It is a paradox that we have to accept that Islam is a religion of violence, bigotry and intolerance but that the vast, overwhelming majority of Moslems are peaceful. Thank you, Greg. And why is it that the combined intellects of the Conservative Party, the SNP and the BBC are unable to understand a matter so simple that the Speccie can explain it in a handful of words?
It has been the Speccie's Douglas Murray who has fearlessly done most to disabuse the nation of the nonsense of Islam as a 'religion of peace'. And it's the Speccie this morning that states clearly
To say that Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam is like saying Stalin’s Soviet Union had nothing to do with socialism, or the Inquisition had nothing to do with Catholicism. Islamic State has nothing to do with most varieties of Islam, just as Stalinism had nothing to do with most varieties of socialism, but Islamic State has everything to do with Salafist Sunni Islam, which has spread its ultra-puritan, ultra-reactionary literalist interpretation of the myths of early Islam across the world.So let's stop pretending that Islam is something it isn't. We're really grown-up enough to be able to handle this paradox; for Christians, it's 'hate Islam, love Moslems', and atheists and agnostics can condemn us both.
As the historian of the ancient world Tom Holland put it, when Islamic State fighters smash the statues of ‘pagan’ gods, they are following the example of the Prophet, who cleared the pagans from Mecca. When they proclaim themselves the shock troops of a would-be global empire, they are merely following the imperial pretensions of the early Islamic armies. When they execute prisoners of war, impose discriminatory taxes on Christians, and take the women of defeated opponents as slaves, they are doing nothing that the first Muslims did not do. As Holland neatly put it,
Such behaviour is certainly not synonymous with Islam; but if not Islamic, then it is hard to know what else it is.