Top Muslim Leader Says West Must Stop Pretending Orthodox Islam Isn’t Tied to Violence

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Indonesia, one of the world’s largest Muslim countries, has a Constitution that recognizes other religions besides Islam and it has long been a voice for moderate Islam.

They have not been without their fringe elements and violent Islamic terrorists in this country of 260 million people. They’ve suffered through some horrendous attacks.

One of Indonesia’s most influential Islamic leaders is Yahya Cholil Staquf, 51, who preaches a modern, moderate Islam. He is general secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama, which, with about 50 million members, is the country’s biggest Muslim organization.

Yahya was interviewed on Aug. 19 in German in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Time.com provided excerpts.

He was asked about the prevalent view among prominent Western intellectuals and politicians that Islam and violence are not connected.

The Muslim leader said: “Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam.”

“Radical Islamic movements are nothing new. They’ve appeared again and again throughout our own history in Indonesia. The West must stop ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to ‘Islamophobia.’ Or do people want to accuse me — an Islamic scholar — of being an Islamophobe too?”

Actually, the loons would call him an Islamophobe.

He said that segregation between Muslims and non-Muslims might have been appropriate in the Middle Ages but it’s now unreasonable.

He is not denying there is any racism, but, “traditional Islam — which fosters an attitude of segregation and enmity toward non-Muslims — is an important factor.”

A Caliphate is an acceptable goal but in today’s society, it only causes chaos and violence. He also said state laws must have precedence. The majority of Muslims in Indonesia view the teachings in context of modern society and the teachings as that of the Middle Ages.

Yahya said, “The West cannot force Muslims to adopt a moderate interpretation of Islam. But Western politicians should stop telling us that fundamentalism and violence have nothing to do with traditional Islam. That is simply wrong.”

He blames Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states spending massive sums over the past 50 years to sell the ultra-conservative version of Islam worldwide. The West has been letting it go unchallenged and that isn’t realistic.

He added that the West should stop taking in throngs of refugees they know nothing about.

“The last time I was in Brussels I witnessed some Arab, perhaps North African, youth insult and harass a group of policemen. My Belgian friends remarked that such behavior has become an almost everyday occurrence in their country. Why do you allow such behavior? What kind if impression does that make? Europe, and Germany in particular, are accepting massive numbers of refugees. Don’t misunderstand me: of course you cannot close your eyes to those in need. But the fact remains that you’re taking in millions of refugees about whom you know virtually nothing, except that they come from extremely problematic regions of the world.”

“A problem that is not acknowledged cannot be solved,” he said wisely.

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