World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty Is Vital to American National Security

By Thomas F. Farr | Go to book overview

9
Islam and the American
Opportunity

[I]t would be nice to think that someone is arguing with the terrorists
and with the readers of Sayyid Qutb…. But the enemies of these people
speak of … United Nations resolutions, of unilateralism, of multilateral-
ism, of weapons inspectors, of coercion and non-coercion. This is no
answer to the terrorists.

The terrorists speak insanely of deep things. The antiterrorists had
better speak sanely of equally deep things. But who will speak of the
sacred and the secular, of the physical world and the spiritual world?
Who will defend liberal ideas against the enemies of liberal ideas?

—Paul Berman1

He is a moderate Muslim: He prays only once a day.

—Western journalist referring to a British Muslim mayor2


Understanding the Enemy and the Antidote

In the early 21st century few threats to fundamental U.S. interests surpass those presented by Islamist extremism. The danger is multifaceted. It has national, regional, and transnational variants. Most vexingly, it draws—however unjust and distorted the connection—from certain understandings of Islam. Indeed this is the common thread: each radical movement is motivated by a sense of powerful religious obligation grounded in particular readings of Islam’s sacred sources. This threat cannot be defeated by military force alone, even when combined with state-to-state diplomacy and the largely secularist freedom agenda promoted by the United States in recent years.

-243-

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