National Public Radio had an interesting interview this morning with Ramez Maluf, a journalism professor at the American University in Lebanon, about the the different tone of much of the Arab media since the London terrorist attacks.
Increasingly there is concern with the image of Islam in the West, much more so than before. There’s less attention to trying to defend the bombings as something brought about by the bad policies of the West.
… Earlier this week there was a very interesting program on Aljazeera. The subject of this talk show was, “Is Islam causing these terror attacks, or are they political issues which are making Muslims behave in this way?” And this question was posed to the public so people had a chance to vote. And at the end of the program they gave the result of the polls. And the polls showed that 36 percent of the people that called in to vote said that the reason for the terror attacks was the teachings of Islam. Now I find these figures amazing, that the viewers of this program were willing to say there was something in the way Islam was being taught or something, as one of the participants in the program was saying, that is intrinsic in Islam itself…
It may be a temporary phenomenon, but I think the London and Sharm al-Sheikh attacks have provoked genuine soul-searching among some Muslims. For the first time in many years, perhaps, moderates and reformers have the upper hand and extremists are on the defensive.
It will be interesting to see if this soul-searching means less willingness among leading Muslims to “understand” terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. It’s an issue they should not be allowed to evade.
Update: More evidence of new thoughtfulness and outspokenness among Muslims.