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Author Topic: Islam, theocratic politics, & political freedom  (Read 82246 times)
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« on: October 14, 2006, 11:12:32 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 ( 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,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

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.

« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 11:56:30 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2006, 05:32:25 AM »

Jihad Then and Now
Reviewed by Lee Harris

For anyone wishing to understand jihad ? that ?peculiar institution? of Islam ? Andrew Bostom has provided an immense service with The Legacy of Jihad. Beginning with a splendid 80-page survey and overview of the history of that subject by Bostom himself, followed by an extensive anthology of writings on the topic of jihad and some of its accompanying features, this book, the product of exhaustive scholarly research, is written with a profound sense of urgency. Bostom, a professor of medicine at Brown who became a passionately committed scholar of Islam after 9/11, wants his readers to grapple themselves with the historical evidence and to come to their own conclusions about the significance of jihad. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that for him there are few challenges facing the liberal West today greater than that posed by radical Islam?s revival of the classical ideal of jihad. In his acknowledgments, Bostom expresses the touching wish that his own children and their children may ?thrive in a world where the devastating institution of jihad has been acknowledged, renounced, dismantled, and relegated forever to the dustbin of history by Muslims themselves.? Yet, after reading and pondering this invaluable book, it is difficult not to ask, Why should Muslims renounce and dismantle an institution that, while it may have been devastating to those who have been its victims, has nevertheless been the historical agent by which Islamic culture has come to dominate such a vast expanse of our planet? What would prompt any culture to abandon a tradition that has permitted it not only to expand immensely from its original home, but also to make permanent conquests of so many hearts and minds?

But before we address this question, let us first note the curious difficulty Bostom faced in simply getting his contemporaries to recognize that Islamic jihad is a peculiar institution ? an institution quite unlike any other known to us. In our current climate of political correctness, there has been a reluctance even to acknowledge the most obvious facts about the nature of jihad. Indeed, just as there are Holocaust deniers, there is a contemporary tendency to deny the historical evidence relating to jihad, though, as Bostom?s book amply demonstrates, there is scarcely a lack of such evidence from any number of different sources, from every period, from the original wave of Arabic conquest in the seventh century to today?s headlines. Generally speaking, the approach of the jihaddeniers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, is to dispute the notion that there is anything historically distinctive and peculiar about the Islamic concept of jihad.

Read the rest here:

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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2006, 06:39:06 AM »

Arab Intellectuals and Terror 
By Khalid al-Maaly | October 17, 2006

During the 1980s, a friend of mine ? a left-wing, secular-minded Syrian writer living in Paris at that time ? surprised me by his open admiration for the newly organised Hizbullah. At first I thought his admiration was merely a passing fancy. But when Iraq occupied Kuwait in 1990, he and I finally collided. He could not disguise his delight at the "annexation" of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein's troops, which made me regard his secular, leftist views as a joke. Yet his career led him ever deeper into the arena of the struggle for human rights. With European financial support, he issued a periodic newsletter on human rights, which for years had not a word to say about Saddam's crimes, nor about women's rights. Meanwhile his relations with Arab Islamist groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, deepened steadily.

His joy over the 9/11 attacks, as well as his admiration for Osama bin Laden and his "blow at the heart of America," fit the rest of his political development only too well. He constantly sought justifications for Islamist acts of violence, as if he were acting under the ancient Arab tribal principle that, no matter what internal differences we might have, we must stand together as one man against an aggressor.

My contact with that old friend has since been severed. Nowadays he regularly appears as a guest on the satellite TV channel al-Jazeera, where he comments, in his usual, warm and self-righteous tone, on issues of human rights and on Syrian politics in general.

Unfortunately, this brief biographical sketch might all too easily be extended to a large proportion of Arab intellectuals. Many of them are characterised by a carefully masked double standard. In their home countries they present themselves as guardians of traditional Arab values, but when writing in other languages for foreign audiences they express very different, more cosmopolitan views.

The Arab intellectual behaves like a despotic father. No internal family matter may be exposed to the outside world; regardless of what the reality may be, a fa?ade of unbroken unity must be maintained. This is especially evident with respect to such matters as relations with Israel, the scandal over the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the attacks of 9/11, the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, or the recent war in Lebanon. In private talks with such people, one hears opinions that are radically different from what they publish in the newspapers the next day. It is as if the views propounded in the Arab media are not based on independent thinking, but formulated as opportunistic statements for public consumption.

Gamal al-Ghitani, the Egyptian novelist who is also editor-in-chief of the weekly literary journal Akhbar al-Adab, is notably restrained when commenting about such crimes against humanity as have been (and continue to be) committed in Rwanda, Darfour and Iraq. But when the affair of the Danish cartoons was at its height in February of this year, he sounded like some preacher at a mosque and called for a boycott of Danish products. When the Danes finally proffered an apology, he interpreted it as being motivated by fear for sales of Danish cheese rather than as an acknowledgement of respect for Islam.

Or take the famous poet Adonis: In the West he is seen as a Syrian exile who sharply criticises Islamism and the state of the Arab world. But his statements and his silences in recent decades present a completely different picture. Upon the death of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970, the Arab masses went into profound mourning ? and Adonis lamented his passing with a poem. This prominent exile has had nothing to say about the victims of the Syrian regime over the past four decades. But he published another old-fashioned panegyric to the victory of the Iranian Revolution in 1978, in which he wrote: "I shall sing for Qom, that it may transform itself in my ecstasy / Into a raging conflagration which surrounds the Gulf / The people of Iran write to the West: / Your visage, O West, is crumbling / Your face, O West, has died."

The Lebanese poet and journalist Abbas Beydoun is a cultural correspondent for the Lebanese daily as-Safir. He is also a frequent guest commentator for a number of German newspapers. Interestingly enough, those of his articles which appear in German differ markedly from his pieces in Arabic. In Der Tagespiegel of July 26, 2006 and in Die Zeit of July 27, for example, he criticised Hizbullah's solo attack and confrontation with Israel, going so far as to describe it as a military putsch. He also emphasised that the majority of Lebanese want peaceful development in their country. But in the edition of as-Safir dated July 28, we find him writing, in cliche-ridden rhetoric, about Hizbullah's great deeds, which, he stated, had generated respect even among the party's sceptics and critics: "Regardless of the former Arab position, Hizbullah has erased a guilt, and corrected the world's memory, in order to compensate for Arab frustration and expunge a sense of shame."

Many Arab writers and publishers regard themselves as secular, enlightened and critical ? in other words, as intellectuals who stand up for freedom of speech and, of course, for human rights. Two months after the 9/11 attacks, during an Arab book fair, a rumour suddenly made the rounds that an aircraft had crashed into a high-rise building in Italy. Many people immediately thought this was a repeat of the previous attacks on America. Numerous publishers and editors shouted Allahu akbar (God is great) and welcomed the presumed act, which turned out never to have happened at all. Some of these intellectuals are welcome guests at conferences on Euro-Arab dialogue. But I wonder about the value of such events, when some participants lack all credibility and the emphasis is on mere politeness and flattery.

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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2006, 09:32:40 AM »

Symposium: Convert or Die
By Jamie Glazov | October 20, 2006

Last month, American al-Qaeda operative Adam Gadahn issued a ?convert-to-Islam-or-die message to U.S. President George W. Bush, Daniel Pipes, Michael Scheuer, Steve Emerson and Robert Spencer. This attempt at forced conversion to Islam followed the ?conversion? at gunpoint of the two kidnapped Fox News reporters Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.

What exactly was the significance of these events?

On the one hand, these attempts at forced conversion were in clear continuity with Islam?s long history of calling people to convert before waging war on them. But how exactly does this tradition and practise in Islam square with the Qur?an?s verse ?There is no compulsion in religion? (2:256)? If Gadahn and the kidnappers of the Fox reporters consider themselves Muslims, what was their rationale for their actions in this context? Also: if forced conversion is anti-Islamic, where were, and are, all the Muslims furiously protesting Gadahn?s threats and the treatment of Centanni and Wiig?

To discuss these issues with us today, we are joined by:

Mustafa Akyol, a Muslim journalist and author from Istanbul, Turkey. He has written extensively in the Turkish and international press, including many American publications, about Islam and the current Muslim world. His writings are available at
David Aikman, a former senior correspondent and foreign correspondent with Time Magazine, an author (see for his books), and currently writer in residence and associate professor of history (History of Islam, Ages of Revolution) at Patrick Henry College in Purcelville, VA. He recently wrote a column for the Houses of Worship section of the Wall Street Journal on religious conversion in the US and overseas.

Robert Spencer, Director of Jihad Watch who, last month, was offered by Al-Qaeda the same 'invitation to Islam' that Centanni and Wiig received: convert or face the consequences.


Andrew Bostom, M.D., M.S. (Providence, RI), an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Renal Diseases of Rhode Island Hospital. He has published articles and commentary on Islam in the Washington Times, National Review, Revue Politique, FrontPage, The American Thinker, Investor?s Business Daily, and other print and online publications. He is the author of The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims.

FP: Mustafa Akyol, David Aikman, Robert Spencer and Andrew Bostom, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Mustafa Akyol, let me begin with you. What do you make of the forced conversions of the two Fox journalists and with the Gadahn calls for the conversions of the people he named?

As a Muslim, how do you regard these events?

Akyol: First, greetings to all participants and readers of this symposium. And thanks for having me.

This is an important topic and, as a Muslim, my position is clear: I am absolutely against the concept of forced conversion, which I believe is in opposition to the basic principles of the Qur'an. The verse you mentioned -- ?There is no compulsion in religion? (2:256) -- is very clear and there are also other ones, such as, "It is the truth from your Lord; so let whoever wishes have faith and whoever wishes be unbeliever." (18:29) There is nothing in the Qur'an which would justify a forced conversion to Islam. Indeed a purely Qur'anic Muslim view should cherish full religious freedom.

However, the post-Qur'anic Islamic literature is not so friendly to religious freedom. The hadiths and the jurists' opinions based on them added a lot of extra rules and regulations due to the political needs of the early Islamic empire. The ban on apostasy was such a post-Qur'anic rule that I think we Muslims should abandon right away. People should have the right to leave Islam and choose other religions if they decide to do so.

However, forced conversion is something that goes even beyond the mainstream post-Qur'anic orthodoxy, whether it is Sunni or Shiite. Although pagan Arabs weren't tolerated and were forced to convert, the Sunni orthodoxy accepted that Christians and Jews (and later, Hindus and Buddhists) had the right to keep their faith by accepting the dhimmi ("protected") status.

Therefore I think the Palestinian militants who forced those two kidnapped Fox News reporters Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig did something terribly wrong. From a purely Qur'anic point of view, that's totally unacceptable. Even from a Sunni Orthodoxy view, that's very hard to justify. It is also stupid: How can you think that you can make someone a sincere Muslim by pointing a gun at him?

Or maybe it was not that stupid. Those militants might have been seeking not a genuine conversion, but a political show. They might have wished to give the message that they are powerful and they can force Westerners to accept what they want, and even transform their identity. In other words, their focus seems not to direct people to what we Muslims believe to be a path to God, but to recruit them into their tribe. This tribal mentality lies beneath much of the assaults against religious freedom in the Muslim world, but it is not what the Qur'an commends.

The al-Qaeda call to American writers like Mr. Spencer seems to be a political show of the same sort. It is in fact a good thing to invite people to Islam from my point of view, but hearing a call to Islam directed to Americans by al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization which has killed thousands of innocent Americans up to now, is like a joke. If they were serious about it, what they should have done was to establish an Islamic cultural center in the Twin Towers -- not to blow them up.

FP: Robert Spencer?

Spencer: While I applaud Mustafa Akyol?s endeavor to construct an Islam free from ?hadiths and the jurists' opinions,? unfortunately those traditions and rulings are normative for the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide. Since many of these ahadith are attributed to Muhammad himself and are found in hadith collections generally considered reliable by Muslims (such as Bukhari?s), it is extremely difficult to convince orthodox Sunni and Shi?ite Muslims to dismiss them. For them, the ban on apostasy from Islam is not just a ?post-Qur'anic rule,? but a supreme evil, as it was regarded, according to many ahadith, by Muhammad himself.

When he was master of Medina, some livestock herders came to the city and accepted Islam. But they disliked Medina?s climate, so Muhammad gave them some camels and a shepherd; once away from Medina, the herders killed the shepherd, released the camels and renounced Islam. Muhammad had them pursued. When they were caught, he ordered that their hands and feet be amputated (in accord with Qur?an 5:33, which directs that those who cause ?corruption in the land? be punished by the amputation of their hands and feet on opposite sides) and their eyes put out with heated iron bars, and that they be left in the desert to die. Their pleas for water, he ordered, must be refused (Bukhari 8.82.794-797; 9.83.37).

The traditions are clear that one of the main reasons that the punishment was so severe was because these men had been Muslims but had ?turned renegade.? Muhammad legislated for his community that no Muslim could be put to death except for murder, unlawful sexual intercourse, and apostasy (Bukhari 9.83.17). He said flatly: ?Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him? (Bukhari 9.84.57). These words are obviously taken with utmost seriousness around the Islamic world, as we saw in Afghanistan during the Abdul Rahman case ? which was by no means an isolated incident. Some Muslim authorities even argue that, aside from the Hadith, the Qur?an itself mandates death for apostates when it says: ?if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them? (4:89).

As for forced conversion, it is likewise unfortunately unclear among Muslims that what happened to Centanni and Wiig was, in Akyol?s optimistic words, ?from a purely Qur'anic point of view?totally unacceptable? and ?from a Sunni Orthodoxy view?very hard to justify.? Islamic law forbids forced conversion, but in Islamic history this law has all too often been honored in the breach. More significantly, Islamic law regarding the presentation of Islam to non-Muslims manifests a quite different understanding of what constitutes freedom from coercion and freedom of conscience from that which prevails among non-Muslims. Muhammad instructed his followers to call people to Islam before waging war against them ? the warfare would follow from their refusal to accept Islam or to enter the Islamic social order as inferiors, required to pay a special tax:

Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war?When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them?.If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya [the tax on non-Muslims specified in Qur?an 9:29]. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah?s help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim 4294)

There is therefore an inescapable threat in this ?invitation? to accept Islam. Would one who converted to Islam under the threat of war be considered to have converted under duress? By non-Muslim standards, yes, but not according to the view of this Islamic tradition. From the standpoint of the traditional schools of Islamic jurisprudence such a conversion would have resulted from ?no compulsion.?

Muhammad reinforced these instructions on many occasions during his prophetic career. Late in his career, he wrote to Heraclius, the Eastern Roman Emperor in Constantinople:

Now then, I invite you to Islam (i.e., surrender to Allah), embrace Islam and you will be safe; embrace Islam and Allah will bestow on you a double reward. But if you reject this invitation of Islam, you shall be responsible for misguiding the peasants (i.e., your nation). (Bukhari, 4.52.191).

Heraclius did not accept Islam, and soon the Byzantines would know well that the warriors of jihad indeed granted no safety to those who rejected their ?invitation.?

Muhammad did not limit his veiled threat only to rulers. Another hadith records that on one occasion he emerged from a mosque and told his men, ?Let us go to the Jews.? Upon arriving at a nearby Arabian Jewish community, Muhammad told them: ?If you embrace Islam, you will be safe. You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to expel you from this land. So, if anyone amongst you owns some property, he is permitted to sell it, otherwise you should know that the Earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle? (Bukhari, 4.53.392). In other words, if you accept Islam, you may keep your land and property, but if not, Muhammad and the Muslims would confiscate it.

Would someone who converted in the face of such a threat be considered to have been forced by Islamic jurists? No ? and therein lies the reason why the conversions of Centanni and Wiig could be presented by their captors as uncoerced, in the teeth of the evidence.

This, too, has a foundation in the Qur?an. Sura 9:29 says: ?Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [that is, Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [a special tax levied only on non-Muslims] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.? This verse does not force conversion, but it did in Islamic history become the foundation of an elaborate legal system, the dhimma (to which Akyol refers). This system ensured that non-Muslims would ?feel themselves subdued? by mandating a series of humiliating and discriminatory regulations that institutionalized second-class status for non-Muslims in Islamic societies. As the schools of Islamic jurisprudence developed, they constructed upon various ahadith and passages of the Qur?an a legal structure for the treatment of non-Muslims.

The features of this remained remarkably consistent across the centuries, and among all the legal schools. Consider the contemporary Saudi Sheikh Marzouq Salem Al-Ghamdi, who several years ago explained in a sermon the terms in which an Islamic society should tolerate the presence of non-Muslims in its midst:

If the infidels live among the Muslims, in accordance with the conditions set out by the Prophet ? there is nothing wrong with it provided they pay Jizya to the Islamic treasury. Other conditions are . . . that they do not renovate a church or a monastery, do not rebuild ones that were destroyed, that they feed for three days any Muslim who passes by their homes . . . that they rise when a Muslim wishes to sit, that they do not imitate Muslims in dress and speech, nor ride horses, nor own swords, nor arm themselves with any kind of weapon; that they do not sell wine, do not show the cross, do not ring church bells, do not raise their voices during prayer, that they shave their hair in front so as to make them easily identifiable, do not incite anyone against the Muslims, and do not strike a Muslim?.If they violate these conditions, they have no protection.

In this the Sheikh is merely repeating the classic terms of Islamic jurisprudence for the treatment of non-Muslims in Islamic societies ? and he explicitly links these terms to Muhammad?s example. The second-class status for Christians and Jews, mandated by Qur?an 9:29?s stipulation that they ?feel themselves subdued,? was first fully articulated by Muhammad?s lieutenant Umar during his caliphate (634 to 644), in terms strikingly similar to those used by Sheikh Marzouq. The Christians making this pact with Umar pledged:

We made a condition on ourselves that we will neither erect in our areas a monastery, church, or a sanctuary for a monk, nor restore any place of worship that needs restoration nor use any of them for the purpose of enmity against Muslims?.We will not . . . prevent any of our fellows from embracing Islam, if they choose to do so. We will respect Muslims, move from the places we sit in if they choose to sit in them. We will not imitate their clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames and title names, or ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders, collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons?. We will not encrypt our stamps in Arabic, or sell liquor. We will have the front of our hair cut, wear our customary clothes wherever we are, wear belts around our waist, refrain from erecting crosses on the outside of our churches and demonstrating them and our books in public in Muslim fairways and markets. We will not sound the bells in our churches, except discreetly, or raise our voices while reciting our holy books inside our churches in the presence of Muslims. . . .

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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2006, 09:35:07 AM »

After these and other rules are fully laid out, the agreement concludes: ?These are the conditions that we set against ourselves and followers of our religion in return for safety and protection. If we break any of these promises that we set for your benefit against ourselves, then our Dhimmah (promise of protection) is broken and you are allowed to do with us what you are allowed of people of defiance and rebellion.?[ii]

All this does not add up to forced conversion, but many times in Islamic history it has made living as a non-Muslim so burdensome and onerous that conversion to Islam became the only path to a better life. Coerced? Perhaps not. But the line between coercion and free choice is in this case exceedingly fine.

FP: David Aikman?

Aikman: I applaud Mustafa Akyol's denunciation of the forced conversion of Fox newsmen Centanni and Wiig, but I fear that Mr. Akyol's humane disgust with conversion at the end of a gun-barrel is largely because he has benefited from having grown up in modernTurkey, which, since its founding in the 20 th. century by Attaturk, has been blessed by a secular state and not an Islamic one. If Mr. Akyol were resident in many other Muslim countries around the world, he would at best be repudiated for the un-shariah approach to the issue he expressed in this forum, at worst threatened with physical harm or death.

Mr. Robert Spencer, a specialist on Islamic attitudes in history towards people of non-Islamic faith, has put the case expertly and eloquently that the overwhelming weight of the Islamic tradition in practice has been to subject conquered non-Muslims to unconscionable humiliations in the way they are permitted to practice their faiths, humiliations that amount to coercion to convert to Islam. I certainly have nothing to add to his historical arguments. I think they are very persuasive.

What I do wish to address is what this new, threatening component in the discourse of Islamic militants means for the whole of the human race. It amounts to a war for a totalitarian control not just of its adversaries all over the world, but of the world as a whole. It aspires to coerce the entire world into conversion to Islam or into the humiliating acceptance of "dhimmi" status. In effect, Al Qaeda and all who support it are waging a war not just on the West, not just on the remains of a Christendom almost fatally weakened by political correctness and notions of moral equivalence, but on global civilization itself. Terrorist strikes and plots by advocates of global jihad have been committed or plotted in a variety of countries that makes little sense from the perspective of their various political positions. From England to Indonesia, from Canada to India, from the US to Spain, there have been terrorist plots and outrages, even though in regard to policies towards the Middle East, many of these states have been at odds with each other. But that has not protected them from the jihadist scourge. The reason is that their governments have all shared the view that in the modern world civilized life requires the free movement of commerce and people, of communications and ideas. All of these nations, indeed, except Indonesia, have been signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations in 1948. Even Indonesia, however, is not an officially Islamic state. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration states that "everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, or religion." By extension that has been accepted by signatory states as implying also the freedom of their citizens to change religious belief without penalty or punishment.

In our modern world even those countries still ruled by one-party political systems such as China or Cuba had paid lip-service to the view that freedom of conscience and religious belief is inviolable. China itself has flatly repudiated that period of its recent history when, during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, a nation-wide attempt was made to suppress all manifestations of religious faith. Though China is not fully free by most criteria of political democracy, it is no longer a totalitarian society and has already moved far away from totalitarian state control of all areas of private life. Other countries have problems of pressure on ordinary citizens by adherents of one religion or another not to change religion (India and Sri Lanka, among others) but the overwhelming direction of global civilization is away from religious coercion, not towards it.

It is only in the Islamic world that there is broad sympathy for a point of view that the individual conscience is not a sacred thing at all and does not even belong to the individual, but to the Muslim-controlled community in which the individual is located. This is at odds with the entire direction in which, by overwhelming broad consensus, human civilization as a whole is moving. In effect, Islamic coercion of personal religious conscience is not an example of the "clash of civilizations," but of a war waged by desperate fanatics upon civilization itself. I will leave it to scholars of the early years of Islam to debate whether this war upon the human conscience was the intention of early Islam or not. But that it is the goal of Al Qaeda and practitioners of Islamofascism around the world, there can be no doubt. Mr. Gadahn, the Californian voice of Al Qaeda, may issue his sneering threats to President Bush, or Dr. Daniel Pipes, or to my forum colleague Mr. Robert Spencer and others. But I predict that, when this new totalitarian challenge to global civilization has been overcome, Mr. Gadahn's blustering will be recalled as a historical footnote, like the blusterings after the defeat of Japan during World War 2 of "Tokyo Rose".

Bostom: Mustafa Akyol maintains?citing Koran 2:256? that forced conversion ?is in opposition to the basic principles of the Qur'an?There is nothing in the Qur'an which would justify a forced conversion to Islam?. The latter assertion is patently false, and the former is dubious at best, as I will demonstrate. I also object to Mr. Akyol?s invocation of peaceful da?wa (setting up Islamic centers for proselytization) given that there is no reciprocal free marketplace of religious ideas anywhere in the Islamic world, including Turkey. The sad reality is that circa 2006 Islamic proselytization is entirely unidirectional, apparently by design, as Christian missionary activity, for example, is opposed without exception, and often brutally, throughout the Islamic world. But let me make clear?at this critical juncture in history?I cherish Akyol?s unequivocal personal condemnation of forced conversion, despite finding his theological arguments wanting.

Robert Spencer has focused on the hadith and sira, laying out elegantly the coercive elements intrinsic to those foundational Muslim texts which were incorporated permanently into Islamic Law, the Sharia. His illustration of the so-called Pact of Umar, and its modern invocation by Saudi Sheikh Marzouq Salem Al-Ghamdi, provides additional edification. David Aikman highlights a critical and disturbing contemporary phenomenon, noting ??there is broad sympathy for a point of view that the individual conscience is not a sacred thing at all and does not even belong to the individual, but to the Muslim-controlled community in which the individual is located.?. I will expand upon this point in my own reference to the Cairo Declaration of 1990, the so-called Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam.

Although Mustafa Akyol acknowledges the forced conversion of pagans in Arabia, he ignores its Koranic source(s), in particular the timeless war proclamation (the Koran being the ?uncreated word of Allah? for Muslims) on generic pagans (not simply Arabian pagans), Koran 9:5, which offers pagans the stark ?choice? of conversion or death: ?Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.? . Thus for the idolatrous Hindus (and the same applies to enormous populations of pagans/animists wherever Muslim jihadist armies encountered them in history, including, sadly, contemporary Sudan) for example, enslaved in vast numbers during the waves of jihad conquests that ravaged the Indian subcontinent for well over a half millennium (beginning at the outset of the 8th century C.E.), the guiding principles of Islamic law regarding their fate ?derived from Koran 9:5?were unequivocally coercive. Jihad slavery also contributed substantively to the growth of the Muslim population in India. K.S. Lal elucidates both of these points:

The Hindus who naturally resisted Muslim occupation were considered to be rebels. Besides they were idolaters (mushrik) and could not be accorded the status of Kafirs, of the People of the Book - Christians and Jews? Muslim scriptures and treatises advocated jihad against idolaters for whom the law advocated only Islam or death? The fact was that the Muslim regime was giving [them] a choice between Islam and death only. Those who were killed in battle were dead and gone; but their dependents were made slaves. They ceased to be Hindus; they were made Musalmans in course of time if not immediately after captivity?slave taking in India was the most flourishing and successful [Muslim] missionary activity?Every Sultan, as [a] champion of Islam, considered it a political necessity to plant or raise [the] Muslim population all over India for the Islamization of the country and countering native resistance.

The late Rudi Paret was a seminal 20th century scholar of the Koran, and its exegesis. Paret?s considered analysis of Koran 2:256, puts this verse in the overall context of Koranic injunctions regarding pagans, specifically, and further concludes that 2:256 is a statement of resignation, not a prohibition on forced conversion.

After the community which the Prophet had established had extended its power over the whole of Arabia, the pagan Arabs were forcefully compelled to accept Islam stated more accurately, they had to choose either to accept Islam or death in battle against the superior power of the Muslims (cf. surahs 8:12; 47:4). This regulation was later sanctioned in Islamic law. All this stands in open contradiction to the alleged meaning of the Quranic statement, noted above: la ikraha fi d-dini. The idolaters (mushrikun) were clearly compelled to accept Islam - unless they preferred to let themselves be killed. [Note-Koran 9:5];

In view of these circumstances it makes sense to consider another meaning. Perhaps originally the statement la ikraha fi d-dini did not mean that in matters of religion one ought not to use compulsion against another but that one could not use compulsion against another (through the simple proclamation of religious truth).

Lest one think such coercion applies only to ?pagans?, Princeton scholar Patricia Crone makes the cogent argument that coercion may apply during any act of jihad resulting in captivity (i.e., jihad as the institution for extension of Islamic suzerainty, including, for our example, the jihad kidnapping of the two Fox reporters). Dr. Crone, in her recent analysis of the origins and development of Islamic political thought, makes an important nexus between the mass captivity and enslavement of non-Muslims during jihad campaigns, and the prominent role of coercion in these major modalities of Islamization. Following a successful jihad, she notes:

Male captives might be killed or enslaved, whatever their religious affiliation. People of the Book were not protected by Islamic law until they had accepted dhimma. Captives might also be given the choice between Islam and death, or they might pronounce the confession of faith of their own accord to avoid execution: jurists ruled that their change of status was to be accepted even though they had only converted out of fear.

An unapologetic view of Islamic history reveals that forced conversions to Islam are not exceptional?they have been the norm, across three continents?Asia, Africa, and Europe?for over 13 centuries. Orders for conversion were decreed under all the early Islamic dynasties?Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, and Mamluks. Additional extensive examples of forced conversion were recorded during the jihad campaigns and rule of the Berber Almoravids and Almohads in North Africa and Spain (11th through 13th centuries), under both Seljuk and Ottoman Turkish rule (the latter until its collapse in the 20th century), the Shi?ite Safavid and Qajar dynasties of Persia/Iran, and during the jihad ravages on the Indian subcontinent, beginning with the early 11th century campaigns of Mahmud of Ghazni, and recurring under the Delhi Sultanate, and Moghul dynasty until the collapse of Muslim suzerainty in the 18th century following the British conquest of India.

Moreover, during jihad?even the jihad campaigns of the 20th century [i.e., the jihad genocide of the Armenians during World War I, the Moplah jihad in Southern India [1921], the jihad against the Assyrians of Iraq [early 1930s], the jihads against the Chinese of Indonesia and the Christian Ibo of southern Nigeria in the 1960s, and the jihad against the Christians and Animists of the southern Sudan from 1983 to 2001], the dubious concept (see Paret, above) of ?no compulsion? (Koran 2:256; which was cited with tragic irony during the Fox reporters ?confessional?!), has always been meaningless. A consistent practice was to enslave populations taken from outside the boundaries of the ?Dar al Islam?, where Islamic rule (and Law) prevailed. Inevitably fresh non-Muslim slaves, including children (for example, the infamous devshirme system in Ottoman Turkey, which spanned three centuries and enslaved 500,000 to one million Balkan Christian adolescent males, forcibly converting them to Islam), were Islamized within a generation, their ethnic and linguistic origins erased. Two enduring and important mechanisms for this conversion were concubinage and the slave militias?practices still evident in the contemporary jihad waged by the Arab Muslim Khartoum government against the southern Sudanese Christians and Animists. And Julia Duin reported in early 2002 that murderous jihad terror campaigns?including, prominently, forced conversions to Islam?continued to be waged against the Christians of Indonesia?s Moluccan Islands.

My concern, despite Mr. Akyol?s noble personal views, is that the Muslim ulema know what Paret and Crone have explained is true: there was nothing ?Un-Islamic? about the forced conversions of Centanni and Wiig. This is how, in the main, Islam spread in the first place: conquest, forced conversion, concubinage, and enslavement, with the slaves ultimately converting to Islam (their only route to manumission)?followed by the conversion of dhimmis, to escape their own grinding oppression, or during paroxysms of violent persecution of the dhimmis, which also included bouts of forced conversion.

Thus, there has been utter silence on the Centanni-Wiig forced conversions from Muslim clerical and religio-political elites?Sunni and Shi?ite?across the Muslim world. No denunciations, and no formal fatwas have been issued invalidating the forced conversions, or making clear in advance that any Muslim who attacks Centanni and Wiig for not behaving as Muslims ?post-conversion?, i.e., for ?apostasy?, will be condemned and prosecuted, with full religious sanction. Contrast this silence from those clerical elites who were so quick to denounce factitious Koran flushings, banal Danish cartoons of Muhammad, and just this past week, Pope Benedict?s honest, reasoned critique of the living, genocidal institution of jihad war. I ask Mustafa Akyol why has the same Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate head Ali Bardakoglu, who within hours issued a hair-trigger denunciation of Pope Benedict?s September 12, 2006 Remengsburg lecture, remained mum for weeks now on the forced conversions of Centanni and Wiig, and likely will never publicly denounce their conversions?

The forced conversions of Centanni and Wiig illustrate clearly the basic rejection of freedom of conscience in the Islamic world which derives from Islam?s core texts?Koran, hadith, and sira?is enshrined in Islamic Law, and been applied incessantly throughout the entire history of Islam, into the contemporary era. The pervasiveness of this rejection, even at present, was alluded to by David Aikman, and is perhaps best demonstrated by the Cairo Declaration of 1990. Referring to the Cairo Declaration, the Shari?a-based ?Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (UDHRI)?, which subordinates the UN?s own Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Sharia Law, Muslim Senegalese jurist Adama Dieng (while serving as secretary-general to the International Commission of Jurists) declared in 1992 that, the UDHRI,

...gravely threatens the inter-cultural consensus on which the international human rights instruments are based; introduces, in the name of the defense of human rights, an intolerable discrimination against both non-Muslims and women; reveals a deliberately restrictive character in regard to certain fundamental rights and freedoms..; [and] confirms the legitimacy of practices, such as corporal punishment, that attack the integrity and dignity of the human being.

ALL (now 57)member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)?including Turkey?have signed on to this Sharia-based document. And now even the Cairo Declaration appears to have been deemed inadequate to fulfill the global Shari?a-based needs of the 57 OIC states who are considering the establishment of their own international ?world court? in order to ??try and condemn all those nations and individuals who have instigated or committed crimes against the Muslims.?

Ultimately, the forced conversions of Centanni and Wiig represent an ominous continuum (clearly accentuated in our era if only by contrast with Western ideals) of Islam?s denial of, and assault upon, basic freedom of conscience.

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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2006, 09:36:38 AM »

Akyol: Thanks for the feedback from Mr. Spencer, Mr. Aikman and Mr. Bostom. Let me respond.

First, Mr. Spencer's comment about the attacks against Muslims who "turned renegade" is true, but it also points to an important fact: In the early Muslim state, apostasy became regarded as a crime because it was seen as a rebellion against the state. In other words, the real consideration was political and, by time, this turned into a religious rule as well. This is, of course, a deviation we Muslims should rid ourselves today.

Don't take my word for this, if you will, take a look at what Dr. David Forte, professor of law at Cleveland State University, says on the origin the ban on apostasy in Islam:

?Three institutions have deflected the trajectory of Mohammed's original message: the law, the empire, and the tribe. Let us take apostasy as an example. The Quran condemns the apostate to damnation but imposes no earthly penalty. The death penalty arose later, in the law. It was the traditions of the Prophet, known as the Sunna, developed and codified later during a drive for the Islamicization of the early Islamic empire, that required putting the apostate to death...

The primary justification for the execution of the apostate is that in the early days of Islam, apostasy and treason were in fact synonymous. War was perennial in Arabia. It never stopped. To reject the leader of another tribe, to give up on a coalition, was in effect to go to war against him. There was no such thing as neutrality. There were truces, but there was never a permanent neutrality. It is reported, for example, that immediately after the death of Mohammed, many tribes apostatized. They said in effect, "The leader whom we were following is gone, so let's go back to our own leaders." And they rebelled against Muslim rule. The first caliph, Abu Bakr, ordered such rebels to be killed.

Many scholars argue that the tradition that all apostates had to be killed had its origin during these wars of rebellion and not during Mohammed's time. In fact, many argue that these traditions in which Mohammed affirmed the killing of apostates were apocryphal, made up later to justify what the empire had been doing.?

We Muslims should get rid of those politically needed but religiously irrelevant rules that still persist in the religious texts of Islam. We should also see that the Koran took the conditions of the 7th century Arabia as a given and established just norms according to those conditions. The dhimma was one of them. Based on the Koran (Sura 9:29), and the needs of the Islamic state, Muslim jurist developed the whole idea of what Bat Yeor calls "dhimmitude." She and others criticize this pretty harshly but they should see that the dhimma was just and humane according to the political realities of the seventh century. In Christian Europe, religious minorities were not tolerated at all. In Islamic lands, they were tolerated as second-class citizens.

Europe, and the West, of course progressed since then and embraced the principle of equal citizenship. But this is not alien to the Islamic world, too: The dhimma was abolished by the Islamic Ottoman Empire in 1859. (This is long before Mustafa Kemal Atat?rk was even born.) Ottomans gave equal citizenship rights to all the Jews and Christians on their land. This was debated and found some support among the "ulema", Islamic scholars of the time. There were many Jewish and Christian parliamentarians in the Ottoman Parliament, which was established by the constitution of 1876, and the Muslim ulema had no problem with that.

Therefore, I don't think that dhimma is a legitimate institution today. Nor is slavery, which is also mentioned in the Koran. But I don't think that because I am a radical secularist, but because I am a Muslim who recognizes the impact of historical conditions in the formation of his religion. And my "humane disgust with conversion at the end of a gun-barrel" does not come from the fact I have been living in a secular state ? it is, unfortunately, not truly secular by the way; it is dominant on religious practice ? but because I stick to the core principles of Islam. Those principles have been against forced conversion all along. Just one example: When the Ottoman Sultan Yavuz Selim thought of converting the Christians in his empire to Islam, the Sheik-ul Islam (the top ulema that looked over state policies) objected and showed the Koranic verse, "there is no compulsion in religion." The Sultan listened to him. There are of course bad episodes in Islamic history, too, but the general opinion was that forced conversion is unaccepted.

Mr. Bostom has written, "there is no reciprocal free marketplace of religious ideas anywhere in the Islamic world, including Turkey." That's unfortunately true but, if we speak about Turkey, there is an interesting fact worth noting. As I have explained, the lack of religious freedom in Turkey is due to the intolerant nationalism of the secular establishment. Turkey's Muslims themselves have been the victims of the same secular authoritarianism.

Mr. Bostom also quotes the Koranic verse, "slay the idolaters wherever ye find them." Yet he fails to note that this verse addresses a specific group of pagans, who had made a peace treaty with Muslims and then broke that treaty by attacking them. The whole Sura 9 ? the only sura in the Koran which does not start with the phrase, "In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful" ? is about the war conditions on those pagans who broke the treaty and attacked Muslims in the first place.

Later on, when Islamic jurisprudence developed, these war verses were taken to be the norm and other verses, such as, "Fight in the Way of Allah against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits" (2:190), which suggest that only defensive wars are allowed, were abandoned by the doctrine of abrogation, which many contemporary Muslims, including myself, reject.

As for the overall assessment of the Koranic chapters on war, I agree with the comment by Dr. Michael Cook, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. He says:

"In the Koran, it?s hard to figure out whether the text refers to defensive or offensive warfare. There are certain passages the medieval scholars always cite, saying they show jihad should be offensive. But if you look at the passages carefully, it?s not that obvious. On the basis of the Koran alone you could mount a decent argument for saying offensive jihad is never a duty. In Islamic law, it?s different. From things the prophet said or is said to have said, Islamic law develops the doctrine that it is a duty..."

Thus, on the basis of the Koran, I argue that Islam should bring no "compulsion in religion" and jihad should only be a defensive doctrine; protect yourself if you are attacked. Throughout history not all Muslims have thought acted according to these principles, but this had and still has many different motives behind it. Most "jihad"s in history were actually expansionism for political and economic gains. Yet sometimes people tend to label the most profane acts of violence by nominal Muslims as jihad. I remember, for example, that Mr. Bostom had portrayed the sacking of Thessaloniki in 904 by Muslim pirates as a "jihad campaign," in his long rebuttal against me published again on FPM and which I have responded to.

Spencer: Mustafa Akyol is correct that ?in the early Muslim state, apostasy became regarded as a crime because it was seen as a rebellion against the state.? However, when he asserts that ?the real consideration was political and, by time, this turned into a religious rule as well,? he seems to be assuming a distinction between the political and religious spheres that never existed in the Islamic world until it was introduced from the West in relatively modern times. This distinction is still strenuously rejected by most Islamic authorities. Because Sharia, including its political and societal aspects, is considered to be the very law of God, all too many Islamic scholars share the view of Tunisian theorist Mohamed Elhachmi Hamdi: ?Islam should be the main frame of reference for the constitution and laws of predominantly Muslim countries.? [iii]

Thus Muslims may be unmoved by Akyol?s argument that the death penalty for apostasy be rejected because it was originally instituted on political, not religious grounds. I share his hope that in the future this may provide peaceful Muslims a pathway to rejecting the death penalty for apostasy, but a great deal of work would first have to be done to secure widespread acceptance among Muslims of a Western-style distinction between the sacred and secular spheres ? a distinction that, under pressure from jihadists, is in fact in retreat everywhere in the Islamic world today.

Unfortunately, even Dr. Forte?s assertion that ?the Quran condemns the apostate to damnation but imposes no earthly penalty? is not assured. As I pointed out above, some Muslim authorities even argue that, aside from the Hadith, the Qur?an itself mandates death for apostates (4:89). Thus I hope that Muslim reformers like Mr. Akyol will succeed in constructing a firm rejection of Qur?anic literalism on this and every other point where jihadists point to the text of the Qur?an to justify violence and the subjugation of infidels. It is true that ?the dhimma was abolished by the Islamic Ottoman Empire in 1859,? but this was accomplished mainly due to Western pressure, and cultural hangovers of the dhimma continue to plague non-Muslims throughout the Islamic world. Hence I hope that Western awareness of and pressure against the denial of equality of rights for non-Muslims in Muslim countries continues to increase, and again applaud Mr. Akyol for his rejection of such measures. May his influence continue to grow in the Islamic world.

Aikman: I, too, applaud Mr. Akyol's humane interpretation of how Islam should be lived out and how it should co-exist with other faiths. Would that his assertion of this right of religious freedom of conscience, his denunciation of dhimma conditions of non-Muslim faiths, his repudiation of slavery, became the norm throughout the Islamic world. Would that there were 100,000 Mustafa Akyols busily active in reforming Islam, from Bradford, England to Bali, Indonesia.

But there aren't. We are, in fact, left with two dismaying aspects of the global situation in which Muslims on four or five continents are striving either to oppress non-Muslims, or to attain a political situation where they can do so.

The first is that, all of us know fine, upstanding, and honorable Muslim individuals who would no more think of blowing up a bus full of children than we ourselves would. The overwhelming reality, however, is that moderate Muslims like Mr. Akyol seem perpetually drowned out by Islamic mobs all over the world who fasten upon every criticism of their faith in every format ? cartoons, to novels, to academic speeches -- from every prominent person as license to go on a violent rampage.

Even when they are not rampaging, Muslim protesters can be counted upon to impose their often ugly religious sentiments on practitioners of other faiths whose leading adherents may have said or written things critical of Islam. There was something close to the manner of Hitler's Brownshirts in the Islamic protesters who barracked with shouted slogans and offensive placards ("May Allah Curse the Pope") innocent church-going Roman Catholics in London outside Westminster Cathedral because of their anger at the words of Pope Benedict XVI.

If Catholic Protesters in Washington similarly harassed Muslims about to enter the Islamic Center with slogans and placards, would there not be a howl of protest throughout the Islamic world? (And not just howls of protest: probably massive property destruction and bodily injury as well). Where are the millions of moderate Muslims anywhere in the world rising up against these new Brownshirts, demanding an apology for the forced conversion of Centanni and Wiig, joining the chorus for an end to the killings in Darfur, Sudan? Where, in short, is the authentic humane center of the Islamic world?

It doesn't appear to exist, or if it does, its voice has not been audible and its protests not visible. Of course there are wonderful Turks, Pakistanis, Malaysians ? who knows? ? perhaps even Muslim Britons who genuinely desire a global discourse among religions where reason and mutual tolerance prevail. But they seem to be either too busy or too disorganized to make their presence heard. Of course, it may also simply be that they are all simply scared. Muslims who criticize in public fellow-religionists of extremist viewpoint face the ever-present danger of becoming the targets of death-threats.

The second dismaying aspect of the whole issue of Islamic coercion of non-Muslim faiths, of dhimmitude, is that the concept of "humane" doesn't seem to exist today within the closed circle of Islam. "Compassionate" exists. "Merciful" exists. These are two descriptions attributed to Allah in the Koran. But the very concept of "humanity" grew out of a Christianized worldview in which communities, governments, and individuals were thought to have an obligation to be compassionate and merciful as well. Of course, "humanity" quickly became a concept that could stand on its own, without any reference to a religious point of view. Indeed, one may say that "humanity" has risen to an ideal of human conduct that has transcended most secular ideologies. A Cuban Communist and a Texas Republican probably both would agree on what constituted "humanity" when they saw it.

Does the concept of "humanity" have any traction at all today within fervent Islamic communities. Can one imagine Ahmadinejad or Ayman al-Zawahiri using the term?

Probably not. And therein, it seems to me, lies one of the greatest challenges to the possibility that Muslim communities can recognize basic human rights like freedom of conscience and the freedom ? Heaven forfend ? to be an apostate.

Bostom: The notion that the multiple timeless war proclamations in sura (chapter) 9 of the Koran?once again the ?uncreated word of Allah? for Muslims?are somehow circumscribed, or even more fanciful, specific to certain ?pagans?, or ?Jews?, or ?Christians?, is mere apologetic propaganda disproved by the evolution of the jihad as a uniquely Islamic institution in both theory and resultant ugly (but faithfully adherent) historical practice. The classical (and authoritative modern) Koranic commentaries on sura 9 (and other jihad verses in the Koran), and the germane hadith?both requisite to interpreting these verses?in conjunction with the earliest Muslim biographies of Muhammad, clarified these aggressive warlike motifs which the greatest luminaries of Islamic Law formulated (in countless volumes of dry juridical texts) into the living Muslim institution of jihad war. And for more than a millennium pious Muslim historians celebrated the actual conduct of these brutal jihad campaigns?replete with their sanctioned MPE
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2006, 07:01:39 AM »


General Comments about Shame
Shame is often an underappreciated psychological state. Particularly in the modern world, but also throughout history, shame-- in limited quantities and small doses--has facilitated civilized conduct and made both individuals and cultures behave more appropriately. But healthy shame, on the other hand, keeps us in touch with reality, and reminds us of our limitations, faults, and humanity. When experiencing healthy shame an individual may not be very happy to have embarrassing weaknesses and defects made obvious, but this awareness is insightful and humbling. As long as an individual is capable of self-doubt and self-reflection about his behavior; he is able to remain open-minded and willing to search for a better understanding of himself and others.

Excessive or inappropriate shame is another thing altogether, communicating forcibly to the individual that he or she is worthless. Shame can be an exceedingly devastating and painful experience

Children who live with constant hostility and criticism learn to defend against the bad feelings and shame within; and to externalize blame onto others. Projection and paranoia, which are both external assignments of blame, are psychological defenses against shame.

Often this excessive shame is dealt with by humiliating someone perceived as weaker or more worthless than the shamed person (e.g., the family pet, women, Gays, or outside groups serve this function for both individuals and cultures).

Guilt is an emotion that rises after a transgression of one's own or cultural values. Guilt is about actions or behavior; while shame is about the self. There is an important psychological difference in saying to someone that their behavior is bad; as contrasted with saying that they are bad. The former leads to guilt; the latter to shame.

The purpose of guilt is to stop behavior that violates a self, family or societal standard. Guilt keeps score on excesses or deficits of behavior deemed undesirable and is expressed in regret and remorse.

Eventually for the shame-avoidant person, reality itself must be distorted in order to further protect the self from poor self-esteem. Blaming other individuals or groups for one's own behavior becomes second nature, and this transfer of blame to someone else is an indicator of internal shame.

Most psychological theorists (Erikson, Freud, Kohut) see shame as a more ?primitive? emotion (since it impacts one?s basic sense of self) compared to guilt, which is developed later in the maturation of the self. Without the development of guilt there is no development of a real social conscience.

Guilt Cultures vs. Shame Cultures

In thinking about how the concepts of guilt and shame apply in a culture, it is helpful to refer to a seminal work that was originally published by Benedict in 1946, where she discussed the collectivist culture of Japan during WWII and distinguished it from American culture. Japan had a ?shame culture?, while the U.S. and most of the West subscribe to a ?guilt culture?. Each type of culture has its own set of rules with regard to wrong-doing and they are determined by the beliefs of the individual and other people regarding guilt, and summarized in the two matrix tables below:

In both cultures there is no problem if both parties believe that the individual is NOT GUILTY. If both parties believe that the individual is GUILTY, again there is agreement and in that case the guilt is punished.

The difference in the two societies lies in the other two boxes in the matrix (in red).

In a guilt culture, when an individual believes he is NOT GUILTY, he will defend his innocence aggressively despite the fact that others believe he is guilty. In this case, the individual self is strong and able to maintain an independent judgement even if every other person is convinced of his guilt. The self is able to stand alone and fight for truth, secure in the knowledge that the individual is innocent.

The guilt culture is typically and primarily concerned with truth, justice, and the preservation of individual rights. As we noted earlier, the emotion of guilt is what keeps a person from behavior that goes against his/her own code of conduct as well as the culture?s. Excessive guilt can, of course, also be pathological. I am solely referring to a psychologically healthy appreciation of guilt.

In contrast, a typical shame culture (e.g., Japan as discussed by Benedict; or the present focus of this discussion: Arab/Islamic culture) what other people believe has a far more powerful impact on behavior than even what the individual believes. As noted by Gutman in his writings, the desire to preserve honor and avoid shame to the exclusion of all else is one of the primary foundations of the culture. This desire has the side-effect of giving the individual carte blanche to engage in wrong-doing as long as no-one knows about it, or knows he is involved.

Additionally, it may be impossible for an individual to even admit to himself that he is guilty (even when he is) particularly when everyone else considers him to be guilty because of the shame involved. As long as others remain convinced he is innocent, the individuals does not experience either guilt or shame. A great deal of effort therefore goes into making sure that others are convinced of your innocence (even if you are guilty).

In general, it has been noted that the shame culture works best within a collectivist society, although it can exist in pockets even within a predominant guilt culture.

Let us now turn to Arab/Islamic culture.

This piece by David Gutmann is one of the best psychological analyses of shame and the Arab psyche I have read, and because it deals with something so critically important, I am going to quote a rather large excerpt:

The Arab world is suffering a crisis of humiliation. Their armies are routed not only by Americans, but also by tiny, Jewish Israel; and as Arthur Koestler once remarked, the Arab world has not, in the last 500 years or so, produced much besides rugs, dirty postcards, elaborations on the belly-dance esthetic (and, of course, some innovative terrorist practices). They have no science to speak of, no art, hardly any industry save oil, very little literature, and portentous music which consists largely of lugubrious songs celebrating the slaughter of Jews.

Now that the Arabs have acquired national consciousness, and they compare their societies to other nations, these deficiencies become painfully evident, particularly to the upper-class Arab kids who attend foreign universities. There they learn about the accomplishments of Christians, Jews, (Freud, Einstein, for starters) and women. And yet, with the exception of Edward Said, there is scarcely a contemporary Arab name in the bunch. No wonder, then, that major recruitment to al-Qaeda's ranks takes place among Arab university students. And no wonder that suicide bombing becomes their tactic of choice: it is a last-ditch, desperate way of asserting at least one scrap of superiority?a spiritual superiority?over the materialistic, life-hugging, and ergo shameful West.

But this tactic is not, I suggest, a product of Islam. Rather, it is a product of the bruised Arab psyche. Remember that the Japanese also turned to suicide tactics in WWII to evade the humiliation of defeat. Though their religion was Shinto rather than Muslim, they too constituted a paradigm shame/honor culture, and defeat brought about, as with the Arabs, a furiously suicidal/homicidal response. After their armies had been defeated, their fleets sunk, their cities set aflame, and their home islands invaded, they launched the kamikaze bomber offensive, thereby committing a hi-tech form of hara-kiri, their usual remedy against intolerable shame. It is in this way that the modern Arab world resembles the Japan of World War II. In both cases it is not religions but psychic wounds, the wounds inflicted by defeat and evident inferiority, that inspire suicide bombers.

It is often asserted that the changes set in train by modernization are particularly toxic to the Arabs. No doubt this is true. But if we are going to be therapeutic, our diagnoses need to be more specific; we need to identify the particular pathogens that are released by modernization. Besides sharpening their sense of inferiority relative to the West, modernization threatens to bring about the liberation of women (as in Afghanistan and Iraq). I say "threatens," because the self-esteem of Arab males is in large part predicated on the inferior position of their women. The Arab nations have for the most part lost their slaves and dhimmis, the subject peoples onto whose persons the stigmata of shame could be downloaded. But anyone who has spent time among them knows that Arab males have not lost their psychological need for social and sexual inferiors. In the absence of slaves and captive peoples, Arab women are elected for the special role of the inferior who, by definition, lacks honor. Arab men eradicate shame and bolster their shaky self-esteem by imposing the shameful qualities of the dhimmi, submission and passivity, upon women. Trailing a humbled woman behind them, Arab men can walk the walk of the true macho man.

Hence the relative lack of material achievement by Arabs: the Arab world has stunted the female half of its brain pool, while the men acquire instant self-esteem not by real accomplishment, but by the mere fact of being men, rather than women. No wonder, then, that the Arab nations feel irrationally threatened by the very existence of Israel. Like America, the Jews have brought the reality of the liberated woman into the very heart of the Middle East, into dar al-Islam itself. Big Satan and Little Satan: the champions of Muslim women.

I contend that female liberation is the most hopeful development in the Middle East, greater even than the first stirrings of democracy. I believe that Arab women have a greater stake in liberal democracy than Arab men, and as they acquire political power, they will fight for it. As for suicide bombings, jihadism and the macho posturing of Arab men, they are desperate remedies against further humiliation, against the perceived threat of ?castration,? by their own women. Until Arab women achieve freedom and independence, we can expect, at least for awhile, to see Arab men cling to these remedies.

Even then, some Arab men will probably backslide to even greater suicidal/homicidal tantrums. Others, (perhaps even a majority) no longer able to project their deficiencies onto Arab women, will begin to recognize the flaws in themselves. These converts would adopt the self-critical stance that is already showing up among some daring Arab intellectuals and even religious leaders. And when Arab men can no longer acquire instant self-esteem by demeaning their women, some of them might even turn to the arts of peace, and try to acquire the sense of self-worth via instrumental rather than illusory psychological means.

We cannot, in the end, correct all the distortions of the Arab shame/honor ethos. But by pledging our support for Arab women's liberation?for instance, by advocating expanded liberties for women in the text of the new Iraqi constitution?we can hasten its erosion.
Gutmann takes pains to separate the toxic aspects of the Arab psyche from Islam. This is the only part of his argument that I do not find compelling.

it seems to me that the Arab psyche has had centuries to be slowly absorbed by Islam and that in many cases, and in most important aspects, the two are now inseparable. We can see this in the fact that even in Indonesia, Thailand and non-Arab locales where Islam has been embraced it retains both Arab misogyny and intolerance.

Alternatively, it might be argued, that Islam takes root and grows best when it is in the toxic nutrients of Arab-shame/honor cultures.

It is also important to remember that Mohammad himself was Arab and most of the Koran is pretty consistent with what is known about his personality and style.

On the other hand, it is only in the fairly recent history of Islam (e.g. in the last century) that Islam appears to have fully embraced the subjugation of women under the guise of "protecting" them and preserving honor.

This earlier article by Gutmann also discusses shame in the Arab world:

In regard to military history, the Arab's preference for guerrilla over conventional war reflects a long tradition, one that began in antiquity, with the Bedouin raiders. Their way of war- brilliantly described by T.E. Lawrence in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom ? is based on hit and run forays by camel-mounted Bedouin who appear suddenly out of the desert, tear up an unsuspecting enemy camp, and then disappear back into the waste, carrying "honorable" loot: thoroughbred horses, camels and women.

The traditional Bedouin created a nearly pure "Shame" culture, whose goal was to avoid humiliation, and to acquire sharraf - honor. Thus, the goal of the Bedouin raid is not to finally win a war, for such inter-tribal conflict is part of the honorable way of life, and should never really end. The essential goals of the raid are to take wealth ? not only in goods, but also in honor - and to impose shame on the enemy. Any opponent worth fighting is by definition honorable, and pieces of his honor can be ripped from him in a successful raid, to be replaced by figments of the attacker's shame. The successful attacker has "exported" some personal shame to the enemy, and the enemy's lost honor has been added to the raider's store.

This calculus of shame and sharraf is an important element in all Arab warfare, whether waged by Saddam Hussein, Yasir Arafat, or a Bedouin sheik. In particular, that same dynamic drives the Arab preference for irregular over conventional war.

Irregular tactics - spiced with Terror ? have on occasion defeated regular armies; but win, lose, or draw in the military sense, terror tactics can be a far more efficient means of meeting psychological goals - i.e., shedding shame and capturing honor - than all-out war.

Let me be clear that I am not excusing the behavior of Islam and Arabs toward women, Jews, Christians, and other cultures. I am merely trying to understand those elusive "root causes" that everyone talks about.

As stated earlier in this essay, one of the ways that those who fear shame protect their fragile self is to subjugate those who he perceives as weaker. By doing so, he can rationalize that he is superior to the subjugated individual. In fact, this is the only way he can maximize his honor. In Arab/Islamic culture, women are one of the primary instruments of achieving honor. Hence the bizarre and distorted attitude that the culture has toward women and the exaggerated means by which "honor" must be maintained. So strong is the cultural pressure, even women buy into the delusion (as eloquently demonstrated by Dymphna in this post)

Honor killings of women are all too common in Arab culture, and importantly are not dissuaded by the tenets of Islam.

Other expressions of the shame culture that are obvious is the rampant psychological projection and refusal to accept responsibility for the atrocities committed in the name of Islam. Not only are we regularly subjected to imams, religious leaders, and leaders of Muslim states stating even now that 9/11 or the London bombings were not committed by Muslims; they also regularly blame the Jews for such acts. In this way they can avoid the shame that taking responsibility for evil.

Additionally, the emphasis by CAIR and other Muslim organizations in demanding that any statement that criticizes or even suggests blame or responsibility by Islam for terror, be retracted or apologized for, is also just a part of the shame-avoidant dance that leads the culture into the blurry realms of delusion.

Finally, it is not surprising that the most murderous thugs espousing religious ideals as they brutally cut off the heads of infidels are hidden behind masks and dare not reveal themselves to the world. I suspect that on some deep level they know that their "pride" in their sick behavior would be more difficult to boast about if they were not anonymous. "If no one knows it is me committing these acts, then I am not shamed," after all.

While psychological health and self-esteem depend to some extent on overcoming shame and progressing to a level where taking responsibility for one's actions and accepting that there is an objective truth out there that is not determined by other people's opinions; both shame and guilt can be important reality checks to an individual--or to a culture.

When a culture determines that the avoidance of shame is necessary no matter what the cost, the result is a culture of fanaticism, bizarre behavior in the name of "honor"; and simultaneously the cultural oppression, subjugation, and humiliation of women and others perceived as "weak" (and therefore "shameful"). It also inevitably results in the projection of one's own unacceptable behavior and shameful feelings onto another individual or an outside group.

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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2006, 07:31:05 AM »
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2006, 01:25:27 AM »

The Shi'ite-Sunni Divide and Escalating Violence

My friend Jeff Stein had a deeply disturbing op-ed piece in the New York Times a few days ago on the inability of senior law enforcement and intelligence officials, along with senior members of Congress-all dealing extensively with the Islamist terrorism issues-to tell Sunnis from Shi?ites.

Many could not say for certain if bin Laden and al Qaeda were Sunni, or whether Iran and Hezbollah were Shi?ite or which group the majority of Iraqis belong to.

He wasn?t even asking basic theological differences, rather, just for a basic understanding of who was where on the chess board. This is akin to fighting a war against Christianity and not knowing, several years into the conflict, whether the Pope is Catholic or Protestant.
Before 9-11, what little most of us knew of Islam led us to believe it was all one big ball of wax with few differences of any importance. Hence the Clinton administration was willing to aid the most radical (Sunni) Islamists fighting in Bosnia, not understanding yet what wahhabism was or the dangers it represented. There are countless other examples.

But, five years after 9-11, carried out by Sunni Islamists, and facing a possible nuclear threat for a Shi?ite Islamist state (Iran), while trying to rebuild a nation torn asunder by armed militias from both camps in Iraq, it would seem that such ignorance within the upper reaches of government is unforgiveable and perhaps the product of thinking that our enemy is 1) monolithic and 2) stupid.

This ignorance drastically reduces the ability to conceive of operations that could exploit the deep divisions and hatreds between the two groups and sects within each group. It also greatly reduces our chances of understanding the different enemies that exist with the possibility of developing a nuanced response geared not at ?Muslims,? but specific branches is radical Islamists that believe fundamentally different things, have different vulnerabilities and different points of access.

In the war in El Salvador in the 1980s, the United States never understood the differences within the FMLN, viewing it as a monolithic Marxist structure, rather than five organizations struggling with internal dissention on an ongoing basis. Senior U.S. officials acknowledged later they had no clear understanding of the differences within the guerrilla front and never seriously tried to exploit the schisms.

After the war senior FMLN commanders said that at least two of the factions, including one of the biggest, had sought overtures to the U.S. and would have been receptive to a separate peace, something that certainly would have shortened that war. But, despite fighting the FMLN for 10 years, it was never understood.

The same appears to be tragically true in the war against Islamists. There are books written on the differences between the two main groups of Islam and their different tendencies. It is impossible to understand Iraq without of why the different groups are killing each other, and factoring that into what the U.S. role could and should be. The same holds true for the entire region. History matters.

It would also greatly help to understand that the international Muslim Brotherhood is the one Islamic organization that can bridge the divide, and that ability is one of the great strengths and weaknesses of the organization. But we can?t tell even the main players at this point, when the game is already well underway and has been for years.

posted by Douglas Farah

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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2006, 12:17:41 PM »

I think the following piece from the highly respected British magazine ?The Economist? gets the big picture right.

May 29, 2005

'No god but God': The War Within Islam

THESE are rough times for Islam. It is not simply that frictions have intensified lately between Muslims and followers of other faiths. There is trouble, and perhaps even greater trouble, brewing inside the Abode of Peace itself, the notional Islamic ummah or nation that comprises a fifth of humanity.

News reports reveal glimpses of such trouble -- for instance, in the form of flaring strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in places like Iraq and Pakistan. Yet the greater tensions, while similarly rooted in the distant past, are less visible to the wider world. The rapid expansion of literacy among Muslims in the past half-century, and of access to new means of communication in the last decade, have created a tremendous momentum for change. Furious debates rage on the Internet, for example, about issues like the true meaning of jihad, or how to interpret and apply Islamic law, or how Muslim minorities should engage with the societies they live in.

What is unfolding, Reza Aslan argues in his wise and passionate book, ''No god but God,'' is nothing less than a struggle over who will ultimately define the sweeping ''Islamic Reformation'' that he believes is already well under way across much of the Muslim world. The West, he says, is ''merely a bystander -- an unwary yet complicit casualty of a rivalry that is raging in Islam over who will write the next chapter in its story.''

Amid the surge of Western interest in Islam since 9/11, other quiet voices have argued similarly that the historical process we are witnessing is less a clash of civilizations than a working out of suppressed internal conflicts. Aslan's contribution to this line of thought is threefold. He traces the dogmatic splits in Islam to their historical origins. He provides a speculative but well-reasoned look at how Muslim beliefs are likely to evolve. And he does all this beautifully, in a book that manages to be both an incisive, scholarly primer in Muslim history and an engaging personal exploration.

Aslan does not shy from controversy. Conservative Muslims will certainly challenge some of his bold assertions -- among them, that there is scant support in authentic Islamic tradition for the veiling of women; that laws are created by people, not God; and that, as he puts it, ''the notion that historical context should play no role in the interpretation of the Koran -- that what applied to Muhammad's community applies to all Muslim communities for all time -- is simply an untenable position in every sense.''

Yet even the most hidebound traditionalists would find it hard to refute the main thrust of his argument, which is that the original message of Islam, egalitarian, inclusive, progressive and liberating, has been twisted and diminished over time. Aslan is at his best in trying to explain and recapture what was initially inspiring about Islam and what remains powerful -- things that can be hard for outsiders to see these days because of what some do in the name of their faith.

By carefully drawing in the social and political setting from which Islam emerged, Aslan presents a persuasive case for viewing the religion as very much a product of its age. He notes the appearance in the region of Mecca, during the prophet's youth, of religious fashions like iconoclasm and the fusing of faiths into one embracing doctrine, ideas that were to become central to Muhammad's message. Not just outsiders but Muslims themselves need reminding that during Islam's first centuries, the Torah was often read alongside the Koran. Both Muslims and their detractors also often forget that the Koran calls specifically on Jews, Christians and Muslims to ''come to an agreement on the things we hold in common.''

Aslan's wish to emphasize the tolerant, merciful side of Islam can lead to pitfalls. It is not particularly comforting to learn that when the prophet triumphantly returned to Mecca, the city of his birth that had rejected him, there were no forced conversions and ''only'' six men and four women were put to the sword. The killing and enslavement of Jewish tribes at Medina receives a similarly light gloss, although Aslan may be right to point out that their ''Jewishness'' may have been rather vaguely defined.

Whatever the case, he is clearly correct in stating that the more damaging influences on the faith were yet to come. Over the 14 centuries that followed Muhammad's 22 years of revelation, Muslim kings and scholars distorted its tenets to serve their own narrow interests, and then cast these accretions in stone. Not only were the words of the Koran reinterpreted, but so were the hundreds of thousands of traditions and sayings collected by the prophet's contemporaries. As one example, Muhammad's comment that the ''feebleminded'' should not inherit was taken by some to mean that women should be excluded from inheritance, despite the clear Koranic injunction to grant women half the portion of male inheritors.

Immediately after Islam's glorious early years of expansion, a great intellectual clash pitted rigid literalists against more rationalist interpreters. That the rationalists essentially lost is a subject of lament for Muslim modernists, particularly Western-educated intellectuals like Aslan, an Iranian-American scholar of comparative religion. His arguments for reintroducing rationalism, for accepting the utility of secularization and for contextualizing the historical understanding of the faith all put him in distinguished company among contemporary Muslims.

The Syrian reformist Muhammad Shahrour, for instance, proposes an elegant solution to the question of how to apply the controversial corporal punishments specified by most understandings of Islamic law, or Shariah. Instead of taking what some see as God's rules literally, he suggests that things like hand-chopping should be viewed as the maximum possible penalty. Anything more severe would contravene Islam, but it would be up to a secular, elected legislature to determine what lesser level of severity to apply.

Sadly, the dominant voices in Islam are still those that see the faith not simply as a path of moral guidance but as a rigidly prescriptive and exclusive rule book. Ferment is certainly in the air. If the Osama bin Ladens of the world have achieved one thing, it is to force Muslims to confront some of their demons. Even archconservative Saudi Arabia is slowly evolving. In April, its top religious authority declared that forcing a woman to marry against her will was an imprisonable offense. A full-blown ''reformation'' in the heartlands of Islam, however, is still a long way off.

Max Rodenbeck is the Middle East correspondent for The Economist.

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« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2006, 12:06:41 PM »

Death to the Apostates
By Robert Spencer | October 24, 2006

An Afghan citizen named Abdul Rahman, you may recall, made international news last spring, when his conversion from Islam to Christianity led to his arrest, with the intention of putting him on trial for apostasy. At that time he was spirited away to safety in Italy. Now jihadists in Afghanistan are demanding his return to Afghanistan in exchange for a kidnapped Italian journalist, Gabriele Torsello. ?We want this issue resolved before the end of Ramadan,? his captors demanded, but no resolution seemed imminent as the holy month drew to a close.

It is safe to say that if Italian authorities agreed to turn over Abdul Rahman to the kidnappers, the convert would almost certainly be killed for his crime of apostasy from Islam. Yet at the time of Abdul Rahman?s arrest, puzzled Western analysts pointed to what they thought were guarantees of freedom of religion and of conscience in the new Afghan Constitution: after all, didn?t the document pledge ?respect? for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Didn?t it say, ?followers of other religions? were ?free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law??


Indeed it did, but what were the ?limits of the provisions of law?? The Constitution itself made the answer abundantly clear: ?In Afghanistan,? it stipulated, ?no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.? It mandated that the President swear an oath to ?obey and safeguard the provisions of the sacred religion of Islam,? and only secondarily ?to observe the Constitution and other laws of Afghanistan and supervise their implementation.? What?s more, it stated that ?the provisions of adherence to the fundamentals of the sacred religion of Islam and the regime of the Islamic Republic cannot be amended.?


Most non-Muslim observers missed the significance of these provisions, and especially the danger they posed to converts like Abdul Rahman and to the freedom of conscience in general. This is understandable, however, since so many Muslims in the West maintained that Islam contained no provision against apostasy. Typical of this was ?Leaving Islam is not a capital crime,? a Chicago Tribune article published by M. Cherif Bassiouni, a professor of Law at DePaul University and President of the International Human Rights Law Institute, when Abdul Rahman was arrested. ?A Muslim?s conversion to Christianity,? Bassiouni wrote, ?is not a crime punishable by death under Islamic law, contrary to the claims in the case of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan.? Several Muslim spokesmen have insisted the same thing to me in radio debates, excoriating me as ?Islamophobic? for pointing out that many Islamic texts do indeed call for apostates to be killed.


Yet the idea that the death penalty for apostasy has always been an element of the ?fundamentals of the sacred religion of Islam? is something that some Muslims have made no effort to deny or conceal. IslamOnline, a site manned by a team of Islam scholars headed by the internationally influential Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, explains, ?if a sane person who has reached puberty voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be punished. In such a case, it is obligatory for the caliph (or his representative) to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does, it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed.? And if someone doesn?t wait for a caliph to appear and takes matters into his own hands? Although the killer is to be ?disciplined? for ?arrogating the caliph?s prerogative and encroaching upon his rights,? there is ?no blood money for killing an apostate (or any expiation)? ? in other words, no significant punishment for the killer.


These laws are rooted in the words and deeds of Islam?s prophet, as I explain in my new book, The Truth About Muhammad. When he ?forced his entry? into Mecca, according to his ninth-century biographer Ibn Sa?d, ?the people embraced Islam willingly or unwillingly? (Ibn Sa?d, II.168). The Prophet of Islam ordered the Muslims to fight only those individuals or groups who resisted their advance into the city ? except for a list of people who were to be killed, even if they had sought sanctuary in the Ka?bah itself. One of those was Abdullah bin Sa?d, a former Muslim who at one time had been employed by Muhammad to write down the Qur?anic revelations; but he had subsequently apostatized and returned to the Quraysh. He was found and brought to Muhammad along with his brother, and pleaded with the Prophet of Islam for clemency: ?Accept the allegiance of Abdullah, Apostle of Allah!? Abdullah repeated this twice, but Muhammad remained impassive. After Abdullah repeated it a third time, Muhammad accepted.


As soon as Abdullah had left, Muhammad turned to the Muslims who were in the room and asked: ?Was not there a wise man among you who would stand up to him when he saw that I had withheld my hand from accepting his allegiance, and kill him??


The companions, aghast, responded: ?We did not know what you had in your heart, Apostle of Allah! Why did you not give us a signal with your eye??


?It is not advisable,? said the Prophet of Islam, ?for a Prophet to play deceptive tricks with the eyes.?


Apostasy from Islam had always been for Muhammad a supreme evil. When he was master of Medina, some livestock herders came to the city and accepted Islam. But they disliked Medina?s climate, so Muhammad gave them some camels and a shepherd; once away from Medina, the herders killed the shepherd, released the camels and renounced Islam. Muhammad had them pursued. When they were caught, he ordered that their hands and feet be amputated (in accord with Qur?an 5:33, which directs that those who cause ?corruption in the land? be punished by the amputation of their hands and feet on opposite sides) and their eyes put out with heated iron bars, and that they be left in the desert to die. Their pleas for water, he ordered, must be refused.


The traditions are clear that one of the main reasons that the punishment was so severe was because these men had been Muslims but had ?turned renegade.? Muhammad legislated for his community that no Muslim could be put to death except for murder, unlawful sexual intercourse, and apostasy. He said flatly: ?If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.?


It stains credulity, in light of all this, that Islamic apologists in the West assert that, in the words of one Ibrahim B. Syed, President of the Islamic Research Foundation International of Louisville, Kentucky, ?there is no historical record, which indicates that Muhammad (pbuh) or any of his companions ever sentenced anyone to death for apostasy.? This kind of assertion may be comforting to non-Muslims who would prefer to believe that the capital charges levied against Abdul Rahman were some sort of anomaly. Unfortunately, this claim simply does not accord with the facts of Muhammad?s life. That such assertions pass unchallenged only underscores the need for Westerners to become informed about the actual words and deeds of Muhammad ? which make the actions of Islamic states and jihad groups much more intelligible than do the words of Islamic apologists in the West.


The kidnappers? demand that Abdul Rahman be returned to Afghanistan illustrates the hollowness of the arguments we hear all the time ? about how we must support self-proclaimed moderate Muslims like Bassiouni by refraining from noting the flimsiness and weakness of their presentations. While we?re being polite to alleged ?reformers,? Muslim hardliners are cheerfully implementing the elements of Islamic law that bemused non-Muslims are nodding their heads and agreeing don?t exist.

It?s good that the Italian government shows no sign that it is considering returning Abdul Rahman to Afghanistan. It would be better if the United States government, on which the Afghan regime depends for its continued survival, called upon the Afghans to drop the Sharia provisions from the nation?s Constitution, and affirm in unequivocal terms freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. For the kidnappers? action has placed the Afghan government in a peculiar position. What can Afghan officials say? That they don?t want the kidnappers to get hold of Abdul Rahman, because they want to kill him themselves? The kidnappers? demand is an unpleasant reminder that United States has deposed one Shari'a regime in Afghanistan, that of the Taliban, only to replace it with another. The State Department should call upon the Afghans to seize on the occasion of this demand to call for a searching reevaluation of the role of Islam in Afghan public life. But this, of course, is even less likely to happen than Abdul Rahman?s return to Afghanistan. One certainty is that people will continue to suffer for freedom of conscience in Afghanistan ? under the indifferent eye of the U.S. military.
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« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2006, 07:56:18 AM »
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2006, 03:58:15 PM »

October 26, 2006
The Wolf Pack
What it means to live by Muhammad?s words and deeds.
by Bruce Thornton
Private Papers

A review of Robert Spencer?s The Truth about Muhammad, Founder of the World?s Most Intolerant Religion (Regnery Publishing, 2006)

Ambrose Bierce once quipped that war was God?s way of teaching Americans geography. He could have said ?teaching us history,? for the enemy is emboldened by our ignorance not just of where he lives but of how he lives, his beliefs and values, and to understand these traditions we must understand their history. Unfortunately, in the current war against Islamic jihad we persist in ignoring the documented history of Islam and its beliefs, accepting instead the spin and distortions of various propagandists, apologists, and Western useful idiots.

This imperative to know the enemy?s beliefs is particularly important for understanding the jihadists, for Islam is a fiercely traditional faith, one brooking no deviation from the revelation granted to Muhammad and codified in the Koran, Hadith, and the sira or biography of the Prophet. As Robert Spencer shows in his invaluable resource The Truth about Muhammad, in these sources Muhammad is presented as ?an excellent model of conduct,? as the Koran puts it, his words and deeds forming the pattern for all pious Muslims to follow. ?Muslims,? according to Muqtedar Khan of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, ?as a part of religious observance, not only obey, but also seek to emulate and imitate their Prophet in every aspect of life.? The facts of Muhammad?s life, then, are paramount for understanding the beliefs that warrant and validate jihadist terror.

Presenting those facts clearly and fairly is precisely what Spencer accomplishes in his new book. Spencer has been for years a bastion of plain-speaking truth. Through books like Islam Unveiled, Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades), and as director of Jihad Watch, Spencer has courageously presented the simple facts of Islamic history and thought that too many Americans, including some in the current administration, ignore or distort. Spencer?s new book continues this important service of arming us with the facts we need in order to understand an enemy who wants nothing from us other than our conversion, death, or subjection.

Basing his description of Muhammad on the same Islamic sources revered by believers themselves, Spencer paints a portrait of the Prophet unrecognizable to any who have been deceived by the idealizations of apologists like Farida Khanam, whom Spencer quotes as claiming that Muhammad?s ?heart was filled with intense love for all humankind irrespective of caste, creed or color,? or the British religious writer Karen Armstrong, who claims that ?Muhammad eventually abjured violence and pursued a daring, inspired policy of non-violence that was worthy of Ghandi.? Such fantastic delusions cannot stand up to the relentless quotations and facts Spencer gathers from Islamic sources, all of which show us a Mohammad justifying and practicing violence in the service of the faith he invented.

As Spencer traces Muhammad?s life, we see the behaviors practiced by today?s jihadists, who continually cite the Prophet as their justifying model. The arrogant intolerance of any other religion finds its source in Muhammad?s assertion to Muslims, ?Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.? The rationalization of violence by invoking the hostility of unbelievers is also warranted by Muhammad: because of the rejection of him by his tribesmen the Quraysh, Allah ?gave permission to His apostle to fight and to protect himself against those who wronged them [Muslims] and treated them badly.? Hence the various offenses fabricated by today?s jihadists to justify their aggression against the West. But Muhammad justifies not just defensive warfare but also violence in the service of the faith: ??Fight them [unbelievers] so that there be no more seduction,? i.e., until no believer is seduced from his religion. ?And the religion is God?s,? i.e. until God alone is worshiped.? We see here the jihadist?s hatred of the West and globalization, whose political freedoms and hedonistic prosperity ?seduce? believers from the faith.

As Spencer concludes, ?The Qur?an . . . commands much more than defensive warfare: Muslims must fight until ?the religion is God?s? ? that is, until Allah alone is worshipped. Later Islamic law, based on statements of Muhammad, would offer non-Muslims three options: conversion to Islam, subjugation as inferiors under Islamic law, or warfare.? So much for the protestations of tolerance and co-existence constantly peddled by jihad?s Western publicists.

Every aspect of Islamic practice and belief finds its basis in Muhammad?s words and deeds. When Muhammad?s lieutenant Abdullah attacked a Quraysh caravan during a month when fighting was prohibited, Muhammad?s initial displeasure was changed by a ?revelation? [i.e. from the angel Gabriel, who dictated the Koran to Mohammad] saying ?persecution [i.e. of Muslims] is worse than killing,? and Abdullah was forgiven. ?This was a momentous incident,? Spencer concludes, ?for it would set a pattern: good became identified with anything that redounded to the benefit of Muslims, and evil with anything that harmed them, without reference to any larger moral standard. Moral absolutes were swept aside in favor of the overarching principle of expediency.?

As Spencer progresses through the Prophet?s life, the evidence for Muhammad?s model as the source of modern jihadist practice becomes overwhelming. The penchant for beheading enemies displayed by jihadists is validated by Muhammad?s decapitation of his enemy Abu Jahl after the battle of Badr against the Quraysh. A ?revelation? after the battle codified this practice and linked it to the terrorizing of the enemy that would help Muslims prevail: ??I [Allah] will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.? This because they contended against Allah and His Messenger: If any contend against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment.? Given that ?contend against? can be defined as any activity that ?seduces? believers or stands in the way of Muslim interests, the divine justification for the violence and terror perpetrated by jihadists from Indonesia to Africa, Israel to England is obvious.

So too with the practice of making tactical treaties and truces only to break them later. ?If thou fearest treachery from any group, throw back (their covenant) to them, (so as to be) on equal terms: for Allah lovest not the treacherous,? a statement also revealing of the double-standard many Muslims take for granted when dealing with non-believers. Armed with this loophole, Muhammad moved against the Banu Qaynuqa, a Jewish tribe who had resisted Islam but with whom Muhammad had a truce. As Muhammad famously said, ?War is deceit.? This precedent of deceit is obviously pertinent today, particularly for Palestinian Arab dealings with Israel. We have seen agreement after agreement signed by Arafat and others, only to be violated when circumstances seem to favor force.

The mistreatment of women, polygamy, child-marriage, stoning of adulterers, cutting off the hands of thieves, mutilation of enemy corpses, the sentence of death for apostasy, the subjection of dhimmi or Christians and Jews, even the killing of writers who displease the faithful ? remember the sentence of death against Indian novelist Salman Rushdie, still in force ? all have their precedents in the things Muhammad said and did. And as Spencer documents in his conclusion, this invocation of Muhammad is continually made by the jihadist terrorists themselves, who accurately link their violence to incidents and sayings from the life of Muhammad. To pretend that these devout Muslims are ignorant of their own religion?s traditions or are ?hijacking? them is willful blindness.

Perhaps the most important precedent established by Muhammad, however, and one at the root of modern jihadist violence, is the demonization of Christians and Jews. Centuries before the existence of Israel, the actions and words of Muhammad legitimized the hatred of Jews. As Spencer shows, this disdain and resentment reflected the powerful barrier the Jews of western Arabia presented to Muhammad?s new faith and ambitions, not to mention the extent of Muhammad?s borrowings from Jewish scripture and traditions. But the continuing refusal of the Jews to accept that Muhammad was the ?seal of the prophets? eventually led to his war against these potent rivals, including the Qurayzah of Medina, 600-700 of whom were beheaded. This hatred was justified by calling the Jews along with the Christians ?renegades? who had turned against God and the true faith of their ancestors. Thus throughout the Koran one finds codified an intolerance and hatred of Jews still infecting the Islamic world today. The notion of apologists that Islam offers tolerant accommodation to Jews and Christians is belied by verses in the Koran such as, ?Oh ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors,? and most notoriously of the Jews, ?You brothers of monkeys, has God disgraced you and brought His vengeance upon you??

Given all this evidence, as Spencer writes, ?It is nothing short of staggering that the myth of Islamic tolerance could have gained such currency in the teeth of Muhammad?s open contempt and hatred for Jews and Christians, incitements of violence against them, and calls that they be converted or subjugated.? And this historical evidence is ratified by contemporary events that show modern Muslims following to the letter the example of Muhammad, from continuing persecution of Jews and Christians in Muslim lands, to the riots and calls for violence that attended (and validated) the Pope?s quotation of a Byzantine emperor?s observation that violence in the service of religion is Islam?s sole innovation.

Spencer concludes with some common-sense suggestions, most importantly demanding that so-called ?moderates? condemn jihad and teach against religious intolerance in their schools and mosques. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen, given the power of Muhammad?s example of enmity against unbelievers, and given the arrogant intolerance and unwillingness to compromise that typify too many Muslims. The anxiety about appearing ?racist? and the sentimental idealization of the ?other? dominating American society make it even more unlikely that any politician will challenge Muslims about the facts of Mohammad?s words and deeds that jihadists today use to justify their actions. Unless we heed people like Robert Spencer, it seems that only another graphic example of jihadist violence within our borders has a chance of teaching us the history of the enemy.

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« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2006, 04:56:02 PM »
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« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2006, 04:25:43 AM »

Zakat and Jihad from the Words of the Master

There is an extensive campaign by CAIR and other Islamist groups to portray jihad as a purely spiritual struggle a good Muslim wages to overcome personal evil. It is also a point made often by the ?moderates? of the Muslim Brotherhood. This has led to confusion in policy and a fear of offending if one calls jihad what it really is.

But as I have said repeatedly, just read what they say themselves to understand what the real agenda is. They tell us what they want to do, and yet we refuse to take them seriously by either understanding and knowing what they say, or acting to stop them.

A 1999 tome titled ?Fiqh az-Zakat: A Comparative Study,? by Yousef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood leaves no ambiguity as to the nature of jihad. While often portrayed as a moderate, Qaradawi is one of the modern architects of the Islamist project to re-establish the Muslim Caliphate and then bring Allah?s rule to the rest of the world.

In writing about the use of zakat, the 2.5 percent of every earning and transaction a Muslim is to give to the cause of Allah, Qaradawi writes: ?The most honorable form of jihad nowadays is fighting for the liberation of Muslim land from the domination of unbelievers, regardless of their religion or ideology. The communist and the capitalist, the Westerner and the Easterner, Christian, Jew, pagan or unbeliever, all are aggressors when they attack and occupy Muslim land. Fighting in defence of the home of Islam is obligatory until the enemy is driven away and Muslims are liberated.?

This is not a secret document, but a book that Qaradawi published, and he defines the occupied lands: ?Today Muslim land is occupied in Palestine, Kashmire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Chad, Somalia, Cyprus, Samarqand, Bukhara, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Albania and serveral other occupied countries. Declaring holy war to save these Muslim lands is an Islamic duty, and fighting for such purposes in those occupied territories is the Way of Allah for which zakat must be spent.?

That is pretty forthright. He offers this conclusion: ?The most important form of jihad today is serious, purposefully organized work to rebuild Islamic society and state and to implement the Islamic way of life in the political, cultural and economic domains. This is certainly most deserving of zakat. ?

It seems clear. The money being gathered-to the tune of billions of dollars a year-is to liberate Muslim lands and establish a Muslim state (the Caliphate). The fact that al-Qaradawi is a leader of the international Muslim Brotherhood offers a clue to why the Brotherhood has taken such pains to build up a financial infrastructure that spans the globe, an infrastructure the intelligence community knows almost nothing about, and has shown little interest in understanding.

To me it is akin to someone telling me: ?You live in a house my ancestors once lived in, and I am going to save my money buy a gun to come kill you and your family and retake my house. But I am also putting my money away so my entire family can then occupy your block, your town and your city.?

And then I show no interest in what money the person has, how he earns it and how I can stop him because I decide that, even though he has shown a capacity to carry out violent action, he is not to be taken seriously.

Ignorance is not an excuse, especially since we have had five years to learn.

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« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2006, 05:34:13 AM »

Islam - What the West Needs to Know
By Jamie Glazov | November 3, 2006

A new documentary Islam: What the West Needs to Know has recently been released.

An examination of Islam, violence, and the fate of the non-Muslim world, the documentary features numerous experts. Today we have invited three of them to discuss the new film. Our guests are:


Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist who has become an ardent Zionist and evangelical Christian. He is the author of Why I Left Jihad. The Root of Terrorism and the Return of Radical Islam.



Serge Trifkovic, a former BBC World Service broadcaster and US News & World Report correspondent, foreign affairs editor of Chronicles, and author of The Sword of the Prophet. The sequel, Defeating Jihad, was published by Regina Orthodox Press in April. Read his commentaries on





Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World?s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). His latest book is The Truth About Muhammad.



FP: Walid Shoebat, Serge Trifkovic and Robert Spencer, welcome to Frontpage Magazine.


Walid Shoebat, let?s begin with you. Tell us a bit about this new documentary and your contribution to it.


Shoebat: Ever since I left radical Islam, I have consistently run into westerners who are oblivious to the mind-set of radical Islamists, and being on both sides of the fence, I have felt like I am Captain Spock of Star Trek -- always having to explain to Captain Kirk how the aliens thought. Yet the first problem I encountered when speaking to westerners is that they always think that the Muslim world has the same aspirations as they do, seeking liberty, equality, modernization, democracy, and the good life.


Today, Islamism, a forgotten giant that ruled the ancient world and was finally wounded by the West, is now coming back to life - quickly. In many countries with a Muslim majority, secularism and socialism is out of style, and we have a new trend (actually very old) that is having a come-back, and is growing like wild-fire -- radical Islam.


This documentary I participated in links Islam?s history from it?s beginning until now showing the myths and facts. The documentary relies primarily on Islam?s own sources with the undeniable statements made by Muhammad, Islam?s founding father, and how his teachings still live in our modern time. While all this evidence is discussed, many statements by world leaders and politicians deny the undeniable - that Islam in its core teaching is not simply a "beautiful and peace loving religion", but a system of government as well to be forced on the rest of the world.


While the East already knows Islam since it lived with it from the beginning, the West is still oblivious not only to Islam?s history, but its growth in the West as well.


It?s a documentary that every westerner must see, especially since we still have our freedom to critique Islam, at least for now.


FP: Serge Trifkovic, how come I have a feeling this documentary won?t be part of the curriculum for too many university courses?


Trifkovic: I?d say that your feeling probably isn?t entirely intuitive. It is also based on ample empirical evidence that the elite class that controls the education, media, and entertainment all over the Western world does not want a serious debate about Islam?s tenets, historical record, and geopolitical designs. Worse still, since you ask about university courses, our educators don?t want to educate young people about Islam as it is ? for which purpose ?What the West Needs to Know? would be an excellent tool ? but to indoctrinate them into accepting the elite consensus.


That consensus, as we see in the opening clips of Blair, Bush and Clinton, rests upon the implacable dogma that there is something called ?real Islam? (peaceful, tolerant, and as American as apple pie), and then there is ?extremism? that is an aberrant and unrepresentative deviation of Muhammad?s faith. (Blair?s assurances that the 9-11 attackers were not ?Islamic terrorists? but ?terrorists plain and simple? would have been on par with FDR declaring, after Pearl Harbor, that the attackers were not ?Japanese airmen,? but ?airmen? plain and simple.)


Let me offer a striking example of this dogma, lengthy for the symposium format but useful as to what gets into college courses and school curricula. It is provided by Houghton Mifflin, publishers of a history textbook, Across the Centuries, that is compulsory for 7th grade students in California. It employed one Shabbir Mansuri, a man with terrorist connections and a founding director of the Council on Islamic Education in California, to help with the book?s chapter on Islam. The results, while predictable, defy belief.


The first verses of the Qur?an, the textbook teaches 12 and 13-year-old Americans, ?were revealed? to Muhammad in AD 610, and the initial revelation came from ?a being he later identified as the angel Gabriel.? Such quasi-factual statements would befit a textbook used in a Pakistani medressa, but not one used in an American public school. More egregiously, Across the Centuries states that ?some Jewish leaders would not accept Muhammad as God?s latest prophet,? and blithely glosses over the fact that Muhammad reacted to the Jews? refusal to accept his prophetic claims with a host of violently Judeophobic ?revelations? in the Kuran. Such injunctions from Allah paved the way for the ethnic cleansing and eventual extermination of all Jews under Muhammad?s domain. To omit his Endloesung from the history of early Islam is equal to the history of the rise of Nazism purged of the Kristallnacht and the Nuremberg Laws.


Another bold misrepresentation is contained on p. 64, dealing with ?an Islamic term that is often misunderstood,? jihad. The textbook provides only one ?true? definition: ?The term means ?to struggle,? to do one?s best to resist temptation and overcome evil.? It admits that ?nder certain conditions the struggle to overcome evil may require action,? but hastens to add that the Kuran and Sunna ?allow self-defense and participation in military conflict, but restrict it to the right to defend against aggression and persecution.? American teenagers are also taught that Muslim women enjoy ?clear rights? in marriage and the right to an education, that the Muslims were ?extremely tolerant of those they conquered,? that ?Christians and Jews had full religious freedom? under Islam, and a host of similar lies. The exercises in the textbook require them to wear an Islamic robe, adopt a Muslim name, memorize Kuranic verses, to pray ?in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful? and to chant, ?Praise to Allah, Lord of Creation.?


The upholders of the mindset that promotes and mandates such rubbish in our classrooms will naturally treat the truth about Islam as inadmissible, and that?s why ?What the West Needs to Know? will be ignored by them. They dominate the entertainment industry ? just look at Ridley Scott?s Kingdom of Heaven, which conveyed the message that, in a conflict between Christians and Muslims, the former attack, the latter react. The true hero of the movie is Saladin, a wise warrior-king sans peur et sans reproche; its villains, the coarse and bloodthirsty Europeans.


The manner in which the media routinely misrepresent Islam tends to be more insidious, especially when it is wrapped in the guise of scholarship. Take the 2002 PBS mini-series Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, financed mostly with our money, which offered an uncritical hagiography on par with the Soviet state television?s treatment of Lenin. Just as the comrades routinely glossed over some two million innocent victims of the 1917-1921 Bolshevik terror, the PBS glossed over the matter of slaughtered Jewish tribes, of the razzias, murders, rapes, of poll tax and dhimmitude. All Muslim battles were presented as defensive. Nine ?specialists? vied with each other to praise Muhammad in extravagant terms. The result bordered on the ridiculous: e.g. ?he deeply, deeply loved? his first wife Khadija, and each of his many subsequent marriages was ?an act of faith, not of lust? ? nine-year-old Aisha included for sure. Muhammad was presented as the liberator of women, and no mention was made of many Kuranic verses and Hadiths that allow, even sanctify rape, violence against wives, and discrimination.


On each and every score ?What the West Needs to Know? sets the record straight, and that?s why it is subversive and dangerous. I expect it will be formally banned in the European Union, and I and my four fellow-?stars? should think twice before boarding the next flight for Heathrow or Schiphol lest we end up in a slammer with the book thrown at us for saying things that must not be said. On balance that may well be a price worth paying to alert our naive, complacent or manipulated fellow Westerners that their house is on fire.


In The Firebugs, Swiss playwright Max Frisch thus tells the story of Gottlieb Biedermann, a prosperous, guilt-ridden businessman who responds to an epidemic of arson in his town by letting two shady characters who look like arsonists into his home, lodging them, feeding them, and finally providing them with the incendiary materials. Even when he and his initially uneasy wife realize who the visitors really are, they remain in denial about their intentions. Biedermann tries to buy security by displaying generosity, even when the writing is clearly on the wall. Far from being grateful, the arsonists despise him and smugly state that ?the best and safest method? for hoodwinking people ?is to tell them the plain unvarnished truth.?


?What the West Needs to Know? seeks to present that unvarnished truth soberly, even dryly, with no bells and whistles, no dramatic music and no special effects. It offers a breath of fresh air and an alternative to the non-debate on Islam that we?ve had for over five years.


Spencer: It all reminds me of Eugene Ionesco?s delightful play Rhinoceros. In it, human beings one by one become rhinoceri, and even those who initially vow to hold out eventually succumb, out of the pressure of conformism and the sheer weariness of holding out. The absurdist premise is not so absurd when one looks at the global situation today: the free world is under assault everywhere from the forces of jihad, working from the teachings of the Qur?an and Sunnah, and notably the words and deeds of Muhammad. Yet in America and the West, taking note of these rather obvious facts only brings one opprobrium, if the chattering classes deign to take notice at all: one is compelled in the mainstream of public discourse to deny the obvious. Everyone is busy tossing away common sense, reason, and basic powers of observation and becoming a rhinoceros, and vilifying those who decline to do so.


Although the facts presented in Islam: What the West Needs to Know are readily and easily verifiable, they are not to be spoken, not to be noticed, and anyone who dares do so will in effect be read out of polite society. In a sane West, interested in its own defense, such a documentary would not have been produced by a small and indeed quixotic independent production company ? Quixotic Media ? but would have been just one part of a larger effort by Hollywood itself to educate the public about what we are facing, and why our civilization is worth defending. It would not have seen limited, quasi-furtive distribution, but nationwide, front-burner attention.


Nevertheless, however anxiously the media and political mainstream wish to ignore the information in this film, and however successful they are in diverting people away from seeing it or even hearing about it, they will ultimately not be so successful in preventing jihad terrorists from continuing to act upon the teachings of Islam we explain in the film. And eventually it will become painfully clear to the politically correct authorities that no matter how much it discomfits them, what we have explained in Islam: What the West Needs to Know is simply the truth. The sooner it is recognized and policies constructed accordingly, the safer we will all be.


Shoebat: I share similar frustration as Spencer and Trifkovic. My last episode speaking at Colombia was not only frustrating, but some of the questions made by the student audience reveal a dangerous trend. In my speech, I critiqued not only Islam, but Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer who wrote ?The Jews and Their Lies." I also elevated Martin Luther King Jr. for fighting for Black rights, yet students criticized my speech as anti-Islam, racism and bigotry. Why is it that when I critiqued Martin Luther I was not accused of bigotry against Christianity?


When I was a terrorist the world labelled us as freedom fighters. When I was a ?freedom fighter?, I was free to say that ?Jews are shylocks, Israel is a racist state, Jews run the Congress and the media??. In those days, I hated Jews, but when the day came that I changed my mind and loved everyone, I was labelled as a racist.


Yet similar statements to the things we said when we were terrorists are made at our universities ? Richard Falk taught that Iran is a model for a humane government, Andres Steinberg ?Israel destroys Christian shrines?, Rashid Khalidi ?Israel is racist?, DeGenova ?Patriot Americans are white supremacist?, Hamid Dabashi ?Jews are vulgar?.


All these are so similar to what I learned as terrorist, yet these professors are not labelled as terror supporters, and I am being labelled as racist?


At another speech, one Rabbi critiqued the New Testament as ?riddled with violence,? I had no problem with his right to state this, yet when I confronted him I asked ?Why do you feel free to critique the New Testament, but afraid of critiquing Islam?s well documented violence?? to which he could not reply.


It didn?t matter that I stated in my speech that a Jew had the right to critique Christianity, a Christian had the right to critique Mormonism and Islam, and a Muslim had a right to critique the Bible and Christianity, I was still accused of racism and bigotry against Islam. One can say almost anything against any other religion but Islam. Why?


Our basic religious freedom is at stake. We might be going on the same road as I witnessed in England while doing interviews in the media. In one Christian TV show, the interviewer stated that he cannot critique Islam in fear of closure. Only the interviewee can do so. He feared a shut down of his Christian station.


The other dangerous trend is that all fundamentalists are being lumped as fanatics. At the BBC in England during one interview the interviewer stated to me that ?the problem with today?s world is fundamentalism? to which I responded ?Christian fundamentalists give the world a headache, I confess, but Muslim fundamentalists will whack your head right off your shoulders, sir? I was quickly thanked and escorted out of the BBC.


I concur with Trifkovic?s findings in regards to Across the Centuries school textbook. I remember the day I reviewed the same book my son brought from school, the next day I walked into the vice principle?s office when I threw the book on the desk asking ?do you know what is today?s date/?, to which he replied ?it?s September 11?. I replied him ?I reject teaching Islam as fact, while my son cannot learn Christianity. Islam is the religion of millions who condoned 9/11.?


Fortunately for my son, he said ?Sir, in this school we skip the whole subject, the book is enforced on us, but we do not comply.? Yet I doubt that the rest of the school system was as wise as this one.


I also concur with Trifkovic?s Kingdom of Heaven analysis. In one videotape I have by Sheikh Qaradawi, who spent six years in the Middle East as security adviser to the EU spreading his ?peaceful Islam?, was giving an example to Muslim students in America about Salahuddin (Saladin). While Saladin?s Arab advisor was asked by Saladin that the Crusaders want a peace treaty, in which his Arab advisor gave the example from Surah Al-Anfal:61 ?And if they concede to peace, so shall you concede, and place your trust in Allah?, yet Saladin argued ?I am a Kurd and you are an Arab, you should know the Quran better then I? in which Saladin quoted Surat Muhammad verse 35 ?And be not slack so as to cry for peace and you have the upper hand.?


Indeed, as Muhammad stated ?Al-Harbu Khid?a? in English ?War is deception?, yet, and while we try to fight the deception by Islamic terrorists from outside, we need to first fight the Islamic terror support that is coming from the inside.

This deception wants to change the next generation Americans. If they succeed, it?s all over -- they won.
Trifkovic: None of us should have any delusions about the prospects that "What the West Needs to Know," or any other single book, movie, or TV appearance, will alter the paradigm and change the terms of what is still a very one-sided debate about Islam. This film nevertheless represents a quantum leap from what we've had available in filmography so far, most notoriously that disgraceful PBS series on Muhammad.

I'd hope the producers will come up with a shorter version that can be marketed to some potentially friendly TV channels (they do exist), or perhaps a 3-part mini-series of 30 min. each, and for the mass market the material may need to be "jazzed up" a little with more documentary clips and a more lively delivery of the voice-over reading Kuranic verses and Hadith, all of which would broaden the film's potential appeal.

This would be well worth the Quijotic team's while, as the movie makes a solid contribution to the effort to define the Enemy in the nebulously named "War on Terror," and to grasp the nature of the threat. It brings us a little closer to the day when the West will discard the taboos and start analyzing Islam without fear, or guilt, or the shackles of mandated thinking. "If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles," says Sun Tzu. Those who see this film will be a step closer to knowing the enemy, his core beliefs, his role models, his track-record, his mindset, his modus operandi, and his intentions.

But the main problem remains with ourselves, with those among us who have the power to make policy and shape opinions, and who will wilfully ignore, or else reject and condemn "What the West Needs to Know," and all of its contributors, and all of their works. Let's face it: they are beyond redemption, and the time for euphemisms and diplomatic restraint is over. The elite class that continues to peddle the lie about the "Religion of Peace and Tolerance," is composed of either idiots or evil traitors (and in Tony Blair's case the two blend seamlessly). As I wrote in "Chronicles" a week ago, the crime of which Jihad's Shabbos-goyim in the West are guilty "far exceeds any transgression for which the founders of the United States overthrew the colonial government."


FP: Walid Shoebat, Serge Trifkovic and Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Magazine.

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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2006, 01:57:35 AM »

Michael Coren
National Post

Friday, November 03, 2006

Dr. Tawfik Hamid doesn't tell people where he lives. Not the street, not the city, not even the country. It's safer that way. It's only the letters of testimony from some of the highest intelligence officers in the Western world that enable him to move freely. This medical doctor, author and activist once was a member of Egypt's Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (Arabic for "the Islamic Group"), a banned terrorist organization. He was trained under Ayman al-Zawahiri, the bearded jihadi who appears in Bin Laden's videos, telling the world that Islamic violence will stop only once we all become Muslims.

He's a disarmingly gentle and courteous man. But he's determined to tell a complacent North America what he knows about fundamentalist Muslim imperialism.

"Yes, 'imperialism,' " he tells me. "The deliberate and determined expansion of militant Islam and its attempt to triumph not only in the Islamic world but in Europe and North America. Pure ideology. Muslim terrorists kill and slaughter not because of what they experience but because of what they believe."

Hamid drank in the message of Jihadism while at medical school in Cairo, and devoted himself to the cause. His group began meeting in a small room. Then a larger one. Then a Mosque reserved for followers of al-Zawahiri. By the time Hamid left the movement, its members were intimidating other students who were unsympathetic.

He is now 45 years old, and has had many years to reflect on why he was willing to die and kill for his religion. "The first thing you have to understand is that it has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with poverty or lack of education," he says. "I was from a middle-class family and my parents were not religious. Hardly anyone in the movement at university came from a background that was different from mine.

"I've heard this poverty nonsense time and time again from Western apologists for Islam, most of them not Muslim by the way. There are millions of passive supporters of terror who may be poor and needy but most of those who do the killing are wealthy, privileged, educated and free. If it were about poverty, ask yourself why it is middle-class Muslims -- and never poor Christians -- who become suicide bombers in Palestine."

His analysis is fascinating. Muslim fundamentalists believe, he insists, that Saudi Arabia's petroleum-based wealth is a divine gift, and that Saudi influence is sanctioned by Allah. Thus the extreme brand of Sunni Islam that spread from the Kingdom to the rest of the Islamic world is regarded not merely as one interpretation of the religion but the only genuine interpretation. The expansion of violent and regressive Islam, he continues, began in the late 1970s, and can be traced precisely to the growing financial clout of Saudi Arabia.

"We're not talking about a fringe cult here," he tells me. "Salafist [fundamentalist] Islam is the dominant version of the religion and is taught in almost every Islamic university in the world. It is puritanical, extreme and does, yes, mean that women can be beaten, apostates killed and Jews called pigs and monkeys."

He leans back, takes a deep breath and moves to another area, one that he says is far too seldom discussed: "North Americans are too squeamish about discussing the obvious sexual dynamic behind suicide bombings. If they understood contemporary Islamic society, they would understand the sheer sexual tension of Sunni Muslim men. Look at the figures for suicide bombings and see how few are from the Shiite world. Terrorism and violence yes, but not suicide. The overwhelming majority are from Sunnis. Now within the Shiite world there are what is known as temporary marriages, lasting anywhere from an hour to 95 years. It enables men to release their sexual frustrations.

"Islam condemns extra-marital sex as well as masturbation, which is also taught in the Christian tradition. But Islam also tells of unlimited sexual ecstasy in paradise with beautiful virgins for the martyr who gives his life for the faith. Don't for a moment underestimate this blinding passion or its influence on those who accept fundamentalism."

A pause. "I know. I was one who accepted it."

This partial explanation is shocking more for its banality than its horror. Mass murder provoked partly by simple lust. But it cannot be denied that letters written by suicide bombers frequently dwell on waiting virgins and sexual gratification.

"The sexual aspect is, of course, just one part of this. But I can tell you what it is not about. Not about Israel, not about Iraq, not about Afghanistan. They are mere excuses. Algerian Muslim fundamentalists murdered 150,000 other Algerian Muslims, sometimes slitting the throats of children in front of their parents. Are you seriously telling me that this was because of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians or American foreign policy?"

He's exasperated now, visibly angry at what he sees as a willful Western foolishness. "Stop asking what you have done wrong. Stop it! They're slaughtering you like sheep and you still look within. You criticize your history, your institutions, your churches. Why can't you realize that it has nothing to do with what you have done but with what they want."

Then he leaves -- for where, he cannot say. A voice that is silenced in its homeland and too often ignored by those who prefer convenient revision to disturbing truth. The tragedy is that Tawfik Hamid is almost used to it.

- Michael Coren is an author and broadcaster.
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« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2006, 11:21:51 AM »

I wasn't sure where to put this interesting piece, so here it is:

Islam's unlikely soul mate -- the pope
Both bemoaning the West's secularism, Benedict XIV and Mideast Muslims have a shot at true dialogue.
By John L. Allen Jr., JOHN L. ALLEN JR. is the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and author of "The Rise of Benedict XVI."
November 26, 2006

Can jihad be redeemed? That is, can the religious and moral sense of purpose that often fuels Islamic extremism be leavened with a commitment to reason and peace, and can it be done without opening the door to gradual secularization? It's the

$64,000 question facing Islam, and it is, for the most part, one that only Muslims can answer.

One could make the case, however, that if anyone in the West can help, it's Pope Benedict XVI, despite the firestorm unleashed by his Sept. 12 comments on Islam. Benedict is the lone figure of global standing in the West who speaks from within the same thought-world that many Muslims sympathetic to the jihadists inhabit.

Benedict XVI will visit Turkey this week, his first trip to a majority Muslim state. And given the furor following his quotation of a 14th century Byzantine emperor that Muhammad brought "things only evil and inhuman," the pope will certainly have the Islamic world's attention. Much may ride on what he does with it.

A detour into the recent history of Islamic thought illustrates the potential for common ground.

Egyptian poet and essayist Sayyid Qutb, hanged by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966, is the father of modern Islamic radicalism. He spent 1948-50 in the United States attending Wilson Teachers College, the Colorado State College of Education (today the University of Northern Colorado) and Stanford University as part of an exchange program. Based on that experience, Qutb penned his famous tract, "The America I Have Seen," which still exercises a profound effect in shaping Muslim perceptions of American culture.

The work amounted to a ferocious attack on what Qutb called "the American man," depicted as obsessed with technology but virtually a barbarian in the realm of spirituality and human values. American society, for Qutb, was "rotten and ill" to its very core.

He wrote: "This great America: What is it worth in the scale of human values? And what does it add to the moral account of humanity? And, by the journey's end, what will its contribution be? I fear that a balance may not exist between America's material greatness and the quality of its people. And I fear that the wheel of life will have turned and the book of life will have closed and America will have added nothing, or next to nothing, to the account of morals that distinguishes man from object, and indeed, mankind from animals."

A particular zone of disgust for Qutb was what he saw as the sexual licentiousness of American culture (and this, bear in mind, was the early 1950s). He wrote that a society in which "immoral teachings and poisonous intentions are rampant" and in which sex is considered "outside the sphere of morality" is one in which "the humanity of man can hardly find a place to develop." Qutb said that "providing full opportunities for the development and perfection of human characteristics requires strong safeguards for the peace and stability of the family."

In general, Qutb's writing simmers with an outrage and extremism that no one would associate with the Old World, cerebral style of Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI. Yet for anyone familiar with Ratzinger's cultural criticism over the years, there is nevertheless something strikingly familiar in Qutb's polemic ? not so much with regard to America as with the West in general. What both figures share is a conviction that the West's cult of technology has produced a deep spiritual and moral crisis.

In his 1990 book, "In the Beginning," on the doctrine of creation, Ratzinger wrote of Western society: "The good and the moral no longer count, it seems, but only what one can do. The measure of a human being is what he can do, and not what he is, not what is good or bad. What he can do, he may do?. And that means that he is destroying himself and the world?. [The question] 'What can we do?' will be false and pernicious while we refrain from asking, 'Who are we?' The question of being and the question of our hopes are inseparable."

Ratzinger has even linked this argument to the question of birth control, saying that contraception is merely a mechanical solution to an ethical and cultural problem. In his 1997 book, "Salt of the Earth," he said: "One of our great perils [is] that we want to master the human condition with technology, that we have forgotten that there are primordial human problems that are not susceptible to technological solutions, but that demand a certain lifestyle and certain life decisions." Benedict XVI would thus find in Qutb a version ? admittedly in a sometimes irrational form ? of his own critique of the West.

This is the most compelling reason why Benedict's repeated insistence that he wants a "frank and sincere" dialogue with Islam is more than lip service. Fundamentally, the clash of cultures Benedict sees in the world today is not between Islam and the West but between belief and unbelief ? between a culture that grounds itself in God and religious belief and a culture that lives etsi Deus non daretur, "as if God does not exist." In that struggle, Benedict has long said, Muslims are natural allies.

Recently, for example, the Vatican vigorously protested a gay pride march in Jerusalem, arguing that such an event is "offensive to the great majority of Jews, Muslims and Christians." It's a classic example of an issue around which Benedict believes engagement with Muslims is possible.

Yet Benedict is also well aware that Islamic radicalism tends to discredit religious commitment in any form by associating it with violence and fanaticism. Hence, when Benedict presses Muslims to reject terrorism and to embrace religious liberty, he believes himself to be doing so not as a xenophobe or a crusader but as a friend of Islam, pressing it to realize the best version of itself.

That, no doubt, will be part of the argument he tries to make in Turkey.

If they could set aside their prejudices, at least some of the spiritual sons and daughters of Sayyid Qutb might well recognize a potential ally in Joseph Ratzinger ? and therein lies perhaps the last, best hope for Muslim-Christian dialogue under Benedict XVI.

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« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2006, 12:27:06 AM »

Happy Hajj! You’re Not Invited!
By Patrick Poole | December 22, 2006

As Jews began their Hanukkah celebrations this week, commemorating the recovery of the Holy Land and the Temple from foreign invaders by Judas Maccabeus, and more than a billion Christians prepare for one of the holiest days of the church year, where the doors of Christian churches will be thrown open to anyone willing to hear the good news of Christ’s coming to earth as a human to redeem humanity, millions of Muslims are preparing for their own spiritual journey next week in the annual trek to Mecca to perform the Hajj.

But quite unlike the Jewish and Christian religious celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas, if you are a non-Muslim, don’t plan on investigating the mysteries of Islam by joining your Muslim friends on their trip to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj – you’re not invited.

Perhaps no better contrast between Judaism, Christianity and Islam exists than the treatment of non-believers on the respective holy days of each religion. I recall fondly the many times that I have participated in the Passover seder at the invitation of Jewish friends and have each time been awed at the profound meaning attached to every element of the seder which is designed to illustrate the fascinating historical narrative of the Jewish people over the millennia that is the foundation of both the Christian and Islamic faiths.

I also remember the occasion several years ago when a Chinese friend of mine who was finishing his PhD at Ohio State joined my family and me for our Christmas Eve celebrations. After joining us for worship, he told us with tears in his eyes how that was the first time that he had ever heard the gospel message that Jesus Christ had come into the world to save sinners – a message that had been branded as counter-revolutionary and been outlawed in his own country. Needless to say, we were delighted when he joined us again the following year for Christmas Eve, where he was anxious to tell anyone at church who would listen how he had embraced the free offer of the gospel and become a Christian the previous year. Having returned home to China, my friend is now a leader in the underground Church there.

But if I wanted to join my Muslim friends next week on the Hajj, I would have to bear in mind that my reception would not be as friendly. I would be forbidden to bring my Bible or any Christian literature with me on my trip to Saudi Arabia, and be required to remove anything identifiably Christian from my person (crosses, etc.). There are no Christian churches allowed in the “Land of the Two Mosques”, so there would be no opportunity for me to join with fellow Christians there in our weekly celebration of the Lord’s Day, and I would constantly be under watch by the Wahhabi Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice police to ensure that I didn’t share my Christian faith with anyone else.

Even having arrived in Saudi Arabia and complying with the absolute ban of any expression of my faith, as I approached the holy city of Mecca, I would be denied entry. Despite all of the supposed Quranic endorsements of the “People of the Book” (i.e. Jews and Christians), as a kafir, my presence is not welcome at the Hajj. We should remember that the cardinal offense that prompted Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda lackeys to declare war on the “Crusaders and Zionists” in 1996 was the presence of American troops in the Arabian Peninsula, though nowhere near the sacred cities of Mecca or Medina.

For Muslims in the West, they have as much freedom as any other to practice their faith openly and freely without any fear of being molested. The number of mosques popping up all over America is a testament to that freedom.

Such is not the case for Jews and Christians in Islamic lands, however, where people of those faiths are subject to countless acts of intimidation and violence on a daily basis. Even in their synagogues and sanctuaries, believers are not immune from attack. In fact, many are prevented from approaching their own holy sites. In the Holy Land, Muslims occupy the Temple Mount – the historic location of the ancient Jewish Temple – and Jewish worshippers are subject to regular assaults by stone-throwing Muslim crowds at the nearby Wailing Wall and other sacred sites. And it was the mere presence of a Jew – Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon – near the Temple Mount in September 2000 that sparked the second intifada that has claimed the lives of hundreds of Jews, Christians and Muslims in recent years. Jews have also been forbidden from visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron – Judaism’s second-most holy site – since it was converted to a mosque in 1266.

And earlier this month Turkish authorities feared that Pope Benedict might take the opportunity while touring the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul – one of the greatest churches in the world that was seized by Muslims after 1,000 years of constant use by Christians – that he might actually try to pray there.

It isn’t just the Hagia Sophia that has suffered the inglorious fate of being converted from its original use as a Christian church to be taken over by invading Islamic forces and made into a mosque. In her book, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam. From Jihad to Dhimmitude, Bat Ye’or chronicles how innumerable Christian and Jewish holy sites, such as the Church of St. John in Damascus that was demolished by the Islamic Caliph Abd al-Malik in 705 and had the Umayyad Mosque built over it, were taken over for the exclusive use for Islamic worship during the constant waves of Islamic conquest. It is worth noting that even the Kabaa, the central location of worship in Mecca, was seized by Mohammad from non-Muslims.

Getting back to my original point – one of the constant complaints of Muslim apologists is that Westerners just don’t understand Islam. Fair enough; but is that entirely the fault of non-Muslims who are shut out of Islam’s most important rituals? And might it be the case that those of us, Christians and Jews alike, who are angered at the treatment of our brethren in Islamic lands do so not because of our alleged “Islamophobia”, but rather on the basis of real grievances?

As former President Jimmy Carter travels the country promoting his book identifying Israel as an apartheid state because they refuse to capitulate to Palestinian terrorism, perhaps he might take some time and try to join his Wahhabi patrons during the Hajj this year and see what religious apartheid is really all about. While believers and non-believers alike will enjoy the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays, the invitation for Jews and Christians to join their Muslim friends and neighbors for the Hajj this year didn’t get lost in the holiday mail. It was never sent.

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« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2007, 01:09:34 PM »

  Posted January 06, 2007 04:17 PM

Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 314
January 5, 2007 No.314

Lafif Lakhdar: A European Muslim Reformist
By: Menahem Milson

On December 10, 2006, at an international conference on Islam in Europe held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Prof. Menahem Milson presented the views of Arab reformist thinker Lafif Lakhdar on the issue of integration versus separate ethnic communal identity among Muslims in Europe.
The following is the transcript of the lecture.

Introduction: A Short Biography

Lafif Lakhdar is a Tunisian intellectual living in Paris. The name "Lafif Lakhdar" is the French transcription of his Arabic name, "Al-'Afif Al-Akhdar." He is one of the foremost reformist intellectuals in the Arab world today. His articles are published regularly on the liberal websites Elaph and Middle East Transparent, and afterwards are taken up by dozens of other reform-oriented sites. He is an outspoken and relentless critic of Islamism and Islamist terrorism.

On October 24, 2004, the liberal Arab websites and published a manifesto written by Arab liberals – among them Lafif Lakhdar – in which they petitioned the U.N. to establish an international tribunal for the prosecution of terrorists and people and institutions that incite to terrorism.

The special significance of this petition was that it not only spoke of terrorism and terrorists in general terms, but specifically mentions by name a number of leading Islamist clerics as promoters of terrorism who should be prosecuted at the tribunal – among them, the prominent and media-savvy Islamist Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, one of the leading authorities of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is not surprising then that the banned Tunisian Islamist movement Al-Nahdha, headed by Sheikh Rashed al-Ghannushi, has declared Lafif Lakhdar an apostate, which many Islamists understand as a call for his assassination.

Lafif Lakhdar was born in 1934 to a poor peasant family in northeastern Tunisia. Of the nine children in his family, seven died in infancy, with only him and one brother surviving. Because of the family's poverty, his only schooling was half a year in a French school and Koran studies in the village. When he grew up, he went to the Al-Zaytouna religious university, where not only were studies free of tuition, but which also offered room and enough "board" to get by. Afterwards he studied law, and practiced law for a number of years.

In 1958, he represented at trial a Tunisian oppositionist, who was convicted and put to death, following which Lafif Lakhdar's movement was restricted by the police. In 1961, he escaped Tunisia and fled to Paris, where he joined the circle of Algerian FLN leader Ahmad Ben Bella's supporters, and eventually, when Ben Bella was elected President of Algeria, Lakhdar became one of his closest advisors. When Ben Bella was deposed in 1965, Lakhdar fled Algeria, and spent several years wandering throughout Europe and the Middle East.

In the late 1960s, Lafif Lakhdar was in Jordan and was close to the PLO leadership. In 1970 he moved to Beirut, where he was a prominent figure in Marxist and left-wing circles. In his own words, hunger had made him into a socialist. However, the civil war in Lebanon brought about a rift between himself and his onetime left-wing associates, for he could not accept their support for the forces which undermined and threatened to destroy the only democracy in the Arab world. He then returned once more to Paris, where he lives to this day.

In 2005, a study of Lafif Lakhdar's thought was published in Beirut under the title The Devil's Advocate. The author, Jordanian-American political thinker Dr. Shaker Al-Nabulsi, explains that he took the title from one of Lafif Lakhdar's articles in which he describes himself as the devil's advocate, explaining that he is not only ready to defy common wisdom, but is also ready to constantly challenge his own views in search of the truth.

"Arab-Islamic Education Turns a Lover of Peace into an Aggressor, and an Aggressor into a Terrorist"

Lafif Lakhdar's views on Islam and Muslims in Europe stem from his views on the general question of the relationship between religion and state on the one hand, and his view on the need for reform in Islam on the other. A paper he sent to be read at the Congress on Modernity and Arab Modernization, which was held in Beirut during April 30-May 2, 2004, is an effective summary of his views on these issues. The article's main focus is on the need to transform education in the Arab world – education in general, and religious education in particular, at all levels of schooling. This emphasis on education is a central feature of Lakhdar's thought. In a paraphrase on Jean Piaget's quip that the French educational system turns the genius into the talented, and the talented into the mediocre, he said that Arab-Islamic education – with the exception of the Tunisian school system – turns a peace-lover into an aggressor, and an aggressor into a terrorist.

According to Lakhdar, the reason why Arab-Islamic elites, throughout the Arab world, opt for this kind of religious education is that the political elites in the Arab world, who lack democratic social legitimacy, compensate for this deficiency by promoting Islamist education, which is by its nature anti-modern and anti-rationalist.

For Lafif Lakhdar, secularism is the very basis of a healthy society. To be sure, it is not the only prerequisite, but it is certainly an indispensable one. He defines "secularism" as the separation of religion from politics. He distinguishes three categories of countries: theocracy, the secular state, and countries in a state of transition between the two. According to Lakhdar, theocracy was widespread during the Middle Ages, and while it is extant in the Christian world today only in the Vatican, in the Islamic world there are several theocracies: the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and, until 2002, the Taliban state in Afghanistan. Most Islamic countries, though, are in a state of transition from theocracy to a secular state.

Lakhdar says: "A state in transition from theocracy to secularism is one whose constitution determines that the shari'a [Islamic religious law] is the first source of legislation...

"Women and non-Muslims in this state of transition are second-class citizens, and sometimes even zero-class citizens. For example, a woman is forbidden to run for the presidency or even for a lesser office, because in many Islamic countries women are still considered as lacking the intelligence needed for governing, and lacking the religious standing needed to perform religious ritual. Non-Muslim citizens are still treated as dhimmis…"

Muslims Are Destined, Like the Rest of Humanity, to Adopt Modernity and Secularism

According to Lafif Lakhdar, Arab and Muslim countries cannot escape becoming secular. The direction of historical development is toward secularism, which is the hallmark of modernity. Muslims are destined, like the rest of humanity, to adopt modernity, and, as a result, secularism.

"The separation of the sacred and the mundane is a consequence of modernity. The farther back we go in history, the more we see that the separation of the two is the rare exception, while the rule is that they are tied together, particularly among primitive tribes.

"The Islamists' psychological slavery to their forefathers – that is, to the Prophet, his Companions, and their followers – paralyzes their minds no less than ancestor worship [paralyzes] the mind of primitive [tribes]. The divine logic brought by the forefathers is everything, while the human logic of our minds is nothing…"

"So far, secularism has failed in the attempt to make headway in the Arab world, because Islam has not yet undergone the necessary religious reform that Judaism and Christianity underwent in Europe. A religion that has undergone reform is a modern religion that recognizes the separation of religion and state, and agrees to restrict itself to the religious sphere, with the state being responsible for mundane matters.

"The second reason for the failure of secularism to make headway [in the Arab world] as a complete political system is the cowardice of the political leaders. Islam did not undergo reform in Turkey… yet despite this, thanks to the leadership of the Muslim Kemal Ataturk, the Ottoman theocracy – the Caliphate – came to an end, and on its ruins arose a secular state that is not ashamed of its secular identity."

Lakhdar highlights the role of the leader Kemal Ataturk in extricating his country from a medieval form of regime into a modern one. In other words, Lakhdar suggests that the Arab countries would be better off if their leaders had the courage to establish secular regimes as did Kemal Ataturk. Here we can see Lakhdar's dual role: on the one hand, he is a scholarly observer of social history who describes what he sees as the inevitable outcome of social development (namely, secularism); and on the other hand, he is a passionate reformist, who is anxious to have secularism now and castigates the Arab leaders for not choosing the way to progress.

Secularism Is Not Anti-Religious

Lafif Lakhdar rejects the argument that secularism is anti-religious. He says that those who make this claim are either ignorant, or else disingenuous – like some of the Islamist leaders. Secular France, for instance, does not prevent the construction of mosques in the country.

By the same token, he states that there is nothing to prevent the secular state from offering religious education – provided that it is a modern religious education that has undergone reform. For religious education to be modernized and reformed, he adds that "the pupil must study religion with the help of modern sciences – comparative history of religions, sociology of religions, psychology, religious anthropology, interpretation of sacred texts, and philosophy – in order to develop critical thought in the next generations.

"In Tunisia," he explains, "students at the religious Al-Zaitouna University learn Islamic and modern philosophy throughout all four years of study. Those studying the sciences, including medical students, learn modern philosophy throughout their studies. There is nothing like philosophy and the humanities to strengthen thought against the Islamists' religious-political propaganda. This kind of reformed, modern religious education is not merely desirable for the secular state in the Arab and Islamic region – it is a necessity." This, he believes, is the antidote to religious extremism.

Lafif Lakhdar emphasizes that secularism does not mean a rupture with Islam. He explains that it is a break with autocracy and theocracy in the Muslim world, but on the other hand is a renewal of other elements in Islam – such as the rationalist theology of the Mu'tazila, Muslim philosophical thought, which subjected holy texts to interpretation by the human mind, and Sufism, that is, Islamic mysticism.

Lakhdar, a self-declared secularist, does not deny a role for religion in modern life, so long as it is a personal, private – and, of course, voluntary – form of religion. He writes that he admires the mystical experience in general, and is particularly attracted to the writings of the great medieval Islamic mystic, Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-'Arabi. (In this respect, Lakhdar's attitude is reminiscent of that of the late Egyptian Nobel laureate, Naguib Mahfouz.)

European Muslims Must Integrate into European Societies and Adopt Modern Cultural Values

In a recent interview, Lafif Lakhdar summarized his views on the crucial issue facing Europe and Muslims in Europe – namely, integration vs. multiculturalism. "Within Islam in Europe, there are two conflicting trends. [The first is] the trend that insists on the Muslims' cultural independence and separation from European societies and preservation of all Islamic customs – including those which stand in contradiction with the universal human values prevalent in contemporary human societies, such as European ones. The other trend, to which I myself belong, says the opposite: It insists on the cultural integration of European Muslims into European societies, and the adoption of Europe's universal cultural values, in order to modernize their traditional values, most of which are not adapted to the needs of our time."

"This necessary integration does not mean that they give up their spiritual values, but only those customs that contradict the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the other international conventions that derive from it..."

Lakhdar states that the first trend – which may be termed the communalist trend – is dominant. He also notes that they refuse to speak about "European Muslims," and insist on referring to "Muslims in Europe," so as to highlight the separation of cultural identity between Muslims and Europeans, whereas he himself purposefully speaks of "European Islam."

According to Lakhdar, the Islamists have attained their dominant position among Muslims in Europe through a virtual monopolization of the media – not just the Arabic media, but also of the French and European media, which gives preference to speakers who support the communalist view – like Tariq Ramadhan – and virtually ignores the many Arab intellectuals who are in favor of integration (such as Taher Ben Jaloun, Muhammad Arkoun, Malek Chebel, and Lafif Lakhdar himself).

The flow of petrodollars strengthens the enemies of integration, and allows them to establish their own printed media, publish translations of Islamist preachers into European languages, and dispatch preachers of Islamism to all the poor Muslim suburbs and communities.

There is another factor operating in favor of the Islamist-anti-integrationist trend, namely, the attitude of liberal western intellectuals. Here is how Lakhdar presents this issue: "Why do some of the European intellectuals and the English and American media support the anti-integration trend?"

The answer given by Lakhdar is as follows: "The first explanation is that it is the result of political demagoguery: when the right wing is in power and it makes a decision or assumes a certain position, the left wing, that is, the opposition, automatically opposes it – not because they are convinced that the decisions are wrong, but because they must assume a different position.

"Second, the guilt feeling [on account of European colonialism]… which affects many European intellectuals pushes them to support the [Islamist demands that Muslim girls wear] hijab in school or [the claim that it is all right for Muslims,] on the occasion of the Muslim feast of the sacrifice, to slaughter sheep in their bathrooms, or the right of Muslim families to circumcise their daughters."

Lafif Lakhdar angrily calls this guilt-ridden approach "pathological": "The third reason is cultural relativism, which is even more dangerous than the former two factors, because it derives from a philosophical conviction which has become prevalent in Europe, indeed in the entire Western world."

Lakhdar indignantly continues: "A sound mind recognizes that there are universal human values, such as human rights, and if one does not accept this, then every human society can become a Darwinian society, that is, a society of 'the survival of the fittest' and the whole world becomes a jungle ruled by the law of the jungle."

Lakhdar explains that the religious-ideological underpinning of the separatist, communalist approach is the Islamist doctrine of al-wala' w'al-bara'. This doctrine states that Muslims must ally themselves with and have allegiance to Muslims only, and that they should dissociate themselves from all non-Muslims. The Islamists' insistence on the hijab – a custom which Lakhdar rejects – is one of the expressions of this doctrine: Muslim women should have an appearance that differentiates them from their surrounding environment. He says that the hijab, both in Europe and in Muslim countries, is a clear expression of the subjugation and humiliation of women – an attitude that must be changed in order for Muslim societies to progress.

He rejects the criticism of the French government's ban on the hijab in schools, criticism that often employs the language of human rights and religious freedom. Lakhdar argues that those who criticize the French policy make it appear as though there is a ban on the hijab in general – which is, of course, not the case; the ban applies only to wearing the Islamic head covering at school, but not elsewhere at home or in public. According to Lafif, the hijab in the school is a form of religious propaganda, and therefore, should rightly be prohibited.


Lafif Lakhdar's views on Islam in Europe are rooted in what he holds to be universal values, and which he has made his own: humanism, liberalism, democracy – all of which naturally imply the equality of women and non-discrimination on religious or ethnic grounds. He makes it no secret that he believes modern European societies to be far more advanced in these respects than Arab Muslim countries, and it is his view that the Muslim world should adopt the Western norms of democracy and separation between church and state. Hence, he is strongly in favor of full integration of Muslims into European society. In a recent interview, he proposed an interesting source as a model for this integration: he recommended to Muslims that they adopt none other than the old Jewish principle of dina de-malchuta dina, or "the law of the land is binding," as the basis for European Islamic minority law – a daring choice indeed. Thus in form, as well as in content, Lafif Lakhdar is a courageous and original voice in contemporary Arab thought, a reformist without a hint of apologetics.

*Menahem Milson is Professor of Arabic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Chairman of MEMRI

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« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2007, 08:14:15 PM »

Why They Fight
And what it means for us.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

President Bush has said that the war against global jihadism is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. We are still in the early years of the struggle. The civilized world will either rise to the challenge and prevail against this latest form of barbarism, or grief and death will visit us and other innocents on a massive scale.

Given the stakes involved in this war and how little is known, even now, about what is at the core of this conflict, it is worth reviewing in some detail the nature of our enemy--including disaggregating who they are (Shia and Sunni extremists), what they believe and why they believe it, and the implications of that for America and the West.

Islam in the World Today
The enemy we face is not Islam per se; rather, we face a global network of extremists who are driven by a twisted vision of Islam. These jihadists are certainly a minority within Islam--but they exist, they are dangerous and resolute, in some places they are ascendant, and they need to be confronted and defeated.

It's worth looking at Islam more broadly. It is the second-largest religion in the world, with around 1.3 billion adherents. Islam is the dominant religion throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia, which alone claims more than 170 million adherents. There are also more than 100 million Muslims living in India.

Less than a quarter of the world's Muslims are Arabs.

The Muslim world is, as William J. Bennett wrote in his in 2002 in his book "Why We Fight," "vast and varied and runs the gamut from the Iran of the ayatollahs to secular and largely westernized Turkey."

The overwhelming majority of Muslims are Sunnites, or "traditionalists"; they comprise 83 percent of the Muslim world, or 934 million people. It is the dominant faith in countries like Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.

Sunni Islam recognizes several major schools of thought, including Wahhabism, which is based on the teachings of the 18th century Islamic scholar Mohammed ibn Abd Wahhab. His movement was a reaction to European modernism and what he believed was the corruption of Muslim theology and an insufficient fidelity to Islamic law. He gave jihad, or "holy war," a prominent place in his teachings.

Wahhabism--a xenophobic, puritanical version of Sunni Islam--became the reigning theology in modern Saudi Arabia and is the strand of Sunni faith in which Osama bin Laden was raised and with which he associates himself.

Shiites, or "partisans" of Ali, represent around 16 percent of the Muslim world, or 180 million people. The Shiite faith is dominant in Iraq and Iran and is the single largest community in Lebanon. The largest sect within the Shia faith is known as "twelvers," referring to those who believe that the twelfth imam, who is now hidden, will appear to establish peace, justice, and Islamic rule on earth.

"Across the Middle East Shias and Sunnis have often rallied around the same political causes and even fought together in the same trenches," Professor Vali Nasr, author of "The Shia Revival," has written. But he also points out that "followers of each sect are divided by language, ethnicity, geography, and class. There are also disagreements within each group over politics, theology, and religious law . . ." Professor Nasr points out that "[a]nti-Shiism is embedded in the ideology of Sunni militancy that has risen to prominence across the region in the last decade."

It is worth noting as well that for most of its history, the Shia have been largely powerless, marginalized, and oppressed--often by Sunnis. "Shia history," the Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami has written, "is about lamentations."

Shia and Sunni: Different Histories
The split between the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam is rooted in the question of rightful succession after the death of Muhammad in 632.

The Shia believe that Muhammad designated Ali, his son-in-law and cousin, as his successor. To the Shia, it was impossible that God could have left open the question of leadership of the community. Only those who knew the prophet intimately would have the thorough knowledge of the true meaning of the Koran and the prophetic tradition. Further, for the new community to choose its own leader held the possibility that the wrong person would be chosen.

The majority view prevailing at an assembly following Muhammad's death, however, was that Muhammad had deliberately left succession an open question. These became the Sunnis, followers of the Sunnah, or Tradition of the Prophet. This is the root of the Sunni tradition. Sunnis have a belief in "the sanctity of the consensus of the community . . . 'My community will never agree in error': the Prophet is thus claimed by the Sunnis to have conferred on his community the very infallibility that the Shi`is ascribe to their Imams," Hamid Enayat, wrote in his book "Modern Islamic Political Thought."

The assembly elected as Muhammad's successor Abu Baker, a close companion of Muhammad, and gave Abu Baker the title Caliph, or successor, of God's messenger. Ali was the third successor to Abu Baker and, for the Shia, the first divinely sanctioned "imam," or male descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

The seminal event in Shia history is the martyrdom in 680 of Ali's son Hussein, who led an uprising against the "illegitimate" caliph (72 of Hussein's followers were killed as well). "For the Shia, Hussein came to symbolize resistance to tyranny," according to Masood Farivar. "His martyrdom is commemorated to this day as the central act of Shia piety."

The end of Muhammad's line came with Muhammad al-Mahdi, the "Twelfth Imam"--or Mahdi ("the one who guides")--who disappeared as a child at the funeral of his father Hassan al-Askari, the eleventh imam.

Shia and Sunni: Different Eschatologies
Shiites believe that the Twelfth Imam, al-Mahdi, is merely hidden from view and will one day return from his "occultation" to rid the world of evil. Legitimate Islamic rule can only be re-established with the Mahdi's return because, in the Shiite view, the imams possessed secret knowledge, passed by each to his successor, vital to guiding the community.

History is moving toward the inevitable return of the Twelfth Imam, according to Shia. Professor Hamid Enayat has written:

"The Shi`is agree with the Sunnis that Muslim history since the era of the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs . . . has been for the most part a tale of woe. But whereas for the Sunnis the course of history since then has been a movement away from the ideal state, for the Shi`is it is a movement towards it."

It's worth noting that Shia have historically been politically quiescent, with "[the return of the Mahdi] remaining in practice merely a sanctifying tenet for the submissive acceptance of the status quo."

In more recent times, however--and in particular in Iran under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini--the martyrdom of Hussein at Karbala in 680 has been used to catalyze political action. Ayatollah Khomeini embraced a view that Hussein was compelled to resist an unpopular, unjust and impious government and that his martyrdom serves as a call to rebellion for all Muslims in building an Islamic state.

The end-time views of Ayatollah Khomeini have been explained this way:

"[Khomeini] vested the myth [of the return of the Twelfth Imam] with an entirely new sense: The Twelfth Imam will only emerge when the believers have vanquished evil. To speed up the Mahdi's return, Muslims had to shake off their torpor and fight," according to Matthias Kuntzel writing in the New Republic this past April.

As Mr. Kuntzel points out, Khomeini's activism is a break with Shia tradition and, in fact, tracks more closely with the militancy of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to reunite religion and politics, implement sharia (the body of Islamic laws derived from the Koran), and views the struggle for an Islamic state as a Muslim duty.

Professor Noah Feldman of New York University points out, "Recently, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, contributed to renewed focus on the mahdi, by saying publicly that the mission of the Islamic revolution in Iran is to pave the way for the mahdi's return . . ."

Sunni radicals hold a very different eschatological view. "For all his talk of the war between civilizations," Professor Feldman has written:

"bin Laden has never spoken of the end of days. For him, the battle between the Muslims and the infidels is part of earthly human life, and has indeed been with us since the days of the Prophet himself. The war intensifies and lessens with time, but it is not something that occurs out of time or with the expectation that time itself will stop. Bin Laden and his sympathizers want to re-establish the caliphate and rule the Muslim world, but unlike some earlier revivalist movements within Sunni Islam, they do not declare their leader as the mahdi, or guided one, whose appearance will usher in a golden age of justice and peace to be followed by the Day of Judgment. From this perspective, the utter destruction of civilization would be a mistake, not the fulfillment of a divine plan."

Many Sunnis, then, look toward the rise of a new caliphate; Shia, on the other hand, are looking for the rule of the returned imam--with the extremist strain within Shia believing they can hasten the return of the twelfth imam by cleansing the world of what they believe to be evil in their midst.

Other prominent Shia, like Iraq's Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, according to Professor Feldman, "take a more fatalist stance, and prefer to believe that the mahdi's coming cannot be hastened by human activity . . . ." Indeed, as Anthony Shadid pointed out in the Washington Post in 2004, Ayatollah Sistani was a disciple of Ayatollah Abul-Qassim Khoei in Najaf, who was from the "quietist school" in Shiite Islam and attempted to keep Khomeini from claiming the mantle of Shiite leadership.
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« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2007, 08:15:27 PM »

Contemporary Sunni Radicalism
Since the attacks of September 11, we have learned important things about al Qaeda and its allies. Their movement is fueled by hatred and deep resentments against the West, America, and the course of history.

In Islam's first few centuries of existence, it was a dominant and expanding force in the world, sweeping across lands in the modern-day Middle East, North Africa, Spain, and elsewhere. During its Golden Age--which spanned from the eighth to the 13th century--Islam was the philosophical, educational, and scientific center of the world. The Ottoman Empire reached the peak of its power in the 16th century. Islam then began to recede as a political force. In the 17th century, for example, advancing Muslims were defeated at the gates of Vienna, the last time an Islamic army threatened the heart of Europe. And for radicals like bin Laden, a milestone event and historic humiliation came when the Ottoman Empire crumbled at the end of World War I.

This is significant because for many Muslims, the proper order of life in this world is for them to rule and for the "infidels" to be ruled over. The end of the Ottoman Empire was deeply disorienting. Then, in 1923-24 came the establishment of modern, secular Turkey under Kemal Ataturk--and the abolishment of the caliphate.

Osama bin Laden and his militant Sunni followers seek to reverse all that. Bin Laden sees himself as the new caliph; he has referred to himself as the "commander of the faithful." He is seeking to unify all of Islam--and resume a jihad against the unbelievers.

According to Mary Habeck of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University:

"Jihadis thus neither recognize national boundaries within the Islamic lands nor do they believe that the coming Islamic state, when it is created, should have permanent borders with the unbelievers. The recognition of such boundaries would end the expansion of Islam and stop offensive jihad, both of which are transgressions against the laws of God that command jihad to last until Judgment Day or until the entire earth is under the rule of Islamic law."

Al Qaeda and its terrorist allies are waging their war on several continents. They have killed innocent people in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Far East, and the United States. They will try to overthrow governments and seize power where they can--and where they cannot, they will attempt to inflict fear and destruction by disrupting settled ways of life. They will employ every weapon they can: assassinations, car bombs, airplanes, and, if they can secure them, biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons.

The theocratic and totalitarian ideology that characterizes al Qaeda makes typical negotiations impossible. "Anyone who stands in the way of our struggle is our enemy and target of the swords," said Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the late leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. Osama bin Laden put it this way: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."

This struggle has an enormous ideological dimension. For example, both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two leader of al Qaeda and its ideological leader, were deeply influenced by Sayyid Qutb, whose writings (especially his manifesto "Milestones") gave rise and profoundly shaped the radical Islamist movement. Qutb, an Egyptian who was killed by Egyptian President Gamal Nasser in 1966, had a fierce hatred for America, the West, modernity, and Muslims who did not share his extremist views.

According to the author Lawrence Wright:

"Qutb divides the world into two camps, Islam and jahiliyya, the period of ignorance and barbarity that existed before the divine message of the Prophet Mohammed. Qutb uses the term to encompass all of modern life: manners, morals, art, literature, law, even much of what passed as Islamic culture. He was opposed not to modern technology but to the worship of science, which he believed had alienated humanity from natural harmony with creation. Only a complete rejection of rationalism and Western values offered the slim hope of the redemption of Islam. This was the choice: pure, primitive Islam or the doom of mankind."

Sunni jihadists, then, are committed to establishing a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. Ayman al-Zawahiri, for example, has spoken about a "jihad for the liberation of Palestine, all Palestine, as well as every land that was a home for Islam, from Andalusia to Iraq. The whole world is an open field for us."

Their version of political utopia is Afghanistan under the Taliban, a land of almost unfathomable cruelty. The Taliban sought to control every sphere of human life and crush individuality and human creativity. And Afghanistan became a safe haven and launching pad for terrorists.

The Islamic radicals we are fighting know they are far less wealthy and far less advanced in technology and weaponry than the United States. But they believe they will prevail in this war, as they did against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, by wearing us down and breaking our will. They believe America and the West are "the weak horse"--soft, irresolute, and decadent. "[Americans are] the most cowardly of God's creatures," al-Zarqawi once said.

Contemporary Shia Radicalism
President Bush has said the Shia strain of Islamic radicalism is "just as dangerous, and just as hostile to America, and just as determined to establish its brand of hegemony across the broader Middle East." And Shia extremists have achieved something al Qaeda has not: in 1979, they took control of a major power, Iran.

The importance of the Iranian revolution is hard to overstate. In the words of the Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis (writing in Foreign Affairs, May/June 2005):

"Political Islam first became a major international factor with the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The word 'revolution' has been much misused in the Middle East and has served to designate and justify almost any violent transfer of power at the top. But what happened in Iran was a genuine revolution, a major change with a very significant ideological challenge, a shift in the basis of society that had an immense impact on the whole Islamic world, intellectually, morally, and politically. The process that began in Iran in 1979 was a revolution in the same sense as the French and the Russian revolutions were." (emphasis added)

The taking of American hostages in 1979 made it clear that "Islamism represented for the West an opponent of an entirely different nature than the Soviet Union: an opponent that not only did not accept the system of international relations founded after 1945 but combated it as a 'Christian-Jewish conspiracy,' " Mr. Kuntzel wrote in Policy Review recently.

Ayatollah Khomeini said in a radio address in November 1979 that the storming of the American embassy represented a "war between Muslims and pagans." He went on to say this:

"The Muslims must rise up in this struggle, which is more a struggle between unbelievers and Islam than one between Iran and America: between all unbelievers and Muslims. The Muslims must rise up and triumph in this struggle."

A year later, writes Mr. Kuntzel, in a speech in Qom, Khomeini indicated the type of mindset we are facing:

"We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world."

"Whether or not they share Teheran's Shiite orientation," Joshua Muravchik and Jeffrey Gedmin wrote in 1997 in Commentary magazine, "the various Islamist movements take inspiration (and in many cases material assistance) from the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Indeed. As Lawrence Wright points out in his book "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11":

"The fact that Khomeini came from the Shiite branch of Islam, rather than the Sunni, which predominates in the Muslim world outside of Iraq and Iran, made him a complicated figure among Sunni radicals. Nonetheless, Zawahiri's organization, al-Jihad, supported the Iranian revolution with leaflets and cassette tapes urging all Islamic groups in Egypt to follow the Iranian example."

Today Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world. For example, it funds and arms Hezbollah, a Shia terrorist organization which has killed more Americans than any terrorist organization except al Qaeda. Hezbollah was behind the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans and marked the advent of suicide bombing as a weapon of choice among Islamic radicals.

The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has said this: "Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan [America] is absolute . . . Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America."

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has also declared his absolute hostility to America. Last October, he said, "whether a world without the United States and Zionism can be achieved . . . I say that this . . . goal is achievable." In 2006 he declared to America and other Western powers: "open your eyes and see the fate of pharaoh . . . if you do not abandon the path of falsehood . . . your doomed destiny will be annihilation." Later he warned, "The anger of Muslims may reach an explosion point soon. If such a day comes [America and the West] should know that the waves of the blast will not remain within the boundaries of our region."

He also said this: "If you would like to have good relations with the Iranian nation in the future . . . bow down before the greatness of the Iranian nation and surrender. If you don't accept [to do this], the Iranian nation will . . . force you to surrender and bow down."

In Tehran in December, President Ahmadinejad hosted a conference of Holocaust deniers, and he has repeatedly threatened to wipe Israel off the map. "More than any leading Iranian figure since Ayatollah Khomeini himself," Vali Nasr has written, "Ahmadinejad appears to take seriously the old revolutionary goal of positioning Iran as the leading country of the entire Muslim world--an ambition that requires focusing on themes (such as hostility to Israel and the West) that tend to bring together Arabs and Iranians, Sunni and Shia, rather than divide them . . . "

Concluding Thoughts
It is the fate of the West, and in particular the United States, to have to deal with the combined threat of Shia and Sunni extremists. And for all the differences that exist between them--and they are significant--they share some common features.

Their brand of radicalism is theocratic, totalitarian, illiberal, expansionist, violent, and deeply anti-Semitic and anti-American. As President Bush has said, both Shia and Sunni militants want to impose their dark vision on the Middle East. And as we have seen with Shia-dominated Iran's support of the Sunni terrorist group Hamas, they can find common ground when they confront what they believe is a common enemy.

The war against global jihadism will be long, and we will experience success and setbacks along the way. The temptation of the West will be to grow impatient and, in the face of this long struggle, to grow weary. Some will demand a quick victory and, absent that, they will want to withdraw from the battle. But this is a war from which we cannot withdraw. As we saw on September 11th, there are no safe harbors in which to hide. Our enemies have declared war on us, and their hatreds cannot be sated. We will either defeat them, or they will come after us with the unsheathed sword.

All of us would prefer years of repose to years of conflict. But history will not allow it. And so it once again rests with this remarkable republic to do what we have done in the past: our duty.

Peter Wehner is deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives.
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« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2007, 07:25:54 PM »

Counterterrorism Blog

HS Future Terrorism Task Force findings: "Salafi Jihadism is the main threat"

By Walid Phares

The Task Force on Future Terrorism formed by the Homeland Security's Advisory Council (HSAC) released its findings today in Washington DC, in the presence of Secretary Chertoff, other US leaders and the media. In his remarks, Task Force chairman Lee Hamilton said the group expect al Qaeda and other Islamic radicals to continue to attempt to attack the US. He said motivations behind these potential attacks are "complex" and include extremist ideologies. He added that while it is impossible to predict with precisions, three elements are to be taken into consideration: Terrorists leadership, political and economic reform in the Muslim world and safe havens (as in Pakistan). Frank Cilluffo, the vice chairman of the Task Force said "home and prison radicalization is very important" in the growth of the threat. He mentioned that a "lexicon" has to be established to engage in the "battle of ideas."

The findings, as announced today, include a variety of assessments and recommendations. It is important that the community of counter terrorism experts review the findings and evaluate it, as they are now a basis for a policy discussion at the level of Government. Two CTB members were consulted during the research sessions: Steve Emerson and myself. Among the points raised by HSAC are the following issues related to the War of Ideas, along with my comments :

1) "There is every indication that the number and magnitude of attacks on the U.S., its interests and its allies will likely increase.".
Comment: It would be important for the CT community to begin working on the parameters of this projection: the almost certainty that the magnitude of attacks will increase.

2) The most significant terrorist threat to the homeland and to U.S. interests abroad today is a growing radical, extremist movement underpinned by a jihadist/Salafist ideology.
Comment: As projected by the majority of Terrorism experts, and against the views of the majority of academics in the field of Middle East Studies, the confirmation of the Jihadi-Salafi ideology as the root of "the most significant terrorist threat to the US" is a major statement. Experts and analysts should expand on this finding and establish the various programs to show the links between the ideology and Terror. Also, I advice those members in Congress who are now involved in national security, defense and homeland security to act in light of this important finding and expand legislative work to investigate this threat and respond to it.

3.) "The Internet enhances the full range of terrorist activities (training, target selection, planning, execution and other tradecraft), and is an especially powerful tool for spreading their message and recruiting and enlisting into the jihadists’ ranks."
Comment: Such a finding should be noted, especially by US courts dealing with Terrorism. Terrorism cases have crumbled in the past few years because of the incapacity of the judicial system in absorbing the real threat of Jihadism online.

4. American Muslims noted the report are, less alienated than Muslims living in Western Europe, where the "homegrown" threat is significant and rising.
Comment: This finding should be expanded and analysis should be directed to understand the tactics used by the Jihadists to exploit "alienation" in Europe and compare with the tactics used by radicals in this country to "create" alienation, so that it could be exploited inthe future.

5. "Countering "home-grown" radicalization must be one of the Department's top priorities by using the Department's Radicalization and Engagement Working Group (REWG) to better understand the process - from sympathizer to activist to terrorist.
Comment: In other words, the US Department of Homeland Security must develop a strategy to counter the process of formation of a terrorist from supporter of Jihadism to actual followers, and eventually become an executer of Jihadism terror. I would recommend a new area of research which I have initiated in my book Future Jihad in chapter "Mutant Jihad." In short: Establish a system that would intercept the Jihadist process at its early stages instead of meeting it at its last stages.

6. "The Department should work with subject matter experts to ensure that the lexicon used within public statements is clear, precise and does not play into the hands of the extremists."
Comment: This recommendation is the most delicate among all others. The Europeans have failed dramatically in producing an anti-Jihadi lexicon because they relied on the advice of academics and researchers who advocated the "innocence" of Jihadism and proposed a different linguistic direction for the lexicon. Results: Further radicalization in Europe. The US Homeland Security projection has been successful in projecting that "language" is an issue. The next step is to ensure that the "lexicon" will be in line with the general strategic findings of the report: that is to reject the Jihadi logic with the help of a democratic, secular and constitutional discourse, not by increasing the reference to religious concepts in response to religious Jihadism. We will develop soon a platform in this sense.

Find below the full text of the findings:

Homeland Security Advisory Council

Future of Terrorism Task Force

January 11, 2007

In June 2006, the Secretary directed the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) to create a Future of Terrorism Task Force (FOTTF) to accomplish the following:

- Assess future threats to the United States and U.S. interests abroad over the next five years

- Strategically fine-tune departmental structures and processes to meet those threats

- Recommend how to better engage and prepare the American public for present and future challenges


•There is every indication that the number and magnitude of attacks on the U.S., its interests and its allies will likely increase

•Globalization has changed the means and opportunities available to those who wish to "know-how" us harm, (increasingly mobile populations, technologies and know-how readily available)

•Terrorism is a tactic for any adversary, whether or not state sponsored, who chooses not to attack us peer-to-peer

•The most significant terrorist threat to the homeland and to U.S. interests abroad today is a growing radical, extremist movement underpinned by a jihadist/Salafist ideology


• Al-Qaeda, although diminished, is resilient and resurgent and remains a threat to the US

•Al-Qaeda has franchised itself across the globe and inspired groups that act locally and largely independently (increasingly leaderless and marked by self-enlistment)

•Although the war in Afghanistan was successful in destroying Al Qaeda s base of operations, our adversaries continue to feed on weak states and have witnessed the spread of safe havens globally, including northwest Pakistan, Iraq, and the Internet

•It is anticipated state-sponsored terrorism will continue


• In recent years, Muslims have born a substantial burden of terrorist attacks

•Our adversaries base their actions (targets and modus operandi) in part on our actions

•Factors that will influence the future of terrorism include: leadership of the terrorists, US counterterrorism efforts status of political reform in Muslim nations and the elimination of safe havens

•The Internet enhances the full range of terrorist activities (training, target selection, planning, execution and other tradecraft), and is an especially powerful tool for spreading their message and recruiting and enlisting into the jihadists’ ranks


• The evolving complexity of the enemy increases the requirement that protection of the homeland be done with seamless coordination between and among federal, state and local authorities and the private sector

•International partners provide valuable input and lessons learned

•Muslims living in the US are more integrated, more prosperous and therefore less alienated than Muslims living in Western Europe, where the "homegrown" threat is significant and rising

•Muslim culture and the Islamic faith are not widely understood within the Western world

•Our adversaries use terror tactics to target both the physical and psychological well-being of our populace


• The Secretary should establish an Office of Net Assessment to provide the Secretary with comprehensive analysis of future threats and US capabilities to meet those threats

•The Secretary should conduct a comprehensive, systematic, and regular examination - a Quadrennial Security Review - of all homeland security threats, assets, plans and strategies with a view toward long-term planning and modernization

•The Secretary should undertake, in conjunction with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), a comprehensive National Intelligence Estimate to address threats to the homeland

- A permanent Deputy National Intelligence Officer (DNIO) should be assigned to the National Intelligence Council; the DNIO position should rotate between the Department and the FBI.

- State and local input must drive the domestic component of the assessment, and must be continually updated


• Countering "home-grown" radicalization must be one of the Department's top priorities by using the Department's Radicalization and Engagement Working Group (REWG) to better understand the process - from sympathizer to activist to terrorist

•The Department must place a renewed emphasis on recruiting professionals of all types with diverse perspectives, worldviews, skills, languages, and cultural backgrounds and expertise

•The Department should work with subject matter experts to ensure that the lexicon used within public statements is clear, precise and does not play into the hands of the extremists


• Broader avenues of dialogue with the Muslim community should be identified and pursued by the Department to foster mutual respect and understanding, and ultimately trust

•Local communities should take the lead on developing and implementing Muslim outreach programs. DHS should encourage such outreach efforts and facilitate the sharing of best practices

•The Secretary should work directly with state, local, and community leaders to educate them on the threat of radicalization, the necessity of taking preventative action at the local level, and to facilitate the sharing of other nation's and communities' best practices


• The Department should move immediately to implement the recommendations contained in earlier HSAC reports on information sharing, including:

- resolving issues such as classification of information; and

- ensuring that appropriate resources and standards are in place to ensure consistency and adequacy in analytical training and capabilities in fusion centers around the country

•The Department should develop and immediate implement, in concert with the Department of Justice and state and local corrections officials, a program to address prisoner radicalization and post-sentence reintegration


• The Department must use all avenues of international cooperation and instruments of statecraft to boost existing and form new partnerships to foster and maintain a global network that permits among other things, robust intelligence and info permits, information sharing

•The Department should partner with the media and educational institutions to engage the public in prevention and response efforts -developing consistent, accurate, realistic, persuasive and actionable messages as well as evidence-based strategies for communicating the same

•Consider naming the Secretary of Homeland Security to the National Security Council in order to fully integrate national security with homeland security

Task Force Members

• Lee Hamilton, Director, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Task Force Chair)
•Frank Cilluffo, Associate Vice President for Homeland Security, GWU (Task Force Vice-Chair)
•Kathleen Bader, Textron Inc., Board Member
•Elliott Broidy, Chairman and CEO, Broidy Capital Management
•Dr. Roxy Cohen-Silver, Professor of Psychology, UC Irvine
•Dr. Ruth David, President and CEO, ANSER
•James Dunlap, President, Dunlap Consulting (Former OK State Senator)
•Thomas Foley, Partner, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, Feld LLP
•Steve Gross, President, BiNational Logistics LLC
•Glenda Hood, Chairman Glenda Hood Consulting (Former Secretary of State, State of Florida)
• Don Knabe, LA County Board of Supervisors
•John Magaw, Former under Secretary for Security, US DOT
•Patrick McCrory, Mayor, Charlotte, North Carolina
•Bill Parrish, Associate Professor, Homeland Security and Emergency Planning, VCU
•Mitt Romney, Former Governor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
•Jack Skolds, President, Exelon Energy Delivery and Exelon Generation
•Dr. Lydia Thomas, President and CEO, Mitretek Systems Inc.
•Houston Williams, Chairman and CEO, Pacific Network Supply Inc.
•Allan Zenowitz, Former Executive Officer, FEMA
•Judge William Webster, Partner, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP (HSAC Chair)
•James Schlesin er Chairman, Board of Trustees, The MITRE Corporation (HSgAd Vice-Chair)

Subject Matter Experts

• Javed Ali, Senior Intelligence Officer, DHS
•Sheriff Lee Baca, Los Angeles County, California
•Randy Beardsworth, Assistant Secretary for Strategic Plans
•Gina Bennett, Deputy National Intelligence Officer, Transnational Threats, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
•Chief William Bratton, Los Angeles Police Department
•Frank Buckley, Co-Anchor, KTLA Prime News, Los Angeles, California
•Sharon Cardash, Associate Director for Research and Education, Homeland Security Policy Institute, The George Washington University
•Sheriff Michael Carona, Orange County, California
•Joel Cohen Intelligence Liaison Officer, California, Department of Homeland Security
•Ambassador Henry Crumpton, Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Department of State
•Derek Dokter, Counselor, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Royal Embassy of the Netherlands
• Steven Emerson, Executive Director, The Investigative Project on Terrorism
•Eric Fagerholm, Acting Assistant Secretary for Strategic Plans, DHS
•Richard Gerding Counselor for Police and Judicial Affairs, Royal Embassy of the Netherlands
•Jim Guirard, TrueSpeak Institute
•Chris Hamilton, Senior Fellow Counterterrorism Studies, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
•Chief Jack Harris, Phoenix Policy Department
•Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Advisory to the President, Rand Corporation
•Brigadier General Yosef Kuperwasser, CST International
•Dr. Harvey Kushner, Chairman, Department of Criminal Justice, Long Island University
•Jan Lane, Deputy Director, Homeland Security Policy Institute, The George Washington University
•Tony Lord, First Secretary, Justice and Home Affairs, British Embassy
• David Low, National Intelligence Officer, Transnational Threats, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
•Simon Mustard, Counter Terrorism and Strategic Threats, Foreign and Security Policy Group, British Embassy
•Dr. Walid Phares, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
•Dennis Pluchinsky, George Mason University
•Peter Probst, Consultant
•Mark Randol, Director of Counterterrorism Plans, DHS
•Ambassador Dennis Richardson, Australian Embassy
•Dr. Joshua Sinai, Program Manager, The Analysis Corporation
•Robert Spencer, Director - Jihad Watch
•Dan Sutherland, Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, DHS
•Major General Israel Ziv, CST International

By Walid Phares on January 11, 2007 5:13 PM
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« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2007, 06:04:39 AM »
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« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2007, 11:00:23 PM »

I wasn't quite sure in which thread to put this one, so eenie meenie minie moe, here it goes:

I suppose depending on where one is starting, this is progress or regress , , ,
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« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2007, 11:40:07 AM »

This site is from some people who have changed their mind:

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« Reply #26 on: February 05, 2007, 01:42:33 AM »

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
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« Reply #27 on: February 16, 2007, 07:33:41 PM »

This is an old article, but well worth the read.
September 2002 | Special Report No. 93

Islam and Democracy
David Smock

 Download full PDF report

Democracy building remains an uphill struggle in most Muslim countries.
The explanation of why so many Muslim countries are not democratic has more to do with historical, political, cultural, and economic factors than with religious ones.
Nevertheless, many Muslim activists, using broad and sometimes crude notions of secularism and sovereignty, consider democracy to be the rule of humans as opposed to Islam, which is rule of God.
Scholars of Islam agree that the principle of shura, or consultative decision-making, is the source of democratic ethics in Islam. But a great deal more reflection is required to clarify the relationship of shura to democracy.
In establishing the compact of Medina, Prophet Muhammad demonstrated a democratic spirit quite unlike the authoritarian tendencies of many of those who claim to imitate him today. He chose to draw up a historically specific constitution based on the eternal and transcendent principles revealed to him but also sought the consent of all who would be affected by its implementation.
Conservative Muslims tend to view the western world's advocacy of human rights as a modern agenda by which the West hopes to establish its hegemony over the Muslim world, whereas reformist Muslims tend to be more receptive to new ideas, practices, and institutions. Reformists stress the need for continuity of basic Islamic traditions but believe that Islamic law (sharia) is historically conditioned and needs to be reinterpreted in light of the changing needs of modern society. Secular Muslims look to the experiences of the secular West as models in an effort to promote their countries' development.
Despite the degree to which human rights are suppressed in Muslim countries, two grassroots movements are struggling to change this situation. Women are beginning to effectively assert their rights, and in some countries young people are agitating against government oppression.
The United States has generally accepted the fiction that repression in the Muslim world is the best way to prevent Islamism from growing as a threat to the West and to U.S. interests.
Those countries that have weak civil society structures and authoritarian regimes are fertile ground for terrorists. If western countries want to suppress terror then they must foster civil society and support movements that bolster democratic trends within these repressive political systems.
The United States should: (a) increase substantially the amount of U.S. foreign assistance that is spent on promoting democracy in the Muslim world; (b) provide governments and key interest groups in Muslim societies with incentives to engage in democratic reforms; (c) take seriously the existing framework of multilateral agreements and treaties that bear on democratization, such as those in the field of human rights; and (d) promote regional accountability mechanisms.

 An election banner in the Spring 2000 Iranian elections reads: "Obtaining Women's Rights, Freedom of Thought, and Social Justice."
Photo courtesy Jon Alterman
Is it true, as some claim, that democracy is basically a western concept and ideology and therefore fundamentally at odds with the values and principles of Islam? If so, then the Muslim world, consisting of 55 countries populated by more than 1.4 billion people, is doomed to dictatorship and oppression. Moreover, Muslims would have to choose between their religion and democracy. In introducing the discussion, Radwan Masmoudi asserted that there is no inherent contradiction between Islam and democracy and that democratic ideals and principles are also Islam's ideals and principles. Thus, the explanation of why so many Muslim countries are not democratic lies in historical, political, cultural, and economic factors, not religious ones. "Not only must we understand these reasons, but we must also find out what needs to be done to correct this situation. What can we as Americans and especially as American Muslims do to promote democratization in Muslim countries?"

U.S. administrations have generally chosen to build strong ties with those regimes in Muslim countries that seem to support American interests, ignoring their records on human rights, accountability, and democracy. "We have been content to support dictators in the Muslim world, as long as they are allies and do what we want them to do. What are the implications of this policy for the Muslim world? Could this policy lead to the growth of political extremism, political violence, and anti-Americanism?" asked Masmoudi. If we want to change our policy and promote democratization in the Muslim world, can we do it without destabilizing the region and allowing extremist groups to come to power? Do we have to choose between democracy and stability? Or is there a way to promote democratization without causing havoc and anarchy?

While these issues have been asked for many years, they have taken on new significance since September 11. Particularly important is the question of whether the lack of democracy in Muslim states has provided fertile ground for the recruitment of supporters for al Qaeda and other extremist groups. Moreover, has the growth of Islamic extremism reduced the likelihood that democracy and Islam can co-exist?

The Problem of Democracy in the Muslim World
Democracy building remains an uphill struggle in most Muslim countries, asserted Laith Kubba. Progress in liberalizing societies, modernizing institutions, and developing infrastructures is generally slow and limited. Worldwide democratic trends have in most cases failed to transform authoritarian and patriarchal political cultures in Muslim countries. Military officers, westernized elites, and tribal/traditional leaders usually keep a monopoly over state power. The weakness of democracy in many Muslim countries is also evident in the many indicators used by western institutions to measure the extent of openness of states and societies. This is most evident in political violence, violations of human rights, and abuse of public office.

Most Muslim countries are at an impasse. Dysfunctional, corrupt, repressive states are neither willing nor capable of reform. Apathy and despair breed radicalism. The failure of secular politics in Muslim countries provides fertile ground for the rise of political Islam. Moderation of Islamic political movements is closely linked to inclusion in the political process, while radicalization is linked to repression and exclusion.

Most Muslim countries, like others in the developing world, are driven by deep needs and a passionate quest for modernity, development, and dignity, Kubba said. For the past several decades, their vision of a better future was anchored in a simple version of a strong central state with a top-down reform approach. That vision was thought to be more likely to succeed than democracy, which offered a complex, multi-institutional participatory system anchored in individualism and liberal values.

Failure of strong secular states to meet the increasing demands of newly educated societies led to soul searching for alternatives. Following the 1979 revolution in Iran, social and political groups became aware of the power of religion in mobilizing public support. Islam, whose ownership, interpretation, and use are open to all, continues to be dragged into the arena as a sharp instrument that may be used by the ruler and opposition alike, by the modernists and conservatives alike, and by groups on the left or right of the political spectrum. Various Islamic groups agree on favoring Islam over secularism but differ on their leanings toward democracy or authoritarianism.

Over the past two decades, as the communist development model failed and models of both secular and Islamic governance failed to deliver solutions to growing social and economic needs, Muslim intellectuals started to advocate democracy and human rights. They did so not only to achieve modernity, development, and dignity, but also to ensure a better practice of Islam.

In Kubba's view the key to understanding the root cause of the democracy predicament in Muslim countries does not lie in the text or in the tradition of Islam but in the context of modernity, politics, and culture. The rather arbitrary use of the term Islamic to describe states, regions, and even people adds to the confusion and blurs the real issues. Although a solution may require addressing Islam and its interpretations, the basic issue is not about Islam but about Muslims. It is not about religion but about modernity. Islam is only one element in the history and culture of the 55 Muslim nations in more than eight distinct regions. Their cultures are influenced to widely varying degrees by the traditions and values of Islam. They are as diverse as the cultures of predominantly Christian nations from Latin America to the Philippines.

Despite the rather bleak situation at present, Kubba noted that there are grounds for hope. Education is having a significant impact. In addition, there are strong pressures toward liberalization, both because the media continuously provide alternative models from other countries and because states in the Muslim world can no longer function without fundamental structural reforms and without more effective partnerships being developed between the government and the governed. "Looking ahead, I am an optimist. We need to watch the discourse taking place among Muslim intellectuals by which they are bringing about authentic Islamic interpretation of how they should govern themselves in modern societies. I have a lot of faith that this debate will lead to democracy and to full recognition of human rights, but it will come with local language and interpretation and it will be approached from a totally different perspective than we are accustomed to in the West."

Compatibility of Islam and Democracy
In considering the compatibility of Islam and democracy, Muqtedar Khan noted, one must recognize that it is false to claim that there is no democracy in the Muslim world. At least 750 million Muslims live in democratic societies of one kind or another, including Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Europe, North America, Israel, and even Iran. Moreover, there is little historical precedent for mullahs controlling political power. One exception is Iran since the revolution in 1979 and the other is the Taliban in Afghanistan. For the preceding 1500 years since the advent of Islam, secular political elites have controlled political power.

Two extremely different groups, one from the West and one from the Muslim world, have been arguing that Islam and democracy are incompatible. On the one hand, Khan pointed out, some western scholars and ideologues have tried to present Islam as anti-democratic and inherently authoritarian. By misrepresenting Islam in this way they seek to prove that Islam has a set of values inferior to western liberalism and is a barrier to the global progress of civilization. This misconception also promotes Israel's claim to be the sole democracy in the Middle East.

On the other hand, many Muslim activists, using broad and sometimes crude notions of secularism and sovereignty, consider democracy to be the rule of humans as opposed to Islam, which is rule of God. Those who reject democracy falsely assume that secularism and democracy are necessarily connected. But secularism is not a prerequisite for democracy; religion can play a significant role in democratic politics, as it does in the United States.

As Khan noted, Muslim scholars agree that the principle of shura is the source of democratic ethics in Islam. While there is considerable truth in this claim, one must also recognize the differences between shura and democracy before one can advance an Islamic conception of democracy based on shura. Shura is basically a consultative decision-making process that is considered either obligatory or desirable by different scholars. Those who choose to emphasize the Quranic verse "and consult with them on the matter" (3:159) consider shura as obligatory, but those who emphasize the verse praising "those who conduct their affairs by counsel" (43:38) consider shura as merely desirable. There is no doubt that shura is the Islamic way of making decisions, but is it obligatory? Does a government that does not implement a consultative process become illegitimate? We do not have decisive answers to those questions.

More and more Muslim intellectuals agree that consultative and consensual governance is best. Jurists, however, are more doubtful or ambivalent. Many jurists depend on non-consultative bodies for their livelihood and are in no hurry to deprive themselves of the privileges that non-consultative governments extend to them. But even if shura is considered supportive of democratic process, the two are not identical, Khan asserted. What is clear is that a great deal more reflection is required among leading Muslim thinkers about the nature of shura and its relationship to democracy, as well as other Islamic principles that relate to democratic practice.

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« Reply #28 on: February 16, 2007, 07:35:31 PM »

As Khan pointed out, the rise of political Islam has made the concept of Islamic sovereignty central to Islamic political theory and that concept is often presented as a barrier to any form of democracy. The Quranic concept of sovereignty is universal (that is nonterritorial), transcendental (beyond human agency), indivisible, inalienable, and truly absolute. God the sovereign is the primary law-giver, while agents such as the Islamic state and the Khalifa (God's agents on earth) enjoy marginal autonomy necessary to implement and enforce the laws of their sovereign. At the theoretical level, the difference between the modern and Islamic conceptions of sovereignty is clear. But operational implications tend to blur the distinction.

Democracies are seen by some Muslim activists as systems in which human whim is the source of law, whereas Islamic principles are transcendental and cannot be undermined by popular whim. But what many of them fail to understand is that democratic institutions are not just about law. They are also about prevention of tyranny by the state. Regardless of where sovereignty is placed theoretically, in practice it is the state which exercises it and not God. Even though God was supposedly sovereign in Taliban's Afghanistan, it was in fact the Taliban that was sovereign there; Mullah Omar ruled, not God. Sovereignty in fact is always human, whether in a democracy or an Islamic state. The issue is not whether people are sovereign, but how to limit the de facto sovereignty of people, since they reign under both systems. Democracy with its principles of limited government, public accountability, checks and balances, separation of powers, and transparency does succeed in limiting human sovereignty. The Muslim world, plagued by despots, dictators, and self-regarding monarchs, badly needs the limitation of human sovereignty, Khan argued. Many Muslim activists also fail to recognize that Islamic governance is interpreted differently by different Islamic scholars, and hence is not nearly as immutable as they contend.

While sovereignty belongs to God, it has been delegated in the form of human agency (2:30). The political task is to reflect on how this God-given agency can be best employed in creating a society that will bring welfare and goodness to the population both now and in the future. God is sovereign in all affairs, but God has exercised sovereignty by delegating some of it in the form of human agency. God cannot become an excuse for installing and legitimizing governments that are not accountable to their citizens and responsive to their needs.

Khan described a precedent set by Prophet Muhammad that demonstrates how democratic practices and theories are compatible with an Islamic state. This is the compact of Medina, referred to by some scholars as Dustur al-Madina (the Constitution of Medina). After Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Yathrib in 622 CE, he established the first Islamic state. For 10 years he was not only the leader of the emerging Muslim ummah (community) in Arabia but also the political head of Medina. He ruled as political head as a result of the tripartite compact that was signed by the Muslim immigrants from Mecca, the indigenous Muslims of Medina, and, significantly, the Jews of Medina. Although the Medina compact cannot serve as a modern constitution, it can serve as a guiding principle.

The compact of Medina also illustrates, Khan pointed out, the proper relationship between divine revelation and a constitution. Muhammad, if he so wished, could have merely indicated that the truth revealed by God would serve as the constitution and forced this revelation upon both the Muslim and non-Muslim residents of Medina. Demonstrating instead a democratic spirit quite unlike the authoritarian tendencies of many of those who claim to imitate him today, Muhammad chose to draw up a historically specific constitution based on the eternal and transcendent principles revealed to him but also sought the consent of all who would be affected by its implementation. Thus, the first Islamic state was based on a social contract, was constitutional in character, and had a ruler who ruled with the explicit written consent of all the citizens of the state. Today, Khan argued, Muslims need to emulate Muhammad and draw up their own constitutions in a manner that is both appropriate for their specific circumstances as well as based on eternal principles.

The constitution of Medina established the importance of consent and cooperation for governance. According to this compact, Muslims and non-Muslims were equal citizens of the Islamic state, with identical rights and duties. Communities with different religious orientations enjoyed religious autonomy. The constitution of Medina established a pluralistic state—a community of communities. The principles of equality, consensual governance, and pluralism were central to the compact of Medina. Khan noted that it is amazing to see how Muhammad's interpretation of the Quran was so democratic, tolerant, and compassionate, while some contemporary interpretations, like that of the Taliban, are so harsh, authoritarian, and intolerant.

Islam and Human Rights
Muslim views on human rights can be grouped into three broad categories, according to Mahmood Monshipouri. The first group is Muslim conservatives. They tend to look to both the classical and medieval periods for inspiration. Conservatives adopt a communitarian view that sees the individual as part of the community, to which he or she owes certain obligations. Conservatives' emphasis on drawing boundaries around the community is expressed not only in stipulations about dress for women (hijab) and the repression of women's sexuality, but also in the proclamation of a different way of life and of a transformation of mind by bringing the faithful back to the proper practice of the faith and tradition.

These conservatives tend to view the western world's advocacy of human rights as a mechanism by which the West hopes to establish its hegemony over the Muslim world. They have vehemently objected to several articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), including Articles 16 and 18, which deal with equality of marriage rights and freedom to change one's religion or belief. They also object to the provisions on women's rights, questioning the equality of gender roles and obligations. Islam, they argue, prohibits the marriage of a Muslim woman to a non-Muslim man. Apostasy (ridda) is forbidden and is punishable by death.

Muslim conservatives challenge the idea of natural reason as an independent source of ethical knowledge. According to conservatives, following past traditions (taqlid) and returning to established norms in times of crisis are two cardinal rules of Islamic orthodoxy. Among the most prominent of the conservative leadership advocating these positions are such scholars as Sayyid Abu al-A'la al-Maududi (1903­79), Hassan al-Banna (1906­49), Sayyid Qutb (1906­66), and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902­89).

Muslim reformists or neomodernists, in contrast, are more receptive to non-Islamic ideas, practices, and institutions, according to Monshipouri. They argue that material progress is necessary to bring about human and economic transformation within an Islamic framework. They stress the need for the continuity of basic Islamic principles but believe that Islamic law (sharia) is historically conditioned and needs to be reinterpreted in light of the changing needs of modern society.

A comparison between two reformist positions helps explain the contending perspectives within this camp. Some reformists have argued that what conservatives call divine law in reality only reflects the interpretation of a few specialists. Abdolkarim Soroush, an Iranian philosopher, has argued that "divine legislation in Islam is said to have been discovered by a few and those discoverers think that they have privileged access to the interpretation of this law" (Soroush and Charles Butterworth at the Middle East Institute, November 21, 2000, "Islamic Democracy and Islamic Governance," Having questioned the monopoly over interpretation by one group or class, Soroush argues the need for a dialogical pluralism between those inside and outside of religious intellectual fields. Human rights, according to Soroush, lie outside religion and are not solely intrareligious arguments based on jurisprudence (fiqh). Rather, they belong to the domain of philosophical theology (kalam) and philosophy in general (Reason, Freedom, and Democracy in Islam: Essential Writings of Abdolkarim Soroush, ed. Mahmoud Sadri and Ahman Sadri, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 128­129). Some values, he argues, cannot be derived from religion. Human rights is the case in point. The language of religion and religious law is essentially the language of duties, not rights.

Sheikh Rached al-Ghannouchi, leader of the Tunisian An-Nahda political party, articulates a different vision and rationale for reform. For Ghannouchi, the central question is how to free the Muslim community from backwardness and dependence on the "Other." Reconciling Islam and modernity, according to Ghannouchi, involves introduction of democracy and freedom, both of which are consistent with Islamic principles. The community not the individual remains the ultimate reality, and democracy and freedom of thought are tools that Muslims should use to achieve their community's goals and defend its interests (Abdou Filali-Ansary, "Islam and Liberal Democracy: The Challenge of Secularization," Journal of Democracy, vol. 7, no. 2, 1996, pp. 76­80).

The third group, according to Monshipouri, are the Muslim secularists. Secular Muslims look to the experiences of the secular West as guiding models in an effort to promote their country's development. Secularists often support policies and programs that are grounded in pragmatic considerations. Muslim secularists are reluctant to replace secular laws with sharia. To secularists, Islamic practices such as shura and bay'a (a binding agreement that holds rulers to certain standards and governs relations between rulers and the ruled) have failed to support individual political participation and to provide a basis for democratic accountability by governments. Secular rule is the prevailing pattern in the Muslim world; with the exception of Iran since 1979, Sudan since 1989, and Afghanistan under the Taliban, the Muslim world is ruled by secular regimes.

The Muslim world is indeed in uncertain transition, with its youth facing cultural disorientation and its political scene dominated by internal power struggles. The greatest threats to human rights in the Muslim world are not religious or theological but political. In a globalizing world, concern has been expressed about whether Muslims will lose the ability to control their own economies, power, and cultural assets. Many in the Muslim world, however, see hope in such a globalizing world. The youth, women's organizations, the press, intellectuals, and Islamic reformers all see great opportunities, especially if they become part of the global civil society.

The biggest question is how to adopt new ideas and policies while maintaining religious and cultural integrity. Monshipouri argues that to maintain such a balance, the Muslim world's elites, scholars, and activists must interpret Islamic values and social norms in a manner consistent with modern and internationally recognized human rights. The western world must treat Muslim masses as partners in the struggle against human rights abuses, while helping to empower reformist voices and civil society.

Despite the degree to which human rights are suppressed in Muslim countries, two grassroots movements are struggling to change this situation. The first is the women's movement and the second is the youth movement. Over the long term they can have enormous impact on human rights in these countries. Women are beginning to effectively assert their rights, and in some countries young people are agitating against governmental oppression and corruption.

Monshipouri concluded his presentation by making three points. First, the greatest threat to human rights in the Muslim world comes not from Islam but from economic, political, and educational forces. Second, human rights struggles in the Muslim world will be lost or won on the national level, not on the international level; it is up to Muslims themselves to decide how much respect to accord human rights. Third, those countries that have weak civil society structures and authoritarian regimes are fertile ground for terrorism. If western countries want to suppress terror then they have to foster civil society and support those movements that express dissenting voices within these repressive political systems. Western countries can also apply economic and political pressure on these authoritarian regimes to encourage fundamental change.

What Can the United States Do?
Neil Hicks noted that while the shortcomings in human rights and democratization of many U.S. allies in the region have been noted in official statements, particularly in the U.S. State Department's annual country reports on human rights practices, policy has tended toward the preservation of the status quo for fear of what might replace it. In the Arab world especially, authoritarian leaders have traded on their self-proclaimed status as bulwarks against Islamic extremism.

For the most part, the United States went along with the fiction that repression in the Muslim world was the best way to prevent Islamism from growing as a threat to the West and to U.S. vital interests. In the name of confronting radical Islam, Hicks said, basic rights and freedoms were virtually extinguished in Tunisia and severely curtailed in Egypt. In Turkey, Malaysia, and Algeria, authoritarian regimes employed anti-democratic measures to suppress Islamic movements that were gaining popular support.

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« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2007, 07:37:39 PM »

The greatest casualties of this broad-brush repression were basic values of tolerance, political pluralism, and free speech that are essential to democracy. The institutions of democracy, like an independent judiciary, free political parties, civil society, and the separation of powers, were undermined. On realizing that the non-violent, democratic path to power or reform was blocked, some felt vindicated in embracing violence as the only way of bringing about change. Polarization, extremism, and political violence all flourished. It is worth mentioning that liberal, pluralistic forms of political Islam have been a particular casualty of this unpromising political climate. On the one hand, they have been subjected to repression by state authorities as undesirable expressions of political dissent. On the other, they have been marginalized by some within the political Islamic movement itself for being utopian and ineffectual.

At the same time as many U.S. allies in the region were stifling democracy (with only token criticism at best from the West), the United States strongly criticized its foes in the region as enemies of democracy and human rights. There is no doubt that the governments of Iran and Sudan and that of the Taliban in Afghanistan were richly deserving of such criticisms, but the violations of human rights perpetrated by these regimes in particular were added to the indictment against Islamism in general. The mostly unspoken accepted wisdom became that U.S. allies in Egypt, Jordan, or Tunisia may have their failings, but we have to choose between them and the Iranian mullahs, the Taliban, and Sudan's National Islamic Front, and that choice is easily made. Human rights also became a vehicle for criticizing other regional foes like Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Hicks asserted that many people in the Muslim world and elsewhere quickly recognized a double standard in U.S. advocacy of human rights and democracy in the region. If the United States is so critical of Iran for not better protecting women's rights, then why is it silent about the abject situation of women in Saudi Arabia? If the Iraqi people deserve to choose their own leaders, then what about the Egyptian people or the Tunisian people? In Afghanistan, the United States was willing to cooperate with the mujahedin, and to call them freedom fighters, during the conflict with the Soviet Union, even though their commitment to democracy was virtually non-existent, Hicks pointed out.

There has been a glaring contradiction between U.S. rhetoric supporting democracy and human rights, on the one hand, and a policy that held major violators of human rights like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to be key strategic allies while at the same time condoning repression by other allies, like Egypt, on the other hand. The perception of double standards was exacerbated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where many Muslim observers thought that Israel was allowed to disregard international law with impunity, whereas Muslim states like Iraq or Libya could be subjected to international sanctions or even armed intervention for their departures from international norms.

U.S. policy, Hicks continued, recognized the importance to regional stability and political development of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first Bush administration and the Clinton administration expended considerable effort in promoting the Madrid process and then the Oslo process. However, even these well-intentioned initiatives, especially in the middle and later phases of the Oslo process, had negative repercussions for democratization in the region. Supporting the "peace process" became an article of faith and the main goal of U.S. policy in the Arab world. Dissent from this orthodoxy was regarded as unhelpful by the United States. U.S. allies claimed that they were taking great political risks for peace by going against the views of their people, and this assertion was generally accepted. U.S. policy did not seem to question what was creating this public mood that was supposedly hostile to peace with Israel and whether more repression was the way to deal with it. In fact, many U.S. allies were fanning the flames of anti-Israeli sentiment and exploiting such feelings as a distraction from domestic problems and as another reason to keep the lid on political dissent.

Out of this morass of contradictions and double standards it is not surprising that some hostility toward U.S. policy developed, and some skepticism about the values the United States claimed to espouse. Indeed, some in the Muslim world expressed open hostility toward democracy and human rights as alien western values, and found an enthusiastic audience in doing so. Hicks asserted that this hostility is largely a reaction to the use to which such values had been put by cynical authoritarian governments and by the West, rather than a lack of identification with common values of justice and human dignity. Unfortunately, a kind of self-fulfilling stereotyping of Muslim attitudes to human rights and democracy has developed, partly as a result of the disaffection expressed by many in the Muslim world towards "democracy" and "human rights" as they have experienced them in practice.

What can be done? Hicks noted that promoting democracy abroad is not something new for the U.S. government, even if there has been less of it in the Muslim world than elsewhere. There are lessons to be drawn from Eastern Europe and Latin America, regions where democratic advances since the end of the Cold War are discernible, and from the former Soviet Union and parts of Africa, where signs of progress are often less apparent. Perhaps the most important lesson is that there is no single prescription that will ensure a transition to democracy. Local conditions vary enormously. In the vast and diverse Muslim world it will be necessary for the U.S. government to develop country-specific plans to promote democracy.

Hicks then offered four recommendations:

Increase substantially both the proportion and the amount of U.S. foreign assistance that is spent on promoting democracy in the Muslim world. It is important to note that simply spending more is not a solution by itself. We can learn from the example of U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt, which has remained at high levels even while foreign aid budgets elsewhere were evaporating. In Egypt the United States has funded democratization projects and supplied hundreds of millions of dollars of other civilian assistance while, by any measure, democratic freedoms have contracted. To succeed the United States must demand accountability from the recipient governments. The question then becomes, is the United States willing to have a more adversarial relationship with regional leaders, and perhaps to see some of them overthrown, as part of the messy process of promoting democracy? These leaders, after all, are valued because they are seen as assisting in the protection of vital U.S. national interests.
Provide governments and other key interest groups in Muslim societies with incentives to encourage democratic reforms. A major commitment to foreign assistance to the Muslim world by the U.S. government would provide an attractive incentive to recipient governments to embark on the path to reform. Foreign assistance should be linked to clear progress in strengthening institutions of accountability. Here domestic interest groups independent of existing power elites take on a particular importance, because existing leaders typically have little interest in diluting their own privileges. When providing foreign assistance, the U.S. government must insist that there be a free press, that the judiciary be independent, and that civil society organizations operate free from governmental interference.
Incentives should come not in the form of aid alone, which inevitably has some patronizing connotations. Real partnerships, especially in the field of trade, but also in a host of other areas, including cultural and educational ones, are also important. The positive impact on democratic reforms of Turkey's accession process to the European Union is a good case in point. Because many sectors of Turkish society anticipate benefits from EU membership, there has been a considerable groundswell of support for the stringent reforms required by the European Commission. The process of change has been and is painful to many entrenched interests. Nevertheless, the business community has put pressure on the government to press forward with political as well as economic reforms. Business elites in other Muslim states, who recognize the benefits of participating in the global marketplace, and who also recognize that the price of entry is compliance with international standards, are a largely untapped resource for democratic change.
Take seriously the existing framework of multilateral agreements and treaties that bear on democratization, such as those in the field of human rights. Since there is skepticism over the U.S. government's motives in promoting democracy in the Muslim world, it is wise to disarm doubters by embracing multilateral approaches with like-minded governments wherever possible. Treaty bodies within UN human rights mechanisms—like the Human Rights Committee and the Committee Against Torture, which oversee state compliance with treaties like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture and other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment—are highly regarded for the integrity of the work of their members, who sit as independent experts. Their work is often favorably compared to the politicized machinations of the UN Human Rights Commission, for example. Yet these effective bodies are chronically underfunded. Members operate with little or no research support and their findings are virtually unknown beyond the world of human rights specialists. It would surely be a sound investment for the U.S. government to lend its financial and political support to the work of these under-appreciated institutions.
Promote regional accountability mechanisms. The Muslim world is lacking in regional accountability mechanisms. The great virtue of such mechanisms is that they cannot be accused of being alien or inauthentic because they are of the region over which they exercise jurisdiction. Again, Turkey provides an example of the merits of such mechanisms. One of the reasons for Turkey's advantage over other Muslim states in its progress towards democratization is its longstanding participation in the human rights mechanisms of the Council of Europe, especially its acceptance of the right of individual citizens to petition the European Court of Human Rights and its agreement to be bound by the rulings of the court. The benefits go beyond the individual cases that have been heard before the court. Turkey's legal community and human rights organizations increasingly know and make use of the fact that there is a functioning mechanism for them to resort to in the face of state violations. The United States should make great efforts to promote effective regional mechanisms of accountability within existing regional institutions like the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States.
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« Reply #30 on: March 10, 2007, 10:01:42 PM »

Wall Street Journal

Free Radical
Ayaan Hirsi Ali infuriates Muslims and discomfits liberals.

Saturday, March 10, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

NEW YORK--Ayaan Hirsi Ali is untrammeled and unrepentant: "I am supposed to apologize for saying the prophet is a pervert and a tyrant," she declares. "But that is apologizing for the truth."

Statements such as these have brought Ms. Hirsi Ali to world-wide attention. Though she recently left her adopted country, Holland--where her friend and intellectual collaborator Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004--she is still accompanied by armed guards wherever she travels.

Ms. Hirsi Ali was born in 1969 in Mogadishu--into, as she puts it, "the Islamic civilization, as far as you can call it a civilization." In 1992, at age 22, her family gave her hand to a distant relative; had the marriage ensued, she says, it would have been "an arranged rape." But as she was shipped to the appointment via Europe, she fled, obtaining asylum in Holland. There, "through observation, through experience, through reading," she acquainted herself with a different world. "The culture that I came to and I live in now is not perfect," Ms. Hirsi Ali says. "But this culture, the West, the product of the Enlightenment, is the best humanity has ever achieved."

Unease over Muslim immigration had been rising in the Low Countries for some time. For instance, when the gay right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn--"I am in favor of a cold war with Islam," he said, and believed the borders should be closed to Muslims--was gunned down in 2002, it was widely assumed his killer was an Islamist. There was a strange sense of relief when he turned out to be a mere animal-rights activist. Ms. Hirsi Ali brought integration issues to further attention, exposing domestic abuse and even honor killings in the Dutch-Muslim "dish cities."

In 2003, she won a seat in the parliament as a member of the center-right VVD Party, for People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. The next year, she wrote the script for a short film called "Submission." It investigated passages from the Quran that Ms. Hirsi Ali contends authorize violence against women, and did so by projecting those passages onto naked female bodies. In retrospect, she deeply regrets the outcome: "I don't think the film was worth the human life."

The life in question was that of Van Gogh, a prominent controversialist and the film's director. At the end of 2004, an Islamist named Mohammed Buyeri shot him as he was bicycling to work in downtown Amsterdam, then almost decapitated him with a curved sword. He left a manifesto impaled to the body: "I know for sure that you, Oh Hirsi Ali, will go down," was its incantation. "I know for sure that you, Oh unbelieving fundamentalist, will go down."

The shock was palpable. Holland--which has the second largest per capita population of Muslims in the EU, after France--had always prided itself on its pluralism, in which all groups would be tolerated but not integrated. The killing made clear just how apart its groups were. "Immediately after the murder," Ms. Hirsi Ali says, "we learned Theo's killer had access to education, he had learned the language, he had taken welfare. He made it very clear he knew what democracy meant, he knew what liberalism was, and he consciously rejected it. . . . He said, 'I have an alternative framework. It's Islam. It's the Quran.' "

At his sentencing, Mohammed Buyeri said he would have killed his own brother, had he made "Submission" or otherwise insulted the One True Faith. "And why?" Ms. Hirsi Ali asks. "Because he said his god ordered him to do it. . . . We need to see," she continues, "that this isn't something that's caused by special offense, the right, Jews, poverty. It's religion."

Ms. Hirsi Ali was forced into living underground; a hard-line VVD minister named Rita Verdonk, cracking down on immigration, canceled her citizenship for misstatements made on her asylum application--which Ms. Hirsi Ali had admitted years before and justified as a means to win quicker admission at a time of great personal vulnerability. The resulting controversy led to the collapse of Holland's coalition government. Ms. Hirsi Ali has since decamped for America--in effect a political refugee from Western Europe--to take up a position with the American Enterprise Institute. But the crisis, she says, is "still simmering underneath and it might erupt--somewhere, anywhere."
That partly explains why Ms. Hirsi Ali's new autobiography, "Infidel," is already a best seller. It may also have something to do with the way she scrambles our expectations. In person, she is modest, graceful, enthralling. Intellectually, she is fierce, even predatory: "We know exactly what it is about but we don't have the guts to say it out loud," she says. "We are too weak to take up our role. The West is falling apart. The open society is coming undone."

Many liberals loathe her for disrupting an imagined "diversity" consensus: It is absurd, she argues, to pretend that cultures are all equal, or all equally desirable. But conservatives, and others, might be reasonably unnerved by her dim view of religion. She does not believe that Islam has been "hijacked" by fanatics, but that fanaticism is intrinsic in Islam itself: "Islam, even Islam in its nonviolent form, is dangerous."

The Muslim faith has many variations, but Ms. Hirsi Ali contends that the unities are of greater significance. "Islam has a very consistent doctrine," she says, "and I define Islam as I was taught to define it: submission to the will of Allah. His will is written in the Quran, and in the hadith and Sunna. What we are all taught is that when you want to make a distinction between right and wrong, you follow the prophet. Muhammad is the model guide for every Muslim through time, throughout history."

This supposition justifies, in her view, a withering critique of Islam's most holy human messenger. "You start by scrutinizing the morality of the prophet," and then ask: "Are you prepared to follow the morality of the prophet in a society such as this one?" She draws a connection between Mohammed's taking of child brides and modern sexual oppressions--what she calls "this imprisonment of women." She decries the murder of adulteresses and rape victims, the wearing of the veil, arranged marriages, domestic violence, genital mutilation and other contraventions of "the most basic freedoms."

These sufferings, she maintains, are traceable to theological imperatives. "People say it is a bad strategy," Ms. Hirsi Ali says forcefully. "I think it is the best strategy. . . . Muslims must choose to follow their rational capacities as humans and to follow reason instead of Quranic commands. At that point Islam will be reformed."

This worldview has led certain critics to dismiss Ms. Hirsi Ali as a secular extremist. "I have my ideas and my views," she says, "and I want to argue them. It is our obligation to look at things critically." As to the charges that she is an "Enlightenment fundamentalist," she points out, rightly, that people who live in democratic societies are not supposed to settle their disagreements by killing one another.

And yet contemporary democracies, she says, accommodate the incitement of such behavior: "The multiculturalism theology, like all theologies, is cruel, is wrongheaded, and is unarguable because it is an utter dogmatism. . . . Minorities are exempted from the obligations of the rest of society, so they don't improve. . . . With this theory you limit them, you freeze their culture, you keep them in place."

The most grievous failing of the West is self-congratulatory passivity: We face "an external enemy that to a degree has become an internal enemy, that has infiltrated the system and wants to destroy it." She believes a more drastic reaction is required: "It's easy," she says, "to weigh liberties against the damage that can be done to society and decide to deny liberties. As it should be. A free society should be prepared to recognize the patterns in front of it, and do something about them."

She says the West must begin to think long term about its relationship with Islam--because the Islamists are. Ms. Hirsi Ali notes Muslim birth rates are vastly outstripping those elsewhere (particularly in Western Europe) and believes this is a conscious attempt to extend the faith. Muslims, she says, treat women as "these baby-machines, these son-factories. . . . We need to compete with this," she goes on. "It is a totalitarian method. The Nazis tried it using women as incubators, literally to give birth to soldiers. Islam is now doing it. . . . It is a very effective and very frightening way of dealing with human beings."

All of this is profoundly politically incorrect. But for this remarkable woman, ideas are not abstractions. She forces us back to first principles, and she punctures complacencies. These ought to be seen as virtues, even by those who find some of Ms. Hirsi Ali's ideas disturbing or objectionable. Society, after all, sometimes needs to be roused from its slumbers by agitators who go too far so that others will go far enough.

Mr. Rago is an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal.
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« Reply #31 on: March 19, 2007, 05:28:08 PM »

A More Islamic Islam
By Geneive Abdo
Saturday, March 17, 2007; Page A19

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A small group of self-proclaimed secular Muslims from North America and elsewhere gathered in St. Petersburg recently for what they billed as a new global movement to correct the assumed wrongs of Islam and call for an Islamic Reformation.

Across the state in Fort Lauderdale, Muslim leaders from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Washington-based advocacy group whose members the "secular" Muslims claim are radicals, denounced any notion of a Reformation as another attempt by the West to impose its history and philosophy on the Islamic world.

The self-proclaimed secularists represent only a small minority of Muslims. The views among religious Muslims from CAIR more closely reflect the views of the majority, not only in the United States but worldwide. Yet Western media, governments and neoconservative pundits pay more attention to the secular minority.

The St. Petersburg convention is but one example: It was carried live on Glenn Beck's conservative CNN show. Some of the organizers and speakers at the convention are well known thanks to the media spotlight: Irshad Manji, author of "The Trouble With Islam," and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch parliamentarian and author of "Infidel," were but a few there claiming to have suffered personally at the hands of "radical" Islam. One participant, Wafa Sultan, declared on Glenn Beck's show that she doesn't "see any difference between radical Islam and regular Islam."

The secular Muslim agenda is promoted because these ideas reflect a Western vision for the future of Islam. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, everyone from high-ranking officials in the Bush administration to the author Salman Rushdie has prescribed a preferred remedy for Islam: Reform the faith so it is imbued with Western values -- the privatization of religion, the flourishing of Western-style democracy -- and rulers who are secular, not religious, Muslims. The problem with this prescription is that it is divorced from reality. It is built upon the principle that if Muslims are fed a steady diet of Western influence, they, too, will embrace modernity, secularism and everything else the West has to offer.

Consider the facts: Islamic revivalism has spread across the globe in the past 30 years from the Middle East to parts of Africa. In Egypt, it is hard to find a woman on the street who does not wear a headscarf. Islamic political groups and movements are on the rise -- from Hezbollah in Lebanon, to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Even in the United States, more and more American Muslims, particularly the young, are embracing Islam and religious symbolism in ways their more secular, immigrant parents did not.

I traveled to Florida to serve as the keynote speaker at an annual convention hosted by CAIR. On my way to the event, I spoke with Imam Siraj Wahaj, a charismatic intellectual from the Masjid Al-Taqwa in Brooklyn who has thousands of followers here and abroad. His words summarized the aspirations of mainstream Muslims in the United States and around the globe: "What we need to do is borrow those attributes from the West that we admire and reject those that we don't. That is the wave of the future."
Already, signs support Imam Wahaj's words. Muslims living in the West and those in the Islamic world are searching for this middle ground -- one that fuses aspects of globalization with the Islamic tradition. For example, Muslim women have far greater access to higher education today than ever before. In Iran, there are more women than men in universities, a first in the country's history. But as increasing numbers of Muslim women become more educated, majorities are becoming more religious while also taking part in what are called Islamic feminist movements, which stretch from Egypt to Turkey and Morocco.

These women, who often wear headscarves to express their religiosity, have found this gray area between modernity and traditionalism. They are fighting for more rights to participate in politics and greater equality in "personal status" laws -- the right to gain custody of children or to initiate divorce -- but also view Islam as their moral compass.

Similarly, the political future of the Arab world is likely to consist of Islamic parties that are far less tolerant of what has historically been the U.S. foreign policy agenda in the region and that domestically are far more committed to implementing sharia law in varying degrees.

In Europe and the United States, where Muslims have maximum exposure to Western culture, they are increasingly embracing Islamic values. In Britain, a growing number of Muslims advocate creating a court system based upon Islamic principles.
What all this means is that Western hopes for full integration by Muslims in the West are unlikely to be realized and that the future of the Islamic world will be much more Islamic than Western.

Instead of championing the loud voices of the secular minority who are capturing media attention with their conferences, manifestos and memoirs, the United States would be wise instead to pay more attention to the far less loquacious majority.
Geneive Abdo is the author of "Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11."
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« Reply #32 on: March 21, 2007, 04:11:13 AM »

Mar 19, 20:19
Why Geneive Abdo is Right and The Muslim Brotherhood Is Dangerous

Two disturbing writing receiving widespread circulation in recent day tell me a great deal about how many Muslims in the United States perceive themselves and why U.S. policy is so far, and dangerously off the mark in countering the threat of Islamists.

The first is a Washington Post op-ed” by Genieve Abdo, the keynote speaker at a recent CAIR conference. In the piece she lays out, more strongly and honestly than most of the CAIR leaders have dared to do, the true Islamist/CAIR agenda in the United States.

She essentially outlines the Muslim Brotherhood position against Islamic assimilation into the Western world and starkly states that Islamist really have no interest in such assimiliation.

“What all this means is that Western hopes for full integration by Muslims in the West are unlikely to be realized and that the future of the Islamic world will be much more Islamic than Western,” she writes. This is true as long as she, CAIR and other Islamist groups continue to preach to the new generation that the more alienated one is from our culture the closer to Allah they really are.

The truth is, Abdo, CAIR and the other stalking horses for the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Salafists want to create an Islamic nation here. There is no middle ground. Chilling as Abdo’s writing is, it is at least more honest than much of the “we just want to get along” paplum CAIR routinely puts out.

The second writing is in the recent article in Foreign Affairs by Robert Leiken and Steven Brookes, describing the Muslim Brotherhood as a moderate force that embraces democracy.

The article completely misses what the Ikhwan are, what they stand for and the multiple ties of many of its leaders to Islamist terrorism. It is a rather shocking piece of slipshod academic investigation that does a great disservice to the understanding of radical Islam, its origins and its supporters.

As Youssef Ibrahim, a true scholar of Islamic affairs noted in a response in the New York Sun, “Invariably, these reports reflect an eagerness to make a finding based on logic rather than on the facts at hand. In a twisted way, they are deeply condescending of Muslim terrorists who are declared acceptable just because some say they listen to classical music or read English literature, i.e., because they resemble some of their Westerninterlocutors.”

Ibrahim writes, and I couldn’t say it any better, so I will quote him: “Any true Middle East scholar will readily know (the Brotherhood) spawned the entire array of Muslim radical fundamentalist organizations operating today from the Philippines to the caves of Tora Bora. During a long history of mayhem, the Brotherhood leadership over decades has authorized, glorified, and praised jihad in its official literature. Not one of its leaders has ever renounced that violence. Indeed, in the Foreign Affairs essay, Mr. Leiken and his co-author assert that such violence is authorized but only in “countries and territories occupied by a foreign power.”

“This designation included killing Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Israelis in the Levant up to now, and, although the question was not asked of any of the “brothers” interviewed, Americans in Iraq.

“There was no need to ask the question. One of the most eminent leaders of the Ikhwan movement, who appears weekly on Al-Jazeera’s “Sharia and Life” program, is an Egyptian-born, Qatar-resident grand priest, Sheik Yusuf Al-Qardawi. He has specifically ruled that Americans in Iraq and Israelis everywhere should be targeted by suicide bombers, who will be considered martyrs and heroes. Sheik Qardawi was not interviewed for the article in question, even though he ranks among the top 10 leaders of the Ikhwan’s International ruling councils.”

Pretending the enemy is not the enemy is no way to come to terms with reality. One could reasonably conclude that one should talk to the Brotherhood based on what they really are, but not based on a completely ahistoric understanding of what they are or where they come from.

Sadly, this type of desire to Westernize and trivialize the Brotherhood and the jihadist world in general has led to the hesitancy and inability to decide whether we are at war or not, and if so, with whom. And so we are losing.
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« Reply #33 on: March 21, 2007, 11:28:44 AM »


That bit by Abdo caught my attention too and Douglas Farah's point about the Muslim Brotherhood raises profoundly challenging questions-- they profess seeking Islamic domination via democracy.  What is the best response to that?

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« Reply #34 on: March 21, 2007, 06:27:51 PM »

In a nutshell: Sunshine. The MB likes to pull strings from the shadows. They need to become as notorious and despised as the Klan.
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« Reply #35 on: March 25, 2007, 08:43:39 AM »

The 2007 Irving Kristol Lecture by Bernard LewisPosted: Tuesday, March 20, 2007SPEECHESAEI Annual Dinner, Irving Kristol Lecture (Washington) Publication Date: March 7, 2007
Lewis's Lecture

Thank you, Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, ladies and gentlemen. As you have been told, I have studied a number of languages, but I cannot find words in any of them adequate to express my feeling of gratitude for the honor and appreciation which I have been shown this evening. All I can say is thank you.

My topic this evening is Europe and Islam. But let me begin with a word of personal explanation. You are accustomed for the most part to hearing from people with direct practical involvement in military and intelligence matters. I cannot offer you that. My direct involvement with military and intelligence matters ended quite a long time ago--to be precise, on 31 August 1945, when I left His Majesty's Service and returned to the university to join with colleagues in trying to cope with a six-year backlog of battle-scarred undergraduates.

What I would like to try and offer you this evening is something of the lessons of history. Here I must begin with a second disavowal. It is sometimes forgotten that the content of history, the business of the historian, is the past, not the future. I remember being at an international meeting of historians in Rome during which a group of us were sitting and discussing the question: should historians attempt to predict the future? We batted this back and forth. This was in the days when the Soviet Union was still alive and well. One of our Soviet colleagues finally intervened and said, "In the Soviet Union, the most difficult task of the historian is to predict the past."

I do not intend to offer any predictions of the future in Europe or the Middle East, but one thing can legitimately be expected of the historian, and that is to identify trends and processes - to look at the trends in the past, at what is continuing in the present, and therefore to see the possibilities and choices which will face us in the future.

One other introductory word. A favorite theme of the historian, as I am sure you know, is periodization--dividing history into periods. Periodization is mostly a convenience of the historian for purposes of writing or teaching. Nevertheless, there are times in the long history of the human adventure when we have a real turning point, a major change--the end of an era, the beginning of a new era. I am becoming more and more convinced that we are in such an age at the present time--a change in history comparable with such events as the fall of Rome, the discovery of America, and the like. I will try to explain that.

Conventionally, the modern history of the Middle East begins at the end of the 18th century, when a small French expeditionary force commanded by a young general called Napoleon Bonaparte was able to conquer Egypt and rule it with impunity. It was a terrible shock that one of the heartlands of Islam could be invaded, occupied, and ruled with virtually no effective resistance.
The second shock came a few years later with the departure of the French, which was brought about not by the Egyptians nor by their suzerains, the Turks, but by a small squadron of the Royal Navy commanded by a young admiral called Horatio Nelson, who drove the French out and back to France.

This is of symbolic importance. That was, as I said, at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. From then onward, the heartlands of Islam were no longer wholly controlled by the rulers of Islam. They were under direct or indirect influence or control from outside.

The dominating forces in the Islamic world were now outside forces. What shaped their lives was Western influence. What gave them choices was Western rivalries. The political game that they could play--the only one that was open to them--was to try and profit from the rivalries between the outside powers, to try to use them against one another. We see that again and again in the course of the 19th and 20th and even into the beginning of the 21st century. We see, for example, in the First World War, the Second World War, and the Cold War, how Middle Eastern governments or leaders tried to play this game with varying degrees of success.

That game is now over. The era that was inaugurated by Napoleon and Nelson was terminated by Reagan and Gorbachev. The Middle East is no longer ruled or dominated by outside powers. These nations are having some difficulty adjusting to this new situation, to taking responsibility for their own actions and their consequences, and so on. But they are beginning to do so, and this change has been expressed with his usual clarity and eloquence by Osama bin Laden.

We see with the ending of the era of outside domination, the reemergence of certain older trends and deeper currents in Middle Eastern history, which had been submerged or at least obscured during the centuries of Western domination. Now they are coming back again. One of them I would call the internal struggles--ethnic, sectarian, regional--between different forces within the Middle East. These have of course continued, but were of less importance in the imperialist era. They are coming out again now and gaining force, as we see for example from the current clash between Sunni and Shia Islam--something without precedent for centuries.

The other thing more directly relevant to my theme this evening is the signs of a return among Muslims to what they perceive as the cosmic struggle for world domination between the two main faiths--Christianity and Islam. There are many religions in the world, but as far as I know there are only two that have claimed that their truths are not only universal--all religions claim that--but also exclusive; that they--the Christians in the one case, the Muslims in the other--are the fortunate recipients of God's final message to humanity, which it is their duty not to keep selfishly to themselves--like the Jews or the Hindus--but to bring to the rest of humanity, removing whatever obstacles there may be on the way. This self-perception, shared between Christendom and Islam, led to the long struggle that has been going on for more than fourteen centuries and which is now entering a new phase. In the Christian world, now at the beginning of the 21st century of its era, this triumphalist attitude no longer prevails, and is confined to a few minority groups. In the world of Islam, now in its early 15th century, triumphalism is still a significant force, and has found expression in new militant movements.

It is interesting that both sides for quite a long time refused to recognize this struggle. For example, both sides named each other by non-religious terms. The Christian world called the Muslims Moors, Saracens, Tartars, and Turks. Even a convert was said to have turned Turk. The Muslims for their part called the Christian world Romans, Franks, Slavs, and the like. It was only slowly and reluctantly that they began to give each other religious designations and then these were for the most part demeaning and inaccurate. In the West, it was customary to call Muslims Mohammadans, which they never called themselves, based on the totally false assumption that Muslims worship Muhammad in the way that Christians worship Christ. The Muslim term for Christians was Nazarene--nasrani--implying the local cult of a place called Nazareth.

The declaration of war begins at the very beginning of Islam. There are certain letters purported to have been written by the Prophet Muhammad to the Christian Byzantine emperor, the emperor of Persia, and various other rulers, saying, "I have now brought God's final message. Your time has passed. Your beliefs are superseded. Accept my mission and my faith or resign or submit--you are finished." The authenticity of these prophetic letters is doubted, but the message is clear and authentic in the sense that it does represent the long dominant view of the Islamic world.

A little later we have hard evidence--and I mean hard in the most literal sense--inscriptions. Many of you, I should think, have been to Jerusalem. You have probably visited that remarkable building, the Dome of the Rock. It is very significant. It is built on a place sacred to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Its architectural style is that of the earliest Christian churches. It dates from the end of the 7th century and was built by one of the early caliphs, the oldest Muslim religious building outside Arabia. What is significant is the message in the inscriptions inside the Dome: "He is God, He is one, He has no companion, He does not beget, He is not begotten." (cf. Qur'an, IX, 31-3; CXII, 1-3) This is clearly a direct challenge to certain central principles of the Christian faith.
Interestingly, they put the same thing on a new gold coinage. Until then, striking gold coins had been an exclusive Roman privilege. The Islamic caliph for the first time struck gold coins, breaching the immemorial privilege of Rome, and putting the same inscription on them. As I said, a challenge.

The Muslim attack on Christendom and the resulting conflict, which arose more from their resemblances than from their differences, has gone through three phases. The first dates from the very beginning of Islam, when the new faith spilled out of the Arabian Peninsula, where it was born, into the Middle East and beyond. It was then that they conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa--all at that time part of the Christian world--and went beyond into Europe, conquering a sizable part of southwestern Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and southern Italy, all of which became part of the Islamic world, and even crossing the Pyrenees into France and occupying for a while parts of France.

After a long and bitter struggle, the Christians managed to retake part but not all of the territory they had lost. They succeeded in Europe, and in a sense Europe was defined by the limits of that success. They failed to retake North Africa or the Middle East, which were lost to Christendom. Notably, they failed to recapture the Holy Land, in the series of campaigns known as the Crusades.

That was not the end of the matter. In the meantime the Islamic world, having failed the first time, was bracing for the second attack, this time conducted not by Arabs and Moors but by Turks and Tartars. In the mid-thirteenth century the Mongol conquerors of Russia were converted to Islam. The Turks, who had already conquered Anatolia, advanced into Europe and in 1453 they captured the ancient Christian citadel of Constantinople. They conquered a large part of the Balkans, and for a while ruled half of Hungary. Twice they reached as far as Vienna, to which they laid siege in 1529 and again in 1683. Barbary corsairs from North Africa--well-known to historians of the United States--were raiding Western Europe. They went to Iceland--the uttermost limit--and to several places in Western Europe, including notably a raid on Baltimore (the original one, in Ireland) in 1631. In a contemporary document, we have a list of 107 captives who were taken from Baltimore to Algiers, including a man called Cheney.

Again, Europe counterattacked, this time more successfully and more rapidly. They succeeded in recovering Russia and the Balkan Peninsula, and in advancing further into the Islamic lands, chasing their former rulers whence they had come. For this phase of European counterattack, a new term was invented: imperialism. When the peoples of Asia and Africa invaded Europe, this was not imperialism. When Europe attacked Asia and Africa, it was.

This European counterattack began a new phase which brought the European attack into the very heart of the Middle East. In our  own time, we have seen the end of the resulting domination.

Osama bin Laden, in some very interesting proclamations and declarations, has this to say about the war in Afghanistan which, you will remember, led to the defeat and retreat of the Red Army and the collapse of the Soviet Union. We tend to see that as a Western victory, more specifically an American victory, in the Cold War against the Soviets. For Osama bin Laden, it was nothing of the kind. It is a Muslim victory in a jihad. If one looks at what happened in Afghanistan and what followed, this is, I think one must say, a not implausible interpretation.

As Osama bin Laden saw it, Islam had reached the ultimate humiliation in this long struggle after World War I, when the last of the great Muslim empires--the Ottoman Empire--was broken up and most of its territories divided between the victorious allies; when the caliphate was suppressed and abolished, and the last caliph driven into exile. This seemed to be the lowest point in Muslim history. From there they went upwards.

In his perception, the millennial struggle between the true believers and the unbelievers had gone through successive phases, in which the latter were led by the various imperial European powers that had succeeded the Romans in the leadership of the world of the infidels--the Christian Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the British and French and Russian empires. In this final phase, he says, the world of the infidels was divided and disputed between two rival superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. In his perception, the Muslims have met, defeated, and destroyed the more dangerous and the more deadly of the two infidel superpowers. Dealing with the soft, pampered and effeminate Americans would be an easy matter.

This belief was confirmed in the 1990s when we saw one attack after another on American bases and installations with virtually no effective response of any kind--only angry words and expensive missiles dispatched to remote and uninhabited places. The lessons of Vietnam and Beirut were confirmed by Mogadishu. "Hit them, and they'll run." This was the perceived sequence leading up to 9/11. That attack was clearly intended to be the completion of the first sequence and the beginning of the new one, taking the war into the heart of the enemy camp.

In the eyes of a fanatical and resolute minority of Muslims, the third wave of attack on Europe has clearly begun. We should not delude ourselves as to what it is and what it means. This time it is taking different forms and two in particular: terror and migration.
The subject of terror has been frequently discussed and in great detail, and I do not need to say very much about that now. What I do want to talk about is the other aspect of more particular relevance to Europe, and that is the question of migration.
In earlier times, it was inconceivable that a Muslim would voluntarily move to a non-Muslim country. The jurists discuss this subject at great length in the textbooks and manuals of shari`a, but in a different form: is it permissible for a Muslim to live in or even visit a non-Muslim country? And if so, if he does, what must he do? Generally speaking, this was considered under certain specific headings.

A captive or a prisoner of war obviously has no choice, but he must preserve his faith and get home as soon as possible.
The second case is that of an unbeliever in the land of the unbelievers who sees the light and embraces the true faith--in other words, becomes a Muslim. He must leave as soon as possible and go to a Muslim country.
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« Reply #36 on: March 25, 2007, 08:44:57 AM »

The third case is that of a visitor. For long, the only purpose that was considered legitimate was to ransom captives. This was later expanded into diplomatic and commercial missions. With the advance of the European counterattack, there was a new issue in this ongoing debate. What is the position of a Muslim if his country is conquered by infidels? May he stay or must he leave?

We have some interesting documents from the late 15th century, when the reconquest of Spain was completed and Moroccan jurists were discussing this question. They asked if Muslims could stay. The general answer was no, it is not permissible. The question was asked: May they stay if the Christian government that takes over is tolerant? This proved to be a purely hypothetical question, of course. The answer was no; even then they may not stay, because the temptation to apostasy would be even greater. They must leave and hope that in God's good time they will be able to reconquer their homelands and restore the true faith.
This was the line taken by most jurists. There were some, at first a minority, later a more important group, who said it is permissible for Muslims to stay provided that certain conditions are met, mainly that they are allowed to practice their faith. This raises another question which I will come back to in a moment: what is meant by practicing their faith? Here I would remind you that we are dealing not only with a different religion but also with a different concept of what religion is about, referring especially to what Muslims call the shari`a, the holy law of Islam, covering a wide range of matters regarded as secular in the Christian world even during the medieval period, but certainly in what some call the post-Christian era of the Western world.

There are obviously now many attractions which draw Muslims to Europe including the opportunities offered, particularly in view of the growing economic impoverishment of much of the Muslim world, and the attractions of European welfare as well as employment. They also have freedom of expression and education which they lack at home. This is a great incentive to the terrorists who migrate. Terrorists have far greater freedom of preparation and operation in Europe--and to a degree also in America--than they do in most Islamic lands.

I would like to draw your attention to some other factors of importance in the situation at this moment. One is the new radicalism in the Islamic world, which comes in several kinds: Sunni, especially Wahhabi, and Iranian Shiite, dating from the Iranian revolution. Both of these are becoming enormously important factors. We have the strange paradox that the danger of Islamic radicalism or of radical terrorism is far greater in Europe and America than it is in the Middle East and North Africa, where they are much better at controlling their extremists than we are.

The Sunni kind is mainly Wahhabi and has benefited from the prestige and influence and power of the House of Saud as controllers of the holy places of Islam and of the annual pilgrimage, and the enormous oil wealth at their disposal. The Iranian revolution is something different. The term revolution is much used in the Middle East. It is virtually the only generally accepted title of legitimacy. But the Iranian revolution is a real revolution in the sense in which we use that term of the French or Russian revolutions. Like the French and Russian revolutions in their day, it has had an enormous impact in the whole area with which the Iranians share a common universe of discourse--that is to say, the Islamic world.

Let me turn to the question of assimilation, which is much discussed nowadays. How far is it possible for Muslim migrants who have settled in Europe, in North America, and elsewhere, to become part of those countries in which they settle, in the way that so many other waves of immigrants have done? I think there are several points which need to be made.

One of them is the basic differences in what precisely is meant by assimilation and acceptance. Here there is an immediate and obvious difference between the European and the American situations. For an immigrant to become an American means a change of political allegiance. For an immigrant to become a Frenchman or a German means a change of ethnic identity. Changing political allegiance is certainly very much easier and more practical than changing ethnic identity, either in one's own feelings or in one's measure of acceptance. England had it both ways. If you were naturalized, you became British but you did not become English.
I mentioned earlier the important difference in what one means by religion. For Muslims, it covers a whole range of different things--marriage, divorce, and inheritance are the most obvious examples. Since antiquity in the Western world, the Christian world, these have been secular matters. The distinction of church and state, spiritual and temporal, lay and ecclesiastical is a Christian distinction which has no place in Islamic history and therefore is difficult to explain to Muslims, even in the present day. Until very recently they did not even have a vocabulary to express it. They have one now.

What are the European responses to this situation? In Europe, as in the United States, a frequent response is what is variously known as multiculturalism and political correctness. In the Muslim world there are no such inhibitions. They are very conscious of their identity. They know who they are and what they are and what they want, a quality which we seem to have lost to a very large extent. This is a source of strength in the one, of weakness in the other.

A term sometimes used is constructive engagement. Let's talk to them, let's get together and see what we can do. Constructive engagement has a long tradition. When Saladin re-conquered Jerusalem and other places in the holy land, he allowed the Christian merchants from Europe to stay in the seaports. He apparently felt the need to justify this, and he wrote a letter to the caliph in Baghdad explaining his action. I would like to quote it to you. The merchants were useful since "there is not one among them that does not bring and sell us weapons of war, to their detriment and to our advantage." This continued during the Crusades. It continued after. It continued during the Ottoman advance into Europe, when they could always find European merchants willing to sell them weapons they needed and European bankers willing to finance their purchases. Constructive engagement has a long history.

One also finds a rather startling modern version of it. We have seen in our own day the extraordinary spectacle of a pope apologizing to the Muslims for the Crusades. I would not wish to defend the behavior of the Crusaders, which was in many respects atrocious. But let us have a little sense of proportion. We are now expected to believe that the Crusades were an unwarranted act of aggression against a peaceful Muslim world. Hardly. The first papal call for a crusade occurred in 846 C.E., when an Arab expedition from Sicily sailed up the Tiber and sacked St. Peter's in Rome. A synod in France issued an appeal to Christian sovereigns to rally against "the enemies of Christ," and the Pope, Leo IV, offered a heavenly reward to those who died fighting the Muslims. A century and a half and many battles later, in 1096, the Crusaders actually arrived in the Middle East. The Crusades were a late, limited, and unsuccessful imitation of the jihad--an attempt to recover by holy war what had been lost by holy war. It failed, and it was not followed up.

Here is another more recent example of multiculturalism. On October 8, 2002--I insist on giving the date because you may want to look it up--the then French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who I am told is a staunch Roman Catholic, was making a speech in the French National Assembly and talking about the situation in Iraq. Speaking of Saddam Hussein, he remarked that one of Saddam Hussein's heroes was his compatriot Saladin, who came from the same Iraqi town of Tikrit. In case the members of the Assembly were not aware of Saladin's identity, M. Raffarin explained to them that it was he who was able "to defeat the Crusaders and liberate Jerusalem." Yes. When a French prime minister describes Saladin's capture of Jerusalem from the largely French Crusaders as an act of liberation, this would seem to indicate a rather extreme case of realignment of loyalties.
I was told this, and I didn't believe it. So I checked it in the parliamentary record. When M. Raffarin used the word "liberate," a member--the name was not given--called out, "Libérer?" He just went straight on. That was the only interruption, and as far as I was aware there was no comment afterwards.

The Islamic radicals have even been able to find some allies in Europe. In describing them I shall have to use the terms left and right, terms which are becoming increasingly misleading. The seating arrangements in the first French National Assembly after the revolution are not the laws of nature, but we have become accustomed to using them. They are difficult when applied to the West nowadays. They are utter nonsense when applied to different brands of Islam. But as I say, they are what people use, so let us put it this way.

They have a left-wing appeal to the anti-U.S. elements in Europe, for whom they have so-to-speak replaced the Soviets. They have a right-wing appeal to the anti-Jewish elements in Europe, replacing the Axis. They have been able to win considerable support under both headings. For some in Europe, their hatreds apparently outweigh their loyalties.

There is an interesting exception to that in Germany, where the Muslims are mostly Turkish. There they have often tended to equate themselves with the Jews, to see themselves as having succeeded the Jews as the victims of German racism and persecution. I remember a meeting in Berlin convened to discuss the new Muslim minorities in Europe. In the evening I was asked by a Muslim group of Turks to join them and hear what they had to say about it, which was very interesting. The phrase which sticks most vividly in my mind from one of them was, "In a thousand years they (the Germans) were unable to accept 400,000 Jews. What hope is there that they will accept two million Turks?" They used this very skillfully in playing on German feelings of guilt in order to inhibit any effective German measures to protect German identity, which I would say like others in Europe is becoming endangered.

My time is running out so I think I'll leave other points that I wanted to make. [Shouts to go on.] You don't mind a bit more?

I want to say something about the question of tolerance. You will recall that at the end of the first phase of the Christian reconquest, after Spain and Portugal and Sicily, Muslims--who by that time were very numerous in the reconquered lands--were given a choice: baptism, exile, or death. In the former Ottoman lands in southeastern Europe, the leaders of what you might call the reconquest were somewhat more tolerant but not a great deal more. Some Muslim minorities remained in some Balkan countries, with troubles still going on at the present day. If I say names like Kosovo or Bosnia, you will know what I am talking about.
Nevertheless, I mention this point because of the very sharp contrast with the treatment of Christians and other non-Muslims in the Islamic lands at that time. When Muslims came to Europe they had a certain expectation of tolerance, feeling that they were entitled to at least the degree of tolerance which they had accorded to non-Muslims in the great Muslim empires of the past. Both their expectations and their experience were very different.

Coming to European countries, they got both more and less than they had expected: More in the sense that they got in theory and often in practice equal political rights, equal access to the professions, all the benefits of the welfare state, freedom of expression, and so on and so forth.

But they also got significantly less than they had given in traditional Islamic states. In the Ottoman Empire and other states before that--I mention the Ottoman Empire as the most recent--the non-Muslim communities had separate organizations and ran their own affairs. They collected their own taxes and enforced their own laws. There were several Christian communities, each living under its own leadership, recognized by the state. These communities were running their own schools, their own education systems, administering their own laws in such matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and the like. The Jews did the same.
So you had a situation in which three men living in the same street could die and their estates would be distributed under three different legal systems if one happened to be Jewish, one Christian, and one Muslim. A Jew could be punished by a rabbinical court and jailed for violating the Sabbath or eating on Yom Kippur. A Christian could be arrested and imprisoned for taking a second wife. Bigamy is a Christian offense; it was not an Islamic or an Ottoman offense.

They do not have that degree of independence in their own social and legal life in the modern state. It is quite unrealistic for them to expect it, given the nature of the modern state, but that is not how they see it. They feel that they are entitled to receive what they gave. As one Muslim friend of mine in Europe put it, "We allowed you to practice monogamy, why should you not allow us to practice polygamy?"

Such questions--polygamy, in particular--raise important issues of a more practical nature. Isn't an immigrant who is permitted to come to France or Germany entitled to bring his family with him? But what exactly does his family consist of? They are increasingly demanding and getting permission to bring plural wives. The same is also applying more and more to welfare payments and so on. On the other hand, the enforcement of shari`a is a little more difficult. This has become an extremely sensitive issue.

Another extremely sensitive issue, closely related to this, is the position of women, which is of course very different between Christendom and Islam. This has indeed been one of the major differences between the two societies.

Where do we stand now? Is it third time lucky? It is not impossible. They have certain clear advantages. They have fervor and conviction, which in most Western countries are either weak or lacking. They are self-assured of the rightness of their cause, whereas we spend most of our time in self-denigration and self-abasement. They have loyalty and discipline, and perhaps most important of all, they have demography, the combination of natural increase and migration producing major population changes, which could lead within the foreseeable future to significant majorities in at least some European cities or even countries.

But we also have some advantages, the most important of which are knowledge and freedom. The appeal of genuine modern knowledge in a society which, in the more distant past, had a long record of scientific and scholarly achievement is obvious. They are keenly and painfully aware of their relative backwardness and welcome the opportunity to rectify it.

Less obvious but also powerful is the appeal of freedom. In the past, in the Islamic world the word freedom was not used in a political sense. Freedom was a legal concept. You were free if you were not a slave. The institution of slavery existed. Free meant not slave. Unlike the West, they did not use freedom and slavery as a metaphor for good and bad government, as we have done for a long time in the Western world. The terms they used to denote good and bad government are justice and injustice. A good government is a just government, one in which the Holy Law, including its limitations on sovereign authority, is strictly enforced. The Islamic tradition, in theory and, until the onset of modernization, to a large degree in practice, emphatically rejects despotic and arbitrary government. Living under justice is the nearest approach to what we would call freedom.

But the idea of freedom in its Western interpretation is making headway. It is becoming more and more understood, more and more appreciated and more and more desired. It is perhaps in the long run our best hope, perhaps even our only hope, of surviving this developing struggle. Thank you.
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« Reply #37 on: March 26, 2007, 02:42:45 PM »

Mainstreaming the Muslim Brotherhood   
By Patrick Poole | March 26, 2007

The victory of Democrats in the recent elections has launched a silly season in Washington DC, where absurd ideas that would have been scoffed at this time last year now float on the Potomac breeze like so many cherry blossoms filling the Beltway air with their fragrance.
No better example could be offered for this phenomenon than the recent flurry of articles from foreign policy “realists” urging the Bush Administration to shift its policy and begin to dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is headquartered in Egypt but has affiliates in more than 70 countries, including the US. This position is best represented in an article in the current issue (March/April 2007) of Foreign Affairs by Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke of the Nixon Center, “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood”. They summarize their argument thus:
Even as Western commentators condemn the Muslim Brotherhood for its Islamism, radicals in the Middle East condemn it for rejecting jihad and embracing democracy. Such relative moderation offers Washington a notable opportunity for engagement -- as long as policymakers recognize the considerable variation between the group's different branches and tendencies.
Admittedly, this is hardly the first time that so-called “progressives” have tried to shift the post-9/11 sentiment in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. A September 2004 article in the Washington Post, “In Search of Friends Among Foes”, described the last major attempt at a policy shift led by State Department diplocrats while noting the Brotherhood’s public relations problems of being tied to extremist activity in the Middle East and the United States.
As the worldwide jihad has grown in intensity in recent years, the Brotherhood’s supporters in the US are trying to capitalize on the upward trend of Islamic radicalization to paint the organization as “moderate” on this shifting scale. This is precisely the methodology employed by Leiken and Brooke, who attempt the Herculean task of cleaning out the Augean Stables of the Muslim Brotherhood’s long involvement in terrorist activity through misrepresentation and outright fabrication.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s past use of violence and terrorism as a means of accomplishing the organization’s stated mission of installing “Islamic” governments in the Muslim world through the establishment of shari’a as the legal system of these new governments. This mission has been repeated and restated by Brotherhood officials up to the present day.
But Leiken and Brooke try to qualify that mission by assuring us of two things: 1) that the Muslim Brotherhood has “rejected jihad”; and, 2) it has “embraced democracy”.
Rejecting Jihad
Let’s examine the first claim. I take their terminology of the Brotherhood “rejecting jihad” as a general renunciation of violence and terrorism. Again, this is where the organization’s long history of supporting the use of violence makes a defense of the organization a Herculean task for its defenders. From the Brotherhood’s earliest days when its “special apparatus” incited violence and engaged in assassinations, to its recent support of terrorism by affiliates and associates in Israel, Algeria, Sudan and elsewhere, any claim by the Brotherhood that they have “rejected jihad” should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Some of the sounder minds in counterterrorism and diplomatic circles in Washington on both sides of the political spectrum are still awaiting substantive evidence of this newfound rejection of violence by the Brotherhood. One skeptic is the current White House counterterrorism czar, Juan Zarate, who says
The Muslim Brotherhood is a group that worries us not because it deals with philosophical or ideological ideas but because it defends the use of violence against civilians. (Sylvain Besson, La Conquête De L’Occident: Le Projet Secret Des Islamistes, p. 39 – my translation)
Nor are some long-time Middle East diplomats associated with the Democrats eager to take Leiken and Brooke’s word that Brotherhood has removed violence from its menu of options. In an interview with Asharq Alawsat last week, Dennis Ross, former President Clinton’s Middle East envoy, joined with those who aren’t convinced that the Brotherhood had renounced their violent ways:
He (Ross – ed.) added that he would not talk to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and that despite its assertion that it wants to engage in the political process in Egypt, the movement supports the use of violence in other areas and this is the main problem. He firmly stated that as long as the movement supported violence as a means to achieve political objectives, then dialogue could not be established with such an organization.
Again, this is not some ancient quote dug out of the archives, but represents Ross’ current assessment of the Brotherhood’s stance on the use of violence.
Recent history backs up Zarate and Ross that the Brotherhood has yet to adequately demonstrate their renunciation of violence. At present in Egypt many of the organization’s leaders are in jail following an incident this past December where student cadres of the Brotherhood engaged in a military-style demonstration at Al-Ahzar University, which prompted the Mubarak regime’s current crackdown on the Brotherhood. One observer, Jameel Theyabi, described the scene and its possible message in an op-ed for Dar Al-Hayat:
The military parade, the wearing of uniforms, displaying the phrase, 'We Will be Steadfast', and the drills involving combative sports, betray the group's intent to plan for the creation of militia structures, and a return by the group to the era of 'secret cells'...this development comes as a clear Brotherhood announcement that the group is capable of acting and reacting to developments, and by these demonstrations, it is seeking to deliver a news flash that says: "The group is still out there, and is capable of military action, recruitment of new elements, military training and mobilization...I believe that the group's public power display represents a kind of coded message to awaken sleeper cells within Egypt and abroad.
Failing to anticipate the government’s heavy response to their military parade, the leadership of the Brotherhood quickly backed away from it and apologized, but most Egyptians were not convinced. (I treated this incident in more detail in a recent article, “The Militarization of the Muslim Brotherhood”.) One reason that the Egyptian government, press and public have not been ready to believe the Brotherhood is that they have been witness to the campaigns of intimidation and riots led by the student cadres and the Brotherhood’s militia. A frequent victim of this military apparatus has been the Christian Coptic community.
Another recent piece of evidence against the contention that the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood has given up violence and terrorism were comments made by the organization’s Supreme Guide, Mohammed Akef, last summer during the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict. Not only was Akef one of the first leaders in the Middle East to offer his congratulations to Hezbollah for their illegal crossborder raid to capture of two Israeli soldiers, but he said that he was prepared to send 10,000 jihadists to fight alongside Hezbollah against Israeli forces. When the rest of the Arab Muslim leadership in the Middle East didn’t follow his lead with similar offers of military assistance to Hezbollah, he said:
If they weren’t Muslims, we would have killed them, because they are a bigger threat to the nation than Israel itself.
It would be interesting to hear how Leiken and Brooke would explain how this scenario jibes with their contention that the Muslim Brotherhood – who’s Supreme Guide was promising 10,000 jihadist fighters to support the Hezbollah terrorist organization and hinting at the assassination of those who didn’t offer support in kind – is “rejecting jihad”.
The simple fact is that Leiken and Brooke rely on the reader’s ignorance of the Brotherhood to try to make their point here. In the fifteen pages of their argument, there is only one oblique reference to the Brotherhood’s affiliate in the Palestinian territories, the terrorist group HAMAS. The HAMAS charter self-identifies itself as the Brotherhood chapter for that area, and the international organization has lent the terrorist group considerable financial and material support. This Brotherhood affiliate is the primary terrorist actor against Israel and its citizens on one of the most active fronts of the global jihad. No wonder, then, that Leiken and Brooke are hesitant to raise the issue of HAMAS as they argue that the “Moderate” Muslim Brotherhood has rejected jihad.
Also receiving the silent treatment from Leiken and Brooke is the genocidal Brotherhood Islamic Salvation Front government of Sudan, who for years has waged jihad against Christians in the south of the country, and more recently, against non-Arab Muslims in Darfur. Millions of Sudanese have been slaughtered and displaced at the hands of the government in a country where the Brotherhood actually has established political control.
One Brotherhood affiliate that pair mentions as an example of moderation is the Jordanian Islamic Action Front. And yet last year several IAF members of the Jordanian Parliament paid a condolence visit to the family of murderous Iraqi Al-Qaeda thug-in-chief, Abu Musab Al-Zaraqawi, following his “martyrdom” at the hands of two US laser-guided bombs. This is who Leiken and Brooke present us with to convince us of the Brotherhood’s policy of “rejecting jihad”. It should be clear at this point that the two are not only misrepresenting the organization’s statements and actions, but are manufacturing whole-cloth their “moderate” image of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Embracing Democracy
Which bring us to the second assurance offered in the Foreign Affairs article, that the Brotherhood is committed to democracy. Historically and ideologically, however, this has not been the case. The Brotherhood’s prime theorist, Sayyid Qutb’s, in calling the Muslim Brotherhood masses to revolution and jihad in his profoundly influential book, Milestones (1964), he offers this assessment of democracy:
Whoever says that legislation is the right of the people is not a Muslim.
But Leiken and Brooke are prepared for their critics to invoke the specter of Qutb, and tell us that the Brotherhood has forsaken the legacy of Qutb after his execution in 1966 under Gamal Abdel Nasser’s orders and that they have returned to their democratic founding principles. But someone forgot to tell that to Mustafa Mashhour, the Brotherhood’s late Supreme Guide, who said in an official Brotherhood magazine in 1981:
Democracy contradicts and wages war on Islam. Whoever calls for democracy means they are raising banners contradicting God’s plan and fighting Islam.
If it is the case that the Brotherhood has actually embraced democracy, it must be admitted that it has constricted the notion so much so that it would be unrecognizable to anyone in the West. One of the Brotherhood’s most influential clerics, Yousef Al-Qaradawi, made this clear in his statements on the subject during his weekly television program on Al-Jaeera TV in June 2004:
The democracy I call for is the democracy of Muslim society. It has fixed principles it does not violate, and red lines it cannot violate, and some principles that are not up for discussion.
Qaradawi’s statement came just months after the Brotherhood released an official document outlining their vision of “democracy”, the “Muslim Brotherhood Initiatives for Reform in Egypt”, which was published in March 2004. Not only does the “Initiative for Reform” restates its commitment to “to establish an Islamic state that executes the laws and teachings of Islam (shari’a) in practice”, but reaffirms its intent to wage jihad and engage in “resistance against the Anglo-American and Zionist occupiers of Arab and Muslim lands” – clearly meaning Israel and Iraq.
As for this Golden era of Democracy that Leiken and Brooke want us to believe the Muslim Brotherhood intends to usher in, the Initiative assures that “each citizen is entitled to be a member of parliament, as long as he/she enjoys the general conditions set by the law to do so.” On its face this might seem to be innocuous, but the longstanding “general conditions” the Brotherhood has in mind are laws that would exclude non-Muslims from holding any office. The Brotherhood’s founder, Hassan Al-Banna, has stated from the organization’s beginnings that with reference to non-Muslims and their relation to the form of Islamic government they hope to install, that “it will not entrust them with such an office that would give them general authority.”
Thus, the model of democracy that the Muslim Brotherhood hopes to follow would much more closely resemble Khomeini’s Islamic Republic in Iran than Ataturk’s secular democracy in Turkey.
We already have in operation working models of how the Brotherhood would run the government in Egypt by looking at the professional syndicates that the Brotherhood has steadily taken over in the past two decades. In each of these cases, the Brotherhood has operated within the democratic structures of these organizations in order to come to power; but once they have attained power, they have rewritten the rules such that challenging their authority would be difficult, if not impossible.
From their experience governing the professional syndicates, we can see the Brotherhood’s willingness to use “democratic” means for the transfer of power; but there is nothing to indicate their willingness to commit themselves to democratic principles fundamentally. Instead, democracy is perceived to be one of just many potential options. And when that “democracy” is exercised, it’s hard to see how it is much of an improvement on the existing totalitarian “democracies” that already exist in the Muslim world (as renowned Islamic scholar, Bernard Lewis, has characterized it, “one man, one vote, one time”). Recall that when Leiken and Brooke talk about the Muslim Brotherhood “embracing democracy”, this is what they have in mind.
I would contend that when the advocates of engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood make their case, they never do so as honest brokers. As we can see in the current Foreign Affairs piece, any evidence that would immediately contradict their thesis is not only excluded, but intentionally obscured. Their message is clearly directed at an audience unfamiliar with the Brotherhood’s history, message and program, and insults the intelligence of anyone somewhat familiar with such.
In arguing that the Brotherhood is presently “rejecting jihad”, even the limited examples they cite don’t hold up under scrutiny; and in claiming that the organization is “embracing democracy”, they are clearly equivocating in their use of the term.
To make a case for the “Moderate Muslim Brotherhood” requires nothing short of blind faith. No amount of spin offered by the “progressive” policy wonks or media pundits can account for the fact that not only has the Muslim Brotherhood spawned virtually ever single Islamic terrorist organization in the world, but they have used the financial network established by the Brotherhood to conduct their bloody business (an excellent and concise treatment of this subject is available: Douglas Farah, “The Little Explored Offshore Empire of the International Muslim Brotherhood”). This direct support for terrorism is not just past, but present, policy on their part.
Policymakers in Washington should not be fooled by the carefully manicured, but entirely misleading, presentation of the Muslim Brotherhood offered by their US defenders. If any policy change is needed, it isn’t to engage them as a force for moderation and positive change in the Middle East, but to finally designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Specially Designated Terrorist Organization and make any exceptions from that point.
If there is a time when sane voices must prevail inside the Beltway, it must be during the silly season.
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« Reply #38 on: March 29, 2007, 11:12:44 AM »

A Dangerous Woman
Why Islamists want to kill Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

By Clifford D. May

Theo van Gogh was a modern Western man, a believer in reason, tolerance and multiculturalism. And so it is perhaps fitting that his last words were: “Can’t we talk about this?”

He asked that question of Muhammad Bouyeri, a Militant Islamist outraged over Submission, a film van Gogh had directed, a film which took an unsparing look at the oppression of women in Islamic lands. In broad daylight, on a street in van Gogh’s hometown of Amsterdam, Bouyeri responded to the filmmaker’s appeal for civil discourse by shooting him, sawing into his throat with a butcher knife and then stabbing a five-page letter into his chest.

Prominently named in that letter was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the remarkable woman who wrote Submission. Bouyeri vowed to kill her as well.

Such intense hatred and violence is difficult for many of us to comprehend. Not so Hirsi Ali. Growing up in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, she experienced multiple forms of cruelty and became, for a time, a devout believer in the radical brand of Islam preached by the Muslim Brotherhood. She has now written Infidel, a book about her extraordinary geographical, spiritual and intellectual journey. Anyone who aspires to understand the global conflict now underway — why it’s happening and where it may be leading — needs to listen to her.

Hirsi Ali’s personal story is by now familiar. She grew up in poverty and on the run – the daughter of a celebrated Somali revolutionary. When she was 22 years old, her father arranged for her to marry a man he thought suitable. She ran away, settling in the Netherlands where she cleaned toilets and worked on a factory assembly line. Before long, she also learned fluent Dutch, attended university and was elected a member of parliament.

But after van Gogh’s murder, the threats against her life and the controversy surrounding her views impelled her to leave Holland for Washington where Christopher DeMuth, the far-sighted president of the American Enterprise Institute, gave her a place to think and write about freedom, religion, and ideology.

In the U.S., Hirsi Ali may be safer from physical attack than she would be in Europe. But nothing can protect her from the attempts at character assassination emanating from the pages of the Economist, Newsweek, the Washington Post, and other elite publications.

Her detractors — who would never object to criticism of Christianity or Judaism — are apparently outraged that Hirsi Ali dares to question Islamic doctrine and practice. They are offended by her refusal to agree that Islam is intrinsically “a religion of peace” and that only a lunatic fringe has “hijacked” the faith to justify flying planes into buildings and dispatching suicide bombers to murder children.

Hirsi Ali argues instead that there are shortcomings and perhaps even pathologies within Islam that must be acknowledged and addressed. Such ideas came to her immediately after the 9/11/01 attacks. The chairman of the Dutch Labor party said to her: “It’s so weird, isn’t it, all these people saying this has to do with Islam?”

“I couldn’t help myself,” Hirsi Ali writes. “I blurted out, ‘But it is about Islam. This is based in belief,’” in particular the belief that a war must be waged to force infidels to submit. Al Qaeda members are not protesting policies, they are fulfilling what they see as religious obligations. To fail to recognize this is, Hirsi Ali writes, “a little like analyzing Lenin and Stalin without looking at the works of Karl Marx.”

She adds: “The kind of thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia, and among the Muslim Brotherhood in Kenya and Somalia, is incompatible with human rights and liberal values.”

Although Hirsi Ali is no longer an observant Muslim, it is unfair to call her anti-Islamic. The Prophet Mohammad, she says, “did teach us a lot of good things. I found it spiritually appealing to believe in a Hereafter. My life was enriched by the Quranic injunctions to be compassionate and show charity to others.” But what she found increasingly difficult to accept, particularly as she disobediently befriended infidels, was the teaching that “if you don’t accept Islam you should perish.”

Hirisi Ali believes that just as the West long ago “freed itself from the grip of violent organized religion” so, too, must Muslims today “hold our dogmas up to the light, scrutinize them, and then infuse traditions that are rigid and inhumane with the values of progress and modernity.”

Those are revolutionary ideas. No wonder Muslim totalitarians plot to kill her and Western apologists for Islamism conspire to discredit her.

— Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies , a policy institute focusing on terrorism.

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« Reply #39 on: April 18, 2007, 12:50:26 PM »

****Jews lived in Israel since it was Israel and Judea. Jews and Christians have been forced from their homelands all over the muslim world and yet do not sink to the level of conduct that the so-called "Palestinians" live and die by. ******
3-5% Jewish before WWI.  Now, there's a 90%+ Jewish state (NOT multi-religious nor multi-cultural) on land that was formerly multi-cultural and Muslim, at least for ca. 1600 years.

And the Israelis are religious facists, plain and simple.  This is not complicated.  Their identity comes from their religious text (Old Testament as well as rabinical works) which specifies quite clearly that they are God's chosen people and that key locations in Palestine are theirs (and somehow composed of milk and honey) by God's promise.  So, we have a modern state armed with F15s, Cobras, Apaches, and other modern weapons based upon psychotic religious ideas. 

Seriously, would you tolerate such whacko ideas from anyone else?

They force the locals into ghettos (or reservations, however you want to call it), terrorize them, destroy their villages (many 1,000+ years old), tear up their farms (of equal age), pave the whole area over, make the national language something different (Hebrew, not Arabic as it had been for centuries), rape and humiliate the locals, destroy their infrastructure whenever they get one (2003 the 5 Bilion Euro water system was destroyed by the Israelis, but most of what I'm talking about stems from 1948 and onward), offer bogus disingenuous "peace" deals that deny the UN mandated Right of Return to the displaced Palestinians as well as making sure that whatever territory they are so generously allowed is non-contiguous.  Imagine if you lived in LA and had to pass a police checkpoint every time you wanted to cross a freeway to see your cousin.  That's NOT a fair deal.

Hell, the founding charter of the Likud party even specified methods to make the locals so uncomfortable, including never hiring them for work, burining their villages (yes, pogroms BY Jews), etc, that they would give up and leave.  It's been a deliberate part of a major political party since Day 1!

This kind of thing would NEVER be tolerated by any invaded people.  No wonder the Palestinians blow themselves up.  It's horrible, but it's an act of desparation.

****** There has never been a nation called "Palestine". There has been a region, or province of various empires but not a nation-state.*******
That's totally irrelevant.  There were people living there for centuries and they were chased out by foreigners from Europe.

***** The "palestinian" identity is a psy-op from the 60's, probably done by the KGB.****
Alright, GM, you lost me here.  Are you joking?  The KGB?  The 1960s?

The Brits, who ran the territory for about 50 years, got the name from the Romans who called that area Palestine.  I don't know if it was a state, a province, a hand-drawn circle on a Roman gov't map loosely encapsulating some tax district, whatever.  Doesn't matter.

The displaced locals had to come up with some sort of name.  If they called themselves "UN Designated Group Number XZY-123 of Locals Displaced by Foreign Occupation Stemming from Post-Colonial Europe" it would be the same thing (though more of a mouthful).

The name applies to the Muslim (and often Coptic and Orthodox Christian) locals who lived in what was called the Mandate of Palestine by the Brits since about 1895 (my date may be off) there before the massive influx of Jews starting in 1948 who declared their own country on top of others' homes.

I feel sorry for the Jews who faced the Nazi holocaust, but they inflicted their own holocaust on the locals.
****No, it's frankly a disgusting use of language to compare the holocaust to the self-inflicted misery and depravity of the "palestinians" and their self constructed culture of death.****

Actually, I think it fits perfectly.  And it's the Israelis, politically and financially backed by you and me, who inflicts this, not themselves.

After the Nazi holocaust (I lost family in that, by the way), the Jews should know how this feels and should know better.  All they seemed to learn to do is be subtile enough, pursueding the US that they are the poor innocent victims, to get away with it for 60 years.  The Nazis only lasted about 12 years.  Who's the better Nazi?

GM, I am a little perplexed about where you get your infomation.  Do you just swallow propoganda without being critical about it and chewing on it?  Watch Fox "news" too much?  Have you done any real research on this (TV and internet don't count - I was thinking more along the lines of academic and travelling, learning languages, meeting people, cross-checking stories, etc.)?

For the record, me: BA Poli-Sci, comparative politics and international relations, specializing in the Middle East, born Jewish, 2nd language Hebrew (though I can't speak it anymore), been Christian (though more of a secular humanist these days) since I was 15, married into a modern and moderate Moslem immigrant family, live daily in French, German, and English. 

Every single day I live this 3-religion crap and who deserves what and who did what to whom and who is bad and whose religion is evil.  Then, I go for a drink with my Russian Orthodox neighbor just for a break from it.

And, per my daily experience, it's the Muslims who are the most easy-going, pro-human-rights, and anti-fundamentalist and the Zionist-Jews (you know what that is, right?  Zionist?  As opposed to a normal, average, everyday guy who is Jewish?  Big difference) who are the most racist, fundamentalist, violent and extreme.  The Christians mean well but are very confused, at least in my neighborhood.
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« Reply #40 on: April 18, 2007, 01:01:09 PM »

*****Transplanted from the OZ thread*****

   Re: Islam in Australia
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2007, 10:31:56 PM »

Quote from: Crafty_Dog on April 17, 2007, 09:59:35 PM
As it says on the Rules of the Road WE SEEK TRUTH.  It sounds like you belong here as part of this search.  The conversation may be vigorous, because Truth matters and its discernment in these troubled times can be as elusive as it is important.
Okay, good, so I'm not out of line.  Just wanted to make sure.

Quote from: Crafty_Dog on April 17, 2007, 09:59:35 PM
a) I sense a "good cop bad cop" routines between "good" and "bad" muslims-- and like good cop/bad cop, ultimately that they are two faces of the same coin.
Most, if not all Muslims I've met (grew up with some Iranians, married N. African, work with some Pakistanis and Palistinians) are just people trying to get by and they enjoy living in the USA.  Some have problems with our post-cold war foreign policy but heck, so do most college students and many intellectuals.  In this climate, they seem to avoid talking about politics but readily invest in getting families together for some bonding.  Very, very good cooking in these circles, by the way, which does not help me stay skinny. 

They hate the bad ones as much or more than we do, having personally experienced them.

Think of the bad ones as the Muslim world's KKK.  The terrorists are as genuinely Muslim as the KKK is Christian.

Quote from: Crafty_Dog on April 17, 2007, 09:59:35 PM
b) I sense that "good muslims" have a very strong aversion to standing with "good infidels" against "bad muslims".
They're often trapped between a rock and a hard place.  Nobody idealizes the USA like many did after WWII.  Those days are over yet we don't realize it.  We're not so cool anymore - kinda like the French.

We're not horrible, but we are a scary superpower who is not very worldly and has no problem attack countries who have not attacked us.  That's pretty clear around the planet and scares the daylights out of people.  We are also seen as an oil-greedy nation who will do anything we want to create, corrupt, and suck dry whole countries for their oil.

True or not, and I don't think we're as bad as we're seen these days, this makes us look like not such a good friend to ally with.  So in the interest of self-preservation, many Muslims are staying out of it if they can and not standing with us as we don't offer anything credible and we don't look like we're going to succeed.

Quote from: Crafty_Dog on April 17, 2007, 09:59:35 PM
c) This is shown by the tremendous scarcity of translators and interpretors coming forward from the millions of Arab, Persian and Pakistani immigrants and their children in America.
As above.

But do you mean translators abroad or within the USA?

Quote from: Crafty_Dog on April 17, 2007, 09:59:35 PM
d) To be Muslim, my understanding is that one must seek Sharia.  Sharia is not only a religious idea, it seeks to be the law-- a political idea.  And the political idea of Sharia is contrary to Freedom of Choice, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion and Separation of Church and State-- all core American inalienable rights derived from our Creator.  In other words, I do not seeing a way around raising the question that in America Sharia, hence Islam, is per se seditious.
Nah, this isn't correct, though it's a good point.

To be Muslim you have to do five things and THAT'S IT.
1) Declare there's no god but God and that Mohammed is his prophet.
2) Fast for Ramadan.
3) Give money to the poor.
4) Make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in your life if and only if you can afford it.
5) Pray 5 times per day.

The desire to have religious law is a cultural one.  But think of it like this - it's more natural to have religious laws than specifically non-religious laws.  If morality comes from God (in theory) and God decides what's good or bad (murder, adultry, theft, paying taxes, etc.) then it follows that the details would be "clarified" (or interpreted) by God's ministers (priests) who would, logically, claim that their legitimacy comes from God himself, right?

So a separation between church and state (which I wholeheartedly believe in) is a big step, one that the West only learned after centuries of corruption.

What are our laws based upon?  "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." It works for us because it makes sense to us, but we're the exception, not the rule in the grand scheme of history.

So, imagine that the US were split up by, say, China or India or pre-1918 Turkey (pick a once or future big power), our resources sucked out of the country and the common US citizen wasn't making a dime on it, the state gov'ts were corrupt and controlled by foreign money, the KKK took an anti-foreigner as well as racist ideology and was the most organized group out there as hate makes sense under such circumstances, had characters like Pat Robinson and other extremists who were totally corrupting Christianity yet the church was the only hope and/or explanation of why God was treating us like we were being treated, Catholics and Protestants were fighting like they did during the Hugonaught time (sorry for the spelling), and somehow people whose lives and minds were warped by this life figured out a way to lash out.

That's as close of a parallel as I can can muster right before bed.  I hope it makes a little sense.
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« Reply #41 on: April 18, 2007, 01:02:35 PM »

Ah, GM, I just found your reply in there.  Sorry - didn't notice it at first.

I disagree about the Palestinians.  They were invaded by foreigners who set up their own country with their own laws, own language, and pushed out at gunpoint (or worse) the locals (many of whom are descended from the old old old pre-diaspora Jews) who had been living there for literally millenia.  What's so hard to understand about that?  These guys came from concentration camps and were equipped by the Brits and French who were trying to figure out something to do with them.

I feel sorry for the Jews who faced the Nazi holocaust, but they inflicted their own holocaust on the locals.  The USA backs Israel to the tune of $5 BILLION per year.  We sell them F15s, F16s, Apaches, spy gear, and other weapons that they use on the Palestinians they kicked out of their homes.  They pay for this with money we give them.

While I don't like it or want it, I don't blame the Palestinians for fighting back the only way they can.  It's sick and wrong, but they were painted into a corner by Israel, the UK, France, and the US.


During most of the good years of Islam, they were waaaay more generous and civil to Christians and Jews than the other way around.  People of the Book had strong civil rights and were integrated within society.  This got tense during the crusades and inquisition, but Christendom never accorded them such rights.

Also, Christians have been killing each other since Rome split.  Eastern vs. Catholic church (the Crusades were also against the Eastern church in Byzantium in effect, if not declared openly), Catholic vs. Protestant (remember the Three Musketeers?  Remember who they were fighting?  Protestants), Church of England vs. Catholic, and so on. 

True, Islam split almost immediately, but the only difference is the timing, not the fratricide.


As for growing into this monster, and "it" (however that's defined) is certainly a monster, I'd say stems directly from the Sykes-Picot Treaty at the end of WWI and was fueled by decades of petrol-dollars.  That explains the zit forming. 

Now, said zit is erupting (sorry for the gross metaphor) and I think that comes from globalism, which is its own topic.

Iraq is a perfect example - pieces of three nations who were formerly only united under religion are squished into one secular state (like Neopolitan ice cream).

A weak king is installed by foreigners who is a total sell out to the west (UK in this example - you can see a movie with Alec Guinness as Feisal, I forget the name but it's explains a lot).

The west sucks out oil.

They rebel in the form of the Bath party who tries to re-unite Arabia (Syria was the first), having recent memories of 1200 years of unity), and they are tolerated so long as the oil flows and so long as they keep Iran, the other regional power who is exporting religious fundamentalism (and perversion of Islam), revolution and terrorism, at bay.

That phase ends, China grows, Venusuela is being extremely difficult, South America is nationalizing some of its energy, Globalism is on the rise and oil is looking like it will be sought after by China and India (and drying up, too), so the US invades to set up OUR pet companies.

This pops that zit and now Pandora's Box has been opened.

Anyway, that's how I see it.
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« Reply #42 on: April 18, 2007, 01:04:26 PM »

Ah, GM, I just found your reply in there.  Sorry - didn't notice it at first.

I disagree about the Palestinians.  They were invaded by foreigners who set up their own country with their own laws, own language, and pushed out at gunpoint (or worse) the locals (many of whom are descended from the old old old pre-diaspora Jews) who had been living there for literally millenia.  What's so hard to understand about that?  These guys came from concentration camps and were equipped by the Brits and French who were trying to figure out something to do with them.

****Jews lived in Israel since it was Israel and Judea. Jews and Christians have been forced from their homelands all over the muslim world and yet do not sink to the level of conduct that the so-called "Palestinians" live and die by. There has never been a nation called "Palestine". There has been a region, or province of various empires but not a nation-state. The "palestinian" identity is a psy-op from the 60's, probably done by the KGB.****

I feel sorry for the Jews who faced the Nazi holocaust, but they inflicted their own holocaust on the locals.

****No, it's frankly a disgusting use of language to compare the holocaust to the self-inflicted misery and depravity of the "palestinians" and their self constructed culture of death.****

 The USA backs Israel to the tune of $5 BILLION per year.  We sell them F15s, F16s, Apaches, spy gear, and other weapons that they use on the Palestinians they kicked out of their homes.  They pay for this with money we give them.

****We provide BILLIONS more to the arab nations surrounding Israel and military aid. However Israel has the intellectual ability to have a very compitent and creative domestic arms industry while the Arab nations sorrounding Israel produce new and exciting forms of terrorism. Second, most of the Arabs that ABANDONED their homes did so that they would return after the Jews had been driven into the sea. No such luck. A decent people would move forward, not teach their children it is glorious to be a suicide bomber.****

While I don't like it or want it, I don't blame the Palestinians for fighting back the only way they can.  It's sick and wrong, but they were painted into a corner by Israel, the UK, France, and the US.

****Utter garbage. Frankly they can only do what they do because Israel isn't willing to engage them in the total war they deserve.****

During most of the good years of Islam, they were waaaay more generous and civil to Christians and Jews than the other way around.  People of the Book had strong civil rights and were integrated within society.  This got tense during the crusades and inquisition, but Christendom never accorded them such rights.

****Although Jews certainly were better treated under some Islamic rulers than they were in Medival europe, it isn't because the muslims were equitable, but that the medival christians were so much more oppressive and brutal. Your assertion that Dhimmis "had strong civil rights" is to assert that blacks in the south in the 1950's "had strong civil rights. That is, if you accept your status and as a lesser human being and "know your place" otherwise face officially mandated violence.****

Also, Christians have been killing each other since Rome split.  Eastern vs. Catholic church (the Crusades were also against the Eastern church in Byzantium in effect, if not declared openly), Catholic vs. Protestant (remember the Three Musketeers?  Remember who they were fighting?  Protestants), Church of England vs. Catholic, and so on. 

True, Islam split almost immediately, but the only difference is the timing, not the fratricide.

****The difference is Christianity evolved and reformed. Islam is as raw and savage as when Muhammad was robbing caravans and killing those who angered him with mocking poems.****


As for growing into this monster, and "it" (however that's defined) is certainly a monster, I'd say stems directly from the Sykes-Picot Treaty at the end of WWI and was fueled by decades of petrol-dollars.  That explains the zit forming. 

Now, said zit is erupting (sorry for the gross metaphor) and I think that comes from globalism, which is its own topic.

Iraq is a perfect example - pieces of three nations who were formerly only united under religion are squished into one secular state (like Neopolitan ice cream).

A weak king is installed by foreigners who is a total sell out to the west (UK in this example - you can see a movie with Alec Guinness as Feisal, I forget the name but it's explains a lot).

The west sucks out oil. ****And pumps in dollars.****

They rebel in the form of the Bath party who tries to re-unite Arabia (Syria was the first), having recent memories of 1200 years of unity), and they are tolerated so long as the oil flows and so long as they keep Iran, the other regional power who is exporting religious fundamentalism (and perversion of Islam), revolution and terrorism, at bay.

That phase ends, China grows, Venusuela is being extremely difficult, South America is nationalizing some of its energy, Globalism is on the rise and oil is looking like it will be sought after by China and India (and drying up, too), so the US invades to set up OUR pet companies.

****Iraq has given it's oil contracts to non-US companies. So much for the conspiracy theories.****

This pops that zit and now Pandora's Box has been opened.

****My view is the global interconnectivity has shown the "umma" how primitive they are compared to the west, which rather than question why islam retards development, project their rage outward the kafir, especially the Jews. Islam teaches islamic supremacy and they cannot question that, so every failure of islam is projected outwards as a conspiracy, especially a jewish conspiracy.****

Anyway, that's how I see it.
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« Reply #43 on: April 18, 2007, 01:06:13 PM »

****Here are some muslim websites on the topic of sharia and the requirement of it.****

Common Mistakes Muslims Fall Into

15. Not believing fully in the Shariah.

The Islamic Shariah represents the will of Allah (swt) and His messenger Mohammad (pbuh). As Muslims, we must go about all matters according to the will of Allah (swt). In the holy Qur'an, Allah (swt) has revealed to humanity many verdicts and solutions to many of the problems faced by us. In order to be a true believer in Allah (swt), and in order to worship Allah (swt) only, we must follow the guidance of Allah (swt).

The holy Qur'an also instructs us to follow the messenger of Allah (swt), prophet Mohammad (pbuh). There are many ayat to this effect, which are discussed under a separate article. Therefore, the will of Allah (swt) is for us to worship Him by following His guidance as revealed in the holy Qur'an and in the Sunnah of prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

All Muslims should live their lives according to the Islamic Shariah. Muslim nations should strive to implement the Islamic Shariah in all matters. All laws, legislation, trade, politics and all other matters should be conducted according to the Shariah.

Many nations today rely in their so called "constitutions" on foreign systems of law. Many nations where the majority of inhabitants are Muslims derive their law from western systems of law, such as French or British law. This includes all matters including criminal law and even family law!

How can we continue to abandon the law of Allah (swt) and rely on the man made law?

Some evidence that Muslims must fully believe in and implement the Shariah is shown below:

"And whoever does not judge by what Allah revealed, then they are Kafirun." (Surat Al-Maidah, Ayah 44).

"And this (He commands): ‘Judge thou between them by what Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires but beware of them lest they beguile you from any of that (teaching) which Allah has sent down to you.’ And if they turn away be assured that for some of their crimes it is Allah's purpose to punish them. And truly most men are rebellious." (Surat Al-Maidah, Ayah 49).

"Do they then seek after a judgment of (the Days of) Ignorance? But who for a people whose faith is assured can give better judgment than Allah?" (Surat Al-Maidah, Ayah 50).

There is a lot more evidence from the Qur'an and Sunnah, but for the Muslim these three ayat should be sufficient to make them implement the Shariah in their life. The first ayah mentioned describes those who do not rule by what Allah has revealed as unbelievers. How can the Muslim not implement Shariah fully after hearing this verse?

Question and Answer Details

Name of Questioner
Jody   - Canada
Separating Islam and Politics
Is it true that there is no politics in Islam? Should politics be separated from religion?
Name of Counsellor
`Atiyyah Saqr
Imamate & Political Systems


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we commend your keenness on getting your self well-acquainted with Islam and its teachings, which is the way Allah has chosen for the welfare of His servants.

Answering the question in point, Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, states:

“Religion is a divine system set for people’s benefit in this life and the Hereafter. The Islamic teachings, actually, enables man to attain happiness here, in this life, and later, in the Hereafter. On the other hand, politics is originally the technique of administration and management. So, it is commonly used as a term for a ruler's regime, with the different organizations and laws that regulate it.

Islam sheds light on all aspects of politics. The books of jurisprudence (Fiqh) contain chapters and sections on all such aspects, including the various textual evidences and personal judgments on them. There are also whole books written on politics, the oldest of these specialized books are Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah by al-Mawardi and As-Siyasah ash-Shar`iyyah fi ahwal ar-Ra`i war-Ra`iyyah by Ibn Taymiyyah.

The Islamic state was established on the basis of the Islamic system, which covers all aspects of life, religious and worldly. We also see that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was a conductor of the Divine Revelation, a legislator, a leader in prayer, a judge, and the commander of the army, and so were the Caliphs after him. With such integrity the Islamic nation was the greatest of all nations.

So, the notion of separating politics from religion and vice versa does not belong to Islam. It is taken from non-Muslim sources, i.e. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto God what is God’s”, as the famous quote goes."

Question Date:
Topic :
Politics, non-Muslims in Islamic States
I'm a political science major at georgia state university and I'm very interested in learning about islam and the middle east. Is it possible to be an islamist secularist? Also how would non-muslims be effected in an islamic state governed by islamic law. thank you
Dear K. Greetings. Regarding your questions, depending what you mean by Islamist secularist. If you mean that a non-Muslim becomes an expert about Islam but still believes in the secular approach on her own, then the answer is yes, it is possible. If you mean that it is a Muslim person who believes in secularism, then it is not possible, because Islam is a complete system. It doesn't separate State and Religion. The purpose of the an Islamic State is to establish and apply God's Legislation on earth, and the purpose of a Muslim, is to implement such a system. Therefore, a Muslim cannot believe in one part of the religion and disregard the other responsibility. Regarding the other portion of your question, non-Muslims have the choice of either reverting to Islam or staying on their own religion. (We use reverting not converting because Muslims believe that a human being by instinct, is born as a believer in one God, and it is his/her parents or society that changes the natural aspiration and tendency in him/her.) To continue the answer, if the non-Muslims choose not to revert to Islam, then they have to pay a certain tax, called in Arabic the Jizya, for protection, but they are at the same time exempt from other taxes and duties that Muslim have to pay, like the Zakat tax. In addition, they exempt from serving in the army. There are many other regulations, and if you need to know about a specific topic, please don't hesitate to write us back. Thank you for asking, and we hope to be able to serve you more efficiently in the future.
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« Reply #44 on: April 18, 2007, 01:08:18 PM »

From Russia With Terror   
By Jamie Glazov | March 1, 2004

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Ion Mihai Pacepa, former acting chief of Communist Romania’s espionage service. In 1987 he published Red Horizons (Regnery Gateway), reprinted in 24 countries. In 1999 Mr. Pacepa authored The Black Book of the Securitate, reportedly an all time bestseller in Romania. He is now finishing a book on the origins of current anti-Americanism.

Frontpage Magazine: Welcome to Frontpage Interview, Mr. Pacepa. Let’s begin. As a former Romanian spy chief who used to take direct orders from the Soviet KGB, you are obviously armed with a wealth of information. You have written about how the Soviets armed Hussein with WMDs, and also taught him how to eliminate any trace of them. Can you talk a bit about this and tell us its connection to the “missing WMDs” in Iraq today?

Pacepa: Contemporary political memory seems to be conveniently afflicted with some kind of Alzheimer's disease. Not long ago, every Western leader, starting with President Clinton, fumed against Saddam’s WMD. Now almost no one remembers that after General Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s son-in-law, defected to Jordan in 1995, he helped us find “more than one hundred metal trunks and boxes” containing documentation “dealing with all categories of weapons, including nuclear.” He also aided UNSCOM to fish out of the Tigris River high-grade missile components prohibited to Iraq. That was exactly what my old Soviet-made “Sãrindar” plan stated he should do in case of emergency: destroy the weapons, hide the equipment, and preserve the documentation. No wonder Saddam hastened to lure Kamel back to Iraq, where three days later he was killed together with over 40 of his relatives in what the Baghdad official press described as a “spontaneous administration of tribal justice.” Once that was done, Saddam slammed the door shut to any UNSCOM inspection.

FP: So was any Sãrindar plan activated?
Pacepa: Certainly. The minimal version of the Sãrindar plan I made for Libya’s Gaddafi. Soon after I was granted political asylum in the US, Gaddafi staged a fire at the secret chemical weapons facility I knew about (the cellar underneath the Rabta chemical complex). To be sure the CIA satellites would notice that fire and cross that target off its list, he created a huge cloud of black smoke by burning truckloads of tires and painting scorch marks on the facility. That was written in the Sãrindar plan. To be on the safe side, Gaddafi also built a second production facility, this time placed some 100 feet underground in the hollowed-out Tarhunah Mountain, south of Tripoli. That was not in the Sãrindar plan.
FP: It is undeniable, therefore, that Saddam had WMDs, right?

Pacepa: In the early 1970s, the Kremlin established a “socialist division of labor” for persuading the governments of Iraq and Libya to join the terrorist war against the US. KGB chairman Yury Andropov (who would later become the leader of the Soviet Union), told me that either of those two countries could inflict more damage on the Americans than could the Red Brigades, the Baader-Meinhof group and all other terrorist organizations taken together. The governments of those Arab countries, Andropov explained, not only had inexhaustible financial resources (read: oil), but they also had huge intelligence services that were being run by “our razvedka advisers” and could extend their tentacles to every corner of the earth. There was one major danger, though: by raising terrorism to the state level we risked American reprisal. Washington would never dispatch its airplanes and rockets to exterminate the Baader-Meinhof, but it might well deploy them to destroy a terrorist state. We therefore were also tasked to provide those countries secretly with weapons of mass destruction, because Andropov concluded that the Yankees would never attack a country that could retaliate with such deadly weapons.

Libya was Romania’s main client in that socialist division of labor, because of Ceausescu’s close association with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Moscow kept Iraq. Andropov told me that, if our Iraq and Libyan experiment proved successful, the same strategy would be extended to Syria. Recently, Libya’s Gaddafi admitted to having WMD, and the CIA inspectors found them. Why should we believe that the almighty Soviet Union, which had proliferated WMD all over the world, was not able to do the same thing in Iraq? Every piece of armament Iraq had came from the former Soviet Union—from the Katyusha launchers to the T72 tanks, BMP-1 fighting vehicles and MiG fighter planes. In the spring of 2002, just a couple of weeks after Russia took its place at the NATO table, President Putin and his ex-KGB officers who are now running Russia concluded another $40 billion trade deal with Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical regime in Iraq. That was not for grain or beans—Russia has to import them from elsewhere.

FP: Tell us about the PLO and its connection to the Soviet regime. 

Pacepa: The PLO was dreamt up by the KGB, which had a penchant for “liberation” organizations. There was the National Liberation Army of Bolivia, created by the KGB in 1964 with help from Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Then there was the National Liberation Army of Colombia, created by the KGB in 1965 with help from Fidel Castro, which was soon deeply involved in kidnappings, hijackings, bombings and guerrilla warfare. In later years the KGB also created the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which carried out numerous bombing attacks on the “Palestinian territories” occupied by Israel, and the “Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia,” created by the KGB in 1975, which organized numerous bombing attacks against US airline offices in Western Europe.

In 1964 the first PLO Council, consisting of 422 Palestinian representatives handpicked by the KGB, approved the Palestinian National Charter—a document that had been drafted in Moscow. The Palestinian National Covenant and the Palestinian Constitution were also born in Moscow, with the help of Ahmed Shuqairy, a KGB influence agent who became the first PLO chairman. (During the Six-Day War he escaped from Jerusalem disguised as a woman, thereafter becoming such a symbol within the bloc intelligence community that one of its later influence operations—aimed at making the West consider Arafat a moderate—was given the codename “Shuqairy.”) This new PLO was headed by a Soviet-style Executive Committee made up of 15 members who, like their comrades in Moscow, also headed departments. As in Moscow—and Bucharest—the chairman of the Executive Committee became the general commander of the armed forces as well. The new PLO also had a General Assembly, which was the Soviet-inspired name given to all East European parliaments after World War II.

Based on another “socialist division of labor,” the Romanian espionage service (DIE) was responsible for providing the PLO with logistical support. Except for the arms, which were supplied by the KGB and the East German Stasi, everything else came from Bucharest. Even the PLO uniforms and the PLO stationery were manufactured in Romania free of charge, as a “comradely help.” During those years, two Romanian cargo planes filled with goodies for the PLO landed in Beirut every week, and were unloaded by Arafat’s men.

FP: You have discussed your personal knowledge of how Arafat was created and cultivated by the KGB and how the Soviets actually designed him to be the future leader of the PLO. Illuminate this picture for us please.
Pacepa: “Tovarishch Mohammed Abd al-Rahman Abd al-Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini, nom de guerre Abu Ammar,” was built into a Palestinian leader by the KGB in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day Arab-Israeli War. In that war Israel humiliated two of the Soviet Union’s most important allies in the Arab world of that time, Egypt and Syria, and the Kremlin thought that Arafat could help repair the Soviet prestige. Arafat had begun his political career as leader of the Palestinian terrorist organization al-Fatah, whose fedayeen were being secretly trained in the Soviet Union. In 1969, the KGB managed to catapult him up as chairman of the PLO executive committee. Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was also a Soviet puppet, publicly proposed the appointment.
Soon after that, the KGB tasked Arafat to declare war on American “imperial-Zionism” during the first summit of the Black International, an organization that was also financed by the KGB. Arafat claimed to have coined the word “imperial-Zionism,” but in fact Moscow had invented this battle cry many years earlier, combining the traditionally Russian anti-Semitism with the new Marxist anti-Americanism.
FP: Why has the American and Israeli leadership been deceived so long about Arafat’s criminal and terrorist activities?
Pacepa: Because Arafat is a master of deceit—and I unfortunately contributed to that. In March 1978, for instance, I secretly brought Arafat to Bucharest to involve him in a long-planned Soviet/Romanian disinformation plot. Its goal was to get the United States to establish diplomatic relations with him, by having him pretend to transform the terrorist PLO into a government-in-exile that was willing to renounce terrorism. Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev believed that newly elected US president Jimmy Carter would swallow the bait. Therefore, he told the Romanian dictator that conditions were ripe for introducing Arafat into the White House. Moscow gave Ceausescu the job because by 1978 my boss had become Washington’s most favored tyrant. “The only thing people in the West care about is our leaders,” the KGB chairman said, when he enrolled me in the effort of making Arafat popular in Washington. “The more they come to love them, the better they will like us.”

“But we are a revolution,” Arafat exploded, after Ceausescu explained what the Kremlin wanted from him. “We were born as a revolution, and we should remain an unfettered revolution.” Arafat expostulated that the Palestinians lacked the tradition, unity, and discipline to become a formal state. That statehood was only something for a future generation. That all governments, even Communist ones, were limited by laws and international agreements, and he was not willing to put any laws or other obstacles in the way of the Palestinian struggle to eradicate the state of Israel.

My former boss was able to persuade Arafat into tricking President Carter only by resorting to dialectical materialism, for both were fanatical Stalinists who knew their Marxism by heart. Ceausescu sympathetically agreed that “a war of terror is your only realistic weapon,” but he also told his guest that, if he would transform the PLO into a government-in-exile and would pretend to break with terrorism, the West would shower him with money and glory. “But you have to keep on pretending, over and over,” my boss emphasized.

Ceausescu pointed out that political influence, like dialectical materialism, was built upon the same basic tenet that quantitative accumulation generates qualitative transformation. Both work like cocaine, let’s say. If you sniff it once or twice, it may not change your life. If you use it day after day, though, it will make you into an addict, a different man. That’s the qualitative transformation. And in the shadow of your government-in-exile you can keep as many terrorist groups as you want, as long as they are not publicly connected with your name.

In April 1978 I accompanied Ceausescu to Washington, where he convinced President Jimmy Carter that he could persuade Arafat to transform his PLO into a law-abiding government-in-exile, if the United States would establish official relations with him. Thereupon, President Carter publicly hailed Ceausescu as a “great national and international leader” who had “taken on a role of leadership in the entire international community.”
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« Reply #45 on: April 18, 2007, 01:10:06 PM »

****Continued from above.****

Three months later I was granted political asylum by the United States, and Romania’s tyrant lost his dream of getting the Nobel Peace Prize. A quarter of a century later, however, Arafat remains in place as the PLO chairman and seems to still be on track with the Kremlin’s game of deception. In 1994, Arafat was granted the Nobel Peace Prize because he agreed to transform his terrorist organization into a kind of government-in-exile (the Palestinian Authority) and pretended, over and over, that he would abolish the articles in the 1964 PLO Covenant that call for the destruction of the state of Israel and would eradicate Palestinian terrorism. At the end of the 1998-99 Palestinian school year, however, all one hundred and fifty new schoolbooks used by Arafat’s Palestinian Authority described Israel as the “Zionist enemy” and equated Zionism with Nazism. Two years after the Oslo Accords were signed, the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists rose by 73% compared to the two year period preceding the agreement.
FP: There simply can’t be any kind of peace in the Middle East with Arafat at the helm. What advice would you give to American and Israeli diplomats now?
Pacepa: To expose Arafat’s lies and condemn his bloody terrorism, but to avoid being implicated in physical reprisals against him—that would certainly make him a hero with the Palestinians. I strongly suggest the Ceausescu solution. In November 1989, when he was loudly reelected president of Romania, Ceausescu was as popular there as Arafat is now with the Palestinians. A month later, however, Ceausescu was tried for genocide by his own people and executed by his own people. From one day to the next Ceausescu became the symbol of tyranny. Romania turned into a free country, and twelve years later it was invited to join NATO.
FP: Tell us a bit about what you think about the state of the KGB in Russia today. Some say it is experiencing a resurrection. Is this true?
Pacepa: It certainly is. In the last dozen years, Russia has been transformed for the better in unprecedented ways. Nevertheless, that country has a long way to go until it will tear down the legacy of Soviet Communism. As of June 2003, some 6,000 former KGB officers were reportedly holding important positions in Russia’s central and regional governments. Three months later, nearly half of the top governmental positions were also held by former KGB. It is like putting the old, supposedly defeated Gestapo in charge of rebuilding Germany.
Since the fall of Communism the Russians have been faced with an indigenous form of capitalism run by old Communist bureaucrats, speculators and ruthless mafiosi that has widened social inequities and created a decline in industrial production. Therefore, after a period of upheaval, the Russians have gradually—and perhaps thankfully—slipped back into their historical form of government, the traditional Russian samoderzhaviye (autocracy) traceable to the 14th century’s Ivan the Terrible, in which a feudal lord ruled the country with the help of his personal political police. Good or bad, the historically Russian political police may appear to most people in that country as their only defense against the rapacity of the new capitalists at home and the greediness of grasping foreign neighbors.
Russia will never return to Communism—too many Russians perished at the hands of that heresy. But it seems that Russia will not truly turn westward either, at least not under this generation. If history—including that of the last 14 years—is any guide, the Russians, who are now enjoying their regained nationalism, will struggle to rebuild a kind of an Old Russian Empire by inspiring themselves from old Russian traditions and by using old Russian ways and means.
FP: So is Russia a friend or a foe of the United States in the present international environment?

Pacepa: After the Berlin Wall was torn down, I hurried over there to have a look around. The dreaded East German political police was abolished from one day to the next, and its archives were opened to the public. One year later, the Stasi’s outrageous activity was laid bare in a large, impressive museum of freedom. A member of the Berlin parliament told me that the Germans wanted to provide the world with the certitude that the past would never be repeated. To be on the safe side, the German government sold off all the Stasi’s buildings to private companies.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, the new rulers in the Kremlin did not open the archives of the Soviet Union’s political police, but in 1992 they did create their own kind of KGB museum in Moscow, in a dreary gray building behind the Lubyanka. The upper floors remain KGB offices, but the rooms on the ground floor are used for conferences and as a club for retired KGB officers—complete with disco.

On September 11, 2002, numerous former KGB officers gathered at the KGB museum. They had not congregated in order to sympathize with us on the date of our national tragedy, but to celebrate the 125th birthday of Feliks Dzerzhinsky—the man who created one of the most criminal institutions in contemporary history. A few days later, Moscow’s mayor, Yury Lushkov, one of Russia’s most influential politicians, reversed his previous opposition and now said he wanted to restore Dzerzhinsky’s bronze statue to its former place of honor on Lubyanka Square. Just before that, the new Russian president ordered that the statue of Yury Andropov be reinstated at the Lubyanka, from where it had been removed after the KGB coup in 1991. Andropov is indeed the only other KGB officer to have been enthroned in the Kremlin, and it was therefore normal for Putin to pay homage to him. For all his life, Andropov indoctrinated his subordinates to believe that American Imperialism was the main enemy of their country. Now these subordinates are running Russia. It may take another generation until the visceral hatred for the US cultivated by Andropov disappears.

FP: How does Russia fit in the War on Terror? Isn’t there at least a common interest in fighting Islamic terrorism?

Pacepa: September 11, 2001 was directly rooted in a joint Soviet/Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) operation conceived in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day Arab-Israeli War. The object of this joint operation was to repair Moscow's prestige by turning the Islamic world against Israel and by creating a rabid and violent hatred for its main supporter, the United States. The strategy was to portray the US, this land of freedom, as a Nazi-style "imperial-Zionist country" financed by Jewish money and run by a rapacious "Council of the Elders of Zion" (the Kremlin's epithet for the US Congress), the aim of which was allegedly to transform the rest of the world into a Jewish fiefdom. In other words, the heart of the joint plan was to convert the historical Arab and Islamic hatred of the Jews into a new hatred of the United States. We threw many millions of dollars at this gigantic task, which involved whole armies of intelligence officers.

In the late 1960s, a new element was added to the Soviet/PLO war against Israel and American imperial-Zionism: international terrorism. Before 1969 came to an end, the KGB's Thirteenth Department-known in our intelligence jargon as the Department for Wet Affairs, wet being a euphemism for bloody-invented airplane hijacking. The KGB constantly lectured at us that no one within the

American/Zionist sphere of influence should feel safe anymore. The hijacked airplane became an instrument of Soviet foreign policy-and eventually the weapon of choice for September 11, 2001.

During those years of intensive airplane hijackings, I became amazed at the almost identical pride both Arafat and KGB General Sakharovsky exhibited over their prowess as terrorists. “I invented the hijacking of [passenger] airplanes,” Arafat bragged to me in the early 1970s, when I first met him. A few months later I met with Sakharovsky at his Lubyanka office. He pointed to the red flags pinned onto a world map hanging on his wall. “Look at that,” he said. Each flag represented a plane that had been downed. “Airplane hijacking is my own invention,” he boasted.

Sakharovsky’s subordinates are now reigning in the Kremlin. Until they fully disclose their involvement in creating anti-American terrorism and condemn Arafat’s terrorism, there is no reason to believe they have changed.

FP: Mr. Pacepa. thank you. We are out of time. It was a great honor to speak with you. I hope you will return and join us again.

Pacepa: It was a great pleasure to be with you, and I would be delighted to return.

I welcome all of our readers to get in touch with me if they have a good idea/contact for a guest for Frontpage Interview. Email me at
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Posts: 15533

« Reply #46 on: April 18, 2007, 01:12:26 PM »

****Yes, this is from that right-wing paper from that right-wing part of Manhattan.   ****

Letter From Israel
Palestine 101
A Short Take on a Long History
by Sylvana Foa
July 31 - August 6, 2002

JAFFA—Have you heard the one about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Chairman Yasir Arafat finally sitting down to negotiate? Sharon opened with a "biblical" tale.
"Before the Israelites came to the Promised Land and settled here, Moses led them for 40 years through the desert. One day, miraculously, a stream appeared. They drank and then decided to bathe. When Moses came out of the water, he found all his clothes missing.

" 'Who took my clothes?' Moses asked. 'It was the Palestinians,' replied the Israelites."

"Wait a minute," interrupted Arafat. "There were no Palestinians during the time of Moses!"

"All right," smirked Sharon, "now that we've got that settled, let's start talking."

"If the lie is big enough and told often enough, it will be believed," Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels once said. What worked for Goebbels evidently is also working for Arafat.

The blatant lies and vicious propaganda emanating from the Arab world have gotten out of hand. Anti-Semitism is out of the closet. Jews are murdered in Canada, their graves are desecrated in Italy. It's time to sort through the spiteful drivel.

No, Charlie, despite what you read on a zillion Arab Web sites, Jews do not use the blood of Arab children to bake their holiday bread.

Yes, Harriet, the Jewish Temple did exist in Jerusalem. I know Arafat insists it didn't and his excavators are busy destroying all archaeological record of it. But next time you visit Rome, go check out the Forum and you'll find its story carved in the ancient stone of Titus's arch. Let's start at the beginning.

First, who really owns the land encompassing what is now Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority? The answer is so well documented it could be the subject of future UN resolutions—the Canaanites. They established the Land of Canaan here around 2000 B.C., so they have first dibs. Unfortunately for them, there isn't a single Canaanite left on earth.

Abraham, the Father of the Jews and a figure revered by Islam, led a band of Hebrews from Mesopotamia and began the conquest of Canaan in 1741 B.C.—that's 3743 years ago. Those first Israelites were joined in about 1290 B.C. by the Jewish slaves led out of Egypt by Moses.

After many years and a lot of help from Joshua, the Israelites finally defeated the Canaanites and old King Saul united the country in 1100 B.C. King David added Jerusalem in 1000 B.C., and King Solomon built the First Temple around 956 B.C. The land was plagued by raiders like those guys dubbed the Philistines, "Sea Invaders," who came out of the Aegean and snatched a nice chunk of the coast. Remember Goliath? He was a Philistine and King David made mincemeat of him, but the Philistines were a nuisance for many years.

Big trouble loomed in 586 B.C. when the Babylonians (nasty ancestors of the nasty Iraqis) invaded under King Nebuchadnezzar II. They sacked the lavish city Solomon had built in Jerusalem and tore down the First Temple. The Babylonians rounded up all the Jews they could catch and deported them to Babylonia as slaves. That "Babylonian Exile" lasted a mere 50 years and the Jews returned to build the Second Temple.

For the next 1000 years, everyone and his brother grabbed a piece of the territory—Persians, Greeks, and Romans. The Roman reign was particularly benevolent. They destroyed the Second Temple in 70 A.D. and killed an estimated 1.1 million disobedient Jews, including one named Jesus. The Romans also maliciously renamed the area Palaestina, after the Jews' old enemy, the Philistines. The Christian Byzantine Empire took over in 300 A.D. and held on for more than 300 years. During that era, the Muslim Prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570 A.D.

Muhammad's followers believed in conversion, big time, and swarmed around the Middle East giving everyone a fair choice—become a Muslim or die. These Arabs stormed Palestine in 638 A.D. Do the math. The Arabs got to the region 2379 years after the Jews. So, who is occupying whom??

The Arabs considered Palestine unimportant and ruled from Damascus and Baghdad. You could call them benign except for the massacres and the fact that they were uncomfortable with trees . . . so they cut them all down, turning the once fertile region into a more familiar desert.

With all the hoopla about Jerusalem, check out the Muslim holy book, the Koran. The Koran mentions Mecca and Medina countless times but never once speaks of Jerusalem. On the other hand, there are 811 references to Jerusalem in the Bible.

Christian Crusaders arrived from Europe in 1099 and ousted the Arabs. In subsequent years, the land switched back and forth between invaders, and in the turmoil Jews began filtering back from their scattered exile. Many came from Spain, whence they were expelled in 1492.

In 1516, the non-Arab Ottoman Turks conquered Palestine and held sway until after World War I, when the British took over.

We really have no idea how many Jews and how many Arabs there were at the time—mainly because both groups hid from the Ottoman census takers to avoid taxes.

But we do know that there were probably fewer than 350,000 people, the majority Arab, in the whole region (including what is now Jordan) when Mark Twain made a pilgrimage in 1867.

In his travelogue, Innocents Abroad, Twain wrote, "One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings."

"Nazareth is forlorn . . . Jericho the accursed lies a moldering ruin today," Twain said, adding, "There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere."

But the population was growing. More Jews arrived from Eastern Europe and Russia in the 1880s, either fleeing oppression or following the Zionist dream. And Arabs from neighboring countries flocked to jobs created by Jewish immigrants.

Take a deep breath, because now the plot thickens.

In 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration and promised "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People."

The British then turned around and gave over 77 percent of Palestine to the Arab Hashemites, for what later became Jordan. The remaining 23 percent, west of the River Jordan, was supposedly for the Jews.

But in 1947, the UN voted to partition that 23 percent of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The Israelis accepted the plan and in 1948 proclaimed the establishment of their state. Neighboring Arab nations, however, rejected both the partition and the idea of a Jewish state and launched a massive invasion of Israel.

They were defeated, and at the end of the 1948 war Israel held all of Western Palestine except the West Bank, which was captured by Jordan, and Gaza, which was seized by Egypt.

In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel again defeated Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, gaining control not only of Gaza and the West Bank, but also of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Syria's Golan Heights.

The big question is: Where were the calls for a Palestinian state during the 19 years Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt held Gaza?

A 1978 peace accord signed with Egypt returned the Sinai to Cairo, but the Egyptians seemed relieved to leave Gaza with Israel. In 1988, King Hussein of Jordan officially renounced all claims to the West Bank.

As far as Israelis were concerned, the land, won in a defensive war, belonged to them.

But even after all the nauseating terror of the last 23 months, the majority of Israelis are willing to give Palestinians the West Bank, Gaza, and half of Jerusalem for their state. We just wonder if they are willing to let us keep ours.

Posts: 14

« Reply #47 on: April 18, 2007, 01:17:25 PM »

There is absolutely nothing defensive about a war in which the invaders establish a beach head and fight off the locals trying to defend their homes.
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Posts: 15533

« Reply #48 on: April 18, 2007, 01:25:35 PM »


You live in the US, right?
Posts: 14

« Reply #49 on: April 18, 2007, 01:27:20 PM »

You're joking, right, GM?

****We provide BILLIONS more to the arab nations surrounding Israel and military aid. However Israel has the intellectual ability to have a very compitent and creative domestic arms industry while the Arab nations sorrounding Israel produce new and exciting forms of terrorism. ****
They are pretty competent with a lot of things.  Intel is being outsourced to Israel, etc.  They also have a labor force that bounces between Silicon Valley and Israel, their pet industries get gov't support (whereas ours must rely upon earning money and/or capital investment), and they built

*****Second, most of the Arabs that ABANDONED their homes did so that they would return after the Jews had been driven into the sea. *****
Yes, the locals ran away from a massive fight that was brewing in their homeland.  You would want to get the heck out of Dodge, too.  They were about to be smashed between a hammer and an anvil.

*****No such luck. A decent people would move forward, not teach their children it is glorious to be a suicide bomber.****
 huh huh huh  A "decent people" would accept a foreign invasion and occupation, the rape of their culture and homes and people, and not fight back?  You ARE joking, aren't you?  You have to be.

You need to go learn more about this.  You are swallowing too much propoganda without thinking about it.  Try this book (it's not what you're expecting, given the discussion in this thread, and it doesn't pick sides, unlike me):
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