August 13, 2010

Video: Muslims Moderates Missing the Point in Countering Online Jihadis

The Muslim Public Affairs Council has produced a video which tries to counter propaganda by online jihadis encouraging violence. I'm going to embed the CNN report on the video since it has some added value, but click on the link above to see the original.

Some of these guys in the video are liberals, others moderates, others ... not so much -- at least by modern and Western standards of "moderate".

So, you "denounce terrorism". Welcome to humanity. And I welcome the move, of course.

Especially the takeaway at the end of the CNN video below from Canadian Muslim clerics that denounce attacks against Canadians and Americans, I'm assuming (no reference given in the story) it's the Canadian Muslim Congress which is a group of secular and liberal Muslims. These guys are against the Ground Zero Mosque and are pretty awesome. I support them but I wonder how representative they are of the wider community? My gut says not much, but I could (hopefully) be wrong.

But it's not enough to "denounce terrorism" as the clerics in the video do. Every one "denounces terrorism". Terrorists "denounce terrorism". It's all in how you define "terrorism".

I define "terrorism" as targeted acts of violence against civilians in order to rouse fear and change political stances. Terrorists define "terrorism" as any time a Muslim is killed by anyone who isn't a Muslim or who isn't Muslim enough. Of course, when a "real Muslim" kills another Muslim who isn't Muslim enough, then this isn't "terrorism" -- it's a "legitimate act of resistance".

I'm going to go further and say to Muslims that it's not enough to denounce terrorism. That's great and all, but there are two more things you must do if you want my friendship.

1) Denounce sharia law.
2) Denounce specific acts of terror by Islamist groups against non-Islamists.

Doing those two things brings you into the 21st century and we can deal with our political disagreements in a civil fashion.

One other problem I have with the ad -- however well intentioned it is -- is that it doesn't really counter the jihadist narrative. The jihadist narrative does not begin with violence for violence sake. The narrative begins with a story about how Muslims are oppressed all over the world by non-Muslims. When you go to a jihadist website much of what is shown are images of Muslims being oppressed. That is to say that the narrative put forth is a narrative of "justice".

I find it hard to believe that you can counter a worldview where Muslims are oppressed with a worldview where Muslims are oppressed. In fact, the violence committed by jihadists seems the inevitable outcome of the narrative.

If Muslims are being oppressed then isn't it just to fight back? Ie, this is defensive and not offensive warfare.

The jihadists themselves claim to be fighting for the liberation of Muslims from oppression. They see sharia as the answer to oppression, and not democracy based in individual rights.

What you need to do to counter the narrative must be to show that however oppressed Muslims are -- and this is absolutely true -- that the alternative, sharia law, is even more oppressive. That oppression in Muslim countries is most likely to occur in the name of Islam, rather than in spite of it.

And to do that you must reject sharia law. Any counter narrative that does not reject sharia will probably be seen as inconsistent and incoherent. Because in the jihadi mindset if sharia is just then why is fighting for it somehow unjust?

Again, I love the sincere effort by those who made the video but the jihadis are already laughing at it. Seriously.

Let's look at some of the comments the video is garnering at YouTube, the most recent comment (as of this writing) showing exactly the narrative described above:

How are we as Muslims supposed to get justice when the people oppressing us REFUSE to give it to us? Can you give a SPECIFIC solution that will work?

--The Jihadi Fan Club

And let's look at what seems to be (to me) a so-called "moderates" response, also picked because it was the second to last comment given (as of this writing):
Not speaking against Injustice is greater injustice. We do condemn act of terrorism and atrocities. but i also condemn the presence of American army in foreign lands, which is going to increase this problem. 2millions muslims death in Iraq and Afghanistan is not = to 3000 died in 911. you have to see the picture from both side. Also, people need to see the prove of initial act of terrorism, whether it Osama was capable of doing this or not. which west is continously ingnoring.

--- 786awais786

Again we see that the narrative of the extremists is very close to the narrative of the so-called "moderates". Violence is the natural outcome of the same root ideology.

This seems very much like the debate between Marxists who believed in change at the ballot box vs. Marxists who believe in revolutionary and violent change. One is simply an extreme -- and to many, logical -- outcome of the other. And in the end, both means gets you to the same oppressive ends. Muslims need to denounce both the ends and the means.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 12:12 PM | Comments |