The lies we tell ourselves about moderate Islam

Fundamentally Freund: President Barack Obama and much of the Western press seem to have difficulty saying in close proximity to one another: ‘Islamic’ and ‘terror.’

Pakistanis holding Bin Laden poster 370 (photo credit: Naseer Ahmed / Reuters)
Pakistanis holding Bin Laden poster 370
(photo credit: Naseer Ahmed / Reuters)
The past few weeks have been difficult ones for the United States and its allies, as they received some painful reminders that the war on terror is far from over.
In a dastardly attack on April 15, two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, killing three people, wounding 264 others and leaving more than two dozen amputees. A week later, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced that they had arrested two people in a plot to attack a passenger train heading to Toronto from New York.
There were other incidents as well. On April 18, gunmen stormed a hotel in the Kenyan town of Garissa and sprayed bullets into the restaurant, killing 10.
And on April 28, two assassins opened fire on army intelligence officers in the town of Lamitan in the Philippines, killing two people.
What all these episodes have in common is one highly conspicuous fact: they were all carried out by Muslim terrorists bent on killing as many “infidels” as possible.
Indeed, despite an ongoing avalanche of violence being perpetrated around the world by Muslim extremists, there are two words President Barack Obama and much of the Western press seem to have difficulty saying in close proximity to one another: “Islamic” and “terror.”
They would rather soothe themselves – and us – into complacency, as if refusing to call something by its name will magically make it go away.
Take, for example, a May 4 Associated Press story about the prison sentence being sought by US prosecutors against Manssor Arbabsiar for his 2011 plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Arbabsiar, who admitted that he had been sent by Iranian intelligence and that he had “no problem” with the possibility of causing mass casualties, is described by the AP as a “Texas man” and a “US citizen with an Iranian passport,” as though either of these had anything to do with his motivation.
Nowhere in the story does the vaunted news agency bother to state what we all know: Arbabsiar was an Islamic terrorist.
This kind of self-deception and denial might provide some fleeting sense of comfort, but it obscures the very nature of the threat that we are all facing. It is bad enough that the media is playing this game, but it is far more worrisome that the Obama administration is doing so as well.
As commentator Charles Krauthammer recently pointed out, Obama “won’t use any words that might imply a connection between radical Islam and terrorism, which anyone over the age of nine knows is the single greatest cause of terror in the world today. This matters because you have to be clear with your own people about who the enemy is.”
Making matters worse is the fact that we like to lie to ourselves and stress repeatedly that moderation prevails in the Muslim world and that only a small band of Islamic extremists support the use of violence.
If only that were the case! But the facts most assuredly indicate otherwise.
On April 30, the Pew Research Center issued the results of a wide-ranging survey, “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society,” which entailed more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews conducted in over 80 languages with Muslims on four continents.
Among the more chilling findings – and there are plenty – relate to the question of support for suicide bombings. It turns out that 40 percent of Palestinians, 29% of Egyptians and 15% of Jordanians say they believe suicide bombings and other attacks targeting civilians are justified to defend Islam.
At first glance this may look reassuring; a majority of those surveyed disagree.
But consider how vast the number of people supporting such attacks is: out of Egypt’s population of 82.5 million, a whopping 24 million think it is OK to strap explosives to one’s chest and detonate them in a crowd of innocent people. If even 1% of these Egyptians are willing to actually carry out such an attack, it would mean there are a potential 240,000 suicide bombers in the Nile state alone.
And the problem is not confined to the Middle East.
According to Pew, nearly 1 in 5 Malaysians, 1 in 4 Bangladeshis and 1 in 7 Pakistanis also endorse suicide attacks. That translates into 5 million Malaysians, 37 million Bangladeshis and 23 million Pakistanis who see nothing wrong with suicide bombings.
Sure, there are plenty of honest and decent Muslims out there who want peace and quiet. But it is time we stop deceiving ourselves into thinking that moderate Islam is more prevalent than it really is. To win the war of civilizations that is currently taking place, we need to recognize the cold, hard truth that is staring us all in the face: there are tens of millions of Islamic extremists out there who support jihad against Israel and the West.
And no amount of wishful thinking or political correctness is going to make them go away.