If there is one silver lining that comes out of the horror show that has been 2020, it should be that moving forward there is no further question or confusion about whether political Islam, i.e. Islamism, exists or what it looks like.
As yet another Islamist attack unfolds in Vienna, the tragic series of events out of France in recent weeks that began with the beheading of a French teacher by an 18-year-old Chechen immigrant who arrived in France as a child refugee, followed by the global reaction of Islamist leaders and organizations to France’s reaction to the attack (including in the U.S.), offers a full picture of how Islamism operates on multiple levels.
As reported by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, in New York, a group of mosques planned to protest outside the French consulate over their outrage of what they called French President Emmanuel Macron’s “vilification of Islam.”
Reacting to the attacks, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed that France “will not give in to terrorism.” He labeled the latest attacks “Islamist and terrorist madness.” Macron also stood by France’s commitment to free speech and the “right to blaspheme,” including the right to publish cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
Macron was already in the crosshairs of French Islamists and their global compatriots for a speech he made on October 2 in which he stated that Islam was “in crisis globally.” In the speech, he announced a plan to tackle Islamist extremism in France.
In a statement, Majlis Ash-Shura, the Islamic Leadership Council of New York, wrote:
“The French President is directly provoking the Muslim world in his support of offensive and vulgar depictions of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Moreover, he continues to directly terrorize the French Muslim community by raiding private homes and mosques over baseless accusations in the aftermath of the attack against a French teacher.
Prior to this incident, President Macron was already on a crusade against Muslim communities and basic religious practices, in the name of secularization and assimilation. France’s targeting of French Muslims seeks nothing but to further alienate an already marginalized community through religious discrimination and continue their historical mission of ‘civilizing’ communities they deem to be backwards by their own standards.
The Muslim world will not tolerate such blatant disrespect of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and stands in solidarity with their French Muslim brothers and sisters.”
The protest took place Sunday, November 1. There was no mention of the subsequent French terror attacks, including a second beheading in Nice.
Nearly 1,000 New Yorkers showed up to protest #FrenchIslamophobia in front of the French embassy despite the rain! Wonderful show of solidarity. #MacronApologizeToMuslims #BoycottFrance pic.twitter.com/TvBBmqBfEI
— Islamic Leadership Council of New York (@ShuraNewYork) November 2, 2020
In the U.S., the protest against France (which completely glossed over the dark underbelly of psychopathic criminality of the Muslim terrorists) wasn’t limited to the thousands of attendees in New York. Top Muslim scholar Yasir Qadhi took to Twitter to remind Macron of his mortality with rhetoric common among extremists.
— Dr. Yasir Qadhi (@YasirQadhi) October 26, 2020
(Last week, Clarion reported on how the Patriot Front, a newer generation of white supremacists, was biding its time waiting for the United States to fall so they could rise. Last week, Qadhi’s post to Macron saying that the legacy of Prophet Muhammad will outlast France, used similar rhetoric with the same intention: supremacy.)
What exactly is the legacy of Prophet Muhammad?
Islam is what its followers practice. In my lifetime, Islam’s legacy has been deadly violence, rage and a dangerously obsessive fixation on identity and prophet-worship. And why is it Muhammad’s legacy when Islam’s origin story is as it’s believed, derived not from man but from God?
Qadhi’s message, like those of many of his peers, does not mention God. The focus is love for the prophet, and in his name, killing for the prophet. This is at its heart one of the most broken things about what Islam has become in the 21st century: Idol worship.
Whether it’s from scholars or political figures, this distorted understanding of what Islam is, fuels the behavior that attempts to use force and untempered emotion to shift the political needle. Often driving that needle is this idea of “Islamophobia” and the claim of victimhood status. It’s a tactic used strategically when it’s advantageous to the cause (pointedly, it’s never used when Islamist organizations silence other Muslims, or when China freely carries out a genocide against Muslims, to name two examples).
Outside the U.S., Islamist leaders of Muslim nations are using the same strategy to exact policy changes from the West. One of the biggest drivers of this narrative, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, called for a boycott of French products, a measure supported by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and the U.S. organization Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
CAIR is also pushing for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to investigate the treatment of the French Muslim community. The “treatment” CAIR is referring to is Macron’s clampdown on mosques that support the rhetoric of hateful imams, including those that posted content inciting anger against the now-beheaded French teacher.
How do Muslims understand Islam?
At the heart of this problem is that Islam’s “image” is currently managed and run by special interest groups, activists, hateful imams, politicians and other snake oil salesmen who are more interested in exploiting the West’s sympathy for what it sees as a marginalized community than they are in understanding and representing the teachings of the faith with stoicism, integrity and honesty.
This lot includes world leaders who use their global platform and power to act as warmongers under the banner of religious tolerance, as in the case of former Malaysian prime minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who said that Muslims have the right to “kill millions of French people.”
This mindset connects violent and non-violent Islamists — from lone attackers in France to a nation-state leader thousands of miles away. While some point to the events in France and label them a “jihadist mindset,” I argue that we have a bigger problem: the “Islamist mindset.” While of course, most Muslims don’t support or advocate for violence, many of them — after watching the events in France — question the right to free speech — not the killing.
Macron is right to fight the Islamist separatism currently tearing France apart. The good news is that he has Muslim allies — those who see Islamism for the poison it is — to do so. French-Tunisian Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, president of the Conference of Imams in France, went on record last month to denounce the murders and to call Islamism a disease and a poison.
Egyptian liberal journalist Khaled Montaser called the attacks in France “our backwardness … the worst insult to the Prophet.” In the West, author and journalist Tarek Fatah offered a series of critiques including calling out the hypocrisy of Islamists, who the next day are in line for visas to travel and live in the same Western countries they condemn.
To challenge Islamism, we cannot let the violence and tantrums of Islamists, no matter how great their status is on the world stage, to dominate the narrative. The story of Islam is still being written, and for it to have space in the future world of people, it must be an Islam in which its adherents have evolved beyond the identity forged by Islamists.
Islamism is a distortion of the Islamic faith, and it’s been a thorn in the side of any meaningful and lasting progress within Islamic theology for centuries. In the West, Islamists have used Islamism to weaponize the faith, silence critics and curtail — if not attempt to completely annihilate — free speech.
The events coming out of France are a live demonstration of how Islamists operate — from activism to violence, across individuals, organizations and world leaders.