In the charter's foreword, Gerard Batten (MEP) writes, "The Western European view of religion, achieved after centuries of bloodshed, conflict and division, is that religion is a matter of private belief and conscience. Islamic fundamentalists do not share this view. They believe in Islamic theocracy. Such views are simply incompatible with Western liberal democracy. The vast majority of Muslims that non-Muslims meet in everyday life are decent, respectable, law-abiding and hardworking. Western governments and societies have to offer them their support while standing firm against the extremists." The charter is "a great step forward in this process."
It certainly is, but what if someone signs it and doesn't mean it? Some Muslims claim the Koran allows them to lie to "infidels." What happens then?
What would Solomon suggest be done to those who refuse to sign the charter, as many refused to sign earlier loyalty oaths? How does one encourage compliance? Sam Solomon answers that question via e-mail: "This charter is like a passport application. If someone lies, he will be prosecuted. Once agreed upon, it would give power to the authorities to bring them to justice. Though we know they can lie, this time it would not be an individual, it would be their leaders, and would be like putting their noses in the dust, and accepting it for what it is worth, that the real cause of terrorism is the interpretation of Qur'anic verses by certain factions of their religion. One way or another, they have never been challenged like this ever before."
As the European Parliament is often much slower than the American Congress, the charter begins first as a discussion document. Sponsors hope it will create interest and discussion among the European public, as well as in the European Parliament. They are hoping one of the MEPs, possibly Gerard Batten, will put forward a proposal to introduce this charter as a bill.
Batten and Solomon see this as a "no lose" proposition. If the bill passes with an enforcement mechanism, Muslim leaders who sign would be held accountable under the law for any violation. If they don't sign, the law and public opinion may have something to say about their refusal.
Does anyone have a better strategy for sorting out the violent Muslims from the peaceful ones among us? And be sure, they are among us, as we experienced on 9/11.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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