On Tuesday 29 December the Johannesburg Star newspaper's Leader Page carried two analyses of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who tried to bomb Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas day, and his ilk.
There is an important point about "Islamist terrorists" that the analyses miss. It is this: These people are faithfully and conscientiously putting into practice exactly what their religion teaches.
The problem is not extremists, it is religion.
The Qur'an condones violence against non-Muslims: [8.39] fight with them until ...religion should be only for Allah [9.12] ..fight the leaders of unbelief.. [9.29] Fight those who do not believe in Allah [9.123] O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you...
A Muslim who dutifully follows the warlike commands in his scriptures will be seen by decent people, including moderate Muslims, as a murderous criminal.
Nor are Christians or Jews any better off:
A Jew who obediently followed Leviticus 26:32-36 would stone to death anyone that gathered sticks on the Sabbath. Is the genocide in the book of Joshua acceptable because a god commanded it?
Matthew [28:19] has Jesus saying "make disciples of all the nations" –and force was not ruled out, witness the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland.
Only if a Jew, Christian or Muslim IGNORES the bad laws in his holy books, is he able to be part of civilized society. Fortunately there are millions of good religious people who don't obey the evil commands.
Religion makes a virtue of blind obedience. By this measure, the most fanatical are the holiest.
The world will have fundamentalist violence until we handle the cause: Organised religion. Good people should stop deferring to religion as if it were something holy! These superstitions should be treated like the Greek myths or Santa Claus: Interesting stories, not a reason to kill people.