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Face Of Global Islam Less ‘Moderate’ Than Many Would Wish. Here’s The Evidence.


On Nov. 2, 2004, the Dutch filmmaker, author and activist Theo Van Gogh (great grand nephew of the famous painter) was riding his bike to work in Amsterdam when he was shot eight times.

While lying helpless and grievously wounded, he begged his assassin for his life crying: “Mercy! Mercy! We can talk about it can’t we?” But Mohammed Bouyeri was in no mood to talk. He calmly shot Van Gogh several more times, attempted to decapitate him, and then plunged a knife deep into the dead man’s chest. Van Gogh’s crime was to produce a 10-minute short film, “Submission,” that highlighted the plight of women in the Muslim world. The Dutchman paid for his right to speak freely with his life.

We are often told that a few crackpot extremists do not represent Islam and it is unfair to associate their religion with violence because of unhinged men like Bouyeri. But in the wake of the recent Paris atrocities and now San Bernardino I have to wonder. I do hope this is the case. But I am a numbers guy, given my years on Wall Street. For me any discussion of global Islam and its place in the modern world, the West in particular, is to first deal with data, not hope. So here are some facts to frame the discussion.

People watch as Muslims attend the noon prayer during an open day at Lakemba Mosque on October 31, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. Mosques held open days across the country to help foster better relations between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians. (Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)
People watch as Muslims attend the noon prayer during an open day at Lakemba Mosque on October 31, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. Mosques held open days across the country to help foster better relations between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians. (Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)
Since 9/11, the watchdog site has documented over 27,300 acts of violence around the world committed explicitly in the name of Allah and his prophet. This comes as no surprise to an historian as Mohammed himself waged over 60 military campaigns in which looting and murdering of his enemies while enslaving their wives and children were commonplace. He even personally oversaw the beheading of several hundred Jewish men and pubescent boys of the Banu Qurayza. Indeed, the Koran, which true Muslims believe is the unalterable final word of Allah, is awash in violent passages which both outnumber and supersede the earlier more peaceful recitations when Mohammed had not yet risen to power. There may be many peace-loving Muslims, but Islam itself, based on the teachings and examples of the man who founded it, is not, by definition, a “religion of peace.”
Now, admittedly there is rampant violence in the Old Testament as well. But this is where the self-examination of modern and reformed Judeo-Christian enlightened societies comes into play. We have on the whole opted to discard the more violent passages of the Bible as primitive, immoral, and mostly figurative. Christians instead point to the New Testament. Even ardent atheists will agree that Jesus Christ was a man of peace who possessed such enlightened tolerance that he cried out in agony for God to forgive his tormentors while spiked to a beam. Mohammed not so much.

Theology aside, what do Van Gogh’s murder over a decade ago and the more recent attacks on two of the world’s most advanced and tolerant nations in the span of a month symbolize?

To me they reveal in the light of day a strain of virulent intolerance that, Ben Affleck’s protests aside, seems to be a part of Islam at its core. Certainly it has taken root today; we hear little outcry from so-called Muslim leaders denouncing this latest of a long list of butcheries in the name of the holy prophet. One apologist meme is that it would be dangerous to do so, but does this not reinforce the premise of Islam’s violent dysfunction?

Besides, research belies the notion that just a tiny sliver of Islamic extremism lurks amid an otherwise vast community of peaceful, tolerant types anxious to live in happy co-existence with their non-Muslim neighbors. Data shows the majority of Muslims are indeed peaceful.

But there is a dangerously large minority who are not. And they tend to be the young, ergo the future of Islam. Van Gogh’s murderer was, in fact, a second-generation 26-year-old Dutch national. The mastermind of the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam was a 26-year-old Belgian-born French national. Sayed Farook and Tashfeen Malik of San Bernardino were in their late 20s.

This undated combination of photos provided by the FBI, left, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles shows Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook. (FBI, left, and California Department of Motor Vehicles via AP)

A recent Pew Forum survey gives a fascinating overview of the attitudes of Islamic countries across the globe from Bangladesh to Lebanon. The findings are too numerous to mention but one data-point struck me as worth highlighting.

As many as 40 percent of Palestinians believe suicide bombing justified; 39 percent of Afghanis; 29 percent of Egyptians; even 26 percent of so-called peaceful Bangladeshis. That is an awful lot of support for such a heinous and cowardly crime whose immorality ought to be self-evident. A different poll by ICM shows that 27 percent of Frenchmen between the ages of 18 and 24 have a favorable attitude towards Islamic State … and this was after the Charlie Hebdo bloodbath.

Attitudes towards women in the Muslim world are vile. Either the majorities or sizeable minorities believe women should blindly obey their husbands … in short be relegated to second-class citizenship. Such views of course leaves women highly vulnerable to sanctioned


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