Terrorists have shot and blown up 132 people (at last count) in Paris. ISIS has claimed responsibility and says this is just the beginning of the wave.
And immediately my Facebook feed is flooded with posts and articles saying that those terrorists aren’t Muslims, that this has nothing to do with Islam. During the Democratic debate last night, non of the candidates wanted to refer to the killers as Islamic extremists or Islamic fundamentalists; they fell over one another in their haste to say that Islam is a peaceful religion.
One article that I’ve seen over the past two days–I’m not going to attempt to retrieve it–puts things in perspective by pointing out that there are over two billion Muslims and that maybe ten thousand of them are terrorists. All the other Muslims are peaceful.
I suppose that depends on your definition of “peaceful”.
I would include in the number of violent Muslims the following: all the Muslims who force women and girls–as young as nine years old–into marriage; all the Muslims who rape women and girls within marriage, all the Muslim warlords and army officers who keep prepubescent boys as sex slaves; all the Muslims who beat their wives because the Koran says they should; all the Muslims who keep their wives and daughters lifelong prisoners in their houses, or who only let them go outside in a burka and/or accompanied by a male relative; all the Muslims who forbid women and girls an education; all the Muslims who beat women in public for not wearing gloves, all the Muslims who take part in hysterical mass riots whenever someone somewhere in the world has made a cartoon about Mohammed; all the Muslims who beat women and girls and cut off body parts because they did something like walking outside alone, all the Muslims who kidnap their western-raised daughters to marry them off in the Middle-East; all the Muslims who kill their own daughters in “honor” killings; all the Muslims who kill or throw acid into the faces of girls on their way to school, all the Muslims who beat to death and set fire to a woman based on a rumor that she burned a book; all the Muslims who kill former Muslims for apostacy; all the Muslims who are involved in stoning women to death for having sex outside of marriage; all the Muslims who gather in soccer stadiums to watch stonings and beheadings of women as a form of weekend recreation; all the Muslims who subject young girls to unimaginable torture by cutting and scraping off their clitoris and their labia and then sewing the outer labia almost completely closed, all without any anesthesia, and resulting in lifelong pain and infections; all the Muslims fighting with ISIS, the Taliban and other militants groups fighting to establish sharia. And I am generous in not including all the Muslims who kill one another because they are of the wrong branch of Islam, because often other factors are also in play.
Either way, I’d say that the number of Muslims who practice a peaceful religion as we in the west understand the term is decidedly less than two billion minus ten thousand terrorists. But I digress.
To say that these terrorists aren’t Muslims is just as ridiculous as saying that the members of the Westboro Baptist Church are not Christians. Yes they are. They do what they do in the name of their god. ISIS wants to establish a caliphate that is ruled by sharia. They yell that their god is great as they kill people.
Of course this doesn’t mean that other Muslims are responsible for these guys, and yes, even when you take away the above mentioned brutal folks, that still leaves a vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful. But I think that most people are smart enough to accept both truths at the same time: The majority of Muslims are peaceful but these terrorists are also Muslims. And though I have no idea how extremism can be stopped, I do think that it starts with acknowledging where it comes from. Former Muslims know this. Parisians know this; they ask on Facebook not to pray for Paris because they have enough religion there already.
Every religion is practiced peacefully by most, and every religion also has its dangerous fanatics. That’s what these terrorists are. We can discuss why this extremism exists and why it appeals to young Muslims in the west and we can see what we can do to prevent it taking hold in the west, but we’re not going to get anywhere if we deny that this extremism involves some very serious religious brainwashing.
Trying to eradicate ISIS by killing as many ISIS fighters as possible isn’t going to work. I’m not saying that those thugs should not be killed, just that their numbers are not going to decrease. Like al Qaeda, they might be temporarily weakened at some point, but they will pop up again under another name and under another leader.
As long as the extreme Islamic ideology that breeds these men is alive and kicking, terror attacks like these will keep happening. Moderate Muslims in the Middle-East can’t stop it because ISIS, the Taliban, etc. use such overwhelming and brutal force that the people have no choice but to get killed, join them or flee.
How do you kill an ideology? I have absolutely no idea. Anybody?