In the debate over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” (which is actually a multi-cultural community center), you might have come across this illustration:
There are some who mistakenly believe all Muslims are terrorists. The illustration lays bare the absurdity of that belief. Islam boasts nearly 1.6 billion adherents; Al Qaeda, less than 10,000. Put another way, only .00063% of Muslims belong to Al Qaeda.
The majority of Muslims preach and practice peace. American Muslims are especially moderate. So I appreciate the illustration insofar as it disabuses people of the “all Muslims are terrorists” stereotype. However, I think the illustration is itself overly simplistic. It downplays the very real, dangerous, and widespread extremism in Muslim world.
Consider the following:
- Osama bin Laden has a 51% confidence rating in the Palestinian territories, and 54% in Nigeria.
- More than 90% of Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Palestinians express unfavorable views toward Jews.
- One third of British Muslim students say it’s acceptable to kill for Islam and advocate a global Islamic government based on sharia law.
- Most Pakistanis support gender segregation in the workplace (85%), stoning adulterers (82%), and the death penalty for apostasy from Islam (76%).
- Overwhelming majorities in several Middle Eastern Muslim countries justify attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the entire Persian Gulf region.
Muslim support for terrorism has declined in recent years, but these figures are still distressing.
I am not qualified to comment on whether the extremism evidenced above actually inheres in Islamic teachings. (Even if it does, remember that the Bible and the Book of Mormon have their own barbaric verses.) But Allah-approved or no, extremism does indeed exist in much of the Muslim world. It’s wrong to ignore that fact in the name of political correctness.
And precisely because I’m concerned about Islamic extremism, I support building the proposed Islamic center. Few things would inflame Islamic extremism more than Americans denying Muslims their constitutionally-guaranteed religious freedoms.