At the height of the hostage crisis in Algeria, one of the kidnappers explained: “We’ve come in the name of Islam, to teach the Americans what Islam is.” As of Sunday evening, this exercise in religious education had claimed eighty-one lives and left BP’s natural gas plant in Algeria in a state of ruin, booby-trapped with mines and explosives.
Further indication of the hostage-taker’s mindset came from one Algerian who escaped and later recounted: “The terrorists told us at the very start that they would not hurt Muslims but were only interested in the Christians and infidels. We will kill them, they said.” According to the Telegraph, “They allowed locals to go free, saying they did not want to hurt Muslims. Some locals were forced to recite parts of the Koran to prove they were Muslims.”
Clearly the hostage-takers’ religion was important – indeed central – to their motives and goals for undertaking this savage attack; yet mainstream media coverage has followed the usual patterns, downplaying or ignoring outright what the attackers said about what they were hoping to accomplish, since these statements lead to questions about Islam that they would prefer not be asked.
Yet they must be asked: we have now in the last few months seen bloody massacres carried out in the name of Islam in at this natural gas plant and at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi; a brutal Sharia regime come to power in northern Mali; and escalating persecution of Christians in Egypt, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Muslim spokesmen and groups in the U.S. routinely dismiss concerns about such things by asserting that their view of Islam, and that of Muslims in the U.S. and the vast majority of Muslims worldwide, is completely different from that of the Muslims who perpetrate these attacks, and that therefore anyone who wonders if such violence in the name of Islam will ever become commonplace in the U.S. is simply “Islamophobic” and hateful.
Maybe so. Certainly this line has so thoroughly convinced government, law enforcement, and media elites that no discussion or dissent is permitted anymore from these claims, as if they were hallowed religious dogma. Nonetheless, it is ill-advised not to take the trouble to understand one who is determined to destroy you. The hostage-takers in Algeria said they wanted to teach Americans what Islam is. It would be foolish, and ultimately fatal, not to consider exactly what message they wanted us to get about Islam.