Don’t give Islamists the Islamophobia they want – and more

Don’t give Islamists the Islamophobia they want – and more

My column neighbor and ex-sparring partner (if I may?) Mustafa Akyol was perfectly right in his piece “Don’t give ISIL the Islamophobia it wants,” when he wrote that the French “should not give the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) what it wants, which is an irrational and disproportionate response.” He was also right when he wrote that “in a nutshell, this would mean ‘total war’ against ISIL, which would kill many civilians, and thus only embolden the zeal for jihad, deepening an already vicious cycle,” and that “it would also mean more Islamophobia in the West, which will make more Muslims believe that the West is their enemy.” No doubt.

The Western media is full of opinions rightly advising restraint and abstinence from the extreme, both in terms of the military response to the Paris attacks and in political choices: The free world should not go right-wing. No doubt. 

These are sensible suggestions. But they are incomplete. Trying to prevent negative discrimination against Muslims, the “let’s-not-go-down-to-their-level” kind of calls for restraint ironically reflect a sense of negative discrimination against Muslims. 

Mr. Akyol’s column, though prudent, sparks some questions.

What is a “rational and proportionate” response to the terrorists? Do Muslims not tend to be radicalized “with or without being bombed?” Was ISIL born only because the infidels bombed innocent Muslims? Was al-Qaeda born only because Muslim immigrants who live in Christian lands were being persecuted? Did Muslims start to believe that the “West is their enemy” because of Islamophobia? Did they view the “infidels” as their best friends before the concept of Islamophobia burst onto the international political scene?

Why do we advise the victims of terror after a horrible act of terror, and not the members of the culture of the perpetrators? Why should we? Do we subconsciously believe that the culture that perpetrates the acts of terror is “unadvisable?” Is that not the “discrimination” we advise the free world to avoid? We advise you – and not the others – because you can understand rationality whereas the others are incapable of doing so. Negative discrimination? In shy, subtle – and politically correct – words? 

Why do Muslims hate the “infidel” West when the same West is their top destination when they feel compelled to flee their Muslim lands? Why do they not flee to other Muslim lands when their Muslim-against-Muslim wars force them to flee their Muslim lands? 

Forget the jihad against non-Muslim infidels. Why do Muslims bomb the mosques of “other Muslims?” In short, why do Muslims kill other Muslims? Because of “Islamophobia?” Do the Shiites and the Sunnis kill each other en masse because Western countries are poisoned by “Islamophobia?” Do the “mild Islamists” – forget, for a moment, jihadists – kill “infidels,” including secular Muslims, because Western countries are poisoned by “Islamophobia?” Did ISIL kill over 100 people in Muslim Turkey’s capital because of Islamophobia?

We all know the answers. Often, we are too shy (or politically too correct) to name them.

Islamophobia, or any “phobia,” is bad. It may also add to the alluring terror culture that captures young, angry Muslims. But think for a while. Why does “Christianophobia” in Muslim lands not create Christian terrorists who plan to bomb Mecca?

Islamophobia is bad, no doubt. But it is not the reason why one in every 10 Turks sympathizes with ISIL. Nor does it explain why Turkish fans booed and chanted “Allahu Akbar (“God is great” in Arabic) before the Nov. 16 Turkey vs. Greece soccer friendly - during a scheduled moment of silence for the Paris terrorist attack victims. The message could be easily read as saying “We side with the terrorists, not the victims.” Those booing were not terrorists. They were the Islamists who the West has tried carefully to avoid “radicalizing.” Too late, too silly.