The New York Times has an inspiring story about Hesham Shashaa, a Salafi imam in Munich who is trying to fight terrorism theologically. He condemns Muslims fighting Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and tells his audience to immediately inform the police of they hear of fellow Muslims planning acts of terrorism. The second note is significant. I’ve been to Salafi mosques that have anti-suicide bombing literature and seem great, but then have found printed instructions to only inform the police of terrorist activity if the suspect is spreading his extremism to others and if the community’s efforts to stop him fail. That delay can cost lives.
This is interesting. Salafists are looked upon as being among the most “strict” types of Muslims, and therefore the most succeptible to supporting extremism and terrorism. However, at my lectures, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Salafists who practically breathe fire when talking about Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, one young female student who is Salafist (niqab and all), really impressed me with her knowledge of how the most prominent Muslim-American organizations are Brotherhood fronts.
There are moderate Salafists out there, and we shouldn’t let their beards and niqabs stop us from encouraging them.