The Contest of Ideas With Radical Islam

Eighteen months ago the Hudson Institute issued a report under a broad category of reports identified as “Perspectives for the New Administration.” The report was targeted specifically at the new incoming administration of President Obama and it set out to suggest specific initiatives the new administration should undertake to end religious persecution worldwide. As the overview of the paper states:

All jihadist orthodoxies hold the core animating belief of absolute intolerance for the religious “other,” that is other religions and faith groups, as well as other Muslims, whether members of other Muslim groups or individual Muslims who dissent from intolerant orthodoxies. The contest of ideas requires a U.S. soft power response that advances religious freedom and tolerance in the Muslim world. The new administration should prioritize this effort in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iraq because of their foreign policy significance. It should press Saudi Arabia to end its sponsorship and spread of religious hatred; undertake real textbook and education reform; end persecution of and discrimination against Shiites and individual Muslims accused of apostasy and blasphemy by its clerical establishment; and allow non-Muslim places of worship inside the Kingdom. In Iraq it should urgently adopt a comprehensive policy to specifically help endangered communities of Christians, Yizidis, and Mandeans. It should use its considerable leverage with Egypt to end official discrimination and repression against Copts, Quranists, Shiites and those accused of apostasy and blasphemy. It should oppose the trend to universalize blasphemy laws, including through bans on religious defamation now being considered at the UN; and recognize the diversity within Islam in its own Muslim outreach programs here in America.

After laying out specific initiatives the administration can use to end religious intolerance, the report states: “In sum, working to expand religious freedom and tolerance and to protect religious and ideological pluralism in the Muslim world is key in the contest of ideas. It will often be a difficult and delicate task, but it must no longer be deferred. American tools of soft power should be employed for this purpose.”

I would add that religious freedom and tolerance here in the United States should also be addressed as well. Yet after 18 months, it appears these initiatives have fallen on deaf ears. President Obama appears to be going out of his way to cozy up to and appease the very subjects of this report, who are responsible for influencing the majority of religious persecution worldwide.

President Obama visited King Saud and bowed in an exaggerated manner unworthy of the way one head of state would greet another — in a way some would call subservient. He delivered his long anticipated speech to the Muslim world from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the very nation where Egyptians of any faith other than Islam face daily persecution. Yet in his address he said next to nothing about religious persecution, even as he had the perfect venue to demonstrate it.

No, I’m afraid this administration gives little care or attention to religious persecution worldwide, the great majority of it against non-Muslims.

One has to wonder why.

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