How to encourage Islamic reform
Encourage it in the appropriate manner.
The owner of a Cairo newspaper deplores the bombing of the Coptic Christian church on Dec. 11, 2016.
Salah Diab, owner of the Al-Masri Al-Yawm daily, wrote that religious extremism and terrorist attacks in the name of Islam tarnished the reputation of this religion. Diab, who writes under the pen name Newton, stressed that nothing could justify attacks like these, including claims about poverty, social injustice or political exclusion. He added that the increase in terrorism and the fear of terrorism around the world were strengthening right-wing elements in the West, and called to take serious measures to reform the religious discourse in Egypt in order to combat religious extremism.
Those who deplore the multiple political successes now of right-wing candidates might take note. That's being evoked as a reason for Islam reforming itself – which implies a fear of retaliation, which implies a deplorable degree of comfort with left-wing leaders in the Western world and the absence of any reason to pay attention to their tut-tuts and naughty-boys.
We might remember that after the unexpected defeat at Vienna in 1683, the Muslim world retreated, licked its wounds, and spent three hundred years at peace with the West, expanding only to the east, to the southeast, and into Africa. Remember, too, as they do, that their successes had been due to their appropriation of technology (gunpowder: muskets and cannon) from the West. And consider the Western technology that may fuel their next series of advances: nuclear weapons.
And then we may wonder why our President Obama and Secretary Hillary were so opposed to the military overthrow of Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and so unwilling to recognize and support the new leader, el-Sisi, even after his democratic election – especially when, since his election as Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has "repeatedly called on Egypt's senior clerics, both in the ministry of religious endowments and at Al-Azhar, to act to reform the religious discourse and mend the reputation of Islam."
Aid money earmarked for Egypt has been redirected to Tunisia, whose citizens are "more likely than people of any other nationality to join the Islamic State." El-Sisi, of course, has received bipartisan criticism for human rights violations, mostly for killing Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood persuasion – yes, the same Muslim Brotherhood Obama praised.
Not to say there's any likelihood of Islam being reformed so that killing infidels is haram and terrorists are kaffirs. Murder is a sin, but murder is the killing of innocent people, and there's no such thing as an innocent infidel. What we may expect to see is a reluctance to publicize, along with attempts to conceal. ISIS, for example, has been urged to stop making videos of its crucifixions and incinerations. And I don't know if Saudi Arabia still gives its reward of $5,000 to the families of suicide bombers any longer. Saddam's Iraq was even more generous to the martyrs of Hamas – $25,000 or more to each family.
Yes, our multi-culti multi-tolerant elites – and you know who you are – blissfully ignore the part that the depth and breadth of religious devotion plays in this manifest urge for immediate transport to Paradise. They think suicide bombing is an exotic cultural quirk, like shame and honor killings or female circumcision. Yes, they are aware that these practices are in some sense religious in origin, but that just serves to give them some cachet of exemption from bourgeois moral standards.
More to the point, it is cause for some rejoicing that the incoming President Trump will be unconcerned about charges of cultural insensitivity and unlikely to plump for removal of secular dictators who are at war with Islamists. He might even be willing to shake the hand of El-Sisi, and he might decide to sell him those planes and tanks after all.