[…] More British Muslims have joined the ranks of ISIS than have volunteered to serve in the British armed forces. In fact, this group has managed to attract thousands of recruits from free societies throughout the world to help build a paradise of repression and sectarian slaughter in Syria and Iraq. This is an astonishing phenomenon, and it reveals some very uncomfortable truths about the failures of multiculturalism, the inherent vulnerability of open societies, and the terrifying power of bad ideas. […]
Sam Harris: “Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon.”
Understanding and criticizing the doctrine of Islam—and finding some way to inspire Muslims to reform it—is one of the most important challenges the civilized world now faces. But the task isn’t as simple as discrediting the false doctrines of Muslim “extremists,” because most of their views are not false by the light of scripture. A hatred of infidels is arguably the central message of the Koran. The reality of martyrdom and the sanctity of armed jihad are about as controversial under Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is under Christianity. It is not an accident that millions of Muslims recite the shahadah or make pilgrimage to Mecca. Neither is it an accident that horrific footage of infidels and apostates being decapitated has become a popular form of pornography throughout the Muslim world. Each of these practices, including this ghastly method of murder, find explicit support in scripture.
Many believe it unwise to discuss the link between Islam and the intolerance and violence we see in the Muslim world, fearing that it will increase the perception that the West is at war with the faith and cause millions of otherwise peaceful Muslims to rally to the jihadist cause. I admit that this concern isn’t obviously crazy—but it merely attests to the seriousness of the underlying problem. Religion produces a perverse solidarity that we must find some way to undercut. It causes in-group loyalty and out-group hostility, even when members of one’s own group are behaving like psychopaths.
But it remains taboo in most societies to criticize a person’s religious beliefs. Even atheists tend to observe this taboo, and enforce it on others, because they believe that religion is necessary for many people.