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Thanks, but no thanks. Actually … just no thanks.

January 25, 2010

I’m a big fan of writing letters to the editor.  I like to “talk back” to my newspaper, to the television, to the radio, etc.  Hence, this blog was created.  My current dilemma is whether it is actually work composing a letter to the Star Phoenix about a op-ed piece from Friday’s paper.  Dr. Ahmed Shoker wrote the commentary “Co-operate to mitigate radicalism.”  I have so many issues with this missive that I started to compose a response immediately but then I reconsidered.  Will most readers of the paper care?  I doubt it.  Could I actually focus on only a couple of points in a manner appropriate for a letter?  Maybe.  Would they even publish it? I have my doubts.  Why?  The byline on this op-ed says “Special to the Star Phoenix” which indicates to me that the editors invited the author.  Anyhoo … I’m going to just write this instead.

Indented quotes are from the op-ed.  Comments are mine.  Obviously.

“There is no place in Islam to initiate aggression against innocent civilians, as Allah says clearly in the Holy Qur’an.”

ORLY?  Ever heard the Verse of the Sword?  “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the jizya (poor-due), then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”  (Qu’ran, 9:5)  I would say that idolaters are innocent civilians.

The article tells us that Allah Akbar, which many terrorists shout as they are committing murder, means “Allah is the Greatest”.

“The relationship between Muslims and Allah is based on four main principles: Fear to disobey Him; hope in His forgiveness; gratitude for His unlimited bounties on the whole universe; and love for Him for what He is.

Allah Akbar is a verbal manifestation of this relationship. It is not a call to anarchy.”

And yet it is used as a rallying cry for jihad.  Are we supposed to ignore that?

Dr. Shoker does acknowledge that “Muslims must distance themselves from and condemn acts of terror” but I don’t think that goes far enough.  Muslims must speak out in their mosques and schools to fight the move towards radical Islam.  They must be on alert for anyone voicing support for jihad and especially for anyone who seems to be actively pursuing it.   He says:

“The action of using Islamic institutions in the West as a vehicle to understand what Muslims elsewhere can do is not enough. It also arouses suspicion among Muslim communities.”

What does that mean?  Are non-Muslims not supposed to look critically at Muslim organizations in the west?  That’s crazy talk.   Jihadist groups actively recruit in the West.  We can’t ignore that.

I was amazed that the author suggested the following resolution for non-Muslims.

“They should not brand Islam with negative adjectives.”

This would be counter-productive.  How are we to be proactive in preventing terrorist attacks if we can’t distinguish the “extremist”, “jihadi”, and “radical” interpretations of Islam from the moderate?  Pretending as if terrorists don’t justify their acts using the Koran accomplishes nothing.  In fact, if we avoid the negative adjectives then we are actually left with discussing Muslims as if they are all the same.  Ignoring the extremist/jihadi/radical Muslims won’t make them go away.

Finally, it is entirely inappropriate to expect non-Muslims to “act upon the real meaning of Allah Akbar” since non-Muslims don’t believe that to be true.  And I don’t even make New Year’s resolutions.

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