By Kavin Hulbert, former cia chief of station.
What universal values? Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other swaths of the Muslim world fundamentally do not believe in the same values as most Americans. They fundamentally don’t believe in freedom of religion, democracy, equal protection under the law, freedom of the press, equal rights, or social justice. They oppress women and despise diversity and liberal thinking; they are against modernity; and they destroy historical artifacts and museums. They fundamentally don’t believe in the things we hold most dear.
Of course this isn’t a war on Islam. Like all the great world religions, to include Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others, Islam is about tolerance and peace—not violence. I’m sure the President does not want to fall into the trap of using the vernacular that ISIS and Al Qaeda want. But, we need to face the music and recognize we have a real problem with radicals who have hijacked the Muslim religion. ISIS now controls and holds vast territory, and they rule over 10 million people. No, they don’t speak for all Muslims, but they do speak for quite a few.
Muslim extremists are using religion to justify everything from killing non-believers, to raping young Yazidi girls, to killing innocents on the streets in Paris. The administration keeps saying that this has nothing to do with Islam or religion, and yet the perpetrators of all of these attacks say it has everything to do with Islam and religion. This doesn’t make them right, but it does make it a fact that we are being repeatedly attacked by people in the name of religion, and in many parts of the Muslim world, things are moving in the wrong direction.
We live in a country that has taken great strides over the last 50 years in everything from civil rights, to women’s rights, to LGBT rights. We believe in the separation of church and state. We believe strongly in freedom of religion. In the Muslim world, I see millions of people going in exactly the opposite direction: less tolerance, less freedom, less liberty, more fundamentalism, less freedom of religion.
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