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Moderate Muslims must fight fanaticism

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By Bill Oreilly

So let me get this straight. We know that for 25 years Saddam Hussein tortured, murdered and brutalized his people. Then, in three weeks, coalition forces removed him and his thug pals from power. Then, a few days later, thousands of Iraqis took to the streets and beat themselves silly in a bloody display that made slasher flicks look tame.

Do I have this right?

Now, you might think that these self-abusers would take a few days off from pain. After suffering so long through the horrors of Saddam, why not relax a bit and smell the sand dunes? I understand that the display was done in the name of religion, but I think any deity would cut his devotees some slack here. Taking the torture chamber to the streets so soon after the brutal Iraqi dictator was deposed might be seen as, well, somewhat nuts.

And therein lies the problem. The U.S. faces a situation in which it is trying to reason with people who believe that the Rolling Stones had it nailed when they recorded "Let it Bleed." The Bush administration wants to convince fundamentalist fanatics that Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are the way to go. But unless the new Bill of Iraqi Rights contains provisions whereby you have the right to pulverize yourself with a hammer, things may get dicey.

The Daily News ran a front-page photo of bloody guys running around the city of Karbala. In addition to beating themselves silly, many of the demonstrators loudly demanded that the Americans leave immediately so they can impose more such celebrations on the entire country.

The tragedy is that most Iraqis think that kind of display is as loony as most Westerners do. But the adamancy and irrationality of fundamentalist Islam is so intimidating that the majority of clear-thinking Muslims are fearful of speaking out. Thus, the fundamentalists can impose a system of government that brutalizes people in the name of religion. The Taliban did this, and so did the mullahs of Iran.

The U.S. and Britain cannot allow this to happen in Iraq. Fundamentalist Islam is an enemy of human rights. It is a danger to the world and the primary reason the U.S. was attacked 9/11. Even in the politically correct world in which we live, decent people should be outraged that governments exist where women are treated as dogs and people of other faiths are considered infidels to be killed with impunity.

Where is the worldwide outcry against fundamentalist Islam? Why is this violent culture deemed an acceptable form of behavior? Most Muslims are not fundamentalists but are being demonized because of this fanatical sect. That is unfair and unjust; it would be like saying David Koresh is the poster boy for Christianity. But moderate Muslims must lead the charge against the fanatics because non-Muslims are far too frightened to do so.

It should be clear to everyone by now that the entire world is threatened by the likes of Osama Bin Laden and his followers. There is no discussion here. These people will use any weapon they get their hands on to kill little kids and everyone else they see as not following the true path.

The U.S. is going to have to confront the bloody faces in Karbala sooner or later. If the Bush administration does not, they will turn Iraq into another Taliban operation by using murder and terror. These people are worse than Saddam.

Fundamentalist Islam is a worldwide threat that cannot be reasoned with. Freedom of religion does not include the imposition of brutal methods to regulate a barbaric code of conduct. America did indeed free the Iraqi people from terror, but another kind of terror is lined up to step right in. It had better be dealt with quickly.

Originally published on April 28, 2003

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