The Dutch, reacting to the murder on November 2 of Theo van Gogh, have turned against the Muslims in their country, Reuters reports. van Gogh was a filmmaker who had recently produced a film critical of Islamic practices. He was, predictably, killed by a Muslim.
Really, it's not hard understand such a violent reaction from Dutch extremists. Many Americans felt/feel the same way after 9/11. It's hard to have respect for and to trust a religion, many of whose practitioners call the rest of the world "infidels" and loudly promise to murder us, each and every one. That's not the way to make friends, folks. On the other hand, burning Mosques and schools isn’t a good idea, either.
"There is criticism of the government, including Jozias van Aartsen, parliamentary leader of the power-sharing VVD liberals, who said in a parliamentary debate on Thursday seizing militants was task No. 1 and dialogue with mainstream Muslims was second," according to the Reuters report. That reminds me of the criticism of the US government for rounding up suspicious Muslims as our war on terror continues and for coming up with the Patriot Act as a means of protecting us. But the US government has a problem the Dutch government doesn't share: The US Constitution and Bill of Rights that guarantees certain rights to its citizens.
It's especially sad because practice of the Muslim religion by the average follower has nothing to do with that kind of extremism any more than my practice of the Christian religion has to do with extremist fundamentalism. However, I'm tainted (sometimes painfully so) by the same brush. So are Muslims.
So the ball is in the Muslims' court if they truly wish to participate in the life of the free. They MUST take responsibility for educating the rest of the US citizenry on who they are and how they stand against their minority of militants.
German Muslims seem to be taking action. "One of Germany's largest Muslim community groups this week announced plans for an massive protest against militancy and terrorism. The march, to be held in Cologne later this month, is expected to attract upwards of 30,000 participants, said organizers at Ditib, an umbrella organization compromised of some 800 groups representing Turkish Muslims," according to German Information Services. "It is our way," said an organizer, "of showing that the vast majority of Muslims oppose radicalism and terrorism." Not a bad idea. But American Muslims might be better served by hiring one of the top PR firms in the country.
The point is, it's up to the American Muslim community to take a very public stand against the extremists and to show the rest of us who among them we can trust. But remember, we've been burned once. Our government needs a little slack to be sure it doesn't happen again.