Monday, March 02, 2009

Islam: Radical Islam - how to live with It

NEW YORK, March 1 /PRNewswire/ -- In the March 9 Newsweek cover, "Radical Islam Is a Fact of Life. How to Live With It" (on newsstands Monday, March 2), Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria argues that radical Islam is a fact of life, which we must learn to deal with. He emphatically does not say that we should accept the medieval values of the Islamists, or that we should not continue trying to destroy Al Qaeda. But to prevail in a generational cultural struggle, the West must learn to distinguish between those who have nihilistic philosophies and expansionist aims and those looking to apply their values at home.

Reports from Nigeria to Bosnia to Indonesia show that Islamic fundamentalists are finding support within their communities for their agenda, which usually involves the introduction of some form of Sharia-Islamic law--reflecting a puritanical interpretation of Islam. No music, no liquor, no smoking, no female emancipation. "The groups that advocate these policies are ugly, reactionary forces that will stunt their countries and bring dishonor to their religion. But not all these Islamists advocate global jihad, host terrorists or launch operations against the outside world--in fact, most do not," Zakaria writes. "Consider, for example, the most difficult example, the Taliban. The Taliban have done all kinds of terrible things in Afghanistan. But so far, no Afghan Taliban has participated at any significant level in a global terrorist attack over the past 10 years--including 9/11." Zakaria also points out that while some elements of the Taliban are closely associated with Al Qaeda, "the Taliban is large, and many factions have little connection to Osama bin Laden. Most Taliban want Islamic rule locally, not violent jihad globally," he writes.

This is why "it is crucial that we adopt a more sophisticated strategy toward radical Islam," Zakaria writes. "This should come naturally to President Obama, who spoke often on the campaign trail of the need for just such a differentiated approach toward Muslim countries." The Washington Institute, a think tank often associated with conservatives, also agrees with this view. Its report due to be released this week recommends that the United States use more "nuanced, noncombative rhetoric" that avoids sweeping declarations like "war on terror," "global insurgency," even "the Muslim world."

"Anything that emphasizes the variety of groups, movements and motives within that world strengthens the case that this is not a battle between Islam and the West," Zakaria writes. "Bin Laden constantly argues that all these different groups are part of the same global movement. We should not play into his hands, and emphasize instead that many of these forces are local, have specific grievances and don't have much in common. That does not mean we should accept the burning of girls' schools, or the stoning of criminals. Recognizing the reality of radical Islam is entirely different from accepting its ideas. We should mount a spirited defense of our views and values. We should pursue aggressively policies that will make these values succeed. Such efforts are often difficult and take time--rebuilding state structures, providing secular education, reducing corruption--but we should help societies making these efforts. The mere fact that we are working in these countries on these issues--and not simply bombing, killing and capturing--might change the atmosphere surrounding the U.S. involvement in this struggle."

Read cover article at

Source: Newsweek

Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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