Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
on: June 06, 2007, 11:34:38 AM
From the Los Angeles Times
In Saudi Arabia, a view from behind the veil
As a woman in the male-dominated kingdom, Times reporter Megan Stack quietly fumed beneath her abaya. Even beyond its borders, her experience taints her perception of the sexes.
By Megan K. Stack
Times Staff Writer
June 6, 2007
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — THE hem of my heavy Islamic cloak trailed over floors that glistened like ice. I walked faster, my eyes fixed on a familiar, green icon. I hadn't seen a Starbucks in months, but there it was, tucked into a corner of a fancy shopping mall in the Saudi capital. After all those bitter little cups of sludgy Arabic coffee, here at last was an improbable snippet of home — caffeinated, comforting, American.
I wandered into the shop, filling my lungs with the rich wafts of coffee. The man behind the counter gave me a bemused look; his eyes flickered. I asked for a latte. He shrugged, the milk steamer whined, and he handed over the brimming paper cup. I turned my back on his uneasy face.
Crossing the cafe, I felt the hard stares of Saudi men. A few of them stopped talking as I walked by and watched me pass. Them, too, I ignored. Finally, coffee in hand, I sank into the sumptuous lap of an overstuffed armchair.
"Excuse me," hissed the voice in my ear. "You can't sit here." The man from the counter had appeared at my elbow. He was glaring.
"Excuse me?" I blinked a few times.
"Emmm," he drew his discomfort into a long syllable, his brows knitted. "You cannot stay here."
"What? Uh … why?"
Then he said it: "Men only."
He didn't tell me what I would learn later: Starbucks had another, unmarked door around back that led to a smaller espresso bar, and a handful of tables smothered by curtains. That was the "family" section. As a woman, that's where I belonged. I had no right to mix with male customers or sit in plain view of passing shoppers. Like the segregated South of a bygone United States, today's Saudi Arabia shunts half the population into separate, inferior and usually invisible spaces.
At that moment, there was only one thing to do. I stood up. From the depths of armchairs, men in their white robes and red-checked kaffiyehs stared impassively over their mugs. I felt blood rushing to my face. I dropped my eyes, and immediately wished I hadn't. Snatching up the skirts of my robe to keep from stumbling, I walked out of the store and into the clatter of the shopping mall.
THAT was nearly four years ago, a lesson learned on one of my first trips to the kingdom. Until that day, I thought I knew what I was doing: I'd heard about Saudi Arabia, that the sexes are wholly segregated. From museums to university campuses to restaurants, the genders live corralled existences. One young, hip, U.S.-educated Saudi friend told me that he arranges to meet his female friends in other Arab cities. It's easier to fly to Damascus or Dubai, he shrugged, than to chill out coeducationally at home.
I was ready to cope, or so I thought. I arrived with a protective smirk in tow, planning to thicken the walls around myself. I'd report a few stories, and go home. I had no inkling that Saudi Arabia, the experience of being a woman there, would stick to me, follow me home on the plane and shadow me through my days, tainting the way I perceived men and women everywhere.
I'm leaving the Middle East now, closing up years spent covering the fighting and fallout that have swept the region since Sept. 11. Of all the strange, scary and joyful experiences of the past years, my time covering Saudi Arabia remains among the most jarring.
I spent my days in Saudi Arabia struggling unhappily between a lifetime of being taught to respect foreign cultures and the realization that this culture judged me a lesser being. I tried to draw parallels: If I went to South Africa during apartheid, would I feel compelled to be polite?
I would find that I still saw scraps of Saudi Arabia everywhere I went. Back home in Cairo, the usual cacophony of whistles and lewd coos on the streets sent me into blind rage. I slammed doors in the faces of deliverymen; cursed at Egyptian soldiers in a language they didn't speak; kept a resentful mental tally of the Western men, especially fellow reporters, who seemed to condone, even relish, the relegation of women in the Arab world.
In the West, there's a tendency to treat Saudi Arabia as a remote land, utterly removed from our lives. But it's not very far from us, nor are we as different as we might like to think. Saudi Arabia is a center of ideas and commerce, an important ally to the United States, the heartland of a major world religion. It is a highly industrialized, ultramodern home to expatriates from all over the world, including Americans who live in lush gated compounds with swimming pools, drink illegal glasses of bathtub gin and speak glowingly of the glorious desert and the famous hospitality of Saudis.
The rules are different here. The same U.S. government that heightened public outrage against the Taliban by decrying the mistreatment of Afghan women prizes the oil-slicked Saudi friendship and even offers wan praise for Saudi elections in which women are banned from voting. All U.S. fast-food franchises operating here, not just Starbucks, make women stand in separate lines. U.S.-owned hotels don't let women check in without a letter from a company vouching for her ability to pay; women checking into hotels alone have long been regarded as prostitutes.
As I roamed in and out of Saudi Arabia, the abaya, or Islamic robe, eventually became the symbol of those shifting rules.
I always delayed until the last minute. When I felt the plane dip low over Riyadh, I'd reach furtively into my computer bag to fish out the black robe and scarf crumpled inside. I'd slip my arms into the sleeves without standing up. If I caught the eyes of any male passengers as my fingers fumbled with the snaps, I'd glare. Was I imagining the smug looks on their faces?
The sleeves, the length of it, always felt foreign, at first. But it never took long to work its alchemy, to plant the insecurity. After a day or two, the notion of appearing without the robe felt shocking. Stripped of the layers of curve-smothering cloth, my ordinary clothes suddenly felt revealing, even garish. To me, the abaya implied that a woman's body is a distraction and an interruption, a thing that must be hidden from view lest it haul the society into vice and disarray. The simple act of wearing the robe implanted that self-consciousness by osmosis.
In the depths of the robe, my posture suffered. I'd draw myself in and bumble along like those adolescent girls who seem to think they can roll their breasts back into their bodies if they curve their spines far enough. That was why, it hit me one day, I always seemed to come back from Saudi Arabia with a backache.
The kingdom made me slouch.
SAUDI men often raised the question of women with me; they seemed to hope that I would tell them, either out of courtesy or conviction, that I endorsed their way of life. Some blamed all manner of Western ills, from gun violence to alcoholism, on women's liberation. "Do you think you could ever live here?" many of them asked. It sounded absurd every time, and every time I would repeat the obvious: No.
Early in 2005, I covered the kingdom's much-touted municipal elections, which excluded women not only from running for office, but also from voting. True to their tribal roots, candidates pitched tents in vacant lots and played host to voters for long nights of coffee, bull sessions and poetry recitations. I accepted an invitation to visit one of the tents, but the sight of a woman in their midst so badly ruffled the would-be voters that the campaign manager hustled over and asked me, with lavish apologies, to make myself scarce before I cost his man the election.
A few days later, a female U.S. official, visiting from Washington, gave a press appearance in a hotel lobby in Riyadh. Sporting pearls, a business suit and a bare, blond head, she praised the Saudi elections.
The election "is a departure from their culture and their history," she said. "It offers to the citizens of Saudi Arabia hope…. It's modest, but it's dramatic."
The American ambassador, a bespectacled Texan named James C. Oberwetter, also praised the voting from his nearby seat.
"When I got here a year ago, there were no political tents," he said. "It's like a backyard political barbecue in the U.S."
One afternoon, a candidate invited me to meet his daughter. She spoke fluent English and was not much younger than me. I cannot remember whether she was wearing hijab, the Islamic head scarf, inside her home, but I have a memory of pink. I asked her about the elections.
"Very good," she said.
So you really think so, I said gently, even though you can't vote?
"Of course," she said. "Why do I need to vote?"
Her father chimed in. He urged her, speaking English for my benefit, to speak candidly. But she insisted: What good was voting? She looked at me as if she felt sorry for me, a woman cast adrift on the rough seas of the world, no male protector in sight.
"Maybe you don't want to vote," I said. "But wouldn't you like to make that choice yourself?"
"I don't need to," she said calmly, blinking slowly and deliberately. "If I have a father or a husband, why do I need to vote? Why should I need to work? They will take care of everything."
Through the years I have met many Saudi women. Some are rebels; some are proudly defensive of Saudi ways, convinced that any discussion of women's rights is a disguised attack on Islam from a hostile Westerner. There was the young dental student who came home from the university and sat up half the night, writing a groundbreaking novel exploring the internal lives and romances of young Saudi women. The oil expert who scolded me for asking about female drivers, pointing out the pitfalls of divorce and custody laws and snapping: "Driving is the least of our problems." I have met women who work as doctors and business consultants. Many of them seem content.
Whatever their thoughts on the matter, they have been assigned a central, symbolic role in what seems to be one of the greatest existential questions in contemporary Saudi Arabia: Can the country opt to develop in some ways and stay frozen in others? Can the kingdom evolve economically and technologically in a global society without relinquishing its particular culture of extreme religious piety and ancient tribal code?
The men are stuck, too. Over coffee one afternoon, an economist told me wistfully of the days when he and his wife had studied overseas, how she'd hopped behind the wheel and did her own thing. She's an independent, outspoken woman, he said. Coming back home to Riyadh had depressed both of them.
"Here, I got another dependent: my wife," he said. He found himself driving her around, chaperoning her as if she were a child. "When they see a woman walking alone here, it's like a wolf watching a sheep. 'Let me take what's unattended.' " He told me that both he and his wife hoped, desperately, that social and political reform would finally dawn in the kingdom. He thought foreign academics were too easy on Saudi Arabia, that they urged only minor changes instead of all-out democracy because they secretly regarded Saudis as "savages" incapable of handling too much freedom.
"I call them propaganda papers," he said of the foreign analysis. "They come up with all these lame excuses." He and his wife had already lost hope for themselves, he said.
"For ourselves, the train has left the station. We are trapped," he said. "I think about my kids. At least when I look at myself in the mirror I'll say: 'At least I said this. At least I wrote this.' "
WHEN Saudi officials chat with an American reporter, they go to great lengths to depict a moderate, misunderstood kingdom. They complain about stereotypes in the Western press: Women banned from driving? Well, they don't want to drive anyway. They all have drivers, and why would a lady want to mess with parking?
The religious police who stalk the streets and shopping centers, forcing "Islamic values" onto the populace? Oh, Saudi officials say, they really aren't important, or strict, or powerful. You hear stories to the contrary? Mere exaggerations, perpetuated by people who don't understand Saudi Arabia.
I had an interview one afternoon with a relatively high-ranking Saudi official. Since I can't drive anywhere or meet a man in a cafe, I usually end up inviting sources for coffee in the lobby of my hotel, where the staff turns a blind eye to whether those in the "family section" are really family.
As the elevator touched down and the shiny doors swung open onto the lobby, the official rushed toward me.
"Do you think we could talk in your room?" he blurted out.
I stepped back. What was this, some crazy come-on?
"No, why?" I stammered, stepping wide around him. "We can sit right over here." I wanted to get to the coffee shop — no dice. He swung himself around, blocking my path and my view.
"It's not a good idea," he said. "Let's just go to your room."
"I really don't think … I mean," I said, stuttering in embarrassment.
Then, peering over his shoulder, I saw them: two beefy men in robes. Great bushes of beards sprang from their chins, they swung canes in their hands and scanned the hotel lobby through squinted eyes.
"Is that the religious police?" I said. "It is!" I was a little mesmerized. I'd always wanted to see them in action.
The ministry official seemed to shrink a little, his shoulders slumped in defeat.
"They're not supposed to be here," he muttered despondently. "What are they doing here?"
"Well, why don't we go to the mall next door?" I said, eyes fixed on the menacing men. "There's a coffee shop there, we could try that."
"No, they will go there next." While he wrung his hands nervously, I stepped back a little and considered the irony of our predicament. To avoid running afoul of what may be the world's most stringent public moral code, I was being asked to entertain a strange, older man in my hotel room, something I would never agree to back home.
I had to do something. He was about to walk away and cancel the meeting, and I couldn't afford to lose it. Then I remembered a couple of armchairs near the elevator, up on my floor. We rode up and ordered room-service coffee. We talked as the elevators chimed up and down the spine of the skyscraper and the roar of vacuum cleaners echoed in the hallway.
ONE glaring spring day, when the hot winds raced in off the plains and the sun blotted everything to white, I stood outside a Riyadh bank, sweating in my black cloak while I waited for a friend. The sidewalk was simmering, but I had nowhere else to go. As a woman, I was forbidden to enter the men's half of the bank to fetch him. Traffic screamed past on a nearby highway. The winds tugged at the layers of black polyester. My sunglasses began to slip down my glistening nose.
The door clattered open, and I looked up hopefully. But no, it was a security guard. And he was stomping straight at me, yelling in Arabic. I knew enough vocabulary to glean his message: He didn't want me standing there. I took off my shades, fixed my blue eyes on him blankly and finally turned away as if puzzled. I think of this as playing possum.
He disappeared again, only to reemerge with another security guard. This man was of indistinct South Asian origin and had an English vocabulary. He looked like a pit bull — short, stocky and teeth flashing as he barked: "Go! Go! You can't stand here! The men can SEE! The men can SEE!"
I looked down at him and sighed. I was tired. "Where do you want me to go? I have to wait for my friend. He's inside." But he was still snarling and flashing those teeth, arms akimbo. He wasn't interested in discussions.
"Not here. NOT HERE! The men can SEE you!" He flailed one arm toward the bank.
I lost my temper.
"I'm just standing here!" I snapped. "Leave me alone!" This was a slip. I had already learned that if you're a woman in a sexist country, yelling at a man only makes a crisis worse.
The pit bull advanced toward me, making little shooing motions with his hands, lips curled back. Involuntarily, I stepped back a few paces and found myself in the shrubbery. I guess that, from the bushes, I was hidden from the view of the window, thereby protecting the virtue of all those innocent male bankers. At any rate, it satisfied the pit bull, who climbed back onto the sidewalk and stood guard over me. I glared at him. He showed his teeth. The minutes passed. Finally, my friend reemerged.
A liberal, U.S.-educated professor at King Saud University, he was sure to share my outrage, I thought. Maybe he'd even call up the bank — his friend was the manager — and get the pit bull in trouble. I told him my story, words hot as the pavement.
He hardly blinked. "Yes," he said. "Oh." He put the car in reverse, and off we drove.
DRIVING to the airport, I felt the kingdom slipping off behind me, the flat emptiness of its deserts, the buildings that rear toward the sky, encased in mirrored glass, blank under a blaring sun. All the hints of a private life I have never seen. Saudis are bred from the desert; they find life in what looks empty to me.
Even if I were Saudi, would I understand it? I remember the government spokesman, Mansour Turki, who said to me: "Being a Saudi doesn't mean you see every face of Saudi society. Saudi men don't understand how Saudi women think. They have no idea, actually. Even my own family, my own mother or sister, she won't talk to me honestly."
I slipped my iPod headphones into my ears. I wanted to hear something thumping and American. It began the way it always does: an itch, an impatience, like a wrinkle in the sock, something that is felt, but not yet registered. The discomfort always starts when I leave.
By the time I boarded the plane, I was in a temper. I yanked at the clasps, shrugged off the abaya like a rejected embrace. I crumpled it up and tossed it childishly into the airplane seat.
Then I was just standing there, feeling stripped in my jeans and blouse. My limbs felt light, and modesty flashed through me. I was aware of the skin of my wrists and forearms, the triangle of naked neck. I scanned the eyes behind me, looking for a challenge. But none came. The Saudi passengers had watched my tantrum impassively.
I sat down, leaned back and breathed. This moment, it seems, is always the same. I take the abaya off, expecting to feel liberated. But somehow, it always feels like defeat.
Stack reported in Saudi Arabia repeatedly during her tenure as The Times' Cairo Bureau chief from September 2003 until last month.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters
on: June 04, 2007, 09:00:16 AM
Posted by: DogBrian
I read both the Bible and the Koran. Almedimejad is as much a Muslim as George Bush is a Christian. Neither are true followers of their religion. They are pitting one group against the other to bring about global change. They are both misguiding the public into fighting one another while a third party will benefit from the war.
****What sura, or suras in the koran would you cite that would invalidate Ahmadinejad's islamic identity? What theological authority do you possess to declare President Bush not a christian? What 3rd. party do you suggest is pulling the conspiratorial strings from the shadows?****
If you study the same old formula that has been used by the elite over the centuries it seems this coming WWIII is nothing more than a manufactured war to make people so sick of monotheist religion that people turn to atheism. Once people give up religion, then the State can become their religion. Or if Al Gore has his way, we will all turn to Gaia worship.
****What elite? Where and when?****
The Hegelian Dialectic can be summed up like this......A problem is started, the public responds with a reaction (fear in the case of terror), then a solution is created and the public accepts. This is known as thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.
****Don't problems, including wars have their own causes that don't require a dark conspiracy?****
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: May 24, 2007, 05:45:34 AM
Wahhabi Prison Fellowship: The teaching of jihad in American penitentiaries.
by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Weekly Standard, Sept. 26, 2005, Volume 11, Issue 2
ON AUGUST 31, FOUR men were charged with participation in a terrorist plot hatched in a California prison. The six-count indictment describes a conspiracy to attack military and Jewish targets in the Los Angeles area, including military bases and recruitment centers, synagogues, the Israeli Consulate, and El Al airline facilities. It also spotlights a problem that has surfaced repeatedly since 9/11: that of jihadist indoctrination in prisons and jails.
The roots of this latest alleged conspiracy reach back to 1997, when Kevin James, an inmate at California State Prison, Sacramento, founded Jam'iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS), an organization promoting his radical interpretation of Islam. James required members to take an oath of obedience to him and swear not to disclose the existence of JIS. According to the indictment, James "preached the duty of JIS members to target for violent attack any enemies of Islam or 'infidels,' including the United States Government and Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel." James's teaching apparently found sympathetic ears. The plot was uncovered after former CSP-Sacramento inmate Levar Washington was arrested this July for a string of gas station robberies, and a search of his apartment turned up extremist literature and documents listing the addresses of intended terrorist targets.
While some Muslim advocacy groups deny that extremist indoctrination is occurring in prisons, the evidence continues to mount. Muktar Said Ibrahim, arrested in the attempted bombing of London's Underground on July 21, reportedly converted to Islam while incarcerated, as did attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid before him. And students of the case of former gang member Jose Padilla, accused of being part of a "dirty bomb" plot, consider relevant the time he spent behind bars just before his conversion.
Beyond these individual cases, moreover, it is a fact that radical propaganda has been distributed in U.S. prisons. Before it was shut down by the Saudi Arabian government in 2004, the Wahhabist Al Haramain Islamic Foundation distributed large numbers of extremist books worldwide, including to American prisons. Al-Haramain boasted offices in over 50 countries and received between $45 and $50 million in donations every year.
When law-enforcement agents raided the U.S. branch of Al Haramain, headquartered in Ashland, Oregon, in February 2004 as part of a money-laundering investigation, they seized copies of the literature the foundation had been distributing. They also made a remarkable find on one of the seized computers: a database that detailed where the group had sent its literature. It contained over 15,000 names. While not all recipients were prisoners, enough were that "Prisoner Number" and "Release Date" were standard fields in the database. The charity also regularly mailed bulk quantities of literature to prison chaplains, who distributed the books to inmates.
Some of the texts that Al Haramain had distributed to prisons deserve a closer look. Take Muhammad bin Jamil Zino's Islamic Guidelines for Individual and Social Reform, which was sent to an estimated 1,000 prisoners (an exact tally has not been made public). One of the book's themes is jihad. As early as page two, Zino states that Islam "commends the Halal [lawful] money in possession of a pious person who pays a share of it in charity and for Jihad (fighting in the way of Allah)." While some students of Islam argue that the term jihad is often misunderstood because it has nonmilitary meanings, Al Haramain's literature avoids any ambiguity: Zino forthrightly states that the term means fighting.
This advocacy of jihad is reinforced by repetition. Zino instructs his readers that children should be indoctrinated in the glories of jihad from an early age:
Teach your children the love of justice and revenge from the unjust like the Jews and the tyrants. Consequently our youth would know that Palestine should be freed and Jerusalem must be of the Muslims. They have to learn about Islam and Jihad as per the Qur'an and that the holy fighting for justice is supported by Allah the Almighty.
And he further specifies the objects and means of jihad: "The Jihad against the disbelievers, communists and the aggressors from Jewish-Christian nations can be either by spending on Jihad or by participating in it in person."
Indeed, the "Jewish-Christian nations" are special objects of ire throughout the literature that Al Haramain distributed to prisons. Virulent anti-Semitism and hatred of non-Muslim governments are recurring themes.
On a page headed "Act upon these Ahadith," the hadith being sayings and traditions attributed to Muhammad, Zino's very first injunction reads: "The Last Hour will not appear unless the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them." Zino also imputes conspiracies to the Jews. In a passage denouncing fortunetellers, he writes, "If they know the Unseen, let them talk about the secret schemes of the Jews so that we combat them."
More sweepingly, Zino denounces "belief in man-made destructive ideologies such as atheistic communism, Jewish masonry, Marxian socialism, secularism or nationalism" as nullifying an individual's adherence to Islam. This is in keeping with the views of another of the writers whose works Al Haramain reportedly sent to prisons: Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips. In The Fundamentals of Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism), Philips excoriates the acceptance of non-Islamic rule in place of sharia law in Muslim lands. Philips describes acquiescence to non-Islamic rule as an act of idolatry and disbelief. "Un-Islamic government," he writes, "must be sincerely hated and despised for the pleasure of God."
The Koran, of course, was widely distributed by Al Haramain--the Koran, that is, in its Wahhabi version. As Stephen Schwartz reported here a year ago, the Wahhabi translation of the Koran is suffused with contempt for non-Muslims, particularly Jews and Christians. It contains numerous interpolations not present in the Arabic, all pushing the meaning in a radical direction. Al-Haramain distributed this volume to an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 prisoners.
The Wahhabi Koran also contains explanatory material rife with calls to holy war. An early footnote, for example, states:
Al-Jihad (holy fighting) in Allah's Cause (with full force of numbers and weaponry) is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars (on which it stands). By Jihad Islam is established, Allah's Word is made superior, . . . and His Religion (Islam) is propagated. By abandoning Jihad (may Allah protect us from that) Islam is destroyed and the Muslims fall into an inferior position; their honour is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim, and he who tries to escape from this duty, or does not in his innermost heart wish to fulfil this duty, dies with one of the qualities of a hypocrite.
This rules out nonmilitary interpretations of jihad, insisting on "full force of numbers and weaponry." It also endorses jihad as a means of propagating Islam, and specifies that it is required of "every Muslim."
Most chilling of all is a 22-page appendix by Saudi Arabia's former chief justice Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid found in the vast majority of the Korans that Al Haramain sent to the prisons. Entitled "The Call to Jihad (Holy Fighting in Allah's Cause) in the Qur'an," this essay is an exhortation to violence.
Bin Humaid argues at length that Muslims are obligated to wage war against non-Muslims who have not submitted to Islamic rule. He explains,
Allah . . . commanded the Muslims to fight against all the Mushrikun as well as against the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) if they do not embrace Islam, till they pay the Jizyah (a tax levied on the non-Muslims who do not embrace Islam and are under the protection of an Islamic government) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.
Mushrikun refers to all nonbelievers who are not classified as people of the scriptures; bin Humaid thus advocates war with the entire non-Muslim world.
Once again, the essay appeals to the reader to volunteer for jihad:
Jihad is a great deed indeed and there is no deed whose reward or blessing is as that of it, and for this reason, it is the best thing that one can volunteer for. . . . t (Jihad) shows one's patience, one's devotion to Islam, one's remembrance to Allah and there are other kinds of good deeds which are present in Jihad and are not present in any other act of worship.
There is reason to believe that the literature distributed by the Al Haramain Foundation is only the tip of the iceberg of what has reached and may still be reaching U.S. prisons. For all its impressive international presence, Al Haramain had only a handful of employees at its U.S. branch, and was just one of a number of Wahhabi charities with U.S. prison-outreach programs. The focus here is on Al Haramain's literature purely because the February 2004 raid opened a window into its program of prisoner education.
More study of radical indoctrination in prisons is warranted. Earlier this year, Freedom House, the New York-based human rights organization, released a scrupulously documented report exposing the extremist contents of literature found in the libraries, publication racks, and bookstores of 15 prominent U.S. mosques. The report is entitled "Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques."
A similar sampling of the Islamic literature available in federal and state prisons--both in libraries and distributed by prison chaplains--is needed to further our understanding of whatever extremist indoctrination has occurred and is occurring. A good place to start is the California prison system, where the latest plot for jihad on our soil was apparently hatched.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a counterterrorism consultant and attorney.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: May 24, 2007, 05:43:11 AM
Disappointing article for a number of reasons...
The title made me assume that there was a systematic, well-planned approach by AQ to convert blacks to Islam and have them join in Jihad. Instead, I am given no hard facts, no statistics, and questionable assumptions:
Blacks account for the largest share of Muslims in America. A great many of them are converts to Islam.
Conversion to a religion is a long way from martyrdom. Many people convert to Christianity every year, but I'm guessing a minuscule portion of these goes out to bomb abortion clinics. Since when did religious conversion = religious fanaticism?
**When islam is involved, jihad is a core theological component. The koran and sunna, ahadith exhort "Smiting the unbelievers" unlike Buddhism or Christianity.***
Analysts fear the trend plays right into bin Laden's hands.
**The idea behind al qaeda is that the muslim population globally rise up to impose the new caliphate and muslim global dominance.**
Prisons have already proven to be a fertile recruiting ground for al-Qaida, spawning the likes of shoebomber Richard Reid and alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla.
Two examples is hardly a "fertile recruiting ground"
****How many more do you need?
Drawings link prison converts to terrorism
May 20, 2007
CHILLING evidence has emerged that some of the state's most dangerous prisoners have become devotees of terrorism after converting to Islam.
Drawings found in the Super Max cell of Bassam Hamzy, ringleader of 12 Islamic converts within the high-security Goulburn jail, suggest some in the gang see themselves as assassins bent on causing terror in Australia.
The Sun-Herald can reveal a hand-drawn gang logo was found in Hamzy's cell bearing the words "assassins australia FFL" with depictions of AK-47 assault rifles. Checks by Department of Corrective Services security officers found FFL stood for "Freedom Fighters Lebanon".
A handwritten note was found saying: "Solja Warrior We don fear death and sometimes we wish for it [sic]."
Guards also confiscated a photo of Osama bin Laden found in Hamzy's cell.
Critics attacked prison authorities, claiming they targeted Hamzy because he was Muslim when they revealed he had converted 11 inmates to Islam, using promises of help outside the jail. They were known as the "Super Max Jihadists".
Hamzy, 28, who is serving 21 years for the 1998 murder of an 18-year-old man, was transferred out of the Super Max jail last month.
"This is evidence that prison authorities were not targeting Hamzy because of his religion," said NSW Commissioner of Corrective Services Ron Woodham yesterday.
"Hamzy's defenders should look at this evidence closely, as he is clearly talking the rhetoric of a terrorist."
A cryptic message on another piece of paper, appearing to refer to large sums of money, said: "After 8K was given not sure what was left from 9.600."
Another said: "Courage, honour, no mercy, mercy 4 da weak, family 4 life and BFL [brother for life]."
He had even arranged a Muslim marriage for one man serving time for rape to a Muslim woman outside the jail. An imam oversaw the marriage, which was conducted over the phone. Although such a marriage has no legal status, it can be recognised by Muslims.
Six of the converts were Aboriginal prisoners serving time for murder, rape and armed robbery. The converts were caught on surveillance cameras kneeling before Hamzy and kissing his hand.
The Islamic converts had shaved their heads and grown long beards, and conducted prayers in their cells several times a day.
Hamzy is now in isolation behind seven separate security barriers in a high-security section of Lithgow prison, where he is denied contact with other prisoners.
Source: The Sun-Herald
4 Charged With Terrorist Plot In California
By Amy Argetsinger and Sonya Geis
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 1, 2005; A02
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 31 -- Federal and local law enforcement officials said Wednesday that they had blocked a terrorist conspiracy with roots in the state prison system that had allegedly plotted to attack military facilities, synagogues and the Israeli consulate, among other Southern California targets.
A federal grand jury here indicted the head of a radical Islamic prison gang and three other men on charges of conspiracy to wage war against the U.S. government, conspiracy to kill service members and foreign officials, and other related crimes.
The conspiracy unraveled, officials said, after two of the men were arrested in early July in connection with a string of gas station robberies. A search of one suspect's home turned up jihadist literature, bulletproof vests and lists of potential targets.
"We dodged a bullet here, perhaps many bullets," said Police Chief William J. Bratton. "These individuals had devised a plan, selected targets, obtained the weapons, picked the dates," including Jewish holy days in October.
The indictments highlighted a growing area of concern -- the potential for radical movements to be nurtured within U.S. prisons, where religion is often a solace for an alienated population.
"We have a tendency to think of terrorism as something that is foreign," said U.S. Attorney Debra W. Yang, who added that there is no evidence the prison group was tied to al Qaeda or other overseas organizations. "This is a stark reminder that it can be homegrown."
Officials allege the conspiracy began with Kevin James, 29, a longtime inmate at California State Prison-Sacramento who is serving time for attempted robbery and possession of a weapon in prison. In 1997, James founded a group called Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh.
According to charging documents, James tried to recruit his fellow inmates into the group, which preached a radical version of Islam that called for members to attack any perceived enemies of the faith. Last fall, one of his alleged recruits, Levar Haney Washington, 25, was paroled from the prison and returned to Los Angeles with orders from James to recruit more followers with clean records, then acquire firearms and explosives.
In late May, Washington began the robberies along with Gregory Vernon Patterson, 21, and Pakistani immigrant Hammad Riaz Samana, 21, both former college students who attended the same suburban mosque as Washington. Yang said the robberies were "designed to finance the operations of the terrorist conspiracy."
Washington remained in contact with James, according to the indictment, updating him on Patterson's and Samana's involvement. The charging documents also allege that Patterson had used the Internet to research the offices of the Israeli airline El Al at Los Angeles International Airport and the Yom Kippur events in the city this fall, while Samana had researched information about the Israeli consulate and military recruiting offices.
If convicted, all four men could face life in prison without parole, officials said.
Islamic radicalization of Europe's jails?
Treatment of Muslim inmates varies across EU
Updated: 11:37 p.m. MT July 7, 2006
MILAN, Italy — "In prison you only think about waking up, cleaning your cell, and praying," said a Moroccan inmate serving time in a prison on the outskirts of this city.
During a recent visit to the Bollate prison, 25-year-old Hakimi Abd Elfattah said he was a non-observant Muslim before being incarcerated, but "there's nothing to do in here, so I learn a little of the Quran."
With no trained imams or Muslim chaplains working in the Bollate prison, the inmate offering guidance on Islam's holy book also is a prisoner.
In contrast to the Westernized Elfattah, self-designated imam Arafat Mahmoud sports a skull cap on his shaved head, a thick beard, and refuses to shake hands with women.
The 36-year-old said he was not trained at an Islamic college but knew more about Islam than the other prisoners on his floor and had taken it upon himself to instruct inmates from North Africa. Neither inmate would divulge the crimes for which they were incarcerated.
Around 30 percent of Bollate's nearly 900 inmates are Muslim, and many of them pray together in various Arabic dialects and other languages four times a day in small, carpeted cells located on each floor and wing of the prison. They pray alone in their cells at night and gather together for large Friday afternoon services.
While religion can assist prisoners in bettering their lives, there is a growing fear that radical Islamists are using jails to find recruits, with some analysts saying that al-Qaida is specifically targeting inmates for indoctrination.
Alarmed by the possibility, the European Union has made the prevention of recruitment and radicalization in prisons a counter-terrorism priority for the first time.
For her part, Bollate prison director Lucia Castellano said she has never suspected any inmates of recruiting for or planning terrorist attacks in her prison. But, she acknowledged that with so many languages spoken within the prison's walls, it would be impossible for guards to know what was being discussed.
'Criminality and Islamism'
"The connection between criminality and Islamism is very tight in Europe," said Michael Radu, a terrorism analyst at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
"Every (terrorist) attack has converts, and most of them have criminal records and were converted within prisons," he said, noting the cases of British "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid and José Emilio Suárez Trashorras, the Spaniard who supplied the explosives used in the 2004 Madrid bombings — both of whom converted while incarcerated.
Like the young Moroccan held in the Bollate prison, analysts noted that the majority of Europe's prisoners were not actively engaged in any religion before being locked up, but their confinement often spurs a religious awakening or reawakening.
"In prison individuals are confronted with existential questions in a particularly intensive way" and religion can offer a "possibility to escape prison" at least for one's mind and spirit, said Irene Becci, who has analyzed religion in Italian and German prisons.
There are no statistics on prison conversions, but empirical evidence from British prisons shows that conversion to Islam is probably higher than to Christianity, according to sociology professor Jim Beckford.
"What's more attractive is that it's a relatively straight-forward faith in terms of what's required for someone to declare themselves to be a Muslim; people respond to that promise of an uncomplicated faith that offers security and certainty," said Beckford, who co-authored the book "Muslims In Prison; Challenges and Change in Britain and France."
In Florence, Italy, an Arabic cultural mediator said that by introducing Islam into the lives of inmates held at Tuscany's Soliciano prison, he saw a huge change in their personalities.
None of the prisoners from Islamic countries prayed when he began visiting them several years ago, but now dozens pray together and those who were using drugs, starving or mutilating themselves have all stopped, according to Mourad Abderrezak.
But, while faith can provide a path to redemption, it can also be misguided.
“In prison, a person has the right disposition to reflect on and accept what he’s taught, so you have to be careful of what message is given — either a moderate Islam, or an Islam that let’s say takes another path," Abderrezak said.
It's the other path that worries authorities. "There are very few legitimate imams serving in prisons in places like France, and self-made characters are free to operate – and these are radicals," said Radu, the terrorism analyst.
As the seeker looks for guidance, a "charismatic leader recruits them and when they're out they have a spontaneous (terrorist) cell," he said.
According to Radu, the cycle of "criminality and Islamism" is closed when the radicalized ex-prisoner re-engages in illegal activities to fund al-Qaida attacks.
Two of the men involved in Madrid's Atocha bombings fit that mold.
Incarcerated for petty crimes, Trashorras, who was a nominal Christian, and Jamal Ahmidan, a nonobservant Muslim, were both indoctrinated into radical Islam in prison and joined an al-Qaida linked Moroccan group that used drug trafficking to fund terrorist activities before taking lead roles in the deadly train bombings.
Overrepresentation in jails
The United States has not been immune to Islamic radicalization in its jails, but the situation this side of the Atlantic is underscored by the overrepresentation of Muslims in prison.
Muslims account for an estimated 50 percent of France's prison population, with some jails on the outskirts of Paris hitting 80 percent, while Muslims only account for six to ten percent of the total population. (No concrete statistics exist because it is illegal to ask a person to declare their faith in France.)
"Muslims tend not to be in prison in the U.S. because they're middle class, educated, and don't have the pathologies of the European Muslims," terrorism analyst Radu said.
By contrast, Muslims in France often live in impoverished ghettos where criminal activity is common, and the country's terrorism-related arrests date to the early 1990's when members of Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front began arriving as a civil war took hold of the north African country.
In England and Wales, Muslims represent 8 percent of the inmate population, but they only account for 2 to 4 percent of the whole U.K. population (which includes Scotland and Northern Ireland).
In the cases of countries such as Italy and Spain, many Muslims are illegal economic migrants who arrive clandestinely with great hopes, but do not have the skills or legal right to work to support themselves.
"The only avenue they can follow is crime; there's nothing they can do that's legal" said Castellano, the Italian prison director.
Tackling the problem
The European Union first addressed the issue this year by holding a seminar in March on preventing recruitment and radicalization in prisons.
But, the vastly different penitentiary systems across the 25 countries make for an uphill battle.
Also, adherence to EU recommendations is “up to each member state; the EU will not enter into the situation that’s going on in prisons,” said Jesus Carmona Nunez, spokesperson for the EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator.
In the cases of Britain, which recognizes Muslims' needs and has an active chaplaincy program, and France, which employs it's policy of laïcité, or republican secularism, the problems facing Muslim inmates and those watching over them vary greatly.
In England and Wales, "prison governors are aware of the risks of radicalization," the U.K. Home Office wrote in a prepared statement.
"There is no evidence that this is widespread although we suspect some prisoners have covertly attempted to radicalize prisoners, both during their prison sentence and after release," the statement said, noting that 23 full time imams, 12 part-time imams, and 120 sessional imams who visit once a week, and who have all had vigorous security checks, "are prohibited from preaching or facilitating extremist messages and activities."
Since the 2005 London transport bombings "we have closely monitored events such as Friday prayers and all establishments are instructed to report any significant events," it said.
The program keeps an eye out for possible extremist activity, but it also sparks "curiosity and to some degree pressure from fellow inmates to take part in chaplaincy activities," said sociology professor Beckford.
While generally viewed as positive measures, special provisions such as Islamic literature, prayer halls, halal food, evening Ramadan meals, and headscarves for women, can also entice Muslims to seek advantages and separate themselves from other inmates, forming a sort of clan mentality, according to Beckford.
However, in France, which does not recognize or regulate religious activity in prisons, provisions are only offered on an ad hoc basis, dependent on the personal preferences of prison directors and wardens. Qurans are available in some prisons, but incarcerated Muslim woman are often denied the right to wear headscarves and halal food is not offered.
"In the French case, fundamentalism can be more pronounced than in Britain because it is a way for many Muslims to draw a divide between them and a society which does not tolerate Muslim habits and customs through its "laïcité" system," Farhad Khosrokhavar, another co-author of "Muslims in Prison" wrote in an email interview.
Due to the lack of trained imams or Muslim chaplains "the most radical tend to take control and organize informal types of Islamic education (in France)," Beckford said.
Meantime, most likely due to the lack of religious categorization, inmates convicted of Islamic terrorist offenses mix freely with other prisoners, according to the professor.
"There's a good network among the inmates that have been radicalized in French prisons," he said.
Prisoners may be radicalized while they are incarcerated, but they only become a danger to the public when they are released. And deportation failures could be leaving Europe exposed.
In Italy, foreign prisoners are given five days to leave the country after their release, usually of their own accord. If they are caught in Italy after that time period, they are jailed for another 6 months to a year.
"It's a vicious cycle," said Castellano, the Italian prison director.
Inside the prison, inmate Elfattah said “people are in here for nothing, just for the (expulsion) law.”
“I only know Italy,” he said, lamenting the fact that upon release he must leave the country he has lived in since he was 14. “There are people in here for one year just because they didn’t leave the country; it’s not fair,” he said.
While expulsion laws present a sad situation for the ex-convict who would like to improve his status in Europe, or would leave but either doesn't have the means to do so or is afraid to return home in disgrace, the situation also poses a huge security question regarding who is and isn't in Europe, especially given the number of imprisoned foreign nationals.
Fourteen percent of Italy's prison population is Muslim, 98 percent of whom are foreign nationals, while Muslims only account for one percent of the total population.
In Britain, then home secretary, Charles Clarke, was fired in May after admitting that 1,000 foreign nationals were released from prison between 1999 and 2006 without being considered for deportation.
Yet while an unknown number of prisoners across Europe are experiencing religious revivals and possibly being radicalized, back at the Bollate prison, Elfattah appeared to take his Islamic studies and prayers somewhat less seriously.
As he looks forward to the birth of his first son this month, and rejoining his French-born Moroccan wife when he's released in October, he plans to start a new life in France.
"In prison I pray, but when I leave I won't. I won't lie to you," he said.
© 2006 MSNBC Interactive© 2006 MSNBC Interactive
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: May 05, 2007, 09:58:41 PM
As-Sahab Video of Third Interview with Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri – 5/2007
By SITE Institute
May 5, 2007
Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two figure in al-Qaeda, is featured in a video interview produced by as-Sahab, marking the third such sit-down interview to be conducted with the multimedia wing of al-Qaeda. The first was issued in September 2005, and was followed a year later by the second, which is titled, “Hot Issues”. The video, one-hour and seven minutes in length, is subtitled in English, and features Zawahiri sitting in front of a shelves of books and his gun. The video and transcript were obtained by the SITE Institute. In this interview, dated in the current month, Zawahiri remarks on the row he created in his last speech, charging the leaders of Hamas with abandoning jihad and shirking the Shari’a, or Islamic law, on which their group was founded, using his usual fiery rhetoric and strict adherence to the belief that a Palestinian entity is greater than the lives of Palestinians. However, most interesting to note is Zawahiri’s frequent references to Malcolm X AKA Al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz, a past spokesman for the Nation of Islam, Sahab’s inclusion of excerpts from his speeches, and Zawahiri courting of all minorities in arguing that the jihad by the Mujahideen and al-Qaeda is not merely for the benefit of Muslims. He states:
“That’s why I want blacks in America, people of color, American Indians, Hispanics, and all the weak and oppressed in North and South America, in Africa and Asia, and all over the world, to know that when we wage Jihad in Allah’s path, we aren’t waging Jihad to lift oppression from the Muslims only, we are waging Jihad to lift oppression from all of mankind, because Allah has ordered us never to accept oppression, whatever it may be.”
Aside from Zawahiri’s opportunistic approach to minority rights, he comments on the current issue over the War in Iraq vis-à-vis the U.S. Congress and U.S. President George W. Bush. Speaking to the bill tying funding for the war to a timetable to withdrawal, Zawahiri comments that this is evidence of American “failure and frustration”, and sarcastically voices his disappointment that the bill deprives the Mujahideen of crushing the U.S. forces. Concerning Bush claiming success in the Baghdad security plan, Zawahiri continues to mock U.S. policy, referring to the suicide bombing at the Iraqi Parliament building in the Green Zone, stating: “And lest Bush worry, I congratulate him on the success of his security plan, and I invite him on the occasion for a glass of juice, but in the cafeteria of the Iraqi parliament in the middle of the Green Zone!”
To the issue of Hamas, which was embellished upon by Abu Yahya al-Libi in his speech issue one week prior by as-Sahab, Zawahiri further derides the government for its refusal to maintain a militaristic approach and believing it harmful to Palestinian lives. Zawahiri questions the relationship between Palestinian blood and “selling” Palestine to Israel and the West, arguing that their blood must be “sacrificed cheaply” for Islam and the land of Palestine. As for Hamas’ moderate position, he states: “fie on moderation, politics, the presidency and the cabinet, and I thank Allah for the bounty of extremism, militancy and terrorism and everything else we are labeled with.”
To the question of sectarian fighting in Iraq, Zawahiri believes this was stirred up not by the Mujahideen or the Islamic State of Iraq, but by those individuals and groups in Iraq who do not want the coalition forces to leave. The Mujahideen in Iraq, he claims, are nearing closer to victory over their enemy, despite this sectarian fighting, as are the Mujahideen in other fields of battle, including Afghanistan, Chechnya, Algeria, and Somalia. Other portions of the interview concern Saudi Arabia, Egyptian constitutional reform to consolidate power in the executive branch and allow Gamal Mubarak to ascend to power, and Zawahiri’s opinion of the U.S. Pentagon releasing the confessions of 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.
The video and transcript are provided to our Intel Service members.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: May 05, 2007, 06:40:15 PM
New Tape: Al Qaeda No. 2 Wants 200,000-300,000 U.S. Dead in Iraq
Ayman al-Zawahiri Says Al Qaeda Wants to Spill More U.S. Blood Before America Withdraws
By BRIAN ROSS
May 5, 2007 —
In a new video posted today on the Internet, al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al Zawahiri, mocks the bill passed by Congress setting a timetable for the pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq.
"This bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap," Zawahiri says in answer to a question posed to him an interviewer.
Continuing in the same tone, Zawahiri says, "We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson."
Based on the references to the bill, the tape, produced by al Qaeda's propaganda arm, as-Sahab, appears to have been made after Congress passed the legislation last week but before President Bush vetoed in on Thursday.
According to Laura Mansfield, a counter terrorism analyst with Strategic Translations, an organization that monitors al Qaeda postings, the tape was posted on the Internet this morning and covers the usual range of Zawahri's topics including Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
There has been a flurry of audio and video releases featuring Zawahiri, although no new communication from Osama bin Laden since mid-2006.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The party of Hate
on: May 05, 2007, 03:49:50 PM
22% Believe Bush Knew About 9/11 Attacks in Advance
Friday, May 04, 2007
Democrats in America are evenly divided on the question of whether George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure.
Republicans reject that view and, by a 7-to-1 margin, say the President did not know in advance about the attacks. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 18% believe the President knew and 57% take the opposite view.
Overall, 22% of all voters believe the President knew about the attacks in advance. A slightly larger number, 29%, believe the CIA knew about the attacks in advance. White Americans are less likely than others to believe that either the President or the CIA knew about the attacks in advance. Young Americans are more likely than their elders to believe the President or the CIA knew about the attacks in advance.
However, just 8% of voters say the CIA was Very Truthful before the War in Iraq. Another 33% believe the CIA was Somewhat Truthful. Most, 52%, believe the CIA was Not Very Truthful or Not at All Truthful before the War.
Still, 57% have a favorable opinion of the CIA. Thirty-six percent (36%) have an unfavorable view.
Former CIA Director George Tenet doesn’t fare so well. He is viewed favorably by 29% of voters and unfavorably by 49%.
Just 12% have followed news stories about Tenet’s new book Very Closely. Another 29% have followed the stories Somewhat Closely. Fifty-six percent (56%) have not been following the news stories about Tenet.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: May 05, 2007, 03:31:21 PM
BREAKING: Zawahiri comments on timetable for Iraq withdrawal
Excerpt from soon to be released Zawahiri tape:
Interviewer: The American Congress recently passed a bill which ties the funding of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq which ends next March. What is your comment on this resolution?
Zawahiri: This bill reflects American failure and frustration. However, this bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap. We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing two hundred to three hundred thousand killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson which will motivate them to review their entire doctrinal and moral system which produced their historic criminal Crusader/Zionist entity.
Later in the tape, he goes on to say:
Thus, I warn everyone who has helped the Crusade against Iraq and Afghanistan that the Crusaders are departing – by their own admission – and soon, with Allah’s permission, so let him ponder his fate and future.
Please check back - we will post this video as soon as it becomes available.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion
on: April 27, 2007, 10:06:00 AM
Mainstream Caliphate Confessions
By Andrew G. Bostom
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 27, 2007
Writing in 1916, C. Snouck Hurgronje, the great Dutch Orientalist, underscored how the jihad doctrine of world conquest, and the re-creation of a supranational Islamic Caliphate remained a potent force among the Muslim masses:
…it would be a gross mistake to imagine that the idea of universal conquest may be considered as obliterated…the canonists and the vulgar still live in the illusion of the days of Islam’s greatness. The legists continue to ground their appreciation of every actual political condition on the law of the holy war, which war ought never be allowed to cease entirely until all mankind is reduced to the authority of Islam—the heathen by conversion, the adherents of acknowledged Scripture [i.e., Jews and Christians] by submission.
Hurgronje further noted that although the Muslim rank and file might acknowledge the improbability of that goal “at present” (circa 1916), they were,
…comforted and encouraged by the recollection of the lengthy period of humiliation that the Prophet himself had to suffer before Allah bestowed victory upon his arms…
Thus even at the nadir of Islam’s political power, during the World War I era final disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, Hurgronje observed how
…the common people are willingly taught by the canonists and feed their hope of better days upon the innumerable legends of the olden time and the equally innumerable apocalyptic prophecies about the future. The political blows that fall upon Islam make less impression…than the senseless stories about the power of the Sultan of Stambul [Istanbul], that would instantly be revealed if he were not surrounded by treacherous servants, and the fantastic tidings of the miracles that Allah works in the Holy Cities of Arabia which are inaccessible to the unfaithful. The conception of the Khalifate [Caliphate] still exercises a fascinating influence, regarded in the light of a central point of union against the unfaithful (i.e., non-Muslims). [emphasis added]
Nearly a century later, the preponderance of contemporary mainstream Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia, apparently share with their murderous, jihad terror waging co-religionists from al-Qaeda the goal (if not necessarily supporting the gruesome means) of re-establishing an Islamic Caliphate. Polling data just released (April 24, 2007) in a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/ WorldPublicOpinion.org interview survey of 4384 Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007—1000 Moroccans, 1000 Egyptians, 1243 Pakistanis, and 1141 Indonesians—reveal that 65.2% of those interviewed—almost 2/3, hardly a “fringe minority”—desired this outcome (i.e., “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate”), including 49% of “moderate” Indonesian Muslims. The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate is strongly suggested by a concordant result: 65.5% of this Muslim sample approved the proposition “To require a strict [emphasis added] application of Shari’a law in every Islamic country.”
Notwithstanding ahistorical drivel from Western Muslim “advocacy” groups such as the Muslim Association of Britain, which lionizes both the Caliphate and the concomitant institution of Shari’a as promulgators of “a peaceful and just society”, the findings from the University of Maryland/ WorldPublicOpinion.org poll are ominous.
Umar Ibn al-Khattab (d. 644), was the second “rightly guided” caliph of Islam. During his reign, which lasted for a decade (634-644), Syria, Iraq and Egypt were conquered. Umar was responsible for organizing the early Islamic Caliphate. Alfred von Kremer, the seminal 19th century German scholar of Islam, described the “central idea” of Umar’s regime, as being the furtherance of “…the religious-military development of Islam at the expense of the conquered nations.” The predictable and historically verifiable consequence of this guiding principle was a legacy of harsh inequality, intolerance, and injustice towards non-Muslims observed by von Kremer in 1868 (and still evident in Islamic societies to this day):
It was the basis of its severe directives regarding Christians and those of other faiths, that they be reduced to the status of pariahs, forbidden from having anything in common with the ruling nation; it was even the basis for his decision to purify the Arabian Peninsula of the unbelievers, when he presented all the inhabitants of the peninsula who had not yet accepted Islam with the choice: to emigrate or deny the religion of their ancestors. The industrious and wealthy Christians of Najran, who maintained their Christian faith, emigrated as a result of this decision from the peninsula, to the land of the Euphrates, and ‘Umar also deported the Jews of Khaybar. In this way ‘Umar based that fanatical and intolerant approach that was an essential characteristic of Islam, now extant for over a thousand years, until this day [i.e., written in 1868]. It was this spirit, a severe and steely one, that incorporated scorn and contempt for the non-Muslims, that was characteristic of ‘Umar, and instilled by ‘Umar into Islam; this spirit continued for many centuries, to be Islam’s driving force and vital principle.
During the jihad campaigns of Umar’s Caliphate, in accord with nascent Islamic Law, neither cities nor monasteries were spared if they resisted. Thus, when the Greek garrison of Gaza refused to submit and convert to Islam, all were put to death. In the year 640, sixty Greek soldiers who refused to apostatize became martyrs, while in the same year (i.e., 638) that Caesarea, Tripolis and Tyre fell to the Muslims, hundreds of thousands of Christians converted to Islam, predominantly out of fear.
Muslim and non-Muslim sources record that Umar’s soldiers were allowed to break crosses on the heads of Christians during processions and religious litanies, and were permitted, if not encouraged, to tear down newly erected churches and to punish Christians for trivial reasons. Moreover, Umar forbade the employment of Christians in public offices. The false claim of Islamic toleration during this prototype “rightly guided” Caliphate cannot be substantiated even by relying on the (apocryphal?) “pact” of Umar (Ibn al-Khattab) because this putative decree compelled the Christians (and other non-Muslims) to fulfill self-destructive obligations, including: the prohibition on erecting any new churches, monasteries, or hermitages; and not being allowed to repair any ecclesiastical institutions that fell into ruin, nor to rebuild those that were situated in the Muslim quarters of a town. Muslim traditionists and early historians (such as al-Baladhuri) further maintain that Umar expelled the Jews of the Khaybar oasis, and similarly deported Christians (from Najran) who refused to apostasize and embrace Islam, fulfilling the death bed admonition of Muhammad who purportedly stated: “there shall not remain two religions in the land of Arabia.”
Umar imposed limitations upon the non-Muslims aimed at their ultimate destruction by attrition, and he introduced fanatical elements into Islamic culture that became characteristic of the Caliphates which succeeded his. For example, according to the chronicle of the Muslim historian Ibn al-Atham (d. 926-27), under the brief Caliphate of Ali b. Abi Talib (656-61), when one group of apostates in Yemen (Sanaa) adopted Judaism after becoming Muslims, “He [Ali] killed them and burned them with fire after the killing.” Indeed, the complete absence of freedom of conscience in these early Islamic Caliphates—while entirely consistent with mid-7th century mores—has remained a constant, ignominious legacy throughout Islamic history, to this day. During the long twilight of the last formal Caliphate under the Ottoman Turks, Sir Henry Layard, the British archeologist, writer, and diplomat (including postings in Turkey), described this abhorrent spectacle which he witnessed in the heart of Istanbul, in the autumn of 1843, four years after the first failed iteration of the so-called Tanzimat reforms designed to abrogate the sacralized discrimination of the Shari’a:
An Armenian who had embraced Islamism [i.e., common 19th century usage for Islam] had returned to his former faith. For his apostasy he was condemned to death according to the Mohammedan law. His execution took place, accompanied by details of studied insult and indignity directed against Christianity and Europeans in general. The corpse was exposed in one of the most public and frequented places in Stamboul [Istanbul], and the head, which had been severed from the body, was placed upon it, covered by a European hat.
Salient examples from within the past 25 years confirm the persistent absence of freedom of conscience in contemporary Islamic societies, in tragic conformity with a prevailing, unchanged mindset of the earliest Caliphates: the 1985 state-sponsored execution of Sudanese religious reformer Mahmoud Muhammad Taha for his alleged “apostasy”; the infamous 1989 “Salman Rushdie Affair”, which resulted in the issuance of a fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeini condemning Rushdie to death; the July 1994 vigilante murder of secular Egyptian writer Farag Foda—supported by the prominent Egyptian cleric, Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazali, an official of Al Azhar University, who testified on behalf of the murderer, “A secularist represents a danger to society and the nation that must be eliminated. It is the duty of the government to kill him.”; and the recent (March, 2006) tragic experience of Abdul Rahman, an unassuming Afghan Muslim convert to Christianity, forced to flee his native country to escape the murderous wrath of Muslim clerics and the masses they incited in “liberated”, post-Taliban Afghanistan. An even more alarming and utterly intolerable phenomenon was on display just this week in the United States when a Johnstown (western Pennsylvania) area imam Fouad El Bayly openly sanctioned the punishment by death of former Dutch Parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali—born and raised a Muslim in Somalia—for her open avowal of secularism.
Ibn Warraq has observed aptly that the most fundamental conception of a Caliphate, “…the constant injunction to obey the Caliph—who is God’s Shadow on Earth”, is completely incompatible with the creation of a “rights-based individualist philosophy.” Warraq illustrates the supreme hostility to individual rights in the Islamic Caliphate, and Islam itself, through the writings of the iconic Muslim philosopher, jurist, and historian, Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), and a contemporary Muslim thinker, A.K. Brohi, former Pakistani Minister of Law and Religious Affairs:
[Ibn Khaldun] All religious laws and practices and everything that the masses are expected to do requires group feeling. Only with the help of group feeling can a claim be successfully pressed,…Group feeling is necessary to the Muslim community. Its existence enables (the community) to fulfill what God expects of it.
[A.K. Brohi] Human duties and rights have been vigorously defined and their orderly enforcement is the duty of the whole of organized communities and the task is specifically entrusted to the law enforcement organs of the state. The individual if necessary has to be sacrificed in order that that the life of the organism be saved. Collectivity has a special sanctity attached to it in Islam.
In contrast, Warraq notes, “Liberal democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom and attaches all possible value to each man or woman.” And he concludes,
Individualism is not a recognizable feature of Islam; instead the collective will of the Muslim people is constantly emphasized. There is certainly no notion of individual rights, which developed in the West, especially during the eighteenth century.
Almost six decades ago (in 1950), G.H. Bousquet, a pre-eminent modern scholar of Islamic Law, put forth this unapologetic, pellucid formulation of the twofold totalitarian impulse in Islam:
Islam first came before the world as a doubly totalitarian system. It claimed to impose itself on the whole world and it claimed also, by the divinely appointed Muhammadan law, by the principles of the fiqh, to regulate down to the smallest details the whole life of the Islamic community and of every individual believer....the study of Muhammadan law (dry and forbidding though it may appear to those who confine themselves to the indispensable study of the fiqh) is of great importance to the world today.
The openly expressed desire for the restoration of a Caliphate from two-thirds of an important Muslim sample of Arab and non-Arab Islamic nations, representative of Muslims worldwide, should serve as a chilling wake-up call to those still in denial about the existential threat posed by the living, uniquely Islamic institution of jihad.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: April 25, 2007, 04:59:40 PM
A Madrassa Grows in Brooklyn
By Daniel Pipes
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 25, 2007
Come September, an Arabic-language public secondary school is slated to open its doors in Brooklyn. The New York City Department of Education says the Khalil Gibran International Academy, serving grades six through 12, will boast a "multicultural curriculum and intensive Arabic language instruction."
This appears to be a marvelous idea, for New York and the country need native-born Arabic speakers. They have a role in the military, diplomacy, intelligence, the courts, the press, the academy, and many other institutions — and teaching languages to the young is the ideal route to polyglotism. As someone who spent years learning Arabic, I am enthusiastic in principle about the idea of this school, one of the first of its kind in the United States.
In practice, however, I strongly oppose the KGIA and predict that its establishment will generate serious problems. I say this because Arabic-language instruction is inevitably laden with pan-Arabist and Islamist baggage. Some examples:
Franck Salameh taught Arabic at the most prestigious American language school, Middlebury College in Vermont. In an article for the Middle East Quarterly, he wrote: "even as students leave Middlebury with better Arabic, they also leave indoctrinated with a tendentious Arab nationalist reading of Middle Eastern history. Permeating lectures and carefully-designed grammatical drills, Middlebury instructors push the idea that Arab identity trumps local identities and that respect for minority ethnic and sectarian communities betrays Arabism."
For an example of such grammatical drills, see the just-published book by Shukri Abed, Focus on Contemporary Arabic: Conversations with Native Speakers (Yale University Press), one chapter of which is titled "The Question of Palestine." Its intensely politicized readings would be unimaginable in a book of French or Spanish conversations.
The Islamist dimension worries me as well. An organization that lobbies for Arabic instruction, the Arabic Language Institute Foundation, claims that knowledge of Islam's holy language can help the West recover from what its leader, Akhtar H. Emon, calls its "moral decay." In other words, Muslims tend to see non-Muslims learning Arabic as a step toward an eventual conversion to Islam, an expectation I encountered while studying Arabic in Cairo in the 1970s.
Also, learning Arabic in of itself promotes an Islamic outlook, as James Coffman showed in 1995, looking at evidence from Algeria. Comparing students taught in French and in Arabic, he found that "Arabized students show decidedly greater support for the Islamist movement and greater mistrust of the West." Those Arabized students, he notes, more readily believed in "the infiltration into Algeria of Israeli women spies infected with AIDS…the mass conversion to Islam by millions of Americans," and other Islamist nonsense.
Specifics about the KGIA confirm these apprehensions, including its roster of sponsors and enthusiasts. The school's key figure, principal-designate Dhabah ("Debbie") Almontaser, has a record of extremist views, as William A. Mayer and Beila Rabinowitz have shown at PipeLineNews.org.
Arabs or Muslims, Ms. Almontaser says, are innocent of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: "I don't recognize the people who committed the attacks as either Arabs or Muslims." Instead, she blames September 11 on Washington's foreign policies, saying they "can have been triggered by the way the USA breaks its promises with countries across the world, especially in the Middle East, and the fact that it has not been a fair mediator."
At a community meeting with the New York Police Department commissioner, she berated the NYPD for using "FBI tactics" when informants were used to prevent a subway bombing, thereby polarizing the Muslim community. For Ms. Almontaser, it appears, preventing terrorism counts less than soothing Muslim sensibilities.
She calls George W. Bush a "nightmare" who is "trying to destroy the United States."
Rewarding these views, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a foreign-funded front organization, in 2005 bestowed an honor on Ms. Almontaser for her "numerous contributions" to the protection of civil liberties.
Her intentions for the KGIA should raise alarms. An Associated Press report paraphrases her saying that "the school won't shy away from sensitive topics such as colonialism and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis," and she notes that the school will "incorporate the Arabic language and Islamic culture." Islamic culture? Not what was advertised — but imbuing pan-Arabism and anti-Zionism, proselytizing for Islam, and promoting Islamist sympathies will predictably make up the school's true curriculum.
To express your concerns about this planned Arabic school, please write the New York City chancellor, Joel Klein, at JKlein@schools.nyc.gov
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion
on: April 23, 2007, 09:41:36 PM
From The Sunday Times
April 21, 2007
How a British jihadi saw the light
Ed Hussain, once a proponent of radical Islam in London, tells how his time as a teacher in Saudi Arabia led him to turn against extremism
During our first two months in Jeddah, Faye and I relished our new and luxurious lifestyle: a shiny jeep, two swimming pools, domestic help, and a tax-free salary. The luxury of living in a modern city with a developed infrastructure cocooned me from the frightful reality of life in Saudi Arabia.
My goatee beard and good Arabic ensured that I could pass for an Arab.
But looking like a young Saudi was not enough: I had to act Saudi, be Saudi. And here I failed.
My first clash with Saudi culture came when, being driven around in a bulletproof jeep, I saw African women in black abayas tending to the rubbish bins outside restaurants, residences and other busy places.
“Why are there so many black cleaners on the streets?” I asked the driver. The driver laughed. “They’re not cleaners. They are scavengers; women who collect cardboard from all across Jeddah and then sell it. They also collect bottles, drink cans, bags.”
“You don’t find it objectionable that poor immigrant women work in such undignified and unhygienic conditions on the streets?”
“Believe me, there are worse jobs women can do.”
Though it grieves me to admit it, the driver was right. In Saudi Arabia women indeed did do worse jobs. Many of the African women lived in an area of Jeddah known as Karantina, a slum full of poverty, prostitution and disease.
A visit to Karantina, a perversion of the term “quarantine”, was one of the worst of my life. Thousands of people who had been living in Saudi Arabia for decades, but without passports, had been deemed “illegal” by the government and, quite literally, abandoned under a flyover.
A non-Saudi black student I had met at the British Council accompanied me. “Last week a woman gave birth here,” he said, pointing to a ramshackle cardboard shanty. Disturbed, I now realised that the materials I had seen those women carrying were not always for sale but for shelter.
I had never expected to see such naked poverty in Saudi Arabia.
At that moment it dawned on me that Britain, my home, had given refuge to thousands of black Africans from Somalia and Sudan: I had seen them in their droves in Whitechapel. They prayed, had their own mosques, were free and were given government housing.
Many Muslims enjoyed a better lifestyle in non-Muslim Britain than they did in Muslim Saudi Arabia. At that moment I longed to be home again.
All my talk of ummah seemed so juvenile now. It was only in the comfort of Britain that Islamists could come out with such radical utopian slogans as one government, one ever expanding country, for one Muslim nation. The racist reality of the Arab psyche would never accept black and white people as equal.
Standing in Karantina that day, I reminisced and marvelled over what I previously considered as wrong: mixed-race, mixed-religion marriages. The students to whom I described life in modern multi-ethnic Britain could not comprehend that such a world of freedom, away from “normal” Saudi racism, could exist.
Racism was an integral part of Saudi society. My students often used the word “nigger” to describe black people. Even dark-skinned Arabs were considered inferior to their lighter-skinned cousins. I was living in the world’s most avowedly Muslim country, yet I found it anything but. I was appalled by the imposition of Wahhabism in the public realm, something I had implicitly sought as an Islamist.
Part of this local culture consisted of public institutions being segregated and women banned from driving on the grounds that it would give rise to “licentiousness”. I was repeatedly astounded at the stares Faye got from Saudi men and I from Saudi women.
Faye was not immodest in her dress. Out of respect for local custom, she wore the long black abaya and covered her hair in a black scarf. In all the years I had known my wife, never had I seen her appear so dull. Yet on two occasions she was accosted by passing Saudi youths from their cars. On another occasion a man pulled up beside our car and offered her his phone number.
In supermarkets I only had to be away from Faye for five minutes and Saudi men would hiss or whisper obscenities as they walked past. When Faye discussed her experiences with local women at the British Council they said: “Welcome to Saudi Arabia.”
After a month in Jeddah I heard from an Asian taxi driver about a Filipino worker who had brought his new bride to live with him in Jeddah. After visiting the Balad shopping district the couple caught a taxi home. Some way through their journey the Saudi driver complained that the car was not working properly and perhaps the man could help push it. The passenger obliged. Within seconds the Saudi driver had sped off with the man’s wife in his car and, months later, there was still no clue as to her whereabouts.
We had heard stories of the abduction of women from taxis by sex-deprived Saudi youths. At a Saudi friend’s wedding at a luxurious hotel in Jeddah, women dared not step out of their hotel rooms and walk to the banqueting hall for fear of abduction by the bodyguards of a Saudi prince who also happened to be staying there.
Why had the veil and segregation not prevented such behaviour? My Saudi acquaintances, many of them university graduates, argued strongly that, on the contrary, it was the veil and other social norms that were responsible for such widespread sexual frustration among Saudi youth.
At work the British Council introduced free internet access for educational purposes. Within days the students had downloaded the most obscene pornography from sites banned in Saudi Arabia, but easily accessed via the British Council’s satellite connection. Segregation of the sexes, made worse by the veil, had spawned a culture of pent-up sexual frustration that expressed itself in the unhealthiest ways.
Using Bluetooth technology on mobile phones, strangers sent pornographic clips to one another. Many of the clips were recordings of homosexual acts between Saudis and many featured young Saudis in orgies in Lebanon and Egypt. The obsession with sex in Saudi Arabia had reached worrying levels: rape and abuse of both sexes occurred frequently, some cases even reaching the usually censored national press.
My students told me about the day in March 2002 when the Muttawa [the religious police] had forbidden firefighters in Mecca from entering a blazing school building because the girls inside were not wearing veils. Consequently 15 young women burnt to death, but Wahhabism held its head high, claiming that God’s law had been maintained.
As a young Islamist, I organised events at college and in the local community that were strictly segregated and I believed in it. Living in Saudi Arabia, I could see the logical outcome of such segregation.
In my Islamist days we relished stating that Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases were the result of the moral degeneracy of the West. Large numbers of Islamists in Britain hounded prostitutes in Brick Lane and flippantly quoted divorce and abortion rates in Britain. The implication was that Muslim morality was superior. Now, more than ever, I was convinced that this too was Islamist propaganda, designed to undermine the West and inject false confidence in Muslim minds.
I worried whether my observations were idiosyncratic, the musings of a wandering mind. I discussed my troubles with other British Muslims working at the British Council. Jamal, who was of a Wahhabi bent, fully agreed with what I observed and went further. “Ed, my wife wore the veil back home in Britain and even there she did not get as many stares as she gets when we go out here.” Another British Muslim had gone as far as tinting his car windows black in order to prevent young Saudis gaping at his wife.
The problems of Saudi Arabia were not limited to racism and sexual frustration.
In contemporary Wahhabism there are two broad factions. One is publicly supportive of the House of Saud, and will endorse any policy decision reached by the Saudi government and provide scriptural justification for it. The second believes that the House of Saud should be forcibly removed and the Wahhabi clerics take charge. Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda are from the second school.
In Mecca, Medina and Jeddah I met young men with angry faces from Europe, students at various Wahhabi seminaries. They reminded me of my extremist days.
They were candid in discussing their frustrations with Saudi Arabia. The country was not sufficiently Islamic; it had strayed from the teachings of Wahhabism. They were firmly on the side of the monarchy and the clerics who supported it. Soon they were to return to the West, well versed in Arabic, fully indoctrinated by Wahhabism, to become imams in British mosques.
By the summer of 2005 Faye and I had only eight weeks left in Saudi Arabia before we would return home to London. Thursday, July 7, was the beginning of the Saudi weekend. Faye and I were due to lunch with Sultan, a Saudi banker who was financial adviser to four government ministers. I wanted to gauge what he and his wife, Faye’s student, thought about life inside the land of their birth.
On television that morning we watched the developing story of a power cut on the London Underground. As the cameras focused on King’s Cross, Edgware Road, Aldgate and Russell Square, I looked on with a mixture of interest and homesickness. Soon the power-cut story turned into shell-shocked reportage of a series of terrorist bombings.
My initial suspicion was that the perpetrators were Saudis. My experience of them, their virulence towards my non-Muslim friends, their hate-filled textbooks, made me think that Bin Laden’s Saudi soldiers had now targeted my home town. It never crossed my mind that the rhetoric of jihad introduced to Britain by Hizb ut-Tahrir could have anything to do with such horror.
My sister avoided the suicide attack on Aldgate station by four minutes. On the previous day London had won the Olympic bid. At the British Council we had celebrated along with the nation that was now in mourning.
The G8 summit in Scotland had also been derailed by events further south. The summit, thanks largely to the combined efforts of Tony Blair and Bob Geldof, had been set to tackle poverty in Africa. Now it was forced to address Islamist terrorism; Arab grievances had hijacked the agenda again.
The fact that hundreds of children die in Africa every day would be of no relevance to a committed Islamist. In the extremist mind the plight of the tiny Palestinian nation is more important than the deaths of millions of black Africans. Let them die, they’re not Muslims, would be the unspoken line of argument. As an Islamist it was only the suffering of Muslims that had moved me. Now human suffering mattered to me, regardless of religion.
Faye and I were glued to the television for hours. Watching fellow Londoners come out of Tube stations injured and mortified, but facing the world with a defiant sense of dignity, made me feel proud to be British.
We met Sultan and his wife at an Indian restaurant near the British Council. Sultan was in his early thirties and his wife in her late twenties. They had travelled widely and seemed much more liberal than most Saudis I had met. Behind a makeshift partition, the restaurant surroundings were considered private and his wife, to my amazement, removed her veil.
We discussed our travels.
Sultan spoke fondly of his time in London, particularly his placement at Coutts as a trainee banker. We then moved on to the subject uppermost in my mind, the terrorist attacks on London. My host did not really seem to care. He expressed no real sympathy or shock, despite speaking so warmly of his time in London.
“I suppose they will say Bin Laden was behind the attacks. They blamed us for 9/11,” he said.
Keen to take him up on his comment, I asked him: “Based on your education in Saudi Arabian schools, do you think there is a connection between the form of Islam children are taught here and the action of 15 Saudi men on September 11?”
Without thinking, his immediate response was, ‘No. No, because Saudis were not behind 9/11. The plane hijackers were not Saudi men. One thousand two hundred and forty-six Jews were absent from work on that day and there is the proof that they, the Jews, were behind the killings. Not Saudis.”
It was the first time I heard so precise a number of Jewish absentees. I sat there pondering on the pan-Arab denial of the truth, a refusal to accept that the Wahhabi jihadi terrorism festering in their midst had inflicted calamities on the entire world.
In my class the following Sunday, the beginning of the Saudi working week, were nearly 60 Saudis. Only one mentioned the London bombings.
“Was your family harmed?” he asked.
“My sister missed an explosion by four minutes but otherwise they’re all fine, thank you.”
The student, before a full class, sighed and said: “There are no benefits in terrorism. Why do people kill innocents?”
Two others quickly gave him his answer in Arabic: “There are benefits. They will feel how we feel.”
I was livid. “Excuse me?” I said. “Who will know how it feels?”
“We don’t mean you, teacher,” said one. “We are talking about people in England. You are here. They need to know how Iraqis and Palestinians feel.”
“The British people have been bombed by the IRA for years,” I retorted. “Londoners were bombed by Hitler during the blitz. The largest demonstrations against the war in Iraq were in London. People in Britain don’t need to be taught what it feels like to be bombed.”
Several students nodded in agreement. The argumentative ones became quiet. Were they convinced by what I had said? It was difficult to tell.
Two weeks after the terrorist attacks in London another Saudi student raised his hand and asked: “Teacher, how can I go to London?”
“Much depends on your reason for going to Britain. Do you want to study or just be a tourist?”
“Teacher, I want to go London next month. I want bomb, big bomb in London, again. I want make jihad!”
“What?” I exclaimed. Another student raised both hands and shouted: “Me too! Me too!”
Other students applauded those who had just articulated what many of them were thinking. I was incandescent. In protest I walked out of the classroom to a chorus of jeering and catcalls.
My time in Saudi Arabia bolstered my conviction that an austere form of Islam (Wahhabism) married to a politicised Islam (Islamism) is wreaking havoc in the world. This anger-ridden ideology, an ideology I once advocated, is not only a threat to Islam and Muslims, but to the entire civilised world.
I vowed, in my own limited way, to fight those who had hijacked my faith, defamed my prophet and killed thousands of my own people: the human race. I was encouraged when Tony Blair announced on August 5, 2005, plans to proscribe an array of Islamist organisations that operated in Britain, foremost among them Hizb ut-Tahrir.
At the time I was impressed by Blair’s resolve. The Hizb should have been outlawed a decade ago and so spared many of us so much misery. Sadly the legislation was shelved last year amid fears that a ban would only add to the group’s attraction, so it remains both legal and active today. But it is not too late.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!)
on: April 23, 2007, 09:23:43 PM
Furor over author Ayaan Hirsi Ali's visit stirs debate on religious freedom
By Robin Acton
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Say what you want about your religion.
Go ahead, say anything that comes into your mind -- even if you don't agree with your minister, your priest, your rabbi. Even if you think you're right and they've got it all wrong, as long as you're not making a direct threat to someone, you can disagree or turn your back and walk away to another faith or to no faith at all.
Here, in America, it's OK. In a land of more than 3,000 diverse religions, your right to religious liberty is a guaranteed protection under the First Amendment.
"The key in the U.S. from the beginning has been to make sure all religious groups not only understand freedoms, but connect them to their own commitment," said Charles C. Haynes, senior scholar and director of educational programs at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., and Nashville.
A community debate over religious freedom surfaced in Western Pennsylvania last week when Dutch feminist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who has lived under the threat of death for denouncing her Muslim upbringing, made an appearance at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Islamic leaders tried to block the lecture, which was sponsored through an endowment from the Frank J. and Sylvia T. Pasquerilla Lecture Series. They argued that Hirsi Ali's attacks against the Muslim faith in her book, "Infidel," and movie, "Submission," are "poisonous and unjustified" and create dissension in their community.
Although university officials listened to Islamic leaders' concerns, the lecture planned last year took place Tuesday evening under tight security, with no incidents.
Imam Fouad ElBayly, president of the Johnstown Islamic Center, was among those who objected to Hirsi Ali's appearance.
"She has been identified as one who has defamed the faith. If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death," said ElBayly, who came to the U.S. from Egypt in 1976.
Hirsi Ali, an atheist, has been critical of many Muslim beliefs, particularly on subjects of sexual morality, the treatment of women and female genital mutilation. In her essay "The Caged Virgin," she also wrote of punishment, noting that "a Muslim's relationship with God is one of fear."
"Our God demands total submission. He rewards you if you follow His rules meticulously. He punishes you cruelly if you break His rules, both on earth, with illness and natural disasters, and in the hereafter, with hellfire," she wrote.
In some Muslim countries, such as Iran, apostasy -- abandoning one's religious belief -- and blasphemy are considered punishable by death under sharia, a system of laws and customs that treats both public and private life as governable by God's law.
Sharia is based largely on an interpretation of the Quran, the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, a consensus of Islamic scholars and reasoning, according to the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. In some countries, sharia has been associated with stoning to death those who are accused of adultery, flogging for drinking wine and amputation of a hand for theft.
One of the most noted cases of apostasy in recent years involved author Salman Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" offered an unflattering portrayal of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. The book prompted Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa -- a religious decree -- in 1989 calling for Rushdie's assassination.
Although ElBayly believes a death sentence is warranted for Hirsi Ali, he stressed that America is not the jurisdiction where such a crime should be punished. Instead, Hirsi Ali should be judged in a Muslim country after being given a trial, he added.
"If it is found that a person is mentally unstable, or a child or disabled, there should be no punishment," he said. "It's a very merciful religion if you try to understand it."
Zahida Chaudhary, a member of the education council and education secretary at the Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Monroeville, insisted that Islam is a peaceful religion.
"The Prophet Mohammed was a peacemaker and a role model for humanity," she said. "My understanding is that he was a peaceful person who believed that religion was a choice. He tried to teach people and bring them into it, not punish them."
Haynes, who has studied and written extensively about religious liberty and has worked with many Muslim groups, said he was "stunned" by ElBayly's comments.
"There are more radical, extreme views of Islam in European counties than in the U.S. It's rare to hear it and even more rare to learn that American Muslims believe it," he said.
While Hirsi Ali is viewed as an infidel among the Islamic community, those who speak out against other religions usually are met with discussion, prayer and counseling. In extreme cases, critics might be shown the door.
"One is free to choose whatever religion and body of truths one wants to believe," said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese. "The church fosters freedom of religion. That's a decision everyone has to make on their own."
Centuries ago, Lengwin said, the church imposed harsh punishment -- including execution -- upon people viewed as heretics. He cited as an example the Roman Inquisition trial of 15th century Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, who was tried by the church, threatened with torture and sentenced to prison for his teachings on the motions of the earth.
With the evolution of the church, things have changed.
For example, Lengwin said, the church has faced criticism from many of its own priests who have disagreed with various beliefs and practices. When that happens, there is discussion and clarification of beliefs, he said.
It doesn't always work.
"We've had people walk away and start churches of their own or join Lutheran or Presbyterian or other churches," he said. "The role of the church is to teach the truth as effectively as you can. There's no jail if you don't agree with us."
The Rev. Douglas Holben, executive presbyter for the Redstone Presbytery, which covers Westmoreland, Fayette, Somerset and Cambria counties, said the Presbyterian Church "as a community of faith would try to find a common ground" when confronted with differing opinions.
"We seek to find things to unite us," Holben said.
If faced with criticism, it's best to "find ways in which they find the church to be faithful to the Lord," he said.
Holben said the church has formed a Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity that includes people from different backgrounds and perspectives. Discussions among the group were productive, he said, adding that the members did not condemn or judge each other for their differences.
"They were able to say that even though we don't agree with your opinion, we can agree upon a common faith," he said.
Rabbi Sara Perman, leader of the Congregation Emanu-El Israel in Greensburg, explained that before the French Revolution emancipated Jews in Europe, those who spoke out against Judaism faced "cherem" or excommunication. Cherem resulted in both a spiritual and economic "death" because people who were excommunicated were unable to make a living in their community.
"Now, the reality is that if you are unsatisfied and speak out against Judaism, there isn't much we can do about it in this country," Perman said. "Within the general Jewish community, there isn't much you can do except not give them a forum or ignore them."
Haynes said the key to America's success in religious diversity is for people of all religions to understand that you "can't just tolerate" the fact that Muslims or Catholics or Protestants or Mormons or Jews have a right to be here. He said this country is a "level playing field" where everyone is free to practice their religion, but not to carry out extreme ideas that violate basic principles.
"I don't think there's anyplace on the planet with more religious diversity," Haynes said.
"This is a big challenge in 21st century America to make sure we can live with the deepest differences, and religious differences are the most difficult to navigate."
Robin Acton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We teach our kids to be passive victims, the enemy teaches their children this:
on: April 22, 2007, 10:02:22 PM
On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs - Dave Grossman
By LTC (RET) Dave Grossman, author of "On Killing."
Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always,even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? - William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:
"Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful.? For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.
"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed
Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.
But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."
Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.
Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?
Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.
Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.
There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.
Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.
Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.
There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke
Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.
If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.
For example, many officers carry their weapons in church.? They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs.? Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.
I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"
Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.
Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"
It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.
Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.
Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."
Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.
And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion
on: April 21, 2007, 04:19:14 PM
Friday, April 20, 2007
Germany: Founder Of Council Of Ex-Muslims Seeks To 'Break Taboo'
April 20, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Mina Ahadi, an Iranian-born activist living in Germany, has founded a council of former Muslims who have renounced their faith. Members of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims are immigrants from predominantly Islamic countries. Ahadi, who is now under police protection, spoke with RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari.
RFE/RL: Why did you decide to create the Council of Ex-Muslims?
Mina Ahadi: It's been 11 years now that I've lived in Germany, and the friends and I who founded the council have been critical regarding some events in this country. On the one hand, when there is talk about people who have come to Germany from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Turkey, they're all being labeled Muslims; then all of these 3 1/2 million people are put in the same bag, and Islamist organizations are being presented as being in charge of them.
People like myself, we sought asylum in Germany and we came to live here because we [opposed] political Islam and such organizations. Many of the problems here -- such as honor killings or imposing the Islamic hejab on children, or building a number of mosques here -- create divisions among people. All of these are explained to society based on the argument that Muslims have a different culture or Muslims have different ideas. All of these prompted those of us who are critical and who oppose such things to create a body that will have different policies regarding such issues.
RFE/RL: What policies are you following and what is the aim of your group?
Ahadi: We are humans, and that's our most important identity. All of the people, men and women, who have come [to Germany] from [Islamic] countries are humans. They've come to this country because of a better life, because of freedom, and because of better conditions. And they want to live with the people of this country, with Germans. They don't want to have a parallel society. They don't want again for young girls not to have the right to have a boyfriend or not have the right to participate in swimming class because their families are Muslims.
We represent a secular policy, a human policy. And we want to stand up against political Islam and against Western governments' policy of cultural relativism
RFE/RL: How many members does your group have?
Ahadi: We started with 40 people, but currently we have 400 members. For now, we want our members to be from Germany. We have received membership requests from other countries -- for example, from Egypt, Morocco, Iran, [and] Scandinavian countries. But we have not accepted foreign members yet. All our members are living in Germany, and our only principle is that those who become our members [must] be atheists and not believe in God or any religion.
RFE/RL: You've said in interviews that you aim to give a voice to Muslims who do not want to be Muslims anymore and give a different image of people from Islamic countries who live in Europe. Could you explain?
Ahadi: We want to change the existing picture that all people who have come from Islamic countries are fanatics, religious, or backwards and that their culture is very different from others. In my view, this is not an accurate portrait. People who come from these countries, regardless of whether they're Muslims or not, they're not different from other people, and they want to have a [normal] life. And we are defending their rights.
RFE/RL: As you know, renouncing Islam is considered a grave offense among some Muslims, and in some Islamic countries, including Iran, apostasy is punishable by death. Don't you think that your move and the creation of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims could create tension and provoke some Muslims?
Ahadi: I'm aware that a person who says, 'I'm not a Muslim anymore,' faces the danger of death. That's why I'm now under police protection. But I don't think it causes tensions. It is possible that some groups or organizations might issue fatwas against people who have [renounced Islam].
But I think one should not be afraid, and this taboo should be broken. Our goal is to break the taboo -- people who don't believe should have the right to say it [publicly], and no one should [be able to] harm them for that. But in some countries where Islamists are in power, this is a taboo; and we want to break this taboo.
I actually think that our movement will motivate people to express themselves and live according to their beliefs. If this movement expands and grows worldwide -- which is our goal -- then it could create a global front against political Islam and force [proponents of political Islam] to retreat. In Germany, there have been no official fatwas against us, and I see it as a retreat that we have imposed on Islamic organizations and also on the Islamic Republic of Iran.
RFE/RL: You said there have not been any fatwas against you or the other members of your group. But have you received death threats?
Ahadi: Right after we launched our campaign, quotations from my interviews were published on some websites, and it was said that "this woman should get her response," or they said that "she should be murdered." So there have been death threats against me on [some] websites and also through letters we have received. But there has been no official fatwa by mullahs or by the Islamic establishment of Iran.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Virginia Tech Shooting...
on: April 21, 2007, 03:48:44 PM
September 02, 2004, 10:15 p.m.
Follow the Leader
Israel and Thailand set an example by arming teachers.
Islamist terrorists in Beslan, Russia, are currently holding hundreds of children hostage, threatening to execute them. No one knows how this horrible situation will end; but we do know that it could have been prevented. Decades ago, Israel adopted a policy that swiftly ended terrorist attacks against schools. Earlier this year, Thailand adopted a similar approach. It is politically incorrect, but it does have the advantage of saving the lives of children and teachers. The policy? Encourage teachers to carry firearms.
Muslim extremists in Thailand’s southern provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, and Pattani have been carrying out a terrorist campaign, seeking to create an Islamic state independent of Thailand, whose population is predominantly Buddhist.
Most teachers are Buddhists, and they have been a key target of the terrorists, who have also perpetrated arsons against dozens of schools.
As reported by the Associated Press (“Thailand allows teachers in restive south to carry guns for protection”) on April 27, 2004, “Interior Minister Bhokin Bhalakula ordered provincial governors to give teachers licenses to buy guns if they want to even though it would mean bringing firearms into the classrooms when the region's 925 schools reopen May 17 after two months of summer holiday.”
The A.P. article explained: “Pairat Wihakarat, the president of a teachers’ union in the three provinces, said more than 1,700 teachers have already asked for transfers to safer areas. Those who are willing to stay want to carry guns to protect themselves, he said.”
Gun-control laws in Thailand are extremely strict, and are being tightened even more because of three school shootings (perpetrated by students) that took place in a single week in June 2003. Two students were killed.
But though Thailand’s government is extremely hostile to gun ownership in general, it has recognized that teachers ought to be able to safeguard their students and themselves.
Will Thailand’s new strategy work? It did in Israel, as David Schiller detailed in an interview with Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Schiller was born in West Germany and moved to Israel, where he served in the military as a weapons specialist. He later returned to Germany, and was hired as a counterterrorism expert by the Berlin police office, as well as by police forces of other German cities. For a while he worked in the terrorism research office of the RAND corporation, and for several years he published a German gun magazine.
Schiller recalls that Palestine Liberation Organization attacks on Israeli schools began during Passover 1974. The first attack was aimed at a school in Galilee. When the PLO terrorists found that it was closed because of Passover weekend, they murdered several people in a nearby apartment building.
Then, on May 15, 1974, in Maalot:
Three PLO gunmen, after making their way through the border fence, first shot up a van load full of workers returning from a tobacco factory (incidentally these people happened to be Galilee Arabs, not Jews), then they entered the school compound of Maalot. First they murdered the housekeeper, his wife and one of their kids, then they took a whole group of nearly 100 kids and their teachers hostage. These were staying overnight at the school, as they were on a hiking trip. In the end, the deadline ran out, and the army’s special unit assaulted the building. During the rescue attempt, the gunmen blew their explosive charges and sprayed the kids with machine-gun fire. 25 people died, 66 wounded.
Israel at the time had some strict gun laws, left over from the days of British colonialism, when the British rulers tried to prevent the Jews from owning guns.
After vigorous debate, the government began allowing army reservists to keep their weapons with them. Handgun carry permits were given to any Israeli with a clean record who lived in the most dangerous areas: Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
All over Israel, guns became pervasive in the schools:
Teachers and kindergarten nurses now started to carry guns, schools were protected by parents (and often grandpas) guarding them in voluntary shifts. No school group went on a hike or trip without armed guards. The Police involved the citizens in a voluntary civil guard project “Mishmar Esrachi,” which even had its own sniper teams. The Army’s Youth Group program, “Gadna”, trained 15 to 16-year-old kids in gun safety and guard procedures and the older high-school boys got involved with the Mishmar Esrachi. During one noted incident, the “Herzliyah Bus massacre” (March ’78, hijacking of a bus, 37 dead, 76 wounded), these youngsters were involved in the overall security measures in which the whole area between North Tel Aviv and the resort town of Herzlyiah was blocked off, manning roadblocks with the police, guarding schools kindergartens, etc.
After a while, “When the message got around to the PLO groups and a couple infiltration attempts failed, the attacks against schools ceased.”
This is not to say that Palestinian terrorists never target schools. In late May 2002, an Israeli teacher shot a suicide terrorist before he could harm anyone.
On May 31, 2002, as reported by Israel National News, a terrorist threw a grenade and began shooting at a kindergarten in Shavei Shomron. Then, instead of closing in on the children, he abruptly fled the kindergarten and began shooting up the nearby neighborhood. Apparently he realized that the kindergarten was sure to have armed adults, and that he could not stay at the school long enough to make sure he actually murdered someone.
Unfortunately for the terrorist, “David Elbaz, owner of the local mini-market, gave chase and killed him with gunshots. In addition to several grenades and the weapon the terrorist carried on him, security sweeps revealed several explosive devices that he had intended to detonate during the thwarted attack.”
People can spend months and years studying the “root causes” of terrorism, and pondering the merits of the grievances of Islamic terrorists in Malaysia, Israel, and Russia. But it’s fair to say that schoolchildren and teachers are not legitimate targets even of people who have legitimate grievances.
No one knows if civilized nations will ever eliminate the root causes of terrorism. But we do know that terrorist attacks on schools and schoolchildren could be almost completely eliminated in a very short time — if every nation at risk of terrorist attacks on schools began following the lead of Thailand and Israel.
Adults have a duty to protect children. In Beslan at this very moment, seven people are dead, and hundreds more are in deadly peril, because the teachers lacked the tools to stop the evildoers. If we are really serious about gun laws that protect “the children,” then it seems clear that — whatever other gun laws a society adopts — every civilized nation at risk of terrorist attack ought to ensure that armed teachers can protect innocent children.
— David Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute. http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel200409022215.asp
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Virginia Tech Shooting...
on: April 21, 2007, 03:23:38 PM
****This is why Colorado has such a low rate of burgs in occupied dwellings.****
18-1-704.5. Use of deadly physical force against an intruder.
(1) The general assembly hereby recognizes that the citizens of Colorado have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 18-1-704, any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, and when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed a crime in the dwelling in addition to the uninvited entry, or is committing or intends to commit a crime against a person or property in addition to the uninvited entry, and when the occupant reasonably believes that such other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant.
(3) Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including deadly physical force, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be immune from criminal prosecution for the use of such force.
(4) Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including deadly physical force, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be immune from any civil liability for injuries or death resulting from the use of such force.
Source: L. 85: Entire section added, p. 662, § 1, effective June 6.
Cross references: For limitations on civil suits against persons using physical force in defense of a person or to prevent the commission of a felony, see § 13-80-119.
Am. Jur.2d. See 6 Am. Jur.2d, Assault and Battery, §§ 64, 65, 69; 40 Am. Jur.2d, Homicide, §§ 173-176.
C.J.S. See 40 C.J.S., Homicide, §§ 100, 101, 109.
Law reviews. For article, "Self-Defense in Colorado", see 24 Colo. Law. 2717 (1995).
Prerequisite for immunity under this section is an unlawful entry into the dwelling, meaning a knowing, criminal entry. People v. McNeese, 892 P.2d 304 (Colo. 1995).
To be immune from prosecution under this section a defendant must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she had a reasonable belief that the intruder was committing or intended to commit a crime against a person or property in addition to the uninvited entry. This inquiry focuses on the reasonable belief of the occupant, not on the actual conduct of the intruder. People v. McNeese, 892 P.2d 304 (Colo. 1995).
Sufficient evidence existed to support trial court's denial of defendant's pre-trial motion to dismiss on the basis defendant had not met his burden as established by the supreme court. People v. Janes, 962 P.2d 315 (Colo. App. 1998).
Trial court is authorized to dismiss criminal prosecution at pretrial stage when conditions of statute are satisfied, and this does not infringe upon prosecution's discretion to file charges. People v. Guenther, 740 P.2d 971 (Colo. 1987); Young v. District Court, 740 P.2d 982 (Colo. 1987).
Defendant bears burden of establishing right to immunity by preponderance of evidence when issue of immunity is raised at pre-trial stage. People v. Guenther, 740 P.2d 971 (Colo. 1987); People v. Eckert, 919 P.2d 962 (Colo. App. 1996).
Fact that a homicide victim was on the defendant's porch does not permit the defendant to claim immunity from prosecution for unlawful entry to defendant's dwelling unless the court finds that defendant believed that the victim intended to commit a crime or use physical force against the defendant. People v. Young, 825 P.2d 1004 (Colo. App. 1991).
Defendant may still raise immunity as defense at trial when pretrial motion to dismiss is denied. People v. Guenther, 740 P.2d 971 (Colo. 1987).
For purposes of this section, the common areas of an apartment building do not constitute a dwelling. People v. Cushinberry, 855 P.2d 18 (Colo. App. 1993).
Where pretrial motion to dismiss on grounds of statutory immunity provided in this section is denied, defendant may raise it as an affirmative defense at trial. In such case, the burden of proof which is generally applicable to affirmative defenses would apply. People v. Malczewski, 744 P.2d 62 (Colo. 1987).
Because this section creates an immunity defense as well as an affirmative defense, and because the burden of proof for each defense is different, when raised at trial, this section poses special problems when instructing a jury. In such a case, instruction based on language from People v. McNeese, which dealt with pretrial immunity, must be put into context so as not to confuse or mislead the jury about the burden of proof with respect to an affirmative defense raised at trial. People v. Janes, 982 P.2d 300 (Colo. 1999).
Defendant did not establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he was entitled to immunity under this section where he could not show the struggle and wounding of the victim took place in defendant's bedroom of the house he shared with the victim. People v. Eckert, 919 P.2d 962 (Colo. App. 1996).
Trial court did not commit reversible error by refusing to instruct the jury that it need only determine whether the victim made an unlawful entry into a part of a dwelling that was occupied by defendant, as defendant failed to show that the bedroom was exclusively his province and that the victim's entry into the bedroom was unlawful. People v. Eckert, 919 P.2d 962 (Colo. App. 1996).
Instruction requiring jury to find that defendant had a reasonable belief that victim "had committed" a crime and omitting "was committing or intended to commit" a crime was erroneous but did not constitute plain error. There was no evidence that the victim's entry into defendant's house was unlawful and, therefore, no basis on which a reasonable jury could have otherwise acquitted defendant under this section. People v. Phillips, 91 P.3d 476 (Colo. App. 2004).
Trial court erred in interpreting subsection (2) as including the concept of "remain lawfully" within the statutory phrase "unlawful entry". Defendant failed to establish the legal elements of this section to bar prosecution where the victim was initially invited into defendant's residence and, after arguing, was later asked to leave. People v. Drennon, 860 P.2d 589 (Colo. App. 1993).
The reference to "uninvited entry" in subsection (2) refers back to the term "unlawful entry" used in the same subsection. People v. McNeese, 892 P.2d 304 (Colo. 1995).
Victim's entry was unlawful and uninvited for the purposes of statute providing immunity for use of force where wife of murder victim did not have authority to invite the decedent into defendant's apartment and was staying with the defendant on the condition that she not invite the victim into defendant's apartment. People v. McNeese, 865 P.2d 881 (Colo. App. 1993).
When this section is being used as an affirmative defense, it is error for a jury instruction to place the burden on the defendant to prove the affirmative defense. People v. Janes, 962 P.2d 315 (Colo. App. 1998).
Applied in People v. Arellano, 743 P.2d 431 (Colo. 1987).
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Virginia Tech Shooting...
on: April 21, 2007, 03:09:03 PM
****Continued from above****
A much more limited study about home invasion burglaries has achieved more notoriety than the national study discussed above. An article by Arthur Kellermann examined police reports of burglaries in Atlanta. [FN36] Out of 198 burglaries, Kellermann found only three cases in which the homeowner used a gun against the burglar, according to the police report. From this finding, Kellermann concluded that defensive gun use against burglars was rare. [FN37]
Unfortunately, Kellermann's study could not have been better designed to produce a gross undercount. Kellermann relied on burglary report forms compiled by the Atlanta police. Those report forms, however, do not include any field for the police officer to report defensive gun use by the victim. Furthermore, Atlanta police officers are not trained to solicit information about defensive gun use from the victims. [FN38] Thus, the only time that a defensive gun use ("DGU") would be recorded on the offense report would be when an officer spontaneously decided to record it on the free-form section of the burglary offense report. In other words, *351 Kellermann used a data set (burglary offense reports) that was not designed to record DGUs, and on the basis of this data set he concluded that DGUs were rare.
Besides the obvious inadequacy of the burglary offense reports, the Kellermann study was further flawed by its failure to account for the large number of cases in which a burglary victim scares away a burglar but does not report the incident. Less than half of all burglaries are reported to the police. [FN39] From the average homeowner's viewpoint, there would be little to gain in making such a report. While society as a whole might gain something from the report, the homeowner personally would not; the burglar, while still at large, would presumably focus on other homes not known to contain an armed occupant. By making the report, the citizen might perceive that he would take some risk of being charged with an offense (especially if he fired at the burglar) or of having his firearm confiscated. This perception might be particularly strong in Atlanta, where the Mayor and his police chiefs are well known as advocates of strict gun control. [FN40] Even when reporting a burglary, a citizen might choose not to disclose his use of a firearm.
The 1994 national CDC survey, discussed above, avoided all of these problems. [FN41] By making phone calls to a national random sample, the CDC study had a better chance of receiving information from burglary victims who chose not to call the police. Because the burglary victims were talking to a pollster, rather than to a police officer from a notoriously anti-gun administration, the victims would be more likely to acknowledge defensive gun use. And because the CDC pollsters (unlike the Atlanta police) were actually asking all burglary victims about DGUs in burglaries, [FN42] the pollsters were much more likely to find out about DGUs. Accordingly, the CDC study's figure, approximately a half-million annual confrontations between armed citizens and home invasion burglars, is plausible (although perhaps low), while Kellermann's assertion that such incidents hardly ever occur is not.
The most thorough survey of citizen defensive gun use in general (not just in burglaries) found that in well over ninety percent of incidents, a shot is never fired; the mere display of the gun suffices to end the confrontation. [FN43] The CDC study did not specifically ask whether a gun was fired. [FN44] Accordingly, it is reasonable to infer that burglary DGU is similar to DGU in general, and that most incidents end with the burglar fleeing at the sight of the armed victim, rather than the victim shooting at the burglar.
B. Risks to Burglars From the Judicial System
Only 13 percent of burglaries are ever cleared by an arrest. [FN45] (This means that in 13 of 100 burglaries, someone identified as the burglar is eventually arrested. One arrest can "clear" dozens of burglaries. [FN46]) Many arrests, of course, do not lead to felony convictions. Of the felony convictions for burglary, [FN47] fifty-two percent lead to a prison sentence, twenty-three percent to jail time, and twenty-five percent to probation. [FN48] The median sentences are forty-eight months for prison, five months for jail, and thirty-six months for probation. [FN49]
On the whole, state prisoners serve about thirty-five percent of the time to which they are actually sentenced. [FN50] The above figures represent felony convictions. Misdemeanor convictions resulting from a burglary result in significantly shorter sentences. Given the criminal justice system's focus on violent crimes and on drug crimes, burglary has become a relatively low priority. [FN51]
IV. Target Selection by Burglars
A. General Principles of Target Selection
Scholars have long agreed that the physical characteristics of a potential target have an important effect on its likelihood of being victimized. For example, Oscar Newman's book Defensible Space looked at the importance of architectural design, emphasizing that good architectural design would help to create "strongly defined areas of influence" that would intimidate potential predators. [FN52] In Residential Crime, Thomas Reppetto linked home burglary to a target's ease of access and visibility to surveillance. [FN53]
Increasing attention to the victims of crime has led criminologists to find that certain lifestyle choices can influence the risk of being victimized. [FN54] Among important lifestyle choices are whether the potential victim's routine activities offer "guardianship" of possible criminal targets. [FN55] For example, apartments with doormen have lower burglary rates. [FN56] All this supports the common-sense conclusion that burglary rates will be higher, other things being equal, where the opportunities to perpetrate a successful burglary are higher.
Thus, as the percentage of working women in the population has increased, leaving more homes unguarded during the daytime, the percentage of daytime burglaries has also increased. [FN57] According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, between twenty-one percent and twenty-three percent of American burglaries involve an entry into a residence at night. [FN58]
B. Advance Planning by Burglars
American burglars tend to "work" at hours when persons are unlikely to be in the home. [FN59] Consistent with the desire to avoid a personal confrontation, burglars prefer houses, such as those on corners, where the risks of being observed by a neighbor are reduced. [FN60] Two hours are spent on the average suburban burglary; most of that time is spent "casing the joint" to ensure that no one is home.
One burglar told of watching a particular house and noting that the occupants all went to church for four to five hours on Sunday morning. [FN61] Another explained, "You just knock on the door to see if they're there. You bang, you *354 bang, you look through windows, nobody's in bed. I mean, you gotta make sure they're not home, make sure they're not home." [FN62]
C. In Homes and on the Street
Rengert and Wasilchick's book about how burglars work reveals that fear of armed homeowners played a major role in determining burglary targets. Burglars reported that they avoided late-night burglaries because, "That's the way to get shot." [FN63] Some burglars said that they shun burglaries in neighborhoods with people of mostly a different race because, "You'll get shot if you're caught there." [FN64]
The most thorough study of burglary patterns was a St. Louis survey of 105 currently active burglars. [FN65] The authors observed, "One of the most serious risks faced by residential burglars is the possibility of being injured or killed by occupants of a target. Many of the offenders we spoke to reported that this was far and away their greatest fear." [FN66] Said one burglar: "I don't think about gettin' caught, I think about gettin' gunned down, shot or somethin'...'cause you get into some people's houses...quick as I come in there, boom, they hit you right there. That's what I think about."
Another burglar explained:
Hey, wouldn't you blow somebody away if someone broke into your house and you don't know them? You hear this noise and they come breakin' in the window tryin' to get into your house, they gon' want to kill you anyway. See, with the police, they gon' say, "Come out with your hands up and don't do nothing foolish!" Okay, you still alive, but you goin' to jail. But you alive. You sneak into somebody's house and they wait til you get in the house and then they shoot you.. . .See what I'm sayin'? You can't explain nothin' to nobody; you layin' down in there dead! [FN67]
In contrast, Missouri is one of only nine states which has no provision for citizens to be issued permits to carry handguns for protection. Thus, a criminal in St. Louis faces a very high risk that the target of a home invasion may have a lawful gun for protection, but minimal risk that the target of a street robbery will have a lawful firearm for defense. The same authors who studied active St. Louis burglars conducted another study of active St. Louis armed robbers. [FN68] They found that "
ome of the offenders who favored armed robbery over other crimes *355 maintained that the offense was also safer than burglary. . .." [FN69] As one armed robber put it: "My style is, like, don't have to be up in nobody's house in case they come in; they might have a pistol in the house or something." [FN70]
On the streets, many of the St. Louis robbers "routinely targeted law-abiding citizens," [FN71] who, unlike their counterparts in most American states, were certain not to be carrying a gun for protection. Law-abiding citizens were chosen as robbery victims because, as one robber noted, "You don't want to pick somebody dangerous; they might have a gun themselves." [FN72]
In addition to the St. Louis study, the Wright-Rossi National Institute of Justice surveyed felony prisoners in eleven state prison systems on the impact of victim firearms on burglar behavior. [FN73] In that survey, seventy-four percent of the convicts who had committed a burglary or violent crime agreed, "One reason burglars avoid houses when people are at home is that they fear being shot." [FN74]
Surveys of prisoners may not be entirely representative of criminals as a whole, since prisoners comprise the subset of criminals who were caught and sentenced to prison. [FN75] Thus, non-prisoner criminals might be more "successful," perhaps because they are more skillful, more risk averse, or are in some other way better at burglarizing. To the extent that prisoner bias would influence the results of the burglary question, it might be expected that non-prisoner burglars would be even more averse than imprisoned burglars to occupied-residence burglaries. After all, criminals who are not prisoners stay out of prison by avoiding unnecessary risks.
Fortifying the widespread presence of home defense firearms in the United States is a legal culture which strongly supports armed home defense. Colorado, for example, specifically immunizes the use of deadly force against violent home intruders from criminal and civil liability, regardless of whether lesser force would suffice. [FN76]
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Virginia Tech Shooting...
on: April 21, 2007, 03:07:48 PM
LAWYERS, GUNS, AND BURGLARS
David B. Kopel [FNa1]
Copyright © 2001 Arizona Board of Regents; David B. Kopel
So we drove down the road, and I was lookin' for a house that looked like if there was somebody at home that it'd be somebody that didn't carry a gun or didn't have no weapons in the house, so they couldn't use them.
-- Arkansas burglar [FN1]
In recent years, litigators have begun to displace legislators as American lawmakers. Recently, more than two dozen cities and counties, under the coordination of an anti-gun organization, have filed suits against handgun manufacturers. [FN2]
While the effect of these suits may be to impose de facto handgun prohibition by driving manufacturers out of business, or by making handguns affordable only to the wealthy, these suits claim that handgun manufacturers should be held accountable for the externalities imposed by their products. For example, since city government hospitals spend money treating the victims of *346 gunshot wounds, it is argued that handgun manufacturers should be forced to reimburse city governments. [FN3]
The handgun suits are not unique; they are the latest manifestation of a growing trend to have litigators and courts decide complex questions of social policy which had previously been reserved to the legislature. Alcohol, prescription drugs, high-fat foods, and automobiles have all been discussed as potential future lawsuit targets if the handgun cases succeed. The handgun cases, it should be noted, are partly funded with the plaintiffs attorneys' winnings from the tobacco cases. [FN4]
This Article analyzes one specific reason why courts are ill-suited to exercise legislative functions, as the handgun suits and similar cases ask the courts to do: courts cannot properly assess the true socioeconomic costs and benefits of controversial products. To illustrate the point, this Article looks in detail at a very large positive externality which is overlooked in the handgun suits: the major role that widespread gun ownership plays in reducing the rate of home invasion burglaries (a.k.a "hot burglaries"). Because potential burglars cannot tell which homes possess guns, most burglars choose to avoid entry into any occupied home, for fear of getting shot. [FN5] The entry pattern of American burglars contrasts sharply with that of burglars in other nations; in Canada and Great Britain, burglars prefer to find the residents at home, since alarms will be turned off, and wallets and purses will be available for the taking. [FN6]
Consequently, American homes which do not have guns enjoy significant "free rider" benefits. Gun owners bear financial and other burdens of gun ownership; but gun-free and gun-owning homes enjoy exactly the same general burglary deterrence effects from widespread American gun ownership. This positive externality of gun ownership is difficult to account for in a litigation context (since the quantity and cost of deterred crime is difficult to measure), and may even go unnoticed by court--since the free rider beneficiaries (non-gun owners) are not represented before the court. [FN7]
Part International Comparisons of this Article looks at the differences between the behavior of American burglars and their cousins in other nations. Part Risks to American Burglars specifies the risks that American burglars face from various deterrents, including armed victims. Part Target Selection by Burglars details how burglars choose targets, while empirical data about burglary deterrence are analyzed in Part Real-world Tests of the Deterrence Model. Part Confrontations Involving Burglars looks at what happens during confrontations between burglars and victims. Part Guns Compared to Other Anti- Burglary Devices compares and contrasts defensive firearms ownership with other anti-burglary strategies, such as guard dogs. Policy implications and network effects of firearms ownership are explored in Part Policy Implications.
II. International Comparisons
It is axiomatic in the United States that burglars avoid occupied homes. As an introductory criminology textbook explains, "Burglars do not want contact with occupants; they depend on stealth for success." [FN8] Only thirteen percent of U.S. residential burglaries are attempted against occupied homes. [FN9] But this happy fact of life, so taken for granted in the United States, is not universal.
The overall Canadian burglary rate is higher than the American one, and a Canadian burglary is four times more likely to take place when the victims are home. [FN10]
In Toronto, forty-four percent of burglaries were against occupied homes, and twenty-one percent involved a confrontation with the victim. [FN11] Most Canadian residential burglaries occur at night, while American burglars are known to prefer daytime entry to reduce the risk of an armed confrontation. [FN12]
Research by the federal government's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that, based on 1994 data, American youths 10 to 17 years old had much higher arrest rates than Canadian youths for every category of violent and property crime. The lone exception was burglary, for which Canadian youths were one-third more likely to be involved. [FN13] In cities such as Vancouver, home invasion burglaries aimed at elderly people have become endemic, and murders of the elderly during those burglaries all too frequent. [FN14] Unfortunately, help from the government is not always available. In Quebec, the provincial police (Sureté du Québec) are under orders from their commander to reduce arrests for burglary, because the jails are full. [FN15]
A 1982 British survey found fifty-nine percent of attempted burglaries involved an occupied home. [FN16] The Wall Street Journal reported:
Compared with London, New York is downright safe in one category: burglary. In London, where many homes have been burglarized half a dozen times, and where psychologists specialize in treating children traumatized by such thefts, the rate is nearly twice as high as in the Big Apple. And burglars here increasingly prefer striking when occupants are home, since alarms and locks tend to be disengaged and intruders have little to fear from unarmed residents. [FN17]
In Britain, seventy-seven percent of the population was afraid of burglary in 1994, compared to sixty percent in 1987. [FN18] The London Sunday Times, pointing to Britain's soaring burglary rate, calls Britain "a nation of thieves." [FN19] In the Netherlands, forty-eight percent of residential burglaries involved an occupied home. [FN20] In the Republic of Ireland, criminologists report that burglars have little reluctance about attacking an occupied residence. [FN21]
Of course, differences in crime-reporting and crime-recording behavior between nations limit the precision of comparative criminal data. Nevertheless, the difference in home invasion burglary rates between the United States and other nations is so large that it is unlikely to be a mere artifact of crime data quirks. [FN22]
Why should American criminals display such a curious reluctance to perpetrate burglaries, particularly against occupied residences? The answer cannot be that the American criminal justice system is so much tougher than the systems in other nations. During the 1980s, the probability of arrest and the severity of sentences for ordinary crimes in Canada and Great Britain were at least as great as in the United States. [FN23] Could the answer be that American criminals are afraid of getting shot? The introductory American criminology textbook states, "Opportunities for burglary occur only when a dwelling is unguarded." [FN24] Why is an axiomatic statement about American burglars so manifestly not true for burglars in other countries.
III. Risks to American Burglars
A. Risks to Burglars from Victims
One out of thirty-one burglars has been shot during a burglary. [FN25] On the whole, when an American burglar strikes at an occupied residence, his chance of being shot is about equal to his chance of being sent to prison. [FN26] If we assume that the risk of prison provides some deterrence to burglary, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the equally large risk of being shot provides an equally large deterrent. In other words, private individuals with firearms in their homes double the deterrent effect that would exist if government-imposed punishment were the only deterrent.
How frequently are firearms actually used in burglary situations? The only comprehensive study of the subject was undertaken by five researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"). [FN27] Although some CDC studies on firearms have been criticized for obvious technical errors and bias, [FN28] this particular study simply reported the facts as the researchers found them. In 1994, random-digit-dialing phone calls were made throughout the United States, resulting in 5,238 interviews. [FN29] The interviewees were asked about use of a firearm in a burglary situation during the last twelve months.
Thirty-four percent of the interviewees admitted to owning a firearm. This figure is low compared to dozens of other national studies of household firearms ownership. [FN30] Perhaps the telephone interviewers encountered an especially high number of people who were unwilling to disclose their ownership of a gun (and would therefore be unwilling to disclose, later in the interview, their use of that gun). [FN31] Thus, the burglary researchers are more likely to have underestimated anti-burglar firearms use than to have over-estimated it.
The researchers found that six percent of the sample population had used a firearm in a burglary situation in the last twelve months. [FN32] Extrapolating the polling sample to the national population, the researchers estimated that in the last twelve months, there were approximately 1,896,842 incidents in which a householder retrieved a firearm but did not see an intruder. [FN33] There were an estimated 503,481 incidents in which the armed householder did see the burglar, [FN34] and 497,646 incidents in which the burglar was scared away by the firearm. [FN35] In other words, half a million times every year, burglars were likely forced to flee a home because they encountered an armed victim.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion
on: April 21, 2007, 11:45:03 AM
April 20, 2007
An Apology for Koranic Antisemitism?
By Andrew G. Bostom
Two months after the mass murdering acts of jihad terrorism on 9/11/01, Dr. Walid Fataihi, director of "outreach" for the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), who still serves on the ISB Board of Directors, boasted that this carnage engendered two related "successes" -enhanced Muslim proselytization efforts, and damage to Christian-Jewish relations in the U.S.
"...the Muslim community in the U.S. in general, and in Boston in particular, has begun to trouble the Zionist lobby."
He continued triumphantly, quoting the Koran (3:112/ 2:61 (see also this).
The words of the Koran on this matter are true: "They [the Jews] will be humiliated wherever they are found, unless they are protected under a covenant with Allah, or a covenant with another people. They [the Jews] have incurred Allah's wrath and they have been afflicted with misery. That is because they continuously rejected the Signs of Allah and were after slaying the Prophets without just cause, and this resulted from their disobedience and their habit of transgression." The great Allah spoke words of truth. Their covenant with America is the strongest possible in the U.S., but it is weaker than they think, and one day their covenant with the [American] people will be cut off.
During a private meeting with some 25 lay and religious leaders convened at the Workmen's Circle in Brookline, Massachusetts on April 6, 2007-nearly 5 ½ years later-Fitaihi was reported to have offered a belated apology for his November 11, 2001 remarks. The dubious sincerity of this putative act of contrition aside-it occurred as the ISB is embroiled in a bitter and debilitating legal dispute with members of the local Jewish community-did Fitaihi actually apologize for invoking Koran 3:112/2:61, and their virulently antisemitic contents?
As a central anti-Jewish motif, the Koran decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews (Koran 2:61/ 3:112) for slaying the prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah. This motif is coupled to Koranic verses 5:60 and 5:78 which describe the Jews transformation into apes and swine (5:60), having been "...cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary's son" (5:78). The related verse, 5:64, accuses the Jews-as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did in a January 2007 speech, citing Koran 5:64-of being "spreaders of war and corruption", a sort of ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
From the advent of Islam, dehumanizing Jews as apes (Koran 2:65/7:166), or apes and pigs (Koran 5:60) transcended any mere application to "Sabbath breakers." Muhammad himself, in both the sira (early, sacralized Muslim biographies) of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Sa‘d, referred to the Medinan Jews of the Banu Qurayza as "apes" just before orchestrating the slaughter of all their post-pubertal men.
This sacralized massacre is the prototype. Large scale massacres of Jews by Muslims occurred in Granada (circa 1066; 4000 killed, and Jewish society destroyed; more Jews killed in this one pogrom than in the Crusaders' much more infamous ravages through the Rhineland 30 years later); Baghdad (1290/91; hundreds killed with pogroms extending throughout Iraq, and into Persia); and the southern Moroccan oasis town of Touat (~ 1490; many Jews killed, and their Temple destroyed).
Each of these massacres was incited and/or celebrated by depictions of Jews as apes in verses by popular clerics-in the case of Touat, the "composer" of such a verse al-Maghili (d. 1505), an important Muslim theologian whose writings influenced Moroccan religious attitudes towards Jews into the 20th century-led the pogrom himself. Maghili also declared in verse, "Love of the Prophet, requires hatred of the Jews."
The centrality of the Jews' permanent "abasement and humiliation," and being "laden with God's anger" in the corpus of Muslim exegetic literature on Koran 2:61 (including the hadith and Koranic commentaries), is clear. By nature deceitful and treacherous, the Jews rejected Allah's signs and prophets, including Isa, the Muslim Jesus. Classical Koranic commentators such as Tabari (d. 923), Zamakshari (d. 1143), Baydawi (d. 1316), and Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), when discussing Koran 5:82 ("Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews and the idolaters; and thou wilt surely find the nearest of them in love to the believers are those who say 'We are Christians'; that, because some of them are priests and monks, and they wax not proud."), concur on the unique animus of the Jews towards the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked to the curse of Koran 2:61. For example, in his commentary on 5:82, Tabari writes,
In my opinion, [the Christians] are not like the Jews who always scheme in order to murder the emissaries and the prophets, and who oppose God in his positive and negative commandments, and who corrupt His scripture which He revealed in His books.
Tabari's classical interpretations of Koran 5:82 and 2:61, as well as his discussion of the related verse 9:29 mandating the Jews payment of the jizya (Koranic poll-tax), represent both Antisemitic and more general anti-dhimmi views that became, and remain, intrinsic to Islam to this day. Here is Tabari's discussion of 2:61 and its relationship to verse 9:29, which emphasizes the purposely debasing nature of the Koranic poll tax:
..."abasement and poverty were imposed and laid down upon them", as when someone says "the imam imposed the poll tax (jizya)on free non-Muslim subjects", or "The man imposed land tax on his slave", meaning thereby that he obliged him [to pay ] it, or, "The commander imposed a sortie on his troops", meaning he made it their duty....God commanded His believing servants not to give them [i.e., the non-Muslim people of the scripture] security-as long as they continued to disbelieve in Him and his Messenger-unless they paid the poll tax to them; God said: "Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden-such men as practice not the religion of truth [Islam], being of those who have been given the Book [Bible]-until they pay the poll tax, being humble" (Koran 9:29).. The dhimmis [non-Muslim tributary's] posture during the collection of the jizya- "[lowering themselves] by walking on their hand, ...reluctantly
...Ibn Zaid said about His words "and abasement and poverty were imposed upon them", ‘These are the Jews of the Children of Israel'. I said: ‘Are they the Copts of Egypt?' He said: "What have the Copts of Egypt to do with this? No, by God, they are not; but they are the Jews, the Children of Israel....By "and slain the prophets unrightfully" He means that they used to kill the Messengers of God without God's leave, denying their messages and rejecting their prophethood.
Indeed the Koran's overall discussion of the Jews is marked by a litany of their sins and punishments, as if part of a divine indictment and conviction process. The Jews wronged themselves (16:118) by losing faith (7:168) and breaking their covenant (5:13). The Jews (echoing an ante-Nicaean, Marcionite polemic) are a nation that has passed away (2:134; repeated in 2:141). Twice Allah sent his instruments (the Assyrians/or Babylonians, and Romans) to punish this perverse people (17:4-5)-their dispersal over the earth is proof of Allah's rejection (7:168).
The Jews are further warned about both their arrogant claim that they remain Allah's chosen people (62:6), and continued disobedience and "corruption" (5:32-33) Other sins, some repeated, are enumerated: abuse, even killing of prophets (4:155; 2:91), including Isa [Jesus] (3:55; 4:157), is a consistent theme. The Jews ridiculed Muhammad as Ra'ina (the evil one, in 2:104; 4:46), and they are also accused of lack of faith, taking words out of context, disobedience, and distortion (4:46). Precious few of them are believers (also 4:46). These "perverse" creatures also claim that Ezra is the messiah and they worship rabbis who defraud men of their possessions (9:30).
Additional sins are described: the Jews are typified as an "envious" people (2:109), whose hearts are as hardened as rocks (2:74). They are further accused of confounding the truth (2:42), deliberately perverting scripture (2:75), and being liars (2:78). Ill-informed people of little faith (2:89), they pursue vague and wishful fancies (2:111). Other sins have contributed to their being stamped (see 2:61/ 3:112 above) with "wretchedness/abasement and humiliation," including-usury (2:275), sorcery (2:102), hedonism (2:96), and idol worship (2:53).
More (and repeat) sins, are described still: the Jews' idol worship is again mentioned (4:51), then linked and followed by charges of other (often repeat) iniquities-the "tremendous calumny" against Mary (4:156), as well as usury and cheating (4:161). Most Jews are accused of being "evil-livers" /"transgressors" /"ungodly" (3:110), who, deceived by their own lies (3:24), try to turn Muslims from Islam (3:99). Jews are blind and deaf to the truth (5:71), and what they have not forgotten they have perverted-they mislead (3:69), confound the truth (3:71), twist tongues (3:79), and cheat Gentiles without remorse (3:75).
Muslims are advised not to take the Jews as friends (5:51), and to beware of the inveterate hatred that Jews bear towards them (5:82). The Jews' ultimate sin and punishment are made clear: they are the devil's minions (4:60) cursed by Allah, their faces will be obliterated (4:47), and if they do not accept the true faith of Islam-the Jews who understand their faith become Muslims (3:113)-they will be made into apes (2:65/ 7:166), or apes and swine (5:60), and burn in the Hellfires (4:55, 5:29, 98:6, and 58:14-19).
The essential nature of the Koranic "revelation", as understood by Muslims, was elaborated in 1891 by Theodore Nöldeke (whose seminal 1860 Geschichte des Qorans remains a vital tool for Koranic research):
To the faith of the Muslims...the Koran is the word of God, and such also is the claim which the book itself advances...
And to this day, for the Muslim masses, as Ibn Warraq notes,
...the Koran remains the infallible word of God, the immediate word of God sent down, through the intermediary of a "spirit" or "holy spirit" or Gabriel, to Muhammad in perfect, pure Arabic; and every thing contained therein is eternal and uncreated. The original text is in heaven...The angel dictated the revelation to the Prophet, who repeated it after him, and then revealed it to the world. Modern Muslims also claim that these revelations have been preserved exactly as revealed to Muhammad, without any change, addition, or loss whatsoever...the Koran remains for all Muslims, and not just "fundamentalists" the uncreated word of God Himself. It is valid for all times and places; its ideals are, according to all Muslims, absolutely true and beyond any criticism. [emphasis added]
Thus it strains credibility to assume that Dr. Fitaihi-a pious Muslim actively engaged in politicized da'wa-would have apologized for his invocation of antisemitic motifs from the Koran, the Jews' traits as characterized therein being deemed both infallible and timeless. Equally important and related concerns were raised by Boston area blogger Solomonia, who observed,
We don't have any wording from the "apology," nor do we know who, exactly, was at the meeting. How do we measure this? Fitaihi jetted into town, then just as quickly jetted out after facing what looks like a friendly audience and no serious or skeptical questioning-a group who then...surprise...pronounce him absolved.
The Fitaihi affair-a depressing web of deceit, denial, and delusion-epitomizes the sorry state of public understanding of Islamic antisemitism, most ominously, by its victims.
Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (2005), and the forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism (2007), which can be previewed here.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: April 20, 2007, 09:12:14 PM
4/13/2007 Clip No. 1426
Acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Sheik Ahmad Bahr from Hamas, Declared during a Friday Sermon at a Sudan Mosque that America and Israel Will Be Annihilated and Called upon Allah to Kill the Jews and the Americans "to the Very Last One"
Following are excerpts from a sermon delivered by Ahmad Bahr, acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, which aired on Sudan TV on April 13, 2007.
Ahmad Bahr: "You will be victorious" on the face of this planet. You are the masters of the world on the face of this planet. Yes, [the Koran says that] "you will be victorious," but only "if you are believers." Allah willing, "you will be victorious," while America and Israel will be annihilated, Allah willing. I guarantee you that the power of belief and faith is greater than the power of America and Israel. They are cowards, as is said in the Book of Allah: "You shall find them the people most eager to protect their lives." They are cowards, who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah. That is why America's nose was rubbed in the mud in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, and everywhere.
America will be annihilated, while Islam will remain. The Muslims "will be victorious, if you are believers." Oh Muslims, I guarantee you that the power of Allah is greater than America, by whom many are blinded today. Some people are blinded by the power of America. We say to them that with the might of Allah, with the might of His Messenger, and with the power of Allah, we are stronger than America and Israel.
I tell you that we will protect the enterprise of the resistance, because the Zionist enemy understands on the language of force. It does not recognize peace or the agreements. It does not recognize anything, and it understands only the language of force. Our Jihad-fighting Palestinian people salutes its brother, Sudan.
The Palestinian woman bids her son farewell, and says to him: "Son, go and don't be a coward. Go, and fight the Jews." He bids her farewell and carries out a martyrdom operation. What did this Palestinian woman say when she was asked for her opinion, after the martyrdom of her son? She said: "My son is my own flesh and blood. I love my son, but my love for Allah and His Messenger is greater than my love for my son." Yes, this is the message of the Palestinian woman, who was over seventy years old – Fatima Al-Najjar. She was over seventy years old, but she blew herself up for the sake of Allah, bringing down many criminal Zionists.
Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, vanquish the Americans and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one. Oh Allah, show them a day of darkness. Oh Allah, who sent down His Book, the mover of the clouds, who defeated the enemies of the Prophet – defeat the Jews and the Americans, and bring us victory over them.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People
on: April 20, 2007, 07:37:30 PM
****And now the spineless coward....I mean anti-gun point of view****
Plate: Let's lay down our right to bear arms
POSTED: 3:31 p.m. EDT, April 20, 2007
By Tom Plate
Special to CNN
Adjust font size:
Editor's note: Tom Plate, former editor of the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times, is a professor of communication and policy studies at UCLA. He is author of a new book, "Confessions of an American Media Man."
Read an opposing take on gun control from Ted Nugent: Gun-free zones are recipe for disaster
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Most days, it is not at all hard to feel proud to be an American. But on days such as this, it is very difficult.
The pain that the parents of the slain students feel hits deep into everyone's hearts. At the University of California, Los Angeles, students are talking about little else. It is not that they feel especially vulnerable because they are students at a major university, as is Virginia Tech, but because they are (to be blunt) citizens of High Noon America.
"High Noon" is a famous film. The 1952 Western told the story of a town marshal (played by the superstar actor Gary Cooper) who is forced to eliminate a gang of killers by himself. They are eventually gunned down.
The use of guns is often the American technique of choice for all kinds of conflict resolution. Our famous Constitution, about which many of us are generally so proud, enshrines -- along with the right to freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly -- the right to own guns. That's an apples and oranges list if there ever was one.
Not all of us are so proud and triumphant about the gun-guarantee clause. The right to free speech, press, religion and assembly and so on seem to be working well, but the gun part, not so much.
Let me explain. Some misguided people will focus on the fact that the 23-year-old student who killed his classmates and others at Virginia Tech was ethnically Korean. This is one of those observations that's 99.99 percent irrelevant. What are we to make of the fact that he is Korean? Ban Ki-moon is also Korean! Our brilliant new United Nations secretary general has not only never fired a gun, it looks like he may have just put together a peace formula for civil war-wracked Sudan -- a formula that escaped his predecessor.
So let's just disregard all the hoopla about the race of the student responsible for the slayings. These students were not killed by a Korean, they were killed by a 9 mm handgun and a .22-caliber handgun.
In the nineties, the Los Angeles Times courageously endorsed an all-but-complete ban on privately owned guns, in an effort to greatly reduce their availability. By the time the series of editorials had concluded, the newspaper had received more angry letters and fiery faxes from the well-armed U.S. gun lobby than on any other issue during my privileged six-year tenure as the newspaper's editorial page editor.
But the paper, by the way, also received more supportive letters than on any other issue about which it editorialized during that era. The common sense of ordinary citizens told them that whatever Americans were and are good for, carrying around guns like costume jewelry was not on our Mature List of Notable Cultural Accomplishments.
"Guns don't kill people," goes the gun lobby's absurd mantra. Far fewer guns in America would logically result in far fewer deaths from people pulling the trigger. The probability of the Virginia Tech gun massacre happening would have been greatly reduced if guns weren't so easily available to ordinary citizens.
Foreigners sometimes believe that celebrities in America are more often the targets of gun violence than the rest of us. Not true. Celebrity shootings just make better news stories, so perhaps they seem common. They're not. All of us are targets because with so many guns swishing around our culture, no one is immune -- not even us non-celebrities.
When the great pop composer and legendary member of the Beatles John Lennon was shot in 1980 in New York, many in the foreign press tabbed it a war on celebrities. Now, some in the media will declare a war on students or some-such. This is all misplaced. The correct target of our concern needs to be guns. America has more than it can possibly handle. How many can our society handle? My opinion is: as close to zero as possible.
Last month, I was robbed at 10 in the evening in the alley behind my home. As I was carrying groceries inside, a man with a gun approached me where my car was parked. The gun he carried featured one of those red-dot laser beams, which he pointed right at my head.
Because I'm anything but a James Bond type, I quickly complied with all of his requests. Perhaps because of my rapid response (it is called surrender), he chose not to shoot me; but he just as easily could have. What was to stop him?
This occurred in Beverly Hills, a low-crime area dotted with upscale boutiques, restaurants and businesses -- a city best known perhaps for its glamour and celebrity sightings.
Oh, and police tell me the armed robber definitely was not Korean. Not that I would have known one way or the other: Basically the only thing I saw or can remember was the gun, with the red dot, pointed right at my head.
A near-death experience does focus the mind. We need to get rid of our guns.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People
on: April 20, 2007, 07:31:00 PM
Nugent: Gun-free zones are recipe for disaster
POSTED: 5:26 p.m. EDT, April 20, 2007
More on CNN TV: Ted Nugent participates in a roundtable discussion on gun control tonight on "Glenn Beck," Headline Prime, 7 p.m. ET.
By Ted Nugent
Special to CNN
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Editor's note: Rock guitarist Ted Nugent has sold more than 30 million albums. He's also a gun rights activist and serves on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association. His program, "Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild," can be seen on the Outdoor Channel.
Read an opposing take on gun control from journalist Tom Plate: Let's lay down our right to bear arms
WACO, Texas (CNN) -- Zero tolerance, huh? Gun-free zones, huh? Try this on for size: Columbine gun-free zone, New York City pizza shop gun-free zone, Luby's Cafeteria gun-free zone, Amish school in Pennsylvania gun-free zone and now Virginia Tech gun-free zone.
Anybody see what the evil Brady Campaign and other anti-gun cults have created? I personally have zero tolerance for evil and denial. And America had best wake up real fast that the brain-dead celebration of unarmed helplessness will get you killed every time, and I've about had enough of it.
Nearly a decade ago, a Springfield, Oregon, high schooler, a hunter familiar with firearms, was able to bring an unfolding rampage to an abrupt end when he identified a gunman attempting to reload his .22-caliber rifle, made the tactical decision to make a move and tackled the shooter.
A few years back, an assistant principal at Pearl High School in Mississippi, which was a gun-free zone, retrieved his legally owned Colt .45 from his car and stopped a Columbine wannabe from continuing his massacre at another school after he had killed two and wounded more at Pearl.
At an eighth-grade school dance in Pennsylvania, a boy fatally shot a teacher and wounded two students before the owner of the dance hall brought the killing to a halt with his own gun.
More recently, just a few miles up the road from Virginia Tech, two law school students ran to fetch their legally owned firearm to stop a madman from slaughtering anybody and everybody he pleased. These brave, average, armed citizens neutralized him pronto.
My hero, Dr. Suzanne Gratia Hupp, was not allowed by Texas law to carry her handgun into Luby's Cafeteria that fateful day in 1991, when due to bureaucrat-forced unarmed helplessness she could do nothing to stop satanic George Hennard from killing 23 people and wounding more than 20 others before he shot himself. Hupp was unarmed for no other reason than denial-ridden "feel good" politics.
She has since led the charge for concealed weapon upgrade in Texas, where we can now stop evil. Yet, there are still the mindless puppets of the Brady Campaign and other anti-gun organizations insisting on continuing the gun-free zone insanity by which innocents are forced into unarmed helplessness. Shame on them. Shame on America. Shame on the anti-gunners all.
No one was foolish enough to debate Ryder truck regulations or ammonia nitrate restrictions or a "cult of agriculture fertilizer" following the unabashed evil of Timothy McVeigh's heinous crime against America on that fateful day in Oklahoma City. No one faulted kitchen utensils or other hardware of choice after Jeffrey Dahmer was caught drugging, mutilating, raping, murdering and cannibalizing his victims. Nobody wanted "steak knife control" as they autopsied the dead nurses in Chicago, Illinois, as Richard Speck went on trial for mass murder.
Evil is as evil does, and laws disarming guaranteed victims make evil people very, very happy. Shame on us.
Already spineless gun control advocates are squawking like chickens with their tiny-brained heads chopped off, making political hay over this most recent, devastating Virginia Tech massacre, when in fact it is their own forced gun-free zone policy that enabled the unchallenged methodical murder of 32 people.
Thirty-two people dead on a U.S. college campus pursuing their American Dream, mowed-down over an extended period of time by a lone, non-American gunman in possession of a firearm on campus in defiance of a zero-tolerance gun ban. Feel better yet? Didn't think so.
Who doesn't get this? Who has the audacity to demand unarmed helplessness? Who likes dead good guys?
I'll tell you who. People who tramp on the Second Amendment, that's who. People who refuse to accept the self-evident truth that free people have the God-given right to keep and bear arms, to defend themselves and their loved ones. People who are so desperate in their drive to control others, so mindless in their denial that they pretend access to gas causes arson, Ryder trucks and fertilizer cause terrorism, water causes drowning, forks and spoons cause obesity, dialing 911 will somehow save your life, and that their greedy clamoring to "feel good" is more important than admitting that armed citizens are much better equipped to stop evil than unarmed, helpless ones.
Pray for the families of victims everywhere, America. Study the methodology of evil. It has a profile, a system, a preferred environment where victims cannot fight back. Embrace the facts, demand upgrade and be certain that your children's school has a better plan than Virginia Tech or Columbine. Eliminate the insanity of gun-free zones, which will never, ever be gun-free zones. They will only be good guy gun-free zones, and that is a recipe for disaster written in blood on the altar of denial. I, for one, refuse to genuflect there.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion
on: April 20, 2007, 06:12:23 PM
A Lesson In Hate
How an Egyptian student came to study 1950s America and left determined to wage holy war
By David Von Drehle
Before Sayyid Qutb became a leading theorist of violent jihad, he was a little-known Egyptian writer sojourning in the United States, where he attended a small teachers college on the Great Plains. Greeley, Colorado, circa 1950 was the last place one might think to look for signs of American decadence. Its wide streets were dotted with churches, and there wasn’t a bar in the whole temperate town. But the courtly Qutb (COO-tub) saw things that others did not. He seethed at the brutishness of the people around him: the way they salted their watermelon and drank their tea unsweetened and watered their lawns. He found the muscular football players appalling and despaired of finding a barber who could give a proper haircut. As for the music: “The American’s enjoyment of jazz does not fully begin until he couples it with singing like crude screaming,” Qutb wrote when he returned to Egypt. “It is this music that the savage bushmen created to satisfy their primitive desires.”
Such grumbling by an unhappy crank would be almost comical but for one fact: a direct line of influence runs from Sayyid Qutb to Osama bin Laden, and to bin Laden’s Egyptian partner in terror, Ayman al-Zawahiri. From them, the line continues to another quietly seething Egyptian sojourning in the United States—the 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. Qutb’s gripes about America require serious attention because they cast light on a question that has been nagging since the fall of the World Trade Center: Why do they hate us?
Born in 1906 in the northern Egyptian village of Musha and raised in a devout Muslim home, Qutb memorized the Koran as a boy. Later he moved to Cairo and found work as a teacher and writer. His novels made no great impression, but he earned a reputation as an astute literary critic. Qutb was among the first champions of Naguib Mahfouz, a young, modern novelist who, in 1988, would win the Nobel Prize in Literature. As Qutb matured, his mind took on a more political cast. Even by the standards of Egypt, those were chaotic, corrupt times: World War I had completed the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, and the Western powers were creating, with absolute colonial confidence, new maps and governments for the Middle East. For a proud man like Sayyid Qutb, the humiliation of his country at the hands of secular leaders and Western puppets was galling. His writing drew unfavorable attention from the Egyptian government, and by 1948, Mahfouz has said, Qutb’s friends in the Ministry of Education were sufficiently worried about his situation that they contrived to send him abroad to the safety of the United States.
Some biographical sketches suggest that Qutb arrived with a benign view of America, but if that’s true it didn’t last long. During a short stay in Washington, D.C., he witnessed the commotion surrounding an elevator accident and was stunned to hear other onlookers making a joke of the victim’s appearance. From this and a few offhand remarks in other settings, Qutb concluded that Americans suffered from “a drought of sentimental sympathy” and that “Americans intentionally deride what people in the Old World hold sacred.”
This became the lens through which Qutb read nearly every American encounter—a clash of New World versus Old. Qutb easily satisfied the requirements at the graduate school of the Colorado State College of Education (now known as the University of Northern Colorado) and devoted the rest of his time to his true interest—the American soul, if such a thing existed. “This great America: What is its worth in the scale of human values?” Qutb wondered. “And what does it add to the moral account of humanity?” His answer: nothing.
Still, Qutb’s contempt for America was not as simple as some people might now imagine. He did not recoil from political freedom and democracy, as, say, President Bush might expect from a jihadi theorist, nor did he complain about shades of imperial ambition in American foreign policy, as writers on the left might suppose. Regarding the excesses of American culture—vulgarity, materialism and promiscuity—Qutb expressed shock, but it rang a bit hollow. “The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity,” he wrote. “She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs and she shows all this and does not hide it.” These curvy jezebels pursued boys with “wide, strapping chest
” and “ox muscles,” Qutb added with disgust. Yet no matter how lascivious his adjectives, the fastidious, unmarried Egyptian could not convincingly portray the church dances and Look magazines he encountered in sleepy Greeley as constituting a genuine sexual “jungle.”
The core problem with the United States, for Qutb, was not something Americans did, but simply what America was—“the New World...is spellbinding.” It was more than a land of pleasures without limit. In America, unlike in Egypt, dreams could come true. Qutb understood the danger this posed: America’s dazzle had the power to blind people to the real zenith of civilization, which for Qutb began with Muhammad in the seventh century and reached its apex in the Middle Ages, carried triumphantly by Muslim armies.
Qutb rejected the idea that “new” was also “improved.” The Enlightenment, the Industrial Age—modernity itself—were not progress. “The true value of every civilization...lies not in the tools man has invented or in how much power he wields,” Qutb wrote. “The value of civilizations lay in what universal truths and worldviews they have attained.” The modern obsession with science and invention was a moral regression to the primitive condition of the first toolmakers. Qutb’s America was bursting with raw energy and appetite, but utterly without higher virtues. In his eyes, its “interminable, incalculable expanses of virgin land” were settled by “groups of adventurers and groups of criminals” who lacked the time and reflection required for a civilized life. Qutb’s Americans “faced the uncharted forests, the tortuous mountain mazes, the fields of ice, the thundering hurricanes, and the beasts, serpents and vermin of the forest” in a struggle that left them numb to “faith in religion, faith in art and faith in spiritual values altogether.”
This portrait likely would have surprised the people of mid-century Greeley, had they somehow become aware of the unspoken opinions of their somewhat frosty neighbor. Theirs was a friendly town best known for the unpretentious college and for the cattle feedlots sprawling pungently on its outskirts. The founding of Greeley in the 1870s involved no ice fields, hurricanes or serpents. Instead, it began with a simple newspaper column written by Nathan Meeker, agricultural editor of the New York Tribune. On December 14, 1869, Meeker appealed to literate readers of high moral character to join him in building a utopian community by the South Platte River near the foot of the Rocky Mountains. More than 3,000 readers applied; from this list Meeker selected the 700 best qualified to realize his vision of a sober, godly, cooperative community. The town was dubbed Greeley in honor of Meeker’s boss at the Tribune, the quixotic publisher Horace Greeley, who died within weeks of his failed run for president in 1872, just as the project was gathering steam.
Poet and journalist Sara Lippincott was an early visitor to the frontier outpost, and later wrote about it under her pen name, Grace Greenwood. “You’ll die of dullness in less than five hours,” another traveler had warned her about Greeley. “There is nothing there but irrigation. Your host will invite you out to see him irrigate his potato-patch...there is not a billiard-saloon in the whole camp, nor a drink of whiskey to be had for love or money.” None of that made any difference to Qutb, who saw only what he already believed, and wrote not facts, but his own truth, in his 1951 essay, “The America I Have Seen.”
Sayyid Qutb cut short his stay in America and returned to Egypt in 1951 after the assassination of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the nationalist, religious and militant movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood. Over the next decade and a half, often writing from prison, Qutb refined a violent political theology from the raw anti-modernism of his American interlude. Virtually the entire modern world, Qutb theorized, is jahiliyya, that barbarous state that existed before Muhammad. Only the strict, unchanging law of the prophet can redeem this uncivilized condition. Nearly a millennium of history became, to the radicalized Qutb, an offense wrought by the violence of jahili “Crusaders” and the supposed perfidy of the Jews. And Muslim leaders allied with the West were no better than the Crusaders themselves. Therefore, Qutb called all true Muslims to jihad, or Holy War, against jahiliyya—which is to say, against modernity, which America so powerfully represents.
This philosophy led to Qutb’s execution in 1966. Proud to the end, he refused to accept the secular Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser’s offer of mercy in exchange for Qutb’s repudiation of his jihad. Nasser may have silenced a critic, but the martyrdom of Sayyid Qutb accelerated his movement. The same year the philosopher was hanged, according to journalist Lawrence Wright, the teenage al-Zawahiri formed his first violent cell, dedicated to the overthrow of the Egyptian government and the creation of an Islamist state. Meanwhile, Qutb’s brother Muhammad went into exile in Saudi Arabia, where he taught at King Abdul Aziz University. One of his students, an heir to the country’s largest construction fortune, was Osama bin Laden.
Others have taken Qutb’s ideas in less apocalyptic directions, so that M.A. Muqtedar Khan of the Brookings Institution can rank him alongside the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran as “one of the major architects and ‘strategists’ of contemporary Islamic revival.” But the last paragraphs of Qutb’s American memoir suggest just how far outside normal discourse his mind was wont to stray. After noting the stupidity of his Greeley neighbors, who failed to understand his dry and cutting jokes, Qutb writes: “In summary, anything that requires a touch of elegance is not for the American, even haircuts! For there was not one instance in which I had a haircut there when I did not return home to even with my own hands what the barber had wrought.” This culminating example of inescapable barbarism led directly to his conclusion. “Humanity makes the gravest of errors and risks losing its account of morals, if it makes America its example.”
Turning a haircut into a matter of grave moral significance is the work of a fanatic. That’s the light ultimately cast by Qutb’s American experience on the question of why his disciples might hate us. Hating America for its haircuts cannot be distinguished from hating for no sane reason at all.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The party of Hate
on: April 20, 2007, 05:50:01 PM
The MSM has anointed him and the "Reverend"
Jackson the leaders of black Americans, as laughable as that may be. He's a media construct. Watching him being interviewed by the MSM about "Imus", he got a total deferential, kid-glove treatment. They live in fear of being called the "R" word. In addition, he's entertaining while Jackson appears to have suffered a stroke. I could barely understand his hypocritical, self-rightious mumbling.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Virginia Tech Shooting...
on: April 19, 2007, 02:54:48 PM
SELLING RAPPER TELLS '60 MINUTES': WOULDN'T HELP POLICE CATCH EVEN A SERIAL KILLER BECAUSE IT WOULD HURT HIS BUSINESS AND VIOLATE HIS 'CODE OF ETHICS'
Thu Apr 19 2007 12:47:1 ET
Rap star Cam'ron says there's no situation -- including a serial killer living next door -- that would cause him to help police in any way, because to do so would hurt his music sales and violate his "code of ethics." Cam'ron, whose real name is Cameron Giles, talks to Anderson Cooper for a report on how the hip-hop culture's message to shun the police has undermined efforts to solve murders across the country. Cooper's report will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, April 22 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"If I knew the serial killer was living next door to me?" Giles responds to a hypothetical question posed by Cooper. "I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him -- but I'd probably move," says Giles. "But I'm not going to call and be like, ÔThe serial killer's in 4E.' " ( For an excerpt of Giles' interview, click here
Giles' "code of ethics" also extends to crimes committed against him. After being shot and wounded by gunmen, Giles refused to cooperate with police. Why? "Because...it would definitely hurt my business, and the way I was raised, I just don't do that," says Giles. Pressed by Cooper, who says had he been the victim, he would want his attacker to be caught, Giles explains further: "But then again, you're not going to be on the stage tonight in the middle of, say, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, with people with gold and platinum teeth and dreadlocks jumping up and down singing your songs, either," says Giles. "We're in two different lines of business."
"So for you, it's really about business?" Cooper asks.
"It's about business," Giles says, "but it's still also a code of ethics."
Rappers appear to be concerned about damaging what's known as their "street credibility," says Geoffrey Canada, an anti-violence advocate and educator from New York City's Harlem neighborhood. "It's one of those things that sells music and no one really quite understands why," says Canada. Their fans look up to artists if they come from the "meanest streets of the urban ghetto," he tells Cooper. For that reason, Canada says, they do not cooperate with the police.
Canada says in the poor New York City neighborhood he grew up in, only the criminals didn't talk to the police, but within today's hip-hop culture, that's changed. "It is now a cultural norm that is being preached in poor communities....It's like you can't be a black person if you have a set of values that say ÔI will not watch a crime happen in my community without getting involved to stop it,'" Canada tells Cooper.
Young people from some of New York's toughest neighborhoods echo Canada's assessment, calling the message not to help police "the rules" and helping the police "a crime" in their neighborhoods. These "rules" are contributing to a much lower percentage of arrests in homicide cases -- a statistic known as the "clearance rate" -- in largely poor, minority neighborhoods throughout the country, according to Prof. David Kennedy of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "I work in communities where the clearance rate for homicides has gone into the single digits," says Kennedy. The national rate for homicide clearance is 60 percent. "In these neighborhoods, we are on the verge of -- or maybe we have already lost -- the rule of law," he tells Cooper.
Says Canada, "It's like we're saying to the criminals, ÔYou can have our community....Do anything you want and we will either deal with it ourselves or we'll simply ignore it.' "
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Virginia Tech Shooting...
on: April 19, 2007, 02:51:43 PM
Time for the Truth About Black Crime Rates
The lessons of the Sean Bell case
Heather Mac Donald
2 April 2007
Mayor Mike Bloomberg has the chance to transform not just New York, but all American cities, by breaking the taboo on talking about the connection between race and crime. Doing so would take courage that no politician has yet mustered. But after the manslaughter and assault indictments of three New York police officers for fatally shooting Sean Bell last November, Bloomberg has an opening: acknowledge that police officers may react too precipitously to perceived threats in charged urban settings, in exchange for a wide-open discussion about the sky-high black crime rates that encourage that reaction. Crime, not police racism, drives negative police-community relations in black neighborhoods. And until the crime rate comes down, tragedies like the Sean Bell shooting may reoccur.
After the Bell shooting, which occurred outside a Queens strip joint, critics of the NYPD followed the usual script: increasingly ugly charges of police bigotry (despite the fact that several of the officers involved were black); deployment of the threat-of-black-riots weapon; calls for convictions of the officers on the most severe murder charges; and the transformation of the highly aberrant Bell shooting into the very symbol of the NYPD. To his discredit, Mayor Bloomberg joined the rush to prejudge the officers. The day after the shooting, he declared: “It sounds to me like excessive force was used.” Even more irresponsibly, he deemed the incident “inexplicable,” thus fueling the belief that the officers could not possibly have perceived a deadly threat and all but guaranteeing that any acquittal of them would be viewed as proof that the criminal-justice system was antiblack.
Carefully omitted from the swirl of media coverage and the denunciations of the NYPD was any discussion of black crime rates. The New York Times did its usual best to shroud the issue. A March article, for instance, devoted itself to charges that the police were preying on the black community. After noting that more than half the people whom cops stop and frisk are black, Times reporter Diane Cardwell added: “City officials maintained that those stopped and searched roughly parallel the race of people mentioned in reports from crime victims.” No, actually, there is no “rough parallel” between the proportion of stops and the proportion of alleged assailants: blacks aren’t stopped enough, considering the rate at which they commit crimes. Though blacks, 24 percent of New York City’s population, committed 68.5 percent of all murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults in the city last year, according to victims and witnesses, they were only 55 percent of all stop-and-frisks. Of course, the Times didn’t give the actual crime figures. Even a spate of vicious assaults on police officers in the week before the indictments didn’t change the predominant story line that officers were trigger-happy racists.
But the context of the Bell shooting suggests a different picture. The undercover officers and detectives involved had been deployed to Club Kahlua in Jamaica, Queens, because of the club’s history of lawlessness. Club patrons and neighbors had made dozens of calls to the NYPD, reporting guns, drug sales, and prostitution, and the police had recently made eight arrests there.
The night of November 24, undercover officer Gescard Isnora, who fired the first shots at Bell, had observed a man put a stripper’s hand on his belt to reassure her that he had a gun and would protect her from an aggressive customer. Outside the club, Isnora (who is African-American) and his colleagues witnessed a heated exchange between Bell’s entourage and an apparent pimp over the services of a prostitute, during which the pimp kept his hand inside his jacket, as if holding a gun. After the hooker refused to have sex with more than two of the group’s eight members, Bell—presumably referring to the pimp—said, “Let’s fuck him up,” and Bell’s companion, Joseph Guzman, said, “Yo, get my gun, get my gun.” Isnora reported these exchanges over his cell phone to his colleagues in the area.
Feeling the danger level mounting, Isnora retrieved his gun from his unmarked car. When he returned to the scene, Bell and his two companions had gotten into their car, ready to drive away. Isnora thought that a drive-by shooting of the pimp could be imminent, and so moved to question the car’s occupants. He held out his badge (by his account), identified himself as a police officer, and told the car to stop. Instead, Bell drove forward and hit Isnora and a police minivan, backed up, and then slammed into the minivan again, nearly hitting Isnora a second time.
Isnora, who was standing on the passenger side of Bell’s car, claims that he saw Guzman reach for his waistband. Believing that he faced a deadly threat, Isnora opened fire. The four other undercovers and detectives at the scene also started shooting, killing Bell and wounding Guzman and Bell’s other companion in the car, Trent Benefield. No gun turned up in Bell’s car. (Benefield alleges that Isnora began shooting before the car started moving, which is absurd. The barrage of 50 bullets was so fast that no witness at the scene remembers hearing more than eight rounds fired off. Bell was undoubtedly killed as soon as the shooting started, and so wouldn’t have been able to move the car forward and back and forward again, as he did. None of the officers had ever used their guns before, moreover, despite making hundreds of arrests, including for gun possession. These were not trigger-happy cops.)
Without question, the results of this episode are horrific. And the tactics stank—Isnora should never have left himself as exposed as he was. But was the officers’ perception of a deadly threat so unreasonable as to make their shooting a criminal homicide? If a judge or jury finds that they did not reasonably believe that they faced an imminent use of deadly force, then, according to the woefully inappropriate criminal code, their actions fall within the literal definition of manslaughter. (Showing what appears to be arbitrariness, the grand jury indicted two of the officers for manslaughter and assault—even though one of them, Isnora, did not even hit Bell—and a third for reckless endangerment, but didn’t indict the remaining two officers, even though all had fired their guns.)
Isnora and his colleagues knew the following, when they saw a car racing toward them whose occupants they believed could have guns: shootings at after-hours joints like Club Kahlua are by no means uncommon. Just the previous month, a patron had been fatally gunned down outside another Queens club, the third lethal shooting there in three years. This March, a club customer in Brooklyn tried to blast an off-duty cop’s head off after the two had unintentionally bumped into each other on a crowded dance floor.
Isnora and his colleagues did not know the following, but it’s a further indication of the reality of crime in New York: Bell, Benefield, and Guzman had all been arrested for gun possession in the past, according to the New York Times. Further, Guzman had a long prison record, including a sentence for an armed robbery during which he shot at his victim. And Bell and his entourage were dealing drugs, an activity highly correlated with violence.
These specific facts about the Bell shooting are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of data points that reveal a hard truth: any given violent crime in New York is 13 times more likely to have a black than a white perpetrator. While most black residents are law-abiding and desperately deserve police protection, the incidence of criminal activity among young black males is off the charts. “A black kid between the ages of 18 and 24 is the scariest thing to cops,” says a police attorney, “because they know how crazy it can get.” And this is true whatever the officer’s race.
The “public doesn’t get how frightened cops are,” says a former NYPD commanding officer. “Cops are reluctant to articulate everything that goes into a shooting incident,” says another former officer, retired assistant chief Jim McShane. “They’re afraid to say: ‘Are you kidding me? I was terrified. The guy was drinking; I told him to stop; I was afraid that someone was going to get shot.’ ” When an officer thinks that he is under deadly threat, he knows that any hesitation could cost him his life. NYPD officer Steven McDonald was staring down the barrel of a small gun in Central Park in the summer of 1986, held by a 15-year-old whom he had stopped to question about a stolen bicycle. Rather than immediately responding with deadly force, he paused—and was shot twice in the head and once in the arm, paralyzing him from the neck down.
Because of these realities, it’s possible that officers are quicker to perceive—and react to—a deadly threat when dealing with young black men than they would be with other demographic groups. (Even so, fatal shootings by the NYPD are extremely rare; fatal shootings of unarmed civilians, even rarer.) And it’s undeniably true that the much greater incidence of crime in black neighborhoods means that the police activity there will be higher, leading to a greater risk of the use of force.
The NYPD’s goal at this point—understandably and rightly—is to do everything it can to prevent the death of another Sean Bell. The department’s recently announced tactical review is more than justified. But the police can only go so far in ensuring that tragic errors, when they inevitably happen, do not happen to black males. Mayor Bloomberg has already pandered enough to antipolice activists. He should now cash in his political chips and speak the truth: the black crime rate is the most important determinant of how the police interact with the black community. Unless black leaders—real or media-created—muster the will to address the crime epidemic among black youth (most of it inflicted on other blacks), the ongoing carnage will almost inevitably include an infinitesimal number of accidental police shootings of unarmed men. Criminal activity among young African-Americans is the poison of cities and of race relations; if Bloomberg can force a conversation about it, he could help reclaim urban America.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Virginia Tech Shooting...
on: April 19, 2007, 02:46:15 PM
Blair Breaks the Black Crime Taboo
Gangsta culture, not an unjust society, drives it, says the outgoing British prime minister.
Heather Mac Donald
12 April 2007
British prime minister Tony Blair has just broken one of the biggest taboos in Western politics: talking frankly about black crime. Give the man a medal for courage. And then ask why American pols are unable to summon such backbone in addressing the biggest impediment holding back poor black Americans: out-of-control crime rates and the gangsta culture that gives rise to criminality, problems that will be with us long after Don Imus is sent into belated retirement.
A wave of teen black-on-black murders has struck London over the last two months. Most recently, a horde of 12 black boys attacked a 14-year-old aspiring rapper with baseball bats and knives in an apartment lobby on Good Friday, killing the boy, Paul Erhahon, and seriously wounding his 15-year-old friend. Officials have charged a 13-year-old and 14-year-old with murder; the mother of the younger suspect laughed and joked during a recent court proceeding. The family of the surviving victim has received threats since the stabbing, which appears to be gang-related. Since February, nine teenagers have been shot or stabbed to death in London and other British cities.
Politicians and “community leaders” have two usual responses to such crime: ignoring it or blaming poverty and racism. Silence is eminently safe; changing the subject to poverty wins you political sensitivity points from media and cultural elites. But Tony Blair has undergone what he calls a “lurching into total frankness” in the final weeks of his premiership. And so he’s thrown out the usual politician’s playbook and spoken the truth: The violence will not end “by pretending it is not young black kids doing it,” he said yesterday in a lecture in Cardiff, Wales. The spate of killings isn’t part of a generalized crime wave, Blair said, but results from the behavior of black youth. Even more astounding than his willingness to name the violent-crime phenomenon was his rejection of the acceptable explanations for it. “We need to stop thinking of this as a society that has gone wrong—it has not—but of specific groups that for specific reasons have gone outside of the proper lines of respect and good conduct towards others and need by specific measures to be brought back into the fold,” he observed.
In the past, Blair has also fingered the real “root cause” of so much underclass criminality: the breakdown in marriage. Without fathers in their lives, he has said, boys will be more at risk for antisocial behavior. He made the same point yesterday: the crime epidemic has “to do with the fact that particular youngsters are being brought up in a setting that has no rules, no discipline, no proper framework around them.” And in case his audience still didn’t get the point, he rejected the usual excuse for black crime. “Economic inequality is a factor and we should deal with that,” Blair noted, “but I don’t think it’s the thing that is producing the most violent expression of this social alienation.”
The problem with the crime taboo is that it leaves untouched a culture that puts law-abiding black citizens—the majority of blacks—at risk. The crime taboo allows a subset of that population to destroy the hopes and lives of others. Blair called on the many upstanding black leaders and parents to take on the gang culture: “The black community—the vast majority of whom in these communities are decent, law-abiding people horrified at what is happening—need to be mobilized in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids.”
Blair also recognized in his speech that stronger policing is the best solution to violent crime. The police and prosecutors need to focus intensively on the youths behind the recent gun and knife attacks, he said, and take the leaders “out of circulation.”
The victim lobby of course struck back hard, denouncing Blair’s call for more assertive policing and demanding more antipoverty funding. Yet in a sign that Britain may contain pockets of sanity still unthinkable in the U.S., the ordinarily PC Commission for Racial Equality stood by Blair’s remarks, saying that people “shouldn’t be afraid to talk about this issue for fear of sounding prejudiced.”
America contains its share of lame-duck politicians at the moment—the mayor of New York City and the president of the United States come to mind. If they want to leave a legacy of leadership, they could do worse than following Tony Blair’s lead in tackling the most pressing urban problem.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Virginia Tech Shooting...
on: April 19, 2007, 02:25:41 PM
I do believe that media, including video games and especially "gangsta" rap has an effect. The key element is it's effect on vulnerable populations of urban minority children and predominantly white suburban children that to a degree are living a "Lord of the Flies" existence in the midst of our country. Media, especially that which glorifies violent anti-social behavior fills the void too often left by parents and our now "value-neutral" society.
Hedonism, illegitimacy, crass displays of material wealth and criminality are destroying black communities today. Ironic, given that a strong sense of family and Christianity sustained black Americans through slavery and Jim Crow oppression.