Ignoring a problem or trying to find justification for the problem instead of confronting it can only make things worse. For example, the outcome would be disastrous if someone disregarded the start of a fire in his house, or a doctor ignored the beginning signs of cancer in the body.
Overwhelming evidence supports the view that a radical and lethal form of Islam has been growing in the Muslim world since the late '70s. The Iranian Islamic revolution, the application of inhumane Shariah rules in several parts of the Muslim world, and the growing threat of Islamic terrorism are concrete evidence of a rising major threat to the world's security and harmony.
Failure to recognize and confront this threat (or Islamism) at its early stages has resulted in several devastating consequences, such as Sept. 11 and the many other atrocities radical Muslims have perpetrated all over the world.
Some apologists thought that ignoring the ideological component of the problem of Islamic radicalism would appease the Muslim world and prevent a possible clash of civilizations. However, by adopting such a defenseless attitude, the apologists actually made things worse and increased the possibility for such a culture collision.
The impact of ignoring the role of ideology in creating Islamic radicalism has resulted in the following three outcomes: The apologetic attitude toward radical Islam has impeded reformation efforts within the Muslim world. Ignoring the role ideology played in creating the problem has made reformation within Islam simply unnecessary. The Muslim world is unlikely to consider changing violent interpretations of the religious text as long as western apologists insist that ideology played no role in creating the problem.
In other words, ignoring the truth provides no incentive for Muslims to make any changes in the traditional interpretations of their religion. Criticisms of the violent interpretations of Islam are needed to encourage the Muslim world to make a change in such interpretations and to adopt more moderate understanding of the religion. The apologetic attitudes toward Islamic radicalism encourages jihadists and terrorists to attack more because they recognize that, whatever they do, Western apologists will find justifications. The same applies to those who practice stoning of women as part of Shariah and the Western apologists who claim that Shariah is compatible with human rights!
To make it clearer: Why should someone change his violent behavior if everyone is telling him that it is "peaceful"? The apologetic attitudes toward radical Islam have made many policymakers in the West unable to make appropriate decisions to deal with it. Postulating non-ideological reasons for the problem and ignoring the obvious ideological factors have misled many leaders and directed their efforts to the wrong cause(s) of the problem.
The integration of the above outcomes of the apologetic attitudes to radical Islam has given more fuel to the fire of Islamic radicalism and actually made things worse. If the apologists for radical Islam were honest enough to admit the role of the ideology, appropriate steps and measures to prevent violent atrocities could have been taken years ago.
Ignoring the true cause of the problem has only made things worse.
The rising number of people who have a negative perception of Islam and the recent vote in Switzerland to ban minarets is clear evidence of the failure of the apologetic attitudes to improve the image of Islam.
Addressing the problem of radical Islam in an honest and scientific manner and dealing with it with wisdom was and is still the best way to go.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad." He was a former associate of Dr. al-Zawahiri (second in command of al-Qaida) and currently he is a reformer of Islam. For more information, visit www.tawfikhamid.com. Hamid's writings in this blog represent only his thoughts and not the views of the institute where he works.
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