Looking for Allies
By Elan Journo (Commentary magazine, May 2008)
Joshua Muravchik and Charles P. Szrom would have us court "moderate" Islamists. But is their notion of moderate coherent? Consider the two sub-groups offered as our most promising "assets" within the larger category of moderate Muslims--secular liberals and moderate Islamists.
The secular liberals, we are told, stand for a "belief in the separation of mosque and state analogous to the practice in most of the West." This presumably means some form of society in which government upholds individual rights to liberty. The moderate Islamists, by contrast, are Muslims who "hope and pray for the eventual recognition by all mankind of the truth of Muhammad's message" but who wish (so they say) to achieve this by non-violent means.
What, however, can the latter ideal mean politically, if not a society shaped by the tenets of Islam and a government informed by Islamic law? Whatever the authors' two groups of "moderates" have in common, they seek entirely different political ends, and are fundamentally dissimilar. To include the second group among the moderates is to blur a crucial distinction between advocates of a basically free society and those sharing the jihadist aim of wielding power in the name of Islam.