In the years when we still thought that democracy was exportable, moderate Islam has been at the heart of many initiatives. People like Nathan Sharansky, Bernard Lewis, Vaclav Havel, Aznar, myself with the Magna Carta Foundation, a great number of American intellectuals, among which the historian and expert on Islamic culture Harold Rhode, created in Washington, Rome and Prague, many occasions for the democrats to speak to the outside world.
We were the only ones who believed in that: their voices were branded as “right-winged” and dismissed. Today we bemoan the moderate Islam, listening to the mantra that repeats: “Islam is a religion of peace”. Even if it were so, it would not matter now. Even if groups of moderate Islamists actually exist, now the tidal wave is connected to a tyrannical and ruthless interpretation of Islam.
It is evident that the positive messages of this religion are currently overpowered by its aggressive phenomena, which must be addressed. It is sad to say, but we should investigate the madrasas, the “cultural” associations, among the newly converted Muslims, while reflecting upon a topic such as the crime of opinion.
Islam must be observed with the new eye of the current history. Integration went wrong, and second and third-generation Muslims are more inclined to radicalization than those of the first one. Because, no matter our reasons or mistakes, a desire for a cultural identity is now prevailing among the young Muslim generations, a desire that identifies itself with the sharia interpreted according to the most ancient standards. It would not be so different if people, following the rules of the Bible, started to condemn adulterers and traitors to fire, molten lead and stoning.
Through the slow beheadings and the homosexuals thrown from the roofs, Isis staged the same fantasies that horror movies show us sublimated and digested. In other words, every human being has bloody impulses and unmentionable death instincts. But this is exactly how our culture judges them.
The fact that a mass of cruelty has been released, with a very easy visibility in the cyberspace, makes feasible what should not be done, and ordinary what, instead, is uncommon perversion.
Therefore, the sharia is taken by a mass as a pretext to unleash every savage impulse, while the violation of the universal rules banishing violence becomes a religious duty. If you couple this with the fact that 74 per cent of the Egyptians and 84 per cent of the Palestinians want the sharia rules effectively enforced, the outlook appears gloomy. Because, for the majority of the Islamic world, applying the sharia means to punish those who do not apply it. Now the tide is hitting the European politics: for instance, 27 percent of the French Muslims is in favor of the Islamic State.
To Islamism, this war is indispensable everywhere in the world, but especially in the places that have been under the Islamic rule in the past. It must be clear: to Islam, Europe is a right. Ambassador Dore Gold points out that Islam sees the conquest of Europe as a war of civilization, that Spain, called “Al Andalus”, was under the Islamic rule from 711 to 1492, and that from there took root in France.
Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi appeared on Qatari television in 2007 and said: “The conquest of Rome and Europe means that Islam will return to Europe once again”. Obama made a mistake when he did not attend the march in Paris: he was afraid to be excessively blamed by Islam.
Obama said that Europe must do better with Muslims, and cited America as an example of integration. Nevertheless, since 1972 there have been 71 religiously motivated terrorist attacks in the US, including those in Fort Hood and Boston. Moreover, the attacks targeted those who had violated the sharia, and not necessarily people guilty of offences: there are actually more Muslims than Christians or Jews among the victims. All those who say that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the cause of the Islamist violence should remember that.
Furthermore, in Europe, the choice of a number of young people to go radical is inspired by concepts like origins, identity, and hegemony. Another driving force is the vilification of women, the violence, the firm and institutionalized belief that a woman is worth less than a man.
Israeli journalist Ben Dror Yemini wrote: “Those who oppress 50 percent of their community will always be oppressed… Societies that promote equality do not produce terror. Patriarchal societies breed oppression and fundamentalism”.
Sometimes, some people like to evoke with poetic coquetry the harem, the veil that shelters the face from prying eyes, how the mothers are honored in the Islamic culture. But, really, is this all that interests us today? Or is it the explosive surprise package of violence we have received? Go ask the true moderates.
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (January 19, 2015)