The three-day White
House conference on “violent extremism” exposed anew Obama’s inability or
unwillingness to understand the challenge of Islamist terrorism, let alone to
lead the fight against it.
The conference was
billed as a global event bringing together people of different views from more
than 60 countries. In practice, however, it acted more as an echo chamber for
Obama’s politically correct approach.
extremism” is misleading, to say the least. (Is there extremism without
violence?) The generic term obscures the fact that we face a specific form of
terrorism rooted, nurtured and waged in the name of Islam.
Obama did defend his
evasion: “Al Qaeda and ISIL [a k a ISIS] and groups like it . . .
try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of
Islam,” he said. “We must never accept the premise that they put forward,
because it is a lie.” Operatives of al Qaeda and ISIS “are not religious
leaders — they’re terrorists,” he said.
In fact, these
terrorists now call their outfit the Islamic State, or IS, under a caliph. And
no higher authority has the legitimacy and power to challenge their claim.
Islam has no
mechanism for excommunication. Individuals can leave the ummah and be regarded
as apostates (murtad). But no one who swears he is a Muslim can be excluded.
Even very bad
Muslims are still Muslims as long as they haven’t thrice publicly rejected the
two testimonies. (The two testimonies are accepting the oneness of God and that
Muhammad is His Prophet.) Thus, neither Obama nor anyone else is qualified to
decide who is a Muslim — or what is “true Islam.”
Islam does allow
believers to part ways with anyone they deem misguided or deviant. At the
theological level, this is known as Itizal (seeking solitude). At a more mundane
level, we have Bira’ah (self-exoneration). The “violent extremists” charge
their foes within Islam of Takfir (covering up the truth).
Yet Muslims aren’t
using any of these three mechanisms to denounce the Islamic State or other
Islamist terror groups. We’ve seen no Bira’ah marches in any Muslim-majority
country, nor organized efforts by Muslim “communities” in the West to
“exonerate” themselves from the IS throat-cutters.
If Islamic leaders
can bring a million people in the streets of Tehran, Islamabad or Cairo to burn
the US flag and Obama effigies, how is it that they do not authorize Bira’ah
marches against IS?
Muslims may feel that, since Obama insists that IS has nothing to do with Islam,
there’s no need for Bira’ah.
Go to any mosque in
any democratic country and you’ll hear sermons filled with a “lite”
version of the same tale of Muslim victimhood that the “Caliph” Abu Bakr
al-Baghdadi churns out in cyberspace.
has other faults.
At the conference,
he said: “If we are going to prevent people from being susceptible to false
promises of extremism, then the international community has to offer something
better” — specifically, “economic growth and devoting more resources on
education, including for girls and women.”
This is painfully naïve.
The “Caliphate” isn’t recruiting among the world’s downtrodden. Its
administration is run by highly educated individuals, many from wealthy families
in Arab countries as well as Pakistan, Russia, China and Afghanistan.
The “caliph” has
also attracted at least 15,000 jihadis and volunteers for martyrdom from almost
all Western democracies. Indeed, more Western citizens are fighting for the
“caliph” than against him.
His army, including
many women from the West, does not consist of poverty-stricken individuals
protesting against Western imperialism and oppression, as Obama implies.
They all seem fairly
well-fed and stylishly dressed, bearing smartphones and expensive Swiss watches
and cruising in bullet-proof limos.
To say that IS has
nothing to do with Islam is disingenuous and dangerous.
IS is part of Islam,
though Islam cannot and must not be reduced to IS or any other throat-cutting
outfit. Humanity, including the overwhelming majority of “ordinary Muslims,”
faces a growing movement dedicated to conquering the world for its brand of
While humanity is
not at war against Islam, a part of Islam is certainly at war against humanity.
To ignore that fact amounts to a dereliction of intellectual responsibility.