For American Muslims, dread

LOUISVILLE, Ky —

Last Friday morning, four Pakistani-American doctors dressed in business suits and medical scrubs sat in one of this city’s most popular breakfast spots and fretted. At an adjacent table, a middle-aged woman grew visibly nervous when their native land was mentioned. One of the doctors, a 47-year-old cardiologist, was despondent.

“We were all praying this wouldn’t happen,” he told me. “No matter what you do in your community, that’s the label that is attached.”

Another doctor worried that years of outreach efforts by the city’s 10,000-strong Muslim community, a mix of Bosnians, Somalis and Iraqis, would be lost. On Thursday, he had sent a letter to the local newspaper condemning the Boston attack “no matter who committed it.” When news broke Friday that the two suspects were Chechen Muslims, his family grew nervous.

“Five minutes ago my mom called from Copenhagen to see if I was OK,” the 41-year-old geriatrician said. “It rattles all of us.”

Clearly, Bostonians have and will suffer the most from the marathon bombings. The injured now face months, if not years, of arduous recuperation. And the families of the dead will never recover.

It is by no means equivalent but the attack also impacts the United States’ roughly 2.5 million Muslims. As television screens displayed the words “the terrorist next door,” a sense of dread spread among Muslim community leaders here.

“When this happens,” the cardiologist said, “it just gets tough.”

Twelve years after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks, some see it almost as a cliché to say all Muslims should not be blamed for the actions of a radical few. But it is vital that understandably anxious Americans adhere to that principal. Whatever their motivations, the Tsarnaev brothers are not representative of Muslims in the United States - or the world.

In the days and weeks ahead, Americans will learn chilling details about the Tsarnaev brothers. Links to groups outside the United States may be revealed. Their years in the America will be dissected. The immigration policies that allowed their families to emigrate will likely be criticized.

But it is important not to exaggerate their impact. Days of chaos have unfolded in Boston but the attacks have not paralyzed the country. Four deaths and 176 injuries are heart rending but they are a tiny fraction of the 3,000 who perished on Sept 11. The attack’s primary legacy is fear. The actions of two young men will focus an enormous amount of suspicion on Chechens and Muslims across the nation.

Based on initial reports, the Tsarnaevs’ story is chilling. Two brothers, one an aspiring boxer and the other a high school wrestling captain, were seemingly transformed overnight into soulless killing machines. I suspect, though, that the process took years.

In 2008, the Taliban kidnapped two Afghan colleagues and myself after inviting us to an interview. Held captive in the tribal areas of Pakistan for seven months, we found that Arab, Afghan and Pakistani militants had created a sophisticated system of schools, training camps and indoctrination videos that slowly severed young men’s bonds with their families.

The only relationship that mattered, recruits were told, was their relationship to God. The only cause that mattered, clerics preached, was stopping a vast - and nonexistent - Christian-Jewish-Hindu conspiracy to obliterate Islam from the face of the earth.

For six weeks, I lived with a suicide bomber who was convinced that American forces were forcibly converting Afghan Muslims to Christianity. Neckties, he insisted, were secret symbols of Christianity. Deeming them unclean, he burned newspapers with photographs of women without veils.

No matter how long I spent talking with him, I could not alter his attitudes. Radicalism gave him a cause, a community and an identity.

Louisville’s Muslim leaders embrace an entirely different interpretation of Islam. Tolerant, worldly and passionately committed to education, they accuse Saudi Arabia of spreading an intolerant Wahhabist interpretation of Islam that distorts their faith and endangers their lives. The cardiologist, who asked not to be named, said he does not fear attacks in America. Rather, he fears for the safety of his family in Pakistan.

Last year, Sunni Wahhabist militants in Pakistan killed 400 Shias, who they consider heretics, particularly doctors. One victim was a close friend of the cardiologist and a fellow physician. Jihadists sprayed the man’s car with bullets, killing him and his 11 year-old son.

“My brother is a doctor over there,” the cardiologist said. “They target all the high-end professionals.”

Mohammad Babar, the Pakistani-American geriatrician, was happy to be quoted by name. Only his grandmother remains in Pakistan. He said the United States was a “safe haven” where he can practice and spread a moderate form of Islam without fearing assassination. In the wake of the Boston attack, he vowed to redouble his efforts.

“We are doing a bad job of reaching out to young people,” he said. “Extremists are doing a great job.”

Tensions exist in Louisville. Residents of a neighboring county recently rejected an effort to create the area’s first Muslim cemetery. And clearly not every member of the Muslim community here is as broadminded as Babar.

Since moving to Louisville in 1995, the peripatetic community activist has joined the local Rotary club, formed a close relationship with the mayor and set up meetings between Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders. Next week, he is holding an interfaith “open house” at his mosque. Next month, he is helping coordinate a visit by the Dalai Lama.

“We need to let people know,” Babar said. “We need to let our communities know what we think.”

The problem, he argued, was radicalism.

“In the whole world,” Babar said, “the far right is getting stronger.”

He is right. The enemy is not Islam. It is extremism.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013.

Author Infomation

David Rohde
David Rohde
David Rohde is a columnist for Reuters, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a former reporter for The New York Times. His forthcoming book, "Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East" will be published in April 2013.
  • 0

    Seirei Tobimatsu

    Worship peace, prosperity, health, happiness (good temper), fairness, charity to unfortunate not segregating god?

  • 9

    Frungy

    The enemy is not Islam. It is extremism.

    Well said. Unfortunately Islam is a religion that tends to attract extremists.

  • -8

    BertieWooster

    Frungy,

    What you say about Islam may be true, however, it takes two to start a fight.

    It is also important to factor into the equation the things the U.S.A. have done to incur the wrath of extremist Muslims.

    Let's not forget that Iraq was invaded, hundreds of thousands killed and vast areas of cities ruined. All on based on the lie that "Hussein had WMDs and we know where they are. There are secret cadres of Islam extremists in major cities waiting to strike."

  • 5

    Pozzy

    BertieWooster: just so I'm clear on what you said, "hundreds of thousands killed"... And those 200,000+ were murdered by the hands of American soldiers? I'm not from 'murica but I DO find your figures somewhat of an embellishment.

  • 3

    gaijinfo

    Islam extremism has been around ever since Muhammad himself decided to sack Mecca. He didn't just roll in their with prayer beads. He went in with guns blazing, and left a trail of blood.

    Extremist Islam IS the norm.

    Just ask the numerous black U.S. Jazz musicians to joined Islam to get away from alcohol and drugs, but didn't want to buy into the whole "jihad" thing.

    They're considered outcasts of Islam.

  • 5

    toguro

    "What you say about Islam may be true, however, it takes two to start a fight.

    It is also important to factor into the equation the things the U.S.A. have done to incur the wrath of extremist Muslims.

    Let's not forget that Iraq was invaded, hundreds of thousands killed and vast areas of cities ruined. All on based on the lie that "Hussein had WMDs and we know where they are. There are secret cadres of Islam extremists in major cities waiting to strike.""

    @BertieWooster:

    So are you trying to say that before for the war in Iraq, there were no extremist Muslim/Islamist groups, and or individuals? That this all stems from the U.S. invasion of Iraq?

  • -4

    Peter Payne

    Very good article. I know id didn't come from JT but thanks for the read.

  • 3

    JeffLee

    The enemy is not Islam

    Yes, it is. Islam as an ideology is fundamentally at odds with the core principles of a liberal democracy.

    Individualism, free speech, tolerance, the rights of women, homosexuals, atheists, non-Islamic religions. All forms of Islam reject these things. Many Muslims in the West need to develop workarounds in order to survive, to their credit. But when the workarounds fail, that's when the trouble starts.

    British intelligence services monitor about a dozen Muslim neighborhoods around the clock in Britain. They have stated publicly that the next Muslim attack is not a matter of if but when. They have also stated that this is biggest national security threat they face.

    The US, Canada, etc. will be doing the same in the coming years, unless immigration changes are made. Prepare for a darker and more dangerous future.

  • 5

    Equality

    Avoiding religion and politics for a moment, I just want to thank JT for providing such an interesting and well-written article. Hopefully we will be able to read more articles form quality journalists like Rohde in the future.

  • 0

    AiserX

    While I agree with the view that Islam is part of the problem, it is important that we investigate thoroughly as to why these two Chechen brothers did what they did. It is very odd that Chechen Muslims would bomb a U.S even when were used to them bombing Russians instead.

  • 2

    Indranuj Dey

    haah...these same pakistani-americans were celebrating on Reddit and twitter when the racist "crowd-sourced" investigations by net junkies brought up the name of Mr. Sunil Tripathy (Hindu, Indian origin, missing since March) as one of the suspects. Now they are acting as victims of mistrust!!!

  • -5

    astroboy

    All religions have extremists. The reasons the Islamic ones are more active now is because of the US and Europe policies towards them in the last decade(s), starting with the construction of Israel (I feel this is the first cause of the conflict between the Muslims and the Western world after WWII, I might be wrong).

    Just look at that Christian church in the US that burnt the Quran, if you don't call that extremist I don't know how you define the term! Also please don't forget all the extremist behaviours done in the middle ages by Christians (that took about 1000 years while the Muslim countries were in the peak of their civilization, thriving in all the arts and sciences of the time). I can also give an example of the Aum Shinrikyo (a mixture of Christianity and other beliefs based on Wikipedia's explanation) that were behind the Sarin gas attack in Tokyo Station.

    I don't intend to say that Christians are extremist, what I am saying is: Extremists are everywhere, in any ideology (not just in religions but all ideologies). It is the political environment of each era that chooses which ones are more active (can attract more followers) and which ones aren't. In the current political environment (different from the middle ages!) the more enemies a country (which defines its self based on its religion) has, the more people in it will diverge to extremism, because their nationality and religion is intertwined. This is the cause you see more Mulsim extremists recently. It has nothing to do with Islam.

    Please let me repeat: All ideologies have the potential of devastating extremism. The reason you see more Muslim extremists is the current international political environment and has nothing to do with Islam, but more to do with nationalism and national pride.

  • 1

    JeffLee

    The reason you see more Muslim extremists is the current international political environment and has nothing to do with Islam, but more to do with nationalism and national pride.

    "National pride"?!?! LOL. No, it has to do with Islam. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have nothing to do with nationalism. Their murderous actions are inspired entirely by their religion. "Allah is great," the wealthy Saudi 911 hijacker said the moment before plunging the plane into the World Trade Center.

    Yeah, there are extremists elsewhere. But how many Christians and Buddhists are putting bombs on planes?

  • -1

    yabits

    The only relationship that mattered, recruits were told, was their relationship to God. The only cause that mattered, clerics preached, was stopping a vast - and nonexistent - Christian-Jewish-Hindu conspiracy to obliterate Islam from the face of the earth.

    The ones here who assert that "Islam is the problem," feed right into the hands of these radicalizing trainers.

    It's very sad to see how cowardly and ignorant some people are -- who would ascribe to over a billion peaceful and honorable people, the actions of a tiny percentage. Actions the vast majority utterly rejects.

  • -1

    Serrano

    Islam itself isn't the problem, it's just that Islamists have been involved in the last few terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. The vast majority of Islamists must do a better job of keeping their fellow believers from committing terrorist attacks.

  • 5

    JeffLee

    **Islam itself isn't the problem, it's just that Islamists have been involved in the last few terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. **

    No, Islam IS the problem. Nearly every conflict taking place in the world today involves Muslims, never mind Boston. Wake up, this is an ideology of utter intolerance. Try dating a Muslim girl, if you need proof. (Plot spoiler: you can't)

  • 2

    HonestDictator

    Try dating a Muslim girl, if you need proof. (Plot spoiler: you can't)

    Actually you can (only if they're not "true followers" of Islam and are more modern in thinking) but avoid the ones that say, "You must become muslim in order for us to go out..." or "If you love me you must become muslim." You're dealing with a fundamentalist (a skip and a jump away from extremism).

    The best response to this is, "If you really loved me you wouldn't attempt to force me to change my beliefs because you obviously don't accept or respect me for who I am. I'm not trying to change your beliefs. Why are you trying to change mine?"
    Plus both men and women who follow Islam use this as a form of coercion to get more "followers" to their faith. Those that are gullible enough to "convert" for to be able to date or marry a muslim have always had some stories to tell if they've left the relationship.

  • -2

    yabits

    “In the whole world,” Babar said, “the far right is getting stronger.”

    Yes, that is the problem. The right-wing in America loves the illusion that citizens face a fearsome foe by blowing way out of proportion the threat represented by the far-right elements in the Muslim world.

    All the better for arms sales and increased "defense" spending, as well for controlling people.

  • -1

    yabits

    Wake up, this is an ideology of utter intolerance. Try dating a Muslim girl, if you need proof. (Plot spoiler: you can't)

    Uh, I was raised in Dearborn, Michigan, where most of my "wake ups" came to days where dating between Muslims and non-Muslims -- yes, including Muslim girls -- was not that uncommon.

  • -2

    kawamuracat

    just to make some clarifications - whilst islamic extremism did exist before the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the US presence in the middle east has resulted in more resentment towards the west and extremist groups more easily able to convert people to their hate war.

    there are comments here saying that islam in it's nature is oppressive and lends itself to anti-liberal ideas. i won't comment on that but don't forget that's not a point intrinsic to Islam - you can stick that label to a number of religions.

    also, whilst the big terrorism stories of the past decade or so tend to have Muslims as their culprits, such a simple connection that islam breeds terrorism cannot be made. the IRA were extremist Christians, as a reminder.

  • 0

    thepersoniamnow

    Most of the comments here present personal opinion rather than realism. I for one can associate a lot with some of what astroboy states. I dare say it takes one to know one and you have to have lived and experienced in order to understand the other side of a very western media. I have lived in both America and Arab countries. Seven years in Arab countries in fact. If a community of people get surpressed or persecuted it is very easy to dismiss their actions from afar as extremism. Look at even how Mexicans view Americans in that whole 500 square mile area. Lived in Mexico too... The more I experience the more I empathize instead of generalizing and profiling.

  • 1

    astroboy

    JeffLee, you have to study some history instead of blindly looking at the news today and making judgements based on your experienced to date girls!

    Al-Qaeda and Taliban are a direct child of the US support of the Mujahidin movement in Afghanistan against the Russian invasion in the 80s. In those days the US supported them in the hope that they are better than communism (very similar to how it is supporting the opposition in Syria). So you see that the roots of both these groups are nationalistic.

    I already gave some examples of Christian extremism. To correct your ignorance about extremism in Buddhist beleifs I will also refer you to the news these days of the Buddhists in Burma (Myanmar) that are killing and pushing the Muslims out of their lands. Infact this was just part of yesterday's news. Although the Buddhists are intentionally attacking the Muslims, but I don't blame Buddhism, the Myanmar Buddhists are also acting on nationalism that is mixed with their religion as they see it.

    All religions have the potential of very destructive actions. If you have an unbiased revision in the news and history you will see so many examples in all religions.

  • 3

    JeffLee

    **some of the comments here are shockingly racist and ignorant. **

    No. Islam is not a race (there's your "ignorance") it is a system of beliefs and ideas, and the right to question and criticize ideas is guaranteed under freedom of expression laws in democracies like Japan. Not in most Muslim socieities, though.

    But if you have discrimination and intolerance in mind, it's hard to beat Islam: under the Sharia code, Islam Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, plain and simple. Muslim men, however, can and do marry infidels. You may want to ponder the reasons and background to this nice little double standard.

    astroboy: Thanks for citing Islam with regard AUM Shinrikyo and its nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway. I do agree that both creeds are about as intolerant and dangerous as each other.

  • -1

    kawamuracat

    @JeffLee: my comment was in reference to the fact that people are merging race and religion into one, even worse generalizing extremist religious groups as descriptive of certain peoples as a whole. but thank you for making me clarify.

    in my opinion Sharia law is not fair. then again nor is the Jehovah's Witness pledge not to accept blood infusions or the Catholic churches opinion on women, homsexuals or inter-religious marriage (a point you seem to indicate is exclusive to Islam).

    personally i'm not a Muslim but any kind of damaging generalization, no matter what group it is pointed at, is enough to rile me. Islam is not of the same elk as the Aum Shinrikyo religious extremist, terrorist group.

    islamic *terrorists *are.

  • -1

    astroboy

    JeffLee: you are blaming Islam for an inherent problem making it particularly susceptible for extremism. I am saying the inherent problem is not only in Islam, but in any form of any ideology or religion. So I am concluding that the reason you see more Muslim extremists today has to do with things other than Islam: it is actually due to national identity and pride.

  • 2

    Frungy

    BertieWoosterApr. 23, 2013 - 08:49AM JST It is also important to factor into the equation the things the U.S.A. have done to incur the wrath of extremist Muslims.

    The Muslim extemist agenda is very well documented, well before the U.S.A. even said "boo" to them. They have a nasty habit of resorting to terrorism and rebellion when they don't get their way, and human rights abuses when they did! A good example is the South of the Philippines, but there are many more. Take a look down the list of Muslim-majority countries and you'll see that in every one has a lousy human rights record dating back decades.

    PozzyApr. 23, 2013 - 09:13AM JST BertieWooster: just so I'm clear on what you said, "hundreds of thousands killed"... And those 200,000+ were murdered by the hands of American soldiers? I'm not from 'murica but I DO find your figures somewhat of an embellishment.

    Umm... I actually agree with BertieWooster on his figures. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and more than one way to "kill" someone. If you count only people shot/bombed/etc, then yes, his figure is high. However, if you include those who died as a result of infrastructure damage, e.g. bombed hospitals/water lines/food stores/etc. then his figure may well be low. And I reject the notion that the invaders weren't responsible for those deaths directly. They targetted those facilities knowing that they would cause massive civilian casualties in the short-term, and had no adequate plans in place to fix the problem they made. You can kill someone by shooting them in the head... or you can trap them in a country with no food, water or medical supplies. Either way you've killed them.

  • 1

    JeffLee

    you are blaming Islam for an inherent problem making it particularly susceptible for extremism.

    Yes, I am. The difference with Islam from the other mainstream religions is that it has failed to evolve. Sharia - the code by which ALL Muslims are expected to strictly abide by -- is based on medieval superstitions, which explains why most of the Muslim world today is so backward. How many modern progressive liberal Muslim societies can you name?

    The people can't help it: they've had no choice. They are officially registered as Muslims from birth and conversion carries severe criminal penalties: the death sentence in a number of countries.

    If you believe that such conditions in the 21st century are nothing special and not particularly prone to breed extremist views, well there's nothing more than I can say.

  • -2

    astroboy

    If you believe that such conditions in the 21st century are nothing special and not particularly prone to breed extremist views, well there's nothing more than I can say.

    I don't believe in this! I am saying that all religions show exactly the things you listed, it not just Islam! Can you name one religion that has "evolved"!?!?! Evolution and religion do not go hand in hand! It is the subjugation by the western powers of their lands, way of life and national pride, in general, as they see it that is feeding the extremist groups with anxious new recruits. The primary cause of all the extremist groups are nationalistic, religion is just a tool for them to gather more followers. Don't blame it on the religion, I gave you examples of how Christianity and also Buddhism have also been mis-used like this (in the 21st century).

    The Muslim extremists just gain more media attention to fool short sighted people that it is only Islam showing such tendencies. Their aim is clear: they thrive in an environment filled with right-winged people constantly wanting to be afraid of some threat.

  • 3

    Nessie

    What you say about Islam may be true, however, it takes two to start a fight.

    Yes, the U.S. should never have invaded Chechnia.

  • 2

    Nessie

    Just look at that Christian church in the US that burnt the Quran, if you don't call that extremist I don't know how you define the term!

    Christian extremism: Burn a Koran

    Islamic extremism: Gas and shoot schoolgirls

    Yeah, it's basically the same. /s

  • -1

    astroboy

    Nessie:

    Muslims killed directly or indirectly due to western power's intervention: millions

    People in the western world killed directly or indirectly by Muslims: ~4000 on 9/11, all the rest summed up in the order of 100.

    I am not trying to justify what the Muslim extremists are doing, I am just saying that these numbers make their argument very favourable among their own people: That the western powers want to destroy their identity and heritage (national and religious).

    What ever country or culture you are from, how do you think your people would react if they felt such a danger from a foreign (more advanced) enemy?

  • -1

    astroboy

    I hope my argument above shows you that the root of these extremist movements is not about religion but about national pride. Religion is just a tool they can exploit to further their claim. And this is not particular to Muslims, right now Buddhists are killing Muslims exactly because of the same kind of argument (nationalistic). So if you want to discuss the roots of Muslim extremism, you should look in to the geopolitical history of the middle east instead of blaming Islam!

    By the way, the numbers I gave above are just very crude approximations as the Muslim extremists like to announce to their followers, it is not based on historical facts or my own idea. I am trying to enlighten you on their arguments and how they recruit. So you see what an important role nationalism (which is of course intertwined with Islam) plays in their arguments. For me all religions are the same, history has shown that they can all be very deadly.

  • -1

    astroboy

    So if you want to stop this extremist behaviour by the Muslim countries, the thing you shouldn't do is to go and kill more of them with drones (killing so many innocent women and children with it). Instead you should help them progress economically and not interfere with their cultural habitats. Just look how other aspects of western spending in Afghanistan and Iraq is dwarfed by their military spending in those countries. Once they acquire a good population of middle class people you will see how these extremist groups will fade away, it is only natural: because the people will learn to enjoy life, not be afraid of a drone shooting their house every day! But as long as the western countries are killing ~10 women and children in the hope of killing one militant, they are fuelling and feeding the extremist propaganda, adding more recruits to them.

  • 1

    Vast Right-Wing Conspirator

    Atroboy, you are funny. Your examples of "Christian extremism" are: a guy who burned a book, and 10 century old history.

    Islam is about the Ummah, the pan-national state that the extremists dream of. Not nations as the political entities we know. One where you and I are NOT welcome. The whole "moral equivalency" argument is simply not accurate.

  • 0

    HonestDictator

    Instead you should help them progress economically and not interfere with their cultural habitats.

    All the better to kill you with my dear...

    @Astroboy, please look up muslim apostates and see how many of them have a LOT of views against their former religion. Not their countries, but their former religion.

    faithfreedom.org is ran by a muslim apostate Ali Sina from Iran. There are many other organisations out there by ex-muslims from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Indonesia and more and they fervently support the concern that Islam is the cause of extremism.

    Ask yourself why these people would take so much time out of their lives to condemn their former beliefs and tell the truth behind what they've read from the Qur'an and those that also read the hadiths?

  • 0

    kawamuracat

    well living in the UK i have many muslim friends and none of them have tried to kill me, convert me or scold me for my liberalism.

    those same friends (males and FEMALES) studying to become teachers, lawyers, doctors, whose parents are more thankful to have moved to the "developed West" than those born in it, struggling to do good in their lives, for themselves, their families, their communities and society as a whole - i guess they're all bound to become extremists at some point so i should probably distance myself from them now ey?...

  • -1

    astroboy

    I will break up my reply into several comments:

    It seems that to think critically based on historical facts is too hard for the majority of people here, and some how girls are a better source of judgement compared to history. So let me say what I am saying in a language you will understand.

    I guess you have all seen Avatar and have empathised with the hero (the amputee human soldier: Jake) in helping the "Naavi" take back their planet from the humans. The way Muslim extremists view the western relation with their country and culture is very similar to how the natives of "Pandora" viewed humans' relation with them in Avatar. They feel the western world is trying to subjugate them and exploit their belongings (both natural and cultural). Ever since WWII the west has only helped (by repeating provocative actions) those extremists (who view things like this) promulgate their ideas in the, mainly poorer, populations of their countries. Let me list some of those actions:

    • Blindly supporting Israel in the Israel-Arab conflict.

    • Placing sanctions on the countries and making life harder for the people.

    • The 1953 Iranian coup by the British and American forces against a democratically elected government. Only so they could keep their oil flowing.

    • The Blind support of all the Arab monarchs (dictators) that are devastating the lives of the ordinary people in those countries (Bahrain and Jordan are two examples these days).

    • The fake documents on which the Iraq war was based and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people that have suffered and died because of it.

    • The way US soldiers have ridiculed Islamic texts and fighters in their camps in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    You all sympathised with the "Na'vi" (natives of the planet) in Avatar. It is strange how you don't see how the western countries are doing exactly the same thing with the Muslims (as the extremists see it).

  • -1

    astroboy

    Continued from the previous post:

    If only after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the US and its allies would have acted as wisely as they did when they conquered Japan and Germany after WWII. They haven't done that and the behaviours of the western cultures in the Middle east has been very wrong and has resulted in such extremist groups gaining more ground between the populations of these countries. As much as we would like to think that our western countries are civilized and base their actions on reason and mutual respect, their behaviour against the Middle Eastern countries in the last century has been very far from that.

    So please understand that the fact that you see more Muslims committing extremist actions (I don't deny this!) is not because of Islam! It is because of the actions of the western world against their countries.

    Let me also say that most of the borders in the Islamic countries were not made by them, but by the western conquests. That is why you feel their desire for a " pan-national state ": because the borders that currently define most Muslim countries were forced on them by alien forces.

    So instead of repeating this radical right-wing view that it is Islam that is the problem (and thus ignoring all the wrong things the western world has done to the Muslim countries in the last century and even before), we should try to help the people in those countries achieve economic stability and safety. Like all of us, they would also like enjoy the pleasures of life in an international environment (as kawamuracat observed with her/his Muslim friends), so if you let them prosper, it is clear that those extremists will not gain any support and thus fade away. Please remember how the actions of the western world towards the Muslims is so much like what the humans did to the Na'vi in Avatar, we don't want the out come of that film to happen in the real world.

  • 3

    Snjezana

    'To say Islamic terrorists represent the Muslim Religion is like saying the Ku Klux Klan represents the Christian Religion.'

    So many of you make assumptions based on what you're fed by ever so manipulating media instead of thinking with your heads. Many many of you need to educate yourselves before commenting because you represent the large proportion of the population who do and think as they're told. How many crimes have been committed throughout the history by religious groups, for what? Just because WE haven't lived in those times doesn't make those actions OK. But we often forget our faults because they're not in the moment.

    'He among you who is without sin, let him first cast a stone upon her.'

    It's time to self-reflect instead of grooming the hatred and the intolerance for the sake of avoiding our own inner shortfalls.

    Mr Rhode, thank you for being the bearer of the truth and for questioning our ability to reason! Look forward to reading your book...

  • 0

    HonestDictator

    @Astroboy, you need to talk to the muslim apostates. They'll strongly disagree with you as they have been born and raised under Islamic ideology day in and day out.

    They'll tell you exactly what is going on and the causes you've pointed out are not the ultimate reasons behind extremism from Islam. If it was, why are muslims killing other muslims?

    Why are countries that have had nothing to do with the US / European involvement suffering from Islamic extremism like India, Thailand, Spain, the Philippines, many countries in Africa???

    Talk to the people that have lived as muslims and made their very own choice to leave it while knowing they're under penalty of persecution or even death should they be found out about their apostasy and the ones that have publicly stated their apostasy from Islam suffer constant death threats, have been imprisoned, exiled, and even murdered.

  • -1

    astroboy

    HonestDictator: I know and have talked with many of them. My point is the arguments the extremists use to persuade the "normal" people in their countries. People who have left the country and have experienced or know of the modern world are not a good measure of the success of the extremist arguments! I know and have discussed with a lot of the "normal" people there too.

    The main problem of extremists is with other followers of their own religion: Al-Qaeda and the current Iran government for example are both more comfortable talking to the US than each other! This is why they kill more of their own religion!

  • -1

    astroboy

    If you don't believe me, look what an ex-radical says to CNN: edition.cnn.com/video/standard.html The video titled: "ex-radical details anti-western sentiment".

  • 1

    HonestDictator

    Then you'd know then that the extremists will ALWAYs find something or someone to whip up sentiment for their cause. Even if the US had not invaded Iraq (if you don't recall there was the Iraqi war before then too to prevent the further use of biological weapons that WERE actually used against the Kurds at the time). Before that it was because Israel existed, before that it was because they wanted the Ottoman empire to gain back its former power...

    So trying to make it sound as if the Iraqi invasion and putting the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan was the cause of it all is just playing pacifist ignorance. These extremists groups have been around for over 50+ years according to the history books.

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