February 7, 2006
The Cartoon Crisis Conspiracy and Moderate Muslims
By Thomas Lifson
crisis which has left embassies ablaze and sparked riots from
Beirut to Bangkok and Jarkarta was a set-up job, planned and executed
by a group of Muslim leaders from Denmark in concert with leading
lights of the Islamic world. The conspirators used supremely inflammatory
cartoons never published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands
Posten to gin up a campaign of violence and intimidation
against Denmark, the EU, and the West.
availability of Danish flags for burning in obscure outposts
of the Muslim world suggests a great deal of advance planning.
in taking a four-month-old incident in far-away Denmark and making
it into a crisis roiling the streets of Beirut, Bangkok and Jakarta
among other Muslim outposts, include Arab League Secretary Amr
Moussa, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque Sheikh Mohammad Sayyed Tantawi,
and Sunni Islam’s most influential scholar, Yusuf al Qaradawi,
to Lorenzo Vidino of the Counter Terrorism Blog.
very heavy hitters in the umma, the world community of
raise themselves about this crisis manufactured by a who’s
who in the world of Islam: Why was a plan created and put into
effect? And why now?
to the second question is likely found in the need to whip up
Muslim unity in the face of several severe challenges on the world’s
political agenda. As Richard Baehr notes,
the new Hamas government of the Palestinian territories needs
to continue on life support via cash infusions from the European
Union and other donor nations, including the United States. Fear
and chastening have usually worked to unlock resources and sympathyin
the past, so why not now?
Iran is facing potentially serious consequences from the referral
of its nuclear program to the UN Security Council, not to mention
a possible military attack on said facilities. Syria and its clients
in Lebanon also face ongoing pressure and consequences from the
assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri. At such
a time, anti-Western anger serves to unite the fractious Sunni
and Shia elements of the umma, and make the infidels
more cautious about the Arab or Muslim street, in case they plan
any actual use of force or other compulsion.
to question 2 alone may seem to be sufficient to generate an answer
to question 1. But there are longer term, far more important strategic
goals being advanced, matters beyond the immediate tactical considerations
of hardball geopolitics, no matter how serious these immediate
concerns may be.
battle for moderate Muslims
Bush has repeatedly made the argument that we must work with and
strengthen the forces of “moderate Islam” to combat
those who have “hijacked a great religion.” Although
it is far too impolitic for any political leader to admit, the
real terms of the struggle we face are as follows:
1. A subset
of the world’s 1.4 billion or so Muslims wants to destroy
freedom of religion and impose Sharia law on all humanity. The
Global Caliphate is the name for this ideal state toward which
they strive, and for which many will happily sacrifice their lives.
Even the smallest estimates number these activists, recently labeled
Islamofascists but existing virtually throughout the almost 1400
years of Islam, in the millions.
Muslim conquerors rode out of Arabia in the century following
Muhammad’s death, Islam has sought to spread the True Faith
throughout the world. The injunction to force the rest of humanity
to choose between conversion and death or Dhimmitude is not merely
a matter of saving souls, the power driving Christian evangelism,
or compassion for fellow men trapped in suffering, the motive
driving Buddhist outreach. Islam as dictated by its scripture
is not merely a matter of personal faith, it is also a political
system, forever unchangeable, based on the Quran and Hadith.
2. A much
larger subset of the umma lacks deep commitment to establishing
a Global Caliphate, and watches for signals to guide its behavior
toward each other and other faiths.
like most other human beings, just want to get along and take
care of their families and their lives. For them, whatever political
and religious system has power where they live is the one they
will follow, however grudgingly or enthusiastically their circumstances
and values may incline them.
is abundant scripture and tradition sanctioning the use of extreme
violence against those who in any way are seen to deny, mock,
or insult Muhammad and Islam, or any of their teachings.
4. The only
way that Islamofascism can be defeated and the world’s Muslims
live in harmony with other faiths in today’s interconnected
world is for questions of faith to be discussed without fear.
Fundamental questions need to be debated among Muslims about the
use of violence against unbelievers and those Muslims who dare
question any scriptural teachings. The rest of us must be permitted
to express opinions as well.
and Dutch Member of Parliament Hirsi Ali (who now lives in hiding
under death threats) makes the point convincingly:
free discussion of Islam remains rare and dangerous, certainly
in the Islamic world, and even in our politically correct times
in the West… Apostasy is still punishable by long prison
sentences and even death in many Islamic countries such as Pakistan
cannot liberalize Islam without criticizing the Prophet and
the Koran…You cannot redecorate a house without entering
seek the same goal as the Islamofascists, the global reign of
Islam as the unchallenged religion of humanity, understand Hirsi
Ali’s point very well. For them it is essential that ordinary
members of the umma never see fundamental questions raised
and never start raising them on their own. For once degrees
of individual autonomy are granted on spiritual questions, and
the right to question and make up one’s own mind becomes
established, the top-down pattern of divinely-sanctioned authority
inherent in the ideal of a Global Caliphate collapses.
Muslims by definition are people who recognize some limits on
scriptural injunctions to spread the faith by violence. Questioning
religious injunctions from others and deciding for oneself the
best answers is the only way such moderation will spread in the
to establish a global norm – a custom enforced by social
sanction, not law – that Sharia restrictions shall apply
even in non-Muslim lands, the Islamofascists are engaging in prophylaxis:
preventing the “disease” of free discussion and debate
over topics they wish to control exclusively from ever gaining
traction and possibly spreading to their own constituency.
It is quite
understandable that caring, sensitive Westerners seek to avoid
offending the religious sensibilities of any serious believers,
Muslims included. Such empathy
is normally a highly commendable impulse.
to the demand that those most willing to use violence be allowed
to control the discussion and stifle debate, among infidels and
Muslims alike, is a betrayal of not only the moderate Muslims,
but of all those who hope someday to live in peace with an Islam
that grants legitimacy to religious dissent and to the claims
of other faiths.
Lifson is the editor and publisher of The