Maajid Nawaz predictably doesn’t mince any words when it comes to the tragedy in Florida. “Admit It: These Terrorists Are Muslims”, he says.
Liberals who claim that this has nothing to do with Islam today are being as unhelpful and as ignorant as conservatives who claim that this represents all of Islam. The problem so obviously has something to do with Islam. That something is Islamism, or the desire to impose any version of Islam over any society. Jihadism is the attempt to do so by force. This ideology of Islamism has been rising almost unchecked among Muslims for decades. It is a theocratic ideology, and theocracy should no longer have any place in the world today.
The general point is true even if Maajid Nawaz is overstating things with this particular tragedy. Even though he claimed to carry out his monstrous acts in the name of ISIS there appear to be conflicting reports over the extent that Omar Mateen shared their poisonous ideology. The reports that he was apparently a regular at the club he went on to attack paints a picture of a conflicted and disturbed individual. But those are precisely the sorts of people who gravitate towards extremist groups; were he white and grown up in a different community he sounds like the sort of person who may well have been drawn towards the white nationalist far right.
It’s certainly wrong to use this tragedy to demonise out-groups. Donald Trump’s two minute hate against all American Muslims is despicable. But some of the sanctimonious diatribes I’ve seen from male feminists about “toxic masculinity”, blaming their favourite target of low-status “straight white males” are little better.
The world does have a problem with violent extremism in the name of a perverted version of Islam. America has a problem with mass killings in a nation awash with guns. What happened in Orlando was a terrible intersection of the two.