RELIGION BUILDING: Daniel Pipes the New Voice of Moderate Islam?
by Sheila Musaji
We are living in difficult times. The Muslim community has seen Anti-Muslim Rhetoric and Incidents by academics, clergy, journalists, government officials and just plain folks become so widespread that they are hard to keep up with. University Professors have been blacklisted for “crimes” such as questioning Israeli policies by Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch. Islamaphobia is widespread.
We are in the middle of an internal community dialogue on a number of issues about terms used to define our identity about secularism and modernity, and about democracy, political order and the separation of church and state.
Our civil rights (as well as the civil rights of all Americans) have been eroded by the Patriot Act. An ABC News Poll shows that negative views of Muslims have increased dramatically over the past two years. Some of our community leaders have let us down. Muslim minority communities and Muslim majority communities are both facing crises.
We are often judged because of the actions and words of extremists hiding behind the name of Islam and judged by extremists hiding behind the facade of other religions. Daniel Pipes even found in the logo of The American Muslim a sign of a Militant Islamic Intentions for the U.S., to which we replied.
And, now, the neo-cons have a new strategy in their War on Islam which is to subvert ignorant and naive Muslims. This strategy was first announced by Paul Wolfowitz a year ago. Then Front Page began what they said would be a series of articles with “A Troubling Influence” by Frank Gaffney, followed by “Ford Has A Better Idea: One Nation Under Allah” by Alyssa Lappen which attacked specific individuals who represent a wide spectrum of ideologies. Daniel Pipes also published an article “Do You Believe in Modernity?” in which he includes a series of questions to use to test whether a Muslim is a moderate or not.
A UPI article recently announced that Daniel Pipes and Stephen Schwartz are seeking major funding for their two organizations to speak on behalf of “REFORMED MUSLIMS”. “Pipes Forming Islamic Institute” . There we have it, the neo-con agenda discovered and described in Jim Lobe’s excellent article, “Neocons Seek Islamic Reform” .
As reported in a Muslim Wakeup article “Looking for Good Muslims”by Ahmed Nassef In March, the California-based Rand Corporation released a report entitled ֓Civil Democratic Islam. The report, by Rand senior political scientist Cheryl Benard, surveys Muslim trends and movements around the world and in the West and attempts to present a strategy for US and European policymakers on how to best deal with Islam in the post-9/11 climate.
This article in Muslim Wakeup prompted a response from Daniel Pipes called “Fixing Islam” to which Muslim Wakeup responded with “Pipes Misses the Point Again” and with the satirical “MWU Starts New Jewish Organization: Moderate Jews Invited”. Shock and Awe also weighed in with “Identifying Christian Moderates. Javed Akhter also weighed in as did Abid Ullah Jan.
In this ongoing attempt to identify moderates and use them in a religion building (see U.S. From Nation Building to Religion Building by Jim Lobe) effort, Pipes has a new article “The Moderation of American Muslims” in which he finds fault with a recent survey of Detroit area Muslims by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding called “A Portrait of Detroit Mosques: Muslim Views on Policy, Politics and Religion” which found that “The vast majority of Muslim Americans hold moderate’ views on issues of policy, politics and religion.” What I found most interesting in this article wass Pipes statement that: But do the survey results actually say this? Emphatically not; Bagby’s results indicate anything but moderation, as some specific numbers suggest:
- By a ratio of 67 to 33, Muslims in the United States think “America is immoral.”
- About (the graph does not allow complete precision) 90 percent of Muslims favor universal health care.
- Fully 79 percent favor affirmative action for minorities.
- Asked about the job being done as president by George W. Bush, 85 percent of Muslims disapprove and a mere 4 percent approve.є
So, it would seem that in order to slip from the status of moderate to that of extremist or even Islamist Muslim one only has to:
- have moral qualms about some of the policies of the U.S. government, or concerns about some of the trends in society that may be considered a slide into acceptance of immoral behavior.
- or want to see universal health care (perhaps like that other “extremist” group, the Canadians or like Dennis Kucinich
-or want affirmative action for minorities (as do many other Americans), in fact another recent PEW study found that a majority of Americans support the general idea of affirmative action).
- or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing (in the most recent PEW Research study Bush’s approval ratings are slipping with the American public in general and disapproval rate is at about 53%).
This most recent update to Pipes moderation test makes me feel like a Muslim Alice in a neo-Con wonderland. In order to understand Pipes’ convoluted logic I have to refer to the article “Presidential Library Terrorist Connection” by Robert Jensen. In reading these and many other articles and statements made by Daniel Pipes and others over the past year it seems obvious that the definition of moderation is shrinking steadily over time — and now would seem to include only those who are ready to join the new “madhab of Daniel Pipes”.
On March 25, 2005 Daniel Pipes announced on his website the opening of the Center on Islamic Pluralism, directed by Stephen Schwartz — the name has changed from the original Islamic Progress Institute but the cast of characters remains the same. The Center for Islamic Pluralism also opened a website and issued a press release calling itself a “platform for moderate Muslims in North America.” Schwartz also wrote an article entitled “The Battle for Islam is Joined” published, of course on Front Page.
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