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October 04, 2004


Nur al-Cubicle

It seems to me that in the War on _Arab_ Terrorism, it doesn't much matter what the Arabs are. Communists, socialists, maoists, radical Islamists, moderate Islamists...for Washington and Tel Aviv they will always be terrorists because it suits their purposes. If we wake up tomorrow and Arab countries are modern democracies, we'll hear about the Arab republican menace.

Imperial commissars like Daniel Pipes can't even accept Edward Said, Hanan Ashrawi or Fadia Faqir. Moderate Islam, however it manifests itself, doesn't have a chance. What does it take? What does it take??


Two follow-ups then:

1) praktike in a Trackback listed above comments:

"There's a difference, I think, between a moderate Muslim and a moderate Islamist."

"A moderate Muslim would be someone like the posters on Muslim Wakeup! A moderate Islamist would be someone like Tariq Ramadan, who would be defined as laid out above. The key difference is that an Islamist is in favor of sharia, whereas an ordinary Muslim can be secualar[sic]."

Is that your view on the distinction and the difference?

2) Perhaps I am just naive, but I hadn't supposed that half or more of the Muslim population was for suicide bombings in Israel. I expected little to no support for the Israeli state but not the extreme manifestations. Or is this a facet of the the Islamist vs. Muslim classification issue from above?

Nur al-Cubicle

Gedanken--I know you asked Abu Aarkvark but doesn't it work like Sinn Fein in the early 20th century?-- sponsoring varying degrees of warfare and terrorism in an attempt to end British rule in Eire [Israeli rule in Palestine]. A few willing to risk all...and a host of sympathizers.

The Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizens Army suggest Hamas and Hizbollah to me.

Let me try recasting the moderate 'difference': A Catholicist is in favor of canon law but an ordinary Catholic can be secular. Half the Irish Catholic population is for blowing up the Post Office and all give little or no support to the British Empire. Does it work?

Or let's try this...Moderate French Catholicist offered post at McGill University but is denied entry to canada in deference to the concerns of great britain in its war with Sinn Fein. Very wobbly.

Or another casting...Moderate Irish catholics do no want to see Ulstermen cast into the sea, but neither do they want Ulstermen to rule the northern provinces. It is known that Sinn Fein wants to oust the Unionists of Ulster but Britain would bomb Dublin and Cork if Sinn Fein were to launch a terror campaign in Belfast.

Ugh, all very muddled--and bloody, too.

the aardvark

Gedanke: I don't know enough about the Muslim Wake Up gang to attribute anything to them, but otherwise it sounds about right. Islamists have an active political and/or social agenda of increasing the role of Islam (however defined) in public life, and that's what sets them apart from ordinary Muslims of whatever political stripe.

On suicide bombing... I think it's almost impossible to exaggerate how angry, depressed, enraged, despairing (I could go on) most Arabs, Muslims, and of course Palestinians have become. There were simultaneous on-line polls by al Jazeera and al Arabiya last week asking whether the Intifada should be continued despite all the suffering. 85% said yes, on both channels - and remember that al Arabiya is supposedly the more moderate and restrained of the two.

Nur al Cubicle (I LOVE that name!): the Irish case sounds like an interesting analogy. On your first comment, that's exactly the reason that I choose to focus on political orientation rather than political positions - to avoid having "moderate" be nothing more (or less) than a proxy for "pro-American." In my view, a moderate can be opposed to American policies, there's no contradiction there; the question is how such opposition is expressed.


I think the Sinn Fein analogy fails in exactly the vein of my question.

No one, to my knowledge, seriously called the Sinn Fein terrorists who bombed the populace 'moderates'. At least in the later part of the 20th century, there was certainly support for attacks on infrastructure and symbols of the 'occupation' as well as assassinations of specific targets but bombings in crowded surroundings were, by my recollection, mostly condemned as not only wrong, but unproductive.

Perhaps that impression is due to the desire of both Sinn Fein and the British to keep word of the worst acts from reaching America. Perhaps the attempts by Sinn Fein's public representatives to distance themselves from the radicals was a convenient fiction to keep from losing support from their US supporters and financiers. But their public statements of the time tended to cast the radicals as an out of control minority.

There have often been factions willing to 'risk all' for their cause, but generally, the majority sympathizers renounced the extreme acts while supporting the cause. (e.g. pro-choice attacks on abortion clinics, violent militants during the civil rights movement)

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