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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #50 on: April 09, 2009, 09:10:35 AM »

Today is Holy Thursday for Christians and the start of Passover for Jews. This week was an opportune time for President Barack Obama to visit Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, which has been both a Byzantine church and Islamic mosque. In Turkey he spoke of seeking engagement with Islam based on "mutual respect."

 
The subject of this column is the status of minority faith groups, mostly Christian, living inside Islamic countries. That status is poor. In some cases it verges on extinction, after centuries of coexistence with Islam. So it is useful to review what Mr. Obama said of his goals for living with Islam:

"I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam. . . .

"We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith. . . . Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country. I know, because I am one of them."


Islam must show respect for Christian minorities, says Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger. (April 9)
This is an eloquent description of ecumenical civility. In reality, the experience of Arab Christians living now amid majority Islamic populations is often repression, arrest, imprisonment and death.

Coptic Christians in Egypt have been singled out for discrimination and persecution. Muslim rioters often burn or vandalize their churches and shops.

In Turkey, the Syriac Orthodox Church (its 3,000 members speak Aramaic, the language of Christ) is battling with Turkish authorities over the lands around the Mor Gabriel monastery, built in 397.

Pakistan's recent peace deal with the Taliban in the Swat Valley puts at risk the 500 Christians still trying to live there. Many fled after Islamic extremists bombed a girls' school late last year. Pakistan has never let them buy land to build a church.

Podcast
Listen to Daniel Henninger's Wonder Land column, now available in audio format.
In 1995, the Saudis were allowed to build a mosque in Rome near the Vatican, but never reciprocated with a Christian church in their country. Saudi Arabia even forbids private worship at home for some one million Christian migrant workers.

In Iraq, the situation for small religious minorities has become dire. Reports emerge regularly of mortal danger there for groups that date to antiquity -- Chaldean-Assyrians, the Yazidis and Sabean Mandaeans, who revere John the Baptist. Last fall the Chaldean-Assyrian archbishop of Mosul was kidnapped and murdered. Some Iraqi Christians believe the new government won't protect them, and talk of moving into a "homeland" enclave in Nineveh. Penn State Prof. Philip Jenkins, author of "The Lost History of Christianity," calls the Iraq situation "a classic example of a church that is killed over time."

In short, the "respect" Mr. Obama promised to give Islam is going only in one direction. And he knows that.

Candidate Obama last fall sent a letter to Condoleezza Rice expressing "my concern about the safety and well-being of Iraq's Christian and other non-Muslim religious minorities." He asked what steps the U.S. was taking to protect "these communities of religious freedom." Candidate Obama said he wanted these groups represented in Iraq's governing institutions. Does President Obama believe these things?

A Bush official who worked on this problem in Iraq told me there is a school of thought that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki understands that these ancient groups are Iraq's "connective tissue," and that weaving them formally into the system could be a basis for binding together his fractured nation. If these harmless peoples can't coexist, who can?

Mr. Obama's designated ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, has been criticized for subordinating human-rights issues with North Korea. That would be a mistake in the Middle East. The willingness of Islamic governments to formally protect these small Christian groups should be a litmus test of their bona fides on larger political issues.

If Islam won't let its leaders give basic rights to a handful of ancient Christians, there is no hope for what Mr. Obama proposed this week in Turkey. What his special envoy for Middle East peace, George Mitchell, wishes to achieve with Israel and its neighbors will also fail, again.

An established network of smart people exists to help Mr. Obama here, starting with the Vatican of Pope Benedict XVI and its diplomatic outreach efforts to senior Islamic clerics. The widely connected Anglican Vicar of Baghdad, Andrew White, also happens to be director of the little-known Religious Sectarian project for the U.S. Department of Defense. There are many others.

Mr. Obama should make formalized tolerance of Christian sects in the Middle East the basis for arriving at what he called "common ground" with Islam. As will be noted in churches in the rest of the world this weekend, that "common ground" was first walked in the Middle East 2,000 years ago.

Write to henninger@wsj.com
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #51 on: April 15, 2009, 11:46:36 PM »

REUEL MARC GERECHT
'The United States is not at war with Islam and will never be. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject."

 
Getty ImagesSo spoke President Barack Hussein Obama in Turkey last week. Following in the footsteps of the Bush administration, Mr. Obama wants to avoid labeling our enemy in religious terms. References to "Islamic terrorism," "Islamic radicalism," or "Islamic extremism" aren't in his speeches. "Jihad," too, has been banished from the official lexicon.

But if one visits the religious bookstores near Istanbul's Covered Bazaar, or mosque libraries of Turkish immigrants in Rotterdam, Brussels or Frankfurt, one can still find a cornucopia of radical Islamist literature. Go into the bookstores of Arab and Pakistani immigrant communities in Europe, or into the literary markets of the Arab world and the Indian subcontinent, and you'll find an even richer collection of militant Islamism.

Al Qaeda is certainly not a mainstream Muslim group -- if it were, we would have had far more terrorist attacks since 9/11. But the ideology that produced al Qaeda isn't a rivulet in contemporary Muslim thought. It is a wide and deep river. The Obama administration does both Muslims and non-Muslims an enormous disservice by pretending otherwise.

Theologically, Muslims are neither fragile nor frivolous. They have not become suicide bombers because non-Muslims have said something unkind; they have not refrained from becoming holy warriors because Westerners avoided the word "Islamic" in describing Osama bin Laden and his allies. Having an American president who had a Muslim father, carries the name of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, and wants to engage the Muslim world in a spirit of "mutual respect" isn't a "game changer." This hypothesis trivializes Islamic history and the continuing appeal of religious militancy.

Above all else, we need to understand clearly our enemies -- to try to understand them as they see themselves, and to see them as devout nonviolent Muslims do. To not talk about Islam when analyzing al Qaeda is like talking about the Crusades without mentioning Christianity. To devise a hearts-and-minds counterterrorist policy for the Islamic world without openly talking about faith is counterproductive. We -- the West -- are the unrivalled agent of change in the Middle East. Modern Islamic history -- including the Bush years -- ought to tell us that questions non-Muslims pose can provoke healthy discussions.

The abolition of slavery, rights for religious minorities and women, free speech, or the very idea of civil society -- all of these did not advance without Western pressure and the enormous seductive power that Western values have for Muslims. Although Muslims in the Middle East have been talking about political reform since they were first exposed to Western ideas (and modern military might) in the 18th century, the discussion of individual liberty and equality has been more effective when Westerners have been intimately involved. The Middle East's brief but impressive "Liberal Age" grew from European imperialism and the unsustainable contradiction between the progressive ideals taught by the British and French -- the Egyptian press has never been as free as when the British ruled over the Nile valley -- and the inevitably illiberal and demeaning practices that come with foreign occupation.

Although it is now politically incorrect to say so, George W. Bush's democratic rhetoric energized the discussion of representative government and human rights abroad. Democracy advocates and the anti-authoritarian voices in Arab lands have never been so hopeful as they were between 2002, when democracy promotion began to germinate within the White House, and 2006, when the administration gave up on people power in the Middle East (except in Iraq).

The issue of jihadism is little different. It's not a coincidence that the Muslim debate about holy war became most vivid after 9/11, when the U.S. struck back against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Many may have found Mr. Bush's brief use of the term "Islamofascism" to be offensive -- although it recalls well Abul Ala Maududi, a Pakistani founding father of modern Islamic radicalism, who openly admired European fascism as a violent, muscular ideology capable of mobilizing the masses. Yet Mr. Bush's flirtation with the term unquestionably pushed Muslim intellectuals to debate the legitimacy of its use and the cult of martyrdom that had -- and may still have -- a widespread grip on many among the faithful.

When Sunni Arab Muslims viewed daily on satellite TV the horrors of the Sunni onslaught against the Iraqi Shiites, and then the vicious Shiite revenge against their former masters, the debate about jihadism, the historic Sunni-Shiite rivalry, and the American occupation intensified. Unfortunately, progress in the Middle East has usually happened when things have gotten ugly, and Muslims debate the mess.

Iran's former president Mohammed Khatami, whom Bill Clinton unsuccessfully tried to engage, is a serious believer in the "dialogue of civilizations." In his books, Mr. Khatami does something very rare for an Iranian cleric: He admits that Western civilization can be morally superior to its Islamic counterpart, and that Muslims must borrow culturally as well as technologically from others. On the whole, however, he finds the West -- especially America -- to be an amoral slippery slope of sin. How should one talk to Mr. Khatami or to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the less curious but morally more earnest clerical overlord of Iran; or the Saudi royal family and their influential state-supported clergy, who still preach hatred of the West; or to the faithful of Pakistan, who are in the midst of an increasingly brutal, internecine religious struggle? Messrs. Khatami and Khamenei are flawlessly polite gentlemen. They do not, however, confuse civility with agreement. Neither should we.

It's obviously not for non-Muslims to decide what Islam means. Only the faithful can decide whether Islam is a religion of peace or war (historically it has been both). Only the faithful can banish jihad as a beloved weapon against infidels and unbelief. Only Muslims can decide how they balance legislation by men and what the community -- or at least its legal guardians, the ulama -- has historically seen as divine commandments.

Westerners can, however, ask probing questions and apply pressure when differing views threaten us. We may not choose to dispatch the U.S. Navy to protect women's rights, as the British once sent men-of-war to put down the Muslim slave trade, but we can underscore clearly our disdain for men who see "child brides" as something vouchsafed by the Almighty. There is probably no issue that angers militants more than women's rights. Advancing this cause in traditional Muslim societies caught in the merciless whirlwind of globalization isn't easy, but no effort is likely to bear more fruit in the long term than having American officials become public champions of women's rights in Muslim lands.

Al Qaeda's Islamic radicalism isn't a blip -- a one-time outgrowth of the Soviet-Afghan war -- or a byproduct of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation. It's the most recent violent expression of the modernization of the Muslim Middle East. The West's great transformative century -- the 20th -- was soaked in blood. We should hope, pray, and do what we can to ensure that Islam's continuing embrace of modernity in the 21st century -- undoubtedly its pivotal era -- will not be similarly horrific.

We are fooling ourselves if we think we no longer have to be concerned about how Muslims talk among themselves. This is not an issue that we want to push the "reset" button on. Here, at least, George W. Bush didn't go nearly far enough.

Mr. Gerecht, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
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« Reply #52 on: April 16, 2009, 09:36:40 AM »

**Yes, here in America. At Harvard.**

Chaplain’s E-mail Sparks Controversy

Published On 4/14/2009 1:45:38 AM

By MELODY Y. HU

Crimson Staff Writer


CLARIFICATION APPENDED

Harvard Islamic chaplain Taha Abdul-Basser ’96 has recently come under fire for controversial statements in which he allegedly endorsed death as a punishment for Islamic apostates.

In a private e-mail to a student last week, Abdul-Basser wrote that there was “great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment [for apostates]) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand.”

The e-mail was forwarded over Muslim student e-mail lists and later picked up by the blogosphere, sparking debate and, in many cases, criticism of Abdul-Basser from those who have interpreted his statement as supporting the execution of those who leave the Islamic religion.

“I believe he doesn’t belong as the official chaplain,” said one Islamic student, who asked that he not be named to avoid conflicts with Muslim religious authorities. “If the Christian ministers said that people who converted from Christianity should be killed, don’t you think the University should do something?” [SEE CLARIFICATION BELOW]

According to the student, many of Abdul-Basser’s other views are “not in line with liberal values, such as notions of human rights. He privileges the medieval discourse of the Islamic jurists, and is not willing to exercise independent thought and judgment beyond a certain limit,” the student said.

Samad Khurram ’09-’10 said Abdul-Basser’s remarks conflicted with the Harvard United Ministry’s support of freedom of religion.

“I support free speech, freedom of belief and association, so this came as a big shock to me,” Khurram said.

“[His remarks] are the first step towards inciting intolerance and inciting people towards violence,” said a Muslim Harvard student, who requested that he not be named for fear of harming his relationship with the Islamic community.

Aqil Sajjad, a Harvard graduate student, also said that Abdul-Basser’s statements were “totally wrong, definitely out of line for somebody in that position. I wouldn’t go and seek religious advice from one who is saying this.”

A Muslim student at MIT, who also asked to remain anonymous to preserve his relationship with the Islamic community, said the chaplain’s remarks wrongly suggested that only Westerners and Westernized Muslims who did not fully understand Islam would find the killing of apostates objectionable.

“If what he said was what I thought, then it is very shocking and not something that I would expect or want coming out of a chaplain at any major American university,” he said.

Abdul-Basser wrote in a later e-mailed statement that he “never expressed the position that individuals who leave Islam or convert from Islam to another religion must be killed. I do not hold this opinion personally.” He explained that he was not advocating for the positions mentioned in his e-mail, but rather “addressing them in the context of the evolution of an Islamic legal doctrine.”

“[Abdul-Basser] was speaking as a chaplain to a student in a private e-mail exchange. One of these e-mails was misinterpreted, misconstrued, and posted on the blogosphere,” said Harvard Islamic Society spokesperson Nafees A. Syed ’10, who praised Abdul-Basser for promoting diversity within HIS and the campus at large.

“His immeasurable contributions should not be overlooked in this matter,” she said.

—Staff writer Melody Y. Hu can be reached at melodyhu@fas.harvard.edu.

CLARIFICATION: The April 14 article "Chaplain's E-mail Sparks Controversy" included a quotation from a named Harvard student, who was later granted anonymity when he revealed that his words could bring him into serious conflict with Muslim religious authorities.



http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=527653
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #53 on: April 30, 2009, 11:37:09 AM »

BEIRUT, Lebanon — He has been mentor to some of the most brutal terrorists on earth. But Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a prominent cleric and theorist of jihad living in Jordan, has grown tired of hearing younger extremists accuse him of going soft.

The site Jihadica notes Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’s citation and has one of its own.
So in a recent Internet post to his followers, Mr. Maqdisi defended his hard-line credentials by invoking a higher authority: the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

“Credit is due to the testimony of enemies,” Mr. Maqdisi wrote, as he directed his readers to a recent journal article by Joas Wagemakers, a Dutch scholar of jihadism, and the “Militant Ideology Atlas,” both published by the center. Both identified Mr. Maqdisi as a dangerous and influential jihadi theorist, he noted.

So did two articles by liberal Arab columnists, Mr. Maqdisi added proudly, including one that referred to him as a “sheik of violence” and “the head of the snake.”

It is not new for Islamic extremists to cite Western counterterrorism reports. Ayman Zawahri, the deputy of Osama bin Laden, has referred at least twice in his taped statements to “Stealing Al Qaeda’s Playbook,” a 2004 article also published by the center. But recently Mr. Maqdisi has taken this hall-of-mirrors phenomenon to a new level, complaining bitterly that secular Western analysts generally understand him better than many in his own community.

“I am surprised at the low level of their thinking,” Mr. Maqdisi wrote of his critics, “and how the enemies of religion read and understand us better than they do.”

The complaint is a testament to the growing community of Western jihad watchers, an obsessive and multilingual crew who monitor and debate terrorist Web statements like Talmudic scholars poring over a manuscript.

It also illustrates the fragmentation of authority within the global jihadist movement, where even prominent figures like Mr. Maqdisi are vulnerable to younger critics who feel free to interpret the call to jihad, and the Koran generally, as they see fit.

For the Western analysts, being cited approvingly by a Qaeda figure can be unsettling.

“It is inevitably a little bit flattering,” said Thomas Hegghammer, a fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, who first pointed out Mr. Maqdisi’s complaint on the blog he edits, Jihadica. “But it does make me worry a bit about the implications of what I do and what I write.”

The home page of the Jihadica site, founded a year ago by the scholar William F. McCants, advertises itself with an anonymous quotation said to be taken from a survey of jihadists about Internet sites that monitor militant Islamism online: “It is, in my view, the most important and dangerous among the sites in this group.”

All this self-consciousness is multiplied by the Internet, which has become a recruiting tool for jihadists but is also uniquely vulnerable to spies and informers. The fact that Western scholars and defense analysts have occasionally proposed using influential theorists like Mr. Maqdisi to undermine jihadist movements only makes this worse.

For all their suspicion toward each other, many militant Islamists often speak of Western analysts — especially those with a clear link to the military — with the respect due a true enemy. Mr. Maqdisi, whose Web site includes the world’s largest online compilation of jihadist literature (it is searchable by author), is clearly aware of what is written about him, and about jihad generally.

Despite his stature, he has been fighting off criticism from jihadists for years. Born in what is now the West Bank, Mr. Maqdisi spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1980s, where his writings and speeches legitimizing violence influenced Osama bin Laden and others. In the mid-1990s he was sent to prison in Jordan and became the spiritual mentor of a fellow prisoner, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who later became notorious for decapitating hostages as the leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

In 2005 Mr. Maqdisi was briefly released from prison and criticized Mr. Zarqawi’s bloody car-bombing campaign against the Shiites of Iraq. That led some to accuse him of becoming a tool for the Jordanian or American authorities, an accusation that has been renewed in recent months.

Mr. Maqdisi, who is now under house arrest in Jordan, has angrily turned that accusation against his critics, arguing that their efforts to undermine him and other jihadist leaders derive from a strategy outlined by Western analysts working for “the Crusader RAND Corporation.”

In fact, at least a few Islamists seem to see the hand of the RAND Corporation, an American policy organization that produces reports on terrorism and other subjects, in many plots. This year a hard-line Saudi cleric told this reporter during an interview that “RAND-ites” were seeking to de-Islamize Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Maqdisi’s problem is more homegrown. A new generation of jihadists, many of them less educated and respectful of authority than their elders, has begun taking issue with him. Mr. Maqdisi believes suicide bombing is a legitimate tactic but has said it should not be used indiscriminately, and he has spoken against the sectarian massacres in Iraq. For this he is accused of turning his back on jihad.

In a sense, Mr. Maqdisi can hardly complain, because he did the same thing to his clerical elders when he was young.

“For several decades, there has been a dynamic at work in the radical Sunni Islamist community where each new generation becomes less principled, less learned, more radical, and more violent than the one before it,” said Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle East studies at Princeton.

In fact, recently some Western counterterrorism experts have seized on this trend and hailed it as proof that Al Qaeda and its affiliates are doomed to destroy themselves in an orgy of violence and in-fighting. Whether Mr. Maqdisi will also cite those Western theories in defense of his own approach remains to be seen.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #54 on: August 09, 2009, 10:55:38 PM »

About 18 monts old:

A U.S. Marine squad was marching north of Fallujah when they came upon
an Iraqi terrorist, badly injured and unconscious. On the opposite side
of the road was an American Marine in a similar but less serious state.
The Marine was conscious and alert and as first aid was given to both
men, the squad leader asked the injured Marine what had happened.

The Marine reported, "I was heavily armed and moving north along the
highway here, and coming south was a heavily armed insurgent."

We saw each other and both took cover in the ditches along the road. I
yelled to him that Saddam Hussein was a miserable, lowlife scum bag who
got what he deserved, and he yelled back that Ted Kennedy is a fat,
good-for-nothing, left wing liberal drunk who doesn't know how to drive.
So I said that Osama Bin Ladin dresses and acts like a frigid,
mean-spirited lesbian! He retaliated by yelling, "Oh yeah? Well, so
does Hillary Clinton!"

"And, there we were, in the middle of the road, shaking hands, when a
truck hit us."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #55 on: September 02, 2009, 10:48:44 AM »

Obama Praises Islam as 'Great Religion'

President says Islam is "part of America," hails the religion's "commitment to justice and progress"

AP
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Sept. 1: President Obama introduces college basketball player Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir at a dinner celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room at the White House. (Reuters)

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised American Muslims for enriching the nation's culture at a dinner to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

"The contribution of Muslims to the United States are too long to catalog because Muslims are so interwoven into the fabric of our communities and our country," Obama said at the iftar, the dinner that breaks the holiday's daily fast.

The president joined Cabinet secretaries, members of the diplomatic corps and lawmakers to pay tribute to what he called "a great religion and its commitment to justice and progress." Attendees included Congress' two Muslim members -- Reps. Keith Ellison and Andre Carson as well as ambassadors from Islamic nations and Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren.

Obama shared the story of Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, another invited guest, who broke a state record for most career points as a Massachusetts high school student.

"As an honor student, as an athlete on her way to Memphis, Bilqis is an inspiration not simply to Muslim girls -- she's an inspiration to all of us," he said.

Obama also noted the contributions of Muhammad Ali, who was not in attendance, though the president borrowed a quote from famous boxer, explaining religion.

"A few years ago," Obama said, "he explained this view -- and this is part of why he's The Greatest -- saying, 'Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams -- they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do -- they all contain truths."'

Ramadan, a monthlong period of prayer, reflection and sunrise-to-sunset fasts, began Aug. 22 in most of the Islamic world. It is believed that God began revealing the Quran to Muhammad during Ramadan, and the faithful are supposed to spend the month in religious reflection, prayer and remembrance of the poor.

White House dinners marking the holy month are nothing new. Former President George W. Bush held iftars during his eight years in office.
Obama has made a special effort since taking office to repair U.S. relations with the world's Muslims, including visits to Turkey and Cairo. In a June speech at the Egyptian capital, as well as in one to another important Muslim audience, in Turkey, Obama said: "America is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam."

Obama also released a video message to Muslims before the start to Ramadan. In the video, he said Ramadan's rituals are a reminder of the principles Muslims and Christians have in common,including advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #56 on: October 24, 2009, 07:44:58 AM »

Wasn't quite sure where to put this:

Obama offers millions in Muslim technology fund

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The White House Friday highlighted a new multi-million-dollar technology fund for Muslim nations, following a pledge made by President Barack Obama in his landmark speech to the Islamic world.

The White House said the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) had issued a call for proposals for the fund, which will provide financing of between 25 and 150 million dollars for selected projects and funds.

The Global Technology and Innovation Fund will "catalyze and facilitate private sector investments" throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the White House said in a statement.

Eligible projects would advance economic opportunity and create jobs in areas like technology, education, telecoms, media, business services and clean technology, the White House said.

OPIC said sample projects could help foster the development of new computer technology or telecommunications businesses, or widen access to broadband Internet services.

Proposals must be submitted by the end of November, and managers of funds that make a final short list will make presentations in Washington in January.

Final selections will be announced next June.

In his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last June, Obama argued that "education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century" and that under-investment was rife in many Muslim nations.

As well as the fund, Obama also said he will host a summit on entrepreneurship this year to deepen ties between business leaders in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

In his speech on June 4, Obama vowed to forge a "new beginning" for Islam and America, promising to purge years of "suspicion and discord."

In what may be one of the defining moments of his presidency, Obama laid out a new blueprint for US Middle East policy, pledged to end mistrust, forge a state for Palestinians and defuse a nuclear showdown with Iran.

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php...show_article=1
 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #57 on: November 19, 2009, 03:26:03 AM »

Haven't read the whole thing yet, but the starting premise seems interesting:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/renouncing-islamism-to-the-brink-and-back-again-1821215.html
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« Reply #58 on: January 09, 2010, 09:05:29 AM »

The air is thick and hazy as I tiptoe over the leaves of euphoria-inducing qat, through hoops of golden embroidered hookas, and nestle into the divan between women in Ottoman headdresses singing as frankincense wafts around them. Abeer leans towards me with her wide green eyes and whispers: "Do you know why we burn incense? It is because whenever you sing Muhammad's name, you smell heaven."

Night falls in the Old City of Sana'a as I ride the bus for five cents from this wedding celebration toward the great wall that once protected the city's 14,000 majestic tower houses, many now crumbling. From my dorm window I spot a hoopoe bird soaring over the brown castles, looking down on this high plateau that was once the home of the Queen of Sheba.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's language school is just down the winding cobblestone alleyway from the school where I study Arabic. From my classroom I can hear the call to prayer at the Great Mosque, built during Muhammad's lifetime, where Abdulmutallab prayed day and night. What could this young Nigerian man have seen of Sana'a during his stay in Yemen, before he boarded the Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit?

Perhaps he passed the boy who travels a mile to obtain a fresh bottle of water for me when his shop runs out—sprinting the whole way—and sweetly responds to my thanks: "You are welcome, my sister." Or the cook who gives me a chair hidden from the strong gaze of men chewing qat. Or the motorcyclists narrowly missing the small boys selling tiny bottles of perfume in cardboard boxes on the ground. In the poorest country in the Arab world, would Abdulmutallab have noticed the gentle smile of the cook as he hands me fresh bread at no cost?

I try to open the window of my Arabic classroom, and Arwa, my instructor, swiftly pushes it open. "I am stronger than you." We arm wrestle to prove it, laughing until neither of us can win, and then continue our reading of Arabic media: "President Bush invaded Iraq because of suspected weapons of mass destruction." Arwa quips: "There were no weapons of mass destruction." Just then, we hear a knock at the door and Arwa becomes a black curtain. Only her eyes can be seen through the narrow slat of her naqab.

"Why don't you wear the kind of balto that has the pretty designs on its sleeves?" I ask. "Because then I wouldn't be invisible," she answers. I visit her house, and in a room of dirty clay walls she teaches me to sing a traditional Sana'ani oud song: "How shall I blame my heart? For in loving, it neither thinks nor reasons . . ."

One afternoon, a group of children stop playing to ask me whether I wish to enter Islam to go to heaven. "No? Then you cannot go to heaven." Another day I wear pink instead of black. A boy spits on me.

Children here are more conservative than adults. Abeer's family tells me of Yemeni children returning from Saudi-supported Wahabi summer camps to denounce their parents as "non-Muslims." But with about a 35% unemployment rate, and 75% of Yemen's population under the age of 25, there are few other activities for young people. Extremist organizations providing resources and a sense of purpose thrive. After all, foreigners are kidnapped in this country not to inspire terror, but to bargain with their own government for services.

I spend a morning talking with Abdul Majeed al-Zindani's daughter, Asma, about women's rights. Her father, who is on the U.S. list of al Qaeda affiliates and heads al-Iman University where Abdulmutallab studied in Sana'a, recently launched the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, modeled after the Saudi Arabian organization. "Since women cannot bear the hot sun, why would they want to get a job when they can stay safely inside their homes?" Asma asks me.

One night, I meet with a young imam reputed to give violently anti-American sermons, and ask him to define "extremism." With a large knife, he cuts me a slice of Bint Asahan, a traditional Yemeni dessert drizzled in honey, and insists that I wait for his friend to arrive. A short man with piercing blue eyes and a British accent soon appears, but does not shake my hand. Without answering any of my questions, he cuts deep into my vulnerabilities: my ability to speak Arabic fluently; my right to write my doctoral dissertation on Islam; my understanding of the Yemeni people. I hold back tears. "Not a word, not a word shall you ever write about this interview," he warns. "And do not accuse me of anything."

A few days later, Abeer serves me gisher, made from the roasted shells of al-Mokha coffee beans mixed with cinnamon—a drink Abdulmutallab would have shared many times with his Yemeni counterparts. "This is a gift from me to you," she beams as she places a necklace of coral beads over my head. "I want you to consider me as your sister."

What would Abdulmutallab have thought, had he seen us, or had he been there later that day, when some European students and I play Beatles songs on a guitar in front of the president's mosque? Yemeni boys and girls surround us and cheer. For a few hours in Sana'a, we have something to do.

Ms. Davis-Packard studied in Yemen during the summer of 2008. She is a Ph.D. student in international affairs at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins.
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« Reply #59 on: February 14, 2010, 09:06:57 AM »

1977 vs. 1979 Recommend
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: February 13, 2010

Visiting Yemen and watching the small band of young reformers there struggle against the forces of separatism, Islamism, autocracy and terrorism, reminded me that the key forces shaping this region today were really set in motion between 1977 and 1979 — and nothing much has changed since. Indeed, one could say Middle East politics today is a struggle between 1977 and 1979 — and 1979 is still winning.

How so? Following the defeat of Egypt and other Arab armies by Israel in the 1967 war, Nasserism, a k a Arab nationalism, the abiding ideology of the day, was demolished. In its wake came two broad alternatives: The first, manifested by President Anwar Sadat of Egypt in his 1977 trip to Israel, was a bid to cast the Arab world’s future with the West, economic liberalization, modernization and acceptance of Israel. The weakness of “Sadatism,” though, was that it was an elite ideology with no cultural roots. The Egyptian state made peace with Israel, but Arab societies never followed.

The second Arab-Muslim response emerged in 1979. To start, there was the takeover that year of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by Islamist extremists who challenged the religious credentials of the Saudi ruling family. The Saudi rulers responded by forging a new bargain with their Islamists: Let us stay in power and we will give you a free hand in setting social norms, relations between the sexes and religious education inside Saudi Arabia — and abundant resources to spread Sunni Wahabi fundamentalism abroad.

The Saudi lurch backward coincided with Iran’s revolution in 1979, which brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power. That revolution set up a competition between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia for who was the real leader of the Muslim world, and it triggered a surge in oil prices that gave both fundamentalist regimes the resources to export their brands of puritanical Islam, through mosques and schools, farther than ever.

“Islam lost its brakes in 1979,” said Mamoun Fandy, a Middle East expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London. And there was no moderate countertrend.

Finally, also in 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Arab and Muslim mujahedeen fighters flocked to the cause — financed by Saudi Arabia at America’s behest — and in the process shifted Pakistan and Afghanistan in much more Islamist directions. Once these hard-core Muslim fighters, led by the likes of Osama bin Laden, defeated the Soviets, they turned their guns on America and its Arab allies.

In a smart essay in The Wall Street Journal, titled “The Radical Legacy of 1979,” the retired U.S. diplomat Edward Djerejian, who led the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 1979, noted: “Last year we celebrated the great historic achievements marked by the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent unification of Germany. But we should also remember that events in the broader Middle East of 30 years ago have left, in sharp contrast, a bitter and dangerous legacy.”

In short, the Middle East we are dealing with today is the product of long-term trends dating back to 1979. And have no illusions, we propelled those trends. America looked the other way when Saudi Arabia Wahabi-fied itself. Ronald Reagan glorified the Afghan mujahedeen and the Europeans hailed the Khomeini revolution in Iran as a “liberation” event.

I believe the only way the forces of 1979 can be rolled back would be with another equally big bang — a new popular movement that is truly reformist, democratizing, open to the world, yet anchored in Muslim culture, not disconnected. Our best hopes are the fragile democratizing trends in Iraq, the tentative green revolution in Iran, plus the young reformers now coming of age in every Arab country. But it will not be easy.

The young reformers today “do not have a compelling story to tell,” remarked Lahcen Haddad, a political scientist at Rabat University in Morocco. “And they face a meta-narrative” — first developed by Nasser and later adopted by the Islamists — “that mobilizes millions and millions. That narrative says: ‘The Arabs and Muslims are victims of an imperialist-Zionist conspiracy aided by reactionary regimes in the Arab world. It has as its goal keeping the Arabs and Muslims backward in order to exploit their oil riches and prevent them from becoming as strong as they used to be in the Middle Ages — because that is dangerous for Israel and Western interests.’ ”

Today that meta-narrative is embraced across the Arab-Muslim political spectrum, from the secular left to the Islamic right. Deconstructing that story, and rebuilding a post-1979 alternative story based on responsibility, modernization, Islamic reformation and cross-cultural dialogue, is this generation’s challenge. I think it can happen, but it will require the success of the democratizing self-government movements in Iran and Iraq. That would spawn a whole new story.

I know it’s a long shot, but I’ll continue to hope for it. I’ve been chewing a lot of qat lately, and it makes me dreamy.
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« Reply #60 on: February 14, 2010, 09:01:40 PM »

These words from the preceding piece seem to me to articulate something quite important:
=====
“And they face a meta-narrative” — first developed by Nasser and later adopted by the Islamists — “that mobilizes millions and millions. That narrative says: ‘The Arabs and Muslims are victims of an imperialist-Zionist conspiracy aided by reactionary regimes in the Arab world. It has as its goal keeping the Arabs and Muslims backward in order to exploit their oil riches and prevent them from becoming as strong as they used to be in the Middle Ages — because that is dangerous for Israel and Western interests.’ ”

Today that meta-narrative is embraced across the Arab-Muslim political spectrum, from the secular left to the Islamic right. Deconstructing that story, and rebuilding a post-1979 alternative story based on responsibility, modernization, Islamic reformation and cross-cultural dialogue, is this generation’s challenge.
=====

Anyone want to comment or have at it?
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« Reply #61 on: February 15, 2010, 11:39:28 AM »

The Arabs and Muslims are victims of an imperialist-Zionist conspiracy aided by reactionary regimes in the Arab world. It has as its goal keeping the Arabs and Muslims backward in order to exploit their oil riches and prevent them from becoming as strong as they used to be in the Middle Ages — because that is dangerous for Israel and Western interests.’

The only truth to that is with regards to weaponization/militarization.
Yeah we don't want Arabs and Muslims getting their hands on nuclear weapons, long range missles etc.
No one is stopping them from modernizing otherwise.
Look at Dubai.

"rebuilding a post-1979 alternative story based on responsibility, modernization, Islamic reformation and cross-cultural dialogue, is this generation’s challenge."

No one is stopping them from this - just leave out the weapons.

 


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« Reply #62 on: February 15, 2010, 04:59:52 PM »

All well and good-- but isn't the question presented HOW to counter that narrative in the Arab/Muslim world?
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« Reply #63 on: February 15, 2010, 06:07:05 PM »

Today that meta-narrative is embraced across the Arab-Muslim political spectrum, from the secular left to the Islamic right. Deconstructing that story, and rebuilding a post-1979 alternative story based on responsibility, modernization, Islamic reformation and cross-cultural dialogue, is this generation’s challenge. I think it can happen, but it will require the success of the democratizing self-government movements in Iran and Iraq.

Well it is already been said that we should do all we can to promote democratizing Iraq, Iran etc.
But it looks like time is running out.

Iran appears to be on a trajectory to have nucs by then which some experts feel will spark an arms race.

The truth is the US is now too weak.

Iran knows it.

We offer peace and cooperation.  Or we offer to wipe out their nuclear capability.

That WAS the answer.  But I guess not anymore.  They will get the bomb.

And we will have half the nation paying for the debts of the other half.



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« Reply #64 on: February 19, 2010, 08:40:47 PM »

The others' mindset:

www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/2388.htm
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Rarick
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« Reply #65 on: February 20, 2010, 03:55:56 AM »

Yeah, that about sums it up. Command, Forbid, Destroy Laws of Man. Destroy Intellectual Idols like democracy and freedom and replace them with obedience to Allah.

I have seen stuff like that in some real nasty cults.




The "freebies" are seductive, too all you give up is a bunch of free will and submit to Allah.   The key to that game is who determines what Allah wants?  The Elders of the cult.  Welcome to COG, KoolAid, The Solar Temple............

I never have been able to figure out that mind set.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 04:01:01 AM by Rarick » Logged
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« Reply #66 on: May 15, 2010, 10:57:55 PM »

 The Poet Versus the Prophet: On standing up to totalitarian Islam

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://reason.com/archives/2010/05/1...us-the-prophet

Mark Goldblatt | May 14, 2010

I got to know the poet Allen Ginsberg towards the end of his life. Not very well, just a nodding acquaintance, but after he died I attended a memorial in his honor at the City University Graduate School. At that service, his personal assistant related a story about Ginsberg’s reaction to the death sentence pronounced on the novelist Salman Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. Rushdie’s “crime,” you’ll recall, was writing a provocative, perhaps even blasphemous novel inspired by the life of Muhammad called The Satanic Verses.

Though I might be screwing up a few details, the gist of the story was as follows: Soon after news of the fatwa broke, Ginsberg and his assistant climbed into the back seat of a taxi in Manhattan. After a glance at the cab driver’s name, Ginsberg politely inquired if he was a Muslim. When the cabbie replied that he was, Ginsberg asked him what he thought about the death sentence on Rushdie. The cabbie answered that he thought that Rushdie’s book was disrespectful of Islam, and that the Ayatollah had every right to do what he had done. At this point, according to his assistant, Ginsberg, one of the gentlest men ever to walk the planet, flew into a rage, screaming at the cabbie as he continued to drive, “Then I shit on your religion! Do you hear me? I shit on Islam! I shit on Muhammad! Do you hear? I shit on Muhammad!” Ginsberg demanded that the cabbie pull over. The cabbie complied, and, without paying the fare, Ginsberg and his assistant climbed out. He was still screaming at the cabbie as the car drove off.

I’ve had a couple of weeks now to think about Ginsberg cursing out that cabbie, and cursing out Islam and Muhammad. You see, I live in Manhattan, three blocks from Times Square. As near as I can determine, I was walking with a friend about thirty feet from the car bomb on May 1st right around the time it was supposed to detonate. Except for the technical incompetence of a Muslim dirtbag named Faisal Shahzad, I and my friend would likely be dead now. Note the phrase: “Muslim dirtbag.” Neither term by itself accounts for the terrorist act he attempted to perpetrate; both terms, however, are equally complicit in it. It might have been a crapshoot of nature and nurture that wrought a specimen like Shahzad, but it was Islam that inspired him, that gave his fecal stain of a life its depth and its justification. Why is that so difficult to admit?

Let me ask the question another way: Where’s the rage? Why won’t anyone say in public what Ginsberg said in the back seat of that cab? If Islam justifies, or is understood by millions of Muslims to justify, setting off a bomb in Times Square, then I shit on Islam.

There are times for interfaith dialogue, for mutual respect and compassion. This isn’t one of them. Shahzad’s car bomb was parked in front of the offices of Viacom, the parent company of the Comedy Central, which airs the program South Park. Last month, the creators of South Park decided to poke fun at the Prophet Muhammad—just as they’d poked fun at Moses and Jesus many times in the past. Death threats followed. It’s too early to connect the Times Square bomb plot to the South Park blasphemy, but police have not ruled it out.

If Shahzad was offended by an animated cartoon and decided to defend the Prophet’s name by killing hundreds of civilians—mothers with their babies in strollers, wide-eyed teenagers in tour groups, husbands and wives out for a night on the town—then I’ll say, along with the poet, I shit on Muhammad.

Americans characterize our collective deference towards the feelings of Muslims as “political correctness.” The phrase may be apt with respect to certain ethnic and religious minorities, but our tip-toeing around Islamic sensibilities is nothing more than plain, old-fashioned cowardice. MSNBC stooge Lawrence O’Donnell, for example, repeatedly slandered Mormonism during the 2008 presidential campaign as a sidebar to his creepily obsessive verbal jihad against then-candidate Mitt Romney. But when asked by radio host Hugh Hewitt whether he would insult Muhammad the way he’d insulted Joseph Smith, O’Donnell replied with rare candor: “Oh, well, I’m afraid of what the... that’s where I’m really afraid. I would like to criticize Islam much more than I do publicly, but I’m afraid for my life if I do.... Mormons are the nicest people in the world. They’ll never take a shot at me. Those other people, I’m not going to say a word about them.”

That’s the problem in a nutshell. But it’s not just O’Donnell’s problem. It’s our problem. America’s problem. The West’s problem. We lack the moral courage to walk the walk, to put our individual lives on the line in order to defend the principles of free thought and free expression—the very principles that allowed the Judeo-Christian West to leave the Islamic East in the dust, literally and figuratively, three centuries ago.

When Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered for producing a short movie critical of Islam’s treatment of women in 2004, where were the public screenings of the film? When Muslims in several countries rioted against pen and ink images of Muhammad printed in a Danish newspaper in 2005, where were the public billboards of those sketches? And when the creators of South Park trotted out the Prophet in a ridiculous bear costume, and received death threats in return, where were the mass-produced tee shirts of that image?

I’ll take a size-medium, cotton if possible, and I’ll wear it in Times Square.

Since 2001, many Americans have asked how they can contribute in a direct way to the war against totalitarian Islam. Now we have an answer. If it’s legal, and likely to offend the radicals, just do it. That seems straightforward enough. But how many of us will have the nerve to stand up to a million or so Muslim dirtbags, and to scores of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of their fellow travelers and psychic enablers, and say in unison, “You want to kill the Enlightenment, you’re going to have to come through me.”

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« Reply #67 on: May 16, 2010, 08:44:42 AM »

I have a newfound respect for Allen Ginsburg.
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« Reply #68 on: September 01, 2010, 08:08:35 AM »

Editor's Note: The controversy over a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan has spurred a wider debate about the nature of Islam. We asked six leading thinkers to answer the question: What is moderate Islam?


The Ball Is in Our Court
By Anwar Ibrahim

Skeptics and cynics alike have said that the quest for the moderate Muslim in the 21st century is akin to the search for the Holy Grail. It's not hard to understand why. Terrorist attacks, suicide bombings and the jihadist call for Muslims "to rise up against the oppression of the West" are widespread.

The radical fringe carrying out such actions has sought to dominate the discourse between Islam and the West. In order to do so, they've set out to foment anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. They've also advocated indiscriminate violence as a political strategy. To cap their victory, this abysmal lot uses the cataclysm of 9/11 as a lesson for the so-called enemies of Islam.

These dastardly acts have not only been tragedies of untold proportions for those who have suffered or perished. They have also delivered a calamitous blow to followers of the Muslim faith.

These are the Muslims who go about their lives like ordinary people—earning their livings, raising their families, celebrating reunions and praying for security and peace. These are the Muslims who have never carried a pocketknife, let alone explosives intended to destroy buildings. These Muslims are there for us to see, if only we can lift the veil cast on them by the shadowy figures in bomb-laden jackets hell-bent on destruction.

These are mainstream Muslims—no different from the moderate Christians, Jews and those of other faiths—whose identities have been drowned by events beyond their control. The upshot is a composite picture of Muslims as inherently intolerant, antidemocratic, inward-looking and simply unable to coexist with other communities in the modern world. Some say there is only one solution: Discard your beliefs and your tradition, and embrace pluralism and modernity.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
The Ottoman-era Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
.This prescription is deeply flawed. The vast majority of Muslims already see themselves as part of a civilization that is heir to a noble tradition of science, philosophy and spirituality that places paramount importance on the sanctity of human life. Holding fast to the principles of democracy, freedom and human rights, these hundreds of millions of Muslims fervently reject fanaticism in all its varied guises.

Yet Muslims must do more than just talk about their great intellectual and cultural heritage. We must be at the forefront of those who reject violence and terrorism. And our activism must not end there. The tyrants and oppressive regimes that have been the real impediment to peace and progress in the Muslim world must hear our unanimous condemnation. The ball is in our court.

Mr. Ibrahim is Malaysia's opposition leader.



A History of Tolerance
By Bernard Lewis

A form of moderation has been a central part of Islam from the very beginning. True, Muslims are nowhere commanded to love their neighbors, as in the Old Testament, still less their enemies, as in the New Testament. But they are commanded to accept diversity, and this commandment was usually obeyed. The Prophet Muhammad's statement that "difference within my community is part of God's mercy" expressed one of Islam's central ideas, and it is enshrined both in law and usage from the earliest times.

This principle created a level of tolerance among Muslims and coexistence between Muslims and others that was unknown in Christendom until after the triumph of secularism. Diversity was legitimate and accepted. Different juristic schools coexisted, often with significant divergences.

Sectarian differences arose, and sometimes led to conflicts, but these were minor compared with the ferocious wars and persecutions of Christendom. Some events that were commonplace in medieval Europe— like the massacre and expulsion of Jews—were almost unknown in the Muslim world. That is, until modern times.

Occasionally more radical, more violent versions of Islam arose, but their impact was mostly limited. They did not become really important until the modern period when, thanks to a combination of circumstances, such versions of Islamic teachings obtained a massive following among both governments and peoples.

From the start, Muslims have always had a strong sense of their identity and history. Thanks to modern communication, they have become painfully aware of their present state. Some speak of defeat, some of failure. It is the latter who offer the best hope for change.

For the moment, there does not seem to be much prospect of a moderate Islam in the Muslim world. This is partly because in the prevailing atmosphere the expression of moderate ideas can be dangerous—even life-threatening. Radical groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban, the likes of which in earlier times were at most minor and marginal, have acquired a powerful and even a dominant position.

But for Muslims who seek it, the roots are there, both in the theory and practice of their faith and in their early sacred history.

Mr. Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton, is the author of "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East" (Oxford University Press, 2004).



Don't Call Me Moderate, Call Me Normal
By Ed Husain

I am a moderate Muslim, yet I don't like being termed a "moderate"—it somehow implies that I am less of a Muslim.

We use the designation "moderate Islam" to differentiate it from "radical Islam." But in so doing, we insinuate that while Islam in moderation is tolerable, real Islam—often perceived as radical Islam—is intolerable. This simplistic, flawed thinking hands our extremist enemies a propaganda victory: They are genuine Muslims. In this rubric, the majority, non-radical Muslim populace has somehow compromised Islam to become moderate.

What is moderate Christianity? Or moderate Judaism? Is Pastor Terry Jones's commitment to burning the Quran authentic Christianity, by virtue of the fanaticism of his action? Or, is Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual head of the Shas Party in Israel, more Jewish because he calls on Jews to rain missiles on the Arabs and "annihilate them"?

The pastor and the rabbi can, no doubt, find abstruse scriptural justifications for their angry actions. And so it is with Islam's fringe: Our radicals find religious excuses for their political anger. But Muslim fanatics cannot be allowed to define Islam.

The Prophet Muhammad warned us against ghuluw, or extremism, in religion. The Quran reinforces the need for qist, or balance. For me, Islam at its essence is the middle way in all matters. This is normative Islam, adhered to by a billion normal Muslims across the globe.

Normative Islam is inherently pluralist. It is supported by 1,000 years of Muslim history in which religious freedom was cherished. The claim, made today by the governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia, that they represent God's will expressed through their version of oppressive Shariah law is a modern innovation.

The classical thinking within Islam was to let a thousand flowers bloom. Ours is not a centralized tradition, and Islam's rich diversity is a legacy of our pluralist past.

Normative Islam, from its early history to the present, is defined by its commitment to protecting religion, life, progeny, wealth and the human mind. In the religious language of Muslim scholars, this is known as maqasid, or aims. This is the heart of Islam.

I am fully Muslim and fully Western. Don't call me moderate—call me a normal Muslim.

Mr. Husain is author of "The Islamist" (Penguin, 2007) and co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation, a counterextremist think tank.

Putting Up With Infidels Like Me
By Reuel Marc Gerecht

Moderate Islam is the faith practiced by the parents of my Pakistani British roommate at the University of Edinburgh—and, no doubt, by the great majority of Muslim immigrants to Europe and the United States.

Khalid's mother and father were devout Muslims. His dad prayed five times a day and his mom, who hadn't yet learned decent English after almost 20 years in the industrial towns of West Yorkshire, gladly gave me the impression that the only book she'd ever read was the Quran.

I was always welcome in their home. Khalid's mother regularly stuffed me with curry, peppering me with questions about how a non-Muslim who'd crossed the Atlantic to study Islam could resist the pull of the one true faith.

Determined to keep their children Muslim in a sea of aggressive, alcohol-laden, sex-soaked disbelief, they happily practiced and preached peaceful coexistence—even with an infidel who was obviously leading their son down an unrighteous path.

That is the essence of moderation in any faith: the willingness to exist peacefully, if not exuberantly, alongside nonbelievers who hold repellant views on many sacred subjects.

It is a dispensation that comes fairly easily to ordinary Muslims who have left their homelands to live among nonbelievers in Western democracies. It is harder for Muslims surrounded by their own kind, unaccustomed by politics and culture to giving up too much ground.

Tolerance among traditional Muslims is defined as Christian Europe first defined the idea: A superior creed agrees not to harass an inferior creed, so long as the practitioners of the latter don't become too uppity. Tolerance emphatically does not mean equality of belief, as it now does in the West.

Even in Turkey, where authoritarian secularism has changed the Muslim identity more profoundly than anywhere else in the Old World, a totally secularized Muslim would never call a non-Muslim citizen of the state a Turk. There is a certain pride of place that cannot be shared with a nonbeliever. Wounded pride also does the Devil's work on ecumenicalism. Adjusting to modernity, with its intellectually open borders and inevitable moral chaos, is brutally hard for monotheisms, especially for those accustomed to rule. But it happens.

When I told Khalid's father that his children—especially his daughters—would not worship the faith as he and his wife had done, he told me: "They are living a better life than we have lived. That is enough."

Mr. Gerecht, a former CIA operative, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Don't Gloss Over The Violent Texts
By Tawfik Hamid

In regards to Islam, the words "moderate'" and "radical" are relative terms. Without defining them it is virtually impossible to defeat the latter or support the former.

Radical Islam is not limited to the act of terrorism; it also includes the embrace of teachings within the religion that promote hatred and ultimately breed terrorism. Those who limit the definition of radical Islam to terrorism are ignoring—and indirectly approving of—the Shariah teachings that permit killing apostates, violence against women and gays, and anti-Semitism.

Moderate Islam should be defined as a form of Islam that rejects these violent and discriminatory edicts. Furthermore, it must provide a strong theological refutation for the mainstream Islamic teaching that the Muslim umma (nation) must declare wars against non-Muslim nations, spreading the religion and giving non-Muslims the following options: convert, pay a humiliating tax, or be killed. This violent concept fuels jihadists, who take the teaching literally and accept responsibility for applying it to the modern world.

Moderate Islam must not be passive. It needs to actively reinterpret the violent parts of the religious text rather than simply cherry-picking the peaceful ones. Ignoring, rather than confronting or contextualizing, the violent texts leaves young Muslims vulnerable to such teachings at a later stage in their lives.

Finally, moderate Islam must powerfully reject the barbaric practices of jihadists. Ideally, this would mean Muslims demonstrating en masse all over the world against the violence carried out in the name of their religion.

Moderate Islam must be honest enough to admit that Islam has been used in a violent manner at several stages in history to seek domination over others. Insisting that all acts in Islamic history and all current Shariah teachings are peaceful is a form of deception that makes things worse by failing to acknowledge the existence of the problem.

Mr. Hamid, a former member of the Islamic radical group Jamma Islamiya, is an Islamic reformer and a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.


Mystics, Modernists and Literalists
By Akbar Ahmed

In the intense discussion about Muslims today, non-Muslims often say to me: "You are a moderate, but are there others like you?"

Clearly, the use of the term moderate here is meant as a compliment. But the application of the term creates more problems than it solves. The term is heavy with value judgment, smacking of "good guy" versus "bad guy" categories. And it implies that while a minority of Muslims are moderate, the rest are not.

Having studied the practices of Muslims around the world today, I've come up with three broad categories: mystic, modernist and literalist. Of course, I must add the caveat that these are analytic models and aren't watertight.

Muslims in the mystic category reflect universal humanism, believing in "peace with all." The 13th-century Sufi poet Rumi exemplifies this category. In his verses, he glorifies worshipping the same God in the synagogue, the church and the mosque.

The second category is the modernist Muslim who believes in trying to balance tradition and modernity. The modernist is proud of Islam and yet able to live comfortably in, and contribute to, Western society.

Most Muslim leaders who led nationalist movements in the first half of the 20th century were modernists—from Sultan Mohammed V, the first king of independent Morocco, to M.A. Jinnah, who founded Pakistan in 1947. But as modernists failed over time, becoming increasingly incompetent and corrupt, the literalists stepped into the breach.

The literalists believe that Muslim behavior must approximate that of the Prophet in seventh-century Arabia. Their belief that Islam is under attack forces many of them to adopt a defensive posture. And while not all literalists advocate violence, many do. Movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Taliban belong to this category.

In the Muslim world the divisions between the three categories I have delineated are real. The outcome of their struggle will define Islam's fate.

The West can help by understanding Muslim society in a more nuanced and sophisticated way in order to interact with it wisely and for mutual benefit. The first step is to categorize Muslims accurately.

Mr. Ahmed, the former Pakistani ambassador to Britain, is the chair of Islamic studies at American University and author of "Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam" (Brookings, 2010).

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prentice crawford
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« Reply #69 on: September 07, 2010, 01:14:46 AM »

 Oh, for pete's sake!

  www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39032043/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia

                     P.C.
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Rarick
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« Reply #70 on: September 07, 2010, 03:35:10 AM »

Yeah- for Pete's sake......

Let the troops know what is happening and broadcast this stuff, the radicalized haters who will act out are exactly the ones we need to kill..........  Meantime the Quran burners are indulging in the same freedom of speech as the Iranian President indulges in.........
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« Reply #71 on: September 07, 2010, 09:32:55 AM »

This just in.......


The existence of non-muslims found to inflame, provoke muslims.  rolleyes
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« Reply #72 on: September 07, 2010, 03:02:17 PM »



http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2010/09/06/burning-korans-im-agin-it/
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« Reply #73 on: September 09, 2010, 08:01:27 AM »

Minister wants Obama to become Ameer-ul-Momineen
Published: September 02, 2010
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ISLAMABAD – In a development that could be duly termed as one and only of its kind, an incumbent Government’s Minister has urged US President Barrack Obama to offer Eid prayers at Ground Zero Mosque and become “Ameer-ul-Momineen” of Muslim Ummah.
Minister of State for Industries and former member Pakistan Ideological Council Ayatullah Durrani called TheNation on Wednesday to register his demand made to President Obama.
“The coming Eid would expectedly be observed on 9/11, this a golden opportunity for President Obama to offer Eid prayers at Ground Zero and become Amir-ul-Momineen or Caliph of Muslims. In this way, all the problems of Muslim World would be solved,” he thought.
Durrani argued that Muslim World was in “dire need” of a Caliph and the distinguished slot of Caliphate would earn President Obama the exemplary titles of what he termed, “Mullah Barrack Hussain Obama” or “Allama Obama.” “The time is approaching fast. Barrack Hussain Obama must act now. This is a golden opportunity, Muslims badly need it,” he added, saying that the elevation of President Obama to Muslim’s Caliphate would be the “key to success.”
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« Reply #74 on: September 09, 2010, 10:45:14 AM »

http://michellemalkin.com/2010/09/09/what-else-is-new-muslim-initiates-burn-the-stars-and-stripes-day/

What else is new?
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« Reply #75 on: September 09, 2010, 02:14:09 PM »

I guess if the pastor simply painted a picture of the quran burning and dipped it in urine. He could call it art and apply for a NEA grant.
I am so glad Hillary weighed in on this.
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« Reply #76 on: September 09, 2010, 07:18:30 PM »

We have race baiting Reverends.  Now we have religious baiting "imams".

What a racket!  This is becoming a tried and true business model.

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« Reply #77 on: September 10, 2010, 11:42:48 AM »

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/285123/christians_in_gaza_fear_for_their_lives.html

What if muslims started burning bibles and crucifixes? Oh, wait.....
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« Reply #78 on: September 16, 2010, 08:33:40 AM »

Robert Wright is the author of two wonderful books I have read on evolutionary psychology, The Moral Animal and Non-Zero Sum, and also "The Evolution of God" which I have not read.  His thoughts here are of a different tenor than most of what we see on this forum concerning Islam, but are none the less worthy for consideration for it.

==================================

The Meaning of the Koran
By ROBERT WRIGHT



.
Test your religious literacy:

Which sacred text says that Jesus is the “word” of God? a) the Gospel of John; b) the Book of Isaiah; c) the Koran.

The correct answer is the Koran. But if you guessed the Gospel of John you get partial credit because its opening passage — “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God” — is an implicit reference to Jesus. In fact, when Muhammad described Jesus as God’s word, he was no doubt aware that he was affirming Christian teaching.

Extra-credit question: Which sacred text has this to say about the Hebrews: God, in his “prescience,” chose “the children of Israel … above all peoples”? I won’t bother to list the choices, since you’ve probably caught onto my game by now; that line, too, is in the Koran.

I highlight these passages in part for the sake of any self-appointed guardians of Judeo-Christian civilization who might still harbor plans to burn the Koran. I want them to be aware of everything that would go up in smoke.

But I should concede that I haven’t told the whole story. Even while calling Jesus the word of God — and “the Messiah” — the Koran denies that he was the son of God or was himself divine. And, though the Koran does call the Jews God’s chosen people, and sings the praises of Moses, and says that Jews and Muslims worship the same God, it also has anti-Jewish, and for that matter anti-Christian, passages.

The regrettable parts of the Koran — the regrettable parts of any religious scripture — don’t have to matter.
.This darker side of the Koran, presumably, has already come to the attention of would-be Koran burners and, more broadly, to many of the anti-Muslim Americans whom cynical politicians like Newt Gingrich are trying to harness and multiply. The other side of the Koran — the part that stresses interfaith harmony — is better known in liberal circles.

As for people who are familiar with both sides of the Koran — people who know the whole story — well, there may not be many of them. It’s characteristic of contemporary political discourse that the whole story doesn’t come to the attention of many people.

Thus, there are liberals who say that “jihad” refers to a person’s internal struggle to do what is right. And that’s true. There are conservatives who say “jihad” refers to military struggle. That’s true, too. But few people get the whole picture, which, actually, can be summarized pretty concisely:

Reading the scripture.The Koran’s exhortations to jihad in the military sense are sometimes brutal in tone but are so hedged by qualifiers that Muhammad clearly doesn’t espouse perpetual war against unbelievers, and is open to peace with them. (Here, for example, is my exegesis of the “sword verse,” the most famous jihadist passage in the Koran.) The formal doctrine of military jihad — which isn’t found in the Koran, and evolved only after Muhammad’s death — does seem to have initially been about endless conquest, but was then subject to so much amendment and re-interpretation as to render it compatible with world peace. Meanwhile, in the hadith — the non-Koranic sayings of the Prophet — the tradition arose that Muhammad had called holy war the “lesser jihad” and said that the “greater jihad” was the struggle against animal impulses within each Muslim’s soul.

Why do people tend to hear only one side of the story? A common explanation is that the digital age makes it easy to wall yourself off from inconvenient data, to spend your time in ideological “cocoons,” to hang out at blogs where you are part of a choir that gets preached to.

Makes sense to me. But, however big a role the Internet plays, it’s just amplifying something human: a tendency to latch onto evidence consistent with your worldview and ignore or downplay contrary evidence.

This side of human nature is generally labeled a bad thing, and it’s true that it sponsors a lot of bigotry, strife and war. But it actually has its upside. It means that the regrettable parts of the Koran — the regrettable parts of any religious scripture — don’t have to matter.

After all, the adherents of a given religion, like everyone else, focus on things that confirm their attitudes and ignore things that don’t. And they carry that tunnel vision into their own scripture; if there is hatred in their hearts, they’ll fasten onto the hateful parts of scripture, but if there’s not, they won’t. That’s why American Muslims of good will can describe Islam simply as a religion of love. They see the good parts of scripture, and either don’t see the bad or have ways of minimizing it.

So too with people who see in the Bible a loving and infinitely good God. They can maintain that view only by ignoring or downplaying parts of their scripture.

For example, there are those passages where God hands out the death sentence to infidels. In Deuteronomy, the Israelites are told to commit genocide — to destroy nearby peoples who worship the wrong Gods, and to make sure to kill all men, women and children. (“You must not let anything that breathes remain alive.”)

As for the New Testament, there’s that moment when Jesus calls a woman and her daughter “dogs” because they aren’t from Israel. In a way that’s the opposite of anti-Semitism — but not in a good way. And speaking of anti-Semitism, the New Testament, like the Koran, has some unflattering things to say about Jews.

Devoted Bible readers who aren’t hateful ignore or downplay all these passages rather than take them as guidance. They put to good use the tunnel vision that is part of human nature.

All the Abrahamic scriptures have all kinds of meanings — good and bad — and the question is which meanings will be activated and which will be inert. It all depends on what attitude believers bring to the text. So whenever we do things that influence the attitudes of believers, we shape the living meaning of their scriptures. In this sense, it’s actually within the power of non-Muslim Americans to help determine the meaning of the Koran. If we want its meaning to be as benign as possible, I recommend that we not talk about burning it. And if we want imams to fill mosques with messages of brotherly love, I recommend that we not tell them where they can and can’t build their mosques.

Of course, the street runs both ways. Muslims can influence the attitudes of Christians and Jews and hence the meanings of their texts. The less threatening that Muslims seem, the more welcoming Christians and Jews will be, and the more benign Christianity and Judaism will be. (A good first step would be to bring more Americans into contact with some of the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are in fact not threatening.)

You can even imagine a kind of virtuous circle: the less menacing each side seems, the less menacing the other side becomes — which in turn makes the first side less menacing still, and so on; the meaning of the Abrahamic scriptures would, in a real sense, get better and better and better.

Lately, it seems, things have been moving in the opposite direction; the circle has been getting vicious. And it’s in the nature of vicious circles that they’re hard to stop, much less reverse. On the other hand, if, through the concerted effort of people of good will, you do reverse a vicious circle, the very momentum that sustained it can build in the other direction — and at that point the force will be with you.

Postscript: The quotations of the Koran come from Sura 4:171 (where Jesus is called God’s word), and Sura 44:32 (where the “children of Israel” are lauded). I’ve used the Rodwell translation, but the only place the choice of translator matters is the part that says God presciently placed the children of Israel above all others. Other translations say “purposefully,” or “knowingly.”  By the way, if you’re curious as to the reason for the Koran’s seeming ambivalence toward Christians and Jews:

By my reading, the Koran is to a large extent the record of Muhammad’s attempt to bring all the area’s Christians, Jews and Arab polytheists into his Abrahamic flock, and it reflects, in turns, both his bitter disappointment at failing to do so and the many theological and ritual overtures he had made along the way. (For a time Muslims celebrated Yom Kippur, and they initially prayed toward Jerusalem, not Mecca.) That the suras aren’t ordered chronologically obscures this underlying logic.
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« Reply #79 on: September 16, 2010, 08:39:02 AM »

Second post:
http://evolutionofgod.net/swordverse

Here is the exegis Wright mentions in my previous post-- I am left with wondering whether Muslims define Christians concept of Jesus as polytheism:

excerpt from
Chapter 17


* * *
Right-wing Web sites devoted to showing the “truth about Islam” array searing verses that seem to show the Koran offering a nearly unlimited license to kill. (A few years after 9/11, a list of “the Koran’s 111 Jihad verses” was posted on the conservative Web site freerepublic.com.) But the closer you look at the context of these verses, the more limited the license seems.

The passage most often quoted is the fifth verse of the ninth sura, long known to Muslims as the “Sword verse.” It was cited by Osama bin Laden in a famous manifesto issued in 1996, and on first reading it does seem to say that bin Laden would be justified in hunting down any non-Muslim on the planet. The verse is often translated colloquially—particularly on these right-wing Web sites—as “kill the infidels wherever you find them.”

This common translation is wrong. The verse doesn’t actually mention “infidels” but rather refers to “those who join other gods with God”—which is to say, polytheists. So, bin Laden notwithstanding, the “Sword verse” isn’t the strongest imaginable basis for attacking Christians and Jews.

Still, even if the Sword verse wasn’t aimed at Christians and Jews, it is undeniably bloody: “And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush.” It seems that a polytheist’s only escape from this fate is to convert to Islam, “observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms.”

But the next verse, rarely quoted by either jihadists or right-wing Web sites, suggests that conversion isn’t actually necessary: “If any one of those who join gods with God ask an asylum of thee, grant him an asylum, that he may hear the Word of God, and then let him reach his place of safety.” After all, polytheists are “people devoid of knowledge.”

And the following verse suggests that whole tribes of polytheists can be spared if they’re not a military threat. If those “who add gods to God” made “a league [with the Muslims] at the sacred temple,” then “so long as they are true to you, be ye true to them; for God loveth those who fear Him.” For that matter, the verse immediately before the Sword verse also takes some of the edge off it, exempting from attack “those polytheists with whom ye are in league, and who shall have afterwards in no way failed you, nor aided anyone against you.”

In short, “kill the polytheists wherever you find them” doesn’t mean “kill the polytheists wherever you find them.” It means “kill the polytheists who aren’t on your side in this particular war.”

Presumably, particular wars were the typical context for the Koran’s martial verses—in which case Muhammad’s exhortations to kill infidels en masse were short-term motivational devices. Indeed, sometimes the violence is explicitly confined to the war’s duration: “When ye encounter the infidels, strike off their heads till ye have made a great slaughter among them, and of the rest make fast the fetters. And afterwards let there either be free dismissals or ransomings, till the war hath laid down its burdens.”

Of course, if you quote the first half of that verse and not the second half—as both jihadists and some western commentators might be tempted to do—this sounds like a death sentence for unbelievers everywhere and forever. The Koran contains a number of such eminently misquotable lines. Repeatedly Muhammad makes a declaration that, in unalloyed form, sounds purely belligerent—and then proceeds to provide the alloy. Thus: “And think not that the infidels shall escape Us! . . . Make ready then against them what force ye can, and strong squadrons whereby ye may strike terror into the enemy of God and your enemy.” Then, about thirty words later: “And if they lean to peace, lean thou also to it; and put thy trust in God.”

If the Koran were a manual for all-out jihad, it would deem unbelief by itself sufficient cause for attack. It doesn’t. Here is a verse thought to be from the late Medinan period: “God doth not forbid you to deal with kindness and fairness toward those who have not made war upon you on account of your religion, or driven you forth from your homes: for God loveth those who act with fairness. Only doth God forbid you to make friends of those who, on account of your religion, have warred against you, and have driven you forth from your homes, and have aided those who drove you forth.”

Besides, even when enmity is in order, it needn’t be forever: “God will, perhaps, establish good will between yourselves and those of them whom ye take to be your enemies: God is Powerful: and God is Gracious.”
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« Reply #80 on: September 16, 2010, 11:43:37 AM »

The Wahabis do definitely define the christian trinity as polytheism. Robert Wright is no islamic scholar, and his weak attempts at defanging islamic theology are wrong and embarrassingly ignorant of what the koran, sunna and hadith teach muslims.
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« Reply #81 on: September 16, 2010, 12:58:13 PM »

Instead of trying to sell his hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya b.s. here, Robert Wright needs to go to the muslim world and convince them of the peaceful and moderate nature of islamic theology.

He can start with the cleric below.


http://www.jihadwatch.org/2008/05/jordanian-muslim-cleric-islam-will-rule-the-world-america-will-fall.html
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« Reply #82 on: September 27, 2010, 08:07:16 AM »

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2010/09/05/ , , , though I think the example of ending the Iran-Iraq War well wide of the mark , , ,

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2010/09/09/ et seq
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« Reply #83 on: October 27, 2010, 12:42:58 PM »

Robert Wright has written two outstanding books on evolutionary psychology:

The Moral Animal, and
Non-Zero Sum, the logic of human destiny

Here is his piece from today's POTH.  Is he right?  If not, where is he wrong?
=========================
As if we needed more evidence of America’s political polarization, last week Juan Williams gave the nation a Rorschach test. Williams said he gets scared when people in “Muslim garb” board a plane he’s on, and he promptly got (a) fired by NPR and (b) rewarded by Fox News with a big contract.

Suppose Williams had said something hurtful to gay people instead of to Muslims. Suppose he had said gay men give him the creeps because he fears they’ll make sexual advances. NPR might well have fired him, but would Fox News have chosen that moment to give him a $2-million pat on the back?

I don’t think so. Playing the homophobia card is costlier than playing the Islamophobia card. Or at least, the costs are more evenly spread across the political spectrum. In 2007, when Ann Coulter used a gay slur, she was denounced on the right as well as the left, and her stock dropped. Notably, her current self-promotion campaign stresses her newfound passion for gay rights.

Coulter’s comeuppance reflected sustained progress on the gay rights front. Only a few decades ago, you could tell an anti-gay joke on the Johnny Carson show — with Carson’s active participation — and no one would complain. (See postscript below for details.) The current “it gets better” campaign, designed to reassure gay teenagers that adulthood will be less oppressive than adolescence, amounts to a kind of double entrendre: things get better not just over an individual’s life but over the nation’s life.

When we move from homophobia to Islamophobia, the trendline seems to be pointing in the opposite direction. This isn’t shocking, given 9/11 and the human tendency to magnify certain kinds of risk. (Note to Juan Williams: Over the past nine years about 90 million flights have taken off from American airports, and not one has been brought down by a Muslim terrorist. Even in 2001, no flights were brought down by people in “Muslim garb.”)

A few decades ago, people all over America knew and liked gay people — they just didn’t realize they were gay.
.Still, however “natural” this irrational fear, it’s dangerous. As Islamophobia grows, it alienates Muslims, raising the risk of homegrown terrorism — and homegrown terrorism heightens the Islamophobia, which alienates more Muslims, and so on: a vicious circle that could carry America into the abyss. So it’s worth taking a look at why homophobia is fading; maybe the underlying dynamic is transplantable to the realm of inter-ethnic prejudice.

Theories differ as to what it takes for people to build bonds across social divides, and some theories offer more hope than others.

One of the less encouraging theories grows out of the fact that both homophobia and Islamophobia draw particular strength from fundamentalist Christians. Maybe, this argument goes, part of the problem is a kind of “scriptural determinism.” If religious texts say that homosexuality is bad, or that people of other faiths are bad, then true believers will toe that line.

If scripture is indeed this powerful, we’re in trouble, because scripture is invoked by intolerant people of all Abrahamic faiths — including the Muslim terrorists who plant the seeds of Islamophobia. And, judging by the past millennium or two, God won’t be issuing a revised version of the Bible or the Koran anytime soon.

Happily, there’s a new book that casts doubt on the power of intolerant scripture: “American Grace,” by the social scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell.

Three decades ago, according to one of the many graphs in this data-rich book, slightly less than half of America’s frequent churchgoers were fine with gay people freely expressing their views on gayness. Today that number is over 70 percent — and no biblical verse bearing on homosexuality has magically changed in the meanwhile. And these numbers actually understate the progress; over those three decades, church attendance was dropping for mainline Protestant churches and liberal Catholics, so the “frequent churchgoers” category consisted increasingly of evangelicals and conservative Catholics.

So why have conservative Christians gotten less homophobic? Putnam and Campbell favor the “bridging” model. The idea is that tolerance is largely a question of getting to know people. If, say, your work brings you in touch with gay people or Muslims — and especially if your relationship with them is collaborative — this can brighten your attitude toward the whole tribe they’re part of. And if this broader tolerance requires ignoring or reinterpreting certain scriptures, so be it; the meaning of scripture is shaped by social relations.

The bridging model explains how attitudes toward gays could have made such rapid progress. A few decades ago, people all over America knew and liked gay people — they just didn’t realize these people were gay. So by the time gays started coming out of the closet, the bridge had already been built.

And once straight Americans followed the bridge’s logic — once they, having already accepted people who turned out to be gay, accepted gayness itself — more gay people felt comfortable coming out. And the more openly gay people there were, the more straight people there were who realized they had gay friends, and so on: a virtuous circle.

So could bridging work with Islamophobia? Could getting to know Muslims have the healing effect that knowing gay people has had?

The good news is that bridging does seem to work across religious divides. Putnam and Campbell did surveys with the same pool of people over consecutive years and found, for example, that gaining evangelical friends leads to a warmer assessment of evangelicals (by seven degrees on a “feeling thermometer” per friend gained, if you must know).

And what about Muslims? Did Christians warm to Islam as they got to know Muslims — and did Muslims return the favor?

That’s the bad news. The population of Muslims is so small, and so concentrated in distinct regions, that there weren’t enough such encounters to yield statistically significant data. And, as Putnam and Campbell note, this is a recipe for prejudice. Being a small and geographically concentrated group makes it hard for many people to know you, so not much bridging naturally happens. That would explain why Buddhists and Mormons, along with Muslims, get low feeling-thermometer ratings in America.

In retrospect, the situation of gays a few decades ago was almost uniquely conducive to rapid progress. The gay population, though not huge, was finely interspersed across the country, with  representatives in virtually every high school, college and sizeable workplace. And straights had gotten to know them without even seeing the border they were crossing in the process.

So the engineering challenge in building bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims will be big. Still, at least we grasp the nuts and bolts of the situation. It’s a matter of bringing people into contact with the “other” in a benign context. And it’s a matter of doing it fast, before the vicious circle takes hold, spawning appreciable homegrown terrorism and making fear of Muslims less irrational.

After 9/11, philanthropic foundations spent a lot of money arranging confabs whose participants spanned the divide between “Islam” and “the West.” Meaningful friendships did form across this border, and that’s good. It’s great that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a cosmopolitan, progressive Muslim, got to know lots of equally cosmopolitan Christians and Jews.

But as we saw when he decided to build an Islamic Community Center near ground zero, this sort of high-level networking — bridging among elites whose attitudes aren’t really the problem in the first place — isn’t enough. Philanthropists need to figure out how you build lots of little bridges at the grass roots level. And they need to do it fast.

Postscript: As for the Johnny Carson episode: I don’t like to rely on my memory alone for decades-old anecdotes, but in this case I’m 99.8 percent sure that I remember the basics accurately. Carson’s guest was the drummer Buddy Rich. In a supposedly spontaneous but obviously pre-arranged exchange, Rich said something like, “People often ask me, What is Johnny Carson really like?” Carson looked at Rich warily and said, “And how do you respond to this query?” But he paused between “this” and “query,” theatrically ratcheting up the wariness by an increment or two, and then pronounced the word “query” as “queery.” Rich immediately replied, “Like that.” Obviously, there are worse anti-gay jokes than this. Still, the premise was that being gay was something to be ashamed of. That Googling doesn’t turn up any record of this episode suggests that it didn’t enter the national conversation or the national memory. I don’t think that would be the case today. And of course, anecdotes aside, there is lots of polling data showing the extraordinary progress made since the Johnny Carson era on such issues as gay marriage and on gay rights in general.


On another note: Here’s my review of “American Grace”. (I should note that the authors’ exposition of the “bridging” dynamic comes in the context of interfaith tolerance, not gay-straight tolerance. But I have little doubt that they think the dynamic applies to both contexts.)


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« Reply #84 on: October 27, 2010, 08:29:23 PM »

I forget, did Ann Coulter have to go into hiding after making an anti-gay statement? How many buildings are missing from the Manhattan skyline because of radical homosexuals? Gays tend to inflict lots of violence on their fellow gays, as well as fatal viriii, but but aside from some ugly anti-christian acts, tend not to harm the greater public, to the best of my knowledge.

Is this really that hard to figure out?
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« Reply #85 on: October 27, 2010, 09:50:32 PM »

Well duh, no.  Wright here presents a very common line of thought, so I am hoping for a nice little outline of the counter syllogism. smiley
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« Reply #86 on: October 27, 2010, 10:14:54 PM »

There are stupid people and then there are smart people who choose to be stupid because it wins them approval they are seeking from certain others. Robert Wright is obviously trying for the latter. He isn't interested in facts. The information is easily available and obvious to anyone who wanted to spend 5 minutes researching the topic. His integrity clearly means less to him than his need for approval from the left. He isn't interested in logic or facts in this matter.
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« Reply #87 on: October 28, 2010, 09:02:44 AM »

I don't think Williams was expressing a phobia (irrational fear) of Muslims.  He was IMO expressing a rational wish to not die in a plane crash.  The intent of the horror of 9/11 and other attacks was not for the .001% of Americans who were killed, but to place the fear in the other 300 million people here and billions around the globe.  Juan Williams was saying that effect is still there for him.  The only issue is whether he should or should not have reported his honest feeling publicly.  The blame doesn't go to Juan Williams or to the peaceful Muslims, it goes to the people who so dramatically created that link.

Some gay people have a gay agenda and want something from the rest of us politically.  Most gay people want life liberty and pursuit of happiness like the rest of us.  Some non-gays see the gay acts as unnatural and repulsive.  Some express those real feelings honestly and get ripped for it.  But GM already said it, no gay movement we know of is intentionally associating gayness or gay agenda with death to America or danger on airplanes.

Regardless of the author's other good works, this comparison is based on a false premise.
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« Reply #88 on: October 28, 2010, 10:23:58 AM »

I emailed Robert Wright this yesterday:

Islamaphobia?


Is her fear irrational?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/17/us/17cartoon.html

A cartoonist in Seattle who promoted an “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” last spring is now in hiding after her life was threatened by Islamic extremists.

The cartoonist, Molly Norris, has changed her name and has stopped producing work for a local alternative newspaper, Seattle Weekly, according to the newspaper’s editor, Mark D. Fefer.

Mr. Fefer declined an interview request Thursday, citing “the sensitivity of the situation.” But in a letter to readers about Ms. Norris on Wednesday, he said that “on the insistence of top security specialists at the F.B.I., she is, as they put it, ‘going ghost’: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity.”
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« Reply #89 on: October 29, 2010, 02:00:09 PM »

I emailed Robert Wright this yesterday:

Islamaphobia?


Is her fear irrational?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/17/us/17cartoon.html

A cartoonist in Seattle who promoted an “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” last spring is now in hiding after her life was threatened by Islamic extremists.

The cartoonist, Molly Norris, has changed her name and has stopped producing work for a local alternative newspaper, Seattle Weekly, according to the newspaper’s editor, Mark D. Fefer.

Mr. Fefer declined an interview request Thursday, citing “the sensitivity of the situation.” But in a letter to readers about Ms. Norris on Wednesday, he said that “on the insistence of top security specialists at the F.B.I., she is, as they put it, ‘going ghost’: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity.”


No response thus far. I sent this today:


Keeping in mind the news today, would you feel afraid to get on a plane with a package mailed by a muslim? If you did, would that be an irrational fear?
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« Reply #90 on: October 29, 2010, 04:13:19 PM »

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/maldives/8095705/You-are-swine-and-infidels-.-.-.-secret-insults-at-wedding-blessing-in-paradise.html

The couple chose an idyllic resort in the Maldives as the perfect place to renew their marriage vows and pledge everlasting love.

But their happiness has turned to humiliation after the wedding video was posted on YouTube and subtitles disclosed that their "Islamic blessing", which was conducted by a hotel employee in the native Dhivehi language, was in fact a stream of insults.

"You are swine. The children that you bear from this marriage will all be bastard swine. Your marriage is not a valid one," he intoned as the couple held up their hands in prayer, blissfully unaware of what was being said.

Dismissing them as pork-eating "infidels", the employee went on: "You are not the kind of people who can have a valid marriage. One of you is an infidel. The other too is an infidel and, we have reason to believe, an atheist who does not even believe in an infidel religion.

"You fornicate and make a lot of children. You drink and you eat pork. Most of the children that you have are marked with spots and blemishes."

Several other staff members were present at the ceremony but said nothing. One appeared to be stifling a laugh.

The "celebrant", identified as Hussein Didi, made reference to bestiality and "frequent fornication by homosexuals". Close inspection of the official-looking document in front of him reveals it to be a copy of the staff employment regulations.

The video was shot by hotel employees who can be heard sniggering in the background and debating whether or not the bride is wearing a bra. "Don't look at the breasts!" says one as the bride leans over in her white wedding gown to plant a coconut palm. "My beard has gone grey watching those things. I have seen so many of them now that I don't even want to look any more when I see them."
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« Reply #91 on: October 29, 2010, 04:35:42 PM »

http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/098.qmt.html

098.006
YUSUFALI: Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures.
PICKTHAL: Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings.
SHAKIR: Surely those who disbelieve from among the followers of the Book and the polytheists shall be in the fire of hell, abiding therein; they are the worst of men.
____________________________________________

005.056
YUSUFALI: As to those who turn (for friendship) to Allah, His Messenger, and the (fellowship of) believers,- it is the fellowship of Allah that must certainly triumph.
PICKTHAL: And whoso taketh Allah and His messenger and those who believe for guardian (will know that), lo! the party of Allah, they are the victorious.
SHAKIR: And whoever takes Allah and His messenger and those who believe for a guardian, then surely the party of Allah are they that shall be triumphant.

005.057
YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! take not for friends and protectors those who take your religion for a mockery or sport,- whether among those who received the Scripture before you, or among those who reject Faith; but fear ye Allah, if ye have faith (indeed).
PICKTHAL: O Ye who believe! Choose not for guardians such of those who received the Scripture before you, and of the disbelievers, as make a jest and sport of your religion. But keep your duty to Allah if ye are true believers.
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not take for guardians those who take your religion for a mockery and a joke, from among those who were given the Book before you and the unbelievers; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah if you are believers.

005.058
YUSUFALI: When ye proclaim your call to prayer they take it (but) as mockery and sport; that is because they are a people without understanding.
PICKTHAL: And when ye call to prayer they take it for a jest and sport. That is because they are a folk who understand not.
SHAKIR: And when you call to prayer they make it a mockery and a joke; this is because they are a people who do not understand.

005.059
YUSUFALI: Say: "O people of the Book! Do ye disapprove of us for no other reason than that we believe in Allah, and the revelation that hath come to us and that which came before (us), and (perhaps) that most of you are rebellious and disobedient?"
PICKTHAL: Say: O People of the Scripture! Do ye blame us for aught else than that we believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed aforetime, and because most of you are evil-livers?
SHAKIR: Say: O followers of the Book! do you find fault with us (for aught) except that we believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed before, and that most of you are transgressors?

005.060
YUSUFALI: Say: "Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from Allah? those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil;- these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!"
PICKTHAL: Shall I tell thee of a worse (case) than theirs for retribution with Allah? (Worse is the case of him) whom Allah hath cursed, him on whom His wrath hath fallen and of whose sort Allah hath turned some to apes and swine, and who serveth idols. Such are in worse plight and further astray from the plain road.
SHAKIR: Say: Shall I inform you of (him who is) worse than this in retribution from Allah? (Worse is he) whom Allah has cursed and brought His wrath upon, and of whom He made apes and swine, and he who served the Shaitan; these are worse in place and more erring from the straight path.

005.061
YUSUFALI: When they come to thee, they say: "We believe": but in fact they enter with a mind against Faith, and they go out with the same but Allah knoweth fully all that they hide.
PICKTHAL: When they come unto you (Muslims), they say: We believe; but they came in unbelief and they went out in the same; and Allah knoweth best what they were hiding.
SHAKIR: And when they come to you, they say: We believe; and indeed they come in with unbelief and indeed they go forth with it; and Allah knows best what they concealed.

005.062
YUSUFALI: Many of them dost thou see, racing each other in sin and rancour, and their eating of things forbidden. Evil indeed are the things that they do.
PICKTHAL: And thou seest many of them vying one with another in sin and transgression and their devouring of illicit gain. Verily evil is what they do.
SHAKIR: And you will see many of them striving with one another to hasten in sin and exceeding the limits, and their eating of what is unlawfully acquired; certainly evil is that which they do.

005.063
YUSUFALI: Why do not the rabbis and the doctors of Law forbid them from their (habit of) uttering sinful words and eating things forbidden? Evil indeed are their works.
PICKTHAL: Why do not the rabbis and the priests forbid their evil-speaking and their devouring of illicit gain? Verily evil is their handiwork.
SHAKIR: Why do not the learned men and the doctors of law prohibit them from their speaking of what is sinful and their eating of what is unlawfully acquired? Certainly evil is that which they work.

005.064
YUSUFALI: The Jews say: "Allah's hand is tied up." Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter. Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched: He giveth and spendeth (of His bounty) as He pleaseth. But the revelation that cometh to thee from Allah increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. Amongst them we have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment. Every time they kindle the fire of war, Allah doth extinguish it; but they (ever) strive to do mischief on earth. And Allah loveth not those who do mischief.
PICKTHAL: The Jews say: Allah's hand is fettered. Their hands are fettered and they are accursed for saying so. Nay, but both His hands are spread out wide in bounty. He bestoweth as He will. That which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord is certain to increase the contumacy and disbelief of many of them, and We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguisheth it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loveth not corrupters.
SHAKIR: And the Jews say: The hand of Allah is tied up! Their hands shall be shackled and they shall be cursed for what they say. Nay, both His hands are spread out, He expends as He pleases; and what has been revealed to you from your Lord will certainly make many of them increase in inordinacy and unbelief; and We have put enmity and hatred among them till the day of resurrection; whenever they kindle a fire for war Allah puts it out, and they strive to make mischief in the land; and Allah does not love the mischief-makers.

005.065
YUSUFALI: If only the People of the Book had believed and been righteous, We should indeed have blotted out their iniquities and admitted them to gardens of bliss.
PICKTHAL: If only the People of the Scripture would believe and ward off (evil), surely We should remit their sins from them and surely We should bring them into Gardens of Delight.
SHAKIR: And if the followers of the Book had believed and guarded (against evil) We would certainly have covered their evil deeds and We would certainly have made them enter gardens of bliss

005.066
YUSUFALI: If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course: but many of them follow a course that is evil.
PICKTHAL: If they had observed the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto them from their Lord, they would surely have been nourished from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them there are people who are moderate, but many of them are of evil conduct.
SHAKIR: And if they had kept up the Taurat and the Injeel and that which was revealed to them from their Lord, they would certainly have eaten from above them and from beneath their feet there is a party of them keeping to the moderate course, and (as for) most of them, evil is that which they do

_______________________________________________

007.166
YUSUFALI: When in their insolence they transgressed (all) prohibitions, We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."
PICKTHAL: So when they took pride in that which they had been forbidden, We said unto them: Be ye apes despised and loathed!
SHAKIR: Therefore when they revoltingly persisted in what they had been forbidden, We said to them: Be (as) apes, despised and hated.
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« Reply #92 on: October 29, 2010, 04:47:35 PM »

http://www.americanthinker.com/2005/01/allahs_special_little_apes_and.html

January 26, 2005
Allah's special little apes and pigs
By James Arlandson

It has been bandied about in the media that Islamic fanatics shriek that Allah turned certain Jews into apes and pigs. Is this true?

If it is, where does this harsh polemics come from? Do they get it from the hadith (Muhammad's sayings and deeds outside of the Quran)? From later traditions? From thin air?

Sadly, fanatics get it from the Quran itself, in three different verses: 7:166, 2:60, and 5:65.

To show how, we follow a specific method of exegesis (detailed analysis of a text), where relevant. First, the historical context of the three verses is explained, so their meaning can be made clear. Second, the literary context of each one is described, so we do not take them out of context—a frequent reflexive reaction from Muslims. Third, we quote them from a reputable Muslim translator, not a Western one, so that the Muslims speak for themselves in their sacred book. Fourth, we explain the content of the verse itself, such as key words. Fifth, we compare them with a passage or two from the New Testament, so we can put Islam into a clear perspective. And finally we look at how fanatics use the verses.

Sura 7:166

The historical context of this sura (chapter) is Muhammad's persecution by his fellow Meccans before his Hijrah or Emigration from Mecca to Medina in AD 622. Still, despite this persecution, Muhammad seeks to demonstrate that his revelations are superior to the Torah and Moses, and this brings us to the literary context, which is far more revealing of the content of Sura 7:166 than the historical context.

After recounting the stories of various prophets, Muhammad comes to Moses (v. 103) and sketches out Moses' mission: he liberates the Children of Israel from the grip of Pharaoh (vv. 103—137); he encounters God on Mt. Sinai on which he receives the Two Tablets (vv. 142—147); and finally he confronts Israel's transgression in worshipping the golden calf (148—156). Now Muhammad turns to himself and asserts that the Torah (and the Gospels) describes himself and his Quran; he is now the one who commands people to do good and forbids them to do wrong; that is, he is the one who is rightly guided and who now fulfills and completes Moses (and Jesus).

Muhammad then recounts a legend—not found in the Talmudists—about Jews fishing or working on the Sabbath in a town that tradition says was located on the Red Sea (vv. 163—167). God made fish appear on the surface only on the Sabbath, never on weekdays. This tempted some Jewish fishermen to break their holy day of rest, ignoring their teachers' warnings. The Sabbath—breakers become so arrogant and deep in their violations that God addresses�them in the royal 'We':

7:166 But when even after this they disdainfully persisted in that from which they �were forbidden, We said to them, 'Become apes—despised and disgraced!' (Maududi)

The question is: should this verse be taken literally or metaphorically? That is, were these Jews physically transformed? This question is better answered in two later passages, chronologically speaking, in the Quran.

Sura 2:65

The historical context of Sura 2:65, as far as this can be determined, sees the founding of the Muslim community in Medina, a year or two after the Hijrah. Muhammad works hard at reconciling his message with the earlier religion of Judaism—indeed, he sees himself as a reformer of both Judaism and Christianity. But the Jews do not receive his message for two major reasons: he is a Gentile, and his knowledge of the Torah is confused. But the polemics�have not yet heated up, at least not as much as�they will be.

Thus, the literary context of Sura 2:65, having as its background the fishermen's legend in Sura 7:163—166, says that if the People of the Book (Jews and Christians, but he deals mostly with Jews in Medina) believe in Allah, the Last Day, and do good, they will not suffer at judgment. However, Muhammad issues a warning against Sabbath—breakers. Allah through Muhammad addresses the Jews as 'you' and refers to himself in the royal 'We':

2:65 And you know well the story of those among you who broke Sabbath. We said to them: 'Be apes—despised and hated by all.'� 66 Thus We made their end a warning to the people of their time and succeeding generation, and an admonition for God—fearing people. (Maududi)

So the question, again, is—does this passage support the literal or figurative transformation of the Jews?

Modern commentators with the exception of Maududi explain that this transformation is a metaphor. For example, M.A.S. Abdel Haleem says in his notes in his Oxford University Press translation (2004) that it is a figure of speech. The radical Egyptian Sayyid Qutb, who was tried and executed for plotting to overthrow the Egyptian government, says that one does not need to be concerned with whether the metamorphosis was physical, for the Jews' minds and spirits fell into a beastly state. He is also honest enough to say, though, that the Arabic implies that it really happened physically, e.g. 'Be apes,' not 'be as or like apes.' Two commentators and apologists, Muhammad Yusuf Ali and Maulana Muhammad Ali, in both of their translations and commentaries, take it figuratively, inserting the softening words 'as' and 'like.'

But the hadith and earlier commentators believe that Allah transformed them literally. For example, Ibn Ishaq, an early and reliable biographer of Muhammad, takes the metamorphosis literally, and he has Muhammad calling the Medinan Jewish clan, Qurayzah, 'brothers of monkeys.' Medieval commentator Ibn Kathir references Ibn Abbas, Muhammad's cousin, who interpreted this metamorphosis literally, implying that Muhammad did too. The Iranian Medieval commentator Razi, widely respected even today, speculates that perhaps the 'accidents' or appearances of the Jews were changed, but they kept their mental awareness. Even the Medieval mystic and commentator Ibn Arabi says that the transformation, at its base, is real and not metaphorical, though he puts mystical spins on the verse.

Maududi the modern scholar agrees with the classics: 'In my opinion their bodies were transformed into those of apes, but their human minds were left intact in order to subject them to extreme torture.' He says of the Arabic wording: 'The words of the Qur'an . . . indicate that it was not a moral but a physical metamorphosis.'

More important than all of these is Muhammad. Did he take this transformation literally or metaphorically? A hint is found in v. 66. He needs to hold over the heads of his enemies (and the God—fearing people) this miraculous act and threaten them with the same punishment. It is a very special historical case designed to warn people. It must be seen as an object lesson, and in this case the objects are the literally changed Jews.

Also, Muhammad is constantly incorporating tall tales into his Quran, which too often make Jews look bad, such as the fiction about Moses and Khidir, a servant (so named in Islamic tradition, but not in the Quran). Khidir leads Moses around by the nose, so to speak, revealing to the baffled prophet the divine purposes of Allah (Sura 18:60—82). The clear message: Muhammad is better than Moses. Hence, a physical metamorphosis in v. 65 would fit with such passages that make Jews look bad.

Thus, it is Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad's cousin Ibn Abbas, the classical commentators, and Maududi, agreeing with Muhammad, who correctly interpret these verses, not the moderns.

Sura 5:60

The historical context of Sura 5:60 is difficult to pin down. It may have been revealed five to seven years after the Hijrah, or some scholars place it a year or two later. Whatever the exact timeframe, Muhammad's polemic against the Jews heats up, since time has elapsed after his Hijrah, and the confrontations have increased. In fact, he has expelled by now two major Jewish clans from Medina, the Qaynuqa and the Nadir; and if the later date of Sura 5 is acceptable, then he has beheaded around 600 male Jews of the Qurayzah clan. (For more information on these violent expulsions and this atrocity, see this article.)

Thus, the literary context of Sura 5:60, having as its background the fishermen's legend in Sura 7:163—166, sees Muhammad exhorting his Muslims not to take as allies those who ridicule his religion and make fun of it—whether they are People of the Book or unbelievers (v. 57). This verse reflects historical reality, for sometimes a few Jews and unbelievers would in fact make fun of his revelations. He then issues another warning, similar to the one in 2:65, against the Jews who are on the verge of being severely punished, just as the Jews in the past were, when they were transformed into apes and pigs. Allah is commanding his prophet to 'say' the following:

5:60 Say: 'Shall I tell you [People of the Book] who will receive a worse reward from God? Those whom God has cursed and with whom He has been angry, transforming them into apes and swine, and those who serve the devil. Worse is the plight of these, and they have strayed farther from the right path.' (Dawood)

The Jews are said to be turned into apes and swine for generally disbelieving in Muhammad's revelations—in this case warning them for resenting Muhammad and his Quran (v. 59). The wording of this verse differs from the previous two verses, for here Muhammad matter—of—factly reports that Allah was angry with certain ones, 'transforming' them into apes and swine; he does not give the command, 'Be apes!' This report should leave no doubt that Muhammad believed that this actually happened physically as a warning and an object lesson.

Finally, we can get a clearer perspective on Islam if we compare it with Christianity.

To begin with, Yusuf Ali in his commentary on Sura 5:60 is terribly mistaken when he compares the Quranic verse with Matt. 8:28—32, in which demons went into swine, after Jesus cast them out from two poor, possessed men. Jesus commanding demons to go into a herd of swine is far different from Allah turning Jews into apes and swine. But Yusuf Ali's comparison shows how far Muslim apologists will go in order to defend the ambiguities in their sacred book.

Next, Jesus calls Jewish religious leaders a 'brood of vipers' (Matt. 12:34) and 'snakes' and again a 'brood of vipers' (Matt. 23:33), but the differences between Muhammad's epithets and Christ's are profound.

First, on an historical and sociological level (setting aside theology), Jesus himself was a Jewish religious leader, beginning a new 'movement' within Israel, so he was dealing with his own community. Muhammad, on the other hand, was an outsider to Judaism, not a Jew, but a Gentile. Thus, an insider (Jesus) speaking emotionally to his own household is different from a stranger (Muhammad) storming into the house and forcing holiness onto the occupants.

Second, not even a wisp of a faint hint suggests that Jesus took his denunciation literally. He is simply following a tradition of prophetic denunciations found, say, in the Book of Enoch or in Elijah or the other prophets. After all, in Matt. 23:27—part of the literary context of 23:33—he likens the religious leaders to whitewashed tombs, but he does not believe that they literally are. Furthermore, in a gentler metaphor he refers to his people as sheep (John 10:14), but he does not believe that they literally are. Muhammad, on the other hand, indicates by his wording in Arabic and by the literary context that some Jews were actually and literally turned into apes and swine as a special punishment, to warn people. Thus, the original Greek in the Gospel of Matthew does not say, 'Be a brood of vipers!' Rather, Jesus uses a straightforward epithet, 'You brood of vipers!' The Quran, in contrast, says: 'Be apes!' as in 'presto—change—o!'

Consequently, no reputable priest or pastor or scholar today in Christianity ever discusses whether these Jewish religious leaders were actually turned into snakes and vipers—or whether the common people were turned into sheep. However, in Islam today, scholars discuss this sort of transformation precisely because of the Arabic in Suras 2:65—66, 5:60, and 7:163—166, and because of the literary context of each passage indicates an actual, physical metamorphosis.

This brings us to the last and most important point. All of the discussion over whether the transformation was literal or figurative, according to the moderns or the earlier commentators and Maududi, is really academic, for the terrorists and non—violent fanatics shriek that the transmogrification dehumanizes Jews today—a replay of Nazi propaganda.

At the Sheikh Ijlin Mosque in Gaza, Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris, employee in the Religious Affairs Ministry in the Palestinian Authority, uses the Battle of Badr (AD 624) as a rallying cry for his fellow jihadists to fight the Jews, who are the descendants of apes and pigs.

Then came the great battle of Badr, where the Muslims grew stronger. This brought the third stage of dealing with the Jewish existence in Al—Madina. We have tolerated you for a long time — you offspring of apes and pigs! We have tolerated you for a long time.

The Imam of the Al—Haram mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Abd Al—Rahman Al—Sudayis, explained in one of his sermons:

Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil forefathers of the even more evil Jews of today: infidels, falsifiers of words, calf worshippers, prophet murderers, deniers of prophecies . . . the scum of the human race, accursed by Allah, who turned them into apes and pigs . . . These are the Jews — an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption . . .

At the same link, Sheikh Muhammad Al—Saleh Al—'Athimein said in a sermon at the Great Mosque in Al—'Unayza, Arabia:

O Muslims, the Jews are treacherous and deceitful people over whom lies the curse and anger of Allah. They permitted what Allah forbade, with the lamest of excuses; therefore, He cursed them and turned them into apes and pigs. Allah sentenced them to humiliation anywhere they might be . . . .�

Note how the Sheikh draws the inference for today: 'Allah sentenced them to humiliation anywhere they might be.' This means the Jews of today.

Finally, it is not all bad news in the Muslim world. The editor of an Egyptian weekly condemns�an exhibit that placed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion next to the Torah. The 'circles' are the ideologues and journalists who present the Middle East conflict by using Medieval anti—Semitic legends:

[These circles] do not flinch from disseminating, espousing, and publishing all the legends that were common in medieval Europe in order to justify Europe's persecution of the Jews because of their monopoly in financial activity and money—lending, one of which was the 'matza of blood' that the Jews [allegedly] prepare on Passover from the blood of a gentile child. These circles disseminate among Muslims the perception that all the modern Jews are the offspring of the Jews who violated the word of the Prophet Moses, whose prayer Allah then answered and turned [the Jews] into apes and pigs. [These circles also say] that the Jews are responsible for their forefathers' crime, the crucifixion of Jesus. They embraced, and still warmly embrace, the stupid book 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' fabricated by the advocates of the Czarist tyranny in Russia to arouse hatred of the Jews because many of them were participating in revolutionary activity against the [Czarist] empire.

However, in another place in the article the editor still believes that the Palestinians are oppressed, while the Israelis are the oppressors, so the positive article goes only so far.

Can the Islamic world be reformed? It seems that (semi)moderate voices like this Egyptian editor's are rare. But the liberation of Iraq, as well as of Afghanistan, is encouraging. Maybe in a few decades when (or if) a free press soaks the dry ground, we will hear more moderate views, and maybe they will prevail.

Jim Arlandson (PhD) teaches introductory philosophy and world religions at a college in southern California. He has published a book, Women, Class, and Society in Early Christianity (Hendrickson, 1997).�
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« Reply #93 on: October 30, 2010, 03:05:41 PM »



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7KSHy34zyY&feature=player_embedded
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« Reply #94 on: October 30, 2010, 09:18:18 PM »

http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2010/10/saturday-night-card-game-bill-maher-out.html

Waiting for the left to Juan Williams Bill Maher......



Yup, any time now.



**crickets**
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« Reply #95 on: December 31, 2010, 02:23:54 AM »

This evening I was watching the Bret Baier Special Report on FOX (my idea of a good news program FWIW).  My 11 year old son was reading and my eight year old daughter was playing on the living room floor.  A piece on Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was on and my daughter started asking some serious questions.  How fascinating to watch an empty cup mind engage with questions-- as is the experience of answering the questions honestly judgemental way (everything is not relative/morally equivalent/arbitary.) yet also establishing open mind thought patterns.

The next piece was on Afpakia and the complex dance there of the Whackostans, the Afghans, the Paks, and the US. 

Again the questions came.  How to explain to an eight year old?  huh  I tried talking about religous crazies and what they did to people in the name of God.   The concept was hard for her to grasp.  I tried explaining that they kill girls who want to learn to read and kill their teachers too because they think God says so and will reward them with heaven when they kill go impose God's word.

"But Dad, then the girls won't be educated!"

"They say God does not want the girls educated.  They like bossing them around."

"Well, if they want someone to boss around, why don't they get a golden retriever?  They like learning to take commands."

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« Reply #96 on: January 12, 2011, 03:30:16 AM »

The Muslim Brotherhood in the West
Oct 28th 2010 | from PRINT EDITION of The Economist


Two books with a very different approach

The Muslim Brotherhood: The Burden of Tradition. By Alison Pargeter. Saqi; 248 pages; £20. To be published in America by Saqi in January; $29.95. Buy from Amazon.com, buy from Amazon.co.UK

WHICH Muslims should Western governments engage with, and which should they shun? Since the bombings in New York and Washington on September 11th 2001, and the later attacks in Madrid and London, few questions have been so urgent or have generated such fevered debate. Some experts and government officials—Lorenzo Vidino, in the first of these books, calls them the optimists—argue for dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement born in Egypt in the 1920s which now has a worldwide network of followers and institutions. A countervailing school—the pessimists, to whom Mr Vidino is closer—suggests that the Brothers are wolves in sheep’s clothing, sharing much of the militants’ agenda but hiding behind a mask of doublespeak.

Mr Vidino, who recently joined the RAND Corporation, a research outfit in Washington, DC, has in the past prophesied, in sometimes strident tones, that the Brotherhood’s ultimate goal is to extend Islamic law throughout Europe and America. He has berated those who fail to see the danger as hopelessly naive. His book is more restrained. He allows the “optimists” their say and acknowledges that the West faces a genuine dilemma in forming a judgment about such a big, baggy movement which speaks with many voices.

Though he remains a sceptic, he provides a wealth of information to let the rest of us make up our minds. He explains how in the 1950s a small, tightly knit band of Brothers successfully transplanted the movement to Europe. Led by Said Ramadan, the son-in-law of the Brotherhood’s Egyptian founder, these pioneers turned Geneva and Munich into the hubs of a network of mosques and institutions lubricated with Saudi funding.

A similar process was at work in the United States, and here Mr Vidino’s charge-sheet may give even optimists pause. He makes extensive use of court documents from the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a Texas-based Muslim charity convicted in 2008 of channelling money to the Palestinian group, Hamas. Mr Vidino believes the documents reveal the existence of a wide and hitherto secret Brotherhood network with links to two of America’s best-known Muslim organisations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America. Both groups deny having such links, and have long condemned terrorism in unequivocal terms.

As for his bolder claim—that the movement aims at nothing less than the spread of Islamic law through Europe and America—Alison Pargeter, a Cambridge scholar and author of the second of these books, considers this scaremongering. Her book is shorter and more measured than Mr Vidino’s, and she has a surer grasp of the political dynamics of the Middle East, the soil from which the Brotherhood sprang. As her subtitle suggests, she regards it as an essentially reactionary movement unable to break with its past. Its hallmarks are pragmatism, opportunism and an ambivalent attitude towards the uses of violence.

The difference in the two authors’ approach is exemplified by their treatment of a document found by the Swiss authorities in 2001 at the home of a senior Brotherhood financier. The Arabic document, dated December 1982 and widely known as “The Project”, sets out what Mr Vidino regards as the movement’s strategy for global dominion. Ms Pargeter sees it as a “fairly mundane wish list”. The portrait of the Brotherhood that emerges from her book is scarcely attractive but it is a weaker, more fractured thing than the sleekly dangerous creature depicted by Mr Vidino.

Should the West engage with the Brothers? On this, perhaps surprisingly, the two authors agree. The Islamists have become “part of the furniture”, as Ms Pargeter puts it; besides, there are few credible alternatives. It is better to talk to them, carefully and without illusions.

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« Reply #97 on: February 17, 2011, 08:43:04 PM »

By DONALD J. KOCHAN
At this time of unrest and transition in the Arab world, the United States's capacity to communicate core values of democracy and individual liberty is a priority. Our capability to translate them into Arabic is a necessity. We need to expose the Arab world to the fundamental texts of Western political and philosophical thought. Indeed, the export of ideas may be the most valuable commodity we have to offer.

Of course we hear similar sentiments often. But our seduction by the power of the Internet has distracted us from remembering the power of books.

Twenty-five years ago, the U.S. State Department initiated a little-known but very important project, the Arabic Book Program. It primarily operates out of our embassies in Cairo and Amman, and the U.S. Consulate General's office in Jerusalem. As the State Department explains, the objective is "translating into Arabic, publishing and distributing selected books from American writers in various areas, including economics, management sciences, politics, humanities, arts, and the environment."

 Global View Columnist Bret Stephens reveals the disturbing history of one of Egypt's rising powers.
.A March 2010 State Department Inspector General Report stated that the Cairo and Amman embassies operate the translation program, but that it "is relatively small, translating 6 to 10 titles each year." In addition, the title selection committee "meets every six months." This is hardly a rigorous production schedule, and it demonstrates a lack of serious commitment to the project.

Quality is also an issue. Despite a stated intent to do so, the Arabic Book Program has not prioritized its limited resources on primary source documents of political philosophy or books that constitute expositions on core principles that can assist struggling nations.

The "in stock" publications available from the embassy in Amman, for example, include only one text from the American founding, "The Federalist Papers." That's a good choice, but Publius cannot carry the weight alone.

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Our seduction by the power of the Internet has distracted us from remembering the power of books. The export of ideas may be the most valuable commodity we have to offer.
.To its credit, the program has translated Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" and Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America." But these are not listed as in stock. In contrast, available titles currently circulating include things like the popular environmental studies textbook "Who Pays the Price? The Sociocultural Context of the Environmental Crisis" and novelist Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club."

Notably missing are translations of John Locke's "Second Treatise of Government" and many other influential classics of Western liberal thought. Search the program's collections and you will not find Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations," but you will find a more recent book called "The Natural Wealth of Nations: Harnessing the Market for the Environment."

The Arabic Book Program was a good idea that was never taken far enough. A 2002 United Nations Arab Human Development Report noted that, "Translation is one of the most important channels for the dissemination of information and communication with the rest of the world." It added that, "The translation movement in the Arab world, however, remains static and chaotic."

The report explained that in the Arab world fewer than five translated books per million people were published in the early 1980s, while a corresponding rate in a country like Hungary was 519 translated books per million. Little has changed in the past three decades.

These failures need correction. The ongoing revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere are a stark reminder of the exigency involved. The State Department program should start doing more and better now.

Mr. Kochan is an associate professor of law at Chapman University.

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G M
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« Reply #98 on: February 17, 2011, 08:53:39 PM »

It'll be good news when any pro-western book comes close to the popularity of "Mein Kampf" in the muslim world.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #99 on: February 17, 2011, 09:06:40 PM »

I think the piece is on to a very important point.  Much thinking in the Arab world is a result of what is learned in the aftermath of the suppression of free speech.  I would REALLY like to see A LOT of this.
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