July 24th, 2012
01:34 PM ET

Understanding the 'Islamist wave'

By Nicole Dow, CNN

Editor’s note: CNN’s Nicole Dow speaks with Marc Lynch, author of "The Arab Uprising," about the myths surrounding Islamist parties in the Arab world, democracy in the Middle East and whether Syria is cooperating with al Qaeda. The views expressed are his own.

There’s often a belief that the removal of dictatorships in the Arab world will pave the way for Islamists to rise to power. Based on what we’ve seen in Egypt recently with the outcome of its presidential election, is this view becoming more prevalent?

Yes, people certainly say this more often, but it's a bit more complicated than that. Nobody should have been surprised that Islamists did well in many transitional elections in the region. After all, they are in most cases the best organized and largest political movement in the country, and aren't tainted by association with the former regime. Public culture across the region has been moving in an Islamic direction for decades. The activists who drove the revolutions in places like Egypt and Tunisia just didn’t have the numbers, the organization, or in many cases the interest in seriously contesting elections.  Once politics shifted from the street to the ballot box, Islamists were going to have a leading place.

But those early advantages won’t necessarily last. Non-Islamist forces will likely get their act together, and be more competitive in future elections. Islamists in power face all kinds of challenges, from translating their vague promises into real change to dealing with skeptics at home and abroad.  There’s real support for Islamists, but also real opposition – and not just from “liberals.” And the Islamists themselves are seriously divided, competing with each other over both politics and ideology. I think it’s far too soon to simply assume that Islamists have won the Arab spring.

There’s a concern from secularists as well as religious and ethnic minority groups that the influence of Islamists will steer the path to reform in a different direction. Is this likely?

The truth is that nobody knows, including most likely the Islamists themselves. There’s no doubt that religious minorities, some women, and Westernized elites in some of these countries are deeply frightened about their future. But these are going to be contentious political issues for a long time, and it will likely develop differently in each country according to local conditions.

The leaders of Islamist movements are often pragmatists, who would prefer to avoid contentious social and religious issues in order to focus on things like the economy. But their members may be more impatient to get to the religious issues which define their identity – and if their leaders fail to deliver on economic or political reforms (as seems likely) they may well find themselves falling back on cultural issues. It doesn't help that the hyper-speed new media, from Facebook to new newspapers, tend to sensationalize these issues and stoke fears. And it won’t help that disgruntled Islamist rivals, especially the salafis, will be savaging them from the right for being insufficiently Islamic.

What should be noted about the rise of Islamist movements, particularly at this period in time, when most of the region is still in a state of flux?

The state of flux is exactly the right thing to focus upon. The defining feature of these transitional environments is the absence of clear, agreed upon rules. Constitutions are unwritten, judiciaries are politicized, and nobody really knows what the future holds on the most basic issues of personal rights, the role of religion, or political order. That uncertainty creates a lot of understandable anxiety.

It's important to recognize that the Islamist movements themselves are struggling with this uncertainty, too. Their entire organization and identity had been built upon being in opposition. They never had to really worry about what they would do with power, because power seemed hopelessly out of reach. That allowed them to posture, in both moderate and radical directions, without ever really having to deliver. Now they’ve lost that safety net, and there’s some sense that they are floundering – alienating moderates with their seeming overreach, alienating their base with their compromises, and behaving erratically. And then, don’t forget, the military leadership remains in a strong position in Egypt, the parliament remains dissolved, and it’s going to be very difficult for them to actually get anything done…at a time when expectations are very high.

That’s going to force some really tough choices. How does an Egypt with a Muslim Brotherhood president manage its relationship with Israel, or with interest-bearing IMF loans?  How will the Brothers respond when salafis attack them from the right and denounce them as insufficiently Islamic? Is it possible for them to overcome the polarization between them and the rest of the political class that has emerged over the last year?

What are some of the common myths associated with Islamist movements? And what risks do these groups pose?

People tend to assume a uniformity in belief and behavior among Islamists which just doesn’t exist. It’s true that these movements are defined by a shared belief that Islam should be at the center of politics, law, and life. But they radically disagree about what that means – how to define sharia (Islamic law), whether to participate in elections, how to deal with minorities, and so forth. And over the years they have competed with each other bitterly, and have often criticized one another publicly and privately. There’s no love between the Muslim Brothers and the salafis in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda generally have been fierce rivals and are constantly criticizing each other. And even the various branches of the Muslim Brotherhood around the region often disagree with each other and make different choices.

People also tend to overlook the extent to which groups like the Muslim Brothers are political actors. They often assume that Islamists will be uniquely driven by ideology, but in fact they’ve often proven themselves to be supremely calculating and pragmatic.

But on the other side, people should have no illusions that the Islamists are suddenly going to become liberals. These are profoundly conservative, religious movements that are pursuing a consistent, clear strategy of Islamizing politics and society. They may be good democrats, willing and able to play the electoral game, but they aren’t liberals.  Many of us used to argue that their right to participate in democratic politics and to not be arrested and tortured must be defended, and that was right. But now that they are in positions of greater influence, we have to hold them to the same standards and demand that they respect human rights, demonstrate tolerance and pluralism, and so forth.

Your book, The Arab Uprisings, examines the revolutions in the Arab world and their impact. In a region divided along sectarian, tribal, and cultural lines, how do Arabs define democracy? Can the Western notion of democracy exist in the Arab world?

The current Islamist wave is only one phase in a long-term structural change in the region. The Arab Uprising sought to put the events of the last two years into a broader context, to show the history of rising social and political protest which suddenly broke through in 2011. What made the first months of 2011 unique were the seemingly irresistible surge of protest, the unification of Arab politics across the entire region, and the sense that change could not be stopped.

Those have faded, as politics in most Arab countries have ground into murky stalemates and some – especially Syria – have turned bloody, divisive and grim. But the underlying forces such as the generational change, the new media environment, and the exhaustion of Arab autocracy will continue to push for change. It’s going to be quite a while before we know how these political institutions shake out. Islamists may take a turn on the throne in some Arab countries, but they will face the same challenges as did the secular dictators if they attempt to impose their narrow vision. There’s just no going back to the old ways, where regimes could control information and prevent any form of political expression.

How is the U.S. handling it?

I think the Obama administration has handled this about as well as it could. It understood that the Arab uprisings weren’t about the United States, at least not directly, and that these activists weren’t calling out for American leadership. Obama has been willing to accept the reality that Arab democracy is going to mean a place for Islamist movements, and has made clear that it can deal with that – but without offering them a blank check.  It’s obviously not easy for any American politician to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood winning Egypt’s presidency, but Obama’s response thus far has been remarkably mature and realistic. Let’s hope that can last.

Nawaf Al-Fares, the highest-ranking Syrian diplomat defector and former ambassador to Iraq, accuses the Assad regime of collaborating with al Qaeda. Do you think there is any truth to this claim, especially since there’s a prior belief that Al Qaeda and possibly other Islamists have infiltrated certain groups within the opposition?

There’s been a tremendous amount of conflicting information coming out of Syria, making it extremely hard to parse the truth about any of these claims. It certainly would not be a surprise if there were some connections between the jihadist groups and the Syrian regimes, given the past history of collaboration in Iraq. But at the same time, many of those groups have reasons of their own for entering the Syrian arena.  In some ways, the Syrian conflict may look like a life raft for al Qaeda and like-minded movements, which have badly lost momentum over the last few years. They’ve been ideologically irrelevant to the Arab spring, bin Laden’s death was symbolically devastating, and Iraq has faded as a galvanizing issue. The prospect of a new jihad in Syria could become a new Iraq for these groups, reigniting jihadist fervor and building a new generation of fighters. That they would in this case be fighting on the same side as the U.S. and the Gulf states would be ironic indeed, the precedent from 1980s Afghanistan notwithstanding.

Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and the Project on Middle East Political Science. He edits the Middle East Channel for ForeignPolicy.com and is also the author of “The Arab Uprising” (Public Affairs March 2012). Most recently, Lynch served as editor for the new ebook "Islamists in a Changing Middle East.”

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Topics: Iraq • Terrorism

soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. MyPictureOfMuhammad

    8=>(_|_)

    July 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Reply
    • ali

      Quran (5:51) – "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people."

      July 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Reply
      • nina

        Qur'an 4:47 "O you People of the Book to whom the Scripture has been given, believe in what We have (now) revealed, confirming and verifying what was possessed by you, before We destroy your faces beyond all recognition, turning you on your backs, and curse you as We cursed the Sabbath-breakers, for the decision of Allah Must be executed."

        July 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  2. Ayman Magd

    Excellent , well informed and balanced !

    July 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  3. Islamist Wave

    A grenade in one hand and an AK-47 in the other. All while praying to a pedophile.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Reply
  4. TJBPHOENIX

    Understanding the Islamist wave is the one thing that most Americans simply don't do! Actually by butcherng Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen with those horrific drones, Obama is just simply making martyrs out of them. As one can plainly see in these posts here that most people are very ignorant about Islam and that pleases the right-wing politicians to no end!

    July 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Reply
    • Jack

      Izlam seems to be the butcher these days. they are killing everywhere in the world.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:42 am | Reply
    • Dennis

      How about the butchering of infidels by IED's in Afghanistan?...Not much difference in that example.

      July 26, 2012 at 10:31 am | Reply
    • nina

      josephmccarthy/marine5484 – so funny "horrific drones".

      July 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Muslims kill more Muslims than anyone else. Also.. whether a missile is fired from an f-15/f-22 or a drone… it’s the same missile.

      July 27, 2012 at 8:10 am | Reply
      • Siuli

        Obamugabe has unintentionally laid the grrwnduook for massive failure by the muslim brotherhood. As the Ontario NDP learned to their cost, there is no more powerful inoculation of the ordinary citizens than to have them vote supposed real "know it alls" into power who promptly reveal themselves as incompetent political hacks and eccentric buffoons. Egypt has the additional interesting feature of massively subsidized grain imports from the USA used to make locally subsidized bread for the poverty stricken masses. A few grain ships unloading slightly behind schedule and any government there would be promptly overthrown.

        July 5, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
      • Evelin

        Because Mubarak was an evil dictator who only faked a pro-American stacne because of the bribe money America lavishes on the Egyptian state. Come what will these countries must determine themselves. I have yet to seen any evidence Obama is sympathetic to the MB or hear any realistic alternative to allowing Mubarak to fall. Propping him up would've been evil.Libya's Islamists couldn't even get on the short list for head security chief. Nobody knows how that place will turn out. Could be a giant waterpark this time next year.

        July 25, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
  5. Patrick

    Whatever ignorance we had of Islam, after meeting you and your cult on this site, we know that even the worst description of Muslim is too good.
    I am now convinced that you are all horrible excuses for human beings.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Reply
    • Travis

      Come on Patrick, have you ever read the Coran? Or have you ever studied Middle Eastern history? The only way we can have world peace is through international understanding rather that unreasonable hatred!

      July 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Reply
      • Patrick

        Yup, you know that much but only at a very low level.
        You cannot get past the repeating stage.

        July 24, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
      • Jack

        It's not a one way street. They need to understand us. It's not about catering to them so they will like us. they have their rules and we are infidels any way you look at it and we will be treated like one when push comes to shove. No more Mr nice guy.

        July 25, 2012 at 11:21 am |
      • Jack

        I understand it well. this religion is written to take over and control. That nice izlamic person you know doesn't control that religion . the imams and clerics control it . The ones you know just sit back and be indifferent. It should be stopped in its tracks anywhere it invades.

        July 25, 2012 at 11:27 am |
      • Patrick

        The entire cult of islam is the same. Muslims are taught they are superior and will control the world one day. Take away the heart and you have a killing machine or at best, someone who looks away when the killing starts.

        July 25, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
      • Joseph

        Dude stop being politically correct and see the truth. Muslims are fighting every other religion, christians in nigeria and egypt
        buddhists in myanmar and thailand, hindus in India. Besides they are butchering minorities in islamic countries and justifying it by qouting from the quran.

        July 26, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  6. Lee

    Al Qaida is the usa secret agent who went on Syria announcing that they will fight against Assad . Clear . Now the usa is saying that Al Qaida is with Syria regime ? What a foolish matter it is . How brainwashed the western people are ?

    July 24, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Reply
    • Jack

      How brainless you are with your way out conspiracy theory.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
      • brussell

        Who do you think trained what is now al Queda? they used to be the mujahdeen. We trained them to take out th eRussians in Afghanistan in 1978.

        July 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
      • Jack

        brussle...That was 35 years ago, i doubt if they are the same. Your assumptions are totally baseless and as rediculous as the poster above

        July 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  7. RLTJ's

    Of course we can close our eyes and say that the next rule or regime will be better than the last. No doubt about it. Opposition hates the ruler. In its time it will try to put innovations to the old system. How far is the change? Was not the same possible by peaceful means? Was the big bloodshed worth it?

    Worst is when everything went home to nothing but pure politics. A grab of political power and nothing much.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Reply
  8. j. von hettlingen

    The recent election in Libya showed the National Forces Alliance (NFA), led by ex-interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, gained more than double the seats of its Islamist rivals. Jibril himself has already declared that his party will refer to Sharia for guidance in legislation. There's a general feeling that Libyans don't need politicians to tell them how to be good Muslims and they believe the NFA is "liberal". The word "secular" isn't part of their vocabulary.
    In the end a grand coalition could be formed, which may or may not include the biggest loser in this recent election – The Nation Party led by former al-Qaeda-linked Abdelhakim Belhaj – which gained no seats at all on the party-list.
    For the first time women are now about to take up an active, public role in Libyan politics, with 33 gaining seats in the assembly.
    Yet finding consensus, building a new nation and dealing with immediate grievances with absorb much of their time.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:16 am | Reply
    • nina

      Let us hope that these women are not bullied into a corner.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:20 am | Reply
  9. Just Facts

    These aliens come to us and start showing their true colors in due course of time. When politically correct and culturally diverse
    societies agree to "the reasonable" Muslim demands for their
    "religious rights," they also get the other components under the
    table. Here's what happens as muslims rise in numbers –

    as
    long as the Muslim population remains around 1% of any given country they will
    be regarded as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to anyone. In fact,
    they may be featured in articles and films, stereotyped for their colorful
    uniqueness:

    United
    States - Muslim 1.0%

    Australia
    - Muslim 1.5%

    Canada
    - Muslim 1.9%

    China
    - Muslim 1%-2%

    Italy
    - Muslim 1.5%

    Norway
    - Muslim 1.8%

    At
    2% and 3% they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and
    disaffected groups with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs:

    Denmark
    - Muslim 2%

    Germany
    - Muslim 3.7%

    United
    Kingdom - Muslim 2. 7%

    Spain
    - Muslim 4%

    Thailand
    - Muslim 4.6%

    From
    5% on they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage
    of the population.

    They
    will push for the introduction of halaal (clean by Islamic standards) food,
    thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure
    on supermarket chains to feature it on their shelves - along with threats for
    failure to comply. (United States).

    France
    - Muslim 8%

    Philippines
    - Muslim 5%

    Sweden
    - Muslim 5%

    Switzerland
    - Muslim 4.3%

    The
    Netherlands - Muslim 5.5%

    Trinidad
    & Tobago - Muslim 5.8%

    At
    this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule
    themselves under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islam is not to
    convert the world but to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

    When
    Muslims reach 10% of the population, they will increase lawlessness as a means
    of complaint about their conditions (Paris - car-burnings). Any non-Muslim
    action that offends Islam will result in uprisings and threats (Amsterdam -
    Mohammed cartoons).

    Guyana
    - Muslim 10%

    India
    - Muslim 13.4%

    Israel
    - Muslim 16%

    Kenya
    - Muslim 10%

    Russia
    - Muslim 10-15%

    After
    reaching 20% expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic
    killings and church and synagogue burning:

    Ethiopia
    - Muslim 32.8%

    At
    40% you will find widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks and ongoing
    militia warfare:

    Bosnia
    - Muslim 40%

    Chad
    - Muslim 53.1%

    Lebanon
    - Muslim 59.7%

    From
    60% you may expect unfettered persecution of non-believers and other religions,
    sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon and Jizya,
    the tax placed on infidels:

    Albania - Muslim 70%

    Malaysia - Muslim 60.4%

    Qatar - Muslim 77.5%

    Sudan - Muslim 70%

    After 80% expect State run ethnic cleansing and
    genocide:

    Bangladesh - Muslim 83%

    Egypt - Muslim 90%

    Gaza - Muslim 98.7%

    Indonesia - Muslim 86.1%

    Iran - Muslim 98%

    Iraq - Muslim 97%

    Jordan - Muslim 92%

    Morocco - Muslim 98.7%

    Pakistan - Muslim 97%

    Palestine - Muslim 99%

    Syria - Muslim 90%

    Tajikistan - Muslim 90%

    Turkey - Muslim 99.8%

    United Arab Emirates - Muslim 96%

    100% will usher in the peace of
    "Dar-es-Salaam" - the Isla mic House of Peace - there's supposed to
    be peace because everybody is a Muslim:

    Afghanistan - Muslim 100%

    Saudi Arabia - Muslim 100%

    Somalia - Muslim 100%

    Yemen - Muslim 99.9%

    Of course, that's not the case. To satisfy their
    blood lust, Muslims then start killing each other for a variety of reasons.

    Here are the words of an eminent Arab scholar
    about Islam "Before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life.
    It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family
    against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; and the tribe
    against the world. And all of us against the infidel.”

    It is good to remember that in many, many
    countries, such as France, the Muslim populations are centered around ghettos
    based on their ethnicity. Muslims do not integrate into the community at large.
    Therefore, they remain as a mortal threat to every society they live in.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • Jack

      You are right on.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Reply
      • Nina

        Good research.
        I did my own research and found yours to be accurate.
        Thank you.

        July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Patrick

      Well said. Show me 1x country that has TURNED BACK once radical Islam has taken over (..there is no such place)

      July 26, 2012 at 9:46 am | Reply
    • Dennis

      I am looking for a country that has a 0.0% Muslim population.How about listing the countries with the least population of Muslims.

      July 26, 2012 at 10:47 am | Reply
      • Markus Hojer

        With almost a quarter of the world's population being Muslim, your best bet is to move here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality_of_Sealand

        July 27, 2012 at 10:28 am |
      • Jeff Williams

        """I'm surprised no one has suggested a Crusade revival."""

        Before you proceed further with judgmental holier-than-thou rhetoric, I highly recommend that you read about the Crusades and how they actually came about. The Muslims were not innocent bystanders, but instigators. Granted, the European response was drastic but it resulted from CENTURIES of inflammatory actions by Muslims.

        July 27, 2012 at 11:13 am |
      • nina

        Muslims are well aware that their strength lines in numbers, not in much of anything else, and that it is to their advantage to exaggerate those numbers as much as possible. When Arafat said that the womb of the Palestinian woman was his best weapon, he was projecting the same basic ultimatum that Muslims would deliver time and time again to the non-Muslim nations that played host to them, “We’ll outnumber you soon enough, and unless you’re prepared to kill us all, you had better be ready to make a deal with us.”

        July 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Perry

      This post was laid out brilliantly. Your understanding of Islam is right on the mark.

      July 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Reply
    • Markus Hojer

      Nice... I just found me a Bigot hangout. I'm surprised no one has suggested a Crusade revival. It definitely worked back then, right? Oh... wait.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:22 am | Reply
      • Jeff Williams

        Sorry, I posted this in the wrong place the first time:

        """I'm surprised no one has suggested a Crusade revival."""

        Before you proceed further with judgmental holier-than-thou rhetoric, I highly recommend that you read about the Crusades and how they actually came about. The Muslims were not innocent bystanders, but instigators. Granted, the European response was drastic but it resulted from CENTURIES of inflammatory actions by Muslims.

        July 27, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  10. Jack

    Stop this evil and murderous religion in its tracks now!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Come on Jack, is Islam truly any more evil and murderous than Western imperialism? Somehow I don't think so. Just look at what the Opium Wars between Great Britain and China(1839-1842, 1857-1858) did to China. They left China both weak and backward while the British along with other Western powers grew rich beyond their imagination!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Reply
      • Nina

        You know that this is 2012, don't you?

        July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  11. Jack

    I'm concerned for what's going on TODAY. What someone else did a londg time ago doesn't justify what go's on today. Poor excuse.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  12. Krandal

    Is the 'Islamist wave' performed at sporting events?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Reply
    • Dennis

      Yes,just before their explosive vests explode.

      July 26, 2012 at 10:51 am | Reply
    • nina

      yes, the islamists wave as they stone women for being abused by their buddies.

      July 26, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  13. nina

    The two DDS : Denial and Deception.

    Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old Iranian woman, is facing death by stoning this week for adultery, a capital crime in Iran. Yet when the redoubtable human rights activist David G. Littman, asserted at the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2008 that “the stoning of women for alleged adultery still occurs regularly in Iran,” Iran’s spokesman declared that this was “not true, it is completely false and is out of the question.”

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  14. Joseph

    Islam can never be a religion that sees other religions as equals. Probably no muslim nation can even protect its minoroties from the agressive fundamentalists.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  15. Ferhat Balkan

    You can't blame Islam for the violence around the world. The problem with the west is its ignorance of Islam or the more proper term ‘Islamophobia’. What you don't understand you often blame. I believe that religion should be kept out of politics. Be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism etc. Governments should be secular and people well educated in science and history without bias. The problem that I see with what’s going on in the Middle East (violence, terrorism, racism etc.) is divided in ethnicity, cultural differences, poverty and lack of education. In my opinion, if Islam didn’t exist in the Middle East, you’d still have the same violence and the same problems that exist today. Why? The Middle East is like the Balkans. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that the Serbs committed atrocities against the Bosnians. Some of the most developed western countries also have internal violence. Take for instance the United States. Why is there more violence/crime in poorer neighborhoods? Are you going to blame Islam for that as well? Think about it. Let me give you another example. Greece recently suffered economic problems and many people ended up either unemployed or lost a lot of money. As a result internal violence increased and Greeks started to blame outsiders. In the end, we’re all human and as such, we all have a difference of opinion and each one of us has the right to choose what we believe in. Our greatest enemy is ignorance.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply
    • Joseph

      Its just not in the middle east that muslims are creating problems. All over the world muslims are intolerant of other religions. Even in countries where islam is said to be most moderate(indonesia and malaysia) ther is ahigh level of intolerance towards other religions which often manifest itself as violence against minorities like christians and ahmadiyas in indonesia. In malaysia malays cant convert to any religion from islam. Violence is always higher in poorer neighbourhoods. But the islamic teerorists are mainly from the well educated and well off. Look at the masterminds and people who carried out 9/11.

      July 26, 2012 at 10:26 am | Reply
      • Ferhat Balkan

        What about intolerance against Muslims? The same can be said of the situation in Myanmar. Right now, ethnic cleansing is being committed towards Muslims there. According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, state security forces have now conducted mass arrests of Muslims; they destroyed thousands of homes, with the impact falling most heavily on the Rohingyas. Displaced Rohingyas have tried to flee across the Naf River to neighboring Bangladesh; some have died in the effort. This is currently being committed by a so called 'Democratic' government. I can also cite many similar situations committed by Christians throughout history. Ultimately, as I said before, it was not religion that sparked the violence in every case it was ignorance, poverty, land or ethnic divide etc. The so called 'masterminds' that you talk about that planned 9/11 were a few wealthy Arabs who knew they could not control/brainwash the local crowd from which they hail, so they decided to take advantage of the poor and uneducated Afghanis. Moreover, most if not all wealthy Arabs are quite open minded and quite tolerant towards other religions. Most of them seek education in Europe, most commonly in England. Unfortunately though, as is always the case, the bad guys are the ones who receive media attention. As a result, you blame Islam for all the problems. If Islam was so bad as you mention, you wouldn’t have a few incidents around the globe, you’d have a global war like the world has never seen. Most Muslims are not evil or intolerant, it’s the few that are that get noticed.

        July 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
      • nina

        Ferhat Balkan – so you point is that muslims can butcher anyone because their invasion in a country is being stopped by the inhabitants? I don't even know what to say to such a miscarriage of justice, to such a total lack of logic.

        July 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
      • Ferhat Balkan

        Nina: You totally missed my point. I didn't say Muslims can/should butcher anyone. As a matter of fact, I believe all the killing should stop period. Contrary to what you may perceive, I believe Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance as are most other religions. Religion is not the problem as I said many times before. The problems that you see around the world are caused by other factors which I stated in my previous comments. It is just easy to blame religion when ignorance is involved.

        July 26, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
      • Jeff Williams

        """Religion is not the problem...It is just easy to blame religion when ignorance is involved."""

        The problem, Ferhat, is that religion and ignorance often go hand-in-hand. Religion IS a problem when it provides the underlying principles for violent motivations.

        July 27, 2012 at 11:22 am |
      • Ferhat Balkan

        So does Atheism and mass murder. Remember that Stalin, under Communism which idolizes Atheism, massacred more people than the Nazi's could ever wish for. Still think that Religion is the culprit?

        July 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
      • nina

        Ferhat Balkan
        Explain to me how Islam has been and is being peaceful?

        July 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
      • nina

        I suppose that by not being able to answer me, you are conceding that islam is not the religion of peace.

        July 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
      • Laurent

        Yeah, unfortunately, there are Christian ceirtnuos, usually they are under the thumb of the Roman Catholic Church with its idols, etc. But in the U.S. even the Presbyterians believe that Israel is apartheid, the damned fools. They would rather listen to the BIG LIES of the Arabs than go to Israel and see for themselves that apartheid does not exist.Hashem told Moses that the reason that he could not die for the sins of the children of Israel was because only the person who sins will die. So how their Jesus could have possibly have died for their sins is beyond my ability to understand.Their missionaries lie like rugs to get Jews to convert to their false religion. They do it by yanking out "proof" texts and saying, "See, you need a blood sacrifice and Jesus shed that blood for you."STEER STOOL! They love to misquote scripture. Lev. 17:11 just tells what the use of blood was for, not that it had to be done. Jehovah's Witnesses would rather die than accept a blood transfusion. Why? Because they think that they are Jews and Jews cannot EAT blood. Yeah, except for one problem, a transfusion doesn't come through the mouth, does it.The Koran is one screwed up book. Figure it out for yourself. Mohammad was a pedophile who had multiple wives. The book does not even mention Jerusalem, yet they claim that Jerusalem is holy to them. What a bunch of liars.It's disgusting

        July 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
      • Larissa

        Feiglin is not wrong in his comment...BUT...for the first time in many cetnruies many Christians have begun to understand that G-d has promised the Jewish people the land called Eretz Yisrael, and many are giving full support to the Jewish State of Israel and Am Yisrael.Yes, after such a long experience of hate and death at the hands of the same, we will accept their support with thanks but also with caution.Islam on the other hand is as depicted by Dry Bones.The time will come when they too will know the path they must follow. Israel too will come to understand our obligationsand we will experience the fulfillment of the Promise.Shanah Tovah to all humanity.Am Yisrael Chai.

        July 21, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
      • Rodolfo

        , while expressing coecnrn that “the current situation in the occupied territories violates Palestinian human rights and undercuts the very values on which Israel was founded — democracy, liberty, justice, and peace.”A personal question to you, dear Mr. Anonymous:"Do you honestly believe that producing WAR and bloodshed can bring closer the long expected coming of Ha-Mashiach?Do you really expect to build our Bet HaMikdash (בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ) upon thousands and thousands of dead corpses on the Holy Land?

        July 25, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
  16. Lee

    @ Just facts , you are a complete idiot . Look back at your history wherever you went you produced blood of innocent people . Colonial era has gone only 40 years ago . Your imperialist mentality has appalled the world .

    July 26, 2012 at 12:23 am | Reply
    • Dennis

      You can exit this world anytime you like.Perhaps another planet or solar system might suit you.

      July 26, 2012 at 10:56 am | Reply
    • Jack

      As his username says he showed you the facts. the truth is, islam operstes based on a book that lays out their instructions and direction and from what we can see when push comes to shove you will do as this book says.

      July 26, 2012 at 11:50 am | Reply
  17. Don

    The root cause of this problem is world over population. The resources of the third world can't accomodate
    its bulging population causing mass movement of people between regions. I am sure Muslim people would prefer
    to live in their cultural homelands but can't due to economic necessity. Without future population control, the problem
    will only get worse.

    July 26, 2012 at 2:42 am | Reply
    • Nina

      The root of the problem is Islam.

      July 26, 2012 at 8:32 am | Reply
  18. mmi16

    Pork BBQ feast with beer for Ramadan! Celebrate life, not death!

    July 26, 2012 at 4:16 am | Reply
  19. imeubu

    Belief... particularly philisophical grouping... is the strongest bond in any social mix. More than blood (kin) and more than national/political/cultural/educational/financial. When all is at stake... those with strong religious convictions will choose that bond over all others.

    July 26, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  20. Terry Brookman

    Conversion at sword point is not a big favorite of mine so Islam can FO and kill me if you can but don't expect me to go out without a fight.

    July 27, 2012 at 4:21 am | Reply
  21. Mike

    Your cartoon reedinmd me of Daniel 2.." 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. 44 “In the time of those kings, the G-d of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces." Partly baked clay and partly iron...partly strong and partly brittle... the people will be a mixture (original meaning of "Arab"? I heard) and will not remain united... May the G-d of Heaven soon set up the kingdom which will never be destroyed. Happy New Year and best blessings to you and yours

    July 5, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Reply

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