Everyone is a moderate these days.
In its 28 January edition, The Economist used the phrase moderate Muslim in three articles. In Malaysia, it said there was moderate Muslim culture. For its part, Indonesia was reported to have a moderate Muslim leaders. As for Morocco, it has a moderate Muslim political party.
The moderate-hardliner spectrum is one of the most superficial of all media clichés.
Hamas’s new Gazan leader is called a hardliner, while Iran’s president, enforcing the most extreme discrimination against women, is called a moderate. So too Saudi Arabia’s former king, who did not allow women to drive, was hailed a reformer when he died.
For almost two decades, since 9/11, the mainstream media in every Western country, and to some extent the rest of the world, has adopted Orwellian language to whitewash and mislead the public about the nature of Islamist regimes, political Islamism, as well as its creeping bigotry, hatred, and fundamentalist, right-wing extremism.
It is time to push-back against this agenda. Otherwise our world will slowly become dominated by the most hateful and intolerant views, passed off as normal and even liberal. Otherwise the quiet alliance between Islamist right-wing extremists and parts of the Western Left will leave a wound on human societies impossible to heal.
We saw that wound in Iraq when Islamic State (ISIS) insurgents overran parts of the country. They not only committed genocide, ethnic cleansing, systematic rape and the enslavement of people, they bragged about it.
But Western media described their acts as militant, and an insurgency.
And when Western citizens joined the bloodfest? In fact, five thousand ISIS members booked tickets from European airports to go to Iraq to commit genocide. Hundreds of these have returned home without ever being held to account.
Even today you will not encounter terms like ethnic cleansing or genocide in mainstream media coverage of ISIS, let alone descriptions of what they are: a coalition of religious, right-wing death squads.
Just this week the West's unwillingness to question the nature of Islamist conservative hate-mongering and chauvinism was on display when Sweden’s trade minister made a pilgrimage to Tehran, begging for approval from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The Swedish minister dressed her female delegation in long coats and head-scarves so as not to offend the extreme right-wing, theocratic hate-mongering Iranian regime. Facing criticism in the media for the veiling, she told the newspaper Aftonbladet that “she was not willing to break Iranian law.”
What would be a red line in “Iranian law,” for Sweden, which boasts a “feminist government,” to finally say no? If the delegation had to take part in the hanging of a Baloch dissident, would that be too much? Or perhaps if they had to remove any avowed homosexuals from the delegation lest they “pollute” Iran?
While Kurdish women train with AK-47s to resist the Iranian regime, Sweden’s politicians heap adoration on it. It wasn’t enough to don a head-covering, the delegation draped themselves in heavy coats so as not to offend the religious fanatics with their “immodest” bodies.
When the Iranian president brought a delegation to meet the Swedes in Tehran he brought only men. In response, feministe Sweden did not blink an eye. No women? No problem.
COUNTRIES THAT respect human rights and equality should not send delegations to Iran in the first place.
It’s one thing to cover one’s hair or remove shoes when entering a house of worship or to observe the local custom, but when a country has vicious discriminatory laws forcing women to dress a certain way, it is time for governments to say “no.” No meetings, no respect, no stamp of approval to fascist treatment for women.
If Iran can force foreign diplomatic delegations of women to wear large coats and cover up their hair, what if a government forced female diplomats to go topless? Would that be a red line?
You may think it’s ridiculous – but why is it any more ridiculous to force women to disrobe then to force them to robe?
If Iran can force women in a delegation not to present their hands to a male leader, lest he be “contaminated,” then why can’t Western countries force the Iranians to shake the hands of women and observe Western customs? It might offend them?
You might counter that it is logical to show deference and respect for another culture if that culture and religion shows deference and respect for your way of life.
Okay. So what happens when the Iranians visit Europe? When they came to Italy, Rome covered up nude statues so as not to offend the Ayatollah.
What is wrong with our culture?
Why is it we change our way of life when visiting the countries of others and then change it again in our own countries in order to please others?
Why is it that every time a hate-monger finds something “offensive,” such as the sight of a woman’s hair, a woman’s legs, a handshake, a statue, that Western culture runs to cover it up?
How about some dignity?
We are approaching a point in a failed and pathetic Western civilization where European diplomats will deny the Holocaust just to please their Iranian handlers.
Today, there is nothing that Western governments or cultures are prepared to deny.
Saudis require segregated beaches for their vacations in France? How very reasonable.
Islamic citizens of the UK want to govern themselves under shariah law instead of the law of the land? Of course they do; go right ahead.
Why is Islamism the only right-wing extremist movement that always gets a pass?
Hindu nationalists? Distasteful.
Lord’s Resistance Army? Disgusting.
Russia decriminalizing domestic violence? Aghast.
Le Pen? Racist.
Pat Robertson? Geriatric religious right-winger.
The UK paper, The Guardian, ran an op-ed in 2015 that condemned the UK government for hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Why? Because he had worked for a “gang of religious fascists...inciting religious hostility... as a boy joined the far-right.”
How come the same writers don’t use these terms for Saudi Arabian or Iranian leaders, whose policies are more right-wing, more hostile, more extreme?
If the last Saudi King was a moderate reformer, why is not Modi one too?
In fact, what the West calls moderate in every Islamic country, they call far right in every non-Islamic society. The same things that characterize reform in Muslim states becomes intolerance, hardliner, even Naziism everywhere else.
Why is this happening? For any number of reasons, Western governments and their media uses these terms to shield their voters and consumers from reality.
The reality is that our world is becoming more religious and hateful every day – and almost all of this hate is driven by Islamists.
Recently, the new UN chief, Antonia Guterres, sat with Saudi Arabia’s right-wing conservative King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Without any sense of contradiction or irony, he solemnly declared that “one of the things that fuel terrorism is the expression, in some parts of the world, of Islamophobic feelings, ...Islamaphobic policies and Islamophobic hate speeches” [italics added].
There is something perverse about the UN leader sitting with the heads of a regime responsible for funding more hate speech than any other - in addition to beheadings, gender apartheid and exporting religious right-wing bigotry which fuels terrorism - and blaming terrorism, not on that regime, but on Islamophobia.
In the UN chief’s narrative, blame for terrorism never rests with the regimes that cultivate education systems that spread intolerance and hatred.
Where did the 9/11 hijackers come from? Did they grow up in America and suffer Islamophobia?
No one in America even knew they were Muslim when they came to learn to fly airplanes. They looked and acted like average Americans when they arrived on their mission to kill.
The sole responsibility for laying the groundwork of far-right-wing Islamist hatred and fueling terrorism lies with groups like the Taliban, the Wahhabi preachers, and the hate on social media.
Did Islamophobia cause the Taliban to blow up the Bamiyan Buddhas or ISIS to dynamite Palmyra?
Was it Islamophobia that caused the genocide of Yazidis by ISIS?
Did Islamophobia motivate wealthy Bangladeshi men to torture and hack to death secular bloggers and foreigners and pledge allegiance to ISIS?
No, No, and No.
These people were not phobic. They were zealots who listened to, and embraced, Nazi-like supremacist preaching that encouraged them to “kill the kuffar.”
Blaming Islamophobia makes as much sense as saying that Germanophobia caused Auschwitz.
No, it did not. Germanic supremacism and hatred caused Auschwitz.
Why is it that if you write “kill the kuffar” on social media, that doesn’t fuel terrorism, but the rise of the Right in Europe does?
Perhaps it is terrorism that fuels Islamopbobia, not the other way around.
Perhaps the real Islamophobia is in Islamic sermons by Sunni jihadists against Shi’ites and Ahmadis.
But in the eyes of the UN chief, driving in a country where women may not travel without permission from their male “guardians,” the Saudis are reformers, liberals; a model to be adopted, while the problem is Le Pen in France.
So why not adopt Saudi Arabia’s laws for France?
Why not adopt Iranian law for Sweden?
If you are concerned about the rise of the Right in Europe and feel it fuels ISIS, then the solution should be to import moderates and reformers from Tehran and Riyadh and model our laws on those countries’.
Our Orwellian world is entirely upside down. Leaders see Iran as moderate and Saudi Arabia as tolerant.
They never question the bigoted, far-right leaders of these societies.
In such a system we have to rebel.
We have to demand an end to Orwellian rhetoric that brainwashes us to avert our eyes from the crimes of ISIS and pretend it atrocities are fueled by Donald Trump or Brexit.
No, ISIS came first.
Al-Qaida came first.
Iran’s Islamist revolution came first.
Wahhabi Islamism came first.
And all of them are a far-right, hate-filled, bigoted, religious fundamentalist challenges to the world.
The more we are told that these people are moderate, the more their fascism grows. And the more their Islamist ideologies of terrorism grow.
Beyond being honest in our language, we need to have a different policy when it comes to Iran and Saudi Arabia and regimes like them.
We must demand that Rouhani’s delegations to the West consist of Iranian women dissidents, such as those imprisoned for attending volleyball games, or he won’t be allowed to come.
Saudi Arabian diplomats must be forbidden to drive when they visit. When in our countries, and before they travel anyplace in our countries, their all-male diplomats should seek permission from our appointment of female guardians.
And if they do not like it? They do not have to visit. They can stay home where things are better, more moderate.
Seth Frantzman is the Op-Ed editor for the Jerusalem Post. Follow him on Twitter @SFrantzman
This is a lightly edited version of the original publication by the Jerusalem Post at http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Islamist-moderates-Swedish-hardliners-and-Islamist-Islamophobia-481549