Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Why is it that only a tiny minority of Muslims in the Western world take up terrorism?
The orthodox answer is the risible claim that "Islam is a religion of peace" and that the jihadis are perverting their religion to make it condone violence.
I have read the Koran, keep my copy of it handy and from time to time check in it to confirm that it says the things that people say it says. And there can be no doubt that is a document of hate -- hate for non-Muslims. It is suffused with anger. And its commands to attack and subdue unbelievers are clear.
So why do most Muslims in the Western world NOT go on Jihad? Why do they ignore the clear precepts of their holy book? They wage ferocious religious wars in their Middle East heartland so why do they mostly go quiet among us? I think it is because they actually like the comforts of life in the West and know that anyone who goes on Jihad here will certainly end up dead.
Our good lifestyle has corrupted them. As it has done for Christians, a soft modern lifestyle has defused religious passions. For social reasons, many modern day Muslims may go to the Mosque on Friday but their degree of religious committment is probably little different from the degree of committment to their religion that is observable in modern-day adherents of the Church of England. Anglican bishops 400 years ago were burnt at the stake for their religion but the only burning to bother them these days would be burnt toast.
So what is to be done to stop the terrorist attacks? I reproduce below two relevant articles that attempt some ansewer to that. The first is by Greg Sheridan, a prominent Australian conservative writer, which makes the obviously true argument that we have to stop denying the Islamic motivation behind the attacks.
I then also reproduce below a proposal from late last year by Egyptian MAAJID NAWAZ that argues that we need to win the propaganda war in order to defeat terrorism. The whole argument is however too sophisticated for Western politicians, I fear. The writer has had good access to leading Western politicians but without evident effect.
And in between the two articles I reproduce a comment by a reader of the Sheridan article which gives chapter and verse of what the Koran says. It may well be the most interesting part of the whole presentation here.
Then finally, I give my solution. One of great simplicity but one that would undoubtedly work -- JR
Orlando shooting: time has arrived for honest, plain speaking
The appalling shootings in Florida are the worst single mass shooting in US history.
They are something else as well. They are an act of radical Islamist terrorism.
We know this because the terrorist, Omar Mateen, rang authorities from inside the Pulse nightclub — where he shot dead 50 innocent people attending the gay club’s Latin night — to pledge his allegiance to the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi, and his support for the Boston bombers.
Several disturbing dynamics are revealed by this attack.
The threat posed by lone-wolf terrorists, and perhaps self-radicalised jihadists (although we don’t know Mateen was self-radicalised), is increasing.
They have seen which attacks are effective and worked out that the combination of an automatic weapon and a crowded facility full of civilians, preferably with some iconic significance, offers the biggest impact.
Within the US, the political fallout will help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
Recent history shows that mass shootings have very little impact on the debate about America’s appalling gun laws.
But these killings will have an effect on the politics of terrorism.
Trump projects a tougher stance on terror than Clinton does, and the American people want to be protected and to know their leaders are doing everything they can to protect them. Most of the things that Trump proposes are meaningless or nonsense, but he has cornered the tough-on-terror brand.
Clinton has been calling out Trump’s irresponsible and at times offensive rhetoric. Now she must also show that she can handle every aspect of the national security challenge.
President Barack Obama has virtually banned anyone in his administration from using terms like “radical Islamist terrorism”. This is a terrible decision. It exacerbates community tension and the corroding sense that politicians are dissemblers.
Much of the commentary on Fox News in reaction to the shootings was along the lines that the country is drowning in political correctness.
Mainstream leaders need to take political ownership of an issue like terrorism and reassure the public that they are talking to them honestly about it and dealing effectively with the issue. If not, the public will turn to demagogues like Trump.
You cannot defeat terrorism by speaking about it politely.
Mainstream Muslims are certainly not in any way responsible for the appalling actions of extremists.
But modern radical Islamist terrorism springs from a minority interpretation of Islam which does have the support, in varying degrees, of a small but significant minority of Muslims.
Malcolm Turnbull, though fully committed to robust counter-terrorist action, is equivocal in the language he uses and licenses his colleagues to use. He rightly labelled this attack an act of terror but said it was important to find out what the gunman’s real motivation was.
But the gunman has told us what his motivation was.
It will almost certainly turn out that he had some mental disturbance. Most fanatics have a mental disturbance. But they are still capable of being attracted to an ideology and acting on its precepts.
A comment on the above from "Liberty"
‘…..modern radical Islamist terrorism springs from a minority interpretation of Islam ...’… classical Sheridan. Complete drivel.
The Quran is divided into the Meccan Quran and the Medinan Quran. The Meccan Quran contains some peaceful verses Q 2:256; 5:32; 3:64; 4:56; 109. But each of these Meccan verses was revealed when Muhammad was weak.
When Muhammad went on hijra to Medina and established the first Islamic State he revealed the full Quran containing the sharia law mandate to use violent jihad, terrorism, subversion, hijra (hostile migration and demography) and dawa to subjugate all people to sharia.
The war doctrine and mandate to govern globally is contained in very clear verses of the Quran 2:190-3; 8:12; 8:39; 8:60; 9:05; 9:29; 9:111 and 47:4. But here is the point. It is very clear sharia law that the later Medinan Quran abrogates the earlier Meccan one - So that the peaceful verses are replaced by the imperialist ones. The doctrine of abrogation is a mainstream interpretation not simply a minority interpretation.
The mandate to jihad for the global caliphate is not simply a minority interpretation. It is the very clear word of the Quran. It is mandatory for all sharia compliant Muslims. The Quran makes clear that all Muslims must follow sharia law to the letter and engage in jihad (Q 9:111; 2:216; 33:36).
Thankfully however, many Muslims do not follow this clear command, and a small number of reformist Muslims admit that this command to jihad exists but do not follow it and in fact renounce it – making them technically apostates for which the sharia law punishment is death.
End of comment by "Liberty"
Paris attacks: Muslims and non-Muslims must openly denounce Islamism
The first female jihadist suicide bomber to blow herself up on European shores has struck in Saint-Denis, in northern Paris.
The Pope and King Abdullah of Jordan have both named the Islamic State assault on Paris as the start of World War III.
I disagree. Those two horrific world wars involved states and conventional armies.
Up until now — and our reaction will determine whether it stays this way — this is a conflict involving an asymmetric non-state actor, which is by its sheer audacity forcing states to reconsider the precarious status quo of international relations today.
I believe it is safer, more accurate and more productive to name this a global jihadist insurgency. And after the latest events in Paris, this insurgency has well and truly reached European soil.
Recognising this as an insurgency, and not a world war, affects entirely how we react to it and could, in fact, avert World War III from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For unlike state-led wars that usually involve paid fighters with little buy-in or understanding of why they’re fighting, insurgencies involve volunteer fighters who thoroughly believe in the nobility of their cause. It matters not that Islamic State is simply bonkers.
As a global insurgency, and the lessons learned from Vietnam and many other insurgencies confirm this, we cannot simply shoot our way, arbitrarily intern our way or even legislate our way out of this problem.
Unlike war, counter-insurgency rests on the assumption that the enemy has significant enough levels of support within the communities it aims to survive among. Counter-insurgency then attempts to deny that enemy from gaining propaganda victories that further fuel its recruitment.
The aim is to well and truly isolate insurgents from their targeted host community. Once isolated, a combination of psychological, physical and economic warfare is launched to undermine the insurgents’ ideological, operational, and financial capabilities.
It follows, therefore, that propaganda victories, a messaging strategy that avoids using language that frames the problem in accordance to the enemy’s world view — known as semantic infiltration — and the cultivation and dissemination of counter and alternative narratives all become crucial if we wish to deny Islamic State its ability to communicate its appeal.
Between the apologism of the far Left, and the sensationalism of the far Right, we must avoid the dangers of a blind spot from our left eye or popping a blood vessel in our right. Both of those reactions will render us unable to see the real source of this insurgency’s appeal: the Islamist ideology, as distinct from the religion of Islam.
US President Barack Obama and many liberals shy away from calling this ideology Islamism; their fear is that Muslim communities and those on the political Right will simply hear the word Islam and begin to blame all Muslims. Instead, the mantra that is repeated is “Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam”. Phrasing things in this way rests on an understandable fear. But it exacerbates the problem it seeks to avert.
To explain this, for a while now I have been using a reference from popular culture, which I am glad to say has now made the Urban Dictionary. I call this the Voldemort Effect. Voldemort is the evil character in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The people in her fictional world are so terrified, so petrified of this evil, that they do two things: they refuse to call him by name, instead referring to him as “He Who Must Not Be Named”, and while refusing to name him, they also deny that he even exists at all.
Of course, all of this only increases the fear and worsens the panic and public hysteria, thus perpetuating Voldemort’s all-powerful myth even more so.
But what of the legitimate liberal concern that naming the problem Islamism further stigmatises everyday Muslims?
It is important to note that I speak as a liberal, and as a Muslim. In fact, I speak as a former Liberal Democrat candidate in Britain’s last general election, and as someone who became a political prisoner in Egypt because of my former belief in Islamism.
I hope it is clear, then, that I speak from a place of concern and familiarity, not enmity and hostility to Islam and Muslims.
I have argued that of course Islamic State is not Islam. Nor am I. Nor is anyone, really. Because Islam is what Muslims make it.
But it is as disingenuous to argue that Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam as it is to argue that “they are Islam per se”. Islamic State has something to do with Islam. Not nothing, not everything, but something.
If you’re going to argue with a jihadist — and trust me, I have done many times — you’re not going to find yourself discussing Hitler’s Mein Kampf. You’ll be discussing Islamic texts.
I should define here what I mean by Islamism: Islam is a religion, and like any other it is internally diverse. But Islamism is the desire to impose any version of Islam on society. Hence, Islamism is Muslim theocracy. And where jihad is a traditional Islamic idea of struggle, jihadism is the use of force to spread Islamism.
Some ask: why not use the word Wahhabism to describe this phenomenon. This is because, though fundamentalists in their own right, and in dire need of reform, not all Wahhabites are Islamists, just as not all Islamists are Wahhabites.
Hezbollah, for example, is a jihadist Shia — non-Wahhabite — organisation.
And like the Amish in the US, in Saudi Arabia there are many Wahhabites who are religious social conservatives while remaining apolitical, all in accordance to the teachings of one of their sheiks, al-Albani. This type of Wahhabite may be a fundamentalist but he is not an Islamist.
On the other hand, extremism is too general, and includes all forms of extremism. Islamism is the only accurate word that captures the desire to impose any version of Islam over society. Its critics have yet to come up with any alternative that works.
What happens if you don’t name the Islamist ideology and distinguish it from Islam? Obama in his last UN speech referred to a “poisonous ideology” yet failed to name it. In this way, we send out a message to the vast majority of non-Muslims that Islamic State relies on a “poisonous ideology”, but we don’t tell them what this ideology is called.
What will people assume? Most people, who are understandably in need of some guidance on such topics, may well assume that the ideology they must challenge is Islam and all Muslims, ergo the rise of xenophobic trends within Europe and the US and other Western countries.
By increasing the hysteria around an ideology that must not be named, and which does not exist — the Voldemort Effect — my fellow liberals and Muslims end up inadvertently increasing anti-Muslim hatred and increase the hysteria.
This brings me to the term Islamophobia, often deployed — even against other Muslims — as a shield against any criticism, and as a muzzle on free speech.
No idea, no matter how deeply held, should be given special status, for there will always be an equally deeply held belief in opposition to it.
Hatred motivated specifically to target Muslims must be condemned. But to confuse this hatred with satirising, questioning, researching, reforming, contextualising or historicising Islam, or any other faith or dogma, is as good as returning to Galileo’s Inquisition.
The right to heresy, to blasphemy and to speak against prevalent dogma is as sacred and divine as any act of prayer.
If our hard-earned liberty, our desire to be irreverent of the old and to question the new, can be reduced to one, basic and indispensable right, it must be the right to free speech.
Our freedom to speak represents our freedom to think, our freedom to think our ability to create, innovate and progress. You cannot kill an idea but you can certainly kill a person for expressing it. But if liberty means anything at all, it is the right to express oneself without being killed for it. It follows, therefore, that any liberal naturally concerned with a fair society must be the first to openly defend against the erosion of free speech, especially when deceptively done in the name of minority groups.
Anti-Muslim bigotry — the intolerance or prejudice towards Muslims — however, is starkly different from the scrutiny of Islam as a religion and needs to stop.
If we are able to distinguish Islamist extremism, Islam and Muslims in this way by clarifying that Islam is simply a religion — not inherently peaceful or war-like but simply a religion like any other — and that Islamism is a desire to impose any version of Islam over society, and that Muslims are individuals who deserve the utmost dignity, we are able to identify clearly the insurgent ideology that we must get to grips with, isolate, undermine, refute and provide alternatives to without stigmatising ordinary Muslims.
It is precisely these distinctions that I have spent the past few years advising Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron on. I would like to think this is why Cameron corrected Obama on this issue at the fringes of his same UN speech. Tiptoeing around the subject of Islam has reached levels of absurdity, riddled with double-speak, all because we seek to avoid a conversation around the relationship between Islam, Islamism and jihadism.
Meanwhile, our political leaders invariably have attempted to restrict the definition of the problem to whichever jihadist group is causing them the biggest headache at the time, while ignoring the fact they are all born of the Islamist ideology.
Before Islamic State emerged the US State Department strangely took to naming this problem “al-Qa’ida inspired extremism”, even though it was not al-Qa’ida that inspired this extremism. Rather, Islamist extremism inspired al-Qa’ida.
And in turn, Islamic State did not radicalise those 6000 European Muslims who have travelled to join them, or the thousands of supporters the French now say they are monitoring. This cannot have happened overnight and could not have emerged from a vacuum. Islamic State propaganda is good but not that good.
No, decades of Islamist propaganda in communities had already primed these young Muslims to yearn for a theocratic caliphate. When surveyed, 33 per cent of British Muslims expressed a desire to resurrect a caliphate.
Islamic State simply plucked the low-hanging fruit that had been seeded long ago by various Islamist groups, and it will require decades of community resilience to push back.
But we cannot even begin to do so until we recognise the problem for what it is. That will require shedding our tendency to appease, obfuscate, double-speak and tiptoe around the problem in the name of political correctness. And whereas our fellow Muslims require our compassion, and Islam is in need of reform today, Islamism must be intellectually terminated. In the long term, this is the only way to clip the wings of this fully blown global jihadist insurgency.
In recent months, driven by this same fear to use any word that references Islam in it whatsoever, many non-Arabs have insisted that we instead refer to Islamic State by its Arabic name, Daesh. Apparently, Arab friends have told them to do so.
The liberal working assumption has been that because Daesh does not contain the word Islam, it is softer to the ears of Muslims. Apart from the obvious that this global jihadist insurgency is not restricted to Islamic State but is borne by the rise of Islamism across the region, this particular trend is just plain weird.
Arabs use the word Daesh because, well, they’re speaking Arabic. If one asks any proficient Arabic speaker, and I am one of them, Daesh is merely the exact Arabic equivalent to the English acronym ISIS or the more technically accurate ISIL.
Daesh in Arabic, stands for Dawlat al-Islamiyah fi al-Iraq was al-Sham, which means: the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or the Levant. When placed in acronym form, in Arabic this becomes Daesh and in English it renders to ISIS or ISIL. There is no difference. Daesh does not mean anything else in Arabic. It is merely the Arabic acronym for ISIL.
At this stage, when sensing that it’s not going too well for them, the politically correct usually double-down, and wish to entertain word games: “but Daesh rhymes with Dais, to trample, or sounds like an insult, and ISIS hate it, so use it instead”. Well, do feel free to use it, please just stop telling the rest of us not to use its exact English equivalent. Isis is an Egyptian goddess, and we’re sure they would hate her, too. Just as they blew up the ancient statues at Palmyra, naming Islamic State after the unforgivable sin of shirk, or idolatry, would surely be punishable by death.
At this stage in the conversation, many tend to claim they are powerless to address Islamism, let alone refute it, because they are not Muslims.
However, just as one does not need to be black to care about the struggle against racism, and one need not be gay to worry about homophobia, one need not be Muslim to speak against theocracy.
Europe and Europeans are especially well placed to speak in a secular way about why theocracies were never good for humanity. In fact, this need not really be a religious conversation at all.
As for my fellow Muslims, many have pushed back against the call to address Islamism head on, and refute it, by asking why they should apologise for something that they have little or nothing to do with.
Again, this is an incredibly unhelpful and inconsistent rebuttal to what is essentially everyone’s social duty.
Just as we Muslims expect others to speak up and defend us against anti-Muslim bigotry — even, and especially if, they are non-Muslim — likewise we must speak up against Islamist theocracy.
It is not only our duty, but the least we can do to reciprocate the solidarity we rightly expect from our fellow citizens in the face of anti-Muslim bigotry. To do so is not to apologise but to show solidarity as fellow citizens.
A proven solution
The Western world has faced this problem before and defeated it. I refer to the fanatical religious code known as Bushido in Japan. Japanese warriors in WWII make Jihadis look like children playing games. Many armies have claimed that they will fight to the death but only the Japanese have ever done it. So why did they suddenly cave in and surrender, thus abandoning everything they stood for?
Nuclear weapons. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts subdued one of the most ferocious religions the world has ever seen. They would work just as well with the Muslims. Take out one of their holy cities with a small nuclear device and then keep taking out the rest of their holy cities until attacks on the West cease.
The firebrand Muslim preachers would rapidly lose their fire and counsel restraint instead of Jihad. It would certainly make them angry but the threat to their religion would trump that. As their holy cities vaporize, it would powerfully suggest itself to everyone that Allah is not on the side of the Muslims, thus threatening the very foundation of their religion. The mullahs could not afford that and would go to great lengths to limit the carnage.
I don't think Trump will do it but one day someone will. I see no other solution -- JR.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.