“What can you say to a man who tells you he prefers obeying God rather than men, and that as a result he’s certain he’ll go to heaven if he cuts your throat?”
When Voltaire said that, he was certainly not referring to jihadist violence.
About three centuries later, simple research will give you 1 million deaths in the all-Muslim Iran-Iraq war; 300,000 Muslim minorities killed by Saddam Hussein; 80,000 Iranians killed during the Islamic revolution; more than 200,000 deaths in Algeria’s civil war; 25,000 deaths from 1970 to 1971, the days of Black September, by the Jordanian government in its fight against the Palestinians; and 20,000 Islamists killed in 1982 by the elder al-Assad in Hama. The World Health Organization’s estimate of Osama bin Laden’s carnage in Iraq was already 150,000 in around 2010.
Today, a thousand is simply a month’s death toll in Iraq, and in Syria the younger al-Assad has allegedly revived his father’s love affair with chemical substances. In Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Muslims live by the bullets and the bombs, if not by the sword. Death is a no-value currency in Muslim lands because it is too abundant.
In a 2007 study, Gunnar Heinsohn from the University of Bremen and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, found that some 11 million Muslims had been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000 (0.3 percent) died during the six years of Arab war against Israel, or one out of every 315 fatalities. In contrast, over 90 percent who perished were killed by fellow Muslims.
When I visited and revisited these “statistics” earlier in this column, I was often accused of being a Mossad agent (like birds and fish and other animal species smart Islamists often detect). Fortunately, Mossad’s “Turkey cell” is expanding, and I am no longer the lone-man-standing.
During Ramadan, two lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party, Nusret Bayraktar and Hasan Karal (my Zionist colleagues), said, “Muslim blood has been shed almost exclusively in Muslim lands.”
More recently, Turkey’s top Muslim cleric (and another colleague), Professor Mehmet Görmez, after mentioning “Islam’s miserable shape in which Islam’s adherents fought and killed each other and bombed their own mosques,” said: “No politics could be more important than Muslims being divided into camps and killing each other.” Fine words, no doubt.
But like most Muslims, Professor Görmez exhibits elements of confusion concerning the etiology of Muslim vs. Muslim violence. In a July speech, Professor Görmez wisely mentioned that “We [Muslims] have a weakness about looking for the root cause of our problems outside the Islamic sphere,” an explicitly critical reference to the common Islamic reference to non-Muslim conspiracies designed to divide the “otherwise indivisible” Muslims.
But most recently – and ironically in the same speech in which he mentioned Islam’s miserable shape – Professor Görmez also mentioned the “conspiracies, plots and games pitting Muslims against each other.”
Is Professor Görmez also a victim of the same weakness he complained of just a month or so ago? Are Muslims so stupid that they would grab the gun and kill a fellow Muslim on the spot because a non-Muslim had devilishly plotted the murder?
A more realistic analysis could put a much more simple case under the magnifying glass if the ulama wished to understand why jihadists prefer the verse 5:33 (“The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land…) to 5:32 (“Whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind”).
Last month, Muhsin Tüzer, a town imam and a keen musician whose band mixes Sufism with rock tunes, had to request police protection after massive threats of “beheading” shortly after his debut concert. Are those who threaten to behead the imam non-Muslim conspirators pitting Muslims against each other? I wish the ulama had an answer.