With friends like Dean Obeidallah, Islam does not need enemies. In a post at The Daily Beast he writes
Look, thereâ€™s no such thing as â€œradical Islam.â€ There is only one Islam. But there are radical Muslims. And there are Muslims who engage in terrorist acts
There are plenty of other bloopers in the post but that’s the one that nettled me. Consider this from Pew Research on opinion in the Muslim world:
In most countries where the survey asked Muslims questions about religious extremism more than 75% say suicide bombing or other violence against civilians is rarely or never justified.
But substantial minorities in several countries think violence against civilians is at least sometimes justified
In Egypt, a country with a population of 82 million, that minority numbers about 24 million people. In Bangladesh, a country of 156 million, the number is 41 million. Using rough numbers of about a quarter of the total number of Muslims in the world that would mean that about 400 million Muslims believe in using violence against civilians. If even 1% of those who say that are willing to put their beliefs into practice that means there are 4 million “radical Muslims”. And that’s assuming that those who say they oppose the use of violence are telling the truth. The phenomenon of people telling pollsters what they think the pollster wants to hear is well-documented.
If anything that supports the view that those in the West who are alarmed about violent Muslims are being prudent.
His example from the United States is the Klu Klux Klan. Is he seriously contending that a quarter of Americans today sympathize with the KKK? That requires more than a blithe assertion. I think it’s a baldfaced lie.
Additionally, I think that there’s a debate going on in the West. If there is only “one Islam” but a substantial proportion of Muslims profess a belief in political violence to achieve their ends, how is that to be reconciled with the claims of the others that they don’t? If those who don’t refuse to characterize those who do as unIslamic, what should we believe?