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Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.


Thoughts on Dutch Anti-Muslim Violence  | e-mail post

This morning, another Muslim target came under attack, as a mosque was set on fire in the southeastern village of Helden, near the Germany border. [AP via CTV] (Interesting that helden is German for "hero.") This brings the number of cases of arson or vandalism against Muslim buildings in Holland since the Muslim murder of van Gogh to twenty. There have also been reprisals against Christian churches.

Now, the Dutch are obviously known for their tolerance, but recent actions by select Muslim extremists have obviously pushed things too far for even many Dutch to tolerate. Killing a filmmaker for a negative portrayal of the way Muslims treat women is an offense to these tolerant sensibilities. The fact that the portrayal in the film Submission, while negative, did not seem to garner any factual critique, simply criticism through murder, demonstrates these individuals' unsuitability to live in the modern western societies to which they seek to immigrate. The fact that the attack was coupled with further threats against Dutch member of parliment Ayaan Hirsi Ali is even more troubling.

But more troubling than the behavior of the extremists, to whom some level of insanity can be attributed, was the gall of a Muslim cleric in Holland denouncing as "racist" and "offensive" the mural painted by a Dutch artist with the simple guidance, "Thou Shall Not Kill," reported in English here.

These murderers are certainly not the Muslims I came to know when I was in the UAE some years back for a festive and multi-day wedding. In fact, I am certain that the dozens of people I got to know and hundreds I met would greet such acts of murder with disgust. But as the violence escalates, one must ask if disgust without action is enough.

While I will be the first to acknowledge that these barbaric actions are those of a small minority of the Muslim community, the fact that these individuals are not as violently denounced by the broader Muslim community strains belief. Consider the parallel case of the truly insane abortion clinic bombers of some years ago. Had Catholic priests or bishops expressed anything but open hostility toward these acts, the Church would have been brandished (fairly) as being complicit in such actions. Today, when many Muslim clerics tacitly condone or offer only equivocal condemnation for the actions of the extremist minority, they do their entire community a grave injustice. Yet at the same time, the lack of outrage by their broader membership and the frequent equivocation by many within their ranks could suggest to some a tacit acceptance of the tactics employed by the extremists as well as their motives.

The broader, peace-loving, Muslim community should recognize that what we are seeing in Holland could be a harbinger of things to come if they continue to allow this minority within their ranks to take their intolerant and murderous behavior elsewhere around the world. If the broader Muslim community does not take action to clean their own ranks of these individuals, it is reasonable to imagine that at some point, this broader Muslim community will be considered "fair game," even in the most tolerant societies.

Muslims, for the sake of justice, but also out of simple self-interest, should recognize their own need to expunge these extremists. Vigilantism within their own ranks should certainly seem more desirable than vigilantism by those from the outside who may have grown too weary of senseless bloodshed in the name of religion to be troubled by the progressively more subtle distinction between those who kill and those who make no effort to stop the killing.

Clearly such vigilantism against the broader Muslim community would be an injustice on the grandest scale, and I am hardly offering an apology for such behavior. I am however pointing out the pragmatic risk posed by Muslim extremists to the broad Muslim community.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Saturday, November 13, 2004
Comments:
I've been following the news in Holland as this saga has developed, and it is certainly frightening. Your comments about the Muslim world policing itself have merit, but I'm not sure if the unwillingness to do so may not be related to religious precepts about defending Muslims against non-believers aren't being interpreted as forbidding this action.

I have to say that I have known quite a few Muslims who were both genuine believers and deeply humane and kind people. They look upon those who are committing such acts as not "them" - as not being genuine Muslims. It's a very widespread religion and so a pretty diverse one with different schools of teaching.

I was reading MEMRI, and found it very interesting that the recent attacks in Saudi Arabia are being denounced as inspired by Zionists. The official stance there (Prince Nayef) seemed to be that those who were committing the attacks were not real Muslims. We'll see.
 
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