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February 10, 2016 2

The Marrakesh Declaration

By Rabbi David Fox Sand­mel
ADL Direc­tor of Inter­faith Affairs

As a pro­fes­sional in the Jew­ish com­mu­nity who works on inter­faith rela­tions, I am often asked “why aren’t Mus­lims speak­ing out against ter­ror­ism and ISIS?” The answer is that, in fact, many Mus­lims have done so. Equally impor­tant is for reli­gious lead­ers to speak out and address the root causes of extrem­ism in their com­mu­nity, and find ways of dis­cour­ag­ing ter­ror­ist activ­ity, par­tic­u­larly among youth who are con­sid­ered among the most sus­cep­ti­ble pop­u­la­tions. In this regard, one of the most hope­ful ini­tia­tives, some­thing that has not got­ten much atten­tion in the main­stream media, is the “Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion,” released at the end of last month.

The “Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion” is the prod­uct of a gath­er­ing of Mus­lim lead­ers from more than 100 coun­tries around the world spon­sored by the Moroc­can gov­ern­ment and the Forum for Pro­mot­ing Peace in Mus­lim Soci­eties.  At the meet­ing, Mus­lim lead­ers heard sev­eral tes­ti­monies about the grave sit­u­a­tion of var­i­ous reli­gious minori­ties in Muslim-majority countries.

Marrakesh Declaration

At the end of the meet­ing, the Mus­lim schol­ars who gath­ered in Mar­rakesh released the “Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion,” a brief state­ment that in which they:

  • Call upon Mus­lim schol­ars and intel­lec­tu­als around the world to develop a jurispru­dence of the con­cept of “cit­i­zen­ship” which is inclu­sive of diverse groups. Such jurispru­dence shall be rooted in Islamic tra­di­tion and prin­ci­ples and mind­ful of global changes.
  • Urge Mus­lim edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions and author­i­ties to con­duct a coura­geous review of edu­ca­tional cur­ric­ula that addresses hon­estly and effec­tively any mate­r­ial that insti­gates aggres­sion and extrem­ism, leads to war and chaos, and results in the destruc­tion of our shared societies;
  • Call upon politi­cians and deci­sion mak­ers to take the polit­i­cal and legal steps nec­es­sary to estab­lish a con­sti­tu­tional con­trac­tual rela­tion­ship among its cit­i­zens, and to sup­port all for­mu­la­tions and ini­tia­tives that aim to for­tify rela­tions and under­stand­ing among the var­i­ous reli­gious groups in the Mus­lim World;
  • Call upon the edu­cated, artis­tic, and cre­ative mem­bers of our soci­eties, as well as orga­ni­za­tions of civil soci­ety, to estab­lish a broad move­ment for the just treat­ment of reli­gious minori­ties in Mus­lim coun­tries and to raise aware­ness as to their rights, and to work together to ensure the suc­cess of these efforts.
  • Call upon the var­i­ous reli­gious groups bound by the same national fab­ric to address their mutual state of selec­tive amne­sia that blocks mem­o­ries of cen­turies of joint and shared liv­ing on the same land; we call upon them to rebuild the past by reviv­ing this tra­di­tion of con­vivi­al­ity, and restor­ing our shared trust that has been eroded by extrem­ists using acts of ter­ror and aggression;
  • Call upon rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the var­i­ous reli­gions, sects and denom­i­na­tions to con­front all forms of reli­gious big­otry, vil­i­fi­ca­tion, and den­i­gra­tion of what peo­ple hold sacred, as well as all speech that pro­mote hatred and big­otry; AND FINALLY,
  • AFFIRM that it is uncon­scionable to employ reli­gion for the pur­pose of aggress­ing upon the rights of reli­gious minori­ties in Mus­lim countries.

Lest any­one think that this is a depar­ture from “tra­di­tional” Islamic teach­ing, the Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion explic­itly traces its ances­try to the Char­ter (or Con­sti­tu­tion) of Med­ina.  Accord­ing to Mus­lim tra­di­tion, this Char­ter was writ­ten by the prophet Muham­mad in 622 C.E. in an effort to end polit­i­cal strife in the city; it guar­an­tees auton­omy and free­dom of reli­gion to the res­i­dence of Med­ina, includ­ing, explic­itly, its Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion.  While the Char­ter is not a mod­ern doc­u­ment and reflects the his­tor­i­cal set­ting in which it was cre­ated, the prin­ci­ple of reli­gious free­dom is found in the Quran itself and other clas­sic Islamic sources.

The threat of Mus­lim extrem­ism is real, dan­ger­ous, and must be taken seri­ously; even though it rep­re­sents a small minor­ity of Mus­lims, we have wit­nessed its tragic con­se­quences.  The vast major­ity of Mus­lims (and let us not for­get that it is Mus­lims them­selves who are most often the tar­get of these extrem­ists) reject the ter­ror­ists and their ide­ol­ogy.  The Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion is an impor­tant, but cer­tainly not the only, exam­ple of Mus­lims speak­ing unequiv­o­cally, from their own tra­di­tion, against extrem­ism, ter­ror, and the infringe­ment of reli­gious free­dom.  It is a pity that this and other efforts have not gar­nered the atten­tion they deserve.

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December 3, 2015 0

Bonnie and Clydes Rare—But Not Unheard Of—In Violent Extremism

Syed Farook

Syed Farook

Back­ground infor­ma­tion on Syed Farook and Tash­feen Malik, the mar­ried per­pe­tra­tors of the tragic mass shoot­ing at the Inland Regional Cen­ter in San Bernardino, Cal­i­for­nia, is still sparse, as is clar­ity con­cern­ing the motive behind the vicious attack that left 14 dead and 21 wounded.

How­ever, accord­ing to media reports from the in-progress inves­ti­ga­tion, there is grow­ing con­cern among law enforce­ment offi­cials that the shoot­ings may have had a con­nec­tion to Islamic extrem­ism or that there might have been a mixed extremist/workplace motive behind them.  The FBI has said that it is now treat­ing its inves­ti­ga­tion of the killings as a counter-terrorism investigation.

One thing that is exceed­ingly rare in tra­di­tional work­place shoot­ings is for there to be mul­ti­ple per­pe­tra­tors, as there was in this case.  As one law enforce­ment offi­cial told The New York Times, “You don’t take your wife to a work­place shoot­ing, and espe­cially not as pre­pared as they were.  He could have been rad­i­cal­ized, ready to go with some type of attack, and then had a dis­pute at work and decided to do something.”

Mul­ti­ple per­pe­tra­tors are cer­tainly com­mon in extremist-related crimes, of course, despite the exis­tence of the “lone wolf” phe­nom­e­non.  Women are also fre­quently involved in extremist-related crim­i­nal activ­ity in almost every extrem­ist move­ment in the United States.

How­ever, when one exam­ines recent crim­i­nal cases in the U.S. involv­ing domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists, one finds that female part­ners of male perpetrators—even when them­selves involved in crim­i­nal activities—have not typ­i­cally engaged in vio­lence.  Over­seas, women have some­times taken on more vio­lent roles, includ­ing as sui­cide bombers.

If an Islamic extrem­ist motive is con­firmed in the San Bernardino shoot­ings, the fact of husband-and-wife shoot­ers would be a new wrin­kle in the his­tory of the vio­lent tac­tics of that move­ment in the United States.

Extremist-related vio­lence involv­ing hus­bands and wives—or non-married partners—is actu­ally not unheard of in the United States, but it tends to come from a very dif­fer­ent source:  right-wing extrem­ism.  Though not what one could call a com­mon phe­nom­e­non, such vio­lent “Bon­nie and Clyde” cou­ples do emerge with reg­u­lar­ity from within both the white suprema­cist and anti-government extrem­ist move­ments in the United States.

In fact, right-wing extrem­ism even pro­duced an exam­ple of the exceed­ingly rare phe­nom­e­non of a mar­ried cou­ple both of whom were on death row:  anti-government extrem­ists Linda Lyon Block and George Sib­ley.  In 1993, the two sov­er­eign cit­i­zens non-fatally stabbed Block’s ex-husband, then while on the run mur­dered an Alabama police offi­cer in a shootout.  Both were exe­cuted in the 2000s.

In more recent years, extrem­ist cou­ples have been involved with every­thing from stand­offs with police to hate crimes to ter­ror­ist con­spir­a­cies.  But some of the most shock­ing “Bon­nie and Clyde” inci­dents have involved mul­ti­ple homi­cides com­mit­ted by white suprema­cists and anti-government extremists:

  • Jerad and Amanda Miller, a young mar­ried cou­ple who adhered to the anti-government ide­ol­ogy of the mili­tia move­ment, tar­geted two Las Vegas police offi­cers for assas­si­na­tion in June 2014, killing them at a pizza restau­rant as they ate their Sun­day lunch.  The cou­ple crossed the street to a Wal-mart in antic­i­pa­tion of a final shootout with first respon­ders, where Amanda killed an armed civil­ian try­ing to stop them.  As they had intended, they did both die dur­ing a shootout with law enforce­ment at the store, with a wounded Amanda killing her­self after Jerad was shot.
  • Jeremy and Chris­tine Moody, white suprema­cists from Union County, South Car­olina, killed a nearby mar­ried cou­ple in July 2013 in a par­tic­u­larly grisly dou­ble homi­cide in which both vic­tims were shot and stabbed.  The Moodys had tar­geted the vic­tim because they wanted to kill a reg­is­tered sex offender and found the male victim’s name and address on the Inter­net.  They killed his wife because she had mar­ried a sex offender.  Both pleaded guilty to mur­der in 2014, receiv­ing life sen­tences with no parole, but were unre­pen­tant, with Chris­tine Moody call­ing the day of the mur­ders “the best day of my life.”
  • Holly Grigsby and David Ped­er­sen, a white suprema­cist cou­ple from Ore­gon, embarked upon a multi-state mur­der spree in 2011 that totaled four killed before police could find and stop them.  The pair trav­eled to Wash­ing­ton to mur­der Pederson’s father and step­mother, each killing one vic­tim, then killed a young man in Ore­gon to steal his car and because they thought he might be Jew­ish.  They killed an African-American man in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia in another car­jack­ing attempt, though they did not end up tak­ing the vehi­cle, then were finally appre­hended by the Cal­i­for­nia High­way Patrol.  Grigsby told the arrest­ing offi­cers that they were to Sacra­mento to “kill more Jews” when they were stopped.  Both pleaded guilty to a vari­ety of crimes and received life sentences.

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January 20, 2015 0

Calling Radical Islam What It Is

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

If we want to win the war against rad­i­cal Islam — and in my view it should be the num­ber one pri­or­ity of the West­ern and Mus­lim worlds — we need to call it what it is. Too often, out of a mis­placed sense of polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, polit­i­cal lead­ers, includ­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and French Pres­i­dent Fran­coise Hol­lande, avoid iden­ti­fy­ing the extrem­ists as pro­po­nents of a rad­i­cal Islamic ideology.

The solu­tion to the threat lies pri­mar­ily within the Mus­lim world itself. Main­stream Mus­lims must on every level, start­ing with edu­ca­tion, dis­cour­age young peo­ple from tak­ing the extrem­ist path. But if we in the West are reluc­tant to explic­itly say what it is, why should Mus­lim mod­er­ates speak and act?

I address this as some­one who rep­re­sents an orga­ni­za­tion that stands up against defam­ing of Mus­lims in gen­eral or Islam as a reli­gion. When indi­vid­u­als try to show their bona fides in sup­port of Israel by claim­ing that Islam as a reli­gion is ter­ror­ist or that most Mus­lims are, we stand up to say no.

In Europe, the hes­i­tancy to say the words “rad­i­cal Islam” may largely be the prod­uct of intim­i­da­tion or the fear of vio­lent retal­i­a­tion. That is why the com­ments by French Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls before the French Par­lia­ment and in an inter­view with Jef­frey Gold­berg of the Atlantic are so important.

He pulled no punches and told it like it is. The enemy is rad­i­cal Islam. French soci­ety must stand up against the out­rage com­mit­ted by jihadists against France and against the Jews of France. The jihadist ide­ol­ogy surely does not rep­re­sent most Mus­lims and it is a hijack­ing of Islam, but the incite­ment to vio­lence and the acts of ter­ror are done in the name of Islam and influ­enced by teach­ers of fun­da­men­tal­ist Islam in schools and other insti­tu­tions through­out the Mus­lim world.

As Michael Walzer has writ­ten, it is not prej­u­dice but ratio­nal to fear Islamism, as opposed to Islam. When ele­ments within a reli­gious com­mu­nity pro­mote anti-democratic atti­tudes and anti-Semitism, and turn to ter­ror, anti-democratic atti­tudes, and anti-Semitism, it is not racist to oppose it forcefully.

There is noth­ing sim­ple about try­ing to fig­ure out how to defeat the rise of this rad­i­cal­ism within the Mus­lim world.  Social, eco­nomic and polit­i­cal forces within Mus­lim coun­tries and in rela­tions between the west and the Mus­lim world all con­tribute to it.

But what we know from past strug­gles against total­i­tar­ian move­ments, whether Nazism or Com­mu­nism, is that they require clear and prin­ci­pled think­ing to directly engage the danger.

That starts with say­ing that Islam and Mus­lims are not the enemy, they are part of the solu­tion.  We need to empha­size and acknowl­edge that there is prej­u­dice against Mus­lims because of recent events and to emphat­i­cally oppose it.

But we also must not hes­i­tate to point out that those who suf­fer the most from rad­i­cal Islam are Mus­lims them­selves. Just think of the recent news in Pak­istan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Nige­ria: Mus­lims being mur­dered, mosques being attacked by extrem­ist Muslims.

The basic mes­sage from polit­i­cal, reli­gious and civic lead­ers must be that all good peo­ple are in this strug­gle together. The Islamic extrem­ists are a threat to Mus­lims, a threat to Jews, a threat to civilization.

Just like the strug­gle against Nazism and Com­mu­nism were defeated by a col­lec­tive effort and by a set of clear ideas, this 21st cen­tury strug­gle can be won as well.

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