Globe Editorial

At root is fanaticism, not Islam

July 3, 2010

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THE SUICIDE bombings at a Sufi Muslim shrine Thursday in the Pakistani city of Lahore, which killed at least 42 people and injured dozens more, hold a useful lesson for Americans trying to comprehend the meaning of Islamist terrorism.

Above all, the slaughter of worshippers at Lahore’s Data Darbar shrine needs to be seen as the act of sectarian fanaticism it was. Sufi Muslims were murdered for following a faith that other, puritanical Muslims condemn as heresy. Sufis, long the majority among Pakistani Muslims, are denounced by Wahhabi fundamentalists for worshipping saints, including music in their rituals, and giving women an equal place in religious life.

The fanatics despise the Sufis for being moderate, tolerant, and peaceful.

What Americans can learn from this glimpse into the war among Muslims is that Islam must not be equated with terrorism. The violent Islamists of Al Qaeda and like-minded groups comprise a tiny, deviant minority. Contrary to what they claim, they are not waging holy war on behalf of Islam; they are conducting counter-revolutionary raids against both the West and the way of life of mainstream Muslims.

Americans and the Muslim world have the same enemy.

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