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Andy Stone: One way or the other ? Holy War

What do we face in the year ahead?

I shudder to think.

For today, I’m looking beyond this sheltered, blessed valley to the world at large ? and things look grim indeed.

As we sat with friends and ate New Year’s Eve dinner last night, people wondered aloud whether anything terrible had happened at midnight in Times Square in New York City. They feared another terror attack on Manhattan.

I’ve always been a news junkie ? it’s my profession. But since September 11, 2001, I find myself seeking out news reports at every chance throughout the day with a new intensity. Now I know that the news might be some new horror beyond imagining.

It hasn’t happened yet, but I know that it very well could ? and I don’t know, I can’t imagine, how and when that might ever change.

Like so many others, I wonder if we are indeed at the beginning of a Holy War, a war declared by the Muslims against the Christians and Jews ? and Hindus and Buddhists and everyone else.

Certainly, some have declared exactly such a war ? by word and by terrible deed.

There are those who say we can find explanations, “context,” for every act of terrorism. I’m not talking here about people who say terrorism is justified or that the explanation is as simple as “America is evil.”

I’m talking about people who agree without reservation that terrorism is a despicable crime against humanity, unjustifiable in every circumstance ? but that, nonetheless, we must look at every instance to see why it happened.

The problem with this is that the explanations, again, the “context,” can always be found.

In Israel, the Palestinians are a powerless and beleaguered people. The Israelis have made some terrible mistakes. And so …

In Russia, the Chechens have been treated brutally, their homeland savaged. And so …

In Kashmir, the occupying Indian troops have no justification for their refusal to acknowledge the will of the people. And so …

We could go down the list from there, but as we search for context we soon find ourselves on thinner and thinner ice, with the flames of terrorist hell burning hot below.

For Osama bin Laden, please remember, the original “context” for declaring Holy War against all Americans everywhere was the fact that U.S. troops had been stationed on sacred Muslin land in Saudi Arabia ? never mind that the troops had been sent there to liberate a Muslim nation, Kuwait, from an invasion by a secular Arab dictator.

In Nigeria, the “context” for murdering Christians and burning churches was the fact that a beauty pageant was being held in their nation and a newspaper article had suggested that the Prophet Muhammad might have found the contestants attractive.

In Yemen this past week, the “context” for murdering Christian missionaries was, well, simply the fact that Christianity is offensive to Muslims.

And in Bali, the “context” for blowing up a nightclub was … well, I don’t really know.

The point is this: The real context is not the limited one. We cannot look at events case by case, injustice by perceived injustice.

There is a much larger context, a worldwide context.

Around the globe, across continents, in case after case, Islamic terrorists have declared war ? Holy War ? on people whose only crime is that they are not Muslim.

Office workers in New York. Theatergoers in Moscow. Children at an ice cream parlor in Israel. Young men and women at a nightclub in Bali. Missionaries at a hospital in Yemen. All have been murdered savagely.

That is the true context.

If this is not a worldwide Holy War, then what exactly is it?

I cannot find any other answer.

Unfortunately, calling it a Holy War is not a helpful answer. It does not lead us to any vision of a solution.

We ? we Jews and Christians and Hindus and the rest of the non-Muslim world ? cannot accept this as a true Holy War in the medieval sense that the terrorists insist on.

We could win such a war. We could destroy Islam. But it would require the death of several billion people and the destruction of much of the world.

(It has taken me several minutes to bring myself to type this next sentence, but I will type it now.)

It may come to that.

And yet, there is a path, very clear, to avoid such a horror as global Holy War.

Those Muslims who tell us they are the vast majority, who tell us the terrorists are not true Muslims, who tell us theirs is a great faith, must stand up and reclaim their religion.

The vast majority of Muslims ? and I will, for now, still accept that such a vast majority does exist ? must reject the terrorists. Not quietly, but loudly. Not peacefully, but, if necessary, violently.

If the terrorists are not true Muslims, then the true Muslims must declare their own Holy War ? against those who have stolen their religion.

There must be a Holy War of Muslim against Muslim for the soul of their religion or there will someday be a far greater Holy War, a war too terrible to contemplate.

Holy War ? one way or the other.

[Andy Stone is editorial director at Colorado Mountain News Media.]


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