Allow No Unholy War

November 25, 1992

Westerners are understandably anxious when militant fundamentalism in the Islamic world takes on a combative venom. The drive of Iran's regime of mullahs to acquire all manner of weapons, from Russia and other countries, is legitimate cause for alarm. So it makes sense to try to see Western behavior from the Islamic perspective.

It was United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali who condemned the West for being more anguished by Yugoslavia than Somalia. First it was Croatian Catholics, now Bosnian Muslims, who suffer in Bosnia. But where was the West on Somalia's starvation, he asked. Somalian Muslims are dying at the hands of thugs who are their co-religionist compatriots. The West is not saving them. Mr. Boutros-Ghali is a Christian from an Islamic country, Egypt.

Bosnian Muslims are Central Europeans, not Middle Easterners. And the Serbian militia extermination of their middle class and military-aged men is turning into one of the catastrophic European atrocities of the century. The Western world does little more than try to get a little food to Sarajevo, because it is determined that none of its soldiers die for Bosnia.

The Serbs watch this. So do Islamic peoples. The Turkish and Iranian governments have sent aid. Ferment to volunteer is high in Egypt. This involvement is not enough to change the prospects in Bosnia, but will grow much larger if the revanchist Serbian regime begins ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo as expected.

Neo-Nazi violence in Germany against foreigners, most of them Muslim, adds to this perception. The firebomb deaths of a Turkish woman and two girls in Moelln foment anger throughout the Islamic world. Such incidents are seen in the context of existing discrimination against Turkish workers in Germany and Moroccans in France.

In fact, millions of Muslims live and worship in European countries and the United States, their lives and mosques undisturbed. That is the larger story. Muslims are integral and valued parts of cultures that have Christian majorities. They are not going away.

The shrinking world cannot stand an Islamic holy war against Christendom or Christian crusade against Islam. And that is one reason the West needs to make a more convincing demonstration that its tolerance does not extend to national starvation in Somalia, to extermination in Bosnia, to persecution in Germany or anywhere else. The only thing worse than letting demagogues of the Islamic world egg on warfare against the Christian West would be allowing them the claim that Christian Westerners bear sole responsibility for it.

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