President Barack Obama Wednesday used a speech at the United Nations to suggest that the Islamic religion is causing the wars in the Arab world, marking what could be a radical departure from his practice of patronizing Muslims with multicultural platitudes.
“It is violence within Muslim communities that has become the source of so much human misery,” he told an audience of elected and autocratic, secular and theocratic leaders, one day after he ordered a new wave of airstrikes against jihadi groups in Syria.
“It is time to acknowledge the destruction wrought by proxy wars and terror campaigns between Sunni and Shia across the Middle East. … There is no other way for this madness to end — whether one year from now or 10,” he said.
Also, “the situation in Iraq, Syria and Libya should cure anyone of the illusion that this Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region; for far too long, it has been used in part as a way to distract people from problems at home,” he said.
Obama urged the U.N. members to “come together to reject the cancer of violent extremism,” which is his euphemism for the ideology shared by al-Qaida, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, Hamas and many other jihad groups.
“The ideology of ISIL or al-Qaida or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted, and refuted in the light of day,” Obama said, before citing a few critics of Islam in London and a new Arab group, the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.
Obama’s speech included direct criticism of Islamic preaching. “It is one of the tasks of all great religions to accommodate devout faith with a modern, multicultural world,” he said. “No children — anywhere — should be educated to hate other people [and] there should be no more tolerance of so-called clerics who call upon people to harm innocents because they’re Jewish, or because they’re Christian, or because they’re Muslim,” he said.
That’s a very different tone from his 2009 speech in Cairo to the Muslim region, and his 2012 address to U.N. leaders.
In 2012, Obama declared that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” That command was issued while Obama’s aides were trying to divert media attention away form his failed Libya policy toward a YouTube video that sharply criticized Mohammad, the final prophet of Islam.
In 2009, Obama insisted that “for over a thousand years, Al-Azhar [Islamic seminary] has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement.”
“Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress,” Obama told his 2009 audience, which includes invited members of the then-outlawed radical Muslim Brotherhood movement.
“America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. … They overlap and share common principles, principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings,” Obama claimed, eight years after many Muslims cheered the killing of 3,000 Americans by jihadis on 9/11.
Since 2009, Obama’s policies have helped spur turmoil, coups and wars in Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and the Central African Republic.
Libya is wrecked by a semi-religious civil war, which sparked a Muslim coup in the Central African Republic. Christians in that country were killed in Muslim pogroms until they overthrew the Muslim government. Egypt elected a radical Muslim Brotherhood government in 2012, which was overthrown by the military in 2013 amid huge public demonstrations. The new Egyptian government has outlawed the brotherhood again.
Obama did offer some flattery for Muslims.
“Here I’d like to speak directly to young people across the Muslim world. You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life, not murder. Those who call you away from this path are betraying this tradition, not defending it,” he said.
“You have demonstrated that when young people have the tools to succeed — good schools; education in math and science; an economy that nurtures creativity and entrepreneurship — then societies will flourish. America will partner with those who promote that vision,” he said.
He did not offer any examples of Islam promoting education, innovation and the dignity of life.
Also, Obama’s new speech at the United Nations was based on the questionable claim that Islamic tradition requires Muslims to treat believers of other religions with respect.
“All religions have been attacked by extremists from within at some point, and all people of faith have a responsibility to lift up the value at the heart of all religion: do unto thy neighbor as you would have done unto you,” Obama insisted.
“Islam teaches peace,” Obama said, despite the numerous exhortations for war in Islamic theology. “We reject any suggestion of a clash of civilizations [and] belief in permanent religious war is the misguided refuge of extremists who cannot build or create anything, and therefore peddle only fanaticism and hate.”
But mainstream Islamic leaders have provided little or no evidence that Islam requires respect of non-believers or urges peace.
For example, Islamic religious leaders at a recent press event in Washington D.C. ignored the Quran’s commandment to kill people guilty of the vague charge of spreading anti-Islamic corruption.
“The penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land,” says the Quran.
In fact, numerous Islamic strictures explicitly say that non-Muslim people have fewer religious and political rights than Muslims.
It is wrong to say “that Islam teaches the dignity of every human person,” said Robert Spencer, a best-selling author of books about Islam. “Actually, it teaches a sharp dichotomy between the Muslims, [who are called] ‘the best of people’ and the unbelievers [are called] ‘the most vile of created beings,'” Spencer told TheDC.
Also, the political legitimacy of many governments in Muslim countries are based on compliance with Islamic principles. In contrast, Western governments rely on secular principles, such as democracy, which are historically based on Christian principle of personal freedom and the separation of church and state.
The reliance of Arab governments on Islamic principles hinders educational and economic development, and constricts democracy and personal freedoms, even in countries with oil fortunes.
It also makes it difficult for their government to prevent pro-jihad sermons or pro-jihad education in schools.
That’s especially true in Pakistan, which was created to be a Muslim state for a Muslim people. It is also true in Saudi Arabia, whose government describes itself as the guardian of Islam’s most holy places, the cities of Mecca and Medina.