A few further thoughts. First off, another blast of contempt for the kind of warped mind (former Marxist David Horowitz’s) that can produce a piece of excrescence like this, and for the kind of degenerate magazine (National Review) that would actually publish it. The complete conflation of ISIS with American Muslims is so foul, and the use of such hatred for further religious warfare abroad so perilous, one has to hope it was a piece of high-trolling. But it isn’t. Horowitz and Geller are the most vicious of McCarthyite bigots, and need to be exposed and countered at every turn.
Second, a recommendation of this piece by M. A. Muqtedar Khan. This is a vital point:
Muslim scholars have tried to counteract the threat [of violent extremists] but their biggest error in doing so is that they limit their condemnation to political extremism without also condemning the theological extremism that underpins it. For example, when Islamic leaders condemn acts of violence against intellectuals or minorities after accusations of blasphemy, they do not condemn the scholars who give fatwas of blasphemy or takfir (excommunication). They also do not refute the theology that supports use of such vigilantism.
Many Islamic groups condemned both Boko Haram and ISIS as un-Islamic. This is a welcome development. But they did not also condemn the Salafi theology that underpins the literal and shallow understanding of Islamic principles that inform groups such as ISIS. It is like trying to treat the symptoms while allowing the cause to metastasize. So even if Boko Haram and ISIS are dealt with, new groups will take their place.
You have to deal with the theology or you are not really dealing with the problem at all. And yes, there is a problem today. Fareed notes:
In 2013, of the top 10 groups that perpetrated terrorist attacks, seven were Muslim. Of the top 10 countries where terrorist attacks took place, seven were Muslim-majority. The Pew Research Center rates countries on the level of restrictions that governments impose on the free exercise of religion. Of the 24 most restrictive countries, 19 are Muslim-majority. Of the 21 countries that have laws against apostasy, all have Muslim majorities.
I think the apostasy question is the core one. It’s an area where one version of Islam – far too popular in many Muslim-majority countries – is simply at odds with any basic understanding of human freedom.
Read all of our recent debate on Islam here.