Quiet Jihad

by Richard L. Benkin (April 2012)


Why quiet jihad? It certainly is not because the victims do not scream. It is not because Temples make no sound when destroyed. And it is not because cries of Allahu Akbar do not accompany the carnage. It is a quiet jihad because we have allowed it to proceed, quietly, for decades; victimizing more people than all the jihadi terrorism in all the 9/11s that have come to define jihad for most people today. We tend to associate jihad and the radical Islamist threat with events that are by design loud, violent, and attention grabbing. The September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States come to mind almost immediately. So too do the constant drumbeat demonizing Israel with false data and counterintuitive arguments, the violent terror attacks that go along with it, and the adamant refusal to accept the very notion of a Jewish State while making it sound like self-defense to the uninformed. High profile terror attacks from London to Bali, Mumbai to Chechnya; the Taliban’s 2001 destruction of Afghanistan’s ancient Buddha statues; the deadly riots by Muslims worldwide over cartoons of Mohammed; and even the image of Iran’s late Ayatollah Khomeini all represent jihad in its most blatant and aggressive incarnations. But the threat facing all civilized and decent peoples goes well beyond that.

If those violent attacks were all there was to jihad, western and other militaries could crush it without much effort or concern about geo-political complexities. It would be a battle between good and evil so blatant that even the most reflexively cultural relativists would not attribute the terror attacks to some variant of local color. President Barack Obama’s 2009 “Af-Pak” speech was an excellent example of why jihad needs more to succeed than the Sturm und Drang of radical Islam. The problem with this major policy speech was not that Obama failed to recognize al Qaeda and the Taliban as our enemies. In fact, he has done a fairly good job of that during his tenure. The problem, as I wrote at the time, was he assumed that aside from those groups, everyone else in Pakistan (and you can broaden this to other countries) was our friend. That is the amoral convenience that quiet jihad allows. Recognizing that additional and critical component is the real “inconvenient truth” of our time.

“Quiet Jihad” is complimentary to Robert Spencer’s important concept of “Stealth Jihad”; as both recognize a less obvious form of jihadi terror than what the media and others allow most decent people to see. In his 2008 book, Stealth Jihad, Spencer wrote that “terror attacks involving bombings and shootings are not the sum total of terrorist aspirations, but are just one component of a larger initiative. The goal of that initiative is the imposition of jihadists’ ideology over the world.”[1] Spencer goes on to tell readers that jihadis will use a variety of methods to accomplish their goal; in fact, for them, the particular method is not very important. The goal of Islamist hegemony is. Quiet Jihad refers to one method in particular: the progressive elimination of non-Muslim populations from areas under the control of an Islamic government. Please take note of the fact that Quiet Jihad does not require an Islamist government, like the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan or the mullahs in Iran. Compliant Islamic governments generally do the trick.

To take one example, after the 1947 partition of India, Hindus were just under a third of East Pakistan’s population. In 1971, when East Pakistan became Bangladesh, they were fewer than one in five; 30 years later less than one in ten; and they are estimated to be less than eight percent today. During that same period, regular reports of anti-Hindu atrocities have poured out of Bangladesh and continue to do so even under a self-styled “pro-minority” government. Serious anti-Hindu actions occurred at the rate of almost one a week on its watch in 2009; and they have continued without let up in 2010 and 2011. Professor Sachi Dastidar of the State University of New York calculates that well over 49 million Hindus are missing in Bangladesh.[2] This puts every one of Bangladesh’s remaining 13-15,000,000 Hindus at risk; and the problem has spread across the border into West Bengal, India, threatening millions more.[3]

I have been studying this “quiet case of ethnic cleansing” for years, through on-site investigation in South Asia’s refugee camps, universities, and along its open borders, among other venues, and developing reliable networks of allies and informants who independently have verified these atrocities. For three days in 2009, for example, there was an anti-Hindu pogrom in Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka—immediately behind a police station. You might have read about it on my web site or in an article I published in one Indian newspaper Hindu; but that is probably it, despite the fact that victims were hospitalized, many rendered homeless, a Hindu Temple and deities were destroyed; and all under the watchful eye of police who were present during the attacks and allowed them to proceed.[4]

Are my resources really that much greater than CNN’s and the rest of the media’s? I would not think so, and that underscores the complicit nature of major media and others in promoting quiet jihad by ignoring it and assiduously maintaining the fiction that only a small number of radicals are the problem.

The perpetrators of that pogrom might have been driven by radical ideology, but they were not radicals themselves; nor are the countless others that have violently driven millions of Hindus from their ancestral lands. They are “average” Muslims, and that makes this especially chilling. For history shows that the most successful cases of genocide occur when a cadre of true believers incites average citizens to engage in heinous acts against a targeted minority; acts they otherwise would not dream of committing. There might be no Gestapo or Janjaweed in Bangladesh, but its Hindu community is facing a similar process of destruction at the hands of the Bangladeshi majority. Welcome to quiet jihad.

If quiet jihad’s only victims were the Bangladeshi Hindus, it still would be human rights atrocity with victims numbering more than the Nazi Holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur combined. Unfortunately, the problem is worse than that. Non-Muslim communities are disappearing wherever Islam has gained hegemony. Christian communities dating back to Jesus’ time are being systematically eliminated in a new Middle East that not only refuses to let them live, but is trying to erase their history so as not to allow even the thought that Islam’s roots go back to a time of conquest and are not ordained by God. The same is true for Middle Eastern Jewish communities with even earlier origins dating to the sixth century B.C.E. Ten of the 14 countries identified as the worst abusers of religious minorities by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom are Muslim-ruled. They all impose a form of Sharia on their people; and three are officially “Islamic States,” as well. Coincidence?

Try again. It seems almost unbelievable that on the eve of World War I, the Turkish capital of Istanbul (then called Constantinople) had a population that was about 50 percent non-Muslim. Today, with a population well over 90 percent Muslim, it has the aspect of any Muslim capital that is increasingly hostile to an intimidated non-Muslim population; and that is after seven decades of being hailed as a model of secularism.

That is an extremely important point. Up until the last few years when Turkish policies became more openly Islamist, most western diplomats, journalists, and other leaders and opinion makers continued investing a lot of personal and more tangible capital in supporting the Turkish regimes, even while they allowed the progressive diminution of their non-Muslims citizens. Similarly, no one will ever confuse Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the Ayatollah Khomeini or even her political rival and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia with Mullah Omar. Yet, both have allowed their Hindu citizens to be murdered, chased from the country, or forcibly converted to Islam (which is not a crime; and the first two crimes are not prosecuted when the victims are non—Muslim).

Hebron is a city near Jerusalem and the location of one of Judaism’s holiest sites. The Cave of Machpelah is regarded as the burial site of Judaism’s patriarchs and three of its four matriarchs. According to the bible, it is also the first piece of land that Abraham purchased after coming to modern-day Israel almost 4,000 years ago. The site is also claimed by Muslims. Hebron had a continuous Jewish presence from Abraham’s time until 1929. In that year, Hebron and vicinity’s entire Jewish population was either massacred or driven out in an anti-Jewish pogrom by Arabs. Every mosque and imam in the region incited and supported the atrocity. “House to house, they went, bursting into every room looking for hiding Jews…Religious books and scrolls were burned or torn to shreds [and] the carnage went on for hours, with the Arab policemen standing down – or joining in. Blood ran in streamlets down the narrow stone staircases outside the buildings."[5]

In 1967, Israel reclaimed the area, prior to which Jews were barred from the area, and thereby deliberately prevented from paying homage or praying and this very holy site. Israeli Jews, who now could return to Hebron for the first time since the pogrom, observed that almost four decades after the 1929 massacres, traditional Jewish amulets, or mezzuzot, were still affixed to many doorposts. Some years later, as the Arab population concentrated in the city itself while Jews lived in the surrounding areas like Kiryat Arba, people observed that the mezzuzot had been removed, but one could still see their outlines on the doorposts. Eventually, Israelis noticed that the doorposts themselves had been replaced, especially as the conflict between Jews and Arabs in the area became ever more intense and there was a decided attempt by Arabs to deny that Jews had any title to the area; thus their effort to erase all trace of the ancient Jewish community in Hebron. And now after the Arabs essentially falsified the historical record, the world has the utter gall to call the descendants of the victims “settlers” and those of the attackers Hebron’s rightful owners![6]

It is again significant that this process of deliberate attempts to de-Judaize Hebron and its history did not proceed under an openly retrograde Islamist state. Rather, each of the responsible parties was lionized by western leaders and opinion-makers as an epitome of tolerance and a partner for world peace. First, it was the Ottoman Turks whose capital was only half Muslim; then, the very “moderate” Jordanians; and finally, those “peace partners” in the Palestinian Authority.

Whether or not one attributes these phenomena to something in Islam itself is not even the point. The fact is that one cannot even join the debate in the West or try to explain the historical record without facing charges of being Islamaphobic, racist, or bigoted. Perhaps that will change when we are told that London’s Old Bailey was established to enforce Sharia law and the Eiffel Tower was built in homage to Allah. Preposterous? Ask those who put mezzuzot on their doorposts in Hebron, built Buddha statues in Afghanistan, or Hindu temples in Bangladesh.



[1] Robert Spencer, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs. (Regnery Publishing, Inc.:  Washington, 2008), pp. 4-5.

[2] Dastidar, S. (2008) Empire’s Last Casualty: Indian Subcontinent’s Vanishing Hindu and other Minorities. (Kolkata: Firma KLM Private Limited).

[3] Richard Benkin, A Quiet Case of Ethnic Cleansing: the Murder of Bangladesh’s Hindus. (Akshaya Prakashan:  New Delhi, 2012).

[4] Richard Benkin, “A Terrifying Existence, “The Daily Pioneer, July 21, 2009.

[5] Edwin Black, The Farhud, Roots of the Arab-Nazi Alliance during the Holocaust (Dialog Press:  Washington, DC, 2010), pp. 205-206.

[6] Also see Richard L. Benkin, “The Modern Destruction of the Temple Mount,” Bible and Interpretation, May 2003.

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