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Hitler’s almost succeeded.  In twelve years, 1933 to 1945, he managed to annihilate one third of the world’s Jews : 6 million out of 18 million.  France’s 9/11, November 13, last Friday, has made the terrified world wonder how to stop Islamist terrorism.  Efforts up till now, from bombing Daesh to national surveillance of suspects to deradicalization of fanatics have simply not worked.  Current suggestions include a gigantic European Guantanamo for migrants.  Why not a world-wide Shoah to eliminate Muslims ?   They are somewhat more numerous than were Jews in the 1930s, but if we put our minds and ovens to it, we could annihilate every one of the 1.3 billion Muslims on earth and end terrorism once and for all.  The only good Muslim is a dead one.

Some people who read only that paragraph, or worse, just the title of this post, and take them literally, will either approve or scream bloody murder.  It is to be hoped that more intelligent readers will recognize obvious irony and a “reductio ad absurdum” when they see them.  The outrageous title and first paragraph are meant to highlight, precisely, the absurdity , and incidentally the inhumanity, of such a “Final Solution”.  But it also points up the injustice of condemning the vast majority of good, decent, non-violent and non-fanatic disciples of the Prophet, who are not only as horrified by terrorism as the rest of us, but are its first victims.

Nonetheless, hearing the French home-grown fanatics in the Bataclan theater in Paris scream “Allah Akbah” before slaughtering scores of rock-fans with their kalachnikovs and detonating the explosives they wore, brands their atrocity with the mark of religion and the name of God.  Pope Francis rightly called this “blasphemy”.  To atheists, blasphemy of course makes no sense : it is about the same as insulting Santa as “scum” (as in the French movie “Le Père Noël est une ordure”).   But although “orthodox” Muslims also condemn the “blasphemy” and insist that Daesh is not authentic Islam, one cannot ignore the religious belief behind its fanatical terrorism.

Whatever measures of self-protection we take, whatever arguments non-Muslims – let alone atheists – present to try to enlighten extremists like Daesh, surely the ultimate, final … solution must come from Muslims themselves, and from their own Imans and theologians.  It is their responsibility to find ways of preventing the radicalization of their youth, the deformation of their religion, and the use of the Koran and the Hadiths to justify the slaughter of innocents.  But given the explicit texts in their sacred writings and the ancient, violent schism between Sunnis and Shiites, only a radical reform of their religion can hope to achieve the end of terrorism born of fundamentalism and fanaticism.  Is this an impossible dream, like our mantra . . .