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«After the Pakistan school attack, we need to talk about Islam»
26.12.2014. Pretending that Islamist extremism has nothing to do with Islam simply plays into the radicals' hands: it is time to discuss religious reform, writes Alan Johnson in The Telegraph (links in original, emphasis added):
"There is nothing in Islam that justifies acts of terror." (Prime Minister David Cameron reacting to the beheading of British soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamists who shouted “Allahu Akbar" and quoted 22 verses from the Koran.)
"They don’t represent Islam or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world." (David Cameron’s reaction to the massacre by Islamists in Nairobis’s Westgate shopping centre of anyone who failed to name the mother of the founder of Islam or recite verses from the Koran.)
"This hateful ideology has nothing to do with Islam... Let the message go out that we know Islam is a religion of peace." (Theresa May’s speech to Conservative Party Conference, 2014.)
Islamic State has "nothing to do with the great religion of Islam, a religion of peace." (David Cameron, denying any connection between the creation of an Islamic caliphate and Islam.)
"[The massacre in Pakistan] is nothing to do with one of the world's great religions - Islam, which is a religion of peace." (Prime Minister David Cameron speaking after a group of Taliban gunmen murdered 141, including 132 children at a school in northern Pakistan.)
The mantra that Islamism "has nothing to do with Islam" is well-intentioned. It aims to delegitimise the terrorists and strengthen the vast majority of Muslims who oppose terror. It is no doubt what the "comms" experts are telling the Prime Minister to say. But they are wrong. The unthinking, kneejerk, pro-forma and near-Orwellian denial of the deep and manifold connections between Islam and Islamism has to stop.
Forget Alastair Campbell. We have to start "doing religion" because, as I learnt in 2008-2010 when interviewing 25 young British Muslims who had taken a journey in and out of extremism, we have to start "doing" Islam if we are to defeat Islamism.
We are petrified of speaking obvious truths. When a lord recently dared to invite Muslim leaders to address the violence in the Koran, he was condemned.
This groupthink has to stop.
Here is what we can’t ignore any longer: religious reform is essential if Islam is to overcome what the great Muslim scholar Bassam Tibi calls its "predicament with modernity".
Until we admit that Islam has such a predicament, admit that the Islamists exploit that predicament to radicalise, and admit that when they do they can point to canonical sources (even if it is also true that moderates can point to other sources, and more of them) then we are not going to win.
My interviews with former extremists were collected over many hours sitting in homes, mosques and community centres all over the country. I learnt that "radicalisation" often took the form of a terrible detour in what had begun as a journey of religious seeking. That journey, at once pious and political, vulnerable and angry, was diverted by a skilled Islamist recruiter into what the Cambridge scholar TJ Winter (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad) calls the "hermeneutic of suspicion rooted in zealot attitudes to the Other". I called it, more simply, the Islamist detour.
Though each story was unique, it became clear to me that "deradicalisation" was the difficult process of casting off an acquired Political Islamist conception of Islam, a politicised piety of breast-beating and resentments, and embracing in its place some version of the Islamic concept and practice of "sakinah".
Sakinah means tranquillity, or peaceable (co)habitation, and is drawn from the Quran: "He who sent down tranquillity (sakinah) into the hearts of the believers, so that their faith may grow stronger" (48:4). The term is associated with stillness, contentment, and mercy, and with the notion that Muslims should be a just and moderate "middle community". In Sufism the word carries the sense of internal illumination, or "seeing the light".
Winter argues for the significance of the concept and practice of Sakinah in these terms:
"Once the sakinah (tranquillity) has been found again, once religion becomes a matter of love of God rather than hatred of our political and social situation, we can begin to extract our communities from the hole which we have dug for ourselves’."
The bad news is that we are talking of nothing less than a global religious reform if Islam is to overcome its "predicament with modernity".
The good news is that we are well positioned in the UK to contribute to that work. A major report, Understanding Society, published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research in 2012 concluded that British Muslims feel more strongly about their British identities than their non-Muslim counterparts. Indeed, “those of Pakistani origin scored highest in the research and Bengalis and Indians shared the second place in their sense of belonging to Britain.” (So much for the feat that Europe is turning into "Eurabia".)
From the Quilliam Foundation to British Muslims for Secular Democracy, from Inspire to the Armed Forces Muslim Association (AFMA), from Sisters Against Violent Extremism (Save UK) to the hundreds of thousands of British Muslims who are engaged in a quiet revolution of integration and contribution, there are forces at work to "extract our communities from the hole which we have dug for ourselves".
It’s time to do religion. It’s time to talk about religious reform.
Read the entire article in The Telegraph.
Alan Johnson is the editor of Fathom and a Senior Research Associate at The Foreign Policy Centre.
Time to blow it up
26.12.2014. In a four-minute video posted December 20, 2014 on the pro-ISIS jihadi forum Alplatformmedia.com, a masked and armed ISIS fighter calls on Muslims in that country to either make hijra (immigrate) to the Caliphate (i.e., the parts of Syria and Iraq controlled by ISIS) or to «blow up France» and kill unbelievers by any means: with a gun, a rock or a knife. The fighter speaks in French with a North African accent, and his statements are subtitled in Arabic. He is surrounded by several others, apparently also foreign ISIS fighters. Thus reports MEMRIJTTM in the article French ISIS Fighter To Muslims In France: If You Cannot Immigrate To The Caliphate, Blow Up France. Below are excerpts from his statements in the video:
I would like to address a message... to all my brothers and sisters in France, in the same manner that our sheikh [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has called upon you to strike all the interests of the infidels in all the infidels' countries. Today I ask you the question: What have you done for the sake of your brothers and sisters? What have you done for the oppressed? What have you done for yourselves? What are you going to say to Allah on Judgment Day? What answer are you going to give him?… Today you no longer have any answer to give... If the infidels are keeping you from making hijra, hit them where you are. Today you are capable, you are capable of hitting them. What have you to lose, as long as martyrdom awaits you? What have you to lose if Allah's Paradise awaits you?... The unbelievers can do nothing to you. This is clear and obvious. The unbeliever can no longer strike at Islam. The era when the Islamic umma was weak, when it was weakened, is gone. That era is over and it will never return.
Today we heard good news: the oath of fealty [to ISIS] by our brothers in Yemen has been accepted. The oath of fealty by our brothers in Libya has been accepted. All our brothers the mujahideen are called upon to join them and to pledge allegiance to Emir Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi...
Blow up France. Reduce it to bits. Blow up the heads of these unbelievers. Just as they permit themselves to harm our sisters, just as they permit themselves to make unlawful what Allah has rendered lawful, just as they prevent our sisters from wearing the niqab. Blow up their heads, blow up their heads. [Do it] in any way, with a rock or by any other means. If you cannot obtain a pistol, there are rocks, there are knives there is everything that is needed. Take an example from our brother Mohamed Merah [who attacked the Jewish school in Toulouse]. Take an example from him and blow up their heads. Kill them. Kill them, wherever they are. Kill them. Don't let them live in peace. And once more, whoever is capable of making hijra should do it…
The above report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM).
«Something is rotten in the state of Denmark»
04.12.2014. The European Court of Human Rights says France violated the rights of Somali pirates who had attacked French ships and has ordered compensation for them over judicial delays, according to the BBC story Court tells France to pay damages to Somali pirates:
The nine Somali pirates should get thousands of euros because they were not immediately brought before a French judge, the court ruled.
One is to get 9,000 euros (£7,000) and the others sums of up to 7,000 euros.
The judges faulted France for keeping them in custody for an extra 48 hours.
The pirates had held French citizens hostage after seizing a French-flagged cruise ship and a French yacht in 2008.
The French military captured the pirates on the Somali coast in two operations, after the hostages had been released for ransoms of $2.1m (£1.3m) and $2m.
Indian Ocean shipping has been plagued by pirate gangs operating off Somalia in recent years, but international naval action in the region has sharply reduced the attacks.
Continue reading at BBC.
HonestThinking comments: This is outrageous! This is a disgrace! Something must be seriously wrong with the European Convention on Human Rights, and/or with the judges who interpret the rules like this. People who capture civilian ships and their crew, and then threaten to kill the latter unless huge sums of ransom are paid, deserve no mercy, and should not be granted the kind of rights afforded to ordinary criminal suspects who should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Will Germany abolish itself and France commit suicide?
04.12.2014. Four years ago, Thilo Sarrazin, a renowned German central banker, who was also a long-time member of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), shocked the German establishment when he published a book in which he argued that Islamic immigration is undermining German society. In the book, Deutschland schafft sich ab [Germany Abolishes Itself], Sarrazin wrote that Islamic immigrants threaten Germany's freedom and prosperity because they are unwilling to integrate and rely overwhelmingly on welfare benefits. Thus writes Peter Martino in his Gatestone Institute article Will Germany abolish itself and France commit suicide? (all links in original). He continues:
Although Sarrazin's party, as well as the governing Christian-Democrats of Chancellor Angela Merkel, distanced themselves from the author -- and Islamic organizations tried to take him to court on charges of racial incitement -- the book hit a nerve with the German public. It sold over two million copies and became one of the most widely read books ever published in Germany.
Last October, Éric Zemmour, a French journalist, also published a book, which can be considered the French equivalent of Sarrazin's book. In Le Suicide français [The French Suicide], Zemmour argues that the policies of the French political elite are destroying the country. His arguments resemble Sarrazin's and the book has had the same impact. Its sales are breaking all the records. So far, in less than two months, over half a million copies have been sold, in spite of the fact that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has declared that the book "does not deserve to be read."
One of the few French journalists who openly defends Zemmour is Élisabeth Lévy, who, like Zemmour, is of Jewish Algerian descent. She criticizes Zemmour's "bonapartism," but has also called the behavior of Prime Minister Valls -- and others who attack the book without having read it -- "Stalinist and Orwellian." According to Élisabeth Lévy, ordinary French citizens long for the past – not, however, to the days of Napoleon, but rather the days when French suburbs had not become strongholds of radical Islam; when French society was still based on French values, and when people who felt insecure were taken seriously by politicians.
The enormous commercial success of Zemmour's book illustrates the deep dissatisfaction of many average French citizens with their political and cultural elite. Four years ago, Thilo Sarrazin's book showed that many ordinary Germans do not want the German political elite to abolish Germany. Today, Éric Zemmour's book illustrates that many ordinary French are not prepared to commit national suicide.
Has Germany abolished itself? Not yet. Has France committed suicide? Not yet. What the books do indicate, however, is that Europe seems ripe for political upheavals.
Read the entire article at Gatestone Institute.
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