Unity is the best weapon against ISIS (COMMENTARY)

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People hold hands to form a human solidarity chain at Place de la Republique near sites of the deadly attacks in Paris, on November 15, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ALMARAYATI-COLUMN, originally transmitted on Nov. 19, 2015.

People hold hands to form a human solidarity chain at Place de la Republique near sites of the deadly attacks in Paris, on November 15, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ALMARAYATI-COLUMN, originally transmitted on Nov. 19, 2015.

(RNS) In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, there has been much talk about the need to strip away “political correctness” when discussing Muslims, Islam and Middle Eastern refugees.

The inference is that we, Americans, have given most Muslims a pass, but the horrific Paris attacks have finally made this fragile politeness impossible to sustain.

But earnestly considering other people’s faith is not just an empty show of political correctness. It is a critical step in the progress of America and the world.

ISIS is relatively small: murderous and destructive. Its one path to victory would be to divide those who oppose it, so division rather than conquest is the strategy the violent extremists employ.

ISIS wants the nations of the West to see themselves as being at war with all of Islam. In fact, ISIS warriors themselves are at war with much of Islam and the West. Their brutality angers and disgusts us, but it must not lure us into division.

In America now, some of the loudest voices are falling into this trap. They disparage Muslims and drive a wedge into American society, which, more than any other nation, is built on the contributions of its minorities and immigrants. Without these immigrants, we would not be the resilient society we have become.


READ: British Muslims tell of growing hostility in new report


It should be apparent that the Muslims who have long made America their home and those who have immigrated in recent decades live by an ethic that rejects the ISIS message.

Scattered but tragic acts of homegrown terrorism in America are products of a few alienated people. Those extremists are at least as repugnant to Muslims as they are to the rest of America.

The challenge to Americans is to recognize that Muslims, Christians, Jews — all of us — are on the same team in the fight against violent extremism. The challenge to American Muslims is to engage fully with the rest of the nation in identifying the safest and wisest paths forward.

The only way to fight ISIS is with a united front, both Muslim and non-Muslim.


READ: Should refugees be vetted on the basis of religion?


We need a cohesive political strategy to counter ISIS, not merely a military strategy in the Middle East. The heightened prejudice witnessed over the past couple days in America — from football fans spouting hate during a moment of silence to xenophobic shouts to block Syrian refugees from settling in the West — will only serve ISIS in exploiting the fears of otherwise decent people.

As presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said 24 hours after the tragedies in Paris, “Let us not fall into the trap of thinking all of our Muslim American neighbors are somehow enemies of this country.”  Rather, he said, they “are the first line of defense against radical elements.”

American Muslims are the front line in the fight against terror by alerting and defending the nation from ISIS recruiters preying on alienated youth and by providing counsel on complex issues emanating from the Middle East.

What lies behind the savagery and nihilism of recent days — the murders in Paris, the downing of a Russian airliner, the bombings in Beirut — is, in part, the anticipation by the terrorists of an imminent apocalypse.

But a glimpse into the Quran’s message exposes the fraudulence of the doctrine of religious war. American Muslims know that, but other Americans need to be informed so they can  amplify a voice of religious pluralism to counter the radicals’ message of religious separation.


READ: ISIS, ISIL, Daesh — explaining the many names for terrorists


Salam Al-Marayati is president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Photo courtesy of Salam Al-Marayati

Salam Al-Marayati is president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Photo courtesy of Salam Al-Marayati

Muslims in many Western nations are already coping with humiliation, harassment and alienation. The smattering of homegrown extremists makes that situation all the more volatile. Muslims and non-Muslims alike suffer the consequences.

That is why we must see through the anti-Muslim rhetoric. Solidifying Muslims’ place in Western society will destroy the doctrinal poison of ISIS. That should be our strategy and not merely asking Muslims to issue more press releases of condemnation.

Bob Berger is a retired op-ed editor at the Los Angeles Times. Photo courtesy of Bob Berger

Bob Berger is a retired op-ed editor at the Los Angeles Times. Photo courtesy of Bob Berger

ISIS wants to see a cultural divide in America to reinforce its argument that Muslims don’t belong in the West. ISIS is on the wrong side of history. Let’s be on the right side. God’s will of diversity and pluralism will prevail.

(Salam Al-Marayati is president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Bob Berger is a retired op-ed editor at the Los Angeles Times.)

YS END AL-MARAYATI-BERGER

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  • Unity or Obedience to God?
    Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (2Co 6:14-17 KJV)

  • Larry

    Thank you for enabling Islamic State’s propaganda wing!

    Your little screed can be used word for word by them to show that Christians like yourself are only interested in extermination of Muslims and their faith. A great recruiting tool for them. A nice way to undermine assertions that the West is interested in freedom and liberty. Change one word and you have their slogans to the letter.

    Seriously, how completely unaware can you be to think that such nonsense is even remotely helpful against these terrorists? I swear, the Islamaphobes are the best agents IS can hope for.

  • Fran

    God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2:44) will soon be the ONLY successful source of putting an end to all wicked ones, including all terrorists, on planet earth (Isaiah 11:1-9).

    Jesus foretold that in the last days of a wicked era that because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of the greater number would cool down (along with other prominent signs: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). This is certainly the case in the entire world today.

    It is so comforting to know that only good-hearted and meek ones shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5) and that ALL wicked ones will no longer exist to make our lives miserable (Psalm 37:10,11)!!

  • The best weapons against ISIS are:

    B-52s
    F-15s
    F-16s
    F-18s
    Tanks
    Artillery
    Mobile rocket launchers
    Abrams fighting vehicles
    Dedicated soldiers supported by massive logistics.

    Forget the fairy tales. There is only one language that ISIS understands, and that is violence.

  • “In America now, some of the loudest voices…disparage Muslims and drive a wedge into American society..”

    EXACTLY!
    American Muslims in particular are extraordinary citizens.
    Bring the refugees here.

    Muslims in America:
    1. Educated. They comprise less than 1% of the population yet 4% of the professional services in medicine and technology.*
    2. Professional. They adapt to American life more quickly than any other religious group and begin paying taxes sooner.
    3. Freedom. The presence of Muslims strengthens separation of church and state vis-a-vis Christianity.
    4. Secularism. Believe it or not, Muslims who leave the totalitarian regimes where religion is strictly enforced and settle in America lose their religion faster than any other religious group.

    *Pew Research.

  • @David Mayer,

    “forget fairy tales”

    Yet you tell a slew of new ones. American has lost all of its wars since 1945. I’m not in the mood for more losses.

    It is impossible to obliterate ISIS unless the world agrees to overthrow Syria and Iraq (again). Millions of innocents would die and it would only strengthen the ISIS claim of global armageddon. Cooler heads need to prevail.

    Meanwhile, everyone should let go of their religions, the source of most evil in the world.

  • Larry

    [Paris] Police believe attackers used forged passports to stigmatize refugees
    http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/police-believe-attackers-used-forged-passports-to-stigmatize-refugees-1.2662167

    “Islamic State has frequently said one of its goals is to stop refugees from fleeing Syria by any means possible, and tells refugees they are committing “a major dangerous sin” by attempting to flee the war and entering countries where they will be assimilated or integrated into “Christianity, atheism or liberalism.”

    Its official, the xenophobes are tools of Islamic State.

    The group has used photos and video of children who have drowned in its propaganda, telling refugees they are throwing away their “lives and souls” by going to Europe.”

  • RMW

    Your assertion makes no sense.
    Or rather, it makes about as much sense that during World War Two, the ‘proper’ response to Japanese and Nazi aggression is never say anything against Japanese and Nazi policies because this might make the Japanese and Nazis more aggressive.

  • RMW

    “Meanwhile, everyone should let go of their religions…”
    And why exactly should they follow your advice? What authority do you have?
    In any case, in France the direction seems to be flowing the other way. According to the French organisation CPDSI which researches native white French nationals who have become Muslim militants, discovered in one survey that 80% of the came from atheist families:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30119868

  • larry

    Your post is an incoherent mess. Pastor Steve was saying people who are not Christians are evil. Exactly the sort of thing I-S says that we supposedly believe in the West. He is doing the propaganda job for them.

    If you are going to invoke a Nazi reference, at least do it accurately.

    The attitude towards the Syrian refugees is almost exactly how we treated Jewish refugees trying to come to the US. We turned many of them from our shores to their deaths.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_St._Louis

    Demonizing the entire faith of Islam is exactly what I-S wants. To keep people from gravitating towards the sane and the modern. Its the opposite of useful when it comes to combatting the terrorists. How completely unwaware do you have to be to not get this?

  • RMW

    And who are you to determine ‘accuracy’?
    The modern Jewish state of Israel deports unwelcomed African refugees. Such a nice example from Jews right?
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/toughening-its-stance-toward-migrants-israel-pushes-africans-to-leave/2015/05/14/e1637bce-f350-11e4-bca5-21b51bbdf93e_story.html

    “Demonizing the entire faith of Islam is exactly what I-S wants.”
    And the ‘proper’ response is…what? Accept the Islamic religion? Are you on the verge of becoming a Muslim convert?

    If you like Syrian refugees so much, how many have you welcomed and accommodated into your home?

  • larry

    You respond by changing the subject and invoking rhetorical fallacy. That doesn’t bode well for the strength or veracity of your claims. You are neither denying nor refuting what I have been saying.

    The Gulf States are known for many things, but the free flow of information and political objectivity are not them. They are dictatorships which have been benefactors of I-S. One cannot take a source coming from a dictatorship as a face value statement of fact.

  • RMW

    @Larry
    “You respond by changing the subject and invoking rhetorical fallacy.”
    You set the example.

    You don’t like people demonising the whole Islamic faith, but you seem to be dismissing everything from Qatar. That means you yourself must be a bigot right?

    And if you like Muslim Syrian refugees so much, how many have you welcomed and accommodated into your home?

  • Algird

    ” According to the French organisation CPDSI which researches native white French nationals who have become Muslim militants, discovered in one survey that 80% of the came from atheist families:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30119868

    ” ….It ain’t necessarily so….” George & Ira Gershwin – Porgy & Bess

    Just because something is published by the BBC – don’t make it ” necessarily so. ”

    CPDSI appears to be a one horse organization started in Apr 2014 by Dounia Bouzar in France.

    French authorities don’t know how many French nationals have become ” Muslim militants ” let alone know how many of them are white – nor do they know how many of them came from ” atheist families “. How could this information have any credibility ? Who did the survey & what database were they working from ?

    The stats quoted are absurd….

  • Larry

    It makes zero sense to bring in terrorists as refugees for a number of reasons. There is up to a 2 year wait while a refugee’s background is being vetted. This makes it difficult to plan operations or make it past authorities.

    Once they get here they must appear before CIS to explain why they are political refugees in a long, arduous interview process. Because refugees are made permanent residents, there is a high level of scrutiny on them here. Tourist visas are much easier to obtain and have far less scrutiny once someone is in the country.

    Plus it is in the interests of ISIS to demonize the refugees and make it more difficult for them to flee to safe democratic nations. Islamaphobes are the best agents ISIS can have. They provide great examples for recruiting propaganda and do precisely the most counterproductive actions in combating them.

    By all means don’t left facts get in the way of your paranoid nonsense.

  • RMW

    From here, it seem to have come from a list of 160 families who have provided information to the CPDSI about love ones who have become militant Muslims. It’s a start to compiling data:
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/islamic-states-scariest-success-attracting-western-newcomers-1424932279

  • RMW

    @Larry
    “Plus it is in the interests of ISIS to demonize the refugees and make it more difficult for them to flee to safe democratic nations.”
    So it is better to let them come in and influence a native Danish girl to murder her own mother, like this Iraqi refugee did in Denmark
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/11867138/Danish-teenage-girl-stabbed-mother-to-death-after-watching-Isil-videos-with-Islamist-boyfriend.html
    No Islamophobia with this girl. You must be glad right?

  • Larry

    80% of a very small sample group who volunteered information. In other words a B-S study used to generate headlines, but of no factual value whatsoever.

  • Larry

    RMW, your need to resort to guilt by association for an entire group renders your argument silly by nature. Your citation is not proof of (or even an example of) terrorists sneaking into the US under the guise of refugees.

    By your arguments, the actions of Anders Behring Breivik are living proof that white right wing Europeans are just mass murderers in waiting.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Norway_attacks

    You are straying off topic because you know you have nothing remotely sane to work with. Your premise is implausible and entirely colored by bigotry. Hence the constant use of insults and disparaging remarks in your responses. You have nothing intelligent worth responding to.

  • RMW

    @Larry
    On the contrary it is a start to gathering data.

  • RMW

    @Larry
    How is it off topic to show a refugee (an Iraqi in this instance) that was an IS supporter?
    You dismiss vital info from Qatar concerning IS support amongst Syrian refugees. Who’s potentially inviting danger now?
    And is Qatar is so untrustworthy, why is your USA and other Western nations selling advanced military equipment to them?