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Tag: Islam

It’s time to take sides says Tony Blair

Tuesday, 27 August, 2013 3 Comments

Writing in the Times today, the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says that we have reached a crossroads and he wants to know which direction the West will take. Is it going to be talk or action? Blair demands action. Snippet:

Tony Blair In Syria, we know what is happening. We know it is wrong to let it happen. But leave aside any moral argument and just think of our interests for a moment. Syria, disintegrated, divided in blood, the nations around it destabilised, waves of terrorism rolling over the population of the region; Assad in power in the richest part of the country; Iran, with Russia’s support, ascendant; a bitter sectarian fury running the Syrian eastern hinterland — and us, apparently impotent. I hear people talking as if there was nothing we could do: the Syrian defence systems are too powerful, the issues too complex, and in any event, why take sides since they’re all as bad as each other?

But others are taking sides. They’re not terrified of the prospect of intervention. They’re intervening. To support an assault on civilians not seen since the dark days of Saddam.

It is time we took a side: the side of the people who want what we want; who see our societies for all their faults as something to admire; who know that they should not be faced with a choice between tyranny and theocracy. I detest the implicit notion behind so much of our commentary — that the Arabs or even worse, the people of Islam are unable to understand what a free society looks like, that they can’t be trusted with something so modern as a polity where religion is in its proper place. It isn’t true. What is true is that there is a life-and-death struggle going on about the future of Islam and the attempt by extreme ideologues to create a political Islam at odds both with the open-minded tradition of Islam and the modern world.

Blair is right. We cannot be neutral in this clash of civilizations. Which side are you on?


The Persecution of Egypt’s Christians

Wednesday, 21 August, 2013 1 Comment

“Violent aggression by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, including those sympathetic to al-Qaeda, continues to be directed at one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, following the military’s break up last week of Brotherhood sit-ins. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has been inciting the anti-Christian pogroms on its web and Facebook pages. One such page, posted on August 14, lists a bill of particulars against the Christian Coptic minority, blaming it, and only it, for the military’s crackdown against the Brotherhood, alleging that the Church has declared a ‘war against Islam and Muslims.'”

That’s Nina Shea of The Hudson Institute in a National Review article titled “Egypt’s Christians Are Facing a Jihad.” Mark Movsesian of the Center For Law And Religion Forum at St. John’s University School of Law references Shea’s piece in “The Persecution of Egypt’s Christians,” and he offers three reasons as to why the Muslim Brotherhood and its followers are adopting this strategy of oppression:

First, Islamists attack Christians because they can. Christian churches, monasteries, and schools are soft targets, especially when the security forces are occupied elsewhere.

Second, the Coptic Church has taken an uncharacteristically strong stand in support of the military. Coptic Pope Tawadros appeared in the video announcing the overthrow of the Morsi regime in July — as did the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, it should be noted — and last week, he endorsed the military’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Third, one must recognize the perception Islamists have of Christians. Although not all Islamists advocate a return to dhimma restrictions, most have a nostalgia for classical Islamic law, which tolerates Christians as long as they accept a subservient status in society. Equality is out of the question. For Christians to assert equality with Muslims, or cooperate with Muslims’ enemies, is, in classical thought, a grave affront to the community which must be punished.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, the fate of four jailed Morsi supporters dominates media coverage of Egypt. In the Washington Post, the front-page story is, “Ravaged churches reveal sectarian split feeding Egypt’s violence.”


The Saudis and the Brotherhood: love turns to hate

Tuesday, 20 August, 2013

“On Monday, Saudi Arabia promised to compensate Egypt for any aid that Western countries might withdraw in response to the harsh tactics employed by Egypt’s leaders to quell protests by supporters of the country’s deposed president, in which nearly 1,000 people and more than 100 police officers are reported to have been killed.” — Backing Egypt’s generals, Saudi Arabia promises financial support

Later in her Washington Post report, Liz Sly writes, “That Saudi Arabia is prepared to confront Washington over the crisis is an indicator of how deeply Saudi leaders were unsettled by the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood consolidating its hold over the Arab world’s most populous nation, analysts say.”

Muslim Brotherhood Times have changed, especially in the relationship between the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 1952, Gamel Abdel Nasser and a group of fellow military officers overthrew King Farouk and turned to Sayyid Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood for popular support. However, the Brotherhood wanted to outlaw alcohol and introduce the religious law of Islam, sharia, in the new, post-monarchical Egypt, a price that was too high for Nasser and his Revolutionary Council. It banned the Brotherhood in 1954, then undid the ban, but after an attempt on Nasser’s life, reinstated the ban.

In Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman notes what happened next:

“Leading figures from the Muslim Brotherhood fled from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi rulers welcomed them, and put them to good use. The Saudi princes were determined to keep their own country on a path of pure adherence to Saudi Arabia’s antique and rigid version of Islam; and Egypt’s Islamist intellectuals, with their stores of Koranic knowledge, had much to offer. The Egyptian exiles took over professorial chairs in Saudi universities. And their impact was large. Qutb’s younger brother, Muhammad Qutb, a distinguished religious scholar in his own right, fled to Saudi Arabia and became a professor of Islamic Studies. One of his students was Osama bin Laden.”

Sayyid Qutb, however, stayed in Egypt and Nasser hanged him in 1966. By then, though, the damage was done and the religious fascism represented by Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood has since left a trail of death and suffering that stretches from the banks of the Nile to lower Manhattan. It has also steered Saudi Arabia towards barbarism and although it’s a bit late in the day for the princely descendants of the princes who imported Qutb’s toxic ideology to acknowledge their capital mistakes, it is better that it’s done late rather than never. Unless they wish to be devoured by the radicals, the Saudis and the Egyptians know that the Muslim Brotherhood must be smashed.


The evil legacy of the evil Sayyid Qutb

Monday, 19 August, 2013 1 Comment

In his book Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman examines the role that Sayyid Qutb played in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Qutb enrolled in the Brotherhood in 1951 and duly became “the Arab world’s first important theoretician of the Islamist cause.” But what did Qutb write? Well, there is his 1964 manifesto, Milestones, a short work in which he calls for recreating the Muslim world on strictly Qur’anic grounds, but, says Berman, “his true masterwork is something else entirely, a gargantuan thirty-volume exegesis called In the shade of the Qur’an, which consists of commentaries on the various chapters or Surahs of the Koran.”

Sayyid Qutb The writing is “wise, broad, indignant, sometimes demented, bristly with hatred, medieval, modern, tolerant, intolerant, cruel, urgent, cranky, tranquil, grave, poetic, learned, analytic, moving in some passages — a work large and solid enough to create its own shade, where his readers could repose and turn his pages, as he advised the students of the Koran to do, in the earnest spirit of loyal soldiers reading their daily bulletin.” As an example, Berman offers Qutb’s commentary on Surah 2, from the section “Martyrdom and Jihad”. A snippet:

“The Surah tells the Muslims that, in the fight to uphold God’s universal Truth, lives will have to be sacrificed. Those who risk their lives and go out to fight, and who are prepared to lay down their lives for the cause of God are honorable people, pure of heart and blessed of soul. But the great surprise is that those among them who are killed in the struggle must not be considered or described as dead. They continue to live, as God Himself clearly states.”

And so it was with Sayyid Qutb, who was hanged by Nasser in 1966. His evil ideas flourish and his writings should be studied closely by those now offering themselves as experts on Egyptian affairs, and they should be mandatory reading for those journalists who display a remarkable “understanding” for the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood. Among those who come to mind here are Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Hubert Wetzel and Mary Fitzgerald.


Turkey’s disgraceful prosecution of Fazil Say

Saturday, 20 April, 2013 0 Comments

On Monday, a Turkish court convicted the country’s best-known pianist and composer, Fazil Say, for the crimes of inciting hatred and insulting Islam. Say was given a 10-month suspended sentence in absentia, for a series of tweets he sent to his 44,000 followers. The chilling point of the suspended sentence is that he will go to prison if he repeats the tweets. What exactly did Say say? He joked about imams and muezzin; he joked about which kind of booze will be available in the afterlife; and he forwarded a rhyming couplet from a 12th century Persian poet about the garden of Eden, wine and sex.

The abuse of the courts by Turkey’s Islamic-leaning government to punish “insults” makes a mockery of its claim to be a democracy. There can be no democracy without free speech, and without an independent judiciary Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs to be told that there can be no democracy, either.


Alcoholic beverages are now available

Thursday, 7 February, 2013 2 Comments

Quote: “Ladies and gentlemen, it is our pleasure to announce that alcoholic beverages are now available, as we have cleared Iranian airspace.” Argo, Scene 318 from the screenplay (PDF) by Chris Terrio, based on the May 2007 Wired magazine article The Great Escape by Joshuah Bearman, and chapter nine of The Master of Disguise by Antonio Mendez.

Sure, there’s a lot of alcoholic beverage knocked back in Argo, but the booze acts as an expression of civilization and an antidote to the emerging barbarism of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ben Affleck stars in and directs a film that’s funny, clever, taut and a necessary reminder of the threat that faces us. Argo deserves the Best Film Oscar, and the “Best Supporting Actor” award should go to Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel, a producer so cynical that the knows the price and the value of everyone in Hollywood.


Mentioning the “c” word

Friday, 21 September, 2012

As security forces in many Muslim countries are gearing up for a day of protests against the amateur film, Innocence of Muslims, the government of Pakistan has declared a “special day of love” for the Prophet Muhammad, and Pakistani TV is showing President Barack Obama condemning the film in ads paid for by Washington. Time […]

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Off with your head if you offend the Arab world

Monday, 17 September, 2012

For many Australians these demands for capital punishment of the most drastic kind must have come as a shock, especially since the last execution Down Under took place in 1967, and that was the state-sanctioned hanging of Ronald Ryan. His crime was not that of insulting any prophet, however. Instead, he had been found guilty […]

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We are fighting barbarism

Tuesday, 11 September, 2012

What happened on 11 September 2001 was a barbaric attack on civilization. It was carried out by people who hated modernity and it was ordered by those who pined for a return to a barbarous social order. The resulting wars against Islamic terrorism, as personified by Said al-Shihri, and against a perverse Middle Eastern political […]

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Russians on the road to Damascus

Tuesday, 7 February, 2012

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the country’s Foreign Intelligence Chief Mikhail Fradkov are leading a delegation to Syria today. They’re selling their visit as an attempt to persuade President Bashar Assad to implement democratic changes in the country; in fact, they’re making a last-ditch attempt to prop up a regional proxy and salvage a […]

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