I am sometimes criticized for using the term “radical Islam” when describing acts of Islamic terror, the argument being that this is really normative Islam. In contrast, the more peaceful expression of the faith is understood to be a liberalized, non-representative form of Islam. Could this criticism be valid?
Writing from Australia, CultureWatch commentator Bill Muehlenberg asked, “So how many more 9/11’s do we need before we wake up? How many more Bali bombings? How many more attempted beheadings like in London today [namely, May 23rd]? When will we wake up and realise that Islam is in fact a political ideology which has always been spread by the edge of the sword?
“When will we believe the words of Muhammad? When will we believe the Koran? When will we believe the hadith? When will we take them at their word when they tell us they intend to kill us? When will we understand that they want to see the entire world under submission to Islam and sharia law?”
Has he overstated his case?
In the aftermath of the shocking murder and beheading of a British solider this week by two Muslim men (in broad daylight, no less, and with a video commentary and explanation by one of the murderers), British Prime Minister David Cameron immediately issued this statement: “This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country. There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”
This was echoed by the Muslim Council of Britain, which condemned what it called a "truly barbaric act" which has "no basis in Islam.”
In contrast, Tommy Robinson, leader of the right-wing English Defense League, said: "They're chopping our soldiers' heads off. This is Islam. That's what we've seen today."
On the Islamic side, Omar Bakhri, a “Syrian-born Islamist cleric who taught one of the men accused of hacking to death an off-duty British soldier on a London street praised the attack for its ‘courage’ and said Muslims would see it as a strike on a military target.” And the radical, England-based Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary “has said he was ‘shocked’ by the murder of a soldier in Woolwich, but has refused to condemn the attack,” noting that “I think not many Muslims can disagree with” what the murderer said in his video explanation.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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