Your Ad Here
2012 June 25 Monday
Islam For The Nostalgic?

Gavin McInnes says Islam is so far behind us that news out of Islamic countries makes him feel nostalgic.

Every time Islam pokes its head out of its towel, I get nostalgic. Oh, women in Egypt were sexually assaulted for protesting sexual assault last week? Ahh, that takes me back to the halcyon days of the Wild West. Pardon? Did you say a Muslim man screamed, “God is great!” before throwing his wife’s head out the window in Berlin earlier this month? Ho ho, that takes me back hundreds of years to the old witch hunts in that fun little college party town called Salem. What’s that? Homosexuality is still a capital offense in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, North Sudan, and Yemen? Ah, sweet old 16th-century England. When I was told yet another woman was stoned to death in the Sudan a fortnight ago, I was catapulted back to the way we were in the 4th century.

I think we need to keep Muslims in the 50+ Muslim countries in order to keep the past physically distant from us today. They can then decide at their leisure whether go through enough social and political development that they cease to embrace ideas for societal organization that are obviously anathema to most Westerners. Such is the poverty of multiculturalist discourse that even though I'm stating the obvious you will find few leftist intellectuals willing to face the fact that a non-Western religion is incompatible with Western societies.

By Randall Parker    2012 June 25 10:45 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (24)
2012 April 07 Saturday
Muslim Brotherhood Promoting Moderate Image In DC

Hey, we are really very charming. If they sent the right guys over they might really be very charming.

Members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood began a week-long charm offensive in Washington on Tuesday, meeting with White House officials, policy experts and others to counter persistent fears about the group’s emergence as the country’s most powerful political force.

But what is a moderate, centrist Muslim viewpoint?

“We represent a moderate, centrist Muslim viewpoint. The priorities for us are mainly economic, political — preserving the revolution ideals of social justice, education, security for the people,” Sondos Asem, a member of the delegation, said Tuesday in an interview with reporters and editors of The Washington Post.

In Egypt to be moderate means to be moderate by Egyptian Muslim values. Well according to a Pew poll 84% of Egyptian Muslims favor death for apostasy (leaving Islam). That is what it means to be moderate in Egypt.

About eight-in-ten Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan (82% each) endorse the stoning of people who commit adultery; 70% of Muslims in Jordan and 56% of Nigerian Muslims share this view. Muslims in Pakistan and Egypt are also the most supportive of whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery; 82% in Pakistan and 77% in Egypt favor making this type of punishment the law in their countries, as do 65% of Muslims in Nigeria and 58% in Jordan. When asked about the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion, at least three-quarters of Muslims in Jordan (86%), Egypt (84%) and Pakistan (76%) say they would favor making it the law; in Nigeria, 51% of Muslims favor and 46% oppose it.

These numbers illustrate how the American Left's embrace of multi-culturalism is intellectually and morally bankrupt. All the different religions and value systems of the world are not compatible. Many cultural and religious differences matter a great deal.

By Randall Parker    2012 April 07 06:39 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (12)
2012 February 26 Sunday
Saudis May Kill Journalist For Imaginary Conversation

Be very very careful what you say in Saudi Arabia or just do not go there.

Keep your eye on Hamza Kashgari. He’s the 23-year-old former columnist for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Bilad newspaper who had the extremely bad judgment to tweet an imaginary conversation he was having with the prophet Muhammad. In almost no time, he was running for his life, hopping a plane in Jeddah and hoping to reach New Zealand. In Malaysia, where he apparently had to change planes, he was held incommunicado until a private plane arrived from Saudi Arabia. He’s now back home, in jail and possibly facing a death sentence.

So the Malaysian government was quite willing to send Kashgari back to likely death for what he Tweeted.

Next time someone extols to you the virtues of multiculturalism ask them if we should respect other cultures. Then ask them if we should respect the moral values of other cultures. If you are still getting Yes then ask them if we should respect a culture (Egypt) where 84% of the people favor the death penalty for apostasy from Islam and 82% favor death by stoning for adulterers. Or how about a culture like Pakistan where less than a majority clearly favor democracy. Okay?

I do not see all cultures as equally valuable or equally good or equally desirable. I see the death of Arab Christianity at the hands of Muslims as a loss. I see the rises and falls of different cultures and nations as losses and gains that have to be judged on a case-by-case basis. America's promotion of democracy in the Middle East just unleashes Muslim majorities to conduct ethnic cleansing.

Again, see Razib Khan's posts You know barbarians when you see them and Why are Muslims so eloquently barbaric.

By Randall Parker    2012 February 26 01:09 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2012 February 21 Tuesday
Egypt: Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

The new regime is content to keep down women, secularists, Christians, and others who don't share their values.The new repression comes with a more Islamic and populist flavor

The newly politically empowered Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic organization that supports religious law and opposes Western influence, has supported a crackdown on those who disagree with them, including the very activists who helped bring about the free elections that the Brotherhood dominated.

This is so predictable. I quote Razib Khan: "The reality is that most Egyptians have barbaric attitudes on a whole host of questions (e.g., ~80 percent of Egyptians favor the death penalty for apostasy from Islam)." Read the whole thing.

I hear Roger Daltry singing. The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again.

Update: Also see Razib Khan's posts You know barbarians when you see them and Why are Muslims so eloquently barbaric.

By Randall Parker    2012 February 21 07:17 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (15)
2012 January 04 Wednesday
Razib Khan: The poverty of multiculturalist discourse

Great essay. Recommended for full reading.

An academic discourse tends to totally muddy a clear and crisp discussion. The reality is that most Egyptians have barbaric attitudes on a whole host of questions (e.g., ~80 percent of Egyptians favor the death penalty for apostasy from Islam). It was not surprising at all that the majority of the Egyptian electorate supported parties with reactionary cultural political planks; because the classification of these views as “reactionary” only makes sense if you use as your point of reference the Westernized social and economic elite. The majority of Egyptians have never been part of this world, and for them upward mobility has been accompanied by a greater self-consciousness of their Islamic identity.

This reality is not comforting to many, and so there has been an evasion of this. If we accept, for example, the hegemonic superiority of sexual equality, should we not impose the right arrangement upon those who oppress women? This is a serious question, but the fear of engaging in “dangerous” analysis in the “discourse” allows us to sidestep this question. Rather, by minimizing the concrete realities of cultural difference and the depths of their origin, Egyptians are easily transformed into Czechs in 1989 with browner skins and a Muslim affiliation. This is a totally false equivalence. As Eastern Europeans go the Czech population is atypical in its secularism and historical commitment to liberal democracy (one could argue the weakness of the Catholic church goes as far back as the Hussite rebellion and the later suppression of Protestantism by the Habsburgs). While other post-World War I polities switched toward authoritarianism in the inter-war period, the Czechs retained a liberal democratic orientation until the Nazi German invasion. After the collapse of Communism they reverted back to this state. Notably, extreme nationalist parties with anti-democratic tendencies have come to the fore in most post-Communist states, but not so in the Czech Republic.

Razib takes cultural differences seriously enough to actually notice them. Yes, European peoples have a variety of different cultures. Yes, Muslims share cultural beliefs that are incompatible with liberalism (and the rhetoric of liberal multiculturalists leaves them ill-equipped to understand and react rationally to this fact).

Razib makes a distinction between barbarism and savagery. I like the attempt draw such a distinction. But it is worth noting that we consider it unacceptable in the West for women to be the property of their male relatives even while we accept it in Saudi Arabia. So his "unacceptable way of being" seems to need some refinement. Unacceptability is not a binary judgment. There are limits to the cost we are willing to pay to eliminate a practice and those limits depend on attributes of the group is engaging in the practice.

I make a distinction between barbarism, which is a different way of being, and savagery, which is an unacceptable way of being. The modern world has accepted that slavery is savage, and not tolerable in any polity. In contrast, the fact that women in Saudi Arabia are effectively rendered property of their male relatives is barbaric, but not objectionable enough that it must be eliminated through force.

The more alien a culture seems to us the more likely we are to tolerate its practices. We are more disturbed by deviations from our norms by people who are more like us. Mormon polygamy in Utah is deemed less acceptable than Muslim polygamy in the Middle East.

One of the problems with the poverty of multiculturalist discourse is that we end up not talking honestly (or much at all) about practices that we object to if the practices are carried out by people who are not recognized as being of European (including diaspora) cultures.

Also see his previous post An illiberal people, written about the elections that swept Islamists to power in Egypt.

Over the past few days the American media has reacted with some consternation at the fact that it seems likely that Islamist political forces will probably control around two-thirds of the Egyptian legislature. This bloc is divided between a broad moderate element which emerges out of the Muslim Brotherhood, at around ~40 percent, and a crazy and savage Salafist component, at around ~25 percent. Terms like “moderate” need to be standardized though in their cultural context. The Muslim Brotherhood is moderate in an Egyptian framework. But it is not moderate in, for example, a Tunisian context, let alone a Turkish one. Egyptian American journalist Mona Eltahaway has pointed out that while the Tunisian Islamist party, Ennahda, has women in substantive positions (e.g., 42 or 46 women in the Tunisian legislature are members of Ennahda) the Muslim Brotherhood gives women only token representation, with no leadership role. And, as I have observed before the Islamist prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was greeted with great anger by North African Islamists when he proposed the shocking idea (to them) that all religions be treated equally. My point is that what is moderate in Egypt is going to be very reactionary in North Africa, and what is moderate in North Africa is going to be very reactionary in Turkey. In fact, what is moderate in Turkey is going to be very reactionary in the West. To a great extent, this is common sense, but for some reason this sense is lacking from our broader discussion on these issues.

So they differ in terms of just how illiberal they are. But what's the delta for each of the Muslim societies? Is Turkey becoming more reactionary? With more power to democracy (the military undermined with the connivance of the United States) will it become more like Egypt? Seems like it. Will democracy enable Muslim societies to reinforce their reactionary tendencies?

Also see my previous post Razib Sees Liberal Multiculturalism As Epiphenomenal. Also: Inductivist And Imam Rauf: Muslim Extremists Deranged.

By Randall Parker    2012 January 04 08:53 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2011 September 22 Thursday
Saudi Arabia Tries To Silence Critics In Canada

The Saudi government threatens legal action against a Canadian organization that points out Saudi women can't drive and that their testimony in court means less than a man's testimony.

A Canadian TV ad that promotes Canada’s “ethical oil “ and blasts Middle East oil — from the same organization that’s run print ads showing an Arab woman about to be stoned — has caused Saudi Arabia’s lawyers in Canada to send a threatening legal notice to Canadian TV network CTV, which has held off running the ad until the matter is resolved.

First point: Foreign governments should not be allowed to have legal standing in Western countries to sue for defamation or on other grounds that would have a chilling effect on free speech. Note that at this point the Saudis have cut off a channel for sending out a message for this organization just by threatening legal action.

Second point: The government of Wahhabi Muslim Saudi Arabia, which, btw, funds the spread of their version of Islam in America, does not hesitate to use oppressive hate speech laws (thanks illiberal leftists) to choke off free speech in Western countries. Not a few Muslims in Western countries support this oppression.

By Randall Parker    2011 September 22 06:15 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2011 March 10 Thursday
Egyptian Muslim Persecution Of Coptic Christians

How exciting that the Egyptians rose up to overthrow a tyrant. This provided lots of video footage and thrills about the power of social media web sites. But then what happened with the Egyptians? Freedom from a dictator gave them greater freedom to abuse and kill Christians.

But such idealism might be waning as Egyptians confront the worst outbreak of religious violence since Hosni Mubarak was swept out of power Feb. 11. The deaths of 13 people in clashes in Cairo between Muslims and Christians late Tuesday have prompted calls for religious tolerance and raised the prospect of a deepening sectarian divide after a post-revolution honeymoon period.

Street battles broke out after Coptic Christians set up roadblocks in major arteries to protest the destruction of one of their churches. Security is scant in this metropolis of 18 million, where the military-controlled government is still groping to find a way to tamp down crime with no functioning police force.

The Copts say the Egyptian army stood by for hours while Muslims killed Christians. The Copts did not want to see Mubarak ousted because Mubarak did a better (though far from perfect) job of protecting them from Muslims than they expect the next Egyptian government to do. That's reasonable. Why expect a government elected by an overwhelming Muslim majority to protect a non-Muslim minority?

Reacting to the assassination of the Christian minority minister in Pakistan Razib says he's not holding his breathe in expectation that Muslims will stop persecuting non-Muslims.

Let’s ignore the blatant whitewashing of what being dhimmi under Muslim “protection” entailed. The teachings of Muhammad are irrelevant. Many of us think that the Muslim religion, like all religions, is a human fiction. Those of us who are not Muslim, the majority of his audience, think that the religion is false in most of its premises. Islam is what most Muslims believe, say, and do. Eboo Patel is not the Muslim pope who can adjudicate this. The fact is that the majority of Pakistani Muslims seem to support, or do not object to, these actions against dissenters from the theocratic consensus. Are they all then not Muslims? The word “Muslim” loses all meaning if that is so.

I don’t care about the “real Islam,” or what “Islam teaches.” All I care is that Muslims stop engaging in active persecution of non-Muslims. All I care is that Muslims march out into the streets and take back their public spaces in nations where they are the majority from the thugs. I’m not holding my breath. Though I’ll take notice when Eboo Patel and his acolytes of the true tolerant Islam go to Muslim majority nations and make clear to them the error of their ways….

What do you call an outspoken moderate in Pakistan? Dead.

By Randall Parker    2011 March 10 11:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2010 November 18 Thursday
Arab TV Networks Boost Primary Muslim Identity

Why be a Jordanian or Egyptian or Yemeni when you can be a Muslim instead?

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Residents of the Middle East who are heavy viewers of Arab television news networks like Al Jazeera are more likely to view their primary identity as that of Muslims, rather than as citizens of their own country, a new study suggests.

Because networks like Al Jazeera are transnational – focusing on events of interest across the region rather than those in any one country – they may encourage viewers to see themselves in broader terms than simply residents of a particular nation, the researchers said.

So the people of a group of countries that score poorly in the smart fraction sweepstakes are more strongly identifying as Muslims. This seems like bad news for the rest of the world because Islam appears to cultivate a heavy chip-on-the-shoulder attitude. Their resentment at the rest of the world will grow even stronger.

The development of a transnational Muslim identity does not stop at the borders of Muslim nations. Muslims in the West have greater access to Muslim news networks and other Muslim-themed TV shows. Samuel Huntington was right to argue that the divisions would be increasingly between civilizations, not between nations.

The Western nations should cut off all Muslim immigration and provide incentives for them to rejoin cultures more compatible with their religious beliefs.

By Randall Parker    2010 November 18 09:26 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2010 September 13 Monday
Inductivist And Imam Rauf: Muslim Extremists Deranged

As the Inductivist points out the logic is obvious enough:

Imam Rauf informs us that he does not plan to move the site for the Ground Zero Mosque because doing so would inflame the Muslim world and would put U.S. soldiers and citizens in danger. In other words, people will be murdered because some Muslims were pressured to build their mosque down the road a bit. Although he doesn't realize it, what Rauf is arguing is that the extremists of his faith truly are deranged.

Rauf expresses concern about how Muslims will react if the mosque is moved.

His main reason for pressing ahead with the “Muslim Y,” as he called it, was “national security”—a possible explosion of anger in the Muslim world. “I am extremely concerned about sensitivity,” he explained. “But I also have a responsibility. If we move from that location, the story will be that the radicals have taken over the discourse. The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.”

It isn't just the extremists who are deranged. The supposedly moderate center of Islam is deranged by Western values. Razib points to the views of University of Delaware Director of Islamic Studies Muqtedar Khan on the idea of Koran burning:

Along with the idea of God and prophets, the Quran is the thing that Muslims hold the dearest. My children have been listening to it since even before they were born. I use to recite it to them while they were still in the womb. Their children will be reciting it to them when they will be lowered in to their tomb. Believe me, there is nothing more precious to Muslims than the Quran, and watching people toss it into fire, will be horrifying. I would rather burn in fire myself, than watch a Quran burn.

I am amazed at how millions of Americans who are decent and honorable can watch this happen. No matter how ugly the act the Constitution permits this, is not an acceptable excuse. The Constitution does not permit this. The Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment. For Muslims this is worse than torture.

When I say Muslim values are incompatible with Western values I am making an observation that is obvious to anyone who doesn't hold an entirely irrational and unjustified faith in the universalism of Liberal values (I realize I've just ruled out most mainstream reporters and commentators). What's more insane than Muslims? Western Liberals who can't see that they themselves embrace a faith that is a minority outlier in the world. Their faith puts us in peril in the long run.

In Razib's own post "A misunderstanding of civility" he points out that obviously this Muslim professor does not have Western values.

This is kind of weird coming from someone with Western values, but totally in keeping with someone espousing values which are normal in the Muslim world. Muslims do revere the Koran and Muhammed in a manner which is hard to understand for someone with a Western background. Unfortunately for Muslims if they move to a majority non-Muslim Western society their values are simply out of step, and they need to adjust

But they do not want to adjust. They insist their host society adjust to them. They believe their values should take precedence, to the point of reinterpreting the US constitution to match their values and beliefs.

People who believe that their holy book should never be burned, that the US constitution forbids that their holy book should ever be burned, hold beliefs that are not compatible with a free society. Someone in America, a free society, should be free to burn any book as a protest. They should be free to burn records, flags, articles of clothing, or effigies. This is a free society where symbolic acts in protests are accepted as a form of free expression, a form of free speech. If Muslims can't handle that they should emigrate to a society more congenial to their world view.

The radicals are convinced they can recruit more jihadists if the mosque is not built. Think about that. We have to bow to Islam or more will join the jihad. This view is relayed in a column by Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times who is arguing that we should treat Islam with more respect. My take: respect is earned.

Newsweek quoted a Taliban operative, Zabihullah, about opposition to the mosque near ground zero: “By preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor. It’s providing us with more recruits, donations and popular support.” Mr. Zabihullah added, “The more mosques you stop, the more jihadis we will get.”

In America, bigoted comments about Islam often seem to come from people who have never visited a mosque and know few if any Muslims. In their ignorance, they mirror the anti-Semitism that I hear in Muslim countries from people who have never met a Jew.

Asks Kristof:

How do America’s nearly seven million American Muslims feel when their faith is denounced as barbaric?

Well, that Koran which so many Muslims and their sympathizers do not want to see burned also makes repeated claim to being the single true religion that should rule the world and force all to bow to it. Is that not barbaric? If it is not barbaric then what is it?

By Randall Parker    2010 September 13 08:16 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (14)
2010 September 12 Sunday
Geert Wilders Ground Zero New York City 11th September 2010

Geert Wilders speaks about the proposed Cordoba mosque near Ground Zero.

Geert Wilders provided a quote from Abraham Lincoln that sums up my attitude toward Islam: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."

Wilders points out that only Muslims are allowed in Mecca. Islam is a religion that explicitly denies basic rights to non-believers.

"Most Americans do not want this so-called Cordoba mosque to be built here because they understand that its not only a provocation but its also a humiliation. They understand the triumphant narrative of a mosque called, named after the great mosque of Cordoba which was constructed where a Christian cathedral stood before that land was conquered by Islam."

Great line:

"Ladies and gentlemen, we who have come to speak here today object to this mosque project because its promoter and its wealthy sponsors have never, never, ever suggested building a center to promote tolerance and interfaith understanding where its really needed: in Saudi Arabia in Mecca."

He goes on to point out that churches are not allowed in Saudi Arabia and the lack of reciprocity by Muslims.

He points out that the Muslims who support the 9/11 attack would feel triumphant and that we should never let them have that feeling about that attack. I say that's a very compelling argument.

Update: Here is the full text of Wilders' speech.

By Randall Parker    2010 September 12 10:34 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2010 September 11 Saturday
Koran Burning An Intolerant Act?

Says OneSTDV: the Koran burning by itself is a morally neutral act of symbolic aggression.

Two main points. First, many conservatives have condemned this act as "antithetical to American ideals," appealing to the liberal reconstruction of American history as primarily a tale of religious persecution and not the industriousness and insight of our Founding forebears. And while inherent freedoms ultimately underpin this great nation, we can't simply acquiesce to any ideology that comes upon our shores. A book burning is an aggressive, nonviolent act against foreign and, more importantly, destructive ideologies such as Islam. To preserve itself, a nation must rigidly define its own boundaries and its own autonomy - a truism ultimately American in its conception.

Second, devout Christian Palin defines this act as "mean-spirited religious intolerance". Of course, such a characterization reflects the liberalization of modern Christianity. One can never project emotions onto ultimate truth; truth exists independent of our wants, desires, and tender sensibilities. To Christians, the truth of Christ should exist solely as a revealed doctrine of objective reality. To assert the validity of Christianity and, concordantly denounce any competing religious doctrines as false isn't "intolerance" - it's logical consistency. If Christianity is the ultimate truth and not one of many paths to truth, then everyone else worships a false God, an act of blasphemy. Pointing out this ostensible conclusion has now become "intolerant" in our diversity-tinged society.

That even Sarah Palin condemns Koran burning illustrates the extent to which even supposed conservatives accept the morality and irrational emotionality of left-liberalism. What a bunch of wussies to object to burning the book of a religion that they think false and wrong.

Is it intolerant to assert that a religion's set of beliefs are wrong in fact? Intolerance is an unwillingness to allow someone to have a difference in opinion. Burning their religious text does not constitute intolerance. Rather, it is more in the form of a complaint or a heavily symbolic way of stating that the belief is harmful or wrong.

The irony here is that Islam itself is intolerant. The base text of Islam includes statements from its founder instructing them to kill non-believers. Sam Harris has collected some quotes from the Koran about non-believers. Here's an excerpt of very intolerant quotes about non-believers from the Koran.

"Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage. . . . [I]f they attack you put them to the sword. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded: but if they desist, God is forgiving and merciful. Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight none except the evil-doers"(2:190–93).

"Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not" (2:216).

"They will not cease to fight against you until they force you to renounce your faith—if they are able. But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever, his works shall come to nothing in this world and in the world to come. Such men shall be the tenants of Hell, wherein they shall abide forever. Those that have embraced the Faith, and those that have fled their land and fought for the cause of God, may hope for God's mercy" (2:217–18).

Sam on the Koran:

On almost every page, the Koran instructs observant Muslims to despise nonbelievers. On almost every page, it prepares the ground for religious conflict. Anyone who can read passages like those quoted above and still not see a link between Muslim faith and Muslim violence should probably consult a neurologist.

While Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians are allowed to live as (more heavily taxed) inferiors under Muslim rule the believers in other religions are supposed to be killed unless they convert to Islam. These sentences burn up when a Koran burns. And we are supposed to object to such burnings?

The scriptural basis for the treatment of Jews and Christians vs. the treatment of other non-Muslims consists of the following verses from the Qur'an:

For Jews, Christians, and other people (e.g. Zoroastrians) with a scripture given prior to the Qur'an (after which no scripture can be recognized, since the Qur'an is the final revelation) the verse is:

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya [poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (9:29)

For other non-Muslims, the verse is:

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers [Islamic prayers five times a day] and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (9:5)

The book instructs Muslims to kill us. Not all are willing to pay the costs that come from doing this. But the Koran teaches intolerance. An intolerant attitude toward non-believers permeates the book.

Update: To all the people who criticized the Florida pastor for proposing to burn the Koran: Did you demand an end to the Piss Christ artwork? Why was that okay and this isn't?

By Randall Parker    2010 September 11 04:42 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
Geert Wilders Defends Enlightenment Values

Geert Wilders, Dutch Member of Parliament (MP) and creator of the Fitna film, a critical look at Islam, defends Western values.

While Mr. Jones is dismissed as a small-time extremist, analysts say, Wilders has a sophisticated message against Islam that attracts sections of the European mainstream. While Jones is a traditional right-winger, Wilders is an amalgam. He supports gay and women’s causes, argues Enlightenment values, and wants a cosmopolitan society – just one free of Islam. Wilders is part of a globalizing anti-Islamic creed that seeks to portray itself as a reasonable emerging voice, his critics say.

What is unreasonable about opposing the spread of Islam? What is unreasonable about opposing a group that forces you to live under around-the-clock protection?

Astrid Ziebarth sounds like she does not approve of Wilders.

“Wilders plays on public fears of the erosion of Western values and the use and misuse of Islamic rhetoric by violent extremist groups,” argues Astrid Ziebarth, a program officer at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. “He portrays himself as a fearless knight opposing an army of Muslim migrants. And he fends off criticism by also defending rights for women and gays and by being a staunch defender of the state of Israel.”

Astrid, got a question for you: If Muslims become a majority in your country will you lose freedom? If Muslims make up the majority of voters and have the biggest say in setting laws will you be forced to live under many laws and regulations that you find objectionable?

There's a triumphalism in Western liberal thought that holds liberalism as the Manifest Destiny of the world. Liberals think they embrace universal values that will win out globally in the long run. I think this sort of thinking is foolish. Demographic trends are against the liberal vision of the future.

Australian Muslim cleric Feiz Muhammad called for the beheading of Wilders. I call for the deportation of Feiz to a Muslim-majority country.

Feiz Muhammad called Geert Wilders, “this Satan, this devil, this dirty politician in Holland.” He not only singled out Wilders, he proclaimed that anyone who spoke about Islam in this way should have his/her head “cut off.”

Sheik Feiz condemned a rape victim for wearing ''satanic skirts''.

Sheik Feiz was investigated after the discovery of DVDs of his sermons in which he urged children to become holy warriors and made derogatory comments about Jews.

He was also condemned for a speech in Bankstown in 2005 when he said a rape victim had no one to blame but herself for wearing ''satanic skirts''.

Do we want a religion in our midst that discourages women from wearing ''satanic skirts''? I think not. Do we want a religion that tries to enforce a double standard for itself? Again, I think not.

By Randall Parker    2010 September 11 12:03 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
Kansas Church Takes Up Koran Burning Task

After a Florida church wussed out a Kansas church has risen to the task.

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., may have “suspended” plans to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of 9/11. But the controversial Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., says it will burn the Quran. In fact, it already has.

Insult Muslims and get your website taken down. Free speech only exists on the internet if you can keep your web site up.

Web-hosting company Rackspace has pulled down a pair of websites belonging to the Dove World Outreach Center church and the Rev. Terry Jones, who promised – and then canceled plans – to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. As of 9 p.m. on Thursday, the official Dove World site remained offline, although the cached version was still available.

What's needed: A list of hosting companies that will not pull down sites for containing "offensive" content. That way people who want to express non-elite and non-foreign viewpoints could do so with only the potential loss of employment or life.

What is meant by offensive? Those ideas and beliefs that other people feel strongly motivated to prevent you from expressing. If, say, you wanted to totally denigrate the ancient sun god Ra you wouldn't get booted from your web server. Muslims only want to shut you up about Islam. Since Islam is the more problematic religion for the rest of us we really need to be able to not shut up about it.

Because the United States is militarily involved in propping up a very corrupt and unpopular government in backwards Afghanistan (one of my measures of backwards: high rates of consanguineous marriage) the US government does not want private American citizens insulting Islam. This is one of the costs of neo-colonialism in pursuit of a single united world: pressures from our own government to restrict speech at home.

But so far, most of the action has taken place on television or in print, with one major exception: Afghanistan. In Kabul, parliamentary candidates have put up signs vowing retaliation against the US if Korans are burned and in at least two provinces, anti-American protesters have been shot outside NATO compounds. In one northeastern province, an Afghan National Army outpost was almost overrun and a protest in Kabul earlier this week included stone-throwing at US humvees.

All this contributed to the reason Gen. David Petraeus, who is running the Afghan war, said the Koran burning "could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan." Petraeus, often described as a scholar-soldier (a former professor, he has a PhD in international relations from Princeton University), is well aware of the powerful role that Islam can play in uniting disparate local groups against what are seen as foreign invaders, nowhere more so than in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is one of the most tribal areas of the world. That tribalism makes it extremely incompatible with democracy based on rule of law and individual rights. Military involvement is in Afghanistan as a means of reducing our risk from terrorism is a weak way to protect ourselves from terrorists trained in Afghanistan. It is far more effective to use immigration controls, visa controls, and cooperation of US and allied intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

By Randall Parker    2010 September 11 07:56 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2010 September 04 Saturday
Imam Rauf's Motives For Cordoba House

Mark Silverberg casts a skeptical look at Imam Rauf's motivation for seeking to build the Cordoba House mosque so close to Ground Zero.

Noteworthy is Rauf's intention to raise funds for the $100M 13-story Islamic Center from the most authoritarian, least religiously tolerant Arab regimes in the Middle East. Does anyone actually believe that fostering "religious tolerance and pluralism" is a major selling-point in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar and especially with the Saudis who have spent an estimated $100 billion in petro-dollars over the past thirty-five years to spread radical Islamic dawa (proselytizing) through mosques and madrasses worldwide?

Yes, the motive here isn't to promote general tolerance. The motive is to promote the spread of Islam. Should Muslims become a substantial minority in the United States they will seek to carve out their own legal system for themselves (as they already seek to do in Canada and other Western countries). Should they become a majority they will seek to make Islam legally privileged above Christianity, Judaism, and other religions in terms of tax treatment, ability to get permits to build religious centers, and what gets taught in schools. Why pretend this issue is all about the religious freedom of Muslims when Islam does not treat other religions as equal?

If the Saudis and the other Gulf Emirates are really prepared to put millions towards this project in the interests of promoting religious tolerance, wouldn't a better way be to allow a church, synagogue or multicultural center to be built in Mecca? But do no wait for that to happen any time soon: there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia, nor are visits by non-believers to the sacred sites of Mecca and Medina allowed; so the argument that the Saudis and the others might consider funding the Center as symbolic support for religious tolerance and pluralism in Islam defies credibility. It is more likely that any financial support emanating from these countries will be geared to promoting jihadi Salafist Islam and the acceptance of Sharia Law in America.. Consequently any financial support from these regimes for this project should be suspect.

The big clue in plain sight: Cordoba House. Why that name? Cordoba is a site of Muslim conquest over Christian Europeans. The mosque in Cordoba was built over the site of a great church. It symbolized Muslim victory over Christianity. Now Rauf wants to build a symbol of Muslim conquest 2 blocks from the site where Muslim Jihadists killed thousands of Americans. He's raising the money from Muslim states that do not allow religious freedom and pretending to do this in the name of tolerance. It is a bit rich for liberals to expect us to not object in the name of religious freedom.

My take on religious freedom for Muslims: they can go back to Muslim countries where they can practice their religion that seeks to force the rest of us to submit.

By Randall Parker    2010 September 04 11:44 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2010 August 25 Wednesday
Clash Of Civilizations In NYC

Christopher Hitchens both takes issue with the opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque and and warns of the beliefs of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

From the beginning, though, I pointed out that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was no great bargain and that his Cordoba Initiative was full of euphemisms about Islamic jihad and Islamic theocracy.

Well, if even moderate Muslim leaders favor Islamic theocracy then shouldn't we view Islam as incompatible with what America stands for (or at least used to stand for)? Hitchens seems more interested in scoring points than telling us what we really need to do to save our political culture from destruction.

I mentioned his sinister belief that the United States was partially responsible for the assault on the World Trade Center and his refusal to take a position on the racist Hamas dictatorship in Gaza. The more one reads through his statements, the more alarming it gets. For example, here is Rauf's editorial on the upheaval that followed the brutal hijacking of the Iranian elections in 2009. Regarding President Obama, he advised that:

He should say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution—to establish a government that expresses the will of the people; a just government, based on the idea of Vilayet-i-faquih, that establishes the rule of law.

Coyly untranslated here (perhaps for "outreach" purposes), Vilayet-i-faquih is the special term promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to describe the idea that all of Iranian society is under the permanent stewardship (sometimes rendered as guardianship) of the mullahs. Under this dispensation, "the will of the people" is a meaningless expression, because "the people" are the wards and children of the clergy. It is the justification for a clerical supreme leader, whose rule is impervious to elections and who can pick and choose the candidates and, if it comes to that, the results.

The rule of law in this context is the rule of Islamic law. That's religious law, not secular law applied to people of all religions. I am opposed to a foreign religion that has a large body of religious law and a founder that was a military conqueror and political leader. I think anyone who values their freedom should be too.

Liberal commentators defending the Ground Zero Mosque are doing a lot of bonding with each other and reaffirmation of liberal secular faith by attacking the opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque. This issue has helped strengthen their commitment to national suicide. They still have unshaken faith in the universal appeal of liberalism. This delusion spells ruination for the West.

Andrew McCarthy argues that the split between moderate and radical Islamists is about timing and methodology, not eventual outcome.

The single purpose of this jihad is the imposition of sharia. On that score, Gingrich made two points of surpassing importance. First, some Islamists employ mass-murder attacks while others prefer a gradual march through our institutions — our legal, political, academic, and financial systems, as well as our broader culture; the goal of both, though, is the same. The stealth Islamists occasionally feign outrage at the terrorists, but their quarrel is over methodology and pace. Both camps covet the same outcome.

Second, that outcome is the death of freedom. In Islamist ideology, sharia is deemed to be the necessary precondition for Islamicizing a society — for Islam is not merely a religious doctrine, but a comprehensive socio-economic and political system. As the former speaker elaborated, sharia embodies principles and punishments that are abhorrent to Western values. Indeed, its foundational premise is anti-American, holding that we are not free people at liberty to govern ourselves irrespective of any theocratic code, that people are instead beholden to the Islamic state, which is divinely enjoined to impose Allah’s laws.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali warns of the West's universalist pretensions.

The West's universalist pretensions are increasingly bringing it into conflict with the other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China. Thus the survival of the West depends on Americans, Europeans and other Westerners reaffirming their shared civilization as unique—and uniting to defend it against challenges from non-Western civilizations.

The funny thing is that universalist pretensions of liberals are both used to justify US foreign interventions (to free people to all join the one liberal way) and to enable the demographic invasion on the United States. Invade the world, invite the world, as Steve Sailer puts it. I see the universalist pretensions of liberals as making the West defenseless. Liberals effectively deny that any conflicting and enduring value systems compete with our own values. They think as long as they stick to their principles it'll all come out well in the end.

Update Why Corboba House for the name of the Ground Zero Mosque? Cordoba is the name of the Spanish city where Muslims established the first Islamic Caliphate in the West. Cordoba is a symbol of Muslim conquest. Make no mistake: Muslims would love to conquer the West. Why should we let them in? Keep them out. They are our enemies.

Update II: Islam's useful idiots in the West are trying to pretty up its image. But the facts about Islam's effects upon human development are sad and tragic. See Fjordman's post Islam and the Decline of Greek Culture: A Critical Look at John Freely's Book “Aladdin’s Lamp”. Also see his post “The House of Wisdom” by Jonathan Lyons: A Brief Review by Fjordman and Fjordman: The Legend of the Middle Ages. Also see his Fjordman Essay: A Critical Look at The House of Wisdom by Jonathan Lyons.

By Randall Parker    2010 August 25 11:48 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (11)
2010 August 22 Sunday
China-US War Avoidable?

Can the next really big potential war be avoided?

Four years before World War I, British author and politician Norman Angell published "The Great Illusion," arguing that military conquests had become obsolete between modern economies. Many policy makers use the same logic today to predict that China and the United States can avoid war. Like their forebears, they may be wrong.

That's the implicit argument of University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer, who delivered the annual Michael Hintze Lecture at Sydney University this week. Politics, rather than economics, will decisively shape the future of Asia just as it did Europe in the previous century, he believes. China's ascent is likely to spark an intense security competition with the U.S., leading to the strong possibility of war between the world's two biggest economies.

One fear is that future generations of Chinese leaders will become far less cautious. Not mentioned in the article: The American people were foolish enough to elect George W. Bush followed by Barack Obama. One can only guess who they'll choose next.

Once Chinese power rivals and even surpasses that of the US we are going to need strategic calculators of Richard Nixon's level of ability. But my guess is that future Presidents will be chosen due to their ethnic loyalties as the country becomes more balkanized. Presidential candidate quality will probably decline.

So where to decamp to if you can foresee an inevitable war? Trying to get out of harm's way at the last minute will be difficult to do for all but the most wealthy. Better to move in advance. But to where? Canada's physically too close to the US. Australia might break from US alliance and become neutral. After all, immigration trends there will create a big Chinese-leaning faction and China will continue to buy large amounts of Australian natural resources. Maybe Eastern Europe will be the place to be. Or perhaps the most heavily German/Italian part of Brazil. That's where the hot models come from.

By Randall Parker    2010 August 22 08:18 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (12)
2010 August 13 Friday
Obama: Islam Has Always Been Part Of America

Mangan points to a most amazing speech by the space alien who we on this planet call Barack Obama.

But Ramadan is also a time of intense devotion and reflection – a time when Muslims fast during the day and pray during the night; when Muslims provide support to others to advance opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere. For all of us must remember that the world we want to build – and the changes that we want to make – must begin in our own hearts, and our own communities.

Muslims advancing opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere? How, pray tell, are they doing that? Very secretly? Has Obama received a classified national security briefing on this?

People on the Left make fun paranoids on the Right who think Obama wasn't born in America. But here's the thing: Obama does not talk like someone born and raised in America.

These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings. Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality. And here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country. And today, I want to extend my best wishes to the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world – and your families and friends – as you welcome the beginning of Ramadan.

What to say? Words fail me. Islam has always been part of America? Did Barack fall thru from a parallel universe? Is he like the Manchurian Candidate except he's the Mecca Candidate? The emperor has no clothes. The President of the United States is not fit to rule. He's loonier than Bush Jr, and that's a high bar to reach. Muslims have not always been part of America.

Do people on the Left uncritically accept when Obama says something so obviously crazy? Do they just nod their heads and say "oh, I didn't know it but it sounds nice so it must be true"? Are they thinking that Barack is speaking some larger cosmic truth because we are all, like, totally connected and that therefore Islam has always been part of us whether we knew of it or not?

Well, why don't we just bring up the first real American experience with Islam? That would be in the early years of the Republic when the Barbary Pirates were capturing American ships and turning Americans into slaves. At the time the US Marines were looking to fit "from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli" into their anthem. So they went over to the Barbary Coast and had a serious altercation with Muslim pirates. First the United States tried to negotiate.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then serving as American ambassadors to France and Britain, respectively, met in 1786 in London with the Tripolitan Ambassador to Britain, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. These future American presidents were attempting to negotiate a peace treaty which would spare the United States the ravages of jihad piracy—murder, enslavement (with ransoming for redemption), and expropriation of valuable commercial assets—emanating from the Barbary states (modern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, known collectively in Arabic as the Maghrib). During their discussions, they questioned Ambassador Adja as to the source of the unprovoked animus directed at the nascent United States republic. Jefferson and Adams, in their subsequent report to the Continental Congress, recorded the Tripolitan Ambassador’s justification:

… that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.

One naturally wonders whether Barack Obama finds verses from the Koran to be congenial to his thinking.

Sura 8 declares “Believers! Wage war against such of the infidels as are your neighbors, and let them find you rigorous; and know that God is with those who fear him.”

Sura 8 further tells Muslims “No prophet hath been able to take captives until he had made a great slaughter in the earth…Eat therefore of the spoils you have taken what is lawful and good.”

Sura 8 also makes it clear that Muslims are to be in a state of war with the rest of the world until they succeed in forcing all the nations to accept Islam:  “Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it God’s.”

In Sura 3 the Prophet warns of dire consequences for any Muslim who makes friends with an infidel: “Let not believers take infidels for their friends rather than believers; whoso shall do this hath nothing to hope from God.”  Suras 4 and 5 repeat this warning.

By Randall Parker    2010 August 13 10:08 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2010 August 12 Thursday
Polytheists And Islam

Jihad Watch points to an excerpt from the Koran that shows what Mohammed said should be done to polytheist non-believers who refuse to submit to Muslim rule and pay a special tax:

When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. . . . If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim, book 019, Number 4294)

This is an example of why I see Islam as incompatible with Western values. There's no relationship with Muslims as between equals. They want to make us subservient. Their religion tells them the natural relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is that between the ruler and the ruled.

Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf had this to say about the 9/11 attacks:

Rauf’s image may be moderate enough to have satisfied the Bush administration, but it is also true that he offered tough analysis following the 9/11 terrorist attacks that is now being used by some to question his allegiances. Just days after the attacks, Rauf said in a television interview that US policies in Muslim countries were “an accessory to the crime” and provided succor to radical Islam.

“In the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA,” he said.

One could argue, as Rauf does, that US involvement in the MIddle East angered Muslims enough to cause them to attack. But the US has intervened all over the world without similar consequences from other religions and cultures. What is different? Muslims are taught by their base text that they are warriors who should resist domination and instead dominate others. The United States is the biggest obstacle in the way of bin Laden's desire to spread Muslim rule. Bin Laden sees the proper relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims as Mohammed did. It is only natural that he should treat us as enemies.

By Randall Parker    2010 August 12 06:23 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (20)
2010 August 01 Sunday
Euro Muslims Going Off To Jihad

The New York Times reports on Muslims living in European countries who hear the calling to fight for their religion.

FRANKFURT — Before Abi left her parents’ house in northern Germany last year, she asked her father, “Daddy, what can I bring you from my journey?” He looked up from his book and answered, “Some perfumed oil.” “Will do,” she said, hugging him goodbye.

Abi and her husband decided to take a walk on the wild side and join up with the Mujahideen. Apparently many other European Muslims are doing the same.

He is still waiting, more than a year later, for her to return.

Abi, now 23, and her husband never made the trip they said they had planned to Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca and Medina. Instead they became part of a growing number of young Muslims from Germany and other European countries who travel to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, eventually ending up in the camps of groups affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Is this a problem? Islam's values are not compatible with Western values. Look at it on the bright side: Some Muslims are leaving Germany for good. European countries should encourage this sort of thing. Then make sure more do not arrive to take their place.

The article says that Muslims who return to Germany remain associated with "more militant Muslims". But Muslims see themselves as embracing a religion of peace. In their view if everyone submits to Islam then there'll be peace. So then are the Jihadists militants? Or are the Germans who refuse to submit to Islam the real militants? After all, if they would just submit then there'd be no reason for holy war. Seems like it is a value judgment to decide which is the right viewpoint. Did the New York Times reporter fail to respect the diverse values of Muslim holy warriors by calling them militants?

Mind you, I think the values of the Germans are superior to those of the Muslims. But then I do not pretend to embrace multi-culturalism or diversity clap-trap.

The French believe a nation is bound together by commonly held values.

Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told deputies that wearing a face-covering veil "amounted to being cut off from society and rejecting the very spirit of the French republic that is founded on a desire to live together."

"At a time where our societies are becoming more global and complex, the French people are pondering the future of their nation. Our responsibility is to show vigilance and reaffirm our commonly-shared values," she said.

I had been wondering whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden's right hand man Ayman al-Zawahri? Seems like he has become a one-hit wonder. But he's trying to get back into the game by coming to the defense of veil-wearing Muslim women in France.

In the 47-minute recording, Ayman al-Zawahri said the drive by France and other European nations to ban the veil amounted to discrimination against Muslim women.

"Every single woman who defends her veil is a holy warrior ... in the face of the secular Western crusade," he said.

My take: If Muslims in France want to wear the veil then the French government should pay for airplane tickets to allow those Muslims to move to a country where veil-wearing is accepted and even celebrated. Why should Muslims have to live oppressed among heathens when they can move to a country which is majority Muslim? Then the French should ban all Muslim immigration in order to protect Muslims from teh French veil ban. It is only fair.

Jihadists in America have been foiled so far. But for how long?

The Times Square plot marked the second time in less than six months that a local group whom it was believed lacked the capability to operate outside its traditional battleground had struck. On Christmas Day, a young Nigerian student acting at the behest of another close al-Qaeda ally, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), nearly succeeded in bringing down a Northwest Airlines flight in the skies over America. As a senior Obama administration official responsible for counterterrorism explained shortly afterward, “AQAP was looked upon as a lethal organization, but one focused [only] on the Arabian Peninsula. We thought they would attack our embassy in Yemen or Saudi Arabia” —and not in the United States. The Obama administration has now twice been caught either underestimating or dismissing the possibility that local terrorist groups may harbor grander international aspirations—that is, to attack in the United States itself as well as against overseas American targets. It was of course the Bush administration’s similar dismissal of al-Qaeda’s ability to strike at the United States in this country that led to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

By Randall Parker    2010 August 01 12:50 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
Muslim Feminist Supports Burqa Ban

Yes, I am aware that "Muslim Feminist" is a contradiction in terms. Ryan Brown of Salon interviews an Egyptian-born Muslim woman who supports a burqa ban in France. Note you can't be sure she really is still a Muslim because if she's not she'd be afraid to say so.

Ahead of parliament's vote on Tuesday, we went to Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-born journalist who calls herself "a liberal, a Muslim and a feminist," to better understand the argument for a ban.

Why do you support a ban on the burqa in France?

I support banning the burqa because I believe it equates piety with the disappearance of women. The closer you are to God, the less I see of you -- and I find that idea extremely dangerous. It comes from an ideology that basically wants to hide women away. What really strikes me is that a lot of people say that they support a woman's right to choose to wear a burqa because it's her natural right. But I often tell them that what they're doing is supporting an ideology that does not believe in a woman's right to do anything. We're talking about women who cannot travel alone, cannot drive, cannot even go into a hospital without a man with them. And yet there is basically one right that we are fighting for these women to have, and that is the right to cover their faces. To tell you the truth, I'm really outraged that people get into these huge fights and say that as a feminist you must support a women's right to do this, because it's basically the only kind of "right" that this ideology wants to give women. Otherwise they get nothing.

Eltahawy is upset that it is the Right rather than the Left that is pushing hardest to ban the burqa. She distrusts the Right's motives and think they do not really care about the rights of women.

I look at Islam in countries where Muslims are a majority and it is clear that Islam does not accept religious freedom. In some Muslim countries (e.g. Saudi Arabia) houses of worship for other religions isn't allowed at all. In other Muslim countries (e.g. Egypt) considerable regulatory obstacles to the construction of churches and other discrimination against Christians make their second class position clear. Muslims want equality for themselves in countries where they are a minority but superior position for themselves where they are a majority. So their arguments for religious freedom are mendacious. Islam is not compatible with Western values. We should not pretend it is.

By Randall Parker    2010 August 01 11:27 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2010 April 27 Tuesday
South Park Super Best Friends Without Muhammad

Ross Douthat says South Park's attempt at revisiting the "Super Best Friends" great religious figures as characters this time met with far more censorship by the Comedy Network. The Comedy Network has become more scared of Islam.

These gimmicks then prompted a writer for the New York-based Web site revolutionmuslim.com to predict that Parker and Stone would end up like Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker murdered in 2004 for his scathing critiques of Islam. The writer, an American convert to Islam named Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, didn’t technically threaten to kill them himself. His post, and the accompanying photo of van Gogh’s corpse, was just “a warning ... of what will likely happen to them.”

This passive-aggressive death threat provoked a swift response from Comedy Central. In last week’s follow-up episode, the prophet’s non-appearance appearances were censored, and every single reference to Muhammad was bleeped out. The historical record was quickly scrubbed as well: The original “Super Best Friends” episode is no longer available on the Internet.

If we are going to live in fear of an immigrant group then we should not let that group into the country. Shouldn't our right to freedom come before their right to repress us?

Cowering before Islam and even Western governments persecuting critics of Islam is far too common and pervasive.

In a way, the muzzling of “South Park” is no more disquieting than any other example of Western institutions’ cowering before the threat of Islamist violence. It’s no worse than the German opera house that temporarily suspended performances of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo” because it included a scene featuring Muhammad’s severed head. Or Random House’s decision to cancel the publication of a novel about the prophet’s third wife. Or Yale University Press’s refusal to publish the controversial Danish cartoons ... in a book about the Danish cartoon crisis. Or the fact that various Western journalists, intellectuals and politicians — the list includes Oriana Fallaci in Italy, Michel Houellebecq in France, Mark Steyn in Canada and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands — have been hauled before courts and “human rights” tribunals, in supposedly liberal societies, for daring to give offense to Islam.

I can understand the fear of network executives or publishing house editors. But for governments such as those in the Netherlands, Italy, France and Canada to actively prosecute and persecute critics of Islam is just a total moral outrage. Western governments should be on our side, not on the side of religiously motivated repression.

Islam is not compatible with our civilization. Islam is unique today in the extent of repression and intolerance we can expect from a sizable fraction of its believers.

By Randall Parker    2010 April 27 12:33 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (13)
2010 March 16 Tuesday
Muslim Libel Tourists To Sue Danish Cartoonists In UK?

Of course if the British courts can be used in this manner against Danes they can also be used against Brits.

A Saudi Arabian lawyer has threatened to use British courts to overturn a Danish free speech ruling by bringing a defamation case over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that depicted Islam's founder as a terrorist.

Faisal Yamani, a Jeddah based lawyer, is planning to take a case to London's libel courts on behalf of over 90,000 descendants of Mohammed who have claimed that the drawings have defamed them and the Islamic faith.

Blame the European Union. Or blame the various governments who foolishly signed up to an EU treaty that makes this sort of thing possible.

Danish politicians and publishers are furious that European Union rules reward "libel tourism" by enforcing British defamation rulings across Europe.

The people of the European Union countries need better speech protections in their national constitutions. They also need an end to Muslim immigration.

By Randall Parker    2010 March 16 10:34 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2010 March 07 Sunday
Hamas Son Converts To Christianity And Looks At Islam

Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, secretly converted to Christianity and became a secret agent for Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet. In a Wall Street Journal profile he makes a great point about the problem with Islam.

Do you consider your father a fanatic? "He's not a fanatic," says Mr. Yousef. "He's a very moderate, logical person. What matters is not whether my father is a fanatic or not, he's doing the will of a fanatic God. It doesn't matter if he's a terrorist or a traditional Muslim. At the end of the day a traditional Muslim is doing the will of a fanatic, fundamentalist, terrorist God. I know this is harsh to say. Most governments avoid this subject. They don't want to admit this is an ideological war.

"The problem is not in Muslims," he continues. "The problem is with their God. They need to be liberated from their God. He is their biggest enemy. It has been 1,400 years they have been lied to."

The problem with Islam is in the base texts. We do not have even more problems with Islam only because most Muslims are less than total in their embrace of Islam.

He has written a book: Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices.

By Randall Parker    2010 March 07 08:34 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2009 August 31 Monday
The Myth Of A Moderate Malaysia

Read Sadanand Dhume's article The Myth Of A Moderate Malaysia.

Over the past 30 years, encouraged by the government and influenced by the Middle East, Malaysia's growing prosperity has gone hand-in-hand with a heightened piety. But instead of making the country more humane, this has had the opposite effect. Friday's protest was part of a larger pattern. A 32-year-old Malaysian Muslim model, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, faces a sharia-prescribed caning, suspended at the moment on account of Ramadan, for the crime of drinking a beer. Muslims have been barred from a Black Eyed Peas concert next month sponsored by Guinness. Two years ago, a Muslim-born woman, Lina Joy, failed in her famous eight-year quest to convert to Christianity to marry the man that she loved. (Interfaith marriages are forbidden.) In another high-profile case, Revathi Masoosai, a practicing Hindu, was forcibly separated from her husband and infant daughter and sent to a religious re-education camp after it was discovered that technically she had been born a Muslim.

Modest proposal: The Philippines ought to let Lina Joy and her boyfriend immigrate.

Islam isn't compatible with other religions.

By Randall Parker    2009 August 31 09:07 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2009 August 18 Tuesday
Yale Press Chickens Out On Muslim Cartoons

How could a book entitled “The Cartoons That Shook The World” not show the actual cartoons?

So Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism, and the recommendation was unanimous: The book, “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005. What’s more, they suggested that the Yale press also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included, specifically, a drawing for a children’s book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Doré of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante’s “Inferno” that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dalí.

Yale Press surrenders.

“We do not negotiate with terrorists. We just accede to their anticipated demands’. That is effectively the new policy position at Yale University Press,” Cary Nelson, the president of the American Association of University Professors, wrote in an open letter.

Got to avoid that repeated pattern of violence.

“There is a repeated pattern of violence when these cartoons have been republished,” University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said in an interview. Indeed, while the 2005 violence was the most severe outbreak, there have been subsequent incidents related to the republication of the images as recently as June of last year. In total, about 200 people have been killed in incidents related to the cartoons.

“The homework for us here this summer,” Lorimer said, “was to ask people in positions who could give expert counsel whether there is still an appreciable chance of violence from publishing the cartoons.”

I think the repeated pattern of violence serves an important pedagogical function: It reminds people that Islam is incompatible with Western values.

Update So glad I do not live in Pakistan.

Paramilitary troops patrolled the streets of a town in eastern Pakistan yesterday after Muslim radicals burnt to death eight members of a Christian family, raising fears of violence spreading to other areas.

Hundreds of armed supporters of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Islamic militant group, set alight dozens of Christian homes in Gojra town at the weekend after allegations that a copy of the Koran had been defiled.

A few Muslims in Islington England recently demonstrated their strong feelings about burning hot literature. The West doesn't need this.

Three Muslim men who poured petrol through the letterbox of a publisher who they had heard was printing a controversial book about the Prophet Muhammed were today each jailed for four and a half years.

Ali Beheshti, Abrar Mirza and Abbas Taj planned to set fire to Gibson Square Books after discovering it was going to publish The Jewel of Medina, a book about the Prophet and his young wife.

By Randall Parker    2009 August 18 11:22 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2009 June 23 Tuesday
Sarkozy: Burqa "not welcome on French soil"

I admire the French for defending their own culture from a culture that is incompatible. If only America had a similar elite we'd be better off.

Paris - Leading Muslims and the media in France here have indicated general support of French president Nicolas Sarkozy's striking comments Monday that the burqa cover for Muslim women is "not welcome on French soil," though opinion is divided on whether the president's cultural stricture should be extended to an outright ban of the burqa for women.

On Tuesday, a diverse group of French lawmakers announced a six-month study to see if a ban is warranted on the black veil, known in the Gulf states as a niqab, and in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan as a burqa.

To the neocons who want me to believe the French are my enemies: to hell with you. Western nations would be a lot better off if they, like the French, treated their cultures as worth saving.

By Randall Parker    2009 June 23 11:18 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (11)
2009 April 06 Monday
Stand Firm For State-Sanctioned Killing Of Apostates

Razib published a message from the Muslim chaplain at Harvard, Taha Abdul-Basser, who basically seems to be arguing for only Muslim governments to kill apostates and not vigilantes. That's the kind of enlightened modern state-supporting reasoning I expect to hear coming out of Harvard.

There are a few places on the Net where one can find informed discussions of this issue (Search ["Abdul Hakim Murad"|Faraz Rabbani" AND "apostasy"]) . The preponderant position in all of the 4 sunni madhahib (and apparently others of the remaining eight according to one contemporary `alim) is that the verdict is capital punishment.

Of concern for us is that this can only occur in the_domain and under supervision of Muslim governmental authority and can not be performed by non-state, private actors._

Imagine the United States didn't let Muslims into the country. Then we wouldn't have a Muslim chaplain at Harvard who thinks Muslim governments should possess a monopoly of force for killing apostates.

Beware hegemonic human rights discourse. Do not feel uncomfortable in the face of it. Stand firm for 7th century desert tribe morality.

I would finally note that there is great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand. The formal consideration of excuses for the accused and the absence of Muslim governmental authority in our case here in the North/West is for dealing with the issue practically.

Says Razib:

Taha Abdul-Basser is a graduate of Harvard, so that must be how he learned phrases like “hegemonic modern human rights discourse.”

That is so cool. Abdul-Basser goes to Harvard and learns out to use Leftist speak in the service of an argument for killing those who fall away from Islam. That shows the advantage of international student bodies in American universities.

By Randall Parker    2009 April 06 10:58 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2009 February 23 Monday
Geert Wilders Speaks In Rome And Washington DC

After getting banned from Britain and faced with prosecution in the Netherlands for a film he made that is critical of Islam, Dutch MP Geert Wilders showed his film to some US lawmakers.

WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Jon Kyl is hosting a film screening at the Capitol building on Thursday for a far-right Dutch lawmaker who claims that Islam inspires terrorism.

Kyl is sponsoring the event for Geert Wilders, who was denied entry to London earlier this month because British authorities said he posed a threat to public order.

Newsweek is, er, ambivalent about Wilders and sees his highly critical film about Islam, Fitna, as "incendiary". Geez, you mean it burns down skyscrapers?

Here's a speech Wilders just gave in Rome. The government of the Netherlands is treating Wilders as a criminal.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would not qualify myself as a free man. Four and a half years ago I lost my freedom. Since then I am under 24-hour police protection. As if that is not enough, the most radical Dutch Imam claimed 55.000 euros in compensation for his hurt feelings because of ‘Fitna’. The State of Jordan is possibly going to issue a request for my extradition to stand trial in Amman. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal ordered my criminal prosecution for making ‘Fitna’ and for my political views on Islam. And last week the British government refused my entrance into the United Kingdom because me showing ‘Fitna’ in the British House of Lords at the invitation of a British parliamentarian would be a threat to British public security. This is the alarming state of freedom of speech in today’s Europe: Criticizing Islam has become a dangerous activity, criticizing Islam has apparently become a criminal act.

But as Wilders argues, his film Fitna is really presenting Islam as a substantial chunk of Muslims see it. So shouldn't they be prosecuted too?

You just saw ‘Fitna’. My name is on the credit roll, but like you have seen, ‘Fitna’ is actually not made by me, but is made by radical Muslims, the Koran and Islam itself. If ‘Fitna’ is considered to be hate speech, then what is the Koran? If I am considered to be a threat to public security, then what is Islam?

He sees the Dutch court that wants him prosecuted and the British government as useful idiots for Islam.

The Court’s decision and my ban by the British government are two major victories for Islam. Both institutions have sided with Islam. The first Soviet leader, Lenin, once labelled ignorant people that unknowingly aided his cause as ‘useful idiots’. Well, the Court and the British government are the ‘useful idiots’ of today, and I think they are even proud of it.

When Lord Ahmed, who organized opposition to keep Wilders out of Britain, learned that Salman Rushdie was to get a knighthood Ahmed accused Rushdie of having blood on his hands. If Ahmed is the moderate face of Islam then moderate Islam is incompatible with Western institutions and values.

In London, Lord Ahmed, Britain's first Muslim peer, said he had been appalled by the award to a man he accused of having 'blood on his hands'.

Think that Muslims who advocate terrorism are extremists and not part of Muslim governments? When Rushdie was given his knighthood the Pakistani religious affairs minister justified suicide bombing in response to Rushdie's knighthood.

As Pakistani MPs issued a demand for the award to be immediately withdrawn, the religious affairs minister, Mohammad Ejaz-ul-Haq, said: "The West always wonders about the root cause of terrorism. Such actions [giving Sir Salman a knighthood] are the root cause of it.

"If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honour of the Prophet Mohammad, his act is justified."

By Randall Parker    2009 February 23 06:16 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2009 February 10 Tuesday
British Government Chooses Appeasement And Bars Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch Parliament and creator of a movie critical of Islam called Fitna, has been banned from visiting Britain to appear at a viewing of his movie. The British government sees Wilders as a threat to community harmony.

Dear Mr Wilders

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Secretary of State is of the view that your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society. The Secretary of State is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK.

The British government sees Wilders as a threat to community harmony. Okay, suppose that is true. Why is that? Because the British government let into the country a group that is intolerant of criticism and which contains dangerous members who want to set up an Islamic state. The British government has decided to maintain harmony by appeasing these people. The British government has other choices here. It could deport people who are not willing to respect the right of others to criticise a hostile religion. Or it could vigorously enforce the law against Muslims in Britain who attempt to silence critics. But no, Britain has chosen appeasement.

Imagine that Wilders made a movie critical of Quakers. Would the British government fear Quaker reaction to the movie? Homie don't think so. If you have to keep someone out of your country because you have an ethnic group that gets violent about criticism this is nature's way of telling you to deport troublemakers until the trouble stops.

Derb says the British government puts placating Muslims ahead of a lot of other things.

Persons with incorrect opinions will not be admitted to the U.K., even if they are elected members of another nation's parliament. Nothing, nothing must be allowed if it gives offense to Muslims.

Melanie Phillips sees a double standard.

So let’s get this straight. The British government allows people to march through British streets screaming support for Hamas, it allows Hizb ut Tahrir to recruit on campus for the jihad against Britain and the west, it takes no action against a Muslim peer who threatens mass intimidation of Parliament, but it bans from the country a member of parliament of a European democracy who wishes to address the British Parliament on the threat to life and liberty in the west from religious fascism.

It is he, not them, who is considered a ‘serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society’. Why? Because the result of this stand for life and liberty against those who would destroy them might be an attack by violent thugs. The response is not to face down such a threat of violence but to capitulate to it instead.

The Dutch government isn't any better. Wilders is going to be prosecuted for making remarks against Islam.

The Amsterdam court has ruled that the Public Prosecutor's Office should after all prosecute the populist politician Geert Wilders for anti-Islamic remarks. The Public Prosecutor decided halfway through last year, after six months investigation, not to prosecute on the grounds that Mr Wilders had not committed a punishable offence either in remarks he made to the Volkskrant newspaper or in his controversial film Fitna.

Wilders says Islam is violent and that Mohammad was an extremist.

"Islam is a violent religion. If Mohammad lived here today I could imagine chasing him out of the country tarred and feathered as an extremist," Wilders said in an interview with De Pers daily last year.

By Randall Parker    2009 February 10 11:30 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2008 July 22 Tuesday
Hibernia Girl On Cousin Marriage And Veils

Hibernia Girl observes Muslim societies with higher rates of cousin marriage also have higher rates of requiring female head covering such as with the hijab and niqab. She sees these veils as an attempt to control female reproduction by preventing men from being attracted to women.

But what is the flow of causality in this relationship between head covering (and body covering) and cousin marriage? A man who is married to his cousin has daughters who are genetically closer to him than his daughters would be if he married a woman from a distant place. A man who is married to his cousin whose parents and grandparents were also cousins has even more in common with his sons and daughters. Does this genetic relatedness by itself cause men to seek to ensure their offspring will marry close relatives?

Or does the desire to marry cousins flow from the need for alliances in personal life and that need for alliances and loyalty cause men to exercise reproductive control over their offspring by covering up their daughters?

I also wonder about the connection between consanguineous marriage and Islam. My suspicion is that Islam provides a belief system that empowers men in Muslim societies to unite in defense of the customs that allow them to control female reproduction. This empowerment of men in this fashion retards political development in Muslim countries with high rate of cousin (consanguineous) marriage (and in that post you can find links to my old posts and writings of others on cousin marriage).

Cousin marriage is an enemy of Western liberal democracy and of our culture. I think we should want to keep the practice of cousin marriage out of the West and also to keep Islam out of the West as well. Hibernia Girl does not want Ireland to step centuries into the past.

Hijabs (and female circumcision) simply have no place in modern Ireland because we are simply no longer marrying our cousins on a regular basis and, therefore, are no longer interested in controlling the reproductive rights of our women so strongly. Sure, Da and Mammy will still want to have a say on who ye marry (or with whom ye mate), but those decisions are largely left up to the individual nowadays -- unless, that is, we want to step back several centuries into our past.

By Randall Parker    2008 July 22 10:25 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (12)
2008 June 29 Sunday
Algeria An Intellectual Battleground Between Islam And Secularism

The Algerian government is trying to reduce the Islamic content of what the Algerian schools teach.

ALGIERS — First, Abdel Malek Outas’s teachers taught him to write math equations in Arabic, and embrace Islam and the Arab world. Then they told him to write in Latin letters that are no longer branded unpatriotic, and open his mind to the West.

Malek is 19, and he is confused.

“When we were in middle school we studied only in Arabic,” he said. “When we went to high school, they changed the program, and a lot is in French. Sometimes, we don’t even understand what we are writing.”

But unlike confused teenagers in Western countries (at least non-Muslim teens in Western countries) Malek flirted with terrorism. Suppose some of these confused kids come into Western countries. Then our security services get to play a game of "how to identify and stop the terrorists". One hopes they play this game well. But better to keep out these confused kids in the first place.

The confusion has bled off the pages of his math book and deep into his life. One moment, he is rapping; another, he recounts how he flirted with terrorism, agreeing two years ago to go with a recruiter to kill apostates in the name of jihad.

Why feel confused when a Jihadist recruiter will tell you Islam has all the answers and that your life would have huge meaning and you could get lots of beautiful and virginal rewards in heaven? Harnessing the sex drive of teenagers toward killing enemies by offering lots of sex makes Islam quite the innovative 7th century religion. It sells a pretty unique product even today.

The government is trying to make the school curriculum less based around rote memorization and more oriented toward teaching critical thinking. Islamic teachers prefer rote memorization where people are taught to obey and accept what they are taught. But this teaching of critical thinking only has a chance with the children who are smart enough and curious enough to learn to think for themselves.

Now the government is urgently trying to re-engineer Algerian identity, changing the curriculum to wrest momentum from the Islamists, provide its youth with more employable skills, and combat the terrorism it fears schools have inadvertently encouraged.

It appears to be the most ambitious attempt in the region to change a school system to make its students less vulnerable to religious extremism.

The disenchanted young men are dropping out of schools? Suppose we administered IQ tests to the kids who drop out and the kids who graduate. Do you think we'd find any other difference besides disenchantment?

But many educators are resisting the changes, and many disenchanted young men are dropping out of schools.

The article offers interesting glimpses of the competing forces at work in Algeria. Fatiha Yomsi, a female advisor to the minister of education, comments she is "targeted for death". Algerians worry that the Muslim terrorism might start back up again. So glad I'm not there. Unless secularism clearly wins out I think we should minimize the number of Algerians that can come and live in the West for any significant length of time.

By Randall Parker    2008 June 29 04:46 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2008 May 07 Wednesday
German Government More Opposed To Scientology Than Islam

The German government is downright stupid.

Whatever you think about Scientology, you have to wonder about the Church's treatment by the German state.

In December, Germany's interior ministers said they considered the religion to be "not compatible with the constitution." Yesterday, an AP story reported that the German Scientologists have dropped a legal battle to keep the country's intelligence services from monitoring its activities. What is Germany so afraid of?

German officials have categorized Scientology as a business, not a religion, and tax accordingly. Scientology has responded by complaining about "religious discrimination."

The German government has a much easier time opposing Scientology that Islam because Germany has orders of magnitude more Muslims than Scientologists inside its borders and the Scientologists do not control governments of trading partners. But if the German government wanted to look out for the interests of the German people it would focus much more on reducing the Muslim presence and put less effort into the much smaller threat from Scientology.

By Randall Parker    2008 May 07 11:09 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (20)
2008 May 04 Sunday
Yemen Freed USS Cole Attackers

With US attention focused on insurgencies in Iraq Yemen has let go all the people involved in the attack on the USS Cole.

ADEN, Yemen -- Almost eight years after al-Qaeda nearly sank the USS Cole with an explosives-stuffed motorboat, killing 17 sailors, all the defendants convicted in the attack have escaped from prison or been freed by Yemeni officials.

Jamal al-Badawi, a Yemeni who helped organize the plot to bomb the Cole as it refueled in this Yemeni port on Oct. 12, 2000, has broken out of prison twice. He was recaptured both times, but then secretly released by the government last fall. Yemeni authorities jailed him again after receiving complaints from Washington. But U.S. officials have so little faith that he's still in his cell that they have demanded the right to perform random inspections.

I bet the US government issues visas to Yemenis who want to visit or go to school in the US and that we even get some Yemeni immigrants.

Part of the blame probably belongs on the Bush Administration for not maintaining pressure on our enemy the government of Yemen.

"During the first part of the Bush administration, no one was willing to take ownership of this," said Roger W. Cressey, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations who helped oversee the White House's response to the Cole attack. "It didn't happen on their watch. It was the forgotten attack."

The Bush Administration couldn't even maintain enough forces to hunt down Al Qaeda stragglers in Afghanistan. Iraq beckoned after all.

We should keep Muslims out of the West. We should also very aggressively go after terrorist groups that attack us.

Update: In the comments Brent Lane points to a US government web page which shows 70 Yemenis won US visas through our mind bogglingly foolish diversity lottery. So did 4392 Egyptians. Wonder if any of Mohammed Atta's relatives or friends were among the lucky winners. More Yemenis than Finns came up winners. Can someone explain how this isn't just an incredibly stupid idea for a policy?

By Randall Parker    2008 May 04 02:57 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2008 April 13 Sunday
Rise Of China To Kill Political Correctness In West?

Writing for the Daily Mail Anthony Browne predicts the rise of China will shift the West rightward and kill off political correctness.

But Western attitudes will change as well, with a likely shift to the political Right. White liberal guilt, the driving force behind political correctness, will subside as Westerners feel threatened by the global order changing, and their supremacy slipping away.

Anti-Americanism will disappear as Europeans realise how much better it was to have a world super power that was a democracy (however flawed) not a dictatorship.

There is even speculation that the intense economic pressure on countries such as Britain will cause them to trim down their bloated welfare state, simply because it will no longer be affordable at present levels.

Western attitudes of superiority to China and the rest of the East will also subside, as Westerners realise they are no longer the masters of the world.

The relative status of Westerners will decline vis a vis Chinese people. The Chinese will change the status games. Westerners won't be able to imagine that they are the only causes of what goes right or wrong with the world. It is unfortunate that we need to face something akin to the decline of the West to make people more realistic.

By Randall Parker    2008 April 13 12:31 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (20)
2008 March 30 Sunday
Muslims On The Rise In Russia

Writing in a blog on the Foreign Policy web site Henry Bowles sees the rising Muslim population more in terms of bad nationalists getting mad about it rather than Russians getting shafted by a growing hostile and culturally and religiously incompatible population.

Ready for Russia's very own Oriana Fallacis and Jean LePens? If population trends continue at the current rate, Muslims could outnumber ethnic Russians in 30 years, al-Jazeera reports. More Russians are dying each year than being born, due in large measure to the popularity of abortion (Russian women had almost 13 abortions for every 10 live births in 2003), alcohol, and suicide.

It matters less to Bowles that Russians might end up living as Dhimmis subservient to Muslim rule under Sharia law. No, what is important to Bowles is to pose as morally superior to Oriana Fallaci and Jean LePen. This is very white of him. An opportunity to signal one's higher status vis a vis other whites presents itself. Gotta jump at that chance and look down on the white red necks.

If Russians want to prevent becoming a minority under Muslim rule then Bowles thinks they are engaging in hysteria and sees Russian nationalists as "the usual suspects".

Predictably, the usual suspects are speaking up:

Many ethnic Russians are terrified at the prospect of becoming a minority in their own country. Alexander Belov, from the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, said: "History is a fight between races and religions. "It's the law of nature ... people are used to being with people like themselves, speaking the language their mothers taught them.”

We’ve recently seen domestic politics polarized by nativist hysteria in France, Denmark, the Netherlands, and elsewhere in Western Europe. But at least this is occurring within democratic systems with moderate political parties and strong protections for minority rights, where the extreme right can only do so much damage. It won't be that way in increasingly autocratic Russia, however, where there aren't established moderating forces in civil society.

The reactions of European and American elites to the problems posed by Muslim immigration demonstrate one reason why we can't allow that immigration to happen in the first place. The elites will see the resulting problems as caused by the ignorance and lack of submission of the existing inferior lower classes. You get blamed. You get searched in airports. You get blamed. You get forced to make accommodations. You get blamed. You get condescended to.

Update: One point that Foreign Policy might want to address if they wanted to be serious about Russia's demographic problems: How would the security of the United States be harmed the large Russian nuclear weapons arsenal came under Muslim control 50 years from now?

Update II: I say that we can't trust our elites. Some might think I'm being a fringe kook to talk like that. But Dutch businesses are threatening to sue Geert Wilders for damages should Muslim nations boycott the Netherlands in response to this film.

Dutch businesses Saturday threatened to sue far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders if his anti-Islam film led to a commercial boycott, as several more Muslim countries condemned it.

"I don't know if Wilders is rich, or well-insured, but in the case of a boycott, we would look to see if we could make him bear responsibility," Bernard Wientjes, chairman of the Dutch employers' organisation VNO-NCW, told the newspaper Het Financieel Dagblad.

So they see their profits as more important than our right to free speech. You get forced to make accommodations to immigrants who don't want you to be free. If you don't do this and sales suffer then you get blamed.

By Randall Parker    2008 March 30 05:27 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (14)
Omar Bakri: Fitna Looks Like Mujahideen Film

While the Muslim countries protest Dutch politician Geert Wilders' film Fitna one Muslim radical cleric points out that Fitna interprets the Koran in a way that agrees with his understanding of that text. (scroll down to watch Fitna)

Iran called the film part of a "vendetta" against Islam. Several hundred people took to the street in Pakistan and the government summoned the Dutch ambassador. Muslim Bangladesh said the film could have "grave consequences", while the Indonesian government called it "racist" and "an insult to Islam", yet called for calm.

Omar Bakri, the Libyan-based radical Muslim cleric who is barred from Britain, did not think the film was very offensive. "On the contrary, if we leave out the first images and the sound of the page being torn, it could be a film by the [Islamist] Mujahideen," he said. [...]

Says Robert Spencer At Jihad Watch:

The formerly UK-based jihadist hits the nail on the head: for all the rage from Muslims about how Fitna "links Islam with violence," that link has already been made by the jihadists, who never aroused any significant rage among their peaceful brethren. The jihadists quote Qur'an to justify their actions -- it wasn't Geert Wilders who had to go hunting in the Qur'an for verses that matched those actions.

The offense then is that a non-Muslim drew the connection between the words in the Koran and what Muslims do today. For the Jihadists and their tens of millions (at least) Muslim fans and supporters the connection that Geert Wilders draws between the Koran's text and the terrorists is already obvious. Yet the operators of LiveLeak.com received so many death threats from Muslims they dropped Wilders' film from their site. The reason for the threats about Fitna is simple enough: The film is a call to action aimed at non-Muslims. Whereas the Jihadists want the non-Muslims to meekly submit to dhimmitude as second class citizens under Muslim rule. Some European politicians are eager to comply. As Steve Sailer points out, the severe criticism that the European elite aimed at Pym Fortuyn got Fortuyn killed by a leftist sympathizer of Muslims.

That also reminds me that, unlike all the respectable voices, I've always been even more upset by the murder of Pym Fortuyn, a potential Prime Minister of the Netherlands, in 2002 than by the murder of Theo van Gogh in 2004. The van Gogh murder was the obvious result of letting a whole bunch of Muslims into the country, a problem that can be solved (granted, at vast expense) by paying them to leave and other sensible reforms. The only solution to the West's Muslim problem is to disconnect.

But Fortuyn's assassination was carried out by a well-educated Dutch-born white leftist the day after the climax of the "Two-Week Hate" against immigration-restrictionists that swept Europe when Le Pen won a spot in the French Presidential final. When Fortuyn was murdered, respectable voices across Europe opined that Fortuyn more or less had it coming. The European Establishment excused themselves from any responsibility by blaming it all on animal rights craziness.

Here is the 10 minute movie Submission that got Theo van Gogh killed and forced Ayaan Hirsi Ali into hiding.

Many members of Europe's elite want to silence the critics of Islam.

Following the assassination of van Gogh, the Minister of Justice of the Netherlands, Piet-Hein Donner, proposed to reinstate blasphemy as a criminal offence. In the United Kingdom Islamophilia runs amok. The July 7 bombings, which killed 55 people, seem to have reinforced the taboo on criticism of Islam. The London police chief, Ian Blair (Tony’s parrot, though unrelated), said the bombings could not be qualified as “islamic terror” because “Islam and terrorism do not go together.” Politicians and opinion makers assure us that Islam does not condone terror and that we must support the “beleaguered” Muslim community. With every act of terrorism the press becomes more friendly towards Islam. The Guardian has virtually become al-Guardian.

Here is part1 of the Fitna movie by Geert Wilders:

Here is part 2 of the Fitna movie by Geert Wilders:

A buy-out option to pay Muslims to leave Europe would enable people like Geert Wilders to once again walk the streets of Amsterdam.

By Randall Parker    2008 March 30 01:13 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2008 March 29 Saturday
Geert Wilders Fitna Movie On YouTube

Lots of people have posted the Geert Wilders Fitna Movie about Islam on YouTube. Here it is in 2 parts.

Here is the second part of Fitna.

Here is the first part of an interview of Wilders.

Here is the second part of the Wilders interview.

Some people claim that since only a very small fraction of Muslims are terrorists that Wilders and other severe critics of Islam are unfair. But this defense of Islam by non-Muslims is based on the false assumption that the only Muslim threat comes in the form of terrorism. In Western nations where Muslim minorities have become substantial the Muslims show an increasing desire to force non-Muslims to live according to Muslim laws and customs.

The poll of 1,000 Muslims, weighted to represent the population across the UK, found that a growing minority of youngsters felt they had less in common with non-Muslims than their parents did.

While only 17 per cent of over-55s said they would prefer to live under Sharia law, that increased to 37 per cent of those aged 16 to 24.

Muslims create parallel societies and attempt to force other Muslims and non-Muslims to live according to Muslim rules. The support for Sharia law is incompatible with a free society.

The survey of more than 1,000 Muslims from different age groups in the UK, found:

  • 71% of over-55s compared with 62% of 16 to 24-year-olds feel they have as much, if not more, in common with non-Muslims in Britain than with Muslims abroad
  • 19% of over-55s compared with 37% of 16 to 24-year-olds would prefer to send their children to Islamic state schools
  • 17% of over-55s compared with 37% of 16 to 24-year-olds would prefer living under Sharia law than British law
  • 28% of over-55s compared with 74% of 16 to 24-year-olds prefer Muslim women to choose to wear the hijab
  • 3% of over-55s compared with 13% of 16 to 24-year-olds admire organisations like al-Qaeda that are prepared to fight the West

A fifth of British Muslims have sympathy with the London 7/7 bombers that killed many on buses and a train.

Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country, a survey reveals today.

The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.

The Muslim doctors arrested for the UK airport bombing attack show that education and status are not an assurance that Muslims will refrain from terrorism. In fact, the Muslim terrorists tend to be more educated and from more affluent families.

Wikileaks has the Fitna movie too.

By Randall Parker    2008 March 29 02:42 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2008 March 27 Thursday
Geert Wilders Movie Fitna About Koran Released

Dutch movie maker and critic of Islam has ignored the Muslim death threats and pressure from appeasers in the Netherlands government and has released his new 15 minute move about Islam. Time to watch it. (update: this address now shows a video explaining how the LiveLeak.com people are afraid to keep the video on their site)

Islam is not compatible with free Western societies. Islam's beliefs clash with and can not be reconciled with our beliefs. We can best protect ourselves from Islam by keeping Muslims out of the West.

Update: As you can see if you click on that link above, LiveLeak.com chickened out about showing this movie due to many death threats from extremely intolerant Muslims.

So I went looking for other sources of this movie. The fitnathemovie.info site no longer responds. The site reports

This site has been suspended while Network Solutions is investigating whether the site's content is in violation of the Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy. Network Solutions has received a number of complaints regarding this site that are under investigation. For more information about Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy visit the following URL: http://www.networksolutions.com/legal/aup.jsp

Investigating? They chickened out too.

Here is the Geert Wilders Fitna movie on Google (and let me know if it ceases to work):

Post in the comments if you find places where it can be watched. The number of sites that have chickened out about this movie should serve as a warning of a threat that we face. Wake up. Appreciate the Muslim threat to your freedoms.

The reactions of so many web hosting sites to this movie brings to mind Patrick Henry's Give me Liberty, or give me Death! speech of March 23, 1775 to the Virginia House of Burgesses. I've long though that he should have uttered "Give me Liberty or I'll kill you" as it captures a more useful and productive reaction. But the mood of our times seems to be more along the lines of "Give me liberty. But if you are a non-European fanatic then as a European I am morally inferior and want to appease you".

Another way to find Fitna: Here is a YouTube search on Geert Wilders.

By Randall Parker    2008 March 27 09:50 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (15)
2008 February 07 Thursday
Archbishop of Canterbury Supports Sharia Law For British Muslims

The Archbishop of Canterbury should be stripped of his British citizenship and deported along with British Sharia supporters.

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable".

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

If you want to maintain social cohesion then don't let in incompatible cultures and religions. If you think that the potential exists for such disloyalty that parallel legal systems even come under consideration then you have a very deep problem that must be solved at its roots. A parallel legal system is just a step on the road toward deeper divisions and greater segregation into parallel societies in the same physical territory. Why inflict that upon yourselves unless you are a sadist or a masochist?

There's another way to avoid the conflict between cultural loyalty and state loyalty: Deport the foreign culture.

Balkanization leads to civil war. Lebanon is once again skirting the edges of possible civil war. Britain can become another Lebanon or perhaps a Kosovo. Or Britain can expel the incompatible religion and culture.

Not all cultures are mutually compatible. Not all religions are compatible. Loyalty to a culture can and does often mean disloyalty to the larger society. Why live in a society so divided and distrustful? Why let your country become divided up into separate incompatible cultures?

By Randall Parker    2008 February 07 07:54 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (21)
2007 December 10 Monday
Ayaan Hirsi Ali Sees Western Cowards Toward Islam

A Der Spiegel profile of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somalian immigrant to the Netherlands who is targeted for death by Muslim fundamentalists, includes some great comments by Hirsi Ali.

Her attacks drew criticism from Islamic fundamentalists as well as leftist Western intellectuals, who accused Hirsi Ali of discriminating against, offending and stirring up resentment among Muslims across the board. Her critics said her demands amounted to nothing less than a demand for Muslim immigrants to renounce their religion.

She's discovered, she now says, that even those who claim to be fighting outdated dogmas are quick to impose their restrictions on thought. From public life she's learned that minorities should not be rebuked; that there are also racists among non-whites; and that "tolerance of the intolerant is nothing but cowardice."

Respect for cultures of Muslim immigrants amounts to disrespect for individual rights.

Hirsi Ali admits her behavior could be seen as provocative. But, she adds, there was no doubt the Dutch had turned a blind eye to the horrors some of their Muslim neighbors were inflicting on their wives and daughters. "Teachers, the authorities, politicians and even the media looked the other way when girls didn't return to school after the summer vacation, because they had been married off in Morocco in the meantime." All the talk about respect for the identity of immigrants and their culture, Hirsi Ali says, is "nothing but thoughtlessness, laziness and fear of openly addressing human rights violations."

As Lawrence Auster noted a couple of months ago, Hirsi Ali has thought her way out of the box of conventional thinking that still held her back from advocating effective and sufficient policies for dealing with Islam. She's no longer in the elite crowd that defends the conventional wisdom that the problem with Islam is some small number of radicals who have hijacked it. She's not even in the smaller crowd that holds Islam is the problem but that we are basically helpless to do nothing but wring our hands and talk about it.

She gave a great interview to the libertarian Reason magazine. Hirsi Ali pretty much advocates forcing Islam to submit to the West rather than vice versa.

Reason: Here in the United States, you’d advocate the abolition of—

Hirsi Ali: All Muslim schools. Close them down. Yeah, that sounds absolutist. I think 10 years ago things were different, but now the jihadi genie is out of the bottle. I’ve been saying this in Australia and in the U.K. and so on, and I get exactly the same arguments: The Constitution doesn’t allow it. But we need to ask where these constitutions came from to start with—what’s the history of Article 23 in the Netherlands, for instance? There were no Muslim schools when the constitution was written. There were no jihadists. They had no idea.

Reason: Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights—documents from more than 200 ago—ought to change?

Hirsi Ali: They’re not infallible. These Western constitutions are products of the Enlightenment. They’re products of reason, and reason dictates that you can only progress when you can analyze the circumstances and act accordingly. So now that we live under different conditions, the threat is different. Constitutions can be adapted, and they are, sometimes. The American Constitution has been amended a number of times. With the Dutch Constitution, I think the latest adaptation was in 1989. Constitutions are not like the Koran—nonnegotiable, never-changing.

Look, in a democracy, it’s like this: I suggest, “Let’s close Muslim schools.” You say, “No, we can’t do it.” The problem that I’m pointing out to you gets bigger and bigger. Then you say, “OK, let’s somehow discourage them,” and still the problem keeps on growing, and in another few years it gets so bad that I belatedly get what I wanted in the first place.

I respect that it needs to happen this way, but there’s a price for the fact that you and I didn’t share these insights earlier, and the longer we wait, the higher the price. In itself the whole process is not a bad thing. People and communities and societies learn through experience. The drawback is, in this case, that “let’s learn from experience” means other people’s lives will be taken.

I love how she's figured out that constitutions aren't supposed to be suicide pacts.

By Randall Parker    2007 December 10 10:16 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2007 November 29 Thursday
Just An Average Night Of Car Burnings In France

At Newsweek Tracy McNicoll says the latest round of Muslim riots (not that she uses the "M" word) are no big deal because 138 cars burned in one night is pretty close to average.

Early this morning, global audiences may have read wire reports lamenting a “third night of rioting.” But that is misleading. Indeed, the same police union spokesman who early Tuesday fed headlines by deploring rioters’ “urban guerilla”-style use of firearms said today that “nothing too nasty” happened last night and that no new shots were fired. That 138 cars were burned across France last night is actually nothing extraordinary--that’s about the average for any night. Violence may flare-up again when the teens killed in Sunday’s collision are buried. Or even before that. Or after. But the media covering the riots have the same responsibility police peppered with buckshot do--to keep the violence in perspective.

We don't need to see this as a new step in the decline of a civilization because the current rate of destruction of property by hostile Arab and African Muslims in France is already pretty high. No need to think things are getting worse. So things are great. This is how civilizations decay. Rationalizations.

To maintain a high quality civilization requires an attitude similar to that brought to maintaining a high quality industrial process: zero tolerance of decay. Whatever happened to Western societies that so disabled their ability to hold others to a high standard?

By Randall Parker    2007 November 29 11:03 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2007 November 26 Monday
British Teacher In Sudan Faces 40 Lashes For Teddy Bear Named Mohammed

20 of 23 Sudanese 7 year olds voted to name a teddy bear Mohammed. Oops. Now the British lady who taught them is in jail and the school has been shut down.

A British primary school teacher in Sudan is facing 40 lashes and up to six months in prison after allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear after the prophet Mohammed.

Colleagues of Gillian Gibbons, 54, claim she made an "innocent mistake" by allowing the class of seven year-olds to choose the name. But she has been accused of insulting Islam’s holiest prophet, arrested and imprisoned.

Her mistake was to live and work in a society where you get jailed and whipped for allowing something to happen that some people consider an insult to ther religion. The article reports an angry crowd has gathered. I hope the crowd doesn't storm the jail and deliver vigilante justice Muslim style.

If charged and found guilty of blasphemy she faces punishment under Sharia law.

The moral of this story? Don't live among Muslim savages. Stay away from them. They are a threat to liberties that you take for granted.

Brits who don't seem to get that Muslims are a threat to them are not paying attention:

Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country, a survey reveals today.

The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.

Overall, the findings depict a Muslim community becoming more radical and feeling more alienated from mainstream society, even though 91 per cent still say they feel loyal to Britain.

These poll results and others like them are nature's way of telling Westerners not to allow in large numbers of Muslim immigrants.

By Randall Parker    2007 November 26 10:46 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2007 November 20 Tuesday
Egyptians Not Allowed To Be Bahai Or Convert From Islam

I found the Human Rights Watch - Middle East and Northern Africa page (i.e. all the nasty things Muslim governments do) and it has lots of articles about how Muslim societies are not fun for non-Muslims. Egyptians are only allowed to register as Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. Baha’is officially don't exist in Egypt because in orthodox Islam only followers of Abrahamic religions which preceded Islam are "people of the book" worthy of dhimmi status (and dhimmi status is second class citizenship at best).

(Cairo, November 12, 2007) – Egypt should allow all citizens to use their actual religious identity when required to list religion on government documents, Human Rights Watch and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said today. The government’s discriminatory practice of restricting identity to three religions, directed at Baha’is and preventing converts from Islam from listing their true belief, violate many rights and cause immense hardship.

In their 98-page report, “Prohibited Identities: State Interference with Religious Freedom,” Human Rights Watch and the EIPR document how Ministry of Interior officials systematically prevent Baha’is and converts from Islam from registering their actual religious belief in national identity documents, birth certificates, and other essential papers. They do this based not on any Egyptian law, but on their interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. This denial can have far-reaching consequences for the daily lives of those affected, including choosing a spouse, educating one’s children, or conducting the most basic financial and other transactions.

“Interior Ministry officials apparently believe they have the right to choose someone’s religion when they don’t like the religion that person chooses,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. “The government should end its arbitrary refusal to recognize some people’s religious beliefs. This policy strikes at the core of a person’s identity, and its practical consequences seriously harm their daily lives.”

The Egyptian government also does not allow Muslims who convert to Christianity to change their identity card religion. But at least they recognize Jews and Christians. Does the Egyptian government allow Zoroastrians to register?

In theory the Koran in 22:17 gives Zoroastrians some standing by referring to the Zoroastrians of the Magian Zoroastrian sect.

022.017 YUSUFALI: Those who believe (in the Qur'an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians, Christians, Magians, and Polytheists,- Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment: for Allah is witness of all things.
PICKTHAL: Lo! those who believe (this revelation), and those who are Jews, and the Sabaeans and the Christians and the Magians and the idolaters - Lo! Allah will decide between them on the Day of Resurrection. Lo! Allah is Witness over all things.
SHAKIR: Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associate (others with Allah)-- surely Allah will decide between them on the day of resurrection; surely Allah is a witness over all things.

So are you allowed to be a Zoroastrian in Egypt? Or are Zoroastrians not allowed to exist there?

The Koran puts Christians and Jews in a submissive position as At-Tawba 29 (9:29) shows with a requirement to pay a special Jizya tax.

YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

That tax probably played a big role in reducing the numbers of Christians and Jews in lands which Muslims conquered. First, the tax was an incentive to convert to Islam. Conversion ended the tax. Second, the tax reduced the amount of money available for food and housing and therefore reduced surviving offspring in an era when calorie malnutrition was the biggest killer.

If Egyptians are allowed to be Jews then they have an advantage over Jordanians...

By Randall Parker    2007 November 20 10:29 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
Saudi Woman To Get 200 Lashes For Getting Raped

In Saudi Arabia gang rapists get 6 to 9 years while a woman victim gets 200 lashes and 6 months in jail.

SAUDI Arabia yesterday defended a court's decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes.

The 19-year-old Shiite woman and an unrelated male companion were abducted and raped by seven men in 2006.

Ruling according to Saudi Arabia's strict reading of Islamic law, a court originally sentenced the woman to 90 lashes and the rapists to jail terms of between ten months and five years. It blamed the woman for being alone with an unrelated man.

But last week, the Supreme Judicial Council increased the sentence on the woman to 200 lashes and six months in prison and ordered the rapists to serve between two and nine years in jail.

We buy oil from this Islamic theocracy. This is the country where the bulk of the 9/11 attackers came from.

If I understand this correctly, the men originally had sentences half as long as the 6 to 9 years!

In its decision doubling her sentence last week, the Saudi General Court also roughly doubled prison sentences for the seven men convicted of raping her, Saudi media said.

Another report (the one below) put the original sentences for the rapists at 1 to 5 years.

She's being punished for trying to complain to the public about her original sentence.

The court also harassed her lawyer, banning him from the case and confiscating his professional license.

An official at the General Court of Qatif, which handed down the sentence on November 14, said the court had increased the woman's sentence because of "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media." The court sentenced the rape victim to six months in prison and 200 lashes, more than double its October 2006 sentence after its earlier verdict was reviewed by Saudi Arabia's highest court, the Supreme Council of the Judiciary.

She says the judges were insulting and took a dim view of her daring to leave her house by herself.

"At the first session, [the judges] said to me, 'what kind of relationship did you have with this individual? Why did you leave the house? Do you know these men?' They asked me to describe the situation. They used to yell at me. They were insulting. The judge refused to allow my husband in the room with me. One judge told me I was a liar because I didn't remember the dates well. They kept saying, 'Why did you leave the house? Why didn't you tell your husband [where you were going]?'"

We really should keep Islam out of the West. We should also try much harder to develop substitutes for oil.

Update: A Saudi court forced a married couple to divorce for tribal reasons.

(New York, July 17, 2007) – After a Saudi court forced a married couple to divorce in response to a lawsuit brought by the wife’s brothers, officials placed the woman and her young son in detention and are threatening to detain her husband, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch called on the Saudi authorities to unconditionally release Fatima `Azzaz and her son, and to end the harassment of her husband, Mansur Timani.

In August 2005, a court in the northern city of Juf forcibly divorced the lawfully married couple in absentia. The court ruled that Timani’s tribal lineage was socially inadequate for him to marry `Azzaz, essentially declaring that the marriage could harm the reputation of `Azzaz’s family since Timani is of a lower social class. The Riyadh Court of Appeals in January upheld the verdict, ending judicial appeals. Human Rights Watch called on King Abdullah to refer the case to the Supreme Council for the Judiciary to correct the unjust decision.

Is this sort of ruling based on Islam? Or just on tribal practices?

By Randall Parker    2007 November 20 09:29 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (14)
2007 November 10 Saturday
Christian Conservative Leaders Critical Of Islam

Gary Bauer wants to make Islamofascism into a political issue in the 2008 election.

'The war against Islamofascism is in many respects a 'values issue,''' Bauer wrote. ''That may seem like an odd statement at first glance, but, as I have often said, losing Western Civilization to this vicious enemy would be immoral.''

I'm disappointed that Gary Bauer would use the term "Islamofascism". Islam predates Fascism by over a thousand years. Islam doesn't need concatenation with a 20th century political ideology in order to be properly understood. In fact, attempts to equate a branch of Islam with fascist confuses the issue. The term "Islamofascism" tends to imply something other than Islam itself is the cause of terrorism and the clash of civilizations. That conclusion seems dubious to me. The Jihadists are Muslim fundamentalists. They seek to resurrect the use of all the tactics which Muhammad used in his initial spread of Islam. They are textual literalists.

Some Christian conservatives do see at least a portion of Islam as an enemy of Christianity.

'From one perspective, branding ''radical Islam'' as a family values issue is yet another example of the broadening of the evangelical agenda. But next November, it also could energize one of the Republican Party's key voting blocs, much like anti-gay marriage measures did in 2004.

''It's the ultimate life issue,'' said Rick Scarborough, president of the Texas-based conservative Christian group Vision America. ''If radical Islam succeeds in its ultimate goals, Christianity ceases to exist.''

Note the term "radical Islam". How about "fundamentalist Islam"? Aren't the Jihadists really returning to the roots of Islam where it was spread by military force?

But regardless of how they label the (mostly demographic) threat from Islam what do the Christian conservatives propose to actually do about it? This article mentions nothing constructive coming from them.

So what kind of solutions do Christian conservative leaders propose for battling what they see as a real threat?

One is staying in Iraq. More than 40 conservative leaders, most of them social conservatives, signed a declaration in September warning against the "catastrophic" consequences of withdrawing from Iraq. The statement said the war "must be seen in the broader context of Islamo-fascism's war on America and Western Civilization."

The biggest threat for the West from Islam is demographic. We can only lose that battle of the womb if we let Muslims move to our countries. Keep the Muslims out and the threat is minimal. Therefore, if social conservative or Christian conservative leaders want to sign a declaration that is constructive they would sign one that calls for the end of Muslim immigration into the West.

Back in December 2001 Billy Graham's son Franklin labelled Islam itself as the problem.

Evangelist Franklin Graham has been drawing fire for controversial comments he made about Islam, which he said is "wicked, violent and not of the same God." Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, reportedly made the comments in October, said NBC News. The younger Graham said Islam is not "this wonderful, peaceful religion. When you read the Qur'an and you read the verses from the Qur'an, it instructs the killing of the infidel for those who are non-Muslim."

Franklin Graham then toned down his rhetoric in response to a lot of criticism. Still, at least briefly he was honest.

Back in late 2001 and 2002 a lot of conservative Christian leaders were more frank in their appraisals of Islam.

Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, said to the 40 leaders attending today, ''Since we are in a global community, no doubt about it, we must temper our speech and we must communicate primarily through actions.''

It has been more than a year since major evangelical leaders, like the Rev. Franklin Graham, the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Rev. Jerry Vines, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, began publicly branding Islam, or Islam's prophet Muhammad, as inherently evil and violent.

Mr. Graham, son of the evangelist Billy Graham and head of a global missions agency, Samaritan's Purse, said last year that Islam was ''a very evil and wicked religion.'' Mr. Vines described Muhammad as ''a demon-possessed pedophile.''

Will these Christian leaders start advocating policies that provide us with real protection against Muslims?

By Randall Parker    2007 November 10 10:52 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2007 September 16 Sunday
Jim Pinkerton: The Once & Future Christendom

Separationism keeps growing in popularity as the most reasonable response to Islam. Jim Pinkerton has written a highly excellent piece The Once & Future Christendom.

In his subtle way, Tolkien argues for a vision of individual and collective self-preservation that embraces a realistic view of human nature, including its limitations, even as it accepts difference and diversity. Moreover, Tolkien counsels robust self-defense in one’s own area—the homeland, which he calls the Shire—even as he advocates an overall modesty of heroic ambition. All in all, that’s not a bad approach for true conservatives, who appreciate the value of lumpy hodgepodge as opposed to artificially imposed universalisms.

So with Tolkien in mind, we might speak of the “Shire Strategy.” It’s simple: the Shire is ours, we want to keep it, and so we must defend it. Yet by the same principle, since others have their homelands and their rights, we should leave them alone, as long as they leave us alone. Live and let live. That’s not world-historical, merely practical. For us, after our recent spasm of universalism—the dogmatically narcissistic view that everyone, everywhere wants to be like us—it’s time for a healthy respite, moving toward an each-to-his-own particularism.

Jim's interpretation of Tolkien is great. I highly recommend reading this essay both for the Lord Of The Rings interpretation and for Jim's take on what we should do about our clash of civilizations with Islam.

I find Jim's use of the term "narcissistic view" as insightful. The universalists so love their own ideas that they can't imagine why the rest of the world won't eventually do so as well.

Why haven't we separated ourselves fully from the Muslims? The temptation of greater power. We have hubris to think that we can unite the entire world in our own universalist vision.

In addition to the innate differences, Tolkien added a layer of tragic complexity: the enticement of power. Some races in Middle Earth were given Rings of Power—19 in all, symbolizing technological might but also a metaphor for hubristic overreach: “Three Rings for Elven-kings under the sky / Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone / Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die.” One notes immediately that the Hobbits, along with other categories of being, have received no rings. Again, Tolkien’s world doesn’t pretend to be fair; we get what we are given, by the design (or maybe for the amusement) of greater powers. Only one threat endangers this yeasty diversity—the flowing tide of overweening universalism, emblemized by Sauron, who seeks to conquer the whole wide world, and everyone and everything in it

I'm surprised to learn that my lack of attraction to universalist ideology gives me something in common with Hobbits.

Enter Frodo, hero Hobbit. Tolkien, who served as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers during the Great War, modeled Frodo, admiringly, after the Tommies—the grunt infantrymen—who fought alongside him. Neither a defeatist nor a militarist, Tolkien admired those men who were simultaneously stoic and heroic. In the words of medieval historian Norman Cantor, “Frodo is not physically powerful, and his judgment is sometimes erratic. He wants not to bring about the golden era but to get rid of the Ring, to place it beyond the powers of evil; not to transform the world but to bring peace and quiet to the Shire.” Because of their innate modestly, only Hobbits have the hope of resisting the sorcery of the Ring. Frodo volunteers to carry the Ring to the lip of a volcano, Mt. Doom, there to cast it down and destroy it once and for all.

Yes, the Hobbits aren't utopians. People who want to transform the world with militarily imposed democracy promote an unachievable utopian dream.

We have enemies within.

Nor can we ignore the painful reality of a genuine fifth column in the West. This summer, Gordon Brown’s government concluded that 1 in 11 British Muslims—almost 150,000 people living in the United Kingdom—“proactively” supports terrorism, with still more rated as passive supporters. And this spring, a Pew Center survey found that 13 percent of American Muslims, as well as 26 percent aged 18-29, were bold enough to tell a pollster that suicide bombing was “sometimes” justified. These Muslim infiltrators, of course, have potential access to weapons of mass destruction.

We can basically buy out the citizenship of our enemies within. This is a solvable problem. We just need to find the will to solve it.

By Randall Parker    2007 September 16 11:20 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (25)
2007 September 15 Saturday
Mixing Ethnic Groups Produces Violence

Incompatible cultures and ethnicities lead to violent conflict.

Waltham, MA—In the last century, more than 100 million people have perished in violent conflict, very often because of local clashes between ethnically or culturally distinct groups. In a novel study this week in Science, researchers report on a mathematical model that can predict where ethnic conflict will erupt.

The study, conducted by scientists at the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) and Brandeis University, can be applied to many areas and its predictions were tested on distinct ethnic groups in India and the former Yugoslavia. The researchers applied a model of global pattern formation that differentiates regions by culture. They discovered that heterogeneous areas with poorly- defined boundaries were prone to ethnic conflict.

No surprise here. In an age when intellectuals embrace universalist myths about how much all of humanity has in common we need research to rediscover the obvious.

The open borders crowd wants to reduce separation. What'll that cause?

The research asserts that in highly mixed regions, groups of the same type are not large enough to sway collective behavior toward claiming any particular public space; likewise, well-segregated groups are protected by clear boundaries identifying their space. However, the study concludes that “partial separation with poorly defined boundaries fosters conflict.”

What causes a fairly homogeneous area of consensus and peace to decay into an area of conflict? Immigration and differing rates of reproduction create subpopulations large enough to come into conflict with the former hegemonic population.

In essence, as poet Robert Frost wrote in a well-known poem, “good fences make good neighbors.” Well-defined borders help prevent ethnic tension.

"Our research shows that violence takes place when an ethnic group is large enough to impose cultural norms on public spaces, but not large enough to prevent those norms from being broken," said Brandeis researcher Dr. May Lim. "Usually this occurs in places where boundaries between groups are unclear.”

Neoconservatives and liberals don't want to face up to the consequences of their pursuit of utopia. A global capitalist market with open borders and democracy everywhere is not feasible. Attempts to impose it by force abroad are not going well. Iraq is immersed in civil war. Russia, Venezuela, and some other countries are becoming less free. Within the United States public backlash against globalism is reflected in increasing opposition to elite plans for more trade treaties and more immigration.

If the Bosnia and Albanian Muslims hadn't out-reproduced the Serbs and Croats then the Muslims wouldn't have started pushing the Serbs out of areas they had dominated for centuries. In the West the Clinton Administration and neocons portrayed the Serbs as the evil transgressors and used the Serbs as sacrificial meat to try to demonstrate to Muslims that Western countries won't always line up in favor of non-Muslims against Muslims. This is the sort of foolishness our intellectuals get into when they try to make policies based on myths. Iraq is another example of the folly that comes from belief in universalist myths.

By Randall Parker    2007 September 15 09:54 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2006 November 29 Wednesday
Poll Finds Moderate And Extremist Muslims Similar

John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed argue in an article in Foreign Policy Muslim extremists are better educated than most Muslims and do not feel hopeless about their situations.

Ask any foreign-policy expert how the West will know it is winning the war on terror, and the likely response will be, “When the Islamic world rejects radicalism.” But just who are Muslim radicals, and what fuels their fury? Every politician has a theory: Radicals are religious fundamentalists. They are poor. They are full of hopelessness and hate. But those theories are wrong.

Based on a new Gallup World Poll of more than 9,000 interviews in nine Muslim countries, we find that Muslim radicals have more in common with their moderate brethren than is often assumed. If the West wants to reach the extremists, and empower the moderate Muslim majority, it must first recognize who it’s up against.

But if the extremists and the so-called moderates have so much in common then don't they have much less in common with us? Also, I do not believe we can empower one group of Muslims against another group of Muslims. We lack the ability to exert such subtle influence.

The radicals are more educated than the average Muslim.

There is indeed a key difference between radicals and moderates when it comes to income and education, but it is the radicals who earn more and who stay in school longer.

This must be a mistake. Liberals believe in education as the magic panacea for most of what ails societies. Education makes Muslims more likely to be extremists? That's contrary to liberal dogma.

I see realist reasons why this isn't surprising: More educated Muslims view themselves as in more direct status competition with Westerners. Their educations raise their expectations. Their occupations put them in economic competition with Westerners. Less educated and lower class Muslims see highly educated Westerners as more akin to the Muslim upper classes and more distant from their own lives. People who feel they are competing for status are more likely to resent their competitors who are more successful.

Education usually leads to greater experience with the West and therefore greater chance to feel inferior to it. If we really want to reduce Muslim resentment of the West then my advice is to keep them more distant from us.

Esposito and Mogahed find that Muslim terrorists do not feel hopeless. They think they have good prospects even without turning to suicide bombing. So forget about economic development as the panacea to dampen down terrorism.

Whenever a suicide bomber completes a deadly mission, the act is often attributed to hopelessness—the inability to find a job, earn a living, or support a family. But the politically radical are not more “hopeless” than the mainstream. More radicals expressed satisfaction with their financial situation and quality of life than their moderate counterparts, and a majority of them expected to be better off in the years to come.

We should separate the West from Islam. That is the best way to defend ourselves from them and to reduce animosity between us and them.

By Randall Parker    2006 November 29 08:57 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (14)
2006 November 26 Sunday
Catholic Church Not Legal In Turkey

The status of the Roman Catholic Church in Turkey shows what a farce it is for the European Union to consider admission of Turkey to the EU. The Catholic Church in Turkey functions as an appendage to foreign embassies.

The Roman Catholic Church is not legally recognized in Turkey. It functions largely attached to foreign embassies; its priests do not wear their collars in public.

Meanwhile many American cities now have large mosques jutting up in the skyline.

Most Christians in Turkey are of the Armenian, Greek and other Orthodox denominations, and although most of these are recognized in the Turkish Constitution as minority communities, they face severe restrictions on property ownership and cannot build places of worship or run seminaries to train their clerics.

Such hardships make it almost impossible for Christians to sustain and expand their communities, advocates say. The Greek Orthodox, for example, have dwindled to no more than 3,000, just 2% of the community's size in the 1960s.

Turkey has one thing in common with France and Britain: Growing Islamic radicalism.

Fueled by a vitriolic, and growing, potion of nationalism and Islamic radicalism, spasms of violence have led to the killing of one priest this year, the beatings of two others and the burning of a Christian prayer center. Christian tombstones are often vandalized and property frequently confiscated by authorities.

Time for the West to separate itself from the Islamic countries. Stop letting in Muslim immigrants. Deport the vast bulk of the non-citizen Muslims. Stop getting involved in the internal affairs of Muslim countries. These are the best policies for defending our civilization from Muslims.

The Turkish government denies poor treatment of non-Muslims. You didn't expect them to be honest, did you?

"Obviously, more needs to be done to promote religious freedom for all denominations," Ali Bardakoglu, president of Turkey's powerful Religious Affairs Directorate, said in an interview. But he defended the government's treatment of minorities, contending that Christians and other non-Muslims do not face serious problems.

Bardakoglu was one of the most emphatic critics of Benedict after the pope delivered a speech in Regensburg, Germany, in September that denounced Islamic violence and quoted a medieval Byzantine emperor who disdained Islam and its prophet, Muhammad. Adding insult to injury, as far as many Turks were concerned, the emperor was defending Constantinople, cradle of Orthodox Christianity, against the Muslim conquest that gave the city its name today: Istanbul.

Well, the Turks did invade and overthrow the Byzantines. Why shouldn't the Pope verbally defend Constantinople?

Pope is kowtowing to the Turkish government.

In a remarkable gesture, the pope will meet with Bardakoglu, the country's top religious figure, at his ministry, a modern, imposing building on Ankara's outskirts, on the first day of his Turkey visit. Bardakoglu's directorate commands a huge budget and oversees all of Turkey's imams.

Originally, the Vatican expected Bardakoglu to call on the pope at the Vatican Embassy, as protocol would have dictated. But the Turks refused. After a series of negotiations, the pope agreed to go to Bardakoglu. "It is a gesture of goodwill," a senior Vatican official said.

Of course Saudi Arabia is far worse toward Christians. A single church? Just fuggedaboutit.

What's progress for Christians in Turkey? A Protestant group was allowed to open its own church. It took the weight of the EU for Turkey to make such a small pathetic step.

It is EU pressure that has nudged Ankara along in easing some of the restrictions on minorities; for example, a Protestant group in Istanbul has for the first time been allowed to open a church.

Turkey is purported to be the moderate, secular, democratic model for the rest of the Muslim countries. Western expectations are so low for the Muslims that Turkey can get rated as somehow modern and Western in spite of the fact that it isn't.

The Pope has a fairly accurate and realistic take on Islam. Back in 1997 before he was Pope he gave an interview where he discussed Islam. For an excerpt see my post: Pope Benedict Sees Islam Incompatible With Western Societies.

I agree with Lawrence Auster that we should take the path of civilizational defense and separate the West from Islam. We can't assimilate them in our countries. We can not convince them to abandon Islam and Islam itself is simply incompatible with the West as Pope Benedict argues. We aren't compatible. We need a divorce. It is really that simple.

By Randall Parker    2006 November 26 08:59 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (20)
2006 September 30 Saturday
Pope Benedict Sees Islam Incompatible With Western Societies

Pope Benedict's September 12, 2006 speech at the University of Regensburg in which he made some comments about Islam ignited Muslim fury as the followers of the so-called "religion of peace" took violent exception to the idea that their religion is anything less than perfect and supreme. The Pope sees the same incompatibility between the West and Islam that ParaPundit has repeatedly pointed out.

Benedict has studied Islam extensively and, in a 1997 interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, dealt generously with the religion.

"There is a noble Islam, embodied, for example, by the King of Morocco, and there is also the extremist, terrorist Islam, which, again, one must not identify with Islam as a whole, which would do it an injustice," the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said.

Still, he added, Islam does not fit in with Western civilization.

"Islam has a total organization of life that is completely different from ours; it embraces simply everything," he said. "There is a very marked subordination of woman to man; there is a very tightly knit criminal law, indeed, a law regulating all areas of life, that is opposed to our modern ideas about society. One has to have a clear understanding that it is not simply a denomination that can be included in the free realm of a pluralistic society."

That article has excerpts from comments that the Pope has made at other times about Islam and is worth reading in full.

That 1997 book-length interview of the Pope (before he became Pope and hence more constrained in his public utterances) and the section about Islam sounds especially interesting. So I did some web digging and came up with a longer excerpt.

I think that first we must recognize that Islam is not a uniform thing. In fact, there is no single authority for all Muslims, and for this reason, dialogue with Islam is always dialogue with certain groups. No one can speak for Islam as a whole; it has, as it were, no commonly regarded orthodoxy.... There is a noble Islam, embodied, for example, by the King of Morocco, and there is also the extremist, terrorist Islam, which, again, one must not identify with Islam as a whole, which would do it an injustice.

An important point, however, is ... that the interplay of society, politics and religion has a completely different structure in Islam as a whole. Today's discussion in the West about the possibility of Islamic theological faculties, or about the idea of Islam as a legal entity, resupposes that all religions have basically the same structure, that they all fit into a democratic system with its regulations and the possibilities provided by these regulations. In itself, however, this necessarily contradicts the essence of Islam, which simply does not have the separation of the political and religious sphere, which Christianity has had from the beginning. The Quran is a total religious law, which regulates the whole of political and social life and insists that the whole order of life be Islamic....

These comments are far more important and profound than the Regensburg remarks that caused the huge recent flap with Muslims burning churches and Muslim governments lodging diplomatic protests.

The European race has shrunk as a percentage of the total world population going from about a quarter to a tenth. The Muslims sense weakness on our part. At the same time, they still feel threatened by us. The combination has awakened them.

In the cultural situation of the 19th and early 20th centuries, until the 1960s, the superiority of the Christian countries was industrially, culturally, politically and militarily so great that Islam was really forced into the second rank. Christianity--at any rate, civilizations with a Christian foundation--could present themselves as the victorious power in world history. But then the great moral crisis of the Western world, which appears to be the Christian world, broke out. In the face of the deep moral contradictions of the West and of its internal helplessness ... the Islamic soul reawakened. We are somebody too; we know who we are; our religion is holding its ground; you don't have one any longer....

Pope Benedict has a great sense of history. Yes, that is exactly what has happened. The West has a problem of an existential nature. The Muslims are out-reproducing us while also asserting their religious superiority. Our secular leftists would have us believe Muslim anger is our fault. Too many of our religious (e.g. George W. Bush with his Islam as "religion of peace") want to believe that they have a greater bond with Muslims who share a faith in God than with secular Westerns who share values like freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Muslims now believe they have the more vigorous religion. Truth enough. Vigorous Jihadists seek to kill us while within their own societies and they keep women in line by being willing to do things like throw acid on the faces of women who do not stay under covers.

So the Muslims now have the consciousness that in reality Islam has remained in the end as the more vigorous religion and that they have something to say to the world, indeed, are the essential religious force of the future.

Here's my very politically incorrect view of why Islam seems more "vigorous": First off, Middle Eastern Muslims are dumber on average than Europeans. So most lack the intellectual capacity for introspection with lots of critical thoughts about their own religion. An intellectually driven reformation is not in the cards. At the same time, lower IQ people have more babies in the modern world. So the Muslims are out-reproducing people of European descent. On top of all that, smarter Europeans have used their smarts to make themselves much more economically successful and powerful. Their greater success and power causes resentment and a burning anger among Muslim males who do not want to compete for women.

Islam codified a version of Middle Eastern desert tribal norms which was enligthened for its time. But those norms and the practice of consanguineous (cousin) marriage are not compatible with Western societies and Western values. Christianity and secular values of the West have far more in common with each other than they do with Islam.

The West should separate itself from Muslim lands and Muslim peoples to a large extent. Do not let Muslims move into the West. For Muslims who have citizenship or residency offer them cash to leave. People in bad marriages get divorced. Cultures and religions that are incompatible should get divorced as well. We can get along better by staying out of each others' lives.

By Randall Parker    2006 September 30 08:57 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (23)
2006 September 17 Sunday
Muslims Bomb Churches In Anger At Pope Benedict

If someone told you that your religion advocates violence or spreads itself using violence would you react by blowing up houses of worship of other religions? Muslims are attacking churches in Gaza Strip and West Bank in protest at Catholic Pope Benedict's comments about Islam.

Churches in the West Bank and Gaza were damaged in several shooting and fire bomb attacks over the weekend, in response to the words of Pope Benedict XVI criticizing the Muslim religion. Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Gaza to protest.

On Saturday, a Greek Orthodox Church in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City and four other churches in Nablus were attacked by Palestinians wielding guns, fire bombs and lighter fluid. At least five fire bombs hit the Anglican Church and its door was later set ablaze. Smoke billowed from the church as firefighters put out the flames. The fire bombings left black scorch marks on the walls and windows. No injuries were reported from those incidents.

On Sunday two more West Bank churches were set on fire as the wave of Muslim anger over the Pope’s comments continued. A small church in the village of Tubas was hit with fire bombs and was partially burned. In Tulkarm a stone church built over 170 years ago was torched, completely destroying the inside. According to local officials, neither were Catholic churches.

Writing in the Sunday Times of the UK Rod Liddle notes Muslims think they have the religion of peace but think they have the right to respond violently to anyone who denies their claim.

You can bet your life that by the time you read this, some Catholic priest toiling away in a godforsaken, dusty hellhole — Sudan, perhaps, or Turkey — will have been smacked about a bit, or had his church burnt down or been arrested without charge. The Pope should have been aware that Islam always reacts to western allegations that it is not a peaceful religion by mass outbreaks of vituperation, denunciation and acts of jihadic violence.

That this is a paradox seems not to be even remotely recognised by many Muslims. Commenting on the Pope’s speech, Tasnim Aslam, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani foreign ministry, came out with this little piece of doublethink beauty: “Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence.”

We should keep these people out of the West.

Some of the Muslims demanding an apology from the Pope are hardly examples of moderation and tolerance.

The murderous Muslim Brotherhood was the first out of the blocks, demanding that all Islamic countries cut their ties with the Vatican. The “liberal and moderate” Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (pro death penalty for homosexuals, female circumcision, suicide bombings against Jews and other similarly tolerant stuff) has insisted the Pope must apologise. Soon the placards will be out, the effigies, the foam-flecked demonstrators and attacks by adolescent suicidal nutters.

The Pope's forthcoming trip to Turkey may be cancelled by the Turks. Liddle suggests the Pope should demand the Turks stop mistreating Christians and also allow Muslims to convert to other religions. I agree.

A subtle and astute politician, perhaps Benedict should apologise for having caused offence — and then demand by way of reciprocation that Turkey — Islam’s democratic representative in the West — return to Christian denominations the land it has confiscated from them, allow the Christian churches to open seminaries (which they are barred from doing), make it easier to build new churches, and lock up Turks who terrorise priests. And maybe allow Turks to convert from Islam to Christianity without fear of official or unofficial reprisal. A fair exchange?

The Muslims do not deserve apologies from Westerners who speak their minds.

The Pope made the mistake of trying to appease the Muslims with an apology. But let us take a look at what he originally said that got the Muslims so bent out of shape. If Islam is a religion of peace then the Muslims who laid seige to Constantinople were bad Muslims.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

So the Pontiff is talking about the thoughts of a Byzantine emperor whose city was under seize by obviously non-peaceful Muslims. The Muslims of course wanted peace to come to Constantinople by forcing the Christian inhabitants of the city to submit to Muslim rule and pay a higher rate of taxes than Muslims pay. That submission is what Islam expects of non-believers who at least are of "the book" (Jews and Christians). Of course, for other non-believers the Muslims can follow the instructions of their Koran and dole out even much harsher treatment such as death.

In the seventh conversation (*4V8,>4H - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (F×< 8`(T) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

Islam was spread by the sword by Mohammed, the founder of Islam. It was also spread by the sword by other Muslim leaders.

A Palestinian Muslim group may try to blow up all the Christian buildings in their territories.

A hitherto unknown group calling itself the Swords of Islamic Right on Saturday threatened to blow up all churches and Christian institutions in the Gaza Strip to protest remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

The group, which claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on the facade of a Greek Orthodox church in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City on Saturday, said it would not accept an apology from the pope.

On Saturday, four other churches in Nablus were also attacked by Palestinians wielding guns, firebombs and lighter fluid.

They'll peacefully destroy churches.

Some Italian conservatives are happy that the Pope aired an issue that most public figures shrink from discussing: whether Islam is violent toward non-believers who do not submit to Muslim rule.

And for many conservatives here, fearful of terrorist attacks in the name of Islam and rising Muslim immigration in Europe, the remarks of the pope — despite his own denial that he meant to criticize — amounted to a rare public airing of a delicate concern many of them share: whether, in fact, Islam is at the moment especially prone to violence.

Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister, said Saturday that the comments amounted to “an opening, a positive provocation, and so for this reason he is a great pope, with a great intelligence.”

I'd love to see the Europeans and Americans have a more honest discussion about the nature of Islam.

Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci recently died. Fallaci was not shy about speaking her mind on the nature of Islam and for this European governments persecuted her.

For four years I’ve been repeating to the wind the truth about the Monster and its accomplices; that is, the accomplices of the Monster who, in good or bad faith, open wide the doors–who, like [those] in the Apocalypse of John the Evangelist, throw themselves at his feet and allow themselves to be stamped with the mark of shame.

I began with “The Rage and the Pride.“ I continued with “The Force of Reason.“ I followed [those] with “Oriana Fallaci Interviews Oriana Fallaci,” and “The Apocalypse.” And in each one I preached, “Wake up, West! Wake up!“ The books, the ideas, for which in France they tried me in 2002, accusing me of religious racism and xenophobia. For which Switzerland asked our Minister of Justice to extradite me in handcuffs. For which in Italy I will be tried for vilifying Islam; that is, for an offense of opinion. (An offense that carries a sentence of three years in prison; none of which will be served by the Islamist caught with explosives in his cantina). Books, ideas, for which the “Caviar” left, the “Fois Gras” right, and even the “Prosciutto” Center have denigrated and vilified me, putting me in the stocks together with all who think as I do. That is, together with the sensible and unprotected people who are defined by the radical-chic in their frivolous talk as “the riff-raff of the Right.”

Fallaci felt passionately for Italy and the West and spoke out against our enemies who she was not afraid to name. That puts her above most of our politicians. She will be missed.

By Randall Parker    2006 September 17 09:58 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
False Analogies Between Islam And Western Ideologies

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey of registered voters from September 8-11, 2006 found most people do not buy George W. Bush's attempt to draw an analogy between terrorism and fascism.

President Bush has compared the war against terrorism to the fight against the Nazis and fascism. Do you believe that this is an appropriate comparison that reflects the danger of the current situation, or an inappropriate comparison that is only being made to justify the Bush policy in the war against terrorism?

Only 35% chose "Appropriate comparison/reflects the current danger". 59% chose "Inappropriate comparison/made to justify the Bush policy". 6% were unsure. So most people aren't gullible rubes on this one. That's gratifying. But 35% are still fooled.

In a recent speech Bush incorrectly painted terrorists and Iraqi insurgents as successors to Western totalitarian ideologies.

The enemies of liberty come from different parts of the world, and they take inspiration from different sources. Some are radicalized followers of the Sunni tradition, who swear allegiance to terrorist organizations like al Qaeda. Others are radicalized followers of the Shia tradition, who join groups like Hezbollah and take guidance from state sponsors like Syria and Iran. Still others are "homegrown" terrorists -- fanatics who live quietly in free societies they dream to destroy. Despite their differences, these groups from -- form the outlines of a single movement, a worldwide network of radicals that use terror to kill those who stand in the way of their totalitarian ideology. And the unifying feature of this movement, the link that spans sectarian divisions and local grievances, is the rigid conviction that free societies are a threat to their twisted view of Islam.

The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. (Applause.) On one side are those who believe in the values of freedom and moderation -- the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism -- the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest. As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They're successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be: This war will be difficult; this war will be long; and this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians, and a victory for the cause of freedom and liberty. (Applause.)

I hope he does not believe what he's saying. I'd prefer that he's just lying to justify the Iraq Debacle in order to save his political hide. But I fear he really does believe his rhetoric.

The big mistake made by Bush and by "Islamo-fascism" label creator Christopher Hitchens is to try to fit Middle Eastern Arab Muslim political beliefs and behavior into a Western ideological framework. Yet another totalitarian ideology? I see this foolishness as due in part to a left-liberal and neoconservative liberal desire to see liberalism as the universal aspiration of all humanity. There is afoot a belief in a form of Liberal Manifest Destiny where it is the destiny of the world for every society to become liberal in character. This is an appealing vision for hardcore liberals because it allows those most liberal to picture themselves as a vanguard. In the univeralist version of liberalism higher status comes from imagining oneself as further along on the same trail that almost everyone else is travelling on. The more people that can be imagined as on the same trail (no matter how far behind most of them are) then the more people one can be ahead of in development. Therefore "advanced" liberals can look down on the less developed from a vantage point of higher status.

But the people who label Muslims (or subsets of Muslims) as fascists do so by ignoring evidence that undermines their own belief in the universalism of liberal values. The result is that the liberals and neocons attempt to place other civilizations into Western categories that obviously do not fit. I argued back in November 2002, Middle Eastern political factions are not motivated by ideology and their behavior is based on ties of blood and faith.

Racially and tribally based regimes predate the creation of modern fascism. Absent a European intellectual influence the Middle East would still have regimes that were centered around powerful families and clan loyalty with identification extending further out into ethnic group and religious identity. Consanguinity is the biggest underappreciated factor in Western analyses of Middle Eastern politics. Most Western political theorists seem blind to the importance of pre-ideological kinship-based political bonds in large part because those bonds are not derived from embrace of abstract Western ideological models of how societies and political systems should be organized. Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations argument is therefore demonstrated by the Western inability to understand societies that do not fit into any recognizeable modern Western ideological political category.

Lawrence Auster quibbles with my labelling of consanguinity as the most important underappreciated factor for understanding the Middle East and he argues that Islam is underappreciated by intellectuals willfully trying to ignore the Muslim elephant in the room (my terminology, not his). Well, at the time I wrote the quote above I naively expected the shock of 9/11 to cause intellectuals to become more honest about Islam. I was wrong. The intellectuals refuse to see the obvious because to admit to the obvious would require admitting that some key tenets of secular liberal faith are wrong.

I see the cousin marriage practice and Islam as mutually supporting. Islam essentially codified the beliefs and values of an Arab tribe of the 7th century. The cousin marriage practiced in Muslim lands today finds a supporting moral code in Islam. The practice is even maintained in urban environments in Western countries with large Muslim populations - see my post Over Half Of Pakistanis In Britain Married To First Cousins.

As for the belief of Bush that we can transform Muslim societies: Over a year ago Larry Auster dug up a quote from a British writer writing in the mid 1930s about the British occupation of Iraq. The Bush Administration is mouthing the same foolishness that was written about the British occupation of Iraq over 80 years ago. Iraq was supposedly firmly on the road to political and social modernity in 1935.

Iraq is moving steadily forward towards the modern conception of the State, with a single judicial and administrative system, unaffected by considerations of religion or nationality. The Millet system [i.e., dhimmitude—not reflected by this ridiculous euphemism!] still survives, but its scope is definitely limited. Even the Assyrian tragedy of 1933 does not shake our faith in the essential progress that has been made. The Government is endeavoring to carry out faithfully the undertakings it has given, even when these run directly counter to the long-cherished provisions of the Sharia Law. But it is not easy; it cannot be easy in the very nature of the case, for the common people quickly to adjust their minds to the new legal situation, and to eradicate from their outlook the results covering many centuries of a system which implies the superiority of Islam over the non-Moslem minority groups. The legal guarantees of liberty and equality represent the goal towards which the country is moving, rather than the expression of the present thoughts and wishes of the population. [Emphasis added.] The movement, however, is in the right direction, and it may yet prove possible for Islam to disentangle religious faith from political status and privilege. [S.A. Morrison, ‘Religious Liberty in Iraq’, Moslem World, 1935, p. 128]

Hope springs eternal.

Why did Sayyid Qutb and other Muslim intellectuals find so much about Western mating practices to get upset about? A reader of Steve Sailer writing to him from Istanbul says the idea of romantic love threatens Muslim men with the need to compete for women with higher status European males and they see this competition as deeply threatening. So ignore all their rhetoric which seeks to dress up their anger in a supernaturally derived code of ethics and look at them as males competing for status and women.

It is no coincidence that the so-called "romantic" norm has evolved among the European Caucasian demography because of the specific workings of the incest taboo. For the Eastern male, the female is not someone endowed with the legal status of having "sexual desire," or being the subject of desire. That is because in his social reality, females are assigned, by familial authority and fiat, their partners, period. Only in a social environment where the daughter is to be married to non-family (a stranger) can the question of she having a say on with whom she's coupled gain prominence. And that quite naturally, through the dynamic of parenthood. If you, as a parent, are simply wedding your daughter to your brother's son, there's no "emotions" to discuss: he's family. If, however, it is Mr. X, then you'll ponder, "Heck, is he worthy of our daughter?" And "Does our beloved girl consent?"

And it is only in such an environment that romance, and with it the intra-gender rivalry, can come to the fore.

In the East, the male doesn't know anything like having to "earn" a girl: sooner or later he's assigned one. In the West, he has to *get* the girl - attract her attention, be able to flirt with her, seduce her, etc.

This drives the Eastern male crazy.

The whole high-falutin' rhetoric of "morals" is just a blanket over this arrogance. Women who both dress so immodestly (since they, too, have to compete for the attention of desirable males) who then show the insolence of having a say in whom they are paired with. Unthinkable and unacceptable for the Eastern male...

Click through and read the whole thing.

Is there a solution to this problem? The obvious one is to separate ourselves from the Muslims so that they do not compete in the same status hierarchy as we do. Also, physical separation avoids the proximity that Muslim terrorists need to attack us.

This idea of attempting to physically separate Westerners and Muslims would put them into separate status and dominance hierarchies. We need to do this. The problem of resentment between races and religions and the resulting competition over dominance hierarchies reminds me of the writings of Amy Chua. In her book World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability she argues that market dominant minorities (e.g. Jews in Europe, Chinese in Southeast Asia) end up the targets of hatred of less successful lower status majority populations (though she ignores differences in average IQ as an obvious explanation for the differences in levels of success). Chua made one salient comment about the world as a whole and America's place in it: Chua says America is, in a sense, the world's market dominant minority. The difference is that Americans are more a nationality than an ethnicity. But the reactions of others effectively lump all Americans together as a sort of tribe.

Chua is not an anti-globalist but argues that the USA is, on a global scale, itself a 'market-dominant minority' and is now facing the backlash that her thesis indicates.

Sorry Amy, you have to place some limits on globalism or the resentments between ethnicities and tribes will increase. There are limits in human nature to how much globalism humans can handle. Some are especially likely to fill up with resentment and anger. We should formulate foreign and trade policies which account for the status needs of humans.

By Randall Parker    2006 September 17 05:08 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2006 September 13 Wednesday
Pope Benedict Criticises Muslim Holy War

The Pope takes a dim view of the Muslim embrace of holy war.

In his speech at Regensburg University, the German-born pontiff explored the historical and philosophical differences between Islam and Christianity and the relationship between violence and faith.

Stressing that they were not his own words, he quoted Emperor Manual II Paleologos of the Byzantine Empire, the Orthodox Christian empire which had its capital in what is now the Turkish city of Istanbul.

The emperors words were, he said: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Benedict said "I quote" twice to stress the words were not his and added that violence was "incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul".

Islam is not compatible with Western democracy, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.

Muslims are angered by the Pope's remarks.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI did not intend to offend Muslims with remarks about holy war, the Vatican said Thursday, scrambling to defend the pontiff as anger built in the Islamic world over his comments during a trip to Germany.

“It certainly wasn't the intention of the pope to carry out a deep examination of jihad (holy war) and on Muslim thought on it, much less to offend the sensibility of Muslim believers,” said Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

No doubt some Muslims want to wage holy war against the Catholic Church in response to the Popes' comments. Then again, some Muslims want to wage hoy war against the Catholic Church for promoting Christianity instead of Islam.

Benedict's unwillingness to call Islam a religion of peace puts Pontiff Benedict ahead of George W. Bush in public honesty.

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday refused to declare Islam "a religion of peace."

Asked by reporters whether Islam could be considered a religion of peace shortly before entering a meeting with priests and deacons of Valle d'Aosta in northwest Italy where he is spending a brief holiday, the pontiff refused to reply positively.

"I would not like to use big words to apply generic labels," he replied. "It certainly contains elements that can favor peace, it also has other elements: We must always seek the best elements."

Islam was founded by a Military leader and dictator. It was not a religion of peace at conception.

By Randall Parker    2006 September 13 04:35 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (104)
2006 July 30 Sunday
Contradictions Of Qatar

Writing for the German publication Der Spiegel Erich Follath reports on the seeming contradictions in Qatar, made possible by enormous wealth from massive natural gas reserves.

The country's leader, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, 56, and his brother Abdullah, 46, the head of the government, are Washington's staunch allies in its war on terror and have permitted the White House to expand the Udeid air base into the US Air Force's most important base outside the United States. The facility, which doesn't appear on any map of Qatar, is essentially the American's command center for the entire Iraq war.

The ruling family is also a major backer of the Al-Jazeera ("The Island") television network, which has been critical of both Arab feudal governments and the Bush administration. This probably explains why Al-Jazeera is the network of choice for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his associates, whose videos are routinely delivered to Doha, where Al-Jazeera broadcasts them to the rest of the world -- a source of constant irritation for Washington.

Israel is permitted to maintain a trade office in Qatar, and its directors are usually high-ranking retired generals. At the same time, Doha's ruling family has no compunctions about providing some of the funding for Hamas, which has yet to renounce terror. Indeed, Qatar recently gave the Palestinian organization $50 million without tying any conditions to the funding. At the same time, the sheikhs also paid for the construction of a soccer stadium near the northern Israeli city of Haifa.

While Follath claims Qatar has a per capita GDP of $53,000 the CIA World Factbook puts it at $27,400 per capita in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms. Possibly the CIA is including the guest workers in their division of GDP by population whereas perhaps Follath is not. The CIA lists Arabs as only 40% of Qatar's population. Also, perhaps Follath isn't quoting in PPP terms.

The CIA World Factbook puts the Qatari population at 95% Muslim. I suspect they include foreign workers in that figure and that the foreign workers are overwhelmingly Muslim.

Qatar is mediating between Israel and Hezbollah over the current conflict.

The sources said Qatar, which has not signed a peace treaty with Israel but enjoys friendly ties with the Jewish state, had intensified its diplomacy in recent days directly with Israeli officials and also with Hizbollah through Lebanese officials.

"The Qataris are mediating between Israel and Hizbollah to end the current crisis in Lebanon," one senior political source told Reuters. The sources did not give details.

A US base in Qatar supplied the guided bombs that the US recently rushed to Israel.

The United States will soon provide Israel with some 100 "bunker buster" bombs to kill the leader of Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrilla group and destroy its trenches, Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Monday.

Quoting unidentified informed sources in both Washington and Tel Aviv, the Saudi-owned Arabic daily said the bombs, which can penetrate up to 40 metres under ground, would be shipped to Israel from a U.S. military base in Qatar.

Heavily moneyed elites in Arab countries are more tolerant of non-Muslims than their masses. The Qatari rulers will make deals with Israelis, Western oil companies, and the US government while their population looks at the world in very different terms.

I wonder whether the rising popularity of Muslim fundamentalism will eventually pressure elites in the Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms to distance themselves from the US and become even more supportive of the enemies of Israel in Israel's local environment. I also wonder whether Al-Jazeera is feeding a change in attitudes that will eventually bite the Qatari rulers.

By Randall Parker    2006 July 30 08:46 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2006 May 27 Saturday
Indonesia Cuts Jail Sentences For Bali Bombers

Cutler of Yankee Station points to a story in the Australian press about how the Indonesian government is cutting the jail sentences of Bali bombers.

Indonesia will ignore Australian protests and slash the prison sentences of 27 Bali bombers as well as their alleged spiritual leader, radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

Remissions for thousands of inmates are being handed down to mark the end of Islam's Ramadan fasting month.

Bashir is expected to get one month sliced off his sentence, meaning he could be free by next April.

This guy should be dead already along with his followers.

Bashir got only 30 months in the first place.

Bashir is serving what originally was a 30-month jail term for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, among them 88 Australians.

He also got a four-month cut as part of independence day celebrations in August.

Government officials say the jail terms of 27 of the 2002 Bali bombers will be cut on Thursday by around six weeks each.

You can bet there will be additional jail term cuts in the future too.

But the Aussies are encouraging the attitude that Muslim attacks shouldn't be punished. The Australian police are keen to treat wife beatings more lightly when non-whites are involved. Gotta be multicultural, don't ya know? Not surprisingly, Muslim clerics in Australia are still preaching Jihad.

In open defiance of John Howard's proposed new terror laws and the Prime Minister's demand that Muslim leaders desist from inflammatory rhetoric, Lakemba cleric Sheik Zoud has used his Friday prayer meetings over the past month to praise Muslim fighters. "Allah yinsur el-mujaheddin fe-Iraq (God grant victory to the mujaheddin in Iraq)," he repeatedly screamed during a 35-minute Arabic sermon at Lakemba's Haldon Street prayer hall in Sydney's southwest last week.

In further contempt of Mr Howard, Sheik Zoud's high-profile counterpart in Melbourne, Sheik Omran, also declared last month: "No victory (for Islam's brothers and sisters) can be stopped by George Bush or Tony Blair or John Howard."

I'm preaching deportation and an end to all Muslim immigration into Western countries. I also want to deport all the leftists who favor multiculturalism. Send them to live in a foreign culture and allow them to escape the evil Western white male patriarchal racist colonialist capitalist oppression.

By Randall Parker    2006 May 27 12:56 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2006 May 24 Wednesday
Saudi Textbooks Still Not Sweetness And Light

File this under the category of "No Surprise Here": The Saudi government claims it has reworked its textbooks so that Saudi kids are no longer taught to hate non-Wahhabis. Nina Shea of the Freedom House Center for Religious Freedom reports that examination of translations of current Saudi textbooks turns up the same old stuff.

A review of a sample of official Saudi textbooks for Islamic studies used during the current academic year reveals that, despite the Saudi government's statements to the contrary, an ideology of hatred toward Christians and Jews and Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi doctrine remains in this area of the public school system. The texts teach a dualistic vision, dividing the world into true believers of Islam (the "monotheists") and unbelievers (the "polytheists" and "infidels").

This indoctrination begins in a first-grade text and is reinforced and expanded each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text instructing students that their religious obligation includes waging jihad against the infidel to "spread the faith."

Freedom House knows this because Ali al-Ahmed, a Saudi dissident who runs the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs, gave us a dozen of the current, purportedly cleaned-up Saudi Ministry of Education religion textbooks. The copies he obtained were not provided by the government, but by teachers, administrators and families with children in Saudi schools, who slipped them out one by one.

Shiites provided some of the books since Wahabbis take a dim view of the Shias.

Some of our sources are Shiites and Sunnis from non-Wahhabi traditions -- people condemned as "polytheistic" or "deviant" or "bad" in these texts -- others are simply frustrated that these books do so little to prepare young students for the modern world.

The books they used came from mosques in the United States.

WASHINGTON, DC, January 28, 2005 -- Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom released today a new report exposing the dissemination of hate propaganda in America by the government of Saudi Arabia.

The 89-page report, “Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques,” is based on a year-long study of over two hundred original documents, all disseminated, published or otherwise generated by the government of Saudi Arabia and collected from more than a dozen mosques in the United States.

Western nations ought to develop technologies that obsolesce oil. As things stand now every time we fill up our cars we fund the spread of Wahabbi Islam. We should stop doing that.

We also ought to stop all Muslim immigration to Western nations. Also, offer money to Muslims to leave Western countries. Islam is not compatible with a free society.

By Randall Parker    2006 May 24 10:21 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2006 May 07 Sunday
Hugo Chavez As US National Security Threat?

James Pinkerton sees Venezuela as an emerging threat to the United States and ParaPundit laughs.

In recent years, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Chile have all elected left-leaning governments, determined to reverse "globalization" and thwart American influence. And similar governments are likely to win soon in Peru and Mexico.

In particular, the oil-empowered Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, an avowed fan of Cuba's Fidel Castro, is emerging as a genuine U.S. enemy.

I can just picture some US Air Force generals in front of a Congressional Committee argung for more F-35 jets to meet the Venezuelan challenge. Well, okay, only in a comedy skit.

Americans, of course, have been mostly preoccupied with the Middle East, but the problems to our south - trade, energy, immigration, narcotics trafficking - are likely to worsen as North-South cooperation worsens.

Trade problems with Latin America? About what exactly? Immigration? That's a reason to build a wall (which Pinkerton favors btw) and do real interior enforcement of immigration laws. We could get rid of all the illegal aliens in 5 years tops - and it would be easy to do if only our traitorous elites stopped sabotaging immigration law enforcement. Drugs: Okay, that's a problem. The Incan candidate for Peru's presidency wants to help undermine the European conquest of the territories now ruled by the United States by legalizing coca.

Pinkerton thinks a Latin American country will emerge as a military power. Wrong.

And one of these days a Latin country will emerge as a serious military power, thus ending America's fortuitous two-century-long monopoly of force in this hemisphere.

Yet, Uncle Sam's dominion over the Americas was not entirely an accident of geography.

Yes Jim, US power is not simply an accident of geography. You got that right. But why not explain where US power really comes from? The United States as most powerful national is chiefly an accident of genetics. The IQ differences between nations change very slowly. While we are suffering some cognitive decay our biggest cognitive competitors in the short to medium term do not lie south of the border. Our cognitive competition problem with them is that America is becoming more like them, not vice versa. Some day when offspring genetic engineering becomes possible some other Western Hemisphere country could become a world power. But that day's a rather distant prospect at this point.

Hugo Chavez does not pose a threat to US security. Neither does Evo Morales. These guys run Venezuela and Bolivia. Who cares?

Now, I hear some people saying "Oh, but Venezeula may have more oil in oil tar than Saudi Arabia has in regular oil". Okay. How does this cause a problem for the United States? The oil market is global. Oil from one place can substitute for oil from another place. Suppose Venezuela won't sell the oil to the US. Instead they'll sell it to other countries and those countries will buy less oil from other sources and then those other sources will sell to us.

Our bigger problem with Hugo Chavez is that Venezuela might become too messed up economically to extract and sell their oil. Venezuela's nationalizations of oil fields might reduce the amount of capital and expertise available for building facilities to extract their heavy oil. But I figure the cost of oil is so high that they'll be able to finance their own expansion plans without the help of global capitalists.

Even if we figure Venezuela will bungle their oil industry and stop increasing oil production what, if anything, should we do about it? Surely if ensuring energy supplies is crucial to US national security then the United States government could launch a massive research and development program aimed at achieving energy indepdendence. Such a program would be funded very well per year for less than 2 months of the cost of the Iraq Debacle. We can afford to develop the ability to free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. That seems a more constructive way to respond to our energy needs than worrying about Hugo Chavez.

El Presidente Jorge W. Bush has a different interpretation of events in Latin America which causes him to get pretty upset whenever white Spaniards lose power to populist leftist Amerind ethnics. I do not begin to understand what theory of racial relations or personal interests cause Jorge to identify so closely with the interests of the descendants of the conquistadores. But he's really consistent about it. He wants to take all the Mayans out of Mexico into the US so that the Spanish ruling class has an easier time running Mexico. He consistently opposes the popular democratic election of Amerinds as Presidents of Latin American governments. He claims to believe in democracy as a cure for what ails the world. But he appears to believe (as do his neocon supporters) that the masses should only elect those who his circle find suitable. Their purposes for democracy do not include the empowerment of leftist ethnic nationalists who oppose capitalistic globalization. The Bushies have a very flawed model of human nature and the world.

By Randall Parker    2006 May 07 12:58 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2006 May 06 Saturday
Racial Divide Deepens In Latin America

The revolt of the Amerinds/indigenous people/non-Spanish/non-white people of Latin (or soon to be ex-Latin?) America continues. The leading candidate to win Peru's Presidency is an Incan ethnic nationalist.

The revolt of Latin American voters against the political class began in Peru in 1990, with the election of an obscure agronomy professor named Alberto Fujimori. The anti-establishment mood has spread, leading to populist soldiers and a coca grower taking the presidencies of Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. Now Peru may elect the most dangerous leader yet. Last month Ollanta Humala, a military man whose family advocates the shooting of gays, Jews and Chilean investors, came in first in presidential elections. Since Mr. Humala did not get 50 percent, there will be a runoff on May 28.

More bad news: the other candidate will be Alan García, a spectacularly irresponsible and corrupt president in the late 1980's who wrecked Peru's economy and presided over the commission of widespread war crimes.

Note to America's Jews: There's nothing like being a market dominant minority to make people want to kill you. You are better off in countries where the distance between your ability and the ability of the larger population is not so large as is the case in Peru. Open Borders is a bad immigration policy.

Alan Garcia ran Peru's inflation rate up to 7000% and crashed Peru's economy. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is an Alan Garcia wannabe. But Garcia claims he's learned lessons, mellowed with age, and wouldn't act like a mad socialist dictator if elected President of Peru again. He's trying to appeal to younger Peruvians who do not remember what he did the last time.

Note to people who think democracy is a cure for the world's ills: Hello? Anybody home? Open your eyes. Resist the urge to embrace pretty and pleasant ideas. The fact that you find some vision of the world appealing does not make it possible or the pursuit of it a good idea. Strive to accept empirical reality, no matter how unpleasant. Stop supporting the pursuit of utopia. Utopians create disasters. Stop dreaming. You have a moral responbility to stop making the world even worse.

The Humala family are Incan ethnic nationalists. If whites were doing this sort of thing they'd be condemned as Nazis.

Isaac Humala Núñez, self-described descendent of Inca royalty and father of Ollanta Humala Tasso, is a well-known philosopher and teacher in Peru. He is the founder and long-time proponent of etnocacerismo, a political philosophy that inspired in Peru a political movement of extreme ethnic nationalists. The term etnocacerismo embodies two concepts. The first part, etno, evokes Peru's ethnic identity, specifically its Inca origins. The second part, cacerismo, venerates the 19th-century president, Andrés Avelino Cáceres, a war hero who led a guerrilla campaign of peasant militias against occupying Chilean troops during the War of the Pacific (1879-83).

The aims of the Movimiento Etnocacerista (Ethnocacerist Movement) center on the restoration of the Inca heritage of Peru, reasserting the role of marginalized indigenous masses in contemporary Peruvian society. It is opposed to what it perceives to be foreign control of the economy, most especially from traditional rival Chile, and supports a return to state control of key economic sectors. The movement also supports the legalization of coca cultivation and a return to the death penalty.

Active support for the Ethnocacerist Movement has been strongest among reservist military officers, including veterans of the struggles against domestic terrorism in the form of the Sendero Luminoso and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, as well as the 1995 war with Ecuador. While on active duty in the Peruvian army, Ollanta Humala, and his brother, Antauro, were the leaders of the Ethnocacerist Movement. Six years ago, the brothers Humala led a failed military uprising against the regime of then President Alberto Fujimori. Imprisoned for a short time, Humala Tasso eventually returned to active duty after being pardoned by President Valentín Paniagua. After being passed over for promotion, the Toledo administration forced him into retirement at the end of 2004.

These guys aren't exactly poster boys for liberal democracy.

Humala, who seeks to come to power democratically, admires a Peruvian general who overthrew a democratically elected government.

Humala, a political novice unknown to most Peruvians as recently as seven months ago, is campaigning on promises to stamp out crime, corruption and cronyism, oppose a free-trade agreement with Washington, nationalize the petroleum industry and protect some national industries.

Humala has attacked the wealthy, promised to raise taxes on foreign companies and has praised Juan Velasco Alvarado, a general who overthrew Peru's democratically elected president in 1968 and expropriated private businesses and land holdings.

Humala's message has resonated in a country where half the people feel disenfranchised under democracy, still living on $2 a day, even though the economy has grown by 5 percent a year during the five-year term of outgoing President Alejandro Toledo.

The Incans, Mayans, and other descendants of migrants over the Aleutian path into the Americas want power and are taking it from the descendants of the conquistadors.

The Amerinds are on the march. Now that Hugo Chavez runs Venezuela, Evo Morales runs Bolivia, and Incan Ollanta Humala Tasso might come to power in Peru which country is next? How about a country which has a national average IQ of 80? how about Ecuador?

In unstable Ecuador, indigenous peasants have blocked roads in recent months to protest negotiations on a U.S. free trade pact.

Indigenous groups have also called for nationalization of the energy sector and particularly the expulsion of U.S. companies from South America's No. 5 oil producer.

My advice to "Latin" America's white Spanish: Get yourselves to countries where the whites form solid majorities. The Amerinds are taking over part of South America and your lives are going to become much less pleasant under their rule.

Up here in the land of Yankees and Rebels we ought to learn an obvious lesson from the inter-racial confict in Central and South America: Whites will be far worse off if they become a minority in the United States. The economy will do worse. Crime will go up. Racial preferences against whites will become much worse. Parties will organize even more along raical lines and the government will become more corrupt as non-whites vote to retain non-whites in power no matter how corrupt. The division along racial and ethnic lines will remove other factors for consideration of candidates for election and quality of government will decay a great deal.

Update: Peru's lower class does not see itself as benefitting from Peru's longest economic upswing in modern times.

The country is experiencing its longest economic expansion in modern history — 57 months — and inflation is near 1%, while exports have tripled to $18 billion in five years. Yet a majority of Peruvians are demanding radical change because the boom has not trickled down from the 5% of population that controls most of its wealth.

Continued economic growth would eventually trickle down. But my guess is that the next government of Peru is going to take steps that'll slow economic growth as it seeks to redistribute the wealth.

By Randall Parker    2006 May 06 10:33 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2006 March 22 Wednesday
Afghan Man Faces Possible Death For Christian Conversion

I hope all my regular readers are not naive enough to think the US changed Afghanistan into a proto Western liberal secular state. Abdul Rahman might be killed in Afghanistan as punishment for converting to Christianity.

The convert, Abdul Rahman, has been accused of apostasy and jailed, but not formally charged. In the United States this week, Christian talk shows and advocacy groups rallied their supporters, who flooded the White House and the Afghanistan Embassy with complaints.

The embassy released a statement yesterday saying that it was "too early" to draw conclusions, and that a judge was now "evaluating questions raised about the mental fitness of Mr. Rahman." The embassy said the results of that evaluation "may end the proceedings."

Rahman is ready to go meet Jesus.

"They want to sentence me to death, and I accept it," Rahman told reporters last week, "but I am not a deserter and not an infidel."

The Afghan constitution, which is based on Sharia, or Islamic law, says that apostates can receive the death penalty.

Was Rahman working with a Christian aid group in Pakistan?

Mr Rahman told a judge at a preliminary hearing last week that he became a Christian while working for an aid group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

"I'm not an apostate. I'm obedient to God but I'm a Christian, that's my choice," he told the hearing.

Rahman doesn't seem willing to act crazy as a way to save his life.

In Afghanistan whether you are a Christian is not recognized as a legitimate personal choice.

The Bush Administration does not want to clash with the Afghan government over this because the US government wants Afghanistan's government to stay stable and to support the hunt for Al Qaeda folks.

When a Christian believer in a nation wholly dependent on U.S. support faces trial and possibly execution simply for embracing the same faith as the President of the United States, you'd think that country would be read the riot act. Instead, Washington's response to the trial in Afghanistan of Abdul Rahman has been rather muted. President Bush said Wednesday he was deeply troubled by the case and said he expected Afghanistan to "honor the universal principle of freedom."

Bush is hoping Karzai will find some way to get the case droppped.

Rahman might get off on an insanity defense that won't even be of his devising.

The trial of a man facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity might be dropped on the grounds of his "mental instability", officials have said, as Afghanistan provoked international criticism over the case.

...

"He doesn't speak like normal people," Zalmai, the chief prosecutor in the case, who uses only one name, told The Independent. "We are delaying the next hearing for him to be examined by doctors to establish his sanity."

Well, normal people would hide their religious beliefs if they lived in a place that would kill them for what they believed. So I have to side with Zalmai.

My guess is that Hamid Karzai is using what leverage he has (cash, threats, etc) to make sure the Afghan courts declare this Afghan Christian as insane or otherwise mentally ill. Karzai doesn't want the Western criticism. Bush and Karzai will look for some way to make the case go away. Maybe Rahman will be sent abroad for mental treatment and given asylum once he gets to wherever he gets sent.

I would have thought that all the Taliban judges were fired when the regime fell. But judges in Afghanistan sound like they are mostly Taliban hold-overs.

His is thought to be Afghanistan's first such trial, reflecting tensions between conservative clerics and reformists.

Conservatives still dominate the Afghan judiciary, four years after the Taleban were overthrown, and Afghanistan's post-Taleban constitution is based on Sharia law.

What happens once Karzai is replaced? Surely he's the best sort of leader we can hope for in Afhganistan. More disappointments lie in store in Afghanistan for the US in the future.

Get this, his family denounced him as a Christian as part of a custody battle over his two kids. His own parents are battling him in the custody battle. This case has become a means of fighting a larger clash in Afghan politics.

The trial of an Afghan man who is facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity has drawn the battle lines between religious conservatives in the Supreme Court and western diplomats pushing a reformist agenda.

The case comes within days of President Hamid Karzai's unveiling of a new Supreme Court line-up that western donors hope will dilute the power of Islamic hardliners.

Maybe Karzai could approach some major league drug dealers to order their bought-and-paid-for judges to dismiss the case?

More than four years since the fall of the Taliban, the judicial sector remains corrupt, riddled with cronyism linked to the country's $2.8bn (€2.3bn, £1.6bn) drug industry and staffed by ill-educated mullahs tied to illegal militia forces.

Why weren't all the judges dismissed when the Taliban fell?

Update: Allan Wall, back from National Guard duty in Iraq, comments on the Rahmam case.

Italy has troops helping us in both Afghanistan and Iraq (I know, having served for four months as a liaison officer with the Italian Army in Iraq). Italian President Francesco Cossiga has called on his country to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan if Rahman is executed. In the words of the Italian president: "It is not acceptable that our soldiers should put themselves at risk or even sacrifice their lives for a fundamentalist, illiberal regime."

I've done my part in the Middle East. I recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with my National Guard unit. The troops are doing a great job. But it's disheartening to read of an Afghan Christian facing the death penalty, and persecution of Iraq's indigenous Christian minority.

As British Labour MP Alan Simpson asks of the Rahman case, "What sort of democracy are we defending?"

MP Simpson, do you really need to ask? The answer is obvious enough: An illiberal fundamentalist Islamic democracy.

Allan asks whether Bush, in his quest to remake the Middle East, has failed to consider what Islam is really like. Um, that would be a big Yes!

Our president, portrayed by some opponents as a Christian fanatic, will not speak out in behalf of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

In Bush's eagerness to reform the Middle East, has he failed to take into account the realities of Islam?

Referring to the Rahman case, Bush said, "We expect them to honor the universal principle of freedom."

Well, the idea that freedom is a universal principle is a Western liberal conceit. No, it is not a universal principle. No, there is no universal ideology or universal moral code. As we learned with the Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoons the Muslims have a very different moral code. Wall reports that someone converting to Christianity is seen as an intolerable insult.

In Afghanistan, Rahman's own father defends the government's right to execute his son, with the statement that "This is an Islamic country." A neighbor of the family said, "There is no way we are going to allow an Afghan to insult us by becoming Christian ..." The state prosecutor calls Rahman a "microbe" that must be eliminated.

Eliminate a microbe? Stop an intolerable insult? One can not reason with such people using commonly shared values.

By Randall Parker    2006 March 22 09:18 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (13)
2006 February 19 Sunday
Flemming Rose On Why Publish Cartoons Critical Of Islam

Flemming Rose, the Danish newspaper editor who ran the Mohammed cartoons which have angered Muslims to the point of burning down embassies and calling for the death of Danes, says that he decided to run the cartoons because too many people were becoming afraid and he wanted to push back the shrinking limits on critical commentary on Islam.

I agree that the freedom to publish things doesn't mean you publish everything. Jyllands-Posten would not publish pornographic images or graphic details of dead bodies; swear words rarely make it into our pages. So we are not fundamentalists in our support for freedom of expression.

But the cartoon story is different.

Those examples have to do with exercising restraint because of ethical standards and taste; call it editing. By contrast, I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam. And I still believe that this is a topic that we Europeans must confront, challenging moderate Muslims to speak out. The idea wasn't to provoke gratuitously -- and we certainly didn't intend to trigger violent demonstrations throughout the Muslim world. Our goal was simply to push back self-imposed limits on expression that seemed to be closing in tighter.

Rose goes on to list a number of episodes of self and other censorship in Europe done recently due to fears of Muslim violence. Click through and read the whole thing.

Also, Diana Moon of Letter From Gotham links to Stanley Fish on cartoons and naive liberal attempts at dialogue with Muslims.

This is why calls for "dialogue," issued so frequently of late by the pundits with an unbearable smugness -- you can just see them thinking, "What's wrong with these people?" -- are unlikely to fall on receptive ears. The belief in the therapeutic and redemptive force of dialogue depends on the assumption (central to liberalism's theology) that, after all, no idea is worth fighting over to the death and that we can always reach a position of accommodation if only we will sit down and talk it out.

But a firm adherent of a comprehensive religion doesn't want dialogue about his beliefs; he wants those beliefs to prevail. Dialogue is not a tenet in his creed, and invoking it is unlikely to do anything but further persuade him that you have missed the point -- as, indeed, you are pledged to do, so long as liberalism is the name of your faith.

Also see Julian Sanchez's response to the irony of Fish (extreme relativist) sort of defending free speech. But Sanchez makes a mistake in thinking that Muslims are willing to engage sincerely based on liberal assumptions:

He could as easily have put it: "There's just no arguing with these people." And of course, there are people with whom there's no arguing. But Fish is pretty clearly just flat wrong when he suggests that liberal terms of debate aren't cross-applicable for many in the Muslim world. Consider the decision by the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri to hold a contest soliciting cartoons about the Holocaust. Now, if you're like me, you found this a little befuddling initially: First we saw attacks on Danish embassies as a reaction against cartoons printed by a private Danish newspaper, and now the response extends to lampooning Jews? But it does make sense as a way of pointing up the hypocrisy of European governments that bluster about free speech in this case while making it a crime to publish Holocaust deniers. And that's precisely the kind of argument that Fish is suggesting Muslims are bound to reject—that is to say, an argument against double standards for speech depending on the target. More generally, as the French sociologist Olivier Roy has pointed out, Muslims in the West by and large do press their case using the liberal language of individual rights—objecting to France's ban on headscarves in public schools as an infringement on a general freedom of religion, for instance, rather than simply as offenses against the One True Faith. So fortunately, it appears to be empirically false that "there's just no arguing with those people," if "those people" means sincere practicing Muslims in general. But then, that's just, like, my narrative, man.

Illiberals will use liberal assumptions to promote their position when they see an advantage to appealing to liberals using liberal beliefs. But the Iranian government and its government-controlled newspapers do not intend to promote free speech by pointing out European hypocrisy. If they were for free speech they would stop locking up editors and reporters. Rather, the Iranians are trying to push Europeans to restrict speech critical of Islam just as some European countries restrict certain types of speech that is hostile toward Jews. In fact, what the Iranians would prefer would be restrictions on speech critical of Islam but no such restrictions on speech critical of Jews - like what Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Muslim countries have now.

Sanchez's "narrative, man" is probably that libertarianism has universal appeal. My own "narrative" is that this is a foolish assertion.

See a collection of the cartoons and this cartoon collection too.. Also, the Muslim position that it has always been forbidden to draw likenesses of Mohammed is contradicted by the historical record. The Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries. I guess they should go back in a time machine and kill their blasphemous ancestors. Check out more Muslim paintings of Mohammed made in previous centuries.

By Randall Parker    2006 February 19 09:49 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (54)
2006 February 10 Friday
Danimal On Islam, Bars, And A Fallacy Of Composition

I recently came across Sixteen Volts blogger Ilkka Kokkarinen because he linked to an old post of mine. Well he also linked to and apparently collects some of the better the Usenet postings of Danimal (and I have no idea who that is). Danimal says some interesting things about Islam among other topics. Kokkarinen copied a Danimal alt.romance post from September 2004 Danimal argues that just because bar patrons and religious believers could all in theory act in ways that do not cause problems for the rest us in reality certain problems are inevitable outcomes from having lots of bars or lots of Muslims.

But if all the customers only had one beer, the bar would not stay in business. So you've got a fallacy of composition there. The light drinkers are essentially freeloading on the heavy drinkers who keep the bar in business. If it wasn't for the heavy drinkers, there wouldn't be any bar for the light drinkers to enjoy.

Thus it's "quite possible" to enjoy a beer at the local without getting drunk and without being a drunk, but it's not possible for everyone to drink responsibly and have bars like the current ones to drink in.

It's also possible to be an honest lawyer, but the 97% of crooked lawyers give the honest 3% a bad name.

Similarly, it's possible to be a Muslim without being a terrorist, and a Catholic priest without being a pedophile.

But there are things about the structural reality of bars, the legal profession, Islam, and the Catholic priesthood which give rise repeatedly to those problematic behaviors, and which may, despite protestations to the contrary, be "essential" in the sense that if you made the changes necessary to completely stamp out the bad behaviors, the respective institutions would be so fundamentally altered as to have had their historic identity obliterated.

That is, if you found a way to make Islam unappealing to terrorists, the legal profession unappealing to lying crooks, the Catholic priesthood unappealing to gay pedophiles, and bars unappealing to drunks, you would basically have to destroy what each of those things is now.

I agree with this argument. Another analogy to religion fits a bit better: Infectious diseases. Take influenza for example. Some people who are exposed to a virulent strain of influenza do not get sick at all. Others get mildly sick. Some very very sick and some get deathly ill. Still others die from it. Imagine someone saying "Influenza isn't a killer because it does not kill everyone". Or "Smallpox isn't deadly because some people survive it". Some people survive bad ideas too. That doesn't make the ideas into good or neutral ideas. They are still bad.

Some other Danimal posts from Kokkarinen's archive of Danimal Usenet postings:

Even religious fanatics are able to compartmentalize. Consider the Muslim terrorists who believe after they blow up their suicide bombs, they will wake up in paradise with 72 beautiful virgin girls to enjoy deflowering. They can believe all that nonsense, to the point of killing themselves, and yet the same culture has no problem recognizing the AK-47 is a pretty good weapon. They don't reject the AK-47, even though it came from the atheist USSR.

Islam could not have gotten as large as it has if it required its followers to believe the traditional Islamic weapons of sword and spear are superior to automatic firearms. The successful religions have to be careful about how much nonsense with everyday practical impact they require their dupes to believe. The nonsense they promote has to be of a sort that isn't immediately falsifiable, which means they will be open to obvious technological improvements.

But there is a larger, indirect impact that comes from the general disrespect religion fosters for knowledge and free inquiry. The whole Islamic world is somewhat backward like Christian Europe was in the Middle Ages. It would be hard for someone like a young Bill Gates to succeed in, say, Iran, even if he did not directly challenge the religious orthodoxy. As soon as someone used Bill's invention to put up pictures of naked women, he'd be in trouble.

Danimal on the effects of Islam as the overwhelming majority religion:

When a religion gains a 99% majority in any given culture, it gets to demonstrate the true meaning of intolerance. For example, the Catholic Church of several hundred years ago burned scientists at the stake for the crime of observing the motion of planets.

In some of the Muslim nations, 99% religious majorities still exist so the climate for intolerance is especially vibrant there. Women get their fingers amputated for the sin of painting their nails and so on.

This is the natural consequence of elevating imagination to fact. Since imagination has no defense in logic it falls back to violence whenever it can get away with it.

A single Individual holding an illiberal belief has little political impact in a democracy. But make many such individuals into a majority of a country and suddenly the place isn't free any more. When some people say we should judge people solely as individuals they are making a mistake. Individuals also form groups and act as groups. We should ask what happens to a society when it lets in people from another culture or religion who will form groups with characteristics of the culture or religion that is part of their identity. We should not let in individuals who will form groups that will create problems for the existing majority culture.

By Randall Parker    2006 February 10 04:09 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (16)
2006 February 07 Tuesday
West Waking Up To The Clash Of Civilizations

A New York Times article says "West Begining to See Wide Islamic Protests as Sign of Deep Gulf" (and it is good that people are becoming aware of this).

The catalog of Islamic terrorism — from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, to the March 2004 bombings in Madrid and the July 2005 attacks in London — has challenged governments and societies to distinguish between moderates and extremists, like the four British-born Muslims who killed themselves and 52 other people in London.

Ostensibly, said Timothy Garton Ash, an Oxford professor of European history, the clash has pitted two sets of values — freedom of expression and multiculturalism — against each other. Muslim immigrants, initially seen in the 1960's as temporary laborers, have formed permanent and expanding communities.

But beyond that, there is a seething resentment among some Muslims that they are treated as second-class citizens and potential terrorists in lands that deny the importance of their faith, even though the number of Muslims in Europe totals 20 million, and possibly many more.

Note that Ash's formulation puts the conflict in terms of a fight between two Western ideas in Western minds. But to the Middle Eastern Muslims the conflict is between them and those insulting infidels who happen to have much more money and power and who refuse to submit and accept Islam as the moral standard.

The Muslims have lower IQs on average than the white Europeans they live among. Therefore they do worse economically. However, they blame the Europeans rather than their own limits (which are just the product of natural selection) for their failures to compete with the Euros. Both the IQ gap and incompatible beliefs and values are very compelling reasons to keep Muslims out of Europe. But Western elites enforce taboos that prevent the truth from being spoken in mainstream media outlets. They expect us to bow to their bright shining lies rather than believe our own lying eyes. In a way, the corrupt lying elites and the Muslims have something in common: they want us to bow down and submit to their beliefs. The Muslims want our submission to the Koran. The elites want our submission to the secular faith of equality of ability and of multiculturalism.

Some political scoundrels posturing as ethically superior moderate middlemen try to claim that the right wing in Europe is just as unreasonable as the Muslim fundamentalists.

In some assessments, the situation rewards those at the extremes. "Islamic fundamentalists and European right-wingers both enjoy a veritable gift that can be used to ignite fire after fire," said Janne Haaland Matlary, professor of international relations and former deputy foreign minister of Norway.

Australian Janet Albrechtsen says the argument by Western intellectuals that people should not be offended has been translated into incursions on the right to free speech with disastrous results.

It's a bad sign when the cafe set of Europe echoes the Arab street on free speech. A survey by the Khaleej Times in the United Arab Emirates found that most people believed that "freedom of expression is one thing, but it should not be confused with acts of inciting feelings, which is what happened in Denmark".

If inciting feelings has become the new benchmark for free speech, we only have ourselves to blame for that misunderstanding. So many of the incursions on free speech in the West are driven by a well-meaning desire to create a world free of offence. A universal nanny state where all is peace and love, and never a cross word is spoken.

It's an impossible dream. Indeed, it's a nightmare. People invariably differ and it is debate and difference of opinion that drives progress.

We have already gone way too far in restricting free speech in an effort to protect people from offence. Tony Blair's religious hate bill is aimed at protecting Muslim sensibilities. And last week, it was only watered down because the British Prime Minister failed to hang around to vote in the House of Commons. By a single-vote margin, the bill is now free of key clauses that sought to outlaw "abusive and insulting" behaviour inciting religious hatred. But under Blair's bill, these silly cartoons could have been deemed an act of religious hatred.

The Muslims are picking up on Western arguments against free speech and proclaiming how hurt and offended they feel about these cartoons. They are using the position of our intellectual fools against us. I think we should dump the fools from positions of power and reassert our basic rights as non-negotiable.

Claims from Muslims that we should be more sensitive are rich considering the quarters these claims are emanating from. Muslims routinely use cartoons to represent the United States and Israel in extremely insulting terms.

Several of the original Danish cartoons are minted in the same style, beyond lampoon or caricature and well into the realm of pure defamation. Muhammad is seen with a huge knife and a wild thicket of a beard, flanked by two women entirely veiled but for their eyes; worse, and by far the most inflammatory, is one in which his turban holds a ticking bomb. These images confront the highest religious sensitivities of many Muslims with precisely the same style of virulent rage that Islamic countries so carefully, even ritually, cultivate against the two great boogeymen -- the United States and Israel -- of Middle Eastern politics.

But if the right-wingers are just as unreasonable as the Muslims where are all the placards by right wing protest marchers calling for the beheading of all Muslims?

Militants in Iraq have called for the seizure and killing of Danes and the boycott of Danish goods. In London, there were placards demanding the beheading of those who insulted Islam.

Here are pictures of the placard-bearers calling for the death of those who make cartoons of Mohammed. Where are Western right-wingers who are the moral equivalent of those Muslims who want to kill people for exercising their Western right to free speech and free press? Some Westerners are so keen on finding ways to proclaim their moral superiority to other Westerners that even when their interests are threatened by very illiberal non-Westerners the posturing fools can't see beyond the West and notice the importance of the outside other. The fools are parochially intent on claiming the high ground vis a vis other Westerners, insist on treating the problem as being equally the fault of their Western enemies as it is of a foreign hostile religion and ethnic group.

To the extent that the Danish cartoon flap makes more Westerners realize that people in some parts of the world differ importantly in values and in other characteristics the Muslim reaction to the cartoons has important pedagogical value.

What set off this flap? See collections of the cartoons here and here. Also, the Muslim position that it has always been forbidden to draw likenesses of Mohammed is contradicted by the historical record. The Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries. I guess they should go back in a time machine and kill their blasphemous ancestors. Check out more Muslim paintings of Mohammed made in previous centuries.

Update: Lest anyone think that I believe lower average IQ alone is responsible for the state of the Middle Eastern economies and politics see my previous post "Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development". Also see my post "John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq".

By Randall Parker    2006 February 07 10:37 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (86)
2006 February 06 Monday
Supposed Moderate Muslims Try To Claim Moral High Ground

Not to be outdone by mere Arabs with their informal boycotts of Danish goods and recalls of ambassadors an Iranian official has announced a total severing of trade with Denmark over the Mohammed cartoons.

Iran has withdrawn its ambassador to Denmark and Iranian Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said on Monday that all trade with Denmark had been severed because of the cartoons, first published in September in a Danish newspaper.

"All trade ties with Denmark were cut," he was quoted by the Iranian student news agency ISNA as telling a news conference.

I see this as grandstanding. Lots of newspapers in other European countries have now published the cartoons. Why isn't Iran cutting all trade with Germany, Britain, and France? Well, that'd be a lot more expensive for Iran to do, that's why. But little Luxembourg had better watch out. Lichtenstein and other really small places too. Iran can afford to cut trade with smaller countries and it makes for good political theater for dumb Iranian fundamentalists.

The Financial Times points out the obvious: Islamic hardliners see the cartoons as a great opportunity.

The crisis appears to have become a rallying cry for other grievances and a convenient pretext for hardline governments and groups to advance their political agenda.

The severity of the reaction of rioters and Iran's government helps strengthen the hand of self-styled moderate Muslims as they try to claim they hold a reasonable intermediate ground.

Iranian fundamentalist students attacked the Austrian and Danish embassies.

A 300-strong crowd — mainly student members of the Basij militia — torched the facade of a building housing the Austrian Embassy in Tehran and pelted the mission with stones, firecrackers and eggs, smashing all of its windows. Later at night, hundreds of protesters hurled stones and fire bombs at the Danish Embassy but nobody was hurt inside the building as the staff had evacuated.

Denmark told its nationals to avoid Muslim countries. A Foreign Ministry warning, which affects thousands of holidaymakers and business executives, listed 14 countries travelers should avoid. They are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

Muslims who are not crying for massive killing of Danes are trying to claim they are being reasonable and fair even as they reject freedom of the press.

Meanwhile, moderate Muslims condemned protesters who have called for ''a 9/11 against Europe" and other violence. But even moderates insisted deeper blame for the escalating disturbances lies with Western political ideals that place press freedoms and other secular liberties above respect for religion. Jyllands- Posten, the Danish newspaper that commissioned the 12 cartoons, did so as a challenge to local Muslims who had discouraged illustrations of Mohammed from appearing in a children's book.

How dare we think that we do not have to kow tow to Muslim beliefs about what is morally right and wrong.

'Yes, the violence is clearly being manipulated by Muslim extremists," said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, which represents about 400 mosques and Muslim community groups. ''But that doesn't change the genuine hurt and anguish felt by nearly all Muslims.

''This controversy may burn for a very long time unless there is a clear, unequivocal apology from the newspaper editors who have insulted Islam and insulted Muslims," Bunglawala said in an interview from London.

He wants that apology because he wants an admission of moral error. If they win such an admission the Muslims will feel emboldened to claim they have the right to tell us to restrict our freedoms when those freedoms make Muslims feel offended. Well, I have news for the Muslims: I feel offended by the existence of a religion that would seek to violate my basic rights. I think they have a moral obligation to reject their own religion so that my rights will be better protected from moral beliefs that I see as abhorrent.

Turkey's foreign minister is trying to strike a posture of moderation even as he claims we have to restrict our freedom of the press for the benefit of his feelings.

The prime ministers of Spain and Turkey issued a Christian-Muslim appeal for calm, saying, "We shall all be the losers if we fail to immediately defuse this situation."

But Turkey’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that media freedoms cannot be limitless and that hostility against Muslims is replacing anti-Semitism in the West.

Even the so-called moderate Muslims want the Danish paper to admit to moral wrong. The "moderate" Muslims want to establish that they hold the moral high ground, They want us to accept that it is morally wrong to make fun of the founder of their religion. They also want us to accept that since they believe that it is morally wrong to draw their founder we should believe it too. They want their feelings to have primacy. They want their claims of hurt feelings to be reason we should accept their definition of what is morally right and morally wrong. Well, we have enough people in the West who think that hurt feelings are a measure of wrongness done that the Muslims stand a chance of succeeding. This would set a very bad precedent.

Steve Sailer has some excellent insights into the West vs. Islam cartoon battle. Steve says Northwest Europeans are constitutionally (and by that I'm talking human brain, not documents) reluctant to assert their rights and that is why a rights-based system can work in the West.

In a culture like Iraq's where everyone is constantly asserting his and his family's rights at the top of his lungs, it's hard for anyone to have rights if anything is to get done. In a culture like England's where each individual is reticent about asserting his rights or the rights of his family or clan, it's much easier for everyone to have rights.

You can see the problem that then develops when people from the in-your-face end of the gradient immigrate to the feel-your-pain countries. When immigrants bring their Middle Eastern hostility and assertiveness, the natives in the northwest are reluctant to vocally protest right back at them, because, well, it's just not done. They just give them That Look that causes their fellow Northwest Europeans to feel guilty that they've caused their neighbors discomfort. But it doesn't work on the Middle Easterners. They just see the failure of the natives to do anything substantial as proof of their bland white bread inferiority.

But the truly catastrophic problem for the Northwesterners is that their empathy and politeness makes it very difficult for them to publicly discuss the problems that immigration of Middle Easterners causes for them. To say out loud, "Maybe we shouldn't let in more of these people," is seen as being rude toward the people we've already let in. The ones that are already there will get angry and cause a scene, which we just can't bear, so we'd better just not talk about immigration policy at all.

Of course, that means the problem just keeps getting worse.

Now, the Japanese get around this problem by not letting in immigrants at all, not even perfectly pleasant Filipinos. Instead, they build robots and program them to act like Japanese, which is a lot easier on the Japanese and their fragile emotions.

But we are also too reluctant to assert our rights in the face of aggressive Middle Eastern Muslims. I've overcome my own tendencies toward shyness because I think too much is at stake. We simply have to state uncomfortable and impolite truths. Islam is horrible religion that is incompatible with Western society. Middle Easterners have lower IQs than Europeans and they are too dumb to run industrialized countries or to have functioning democracies or to understand just how idiotic and contradictory their religion really is. We need to separate ourselves from them at least until genetic engineering provides a way to make them smarter.

By Randall Parker    2006 February 06 10:25 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2006 February 04 Saturday
Embassies Burn In Syria As Embassies Attacked Elsewhere By Muslims

Some might see this as an example of the power of cartoons. I flash on David Byrne singing "Burning Down The House".

Syrian police using water cannon and tear gas fought pitched battles with stone-throwing protestors into Saturday evening.

Witnesses said that groups of protestors broke into the Danish embassy and used furniture from the offices to start fires which spread to the entire three-storey building. The building also houses the Swedish and Chilean embassies.

The embassies were closed at the time of the attacks and there were no reports of casualties at either building.

The Gaza Strip was also the scene of angry attacks on European diplomatic missions on Saturday. Around a dozen men, many of them masked, threw missiles at the German consulate office - which was closed at the time - while protestors also managed to hoist a Palestinian flag above the European Union's offices next door.

After burning the Danish embassy the rioters moved on to burn the Norwegian embassy.

Demonstrators later stormed the Norwegian embassy in Damascus, which is housed in a different building. According to the AFP news bureau 11 demonstrators were injured when the Syrian police tried to keep them away from the building. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry says the building burned to the ground.

The rioting was sparked by text messages that made false claims that the Danes were able to start burning Korans.

"Denmark wants to burn the sacred Koran Saturday in Copenhagen in response to the Muslim boycott" of Danish products, the message in Egypt said, calling on Muslims to curse the Danish.

"Send (this message on) and you will be rewarded," the text said.

The Syrian rioters tried but failed to burn the French embassy in Damascus.

Denmark and Norway condemned Syria for failing its international obligations and urged their citizens to leave.

Demonstrators also tried to storm the French mission, but were stopped.

Muslim protestors in London hate free speech even as they use their right to free speech (and there's a lesson to be learned from that fact).

The 400 or so protesters, including a group of women in burqas, waved placards bearing slogans such as "Behead the one who insults the prophet" and "Free speech go to hell".

The demonstrators, who also passed the French and German embassies, burned flags and threatened fresh terrorist attacks in revenge for the cartoons.

These 400 protesters strike me as people who belong on the top of a deportation list.

Burning down embassies is par for the course in the Middle East. A month ago Britain, Canada, and Australia closed their embassies in Amman Jordan due to some attack threat. More recently a mob tried to attack the Danish Embassy in Jakarta Indonesia which happens to be in the 25th floor of a building.

Up to 300 militant Indonesian Muslims went on a rampage inside the lobby of a Jakarta building housing the Danish embassy on Friday in protest over cartoons that Muslims say insult Islam and the Prophet Mohammad.

Imagine that mob had succeeded. Can buildings tens of stories high (which haven't been hit by a jumbo jet piloted by Muslim extremists) burn down or do they have sufficient fire control equipment to stop fires from getting out of control?

Muslim protestors in London want to kill everyone in Denmark.

Yesterday there was another protest in London involving hundreds of demonstrators chanting "Kill, kill Denmark!" They burned the Denmark flag and converged on the embassy.

Muslim immigration is bad. Why should the Brits or the Danes or, for that matter, the Dutch, Germans, or French have to have foreign cultures in their midst that reject their societies? Did the Europeans do something to deserve "getting hit on the head lessons"? Or are their leaders traitors to their own cultures?

If you haven't seen this yet Michelle Malkin has pictures of Muslim protestors in London England. Their signs include "Freedom Go To Hell", "Be Prepared for the Real Holocaust", "Behead Those Who Insult Islam", "Massacre Those Who Insult Islam", "Exterminate Those Who Insult Islam", "Annihilate Those Who Insult Islam", and "Europe You Will Pay, Demolition Is On Its Way". These people are not British in belief. They are not British in their political loyalties. They are not friendly toward what Britain represents. Why are they in Britain?

The fuss is all about these cartoons or these cartoons. Here are the 12 Danish cartoons about Islam and Mohammed that have the Muslims trying to oppress us. Yet Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries.

Want to understand the Danish cartoon conflict in a nutshell? Muslims hold other values ahead of freedom and that is the key thing you must understand about them.

Summing up the cultural rift between Islam and the West, imam Ahmed Abu Laban told worshippers at Friday prayers in a Copenhagen mosque: “In the West, freedom of speech is sacred; To us, the prophet is sacred.”

I think it speaks volumes about the Muslims that they can get all upset about how the Danes are terrible. The Danes! We are talking about the Danes. Denmark. The mind boggles. When was the last time the Danes did anything seriously harmful to humanity? People who target the Danes are a little people, a silly people - greedy, barbarous, and cruel.

Update: Muslim rioters burned down the Danish Consulate in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut.

BEIRUT, Feb. 5 — Protesters angry over European drawings of the Prophet Muhammad attacked a building housing the Danish Consulate here early today, setting it afire and clashing with Lebanese security forces just a day after protesters in Syria set fire to the Danish and Norwegian Embassies in Damascus.

The rioters also attacked Christian buildings.

But in the streets, fistfights broke out between Christian and Muslim Lebanese, after protesters threw rocks at a Maronite Catholic Church, broke windows at the Lebanese Red Cross office and shattered windshields of cars. Bands of Christian youths congregated with sticks and iron bars, promising to defend their neighborhoods.

One leaflet circulating in Beirut called Muslims to action to defend against a supposed US war against Islam.

"What are you going to do?" asked a leaflet circulated in Beirut that called for Sunday's protest.

"Bush and his group have invaded and are fighting wars by all means available," it added. "Their goal: destroying the Islamic nation ideologically and economically and stealing and looting its resources."

Lebanon is no stranger to political violence, having endured a 15 year civil war that ended only in 1990. A group claiming to be part of Al Qaeda just blew up a bomb near a Lebanese army barracks 3 days ago.

Beirut, Lebanon - A bomb exploded near a Lebanese army barracks in Beirut early on Thursday, shortly after a purported threat by al-Qaeda to attack security installations in Lebanon.

The group is protesting that some of it members were arrested several weeks ago.

Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah has not disarmed since the end of the civil war.

ALONG the shabby streets of the overcrowded and impoverished Hezbollah stronghold of Haret Hreik, in south Beirut, there is unflinching support for the right of the militant Lebanese Shia group to bear arms and for its allegiance to Syria.

"So what if Hezbollah is with the Syrian regime? We are Arabs, not American-lovers like the Lebanese who are calling for Hezbollah's disarmament," said Ibrahim Khatib, a 23-year-old biology student, as he waited for a taxi.

The split between Hezbollah and non-Shiite Lebanese widened as a result of the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

The powerful Shi'ite organisation, which has a vast social network and sizeable parliamentary bloc, has become alienated from the swath of public opinion that holds Syria responsible for the February 14 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and a string of killings in Lebanon since then.

The Danish cartoon flap is deepening internal divisions within Lebanese society.

By Randall Parker    2006 February 04 07:41 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (50)
2006 February 03 Friday
US And British Governments Side With Muslims Over Cartoons

Do not expect the governments of America and Britain to defend our right to free speech against Muslim theocrats. The US State Department of the Bush Administration would prefer that the press not run material that is offensive to Muslims.

In its first comment on the furore, the State Department said: "These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims."

Answering a reporter's question, its spokesman, Kurtis Cooper, said: "We all fully respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable."

US State Department press officer Janelle Hironimus says publishing cartoons that portray Islam's founder as a terrorist is unacceptable.

"Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable," Hironimus said. "We call for tolerance and respect for all communities and for their religious beliefs and practices."

Mohammed was a conqueror who killed lots of people. He wasn't a nice tolerant guy.

Brussels Journal (which has great coverage) points to the pathetic British government reaction. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw says the press should not publish things that will upset Muslims.

"I believe that the republication of these cartoons has been insulting, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong.

"There are taboos in every religion. It is not the case that there is open season in respect of all aspects of Christian rites and rituals in the name of free speech.

"Nor is it the case that there is open season in respect of rights and rituals of the Jewish religion, the Hindu religion, the Sikh religion.

"It should not be the case in respect of the Islamic religion either.

"We have to be very careful about showing the proper respect in this situation."

At the risk of stating the obvious, multiculturalism is intellectually and morally bankrupt. That the governments and populaces of Muslim countries can respond angrily in so many ways to some cartoons in a Danish newspaper speaks to the size of the conflict in values between major groups of societies in this world. But our "leaders" do not want us to know this.

The problem isn't the cartoons. The problem is that governments of Western countries have allowed people into our midst who think like these Regent's Park mosque Muslims.

Demonstrators marched from Regent's Park mosque, London, to the Danish embassy, with banners reading: "Kill the one who insults the Prophet" and "The only way this will be resolved, is if those who are responsible are turned over so they can be punished by Islamic law, so that they can be executed".

Predictably the Catholic Church is not rushing to defend freedom of speech either.

Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, a retired Vatican diplomat, said: "Freedom is a great virtue but it must be shared and it must not be unilateral. Freedom of satire that offends the feelings of others becomes an abuse, and here we are talking about nothing less than the feelings of entire peoples who have seen their supreme symbols affected."

Freedom must be shared? It must not be unilateral? Just what is this fool trying to say? How does publishing cartoons un-"share" freedom? Again, unilateral? The Catholic Church just wants its own beliefs immune from insults, jokes, and mockery.

The elites want the Western masses to be nice and quiet while the elites pursue their elite interests at the expense of the masses.

Another US State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, had marginally better things to say about the current Danish cartoon flap.

"We find them offensive. And we certainly understand why Muslims would find those images offensive," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in his daily press briefing February 3.

"At the same time, we vigorously defend the right of individuals" to express views that the U.S. government may disagree with or condemn, he added.

"For us, freedom of expression is at the core of our democracy. And it is something that we have shed blood and treasure around the world to defend, and we will continue to do so," McCormack said.

But then the State Department writer and McCormack get confused.

One of the offending cartoons, originally published in Denmark, depicts the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb. Islam bans visual images of the prophet. Muslims around the world have condemned the cartoons, saying they fuel a prejudice that equates Islam with terrorism.

Cartoons are fueling that prejudice? The Muslim reaction to the cartoons with calls to kill the cartoonists, death threats against editors, bomb threats against newspaper offices, massive boycotts, demands for suppression of freedom of speech, and their other actions in response to the cartoons show that prejudices against Islam are very well founded. The cartoons describe a real truth about the people in Muslim societies.

"[W]e would urge all parties to exercise maximum degree of understanding, the maximum degree of tolerance when they talk about this issue," McCormack said. He added that anti-Muslim images are as offensive as anti-Semitic and anti-Christian images and he expressed the hope that people would speak out with equal vigor against such images.

Anti-Muslim images that show Muslims as oppressive and violent convey a great deal of truth. Suppressing those images therefore suppresses the truth.

However, an even bigger issue is at stake. Why should religions be on some pedestal immune from criticism? We criticise secular belief systems. We make fun of, mock, deride, insult, and otherwise attack secular belief systems. Listen to Democrats talking about Republicans or vice versa. Listen to criticism of fascism or communism. Religious beliefs are just as much factors in forming political beliefs as are secular beliefs. Religion matters in politics. Religions should have no special immunity from criticism. Religious believers should not have immunity from criticism. They've provided us with plenty of reasons to criticise them. For our best interests we need to be able to do so, and that holds true especially for Islam.

Update: Muslims hold other values ahead of freedom and that is the key thing you must understand about them.

Summing up the cultural rift between Islam and the West, imam Ahmed Abu Laban told worshippers at Friday prayers in a Copenhagen mosque: “In the West, freedom of speech is sacred; To us, the prophet is sacred.”

Muslim immigrants are incompatible with a free society. They do not want us to look at these cartoons or these cartoons.

Update II: While some European leaders defend the right to freedom of speech the Catholic Church sides against any criticism of religions that causes some of the believers to feel insulted.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said she understood Muslims were hurt, though that did not justify violence.

''Freedom of the press is one of the great assets as a component of democracy, but we also have the value and asset of freedom of religion," Merkel told an international security conference in Munich.

The Vatican deplored the violence but said certain provocative forms of criticism were unacceptable. ''The right to freedom of thought and expression . . . cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers," the Vatican said in its first statement on the controversy.

So basically the Vatican is illiberal to the core. Glad they stood up to be counted so we know where they stand: in the ranks of the enemy.

By Randall Parker    2006 February 03 10:56 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (141)
2006 February 02 Thursday
Muslims Huff And Puff Over Cartoons And EU Mandarins Appease

Some EU mandarins do not like the decision of a Danish newspaper to publish cartoons which made fun of Islam's founder Mohammed.

The EU also entered the fray. Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner, said that newspapers had been deliberately provocative in republishing the drawings. Franco Frattini, the EU justice commissioner, said that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten had been "imprudent" to publish the 12 cartoons on September 30. Publication was wrong, he said, "even if the satire used was aimed at a distorted interpretation of religion, such as that used by terrorists to recruit young people, sometimes to the point of sending them into action as suicide bombers".

Even Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, was drawn into the debate, saying that freedom of the press should not be an excuse for insulting religions.

But not everyone was acquiescent. France's interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, said he preferred "an excess of caricature to an excess of censure".

But some European newspapers have awakened to the fact that an important principle is at stake.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung went further, calling for the caricatures to be published in as many newspapers as possible. Urging "Europe-wide solidarity", it said: "Religious fundamentalists who do not respect the difference between satire and blasphemy have a problem not only with Denmark, but with the entire western world."

F.A.Z. doesn't go far enough. It should be entirely legal to blaspheme. So what if there is a difference between satire and blasphemy. That should be irrelevant.

In Britain the Labour government lost by 1 vote in an attempt to outlaw insults to religions. I think it should be perfectly legal to state that you hate a religion and to encourage others to hate it too. But in a close vote a religious hatred law almost passed the British House of Commons.

Austria's Foreign Minister is not being helpful either.

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said EU leaders have a responsibility to "clearly condemn" insults to any religion.

No Ursula, EU leaders do not have a responsibility to condemn insults to religions. We should be free to insult religions and say things that religious believers see as blasphemy.

A group of Muslims from Denmark went on a trip to the Middle East to drum up anger at the cartoons.

The cartoons row grew yesterday with sharp questions asked about a group of Danish imams who toured the Middle East denouncing their own country for allowing images of the Prophet Mohammed to be published.

The group created a 43-page dossier on what they said was rampant racism and Islamophobia in Denmark and took it to politicians and leading clerics in Egypt and Lebanon in a series of trips late last year.

Ahmed Akkari, a Muslim who lives in Copenhagen Denmark, is a spokesman for the Muslims who toured the Middle East drumming up anger at the cartoons. Akkari sees the killing of Theo van Gogh for his anti-Islam film Submission as "punishment".

Mr Akkari is the spokesman for a group of Danish imams and activists who brought the cartoons - plus three more offensive ones from an unknown source - to the wider attention of Muslims in trips to Egypt and Lebanon. One of the three new cartoons shows Mohammed with a pig's snout.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Akkari referred to the murder of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands in 2004. Mr van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death by a Muslim extremist as "punishment" for making a film about the repression of Muslim women that included images of naked women with Koranic verses on their skin.

The Danes ought to deport Akkari.

My definition of "Islamophobia": The recognition that Islam is incompatible with the Western notions of freedom of speech, press, and religion and the recognition that a significant Muslim minority in a country is a recipe for trouble.

EU workers who try to improve the lives of Palestinians are now in danger of getting kidnapped or killed.

A European Commission spokeswoman said: “Colleagues working in the region are usually there to try to improve the lot of Palestinian people, and those who make the threats should bear that in mind. We oppose all use of violence.”

In Pakistan 400 Muslim students shouted “Death to Denmark” and “Death to France”. They burnt Danish and French flags and an effigy of the Danish Prime Minister. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of Pakistan’s main alliance of Islamic parties, said: “We have called for countrywide protests on Friday.”

Lesson: Do not try to help people who are not going to feel gratitude.

Danes, Norwegians, and French people would be wise to leave the West Bank and Gaza.

Two armed Palestinian groups have threatened to target Danes, Norwegians and French nationals in the Middle East.

“All nationals and those who work in the diplomatic corps of these countries can be considered targets of the Popular Resistance Committee and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades,” the groups warned.

Finnish Muslims are boycotting Danish products.

Khodr Chehab, the imam of the Islamic Society of Finland, told the Finnish News Agency (STT) on Wednesday that the depictions of the prophet Muhammed printed by Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in September were meant to offend Muslims.

...

Mr Chehab added that Finnish Muslims had already initiated a boycott of Danish products.

"This boycott is already taking place. All the Muslims, or lets say the majority of Muslims, in Finland are already boycotting Danish products."

I wonder if any Danish Muslims are doing their shopping in Sweden or Germany.

In Qatar foreigners are maintaining some demand for Danish products.

However, medium and smaller foodstuff outlets and grocery stores played down the boycott call given by Islamic scholars and said that foreigners were still demanding Danish products, especially butter, cheese and milk.

Smaller grocery stores said they did get enquiries about Danish products, but could not afford to remove Danish products from their shelves due to demand, particularly from non-Arabs, including Muslims.

Palestinians might start killing Danes, French, and Norwegians in their midst.

Gunmen in the West Bank city of Nablus entered four hotels to search for foreigners to abduct and warned their owners not to host guests from several European countries. Gunmen said they were also searching apartments in Nablus for Europeans.

Militants in Gaza said they would shut down media offices from France, Norway, Denmark and Germany, singling out the French news agency Agence France Presse.

"Any citizens of these countries, who are present in Gaza, will put themselves in danger," a Fatah-affiliated gunman said outside the EU Commission's office in Gaza, flanked by two masked men holding rifles.

If the European governments don't apologize by Thursday evening, "any visitor of these countries will be targeted," he said.

Europeans take note. Islamist and Prime Minister of Turkey Erdogan thinks that freedom of speech should not include freedom to insult Islam.

But the principle of freedom of speech was targeted by Egypt's Mubarak, who was quoted Thursday as saying that freedom of speech must not be used as an excuse to insult religious beliefs.

His views were echoed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who condemned the cartoons as an attack on the spiritual and moral values of Muslims and said during a meeting with French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy in Ankara that the freedom of the press must have limits, Turkey's Andalou news agency reported.

If Turkey is admitted to the EU it will some day become the biggest population in the EU. Do Europeans want such an illiberal country in the EU?

Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper whose publishing of the cartoons about Islam and Mohammed started off the latest escalation of conflict between Islam and the West, is the highest circulation newspaper in Denmark. The Jyllands-Posten political editor, Joern Mikkelsen, says that publishing the cartoons was worth it.

For his part, Mikkelsen also seemed at relative ease on Wednesday, at least given the stakes the crisis could have for Denmark's image abroad. It may be seen as a pariah in the Arab world, but the conservative Jyllands-Posten will be seen by some now as a trailblazer in the fight freedom of the press. "Was it worth it?" Mikkelsen asked rhetorically and pausing briefly before answering: "Yes, it was worth it."

Mikkelsen said the subsequent debate over who is or isn't entitled to criticize a religion only served to further legitimize his paper's decision to run the comics.

Mikkelsen said the paper had not violated ethics or even the law, but it had nevertheless apologized to all those who were offended by the caricatures. "Of course you can ask yourself if the drawings were a bit naive," he concedes. "But in the end, this doesn't have to do with the pictures anymore -- I mean, who has even seen them?" Instead, the issue has been transformed into a conflict of civilizations.

The Jyllands-Posten staff have evacuated their building multiple times due to bomb threats. The staff of the Norwegian publication Magazinet get death threats and their editor is under police protection. I wonder how many people in Europe are now under police protection due to Muslim death threats. At least several Dutch politicians are under police protection from Muslims.

Europeans, recent events are nature's way of telling you that you need to get your Muslims on outbound airplances. Europeans should pay Muslims to leave. Steve Sailer says his immigrant buy-out scheme could work. One fellow has proposed how to structure the scheme to get Muslims to leave.

Update: Michelle Malkin has pictures of Muslim protestors in London England. Their signs include "Freedom Go To Hell", "Be Prepared for the Real Holocaust", "Behead Those Who Insult Islam", "Massacre Those Who Insult Islam", "Exterminate Those Who Insult Islam", "Annihilate Those Who Insult Islam", and "Europe You Will Pay, Demolition Is On Its Way". I think mass deportation should be on its way.

Update II: The Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries.

By Randall Parker    2006 February 02 11:07 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (62)
Time To Buy Danish Products To Counteract Muslim Boycott

Muslims are boycotting Danish products (and Norwegian products to a lesser extent) in response to cartoons critical of Islam which ran in a Danish newspaper in September 2005.

Other Danish companies targeted in the boycott include Lego, the toymaker, and Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceuticals company.

As popular protests spread, the leaders of Egypt and Afghanistan warned the cartoonshad offended millions of Muslims and could be exploited by terrorists in their war against the west.

“Any insult to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) is an insult to more than 1bn Muslims and an act like this must never be allowed to be repeated,” said Hamid Karzai, Afghan president, strong western ally and moderate Muslim leader.

I loved Lego when I was a kid.

Europeans see a double standard in what the Arabic TV channels show.

A number of European papers, including Germany's Die Welt, Spain's El Periodico, the Netherlands' de Volkskrant and Italy's La Stampa, then responded by republishing the drawings in support of the principle of free expression. "I don't really understand the fuss," Die Welt editor Roger Köppel, who ran one on his front page today, told German television. "Arabic television has shown beheadings and staged bestial rituals involving Jewish rabbis. We're seeing double standards at work here, and it's the job of journalists to expose them." Larry Kilman, communications director of the World Association of Newspapers, says the "overreaction in the Middle East is disturbing."

Well, no kidding. But that double standard is because Islam teaches that Muslims should rule and Muslims should not have to compromise with non-believers.

Danish dairy company Arla, a big exporter to the Middle East, is laying off workers due to a collapse in Middle Eastern demand for Danish dairy products.

A leading Danish exporter to Arab countries yesterday announced its first job cuts in reaction to a boycott of the Scandinavian country's goods.

Arla Foods, Europe's second-largest dairy company, said it would lay off 125 staff in its northern Danish factories, adding that a further 40 people would see their working hours reduced.

"We will lay off, from tomorrow, 125 people working in dairy factories in Bislev, near Aalborg" in northern Denmark, spokeswoman Astrid Nilsen for Arla Food said.

Arla Foods, a co-operative owned by some 11,600 milk producers in Denmark and Sweden, is Europe's second-largest dairy company.

It is also Denmark's biggest exporter to Arab countries, accounting for one-third of total Danish exports there.

All of Arla's orders to the Middle East have been cancelled.

All Arla’s customers in the region have cancelled their orders and sales have come to a standstill in almost all markets. Arla’s warehouses are full, and further products sent before the boycott started are on their way from Denmark. Within the next few days, Arla will decide whether to suspend production for the Middle East.

That is a pretty complete boycott.

But many Arabs can't be bothered to figure out which products are Danish and so the boycott is falling more widely..

JEDDAH, 31 January 2006 — Quick, which of these three products is Danish: NIDO milk, Kinder chocolate, or Anchor dairy?

The answer is none of the above.

Many international brands have become targets of the recent boycott of Danish products, thanks to the confusion of consumers caused in part by the misinformation distributed by the proponents of the ban.

You beer drinkers have two easy ways to support Denmark: Drink Carlsberg and Tuborg.

Some sites have produced lists of Danish goods available in the U.S., including Arla cheeses (Rosenborg, Dofino and Mediterra), toys (Lego) and beer (Carlsberg, Tuborg).

I went digging for more Danish companies and products. In the market for some stereo equipment? Check out Danish company Bang & Olufsen for speakers, telephones, stereos, and video systems. See Bang & Olufsen on Froogle Google for mail order stereo equipment. Going to do some painting? Danish company Hempel makes paints and surface coatings. How about some Danish furniture? Need lighting? Le Klint has all sorts of stylish light fixtures. Or you could buy jewelry or sunglasses by Georg Jensen. That's a pricey luxury brand. Check out Georg Jensen on Froogle Google. Or go to the Danish Art & Christmas Shop and buy products that will ship directly from Denmark. In Oakland California Nordic House does mail order shipments of food, candy, chocolate, cookware, mugs, and other things Danish.

In supermarkets one can easily buy Danish. I see Danish Havarti cheeses in a nearby supermarket and have enjoyed Havarti with garlic and herb and also the dill Havarti. Here is a list of Danish cheeses including Danablu and Danish Fontina. Check out the Wikipedia entries on Danish Blue (Danablu) and Danish Tilsit.

If you have any more ideas for ways to buy Danish products please post them in the comments for this post.

Update: See Paul Belien's Take Note Cardiff: We Are All Danes Now.

Update II: Michelle Malkin has an extensive list of Danish products.

What has the religious pox on humanity gotten so upset about to stop buying Danish products? Cartoons. Just cartoons.

Update III: The Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries.

By Randall Parker    2006 February 02 08:31 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (79)
2006 February 01 Wednesday
The Danish Anti-Muslim Cartoon Flap Keeps Growing

Some cartoons in a Danish newspaper that showed Islam's founder Mohammed as a terrorist with a bomb in his turban have got Arab governments protesting and Muslims enraged. Ho hum, and so what is new here? Anyway, a French newspaper's editor decided to run the cartoons to support the right of freedom of expression.

PARIS, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A French newspaper waded into an international storm over freedom of expression vs. respecting religious beliefs by printing Wednesday all 12 controversial Danish cartoons spoofing the Prophet Mohammed.

"Yes," the newspaper, France-Soir, declared on its front page, "One has the right to make fun of God." Underneath, it offered its own cartoon showing Jesus, Jehovah, Buddha and an upset Mohammed sitting on a cloud. "Don't whine," Jesus is telling the Muslim prophet, "We've all been made fun of here."

In an editorial, France-Soir said it was simply doing its job by printing the cartoons, which first ran in the Danish Jyllands-Posten daily last September.

The French newspaper denounced "this religious intolerance that refuses to support any mockery, any satire, any gibes." And the newspaper derided a motley assortment of critics of the cartoon -- ranging from Arab ministers who called the cartoons an "offense to Islam," to the Islamic Jihad and other extremist groups -- as hardly the "paragons of tolerance, humanity and democracy."

But the owner of the French newspaper fired the editor who ran the cartoons.

France-Soir owner Raymond Lakah said in a statement to the agency that he "decided to remove Jacques Lefranc as managing director of the publication as a powerful sign of respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual."

"We express our regrets to the Muslim community and all people who were shocked by the publication" of the cartoons, the statement added.

Appeasement is not the solution.

However, other European newspapers are also running the cartoons.

PARIS, Feb. 1 -- Newspapers across Europe reprinted cartoons Wednesday ridiculing the prophet Muhammad, saying they wanted to support the right of Danish and Norwegian papers to publish the caricatures, which have ignited fury among Muslims throughout the world.

Germany's Die Welt daily newspaper published one of the drawings on its front page and said the "right to blasphemy" is one of the freedoms of democracy.

...

Italy's La Stampa newspaper and the daily El Periodico in Spain also published some of the drawings Wednesday.

The Muslims keep upping the ante.

Although the newspaper on Monday issued an apology for having offended Muslims throughout the world, the conflict between Denmark and the Arab world is ever-mounting: Arab countries have ordered home their Danish ambassadors, Danish products are being boycotted in several Muslim-dominated countries, and Danish and Norwegian flags are being burned on sidewalks all over the Middle East.

On Monday, a group of armed Palestinians stormed a European Union office in the Gaza strip, a day after al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades distributed flyers urging Scandinavians to leave the area within 72 hours.

Right-wing Danish lawmakers have apparently decided to hit back, with racist propaganda there making it into the media daily.

"All countries in the West are infiltrated by Muslims. They are nice to us while they wait until they are enough to kill us," said Mogens Camre, a MEP from the right-wing Danish People's Party, or DVP.

The previous article is on the question of whether Islamophobia is on the rise in Europe. Well, duh, of course it is. Every incident like the cartoons ends up stoking far more Islamophobia due to the Muslim reaction than the actual cartoon or original statement that made the Muslims upset in the first place. The Muslims keep insisting they have a right to scare everyone else into submission. Surely with each such flap more people notice what the Muslims keep saying and the vehemence with which they say it. Then the occasional train or bus bomb drives home the point like a loud exclamation point.

I like Steve Sailer's idea that Europe's governments should pay their Muslims to leave. The illegals can just get deported. But the rest can get money offers to exit the European stage.

Are the Muslims winning with their intimidation?

In Denmark, Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands-Posten, yesterday said opponents of free expression had won.

"My guess is that no-one will draw the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark in the next generation and therefore I must say with deep shame that they have won," he said.

Anyone have a link to English language translations of these cartoons?

Reminding me why it has been a long time since I liked a US President Bill Clinton has sided with the Muslims as their boycott has grown.

Supermarkets in Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen all removed Danish produce from their shelves. Arla Foods, a Danish company with annual sales of about $430 million in the Middle East, said that the boycott was almost total and suspended production in Saudi Arabia.

The Muslim Council of Britain, whose leaders are to meet the Danish ambassador tomorrow, deplored the newspapers’ refusal to apologise for printing “sacrilegious cartoons vilifying the Prophet Muhammad”.

Bill Clinton, the former US President, added his voice, telling a conference in Qatar that he feared anti-Semitism would be replaced with anti-Islamic prejudice. He condemned “these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam”.

Well, I'd like to see more European newspapers run cartoons that make fun of Islam. Then maybe the Muslims would totally boycott the European Union and the Euros could shut down all flights to the Middle East except flights to deport Muslims.

Writing in The Forward Danish Jew Jeffry Mallow says Danes see the Muslim reaction as an attempt to impose Muslim religious law on Danes.

It doesn't help that Muslims — both here and in the Middle East — seem to many Danes to be demanding more than just respect. Most Danes agree that it's unfair to depict the prophet of Islam as a mad bomber. But many public voices in the Arab and Muslim press are going further: They want Denmark and the West to honor the Muslim religious ban on any depictions of Muhammad. That raises images of imposing Sharia law on Denmark, a country that guards its freedom of expression almost — well, religiously. Besides, as one observer noted this week, Jewish religious law forbids the depiction of God, but Jews don't boycott Italy for Michelangelo's "Creation."

Denmark, like France, Great Britain and the Netherlands, is finally being forced to face the question of just what it means to be an immigrant. Does it mean accepting the culture of one's adopted homeland, keeping one's own roots as long as they don't violate the law? Or does it mean, "Thanks for a piece of your territory, and now I will teach you — or force you — to live by my norms"? And what's a free society to do about it?

Do not allow in immigrants who are incompatible with your culture. Muslim immigration is bad. It is time to stop it and reverse it.

See some of the cartoons here. More complete collections are available here and here. Pretty boring stuff. But enough to make Muslims go nuts.

Update: The Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries. I guess they should go back in a time machine and kill their blasphemous ancestors. Check out more Muslim paintings of Mohammed made in previous centuries.

Update II: Wikipedia has an excellent account of the whole Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons saga.

By Randall Parker    2006 February 01 10:19 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (303)
2006 January 01 Sunday
Turk On Trial In Turkey For Insulting Turkishness

Talk about Turks killing Armenians during World War I is forbidden in Turkey.

Turkey's best-known novelist, Orhan Pamuk, faces criminal charges and the prospect of time in jail. His crime? Publicly insulting Turkish identity. Pamuk, in an interview published in February, said that "30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares talk about it."

Those words constitute a criminal violation of Article 301 of Turkey's penal code. The charges that have landed Pamuk in court highlight a fast-approaching day of reckoning for Turkey. The nation has been unwilling and unable to confront its past and that clouds its future. Turkey wants to join the European Union, but the prospects for that are jeopardized by its failure to allow freedom of expression.

Pamuk will not be tried for insulting the Turkish military (though he violated that law too). But he will be tried for insulting "Turkishness".

Turkish prosecutors have dropped their case against novelist Orhan Pamuk for allegedly insulting Turkey's armed forces, but the writer still faces charges that he insulted "Turkishness."

Pamuk's case has become a hot potato in Turkey getting passed around Turkey's ruling elite. A judge has decided to force the elected government to decide whether to go ahead with the trial.

The lose-lose scenario became clear this week when a judge kicked the case against Orhan Pamuk back to the country's Justice Ministry, demanding that the government first approve it.

...

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his Cabinet will discuss the case Monday — analysts say the government likely will recommend that the case be dropped — but it is clearly an issue the government was trying to avoid.

Erdogan's Muslim religious party is between a rock and a hard place. They want to prosecute Pamuk. But they also want to gain admission to the European Union. The EU ought to take a hard look at a country that would prosecute someone for such an insult and realize that such a country is too unlike the existing EU members to warrant admission.

To many nationalists, Pamuk's remarks were especially upsetting because they were made to a foreign newspaper.

"To the great majority of the Turkish people Pamuk is a heretic," said Duygu Bazoglu Sezer, a professor of political science at Ankara's Bilkent University.

Erdogan's party's gut reaction is to oppose "what they would call a slur on Turkish identity," she said.

"The more pressure that came domestically and internationally the more confused (the government) became," she said.

Once Turkey makes it into the EU will Turkey's government become more repressive? Once they no longer have to worry about being rejected by the EU will they feel less constrained to pursue their preferred domestic policies?

By Randall Parker    2006 January 01 01:34 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2005 December 04 Sunday
Battle In Turkey Between Liberalizers And Existing Order

Turkish Armenians are not allowed to insult Turks in history.

Here in Turkey, even as the church reconstruction was under way, a court was giving Hrant Dink, editor of a newspaper for Istanbul's Armenian community, a suspended prison sentence for making comments "disrespectful to our Turkish ancestors." A prosecutor has indicted Turkey's leading novelist, Orhan Pamuk, on similar charges, and several other such cases are pending.

To outsiders, it sometimes seems that Turks cannot decide whether they want to embrace the standards of human rights and free speech that the European Union demands of its members.

In fact, however, many Turks say they fervently want their country to meet those standards. So, on most days, does the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But defenders of the old order, including prosecutors, judges and officials with influence in the army and bureaucracy, fear that steps to open Turkish society will weaken national unity, and they are trying to suppress them.

Nationalists have tried to prevent serious investigations into incidents like a recent bombing in the southeastern province of Hakkari, which was made to look like the work of Kurdish terrorists but turned out to have been carried out by police agents.

At very least it strikes me as premature to admit Turkey into the European Union. How is Turkey going to develop in the future? Hard to say. But it seems imprudent to admit Turkey into the EU before the future direction of the Turks becomes much more clear. Some in the EU claim that Turkey has got to be admitted into the EU because otherwise illiberal Muslims in Turkey will get the upper hand and Turkey will follow the path of militant Islam. But if this claim is true it rather undercuts the claim that Turkey is ready to become a solidly secular liberal member of the EU.

What I really do not get is what advantage is there for the existing populaces of the EU for having Turkey in the EU. I get what the Turkish elite and many Turkish workers will get from the deal. But what about the average Claude or Monique in France or Helmut or Gerta in Germany? What's in it for them? The threat that large numbers of Turks will flock to the more developed countries and create their own separate ethnic and religious ghettoes hostile to the larger society. So why do this thing of uniting Turkey with the EU?

Update: See an excellent article in the New York Times about the Muslim parallel society in Germany by Peter Schneider entitled "The New Berlin Wall".

On the night of Feb. 7, 2005, Hatun Surucu, 23, was killed on her way to a bus stop in Berlin-Tempelhof by several shots to the head and upper body, fired at point-blank range. The investigation revealed that months before, she reported one of her brothers to the police for threatening her. Now three of her five brothers are on trial for murder. According to the prosecutor, the oldest of them (25) acquired the weapon, the middle brother (24) lured his sister to the scene of the crime and the youngest (18) shot her. The trial began on Sept. 21. Ayhan Surucu, the youngest brother, had confessed to the murder and claimed that he had done it without any help. According to Seyran Ates, a lawyer of Turkish descent, it is generally the youngest who are chosen by the family council to carry out such murders - or to claim responsibility for them. German juvenile law sets a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment for murder, and the offender has the prospect of being released after serving two-thirds of the sentence.

...

Hatun Surucu grew up in Berlin as the daughter of Turkish Kurds. When she finished eighth grade, her parents took her out of school. Shortly after that she was taken to Turkey and married to a cousin. Later she separated from her husband and returned to Berlin, pregnant. At age 17 she gave birth to a son, Can. She moved into a women's shelter and completed the work for her middle-school certificate. By 2004 she had finished a vocational-training program to become an electrician. The young mother who had escaped her family's constraints began to enjoy herself. She put on makeup, wore her hair unbound, went dancing and adorned herself with rings, necklaces and bracelets. Then, just days before she was to receive her journeyman's diploma, her life was cut short.

Evidently, in the eyes of her brothers, Hatun Surucu's capital crime was that, living in Germany, she had begun living like a German.

Read the whole article. The article estimates that half of German Turkish women are forced into arranged marriages.

Girls are purchased in Turkey by Tukish mothers in Germany for their Turkish sons.

Heavily veiled women wearing long coats even in summer are becoming an increasingly familiar sight in German Muslim neighborhoods. According to Necla Kelek's research, they are mostly under-age girls who have been bought - often for a handsome payment - in the Turkish heartland villages of Anatolia by mothers whose sons in Germany are ready to marry. The girls are then flown to Germany, and "with every new imported bride," Kelek says, "the parallel society grows." Meanwhile, Ates summarizes, "Turkish men who wish to marry and live by Shariah can do so with far less impediment in Berlin than in Istanbul."

The standard argument by pro-immigrationists in America that the welfare state in Europe is to blame does not hold up. Middle class Turks in Germany are also going for the parallel society.

Many sociologists attribute the growth of a Muslim parallel society to the discouraging social circumstances of the third Muslim generation of immigrants - high unemployment, high dropout or failure rates in public schools. But this explanation is incomplete, to say the least. It turns out that the Muslim middle class has long been following the same trend. Rental agencies that procure and prepare rooms for traditional Turkish weddings and circumcisions are among the most booming businesses in Kreuzberg and Neukölln.

Multiculturalism amounts to parallel hostile societies.

Again, read the full article.

The Turkish government under the watchful eyes of the secular Turkish military for decades enforced secularism and restraints on the power of Islam. But the EU is going to force the Turkish government to be less draconian and therefore the power of Islam will grow in Turkey just as it has in Germany. This is not progress.

By Randall Parker    2005 December 04 05:32 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2005 July 14 Thursday
How Important Is the Shia Sunni Split?

Aniruddha Bahal discusses the Sunni Salafist school of Islam and terrorism.

Since the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan there has been a gradual growth of the Salafists around the globe. They are everywhere enthralling the masses with strains of Islam that are a tempting alternative to the dismal picture of development in their societies. They promise correcting the current bafflement of the people by taking a route to an ancient form of Islam practiced by the Prophet and the first two generations succeeding him. The Salafis hold the view that the further we move from the time of Prophet Mohammed the more impure Islam has become due to the clever innovations in religious matters. The Salafis reject all schools of law, going a step ahead of even the hardline Wahabbis (who follow the Hanbali school of law).

Those Wahabbi revisionists! When a Sunni group sees even the Wahabbi as not pure enough you just know we are looking at an especially intense form of fundamentalism.

The conflict in Iraq should be seen in the context of a heightened competition between the Sunnis and Shias that grew out of the Iranian revolution and the withdrawal of the Soviets from Afghanistan while fighting against an insurgency which was backed by many Sunni Arab governments and volunteers.

The current conflict of interests in Iraq between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority has provided an extra edge to the enmity. Since the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the installation of the Allawi government in Iraq, Salafi web sites and forums on the Internet have stepped up their attacks against the Shias. There are also severe criticisms of Iran on their websites alongwith growing attempts by Saudi Salafi scholars and laymen to link the Shiites to Jews, both in history, and in present times.

It should be recalled that in the last two decades, with the flowering of extreme strains of Islam there emerged an unhealthy competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia as to which state was `more' Islamic. The beef between the Salafis and the Shias also colors the Salafi leadership as personified by groups headed by Zarqawi and Bin Laden.While both men follow the strict code of Salafi Islam, which considers Shias as the spoilers, Bin Laden prides himself on being a figure above the `fray' so to speak and has made strategic alliances with Shia groups, meeting several times with Shia militants. Zarqawi, by contrast, favours butchering Shias, calling them "the most evil of mankind . . . the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom". Zarqawi's terror group is, in fact, the prime suspect for the multiple bombings near the Shia religious shrine in Karbala and also in Baghdad which killed 143 worshippers in March, 2004.

One observer argues that Iranian intelligence agents have been infiltrating Sunni terrorist groups in Pakistan in order to prevent attacks by Sunni terrorist against Pakistani Shiites and also to defend Iran.

Says Mahan Abedin, editor of Terrorism Monitor, and who is currently researching a book on Iranian intelligence services: "The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 did not come as a surprise to the Iranian intelligence community, primarily because they had been engaged in their own covert war against the Taliban and its international Islamist allies for many years. Indeed, under different political circumstances, Iranian intelligence could have provided valuable help to the U.S. in the war against Salafi Islamist terrorism. Iran's Ministry of Intelligence & National Security (VEVAK) and the intelligence directorate of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) arguably have a better understanding of Wahhabi/Salafi terrorist networks and their institutional and ideological roots in Saudi Arabia than most other major intelligence organizations. They have gained such knowledge through the penetration of Wahhabi missionary/terror groups in Pakistan, which has been a priority for Iranian intelligence over the past 20 years. This priority stems not only from Iran's self-perceived responsibility to protect Pakistan's Shi'a community, but more importantly from a desire to pre-empt Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi subversion amongst Iran's tiny Sunni minority."

Imagine what the neoconservatives would say about connections between Iranian intelligence agents and Pakistani Sunni terrorists. Iranian agents working undercover in Sunni terrorist networks? They'd claim this is proof that the Iranians are backing Sunni terrorism. But the Sunnis do carry out bombings against Pakistani Shiites and in 2004 alone 100 Pakistani Shiites were killed by Sunnis. A single bomb blast in March 2005 in Balochistan killed 43 Shias while a car bomb blast in October 2004 killed 40 Sunnis and other blast killed 30 Shias. Surely the Shia mullahs in Iran look at Pakistan and see the Sunni terrorist groups which have been blowing up Pakistani Shias since the early 1980s as enemies.

I am reminded of the split between China and the USSR during the Cold War. For many years starting some time in the late 1950s (sorry, my memory on this is faint) US intelligence analysts and policy makers underestimated the depth of that split. They figured that as fellow communists the Russians and Chinese had too much in common to be anything but allies. But Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon were too smart to miss the opportunity this presented for the United States. Well, look at Iraq for evidence of animosity between Shias and Sunnis. The Sunni insurgency battles the Shia dominated government while Shia Iran has agreed to provide $1 billion in aid to Iraq with much of it earmarked for Iraq's defense ministry.

By overthrowing Saddam Hussein the United States has created conditions in Iraq which increase the hostility between Sunnis and Shias. Lots of Shias are getting killed by Sunnis. Some Sunnis are being killed by Shias. Iran is backing the Iraqi Shia-dominated government. Many of the same Sunnis who support Bin Laden's aims are flocking to Iraq to fight both against the United States and also against Shiism. View this in the context of the US opposition to Iran's nuclear weapons program. In a sense the United States is therefore engaged in a two front war. The US is battling Sunni extremists while simultaneously trying to pressure Shia Iran on nuclear weapons. It is a shame that Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush are nowhere near as smart as Kissinger and Nixon.

By Randall Parker    2005 July 14 10:40 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2005 April 13 Wednesday
Religious Parties Seen As Gaining Strength In Pakistan

The suppression of more moderate parties by Musharraf's military dictatorship combined with the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are combining to create conditions favoring the growth of the religious parties in Pakistan.

In a surprise to many here, the incident took place not in the conservative tribal areas, but in the country's Punjab heartland. In reaction, protesters picketed Parliament Monday, calling on the government to "save the society from Talibanization."

Through strikes, protests, and the passage of strict local ordinances, Pakistan's religious parties have grown more brazen in their challenge to the secularization central to President Musharraf's rule. Political analysts are concerned that the sidelining of mainstream parties under may be aiding the radicals in the run-up to local elections in July.

When moderate opposition is suppressed the inevitable result is the growth of more extremist opposition.

The growing power of religious parties in Pakistan is also partly another cost of the US invasion of Iraq. The US overthrow of the Taliban was relatively easier to justify to Muslims than the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

In 5 years time will the average Middle Eastern government be more or less Islamic? Will the Muslim countries with elected governments be more or less Islamic than those with dictatorships? Your guesses?

By Randall Parker    2005 April 13 05:02 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2005 March 31 Thursday
Middle Eastern Democracies Will Be Anti-American and Anti-Israeli

Egyptian democracy activist Jihan Shabaan speaks for many when she predicts a democratically elected government in Egypt will be more anti-American and anti-Israeli than the current dictatorship.

"If things really change here, America's illusions that its interests in the region would be advanced by democracy will be laid bare,'' she says. "A real democratic government in Egypt would be strongly against the US occupation of Iraq and regional US policies, particularly over Palestine. We are strongly against US influence."

Despite apparently genuine sentiment, Kifaya organizers say there's also practical reasons to make the distance from the US clear. The government has tried to paint democracy activists as foreign puppets in the past, alleging they take foreign money. "The regime are the ones taking American money. But they always accuse us of having foreign money whenever there are calls for democracy," says Shabaan.

Attitudes like Shabaan's point to a frequently overlooked disconnect. America's conviction that its rhetoric will help secure its interests in the region often clash with the anti-US leanings of many of the Arab world's democracy activists, who generally belong either to Islamist parties or to left-leaning, anti-US groups.

"We want a transformation against America and all its projects in the region,'' says Abdel Halim Qandeel, an editor at the anti-regime Al Arabi newspaper and one of Kifaya's key activists. "There's a historical irony here. We have two kinds of resistance in the region - armed resistance as in Iraq and Palestine, and political resistance in the Arab capitals ... and all of the opposition movements are staunchly anti-imperialist, whether Islamists" or secular nationalists.

Paranoid delusional conspiracy theory: A secret cabal of American capitalists, frustrated by its attempts to get the United States to adopt a more isolationist and neutral stance in the Middle East, helped engineer the rise of the neocons in order to bring about a democratic revolution the Middle East that will force the United States to withdraw from the region. In this interpretation the neocons are just foolish tools whose ideological blindness is being used to undermine their beloved Israel. Keep in mind that noone that competent is behind the scenes pulling strings in America's interest.

The nightmare scenario for Israel would be the rise of even more anti-Israeli Arab governments that are more powerful because they enjoy greater popular legitimacy as a consequence of being democratically elected. If some of those popularly elected anti-Israeli governments are openly Islamist then all the worse for Israel.

Gotta be careful what you wish for. You just may get it.

Also see my previous post "Will Democracy Make Middle East Governments More Anti-American?"

Update: Mustapha Kamal Al-Sayyid, Cairo University Political Science Professor, is on C-SPAN at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace at the moment talking about US influence in the region. He said that when the US ambassador gave $6 million to some Egyptian NGO(s) (forget if he said a single NGO or a group of them) this made those NGOs very unpopular in Egypt. Al-Sayyid says Bush should turn to someone other than Natan Sharansky for expertise on democracy in the reigon. He says if the US government does not want to consult Arab academics there are many American academics who know the region better than Mr. Sharansky.

Al-Sayyid makes a great point about Sharansky in my view. Sharansky belongs to a faction in Israel that appears to offer two options: A) The Palestinians act so good that there is no reason to withdraw settlements from the territories or B) The Palestinians act so bad that they deserve to have settlements placed among them and to eventually be forced out of the territories.

Amr Hamzawy of the Carnegie Endowment sees a relegitimation of the nation-state happening in Arab countries. Political claims are not just pan-Arab or pan-Islamic. Claims in Egypt are made about local conditions there. He sees the same happening in Lebanon with demands about what happens within Lebanon's borders.

Hamzawy also sees the emergence of broad popular alliances for democratization. Hamzawy says that in the 1980s and 1990s Mubarak made a number of concessions for the operation of opposition political parties. He sees the legitimization of the political space as creating the conditions for more pragmatism and less emphasis on anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli attitudes as the main issues.

Hamzawy sees the potential for ethnic religious conflicts in Bahrain (an excluded Shiite majority), Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia (a Shiite minority in that case). Of course such conflicts can become civil wars as Lebanon has shown.

Al-Sayyid and Hamzawy wonder whether the changes in Egypt are cosmetic. Will the changes build momentum that will eventually bring elections for the President? Greater allowance of political participation by opposition parties might eventually lead to elections in which the opposition will be allowed to participate. Al-Sayyid says Mubarak says Muslim Brothers (aka Muslim Brotherhood) will be allowed to participate through existing parties but will not be allowed to form their own party.

Nathan Brown of the Carnegie Endowment jokingly suggests the United States should embrace the Muslim Brothers in order to give them the kiss of death. Make the Islamists unpopular by giving them US support. I wonder if that would work. Probably not.

Al-Sayyid thinks the Muslim Brothers and other Islamists have fairly good chances of winning elections if fully free elections were held. So Al-Sayyid doubts that external actors such as the United States would be successful in convincing Arab governments to allow the Islamists to participate in elections.

A human rights activist in the audience worried in a queston that the Islamists would violate human rights - especially women's rights - if they came to power through elections. Al-Sayyid thinks that some Islamists such as the Muslim Brothers are more in favor of women's rights than other Islamists. But if women are allowed to vote will they vote in the Muslim Brothers? Will their fathers and husbands tell them to vote for Islamists?

An Arab journalist pointed out that the terms "liberalization" and "democratization" do not even translate into Arabic. There are no Arab words that mean these things. Direct translation results in words that Arabs simply do not understand. Al-Sayyad and Hamzawy says these terms have to be explained when they are used.

Al-Sayyid thinks tensions in Lebanon including attacks on Christian areas may eventually lead to conditions similar to those which existing before the civil war in 1975. He also doubts that there is a relegitimization of the nation-state in Iraq because the Kurds are resisting it and as a reaction some southern Iraqis are supporting autonomy for southern Iraq as well.

Al-Sayyid thinks that part of the lack of legitimization of the Jordanian, Egyptian, and Tunisian regimes is due to their diplomatic relationships with Israel. Well, if Arab government legitimacy is not compatible with peace with Israel then factions competing to be democratically elected are going to advocate for severing of relations with Israel or more demands placed on Israel.

By Randall Parker    2005 March 31 02:49 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (29)
2005 March 18 Friday
Will Democracy Make Middle East Governments More Anti-American?

Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, in responding to questions and criticisms from readers, notes that the replacement of dictatorships with democracies in the Middle East may well produce democratic governments that are far more opposed to US policies than the elites in charge of current that will be replaced.

Your question about what would Bush do if democratic forces in the Middle East attempt to defy American interests is very much to the point. Indeed, it is the question of U.S. policy in the Middle East for the foreseeable future.

President Bush said today that tyrants become fearful in the face of democracy. Those "tyrants" (in the case of Egypt and Saudi Arabia) are also reliable American allies who do not cross U.S. policymakers when it comes to oil and Israel. If they are replaced by more democratic but more anti-American governments, what will the U.S. do? Its a very good question.

Democratically elected governments will simultaneously find it easier to resist American demands. At the same time they will find it harder to give into American demands as they will feel pressure to respond to popular wishes in order to remain in office. How will this trend affect US national security? Will these nations with democratically elected governments be better or worse breeding grounds for terrorists and for radical Islamists that help create the environment that breeds terrorism? I'm guessing democratically elected governments will give greater leeway to the radical Islamic clerics and some of those clerics and their followers will make it into government.

A recent poll found that 49% of Lebanese see US influence in the world as mainly negative versus 33% who see it as positive. Muslim and democratic Turkey puts US influence as 62% negative and 18% positive and Muslim and democratic Indonesia sees the US at 51% negative and 38% positive.

Parenthetically, even though our elites have allowed tens of millions of Mexicans to enter and live in the US legally and illegally and the government has granted citizenship to tens of millions and to their children 57% of Mexicans see the US as a negativee influence on the world and only 11% see the US as positive. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt and resentment. Why don't we try to make the Mexicans a lot less familiar with us by deporting all the illegals and building a barrier on the US-Mexican border to keep them out?

Speaking of democratic processes that do not always produce pro-American or pro-capitalist governments, Steve Sailer observes that the trend in Latin American democracy is running in a very leftist and anti-market direction.

The Tidal Wave of Capitalist Democracy is so ten years ago in Latin America, where leftism is on the rise again ... democratically, of course, while the pro-capitalists are reduced to searching for non-democratic means to prevent leftists from winning elections. In Mexico, Fox conspires with his former enemies in the PRI to find a technicality to prevent the leftist mayor of Mexico City, Lopez Obrador, from running for President in 2006 on the PRD ticket. In Venezuela, the Bush Administration backed a military coup that briefly overthrew the Fidelista president Chavez, until people power in the streets intimidated the military into saying, "Never mind."

As I pointed out in my review of "Hotel Rwanda,' when George W. Bush says "democracy" he actually means, in effect, "Anglo-Saxonism:" in other words, rule of law, checks and balances, independent judiciary, a settled distribution of property, free speech, an open economy, habeas corpus, graciousness in defeat, the urge to compromise, gentlemanly treatment of women, etc.

But what people in oppressed countries hear when he says "democracy" is "majority rule," which is not the same thing.

This difference is missed in most efforts made to measure the prevalence of democracy in the world. For some measures of the difference see the UN Human Development Report 2002 (2.7 Megabytes in PDF format or individual chapters can be downloaded separately - my own experience is that if you download a large PDF to your hard disk and then open it the viewing is faster). For example, check out Figure 1.3 on Acrobat Reader page 30 where between 1980 and 2000 the press in Latin America on average did not become any more free even though Latin America became more democratic over that period of time. Then move forward to page Acrobat Reader page 54 (or document page 38) for the table "A1.1 Subjective indicators of governance". Compare entries in it to Acrobat Reader page 56 (document page 42) entries in table "A1.2 Objective indicators of governance". The A1.1 table has political liberties ratings including press freedom and the A1.2 has measures of how recently elections were held and what the turn-outs were. The press freedom score ranges from 0 to 100 where lower is better. Sri Lanka had a 2001 election with 80% turn-out but has a press freedom score of only 74. By comparison the US and Canada both scored 15 by UN reckoning and Norway scored 5. Granted, any measure of press freedom is imperfect. But the gap between Sri Lanka and Western democracies is huge. On civil liberties where lower is better Sri Lanka scored 4 while most of the Western countries (the US included) scored 1. Well, democracy is not automatically providing Sri Lankans with press freedom and civil liberties protection. I predict it will not do so for Iraqis either.

Democracy is not going to turn the people of the world into Anglo-Saxons. There's an old saying that is applicable to those feeling happy about the spread of democracy: Be careful what you wish for. You may just get it.

By Randall Parker    2005 March 18 12:28 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (20)
2004 August 01 Sunday
Rod Liddle: Islam And Democracy Not Compatible

Writing in the UK Spectator Rod Liddle argues Islam and democracy are obviously not compatible. (requires free registration - and it is a site worth registering for)

It is far too early to say that Indonesia is working. Growling Muslim extremists — including the loathsome Jemaah Islamiyah, the boys who brought you the Bali bomb — gained nearly 40 per cent of the vote in the spring elections. The madrasahs continue to spew out their bilge every day, indoctrinating a new generation of Indonesians with monotheistic authoritarianism. Right now, the government is sort of secular. How long will that last?

...

Malaysia is the only Muslim country in the world with a tradition of democracy, albeit democracy of a somewhat paternalistic kind. However, it is a democracy in spite of Islam rather than because of it. The country has been economically dependent upon the 35 per cent of its population which is not Muslim — notably the Chinese and the Indians and, to a lesser extent, the Christians of Sarawak — and so there are safeguards and concessions to protect this sizeable and vital minority. It is largely these safeguards and, it has to be said, strong and clever leadership from Mahathir Mohamad until last November that have preserved democracy in Kuala Lumpur against every stone-age impulse from the mullahs. Neither of these qualifying conditions exist in the Middle East: there are neither the talented political leaders, nor the moderating influence of a large non-Muslim population.

Some would argue that Turkey has a stronger tradition of democracy than Malaysia. Though in Turkey the military has been playing the role of guard rails that keep the politicians from going too far toward Islamization. If the Turkish attempt to get into the European Union continues to weaken the power of the military then those guard rails will continue to decay and Islamists may eventually push the Turkish government in a far more religious direction.

Liddle relates the recent story of 4 Malays who announced they were no longer Muslims and who were arrested and thrown in jail for not acting like proper Muslims. If you are curious to know more about their case here are some links about their case. These ex-Muslims tried to argue that since they were no longer Muslims the Muslim Syariah court could no longer exercise jurisdiction over them as Muslims. The Federal Court was not amused.

The Federal Court this morning dismissed an appeal by four individuals who had renounced Islam in 1998, for a declaration that they have absolute right and freedom to practise the religion of their choice.

The four - Daud Mamat, 62, Kamariah Ali, 51, her husband, Mohamad Ya, 57 (now deceased) and Mad Yacob Ismail, 62 - had also wanted the court to declare that the Syariah Court had no jurisdiction over them in view of the fact that they had renounced Islam.

For an account of how these people were treated after renouncing Islam see this article.

In Malaysia the ruling party is feeding the trend toward more Islamization in order to compete against a more Islamic PAS.

In some areas, such as Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, one can find mosques next to churches next to Indian and Buddhist temples. But non-Muslims still live in a country whose new Islamic-themed administrative capital houses a prominent mosque but no other house of worship; a country that since the early 1980s has become increasingly Islamized - inspired first by the Iranian Revolution and Mahathir's former charismatic deputy Anwar Ibrahim, who founded ABIM and joined Malaysia's most powerful political party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) in the 1980s; and then by government attempts to out-Islamize the hardline Parti Islam seMalaysia (PAS).

There is not an Islamic government in the world that has a democracy that looks solid.

By Randall Parker    2004 August 01 02:29 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2004 April 12 Monday
Theodore Dalrymple On Muslim Immigrants In Britain

Writing for the City Journal Theodore Dalrymple reports on forced marriages, the basic problems in Islam that prevent an Islamic Reformation, and the signs that many young Muslim criminals in Britain are abandoning Islam.

This pattern of betrothal causes suffering as intense as any I know of. It has terrible consequences. One father prevented his daughter, highly intelligent and ambitious to be a journalist, from attending school, precisely to ensure her lack of Westernization and economic independence. He then took her, aged 16, to Pakistan for the traditional forced marriage (silence, or a lack of open objection, amounts to consent in these circumstances, according to Islamic law) to a first cousin whom she disliked from the first and who forced his attentions on her. Granted a visa to come to Britain, as if the marriage were a bona fide one—the British authorities having turned a cowardly blind eye to the real nature of such marriages in order to avoid the charge of racial discrimination—he was violent toward her.

She had two children in quick succession, both of whom were so severely handicapped that they would be bedridden for the rest of their short lives and would require nursing 24 hours a day. (For fear of giving offense, the press almost never alludes to the extremely high rate of genetic illnesses among the offspring of consanguineous marriages.) Her husband, deciding that the blame for the illnesses was entirely hers, and not wishing to devote himself to looking after such useless creatures, left her, divorcing her after Islamic custom. Her family ostracized her, having concluded that a woman whose husband had left her must have been to blame and was the next thing to a whore. She threw herself off a cliff, but was saved by a ledge.

I’ve heard a hundred variations of her emblematic story. Here, for once, are instances of unadulterated female victimhood, yet the silence of the feminists is deafening. Where two pieties—feminism and multiculturalism—come into conflict, the only way of preserving both is an indecent silence.

For more about the problems posed by consanguineous marriage as a factor that exacerbates the problems posed by Islam start with my previous post John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq which has links to other posts I've made on the topic. Also see my post Imported Spouses Preventing Assimilation Of Dutch Muslims and the bottom of the following post where Muslim spouses are being imported into Norway as well. This practice of importing Muslim spouses typically involves the importation of first or second cousins and serves to propagate both tribalism and oppression of women in Western countries which have Muslim immigrant populations.

Dalrymple says we can't count on a Muslim reformation to eventually end the problems that Islam poses for the West:

Moreover, even if there were no relevant differences between Christianity and Islam as doctrines and civilizations in their ability to accommodate modernity, a vital difference in the historical situations of the two religions also tempers my historicist optimism. Devout Muslims can see (as Luther, Calvin, and others could not) the long-term consequences of the Reformation and its consequent secularism: a marginalization of the Word of God, except as an increasingly distant cultural echo—as the “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of the once full “Sea of faith,” in Matthew Arnold’s precisely diagnostic words.

And there is enough truth in the devout Muslim’s criticism of the less attractive aspects of Western secular culture to lend plausibility to his call for a return to purity as the answer to the Muslim world’s woes. He sees in the West’s freedom nothing but promiscuity and license, which is certainly there; but he does not see in freedom, especially freedom of inquiry, a spiritual virtue as well as an ultimate source of strength. This narrow, beleaguered consciousness no doubt accounts for the strand of reactionary revolt in contemporary Islam. The devout Muslim fears, and not without good reason, that to give an inch is sooner or later to concede the whole territory.

Of course are revelant differences in the base texts of Islam and Christianity that make them different in fundamental ways which make an eventual reformation of Islam far more problematic. It seems very risky and foolish for Westerners to count on a reformation to change Islam to make it more compatible with Western notions of liberty and individual rights. Read Dalrymple's full article for the rest of his argument. He explains at length what he sees as the main problems which keep Islam from going through something analogous to the Protestant Reformation. The Islamic doctrine of apostasy is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to the reform of Islam. However, Dalrymple sees hopeful signs that so many Muslims will abandon Islam that eventually it will collapse.

Some Western apologists for Islam say religious states are acceptable. This tends to lead toward denial that Muslims living in the West pose a problem to classical Western liberal society. My own view is that if Western intellectuals continue to ignore the incompatibility of Western notions of liberty with Islam we will not defend our own countries from the growth of Muslim populations caused by immigration. The multiculturalist beliefs of the leftists lead to such folly as the imposition of Sharia law on Canadian Muslims. The 16 year old girl of Theodore Dalrymple's account would have an even worse prospect of being protected by the law from her own parents if Sharia law was introduced in Britain as well.

Daniel Pipes argues that we can find a way to get along with Islam and that Westerners should support Islamic secularists. But let us be real. Western supporters of Islamic secularism are placing their bets on those people who live in Islamic countries who basically do not really believe in Islam. There may be some devout Muslims who believe in the separation of mosque and state and in equal rights for women. But my bet is that the vast majority of secularists are people who hide their secret agnosticism or atheism from the larger population because agnosticism and atheism are not acceptable to the truly religious. The Islamic doctrine of apostasy prevents the secularists from becoming a major counterweight to the fundamentalists. Only the collapse of Islam as a result of to large scale abandonment by its adherents can solve the problem that Islam poses. Will that large scale abandonment of Islam ever happen in Muslim countries?

By Randall Parker    2004 April 12 01:44 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2004 March 09 Tuesday
White Slavery By Muslims Was More Common Than Previously Believed

OSU history professor Robert Davis has a new book Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters : White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 about European Christian slavery at the hands of Muslims in North Africa.

A new study suggests that a million or more European Christians were enslaved by Muslims in North Africa between 1530 and 1780 - a far greater number than had ever been estimated before.

In a new book, Robert Davis, professor of history at Ohio State University, developed a unique methodology to calculate the number of white Christians who were enslaved along Africa's Barbary Coast, arriving at much higher slave population estimates than any previous studies had found.

Most other accounts of slavery along the Barbary coast didn't try to estimate the number of slaves, or only looked at the number of slaves in particular cities, Davis said. Most previously estimated slave counts have thus tended to be in the thousands, or at most in the tens of thousands. Davis, by contrast, has calculated that between 1 million and 1.25 million European Christians were captured and forced to work in North Africa from the 16th to 18th centuries.

The slaves suffered a very high mortality rate.

Putting together such sources of attrition as deaths, escapes, ransomings, and conversions, Davis calculated that about one-fourth of slaves had to be replaced each year to keep the slave population stable, as it apparently was between 1580 and 1680. That meant about 8,500 new slaves had to be captured each year. Overall, this suggests nearly a million slaves would have been taken captive during this period. Using the same methodology, Davis has estimated as many as 475,000 additional slaves were taken in the previous and following centuries.

Christians and other non-Muslims have long been second or third class citizens in Muslim lands paying higher taxes, denied legal protections, and oppressed in other ways. It is therefore not surprising that over a period of centuries after the Muslim conquest of formerly Christian lands the Christian populations, less able to feed themselves and less protected, dwindled and even disappeared entirely in some Muslim countries.

By Randall Parker    2004 March 09 01:14 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2004 February 29 Sunday
Prospect Of Democracy Breeding Ethnic Hatred In Iraq

Yale law professor Amy Chua, author of World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, argues that democracy is unleashing inter-ethnic conflicts around the world, including in Iraq.

When sudden democratisation gives voice to this previously silenced majority, opportunistic demagogues can swiftly marshal animosity into powerful ethno-nationalist movements that can subvert both markets and democracy. That is what happened in Indonesia, Zimbabwe, and most recently Bolivia, where weeks of majority-supported, Amerindian-led protests resulted in the resignation of the pro-US, pro-free-market "gringo" President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. In another variation, recent confiscations by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of the assets of the "oligarchs" Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky and Mikhail Khodorkovsky - all well-known in Russia to be Jewish - were facilitated by pervasive anti-semitic resentment among the Russian majority.

Iraq is the next tinderbox. The Sunni minority, particularly the Ba'aths, have a large head start in education, capital and economic expertise. The Shiites, although far from homogeneous, represent a long-oppressed majority of 60-70%, with every reason to exploit their numerical power. Liberation has already unleashed powerful fundamentalist movements which, needless to say, are intensely anti-secular and anti-western. Iraq's 20% Kurdish minority in the north, mistrustful of Arab rule, creates another source of profound instability. Finally, Iraq's oil could prove a curse, leading to massive corruption and a destructive battle between groups to capture the nation's oil wealth.

Chua points out that the government of Indonesia, once it became democratic, nationalized $58 billion dollars worth of assets formerly owned by Indonesian Chinese. The result is stagnation of Indonesia's economy with high unemployment, poverty, and the rise of extremist movements. Will similar calamities befall Iraq? Since I favor placing empirical evidence ahead of ideological beliefs when setting policy I think the rational response to the situation in Iraq is to split the country up into 3 countries where there is a single dominant overwhelming majority in each country with more trust of its own members. More arguments for that approach here.

Chua is unwilling to build on her observations to either explain why there are market dominant minorities or to explain what ought to be done about preventing the development of the conflicts that inevitably come from having market dominant minorities. Paul Craig Roberts argues that Chua misses obvious conclusions about US immigration polices and about US foreign policy that can be drawn from her observations.

Certainly the U.S. government and the IMF should take care not to export policies that worsen ethnic conflicts, but the more powerful conclusion to be drawn from Chua’s material—a conclusion that Chua studiously avoids—is that the U.S., Europe, the U.K., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand should immediately cease and desist from reconstructing themselves as multi-ethnic societies. Accentuating ethnic conflict abroad is stupid, even criminal, but it is insane to import unassimiliable ethnic groups into Western countries, thus replicating in the West the Third World conflicts that Chua so terrifyingly describes.

In his analysis of Chua's work Steve Sailer points out that property rights and one man-one vote do not always mix and that this is bad news for the future of the United States.

That property rights and one man-one vote democracy don't always mix well would not have surprised Aristotle, Edmund Burke, or Alexander Hamilton. Yet many Americans who call themselves conservatives have forgotten this.

One reason: we are one of the fairly small number of lucky countries with "market dominant majorities." We can have our cake (capitalism) and eat it too (democracy) because our majority group is economically quite competent.

America's perpetual trouble has been a less-productive black minority. Black-white economic inequality is not a problem that America is going to be able to solve any time soon. But, due to our market-dominant majority, our country is rich enough to live with it.

In contrast, if our current mass immigration system is allowed to continue, America will become just another country with a market dominant minority. Through government policy, we will have inflicted upon ourselves the kind of ugly society seen in most of the rest of the world.

Also see Vinod on Amy Chua's work.

Proclaiming that all ethnic and racial groups should all be equally economically successful will not make it happen. Less successful groups will inevitably resent more successful groups and will therefore act politically, whether at the ballot box or by other means, to express their resentments. Any society whose most successful groups become a smaller fraction of the population is one that is going to have more strife, more crime, more use of government to seize assets from the most successful groups, less civility, and less trust. The debate over this problem and its implications for and foreign policy - especially for immigration policy - has now reached the leftish mainstream in the UK with David Goodhart's Prospect article about Great Britain becoming too diverse being republished in the Guardian. Anthony Browne, Environment Editor of the London Times, has also played a role in bringing a skeptical look at immigration into the mainstream of British political debate. But that debate is still taboo in The New York Times and other legitimizers of elite liberal-left discourse in America. This taboo also has the effect of making US foreign policy in places like Iraq dangerously naive as the assertion of unversalist beliefs about how we can all just get along in democratic capitalistic utopians obscures the much uglier truths about why the world's problems are so much less tractable.

By Randall Parker    2004 February 29 01:35 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2004 January 21 Wednesday
Muslim Veils, Marking Territory, Broken Windows

Christopher Caldwell analyses the debate in France over headscarves and veiling.

But the most recent statistics--1,200 cases of veiled girls in state schools, with four expulsions--would seem to indicate little more than a dress-code problem of limited extent. Yet the French are debating it as Americans would debate a declaration of war.

Which is what the French man on the street perceives it to be. At issue is the assimilability of France's Arab immigrants and their children. France is now about 10 percent Muslim. Some set the Muslim population (almost all of it Arab) at 5 million, others at 8 million. But all agree that the Muslims are disproportionately (even unconscionably) poor, clustered in housing projects surrounding France's biggest cities, victimized by discrimination, and ravaged by unemployment and increasingly crime. Young men of Arab descent (beurs, as they're called) have been responsible for a lot of that crime, including the vast majority of the hundreds of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in France over the last three years, and for much of an epidemic unruliness in France's schools. In "The Lost Territories of the Republic," the sociologist Emmanuel Brenner made an inventory of such classroom incidents--kids guffawing through lectures on the Holocaust, teachers subjected to ethnic taunts, humiliation of girls--that is reported to have shocked Jacques Chirac profoundly. So the veil is to the French imagination what graffiti were to the American imagination in the late 1970s: harmless per se, yet a marking of territory, sparking fear that those willing to do harm are in the neighborhood.

Many American libertarians, liberals, and neoconservatives view the French attempt to ban the wearing the veil in many public institutions simply as a violation of individual religious rights. But in my view that analysis is hopelessly naive. What is going on is something more akin to a "Broken Windows" interpretation of the causes of crime but with an interesting twist: instead of trying to discourage criminals and criminal gangs that hold themselves apart from society the French (and increasingly other Europeans - see below) are viewing the religious symbols of the Muslims as something akin to tribal identifying signs which are an implicit challenge to secular authority. This is not an unreasonable interpretation. Islam's founder never said "Render unto Ceaser that which is Caesar's". In fact, Mohammed's attitude was quite the opposite: that governments should rule as Muslim governments. The idea of separation of mosque and state does not enjoy the legitimacy in Muslim-majority countries that it enjoys in the West and the reason is that Islam at its core rejects this separation. To the extent that Muslims are walkng around wearing apparel that signals that they are Muslims they are making a political statement to each other and to the non-Muslims who exist in the same country.

To a teacher in a French school who can't get her Muslim students to stop hissing when she tries to teach the history of the Holocaust there is a great deal of value in being able to prevent an even more Islamic atmosphere and the bonding between Muslim students against everyone else. The same holds in the larger society. To the extent that Muslims see themselves as separate from the larger society because they are Muslims the larger society really is threatened. Should the Muslims some day become a majority in France, Belgium, or the Netherlands their religious belief in their superiority and in their values will place the non-Muslims in a condition far worse in terms of violated rights than whatever the Muslims in Europe can complain about today.

Belgium may follow France with a headscarf ban.

With Belgium now also considering a headscarf ban, there appears to be a growing trend towards assimilation. It's a process that's already caused a storm among Islamic communities in Europe and abroad, and may be fraught with as many problems as the "opposite" policy of multiculturalism.

France may ban other ways of wearing wearing religious symbols.

The latest twist in France's controversial plan to ban religious symbols from classrooms came Tuesday, when Education Minister Luc Ferry said the planned ban on religious symbols could also cover facial hair and bandannas, sometimes worn as a discreet alternative to the traditional Muslim head scarf.

If you want to wear something on your head in France make sure it is sexy and decadent-looking.

"If we had chosen the word `visible,' we could have seen the appearance of other signs,' " Mr. Ferry said.

For that reason, he explained, "The bandanna, if it is presented by young girls as a religious sign, will be forbidden."

He also contended that hairstyles or the wearing of certain colors could be a source of manipulation. "Signs could be invented using simple hairiness or a color," he said. "Creativity is infinite in this regard."

The Sikhs are upset by the threat to their wearing of the beard and turban.

Fourteen-year-old Vikramjit Singh, who lives in suburban Paris, says giving up his studies would perhaps ruin his material life.

"But if I have to give up my turban, I am sacrificing my spiritual life. And that is totally unacceptable to me," he told BBC News Online.

The Sikhs are caught up in this even though they are so few in number that they couldn't possibly pose a threat to the secular state. But my guess is that the French can't be seen to be making exceptions for other less-threatening religions.

Also see my previous post Headscarf Bans In Schools Coming To France, German States.

Update: In support of my argument about tribalism and "Broken Windows" above see my recent post Imported Spouses Preventing Assimilation Of Dutch Muslims and also a post by Razib of the Gene Expression blog where he reports on the incredibly low rate of intermarriage of Muslim immigrants with native Norwegians even in the third generation.

Human Rights Service figures for henteekteskap, or "fetching marriages" - in which one spouse is "fetched" from the other's ancestral country - are staggering. From 1996 to 2001, 82 percent of the men marrying the Norwegian granddaughters of Moroccan immigrants were themselves Moroccans; another 14 percent were of Moroccan origin. For Norwegian granddaughters of Pakistani immigrants, the corresponding rates were 76 percent and 22 percent. In that five-year period, only three granddaughters of Moroccan immigrants married ethnic Norwegians; only one granddaughter of a Pakistani immigrant did so.

Also, cousin marriage may be a big factor in keeping the Muslim immigrants marrying people brought in from their country of origin. Start here to go thru my posts on consanguineous marriage, society, Islam, and politics in the Middle East.

Update While 70 percent of the French public supports the headscarf ban opposition to the ban is growing among some French politicians.

Francois Bayrou, who heads the UMP's coalition partner the Union for French Democracy (UDF), said he "feared from the start that such a law, which of course goes down well in the polls, would quickly heighten tensions and offer the fundamentalists an opening which they could only have dreamed of."

The French are between a rock and a hard place. Their problem with Islamic fundamentalists is going to grow no matter what they do. Muslims are going to be an increasing percentage of the French population. At the very least they should aggressively deport illegal aliens in order to limit the Muslim population growth.

By Randall Parker    2004 January 21 03:54 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (31)
2004 January 05 Monday
Michael Scott Doran: The Saudi Paradox

In an excellent (ParaPundit usage of "excellent" means: Go read it!) and lengthy essay in Foreign Affairs Princeton University Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies Michael Scott Doran lays out the competing camps and forces in Saudi Arabia.

The two camps divide over a single question: whether the state should reduce the power of the religious establishment. On the right side of the political spectrum, the clerics and Nayef take their stand on the principle of Tawhid, or "monotheism," as defined by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the eponymous founder of Wahhabism. In their view, many people who claim to be monotheists are actually polytheists and idolaters. For the most radical Saudi clerics, these enemies include Christians, Jews, Shi`ites, and even insufficiently devout Sunni Muslims. From the perspective of Tawhid, these groups constitute a grand conspiracy to destroy true Islam. The United States, the "Idol of the Age," leads the cabal. It attacked Sunni Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq, both times making common cause with Shi`ites; it supports the Jews against the Sunni Muslim Palestinians; it promotes Shi`ite interests in Iraq; and it presses the Saudi government to de-Wahhabize its educational curriculum. Cable television and the Internet, meanwhile, have released a torrent of idolatry. With its permissive attitude toward sex, its pervasive Christian undertones, and its support for unfettered female freedom, U.S. culture corrodes Saudi society from within.

Tawhid is closely connected to jihad, the struggle -- sometimes by force of arms, sometimes by stern persuasion -- against idolatry. In the minds of the clerics, stomping out pagan cultural and political practices at home and supporting war against Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq are two sides of the same coin. Jihad against idolatry, the clerics never tire of repeating, is eternal, "lasting until Judgment Day," when true monotheism will destroy polytheism once and for all.

The doctrine of Tawhid ensures a unique political status for the clerics in Saudi Arabia. After all, they alone have the necessary training to detect and root out idolatry so as to safeguard the purity of the realm. Tawhid is thus not just an intolerant religious doctrine but also a political principle that legitimizes the repressiveness of the Saudi state. It is no wonder, therefore, that Nayef, head of the secret security apparatus, is a strong supporter of Tawhid. Not known personally as a pious man, Nayef zealously defends Wahhabi puritanism because he knows on which side his bread is buttered -- as do others with a stake in the repressive status quo.

Doran describes the Wahhabi world view and its considerable overlap with the Al Qaeda world view.

According to al-Ayyiri, the United States and Israel are the leaders of a global anti-Islamic movement -- "Zio-Crusaderism" -- that seeks the destruction of true Islam and dominion over the Middle East. Zio-Crusaderism's most effective weapon is democracy, because popular sovereignty separates religion from the state and thereby disembowels Islam, a holistic religion that has a strong political dimension. In its plot to denature Islam, al-Ayyiri claims, Zio-Crusaderism embraces three local allies: secularists, Shi`ites, and lax Sunnis (that is, those who sympathize with the idea of separating religion from state). Al Qaeda's "near enemy," in other words, is the cluster of forces supporting Taqarub.

The chief difference between the ways al Qaeda and the Saudi religious establishment define their primary foes is that the former includes the Saudi royal family as part of the problem whereas the latter does not. This divergence is not insignificant, but it does not preclude limited or tacit cooperation on some issues. Although some in the Saudi regime are indeed bin Laden's enemies, others are his de facto allies. Al Qaeda activists sense, moreover, that U.S. plans to separate mosque and state constitute the greatest immediate threat to their designs and know that the time is not yet ripe for a broad revolution. So al Qaeda's short-term goal is not to topple the regime but to shift Saudi Arabia's domestic balance of power to the right and punish supporters of Taqarub.

Doran's article is full of all sorts of insightful gems. The threats by Sunni clerics to commit genocide against the Shi'ite minority illustrate the depth of the hostility the Wahhabi clerics have for the Shi'ites. This hostility also lends credibility to the argument that the prospect of the Iranians developing nuclear weapons is causing the Saudis to use their considerable financial resources to ensure that the Saudis will gain some degree of control of nuclear weapons, perhaps through the stationing of Pakistani nukes on Saudi soil. On this topic also see my post Without US As Ally Saudi Arabia Could Go Nuclear.

It is worth noting in this context that the Shi'ites most likely form a majority in the Eastern oil-producing province in Saudi Arabia. One option batted about in some quarters is to support a Shi'ite secessionist uprising to break the Shi'ite province off from Saudi Arabia as a way to deny the Wahhabis the funds they need to wage jihad. The betting in this line of argument is that the Shi'ites will not be as great a threat to the West as Wahhabis are. Doran reports that many Wahhabi clerics are already claiming that there is a America-Jewish-Shi'ite conspiracy arrayed against them. By making such claims combined with the most severe threats the Wahhabis signal to the Shi'ites that they had better not offer the slightist bit of resistance to their Sunni Wahhabi dominators.

The United States is in a difficult position vis a vis Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabi hard-liners are continuing to block the sorts of Internal reforms that would lead to a reduction of the teachings of an interpretation of Islam that causes so many Saudis to be supportive of Al Qaeda. We are now over two years past the 9/11 attacks and the internal conditions of Saudi society have changed little in ways that would reduce the willingness of Saudis to participate in future attacks. It is not clear what the United States could do in the short to medium term to encourage reform within Saudi Arabia. Any moves the US might make would be pointed to by the Wahhabis as proof of their belief of a US directed conspiracy against Islam.

In my view a crucial element for a longer term strategy to deal with the threat of radical Islam is to develop technologies that would reduce the entire world's demand for Middle Eastern energy. See my previous posts Energy Policy, Islamic Terrorism, And Grand Strategy, Intervention In Liberia Linked To Oil Dependency (and note especially the excerpt from Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley's call for a massive effort to make huge advances in energy technologies), and China Energy Consumption Growth Complicates Anti-Terrorist Efforts.

On Doran's website he notes that he has a book forthcoming that has a very intriguing sounding title: The Trump Card: Israel in the Arab Civil War. The portrayal of the Arabs as being engaged in a big civil war among themselves finds support in the thinking of some of the best historical thinkers. Civil war is another way of describing what might be called intra-civilizational war. Read my previous post William H. McNeill on Samuel P. Huntington.

By Randall Parker    2004 January 05 09:06 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2003 December 22 Monday
Danish High Court Upholds Job Firing For Religious Headscarf Wearing

Najla Ainouz, a 25 year old Moroccan immigrant to Denmark, was fired from her job for the Foetex supermarket for wearing a hijab headscarf in violation of an employment contract that forbids workers from displaying any religious symbols and also forbids really dramatic hair colors and nose rings. Her union sued the supermarket but Denmark's high court ruled against Ainouz and her union.

Europe's controversy over the wearing of Islamic headscarves took a new twist yesterday when Denmark's high court ruled against a supermarket cashier who was sacked for wearing a hijab.

The Danish government has avoided legislating on what companies are allowed to require in dress codes.

In Denmark, successive governments have refused to legislate on the issue, leaving companies to decide for themselves.

This decision follows on the heels of the controversy in France and Germany over government restrictions on religious headscarf wearing. The difference in the Danish case is that it involved a decision made by a private company. The Danish court decision may not be a green light for a ban of all religious headgear by all Muslim workers because if headscarf wearing became more widespread among Muslim women a company's ban on headscarfs would end up causing the company to employ much fewer Muslim women than were present in the population at large.

My own view is that private organizations should be free to enforce rules that have greater impact on particular religious or other groups because the decisions of private organizations ought to be considered protected by a right to free association. People should be free to associate preferentially with whoever they prefer and that ability to exercise those preferences should extend all the way to the power of manager to choose who to hire.

By Randall Parker    2003 December 22 12:06 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 December 11 Thursday
Headscarf Bans In Schools Coming To France, German States

If Islam is so innocuous and Islamic immigrants are so compatible with Western European society then there would be no need to ban Islamic hijab headscarf wearing by teachers and students in European schools. Yet French President Jacques Chirac told a group of secondary school students in Tunis Tunisia that headscarfs and veils are "aggressive".

Jacques Chirac hinted strongly yesterday that France will soon introduce legislation banning Muslim girls from wearing headscarves to school, saying most French people saw "something aggressive" in the veil and that the secular state could not tolerate "ostentatious signs of religious proselytism".

Chirac says the behavior of a small minority can create problems for the rest of society.

"In our public schools, a veil has something aggressive about it which presents a problem of principle, even if only a small minority wears it."

A French government commission has just recommended banning of the headscarves without actually referring to these garments by name.

A government commission appointed by President Jacques Chirac recommended Thursday, December11 , issuing new law to ban "conspicuous" religious signs, including Hijab, in state schools.

A source in the20 -member commission, chaired by former minister Bernard Stasi, told IslamOnline.net that the50 -page made no reference to a specific religious sign to avoid antagonizing the Muslim or any other minority.

Bernard Stasi sees a threat that may destabilize the republic.

But he added: "We must be lucid -- there are in France some behaviors which cannot be tolerated. There are without any doubt forces in France which are seeking to destabilize the republic and it is time for the republic to react."

Well geez Bernard, if the threat is that big shouldn't you be doing more than just banning headscarves? How about something bolder like stopping the influx of Islamic immigrants and the deportation of illegal immigrants currently in France?

UPI Religious Affairs Editor Uwe Siemon-Netto provides some interesting insights into the headscarf debate including the fact that Muslims may choose to attend Christian schools in order to be able to wear headscarves.

France also has an extensive private school system, run mainly by the Catholic Church, where such a law would presumably not apply. This means that if it is adopted, children from strictly Islamic families might flock even more Christian schools, where veiled Muslim girls are already a frequent sight.

Clearly fearing that Christian and Jewish symbols, though usually more discreet than the "hidjab," will also be threatened, the leaders of the Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches warned against such legislation in a joint statement prior to Thursday's announcement; they were joined by grand rabbi Sitruk.

Saida Kada, co-author of a book defending hijab headscarf wearing, says headscarf wearing is a religious matter that has nothing to do with politics.

Mrs. Kada said hijab has nothing to do with politics, but is one of the rules of the Islamic faith.

She underlined that hijab was being used as a pretext to paper over some social ills inside the French society.

Here we start to get to the heart of the matter. Mrs. Kada strikes me as either naive or disingenuous. Islam is all about politics. An Islamic matter is a political matter because Islam does not separate the political sphere from religious sphere.

French philosopher Elisabeth Badinter sees headscarfs as a threat to equality for women.

"If we allow women to wear headscarves in state schools, then the republic and French democracy have made clear their religious tolerance but they have given up on any equality of the sexes in our country," says French philosopher Elisabeth Badinter

One fear is that if headscarves are allowed eventually fundamentalist male Islamists will start punishing any girls and women who do not wear them.

Many prominent French women have signed a petition for a ban on the headscarf.

DOZENS of prominent French women, including the actresses Emmanuelle Béart and Isabelle Adjani and the designer Sonia Rykiel, have issued a plea to Jacques Chirac, the president, to ban traditional Muslim veils as a "visible symbol of the submission of women".

The petition, which was signed by more than 60 of France’s most influential women and published in this week’s edition of French Elle, attacks the Islamic headscarf as "an intolerable discrimination against women" and calls for a law to reinforce the principle of a "lay" republic.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy favors appeasement.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has long opposed such a law, arguing that any ban would increase, rather than reduce, militancy among Muslims.

So Sarkozy is worried about Islamic militancy and opts for appeasement as the preferred response. Sorry Mr. Sarkozy, appeasement is not a solution that works in the long run.

Two German states are moving to ban Islamic headscarfs in schools.

Bavaria, after Baden-Wuerttemberg, is the second state to propose a ban.

Bavarian Education Minister Monika Hohlmeier said the headscarf was increasingly used as a political symbol.

"With this law, we are defending pupils against a potential fundamentalist influence and are respecting the wishes of the majority of parents," she said.

Christian and Jewish symbols are not included in the ban.

The Germans are not trying to pretend for the sake of an appearance of even-handed fairness, that Christian or Jewish religious symbols pose a similar threat.

Meanwhile, the battle over headscarfs continues in Turkey.

To Mazlumder, an Islamic human rights group that campaigns on behalf of women like Yilmaz, such figures are misleading. Worse, the military and police are putting pressure on women not to cover themselves, said Gulden Sonmez, the vice president of the group's Istanbul office.

Clashes between covered women and Turkish authorities have propelled the issue into the public eye. The Turkish president refused to invite the head scarf-wearing wives of Turkey's ruling party to a reception Oct. 29 commemorating modern Turkey's 80th anniversary. Most of the party's members stayed away in protest.

On Nov. 6, a female lawyer who appeared as a defendant before the Turkish Court of Appeals was ordered to leave the courtroom while her case was being heard because she refused to remove her scarf.

If Turkey is accepted as a member of the European Union my guess is that eventually a future Turkish government will relax and eventually do away with headscarf bans.

Update: For those who do not understand why the head scarf debate should even be a political issue decided by governments see some of my previous posts: John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq, Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development, and Muslim Hijab Worn To Protect Females As Property.

Update II: Stasi special commission secretary Remy Schwartz says Muslim girls are pressured into wearing the veil by fundamentalist Muslims.

Schwartz said Muslim girls said they were pressured into wearing veils by family and "outside groups" - a reference to activists officials say are promoting strict religious practices among French Muslims, who are of mostly North African origin.

Schwartz also says that Jewish children have had to leave some French public schools out of fear of their safety.

French chief rabbi Joseph Sitruk advises young French Jewish men to not wear yarmulkes in public in order to avoid being attacked.

"I ask them to replace the yarmulke with the baseball cap," he told Radio Shalom on Monday.

The official spin on the anti-Jewish attacks in France is absurd.

At five million and 650,000 respectively, France has the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe, and government officials and most Jewish leaders argue that the rising inter-community tensions are almost invariably the consequence of political, rather than religious or racial, differences.

Police and court records show that almost all the perpetrators of the latest anti-semitic attacks are young Muslims.

How can the differences be only political and not racial or religious? Would these young Muslims be attacking Jews if the Muslims were not Muslims? Are there Christian immigrants to France who are attacking Jews? In Islam the political is religious.

Update III: The wearing of veils and chadors in France is not voluntary for many Muslim women.

The commission reported that many public schools have become cultural hot spots where Muslim students and families question the authority of women educators, forbid girls to play sports, assault Jewish students and disrupt classes about historical issues such as the Holocaust.

Personnel in public hospitals told the commission about Muslim men demanding that only women doctors treat their wives and daughters, and about other patients, whose ethnicity was not identified in the report, refusing to be treated by doctors "because of their perceived religion," according to the report.

The report described an alarming rise in sexist abuse of girls in schools and housing projects where young men, threatening ostracism and violence, intimidate girls into wearing veils and other religious garb. Islamic extremism — Chirac referred Wednesday to "fanaticism gaining ground"— contributes to a vicious cycle of discrimination and alienation of jobless youths of Muslim descent, who retreat into the refuge of hard-core Islam, according to the report.

...

"They say that if the youth weren't so aggressive, it wouldn't have come to this," the intelligence official said. "You have more and more girls wearing veils or chadors. And it's not their parents, it's their brothers who are demanding that they put it on."

People who think the headscarf/veil issue is just a matter of individual choice versus state power are missing the oppression of Muslim females by Muslim males.

The US State Department is predictably clueless about the problem the French are wrestling with.

Where people "are peacefully practising their faith, is it really necessary to be outlawing their manifestation of their own faith?" John Hanford, the US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, asked.

Does Hanford think that Muslim males should be free to practice their heartfelt belief that they must force females to veil themselves?

"Where people are wearing these with no provocation simply as a manifestation of their own heartfelt beliefs, we don't see where this causes divisions among peoples," he said.

Writing for the New York Times Christopher Caldwell sees the headscarf debate as a consequence of a larger set of problems with Muslims in France.

Last year, the sociologist Emmanuel Brenner assembled a 200-page book, "The Lost Territories of the Republic,'' recounting dozens of incidents in which students directed ethnic slurs at their teachers and ridiculed lectures on the Holocaust. The book reportedly made a deep impression on Mr. Chirac. A half-dozen Jewish institutions have been burned to the ground, most recently in November, when an Orthodox primary school was torched in Gagny, a Paris suburb.

Jews are eventually going to have to leave France if the Muslim population in France continues to increase.

By Randall Parker    2003 December 11 02:24 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (87)
2003 December 03 Wednesday
Husain Haqqani Says Madrassah Schools Resistant To Change

Pakistani columnist Husain Haqqani has an excellent article in the November/December 2003 issue of Foreign Policy about the history and more recent changes in the development of Islamic Madrassah (also spelled Madrasa or Madrassa) religious schools.

The remarkable transformation and global spread of Madrasas during the 1980s and 1990s owes much to geopolitics, sectarian struggles, and technology, but the schools’ influence and staying power derive from deep-rooted socioeconomic conditions that have so far proved resistant to change. Now, with the prospect of Madrasas churning out tens of thousands of would-be militant graduates each year, calls for reform are growing. But anyone who hopes for change in the schools’ curriculum, approach, or mind-set is likely to be disappointed. In some ways, Madrasas are at the center of a civil war of ideas in the Islamic world. Westernized and usually affluent Muslims lack an interest in religious matters, but religious scholars, marginalized by modernization, seek to assert their own relevance by insisting on orthodoxy. A regular education costs money and is often inaccessible to the poor, but Madrasas are generally free. Poor students attending Madrasas find it easy to believe that the West, loyal to uncaring and aloof leaders, is responsible for their misery and that Islam as practiced in its earliest form can deliver them.

Saudi Arabia responded to the attempt of the Iranians to use Madrassah schools against Arab leaders and instead tried to redirect Sunni religious fervor to be against both Shiism and the West.

The Iranian Revolution and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, both in 1979, inspired a profound shift in the Muslim world—and in the Madrasas. Iran’s mullahs had managed to overthrow the shah and take power, undermining the idea that religious education was useless in worldly matters. Although Iranians belong to the minority Shiite sect of Islam, and their Madrasas have always had a more political character than Sunni seminaries, the image of men in turbans and robes running a country provided a powerful demonstration effect and politicized Madrasas everywhere.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolutionary regime promised to export its revolutionary Shiite ideas to other Muslim states. Khomeini invited teachers and students from Madrasas in other countries to Tehran for conferences and parades, and he offered money and military training to radical Islamic movements. Iranians argued that the corrupt Arab monarchies must be overthrown just as Iranians had overthrown the shah. Iran’s Arab rivals decided to fight revolutionary Shiite fundamentalism with their own version of Sunni fundamentalism. Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries began to pour money into Sunni Madrasas that rejected the Shiite theology of Iran, fund ulema who declared the Shiite Iranian model unacceptable to Sunnis, and call for a fight against Western decadence rather than Muslim rulers.

One reason why I argue in favor of many strategies for reducing the threat of Islamic terrorism that are rarely mentioned in the mainstream debate is that in my view the causes of the terrorism are deep-seated and very resistant to change. We can't just up and order a major religion to go through a huge intellectual change just because the adherents of that religion are reacting to modernity in ways that create growing threats to us. Nor can we end the threat simply by carrying out a series of military conquests.

We need to be inspired by Sun Tzu's The Art Of War and pursue more strategies of indirection such as funding scholars to do critical research on the origins of Islam, funding basic researchers to look for breakthroughs that will enable the development of technologies that obsolesce Middle Eastern oil, and the adoption of aggressive immigration and border control policies that drastically reduce the number of Muslims that can travel to the West. Because of our rather limited ability to change the development of Muslim societies in a positive fashion we face a situation analogous to a Cold War with a need for long term containment. There are no quick solutions.

By Randall Parker    2003 December 03 12:55 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 October 24 Friday
Rumsfeld Calls For Agency For Battle Of Ideas

In a Washington Times interview US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld calls for the creation of an agency tasked with fighting the battle of ideas.

Mr. Rumsfeld suggested a "21st-century information agency in the government" to help in the international battle of ideas, to limit the teaching of terrorism and extremism, and to provide better education, he said.

His referece to providing better education suggests he wants this agency to have an international aid function in order to funnel money to places like Pakistan to move kids out of madrassah schools and into secular schools.

It is hard to fight a battle of ideas when Western leaders don't want to admit that Islam at its very roots has serious problems. On the other hand, an attempt to convince Muslims to abandon their religion would most likely backfire. When people have conflicting beliefs and values and those beliefs are religiously based it is difficult to try to change their minds.

Rummy also recognizes the obvious fact that current efforts to stop the spread of nuclear and other highly dangerous weapons are not working.

"I think it's pretty clear that the current [weapons control] regimes that exist in the world aren't working," he said. "It is possible and not even difficult in many cases for terrorist states to find ways to get their hands on these technologies."

On the latter point be sure to read my previous post Henry Sokolski: Taking Proliferation Seriously if you haven't already.

By Randall Parker    2003 October 24 10:57 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 October 23 Thursday
William H. McNeill On Samuel P. Huntington

Back in January 1997 historian William Hardy McNeill wrote a review for the New York Review of Books of Samuel P. Huntington's book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order and made some great points worth pondering today.

It is easy to mock such self-righteousness, and Huntington's rejection of the moral imperialism implicit in such rhetoric seems to me well taken, especially in view of American unreadiness to back up most of our exhortations with potentially costly actions. But Huntington's recipe for adjusting relations between large blocs of nations somewhat loosely defined by the word "civilization" strikes me as no great improvement on naive moral crusading. First, he is persuaded, without showing us quite why, that the decline of the West has begun. To slow down this decline, the United States, he believes, should reaffirm its identity as a Western nation by repudiating multiculturalism at home, while "adopting an Atlanticist policy of close cooperation with its European partners to protect and advance the interests and values of the unique civilization they share." This sounds suspiciously like a bunker mentality, inviting us to hold out as long as we can against other, rising civilizations that are more demographically expansive, socially cohesive, and morally united than the now-decadent West.

I think the neocon project for remaking the world is lacking a coherent grand strategy and is entirely too idealistic. It is based on a naive and dangerous belief in a universalism of values that Huntington and McNeill both correctly reject. But at the same time, like McNeill, I do not see what he describes as the "bunker mentality" as a preferable alternative. Transportation and communications costs are falling even as technology for making powerful weapons advances in ways that drives down costs and lowers the barriers for making weapons of mass destruction. Isolationism is not an option. We have to be very involved with the rest of the world. So far, however, Western elites are not thinking ambitiously or imaginatively enough about how to prevail over the rising threats in large part due to a failure to recognize the sheer scale of the problem.

McNeill sees conflict and consolidation as a recurring theme in human history and he sees this process as moving to a global level due to advances in technology.

As World War II approached, I, too, was fascinated by theories of cyclical repetition in history. When I first read Toynbee in 1940 his tragic model of the human adventure struck me with all the force of a new revelation because his Study of History detected a simple, intelligible pattern in the past, despite a hitherto unimagined multiplicity of civilizations. He saw each of them rising and falling according to the same (or a very similar) pattern. Since then I have become more aware of the importance of two factors that Toynbee neglected. The first is that contemporary civilizations have always interacted with one another, even across long distances. The second is that human skills and ideas, propagated through these encounters between civilizations, have a cumulative character.

Parallels between the history of separate civilizations certainly exist. The most conspicuous such parallel is the way that intensifying conflict among rival, warring states ended up, time and again, in victory for one of the combatants, resulting in imperial consolidation of all the different political entities in the region. This pattern asserted itself in such diverse settings as ancient Mesopotamia, classical China, ancient India, pre-Columbian Peru, Muscovite Russia, and, of course, in the ancient Mediterranean world. In modern times, Western Europe came close to comparable political consolidation under Charles V; and only external intervention by previously marginal powers—first Britain, then Russia, and most recently the US—prevented such would-be conquerors as Louis XIV, Napoleon, and Hitler from establishing a pan-European empire. But of course, involvement of previously marginal powers merely enlarged the theater of political rivalry and prolonged the process of political consolidation without, necessarily, altering its ineluctable dynamics.

In our time, the improvements in the speed and effectiveness of transport and communication that dominate our lives has made this age-old process of political consolidation into a global affair. As Huntington argues with particular force, newly confident and powerful nations like China are sure to challenge existing world balances of power. Conflicts that take place across lines dividing different civilizations are likely to be more intractable than conflicts within civilizations simply because cultural differences multiply occasions for distrust and misunderstanding. It follows that in a world of civilizational blocs, however scrupulously each bloc may be assigned to the sphere of influence of one or more powerful states within the blocs, we may expect the same kinds of conflict that were so often enacted within separate civilizations in the past. The result could conceivably be consolidation of a world empire or the destruction of humankind in a nuclear, biological, and/or chemical holocaust.

Consolidation pressures may force world conflict just as those pressures did in Europe for centuries. This argues for a very bloody 21st century. If major conflict seems avoidable right now keep in mind that the 19th century attempts to balance the power in Europe seemed to work for a while but eventually collapsed into all-out continental war that extended into other theaters as well and then was followed by a second world war of even greater scope. Just because Europe has lost the stomach for a war within Europe does not mean that other parts of the world do not contain people who have the stomach for a far greater war.

One thing that McNeill and Huntington agree upon is that culture matters and cultural differences matter. There are civilizational differences that are a powerful source of conflict. Economic rationalists who want to see man as homo economicus miss this and as a consequence tend to see free trade as a powerful balm that could solve a great many conflicts if we would only, to paraphrase John Lennon, "give trade a chance". But trade and free markets are not a panacea.

Huntington points out that Westernization of less developed societies eventually leads to a form of de-Westernization. One can see this all over the world where the desire to feel a stronger sense of self esteem or self identity leads to the development of hostility toward the United States and in many cases for reasons quite unrelated to any particular US government policy.

Initially, Westernization and modernization are closely linked, with the non-Western society absorbing substantial elements of Western culture and making slow progress towards modernization. As the pace of modernization increases, however, the rate of Westernization declines and the indigenous culture goes through a revival. Further modernization then alters the civilizational balance of power between the West and the non-Western society, bolsters the power and self-confidence of that society, and strengthens commitment to the indigenous culture.

In the early phases of change, Westernization thus promotes modernization. In the later phases, modernization promotes de-Westernization and the resurgence of indigenous culture in two ways. At the societal level, modernization enhances the economic, military and political power of the society as a whole and encourages the people of that society to have confidence in their culture and to become culturally assertive. At the individual level, modernization generates feelings of alienation and anomie as traditional bonds and social relations are broken and leads to crises of identity to which religion provides an answer.

It sounds like Huntington is describing such countries as China, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia to varying extents.

It is not possible to freeze a favorable status quo. The continued economic development of China is going to change the world balance of power in ways unfavorable to the West as China becomes militarily more powerful and also supports Islamic countries which want to challenge the West. At the same time, technological advances are going to have the effect of making increasingly powerful weapons available to smaller countries and non-governmental groups. Advances in computing power and sensor networks will also radically change the nature of human conflict. Demographic changes look set to weaken Europe and the United States. An aging population and large numbers of unskilled immigrants are not recipes for economic dynamism in an economy increasingly driven by very highly skilled knowledge workers. These are just some of the many changes that are working against the development of a sustainable status quo.

McNeill holds out the hope that increasing connections between civilizations will decrease the extent of the conflict between them. That is a real possibility but only to the extent that those connections really do form. If, for instance, mainland Chinese do not come and read Western commentators and bloggers in substantial numbers then the advent of the internet will not do as much to lower cross-cultural misunderstandings as the optimists might hope. There is a contrary argument that can be made: it could be that humans with affinities of ethnicity, language, religious belief, values, and culture will use the advances in communications and transportation technologies to very selectively reach out to bond with like minds. If there are more channels on cable and more virtual channels in the form of web sites on the internet then people will be able to reach out more selectively to read and communicate with those they most agree with.

McNeill is the author of such fun books as The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force and Society Since A.D. 1000 which drives home the extent to which technological advances can change the shape of societies and The Rise of the West which addresses the question of how the West came to be so successful.

Also see my previous posts Stanley Kurtz on Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, Fukuyama's Critics On Modernizing Islam, and Terrorism and the Assumptions of Classical Liberalism.

Update: James Pinkerton argues that the world is going to be made up of three bloc of influence with the rest of the world up for grabs.

The first bloc is the American Bloc, led by, obviously, the United States.

The second bloc is the Eurasian Bloc, led by France, Germany, and Russia.

The third bloc is the East Asian Bloc, led by China.

As for the rest of the world, it's up for grabs, which means that future advantage will accrue to those who grasp the new dynamics of the three-way world.

From an economic standpoint his division makes a certain amount of sense. The US, Europe, and China look like they are going to be the three biggest economies in the world. So centering blocs around them makes sense. Whether India's economy, growing much more slowly than China's, can make India into a fourth major player remains doubtful at this point. Pinkerton doesn't make the Islamic countries into a bloc and that makes a certain amount of sense because there are serious divisions divisions between them in contrast to the unified US and China and the obviously unifying Europe.

Pinkerton is also correct in thinking that the French want to bring Russian into the European fold. Though it is unclear as to the practicability of doing this if it would entail the incorporation of Russia into the European Union. Putin also sees Realpolitik reasons to stay on friendly terms with the US because the US makes a more useful counterweight to future Chinese designs on Siberia than anything the more militarily timid Europe might have to offer. At the same time, the cost to the EU of incorporating Russia into the EU would be enormous and the political implications of having so many Russians voting in EU elections for parliament would be profound as well.

One wildcard is whether the Muslim lands, and the Arab lands in particular, will undergo consolidation. As McNeill argues, consolidation has been a recurring theme and pressures for consolidation are obviously present.

Update II: Huntington's original Foreign Affairs essay that inspired him to write his book can be found here and here and here.

It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new worldwill not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.

...

These conflicts between princes, nation states and ideologies were primarily conflicts within western civilisation. "Western civil wars," as William Lind has labeled them. This was as true of the cold war as it was of the world wars and the earlier wars of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. With the end of the cold war, international politics moves out of its western phase and its centrepiece becomes the interaction between the West and non-western civilisations and among non-western civilisations. In the politics of civilisations, the peoples and governments of non-western civilisations no longer remain the objects of history as targets of western colonialism but join the West as movers and shapers of history.

One thought struck me while reading Huntington's essay: We can not make the whole world safe for democracy. Attempts to do so are a naive and dangerous overreaching that fails to take account of the depth of the differences that separate the major groupings of people in the world.

By Randall Parker    2003 October 23 02:24 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2003 October 16 Thursday
Mahathir On Jews: We Are Up Against People Who Think

Here is one of those reports which are simultaneously disturbing and hilarious. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad delivered a speech to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit meeting in Putrajaya Malaysia that Muslims need to unite and think in order to fight the Jews. IMRA reports that his speech was entitled: Treaty Now - Triumph Later - The Jews Are Making Mistakes

It is surely time that we pause to think. But will this be wasting time? For well over half a century we have fought over Palestine. What have we achieved? Nothing. We are worse off than before. If we had paused to think then we could have devised a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory. Pausing and thinking calmly is not a waste of time. We have a need to make a strategic retreat and to calmly assess our situation.

We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.

We may not be able to do that. We may not be able to unite all the 1.3 billion Muslims. We may not be able to get all the Muslim Governments to act in concert. But even if we can get a third of the ummah and a third of the Muslim states to act together, we can already do something. Remember that the Prophet did not have many followers when he went to Madinah. But he united the Ansars and the Muhajirins and eventually he became strong enough to defend Islam.

Apart from the partial unity that we need, we must take stock of our assets. I have already mentioned our numbers and our oil wealth. In today's world we wield a lot of political, economic and financial clout, enough to make up for our weakness in military terms.

Mahathir complements his enemy's ability to think:

The enemy will probably welcome these proposals and we will conclude that the promoters are working for the enemy. But think. We are up against a people who think. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also.

What, persecuting Jews is not suppose to appear to be wrong? Unless Jews are persecuted they will inevitably take over the world? Is that what Mahathir is trying to tell us?

While IMRA's page reads as if it is the entire contents of his speech there are excerpts on other sites that seem to be from the same speech that say more.

He says they should have had a plan.

"For well over half a century, we have fought over Palestine," the Malaysian leader said. "What have we achieved? Nothing. We are worse off than before. If we had paused to think, then we could have devised a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory."

He told the audience of sheiks, emirs, kings and presidents that Muslims had the world's richest civilization during Europe's Dark Ages, but disputes over dogma - instead of embracing technology and science - had left them weak and divided.

"Because we are discouraged from learning of science and mathematics as giving us no merit for the afterlife, today we have no capacity to produce our own weapons for our defence. We have to buy our weapons from our detractors and enemies."

Well Mr. Mahathir, it doesn't exactly encourage critical thinking if kids are sent to Madrassah schools to memorize the Koran in a language that many of them don't even understand. But if they were taught to think critically they might become less religious. So the Muslims face a tough task. They need to get people to think about science and yet uncritically accept their own religion. Now, some people can be convinced to do that. The task facing them is not entirely hopeless and that should be cause for concern on our part. How well they can strike a balance between religious indoctrination on one hand and scientific and technological thinking on the other hand will be a major factor in determining how much of a threat the Islamic countries pose to the rest of the world going forward.

Mahathir says Islam is not just a religion for your ancestors of a hundred generations remove.

"Islam is not just for the seventh century AD. Times have changed. Whether we like it or not we have to change," Mahathir said. "Not our teaching. ... Islam is not wrong, but the interpretations by our scholars can be wrong."

Can be wrong? Or are wrong?

Here's another set of excerpts from the speech. Note that his comments here can also serve as useful advice for the Israelis: Don't make mistakes out of arrogance just because your enemies have been so lame in the past.

"Of late because of their power and their apparent success they have become arrogant. And arrogant people, like angry people will make mistakes, will forget to think. They are already beginning to make mistakes. There may be windows of opportunities for us now and in the future. We must seize these opportunities."

Note as well in these linked-to articles the praise heaped on Mahathir by assorted Muslim country leaders including leaders from Qatar, Egypt, and Afghanistan. Now, some are praising him for his call for more education. But the idea of getting the Muslims together to take on the Jews is exciting them as well.

If anyone finds the complete text of his speech please either post a link to it in the comments or email it to me.

Update: Some people think that if the Muslim countries industrialize and modernize they will become less dangerous with time. The problem with the "if they modernize they will get decadent and forget about Israel" plan is that a number of modernizing societies have been extremely dangerous in the past. I'm thinking of Wilhelmine Germany on up thru WWII. I'm also thinking of imperial Japan.

The problem is that the old attitudes last a few generations before old generations die off and the new kids grow up totally decadent. The transition period is dangerous. Therefore if the Muslims are encouraged to modernize in order to fight the Jews and if they succeed in modernizing then they will probably fight the Jews.

Parabellum provides a link to the full text of the speech here.

Update II: Mahathir is upset by the reaction he's gotten from his speech.

> "In my speech I condemned all violence, even the suicide bombings and I told the Muslims it's about time we stopped all these things and paused to think and do something that is much more productive," he said. "That was the whole tone of my speech, but they picked up one sentence where I said that the Jews control the world."

He feels he is being treated unfairly. There is something comical about the guy. If he didn't want people to focus on a single sentence then he shouldn't have said that single sentence. It was inevitable they were going to do so. But he said that sentence because he saw it worth saying as a way to strengthen his street credibility among Muslims. So he has to pay a price in terms of criticism coming from some commentators. He probably would say the sentence all over again.

Here's what I see best illustrates the absurdity of his claim:: If some group of a few million people really did control the world they'd protect themselves from it a lot better than the Jews in Israel have so far protected themselves against the Palestinian terrorist bombers and from other threats in the region. If Jews controlled the world they've manage to have much greater protection from all sorts of developing trends that are unfavorable to Israel.

By Randall Parker    2003 October 16 02:42 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (18)
2003 August 23 Saturday
Al-Muhajiroun Celebrate "Magnificent 19" For 9/11 Attack

Godless Capitalist draws attention to this web page by the Al-Muhajiroun Muslim organization celebrating the September 11, 2001 attack.

Two years on then, it seems that during their customary 1 minutes silence in NewYork and elsewhere on September the 11th 2003, Muslims worldwide will again be watching replays of the collapse of the Twin Towers, praying to Allah (SWT) to grant those magnificent 19, Paradise. They will also be praying for the reverberations to continue until the eradication of all man-made law and the implementation of divine law in the form of the Khilafah - carrying the message of Islam to the world and striving for Izhar ud-Deen i.e. the total domination of the world by Islam.

Al-Muhajiroun advocates that Muslims in the West should be a fifth column fighting for the overthrow and subjugation of non-Muslims by Muslims.

4. The preparation of themselves to be the front line of the coming Khilafah i.e. to become strong and united in order to become the fifth column which is able to put pressure on the enemies of Islam and to be able to support the Muslim Ummah world-wide.

Godless calls for the British to deport the Al-Muhajiroun members living in Britain. Given that the leader of Al-Muhajiroun clearly rejects the legitimacy ofsecular legal authority it is clear that this is an organization that rejects the legitimacy of any state that is not a Muslim state.

As I've stated previously, as long as Westerners refuse to examine religious ideologies as critically as they look at secular ideologies the West is going to fail to adequately defend itself. Contrary to the claims of Islam's Western apologists belief systems that claim supernatural origins are not automatically, because of their claims of supernatural origins, benign and beneficial for the maintenance of a free society.

For more on the dangers of secular and religious ideologies see the Religious and Secular Ideologies archive.

By Randall Parker    2003 August 23 11:56 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (90)
2003 August 02 Saturday
India Extending Its Fence On Border With Pakistan

Rama Lakshmi reports for the Washington Post on India's extension of its fence to keep Pakistani Islamic guerillas out of Jammu and Kashmir.

Construction of the fences began in the late 1980s in the state of Punjab, when India faced an armed Sikh separatist uprising and weapons were being smuggled from Pakistan. The fences now cover almost half the border, at a cost so far of $300 million. India is pushing ahead with work in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, to stop Islamic guerrillas from entering from Pakistan. India accuses Pakistan of training and arming militants who are fighting to end India's rule in Kashmir. The two nations have fought two of their three wars over the region.

Lakshmi says the fence illustrates "the deep suspicion, hostility and paranoia that have bedeviled relations between the nuclear neighbors for more than half a century". What is it with reporters who write like this? The fence is being built because it will reduce the number of people who get killed by Islamic fighters who come across the Line Of Control from Pakistan to India. The fence "illustrates" the desire of the Indian government to reduce the number of people who live in fear and get wounded and killed.

Is the main problem between India and Pakistan "deep suspicion, hostility and paranoia"? Or is the main problem quite simply that Pakistan's leaders and people have convinced themselves (as Muslims have done in many other regions of the world) that the only natural order of things is for Muslims to rule Muslms and Muslims to rule non-Muslims and that it is never right for non-Muslims to rule Muslims?

A Pakistani general is quoted in the article claiming that since the Jammu and Kashmir border is not officially settled India's construction of a fence thru it is an attempt to alter the status of the disputed region and therefore is a violate international commitments. But isn't Pakistani support for fighters who kill people in the disputed region and in the rest of India an attempt to alter the status of the area and therefore doesn't it also constitute a violation of international commitments? I'm skeptical of lofty-sounding legal rhetoric trotted out to justify a position in a conflict between nations.

By Randall Parker    2003 August 02 01:16 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 July 23 Wednesday
Saudis Spreading Their Teachings Among Cambodian Cham Muslims

The 700,000 Cham Muslims in Cambodia follow a form of Islam that mixes in elements of Buddhism and other religions. As they are doing in other countries the Saudis are providing funding to spread a more purist and fundamentalist form of Islam among the Cham with predictable results.

Acting on intelligence gleaned from joint operations with the United States, Cambodian police swooped on a Saudi-funded Om al-Qura school near the capital to arrest three foreigners with suspected links to militant Islam, possibly even Osama bin Laden.

An Egyptian, two Thais and a Cambodian are in a Phnom Penh jail, accused of being members of Jemaah Islamiah, the Southeast Asian militant group believed to be behind the bombings in the Indonesian resort island of Bali. More than 200 people, most of them young Western tourists, died in October's blasts.

Nearly 50 people, including teachers at the 500-pupil school and their families, left the country as part of the crackdown.

Cham ethnic leaders say they are being unfairly targeted.

The government has ''used us in their game as a political issue, to please America and Australia, so they can get aid,'' said Ahmad Yahya, a leader of the Cham community and a secretary of state and deputy minister in the government. ''If these people are terrorists, we are very pleased for the government to arrest and jail them. But they have no proof.''

Some Thai Muslims travel to the Middle East to be taught a purer form of Islam.

According to the Thai Foreign Ministry, at least 5,000 Thai Muslims have finished their university education in Muslim countries, the largest number in Egypt followed by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Libya.

...

Since the arrests of two Thai religious teachers in Cambodia in May and another three Thai suspects in South Thailand, all accused of links with Jemaah Islamiyah, Thai authorities have come down in full force, saying that the regional terrorist organisation has a strong foothold inside the country.

Falling costs of communications and transportation are causing Muslim communities of Southeast Asia that previously were fairly isolated to have a lot more contact with Middle Eastern Muslims. That contact plus the missionary efforts funded with oil money are causing the local forms of Islam that mix in beliefs from other religions to be gradually displaced by purer and politically more potent varieties of Islam. It is not surprising that this should make Southeast Asian Muslim communities more fertile ground for recruiting terrorists.

By Randall Parker    2003 July 23 10:49 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 July 20 Sunday
Kuwait Split Between Islamists, Tribalists, Modernists

Amir Taheri reports on an interesting twist in Arab politics: the rise of tribalism in Kuwaiti politics is in opposition to both the modernizers and the Islamists.

The Islamists, having at first encouraged Bedouinisation as part of a broader strategy to prevent Kuwait's Westernisation, now regard the tribes as a potentially dangerous enemy for themselves. After all, Islam, is the first great religion born in a city and opposed to the Jahiliyah (ignorance) of the desert in its time.

"What matters to these guys is their tribe," says an Islamist intellectual. "They regard Islam as just a small part of their Bedouin lore and certainly would not want an Islamic system in which there are no tribes or even nations, only the broader Muslim Ummah."

Taheri says that the ruling elites see tribalism as a useful non-democratic non-Western counterweight to Islamism. Tribalism poses less of a threat to the elites than either the Islamists or the democratizing modernists.

By Randall Parker    2003 July 20 10:30 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 June 18 Wednesday
Arab-American Prom In Dearborn Michigan

Writing for the Associated Press Tarek El-Tablawy reports on Arab-American kids at the Fordson High School prom in Michigan

"It's not for me to judge," says Makkad, who is Lebanese but has been in the United States for five years. "But in my opinion, if you take the hijab, you shouldn't be out there dancing."

Fatimah Ajami, 17, unaware she's caught Makkad's eye, continues dancing with her friend, Zeina Nasser. Ajami's modest silvery-cream dress and matching hijab are in stark contrast to Nasser's strapless blue gown and the glitter sprinkled delicately at the corner of her eyes.

Click thru and check out the pictures. I think Fatimah Ajami's dress looks more exotic than modest.

What the report doesn't really explain is what percentage of these kids are from Muslim vs Christian Arab families? Also, of the kids who attended versus those who didn't attend which are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation? Is there a trend toward assimilation?

By Randall Parker    2003 June 18 11:48 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (53)
2003 June 16 Monday
Islamists Set To Capture Quarter Of Jordanian Parliament

The Islamists in Jordan are threatening not to participate in the elections but it is most likely they will do so and will capture about a quarter of the parliamentary seats.

Jordan's electoral system favors staunchly tribal constituencies over the largely Palestinian cities, which are Islamic strongholds and highly politicized.

But the Islamists are expected to win nearly a quarter of the 104 seats, which 765 candidates are contesting.

Other reports say that there are 110 seats and that the Islamists may win as many as 30 of them. The Islamists will win that many seats in spite of an electoral system heavily tilted in favor of the non-Palestinian rural areas.

According to Mr Samhouri, Abu Zant's Amman constituency has an MP for each 52,255 voters, while Karak, the home town of the interior minister, has an MP for 6,000 voters.

The Islamists are unhappy that the government has diplomatic relations with Israel.

"This will be a chance for us to shed light on official policies that contradict our national principles, such as normalisation with the Zionist enemy and relations with the United States that harm our Arab and Muslim interests," he said.

The presence of a large Palestinian population in Jordan and the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis obviously plays a role in these attitudes. Still, it is worth noting that the Palestinian population turns toward an Islamic party to express their dissatisfaction, not toward a more secular challenger.

Roger Scruton, author of The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat, (more about Scruton's ideas in this previous post) has a review in The American Conservative of Fareed Zakaria's book The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. There is a portion of the review that brings up an interesting figure about what level of per capita GDP is correlated with a successful transition to democracy.

Elected dictatorships, which extinguish opposition, destroy the political process too. It is only where people are free to dissent that genuine democratic choice is possible. Hence liberty should come higher than democracy in the wish list of our politicians. You can have liberty without democracy, but not democracy without liberty: such is the lesson of European history. Before imposing democratic regimes, therefore, we should ensure that civil liberty is properly entrenched in a rule of law, a rotation of offices, and the freedom to dissent. These institutions tend to arise naturally, Zakaria argues, with the emergence of a socially mobile middle class. That is why the transition to democracy is successful in countries with a per capita GDP of $3,000 to $6,000 but not in countries where it is significantly less.

Let us apply this observation to Jordan. Does the popularity of the Islamists (who would not use power gained from an electoral win to protect liberty) in Jordan fit with the theory that a sufficiently affluent nation should be able to support a viable democracy? Keep in mind that Jordan is not a big oil producer and so what level of economic development it has achieved reflects more the total productive capacity of its industry than it does pure geological luck. Therefore its per capita GDP is a fairly decent measure of how far Jordan has travelled toward industrialisation and a market economy. Jordan has GDP per capita measured in purchasing power parity $4,300 (2002 est.). This is near the middle of the range cited by Zakaria. Yet the elections in Jordan have to be rigged to keep the Islamists out of power.

My guess is that a Muslim country must rise to a higher level of income than is the case with a non-Muslim state to create the conditions which support a democracy that protects liberty. Democratic Muslim states that have democracies and that do a decent job of protecting liberty are rare. But Muslim countries which have achieved a decent standard of living without oil resources are also fairly rare. Turkey has achieved a $7000 per capita GDP and probably does a better job of protecting individual liberty than any Arab country. Egypt is at $3700 per capita GDP. So is Morocco. Neither Egypt or Morocco has a large middle class clamoring for liberal secular democracy.

By Randall Parker    2003 June 16 12:50 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 June 06 Friday
Mark Steyn On Arab Democracy In Jordan And Iraq

Visiting Jordan before his tour thru Iraq Mark Steyn found tribal and family loyalties played a big role in Jordanian elections.

In Jordan, the electoral districting is weighted towards the rural areas, and the local newspapers carry ads announcing the various tribes’ and families’ candidates. Because they’re running tribally, they avoid taking a stand on contentious matters, such as the recent court decision giving an Amman plumber one year in jail for the ‘honour crime’ of strangling his sister. In fact, they avoid taking a stand even on uncontentious matters. Their platform is to eschew platforms. These men will provide the bulk of the government’s support in parliament, and having a coherent political philosophy will only get in the way.

Steyn argues that democracy should start in Iraq at the municipal level first in order to give Iraqis experience with democracy at a level closer to the people. He even argues for regional parliaments to precede a national elected government. All of this seems wise. However, as long as the practice of cousin marriage keeps the rate of consanguinity high in the Middle East democracy will not be able to flourish there. I wonder whether Mark as a conservative would consider placing some limits on his support for strong family ties. Also, how long does he think it will take for democracy in Arab countries to start to work as well as it does in Turkey? Count me in the ranks of the pessimists on prospects for successful Arab democracy.

By Randall Parker    2003 June 06 03:13 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 June 04 Wednesday
Patrick Sookhdeo Describes Muslim TV And Persecution Of Christians

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, an Anglican priest, is director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity which one web site describes as "a Christian research institute specialising in the status of Christian minorities in the Muslim world". One article calls it the educational arm of the Barnabus Fund. Sookhdeo has written an article in The Spectator of the UK describing the role that Muslim television channels are playing in promoting militant Islam among British Muslims. (same article here)

I myself flicked through the channels on the rather antiquated television set in my room at the Baghdad Sheraton and found broadcasts from Abu Dhabi and from Iran. I watched footage of ayatollahs in southern Iraq and images of the Palestinians suffering at the hands of the Israelis. I sat there captivated by the repeated, stylised pictures: a boy throwing stones at an Israeli tank; the Israelis moving in and shooting; the bulldozing of Palestinian homes. Then there was the Arabic-language news from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera and from its new Dubai-based rival, Al-Arabiya. If Hezbollah’s channel is not yet bringing Iraqis its regular shots of black-clad marching soldiers of Allah, it cannot be long.

...

The national television station of Pakistan plays an important role in creating opinion among Asian Muslims in Britain. Launched in 1964 with the motive of enabling the government to communicate with the largely illiterate masses, it is still very much controlled by the Pakistani government. News and other programmes from Pakistan television are broadcast on the satellite channels Prime TV and ARY, which are watched by many British Asians. This programming deliberately creates and nurtures an image of ‘the enemy’, which is communicated to viewers every day, as described by I.A. Rehman, director of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission, in his 2001 paper ‘Enemy Images on Pakistan Television’.

It is becoming increasingly possible to use advances in media technology to help create a cultural and religious environment in an immigrant community that is at odds with the larger society they live in and more like the environment that the community originated from. This culture can be successfully passed along and be a stronger force in the minds of children of immigrants than the dominant culture of the nation which the immigrants live in. This is a particular problem with immigrant communities which hold cultural and religious beliefs that are strongly in conflict with the beliefs of the larger society.

The ability to propagate the beliefs of an immigrant family's country of origin even to offspring born and raised in a country with a different dominant culture and religion has been demonstrated by a recent pair of British Muslims who went to Israel to be suicide bombers. One was born in Britain and the other came to Britain from Pakistan at the age of 6. This event has occasioned quite a few essays in the British press about the problem. Though few are as willing as Sookhdeo to blame Islam itself for the willingness of British Muslims to go fight for the Taliban in Afghanistan or become suicide bombers in Israel.

When Samuel P. Huntington first published his The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order he received a lot of criticism from a number of quarters. Among those critics were many Muslim intellectuals who thought his argument would encourage hostility in the West toward the Muslim countries. However, the tone of official Pakistani television programming and that of other Muslim countries are a strong indication that deep down the elite decision makers in those societies want their populaces to really believe that there is an on-going Clash of Civilizations between the West and Islam. Some in the West argue that this hostile message in the press of Muslim countries is intended to distract their populaces from the failures of their own societies. This explanation is becoming less persuasive to me with time. The scale of the propaganda aimed at portraying Muslims as always the victims and non-Muslims as always the committers of evil acts seems too great for that explanation to work. The hostility in the Muslim press seems more a product of basic Muslim views. It seems like a tool to block the spread of any ideas that will undermine the power and influence of Islam.

It is interesting to note that one of the British Muslim suicide bombers, Asif Mohammed Hanif, had been an active participant in the 'LightStudy' Sufi group which is strongly opposed to the use of terrorism. In spite of this background he eventually decided that he should kill himself in order to kill Israeli Jews. Perhaps like one of his British Muslim admirers he might have seen his act as martyrdom in the clash of civilizations.

One young Islamist, who refused to give his name, had travelled from Hertfordshire to attend Friday prayers. He told The Observer that martyrdom was a Muslim duty: 'Any Muslim who denies it has left Islam. Palestine, Kashmir, Chechyna, these are all struggles where it is justified to become a "shaheed". This is a clash of civilisations.'

The Clash of Civilizations is getting harder on Christians in Muslim majority countries. Sookhdeo says the position of Christians in Muslim countries has been steadily decaying for the last 20 years. Sookhdeo says a half million Christians in Indonesia have been forced to become refugees and 30,000 killed as a result of attacks by increasingly radicalized Muslims. Is this true? Most of the reports do not break out the death and refugee totals by religion. However, the total numbers of refugees reported by other sources make Sookhdeo's numbers plausible at least. Sookhdeo has met resistance from some Christian church leaders in Britain who do not want him speaking about the discrimination that Christians face in Muslim countries. The church leaders are opposed to Sookhdeo's view that the attacks on Christians by Muslims are motivated by beliefs that are core to Islam and derived directly from the Koran.

By Randall Parker    2003 June 04 02:43 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2003 May 27 Tuesday
Evangelical Christians Organize To Proselytize Muslims

The New York Times has an article about evangelical Christian efforts to proselytize Muslims.

In evangelical churches and seminaries across the country, lectures and books criticizing Islam and promoting strategies for Muslim conversions are gaining currency. More than a dozen recently published critiques of Islam are now available in Christian bookstores.

Arab International Ministry, the Indianapolis group that led the crash course on Islam here, claims to have trained 4,500 American Christians to proselytize Muslims in the last six years, many of those since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Historically attempts by Christian missionaries to reach Muslims have yielded few converts. There are a number of reasons for this. First off, as Franklin Graham has repeatedly pointed out, few Muslim majority nations allow Christian missionaries to work inside their borders.

In most countries where Islamic law dominates there is practically no freedom of religion (not to mention freedom of speech or the press). In most Islamic countries, including so-called moderate Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, it is a crime to build a Christian church, Jewish synagogue, Hindu temple or any other non-Muslim house of worship. In contrast, there are about 3,000 mosques in the U.S., with new ones being built every week.

Lebanon is one Muslim majority country where some Christian missionaries work and they do so at some risk to their lives.

ISTANBUL, May 7 (Compass) -- An Arab convert to Christianity was killed in a bomb blast last night outside his Tripoli apartment, adjacent to the home of a European missionary family thought to have been targeted in the attack.

There are some heavy disincentives for conversion to Christianity in many Muslim countries.

Becoming a Christian in many Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran or Afghanistan can mean that one loses one's job, one's ability to be educated, one's family, and even one's life, Wendy Norvell of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board told UPI.

Also, Muslims in other countries are hard to reach. Islam is a particularly resilient meme. Therefore the latest Christian attempts to seek converts are unlikely to do much to reduce the size of the Muslim ummah that has such hostility toward Western Civilization.

As for the more liberal Christian church leaders who emphasise what is in common between Christianity and Islam: as P.T. Barnum would say "there's a sucker born every minute". Liberal church ecumenical meetings with Muslim counterparts which down play the size of the differences between the major religions are naive.

Alan F. H. Wisdom, vice president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, who drafted the guidelines, said that much of the dialogue that Christians carried on with Muslims across the United States after Sept. 11, 2001, was motivated by "a genuine, perhaps naïve wish to be reassured that they don't all hate us."

Mr. Wisdom said, "There has been the tendency to put reconciliation above witness to the truth here."

Diane Knippers, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), charts a middle position.

Knippers observed that conservative Christians tend toward oversimplifications that are pessimistic. In their zeal for the Gospel, they are quick to make stark distinctions between Christianity and Islam. “This approach thwarts true dialogue with gratuitous insults that cut short the conversation – indeed can lead to unnecessary conflict and violence.”

Liberals, on the other hand, tend toward oversimplifications that are idealistic. Motivated by a desire to be peacemakers and reconcilers, liberals are often quick to downplay theological differences between Islam and Christianity. “This approach thwarts honest dialogue because it takes off the table the very issues that most need to be discussed, including human rights,” Knippers explained.

The IRD has released an interesting document entitled Guidelines for Christian-Muslim Dialogue. Worth a read.

The IRD folks make a number of good points. But one is still left with a basic question: What is the nature of Islam? I do not automatically assume that just because a religion has hundreds of millions of believers it is inherently good or that it has a set of effects that, on balance, are good. Also, I do not automatically assume that just because a belief system is a religion it is bad or that its net effect is bad. In my view one has to judge each religion based on its unique combination of beliefs and practices and even according to the circumstances of an era.

When it comes to Islam one has to seriously consider the possibility that the most vociferous critics of Islam may well be right in arguing that our conflict with Islam may be the consequence of Islamic beliefs that are core to Islam. One might hope that the conflict is due to beliefs that are peripheral or that are the result of misinterpretation by some Muslims of their faith. But belief systems can be incompatible. Some conflicts can be due to basic differences in world view where there is just no way to reconcile the conflicting values and beliefs.

For more on views about Islam among prominent figures in the American Religious Right see my previous post Debate On American Right About Nature Of Islam. For more general discussions of the conflict between the West and Muslims see my Clash Of Civilizations archive and Religious, Secular Ideologies archive.

Update: Razib comments on the NY Times article over on Gene Expression. Also, he makes an excellent point in the comments section of this post: Islam came along after Christianity and therefore its "meme shape" (not sure what to call it) is tailored to being resistant to the Christian message. It is very important for a belief system to have a message that can effectively dismiss the arguments of competing belief systems. It is quite possible, though, that Christianity has gone thru (or is going thru?) enough mutation and development (I really do think in biological metaphors) that it might be able to present itself in a way that will allow it to make some in-roads. Still, I expect the in-roads will be quite small for many years to come.

By Randall Parker    2003 May 27 12:29 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (17)
2003 May 26 Monday
Morocco To Become Theocratic Democracy Or Have Civil War?

Writing in The Christian Science Monitor Philip Smucker examines the political and religious conditions in Morocco that gave rise to the suicide bombers there and reports that many diplomats draw parallels between Morocco and Algeria.

They worry about a scenario in which Islamic parties, currently on the rise, win an election and then have the results stolen from them - as occurred in the early 1990s in Algeria before that nation tumbled into civil strife that has left more than 60,000 dead. "You have to wonder if the king is unleashing something he won't be able to get back into the bottle," says one Western analyst.

Family structure and Islam are two very big obstacles to the development of secular democracy in Arab countries.

By Randall Parker    2003 May 26 01:45 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 May 23 Friday
Consanguineous Marriage Perpetuates Violence In Muslim Mindanao

The predominately Muslim province of Mindanao in the Philippines is the scene of a long-standing rebellion against the central government of the Philippines. Not coincidentally it is also marked by a high incidence of marriages arranged between relatives and this pattern of marriage helps to perpetuate a cycle of violence even between the Muslims themselves.

Rido is a long-time practice of exacting vengeance among Maranaos. Family members up to the third consanguinity of both feuding clans have to defend family honor and take the responsibility in killing their nemeses. The cycle of violence can only be patched up by the tribe’s elders, and this involves financial and material compensation and swearing before the Koran that both parties are renouncing rido.

Consanguinity in marriages is a major obstacle in the political development of the Muslim Middle East and other Muslim lands.

An article in The Scientist (free registration required) about recessive genetic traits causing a higher incidence of deafness among Palestinians also provides evidence of a high level of consanguineous marriage in that group.

The global average for hereditary hearing loss is one out of every 1,000. Among Palestinians the rate is 1.7 out of 1,000; in some Palestinian communities, the rate is as high as 2.5.1

By contrast the Israeli Jews have a deafness rate that almost equals the world average and the Israelis not coincidentally are able to support a parliamentary democracy. The Islamic societies are unable to form modern nation-states because the loyalties that a nation-state needs to function well are shifted down toward the extended family and up toward the larger Muslim community. This leaves the nation-state unable to develop a supporting civil society. Also, the governments are unable to recruit bureaucrats who do not face large demands from their families to use their government positions in the interest of their families and to the detriment of the functioning of a government.

By Randall Parker    2003 May 23 11:04 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 May 15 Thursday
Increasing Number Of European Pakistani Women Forced Into Marriages

A rise in fundamentalist Islam among Pakistanis living in Europe is leading to an increasing number of young ethnically Pakistani women being tricked into returning to Pakistan to enter into forced marriages.

Aziz's story is only the most recent example of hundreds of young girls who become victims of their families' desire to preserve an age-old tradition. According to human rights activists, 250 girls like Aziz - daughters of British citizens from Pakistan - were forced into marriages with relatives in 2002 alone.

Once in Pakistan the women rarely have any recourse. Human rights activist Attiya Dawood in Pakistan is quoted in the article as saying: "Here girls are treated as animals. They are bought, sold and even bartered to settle the tribal feuds".

By Randall Parker    2003 May 15 12:27 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2003 May 13 Tuesday
Saudi Bombings Cause Expatriates To Flee

The United States government has advised US citizens to leave Saudi Arabia.

WASHINGTON, May 13 (UPI) -- The United States Tuesday advised its citizens to leave Saudi Arabia following a series of car-bomb attacks in the kingdom's capital that killed 29 people, including seven Americans.

There are about 35,000 Americans, about 30,000 Britons, and a total of 5 million expatriate workers living in Saudi Arabia.

Given the large number of expatriates serving in key roles in many different parts of the Saudi Arabian economy the rush of expatriates to leave has got to cause the government of Saudi Arabia some major problems.

Expatriates began flying out of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday after the terrorist attacks punctured their safe havens. Diplomats said flights were fully booked, and the airports were crowded with families queuing to leave.

Will the Saudi princes respond to the rising problem with terrorism inside their own borders by reforming their school cirricula to stop teaching intolerance of non-Wahhabis? Will the princes pressure the Wahhabi mullahs to stop delivering sermons that condemn the infidels? Will the Saudi government start locking up a significant number of the Al Qaeda who came back from Afghanistan after the Taliban regime fell? On all these questions count me in the ranks of the skeptical. They may instead decide they need to try even harder to appease their own religious extremists. The House Of Saud may not be capable of reforming their Kingdom to make it less a threat to themselves and to the rest of the world. If that is the case then a civil war in Saudi Arabia may happen at some point in the future.

Would a revolution and civil war in Saudi Arabia work to the disadvantage of the United States? That depends. If Saudi Arabia broke apart in a revolution one great result would be that the Shias would gain control of all the oil and hence all the money.

Shi'ites are thought to form a majority in the Eastern Province, where most of the oil lies.

The spread of Sunni Wahhabi Islam would be undercut if the oil fields that provide the biggest source for funding Wahhabism came under control of a Shia population that is unsympathetic to the Sunni sect.

Currently a lot of Saudi money is going into the spread of Wahhabism in the United States and around the world.

"I would say billions of dollars have been spent in the United States to advance Wahhabism," Schwartz said. "The Wahhabi sect, backed by Saudi Arabia, controls 70 to 80 percent of the mosques in the United States. That means they control the teaching, the preaching, the literature that's distributed, and they control the training of the Imams. They control all the Imams in the federal and state prisons, and they control the imams in the U.S. military. That is, they instruct, they indoctrinate and they certify the chaplains in the federal and state prison systems and in the military."

The Saudis are spending more per year to spread Wahhabism than the Soviet Union spent to spread communism.

"This is the largest worldwide propaganda campaign ever mounted," he explains. "Official Saudi sources indicate that between 1975 and 1987, Riyadh's ‘overseas development aid’ averaged $4 billion per year, and there is evidence that this level was maintained in the 1990s. While some of this aid did go to legitimate development-assistance activities, Saudi data show that at least half ($50 billion over two and a half decades) and perhaps as much as two-thirds financed strictly ‘Islamic activities.’ Compared to these numbers, the massive Soviet external-propaganda budget (estimated at $1 billion annually) at the peak of Moscow's power looks modest indeed."

The editors of The Christian Science Monitor go so far as to name Riyadh as the more important battleground in the war against Islamic terrorism.

The US-led global war on terrorism has an epicenter, and it's not Washington or New York. It's the Saudi capital, home to a conservative monarchy that would still be the prime target for Saudi-born Osama bin Laden even if all 35,000 Americans and other non-Muslim "infidels" left Islam's holiest land.

Wahhabism is creating problems for the United States on other battlegrounds. The Saudis are also making the reconstruction of Iraq into a secular democracy more difficult by by funding the spread of Wahhabism among the Sunni minority in Iraq.

Sachedina is worried about inroads being made among Sunnis by Saudi Arabia's puritanical Wahhabi movement, which has been connected with the rise of extremism and despises Shiism.

Saudi Arabia has become too dangerous a place for Westerners to live. The Saudi government has responded to previous car bombings which were most likely the acts of terrorists by blaming the bombing attacks on supposed rival alcohol bootleg gangs and locking up Westerners. Now the terrorists have escalated their attacks to a level that can not be passed off as the acts of bootleggers. Westerners are wise to leave. They should have taken the car bombings and the Saudi government response as clear signals that it was time to get out. But the recent big bombings have finally driven the point home.

The events in Saudi Arabia ought to be a wake-up call to the Bush Administration to look for ways to accelerate the expansion of Iraqi oil production. Saudi Arabia is not stable. The terrorists could easily reduce Saudi oil exports.

During the 1980 's, according to a former American intelligence official, the United States government did a secret study of the vulnerability of Aramco's installation at Abqaiq, the world's largest oil and gas processing center. Investigators found that the chemical reactions from a well-placed explosion could cripple Abqaiq's gas-oil separation plant for months, the former official said.

While the Bush Administration has, with considerable justification, placed greater priority in dealing wth regimes which are developing weapons of mass destruction events in Saudi Arabia may force a reshuffling of those priorities. Still, it is not at all clear that the United States should try to become more heavily involved in what is taking place in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis themselves have to become convinced that they should turn against the Wahhabi clerics and reform their society. But if civil war breaks out the United States should look for ways to intervene to help the Shias achieve independence of their provinces from the rest of the country.

By Randall Parker    2003 May 13 04:52 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 April 28 Monday
Headscarves And Islam In France And Turkey

Whether women should be allowed to wear Islamic headscaves in Turkey is a major point of disagreement between the Islamic party that now controls the government and the military and other members of the governing class of Turkey who view themselves as guardians of the secular nature of the Turkish government. The Muslim headscarf has been cause of a recent flap in Turkish politics.

The wife of the parliamentary speaker in Turkey has decided not to attend one of his official receptions because of a row over her wearing an Islamic-style headscarf.

Earlier, Turkey's powerful military, the president and also several opposition figures - who consider themselves guardians of the secular republic - warned that they would boycott the event if she attended in a headscarf.

Even though the wives of the most senior Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP in its Turkish initials) leaders did not come to the reception other Islamic party wives came and they wore their scarves.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's wife, who also wears a head scarf, did not attend the reception, but a half-dozen or so spouses of deputies did turn up in scarves.

Unwilling to attend an event where any women wore head scarves, various anti-Islamists still boycotted the reception.

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who is firmly anti-Islamist, like-minded generals and the leader of the main opposition stayed away because the headscarf-swathed wife of Bulent Arinc, the parliamentary speaker who was the event's host, was expected to show up.

The attempt to bring wives wearing headscarves to government receptions is an attempt to take a smaller step having been intimidated by the Turkish military from taking larger steps toward allowing a greater role for Islam in the public sphere.

In recent months, that has meant retreating from plans to expand academic freedom by reshaping the university system, to grant women the right to wear head scarves in schools and public buildings, to limit the army's power to expel soldiers accused of religious extremism and to adopt a softer position in negotiations with Greece over the fate of Cyprus. The party has also been unable or unwilling to force the bureaucracy to implement new laws aimed at granting the minority Kurdish population greater cultural rights.

Turkish society as a whole is probably becoming more Islamic. The military may well be fighting a rearguard action. Younger officers may be more religious than the older officers that they will some day replace. Turkey is also trying to become a member state of the European Union. If Turkey makes it into the EU then on current demographic trends it will some day be the most populous state in Europe.

Meanwhile, France has the largest percentage of Muslims of any current European Union member state and France too is having a political controversy over the wearing of Muslim headscarfs in government institutions.

While the Interior Ministry said there was no plan to change the law and Education Minister Luc Ferry said a ban could be unconstitutional, a range of politicians came down firmly in the anti-headscarf camp.

Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande said headscarves were "out of place in schools".

Various French politicians are taking positions on the proposal to ban the wearing of headscarves in schools.

Paris - France needs a new law to reassert secular values in its state schools against growing radical Islamic trends among Muslim pupils and a related rise in anti-Semitism, Education Minister Luc Ferry said on Tuesday.

Recently French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy was booed when he told a meeting of Muslims that people should be bare-headed when posing for identity photographs.

Speaking Saturday evening before an audience of around 10,000 conservative Muslims in a Paris suburb Sarkozy received boos and cat-calls when he said all women are obliged to remove their head covering when they pose for identity photographs.

``The law says that on the photo for identity cards the person must be bare-headed, whether it is a man or a woman .... There is no reason why Muslim women should not respect this,'' the minister told the meeting of the Union of Islamic Organisations in France (UOIF).

Most French Muslims want the government to fund Koranic schools and they oppose the bank on headscarves for girls in school.

According to a poll of France's Muslims in the newspaper Le Figaro last month, 72 percent of France's Muslims said they hoped the United States would lose the war in Iraq. Seventy-nine percent favor the creation of private Koranic schools funded by the state and 55 percent are opposed to the ban on head scarves for girls in schools.

You might be wondering why the wearing of an article of clothing should be the target of government bans. To a liberal Western mind the issue might initially seem to be a matter of respecting individual rights to wear what one wants to wear. But the problem is that the question of which choice (allowing or not allowing the wearing of the headscarfs) results in the most voluntary and free society is not so clear. Theodore Dalrymple cuts to the heart of the matter.

The Agence France Presse reports that scarf partisans are duplicitously using a double tactic and a double language to impose their views on Muslim women—their ultimate goal being the destruction of the liberal-democratic state itself. On the one hand, they appeal in public to the doctrine of universal human rights, which are observed only in states such as France; on the other, in private, they use the traditional male dominance of their culture—including the threat of violence—to impose their views on others in the name of Holy Writ. After all, in some giant housing projects surrounding Paris and other French cities, young Muslim women who dress in western clothing are deemed to be fair game, inviting—indeed, asking for—rape by gangs of Muslim youths. In such circumstances, it is impossible to know whether the adoption of Islamic dress by women in western society is ever truly voluntary, and so long as such behavior persists, the presumption must be against it being so.

In short, Islamic extremists use secularism to impose theocracy: a tactic that calls to mind that of the communists of old, who appealed to freedom of speech with the long-term aim of extinguishing it altogether. The parallel is all the more exact, because just as Moscow financed the communists, the Saudis finance many of the Muslim extremists.

Where women are allowed to wear headscarfs and where militant Islamists are to be found on the streets any woman who does not wear a scarf is easily identified as not obeying the rules that the Islamists think women should all obey. This marks the bareheaded women for attack. Various levels of assault including rape and disfiguring assaults with chemicals have occurred to women who didn't wear a scarf in a number of Islamic societies. The intimidation that leads to the widespread wearing of headscarf is just one step. Even today many women in post-Taliban Afghanistan are afraid to stop wearing the far more concealing chadors.

Muslims in France and Turkey are now arguing that a ban on the wearing of headscarfs in public facilities is a violation of human rights. If the French government tries to enforce a ban then, as Dalrymple reports, Muslim groups will almost certainly appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. If the French government loses that case this will send a powerful signal to the Turkish secularists that they will have to concede defeat on this issue of Turkey is to be admitted to the EU. The stakes here are enormous.

To put the headscarf debates in France and Turkey in a gritty realistic context be sure to read Theodore Dalrymple on the French Muslim ghettoes if you have not already read his excellent essay on the topic. Also read more about Muslim rapists in France.

Here are some more examples. A female Kuwaiti was attacked for failing to cover her head.

This past April in Kuwait seven people were charged with beating a Kuwaiti female student for failing to wear the Islamic hijab head covering. The assailants whipped the 20-year-old unidentified woman with an electric cord, fractured her arm, and cut off strands of her hair.

In Malaysian even the wearing of Islamic dress doesn't entirely protect women from Islamist attacks.

24/3/00 Headscarves Compulsory in Kelantan, Terengganu

These two Malaysian states dopminated by PAS (Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party) are trying to enforce the wearing of tudung by muslim women. Recently the Kota Baru Municipal Council fined 23 muslim women for not wearing headscarves while at work. Opposition parties and women's groups say that the wearing of tudung is a matter of personal choice and there should be no compulsion. A woman activist pointed out that women wearing islamic dress are still being raped and harassed.

By Randall Parker    2003 April 28 12:24 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 April 09 Wednesday
More Muslim US Soldiers May Attack Americans

Bill Gertz reports on fears that additional Muslim soldiers in the US military will carry out attacks on US soldiers and civilians.

"There is concern that this may not be an isolated incident," said one intelligence official familiar with the investigation of Sgt. Asan Akbar, a member of the 101st Airborne Division who is charged with killing two U.S. soldiers in a grenade attack.

The US military will have to look at Muslim soldiers with greater scrutiny for signs of disloyalty. But at the same time in order to maintain the fiction that Muslims are no more likely than non-Muslims to attack fellow soliders the military will pretend that it is not really looking harder at Muslim soldiers.

The Cold War was easier to fight intellectually because during the Cold War the hawks could publically state that we were fighting communism in general. By contrast in today's battle against a religious ideology the fight is much harder because it is not considered acceptable to suggest that the problems we have with Islam are not a result of a small minority extremist interpretation of the meaning of the Islamic religion.

By Randall Parker    2003 April 09 01:28 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2003 March 22 Saturday
One Iraqi Conspiracy Theory About Saddam Hussein

Recently surrendered Colonel Ahmed Ghobashi offers his theory about why Saddam wanted war with America.

"He doesn't give us enough to eat, and he doesn't pay us," the colonel said. "And then he starts this thing with the Americans and then tells us to defend the country against the invasion."

Colonel Ghobashi pursed his lips in contemplation and rendered his final opinion on Mr. Hussein. "I believe he is an American agent," he said.

People who so readily think up and embrace conspiracy theories are not mentally equipped with the kinds of attitudes that will support a healthy democracy. The alienation and detachment from reality implicit in such an embrace of conspiracy ideas works against a more rational and practical approach to politics. There will always be factions in democratic political systems. If factions so readily ascribe false motives to each other then compromise and trust in government will be unlikely to develop. A lack of willingness to trust and to deal with others in good faith pretty much will doom a democracy.

By Randall Parker    2003 March 22 05:51 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2003 March 09 Sunday
Saudi Islamic Intellectuals Call For Democratic Reforms

If the population of a country overwhelmingly hold values that are not classically liberal then installation of democracy does not lead to liberal democracy.

Most of the 104 intellectuals, former government officials and university professors who signed the document -- a rare challenge to the royal family -- were Islamic traditionalists and conservatives. Although some self-described liberals also put their names on the petition, it was largely shunned by the pro-Western Saudis cultivated by the U.S. Embassy here as the most progressive elements in the kingdom.

If Saudi Arabia gets a democracy it is possible that it will become a greater source of support for terrorists. However, it might end up getting a partial democracy along the mold of Iran where there is still a top layer above the democratically elected officials that can overrule the decisions of those who are democratically elected.

More democratic control of the Saudi government might eventually lead to a political maturation process in the Saudi populace. When one has to live with the consequences of one's own political decisions then suddenly advocacy of hardline positions has to be weighed against whether one wants to live with the consequences. Therefore it would be interesting to see just how Saudi Arabia would evolve politically if real democratic accountability was instituted.

By Randall Parker    2003 March 09 11:50 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
Life Ambitions: Microsoft Programmer, Suicide Bomber

Fadi, a young Jordanian aged 23, aspires to be a suicide bomber in America and a very famous Microsoft programmer.

One day, he explained to me in careful detail why he wants to be a shaheed, a suicide bomber against the United States, quoting at length from the Koran. But when he's not talking about blowing himself up and killing American troops, Fadi talks about his other great dream. ''I want to be a programmer at Microsoft,'' he says. ''Not just a programmer. I want to be well known, famous.''

Suppose he kills himself in an attack that kills a lot of Americans. Would the Supreme Being be willing to let him return for a second life as a Microsoft programmer? I mean, if the guy would get more pleasure writing Windows programs than in enjoying 72 virgins then shouldn't adjustments to the standard paradise design be made?

The biggest complaints this guy seems to have are about the pervasiveness of American culture. The fact that people wear jeans and watch American movies makes him feel powerless because his own culture is not producing cultural products with such wide appeal. It is hard to know how to deal with that sort of feeling. It is much more intense in Muslim countries because believers in Islam think the followers of their religion are the rightful rulers of the world.

By Randall Parker    2003 March 09 01:57 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 February 24 Monday
Fouad Ajami on Iraq and Middle East

For those who like to keep up on what Fouad Ajami has written recently here is a collection of links. If you haven't read him before I recommend it.

Ajami sees the Arabs as wallowing in self-pity.

Cross hairs. There can be no reasoning with this kind of willful self-pity. The mufti of Saudi Arabia, its highest judge, spoke recently to the throngs that had come from across the Islamic world for the annual pilgrimage. A dark conspiracy, the jurist said, encircles and stalks the world of Islam. "The Islamic nation is in the cross hairs, threatened by its enemies in its morals and values." The "forces of evil," he added darkly, are at work, and the principal struggle is "at once economic and religious." A deep rot has settled on Arab lands while a "freedom deficit" leaves their inhabitants in the throes of authoritarian rule and their children prey to the recruiters of terror. About such troubles the jurist has nothing to offer--nothing save a dark message of enemies bent on Islam's ruin.

Fouad Ajami analyses Tony Benn's interview of Saddam Hussein.

“Do you think he doesn’t realize that the Americans are coming after him no matter what he does or says? No matter which British lefties he invites to Baghdad?” Simon asked Ajami. “I think this man still believes that he could probably just plea bargain his way out of trouble, and dodge another bullet. He may think that this peace camp in the world may prevent the onset of war,” Ajami says.

A recurring theme in Ajami's writing is the extent to which the Arabs use fantasy interpretations of the world to escape from confronting their predicament. In an excerpt from his book Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation's Odyssey Ajami looks at the rationalizations of supporters of Saddam in Gulf War I.

Those who fell for Kuwait's conqueror were free to claim that they had been misunderstood, that they were only patriots responding to the coming to the Arab world of yet another Western army, that they had only wanted to be heard because there had been no place for them in the "New World Order" the foreigner came to uphold. This was a world with endless escapes. The defeat of the Iraqi predator provided no guarantee that the political sensibilities which had sustained him were vanquished once and for all.

Ajami is not afraid Iran will dominate post-Saddam Iraq thru Iraq's Shiite majority.

As Iran battles its own demons, we needn't let our obsession with the power of the Iranian revolution that paralyzed American power after Desert Storm do so again in Iraq. Our fear of Iran was a factor of no small consequence in our walking away from the Shia and Kurdish rebellions that erupted against Saddam. America didn't know that world, and it was easy to see the Shiites of Iraq as followers of the Iranian clerical regime, a potential "sister republic" in Iran's image. But the Shiites of Iraq are Iraqis and Arabs through and through. The Arabic literary tradition is their pride, the Arab tribal norms their defining culture. They are their country's majority, and thus eager to maintain its independence.

Also see this previous post Fouad Ajami on the Importance of the Next Iraq War

Also, Ajami wrote brief article right after 9/11 that is worth a read if you missed it then. It is about anti-Americanism as an alibi.

The anti-Americanism blows at will–an alibi for socioeconomic ills with deep roots, a simplifying answer for populations drawn to a civilization they can neither master nor reject. Preachers, the wholesalers of terror, make of this country a demon. The U.S. Navy monitors the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the eastern Mediterranean, protecting the flow of oil. Raging on those shores, though, is an unyielding hatred of America. Places once remote have been hurled into an uneven modernity.

Resentment and jealousy of those who are more powerful or more successful are natural human reactions. Americans may not spend much time thinking of themselves in comparison to the rest of the world but for those in failed societies a reason for their failure that doesn't reflect poorly on them and which instead shifts the blame elsewhere is can be very appealing. It appears to be especially appealing for Islamic societies that are accustomed to believing that God meant for them to rule all others.

By Randall Parker    2003 February 24 08:18 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2003 February 20 Thursday
Sami al-Arian Charged As Terrorist Group Leader

The US Patriot Act allowed intelligence agency information to be used against al-Arian.

The criminal case against al-Arian was made possible by the USA Patriot Act, an anti-terrorist law about a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, officials said. That law removed long-standing legal barriers to bringing information gathered in classified national security investigations into criminal courts.

Al-Arian is accused of being the leader of the US branch of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Authorities arrested the three men Tampa-area defendants and a fourth in Illinois, but the other four remain at large in foreign countries. If convicted, the men face up to life in prison.

The indictment describes Kuwaiti-born al-Arian, 45, as the Islamic Jihad's U.S. leader, head of a terrorist cell in Tampa and secretary of the group's worldwide council. Al-Arian is in the United States as a legal resident alien.

Some Tampa Florida area Muslims believe Sami al-Arian is being persecuted.

"This used to be the land of freedom and democracy," said Lubaba Aldaker, a worker at a Middle Eastern bakery in a strip mall that also has an Arabian grocery and cafe. "Not anymore."

"There is no justice," added Gheyas Swar, a fellow worker at Bonsoir Bakery. "We don't see any evidence. Where is the evidence? They have to show somebody the evidence to arrest him."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is not happy about al-Arian's arrest.

"We are very concerned that the government would bring charges after investigating an individual for many years without offering any evidence of criminal activity," said CAIR board chairman Omar Ahmad in a statement. "This action could leave the impression that Al Arian's arrest is based on political considerations, not legitimate national security concerns."

You might think that al-Arian and other Muslims in America just have a lot of animosity toward Israel and that leaving aside attacks against Israel they otherwise might be opposed to terrorism. Prominent American Muslim organisations are not just soft on terrorists who attack Israel though. For instance, American Muslim Council executive director Eric Ervan Vickers wouldn't even denounce Al Qaeda.

The night before Mueller addressed the AMC, guest host Mike Barnicle on CNBC's Hardball asked Vickers to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah. Vickers would not. Barnicle followed, "How about al-Qaeda?" According to the transcript, Vickers' only response was, "They are involved in a resistance movement."

David Tell has written extensively on Sami al-Arian's activities.

Not so many years ago, for instance, he founded a "think tank" at USF called the World Islam Studies Enterprise and installed a man named Ramadan Abdullah Shallah as its director. There the two men engaged in what Al-Arian calls "intellectual-type activity." Ramadan Abdullah Shallah has since moved on to another-type activity. He is currently head of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. A second Al-Arian-created outfit in Florida, the Islamic Committee for Palestine, once employed a fellow named Tarik Hamdi. Hamdi is personally acquainted with Osama bin Laden and is known to have provided him a battery for the cell phone used to organize the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Professor Al-Arian has hosted public pep rallies for Islamic Jihad founder Abdel Aziz-Odeh and Sheikh Abdul Rahman, mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing. Film exists of Al-Arian at one of these rallies shouting "Jihad is our path! Victory to Islam! Death to Israel! Revolution! Revolution until victory! Rolling into Jerusalem!"

Al-Arian's animosity is obviously not reserved just for Israel. A supporter of Abdul Rahman is not someone who is only fighting for Palestinians.

US policies on granting visas, permanent residency, and even US citizenship are dangerously naive in dealing with people who embrace religious and political beliefs that are incompatible with a liberal secular free society.

Update: Steven Emerson, author of the book American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us, first identified Al-Arian as a terrorist leader in 1994.

Back in 1994, I produced and reported "Jihad in America," a PBS documentary that exposed the secret Islamic Jihad cell that Al-Arian ran from Tampa. I interviewed Al-Arian - who, of course, denied any terrorist affiliation. But the documentary also revealed statements by Al-Arian championing terrorism, the existence of Islamic Jihad publications distributed from his office, the use of his academic institute as a cover for Islamic Jihad and actual videos of Islamic Jihad terrorist conferences he organized in the United States.

Virtually every national Islamic "civil rights" group - created with the same guile that fostered the success of Al-Arian's organization - responded by claiming that we were "attacking Islam" and that we were stereotyping all Muslims. That pattern of obeisance to terrorism was repeated yesterday following issuance of the indictment.

Emerson says the Islamist groups in America managed to protect themselves pre-9/11 from serious law enforcement attention by arguing that any investigation of their activities would amount to "racial profiling". What is striking about the prosecution of Al-Arian is that it is happening 17 months after the 9/11 attacks and a full 8 years after Emerson first identified Al-Arian as a terrorist leader. Emerson, working with none of the power of a law enforcement officer, was able to ascertain what Al-Arian was up to 8 years ago. But even once the US Patriot Act was passed and federal prosecutors went after Al-Arian in earnest it took months before charges could be filed.

The Al-Arian case illustrates the inadequacy of conventional law enforcement as a tool for stopping terrorists. It can only work if used in conjunction with better methods of gathering evidence and with much greater control over who is allowed to enter, live in, and get citizenship in Western nations in the first place.

Update II: The New York Times has a good story on why it has taken so long to bring charges against Al-Arian.

But according to former officials and experts intimately familiar with the effort to indict Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders in the United States, the investigation suffered from a lack of resources, such as insufficient Arabic translators, and fierce bureaucratic turf battles between the F.B.I. and the Customs Service over control of the investigation.

Update III: A legal ruling that allowed the use of intercepts collected during intelligence operations paved the way for the prosecution of Al-Arian and the others charged with him.

Prosecutors' biggest breakthrough came in November, when a special federal appeals court ruled that the Justice Department had broad new powers to use wiretaps obtained for intelligence operations to prosecute terrorists.

''The case was ready at this point for indictment because it was jump-started three months ago when we examined declassified, intercepted faxes and telephone calls for the first time,'' Perez said Friday.

Islamic Jihad is angry over Al-Arian's arrest but they are trying to hide it. Iran suports IJ and Iran knows that after the US dispatches with Saddam's regime that the US will be in a position and motivated to put pressure on Iran and therefore Iran is telling IJ to not threaten the United States.

``They (Islamic Jihad leaders) know that Iran is today cautious in its policies ... because they know the United States will pressure Iran very hard after Iraq,'' he said, referring to a possible U.S. offensive against Baghdad. ``I don't think Iran will permit the Palestinian Islamic Jihad at this moment to do anything against the United States.''

The US will have more leverage against both Saudi Arabia and Iran after the US controls Iraq.

Update IV: You can read the 50 page indictment against al-Arian as a PDF file.

By Randall Parker    2003 February 20 08:12 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 February 12 Wednesday
Oriana Fallaci Interviewed

Fallaci doesn't think we can have peace with the Muslim countries.

Aren't you caricaturing the Muslim world, writing off all the moderate Muslims in pro-Western countries like Egypt, Morocco and Turkey?

You want me to be optimistic. I am not. The day the Islamic world will start criticizing itself, the day it will give birth to some Luther or Calvin, then you call me and say, ''Fallaci, you were wrong.'' I will then admit that the Western culture and Islamic culture can coexist.

Update: Also see this FrontPage article on Fallaci.

By Randall Parker    2003 February 12 12:34 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2003 January 27 Monday
Musharraf Warns Jihadis That US Could Attack Pakistan

Some critics of the coming war with Iraq claim that it is a distraction from the battle against terrorists. There are even critics who claim that the war against Iraq will so inflame Muslim opinion against the United States that the US will get less intelligence cooperation from Muslim governments in tracking down terrorists. These arguments are thrown into some serious doubt by a recent speech that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf gave warning Pakistanis that after Iraq Pakistan could become the next target of American wrath.

Addressing a meeting of businessmen and industrialists in Lahore at the weekend, Musharraf said that there was speculation that Pakistan would become the target of "Western forces" after the Iraq crisis and that there were chances of such an eventuality. "We will have to work on our own to stave off the danger. Nobody will come to our rescue, not even the Islamic world. We will have to depend on our muscle," the general said.

Why is Musharraf saying this? He's trying to convince his fellow countrymen that fundamentalist fervor and terrorism are dead-ends that will only lead to ruin for Pakistan.

Musharraf's unexpected comments could, therefore, be interpreted as a warning to jihadis in the country that their actions are making it very difficult for the government. As Musharraf said, "We can talk to the US ... but how can we convince them on our points when the whole country echoes with the slogans of jihad [against the US]."

Musharraf is arguing that foreign terrorists in Pakistan are not serving Pakistan's best interests.

On the Taliban and al-Qaeda regrouping, he said "some foreigners in Pakistan are harming US interests here though we take them as brothers."

Musharraf also appealed to Pakistanis to shun extremism. "Muslims are suffering everywhere but in the hour of the need no one would help us because everyone has his own interests. We will have to be a very moderate county, not with a confrontationist approach but with liberal mind."

Musharraf is using the example of what the United States is about to do to Iraq to argue that Pakistan must turn away from a confrontational radical fundamentalist path. He's trying to win support for a crackdown on Al Qaeda and Taliban in Pakistan and he's using the threat of an American attack to convince various segments of Pakistani society that the crackdown is necessary. Musharraf's argument is made credible by the spreadng belief that the US is willing to do regime change in Muslim countries. Actions that the US takes that increase the credibility of US threats to use military force help to further the war against the Muslim terrorists.

By Randall Parker    2003 January 27 12:13 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 January 25 Saturday
1,200 Brits Trained With Al Qaeda

The names of 1,192 Britons who trained with Al Qaeda have been identified so far. Some died in the fighting, some are still over there, but some may have returned to the UK to conduct terrorist attacks in Britain.

Special Branch detectives fear that some of the men who cannot be traced could be plotting terrorist attacks in Britain.

It is quite possible the real number is much higher. The data was created from discovered Al Qaeda lists. But those lists may not be complete or accurate.

By Randall Parker    2003 January 25 11:05 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 January 20 Monday
Al Qaeda Fighters Taking Over Pakistani Villages

Christian Science Monitor staff writer Scott Baldauf has written an interesting story on Al Qaeda fighters living in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province.

NAWA PASS, AFGHAN-PAKISTAN BORDER – Locals call Sabila "the lonely village."

"There are no children, no women, no relatives to celebrate Eid [the Islamic feast day] with," says Mohammad Nasser, a shopkeeper from Asadabad, Afghanistan, who has visited Sabila.

The village, just 10 miles across the border in Pakistan, is a collection of high-walled adobe compounds that house a brigade of 300 Al Qaeda fighters who are preparing to attack the Kabul government and US forces, say local Afghans and Afghan intelligence sources.

The article reports that representatives of the Northwest Frontier Province government (which is dominated by Islamists) come to visit the Al Qaeda fighters and that Pakistani border guards help them.

In light of the continuous reports of the welcome that Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are receiving in Pakistan consider the Pakistani government's vigorous protests against the requirement to fingerprint all Pakistani males over the age of 16 who want to visit the United States.

Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, the Pakistani minister, said the decision to place his country on a list of nations whose male citizens must be fingerprinted, photographed, interviewed and registered was blatantly unfair in light of Pakistan's crucial role in combating Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

"Our effort is to get Pakistan out of the list," Mr. Kasuri said in a television interview before he was to fly to the United States today. He will attend a one-day meeting of foreign ministers from the 15 nations on the Security Council at the United Nations in New York on Monday before visiting Washington for talks with American officials.

If the Pakistani federal government is to be taken at its word that it is united in its desire to stop Al Qaeda from using Pakistan as a base of operations then one has to conclude that the federal level of government is not strong enough to control its own country well enough to prevent whole villages from being taken over by Al Qaeda. Of course alternative explanations are equally plausible. Its quite possible that Musharraf has only partial control of the federal government and that ISI and military officers and various civilian departments are pursuing conflicting interests with some in collusion with assorted terrorist groups including Al Qaeda.

By Randall Parker    2003 January 20 05:04 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 December 26 Thursday
Oriana Fallaci: The Rage and The Pride

Oriana Fallaci, author of the recently released book The Rage and The Pride, discussed her book on October 22, 2002 at the American Enterprise Institute. Fallaci sees the West as lacking in passion and failing to fight the cultural war against Islam.

I call my book a sermon—addressed to the Italians, to the Europeans, the Westerners. And along with the rage, this sermon unchains the pride for their culture, my culture. That culture that in spite of its mistakes, its faults, even monstrosities, has given so much to the world. It has moved us from the tents of the deserts and the huts of the woods to the dignity of civilization. It has given us the concept of beauty, of morals, of freedom, of equality. It has made the unique conquest in the social field, in the realm of science. It has wiped out diseases. It has invented all the tools that make life easier and more intelligent, those tools that our enemy can also use, for instance, to kill us. It has brought us to the moon and to Mars, and this cannot be said of the other culture. A culture, which has produced and produces only religion, which in every sense imprisons women inside the burkah or the chador, which is never accompanied by a drop of freedom, a drop of democracy, which subjugates its people under theocratical, oppressive regimes.

Socrates and Aristotle and Heraclitus were not mullahs. Jesus Christ, neither. Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo, and Galileo, and Copernicus, and Newton and Pasteur and Einstein, the same.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 26 01:21 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 December 23 Monday
Fouad Ajami on the Importance of the Next Iraq War

Fouad Ajami always has something interesting to say and his latest in the January/February 2003 issue of Foreign Affairs is no exception. He believes the coming war to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime will send the very powerful message that the US has shifted its long-term stance on the Middle East. Historically the US has restricted itself to maintaining the existing order and has intervened only to prevent or reverse a disturbance in the balance of power. This war represents a shift away from the historical pattern of US reticence about getting more deeply involved in Arab politics and is part of a larger effort to fundamentally change the trends in Arab political development. The old position has effectively been discredited by the attacks on 9/11 and the new position will be to support the Arab reformists. Ajami also examines the motives of the terrorists and sees terrorism against the US as motivated by frustrations in Arab society and politics.

The United States has been caught in the crossfire between the regimes in the saddle and the Islamic insurgents. These insurgents could not win in Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, or Syria, or on the Arabian Peninsula. So they took to the road and targeted the United States, and they were brutally candid about their motives. They did not strike at America because it was a patron of Israel; rather, they drew a distinction between the "near enemy" (their own rulers) and the "far enemy," the United States.

Those entrenched regimes could not be beaten at home. Their power, as well as their people's resigned acceptance that their rulers' sins would be dwarfed by the terrors that Islamists would unleash were they to prevail, had settled the fight in favor of the rulers. The targeting of America came out of this terrible political culture of Arab lands. If the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the physician Ayman al-Zawahiri, could not avenge himself against the military regime of Hosni Mubarak for the torture he endured at the hands of his country's security services, why not target Mubarak's U.S. patrons?

A similar motivation propelled the Saudi members of al Qaeda. These men could not sack the House of Saud. The dynasty's wealth, its political primacy, and the conservative religious establishment gave the rulers a decided edge in their struggle with the Islamists; the war against America was the next best thing. The great power was an easier target: it was more open, more trusting, and its liberties more easily subverted by a band of jihadists. The jihadists and their leader, bin Laden, aimed at the dynasty's carefully nurtured self-image. The children of Arabia who had boarded those planes on September 11 and the countless young men held at the Guantanamo Bay military base could not be disowned. Bin Laden got the crisis in Saudi-American relations he aimed for.

Ajami is by no means confident that after the military victory an American attempt to politically reconstruction Iraq will be successful.

Iraq may offer a contrast, a base in the Arab world free of the poison of anti-Americanism. The country is not hemmed in by the kind of religious prohibitions that stalk the U.S. presence in the Saudi realm. It may have a greater readiness for democracy than Egypt, if only because it is wealthier and is free of the weight of Egypt's demographic pressures and the steady menace of an Islamist movement.

Iraq should not be burdened, however, with the weight of great expectations. This is the Arab world, after all, and Americans do not know it with such intimacy. Iraq could disappoint its American liberators. There has been heartbreak in Iraq, and vengeance and retribution could sour Americans on this latest sphere of influence in the Muslim world.

Will America be willing to try to remold Iraq on the scale that is required to even have a chance of success? As Ajami points out, the United States no longer has the degree of cultural confidence that it had in 1945 when it set out to reshape the political culture and institutions of Japan. Iraq is in some ways a tougher challenge than Japan because Iraq's culture is linked to a religion and a larger regional culture that provide competing external influences that the United States didn't have to contend with when reshaping a culturally far more insular Japan. At the same time, the Middle East's political development is also held back by consanguineous marriage patterns. The United States therefore faces a tougher task with Iraqi reconstruction and less confidence with which to carry it out.

Ajami writes with far more insight and understanding of Middle Eastern politics and history than the vast bulk of pontificating commentators. A lot of Western commentators try to explain Arab motives by imagining what would drive a Westerner to do what they do. Attempts to categorize Arab movements and factions using Western political ideologies and Western culture war categories leads to an awful lot foolish nattering. Compounding this problem are Arabs who are knowledgeable enough in Western political thinking to try to cast their factions and movements in terms that will appeal to the sympathies of ignorant Westerners and so the misconceptions are reinforced. Ajami manages to stick to the basic motives of the groups, their histories, and their perceptions of each other. He cuts thru a lot of rhetoric to make the Middle East much more comprehensible. If you want to read an analysis of the Middle East that isn't some standard boilerplate stereotype such of breast-beating hawkery, Arab apologist blame-it-on-US/Israel, or idealistic kumbaya dreamer then Ajami's latest is worth your time.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 23 11:16 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 December 19 Thursday
Turkish Critic Of Islamic Groups Gunned Down

Necip Hablemitoglu, a historian, was shot and killed near his home in Ankara.

He was the author of a book which accused Turkey-based German foundations of working to undermine Turkish interests. The representatives of the foundations are scheduled to stand trial later this month on charges of conspiring against Turkey.

Here is why an Islamic Reformation into a more tolerant and peaceful belief system will be a long time coming if it happens at all: Critics are silenced.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 19 09:25 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2002 December 18 Wednesday
Jordan and Maternal Passing of Citizenship

In Jordan Jews are not allowed to be citizens. Its written into the constitution. What is perhaps less well known is that Jordanian women can't give citizenship to their children. Only Jordanian fathers can. Queen Rania, King Abdullah's wife and a Palestinian herself, announced a decree giving Jordanian women the ability to give their children Jordanian citizenship.

The uproar erup-ted after tribesmen objected that Rania's decree would hand citizenship to hundreds of thousands of stateless Palestinians born to Jordanian-Palestinian mothers. The Palestinian-born queen, they argued, had a hidden agenda: to tilt the fragile demographic balance in this country of six million toward a Palestinian majority. "I don't think Queen Rania intended to create a problem," says Oraib Rantawi, a prominent Palestinian-Jordanian academic recently recruited to advise King Abdullah. "But we have many extreme nationalists who don't want Palestinians to be Jordanians."

The Bedouin complaints were severe enough that the Jordanian government has already backpedalled and said that the granting of citizenship via matrilineal descent will still be examined and approved or disapproved on a case-by-case basis. The Bedouin response was predictable and I have to wonder whether the people who are saying they were surprised by the response are being sincere. More likely it was decided to make the announcement and then watch carefully to see if they could enact this change without encountering too much opposition.

From a demographic perspective the position of the Jews in Israel parallels that of the Bedouins in Jordan. Both are afraid of becoming minorities in their respective countries as Palestinians increase in numbers.

In another example of the role of cousin marriage (see my previous post on consanguineous mating in the Middle East) this article mentions in passing how it is that Palestinian-Jordanian women are marrying non-Jordanians and hence creating this issue in the first place.

But with or without Rania's decree, members of the committee entrusted to implement Jordan First concede, Palestinian girls with Jordanian passports will continue to marry their cousins in the West Bank to rescue them from the misery of Israeli military rule.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 18 07:24 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 December 12 Thursday
Gerecht: An Iraq War Won't Destabilize the Mideast

Former CIA and State Department Middle Eastern specialist Reuel Marc Gerecht, in an essay in which he argues that a second Persian Gulf War will not destabilize any regimes, argues that the only possible destabilising act that the US could commit would be to install a democracy in Iraq.

The one truly unsettling thing a second Persian Gulf war might unleash is Iraqi democracy. President Bush's rhetoric about Muslims' right to freedom has been unprecedented. Yet the administration has been vague about its aspirations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein. There may be good reasons for this vagueness, but it may also indicate that while promotion of democracy is high on the administration's list of ideals, it is low on the list of priorities. Practical American support for liberal ideas in the Arab world has been virtually nil. The administration recently faced its first really hard test: Mr. Mubarak's imprisonment of the democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American. The administration failed to put any serious pressure on Egypt. This is the kind of corrupt stability in the Middle East that does us no honor and ultimately harms our interests. Bin Ladenism's appeal is unlikely to end in a Muslim world dominated by such unchanging despotism.

I think it is imperative that the US install a democratic system in Iraq in order to remove the argument that the US doesn't really value democracy. Install a democracy in a mostly Arab country and let the Arabs see for themselves whether they really do believe the set of values that are required in order to make a real democracy function.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 12 05:30 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 December 09 Monday
Voice of America's Farsi TV Shows

The New York Times has an interesting article about the efforts of the US government to aim television programs at Iran's youth.

Another segment showed Iranian students at the University of Maryland enjoying Mehregan, a traditional Persian fall festival, without mentioning directly what viewers in Iran already know: that this secular holiday's celebration is discouraged by the country's religious leaders.

A regular feature called "A Day in the Life" uses a reality television approach to showcase ordinary Iranian 20-somethings living in the United States. As the jumpy camera followed Anahita Sami, a 20-year-old student, and her friends around the campus of George Washington University, she chatted about dorm life, exams, being away from home for the first time, nothing particularly exciting. But the point is made: Yeah, she can wear those clothes, say those things and do that stuff.

The separate VOA youth oriented Radio Sawa, budgeted at $35 million per year, is aimed at the youth in Arab countries. Considering how many tens or hundreds of billions (the exact amount is debateable depending on how much of the US military budget can be seen as due to the Middle East) the US is spending in the war on terrorism, domestic security, and related subjects the $35 million for Radio Sawa and the $8 million for the Farsi Radio (the NY Times doesn't appear to have a total cost for all programming aimed at Iran) seems like chump change. A larger effort is called for.

The US seems to have an interesting blindspot when it comes to "soft" efforts. Whether its radio and TV programming or its spies on the ground there is a tendency to not try hard enough with efforts that are less tangible in nature and more aimed at reaching and influencing minds. Physical objects used by real men warriors that are designed for doing direct battle with the enemy such as reconnaissance satellites, aircraft carriers, and fighter jets get tens and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on them per year. But the idea of cultural war isn't seen as credible for some reason. Its probably because most people can't see how the cultural wars play out. One can't easily observe what goes on in the minds of people in distant cultures living in oppressive and less accessible societies.

Update: Radio Sawa is quite popular in Jordan.

Meantime, new research from Amman, Jordan shows the credibility of Radio Sawa’s news is growing steadily.

When a scientific sample representing Radio Sawa’s target audience of 17-28 year old radio listeners was asked in a November 7, 2002 survey, "What station do you listen to most for news," 41 percent answered Radio Sawa, which made the station #1 in the Jordanian capital. That compares with 21 percent for the Jordanian Government’s Amman FM; 16 percent for MBC-FM; 10 percent for for BBC-FM and 6 percent for Radio Monte Carlo and Amman AM, also owned by the Jordanian Government.

Asked: "What station has the most accurate and trustworthy news?" Radio Sawa again was #1 with 39 percent. Amman FM garnered 21 percent; MBC-FM, 13 percent; BBC-FM, 11 percent; Radio Monte Carlo and Amman AM, 5 percent.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 09 01:00 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
Charles Krauthammer on Violence and Islam

Charles Krauthammer argues that what believers decide a religion means in any era is more important than its core texts.

Religions are interpreted by the people of their time and thus change over time. Scripture can be invoked to support almost any position. Islam has its periods of violence and its periods of tolerance. The Ottomans gave refuge to the Jews expelled from Catholic Spain in 1492. Today the Arab world is the purveyor of the most vicious anti-Semitic propaganda since Nazi Germany. (Egyptian state television is currently showing a 41-part television series based on the notorious czarist forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.")

Which stands for the real Islam? The question is not just unanswerable, it is irrelevant. The real issue is not the essence of an abstraction -- who can say what is the real Christianity or the real Judaism? -- but the actions of actual Muslims in the world today.

This has become a fashionable argument to make. But is it correct? I don't think so. Do the various major religions differ from each other in substantial ways because they have different core texts? The answer seems like an obvious "Yes!" and hence the core texts must matter. Think of the core texts is rather like anchors that hold bouys into place. Each anchor is in a different place. There is some slack in the lines and so as the winds blow the bouys can move in different directions. But there is a limit to how far each religion can go. There are differences between them in their core texts that are inevitably going to cause political differences in the behavior of their different groups of believers.

The argument that the core texts doesn't matter is the more optimistic viewpoint. After all, if the core texts are all equally interpretable to support, say, liberal secular tolerant democratic political systems with a sharp separation between government and religion then any culture embracing any religion is equally capable of developing a political culture that is similar to the political cultures of the Western democracies. It also suggests a course of action where Westerners could call on Muslims to change their religious teachings in ways that do not conflict with Islam but which make Islamic societies more able to live side-by-side in peace with the other societies in this world.

By contrast, if the core texts really matter and if the conflicts between the Islamic societies and the rest of the world flow at least in part from core text differences then the prospects for a peaceful resolution of Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations become much dimmer. The war becomes a war against Islam itself and the war's duration becomes much longer and larger in scale and shares more characteristics of the Cold War where incompatible ideologies were in conflict.

Jim Hoagland brings up the question of whether values are universal as he examines an argument made by Paul Wolfowitz that a moderate branch of Islam will arise that will be compatible with a world value system

Islamic culture invites submission or revolt and largely ignores the political space between those two alternatives. Submission is best obtained by army and police rule. The system of choice inherent in democracy is anathema to fundamentalist Islam, which has increasingly turned to revolt against the secularized local regimes and the West.

This is the problem with the thesis Wolfowitz subtly argues in his London speech: He holds out the prospect that a reformed and moderate branch of Islam will emerge as a branch of a universal value system built on democracy. There can be no clash of civilizations if values are universal.

To Wolfowitz I say: How can you know that you are correct? The average nature of Islam has varied considerably over the period of its existence. But while there were periods of history when Islam was relatively more successful vis a vis the rest of the world when has Islam ever not required the submission of non-believers to Islamic rule?

Turkey is cited as an example of successful moderate Islam. It would be more correct to say that Turkey is an example of atheist and agnostic generals who spent decades forcing Islam out of public life while allowing a democracy to function. Why is this cause for optimism?

By Randall Parker    2002 December 09 01:22 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 December 07 Saturday
Debate On American Right About Nature Of Islam

In a December 2, 2002 press conference Ari Fleischer defended Mr. Bush's official view of Islam as a benevolent peaceful religion:

Q The Washington post quotes Paul Weyrich as writing, "Islam is at war against us. The Bush administration's promotion of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, just like Judaism or Christianity, it is neither." And Ken Adelman said, calling Islam a peaceful religion is an increasingly hard argument to make. Does the President believe that Weyrich and Adelman and others are wicked or ignorant or what?

MR. FLEISCHER: Lester, the President is proud to stand up for America's longstanding traditions of tolerance and openness and to welcome people who practice the religion of Islam in the United States and around the world. The President knows that Islam is a religion of peace. And like many religions, and like many beliefs, there can be individuals within a certain religion who distort its meaning and divert from the peaceful intentions of a religion, having nothing to do with the religion. They themselves are the ones who violate and twist a religion, and Islam is a religion of peace.

A few days later on Dec 5, 2002 President Bush visited the Islamic Center in Washington DC to join the celebration of the end of the month of Ramadan and repeated his publically stated view of Islam as a great benefit for humanity.

"Islam affirms God's justice and insists on man's moral responsibility," said the president, flanked by a half-dozen imams. "Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind."

Here is the full text of Bush's Eid al-Fitr message to Muslims:

*EUR407 12/05/2002

Text: Bush Praises Islam for Inspiring Honesty, Integrity, and Morality
(Issues message to U.S. and world Muslim community on Eid al-Fitr) (240)

Following is the text of President Bush's message to Muslims on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr:

(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 5, 2002

PRESIDENTIAL MESSAGE: EID AL-FITR
December 2002

I send greetings to Muslims in the United States and around the world as you celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast.

At the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, worship, and reflection, Eid celebrates the renewal of faith, hope, and compassion. During this time of great rejoicing, Muslims give thanks for the blessings they have been granted, and demonstrate their commitment to the Qur'an's teachings by helping those in need. These acts of kindness and generosity strengthen communities worldwide, and as we observe this holiday season, I encourage Americans of all faiths to join in building a culture of service that demonstrates the true character of our Nation.

America treasures the relationship we have with our many Muslim friends, and we respect the vibrant faith of Islam, which inspires countless individuals to lead lives of honesty, integrity, and morality. This year, may Eid also be a time in which we recognize the values of progress, pluralism, and acceptance that bind us together as a Nation and a global community. By working together to advance mutual understanding, we point the way to a brighter future for all.

Laura joins me in sending our best wishes for a joyous Eid, and for health, happiness, and prosperity in the coming year.

Here are the comments by Bush on November 7 2002 at the White House Iftaar Dinner.

President Bush Speaks at White House Iftaar Dinner

Says Muslim values shared by other faiths in U.S.

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT IFTAAR DINNER
State Dining Room

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Thank you all for coming. I'm honored to welcome such a distinguished group of ambassadors and American citizens to the White House to help usher in the holy month of Ramadan.

Islam is a religion that brings hope and comfort to more than a billion people around the world. It has made brothers and sisters of every race. It has given birth to a rich culture of learning and literature and science. Tonight we honor the traditions of a great faith by hosting this Iftaar at the White House.

I'm honored that our great Secretary of State is with us today. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here. I appreciate Your Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, for coming. I want to thank members of my administration who are here -- in particular, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, who's the Director of the National Institute of Health. I want to thank all the ambassadors who are here -- it's good to see you all again. And the other representatives from the Organization of Islamic Conference. I appreciate so very much my fellow Americans here, many from the Muslim community.

Ramadan is a special time of prayer and fasting, contemplation of God's greatness, and service to those in need. According to Muslim teachings, this season commemorates the revelation of God's word in the holy Koran to the prophet Muhammad. Today this word inspires faithful Muslims to lead lives of honesty and integrity and compassion.

In hosting tonight's Iftaar, I send a message to all the nations represented by their ambassadors here tonight: America treasures your friendship. America honors your faith.

We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God's call on Abraham. We share your belief in God's justice, and your insistence on man's moral responsibility. We thank the many Muslim nations who stand with us against terror. Nations that are often victims of terror, themselves.

Tonight's Iftaar also sends a message to all Americans: our nation is waging a war on a radical network of terrorists, not on a religion and not on a civilization. If we wage this war to defend our principles, we must live up to those principles, ourselves. And one of the deepest commitments of America is tolerance. No one should be treated unkindly because of the color of their skin or the content of their creed. No one should be unfairly judged by appearance or ethnic background, or religious faith. We must uphold these values of progress and pluralism and tolerance.

George Washington said that America gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. This was our policy at our nation's founding; this is our policy today. America rejects all forms of religious intolerance. America grieves with all the victims of religious bigotry. And America opposes all who commit evil in God's name.

Ramadan and the upcoming holiday seasons are a good time to remember the ties of friendship and respect that bind us together. Learning from each other we can build bridges of mutual trust and understanding. Working together we can create a better future for people of all faiths.

I thank you for coming to the White House this evening. I wish you all a blessed Ramadan. God bless.

I'm going out on a limb here but I bet that no Muslim potentate invites Western diplomats to his place for a Christmas Dinner where he celebrates the virtues of Christianity. My guess is that doesn't happen in the Middle East.

By contrast, Conservative Paul Weyrich thinks Islam is so bad that the US Post Office shouldn't honor it with a stamp.

The story is this: We are not at war with a gang of terrorists. Al Qaeda is not the Jesse James gang with Arabic surnames. It is not even that we are at war with Islam. Rather, Islam is at war against us.

The sooner Americans recognize this fact then the safer we will be as a nation.

I have had much good to say about President Bush in recent months. But one thing that concerned me before September 11th and concerns me even more now is his administration's constant promotion of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance just like Judaism or Christianity.

It is neither. That is why my colleague, Bill Lind, and I decided to urge the leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to have the stamp be withdrawn from circulation, overprinted with the image of the World Trade Towers, and then reissued. The effort went nowhere, but the case for doing so remains clear in my mind because symbols matter.

Joseph Farah of World Net Daily believes we are at war with Islam.

People are dying – lots of them. In fact, more Christians are being persecuted today than ever before in the history of the world – even under the Romans. Most of those attacks come from Islam.

What we need to understand is that these attacks are connected. They are coordinated. Islam is on the march, again. The only question is whether we see it, acknowledge the reality of it and figure out an adequate response before it's too late.

Pat Robertson says "But at the same time, at the core of this religion ... is jihad"

ROBERTSON: It's been what you call the religion. If you look at the Koran, which is the foundational doctrine, if you consider that Mohammed is the prophet of Allah, you look at what he said, what he instructed his followers to do and then what they did for 1,400 years of unrelenting warfare against Europe and the Christian world, then you begin to say, "Well, this is the way they are." It's not a question of interpretation. Look at history.

Pat Robertson further holds that its not Mr. Bush's place to say what is the nature of Islam.

"He is not elected as chief theologian," Mr. Robertson said.

The persecution or elimination of non-Muslims has been a cornerstone of Islamic conquests and rule for centuries. The Koran provides ample evidence that Islam encourages violence in order to win converts and to reach the ultimate goal of an Islamic world. Conversions from Islam to any other faith are often punishable by death.

One example is the treatment of non-Muslims by the Islamic government of Sudan. In the past year, our hospital in southern Sudan was bombed seven times by the Islamic regime in Khartoum. These bombings pale in comparison with the two million Christians and animists killed, and thousands more enslaved, by the regime in recent years.

In most countries where Islamic law dominates there is practically no freedom of religion (not to mention freedom of speech or the press). In most Islamic countries, including so-called moderate Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, it is a crime to build a Christian church, Jewish synagogue, Hindu temple or any other non-Muslim house of worship. In contrast, there are about 3,000 mosques in the U.S., with new ones being built every week.

Muslims are free to worship Allah in the U.S., but Christians are not free to worship Jesus in most Muslim countries. There has not been a single church in Afghanistan since the exiled king, Mohammed Zahir Shah,

Franklin Graham thinks Saudi money is buying a lot of influence in the US.

"Our country is slowly being, very quietly, being Islamized by huge contributions from Saudi Arabia to our universities to pay for Islamic studies, to support Islamic causes in this country," Graham told the paper's editors. "I don't have a problem with that, but I can't go to Saudi Arabia and take even a Bible. I can't go to Saudi Arabia with a Bible. They will confiscate it."

A Temple University professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion expressed concern about the thrust of the comments.

"It's really the tone of Mr. Graham's remarks and his general kind of sweeping statements that are most disturbing," Professor Mahmoud Ayoub said Thursday.

I wonder whehther Professor Ayoub believes Christians should be able to go into Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries and work as missionaries for Christianity. My guess is that he doesn't.

Franklin Graham also thinks there is no religious freedom in Muslim countries.

From 40 years of traveling to the Middle East, and I have traveled to countries (including), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan. I have seen when Muslims are in majority. There is no religious freedom. You cannot name one nation that has an Islamic majority where there is religious freedom.

I have seen the persecution. I have witnessed the persecution of people of different faiths by Islams. It is taught by them, it is in their Koran. They can't deny it.

I'd like to see Prince Bandar and Adel Al-Jubair explain on a US TV political talk show why the US should allow Saudi Muslim clerics come to the US to spread Wahhabi while US Christian clerics are not allowed entrance to Saudi Arabia to preach Christianity.

Dana Milbank has written a piece for the Washington Post that describes the debate on the Right about the nature of Islam:

Calling Islam a peaceful religion "is an increasingly hard argument to make," said Kenneth Adelman, a former Reagan official who serves on the Bush Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. "The more you examine the religion, the more militaristic it seems. After all, its founder, Mohammed, was a warrior, not a peace advocate like Jesus."

Another member of the Pentagon advisory board, Eliot Cohen of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, wrote an article on the Wall Street Journal editorial page arguing that the enemy of the United States enemy is not terrorism "but militant Islam." "The enemy has an ideology, and an hour spent surfing the Web will give the average citizen at least the kind of insights that he or she might have found during World Wars II and III by reading 'Mein Kampf' or the writings of Lenin, Stalin or Mao."

Cal Thomas argues we should demand that Muslims stand up to their own extremists because whether or not they respond by doing so we will learn their real intentions.

Pressuring "responsible" Muslim leaders to police their own house will help in two ways. If they do it, it will demonstrate there are true moderates who believe in pluralism and tolerance. If they don't, it will expose their real motives. Either way, Americans will benefit.

After saying "I guess I'm closer to the Islam-is-a-violent-religion party" Jonah Goldberg demands that Muslims stand up to fellow Muslims who are terrorists.

I will have a lot more sympathy for the complaints of Muslim activists once they put even a fraction of the energy they dedicate to portraying themselves as victims of bigoted America — or Europe — toward policing and condemning their own co-religionists. If they're afraid for their personal safety or even their lives — not an unreasonable fear — that's no excuse. Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and the rest may constitute hijackers in the cockpit of a peaceful religion, but they will define Islam if the folks in the main cabin don't fight the hijackers. That's what happened with Nazis in Germany, and that's what will happen with militant Islam if non-militant Islam continues to insist that its biggest enemies are the open and tolerant nations of the West that gave them the opportunity to live decent lives in freedom. If they persist in that complaint, nobody will be able to justly blame average Americans for scoffing at the suggestion that Islam means peace.

I think more commentators on the US political right should call on Muslims to denounce terrorism and to denounce the illiberal aspects of Muslim societies (e.g. lack of political and religious freedom and lack of tolerance for those of other beliefs). It seems unlikely that most Muslims really object to the illiberal aspects of Muslim culture and the demands will likely be met with hostility. However, if we make those demands the big benefit for the West will be that the Muslims will interpret our demands as a sign of our confidence that Western Civilization is worth defending.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 07 01:49 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 December 04 Wednesday
Hezbollah Wants To Conduct Terrorist Attacks Worldwide

Shiite Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah wants to go world wide in its terrorist operations.

The leader of the Lebanese Muslim group Hezbollah is urging a global suicide bombing campaign, increasing the prospect that the regional conflict between Arabs and Israelis will expand to mimic or even merge with al Qaeda's war against the West.

The Canadian government has not outlawed Hezbollah because its also provides social services:

The newspaper also reported that Bill Graham, the minister of foreign affairs, had decided not to outlaw Hezbollah in its entirety because the group is also involved in social and political work in Lebanon.

Not only is this policy foolish because it allows terrorist groups to move money around and to solicit money for terrorism thru their charity subsidiaries. The policy of allowing groups such as Hezbollah to operate also is naive because it fails to recognize the effects that Islamist charity organizations have upon the societies in which they operate. Walid Phares argues that Islamist charities intentionally seek to desecularize societies:

As evidence that Islamism is directed against traditional Islam and can “accommodate Western norms,” Messrs. Fukuyama and Samin cite the examples of women voting in Iran and the Islamist charities of Egypt, which, they write, “might yet help lay the groundwork of a true civil society.” It is dangerous, however, to view the evolution of Islamism through this liberal lens. Yes, the Shiite fundamentalists granted voting power to Iranian women—but in exchange for withdrawing their social rights. As for Egypt’s Islamist charities, far from being a Muslim version of the Lions Club or the PTA, they are tools for de-secularizing society and making it an extension of the Islamic state to come.

Canada's policy does suggest a way forward for Al Qaeda: open up a charity subsidiary in Canada and start doing public fund-raising aimed at appealing to Muslims there.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 04 02:19 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 28 Thursday
Nigerian Muslim Scholar Blames Writer For Rioters

This is a pretty perverse way to assign responsibility. A lady writes a column that enrages militant Muslims. The militant Muslims respond by going on a rampage and killing a couple of hundred people. Are the rioters responsible for the killings? This leading Islamic scholar holds the writer responsible for the actions of the people who felt anger over what she said:

From the Nigerian capital, Abuja, a leading Islamic scholar told The Washington Times a death penalty would be justifiable under Muslim law.

Those who cause death by reckless behavior could be put to death, said Hussein Mohamed.

"Over 200 people have died because of that article," he said. "So why are you concerned about the fate of one lady?"

This argument of course makes the rioters into less than moral agents. If the lady columnist is responsible for provoking their anger and is therefore responsible for the deaths then the rioters are no more than simple mindless automatons who are reacting to a simple stimulus.

An assumption that underlies a free society is the notion that all of its members are moral agents who are responsible for making moral judgements about whether they are justified in carrying out any action they decide to perform. A person with a conscience who is responsible for his actions has to control his own emotional responses and can't blame the writings of someone else for what he does.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 28 11:51 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 26 Tuesday
Nigerian State Issues Fatwa Against Columnist

Keep repeating: Islam is a religion of peace. Islam is a religion of peace. Islam is a religion of peace. Also, Islam is compatible with Western style secular liberal democracy replete with freedom of speech.

A Nigerian Muslim state said Tuesday it had issued a "fatwa" urging Muslims to kill the author of a newspaper story on the Miss World (news - web sites) pageant that sparked deadly riots in northern Nigeria.

Iain Murray sees evidence of two incompatible faiths.

In one obscure city, religious clashes killed 2,000 people. That's about the same as died in two years of the Intifada in Israel. Yet there is no Western outrage, no calls for Nigeria to be divided between its two obviously incompatible faiths, and no calls for the UN to pass security council resolutions. If ever there was evidence that the clash of civilizations is about more than just the Palestinian question, here it is. Perhaps the Miss World riots will open a few eyes.

If Christians and Muslims can't live side by side as equals in Nigeria is there is lesson here for the rest of the world?

Update: My view is that there incompatble belief systems in this world. The idea that all religions can co-exist requires that each religion not claim that it has divinely granted authority to control what people say or do on subjects where the behavior of people do not violate the rights of others. But if a religion holds a position that requires submission of non-believers in terms of what they are not allowed to say and do and if the religion requires that non-believers be in an inferior political position vis a vis believers then that religion is not compatible with Western forms of government. Well, Islam is explicitly incompatible with Western forms of government. One can not believe the exact words of the Koran and also accept rule of Western secular free democracies without holding a contradiction in one's mind.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 26 12:39 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 24 Sunday
What Osama Bin Laden Doesn't Like About America

Osama bin Laden is really upset with the United States of America for a long list of reasons. Here's an excerpt where he condemns us for using credit, alcohol, recreational drugs, revealing pictures of women in advertising, and assorted other practices he finds objectionable

(b) It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind:

(i) You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator. You flee from the embarrassing question posed to you: How is it possible for Allah the Almighty to create His creation, grant them power over all the creatures and land, grant them all the amenities of life, and then deny them that which they are most in need of: knowledge of the laws which govern their lives?

(ii) You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions. Yet you build your economy and investments on Usury. As a result of this, in all its different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your economy, through which they have then taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense; precisely what Benjamin Franklin warned you against.

(iii) You are a nation that permits the production, trading and usage of intoxicants. You also permit drugs, and only forbid the trade of them, even though your nation is the largest consumer of them.

(iv) You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. You have continued to sink down this abyss from level to level until incest has spread amongst you, in the face of which neither your sense of honour nor your laws object.

Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the official Oval office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that he 'made a mistake', after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and remembered by nations?

(v) You are a nation that permits gambling in its all forms. The companies practice this as well, resulting in the investments becoming active and the criminals becoming rich.

(vi) You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools calling upon customers to purchase them. You use women to serve passengers, visitors, and strangers to increase your profit margins. You then rant that you support the liberation of women.

(vii) You are a nation that practices the trade of sex in all its forms, directly and indirectly. Giant corporations and establishments are established on this, under the name of art, entertainment, tourism and freedom, and other deceptive names you attribute to it.

I think its good that he's put together such a long list of his objections to the US. This helps to clarify (at least to those who have yet to understand this) the full depth and breadth of the radical Islamist objection to Western Civilization.

This is an audacious document. Bin Laden complains about the US on human rights issues and yet he helped prop up the utterly backward and vicious Taliban regime. This inconsistency is a key to understanding Bin Laden. He doesn't care whether people are arrested and held without trial if the government that does so is Islamic. It doesn't matter to him whether people are killed by their government as long as the government doing the killing is, again, Islamic. Some of his objections stem from who is doing the behavior that he finds objectionable rather than on what is being done. He's a partisan and any action taken by his opponents against his movement is objectionable because the action is against his movement.

Objectivist philosopher David Kelley argues that the Islamists are objecting more to modernity and civilization in general than to Western Civilization specifically:

In all its forms, even on the avant-garde Left, anti-modernism aims to restore pre-Enlightenment values and ways of life. And in all its forms, even on the conservative Right, it is a reaction against the Enlightenment and is thus essentially new. Fundamentalism, for example, is not simply a revival of traditional Christianity, which was much more intellectually sophisticated. Fundamentalism was created in the early twentieth century by Protestants who opposed Darwin.

Islamist movements are of similarly recent origin. They were created not by illiterate Egyptian peasants or nomads in the Arabian desert but by educated people, most of whom were middle- or upper-class. Many of the intellectuals, like Qutb, had lived and studied in the West. Especially after World War II, they were deeply influenced by Western anti-modernists like Martin Heidegger. They read the works of historians like Oswald Spengler who predicted the decline of the West. They read The Wretched of the Earth, by the French Marxist and existentialist Franz Fanon, who urged Third World activists to use revolutionary violence.

Conversely, the postmodern Left has frequently embraced the Islamists. Michel Foucault, the French thinker who attacked Western rationalism as a mask for power, welcomed Khomeini's Islamic revolution in Iran as a triumph of spirituality over capitalist materialism.

I think there is an element of truth in this argument. But even before The Enlightenment Western Civilization already possessed many elements that the Islamists of today would find objectionable. Those elements helped to make The Enlightenment possible in the first place. Also, the Islamists oppose the modernity of the West in part because that modernity makes the West so strong militarily that the West is an obstacle to Islamist ambitions. Simultaneously the West's greater success is a shame and a humiliation to people who believe that following their religion should naturally cause them to be the most successful and most powerful.

David Warren points out that "pre-Enlightenment" Islamic culture does place any value on being fair to those outside of it.

These are, still today, cultures of the "pre-Enlightenment"; people not incapable of sympathy, for their own, but not yet versed in the imaginative projection of that sympathy into people who are not their own. And it is not Islam, but the Enlightenment, that stands between East and West in these matters. For we have largely lost the category of an "infidel", and they still have it.

On this side, the endless effort to understand "where those people are coming from", mostly missing the main point that they "do not think as we do". On that side, no effort at all, and it is taken for granted that we are "infidels" simply, living "beyond the pale", even when there is no desire to harm us. For us, there can be both Israeli and Palestinian victims; for them, only Palestinians feel pain.

This is an important observation. Islam draws a circle around its believers and puts everyone else outside of that circle. There is no attempt to do justice to the people outside of the circle. The only wrongs that are tallied up are the wrongs against Muslims that are done (or imagined to have been done in too many cases) by non-Muslims against Muslims. Even inside of the circle women are placed at a much lower level. We can't reason with people who are governed by this sort of moral calculus. It is foolish to try.

Islamist contempt is a necessary reaction to the West because to find value in the West would require the Islamists to find flaws in their own belief system. There is no room in that belief system for reexamination and amendment. If they hold the West as worthless then it is easier to find justification for the contempt they feel for the non-believers who they already view as outside the circle.

James Q. Wilson, in his essay The Reform Islam Needs, argues the West and Islamic Civilizations made different decisions about the relationship of the individual to religion and society and that each choice brings with it a different set of problems.

Both the West and Islam face major challenges that emerge from their ruling principles. When the West reconciled religion and freedom, it did so by making the individual the focus of society, and the price it has paid has been individualism run rampant, in the form of weak marriages, high rates of crime, and alienated personalities. When Islam kept religion at the expense of freedom, it did so by making the individual subordinate to society, and the price it has paid has been autocratic governments, religious intolerance, and little personal freedom.

I believe that in time Islam will become modern, because without religious freedom, modern government is impossible. I hope that in time the West will reaffirm social contracts, because without them a decent life is impossible. But in the near term, Islam will be on the defensive culturally—which means it will be on the offensive politically. And the West will be on the offensive culturally, which I suspect means it will be on the defensive morally.

Fair enough, each choice creates problems. Western societies certainly have their share of problems and flaws. But its the choice of the believers in Islam that has made Islam incompatible with all the other religions and cultures in the world.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 24 05:24 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 23 Saturday
China As A Fascist State

Jasper Becker argues that China has become a fascist state modelled after the Mussolini's Italy.

Jiang would also subscribe to Mussolini’s notion that at the centre of this effort is the state which ‘organises the nation but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential: the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the state alone....’

While Soviet and Chinese communism was marked by the day-to-day micro-management of a centrally planned economy, Mussolini’s preference was for a partnership with capitalist corporations, which were allowed to run the economy. The changes in the party’s ideology that Jiang triumphantly introduced last week make possible a marriage between a market economy and a totalitarian police state, a capitalistic free-for-all.

Some people argue that China will not become a threat to us or a problem for the larger world because as it becomes more affluent it will inevitably become democratic at some point. However, this view seems naive for a couple of reasons. First of all, affluence does not automatically lead to democracy. Secondly, democracy does not automatically lead to peaceful liberal democracy with full respect for individual rights. China lacks some critical cultural memes that are necessary precursors of a rights-respecting liberal democratic state. Whether those memes will spread in China remains to be seen. But history does not provide much reason for optimism.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 23 09:44 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 November 22 Friday
Mark Steyn On Cultural Weakness And Islamic Threats

This is one of the best columns I've read by Mark Steyn. Attempts to appeal to Muslims to show them we are not their enemies are self-defeating. We ought to be demanding that they demonstrate the same to us. Read the full article. Appeasement doesn't work when your enemy holds you in contempt:

This is the real war aim -- or it should be, if we're to have any chance of winning this thing: We have to change the hearts and minds of millions of Muslims, too many of whom are at best indifferent to great evil. "Changing" isn't the same as "winning the hearts and minds," which is multiculti codespeak for pre-emptively surrendering and agreeing not to disagree with them. For over a year now, nothing has been asked of Muslims, at home or abroad: you can be equivocal about bin Laden and an apologist for suicide bombers, and still get a photo-op with Dubya; you can be a member of a regime whose state TV stations and government-owned newspapers call for Muslims to kill all Jews and Christians, and you'll still get to kick your shoes off with George and Laura at the Crawford ranch.

This is not just wrong but self-defeating. As long as Dubya and Colin Powell and the rest are willing to prance around doing a month-long Islamic minstrel-show routine for the amusement of the A-list Arabs, Muslims will rightly see it for what it is: a sign of profound cultural weakness.

As long as Western Civilization doubts itself in the face of such hostility from Islamic Civilization we are not going to demand their respect and we are not going to demand that they change in ways that will make them less of a threat to us.

Update: Victor Davis Hanson makes a similar argument:

Either we can accept that the United States is a more moral and decent culture than the tribal world of the fundamentalists and dictators, and thus must not lose out to their medieval visions — or in our self-doubt and moral conceit we can worry endlessly over why we are not liked as we would wish, and therefore choose to feed both our fears and their audacity. The former and harder course will lead to acrimony and caricature in the present, but victory and security in the future. The latter, easier way ensures that we will be for a time tolerated by the U.N., Europe, and the Arab states publicly, but privately despised as not only crass, but also weak, as we — not they — descend into a constant war of attrition from terrorist attacks and lunatic dictatorships armed with frightful weapons.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 22 05:30 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Bangldeshi Exile Writer Taslima Nasrin

Bangladeshi Novelist and poet Taslima Nasrin, the first volume of whose memoir is entitled Meyebela: My Bengali Girlhood faces a jail sentence in Bangladesh for offending Muslims. She is, wisely, living in exile. Her book banned in Bangladesh as are other books which she has written. She recently spoke at the Asia Society (presumably in New York City):

People filled the auditorium to see the woman who fled Bangladesh in 1994 after official action was first taken against her for work that exposed the oppression of women there and the realities of Muslim-Hindu violence. Nasrin, now 40, was reported that year to have told a newspaper that the Koran should be thoroughly revised. She still insists she was misquoted, but at the time she sent a correction to the paper that fundamentalists objected to even more. Nasrin was forced into hiding, but with PEN's help, was finally allowed to leave, and she escaped to Sweden. In Bangladesh, her books are banned, and recently she was tried in absentia and found guilty of blasphemy.

Despite a request at the reading for written questions only, someone asked out loud if the uncles who raped her as a child were in the marches against her. She simply replied, "Yes." The rapes and other horrors of a childhood in a well-to-do Muslim family, marked by the sometimes brutal rule of her father, are told in Meyebela, My Bengali Girlhood (Steerforth Press), the first volume of her memoir, just now being published in the United States. Speaking of the title, Nasrin said there is no word in Bengali for girlhood, and Meyebela is her coinage to fill that void.

Some background on legal actions against her in Bangladesh:

Her 1992 novel Lajja (Shame), about a Hindu family's sufferings when Muslims in Bangladesh attacked them, led in 1993 to a call for Taslima's execution "for blasphemy and conspiracy against Islam, the Holy Koran, and its prophet." A fatwa was placed on her head by a mullah, and observers were slow to realize that the extremely strict Saudi Arabin Washhabism form of Islamic fundamentalism had now spread to Bangladesh with the help of money from followers of Osama bin Laden.

In 1994 a case was filed against her that provides for two years' imprisonment for "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class of citizens by insulting its religion or religious beliefs." Threatened and hounded by demonstrations, she immediately went into hiding.

Aided by PEN and Amnesty International, Taslima fled to Germany and Sweden, where she has remained in hiding, always fearful of being assassinated by some extremist Muslim. Daring to return her seriously ill mother from New York City, she again was detected and forced to flee. When her mother died, Taslima did not dare return to the funeral. Nor is she able to return to minister to her father, also seriously ill, because the government of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, and Jamaate-Islami (which held a number of seats in the Parliament), have found it politically expedient to give in to the religious extremists.

Meredith Tax writes about Nasrin's life, religious violence in India and Bangladesh, and reviews Meyebela in an article in The Nation entitled Taslima's Pilgrimage:

But if Taslima Nasrin had worried about such things, she would not have become a human rights case. She tried to knock down every taboo in her society, writing about religion, ethnic violence, sex, all at the same time, crash! And she is still doing it. Nasrin did not have to flee Bangladesh merely because she wrote a novel about the persecution of its Hindu minority or told an Indian reporter the Sharia (Islamic law) was outdated and should be left behind. Other Bangladeshi writers, male and female, have said such things; some have also been threatened by fundamentalists; but most are still there. Nasrin combined the violation of those taboos with an even more daring transgression: She opened the closet door on a whole world of subterranean sexual experience and feeling, much of it abusive, and none of it considered fit to be discussed. She wrote about sex and religion and state politics all together, and she did it at a bad time, when fundamentalism was on the rise. The combination did her in.

This is a particularly disturbing passage from the article:

September 11, 2001, shows these events in a new light. Wahhabism, the extremely strict form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, had not only penetrated the countryside in Pakistan and Afghanistan (where the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996) but was also gaining a foothold in Bangladesh, carried by migrant laborers and spread by modern communications. Sylhet had been a center of emigration since the 1950s; thousands of young men went abroad each year to settle and send money home to their families; increasingly, they went to the Middle East. The money they earned there enabled them to come back and become landowners and leaders in their villages, and to set up madrassahs that taught the Saudi variation of Islam. The fatwa put on Taslima Nasrin in 1993 must now be seen as an early warning signal that this globalized, politicized form of Islamic fundamentalism was growing more aggressive and looking for an opportunity to test its strength in Bangladesh.

She sees religious fundamentalists as a great threat:

In December 1993, 5,000 zealots marched through Dhaka, demanding the death of the 34-year-old Bangladeshi gynecologist, poet, and author. In an ensuing general strike, one man was killed and more than two hundred other people were injured. As tension mounted, her physician-father's office was broken into, her family was threatened, and Nasrin hid with the help of friends for sixty days. The U.S. State Department was helpful in getting her out of Bangladesh, and twelve nations of the European Union made a formal offer of asylum to the writer. So she fled to Germany and to Sweden, proclaiming that "the fundamentalists are destroying our society. The silent majority is afraid of them. They will do anything in the name of God. The progressives are not so organized, for they cannot bring together 300,000 people at one time." As for the Muslim clergy, "The country is infected with them. Their long hair, beards, and robes conceal their insatiable lust for wealth and women."

She has a web site. You can also find some of her poetry here.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 22 12:32 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (19)
2002 November 17 Sunday
James Hoagland: Europe Behind In Understanding

James Hoagland argues that European desires to maintain a stasis in the international order demonstrate an ignorance of the powerful dynamic forces at work that can't be contained with negotiation.

Diverging attitudes over what is sustainable and what is doomed are rapidly becoming divisive factors in transatlantic relations. An intellectual investment in the status quo ties France, Germany and others to the Arab governments of the Middle East at least as much as commerce and oil do. Cataclysmic change in the Middle East is a notion that falls somewhere between inevitable and desirable for the Bush White House. It is anathema to Europe's leaders and intellectuals.

Europe was more strongly socialist than the US ever was and this fact betrays something about European intellectual culture. An assumption of socialism is that the relevant factors can be known, controlled, and managed to maintain whatever kind of social order the leaders choose to have. This assumption that things can be managed and that the system is more stable than reality really is. It should not be surprising that even after socialism has been discredited as an economic system that European intellectuals still tend toward the view that they can manage things that are more complex than they realise because that view predated the development of communism and socialism.

How powerful are the forces that are changing the Muslim world? Technological advances are increasing the amount of exposure that members of Muslim societies have to modern Western Civilization while simultaneously increasing the amount of communication that is happening within and between Muslim societies. Islam's historic view of itself is being challenged. The existence of the West as a more advanced and powerful civilization is being brought home by advances in communications, transportation, and military technology. The reaction Muslims are having to the West can be seen as a crisis in faith in Islam where the entire religious belief system is threatened by greater knowledge of and exposure to the West. Diplomacy is an inadequate response to the size of the forces that these changes are unleashing. The growth of resentment, jealousy, and hostility can not be contained and managed by multilateral institutions and negotiations between governments.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 17 10:52 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 16 Saturday
Battle Over Female Circumcision In Denmark

The Danish People's Party is demanding that girls who have had their genitals mutilated should be placed in foster care and their parents expelled from Denmark. The debate in Denmark sounds like its pretty heated: (Daily Telegraph free registration required)

Earlier, the chairmen of Denmark's biggest government and opposition parties issued a call for Muslim girls to be inspected by school doctors.

Some, including the justice minister, said it would be appropriate to apply the criminal law against parents whose daughters had been operated on.

The comments came after days of furious criticism from press and politicians of demands by imams representing the Somali immigrant community for girls to be circumcised.

If I was a Dane I'd vote for the Danish People's Party.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 16 11:30 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 13 Wednesday
John Hawkins Interviews Victor Davis Hanson

The interview covers a variety of topics including the question of whether the United States is an Empire:

John Hawkins: There have been frequent comparisons of late between the United States and the Roman Empire. How valid do you think those comparisons are? Why so?

Victor Davis Hanson: Politically they are absurd. We do not send proconsuls to demand taxes to pay for basing troops. In fact we do the opposite--pay lavishly for bases that protect others. The imperial senate was impotent, and civil war was common after AD 200 -- we have a stable Congress and little strife. For all the European venom, George Bush is not a Caracalla or even Diocletian. The classical topos of luxus, decadence brought about by affluence and leisure -- read Petronius, Suetonius, or Juvenal -- well, that is a real concern. Self-loathing and smug cynicism from an elite are the first symptoms and we see that clearly among those pampered and secure, who nevertheless ridicule the very system under which they operate in such a privileged fashion -- most notably in the arts, on the campuses, and in the media. A Jessica Lange or Barbra Streisand is right out of a Petronian banquet or perhaps sounds like a Flavian princess spouting off at dinner before returning to Nero's Golden House. Norman Mailer is a modern day Eumolpus bellowing on spec, and a Michael Moore a court-jester brought in to stick his tongue out at his benefactors for their own sick amusement.

Update: Hanson's recent NRO essay on "The bankruptcy of the anti-Americanists" is worth a read:

So we have at last arrived at Cloudcuckooland: A hierarchal United States military is more tolerant of liberals in its ranks than liberal universities are of their critics on campus. Republicans support dangerous interventions abroad to remove dictators and free oppressed peoples, as leftist dissidents agitate for hands-off mass murderers and medieval theocrats. A democratic Israel is slandered as imperialistic and fascistic while an authoritarian Palestinian regime is given a pass for theft, murder, and torture. And liberals, women, and homosexuals are saved in Afghanistan thanks to the work of Air Force pilots and special forces, as reactionary fundamentalists and thugs seek to hold onto their autocracy in part by finding solace with anti-American leftists. Who would have ever thought that democratic Iraqis would seek our military's help, while agents of Saddam Hussein would line up to find solidarity with those now marching?

By Randall Parker    2002 November 13 07:20 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Islamists Seen As Deficient In Humour

Some German intellectuals examine whether the West's biggest enemies share a common lack of humor:

DOES THE EUROPEAN Left have a humor problem? The current issue of Merkur, a highbrow German journal devoted to ''European thought,'' explores this ticklish subject. Roughly half of the contributors address the topic of humor and 9/11, and along with the inevitable analyses of American humor after the terrorist attacks, there are a number of well-written polemics excoriating what the authors view as a fundamental hostility within the Islamic world toward Western ideas of fun - and the European Left's tendency to sidestep or blame the West for this hostility. It's an intriguing idea, for which the Merkur has gotten good reviews. But can fun really be the crux of a clash of civilizations? Is it worth thinking about humor as the largely metaphoric war on terrorism threatens to prompt a decidedly literal one in the Middle East?

By Randall Parker    2002 November 13 12:47 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2002 November 11 Monday
Erdogan Of Turkey Then And Now

What Erdogan said then:

The party's 50-member governing board is scheduled to meet this week to decide on a name to forward to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who formally appoints the prime minister. In a Muslim nation founded on strict secular rules, Erdogan entered public life under the banner of political Islam. The movement is based on a literal interpretation of the Koran's many instructions on governance, demanding that Islamic law, or sharia, become the law of the land. And Erdogan, while a leader of the now-defunct Welfare Party that governed Turkey for 12 erratic months ending in 1997, sounded like a true believer.

"Thank God, I am for sharia," Erdogan once said. And: "One cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time." And: "For us, democracy is a means to an end." Such statements haunted the former Istanbul mayor through this year's election campaign, which ended Nov. 3.

What Erdogan says now:

You have said, "You cannot be secular and a Muslim at the same time. The world's 1.5 billion Muslims are waiting for the Turkish people to rise up and we will rise up." Do you still believe this or have you moderated your views?

A. Islam is a religion. Secularism is just a style of management. When a person chooses Islam, he becomes Muslim, but he can choose secularism as a style of administration.

But you said the two are incompatible.

I am Muslim and prefer secular administration.

This guy is probably going to become Turkey's Prime Minister after the rules are changed to allow him to assume office. What does he really believe? Has he really changed his mind?

By Randall Parker    2002 November 11 02:49 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
Will Turkey Allow US To Use Bases Against Iraq?

Erdogan has been making increasingly stronger statements opposing a US move against the Iraqi regime. In his latest he's not exactly sounding like the cool voice of moderate reason that many now hope he is:

"There is a possibility that Washington would use weapons of mass destruction against the Iraqi people at a time when it is using Iraqi possession of such weapons as a pretext to hit Baghdad," Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of the Justice and Development Party, told Lebanon's al Mustaqbal newspaper. "This contradictory stand contradicts our humanitarian understandings."

He's trying to say that the US is going to use nuclear, biological or chemical weapons in an attack on Iraq. This is nonsense and demagoguery.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 11 12:21 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Somali Dutch Woman Goes Into Hiding From Islamists

Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke out about the treatment of Muslim women by Muslim men in the Netherlands. Now she's living in fear of her life: (same article here and here)

Then Ms. Hirsi Ali, 32, began receiving hate mail, anonymous messages calling her a traitor to Islam and a slut. On several Web sites, other Muslims said she deserved to be knifed and shot. Explicit death threats by telephone soon followed. The police told her to change homes and the mayor of Amsterdam sent bodyguards. She tried living in hiding. Finally, last month, she became a refugee again, fleeing the Netherlands.

"I had to speak up," she said, in a telephone interview from her hiding place, "because most spokesmen for Muslims are men and they deny or belittle the enormous problems of Muslim women locked up in their Dutch homes."

Go read the full article. Its sobering. (NY Times requires free registration)

By Randall Parker    2002 November 11 11:27 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 08 Friday
Valery Giscard d'Estaing: Turkey Not Part Of Europe

Some blunt talk on Turkey from a former President of France and current head of the European Union's Constitutional Convention:

Mr Giscard d'Estaing told Le Monde that Turkey's capital was not in Europe, 95% of its population lived outside Europe, and it was "not a European country".

Asked what the effect of including Turkey in a future wave of European enlargement would be, he said: "In my opinion, it would be the end of Europe."

He doesn't want to end the European Union:

Underlining his opposition to Turkish membership of the EU, Giscard d'Estaing said that letting non-European countries join the 15-member club would be "the end of the European Union."

"The day after you open negotiations with Turkey, you would have a Moroccan demand (for membership of the union,)" said the 76-year-old politician.

Its only what other EU politicians are already saying privately:

Giscard's comments reflected in blunt language what many EU politicians whisper privately, but they come at a particularly delicate time when Brussels needs Turkey's cooperation to try to solve several problems related to enlargement.

So then is Andersson in favor of Turkey's entry?

His outspoken comments caused uproar and embarrassment in Brussels and outraged Turkish representatives in the Convention. One European Parliament member, Swedish Socialist Jan Andersson, called for his resignation.

The official EU position is that Turkish membership in the EU would not be a problem:

"I don't have any intention of getting into a ping-pong match with Mr Giscard d'Estaing," said a spokesman for the European Commission -- the EU's executive.

"He is of course free to give his own personal opinion," spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori told reporters.

But asked whether Turkey's entry into the EU would mean its end, Filori said: "The answer is no."

What is surprising is that comments are getting more attention than recent comments from the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer along the same lines.

Keep in mind that these comments come from European leaders who are convinced that Israel is an oppressive regime that treats Muslims most unfairly, that Israel ought to be capable of living peacefully side-by-side closely with Muslim Arabs (who, after all, are culturally much less European than Turks), and that if it can't then it must be the fault of the Israeli Jews. Hypocrisy? You decide.

Update: Also, be sure to see my previous post on Barbara Lerner On Reasons For Turkish Exceptionalism.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 08 10:06 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2002 November 05 Tuesday
Jeffrey Goldberg on Hezbollah

Jeffrey Goldberg has been writing a 2 part series on Hezbollah for The New Yorker. Here is an interview with Goldberg about Hezbollah: (see the update at the bottom for the full article)

In your article, you describe Hezbollah as "the most successful terrorist organization in modern history." Do you mean that it is successful in the narrow sense of having pulled off acts of public violence, or in the achievement of certain political ends?

Unlike Al Qaeda, for instance, Hezbollah has succeeded, on two notable occasions, in achieving policy goals through the application of terrorist techniques. First, it drove American and French peacekeepers from Lebanon in the early nineteen-eighties, after a series of deadly bombings. (In one, two hundred and forty-one U.S. marines were murdered.) And two years ago, through guerrilla warfare and terrorism, it forced the Israeli Army to pull out from Israel's so-called security zone in southern Lebanon.

Also, from Google cache I found a press release about this article:

"A main focus today appears to be the training of specifically anti-Israel militants in the science of constructing so-called 'mega-bombs,' devices that can bring down office towers and other large structures." Hezbollah operatives, Goldberg adds, "with the help and cover of Iranian diplomats, have been making surveillance tapes of American diplomatic installations in South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe." Gal Luft, an Israeli expert on counterterrorism, tells Goldberg that it is only a matter of time before a "mega-attack" succeeds. The Israelis also believe that in South Lebanon "Hezbollah has more than eight thousand rockets," Goldberg reports, "weapons that are far more sophisticated than any previously seen in the group's arsenal. They include the Iranian-made Fajr-5 rocket, which has a range of up to forty-five miles, meaning that Israel's industrial heartland, in the area south of Haifa, falls within Hezbollah's reach." One intelligence official tells Goldberg, "It's not tenable for us to have a jihadist organization on our border with the capability of destroying Israel's main oil refinery." Major General Benny Gantz, the chief of the Israeli Army's Northern Command, says, "I'll be surprised if we don't see this fight." It could quickly become a major regional war. "Israel doesn't have to deal with Hezbollah as Hezbollah," Gantz says. "This is the Hezbollah tail wagging the Syrian dog. As far as I'm concerned, Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese and Syrian forces. Syria will pay the price. I'm not saying when or where. But it will be severe." Israeli intelligence officials say that Israel cannot act preëmptively against Hezbollah while America is trying to gather support for an attack against Iraq. But, one Israeli officer says, "The day after the American attack, we can move."

Google cache expires eventually and Google will revisit that page which has since changed to announce a new release of the magazine. So that link will not stay working for long.

Presuming that the US removes Saddam Hussein's regime from power the next logical problem to be dealt with is going to be Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. Iran is providing a lot of the support for Hezbollah. Plus, Iran has its own WMD development programs. But if Hezbollah attack Israel expect Israel to move against Syria and Hezbollah before the US can do anything about it. The Israelis might even launch a preemptive strikes against Iranian nuclear weapons development labs.

You can also read an interview of Jeffrey Goldberg on his travels in Iraqi Kurdistan here. Plus, you can read the full article "The Great Terror" on Iraqi Kurdistan.

You can also read Jeffrey Goldberg's article from the July 9, 2001 issue of The New Yorker "The Martyr Strategy - What does the new phase of terrorism signify?" here or here.

For my previous post on other articles by Jeffrey Goldberg go here.

Update: There's an article in the Jerusalem Post by Andrea Levin that quotes from the Jeffrey Goldberg Hezbollah article:

Jeffrey Goldberg tells a different story. He writes that "Hezbollah is, at its core, a jihadist organization, and its leaders have never tried to disguise their ultimate goal: building an Islamic republic in Lebanon and liberating Jerusalem from the Jews." He notes that even Hezbollah leaders concede the Shebaa Farms issue is a pretext.

He quotes a Hezbollah spokesman as saying: "If they go from Shebaa, we will not stop fighting them... Our goal is to liberate the 1948 borders of Palestine." Any Jews who might survive "can go back to Germany, or wherever they came from."

Another Hezbollah leader, Sayyid Nasrallah, declared: "We all have an extraordinary historic opportunity to finish off the entire cancerous Zionist project."

Goldberg notes that anti-Semitic invective has long been a "weapon in the anti-Israel armamentarium" but it had previously not borne the "malignancy of genocidal anti-Semitism. The language has changed, however."

Hezbollah, in his view, "has been at the vanguard of this shift... and its leaders frequently resort to epidemiological metaphors in describing Jews in world affairs. Ibrahim Mussawi, the urbane and scholarly-seeming director of English-language news at Al Mana [Hezbollah's satellite television station], called Jews 'a lesion on the forehead of history.' " A Hezbollah official in the Lebanese Parliament said Jews "act as parasites in the nations that have given them shelter."

Update: Goldberg's New Yorker article is now online.

Along with this public work, Hez bollah continues to increase its terrorist and guerrilla capabilities. Magnus Ranstorp says that Hezbollah can be active on four tracks simultaneously—the political, the social, the guerrilla, and the terrorist—because its leaders are "masters of long-term strategic subversion." The organization's Special Security Apparatus operates in Europe, North and South America, and East Asia. According to both American and Israeli intelligence officials, the group maintains floating "day camps" for terrorist training throughout the Bekaa Valley; many of the camps are said to be just outside Baalbek. In some of them, the instructors are supplied by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran's Ministry of Intelligence. In the past twenty years, terrorists from such disparate organizations as the Basque separatist group ETA, the Red Brigades, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and the Irish Republican Army have been trained in these camps.

...

Hezbollah has not been suspected of overt anti-American actions since 1996, when the Khobar Towers, in Saudi Arabia, were attacked, but, according to intelligence officials, its operatives, with the help and cover of Iranian diplomats, have been making surveillance tapes of American diplomatic installations in South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe. These tapes, along with maps and other tools, are said to be kept in well-organized clandestine libraries.

This serves as a useful reminder that Sunni Muslim Al Qaeda is not the only major terrorist group with aspirations for attacks against the United States. It is worth noting that neither group derived substantial support from Saddam Hussein but Shiite Muslim Hezbollah gets support from Iran.

In the second part of Goldberg's two part series Goldberg visits the border area where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay share common borders and finds a large Hezbollah presence.

Roughly two hundred thousand people live in the Ciudad del Este region, including a substantial minority of Arab Muslims; in the Triple Frontier zone, there may be as many as thirty thousand. According to intelligence officials in the region and in Washington, this Muslim community has in its midst a hard core of terrorists, many of them associated with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group backed by the Iranian government; some with Hamas, the Palestinian fundamentalist group; and some with Al Qaeda. It is, over all, a community under the influence of extreme Islamic beliefs; intelligence officials told me that some of the Triple Frontier Arabs held celebrations on September 11th of last year and also on the anniversary this year. These officials said that Hezbollah runs weekend training camps on farms cut out of the rain forest of the Triple Frontier. In at least one of these camps, in the remote jungle terrain near Foz do Iguaçu, young adults get weapons training and children are indoctrinated in Hezbollah ideology—a mixture of anti-American and anti-Jewish views inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Goldberg describes the system of extortion of money from Lebanese immigrants in Paraguay by Hezbollah operatives there. If this has not changed since Goldberg wrote his article then the US government ought to help the Paraguayan government bring it to a stop.

The second part of Goldberg's series shows the security threats created by allowing Arab Muslims to immigrate to a country in significant numbers. The countries of North, Central, and South America ought to stop letting in Muslim immigrants and ought to deport all their illegal Muslims and any Muslims with ties to terrorist groups.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 05 10:58 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2002 November 04 Monday
Religion and Multiculturalism as Blindfolds

Check out this cartoon on Little Green Footballs.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 04 09:52 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Barbara Lerner On Reasons For Turkish Exceptionalism

I agree with Barbara Lerner about the beneficial effect that the Turkish military continues to have upon Turkish politics and that its role in defending the Turkish constitution continues to be necessary. But while that may be a reason to admire the Turkish military it also continues to demonstrate the failure of liberal democracy to survive on its own in a Muslim majority country:

We all know only too well about ignorant, greedy, megalomaniacal military thugs like Gamal Abdel Nasser and Saddam Hussein, but Turkish military officers are nothing like that.

For starters, they are very well-educated, not just in methods of warfare, but in the sciences generally, and the liberal arts too, and they are fluent in Western languages. They have to be. The required military school curriculum is anything but narrow or provincial. Some Turkish politicians are provincial; no Turkish military officers are. These are sophisticated, disciplined men, and no wonder. The Turkish military has a long tradition of eschewing nepotism and all the other forms of favoritism that are endemic in the region, selecting and promoting officers on a strictly meritocratic basis. The Turkish military is tough on graft and corruption too. Corruption in Turkish politics is about as bad as in France and Belgium, and all Turks know it. But Turks are as surprised to find a military officer on the take as we are to find a federal judge who can be bought.

Update: Be sure to read my later post on Valery Giscard d'Estaing: Turkey Not Part Of Europe.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 04 07:35 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (12)
Victor Davis Hanson On Al Qaedism, Anti-Americanism

Victor Davis Hanson argues that we must change our culture's response to anti-Americanism at home as well has destroy our enemies abroad:

In the 1930s there were literally thousands of unbalanced Westerners outside Germany who paraded around in black shirts and aped Hitler. No doubt had the Third Reich not been demolished the more deranged would have continued to dress-up their criminality with Nazi slogans, violent anti-Semitism, and terrorist acts. But by 1945 few would-be National Socialists were prominent. Violent fellow travelers were common in the 1930s and 1940s; indeed, the archives of arrested Stalinists often reveal those who tried to find some higher plane to act out their innate criminal propensities, alleviate deep personal maladies, or simply assuage their own failure by displaying anger toward Western society. Yet we see few such dangerous misfits after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

To rid us of al Qaedists, then, we must first not merely destroy al Qaeda, but do so in such comprehensive and humiliating fashion that the easy emulation of the radical Islamicist agenda not only draws opposition from friends and family but utter ridicule. And at home, Americans must not be afraid to address extremism when they see it, refute it — and do so in such a way that its perpetrators incur shame and odium on themselves rather than inspire the criminal, hateful, or mentally ill to equate their anger and failure with a virulent anti-Americanism.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 04 12:23 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Anthony Daniels On Anti-Enlightenment Societies

Anthony Daniels pays a visit to bookstores in Havana and Dubai and comes away with a greater appreciation of his debt to and acceptance of the Enlightenment ideal of intellectual inquiry:

Two cities could hardly be more different—in this age of globalization and cultural homogeneity—than Dubai and Havana, but recent visits to the bookshops of both taught me a lesson that I should not have expected to learn: that, accustomed as I am to deplore the superficiality and simplifications of the Enlightenment, I am nevertheless a product of it. No Enlightenment, no me: and none of my friends, either. This might be perfectly obvious, but a great deal of labor goes into the denial of the obvious: for the obvious is an affront to intellectuals, including me, whom it threatens with redundancy.

Dubai is Islamic and Havana is Marxist, of course, but both comprehensively reject the Enlightenment ideal of intellectual inquiry wherever it might lead, though Dubai is a liberal state by the standards of the region. In the bookshops of both, you get the powerful impression that, fundamentally, all questions (at least, those that relate to philosophy, history, and how life should be lived) have long been settled, and that all that needs to be known is already known, or rather has been revealed. All that remains to be done is to slot the facts into the worldview.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 04 12:00 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 03 Sunday
New Criterion On Anti-Americanism

In the November 2002 issue of The New there is a special section on anti-Americanism. While not all the essays are available online those on their website are well worth reading.

Roger Kimball argues that others respond with hatred when a great civilization loses confidence in itself in his essay entitled "Failures of Nerve".

Pinterism (if I may thus eponymize this brand of intellectualizing self-hatred) is not a new phenomenon. George Orwell noted something similar in his anatomy of the pacifism that was rampant in English intellectual circles before and during World War II. The “unadmitted motive” of pacifism, Orwell wrote, was “hatred of Western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism.” Harold Pinter is no John Walker Lindh. You won’t find him joining up with the Taliban. But you will find him in sympathy with his spiritual colleague-in-rhetoric Susan Sontag, who explained that the assualt of September 11 was “not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’ but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions… . [W]hatever may be said of the perpetrators of [September 11’s] slaughter, they were not cowards.” Does she say, then, that they were murderous fanatics? Hardly. Sontag (like Pinter) is at once too ambivalent and too admiring for that: too ambivalent about the “world’s self-proclaimed superpower” (or “rogue state,” as Pinter put it) and too admiring of the insurrectionists. In this context, it is worth remembering Orwell’s observation about the “processes by which pacifists who have started out with an alleged horror of violence end up with a marked tendency to be fascinated by the successes and power of Nazism.”

David Pryce-Jones, co-author of Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith, explores the roots of Arab resentment in his essay entitled "Retreats into fantasy".

Merging at the emotional level as they do, Arab nationalist-socialists and Islamists generate a climate that encourages the spread of violence to everyone within reach, of all religious faiths and cultures including their own. In their origins, both ideologies purported to regain power, but in practice they have served to condemn Muslims to live outside the creativity of today’s world and so consummate loss of control over their own history. By virtue of its current political and economic pre-eminence, the United States is a symbol simultaneously of the success of people deemed to be unworthy, and of the standing failure of those held to be deserving; and so becomes the prime target of violence. To those afflicted by the haunting sense of their own limitations, the United States offers temptation and frustration in a blend which can only arouse confusion and anger. Once more, here is an incomplete analysis of reality, another failure of intellect, and it impedes all concerned from meeting on terms of equality, as though time had stood still from the day when those Egyptians had looked into Niebuhr’s surveying instrument and found that the landscape was the wrong way up.

John Derbyshire has written an excellent essay drawing on his experiences in the Far East entitled "Yearning to be liked".

One thing you find again and again when you look into anti-Americanism is the conviction that we are a fundamentally immoral nation. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard, when living in China, something along the following lines: “People in the West have no deep feelings. They marry and divorce just for fun.” I used to counter this, once I got used to it, by pointing out the true fact, perfectly well-known in China, that during the Mao Tse-tung despotism, when a person was branded “counter-revolutionary” and hustled off to a camp, that person’s spouse would frequently divorce him or her, sometimes from fear, sometimes on explicit orders from the local Party committee, sometimes in the well-founded conviction that the offender would never be seen again. I am not sure I could construct a logical proof that getting divorced for fun or convenience is morally superior to getting divorced because your Party Secretary tells you to, but I am pretty clear in my mind about which kind of society I would rather live in.

Americans need to understand that just because other people feel resentment toward America that doesn't mean that America has done something wrong to justify the resentment. The reasons that people hate us and resent us are due primarily to character flaws built into human nature that cause feelings of resentment, shame, and jealousy to well up so easily in those who feel less successful and less powerful. The tendency to blame others for one's lot in life is something deeply built into human nature. When societies and individuals feel like failures and feel ashamed at their lots in life there is no change in American foreign policy possible that will appease the resentments that they feel toward the most successful and most powerful. Attempts at appeasement will be interpreted as admissions of guilt that will justify an even more intense hatred.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 03 10:57 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 01 Friday
On Burying Muslim Terrorists In Pig Skins

On the Wall Street Journal's Best Of The Web column James Taranto links to this report that the Russians are burying the Chechen hostage siege terrorists in pig skins:

According to the Moskovski Komsomol newspaper, Russian security forces have decided to bury the terrorists from last's week's hostage siege wrapped in pig's skin. The aim is to deter potential Islamic terrorists from future attacks.

Shahidi (Jihad martyrs) believe by their nefarious acts that they ascend immediately to heaven. Using their beliefs against them, wrapping their corpses in 'unclean' pigskin prevents them from entering heaven for eternity.

James Taranto thinks this is a fine idea and points out that if real Muslims couldn't possibly be terrorists its not like the Russians are insulting Islam. (by contrast I don't think religions deserve special immunity from insults in the first place)

We're not sure how reliable this report is, but the idea of burying terrorists' remains in pigskin seems like a good one. Of course, some might object that insulting someone's religion--even a terrorist's--is an ugly thing to do. But are terrorists really Muslims? After all, Islam is a religion of peace, right?

Well, perhaps Taranto is unaware of the historical precedent but this is not a new idea. Who first used this technique? Well, to best of my knowledge it was US Army Colonel Alexander Rodgers who was fighting Muslim Moro rebels in the Philippines in 1911.

In 1911, as attempts were made to disarm the Mohammedans, cotta warfare began to flame anew and the juramentados redoubled their efforts to get to close grips with the American soldiers. Jolo, the Moro capital, in American hands, was almost under a state of siege. It was under constant attack on the part of individual fanatics. One Moro penetrated the city walls through a drain and killed seven soldiers in the streets of Jolo before he was dropped by volley fire of the troops.

For trading purposes, 100 Moros were allowed within the city wall at one time. They were disarmed and searched at the gates by squads of soldiers, and all guard posts mounted four sentries. With all of these precautions, juramentados succeeded in running their crazed course at dreadful, frequent intervals. It was Colonel Alexander Rodgers of the 6th Cavalry who accomplished by taking advantage of religious prejudice what the bayonets and Krags had been unable to accomplish. Rodgers inaugurated a system of burying all dead juramentados in a common grave with the carcasses of slaughtered pigs. The Mohammedan religion forbids contact with pork; and this relatively simple device resulted in the withdrawal of juramentados to sections not containing a Rodgers. Other officers took up the principle, adding new refinements to make it additionally unattractive to the Moros. In some sections the Moro juramentado was beheaded after death and the head sewn inside the carcass of a pig. And so the rite of running juramentado, at least semi-religious in character, ceased to be in Sulu. The last cases of this religious mania occurred in the early decades of the century. The juramentados were replaced by the amucks. .. who were simply homicidal maniacs with no religious significance attaching to their acts.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 01 11:33 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (66)
Fischer Of Germany: No Way For Turkey Into EU

I guess some on the Left are deciding that multiculturalism stops short of Islam:

Yesterday, in a press breakfast at the German Embassy, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer compared the likelihood of Turkey's admission into the EU with Mexico and Central America's admission into the United States. That sounds to us like a firm and permanent veto. When a reporter suggested that EU consideration of Turkey would be helpful to the United States, the admirably honest and colorful foreign minister suggested that, while friends do many things for each other, getting married to a third party because a friend requests it is not one of them.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 01 06:02 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 October 31 Thursday
Less Democratic Malaysia Cracks Down On Islamists

Less democratic and less free Malaysia, ruled by a guy who is dedicated a secular government, cracks down on Islamists to a much greater extent than does more democratic Indonesia:

Radicals have been allowed too much freedom by President Megawati Sukarnoputri, whose "weak government" and tolerance of extreme Islam, he implies, can be held responsible for the Bali attack. Dr Mahathir artfully lists a string of reasons for his action against Islamists, though interestingly there is no mention of the most obvious motivation of all - that religious parties are the biggest threat to him and his multi-racial coalition.

"These people who are giving a bad name to Islam are people who deviate from the true teachings of Islam, and people are getting a little bit fed up with it," he said.

There might be a lesson there for those who think democracy can be a cure-all for what ails countries that are Islamic.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 31 07:30 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Barry Rubin: The Real Roots of Arab Anti-Americanism

Writing in the November/December 2002 issue of Foreign Affairs Barry Rubin (author of The Tragedy of the Middle East and Anti-American Terrorism and the Middle East) argues that Arab anti-Americanism has been created by Arab rulers in order to deflect attention away from their own domestic failures.

Although anti-Americanism is genuinely widespread among Arab governments and peoples, however, there is something seriously misleading in this account. Arab and Muslim hatred of the United States is not just, or even mainly, a response to actual U.S. policies -- policies that, if anything, have been remarkably pro-Arab and pro-Muslim over the years. Rather, such animus is largely the product of self-interested manipulation by various groups within Arab society, groups that use anti-Americanism as a foil to distract public attention from other, far more serious problems within those societies.

This distinction should have a profound impact on American policymakers. If Arab anti-Americanism turns out to be grounded in domestic maneuvering rather than American misdeeds, neither launching a public relations campaign nor changing Washington's policies will affect it. In fact, if the United States tries to prove to the Arab world that its intentions are nonthreatening, it could end up making matters even worse. New American attempts at appeasement would only show radicals in the Middle East that their anti-American strategy has succeeded and is the best way to win concessions from the world's sole superpower.

In a lengthy article Rubin proceeds to review decades of US policies toward various Arab governments and movements. While he builds a good case for his argument one still is left wondering exactly why the leaders of Arab countries were so successful in building anti-American sentiment and why they chose to encourage these sentiments in the first place. I think Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations argument is still the correct explanation. When Rubin argues:

There are, of course, legitimate Arab and Muslim grievances against the United States. But put into accurate perspective -- and compared to the legitimate anti-American complaints of people in other regions, not to mention American grievances with Arab states -- the level of violence or hatred such grievances provoke in the Middle East seems grossly disproportionate. In fact, Arabs and Muslims have suffered far less from U.S. policies than many other groups or peoples. Yet virtually none of these other peoples evinces anything like the level of anti-American sentiment that exists in the Middle East or commits acts of terrorism against the United States.

it begs the question: with failed regimes all over the world what is it about Muslim and especially Arab Muslim regimes that motivate them far more than the elites of other nations to blame America for their failures? Is there something in their culture and religion that leads them to direct their resentments and blame outward? Rubin does eventually bring up the idea of anti-Americanism as being a response to globalization and Westernization. But he doesn't expand on either of these themes. However, to his credit he does note that concessions and attempts at appeasement by the US just elicit more contempt from the Arabs. In my view their contempt is the emotion which our policies should be designed to suppress most of all.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 31 02:09 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 29 Tuesday
David Warren: Islamist Changes To Lahore

David Warren describes how the spread of a more politicised and angry Islam has changed Lahore Pakistan since he lived there as a child.

Whereas the Lahore of the last few years -- I have seen and felt this at first hand -- is a different place, especially for Christians. They feel, and are made to feel, "the pinch" as one would say in Lahori English. Pakistani Christians I spoke with were haunted by fear of mobs, by fear of terror strikes against their homes or churches, by fear of sudden arrest on trumped-up charges of "blasphemy against Islam", from some anonymous neighbour bearing a grudge. I was myself stopped in the street several times, and asked rudely intrusive questions by official-looking persons who would not, in turn, identify themselves. This was once inconceivable.

And yet in another part of the city, within the ancient city walls, I felt back in the Lahore of my childhood, a place where strangers are not interrogated, where, for instance, women may shop without male "minders" and without covering themselves from head to toe in the subtropical heat. A place where the real traditions of the city were still alive, its native "atmosphere", and one felt free and secure in this.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 29 08:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Amir Taheri on Electoral democracy in Muslim world

Amir Taheri argues that ruling elites in the Muslim countries borrow only the form of Western political ideas and manage to discredit any Western political idea that they adopt:

Of the 53 Muslim states, 50 have held some form of elections in the past 10 years. A generation ago, fewer than a dozen held any elections. On the surface, therefore, elections have become the norm in the Muslim world. But the problem is that in most cases elections are held only to confirm the status of those in power, and to offer a blank check for their policies.

In only four Muslim countries have the elections of the past decade resulted in changes of government. And even then, the changes took place within a narrow ruling elite.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 29 11:24 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 26 Saturday
Indonesian Elite Divided On Islamic Terrorism

Herbert London of the Hudson Institute has argued that Indonesia Is a Model Ally in the War on Terrorism. If Indonesia is a model ally then we are in trouble:

But other Indonesian officials, like parliamentary speaker Amien Rais and Vice President Hamzah Haz, say it is still too early to blame the blast on either Al-Qaeda or any radical Indonesian group.

Haz has been telling Indonesians he thinks outside powers were involved. And his deputies have suggested publicly that U.S. intelligence agents had both the ability and the motive to carry out such an attack.

I don't think the Republika was referring to foreign intelligence operatives of Islamic nations:

The Muslim-oriented Republika daily cautioned against hastily pointing the finger at Muslim militants.

"Possibility is not foreclosed that the explosion was a part of the work of foreign intelligence operatives who want to provide proof to justify their accusations" that Indonesia is a haven for terrorists, it said.

Is this the kind of talk one woule expect to hear coming from a model ally?

Islamic militant organizations enjoy the sympathy of powerful army generals, who would have to be brought into line for a counterterrorism policy to work. One former military intelligence chief, A.C. Manullang, caused a stir by telling reporters on Oct. 14 that the U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies were responsible for both the attack on the World Trade Center and the Bali bombing (he could not be reached for comment). Rivalry between military factions in Indonesia is intense, with some favoring cooperation with the U.S. and others opposed. "There are so many armies now in Indonesia," says Amin Rianom, a senior Indonesian security official, referring to the divisions.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 26 12:07 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 23 Wednesday
Iraqi Engineers Still Train In US

There is something wrong with this picture:

Even after the Gulf War, many Iraqi students continued to attend US universities to study nuclear physics and engineering. Dr. Kay, the former weapons inspector, discovered this during a 1993 visit to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In his lecture to a roomful of nuclear-engineering graduate students, he was surprised to find nearly a dozen young Iraqis.

"This was after the Gulf War – and they were here quite legally," he says. "I was talking about what we had learned about Iraq. They asked very good questions. Most of them intended to go back home."

By Randall Parker    2002 October 23 11:32 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 22 Tuesday
Mark Steyn Thinks US Media Underplaying Bali Bombing

Since I do not personally watch TV news I am not in a position to judge Mark Steyn's claim that the US media is paying too little attention to the Bali bombing. But he's not the only person who is making this claim and I"m inclined to believe it. This is very unfortunate. It is of course a great injustice and a tragic loss of life. In the bigger picture the Bali bombing is incredibly important because it ought to make clear to anyone who doesn't yet believe it that the Islamists hate all of Western Civilization:

No problem. They are all infidels. That's the meaning of the Bali bomb: It doesn't matter whether you're a Wall Street trader or a Scandinavian stoner, they hate you all. But the American media seem to operate on a similar principle: They're all foreigners, so who cares? Australia is one of this country's few real friends in the world. We're not just fellow infidels, but brothers on a field of battle that stretches from Manhattan to Bali. If the American media don't understand that, then the American president needs to remind them.

Someone might be sitting in Norway or Portugal or Quebec thinking "but they have no reason to hate me". Wrong. You aren't a Muslim. You are not ruled by Muslims. You are part of Western Civilization. Western Civilization (and not just its most powerful country) in its entirety is an obstacle to the goals of the Islamists. Its success is an insult to what they see as God's rightful order for the world (Dar Al Islam). They despise and hate you and most importantly they feel contempt for you. They can not be appeased. They are not interested in your own personal benevolent views of your fellow humans. They hate you.

Update: On the importance of contempt as a defining emotion of Islamist attitudes toward the West see this previous post about Jeffrey Goldberg's experiences in Muslim countries. Be sure to click thru and read his Jihad U essay if you haven't already read it.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 22 11:21 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 20 Sunday
Mark Steyn Reflects On Bali: We Are All Infidels

Mark Steyn says we can easily understand the Islamists if we just take them at their word:

The French were supportive for about ten minutes after 11 September, but for most of the last year have been famously and publicly non-supportive: throughout the spring, their foreign minister, M. Védrine, was deploring American ‘simplisme’ on a daily basis. The French veto is still Saddam’s best shot at torpedoing any meaningful UN action on Iraq. If you were to pick only one Western nation not to blow up the oil tankers of, the French would be it.

But they got blown up anyway. And afterwards a spokesman for the Islamic Army of Aden said, ‘We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels.’

No problem. They are all infidels.

Unlike Mr Fisk, I don’t have decades of expertise in the finer points of Islamic culture, so when people make certain statements and their acts conform to those statements I tend to take them at their word. As Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, neatly put it, ‘We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.’ The first choice of Islamists is to kill Americans and Jews, or best of all an American Jew — like Daniel Pearl, the late Wall Street Journal reporter. Failing that, they’re happy to kill Australians, Britons, Canadians, Swedes, Germans, as they did in Bali. We are all infidels.

There are Leftist apologists in the West who insist upon believing that the Islamists do not really mean what they say. The apologists argue that Islamists are angry over legitimate grievances and that if we would just try harder to redress their grievances then the appeal of radical Islam would recede and we would have peace with the Muslim countries. This interpretation is in a sense condescending to the Muslims because it stuffs them into a Western Leftist intellectual category that ignores their own professed beliefs and motives. Western standards of fairness and justice (albeit of a Leftist variety) are applied to the Muslims to try to puzzle out exactly why they might be mad. The Leftists impress their own reasons for anger at their own societies onto their image of Muslims. The Leftists advance these arguments so much that some of the more secular Muslims latch on and parrot them back again. But our hardest core enemies among the Muslims describe their anger and contempt using very different language. It is language we need to listen to even as we reject their values.

We can understand the radical Islamists but only if we are willing to take a less rosy view of humanity and of politics. Are the Islamists simply reacting to poverty and oppression in anger and frustration? That's a nice explanation in many ways. Just lift them out of poverty, support democracy in their countries, and our fight with them would be over. The description of the problem suggests a solution and the solution is one that can be solved by lots of money and legions of workers willing to help in political and economic development. In this view all people would be really nice and tolerant if only they were not themselves oppressed. This dangerously naive belief is a myth whose delusive influence on our thinking we can no longer afford. We can not effectively fight our enemies unless we are willing to admit that we differ with them on questions of basic values.

Why don't more people admit there is a clash of values between civilizations ala Samuel P. Huntington? Because that admissions requires one to accept a more bleak and pessimistic view of human nature. The acceptance of a pessimistic view results in one seeing the world as a much more dangerous place and the world's problems as much less tractable. It means giving up on dreams of utopia in this life. It is therefore not surprising that many resist believing the reasons why our enemies oppose us.

The acceptance a more pessimistic outlook is not our only need if we are to understand the nature of our enemies. Humility is also needed. We need to accept that we can't always reason with those who oppose us in order to find common ground and a mutually acceptable solution. We need to accept that we can't solve the problems of the world and can't make everyone happy and peaceful. We need to accept that we haven't created a civilization with universal appeal.

Just because our values are not universally held is not a reason to think any less of them. Also, a more realistic view does not require that we walk around feeling perpetual gloom. If we can accept the depth of the differences that divide us from our enemies we will be more intellectually equipped to reduce the size of the threat that our enemies pose to us. If an increasing number of Westerners develop a more realistic view of the nature of our enemies that would be reason for optimism for our ability to meet the threats we face.

What are the prospects for a more realistic view of our enemies? With each new terrorist attack launched at different locations around the globe and with more Westerners lying dead and injured all the Western peoples are receiving painful and tragic reminders of how much they share in common and how much sets them apart from their enemies. One of the consequences of terrorist attacks directed at all Westerners is going to be an increased awareness by Westerners that they share a common civilization. The recognition the Islamists have of the West as a distinct culture is one which the Islamists are, perversely, teaching to the West. It is possible (though, unfortunately, by no means certain) that the Islamists may end up triggering a revival in the minds of Westerners of an appreciation of the unique and valuable elements of Western culture. If this happens then the Western peoples will finally become willing to think clearly about their enemies and to take the steps necessary to defend Western Civilization from them. I am sufficiently optimistic about this to predict that future historians will come to see the Bali attack as a turning point in Western Civilization.

On why Islamic contempt can not be appeased see my previous post on Jeffrey Golderg's experiences in the Middle East.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 20 01:32 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Stanley Kurtz on Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington

Recently in my access logs I noticed a lot of referrals from a blogger (Vinod) I hadn't heard of before and went to look at his blog. Lucky that, because Vinod has recently posted about a very interesting Stanley Kurtz article The Future Of History comparing the historical interpretations of Francis Fukuyama and Samuel P. Huntington. The Kurtz article came out in the June 2002 issue of Policy Review. Francis Fukuyama wrote a rather famous and much debated book published in 1992 called The End of History and the Last Man. Samuel P. Huntington wrote The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order published in 1996. Kurtz's essay compares and contrasts the Fukuyama and Huntington interpretations and adds some views of his own.

From the Kurtz article The Future Of History:

In the end, the most fundamental issue separating Fukuyama and Huntington receives only very passing treatment from either thinker. Ultimately, it is impossible to adjudicate the Fukuyama-Huntington debate without a well-grounded theory of modernization. In the absence of a clear conception of how, why, and when modernization blends, or fails to blend, with particular social forms, there is simply no basis for making decisions about the relative long-term prescience of either man. And while both Huntington and Fukuyama touch on these underlying social-structural questions, neither explores them in anything like systematic fashion.

As noted, Huntington does put forward a very nice account of the social roots of Islamic fundamentalism. Yet that account only begs the question of the long-term effects of modernization. Huntington rightly notes that the tendency of modernization to break traditional social bonds has actually stimulated an identity-preserving return to Islam. Yet if the forces of modernization continue to disrupt the older social solidarities, a long-term cultural shift toward individualism is entirely conceivable, and that is a possibility Huntington does not entertain. In an effort to distinguish between modernization and Westernization, Huntington rightly points out that the West’s cultural individualism predates modernity and cannot be treated as entirely synonymous with it. Yet that does not preclude the possibility that the long-term effect of technological and economic modernization might be to dissolve traditional social forms and thereby generate exactly the sort of cultural individualism long familiar to us in the West.

This is precisely Fukuyama’s claim, yet he does not substantiate it so much as assume it. Fukuyama does show how urbanization and bureaucratization served to undercut traditional social ties in the West, thereby leading to an individualist world of capitalism and democracy. Unfortunately, he simply presumes that this pattern will hold for the non-Western world. That is too simple.

The important question that needs to be answered with some precision is this: What exactly is meant by "traditional social bonds"? The answer at least in part is extended family bonds of loyalty and obligation that are built via marriage between already related families. The various regions of the world differ enormously in the rate at which people marry close relatives (eg marrying cousins) and, in Kurtz's view, the high amount of consanguinity in most Muslim countries goes a long way to explain their failure to modernize and their hostility toward the West. If you haven't already done so go to this post and read the Stanley Kurtz articles and other links on consanguinity. If Kurtz's argument is correct (and I believe it is) then attempts to change a defeated and militarily occupied Iraq or other Middle Eastern countries into something resembling secular Western liberal democracies are bound to take decades at best. The challenge is not just to convert the political culture. It will not be possible to develop effective civil institutions that would exist independent both governmental and religious institutions as long as extended families play such central roles in the lives of Muslims.

The greatest question perhaps may be whether modernization must inevitably cause a culture to place greater emphasis on individualism and individual rights. A popular interpretation of Western history is that industrialization created the conditions that led the rise of individualism. This may be a false reading of history. The concept of individual human rights predates industrialization and modernization in Western Civilization by many centuries. Today while Muslim societies possess far more technology than Americans of two centuries ago those Muslim societies of today place less emphasis on human rights than American culture then. In his article on the Crusades John Derbyshire argues that the Western concept of individual rights was already beginning to show up in the Middle Ages:

Above and beyond this, if we are to take sides on the Crusades after all these centuries, we should acknowledge that, for all their many crimes, the Crusaders were our spiritual kin. I do not mean only in religion, though that of course is not a negligible connection: I mean in their understanding of society, and of the individual’s place in it. Time and again, when you read the histories of this period, you are struck by sentences like these, which I have taken more or less at random from Sir Steven Runciman’s History of the Crusades: “[Queen Melisande’s] action was regarded as perfectly constitutional and was endorsed by the council.” “Trial by peers was an essential feature of Frankish custom.” “The King ranked with his tenant-in-chief as primus inter pares, their president but not their master.”

If we look behind the cruelty, treachery, and folly, and try to divine what the Crusaders actually said and thought, we see, dimly but unmistakably, the early flickering light of the modern West, with its ideals of liberty, justice, and individual worth.

If the development of a rights-based society and individualism started tat far back then the development unfolded very slowly. We in the West are now in conflict with another civilization which, while it has been in contact with Western Civilization for many centuries, has failed to go through this development. Are we to believe that it can race thru stages of development that Western Civilization spent centuries going thru?

You can find the original Huntington Foreign Affairs article that he later expanded into the book here or here.

Chapter 12 of the Huntington Clash of Civilizations book can be found here. The most discussed and disputed Huntington argument is about conflicts between civilizations. However, another argument Huntington makes is about the possibility of decline and decay within Western Civilization:

A more immediate and dangerous challenge exists in the United States. Historically American national identity has been defined culturally by the heritage of Western civilization and politically by the principles of the American Creed on which Americans overwhelmingly agree: liberty, democracy, individualism, equality before the law, constitutionalism, private property. In the late twentieth century both components of American identity have come under concentrated and sustained onslaught from a small but influential number of intellectuals and publicists. In the name of multiculturalism they have attacked the identification of the United States with Western civilization, denied the existence of a common American culture, and promoted racial, ethnic, and other subnational cultural identities and groupings. They have denounced, in the words of one of their reports, the "systematic bias toward European culture and its derivatives" in education and "the dominance of the European-American monocultural perspective." The multiculturalists are, as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., said, "very often ethnocentric separatists who see little in the Western heritage other than Western crimes." Their "mood is one of divesting Americans of the sinful European inheritance and seeking redemptive infusions from non-Western cultures."7

The multicultural trend was also manifested in a variety of legislation that followed the civil rights acts of the 1960s, and in the 1990s the Clinton administration made the encouragement of diversity one of its major goals. The contrast with the past is striking. The Founding Fathers saw diversity as a reality and as a problem: hence the national motto, e pluribus unum, chosen by a committee of the Continental Congress consisting of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Later political leaders who also were fearful of the dangers of racial, sectional, ethnic, economic, and cultural diversity (which, indeed, produced the largest war of the century between 1815 and 1914), responded to the call of "bring us together," and made the promotion of national unity their central responsibility. "The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing as a nation at all," warned Theodore Roosevelt, "would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities."8 In the 1990s, however, the leaders of the United States have not only permitted that but assiduously promoted the diversity rather than the unity of the people they govern.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 20 01:45 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 October 18 Friday
Pessimists on Muslim Democracy

Stanley Kurtz, Martin Kramer, and Adam Garfinkle all share my pessimism about the prospects for democracy in Arab and other Muslim countries. We start with Stanley Kurtz on the threat of greater radicalization in Muslim countries:

Clearly, the (necessary) attack on Saddam has the potential to set off a serious reaction in the Muslim world. Yet the real lesson of the Bali blast and the Pakistani election may be what they say about the aftermath of victory in Iraq. Proponents of democratization in the Muslim world may be right (within limits) to say that a bit of de-stabilization may be just what we need right now in the Muslim world. It's true that the status quo in the Middle East is unproductive and due for a change. But it may simply be wishful thinking to believe that, after all the Middle East's cards have been thrown into the air, they will fall down to earth in good democratic order.

If even Indonesia, home of the largest and most moderate democracy movement in the Islamic world, can be radicalized and thrown into economic chaos by the war (and by its own internal divisions), what will happen in a conquered Iraq? And the Pakistani's remind us that voters can use the ballot box to kill democracy by installing an Islamist dictatorship. Most disturbing, even wealth and middle-class status are no guarantee of immunity against Islamism's appeal.

Stanley Kurtz, in turn, advises a trip to Martin Kramer's blog:

Frankly, my eyes glaze over when I hear Condoleezza Rice, James Woolsey, and Tom Friedman wax eloquent on the coming "march of democracy" in the Arab world. (Woolsey to James Fallows in the current issue of The Atlantic: "This could be a golden opportunity to begin to change the face of the Arab world. Just as what we did in Germany changed the face of Central and Eastern Europe, here we have got a golden chance.") As a survivor of the Middle East peace process, which, we were told, would transform Israel, "Palestine," and Jordan into a Benelux, I smell snake oil. Of all the rationales for war, this one is the least substantial and the most ideological, and those who make it cast doubt on whether they fully understand the regional context in which an Iraq war might be fought.

Aside: Perhaps I overestimate Rice's ability but I am guessing she must realize that the odds of successfully installing a government in Iraq that will sustain an even modestly liberal democracy in the long term are slim. Whether or not Rice believes her rhetoric there certainly are within the ranks of the war camp many people who sound sincere when they claim that the US can transform the Middle Eastern regimes into secular democracies that respect the rights of individuals and that allow full freedom of speech and press. I think some of these people are naive ideologues.

Kramer has other excellent posts on his blog that are germane to the whole Islam and democracy debate. Click thru to his blog if you want to read more.

Martin Kramer links to a speech he gave at the 2002 Weinberg Founders Conference where he argues that Arab society does not embrace the beliefs that are necessary prerequisites for a successful liberal democracy:

The most basic building blocks are not elections, or political parties, or a free press. You can have elections in countries that are not free—the Arab world has them all the time. These countries have voting; they just don't have counting. Or let's just say they have selective counting, which produces those famous 99-percent votes in favor of the ruler. As for political parties, the Arab world also has them—mostly in the form of ruling parties. There are lots of those. And thanks to the proliferation of technologies, the press has never been freer in the Arab world—freer to disseminate hatred, lies, and incitement. These are not the building blocks of democracy.

The basic building blocks are attitudes—above all, a tolerance of political differences, indeed even a celebration of political differences, debated openly and decided freely.

Arab society lacks that tolerance. It is very sharing of many things—but not of political power. That power is like the honor of one's women: it cannot be compromised without being lost. And in the Arab world, historically, the loss of power has meant the loss of everything: honor, possessions. home, life itself. I do not claim here that the Arab world is imprisoned by Islam, as some might argue. I do claim that it is burdened by its history—history transmuted into memory, and preserved as a mindset. And I would summarize the mindset in a simple axiom: rule or die.

Hence, the dearth of what is called civil society. Civil society is that panoply of associations that are greater than individual, family, clan, and tribe. These associations organize people around shared ideas and interests; democratic societies are replete with thousands upon thousands of such associations, from the PTA to the Pac.

Martin Kramer, in turn, links to an excerpt of an article written by Adam Garfinkle in the Fall 2002 issue of the National Interest on the lack of liberal democratic beliefs in Arabic countries:

Not only are liberal democratic attitudes toward pluralism, majority rule and equality before the law mostly absent from the Arab world, that world counterposes entrenched attitudes that are their antitheses: concepts of monadic political authority, consensus forms of decision-making and natural social hierarchy. We know that attitudes acquired and reinforced over centuries maintain a grip on the patterns of any group’s social relations, for better or for worse, even long after the conditions that spawned them have disappeared; so it seems indeed a reach too far to expect Arab societies to become liberal democracies anytime soon--certainly not soon enough to supply us with help for the problem of apocalyptic terrorism. And though we certainly wish them well, there is little that even the best efforts of the National Endowment for Democracy, of the new White House Office of Global Communications, of Charlotte Beers marketing Uncle Sam as a brand name from the State Department, and of U.S. government-sponsored Radio Sawa, pumping out news in Arabic along with Jennifer Lopez and Lionel Ritchie music, can do about it.

These efforts, after all, are unlikely to change the contemporary Arab view of liberal democracy as an alien Western idea at a time when Arab societies are struggling to cope with Western-wrought modernity. They cannot erase the fact that most Arab societies tried but failed during the late 19th and 20th centuries to adopt Western ways to achieve wealth, power and respect, or erase the legacy of simultaneous envy and resentment created by that failure (explaining why many Arab youths who in the morning declare their enmity for the West in the afternoon express a desire to emigrate there).

For information about how consanguineous unions in marriage are a major obstacle to the development of secular liberal democracy in Arab and other Muslim countries see the links here to essays by Stanley Kurtz and the per country consanguinity data.

I think proposals for a post-war federalized democracy in Iraq have to be considered in light of a very basic fact: Even an ethnically homogeneous Sunni Arab subset of Iraq would be unlikely to sustain support for an even semi-liberal democracy. Add to that the strains of mistrust that would be inherent in a federal system based on 3 main ethnic regions (or even more) and the odds of long term success for building a better post-war Iraq drop considerably from an already low starting point. But breaking up Iraq brings with it a totally different set of problems. I don't pretend to have answers. I just think people should be aware of the magnitude of the problem we will face when trying to politically transform Iraq.

Update: See two Stanley Kurtz articles from February 2002 that expand on his views about the difficulty of creating stable liberal democracies in the Middle East. Kinship networks have survived urbanisation in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.

But unlike the urban masses of Europe, the rural migrants powering the Middle East's urban population explosion have brought their traditional kinship networks with them. Those networks offer support to the common man where weak Middle Eastern governments cannot — while also making it impossible for a modern political and economic system to take root. Family connections get you food when neither government nor the economy can provide it. But the corruption fueled by the family ethos sabotages the government's distribution plans, undercuts the government's legitimacy, and blocks the path to societal liberalization.

Lack of success in establishing democracy in the Middle East will force continued US presence and increase in resentment toward the US.

Will we see model governments installed in Muslim lands, the growth of civil society, and eventual American withdrawal after the establishment of democratic bastions in the Middle East? Or will we, like the Israelis, be forced to deal with a series of anti-American "intifadahs?" Somewhere between those two scenarios is where the era of reluctant imperialism will play out.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 18 12:40 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 October 16 Wednesday
Clive James on Australian Reaction To Bali

Clive James argues that the fundamentalists are not motivated by an accurate knowledge of the history of conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims but rather by the goals of their own faith:

But surely the reverse is true: they are students of the opposite of history, which is theocratic fanaticism. Especially, they are dedicated to knowing as little as possible about the history of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. A typical terrorist expert on the subject believes that Hitler had the right idea, that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a true story, and that the obliteration of the state of Israel is a religious requirement. In furthering that end, the sufferings of the Palestinians are instrumental, and thus better exacerbated than diminished. To the extent that they are concerned with the matter at all, the terrorists epitomise the extremist pressure that had been so sadly effective in ensuring the continued efforts of the Arab states to persuade the Palestinians against accepting any settlement, no matter how good, that recognises Israel's right to exist. But one is free to doubt by now - forced to doubt by now - that Palestine is the main concern.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 16 03:11 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 07 Monday
Jeffrey Goldberg on Islamic contempt and anger

Slate is into their third week of a debate between various of their writers on whether to attack Iraq. I think the debate starts here. The second week of the debate starts here.

The most knowledgeable participant in the Slate debate is Jeffrey Goldberg. To get a sense of his knowledge of the region (and for a very enlightening read) read his excellent essay Inside Jihad U. : The Education of a Holy Warrior originally published in the NY Times Magazine on June 25, 2000. You can also find it here on the Indian Embassy web site. Goldberg's account of his visit to Egypt is educational as well (note: PDF format).

Goldberg's judgement below about the nature of Muslim anger and contempt toward America is one I fully share. From Jeffrey Goldberg's Oct 7, 2002 post:

I left Pakistan and Afghanistan believing that America had done nothing to alienate the Taliban or these madrasah boys: Their hate was independent of American action. In fact, these fundamentalists owed the United States their thanks: It was the United States that supported them during the fight against the Soviets; the food many of them ate came to them courtesy of USAID, and many of the men I met who spoke English learned their English from American teachers, funded by American taxpayers. Their hatred of America, I realized, was rooted in their culture, in the theology of Islamic supremacy, in their jealousy and rage at American success.

I also noticed another emotion present in these men: contempt. They were contemptuous of America and Americans; they found us weak and unmanly, they found our culture corrupt and perverted, and I don't have to tell you what they thought of American women.

It was after a couple of months in Pakistan and Afghanistan that I began to realize that these forces of Islamic fundamentalism had already declared war on us; that there was nothing left for us to do but fight them; and that by not fighting them, we were convincing them we were without virtue, strength, or courage.

Robert Wright took a different message away from my reporting: The best thing to do would be to leave these people alone and hope they go away. But what he failed to understand is that we provoked them by not provoking them.

Of course I recognize that an invasion of Iraq will cause some people to hate us more than they already do, but I also recognize that their hatred of America will not dissipate—and that their contempt may intensify—if we do not take strong action against Iraq.

Update: In an interview that Goldberg made about his trip to Egypt he remarked on Egyptian newspaper Holocaust denial:

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: I'm entirely comfortable saying that if Hosni Mubarak did not want Holocaust denial to run in government newspapers or any newspapers in Egypt, he could make sure that Holocaust denial wouldn't run in the newspapers! So then you have to ask the question: why is it being allowed to run? They do it to keep their attention away from failing education system and a failing infrastructure. If the people are angry at Israel, they'll have less time to be angry about the conditions of their own lives.

Update: Also see my other posts on Jeffrey Goldberg's writings: Jeffrey Goldberg on Hezbollah, Jeffrey Goldberg on the Palestinians And Israeli Settlers, and Jeffrey Goldberg On Terrorism and Intelligence Work.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 07 01:33 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 September 28 Saturday
Roger Scruton book The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat

Roger Scruton has just written a book entitled The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat. The National Review excerpted it in 4 articles and I've collected together the URLs for articles with short excerpts from each article. If you like the excerpts do go read the complete articles. It was very difficult to choose what to excerpt as he makes many excellent points.

Technological advances in transportation and communications are bringing incompatible cultures into direct contact with each other. Many fundamental beliefs that lie at the base of Western society are not shared in all parts of the world. Many institutions of Western society do not produce the same forms of government (eg democracy produces tyranny in some countries) that it produces in the West. Scruton examines the gap between Western and other beliefs and their ramifications in the first excerpt The West and the Rest:

It is thanks to Western prosperity, Western legal systems, Western forms of banking, and Western communications that human initiatives now reach so easily across frontiers to affect the lives and aspirations of people all over the globe. However, Western civilization depends on an idea of citizenship that is not global at all, but rooted in territorial jurisdiction and national loyalty. By contrast, Islam, which has been until recently remote from the Western world and without the ability to project its message, is founded on an ideal of godliness which is entirely global in its significance, and which regards territorial jurisdiction and national loyalty as compromises with no intrinsic legitimacy of their own. Although there have been attempts to manufacture nationalisms both appropriate to the Islamic temperament and conducive to a legitimate political order, they have fragmented under the impact of sectarian or tribal allegiances, usually giving way to military dictatorship or one-man, one-family, or one-party tyranny. Islam itself remains, in the hearts of those who live under these tyrannies, a permanent call to a higher life, and a reminder that power and corruption will rule in this world until the reign established by the Prophet is restored.

Scruton sees as essential for the development of the West the two millennia development of the concept of a corporate person. Make note that his references to a personal state are to a type of state that is a corporate person (no he does not mean a state that is ruled by a single human; yes this terminological choice is bound to cause misunderstandings). He sees this concept as essential in understanding why political entities of the West differ from the states that are not properly speaking Nation States in his second excerpt The Personal State:

The very same political process that turns subjects into citizens turns the state into a collective expression of its citizens' way of life. When we speak of the United States as negotiating a treaty, as building up its army, as declaring war on terrorism, we are not speaking metaphorically. These things are the genuine actions of a corporate person, in which all U.S. citizens are to some extent implicated, but which are the actions of no individual. When we speak in the same terms of Iraq or North Korea, however, we are speaking obliquely. There is no such entity as Iraq, only a legal fiction erected by the United Nations for the purpose of dealing with whichever individual, clique, or faction is for the moment holding the people of that country hostage. The form of corporate agency established by Western political systems has not been established elsewhere in the world. The states of the non-Western world are impersonal states, machines in their rulers' hands. They make no decisions, take no responsibility, and can be neither praised nor blamed, but exist merely as shields and weapons in the hands of those whose advantages they secure. This was made explicit under the Leninist system of communist government, which was founded on the theory of "parallel structures." Every office of the Soviet state was shadowed by an office of the "vanguard Party," which exercised all the power but was wholly unaccountable for doing so.

The third excerpt supports a view that I fully subscribe to: properly drawn and enforced borders allow people of similar culture to create political systems that serve their ideals and desires in governance. But the trend is toward greater movement and mixing of incompatible cultures and toward the title of this excerpt: Transnational Government

The political and economic advantages that lead people to seek asylum in the West are the result of territorial jurisdiction. Yet territorial jurisdictions can survive only if borders are controlled. Transnational legislation, acting together with the culture of repudiation, is therefore rapidly undermining the conditions that make Western freedoms durable. The effect of this on the politics of France and Holland is now evident to everyone. And when we find among the "asylum seekers" the vast majority of those Islamist cells that have grown up in London, Paris, and Hamburg, we begin to recognize just how much the political culture of the West is bent on a path of self-destruction.

He explores further in the fourth excerpt the rise of transnational institutions that lack the qualities that allow nation-states to have the legitimacy and efficacy that a corporate person possesses in the essay entitled The New Imperium

Nevertheless, despite the fact that virtually nobody explicitly wants it, a process is under way that will effectively extinguish the national democracies of Europe and erect in their place a European superstate, nominally a democracy but with largely unaccountable legislative powers, hidden in bureaucratic institutions with their own long-term agendas. Already most laws passed by the United Kingdom Parliament are imposed by diktaat from the Brussells bureaucracy, and the few areas of legislative competence that remain are being steadily eroded by revisions to the Treaty of Rome. Scotland and Wales are still present on the official maps of Europe. But the nation-state that did most to create the modern world — namely England — has already been replaced by "regions" that have no historical meaning and defy all the local loyalties to which English patriotism responds.

Update: Roger Kimball has written an excellent review in The New Criterion.

The contrast with Islam is striking. Following the atrocities of September 11, certain well-meaning persons attempted to console us with the assurance that “Islam” means “peace.” In fact, as Scruton reminds us, Islam means “submission,” specifically submission to the will of Allah. “The muslim,” consequently, “is the one who has surrendered, submitted, and so obtained security.” Of course, plenty of Muslims denounced the terrorist acts of al Qaeda. Still Scruton is right that “Islamism”—Islam embraced as an all-encompassing ideology—is “not an accidental product of the crisis that Islam is currently undergoing, and the fundamental tenets of the faith must be borne in mind by those who wish to understand the terrorist movements.” Wherever Islamists have gained power—Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan—the result is “not the reign of peace and prosperity promised by the Prophet, but murder and persecution on a scale matched in our time only by the Nazis and the Communists.” In the West, the church took its place as a secular institution, subordinated, in temporal matters, to temporal authorities. Islam lacks that institutional elasticity. The ulama (“those with knowledge”) have their authority directly from God: no church or holy orders, no official compact with the state mediate their supposed revelation. Islam is in this sense a totalitarian ideology: it seeks to embrace and subordinate to its dictates the totality of life. “Like the Communist Party in its Leninist construction,” Scruton writes, “Islam aims to control the state without being a subject of the state.”

By Randall Parker    2002 September 28 12:01 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 September 22 Sunday
Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development

Stanley Kurtz (one very sharp guy) wrote a couple of great essays in January 2002 about the importance of kinship ties in understanding the interactions between religious beliefs, culture, and the nature of political regimes in the Middle East. A lot of people have managed to write countless articles and even countless books on the Middle East while missing the important way in which family structure shapes Middle Eastern governments, religious views, and attitudes toward the West. Yet Kurtz has finally come along and put his finger on a key root cause of the differences between the West and Arab Muslim countries.

In Kurtz's first essay "Veil of Fears: Why they veil; why we should leave it alone" he describes the way the kinship system reinforces and perpetuates itself:

In the modern Middle East, networks of kin are still the foundation of wealth, security, and personal happiness. That, in a sense, is the problem. As we've seen in Afghanistan, loyalty to kin and tribe cuts against the authority of the state. And the corrupt dictatorships that rule much of the Muslim Middle East often function themselves more like self-interested kin groups than as rulers who take the interests of the nation as a whole as their own. That, in turn, gives the populace little reason to turn from the proven support of kin and tribe, and trust instead in the state.

People, including rulers, have more loyalty to family than to state. When rulers want more people to serve them they just reach further out into their kinship system (eg the Tirkritis are that extended effectively tribal group that Saddam Hussein uses in the next outer layer beyond immediate family).

But the centrality of men to the Muslim kinship system sets up a problem. The women who marry into a lineage pose a serious threat to the unity of the band of brothers. If a husband's tie to his wife should become more important than his solidarity with his brothers, the couple might take their share of the property and leave the larger group, thus weakening the strength of the lineage.

There is a solution to this problem, however — a solution that marks out the kinship system of the Muslim Middle East as unique in the world. In the Middle East, the preferred form of marriage is between a man and his cousin (his father's brother's daughter). Cousin marriage solves the problem of lineage solidarity. If, instead of marrying a woman from a strange lineage, a man marries his cousin, then his wife will not be an alien, but a trusted member of his own kin group. Not only will this reduce a man's likelihood of being pulled away from his brothers by his wife, a woman of the lineage is less likely to be divorced by her husband, and more likely to be protected by her own extended kin in case of a rupture in the marriage. Somewhere around a third of all marriages in the Muslim Middle East are between members of the same lineage, and in some places the figure can reach as high as 80 percent. It is this system of "patrilateral parallel cousin marriage" that explains the persistence of veiling, even in the face of modernity.

In Kurtz's second essay on the subject Kurtz responds to his critics and specifically about Turkey:

But what about Turkey, to which many point as the model of a successfully modernizing Muslim country? If Turkey can take a hard line on the veil — even banning it in places — and escape a fundamentalist reaction, why can't other Muslim countries do the same? In part, the answer has to do with something I discussed in "Veil of Fears." A particular form of "cousin marriage" marks out the Middle Eastern kinship system as unique in the world. While veiling and seclusion can help to protect almost any sort of arranged marriage system, and are not restricted to Muslim societies, cousin marriage adds tremendously to the motivation for veiling, since it means that in protecting their close female relatives from the gaze of outsiders, Muslim men are in effect protecting their own future wives. But Turkish culture is an exception to the Middle Eastern kinship rule. While Turkey's traditional kinship system is some respects similar to the general Middle Eastern pattern, cousin marriage was never practiced there. That helps explain why Turkey has had at least partial success in discouraging the headscarf.

But the belief that Turkey's anti-veiling policies have not provoked a fundamentalist reaction is mistaken. On the contrary, the banning of headscarfs in Turkey's universities has stirred up a furious reaction, having collided with the large-scale influx of women from traditional parts of the country to the university system. With the demand to restore the veil to universities and other public areas as perhaps its most powerful issue, an Islamist party now threatens to take power in the next Turkish election — an outcome which could easily provoke a coup or civil war in this critical American ally.

When I first read this it seemed like a revelation. Knowing that Steve Sailer loves to think about the intersections between biology and society I sent him a link to Kurtz's writings. Steve immediately wanted to find more social science data about rates of consanguinity throughout the world. I went Google searching without any luck. Now several months later Steve just found a site with worldwide measurements of the incidence of consanguinity.

Have a look at this map of the global incidence of consanguinity. Then check out how this translates into portions of the world's population:

As shown in the Figure 1, national populations can be approximately subdivided into four main categories: those in which consanguineous unions account for less than 1% of marriages, 1% to 10%, and 20% to over 50%, and populations where the level of consanguinity is unknown, either because it has not been reported or the data are of insufficient reliability and depth to make a prediction with any degree of confidence. Applying these definitions, the present numbers in each category are: less than 1% consanguinity, 1,061 million; 1% to 10% consanguinity, 2,811 million; 20% to 50+% consanguinity, 991 million; and unknown, 1,064 million (Bittles et al. 2001). As the data collection methods employed were conservative, these figures should be regarded as lower bound estimates.

With the exception of Japan, which has undergone rapid industrialization and urbanization since World War II, past predictions of a rapid decline in the overall prevalence of consanguineous unions have proved to be largely incorrect. In fact, the recorded numbers of consanguineous unions appear to have grown at least in step with increasing national and regional populations, and in some economically less developed countries the proportion of marriages contracted between close biological kin has expanded. The simplest explanation for this observation is that as greater numbers of children survive to marriageable age, the traditional social preference for consanguineous unions can be more readily accommodated.

Keep in mind the excerpt from the second Stanley Kurtz article above and his comments about Turkey. The Asian regional PDF from the consang.net site shows on page 20 consanguinity rates for different regions of Turkey at different time periods ranging from 12.8% to 31.5%. One can therefore see why Islamic religious parties continue to pose a threat to the development of secular democracy in Turkey.

One final note, just recently I came across a report that medical surveys on birth defects in Saudi Arabia are finding evidence that the pattern of consanguineous marriage in Saudi Arabia is causing a higher rate of birth defects than happens in the West:

RIYADH, 20 September — A nationwide screening of newborn babies has brought to light high incidence of genetic disorders in the Kingdom compared to Western countries.

This was disclosed to Arab News by Dr. Stephen R.Schroeder, executive director of Prince Salman Center for Disability Research (PSCDR). He said preliminary screening of 10,000-15,000 babies in Riyadh, Jeddah, Qassim and Abha has shown that these genetic disorders could have been the result of consanguineous marriages.

According to the principal investigators, Dr. Colin Hodgkinson and Dr.Vandana Bharucha, the incidence of genetic disorders among children occurs at a rate that is between five and 40 times higher than in many other countries.

Update: To read all my posts on the intersection between consanguinity and politics check out this Google Parapundit site search on consanguinity.

By Randall Parker    2002 September 22 04:50 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2002 September 12 Thursday
Ian Buruma to dictators: stop blaming the West

Writing in The Guardian Ian Buruma takes on those who blame the West for all the troubles in the world.

One answer to this is that some perspectives may actually be better than others. If the right to speak or believe freely, without being tortured in prisons or mental asylums, is a western idea, then so be it; let everyone profit from it. Another answer is that we don't really know what people's real perspectives are if they get locked up for expressing anything but officially prescribed opinions.

Neither of these answers are currently fashionable in the humanities departments of our universities. On the contrary, postmodern theory encourages the notion that cultural, racial, or political perspective is all.

As Buruma points out, what is being taught in Western universities is not helping the poor and is only helping the Third World thugs:

It is all too common for a bright person from the non- western world to enter a European or American university, only to pick up the latest critiques of western imperialism. This is a great balm for tender feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, but it doesn't help such students to face their problems at home.

It makes it easier to blame those problems on the west, which is no help at all to the hungry and the persecuted, but very good news for the tyrants.

So who is worse? The dictators that run their repressive governments in ways destined to keep their people impoverished? Or the First World academics that teach ideas that let the academics feel morally superior while they provide rationales for the abuses that the Third World rulers do to their peoples?

By Randall Parker    2002 September 12 03:16 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Advertise here. Contact randall dot parker at ymail dot com
 
Web parapundit.com
Site Traffic Info