|Friday, September 10, 2004
13:15 - Good start
If this holds any water, it's exactly what I and so many of us have been wanting to see for three years now.
This September 11 marks the third unforgettable anniversary of the worst mass murder in American history.
After September 11, many in the Muslim world chose denial and hallucination rather than face up to the sad fact that Muslims perpetrated the 9-11 terrorist acts and that we have an enormous problem with extremism and support for terrorism. Many Muslims, including religious leaders, and “intellectuals” blamed 9-11 on a Jewish conspiracy and went as far as fabricating a tale that 4000 Jews did not show up for work in the World Trade Center on 9-11. Yet others blamed 9-11 on an American right wing conspiracy or the U.S. Government which allegedly wanted an excuse to invade Iraq and “steal” Iraqi oil.
After numerous admissions of guilt by Bin Laden and numerous corroborating admissions by captured top level Al-Qaida operatives, we wonder, does the Muslim leadership have the dignity and courage to apologize for 9-11?
. . .
Only moderate Muslims can challenge and defeat extremist Muslims. We can no longer afford to be silent. If we remain silent to the extremism within our community then we should not expect anyone to listen to us when we complain of stereotyping and discrimination by non-Muslims; we should not be surprised when the world treats all of us as terrorists; we should not be surprised when we are profiled at airports.
Simply put, not only do Muslims need to join the war against terror, we need to take the lead in this war.
As to apologizing, we will no longer wait for our religious leaders and “intellectuals” to do the right thing. Instead, we will start by apologizing for 9-11.
We are so sorry that 3000 people were murdered in our name. We will never forget the sight of people jumping from two of the highest buildings in the world hoping against hope that if they moved their arms fast enough that they may fly and survive a certain death from burning.
. . .
We are so sorry.
For more information visit our website at: www.freemuslims.org
This had better be for real. I'd hate to have gotten my hopes up for nothing. Right now, though, the server linked above isn't responding to pings, so who knows. This might or might not be earnest, or it might or might not represent a statistically significant number of Muslims. I'll have to wait to find out, though; after all, as we know, stuff can be forged.
But this is the solution we've all wanted: Muslims taking the lead in weeding out their own ranks, perceiving it as being in their own interest to confront their rogue element and present a benign face to the world. Any corporation or government body would aggressively subject itself to rigorous vetting to maintain moral consistency and honor; CEOs step down, Senators resign, maverick employees are fired. It's a system that's served the Western world very well: in a free market of ideas, it's in your own interest as an organized body to hold your members to strict standards, to expect every member to be a good representative of your group, and to own up in good faith to failures on that count. It's a system, however, that has until now eluded the Muslim community, whose leaders prefer instead to chant mantras of Islam being a "religion of peace" and the perpetrators of terrorist attacks being "not really Muslims" and the victims of such attacks being "legitimate targets" (often all in the same breath). In a culture where admission of culpability is the worst possible failing, these kinds of reactions can possibly be seen as rational, which is not to excuse them. ("The soft bigotry of low expectations", anyone?)
But this is the modern world, and it's ruled by modern notions such as the free market of ideas to a degree far greater than we really realize, without the benefit of first-hand historical context. In the age of mass media and light-speed communications, the world's most repressed societies are far more aware of how different life can be in other parts of the world than even the enlightened societies of the Middle Ages were. It's in this environment that it has to sink in that applying Western-style standards of conduct to one's own religious group, no matter how huge or decentralized, is the only way to resolve this clash of civilizations without the world erupting into a conflagration. (I'm not sure how this can be accomplished without a mechanism such as excommunication by which members, if they value their faith, can be kept in line—but at least nobody's ruling out the adoption of a more flexible, possibly more centralized form of Islam that's still considered "legitimate", which seems necessary in any case.)
The War on Terror has been a bleak prospect, though a necessary one, these past three years: regardless of successes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in decreasing terrorists' power worldwide and defending our own borders against any major attacks since 9/11, there's always been a vague feeling that we weren't going to get out of this without at least a couple of cities, somewhere, going up in a mushroom cloud. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next year, but within our lifetimes.
I really hope this "Free Muslims" group is for real. Because they've got the right idea, and their position catching on is what our world's future depends upon. They need all the encouragement they can get. And so from them at least, if not from the entire Muslim world yet (for clearly they don't speak for all of it), I say—with full awareness of the gravity implied—"apology accepted".