Changes to the AP stylebook show that we’re blinding ourselves to the connections between Islamic extremism and terrorism.
It was a report of the now numbingly familiar sort. Witnesses at the synagogue in Paris recounted that an Iranian immigrant had been screaming “Allahu Akbar!” while he chased the rabbi and his son. When he finally caught up, he slashed away at them with a box-cutter, causing severe lacerations. Nevertheless, the Associated Press assured readers that “[a]n official investigation was underway to determine a possible motive.”
Quite a mystery, that.
It is necessary to search for some “possible” motive because to notice the actual and perfectly obvious motive is verboten in the judgment of both the legacy media and Western governments. The motive, of course, is adherence to Islamic supremacist ideology, a mainstream interpretation of Muslim doctrine commonly referred to by the shorthand “Islamist.”
Indeed, just this April, the AP revised its stylebook to posit new guidelines for use of the term “Islamist.” In so doing, the news service deferred to admonitions from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR, the Muslim Brotherhood’s influential public-relations-cum-lawfare arm in the United States, is a longtime supporter 0f Hamas, the terrorist organization that doubles as the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch.
Before these revisions, the definition off which the AP had been working was reasonably accurate. An Islamist, according to the old guidelines, was “a supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam.” Such supporters make up a sizeable percentage of the 1.4 billion-strong global Islamic ummah (the community), and thus reflect a wide range of Muslim notions about how best to impose these “laws of Islam”—the societal framework and politico-legal system known as sharia (the path). But all Islamists agree that they must be imposed. That is what makes an Islamist an Islamist. The dramatic ascendancy of Islamists—the implementation of their substantially anti-democratic system through democratic procedures—is the story of the so-called Arab Spring.
There is plenty of disagreement within the ummah about what constitutes sharia, which is derived from the Koran and other sources of Islamic scripture, in particular the hadith—authoritative collections of the words and deeds of Mohammed, Islam’s warrior prophet. Some claim it is merely a set of aspirational guidelines intended as a private behavioral compass designed to achieve a Muslim’s personal experience of the divine. This construction, though held by various reformers and modernizing “secular Muslims,” flies in the face of some stubborn realities.
Sharia, for example, is the law of Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, bastions of fundamentalist Islam that admit of no other legal systems, that employ “religious police” to promote strict sharia compliance, and that routinely apply Islam’s harsh corporal punishments, such as scourging and even stoning. Furthermore, even in Islamic countries that attempt to meld sharia with other legal systems (e.g., Napoleonic law), sharia is given pride of place and enforced both officially, in civil and criminal court cases, and culturally, by public mores.
The claims that sharia is aspirational and a matter of personal conscience are further contradicted, by its emphasis on governance: Only a small percentage of Islamic ideology prescribes what we in the West would recognize as religious principles (e.g., the oneness of Allah); the lion’s share is a thoroughgoing regulation of political and social life, from economic and military affairs through interpersonal relations and matters of hygiene. In addition, sharia has long been codified: The treatise “Umdat al-Salik,” reflecting the broad consensus on sharia’s prescriptions across the four ancient Sunni jurisprudential schools, was assembled by the renowned scholar Ahmad ibn an-Naqib al-Misri in the fourteenth century. It is translated into English as Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, and is readily available through most large book retailers—complete with endorsements, in the manual’s foreword, from such influential institutions as Cairo’s al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni learning since the tenth century, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought, an Islamist think-tank headquartered in Virginia by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Islamic supremacist interpretation of sharia found in Reliance of the Traveller and systematically taught by the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most significant Islamic mass-movement, is the dynamic Islam of the Muslim Middle East. It is also gradually making inroads in the West, courtesy of a Brotherhood stratagem best described as “voluntary apartheid.” The idea is for Muslims to immigrate and integrate, but not assimilate. They are encouraged, instead, to move into Islamic enclaves, organizing their lives around the local mosque and Islamic community center, which the Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna stressed as the “axis” of the movement. The goal is to pressure the host government to abide an ever-increasing degree of sharia autonomy.
This form of sharia, to which Islamists widely adhere and aspire, is fundamentally antithetical to Western liberalism. It rejects individual liberty and privacy, equality before the law for women and non-Muslims, freedom of conscience and speech, economic liberty, and even the bedrock principle that a body politic has the power to make law for itself, irrespective of any religious or ideological code. Sharia also expressly endorses jihad. These are the “laws of Islam” to which the AP refers without describing them. The installation of these laws is the top priority of emerging Islamist “democracies,” which establish Islam as the state religion and enshrine sharia in their new constitutions—such new governments as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, whose sharia constitutions were drafted with the helping hand of the U.S. State Department.
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