February 28, 2012
An Apology Too Far
From the article below, here are the facts about what happened in Afghanistan:
The facts are that the Korans were seized at a jail because jihadists imprisoned there were using them not for prayer but to communicate incendiary messages. The soldiers dispatched to burn refuse from the jail were not the officials who had seized the books, had no idea they were burning Korans, and tried desperately to retrieve the books when the situation was brought to their attention.
The local commander apologized. Then the Secretary of Defense apologized. Now President Obama has apologized. And what did we get for it? More of this:
As Andy McCarthy says, this is insane:
Why Apologize to Afghanistan?
The reaction to an accidental Koran-burning was inexcusable
By Andrew C. McCarthy
February 25, 2012
We have officially lost our minds.
The New York Times reports that President Obama has sent a formal letter of apology to Afghanistan's ingrate president, Hamid Karzai, for the burning of Korans at a U.S. military base. The only upside of the apology is that it appears (based on the Times account) to be couched as coming personally from our blindly Islamophilic president -- "I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident. . . . I extend to you and the Afghani people my sincere apologies." It is not couched as an apology from the American people, whose frame of mind will be outrage, not contrition, as the facts become more widely known.
The facts are that the Korans were seized at a jail because jihadists imprisoned there were using them not for prayer but to communicate incendiary messages. The soldiers dispatched to burn refuse from the jail were not the officials who had seized the books, had no idea they were burning Korans, and tried desperately to retrieve the books when the situation was brought to their attention.
Of course, these facts may not become widely known, because no one is supposed to mention the main significance of what has happened here. First, as usual, Muslims -- not al-Qaeda terrorists, but ordinary, mainstream Muslims -- are rioting and murdering over the burning (indeed, the inadvertent burning) of a book. Yes, it's the Koran, but it's a book all the same -- and one that, moderate Muslims never tire of telling us, doesn't really mean everything it says anyhow.
Muslim leaders and their leftist apologists are also forever lecturing the United States about "proportionality" in our war-fighting. Yet when it comes to Muslim proportionality, Americans are supposed to shrug meekly and accept the "you burn books, we kill people" law of the jungle. Disgustingly, the Times would inure us to this moral equivalence by rationalizing that "Afghans are fiercely protective of their Islamic faith." Well then, I guess that makes it all right, huh?
Then there's the second not-to-be-uttered truth: Defiling the Koran becomes an issue for Muslims only when it has been done by non-Muslims. Observe that the unintentional burning would not have occurred if these "fiercely protective of their Islamic faith" Afghans had not defiled the Korans in the first place. They were Muslim prisoners who annotated the "holy" pages with what a U.S. military official described as "extremist inscriptions" in covert messages sent back and forth, just as the jihadists held at Gitmo have been known to do (notwithstanding that Muslim prisoners get their Korans courtesy of the American taxpayers they construe the book to justify killing).
Do you know why you are supposed to stay mum about the intentional Muslim sacrilege but plead to be forgiven for the accidental American offense? Because you would otherwise have to observe that the Koran and other Islamic scriptures instruct Muslims that they are in a civilizational jihad against non-Muslims, and that it is therefore permissible for them to do whatever is necessary -- including scrawl militant graffiti on their holy book -- if it advances the cause. Abdul Sattar Khawasi -- not a member of al-Qaeda but a member in good standing of the Afghan government for which our troops are inexplicably fighting and dying -- put it this way: "Americans are invaders, and jihad against the Americans is an obligation."
Because exploiting America's hyper-sensitivity to things Islamic advances the jihad, the ostensible abuse of the Koran by using it for secret communiqués is to be overlooked. Actionable abuse occurs only when the book is touched by the bare hands of, or otherwise maltreated by, an infidel.
Understand this: Muslims are killing Muslims all the time. Sunnis attack Shiites, Shiites attack Sunnis. Ahmadi Muslims are attacked in sundry Islamic countries. Often, these Muslim-on-Muslim atrocities involve not only murder but also the torching of the other sect's homes and mosques -- necessarily meaning Muslims are burning Korans, and with far more mens rea than the American personnel had in Afghanistan. None of these atrocities incite global Islamic rioting -- it is just Muslim-on-Muslim violence, the numbing familiarity of which calls for no comment, except perhaps to mumble that it must have something to do with how "fiercely protective of their Islamic faith" Muslims are. (Actually, it has to do with Muslims' deeming the perceived heresies of other Muslims to be apostasy, for which sharia prescribes the death penalty.)
Also understand this: In sharia societies, non-Muslim religious articles are confiscated and destroyed every single day as a matter of policy. In Saudi Arabia, where sharia is the law of the land, where Mecca and Medina are closed to non-Muslims, government guidelines prohibit Jews and Christians from bringing Bibles, crucifixes, Stars of David, and similar artifacts emblematic of their faith into the country. When that prohibition is violated, the offending items are seized and burned or otherwise destroyed.
In spite of this shameful, conscious, systematic abuse of non-Muslims and their religious articles, King Abdullah has yet to send a letter of apology to Obama.
That, however, cannot be the end of it. If, according to the president, we need to apologize to Muslims because we must accept that they have such an innate, extraordinary ardor for their religion that barbaric reactions to trivial slights are inevitable, then they should not be invited to enter a civilized country. At the very least, our immigration laws should exclude entry from Muslim-majority countries unless and until those countries expressly repeal repressive sharia laws (e.g., the death penalty for apostates) and adopt American standards of non-discrimination against, tolerance of, and protection for religious minorities.
If you really want to promote freedom in Islamic countries, an immigration policy based on civil-rights reciprocity would be a lot more effective, and a lot less expensive, than dispatching tens of thousands of troops to build sharia "democracies." It would also protect Americans from people whose countries and cultures have not prepared them for the obligations of citizenship in a free society.
I disagree with McCarthy's recommendation as regards our immigration policy, but his analysis of the monumental hypocrisy is spot-on.
May 2, 2011
Bin Laden is Dead! It's a Good Day for America, A Good Day for Islam, and a Good Day for the World
As readers of this blog have realized, my life has become too busy for regular posts. As such this post will be mostly quotes from other writers as I'm too tired and don't have enough time to write a lot of original stuff myself. This will not change anytime soon, but this is an occasion not to be missed!
It is right and fitting that it happened the way it did; a team of Navy Seals swooping down in helicopters, storming his compound, and shooting Osama bin Laden and his cohorts to death. Much better that it happened this way than for him to have died of kidney failure or some such.
Message to Osama bin Laden and enemies of the United States everywhere; you can run but you can't hide. And don't think that we'll have forgotten after ten or more years. We will get you no matter how remote an outpost you try to make your home.
My hat is off to the Navy Seals, to everyone in the intelligence community who worked so long and hard to find and conform bin Laden's location, to Presidents Bush and Obama for persevering, and for President Obama for giving the order to strike, knowing what a failed mission did to President Carter thirty-odd years ago.
A few details of the operation have come to light. This compiled by Daniel Foster at NRO:
U.S. Joint Special Operations Command Special Mission Unit (SMU) from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU -- formerly known as Seal Team Six) did the shooting. There were other JSOC spotters on the ground, as well as two special operations helicopters and an unmanned drone overhead.
One of the special-ops helicopters reportedly suffered mechanical difficulties and crash landed onsite. It was destroyed by U.S. forces.
Bin Laden was killed along with two al Qaeda couriers and one of Bin Laden's adult sons. A woman who was used as a human shield by one of the couriers was also reportedly killed. Several other women were wounded and are reportedly receiving treatment.
The compound was located in an affluent suburb 35 kilometers north of Islamabad and is being described as huge, with a central building many times larger than other houses in the area and ringed by a 12-15-foot tall security wall. The compound reportedly had no incoming or outgoing electronic communications.
UPDATE: The compound has already been mapped on Google. It's just north of a children's hospital and in spitting distance from the police station.
And according to one commenter, it's also only one mile south-southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy. Sigh. We always knew an element within the Pakistani military/intelligence services was sympathetic to him.
How did we find out where bin Laden was living? Why, those terrible "enhanced interrogation techniques" that the left was so outraged about. The story from Fox News:
Years of intelligence gathering, including details gleaned from controversial interrogations of Al Qaeda members during the Bush administration, ultimately led the Navy SEALs who killed Usama bin Laden to his compound in Pakistan.
The initial threads of intelligence began surfacing in 2003 and came in the form of information about a trusted bin Laden courier, a senior U.S. official told Fox News on condition of anonymity. Bin Laden had cut off all traditional lines of communication with his network by this time because the Al Qaeda leader knew the U.S. intelligence community was monitoring him. It was said that he also didn't even trust his most loyal men to know his whereabouts and instead communicated only through couriers.
But it was four years later, in 2007, that terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay military prison started giving up information about the key courier.
Around this time, the use of enhanced interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, were being denounced as torture by critics of the Bush administration. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney came under intense pressure for supporting rough treatment of prisoners. Critics claimed that any information given under duress simply couldn't be trusted.
It is an argument that Bush and Cheney strongly rejected then, and now.
Yup. I'm not surprised. Obviously we need the strictest controls on these things but yes in the end I say waterboard the terrorists and subject them to enhanced interrogations if that's what it takes to get info we need out of them.
Here's the video and text of President Obama making the announcement:
...And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There's no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must -- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad.
As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam. I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
Yes lots of "I" "me" all that, Obama consumed with himself, no credit to Bush... but what do we expect. Otherwise I'm not going to be so picky on that.
Here are some wise words from Andy McCarthy on NRO:
A recurring question I'm getting today is whether Osama's demise equals Obama's political coup. Duh. Of course the president will get a bump in the polls, and he will deserve it. It will also be very short-lived.
In terms of a presidential election cycle, bin Laden has been killed at a time roughly similar to the point in the '92 cycle when President George H.W. Bush won the Gulf War. (I realize there are a couple of months' difference, but that's immaterial.) The victory gave Bush approval ratings that brushed 90 percent -- i.e., significantly higher than President Obama's are today. Just as now, it was unclear which member of the opposition party would run against Bush (unlike the case with Obama, Bush's sky-rocketing polls actually convinced big-name Dems not to make the race). Bush seemed like a shoo-in -- which Obama does not. But the election turned out to be about the economy . . . which was a dream economy compared to the one we're in.
President Obama deserves kudos for the vigor with which he has attacked al Qaeda leaders and cells in Pakistan. As I argued during the campaign, his position on the need to do this was far better than that of Sen. McCain -- who regarded Pakistan as a valuable ally and portrayed Obama as reckless for threatening to conduct attacks there. Obama is also to be applauded for authorizing yesterday's daring mission. President Carter's failed mission to rescue the hostages in Iran is testament to how much can go wrong and how politically devastating it can be when such a mission fails. And all you need to do is read the pertinent section of the 9/11 Commission report about President Clinton's failure to give clear authorization to kill bin Laden when we had several chances to do so in 1998-99 -- i.e., before bin Laden bombed the Cole bombing and ordered 9/11. That it would have been irresponsible to pass up this latest chance to rid the world of this menace does not mean acting responsibly was without risk for Obama. We should commend him for pulling the trigger.
Still, the operation cannot but underscore the mind-bending inconsistencies in Obama's counterterrorism -- gold-plated due process for some 9/11 terrorists but assassination for others; the haste to close Gitmo even as it continues to serve valuable security purposes; the paralysis of interrogation policies that (as Shannen, Steve, and others point out) were key to obtaining intelligence that not only thwarts attacks but enabled us to find bin Laden; the crackdown against al Qaeda while engaging the Muslim Brotherhood despite its sustenance of Hamas; the avowed commitment to fight terrorism while demonstrating indifference to the promotion of terrorism by Iran, Syria, and other rogue regimes; rhetorically lashing out at the Taliban (as Obama did in yesterday's speech) while seeking a negotiated settlement with the Taliban; and so on.
Obama rarely talks about the war -- indeed, he resists referring to war as "war." This, coupled with his paradoxical approach to it, will limit the political benefit he derives from positive developments in the war, including one as extremely positive as taking out bin Laden. Meanwhile, the urgency of debt, unemployment, and climbing consumer prices will very quickly divert the public's attention from bin Laden. The 2012 election will probably not be any more influenced by yesterday's successful operation than the 1992 election was by victory in the Gulf War.
We ought to take this very good news for what it is -- very good news. Despite the irritating self-absorption of last night's speech that Mark aptly describes, we should praise the president and, especially, our peerless military forces for a job well done. And we should forget about the politics of this. Whatever bump Obama gets will be about as enduring as tomorrow's trip to the station to fill 'er up with $5/gallon gas.
Finally, Victor Davis Hanson wonders about how valuable an "ally" Pakistan really is:
So did we operate with or without Pakistan's help? If the latter, and if it is proven that OBL was hiding in plain sight, I think it could be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back of this Orwellian partnership with Pakistan -- despite the PR to come that we owe, are in debt to, etc. to Pakistan. We will need some honest talk for a change about exactly what is going on. Or is it more likely that we confronted the Pakistanis with the intelligence and they red-faced joined us at the 11th hour?
Finally, this comes at a fortunate time. No one is talking of victory any more in Afghanistan; we seem confused in Libya, so the death of bin Laden reminds us that the U.S. can still take the war to the enemy in his own backyard, and act with confidence and audacity rather than "leading from behind." Let us hope that Dr. Zawahiri is next -- though the al Qaeda generation of 2001 seems almost enfeebled now, and are nearly all scattered, killed, or captured.
February 12, 2011
Mubarak Resigns: What Next? Different Views
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned yesterday and left the country. A few years ago I would have been more optimistic about the chances for real democracy than I am today. Maybe I've just read too much about Islam or the Middle East, or I've been jaded by our experience in Iraq.
Nonie Darwish' book Now They Call Me Infidel certainly didn't help. Darwish grew up in Egypt in the 1950s, and now lives in America. Her visits back to her home country have convinced her that Egypt is moving backwards, becoming more Islamist, rather than less. They are rejecting Western ways, not embracing them.
Reading about Islam in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular hasn't helped either. You don't have to believe everything Walid Phares, Bruce Bawer, Walter Laqueur, Melanie Phillips , Oriana Fallaci, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bernard Lewis, Mark Steyn, Steve Emerson, John Guandolo, Andrew McCarthy, Steve Emerson, Robert Spencer and oh about a few hundred other scholars and experts have to say to know that Islam in much of the world has a problem with we in the West think of as liberty and democracy.
Read this - I use "democracy" here to mean the process of voting, and "liberty" to be those things we have in our Bill of Rights. Democracy and liberty are therefore not completely synonymous. You can and certainly have the vote in many countries where they do not have civil liberties, although the reverse is not often the case.
There just don't seem to be many or any true Muslim democrats. There is no reform movement of any significance within Islam. Our own failure, under GWB and continued under Obama, to support Muslim democrats and an Islamic reform movement.
Sure, there are a few reform minded Muslims and organizations, which I've profiled on Redhunter. People like Dr Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and Irshad Manji, and organizations like the Free Muslims Coalition, the International Quranic Center, Muslims Agrainst Sharia, and the Quillam Foundation. But if you haven't heard of any of these except perhaps the first, there's a reason; they're rejected by most other Muslims. This is tragic, and something we need to try and reverse, though even the Bush Administration didn't do much in the way of embracing Muslim reformers and democrats.
Different Views on the Right
I think these excerpts capture the essence of these two editorials, but follow the link and read the whole thing if you prefer.
The optimistic view
Stand for Freedom
The Weekly Standard
February 14, 2011
It was not so long ago, after all, when conservatives understood that Middle Eastern dictatorships such as Mubarak's help spawn global terrorism. We needn't remind our readers that the most famous of the 9/11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta, was an Egyptian, as is al Qaeda's number two, Ayman al Zawahiri. The idea that democracy produces radical Islam is false: Whether in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian territories, or Egypt, it is the dictatorships that have promoted and abetted Islamic radicalism. (Hamas, lest we forget, established its tyranny in Gaza through nondemocratic means.) Nor is it in any way "realist" to suggest that backing Mubarak during this crisis would promote "stability." To the contrary: The situation is growing more unstable because of Mubarak's unwillingness to abdicate. Helping him cling to power now would only pour fuel on the revolutionary fire, and push the Egyptian people in a more anti-American direction....
It's understandable that conservatives should be wary of people taking to the streets--even when they are entitled to do so. It's also reasonable for conservatives to warn of the unanticipated consequences of ostensibly hopeful developments....
Conservatives are used to focusing on the downsides of situations. And there are potential downsides ahead, to be sure. But there is also a huge upside to a sound and admirable outcome in Egypt. American conservatives should remember our commitment, in the words of Federalist 39, to "that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government."
Egypt turns out to have its votaries of freedom. The Egyptian people want to exercise their capacity for self-government. American conservatives, heirs to our own bold and far-sighted revolutionaries, should help them.
The pessimistic view:
The Egyptian Precipice
February 11, 2011
The interest of the United States in Egypt is to avoid the worst case -- chaos, or a takeover of the state by the Muslim Brotherhood. That means we should want a very deliberate process of transformation, playing out over an extended period rather than all in a rush in the coming weeks or months. The best way to buy time for careful change shepherded by the Egyptian military is to do as much as possible now to meet the protesters' reasonable demands, beginning with Mubarak's resignation....
Elections have to be delayed so that players besides the Brotherhood can organize. We want to give independent political parties, journalists, and activists the space they need to build the foundations of a democratic polity. It very well may be that there's no way to deny the Brotherhood a role in the political process, but we shouldn't welcome that fact, and we shouldn't tell ourselves ridiculous bedtime stories about what the Brotherhood is, as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did in his congressional testimony yesterday.
Count us as cautiously pessimistic on Egypt. It needn't go the way of Iran in 1979. Yet we should remember that Egypt -- for all the hope represented by the young, tech-savvy protesters -- is a society with basically illiberal values. Simply throwing elections on top of such a society is not a formula for liberal democracy.
Our friend Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard writes, "An American conservatism that looks back to 1776 cannot turn its back on the Egyptian people." No one should turn his back on the protesters, who have risked their lives for what they imagine will be a better future. But we should be careful about comparisons to the American Revolution. In 1776, America already had a vast amount of experience with elections, self-government, and the rule of law; we were already in important respects a democratic society.
Egypt doesn't have that luxury, which is why its revolution must be handled with the utmost care.
What does President Obama Think?
If the views of retired Air Force Lt. General James R. Clapper, recently appointed by the president to replace Dennis Blair as the Director of National Intelligence are any indication, we're in deep trouble:
He has since, ah, "clarified" his statement, or rather, the White House clarified it for him, but readers can judge for their own what he and the Administration really think.
It's already been reported that the White House has reached out to the Brotherhood, and has thought to bring them into a post-Mubarak Egypt.
President Obama offered some remarks yesterday after Mubarak's resignation had been announced. Following are what I think are the key excerpts:
By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people's hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt's transition. It's a beginning. I'm sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks.
For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day. ...
The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary -- and asked for -- to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. I'm also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity -- jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight. And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world....
And above all, we saw a new generation emerge -- a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever....
The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people -- of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world. Thank you.
What Does Democracy Mean in the Middle East?
Barry Rubin reminds us why we shouldn't be too optimistic about elections in the Muslim world:
- Iranian revolution, 1978-1979: Mass protests by a wide coalition against dictatorship. Result? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now president.
- Beirut Spring, or the "Cedar Revolution", 2005: Christians, Sunni Muslims, and Druze unite against Syrian control. Moderate government gains power. Result? Hezbollah is now running Lebanon.
- Palestinians have free elections, 2006: Voters protest against corrupt regime. Result? Hamas is now running the Gaza Strip.
- Algeria holds free elections(1965?): Voters back moderate Islamist group. Result? Military coup; Islamists turn (or reveal their true thinking) radical; tens of thousands of people killed.
The jury is still out on Iraq. Turkey held a lot of promise for many years, but has taken a serious turn toward Islamism in recent years.
All in all, not a good track record.
I'm not so sure that the Egyptian's idea of democracy and liberty is in any way similar to our own. A poll published by the Pew Research Center on Dec 2 isn't encouraging. Some key findings about Egyptians:
30 % have a favorable view of Hizbollah
66 % have an unfavorable view of Hizbollah, with 4% undecided
49 % have a favorable view of Hamas
48 % have an unfavorable view of Hamas, with 3% undecided
20 % have a favorable view of al Qaeda
72 % have an unfavorable view of al Qaeda, with 8% undecided
I don't know whether to be happy or not to know that according to the poll people in some other Muslim countries the numbers are even higher. Returning to Egyptian attitudes:
75 % favor laws stipulating the stoning of people for adultery, and the cutting off of hands for theft
59 % favor a democratic form of government
22 % say that in some circumstances a non-democratic form is preferable,
16 % don't care one way or the other
Unfortunately, this or any other Pew poll that I could find doesn't discuss how popular the Brotherhood is in Egypt, but googling around indicates that they're not liked by a lot of Egyptians.
On The Other Hand
It's just possible that elections will marginalize extremist groups like the Brotherhood. It is true that they derive some of their support from people who are disaffected or oppressed by autocratic governments. Remove the autocracy and you remove some of the attraction for these groups.
The question is how strong is the Islamist attraction people have for groups like the Brotherhood as opposed to the attraction just because of a reaction to the autocracy. I'm not sure, but we're certainly going to find out.
Do Polls Matter?
It seems to me that as often as not history is not so much decided by majorities, but by which group is the most organized and determined. Polls matter to the extent that they show how much support extremist groups have.
Neither the Jacobins in France nor the Bolsheviks in Russia took power immediately after the Ancien Régime was overthrown. Polls often don't show a lot of support for extremist groups, yet they end up at the top because they are organized, ruthless, and often underestimated by their opponents.
It's not at all certain that the Muslim Brotherhood will come out on top, but we should be worried that they might, and we need to take all the steps we can to marginalize them. The first step is for the Obama Administration to at least recognize them for the threat to Egypt and the world that they are.
January 6, 2011
Peter King and the Radicalization of All-Too-Many American Muslims
Rep Peter King (R-NY-3) will be the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He intends to conduct hearings on our counterterrorist efforts, which by nature include the radicalization of American Muslims. He outlined his concerns in an article on his website (h/t Powerline).
Bottom line; before 9/11 King was close to a number of American Muslims, being a regular visitor to their community centers and mosques. He thought he had a good relationship with the Muslim community, and that in turn they were making solid efforts to be good Americans.
9/11 changed all that. Far from help in the War on Terror/War on Jihad (or whatever you want to call it), the Muslims he knew withdrew into strange conspiracy theories about the attack
Before 9/11, few if any American politicians had a closer relationship with the Muslim community and its leadership than I did. During my first months in Congress in 1993, I traveled to the Balkans - including Bosnia, Macedonia and Kosovo - to support that region's Muslims from aggression by Serbian Orthodox Christians. I was one of a bare handful of Republicans who supported President Bill Clinton's military offensives in Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1998.
I attended the Islamic Center of Long Island (ICLI) in Westbury on a regular basis, visited socially with local Muslim leaders, had Muslim students intern in my office, and advocated for Pakistan's position against India in Kashmir. Indeed, in 1995 the ICLI honored me for my "support of the Muslim community in general" and my "advocacy of human rights in Bosnia and Kashmir."
In the days following 9/11, I made several television and radio appearances supporting American Muslims, saying that they had nothing to do with the attacks and were as loyal and patriotic as any Americans. I particularly warned that we could not do to Muslims what was done to Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor.
Even today I cannot begin to describe the disappointment, anger and outrage I felt when, barely a month after those attacks that killed so many hundreds of Long Islanders, prominent Long Island Muslim leaders were insisting there was no evidence that al-Qaida was responsible for the attacks - even saying it could have been the CIA, the FBI or the Zionists!
Even more troubling is that to this day, no Muslim leader has denounced those vile remarks. Nor did Newsday say a word about these slanders - no moral outrage or condemnation. No demand for an apology or even an explanation.
As I became more immersed in attempting to unravel the radical Islamic threat to our nation and our civilization, it became more and more obvious to me that the moral myopia of Long Island's Muslim leaders and their apologists in the media was the rule - and that there were few exceptions.
Federal and local law enforcement officials throughout the country told me they received little or - in most cases - no cooperation from Muslim leaders and imams.
This noncooperation was perilous enough in the years following 9/11, when the main Islamist threat to the homeland emanated from overseas. Fortunately, that aspect of the jihadist threat has subsided because of the effective counterterrorism infrastructure constructed by the Bush administration. Some Bush policies, such as sharing and receiving intelligence with and from our allies, were relatively non-controversial. Others such as enhanced interrogations, wiretapping foreign terrorists phoning into the United States, the prison at Guantánamo, and monitoring terrorist financial transactions were routinely condemned - but all were necessary and effective.
Al-Qaida has adjusted to this new reality and is recruiting Muslims living legally in the United States - homegrown terrorists who have managed to stay under the anti-terror radar screen. This is why the hearings I will hold next year are so critical.
In the past 15 months we saw Najibullah Zazi, who was raised and educated in Queens, attempt to attack the New York City subway system with liquid explosives, using skills he learned in terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. We learned about Zazi by chance when his name came up on a wiretap. The case was almost compromised when a Queens imam - ostensibly cooperating with the New York City Police Department - tipped off Zazi.
Then there was Nidal Hasan, the Army major accused in the murder of 13 innocent people at Fort Hood last year. And Faisal Shahzad, an American citizen trained in Pakistan, who attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in May. There have also been the recent arrests of homegrown Muslim terrorists in Texas, Chicago, Virginia, Riverdale, North Jersey, San Diego and Portland, Ore.
The great majority of Muslims in our country are hardworking, dedicated Americans. Yet a Pew Poll showed that 15 percent of Muslim Americans between 18 and 29 say suicide bombing is justified. I also know of imams instructing members of their mosques not to cooperate with law enforcement officials investigating the recruiting of young men in their mosques as suicide bombers. We need to find the reasons for this alienation.
There's a disconnect between outstanding Muslims who contribute so much to the future of our country and those leaders who - for whatever reason - acquiesce in terror or ignore the threat. It is this disconnect that threatens the security of us all.
As chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I will do all I can to break down the wall of political correctness and drive the public debate on Islamic radicalization. These hearings will be a step in that direction. It's what democracy is all about.
Obviously we have a problem, and we need representatives to investigate the problem. Associations with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Council on American Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America and other terrorist/jihadist front groups must be exposed.
I've documented and applauded many true reformist Muslims on this website many times. Look at "Islam" under "categories at right. Islam is not a bad religion, or an "evil" religion, as some extremists on the right say. It is what it's practitioners make it. What we need are more Muslims who want to distance their religion from Sharia and extremist groups and adopt Western concepts of Liberty.
Americans and good reform Muslims who have been helping us deserve no less.
December 17, 2010
Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 5 - Shariah's Security-Relevant Attributes
This is the fifth in a series of posts summarizing the findings in Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well. Links to parts 1 - 4 are at the bottom of this post.
Before we get going with part 5, let's review the definition of shariah from the report:
Translated as "the path," shariah is a comprehensive legal and political framework. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of shariah as a "religious" code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere - economic, social, military, legal and political.
Let's also deal with the objection that "very few Muslims are radicals"
Too many Muslims, to borrow a metaphor from Mao, provide the sea in which the jihadis swim. By offering little meaningful opposition to the jihadist agenda and by meekly submitting to it, a large number of Muslim communities and nations generally project a tacit agreement with jihadis' ends, if not with their means. At the very least, they exhibit an unwillingness to face the consequences of standing up to shariah's enforcers within Islam. Such consequences include the distinct possibility of being denounced as an apostate, a capital offense under shariah.
Part 5: Shariah's Security-Relevant Attributes
It is important to note that Shariah, then, is not just a code for daily living, but includes instructions on how to deal with non-believers, or infidels. More specifically, on how to subvert their societies.
Treaties and Truces
If they were strong enough, the instructions of Allah are to destroy the countries of the non-believers by violent jihad. But Muhammed was realistic enough to know that was not always possible because at times Muslims would be weaker than the non-believers. As such, shariah contains specific rules for how to achieve their goals when they are militarily weaker. They are instructed to refrain from violent attack during this time, as doing so would be counterproductive. This is called "transgressing the limits," which comes from Quranic verse Q 2:190 "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors."
In face, Osama bin Laden was criticized by some jihadists after his 9-11 attack not because they disagreed with his objective but because they thought the time was premature. Specifically, they were afraid that the American reaction would set their cause back. From the report:
It is important for national security leadership to pay attention when prominent Islamic entities or individuals, especially Salafis, appear to condemn the killing of non-Muslims in non-Muslim lands to determine whether the condemnation was made in an unqualified and outright manner or whether it was in some way associated with downstream acts that merely caused "mischief" to be brought down upon Muslim lands.
In other words, often when Muslims condemn terror they are not condemning it as such, but are rather upset that we would see the light and react in a manner that would hurt the cause of Islam.
As such, the shariah instructs Muslims to strategically use treaties and truces when they are weak to gain time and to lul their enemies into a false sense of complacency.
The report cites an example of just this from recent history:
Yasser Arafat's repeated references to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah following his signature of the Oslo Accords in 1993 on behalf of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is a good example in modern times of Muslim awareness of the Quranic position on entering into truces with the enemy. Arafat was careful to reassure his followers (in Arabic) that his commitment at Camp David was nothing more than a temporary hiatus in jihad (a hudna) at a time of PLO weakness vis-à-vis the Israelis - and entirely in keeping with shariah. Similarly, in 2006, the leadership of Hamas offered Israel a ten-year truce to break the deadlock over its refusal to recognize the Jewish State. At the time, few in the West seemed to realize that Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was in perfect accord with the example of Mohammed and would predictably break any such hudna the moment it proved advantageous for the Muslim side to do so.
The concept of "sacred space" in Islam is pretty simple; lands that Islam once ruled, no matter for how brief a period of time, are permanently Islamic and must never be given up. Thus, the fact that the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) was ruled by Muslims from (roughly) the 8th century to the 15th centuries means that the peninsula still rightfully belongs to Muslims today. Ditto with Chechnya, the entire Indian subcontinent, and, of course, modern Israel.
Stated another way; "what we once ruled is ours, and what you ruled in history we'll also take from you." You don't have to be a security genius to see the implications of this.
To declare their victory, and to make them symbolically important, Muslims immediately construct a Mosque in areas they have conquered, preferably on top of the religious buildings of those they have conquered.
Examples of this practice include:the great Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul (formerly the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Constantinople); the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock Mosque, both built on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, directly above the remnants of the Jewish Second Temple; and the Cordoba mosque complex - the third largest in the world - which transformed a Christian cathedral in the capital city of the Moorish kingdom. The city was conquered in the 8th Century and was the headquarters of what came to be known as the "Cordoba Caliphate" for the next 500 years.
Most recently, plans were announced to construct a $100 million, 13-story Islamic center and mega-mosque complex two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City, the site of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in jihadi attacks on September 11, 2001. The name of the organization leading the Ground Zero mosque project is likewise revealing of Islamic traditions: it is called the "Cordoba Initiative."
The rule in shariah for anyone who leaves the faith is pretty simple; they are to be killed. There are no "other interpretations" or wiggle room.
Where is gets tricky is when when one person or group interprets the faith in a way that is different than another group. How much do they have to stray before they become apostates (heretics)?
In the final analysis, defining elements of shariah are intolerant of any deviation. There is freedom of belief in Islam only to the extent that matters of individual conscience do not threaten the ummah, whose cohesion and public appearance of rigid compliance with shariah is paramount and takes precedence over any individual's personal preferences.
This is what allows the radicals to kill other Muslims that do not share their worldview.
While Muslims are generally( there are exceptions) forbidden to lie to or deceive other Muslims, the same rules do not apply when dealing with unbelievers:
It is imperative that national security professionals with responsibility for defending the U.S. Constitution from encroachment by shariah understand that, under Islamic law, lying is not only permissible, but obligatory for Muslims in some situations. This complicates efforts to understand the true nature of the threat - and to have confidence in those Muslims at home and abroad with whom the government hopes to make common cause in countering that threat.
Muslims, then, are allowed to lie and deceive unbelievers when they are are in situations where they must live under their rule and cannot achieve their goals through violent jihad.
All of this reminds me of what Lenin said about the difference between bourgeois and communist morality:
We say that our morality is entirely subordinated to the interests of the proletariat's class struggle. Our morality stems from the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat.
In other words, something is moral if it advances the revolution; it is immoral if it does not.
Taqiyya is closely related to the concept of permissible lying discussed above. From the report
...taqiyya, which is generally described as lying for the sake of Islam. Taqiyya is a concept in Islamic law that translates as "deceit or dissimulation," particularly towards infidels. It is based on Quran 3:28 and 16:106 as well as hadiths, tafsir literature, and judicial commentaries that permit and encourage precautionar dissimulation as a means for hiding true faith in times of persecution or deception when penetrating the enemy camp.
The difference, if I have it right, between permissible lying and taqiyya is the dual messaging of the latter. A Muslim practicing taqiyya says one thing to unbelievers about a particular subject and another to Muslims on the same subject.
So that when talking about peace between Palestinians and Israelis, Yassir Arafat was all peace, love, and understanding when talking to the Western press. He also spoke to them in English. But when they were gone, he would speak words of fire and brimstone to his fellow Muslims. And he would speak to them in Arabic. Specifically, he would talk in English to Westerners about how he wanted peace with the Israelis, then in Arabic to Muslims he would say that he wanted nothing less than the destruction of Israel.
This practice extends to explaining the nature of Islam as well:
...what Muslim audiences are required to know about Islam is not the same thing as what non-Muslim Western audiences are allowed to know - or encouraged to think - by Islamic authorities. Taqiyya provides the legal basis under shariah for this sort of deceptive dual messaging.
The Western concept of slander and libel is pretty straightforward; saying or writing false things about someone. They have quite a different meaning under Islam.
In Islam, "Slander (ghiba) means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike." With "that person" being a Muslim.
So that when Muslims accuse others of slandering their religion, they are not saying that they are speaking falsehoods, but rather that they are saying things Muslims just don't like. And they don't like them not because they are false but because they are uncomfortable truths that reveal the true nature of Islam and the goals of the jihad.
...it is easy to understand how self-identified "moderate" Muslims can insist that acts of terrorism undertaken by "extremists" had nothing to do with Islam - even in cases where the perpetrators and their supporters explicitly claim Islam as the motivation, often on television broadcasts receiving rapturous applause from other Muslims.
... because the acts of terror make Islam look bad.
In Islam, it is impermissible for unbelievers to say anything that insults their religion. The Western concept of "free speech" is simply not part of their worldview.
The first and most obvious implication is that directly poking fun at Muhammed or any part of Islam is forbidden. We've all seen a zillion examples of Muslims around the world reacting violently to even the slightest perceived insult. And the reaction of all too many Westerners is to self-censor.
But beyond direct insults is that unbelievers are forbidden to explain the truth about sharia and jihad. It is one thing when newspaper editors refuse to carry stories or editorials critical of Islam, quite another when a government cannot bring itself to accurately describe the ideology of those behind acts of terror.
Such policies are systematically corroding the U.S. government's situational awareness by effectively imposing, via explicit or implicit gag orders, a system of self-censorship. The practical effect is that the truth about shariah and its adherents is suppressed, as is informed deliberation about appropriate responses to the threats it poses. This amounts to a collective act of submission to shariah by the national leadership of the U.S. that emboldens our enemies even as it disables our defenses against them.
Next Up: The Muslim Brotherhood: The Threat Doctrine Operationalized
October 16, 2010
Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 4 - Shariah and Jihad
This is the fourth in a series of posts summarizing the findings in Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well. Go to the bottom of this post for links to the first three parts.
Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, a church I had gone to in the past hosted a talk by a Muslim man and wife in which they were going to explain Islam to interested congregants. Being interested, I went. Among the other things they said was that in the modern world "jihad" had nothing to do with violence or warfare. These things were all in the past. Today, they said, jihad was a "peaceful inner struggle" that Muslims went through so as to purify themselves before God. Even my knowledge of the subject was sketchy, it seemed like fairly obvious that they were not presenting the whole truth.
And indeed my later investigations have shown that they were not. See "Islam," "Jihadism and the War of Ideas" under Categories at right.
With that in mind, in this part we will examine the relationship of Shariah and Jihadism as reported by the authors of t he report.
Shariah and Jihad
So what does "jihad" mean? In order to answer that question, the authors delve into the Quran, Hadith, and other Islamic texts. They stress that quoting individual verses is not useful unless context is provided. That is true of the Bible, so it makes sense that it's true for other religious texts as well. More importantly, perhaps, more contemporary Islamic scholars are quoted. It matters less what Mohammed meant at the time than what current Muslims think he meant.
After reviewing the Quran, the authors conclude that
In the Quran and in later Muslim usage, the word jihad is commonly followed by the expression fi sabil Allah, "in the path of Allah."97 By describing the warfare of jihad as something sanctioned by Allah himself, Islamic authorities set it apart from the common tribal warfare of the time and elevated it to a superior status as something sacred.
The hadith consists of the "words and deeds" of Mohammed as recorded by various Muslims at the ime he was alive. Their conclusion there is pretty straightforward too:
The hadiths are the second source of shariah. Throughout those hadiths considered authoritative, jihad means warfare.
As mentioned above, it's perhaps less important to consider what the Quran and Hadith say in some isolated intellectual sense than it is what modern-day Muslim thinkers say they meant. And among them there is no more important than the chief theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb (1906 - 1966). From his most influential book, Milestones:
The reasons for Jihad which have been described in...verses [from cited sacred texts] are these: to establish God's authority in the earth; to arrange human affairs according to the true guidance provided by God; to abolish all the Satanic forces and Satanic systems of life; to end the lordship of one man over others since all men are creatures of God and no one has the authority to make them his servants or to make arbitrary laws for them. These reasons are sufficient for proclaiming Jihad.
By "Satanic systems of life," Qutb meant Western culture. The "the lordship of
one man over others" means democracy, whereby we elect one person(s) to rule over others. to Qutb, only God can rule.
The theological underpinnings of jihad are somewhat different for Sunnis and Shias, but in the end it all comes out the same; jihad is violence against non-Muslims.
The authors "bottom line" conclusion?
There is no basis in doctrinal Islam for concluding that jihad means anything other than waging holy war for the implementation of shariah and the establishment of the caliphate throughout the world. Indeed, a scholarly consensus on the definition of jihad was achieved over a thousand years ago - because it was impossible not to have consensus on the question: Allah commanded it and Mohammed confirmed it. In both direct and indirect divine revelation, the meaning of jihad as holy war was made clear.
Finally, jihad is generally not obligatory for individual Muslims, but is only a "collective" one. It only becomes obligatory when "Muslim lands" are invaded. Of course, clever people can make just about any situation look like an invasion, and thus claim that jihad is not obligatory.
Stealth or Civilizational Jihad
As discussed in previous segments, jihad need not be violent. There is also a non-violent form of jihad in which they try to undermine Western societies from within. The Muslim Brotherhood calls this a "civilizational jihad," and author Robert Spencer deems it a "stealth jihad."
Because it is not violent, the civilizational jihad often gets a pass, especially from Western liberals. However, it's goal is the same as the terrorists practicing the violent form of jihad; reestablishment of a world-wide caliphate and subjugation of the world to shariah law.
Since we are most attuned to violent jihad, and because the non-violent type so often is excused, it is this form that is the most dangerous, and which will be discussed in more detail in in the report.
Next: Shariah's security-relevant attributes
October 9, 2010
Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 3 - The Threat Posed by Shariah
In the first two installments of this series I introduced and summarized the key findings of the recently released Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.
Shariah is a totalitarian system of laws that is antithetical to everything we in the West hold dear. Shariah cannot be reconciled with the freedoms and liberties, or our democratic (and republican, if you want to get technical) system of government that we have fought so hard and for so long to achieve.
Yet Shariah is being introduced into the West, slowly but surely. Amazingly, it is the political left, the liberals, who acquiesce in it's introduction. The claim is made that shariah is misunderstood, that it's simply the Muslim version of the early books of the Bible (Deuteronomy and Leviticus are usually cited) and therefore no different, or who are we to impose our values on them, or some such.
In reality Shariah is a huge threat to the West, and in the above mentioned report the authors tell us why.
What is Shariah?
The Arabic word "shariah," according to one modern English- language student textbook on Islam, "literally means a straight path (Quran 45:18) or an endless supply of water. It is the term used to describe the rules of the lifestyle (Deen) ordained for us by Allah. In more practical terms, shariah includes all the do's and dont's of Islam."
In other words, shariah is held by mainstream Islamic authorities - not to be confused with "radical," "extremist" or "political" elements said to operate at the fringes of Islam - to be the perfect expression of divine will and justice and thus is the supreme law that must comprehensively govern all aspects of Muslims' lives, irrespective of when or where they live. Shariah is characterized as a "complete way of life" (social, cultural, military, religious, and political), governed from cradle to grave by Islamic law.
It is certainly true that many Muslims ignore shariah, this does not change the facts about shariah. More, those who say there are multiple ways or practicing shariah or that there are different types of shariah are simply wrong.
The report discusses at some length the Koran, how the books within it are organized, and some concepts like abrogation whereby later passages annul earlier ones. The way abrogation plays out, for example, is that the earlier, "peace love and understanding" verses are annulled by the later violent "kill the infidels" ones. Long story short,
In practice, Quranic abrogation results in a known doctrinal footprint that subordinates the milder, more moderate verses of the Quran from the Meccan period of revelation, to the later and violent verses of the Medina period.
The Application of Shariah
How comprehensive is shariah?
Shariah contains categories and subjects of Islamic law called the branches of fiqh (literally, "understanding"). They include Islamic worship, family relations, inheritance, commerce, property law, civil (tort) law, criminal law, administration, taxation, constitution, international relations, war and ethics, and other categories.
That would include just about everything, then.
The authors survey a number of so-called "moderate," non-radicalized Islamic scholars, all of whom conclude that democracy is incompatible with Islam. The authors put it plainly; "Shariah is wholly at odds with U.S. national sovereignty, the U.S. Constitution, and the liberties it guarantees."
Yup. Now we just have to get more Americans to recognize that.
Next: Shariah and Jihad
October 7, 2010
Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 2 - Key Findings
Yesterday I introduced the recently released Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.
Today we'll take a look at some of the key findings in the report.
What about the moderates?
We constantly hear that "90 percent of Muslims are moderates" and so the threat is being overblown. The authors knock that one down easily:
Too many Muslims, to borrow a metaphor from Mao, provide the sea in which the jihadis swim. By offering little meaningful opposition to the jihadist agenda and by meekly submitting to it, a large number of Muslim communities and nations generally project a tacit agreement with jihadis' ends, if not with their means. At the very least, they exhibit an unwillingness to face the consequences of standing up to shariah's enforcers within Islam. Such consequences include the distinct possibility of being denounced as an apostate, a capital offense under shariah.
Even in cases where the "offense" doesn't merit death, there's simple social ostracization. No one likes to be an outcast.
Violent v Peaceful Jihad
One of the problems we face is that officialdom and the liberal elite have cast the problem as being just violent terrorists, and in some cases, just al Qaeda. The authors warn that the danger is just as great with the peaceful jihadists:
The first thing to understand about the jihadis who operate by stealth is that they have precisely the same dual objectives as the openly violent jihadists (including al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban): global imposition of shariah and reestablishment of the Islamic caliphate to rule in accordance with it. They differ only with respect to timing and tactics.
And indeed even this "peaceful" phase is only tactical; if they could take power violently now they would. More, they only reason they are peaceful is that they do not yet have the ability to take power violently, but when they do they will.
The Organization that is the Biggest Threat
It's not al Qaeda. Sure, they would explode a nuclear weapon in New York City if they could, but I think that danger is somewhat remote. More, it's one that most Americans recognize as a danger so we give our government the tools to deal with it.
No, the biggest danger is the Muslim Brotherhood
The most important entity promoting Islamic supremacism, shariah, and the caliphate through - at least for the moment - non-violent means is the Muslim Brotherhood (MB, or in Arabic, the Ikhwan). The MB defined this form of warfare as "civilization jihad" in its strategic document for North America, entitled the Explanatory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal for the Group, which was entered into evidence in the 2008 United States v. Holy Land Foundation trial. ...
Specifically, the document explained that the civilization jihadist process involves a "grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that
it is eliminated....
Here is why it is the biggest danger
1. It operates mostly peacefully, and we are mostly on the lookout for violent terrorists
2. It is huge, with hundreds of thousands or millions of members
3. It operates through hundreds or thousands of front groups
4. It's stated goal is the restoration of the caliphate and the imposition of Shariah on the world, including Europe and the United States.
5. It is extremely good at infiltrating "ememy" organizations and governments. The authors spell it out:
Muslim Brotherhood organizations conduct outreach to the government, law enforcement, media, religious community, and others for one reason: to subvert them in furtherance of their objective, which is implementation of Islamic law.
The Muslim Brotherhood(MB), then, is the foremost organization pushing the "civizational jihad" against the West. They are the tip of the spear of the modern jihad, and aim to take us down.
As will be made clear in future posts, the Brotherhood has infiltrated most mosques and Muslim organizations in the United States. They seize control and use them to push their agenda. That they are only peaceful now as a tactic but will turn to violence when the time is right is stated outright in captured MB documents.
First, become educated on the threat; it goes well beyond al Qaeda
Second, stop outreach programs to Muslim Brotherhood front organizations
Three, just as we ban members of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan from government jobs, we should do likewise with appropriate Muslim groups.
Four, prosecute outright sedition.
Five, make sure textbooks and classroom material in Muslim schools does not promote civiliational jihad or hate
Six, allow no shariah-zones or shariah courts in the United States. Nothing in the U.S. must be allowed to become "shariah compliant."
Seven, immigrants to the United States must agree that the U.S. Constitution is the law of the land and not shairiah.
Next: The Threat Posed by Shariah
October 6, 2010
Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 1 - Introduction
It has long been a theme of mine that while terrorism is certainly a problem, it is not the problem we have with regard to radical Islam. Terrorist attacks can and have hurt us, but as things stand now will not bring us down. This is quite in contrast to the Cold War, whereby a war with the Soviet Union would have devastated at least Europe, perhaps our country as well.
The similarity with the Cold War is that our current conflict is as much ideological as it is military. Walid Phares calls it a "War of Ideas," and he is certainly onto something.
Many will object that "few people actually believe in radical Islam," and we heat things along the lines of "only 10 percent of Muslims are radicals/sympathetic to the radicals," and that "only a miniscule number of Americans/Westerners buy into radical Islam so the danger is overblown."
But history is not made by taking a vote at every important moment. Only 1/3 of the American colonists wanted independence from Great Britain in 1776. The Jacobins were a minority of Frenchmen in 1789, and the Bolsheviks a minority of Russians in 1917. The quota on imported sugar in America today is not there because it has the broad support of Americans but because of the political influence of a small minority of sugar growers in Louisiana. Less than half of Americans even vote in most elections, and the more local the election is the fewer people vote. History and outcomes are made by determined and well-organized minorities.
So it is with radical Islam. It matters not a whit that most Muslims are not radicals. If the average Muslim moderates are not willing to stand up and demand that Muslim Brotherhood influence be purged from Muslim organizations, then the radicals win, no matter how few their numbers. Consider the fate of Molly Norris, the Seattle cartoonist who organized the "Everybody Draw Mohammed" day in 2010 as a protest against censorship. After threats she canceled the contest and apologized. No matter, the threats continued until she has changed her name and gone into hiding on the advice of the FBI. There was and is no support from Muslim groups, or hardly anyone outside of a few conservatives, for that matter, for the concept of free speech.
The danger is rather a sort of "creeping sharia" whereby we suffer the death of a thousand cuts rather than the one by the guillotine. Muslim radicals aim to deceive us as to their true intention, which is to spread their sharia(or "shariah") into the West, replacing our values with their own. In short, their objective is to take us over peacefully over a long period of time, not militarily all at once.
It was bad enough that President Bush called our current conflict a "War on Terror," as if terror was the big problem, but at least he seemed to get the danger from radical Islam. President Obama, obsessed like all liberals with political correctness, misses it entirely. The Administration has banned terms like "Islamic extremism" and "jihad" from national security documents. You can't win a war if you can't even properly identify your enemy.
What needs to be made clear is that while Samuel P. Huntington was certainly correct in that we are in a "Cash of Civilizations", I am most certainly not devolving into a "Christianity good - Islam bad." "Islam" is not evil, and ours is not a theological debate but one of values, or ideas.
Identifying the enemy is just what was done in the recently released Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.
In this series, I will examine the report. Below the fold is my part one.
From the preface of the report:
This study is the result of months of analysis, discussion and drafting by a group of top security policy experts concerned with the preeminent totalitarian threat of our time: the legal-political-military doctrine known within Islam as shariah. It is designed to provide a comprehensive and articulate "second opinion" on the official characterizations and assessments of this threat as put forth by the United States government.
The authors, under the sponsorship of the Center for Security Policy, have modeled this work on an earlier "exercise in competitive analysis" which came to be known as the "Team B" Report. That 1976 document challenged the then-prevailing official U.S. government intelligence ("Team A") estimates of the intentions and offensive capabilities of the Soviet Union and the policy known as détente that such estimates ostensibly justified.
As with all such think-tank reports, this study is based entirely from unclassified sources. Authors include such luminaries as former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Frank Gaffney, former Special Agent, Counter-Terrorism Division, Federal Bureau of
Investigation John Guandolo, Admiral (Ret) James Lyons, and former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey.
From the Introduction
Today, the United States faces what is, if anything, an even more insidious ideological threat: the totalitarian socio-political doctrine that Islam calls shariah. Translated as "the path," shariah is a comprehensive legal and political framework. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of shariah as a "religious" code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere - economic, social, military, legal and political.
Shariah is the crucial fault line of Islam's internecine struggle....
Shariah is not a private matter of personal conscience. It is not a guide to daily living. Nor is is it a matter of debate among Muslims, as far as the radicals or fundamentalists are concerned. All of society and government is to be ordered as per shariah. The U.S. Constitution, and indeed all laws outside of shariah are rendered invalid. Non-Muslims will be allowed to survive if they accept dhimmi status.
As such, Muslims are not to assimilate into the West or adopt our values. There is to be none of the "give and take" of values, language, and culture, that the United States has seen with our successive waves of immigrants. Muslims are to force us to adopt their ways in totality and that is that.
The authors make the point that
...regardless of what percentage of the global Islamic population adheres or otherwise defers to shariah (and some persuasive polling indicates that percentage is high in many Islamic countries1), that segment is punching well above its weight. For that reason, proponents of an expansionist shariah present a serious threat to the United States even if we assume, for argument's sake, that hopeful pundits are correct in claiming that shariah adherent Islam is not the preponderant Muslim ideology.
This said, they also stress the vital necessity of engaging Muslim reformers. We must "do what we can to empower Islam's authentic moderates and reformers." But "that cannot be done by following the failed strategy of fictionalizing the state of Islam in the vain hope that reality will, at some point, catch up to the benign fable."
Indeed. Political correctness is our greatest weakness.
Next: Key Findings
September 22, 2010
Ban the Burqa?
Burqa - also transliterated burkha, burka or burqua from Arabic: برقع burqu' or burqa') is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of hiding their body when in public. It is worn over the usual daily clothing (often a long dress or a shalwar kameez) and removed when the woman returns home (see purdah), out of the view of men that are not her family. The burqa is usually understood to be the woman's loose body-covering (Arabic: jilbāb), plus the head-covering (Arabic: ḥijāb, taking the most usual meaning), plus the face-veil (Arabic: niqāb).
Should the wearing of the burqa and niqab be banned in public?
Some European countries are moving in that direction. Both the French National Assembly (like our House) and Senate approved a ban on burqa-style dress recently, and the issue is before the Belgium parliament as well. It has been considered in the Netherlands but no action has been taken yet. A ban has been proposed in Britain and polls show it would be hugely popular.
In this post we'll let two conservative authors state their cases: Caire Berlinski in favor of a ban and Andy McCarthy against. Both articles have recently appeared in National Review .
First up is Clair Berlinski. Following are just enough excerpts to get the gist of her case:
Ban the Burqa
To do so is an offense to liberty; not to do so is a greater one
August 16, 2010
I moved here five years ago. In the beginning, I was sympathetic to the argument that Turkey's ban on headscarves in universities and public institutions was grossly discriminatory. I spoke to many women who described veiling themselves as an uncoerced act of faith. One businesswoman in her mid-30s told me that she began veiling in high school, defying her secular family. Her schoolteacher gasped when she saw her: "If Atatürk could see you now, he would weep!" Her pain at the memory of the opprobrium she had suffered was clearly real.
Why had she decided to cover herself? I asked. As a teenager, she told me, she had experienced a religious revelation. She described this in terms anyone familiar with William James would recognize. She began veiling to affirm her connection with the Ineffable. "Every time I look in the mirror," she said, "I see a religious woman looking back. It reminds me that I've chosen to have a particular kind of relationship with God."
Seen thus, the covering of the head is no more radical than many other religious rituals that demand symbolic acts of renunciation or daily inconvenience....
But that was when I could still visit the neighborhood of Balat without being called a whore. ...
Let's be perfectly frank. These bans (the ones in Europe mentioned at top) are outrages against religious freedom and freedom of expression. They stigmatize Muslims. No modern state should be in the business of dictating what women should wear. The security arguments are spurious; there are a million ways to hide a bomb, and one hardly need wear a burqa to do so. It is not necessarily the case that the burqa is imposed upon women against their will; when it is the case, there are already laws on the books against physical coercion.
The argument that the garment is not a religious obligation under Islam is well-founded but irrelevant; millions of Muslims the world around believe that it is, and the state is not qualified to be in the business of Koranic exegesis. The choice to cover one's face is for many women a genuine expression of the most private kind of religious sentiment. To prevent them from doing so is discriminatory, persecutory, and incompatible with the Enlightenment traditions of the West....
All true. And yet the burqa must be banned. All forms of veiling must be, if not banned, strongly discouraged and stigmatized. The arguments against a ban are coherent and principled. They are also shallow and insufficient. They fail to take something crucial into account, and that thing is this: If Europe does not stand up now against veiling -- and the conception of women and their place in society that it represents -- within a generation there will be many cities in Europe where no unveiled woman will walk comfortably or safely....
The cancerous spread of veiling has been seen throughout the Islamic world since the Iranian Revolution. I have watched it in Turkey. Through migration and demographic shift, neighborhoods that once were mixed have become predominantly veiled. The government has sought to lift prohibitions on the wearing of headscarves, legitimizing and emboldening advocates of the practice. Five years ago, the historically Jewish and Greek neighborhood of Balat, on the Golden Horn, was one in which many unveiled women could be seen. It is not anymore. Recently I visited a friend there who reluctantly suggested that I dress more modestly -- while in his apartment. His windows faced the street. He was concerned that his neighbors would call the police and report a prostitute in their midst.
Veiling cannot be disambiguated from the problem of Islam's conception of women, and this conception is directly tied to gender apartheid and the subjugation and abuse of women throughout the Islamic world, the greatest human-rights problem on the planet, bar none. ...
Banning the burqa is without doubt a terrible assault on the ideal of religious liberty. It is the sign of a desperate society. No one wishes for things to have come so far that it is necessary.
But they have, and it is.
As someone once said (the phrase has been attributed to several people) "The Constitution is not a suicide pact." Put bluntly, there are certain situations where you do what you gotta do.
Berlinski states clearly that such a ban violates our concepts of civil liberties, but the situation is so dire that it is necessary. I won't rehash the situation in Europe now, at this point there is so much information out there that you either understand the danger or you don't.
More, she admits freely that many women voluntarily take up the burqa; depending on your definition of "voluntary," and here is where things get tricky. Where is the line between free will and subtle yet pervasive brainwashing? Between doing something out of religious reverence and an unadmitted and almost unconscious fear of being called a whore?
There is no doubt that fundamentalist Islam is spreading. Egyptian-American author Nonie Darwish wrote about how the people of her home country have gotten much more fundamentalist in her book Now They Call Me Infidel, and how shocked she was by the changes she saw there in her latest visit as opposed to what the country was like when she was a child. This series of photographs of the graduating class of Cairo University in 1959, 1978, 1995, and 2004 are absolutely shocking. In 1959 the graduates all wore modern, Western dress. IN 2004 the style was middle-ages Islamic.
So put your scruples about civil liberties aside, she says. Western Civilization itself is in mortal danger, and if we do not stand up to Islamism now, "within a generation there will be many cities in Europe where no unveiled woman will walk comfortably or safely."
A serious argument to be taken seriously.
Just as serious is Andy McCarthy, who makes the case the burqa-style dress should not be banned. As I suppose everyone knows by now, McCarthy was the lead prosecutor in the trial of Omar Abdel Rahman, otherwise known as "Blind Sheikh," who along with a half-dozen others were the masterminds behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and additional plots to bomb five New York City landmarks: the United Nations building, an FBI office, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge. Today McCarthy is a writer and host on many TV and radio shows, speaking mostly on the issue of Islamic radicalism.
Following are enough excerpts from his recent article to make his case:
There Oughtn't Be a Law
The burqa ban won't save France, and preemptive capitulation won't save us September 18, 2010
République française has banned the burqa. Along with the face-covering veil (the niqab), the burqa is the garment with which Muslim women conceal their bodies from head to toe. More accurately, it is the instrument by which their bodies are concealed. In fundamentalist Muslim communities, the burqa is not worn by a woman's free choice. It is imposed, a product of cultural submission that reflects the subordinate status -- in a real sense, the chattel status -- to which women are consigned in Islamist ideology. ...
What about the women who are extorted into cloaking themselves under pressure from a culture characterized by arranged marriages and honor killings? These women are pressured to submit because others have submitted. ...These women and girls are in France, but they are not free. They are "shut out from social life and robbed of any identity," as (French president Nicolas) Sarkozy puts it, and the burqa is their moving prison, enveloping every step. It extends the republic's 750 zones urbaines sensibles, "sensitive urban areas" -- Islamic enclaves over which the French state has effectively ceded sovereignty to sharia authorities.
This is a social problem, not a legal one. Law is the steel by which a body politic reinforces its vibrant, pre-existing mores. It is not a device for creating mores or for bringing to heel those who are at war with the body politic. ...For a dying society, though, a law, like the burqa law, is about as useful as a band-aid.
Islamist ideologues are ascendant because they are moving what they are proud to call their "civilizational jihad" against the West from the battlefield, where they know they cannot win, to our institutions, where the scales tip in the Islamists' favor. They are culturally confident. We, on the other hand, are ambivalent about whether our culture deserves to survive. No law can solve that problem. ...
The ethos of preemptive capitulation is all around us. It ran through last year's refusal by Yale University Press to publish Jytte Klausen's book on Muslim rioting over cartoon depictions of Mohammed until the book was purged of the cartoons. Even such classical representations of the prophet as Gustave Doré's illustration of Dante's Inferno, which portrays Mohammed as a "sower of religious discord," had to be censored out of fear that the religion of peace would go medieval. ... And the ethos is exploited by Imam Feisal Rauf, who now concedes the Ground Zero mosque was a bad idea but insists we must accept it lest "the radicals" explode in murderous rage.
It is the ethos of self-loathing. That is our burqa: our feebleness, our lack of cultural confidence. To shed it, we will have to rediscover why the principles it cloaks are superior and worth fighting for. If we don't, the law won't save us any more than it will save France.
McCarthy is saying bully; you're wasting your time with such a ban. At best it simply won't achieve your objective of stopping the spread of Islamism, at worst it deceives us into thinking that we have achieved something where we have not. We are much better served, he says, by facing the problem head on and telling the Islamists to accept Western values or get out of our countries.
In this case I think that Berlinksi is right and the European countries are right to ban burqa-style dress. Alone this won't save them, and McCarthy is right in that they still need to get their heads out of the sand and face the problem squarely. The bans might just give them that false sense of security that worries him.
But at the same time the bans might encourage Westerners to resist the spread of Islamism. It might give them hope that yes, we don't have to just sit here and take it from the radicals. And it might give Muslim women the strength to resist their oppression, and to realize that they don't have to take it either.
Further, it may send a signal to the Islamists that no, they may not import their more contemtible and degrading customs into our countries. Our message must be; if you accept Western values you are welcome to stay, otherwise leave.
Even so, of course, McCarthy may prove to be right. His point that the West has a social problem and not a political one is not one to be taken lightly. And most of all, until we realize that they have declared a "civilizational jihad" against us, we shall forever be blind as to the very nature of the enemy.
August 25, 2010
Reform Muslims, not Moderates, are the Answer
I've long pushed for us to embrace reform-minded Islam over simply "moderate" Islam. As such, those who search the category "Islam" at right will be rewarded with many posts on the subject.
The difference between moderate and reform Islam is pretty straightforward. Moderate Islam sees terror and extremism (as in Hamas) as big problems, but denies that Islam itself has anything to do with it and that the religion has simply been hijacked by a few extremists. Reform Islam says that the problem is that Islam needs the sort of Reformation and Enlightenment that the West experienced several centuries ago.
Unfortunately, far too many in the West do not see this distinction. They are infatuated with moderate Islam and do not see the need for any deeper intellectual or academic debate within the religion. While I understand that this is due to the standard pandering that comes with political correctness, I've always thought it odd coming from people whose way of life was formed by the great reform movements that took place in the West.
In a recent column Andy McCarthy wrote about how moderate Islam is not the answer because it ignores some realities of Islam:
Inventing Moderate Islam
It can't be done without confronting mainstream Islam and its sharia agenda.
August 24, 2010 4:00 A.M.
'Secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society." The writer was not one of those sulfurous Islamophobes decried by CAIR and the professional Left. Quite the opposite: It was Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual guide and a favorite of the Saudi royal family. He made this assertion in his book, How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah, an excerpt of which was published by the Saudi Gazette just a couple of months ago.
This was Qaradawi the "progressive" Muslim intellectual, much loved by Georgetown University's burgeoning Islamic-studies programs. Like Harvard, Georgetown has been purchased into submission by tens of millions of Saudi petrodollars. In its resulting ardor to put Americans at ease about Islam, the university somehow manages to look beyond Qaradawi's fatwas calling for the killing of American troops in Iraq and for suicide bombings in Israel. Qaradawi, they tell us, is a "moderate." In fact, as Robert Spencer quips, if you were to say Islam and secularism cannot co-exist, John Esposito, Georgetown's apologist-in-chief, would call you an Islamophobe; but when Qaradawi says it, no problem -- according to Esposito, he's a "reformist."
And he's not just any reformist. Another Qaradawi fan, Feisal Rauf, the similarly "moderate" imam behind the Ground Zero mosque project, tells us Qaradawi is also "the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today."
The sad fact, the fact no one wants to deal with but which the Ground Zero mosque debate has forced to the fore, is that Qaradawi is a moderate. So is Feisal Rauf, who endorses the Qaradawi position -- the mainstream Islamic position -- that sharia is a nonnegotiable requirement. Rauf wins the coveted "moderate" designation because he strains, at least when speaking for Western consumption, to paper over the incompatibility between sharia societies and Western societies.
Qaradawi and Rauf are "moderates" because we've abandoned reason. Our opinion elites are happy to paper over the gulf between "reformist" Islam and the "reformist" approval of mass-murder attacks. That's why it matters not a whit to them that Imam Rauf refuses to renounce Hamas: If you're going to give a pass to Qaradawi, the guy who actively promotes Hamas terrorists, how can you complain about a guy who merely refuses to condemn the terrorists?
Meanwhile, individual Muslim reformers are branded apostates, meaning not only that they are discredited, but that their lives are threatened as well. The signal to other Muslims is clear: Follow the reformers and experience the same fury. As Qaradawi put it in the 2005 interview, public apostates are "the gravest danger" to Islamic society; therefore, Muslims must snuff them out, lest their reforms "spread like wildfire in a field of thorns."
Today, "moderate Islam" is an illusion. There is hardly a spark, much less a wildfire. Making moderation real will take more than wishing upon a star. It calls for a gut check, a willingness to face down not just al-Qaeda but the Qaradawis and their sharia campaign. It means saying: Not here.
The proposed mosque near to ground zero is not really a religious institution. It would be -- as many mosques throughout the nation are -- a terrorist recruitment, indoctrination and training center. It is not the worship of Islam that is the problem. It is the efforts to advance Sharia Law with its requirement of Jihad and violence that is the nub of the issue.
There is a global effort to advance Sharia Law and make it the legal system of the world. Most major banks and financial institutions offer Sharia Compliant Funds which have their investments vetted by the most fundamentalist and reactionary of clerics to assure that they advance Sharia Law. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the founder of the proposed Mosque, helps to prepare a Sharia Index which rates countries on their degree of compliance with Sharia Law. In the United Kingdom, many courts have recognized Sharia as the governing law on matters between two Muslims.
Not only is Sharia Law a vicious anti-female code which orders death by stoning, promotes child marriage, decriminalizes abuse of women, and gives wives no rights in divorce, but it also explicitly recognizes the duty of all Muslims to wage Jihad against non-believers and promotes violence to achieve its goals. In this respect, violent Jihad is as inherent in Sharia Law as revolution is in Communist doctrine.
But there are non-Sharia mosques where peaceful and spiritual Muslims worship God in their own way without promoting violence. A soon-to-be published study funded by Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, found that 20% of the mosques in the United States have no taint of Sharia and simply promote peaceful worship. But 80% are filled with violent literature, Sharia teachings, and promotion of Jihad and its inevitable concomitant -- terrorism.
Terror is a problem, but only one aspect of it. People such as Imam Rauf want to slowly introduce sharia into the West, one step at a time. They do so under the guise of "diversity" and "tolerance" and "multiculturalism;" which is to say they are using our own policies against us. There is a sort of creeping sharia whereby a totalitarian system of oppression is slowly being introduced into the West, and oddly it is mostly the left which is aiding and abetting the movement.
As the title of one of McCarthy's books says, many have a Willful Blindness about all this. I can explain it a million ways, but in the end you either see the danger or you don't.
This video illustrates the problem perfectly. Imam Dawoud Kringle of the New York State prison system is portrayed as a "moderate," and mouths all the politically correct things about how Islam and terror are incompatible, indeed how Islam forbids terror. Yet when asked a simple question, "Is Hamas a terrorist organization?" he won't give a direct answer. Start watching at 3:00
Pathetic. Andy McCarthy, who is debating Kringle in the clip, commented afterwards that
This is a game that sharia-promoting Islamists like Feisal Rauf have raised to an art form. As I explain in the debate, it is why they can look you in they eye, claim in all apparent earnestness that they condemn "terrorism," and yet excuse Hamas, call for the "one-state solution" for Israel, and support the Iranian theocracy -- the leading terrorist state in the world. They do not consider the killing of non-Muslims whom they portray as opposing Islam to be terrorism -- they call that "resistance." They know if they merely say they deplore "terrorism," the media and the Left will swoon and call them "moderates." But what you think you're hearing, and what they're actually saying, are two very different things.
July 6, 2010
Obama's Screwed Up Priorities
Unemployment is at a whopping 9.6%, the oil spill in the gulf continues unabated, and Iran merrily continues to build an atomic bomb. And what our our president's priorities?
Rather than enforce our immigration laws, Obama is suing those who do:
Justice Dept. expected to sue Ariz. on immigration, citing 'preemption' grounds
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 6, 2010; A02
The Justice Department has decided to file suit against Arizona on the grounds that the state's new immigration law illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives, law enforcement sources said Monday.
The lawsuit, which three sources said could be filed as early as Tuesday, will invoke for its main argument the legal doctrine of "preemption," which is based on the Constitution's supremacy clause and says that federal law trumps state statutes. Justice Department officials believe that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility, the sources said.
A federal lawsuit will dramatically escalate the legal and political battle over the Arizona law, which gives police the power to question anyone if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person is an illegal immigrant. The measure has drawn words of condemnation from President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and opposition from civil rights groups. It also has prompted at least five other lawsuits.
The truth is that Obama and those who oppose Arizona's S.B. 1070 are in favor of illegal immigration and just don't want to admit it.
This is easily proven by asking anyone who is against S.B. 1070 on "civil rights" grounds to write a law themselves which achieve the same thing while preserving the civil liberties they so claim to cherish.
Of course, they never do.
This next one is just bizarre:
NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World
July 05, 2010
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his "foremost" mission as the head of America's space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.
Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA's orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.
Charles Krauthammer says it's "a new height in fatuousness" and I couldn't agree more.
February 1, 2010
"The Steady Erosion of Women's Rights in Egypt"
In Now They Call Me Infidel, Nonie Darwish tells of growing up in a relatively secular and Westernizing Egypt in the 1950s, only to see the country take a sharp Islamist turn as the decades wore on. The experience led her to flee her native country, and eventually the faith of her birth, for the United States and Christianity.
Sometimes the level of freedom or liberty in a society is not obvious by simply looking around. Economic freedom, to say nothing of freedom of speech and press, cannot be easily discerned by simply walking down the street. But other times there are visible signs that make it painfully obvious where a society or nation ranks. We're all familiar with communist and Nazi propaganda posters and statues. Huge signs of the head of state are a sign of a cult of personality that is a telling sign of totalitarian or authoritarian societies.
These are still around, but in today's world we face a new threat to our liberties; a fundamentalist or radical Islam. One of the first things that happens in a society infected with that disease is the degradation of women's rights, and the most visible sign of that is the wearing of the veil, whether the full burka or the head-covering-only hijab.
Chester, over at Pajamas Media , has documented the degradation of women's rights in Egypt through four photographs sent to him by a friend. They show the graduating class of Cairo University in 1959, 1978, 1995, and 2004.
click on each photo to enlarge
Class of 1959
Class of 1978
Class of 1995
Class of 2004
Commenting on the photos, Mark Steyn says that
Whenever I give a speech on Islam, some or other complacenik always says, "Oh, but they haven't had time to Westernize. Just you wait and see. Give it another 20 years, and the siren song of Westernization will work its magic." This argument isn't merely speculative, it's already been proved wrong by what's happened over the last 20 years. Compare the Cairo University class of 1959 with those of the 21st century, and then see if you can recite your inevitablist theories of social evolution with a straight face. The idea that social progress is like the wheel or the internal combustion engine -- once invented, it can never be uninvented -- is one of the laziest assumptions of the Western Left.
October 19, 2009
The Demographics of Islam and the West
This is a short must-watch video
The demographic numbers are spot on as near as I can tell. More Muslims are a problem because by and large they are not assimilating and adopting Western ideas. My only problem with the video is at the end when the solution presented is that we should try and convert them to Christianity. As a Christian I want everyone to accept Christ, but as a practical matter it's not going to happen.
September 7, 2009
Book Review - The Confrontation: Winning The War Against Future Jihad
All wars have their center of gravity, that one vital thing that determines victory or defeat. During the American Revolution it was whether the colonists could stop bickering and form a continental army commanded by a competent general. From the North's perspective during the Civil War, it was whether Lincoln could find a general who would fight before anti-war sentiment forced a negotiated peace. After the initial stages of World War II it was mostly just a question of firepower. The Cold War was more complicated, but it and the others all had one thing in common; everyone agreed that we were at war, and they no one had any difficulty identifying the adversary (this excepting domestic anti-American leftist elements during the Cold War).
The situation is different today because so many, including the administration in power in the United States, do not even see their country as being at war. Last month John Brenna, President Obama's top homeland security and counterterrorism official, said that the administration will no longer use the terms "war on terror," "jihadists," or "global war." The only acceptable formulation, he said, was to say that "we are at war with al Qaeda."
It's not just President Obama, either. This has been the position of American liberals and European leftists since 9-11. To their way of thinking, President Bush wildly overreacted to a simple, if large, terrorist incident. They supported the invasion of Afghanistan (though are having second thoughts now), but beyond that think that the problem can be addressed as a criminal matter through the legal system.
Walid Phares says that this is completely wrongheaded. We are in a long term war with a worldwide Jihadist movement that aims to completely destroy us and has the means to do so. In The Confrontation: Winning The War Against Future Jihad, Phares lays out his case in well-organized format and in easy to read prose.
In Phares first book on the subject, Future Jihad (2005), he explained the basics of who the Jiihadist enemy was, where they came from, what they believed, and what their goals were. In his next book, War of Ideas (2007), he explained the competing strategies of the two camps; one dedicated to democracy and the other to global jihad and the reestablishment of the Caliphate. The Confrontation builds on these two and as the title implies adds his ideas on how to fight and win the war against the Jihadists. While it is not an absolute prerequisite to read the first two books before tackling this one, it would be helpful to read Future Jihad so as to have a good grasp on the history and structure of the jihadist movements.
Professor Phares himself has the scholarly background to speak with the authority that few can muster. A native of Lebanon, he obtained a degree in law and political science from St Joseph and the Lebanese Universities of Beirut. Phares emigrated to the United States in 1990 and obtained a Masters degree in International Law from the Université de Lyon in France, and a Ph.D. in international relations and strategic studies from the University of Miami. He has testified before the US Congress, the European Parliament and Commission, and the UN Security Council, and has appeared on most major news outlets around the world, including NN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, C-Span, BBC TV (English-Arabic), Sky News, France 24 (English, Arabic, French), CTV, CBC, Canada Global TV, al Jazeera, al Hurra, Abu Dhabi TV, al Arabiya, LBCI, Russia Today TV, Voice of America TV, as well as local ABC, CBS, PBS, NBC, and others. He has taught at taught at Florida International University and at Saint Joseph University in Beirut, and is currently a Senior Fellow and the director for Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington. He has published numerous books and magazines in Arabic, French and English.
Outline of the Problem
A brief recap for new readers unfamiliar with the situation; Jihad means holy war against infidels, with the objective of reestablishing the Caliphate which lasted from the seventh century to 1923. The two branches of the Sunni Jihad are the Wahabists based in Saudi Arabia, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which started in Egypt but is a broad based movement with branches in many countries. On the Shi'ite side are the Khumeinists, based obviously in Iran but with branches in Syria and Lebanon(Hezbollah). Their objective is to establish a regional Imamate.
The method Jihad is about more than just using terrorism, which to them is a military action. They aim to undermine the West through a variety of means, including massive immigration, disinformation about their religion and goals, and spreading their culture through a sort of "creeping Sharia."
The Goal of the Jihad
One of Phares' most important points is that the essential goal of the Sunni Jihad is not to spread Sharia law internally in existing nations. Rather, they reject the current world order in it's entirety, and want in it's place a worldwide Caliphate. There is simply no room in their world for infidels in other than dhimmi status, let alone our current nation-state system complete with modern concepts of international law and everything that goes with it.
To them, there is no break from ancient or medieval times and today. They see what they are doing today as directly linked to and descended from the seventh century beginnings of the spread of Islam. They don't see themselves as starting anything new but as continuing an ancient battle against the infidels.
This rejection of the modern nation-state system and desire to reestablish the Caliphate is in fact the central difference between the Jihadist Muslims and those who accept the modern world.
As a step along the path of reestablishing the Calphiate, he objective of the Jihad is to force the United States to withdraw from the world politically, economically, and most important, militarily. In short, they wish to weaken our resolve and force us into isolationism. U.S. withdrawal will make it easier for the jihadists to bring down secular governments in the Muslim world.
Since 9-11 many in the West have started to sense the danger of radical Islam, even if they don't fully understand it. In the Muslim world, most people see the danger and experience the oppression of the radicals full well, but do not understand why, because for all their talk of human rights Westerners do not try to help them.
9-11 also saw the start of the third War of Ideas. Our conflict with the Salafists and Khumeinists is not just on the battlefield of bombs and bullets; it is also in the intellectual world of books, newspapers and the Internet. The side that convinces the next generation that it's ideas are better is winning.
The key to winning the War on Terror is understanding the nature of the threat. If we miss it, we will lose because we will fail to resist. If we grasp it's essence, we stand a chance.
One of the biggest problems facing the West is that most of our own elites and intellectuals misunderstand the nature of the threat. As such, the public at large is misinformed.
Today we are at a crossroads; either the jihadists will undermine and destroy the democracies, or the democracies will defeat the jihadists.
The party that defines a conflict enjoys a huge advantage. Because this is in large extent a war of ideas, propaganda, or the message, is hugely important. The tactics of the jihadists reflect a saying in the Arab world; "They hit me and cried, beat me to court, and sued me." In other words, strike the other guy first, then cry that you're the real victim, and trumpet this in the media. Be the first to define the conflict and paint the other side as the aggressors.
Behind the Jihad
The Jihad requires money, and 90 percent of it comes from the oil revenues of the gulf states. As such, the whole "root causes" of terrorism line is completely manufactured. It is the wealthy elites who are pushing Jihad, not the poor and downtrodden. If these elites really cared about poor Arabs, they would spend their oil wealth on improving their lives, not on promoting the Jihad. Instead of insisting that the money they send to Gaza be spent on weapons, they ought to insist that it be spent on improving infrastructure and building an economy. Instead of providing an eduction that would help young people get practical jobs, , they send them to madrassas where they learn Jihad.
The Effects of Oil Money
The effect of oil money is something Phares calls Economic jihadi Imperialism, or EJI for short. It is, he says, a sort of economic imperialism which starts with a hard core Jihadist idiology and ends with attempting to use that money to influence the West. Rather than spend money improving the lot of their own people, these elites would rather spend it undermining Western liberal democracies.
One effect of oil money has been to prevent the West from coming to that aid of the oppressed peoples of the Middle East. When the Middle East Studies Departments at major Western universities are funded by Saudi Arabia, no one at them is going to criticize the human rights record of their benefactors.
The oil embargo of 1973 sent a huge shock through the West. We realized that our economies were dependent on a steady flow of petroleum, and that our Middle Eastern suppliers had the ability to do significant damage to us when they so choose. The consequence is that we did not wish to examine too closely, let alone criticize, the human rights records of Arab countries.
The problem we face is that as long as oil dollars go to funding jihadist movements, the world will be at risk. Phares identifies several strategies that we should use to break this link. Most involve obtaining oil from other, non-jihadist countries, investigating alternative energy sources, promoting liberalism in their lands, and insisting that they spend their money on humanitarian needs and not on Jihad. The latter can be done through regulation that would prevent companies that do business in the U.S. from, say, building luxury hotels in Muslim country X until said country A) gets out of the business of funding Jihad, and B) spends more of it's own money on the poor and oppressed in Muslim countries.
One of the primary objectives of the jihadi networks is to prevent the West from focusing on human rights abuses in Muslim countries. They do this by constantly attacking our foreign policies and alleged human rights problems and thus manage to keep us on the defensive. One of their tactics is to exploit Western guilt over our colonial days and use that to paralyze us into inaction on the human rights front.
Liberty or Sharia
We do not have the choice of sealing our borders and ignoring the Muslim world, or any other part of the world, for that matter. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Neither in this day and age can we say "that part of the world is none of our business." This might have worked two hundred years ago, but modern travel and economic ties ensure that what happens in other parts of the world will affect us. More, it is simply impossible to "seal the borders" against (legal) immigration and business travel, so Europe and the United States will be influenced by the Middle East whether we like it or not.
Further, the idea that if we just kill or arrest enough terrorists we can make the problem go away is wrongheaded also. There is a "root cause" of jihadi terrorism, but it is not either the economic poverty or "legacy of colonialism" that some imagine. Rather, it is political and religious oppression coupled with the control of propaganda organs by radicals that breeds the extremism that is the danger.
The solution, Phares says, is political and economic liberty for Muslims. As the historian Bernard Lewis said, "bring them freedom or they will destroy you." By "them" Lewis mean the Arab and Iranian victims of the jihadists. By "they" he meant the jihadists themselves. Stated another way, either we bring democracy to the them, or they will bring Jihad to us.
Seen through this lens the American invasion of Afghanistan and especially Iraq make perfect sense. The strategy was at once to bring the war directly into the enemy camp, to contain the terrorists, and plant the seeds of liberty and democracy.
Of all the strategies we adopt to win the war, at the top of the list must be the liberation of the peoples of the Middle East. We must state this forthrightly and purse this goal openly. It would be arrogant and indeed immoral of us to think that only Westerners (and a few select others like the Japanese) are deserving of liberty, when all peoples, including those of the Middle East, are just as deserving.
As mentioned earlier, the two arms of the Sunni Jihad are the Saudi-based Wahabists and the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood (although the latter has branches in many countries). Both, however, share the same goal of reestablishing the Caliphate. They aim to do this by first weakening the Western democracies and our will to intervene in the Middle East. Their greatest fear is that we will start to support domestic democracy movements which threaten existing regimes as well as the Jihad itself.
Russian foreign policy with regard to the Jihad has been ambiguous. On the one hand they seem to recognize the problem of terrorism and Muslim fundamentalism. On the other they sell weapons to Iran an Syria, two state sponsors of terrorism.
It is in the long-term interests of Russia to work vigorously to defeat Jihadism. Unfortunately, for the most part they are pursuing the short term goal of seeking financial gain by working with Iran. Oddly, they seem to recognize the problem to a greater extent than Europe or America, but are unable to use their intellectual knowledge to see past the short-term economic benefits. Phares believes that we can influence Russia to change their policies, and offers several suggestions.
The jihadists saw the collapse of the Soviet Union as divinely inspired as well as a message from God that He was on their side. It was for this reason that there was a split in the Jihad in the early 90s after a series of meetings in Khartoum, Sudan. The hotheads wanted immediate terrorist action against the United States and secular Arab regimes, while cooler heads argued for a long-term strategy of infiltration. Phares calls the hotheads "Combat Salafists" and the latter "Realist Salafists." They share the same ideology and goals and differ only on methodology. The hotheads went into al Qaeda and the rest, as they say, is history.
The United Nations and Alliances Among Nations
The United Nations is at best useless. Kofi Annan has said that the UN "stands neutral between and those fighting it." The UN criticizes democracies when it believes it sees them doing wrong, but largely ignores human rights abuses in Muslim countries. This must change if progress is to be made.
However, the end the U.S. cannot do it alone. We must use every tool at our disposal to recruit other nations to create a united front against the jihadists. As such, the solutions Phares proposes involve alliances outside of the UN structure.
Phares has several ideas for a diplomatic offensive against the jihadists. One is to hire and put into place a new generation of diplomats who are educated in the ways of our enemies. Second is for Congress to "set the guidelines for a new foreign policy based on suporting human rights, self-determination, pluralism, and democratization on the one hand and a confrontation with the regimes, movements, and ideologies that promote threats to international law, security, peace, and liberty on the other." Third is to use the first to to actively support democracy movements and combat the jihadists.
The Middle East as "Middle East"
Phares calls the Middle East and surrounding areas a "Middle Earth." Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman are constitutional monarchies. They are mostly at peace and are moving, albeit slowly, towards pluralistic societies. Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, and Mauritania are republics moving from authoritarianism to pluralism. Syria and Libya are ruled by nationalist socialist dictators. Saudi Arabia and Iran are Islamist theocracies. Iraq is a fragile democracy. Qatar is a constitutional monarchy but harbors an Islamist al Jazeera. Lebanon is a battlefield. Israel and Palestine are in conflict, with the latter divided between factions with varying ideologies.
In general the region is plagued with extremist ideologies and violent groups. What characterizes all of the countries is that after the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate all failed to liberalize and turned authoritarian to one degree or another. Almost all of the people are oppressed and persecuted, with civil liberties being almost nonexistent.
One often hears the term "the Arab street" with regard the the "righteous anger" that would "spontaneously" erupt in response to this or that action by the United States. In reality, the term was created by Jihadi propagandists with the express purpose of manipulating the West. Scenes of protesting militants are as often as not manufactured. It is, after all, just about impossible to know what the average Arab wants when he or she lives under a dictator.
The Vital Need for Democracy
Before 9/11 Western elites excused the lack of democracy in the Middle East because of our support for authoritarian governments. Western governments were criticized as being hypocritical; we wanted democracy for ourselves but denied it to others. After 9/11 these same people now oppose American attempts to spread democracy, especially in Iraq. The argument is now that we are "imposing" democracy on them and "interfering in their internal affairs."
Democratization will be opposed and moving toward liberty will not be easy. Both Western elites and Jihadist Muslims will create roadblocks.
But all people deserve freedom, and we must develop a more humane policy towards the people who live in these oppressive countries. Middle Easterners are no less deserving of liberty than Europeans, Americans, Asians, or Africans. More, these peoples have a natural right to learn about democracy and liberty.
Certainly we cannot "force democracy on other people," but this is a slogan, not a policy. But by the same token, freedom and liberty must be options before anyone can choose to adopt them. We can and must work to create the conditions where they can grow.
The War of Ideas
Information, or propaganda, is a large part of our fight against the jihadists. They try hard to get out their message, and we must be ready at all times to effectively counter their misinformation. We can start by exposing the lie that Jihad' does not mean "an internal spiritual journey" or "spiritual experience," but rather means conflict and war. Unfortunately, their deceptive messages are spread not only by Muslim jihadists, but by their apologists in the West as well.
The Salafists do not represent the majority of Muslims, and indeed there are many Muslim dissidents. The struggle between the jihadists and the reformers is in it's early stages. The forces of reaction currently favor the status quo.
We in the West must educate our citizens about the dangers of the Jihadist movement. We must confront not only the forces of Jihad, but their Western apologists as well. Finally, we must identify and support Muslim dissidents who are working for reform.
Vast numbers of Muslims live in poverty and are politically oppressed, yet oil money is used for Jihad rather than to relieve their suffering. Education, jobs, scientific advancement, infrastructure, everything is subordinated to the Jihad.
Of the many domestic threats we face, one that Phares discusses that I have not seen elsewhere is that of "Urban Jihad." His study of various sources, including training manuals and other documents is that the Combat Salafists wish to establish "urban armies who, when the signal was given, attack and create widespread chaos. Their objective would be to turn our cities into Beirut in the 1970s/80s or Baghdad in 2006. We have already seen small-scale examples of this attempt with the Virginia "Paintball jihadists" and the Fort Dix cell in New Jersey, as well as at various training camps in places from Oregon to Florida.
Right now, domestic jihadists/terrorist cells must rely on militants who come into the United States legally or otherwise. The "breaking point," Phares speculates, will come when they are able to recruit enough militants from domestic sources, and can from there grow exponentially. At that point they may pull the trigger and launch the "Urban Jihad" scenario.
The existence and indeed expansion of Jihadism in Europe has been an embarrassment to European leaders. When Phares visited them in the 1980s and 90s they dismissed that such a thing could happen in their countries. After 9/11, and with the extremism of many Muslim leaders in Europe now undeniable, they are taking a second look at the situation and now admit that they too are vulnerable.
The objectives of the jihadists in Europe vary from one part of the continent to another. In the south their claims are mainly territorial, as they wish to reclaim "lost" lands such as the Spain and parts of what was Yugoslavia. In the rest of Europe the initial objective is a change in foreign policy, and following that the establishment of self-governing enclaves. They wish to neutralize and then convert Europe.
Both the Wahabists and Muslim Brotherhood are also spending tremendous resources in trying to spread Islam, not just through immigration into Europe (and to a lesser extent America) but by converting the natives.
Phares describes his travels though out Europe, and concludes that the younger generation "gets it" to a greater extent than older people, and that more people overall "get it" in eastern Europe than in the western part of the continent. The east-west dichotomy is probably do to the former's more recent experience with totalitarianism; they are able to recognize the approaching danger because they just experienced a form of it.
As in America, 9/11 and to a greater extent 3/11 and 7/7 "woke up" many ordinary people and security experts. But elites, particularly those who inhabit the Brussels bureaucracy, still speak the language of political correctness. To them, as with the newly installed Obama administration, words such as "Islamic terrorism," "War on Terror," and "War of Ideas," to say nothing of "Jihad," are completely banned.
The first thing Europeans need to do to defeat the jihadists, Phares says, it to properly describe and label the problem. The second step is to pass legislation that will "equate Jihad with racism because it "calls for a forcible sectoral division of existing democratic societies, and identifies Salafi and Khumeini Jihadism with terrorism on the ground that it calls for violence against segnmemts of these societies."
9-11 And Beyond
The American reaction to 9/11 was unexpected. As Phares explains in Future Jihad, bin Laden thought that the United States would
1) Lash out incoherently, killing tremendous amounts of civilian Muslims
2) Descend into domestic chaos
3) Be paralyzed into inaction
That numbers one and two are somewhat contradictory tells us more about the mindset of the Combat Salafists than anything else.
However, the United States executed a precise strike into Afghanistan which deprived al Qaeda and the Taliban of a base country from which to conduct operations. As such, they have shifted priorities to contain and ultimately reverse U.S. interventions in the Middle East.
While the West was debating our reasons for invading Iraq, the jihadists knew perfectly well what the threat was; the establishment of a democracy within "their" realm. They knew that a successful democracy venture would lead to the overthrow of dictatorial Arab regimes (through slow evolution if not immediate revolution) whether they be secular or theocratic. Thus, the battle for Tehran and Damascus was and is taking place inside Iraq.
Middle East Roots
The Arab League was formed in 1945 and adopted surprisingly democratic goals. It failed to achieve them for the following reasons
1) They put Pan-Arabism ahead of democracy
2) They adopted a frankly racist attitude towards non-Arabs, freezing Kurds, Berbers, Copts, Assyrians and other minorities out of any steps toward progress
3) They focused on destroying Israel, which spawned extremism in and of itself
4) They allowed Jihadism to spread freely
Understanding these will allow us not to make these same mistakes again.
Despite the importance of Europe and the United States, the war against Jihadism will be won or lost in the Greater Middle East. Two factors will determine who wins; one, whether the Western democracies have the willpower to stay the course, and two adopt a strategy of liberation and promoting democracy. Their are numerous battlefields, and sometimes the fighting is military and sometimes in the realm of ideas, but it all depends on whether the Western democracies will stay the course and adopt the appropriate policies.
The conflict is a global one, and the most important battleground in the Pacific region is in the Philippines. The separatist movement on the large southern island of Mindanao was not originally Islamist, but was transformed into one by the efforts of Salafi-Wahabists from Saudi Arabia and Libya.
In Central and South America, the key nation is Venezuela. Hugo Chavez has allied his nation with the Khumeinists of Iran. The worrysome part is that this is not just the result of Chavez, but is the culmination of years of Venezuelan ties to radical movements.
State of the Confrontation
Phares ends his book with a summary of the state of the conflict. Following are his main points:
1) We are in a war, not a series of isolated terrorist incidents
2) It is a war with a known entity
3) The enemy, whether Salafist, Wahabi, Takfiri, or Khumeinist, has actively declared war on us.
4) The jihadists are ahead
5) It will be a long war, more along the lines of the Cold War than World War II
Critics will say that the people of the Middle Est "are not ready for democracy." The truth, Phares says, is that they would like to move in this direction but have been prevented from doing so by our own policies of supporting the status quo. Radicalism is something that has grown worse in recent decades, so if we had supported the existing democracy movements when the Middle East came out of colonialism we could already have a relatively free region.
In contrast to obsessing about "finding bin Laden," which Phares likens to "looking for Waldo," we need to understand that we are fighting a movement, not a person or single organization. The emphasis on personalities, while understandable, can only impede progress, because it causes us to focus on the storyteller, not the story. Likewise, Saddam was not the problem in Iraq, Ba'athism was, and Ahmadinejad not the problem in Iran, Khumeinism is.
Phares hits a home run with this book. It is well written, and does not require specialized background information to read. Light-years from a rant, his prose is calm and dispassionate. The chapters are well organized he lays out his argument in a logical fashion that makes his argument easy to follow.
I am in agreement with Phares in his overall view of the world situation. We are not fighting a limited terrorist network but a war against a global Jihad. It is a restart of the old on-again/off-again war between the Caliphate of old and the West that lasted a millennia. It is a war, not a police action. We have been seriously negligent in pursuing a human rights agenda. Leaving millions to live under tyranny and oppression is counterproductive.
Our war on Jihad is more like the Cold War than any other recent conflict. It will require at least decades to fight, and will run both hot and cold. Actual fighting will be more of what the military calls "low intensity" than World War II style "high intensity." Much of the conflict will be in the realm of ideas and as such will take place in the media. At the center of gravity is the West's ability to recognize and identify the problem, and willpower to stick it out in the face of opposition at home and abroad.
One of the primary things that separates this book from Future Jihad and The War of Ideas is that in this one he offers many concrete proposals to fight the war. The first two books were mostly proscriptive, this one mostly prescriptive.
What most impresses me is Phares' commitment to human rights and insistence that people deserve to live in a pluralistic society. His is the opposite of realpolitik and the m"it's none of our business" isolationism that is found on both the right and left.
We are simply not going to be able to switch to alternative sources of energy as a means to stop buying Middle Eastern oil anytime soon. At best we can slow down the pace, but even so I rather doubt we can do enough to seriously put a financial damper on revenues. As such, we are better off working to influence where and how Muslim regimes spend their money. We need to get them to spend their money to help their own people, and liberalize their societies. How we should go about this can be debated, but the necessity of the goal seems clear.
All of Phares' recommendations should be acted up. Unfortunately few will be. We have an administration in the United States with it's head firmly in the sand regarding this problem. President Obama is pandering to the Europeans' worst instincts. The Jihadists will have at least four years to advance their agenda unencumbered. Let's hope that they do not get much farther during this time before we can turn things around at home.
August 13, 2009
M. Zuhdi Jasser: A Muslim Who Gets It
It's easy to become depressed when it seems that so few Muslims are willing to take a public stand against the jihadists who seek a resurrection of the caliphate and the spread of Islamic law. It's all very fine to denounce terrorism, but what I'm really interested in are Muslims who will denounce groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
But there are true reformers, and I've profiled many of them on this blog. Of all of them Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy , is perhaps the one who is the most effective. He is articulate and outspoken, and gets a reasonable amount of attention from the press.
Time and again on this blog I've said that the best way to combat radicalism is to support reform minded Muslims. Muslims deserve a religion that is not dominated by a radical jihadist element just as much as they deserve civil liberties in Muslim countries.
Today he had a letter to the editor in The Washington Times taking President Obama and his top homeland security and counterterrorism official, John Brennan, to task for his idiotic statement the other day that we mustn't use "jihad" and "War on Terror," but only that "at war with al Qaeda." Here it is:
According to John Brennan, head of the White House's homeland security office, the war on terrorism is over. From now on, the administration will never use terms like "jihadists" and "global war" because doing so, as Mr. Brennan said, "risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve." He insisted that the U.S. is at "war with al Qaeda" ("U.S. no longer at war with 'terrorism' ," Page 1, Friday).
Could we be more blind? Acts of terror are rooted in the aspirations of Islamists to create an Islamic state and impose their version of Shariah law.
As a devout Muslim who, like many others across the world, is dedicated to fighting Islamism and its radical offshoots, I believe there is nothing more dangerous to our security in the long term than the leader of the free world remaining in categorical denial about the essence of this ever-so-real contest of ideas.
Al Qaeda had nothing to do with the string of radical Islamists arrested across the country -- from North Carolina to New York, Oregon and New Jersey (to name but a few) -- in the last year alone. The only thing these radicals have in common is their belief in a militant version of political Islam.
I certainly can understand the concern of making this a clash of religions, but that should not lead to outright misinformation. There is a civil war happening within the Muslim consciousness -- between those who advocate for the Islamic state (Islamists) and those who believe in secular liberal democracies.
It certainly is not the role of any administration to determine who are "good" and "bad" jihadists. Not calling them exactly what they call themselves makes the White House the arbiter of who is and who is not a Muslim. This avoidance behavior allows American Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood's front groups in Washington, to continue to deny their responsibility to lead the Islamic reform effort against Islamism and its role in radicalization -- the real existential threat to the West.
The last administration used a term far too vague, labeling the tactic of terror as the enemy rather than the ideology of militant Islamism. Now we have swung the other way, targeting a single group that is but one manifestation of a global movement. The movement radicalizes Muslims and remains an ever-present danger to our citizenry and it should be identified as such.
M. ZUHDI JASSER
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
July 10, 2009
Book Review - Now They Call Me Infidel
It takes a brave Muslim to speak out about their religion. It's perhaps more impressive when that person is a woman.
Nonie Darwish was raised Muslim in Egypt, and came to the United States while in her 20s. She was the daughter of a Shahid, or martyr, her father killed while fighting the hated Israelis.
She is now a Christian, Republican, and American living in California. Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror is the story of her life's journey from a culture of hatred to one of love.
Some Muslims are able to speak the truth about their religion and remain Muslims. Dr M. Zuhdi Jasser, chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, is one. Other reform minded groups are the Free Muslims Coalition, the International Quranic Center, Muslims Agrainst Sharia: Islamic Reform Movement, and of course Irshad Manji.
Others, like Darwish, have left Islam. Perhaps the most prominent among these is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose book Infidel is the classic of the genre.
Following is a summary of the Darwish's book, followed by my observations.
The Daughter of a Shahid
Darwish was born in 1948 into a solidly middle-class Egyptian family. Her father, Colonel Mustafa Hafez, was an intelligence officer in the army. Shortly after the coup that deposed King Farouk in 1948, President Nasser assigned him to Gaza with orders to organize the Palestinians into a fighting force and "drive the Jews into the sea."
It was clear to Darwish at an early age that the Arabs wanted the Palestinians to live in poverty and squalor in their camps, the better to motivate them to fight "the Zionists." The last thing they wanted was for the Palestinians to establish their own state in Gaza or elsewhere. Indeed, Palestinians were denounced by other Arabs if their zeal to destroy the hated Zionist enemy was not seen to be ardent enough.
In 1956 the Israelis killed her father, who had been organizing raids into their country. He was immediately proclaimed a shahid and the highest honors were bestowed upon his family. As of the writing of her book in 2006 there was still a high school named after her father in Gaza.
Her mother moved the family to Cairo shortly after her father's death. Realizing the value of a good education, she sent the children to St Clare's College, a British Catholic school run by English nuns. Despite the name, it was K-12. Also despite the Catholic nature of the school, half the students were Muslim, no doubt because the education offered by the school was superior to the public schools. Darwish recalls that unlike the public schools, hatred of the Jews was never taught at St. Clare's.
The Primacy of Jihad
One of the primary themes of the book is the pervasiveness of the call to jihad and the exhortation to destroy Israel. It was part of every subject in school. It was everywhere in the media. The idea that there could be any sort of peace with Israel was unthinkable. Jews were not simply the enemy, they were subhuman, "pigs and apes," if not worse. Every day the students at her school were required to write anti-Jewish poetry and stories, and express their desire to become a shahid, or martyr.
Darwish makes clear that the term "jihad" means violent holy war, something that is crystal clear to all Muslims. Further, it is a call to fight all infidels, not just Israelis, the objective of which is to extend the realm of Islamic control over the entire world. It is only in the West that the lies start, and we are told that it means something like "peaceful internal struggle" or some such nonsense.
A Woman's Plight
Another theme in the book is how badly women are treated in Islamic countries. Like in all Islamic countries, Egyptian societies are organized around the clan, and as such there is no social structure or support services at all available apart from it.
Poligamy was practiced in Egypt, and it was extremely harmful to social cohesion, to say nothing of it's effects on men and women. Married women never trusted non-married women, and when a woman got married she usually cut off all contact with any friends were were not married.
There are several types of polygamous marriages, from overt to the secret, or urfi marriage. Another type is the mutaa, or "pleasure marrage," which is literally a legalized one-night stand. As you might imagine, all of these are destructive to society and harmful to the people involved. There is simply no trust in marriage when such things are permissable.
Of course, there were a million restrictions that are unthinkable in Western countries. No dating, no partying, no social mixing between men or women was permitted at all. Women could not go out of the house without a male escort. Of course sex outside of marriage was unthinkable. Marriages were all arranged, and the concept of romantic love unheard of.
A woman's reputation was everything, and in typical Islamic hypocritical fashion, did not apply to men. Women could not so much as smile at a man (or girls to boys, it started very early) or they would be accused of being "loose." On the other hand, it was quite acceptable for men to grope women on a crowded bus. Men could be promiscuous, for women it was forbidden.
The Effects on Men
The repression of women and double standards described above are also harmful to men. Poligamy reduces the number of women available for marriage. Complete repression of sexuality and sensuality in society franky drives young men into the hands of extremists. Reality is replaced with the promise of 72 virgins if one dies in jihad. Given their lot in life, it seems a good deal, and one they're promised every Friday at the mosque.
It it considered good and normal for superiors to abuse their employees through rude and brutal treatment. Young men are by definition low on the hierarchy, and are the recipients of much ill-treatment. It is part of human nature that many will react by coming home from their jobs and take out their frustrations by beating their wife (if they are lucky enough to have one) and children.
A Young Woman
Through the adroit use of several maneuvers within her family, Darwish managed to avoid the fate that befell many of her friends, the arranged marriage. As such she left home single and went into the job market.
Her first job was working as an editor, translator, and censor for the Middle East News Agency. As censor she was by definition able to see information that the public in Egypt never saw. As part of her duties she also traveled to several foreign countries. That, coupled with her knowledge of English led her to realize that there was a lot more to the world than what she had been told all her life, to say the least.
As part of the Camp David Accords signed in 1978, Egypt got the Sinai back, which it had lost to Israel in the 1967 war. As with many Egyptians, she was amazed at how the Israelis had developed the area economically in that short time. It completely changed their perceptions of the area, which they had assumed was only a wasteland. It was also one of several events which led Darwish to question what she had been told about Israel and Jewish people.
Coming to America
In November of 1978 Darwish moved to the United States. Egypt and the United States had gradually been establishing closer ties, and her boyfriend had moved to California to live with his brother and cousins.. Between that and the desire to get away from the totalitarian control of the Egyptian state and society, she went to California to join him.
Describing herself as a naturally outgoing and open person who questioned authority and existing social arrangements, the experience of America provided a sharp contrast with her life in Egypt. Americans would talk about almost anything with anyone, constrained by few of the inhibitions so typical of Arab and Muslim society. A women talking openly about anything in Egypt was seen by the man as an invitation to sex, in America it was just two people talking. In Egypt honesty in everyday life was seen as naive, in the West it is considered a virtue. Class and sex provide few if any barriers. As such, she found that her personality fit more with the West than the Middle East.
However, many Egyptians and Arabs she met in the United States felt quite alienated. Far from accepting American society, the rebelled by becoming more Islamist. Women who would never wear a veil or headscarf in their home countries put them on here. Men who never went to a mosque or grew a beard did so in America. While Darwish found living in America as a liberation from radical Islam, many of her fellow Muslims determined to bring a radical version of their faith here.
Islamism in the United States
The paradox of Middle Eastern Muslim societies is that although Islam is dominant, the vast majority of the people are quite ignorant of it's details. Illiteracy is high, so few have read the Koran,and fewer still understand it. As such, most people only know what the Imams have told them. Further, although everyone is a Muslim, it is often in name only, as many do not go to mosque or pray regularly. It is a situation similar to the West in the Middle Ages.
Darwish and her family were themselves not regular mosque goers. They decided to attend a service only when a friend from Egypt came to visit. To their surprise and horror the mosque turned out to be quite radical and the experience was quite bad. This opened her eyes to the pervasive influence of Islamist ideology in the United States. Upon doing some research, she found that many of these mosques were funded by Saudi Arabia.
To be sure, most Muslims in America blend in happily and want no part of radicalism. The problem is that they are intimidated into silence, and too many mosques are controlled by radicals. To avoid these influences, and avoid being denounced, many of them simply choose to worship at home, including Darwish and her family. Her experience at the mosque began a move by her away from Islam.
All of this builds a process whereby Islamists are trying to undermine the West and impose their values on us. As one prominent Muslim leader said, "Thanks to your democratic laws we will invade you, thanks to our religious laws we will dominate you."
There is much doubletalk from Islamist Muslims. An obvious case discussed above are the lies about the definition of jihad. More subtle is when they say they're against terrorism but go on to express sympathy for groups such as Fatah and Hamas, or refuse to denounce any Islamic terrorist group by name. Another tactic is to say one thing in English to Western audiences, and another in Arabic to Muslims.
Second Marriage And A New Life
For reasons not entirely clear, Darwish divorced her husband in 1987. Whatever the causes, she stresses that she maintains good relations with him and his family and taht her main goal was to be a good mother to her children. in 1991 she married again to a man who she describes as politically very liberal who was born and raised in Berkeley, California. He was not at all religious.
One day she saw a pastor on the TV and liked the message. The basis of his sermon was 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
She found this quite inspiring and different from what she had heard in Islam, it containing none of the "destroy the infidels' rhetoric she had heard as a child, and decided to visit a local church. She liked the message of tolerance. It is not entirely clear if she became a Christian per se, but describes it as a "cataclysmic" event and says that "I had turned from a culture of hatred to one of love."
A Visit To Egypt
Over the years Darwish had kept in contact with her family back in Egypt. In 1994 her brother fell ill and they took him to a hospital in Israel. He lived, and her mother regaled Darwish with tales of the Israeli hospital the contradicted everything she had heard about the way Israelis behaved. This incident started a process that led her to change her view of the Jewish state.
In 2001 Darwish and her family went to Egypt to see her relatives, arriving back in the United States on September 10. What she found shocked her. The nation had become far more Islamist than when she had lived their previously. Many more women now were veiled while in public. Men were more radical in their religious views. Anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment was at an all-time high.
Speaking with people, she found their attitude was that the problems in Egypt and other Muslim countries were entirely the fault of the West and Israel. Few if any were able to look inward and say that they bore some of the responsibility themselves. Paradoxically, though, many of these same people wanted to go live in the West for it's economic benefits and political freedoms.
In what may seem strange to Westerners, the veil has become the new identity symbol for Muslim women, both in the West and in traditionally Muslim lands. They are taught from a young age that they are nothing but sex symbols to men, who are not expected to control their desires when confronted by a woman. Thus, to preserve modesty, the entire onus is on her to hide herself from men.
Politically, the Muslim Brotherhood exerted more influence than ever before. While previously it had been marginalized, it was now gaining in popularity. Saudi money was also flowing into Egyptian mosques, ensuring that the most radical messages where the only ones heard.
The entire experience was a bad one for Darwish and she and her daughters were happy to leave. It solidified her decision to live in the United States, something her daughters were quite thankful for as well.
The Reaction to 9/11
To Darwish, it was obvious that yes, it was al Qaeda who had attacked us. But when she called her friends in Egypt she was shocked. To a person they were convinced that it was an Israeli plot and that there was no way Muslims would do such a thing.
The situation was little better when she called her Arab friends living in America. Although most of them acknowledged the reality of who was behind the attacks, none were willing to speak out. Some even repeated the lie that "3,000 Jews who worked in the World Trade Center did not show up for work that day."
Most Muslims are not terrorists and say that they oppose it. However, this "silent majority" will not take a stand, publicly or privately, against the agents of jihad. Everything they have been taught since childhood was jihad, jihad, jihad, with Islam victorious against the infidels. Worse, they are taught the culture of victimhood, that Muslims are constantly persecuted by the infidels.
As such, they will denounce terrorism out of one side of their mouth while providing a "but" with the other. They usually refuse to criticize any terrorist group except for al Qaeda by name. If Israel or any non-Muslim nation kills Muslims it is instantly condemned, while the worst by Muslims is ignored or excused.
It was at this point that Darwish decided to speak out and write herself. Her first articles appeared in Republican Women's Club publications. One of the first was "The Daughter of a "Shahid" Speaks out for Change" She soon received invitations to speak. Because there were so few Muslims willing to issue more than a few rote statements condemning terrorism, Darwish soon found herself in demand.
In the past few years she has spent time speaking in numerous forums; colleges and universities, on television, and before private groups. She has written many articles and this book in an attempt to get her message out.
One of the things that shocked Darwish is how radical Muslims have become on American college campuses, even by Egyptian standards. Bearded men and veiled women are becoming the norm, all with a chip on their shoulder and attitude to boot. Muslim student groups refuse to label Hamas a terrorist group, and openly say that Israel should not exist. Yet at the same time they insist that Islam is a "religion of peace."
As mentioned earlier, one of the PR ploys of radical Islam, Islam in general, really, is to claim that the word "jihad" means "peaceful inner struggle" and all that business about holy war is a relic of the past. Nothing could be farther from the truth, she says. Everyone in the Middle East knows that "jihad" means "holy war against the infidels to spread the faith." It's only in the West that this new definition is heard.
Another misconception is that jihad is only supported by a few Muslims who operate at the fringes. The truth is that such philosophy is widely accepted, even if most Muslims do not actively participate. The problem, in other words, is larger than we have been led to believe.
Her take on Islamic society is confirmed in whole or in part by such scholars and writers as Walid Phares, Andy McCarthy, Steve Emerson, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, and Bernard Lewis, most of whose work has been used on this blog.
This said, I did not try to verify individual details about the book. And Darwish is clear that she is not a scholar, nor is this meant to be a scholarly book. It is one person's lifelong observations.
It's understandable that Darwish and others like her are portrayed as evil hatemongers by many Muslim groups. After all, they don't want their agenda's exposed. What's more perplexing is that so often the liberal-left often takes this line. Muslims have managed to get themselves portrayed as "victims," and so Islam escapes the scrutiny reserved for Christianity. It's ironic because almost all that liberals claim to stand for is antithetical to just about everything in Islam.
Saying that "only ten percent of Muslims are radicals" isn't really true, and more than that misses the point. Islam and Muslim societies are under the domination of the jihadists, and even many or most moderates hold opinions that are shocking to most Westerners. Most reform minded Muslims are afraid to speak out not only because they'll be attacked, perhaps violently, by other Muslims, but because they know that they will get little support from Westerners. The message of this book is that Islam as practiced today is antithetical to Western values, and if it is to change we need to support people like Nonie Darwish. Ignoring the problem won't make it go away.
The last chapter or two tend to read like a newspaper editorial, which is perhaps expected but most of her recommendations are by this point predictable. Perhaps though I only see it this way because I've read so much on this subject.
Otherwise, this is a reasonably good book and is recommended to everyone who wants to understand the realities of Egyptian society this past half century, as well as an insight into Muslims in the United States.
June 7, 2009
The Speech Obama Should Have Given in Cairo
I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and grateful for your hospitality. I will honor you in return by addressing you directly. I came here to speak to you, not to European leaders or American media commentators. I hope you will forgive my frankness, but we have much to talk about, and some of what I came here to say will not be easy for you to hear.
I will not waste your time by carefully selecting quotes from the Koran, in a misguided attempt to tell you what your religion means. I am here to tell you what membership in the community of civilized nations means. Your faith is your own affair, but it ends where the rest of our lives begin. It is fashionable among the Western elites to say that we have much to learn about the Muslim world, but the truth is precisely the reverse. One of the bedrock principles of Western democracy is that we don't need to understand, or even like, a particular religion in order to respect its faithful and their rights. There are some things the West is long overdue in teaching its Muslim neighbors, however. Let us begin with dismissing the notion of a "Muslim world." There is no such thing. There is one world, made increasingly intimate by the easy movement of people, resources, and ideas. We are all in the process of learning how to live with our fellow men, and while the West is far from perfect, we are much further ahead in our studies than the nations of the Middle East. Our security, and yours, will be greatly enhanced if we can lend you some of the wisdom we have accumulated.
We did not come by this wisdom easily. We learned by taking incredible risks... and making terrible mistakes... magnified by the power of Western military tradition and technology. The people of the Middle East have never known anything to compare with the industrialized slaughter of the two World Wars, in which millions of lives were lost to decisively settle the question of what makes a government just and legitimate. You have never watched five thousand of your sons die on a single day, to secure a beachhead against the forces of genocidal fascism - a battle we commemorate on the sixth of June every year. Your fighting men have not faced anything like the battle for Okinawa, where American Marines faced an eighty percent chance of death - and did not waver. You have not sacrificed half a million soldiers to destroy the evil of slavery, as America did during its Civil War. You have not spent blood and treasure around the world to save other nations from the savage darkness of communism. You have no leaders to equal the Founding Fathers who pledged their lives, and sacred honor, to win America's independence from imperial domination.
You have not burned and bled for freedom, as we have. We would spare you that pain, if we could. We are willing to burn and bleed for you - and we have been doing so, for eight long years. Instead of indulging in foolish paranoid fantasies about crusaders and oppression from America, open your eyes and look to the mountains of Afghanistan, where over a thousand Coalition troops have died to overthrow the Taliban, after their despicable complicity in the murders of September 11, 2001. We did not have to send those troops into harm's way, to avenge the slaughter at the World Trade Center. We could have eliminated all life in that region, in a matter of hours. If we followed the standards of our enemies, we would have. We sent our best and bravest into battle because of who we wished to spare, not who we wanted to kill.
Open your eyes and look to Iraq, where we allowed thousands of Iraqi troops to lay down their arms and go home, instead of killing them where they stood. We paid an awful price for this act of mercy, as many of those men went on to join the brutal terrorists who dreamed of keeping the Iraqi people enslaved. Some in America and Europe find it politically expedient to draw moral equivalency between American soldiers and the terrorists they fight. I ask you to show me the al-Qaeda "equivalent" of Private First Class Ross McGinnis, who climbed down into an armored vehicle and smothered a grenade to protect his crew, when he could easily have leaped from his gunnery hatch to safety. Show me an "insurgent" who can match the valor of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, who flung himself into an impossible battle against odds of a hundred to one... to save the lives of a hundred wounded men. These two soldiers are among those who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their sacrifices in Operation Iraqi Freedom. No one on the other side is worthy of such an honor. I say this to you because keeping silent - whether from misguided modesty, self-loathing, or the desire to avoid offending your vanity - is an insult to your honor, and an injury to your future.
We have made a fetish of "tolerance" in America, and it has curdled into poison. I am here to tell you what the civilized world is no longer prepared to tolerate. We will not stand silently by while women are enslaved, brutalized, or murdered. We will no longer hypnotize ourselves with self-criticism over gay rights, while you bury gay men and women under piles of jagged stone. We will not swallow our tongues for fear of offending Islam, when Islam oppresses all other religious beliefs within its borders. We know you can do better. We also know that nothing will improve unless we demand you do better... and we do demand it. The world has turned, and the old days of totalitarianism and pillage are done. There is no more place in it for barbarians. Believe what you will, follow your customs, honor the holy writings of your Prophet, and strive to understand God's will through prayer, music, and scholarship. You will find nothing but honest respect and admiration from the West. But when you stand among civilized people, you will be civilized people. When you are shown respect, you will answer with respect. As the West reveres and protects the life of your innocents, so you will revere ours.
I speak to you as the democratically-elected leader of a great republic, which has earned the right to walk tall and proud through the halls of history. It is a right earned on battlefields... but also at humanitarian relief camps, pharmaceutical laboratories, civil-rights marches, and field hospitals. It is a right earned by rebuilding shattered enemies after terrible wars, by tearing down the statues of tyrants and building schools for the children of their liberated victims. Ours is a hard-won glory that can be seen in six men raising a flag on Mount Suribachi, or one man planting that flag in the dust of the moon... or millions of men and women stepping into voting booths. Look at the free people of Iraq, with their fingers proudly covered in purple ink after they vote, and know that America is eternally eager to share her glory. Indeed, we believe we can only render it proper honors by sharing it with all of our brothers and sisters around the world. But also remember this: the Middle East stands at a crossroads, and the heavy responsibility of reconciling faith, tradition, and the demands of the modern world rests with you. You must choose between old hatreds and new possibilities. You must choose between murder and prosperity. I have come here today to tell you clearly, and without reservation, that you cannot have both. May the next leader chosen by the American people stand in my place someday, to congratulate you on a wise choice.
December 14, 2008
Quillam Foundation - Reform Muslims in the UK
My research has led me to believe that the West is threatened by a worldwide jihad, and that it is being fought on many different levels. On of those is a "war of ideas," and it is not only being waged by Islamists against the West, it is being waged within Islam itself.
Islam is a religion that as it is mostly practiced is antithetical to Western values. It is in this that lies the greatest danger, not in bullets and bombs but in a sort of "creeping sharia." The Islamists are trying to replace Western ideas and practices with their own, and they are doing it in our own countries. They are also trying to replace secular Arab governments with Islamist ones in which Sharia is the law of the land.
Most Muslims around the world are not violent, and are not keen to be governed by a strict Sharia. But they also tend to be cowed and intimidated by the radicals, who are the "strong horse" in the war of ideas within Islam. The lesson of history is that a determined minority usually gets their way if the mass remains passive. Being opposed to an idea or movement does no good if do don't step out and do something about it.
This said, there are some true reform minded Muslims who are willing to speak out. It is absolutely vital that we in the West recognize them, promote them, and support them against the extremists. In previous posts I have recognized several such groups and individuals (see list at bottom of page).
Today I am going to profile the Quilliam Foundation, based in London.
The Quilliam Foundation (h/t The Weekly Standard) seeks change in the Muslim world. Their founders reject Islamism, but are committed Muslims.
From their website, the foundation seeks to
- Expose and challenge the weaknesses, inconsistencies, and failings of Islamist thought and actions;
- Provide a scripturally rooted theological and ideological alternative to the rigidity of Islamism;
- Narrate public testimonies as to why Islamists have abandoned these movements;
- Encourage current Islamists to sever ties with their movements and enter the fold of mainstream Islam;
- Advocate full integration of Muslims into Western society as citizens, not as a faith community, and counter the separatism of Islamists.
They're not passive about it either. The only way to get one's views heard and hopefully adopted is to step out and challenge those with whom you disagree. The founders of the Quilliam Foundation do just that with their "Open Challenge:"
The Quilliam Foundation openly challenges Islamist groups to public debates. Our first challenge is to Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), the group that influenced Syed Qutb in prison and is thus the ideological inspiration to al-Qaeda. While HT may disagree with Osama bin Laden's methods, they both aspire to the same end: the creation of a theocratic, expansionist dictatorship....
Islam, like other world faiths, is a religion, not a political ideology. As such, it makes no specific, monolithic prescription of an 'Islamic state', 'economic system', or 'foreign policy'. Hizb ut-Tahrir, and by extension al-Qaeda, have rejected mainstream Muslim tradition and are an aberration of global Muslim discourse. Their neo-Wahhabite Islamism is the backbone of jihadism, as illustrated by the history of Islamist movements in Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other countries.
The Quilliam Foundation is relatively new, having been founded in April of this year.
I do not know quite enough about this group to give them my unqualified endorsement. That Ulf Gartzke of TWS likes them is a good start, but an article on the Counterterrorism Blog questions their support of a particular Egyptian Mufti Sheik.
Investigate the matter and reach your own conclusions. My guess is that they're not perfect but are headed in the right direction. We need to be careful, but not absolutist in looking for reformist Muslims to support. But find them and support them we must.
Other Reformist Muslim Groups and Individuals
Following are reformist Muslim groups and individuals that I have profiled here:
Update - January 1, 2009
"The UK Government cannot seek to win hearts and minds across Muslim communities while failing to stop Israel from murdering Palestinians en masse. Gordon Brown and David Miliband have reached out to Damascus and Darfur in recent weeks in an attempt to bring peace and stand for fairness. That is commendable. And in that spirit, where is the outright condemnation of Israeli atrocities and pressure on Israel to stop its inhumane operations? Perceived double standards from our Government and the current green light (from Washington and London) to Israel's killing machine will strengthen Al Qaeda's metanarrative and radicalize yet another generation of young Muslims. Isolating and angering millions of Muslims by sitting on the fence will not aid the PREVENT agenda, or the moderate majority of Muslims. The FCO and Downing Street has a duty to stand, condemn, and call for immediate cessation of Israel's military operations, and end the siege".
Ed Husain, co-founder of Quillam, has an equally ridiculous editorial in the Guardian.
The International Quranic Center isn't a whole lot better:
The world sympathized with Israel for the rockets they endured in their backyards, but when they get on the revenge bandwagon and indiscriminately kill, they lose sympathy. The oppressed ones all around the world including the majority of Israelis and Jews feel the pain of this violence, it flies in the face of our continued efforts to stop massacres, it is time for all of us to speak up. This is not the act of peace making; this is the act of destroying a people.
Yes yes, how dare the Israelis respond.
Meanwhile, Muslims Against Sharia are supportive of Israel
The Free Muslims Coalition doesn't really take a position, which at this point I'll take as a positive. They recommend a two-state solution, which I could support maybe possibly support for Fatah, but not at this point I don't think they're much better than Hamas.
American Islamic Forum for Democracy and Irshad Manji are silent. I'm sure the AIFD supports Israel, though.
November 17, 2008
Book Review - Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad
On February 26, 1993, Americans were stunned to learn that a bomb exploded in the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring 1,042. Scenes of panic were on our televisions, and for awhile Americans wondered if we weren't going to suffer a wave of terror as what plagued Europe in the 70s and the Middle East to this day.
Within a week, though, our law enforcement scored what seemed like a stunning triumph against what seemed to be stunningly incompetent terrorists. On March 4 one of the terrorists, Mohammad Salameh, was arrested as he attempted to retrieve his security deposit on the Ryder truck they had rented for the attack.
This in turn led to other arrests, and before too long it looked as if law enforcement had the entire thing wrapped up. I myself remember thinking that it we must either have the world's dumbest terrorists or the world's best law enforcement. From what I remember most other Americans thought the same thing.
But what if we had known that the FBI had had an informant inside the organization that carried out the attacks months before they occurred?
And what if we had found out that the informant had warned the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force; FBI and local law enforcement) that this organization was actively training jihadists in guerrilla tactics for a campaign of assassination and bombing? Or that they were actively experimenting with explosives? And was apparently well-funded?
And despite all this, the JTTF ordered the informant to withdraw from the organization?
We'd have been outraged, that's what.
This and more is told by Andrew C. McCarthy in Willfull Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad.
McCarthy is in a position to know what he's talking about, because at the time of the bombing he was the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against the masterminds behind it, most notably the "Blind Sheikh", Omar Abdel Rahman, and eleven others.
McCarthy's involvement only came after the 1993 bombing, so he was not a part of the missteps with the confidential informant. Nor did he prosecute the underlings who carried out the attack. His job was to go after the terror masters. He did, and his efforts led to the conviction of all of them. The Blind Sheikh was the most important, and dangerous, terrorist ever tried in the United States.
If McCarthy's book was only about the bombing, investigation, and trial of the accused, it would be an interesting but not a terribly important book. As it is, however, McCarthy goes well beyond a simple narrative of the investigation and trial. Much of the book is a discussion of the nature of the jihadist threat that we face.
The Blind Sheikh
Omar Abdel Rahman was born in Egypt in 1938, and lost his sight as a child to diabetes. Early on recognized as something of a prodigy, impressed his teachers early on by memorizing the entire Quran. He attended the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where he obtained a degree in Qur'anic studies. He was recognized as a specialist in Islamic law, authorized to issue fatwas and binding legal opinions. Rahman, by now called the "Blind Sheikh" adopted the most radical views, calling for the imposition of Sharia law wherever possible.
The Blind Sheikh saw America, Israel, and secular Arab governments as his main enemies, and called for the overthrow of all of them. Nothing the United States did on the behalf of Muslims anywhere held any water for him. Mubarak, and Sadat before him were mere puppets of America. As for Israel, well, "Zionist" conspiracies were everywhere.
The Blind Sheikh's entire history is long and complicated, but suffice it to say that he developed ties to seemingly every radical and terrorist group in Egypt. He even led fundraising tours for MAK, or Mektab al-Khidmat, the organization from which al-Qaeda would grow.
While in Egypt he became the spiritual leader of an organization called Gama'at al-Islamia, or simply the Islamic Group. Formed in 1973, it is considered an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is closely tied to al-Qaeda. Their original motivation was to overthrow the secular government of Egypt, but as their ties and size grew, they "branched out" into full-fledged jihad against the West as well.
The Blind Sheikh's method was to issue fiery denunciations of, say the government of Egypt, backed by the relevant Islamic scholarship, but stop short of calling for outright violence. He simply let his followers figure out what he meant. Imprisoned for a time in Egypt, amazingly enough he beat the charges in court by simply quoting Islamic law to the effect that it was every Muslim's duty to engage in jihad against anything anti-Islamic. Since Sadat's government was openly secular, the court was forced to admit that Rahman was right.
He entered the United States on a tourist visa in 1990, this despite his name being on our terrorist watch list. Deciding to stay here, his lawyers successfully fought off deportation orders. He brought his organization with him, and, while continuing to issue orders to his followers in Egypt, also started to pursue jihad against the United States.
The result was the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
Worse than that, his organization was working toward bombing five New York City landmarks: the United Nations building, an FBI office, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge. It was for this conspiracy, as well as the World Trade Center attacks, for which he and his co-defendants were convicted.
On Nov 5, 1990, Rabbi Meir David Kahane was shot and killed by El Sayyid Nosair after giving a speech in Manhattan. A subsequent search of Nosair's apartment revealed what would seem to be a treasure a trove of documents. Box after box of notebooks, assassination manuals, handwritten notes, and jihadi literature was removed. Amazingly, the authorities ignored all of it. They had convinced themselves that Nosair was a loner, and no further investigation was required.
It was an act of willful blindness. The reality was that Nosair was part of a jihadist conspiracy led by the Blind Sheikh.
Emad Salem, a former Egyptian army officer living in the United States, had infiltrated the Blind Sheikh's organization for the best of motives; he believed that jihadists had perverted the religion and he wanted them exposed and convicted. His undercover activities started in 1991. He'd even met Rahman on several occasions, and had so thoroughly convinced him that he, too, was a jihadist that the conspirators had asked him not only to design their bombs but to help build them also.
Therein lie the problem. The JTTF did not want its informant actually building bombs. "Imagine the liability," they said, if Salem engaged in bomb building, and then the jihadists escaped the FBI's surveillance and were successful in exploding their bombs. After all, even the FBI does not have magical powers, but rather limited resources, and such a thing was eminently possible. Thus the decision to withdraw Salem from the jihadist organization altogether.
In retrospect it was clearly the wrong decision, but given the attitudes at the time, an understandable one.
What outraged McCarthy is not just that the JTTF ordered Salem off the case, but that they dropped the investigation altogether. As he points out, they still could have conducted surveillance and used other investigative techniques.
After the World Trade Center bombing, Salem was allowed to re-infiltrate the terrorist organization. He was so successful in collecting evidence that long story short, eventually the Blind Sheikh and his fellow jihadists were all arrested.
A "Perverted Islam"?
In planning his strategy for prosecuting the Blind Sheikh (as McCarthy calls him throughout the book), McCarthy realized that he would have to present a clear motive to the jury. Jurors, he explains, are hesitant to convict on forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony alone. They want to know why the accused did what he or she did. Without a convincing motive, jurors will tend towards giving the accused the benefit of the doubt.
It was clear that the Blind Sheikh was motivated by jihad. For years he had railed against the secular Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak, and ever since moving to the United States had taken up the cause against us here.
The question to McCarthy was not how to present this to the jury, for that was easy. The danger was how he would cross-examine the Blind Sheikh should he take the stand. He knew he couldn't engage in a wide-ranging debate about Islam with the Blind Sheikh, for the latter was a world renowned scholar on the subject. Rather, he would try to trip him up on a few points of Islamic theology, showing that the Blind Sheikh had twisted the true, peaceful, nature of Islam into something violent and hateful. After all, we've all been assured by "moderates" that Islam is a religion of peace.
But as he studied Islam, he came to realize that it was the Blind Sheikh who had the better understanding of Islam. McCarthy concluded that "Islam is a dangerous creed" that threatens Western values. The way the religion is practiced today, it's hard to disagree.
As it was, the Blind Sheikh never took the stand, so no cross examination occurred. But if it had, McCarthy concluded, neither he nor anyone else would have been able to show that the Blind Sheikh had twisted Islam into something it wasn't.
The Pre-9/11 Mentality
Much of the book details the comedy of errors that our various government bureaucracies made in dealing with terrorist suspects in the 1980s and 90s. Time and again agencies such as the CIA, INS, and FBI didn't communicate with each other, so that while one would list a particular person as a terrorist suspect and flag him as "no entry" to the United States, the others would not get the message and the suspect would be granted a visa. Four times, for example, the Blind Sheikh applied for visas to enter the United States, and on only one occasion was he denied entry, this despite his history of radicalism if not outright support of terrorism.
Astoundingly, the situation did not improve even after the 1993 WTC bombings, when all of the bumbling was revealed. "We caught them; problem solved." was the prevailing attitude. The public perception was that we were on top of our game and no fundamental changes need be made.
Islam and Terror
At some point during the investigation, it became clear to McCarthy that there was nothing "more elemental to Islamic terrorism than the radical Muslim ideology that fuels it." In order to prove motive it simply had to be addressed. From a legal standpoint it was more important to show that a criminal act affected interstate commerce, for example, than to show that a Salafitst interpretation of Islam was behind it all.
The root of modern Islamic terror, and the primary influence on The Blind Sheikh, can be found in the 13th and 14th centuries, most particularly in the writings of Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymayyah (1263-1328). As also explained by Walid Phares in Future Jihad, Ibn Taymayyan (spellings vary), concluded that the reason that the reason the Mongols had been able to sack Baghdad itself and end the Abbasid dynasty in 1258 was that Muslims had ceased to properly follow the dictates of Allah. The solution, then, was to purify Islam and eliminate or purge it of those who in his opinion were not practicing the religion properly.
To carry this out he developed the doctrine of the takfir, which is essentially the Muslim equivalent of the inquisition. This would later develop into the Salafist movement which would in turn spawn Wahhabism, which in turn spawned al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Ibn Taymayyah led what was essentially a "back to the Dark Ages" movement. Gone was enlightened or "progressive" thought. While Europe would go from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance and Enlightenment a few centuries later, the Muslim world did just the opposite. Taymayyah's ideas have dominated radical thinking ever since.
Central to Salafist/Takfiri thinking is the concept of the jihad. Some Westerners have attempted to distinguish between a "greater" and "lesser" Jihad, seeing the first as defensive, or good, and the second as offensive, or bad. The "lesser" jihad, in this thinking, is a vestige of the old days, and is no more. The current, "greater" jihad, is peaceful and used strictly for defensive purposes.
Unfortunately, the idea of a greater and lesser jihad is about as accurate as the portrayal of honor among the Corleone family in the Godfather series. It's good entertainment, but with little or no basis in reality. Even if jihad is strictly defensive, the radicals have been able to twist any and all circumstances into "defense of the faith." This even to the point where resisting the spread of Islam is said to be an attack on the faith and requiring a "defensive" jihad.
Others have tried to portray jihad as a "peaceful inner struggle" one has with oneself in order to purify oneself for God. As with the idea of a "greater" and "lesser" jihad, this is a notion mostly held by Westerners and some Muslims who live in the West. It is not held by many Islamic scholars.
The reality is that jihad is the central tenant that drives Islamic terrorists, and its goal is the worldwide imposition of Islamic law. Issues such as the Palestianian-Israeli conflict are tangential.
The other major influence on the Blind Sheikh was Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual father of modern jihadist thinking and the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood until his death in 1966. Qutb's focus was on replacing secular Arab governments with Islamic ones, which would be governed by Sharia law. As an Egyptian, his main focus was on Gamal Abdul Nasser. After Nasser died in 1970, the Blind Sheikh took up the cause of overthrowing first Anwar Sadat, and then Hosni Mubarak.
Moderate, progressive, Muslims want the entire concept of jihad to just go away. As McCarthy found out while preparing his cross examination of the Blind Sheikh, they have mostly proven themselves unable to debate with the scholars, virtually all of whom see violent jihad as part of the religion.
What attracts followers is the ideology of radical Islam. What keeps them there is success, and what drives them away is lack of success. It's the "strong horse/weak horse" thing, and so each victory fills their ranks, whereby each defeat depletes them. There are lots of fence-sitters who are watching closely.
Not that we should always expect the jihadists to tell us who they are. It has been said that "war is deceit," and the Blind Sheikh followed this to it's fullest. Interviewed by CNN's Bernard Shaw in 1992, he said that "I do not call people for any violence," a known lie even then as he was on record for calling for the murder of Egyptian officials. Caught gloating over his deception by an authorized Federal wiretap of his phone later that same day, Rahman not only admitted to the deception to an associate but found it hard to believe that some of his followers might not "get it."
Although it was clear to McCarthy and the JTTF that the Blind Sheikh and his fellow conspirators were guilty, there was some resistance to charging him at all. Some in the intelligence and foreign service communities thought that doing so would upset Muslims and make it harder for us around the world. They even said that it would be counterproductive; that it might provoke more attacks.
McCarthy rejects such reasoning. Terrorists, he says, thrive on weakness. As noted earlier, fence sitters look for the "strong horse," and join that side. Further, if they didn't prosecute, it would embolden the Blind Sheikh himself who would only order more terrorist attacks.
That he and his fellow conspirators were indited was due, McCarthy says, to the steely determination of two of his bosses; Mary Jo White and Janet Reno. White was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1993-2002, and Reno needs no introduction. Both were Clinton appointees. As much grief as Reno has received from those of us on the right, I was pleasantly surprised to see that she did good in this case. My hat is off to them both.
McCarthy's experience has caused him to reject a strict law-enforcement model for dealing with jihadists. For standard criminal cases, "the law is our noble, all-purpose abstraction." Time and again he makes sure the reader understands that he and his fellow prosecutors followed such things as discovery procedures to the letter of the law, even when they very much helped the defense.
A problem with the law-enforcement model is that it ignores Islam as the fuel for Islamic terrorism. Prosecutors, as explained above, tend to concentrate only on the technical aspects of proving that the suspect planted or designed the bomb because of the way the law is written. Further, prosecutors are generally not interested in bringing up the overall aim of the terrorists, rogue-state facilitation, or who covertly financed the entire operation. They just want to prove that so-in-so designed or planted the bomb, or recruited the people to do it.
Traditional criminals may want to murder, but only individuals or small groups. They want to steal money or items. They do not want to overthrow any government, just work their evil around it. But terrorists, especially those of the Islamic variety, want to kill large numbers of innocent civilians, and the more the better. They do want to overthrow our government and replace it with an Islamic one. Because the two have different motives and objectives, we cannot use the same means to go after both. It is especially problematic to use standard legal means to pursue terrorism outside of the United States.
The reality is that we are not dealing with a small band of crazies who sometimes hide out in the wilds of Afghanistan or Pakistan. We face hundreds of thousands of jihadists (of one level of commitment or another) around the world.
Further, the means used to identify terrorists on this scale is necessarily different than what is used to gather evidence against criminals. While wiretaps are secret, they are revealed during discovery. We use national intelligence means to gather evidence against terrorists, and we simply cannot reveal "sources and methods" to the public.
Lastly, trials with their associated appeals take years to complete, cost tens of millions of dollars, and end up convicting relatively few people. Given the number of jihadists, it is simply not feasible to try them in criminal courts.
In the end, McCarthy says that it is Islam itself that must be confronted. Here too he and I agree. Far from a "hijacked" religion that is really about peace, Islam as it is and has been practiced for far too long incorporates many disturbing elements and beliefs. These can be changed, just as Martin Luther and John Calvin changed Christianity, but if will never happen if we remain wedded to political correctness.
As McCarthy says at the end; "We can open our eyes and see it. Or not."
After rewatching the interviews I realize I didn't do justice to McCarthy's recommendations at the end of his book. The terrorists at Guantanamo are neither criminals nor enemy soldiers as properly understood. Therefore, they are due neither the protections of our constitution nor those of the Geneva Conventions (details on the latter here). As such, they fall into a never-never world where the traditional means to deal with them don't apply.
One of McCarthy's suggestions to help resolve this is to establish a National Security Court. President Bush should have established a board of advisers to help set this up immediately after 9-11, but better late than never. The idea is to take the best of both criminal and military court system. The benefit of the military justice system is that it better allows us to protect national intelligence. On the other side, the criminal justice system works much better in that federal judges do a better job of moving cases along to resolution. When the military is fighting a war court cases will by definition be on the back burner (and I would say there's probably a conflict of interest) so the federal court system can better handle the load and move cases forward.
That's the ultra short version. Buy the book and learn the rest.
October 20, 2008
"Freedom of Speech in Jihad Analysis: Debunking the Myth of Offensive Words"
About time someone said this.
From a story in today's Washington Times written by the invaluable Bill Gertz:
A U.S. military "Red Team" charged with challenging conventional thinking says that words like "jihad" and "Islamist" are needed in discussing 21st-century terrorism and that federal agencies that avoid the words soft-pedaled the link between religious extremism and violent acts.
"We must reject the notion that Islam and Arabic stand apart as bodies of knowledge that cannot be critiqued or discussed as elements of understanding our enemies in this conflict," said the internal report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.
The report, "Freedom of Speech in Jihad Analysis: Debunking the Myth of Offensive Words," was written by unnamed civilian analysts and contractors for the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East and South Asia. It is thought to be the first official document to challenge those in the government who seek to downplay the role of Islam in inspiring some terrorist violence.
"The fact is our enemies cite the source of Islam as the foundation for their global jihad," the report said. "We are left with the responsibility of portraying our enemies in an honest and accurate fashion."
I hope these guys keep their resumes updated, because they're going to need them if Obama's elected in November. The political correctness on this is bad enough with GW Bush, but it will be absolutely out of control with Obama.
You can download the report from the Times website at the link above. If that disappears, you can go here.
The reason why it is important that we use words like jihad, takfir, Islamist, and the rest is that we need to be clear as to who we are fighting. We need clarity on the nature of the enemy, who he is, and his historical roots. While we must understand that no, not all Muslims accept the idea of violent jihad, we must also understand that all too many do, and that they are the ones currently in control of the umma.
Of course, any "Red Team" is not the end-all-to-be-all. Their job is to provide the "counter" or "alternative" analysis, the purpose of which is to challenge assumptions. It's just that in this case I think they're right.
Read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary:
There are a growing number of USG documents that suggest that we stand in danger of (if we have not already) demonizing Islam and/or associating all Muslims with violence simply by invoking the Islamic identity, or Islamist goals, or a particular extremist group. While there is concern that we not label all Muslims as Islamist terrorists, it is proper to address certain aspects of violence as uniquely Islamic. This does not imply that all violence is Islamic, or even that all violence perpetrated by Muslims is uniquely Islamic. The fact is that our enemies cite the sources of Islam as the foundation of their global jihad. We are left with the responsibility of portraying our enemies in an honest and accurate fashion.
There are a lot of problems in our current approach, but one of them is not "demonizing Islam." President Bush and virtually all other Western leaders have gone out of their way to do the opposite.
The problem, rather, is with those who want to define our problem as narrowly as possible. Many do not even want to use the term "war," but rather see it through the lens of law enforcement. They generally see the problem as only al Qaeda and only in Afghanistan. This must end, and we should label our enemies as they are: Jihadists, Takfiris, and Islamists.
July 2, 2008
The Man Who Would Reform Islam
Every now and then we need reminding that there are Muslims who see the need to truly reform their faith. Dr Zuhdi Jasser of Phoenix Arizona is one such man. Dr Jasser is the son of Syrian immigrants, and his medical specialty is internal medicine and nuclear cardiology. He served as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, receiving an Honorable Discharge 1999. In March of 2003 he founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
Dr Jasser fully supports the U.S. Constitution and Western concepts of liberty. He is opposed to sharia law. Unlike most moderates who say that they are against violence but do not see the need for an Islamic reformation, Dr. Jasser clearly sees that Islam is at a crossroads.
Here is Dr. Jasser being interviewed by Pat McMahon, host of "The Pat McMahon Show" on AZ-TV on Wed. June 25, 2008
And here is Part II
Good profile of Dr Jasser and his AIFD in this news report
We need to support people like Dr Jasser if we want to win this war on jihadism. Right now he seems a lonely voice in the wilderness, but that doesn't mean we just give up. Martin Luther didn't win in a day either.
Reform Muslims We Need
February 24, 2008
Reform Muslims We Need
Every now and then it is good to remind ourselves that in our fight against Jihadism, there are in fact Muslims on our side. I do not mean pseudo-moderates, who claim to be "against terrorism", but then either refuse to condemn groups like Hamas or Hezbollah, or who insist on denouncing Israel in the same breath as they do al Qaeda.
I've mentioned some reformist Muslims in the past, and today want to take time to do so again. In fact, I've started a new blogroll dedicated to reformist Muslim organizations.
Unfortunately much of the thinking regarding Islam alternates between the extremes. On the one hand you have the insistence that Islam is a "religion of peace" and how dare you suggest otherwise. In this view, Islam was "hijacked" by a small band of extremists and we are instructed that "only 10% are radicals" and the rest good peaceful Muslims. These are the people who object to terms like "Islamic Fascism", let alone "War on Jihadism".
At the other end are the Islam-haters. To them Islam is an evil religion, Osama bin Laden is the one who is interpreting the Koran correctly, and how dare you suggest otherwise. They insist that Islam can never reform because it teaches violence against unbelievers and that is that. Oddly, these are often the same people who support our efforts in Iraq.
As you may guess I don't buy into either of those views, but I don't want to go through all that now. Today I want to highlight some true reform-minded Muslims.
The point of recognizing them is that we have to recognize that as scholar Walid Phares says we are in a War of Ideas with the Jihadists. While military operations are vital, and shutting down their financial transcations important, unless we win the war of ideas we will lose. Part of winning that war of ideas is recognizing that Islam is in trouble, and that radical surgery is required. As such, we need to seek out, find true reformers, and do all that we can to encourage them.
What follows is by no means meant to be a complete list. Due to a computer freeze and reboot I lost one or two organizations that were going to be part of this post. As time goes on I'll do more posts, adding to this list. Several of the people and groups listed below have already been the subject of a post on Redhunter.
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
First up is Dr Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the Phoenix Arizona based American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
From their website
American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) was formed in March of 2003 by a group of Muslim professionals in the Phoenix Valley of Arizona. The group's founder is M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D.
Dr Jasser is the son of Syrian immigrants, and his medical specialty is internal medicine and nuclear cardiology. He served as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, receiving an Honorable Discharge 1999.
And from their "Mission Statement":
Mission: We proud citizens of the United States of America join together as devoted and patriotic citizens and as devout Muslims in this forum in order to serve as a vehicle for the discussion and public awareness of the complete compatibility of America's founding principles with the very personal faith of Islam which we practice.
Core Principles and Goals:
To be a voice of Muslim American citizenry in strong support of the following:
- The devout practice of Islam and the Islamic concept of consultation and consent (shura) as being wholly compatible with the American form of democracy
- The support of the separation of religion and state as being perfectly non-contradictory with Koranic principles.
- As United States citizens we support our American armed forces.
- As United States citizens we support absolute and literal adherence to our citizenship pledge.
- We support our American interests, domestic and foreign.
If you're still not sure about AIFD read this interview of Dr Jasser by Katheryn Jean Lopez of National Review.
Free Muslims Coalition
Another strong reform-minded organization is the href="http://www.freemuslims.org/">Free Muslims Coalition. From their mission statement
The Free Muslims Coalition is a nonprofit organization made up of American Muslims and Arabs of all backgrounds who feel that religious violence and terrorism have not been fully rejected by the Muslim community in the post 9-11 era.
The Free Muslims was created to eliminate broad base support for Islamic extremism and terrorism and to strengthen secular democratic institutions in the Middle East and the Muslim World by supporting Islamic reformation efforts.
The Free Muslims promotes a modern secular interpretation of Islam which is peace-loving, democracy-loving and compatible with other faiths and beliefs. The Free Muslims' efforts are unique; it is the only mainstream American-Muslim organization willing to attack extremism and terrorism unambiguously. . Unfortunately most other Muslim leaders believe that in terrorist organizations, the end justifies the means.
Their founder, Kamal Nawash, had a rough start in life but all that changed when his parents came to America. Best of all, Nawash appreciates what this country has to offer.
Kamal Nawash began life as a Palestinian refugee. One of six children born in Bethlehem, Kamal was nine years old when his family arrived in New Orleans in 1979.
Upon completing his education in 1997, he became the Legal Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Today Kamal is a successful attorney with degrees in business and law and international legal studies. An active member in his community, as well as in his voting district, Kamal ran as a Republican candidate for Virginia State Senate in 2003.
After 9-11 Kamal was dismayed to see the nearly mute reaction of American Muslims to the tragedy waged by Islamic extremists. As time progressed and President Bush launched the War on Terrorism, American Muslims did very little to show their support for the President's initiative and often actually criticized his efforts to fight Islamic terror. Kamal saw the need for Muslims to speak out against terror and he founded the Free Muslims Coalition.
International Quranic Center
On their advisory board is is Exiled Egyptian cleric Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour. Sheikh Dr Mansour has his own organization, the International Quranic Center. A true reformer, his studies have led him to form his own branch of Islam which is neither Sunni nor Shia, which he calls Quranist. From their mission statement
The IQC is committed to spreading a vision of Islam that is true to the letter and spirit of the Quran and that focuses on the consistency between the word of God and democracy and human rights. Our goals are to:
- To advocate peaceful reform in the Muslim world based on democracy and human rights and to offer practical strategies for such change;
- To mobilize on the web and convene in person open-minded scholars of the Quran to share research demonstrating the consistency of Islam with democracy;
- To communicate the value of ecumenical democracy to Muslims of all denominations;
- To initiate a real inter-religious dialogue among Muslims, Christians, Jews, and members of all religions who believe in creating societies based upon tolerance and justice.
- To educate Muslims in America to understand and interpret Islam as consistent with American democracy.
No discussion of Muslim reformers would be complete without Irshad Manji. Her 2004 book The Trouble with Islam Today, A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith earned her the hatred of radicals and no doubt many death threats. From her website
Irshad is Director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University. It aims to develop leaders who will challenge political correctness, intellectual conformity and self-censorship. In the best spirit of liberal education, the Moral Courage Project teaches that rights come with responsibilities, that we are citizens rather than members of mere tribes, and that meaningful diversity embraces different ideas and not just identities. ...
Born in 1968, Irshad is a refugee from Idi Amin's Uganda. In 1972, she and her family fled to Vancouver, where Irshad grew up attending public schools as well as the Islamic madressa. In 1990, she graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia, winning the Governor-General's medal for top academic achievement in the humanities.
From her description of the book
The Trouble with Islam Today shatters our silence. It shows Muslims how we can re-discover Islam's lost tradition of independent thinking -- known as "ijtihad" -- and re-discover it precisely to update Islamic practices for the 21st century. The opportunity to update is especially available to Muslims in the West, because it's there that we enjoy precious freedoms to think, express, challenge and be challenged without fear of state reprisal. In that sense, the Muslim reformation begins in the West.
It doesn't, however, end there. Not by a long shot. People throughout the Islamic world need to know of their God-given right to think for themselves. So The Trouble with Islam Today outlines a global campaign to promote pluralistic and progressive approaches to Islam. I call this non-military campaign "Operation Ijtihad." In turn, the West's support of this campaign will fortify national security, making Operation Ijtihad a priority for all of us who wish to live fatwa-free lives.
Muslims Agrainst Sharia: Islamic Reform Movement
Lastly, the other day I ran across a group called Muslims Agrainst Sharia: Islamic Reform Movement. In checking out the bona fides of this organization I found a link on their website to an interview of their president, Khalim Massoud, by Jamie Glazov on FrontPage Magazine. It's a very positive interview, and given that the founder and editor of FrontPage Magazine is none other than David Horowitz, we can add this group to our list of genuine reform-minded Muslims.
In the interview Massoud lists the goals of his organization as being
- To educate Muslims about dangers presented by Islamic religious texts and why Islam must be reformed.
- To educate non-Muslims about the differences between moderate Muslims and Islamists (a.k.a. Islamic Religious Fanatics, Radical Muslims, Muslim Fundamentalists, Islamic Extremists or Islamofascists).
- To educate both Muslims and non-Muslims alike that Moderate Muslims are also targets of Islamic Terror.
We need groups and individuals like these to help us win the War on Jihadism. Bombs and bullets, propaganda and economic aid are not enough. Diplomacy is a means to and end, but not an end in itself. Islam must be reformed, and we need to support and encourage reform-minded Muslims.
November 27, 2007
Some Questions for Muslim Schools
The Islamic Saudi Acadamy, located in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC, should be closed simply because it is operated and funded by the Wahabist government of Saudi Arabia, which is a totalitarian nightmare. But what about Muslim schools where we cannot find a direct link to a jihadist government or organization? How do we determine if the school has a jihadist or Islamist curriculum, or whether it is simply a religious school that happens to be Islamic?
M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim American and former Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, answers these questions in an article posted at Family Security Matters. Mr. Jasser is the founder and Chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a Phoenix based organization. That Family Security Matters is a pretty conservative outfit vouches for the AIFD by itself, but please visit his website if you'd like to be reassured. These days, it's understandable.
In the article, Mr. Jasser pulls no punches in his description of the Saudis, who's "Wahabism is arguably the primary cancer cell in global militant Islamist ideology." But we shouldn't just stop with the Islamic Saudi Academy, he says, but rather we should use this as a "first step" in bringing accountability to other Islamic schools in the U.S. It's not a small issue, either, for his article cites a 2004 National Center for Education Statistics study which determined that there were 182 Islamic private schools in the United States. This may seem a small number, but these schools can graduate a lot of students. History shows that determined minorites can make a disproportionate impace.
Harboring no illusions, he warns that
The (Islamist) schools around the country are all relatively new and wasting no time in creating a generation of students which are more likely than not to be defenders of Islamism over anti-Islamist systems based in universal liberty. While only a minority of Muslims send their children to these schools, they are a growing and significant minority countered only by a silent majority of Muslims.
What we need to do is "discuss in a comprehensive public manner, the context in which Islamic parochial schools teach Islamic history." This means examining their curriculum. Mr. Jasser has a series of questions that we need answered by Islamic schools:
1. How does the school teach American history and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights? What is taught about the struggle of our founding fathers against theocracy? Is European Enlightenment ideology taught? Are students encouraged to learn from non-Muslim philosophers especially those who influenced our founding fathers and taught liberty and freedom?
2. Are students taught that sharia is only personal or that it also specifically guides governmental law? Does their answer change whether Muslims are a minority or a majority?
3. Do they view non-Islamic private and public schools as part of a culture of ‘immorality’ and decadence since they are not Islamicized or can non-Islamic schools be morally and equally virtuous?
4. Do they teach their children that ‘being American’ and being ‘free’ is about moral corruption or is being American and free about loving the nation in which they live and sharing equal status before the law regardless of faith tradition?
5. Is complete religious freedom a central part of faith and the practice of religion? In the Islamic school, how are children treated who refuse to participate in school faith practices?
6. Are the children taught Muslim exclusivism with regards to the attainment of paradise in the Hereafter? From that, are the children also taught that government and public institutions must thus be ‘Islamic’ in order for the community as a whole to be able to enter the gates of Heaven?
7. How are student discussions, debate, and intellectual discourses approached regarding American domestic and foreign policy? Do the teachers have a political agenda? Does that agenda demonstrate a dichotomy between Islamist interests and American interests?
8. Is the historical period of Muslim rule of Spain (Andalusia) taught in the context of the history of the world during the Middle Ages or is it looked upon as superior to current day American ideology even after the advances of the Enlightenment?
9. Is the pledge of allegiance administered every day at the beginning of the school day?
Mr. Jasser gets it. He is a true reformer, not one of those "moderates" we are told about who end up holding views antithetical to Western ideas about liberty.
I've blogged about Muslim reformers before, and how we need to support them. Mr Jasser and others like him should be invited to the White House and Congress should invite them to testify. While I can't prove neither has happened, I rather doubt it.
We are in a worldwide war against the forces of jihadism. While part of it will be fought on the battlefield by military forces, in the final analysis it is a War of Ideas. The way you win a War of Ideas is to prevent older believers from passing their ideas into the next generation. I'm going to post a lot more on this shortly, but an obvious first step is to scrutinize Islamic schools, and to do so boldly but fairly. Those that pass muster are more than welcome to particulate fully in our great nation, but those that don't must change or be sent packing.
October 20, 2007
Why We Fight
Via StrategyPage, two instructional videos on why it's ok to beat your wife if you are a Muslim.
October 9, 2007
Book Review - Infidel
Few people on this planet have criticized the way Islam is practiced as harshly as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and few can speak with her authority. She is a hero to conservatives, hated intensely by mamy or most Muslims, and not embraced by enough on the left.
Infidel is her autobiography, published just earlier this year. In 353 pages she tells her story, and is not at all shy about discussing "intimate" matters. Indeed, these "intimate matters" are some of the most important and revealing parts of her book.
Hirsi Ali does not directly discuss political matters other than those that relate to Islam in her book. She doesn't get into whether we should have invaded Iraq, and does not make clear whether she would be a social liberal or conservative. She never mentions Israel, nor does she give her opinion on economic affairs. She is a single-issue person, and that issue is Islam. She very much belives that Islam must undergo a fundamental reform, and has no patience with those who say that "moderate Muslims" are the answer. Having seen and experienced the brutal way in which women are treated in most of the Muslim world, she has made their plight central to her cause.
Infidel is at once moving and informative. It is an easy yet intense read. It certainly falls into the "you can't put it down" category. Despite all that she has been through, this is not an "angry" book, as Because They Hate arguably was.
Born in Somalia in 1969, she was brought up mostly by her mother and grandmother, he r father having been imprisoned by the dicatator Said Barre when she was five. While her mother tended towards more modern ways of doing things, grandmother was intensely traditional, and intent of maintainly the old ways. As such, she made sure that Hirsi Ali and her sister underwent "excism" (or "female circumcision") when they were young. This procedure is described in just enough detail for the reader to cringe. Essentially, with no anesthesia the inner labia and clitoris are cut off with a pair of scissors. She was then sewn shut, with just enough of an opening left for her to urinate and later for menstrual blood to escape.
To make a long story short, she and her family moved several times around the region to escape Barre's wrath, and the civil war raging against him in Somalia. Her family, lived at times in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. In these places she learned English and Arabic. She also met and interacted with Christians and agnostics, mostly in Ethiopia and Kenya. As such, she was exposed to other ideas and ways of doing things. Hirsi Ali
Her father was away for much of the time, sometimes in prison but mostly just off on various adventures, all of which designed to overthrow the hated Barre. She was mostly raised by her mother and grandmother. Hirsi Ali's life family life was very hard, although she didn't really know it at the time. . She describes daily beatings by her mother, which continued almost until adulthood.
Although she was a Muslim, she was also a voracious reader, devouring all books that came her way. As it was these were mostly Western romance novels. While young she did not see the contradiction, but this would soon change.
Hirsi Ali experienced the Muslim Brotherhood firsthand while living in Kenya. She describes how they sent money and preachers, took over the local mosques, and made it their mission to change the way Islam was practiced. In large part they succeeded. Their brand of Islam is very harsh, and they convinced a lot of people that their more moderate practices were not in accordance with what the prophet wanted. Brotherhood preachers insisted on ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE to the various parts of the Quran that justify a husband's dictatorial rule over his wife, wife beating, female circumcision, and the like. No questioning or even discussion was allowed.
The plight of women under Islam is indirectly the subject of much of the book, if only because Hirsi Ali is a woman herself, and saw and experienced many of the horrors that Islamic culture visits upon them.
Despite the presence of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, she grew up reading western romance novels, and dreamed of falling in love Western-style. She was shocked to learn of the way marriages really worked in Islam. On her marriage night, and apparengly thereafter, if the woman shows any interest in forplay she is by definition a whore. Muslim men have a fixation on female virginity that borders on the pathological. Hirsi Ali goes into some detail on this, and some of it bears repeating herSex is not only joyless but mechanical. Afterwards the man immediately goes into the bathroom afterward to wash and thus "purify" himself (the Muslim fixation on purification is nothing short of bizarre). Also, if the woman bleeds on her wedding night (and she better, or else she's a not a virgin and can be killed by her family), the man takes the stained bedsheets and shows them to his family, friends, sometimes the entire neighborhood, and all the men congratulate him.
Hirsi Ali had female friend after female friend tell her these things while she was growing up (she was ner shy about asking questions), and of course she was horrified. That is was not what she thought marriage should or would be like. Worse, she experienced it herself the night of her first marriage (she subsequently ran away from this marriage, getting it annuled some eyars later).
All marriages are arranged ones. Girls barly past puberty were married off to older men on a regular basis. She describes how girls would disappear from school, and then a few years later she would see them with one or two children in tow. In circumstances where she found beforhand that a girlfrend was about to be married, the girl was always petrified. The wedding was joyless and so was their life. As often as not they ended up hateing their husbands. They went from a carefree childhood straight into a life of misery.
Some will object that things like female circumcision, wife beating, arranged marriages and the like are not part of Islam but are cultural holdovers from old times. Hirsi Ali makes the point that while it is true that these predated Islam, today their proponents use Islam to justify them. So it's a distinction without a difference, the point being that it is Islam that needs to be reformed.
Muslim families may appear tightly nit, but it's all with a condition; that each member absolutely obey the various dictates. If anyone, especially a woman, strays, she is at the very least disowned (even by "loving" parents), or even killed by family members.
Wife beatings were (are) at epidemic levels in the Muslim world. At night it was a regular occurance to hear the husband next door (or farther away) beat his wife. Later, in Holland, Hirsi Ali discovered that it was also widespread among Muslim immigrants.
We only know Ayaan Hirsi Ali because she chose to escape from an arranged marriage. In 1992, while in Somalia, a man approached her father while they were at a local Mosque and asked to marry his eldest daugher, Hirsi Ali. After a brief conversation with him her father immediately agreed, and Hirsi Ali was given no say in the matter. Upon meeting him she took an immediate dislike to him. After a brief ceremony in Somalia, she was supposed to travel to Canada to live with him, but fled during a stopover in Germany. She made her way to Holland, and applied for refugee status.
She admits that she invented a story on her application to gain asylum, which she said was a common practice. She also changed her name somewhat, from Ayaan Hirsi Magan to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She also changed her age, saying she was born in 1967 instead of 1969. She did this to escape detection by her Somali clan, who were trying to track her down. She has never hidden this fact, and even while running for parliament was open about these things.
While in the refugee camps in Holland she met people of other cultures, particularly Ethiopians and Bosnians. She was also exposed to the openness of Western society. As a Muslim she had been taught that if a woman simply went outside with any part of her body uncovered, men would go wild with sexual lust. She saw that this was completely false, which led her to question the basis for so many Muslim restrictions.
She also saw the Somali refugees develop a "culture of entitlement". They learned that if you cry "racism" you get what you want, Hirs Ali relates how some even bragged about this to her. Most of them sat around the camps complaining about their situation, rather than doing anything about it.
Hirsi Ali was not one to sit around, however. She got a job as translator, and eventually put herself through Leiden University, graduating with a Masters in Political Science. After this she took a position as a researcher with Wiardi Beckman Foundation, a Dutch think tank.
During this time she came to observe the effects of Dutch multiculturalism, and concluded that it's effects were harmful on both the immigrants and to Holland.
As she tells it, theDutch think they're doing good by letting Muslim minorities like the Somalis live in their own communities, maintaining their own way of life, and attend their own schools. In reality this perpetuates the complaining, the culture of entitlement, and the wife beatings. Female circumcision is widely practiced by these Muslims while in Holland. In sum, multiculturalism breads extremism because Muslim immigrants never integrate, and thus never accept Western values.
Unable to reconcile Islam with the brutal way in which it is practiced in much of the world, Hirsi Ali rejected it and became an apostate. She has not adopted any other religion, and describes herself now as an athiest. She also became quite estranged from her family, and although at times her father would warm up to her, in general ties with family and clan have been cut.
It was Dutch response the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001, that shocked her into the realization that most people in the West had no idea of what Islam was about. She heard one politically correct homily after another that Islam was a "religion of peace" and that how "only a small minority were violent". Finally she had to act. She made it her mission to educate the Dutch, and eventually the world, on the realities of Islam; that whatever it was in theory, it was anything but peaceful in practice.
She was approached by the Liberal (VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, a conservative party) Party to run for parliament. She was elected in 2002, although as it turned out they were not part of the government that was formed. She had three goals as a parlamentarian: to make Holland wake up and stop tolerating the oppression of Muslim women, two, to start a debate among Muslims about reforming their faith, and lastly for Muslim women to stop tolerating their abuse and realize that no, they don't have to accept beatings because "it's the will of Allah".
While in Holland she met Theo van Gogh (a descendent of you-know-who) and in 2004 they made Submission Part I, a 10 minute film about the plight of women under Islam. "Submission" is Arabic for "Islam". The writing on the woman's body are passages from the Quran. Here it is
A part II was never made because in November of 2004 Theo van Gogh was murdered by radical Islamist Mohammed Bouyeri in broad daylight on an Amsterdam street. Bouyere ambushed van Gogh as the latter rode to work on his bicycle, shooting him several times, nearly sawing off his head with a butcher knife, then pinning to his chest a 5 page letter. The letter was addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali and was a threat that she would be next.
Hirsi Ali was already under police protection for threats made against her, but at this point it went to an altogether different level. Security details took her out of the country, and for the next several months she was effectively in hiding.
In 2006 she found her Dutch citizenship revoked when the government ruled that she had lied about her age and name on her application in 1997 when coming into Holland. While true, the entire affair was as much a result of political pressure as anything.
The whole thing was very controversial, and she resigned from parliament over the issue. As it turned out, however, the government fell over the issue. In the end the decision was overturned and she was allowed to keep her citizenship. Despite this trauma, she explains in the book that in the end she holds no grudge.
In 2006 she accepted a position with the American Enterprise Institute. Her role there "will be researching the relationship between the West and Islam; women's rights in Islam; violence against women propagated by religious and cultural arguments; and Islam in Europe." She maintains her Dutch citizenship, and the government of Holland still pays for her protection.
There was some recent controversy over this, and October 5 Holland announced that they would't pay for her protection while abroad. This forced her to go back to Holland. However, just yesterday it was revealed that she was back in the US, where her protection is now privately funded. The Dutch parliament is due to take up the issue again this week. As Anne Applebaum points out, given that many of the threats against her are from groups based in Holland, and she is essentially defending Dutch values, the least they could do is protect her from assassination.
Hirsi Ali has little patience with those who talk about "moderate" versus violent Islam. To her, the "moderates" are simply those who keep their heads down. She thinks that Islam must truely be reformed, and that Muslims are going to have to "enter into a conversation with Allah" if they are to be successful. As Islam is practiced now, a "conversation with Allah" is inconceivable. To her, this is the crux of the matter.
She also has no patience with those who insist that 90% (or whatever figure) of Muslims are peaceful and it is only a tiny minority who are a problem. Hirsi Ali is not talking about bombings or hijackings. She is talking about the horrors visited upon women in the name of Islam; beatings, honor killings, circumcision, complete denial of rights and total second class citizenship. She also has no patience for those who try and counter her criticism with attacks on Christianity. There is simply no comparison, for example, between the sex scandals rocking the Catholic Church in the US and what goes on under Islam. The former is a crime not approved of by the Bible or officialy by any Christian. On the other hand, it is quite common throughout the Muslim world for Imams to teach that men should beat their wives and kill their daughters if they do not obey ("honor killings"). In fact, one of Hirsi Ali's accomplishments as parliamentarian was make the police gather data on honor killings. They found it was more widespread than anyone had dared imagine.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the bravest women on the planet, and deserves the support of all freedom loving men and women. Whether you agree with all that she says is irrelevant. At the very least, Islam must learn to accept criticism without widespread resort to threats and violence. And she is right; there is no comparison between how Islam and other religions are practiced, for the moral equivalence crowd is simply wrong. I wish Hirsi Ali would adopt Christianity, but given all that she has been through can understand why she is an athiest. It is wrong and bad to say that "Islam is evil". It is also wrong to say that there is no problem with Islam except for a few extremists. Hirsi Ali asks Muslims to speak with Allah and ask the hard questions, for their religion needs to be reformed. She asks the rest of us not to ignore a problem in our midst, as we must not be blinded by multiculturalism or political correctness. In the end, everyone should listen to her.
There is, of course, much out there about Hirsi Ali, but in recent months these two articles struck me as worth posting:
She's No Fundamentalist: What People Get Wrong About Ayaan Hirsi Ali by Christopher Hitchens. Here's Hitch on Western intellectuals who essentially say she ought to shut up.
In ACLU circles, we often refer to ourselves as "First Amendment absolutists." By this we mean, ironically enough, that we prefer to interpret the words of the Founders, if you insist, literally. The literal meaning in this case seems (to us) to be that Congress cannot inhibit any speech or establish any state religion. This means that we defend all expressions of opinion including those that revolt us, and that we say that nobody can be forced to practice, or forced to foreswear, any faith. I suppose I would say that this is an inflexible principle, or even a dogma, with me. But who dares to say that's the same as the belief that criticism of religion should be censored or the belief that faith should be imposed? To flirt with this equivalence is to give in to the demagogues and to hear, underneath their yells of triumph, the dismal moan of the trahison des clercs and "the enlightenment driven away." Perhaps, though, if I said that my principles were a matter of unalterable divine revelation and that I was prepared to use random violence in order to get "respect" for them, I could hope for a more sympathetic audience from some of our intellectuals.
Jihadwatch excerpts an interview with her published in Reason magazine (but not available online). Here's a section of the interview
Hirsi Ali: ...There is no moderate Islam. There are Muslims who are passive, who don't all follow the rules of Islam, but there's really only one Islam, defined as submission to the will of God. There's nothing moderate about it.
Reason: So when even a hard-line critic of Islam such as Daniel Pipes says, "Radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution," he's wrong?
Hirsi Ali: He's wrong. Sorry about that.
And most importantly, regarding the current mainstream Western policy of appeasement and multiculturalism
The problem (of Islam) is not going to go away. Confront it, or it's only going to get bigger
September 27, 2007
From Muslim Foot-Baths to Muslim Smoking Rooms
This post by Mark Steyn over at The Corner highlights a situation that is sadly becoming all too typical
Okay, Muslim foot-baths in Kansas City airport, gender-segregated swimming sessions at French municipal pools, banning pork from Aussie hospital menus, no eating donuts for Belgian cops during Ramadan, no seeing-eye dogs or alcohol in Minneapolis taxi cabs, fine, fine, fine. Must be sensitive and all that.
But this is an amazing victory. In Vancouver, infidels can't smoke but Muslims can:Vancouver's hookah-parlour owners are celebrating after winning an exemption Thursday from a proposed new bylaw that will ban smoking on most sidewalks in commercial districts, in bus shelters and even in taxis passing through Vancouver.
In giving the bylaw unanimous approval-in-principle, Vancouver city council members bowed to arguments that hookah lounges provide an important cultural space for the city's Muslims and granted them a temporary exemption...
[Emad Yacoub] said hookah lounges are essential for immigrants from hookah-smoking cultures, because it helps them deal with the depression common for newcomers and gives them places like they have at home.
Where do the rest of us go to deal with depression? As Jay Currie asks, "What about my culture?"By creating a special exemption for Muslims - who do seem to be the only immigrant group actively demanding these sorts of “cultural accommodations” we are basically declaring our Muslim citizens worthy of special treatment and, at the same time, unworthy of the health concerns which are purported to be the basis of general smoking bans.
The state, in other words, is prepared to treat Muslims as free-born adults who can weigh the "cultural value" (ie, the pleasures) of smoking against the health risks. But not the rest of us.
September 26, 2007
An Anti-Salafist We Need
If we are to win the War on Jihadism we need to enlist and encourage as many reform-minded Muslims as possible. Right now it seems that the jihadists have the upper hand, but there are some Muslims trying to change all that. One was profiled by the Washington Times today
Exiled Egyptian cleric Ahmed Subhy Mansour, whose teachings have earned him dozens of death "fatwas" from fellow Muslim clerics, uses the English translation for al Qaeda — meaning "the base" — to describe a plan to defeat Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, who he says have seized control of Islam.
"Suppose you have here [in the United States] a base to counter al Qaeda in the war of ideas?" Sheik Mansour asked during a recent luncheon at The Washington Times.
"You could convince a large number — millions of silent Muslims. We can convince them very easily that the real enemy is not the United States. It is not Israel. The real enemy is the dictators in the Muslim world and the culture of the Wahhabis and Muslim Brotherhood," he said, referring to the dominant arbiters of Islamic orthodoxy in Saudi Arabia and Egypt respectively.
Sounds like my kind of guy.
He certainly says all the right things. First, he he properly identified the enemy as Wahhanism and the Muslim Brotherhood. They make up the first two branches of the jihad, the third being the Khumeinists. Either way, he isn't like so many who only see the enemy as being al Qaeda.
Most interestingly, Dr. Mansour has founded his own branch of Islam
Sheik Mansour is the founder of a small Egyptian sect that is neither Sunni nor Shi"ite. They call themselves Quranists because they believe that the Koran represents the single authentic scripture of Islam. They especially anger Sunni Muslims by rejecting the Hadith and Sunna, purported sayings and traditions of the prophet Muhammad.
Before you laugh and dismiss him as a nut who won't get anywhere, recall that not too many centuries ago they said the same thing about Martin Luther and John Calvin. Recall also that they did not succeed overnight, but that their efforts took tens of years, even centuries, to pay off. If they and others could reform Christianity, I see no reason why men like Dr. Mansour can't reform Islam.
Long story short, Dr. Mansour was a former professor of Islamic history at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He was dismissed in 1987 on charges of being a heretic, and eventually fled to the U.S. in late 2001 where he was granted political asylum.
His organization is called the International Quranic Center. From their website, their goals are to
1) To advocate peaceful reform in the Muslim world based on democracy and human rights and to offer practical strategies for such change;
2) To mobilize on the web and convene in person open-minded scholars of the Quran to share research demonstrating the consistency of Islam with democracy;
3) To communicate the value of ecumenical democracy to Muslims of all denominations;
4) To initiate a real inter-religious dialogue among Muslims, Christians, Jews, and members of all religions who believe in creating societies based upon tolerance and justice.
5) To educate Muslims in America to understand and interpret Islam as consistent with American democracy.
Works for me.
No Moderates Wanted
I am not interested in Muslims who claim to be moderates.
I am interested in Muslims who want to reform their religion.
If you're not clear on the difference between Muslim moderates and Muslim reformers, here it is, and why the former are part of the problem:
An act of terror is committed by a group which says it is acting in the name of Islam
- The moderate Muslim condemns the act in no uncertain terms but then says that Islam has nothing do do with it. He says that the terrorist group hijacked Islam or misinterpreted it.
- The reformist Muslim condemns the act in no uncertain terms but then says that Islam as it is interpreted and practiced today is part of the problem. He says that Islam needs to undergo a reform in the same way Christianity was reformed by Martin Luther et all 500 years ago.
This is a tough thing to say but the fact is that Islam has a problem with violence and the theory of the jihad and needs to be reformed. Christianity underwent this reformation hundreds of years ago, but Islam never did. Until this occurs we will have problems.
It is also why I champion people like Irshad Manji and Dr Mansour.
Where In The World...
So why did I find out about Dr Mansour and his organization from the Washington Times? Why are he and others not like him like Irshad Manji not invited to the White House every week?
For that matter, why do I not see any other politicians from either party inviting him to their events? If they were I think I would have heard about it by now.
Part of the reason why such reformers are ignored is that the Saudi govnerment tells soothing lies that too many in our government, and especially in the State Department, believe. They urge us to shun true reformers and insist that Wahhabism is peaceful. The purpose of the Saudi government is to act as a "cover" for their Wahhabists, to pull the wool over our eyes, as it were. They are all to successful.
One of the biggest failures of the Bush Administration has been it's utter failure to use our country's vast reservour of "soft power" to influence world events. As part of this, one of the things they should have is a program to encourage reformers like Dr Mansour. Instead, President Bush is locked into only dealing with traditional Muslim groups, many of which end up having suspicious links to the radicals.
For that matter, where are groups like the National Organization of Women (NOW)? From what I can tell their excuse is that they're only concerned with women in the US, hence the "National". Ok, but can't they help a little bit?
To be sure, it would be nice of someone at the White House or in the Democrat party would think to try and enlist them. Sure, I'm miles apart from NOW on just about every domestic issue, but surely they would be great allies in fighing the horrible abuse of women in most of the Muslim world.
I was listening to Glenn Beck today and one of his ideas was to hae Dianne Sawyer and Oprah Winfrey highlight the plight of women under Islam in most of the Muslim world. I've long thought that one way to undermine the Salafists is to highlight their abuse of women through a human rights campaign.
I'm straying from my topic a bit, but it's really all part of the "soft power" I mentioned earlier. Islam needs to be reformed, and the reformers need our help. Some of it can come from the government, and some from private individuals and institutions.
Can we please get started?
June 21, 2007
About What I Think Too
A view of Islam from the UK (hat tip NRO)
June 20, 2007
"Journey Into Islam"
Tony Blankley today hits on an important aspect of our current War on Jihadism and the current state of Islam:
Writing in the Washington Times, Blankley describes his debate with his friend, Professor Akbar Ahmed. Dr Ahmed is "former Pakistani High Commissioner to Britain and member of the faculties of Harvard, Princeton and Cambridge, current chair of Islamic Studies at American University." He is further described by Blankley as a moderate, and coming from Tony such a description has a lot of credibility.
Blankley is, after all, no starry-eyed liberal. His most recent book, The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations? would warm the heart of any one who thinks that we are threatened by jihadists.
Dr Ahmed's new book is Journey into Islam: The crisis of globalization. It is the result of a 6-month investigation of attitudes in the Muslim world that he conducted, assisted by 3 of his students.
His conclusion: Due to both misjudgments by the United States and regrettable developments in Muslim attitudes "[t]he poisons are spreading so rapidly that without immediate remedial action, no antidote may ever be found." And Dr. Ahmed has always been an optimist.
He divides Muslim attitudes into three categories named after Indian Muslim cities that have historically championed them: Ajmer, Aligarh and Deoband. Ajmers represent peaceful, Sufi mysticism. Aligarh represents the instinct to modernize without corrupting Islam. Deoband represents non-fatalistic, practical action oriented orthodox Islam. It traces to Ibn Taymiyya, a 14th-century thinker who lived when Islam was reeling from the Mongol invasions.
The name "Ibn Taymiyya" will be familiar to readers of this blog who followed my 6 part review of Walid Phares' Future Jihad. Taymiya (spellings vary) (1263-1328) developed the doctrine of takfir, essentially the Muslim equivalent of the inquisition. This would later develop into the Salafi movement which would in turn spawn Wahabism and the Muslim Brotherhood, two branches of the worldwide jihad (the third being the Khomeinists).
Dr. Ahmed himself is an Aligarh. As described by Blankley, the Aligarth's "hoped to build a modern democracy, overcome tribalism and the more obscurantist aspects of Islam while still being "good Muslims."" Works for me.
The Deobands are the ones to worry about. Osama bin Laden and similar groups are part of this group.
The bottom line is that according to Dr. Ahmed, the bad guys are winning.
Meeting with people from presidents to cab drivers, from elite professors to students from modest schools (Dr. Ahmed holds a respected place in the Muslim firmament around the globe), he reports that 50 percent want Shariah law, support the Bali terrorist bombing, oppose women in politics, support stoning adulterers too death. Indonesia's secular legal system and tolerant pluralist society is being "infiltrated by Deoband thinking... Dwindling moderates and growing extremists are a dangerous challenging development." Although I dissent from several of Dr. Ahmed's characterizations of the Bush administration, Washington policy-makers and journalists should read this book because it delivers a terrible message of warning both to those who say things aren't as bad as Mr. Bush says, and we can rely on the moderate voices of Islam with a little assist from the West — winning; and for those who argue for aggressive American action to show our strength to the Muslims (because, in bin Laden's words, they follow the strong horse).
Unfortunately our president seems to have lost his way, and the left is to mired in Bush-hatred to get much out of analysis of this sort. The president now seems to want to make nicey-nice with those who hate him, making noises about joining the global warming crusaders, and now virtually allied with Ted Kennedy on immigration. The left argues that "they all hate us now because of Iraq", and that "there is no jihadist threat, it's all an invention of the neo-cons". They believe that if only we'd pressure Israel more and "work with our allies and the UN" everything will be fine. The president at one time wanted us to be the "strong horse", the left abhors the thought.
We need to be that strong horse. Part of being the strong horse is military power, not quitting in Iraq, and redoubling our efforts in Afghanistan. Part of it is also using "soft power", something we haven't done very well. Either way, the first step towards solving a problem is recognizing that it exists.
May 31, 2007
The Doctrine of Mahdism
This latest from MEMRI fits in well with many of my postings regarding the Hojjatieh Society and the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (see links at bottom). While some of what follows might seem esoteric or irrelevant, that fact is that in order to formulate a proper policy towards Iran we need to understand what motivates their leaders. We need to understand that the Iranians (more accurately "Khumenists") do not follow the dictates of Western geopolitical thinking. Following are some excerpts from the MEMRI report:
The Doctrine of Mahdism: In the Ideological and Political Philosophy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi
According to Shi’ite tradition, the Twelve Imams, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali Ibn Abi Talib, were endowed with divine qualities that enabled them to lead the Shi’ite believers and to function as Allah’s emissaries on earth. However, when the Twelfth Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdi  disappeared in 941 CE, his connection with the Shi’ite believers was severed, and since then, the Shi’ites are commanded to await his return at any time.
In the meantime, Shi’ite senior clerics are considered to be the representatives of the Imams, and thus have the authority to handle the affairs of the Shi’ite community, mainly in the religious and judicial spheres, until the Hidden Imam returns to lead the Shi’ite community and deliver it from its suffering.
According to Shi’ite belief, during the period of the Mahdi’s absence (termed ghaibat or “occultation”), no one but God knows the hour of the Mahdi’s return, and no man can presume to foresee when this hour will come. Upon the Mahdi’s reappearance, all wrongs will be righted, divine justice will be instated, and the truth of Shi’ite Islam will be acknowledged by the entire world. (Mahdism) 
Mahdism and the Islamic Regime in Iran
From the establishment of the Islamic Regime in 1979 to Ahmadinejad’s rise to power in August 2005, Mahdism had been a religious doctrine and a tradition that had no political manifestation. The political system operated independently of this messianic belief and of the anticipation of the return of the Mahdi. It was only with Ahmadinejad’s presidency that this religious doctrine has become a political philosophy and taken a central place in politics.
Ahmadinejad’s Messianic Policy - Main Characteristics
Immediately upon assuming the presidency, Ahmadinejad began to assert his belief in the imminent return of the Mahdi as the basis for his political activities. Despite the traditional belief that no one can foresee the hour of the Mahdi’s return, Ahmadinejad frequently stated that his coming was nigh, and even gave a more specific prediction. During a meeting with the foreign minister of an Islamic country, he said that the crisis in Iran “presaged the coming of the Hidden Imam, who would appear within the next two years.”  In a December 2006 speech in Kermanshah, Ahmadinejad wished the Christians a merry Christmas and said: “I hereby announce that, with God’s help, the day is not far off when Jesus will return at the side of the Hidden Imam.” 
Not only has Ahmadinejad wished to proclaim the imminent coming of the Mahdi, and thereby to legitimize his policy and actions by associating them with Hidden Imam - but he has also presented himself as being directly connected to God.
Ahmadinejad has also presented himself as being privy to God’s intentions and actions, as reflected in his statement that “God has appointed the Hidden Imam to be our supporter.”  His claim of having a direct relationship with God was also evident in the speech he made upon his return to Iran after addressing the U.N. General Assembly in 2005. Ahmadinejad claimed that, as he was delivering his U.N. address, he felt himself “surrounded by a halo of light” symbolizing the messianic nature of his message to the nations of the world. 
Messianism in Iranian Foreign Policy
The messianic doctrine of Mahdism is also manifest in Iranian foreign policy, especially in its attitude towards the Western superpowers and towards the nuclear program. Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi, mentor to Ahmadinejad, expressed this approach in an October 11, 2006 speech: “The greatest obligation of those awaiting the appearance of the Mahdi is fighting heresy and global arrogance [i.e. the West, primarily the U.S.].” 
These characteristics are also evident in Ahmadinejad’s nuclear policy: In contrast to Khatami’s government, which endeavored to soften the position of the West on the nuclear issue via ongoing dialogue, Ahmadinejad and his close circle do not avoid confronting the West, since they consider this struggle to be one of the ways to prepare the ground for the return of the Mahdi.
According to the Internet daily Rooz, “Some of those close to Ahmadinejad, who frequently speak [of the need] to prepare the ground for the Mahdi’s return, explicitly link the [fate of] the Iranian nuclear dossier to this need... According to reliable information, they stressed, in various private meetings, that the [Iranian] opposition to global pressure [on the Iranian nuclear program] and its insistence on the right to utilize nuclear power are among the ways to prepare the ground for the return of the [Hidden] Imam.” 
Mahdism in the Ideology of Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi
The address given at this year’s International Seminar on the Doctrine of Mahdism by Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi shows that he too regards belief in the Mahdi as a concept that transcends the religious or theoretical realm. Ayatollah Yazdi gave this belief a tangible political-ideological dimension when he explained that the Mahdi’s return would lead to the establishment of a single rule over the entire world, and that the present battle against the infidels and against “the global arrogance” is preparing the ground for, and hastening, the coming of the Mahdi: 
Clerics Criticize Ahmadinejad’s Messianic Policies
Ahmadinejad’s messianic policies have drawn growing criticism from ayatollahs and senior religious figures in the religious seminaries in Qom who oppose the politicization of the messianic doctrine.
Reformist Intellectuals Criticize the Politicization of Mahdism
Intellectual Mohsen Kadivar: “Hasn’t the Time Come for [the Ayatollahs] and the Clerics to Clarify Their Position on These Claims?”
The intellectual and cleric Mohsen Kadivar pointed to the danger posed to Islam by Ahmadinejad’s messianic leanings. In a speech on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, Kadivar criticized the incorporation of the Mahdist doctrine in Ahmadinejad’s political platform. The report was originally published by the ILNA news agency, and is cited on Kadivar’s website:
Sources of footnotes can be found on the MEMRI article linked to at top. I don't have time to set them all up here.
Unfortunately we in the West have a bad habit of "mirror imaging" our concept of reason and logic and how international relations should work onto other countries, regardless of their internal idiology or religion. If we insist on using policies appropriate for 19th or 20th century Europe, we will fail in our approach to Iran.
As bad as the Soviets were, at the end of the day they wanted to live. In retrospect there was a saving grace in the communist idiology in that it's adherents had to be alive in order to implement it. The Soviets didn't want millions of their citizens to die.
The Khumeinists are another matter. Their radical version of Islam tells them that if a Muslim "innocent bystander" is killed during a jihad, then he goes to heaven, so what's the problem? The doctrine of Mahdism outlined above only complicates matters, but if we understand them we can at least begin to formulate a policy that takes their motivations into account.
You can also download the report from MEMRI as a pdf document
April 19, 2007
April 19 is Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day
The main event is the showing of the film Obsession: Radical Islam's War against the West at participating college campuses.
From the Terrorism Awareness Project website
The Terrorism Awareness Project is a new program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center dedicated to waking up Americans—and particularly American college students--to the threat of militant Islam. ...
Obsession is a wake up call. It offers a direct and chilling profile of what is brewing in the world of jihad right now—the plans for the mass murder of Americans and other Westerners and the justification that rationalizes radical Islam’s blueprints for genocide.
We anticipate a great deal of opposition from the radical left that refuses to recognize that the War on Terror was not started by Washington, but has been declared on us by a global confederacy of Islamists dedicated to the subjugation and murder of us and other "infidels".
Campuses Participating in Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day
Arizona State University
Boise State University
Columbus State Community College
Florida State University
Franciscan University of Steubenville
George Mason University
Holloman Air Force Base
Indiana State University
Indiana University Southeast
Johnson and Wales University
Kansas Wesleyan University
Kansas Wesleyan University
Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Missouri State University
Missouri Western State University
Mountain Home AFB
New Mexico State
North Carolina State
Northern Arizona University
Palisades Charter High School
Rhodes State College
Roger Williams University
Saint Anselm College
Saint Francis University
Santa Ana College
Santa Barbara City College
SUNY New Paltz
The College of New Jersey
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University
The University of Arizona
U of Alabama
U of Maryland, Baltimore County
U of Wisconsin - La Crosse
UNC - Chapel Hill
University of Alabama
University of Colorado
University of Delaware
University of Florida
University of Iowa
University of Memphis
University of Miami
University of New Haven
University of North Carolina Greensboro
University of Notre Dame
University of Rhode Island
University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
University of Texas Austin
University of Toledo
University of Washington - Tacoma
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Washington University in St. Louis
Horowitz is an amazing guy and I had the pleasure of meeting him briefly when he signed his latest book (Indoctrination U)for me at CPAC 2007. I've read several of his books over the years, and never cease to be impressed with his energy and dedication. He correctly recognizes that a key to winning the ideological struggle against Islamo-Fascism will be fought at our universities.
Horowitz is fighting the good fight, and deserves our support.
April 18, 2007
Irshad Manji - A Type of Muslim We Need
Last week at the end of my last book review I mentioned that I was now reading Robert Spencer's The Truth About Muhammed, and that when I was finished I'd review it here on Redhunter.
Last weekend I heard Irshad Manji interviewed by Monika Crowley on her radio show. I'd heard of Manji before, but didn't know much about her.
Irshad Manji is a Muslim woman who has decided that her religion needs serious reform. The title of her book says it all: The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith . The title of her website is also revealing: "Muslim Refusenik"
What impressed me most about Manji during the interview was when she said that moderates were part of the problem with Islam. Wow, I thought, you won't find that said out loud at any Washington DC dinner parties. But it's true. And we're at the point where the truth needs to be spoken about Islam, and spoken with all the PC restrictions gone.
The reason I'm posting this is that with all that's been said about Islam on the right these days it's important not to demonize the religion. Yes the religion is in serious need of reform. No it's not an "evil religion" or anything like that (Note: As a Christian, I believe Islam is a false religion. I could hardly think otherwise and call myself a Christian. But that does not mean it is evil or should be otherwise demonized).
I haven't read Manji's book yet, and don't know any details about her call for reform. But I will put her book on my "to read" list and at some point will pick it up and post a review.
Btw, here's the difference between a Muslim moderate and a reformer, and why the former are part of the problem:
An act of terror is committed by a group which says it is acting in the name of Islam
- The moderate Muslim condemns the act in no uncertain terms but then says that Islam has nothing do do with it. He says that the terrorist group hijacked Islam or misinterpreted it.
- The reformist Muslim condemns the act in no uncertain terms but then says that Islam as it is interpreted and practiced today is part of the problem. He says that Islam needs to undergo a reform in the same way Christianity was reformed by Martin Luther et all 500 years ago.
Like Manji, I'm not interested in moderate Muslims anymore. I'm only interested in reformers.
October 12, 2006
The Intifada in France
Five days ago in a book review of Melanie Phillips must-read Londonistan, I mentioned a story in one of the London papers, The Telegraph, in which a French police union official was quoted as saying that the country was "in a state of civil war" with the inhabitants of Muslim neighborhoods.
Today the Washington Times finally got around to reporting on the story, simply reprinting the Telegraph story. The original date on the story was October 5, so it was 2 days old when I wrote about it. Now it is a week old.
I have not done much of a search of US papers, but a quick look at the European section of the Washington Post didn't reveal anything. It is possible they've carried stories on it but I missed it. I also browse other news sites during the day and have not seen anything there either. Again, I might have missed it, but nothing jumped out at me.
Two lessons: Most of the US media is blissfully unaware of how bad the situation has gotten in Europe, and two, without the Internet I'd be blissfully unaware also.
In case you're not up on the situation, here are the essential parts of the story from the Telegraph
Radical Muslims in France's housing estates are waging an undeclared "intifada" against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day.
As the interior ministry said that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were "in a state of civil war" with Muslims in the most depressed "banlieue" estates which are heavily populated by unemployed youths of north African origin.
It said the situation was so grave that it had asked the government to provide police with armoured cars to protect officers in the estates, which are becoming no-go zones.
Michel Thoomis, the secretary general of the hardline Action Police trade union, has written to Mr Sarkozy warning of an "intifada" on the estates and demanding that officers be given armoured cars in the most dangerous areas.
He said yesterday: "We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists. This is not a question of urban violence any more, it is an intifada, with stones and Molotov cocktails. You no longer see two or three youths confronting police, you see whole tower blocks emptying into the streets to set their 'comrades' free when they are arrested."
He added: "We need armoured vehicles and water cannon. They are the only things that can disperse crowds of hundreds of people who are trying to kill police and burn their vehicles."
However, Gerard Demarcq, of the largest police unions, Alliance, dismissed talk of an "intifada" as representing the views of only a minority.
Minority view or no, the fact that an average of 14 police officers per day are being hurt, and that they need armored vehicles and water cannon is alarming.
If it weren't for the widespread riots by Muslim "youths" in France last October and November, in which some 10,000 cars were burned and thousands arrested, it might be tempting to think that the Telegraph was exaggerating. As it is, we should take it seriously and be very worried about the future of Europe.
As this post at RealClearPolitics makes clear, the foreign policy elite are deeply in denial.
The post cites an article in Foreign Affairs, titled "France and its Muslims", by Stéphanie Giry
According to Giry
Some French and foreign observers have interpreted last November's riots in poor, largely Muslim neighborhoods throughout the country as a skirmish in a broader clash of civilizations. Yet the strife had little to do with yearnings for a worldwide caliphate and much to do with domestic socioeconomic problems. ...
The status of Muslims in France is at once much healthier and more problematic than most recent commentary lets on.
According to RealClearPolitics, Foreign Affairs summarized the article thusly
"The recent panic over the rise of Islamic extremism in Europe has overlooked a key fact: the majority of European Muslims are trying hard to fit in, not opt out. This is especially clear in France, where the picture is much brighter than often acknowledged. Unfortunately, cynical politicians and the clumsy elite are now making matters much worse."
In other words, if we ignore the problem of Muslim extremism it will go away. This is just what Melanie Phillips warns against in Londonistan and on her blog every day.
The author of the post on RealClearPolitics, David Warren, sums up the contradition between the Telegraph and Foreign Affairs articles
There are two ways to reconcile these two articles. One is to assume that the Telegraph dispatch, confirmed by several sources in France, was made up from whole cloth. The other is to assume that the Foreign Affairs writer, even though she has a law degree from Yale, is writing nonsense.
She's writing nonsense.
The Difference with Muslims
There are going to be those, especially in the United States, who will dismiss me as a nativist. "People are always afraid of immigrants", "You just don't like them because they're different", "You're blowing this out of proportion. I'm sure there were disturbances by Italians/Irish/German/Chinese/Japanese immigrants in the United States in the 19th century and early 20th" and of course, the comparison to our problem with illegal aliens ("undocumented immigrants" as the left calls them).
As a student of history I am reasonably well informed about my country's history with immigrants. But there are two big difference with these immigrants and the Muslims
1) The Muslims come from cultures that have not gone through or been influenced by the Renaissance, Reformation, or Enlightenment. The Muslims have a largely Medieval mindset and there is no getting around it.
2) There are far too many Muslim extremists among the immigrants. You simply did not have this with the Italians/Irish/German/Chinese/Japanese immigrants of past. There is no getting around this, either.
Yes I know that in the past some countries in Europe, notably France, have absorbed Muslim immigrants with no problems. But back then everyone expected the immigrants to assimilate to some degree, and you did not have the current problem of extremism that you have today. Leftist multiculturalism has made a bad situation worse.
The problem with Muslim extremism in Europe is serious and getting worse. I hate to sound like an alarmist, but it's true. Ignoring it won't make it go away.
Threatswatch has more on the French Intifada, which, they conclude, is growing.
October 3, 2006
The Hojjatieh Society
One of my favorite radio talk-show hosts is Glenn Beck, and recently he's been talking about something called The Hojjatieh Society. Glenn is convinced that the leaders of Iran are not only up to no good, but that they represent a unique threat that is mostly unappreciated. Further, Iran is allying itself with Venezuela and other anti-American forces around the globe. "The stars are aligning against us", he likes to say.
I think he may be on to something.
What is the Hojjatieh society or sect? Here's the short version: The Hojjatieh are a sect of Shii Islam that is so radical that it was banned by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1983. The current President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as several of his cabinet ministers, are adherents to the Hojjatieh faith.
The current leader of Iran more radical than Khomeini? That certainly gets my attention. I hope it gets yours.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. What follows will chill you to the bone.
One of the best articles I was able to find on the Hojjatieh was one by Patrick Poole on FrontPage Magazine. Poole provides the background
Most Shiites await the return of the 12th Shiite Imam, Muhammad ibn Hasan, the last direct male descendent of the Prophet Mohammed’s son-in-law Ali, who disappeared in 874AD and is believed to be in an invisible, deathless state of existene, or “occultation”, awaiting his return. Though it is discounted even by the most extremist clerics, a popular belief in Iran holds that the 12th Imam, also called the Mahdi or the sahib-e zaman (“the Ruler of Time”), lives at the bottom of a well in Jamkaran, just outside of Qom. Devotees drop written requests into the well to communicate with the Mahdi. His reappearance will usher in a new era of peace as Islam vanquishes all of its enemies. The Sunnis, who reject the successors of Ali, believe that the Mahdi has yet to be born.
So far all this is standard Shiite Islam. Ahmadinejad takes the well part very seriously. Not too long ago he and his cabinet ministers signed a petition to the hidden imam urging his speedy return, went to the very well, and dropped it down.
But here's where it gets interesting. Poole again
...rooted in the Shiite ideology of martyrdom and violence, the Hojjatieh sect adds messianic and apocalyptic elements to an already volatile theology. They believe that chaos and bloodshed must precede the return of the 12th Imam, called the Mahdi. But unlike the biblical apocalypse, where the return of Jesus is preceded by waves of divinely decreed natural disasters, the summoning of the Mahdi through chaos and violence is wholly in the realm of human action. The Hojjatieh faith puts inordinate stress on the human ability to direct divinely appointed events. By creating the apocalyptic chaos, the Hojjatiehs believe it is entirely in the power of believers to affect the Mahdi’s reappearance, the institution of Islamic government worldwide, and the destruction of all competing faiths.
Get it? Ahmadinejad and his ministers may be trying to create the chaos and bloodshed they think is necessary to entice the Mahdi into returning. They are not trying to acquire nuclear weapons simply to become the primary hegemon in their part of the world. If they get them, I think they mean to use them.
Ahmadinejad, Poole says, "believes he has personally received a divine appointment to herald the imminent arrival of the Mahdi", so this Hojjatieh stuff is not just a some-time belief of his.
Telling the Whole World
What is most madding is that Ahmadinejad is not making a secret about any of this. Just this past September 29 he gave a speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations in which he made many references to the Mahdi that he believes will return.
Most of the speech is fairly pedestrian, and it's only at the end that he lets himself go, and where we see the real Ahmadinejad.
The almighty and merciful God, who is the creator of the universe, is also its lord and ruler. Justice is his command. He commands his creatures to support one another in good, virtue, and piety, and not in decadence and corruption.
He commands his creatures to enjoin one another to righteousness and virtue, and not to sin and transgression. All divine prophets, from the prophet Adam, peace be upon him, to the prophet Moses, to the prophet Jesus Christ, to the prophet Mohammad, have all called humanity to monotheism, justice, brotherhood, love and compassion.
Is it not possible to build a better world based on monotheism, justice, love and respect for the rights of human beings and thereby transform animosities into friendship?
I emphatically declare that today's world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people, with love for all humanity, and, above all, longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.
Oh, almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirst for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and makers among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause.
We can imagine the result if a Western leader, especially President Bush, spoke so forthrightly about religion. Unlike Newsbusters, however, I don't think that it was liberal bias that kept most news outlets from reporting the speech. Most of it, as I said, was boilerplate stuff. But the end is revealing.
However, it was at his September 17 2005 speech, or rather after it, that all doubt is removed that Ahmadinejad believes himself to be on a mission from God. I reported on this incident a few months ago from an article in National Review, but the Newsbusters piece provides the exact link to the story on Radio Free Europe. During the speech, he " called for the reappearance of the 12th Imam." Afterwards the following occured.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad says that when he delivered his speech at the UN General Assembly in September, he felt there was a light around him and that the attention of the world leaders in the audience was unblinkingly focused upon him. The claim has caused a stir in Iran, as a transcript and video recording of Ahmadinejad's comments have been published on an Iranian website, baztab.com. There are also reports that a CD showing Ahmadinejad making the comments also has been widely distributed in Iran. Is the Iranian president claiming to be divinely inspired?
Prague, 29 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- According the report by baztab.com, President Ahmadinejad made the comments in a meeting with one of Iran's leading clerics, Ayatollah Javadi Amoli.
Ahmadinejad said that someone present at the UN told him that a light surrounded him while he was delivering his speech to the General Assembly. The Iranian president added that he also sensed it.
"He said when you began with the words 'in the name of God,' I saw that you became surrounded by a light until the end [of the speech]," Ahmadinejad appears to say in the video. "I felt it myself, too. I felt that all of a sudden the atmosphere changed there, and for 27-28 minutes all the leaders did not blink."
Ahmadinejad adds that he is not exaggerating.
"I am not exaggerating when I say they did not blink; it's not an exaggeration, because I was looking," he says. "They were astonished as if a hand held them there and made them sit. It had opened their eyes and ears for the message of the Islamic Republic."
The same RFE story reports that "In mid-November, during a speech to Friday prayers leaders from across Iran, Ahmadinejad said that the main mission of the revolution is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam."
So What of It?
Dispute Newsbusters and FrontPage Mag if you want, but Radio Free Europe cannot be dismissed as some wingnut blog.
The story about dropping the petition down the well is disputed by Ahmadinejad's assistants who say that it is used by his enemies to discredit him (from the RFE story). Maybe so. But it is equally possible that it is true and they're just trying to it up so as jnot to give away the game to the infidels.
And of course the president of Iran is somewhat of a figurehead office, with the real power being held by the Assembly of Experts.
Ahmadinejad's term, I believe, ends in 2009. He might be removed before then or might not win reelection. His Hojjatieh sect may lose favor. He might not be able to put his plans into effect.
So there are those who will take a what-me-worry about all this or dismiss it all with a there-go-those-fearmongering-neocons-again.
But I thing such a position is far too risky. From where I sit, Glenn Beck has it about right; the stars are aligning against us, and too many people are ignoring the signs. Ahmadinejad means to start a world war.
September 17, 2006
I Support the Pope
On retrospect, my last post, "The Immaturity of the Islamists", which was about ongoing Muslim riots over the Pope's speech, I didn't come out and say it outright
I support the Pope, no ifs ands or buts.
They don't call the placeLondonistan for nothing.
In that last post I said
I have to think that Pope Benedict shouldn't have quoted that sentence about "things only evil and inhuman, such as his(Mohammed's) command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." He could have made his point more delicately.
Now that I think about it more, I realize that while there are definately times when one has to be diplomatic, we simply can't live our lives in constant fear that we might upset "the Muslims" and cause them to riot. Look, if people want to get upset and write letters to the editor, fine. If they want to write denunciations on blogs fine, as long as they do not encourage, incite, or condone violence. If they want to start a boycott, fine. Those are all good democratic traditions.
But Muslims are simply going to have to understand that rioting, violence and threats of violence are simply unacceptable.
As such, we should stand with anyone who is under attack. We stood by the Danish when they were under assault, and now we should stand with the Pope. Whether you are Roman Catholic or not is irrelevant.
Mario Mauro, vice-president of the European Parliament, said in a statement today, "Let us defend the Pope without ifs or buts, let us defend reason," in answer to the reactions from the Muslim world to Pope Benedict XVI's lecture at the University of Regensburg on Tuesday.
"The monstruous attempt on the part of many Islamic leaders, even the so-called moderates, to distort the Pope's reaching out to all religions (through the lecture),in order to hit out at Christians and the West shows us the gravity of the danger we are facing," Mauro continues.
He underscores how "the islamo-nazi ideology that permeates the thought of fundamentalists represents the most dramatic distortion of the use of reason."
The statement continues:
"They use God as a pretext to pursue a plan for power, and this is what the Pope has denounced, thereby defending freedom for all, especially for those Muslims who look to religion as an experience of the sense of life, and not as a shortcut to political power.
"It is remarkable that so many names, too many, among those with political responsibility (in the Western world) are not coming to the defense of the words said by the Vicar of Christ! It is almost as if they are ashamed or are too cowardly to speak up in defense of reason and freedom."
Far from defending him, Muslim leaders across the world are demanding apologies, and various Muslim groups are threatening his very life.
When has anyone from the Muslim world every apologized to the West for anything? When has a Muslim leader every apologized to the West for the (tens of?) thousands of terrorist acts carried out in the name of Islam? When has a Muslim leader every apologized to the West for the vile anti-Semitic and anti-Christian propaganda that is a staple of the Muslim world?
Never, to my knowledge.
Instead, we get this
A 70-year old Italian nun is killed in Somalia as "revenge"
Churches in Gaza and the West Bank are attacked
This is insane. These radicals see apologies as weakness, and issuing one only encourages more Muslim violence. They want abject apologies over every little real or imagined offence, and we must not get into the habit of issuing them. Did we learn nothing from the "cartoon jihad" of earlier this year. Evidently some people did not.
I think that Dr Sanity said it best
It is laughable to witness the angry, violent demonstrations denouncing any suggestion that Islam is an angry, violent religion. It is hilarious to observe the wails of victimhood and oppression as Islam's religious leaders call for killing Jews and Christians; beheading those who insult Islam, even as their own rhetoric isn't so much insulting as it is directly threatening the rest of the world.
September 16, 2006
The Immaturity of the Islamists
Four days ago Pope Benedict XVI delivered an address to some of the3 scientists at the University of Regensburg, Germany. The Pope, then Joseph Alois Ratzinger was a professor and vice rector at the University from 1969 to 1971. The title of the speech was "Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization", and it's main focus was just that. The subject matter is very esoteric and academic, and I do not have the knowledge to understand most of what he is saying. The Pope is quite clearly very learned, as must be anyone who hopes to understand his address without doing additional research.
But there was a part of his address which has stirred up much trouble in the Muslim world. Rather than just quote that part of the third paragrap, which has given so much offence, following are the two preceeding and one following
In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point -- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself -- which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason," I found interesting and which can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue.
In the seventh conversation ("diálesis" -- controversy) edited by professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that sura 2:256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under [threat]. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war.
Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels," he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...."
Much of the Muslim world has reacted like this
Here we go again. This past January and February we had the "Cartoon Jihad", during which several of us here in Washington DC, sponsored by FreeRepublic.com, felt obliged to go down to the Danish Embassy to act as "human shields" against radical Muslims. In July Muslims were outraged! when Israel had the audacity to respond to Hezbollah rocket attacks by striking targets in Lebanon.
Now it's starting up again. From various news reports
NABLUS, West Bank — Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday, following remarks by Pope Benedict XVI that angered many Muslims.
ISTANBUL, Turkey — Pakistan's legislature unanimously condemned Pope Benedict XVI. Lebanon's top Shiite cleric demanded an apology. And in Turkey, the ruling party likened the pontiff to Hitler and Mussolini and accused him of reviving the mentality of the Crusades
On Friday, Pakistan's parliament adopted a resolution condemning Benedict for making what it called "derogatory" comments about Islam, and seeking an apology.
ISTANBUL -- Across the Islamic world yesterday, Benedict's remarks on Islam and jihad in a speech in Germany unleashed a torrent of rage that united Shi'ites and Sunnis and threatened to burst into violent protests like those that followed publication of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.
ANKARA Turkey - "Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence," (Turkish) Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.
BEIRUT, Sept. 15 -- A medieval reference in an academic lecture by Pope Benedict XVI unleashed a wave of denunciations, outrage and frustration across the Muslim world Friday, with officials in Turkey and Pakistan condemning the pontiff, Islamic activist groups organizing protests and a leading religious figure in Lebanon demanding that he personally apologize.
LONDON United Kingdom - From the AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT newspaper - If the new Pope's manners remain the same, the Catholic church will be subject to upheavals that it has never seen before...
Palestinian Hamas supporters wave party flags as they shout slogans against Pope Benedict XVI during a demonstration in Gaza City, Friday.
The University of Virginia Cavalier Daily Incident by Comparison
The Catholic League contacted editors of The Cavalier Daily about two cartoons published in August. One of the cartoons, printed Aug. 23, depicts Jesus crucified on a graph with the caption "Christ on a Cartesian Coordinate Plane."
The other, printed Aug. 24, shows Joseph asking Mary, "How did you get that bumpy rash?" Mary replies, "I swear, it was Immaculately Transmitted."
Another cartoon printed Aug. 24 depicts Jesus driving a woman in a car that presumably crashes. As they wait in line at Heaven's pearly gates, the woman curses at Jesus, who responds, "B****, I ain't never drove!"
Christians responded by sending letters and email to The Cavalier, and in the end the newspaper removed the cartoons. I cannot find them on the Internet and right now do not have time for an exhaustive search. The newspaper has replaced the cartoons with this message from their author
Whether you think the Cavalier should have removed the cartoons and apologized or not is beside the point. There have not been any riots by Christians nor will there be. No one is going to bomb anything at the University of Virginia.
In the West we have learned how to handle these things peacefully. In most of the Islamic world they have not.
Was the Pope Right?
Someone appearing to be a genuine moderate Muslim wrote in to The Corner about the Pope's address and raised an excellent point
The problem with Benedict's speech, and it's illustrated perfectly by the quotation I cited above ("...evil and inhuman..."), is that it gives moderate Muslims no option other than to renounce our faith. When Benedict approvingly cites a source who says that Islam is "evil and inhuman", he's not offering a bold challenge to moderate Muslims, he's alienating them. There is a profound difference between, on the one hand, endorsing what Benedict said, and on the other, calling the enemy "militant Islamists", "Islamofascists", "Islamobolsheviks" (my personal favorite), or whatever. It's the difference, I suppose, between Robert Spencer and National Review, JihadWatch and AEI. Just because the Muslim street is, in all its hypersensitivity, reacting like a woman who's just been told her pants make her look fat doesn't mean that Benedict was correct to say what he said, certainly not from the perspective of history and theology, nor I believe from that of the best way to win the GWOT.
I have to think that Pope Benedict shouldn't have quoted that sentence about "things only evil and inhuman, such as his(Mohammed's) command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." He could have made his point more delicately.
Professor Bainbridge (via Michelle Malkin) sees the Pope's address more as " a shot across the bow of post-Christian Europe", telling them that they have lost their way and as such "the tools demanded to meet the threats of the day"
...to see this speech solely in terms of a clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam would be error. Instead, the Pope is staking out a set of claims about the relationship of man and God that stand in opposition not only to the Islam of Ibn Hazn, but also that of the Protestant Reformers, the Jesus of History crowd, and (an area of particular concern for this pope) post-Christian Europe. The Pope is also renewing the claims of the Church Universal to have a truth that is transcendent, rather than culturally-bound.
The Bottom Line
But the inclusion of that sentence by the Pope is also not that big of a deal. And unlike Jesus, Mohammed did spread his faith through the sword. This is a central fact that many Muslims like to ignore.
The West, on the other hand, self-flaggelates all the time over it's history. We wash our dirtly laundry ad nauseum, usually for the better. Other cultures have not faced up to their historical misdeeds, and not doing so results in a fantasy view whereby they are perfect and the West evil.
Further, President Bush and other Western leaders need to speak out on this matter, not to defend the Pope, but more to defend free speech from violence and threats of violence. They should denounce the actions of the Turkish and Pakistani parliaments.
There is more than enough religious anger in the world. So it is particularly disturbing that Pope Benedict XVI has insulted Muslims, quoting a 14th-century description of Islam as “evil and inhuman.” ...
The world listens carefully to the words of any pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly. He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal.
This sort of nonsense from the Times only encourages the Islamists to riot and carry on like this. We can't become "insult free" here in the West. The real world doesn't work that way. We can't go on with these riots every time some Muslims feel they have been offended, which seems to occur and more and more frequent intervals. The best way to stamp this down is not to pander to it, but to tell those engaged in such "outrage" to grow up and handle their offendedness in a more appropriate manner.
As Michelle Malkin points out, "there is always an insult to be manufactured"
When will any Muslim cleric apologize to Christians or Jews over the ant-Christian and anti-Semitism that is a regular feature of the Middle East?
I am sick of "Muslim rage" over this or that. No doubt there are Muslims who are disgusted by their brethren who act in this manner. I suspect the main reason we don't hear from them like we should is that they are afraid of violence directed at them.
September 12, 2006
Ralph Peters is Right
Mostly right, anyway.
I've several right-wing (I won't call them conservative) sites in which the authors and commenters are convinced that Islam is a religion of hate, violence, it is evil, unreformable, the whole bit. Anyone who dares to disagree is a dhimmi. Once I see where the comments are going I usually don't chime in, as there's no point.
Anyone who's read more than this post knows that I believe that Islam as it is currently practiced by all too many Muslims has a problem with violence. Far too many Muslims are completely hypocritical on the issue of military force, unable or unwilling to understand the difference between direct attacks on civilians and attacks on military targets where civilians are killed as an unfortunate byproduct (hmm, many Western liberals are confused there too). They excuse terrorism with weasel words. Abuse of women and total lack of civil rights are the hallmarks of most Islamic societies. I could go on but you get the point.
But I, like Peters, am making very careful and precise arguments. What we are arguing against is the view that Islam is innately evil, not that it doesn't have problems, which it most certainly does.
Peters doesn't name names, but I will.
I do not regard Little Green Footballs as "anti-Islam", for example, but as anti-radical Islam. Ditto Michelle Malkin and the staff of National Review. I listen to a lot of conservative talk-radio, and the only one I'd consider to be an Islam-hater is Michael Savage(which is why I won't listen to him (btw, it while listening to the Laura Ingraham show that I first heard about Peter's editorial. She had him on as a guest to discuss it). There's also people like Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson, but I think they're off the reservation anyway.
It's Mainly Bloggers
Peters doesn't name anyone in his column, and from what I can tell he's mainly going after small-time bloggers and people who send him email. It's easy to sit behind your computer and use an anonymous and untraceable handle while you write the most extreme stuff and denounce your opponents. I've fallen for that trap myself a few times. But before you write something, the question you ought to ask yourself is this: Would I say this in front of a CNN news crew if I knew my name and face would be blasted across the globe? If not, don't say it.
The Reaction from the Right
I haven't followed much of it, and don't have time to search around. Michelle Malkin got all bent out of shape, as did Mark Levin. What's interesting is that neither seem to have actually read his column, or if they did, just assumed he was talking about them. Levin links to a few absolutely unhinged articles to "prove" his point.
Peters took part in a 9/11 symposium with Lt Gen Tom McInerney (Ret), Jed Babbin, and Andy McCarthy, hosted by FrontPage Magazine. The debate got a bit over heated, and both sides seemed to be more talking past each other, and in more than one part Peters went too far. Otherwise it's worth the read.
They say that family fights are the worst, and this is no exception.
And In Case You Think Peters is a Dhimmi
Consider that in July he wrote an editorial titled "Kill, Don't Capture"
Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there's no way to dispose of them.
Killing terrorists during a conflict isn't barbaric or immoral - or even illegal. We've imposed rules upon ourselves that have no historical or judicial precedent. We haven't been stymied by others, but by ourselves.
He discusses the " oft-cited, seldom-read Geneva and Hague Conventions" and how they do not apply to terrorists. His conclusion is that
Conferring unprecedented legal status upon these murderous transnational outlaws is unnecessary, unwise and ultimately suicidal. It exalts monsters. And it provides the anti-American pack with living vermin to anoint as victims, if not heroes.
Isn't it time we gave our critics what they're asking for? Let's solve the "unjust" imprisonment problem, once and for all. No more Guantanamos! Every terrorist mission should be a suicide mission. With our help.
Ouch. Even I have a bit of a problem going that far.
One Reason for the Reaction
It's no excuse, but so many liberals are so blinded by political correctness that they refuse to see that there are any problems at all within Islam. Either that, or they start trying to draw comparisons between radical Islam and "radical Christianity", as if the latter has spouted any terrorist groups of substance.
Or maybe it's just because we have to listen to idiots like Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), that we tend to get carried away on the right. Now remove all throwing objects from your reach before you read this:
In remarks before the Arab American Institute today, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold called on the President to stop using the phrase "Islamic fascists," an offensive and misleading term. The administration has used this phrase increasingly when talking about al Qaeda, its affiliates and its sympathizers. Feingold says the use of the term "Islamic fascists" actually hurts our efforts in fighting terrorism globally because it alienates peaceful Muslims around the world whose support we need in fighting terrorism.
"I call on the President to stop using the phrase "Islamic fascists", a label that doesn't make any sense, and certainly doesn't help our effort to build a coalition of societies to fight terrorism," Feingold said. "The President has often correctly referred to Islam as a religion of peace, but this reckless language, much like his prior reference to the fight against al Qaeda as a 'crusade,' completely cuts the other way. Fascist ideology doesn't have anything to do with the way global terrorist networks think or operate, and it doesn't have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world who practice the peaceful teachings of Islam."
Now there's a real dhimmi for you.
September 9, 2006
Islam-Haters: Another Enemy Within
Ralph Peters has said in an editorial titled Islam-Haters: An Enemy Within something that I've been thinking for some time, that there are too many bloggers on the right who are going too far in their condemnation of Islam.
The most repugnant trend in the American shouting match that passes for a debate on the struggle with Islamist terrorism isn't the irresponsible nonsense on the left - destructive though that is. The really ugly "domestic insurgency" is among right-wing extremists bent on discrediting honorable conservatism.
How? By insisting that Islam can never reform, that the violent conquest and subjugation of unbelievers is the faith's primary agenda - and, when you read between the lines, that all Muslims are evil and subhuman.
I've received no end of e-mails and letters seeking to "enlighten" me about the insidious nature of Islam. Convinced that I'm naive because I defend American Muslims and refuse to "see" that Islam is 100 percent evil, the writers warn that I'm a foolish "dhimmi," blind to the conspiratorial nature of Islam.
Peters goes on, and you'll want to read the whole thing, but I think you get the point.
I've read this sort of thing too in posts and comments on right-wing blogs; "Islam is evil", "we are (or should be) in a war against Islam", or some such similar things.
I agree with Peters that this sort of thing is wrong, and here's why.
Let me say right now that I am not talking about things like stopping or reducing Muslim immigration. I think that the Europeans should slow down or stop immigration into their countries by Muslims, and need to work hard to assimilate those that have. Nor, heaven knows, am I saying that the way Islam is practiced by many is not evil. Further, I am disgusted at how moderate Muslims (and yes they exist) have not done more to confront and counter the radicals. Many Mosques in Western countries are infiltrated by radicals and the Muslim community is not doing nearly enough to root them out.
But none of this the same as saying that Islam is evil. I am a Christian, and as such believe that Islam is a false religion. But it is not evil.
And for the record, Peters is "no Pollyanna." He's a retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel who is about as gung-ho on the war as you can get.
I'm all for killing terrorists, rather than taking them prisoner. I know we're in a fight for our civilization. But the fight is with the fanatics - a minority of a minority - not with those who simply worship differently than those of us who grew up with the Little Brown Church in the Vale.
The basic distinction here is between the theory of a religion and the way it is actually practiced. I'm no theologian, but I have read and studied most of the Bible, and I'll tell you that some of the books read like World War II on the Eastern Front. If you don't believe me, go through books like Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicals, or even Esther. The Hebrews, God's chosen people, kill and conquer to obtain and keep the promised land, and their actions are all sanctioned by God.
Yes I know, the New Testament and all that. But the Bible has to be taken as a whole, and you can't dismiss the books I cited.
And let's face it, the way Christianity has been practiced hasn't always been so nice. Before the Treaty of Westphalia, religious wars were the norm in Europe, and it was all Christian vs Christian. We weren't terribly nice when we conquered or reconquered lands from the Muslims, either.
But we reformed, proving that it can be done. Yes I know there are differences, and heaven knows I'm no multiculturalist. As I said, I believe that Christianity is the one true religion. But this isn't about theology, it's about culture and war. And I'm going to agree with Peters that you're a bigot if you believe that "Islam is evil".
Besides, how do you fight a war against an entire religion? Do we kill all one billion plus Muslims? Or just beat them into submission? Interestingly, most of those I've read who say that "Islam is evil" also support our war in Iraq, one whose purpose is not to conquer Muslims but help build a modern Muslim society. How they square that circle is beyond me.
The bottom line is this; we're not in a war against Islam, we're in a war against Islamic fascism/fanaticism/jihad, call it what you will. The way Islam is practiced now in many ways is wrong and needs to be changed. We face a threat from unassimilated fanatical Muslims in Europe and to a lesser extent in the United States. And it will be extremely difficult to reform the way Islam is practiced, and it will be decades if not centuries before the job is complete, and when it is they won't be quite like us.
But let's not fall into the same trap that the left falls into, with an unwritten rule of "no enemies on the left". We should have the courage to denounce those of us who go too far. And if you're saying that "Islam is evil", then you've gone too far and are not part of the problem.
August 28, 2006
The Nature of our Enemy Part III An Islamic World
On the one hand, there's a danger in reading too much into any one incident. On the other, sometimes they can be so illustrative.
Take the issue of Steve Centani and Olaf Wiig, the Fox News journalists who were told to convert to Islam or die. In the video, posted here on Michelle Malkin's site (and on YouTube), Centanni reads a statement, which says in part
I have embraced Islam, and say the word Allah. My leader is the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him. Islam is not meant for just some people, but it is the true religion for all people in all times. Westerners are not following the wrong path. And I hope they realize that and change their ways,and I hope I can help them to do that. Islam helps people to love mercy, brotherhood, equality and justice....
Disbelievers will be cast into an eternal fire. But Allah is also ever merciful, and the west can change it's ways and turn to the purifying power of Islam....
Islam is not fascism. Words lke that only serve to deepen the chasm between peoples.... The West is seen as waging war on Islam, and these words, "Islamic fascists", only reconfirm that belief among many.... Please, George Bush, please Tony Blair, open your minds to Islam, and bring peace to all people around the world....
Olaf Wiig reads a similar statement. Basically it's all "we are poor persecuted Muslims, please stop killing us with your bombs" stuff.
Prior to all this, however, there is a banner in the video that says
There is no compulsion in Religion. The right path is henceforth distinct from error
Let's see what we can make of this video
A Global Caliphate
First, as Glenn Reynolds observes, "It's not a religious war to us, but it is to them"
Their definition of victory is converting the whole world to Islam. To the Western mind, a conversion at gunpoint is invalid and pointless. But although it may be politically incorrect to point this out, up until recent centuries, Islam has been spread mainly by warfare and forced conversions. Only since the end of Islamic military power at the end of the 17th century was this ended.
No I am not saying that we should also treat it as a religious war. But as I said in The Nature of our Enemy, Part II: A Problem in Islam, Islam has a problem with violence. Islam itself is not violent, but the way in which it is practiced by a disturbingly high number of people leads to violence. This is ignored both by leftist Westerners and most Muslims alike.
The Nature of Religion
Now a quick note about the nature of religion is in order. If you are a Christian or Muslim, and do not believe that yours is the one and only true and right way to see God, then you don't believe in your own religion. If you are a Christian orMuslim, and do not in your heart want everyone else on the planet to convert to your religion, you do not believe in your own religion.
As for where you're going after you die, if you are a Christian then you know that this is a decision that only God can make. You do not have the right to "judge" people, or say where they are going (bty, this is the true definition of ""Do not judge, or you too will be judged"(Matt 7:1) to a Christian, it does not mean we can't comment on someone else's lifestyle).
The difference, if I need to point it out, is that in our modern world we Christians do not convert at swordpoint. Nor do we fight over religion. Islamic radicals still do. As Christians, we send missionaries out into the world (I've done this) to convert souls. We do not send soldiers to do this.
Now that's out of the way, let's get back to our subject matter
I'll give the Islamic fascists this, they know what we're saying and what our news media is reporting, and do a good job of trying to turn it against us. I can see where the weak minded at home and abroad would be fooled. I can see in the days to come some leftie saying "see, I told you that 'Islamic fascist' was inflammatory!"
So Much for the "Grievance s" Argument
Fox News anchor Brit Hume nails it
Yes, and what an appealing faith these thugs must believe Islam is, that conversions have to be effected at the point of a gun. And what of the argument that all of the ills and troubles that beset the Palestinian people, that lead them to terrorism, are the cause of what they endlessly refer to as the illegal Israeli occupation.
Consider the latest rounds of trouble in Gaza and Lebanon, two places from which Israel has withdrawn.
It has been noted that not for one day after the Israeli pullout from Gaza did the rocket attacks that came from Gaza ever stop. We’re not dealing here with something that is susceptible to a political resolution of the kind of which the State Department and many a president has dreamed.
We’re dealing here with a lawless enemy whose goal far transcends any side-by-side, two-state solution. That isn’t going to do it. We’re dealing with a terrorist, gangland-style enemy, which I think it’s fair to conclude, and this episode only further illustrates it, must be defeated.
In Part I of The Nature of Our Enemy I detailed how our enemy is in fact Islamic Fascism, and not "a hundred small grievances."
Centanni and Wiig were kidnapped by the Holy Jihad Brigades, a group unknown until this action. Fox News reports that
Senior Palestinian security officials said Sunday the name was a front for local militants, and that Palestinian authorities had known the identity of the kidnappers from the start.
What we must do is hunt them down and kill them. At the very least, they must be arrested and executed by Palestinian forces. And no this is not simply a "legal matter" that can be handled as in a police action. This should be considered an act of war It is important that we get these terrorists for several reasons.
As Cliff May points out,
I’m glad these guys are safe and free. I wish them well. But I hope there will be some attention paid by Fox and other media to the way in which kidnappings and similar threats coerce and intimidate journalists, and may influence their coverage.
Lastly, and most simply, they are both Westerners, Centanni an American and Wiig a New Zealander. New Zealand has sent special forces to Afghanistan (where they won praise from our guys for their ability to navigate in the mountains). If we do not get the terrorists who committed this act, Islamic fascists the world over will know that this is one more act that they can get away with.
Now let's not all forget about this story in the days and weeks to come, and make sure we get the terrorists who did this.
August 22, 2006
The Nature of our Enemy, Part I
Who exactly are we fighting in this war, and why is our enemy so upset at us?
By "this war", I refer not to Iraq, but to what is called the "War on Terror."
Generally speaking, there are two schools of thought on the matter. One side says that we are at war with "Islamofascism", or Islamic radicalism, or Islamism, or jihad, call it what you will. The other side says that we are fighting people who are against various US policies. They fight us because they have a specific greviance.
Richard Fernandez has a typically insightful post at The Belmont Club titled "The Elusive War" in which he compares and contrasts the two views. He posts two articles, suggested to him by a reader, each of which typifies one of the sides.
First up is Michael Ledeen of National Review, who lays out his views in "The Real War". The war is not, he says, a series of small battles. If Israel had killed every last Hezbollah terrorist, if we won every battle in Afghanistan and Iraq, "we will only prolong the fighting." Rather, we are at war with Syria and Iran, and the ideologies that drive both of them. Money quote
The terror masters in Syria and Iran are waging a regional war against us, running from Afghanistan and Iraq to, Gaza, Israel, and Lebanon. Alongside the ground war in the Middle East, they are conducting fifth-column operations against us from Europe to India and on to Indonesia, Australia, and the United States; the plot just dismantled in Great Britain provides the latest evidence.
On the other side we have Max Hastings writing in The Guardian a piece titled "Bush's belief in a worldwide Islamist conspiracy is foolish and dangerous." He accepts that "we face a real threat from Muslim fundamentalists", but it is what has caused the threat that separates him from Ledeen. Here, in a nutshell, is his argument.
There is no chance that the west will get anywhere with the Muslim world until the US government is willing to disassemble a spread of grievances in widely diverse societies, examine them as separate components, and treat each on its merits.I'm going to state my conclusion up front; I agree with Ledeen, and indeed would go even farther than he. While I am glad that Mr Hastings believes that we are threatened (a plus these days), I think he is completely wrong in his analysis. Richard Fernanez points out one obvious flaw in Hastings' argument
Max Hasting's striking phrase "yet we shall defeat them only when our Muslim community at large perceives that its interests are identified with Britain's polity" is as clever a case for surrender as I've ever heard.
Why I Don't Buy Max Hastings' Argument
First, let me deal with Max Hastings.
One reason why I don't buy the "legitimate greviance" argument is that the terrorism inflicted on us does not always correlate to any known grevience. Just two weeks ago two suitcase bombs were found on trains in Germany. The bombs "may be traceable to the Middle East", big surprise. Thankfully they were found before they went off. But what has Germany done to deserve Islamic terror? They did not participate in the invasion of Iraq, and indeed have opposed US policy at every turn since.
This past June a huge Islamic terrorist plot was foiled in Canada. The plot, which involved both bombs and the kidnapping of the Canadian prime minister, was against soley Canadian targets. Again, Canada did not participate in the invasion of Iraq, and most of it's newspapers, to say nothing of it's leaders, have spent a lot of time denouncing this or that American policy.
Further, if it's not one grievance it's another. Victor Davis Hanson goes through the "excuse after excuse" offered by the Muslims and their apologists. One time it was that we were "stealing their oil", then prices jumped to $75 per barrel. Another day it's American troops in Saudi Arabia. But, er, they're mostly gone now. Then it's aid to Israel. But Europe and the US give considerable amounts aid to the Palestinian Authority. StrategyPage takes a look at the history of Islamic terrorism, and concludes that "ruthless men have been using Islamic radicalism to create terrorists for a long time" and that "historically, a noticeable increase in violence by Islamic radicals occurred every three or four generations."
Lastly, there is is simply too long a history of anti-semitism among prominent Muslim leaders to believe that their grevience against Israel is simply based on land. Jonah Goldberg relates how the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Husseini, made Nazi-like statements in 1942, well before the establishment of Israel or even the post-war influx of Jews into the area.
Also Not the Problem
"Islam" is not the problem. If it were, the war would be unwinnable. You simply cannot, and should not, attempt to destroy an entire religion.
Further, from what I see, the problem is in how the religion is taught in many places, and how it is used to promote violence and hatred. I'm not going to get into an analysis of the Koran, and don't think it necessary.
It is true, I think, that some religions lend themselves to fitting into the modern world better than others. Our Western models of democracy, secularism, and tolerance (true tolerance, not what the left teaches) are unimaginable without Christianity and other Western models of thought. It is very difficult to imagine these things rising out of Islam. But that does not mean that Islam and these things are incompatible. It simply means that they could not have been spawned or developed by the Muslim world. It does not mean that Muslims cannot adopt them.
What is "Islamofascism"?
A much better description of our enemy, and one that also tells us why they hate us, is "Islamofascism". The term, according to Roger Scruton, originated with Maxine Rodinson (1915-2004) "to describe the Iranian Revolution of 1978." President Bush recently referred to our enemy as "Islamic fascists", which caught him as much grief as Ronald Reagan's use of the term "evil empire", which tells me he is on to something.
Stephen Schwartz, writing in The Weekly Standard, offers a helpful definition
In my analysis, as originally put in print directly after the horror of September 11, 2001, Islamofascism refers to use of the faith of Islam as a cover for totalitarian ideology. This radical phenomenon is embodied among Sunni Muslims today by such fundamentalists as the Saudi-financed Wahhabis, the Pakistani jihadists known as Jama'atis, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. In the ranks of Shia Muslims, it is exemplified by Hezbollah in Lebanon and the clique around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.
"Fascism", he says, " is distinguished from the broader category of extreme right-wing politics by its willingness to defy public civility and openly violate the law." This is precisely what the terrorists we are fighting do.
This said, "fascism" is still a very elusive term. Jonah Goldberg points out that "there’s still no accepted definition of fascism among students of the phenomenon. " Everyone uses it, but I've read a hundred definitions and still can't tell you exactly what it means.
Be that as it may, since "fascism" is something that everyone is against, it is as good a term as any.
Next up: A Problem In Islam
August 19, 2006
Let's hope this coming Tuesday, August 22, passes with little news, but I and many others believe that someting big may be in the offing. Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton and Middle East scholar, tells us why in a piece that was published last week in the Wall Street Journal
This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.
Most elites in the West, and indeed most Westerners, I think, have trouble accepting the idea that a national leader would use a religous event to provoke a cataclysmic event. It seems like something out of the Middle Ages.
But the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is no ordinary fellow. He takes his religion seriously. Very seriously.
David Pryce-Jones, in the May 8 2006 print edition of National Review (digital subsctiption required), quotes Ahmadinejad on the purpose of his government, and provides an, er, illuminating detail.
“Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi.” In the middle of the 10th century, this imam went into hiding, supposedly in a well in Jamkaran, south of Tehran, but it is an article of Shiite faith that he will return and herald the End of Days. Ahmadinejad and his cabinet signed a petition to the hidden imam, proceeded to Jamkaran, and threw it down the well for his attention
"He did what?" I said to myself the first time I read that. It's the type of thing that must be read a few times before the significance sinks in. And then you realize; there are people who actually think we can negotiate this man out of obtaining nuclear weapons. I don't think so.
Just for the record, yes I know that Christian pastors will talk about end times, and will even say "the end is near." I know because I hear this on Sundays. The difference is that the pastors say this because they're trying to get people to change their ways before it's too late, and they don't tell the parishoners to go quit their jobs and sit at home to await the rapture.
Now read what Pryce-Jones tells us about a speach he gave at the UN:
Similarly unself-conscious, he claimed that while speaking at the United Nations “I became surrounded by a green light,” so that for 27 to 28 minutes all the attentive listeners did not blink — the chronological exactitude is a touch a thriller writer might envy. And he closed that speech by urging God to “hasten the emergence of Your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one who will fill the world with justice and peace.”
The color green, if you didn't know, is the color of Islam.
Further, all this is not just theological musing by Ahmadinejad. According to Joel Rosenberg in an article at NRO,
Ahmadinejad is telling colleagues in Tehran that he believes the end of the world is rapidly approaching. He also believes that the way to hasten the coming of the Islamic Messiah known as the “Hidden Imam” or the “Mahdi” is to launch a catastrophic global jihad, first against Israel (the “little Satan”) and then against the U.S. (the “Great Satan”).
Now do you understand why Bernard Lewis isn't crazy when he told us we better pay attention on Tuesday August 22?
What Might Happen?
One thing that might not happen is that 10 airliners dont' get blown out of the sky. Some commentators, such as Michael Ledeen, think that the airline plot was supposed to happen on August 22. Of course, it might still. The one thing about playing defense is that you never know if you've stopped all of the plots. I just hope that security people take extra precautions next week.
Iran has said that they will respond to our demand that they cease production of nuclear fuel on Tuesday August 22. So on the "lite" end of the spectrum, maybe they're just going to tell us to bugger off that day.
The other end of possibilites, the "heavy" end, looks much more dire. While it is unlikely that Iran has nuclear weapons, North Korea almost certainly does. While there is no formal alliance between them, the two countries are united in their hatred of the West in general and the United States in particular. We would be foolish to discount the possibility of cooperation. It is rumored that a North Korea nuclear test could be very near, perhaps imminent. Steve Schippert of ThreatsWatch speculates that a strong possibility therefore, is that the DPRK lites one off on Tuesday.
Iran, for it's part, has just started major military maneuvers. Schippert takes all of this into account and throws out one possibility
One speculation – taking the events and forcing them into the same context – would interpret the Iranian exercises as an actual perimeter defense deployment ahead of events known by Iran and expected to be perceived as provocative. That event could potentially be an Iranian rejection of the nuclear proposal simultaneous with a nuclear demonstration by their chief technology proliferation partner, North Korea.
The two countries might even announce some sort of formal alliance, or defensive treaty. We would do well to remember that the Tripartite Pact ("Axis Pact") between Germany, Japan, and Italy, was defensive in nature, only obligating the powers to come to each other's aid if they were attacked by an outside power.
So I don't know about you, but I'm going to pay extra close attention to the news this Tuesday. And I'm not flying anywhere.
June 13, 2006
Following in the Footsteps of Rome?
Western Civilization has woken up to the danger of Islamic terrorists coming to our shores to carry out their nefarious deeds. Obviously we do not catch every one, but we are are at least aware of t he idea that Muslims with evil intentions want to try and make their way into our countries do do us harm.
Most of us are even aware of the fact that many Muslim immigrants are radicallized after they have been in our countries for a time. Most of the 9-11 hijackers, and the recently arrested terrorist suspects in Canada, were turned into terrorists while in the west. The reason is simple, yet seemingly impossible for the left to understand; they are offended by our societies.
The question of assimilation is, or should be, forefront on our minds. We in the United States are having enough trouble absorbing large numbers of Hispanic immigrants. Hispanics, however, at least come from a Western tradition, the societies that they come from have been shaped by the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment. Muslims have gone though none of this. Whether a significant number of them will accept our norms is an open question.
I suppose I should add the usual qualifier that yes I understand that there are individual differences among peoples, and no I am not lumping all Hispanics or Muslims together. The point, however, is that all it takes is a violent radical minority to cow a larger population into silence or acquiescence.
The danger that large numbers of Muslim immigrants may pose was compared recently by British Rear Admiral Chris Parry to the way the barbarians destroyed Rome; not so much by military conquest as by mass migration. In an article in The Sunday Times of London, Admiral Parry warned that
Europe, including Britain, could be undermined by large immigrant groups with little allegiance to their host countries — a "reverse colonisation" as Parry described it. These groups would stay connected to their homelands by the internet and cheap flights. The idea of assimilation was becoming redundant, he said.
Following are additional excerpts from the article
If a security breakdown occurred, he said, it was likely to be brought on by environmental destruction and a population boom, coupled with technology and radical Islam. The result for Britain and Europe, Parry warned, could be "like the 5th century Roman empire facing the Goths and the Vandals".
Parry pointed to the mass migration which disaster in the Third World could unleash. "The diaspora issue is one of my biggest current concerns," he said. "Globalisation makes assimilation seem redundant and old-fashioned . . . [the process] acts as a sort of reverse colonisation, where groups of people are self-contained, going back and forth between their countries, exploiting sophisticated networks and using instant communication on phones and the internet."
Third World instability would lick at the edges of the West as pirates attacked holidaymakers from fast boats. "At some time in the next 10 years it may not be safe to sail a yacht between Gibraltar and Malta," said the admiral.
Parry predicts that as flood or starvation strikes, the most dangerous zones will be Africa, particularly the northern half; most of the Middle East and central Asia as far as northern China; a strip from Nepal to Indonesia; and perhaps eastern China.
He pinpoints 2012 to 2018 as the time when the current global power structure is likely to crumble. Rising nations such as China, India, Brazil and Iran will challenge America’s sole superpower status.
This will come as "irregular activity" such as terrorism, organised crime and "white companies" of mercenaries burgeon in lawless areas.
Not a pretty picture, but hardly an implausible one.
November 9, 2005
Twelve Days and Counting in France
Rioting has continued for twelve straight days in France and one wonders what to make of it. From my news survey, many liberals take the view that religion has nothing to do with it and that it is all because of poverty and racism.
Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, one of the few analysists who predicted how the invasion of Iraq would proceed accurately, says that this is not the case
"It is not a directed part of the global extremist network, but it is an offshoot that is well-organized and has similar objectives in intimidating the French government, which they have done," Gen. McInerney said.
The riots will expand unless the French government moves quickly to quell the disturbances, he said.
"It is an assimilation problem that Muslims have, and it will only eventually be resolved through an Islamic reformation," he said.
Exactly. Here in the United States we have a tradition of give-and-take with our immigrants. They adopt traditional American ways, and those already here pick up some of their traditions and customs. This is not occuring in Europe. Europeans only seem to want the immigrants for their labor, and are not interested in assimilating them. On their side, the current generation of Muslim immigrants want no part of European society, which they see as decadent. Rather, many of them want to impose their beliefs on Europe.
According to an article in StrategyPage, France is starting to question the loyalty of Muslims serving in their army:
France has been detecting, or at least fearing, loyalty problems among the fifteen percent of its soldiers who are Moslem. The military insists that these second and third generation soldiers of, for the most part, Arab descent, are loyal. But many Christian soldiers, NCOs and officers are not so sure. Harassment of Moslem troops by Christian soldiers is common. There have been no major incidents of soldiers turned terrorists, but the abuse from paranoid soldiers, NCOs and officers might push Moslem soldiers to go bad. This is believed more likely because there are no Moslem chaplains. Thus Moslem soldiers seek spiritual advice from clerics with no military experience, and possible a radical agenda. More worrisome is that radicalized soldiers will leave the army equipped with skills they can use for terrorist attacks.
Daniel Pipes has a typically insightful article on the riots. He asks why, if the rioters are motivated by bad economic conditions and racism, they cry "Allahu Akbar". Rather, he sees the riots as part of "a new form of jihad"
Indigenous Muslims of northwestern Europe have in the past year deployed three distinct forms of jihad: the crude variety deployed in Britain, killing random passengers moving around London; the targeted variety in the Netherlands, where individual political and cultural leaders are singled out, threatened, and in some cases attacked; and now the more diffuse violence in France, less specifically murderous but also politically less dismissible. Which of these or other methods will prove most efficacious is yet unclear, but the British variant is clearly counterproductive, so the Dutch and French strategies probably will recur.
Read the whole thing.
Wretchard of Belmont Club fears that the French will react precisely in the wrong way:
What I am afraid will happen is that the French authorities will apply the worst possible combination: a short-term crackdown based on profiling together with an agreement to cede the governance of these ghettos to some kind of Islamic councils. That will make the banlieus more opaque while at the same time making them more alien. Yet the attraction of this policy mix is obvious. It throws a bone to the extreme right and left wings of French policy and may quell the disturbances for a moment. It kicks the can down the road into a minefield. It's a soothing gargle of antiseptic mouthwash prior to flossing with a razor blade.
Indeed. Czar Nicholas II combined both personal weakness and a determination to maintain absolute power for himself. This proved a fatal combination. While it would be premature at this point to predict that we are seeing the "end of Europe", these riots, combined with ominous demographic trends, can only make one fear for the future of that continent.
StrategyPage says that ethnicity and economics are the main factors driving the rioters. They point out that Islmac clerics have issued a fatwa condemning the violence, but that the rioters are not very religious so don't listen. They also point to 10%+ unemployment, and laws that make it hard to fire, and thus hire, employees. Add to this a lax attitude towards property crimes and a existing Muslim-run criminal gangs, and you have trouble.
There are some Islamic radicals running around in all this, but they are a minority. The Moslem kids like to talk about respect and payback, but very few see this as a religious war. It’s become a sport, with various groups competing to cause the most destruction. Text messaging, Internet bulletin boards and email made it possible for the rioters to stay in touch and compare notes. The media coverage also encouraged the violence, giving the kids some positive (for them) feedback.
My guess is that there is a little of everything going on. And we cannot forget that there is a tendancy to see what you want to see. Thus conservatives look for Muslim extremism, and liberals look for criminal and ethnic alienation. StrategyPage shoots straight, and although in this case I think they underplay the religious angle, I do admit that economic and ethnic factors play more of a role than I had initially considered.
De Villepin's call for increased spending on training programs comes amid rising unemployment among immigrants. Last year, 17.4 percent of immigrants were unemployed, compared with 9.2 percent for non-immigrants, says Insee, the Paris-based government statistics office. For the same education level, immigrants are more likely to be unemployed, it said.
``Youth unemployment reaches almost 40 percent in some areas,'' de Villepin said. He added that the goal of the government will be to give unemployed youth living in France's ``sensitive urban areas'' a work contract, an internship or training in coming months.
De Villepin also said he will restore government subsidies to local associations scrapped by his predecessor and aims to triple scholarships and improve links between universities and students living in poor areas.
The prime minister said in the interview that students must be able to join vocational training programs at the age of 14 instead of 16. Almost 150,000 students drop out of school without a diploma or a skill each year, according to the prime minister.
De Villepin also called for businesses and the population as a whole to fight ethnic discrimination. The government wants to make sure that the riots aren't used by ``radical Islam,'' which is not the ``main'' concern at the moment, he said.
Some people just never learn.
October 29, 2005
Burning Bodies in Afghanistan: Two Views
This past week a story appeared in the media about some US soldiers in Afghanistan who were allegedly buring the bodies of dead Taliban fighters. On Thursday Fox News reported that
Islamic clerics expressed outrage Thursday at television footage that purportedly shows U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of two dead Taliban (search) fighters to taunt other militants and warned of a possible violent anti-American backlash.
On Friday, the BBC added that
The US military has launched a criminal investigation into alleged misconduct by its troops in Afghanistan, including the burning of Taleban corpses.
The move came after an Australian TV station ran footage of what it says was US soldiers burning the remains.
The footage shows other troops apparently taunting residents of a nearby village, which they believed to be harbouring the Taleban.
The act of burning corpses is regarded as a sacrilege in Islam.
If true, does this act create a problem for the United States? Is it something that we should be concerned about?
To help answer this, let's consider the responses of two writers that I have come to respect; Michael Yon, and the editors of StrategyPage.com
James Dunnigan is editor-in-chief of StrategyPage.com, with Austin Bay and Adam Geibel as contributing editors. Al Nofi is senior editor and columnist. All are widely-aclaimed writers on military and political matters. In an October 25 editorial, they conclude that the action will have
...no impact in the Islamic world. That's because, in the Islamic media, stories like this are invented daily. You can check out the English language sites for media in Islamic countries for examples. Some wild stuff there. The Moslems who hate us won’t change their minds because of two burning bodies. Those Moslems who are down on Islamic terrorists won’t get very upset about two of them getting torched, even though cremation is frowned upon in the Islamic world (even for Islamic terrorists who burn fellow Moslems to death in the course of their operations, which explains al Qaedas sagging poll numbers.)
The impact of such actions by our troops may, however, hurt us at home because politicians will overreact:
It will hurt in those parts of the world where there is more concern for burned up Taliban than in the Moslem world. That's largely in the Western world, especially among some American politicians and pundits. How will this hurt? Congress can call for more “oversight” of U.S. military operations. The troops are already irked at the lawyers added to some staffs over the last decade. The lawyers are their to veto operations if there is too great a chance that the action will offend someone in the world and, ultimately, someone in Congress.
The real problem, they conclude, will probably come from local Afghanis
If the bodies were burned as a result of some psychological warfare operation, or just to clean up the battlefield, and the act offended the local Moslems, the troops will pay a higher price than any official investigation (which is already underway) can hand out. The troops have to deal with angry, and heavily armed, people every day.
Michael Yon is a free-lance imbed with the US Army in Iraq. His experiences are widely quoted on popular blogs, such as Belmont Club. He is the author of Danger Close, and, from his website, "His dispatches have the benefit of his life experiences without drawbacks based on deadlines or demands of marketplace."
While Yon does not directly address the issue of the "burning bodies" in his last dispatch, he does have some things to say about the issue of treatment of prisoners which does have some bearing on the matter. He considers the letter we intercepted which had been sent by Usama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is in charge of Al Qaeda operations in Iraq. From this letter Yon concludes that
The author implies that most Muslims have a heart even for those they might once have considered enemies, warning that great numbers of Muslims who may have been supporters will instead turn against the terrorists because they do not approve of slaughtering hostages. Cynical westerners hearing that Muslims are generally peaceful people roll their eyes in disbelief, casting them in the general direction of the most recent homicide bomb attack. But here a top terrorist apparently takes pains to point out that devout Muslims are averse to slaughtering people. When Muslims react in anger about what we did at Abu G and other prisons, they are not merely posturing; they are deadly serious. Just as the terrorists lose support when they slaughter our people, we lose support when we abuse anyone.
Who is right? Both, perphaps, in their own way?
On the one hand, the amount virulence of anti-American and anti-Jewish propaganda coming from much of the Middle East is staggering. One only has to peruse a few translations of it from the invaluable MEMRI to get an idea of how bad it is. Also, we must unfortunately acknowledge that both liberal and conservative politicians at home will sieze on this and demand greater ovbersight, which will hamper our efforts in the field.
But is Yon right that such actions add fuel to the propaganda fire? Perhaps.
My initial take is that we should avoid incidents such as the "burning bodies" one as much as possible. We also have to realize that such things are going to happen in war no matter how much "oversight" we build into the process. Indeed, such things are part of the inevitable consequences of going to war in the first place, which is why such a decision must not be taken lightly.
This does not mean that we just shrug off such incidents as "these things will happen" and let it go at that. As the editors of StrategyPage point out in the article cited above, "Soldiers sent to Afghanistan go through many hours of cultural sensitivity training. They already know that one misstep can destroy lots of good will, and that in turn means fewer Afghans will pass on useful (often life saving) information, and more will fell inclined to take shot at Americans." In other words, Mr and Mrs Politician, there's no need for more of your "oversight", so lay off, please.
Between StragegyPage's conclusion that "stuff like this has no impact in the Islamic world" and Yon's view that "just as the terrorists lose support when they slaughter our people, we lose support when we abuse anyone", I think that both overstate their case, but in the end I am closer to Yon's position. Propaganda matters.
What do you think?
Posted by Tom at 2:14 PM
September 14, 2005
The Islamic Threat, Part III
At War with an Enemy of an Unspoken Name
The Washington Times has excerpted parts of editorial page editor Tony Blankley's new book The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations? This is the last of three parts.
In today's installment, Blankley says that we need to accurately name our enemy, and issue a formal declaration of war against them. The enemy, of course, is radical Islam.
There are many advantages to this, Blankley says. One, we would be telling the world that we see and understand the split in Islam between Muslims who are "peaceful and democratic" and "those Muslims who believe in car bombs, terrorism and murder.
Second, "we are a nation of laws", and the president needs wartime powers if we are to effectively fight this war. One of those laws are the sedition laws.
Muslim extremists on the Internet and in mosques openly call for jihad against the United States and Europe. In May, Muslim organizations gathered in front of the American Embassy in London to protest against the United States and Britain.
They burned British and American flags and threatened violence, including another September 11 attack. They chanted, "USA, watch your back, Osama is coming back" and "Kill, kill USA, kill, kill George Bush" and "Bomb, bomb New York" and "George Bush, you will pay, with your blood, with your head."
If this protest, with its threats of violence and assassination, had been conducted within our own borders, the protesters would have been ripe subjects for sedition prosecutions -- and rightly so. Sedition laws do not outlaw dissent; they outlaw advocating the violent overthrow of our government and violent opposition to our war effort.
Such prosecution would certrainly drive extremist civil rights types into fits of apoplexy. But we need to understand that they will oppose even the mildest of actions, so there it little point in trying to win their favor.
However, as Blankley points out, a declaration of war would actually work in favor of civil liberties. All we would have to do is put a "sunset clause" in the declaration of war whereby it would need to be renewed every two years or so.
The only place where I disagree with Blankley is his call for a national identification card. I'm still not convinced that this would have significant advantages of state-issued identification.
In part I Blankely explained the danger to Europe posed by it's burgeoning Muslim population. Today he returns to this theme, explaining that "the best strategy to fend off and reverse the Islamist threat is to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Europe". Well...yes, I would say that would help, but it's not a complete answer. Perhaps Blankley expands on this in the book. Newspaper excerpts are by their nature brief and exclusive of detail.
In closing, he reminds us that it would be unwise to write off Europe, as some of us in the states are at times tempted to do:
But a defense of the West without the birthplace of the West -- Europe -- is almost unthinkable. If Europe becomes Eurabia, it would mean the loss of our cultural and historic first cousins, our closest economic and military allies, and the source of our own civilization. This is a condition Americans should dread and should move mountains to avoid.
It bears repeating: An Islamified Europe would be as great a threat to the United States today as a Nazified Europe would have been in the 1940s.
Even before Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt understood that a Nazi-dominated Europe would be more than a fearsome military and industrial threat. It would be a civilizational threat.
Now we face another such threat in insurgent Islam.
Indeed we do.
September 13, 2005
The Islamic Threat, Part II
Needed: Old War Spirit in a New War
Today's excerpt from Tony Blankley's new book >The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations Blankley is the editorial-page editor of the Washington Times, which is running a three-part series on his new book.
In today's excerpt Blankley describes how, during World War II, we took strong action on the home front against suspected Nazi and Japanese subversion. What is most interesting is that those people at the forefront of the battle were are considered liberal icons today. He then compares their actions to our current War on Terror and concludes that there are important lessons to be drawn from that era. Unfortunately, liberals today draw the wrong lessons.
Take, for example, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, a liberal icon of the era.
A Liberal Icon
A decent man makes different judgments in different circumstances.
Members of the Jehovah's Witnesses were prosecuted during World War II for refusing to let their children recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, a liberal, wrote the majority opinion in the case. He upheld the school expulsions and parental prosecutions for violating compulsory attendance laws.
Justice Frankfurter observed that "the mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities."
This is particularly applicable to the situation we face today. Radical Islamists are demanding to be covered by Shariah -- laws compiled over a thousand years of Muslim jurisprudence, based on the Koran and its commentaries -- rather than by the laws of the United States, Britain, Germany or the other non-Muslim nations in which the radical Islamists live.
Yet many in the West cannot seem to understand this basic fact. We hear time and time again that "the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists", as if that is what mattered. What the liberals today ignore (deliberately?) is the fact that the majority are in sympathy with the terrorist's goals.
A recent poll taken in the UK showed that barely half of British Muslims described themselves as loyal to their country.
This is not even the worst of it. Tony Blair seems dedicted to pursuing his goal of "engagement" with radical Muslims despite their obvious Jew-hatred and conspiracy minded thinking.
Michelle Malkin was beaten up by the liberal elite for her daring book "In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling during World War II and the War on Terror", which I reviewed a few months ago. While I'm not entirely sure I agree that internment was the right policy, I do certainly understand and sympathize with those who made the decision to do so. Those who claim that the entire affair was based on racism are completely wrong.
Today we have a similar situation. Any attempt to challenge Muslims on sympathy for terrorism is met by crys of "racism", as if that were the issue. But the Muslims have learned well. They know that many on the right, politicians especially, cower before such a charge, and liberals eat it up. This is why, for example, groups with ties to terrorism, like CAIR, are listened to in mainstream society (Regarding CAIR, see here, and here).
Frankfurter demanded that all schoolchildren cite the Pledge of Allegiance. He rejected claims by the Jehovah's Witnesses that they had a religious right to keep their children from participating. Considering the situation today, Blankley concludes that
Today, schoolchildren, senators and elite journalists would giggle at the idea of applying Justice Frankfurter's lofty words to the defense of the modest little Pledge of Allegiance.
But back then, as now, we were a nation of newly arrived immigrants, threatened from abroad and bombarded with destructive ideologies.
Then, it was communism and fascism. Today, it is multiculturalism, political correctness and, among the Muslim population, radical Islam.
Tomorrow: Part III
September 12, 2005
Islam and Europe
Just in case you think Tony Blankley has overstated his case about the Islamic threat to Europe in his new book (excerpted below), consider two stories that recently appeared in the British press.
You're not going to believe this stuff, folks. Or maybe you will.
The first story is from the London newspaper The Telegraph(hat tip Andrew Stuttaford of NRO). In it we're told that a "a Muslim barrister" Prime Minister Tony Blair thinks that Jews and Freemasons are secretly in control of the war in Iraq. Blair, you see, came under their "sinister" influence and just couldn't help himself.
Ahmad Thomson, from the Association of Muslim Lawyers, said Mr Blair was the latest in a long line of politicians to have been influenced by the group which saw the attack on Saddam Hussein as a way to control the Middle East.
A Government spokesman confirmed last night that ministers and officials consulted Mr Thomson on issues concerning Muslims but refused to be drawn on his views. "We talk to a lot of people, including many whose views we do not necessarily agree with," she said.
This includes, apparently, complete whackos.
And, big surprise, Thomson thinks that the Holocaust is "a big lie".
The second story is from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1775068,00.html, also a British newspaper:
Advisors appointed by Tony Blair after the London bombings are proposing to scrap the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day because it is regarded as offensive to Muslims.
They want to replace it with a Genocide Day that would recognise the mass murder of Muslims in Palestine, Chechnya and Bosnia as well as people of other faiths.
Tony Blair needs new advisors pronto.
And just why is the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day so "offensive" to Muslims?
>A member of one of the committees, made up of Muslims, said it gave the impression that “western lives have more value than non-western lives”. That perception needed to be changed. “One way of doing that is if the government were to sponsor a national Genocide Memorial Day.
“The very name Holocaust Memorial Day sounds too exclusive to many young Muslims. It sends out the wrong signals: that the lives of one people are to be remembered more than others. It’s a grievance that extremists are able to exploit.”
If you believe this I've got a bridge to sell you.
Let's just call it as it is: The Muslims hate the Jews, and take one of two positions regarding the Holocaust; they either deny that it occured, or believe that it did and was a good thing. The idea of the Holocaust as a day of sorrow is utterly beyond their comprehension.
Which is one reason why the UN can never agree on a definition of terrorism; because the Muslims want a definition that they can use to pin on Israel and the U.S. http://theredhunter.com/mt/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=entry&blog_id=1&id=482&saved_changes=1#
It's really about that simple.
But while the committees are at it, they have another recomendation for the Prime Minister. Hey, when you're on a roll, go for it all.
The committees are also set to clash with Blair on his proposal to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir, the radical Islamic group. Government sources say they will argue that a ban is unjustified because the group, which is proscribed in much of the Middle East, neither advocates nor perpetrates violence in the UK.
Reread that last phrase, "because the group...neither advocates nor perpetrates violence in the UK".
In other words, Blair is hoping that the crocodile eats him last.
Andrew McCarthy spares us the task of researching who this Hizb ut-Tahrir group is. He found a 2003 Heritage Foundation paper about the group. It's conclusion is that
Hizb ut-Tahrir represents a growing medium- and long-term threat to geopolitical stability and the secular regimes of Central Asia and ultimately poses a potential threat to other regions of the world. The party is transnational, secretive, and extremist in its anti-Americanism. It seeks to overthrow and destroy existing regimes and establish a Shari'a-based Caliphate.
Hizb may launch terrorist attacks against U.S. targets and allies, operating either alone or in cooperation with other global terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. A Hizb takeover of any Central Asian state could provide the global radical Islamist movement with a geographic base and access to the expertise and technology to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. and its allies must do everything possible to avoid such an outcome.
The paper also estimates the group's strength at about "5,000-10,000 hard-core members, and many more supporters" throughout south-west asia.
Nope, folks, Tony Blankley wasn't exaggerating one bit. The government of Tony Blair is a willing participant in the suicide of Great Britain.
The Islamic Threat, Part I
Tony Blankley is the editorial-page editor of the Washington Times, has a new book out called The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations.
Today's Washington Times has the first of a three-part series in which they've excerpted sections of the book. Here are a few tidbits:
The threat of the radical Islamists taking over Europe is every bit as great to the United States as was the threat of the Nazis taking over Europe in the 1940s.
It is beginning to dawn on Europeans that the combination of a shrinking ethnic-European population and an expanding, culturally assertive Muslim population might lead to the fall of Western civilization in Europe within a century.
This phenomenon, called Eurabia, is viewed with growing fatalism both in Europe and in America.
But that survival instinct is threatened by the multiculturalism and political correctness advocated in media and academe -- and institutionalized in national and European Union laws and regulations for half a century.
Europe's effort at cultural tolerance since World War II slowly morphed into a surprisingly deep self-loathing of Western culture that denied the instinct for cultural and national self-defense.
If Europe doesn't rise to the challenge, Eurabia will come to pass. Then Europe will cease to be an American ally and instead become a base of operations (as she already is to a small degree) against us.
Read the whole thing.
This is a book I'm going to have to buy. And soon.