Not All Muslims or Arabs are Terrorists

Not All Muslims or Arabs are Terrorists

© David Burton 2024

Moderate Muslims

     Following the rocket attacks on northern Israel from Lebanon in 2006, I was in Israel on a Friday in early 2007. Fridays in Israel are somewhat similar to Saturdays in the States. There is no school and most businesses shut down at mid-afternoon. Most buses and taxis stop running at sunset. On this day, the group with which I was in Israel, was scheduled to visit a Muslim Mosque and Community Center, the Baha’i Gardens, and a Druze village. At 9:00 in the morning, we met our guide, and our driver, Hussein, who was a Druze.

     We first drove to the Kababir section of Haifa, which is an Arab neighborhood. Kababir is located well up on Mt. Carmel, overlooks the ocean and is more elegant than the older neighborhoods in downtown Haifa. There we visited the Mahmud Mosque and the Kababir Community Center. We were taken into the mosque by the Muslim Sheriff who the provided an explanation of the 5 daily Muslim prayer services and other features of the Muslim religion. The mosque is new, having been built in 1990. Men pray on the ground level and women pray in the upper section, an arrangement similar to the arrangements in orthodox Jewish synagogues with which I grew up. We were then taken into the community center, where our host told us about his community, his Muslim sect and some of their concepts of Islam.

     The original Arab settlers of Kababir were a family that came to Haifa in 1850. Today there are some 1,200 Arabs living there, nearly all of whom are descendants of the original family that settled there in 1850. The Arabs in this community tend to marry among themselves.
     The Arabs in Kababir belong to a reform Muslim sect, called Ahmadiya , which was founded in 1889 by a Muslim from India. In 2007, the sect numbered around 200 million, with followers in 180 countries and all 50 states in the U.S. The leader of the sect resided in London.

     This Muslim movement interprets the Koran in a highly non-violent and almost pacifist manner and was attempting to spread their message on tolerance and non-violence among their fellow Muslims in Gaza and the West Bank, as well to other Muslims and non-Muslims around the world. Unfortunately, their efforts in Gaza have not yet proven successful.

     Our host pointed out that to the Ahmadiya sect, the Jihad of the Koran means “struggle” and does not mean “holy war”, as most westerners interpret the term. To our young host, and his fellow practitioners, Jihad is the struggle to live the right way and to treat all people equally and justly. To them, the struggle is a peaceful struggle and Islam itself is the submission to God. To our host, the violent elements in Islam base their actions upon incorrect interpretations of the Koran and upon politics, not upon the “true” teachings in the Koran.

     During the discussion, our host noted the biased world-wide media coverage that focuses only the militant form of Islam, with their terrorists and suicide bombers. Earlier, on our ride to the mosque, our Israeli guide said much the same about the international media and told of specific biased reporting by a reporter from the Los Angeles Times during the rocket attacks on Haifa the previous summer. Our Jewish guide and our Muslim host both had the same experiences with the media – the media reporting of the Israeli-Arab problem is neither fair nor balanced and the media only is interested in reporting the sensational and the bad – “Bad news is good news”. The positives are of no interest to the media. Good news doesn’t sell.

     Back in the winter of 2007, I left Kababir with greater hope – so far, the unfulfilled hope - that one day the moderate elements in Islam would be able to take the lead in the Moslem religion and help the rest of the world in defeating radical Islamic terrorism.

     Islam is often called the religion of peace and tolerance. Unfortunately, there are many fanatical adherents of the religion behaving in a fashion that is inimical to such a concept. Also unfortunate is the failure of more moderate and liberal Muslims to come forward to rescue their religion from the fanatics that have co-opted the religion and given Islam such a bad name in the Western world. More moderate and liberal Muslims need to come forward to gain control of their religion. Until this occurs, the non-Muslim world cannot trust Islamists nor put any faith in their claims that Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance. There are, however, glimmers of hope appearing in the Muslim world.

     In Oslo, Norway, on 22 February 2015, it was reported that Muslims formed a “ring of Peace” around a Jewish synagogue. The number of Muslims participating in the demonstration against Islamic extremists was as many as 1,000 or so as widely reported[1] or only 20 as one report claimed.[2] Another report stated that, “More than 1,000 people, including many Muslims, formed a human chain around an Oslo synagogue in a show of support for Jews.” (Ref. 3)

     For me, the actual number present at the demonstration is irrelevant – what is relevant is the fact that a number of Muslims stood up in public and, in effect, stated that they opposed extremist Islamic jihadists. As the president of the 1,400-strong Jewish Oslo community, told The Times of Israel, “The importance of the event . . . was that a group of Muslim young adults took the initiative to speak out against anti-Semitism, and decided to ‘not let the radicals and jihadists take over the agenda.’" (Ref. 2)

     In 2013, “Members of Canada's Muslim community helped tip off authorities to a terrorist plan to attack a train, allegedly devised by two men working with al Qaeda.
      - - -
     “. . . a Muslim community leader in Ontario, told the Toronto Sun that the imam of a local Muslim community helped foil the terror plot by alerting authorities.
      - - -
     “. . . {The} U.S. Ambassador {to Canada} added that the two men were apprehended following ‘extensive’ cross-border operations.
      - - -
     “{The two accused terrorists} are accused of receiving ‘directions and guidance’ from members of al Qaeda in Shiite-led Iran, even though al Qaeda is a Sunni Arab network . . . Charges against the men include conspiracy to carry out an attack and murder people in association with a terrorist group.” (Ref. 4)

     “Islamic extremists . . . proselytiz{e} that modern life conflicts with Islamic teaching, {that} the West and colonialism are responsible for the despair afflicting so many Muslim communities, and {that} violence is necessary to defend the faith and redress injustices.
     “That message is easily carried from one neighborhood to another, propagated over the internet, and benefits from considerable financial support from ISIS.
      - - -
     “Parents, teachers and religious leaders are best able to first spot the beginnings of hateful influences among young people and engage them. {Moderate Muslim parents, teachers and religious leaders must} do what Christian leaders have been doing for years — explain to young people that hateful ideas about others are ill-founded and can do as much harm to them as to their targets. {Emphasis mine} (Ref. 5)

     Are moderate Muslims beginning to see the light and joining in the struggle against radical Islam? Maybe.

     The militant activities of the Islamic State (IS) and its counterparts have actually contributed to the rise of moderate Islam in the Islamic world. The fact is that it is Muslims, of all sects, who have suffered the most at the hands of these groups. A 2012 US National Counterterrorism Center report revealed: ‘In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97% of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.’ The violence has created among Muslims a general feeling of solidarity with the non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East and Westerners who fell prey to these groups.
     The killing of a number of journalists at the Charlie Hebdo Newspaper offices in Paris was no exception. Through their target selection, extremists were betting on the attack winning them wider social support from Muslims, as the target was a sensitive and controversial subject among Muslims. Despite the many Islamic objections to the Charlie Hebdo caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, the result was the opposite: The Muslim world largely responded by denouncing the terrorist act, not the cartoons.
     Tehran’s substitute Friday prayer leader Ahmad Khatami condemned the Charlie Hebdo attack, saying, “We fully condemn this terrorist act and announce that Islam does not allow the killing of innocent people.” This position was a radical change in the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose founder’s fatwa calling for the death of novelist Salman Rushdie had set a precedent for fatwas against those insulting Islamic sanctities.
     The Iraqi Foreign Ministry issued a statement fully denouncing the terrorist act and asserting, ‘Iraq stands at the forefront of countries supporting France and all the states affected by terrorism.’ Popular demonstrations in the streets of Baghdad made many Iraqis' position on the murders clear.[Ref. 6]

     Where are the “masses of moderate Arabs and Moslems” that should be combatting Islamic extremists like ISIS and al Qaeda? There is certainly enough military manpower in the Arab nations to defeat ISIS and al Qaeda. In 2015, ISIS was reported to have perhaps 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria. Discounting the armed forces of Syria, Iraq and Iran, the Arab world had the following number of troops under arms: Egypt - 440,000; Saudi Arabia – 230,000; Morocco – 200,000; Algeria – 130,000; Jordan – 100,000; UAE – 60,000; Oman – 40,000; Tunisia – 40,000; Kuwait – 20,000; Qatar – 10,000; Bahrain – 10,000. Combined, there were some 1,280,000 troops serving in the Arab armies. If only 10% of these were committed to fighting ISIS, there would be 128,000 troops compared to ISIS’s 30,000. In addition, Iran (520,000), Iraq (280,000), and Syria (180,000) had a combined military of another 980,000 men under arms.[7]

     While not all of these Arab countries would be considered “moderate”, they all appear to have a vested interest in ridding the world of the scourge of ISIS. So where are the multitude of moderate Arab and Moslem fighters that could be fighting the extremists? The answer to this question is that many of these Arab armies are busy keeping the despotic regimes in power in the countries where they are located. Might not self-preservation and self-interest induce the “moderate” Arabs and Moslems to join the rest of the world in fighting and destroying a common threat?

     It may be that a moderate movement in the Islamic world with attitudes very different from that of militant Islam is now developing. Hopefully this movement will strengthen and take a more active and aggressive role in the struggle against militant Islam. What is needed is a flood of Islamic moderation – not just a few Muslims speaking out against the barbarism of Islamic fanatics, but the raised voices and actions of hundreds of millions of moderate Muslims opposing the violent actions of the jihadists. As we so often hear - Deeds speak louder than words! As of today, a start may have been made in this direction, but the all-out condemnation and opposition of radical Islam by moderate Muslims has yet to be fully achieved.

     Indeed, “Moderate” Arab/Muslim leaders and governments are becoming more and more aware that the excesses of Islamic fanatics threaten not just “infidels” but themselves as well. These “moderates” know quite well that Muslims are being butchered and abused by fanatics across the Middle East. The moderate Muslims must do more than simply condemn violent acts by their co-religionists – many more moderates must actively join the fight to destroy fundamentalist Islamic extremism. Moderate Muslims must report incitements to Islamic acts of terror. They must take to the streets and barricades in opposing jihadist extremism. They must actively enter the fray against violent Islamic extremism. No one can stand on the sidelines or be silent in the face of radical Islamic terror.

     Victory over fanatic Islam requires that we insist that Muslim “moderates” whole-heartedly join the fight to defeat and destroy Islamic fundamentalism. There can be no standing on the sidelines. You are either with us or against us! Islamic extremism will not be “degraded and ultimately destroyed” unless it is “moderate” Muslims themselves who fight it.

     In 2015, another glimmer of hope appeared when for the first time since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, Chanukah candles were lit in the Jewish synagogue in the capital of the Arab nation of Bahrain..

     “French Rabbi Moshe Levin of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) along with French Imam Hassan Chalghoumi traveled to Bahrain under invitation from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to join a special interfaith conference hosted at the palace in Manama.
      - - -
     “Greeting his guests for a special interfaith meeting, King Al Khalifa said that ‘the call to war against terror needs to come from the leaders of all the religions as one.’
     "‘Here in Bahrain members of all the religions live with no fear, and we will continue to allow Jews to live peacefully and quietly, maintaining their lifestyle, their customs and the commandments of their religion without any fear.’” (Ref. 8)

     If moderate Muslims are to join the effort to rid the world of Islamic extremism, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, including: women’s rights, increased tolerance of ethnic and religious minorities, improved human rights, and increased democracy. But, the following are the three minimum requirements:

  1. Moslems must unambiguously join the fight to eradicate all forms of extremist Islamic terrorism.
  2. Islamic proselytizing must only be by peaceful non-coercive means.
  3. The right of Israel to exist must be unequivocally announced and all incitements to violence against Israel and Jews must end.
     “Moderate” Arab/Moslem leaders and governments are now painfully aware that the excesses of Islamic fanatics threaten not just “infidels” but themselves as well. These “moderates” have seen that Muslims are being butchered and abused by fanatics across the Middle East and elsewhere. Victory over fanatic Islam requires that we insist that these Muslim “moderates” aggressively join the fight to defeat and destroy Islamic jihadists. Instead of a trickle of support from “moderate Muslims” in the war on Islamic fundamentalism, there needs to be a veritable flood of concerted aid from these “moderates” to oppose Islamic terrorism. Muslim moderates must be wholeheartedly with us or else they are against us! There can be no standing on the sidelines.

     On November 8, 2023, following the devastating Hamas attack on Israel, British foreign minister James Cleverly said, repeating Britain’s support for a two-state: “A move towards a peace-loving leadership in Palestine is the most desired outcome in the Israel-Hamas conflict.   . . . In the short term, it is inevitable that Israel, because they have the troops in Gaza, will need to have a security responsibility.  . . . But our view is as soon as practicable, a move towards a peace-loving Palestinian leadership is the most desired outcome.” Cleverly’s remarks bordered on the delusional without the slightest understanding of the history of the conflict. Inherent in his statement was the belief that the Palestinian Arabs want to live in peace with Israel. This illusion persists in spite of overwhelmingly evidence they have never had the slightest intention of agreeing to Israel’s right to exist in their ancestral homeland.
     If a two-state solution is what these Arabs want, then why do they and their supporters chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” on university campuses and demonstrations throughout the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe. It is a call for the total destruction of the Jewish state since the borders of Israel are between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
     Instead of stupidly repeating the call for a non-existent "two-state solution” what those who truly desire to peace in the Middle East must do is to find and support moderate Muslim/Arab leaders who will encourage realist and practical actions.
     The world needed to realize that the 2023 attack on Israel from Gaza was a continuation of “an existential conflict, both against Israel as a state and against all Jews. Even in the face of overwhelming proof of the goal of the Palestinian-Arabs to annihilate the Jewish State, the West and the US have blindly persisted in pursuing the fantasied notion of a two-state solution.
     The search for the elusive moderate Arab leaders is not new. In June 1938, Sir John Shuckburgh of the Colonial Office was asked about Arab moderates. Shuckburgh recalled the saying of the late Lord John Morley, that, in times of unrest, “moderates are always at a discount.” The condition in Palestine, Shuckburgh noted, “was unhappily one in which extremists held the limelight and moderates had little influence.”
     Alec S. Kirkbride, District Commissioner of the Galilee and Acre District, added that there were a number of moderates who were prepared to cooperate with the British, even though they disagreed with the British mandatory policy. It was “impossible” to estimate their exact number, however, because “they were naturally disinclined to come into the open.”
     The Palestinian Arab Congress explained the difficulty of finding moderates when it told the League of Nations: “It is a gross error to believe that Arab and Jew may come to an understanding if only each of them exchanges his coat of extremism for another of moderation. When the principles underlying two movements do clash, it is futile to expect their meeting halfway.”[9]
     Today, nearly a century later, moderate Arabs (and moderate Muslims) may finally be willing to step forward and displace those extremists who have created (and still are creating) such immense death and destruction in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

     Let's keep in mind the fact that not all Muslims or Arabs are terrorists. Let's encourage moderate Muslims and Arabs to step forward and to assume the responsibility of leading their brethren to a peaceful and realsitic soloution of the ongoing problems in the Middle East.
  1. 1,000 join Muslim 'ring of peace' outside Oslo synagogue, Associated Press, USA Today, 22 February 2015.
  2. MEDIA HOAX: 20 MUSLIMS HOLDING HANDS BECOME 1,000-STRONG ‘RING OF PEACE’ AT OSLO SYNAGOGUE, Jordan Schachtel, Breitbart, 22 February 2015.
  3. Oslo synagogue ‘peace ring’ marred by organizer's anti-Israel remarks, some Jews say, The Jerusalem Post: Diaspora, 22 February 2015.
  4. Muslims Helped Foil Terror Plot In Canada; Imam Tipped Officials To Plans To Derail Train, Cavan Sieczkowski, The Huffington Post, 23 April 2013.
  5. Obama and moderate Muslims both fail to fight Islamic extremism, Peter Morici, Washington Times, 22 February 2015.
  6. Moderate Islam pushes back extremism, Ali Mamouri,; Iraq Pulse, 30 January 2015.
  7. Arab armies: Full of sound and fury, The Economist, 22 August 2015.
  8. Hanukkah candles lit in Bahrain synagogue for first time since 1948, i24news, 9 December 2015.
  9. The Search for Peace-Loving Arab Leadership, Alex Grobman PhD. Jewish Press, 13 November 2023.


  15 February 2024 {ARTICLE 612; ISLAM 55 }    
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