In a fascinating post, Islamic studies scholar and Middle East expert, President of the Philadelphia based Middle East Forum (MEF) Daniel Pipes, points to yet another example of Muslims in the Middle East who come out against the “real enemy” in the region: Islamism – and not Israel or Zionism. Pipes writes:
In a remarkable but thus-far unnoticed address on Dec. 5, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain (an island kingdom in the Persian Gulf and home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet), candidly analyzed the Islamist enemy and suggested important ways to fight it.
The address is a very fascinating, powerful, courageous and timely message by an important political leader of a Muslim country.
Salman wants to get rid of the term “War on Terror,” as it is a misnomer. He is right. He wants it to be replaced, for example, by “War on Theocracy” or “War on fascist theocracy” aiming at the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), al-Qaeda, and all other Islamist groups worldwide. Salman correctly says that “terror” is not an -ism or an ideology; it is a “tool.” Fighting terrorism is a misnomer, too. We have to fight the ideology behind it. He mentions “Communism” as such a threat in the 20st century, and is now focusing on Islamism, without using that word. “War on fascist theocracy” is indeed an option, as the world knows that a core example of that is the Islamic State in the Middle East.
Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa’s speech is all the more important as it provides yet another example of the difference between Islam, the faith, and Islamism, the ideology. Pipes writes:
This new tendency has great importance. As I often say, radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution. Now, we may add another influential leader, indeed a crown prince, to the ranks of those Muslims who wish to find a solution.
In Germany, though, like in many other countries, there is now a movement against “Islamization,” that aims at Islam as such and not at all at Islamism. In the German city of Dresden, for example, there is a dangerous movement on the streets. Since October 2014, they rally each Monday, reminding us of the anti-GDR rallies prior to the end of that regime in 1989. The Dresden group is called “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Christian Occident.” The German acronym is Pegida (“Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes”). They have no problem with Islamism in Muslim countries, though, as their organizer said on TV. They want Muslims to behave like “German” Germans in Germany. The Dresden activists, counting up to 10,000 this last Monday, praise “German traditions,” as if there was never a problem with German traditions, take antisemitism, nationalism, and National Socialism as examples.
They have no problem with Islamism in Egypt or any other Muslim country. They just want Germany to get rid of Muslims, more or less. They fight refugees, many of whom are fleeing Jihad and Islamism in Syria, Libya or Iraq. Sadly, the extreme right-wing organizers and participants of those events represent a growing number of ordinary Germans who detest Islam as such. Many people in the so called pro-Israel camp in Germany have no problem with that kind of agitation against refugees and Islam. Some of them go so far and say that Jews are facing a “second Shoah,” which started hundreds of years ago, including pogroms in 1840 or 1929 etc. Logically spoken, Hitler followed hundreds of years of Muslim Jew-hatred. This shocking denial of German antisemitism and the unprecedented character of the Holocaust stands pars pro toto for an increasingly fanaticized movement. It is also a form of post-Holocaust antisemitism to frame antisemitic murder, like the killing of rabbis in a synagogue in Jerusalem a few weeks ago, as a “Shoah.” The Shoah was a whole complete different story, based on the industrial killing of six million Jews by Germans, and their allies.
Most of the anti-Islam and Holocaust distorting agitators, by the way, are not experts in the Middle East, but pretend to be experts. Most of them are just bloggers, or journalists in best case. They are not scholars, with a very few exceptions. They do not following Pipes’ and others advice to distinguish between Islam as a faith and Islamism as an ideology.
Therefore, speeches like this one by the Bahrain crown prince are of tremendous importance. They stand for the only realistic way to fight Islamism, or fascist Theocracy. German and other Western defamations of Islam as such are racist, misleading and dangerous answers to the Islamist threat. Supporting well-educated and moderate Muslims like Salman should be essential for any discussion about Islamism. His viewpoint should become part of new textbooks throughout the world that address the contemporary debates about the Middle East, terror and jihad. Islamism or fascist theocracy is the enemy. Political leaders like Salman bin Hamad Al-Kahlifa are well aware of this. They are allies in the fight against fascist theocracy and should be taken seriously in their approach.