The year was 2009. I was a guest at a talk show, discussing my newly released book: 72 Virgins. People in the audience called in, referring to me as an Islamophobe. It was the first time I was accused of prejudice against, hatred towards, or irrational fear of Muslims. Those who tried to characterize me as such had no idea what the book was about, but they quickly jumped to conclusions basing their judgment on the evocative title. Some even claimed dishonestly to have read the book, but turned nonverbal or entirely wide of the mark when asked to reflect on the book’s theme.
Throughout the years that followed, I discussed the phenomenon of Islamic terror on my own talk show, whenever the subject came to the fore due to topical events covered by the major news media at the time. I always tried to emphasize, right from the outset, that I did not regard all Muslims as terrorists, and that I did recognize the fact that not all terrorists were Muslims.
My approach to characterizing Islamic terror has always been based on the fact that all reasonable people attributed it to “Radical Islam”—a global movement comprising al-Qaeda, its self-regulating extensions, and even some hot-headed, radicalized individuals with no direct ties to any of the larger Jihadi organizations.
I have also noted that Islam comprises 50% of the term “Radical Islam”, and that Radical Islamists commit their crimes in the name of their religion; they find proof, justification and reinforcement for their acts of terror in their sacred texts. I do not have to become a Qur’an or a Hadith expert to prove that point. I don’t even care if indeed the Qur’an calls for violence (which I believe to be a true characterization). It does not matter as long as the Jihadists claim that it does; they claim to abide by their prophet’s edicts. They keep justifying their acts of terror and violence by telling us that they follow their religious beliefs. What else is the root cause for their acts of terror?
Now, in the minds of many left-minded individuals, this is where I have been crossing the red line. I have been linking Islam with terror, they claim. The principal line of attack other than calling me an Islamophobe, where the term is sandwiched between some unprintable X-rated junk words, has always been consistent with my own approach. Their attack has always been packaged by: “And what about crimes and terror acts committed by Christians in the name of their religion?” and also: “I have a Muslim friend, yada, yada, yada…”
Right; I guess I need to say it one more time. Not all Muslims are terrorists, and not all terrorists are Muslims. Nevertheless, there is a significant segment among the Muslim population who commit terror acts in the name of their religion, a larger segment who do not resort to violence, but do support it wholeheartedly, and even a larger silent segment who neither support it nor condemn it, and thus, let it continue unchallenged. Fortunately, these three segments do not take account of all Muslims—there are also Muslims who view Radical Islam as alien to their interpretation of the Qur’an and to what they see as their peaceful religion.
And then, the fact that Christians—mostly in the distant past and to a lesser degree in the present—committed crimes in the name of their religion, should not be used to cover up the fact that in today’s world, a significant number of terror acts are committed in the name of Islam.
If admitting to the cold reality, while steering clear of expressing hatred towards, or irrational fear of all Muslims, (simply because they happened to be born Muslim) makes me an Islamophobe, so be it. Trying to cover up facts with the aim of protecting a criminal, ruthless underdog (merely because that particular group is perceived as the underdog) is not only corrupt. It is an ideology in need of being condemned.