Thursday, December 10th 2015
As the United States considers the way forward against the Islamic State, the need for troops from the region – from Arab, Muslim nations – is now much discussed. For the information dimension of the contest, it’s increasingly appreciated that Muslim voices have more credibility than Western ones. No doubt this insight is behind Richard Stengel’s work to develop a regional network of centers that oppose radicalization. The principle applies not only to international communication with audiences in another country, but within domestic audiences too.
New York attorney and author Khurram Dara discussed “Our Duty as American Muslims” in a December 9, 2015, op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. The headline read, “We are the only ones who can lead a winning fight against the radicalism crippling our faith.” Here are some bullets:
- After San Bernardino, American Muslims have to come to terms with an ever more apparent truth: that we, and our mainstream Muslim brethren, are the only ones who can lead a winning fight against the radicalism crippling our faith.
- Attacks like last week’s underscore the importance of countering extremist propaganda. . . . A propaganda war must be waged on radical Islam, and American Muslims have to be on the front lines for it to be credible.
- It isn’t enough to condemn radicalism—we must actively engage in counter-extremism messaging. We must build an intellectual and theological case against radicalism. Our religious leaders must educate and warn our youth about the dangers of searching for spiritual guidance on the Internet. And we have to be vigilant.
- There is a war going on that extends beyond Syria, and American Muslims are under siege. Not by a fringe group of bigoted Americans, but by a fringe group of Muslims abroad who seek to tear our Western communities apart. They are trying to target the disaffected among us, hijack the mosque pulpit, and convince us that we’re unwelcome in our own country.
- But in order to lead this fight with unified support, certain things will have to change.
- We can’t call out prejudice against our faith without also calling out the gender inequality and homophobia that we find in some of our communities.
- We can’t be champions of our own religious freedom without also championing the rights of all traditions across the globe that wish to peacefully practice, including other Muslim sects we may disagree with doctrinally.
- We have to change the way we think about Islamic law and vilify the medieval judicial practices that persist in the Middle East.
- And we must have uncomfortable but necessary conversations about where much of the funding for this cancerous supremacist ideology is coming from—Saudi Arabia.