A new topics class being offered by the PSU History Department this semester is giving students insight into extremist Islam. Steve Harmon teaches the class, called World Radical Islam, to about 20 students, most of them American.

Part of the reason Harmon wanted to teach this class is to show students how radical Islam differs from mainstream Islam. He says that he began the class by teaching about the basic fundamentals of mainstream Islam before delving into the radical side.

Harmon has been interested in radical Islam for the past five or so years, but only last fall decided to teach it as a class.

Muslims are angered by the U.S.’s treatment of them, he says. Violence against them, such as the war in Iraq and the potential threat of war against Iran, foments this radicalism, according to Harmon.

Harmon also says that radical Muslims use violence, terror and intimidation against their enemies.

“They are perpetrating these acts of violence to bring other Muslims out to support them,” Harmon said. “The radical tradition goes back a long ways.”

Americans, he says, have to be careful not to turn Iraq into a war between Islam and the United States because Iraq is about more than radical Islam.

“Last thing we want to do is to make war on all Muslims,” Harmon said. “It is a relatively small percent of Muslims who are radical.” (MORE)


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