One of our biggest mistakes in the aftermath of 9/11 was naming our response to the attacks “the war on terror” instead of accurately identifying radical Islamists (and the underlying ideology of radical Islamism) as the target of our campaign. This mistake has led to endless confusion about the nature of the ideological and material threat facing the civilized world and the scale of the response that is appropriate.
Radical Islamism is more than simply a religious belief. It is a comprehensive political, economic, and religious movement that seeks to impose sharia—Islamic law—upon all aspects of global society.
Many Muslims see sharia as simply a reference point for their personal code of conduct. They recognize the distinction between their personal beliefs and the laws that govern all people of all faiths.
For the radical Islamist, however, this distinction does not exist. Radical Islamists see politics and religion as inseparable in a way it is difficult for Americans to understand. Radical Islamists assert sharia’s supremacy over the freely legislated laws and values of the countries they live in and see it as their sacred duty to achieve this totalitarian supremacy in practice.
Some radical Islamists use terrorism as a tactic to impose sharia but others use non-violent methods—a cultural, political, and legal jihad that seeks the same totalitarian goal even while claiming to repudiate violence. Thus, the term “war on terrorism” is far too narrow a framework in which to think about the war in which we are engaged against the radical Islamists.
Sharia and Western Civilization
Sharia law is used in many Muslim countries to justify shocking acts of barbarity including stoning, the execution of homosexuals, and the subjugation of women. Sharia does not permit freedom of conscience; it prohibits Muslims from renouncing their Islamic faith or converting to another religion. Sharia does not support religious liberty; it treats non-Muslims as inferior and does not accord them the same protections as Muslims. In these and other instances, sharia is explicitly at odds with core American and Western values. It is an explicit repudiation of freedom of conscience and religious liberty as well as the premise that citizens are equal under the law.
Thus, the radical Islamist effort to impose sharia worldwide is a direct threat to all those who believe in the freedoms maintained by our constitutional system.
Creeping Sharia in the United States
In some ways, it speaks of the goodness of America that we have had such difficulty coming to grips with the challenge of radical Islamists. It is our very commitment to religious liberty that makes us uncomfortable with defining our enemies in a way that appears linked with religious belief.
However, America’s commitment to religious liberty has given radical Islamists a potent rhetorical weapon in their pursuit of sharia supremacy. In a deliberately dishonest campaign exploiting our belief in religious liberty, radical Islamists are actively engaged in a public relations campaign to try and browbeat and guilt Americans (and other Western countries) to accept the imposition of sharia in certain communities, no matter how deeply sharia law is in conflict with the protections afforded by the civil law and the democratic values undergirding our constitutional system.
The problem of creeping sharia is most visibly on display in France and in the United Kingdom, where there are Muslim enclaves in which the police have surrendered authority and sharia reigns. However, worrisome cases are starting to emerge in the United States that show sharia is coming here. Andy McCarthy’s writings, including his new book The Grand Jihad, have been invaluable in tracking instances in which the American government and major public institutions have been unwilling to assert the protections of American law and American values over sharia’s religious code. Some examples include:
In June 2009, a New Jersey state judge rejected an allegation that a Muslim man who punished his wife with pain for hours and then raped her repeatedly was guilty of criminal sexual assault, citing his religious beliefs as proof that he did not believe he was acting in a criminal matter. “This court believes that he was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.” Thankfully, this ruling was reversed in an appellate court.
In May 2008, a disabled student at a public college being assisted by a dog was threatened by Muslim members of the student body, who were reluctant to touch the animal by the prescription of sharia. The school, St. Cloud State, chose not to engage the Muslim community, but simply gave the student credit without actually fulfilling the class hours so as to avoid conflict.
In a similar instance in November 2009, a high school senior in Owatonna, Minn., was suspended in order to protect him from the threat of violence by radical Islamists when he wrote an essay about the special privileges afforded his Somali Muslim counterparts in the school environment.
In order to accommodate sharia’s prohibition of interest payments in financial transactions, the state of Minnesota buys homes from realtors and re-sells them to Muslims at an up-front price. It is simply not the function of government to use tax money to create financial transactions that correspond to a religious code. Moreover, it is a strategy to create a precedent for legal recognition of sharia within U.S. law.
Amazingly, there are strong allegations that the United States now owns the largest provider of sharia financing in the world: AIG.
Last month, police in Dearborn, Mich., which has a large Muslim population, arrested Christian missionaries for proselytizing at an Arab festival. They were doing so in a legal, peaceful manner that is completely permissible by law, but, of course, forbidden by sharia’s rules on proselytizing. Police may say they were trying to prevent an incident, but why should the 1st amendment right to freedom of speech and the exercise of religious freedom be sacrificed in deference to sharia’s intolerance against the preaching of religions other than Islam?
Shockingly, sharia honor killings—in which Muslim women are murdered by their husbands, brothers or other male family members for dishonoring their family—are also on the rise in America but do not receive national attention because they are considered “domestic disturbances.” (A recent article in Marie Claire Magazine highlights recent cases and the efforts to bring national attention to this horrifying trend.)
Cases like this will become all the more common as radical Islamists grow more and more aggressive in the United States.
It is in this context that the controversy over the proposed mosque near Ground Zero must be seen.
Exposing Radical Islamist Hypocrisy at Ground Zero
There are many reasons to doubt the stated intentions of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the Ground Zero mosque. After 9/11 he did not hesitate to condemn the United States as an “accessory” to the attacks but more recently refused to condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization. This is unsurprising considering he has well-established ties to U.S. branches of the Muslim Brotherhood. He has also refused to reveal the sources of funding for the mosque project, which is projected to cost $100 million.
More importantly, he is an apologist for sharia supremacy. In a recent op-ed, Rauf actually compared sharia law with the Declaration of Independence. This isn’t mere dishonesty; it is an Orwellian attempt to cause moral confusion about the nature of radical Islamism.
The true intentions of Rauf are also revealed by the name initially proposed for the Ground Zero mosque—“Cordoba House”—which is named for a city in Spain where a conquering Muslim army replaced a church with a mosque. This name is a very direct historical indication that the Ground Zero mosque is all about conquest and thus an assertion of Islamist triumphalism which we should not tolerate.
They say they’re interfaith, but they didn’t propose the building of a mosque, church and synagogue. Instead they proposed a 13-story mosque and community center that will extol the glories of Islamic tolerance for people of other faiths, all while overlooking the site where radical Islamists killed almost 3,000 people in a shocking act of hatred.
Building this structure on the edge of the battlefield created by radical Islamists is not a celebration of religious pluralism and mutual tolerance; it is a political statement of shocking arrogance and hypocrisy.
We need to have the moral courage to denounce it. It is simply grotesque to erect a mosque at the site of the most visible and powerful symbol of the horrible consequences of radical Islamist ideology. Well-meaning Muslims, with common human sensitivity to the victims’ families, realize they have plenty of other places to gather and worship. But for radical Islamists, the mosque would become an icon of triumph, encouraging them in their challenge to our civilization.
Apologists for radical Islamist hypocrisy are trying to argue that we have to allow the construction of this mosque in order to prove America’s commitment to religious liberty. They say this despite the fact that there are already over 100 mosques in New York City.
In fact, they’re partially correct—this is a test of our commitment to religious liberty. It is a test to see if we have the resolve to face down an ideology that aims to destroy religious liberty in America, and every other freedom we hold dear.
P.S. At 2 p.m. on Thursday, I will be delivering a major national security address that builds on these themes. You can watch it live here.
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