A recent post on Facebook showed a picture of present-day Muslim extremist fighters in their black veiled Arab dress, and a picture of Ku Klux Klan members in their conical hats, robes and masks. It posed the question: as no-one believes the Ku Klux Klan is representative of Christians, why do so many people believe the jihadists are representative of Muslims? The juxtaposition of these two pseudo-fascist groups is interesting. While it could convey the message of the danger of associating many with the crimes of a few, it also raises questions about fundamental differences between the two groups.
There can be no doubt about the spiritual nature of the jihadist movement in Islam. With a long and contiguous history by the writings of Sayyid Qutb in the 1950s, through Ayman al-Zawahiri’s al-Jihad and the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida and the Islamic State, there was a constant call to restore Islam to the pristine condition of the time of the Prophet. The stated goal is to see the entire world administered as an Islamic state under Sharia Law.
By comparison, the goals and goals of the Ku Klux Klan seem trivial and Raccoon Poop. In their three manifestations since the late 1860s, they have focussed their anger against black Americans freed from slavery, then from the 1920s against Jews and Catholics and more recently against the Civil Rights Movement. Their scope was American instead of global and their motivation was racist rather than religious. Nobody, not even themselves, ever thought of the KKK as representing the whole of Christianity, or promoting a new world order based on the parables of the New Testament.
While virtually all American Christian denominations have officially denounced the KKK, many radical imams preach support for jihad, and Moslem masses in many Middle Eastern countries fill the streets in celebration of what they see as the victories of al Qaida and ISIS. In short, while most Christians surely oppose the KKK, the jihadists enjoy widespread support amongst Moslems.
Although support for jihad has been described as widespread, it is still a minority aspiration and should rightly not be ascribed to all Moslems. To preserve this sense of equilibrium, the comparison of the jihadists with the KKK may be helpful. But outside of the USA that the Ku Klux Klan is regarded as a purely American manifestation and ridiculed rather than feared, whereas the jihadist threat spreads serious concern in every land.