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October 1, 2014 7:23 am

Where is the Muslim Outrage at IS?

avatar by David Werdiger

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Stephen Sotloff with ISIS captor Photo: screengrab

Steven Sotloff with ISIS captor. Photo: screengrab.

Imagine this scenario: a new militant Jewish group, The New Sadducee State (NSS), rejects the Torah’s Oral Tradition, and wants to return the entire world to the literal and strict interpretation of the Written Law. They want to bring back slavery, eye-for-an-eye justice, chopping off the hands of thieves, and the death penalty for sodomy.

Their firebrand preachers follow a carefully devised strategy. They hang out in the cafes of Wall Street, befriending PhDs who work as quantitative analysts. Gaining their trust, they succeed in radicalizing them, and convince them to join the battle against the evils of capitalism and democracy. They travel to the NSS enclave in the British Virgin Islands – a tax free jurisdiction, where these analysts cum elite hackers run very profitable high-frequency trading systems to build a war chest of billions of dollars. The entire Western world is paralysed with fear of what NSS might do.

How do you think the Jewish world would respond to this? Every Jewish publication without fail – from Hamodia and Yated Ne’eman to The New York Times and everything in between – would be unequivocal in its condemnation of NSS. There would be full page ads in every major daily with signatures of leaders of the most diverse Jewish groups, all seeking to make it very clear that NSS does not represent any known form of mainstream Jewry.

There would be no excuses or rationalizing. No suggestions that we hold back judgement pending further investigation. NSS would unite the Jewish world more than any external enemy ever could.

Now, contrast this hypothetical with the response of the Muslim world to the threat of the Islamic State (IS). Perhaps I missed the large and widespread advertising campaign in newspapers from Muslim organizations clearly declaring their opposition to IS. Or the editorials from senior representatives distancing themselves from IS. We must ask: why have these not been forthcoming?

In a recent local (Melbourne) incident where a young Muslim, Numan Haider, was shot dead by police after an altercation, the media reports initially stumbled to the point where they published a picture of the wrong man. While Haider was initially reported to have stabbed two officers before being shot, the media was forced by political activists to state that the stabbing was only ‘alleged.’

The response from Muslim organizations has been quite staggering. The Islamic Council has refused to condemn the man, and demanded that he not be branded a ‘terrorist.’ One Islamic conference organizer has inverted things completely, equating the IS beheadings to the actions of Western armies. The media has followed suit, now raising concerns that the very theories of radizalisation are marginalising teenagers.

This defensive and reflexive attitude is quite staggering. The world has united to fight IS, and while some Arab states have joined the military coalition, the Muslim world itself appears to be lagging behind. This is a serious problem. The hardest enemy to fight is the enemy you don’t even recognize. Again, we must ask: why are Muslims so reluctant to criticize IS?

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