The issue of FBI's surveillance of terror suspects has received new attention in the media with this article in Wired. The crux of the controversy concerns the concept that the more "pious" muslims are the likeliest to turn violent. The article goes on to some detail to point out that practice of a faith, which is perfectly legal, may lead to scrutiny and harassment. Moreover, again according the article, "depicting Islam as inseparable from political violence is exactly the narrative al-Qaida spins — as is the related idea that America and Islam are necessarily in conflict".
But is there really so much to complain about here? I understand that this is a delicate matter, and opinions are diverse, even among atheists/humanists. Profiling on the basis of national origin alone without taking into consideration the expressed views and actions of a single individual is also quite unacceptable and is a form of racism. And certainly, the claim that all devout muslims are violent is absurd-there are many who aren't. On the other hand, I think there can't be much doubt that secular muslims, who do not regularly go to mosque and do not perform the daily prayers, are not all so likely to fall for "jihadi" preachers' propaganda, hence the idea of focusing on the more religious ones doesn't strike me as so outrageous as the article make it out to be. After all, jihad is not considered as important an Islamic duty as prayer and fasting. The jihadis who do not appear to be so observant are likely just trying to "blend in".
The other thing the article finds highly controversial is this graph.
According to the graph, Judaism and Christianity, as a result of reformations, have become less and less violent with time, whereas Islam has not gone through such a transforming phase and remains fully as violent as it was at its inception.
While the graph may be considered too simplistic, and there are other criticisms that can be made (for instance, separately considering the "Meccan period" and "Medina period" makes little sense in this context because, if anything, the Medina period was more violent than Meccan period), the broad message here can hardly be challenged: most Jews and Christians no longer consider the bible as being literally true, whereas Islamic orthodoxy maintains that the Koran is the word of God transmitted to the prophet via angel Gabriel and there is no room for metaphorical interpretation or selective suppression of parts of the Koran. Openly questioning this orthodoxy in many Islamic nations can have grave consequences.
So in a nutshell, what I see here is a controversy created, where there need not be one.
For completeness sake I would like to point out this survey by the Pew Forum, according to which, "very few Muslim Americans – just 1% – say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam from its enemies; an additional 7% say suicide bombings are sometimes justified in these circumstances." However, I consider these numbers to be an underestimation, because it is hard to imagine that people responding to such questions would be perfectly truthful with the pollsters.