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January 29, 2014

"The Real Roots of Islamic Extremism"

Stephen Schwartz argues that it's not Israel and not the West.

The principled jihads of al-Jazairi and Imam Shamyl, who remain legendary heroes to Muslims everywhere, contrast brusquely with the heartless terrorism of Osama bin Laden. But the fact that Muslims facing humiliation and even the threat of genocide do not automatically turn to extremism and terrorism is most dramatically illustrated by the recent history of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the war that savaged that country in the 1990s, thousands of Muslim women and girls were raped, hundreds of thousands of innocent people were murdered, at least half a million became refugees, and 2,000 mosques were destroyed by Serbian forces. Yet the Bosnian Muslims never turned to terrorism, nor even to an extremist form of Islam. Not one Christian church or Jewish synagogue was attacked in the Bosnian Muslim zone. The Bosnian Muslims looked the same and spoke the same language as their Serb foes; had they wished to carry a terror war deep into Serbia, it would have been absurdly easy. The Bosnian Muslims, like Abd’ al-Kader al-Jazairi and Imam Shamyl, strictly distinguished between combatants and noncombatants.

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