Tuesday, February 8, 2011

US Government Terrorism Expert: Religious Muslims Least Likely to Become Radicalized

Important NPR story below highlighting the need to support and work with traditional Muslim scholars and imams, not to target, harass, and alienate them. Religious Muslims are in fact a great ally in the "war against terror," and we need to work with them, not target them for harassment. By targeting and harassing religious Muslim leadership and practitioners in the US, we may lose great leaders that promote the authentic, beautiful peaceful message of Islam. 

Because some FBI tactics have 
eroded trust between Muslims and the FBI, many religious Muslims justifiably may feel uncomfortable engaging in outreach with the FBI. The fear (right or wrong) is that instead of working against real threats to protect our security, some agents are simply looking to entrap innocent people to gain a promotion or other self-interest. However, even Muslims uncomfortable working with law enforcement are still a great ally in protecting our security because they nonetheless promote a message that is against violence. Thus we need to ensure such important leaders and allies are not subject to needless harassment resulting from ineffective and counterproductive security tactics.

Such law enforcement tactics, which engage in wide fishing expeditions harassing religious Muslims, are counterproductive. Such tactics are based on the completely false notion that religious Muslims are likely to become radicalized. Studies show the complete opposite is true however. Religious Muslims are the least likely to become radicalized and the most likely to resist radicalization. Religious Muslims call others to practice the authentic teachings of Islam which condemns the taking of innocent life. We need to base our security efforts around that reality.


New Terrorism Adviser Takes A 'Broad Tent' Approach

..."A number of years ago, before he [Quintan Wiktorowicz] went into government, he did some of the most path-breaking work not only on who was susceptible to being radicalized, but most importantly, who was the most resistant to being radicalized," says Christine Fair, an expert on terrorism and radicalization at Georgetown University. "And the findings that he came up with based upon his work really shattered some of the stereotypes we have about Muslims and radicalization."
As part of his research, Wiktorowicz interviewed hundreds of Islamists in the United Kingdom. After compiling his interviews he came to the conclusion that — contrary to popular belief — very religious Muslims were in fact the people who ended up being the most resistant to radicalization...

"One of the important things about counterradicalization is that about perhaps 10 percent of it is law enforcement and intelligence, 90 percent of it are things that have relatively little to do with that," he says. "Counterradicalization also has to include things like politicians visiting Muslim communities, messaging" and beefing up education about Islam among Muslims themselves, so they can better resist radical recruiters.... [LISTEN/READ FULL STORY]

Four Reasons Why Religious Muslims Are Against Violent Radicalization.

  1. It is against Islamic teachings. The killing of innocent civilians and all acts of injustice to anyone, regardless of their faith, is clearly against the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Islamic rules of when fighting is permissible and what conduct during fighting is permissible is very similar to accepted principles of Western Just War Theory. Simply put Islamic law is absolutely clear that a Muslim is "One from whom peoples blood and wealth are safe." (Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him). There is no room for killing, hurting, or even insulting an innocent person in Islam, regardless of their faith. Thus religious Muslims strive to live by Islam's peaceful and just message. To engage in wanton violence, to destroy property, and take innocent life, is against the explicit commandments of Islam.
  2. Human Nature. A sane, rational human being would never accept harming a brother or sister in humanity.
  3. Self-Protection. Muslims statistically are amongst the greatest victims of terrorism. Muslims are often double victims of terrorism. First, Muslims are often the targets and victims of terrorist attacks. Many American Muslims have lost their lives or lost loved ones and friends due to terrorist attacks. Then these same Muslims who are victims of terror, often face the backlash, when people in turn attack Muslims in response to a terrorist attack.
  4. Self-Preservation. Religious Muslims are often deeply involved in the community. They may be frequent attendees of their local mosques, Islamic schools, charities, and other institutions. They value the freedom they have in America to practice their faith and recognize that terrorist attacks will impede the freedom they have to practice their faith and enjoy the liberties America offers. They value American freedom and would never want to do anything that could impede it. 
An important note: Law enforcement and the public must realize that American Muslims, as well as people of many faiths who are against war and violence, may sympathize with the suffering people in the world including: Egyptians, Iraqis, Kashmiris, Afghanis, Palestinians, Chechens, and many others. However, sympathizing with suffering people, and even voicing support for an individuals right to self-defense, in no way amounts to support or the condoning of violent acts of terrorism. 

For Example: The overwhelming majority of Muslims who are sympathetic to the Occupied Palestinians, and the hardships they face, in no way support violent acts of terrorism committed by some Palestinians, just as  devout Christians who are against abortion, in no way support the killing of an abortion doctor or bombing of an abortion clinic carried out by some Christians.  Similarly, a patriotic American who supports peace keeping efforts of the US military abroad, in no way supports incidents like Abu Ghuraib and other war crimes committed by some soldiers. 

Thus we cannot label Muslims who may be sympathetic to the plights of some suffering people as condoning the violent acts of terrorism carried out by a minority fraction of such people. Being sympathetic to suffering people abroad in no way equals supporting acts of terrorism. Rather the same people who are against the oppression and killing of innocent Palestinians are often the same people who are against the oppression and killing of innocent Jews or Americans, or people of any faith or country. 

Two Misconceptions
Two major misconceptions that fuel the debunked notion that religious Muslims are inclined to radicalization is that: 1. Most Muslims are terrorist, and 2. Most terrorists are Muslim. However many US government and academic studies show that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are against terrorism and the overwhelming majority of terrorists are not Muslim.

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