I’ve just returned from visiting four prominent cities of the Muslim world which are considered moderate in their lifestyle.
Outwardly, everything looks good. In recent months there have been no extremist incidents. So we should be encouraged. Yes?
But to dismay I was not. Here’s why:
Upon speaking with approximately hundred-plus people of varied age groups and diverse backgrounds, I was concerned to find out that the extremist views we are battling against and the reformist views I uphold exist only in a small minority.
For the majority, non-violent radical views are the norm.
The mindset is as follows:
- It’s all the fault of the West and Israel. Case in point, I was at a women’s coffee gathering where all the women were educated and well read. However most of them were speaking of Israel in negative terms. One who is a Canadian citizen said that the only thing wrong with Canada is that our prime minister supports Israel and must stop doing this right away. Anti-Semitism has taken a new turn and there’s no room for debate
- Sharia must be implemented. There is no room for reform unless everyone is sharia-compliant, therefore practices like beheading are legitimate
- Murderers are heroes and heroes (bloggers and activists) are traitors
- Islam is under attack and Muslims are victims.
- There is no discussion about appalling human rights in their own countries, the oppression of women and minorities or the misogyny that permeates society
Have we lost the war against radicalization? Maybe not. But we have definitely lost the battle.
This battle of ideas began in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution when Khomeni said he would “export the revolution,” starting a turf war between Iran and Saudi Arabia costing thousands of lives and pushing the mindset of Muslims towards a thought process that is totally incompatible with the 21st century.
Violent extremism is on the retreat due to the defeat of ISIS and their ilk. However, the challenges of battling non-violent extremist ideas can only take place if Muslims find allies and work harder to reverse the process.
To bring about the desired change, Muslims have to wake up and smell the coffee, which needs to be extra-strong