The world has once again been rocked by terrorism.
I find it difficult to believe that this latest attack has been linked to Islam. I was certain the next act of terrorism on Western soil was going to be the Mormons, or perhaps the Amish, maybe even a group of secular agnostics.
There is a reason why the previous sentence is absurd, but it is something that only a minority of people afflicted with the increasingly unacceptable mental defect of intellectual honesty are capable of admitting: beliefs matter. Not all beliefs are equal, nor produce the same results. Some are objectively worse, even if not particularly so on paper. Most religions created nearer the dawn of human civilisation than our current modern world share similar problems but most have adapted over time under the weight of social pressure, and it is that social pressure which is lacking in regards to Islam.
Bad ideas must be critiqued if they are ever to lose their influence, but many live in fear. The fear of being labelled racist, or intolerant, or the fear that pursuing progress could risk further violence. And so, they remain silent – not about the actions of extremists but about the direct connection to the doctrine. Their silence emboldens terrorists and consigns the world to more of the very violence they hope to avoid.
Others are more dangerous, actively enforcing the above culture of appeasement with bullying tactics that silence and discredit necessary voices.
Islam will never become the religion of peace that it purports to be until society creates a culture that enables reformation. Vital aspects of Islamic doctrine must be challenged – from without, as well as within – and it is the former that is crucial for the empowerment and protection of reformists who face death for their dissent.
Instead, apologists slander would-be reformists with racist attacks for merely having the courage to disrupt the status quo. Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamist and now moderate Muslim and founder of the Quilliam Foundation created to fight radicalisation and extremism, has been denounced as a ‘house Muslim’, ‘native informant’, ‘porch monkey’, ‘Uncle Tom’, ‘lapdog’, and a ‘neo-conservative war-monger’ for the crime of scrutinising his own faith the way his opponents happily do with Christianity. Islamic apologists routinely deploy these tactics whilst reassuring themselves of their own moral superiority, and the public plays their part.
The problem of terrorism will only increase while we ignore or condone the source of its ideological roots. We will, and so it will.
What will it take for you to speak up? If not 129 innocent people murdered while enjoying their daily lives in a city not unlike your own, if not the hundreds more injured, then what? A similar attack in your own country? Your own city? One that kills a friend or family member? When will it be enough? Ever?
We can’t even start the conversation.
An Open Letter to Moderate Muslims by Ali A. Rizvi