The number of prominent Islamic religious leaders who endorsed Charlie Hebdo's right to ridicule Islam and its prophet: zero, none, nada, zip, null, 0. A deafening silence that indicts Islam and Muslims as enemies of free speech, a free society, and modernity.
All religion is unreason. But it takes Islam to condemn authors to death and call on followers to assassinate them, murder translators, slaughter cartoonists, shoot schoolgirls in the head for wanting an education, kill schoolgirls, kidnap schoolgirls for sexual slavery, behead journalists, immolate prisoners, sentence bloggers to whipping, sentence people to death for renouncing Islam, sentence people to death for the crime of being a Christian, ban people from politics for sodomy, fast-track apostates to jail, ... The list goes on, and on, and on. These acts are not just by so-called non-state actors such as al Qaeda, the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL), Boko Haram, and the Taliban. Many of these crimes are committed by states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia. It is not individual crazies or marginal death cults. Its a significant minority, if not a majority, of Muslims worldwide who want to return us all to the 7th Century.
As to moderate Islam and moderate Muslims. Surely even the need of the qualifying adjective "moderate" gives the game away? One doesn't talk of moderate Christianity or moderate Christians - at least not in the sense of being less prone to mass murder and barbaric violence on religious grounds!
So-called moderate Muslims and their apologists piously intone after each new atrocity committed in the name of Islam that the perpetrators are not true Muslims. Who decides? We can only judge Islam based on the actions of its self-described adherents. Were the gunmen who massacred the people at Charlie Hebdo while shouting "Allahu Akbar" not Muslims? Are the official actions of Islamic states such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan not Islamic? Are the Ayatollahs, Grand Ayatollahs, Muftis, and Grand Muftis not Islamic? A recent article in The Atlantic makes a convincing case that the Islamic State is very much Islamic.
Bringing up the Crusades and Inquisition will simply not do. The Crusades are a 1000 years behind us, the Inquisition 500. If the Crusades or the Inquisition are the standards by which we should judge Islam, if Torquemada is the yardstick by which we are to measure the Ayatollahs and Grand Muftis of Islam, then so-called moderate Muslims and their apologists owe us the honesty of stating that explicitly.
Islam does not deserve even our tolerance - though we offer it, let alone respect (its impossible to respect any of the obscurantist faiths called religion) precisely because it and its adherents will not, and in good faith (pun intended) cannot, reciprocate. Islam's answer to cartoons of Mohammed is to massacre the cartoonists. Islam's answer to all books (other than the Koran) is to burn them. Islam's answer to schools is madrasas, and only for males, where the only 2 courses on offer are memorizing the Koran and suicide bombing skills. Islam's answer to free speech is murder, incarceration, or execution.
So-called moderate Muslims would do better to reform their faith. They should make a "new" Islam that conforms to the values of the Enlightenment and modernity. Then, and only then, can one believe in the existence of moderate Muslims. Then, and only then, will Islam have truly earned our tolerance.
The original Charlie Hebdo cover that the above is a take off of: