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"Muslims' Free Speech 'Threatened'":

A headline from the BBC News site. The story describes this report, from the Centre for Social Cohesion, which closes by suggesting ways in which "European governments ... [should] promote greater religious and social harmony by demonstrating that they see Muslims and those of Muslim background as full and complete citizens."

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

AntonK (mail):
That's hilarious! I haven't followed the link yet, but I assume it goes to the Onion?
11.10.2008 4:20pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
AntonK: I'm puzzled -- why assume when you can know, simply by following the links?
11.10.2008 4:23pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Well you know, for reporters or columnists to suggest that Muslims are going negative may constitute an attack that threatens Muslims' free speech rights under the Constitution, you know.
11.10.2008 4:24pm
Happyshooter:
Interesting. I would think the report's conclusion would be common sense, but sometimes people with authority have to say something to make it part of the public dialogue.
11.10.2008 4:29pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
To be slightly more serious: say that a European country generally polices and prosecutes threats and intimidation when they cross the line of protected speech under that country's laws. But say that that country, under the weight of what I will call for lack of a less lame and annoying term "political correctness," fails to police and prosecutes threats and intimidation by conservative Muslims against liberal or reformist Muslims who speak on topics related to the role of Islam in society.

Under that circumstance, I think one could make a colorable argument that the reformers' free speech rights are being threatened, since the preferential governmental inaction arguably constitutes state action. (Although some might argue that it would be more accurately called a violation of equal protection -- albeit a violation of equal protection that chills speech).

There are reports of such attitudes in some places in Europe, but I haven't seen proof.
11.10.2008 4:30pm
Jonathan Tappan (www):
The article seems to be saying that some Muslims, Salman Rushdie for example, have their free speech rights infringed by threats of violence from Muslim extremists. It seems to me that this is clearly true, and hardly controversial (except perhaps among Muslim extremists.)
11.10.2008 4:31pm
AntonK (mail):
Yes, the only speech being threatened in the broad context of Muslims/Islam is the speech of everyone but Muslims. Yes, the occasional Rushdie type gets muzzled too, but the trend in Europe and the rest of the Planet has been "Behead Those who Insult Islam" (or whatever).

Kill, kill, kill!!!
11.10.2008 4:37pm
Sarcastro (www):
AntonK is right. You can either support Muslim free speech or everyone else's free speech.

Not sure how this follows? Observe the logic:

Because some Muslims don't like free speech letting Muslims speak destroys free speech for everyone else.

It's a bit like gay marriage, really.
11.10.2008 4:45pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Interesting article.

Thanks.

AntonK, this is largely what the report was criticizing, that unless the EU countries can be safe for real discussions among Muslims about Islam, then....

However, it is also worth noting that "Free Speech" in European law is defined about as strongly as the right to bear arms is in the English Bill of Rights.....
11.10.2008 4:45pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
It is ironic that the criticism in this report is directed against European governments. They're doing a decent job in providing protection under difficult circumstances. To take the specific case of Rushdie, the Bitish provided him protection for over 9 years (which can't have been cheap) and in fact succeeded in protecting him. Since the source of the threat was foreign (Iranian), prosecuting really wasn't a reasonable option.

I haven't seen any reports that European governments are failing to take action against Muslims in their jurisdiction who make true threats, in the American First Amendment sense. The linked article doesn't seem to inicate that is the case.
11.10.2008 5:00pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"It's a bit like gay marriage, really."

It's nothing like gay marriage. Free speech goes back to the founding of the Republic and beyond. It's in explicitly in the Constitution. Gay marriage has never been an issue (until recently) anywhere at any time. Just wait a while and the counter culture will put forth some new synthetic right. How about the right to marry a primate? Already in Europe primates are now recognized as having the same rights as humans (or an approximation to that). Can inter-species marriage be that far off?
11.10.2008 5:05pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Europe can mitigate the radical Muslim problem by deporting them, not denying them free speech. They can have a the free speech they want outside of Europe.
11.10.2008 5:09pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
[Insert here pun on "primate," with the suggestion that Catholic primates indeed have much the same rights as humans but nonetheless may not marry, followed by long thread on marriage and Orthodox and Anglican primates, the evolution of celibacy within the Catholic Church, and the obligatory factoid on the existence of some married Catholic priests even today.]
11.10.2008 5:10pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
PDX Lawyer:

I haven't seen any reports that European governments are failing to take action against Muslims in their jurisdiction who make true threats, in the American First Amendment sense.


How about this?
... Furthermore a curse is expressed over the Jews and “Jihad is called for, to kill the Jews, whereby suicide bombers - celebrated as martyrs - are the most effective weapon”.
I'm not sure if the call to kill Jew is a "true threat" as in 1A, but it certainly violates European law.
11.10.2008 5:15pm
Guest101:
Hey! My mother was a primate.
11.10.2008 5:19pm
Sarcastro (www):
No no no! even a little Gay marriage destroys civilization, just as even a little radical Muslim speech destroys civilization. That's how Muslims speaking is like gay marriage.

Nothing at all about marrying giraffes with their elegant, slender necks.
11.10.2008 5:21pm
Anderson (mail):
Ah, EV beat me to the "primate" joke. Damn!
11.10.2008 5:24pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Can inter-species marriage be that far off?



You tell us. Have you met somebody?
11.10.2008 5:27pm
John (mail):
Let's face reality here:

1. "moderate" or westernized Muslims are certainly under actual (or potential) threats to any normal notion of their rights of free speech.

2. European and other governments have shown only passing interest in protecting these people.

3. Moreover, European governments seem bent on isolating Muslim communities that are led by lunatics (by our lights), whether it be in cities in England or the suburbs of Paris.

4. The result is the formation of highly threatening mini-states within the borders of these European nations.

I think the BBC report is therefore plainly correct that something must be done.
11.10.2008 5:31pm
Houston Lawyer:
It will be interesting to see whether the Euros have any stomach left for law enforcement. A generally civil group can be governed with a light hand. Muslim firebrands require something quite a bit stronger. Deportation of those who incite to violence seems to be one option. The Brits used to include a provision that an unauthorized return earned you a hanging. That's the kind of law enforcement I could get behind.
11.10.2008 5:36pm
JB:
John has the truth of it. European policies toward Muslims could not be better designed to produce violent, alienated, radical, Clockwork Orange-style Muslim fanatics, and shut up any Muslims who don't follow that pattern. From laws to regulations to police conduct, it is a disaster born of abject laziness.

We have lots of Muslims here, and Muslim neighborhoods. Why have there never been riots in Astoria and Atlantic Avenue in NYC (neither of which are thrillingly safe neighborhoods), like there were in the Banlieus of Paris? Do we just have a better set of Muslims, or are our policies and society better at integrating them?
11.10.2008 5:46pm
Hoosier:
EV: Good anticipation. But you if you are going to speak about primates and about the evolution of celibacy, you really need to clarify the Vatican statements in favor of the teaching of evolution.

How did I miss the fact that Rushdie is now Sir Salman? That must have been big news.
11.10.2008 5:47pm
Hoosier:
We have lots of Muslims here, and Muslim neighborhoods. Why have there never been riots in Astoria and Atlantic Avenue in NYC (neither of which are thrillingly safe neighborhoods), like there were in the Banlieus of Paris? Do we just have a better set of Muslims, or are our policies and society better at integrating them?

Probably some of both, right? France gets North African Muslims. We get a large percentage from South Asia, which may explain some of this. Likewise, Lebanese tend to be less radicalized, in general, when they arrive than would the average Algerian.

But Muslims here have not been ghettoized. That certainly helps. American Muslims are just not a radical group, and polls show that they tend to think that they can work hard and get ahead here. More than the rest of us think that. And unlike marginalized Muslims in Europe, young Muslim men here can go to college and have a shot at a good career. (I single out young men after observation of the riots in Paris.) It's hard to recruit revolutionaries under those conditions.
11.10.2008 6:00pm
Litigator-London:
Re this gem from A. Zarkov:- "Europe can mitigate the radical Muslim problem by deporting them, not denying them free speech. They can have a the free speech they want outside of Europe."

Speaking as a secular Muslim whose family has been in Europe for rather longer than that US Colonies have had their independence, I think this remark is incredibly facile.

Firstly, the fuss is being kicked up by the Centre for Social Cohesion whose director is Douglas Murray a notorious extreme right shill whose latest published effort is entitled "Neoconservatism: Why We Need It". The Neoconservatives have, of course, over the years contributed very greatly to the growth of radical Islam.

Secondly, our real problem is largely not that of foreigners who can be deported or refused admittance but with with some sections of our youth. And the best recruiting agent for the radicals who influence the youth has been one George W. Bush.
11.10.2008 6:01pm
Hoosier:
Litigator-London:

Who was it prior to Bush?
11.10.2008 6:13pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Litigator-London:

"Speaking as a secular Muslim ... "

How can a Muslim be "secular?" Jews being both an ethnic group and a religion can be secular, but Muslims, Catholics etc cease being same when they become secular.

"Secondly, our real problem is largely not that of foreigners who can be deported or refused admittance but with with some sections of our youth."


That's why I said "mitigate." Obviously there are problems with deporting native born Muslims. Although after WWII Europe was quite willing to deport 16 million ethnic Germans from their homelands as part of a massive program of population transfer, but I digress. Deporting and refusing admittance to Muslims raises the cost to the community, which should cause it exert pressure on youth to behave better. We normally hold parents responsible for the delinquent acts of their children. Why not apply that on a larger scale?
11.10.2008 6:43pm
davod (mail):
"3. Moreover, European governments seem bent on isolating Muslim communities that are led by lunatics (by our lights), whether it be in cities in England or the suburbs of Paris."

I don't think the Brits have the same policies as the French. Additionally, it is extremely hard to deport a radical Muslim for speech problems.
11.10.2008 6:52pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
A. Zarkov cites the following statement reportedly made in a Swedish mosque, which did not result in prosecution:

"... Furthermore a curse is expressed over the Jews and “Jihad is called for, to kill the Jews, whereby suicide bombers - celebrated as martyrs - are the most effective weapon”.

Odious, certainly. But, not a threat to any particular person, or a direct incitement to violence. Such statements would not be subject to prosecution under US law. To get back to the point of the post, nothing in a statement like this is aimed at suppressing speech in Sweden or elsewhere.

I enjoy bashing Eurowimps as much as the next guy, but this criticism is unfair.
11.10.2008 7:00pm
Anderson (mail):
Europe can mitigate the radical Muslim problem by deporting them, not denying them free speech

Mass deportations have quite a history in Europe.
11.10.2008 7:15pm
JB:
Hoosier,
The Muslims in Astoria/Atlantic Avenue are heavily Arab, from all over including North Africa. One may argue that immigrants who choose the USA over Europe are more entrepreneurial and willing to work hard and buy into the system--"pull immigration" whereas immigrants who choose Europe are just fleeing lousy countries for the nearest social welfare system--"push immigration"--but I was being rhetorical. We have a hugely better system of cultural integration, because we are a nation of immigrants* rather than a topocosmic locality-based culture.



*Not all immigrants are beneficial, but America's success depends on having a working immigrant-integration process to some degree.

A.Zarkov,

How can a Muslim be "secular?" Jews being both an ethnic group and a religion can be secular, but Muslims, Catholics etc cease being same when they become secular.


Same way Christians can be secular. Irregular church/mosque attendance, relaxation of religious duties and prohibitions, increased willingness to identify with ideological and personal allies against one's co-believers. It's harder with Islam than with Christianity because Islam has more invasive rules, but the secular-fundamentalist axis in Islam is not dissimilar from the secular-ultraorthodox one in Judaism.
11.10.2008 7:18pm
Anderson (mail):
I forget btw whether it was Mark Mazower or Adam Tooze -- or both -- who observed that the Germans' practice of importing slave labor was a backhanded recognition of the plain fact that Germany didn't have enough workers. Army enlistment was only part of the problem, and the Reich's ministers who thought about such things saw that the trend was only going to get worse.

Now the "guest workers" actually get paid &aren't shot for copulating with Aryan females. Though they still seem to be regarded as untermenschen by some. Present commenters excluded, of course.
11.10.2008 7:24pm
Arkady:

And unlike marginalized Muslims in Europe, young Muslim men here can go to college and have a shot at a good career.


And, of course, they can do this.
11.10.2008 7:49pm
sputnik (mail):
AntonK in short.
Muslims are dangerous and should be exterminated, save a few domesticated ones like Rushdi
11.10.2008 8:15pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
JB:

I guess we have different definitions of what it means to be "secular." What you describe is of often call a "jack" something. As in "he's a jack Mormon." But the Muslims can be pretty strict about things. An apostate can be put to death. Remember the international outcry when the new government of Afghanistan was going to execute a Muslim who converted. I think it was even in their new constitution, and amazingly the US let them put that clause in. Only to be surprised when they decided to act on it. What kind of idiots do we have running our government?
11.10.2008 8:36pm
Robert Farrell (mail):
Interesting. I would think the report's conclusion would be common sense, but sometimes people with authority have to say something to make it part of the public dialogue.

This source has no authority. As L-L pointed out, the "Center for Social Cohesion" and Douglas Murry, its director, are not known for their objective contributions to the social sciences. This is an anti-Muslim propaganda outfit led by a guy who said in a 2006 speech:

"It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop.... Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition. We in Europe owe – after all – no special dues to Islam. We owe them no religious holidays, special rights or privileges. From long before we were first attacked it should have been made plain that people who come into Europe are here under our rules and not theirs. There is not an inch of ground to give on this one."

The center's website is a collection of "research" with, shall we say, a certain slant: "Virtual Caliphate," "Crimes of the Community: Honour-based violence in the UK," "Hate on the State: How British libraries encourage Islamic extremism," and a report on Muslim students in the UK which purports to examine their opinions on "killing in the name of religion, establishing a worldwide Caliphate, introducing Sharia law to the UK, setting up an Islamic political party in the UK, gender equality, the treatment of apostates and homosexuals and the compatibility of Islam with secularism and democracy" (what do you imagine they found?)

Doubtless there are some accusations on the website which are true -- as their are on "Jewatch" and other such sites. But the totality of what they are doing is a slick smear job on Britian's Muslim communities. Some people on this website share Mr. Murry's point of view, but regardless, these none-too-subtle propagandists have no "authority" on the subject of the Muslim community or anything else.
11.10.2008 8:38pm
Fub:
Hoosier wrote at 11.10.2008 5:47pm:
EV: Good anticipation. But you if you are going to speak about primates and about the evolution of celibacy, you really need to clarify the Vatican statements in favor of the teaching of evolution.
I don't understand how primates evolve if they're celibate. Does it have something to do with wearing funny hats?
11.10.2008 9:08pm
JB:

I guess we have different definitions of what it means to be "secular." What you describe is of often call a "jack" something. As in "he's a jack Mormon." But the Muslims can be pretty strict about things. An apostate can be put to death. Remember the international outcry when the new government of Afghanistan was going to execute a Muslim who converted. I think it was even in their new constitution, and amazingly the US let them put that clause in. Only to be surprised when they decided to act on it. What kind of idiots do we have running our government?


I've never heard the term "jack." As a secular Jew, I am friends with, and have eaten bacon with, many secular Muslims. The thing is, most Jews live in civilized countries with rule of law and religious freedom--most Muslims don't. You can't be secular when you'll be shot for it. The USA has a substantial number of "jack"/secular Muslims--the Middle East does not.

As to Afghanistan, I also wonder what kind of idiots we have. But ultimately, I do not think it is a civilized country--law or not, mobs would kill apostates, so there aren't any public apostates.

Islam is not inherently regressive, obstructive, or evil. Its negative consequences stem from the fact that its most vocal proponents are regressive and do not hesitate to shoot people they disagree with. But, absent the violence most other ideologies are little better--for example, the majority of liberals and conservatives in this country are poorly educated on politics and vote based on reasons that are ultimately deleterious: seeking handouts, demanding special treatment, hatred of others; and politicians pander to that. Nobody's getting shot, but that has more to do with our superior traditions than with the greater political intelligence of our people.
11.10.2008 9:13pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Robert Farrell,

[...] killing in the name of religion, establishing a worldwide Caliphate, introducing Sharia law to the UK, setting up an Islamic political party in the UK, gender equality, the treatment of apostates and homosexuals and the compatibility of Islam with secularism and democracy [...]

Just out of curiosity, what do you think a scrupulously-conducted survey of "Muslim students in the UK" would find as to their views on these subjects? Has anyone succeeded in doing a survey that you would pass as reputable and fairly conducted? Has anyone tried?

These aren't rhetorical questions. I'm wondering if there are good data out there. If there are, can't they laid aside the CSC's data to show the latter's, um, bogosity? And if there aren't, why not?
11.10.2008 9:24pm
SANE (mail):
To the London Litigator and Robert Farrell:

You suggest this group which published the report is "neoconservative" and necessarily biased.

That seems a strange approach to reasonable discourse.

Have you read the report? It is not, nor does it suggest it is, social science in the sense of an empirical study. It is a survey of well-known Muslims who have spoken out against Shariah-adherent Islam or what is termed in the vernacular as "Radical" or "Extreme" Islam.

This is an anecdoctal but quite impressive narrative about physical and psychological intimidation directed against precisely those "moderate" and highly visible Muslims who see a need for reforming the traditional, Shariah-based Islam. These people are essentially telling their stories as it were through a kind of journalism.

Your approach to critique is though sadly common. Rather than confront the real danger of Shariah Jihadists who take their theo-political-military doctrine quite seriously, you dismiss it because this group focuses on it or because they are "neocons".

Is Professor Volokh's legal writing suspect to a liberal or to an evangelical legal scholar simply because he is self-described libertarian?

Indeed, your attack reminds me of the attack on Prof. Kerr by a slime pundit named Greenwald (played out here at VC). If serious discourse is without substance, it is no longer discourse but incoherent speech.

And, lest you wonder what serious worldwide authorities say about Shariah and Western notions of liberty, read Mufti Taqi Usmani's book, available in English since 1999, Islam and Modernism. There in chapter 11, a Muslim from Jedda asks: now that the West allows us freedom of religion, are we still obligated by authoritative Shariah to engage in violent Jihad to conquer the West? In the remaining chapter, Mufti Usmani brings Islamic law, fique (jurisprudence), history, and theology to make deliver his fatwa: absolutely. The only excuse for not doing so immediately is its futility; but the moment it is possible, they infidel must be defeated through violent Jihad.

Now, those aren't my words. They are his. That is verifiable.

Furthermore, Usmani is no extremist. He is today the world's most authoritative Shariah scholar on Shariah-compliant finance (SCF), former Pakistan Justice of the Shariah Supreme Court, and he sits on dozens of Western bank boards who offer SCF products, including until just recently the Dow Jones Islamic Index.

Imagine that!
11.10.2008 9:31pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Urgh. That was meant to be "can't they be laid alongside" above. Sorry!

JB, I hardly know what to say to that last paragraph. I suppose, yeah, "absent the violence," most "ideologies" are pretty much the same on the negative-consequences front. In one culture the teenage girl caught by her family holding hands with the wrong boy is grounded, in another she's murdered; in one culture people read a book or watch a film insulting their faith, and write pungent letters to the editor, while in another, the writer, the filmmaker, or anyone remotely connected to them is liable to end up dead. But what's the difference, after all? Just violence! Take away that element, and all you have is some negative consequences — that is to say, some people getting angry at other people, which, y'know, just goes to show that people are much the same everywhere.
11.10.2008 9:58pm
David Warner:
L-L,

"The Neoconservatives have, of course, over the years contributed very greatly to the growth of radical Islam."

Of course, of course.

L-L and RF steal more bases than Rickey Henderson.
11.10.2008 10:00pm
MarkField (mail):

I forget btw whether it was Mark Mazower or Adam Tooze -- or both -- who observed that the Germans' practice of importing slave labor was a backhanded recognition of the plain fact that Germany didn't have enough workers.


I believe both of them made that point. The push for Lebensraum ironically (?!) flew in the face of this demographic reality. Mazower's point that Hitler built on the Weimar policy of trying to protect ethnic Germans outside the Reich makes me wish that Weimar had urged them to come "home" instead. The Red Army, of course, solved that "problem" when it reversed the Drang nach Osten.
11.10.2008 10:03pm
Ricardo (mail):
How can a Muslim be "secular?" Jews being both an ethnic group and a religion can be secular, but Muslims, Catholics etc cease being same when they become secular.

In India, which has the second largest Muslim population in the world, it is most certainly the case that there are secular Muslims there. The most famous example is the Bombay-born Salman Rushdie. Another is the former President of India, Abdul Kalam. In Hyderabad, for instance, Muslims (whether they've ever set foot in a mosque or not) speak Urdu as their native language while Hindus speak Telugu, a completely different language with a different writing system. So Muslim is almost as much an ethnicity as a religion in some parts of the world.

That's why I said "mitigate." Obviously there are problems with deporting native born Muslims. Although after WWII Europe was quite willing to deport 16 million ethnic Germans from their homelands as part of a massive program of population transfer, but I digress. Deporting and refusing admittance to Muslims raises the cost to the community, which should cause it exert pressure on youth to behave better. We normally hold parents responsible for the delinquent acts of their children. Why not apply that on a larger scale?

Of course, you don't need to go back to the ethnic cleansing and genocide of WWII to find precedent for mass deportations of Muslims. You can just refer to Yugoslavia where the U.S. intervened on two separate occasions to stop war criminals like Slobadan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic from murdering, raping and deporting Muslims. Presumably, you think the U.S. intervened on the wrong side of that war?

And I'm sure Iraqis would be relieved to know that there is one monolithic Muslim community that can exert pressure on all Muslims to get them to behave better. Nevermind that the vast majority of violence is Shiites killing Sunnis or vice versa or factions within each community killing others.
11.10.2008 10:31pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Hoosier: Rushdie got his OBE in the summer of 2007. Those who wished to be outraged were outraged. There were calls (by idiots) for Muslims nations to break off diplomatic relations with the UK because they saw the Queen's knighting Rushdie as a slap in the face. It might have been... the Queen can be subtle when she chooses.

As someone else noted above, the immigration of Muslims into the US changes over times. Now, in addition to S. Asians, we see large numbers of Somalis and Eritreans as well as Arabs from a wide range of countries.

Lebanese immigrants to the US (or Latin America, Australia, or the UK for that matter) have been and continue to be predominantly Christian. Lebanon, in fact, is seeing rather massive Christian flight, as is Iraq if recent reporting is to believed.
11.10.2008 10:35pm
Anderson (mail):
The push for Lebensraum ironically (?!) flew in the face of this demographic reality.

That is one of the weirdest things about Nazi Germany -- one of the world's industrial powerhouses, dominated by cranks who thought that agriculture was the only acceptable foundation of the economy.

(I've just been reading Boyd Hilton's history of England 1783-1846; the British had that same debate almost exactly a century earlier, and realized they could afford to be net importers of grain because their manufactures would more than pay for 'em. Somehow this didn't occur to Hitler or Himmler. "My generals know nothing of economics." Yeah, right.)

Maybe the experience of the British blockade in WW1 was more traumatizing than I've seen it credited to be?
11.10.2008 10:39pm
Robert Farrell (mail):
"SANE":

Never used the word "neocon" or "neoconservative." If you can't get that right, I don't think the rest of your assertions require refutation.

Michelle:

I don't know if there's good data out there or not. I think a even better question is this: on any of topics on the center's website, do you think for a moment you would encounter any eveidence contradicting the the center's radical anti-Muslim perspective? Can you imagine this crowd publishing a study that conflicted with that thesis?

If not (and I can't), read them for their opinions if you like, but their "reports" have no credibility.
11.10.2008 10:57pm
David Warner:
Anderson,

"(I've just been reading Boyd Hilton's history of England 1783-1846; the British had that same debate almost exactly a century earlier, and realized they could afford to be net importers of grain because their manufactures would more than pay for 'em. Somehow this didn't occur to Hitler or Himmler. "My generals know nothing of economics." Yeah, right.)"

It took the tremendous courage of Peel, sacrificing his political career thereby, to make that "realization". Would that we had leaders of similar courage today to take on our farm interests. Not as easy as it sounds.

"Maybe the experience of the British blockade in WW1 was more traumatizing than I've seen it credited to be?"

I'd say you're on to something there. The stab was very much in the stomach, with the hand of the Royal Navy grasping the hilt. I'm not sure how one can attribute thought to those who would so baldly deny that truth. Their guts were evidently not so duplicitous.
11.10.2008 11:03pm
David Warner:
RF,

"Can you imagine this crowd publishing a study that conflicted with that thesis? If not (and I can't), read them for their opinions if you like, but their "reports" have no credibility."

Can you imagine a defense counsel advancing an argument that conflicted with the thesis of her client's innocence? Is she therefore incredible?
11.10.2008 11:05pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Robert Farrell,

Look, the report on which this thread is based apparently stressed the importance of protecting moderate Muslims' right to speak freely without fear of violent reprisal. I am not persuaded that this is a "radical anti-Muslim perspective." An "anti-radical-Muslim perspective," I'll grant you.
11.10.2008 11:14pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
JB and Ricardo:

The definition of secular according to dictionary.com

1. of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal: secular interests.
2. not pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to sacred ): secular music.

What's the theology of a secular Muslim? Does he believe that the Koran is literal word of Allah? Perhaps you mean the secular Muslim is one who subscribes to the theology of Islam, but disdains the practice. So we are left with the question of what defines a Muslim, beliefs or belief + practice.
11.10.2008 11:24pm
frufru:
Can you imagine a defense counsel advancing an argument that conflicted with the thesis of her client's innocence?

Does she want a verdict or the truth?
11.11.2008 12:16am
David Warner:
frufru,

"Does she want a verdict or the truth?"

The truth is up to the jury. RF as prosecuting attorney makes a weak case.
11.11.2008 12:53am
whit:

But, absent the violence most other ideologies are little better


that's like saying "well except for the lack of muscles to enable him to lift that weight, he's just as strong as the other guy"

jeeeeez

or marion barry's famous statement about the crime in DC not being that bad, if you don't count all the killings.
11.11.2008 1:07am
FlimFlamSam:
FWIW, I always agreed with Admiral Cartwright in Star Trek VI.
11.11.2008 7:25am
jpe (mail):

But, absent the violence most other ideologies are little better

Or: but for the stuff that distinguises ideologies, ideologies are pretty much the same.

re: muslims in America: I'd think the difference in socio-economic. Muslims in the EU are more like refugees, replete w/ poverty et al. A good number of our Arabs are educated (many having gone to school here and then stuck around) and were wealthy enough to get here (you can't sneak into America by walking through the Chunnel).
11.11.2008 9:41am
SANE (mail):
Robert Farrell:

You wrote: "Never used the word "neocon" or "neoconservative." If you can't get that right, I don't think the rest of your assertions require refutation."

But you don't seem to read carefully. My comment was to both you and Litigator-London who most certainly did.

My comment also quite clearly focused on your broadside criticism about "motives" rather than actually speaking to the substance or import of the report.

And, you support here my contention by misdirection: "If you can't get that right [a point you get wrong], I don't think the rest of your assertions require refutation."

Wonderful. You've got the art of incoherence down to a science.
11.11.2008 10:13am
SANE (mail):
Ricardo is wrong on substance when he attempts to make the case for "secular" Muslims or that there is no "enemy threat doctrine" (professional term not his) common to the Jihadists.

I won't here go further into the discussion of whether one can be a "secular" Muslim because it is patently absurd beyond a few comments. Unlike protestantism/humanism or reform Judaism, both products of the Enlightenment, there has been and there is no institutionalized secular Islam. And, precisely because Islam is "universal" (in this way it is like Christianity), it is not "ethnic". It most certainly expresses itself through various ethnicities, such as the Wahhabi Sunnis, the Deobandis, the Persian Shia, etc. But in the aggregate, the Umma is not ethnic.

But the real danger in Ricardo's fallacy is his assumption that because Muslim sects fight among themselves that that necessarily demonstrates there is no "common threat doctrine" against the infidel-West. That by the way is a common yet spurious premise of many academics who write on this subject.

It is certainly true that Shariah, as the common threat doctrine, is subject to varying interpretations (ijtihad) at a lower order jurisprudence. But at the higher order, meaning fundamental level, all Shariah authorities agree on the telos or purpose of Shariah-Islam (that being a world ordered by Shariah as Allah's divine law) and the fundamental methods to achieve that order: peaceful persuasion (i.e., da'wa-conversion), subjugation (dhimma-jizya tax), murder (violent Jihad).

While the various schools of jurisprudence (maddhahib--and this includes the Sunnia-Shia divide) differ as to the specifics of when, how, and under what circumstances, the baseline of purpose-methods is absolutely a common denominator.

And, this can be tested. Read the manifestos-fatawa of Sunni Wahhabi al Qaeda; of Iran's Shia revolutionary Khomeini; of Deobandi's Sunni Usmani; of Sunni al Azhar U of Egypt; of Shia Hizbullah in Lebanon; or the Shariah faithful Jihadists of the Maghreb; or the Muslim Brotherhood Sunnis of Egypt-Hamas. They all speak of this end state and the obligatory method of violent Jihad.

And, lest one view this as a post-Colonial "ideological" movement which somehow transcends Muslims of different cultures, languages, and ethnicities, not all of whom suffered from colonialism, return to the Golden Era of Andalusia Spain and you will find this same telos-methodology articulated by the "enlightened" ibn Rush (known in the Christian world as Averroes) or by the great grandfather of the modern Wahhabis, ibn Taymiyyah. And, they of course rely on the canonized aHadith which are the bulk of the authoritative sources for the Shariah (the Quran is the essential source but not in quantity).

Shariah is a corpus juris with an institutional life of over 1200 years. It has throughout that period suffered periods of exile as it were but it has endured so that even today, in Western universities, we have entire departments -- including at law schools --dedicated to its study as a discreet and articulate discipline defined by the leading Shariah authorities of the classic and contemporary period. To fail to address that articulation and to label those who do "neocons" or "Islamophobes" or what have you, is, at least for the professionals who are tasked with national security, professional negligence at best.
11.11.2008 11:04am
einhverfr (mail) (www):

I won't here go further into the discussion of whether one can be a "secular" Muslim because it is patently absurd beyond a few comments. Unlike protestantism/humanism or reform Judaism, both products of the Enlightenment, there has been and there is no institutionalized secular Islam. And, precisely because Islam is "universal" (in this way it is like Christianity), it is not "ethnic"


Almost exactly my views.

However, I think that some Muslims can see Islam as having authority to change secular authority while others don't. Some countries with a lot of Muslims actually have governments which are officially secular. Lebanon is one example. (I read an interview on Al Ahram once with a Lebanese Member of Parliament representing Hizbullah who basically said that although he personally favors an Islamic government, the Lebanese people do not.) The question is how one tries to encourage the possibility that we can live side-by-side without violence or oppression, not how to make Islam secular.

The second issue is whether Islam has a cohesive strategy against the Infidel West. I am not at all certain it does. Instead different ideologies within Islam have their own ones. Salafism (which is the Islamic ideology which Osama follows) has become one of the dominant ones in the world and tends to encourage some of this intimidation.

FWIW, I have spent a total of nearly a year living in a predominantly Muslim/Salafist country with an officially secular government (not, not Lebanon).

The International Crisis Group wrote a great paper entitled "Understanding Islamism" which I would recommend that everyone read. It goes through the different ideologies an approaches that different Islamic groups use in trying to remake society according to their ideals. It also includes some extremely insightful material relating to how Muslims see their religion and how many of the comments by Bush or Blair about Islam being a "Religion of Peace" are counter-productive.
11.11.2008 11:46am
Anderson (mail):
Sigh.

"Secular Muslim" is a novel concept because relatively few Muslims have lived bourgeois lives in the West.

Literally it may not make much sense, but it seems to be a back-formation from "secular Jew."

The idea of a "secular Christian," someone who puts up a Christmas tree, buys the kids an Easter basket, goes to church now &then, but otherwise has at most a cultural relationship to Christianity, is not bizarre in the least.

We should be supporting "secular Muslims," not mocking them or quibbling over whether they can exist.
11.11.2008 12:05pm
autolykos:
Same way Christians can be secular. Irregular church/mosque attendance, relaxation of religious duties and prohibitions, increased willingness to identify with ideological and personal allies against one's co-believers. It's harder with Islam than with Christianity because Islam has more invasive rules, but the secular-fundamentalist axis in Islam is not dissimilar from the secular-ultraorthodox one in Judaism.

"Why are you getting so upset Dad? You don't even believe in God."

"That doesn't mean I'm going to stop being a good Catholic!"
11.11.2008 12:10pm
Bored Lawyer:

A. Zarkov cites the following statement reportedly made in a Swedish mosque, which did not result in prosecution:

"... Furthermore a curse is expressed over the Jews and “Jihad is called for, to kill the Jews, whereby suicide bombers - celebrated as martyrs - are the most effective weapon”.

Odious, certainly. But, not a threat to any particular person, or a direct incitement to violence. Such statements would not be subject to prosecution under US law. To get back to the point of the post, nothing in a statement like this is aimed at suppressing speech in Sweden or elsewhere.

I enjoy bashing Eurowimps as much as the next guy, but this criticism is unfair



PDXLawyer: the suppression of speech here is the employment of a double standard. The Swedish prosecutor came out with an opinion that an odious anti-semitic speech was not prosecutable where far less odious anti-Moslem comments have been prosecuted under Swedish law. That both would probably enjoy 1st Amendment protection in the U.S. is besides the point.

Even in U.S. law, discrmination among viewpoints violates the 1st Amendment. As Justice Scalia well put the point:
"[A state or municipality] has no such authority to license one side of a debate to fight freestyle, while requiring the other to follow Marquess of Queensberry rules." R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul
11.11.2008 1:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Nothing at all about marrying giraffes with their elegant, slender necks.


As an ordained minister, I suspect if I marry two giraffes, they will be eligible to the full extent of their own capacity to do so, to take advantage of federal tax filing status, power of attorney, and the like. Don't let the fact that they can't competently communicate nor are they required to pay taxes fool you!

Oh wait... you were thinking more along the lines of cross-species marriages, like a giraffe and an elephant!
11.11.2008 1:31pm
Anderson (mail):
"Why are you getting so upset Dad? You don't even believe in God."

"That doesn't mean I'm going to stop being a good Catholic!"


This fits many of the Catholics that I know.
11.11.2008 1:59pm
Observer:
Anderson: "This fits many of the Catholics that I know." More specifically, the Catholics you know who voted for the current President-elect, correct?
11.11.2008 2:03pm
Litigator-London:
How can one be secular and Muslim? For a better answer than I can give, interested readers might consult the writings of Dr Soheib Bencheikh. Born in Saudi Arabia (father an Algerian diplomat) Dr Bencheikh gradated in Islamic theology at Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, and at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium. He holds a Doctorate in Religious Sciences from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), Paris, France. He was nominated as Grand Mufti of Marseille, France, in 1995 by Dalil Boubakeur, the Rector of the Great Mosque of Paris. He is a member of the Conseil Français du Culte Musulman (Council of French Muslims) since its creation in 2003.

Bencheikh is an anti-fundamentalist religious leader and an assertive supporter of an Islam eager and capable to adapt itself to the modern world. He also is acknowledged as a reforming Muslim theologian committed to interreligious dialogue. He has written two books Les Grandes Religions and Marianne et le Prophète: L'Islam dans la France laïque, his famous book on the position and opportunities for Muslims in secular democracy.

Bencheikh supports the complete separation of religion and state, not only in the West (eg France and USA) but also and especially in the so-called Islamic world saying that state control of or establishment of religion has a malign influence on belief and practice. I happen to agree.
11.11.2008 2:05pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Has Dr. Bencheik gotten his guards?
You'll recall a liberal Muslim baptized by the Pope last Easter. He had come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim, in the way we think of as "moderate". There may be slacker Muslims, but not moderate Muslims. A good Muslim must support jihad.
The convert, a writer, is the subject of death threats for converting (apostasy).
So I hope Dr. Bencheik lives to see his dream come true.
11.11.2008 3:08pm
SANE (mail):
Litigator-London: a "secular" Muslim or Christian or Jew is not someone who accepts the separation of Church and State in political order. A "secular" Muslim would be what we mean when a protestant or reform Jew rejects revelation (i.e., the Bible/Torah is not divine revelation but rather man's work even if inspired work).

What you describe is a well-educated (in Western content) Muslim who rejects classical, traditional, and authoritative Shariah.

Whether he is a secularist or not would depend on whether he considers the Quran the divine word of Allah (we could go beyond that to the aHadith/Sunna but probably not necessary). I doubt that he is. There is simply no such institutionalized tradition in Islam.

But let's assume he rejects Shariah, as is implicit in your description. You will note that he does not preach that in Saudi Arabia. You will also note that the number of his "adherents" compared to that of the Shariah-adherent world is insubstantial. There are a handful of men like him--brave reformers all--but they have no institional voice to speak of and they are marginalized as a result.
11.11.2008 3:14pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Speaking as a secular Muslim whose family has been in Europe for rather longer than that US Colonies have had their independence'

But, not, I'm guessing, in England
11.11.2008 3:33pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
Bored: I agree that there is an argument that European Governments are suppressing too much speech. Certainly their efforts in this direction are more than US courts would stand for. Also, if I were a European, I would be troubled by the lack of viewpoint neutrality in governmental regulation of speech. Good as both of these points are, they are not the point raised by the linked article.

I think that EV does the world a service by exposing speech restrictions in other countries to negative comment. I merely point out that in this particular case the charge of speech restriction appears to be unsupported.
11.11.2008 4:22pm
cbyler (mail):
a "secular" Muslim or Christian or Jew is not someone who accepts the separation of Church and State in political order. A "secular" Muslim would be what we mean when a protestant or reform Jew rejects revelation (i.e., the Bible/Torah is not divine revelation but rather man's work even if inspired work).

Play Humpty Dumpty if you like. As far as I'm concerned, if he has no intention of imposing Sharia on non-Muslims and no intention of attempting to forcibly convert anyone to Islam or forcibly prevent anyone from converting away from Islam, then he's secular enough for me, even if he intends to abide by Sharia in his own life. His precise theological views about what is or isn't divinely inspired neither pick my pocket nor break my leg.

In any case, I don't see what you gain by denying the existence of such people, still less by tarring them with the same brush as people who *do* propagate their religion by violence and/or try to enshrine it in government (phenomena by no means limited to Islam).

I have no quarrel with a secular Muslim, Christian or Jew. I *do* have a quarrel with Muslims, Christians or Jews that try to force their religion on others, either by violence or by government. While violent Muslims certainly do pose a threat, IMO Christians trying to take over the government of *this* country pose a bigger and more immediate one. Most strongly Muslim nations don't have a pot to piss in either economically or militarily; while they can mount a few surprise attacks they'd have no chance at a genuinely large-scale offensive. Christianists are already here and very well funded. (Aggressive Zionism doesn't affect me personally, but I disapprove of it on principle nonetheless.)
11.11.2008 5:25pm
Hoosier:
Play Humpty Dumpty if you like. (?)

Humpty Dumpty didn't do much beyond: (a) sitting on a wall; and (b) falling off a wall.

"Chicken Little" perhaps?
11.11.2008 8:10pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
cbyler.
No, the terrs can't take over the US.
They can knock down buildings from time to time, and you might even be in one. In which case it might be sufficiently personal to get your attention.

Given the PC ness of courts and schools here and there, the Muslim extremists might be able to take over various aspects of life. Some CA schools have a week of Muslim studies in the syllabus including role playing and praying. Some universities have serious viewpoint discrimination issues. With Muslims, anything goes, others, not so much. UC Irvine is, I believe, a leading example. A teacher I know used to teach in Dearborn, MI. Said things were not good for Muslim girls there. Not much can be done since the community does not cooperate. As in Britain.

A little here. A little there. And something might actually come to bite your cozy little world.

And, of course, one can sneer at the forecast, while ignoring what has already happened. Then, when the forecast turns out to be valid, sneer at the next forecast.

Meantime, the fundies are coming, the fundies are coming.
11.11.2008 8:16pm
richard cabeza:
IMO Christians trying to take over the government of *this* country pose a bigger and more immediate one

The Amish are coming! The Amish are coming!

They'll keep you from raping your cattle and force you to stop killing your offspring!
11.11.2008 8:52pm
neurodoc:
Islam is not inherently regressive, obstructive, or evil.
The Organisation of the Islamic Council has 57 member states. Which of those geographically dispersed countries that identify themselves as Islamic is in no way "regressive, obstructive, or evil"? Many are decidedly "regressive, obstructive, or evil," are they not? If the commonality among a large number of countries that are "regressive, obstructive, or evil" is that they are predominantly Islamic in character, then what does that say about the current state of Islam, if not the religion itself?

If one compared that collection of Islamic states to one of countries that had a predominantly Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or other religious character, or countries with a common language, or some other commonalities linking them, would the Islamic group be judged more "enlightended" than any of those other groupings?
11.11.2008 11:20pm
neurodoc:
The Neoconservatives have, of course, over the years contributed very greatly to the growth of radical Islam. [Litigator-London]
Can you identify the "neoconservatives" you believe have "contributed greatly to the growth of radical Islam," and explain what those "neoconservatives" did to cause Islam to take a course different than it would have in their absence?
11.11.2008 11:25pm
Litigator-London:
Harry Eagar: you guessed wrong. Apart from a few Muslims who came to England in Elizabethan times (an incident of trade) the first notable influx of Muslims (together with Sephardi Jews) came during the the Spanish Reconquista of Andalusia. Both of the tiny original communities were of course overwhelmed numerically by later immigration - in the case of Jews by those fleeing from the pogroms in Russia and Poland and in due course Nazi Germany - and in the case of Muslims by immigrants from the Indian sub-continent and East Africa.

Sane: If you consider that the essential concept of Islam is submission to the will of the Almighty in accordance with the revelation one receives, then a Christian or a Jew who seeks to abide by the revelation he or she receives is just as much a Muslim as I am. That would logically extend even to an Animist whose revelation commanded him to worship a crocodile.

Islam has no priesthood - there is no interlocutor between the believer and the Almighty.
11.12.2008 5:11am
Litigator-London:
SANE: A very large part of the integration problems we have in the UK are that in the villages of the Indian sub-continent, religious thought is overlaid with tribal and social concepts and has not progressed for centuries. When the first of the recent waves of immigrants built their mosques (from savings out of their wages as factory workers), they turned to that same environment for their religious teachers.

So we had and still have imams who are not qualified to act as teachers in any sense of the word. There are still some who are unable to preach a sermon in English and who cannot engage the text of the Holy Koran because they do not understand it - their only language being, say, Urdu which happens to use the same script.

As a consequence there is now a huge disconnect between some Muslim youth and the mosques. Tribal customs - in, for example, matters of dress or the status of women, are held out as being matters of faith - positions that youth rejects.
11.12.2008 5:27am
Litigator-London:
Neurodoc: Of course I can identify the Neoconservatives who contributed to the problems with fundamentalism we are now facing, and I am quite sure you can too.

Among the actions, I would list:-

(i) support for corrupt and undemocratic regimes - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan etc in the interests of hegemony over oil;

(ii) the proxy war with the Soviets - encouraging the recruitment of "mujahiddin" who were then brainwashed into salafism as part of the preparation for combat;

(iii) unthinking support for the state of Israel against the legitimate claims of the Palestinians;

all of which policies are now haunting us and may continue to do so for a very long time indeed.
11.12.2008 5:46am
SANE (mail):
Litigator-London:

All three of your prior comments are wrong on substance and demonstrably so.

First, your write:


Sane: If you consider that the essential concept of Islam is submission to the will of the Almighty in accordance with the revelation one receives, then a Christian or a Jew who seeks to abide by the revelation he or she receives is just as much a Muslim as I am. That would logically extend even to an Animist whose revelation commanded him to worship a crocodile.

Islam has no priesthood - there is no interlocutor between the believer and the Almighty.
I don't consider anything the "essential concept of Islam." Go read the authoritative literature that is cited as authoritative Shariah not just by the Shariah authorities but by the "scholars" both in the West and East who study these matters. Read J. Schacht. Read Professors Vogel and Hayes of Harvard. A Muslim is per Shariah not simply one who accepts Allah's revealed word but one who does so and acts on it through the normative structure of Shariah's corpus juris. If you don't understand that, we have little to say to one another.

More, while Islam has no "interlocutor" in prayer, it most certainly does in behavior—via Shariah and its authorities. This is what the most authoritative scholar at Harvard's Saudi endowed law school studies of Shariah compliant finance says about the devout Muslim's relationship to the Shariah authority:


Islamic legal rules encompass both ethics and law, this world and the next, church and state. The law does not separate rules enforced by individual conscience from rules enforced by a judge or by the state. Since scholars alone are capable of knowing the law directly from revelation, laypeople are expected to seek an opinion (fatwa) from a qualified scholar on any point in doubt; if they follow that opinion sincerely, they are blameless even if the opinion is in error.
And, from an important text authored by a Bahrain Treasury official and an Australian economics professor who specializes in Shariah-economics:


Since Islamic law reflects the will of God rather than the will of a human lawmaker, it covers all areas of life and not simply those which are of interest to a secular state or society. It is not limited to questions of belief and religious practice, but also deals with criminal and constitution [sic] matters, as well as many other fields which in other societies would be regarded as the concern of the secular authorities. In an Islamic context there is no such thing as a separate secular authority and secular law, since religion and state are one. Essentially, the Islamic state as conceived by orthodox Muslims is a religious entity established under divine law.
It appears to me that you simply don't know much about the history or juridical nature of Islam. It is fine that you and indeed millions of others who consider themselves Muslim believe in a kind of humanism with Islamic culture, but that is not institutionalized Islam anywhere in the world. And, of course, you fail to answer my earlier point: why is it that when western banks seek Shariah authorities to rule on their Shariah compliant finance products they turn to the traditional Shariah authorities that say exactly what I say about Shariah?

In your second comment down, your effort to blame "tribalism" is simply not empirical. All of SCF is governed by the classic texts of Shariah and by Shariah authorities who embrace them. These aren't tribalists. Many have been educated at Oxford and Harvard. And, Shariah adherents in the hundreds of millions come from areas as diverse as Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia, Russia, etc.

Tribalism certainly compounds the problem but it is Shariah which doctrinalizes Jihad and the One World hegemony of the Caliphate.

Finally, while I am no fan of the "neocons" and their "nation-building" universality of, and panacea like democracy, the four items you list as actions by neocons all predates the neocons.

But even deeper, while you mention the emigrants from Andalusia, you do realize do you not that Europe was first conquered by Jihad and only later reconquered? More, the greatest wave of immigration of Sephardic Jews out of Andalusia Spain was in the 11th century during the life of Maimonides when he fled the Almohads—a Shariah-faithful group that retook Spain from the lest "observant" Muslim leaders before them. And, you are familiar with Maimonidies' letters to the Yeminite Jews who were being persecuted by the Shariah faithful Muslims and forced to convert or die, are you not? In one letter, Maimonides, as the leading Jewish law decisor of the Sephardic world, wrote to the Yeminite Jews who sought an answer on what they should do about their persecution. Live as Jews openly and die; pretend to convert but live privately as Jews; or agitate/fight for their freedom:

Remember, my co-religionists, that on account of the vast number of our sins, Gd has hurled us in the midst of this people, the Arabs, who have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us, as Scripture has forewarned us, ‘Our enemies themselves shall judge us’ (Deuteronomy 32:31). Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase and hate us as much as they …. Although we were dishonored by them beyond human endurance, and had to put with their fabrications, yet we behaved like him who is depicted by the inspired writer, “But I am as a deaf man, I hear not, and I am as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.” (Psalms 38:14). Similarly our sages instructed us to bear the prevarications and preposterousness of Ishmael in silence. They found a cryptic allusion for this attitude in the names of his sons “Mishma, Dumah, and Massa” (Genesis 25:14), which was interpreted to mean, “Listen, be silent, and endure.” (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, ad locum). We have acquiesced, both old and young, to inure ourselves to humiliation, as Isaiah instructed us “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair.” (50:6). All this notwithstanding, we do not escape this continued maltreatment which well nigh crushes us. No matter how much we suffer and elect to remain at peace with them, they stir up strife and sedition, as David predicted, “I am all peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” (Psalms 120:7). If, therefore, we start trouble and claim power from them absurdly and preposterously we certainly give ourselves up to destruction.”
Thus, it seems from the historical record (and there is much more in Dr. Andrew Bostom's book of original sources called The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism for your perusal) that the "radicalism" and "extremism" we see today in the Shariah-Jihadist world has a long and real-world pedigree.

Your dismissal of it without any deep appreciation of the Muslim and non-Muslim sources suggests a studied effort at ignorance.
11.12.2008 10:53am
Hoosier:
Litigator-London

Can you give usw a working definition of "neo-conservative"? I don't see much point in us--and I don't mean just you--arguing the point if we don't agree on the category in question. And I don't know that we all do agree what we're debating at this point.
11.12.2008 11:01am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Litigator-London

(iii) unthinking support for the state of Israel against the legitimate claims of the Palestinians

By what criteria does one separate thinking from unthinking support?

What are the "legitimate claims" of the Palestinians, and who decides what's legitimate and on what basis?

Finally why would the legitimate claims (whatever they are) not also apply to the 16 million ethnic Germans who were forcibly expelled from their ancestral homelands throughout Europe after WWII. For example 2.5 million Sudeten Germans were stripped of all property by the Beneš decrees, and expelled wholesale from their homeland. If one is going to claim some kind of "right of return" for Palestinians, then you open a Pandora's box of similar claims through present day Europe.
11.12.2008 11:29am
Hoosier:
By what criteria does one separate thinking from unthinking support?

"Does your thinking agree with my thinking."(?)
11.12.2008 1:59pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Litigator-London,

Can I second (or third?) the request for some working definition of "neoconservative"? The word's turned into an all-purpose epithet in this country, but even now it has some accepted meaning as regards foreign policy. Accusing "neoconservatives" of excess affection for the Saudi government is rather like (um, groping for an UK parallel) blasting Labour for their obsession with privatizing national enterprises.
11.12.2008 2:45pm
Litigator-London:
Sane: Interesting to see that you quote from Professor Andrew Bostom (whose academic qualifications are in the medical field rather than in Sharia law or theology) and who seems to contribute to Dhimmi Watch and Front Page. That is a very good indication of where you are coming from.

Like in any other belief system the understanding of scholars evolves. I am old enough to remember Christian priests at my boarding school who professed the view, not then uncommonly held, that the Jewish race was accursed of God and condemned for ever to wander the earth for having killed the Son of God. I doubt there are too many Catholic theologians who would profess that crudely anti-semitic belief today.

The Sharia and our understanding of it also evolves. I and many of my co-religionists understand and interpret "Jihad" as the obligation to strive for spiritual self-perfection.

I accept that there are sects and preachers who see matters differently and the problem for my community is to isolate and diminish the importance of such misguided people who lead others into error.
11.12.2008 3:00pm
Litigator-London:
A Zarkov:

What are the "legitimate claims" of the Palestinians, and who decides what's legitimate and on what basis?

At the end of 1945, there were about 250,000 displaced Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in Europe. A remarkable document is preserved in the Truman Library recording a proposal put by Lessing J. Rosenwald, then the President of the American Council for Judaism, to US President Truman at a White House meeting on 4th December 1945.

Link to Truman Library for Full Text

That proposal might just have worked - unfortunately it was sabotaged - principally by WASP opposition in Foggy Bottom who presumably did not want all those DP's seeking admittance to their Country Clubs.

How matters might be resolved now, I know not, but the US-Israel relationship has deteriorated into one foreseen in Washington's Farewell Address to the Nation.
11.12.2008 3:12pm
Hoosier:
but the US-Israel relationship has deteriorated into one foreseen in Washington's Farewell Address to the Nation.

I'm calling shenanigans.
11.12.2008 4:55pm
neurodoc:
Neurodoc: Of course I can identify the Neoconservatives who contributed to the problems with fundamentalism we are now facing, and I am quite sure you can too.

Among the actions, I would list:-

(i) support for corrupt and undemocratic regimes - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan etc in the interests of hegemony over oil;

(ii) the proxy war with the Soviets - encouraging the recruitment of "mujahiddin" who were then brainwashed into salafism as part of the preparation for combat;

(iii) unthinking support for the state of Israel against the legitimate claims of the Palestinians;

all of which policies are now haunting us and may continue to do so for a very long time indeed.
If you can identify those "neoconservatives" you say have contributed so greatly to the rise of radical Islam, then again I would ask you to do so, because I'm sure I don't know who they might be.

I'm especially interested to know which "neoconservatives" you imagine were/are supporting those various "corrupt and undemocratic regimes...in the interests of hegemony over oil," most especially Iran. (Does Parkistan have any oil? Does Egypt have more than a trivial amount?) To be sure, there are people of all political stripes in the United States who are afraid lest some of those "corrupt and undemocratic regimes" fall and still worse succeed them, especially in Saudi Arabia, to which so many Muslims make pilgrimage, Egypt, and Pakistan, along with some of your "etc.". (Most people would be glad to see the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran fall, since it is such an abomination that they think must be very improbable, if indeed possible.)

When you have identified for us those "neoconservatives" who you believe have contributed so greatly to the rise of radical Islam, then we can see how your i throuh iv stand up to inspection. Not at all I think.
11.12.2008 5:37pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Oh, neurodoc, don't bother. If Litigator-London had been interested in telling us what s/he meant by "neoconservative," s/he would have done it already.

So far as I can tell, L-L's "neoconservatives" are responsible for funding the Taliban and were cozy with Saddam Hussein. Since the folks who attacked the Taliban and overthrew Saddam Hussein are also going by "neoconservative" around here, maybe we need some sort of extra identifier — an extra syllable? a fancy hat? — to disaggregate them. Of course, they do seem to agree on the US alliance with Israel, which is possibly L-L's justification for putting them all in the same big bucket. I don't see anything specially "neo-" or "-conservative" in a policy that's been in place since 1948, and pursued most of the time by both parties, but that may be just me.
11.12.2008 6:32pm
neurodoc:
Litigator-London, the "WASP opposition in Foggy Bottom" was to recognition by the United States of Israel when it declared its independence in 1948. Truman went with the advice of his special counsel Clark Clifford, who recommended recognition, and against that of the representative of that "WASP opposition in Foggy Bottom," Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who was adamantly opposed.
11.12.2008 6:33pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Litigator-London:

The Truman library document while historically interesting does not provide an answer to my questions.

The Palestinians who left Israel in 1948 along with their descendants insist they have a right of return and a claim to property abandoned. I like to know if this is what you mean "legitimate claims."
11.12.2008 9:17pm
neurodoc:
Michelle Dulak Thomson, I'm still hopeful that London-Litigator will make explicitly clear to the rest of us who s/he is referring to when talking about "neoconservatives," identifying by name those who are most responsible for promoting radical Islam, or at least giving us a definition of "neoconservative" that sets them apart from those who cannot be styled "neoconservative." S/he may have no very clear idea, because s/he appears to be fundamentally uninformed, if not frankly deluded, about much. (Might s/he be using "neoconservative" as code for "Jews," imagining them to be somehow responsible for the growth of radical Islam?)

I'm also still hopeful that London-Litigator will answer my question about members of the Organisation ofthe Islamic Council ("Which of those geographically dispersed countries that identify themselves as Islamic is in no way 'regressive, obstructive, or evil'?")
11.12.2008 10:55pm
Hoosier:
The Sharia and our understanding of it also evolves. I and many of my co-religionists understand and interpret "Jihad" as the obligation to strive for spiritual self-perfection.

I accept that there are sects and preachers who see matters differently and the problem for my community is to isolate and diminish the importance of such misguided people who lead others into error.


Could you hurry up with that?
11.13.2008 12:19am
SANE (mail):
A final comment to Litigator London but only for the sake of others since LL is not interested in serious discourse.

It appears that when you don't wish to address the sources and the facts you resort to ad hominem. Thus, the "neocon" argument which allows a side-track into definitions and other nonsense of what is or is not a neocon. Again, this is merely a diversion from a substantive discussion.

Similarly, you take a swipe at Dr. Bostom, who in fact is a professor of medicine. But his text, which I was not quoting from re the Maimonides letter but my own copy and personal translation, is simply a book of original sources which he compiled and in many cases had translated for the english world for the first time. These are documents by Muslims and scholars and observers of the events at the time. It would not matter if Dr. Bostom was was a kindergarten teacher. The text stands on its own.

Finally, it matters not what Catholics say about Jews. They are not threatening the world with Jihad. And, while it is true that religious creeds and even laws change over time, the law of Jihad and its purposes of world wide hegemony have remained consistent over 1200 years. It matters not what your personal experience is. It is just that. Phemenological and idiosyncratic. To understand a threat, one must examine the institutional basis of the underlying threat doctrine and determine its vibrancy for recruitment and action.

Shariah has proven itself.

PS: I also note you simply ignore the references and quotes from Muslim and non-Muslim academics who study these matters who have in their own words refuted your subjective observations.
11.13.2008 1:37am
Litigator-London:
Sane: I have no intention on being side tracked into a debate on Neoconservatism, nor into a debate with you on aspects of the Sharia. I can perfectly well see that you, like the ideologues at the Centre for Social Cohesion in the UK, Dr Bostom and his friends at Dhimmi-Watch and Front Page, are only interested in spreading the myth that Islam itself is dangerous to your (and my) way of life. Since you and other Islamophobes are not going to be convinced by argument, I do not see the point in trying.

Whether you lke it or not, Islam is the fastest growing of the three major world religions. Simply because of differences in relative birthrates, it is likely that Islam will overtake Christianity in numbers by 2050 or thereabouts. In Israel it is likely that Jews will be one day be a minority of the population. If you really think that all these millions of people around the world are going to wage war against the West - so be it, you are entitled to your delusion - though I question your right to inflict it on others.

Although, measured by weekly attendance at church or mosque, there are more practising Muslims in my country than there are practising members of the Church of England, we are a relatively small minority, but we serve in the Armed Forces of the Crown, the police and contribute to our nation in our various ways. We are not all continually plotting revenge for the Crusades. I do not believe there is anything in the Sharia which prevents me (i) from being a loyal subject of the Crown or (ii) from believing that there should be separation of religion and state and equal protection for all under the law.

I am no apologist for extremists of any kind and I deprecate the Islamophobia of sites like the ones to which I refer above simply because they pander to prejudice and make the problems of extremism even worse.
11.13.2008 6:49pm
neurodoc:
I am no apologist for extremists of any kind and I deprecate the Islamophobia of sites like the ones to which I refer above simply because they pander to prejudice and make the problems of extremism even worse.
You may fancy that you are "no apologist for extremists of any kind," but you joined this threat to take exception to A. Zarkov's proposal where radical Muslims are concerned ("Europe can mitigate the radical Muslim problem by deporting them, not denying them free speech. They can have a the free speech they want outside of Europe."), calling that post a "gem" and saying it was "facile" (which I'd allow it may be). Then you made your blame-shifting assertion ("The Neoconservatives have, of course, over the years contributed very greatly to the growth of radical Islam.") that many here challenged, and responded to those challenges without any meaningful elaboration or defense. You are manifestly unwilling to hold the Islamic world to account for its hateful shortcomings and expressions, radical Islam in particular. Instead, you prefer to imagine (fantasize) it is unidentified "neoconservatives" who bear much of the blame for the huge failings of contemporary Islam. (But for "neoconservatives" and perhaps other non-Muslims, all would be fine with the Islamic world, thank you?)

How endearing that you close with your "we will overwhelm you with our numbers" triumphalism. And you wonder why Islam is viewed so negatively by those you style "Islamophobes," of whom there are so many, quite understandably I think.
11.14.2008 12:18am
neurodoc:
"thread" not "threat"
11.14.2008 1:40am
Litigator-London:
Neurodoc:

Firstly, You allow that A Zarkov's suggestion was facile - indeed it was. Europe and in particular the UK has stringent legislation against incitement to or material support for terrorism - stringently enforced.

Secondly, reminding you and others of the growing numbers of Muslims world wide is not "triumphalism" - it is a fact.

Thirdly, I make no apology whatever for the proposition that US foreign policy has contributed to the growth in the peril from extremists. You may find this uncomfortable, but unless you understand that, there will not be a remedy.

In particular, the Reagan decision to fight a proxy war with the Soviets in Afghanistan by arming the "mujahiddin" actually resulted in the creation of Al Quaida and like-minded groups. The surviving veterans of that enterprise returned to their own countries and carried on the havoc.

I have spent a lot of time in Algeria. When I first went, there would be a picture of JFK on the wall of every household I visited - because JFK had supported the Algerian struggle for independence. Under Reagan, young Algerians were recruited in large numbers to "join the caravan" to fight the Soviets - and when the survivors came back, thoroughly brainwashed in the training camps, they started the GIA, the GSPC etc which have plunged Algeria into its worst times since independence. That is repeated all over the Muslim world.

If you do not think that the Bush/Blair decision to invade Iraq has not been the single most potent weapon in the hands of extremist recruiters of disaffected youth since the CIA started organising the "caravan" to recruit the "mujahiddin", then you know little indeed.

Pakistan has actually been one of the focal centres of extremism since the founding of the state in 1947. Reagan supported Zia-ul-Haq - an extremist who actually put extremists in charge of the Army and the Intelligence Services - Bush also supported his preferred general - just as bad, but neither Reagan nor Bush did a damn thing about the problem of the madrassas - billions for arms - not a penny for education to tackle the root of the problem.

I could go on about the consistent support of corrupt and undemocratic regimes in the interests of supposed security of oil supply and much more. But I will finish with this.

There are very many propagandists of Islamophobia in the USA, far more than anywhere else and the phenomenon does seem to be liked to (i) extreme right wing conservatism and (ii) those in the "Eretz Israel right or wrong" camp.

Just think of this: terrorism is often the consequence of a burning sense of injustice. Acts committed during the American revolution would have qualified as acts of terrorism under today's legislation. UK colonial history is littered with examples of terrorism during liberation struggles. Kenya, Burma, Malaysia, Palestine, Cyprus spring to mind.

When those on the US extreme right spoke of the USA as the new hegemon, the Project for the New American Century, and the taking up of the "white man's burden", they should perhaps have taken note of the "law of unintended consequences". I suspect we are going to be living with the consequences for a very long time.

Extremism and terrorism (not "radical Islam" because the support of terrorism is un-Islamic) will not be solved by repression alone. Education, job opportunities for the young, removal of discrimination and integration of minorities all have their part to play.

Islamophobic web sites and commentary make matters worse. Do you suppose the world has not noticed the undercurrent of Islamophobia during the recent US general election - well the world includes young kids around the world who have access to the internet and who are vulnerable to recruitment by terrorists who make use of a perversion of Islam.

It is an abuse of the liberty of free speech to engage in hate speech - and it has its consequences.
11.14.2008 3:33am
SANE (mail):
For those stragglers who are still reading this stale comment thread, read L-L's comment immediately above responding to my earlier comments and others.

L-L makes a valid point. He argues that US foreign policy has fostered the growth of Shariah-Jihad. I would consider that a hard thesis to defeat. His points and of course many more abound to support it. i.e., US foreign policy in supporting Shariah-adherent "freedom fighting [against the Soviets]" mujahadeen turned their weapons on us when they needed another target, or our support of tyrants in the Muslim world (i.e., Mubarak v Muslim brotherhood; Shah v. Iranian reformers incl Khomeini; etc), oligarchs of the Muslim world, many of whom are Shariah-faithful themselves and promoters of same (such as Pakistan's ul-Haq, the Saudi ruling family and its detente with the Wahhabi ulema, the Shah of Iran etc.) and of course a "blind" support of Israel over the Palestinians.

Properly understood, that thesis says that a country's foreign policy can in fact exacerbate animosities or even engender politically oriented hatreds which can express themselves in any number of ways.

But, he then takes that thesis and crafts a rationale for the wholesale global war being waged by Shariah-Jihadists. The problem with this bit of social science sophistry is that all of the political angst in the world does not explain how it is that vastly different cultures, languages and even cross-sect hatreds a la Sunni-Shia unite and cite exactly --and I mean exactly--the same Shariah doctrine of some 1200 years that calls for Jihad against the infidel.

I would accept L-L's "defense" of "freedom fighters" in the sense that oppression can most certainly spark nationalist or irredentist movements which engage in what looks like wanton violence. But that is not strictly speaking what we are dealing with here. If Pakistani's or Iranians have grievances, why are they expressed in the same terms as the Wahhabis or the Muslim Brotherhood?

The answer is because Shariah's global war against the infidel West began long before these grievances arrived on the scene. The grievances no doubt make recruitment a more facile task but these political claims do not provide a sufficient explanation of the world wide violence we are experiencing.

Another way to examine this is to look at the plethora of ways different peoples, theologies, and cultures respond to tyranny and political grievances.

When the Jews were oppressed for thousands of years in Europe and the Slavic countries, we saw none of this. Even during the early WWII period when US jews knew their European brethren were being marched into death camps, they protested and lobbied the Roosevelt administration politically, but never took to violence. Even in the Zionist struggle against Britain, the hardline Irgun limited their attacks against civilians but even the Irgun was shunned by most of the "Zionists" because of its heavy handed tactics. Even among religious Jews today, the most vocal critics of the messianic settlers is the orthodox jewish communities around the world.

Why are the hundreds of millions of oppressed Chinese laying down in front of tanks and not engaging in violence?

Why do Christians who believe abortion is murder fight politially and shun the very few among them who throw bombs at abortion clinics?

Why do the L-L's of the world seek to defend and excuse the Jihad in the name of Shariah? How is it that they ignore all of the scholarship that Muslims and non-Muslims have published and to which I have pointed in earlier posts which explains that Shariah is not "extremism"; that it has a 1200 year old pedigree; that it demands absolute adherence; that its arbiters are the Shariah authorities--ulema; and that it is not, by its own terms, a divisible, pick and choose juridical system, any more than any other. And the reason, again as documented by the sources, it is a theo-political-military doctrine-system to govern the Ulema where masjid and state are merged with the individual as a political order for the umma.

This kind of "studied ignorance" --as I noted before--suggests that the L-L's of the western world, even though not Shariah-adherent themselves, cannot resist the pull of Shariah because while they do not now conform their behavior to its normative strictures, they remain bound to its social and/or cultural center of gravity.
11.14.2008 9:46am
SANE (mail):
In the penultimate graph above, last sentence, "to govern the Ulema" should be "to govern through the ulema (although not necessarily by the ulema)"
11.14.2008 9:51am
Litigator-London:
Sane:

So far so good, but what you completely fail to recognise is that:-

(i) the overwhelming majority of Muslims want nothing to do with terrorists;

(ii) The Sharia is not monolithic. Even if one accepts the premise in one of your earlier posts that "an ignorant person must rely on the opinion of a scholar", there are almost as many views on what is sharia compliant as there are scholars. You quoted the example of sharia-compliant banking. Since I am a lawyer rather than a social scientist, and I happen to have worked in the City of London, that is something I do know something about and were I at liberty to do so, I could show you investment schemes submitted for the opinions of sharia law jurists where we received many totally conflicting opinions.

(iii) Likewise the Ulema is not monolithic. Each state has its own and their views are often diametrically opposed.

(iv) There is no "wholesale global Jihad". That is a myth sponsored by the extremes on both sides. There are a numerically quite small number of criminal terrorists who are seeking to recruit more. They misuse Islam, mis-state its doctrines and prey on the vulnerable. Is is surprising that one of the most fertile UK recruitment locations is within the prison system? I have explained the true significance of "jihad" earlier.

(v) As opposed to insurrection terrorism, the present problem is one of political ideology. Just like the, Anarchists, or the Red Brigades. When the GIA won the elections in Algeria they made it perfectly plain that there would be no more elections. There was an Army coup and determined repression which came close to civil war.

(v) The so-called "global war against terrorists" is an oxymoron. Wars take place between sovereign states. If the Bush Administration had remembered that, then the judicial mess that Guantanamo Bay now represents could not have occurred. In fact the "global war" has spawned terrorists where there were none before.

In other words, either you have been deceived as to the reality or you are part of the propaganda machine perpetrating the deception.
11.14.2008 1:52pm
SANE (mail):
Well, an improvement of sorts, L-L. So let's see how this rolls out. To respond by number each of your pts:
[1] that is true but Shariah faithful Muslims the world over don't consider Jihadists terrorists. Per Shariah, terrorism is against an innocent. An infidel is not an "innocent". The fact that most Muslims are not active Jihadists is no more relevant than saying that most patriotic Englishmen are not soldiers in the Queen's army.

And, as to views by the world's Muslim re Shariah, polling data recently released (April 24, 2007) in a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/ WorldPublicOpinion.org interview survey of 4384 Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007-1000 Moroccans, 1000 Egyptians, 1243 Pakistanis, and 1141 Indonesians-reveal that 65.2% of those interviewed-almost 2/3, hardly a "fringe minority"-desired this outcome: "To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate", including 49% of "moderate" Indonesian Muslims. The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate is strongly suggested by a concordant result: 65.5% of this Muslim sample approved the proposition "To require a strict [emphasis added] application of Shari'a law in every Islamic country."

[2]Again, you make the same mistake I already pointed out "academics" do. This is not a discussion if all you do is repeat yourself. Of course there are different maddhahib (schools of jurisprudence with different fique (rules of jurisprudence) and even furu (positive law rulings)--there are 4 authoritative schools in Sunni and one or two, depending on how you count, in Shia); also within a maddhab there can be different conflicting rulings. But that kind of argument just shows the shallowness of the one who makes it. In secular law, such as in the US, state courts can rule at odds with one another, federal districts and circuits as well. But at base, it is all based upon a constitution.

The same is true of Shariah. The one fundamental that all of the accepted and authoritative ulema accept is that a law grounded in the Quran or canonized aHadith and this grounding is accepted through consensus by the Ulema (ijma), is absolutely irrevocable. Now, whether a certain nominate contract or contracts which make up a Shariah-compliant finance deal is acceptable or not seldom reaches down to this "constitutional" level of ijma based upon a specific ayat or ahadith.

A world wide Caliphate and Jihad to achieve that end is absolutely grounded in the Quran and ahadith and ijma. It is constitutional as it were. And the very fact that it is is demonstrated by precisely the points you make in [2], [3], and [4]: with all of the manifest differences, all of the Shariah-adherent world accepts the purpose of Shariah--a world ruled by shariah and the method to achieve that end is first persuasion--dawa/conversion; then subjugation--dhimmi; and if those are unavailing, violent Jihad.

Now you say the Jihadists "mis-use" Islam. What exactly are they misuing? The Shariah? From what worldwide recognized Shariah authority? Do you consider al Azhar extreme or radical? Do you read Arabic? I can point you to much of their scholarship that repeats exactly what i have just said. The Sunna/Hadith? Have you studied it? Apparently not. The Quran? What, you want to just ignore all of the post-Medina ayat?

Now, mind you, I am not saying that because there is violence in the Quran or ahadith that Islam is violent. There is violence in the Bible. What I am saying is that Islamic law provides a normative framework for the canonized text of Islam like Jewish law does for the Bible.

Obviously, if you are not Shariah-faithful, you could care less about what Shariah says or how it interprets the Quran. Yours might very well be quite a peaceful Islam. But for the Shariah faithful, and see the survey referenced above, that is not the case. Shariah operates as that frame.

And, while as I have said, there is a great range of Shariah opinions above the constitutional level of ijma, and Shariah/usul al fique approves of that variation of ruling, there is NO VARIATION at the core constitutional levels.

For example, no accepted Shariah authority will tell you that an apostate (Muslim turned Christian for example) is NOT subject to the death penalty. No Shariah authority will tell you that in a majority Muslim regime, you can allow other religions equal position with Islam or that the non-Muslims can proselytize.

Finally, "ideology" is a Marxian notion which has nothing to do with a theo-political-military doctrine that has existed as a corpus juris for 1200 years.
11.14.2008 3:52pm
Hoosier:
Wars take place between sovereign states.

Except for the ones that don't. You might want to revisit this generalization.
11.14.2008 4:48pm
neurodoc:
For the most part, SANE has done a truly excellent job of rebutting Litigator-London (L-L, who doggedly tries to deny the Islamic world's responsibility for radical Islam.

L-L: Firstly, You allow that A Zarkov's suggestion was facile - indeed it was.Yes, I did allow that, but so what? Will you label him an "Islamophobe," as you did SANE ("Since you and other Islamophobes...")? Have all your interlocutors, including me and Hoosier been "Islamophobes"? (Are all/most "Islamophobes" also "Neoconservatives," or all/most "Neoconservatives" also "Islamophobes"? Or are you still unwilling to elaborate/explain that trope of yours?)

L-L: Europe and in particular the UK has stringent legislation against incitement to or material support for terrorism - stringently enforced.Stringent legislation against incitement to or material support for terrorism - stringently enforced" and unhesitatingly and effectively enforced? The story of London's ("Londonistan" in the view of some) Finsley Park mosque, where Al-Masria inspired the likes of Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui to give themselves to terrorism, while Yemen sought Al-Masri's extradition, supports your claim? Omar Bakri Mohammed would be another example of how the UK has given no breathing room to those who incite Muslim to commit acts of terror?

L-L: Secondly, reminding you and others of the growing numbers of Muslims world wide is not "triumphalism" - it is a fact.It is also a "fact" that on Thursday the Dow Jones dipped below 8000. But that is of no relevance to this thread, is it? Of what relevance was your demographic "fact" if not to sound a triumphalist note, one that can only encourage "Islamophobia"?

L-L: You may find this uncomfortable...the Reagan decision to fight a proxy war with the Soviets in Afghanistan by arming the "mujahiddin" actually resulted in the creation of Al Quaida and like-minded groups. The surviving veterans of that enterprise returned to their own countries and carried on the havoc.Ever heard of the Cold War, which saw the United States locked in a very dangerous against Communist hegemony after WWII, with the Soviet Union its principle antagonist in that struggle, others (e.g., China and North Korea) in the mix too? And you do know, don't you, that only a decade earlier, the Soviets had done there best to bleed the US while it was engaged in Vietnam's civil war? So against that background, and much more, tell us, if you will, whether you have counseled the US not to work with Pakistan and other Islamic(!) countries, most especially Saudi Arabia, not to support the Afghans in their effort to expel the Soviets because to do so would cause Islam to turn really malignant?

Where the Islamic world is concerned, it seems that the US is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn't. Islam calls upon its followers to sacrifice their lives to defeat those who would impose their rule upon them, but after the US has made it possible for them to defeat their oppressors, Muslims like you blame the US for all that follows. (Any blame for the Pakistanis and the Saudis, among other Islamic supporters of the Afghan undertaking?) The Kuwaitis who were so effusively grateful to the US for saving them from Saddam in '91 were within five years loudly and angrily ungrateful. (As someone who served on active duty in the US Army during PGW-I, I don't care much for such people.) Some more mujahadeen were "created" in Bosnia and in Kosovo, two more places that the US intervened to save Muslim behinds, but not much gratitude from the Islamic world for that either. No good followed from the US's efforts to provide humanitarian relief to Somalia, another Muslim country, and rehabilitate that hopelessly fractured country. (What is it with Muslims and piracy, from Tripoli 200 hundred years ago to the coast of Somalia today?) The Islamic world isn't doing much to halt the massacres in Sudan, is it, but then that's mostly Muslims on animists and Christians in the south, isn't it?

Did you say something about those wonderful madrassas that "educate" so many Pakistanis? I wasn't aware that the US was responsible for the blossoming of those Islamic schools, I thought they were the fruit of generous Saudi charity, you know that Wahabi version of Islam. ("...neither Reagan nor Bush did a damn thing about the problem of the madrassas - billions for arms - not a penny for education to tackle the root of the problem." You do know, that Pakistan is second on the list of US aid recipients, and while a good portion of US $s does go for the military, plenty is in the form of non-military aid. The Pakistanis, whom V.S. Naipul characterized so devastatingly 25 years ago, would be just fine had not the US intermeddled there?

It's getting late, so we will have to leave Algeria, General Zia-ul-Haq, and some of the other points you have raised until another time. Please, though, address what I said back on 11/11 at 11:20 PM about the 57 nations that make up the Organisation of the Council of Islamic Nations, and tell us which among them are admirable and why.

(And the "Global War on Terrorism," that's code for war on those who would wage war on the civilized world, and they aren't aroused Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons, Hindus, Confuscians, Zorastrians,... President Bush resorted to that code because he didn't want to offend your sensibilities L-L, hoping that you would do more to combat radical Islam than just declaring it unIslamic, while so many Islamic clerics have endorsed it. The late, unlamented Sheik Yassin and Sheik Nasrallah are two of the more familiar names, but there are so many more.)
11.15.2008 12:23am
Litigator-London:
SANE:

You ask if I read Arabic. I speak, read and write Arabic, French, Demotic Greek, Italian, and Spanish. Since my education took place when these were still routinely taught, I can also read Latin and Ancient Greek but with considerably less fluency than I had when I matriculated. I speak read and write English and I understand Murkin.

In relation to your latest post, it is necessary to point out that, unlike Judaism and in common with Christianity, Islam is a missionary religion. Many Christians regard it as part of their religious duty to prosletyise - and so do many Muslims. It is thefore not unsurprising that if you take a survey in a population of Muslims you will find a majority who would like to see a world which is entirely Muslim. I suspect that even today there are many adherents of Christianity who would wish the whole world were Christian. I am not sure whether that encompasses the "rapture ready" crowd because it is quite hard to keep track of all the sects.

As I am sure you agree, historically, there has been far too much missionary activity with or following the sword. Apart from the Crusades, and the unfortunate encounter of my own ancestors with the forces of Their Most Catholic Majesties, I could mention the activities of the Spanish in the Americas by reason of which the original name of a city in California was El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula.

Where you begin to go wrong is using the word "infidel". That is not an Islamic or Arabic concept at all but a Christian one directed specifically at Muslims, hence the practice of the RC Church to assign to some bishops sees "in partibus infidelium". The equivalent Arabic word is "kafir", but that word specifically applies only to atheists and polytheists and from the days of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) expressly excluded Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians - i.e the then known worshippers of the one God.

As an example of how matters develop in islamic jurisprudence, Saudi Arabia has a policy of not granting visas to enter the Kingdom to any "kafir". That came up against a need to recruit cheap nursing labour from India to staff the hospitals. So the proposition was put to the Saudi Ulema and with a lot of persuasion they eventually accepted that Hindus could be considered as worshipping different manifestations of the Almighty and therefore could be considered believers and granted visas and work permits. In other words, a situation where the most intransigent sect (which, as you know, most Muslims consider heretical) gave way to progress, just as it did in the 1950's over the introduction of television.

I acknowledge the importance of tradition, how could I not? As you will be aware, although both words translate as "tradition", there is a distinction in meaning between "hadith" and "sunna" "Sunna" means the practice of the Prophet and his community, whereas the Hadith are sayings as to what that practice was. As you will probably be aware, thanks to the jurist Sha'fi, the principle came to be established that where guidance is not to be found in the Quran itself, the sunna or practice of the Prophet and his companions as recorded in the hadith are to be considered a secondary source of Islamic jurisprudence. While I would have to go about 5 miles dowm the road to the British Library to get to early examples of the Sahih of Bukhari or Muslim, or the 4 Sunan works of Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasai and Ibn Majah, I do have the Mishkat al Masabih in the text originally published in Damascus in 1354 AH and also the English translation thereof by James Robson D.Litt, D.D., published by SH Muhammad Ashraf in Lahore in 1963, which is sufficient for everyday purposes.

From which, I take this hadith: "Anas reported God's messenger as saying "he who goes out in search of knowledge is in God's path until he returns" [transmitted Tirmidhi and Darimi] and there are many more in the same vein including "Anas reported God's messenger as saying "The search for knowledge is an obligation laid on every Muslim" [transmitted Baihaqi who however commented that the saying is well known but the "isnad" is weak].

Thus Muslims must continue to search for knowledge and that includes embracing all that comes from science and technology, as well as philosophy, theology and jurisprudence. If jurisprudence and theology were to be remain immutable for all time the command to search for knowledge would cease. We would be in the situation of poor Copernicus commanded by the Holy Office to stop teaching that the earth moves round the sun and not vice versa, complying to save his life while muttering "eppur si muove".

I accept that just as there were once doubtless well meaning Christan clergymen who ordered that those guilty of heresy should be handed over to the secular arm and burned at the stake - and there are still Catholic bishops in the USA today who would excommunicate those who do not believe that life begins at the moment of conception, there are still those Muslim believers who would say that a Muslim who apostasises should die and states which refuse to permit Christian missionary activity on their territory. I await the day when enlightenment will dawn also on these people.

This is a translation of verses from Surat 5 of the Holy Quran which are the clearest possible recognition of the Divine revelation to the People of the Book. ("Umm al Kitab").

Bismillah ar-Rahman ar Raheem

"45. It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah's will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers.

46. We ordained therein for them: "Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal." But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (No better than) wrong-doers.

47. And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.

48. Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.

49. To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah. it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute;

69. Say: "O People of the Book! ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord." It is the revelation that cometh to thee from thy Lord, that increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. But sorrow thou not over (these) people without Faith.

70. Those who believe (in the Qur'an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness,- on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. "

Salat Allahu al Atheem.

That is supreme law for Muslims, and as I explained to you earlier, I beleive that properly understood, the significance is that any person who seeks to do the will of the Almighty in accordance with the revelation granted to him, can be defined as a Muslim and will enter Paradise. No subsidiary jurisprudence can overcome that precept.

Therefore, I have no problem with a former Muslim who is now an Anglican bishop and I do not castigate the Jehovah's witnesses who turn up on my doorstep once a week or so. For me, both are doing God's will for them in accordance with their revelation. Once one starts from the premise that the Almighty is infinitely just and infinitely merciful, to deny Paradise to a human who strives to do what is asked of him is illogical and could even be said to be a denial of the divine attributes.

Wisely and generously, the 9-11 Commission stressed that Islam is not the enemy of the USA (Chapter 12, page 363):-

"Islam is not the enemy. It is not synonymous with terror. Nor does Islam teach terror. America and its friends oppose a perversion of Islam, not the great world faith itself. Lives guided by religious faith, including literal beliefs in holy scriptures, are common to every religion, and represent no threat to us.

Other religions have experienced violent internal struggles. With so many diverse adherents, every major religion will spawn violent zealots. Yet understanding and tolerance among people of different faiths can and must prevail. The present trans-national danger is Islamist terrorism."


more to follow
11.15.2008 9:11am
Litigator-London:
SANE:

Salafists (islamists or jihadists) use (or more accurately, misuse) Islamic texts and traditions but salafist movements are not mere religious sects but political movements inspired in large part by European extremist doctrines of both the far right and the far left. What we are really talking about is a political ideology which draws support from a perversion of Islam, just as National Socialism and even more so, Mussolini's Franco's and Salazar's Fascism drew on a perversion of Christian thought.

It was Qutub who advocated the creation of an islamist revolutionary elite that would impose the "Islamic" state in Egypt by the use of "every violent means necessary" - a phrase which will be absolutely familiar to students of totalitarian movements.

The key objective of the Salafists is eventual world domination by means of (i) the "islamist" education of the masses by charismatic teachers and leaders; (ii) the revolutionary building of "islamist" states - where rule would be by a theocracy - an islamist dictatorship of the proletariat; (iii) the building the "new Califate" - a transnational theocracy; and (iv) eventual world domination by the "islamist" movements.

And, as to the means of achieving the "islamist" states one finds: (i) the glorification of the armed struggle to establish the islamist state by force; (ii) the glorification of martyrdom as a means to that end and (iii) the belief that the struggle must be commenced by acts of terrorism .

I take the following from a paper by Mehdi Mozaffari (Docent, dr.scient.pol. , Aarhus Universitet) entitled "Bin Laden and Islamist Terrorism" - I'm sure you will find it on the web:-


For them, the West represents one single block without any nuances or variations whatsoever. In their reasoning, the Western political doings directed towards Muslims and other oppressed peoples are simply a direct product deriving from the philosophical and theoretical foundations of the West. In order to successfully fight against these political doings they must imperatively attack and reject the Western theoretical foundations.

Therefore, it is this closely related discourse that one finds with Hassan al-Banna, Mawdudi, Hassan al-Turabi, Ayatollah Khomeini, Osama Bin Laden, to cite only the most illustrious theoreticians and practitioners of Islamism. In this particular context, Mawdudi writes that:

“[we] aspire for Islamic renaissance on the basis of the Qu’ran. To us the Qur’anic spirit and Islamic tenets are immutable; but the application of this spirit in the realm of practical life must always vary with the change of conditions, increase of knowledge…We have to arrange these ideas and laws of life on genuine Islamic cross lines so that Islam once again becomes a dynamic force; the leader of the world rather than its follower”.

It is in the same spirit, but in more virulent terms that Ayatollah Khomeini already in the first years of his government declared:

“Muslims the world over who believe in the truth of Islam, arise and gather beneath the banner of twhid (divine unity) and the teachings of Islam! Repel the treacherous superpowers from your countries and your abundant resources. Restore the glory of Islam, and abandon your selfish disputes and differences, for you possess everything! Rely on the culture of Islam, resist Western imitation, and stand on your own feet”.

The true sense of this discourse becomes clearer if one takes a retrospective look at the temporal context in which the first Islamist discourse was pronounced. As we indicated above the formulation of such a discourse dates back to 1928. This date is very significant, four years after the downfall of the Ottoman Empire and the restoration of a secular Turkey. At this particular time the fall came across to the Muslim Sunnites as a terrible shock. The latter feared that this event could put an end to Islam as a complete religion.

This would inescapably bring the Muslims to abandon the sacrosanct norms of Islam and adopt European norms. It is particularly because of this reflex of loss of identity and fear of total and permanent submission to the West that the most faithful groups to a traditional Islam came into the scene organising themselves under the banners of Islam.

The Muslim Brothers organisation (Ikhwan al-Muslimin) founded in Ismailliya in Egypt was the first and by far the most sensational reaction to this fear. Thus Islamism was born and will develop during the course of the 20th century while retaining its initial message."

As Dr Mozaffari points out in the extract from his paper cited above, it is hard to over-estimate the profound shock the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and more importantly, the Ottoman Caliphate had on the Sunni Muslim world. In Andrew Mango's definitive English-language biography of Atatürk [Atatürk, Andrew Mango, ed 1999 John Murray], he describes the three decisions of Ataturk: (1) to set up a unified secular education system, (2) to abolish the Ministry responsible for Islamic law and religious foundations, and (3) to abolish the caliphate, as being nothing more or less than "a cultural revolution".

In the ultimate analysis, the Salafists wish to put the clock back, restore a caliphate abolish the secular state and achieve rule by an elite theocracy. See also a thoughtful article by Mark Woodward, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University A Theology of Terror - The 'Religious' thought of Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and Hisb al Tahrir al Islami.

Had I the time I could trace the development of the various movements for you, but there is plenty of material on the net.

The points which need to be made are (1) this is not Islam but a perversion of Islam and (2) Some of the rhetoric about "international terrorism" speaks of a "world-wide network of terrorists". That is overblown nonsense.

There are undoubtedly many smallish groups of Muslims around the world who have read the writings of Qutb and writings of others derived from his thought. They gather in small groups, often around a preacher or an activist who expounds salafist or intégriste doctrine to anyone who will listen. Vulnerable young people are persuaded to seek out opportunities for "jihad" and they are encouraged travel to places, such as the tribal areas of Pakistan, where they can be further indoctrinated.

But the groups are by and large auto-cephalous. The idea of a single leadership sitting spider-like in the caves of Afghanistan actually carrying out "command and control" functions is a picture which it may suit US proponents of the so-called "war on terror" to paint, but it is certainly false. What one does have is a sort of "old boys network". The survivors of the struggle against the Soviets in Afghanistan got to know each other in the training camps and in the fields. They came from many different countries and the survivors took the ideology home with them and they may well keep in touch with "old comrades".

More importantly, when a skilled propagandist, such as Bin Laden, makes a pronouncement, it will be studied by sympathisers, who may have never have met him or anyone connected with him, but who will seek to emulate him.

That is why the so-called "war on terror" cannot be won by the military means advocated by the USA. The capture or killing of a particular leader or "emir" achieves very little because the thoughts and the ideology live on. Sayyed Qutb was executed in 1966 but his thought and teaching lives on, continues to be read and emulated nearly 40 years on.

The struggle against terrorism - which I very much support - has of necessity to tackle the ideology.

Just as the burning of heretics did not stop the spread of the ideas of the Reformation, neither will military or police repression wipe out the ideology of salafism. For so long as the perceptions of the millions of Muslims around the world are that the USA and its Western allies are corrupt and evil influences, that they support illegitimate governments and that they assist in the repression of Arab brothers, the ideology will remain attractive to those who are predisposed to it.

That is why the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq was such a dangerous and grievous error on the part of the Bush Administration. It immensely increased the world-wide appeal of the ideology of the Salafists.

(more to follow)
11.15.2008 9:43am
Litigator-London:
SANE:

There is an old western saying that "the Devil can quote Scripture to his own purpose".

On February 23, 1998, Al-Quds al-Arabi, an Arabic newspaper published in London, printed the full text of a "Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders." Bin-Laden's so-called "fatwa".

The translation of the text is that on the Middle East Web Site together with an extract of an analysis by Bernard Wasserstein. Wasserstein is quoted by Mideast Web as saying:

"To most Americans, the declaration is a travesty, a gross distortion of the nature and purpose of the American presence in Arabia. They should also know that for many -- perhaps most -- Muslims, the declaration is an equally grotesque travesty of the nature of Islam and even of its doctrine of jihad..."

Mr Wasserstein is to be praised for this very fair recognition of this so-called "fatwa" for what it is. It can be added that a "fatwa" is an Islamic jurisprudential ruling. It is only valid when issued by a person or body with the relevant authority. Bin Laden has no such authority and to call it a "fatwa" invested it with a quality it did not legally possess. Further, even if it had such quality, Islam only regards a fatwa as legitimate and binding if based on sound doctrine and precedent - which the Bin Laden "fatwa" was not. However, the text is replete with Quranic quotations and allusions designed to have a powerful effect on Muslim readers.

Then there is the October 7th 2002 statement aired on Al-Jazeera TV. This triumphal text, glorying in the mass murders of September 11th, is also replete with Quranic invocations designed to have maximum effect on Muslim listeners. And there is the misuse of the Holy Quran in the Bin Laden videos.

Whether Bin Laden and those who assisted him in the recruitment and indoctrination process will ever face human justice for their misdeeds is at present uncertain.

But I have no doubt that a very substantial part of the responsibility for terrorist acts lies with teachers and preachers who spread Salafist thought seeking out personalities vulnerable to recruitment throughout the Muslim world.

As has been seen in Algeria and Iraq, this perverted and un-Islamic ideology goes even further - it holds that all Muslims who do not rise up to overthrow regimes the Salafists consider illegitimate are also apostates and legitimate targets. So in Algeria, there has been indiscriminate bombing in cities, just as there has been in Iraq. Whole villages have been brutally massacred in Algeria.

Non-Muslims need to be reminded that the theology and the ideology of the Salafist and Wahhabi do not represent orthodoxy for the millions of Muslims worldwide. Such persons are no more representative of Islam worldwide than the ravings of some US televangelists could be said to represent mainstream Christianity.

But I have a view about the responsibilities of teachers and preachers who betray the trust the communities place in them and misuse the power of religion to provoke in vulnerable minds a willingness to take up arms against others in unjustified insurrection and terrorism and it is this:

Almighty God, all praise to him, is infinitely just. Surely He will hold teachers and preachers to be responsible before Him on the Day of Judgment, as much or more so than those who planted the bombs or operated the detonators.
11.15.2008 10:08am
Litigator-London:
To all:

I have trespassed on the hospitality of this thread and site for too long. I could respond in more detail to other critics but I elect not to do so. That is not to say I accept the criticisms.

I have set out for the sceptical in, I hope, the necessary detail that properly understood the Muslim world is not against Christianity or the West in general.

But just as some aspects of Western policy (in particular those post WW2, and of the Reagan and Bush2 Administrations especially) have increased the divisions and fuelled resentments, they have been particularly counter-productive in relation to the threat of Salafist terrorism which is (1) un-Islamic and (2) still very dangerous.

Just one point to Neurodoc. If US aid is taken as a percentage of GDP, then the US is at the bottom of the list of developed countries. And most of it is "tied" aid. In the case of Pakistan, of course the Saudi have been pouring money into the Madrassas. How much US Aid has gone to Pakistan for secular education? Education is one of the keys to the elimination of Salafist ideology.

I shall not respond to any further posts on this thread.
11.15.2008 10:39am
neurodoc:
Gee L-L, when you are not focusing on what you asserted was the great contribution of "neoconservatives" to the rise of radical Islam, and shift your attention to the responsibility of Muslims for that rise, you turn into a rather interesting interlocutor, someone I would like to hear more from. While reflecting on some of your major points, I'll stop to challenge some of your minor ones:

L-L: As I am sure you agree, historically, there has been far too much missionary activity with or following the sword. Apart from the Crusades

Judaism, a religion regularly, and quite viciously, reviled in the Islamic world, is not a prosletyzing religion, as you acknowledge, and hence has no history of forcing itself on non-believers. (Please don't tell me Judaism is respected and it is only Zionism and Israel that are reviled, since that is patently untrue. Jews qua Jews are viciously attacked, and Judaism = Jews collectively.) Christianity has that history of the Crusades and conversion by the sword for hundreds of years thereafter, notably here in the New World, as you have noted. But it is Islam that has practiced forced conversions the longest, over the widest areas I think, and gained more adherents by means of the sword than Christianity. (I'm open to counterevidence, if you have any to present.)

I'm not a Catholic and care little if a bishop of that faith denies communion to a legislator who votes to allow abortion, except as that may be an unfortunate influence on the public square. What the Catholic Church isn't doing these days, and hasn't been doing for a few hundred years, is killing those it deems apostates. Those who no longer hold to the Muslim faith are best advised to slip away quietly because the consequences for them of apostasy may be quite harsh, even death, and there are many places where it is simply too dangerous to undertake, no matter how quietly one might go about it. (BTW, would you count the Iranian theocracy, to say nothing of the Taliban, as radical Islamists, or respectable members of the fold? How about Sheikh Nasrallah and his Party of God (Hezbollah), another variant of radical Islam or just another branch of the family?)

L-L: Where you begin to go wrong is using the word "infidel". That is not an Islamic or Arabic concept at all but a Christian one directed specifically at Muslims

Thank you for that little disquisition on the distinction between "infidel" and kafir. How about one on dhimmi, and would you tell us the label for apostates, or is there none because they are not allowed for very long?

L-L: I have spent a lot of time in Algeria. When I first went, there would be a picture of JFK on the wall of every household I visited - because JFK had supported the Algerian struggle for independence.

So we had the hearts and minds of Algerians until what happened, when 25 years later we helped Muslims force the Soviets to retreat from Afghanistan? Are Algerians as disaffected with the former colonial power France, which didn't stop interfering in Algerian affairs after they were granted their independence? And if you think those pictures of JFK, our first international rock star president (will Obama prove to be the second?), are/were so significant, do you think that iconic picture of Che one sees on t-shirts, decals, and all sorts of things, especially in Latin America is equally significant?

L-L, I take it your family immigrated to England from the Indian subcontinent, probably what is now Pakistan, or perhaps Bangladesh or India. Am I right? At what point do you think the US went wrong in its relations with Pakistan, pushing it toward the miserable state of affairs it is in today. (You do think it is in a miserable state of affairs, don't you?) What role do you assign to others, e.g., the Saudis, and the Pakistanis themselves? (What do you think of VS Naipul's characterizations of the Pakistanis as "unenlighted", who have certainly done their share for terrorism within their own country, in the countries of their neighbors, and far away from their own borders, e.g., the UK?)
11.15.2008 11:03am