“Moderate Muslim” Is Not an Oxymoron

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Lars Hedegaard is a Danish journalist who has made his name
denouncing Islam, which he describes as “a totalitarian system of
thought” whose adherents “rape their own children.” Last month,
someone showed up at his door with a gun and fired a shot that
missed him.
It’s just what you would expect of those crazy Muslims, isn’t
it? Except that in the aftermath, Hedegaard found Muslims across
Denmark were conspicuously un-crazy. They did not applaud the
assailant or excuse his motives. Instead, they condemned the attack
and upheld Hedegaard’s freedom to preach unhinged bigotry.
One group even rallied in Copenhagen to disavow such violence. A
Dane whose family came from Afghanistan told The New York Times,
“We don’t defend Hedegaard’s views but do defend his right to
Oh, but consider what happened last year when a far-right group
marched in front of Berlin mosques carrying signs with caricatures
of Mohammed, which Muslims consider forbidden. Sure enough, a
subsequent bombing was blamed on Muslims — a bombing in Sudan. In
Germany, however, imams asked the faithful to ignore the
provocation, and they did.
These episodes raise the possibility that
European (and American) Muslims are not as rabid as they are
commonly portrayed by their most vehement critics. Remember the
uproar in 2006 after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of
Mohammed? There were riots by Muslims — but in the Middle East and
Africa, not Europe. When a German paper published the images, local
Muslims responded with a shocking display of restraint.
This is the rule, not the exception. Muslim terrorism, which was
expected to explode after 9/11, is slightly less common on the
continent than kangaroos. In 2010, Europe had 249 documented
terrorist attacks or plots, of which only three involved Muslims.
In 2011, there were 174 such episodes — with Muslims accounting
for zero.
Same story on this side of the pond. A new report from the
Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke
University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and RTI
International says, “For the second year in a row, there were no
fatalities or injuries from Muslim-American terrorism.” Since 9/11,
it said, such terrorists have killed 33 people in the United States
— a poor showing compared to the 200-plus slain by right-wing
Of course, a group can be extreme and intolerant without
engaging in outright slaughter of those it hates. Daniel Pipes,
director of the Middle East Forum, claims, “A vast number of
Muslims, those living in Europe and the Americas no less than those
elsewhere, harbor an intense hostility to the West.”
You can reach that conclusion only if you pay no attention to
what ordinary Muslims say. Most bear as much resemblance to Pipes’
lurid portrait as they do to Dolly Parton.
Muslim immigrants in France say they have more in common with
French people in general than with people of their own religion or
national origin. American Muslims are more likely than their
neighbors to express contentment with the state of the country and
with their own lives. “Muslims appear to be among the least
disenchanted and most satisfied people in the West,” concludes
journalist Doug Saunders in his 2012 book, “The Myth of the Muslim
“Intense hostility,” you would think, would breed support for
terrorism. But with intense hostility scarce, so is sympathy for
militants. Among Muslims in Germany, only 1 percent say “attacks on
civilians are morally justified.” Same with those in France.
Some 8 percent of American Muslims approve of such attacks in
some cases — which sounds high until you recall that 24 percent of
all Americans say such attacks are “often or sometimes
If you hear someone in this country preaching violent resistance
to the federal government or law enforcement, it’s more likely to
be a Texas secessionist than a fanatical follower of Islam. Across
Western nations, writes Saunders, “support for violence and
terrorism among Muslims is no higher than that of the general
population, and in some cases it is lower.”
The assumption among Islamophobes is that there is something
intrinsically alien and incompatible about the presence of Muslims
in free countries. In truth, they are not visibly different from
other groups that have arrived with the mindset of the past and
found themselves transformed into tolerant, loyal and law-abiding
souls who value democracy and liberty.
Free societies have a way of doing that.

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“Moderate Muslim” Is Not an Oxymoron

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