The Islamist ideology must be intellectually terminated

Maajid Nawaz takes the opposite view from Mariella Mosthof:

The atrocious attack in Orlando, Florida, was an act of ISIS-inspired jihadist terrorism that targeted gays. It must concern us all.

Before any of our assumed multiple identities, we are human beings first and foremost. You don’t have to be black to condemn racism, nor Jewish to condemn anti-Semitism, nor Muslim to condemn anti-Muslim bigotry, and you certainly don’t have to be gay to condemn the evil that just descended upon Orlando.

Exactly that. The attack was targeted, but it does not follow and it is not the case that we can’t all respond to it, even if we’re not part of the group that Omar Mateen wanted to harm.

Just as we Muslims expect solidarity from wider society against anti-Muslim bigotry and racism, likewise we must reciprocate solidarity toward victims of Islamist extremism. Just as we encourage others to actively denounce racism wherever they see it, so too must we actively denounce Islamist theocratic views wherever we find them.

It’s about solidarity, you see? Muslims expect solidarity from the rest of us, as they should, and we expect solidarity from Muslims. That’s how solidarity works. If there’s an earthquake or a tornado, people run to help, even at risk to themselves. That’s solidarity. We should never ever spit on it and reject it.

The killer of Orlando was a homophobic Muslim extremist, inspired by an ideological take on my own religion, Islam. In just the first seven days of this holy month of Ramadan, various jihadists have carried out attacks in Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Damascus, Idlib, Beirut, Orlando, and now Paris.

Islamists withhold solidarity from non-Muslims, because they consider the ummah the only proper locus of solidarity. That’s a mistake. It’s a moral mistake, a mistake of humanity.

Drones aren’t going to end Islamism, Maajid goes on. The only way to do that is to challenge it intellectually.

In the long run, only reducing the local appeal of this ideology will solve the problem. Whereas Islam today requires reform, the Islamist ideology must be intellectually terminated. To do so requires first acknowledging it exists, isolating it from Muslims, devising a strategy to challenge it, and then backing the voices that do.

As I argued in a TV debate with Fareed Zakaria, the danger of not doing so is twofold. Within the Muslim context, it is a betrayal of those liberal reforming Muslims who risk everything daily. These are feminist Muslims, gay Muslims, ex-Muslims, dissenting liberal and secular Muslim voices, persecuted minority sects among Muslims, the Ismailis, the Ahmedis and the Shia—all these different minorities within the minority of the Muslim community—they are immediately betrayed by our silence.

The answer is not to shut up if you’re not one of them, it’s to join them in talking, along with amplifying their voices, sharing their articles, advertising their speeches. It’s solidarity, again.

What happens if we don’t name the Islamist ideology and distinguish it from Islam? We leave a void for the vast majority of Americans—who are unaware of the nuances in this debate—to be filled by Donald Trump and the Populist Right. They will go on to blame all versions of Islam and every Muslim, and their frustration at not being able to talk about the problem will give in to rage, as it has done. By refusing to discuss it, we only increase the hysteria. Like “he who must not be named”—the Voldemort Effect, I call it—we increase the fear.

And then you get Trump gloating over Orlando. Nobody wants that.

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