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Naming the enemy.

There is today, particularly in Canada, a pernicious linguistic double-standard; it is this. Almost any public comment in defence of Catholicism is presented by the media as a bigoted attempt to ram religion down people's throats; on the other hand, any comment or conduct by Muslims, however barbarous--like cutting the heads off kidnap victims--is portrayed in a more sympathetic light. By politicians and by the press we are called upon to exhibit an understanding of, and tolerance towards, Muslims, that is no longer extended to Christians, and particularly not to Roman Catholics.

So when American interrogation practices at Abu Graib were--quite properly--the focus of journalistic scrutiny and condemnation, there was no hesitation in using the word "torture". Veteran New York Times investigative journalist Seymour Hersch did not flinch from accusing America of "war crimes" in his recent book, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Graib. Fair enough, perhaps; but if American interrogations are "war crimes", what language is commensurate to Islamist atrocities? Do we see similar journalistic candor in naming the hooded terrorists who killed more than 300 men, women, but mostly school children, at Middle School Number 1 in Beslan in September, 2004?

Even the children who survived will bear the scar of their ordeal for life. Yet, while the world's press has nearly universally condemned the brutality of the perpetrators, there is a marked reluctance to identify who they are. The press shrinks from identifying them as Muslims. Instead these cold-blooded killers are cloaked by euphemisms like Chechen "nationalists" or, worse, "freedom fighters". Ironically, it now appears probable that these Islamists were more closely linked to Al Quaeda than to Chechnya.

By contrast, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is not a man to mince words. Rumsfeld pointed out that the Beslan tragedy is part of a pattern of Muslim terror going back to the 1983 attack on U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon, taking in the embassy bombings and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in the eighties, the attempt on the World Trade Center in the nineties, etc. Then came 9/11, which demonstrated that the burning hatred of Islamism could penetrate even to North America. But the motivation for all these attacks remains constant: a hatred for the West and all that the West represents.

While the media generally play down the Muslim origins of terror, a few brave Muslims have stepped forward to acknowledge it; perhaps the most notable is Abdel Rahman al-Rashin, an Arab journalist, who had the courage to write these words in an Arabic newspaper:

"It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.

The hostage takers in Beslan, North Ossetia, were Muslims. The other hostage-takers and subsequent murderers of the Nepalese chefs and workers in Iraq were also Muslims. Those involved in rape and murder in Darfur, Sudan, are Muslims, with other Muslims chosen to be their victims.

Those responsible for the attacks on residential towers in Riyadh and Khobar were Muslims. The two women who crashed two airliners last week were also Muslims.

Bin Laden is a Muslim. The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all over the world, were Muslim."

What the personal consequences for Mr. Al-Rashid's courage will be, one shudders to contemplate. Even in London, Ontario, a Muslim professor and freelance journalist, who spoke out more obliquely but in somewhat the same vein, received death threats and has had to discontinue attending the local mosque.

Surely it is clear already that Muslim terrorism will not be vanquished until the world, not just the U.S. or Russia, are willing to war against it. So far most of the world (and Canada is but one pitiful example,) and the world's press, is afraid even to name the enemy.

Ian Hunter is a Professor Emerirus in the Faculty of Law at Western University
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Title Annotation:Columnist - Muslims are the perpetrators of the majority of terrorist acts
Author:Hunter, Ian
Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:663
Previous Article:Corrections.
Next Article:This too too sullied flesh.
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