I have said it many times before: I have met quite a few Muslims, both American citizens and legal immigrants, and most of them have been fine, upstanding, peaceful people. One, a Somali immigrant and former coworker of mine, is one of the most kind, generous, and pleasant people I have ever met. Without fail, Muslims I have known personally condemn terrorism and violence in the name of their religion (despite the Qur’an’s acceptance of it).
Having said all that, I cannot accept Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. The Qur’an, indeed, encourages violence against ‘infidels’ who do not adhere to the Islamic faith. Terrorism has not been clearly, publicly rebuked by the worldwide Islamic community. It is Palestinian Muslims who continually break every truce they establish with neighboring Israel; it is middle-eastern Muslims who committed the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks and continue to incite violence in Iraq and elsewhere; and, finally, it is the Muslim states of Iran and Syria that are among the most dangerous, belligerent regimes in the world.
Apologists—and, yes, I was once one of them—will say that these acts are primarily caused by middle-eastern culture, repressive governments, and poor eductation rather than Islam itself. I have no doubt that these things play into what is happening, but you can’t write off the fact that such violence has rarely occured (though, admittedly, it has) in Christian or Jewish history and, when it did happen, leaders and governments led by those movements usually punished the perpetrators and repudiated the acts.
And, more tellingly, American Muslims can be found engaging in the same activities under the auspices of mosques and charities. Today, we find that the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation—a U.S. Muslim ‘charity’ group—have been convicted on 108 (!) charges of funneling money to terrorism. They sent over 12 million dollars to Hamas, the Palestinian group that blames Jews for essentially all wars and calamities in history, denies the holocaust, denies the legitimacy of Israel, engages in guerrilla warfare and terrorism against civilians in Israel, and more. ‘Religion of peace’ indeed.