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Communicating with the Muslim World
Topic: Communicating with the Muslim World (Read 21665 times)
Re: Communicating with the Muslim World
Reply #100 on:
February 17, 2011, 09:31:52 PM »
Can anyone show that there is a demand for these books in the muslim world?
Re: Communicating with the Muslim World
Reply #101 on:
February 17, 2011, 10:21:16 PM »
The hurdles faced in reform.
Re: Communicating with the Muslim World
Reply #102 on:
February 17, 2011, 11:30:03 PM »
The enemies of freedom are patient.
Moral power is part of the American mix. We don't fight nearly as well without it as with it.
Re: Communicating with the Muslim World
Reply #103 on:
February 18, 2011, 07:50:01 AM »
Hollywood & Holy War
Reply #104 on:
March 15, 2011, 08:49:02 AM »
“We should never lose sight of the fact that, no matter how entertaining a picture may be or how much money it may make, it can do our country a great deal of harm if it plays into the hands of our enemies.” – Samuel Goldwyn, Hollywood producer
In 2006, five American soldiers raped and murdered a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdered other members of her family. The participants were convicted by U.S. civilian or military courts and sentenced to up to 110 years each; the ringleader, Steven Dale Green, is serving life without possibility of parole.
This horrific crime, rather than any of the countless selfless and heroic incidents performed by the U.S. military in our current wars, served as inspiration for filmmaker Brian De Palma’s 2007 barely-fictionalized movie version called Redacted. De Palma may have been the director of such popular fare as Scarface and Mission:Impossible, but American audiences showed exactly how they felt about this vile denigration of our warriors: Redacted scraped in a career-killing box office pittance of $25,000 on opening weekend.
But don’t underestimate the film’s impact abroad. John Rosenthal at Pajamas Media reports confirmation that the Muslim shooter who killed two American soldiers and wounded a third at the Frankfurt Airport earlier this month in an act of terrorism was inspired by YouTube clips from Redacted. They were presented as actual footage – along with Arabic music, text, and voiceover – in a propaganda video posted under the title “American Soldiers Rape our Sisters! Awake Oh Ummah.” (The ummah is the worldwide Muslim community.)
For better or worse, Hollywood has been called the greatest propaganda machine in human history. But what propaganda is it sending out about America and fundamentalist Islam? About terrorism? About our military and the war effort? Are Hollywood’s messages promoting our values, cultural vigor and national unity? Or are they playing into the hands of our enemy, as Samuel Goldwyn warned against?
While writing the screenplay for the movie Superman Returns several years ago, the screenwriters and director deliberately changed Superman’s classic credo – “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” – to “truth, justice, and all that stuff,” because they felt the phrase “American Way” has become loaded and outdated. The film grossed $391 million worldwide, spreading the message that Hollywood filmmakers, and presumably Americans in general, can’t even bring themselves to say “the American Way” with an unconflicted sense of pride that would have been taken for granted decades ago.
Every time Hollywood sends out such weak, apologetic cultural signals or makes such anti-American propaganda as George Clooney’s Syriana, which has been used as a recruitment tool to radicalize young Muslims; or Leonardo DiCaprio’s spy thriller Body of Lies, which puts our CIA on the same low moral footing as terrorists; or Matt Damon’s political action thriller The Green Zone, which revisits the tired leftist fantasy that America went to war in Iraq on the basis of a Bush lie; every time Hollywood produces such ideologically subversive fare, the message is reinforced here and abroad that we are the bad guys, and that our geopolitical meddling, not global jihad, is the genesis of Islamic terrorism.
Every time Hollywood rewrites history to suit its narrative of moral equivalence – as with the Crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven, which suggests that Christians are ruthless hypocrites, Muslims are religiously tolerant, and no one has a legitimate claim to Jerusalem – then Hollywood betrays historical truth, undercuts our moral standing and empowers our enemy.
Every time Hollywood dismisses the war on terror as “the politics of fear” and portrays Muslims as victims of our Islamophobia – as in an episode of The Simpsons, in which Midwestern oaf Homer falsely suspects a local Muslim couple of plotting to blow up a mall, or in the movie Flightplan, in which star Jodie Foster falsely accuses Arab airline passengers of kidnapping her daughter – the world takes note and Islamism advances.
And every time Hollywood churns out another anti-war movie that depicts our soldiers and their families struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, like Tobey McGuire’s Brothers, it confirms for the world what Usama bin Laden always says: The American soldier is a paper tiger. He is weak and fears death. We, on the other hand, love death more than life. We brought down one superpower – Russia – and we can bring down America.
Meanwhile the Islamists are feeding each other a steady diet of fist-pumping propaganda videos of infidels being beheaded, sniper attacks on soldiers in Iraq, paramilitary training, religious exhortations to kill Jews and Americans – and Hollywood depictions of American soldiers as raping, murdering occupiers.
Our conflict with fundamentalist Islam is the epic, defining challenge of our time. We’re at war with an enemy that, unlike us, has absolutely no crisis of confidence, no capacity for apology, and no anguished need to be liked by the rest of the world. Hollywood, post-9/11, too often undermines America in that fight at home and abroad, in ways both subtle and sweeping. It is broadcasting signals to a receptive world that we lack the cultural confidence, the moral authority, and the will to oppose evil – and that, like a dying animal, we are now easy prey for the jackals.
WSJ: What BO should say
Reply #105 on:
May 19, 2011, 12:04:35 PM »
By JAMES K. GLASSMAN
AND JUAN ZARATE
The twin events of the Arab Spring and the death of Osama bin Laden provide President Obama with an unprecedented opportunity to reshape the distorted narrative that the West is at war with Islam. His speech today, addressed mainly to the world's one and a half billion Muslims, is a perfect moment to establish a clear new story line—one that puts Muslims, and not the U.S., at the center of events in the Middle East and South Asia.
During our time in government, we put heavy emphasis on pushing back against the pernicious ideology of America's enemies. We believed that to make America safe we had to prevail in a war of ideas. But we also learned quickly that it was ineffective simply to say: "You're wrong when you accuse us of trying to destroy your religion. It's clear that we are good, tolerant people."
Despite the declining popularity of al Qaeda over the past few years and the change in American administrations, the prevailing and persistent narrative among Muslim communities is that the U.S. and the West in general are trying to destroy Islam and humiliate and marginalize Muslims. Once someone believes this narrative, he interprets events in any way necessary to fit into that framework.
Thus the American intervention to save Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s is ignored or explained away. Or, when the U.S. sends troops to Indonesia on a humanitarian mission to distribute food after a devastating tsunami, rumors sweep the country that the true objective is to lay the groundwork for conquering the nation in the name of Christianity.
The only way to answer a false narrative is to develop a true one, to promote it heavily, and to wait until events make the alternate narrative so broadly self-evident that it supplants the old one. In this case, the true narrative is that there is an epochal conflict occurring. It is not a "clash of civilizations," as Samuel Huntington described the confrontation between Islam and the West, but rather a "clash within a civilization"—that is, within Muslim communities themselves.
This narrative properly removes the U.S. from center-stage, and it allows Muslims to assume responsibility for critical events unfolding in their countries rather than feeling like impotent bystanders.
There are two conflicts that make up this clash within a civilization and both have become much clearer in the wake of the Arab Spring. The first is between believers in the great religion of Islam and violent Islamist extremists. The second struggle is between Muslims and others in the Middle East striving for freedom against autocratic rulers. When justice in this long battle finally prevails—when al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups are defeated and when freedom and democracy triumph—the victory will be justifiably a source of Muslim pride and renewal.
Though neither of these conflicts is about the U.S. directly, both affect us, as we learned on 9/11. For moral and national security reasons, we must be involved by supporting those fighting ideological oppression. Yet in the end, the conflicts have to be resolved by Muslims themselves.
The message that Americans will continue to help the forces of pluralism and moderation should have been the focus of President Obama's Cairo speech two years ago. Unfortunately, the president played into the prevailing narrative, apologizing for past American action in sweeping terms.
Worse, the resulting policy of engagement with autocratic regimes in the Middle East sacrificed our principles for the false hope of diplomatic breakthroughs. For instance, America tried actively to engage with repressive rulers in Iran, Syria and elsewhere; we reduced financial backing for civil society advocates in Egypt; and we failed to provide vigorous moral and material support to pro-democracy dissidents in Iran before they were crushed.
The good news is that the groundwork that had been laid previously (in large part during the Bush administration) and, more important, the will of Muslims themselves, have begun to pay off. The new narrative of a conflict within a civilization has emerged without any apparent assistance from U.S. strategic communicators. One handmade protest sign in Egypt summed it up: "Why enslave people? We're born free."
Meanwhile, the dramatic events in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere show that President George W. Bush was right when he said that "freedom is universal" and that the "untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world." Muslims desire and deserve freedom as much as everyone else. (A new Pew poll finds that vast majorities in Jordan, Egypt and other Muslim nations believe that democracy is better than any other kind of government.) Muslims aren't condemned to being permanent democratic outliers. The battle for freedom is far from over, but the path is now clear.
President Obama should use his speech to shape this narrative. The story is not about us. It's about brave Muslims fighting for freedom, who, in the end, will triumph.
Mr. Glassman served as under secretary of state for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the George W. Bush administration and is now executive director of the Bush Institute in Dallas. Mr. Zarate was deputy national security advisor for Counter-Terrorism and is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Re: Communicating with the Muslim World
Reply #106 on:
May 19, 2011, 12:08:53 PM »
"There are two conflicts that make up this clash within a civilization and both have become much clearer in the wake of the Arab Spring. The first is between believers in the great religion of Islam and violent Islamist extremists."
Funny, I see would-be reformers from within islam murdered or living under threats of death and the "vast majority of peaceful muslims" have yet to show up to defend them.
Rumbo on Al Jazeera
Reply #107 on:
October 05, 2011, 06:36:20 PM »
Very weak by Rumbo IMHO.
There WERE in house objections to the sufficiency of Rumbo's troop numbers-- General Shikaleli (sp?) who was Ch. of Joint Chief of Staff and it is more than a little disingenuous of Rumbo to say otherwise.
Just a reminder
Reply #108 on:
October 08, 2011, 12:42:58 AM »
This seems a REALLY good idea to me!!!
Reply #109 on:
December 10, 2011, 07:55:15 AM »
WSJ: Arab Democracy
Reply #110 on:
January 03, 2012, 06:59:39 PM »
By Matthew Kaminski
Egypt left a couple of enduring images to finish the year of Arab tumult. There were the long lines of patient faces, each waiting to cast the first meaningful ballot of a lifetime. There was also the young woman at a Cairo protest, beaten to the ground, her black abaya pulled back over her head to reveal a blue bra. A conscript's boot stomps down on her exposed torso.
Arab brute or Arab voter? It's an easy choice, no matter what the Middle East's experiment with democracy brings. And in Egypt, peaceful elections are throwing up distressing results. In the first two of three stages of parliamentary elections, Islamists have won around 70%; more than a quarter of the vote went to Salafists who practice Osama bin Laden's creed of Islam. Liberals trail behind.
Yet any sort of civilian rule looks better with each day under the hard-knuckled generals, who took over in February from Hosni Mubarak, a general himself. On Thursday, supposedly interim military rulers raided the offices of 17 pro-democracy nonprofit groups, including three funded by the United States. A week before, security forces killed more than a dozen demonstrators.
So, no, elections and new rulers aren't the primary threat to Egypt's stability or future. But certainly the election rout by Islamists frames the challenge ahead. Democracy's success depends in large measure on how Islam (and its self-styled political avatars) adapts to and coexists with pluralistic, free politics. This may require a Muslim reformation, which is no small matter. But then democracy may be the surest route to one.
Islamists have done well before in elections in Turkey and Indonesia, the closest that the Muslim world gets to mature democracies. Hardline parties in Indonesia reached a high mark in 2004, at 21% of the vote, but have fallen off since. After a few turns at the polls, says Anies Baswedan, president of Paramadina University in Jakarta, "people don't vote for you because you're Muslim. People ask, what are you going to deliver for us?"
This is what explains the electoral dominance of Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP), not its roots in political Islam. In the past decade under the AKP, Turkey escaped an IMF-run intensive-care ward and became the world's fastest-growing economy. The rigid Kemalist secularism enforced by a dominant military was partly dismantled. In its place has emerged a more dynamic society, more tolerant of differences. The AKP does have a mild-to-festering authoritarian streak, depending on whom you believe, but that's rooted in Turkish as much as Islamist political culture.
In any case the appeal of political Islam, which grows when religiosity is repressed by nominally secular regimes, tends to diminish over time in Muslim countries with freer politics. Why?
When the state isn't hostile to religion, ideological Islam isn't a bankable political issue. Elections usually turn on more pedestrian matters. The AKP re-election campaign last June was all about the thriving economy.
By supporting Islamist candidates, Egyptians aren't voting for theocracy. Conservative lower- and middle-classes make up majorities that, for decades, were shut out of the establishment. To them, the Islamist brand suggests opposition to corruption and a common touch. For many, a vote for Islam was the most obvious rebuke to the ancien regime in a first free election.
Egypt begins this journey with serious handicaps, and comparisons with Turkey, Indonesia or Tunisia, which launched the Arab Spring early last year, can only stretch so far. Tunisia has a large, educated middle class. Most significantly, perhaps, it also has empowered women who tend to work. October elections were a good mirror to this society and the vote split evenly between moderate Islamists and secular liberal parties. Salafists there are a fringe—unlike in Egypt, where what is now the second-largest party threatens Egypt's large Coptic Christian minority and demands the imposition of Shariah religious law.
Islam can make for an ill fit with modern civil society. You might read almost anything into the Quran and Hadiths, a million or so sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. Some find inspiration for a free market; others for stoning. Muhammad warned against ghuluw (extremism) and pleaded for qist (balance) in religion, yet in recent decades the loudest voices within Islam ignored that advice.
Iranian mullahs, Saudi virtue squads and bin Ladens have drawn on Islam's stricter precepts to justify their totalitarianism. Shariah imposes many religious duties and punishments that are outdated. It doesn't set out rights that deserve protection. It makes few allowances for minorities or dissenters, the sine qua non of liberal democracy.
Political Islam, a good case can be made, is itself a perversion—the reformation in reverse. Calls for Shariah to become state law emerged only in the 20th century, as a result of Islam's encounter with the West. The Quran is politically agnostic and says nothing about the preferable form of government.
After the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, political Islam grew out of the Arab world's experiments with Western-style nationalism and socialism. In his recent book "Islam Without Extremes," Turkish author Mustafa Akyol calls Islamists the "illegitimate sons" of the Muslim world's hardcore secularists. Like Marxists or Fascists, Islamists want to relegate "Islam to a collectivist 'system,' devoid of personal religiosity." From Mr. Akyol's religious perspective, for mere mortals to claim to establish rule by God is sacrilege.
The Muslim Brotherhood probably won't be easily dissuaded. If a future Egyptian or Libyan state is to be built in part on Quranic laws, however, it depends on which aspects of the Quran are chosen. Abdulkarim Soroush, an Iranian religious philosopher, proposes to selectively apply the Quran and Hadiths. This way, he says, Islam can be "humanized."
Mr. Soroush's prescriptions make him a notable Muslim Luther in waiting. After the Iranian revolution, he was Ayatollah Khomeini's leading propagandist and adviser. He broke with Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's current supreme leader, and now lives in suburban Washington, D.C., exile. His experience of the Islamic Republic inspired one of the most thorough critiques of what happens when Islam intrudes into political life. He says the clerics became the worst kind of rulers, feeling "a right and a duty" to impose tyranny. "Islamic democracy" isn't the goal, and it makes no more sense than "Islamic technology." What Muslim countries need, he says, is a "just and democratic Islam."
Imagine a society that respects religious invocations to dress or eat a certain way without imposing them. America is one; not France, whose state-dominated secularism was the model for so many Muslim leaders of the last century. The U.S. is the more religiously vibrant country. Mr. Soroush, who has a wide following in Iran, says that a mosque-state separation serves Islam best. "A religious society becomes more religious as it grows more free and freedom loving, as it trades diehard dogma with examined faith," he writes in his collection of essays, "Reason, Freedom and Democracy in Islam" (2000). "This is the spirit that breaks the tyrannical arm of religious despotism and breathes the soul of free faith in the body of power."
New Arab leaders will have enough headaches of government to occupy them for years. Islam will be just part, hopefully small, of the story of those who undertake democratic reform. Yet this may also be the best chance for another overdue experiment to reconcile Islam with modern politics. No faith that makes strong demands on its practitioners necessarily dooms itself to tyranny. As the former Polish dissident and writer Adam Michnik rather impishly says, "If Judaism can co-exist with democracy, any religion can."
WSJ: The Anwar case in Malaysia
Reply #111 on:
January 08, 2012, 09:36:49 AM »
Email Print Save ↓ More .
.smaller Larger 'We have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals." That was President Obama at the State Department last May, rolling out his own version of the freedom agenda for the Muslim world. So why has the Administration been virtually silent when it comes to one of the most notorious and long-running abuses of power taking place in the Muslim world today—this one in our good friend and ally, Malaysia?
The abuses in question concern Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who on Monday faces a verdict—and potentially years of jail time—on dubious sodomy charges. Mr. Anwar first went through this charade as a deputy prime minister in the late 1990s, when he fell out with then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad during the Asian financial crisis, was savagely beaten by police and ultimately sentenced to prison on sodomy and corruption charges.
Mr. Anwar spent six years in prison. In 2004 the sodomy charges were overturned by the country's highest court—a year after Mr. Mahathir had left office. Yet Mr. Anwar was again served with sodomy charges four years later, after the ruling UMNO party had lost its two-thirds majority and the opposition seemed close to assembling a parliamentary majority.
The current case is even flimsier than the last one. It is based mainly on the word of one accuser who, as it so happened, had met with then-deputy prime minister, now Prime Minister, Najib Razak days before the alleged incident. Doctors at two hospitals could find no evidence of rape in the aftermath of the alleged incident. Nonetheless, political observers anticipate a guilty verdict.
This is happening in the context of growing discontent among Malaysians with UMNO's ruling order, and Mr. Najib's ambivalent attempts at political reform. But if that's reminiscent of the unhappiness that presaged the Arab Spring, so too is the don't-rock-the-boat attitude of the Obama Administration.
Malaysia is supposedly a moderate Muslim country and a useful regional counterweight to China, and the President was full of praise for Mr. Najib's "great leadership" when they last met in November. As for Mr. Anwar, the State Department has publicly offered no more than boilerplate about his case. Perhaps quiet diplomacy is now at work on Mr. Anwar's behalf, but that kind of diplomacy is fine only as long as it produces results.
In the meantime, Malaysian democracy could benefit from a sign that the U.S. is not indifferent to Mr. Anwar's legal ordeal or to the political system that has allowed it to continue. U.S. interests could benefit as well. "Failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people will only feed the suspicion that has festered for years that the United States pursues our own interests at their expense," said Mr. Obama in May. Mr. Anwar's case gives the President a chance to show that he meant what he said.
Re: Communicating with the Muslim World
Reply #112 on:
January 09, 2012, 05:27:28 PM »
Anwar found not guilty
POTH: Culture clash
Reply #113 on:
September 17, 2012, 10:56:10 AM »
CAIRO — Stepping from the cloud of tear gas in front of the American Embassy here, Khaled Ali repeated the urgent question that he said justified last week’s violent protests at United States outposts around the Muslim world.
“We never insult any prophet — not Moses, not Jesus — so why can’t we demand that Muhammad be respected?” Mr. Ali, a 39-year-old textile worker said, holding up a handwritten sign in English that read “Shut Up America.” “Obama is the president, so he should have to apologize!”
When the protests against an American-made online video mocking the Prophet Muhammad exploded in about 20 countries, the source of the rage was more than just religious sensitivity, political demagogy or resentment of Washington, protesters and their sympathizers here said. It was also a demand that many of them described with the word “freedom,” although in a context very different from the term’s use in the individualistic West: the right of a community, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish, to be free from grave insult to its identity and values.
That demand, in turn, was swept up in the colliding crosscurrents of regional politics. From one side came the gale of anger at America’s decade-old war against terrorism, which in the eyes of many Muslims in the region often looks like a war against them. And from the other, the new winds blowing through the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, which to many here means most of all a right to demand respect for the popular will.
“We want these countries to understand that they need to take into consideration the people, and not just the governments,” said Ismail Mohamed, 42, a religious scholar who once was an imam in Germany. “We don’t think that depictions of the prophets are freedom of expression. We think it is an offense against our rights,” he said, adding, “The West has to understand the ideology of the people.”
Even during the protests, some stone throwers stressed that the clash was not Muslim against Christian. Instead, they suggested that the traditionalism of people of both faiths in the region conflicted with Western individualism and secularism.
Youssef Sidhom, the editor of the Coptic Christian newspaper Watani, said he objected only to the violence of the protests.
Mr. Sidhom approvingly recalled the uproar among Egyptian Christians that greeted the 2006 film “The Da Vinci Code,” which was seen as an affront to aspects of traditional Christianity and the persona of Jesus. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and other Arab countries banned both the film and the book on which it was based. And in Egypt, where insulting any of the three Abrahamic religions is a crime, the police even arrested the head of a local film company for importing 2,000 copies of the DVD, according to news reports.
“This reaction is expected,” Mr. Sidhom said of last week’s protests, “and if it had stayed peaceful I would have said I supported it and understood.”
In a context where insults to religion are crimes and the state has tightly controlled almost all media, many in Egypt, like other Arab countries, sometimes find it hard to understand that the American government feels limited by its free speech rules from silencing even the most noxious religious bigot.
In his statement after protesters breached the walls of the United States Embassy last Tuesday, the spiritual leader of the Egypt’s mainstream Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, declared that “the West” had imposed laws against “those who deny or express dissident views on the Holocaust or question the number of Jews killed by Hitler, a topic which is purely historical, not a sacred doctrine.”
In fact, denying the Holocaust is also protected as free speech in the United States, although it is prohibited in Germany and a few other European countries. But the belief that it is illegal in the United States is widespread in Egypt, and the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie, called for the “criminalizing of assaults on the sanctities of all heavenly religions.”
“Otherwise, such acts will continue to cause devout Muslims across the world to suspect and even loathe the West, especially the U.S.A., for allowing their citizens to violate the sanctity of what they hold dear and holy,” he said. “Certainly, such attacks against sanctities do not fall under the freedom of opinion or thought.”
Several protesters said during the heat of last week’s battles here that they were astonished that the United States had not punished the filmmakers. “Everyone across all these countries has the same anger, they are rising up for the same reason and with the same demands, and still no action is taken against the people who made that film,” said Zakaria Magdy, 23, a printer.
In the West, many may express astonishment that the murder of Muslims in hate crimes does not provoke the same level of global outrage as the video did. But even a day after the clashes in Cairo had subsided, many Egyptians argued that a slur against their faith was a greater offense than any attack on a living person.
“When you hurt someone, you are just hurting one person,” said Ahmed Shobaky, 42, a jeweler. “But when you insult a faith like that, you are insulting a whole nation that feels the pain.”
Mr. Mohamed, the religious scholar, justified it this way: “Our prophet is more dear to us than our family and our nation.”
Others said that the outpouring of outrage against the video had built up over a long period of perceived denigrations of Muslims and their faith by the United States or its military, which are detailed extensively in the Arab news media: the invasion of Iraq on a discredited pretext; the images of abuse from the Abu Ghraib prison; the burning or desecrations of the Koran by troops in Afghanistan and a pastor in Florida; detentions without trial at Guantánamo Bay; the denials of visas to prominent Muslim intellectuals; the deaths of Muslim civilians as collateral damage in drone strikes; even political campaigns against the specter of Islamic law inside the United States.
“This is not the first time that Muslim beliefs are being insulted or Muslims humiliated,” said Emad Shahin, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo.
While he stressed that no one should ever condone violence against diplomats or embassies because of even the most offensive film, Mr. Shahin said it was easy to see why the protesters focused on the United States government’s outposts. “There is a war going on here,” he said. “This was a straw, if you will, that broke the camel’s back.
“The message here is we don’t care about your beliefs — that because of our freedom of expression we can demean them and degrade them any time, and we do not care about your feelings.”
There are also purely local dynamics that can fan the flames. In Tunis, an American school was set on fire by protesters angry over the video — but then looted of computers and musical instruments by people in the neighborhood.
Here in Cairo, ultraconservative Islamists known as Salafis initially helped drum up outrage against the video and rally their supporters to protest outside the embassy. But by the time darkness fell and a handful of young men climbed the embassy wall, the Salafis were nowhere to be found, and they stayed away the rest of the week.
Egyptian officials said that some non-Salafis involved in the embassy attacks confessed to receiving payments, although no payer had been identified. But after the first afternoon, the next three days of protests were dominated by a relatively small number of teenagers and young men — including die-hard soccer fans known as ultras. They appeared to have been motivated mainly by the opportunity to attack the police, whom they revile.
Some commentators said they regretted that the violence here and around the region had overshadowed the underlying argument against the offensive video. “Our performance came out like that of a failed lawyer in a no-lose case,” Wael Kandil, an editor of the newspaper Sharouq, wrote in a column on Sunday. “We served our opponents something that made them drop the main issue and take us to the margins — this is what we accomplished with our bad performance.”
Mohamed Sabry, 29, a sculptor and art teacher at a downtown cafe, said he saw a darker picture. “To see the Islamic world in this condition of underdevelopment,” he said, “this is a bigger insult to the prophet.”
Ayaaan Hirsi Ali
Reply #114 on:
September 17, 2012, 12:51:21 PM »
WSJ: How to win an ideological war
Reply #115 on:
September 25, 2012, 11:26:27 AM »
How to Win an Ideological War
Against a fanatical foe, any suggestion of compromise or acceptance of the enemy ideology is taken as a sign of weakness..
By YURI YARIM-AGAEV
On Nov. 9, 1938, thousands of German storm troopers, acting under direct orders, launched the Jewish pogrom known as Kristallnacht. The attacks left approximately 100 Jews dead and 7,500 Jewish businesses damaged. Hundreds of homes and synagogues were vandalized.
The mastermind of the pogrom, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, explained it to the world as a "spontaneous" reaction to the murder of German diplomat by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Jew. Goebbels said the pogrom showed the "healthy instincts" of the German people.
Some Jewish organizations, while strongly condemning German actions, expressed concern about the pogrom's alleged cause. The World Jewish Congress stated that it "deplored the fatal shooting of an official of the German Embassy by a young Polish Jew." These displays of contrition did not help. Kristallnacht was soon followed by the Holocaust, in which more than six million European Jews died.
What can we learn from that tragic history? First, atrocities on such a scale are rarely "spontaneous." They require preparation and organization. Equally important is the lesson that accepting enemy propaganda makes us look weak and shortsighted. Any appreciation of the pretexts for such atrocities makes their perpetrators bolder and more aggressive.
Unfortunately, these lessons have not been learned. America's ambassador to Libya is dead, U.S. embassies in Egypt and other Muslim countries are under siege, the American flag is being burned, and the Obama administration and media have blamed a video clip instead of denouncing the perpetrators.
The Nazis claimed their Kristallnacht pogrom was 'spontaneous.'
The lack of realism is stunning. "We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," said President Barack Obama—not about the murder of Americans or the persecution of Christians and Jews in Muslim countries, but about an amateur film on YouTube. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the film is "disgusting and reprehensible." These sentiments were echoed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., and a multitude of pundits.
Yet all evidence indicates that events of Sept. 11, 2012, were not a "spontaneous reaction" to the 14-minute trailer, but were pre-organized—not only in Benghazi but in Cairo as well. The film, "Innocence of Muslims," was available on YouTube for a long time without attracting any attention. Two days before the riots, the film was broadcast in Arabic on the Salafi Egyptian television channel Al-Nas. Several popular preachers on other conservative Islamic satellite channels called upon people to turn out Tuesday at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. If this was not organization, what was it?
Still, America's leaders have effectively accepted that the main blame for the embassy attacks should be put on the producers of video clip, rather than on the organizers and participants of the violence. America's leaders did not stand up for freedom of speech. Instead, they practically apologized for the lack of censorship in the U.S.
"The U.S. government had absolutely nothing to do with this video," said Mrs. Clinton. She clearly does not understand that for those brought up in the world of Islamist propaganda, any attempt to distance the American government from the film can only feed suspicions that the U.S. was responsible for its production.
These are not merely rhetorical errors. In an ideological war, such errors each represent a lost battle.
It is not surprising that America's leaders are not proficient in the strategies and tactics of ideological warfare. Lessons learned from communism are now long forgotten, and are certainly not taught to current U.S. politicians. Still, U.S. leaders could have made fewer mistakes had they adhered to basic principles of American society, which require respecting the right of any person to practice his religion peacefully—but not necessarily respecting that religion itself.
I know that difference from personal experience. In the Soviet Union, I fought together with my fellow dissidents for religious freedom. Believers appreciated our support and never asked us to express any allegiance to their faith. Most of us dissidents were not religious people ourselves, but we risked our freedom to stand up for the right to worship. We did it because we believed that religious freedom is a fundamental human right.
President Obama, too, should stand for religious freedom. But he does not have an obligation to respect Islam or any other particular religion. America's constitutional separation of church and state obliges its leaders to avoid publicly endorsing any particular religion even to the extent of expressing "respect" for it. Similarly, they are enjoined from crusading against blasphemy.
It is important to remember that a war with a fanatical foe is first of all an ideological war, and in such a war, appeasement doesn't work. There are no defensive strategies. Any attempt to prove that you are right is a defeat. Any suggestion of compromise or acceptance of the legitimacy of your enemy's ideology is a sign of your weakness—which only provokes further attacks.
The winning formula against Soviet communism proved to be peace through strength. A strong military and economy are important, but even more important is standing strong for basic principles. Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and the Soviet and East European dissidents all understood this.
We did not start wars with communism, Nazism or Islamism. They were imposed upon us. Those ideologies thrive on confrontation with the free world. Today we must revisit Kristallnacht, the Holocaust and the Cold War, to recollect our successful experience of dealing with those virulent ideologies.
Mr. Yarim-Agaev is a scientist and human-rights activist who was a leading dissident in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. He is currently a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Communicating with Morsi
Reply #116 on:
September 25, 2012, 04:01:05 PM »
Morsi's Election Can't Erase Radical Record
September 25, 2012
New Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is being received as a visiting dignitary in New York this week for meetings surrounding the opening of the United Nations' General Assembly. He is scheduled to address the assembly Wednesday morning and is meeting with U.S. officials and other dignitaries.
On Tuesday, as the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report noted, he is to appear with former President Bill Clinton at the closing plenary of Clinton's Global Initiative conference.
The man being showered with attention as a respectable international leader may rank shy only of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when it comes to anti-Semitism and bluster against the state of Israel.
He was the subject of a front-page story in Sunday's New York Times, in which he claimed Egypt is not moving toward theocracy, but acknowledged being shaped by an organization that seeks a global Islamic state.
"I grew up with the Muslim Brotherhood," he said in the Times interview. "I learned my principles in the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned how to love my country with the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned politics with the Brotherhood. I was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood."
In a 2005 article touting Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary candidates, Morsi invoked the Brotherhood's motto in making the case that "Islam is the solution":
"God is our goal. The Messenger is our example. The Quran is our constitution; Jihad is our way and death for the sake of God the highest aspiration."
He repeated that theme during a campaign appearance last May, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) showed, leading the crowd in chanting "The Quran is our constitution. The Prophet Muhammad is our leader. Jihad is our path. And death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration."
That could help explain his affection for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which was created to be a terrorist branch of the Brotherhood, and which has a series of anti-Semitic statements in its charter.
"In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised, it says. Elsewhere, it says "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."
Since December, Morsi has met with Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal, Ismail Haniyeh and Mousa Abu Marzook. He also is eager to see Hamas open an office in Cairo. "Support for the Palestinian cause is a duty upon us we will discharge," Morsi said. "In fact, the Egyptian role for Gaza and Hamas after the revolution is a distinctive one."
In April 2011, he "called on Arab and Islamic regimes and governments to address and stop continuing Zionist crimes against the Gaza Strip," the Brotherhood's Ikhwanonline website reported. "Dr. Morsi called for the Palestinian resistance to be supported with money, weapons and equipment to challenge this Zionist aggression, stressing that Arab regimes deal in the same way as before with the suffering of our brothers in Gaza."
In 2008, he called for international aid to Gaza, which he said was needed to stop the "bloodthirsty Zionist usurper created by injustice and international terrorism." An Israeli blockade on Gaza, imposed to stop the terrorist group from importing weapons and explosives supplies for terrorist attacks, was part of "American-Zionist plots which aim to eliminate the Palestinian cause," he said.
"We will sacrifice for you with our blood and our children and our money," Morsi said. "Our hands are in your hands to keep you steadfast raising the banner of the right in the first cause of the Muslims first. May God strengthen you and strengthen your backs and increase your faith. May He grant you victory over our enemy and your enemy."
"We are with you," he said in a 2009 article. "May God accept you, and your deeds not leave you. God has chosen you to help His religion and defending his Aqsa, and indeed Arabism and Islam, against the herd of Zionists, descendants of apes and pigs." Like Ahmadinejad, Morsi predicted Israel's destruction. "In the end the peoples will remain and the regimes disappear sooner or later, and the usurping intruding Zionist entity will disappear with them."
In a previous statement, he praised Palestinian jihad "against the Zionist American project" and said people will stand by them "by all means to liberate their land from the filth of the Zionist usurpers."
Since rising to power, Morsi has embraced the cause of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the spiritual leader of the group behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Abdel Rahman is serving a life prison sentence after being convicted in a subsequent plot to bomb New York tunnels and landmarks.
The blind sheikh's case is "on my shoulders," he said during his presidential campaign. He repeated a pledge to seek Abdel Rahman's freedom the day he took office.
Violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo two weeks ago likely had more to do with the Abdel Rahman case than with an online video ridiculing the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Protesters entered the embassy grounds and replaced the American flag with the black flag of Islam. Morsi's original response was considered anemic and slow, and he called on the United States to arrest the video's producer.
He may be the elected leader of Egypt, but Morsi's record demonstrates he is no statesman. He should not be treated as one.
T. Friedman: Backlash to the backlash
Reply #117 on:
September 26, 2012, 08:40:54 AM »
Backlash to the Backlash
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: September 25, 2012 52 Comments
One of the iron laws of Middle East politics for the last half-century has been that extremists go all the way and moderates tend to just go away. That is what made the march in Benghazi, Libya, so unusual last Friday. This time, the moderates did not just go away. They got together and stormed the headquarters of the Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia, whose members are suspected of carrying out the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
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Thomas L. Friedman
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It is not clear whether this trend can spread or be sustained. But having decried the voices of intolerance that so often intimidate everyone in that region, I find it heartening to see Libyans carrying signs like “We want justice for Chris” and “No more Al Qaeda” — and demanding that armed militias disband. This coincides with some brutally honest articles in the Arab/Muslim press — in response to rioting triggered by the idiotic YouTube video insulting the Prophet Muhammad — that are not the usual “What is wrong with America?” but, rather, “What is wrong with us, and how do we fix it?”
On Monday, the Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri, which tracks the Arab/Muslim press, translated a searing critique written by Imad al-Din Hussein, a columnist for Al Shorouk, Cairo’s best daily newspaper: “We curse the West day and night, and criticize its [moral] disintegration and shamelessness, while relying on it for everything. ... We import, mostly from the West, cars, trains, planes ... refrigerators, and washing machines. ... We are a nation that contributes nothing to human civilization in the current era. ... We have become a burden on [other] nations. ... Had we truly implemented the essence of the directives of Islam and all [other] religions, we would have been at the forefront of the nations. The world will respect us when we return to being people who take part in human civilization, instead of [being] parasites who are spread out over the map of the advanced world, feeding off its production and later attacking it from morning until night. ... The West is not an oasis of idealism. It also contains exploitation in many areas. But at least it is not sunk in delusions, trivialities and external appearances, as we are. ... Therefore, supporting Islam and the prophet of the Muslims should be done through work, production, values, and culture, not by storming embassies and murdering diplomats.”
Mohammad Taqi, a liberal Pakistani columnist, writing in the Lahore-based Daily Times on Sept. 20, argued that “there is absolutely no excuse for violence and indeed murder most foul, as committed in Benghazi. Fighting hate with hate is sure to beget more hate. The way out is drowning the odious voices with voices of sanity, not curbing free speech and calls for murder.”
Khaled al-Hroub, a professor at Cambridge University, writing in Jordan’s Al Dustour newspaper on Sept. 17, translated by Memri, argued that the most “frightening aspect of what we see today in the streets of Arab and Islamic cities is the disaster of extremism that is flooding our societies and cultures, as well as our behavior. ... This [represents] a total atrophy of thought among wide sectors [of society], as a result of the culture of religious zealotry that was imposed on people for over 50 years, and which brought forth what we witness” today.
The Egyptian comedian, Bassem Youssef, wrote in Al Shorouk, translated by Memri, on Sept. 23: “We demand that the world respect our feelings, yet we do not respect the feelings of others. We scream blue murder when they outlaw the niqab in some European country or prevent [Muslims] from building minarets in another [European] country — even though these countries continue to allow freedom of religion, as manifest in the building of mosques and in the preaching [activity] that takes place in their courtyards. Yet, in our countries, we do not allow others to publicly preach their beliefs. Maybe we should examine ourselves before [criticizing] others.”
Whenever I was asked during the Iraq war, “How will you know when we’ve won?” I gave the same answer: When Salman Rushdie can give a lecture in Baghdad; when there is real freedom of speech in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world. There is no question that we need a respectful dialogue between Islam and the West, but, even more, we need a respectful dialogue between Muslims and Muslims. What matters is not what Arab/Muslim political parties and groupings tell us they stand for. What matters is what they tell themselves, in their own languages, about what they stand for and what excesses they will not tolerate.
This internal debate had long been stifled by Arab autocrats whose regimes traditionally suppressed extremist Islamist parties, but never really permitted their ideas to be countered with free speech — with independent, modernist, progressive interpretations of Islam or by truly legitimate, secular political parties and institutions. Are we seeing the start of that now with the emergence of free spaces and legitimate parties in the Arab world? Again, too early to say, but this moderate backlash to the extremist backlash is worth hailing — and watching.
Re: Communicating with the Muslim World
Reply #118 on:
September 26, 2012, 11:24:40 AM »
We obviously just need a few crates of "COEXIST" bumper stickers shipped over there ASAP.
POTH Political Islam and the fate of two Libyan brothers
Reply #119 on:
October 07, 2012, 10:26:15 AM »
TRIPOLI, Libya — One brother joined the global jihad against the West under the nom de guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi. He rose to become Al Qaeda’s brightest star and second in command, until an American drone strike killed him in Pakistan four months ago.
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Mr. Qaid says his brother Abu Yahya al-Libi became a radical after being imprisoned by Americans in Afghanistan.
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The other brother, Abdel Wahab Mohamed Qaid, was the first to become an Islamist militant but is now a moderate member of Libya’s new Parliament.
As the United States weighs responses to the Islamist-led assault on its diplomatic mission in Benghazi that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Mr. Qaid says the two brothers’ diverging paths trace a timely lesson: a parable of the dangers of treating the many different strands of political Islam as a single radical threat.
Abu Yahya’s support for Al Qaeda, Mr. Qaid said, began after his years as a prisoner at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan — an account supported by Western analysts who have studied Abu Yahya’s life.
Both brothers had previously shunned Osama Bin Laden and the cause of global jihad as irrelevant to their single-minded focus on ousting the Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. But then, after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the United States-led invasion of Afghanistan, the Americans began rounding up any Islamist militants they could find, regardless of their specific ideology or agenda; Abu Yahya was captured in Pakistan and imprisoned without trial at Bagram.
When he finally escaped in 2005, picking a prison lock and evading his guards, Abu Yahya, originally known as Mohamed Hassan Qaid, was reborn as the leading theologian, propagandist and battlefield commander of an Islamic holy war against the West that left little room for local concerns like the struggle for Libyan democracy.
The older Mr. Qaid, who is 45 and is speaking publicly for the first time, argued that Abu Yahya had been drawn into battle with the United States mainly because its military had treated him as an enemy. The vast majority of young Libyans, including many armed Islamists, now feel warmly toward America for its support against Colonel Qaddafi, Mr. Qaid said, and the impulse of United States officials and liberal Libyans to associate them all with Al Qaeda risks pushing them closer to the terrorist group.
“When they see they are lumped together with Al Qaeda, even those unsympathetic to it will become more sympathetic, and this would be the best gift you could ever give to Al Qaeda,” Mr. Qaid said, charging that many Americans often treated all Islamists as shades of Al Qaeda.
Many other Libyan Islamist militants who had taken refuge from Colonel Qaddafi in Pakistan or Taliban-controlled Afghanistan have told similar stories, attesting that they were wrongly imprisoned and mistreated by the United States on suspicion of ties to Al Qaeda though their only fight was against the Libyan dictator. Last month, Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit advocacy group, documented more than 15 such cases of Libyan Islamists captured by the United States, including two who told the group that they had been subjected to a form of coercive interrogation known as waterboarding.
Unlike Abu Yahya, however, most of the captured Libyans never turned to Al Qaeda. Some are now playing prominent roles in their country’s transition toward democracy. And, conversely, a few others enlisted in the Al Qaeda cause without American imprisonment or mistreatment.
Just what factors may have shaped the psychology of Abu Yahya or any other militant remains “highly speculative,” said Brian Fishman, a researcher at the New America Foundation who previously worked at West Point studying terrorist movements. But “it is absolutely true that we failed to distinguish between Al Qaeda and a variety of Islamist militant groups that were operating in Afghanistan, and we should have distinguished between them because not all of them had accepted Al Qaeda’s worldview,” he said.
Mr. Qaid insisted that although he and his brother had both been militants, part of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group determined to oust Colonel Qaddafi, they were never terrorists or enemies of the West.
Both brothers — each the spit and image of the other, both known for their poetic gifts and theological knowledge — were drawn into politics by the Libyan student movement of the mid-1980s. As a medical student at the University of Benghazi, Mr. Qaid said, he was appalled by the Qaddafi government’s use of torture and public hangings to quell dissent. “I started to realize the scale of the oppression,” Mr. Qaid said in lilting, classical Arabic, sitting in the cafe of the Rixos hotel here in a crisp white galabeya and prayer cap with a purple pillow scrunched in his lap.
By 1989, Mr. Qaid had fled to Tunisia, Pakistan, and elsewhere in international Islamist circles, and Abu Yahya, two years younger, followed in his footsteps two years later.
In 1995, Mr. Qaid crossed into Libya on a mission for the group when he was captured by Colonel Qaddafi’s agents. At 28, he was sentenced to death but ultimately spent the next 16 years in the notorious Abu Salim prison in Tripoli. “I grew up in prison,” he said.
As young men, Mr. Qaid said, he and his fellow Islamists had sometimes been overconfident in their “righteousness” and too ready to impose it on others, and they did not listen to the debates among older Muslim scholars.
POTB: Girl's shooting in Pakistan provokes outrage
Reply #120 on:
October 13, 2012, 03:21:36 PM »
Outrage over shooting of Malala dissipating?
Reply #121 on:
October 20, 2012, 07:14:18 AM »
Who is Fethullah Galen?
Reply #122 on:
October 29, 2012, 06:48:47 AM »
Who Is Fethullah GĂĽlen?
Controversial Muslim preacher, feared Turkish intriguer â and âinspirerâť of the largest charter school network in America
With the American economy in shambles, Europe imploding, and the Middle East in chaos, convincing Americans that they should pay attention to a Turkish preacher named Fethullah GĂĽlen is an exceedingly hard sell. Many Americans have never heard of him, and if they have, he sounds like the least of their worries. According to his website, he is an âauthoritative mainstream Turkish Muslim scholar, thinker, author, poet, opinion leader and educational activist who supports interfaith and intercultural dialogue, science, democracy and spirituality and opposes violence and turning religion into a political ideology.âť The website adds that âby some estimates, several hundred educational organizations such as Kâ12 schools, universities, and language schools have been established around the world inspired by Fethullah GĂĽlen.âť The site notes, too, that GĂĽlen was âthe first Muslim scholar to publicly condemn the attacks of 9/11.âť It also celebrates his modesty.
Yet there is a bit more to the story. GĂĽlen is a powerful business figure in Turkey andâto put it mildlyâa controversial one. He is also an increasingly influential businessman globally. There are somewhere between 3 million and 6 million GĂĽlen followersâor, to use the term they prefer, people who are âinspiredâť by him. Sources vary widely in their estimates of the worth of the institutions âinspiredâť by GĂĽlen, which exist in every populated continent, but those based on American court records have ranged from $20 billion to $50 billion. Most interesting, from the American point of view, is that GĂĽlen lives in Pennsylvania, in the Poconos. He is, among other things, a major player in the world of American charter schoolsâthough he claims to have no power over them; theyâre just greatly inspired, he says.
Even if it were only for these reasons, you might want to know more about GĂĽlen, especially because the few commentators who do write about him generally mischaracterize him, whether they call him a âradical Islamistâť or a âliberal Muslim.âť The truth is much more complicatedâto the extent that anyone understands it.
To begin to understand GĂĽlen, you must start with the history of the Nurcu movement. Said NursĂ® (1878â1960), a Sunni Muslim in the Sufi tradition, was one of the great charismatic religious personalities of the late Ottoman Caliphate and early Turkish Republic. HisÂ Risale-i Nur, disdained and sometimes banned by the Republic, nevertheless became the basis for the formation of âreading circlesâťâgeographically dispersed communities the size of small towns that gathered to read, discuss, and internalize the text and to duplicate it when it was banned. Nurcus tend to say, roughly, that theÂ Risale-i NurÂ is distilled from the Koran; non-Nurcus often find the claim inappropriate or arrogant.
These reading circles gradually spread through Anatolia. Hakan Yavuz, a Turkish political scientist at the University of Utah, calls the Nurcu movement âa resistance movement to the ongoing Kemalist modernization process.âť But it is also âforward-looking,âť Yavuz says, a âconceptual framework for a people undergoing the transformation from a confessional community (Gemeinschaft) to a secular national society (Gesellschaft). . . . Folk Islamic concepts and practices are redefined and revived to establish new solidarity networks and everyday-life strategies for coping with new conditions.âť To call this movement âfundamentalistâť or âradicalâť is to empty both terms of meaning. It is equally silly to dismiss it as theologically primitive. I confess that I have not read all 6,000 pages of theÂ Risale-i Nur, but I have read enough to be convinced that NursĂ® is a fairly sophisticated thinker.
GĂĽlenâs movement, orÂ cemaat, arose from roughly a dozen neo-Nur reading circles. GĂĽlen was born in 1941 in a village near Erzurum, the eastern frontier of what is now the Turkish Republic. This territory was bitterly contested by the Russian, Persian, and Ottoman empires and gave rise to interpretations of Islam strongly infused with Turkish nationalism: when nothing but the Turkish state stands between you and the Russians, you become a Turkish nationalist, fast. Likewise, contrary to a common misconception among Americans who view the Islamic world as monolithic, GĂĽlenists doÂ notÂ consider Persians their friends.
Two notable points about GĂĽlenâs philosophy. First, he strongly dissuades his followers fromÂ tebliÄ, or open proselytism. He urges them instead to practiceÂ temsilâliving an Islamic way of life at all times, setting a good example, and embodying their ideals in their way of life. From what I have seen in Turkey, the embodiment of these ideals involves good manners, hard work, and the funding of many charities. It also involves a highly segregated role for women. I would not want to live in the segregated world that they find acceptable here; neither, I suspect, would the Western sociologists who have enthusiastically described the GĂĽlen movement as analogous, say, to contemporary Southern Baptists or German Calvinists.
Second, GĂĽlen holds (publicly, at any rate) that Muslims and non-Muslims once lived in peace because the Ottoman Turks established an environment of tolerance. To restore this peaceful coexistence worldwide, he says, Turks should become world leaders in promoting tolerance among religionsâand Turks following his teachings should become world leaders.
GĂĽlenâs detractors, however, inevitably point to a speech of his that surfaced in a video in 1999:
You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers. . . . Until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria, . . . like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. . . . The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it. . . . You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey . . . . Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you allâin confidence . . . trusting your loyalty and secrecy. I know that when you leave here, [just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and the feelings that I expressed here.
By this point, GĂĽlen had decamped from Turkey to the United States for medical treatment. Nonetheless, in 2000, he was tried in absentia by a state security court for endeavoring to replace Turkeyâs secular government with an Islamic one; the indictment alleged that his movement had attempted to infiltrate Turkeyâs military schools. His followers say that the video was altered to incriminate him, but they have never produced the putatively innocuous original videotape. After years of legal wrangling, GĂĽlen was acquitted in 2008.
GĂĽlenâsÂ cemaatÂ is by far the strongest Nurcu group in Turkey, described by many as Turkeyâs third power, alongside Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄanâs increasingly authoritarian Justice and Development Party (known as the AKP, its initials in Turkish) and the military. The structure and organization of theÂ cemaatÂ are a subject of controversy. Members tend to be evasive not only about their relationship to GĂĽlen but about the very existence of theÂ cemaat; of late, some have urged Turks to use the wordÂ camiaÂ in its place. Whatâs the difference? Not much.Â Camiaconveys looser ties;Â cemaatÂ can mean âcongregation,âť whereas aÂ camiaÂ is more like a circle. But the wordÂ cemaatÂ has become so fraught with sinister overtones that rebranding was in order. GĂĽlen himself calls his movementÂ Hizmet, or service.
The movementâs supporters say that its structure is informalâthat being âinspiredâť by GĂĽlen is akin to being âinspiredâť by Mother Teresa. Critics, including many people who have left the movement, observe that its organizational structure is strict, hierarchical, and undemocratic. GĂĽlen (known to his followers asÂ Hocaefendi, or âmaster teacherâť) is the sole leader, they say, and each community is led byÂ abis, or elder brothers, who are privy to only a limited amount of information. Sociologist Berna Turam has argued that theÂ abisÂ make strong suggestions about, and perhaps dictate, whom members should marry. Even if prospective spouses are not within theÂ cemaat, theÂ cemaatÂ should benefit from them; a spouse from a rich or powerful family would be an asset, for example. This sounds plausible: we often see this approach to marriage in societies with weak institutions and low social trust, and Turkey is certainly such a society.
The movement, according to researchers such as Yavuz, has three coordinated tiers: businessmen, journalists, and teachers. The first tier, the so-called Anatolian bourgeoisie, provides financial support: it funds private high schools, universities, colleges, dormitories, summer camps, and foundations around the world. The journalists of the second tier own one of the leading Turkish dailies,Â Zaman; its English-language counterpart,Â Todayâs ZamanÂ (which is often not a faithful translation); the Turkish television station STV; the Cihan news service; many magazines and academic journals; several lesser dailies and TV channels; and many Internet-only news outlets. Finally, teachers operate the schools.
An e-mail message released by WikiLeaks and written by Reva Bahalla, an employee of the private intelligence company Stratfor, details the first two tiers. The e-mail describes âhanging out with hardcore GĂĽlenistsâť in Istanbul. It begins with a visit to the headquarters ofÂ Zaman:
The way they represent their agenda is that this is about democratization in Turkey, human rights, world peace, etc. The guy was actually quoting Western liberal philosophers trying to show how much in common they have with them in respect for these democratic values, and this is whatâs essential for Turkeyâs candidacy in the EU. The irony, they claim, is that people think because theyâre Islamist, theyâre fundamentalist and not modern, whereas the authoritarians (in their view) i.e. the military, are the ones who are seen in the West as modern. . . . (my noteâwhat Emre and I noticed is that in all our meetings with GĂĽlenists, they recited almost the same lines verbatim. . . .)
The next day, Emre and I visited a major GĂĽlenist organization that puts together these massive conferences all over the world to promote their agenda, raise funds, recruits, etc. Their office is in a very expensive part of Istanbul. Theyâve got the best facilities, this beautiful theater system. In short, theyâve got money. Now you have to ask yourself, where is the money coming from? . . . Their funding comes mainly from co-opting the Anatolian business class. . . .
After getting a very long tour of the entire building, top to bottom, they sat us down for a GĂĽlen propaganda film in their theater. . . . The GĂĽlen guy is so overcome by the speech shown in the video by Fethullah GĂĽlen, that he starts crying. Meanwhile Iâm trying really hard not to laugh.
Well, itâs funny unless you have to live here.
Wherever the movement establishes itself, it seems to follow a particular pattern. Sociologist Jonathan Lacey has studied its activities in Ireland, where the GĂĽlen-inspired Turkish-Irish Educational and Cultural Society (TIECS) organizes one-week trips to Turkey for non-Turkish people:
I established that these trips are subsidized by businessmen, who are members of the GĂĽlen Community. Members of TIECS claim that these trips are subsidized in order to promote intercultural dialogue. However, given the fact that the GĂĽlen Community is actively engaged in trade as well as education in Central Asia, I proposed that these businessmen subsidize these trips, at least partly, to increase trade between Ireland and Turkey. Another possibility for these subsidies may lie in the hope of promoting a positive impression of Turkey in Europe and thereby securing entry into the European Union.
French researcher Bayram BalcÄ±, who is of Turkish origin, describes something similar in the movementâs activities in Central Asia:
Businessmen from a particular city in Turkey, for example Bursa, will decide to concentrate their efforts on a particular Central Asian city, for example Tashkent. Nurcu investment will then become important in Tashkent, and a kind of twinning . . . between the two cities results. Nurcu group membersâwhom we can consider as missionariesâare sent by the movement with the aim of making contact with important companies, bureaucrats and personalities in order to appraise local needs. They then invite some of these important personalities to Turkey. . . . Nurcu organizations receive them and show them the private schools and foundations of theÂ cemaat, without ever mentioning this word.
Whether one should admire theÂ cemaatÂ or be disturbed by it depends on the answer to this question: What is it after? And to arrive at that answer, we should explore two things about it that are known to be troubling. First, there is evidence that theÂ cemaatÂ is internally authoritarian, even cultlike. Ilhan TanÄ±r, a Turkish journalist who was in theÂ cemaatÂ but who left it, has expressed particular concern about the blind obedience demanded of its members:
Confusing the real world with the cosmic one, the movement sees itself many times as self-righteous and blessed in every occasion, and surrounded with miracles.
Consequently, when hearing any criticism against its wishes and work, it equates suspicious inquirers either with iniquity or having ulterior motives. âItaat,âť or obedience, therefore becomes the first and the most important characteristic of a âgoodâť and âtrustedâť member. . . . Living in such an environment for so long, many of these people simply become afraid to face the outside or are too weak to live in a real world.
Moreover, TanÄ±r holds, theÂ cemaatÂ believes that its cosmic mission âjustifies any conduct to achieve its ends at any cost.âť
In 2008, the Dutch government investigated the movementâs activities in the Netherlands. Ella Vogelaar, the countryâs minister for housing, communities, and integration, warned that âin general terms, when an organization calls for turning away from society, this is at odds with the objectives of integration.âť It was, she noted, incumbent upon the government to âkeep sharp watch over people and organizations that systematically incite anti-integrative behavior, for this can also be a breeding ground for radicalization.âť Testifying about one of the schools in the investigation, a former member of the movement called it a âsect with a groupthink outside of which these students cannot [reason]âť:
After years living in the boarding school it is psychologically impossible to pull yourself away; you get guilt feelings. Furthermore, it forces the students to live, think and do as the Big Brothers [theÂ abis] instruct them to. Furthermore, through psychological pressure, these students are told which choice of career is the best they can make for the sake of high ideals. . . . Another very bad aspect is that students no longer respect their parents and they do not listen if the parents do not live by the standards imposed by the group; they are psychologically distanced from their parents; here you have your little soldiers that march only to the orders of theirÂ abis. TheÂ abisÂ are obliged to obey the provincial leaders, who in turn must obey the national leaders, who in turn obey Fethullah GĂĽlen.
Following the investigation, the Dutch government, presumably concluding that the GĂĽlen schools did indeed promote âanti-integrative behavior,âť reduced their public funding.
The belief that the movement commands or inspires blind obedience is not confined to those who have left itâits spokesmen are proud of it. In 2010, American journalist Suzy Hansen, writing forÂ The New Republic, visited the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, where GĂĽlen lives. The president of the facility, Bekir Aksoy, explained to her that âour people do not complain. . . . They obey commands completely. . . . Let me put it this way. If a man with a Ph.D. and a career came to see Hocaefendi, and Hocaefendi told him it might be a good idea to build a village on the North Pole, that man with a Ph.D. would be back the next morning with a suitcase.âť
The second troubling fact about theÂ cemaatâs activities is that the Turkish media organizations associated with it are clearly pursuing an agenda at odds with the movementâs publicly stated ideals. The English version ofÂ ZamanÂ is often significantly different from the Turkish one. Remarks about enemies of Islam, perfidious Armenians, and Mossad plots are edited out of the English version, as are other comments that sound incompatible with the message of intercultural tolerance. For example,Â Todayâs ZamanÂ last year published GĂĽlenâs criticism of the government for failing to solve long-standing issues over the rights of Kurds, but omitted his ambiguous prayer: âKnock their homes upside down, destroy their unity, reduce their homes to ashes, may their homes be filled with weeping and supplications, burn and cut off their roots, and bring their affairs to an end.âť GĂĽlenâs supporters will insist that he was referring only to the Kurdistan Workersâ Party, or PKK, which the United States quite properly considers a terrorist group. But many ethnically Kurdish citizens of Turkey heard this as a call for genocide and were terrified by it.
Or consider GĂĽlenâs reasonable rebuttal, printed inÂ Todayâs Zaman, to the common charge that his followers have infiltrated the organs of the state: âTo urge fellow citizens to seek employment at state institutions is not called infiltration. Both the people urged and these institutions belong to the same country. . . . It is a right for them to be employed in state posts.âť Those ellipses indicate something from the Turkish-languageZamanÂ that has been omitted from the translation. What has been omitted is âKastedilen manadaki sÄ±zmayÄ± belli bir dĂ¶nemde bu milletten olmayanlar yaptÄ±lar,âť meaning roughly that in the past, the stateÂ wasinfiltratedâby those who âwerenât part of this nation.âť Those who know Turkey will immediately recognize the statement as part of a common understanding of history in which infiltration explains the stateâs actions as far back as the nineteenth century. The clear intimation is that the state was once infiltrated by non-Muslims or people only pretending to be Muslimâamong them AtatĂĽrk, of course. (Though expatriates in Turkey readÂ Todayâs ZamanÂ for roughly the reasons that Kremlinologists once readÂ Pravda, I should note that it seems to be influential among foreign observers and is apparently beloved of Anne-Marie Slaughter, recently the State Departmentâs director of policy planning.)
But to understand the strongest case against the GĂĽlen media empire, we must explore some recent Turkish history. In June 2007, police discovered a crate of grenades in an Istanbul slum. Investigators claimed that they belonged to a shadowy clique of conspirators called Ergenekon. The organization was supposedly an outgrowth of the so-called Deep Stateâa secret coalition of high-level figures in the military, the intelligence services, the judiciary, and organized crime, which surely existed at one point and doubtless still does. Ergenekon allegedly planned to stage a series of terrorist attacks throughout Turkey and use the ensuing chaos as the pretext for a military coup.
Since the day this news broke, thousands of Turks have been arrested by the AKP-led government, including military officers, academics, theologians, and journalists. In 2009, a new round of mass arrests began, targeting Kurds and leftists, as well as their attorneys. Journalists who witness these trials come away shocked, unable to believe the absurdity of the spectacle. Iâve watched a presiding judge, for example, ask a defendant whyâif the evidence against him had been forged, as the defendant claimedâhe had not caught the forger. Beyond the irrelevance of the question (that isnât the job of the accused), there was the obvious fact that the defendant had been in a prison cell since his arrest and thus hardly in a position to do freelance police work.
Itâs impossible not to conclude that something is rotten in the way the judicial process works in these cases, which until recently were under the control of the so-called Special Authority Courts. These were sold to the public as an advance upon Turkeyâs loathed military courts, but as far as I can tell, they have represented no great improvement in the justice system. You donât have to be a forensic specialist to see this; you only have to spend 15 minutes looking at the quality of the evidence upon which they rely. The most famous example involves the admission as evidence of coup plans that refer to entities that did not yet exist in the year that they were allegedly drafted; but anyone who wants other examples is spoiled for choice.
Yet the GĂĽlenist media have cheered on these arrests and mass trialsârepresenting them as the cleansing of the Deep State; describing them as a move against âterrorist networksâť; calling those who question the casesâ legal standardsÂ darbeci, or coup-mongers; and failing to retract or correct misleading claims in their reporting. In other respects, by the way, journalists employed by the GĂĽlen-âinspiredâť media are often better reporters than those employed by Turkeyâs older media, so itâs not convincing to suggest that theyâre just dumb and sloppy. They are careful and professional when they want to be. For these trials, they apparently donât want to be.
Now to America. GĂĽlen lives in the United States, and he has received praise and support from high-level figures in the American government. Bill Clinton and James Baker have delivered encomiums to his contributions to world peace, for instance, and President Obama has made an admiring visit to the GĂĽlen-inspired Pinnacle School in Washington, D.C. Former CIA officer Graham Fullerâalso former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council and the author ofÂ The Future of Political Islamâvouched for GĂĽlen personally in his green-card application process, as did former CIA officer George Fidas and former ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz.
All this support fuels conspiracy theories in Turkey and feeds deep anti-American sentiment among those who fear GĂĽlen. They donât understand why these former spooks and diplomats have been helping him. Frankly, neither do I. Nor can I dismiss their fears as absurd Oriental delusions; on the face of it, it might make sense for the United States to back GĂĽlen. He is pragmatically pro-American; he has been quoted as saying that he would do nothing to undermine Americaâs interests in the region. He is suspicious of Russians and Iranians, as are we. He is influential enough in Turkey that itâs at least plausible to imagine that America wants to placate him or use him. I understand why many Turks believe that GĂĽlen is reposing himself in the Poconos because, for some inscrutable imperial purpose, weâre protecting him.
Unfortunately, I know enough about American foreign policy to be confident that weâre not that smart. Our government is often astonishingly incompetent, with branches habitually failing to communicate important information with one another and even senior officials uninterested in following the details of complex events in Turkey. I also know that Americans are on the whole very kind and decent and want very much to be friends with Muslims who say that they denounce terrorism. But they donât understand that by befriending GĂĽlen, they infuriate Muslims in Turkey who likewise denounce terrorism but who also loathe GĂĽlen as a power-hungry opportunist.
GĂĽlen has used his time in America to become the largest operatorâor perhaps merely inspirerâof charter schools in the United States. Sharon Higgens, who founded the organization Parents Across America, believes that there are now 135 GĂĽlen-inspired charter schools in the country, enrolling some 45,000 students. That would make the GĂĽlen network larger than KIPPâthe runner-up, with 109 schools. The schools, in 25 states, have anodyne names: Horizon Science Academy, Pioneer Charter School of Science, Beehive Science and Technology Academy. Thousands of Turkish nationals, almost all of them male, have come to America on H-1B visas specifically to teach in them. The schools focus on math and science, and their students often do well enough on standardized tests. The administrators say that they have no official ties to GĂĽlen, and GĂĽlen denies any connection to the schools. But federal forms required of nonprofits show that virtually all the schools have opened or operate with the aid of GĂĽlen-inspired groupsâlocal nonprofits that promote Turkish culture. The Ohio-based Horizon Science Academy of Springfield, for example, cosigned a five-year building lease with Chicagoâs Niagara Foundation, which explicitly promotes GĂĽlenâs philosophy of âtolerance, dialogue and peace.âť
The FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education have been investigating the hiring practices of some of these schools, as theÂ New York TimesÂ and theÂ Philadelphia InquirerÂ have reportedâparticularly the replacement of certified American teachers with uncertified Turkish ones who get higher salaries than the Americans did, using visas that are supposed to be reserved for highly skilled workers who fill needs unmet by the American workforce. The schools claim, according to an article written by Higgens in theÂ Washington Post, that they are unable to find qualified teachers in Americaâwhich seems implausible, given that weâre in the depths of the worst economic downturn in postwar memory, and given that some of these new arrivals have come to teach English, which often they speak poorly, or English as a second language, which often they need themselves. They have also been hired as gym teachers, accountants, janitors, caterers, painters, construction workers, human-resources managers, public-relations specialists, andâof all thingsâlawyers.
Two of the schools, located in Texas, have been accused of sending school fundsâwhich are supplied by the government, of course, since these are charter schoolsâto other GĂĽlen-inspired organizations. Last year, theNew York TimesÂ reported that the charters were funneling some $50 million in public funds to a network of Turkish construction companies, among them the GĂĽlen-related Atlas Texas Construction and Trading. The schools had hired Atlas to do construction, the paper said, though other bidders claimed in lawsuits that they had submitted more economical bids. Meanwhile, Atlas may have played a part in protecting GĂĽlen charter schools; Folwell Dunbar, an official at the Louisiana Department of Education, has accused Atlasâs vice president, Inci Akpinar, of offering him a $25,000 bribe to keep mum about troubling conditions at the Abramson Science and Technology Charter School in New Orleans. Dunbar sent a memo to department colleagues, theÂ Times-PicayuneÂ reported, noting that âAkpinar flattered him with âa number of complimentsâ before getting to the point: âI have twenty-five thousand dollars to fix this problem: twenty thousand for you and five for me.â âť Abramson is operated by the Pelican Foundation, which is linked to the GĂĽlen-inspired Cosmos Foundation in Texasâwhich runs the two Texas schools.
Utahâs Beehive Science and Technology Academy, another GĂĽlen-inspired charter, was $337,000 in debt, according to a financial probe by the Utah Schools Charter Board. TheÂ Deseret NewsÂ tried to figure out where all this taxpayer money had gone. âIn a time of teacher layoffs, Beehive has recruited a high percentage of teachers from overseas, mainly Turkey,âť the newspaper reported. âMany of these teachers had little or no teaching experience before they came to the United States. Some of them are still not certified to teach in Utah. The school spent more than $53,000 on immigration fees for foreigners in five years. During the same time, administrators spent less than $100,000 on textbooks, according to state records.âť Reports have also claimed that the school board was almost entirely Turkish.
A reporter for the leftist magazineÂ In These TimesÂ noted in 2010 that the Chicago Math and Science Academy obscured its relationship to GĂĽlen. And the school board was strikingly similar to Beehiveâs: âWhen I went to the schoolâs board meeting on July 8, I was taken aback to see a board of directors comprised entirely of men. They all appeared of Turkish, Bosnian or Croatian descent. Although I have nothing against Turkish, Bosnian or Croatian men, it does seem that a school board serving students who are 58 percent Hispanic/Latino, 25 percent African American, 12 percent Asian and 5 percent white might be well served by some women board members and board members from ethnic backgrounds the school predominantly serves.âť
Federal authorities are also investigating several of the movementâs schools for forcing employees to send part of their paychecks to Turkey, theÂ InquirerÂ reports. Also worrying is that some of these schools, after being granted the right to issue large, tax-free public bonds, are now defaulting on them. TheÂ New York TimesÂ recently reported that GĂĽlen-inspired schools in Georgia had defaulted on $19 million in public bonds, having granted hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts to businesses associated with GĂĽlen followers.
There is no evidence that Islamic proselytizing takes place at the American GĂĽlen schools and much evidence that students and parents like them. Most seem to be decent educational establishments, by American standards; graduates perform reasonably well, and some perform outstandingly.
So what are the schools for? Among other things, they seem to be moneymakers for theÂ cemaat. Theyâre loaded with private, state, and federal funding, and they have proved amazingly effective at soliciting private donations. The schools are also H-1B visa factories and perhaps the main avenue for building the GĂĽlen community in the United States. In 2011, 292 of the 1,500 employees at the GĂĽlen-inspired Harmony School of Innovation, a Texas charter school, were on H-1B visas, the schoolâs superintendent told theÂ New York Times. The feds have investigated Concept Schools, which operate 16 Horizon Science Academies across Ohio, on the suspicion that they illegally used taxpayer money to pay immigration and legal fees for people they never even employed, an Ohio ABC affiliate discovered. The fedsâ suspicion was confirmed by state auditors. Concept Schools repaid the fees for their Cleveland and Toledo schools shortly before the ABC story broke, but itâs unclear whether they have repaidâorÂ canÂ repayâthe fees for their other schools.
Perhaps to deflect scrutiny from the schools, people âinspiredâť by GĂĽlen are constantly inviting high-ranking leaders to dinners to speak and lavishing them with awards. And remember those trips to Turkey that the Turkish-Irish Educational and Cultural Society organizes? The same thing happens in the United States. Dozens of Texans, ranging from state lawmakers to congressional staff members to university professors, have taken trips to Turkey financed by GĂĽlenâs foundations. The Raindrop Foundation, for instance, paid for State Senator Leticia Van de Putteâs travel to Istanbul, according to a recent campaign report. Last January, she cosponsored a state senate resolution commending GĂĽlen for âhis ongoing and inspirational contributions to promoting global peace and understanding.âť
Steve Terrell, a reporter at the Santa FeÂ New Mexican, did a bit of digging and found that a remarkable number of local lawmakers had recently taken trips to Turkey courtesy of a private group, the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians, that is tied to GĂĽlen. In Idaho last year, a full tenth of state legislators went on the Turkey-trot tour, thanks to the Pacifica Institute, also inspired by GĂĽlen. The Hawaii State Ethics Commission sent a memo to lawmakers reminding them to check with the commission before accepting the all-expenses-paid trip to Turkey to which theyâd been invited by Pacifica. âThe State Ethics Commission,âť said the memo, âdoes not have sufficient understanding of Pacifica Institute, the purpose of the trip, or the state âbenefitâ associated with the trip.âť
It is no very cynical asperity to wonder if all these trips are connected to the staggering amount of public money going to GĂĽlen-inspired charter schools. Indeed, America is the only country in the world where the GĂĽlen movement has been able to establish schools funded to a great extent by the host countryâs taxpayers.
But does theÂ cemaatÂ want something more than money? Its supporters call it a âfaith-based civil-society movement.âť Mehmet Kalyoncu, an advisor to the ambassador of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to the United Nations, has observed correctly that theÂ cemaatâs Turkish enemies call it a creature of the CIA or the Mossad, a secret servant of the pope, or a Trojan horse trying to Christianize Muslims or weaken them. To some Western critics, such as Michael Rubin, theÂ cemaatÂ is âa shadowy Islamist cult,âť anti-Semitic, anti-Western, and trying to Islamize Americans. GĂĽlen is a second Khomeini, Rubin has warned, who is trying to establish a new caliphate.
But none of that is quite right. According to researcher Aydin Ozipek, who attended a GĂĽlen school, âthe primary objective of the GĂĽlen Movement is to increase its share of power.âť That, it seems to me, is the most accurate description of all. TheÂ cemaatÂ poses problems not because its members are pious Muslims (thatâs probably the most admirable thing about them) but because itâs a power-hungryÂ businessÂ that often behaves repulsivelyâlike a mafia, in other words. GĂĽlen does not run âmadrassasâť in America, as some have suggested; he runs charter schools. He does not âpracticeÂ taqiyaâť; he just dissimulates, like any ordinary politician.
I doubt that GĂĽlen is a significant threat to American interests in the Middle East. For pragmatic reasons, the movement is friendly to any country where it can establish a business presence; if we stay friendly to business, it will stay friendly to us, however we define our interests. ThecemaatÂ need not be a problem within America, either, so long as we deal with it with our eyes open and make sure that its members are obeying the law. ButÂ eyes openÂ is the key. Hereâs another excerpt from that infamous sermon that surfaced in 1999: âThe philosophy of our service is that we open a house somewhere and, with the patience of a spider, we lay our web to wait for people to get caught in the web; and we teach those who do. We donât lay the web to eat or consume them but to show them the way to their resurrection, to blow life into their dead bodies and souls, to give them a life.âť Those are words that suggest that GĂĽlenâs activities in the United States deserve careful scrutinyâscrutiny because his business is organized and he thinks ahead.
Overall, Americaâs assimilative power has a track record far more impressive than GĂĽlenâs. Our posture toward the GĂĽlen movement in America has been, if inadvertently and late in coming, the right one: indict those who need indicting for specific, established crimesâvisa fraud and, I suspect, racketeeringâand wait for the next generation to become Americans. Treat people inspired by GĂĽlen to the rule of lawâto the same laws that everyone else in America follows. If they donât already see it, they will recognize in time that those laws are excellent and connected to the economic opportunities that they enjoy. In fact, they may even do America some good, insofar as theyâre locked into battle with the teachersâ unions: if GĂĽlenâs followers can break them, more power to them. Maybe one day, weâll even get a great AmericanÂ cemaatnovel out of their experience.
Our posture toward the movement as a foreign policy actor, however, to the extent that I can understand it, has been foolish. It is wrong to imagine that GĂĽlen can be some kind of asset to us internationally or to accept or promote him as one. He has not been elected in Turkeyâour NATO allyâor anywhere else. We have an interest in seeing Turkey become a full-fledged liberal democracy. That means supporting GĂĽlenâs stated idealsânot him.
Claire BerlinskiÂ is an American journalist who lives in Istanbul. She is the author ofÂ There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters.
State Dept's outreach
Reply #123 on:
December 18, 2012, 07:01:06 PM »
State Department's Continued Outreach to Radicals
by Abha Shankar
December 18, 2012
The Obama administration's efforts to conquer hearts and minds in the Muslim world as part of its broader strategy to battle Islamist terrorism may be a laudable goal. But the administration's continued pandering to radical Islamists both at home and abroad continues to baffle and frustrate opponents of political Islam and Islamist organizations.
The administration has been swift to embrace newly-elected Islamist regimes in the Middle-East despite their violent and pro-jihadi rhetoric. Last month for example, it heaped praise on Egypt's new Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi for helping broker a truce between Israel and Hamas after eight days of fighting. In lauding Morsi, the U.S. government overlooked statements supporting Hamas issued by Morsi's colleagues in the Muslim Brotherhood and their celebration of rocket attacks on Israel. Morsi was a senior Brotherhood official for years before seeking office.
This international outreach to authoritarian Islamist regimes bestows undue legitimacy on Islamists and renders democratic and secular opposition and dissident groups voiceless. The same flawed outreach is being pursued domestically.
The latest example comes from a State Department-sponsored delegation last year of five Bulgarian Muslims who came to discuss the role of religion in the United States. Details of the trip, funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs under its International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), were obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism via a Freedom of Information Act request.
The delegation hoped to "learn about the environment of religious tolerance in the U.S. and how religious groups function in a democratic society with a separation of church and state," records in the 379-page FOIA release show. It described meetings the delegation had with leading Islamist groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and individuals in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Chicago from Sept. 26-Oct. 14, 2011.
This is a problem that has been detailed before. Rather than seeking views from the broader, more diverse Muslim American community, government officials grab at "the lowest hanging fruit," said Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix-based doctor who heads the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. "But they ignore ideological diversity and instead take the shortcut of generally allowing those Muslims who are part of a national and global political Islamist movement to represent our faith community."
"When confronted the White House and State Department will say that the ideological positions of Muslim groups is not their concern," added Jasser, whose appointment this year to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom sparked ire among Islamists.
Jasser also blamed political correctness for the government's flawed outreach policy:
"In part this also happens out of an absurd degree of political correctness and in part because these organizations have been very successful at branding themselves as the 'voice of the Muslims.' Even our National Strategy on Counterterrorism has been hijacked by this behavior, where it references the word ideology over 20 times but never names the ideology. The truth is that there is not and will never be one Muslim voice. We are a very diverse community…."
Jasser's views were echoed by Qanta Ahmed, a New York-based physician and ardent critic of radical Islam.
The government's failure to distinguish "Islam" from "political Islam" and its "willful engagement with non-violent Islamists" has resulted in the Islamists "owning the narrative," she said. In congressional testimony given in June, she also highlighted the threat Islamist ideology poses to the American democracy:
"While we have been pursuing conventional international warfare and in fact have assassinated the leader of Al Qaida for instance, we have remained dangerously vulnerable because of our delayed realization of the political science aspects of Islamist ideology and the very serious threat this poses to our democracy," Ahmed said. She described threats to free speech in the debate over radical Islam due to threats of litigation and false claims of bigotry that are used to stifle other points of view. Already, due to Islamist influence, the U.S. government has stopped using words like "Islamist" and "radical Islam."
"This sanitization of our lexicon reveals a shocking and perhaps specious reluctance to engage with the problem or worse, a foolhardy embrace, unintentional or otherwise, with the Islamist stance," Ahmed said.
These are vulnerabilities which cannot be safeguarded by drones, or gunships but instead must be secured by counter ideological warfare which begins here, by widening the debate, discussion and scholarship in the area."
Such considerations were absent in planning the Bulgarian delegation's itinerary, as the FOIA documents show a parade of meetings with prominent U.S.-based Islamist organizations and individuals.
The delegation, for instance, visited the headquarters of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in Washington, D.C. and met with Haris Tarin, director of the organization's Washington office. Founded in the U.S. in 1986, MPAC has a history of defending designated terrorist organizations and their supporters, opposing U.S. counterterrorism efforts, and spewing anti-Semitic rhetoric. The group has questioned America's designation of Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups and called the Hizballah bombing of a U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut as "exactly the kind of attack that Americans might have lauded had it been directed against Washington's enemies."
Tarin has been critical of U.S. foreign and counterterrorism policies, has attempted to whitewash the jihadist threat, and embraced senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders. On Nov. 29, 2011 MPAC hosted a Capitol Hill forum on "Islamic Political Movements and the Arab Spring: Committed to Democracy and Pluralism?" The forum was followed by special dinner with Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia's Ennahda Party. Tarin was a featured speaker at the event. He wrote a post on his Facebook page praising Ghannouchi: "Ghannouchi is an [sic] modern intellectual giant on Islam and governance. BIG TIME! If you are in DC and want to come, hit me up!"
In an interview with the Al Arab Qatari website six months earlier, Ghannouchi called for the destruction of Israel. "I give you the good news that the Arab region will get rid of the bacillus of Israel. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas, said that Israel will disappear by the year 2027. I say that this date may be too far away, and Israel may disappear before this," Ghannouchi said
The delegation also visited the ADAMS Center, a radical Northern Virginia-based mosque that was found to be home to Saudi-produced radical and jihadist literature. According to a 2005 Freedom House report on radical Saudi literature found in American mosques, the materials collected by investigators included a fatwa that forbids Muslims to become United States citizens since the country is governed by infidels:
"It is forbidden for a Muslim to become citizen of a country [such as the United States] governed by infidels."
The Bulgarian delegation met with the staff of the CAIR office in Chicago. CAIR was founded by leaders of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), formerly a central player in Hamas' support network in the U.S. Evidence in the Hamas-financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation placed CAIR within the "Palestine Committee," a network of Muslim Brotherhood-tied organizations in the United States working to support Hamas.
Internal records entered into evidence in the case showed that the Palestine Committee was created to support Hamas "with what it needs of media, money, men and all of that." HLF and five of its employees were found guilty in 2008 on 108 counts for funneling money to Hamas through zakat (charity) committees in the Palestinian territories.
The delegation also visited the Mosque Foundation of Bridgeview, Ill., where they met with Kifah Mustapha. Mustapha also was implicated in the HLF investigation, listed by prosecutors as a Palestine Committee member. Mustapha was a paid HLF fundraiser and sang in the al-Sakhra band, which frequently performed at HLF events.
Mustafa is shown in a video exhibit introduced in the HLF trial performing with the al-Sakhra musical troupe. Mustafa can be seen singing in the chorus supporting Hamas' call for jihad:
"O mother, Hamas for Jihad. Over mosques'
loudspeakers, with freedom. Every day it resists
with stones and the dagger. Tomorrow, with God's
help, it will be with a machine gun and a rifle."
The government's outreach to radical Islamist groups and individuals is not new and has been ongoing for at least the past two decades under the Clinton and Bush administrations. Some of these Islamists include groups and individuals who have been convicted, indicted or designated unindicted co-conspirators in terrorism prosecutions in the U.S.
The State Department spent $40,000 from 1992-2000 to sponsor Abdurahman Alamoudi to represent American Muslims in speaking engagements overseas. Alamoudi, a former head of the now-defunct American Muslim Council, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for illegal financial dealings with Libya. Alamoudi also confessed to being part of a Libyan plot to assassinate the then-crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided financial aid to the Hamas-tied Holy Land Foundation. In 2000, on discovering the agency was providing aid to a terror-linked charity, Thomas R. Pickering, then-Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, ordered termination of HLF's registration with USAID since it was found the partnership was "contrary to the national interests and foreign policy of the United States."
Islamist apologist John Esposito has been sponsored by the State Department to travel overseas and talk about life for Muslims in America to international audiences. FOIA records obtained earlier by the IPT show Esposito traveled overseas several times between 1997 and 2007 on the State Department's dime, including to Pakistan, Bosnia, and Croatia. Esposito has a track record of downplaying the threat from Islamist terrorism and has close ties to CAIR and the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR)—two Muslim Brotherhood front groups that were identified by federal prosecutors in the HLF trial as part of the Hamas-support network in the U.S. Esposito also served as a defense expert in the HLF trial and considers U.S.-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami Al-Arian a close friend.
A March 2009 State Department booklet, titled "Being Muslim in America," ostensibly seeks to debunk the myth that American Muslims are marginalized and do not form part of mainstream America. But at closer glance the booklet reads more like a pro-Islamist propaganda mouthpiece giving voice to standard Islamist grievances such as growing Islamophobia and racial profiling in post-9/11 America.
More recently, the State Department sent MPAC's founder and president, Salam al-Marayati, as its emissary to a human rights forum in Poland in October. Al-Marayati earlier alleged Israel as a suspect behind the 9/11 attacks and called Hizballah attacks "legitimate resistance." This is not the first time the State Department handpicked al-Marayati as its representative, sending him on a 2010 trip to Europe where al-Marayati spoke about free speech and religious freedom.
Jasser criticized the State Department and the Obama administration for their work with "patently Islamist ideologues" such as ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), MPAC and CAIR that helps promote and provide legitimacy to such groups.
"Even though those groups have reportedly anywhere from 4-12% support of American Muslims, the USG endorsements in all its forms props up these groups more as the de facto tribal leaders of our American faith community," Jasser said in an email exchange with the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
"If the Obama administration would actually reach out to more ideologically diverse Muslims, i.e. our AILC [American Islamic Leadership Coalition], they would find that many of the lenses through which they view our communities would need to be changed. They would be forced to address the ideology of Islamism and how to understand the impact that has upon the actions of those groups."
Currently, Jasser emphasized, Islamists provide "unfettered advice [that] leads to pro-Islamist positions domestically and abroad, leading to stronger positions of influence for Islamists and less access for anti-Islamist Muslims. They falsely convince the White House that anti-Islamists are anti-Muslim when the reality could not be more pro-Muslim."
Pallywood: Palestian propaganda lies and western media dupes/complicity
Reply #124 on:
December 29, 2012, 11:57:01 AM »
Qanta Ahmed: Israel's Jihad is mine
Reply #125 on:
January 11, 2013, 03:33:27 PM »
Israel's jihad is mine
by Qanta Ahmed
Times of Israel
January 10, 2013
As Israel considers building a new fence to contain the Syrian conflict to the north, which fences can keep out Hamas's even more lethal ideologies? While Gaza and the Muslim Arab world continue to claim victory in the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, for the sane observers among us, there is only ever defeat – the defeat of morality in the desecration of a great religion. While most Muslims laud Hamas and scorn Israel, for me, an observing Muslim, Israel's war against Hamas remains my struggle – my jihad.
Israel's eight-day operation "Pillar of Defense" sought to dismantle the Hamas apparatus from within Gaza. The predictably seamless alignment of the Muslim world against Israel was even more breathtaking than usual in the face of Syria's 22 months of systematic genocide, one which has consistently failed to trigger unanimous Muslim protest.
What does this say about us as Muslims?
We are hypocrites.
While Muslims define Israel as the enemy, we ignore Assad, and diabolically laud Hamas. Hamas is never sated – each year it devours ever more Palestinians, regardless of age or gender. If Israelis lose fewer citizens than the Palestinians in these conflicts it is for the same reason Israel exchanges more prisoners for each captive soldier: quite simply Israel values human life more than does Hamas, which relishes ground operations taking place among densely populate civilian areas.
Explaining this to Muslims in the Twitterverse, I get sharply reminded that Hamas does not have the "luxury of launch sites" that Israel enjoys. Have we lost our minds, Muslims? How can we speak of 'launch sites' as 'luxuries' while disregarding the culling taking place in Syria? Perhaps we have not lost our minds, but we have most certainly lost our religion.
As I am not one to speak for others, allow me to let Hamas speak for themselves. They are bald-faced about their mission, seeking glory through death, annunciation through annihilation:
We are ready to offer 1,000, 2,000 or even 10,000 martyrs every year. We are ready to keep offering martyrs for twenty years because we are sure we are moving in the right direction and that we will prevail in the end" (Hamas leader Khalid Al Mish'al in Gaza"
To Hamas, a Palestinian life is worth more when "martyred," a dead child more of a blessing than one living. "The children of the kindergarten are the shaheeds [martyrs] of tomorrow," reads a sign displayed at a Hamas-run kindergarten. The martyrdom mantra is their anthem.
While observers speculate Hamas will shortly usurp the crumbling Fatah leadership and ideologically annex the West Bank, we must remember Hamas' raison d'etre: Islamist nihilism, a totalitarian ideology, jet-fueled on the language and images stolen from mighty Islam. Israeli negotiators who must engage with this opponent are walking on the sharp-edged sword of Damocles and unlike Muslims, the Israelis certainly know it.
Coloring their fascism with Islam, Hamas claims religious legitimacy to openly seek destruction of the Jewish state and eradication of the Jewish people. By grafting themselves onto Into Islamic ideals – the vertebral column of that which is most sacred to Muslims – they render Islam itself heinous, representing their true ruthlessness: theirs is a willingness to sacrifice anything –including Islam – to portray Israel as evil.
This ethos was captured in a single unprecedented obscenity: Hamas' morbid motorcade. Cocksure thugs, defiantly cruising on motorcycles trailed exposed cadavers of Palestinians – Muslim men – trousers pooled at dead ankles. To chants of 'Allah-hu-Akbar' as dozens of Palestinian onlookers silently watched, Hamas took its ghoulish victory lap explicitly to show Gazans how they execute 'suspected informers to Israel'. This is the Islam of Hamas.
This is why Hamas does not represent me, or other believing Muslims. This is why Israel's battle is mine. This is why Israel's struggle – Israel's jihad – is mine. These are the 'Muslims' that Israelis must confront and these are the "Muslims" who intimidate innocent Palestinians into subjugation to their monstrous political Islamism.
But we Muslims in particular, more than conflict-hardened Israelis, should hardly be surprised, for it was Muslims who were once forewarned of scourges such as Hamas.
The Prophet Mohammed (SAW) was once asked what he most feared for his followers. Centuries later, his response, recorded in the hadith, haunts, stating he feared those who:
…Interpret verses of the Qur'an out of context…A people that recite Qur'an….but it will not go past their throats, a people with excellent words and vile deeds. They will pass through the religion (of Islam) like the arrow passes through its quarry. They will no more come back to the religion than the arrow will come back to its course. They are the worst of human beings and the worst of all creation. They summon to the book of Allah, but they have nothing to do with it. Whoever kills them is closer to Allah than they.
This is the true nature of Hamas, which recites the Quran yet doesn't hold it in their hearts, that "summon to the book of Allah but have nothing to do with it." By the above, it would seem the IDF (that eliminates Hamas) is surely closer to Allah than Hamas.
Yet instead of condemning Hamas, and recognizing them as imposters among us, the Muslim world celebrates them, even as Hamas violates the most profound Islamic principle: the sanctity of life, a right man must protect even in preference to any rights God claims from man.
When Muslims support Hamas, we support no less than the signatories to Islam's collective extinction. Muslim support renders Hamas legitimate, their methods acceptable, their ideals valid. Our support as Muslims is their lifeblood. In supporting them, we hemorrhage our only currency, our only asset – our great monotheism.
Two years into the Arab Awakening, the freshly turned soil is ripe for the seeding. Hamas operatives everywhere are already celebrated as 'liberators' of Gazans, when they have actually long been their jailers, 'victors' over Israel, when Hamas is the personal death knell of all pluralism in the region. Gazans so recently celebrating in the street are no more than hostages afflicted with the worst Stockholm Syndrome imaginable, heading to their own death through their misplaced hope in their virulently Islamist leadership.
During Operation Pillar of Defense, Jewish friends said "this must be such a difficult time for you, but I am glad of our friendship" implying that because I am Muslim, my loyalty must surely be to Gaza, my enmity automatically aligned with Israel.
Not so. As a Muslim, I am clear: my loyalty is with Islam, and therefore explicitly with justice, justice for all humanity, a humanity that must include Jews. Hamas is obscenely unjust, so how can my loyalty be with them? To be loyal to Hamas is no less than to abandon Islam. To be loyal to Hamas is the ultimate blasphemy.
While I understand the need for Israeli negotiators to engage with Hamas first to secure the current ceasefire and then for some sort of functional peace, the reality is their militant ideology must be suffocated out of existence or else the détente is little more than an illusion. For this, unlike for suicide bombers or Syrian rockets, there are no Israeli fences or walls, no Iron Domes, only Muslim barriers – robust barriers of counter-ideology.
It is Muslims who must take the first steps to excoriate Hamas, to expose them as the ruthless nihilists they explicitly announce themselves to be. We must scorn Hamas for masquerading among the poor as their savior when they are instead their executioner. Muslims must hold all media accountable for telling the truth: Palestinians are the Muslims orphaned not by Israel but by the entire Muslim world itself. Land-grabs and permanent refugee camps are testament to such.
We must ask ourselves the difficult questions. Does Hamas, who prostitute their progeny in the service of terror, represent Islam? Is Hamas emulating our Prophet as they rain rockets on unarmed, civilian, non-combatants? Do their Fajr missiles, named after Muslim prayers no less, encompass the spirit of Islam as was revealed to its followers? Do Hamas' stated goals – including elimination of Israel – represent coexistence with the People of the Book, who are cherished in the Quran as dear to God and their Messenger, Moses, particularly admired by our Maker for his courage in the face of fear?
Don't be fooled by Hamas' words Muslims; we have a duty to judge them on their vile deeds.
If Islam is to truly thrive, it will only do so when more and more anti-Islamist Muslims confront and extinguish radical Islamist ideologues. Otherwise, we stand to lose both Israel and Islam in one fell swoop of the Islamist axe. Whether rescuing Palestinians and Israelis captive to the whim of Hamas, or rescuing Islam from Islamist Hamas, this is truly our jihad and no one else's, which is why Israel's jihad is also mine.
Qanta Ahmed is a physician and author of In the Land of Invisible Women; Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion; @MissDiagnosis;
Turkish journalist defends Israel
Reply #126 on:
January 13, 2013, 12:47:52 PM »
Reply #127 on:
January 23, 2013, 11:35:49 AM »
Re: Communicating with the Muslim World
Reply #128 on:
April 16, 2013, 12:12:31 PM »
One thing in English, another in Arabic
Reply #129 on:
April 16, 2013, 04:08:17 PM »
second post of the day:
Muslim Brotherhood Leader Pens Bizarre Boston Bombing Note Pointing to Widespread Conspiracy
Dr. Essam el-Erian, a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, has apparently turned to his Facebook page to put out some confounding commentary about Monday’s tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon. According to an English translation, el-Erian expressed sympathy for the American people, but then purportedly connected the bombings to other incidents that have unfolded in the Middle East of late. The tone was conspiratorial in nature, as the note connected global events and wondered who is planting Islamophobia. Here’s how Foreign Policy’s Passport blog frames the message:
A common criticism of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has always been that it delivers one message in English to an international audience, and another message entirely in Arabic to its domestic audience. If anyone is ever looking for an example of this, they need to look no further than the Islamist organization’s reaction to the bombing of the Boston Marathon.
In English, the Brotherhood’s political party released a statement “categorically reject[ing] as intolerable the bombings committed in the U.S. city of Boston,” and “offer[ing] heartfelt sympathies and solemn condolences to the American people and the families of the victims.”
In Arabic, senior Brotherhood leader and the vice chairman of the group’s political party Essam el-Erian took a different tack. In a post on his Facebook page, he condemned the Boston attack — but also linked it to the French war in Mali, the destruction in Syria and Iraq, and faltering rapprochement between the Turkish government and Kurdish rebels.
While el-Erian’s post starts with condolences, most of its contents are devoted to posing odd questions and pondering who is behind attacks on Islamic states.
“Our sympathy with the families of the victims, and the American people do not stop us from reading into the grave incident,” he wrote, launching into a recap of recent violence. “This series of events began with the sending of French battalions to Mali in a war against organisations that are said to belong to Al-Qaeda.”
After referencing Mali, the note goes on to discuss Syria, claiming that “bombings intensified” there “in a suspicious manner.” And violence, too, it charges, has returned to Iraq.
“Violent explosions returned, rearing their ugly heads again in Iraq, targeting peaceful movements aiming for needed reform,” the Muslim Brotherhood leader continued. “After a reasonable calm in Somalia, the capital Mogadishu shook again, leading to lowered confidence in the new president and government.”
And he didn’t end there. While one might be confused as to what he is alluding to throughout the Facebook post, at the end of his writings it becomes clear: He’s looking for someone — mainly a group — to blame for what he sees as potentially-coordinated unrest in the Middle East.
“Who disturbed democratic transformations, despite the difficult transition from despotism, corruption, poverty, hatred, and intolerance to freedom, justice tolerance, development, human dignity, and social justice?,” el-Erian asked. “Who planted Islamophobia through research, the press, and the media? Who funded the violence?”
It’s difficult to tell who the Muslim Brotherhood official is blaming for the unrest. But his claims also caught the attention of The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who called them “bizarre.”
We’ll leave you with el-Erian’s full statement, below (as per mbinenglish.com):
The criminal acts in Boston, which killed three and wounded 244, comes in the context of reproducing an old case that will not return and not produce negative effects on Islam and Muslims. Our sympathy with the families of the victims, and the American people do not stop us from reading into the grave incident.
This series of events began with the sending of French battalions to Mali in a war against organisations that are said to belong to Al-Qaeda. Bombings intensified in Syria in a suspicious manner that deviated from the path of the great Syrian revolution, and smear campaigns began. Violent explosions returned, rearing their ugly heads again in Iraq, targeting peaceful movements aiming for needed reform. After a reasonable calm in Somalia, the capital Mogadishu shook again, leading to lowered confidence in the new president and government. The historic agreement, which ended the fiercest regional conflict, between Erdogan and the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is faltering.
A question that forces itself: Who disturbed democratic transformations, despite the difficult transition from despotism, corruption, poverty, hatred, and intolerance to freedom, justice tolerance, development, human dignity, and social justice?
Who planted Islamophobia through research, the press, and the media?
Who funded the violence?
The march of the Arab peoples will continue, and the will of right, justice, and dignity will triumph, and Syria will triumph to democratic transition movements with the permission of the victorious One God Almighty, who cannot be rendered incapable.
Boston Bomber exposes Islamist Secret
Reply #130 on:
April 23, 2013, 07:22:08 PM »
Boston Bomber Exposes Islamist Secret
April 23, 2013
Now he's in trouble.
It is one thing for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to be seen on security camera videos placing one of the bombs that killed three people at last week's Boston Marathon.
But now he's really crossed a line.
Tsarnaev is telling investigators he and his brother were motivated by religion to plot their carnage, media reports citing anonymous federal sources say.
Radical Islam. It's a label banned by the Obama administration. National Islamist groups say it doesn't belong in conversations about terrorism. Tsarnaev didn't get the memo.
Recovering from multiple gunshot wounds, Dzhokhar told investigators from his hospital bed that he and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev were driven by religious fervor and took their instructions from al-Qaida's Inspire magazine, NBC News reports. Anger at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan fueled their rage, the Washington Post reports.
That motivation echoes justifications offered by Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan for the Fort Hood shooting spree that killed 13 people and Faisal Shahzad's sentencing rant about his attempt to bomb Times Square in 2010. "The crusading U.S. and NATO forces who have occupied the Muslim lands under the pretext of democracy and freedom for the last nine years and are saying with their mouths that they are fighting terrorism, I say to them, we don't accept your democracy nor your freedom, because we already have Sharia law and freedom," Shahzad told the court. "Furthermore, brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me only a first droplet of the flood that will follow me."
Despite this candor from terrorists, the Obama administration and Islamist groups have argued that referring to terrorists' religious motivations somehow grants them religious legitimacy. "Nor does President Obama see this challenge as a fight against jihadists," CIA Director John Brennan said in 2009 when he was White House terrorism adviser. "Describing terrorists in this way, using the legitimate term 'jihad,' which means to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal, risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve."
Similarly, Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Paul Stockton squirmed and obfuscated when asked about the role radical Islam played in past terror plots.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) tried to stem the tide about radical Islam that Tsarnaev unleashed by issuing a news release Tuesday. It decries the focus on a radical Islamic motive for the Boston Marathon bombings as inherently bigoted. The "wave of inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric" is solely due to the Tsarnaev's Muslim faith, the statement said.
CAIR co-founder and Executive Director Nihad Awad "said the recent spike in hate rhetoric comes in the wake of a coordinated long-term effort by Islamophobic activists and groups to demonize Islam and marginalize American Muslims."
One imagines they'll give Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a good talking-to for demonizing Islam in his statements to investigators.
The Tsarnaev case threatens the Islamist narrative that radical Islamic ideology in terror attacks should be ignored or minimized.
As former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Nomani writes in Tuesday's Washington Post, the Tsarnaevs' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, offered an example for Muslims to follow. In an impromptu exchange with reporters outside his home, Tsarni expressed profound grief toward the victims, acknowledged "somebody radicalized" his nephews, and said they were "losers" who brought shame to the family."
This, Nomani writes, "accomplished something that 11 years of post-9/11 press releases, news conferences and soundbites by too many American Muslim leaders has failed to do on the issue of radicalization and terrorism: with raw, unfettered emotion, he owned up to the problem within."
Contrary to the expectations of a backlash against Muslims described by Islamist groups, Tsarni was not met with rank bigotry. He was hailed for his heartfelt response and became an Internet sensation.
"And the collectivist-minded Muslim community needs to learn an important lesson from Tsarni," Nomani writes. "It's time to acknowledge the dishonor of terrorism within our communities, not to deny it because of shame. As we negotiate critical issues of ethnicity, religious ideology and identity as potential motivators for conflict, we have to establish basic facts."
Nomani is an individual Muslim, and someone outside the national advocacy groups which claim to speak for Muslim Americans. There is little indication those national organizations are ready to meet the challenge. Hassan Shibly, director of the Tampa office for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), rules out religion as a factor in an interview with On Islam.
Asked whether Islam, a "wicked understanding" of it or American policy influenced the Tsarnaevs, Shibly answered, "None of the above" and cast the brothers as mentally ill. "No mentally healthy individual can accept the intentional attack against innocent civilians, especially not in the name of any divine faith."
But reports of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's radicalization grow more numerous by the hour. He frequented jihadi websites, officials told the Associated Press Tuesday. He posted jihadi videos to his Youtube account.
Examining the Tsarnaevs' radical Islamic beliefs is not a statement about any other Muslims, but an acknowledgement of the reality that led them to murder innocent people at a marathon race. Motivation is relevant in a crime. There is no outcry when motive is discussed in radical supremacist or anti-government violence. There should be no chilling of discussion about radical Islam when it clearly is present.
But liberal academics and media figures continue to try to quash such talk. On HBO's "Real Time," host Bill Maher – himself a liberal – dismissed California State San Bernandino's Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism Director Brian Levin's accusation of Islamophobia as "liberal bulls**t."
His students, and even his children's dentist, are Muslims, Levin said, and are "fine, upstanding" people. By focusing on radical Islam, Maher is "promoting Islamic hatred."
Maher shot that down, saying there's a problem when religiously motivated violence emanates more from one faith than all others.
One thing Levin got right is that there is vast heterogeneity among the world's 1.4 billion Muslims. That's why national Islamist groups which claim to speak for Muslim Americans can't be considered reliable even though reporters and many government officials treat them as though they are. CAIR is lashing out, trying to cast the focus on radical Islam as a bigoted conspiracy to marginalize all Muslim Americans.
You won't see CAIR or other Islamist groups standing by Nomani, Zuhdi Jasser, or Sacramento Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad. Politically, there's probably very little on which these three agree, reflecting that diversity Levin referenced. But they all believe Muslims need to be bolder in confronting the radical segments within their own faith community.
"There is a deep soulful battle of identity raging within the Muslim consciousness domestically and abroad between Westernism and liberalism," Jasser said this week. "In essence the Islamists confront every situation in a selfish 'we are the victims' mentality and the rest of us non-Islamist Muslims need to instead respond with a louder and more real leadership and say: 'We will not be victims.'"
In a 2011 column, Ahmad called it "a mistake in my view for American Muslims to categorize every and all suspicion or criticism of Islam and Muslims as simply the result of islamophobia. To do so, only serves to perpetuate the view that many Americans have of Muslims as irrational people, who cannot be trusted. This makes our fight against islamophobia using our current tactics, a winless and counterproductive campaign.
"The obsessive American Muslim campaign against islamophobia and the questionable tactics we are employing to that end, says a lot about who we are as a people of faith. It implies that we reject our own religious axioms of being able to withstand criticism, hatred, and accepting that not everyone will share our point of view. It also says that we have very little spiritual fortitude."
Jasser, Imam Ahmad and Nomani display confidence in their faith. They aren't afraid of the debate. If only national Islamist groups could be so bold.
Newsmax: Could MA progressivism influenced Boston Bombers?
Reply #131 on:
April 25, 2013, 10:14:22 AM »
The Boston Marathon massacre was carried out by two Caucasian Muslim brothers, one an American citizen, the other likely a green-card holder.
In the aftermath, the politically correct media and commentators are all flabbergasted. Over and over, the media reported, “Dzhokhar was a normal American kid.” They wondered: What could be the terrorists’ motivations?
Recently, talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh came under liberal media attack for linking the bombers’ behavior to the “liberal elite intellectual thought” that infects the Boston community. Limbaugh explained to a caller on his show how such a mindset harms young kids.
“They hang around people that don’t like America, they get inspired or influenced by it somehow, and it’s no wonder. If you end up around the wrong people long enough and you’re young enough and impressionable enough, then that kind of thing can happen,” Limbaugh said.
With the questions swirling of why two upwardly mobile young people in America could commit such acts, a good place to start would be the “educations” the two Tsarnaev brothers received. Younger brother Dzhokhar graduated from the celebrated Boston high school Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS). A graduate of CRLS has had years of anti-American claptrap crammed down his throat.
The media has widely quoted retired CRLS teacher Larry Aaronson’s shocked reminiscences about Dzhokhar. Aaronson told The Boston Globe, “This is a progressive town, the People’s Republic, and how could this be in our midst?
“I’m at a loss. I’m at a total and complete loss.”
Well, Larry might start looking at his own classroom handiwork. Aaronson is an acolyte of the raving, America-hating, deceased “revisionist historian” Howard Zinn.
Zinn was a liberal elite darling. Zinn claimed his eyes were opened to the racist, imperialist horror that is America by writer I.F. Stone, who later was confirmed to be a KGB covert influence agent when the Iron Curtain fell and certain Soviet documents became public.
Aaronson, who retired in 2007, used to brag to anyone who would listen that he had taught Zinn’s textbook to CLRS students since the beginning of his career in 1981.
Aaronson also proudly related how his students at CLRS had included actor Matt Damon and Damon’s brother. He proudly told how the Damon boys were taken with the anti-American history of Zinn. Larry, in an homage to Zinn upon his death in 2008, started with this quote from the movie “Good Will Hunting,” quoting Matt Damon, “You wanna read a really good American history book? Read Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History of the United States.’ It will knock your socks off.”
If you don’t know Zinn’s handiwork, here’s a sample of his writing in The Progressive. Zinn’s contempt for America and its citizens fairly drips from each word: “The deeply ingrained belief — no, not from birth but from the educational system and from our culture in general that the United States is an especially virtuous nation makes us especially vulnerable to government deception. It starts early, in the first grade, when we are compelled to ‘pledge allegiance’ (before we even know what that means), forced to proclaim that we are a nation with ‘liberty and justice for all.’
“And then come the countless ceremonies, whether at the ballpark or elsewhere, where we are expected to stand and bow our heads during the singing of the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ announcing that we are ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave.’ There is also the unofficial national anthem ‘God Bless America,’ and you are looked on with suspicion if you ask why we would expect God to single out this one nation — just 5 percent of the world’s population — for his or her blessing.”
Aaronson boasted that angry parents called him to say their kids were talking about “that bastard Christopher Columbus … and his genocide, and how we have to question our history books and re-examine the evidence.” The CRLS teacher continued with relish, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
With that backstory illuminated, let’s return to the liberal media puzzling over “What could the Tsarnaev boys’ motive possibly be?”
After the Marathon massacre, the media quoted the Zinn-acolyte Aaronson in its stories about the terrorist mass murderer.
Aaronson was “utterly shocked by the news.” The media reported that, “Aaronson taught social studies at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, where Dzhokhar was a student.”
The media reports continued, “Dzhokhar also lives just about three houses down from Aaronson’s condo, so they would talk from time to time after Dzhokhar's graduation in 2011.”
“I will say to you and to anyone who asks me,” Aaronson told WBUR’s David Boeri outside his home in Cambridge on Friday morning, “he had a heart of gold, he was a sweetheart, he was gracious, he was caring, he was compassionate.”
ABC, CBS, USA Today, The New York Times, and CNN all carried versions of Aaronson’s comments about “how normal” his neighbor and student Dzhokhar was.
None of the media provided any other background on Aaronson and his brainwashing of students at CRLS with Zinn’s history. The media reports studiously ignore the connection between Dzhokhar’s anti-American lessons taught by a “social justice” weenie like Aaronson or from a book by follower Zinn who took his cues from a KGB covert influence agent named Stone – and was later slyly celebrated in a Hollywood film known as Matt Damon’s “Good Will Hunting.”
As for the older brother Tamerlan’s “education,” it appears that he was a follower of a Lebanese-Australian extremist cleric whose messages of hatred for Western culture were prominent on Tamerlan’s YouTube playlists, and he may well have been taught terrorist techniques during a recent trip abroad.
It appears that Tamerlan recently spent six months overseas. In Russia? Or did he travel elsewhere? Did he go to Chechnya? Did he spend time in what appears to be his homeland, Dagestan, where his father now lives? Who did he meet there? What did he do there? We do know that Tamerlan returned “from Russia” in the summer of 2012. His brother would have been out of high school for about a year. His return was about nine months before the Boston Marathon bombing.
If Tamerlan trained on bombing and attack techniques, he could have returned to Boston with the attack plan fully laid out. He would have the skills required to make the bombs. He would likely already have identified the target. And he would have the techniques required to carry out the attacks. All that would be missing was the materials to make the bombs, and an accomplice.
So, in this scenario, we have a committed, trained Islamic terrorist ready to carry out his attack. What pool will he draw from to recruit his accomplice?
Why, his “average American” brother, Dzhokhar.
Kent Clizbe is a former CIA counterterrorism operations officer. His two books, “Willing Accomplices” and “Obliterating Exceptionalism,” detail how political correctness became part of American culture. His website is KentClizbe.com
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US hating American prof stabbed by US hating Egyptian Muslim
Reply #132 on:
May 11, 2013, 03:06:33 PM »
American Professor Who Hates America Stabbed in Cairo by Muslim Who Also Hates America
May 10, 2013 By Daniel Greenfield Comments (89)
Sometimes poetic justice is very poetic. Other times it’s ironic. And sometimes it’s a teachable moment about the folly of appeasement.
Not that Dr. Christopher Stone will have learned anything from his experience. Leftist academics are not very educable. Not even when their Muslim teachers are stabbing them in the neck. (via Debbie Schlussel)
A man stabbed in the neck near the US Embassy in Cairo on Thursday has been identified as Chris Stone, an American academic. Stone is associate professor of Arabic and head of the Arabic Programme at City University.
Lebanese political science professor Asaad Abu Khalil described Stone via Facebook as a “model academic and a man who has dealt with Arabs and their causes with extreme respect, sensitivity, and support.” Stone is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and writes frequently against Zionism, Khalil added.
According to Al-Ahram, Stone told prosecutors the attack took place while he was on his way to the US Embassy to finish some paperwork for his wife. A young man enquired about his nationality and stabbed him in the neck after he said he was American.
Just in case there was any doubt whatsoever about the motive, Mahmoud Badr, the stabber, who has a bachelor’s degree in commerce, clarified his motive…
The man who stabbed an American in Cairo on Thursday says he was motivated by a hatred of the United States.
Ironically, hating the United States was something that Mahmoud had in common with Christopher. When invited to a seven year old’s Israel themed birthday party, Stone declined by asserting that he didn’t just hate Israel… he also hated America, writing…
“If she had invited me to a party celebrating the US I suspect my response would have been the same. This is not ONLY because of the odious behavior of the US and Israeli governments, but also because of the destruction wrought in the name of nationalism in general.”
So presumably Christopher Stone didn’t do Fourth of July parties. He did however sign a petition demanding that the NYPD commissioner step down for fighting Muslim terrorism. And wrote angry letters to the paper about the Zionist Entity.
Gaza is a virtual prison, and the West Bank is on its way to being chopped up into apartheid-like cantons…
Mr. Morris says the Iranian president’s denial of the existence of homosexuality in Iran ”underscore
his irrationality.” State denial of facts was not invented by Iran. Does not Israel’s denial of its own state terrorism underscore its irrationality?
Speaking of irrationality, Stone imagined that he could parade around a newly Islamist Egypt protected only by his hatred of the Great and Little Satan.
He was mistaken.
Muslim violence doesn’t just hurt the “bad” Americans who watch 4th of July fireworks and like the Constitution. It also hurts good Americans who teach Arabic and hate America.
Back in the day, Muslims had special clothing for Dhimmis to wear to signify their acceptance of second class status under Islamic supremacism. Stone though that his Keffiyah did the trick. Next time he’ll know better.
Re: Communicating with the Muslim World
Reply #133 on:
May 11, 2013, 08:16:25 PM »
Keeping our heads in the Sand after Boston
Reply #134 on:
May 14, 2013, 11:05:26 AM »
Keeping Our Heads in the Sand After Boston
May 14, 2013
Be the first of your friends to like this.
The Obama administration's policy banning references to "Islamic extremism" and "jihad" in discussions about terrorism drew criticism during last Thursday's House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the Boston Marathon bombings.
The bombings "should again teach us that the enemy we face is violent Islamist extremism, not just al Qaida," said former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman. "Osama bin Laden is dead. And the remaining leadership of al Qaida is on the run, but the ideology of violent Islamist extremism is rapidly spreading."
The Boston investigation already has shown that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev "adopted the outrageously false narrative of violent Islamist extremism, that Islam and America are involved in a struggle to the death with each other," Lieberman said.
It has been more than five years since the Department of Homeland Security, under the Bush administration, issued a directive about "the difficult terrain of terminology" as recommended by unidentified academics and Muslim American activists. "Jihadist" and "Islamist terrorist" were identified as terms to be avoided. Jihad "glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have, and damages relations with Muslims around the globe," the memo said.
By identifying them as mere extremists or criminals, they lose some of the luster that attracts recruits, the argument goes.
Is it working? How can you tell?
Anecdotally, this strategy did nothing to dissuade the Tsarnaevs, or any of the other homegrown terrorist plotters in recent years. The policy's effectiveness is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify. But skeptics, such as Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program Director Jeffrey M. Bale, say the language policy is illogical.
"Why, after all, would Muslims look to non-Muslims to interpret their religion for them, or for guidance about how to identify and label Islamists?" Bale said in response to an email from the Investigative Project on Terrorism. "Indeed, if we call jihadists 'criminals,' it may actually have the counterproductive effect of garnering more sympathy for them given the levels of anti-U.S. and anti-Western hostility throughout the Muslim world."
Jihadists routinely make it plain that – while religion may not be the sole factor driving them to violence – their Islamic beliefs and identities dominate their thinking. "We in the West just don't seem to want to believe what they constantly say," Bale wrote. (Read his full response here.)
Faisal Shahzad failed to set off the car bomb he built and parked near Times Square in 2010. But he said he tried to kill Americans because he saw himself as part of "the war against people who believe in the book of Allah and follow the commandments, so this is a war against Allah. So let's see how you can defeat your Creator, which you can never do. Therefore, the defeat of U.S. is imminent and will happen in the near future, inshallah [God willing], which will only give rise to much awaited Muslim caliphate, which is the only true world order."
Farooque Ahmed similarly thought he was acting to defend Muslims when he plotted to attack subway stops along Washington's Metro.
FBI agents were drawn to Ahmed after he tried to make contact with terrorist groups so he could wage jihad against Americans. At Ahmed's sentencing, public defender Kenneth Troccoli explained that Ahmed's extreme religious beliefs helped land him in front of the court.
"First, there's an incessant message that is delivered by radical followers of Islam that one cannot be true to the faith unless they take action, including violent action, most especially violent action. And this is a message which of course the United States combats in many different fronts," Troccoli said. "But [it] is an incessant message nonetheless that for a person like Mr. Ahmed who is a believer in Islam and is a Muslim, he hears all the time that he is not -- not only is he not sufficient under the faith, if one were to believe these negative messages, but he's also not patriotic because he was born and raised until he was 16 in Pakistan."
Ahmed bought the message offered by American-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, among others, that Muslims who do not wage jihad, "literally will not find salvation under their faith."
The problem is especially acute for converts, a study by the Henry Jackson Society found. They were involved in nearly a quarter of the 171 al-Qaida related offenses in the United States since 1997.
Zachary Chesser wanted to join the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab not long after converting to Islam. Chesser is serving 25 years in prison for trying to provide material support to al-Shabaab and for his role in threatening the producers of "South Park" following an episode portraying the prophet Muhammad in a bear suit. The producers wanted to show that Islam is the only major religion which prompts violent reactions to any criticism or mockery.
His case generated a bipartisan report on online radicalization by the Senate Homeland Security Committee. In a handwritten letter from prison, Chesser told committee staffers that, "My religion, the state of affairs in the Muslim world and a desire to alleviate suffering within it led me to desire to fight jihad."
Muslims investigating their faith find two choices, he wrote, "do nothing and pray or fight jihad somewhere. Increasingly, 'somewhere' is here. One does not typically run across the fiqh [jurisprudence] of diplomacy and negotiations unless to go into great depth."
"The one who sets out to learn inevitably sees jihad as viable and preferable at some point," Chesser wrote.
Rather than merely ignoring Chesser's path to radicalization, and his language, a counter-narrative is needed to rebut the narrative put forth by al-Qaida, Awlaki and other religious scholars that are readily accessible on the Internet. There are heroic efforts made by individual Muslims. But it is here that the government policy, stoked by national Islamist groups (see sidebar), proves woefully misguided.
During an appearance on CNN after the Marathon bombing, former radical Islamist Maajid Nawaz advocated "challenging the jihadist ideology, discrediting their propaganda." Ask someone to identify the symbols and leaders representing radical Islam, and "[y]ou'd think of the black flags, you'd think of the leaders such as bin Laden, Awlaki, Ayman Zawahiri. If I asked the same question for leaders and symbols of democratic activism in the Middle East today, we're much harder pressed to think of those leaders and symbols. And that tells us something about the power of the radical Islamist brand today versus the power of the democratic brand. And that's what we should really be focusing on."
But you can't counter narratives when you refuse to acknowledge their existence. That's what the current policy does.
In a separate CNN appearance, Nawaz said Muslim jihadists see America as the true enemy in a global war. "The younger [Tsarnaev] brother, let's remember, said in his interview that he was fighting on behalf of the Afghans and the Iraqis. He's probably never visited those two countries. Yet somehow, he felt that he owed more allegiance to Iraq and Afghanistan than to the very country that adopted him," Nawaz said.
The American-Islamic Forum for Democracy has launched a Muslim Liberty Project aimed at promoting patriotism as compatible with faith, rather than promoting the notion of a universal "ummah," or Muslim nation. The 2008 DHS directive on language frowns upon use of the word "liberty," saying that "many around the world would discount the term as a buzzword for American hegemony.
Forum founder Zuhdi Jasser said national Islamist groups have failed to lead on the issue.
"And that many of the leadership in our community says, oh, there's no problem. These guys weren't even really Muslims. We don't have the narrative about victimization, America's biggest, America's anti-Muslim, anti-Islam, they're killing Muslims abroad. They're in Muslim lands," Jasser said. "This narrative is not balanced by other Muslim leaders, the reformists that are anti-Islamist that believe in American liberty, and that imbalance creates a narrative that makes them feel that this society is not theirs, that they're visitors."
Jasser is a devout Muslim working to elbow his way into the discussion about Islam in America. When Islamist groups like CAIR or the Muslim Public Affairs Council – which are used to controlling the microphone – cannot argue against the merits of Jasser's message, they quickly turn to vicious ad hominem attacks.
A look at the home pages for CAIR, MPAC, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim American Society and others shows plenty of blanket condemnations of the Boston attacks and statements that they do not represent Muslims. But no one has produced a detailed rebuttal to the ubiquitous online rhetoric that radicalized the Tsarnaevs and dozens of other young people.
In a recent column, Canadian physician and writer Ali A. Rizvi, an atheist who left Islam, criticized what he called "the 'anything but jihad' brigade" which wants to consider every possible motivation for the Boston attacks and a disrupted terror plot in Canada, except for religious radicalism, despite what Tsarnaev told investigators.
If terrorists say they were motivated by their interpretation of Islam, it should be openly discussed, Rizvi wrote. Doing so is not an indictment of all Muslims any more than saying "smoking is bad" is the same as saying "all smokers are bad."
"Timothy McVeigh (also a terrorist by any definition of the word) didn't yell 'Jesus is great!' before carrying out the Oklahoma City bombing," Rizvi wrote. "His brand of terrorism wasn't linked to Christianity, because it wasn't carried out in the name of it. (In contrast, the bombing of abortion clinics is terrorism universally acknowledged as being linked with Christian religious extremism.)"
Radical rhetoric is not shunned when it comes to other forms of political violence. When Jared Laughner killed six people and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in January 2011, media attention immediately turned to a political ad that featured crosshairs over various congressional districts, including Giffords'. Subsequent investigation, however, failed to turn up any political motivation for Laughner's madness.
Similarly, when some Tea Party rallies drew people carrying arms, talking heads expressed concern that it posed an inherent risk of violence.
Nobody tried to stifle those debates and, if they had merit, they would have been vigorously pursued. It should be no different when Muslims pursue political violence which they say is in furtherance of their religious beliefs.
It's time to review the policy on politically correct language.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: The problem of Muslim Leadership
Reply #135 on:
May 28, 2013, 05:18:53 AM »
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: The Problem of Muslim Leadership
Another Islamist terror attack, another round of assurances that it had nothing to do with the religion of peace.
By AYAAN HIRSI ALI
I've seen this before. A Muslim terrorist slays a non-Muslim citizen in the West, and representatives of the Muslim community rush to dissociate themselves and their faith from the horror. After British soldier Lee Rigby was hacked to death last week in Woolwich in south London, Julie Siddiqi, representing the Islamic Society of Britain, quickly stepped before the microphones to attest that all good Muslims were "sickened" by the attack, "just like everyone else."
This happens every time. Muslim men wearing suits and ties, or women wearing stylish headscarves, are sent out to reassure the world that these attacks have no place in real Islam, that they are aberrations and corruptions of the true faith.
But then what to make of Omar Bakri? He too claims to speak for the true faith, though he was unavailable for cameras in England last week because the Islamist group he founded, Al-Muhajiroun, was banned in Britain in 2010. Instead, he talked to the media from Tripoli in northern Lebanon, where he now lives. Michael Adebolajo—the accused Woolwich killer who was seen on a video at the scene of the murder, talking to the camera while displaying his bloody hands and a meat cleaver—was Bakri's student a decade ago, before his group was banned. "A quiet man, very shy, asking lots of questions about Islam," Bakri recalled last week. The teacher was impressed to see in the grisly video how far his shy disciple had come, "standing firm, courageous, brave. Not running away."
Bakri also told the press: "The Prophet said an infidel and his killer will not meet in Hell. That's a beautiful saying. May God reward [Adebolajo] for his actions . . . I don't see it as a crime as far as Islam is concerned."
The question requiring an answer at this moment in history is clear: Which group of leaders really speaks for Islam? The officially approved spokesmen for the "Muslim community"? Or the manic street preachers of political Islam, who indoctrinate, encourage and train the killers—and then bless their bloodshed?
In America, too, the question is pressing. Who speaks for Islam? The Council on American-Islamic Relations, America's largest Muslim civil-liberties advocacy organization? (MARC: I would not give this organization the respect Ali appears to give here) Or one of the many Web-based jihadists who have stepped in to take the place of the late Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born al Qaeda recruiter?
Some refuse even to admit that this is the question on everyone's mind. Amazingly, given the litany of Islamist attacks—from the 9/11 nightmare in America and the London bombings of July 7, 2005, to the slayings at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009, at the Boston Marathon last month and now Woolwich—some continue to deny any link between Islam and terrorism. This week, BBC political editor Nick Robinson had to apologize for saying on the air, as the news in Woolwich broke, that the men who murdered Lee Rigby were "of Muslim appearance."
Memo to the BBC: The killers were shouting "Allahu akbar" as they struck. Yet when complaints rained down on the BBC about Mr. Robinson's word choice, he felt obliged to atone. One can only wonder at people who can be so exquisitely sensitive in protecting Islam's reputation yet so utterly desensitized to a hideous murder explicitly committed in the name of Islam.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Woolwich murder, it was good to hear expressions of horror and sympathy from Islamic spokesmen, but something more is desperately required: genuine recognition of the problem with Islam.
Muslim leaders should ask themselves what exactly their relationship is to a political movement that encourages young men to kill and maim on religious grounds. Think of the Tsarnaev brothers and the way they justified the mayhem they caused in Boston. Ponder carefully the words last week of Michael Adebolajo, his hands splashed with blood: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day."
My friend, the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, was murdered in 2004 for having been insufficiently reverent toward Islam. In the courtroom, the killer looked at Theo's mother and said to her: "I must confess honestly that I do not empathize with you. I do not feel your pain. . . . I cannot empathize with you because you are an unbeliever."
And yet, after nearly a decade of similar rhetoric from Islamists around the world, last week the Guardian newspaper could still run a headline quoting a Muslim Londoner: "These poor idiots have nothing to do with Islam." Really? Nothing?
Of course, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists or sympathetic to terrorists. Equating all Muslims with terrorism is stupid and wrong. But acknowledging that there is a link between Islam and terror is appropriate and necessary.
On both sides of the Atlantic, politicians, academics and the media have shown incredible patience as the drumbeat of Islamist terror attacks continues. When President Obama gave his first statement about the Boston bombings, he didn't mention Islam at all. This week, Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson have repeated the reassuring statements of the Muslim leaders to the effect that Lee Rigby's murder has nothing to do with Islam.
But many ordinary people hear such statements and scratch their heads in bewilderment. A murderer kills a young father while yelling "Allahu akbar" and it's got nothing to do with Islam?
I don't blame Western leaders. They are doing their best to keep the lid on what could become a meltdown of trust between majority populations and Muslim minority communities.
But I do blame Muslim leaders. It is time they came up with more credible talking points. Their communities have a serious problem. Young people, some of whom are not born into the faith, are being fired up by preachers using basic Islamic scripture and mobilized to wage jihad by radical imams who represent themselves as legitimate Muslim clergymen.
I wonder what would happen if Muslim leaders like Julie Siddiqi started a public and persistent campaign to discredit these Islamist advocates of mayhem and murder. Not just uttering the usual laments after another horrifying attack, but making a constant, high-profile effort to show the world that the preachers of hate are illegitimate. After the next zealot has killed the next victim of political Islam, claims about the "religion of peace" would ring truer.
Ms. Hirsi Ali is the author of "Nomad: My Journey from Islam to America" (Free Press, 2010). She is a fellow at the Belfer Center of Harvard's Kennedy School and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Paul Berman: Baathism, an obituary
Reply #136 on:
June 20, 2013, 06:48:38 AM »
Given the role of Baathism in Iraq and Syria, this seems the most fitting thread for this interesting article:
Baathism: An Obituary
The end of an ideology
IT IS CHEERING to reflect that, when Bashar Al Assad’s government finally collapses in Syria, the governing ideology known as Baathism will likewise undergo a massive setback—though whether Baathism will fade away without a trace is something we can doubt. Baathism is one of the last of the grandiose revolutionary ideologies of the mid-twentieth century—an ideology like communism and fascism in Europe (both of which exercised a large influence on Baathist thinking), except in an Arab version suitable for the age of decolonization. Its champions came to power not only in Syria but in Iraq, in both cases in the 1960s; and the consequences were not of the sort that leave people unchanged.
In Iraq, the Baath ruled for 35 years, chiefly under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, and this meant repeated military campaigns and acts of extermination against Iraq’s Kurdish population (Baathism is anti-Kurd), against Iran (Baathism, in its Iraqi version, is anti-Persian), against Kuwait, and against Iraq’s Shiite population, not to mention the protracted two-act war with the United States and its allies—from all of which the poor and suffering Iraqis will need a hundred years to recover. In Syria, the Baath has ruled for half a century, usually more shrewdly than Saddam. And yet, in Syria, too, permanent crisis has been the norm—the unending emergencies that derive from the Syrian Baath’s repeated wars against Israel and from the proxy wars using guerrilla armies and terrorists in Palestine and Jordan, together with the Baath’s intervention in Lebanon. And there is the history of Baathist mass executions and civilian massacres within Syria itself.
Even so, Baathism enjoyed for long decades a prestige almost everywhere across the region, with branch organizations in various countries. Baathism appeared to be, in the eyes of its admirers, the ultimate in revolutionary principle—the truest hope for a “resurrection” or “Baath” of the Arab people from the Euphrates to the Atlantic, regardless of the really-existing Baathist regimes. And all of this is going to mean that, soon enough, when the Syrian Baath finally tumbles from power, the Baath’s legacy will be triply visible.
The political and cultural landscape of the Middle East, post-Baath, will be pockmarked by blighted zones that might otherwise have been a prosperous Iraq and Syria, if only the Baathist doctrine had not destroyed those countries. A cloud of intellectual bafflement and paranoia will hover overhead, consisting of the confused thoughts of everyone across the region who, in the past, talked themselves into supposing that Baathism was a good idea. And more than visible will be the triumphant zeal of Baathism’s principal rivals in the matter of grandiose revolutionary ideology—the champions of the single Middle Eastern millenarian doctrine still standing, once the Assad regime has finally gone. These will be the Islamists.
BAATHISM IS A PRODUCT of the European 1930s. The doctrine’s founders were Syrian students who attended the Sorbonne in the ’20s and ’30s, took their readings seriously, and came away with two impulses. The students wanted to overthrow French and British colonialism in the Middle East. And they wanted to conduct the overthrow in a modern spirit of revolutionary reform. Only they never could decide which version of revolutionary reform might suit them best, and they spent the next few decades veering from one to another, such that oscillation became Baathism’s identifying trait.
The chief theoretician was a philosopher from Damascus named Michel Aflaq, who, during his Sorbonne years, sympathized with communism, mostly because communism appeared to be Western imperialism’s antithesis. In 1936, after his return to Damascus, it dawned on Aflaq, however, that Syria’s Communist Party was subservient to France’s Communist Party, which meant the Soviet Union, whose interests were not those of the Arab world. Also he read André Gide on the Soviet reality. He never did abandon entirely his left-wing instincts, which helps to explain why, in later years, he and his followers, having merged their organization with a left-wing party, ended up calling themselves the Arab Baath Socialist Party. But meanwhile he found new and more fecund inspirations in an alternative set of equally up-to-date ideas, which were those of German nationalism.
German nationalism in the ’30s mooned over an imaginary long-ago when Teutonic Aryans roamed the ancient pan-Germanic forests. The German nationalists dreamed of reuniting the scattered Germanic tribes, and dreamed of reviving, through purification of the blood, the heroic Teutonic virtues. They inebriated themselves with mystic hoodoo about their own spiritual loftiness. They knew how to loathe. And all of these impulses proved to be transplantable to the Arab East. The post-communist Aflaq took to mooning over the Arab seventh century. He imagined a return to yore through a revived appreciation of blood ties. He attached to those ideas the modern-sounding concept of socialism, thus arriving at a national-socialism. He identified the spiritual loftiness of the Arabs. He located ethnic enemies, some of whom, by odd coincidence, turned out to be the very enemies that German nationalism likewise loathed. And he began to picture the pan-Arab resurrection.
HIS BAATH EMERGED in Syria in 1941, in response to a coup d’état in Iraq. The coup overthrew a pro-British government and installed in power the Iraqi nationalist Rashid Ali Al Gaylani, who right away aligned his new government with Germany and the wartime Axis. The British sent troops. Rashid Ali fled to Berlin, where he spent the war broadcasting Nazi propaganda in Arabic. In Syria, though, Aflaq and his comrades meanwhile put together a solidarity committee for the coup. By 1943, the committee thickened into something of a political party (though the official founding convention took place only later). And Aflaq delivered a lecture at the University of Damascus called “In Memory of the Arab Prophet,” laying out his thoughts.
His theme was Arab weakness in the modern world. Among the Arabs, he said, words had lost their meaning, such that “empty rhetoric” had ended up destroying the Arab sense of self-confidence. Another cause of weakness was psychological:
Today we stand witness to a conflict between our glorious past and shameful present. The Arab personality was in our past unified in one body: there was no divide between its soul and its intellect, no divide between its rhetoric and its practice, its private and its public codes of conduct ... In contrast, in our present time, we witness only a fragmented personality, a partial, impoverished life ... It is time we removed this contradiction and return to the Arab personality in its unity, and make whole Arab life once again.
This was going to require a purification. “We must remove all obstacles of stagnation and degradation, so that our pure blood lineage will run anew in our veins.” And what was this pure blood lineage? It was the blood line that got started with the divine revelations communicated to the Prophet Muhammad. “Islam constituted for the Arabs a dynamic earth-shaking movement that stirred the internal potential of the Arabs, imbued it with life, and enabled it to drive out the obstacles of imitation and the shackles of reform.” This was achieved by leading the earliest Muslims to transform themselves:
So before they could conquer new lands and reach as far as they did, they had to begin with and conquer themselves, and to know who they were searching for in their souls. Before they ruled over other people, they had to rule over themselves, and learn how to control their temptations and to take charge of their will.
Modern Arabs needed to adopt the Prophet Muhammad himself as their model:
In the past, one person’s life summarized the life of a nation. Today the life of the whole nation in its new revival should become a detailed exposition of the life of its great man. Muhammad was all the Arabs. Let all the Arabs be Muhammad today.
Baathism, then, the original idea from 1943, was an anti-colonial and pan-Arabist doctrine, not unwilling to ally with the Axis. It was a revolutionary doctrine. It claimed a pure blood lineage to the origins of Islam and, at the same time, invoked the mid–twentieth century ideals of socialism. Baathism was dedicated to the purification of Arabic political speech. And it was a psychological doctrine, dedicated to healing the wounded modern psyche by repulsing what Aflaq called “Western civilization’s invasion of the Arab mind.”
Aflaq was nominally a Christian from a Greek Orthodox background, but, to be honest, Christian influences in his doctrine are hard to see. It is true that, when he invokes Islam, he does so on nationalist grounds. But this is not unusual even among overtly Islamic thinkers, who conventionally invoke the ancient caliphate as proof of Islam’s divine origins. And Aflaq speaks repeatedly of the Arab nation’s “eternal mission” and “spirit,” which hints at more than worldly concerns.
He worked up these ideas during the same period when the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was putting together its own doctrines, and I am struck by the overlap, Baathist and Islamist. I wonder if Sayyid Qutb, the greatest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideologues, ever had occasion to study the writings of Aflaq. Occasional phrases of Aflaq’s do seem to turn up in Qutb’s essays and commentaries from the ’50s and ’60s, somehow or another. The notion of returning to the ancient Islamic past in order to construct a postcolonial future, the emphasis on psychological and cultural problems deriving from the penetration of Western ideas, the occasional fascist overtones, and the special role granted to the Arab people (a feature not just of Baathism but of the Muslim Brotherhood’s version of Islamism), together with the veneration of Islam and its prophet—this is a lot to share.
Then again, in Aflaq’s Baath, the party leaders thought of themselves as the ultimate authority, instead of invoking the authority of the sacred texts and religious interpretations. The irksome little details of theology, sharia, and ritual interested Aflaq not at all. His Baathism was about Islam, or maybe it was an addendum to Islam, but it never claimed to be Islam itself. And Aflaq, with his talk of socialism, reserved the option of veering flexibly in different directions entirely—all of which has meant that, on doctrinal grounds, Baathists and Islamists could look upon one another as either friends or enemies, depending on whether they chose to emphasize the overlap or the lack of overlap. And, to be sure, the history of the Arab East over the last half century has offered examples of Baathist-Islamist alliance and enmity in roughly equal measures: In the case of Syria, the Baath’s violent enmity for its archenemy, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, contrasted with the Baath’s longstanding alliances with any number of Islamist groups: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the case of Iraq, the Baath’s insistence on war against the Islamist mullahs of Iran, contrasted with the Baath’s persistent habit of supporting Islamist terrorist groups elsewhere in the world, not to mention the Iraqi Baath’s post-defeat guerrilla alliance (if I may touch on a controversial matter) with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia—enmities and alliances that follow naturally from the doctrine.
THE BRANCHES OF Aflaq’s party tended to be conspiracies of the elite, consisting of schoolteacher intellectuals like Aflaq himself, together with military officers and tough-guy bruisers, who maneuvered clandestinely in the hope of staging their own coups d’état. This was the kind of movement that used to be known in the classic European left as “Blanquist”—secretive, crafty, steely, and revolutionary, indifferent to questions of mere popularity. (You haven’t heard of Auguste Blanqui? He wouldn’t mind.) And the Blanquist approach led to ideological consequences.
The original Baath party in Syria conformed to the inclusive pan-Arabist ideal, with room in the ranks for Sunni Arabs, for Christians like Aflaq himself, for members of the heretical Alawi sect of Shiism, for Druzes and Ismailis, and for anyone at all who claimed some kind of Arab background, if only linguistically (though, to be sure, Aflaq ultimately reserved to himself the right to determine who is an Arab, with the crucial factor being in agreement with Aflaq’s ideas). But the demands of hugger-mugger inevitably tilted the Baath toward pickier ways of selecting comrades. Anyone joining a Baathist cell would naturally want to trust the other conspirators, and the simplest way to keep everyone reassured was to enroll people from similar backgrounds—comrades from the same denomination within Islam, or the same town, or neighborhood, or family. And when Baathists came to power, the conspiratorial habits led naturally to the triumph of the party’s military cells over its civilian cells.
Aflaq’s Baath staged its coup in Syria in 1963, only to discover that, after a while, the Baath Secret Military Committee was running out of patience for the Baath’s civilian leaders. Aflaq himself, a mere schoolteacher, fled into exile. And who was the Secret Military Committee? The leading personalities turned out to be not just members of Syria’s Alawi minority, but people from a single village, belonging to a section of a single tribe and, in the inner circle, to the family of Colonel Hafez Al Assad, the father of Bashar. The Iraqi Baath, which welcomed Aflaq after his exile from Damascus, went through similar evolutions. The original leaders in Iraq belonged to the majority confession, which is Shiite. The leaders went down to defeat. The party revived sufficiently to stage a coup in 1963, and the new leaders turned out to be ruffians from a single neighborhood in Baghdad. Their coup was overthrown.
The Iraqi Baath staged another coup in 1968, this time with sufficient strength to remain in power, and the principal leaders, this time, turned out to be members of a single tribe from the town of Tikrit, and especially from a single family, whose most prominent son turned out to be Saddam, a member of the Sunni minority—and Aflaq’s protegé, by the way. In this fashion, the Baath in Syria and Iraq alike ended up preaching an expansive pan-Arabism while practicing a narrow politics dominated by ever tinier kinship groups: anthropology’s triumph over ideology. You want family values? Baathism is for you. And, under these circumstances, nothing prevented the official doctrine from oscillating ever more wildly.
Here is another difference between the Baath and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has always been a mass organization, never a conspiracy, and its reliance on scripture and Islamic scholarship has meant that no one, not even a supreme guide of the Brotherhood, could alter the ideology at whim: “Oh, I think I’ll recognize the Zionist entity.” But Baathist ideology is what the coup leaders say it is. Or it is what Aflaq chose to say—which, after he was done with pure blood lineages and the “eternal mission” and Arab “spirit,” began to sound, in the mid-’50s and afterward, ever more left-wing, as if his philo-communist origins were stirring into renewed life. “The Baath is scientific socialism plus spirit,” said Aflaq in the ’60s, which suggested that Baathism, having already claimed to be an addendum to Islam, was also an addendum to Karl Marx.
The leftward turn accounted for Baathism’s inspirational appeal to Third World revolutionaries in Africa and Latin America—an element of Baathism’s success that hardly anyone can remember anymore. Baathism appeared to show that revolutionary political movements could adopt everything that was deemed to be attractive in communism (“scientific socialism,” the one-party Leninist dictatorship, the cult of the leader, the five-year plans, the expropriation of feudal estates, and so forth), without having to abandon a sentimental nostalgia for the local culture and a pious veneration of the local religion. And the left-wing and religious oscillations allowed for no end of political maneuverability.
Saddam—to cite the Iraqi example—began as a religious believer. And yet, if you read his speeches from the 1970s, you could almost imagine that a communist is hectoring you from the podium. Here was a left-wing oscillation that appears to have been more enthusiastic even than Aflaq’s. And then, a few years later, Comrade Saddam oscillated back into the renewed emphasis on Islam that you can see in his final literary composition—his novel Demons, Be Gone! (or, in my Google translation from the Arabic, Get Out of My Damned), from early in 2003, pre-invasion—a Koranic action-hero melodrama, climaxing in a barely disguised burst of Baathist applause for Al Qaeda’s destruction of the World Trade Center.
The Assads, father and son, have displayed the Syrian version. Hafez, the father, rose within the party at a time when, among the Syrian Baathists, Marxism was enjoying its maximum prestige. Once in power, though, he took to courting the traditional-minded clerics and Islamic scholars, as no Marxist would have done. And Bashar, the son, has gone further yet in trying to shore up his Muslim bona fides, not that he has enjoyed much success. But no one can say that Bashar has betrayed the Baathist principles. In matters of religion, Baathism is strictly AC/DC, and it can go either way.
THE WHOLE DOCTRINE can be summed up in Aflaq’s slogan, which you will find stamped on party documents. The slogan is “Unity, Freedom, Socialism.” The slogan means anything you want it to mean. Or it means anti-Zionism, on the grounds that Arab unity, freedom, and social justice are incompatible with the continued existence of the country that Aflaq called, in quotation marks, “Israel.” Aflaq was also in favor of what he called “love,” which he regarded as the true meaning of Arab nationalism.
It is tempting to conclude that Baathism is a nonsense ideology, and the truest goal of Baathist leaders has never been anything loftier than power and their own pragmatic self-interest. But that seems to me inaccurate. “Unity, Freedom, Socialism” has, in fact, always expressed something, even if, like a football chant, the meaning bears no relation to the words. The slogan expresses an ideal of ferocity. And ferocity does not entail pragmatism. Given a choice between ferocity and their own best interest, the Baathist leaders have more than once chosen ferocity. In the weeks or months in 2003 when Saddam was composingDemons, Be Gone!, with the Coalition of the Willing getting ready to invade, he could certainly have elected to negotiate a gilded exile for himself and his family. He preferred otherwise.
Bashar Al Assad’s instincts appear to be similar. Surely Kofi Annan’s ultimate goal in Syria was, like a real estate broker, to relocate the unhappy Assad family to a London townhouse, where the ex-dictator would have discovered, ten years from now, that Vogue was once again fascinated by his wife, and his own opinions on Middle Eastern affairs were keenly solicited. But, like Saddam, Bashar prefers to hunker down. Or he is like Muammar Qaddafi, another revolutionary with a nutty revolutionary doctrine—and not like, say, the non-Baathist and merely corrupt dictator of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who, at the start of the Arab Spring, proved that he was genuinely a pragmatist by cutting his losses and those of Tunisia and getting on a plane.
Baathism is, in short, a cult of resistance. Resistance to what? And on whose behalf? Resistance to imperialism and Zionism, of course. Zionism especially. Resistance on behalf of the pan-Arab people and their “spirit.” Baathism’s leaders would rather die than abandon these words, even when the words are meaningless. Death it is, then.
Surely this is Baathism’s most destructive trait of all. The cult of resistance leads to a culture of hysteria. Once you have spent 35 years or 50 years manning a machine gun and vowing resistance to the end, your ability to work up more thoughtful habits of mind is bound to become a little circumscribed. A capacity to weigh evidence, a feeling of curiosity about other people’s views, a spirit of tolerance, the traits that are necessary for a liberal alternative, in short—these traits are not likely to survive. We have seen the results in Iraq, and we will see them in Syria.
Some of the Baathists themselves appear to have noticed these developments. The most important of Aflaq’s comrades in founding the movement was Salah Bitar, a fellow student at the Sorbonne back in the ’20s and ’30s. By 1977, Bitar was in a mood to take stock, and he spoke his mind to Hafez Al Assad in person. Bitar told Assad that Syria was dead. He said, “Today only democracy can give a new vitality to Syria.” But this was not a welcome message. Bitar was obliged to go into exile in Paris, where he was assassinated, and his dissent left no legacy at all. Orthodoxy belonged either to the Assads or to Saddam.
Something in the Baathist doctrine is insane, and this is worth emphasizing. The Arab Baath Socialist Party has slaughtered more Arabs than any institution in modern history, though the French army in Algeria may be able to put up a rival claim. No one has definitively tallied up the deaths committed by the Baath in Syria, not in 1981, when Hafez Al Assad presided over executions by the hundreds, nor when he leveled entire neighborhoods in Hama back in 1982, nor in 2011 and 2012, when his son has gone about doing the same on what appears to be an even bigger scale. It is a matter of tens of thousands, though (and worse may be to come). The Iraqi Baath achieved a toll of many hundreds of thousands. The Baath in Iraq was the only government in the world, after the Nazis, to use poison gas on its own people. And here is Bashar’s Syrian Baath threatening to make use of its own stocks of poison gas, if only against foreign invaders—meaning, from a Baathist standpoint, against anyone at all who has taken up arms.
Will someone argue that, in Syria and Iraq, the Baath never succeeded in establishing total control, therefore should not be considered a totalitarian movement? But totalitarians never achieve total control. They merely give it an honest try. What marks a totalitarian movement is the vigor and lunacy that animates the honest try. Ultimately a totalitarian movement is a political tendency that, in a spirit of nihilism, is committed to achieving the opposite of whatever it says it is going to achieve, and will stop at nothing to bring this about. Soviet communism in the age of Stalin was ruthlessly devoted to constructing a gigantic slave-labor system in the prison camps. Nazism left no stone unturned to bring about the ruination of Germany. Baathism is an anti-Arab movement. Hasn’t this been obvious? But this did not prevent the Baath from thriving, in its day.
BAATHISM AROSE in competition with four other main Arab ideological currents in the post–World War II years, with all four currents preaching revolution in some version or another—not just Islamism, but also Gamal Nasser’s variant of pan-Arabism in Egypt (a current very similar to Baathism, without the extremist edginess), together with a couple of currents that were overtly secular or even anti-religious: single-country nationalism (Syrianism, for example) and communism. Today, three of those movements survive only in shards and fragments, which would be encouraging to learn, except that Islamism is in bloom.
In the political psychology of the region, the era of decolonization has somehow not yet come to an end. The questions that Michel Aflaq worried about in 1943 are the questions that Islamist authors still worry about in our own moment, as if, in the mind of masses of people, nothing has changed. These are questions about alienation—about the conflict between the glorious past and the shameful present; about the divide between soul and intellect, and between private and public codes of behavior; about the need to control the temptations; about the need, finally, to repel Western civilization’s invasion of the Arab mind. But the Islamist answers are unlikely to be any better than Aflaq’s.
We will know that a genuinely modernizing impulse has overtaken the region when altogether different questions begin to dominate the discussion, namely: how to become prosperous? And free?—along with a liberal willingness to evaluate the real-life results. Only, these questions imply a non-ideological habit of mind, and the world left behind by the Baath and its doctrines does not appear to be a world of the post-ideological.
Paul Berman is a senior editor at The New Republic. This article appeared in the October 4, 2012 issue of the magazine.
Last Edit: June 20, 2013, 06:50:46 AM by Crafty_Dog
POTH: For Islamists dire lessons
Reply #137 on:
July 05, 2013, 10:16:32 AM »
CAIRO — Sheik Mohamed Abu Sidra had watched in exasperation for months as President Mohamed Morsi and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood bounced from one debilitating political battle to another.
“The Brotherhood went too fast, they tried to take too much,” Sheik Abu Sidra, an influential ultraconservative Islamist in Benghazi, Libya, said Thursday, a day after the Egyptian military deposed and detained Mr. Morsi and began arresting his Brotherhood allies.
But at the same time, Sheik Abu Sidra said, Mr. Morsi’s overthrow had made it far more difficult for him to persuade Benghazi’s Islamist militias to put down their weapons and trust in democracy.
“Do you think I can sell that to the people anymore?” he asked. “I have been saying all along, ‘If you want to build Shariah law, come to elections.’ Now they will just say, ‘Look at Egypt,’ and you don’t need to say anything else.”
From Benghazi to Abu Dhabi, Islamists are drawing lessons from Mr. Morsi’s ouster that could shape political Islam for a generation. For some, it demonstrated the futility of democracy in a world dominated by Western powers and their client states. But others, acknowledging that the coup accompanied a broad popular backlash, also faulted the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood for reaching too fast for so many levers of power.
The Brotherhood’s fall is the greatest in an array of setbacks that have halted the once seemingly unstoppable march of political Islam. As they have moved from opposition to establishment , Islamist parties in Turkey, Tunisia and now Egypt have all been caught up in crises over the secular practicalities of governing like power sharing, urban planning, public security or even keeping the lights on.
Brotherhood leaders — the few who have not been arrested or dropped out of sight — have little doubt about the source of their problems. They say that the Egyptian security forces and bureaucracy conspired to sabotage their rule, and that the generals seized on the chance to topple the Morsi government under the cover of popular anger at the dysfunction of the state.
Their account strikes a chord with fellow Islamists around the region who are all too familiar with the historic turning points when, they say, military crackdowns stole their imminent democratic victories: Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954; Algeria in 1991; and the Palestinian territories in 2006.
“The message will resonate throughout the Muslim world loud and clear: democracy is not for Muslims,” Essam el-Haddad, Mr. Morsi’s foreign policy adviser, warned on his official Web site shortly before the military detained him and cut off all his communication. The overthrow of an elected Islamist government in Egypt, the symbolic heart of the Arab world, Mr. Haddad wrote, would fuel more violent terrorism than the Western wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And he took aim at Western critics of the Islamists. “The silence of all of those voices with an impending military coup is hypocritical,” Mr. Haddad wrote, “and that hypocrisy will not be lost on a large swath of Egyptians, Arabs and Muslims.”
In Egyptian Sinai just hours later, thousands of Islamists rallied under the black flag of jihad and cheered widely at calls for “a war council” to roll back Mr. Morsi’s ouster. “The age of peacefulness is over,” the speaker declared in a video of the rally. “No more peacefulness after today.”
“No more election after today,” the crowd chanted in response.
After a night of deadly clashes at Cairo University that accompanied the takeover, some ultraconservative Islamists gathered there said their experiment in electoral politics — a deviation from God’s law to begin with — had come to a bad end.
“Didn’t we do what they asked,” asked Mahmoud Taha, 40, a merchant. “We don’t believe in democracy to begin with; it’s not part of our ideology. But we accepted it. We followed them, and then this is what they do?”
Page 2 of 2)
In Syria, where the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood once hoped to provide a model of moderation and democracy, some fighters battling President Bashar al-Assad now say it is the other way around. Egyptian Islamists “may have to pursue the armed option,” said Firas Filefleh, a rebel fighter in an Islamist brigade in Idlib, in northern Syria. “That may be the only choice, as it was for us in Syria.”
In the United Arab Emirates, where the authoritarian government just sentenced 69 members of a Brotherhood-linked Islamist group to prison in an effort to stop the spread of Arab spring revolts, Islamists said the crackdowns were driving a deeper wedge into their movement.
“The practices that we see today will split the Islamists in half,” said Saeed Nasar Alteneji, a former head of the Emirates group, the Islah association. “There are those who always call for centrism and moderation and peaceful political participation,” he said. “The other group condemns democracy and sees today that the West and others will never accept the ballot box if it brings Islamists to power.”
“And they have lots of evidence of this,” he said, now citing Egypt as well as Algeria.
Other Islamists, though, sought to distance themselves from what they considered the Egyptian Brotherhood’s errors.
As the military takeover began to unfold, Ali Larayedh, the Islamist prime minister of Tunisia, emphasized in a television interview that “an Egypt scenario” was unlikely to befall his Ennahda movement because “our approach is characterized by consensus and partnership.”
Emad al-din al-Rashid, a prominent Syrian Islamist and scholar now based in Istanbul, said that he “expected this to happen” because of the Muslim Brotherhood’s style of governance. “The beginning was a mistake, a sin, and the Brotherhood were running Egypt like they would run a private organization, not a country,” he said. “They shouldn’t have rushed to rule like they did. If they had waited for the second or third elections, the people would have been asking and yearning for them.”
Hisham Krekshi, a senior member of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood in Tripoli, Libya, said the Egyptian Brotherhood “were not transparent enough. They were not sharing enough with other parties. We have to be sure that we are open, to say, ‘We are all Libyans and we have to accept every rainbow color, to work together.’ ”
Even among Egyptian Islamists there have been signs of dissent from the Brotherhood leadership. The largest ultraconservative party, Al Nour, had urged the Brotherhood to form a broader coalition and then to call early presidential elections, and it finally supported the takeover.
Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a relatively liberal former Brotherhood leader and presidential candidate popular among many younger members, also urged Mr. Morsi to step down to defuse the polarization of the country.
But, said Ibrahim Houdaiby, a former Brotherhood member, “the feeling of exclusion might actually lead to the empowerment of a more radical sentiment in the group that says, ‘Look, we abided by the rules, we were elected democratically, and of course we were rejected, and of course by a military coup, not by popular protest.’ ”
Speaking honestly about Sharia
Reply #138 on:
July 14, 2013, 12:54:22 PM »
This may be a site worth keeping an eye on
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July 16, 2013, 03:19:38 PM »
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