Friday, February 18, 2005



Clifford D. May has noted this sad fact:

It is a common misperception that most terrorism is directed against Jews and Christians. The fact is no group has suffered more than Muslims from radical Islamist violence. Especially at risk are those bold enough to speak out for such values as freedom, human rights and democracy.

In Beirut this week, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was killed by a powerful car bomb – apparently in reprisal for his opposition to Syria's continuing occupation of Lebanon.

In Iraq, scarcely a day goes by when innocent men, women and children are not murdered for such “crimes” as following the Shi'a tradition of Islam, joining the police force, exercising their right to vote or simply going to the marketplace when supporters of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden are in the mood to create carnage for the evening news.

Tunis, Casablanca and Istanbul are among the Muslim-majority cities that have been attacked. Terrorist groups have turned Palestinian communities into ghettoes where every mother must worry that one day a “militant leader” will fit her child for a suicide bomb vest.

But it is in Algeria, with relatively little international attention, that the slaughter has been most extensive: Over the years, more than 100,000 Algerians have been murdered by Islamist terrorists.

Too often the choices given to those in Moslem areas has been a choice between a religious dictatorship, or a ruthless authoritarianism. This has been in the interest of both sides, not giving a third option where justice and hope of freedom might strip away the hotbed of unrest and dissatisfaction that continues to breed hate and pain and grief.

This now may be changing. The old dichotomy from rule by Sharia only or rule by authoritarian strongman (or traditional authoritarian) may be being put to the challenge by the voting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Will the president's desire to export freedom be enough to fan the flame of an alternative future? All the purple fingers showed people's hopes. May God the merciful, the everloving give the region and its longsuffering people a chance to see.

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