Is Islam really a religion of peace?
"The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics—a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam," President Bush said in a universally praised speech last night (text | full video | highlights). " [Islam's] teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself." Indeed, if there's one message that's been drilled into Americans' minds since the September 11 attacks, it's that Islam is peaceful, terrorists are not. But today's Washington Times questions that argument. "Scholars differ that Islam requires terror in defense," says the headline, but the plural use of scholars isn't justified by the article text—which notably runs without a byline.

Instead, the article is really an opportunity for the Times to point out an article in London's Daily Telegraph by Patrick Sookhdeo, director of London's Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity. He denies that Islam is to blame for the attacks, but he takes issue with those who want to equate the violence of Islamic militants with the crusades or past "Christian" violence. "Many horrific acts have been, and continue to be, perpetrated in the name of Islam, just as they have in the name of Christianity," he wrote. "But unlike Islam, Christianity does not justify the use of all forms of violence. … The trend is to focus on Islam as a religion of peace. … Now that Islam is no longer demonized, it seems it can do no wrong." A similar argument is made at the Barnabas Fund Web site, where Sookhdeo ...

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