The Honor of Muslims

05/24/2013 09:10 pm ET | Updated Jul 24, 2013

The honor of Muslims is the Syria that stands up, doubly insurgent, fighting on two fronts: that of a dictatorship that has become insane, killing with a vengeance (conservative estimates, at least 80,000 dead), and that of political Islamism, represented within the rebellion by the Al Nosra jihadi front, an affiliate of al Qaeda, which the head of French diplomacy has suggested (and rightly so) including among the "terrorist organizations" the UN has outlawed.

The honor of Muslims is this ANP, the Awami National Party that, in this other hell -- this other cauldron of poverty and death that is the Pakistan of the Taliban -- pays a high price for its support for anti-terrorist operations American special forces are carrying out in the tribal zones at the border with Afghanistan. They have suffered dozens of deaths, their leaders assassinated or threatened with assassination, car bomb attacks threatening all of their meetings; and yet the ANP continues, refusing to back down, campaigning in the catacombs and never abandoning its dream of an Islam compatible with secularism.

The honor of Muslims is these Libyans -- in reality, a majority -- who, just a year ago, in the first free elections their country has ever known, disowned the Muslim Brotherhood and brought to power a moderate coalition which itself appointed as Prime Minister a democrat, enemy of the deadly thesis of the clash of civilizations, former president in exile of the Libyan League for Human Rights, who has never compromised with Gaddafiism, the man who led the first delegation of free Libyans received by Sarkozy at the Elysée Palace on March 10th, 2011: Ali Zeidan.

The honor of Muslims was this other great figure who, 20 years ago, also honored me with his friendship and who, in charge of the destiny of a Bosnia at war, refused the choice of the devil. The West prevaricated, the West shrank from the issue, the West -- without admitting it, but sometimes, even saying so -- played the Serbian card, the same way it is playing the Bashar al Assad card today. But, backed against the wall with his hands tied behind him, all the while invested with what he considered the sacred task to protect a people who were being bombarded day and night, he resisted the temptation to which others might have given in, to accept, for lack of anything better, the only concrete assistance being offered -- that of Iran.

The honor of Muslims is those American academics (Azar Nafisi, Ahmed al-Rahim), those civic movements (the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism), and the simple citizens of Dearborn, Detroit and elsewhere who, right after September 11, condemned terrorism, denounced such "sheiks of death" as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the loony preacher of Al Jazeera, and declared their unshakeable allegiance to the United States of America, their country.

The honor of Muslims is Palestinians like Yasser Abd Rabbo and others, many others, who, a little over a decade ago at Geneva, joined forces with Israelis to conceive and present the only plan for peace to this day which is serious, viable and immediately applicable, as it rests on the precondition of simultaneous mutual recognition. By doing so, they knew they would provoke the rage of Hamas and Hezbollah; they knew that they, the true Palestinian patriots, would pass for traitors to the cause. And they also knew that they would never know another day of unthreatened tranquility in their respective lives. And yet they did it, they remained steadfast, they never regretted it, and they never backed down.

The honor of Muslims is the Imam of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi, who combats antisemitism as fiercely as he does racism and went to Israel, with a delegation of other French imams, to pray at Yad Vashem much as he prayed at the graves of the victims of the slaughter of Toulouse. He too is taking great risks; he too might, at any moment, pay for his courageous choice with his own life, and those of his loved ones. Need one mention that he is subject to this other tribunal, that of public opinion, which has already singled him out and which, frivolous and capricious, equally ready to adore as to abhor, to pass from mere suspicion to inflamed ire, to entertain conspiracy theories as to acknowledge courage, has already begun looking for nits to pick, suspecting him of dark hidden motives. But he hasn't backed down either, nor has he deviated from the fine line of his commitment.

The honor of Muslims is Islam, simply Islam, when it is true to its principle, which signifies (as everyone knows but, unfortunately, some have often forgotten): peace.