Demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they carry the
group’s flags in Iraq. Photo: Associated Pres via National Post
In the era when Communism was the big global threat, we used to be able to say, with impunity, that Marxism could exist without Communism but Communism would not exist without Marx; that fellow travellers in the West who purposefully infiltrated key political institutions in the service of the Communist revolution were a grave threat to democracy; and that informing the public about their methods was a civic duty, not hate speech against socialists.
Today it is the reverse. Islamism is the gravest global threat, but one is pilloried for saying the obvious: there can be an Islam without Islamism, but no Islamism without Islam. It is considered racism to inform the public about the stealth jihad being carried out by fellow-travellers of jihadism. And our leaders seem to be more concerned about offending Muslims than they are with defeating jihadism.
This makes no sense to me. Here is some information that should be widely known, but isn’t for the reasons stated above.
There are about three million Muslims in America, and roughly 300 of them have been convicted of jihadism in some form — financial support, weapon supply and other criminal acts up to and including murder — since 9/11. The numbers are increasing every year. Last year, at least 80 people were charged in the U.S. in jihad-related cases. But homegrown jihadism of the lone-wolf variety is difficult to predict since, like Canadian Parliament Hill terrorist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, most have no previous record.
President Obama does not help matters when he says, as he did on a CNN show about terrorism, “It’s very important for us to align ourselves with the 99.9 per cent of Muslims who are looking for the same thing we’re looking for.” That’s a number Obama conjured from thin air to comfort himself and to chill honest conversation on the subject. He really has no idea of the breakdown in opinions on the question of what Muslims in general “are looking for.”
But if such a breakdown is something that interests you, I recommend a short, but highly informative video in the Clarion Project’s “Challenging Extremism/Promoting Dialogue” series, animated by Canadian Muslim reformist Raheel Raza, entitled, “The Untold Story of Muslim Opinions and Demographics.” Raza, a Sunni Muslim devoted to democracy and pluralism, who has been speaking out against the “disease” of radical Islam for 20 years, is a Canadian treasure. Passionate, transparent and fearless (she has received many fatwas and death threats for her outspoken views), she is a great ambassador for her faith. And very angry at those who would patronize her by pretending that the problem lies with a few “horrible bad people” (as politically correct actor Ben Affleck put it) and not, as she proceeds to tell us, with a very disturbing percentage of the global Islamic population.
Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion, with 1.6 billion Muslims today, and set to surpass Christianity in numbers within the century. So even though the core jihadists are a tiny percentage of the whole, there are plenty of them – up to 200,000 in the Islamic State alone, with many hundreds of thousands in other terrorist groups.
If it were only core jihadists we had to contend with, we wouldn’t have much to fear. Unfortunately the terrorist core is surrounded by circles that are more or less supportive of jihadist goals: the Muslim Brotherhood and the organization CAIR, for example, are composed of Islamists who eschew violence themselves, but support triumphalist Islam through legal means: political/institutional memberships, lawfare and relentless promotion of a demonstrably mythic, but guilt-inducing “Islamophobia.”
The largest group of concern are those Muslims who are neither Islamist or jihad-supportive, but hold beliefs in retrograde cultural practices that cannot co-exist in harmony with western civilization. In-depth Pew research finds that 27 per cent of Sharia-supportive Muslims — 237 million — believe apostates should be executed, and 39 per cent — 345 million — believe honour killings of girls and women are sometimes or always justified. In Muslim-majority countries, 281 million Muslims support cutting off hands and stonings to death as punishments for proscribed behaviours like (female) adultery and homosexuality. Happily, relatively speaking, while support for terrorism is high in Islamic countries, fewer than 10 per cent of American Muslims (about 300,000) say they agree that terrorism — i.e., killing civilians — is sometimes justified to defend Islam, with the numbers significantly elevated in Europe.
There are people who will say it is fear-mongering or Islamophobic to discuss these numbers. Doubtless President Obama would find it distasteful. Based on his actions and statements, so, alas, might Prime Minister Trudeau. But pretending these numbers don’t exist, pretending that “extremism” is a random virus that strikes without warning and is completely detached from a belief system has been a strategy tried and found wanting. Having an honest conversation with lucid, reform-minded Muslims like Raheel Raza might be a more fruitful way to go. You can join the conversation.
Barbara Kay is a columnist for Canada’s National Post, where this article was first published. It is reproduced here with permission.