Waiting to Hear the Voice of the Moderate Muslim Majority

Article Summary
We must listen for the so-far silent voice of moderate Muslims, writes Ben-Dror Yemini. Although Islamic radicalization has taken root among second- and third-generation immigrants in Europe, many moderate groups are emerging to oppose them.

Against the background of the Islamic fury [over the movie by “Sam Bacile” that mocked Prophet Muhammad], it seems that the [Israeli] Channel 10 series "Allah Islam" (by David Deri and Zvi Yehezkeli) [documenting 'Islam's conquest of Europe'] is the right thing at the right time. Because the spread of radical Islam also means the spread of anti-Semitism and abysmal hatred for the state of Israel. The first [of four] installments [of "Allah Islam"] portrayed the dismal reality that this column has also described, time after time.

But we have to exercise caution in these matters. Yes, we have to point out these kinds of phenomena. But we also have to show the other side of the coin.

First, the radicals are not the majority. Perhaps they are the most prominent, and of course the most violent, but they do not necessarily represent the majority. Those we see at demonstrations holding signs saying “Islam will take over the world” or “Death to the infidels” — represents an Islamic minority and not the Muslim majority.

Second, reformist groups are rising up among the Muslims in Europe to struggle against the jihadists of all stripes. They already have research institutes such as Quilliam in London; there are also former repentants who publish books such as Ed Husain’s "The Islamist" [published in 2007]; and feminist groups have formed with broad-based support (such as the French “Not Whores, Not Submissives” organization). And, of course, there is the silent majority comprised of those who are not involved in any activities on behalf of imposing the Sharia laws or anything similar — the same people who sometimes find themselves victims of the [radical] groups.

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The Islamic immigration created several books, some of which have already been mentioned in this column. Recently, Canadian journalist Doug Saunders has published a book called "The Myth of the Muslim Tide" [published in August 2012]. Saunders is an unmistakable product of conciliatory liberalism. Everything is OK, he claims. No problem. No danger. There is no Islamization. He presents a list of comparisons between the Islamic immigration and earlier immigration waves, such as those of the Irish, Italians and Jews. Saunders argues that every immigration wave had its problems, so that the Muslim immigration will also turn out OK.

The book includes important data, but its comparisons are completely fallacious. No minority among the Jewish, Italian or Irish immigrants declared a desire to Islamize Europe or Canada, and there were certainly no violent minorities that turned entire outlying neighborhoods into no-entrance zones for the police. There was no terror, and there was no incitement to jihad. The problems were in the first generation, and they disappeared in the second or third generations. By contrast, radicalism in Muslim communities develops precisely in the second and third generations. Thus in Britain, for example, 7% of youths aged 16-24 admire terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, as opposed to only 3% of the 55-or-higher age group; 37% of the youths want to impose the Sharia laws, as opposed to only 17% of the adult group. An absolute majority of youths, 74%, prefer that their wives wear veils in contrast to only 28% of the adults. These facts do not point to a process of moderation over time.

Despite this, Saunder’s book is replete with numerous thought-provoking facts. He shows how, over time, birthrates among Muslims begin to [decline and] approach that of the local population. There are also signs that point to [Muslim] adoption of the values of the assimilating culture. We see that less, because it doesn’t photograph well. But Islamist street protests, on the other hand, are great photo-ops.

Anyone familiar with public opinion polls knows that different studies can show different, even opposite, results. In contrast to Saunders’ data, there are many other studies that point to radicalization processes and strengthen the picture we receive from the ["Allah Islam"] TV series that is aired on [the Israeli] Channel 10. Thus, fairness and the existence of contradictory data require us to be cautious so as not to slide [down the slippery slope] toward racism, and to view the phenomenon in its proper proportion.

To be perfectly clear, all this pertains to Israeli Arabs as well. Over and over, this column has presented the strident voices in the continuum that extends from Azmi Bishara [former Israeli MP, who fled after being questioned by police on suspicion of aiding the Hezbollah during wartime] and Hanin Zoabi [Israeli MP] to [Sheikh] Raed Salah [a leader of the Islamic movement who was convicted in Israel of having contact with an Iranian intelligence agent]. But they are not the essence of it all. Far from it. Most of the Israeli Arabs are loyal citizens who want to remain Israelis, are proud of being Israelis and as such want to share the obligations involved, not only the privileges. We hear and see this majority less and less. Yes, we must not ignore the strident voices, but we must not forget the majority whose voices we barely hear.

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Found in: radicalization, jihad, israeli-arabs, islam, allah islam
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