In the Middle East, conservative Islam reflects a fundamental reality of Muslim society, but it should not be mistaken for violent radicalism as the United States does, unfortunately. Violence and terrorism abound in the region but not because conservatism is quite common. The Centre for Islamic Studies did a survey that showed that 80% of the Islamic population is conservative, whereas the other 20% is mainly formed by reformists. Radicals are not more than 1% of the population. I believe this is an almost stable tendency in the history of Islam.
Differences between conservative Muslims and reformists can be measured based on personal opinions on religious issues and their relation with non-Muslim matters. Conservatives believe the individual interpretation of Islam must be restricted. They don’t look for new solutions to the problems Muslims have today. For them, banks and insurance companies must be avoided, women must wear veils and democracy must be rejected for popular sovereignty can’t be against God’s will. Reformists, on their part, read religious texts in an open way. They believe banks and insurance companies contribute to the well being of society, women can make individual decisions and they see no conflict at all between democracy and Islamic indoctrination. Conservatives think Islam destroys other religions whereas reformists argue that Islam perfects but not destroys the other religions. Nonetheless, conservatives oppose violence against other religions.
Radicals are not more than 1% of the Muslim population but their influence is based on the increasing effects of their violence and their total rejection to commitment. This passion for violence has two pillars: radical culture and injustice. When there’s radical culture, peoples are led to violence. This culture’s extremism is fuelled by the numerous injustices and damages the Middle East people have to face. Iraq has become the fertilizer of radical Islam due to the brutality under which the Iraqi people was ruled by Saddam Hussein first, and the occupation forces later. In short, when a society does not pay attention to human dignity it’s threatened by radicalism.

Daily Star (Lebanon)
Taipei Times (Taiwan)
La libre Belgique (Belgium)
Korea Herald (South Korea)
Daily Times (Pakistan)

Fanatical 1 percent in Islam”, by Mohammad Habash, Korea Herald, December 27, 2005.
Why it’s wrong to stereotype Muslims as extremists and fanatics”, Taipei Times, December 27, 2005.
Islam’s fanatical one percent”, Daily Times, December 29, 2005.
El 1% de fanáticos islámicos”, El Nuevo Diario, January 2, 2006.
Don’t overestimate Islam’s fanatical one percent”, Daily Star, January 6, 2006.
Si peu de fanatiques dans l’Islam”, La Libre Belgique, January 10, 2006.