* The term "anti-Jihadist" is one of many applied to those who are active in opposing extremist Islam. Within the community of activists itself, it seems to be gaining traction. I use the term here because it implies that we are not against Muslims per se, rather we are against the advancement of sharia into Western society, and we oppose any effort to advance Islam as the dominant religion and/or political ideology in the West.
The term "Islamist" is considered as a Muslim who is on a "jihad" to advance Islam to be dominant in the world and sharia as a universal law.
When I first joined the anti-Jihad movement about 6 years ago, it was when I realized that there was a problem of anti-Semitism on the UC Irvine campus, where I teach. This problem comes to the fore every May when the Muslim Student Union puts on their annual anti-Israel farce, which lasts from Monday to Friday. Soon afterward, I began Fousesquawk, which is a general conservative blog, but devotes a lot of space to the threat of radical Islam. Like almost all Americans, I was outraged by 9-11, but like most Americans, did not hold all Muslims responsible ( and I still don't). In the subsequent years, I have learned much about Islam, both as a religion and as a political ideology. I have become convinced more than ever that its legal code, sharia, has no place in a free and open Western society. There is no need to expound on that here because I have many times on this site. Having been involved in the anti-Jihad movement over the past few years, I would like to share my personal perspective on how I think the best way to conduct it at the grass roots level is. I will focus on the American scene, which is different than in Europe, whose problems are much more advanced.
First and foremost, criticism of Islam must be based on the principle of human rights. It is human rights for which we are fighting. We are fighting against hate, intolerance and violence. There is a wide sector of our society which is uninformed about the nature of Islamism. Most Americans of our era have been brought up in the spirit of tolerance and a rejection of certain chapters of our past, which was stained with various degrees of racism and discrimination. That is particularly true of our college-age young people. Organizations like CAIR have been quite skillful in portraying American Muslims as a victimized group of people. They are looking for the slightest sign of bias or intolerance coming from any sector of our society-but especially the anti-Jihad activists.
If we are truly going to educate the public as to the threat of Supremist Islam, then we need to stress the human rights aspect of our argument. Our objection to Islam is not and should not be based on it being practiced by brown-skinned people from other countries who worship a different prophet. If that were the case, there would be an anti-Buddhist movement in this country. There is not.
What is it that we object to?
Murder of innocent people of other faiths
Second class status for women
Persecution of gays
The idea that a death sentence is the proper punishment for women who commit adultery, homosexuals, blasphemers, and apostates.
The idea that there should be no separation between religion and the State.
Is that not human rights?
Yet, the Islamists and their allies in America have succeeded in putting a label on our efforts.
It is a term they themselves coined only a couple of decades ago in an effort to silence their critics. Never mind that it is a tricky word to actually define; they use it non-stop. It should be ignored.
That leads to another point that we must stress; our freedom of speech, which is under attack. As we speak, the 56-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation is engaged in a full scale attempt to get a resolution through the UN that member nations should outlaw "defamation of religions". How curious since most if not all of their own countries persecute non-Muslim minorities. The only religion they really care about is their own. In our arguments, we must stress that our right of free speech is being threatened. Our own secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has met with the OIC at least two times behind closed doors on this issue.In addition, European countires already prosecute people for what they term "hate speech". Ask Geert Wilders in The Netherlands. Ask Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria. If you think our First Amendment gives us absolute freedom to openly discuss Islam, sharia, the life of Muhammad, etc, ask yourself whether our Second Amendment is absolute and has no restrictions. If President Obama gets one more left-wing activist on the Supreme Court, he will have a majority. Then what? The bottom line is that in this day and age, with the Middle East moving rapidly into Islamic takeover, the West is under threat from Islamic terror and efforts to push sharia law into our own court system. Freedom of speech is only one of the rights we could lose. It is not only about human rights, it is also about freedom and keeping the freedoms we have. The discussion about Islam is legitimate and must continue even if sensibilities are offended.
Yet, we do ourselves a disservice if we act in a manner that is truly intolerant. I am not talking about the tolerance as exercised by Europeans, who are tolerating intolerance towards Jews and even themselves by certain Muslims in the very name of tolerance. I am talking about treating innocent American Muslims as non-Muslims in Islamic lands are being treated. I would argue-and have argued over and over- that such is not the case in America as it is alleged by CAIR and their allies. On the other hand, spending a lot of time in the blogosphere and reading comments in the various threads, there are a lot of ugly statements made about Muslims in general, which I think are unfortunate and do not help the dialogue.
One example is the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his marriage to Aisha, who was 6 at the time and 9 when the marriage was consummated-according to which account you read. Don't get me wrong; given what is going on in the world today, everything that pertains to Islam should be open for serious discussion and debate, and that includes the life and sayings of Muhammad. As stated above, The Organization of the Islamic Cooperation is, as we speak, trying to get laws passed world-wide that would criminalize any criticism of Islam or insult to their prophet. This must be fiercely resisted.
As to the Muhammad issue, I think it is also fair-and necessary to inform the uninformed that Muhammad was a warrior, who spread Islam by the sword. That is legitimate and crucial to understanding Islam itself. What gives me pause is when some take the Aisha issue and reduce it to a screaming poster with the words, "pedophile" or "child rapist" affixed. Whatever, the truth is, on a college campus, especially, that is not going to be effective.
When I mention human rights, I am also talking about the human rights of American Muslims, many of whom may not wish to be subject to sharia law in America. Some may have immigrated to escape sharia. The idea that we would even think of allowing sharia to be practiced within Muslim communities is unacceptable. Does that mean that in a criminal or civil proceeding, a woman's testimony is worth half of that of a man's? Does that mean that we turn a blind eye to so-called "honor killings" of disobedient wives or daughters? Does that mean that a Muslim whose sexual orientation is gay may be "punished"-by death? Does it mean that we should condone the killing of Muslims who choose to leave their faith without affording them the protection guaranteed under our own laws?
As anti-Jihadists, we have an obligation to resist creeping sharia in America. We have an obligation to educate the public as to what really is involved. We have an obligation to educate them as to what is happening in the Islamic nations and even in Europe today. We have an obligation to identify and expose the bad characters, both those who openly preach hate and Islamic conquest-like Abdul Alim Musa-and those who are lying to the public and putting forth a false face of peace, understanding, and moderation, like CAIR. We have an obligation to go to events designed to fool the public and expose the lies. We have an obligation to face the anti-Semitic and anti-American hate mongers like Amir Abdel Malik Ali when they speak on college campuses and expose them for what they are. We have an obligation to criticize the enablers within our society who would surrender our country to the Islamists in the name of tolerance and diversity. We have an obligation to defend Western civilization from the constant drumbeat of post-colonial condemnation, which is designed to weaken it from within. We have an obligation to fight the advance of what would be a dark tyranny over the land. We have an obligation to inform the public that our First Amendment rights are truly in danger. (They have already been lost in Europe.) We have an obligation to talk about each and every instance of violence and murder against other religions around the world. And yes, we have an obligation to focus on the latest terror attack or plot foiled whether it be in the US, Europe, Middle East, Pakistan, or Africa.
Freedom of speech and human rights.
At the same time, we must also appeal to peoples' reason. The arguments are all on our side. At the same time, we need to remember that there are Muslims out there like Zuhdi Jasser, who, while maintaining his religion, is willing to confront the ones who seek conquest and a global caliphate. We must also remember and support the apostates like Nonie Darwish, who have put their very lives on the line to speak the truth. We must encourage others to speak out including those who are truly questioning the hateful doctrines within their own faith.
Last Monday, I attended an event at UC Irvine, where Robert Spencer, Nonie Darwish and Raymond Ibrahim spoke. Their presentations were spot on, but with about a dozen exceptions, they were speaking to an audience of older folks from the community who were already true believers. The students stayed away. I believe those who did come had their eyes opened. One young lady said as much. But why did so few come and so many stay away? In the words of another female student at the event, students were turned off by a table on the campus by a student group that organized the event which had bloody and inflammatory visuals.
Does that mean that our arguments should not include such images? Not at all, but it is a matter of how they are presented to which audience.
In another controversy, what should be our response to the building of more mosques within our communities? The recent controversy over the construction of the Murfreesboro mega-mosque in Tennessee is a good example. When documentary film maker Eric Allen Bell went there to make a movie, he couldn't understand why the citizens would deny local Muslims a place to worship. The more he learned, however, he realized that the objections had merit. He learned that the normal procedures for approval were circumvented. Worse, he learned that organizers of the mosque project had Hamas sympathies. As a result, Bell became an outspoken critic of the mosque-at great personal loss to himself. He was not only abandoned by his circle of friends in Hollywood and saw his career short-circuited, he is currently living under numerous death threats, principally because he was falsely accused of involvement in the conttroversial video, "The Innocence of Muslims"..
As to mosques in general, there should be no objection if they are truly places of worship and not centers for subversive and hateful preaching. Unfortunately, many mosques in America are places where sermons preach contempt for infidels and Western values. They are stocked by radical clerics, many sent to the US from Saudi Arabia to push the Wahhabist version of Islam. Intelligence estimates are varied as to how many mosques are places of extremist thought, but some are as high as 65-80%. As anti-Jihadists, we have every right to be concerned about such mosques and expose them when appropriate while at the same time respecting the right of innocent Muslims to worship.
Finally, we need to weigh our words and actions carefully in that we don't cross the line into hating Muslims as people. We need to remind ourselves that there are millions of them who simply want to lead peaceful lives and take care of their families. It is true that most are afraid to speak out because it is considered blasphemous to criticize Islam (or can be construed as blasphemous by any Islamist). We have the right to speak out on the issues of the day, and we must insist on that right. We should use it in a manner that makes it clear we stand for freedom and human rights and that it is our enemies who are the haters-not us.
This is just my personal viewpoint, and I know other anti-Jihadists may disagree with some of these points. I am fully on board with the idea that someday in the future, we may have to be willing to die for what we believe-or possibly go to jail for merely expressing our beliefs if a tyrannical goverment comes to power that would strip us of our First Amendment rights. I also believe that this current president and his attorney general would like to do that right now if they could. Putting all that aside, however, if we are going to be successful in educating the public to the threat, we have to reach the young generation. I think the above approach is the best way to accomplish that.