WASHINGTON – An expert on Islam said Thursday that the United States and other Western nations are indirectly aiding the spread of radical Islamic groups abroad.
Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of U.K.-based Barnabas Fund, said at a lecture hosted by Family Research Council that the "Arab Spring" is a good example of how the United States and other nations are enabling the spread of Islamism, especially in Libya and Egypt.
In Libya, he said, the support given by NATO and the U.S. to the rebel group, known as the NTC, is a matter of concern.
"We had to support the NTC, which was the rebel group," said Sookhdeo, who added that "they were a coalition of groups that included al-Qaida."
"We have removed one dictator and replaced that dictator with a political ideology rooted in a religion that wants our destruction."
From that example, Sookhdeo moved to Egypt, which also recently had a dictatorship toppled by the civilian uprising.
"The conclusion is the Salafist Wahhabists have effectively triumphed," said Sookhdeo, noting that the elections resulted in the Salafists gaining around 60 percent of the seats in the legislature.
Sookhdeo, a former Muslim who now heads a Christian persecution watchdog group, also believes the Republic of Turkey is also on the verge of having an Islamist government.
"So we all back Turkey, but Turkey is changing. It's not the Turkey of Ataturk, but the Turkey of a new political order which is increasingly religious," said Sookhdeo.
The Historical Parallel
Sookhdeo spent the first half of the lecture focusing on documenting the religious component of the rise of Nazism in Germany. He drew a parallel between the threat that Nazism posed to Christian leaders then, and the similar threat faced by Christians in the U.S., Europe, and the Muslim world today with radical Islam.
He talked about the "Protestant Reich Church," which was the denomination Nazi leadership set up in order to unify German Protestantism into a singular pro-Nazi entity. In response to it, theologians like Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer founded the "Confessing Church," which resisted Nazi efforts to control Protestantism and also spoke out against the regime as a whole.
As the pastors behind the Confessing Church were being arrested, two prominent bishops of the Church of England took differing positions on their plight.
Bishop Arthur Headlam opposed the Confessing Church, feeling that they were being "overtly political" and should not speak out against Hitler. Bishop George Bell, on the other hand, thought the Anglican Church should side with Barth and Bonhoeffer. Bishop Bell would face severe criticism for his efforts.
"Everything he (Bell) did was abused at some point. And yet history tells us that he was right," said Sookhdeo, who identified Bell as one of his heroes.
Sookhdeo, the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, called on Christian leaders to know more about the threats they face.
The Green and the Black
Sookhdeo focused the second part of his speech at the FRC event on a topic he called "the link between the Green and the Black."
According to Sookhdeo, green represented Islam and specifically political Islamism while black represented the far right and specifically Nazism.
Sookhdeo talked about Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who "forged links with Hitler's Nazi Germany" and helped recruit an SS division of Bosnians.
The Mufti "was essentially the agent of" Sayyid Qutb, an early 20th century writer considered by some to be "the father of modern radical Islamist groups."
"He had borrowed anti-Semitic arguments from the Fascists," said Sookhdeo regarding Qutb.
"As the Nazis had proclaimed the Jews have corrupted the true Aryan and German culture, so Qutb explained that the Jews had infiltrated and corrupted Islam."
Coming from a Muslim background, Sookhdeo told attendees of the event that he believed Islam could exist with Islamism. He saw Islamism as an unenlightened political distortion of a religious group that has every right to exist in the United States.
"There can be no place for hatred. We must have no desire to harm Muslims," said Sookhdeo, who added that "when Islam becomes political" then it "must be rejected."