Democracy and responsibility are not the same thing. While I welcome, support, and encourage democratic movements among all peoples, I have to recognize that they may use their new freedoms to foster ideas that I find hateful and threatening. Case in point: the return to prominence in Egypt of Sheik Yusuf al–Qaradawi, an anti-Semitic preacher of hate.
In a 2009 television interview on Al Jazeera, the Sheik claimed that Hitler was sent by Allah as an act of “divine punishment” for the “corruption” that is the Jewish people, and he hoped that Muslims would carry on this work. In a separate interview, al–Qaradawi expressed his hope that before he died he would have the opportunity to go to the “land of jihad” and shoot Jews.
Sheik Yusuf al–Qaradawi is a major player in the Islamic revival, an advisor to the Muslim Brotherhood, a media star hosting “Sharia and Life” on Al Jazeera, and a symbol of Egyptian freedom who delivered the Tahrir Square sermon on February 18 to a million Muslims. I worry that the Arab principle of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” will encourage the emerging democratic leaders to double down on Jew-hatred and use anti–Israel sentiment to cement their positions of power.
What can we do about this? First, know it is coming. Second, talk to your Muslim friends and neighbors about it. Third, ask that your local Muslim leaders take the moral high ground in this, and preemptively speak out publically to their communities and to the media in general about the evils of Jew–hatred. If they are afraid, offer to stand with them. If they refuse, think seriously about standing against them.
Liberal Jews and rabbis have long been doing the same with regard to anti–Islamic feelings among Jews and others: at this very moment, I am working against the hate–filled Tennessee law seeking to outlaw Sharia and hence Islam in the state of Tennessee. Now it is time for our Muslim colleagues to do the same for us among their fellow Muslims.
Will they? I don’t know. Challenge them, and report what you find.