Michael Totten

More From the Less-Scary Muslims File

_By Lee Smith_
After the Hamas-loving “Bensonhurst imam”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/05/nyregion/05imam.html?_r=1&oref=slogin, “Tariq Ramadan”:http://docs.google.com/View?docid=ah6sxjndq9qq_315dwk7qn, and “feel-good sharia”:http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=120aa5bf-04ef-42ab-9f00-ac08fc828da8, yet more from the New York Times on “Moderate Islam”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/world/asia/04islam.html?_r=2&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin.
A story about Pakistani schools opened by Fetullah Gulen, a controversial Turkish theologian and political activist with close ties to Ankara’s ruling AK Party. “He has lived in exile in the United States since 2000,” writes the Times, “after getting in trouble with secular Turkish officials.” That’s certainly a fine way to put it. According to Michael Rubin’s recent “article”:http://www.meforum.org/article/1882 on Gulen, the Turkish judiciary charged him in 1998 with trying to “undermine the secular system” while “camouflag[ing] his methods with a democratic and moderate image.”
While it is possible the paper merely failed to report Gulen’s conviction, it would be in keeping with the thrust of the Times’ campaign on behalf of Moderate Islam to airbrush this rather inconvenient fact. A Turkish Sufi, even if he tried to undermine the secular nature of a US ally, is less scary than the adolescent Pakistani mobs he is trying to educate; Tariq Ramadan, even if he is of two minds about stoning women to death for adultery, is less scary than bin Laden; Brooklyn’s Reda Shata may have mourned the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, but he is less scary than Omar Abdul Rahman, the Brooklyn sheikh jailed for his role in the 1993 WTC attack. Unfortunately, it seems to be beyond the scope of the Times to recognize that this is how politics is typically waged in the Muslim Middle East, with the “moderates” serving as both arsonists and firemen, using the violence of the “extremists” against the established order and promising to rein them in.
Finally, one can only sympathize with American Muslims, those who may or may not be religious, but surely have no attachment to the obscurantist fanatics that drove them from the region, and must now be wondering what is wrong with the New York Times that the only Muslims that register with the paper of record are very scary ones, and less scary ones.