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In President Obama’s speech at the United Nations yesterday, he sent a message to the Islamic world: We, like you, fear the critics of Islam. Though he stood against the Islamic blasphemy laws that punish real and imagined insulters of Islam, he reinforced the Islamist narrative that a war on Islam is underway.
“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims,” President Obama said.
He also took a few digs at the inconsistency in the Islamic world’s rage. He noted that the U.S. hasn’t instituted blasphemy laws against anti-Christian speech and that “the future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt.”
These paragraphs sound like a condemnation of all religious intolerance, but the first sentence emphasizes that it is only Islamic forces that should win the future. Anti-Christian sentiments, anti-Semitism and hostility towards Muslim minorities exist, but it is the anti-Islamic forces that we must be most concerned about. President Obama stood against Islamic blasphemy laws but justified the rationale used by Islamists around the world in implementing them. And this contradicted his statements on behalf of free speech.
The Islamist narrative that “Islamophobes” are waging war on Islam and systematically persecuting Muslims was also reinforced by Obama’s statement that the enemies of Islam could not win the future. The Islamist theme that Muslims are under assault is a critical factor in the radicalization process that creates potential terrorists. This sentiment is actively promoted by groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations here in the U.S.
This perception is not driven by an honest misreading of Western intentions. The root is Islamist doctrine, which Obama did not point out. Islamists will inevitably believe that Western governments and societies are anti-Muslim because there is no true “justice” or “peace” until the world is brought under Sharia Law.
The riots across the Muslim world over the “Innocence of Muslims” video are likewise attributable to Islamism. It’s not as simple as a violent overreaction to being offended. Islamism preaches that criticism of Islam is the highest offense and offenders are to be punished, either through violence or prosecution.
This is a belief held by many so-called “moderates” embraced by the West. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi said at the Clinton Global Initiative that “physical violence is not the only form of violence” in justifying blasphemy laws. The Tunisian “moderate Islamist” Rachid Ghannouchi voiced his support for “criminalizing the violation of the sacred.” Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan declared that “Islamophobia is a crime against humanity—it [the West] has encouraged it.”
Former President Bill Clinton actually did more to encourage Muslims to grapple with this application of their religion. In an interview, he blamed a “shame-based society” for the overreactions and said that Muslims should view such violence as a sign of insecurity about their faith.
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