Islam, so say apologists, is a religion of peace. If so, how come that Muslims happen to be fighting Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and animists right across the world? The official body representing Muslim countries has recently put out a statement that the question reveals prejudice they like to call Islamophobia. For them, the price for freedom of speech is too high, and they recommend banning criticism of Islam altogether.
As it happens, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale are now standing trial for the murder and partial decapitation of a soldier in an open London street in front of passers-by. Of Nigerian origins but born British, they are both converts from Christianity to Islam. They plead not guilty and express no regret on the grounds that they are “soldiers of Allah,” engaged in war with enemies. On account of many passages in the Koran, they explain, “We must fight them as they fight us.”
The evidence that the faith conditions Muslims to fight for it is by now overwhelming. Yet every horror precipitates Western leaders to parrot that Islam is a religion of peace. This is a classic case of transference in the jargon of psychology, whereby the aggressor and the victim exchange roles and responsibility.
Apologetics of the kind are escapes from reality, a refusal to look at consequences, accepting blame that belongs to others in the hope that a quiet life will follow. A Muslim who calls himself Ibn Warraq is the only writer I have come across who addresses this crucial phenomenon. Why I am Not a Muslim, an early book of his, openly condemns Islam as backward and bigoted, totalitarian and unreformable. He was the first to point out that Western apologists for Islam are simply not telling the truth. Sir Walter Scott’s Crusades and Other Fantasies, his new book, is a bit more specialized but still for the general reader. He makes the point that Arabs conquered the Middle East and it was only after centuries of abuse and persecution that Christians tried to recapture it. Popes and presidents apologizing for the Crusades are out of order, absurd even. Walter Scott put in place the falsification reaching down to the present that Muslims are peace-loving gentlemen and Crusaders war-mongering thugs. Not even Ibn Warraq can explain the transference, but his description of its sources is enough to clear the air.
In that great anti-totalitarian novel 1984, the hero Winston tries to reassure himself that people don’t really surrender to deception and lies, thinking, “If there’s hope, it lies with the proles.” Today, if there’s hope it lies with finding many more Muslims like Ibn Warraq.