The Middle East is a hotbed of extremism. Moderates are pushed aside and risk their lives by simply trying to promote a reconciliation conducent to peace. While we must critizice the extremism and violence that characterizes Israeli attacks and abuse on Palestinians and Arabs, fairness imposes an equal responsibility to condemn terrorist extremists constantly emerging in the Arab world and their increasing threat to the free World. Asali and Ibish present (below) a critique of extremist ideas in the Arab and Muslim world that should be taken seriously by moderate Arabs and Muslims around the world. As we justly resist any attempt to blame all Jews for the behavior of the Israeli government and its repressive policies against Palestinians, we resist any attempts to blame Islam itself or all Arabs or all Muslims for the violent assault on Christians (or Jews) that take place both in the discourse and actions of most Arab and Muslim extremists. However, we cannot dismiss their threat or minimize its importance. The free World must face them in a united front in order to survive.
Honesty and Hypocrisy in Facing Terrorism
Ziad Asali & Hussein Ibish
The murderous bomb attacks against Christian communities in Egypt and Iraq have been roundly condemned by most political and religious leaders, commentators and public opinion in the Arab world.
Jan 3.─ They have also been met with an outpouring of passionate condemnation by ordinary people who have taken to the streets to express anger and demand justice. People have sensed the danger to their whole society inherent in such atrocities. The Alexandria church massacre could be a wake-up call to reverse dangerous trends, or it may be the beginning of unraveling of the bonds that keep people of different faiths and backgrounds together as citizens.
However, the effort to place the blame solely on outsiders or extremists for these attacks glosses over a much deeper and more troubling context. While there is little sympathy for the outrageous crimes of the fanatic extremists outside of their own ranks, these murderous radicals are in fact taking some prevalent societal attitudes to a cold bloodied and logical, albeit extreme, conclusion. Emerging out of a pervasive reality of powerlessness and inequity, political trends in the Arab world have given rise to a belligerent chauvinistic sensibility that has increasingly valorized the Islamic identity and regarded the rest of the world, especially the West, with deep suspicion and hostility.
These attitudes are promoted from the top down, through government-sponsored media, educational and religious institutions, and from the bottom up, in the home at the dinner table and online through a social media echo-chamber featuring a radical chic discourse aimed at restless young people. The worst ideas generally come from Islamist religious institutions, leaders and political opposition groups, which frequently argue that there is not only a conspiracy against the Arabs to prevent their development, but a global campaign to destroy Islam itself. Moderate voices who view the world in political rather than religious terms are outnumbered and function outside the parameters and comfort of political correctness. They try valiantly to stand for universal values while having to contend with constant intimidation because of their principled opposition to extremism ...
[ Full text ]