On Tuesday, Pew released a poll indicating that support for suicide bombings is on the decline in the Muslim world, among other things. How encouraging is this poll? What can we do — as a government, as private entities — to use the information constructively? National Review Online asked a group of experts. The following is M. Zuhdi Jasser's response.
This week’s Pew study results are dangerously oversimplified. Improvements in economics and moods in the developing world are in no way reason enough for the sharp decline in support for suicide bombing. The recent 45-doctor plot in London and Glasgow told us that much. For now, it is not only too early, but downright irresponsible to have a collective sigh of relief.
As we have often seen, Pew avoids the why. In their latest report, they again ignore the most central global question: Islamism and its conflict with America and the West.
What if, in fact, the general support for the tactic of terror was decreasing simply because the Islamist enemy was beginning to achieve their ideological goals in their native countries? What if the Islamists were actually sensing a general global retreat of the uniquely American ideologies of pluralism?
Terror is only a means to the ends of political Islam. If political Islam is on the rise, doesn’t it stand to reason that apologetics for terrorism may then actually decrease?
Certainly freer markets, economic growth, and education may ultimately drive Muslim populations away from autocracy and corruption. But to where will it drive them? What alternative Muslim narratives are available in this war of ideas? With the current American mainstream-media (MSM) distractions, Islamists are free to control Arab and Muslim media alongside their dictators and monarchs and spread political Islam in the Middle East and in the West.
Our private and governmental resources have yet to hardly focus on the anti-Islamists and anti-Wahhabist Muslims. The Bush administration and MSM would similarly rather avoid any critical ideological engagement of Islamist movements around the world. Our public diplomacy has actually turned into “Islamist facilitation.”
Manifestations of Islamist fascism (i.e. terrorism) may wax and wane depending upon how threatened the Islamist ideologues are with extinction. The underlying disease — political Islam— however, will never go away without a direct ideological counter-jihad and counter-Islamism from within the faith.
We need a broad based network of anti-Islamist Muslims willing to take on Islamism as a political ideology. Our national resources need to deeply engage liberty-minded Muslims. They can then credibly deconstruct the false theocratic dream of the Islamic state and lift up the ideas of universal religious freedom and the separation of religion and politics within the Muslim consciousness. Anti-Islamist Muslims will need significant assistance in developing institutions and networks of individuals ready to globally and domestically counter political Islam.