France and the world was shocked by a brutal and vicious massacre of journalists at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. This atrocity was perpetrated by Islamists with the specific aim of preventing criticism of their ideology. In the aftermath, unprecedented levels of public outrage and grief were displayed all over France.
Just this week, 44 men of the Philippines Special Action Force were murdered by Islamists in southern Mindanao. The officers had their throats cut. This atrocity was carried out by the Islamist group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has made a career out of the usual stock-in-trades of the Islamist – murder, kidnapping, torture and extortion. Here too, there has been a massive outpouring of public emotion.
Alongside these headlining acts of religiously-inspired terrorism were many others; hostage takings, murders, kidnappings, the background noise of Islamic violence that is now always present.
In France, Muslims represent a large minority of the population, perhaps as much as 10%. In the Philippines they are a small minority, only 1.5%. In both countries, the vast majority of Muslims are, apparently, well integrated and some in France even voiced outrage at the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo.
But herein lies the problem: even though the majority of Muslims are peaceful, within those the nice, peaceful shop-owners and businesspeople, doctors and lawyers, there is a small minority that is sworn to murder everyone else, in the name of Islam, and to totally destroy the cultures that they live in and benefit from.
The foul objectives of this minority within a minority are perhaps best revealed in the so-called Islamic State in the Levant, and in Saudi Arabia. In both these territories, which are fierce enemies vying for influence over global Islam, human rights abuses are on a level approached only by the great monsters of the 20th century. Women are abused in the most appalling manner. They are blinded with acid if they have the temerity to chow their faces. The may not drive cars, their voices are silenced. ‘Homosexual’ men are murdered and LGBT people of all varieties live in terror, persecuted. Religions other than Islam are not tolerated and even within Islam, different sects murder each other with apparent glee.
Richard Dawkins, blessed of a good classical education, pointed out that ‘islamophobia’ just means ‘fear of Islam’ and, in view of the activities of this minority of Muslims, the Islamists, everyone should indeed be islamophobic. It is neither a condemnation nor a pejorative to be named so, it is a demonstration of common sense. Within Islam there is a rabid minority which does not hesitate to kill, murder, torture and abuse anyone it disagrees with. Only a fool would not fear it, and a greater one would deny its existence – yet this is exactly what many people do.
How can anyone claim to be feminist and not fear Islam? How can anyone claim to support the LGBT community and not fear Islam? How can anyone who supports universal human rights not fear Islam? How can anyone who believes in the equality of all humans not fear Islam? How can anyone who believes in democracy and the sovereignty of the people not fear Islam?
We know what would happen were the Islamists to get their way – a living hell on Earth would be established in the name of a fictional god, and all those who resisted would be killed. This is, after all, what the Qu’ran instructs its readers to do, and it is what we can see in ISIL and Saudi Arabia. We don’t have to guess what happens when the majority are Muslim: we can see it in failed state after failed state, in appalling horrors that blight the world.
When Muslims are a minority, they provide succour and cover for those who would kill the rest of us. When they are a majority, they give the fanatics a free hand to kill or suppress the rest of us. This is not guesswork or hyperbole. We have the living examples, the laboratories where the experiment has been conducted. We can see where Islam leads. That is why we should fear it.
Yet we are faced with a conundrum: what about the majority of Muslims, at least in the West? Is it legitimate to fear them, because of the activities of the extremists? The answer must be ‘yes’, for without that majority, the minority simply would not exist. It feeds on the majority and is sheltered and succoured by it.
The cancer of Islamism uses the cover afforded by the well-meaning majority to kill and maim the innocent. Charlie Hebdo and the SAF massacre are just a repetition, another example in a long list. For decades, the Islamists have perpetrated atrocity after atrocity, and yet we still say, ‘It is wrong to be islamophobic’. It is not wrong, it is common sense.
In some countries, where rabies is either not present or very rare, no-one really fears dogs; yet where rabies is endemic, as here in the Philippines, sensible people fear all dogs and if they are bitten, immediately seek anti-rabies treatment. All dogs are feared because a minority are deadly.
The same is true of Muslims. We have a duty to fear all Muslims, because some are deadly and have repeatedly proven just how much they are. Not to be islamophobic would be stupid.
Clearly this is hard on the majority of Muslims, just as the presence of rabies in their midst is hard on dogs. But whereas dogs cannot eradicate the affliction of rabies, the majority of Muslims could eradicate the extremist Islamists. They could expose them and reveal them to the authorities, prevent them from spreading their message of hatred in the mosques, prevent them receiving money and force them out of their communities.
But they do not.
It is not enough to wring hands, dissemble and cry crocodile tears in the wake of yet another – and there will be more and more – atrocity perpetrated in the name of Islam. Muslims must unite to rid their communities of Islamists.
The consequences of a failure to do so are predictable. Here in the Philippines, to be a Muslim right now must be frightening. Over 98.5 million people are appalled and angry at the actions of a tiny number of Islamists, members of a minority of 1.5 million. While people – who do not understand Islam – may say that Abu Sayyaf does not represent ‘true Islam’ their anger is intense and could spill over at any time. The generally peaceable nature of Filipinos should not be taken to mean they will not, if pushed too far, react.
In France and elsewhere in Europe, the reaction has already gained focus and traction. The political right may be xenophobic, misogynist, homophobic and racist but that does not necessarily mean it is wrong about everything. Misrepresenting Polish plumbers as scroungers is nasty and untrue; pointing out that as long as there exists a Muslim minority, a minority within it will exist that is dangerous and must be feared and destroyed, is simply a statement of fact.
It is a very uncomfortable paradox that Islamist extremists force fee-thinking liberals into bed with their most hated enemy, the political right. The clear and present danger of Islamism makes strange bedfellows. The consequences for the whole of Western society, and especially the Muslim minorities may be very bleak if the political right rises again; yet Islamic terrorism in our midst makes this much more likely
It is in the hands of the Muslim community to do something about this, to avoid the inevitable polarisation and possible violence against Muslims. They must fully accept the cultures that they have moved into as their own, embrace the values of free speech and association, the equal rights of women and LGBT people, the equality of all people regardless of skin colour and mush else, and they must deliver into the hands of the authorities all of the Islamist extremists. They must do this now, as a matter of urgency.
The world has seen many massacres and genocides because of religion. As long as humanity is subject to this scourge, these will happen again. For Muslims, this means that they must take action; they must clean their houses of Islamists.
For the rest of us, until they do, islamophobia is the only intelligent position to take.