In 1995, Muslim Brotherhood Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi exhorted his followers to action with a bold promise. “We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America!” he declared. Similarly grandiose declarations had long been a staple of Islamist rhetoric, but al-Qaradawi stressed that victory would be achieved “not through the sword,” but through more covert measures — a kind of stealth jihad. Fourteen years later, Robert Spencer believes that al-Qaradawi has come closer to realizing his vision, both in Europe and the U.S., than many recognize.
This theme is at the heart of Spencer’s latest book, appropriately titled Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs. Spencer’s mission, in his books as on his popular website, Jihad Watch, has always been twofold: to spotlight the activities of Islamic extremists across the globe and to slash through the immense tangle of political correctness that ensnares so much of the Western world’s debate about Islamic radicalism — and especially its disputed debt to Islamic theology. While one may quarrel with some of its conclusions, Stealth Jihad succeeds admirably on both counts.
A stated goal of the book is to expose the efforts of Islamic radicals to impose Islamic Sharia law in the West. Given that they have yet to realize that goal, this may seem like an exercise in overreach. But in fact Spencer uncovers disturbing evidence that unreasonable accommodations are being made to Muslim religious practices and beliefs. It’s bad enough that Minnesota’s Muslim cabdrivers refused service to some 5,400 passengers for the offense of carrying alcohol, or that the Indianapolis airport in 2007 installed footbaths to accommodate Muslim prayer, or that at least nine universities now have Muslim-only prayer rooms. Worse is that such flagrantly preferential treatment for Islam has been justified by everyone from government authorities to academics and journalists as a victory for “religious freedom.”
It’s true of course that none of these examples of stealth jihad quite rise to the level of civilizational conquest. Considered together, however, they raise an uncomfortable question: How far is the United States willing to go to indulge demands for religious exclusivity — especially when, as in the case of the 50,000-100,000 American Muslims now living in polygamous arrangements, they violate national laws? As Spencer pointedly observes, “There is always more Sharia to accommodate.”