LETTER: ‘FUNDAMENTALIST’ MUSLIMS WHO REJECT ALL TERRORISM
The most important point of R. James Woolsey and Nina Shea’s commentary (“What About Muslim Moderates?” editorial page, July 10) is left implicit: It is not that Muslims differ a great deal from one another and that we should do like the U.K. and cultivate moderates and reject extremists; rather, the important point is in the authors’ definition of what constitutes a moderate Muslim.
The Bush administration has been focusing on promoting those Muslims who endorse democracy and human rights — which only small minorities do. However, survey after survey shows that the overwhelming number of Muslims in large Muslim nations such as Bangladesh and Indonesia — as well as in North Africa, and even among the Palestinians — are devout, “fundamentalist” Muslims who nevertheless reject suicide bombers, car bombs and, more generally, terrorism.
We tend to assume that a “true believer” is strongly religious and will favor imposing their views on others by the use of force. However, just as very few of the millions of Christian fundamentalists support bombing abortion clinics and chasing homosexuals out of town, likewise do most devout Muslims oppose the use of force — even if they do not embrace our kind of democracy and the U.N. panoply of human rights.
We should ally ourselves with all those who reject terrorism and not make subscription to democracy our initial litmus test.
Amitai Etzioni, Professor of International Relations, George Washington University, Washington