If Islam is a religion of peace, why do so many Westerners find
The coming trials of 11 Muslim men in the United States for
several separate acts of mass murder will sharply refocus attention
on Islamic theology. It will also present the Muslim world with a
"moment of truth."
How the Ummah, the global Muslim community, reacts will be a
crucial test of how the American public judges the mantra "Islam is
a religion of peace."
Political correctness aside, the jury is still out in the court
of American public opinion.
Some time in the coming year, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four
other Guantanamo detainees are to be tried in a civilian criminal
court in New York for plotting the 9/11 terror attacks and for the
mass murder of nearly 3,000 people. Five others will be tried before
a military tribunal on separate charges including the attack on the
warship USS Cole that killed 17 sailors.
In a separate court martial, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan will
face charges of murdering 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, reportedly
because, as a Muslim, he found it morally repugnant to participate
in wars against the Ummah in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Why is Islam so scary to Westerners?
The trials will raise tough questions about Islam itself, a faith
with 1.5 billion adherents.
For example, if Islam is a religion of peace, why do so many
Westerners find it scary? Violent Muslim reaction to perceived
insults is a major reason. In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh
was killed for making a documentary critical of Islam. A year later,
more than 200 people died in riots and bombings after a Danish
newspaper published cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.
Intimidation now runs deep: Yale University Press this year refused
to reprint the cartoons in a scholarly book about the incident for
fear of inciting violence.
The second question these trials will raise is about Muslim
loyalty. To whom do American Muslims show their primary allegiance:
to the teachings of the Holy Koran or to our secular government? Mr.
Hasan is not the first Muslim in the military to kill fellow
soldiers because of divided loyalties. In 2003, Sgt. Hasan Akbar
murdered two US soldiers with a grenade. He was presumably fueled by
Concern over divided loyalty has long dogged minorities in
America. Half a century ago, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy,
a Roman Catholic, was publicly asked if he owed his primary loyalty
to the US Constitution or to the pope in Rome.
More recently, another American citizen, Jonathan Pollard, a Jew,
was sentenced to life imprisonment for spying for Israel. Mr.
Pollard now sits in federal prison because he was more loyal to
Israel than to his native America. …