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FPM’s Jacob Laksin on Islam and the War

Posted on March 31 2010 5:30 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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My FrontPage colleague Jacob Laksin is a tremendous reporter who’s been churning out first-rate articles for FPM for years.

Yet today Jacob gets to put that role aside and discuss his views on Islam and foreign policy with Jamie Glazov. It’s a rare opportunity to get to understand his views on some of the subjects NRB’s older brother tackles the most:

FP: Jacob, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

I’d like to talk to you today about your view of the terror war, how the Obama administration is handling it and how a U.S. administration should preferably and ideally be handling it.

I would like to begin this discussion by talking with you about the nature of the threat we face in general. You and I have had a few disagreements (I think) in our own private discussions about Islam and to what extent it represents the “problem” in terms of the enemy we face. Tell us a bit about your thoughts on this issue, in terms of Islam and in what way you deem it to represent, or not represent, “the threat” to us in this terror war. And share with us some of your travels to the Islamic world that have, perhaps, influenced your outlook.

Laksin: First, thank you for having me, Jamie. It’s not often I find myself on this side of an interview, let alone in this space, but the honor is doubly great since one of my favorite interviewers is conducting it.

Islam is a complicated subject but I suppose where we disagree is in our definition of the threat it poses. You believe that Islam is the problem; I think there’s a good deal to that. Robert Spencer and others have made a convincing case that Islam is foundationally less tolerant, more supremacist, and more militant than other major religions and hence presents a unique threat. I’m willing to accept that argument, though more on empirical than doctrinal grounds: Wherever terrorism takes place today, Islam is usually connected. That is surely no coincidence.

But while I agree that Islam as such is a threat, I don’t agree that it is the threat. As I see it, Islamic texts may be immutable but Islam is not monolithic; it is a reflection of the society at large. Thus, Islam in Arabia is very different than Islam in Africa, and the differences are apparent even within the same continent. I’ve drunk boukha (a kind of fig liquor) with educated Muslims in Tunisia who have read the Koran, and I’ve been accosted and forcibly converted to Islam by a Muslim gang of young and likely illiterate thugs in East Africa. (I happen to be an atheist by persuasion, but when it comes to potentially life-threatening situations, I am not a stickler for principle.)

Read the whole thing at FPM.

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