The Corner

The Muslim World’s Problem

While publications like the Daily Beast and Mother Jones and networks like NPR are exposing the scandal of – gasp – Evangelical adoptions, perhaps they should cover a different religious scandal. Thanks to Jim Geraghty’s must-read Morning Jolt e-mail (subscribe if you haven’t — it’s consistently my favorite read of the day), I ran across this chart from The Economist detailing Muslim attitudes towards sharia law and apostasy:

Read it and weep. In Egypt, for example, more than 70 percent of the public supports shariah law, and almost 90 percent of those individuals also support executing those who leave Islam. I feel comfortable saying this is a problem, a much, much greater problem than any alleged American “Islamophobia,” and if we turn away from these statistics and believe the fault for continued jihadist bloodshed lies primarily within us — or is primarily the fault of Israel — then we are truly willfully blind.

To be clear, I do not share this chart as evidence of the nature of “true Islam.” Unlike our recent presidents, I don’t claim to understand the religion so deeply as to pontificate on its true nature. In fact, this chart shows considerable diversity of views (if only Egypt were like Kazakhstan), and I know many Muslims who not only are marvelous people but have provided indispensable help in the war against jihadist terror. Instead, I defy anyone to read this and argue that there aren’t deep cultural problems — tied directly to religious belief — in vast and important swathes of the Muslim world.  

Whether the Islam of Egypt or Kazakhstan is “true Islam” is a matter to be worked out by Muslims, but the fact remains that it’s not a mere “few extremists” who want to execute apostates, and that mindset is a problem for all of us. It’s not “phobia” to point this out any more than it’s “phobia” to note that Muslim terrorists are responsible for tens of thousands of additional terrorist attacks since 9/11 and for thousands before. Nor is it “phobia” to note the rather obvious fact that a population that overwhelmingly believes in executing apostates might well be fertile ground for recruiting jihadists.

One final note: Two of the worst countries on that chart — Egypt and Pakistan — are also among our largest recipients of military and financial aid. It looks like billions of taxpayer dollars do not, in fact, buy moderation.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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