Thursday, 28 July 2016

Many Muslims back Islamic State

My letter published today's South China Morning Post:
Many Muslims back Islamic State
Siddiq Bazarwala claims to speak “on behalf of ordinary Muslims” (“Vast majority of Muslims are peaceful”, July 17).
He also claims to speak on behalf of “Hong Kong people” who, he says, “broadly understand that recent events in the West are a consequence of its failed foreign policies in Muslim countries”.
Well, excuse me, but Bazarwala does not speak on behalf of this Hong Kong person.
I do not accept that Islamic terrorist barbarities are the ­result of failed foreign policies. But that’s a question for another day.
I’ll also pass by Bazarwala’s comparisons of Islamic terrorist acts with drunk driving accidents or getting a speeding ticket. These clearly trivialise ­terrorism.
Rather, I’ll focus on his assertion that “the vast majority (more than 99.9 per cent) of the world’s Muslim population ­cannot be held responsible for the heinous actions of fringe groups like” Islamic State (IS).
Harvard professor Niall ­Ferguson wrote that IS has “a minimum of 63 million supporters – and that is based on ­opinion polls in just 11 countries” (“Terrorist networks ­cannot be defeated in isolation”, April 4).
That number may well be 130 plus million if extrapolated. (1,000 times more than Bazarwala claims). So, 10 per cent of the world’s Muslims support the most extreme, most ­barbaric, most cruel and most aggressive manifestation of ­Islam.
Other polls of Muslims around the world show shockingly high levels of bigotry – 70 per cent of Muslim countries criminalise apostasy; 82 per cent of Egyptian Muslims favour stoning to death for adultery, and 84 per cent want death for apostasy. Pluralities of ­Muslims in the West want sharia law imposed.
Yet Bazarwala says “peace and harmony will prevail”, if we just “understand” that Muslim leaders condemn terrorist attacks. Sure, but that’s not nearly enough. A more intellectually honest young Muslim, Omar Mahmood, from the US, wrote in June that the statement from Islamic leaders about the jihadi attack, in Orlando, ­Florida, “condemns the ­massacre, ­distances it from Muslims, and stresses that we must all live in harmony. That much is predictable, and commendable. But the statement fails to give American Islam what it needs most, and what is ­missing from the political and social media response: intellectual honesty.”
If Bazarwala believes he speaks on “behalf of ordinary Muslims”, intellectual honesty demands they face these serious issues in Islamic ideology, ­beliefs which many millions of ­“ordinary Muslims” hold.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

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