Cliff May

I offered a similar analysis on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox last week, prompting “Media Matters” and several other leftwing blogs to accuse me of attempting to start a religious war. Somehow, these bloggers failed to mention that those attacking Christians call themselves “jihadis” – meaning warriors who fight for Islam. The crowds that gathered in front of the destroyed Egyptian church shouted “Allahu Akbar! – “Allah is greatest!” Is this message really so hard to interpret?

Apparently so. Investor’s Business Daily recently quoted James Zoby, head of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: "The guy who gets up on the plane and says 'Allah!' or whatever and then blows the plane up is not making a statement about his faith," Zogby told congressional staffers. He added that it’s like a Christian hitting his thumb with a hammer and exclaiming “Jesus Christ.”

Commented IBD: “The comparison is absurd. Muslims say ‘Allah is greatest’ to exalt their God. When Christians mutter ‘Jesus Christ,’ they in contrast are taking their Lord's name in vain. There's no corresponding ‘Jesus Christ is greatest!’”

Zogby is an intelligent man. He must be aware that hateful, oppressive and terrorist religious ideologies have sprouted like weeds in the broader Middle East and that their seeds have now spread from Europe to Africa to the Americas. I suspect he fears that acknowledging that fact will lead to prejudice against all Muslims and Arabs.

He’s wrong: It is not lost on me and others that Salman Taseer was himself a Muslim and that other Pakistani Muslims defied the extremists by attending the Governor’s funeral – though few of Pakistan’s political leaders were bold enough to take that risk.

There is abundant evidence to suggest that most Muslims do not want to live under al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah or Hamas rulers. They do not want to live under a mullahocracy. I remain convinced that most Muslims do not want to be at war with the West – with Christians, Jews, Hindus and others.

Which leads to this question: How do moderate and tolerant Muslims fight the tyrants within their community? How do they avoid being killed if they dare speak up in defense of their own freedom and rights – much less in defense of religious minorities, ethnic minorities and women?

We cannot possibly come up with an adequate answer so long as we refuse to look reality in the eye. And the reality is this: Within the Muslim world today are regimes, movements and individuals convinced that their religion justifies – and benefits from -- the most heinous atrocities. They are determined, ruthless and lethal -- as Christians and other minorities across a broad swath of the world have been finding out.

If we in the West fail even to speak up for them, can we really expect moderate Muslims to do more?

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.