Sunday, July 24, 2005

Islamic Disconnection From Reality is the Real Problem

So, who is responsible for the London bombings? No, it wasn't radical Muslims per se, they were provoked. According to Osama Saeed, spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, it was Tony Blair. The fact that Blair did not sufficiently prostrate himself and Britain before the altar of Islam triggered those attacks. Furthermore, Mr. Saeed is quite aghast that Mr. Blair has the audacity to even suggest that the greater Muslim community in Britain should make an effort to reign in the madness in their midst.

How does one even begin to understand people whose existance is so disconnected from the real world?

In my more pessimistic moments, I become increasingly doubtful that we can avoid a literal religious war on Islam. While I am sure that there are truly reasonable and moderate Muslim voices who decry the mindless violence and the hate that sanctions it, I'm afraid that the voices of the apologists and the enablers are creating a din louder than reason itself.

In the West's quest for tolerance, we have allowed the intolerant into our midst and they have rewarded us with death, destruction and mayhem. They demand tolerance of their ways in our land, but afford us none in theirs. Theirs is a one-sided bargain, designed to subvert our culture's offer of freedom into our culture's subjugation. They simply will not abide by our rules of civilized behavior and have pledged themselves to our destruction and the imposition of their narrow codes of behavior upon us.

Is not what we call "radical Islam" a sub-sect of Islam as a whole? Do not all Muslims bear some responsibility to do everything they can to quash those who use use their common faith as a pretense for wanton violence? Is their loyalty to fellow Muslims more powerful than the faith itself? To answer in the affirmative to these questions is to admit the defeat of Islamic moderation and the radicalization of Islam as a whole.

In a stunning display of denial, Osama Saeed, in his column in the Guardian lays the blame of radical Islam in Britain at the feet of Tony Blair and, in a larger sense, the West as a whole. He writes:

Faced with the events of the past two weeks, it would be the easiest thing in the world for me to say the Muslim community must do more to combat terrorism. Many community figures have done just that.

Shahid Malik MP told the Commons: "The challenge is straightforward - that those voices that we have tolerated will no longer be tolerated." This raises the question: did we really hear people planning violence in this country but do nothing about it?

The position of Muslim organisations and mosques has been consistent for years. Killing civilians is murder, and a crime in Islam. We have consistently said that Muslims must help the police to track down those responsible.

This is why I've found it strange that many Muslim leaders have offered to look deep within our community now. It's a tacit admission of negligence that I simply do not accept. The prime minister has of course welcomed this attitude. Indeed he
has led from the front, ratcheting up the rhetoric against Muslims, laying the
responsibility solely on us. "In the end, this can only be taken on and defeated
by the community itself," he said last week.

He says that "We have consistently said the Muslims must help track down those responsible", and in the very next sentence he says "This is why I've found it strange that many Muslim leaders have offered to look deep within our community now." Why does he find this strange, in view of the fact that Muslim bombers just murdered more than 50 people in the heart of London? He seems to want credit for Muslim leaders assisting in the investigation, and at the same time he castigates the same leaders for doing so.

Would Mr. Saeed have us believe that the type of religious extremism happens in a vacuum, without any knowledge whatsoever of anyone in the Muslim community at large? I find this hard to believe. Saeed's utter rejection of the obvious, that the moderate Muslim community just might be helpful in ferreting out the radicals, reveals him to clearly be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Mr Blair has attacked the idea of the caliphate - the equivalent of criticising the Pope. He has also remained silent in the face of a rightwing smear campaign against such eminent scholars as Sheikh al-Qaradawi - a man who has worked hard to reconcile Islam with modern democracy. Such actions and omissions fuel the suspicion that we are witnessing a war on Islam itself. If there is any thought that Muslims are fine but their religion can take a hike then Mr Blair should know that we will never be in the corner, in the spotlight, losing our religion.

The equivalent of criticising the Pope? Excuse me, but the Pope is widely and routinely criticized all of the time! Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular are not only the subject of criticism in the West, but the icons and symbols of both Catholicism and Christianity are regularly defiled in the worst way in the interest of "free expression" and "art." This has been the case for years and there has not been a single incident, not one, of an offended Christian, taking a life for what he or she considers blasphemy. Should Islam be protected from the indignities of free speech that Western religions regularly suffer? How do you think the Muslim "community" would react to an art exhibit that featured a Koran submerged in a container of urine and pig blood?

As far as the "eminent scholar" Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, a quick Google search revealed a BBC piece that indicates he is not, exactly the moderate voice of reason as portrayed by Mr. Saeed. An excerpt from a BBC piece on Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi :

It is particularly his views on suicide bombings that has courted controversy,
but mainly in the West.

He has distanced himself from suicide attacks in the West but he has consistently defended Palestinian suicide attacks against Israelis.

Recently he told Al-Jazeera that he was not alone in believing that suicide bombings in Palestinian territories were a legitimate form of self defence for people who have no aircraft or tanks.

He said hundreds of other Islamic scholars are of the same opinion. In this respect, he is very much in tune with what the vast majority of people in the Arab world believe.

Defending suicide bombings that target Israeli civilians Sheikh A-Qaradawi told the BBC programme Newsnight that "an Israeli woman is not like women in our
societies, because she is a soldier.

"I consider this type of martyrdom operation as an evidence of God's justice.

"Allah Almighty is just; through his infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have and and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do".

Despite his popularity, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi is not without his critics in the
Arab world.

Some see his regular preaching on Al-Jazeera as an uncritical regurgitation of Islamic dogma out of touch with the modern world.

So, this is what passes for moderation in the eyes of Osama Saeed? It would appear that the eminent Sheikh's efforts to reconcile Islam with modern democracy is, shall we say, situational at best. This moderate voice who is, in the words of Osama Saeed, a victim of a "rightwing smear campaign" seems to have no problem with suicide bombers killing innocents - as long as they are Jews.

Before the recent elections in Iraq, the only democracy in the Middle East was in fact, Israel. Are Palestinians denied the right to vote in Israeli elections? Well, no. In fact, all Israeli citizens have the right to vote, regardless of their religion and some 19% of the citizenry is non-Jewish. Arabs serve in the Israeli parliament. Are Jews afforded similar liberty in Muslim countries? Saudi Arabia will not even allow a Jew entrance to their country.

Despite the crocodile tears that the Arab world seems to shed for the Palestinians, they have done little other than use them as cannon fodder in their war on the Jews. The fact is, Palestinians are considered "personna non grata" in the Arab world. When the UN proposed the creation of Israel in 1948, a partitioned state of similar size was also proposed for the Palestinians. The Jews accepted the plan and the Arabs rejected it, and ever since then the Arab world have used the "Palestinian issue" to justify their hatred of the Jews. This is a good article that details the history. The wealthy Arab states have paid the families of these suicide bombers and have done their best to fuel the Palestinian hatred of the Jews, while doing nothing constuctive for their alleged "brothers."

Saeed continues:

By putting the onus on Muslims to defeat terror, the prime minister absolves
himself of responsibility. Muslims are not in denial of our duties, but who are
we meant to be combating? The security services had no idea about all that has
gone on in London, so how are we as ordinary citizens to do better?

It is not Muslims but Mr Blair who is in denial. He was advised that the war in Iraq would put us in more danger, not less. Silvio Berlusconi has admitted Italy is in danger because of his alliance with Bush; Mr Blair should do the same.

Jack Straw has just apologised for Britain's role in the Srebrenica massacre. This is a welcome development, but these apologies need to be extended to Britain's explicit roles in creating the injustices in the Muslim world - from the mess that colonial masters left in Kashmir to the promising of one people's land to another in Palestine. We need to recognise our past mistakes and make a commitment not to repeat them. Western leaders are outraged about London but show no similar anger for other atrocities across the world. What happens abroad matters to British Muslims as much as what happens here.

The British Muslim response is to engage politically, as we did in our opposition to
the Iraq war, when we tried to keep our country, as well as innocent Iraqis, safe.
We'll continue to try to win the arguments.

Unfortunately, a handful of individuals have eschewed this to carry out the attacks in London. You can regard these acts as part of Islam, or as an irrational reaction to injustice taking place in the world. If it's the former you have to explain why this started only 12 years ago and not 1,400. To us it is evident that it is the latter, so we're batting the ball back in your court, Mr Blair.

As expected, it all comes down to Iraq. But if the London bombings of 7/7/05 were about Iraq, what were the attacks of 9/11/01 about? What about the bombings in Saudi Arabia, or more recently, the bombing in Egypt?

Where was he when hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were being unceremoniously murdered and buried in mass, unmarked graves. Did he speak out when the corpses of children and mothers still clutching their children were being exhumed? Where has he been for the decades that Saddam raped and pillaged Iraq? Does he even notice the zeal with which Iraqis have embraced their fledgling democracy?

Saeed cares little about "innocent Iraqis" or Palestinians for that matter, they are mere props he and his ilk use to explain Islamic barbarism in their unquenchable hatred for the Jews and, by extension, the United States. Perhaps the barbarism is a stuggle for the heart of Islam itself, a struggle in which moderation seems to be the first casualty. In either case, there is little we can do to placate an implacable enemy.

Mr. Saeed spends the entire column attempting to tar Tony Blair, all the while conspicuously avoiding any specific criticism of the bombers themselves. In the end, he invites us to "regard these acts as part of Islam, or as an irrational reaction to injustice taking place in the world."

Naturally, he chooses the latter and the fact that he casually dismisses bombings of innocent citizens as "an irrational reaction to injustice" speaks volumes.

To me, the evidence of the former is growing. In his questioning as to "why this started only 12 years ago and not 1,400", he not only presents a false choice (Islamic terrorism goes much farther back than 12 years) but unwiitingly reveals the problem at the heart of Islam - the abject refusal to acknowedge the history of atrocities that have been committed by Muslims combined with a refusal to forget those atrocities committed against Muslims. He demands apologies, but offers none.

The purpose of Saeed's column is to defend Islam and to explain the "reasoning" behind the wholesale murder of innocents that has become the face of Islam and he fails miserably. Oddly enough, his attempt unveils Islam as something of a decrepit belief system showing signs of internal rot brought about by its inability to accept or move beyond its barbaric past. Nursing every wound inflicted for 1,400 years, a significant percentage of Muslims have chosen to engage in, or support unspeakable savagry in an effort to turn the clock back to the "golden age of Islam."

The path to a golden age is not lined with beheaded corpses, burnt bodies, smoking holes where once stood proud skyscrapers or twisted metal hulks littered with body parts that were once were busses and trains. On the contrary, that is a path to oblivion at the hands of those upon whom you visit those horrors.