists' insistence that there is no such thing as "moderate Islam," my allies often fail to distinguish between Islam (a faith) and Islamism (a radical utopian ideology aiming to implement Islamic law in its totality). This amounts not just to an intellectual error but a policy dead-end. Targeting all Muslims conflicts with basic Western notions, lumps friends together with foes, and ignores the inescapable fact that Muslims alone can offer an antidote to Islamism. As I often note, radical Islam is the problem, and moderate Islam is the solution.
This lesson learned, the defeat of Islamism can come into sight.
Put another way, I'm not quite as encouraged as Pipes, especially when I learn that the Obama administration is using taxpayer dollars to fund Islamist groups formation of their own version of ACORN.
Posted by Richard at September 7, 2010 7:44 AM
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