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Author Topic: Invitation to dialog to Muslims  (Read 88131 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #150 on: September 19, 2006, 08:15:01 PM »

Note the source of the following:

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7&section=0&article=86776&d=19&m=9&y=2006
Editorial: Chasm of Ignorance
19 September 2006
 
WHATEVER views people may have about Pope Benedict?s controversial speech at Regensburg University last week, it underlines the urgent need for greater dialogue between people of different faiths. There is a dangerous chasm of ignorance about other faiths and it affects Muslims, Christians, Jews and practitioners of other religions equally; it is dangerous because it is so easily exploited by bigots and opportunists for their own political ends.

But, many will assert, there is a dialogue that has been going on for years. They can point to organizations such as C100, set up by the World Economic Forum to promote interfaith cooperation between the West and the Muslim world or to the Al-Azhar Permanent Committee for Dialogue with Monotheistic Religions. There is the Vatican-Muslim Committee set up by the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar, the Anglican Al-Azhar Dialogue Committee and a number of other organizations in countries around the world. There is even a day ? Muslim Catholic Dialogue Day on Feb. 24 each year ? adopted by Al-Azhar and the Vatican.

Commendable as all this is, it is not enough. If they were, there would not have been a Danish cartoons row earlier this year or a row now. The committees and organizations are not producing the results because the knowledge and understanding is not getting down to the grass roots where the prejudices and ignorance exist. What is the point of dialogue if it excludes the vast majority who do not fully understand all that is involved? It is at the grass roots that riots take place, where passions turn to prejudice, and mosques, churches and innocent believers are attacked and killed. That is where dialogue has to be planted and nurtured. And what is the point of dialogue if it excludes bigots? If they are left on the outside, they will continue to stir up hatred and plant their bombs. Dialogue desperately needs a wider arena, one that will draw in the uninformed on all sides, not least the bigots. That means using the mass media. Sadly, not everyone appears to understand that.

This paper has tried to publish a series of articles on interfaith dialogue. It is a perfect vehicle ? an English language daily in a Muslim country with a readership of different faiths and nationalities. We asked major religious and political figures from around the world to contribute. The feedback was extremely positive: ?Great idea,? we were told. But after months of reminders, not a single article has been submitted. It is profoundly disappointing. Never has the need for dialogue been so acute. Clearly dialogue cannot be left to well-intentioned experts. If the world were full of them there would not be a problem. But it is not like that. Dialogue must involve the largest possible number of people.

The Danish cartoon row should have provided the stimulus to intensify efforts. It did not. Maybe now, in the full fury of the papal row, the message will get through. It has to. In today?s global village, we cannot afford to be ignorant of each other?s faiths. Ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds hate ? and hate is scarcely a step away from war and conflict.
 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #151 on: September 20, 2006, 07:40:31 AM »


CHICAGO ? So here?s the thing about speed dating for Muslims.

 
James Estrin/The New York Times
Many American Muslims ? or at least those bent on maintaining certain conservative traditions ? equate anything labeled ?dating? with hellfire, no matter how short a time is involved. Hence the wildly popular speed dating sessions at the largest annual Muslim conference in North America were given an entirely more respectable label. They were called the ?matrimonial banquet.?

?If we called it speed dating, it will end up with real dating,? said Shamshad Hussain, one of the organizers, grimacing.

Both the banquet earlier this month and various related seminars underscored the difficulty that some American Muslim families face in grappling with an issue on which many prefer not to assimilate. One seminar, called ?Dating,? promised attendees helpful hints for ?Muslim families struggling to save their children from it.?

The couple of hundred people attending the dating seminar burst out laughing when Imam Muhamed Magid of the Adams Center, a collective of seven mosques in Virginia, summed up the basic instructions that Muslim American parents give their adolescent children, particularly males: ?Don?t talk to the Muslim girls, ever, but you are going to marry them. As for the non-Muslim girls, talk to them, but don?t ever bring one home.?

?These kids grew up in America, where the social norm is that it is O.K. to date, that it is O.K. to have sex before marriage,? Imam Magid said in an interview. ?So the kids are caught between the ideal of their parents and the openness of the culture on this issue.?

The questions raised at the seminar reflected just how pained many American Muslims are by the subject. One middle-aged man wondered if there was anything he could do now that his 32-year-old son had declared his intention of marrying a (shudder) Roman Catholic. A young man asked what might be considered going too far when courting a Muslim woman.

Panelists warned that even seemingly innocuous e-mail exchanges or online dating could topple one off the Islamic path if one lacked vigilance. ?All of these are traps of the Devil to pull us in and we have no idea we are even going that way,? said Ameena Jandali, the moderator of the dating seminar.

Hence the need to come up with acceptable alternatives in North America, particularly for families from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, where there is a long tradition of arranged marriages.

One panelist, Yasmeen Qadri, suggested that Muslim mothers across the continent band together in an organization called ?Mothers Against Dating,? modeled on Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If the term ?arranged marriage? is too distasteful to the next generation, she said, then perhaps the practice could be Americanized simply by renaming it ?assisted marriage,? just like assisted living for the elderly.

?In the United States we can play with words however we want, but we are not trying to set aside our cultural values,? said Mrs. Qadri, a professor of education.

Basically, for conservative Muslims, dating is a euphemism for premarital sex. Anyone who partakes risks being considered morally louche, with their marriage prospects dimming accordingly, particularly young women.

Mrs. Qadri and other panelists see a kind of hybrid version emerging in the United States, where the young do choose their own mates, but the parents are at least partly involved in the process in something like half the cases.

Having the families involved can help reduce the divorce rate, Imam Majid said, citing a recent informal study that indicated that one third of Muslim marriages in the United States end in divorce. It was still far too high, he noted, but lower than the overall American average. Intermarriages outside Islam occur, but remain relatively rare, he said.

Scores of parents showed up at the marriage banquet to chaperone their children. Many had gone through arranged marriages ? meeting the bride or groom chosen by their parents sometimes as late as their wedding day and hoping for the best. They recognize that the tradition is untenable in the United States, but still want to influence the process.





=====
The banquet is considered one preferable alternative to going online, although that too is becoming more common. The event was unquestionably one of the big draws at the Islamic Society of North America?s annual convention, which attracted thousands of Muslims to Chicago over Labor Day weekend, with many participants bemoaning the relatively small pool of eligible candidates even in large cities.

At a ?matrimonial banquet,? single Muslim American men spent seven minutes at each table, including the one at which Alia Abbas sat before moving on.
There were two banquets, with a maximum 150 men and 150 women participating each day for $55 apiece. They sat 10 per table and the men rotated every seven minutes.

At the end there was an hourlong social hour that allowed participants time to collect e-mail addresses and telephone numbers over a pasta dinner with sodas. (Given the Muslim ban on alcohol, no one could soothe jumpy nerves with a drink.) Organizers said many of the women still asked men to approach their families first. Some families accept that the couple can then meet in public, some do not.

A few years ago the organizers were forced to establish a limit of one parent per participant and bar them from the tables until the social hour because so many interfered. Parents are now corralled along one edge of the reception hall, where they alternate between craning their necks to see who their adult children are meeting or horse-trading bios, photographs and telephone numbers among themselves.

Talking to the mothers ? and participants with a parent usually take a mother ? is like surveying members of the varsity suddenly confined to the bleachers.

?To know someone for seven minutes is not enough,? scoffed Awila Siddique, 46, convinced she was making better contacts via the other mothers.

Mrs. Siddique said her shy, 20-year-old daughter spent the hours leading up to the banquet crying that her father was forcing her to do something weird. ?Back home in Pakistan, the families meet first,?? she said. ?You are not marrying the guy only, but his whole family.?

Samia Abbas, 59 and originally from Alexandria, Egypt, bustled out to the tables as soon as social hour was called to see whom her daughter Alia, 29, had met.

?I?m her mother so of course I?m looking for her husband,? said Mrs. Abbas, ticking off the qualities she was looking for, including a good heart, handsome, as highly educated as her daughter and a good Muslim.

Did he have to be Egyptian?

?She?s desperate for anyone!? laughed Alia, a vivacious technology manager for a New York firm, noting that the ?Made in Egypt? stipulation had long since been cast overboard.

?Her cousin who is younger has babies now!? exclaimed the mother, dialing relatives on her cellphone to handicap potential candidates.

For doubters, organizers produced a success story, a strikingly good-looking pair of Chicago doctors who met at the banquet two years ago. Organizers boast of at least 25 marriages over the past six years.

Fatima Alim, 50, was disappointed when her son Suehaib, a 26-year-old pharmacist, did not meet anyone special on the first day. They had flown up from Houston especially for the event, and she figured chances were 50-50 that he would find a bride.

When she arrived in Texas as a 23-year-old in an arranged marriage, Mrs. Alim envied the girls around her, enthralled by their discussions about all the fun they were having with their boyfriends, she said, even if she was eventually shocked to learn how quickly they moved from one to the next and how easily they divorced. Still, she was determined that her children would chose their own spouses.

?We want a good, moderate Muslim girl, not a very, very modern girl,? she said. ?The family values are the one thing I like better back home. Divorces are high here because of the corruption, the intermingling with other men and other women.?

For his part, Mr. Alim was resisting the strong suggestion from his parents that they switch tactics and start looking for a nice girl back in Pakistan. Many of the participants reject that approach, describing themselves as too Americanized ? plus the visas required are far harder to obtain in the post-Sept. 11 world.

Mr. Alim said he still believed what he had been taught as a child, that sex outside marriage was among the gravest sins, but he wants to marry a fellow American Muslim no matter how hard she is to find.

?I think I can hold out a couple more years,? he said in his soft Texas drawl with a boyish smile. ?The sooner the better, but I think I can wait. By 30, hopefully, even if that is kind of late.?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #152 on: September 21, 2006, 02:06:43 PM »

The Pope's Divisions
Benedict XVI promotes "interfaith" dialogue. Muslims and Christians need it.

BY REUEL MARC GERECHT
Thursday, September 21, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Although many Muslims have apparently found Pope Benedict XVI's recent oration at the University of Regensburg deeply offensive, it is a welcome change from the pabulum that passes for "interfaith" dialogue. Since 9/11, his lecture is one of the few by a major Western figure to highlight the spiritual and cultural troubles that beset the Muslim world. Think of the awfulness that we've observed in the last years: the suicide terrorism in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, but especially the holy-warrior carnage in Iraq, where Sunni diehard believers have tirelessly slaughtered Shiite women and children. Then think of the tepid, not always condemnatory, discussions these atrocities have provoked among devout, especially fundamentalist, Muslims. We should have seen many more Westerners and Muslims posing painful questions about the well-being of Islamic culture and faith. With the exception of President Bush's remarks about "Islamofascism," which provoked dyspeptic reactions inside the U.S. government and out, the administration has generally avoided using powerful language connecting Islam to terrorism.

Let us be frank: There is absolutely nothing in the pope's speech that isn't appropriate or pertinent to a civilized discussion of revealed religions and ethics. Even if one is not a believer in any revealed faith, or has some memory of the conflict, daily cruelty and forced conversion meted out by representatives of Rome's bishops, or has some skepticism about the church's commitment to defending the liberal ideas of the Enlightenment, one can be thankful that the pope sees Christianity as a vehicle of peace and tries to explain why he thinks this is so. And by extension why Islam is so often today the loudly proclaimed faith of men who define their relationship to God through violence. Joseph Ratzinger's explanation, as befits a former professor of theology and philosophy, is an abstract one, but it is in the broadest sense undeniably true.





Popes ought to help clarify--not camouflage--the great troubling issues, as Shiite Islam's most senior ayatollahs try to illuminate the most perplexing questions that confront their followers and Muslims in general. The odds are good that few of the pope's most vociferous Muslim critics read his highly philosophical disquisition, which affirms a position on a needed harmony between reason and faith that many of Islam's great jurists and philosophers would quickly recognize. Benedict is trying to tackle many of the very same subjects that Iran's former president, Mohammad Khatami, approached in his book, "From the City World to the World City"--but with considerably more erudition and tact. Mr. Khatami's language, thought and historiography are often an intellectual mess and egregiously insulting to Christians, Jews and, most of all, Western atheists and agnostics. Yet Mr. Khatami is esteemed by many of those who scold the pope.
Is the pope wrong to imply--in a rather roundabout way--that there is today something amiss inside Islam, as a community of believers sharing one faith and a long, common cultural tradition? There probably isn't a single liberal editor at a major American or European paper who doesn't think that there is something a little dysfunctional--a disposition that tolerates, if not encourages and admires, violence as expression of religious outrage--among young Muslim males from Northern Europe to Indonesia. We might not be able to put our finger precisely on it--the problems of a radicalized British Muslim of Pakistani ancestry are not the same as a Sunni Iraqi suicide bomber who blows up Jordanian and Palestinian women and children--but we know there is something wrong within Islam's global house, something that cannot be blamed exclusively on Western prejudice, bigotry, military actions or colonialism.

Many Muslims know it too, even if they are not inclined to say so publicly--it's often dangerous and always enormously difficult for believing and nonbelieving Muslims to aggressively critique their own when they know non-Muslims are listening. Self-described Muslim intellectuals (often meaning the traditionally devout, clerics) really have a hard time engaging in self-criticism that fortifies non-Muslim critiques of Islamic society. The notion of "us" and "them" is very powerful in Islam, even though Muslims have often aligned themselves with infidels against their religious brethren. The truly hard-core, radical Muslims of the West--the most frightful of the jihadists--have much more in common temperamentally and culturally with militant European left-wingers than they do with the devout farther east, yet they ferociously separate the world into two camps like the most primitive Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia.

And self-confidence is a huge problem. Militarily triumphant in the past, traditional Muslims had an easier time being tolerant toward the minorities in their midst; they certainly were unperturbed by the theological arguments and invective put forth by practitioners of a superseded faith. As many believing Muslims have become less self-confident--and the world around them has become ever more incongruent with the imagined, pure world of early Islam, when the faithful were unceasingly victorious because they were more perfect in their submission to God's will--they have become more acutely conscious and aggressive about their Muslim identity. Clerics in London, Copenhagen, Cairo or Tehran dictating terms about the appropriate comportment of non-Muslims toward believers has naturally followed.

Pope Benedict nailed two facts about Islam that are contributing factors to the faith's very rough entry into modernity. The prophet Muhammad, the model for all Muslims, established the faith through war and conquest. His immediate successors, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, whom traditional and radical Muslims cherish, reinforced Islam's identity as a victorious faith through the rapid creation of a world empire. Christianity was also at times spread by "the sword," and its use of that sword against nonbelievers and heretics was more savage than any Muslim imperialist's. But Christianity was not born to power. Jesus is not a conqueror. The doctrine of the "two swords" always existed in Christian lands--the division of the world between church and state--and created enormous tension. It helped produce Western civic society. And the image of God in Islam, which the pope underscores by talking about the Muslim philosopher Ibn Hazm, is a cleaner expression of unlimited, almighty Will than it is in Christianity. Islam is akin to biblical Judaism in accentuating the unnuanced, transcendent awe of God. When radical Muslims take a hold of this divine fearsomeness, it can untether itself quickly from "conventional" morality, thereby allowing young men to believe that the slaughter of women and children isn't an abomination. In that sense, Muslim jihadism, like fascism, rewrites our ethical DNA, turning sin into virtue.





The pope doesn't tell us how we should proceed to counter the defects he sees in Islam. He should, since that would begin a real, painful but meaningful dialogue, which will surely cut both ways between the West and Islam. But what is most disturbing in the Western reaction to the pope's speech--and one sees the same reaction among those who are uncomfortable with President Bush's use of the term "Islamofascism"--is the often well-intentioned refusal to talk openly about the other side. No one wants to offend, so we assume a public position of liberal tolerance, hoping that good-willed, nonconfrontational dialogue, which criticizes "our" possibly offensive behavior while downplaying "theirs," will somehow lead to a more peaceful, ecumenical world.
We won't talk about the history of jihad in Islam. We would rather emphasize that jihad can mean an internal moral struggle for believers, even though the most progressive, revisionist Muslim (unless he has been completely secularized in the West) knows perfectly well that when Muslims hear the word "jihad," they proudly remember holy warriors, from the prophet Muhammad forward. We won't probe too deeply, and certainly not critically, into how the Quran and the prophet's traditions, as well as classical Islamic history, have given all believing Muslims certain common sentiments, passions and reflexes. We don't even talk about how the post-Christian West's great causes--nationalism, socialism, communism and fascism--entered Islam's bloodstream and altered Muslim ethics, often catastrophically. Many in the West, on both right and left, prefer to see Osama bin Laden's terrorism as a violent reaction to Western, particularly American, behavior. It is thus something that could be avoided. (Israel usually enters the discussion here.) We shy away from the more existential arguments that suggest that bin Laden's popularity in Islamic lands is the product of an enormous religious and philosophical distemper that derives from the world being the reverse of what God had ordained: Muslims on top, non-Muslims down below.

But we need to talk and argue about these things. We need to stop treating Muslims like children, and viewing our public diplomacy with Islamic countries as popularity contests. Given what's happened since 9/11, a dialogue of civilizations is certainly in order. To his credit, Benedict has at least tried to approach the invidious issues that will define any helpful discussion. For 200 years, the West has, for better and worse, helped create the intellectual framework within which all Muslims think. Muslim saints, like the Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim, or Muslim devils, like Ayatollah Khomeini, have Western ideas profoundly within them. If we withdraw from this civilizational debate, the decent men and women of the Middle East, most of whom are faithful Muslims, will have a very hard time defeating those who have brutalized and coarsened their culture and religion. Westerners are doing Muslims an enormous disservice--a lethal bigotry of low expectations--by telling the pontiff to be more diplomatic. This isn't how anti-Western Islamic theocrats, holy warriors and ordinary teachers in much of the Muslim world act. They're having a real, vibrant discussion. We should turn it into a debate.

Mr. Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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buzwardo
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« Reply #153 on: September 21, 2006, 05:57:28 PM »

Divided Hearts
The 'comfort' of knowing that most Muslims don't wish us dead
September 11, 2006

By THEODORE DALRYMPLE

On the day on which the plot to blow up ten airliners between Britain and America was revealed to the public, I took a long taxi ride in a British city in which a good proportion of the taxi drivers are Muslim. My driver was Muslim, and I had more than enough time to talk to him.

We lamented the state of the world in general, and in particular the uncontrolled and vile public drunkenness of British youth that makes the life of taxi drivers a hazardous misery once the sun goes down. (It so happens I was on my way to a prison to prepare an entirely pointless medical report on a young man who, while drunk, had attacked a taxi driver.)

?I think religious belief makes people behave better,? he said. ?Provided no one tries to compel anyone else or uses violence.?

Amen to that: I agreed with him, though secretly I thought the chances slender of a religious revival among debauched British youth. The driver was a kindly, well-mannered man, and the classic immigrant success story: His children had progressed without difficulty into the professional middle class. He was, then, the archetypal moderate Muslim, whose public representatives Mr. Blair?s government so persistently seeks, in the forlorn hope that they will do the security services? work for them.

Despite my liking for the driver as an individual, whom I adjudged sincere in his moderation, I could not entirely disembarrass myself of a residual prejudice against him: He was, after all, a Muslim, and I recognized in myself something discreditable that has become visceral, not under fully conscious control, namely a distrust of more than a billion people because of their religion.

It was not always so. In my youth and young adulthood, I traveled widely in the Muslim world?in the Middle and Far East, Central Asia, and parts of Africa?and I was not aware of any anti-Islamic feeling whatsoever. On the contrary, I saw?superficially, no doubt, for I spoke none of their languages and did not tarry long?many virtues in the people among whom I traveled. They (by which, of course, I mean the men) were usually extremely dignified and very hospitable. I feared for neither my safety nor my possessions while among them. Even in Nigeria, where the people cheerfully said of themselves, ?There is no such thing as an honest Nigerian,? the Muslim North was conspicuously more honest than the Christian and animist South. I witnessed a hue and cry in a northern market, in which a thief was chased and then beaten. It was crude and vicious, no doubt, but more effective than, for example, the British police in the suppression of petty crime. Larceny on a grand scale was another thing altogether: The northern politicians were specialists in it. But you could leave your belongings in the middle of a town and find them still there when you returned.

So my prejudice is of recent, not distant, origin. Of course, I had long realized that the political traditions of the Muslim world were very different from those of my own country, and in my opinion inferior to them; but that was true of much of the globe, and extensive travel had taught me that the nature, virtues, and charms of a society were not completely captured by a description of its political institutions. Politics is not all.

The Islamists have changed all that. No doubt that was their intention: They invited, and wanted, a binary view of the world in order to overcome and defeat the half of it that they consider ungodly, evil, and an impediment to perfection on earth, and not coincidentally to their absolute power. Their success has been to instill apocalyptic visions in people who were previously immune to them.

So as I rode in the taxi, the word taqiyya, usually translated as ?dissimulation,? kept running through my mind like a refrain. Taqiyya is the principle by which a Muslim may disavow his religious beliefs if it is necessary for him to do so. I am no Islamic scholar, but it seems to me that the application of the concept has been extended. Where once it meant that a Muslim could deny his faith if he were threatened with death unless he abjured it, it has come to mean lying to promote any religiously desired end. Taqiyya has always been more important for Shia than for Sunni Muslims, but is permitted to the latter.

Roman Genn

On www.al-islam.org, I found the following, allegedly true story: A Shia and a Sunni Muslim were traveling to London to attend an Islamic conference. En route, the two of them discussed the need for unity between the two main branches of Islam, and the Sunni argued that the Shia resort to taqiyya was an obstacle to that unity. At London Airport, the Sunni told the immigration officer that he had come to England to seek medical treatment, while the Shia said that he had come to visit friends. The Sunni said to the Shia afterwards that an Islamic conference provided healing for the soul, while the Shia said that it provided an opportunity to visit friends. According to the author of the article on the Web, both had indulged in laudable and justifiable taqiyya.

This is not taqiyya to save life: No one was threatening the two of them with death unless they entered Britain. It was lying because the end was believed to justify the means, and possibly for the sheer malicious pleasure of deceiving someone (an infidel immigration officer) you cannot believe to be the equal to yourself.

If such a story is held up as a moral example, as something Muslims could and should learn from in their everyday dealings with the non-Muslim world, it cannot be much of a surprise that non-Muslims begin to grow suspicious of even the most decent of the Ummah. And this feeling of mistrust is bound to have grown because so many of the bombers and would-be bombers appeared for a long time to be perfectly integrated into British society. A man with a friendly manner and a pleasant expression, a conscientious teaching assistant by day, turns out to be a suicide bomber by night, ready to die so long as he takes as many complete strangers with him as he can. If he could not be trusted, if he was harboring such murderous hatred in his heart despite all outward appearances, which Muslim can be trusted?

The problem is all the greater because surveys among Muslims have consistently shown a high level of support for suicide bombers. Even ?moderates? who are wheeled onto the broadcast media to defuse incipient and potentially dangerous conflict say that, while they deplore the violence, they ?understand? it: that is to say, that they believe the extremists are not really, or not wholly, to blame.

Of course, surveys are notoriously difficult to interpret. They are, in fact, invitations to taqiyya. Moreover, the relation between expressed opinion and action is unclear. A lot depends upon how a question is put, and opposite answers can sometimes be obtained merely by a change of wording. Much also depends on the representative nature of the sample canvassed. And so forth.

Even with all these reservations in mind, however, it is far from encouraging to learn that (if one survey is to be believed) 100,000 British Muslims approve of the suicide bombing of Britain, or at least are prepared to say that they do to people who ask them in confidence. It is difficult to believe that this is not a soil propitious to the growth of terrorism. And from the point of view of the rest of the population, is it more significant that 1.5 million Muslims don?t approve of such bombing? Is it much of a consolation to know that, in a crowd in which there is someone who is determined to kill you, there are many more people who have no such desire?

Likewise, should we be grateful for the fact that fully 70 percent of British Muslims (again, if a survey is to be believed) do not think that British Jews are a legitimate target, that is to say may rightfully be killed at random? If you were a Jewish employer, would you be happy to take on a Muslim employee secure in the knowledge that there is only a one in three chance of his believing that it is religiously permitted, perhaps even religiously required, to kill you?

There is no doubt that the Islamist strategy is working at the moment. It will destroy the possibility of normal human contact of the kind that inhibits prejudice and mollifies hatred, and sow only suspicion and violence in the hope of attaining a total and final victory after some kind of apocalypse. In the end, however, I don?t think the strategy will work?in the modern world, Islam itself is too much of an intellectual nullity, just as Marxism was, for it to triumph. Moreover, diseases tend to decline in virulence as epidemics wane. Short-term, I am pessimistic; long-term, which is perhaps to say after my death, I am optimistic.

Mr. Dalrymple is a contributing editor of City Journal and the author, most recently, of Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy.

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/_national_review-divided_hearts.htm
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #154 on: September 27, 2006, 07:29:48 PM »


September 20, 2006

 

Bring Them Freedom, Or They Destroy Us
By Bernard Lewis

The following is adapted from a lecture delivered by Bernard Lewis on July 16, 2006, on board the Crystal Serenity, during a Hillsdale College cruise in the British Isles.

By common consent among historians, the modern history of the Middle East begins in the year 1798, when the French Revolution arrived in Egypt in the form of a small expeditionary force led by a young general called Napoleon Bonaparte--who conquered and then ruled it for a while with appalling ease. General Bonaparte--he wasn't yet Emperor--proclaimed to the Egyptians that he had come to them on behalf of a French Republic built on the principles of liberty and equality. We know something about the reactions to this proclamation from the extensive literature of the Middle Eastern Arab world. The idea of equality posed no great problem. Equality is very basic in Islamic belief: All true believers are equal. Of course, that still leaves three "inferior" categories of people--slaves, unbelievers and women. But in general, the concept of equality was understood. Islam never developed anything like the caste system of India to the east or the privileged aristocracies of Christian Europe to the west. Equality was something they knew, respected, and in large measure practiced. But liberty was something else.

As used in Arabic at that time, liberty was not a political but a legal term: You were free if you were not a slave. The word liberty was not used as we use it in the Western world, as a metaphor for good government. So the idea of a republic founded on principles of freedom caused some puzzlement. Some years later an Egyptian sheikh--Sheikh Rifa'a Rafi' al-Tahtawi, who went to Paris as chaplain to the first group of Egyptian students sent to Europe--wrote a book about his adventures and explained his discovery of the meaning of freedom. He wrote that when the French talk about freedom they mean what Muslims mean when they talk about justice. By equating freedom with justice, he opened a whole new phase in the political and public discourse of the Arab world, and then, more broadly, the Islamic world.

 

Is Western-Style Freedom Transferable?

What is the possibility of freedom in the Islamic world, in the Western sense of the word? If you look at the current literature, you will find two views common in the United States and Europe. One of them holds that Islamic peoples are incapable of decent, civilized government. Whatever the West does, Muslims will be ruled by corrupt tyrants. Therefore the aim of our foreign policy should be to insure that they are our tyrants rather than someone else's--friendly rather than hostile tyrants. This point of view is very much favored in departments of state and foreign offices and is generally known, rather surprisingly, as the "pro-Arab" view. It is, of course, in no sense pro-Arab. It shows ignorance of the Arab past, contempt for the Arab present, and unconcern for the Arab future. The second common view is that Arab ways are different from our ways. They must be allowed to develop in accordance with their cultural principles, but it is possible for them--as for anyone else, anywhere in the world, with discreet help from outside and most specifically from the United States--to develop democratic institutions of a kind. This view is known as the "imperialist" view and has been vigorously denounced and condemned as such.

In thinking about these two views, it is helpful to step back and consider what Arab and Islamic society was like once and how it has been transformed in the modern age. The idea that how that society is now is how it has always been is totally false. The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq or the Assad family in Syria or the more friendly dictatorship of Mubarak in Egypt--all of these have no roots whatsoever in the Arab or in the Islamic past. Let me quote to you from a letter written in 1786--three years before the French Revolution--by Mssr. Count de Choiseul-Gouffier, the French ambassador in Istanbul, in which he is trying to explain why he is making rather slow progress with the tasks entrusted to him by his government in dealing with the Ottoman government. "Here," he says, "things are not as in France where the king is sole master and does as he pleases." "Here," he says, "the sultan has to consult." He has to consult with the former holders of high offices, with the leaders of various groups and so on. And this is a slow process. This scenario is something radically different than the common image of Middle Eastern government today. And it is a description that ceased to be true because of a number of changes that occurred.

Modernization and Nazi and Soviet Influence

The first of these changes is what one might call modernization. This was undertaken not by imperialists, for the most part, but by Middle Eastern rulers who had become painfully aware that their societies were undeveloped compared with the advanced Western world. These rulers decided that what they had to do was to modernize or Westernize. Their intentions were good, but the consequences were often disastrous. What they did was to increase the power of the state and the ruler enormously by placing at his disposal the whole modern apparatus of control, repression and indoctrination. At the same time, which was even worse, they limited or destroyed those forces in the traditional society that had previously limited the autocracy of the ruler. In the traditional society there were established orders-the bazaar merchants, the scribes, the guilds, the country gentry, the military establishment, the religious establishment, and so on. These were powerful groups in society, whose heads were not appointed by the ruler but arose from within the groups. And no sultan, however powerful, could do much without maintaining some relationship with these different orders in society. This is not democracy as we currently use that word, but it is certainly limited, responsible government. And the system worked. Modernization ended that. A new ruling class emerged, ruling from the center and using the apparatus of the state for its purposes.

That was the first stage in the destruction of the old order. The second stage we can date with precision. In the year 1940, the government of France surrendered to the Axis and formed a collaborationist government in a place called Vichy. The French colonial empire was, for the most part, beyond the reach of the Nazis, which meant that the governors of the French colonies had a free choice: To stay with Vichy or to join Charles de Gaulle, who had set up a Free French Committee in London. The overwhelming majority chose Vichy, which meant that Syria-Lebanon--a French-mandated territory in the heart of the Arab East--was now wide open to the Nazis. The governor and his high officials in the administration in Syria-Lebanon took their orders from Vichy, which in turn took orders from Berlin. The Nazis moved in, made a tremendous propaganda effort, and were even able to move from Syria eastwards into Iraq and for a while set up a pro-Nazi, fascist regime. It was in this period that political parties were formed that were the nucleus of what later became the Baath Party. The Western Allies eventually drove the Nazis out of the Middle East and suppressed these organizations. But the war ended in 1945, and the Allies left. A few years later the Soviets moved in, established an immensely powerful presence in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and various other countries, and introduced Soviet-style political practice. The adaptation from the Nazi model to the communist model was very simple and easy, requiring only a few minor adjustments, and it proceeded pretty well. That is the origin of the Baath Party and of the kind of governments that we have been confronting in the Middle East in recent years. That, as I would again repeat and emphasize, has nothing whatever to do with the traditional Arab or Islamic past.

Wahhabism and Oil

That there has been a break with the past is a fact of which Arabs and Muslims themselves are keenly and painfully aware, and they have tried to do something about it. It is in this context that we observe a series of movements that could be described as an Islamic revival or reawakening. The first of these--founded by a theologian called Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who lived in a remote area of Najd in desert Arabia--is known as Wahhabi. Its argument is that the root of Arab-Islamic troubles lies in following the ways of the infidel. The Islamic world, it holds, has abandoned the true faith that God gave it through His prophet and His holy book, and the remedy is a return to pure, original Islam. This pure, original Islam is, of course--as is usual in such situations--a new invention with little connection to Islam as it existed in its earlier stages.

Wahhabism was dealt with fairly easily in its early years, but it acquired a new importance in the mid-1920s when two things happened: The local tribal chiefs of the House of Saud--who had been converted since the 18th century to the Wahhabi version of Islam--conquered the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. This was of immense importance, giving them huge prestige and influence in the whole Islamic world. It also gave them control of the pilgrimage, which brings millions of Muslims from the Islamic world together to the same place at the same time every year.

The other important thing that happened--also in the mid-20s--was the discovery of oil. With that, this extremist sect found itself not only in possession of Mecca and Medina, but also of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. As a result, what would otherwise have been a lunatic fringe in a marginal country became a major force in the world of Islam. And it has continued as a major force to the present day, operating through the Saudi government and through a whole series of non-governmental organizations. What is worse, its influence spreads far beyond the region. When Muslims living in Chicago or Los Angeles or Birmingham or Hamburg want to give their children some grounding in their faith and culture--a very natural, very normal thing--they turn to the traditional resources for such purposes: evening classes, weekend schools, holiday camps and the like. The problem is that these are now overwhelmingly funded and therefore controlled by the Wahhabis, and the version of Islam that they teach is the Wahhabi version, which has thus become a major force in Muslim immigrant communities.

Let me illustrate the significance of this with one example: Germany has constitutional separation of church and state, but in the German school system they provide time for religious instruction. The state, however, does not provide teachers or textbooks. They allow time in the school curriculum for the various churches and other religious communities--if they wish--to provide religious instruction to their children, which is entirely optional. The Muslims in Germany are mostly Turks. When they reached sufficient numbers, they applied to the German government for permission to teach Islam in German schools. The German authorities agreed, but said they--the Muslims--had to provide the teachers and the textbooks. The Turks said that they had excellent textbooks, which are used in Turkey and Turkish schools, but the German authorities said no, those are government-produced textbooks; under the principle of separation of church and state, these Muslims had to produce their own. As a result, whereas in Turkish schools in Turkey, students get a modern, moderate version of Islam, in German schools, in general, they get the full Wahhabi blast. The last time I looked, twelve Turks have been arrested as members of Al-Qaeda--all twelve of them born and educated in Germany.

The Iranian Revolution and Al-Qaeda

In addition to the rising spread of Wahhabism, I would draw your attention to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The word "revolution" is much misused in the Middle East; it is used for virtually every change of government. But the Iranian Revolution was a real revolution, in the sense that the French and Russian revolutions were real revolutions. It was a massive change in the country, a massive shift of power--socially, economically, and ideologically. And like the French and Russian revolutions in their prime, it also had a tremendous impact in the world with which the Iranians shared a common universe of discourse--the world of Islam. I remember not long after the Iranian Revolution I was visiting Indonesia and for some mysterious reason I had been invited to lecture in religious universities. I noticed in the student dorms they had pictures of Khomeini all over the place, although Khomeini--like the Iranians in general--is a Shiite, and the Indonesians are Sunnis. Indonesians generally showed little interest in what was happening in the Middle East. But this was something important. And the Iranian Revolution has gone through various familiar phases--familiar from the French and Russian revolutions--such as the conflicts between the moderates and the extremists. I would say that the Iranian Revolution is now entering the Stalinist phase, and its impact all over the Islamic world has been enormous.

The third and most recent phase of the Islamic revival is that associated with the name Al-Qaeda--the organization headed by Osama bin Laden. Here I would remind you of the events toward the end of the 20th century: the defeat of the Russians in Afghanistan, the withdrawal of the defeated armies into Russia, the collapse and breakdown of the Soviet Union. We are accustomed to regard that as a Western, or more specifically, an American, victory in the Cold War. In the Islamic world, it was nothing of the kind. It was Muslim victory in a Jihad. And, if we are fair about it, we must admit that this interpretation of what happened does not lack plausibility. In the mountains of Afghanistan, which the Soviets had conquered and had been trying to rule, the Taliban were able to inflict one defeat after another on the Soviet forces, eventually driving the Red Army out of the country to defeat and collapse.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #155 on: September 28, 2006, 12:13:03 AM »

In previous posts I have been taken to task for using the term "Islamofascism".  This piece addresses the issue:
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Islamism and Fascism: Dare to Compare.

 



 

On Tuesday of last week, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) entered the fray over the Bush Administration's description of the enemy as "Islamic fascism." (Bush first used the phrase on August 7, and other top officials have followed suit.) Feingold:

I call on the President to stop using the phrase "Islamic Fascists," a label that doesn't make any sense, and certainly doesn't help our effort to fight terrorism. Fascist ideology doesn't have anything to do with the way global terrorist networks think or operate, and it doesn't have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world who practice the peaceful teachings of Islam.

At the White House press briefing last Wednesday, Tony Snow came to the defense of the President, after a journalist read him a dictionary definition of fascism. "It doesn't quite seem to fit what we're talking about," said the journalist. "Well, it actually does fit," replied Snow.

I haven't used the phrase myself, and I generally prefer Islamism or jihadism, depending on the context. But I can't rise up against the use of Islamic fascism with the righteous indignation mustered by, say, Michigan professor Juan Cole, who's denounced the "lazy conflation of Muslim fundamentalist movements with fascism." My reason is that this conflation, or comparison, has had some rigorous champions within Middle Eastern studies over the years. It didn't originate in the Bush White House; it has a long pedigree including some pioneering social scientists. These scholars, who knew rather more than Senator Feingold about both Islamism and fascism, did think the comparison made sense. I'll let them explain why.

Any student of my generation first would have encountered the comparison in the work of the late Manfred Halpern, who spent nearly forty years as a politics professor at Princeton. Halpern grew up with fascism: born in Germany in 1924, he and his parents fled the Nazis in 1937 for America. He joined the war against the Nazis as a battalion scout in the 28th Infantry Division, and saw action in Battle of the Bulge and elsewhere. After Germany's surrender, he worked in U.S. Counterintelligence, tracking down former Nazis. In 1948 he joined the State Department, where he worked on the Middle East, and in 1958 he came to Princeton, where he did the same.

In 1963, Princeton published his Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa. For years, this book was the basic text in the field, and included the only academic treatment of Islamism, which no one much cared about at the time. Halpern labeled it "neo-Islamic totalitarianism," and this is how he described it:

The neo-Islamic totalitarian movements are essentially fascist movements. They concentrate on mobilizing passion and violence to enlarge the power of their charismatic leader and the solidarity of the movement. They view material progress primarily as a means for accumulating strength for political expansion, and entirely deny individual and social freedom. They champion the values and emotions of a heroic past, but repress all free critical analysis of either past roots or present problems.


Halpern continued:

Like fascism, neo-Islamic totalitarianism represents the institutionalization of struggle, tension, and violence. Unable to solve the basic public issues of modern life?intellectual and technological progress, the reconciliation of freedom and security, and peaceful relations among rival sovereignties?the movement is forced by its own logic and dynamics to pursue its vision through nihilistic terror, cunning, and passion. An efficient state administration is seen only as an additional powerful tool for controlling the community. The locus of power and the focus of devotion rest in the movement itself. Like fascist movements elsewhere, the movement is so organized as to make neo-Islamic totalitarianism the whole life of its members.


At the time, Halpern was a central figure in Middle Eastern studies, and his book?reprinted six times?appeared in every syllabus for the next fifteen years. His critical analysis of Islamism very much cut against the grain, at a time when Cold War strategists ardently wooed Islamists as allies against communism. In the 1970s, he walked away from the field, and his reputation within it slipped. But his rigorous treatment of Islamism stands up well, and his equating it with fascism was a serious proposition, made by someone who had seen fascism up close.

The comparison of Islamism with fascism also made sense to the late Maxime Rodinson, the preeminent French scholar of Islam, who pioneered the application of sociological method to the Middle East. As a French Jew born in 1915, Rodinson also learned about fascism from direct experience. He moved to Syria in 1940, but the Vichy regime deported his parents to Auschwitz, where they perished. Rodinson was a man of the left?in his early years, militantly so?but he took his thinking from no one.

In 1978, during Iran's revolution, enthusiasm for Islamism began to spread among his colleagues on the French left, who romanticized it as the vibrant, new anti-West. The French philosopher Michel Foucault become famously enamored of Ayatollah Khomeini. Rodinson decided to set things straight, in a long front-page article in Le Monde, targeted at those who "come fresh to the problem in an idealistic frame of mind." Rodinson admitted that trends in Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood were "hard to ascertain."

But the dominant trend is a certain type of archaic fascism (type de fascisme archa?que). By this I mean a wish to establish an authoritarian and totalitarian state whose political police would brutally enforce the moral and social order. It would at the same time impose conformity to religious tradition as interpreted in the most conservative light.

By "archaic," Rodinson referred to the religious component of the ideology, largely absent from European fascism.

I'm not sure whether Rodinson ever repeated this precise phrase, but putting it once on the front page of Le Monde was enough. He had accused his colleagues on the left of celebrating a form of fascism, from his perch at the pinnacle of Islamic scholarship. This especially sharp critic of Eurocentric distortions of Islam didn't shy from the comparison of Islamism with fascism, at a moment just as politically charged as the present one.

In 1984, Said Amir Arjomand, a prominent Iranian-American sociologist at SUNY-Stony Brook, picked up the comparison and ran with it. With a nod to Halpern, Arjomand pointed to "some striking sociological similarities between the contemporary Islamic movements and the European fascism and the American radical right.... It is above all the strength of the monistic impulse and the pronounced political moralism of the Islamic traditionalist and fundamentalist movements which makes them akin to fascism and the radical right alike."

In 1986, he took took the comparison even further, in an influential article for the journal World Politics entitled "Iran's Islamic Revolution in Comparative Perspective." Arjomand entertained a number of comparisons, but in the end settled on fascism as the best of them. Islamism (he called it "revolutionary traditionalism") and fascism "share a number of essential features," including "an identical transposition of the theme of exploitation" and a "distinct constitutive core."

Like fascism, the Islamic revolutionary movement has offered a new synthesis of the political creeds it has violently attacked. And, like the fascists, the Islamic militants are against democracy because they consider liberal democracy a foreign model that provides avenues for free expression of alien influences and ideas. (Also like the fascists, however, the Islamic militants would not necessarily accept the label of "antidemocratic.")

Arjomand's conclusion: "The emergence of an Islamic revolutionary ideology has been in the cards since the fascist era." (For much more of the comparison, go here. Arjomand later repeated the argument almost verbatim in his 1989 book The Turban for the Crown, Oxford.)

Latest word is that the State Department has persuaded the White House to stop talking about "Islamic fascism." That should make it easier for academics to revisit the comparison as a serious analytical proposition. It's necessary because self-styled campus progressives are repeating Foucault's mistake. It started in earnest last spring, when Noam Chomsky made a pilgrimage to the the lair of Hezbollah's maximum leader, Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, and came out praising him for defying America. Over the summer, Hamid Dabashi, keeper of Edward Said's flame at Columbia, offered this: "Both Hamas and Hizbullah, becoming even more integral to the Palestinian and Lebanese national liberation movements, will one day succeed in helping establish a free, democratic, and cosmopolitan republic in their respective countries." Then earlier this month, celebrity philosopher and queer theorist Judith Butler told a Berkeley audience that Hamas and Hezbollah are "social movements that are part of the global left."

It's too much to expect the mandarins of Middle Eastern studies, at this advanced stage of decadence, to revisit the Islamism-fascism comparison. The Middle East Studies Association is led by Juan Cole, who thinks such a "conflation" is "lazy," but who's quite capable of offering this more energetic one: "Saudi Arabia is an extremely conservative society; going to Saudi Arabia is kind of like going to Amish country in the United States." (The State Department presently warns Americans who go to Saudi Arabia to stay only in hotels and compounds that "apply stringent security measures including, but not limited to, the presence of an armed guard force, inspection of all vehicles, and a hardened security perimeter to prevent unauthorized vehicles from approaching the facility." Like in Amish country.)

It's these conflations of Hamas with the "global left" or Wahhabis with the Amish that are truly lazy. In contrast, the Islamism-fascism comparison has ample and even distinguished academic precedents. Younger scholars and students should seize the moment to explore it further, with intellectual rigor and without fear.

Addendum: Who does meet Juan Cole's criteria for fascism?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #156 on: October 08, 2006, 07:26:35 AM »


Speakout: Muslims must both denounce, renounce their violent hadiths
By Dr. Tawfik Hamid

Dr. Tawfik Hamid, an Egyptian physician, Islamic scholar and former
extremist, is the author of The Roots of Jihad (www.rootsofjihad.org). Hamid
will be speaking in Denver at the University of Denver on Monday at 7:30
p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Rocky Mountain News
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion/article/0,1299,DRMN_38_5048866,00.html
October 6, 2006

Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's No. 2 man, leader, last month announced that
Americans must choose: Convert to Islam or continue to receive acts of
terror.

Al-Zawahri was reiterating a fundamental concept of Salafi Islamic teaching,
the fountainhead of extremist thinking. Yet the authors of the American
government's recent intelligence report on terrorism's spread seem not to
have been listening.

Zawahri's threat is based on a saying of the Prophet Muhammad as written in
Sahih Al-Buchary, a central book of Salafi Islamic teaching. This hadith, or
fundamental concept, states: "I have been ordered by Allah to fight and kill
all mankind until they say, 'No God except Allah and Muhammad is the prophet
of Allah' (Hadith Sahih)."

Based on this hadith, early Muslims used the sword to spread Islam
throughout the world. The same hadith inspires contemporary Islamic terror
including this summer's thwarted London airplane explosions. Other
rationales that terrorists use to justify terrorism - the Arab-Israeli
conflict, America's involvement in Iraq - are simply useful propaganda cover
stories, not the actual causes or goals of terrorists' actions.

Americans must be wary of political leaders who accept the propaganda
explanations. To win the war on terror, America's leaders must recognize the
powerful role of the Islamic religious principle of jihad, Islam's belief
that it must conquer the world, which derives from the above hadith. Belief
in jihad is what causes so many Muslims worldwide to cheer terrorist acts
such as 9/11, European subway bombings, and Hezbollah and Hamas attacks
against Israel.

Allowing jihadist teaching to continue is like allowing cancer cells to
survive in a human body.

The human immune system demonstrates that nurturing normal cells and
respecting their variance sustains life. A healthy body nourishes cell
diversity. A healthy body politic, similarly, must value respect for
different beliefs. At the same time, if an immune system shows any tolerance
whatsoever for cancer cells, the latter will terminate that body's life. The
immune system of a body politic must have a similar zero tolerance for
beliefs that incite violence against its citizens.

Cancer can be overcome if an individual has a strong immune system that acts
to triumph over the killer cells. Similarly, the cancerous teachings of
Salafi Islam could become insignificant if the majority of Muslims were to
vocally oppose them.

Unfortunately, however, the vast majority of Muslims, Islamic organizations
and Islamic scholars have not publicly objected to these teachings. There
have been no powerful Muslim demonstrations to denounce Osama bin Laden and
not a single fatwa by top Islamic scholars or organizations to consider bin
Laden an apostate - as was done to Salman Rushdie just for writing a novel.

Because the teachings continue, a significant proportion of the world's
Muslims have become passive terrorists, peaceful citizens whose sympathy in
their hearts and support with their purses enable terrorism's spread.

If Islamic scholars and organizations in America disapprove of jihadist
teachings, they must speak out against them. Americans should consider
Muslims to be moderates, and Islam a peaceful faith, only if, in English and
in Arabic, Muslims clearly denounce their violent hadiths and strike them
from the books that educate their next generation.

In addition to internal immune reactions, externally applied interventions
also can destroy cancer cells. Like cancer-fighting chemotherapy, strongly
applied military might can reduce large tumors. America eliminated al-Qaida
training camps in Afghanistan, but the verdict is not yet in on whether
Israel this past summer similarly decimated Hezbollah.

To conquer the metastases of extremist Islam, however, words may be the most
potent weapons. Outspoken condemnation of the theological sources of
terrorism by American intellectuals and politicians, reinforcing the
self-examination of Muslims themselves, could make a vital difference.

Addressing the theological wellsprings of Islamic terrorist motivation is
essential if America is to succeed in its war against terrorism. Pope
Benedict XVI has begun leading the way. Neither political correctness nor
Muslim outrage must be allowed to prevent further realistic talk about the
religious underpinnings of Islamic violence. Otherwise Islamic teaching will
continue to spread jihad's cancerous beliefs.

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« Reply #157 on: October 15, 2006, 04:17:05 AM »

http://www.howardbloom.net/islam.htm
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« Reply #158 on: October 15, 2006, 04:23:08 AM »

http://www.howardbloom.net/militant_islam_timeline.htm
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« Reply #159 on: December 05, 2006, 12:04:55 PM »

Earlier in this thread there was some squabbling over the meaning of Fascism.  Here's Mussolini's take on it:
(Hat tip to TB)
=======

http://www.mises.org/story/2355
 
Excerpt Follows:
<" While I could quote from numerous political and intellectual leaders throughout the war and welfare century, I have chosen one who summed up the dominant political thoughts in the twentieth century. He was the founder of fascism, and he came to power in 1922 in Italy. In 1927, Benito Mussolini stated:

Fascism … believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace…. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it…. It may be expected that this will be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of Fascism. For the nineteenth century was a century of individualism…. [Liberalism always signifying individualism], it may be expected that this will be a century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State…. For Fascism, the growth of Empire, that is to say, the expansion of the nation, is the essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite is a sign of decay and death. [2] 

Guiding Principles

Mussolini's statement bears closer study because it dramatically states some of the guiding principles of the twentieth century:

It states that perpetual peace is neither possible, nor even to be desired.
Instead of peace, war is to be desired because not only is war a noble activity, but it reveals the true courage of man; it unleashes creative energy and causes progress. Moreover, war is the prime mover to enhance and glorify the state. War is the principal method by which collectivists have achieved their goal of control by the few over the many. They actually seek to create or initiate wars for this purpose.
Individualism, the philosophy practiced in the nineteenth century, is to be abolished and, specifically, collectivism is to rule the twentieth century.
Fascism is recognized as a variation of other forms of collectivism, all being part of the Left, as opposed to individualism. It was not until the "Red Decade" of the 30s, and the appearance of Hitler, that leftist intellectuals and the media began to switch Fascism on the political spectrum to the Right so that the "good forms of collectivism," such as socialism, could oppose the "extremism on the Right" that they said was fascism.
The founder of fascism clearly realized that all of these collectivist ideas — i.e., socialism, fascism, and communism — belonged on the Left and were all opposed to individualism. Fascism is not an extreme form of individualism and is a part of the Left, or collectivism.">>
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« Reply #160 on: December 05, 2006, 02:23:16 PM »


WHEN MUSLIMS SPEAK OUT!

We covered this on the air yesterday, but again people are demanding details.

We've often asked on the air why, if Islam the peaceful religion that many Muslims want us to believe it is, we don't hear more Muslims speaking out against Islamic terrorism. Well, now we may have an explanation.

Jamal Miftah is a Muslim residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is an immigrant from Pakistan. Jamal Miftah is a member of the Islamic Center of Tulsa Mosque. On October 29th Jiftah wrote an article for the op-ed page of the Tulsa World. Here is what he wrote:

Because of lack of knowledge of Islam, Muslim youth are misguided into believing by the so-called champions of the cause of Islam that the current spate of killings and barbarism, which has no equal in the recent civilized history, is jihad in the name of Islam. They are incited, in the name of Islam, to commit heinous crimes not pardonable by any religion and strictly forbidden in Islam....

Even mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S. and around the world have become tools in [Al-Qaeda's] hands and are used for collecting funds for their criminal acts. Half of the funds collected go into the pockets of their local agents and the rest are sent to these thugs.

They are the reason for branding the peaceful religion of Islam as terrorism. The result, therefore, is in the form of Danish cartoons and remarks/reference by the Pope.

I appeal to the Muslim youth in particular and Muslims of the world in general to rise up and start jihad against the killers of humanity and help the civilized world to bring these culprits to justice and prove that Islam is not a religion of hatred and aggression.

I appeal to the Muslim clerics around the world that, rather than issuing empty fatwas condemning suicide bombing, they should issue a fatwa for the death of such scoundrels and barbarians who have taken more than 4,267 lives of innocent people in the name of Islam and have carried out more than 24 terrorist attacks on civilian installations throughout the world. This does not include the chilling number of deaths because of such activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is well over 250,000.

I appeal to al-Zawahri and his band of thugs to hand themselves over to justice and stop spreading evil and killing innocent humans around the world in the name of Islam. Their time is limited and Muslims of the world will soon rise against them to apprehend them and bring them to justice.


Well, that's a pretty striking condemnation of Islamic violence from a Muslim, wouldn't you say? Well it certainly didn't go over well with Jamal's fellow Tulsa Mosque. Jamal Miftah was expelled from his Mosque. The governing board has since ruled he can return. He has also been subjected to death threats and threats of violence from his fellow members of the religion of peace. Miftah was told that he should not criticize Islam in front of non-Muslims. I've re-read Jamal's letter, and for the life of me I can't see where he criticized Islam. I guess that if you criticize any Muslim that is considered to be criticizing Islam.

If you search the blogs on this matter you'll see a letter from Jamal Miftah responding to this situation. He says: "I am Jamal Miftah and I stand by what I have written. America is great country and so its people and I hope and pray that one day justice is done to the victims of 9/11, no matter what Mr. Kabbani, the Imam of Tulsa mosque or Mr. Abu Waleed, the spokesman for Islamic Society of Tulsa feel or say. God bless America."

Now there is one Muslim I would be proud to have as a neighbor and count as a friend.

http://boortz.com/nuze/200612/12052006.html
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« Reply #161 on: December 13, 2006, 07:52:15 PM »

I've just marked this site for further exploration.
==============================
http://www.freemuslims.org/news/article.php?article=1824

From a Muslim outlook, imams have missed the point on flight behavior

December 11, 2006
M. Zuhdi Jasser

The first thing one must understand about this whole hullabaloo with the Muslim imams taken off a Phoenix-bound plane in Minneapolis is that it most definitely was not about the right to prayer or freedom of worship.

And much as the imams and their handlers may try, it is certainly not about victimization.

But because the case of the six imams (five from the Valley) and US Airways Flight 300 has taken on a life of its own, it would be helpful to look and see what lessons can be gleaned from this story.


All of us as Americans have endured the incremental inconveniences of air travel since 9/11. From 3-ounce fluid limits to random searches, those of us with the first name Mohammed can also attest to humbling profiling. Most of us are quite willing to endure all this because we know the inherent dangers of flying in the world today.

There is little argument that American airport concourses have become clinics of anxiety-laden travelers who have become vigilant in spotting anything out of the ordinary. This vigilance and anxiety is even more acutely felt by U.S. Transportation Security Administration agents and airline crews. They will never be rewarded for a safe flight. But they will be globally vilified for one lax call that leads to tragedy.

Into this highly charged environment comes this incident of the imams returning from their conference. To ignore the larger context is to virtually live in an airtight bubble.

The preponderance of evidence points to some troubling coincidences during flight preparation, regardless of where we stand on this issue. The distribution of their seats, while in fact random, raised concern. Changing seats after boarding, rather than before, raised concern. Conversations in Arabic after boarding raised concern. Seatbelt extenders raised concern. However, no passengers refused to board after seeing and hearing the imams pray aloud at the gate. Taken individually, each of the reported actions could be something any of us would do. However, in totality, although unfortunate in retrospect, it remains hard to fault a cautious crew who must act with little information to ensure a safe flight.

But let us look at the response of the imams since the incident.

They rushed toward the media never looking back. They have taken their story of victimization to every soft media they could find. They then stoked the same tired Muslim flames of victimization through their own political pulpits in mosques around the Valley.

Organizations like CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and the Muslim American Society also immediately jumped on board, even before the imams' flight reached Phoenix the next day, and began whipping up the drums of victimization. Their handlers flew in from across the country staging rallies and pray-ins so they could teach the American people about this supposed tragedy of injustice.

As a devout Muslim, I have watched this painfully protracted saga unravel, fearing what comes next. The media, especially print media, have bent over backward to hear minorities' fears. Yet public opinion has not seemed to budge in favor of the imams. The lesson here lies in why. It has to do with credibility.

We are all creatures of passion. This fiasco has stirred the passionate cry of victimization from the Muslim activist community and imam community. But where were the news conferences, the rallies to protest the endless litany of atrocities performed by people who act supposedly in my religion's name? Where are the denunciations, not against terrorism in the abstract, but clear denunciations of al-Qaida or Hamas, of Wahhabism or militant Islamism, of Darfurian genocide or misogyny and honor killings, to name a few? There is no cry, there is no rage. At best, there is the most tepid of disclaimers. In short, there is no passion. But for victimization, always.

Only when Americans see that animating passion will they believe that we Muslims are totally against the fascists that have hijacked our religion. There is only so much bandwidth in the American culture to focus upon Islam and Muslims. If we fill it with our shouts of victimization, then the real problems from within and outside our faith community will never be heard.

Though this was not about prayer, let us look at the prayer itself: certainly a central part of our faith both alone and in congregation. The Quran teaches Muslims that God did not make our faith to be too difficult. Thus, during travel, many of us pray alone in silence when we cannot find a private place or where public display is not appropriate.

Prayer is an intimate thing, five times a day for Muslims. It is a personal conversation with God and not about showing others how devout we are.

Congregational prayers are preferred, but in travel (as three of the imams did apparently do) they can be combined upon their arrival in Phoenix.

Alija Izetbegovic, former president of Bosnia-Herzegovina, once said he was never so close to God in his prayers as a Muslim as he was during his solitary confinement for 12 years as a political prisoner struggling for liberty under Josip Broz Tito's oppression.

These imams would do well to learn from President Izetbegovic. He further understood the separation of religion and politics.

He understood God teaches us in the Quran that our religion is based upon intention and that if we perceive that the public situation is not conducive to our congregational prayer, that a forgiving God will understand.

Because these imams and their handlers just don't get it, it's time we Muslims found leadership and organizations that do.

Our predicament is unique, fragile and precarious. We Muslims are a relatively new minority in a nation that gives us freedoms that no other Muslim nation would allow.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, a radical subset of our faith community is seeking to destroy the basis for this liberty.

Either we predominantly direct our passions against these radicals or Americans will not count us as allies in this consuming struggle.
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rachelg
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« Reply #162 on: December 31, 2008, 07:11:45 AM »

Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II 
by Norman H. Gershman

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/0815609345/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books


I have not read the book but I thought this was really interesting. 

Besa is a code of honor deeply rooted in Albanian culture and incorporated in the faith of Albanian Muslims. It dictates a moral behavior so absolute that nonadherence brings shame and dishonor on oneself and one's family. Simply stated, it demands that one take responsibility for the lives of others in their time of need. In Albania and Kosovo, Muslims sheltered, at grave risk to themselves and their families, not only the Jews of their cities and villages, but thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazis from other European countries.

Over a five-year period, photographer Norman H. Gershman sought out, photographed, and collected these powerful and moving stories of heroism in Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II. The book reveals a hidden period in history, slowly emerging after the fall of an isolationist communist regime, and shows the compassionate side of ordinary people in saving Jews.


http://www.eyecontactfoundation.org/BESA
This website has links to some of the families stories


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« Reply #163 on: December 31, 2008, 09:16:36 AM »

**And on the other side....**

The Nazi Connection to Islamic Terror   
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Chuck Morse, the author of The Nazi Connection to Islamic Terrorism - Adolf Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini. Mr. Morse will be speaking at the International Institute for Holocaust Research-Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, March 23. He is a Republican candidate for Congress in Massachusetts where he is campaigning against Barney Frank.



Glazov: Chuck Morse, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Morse: Thank you.
 
Glazov: Tell us why you wrote your book.
 
Morse: After the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, I was searching for an answer to the question of how people could be so filled with hate for the United States that they would commit such an irrational and barbaric atrocity. Also, why some Arabs hated Jews so much that they would blow themselves up in order to kill as many Jews as possible.
 
Glazov: So what is the psychology of the people who will blow themselves up in order to kill Americans and Jews?
 
Morse: Cult-like subservience is cultivated in young people by older conspirators who have a warped agenda. Hatred starts at home and, in the case of many Palestinian Arabs, the conditioning continues at school. Candidates for suicide missions are drafted and cultivated by the fully witting haters in the same way that baseball scouts find and cultivate talent for the major league. The possibility that mind control techniques are employed, some of which may have been developed in the former Soviet Union, should not be discounted.
 
Glazov: Give us the story on Amin al-Husseini.
 
Morse: Amin al-Husseini, regarded in the Arab world as the founding father of the Palestinian movement, chose the path of denying the national rights of the Jews to that tiny area between the Jordan Rover and the Mediterranean Sea known as Israel.
 
Al-Husseini instigated a pogrom against indigenous Palestinian Jews in 1920. After conviction in absentia, he was pardoned by British Mandate Governor Herbert Samuel, himself a British Jew. Samuel was responsible for elevating al-Husseini as Mufti of Jerusalem thus establishing a strange pattern of western leaders supporting extremists over moderates, a pattern that continues to this day in many cases.
 
In 1936, al-Husseini met with Adolf Eichmann, one of the Nazi masterminds behind the Holocaust against the Jews, in Palestine where Eichmann visited for a few days. Al-Husseini then was put on the Nazi payroll and received Nazi funds which he used to instigate the Arab Revolt of 1937-1939 according to testimony at the Nuremburg and Eichmann trials.
 
In 1941, al-Husseini played a key role in instigating a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq. Following the collapse of the coup, al-Husseini helped instigate the Fahud, or the murder campaign against the indigenous Jews of Iraq, a campaign that has been compared to the kristalnacht in Germany.
 
In November, 1941, al-Husseini met with Hitler in Berlin where he was treated as a visiting head of state. al-Husseini spent the war years in Nazi Germany where he was recognized as the head of state of a Nazi-Arab government in exile. Hitler promised al-Husseini that he would be chief administrator of the Arab world after the Nazi "liberation."
 
While in Nazi Germany, al-Husseini directly participated in the Holocaust against the Jews by preventing the exchange of Jews for German POW's and instead insuring that they went to the crematoria. Al-Husseini led in the effort to train Bosnian Muslim brigades and other Muslim European brigades who were involved in many atrocities. He  funneled monies form the sonderfund, money looted from Jews as they were sent to the concentration camps, sending the funds to the Middle East to be used to promote Nazi and anti-Jewish propaganda.
 
After the war, al-Husseini escaped to Cairo ahead of indictment at Nuremburg where he spent the rest of his life agitating against Israel. He died in Beirut in 1974.
 
Glazov:  In contrast to al-Husseini, there have been moderate Arab leaders who have supported the aspirations of the Jews in Palestine. Can you tell us about them?
 
Morse: Emir Faisal, later King of Syria and Iraq and recognized as political leader of the Arab world, who signed an agreement with Chiam Weizmann, recognized head of the Zionist organization, known as the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement in January, 1919.
 
This agreement, which recognized the Jewish National Home in Palestine, reflected the more moderate and genuinely progressive view held by many Arabs at the time. I contend that this agreement constitutes established international law. Faisal envisioned an Israel, existing within "modest and proper" borders, coexisting with the emerging Arab states and helping those states emerge into modernity with the development of democratic institutions, western economies, and greater civil rights for Arabs. Had the Faisal vision been realized, perhaps the Arab States today would be prosperous and free rather than what they became -- which is authoritarian systems with endemic poverty and little freedom.
 
Glazov: The Koran is ridden with anti-Semitic passages, but at the same time there are passages that recognize a Jewish Israel. Can you comment?
 
Morse: The anti-Semitic passages in the Koran apply to Jews, and Christians, who live in Muslim States and who are considered as "dhimmi's." At the same time, the Koran explicitly recognizes the Jewish State in the following passage:
 
....the words of Moses to his people. He said "Remember, my people, the favors which Allah has bestowed upon you...Enter, my people, the holy land which Allah has assigned for you." (Sura V)"...when the promise of the hearafter cometh to pass (at Judgement Day) we shall bring you as a crowd gathered out of various nations. (Sura XVII: 104)
 
Glazov: So then why do Muslims not follow their holy book and work to give Jews their safe holy land?
 
Morse: Al-Husseini started the process by driving moderate Muslims out of Palestine in the 1920's and 1930's. Moderate Palestinian Arabs were assassinated, driven into exile, or silenced by fear in a policy that continues. The extremists, who have twisted the Koran to suit their own agenda, control the Arab and Muslim street by employing the same terror tactics that they are now using against the western democracies.
 
Glazov: In many respects, you could say that al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas etc. are all, on one level, branches of Nazism. No?
 
Morse:  Nazi money, largely looted from Jews, was used before, during and for decades after the war to help establish and influence these groups. Nazi war criminals emigrated to the Arab countries after the war in an effort known as "Oerationn Odessa." Al-Husseini played a role in this operation. Certainly they have embraced Nazi style anti-Semitism and tactics.
 
Glazov: Nazis like al-Husseini and others in his genre have received support from prominent westerners over their more moderate counterparts. Why?
 
Morse:  This is a fascinating question that I don't have the answer to. Before and during the war, al-Husseini and his ilk were supported by the Nazis while after the war the support came from the Soviet Union and various groups affiliated with the international left. Leftist groups continue to support the radical Islamiso-Fascists as indicated by the anti-Western, anti-Semitic U.N. Conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa in the summer of 2001.
 
Glazov: So how does all of this information help us? How do we utilize these historical facts to help fight the war on terror?
 
Morse: We support the good guys and strike at those who are striking us. President George W. Bush articulated this doctrine when, after 9/11, he stated that the nations and peoples of the world would have to take sides in the war against the terrorists.
 
Glazov: Mr. Morse, thank you for joining us.
 
Morse: Thank you very much.
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rachelg
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« Reply #164 on: December 31, 2008, 09:33:45 AM »

GM,

I knew you were going to post something like  that and its true but --
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Frank

It's difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death...and yet...I think...this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. 

Anne Frank
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #165 on: December 31, 2008, 10:11:36 AM »

And we know how it turned out for her-- which is why I am a "Never Again Jew".
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G M
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« Reply #166 on: December 31, 2008, 10:38:21 AM »

GM,

I knew you were going to post something like  that and its true but --
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Frank

It's difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death...and yet...I think...this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. 

Anne Frank


**And were it not for men with guns that waded ashore on Normandy, her words would be lost to history. Pretty words are nice, but pragmatic responses to threats are what matters.**
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #167 on: December 31, 2008, 10:46:33 AM »

Well said.
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rachelg
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« Reply #168 on: December 31, 2008, 10:52:15 AM »

Marc,
We also know how it turned out for the Nazis. You and GM need  some sugar in your coffee.   To save you from telling me that I should drink my coffee black so I can wake up-- I don't drink coffee.  I drink  herbal "tea" --- I don't like caffeine.

Never again Jews/Shoah or never again mass murder?

It greatly upsets when people compare the Shoah to anything else because I think it was a phenomenon unseen in human history--

however in terms of preventing mass murder the world has not done a great job with either  situation in  the Congo or Darfur

For never again Shoah that is why Israel must be strong because Jews have now other country


PS-- GM posted while I was writing this.  

I am very grateful for those of fought  or are fighting  for my freedom and safety.  I owe a debt I can never repay.  I strongly support pragmatic action - violence does indeed solve some problems.    Fighting is very necessary sometimes but it is also important to remember why we are fighting.    
« Last Edit: December 31, 2008, 03:47:40 PM by Rachel G » Logged
G M
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« Reply #169 on: December 31, 2008, 04:27:42 PM »

Fighting is very necessary sometimes but it is also important to remember why we are fighting.    

Agreed.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #170 on: December 31, 2008, 04:41:47 PM »

Amen to that.   Rachel, your Chanukah posts on the Power of Word thread on SCE forum have touched me in this regard.  My thanks.
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rachelg
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« Reply #171 on: December 31, 2008, 04:48:57 PM »



 Does anyone else have the problem  that  after they make a  obnoxious  comment they  hear   their Mother's voice saying " Don't be smart Young Lady"   That  may just be me.

Anyway I apologize for my glib comment about cofee .  I don't mean to make light of the necessity of war and violence.   There is definitely a time for fighting and this is one of them on many fronts.
I do understand that it much easier for me to be optimistic because the worst thing that happens to me at my job is that I sometimes get bored .  As I go about my day  my life is not at stake and I m not asked to do dark things to protect others.

"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." George Orwell.


I am very grateful for  all those men and women (armed forces, firefighters, police etc) who sacrifice for my freedom and safety.

I just feel optimism and hope  for a better world  are worth fighting and working for.
I was  a funeral on Monday for a close family friend who just finished her 7 year battle with cancer.    Her ability to provide hope and inspiration  for others while she was sick herself and morning the death of her husband of 40 years was amazing.  I was so  lucky to know both of them.

PS,  Marc You and GM keep posting while I am writing.   Thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate it. 
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rachelg
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« Reply #172 on: January 03, 2009, 10:05:44 PM »

http://jhvonline.com/default.asp?sourceid=&smenu=96&twindow=&mad=&sdetail=5936&wpage=1&skeyword=&sidate=&ccat=&ccatm=&restate=&restatus=&reoption=&retype=&repmin=&repmax=&rebed=&rebath=&subname=&pform=&sc=1291&hn=jhvonline&he=.com

Published 25.DEC.08
WASHINGTON / ANKARA, Turkey – The Turkish General Directorate of Post and Telegraph Organization has issued two new commemorative stamps honoring the heroism of Necdet Kent and Selâhattin Ülkümen, Turkish diplomats who risked their lives during World War II to save Jews of Turkish origin from concentration camps.

Ülkümen served as the consul general of Turkey in Rhodes between 1943 and 1944. Opposing the German Nazi forces which occupied the island during World War II, he saved 42 Jews from death, threatening to create an international crisis if they were not released. Ambassador Ülkümen later was honored as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Kent served as Turkey’s vice consul general in Marseille, France, between 1941-1944, and during World War II. He saved the lives of more than 80 Jews, who had been loaded into cattle cars to be transported to concentration camps. Risking his own life, Kent, himself, climbed into the train and refused to leave without them. In interviews after the war, Kent attributed his moral resiliency to his Turkish identity: “As a representative of a government that rejected such treatment for religious beliefs, I could not consider leaving [Jews on a train bound for a concentration camp].”

“Turkey issued the stamps for the simple reason that, even today, the world remains scarred from the atrocities of the Holocaust,” said Nabi Sensoy, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States. “Honoring these two great Turkish diplomats who protected the innocent, risking their lives, is also meant to convey Turkey’s appreciation of the historic friendship between the Turkish people and Jews from Israel and around the world.”

The two stamps were issued to recognize the courageous acts of those who resisted, and to show that the human capacity to confront evil can withstand the most difficult of conditions.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #173 on: January 03, 2009, 11:03:54 PM »

 smiley smiley smiley
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #174 on: January 09, 2010, 10:08:42 AM »

In Egypt, seven Coptic Christians were murdered yesterday by a Muslim gunman as they filed out of a midnight mass in the southern town of Nag Hamadi. In Pakistan, more than 100 Christian homes were ransacked by a Muslim mob last July in the village of Bahmaniwala. In Iraq that same month, seven Christian churches were bombed in Baghdad and Mosul in the space of three days.

Such atrocities—and there are scores of other examples—are grim reminders that when it comes to persecution, few groups have suffered as grievously as Christians in Muslim lands. Fewer still have suffered with such little attention paid. Now a new report from the non-profit ministry, Open Doors USA, shines a light on the scale of oppression.

In its annual World Watch List, Open Doors ranks eight Muslim countries among the 10 worst persecutors of Christians. The other two, North Korea (which tops the list) and Laos, are communist states. Of the 50 countries on the list, 35 are majority Muslim.

Take Iran, which this year ranks as the world's second-worst persecutor of Christians. Open Doors reports that in 2009 the Islamic Republic arrested 85 Christians, many of whom were also mistreated in prison. In 2008, some 50 Christians were arrested and one Christian couple was beaten to death by security officials. At least part of the reason for the mistreatment appears to be the result of Muslim conversions to Christianity: Apostasy carries a mandatory death sentence in Iran.

In Saudi Arabia (No. 3), all non-Muslim public worship is forbidden. The state forbids the building of any type of non-Muslim house of worship, and Christian expatriates in the kingdom must practice their faith in private. The same goes in the Maldives, where the report notes that all citizens must be Muslim; "the handful of indigenous Christians are forced to believe in complete secrecy." Similarly in Mauritania, conversion to Christianity or any other religions is formally punishable by death.

Little wonder, then, that once-thriving Christian communities in the Muslim world have now largely voted with their feet by fleeing to safer havens, often in Europe or the United States. That's true even in religiously important communities such as Bethlehem, where the Christian majority has largely fled since the arrival in the 1990s of Yasser Arafat's repressive government and the ascendancy of Islamist groups such as Hamas. By contrast, Christians practice their religion freely and openly in Israel, just a few miles distant.

It might seem natural that at least some attention would be paid in the West to the plight of these Christians. Instead, attention seems endlessly focused on "Islamophobia," not least at the U.N.'s misnamed Human Rights Council. In November, much of Europe went berserk over the Swiss referendum to ban the construction of minarets (though not of mosques). But the West's tolerance for its large Muslim populations stands in sharp contrast to the Muslim world's bigotry and persecution of its own religious minorities. That's a fact that ought to be borne in mind the next time Westerners berate themselves about their own supposed "intolerance."
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michael
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« Reply #175 on: January 09, 2010, 11:51:34 AM »

It is amazing how little press this is getting. Reverse the roles and have Muslims suffer at the hands of Christians and that is all the talking heads of the MSM would broadcast.
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