Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Joyce Davis on the Muslim World

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Joyce Davis on the Muslim World

Article excerpt

Muslim-American Activism

"The divide that is developing between the Islamic world and the West is serious and dangerous," former deputy foreign editor for Knight Ridder Newspapers Joyce Davis said Nov. 6 at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Addressing an audience of over 50 students, academics and community members, Davis used her 15 years of experience as an observer of the Middle East as a backdrop to discuss different types of Muslims, from "martyrs" to "moderates."

While many argue that there is a wide gulf between the Islamic and Western worlds, Davis said, few realize that there is also a divide within the Islamic world itself. "We're looking at a battle that's pitting Islamic moderates with radicals," she contended. These two groups even differ in their basic definition of Islam, she argued: "On one side, there are people who espouse Islam as a religion of peace and compassion, while there are others who define it in the context of jihad-and these two forces are about to clash."

While Muslim militants in the past have avoided targeting their brethren, there is a new trend indicating that fellow Muslims are fair game, Davis said, citing recent suicide bombings in Iraq which have killed Iraqi Muslims, as well as threats against the prime minister of Pakistan and the Saudi royal family.

To further illustrate the antagonism that militant Muslims feel toward certain Islamic governments, Davis cited a February 1998 communique by Osama bin Laden in which he expressed his frustration with the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and Washington's support of despotic regimes in the Middle East.

Davis then drew from her book Martyrs: Innocence, Vengeance and Despair in the Middle East to emphasize the diversity of views in Muslim countries. …

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