Apologists often try to explain away Islamic terrorism as a byproduct of something else. The usual argument is that, because Muslims are politically, socially, or militarily weak—the archetypal example often given is Israel vis-à-vis the Palestinians—they have no choice but to resort to terror to strike at their stronger adversaries. In other words, they resort to terrorism simply to even the odds—hence the argument that terrorism is the "weapon of the weak."
Though this narrative is widely accepted, it is demonstrably false. Consider the following account that took place a couple of weeks ago in Muslim-majority Egypt:
More than 300 Muslim lawyers inside and outside a courthouse in the southern Egyptian province of Assuit today [3/16] prevented defense lawyer Ahmad Sayed Gabali, who is representing the Christian, Makarem Diab, from going into court. Mr. Diab was found guilty of "Insulting the Muslim Prophet" and was scheduled today for a hearing on his appeal. Attorney Dr. Naguib Gabriell, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization, said there was "terror in the Assiut Court today." He added that he was on his way to court when he was advised that Muslim lawyers have issued death threats to any Christian lawyers who attend the court session. "Makram Diab was assaulted by Muslim lawyers during his transfer from the courtroom and security failed to protect him." Peter Sarwat, a Coptic lawyer, said that Muslim lawyers representing the plaintiffs prevented the defense team from entering court: "They said no Muslim will defend a Christian. It was agreed that Christian lawyers would take over and two Coptic lawyers volunteered, but the Muslims decided later that even Christians would not defend him." Sarwat said the Muslim lawyers wanted to assault the chief judge but he managed to leave the court via a rear door [emphasis added].
The report goes on to explain how Muslim lawyers and activists went to court to defend Diab's right to a fair trial only to be assaulted by other Muslim lawyers: "They were assaulting us in a beastly and strange way just because we went there to defend a citizen who happened to be a Christian," said one of the lawyers, adding that exiting the court required security intervention: "We left court in a security vehicle which took us to Security headquarters, otherwise, we don't know what the outcome would have been for us."
More details include eyewitnesses reporting that the Muslim lawyers were "armed with clubs." Several, including reporters, were injured in the ensuing melee, and human rights groups were "forced out of the courtroom by the Muslims."
Was the condemned Christian's attorney right to categorize this incident as "terrorism"? According to Dictionary.com, the primary definition of terrorism is "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes." In other words, terrorism is not just limited to 9/11-type strikes, but involves intimidating, bullying, threatening, etc.—precisely what happened at this courthouse trial.
Some more key points to keep in mind:
- Those making the death threats, physically assaulting others with clubs, and otherwise engaging in terrorist behavior were "more than 300 Muslim lawyers"; not jihadis or fugitives hiding out in caves, but lawyers.
- The entire issue revolves around something that, by Western standards of freedom, would be a non-issue to start with: insulting a "holy" figure, Islam's Prophet Muhammad. In a Western court of law, the Christian "blasphemer" would not even be tried, but rather the terrorist "lawyers."
- The attacks on fellow Muslim lawyers who merely sought to represent the condemned Christian is in keeping with Islam's doctrines of loyalty and disloyalty, which command Muslims always to side with fellow Muslims, while having enmity for non-Muslim infidels—certainly those perceived to have insulted their prophet.
The ultimate lesson emerging from this shameful fiasco is one of sheer predictability. Anyone familiar with the doings of the Islamic world—its history, its doctrines—cannot be surprised at any of the above: rage and violence in response to a non-Muslim insulting the prophet; rage and violence toward Muslim members of a legal system for trying to represent an "infidel"—these are quite standard, with ample precedent, regardless of whether the enraged Muslims are suit-and-tie wearing lawyers, or kalashnikov-toting jihadis.
Contrary to popular belief, then, and as this episode clearly shows, Islamic terrorism is not a byproduct of "weakness," but rather the typical approach to those who transgress the bounds of Sharia. Whether one man "blaspheming" Muhammad in a Muslim-majority nation (as in this example) or whether an entire nation existing on land perceived to be Islam's (as in the case of Israel)—terror is never far behind for those transgressing the bounds of Sharia.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.