The Myth of ‘Peaceful’ Islam

The U.S. government and the media have engaged in an unprecedented misinformation campaign to convince the American people that Islam is a peaceful religion and that Muslims have no quarrel with us. From the propaganda you’d think that the entire war on terrorism has been provoked by one nutty guy living in a cave in Afghanistan with a misguided understanding of the Koran. To be blunt, we are being force-fed a bunch of baloney.

The followers of Muhammad marched out of Arabia in the seventh century and proceeded to conquer the Middle East and North Africa. They would have liked to conquer the world, but were stopped after they’d made it as far into Europe as Spain. They did not spread peace, but war and created one of the greatest empires the world has ever known, one that lasted more than 1,300 years until the British finally dismantled the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The truth is that many Muslims hate the West because it destroyed their empire and they long for the day when it will be restored. (Incidentally, has anyone else noticed the Saudi flag has a sword on it below the profession of faith?)

Islam is now being portrayed as a tolerant religion. History says otherwise. Though there were certainly periods of relative tolerance, minorities have always been persecuted under Islam. Peoples subjected to Muslim rule usually had a choice between death and conversion, but Jews and Christians, who adhered to the Scriptures, were allowed as dhimmis (protected persons) to practice their faith. This "protection" did little, however, to insure that Jews and Christians were treated well by the Muslims. On the contrary, an integral aspect of the dhimma was that, being an infidel, he had to openly acknowledge the superiority of the true believer — the Muslim.

Jews, especially, have been persecuted throughout Muslim history. Did you know, for example, that the requirement that Jews wear yellow badges was not Hitler’s idea? It was actually Baghdad's Caliph al-Mutawakkil who first designated a yellow badge for Jews in the ninth century.

The Taliban has been demonized for its strict interpretation of Islam and abuses of human rights, particularly women’s rights. Virtually everything negative that has been said about the Taliban, however, can also be said about every other Islamic state, including coalition partners such as Saudi Arabia. Just take a look at the State Department human rights report and you’ll see that in most Arab countries, the Shari'a, or Islamic law, defines the rules of traditional social behavior. Under the law, women are accorded a role inferior to that of men, and are therefore discriminated against with regard to personal rights and freedoms.

And has anyone else noticed a gap in the logic of our solicitous attitude toward the Arab states? The Administration says that we have to be careful not to offend Muslims and keep Israel out of the coalition because it would create problems for Arab leaders who can’t afford to upset the “Arab street.” If the Arab street consists of peaceful Muslims who share our desire to root out terrorism and the handful of fanatics who have perverted Islam, what’s the problem?

Islam divides the world into believers and nonbelievers. If the latter do not submit to Islam, then a holy war must be mounted against them. And keep in mind that Christians (not to mention Baha’is and other religions) are also nonbelievers. There is a saying in the Middle East, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.”

Many Muslims are tolerant and do not believe a jihad means a fighting war, but, in the Middle East, these are probably the minority. The majority, like the thousands of Palestinians who demonstrated in the Palestinian Authority, share bin Laden’s world view. The “Arab street” yearns for the glory days of the empire and believes that the Jews and Americans and all the profane Western influences are cancers that must be excised from the Muslim body. These Muslims also have a sense of history and know that it took centuries to expel the Crusaders, so they are prepared to wage a long fight, confident they will win in the end.

If we buy the sanitized version of Islam presented by CNN and the State Department, U.S. Middle East policy will continue to be marked by failure and our interests at home and abroad will remain in danger.