February 26, 2003


Islam Says Otherwise (Muqtedar Khan, February 16, 2003, Washington Post)
Mr. bin Laden, in the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Benevolent, [...]

I am writing this to make clear that there are Muslims in America and in the world who despise and condemn extremists and have nothing to do with you, and those like you, for whom killing constitutes worship.

Islam was sent as mercy to humanity and not as an ideology of terror or hatred. It advocates plurality and moral equality of all faiths (Quran 2:62, 5:69). To use Islam to justify declaring Armageddon against all non-Muslims is inherently un-Islamic -- it is a despicable distortion of a faith of peace.

One of Allah's 99 names in the Quran is "Al Salam," which means "peace." Thus, in a way, Muslims are the only people who actually worship peace. Today this claim sounds so empty, thanks to people like you, Mr. bin Laden. You and those like you are dedicated to killing and bringing misery to people wherever they are. God blessed you with the capacity to lead and also endowed you with enormous resources. You could have used your influence in Afghanistan to develop it, to bring it out of poverty and show the world what Islam can do for those who believe in it. You chose to provoke and bring war to a people who had already been devastated by wars.

Yes, many innocent people lost their lives in America's war on Afghanistan and many more might lose their lives in Iraq. This is indeed regrettable. But we must never forget that the West is divided and agonizing over this decision to go to war in Iraq. While many Americans and Europeans oppose the war, Muslim nations have already agreed to cooperate in this war. No Muslim leader has tried to play the role of a statesman on this issue. It is a tragedy that there is not a single Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter or Nelson Mandela in the entire Muslim world who would stand up and speak for justice!

While opposition to al Qaeda from within Islam is obviously a good thing, this raises questions about the quality of that opposition. Producing a Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter or Nelson Mandela will hardly be an improvement. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 26, 2003 12:43 PM

Mandela was one of the great men of the 20th century for acting in a way that was not at all typical of that century: he forgave his oppressors and earned their trust.

It is a pity that he is now one of the great fools of the 21st century.

Posted by: David Cohen at February 26, 2003 2:01 PM

When the Cold War had obviously been won it became clear that the West wasn't going to need the security of knowing S. Africa's whites were in control of its resources or vital geographical location, so de Klerk turned over power. Mandela was there to accept it. Before, during, and after he's behaved like a knave.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2003 3:21 PM

Having been let out of prison, Mandela promised the Boers that they would be treated honorably by a majority government, and then he delivered. I cannot think of any comparable act in the 20th century.

The Boers did not relinquish power, as you imply, with relief at being able to put down this burden, communism having been defeated. Rather, they made a pragmatic decision, once it became clear that the new government would not be communist or of the far left and that the end of the communist threat would leave them even more isolated.

Finally, even if all Mandela did was to be there to accept power, where is, for example, the Palestinian Mandela?

Posted by: David Cohen at February 26, 2003 4:16 PM


I wasn't suggesting they wanted to turn over power, rather that if the Cold War was going strong we wouldn't have let them. It's only because we no longer needed S. Africa that we didn't mind lettiong the ANC run it into the ground, which they've done. Arafat is the Palestinian Mandela, only the Israelis didn't have him in prison for the past thirty years. If they had he'd be considered a saint too.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2003 9:42 PM

What;s more feckless than a French president?

A Muslim moderate. 1,400 straight years of fecklessness. It's a trend.

Posted by: Harry at February 26, 2003 11:49 PM