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16 January 2015

'Religion of Peace' Is Not a Harmless Platitude

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To face Islamist terror, we must face the facts about Islam's history

By Douglas Murray

The West’s movement towards the truth is remarkably slow. We drag ourselves towards it painfully, inch by inch, after each bloody Islamist assault. 

In France, Britain, Germany, America and nearly every other country in the world it remains government policy to say that any and all attacks carried out in the name of Mohammed have ‘nothing to do with Islam’. It was said by George W. Bush after 9/11, Tony Blair after 7/7 and Tony Abbott after the Sydney attack last month. It is what David Cameron said after two British extremists cut off the head of Drummer Lee Rigby in London, when ‘Jihadi John’ cut off the head of aid worker Alan Henning in the ‘Islamic State’ and when Islamic extremists attacked a Kenyan mall, separated the Muslims from the Christians and shot the latter in the head. And, of course, it is what President François Hollande said after the massacre of journalists and Jews in Paris last week. 

All these leaders are wrong. In private, they and their senior advisers often concede that they are telling a lie. The most sympathetic explanation is that they are telling a ‘noble lie’, provoked by a fear that we — the general public — are a lynch mob in waiting. ‘Noble’ or not, this lie is a mistake. First, because the general public do not rely on politicians for their information and can perfectly well read articles and books about Islam for themselves. Secondly, because the lie helps no one understand the threat we face. Thirdly, because it takes any heat off Muslims to deal with the bad traditions in their own religion. And fourthly, because unless mainstream politicians address these matters then one day perhaps the public will overtake their politicians to a truly alarming extent. 

If politicians are so worried about this secondary ‘backlash’ problem then they would do well to remind us not to blame the jihadists’ actions on our peaceful compatriots and then deal with the primary problem — radical Islam — in order that no secondary, reactionary problem will ever grow. 

Yet today our political class fuels both cause and nascent effect. Because the truth is there for all to see. To claim that people who punish people by killing them for blaspheming Islam while shouting ‘Allah is greatest’ has ‘nothing to do with Islam’ is madness. Because the violence of the Islamists is, truthfully, only to do with Islam: the worst version of Islam, certainly, but Islam nonetheless. 

Last week, a chink was broken in this wall of disinformation when Sajid Javid, the only Muslim-born member of the British cabinet, and one of its brightest hopes, dipped a toe into this water. After the Paris attacks, he told the BBC: ‘The lazy answer would be to say that this has got nothing whatsoever to do with Islam or Muslims and that should be the end of that. That would be lazy and wrong.’ Sadly, he proceeded to utter the second most lazy thing one can say: ‘These people are using Islam, taking a peaceful religion and using it as a tool to carry out their activities.’

Here we land at the centre of the problem — a centre we have spent the last decade and a half trying to avoid: Islam is not a peaceful religion. No religion is, but Islam is especially not. It is certainly not, as some ill-informed people say, solely a religion of war. There are many peaceful verses in the Quran which — luckily for us — most Muslims live by. But it is by no means only a religion of peace. 

I say this not because I hate Islam, nor do I have any special animus against Muslims, but simply because this is the verifiable truth based on the texts. Until we accept that we will never defeat the violence, we risk encouraging whole populations to take against all of Islam and abandon all those Muslims who are trying desperately to modernise, reform and de-literalise their faith. And — most importantly — we will give up our own traditions of free speech and historical inquiry and allow one religion to have an unbelievable advantage in the free marketplace of ideas. 

It is not surprising that politicians have tried to avoid this debate by spinning a lie. The world would be an infinitely safer place if the historical Mohammed had behaved more like Buddha or Jesus. But he did not and an increasing number of people — Muslim and non-Muslim — have been able to learn this for themselves in recent years. But the light of modern critical inquiry which has begun to fall on Islam is a process which is already proving incredibly painful. 

The ‘cartoon wars’ — which began when the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten published a set of cartoons in 2005 — are part of that. But as Flemming Rose, the man who commissioned those cartoons, said when I sat down with him this week, there remains a deep ignorance in the West about what people like the Charlie Hebdo murderers wish to achieve. And we keep ducking it. As Rose said, ‘I wish we had addressed all this nine years ago.’ 

Contra the political leaders, the Charlie Hebdo murderers were not lunatics without motive, but highly motivated extremists intent on enforcing Islamic blasphemy laws in 21st-century Europe. If you do not know the ideology — perverted or plausible though it may be — you can neither understand nor prevent such attacks. Nor, without knowing some Islamic history, could you understand why — whether in Mumbai or Paris — the Islamists always target the Jews. 

Of course, some people are willing to give up a few of our rights. There seems, as Rose says in his book on the Danish cartoons affair, The Tyranny of Silence, some presumption that a diverse society requires greater limitations on speech, whereas of course the more diverse the society, the more diverse you are going to have to see your speech be. It is not just cartoons, but a whole system of inquiry which is being shut down in the West by way of hard intimidation and soft claims of offence-taking. The result is that, in contemporary Europe, Islam receives not an undue amount of criticism but a free ride which is unfair to all other religions. The night after the Charlie Hebdo atrocities I was pre-recording a Radio 4 programme. My fellow discussant was a very nice Muslim man who works to ‘de-radicalise’ extremists. We agreed on nearly everything. But at some point he said that one reason Muslims shouldn’t react to such cartoons is that Mohammed never objected to critics. 

There may be some positive things to be said about Mohammed, but I thought this was pushing things too far and mentioned just one occasion when Mohammed didn’t welcome a critic. Asma bint Marwan was a female poetess who mocked the ‘Prophet’ and who, as a result, Mohammed had killed. It is in the texts. It is not a problem for me. But I can understand why it is a problem for decent Muslims. The moment I said this, my Muslim colleague went berserk. How dare I say this? I replied that it was in the Hadith and had a respectable chain of transmission (an important debate). He said it was a fabrication which he would not allow to stand. The upshot was that he refused to continue unless all mention of this was wiped from the recording. The BBC team agreed and I was left trying to find another way to express the same point. The broadcast had this ‘offensive’ fact left out. 

I cannot imagine another religious discussion where this would happen, but it is perfectly normal when discussing Islam. On that occasion I chose one case, but I could have chosen many others, such as the hundreds of Jews Mohammed beheaded with his own hand. Again, that’s in the mainstream Islamic sources. I haven’t made it up. It used to be a problem for Muslims to rationalise, but now there are people trying to imitate such behaviour in our societies it has become a problem for all of us, and I don’t see why people in the free world should have to lie about what we read in historical texts. 

We may all share a wish that these traditions were not there but they are and they look set to have serious consequences for us all. We might all agree that the history of Christianity has hardly been un-bloody. But is it not worth asking whether the history of Christianity would have been more bloody or less bloody if, instead of telling his followers to ‘turn the other cheek’, Jesus had called (even once) for his disciples to ‘slay’ non–believers and chop off their heads? 

This is a problem with Islam — one that Muslims are going to have to work through. They could do so by a process which forces them to take their foundational texts less literally, or by an intellectually acceptable process of cherry-picking verses. Or prominent clerics could unite to declare the extremists non-Muslim. But there isn’t much hope of this happening. Last month, al-Azhar University in Cairo declared that although Isis members are terrorists they cannot be described as heretics. 

We have spent 15 years pretending things about Islam, a complex religion with competing interpretations. It is true that most Muslims live their lives peacefully. But a sizeable portion (around 15 per cent and more in most surveys) follow a far more radical version. The remainder are sitting on a religion which is, in many of its current forms, a deeply unstable component. That has always been a problem for reformist Muslims. But the results of ongoing mass immigration to the West at the same time as a worldwide return to Islamic literalism means that this is now a problem for all of us. To stand even a chance of dealing with it, we are going to have to wake up to it and acknowledge it for what it is.

Related Reading:

The Forgotten Genocide: Why It Matters Today

What Would @TheRevAl & #BlackLivesMatter's Oscars Look Like?

BREAKING NEWS: Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Hollywood Task Force reaches historic deal with AMPAS. Beginning next year, everyone gets a participation trophy!

OK, not really, but what would the Oscars look like if they had their way?  Here's what the new categories for the 2016 Academy Awards might look like...

Best Black Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture 
Best Hispanic Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture 
Best Asian-American Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture 
Best LGBTQQIAAP Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture 
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (open to all) 

Best Black Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture 
Best Hispanic Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture 
Best Asian-American Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture 
Best LGBTQQIAAP Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture 
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (open to all) 

Best Black Actress in a Motion Picture 
Best Hispanic Actress in a Motion Picture 
Best Asian-American Actress in a Motion Picture 
Best LGBTQQIAAP Actress in a Motion Picture 
Best Actress in a Motion Picture (open to all) 

Best Black Actor in a Motion Picture 
Best Hispanic Actor in a Motion Picture 
Best Asian-American Actor in a Motion Picture 
Best LGBTQQIAAP Actor in a Motion Picture 
Best Actor in a Motion Picture (open to all) 

Best Black Director of a Motion Picture 
Best Hispanic Director of a Motion Picture 
Best Asian-American Director of a Motion Picture 
Best LGBTQQIAAP Director of a Motion Picture 
Best Director of a Motion Picture (open to all) 

Best Black Motion Picture 
Best Hispanic Motion Picture 
Best Asian-American Motion Picture 
Best LGBTQQIAAP Motion Picture 
Best Motion Picture (open to all) 

And, the winner for Best Race Hustler in America?

Al, go up and accept your 'Oskkkar'!

Segregation!  Everything old is new again!

So, How Are the French Reacting To John Kerry's Sing-A-Long?

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Reminds me of that erudite specimen of American brilliance:

'That's retarded, Sir!'

- Rachel Jeantel

(Yes, I know 'en retard' means late.  Double entendre!)

The Forgotten Genocide: Why It Matters Today

A still frame from the 1919 documentary film Auction of Souls, which portrayed eye witnessed events from the Armenian Genocide, including crucified Christian girls.

By Raymond Ibrahim

Today, April 24, marks the “Great Crime,” that is, the Armenian genocide that took place under Turkey’s Islamic Ottoman Empire, during and after WWI. Out of an approximate population of two million, some 1.5 million Armenians died. If early 20th century Turkey had the apparatuses and technology to execute in mass—such as 1940s Germany’s gas chambers—the entire Armenian population may well have been annihilated. Most objective American historians who have studied the question unequivocally agree that it was a deliberate, calculated genocide:

More than one million Armenians perished as the result of execution, starvation, disease, the harsh environment, and physical abuse. A people who lived in eastern Turkey for nearly 3,000 years [more than double the amount of time the invading Islamic Turks had occupied Anatolia, now known as “Turkey”] lost its homeland and was profoundly decimated in the first large-scale genocide of the twentieth century. At the beginning of 1915 there were some two million Armenians within Turkey; today there are fewer than 60,000…. Despite the vast amount of evidence that points to the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide, eyewitness accounts, official archives, photographic evidence, the reports of diplomats, and the testimony of survivors, denial of the Armenian Genocide by successive regimes in Turkey has gone on from 1915 to the present.

Indeed, evidence has been overwhelming. U.S. Senate Resolution 359 from 1920 heard testimony that included evidence of “[m]utilation, violation, torture, and death [which] have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys, and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages.” In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem (which agrees with Islam’s rules of war). Unlike thousands of other Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: 

“Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.” 

Such scenes were portrayed in the 1919 documentary film Auction of Souls, some of which is based on Mardiganian’s memoirs. 

What do Americans know of the Armenian Genocide? To be sure, some American high school textbooks acknowledge it. However, one of the primary causes for it—perhaps the fundamental cause—is completely unacknowledged: religion. The genocide is always articulated through a singularly secular paradigm, one that deems valid only those factors that are intelligible from a modern, secular, Western point of view, such as identity politics, nationalism, and territorial disputes. As can be imagined, such an approach does little more than project Western perspectives onto vastly different civilizations of different eras, thus anachronizing history. 

War, of course, is another factor that clouds the true face of the Armenian genocide. Because these atrocities occurred during WWI, so the argument goes, they are ultimately a reflection of just that—war, in all its chaos and destruction, and nothing more. Yet Winston Churchill, who described the massacres as an “administrative holocaust,” correctly observed that “The opportunity [WWI] presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race.” Even Adolf Hitler had pointed out that “Turkey is taking advantage of the war in order to thoroughly liquidate its internal foes, i.e., the indigenous Christians, without being thereby disturbed by foreign intervention.” 

It is the same today throughout the Muslim world, wherever there is war: after the U.S. toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the nation’s Christian minority were first to be targeted for systematic persecution resulting in more than half of Iraq’s indigenous Christian population fleeing their homeland. Now that war has come to Syria—with the U.S. supporting the jihadis and terrorists—the Christians there are on the run for their lives. 

There is no denying that religion—or in this context, the age-old specter of Muslim persecution of Christian minorities—was fundamental to the Armenian Genocide. Even the most cited factor, ethnic identity conflict, while legitimate, must be understood in light of the fact that, historically, religion—creed—accounted more for a person’s identity than language or heritage. This is daily demonstrated throughout the Islamic world today, where Muslim governments and Muslim mobs persecute Christian minorities—minorities who share the same ethnicity, language, and culture, who are indistinguishable from the majority, except, of course, for being non-Muslims. 

If Christians are thus being singled out today—in our modern, globalized, “humanitarian” age—are we to suppose that they weren’t singled out a century ago by Turks? 

Similarly, often forgotten is the fact that non-Armenians under Turkish hegemony, Assyrians and Greeks for example, were also targeted for cleansing. The only thing that distinguished Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks from Turks was that they were all Christian. As one Armenian studies professor asks, “If it [the Armenian Genocide] was a feud between Turks and Armenians, what explains the genocide carried out by Turkey against the Christian Assyrians at the same time?” 

Today, as Turkey continues moving back to reclaiming its Islamic heritage, so too has Christian persecution returned. If Turks taunted their crucified Armenian victims by saying things like “Now let your Christ come and help you,” just last January, an 85-year-old Christian Armenian woman was repeatedly stabbed to death in her apartment, and a crucifix carved onto her naked corpse. Another elderly Armenian woman was punched in the head and, after collapsing to the floor, repeatedly kicked by a masked man. According to the report, “the attack marks the fifth in the past two months against elderly Armenian women,” one of whom lost an eye. Elsewhere, pastors of church congregations with as little as 20 people are targeted for killing and spat upon in the streets. A 12-year-old Christian boy was beaten by his teacher and harassed by students for wearing a cross around his neck, and three Christians were “satanically tortured” before having their throats slit for publishing Bibles. 

Outside of Turkey, what is happening to the Christians of today from one end of the Muslim world to the other is a reflection of what happened to the Armenian Christians of yesterday. We can learn about the past by looking at the present. From Indonesia in the east to Morocco in the west, from Central Asia in the north, to sub-Sahara Africa—that is, throughout the entire Islamic world—Muslims are, to varying degrees, persecuting, killing, raping, enslaving, torturing and dislocating Christians. See my new book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians for a comprehensive account of one of the greatest—yet, like the Armenian Genocide, little known—atrocities of our times. 

Here is one relevant example to help appreciate the patterns and parallels: in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, Muslims, led by the Islamic organization, Boko Haram (“Western Education is Forbidden”) are waging a bloody jihad on the Christian minorities in their midst. These two groups—black Nigerian Muslims and black Nigerian Christians—are identical in all ways except, of course, for being Muslims and Christians. And what is Boko Haram’s objective in all this carnage? To cleanse northern Nigeria of all Christians—a goal rather reminiscent of Ottoman policies of cleansing Turkey of all Christians, whether Armenian, Assyrian, or Greek. 

How does one explain this similar pattern of Christian persecution—this desire to be cleansed of Christians—in lands so different from one another as Nigeria and Turkey, lands which share neither race, language, nor culture, which share only Islam? Meanwhile, the modern Islamic world’s response to the persecution of Christians is identical to Turkey’s response to the Armenian Genocide: Denial. 

Finally, to understand how the historic Armenian Genocide is representative of the modern day plight of Christians under Islam, one need only read the following words written in 1918 by President Theodore Roosevelt—but read “Armenian” as “Christian” and “Turkish” as “Islamic”:

the Armenian [Christian] massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and the failure to act against Turkey [the Islamic world] is to condone it… the failure to deal radically with the Turkish [Islamic] horror means that all talk of guaranteeing the future peace of the world is mischievous nonsense. 

Indeed, if we “fail to deal radically” with the “horror” currently being visited upon millions of Christians around the Islamic world—which in some areas has reached genocidal proportions—we “condone it” and had better cease talking “mischievous nonsense” of a utopian world of peace and tolerance. 

Put differently, silence is always the ally of those who would commit genocide. In 1915, Adolf Hitler rationalized his genocidal plans, which he implemented some three decades later, when he rhetorically asked: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” 

And who speaks today of the annihilation of Christians under Islam?


I'm reminded of this dude:

“It’s not possible for a Muslim to commit genocide." 

- Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

Too many on the Left, including Barack Obama's brother, agree.