David J. Rusin is director of Islamist Watch, the Middle East Forum's project dedicated to combating the infiltration of nonviolent radical Islam throughout the West. On May 24, he addressed the Middle East Forum via conference call on the subject of nonviolent jihad.
Mr. Rusin began his talk by pointing out that all forms of jihad against the West have a common aim: namely, the destruction of the liberal democratic order and the establishment of Shari'a law. Specifically, there are two types of such jihad: violent and nonviolent. Nonviolent (or "stealth") jihad attempts to insinuate Shari'a into Western society through, inter alia, the government, courts, and media.
According to Mr. Rusin, two distinct trends have emerged recently vis-à-vis the success of nonviolent jihad. The worrying trend has been the proliferation of censorship when free speech is vital to defeat radical Islam. Examples of such self-censorship include Comedy Central's removal of any image or mention of Muhammad in an episode of South Park, and the omission of any discussion of Islam in reports on the Fort Hood massacre, despite the fact that Major Hasan described himself on business cards as a "soldier of Allah."
However, Mr. Rusin pointed out that there has also been growing resistance to Islamization, particularly in Europe. For example, a referendum in Switzerland has led to a ban on the construction of minarets being adopted as part of the Swiss constitution. Although there has generally been a divide between the attitudes of the political elite and those of the ordinary people until recently, the mainstream parties are increasingly responding to concerns about Islam, as evidenced by the advance of legislation to ban niqabs and burqas, which constitute security threats and are symbolic of separatism, in Belgium and France.
Mr. Rusin concluded his talk by emphasising that while violent jihad can never be fully controlled by a counterterrorism strategy, nonviolent jihad can only make progress when we allow it to. Hence, though it can appear daunting to fight radical Islam in light of developments such as the Iranian nuclear program, nonviolent jihad can be fought by taking action even on a local level (e.g., complaining about indoctrination in schools).
Summary written by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi.