Moderate Muslim, where art thou?

Messrs Obama and Sarkozy are making belligerent noises about Syria, which seems to be slated to become the next candidate for laser-guided democracy. It’s about time another anti-democrat saw the light (and presumably heard the bang). One can understand how they feel: so far the West’s interference in that region has been such a success.

In Egypt, there’s carnage in the streets; the Israeli embassy has been attacked; Coptic Christians murdered; a gas pipeline blown up; the American University set on fire (I’m sure I’m leaving a few things out). In Lybia, the neodemocrats from different factions are shooting at one another. In Iraq, hardly a day goes by without a mountain (well, a tor) of bodies piling up, while the seven (!) remaining Jews in Baghdad (a third of the population there were Jews between the world wars) are fearing for their lives after their identities have been revealed by WikiLeaks. In Tunisia… well, you get the picture. And we ain’t seen nuthin yet, as US marines must be saying.

The assumption that has been proved gloriously wrong is that, once the ghastly tyrants are out of the way, the moderate Muslims will take over and, rather than tossing grenades at one another and anyone else they don’t like, will start dropping ballots into the boxes. Halleluya!

Now I’ve met a moderate Muslim once; his name was Asif. But perhaps I haven’t been looking in the right places, an oversight to be corrected immediately. So let’s start our search from the Holy Book itself, the Koran. Let me see… Here: ‘Love thy enemy…’ Oops, sorry, got into the wrong book. Now, here we go:

‘Slay them [unbelievers] wherever ye find them…’ (2:91) ‘We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve.’ (3:151) ‘Take them [unbelievers] and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant.’ (4:91) ‘The unbelievers are an open enemy to you.’ (4:101) ‘As for thief, both male and female, cut off their hands.’ (5:38) ‘Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends…’ (5:51) ‘Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush’ (9:5) ‘Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.’ (4:74) ‘…If they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them…’ (4:89)

There are 107 verses like these in the Koran, conservatively counted. And, unlike the rather violent passages in the Old Testament, all of these are open-ended, not tied into a particular situation or historical context. This should be enough to show that Islam, for all its sterling qualities, doesn’t foster moderation in its adherents. That isn’t to say that all Muslims are avid murderers of infidels and apostates. Far from it. Most of them are Muslims in the same sense in which Trotsky was a Jew or Richard Dawkins is a Christian. They were born to a faith whose practices they don’t really follow and whose dictates they don’t necessarily obey. So they can indeed be described as moderate — what they aren’t is Muslims.

Most of the Middle Eastern regimes overturned thanks to the West’s meddling were run by chaps like that —  awful, but not really Islamic zealots. Those we have installed are, or soon will be, both. Can it possibly mean that we’ve been wrong? And can we, for Allah’s sake, leave those people alone for as long as they don’t bother us or our allies? By all means, unleash hell if they do, no holds barred. But don’t try to build nations (except perhaps your own, which are all in dire need of shoring up). Such attempts will be as futile as mine has been to find a moderate Muslim. Those chaps seem to be either one or the other. Not both. Agreed, Mr Obama? D’accord, Monsieur Sarkozy?

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