Quantcast

Ideological strangulation

Posted by Mary Madigan

In May, 2004, Asra Q. Nomani wrote about how her local mosque was being taken over by extremists:

“Not long ago in my little mosque around the corner from a McDonald’s, a student from the university here delivered a sermon. To love the Prophet Muhammad, he said, “is to hate those who hate him.” He railed against man-made doctrines that replace Islamic law, and excoriated the “enemies of Islam” who deny strict adherence to Sunnah, or the ways of Muhammad. While he wasn’t espousing violence, his words echoed the extremist vocabulary of Wahhabism, used by some followers to breed militant attitudes.”

Near Chicago, the Bridgeview mosque was also overtaken by extremists. It became a political outreach center for local extremists and supporters of Hamas. The moderates fought the extremists for control of the Bridgeview mosque and lost.

Moderate Muslims still pray at the mosque, but some say conservatives have created an environment that is overly political, too rigid in its interpretation of Islam and resistant to open debate. These members also worry that the Muslim Brotherhood, a controversial group with a violent past, has an undue influence over the mosque. Despite these concerns, the critics largely remain silent, fearful of being called “unIslamic” by mosque leaders.

Connections between Saudi-influenced mosques and terrorist groups have been made in the Netherlands, after the killing of Theo Van Gogh, and in Spain after the 3/11 attacks. According to Sufi scholar Hisham Kabbani more than 80 per cent of American mosques are “controlled by extremists”. Most of those extremist mosques are supported and funded by Saudi charities.

The Center For Religious Freedom, a division of Freedom House, founded

more than sixty years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, and other pro-democracy Americans, studied the influence of hate propaganda in America by the government of Saudi Arabia.

This project * was started after many Muslims requested the Center’s help in exposing Saudi extremism “in the hope of freeing their communities from ideological strangulation”

Their report concluded that:

..the Saudi government propaganda reflected a “totalitarian ideology of hatred that can incite to violence,” and the fact that it is “being mainstreamed within our borders through the efforts of a foreign government, namely Saudi Arabia, demands our urgent attention.” The report finds: “Not only does the government of Saudi Arabia not have a right — under the First Amendment or any other legal document — to spread hate ideology within U.S. borders, it is committing a human rights violation by doing so.”

The press had a variety of responses to this story. From the Houston Chronicle:

To be clear, Freedom House’s study is not comprehensive. It examined a small number of U.S. mosques, choosing the larger and more influential ones. It would be unfair to conclude that these findings represent all American mosques, or for that matter all American Muslims. The Saudis are the real villains in this study.

Still, these findings are alarming. The report identifies the spread of Wahhabist thought in this country as a national security threat. The war for the hearts and minds of Muslims is being fought here, too. The U.S. government allows the foreign enemies of freedom and tolerance to spread jihad ideology on the home front. Why?

From the Chicago Tribune:

Are there Muslims who espouse bigoted views? The answer to that question is `yes,’ just like any other minority of any other faith,” said Tabbara. “What Freedom House is doing is unfortunately smearing all mosques in the United States and all mosque-goers by extension.”

If the researchers broadened their study, controversial literature would likely also turn up in other houses of worship, Kaiseruddin suggested.

“We are aware that there are books written with a little inflammatory language,” he said. “I don’t think books on Islam have a monopoly on those. There are books on other faiths that use inflammatory language. I don’t know that they can be classified as promoting hate.

[if there are books on other faiths that say things similar to these Saudi statements:

  • Jews "are worse than donkeys." They are the corrupting force "behind materialism, bestiality, the destruction of the family, and the dissolution of society."
  • Muslims who convert to another religion "should be killed because [they] have denied the Koran.”

  • Democracy is “responsible for all the horrible wars” of the 20th century, and for spreading “ignorance, moral decadence, and drugs.”

..I’d like to see them too.]

“The only thing we’ve received from Saudi Arabia is a package of dates during the month of Ramadan,” [Kaiseruddin] added. “We don’t reject that. We distribute it and we eat them. I don’t know that promotes any hatred among anybody.”

From the Boston Globe:

It is important to note that most Muslims do not share the xenophobic Wahhabi dogma. Freedom House undertook its study in part because ”many Muslims . . . requested our help in exposing Saudi extremism in the hope of freeing their communities from ideological strangulation.” Now that Freedom House has done so, it is up to moderate American Muslims to purge their mosques of the Saudi toxin, and to ostracize the extremists.

And it is up to Washington to end the pretense of US-Saudi harmony. President Bush last week referred to Saudi Arabia as one of ”our friends” in the Middle East. But friends don’t flood friends’ houses of worship with hateful religious propaganda. We are in a war against radical Islamist terrorism, and Saudi Arabia supplies the ideology on which the terrorists feed. Until that incitement is stifled, the Saudis are no friends of ours.

According to Arnaud de Borchgrave of the Washington Times:

Worshippers at Al Farooq are told, “If a person says I believe in Allah alone and confirms the truth of everything from Muhammad, except in his forbidding fornication, he becomes a disbeliever. For that, it would be lawful for Muslims to spill his blood and to take his money.”

The Brooklyn mosque was a favorite of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik ringleader of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, on his fund-raising tours in the late 1980s. Several co-conspirators in the Landmark bomb plot (whose targets were the United Nations and New York City’s tunnels) also used Al Farooq as a safe meeting place.

Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted in 1995 along with nine followers of conspiring to bomb the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan and several other buildings, bridges and tunnels in New York preached at the popular Al Salam mosque in Jersey City.

Joel Mowbray, (the only journalist who has ever been detained by the US government for asking the wrong questions about the Saudi/State Department Visa Express program) also notes the connection between extremist mosques and extremist activity:

The former imam at the El-Tawheed Islamic Center in Jersey City, Alaa Al-Sadawi, was convicted in 2003 of attempting to smuggle more than $650,000 to the terrorist organization Global Relief Fund in Egypt.

One of Al-Sadawi’s former spiritual followers murdered in the name of Allah. Alim Hassan, then 31, killed his pregnant wife, her mother, and her sister on July 30, 2002. He reportedly stabbed the women more than 20 times each because they refused to convert to Islam. According to reports, Hassan prayed regularly at El-Tawheed.

Mowbray notes a possible connection between this extremist influence and the recent murders of the Armanious family in Jersey City. This possible connection was also noted by ABC news a few days after the murders.

But ABC News has learned that a cousin of the slain family has been a translator working for the prosecution in the trial of Lynne Stewart [link added by ed]. She is the radical lawyer accused of smuggling messages from imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, to terrorist cell members and associates

In any case, it’s pretty clear that the Saudi government is exporting more than dates to American mosques. According to the Freedom House report, moderate Muslims have been watching their religion get shanghaied by extremists for years. Has our government been listening to them, or have they been listening to Wahhabi-sponsored groups like CAIR?

The problem is not getting better. The question is, what does the government plan to do about it?

* View the full report (pdf)

Blogger Broadcasting

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Earlier this evening I caught the very tail end of Jeff Jarvis, Roger L. Simon, and Matthew Yglesias on Kudlow & Co. So I’m afraid I missed the juciy bits, if there were juicy bits. And I missed Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, Wonkette, etc. on Charlie Rose (I’m going to have to break down and order the video).

My point? Just that the bloggers are increasingly becoming kings and queens of all media. And also, that I managed to make a crude recording of Norm Geras‘ brief interview on BBC radio last week. It’s not the best quality because my sound card was on the fritz. And the interviewer kept Norm anchored to the rudiments (why do you blog? No, but why do you bother to blog? No, I mean, why would anyone bother to blog?) but the interview was by no means hostile and the tension of all those naive questions actually may have created a good space for Norm to give a good account of a certain part of his story as a blogger.

In any event, you don’t hear this professor on radio or TV often, so here’s your opportunity (.mp3, approximately 5MB).

Hear Ye, Fast Zombies

Posted by Jeremy Brown

I am a Gullible Ass

To put it another way: I am still a daily reader of the New York Times. I tell myself I’ve learned to separate the wheat from the chaff and the chaff from the manure. But a few days ago I let one piece of manure slip by me.

The offending kaka missile emerged from that recent NYT piece on how we pajama-clad bloggers are tearing across the country — at high-speed, just like those fast zombies in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead — forsaking our sheltered nests out in places like Kansas and Iowa to invade the streets of New York City and rip out the hearts of our betters, namely people like Dan Rather and Eason Jordan.

Yes, well that sort of view is basically fine. It’s fairly funny, really. But the article quotes Jeff Jarvis in a very misleading way:

But while the bloggers are feeling empowered, some in their ranks are openly questioning where they are headed. One was Jeff Jarvis, the head of the Internet arm of Advance Publications, who publishes a blog at buzzmachine.com. Mr. Jarvis said bloggers should keep their real target in mind. “I wish our goal were not taking off heads but digging up truth,” he cautioned.

To which Jeff responds on his blog:

And, of course, that makes it look as if I’m wringing my hands over the morals of my fellow bloggers when, in fact, I’m worried about precisely what The Times is doing here: using this episode to call us a lynch mob. Here’s what I said after that line:

We don’t want to be positioned as the news lynch mob — which is where a radio interview yesterday tried to go — but as the press of the people. Of course, big media can be a lynch mob, too. But that doesn’t mean it’s an example we should follow.

What a handy ‘snip.’

My initial reaction after reading the Times article on Monday was to reaffirm my solidarity with the opinions of one Jeff Jarvis as against those of the Jeff Jarvis with whom I bitterly disagreed in the NYT article. But, it seems, the latter Jeff Jarvis was an invention of the NYT reporters. Anyway, I feel I owe the real JJ an apology for thinking that straw effigy was him. Sorry about that.

My take on the Eason Jordan affair is that it’s a simple matter of accountability. And in this regard we the blogs are just a kind of community coalition taking media accountability into our own hands, the same way traditional community groups have taken it upon themselves to police the police or to put a small flame to the buttocks of their political representatives, etc. We the citizens are the boss of the police, of the courts, of the government and, ultimately, of the press. We literally own the broadcast spectrum, for one thing, so why wouldn’t we feel free to make a noise when a high ranking executive of a TV news network makes a serious charge without evidence, one that his network has not reported. All we wanted was to know what the hell had happened, what the man really meant. I don’t recall many bloggers calling for Jordan’s head on a pike. But so what if some had?

It wasn’t bloggers, or readers who fired Eason Jordan. CNN fired Eason Jordan (or accepted his resignation, as the case may be). Why? We don’t know, do we, since they won’t tell us. CNN seems quite happy to hide behind the cover of this bloggers-as-lynch-mob idea. Do we really have the power to defenestrate journalists we happen not to care for? I almost wouldn’t mind if we did. Bang! There goes Dowd, pumping gas. Pow! There’s Krugman scooping ice cream. Kablamachunk! Chomsky’s long-windedly explaining the Tilt-a-Whirl’s height requirement to a dazed Belgian child at Euro Disney.

But alas, bloggers don’t actually have that kind of juice.

Brent Bozell (hat tip: Captain’s Quarters) sums this up well:

Amazingly, most of the major “news” media avoided this news — especially CNN. So when Jordan resigned, it made the blogs seem so powerful that liberals started attacking them for recklessly destroying Jordan’s career, even using goofy terms like “cyber-McCarthyism” to denounce it. But what the bloggers did here was deliver information and accountability, the same things the major media purport to be providing — unless it’s one of their own in the hot seat.

An interesting footnote, via Jeff Jarvis, is this change in the headline of the NYT article cited above. It was, when I read it, “Bloggers as News Media Trophy Hunters” but it was subsequently changed to, “Resignation at CNN Shows the Growing Influence of Blogs.”

What happens in America stays in America..

Posted by Mary Madigan

According to David Brooks, when some American politicians go to Europe, they leave the Left/Right bickering at home..

There were Democrats and Republicans in this delegation, but you couldn’t tell who was who by listening to their speeches.

Instead, what you heard were pretty specific, productive suggestions on winning the war against Islamist extremism. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham lobbied for ways to use NATO troops to protect a larger U.N. presence in Iraq. Democratic Representative Jane Harman was pushing the Europeans to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Hillary Clinton suggested ways to strengthen the U.N., while also blasting its absurdities. Clinton affirmed that the U.S. preferred to work within the U.N., but she toughened her speech with ad-libs, warning, “Sometimes we have to act with few or no allies.”

.. McCain sat on a panel with officials from Russia, Egypt and Iran. He began his talk with suggestions on how to use NATO troops in the Middle East. Then it was time for a little straight talk. He ripped the Egyptians for arresting opposition leaders. (The Egyptian foreign minister held his brow, as if in grief.) He condemned the Iranians for supporting terror. (The Iranian hunched over like someone in a hailstorm.) He criticized Russia for embracing electoral fraud in Ukraine. In the land of the summiteers, this was in-your-face behavior…

I heard the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, in his soaring, stratospheric mode, declaring that we need the “creation of a grand design, a strategic consensus across the Atlantic.” We need a “social Magna Carta” to bind the globe. His chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, proposed a vague commission to rebuild or replace NATO. His president, Horst Köhler, insisted, “Unless we tackle global poverty, long-term security will remain elusive.”

Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny; it’s hard to tackle one without confronting the other.

Brooks believes that our representatives’ close contact with (or experience as?) combat veterans is responsible for their more confrontational style.

[Link thanks to Solomonia and Roger L. Simon]

Smash Nazimarching

Posted by Mary Madigan

I’ve often wondered — whatever happened to the anti-fascist, anti-authoritarian left?

They’re in the former GDR, and they call themselves the “Antifa”, or Anti-fascists.

From an Antifa post, (Feb. 2003) Why I won’t be at the Peace March

Almost everybody seems to agree: The left and the neo-nazis, the whole of Germany and the Islamic world: A group of evil, callous, cynical powermongers, obsessed with ruling the world have nothing else on their mind than bombing innocent civilians and sacrificing their own youth in their quest for oil and wold domination. For this they use their propaganda machinery, fake and forge and lie. Against this all the decent people(s) of the world should stand up and mobilise against the ‘tyrants’. We’ll all get another opportunity to show our strength as a civil society on february 15 — and march alongside Hamas sympathisers shouting ‘Jews to the gas!’.

Like this we can serve the imperialist ambitions of EU-Germany trying to position itself directly against the US in its slow but steady process of becoming one of the big players again. Germany who has the most investments in Iraq, whose chemical companies supplied Iraq with raw materials. For poison gas that Iraq intends to use against Israel.

It’s true that the US/UK alliance have come up with insufficient proof for some of the claims they’ve made. Nevertheless it should be clear to any half-intelligent person that they are probably right in most of their claims, and that they are certainly right in the assessment of the Ba’th party regime as a fascist dictatorship where human life and basic liberties are worthless or non-existent…

…Of course pacifists will logically prefer fascism to war.

But neither the Islamists, nor the neo-nazis, nor the Germans, nor the ‘left’ who are against this war are usually pacifists (with the exception of a segment of the left, and some christians). So we have to assume that they follow another agenda. An agenda that in this context means that they don’t give a f-ck about the victims of a fascist dictatorship and only care about positioning themslves against America.

I found the most unbiased description of the Antifa group in this quirky academic study of “Collective German Masculinities” in post-GDR Germany.

A self-described “cosmopolitan communist,” Fischer is an activist and publicist for the so-called “Anti-Deutsch,” or radically anti-German , pro-Israeli, pro-American position, a minority view among the range of mostly anti-American radical left subject positions in Germany. He had rejected the traditional pro-Palestinian view of the German left (and of the GDR) by adopting a historical narrative of the postwar German state as incurably anti-semitic and potentially (again) genocidal. This is a position that defends the U.S. as the primary ally to Israel, views the September 11th attacks as essentially anti-semitic, accepts the U.S. war in Iraq as necessary to eliminate the “fascist dictator” Saddam Hussein, and believes that “communism can come only after full bourgeois freedom (simply: liberalism) has been spread worldwide.”[xii]

In the Antifa universe, Lisa Simpson rules.

I’d never heard of this group until yesterday, when I was reading about the Neo-Nazi rally that disrupted the Dresden memorial: *

From the Guardian: “Addressing the rally, the [neo-Nazi National Party of Germany]’s leader in the Saxon parliament, Holger Apfel, launched an attack on what he called the “gangster politics of the British and Americans”.

He said: “They have left a trail of blood from the past to the present, via Dresden, Korea, Vietnam, Baghdad and – tomorrow possibly – Tehran. Terror and war have a name. And that name is the United States of America.”

The so-called anti-war, anti-terror Neo-Nazis were confronted by anti-Fascist marchers, who waved US and Israeli flags and carried white roses.

Harry’s Place commenter Frank said that the anti-Fascist marchers must be Anti-Deutsch. [Antifa] According to Anti-Deutsch for Beginners, this group’s primary interest is to prevent renewed imperialist ambitions in Germany.

It cannot be completely excluded that considerable resistance against renewed super power ambitions will develop in Germany sometime; however the experiences of the anti-war movement during the war in Kosovo and later don’t justify such a hope. At present it is obvious that a German peace movement will be formed particularly against the imperialistic competitor USA, not against present and future German wars.

For now, they seems to be more interested in fighting local German Nazis, who are gaining power in the government. Someone’s got to do it, and the ‘anti-war’ Left has no interest.

In fact, I’m sure these liberal, anti-totalitarian Leftists confuse the standard Left to no end. And for that, they deserve our thanks.

* Most links thanks to the commenters at Harry’s Place.

Iraqi Election Results

Posted by Jeremy Brown

I don’t know about you, but I’m delighted — and, I admit, pleasantly surprised — by the results of the Iraqi election as announced this weekend.

In short, it appears that the Shiite parties (the United Iraqi Alliance) have won the expected majority, but only, amazingly, by a hair with 48 percent of the vote. This means they lack the two thirds majority they’d have needed to unilaterally (if you can apply that word to the concept of a two thirds majority) install a government of their choice. The Kurdish parties (the Kurdistan Alliance) won an amazing 28% of the vote, and Allawi’s Iraqi List got a little under 14%. What does this very likely mean? The answer deserves its own paragraph:

Democracy not theocracy!

Even if, like me, you were cautiously optimistic that Sistani was not blowing sunshine up our collective asses about Iraqi Shiites having no intention of installing an Iran-style theocracy, I don’t mind at all that they’re going to have to build partnerships with Kurds, secular leaders and, yes, Sunnis in order to put together a government and a constitution. As we say in my country: Yee haw!

Here’s the New York Times’ account of the results. Notice the opening phrase: “A broad Shiite alliance led by two Iran-backed religious parties…” They almost seem to be saying that you need only bother reading any further if you really have nothing better to do with your day. But the article delivers the goods in spite of its first line.

See also this coverage by Jeff Weintraub at Normblog. (I’m assuming that Jeff’s account of the Shiite UIA not getting a majority is now out of date. The NYT explains that they squeezed by with their majority because of a complex system whereby votes were weighted after being tallied. Saved by the bell curve, I guess.) Here’s Jeff’s conclusion:

“Successfully holding the election was itself a remarkable triumph (under the circumstances); and the results give the Iraqis just about the best possible chance they could have gotten to put together a decently acceptable political future for the country – if they don’t blow it, of course.”

And here’s a happy Kurdish man, whose gesture will make Britons laugh immediately and Americans like me laugh a few seconds later (via Hak, who I’ve come to count on for inspiring pictures of Iraqis gesturing with their fingers):

irqgtyaa.jpg

UPDATE: A commenter worries, reasonably, about the low Sunni voter turnout. I had meant to include in this post my other perception, namely that the slim Shiite margin of majority will make it clear to Sunni voters how much more powerful their votes would have been and indeed will be in the Spring. I can think of no better way to demonstrate how participating in the new democracy will benefit Sunnis. They’ll come to the polls next time, don’t you think?

UPDATE: Early readers of this post who may now be re-reading it might have noticed an edit up above regarding things being blown places or not by Sistani. I realized that I meant sunshine, not smoke. We can’t afford to be imprecise in these matters.

I’m Off

I’m leaving for Puerto Rico tonight. Mary and Jeremy will take care of your opinionated blather needs while I’m away. Keep an eye on the mainland for me and be nice to the guest-bloggers. See you in ten days.

Where’s Eason?

Posted by Jeremy Brown

We’re all news junkies here, right? And, while you might not be a big fan of CNN as a news source, you do browse the CNN news site fairly frequently. Fair to say? So if CNN’s exectuive vice president were to resign after causing a scandal (that’ll teach him to ruffle the feathers of conservative bloggers like Barney Frank) then you wouldn’t have too much difficulty spotting the headline about said resignation on the aforementioned CNN homepage. True?

Well, you tell me. I have posted a facsimilie of CNN’s homepage as of about ten o’clock on Friday February 11th. I promise you the story link is there. Advice: do what you need to do first — bathroom, sandwich, smoke a cigarette — then settle down in a comfy chair. OK? Now click here.

Bat Ye’or at Columbia

Posted by Mary Madigan

I went to hear Egyptian scholar Bat Ye’or speak at Columbia University on Tuesday. Yes, the pro-Israel Ye’or walked directly into the belly of Columbia’s leftist beast. Despite the documented anti-Israel attitudes of some of Columbia’s Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department, there were no sign-waving activists protesting her appearance. The crowd was mostly low-key and graying. The room was so crowded that a few professorial types had to sit on the floor.

Before the talk began, two journalists who, to all outward appearances were liberal (one even had a grey ponytail) admitted that the many “breaches of journalistic ethics” that the New York Times had committed since 9/11 had convinced them not to read the Times anymore. They agreed that New York Sun was the best alternative.

I discovered Ms. Ye’or’s work when I read this article, Culture of Hate, about a year after 9/11. Her description of the current Islamist culture of jihad, “a racism which denies the history and sufferings of its victims” was confirmed by what I knew about the bias, inequality and brutality that ruled terror-supporting nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Sudan.

Under Shariah, non-Muslims, or dhimmis, are legally classified as less than human.

Before reading Culture of Hate, I knew that bin Laden was inspired by a philosophy of hate, Wahhabism. But I also thought that al Qaeda was one of the few organizations that used mass-murder to express that hate. Ms. Ye’or made it clear that, not only was this culture of hate murdering and enslaving non-believers around the world, the hatred for non-believers was based on established laws that prohibited the idea of equal rights.

The petite Ms. Ye’or had a talent for seeing the big picture. I couldn’t wait to hear her talk.

She discussed her new book, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis which concerns:

..the transformation of Europe into Eurabia, a cultural and political appendage of the Arab/Muslim world. Eurabia is fundamentally anti-Christian, anti-Western, anti-American and anti-Semitic. The institution responsible for this transformation, and that continues to propagate its ideological message, is the Euro-Arab Dialogue, developed by European and Arab politicians and intellectuals over the past thirty years.

According to Ms. Ye’or, this Arab/European alliance was motivated primarily by anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism and a desire to import oil and cheap labor.

More information about this organization can be found at Arab/European alliace website, Medea.

Ye’or didn’t go into the details of why an organization that was founded in the interests of subjugating the future of western culture in the interests of “multiculturalism” and opposition to America would name itself after the tragic story of a woman who murdered her own children out of jealousy and spite.

The main points of the book, according to Ye’or:

  • The concept of Eurabia began in the Universities. It has been influenced by Edward Said’s book, Orientalism. Said sought to discredit all Western analysis of the Middle East, since, in his words, “every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was consequently a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric.”
  • Many Europeans agree with Said’s theories. Many don’t believe that their culture is worth preserving.
  • The policies of the EU towards Israel mirror Arab policies.
  • This multicultural ‘alliance’ is currently cemented by European fear of terrorism.
  • Europe seems to accept its current dhimmi status, and does not seem to be willing to defend traditional Western, Judeo-Christian values.

  • In Europe and in the UK, Muslim gangs are a threat and anti-Semitic attacks are increasing

Despite Columbia’s famed leftist leanings, the question and answer session was surprisingly balanced. But, as is usual in academic settings, the ‘questions’ were usually short lectures disguised as questions.

Questions:

  • The moderator found it hard to believe that Europeans wouldn’t defend themselves.
  • A man whose sister had converted to Islam and married a Muslim said that, while his sister was happily married and he loved his brother in law, he was shocked by their attitudes. The sister, a westerner raised in America, believed that Salman Rushdie should die for what he said about Islam. His brother in law told him that eventually, the state of Israel will not exist. “We are a patient people” his brother-in-law said.
  • A woman sitting next to me asked Ye’or about the influence of Arab money on American colleges. Given that the concept of Eurabia originated in European Universities, and given that our Universities, particularly Columbia, are heavily influenced by Saudi money, I though that was a good question. Ms. Ye’or agreed that this was a threat.
  • One man who identified himself as Muslim asked Ye’or “What is your problem with Muslims?” (Obviously he’s never read Culture of Hate) Ms. Ye’or said that she would have no problem with Muslims if they were willing to recognize that Dhimmis should have equal rights. “Unfortunately,” she said “they’re not willing to recognize that” Most of the room applauded her answer.

    Humiliated, the questioner shook his head in disbelief and said “I don’t understand, but then again, I’m just a dirty Muslim”

  • The student said “I am an Arab, we are a Semitic people, so you can’t accuse me of being an anti-Semite.” The crowd reacted with sarcastic laughter, and the quality of the student’s question went downhill from there. Ms. Ye’or’s response was, basically, “you have a lot to learn.”

  • One questioner said that she believed Europe was doomed, and asked if America could be saved. Ms. Ye’or’s believed that George Bush’s policies offer the only reasonable alternative to European dhimmitude. This brought a predictable number of boos.

Will Europe continue to accept this Euro-Arab alliance, and the resulting anti-Semitism? Will academics in America encourage the same sort of alliance? The situation, as described by those who have been paying attention to these things, does not look good. Once again, it seems that Bat Ye’or sees the big picture.

UPDATE — An important point made by Ye’or (and commenter Vanya); This European/Arab alliance was the brainchild of the European academic and political elites — not the European people or the Arabs.

Programming Note

This Sunday I’m going to Puerto Rico for ten days. I’ve been travelling more than ever lately. I went to both Europe and North Africa twice in three months, and I went to the East Coast twice in one week. But this time Shelly and I are going on an actual vacation. You know, sun, sand, sleeping in, dining out, hiking, snorkeling, that sort of thing.

Mary Madigan and Jeremy Brown will guest-blog while I’m lounging around on the beach. They’re welcome to post before I leave, too, so watch for their bylines.

fortalezastreet1.jpg

fisheye1.jpg

Isla_Culebrita1.jpg

(Photos by Lonely Planet and PuertoRicoPhotoStock.com.)

The Post He Never Wanted to Write

Those of us who supported regime-change in Iraq are obligated to go on record in opposition to torture — assuming we really do oppose torture, that is. Anti-war liberals can’t be expected to fight it all by themselves.

Republicans have a partly overlapping, but also somewhat unique, obligation. Sebastian Holsclaw, who calls himself a conservative, explains that obligation over at Red State. If you’re a Republican, this is today’s required reading. I know I’m telling you to eat your peas here, but this is important.

Reality-Check Time

Steve Silver posted a must-read essay in defense of the dreaded three-letter acronym known as the “MSM.” He has been a professional journalist for five years and a blogger for three. He knows both worlds well, and what makes his defense of the mainstream media better than most is that he knows very well what really is wrong with it. In other words, this ain’t no whitewash.

Purple Finger, Worthy Cause

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Following up on a previous post of mine, you can now get yourself some merchandise bearing that “give fascism the finger” logo.

“Proceeds ($2 per mug, and $1 per badge/magnet) will be split between the IFTU and the Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party.”

Ayatollah Sistani and His List

The United Iraqi Alliance will most likely be the winner in Iraq’s election once the votes are all counted. The party (or “list” of candidates) was endorsed by Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric Ayatollah Sistani.

The nature of this political party is crucial. It can help us determine what the majority of Iraqis really want, as well as the direction the country is likely to take during the next couple of years.

I’m hardly an expert on the United Iraqi Alliance. Far from it. Iraq has as many political parties as it has opinions, and I’m nowhere near being able to keep all of them straight.

On that note, here are a few articles that suggest in broad brushstrokes what we might expect.

The first is an AP article from Hamza Hendawi that appeared just before the election. Much of this is encouraging.

The candidate list endorsed by Iraq’s top Shiite cleric is likely to emerge as the dominant political group in Sunday’s election. But his followers said Monday they aren’t looking to create a cleric-led Islamic state, and expectations are they won’t be strong enough to govern on their own.

The bloc backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani probably will have to negotiate a governing coalition with other political groups, including rival Sunni Arabs, a minority that long dominated Iraq’s Shiite majority.

At a news conference, politicians running on the al-Sistani-endorsed ticket, the United Iraqi Alliance, sought to ease any fears the bloc wants to install an Iranian-style Shiite state. Hanin Mohammed Qaddou, a Sunni Muslim on the ticket, said the issue of religious government was “not part of the program and it will not be in the near future.”

Humam Hammoudi, a Shiite cleric allied with al-Sistani, said the United Iraqi Alliance has many members who oppose mixing Islam and politics. “Had this been our intention we wouldn’t have let them join our list,” he said.

Al-Sistani, whose views are influential with most Shiites in Iraq, is known to oppose the idea that clergy have a right to rule. He is, however, expected to insist that the constitution drawn up by the new National Assembly upholds Iraq’s Muslim traditions and not include freedoms or practices violating the faith’s basic tenets.

Alliance leaders also vowed not to seek revenge for violence by Sunni extremists, who make up most of the country’s insurgency.

Emphasis added by me.

If what the article says is indeed true, our two biggest concerns can be laid to rest. 1) The majority of Iraqis did not wish to establish theocracy. 2) The majority of Shi’ites do not want a civil war with the Sunni Arab minority.

So far so good.

One of the Iraqis I spoke to in Washington last weekend (I’m sorry, but I don’t remember exactly who it was) said he thought Ayatollah Sistani’s endorsement of one list over the others is bad for both Iraq and Sistani himself. That may be. It tells us something useful, even so. Since Sistani endorsed who appear to be the victors, knowing who Sistani himself is tells us something about the likely victors, as well. I think it’s reasonable to assume he endorsed people who share his basic philosophy.

Now is a good time to revisit an article Johann Hari published a few months ago in Britain’s Independent.

A democratic ayatollah? At first, the idea sounds preposterous, like a black Ku Klux Klansman, a Jewish Nazi or an intellectual member of the Bush family. The Ayatollah Khomeini is still the West’s mental template, a tyrannical theocrat who slaughtered more than a million Iranians and issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

But democratic instincts spring up in the strangest of places. Many Shias insisted that Khomeini was an anomaly, a radical departure from the millennium-old Shia tradition of “quietist” clerics who did not seek personal political power. I was always pretty sceptical, and I’m instinctively hostile to religious authorities – but the behaviour of Sistani since the fall of Saddam has proved them right. From his home in Najaf, Sistani has been an absolutely consistent campaigner for a free and democratic Iraq, while scrupulously avoiding any temptation to seek power for himself.

[...]

Read his book A Code of Practice For Muslims in the West. It is – in Muslim terms – a startlingly progressive text. Sistani stresses the importance of respecting democracy, arguing that Muslims should participate in electoral politics – as voters and candidates – on an equal basis with non-Muslims. This might sound like a platitude, but compare it with the message preached across the Arab world by Islamofascist groups like al-Muhajaroun, who argue, “Muslims must not vote for anyone in elections… It is idol-worship. There is no legislator but Allah, and the only law should be Sharia”.

Before the war, some of us argued that, in a Saddam-free Iraq, democratic strains of Islamic thought would begin to emerge. We were right – but the violence has been so terrible that nobody noticed. Reuel Marc Gerecht, an expert in Shia political thought, says that Sistani’s philosophical arguments for democracy are “almost unprecedented in their scope. He speaks the language of inalienable rights: one man, one vote, and a constitution written by elected representatives and approved by popular referendum. Sistani has managed to launch a project that Muslim progressives have only ever dreamed of: establishing a democratic political order sanctioned and even protected by the clergy.” Here are the slow, tentative roots of the Islamic Reformation so badly needed in the Middle East.

Thank Allah for Ayatollah Sistani. I didn’t know what to make of him for some time. But I’ve slowly come to trust him, and he hasn’t let me down yet.

If I were Iraqi I almost certainly would vote for a more secular party to the left of the United Iraqi Alliance. I’m instinctively distrustful of religious parties, even when they’re democratic. Still, Iraq can do a lot worse than having a democratic small-c conservative party like Ayatollah Sistani’s running the show. Iraqis could have voted for war and dictatorship — and they didn’t.

Besides, it’s none of my business how they choose to govern themselves — as long as they really do choose how to govern themselves and don’t opt for anti-American war-mongering tyrants to make the decisions for them instead. It looks like they probably cleared that hurdle, and the case for optimism is now higher than it recently was.

UPDATE: Mary Madigan thinks Sistani might be an Islamist. She cites evidence from her archives (1, 2, 3, 4), but it’s all older than what I cited. Hmm. I wish I knew more about him than I do.

Activistists Revisited

My new Tech Central Station column is up: They March for Themselves.

UPDATE: After you read my piece, read Patrick Lasswell. He was standing right next to me during one of the incidents I recall in the article.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Michael J. Totten's blog