What Does Winning Against Radical Islam Look Like?

The Statue of Liberty in New York
The Statue of Liberty in New York (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go, ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore.’” — Donald J. Trump

With any mission, it’s important to have a clear goal in mind. For example, when I’m baking cupcakes, I want to have enough so that I can eat until I’m so stuffed I can’t move, but still have some left over for the morning. The desired end-state (a sugar-induced stupor) gives me a clear framework so I can work backwards and figure out how to get there.

So what does winning look like in the struggle against radical Islam?

Here’s one take on what victory might look like.

Firstly, it would mean no more terrorist attacks. Jihadi massacres of civilians are the primary reason most people care about Islamism, and with good reason. To take just one year as an example, in 2015, there were 11,774 terrorist attacks in 92 countries which killed 21,404 people, not including perpetrators. The majority of these attacks were carried out by Islamic extremists.

Most of the victims of Islamic terrorism are, of course, Muslims living in Muslim countries.

But terrorism is only a small part of Islamism. The main issue it presents is religious coercion. Islamism seeks to impose it’s vision of Islam over everyone else and enforce that vision through implementing sharia as state law.

For anyone concerned with the liberty of the individual, this is unacceptable.

Therefore victory would mean no country enforcing religious doctrines onto its citizens as state law. It would mean an end to brutal hudud punishments, such as chopping off hands for theft or executing women for adultery.

It would also mean an end to blasphemy laws. Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion would mean that ex-Muslims, Ahmadis, minority and heterodox sects of all types would be able to worship freely without fear. Women would be free to dress as they choose.

It is not enough to have legal changes. Islamism operates using extra-legal forms of pressure as well, such as communitarian bullying, boycotts, ostracism and threats of mob violence. Islamism uses religion as a group identity marker, a tool of social control and a weapon to attack critics.

Victory means that all of this would end.

In every Muslim country, Jews, gays and atheists would be able to travel freely without worrying they might meet someone who would take exception to their identity.

None of this means an end to Islam. It is about an end to religious bullying. Victory means that any Muslim, anywhere in the world, would be free to practice their faith fully and freely, without stigma or harassment, in the manner they felt most appropriate to them. That means whether they want to wear a burqa and pray five times a day or if they just want to occasionally read the Quran as a spiritual guide. They will be able to do so without worrying about either extremist Muslim fanatics trying to force them 

An end to anti-Muslim bigotry is part of what winning looks like.

The goal is freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom from theocratic tyranny.

 

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EF
Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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