In Search of Unicorns

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     Unicorns are among the most elusive creatures on earth, yet they are the stuff of legends. Evidence of their existence is found in cave paintings of prehistory.  A passage of Bruce Chatwin’s travel journal tells a story of a scientist he met in South America who believed that unicorns were hunted to death around 6,000 B.C.  He said there were two cave paintings at Lago Posadas that confirm their existence.

     For those interested, evidence exists in ancient Greece as well as Rome. Pliny the Elder’s Natural History provides an elaborate description. Later Marco Polo provides a description of what he believed to be a unicorn.  While the evidence is sketchy, their lineage can be traced to modern times, and they stand proudly alongside Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster.  Realizing my search for unicorns was not entirely successful, I turned my attention to another legendary creature, the moderate Muslim.

     That the moderate Muslim exists is a certainty, and examples can be found in the popular press, even our own President has said that 99% of Muslims are peaceful or moderate. Perhaps it is just me, but I think the 99% statistic is often cited by people who have no evidence of its truth.  A more scientific approach would be an actual survey that quantifies the results.  What follows are recent poll results of Muslims as presented by Matt Barber:

  • 1.5 Million British Muslims support the Islamic State, about half their total population. ICM (Mirror) Poll 2015.
  • Two-thirds of Palestinians support the stabbing of Israeli civilians. Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (2015).
  • 38.6 percent of Western Muslims believe 9/11 attacks were justified. Gallup (2011).
  •  45 percent of British Muslims agree that clerics preaching violence against the West represent “mainstream Islam.” BBC Radio (2015).
  • 38 percent of Muslim-Americans say Islamic State (ISIS) beliefs are Islamic or correct. (Forty-three percent disagree.) The Polling Company CSP Poll (2015).
  • One-third of British Muslim students support killing for Islam. Center for Social Cohesion (Wikileaks cable).
  • 80 percent of young Dutch Muslims see nothing wrong with holy war against non-believers. Most verbalized support for pro-Islamic State fighters. Motivaction Survey (2014).
  • Nearly one-third of Muslim-Americans agree that violence against those who insult Muhammad or the Quran is acceptable. The Polling Company CSP Poll (2015).
  • 51 percent of Muslim-Americans say that Muslims should have the choice of being judged by Shariah courts rather than courts of the United States (only 39 percent disagree).The Polling Company CSP Poll (2015).
  • 81 percent of Muslim respondents support the Islamic State (ISIS). Al-Jazeera poll (2015).


     Clearly, moderate Muslims do not comprise 99% of all Muslims. Based entirely on the survey results, moderate Muslims seldom represent 50% of the group. So, finding moderate Muslims is less difficult than finding a unicorn. Still one should consider the role of the moderate Muslim.

     Marco Polo, on p. 45 of The Travels of Marco Polo, the Venetian, writes:

“The Mahometan inhabitants are treacherous and unprincipled. According to their doctrine, whatever is stolen or plundered from others of a different faith, is properly taken, and the theft is no crime; whilst those who suffer death or injury by the hands of Christians, are considered martyrs. If, therefore, they were not prohibited and restrained by the powers who now govern them, they would commit many outrages. These principals are common to all the Saracens.”

     In Winston Churchill’s, The River War, he writes:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensual-ism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.”


Until Next time…