From the Daily NK:
From the Daily NK:
Should we blame Islam for terrorism, asks David Shariatmadari. The answer, unsurprisingly (this is the Guardian), is no:
Aspects of Islamic teaching do indeed justify some kinds of violence. Islam isn’t a pacifist religion. But again, it has this in common with Christianity, Judaism and other world faiths. Since that’s the case, and since we know that violence in the name of Islam has waxed and waned, it follows that we cannot look simply to theology to explain recent Islam-inspired terrorism....
What had changed? Not the religion. A political earthquake had occurred and religion was now being used by those in power as a vehicle for massive social reorganisation. But what this story captures is a tendency among non-Muslims to attribute magical, ahistorical qualities to Islam – to appeal to it as a black box when events are perplexing, or, as is sometimes the case, when their own wrongheaded policies are implicated.
It’s here that the question of politics – geopolitics – becomes inescapable. The Qur’an and the hadith, the sources of Islam, didn’t get rewritten in the last few decades. But they were taken up and used by certain political actors to justify horrific violence. Why?
The answer must lie among the political, economic, military and social changes in the Middle East in our times, and how they have ramified in the wider world. It’s only by looking beyond the texts that we can hope to understand why certain interpretations of them have gained currency among a tiny minority – but a minority willing to indiscriminately kill civilians.
This isn’t an excuse.... It’s unimpeachable logic. If you think that the causes of terrorism are embedded in the Qur’an and hadith, you’re proving yourself unable to deal with the complexities of a world in which politics – including military and non-military intervention by foreign powers – interacts with religion.
Saying “there’s something special about Islam” saves you from making the effort to learn more about this faith, the people who practise it and the conditions they live in.
It’s psychologically useful, granted. Islam can be a convenient focus for the rage we feel after hearing about acts of brutality. But don’t mistake something being seductive for it being accurate.
For some – and I suspect this includes Steve Bannon, Marine Le Pen and more than a few British pundits – the natural conclusion is that people should be convinced to abandon Islam, and if that doesn’t work, it should be driven out. This, of course, would be a grossly illiberal and violent programme – but one, I suppose, that sits in a rather long tradition of nationalism and supremacism in the west.
Unfortunately this is one of those Comment is Free pieces that doesn't, in fact, allow comments. Which is a shame, because it would be torn to pieces.
There was a time, maybe ten or fifteen years ago, round 9/11 or the 7/7 2005 London bombings, when the line that these terrorist attacks were blow back for Western imperialist outrages could get a good hearing on the left. "Blair's bombs", they said about 7/7. America "had it coming" for 9/11. The underdogs were fighting back at last.
But now? Not so much. It's down to a tiny minority on the hard left, if it's there at all. The barbarities committed in the name of Islam - Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram - have been so relentless, so appalling, that even the Guardian commentariat have had enough. It's now only the desperate - like Shariatmadari here - who try it on with this kind of apologetics. As soon as we heard about Westminster, we all knew. A "terrorist", they said. Islam wasn't even mentioned for some time, but it didn't need to be. We knew it wasn't a Hindu extremist, or a Sikh, or a Christian.
Of course there's a problem with Islam. It's the fact that so many commentators like Shariatmadari here refuse to acknowledge it, offering instead this kind of pathetic insult to our intelligence, that politicians like Trump or Marine Le Pen get the support they do.
As far as the history goes, we could perhaps point out that Islam was founded by a warlord, and that submission to the sword has been the Way of the Crescent since its inception. But historical comparisons can be contentious. Christianity, it has to be admitted, has been the cause of bloodshed aplenty. The problem, clearly, lies with Islam's relationship to the modern world. Christianity, by and large, has adapted. Indeed the modern western scientific liberal order has grown with, and as a reaction to, the Church and its teachings. Islam has been on the outside looking in, and as a result has been excluded. The modern world has passed it by. It's now regressing.
There are modernisers - Muslim secularists, like Maajid Nawaz. These are the people we need to encourage. You'd think the left would support them - but you'd be wrong. The Guardian did a particularly nasty hatchet job on Nawaz back in 2015. By one David Shariatmadari.
First we take Washington, then we take....Paris?
Marine Le Pen made a surprise visit to the Kremlin Friday, and Vladimir Putin’s warm reception left little doubt about Moscow’s choice to win the French Presidential election in a month.
The French National Front leader was looking for at least a de facto Kremlin endorsement a month from the first round of voting, and she received it with news footage that showed the Russian strongman smiling next to her.
“We do not want to influence events in any way,” Mr. Putin said, and how would anyone get that idea? Pro-Kremlin news sites merely published reports that the Kremlin had pledged to “help” Ms. Le Pen’s cash-strapped campaign before correcting the stories and deleting the tweets. In 2014 the National Front received a $10 million loan from a Kremlin-linked bank.
Ms. Le Pen returned the public admiration, saying Mr. Putin represents a “new vision” of conservative nationalism and sovereignty along with Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That’s an insult to Messrs. Trump and Modi, who have won fair elections. She also called on Paris and Moscow to join forces to combat “globalization and Islamic fundamentalism.”
Ms. Le Pen made clear that she’d pursue a policy of appeasement toward Russian aggression against the countries that live in Moscow’s shadow. Sovereignty is sacred to her—unless you’re Georgian or Ukrainian. “I was one of the few politicians in France who were defending their own point of view on Ukraine that coincided with that of Russia,” she said at the Russian Parliament.
She went on to denounce Ukraine’s elected government using rhetoric that would make the producers at Russia Today blush: “We are forced to deal with a government that came to power illegally, as a result of the Maidan revolution, and now bombs the population in Donetsk and Luhansk. This is a war crime.” She vowed to fight European sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and proxy invasion of eastern Ukraine.
Ms. Le Pen has long been a Putin apologist, but the difference is that now she has a plausible path to the Élysée Palace. Being open to negotiations with Mr. Putin is one thing, excusing and endorsing Russian imperialism another. If she’s elected, Mr. Putin will have an overt fifth columnist in the heart of NATO.
The Thylacine may not be extinct after all:
Scientists in northern Australia are preparing to hunt for the Tasmanian tiger following a series of “sightings” of the species, which was declared extinct after the last one died in a zoo in 1936.
As part of a search due to begin next month, scientists plan to set up more than 50 camera traps to try to spot a so-called tiger, or thylacine, in Cape York, a peninsula in the country’s north-east corner.
This follows two apparently credible sightings in the region, including one by Brian Hobbs, a former tourism operator who revealed earlier this month that he spotted a family of the animals in 1983 after they startled his German shepherd.
"These animals, I've never seen anything like them before in my life," he told ABC Radio.
"They were dog-shaped — I had a shepherd with me so I certainly know what dogs are about — and in the spotlight I could see they were tan in colour and they had stripes on their sides."
Patrick Shears, a former ranger who also claims to have seen a tiger, said local Aborigines reported regularly spotting the creature.
"They pretty well confirmed that they know about a dog-like creature — not a dingo [a native Australian dog] — that's often seen at night," he said.
"They call it the 'moonlight tiger'… They're curious. If you're not moving and not making a noise they'll come within a reasonable range and check you out then just trot off.”
Professor Bill Laurance, one of two researchers from James Cook University undertaking the search, said the sightings appeared to be credible but admitted it seemed unlikely that the species would have survived in such low numbers.
“All observations of putative thylacines to date have been at night, and in one case four animals were observed at close range - about 20 feet away - with a spotlight,” he said.
“We have cross-checked the descriptions we received of eye shine colour, body size and shape, animal behaviour, and other attributes, and these are inconsistent with known attributes of other large-bodied species in north Queensland such as dingoes, wild dogs or feral pigs.”
The Tasmanian tiger, a carnivorous marsupial which disappeared following the arrival of British settlers, has gained an almost mythical status in Australia.
The last known creature died on September 7, 1936 at a zoo in Hobart, the capital of the island state of Tasmania.
There have since been countless alleged sightings, but none has ever been confirmed. Scientists in Australia have also been attempting to clone it.
The creatures were believed to have once roamed the mainland but became extinct there – possibly after being preyed on by dingoes, Australian wild dogs – and were left only in Tasmania. They were then hunted and trapped by the colonialists, who believed the tiger was a threat to their sheep.
Well yes...despite attempts to blame it all on the British, the extinction of the thylacine from mainland Australia seems largely to have been caused by dingoes, which arrived there some 4000 years ago - well before Captain Cook.
More blue East London skies:
Dale Grimshaw mural, Hanbury Street
Niall Ferguson in today's Sunday Times (£):
The term “lone wolf” is a misleading one. No one becomes a jihadist all by himself, just by watching beheading videos. As my wife, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, argues in a powerful new report, jihad is always preceded by dawa — the process of non-violent but toxic radicalisation that transforms the petty criminal into a zealot.
The network of dawa takes many different forms. In the UK a key role used to be played by the organisation al-Muhajiroun (the Emigrants), which the jailed Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary led before his arrest. But there are many less visible organisations — Islamic centres with shadowy imams — busily spreading the mind poison.
To see how this poison works, read the recent Policy Exchange study of Britain’s Muslim communities, Unsettled Belonging. At first sight, the news is good. Altogether, 90% of those surveyed condemned terrorism. Most British Muslims, we read, have “fundamentally secular interests and priorities”. Only 7% said they did not feel a strong sense of belonging to the UK.
But read on. Nearly half said they did not want to “fully integrate with non-Muslims in all aspects of life”, preferring some separation in “schooling and laws”. Asked whether they would support the introduction of sharia, 43% said yes. And 1 in 10 British Muslims oppose the prohibition of tutoring that “promotes extreme views or is deemed incompatible with fundamental British values”.
Worst of all, nearly a third (31%) of those surveyed believe that the American government was responsible for 9/11. Get this: “More people claimed that the Jews were behind these attacks (7%) than said it was the work of al-Qaeda (4%).”
After 7/7, the government’s anti-terrorism strategy was designed to “Prevent” people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 even placed a duty on the police, prisons, local authorities, schools and universities to stop people “being drawn into terrorism”. When she was home secretary, Theresa May vowed “systematically [to] confront and challenge extremist ideology”. For this she was denounced by the usual suspects, notably the Muslim Council of Britain, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Cage and the Islamic Human Rights Commission. But the reality is that Prevent has not prevented enough.
The problem is that it’s very hard to stop a network such as this one flourishing when it can operate even in jails. Figures published by the Ministry of Justice show the number of Muslims in prison (for all types of offence) more than doubled to 12,255 between 2004 and 2014. One in seven inmates in England and Wales are Muslim. Guess what goes on inside. Clue: it’s not like an episode of Porridge.
This problem isn’t going away. Ask the French. About 8% of the French population is Muslim, which is roughly the proportion the Pew Research Centre projects it will be in Britain by 2030. The French authorities estimate that they have 11,400 radical Islamists. And about 60% to 70% of the French prison population is Muslim.
Here's Hirsi Ali's report - The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It. From the executive summary:
A narrow focus on Islamist violence had the effect of restricting our options only to tools such as military intervention, electronic surveillance, and the criminal justice system. This approach has proved both costly and ineffective.
Moving beyond the controversy over his executive order on immigration, President Trump now has the chance to broaden our strategy. Instead of “combating violent extremism,” his administration needs to redefine the threat posed by political Islam by recognizing it as an ideology that is fundamentally incompatible with our freedoms and a movement that is working insidiously but effectively to achieve its stated utopia.
I argue that the American public urgently needs to be educated about both the ideology of political Islam and the organizational infrastructure called dawa that Islamists use to inspire, indoctrinate, recruit, finance, and mobilize those Muslims whom they win over to their cause.
There is no point in denying that this ideology has its foundation in Islamic doctrine. However, “Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Muslims” are distinct concepts. Not all Muslims are Islamists, let alone violent, though all Islamists—including those who use violence—are Muslims. I believe the religion of Islam itself is indeed capable of reformation, if only to distinguish it more clearly from the political ideology of Islamism. But that task of reform can only be carried out by Muslims. Happily, there is a growing number of reformist Muslims. Part of the Trump administration’s strategy must be to support and empower them.
The other part of the strategy requires confronting dawa, a term unfamiliar to Americans. Dawa as practiced by radical Islamists employs a wide range of mechanisms to advance their goal of imposing Islamic law (sharia) on society. This includes proselytizing but extends beyond that.4 In Western countries, dawa aims both to convert non-Muslims to political Islam and to instill Islamist views in existing Muslims. The ultimate goal of dawa is to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with the rule of sharia law.
Dawa is to the Islamists of today what the “long march through the institutions” was to twentieth-century Marxists. It is subversion from within—the abuse of religious freedom in order to undermine that very freedom. Another analogy is also possible. After Islamists gain power, dawa is to them what Gleichschaltung (synchronization) of all aspects of German state, civil, and social institutions was to the National Socialists.
There are of course differences. The biggest difference is that dawa is rooted in the Islamic practice of attempting to convert non-Muslims to accept the message of Islam. As it is an ostensibly religious missionary activity, proponents of dawa enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or fascists did in the past.
Worse, Islamist groups have enjoyed not just protection but at times official sponsorship from government agencies duped into regarding them as representatives of “moderate Muslims” simply because they do not engage in violence....