by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
October 30, 2012
|The Salafi black flag flew over the U.S. embassy in Tunis on Sept. 14.|
That in turn fits a policy going back to 1992 of fighting violent Islamists while cooperating with non-violent ones. Thus did American troops execute Osama bin Laden while American presidents helped Islamists reach power in Turkey and in Egypt.
Many other differences mark variant strands of Islamism: Yusuf al-Qaradawi urges conversion to win over non-Muslims, Nigeria's Boko Haram prefers to kill them. The Hizb ut-Tahrir organization aims to bring all Muslims under the rule of a universal caliphate, Turkey's Fethullahis aspire to build a national form of Islam. Egypt's Islamist president routinely wears a tie, his Iranian counterpart never does. The former Cat Stevens sings a cappella nasheeds, while Somalia's Shabab ban all music on the radio. Women may not operate a car in Saudi Arabia but they drive taxis in Iran.
|Ali Larayedh, Tunisian minister of the interior and tie-wearing "moderate" Islamist.|
Broadly speaking, Islamists divide into three types: (1) Salafis, who revere the era of the salaf (the first three generations of Muslims) and aim to revive it by wearing Arabian clothing, adopting antique customs, and assuming a medieval mindset that leads to religious-based violence. (2) Muslim Brothers and like types who aspire to an Islamic version of modernity; depending on circumstances, they might act violently or not. (3) Lawful Islamists who work within the system, engaging in political, media, legal, and educational activities; by definition, they do not engage in violence.
|Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi, caught on video.|
Oh really? Abou Iyadh, whose real name is Seifallah Ben Hassine, heads Ansar al-Sharia, a.k.a. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Tunisian police established a dragnet to question him about his role leading to the Sept. 14 attack. With the revelation of this meeting, the video undercuts Ennahda's condemnation of the Sept. 14 attack.
|Seifallah Ben Hassine, a.k.a. Abou Iyadh,|
the leader of Ansar al-Sharia.
Revealingly, Ghannouchi states that "The government is now in the hands of Islamists, the mosques are ours now, and we've become the most important entity in the country." Note the references to "ours" and "we," further confirming that he sees Ennahda and the Salafis constituting a joint force.
Ghannouchi's reaching out to Al-Qaeda fits a larger pattern. The Turkish government not only works with, IHH, an organization associated with Al-Qaeda, but it may soon join North Korea and Iran on the black list for its lax terrorism financing laws. The Council on American-Islamic Relations appears legitimate but is a terrorist-supporting front organization founded by Hamas supporters. "Moderate" British Islamists exploited terrorist incidents to increase their clout.
The Tunisian tape brings yet another carefully crafted bifurcation of moderate and extremist Islamists crashing down. All Islamists are one. A moderate Islamist is as fantastical a notion as a moderate Nazi. Every member of this barbaric movement is a potential totalitarian thug. Western governments should neither accept nor work with the one or the other.
|"A moderate Islamist is as fantastical as a moderate Nazi."|
Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2012 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
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