The Strategy Page calls it “an image problem”, but they’re description of the result of the problem goes deeper. I think the next generation is embarrassed by them. So much so that they are becoming less convinced of the religion behind it.
Hamas has an image problem, and it’s getting worse. It’s gotten so bad that the 30 year old son (Mosab Yousef) of one of the Hamas founders (Hassan Yousef) has not only renounced Hamas, but has become a Christian. Mosab is fed up with the terrorism/”destroy Israel” approach the Arab world has embraced over the last sixty years. Mosad notes, as have many other Arabs, that this has not worked.
The conversion angle is something Moslems are trying to keep quiet. Mosab Yousef’s father pleaded with his son to keep quiet about the conversion (which took place 18 months ago). The elder Yousef knows that this is not an isolated incident. Many young Moslems are abandoning Islam. Most do so quietly. In Iran, the clerics that run the country are shocked at secret police reports about a growing number of young Iranians who have, in effect, abandoned Islam. This sort of thing is happening all over the Moslem world, but especially in Arab countries. The people who switch to Islamic radicalism get all the headlines, not the larger numbers who just walk away from Islam are largely ignored. In the Palestinian territories, there is also a growth in the number of Sunni Moslems who are switching to the Shia version (as championed by Iran). But many other Moslems are openly distancing themselves from the conservative forms of Islam (like the well funded Saudi Wahhabism). One reason this trend is kept quiet is because Islamic militants are inclined to kill such traitors, if the switch is done too openly. Thus the elder Yousef’s plea that his son keep quiet, lest he attract the murderous attention of Islamic radicals out to impose the death sentence on apostates.
The move to Christianity, and even moves just away from the more radical versions if Islam, can only be a good thing for the Middle East, and frankly the rest of the world, too.