Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube/Diller distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. His bi-weekly column appears regularly in newspapers around the globe. His website, DanielPipes.org, is one of the most accessed internet sources of specialized information on the Middle East and Islam.
Tue May 08, 2007 9:48 am A Million Moderate Muslims on the March
A Million Moderate Muslims on the March
By Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
May 8, 2007
[Title and text modified from NY Sun version]
"Moderate Unicorns," huffed a reader, responding to my recent plea that Western states bolster moderate Muslims. Dismissing their existence as a myth, he notes that non-Muslims "are still waiting for moderates to stand and deliver, identifying and removing extremist thugs from their mosques and their communities."
It's a valid skepticism and a reasonable demand. Recent events in Pakistan and Turkey, however, prove that moderate Muslims are no myth.
In Pakistan, an estimated 100,000 people demonstrated on April 15 in Karachi, the country's largest city, to protest the plans of a powerful mosque in Islamabad, the Lal Masjid, to establish a parallel court system based on Islamic law, the Sharia. "No to extremism," roared the crowd. "We will strongly resist religious terrorism and religious extremism," exhorted Altaf Hussain, leader of the Mutahida Qaumi Movement, at the rally.
In Turkey, more than a million moderate Muslims in five marches protested the bid of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to take over the presidency of the republic, giving it control over the two top government offices (the other being the prime ministry, currently filled by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan).
The first march took place in the capital city, Ankara, on April 14, organized by Şener Eruygur, a former general who is president of the Atatürk Thought Association. An estimated 300,000 secularists (i.e., moderate Muslims) held up banners with pictures of the republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, chanting slogans along the lines of "We don't want an imam as president," "We respect belief, but not radicalism," and "Turkey is secular and will stay secular!"
A young woman carrying a huge Turkish flag, Muge Kaplan, explained that the crowd is Muslim and believes in Islam, but it doesn't want Islam "to become our whole way of life." A farmer, Bülent Korucu, asserted that the crowd is defending its republic "against religious fundamentalists."
Repeating these themes, a second march on April 29 in Istanbul boasted 700,000 marchers. On May 5, smaller marches took place in the western Anatolia towns of Manisa, Çanakkale, and Marmaris.
Nor are the masses alone in resisting AKP's Islamists. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer warned that, for the first time since 1923, when the secular republic came into being, its pillars "are being openly questioned." He also inveighed against the imposition of a soft Islamist state, predicting that it would turn extremist. Onur Öymen, deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People's Party, cautioned that the AKP's taking the presidency would "upset all balances" and create a very dangerous situation.
The military Turkey's ultimate powerbroker issued two statements reinforcing this assessment. On April 12, the chief of staff, Gen. Mehmet Yaşar Büyükanıt, expressed his hope that "someone who is loyal to the principles of the republicnot just in words but in essenceis elected president." Two weeks later, the military's tone became more urgent, announcing that the presidential election "has been anxiously followed by the Turkish Armed Forces [which] maintains its firm determination to carry out its clearly specified duties to protect" secular principles.
This resolute stand against Islamism by moderate Turkish Muslims is the more striking when contrasted with the cluelessness of Westerners who pooh-pooh the dangers of the AKP's ascent. A Wall Street Journal editorial assures Turks that their prime minister's popularity "is built on competent and stable government." Dismissing the historic crossroads that President Sezer and others perceive, it dismisses as "fear mongering" doubts about Prime Minister Erdoğan's commitment to secularism and ascribes these to petty campaign tactics "to get out the anti-AKP vote and revive a flagging opposition."
"Even if Erdoğan walked on water, the secularists wouldn't believe him," observes a former American ambassador to Turkey, Morton Abramowitz. Olli Rehn, the European Union's "enlargement commissioner," instructed the Turkish military to leave the presidency election in the hands of the democratically-elected government, calling the issue "a test case" for the armed forces to respect its political masters, a position the U.S. government subsequently endorsed.
Is it not telling that great numbers of moderate Muslims see danger where so many non-Muslims are blind? Do developments in Pakistan and Turkey not confirm my oft-repeated point that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam the solution? And do they not suggest that ignorant non-Muslim busybodies should get out of the way of those moderate Muslims determined to relegate Islamism to its rightful place in the dustbin of history?
And what, pray-tell, would be the True Goal of Moderate Muslims?
Perhaps the following two examples would give us a clue to what "Moderate Muslims" would really be "praying for" in regard to their faith:
AP - 6/11/2004
CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) Spokesperson
"I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like
the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in
the future. ...But I'm not going to do anything violent to promote that. I'm going to do it through education."
Co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
"Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
This is in contrast with "Fundamental Muslims" who are taught that Islamic victory and world domination is only gained through "Jihad" against all non-Islamic societies.
The ultimate goal of both groups is the same - just using different tactics.
Tue May 08, 2007 10:14 pm Moderation vs. Extremism by Mr. Pipes
Do developments in Pakistan and Turkey not confirm my oft-repeated point that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam the solution? And do they not suggest that ignorant non-Muslim busybodies should get out of the way of those moderate Muslims determined to relegate Islamism to its rightful place in the dustbin of history?
I admire Mr. Pipes and I do not wish to be a busybody, but permit me to suggest, this slogan: "radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam the solution" is perfectly sensible but for the fact that this radicalism is deadly, not rational, and relentless in it's determination to overcome by intimidation the "moderates" by an order of magnitude that renders the slogan idealistic and, therefore, dangerous as a matter of policy.
...radicalism is deadly, not rational, and relentless in it's determination to overcome by intimidation the "moderates" by an order of magnitude that renders the slogan idealistic and, therefore, dangerous as a matter of policy.
Great point but there is one caveat to keep in mind and it is this:
Just as not all citizens of Western Societies are in active military duty, not all Muslims will take the extremist course of "Jihad" in order to advance the ideology that is taught in the Qur'an. If "Moderate Muslims" really take the Islamic faith seriously, they will seek to make changes in the government of their non-Islamic host country through the political and social process. It is happening now.
Remember that Islam is not just a religion; it is a social-political ideology that is indoctrinated into the mindset of those who sincerely believe that the Qur'an is the only true holy book of God and that Muhammad was the "Last and Final Prophet of God sent to mankind." It, therefore, becomes incumbent on all Muslims (Moderate and Extremist) to help advance an Islamic world domination for "Allah" through any means possible - extreme or moderate.
Muhammad taught that "War is Deception" and that "Paradise is found under the shades of swords."
Do Not Be Deceived: The Free World is facing an ideology that is not compatible with Freedom of Religion; Freedom of the Press; Women's Rights; Freedom to dress as one wishes; etc.