Years ago Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote a poem which included these lines: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”
This is not the standard view of a mosque in the United States. Most Americans — not just progressives, but average well-meaning citizens of all political persuasions — assume that a mosque is just like a church or a synagogue. Yes, it has different architecture and decorations, and its congregation uses different scriptures. But surely it must be like other place of worship — a gathering place where the faithful pray, enjoy fellowship with one another, and then depart refreshed, ready to do good deeds in the larger world.
Regular readers of this blog know better, but the average American has imprinted the feel-good multicultural ideal about Muslims and their mosques, and the ten years since 9-11 have not shaken it. Thanks to the journeywork of George W. Bush, reinforced by the appeasement of Barack Hussein Obama, Islam is understood to be a positive, tolerant, peaceful spiritual discipline, and contains only a tiny minority of extremists who behave otherwise — and theirs is not the “true Islam”, anyway.
In order to counteract such deeply-entrenched error, rigorous empirical investigation is necessary. If a researcher is not to be labeled a “bigot” or a “hater”, he must present well-attested facts based on careful research.