Women in Afghanistan (Photo: © Reuters)
Earlier this year I wrote a short article on the political, societal and legal tensions associated with the large-scale Muslim immigrations to Europe in the late 1960’s and early 70’s – a period when I lived in both England and Germany.
I wrote the piece because I disagreed fundamentally with the suggestion by some of our senior political leaders that violent incidents - such as the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris - could have been avoided had Europeans worked harder to “assimilate” their Islamic immigrants.
The article included discussion of traditional Muslim “proprietary” doctrines toward women and girls. I wrote, “We still have brutal ‘honor killings’ of women – even in the United States – and young girls are murdered, raped and enslaved (in the name of religious law) throughout the more ‘modern’ Muslim world” and explained how such doctrines and practices were fundamentally inconsistent with the law in Western democracies.
Shortly after the article appeared, I was surprised by an email from my editor at the time - who had previously declined to run the piece - saying: “I have reached the unfortunate conclusion that your views on the matter are well outside the spectrum that we are willing to publish…”
I also wondered, was this “conclusion” a clear example of our “big media’s” reluctance to publish on the negative aspects of Islam? Was such critical coverage, whether reporting or commentary, “well outside the spectrum that [they] are willing to publish”?
Here’s another example: After my article appeared, a scholarly report on the practice of “female genital mutilation and cutting” (or “FGM/C”) of some Muslim women and girls was published by the independent American Population Reference Bureau (PRB).
The findings of this report are shocking:
“Girls under age 18 made up one-third of all females at risk…. While some of these girls were born in countries with high prevalence rates, the majority are U.S.-born children of parents from high-prevalence countries. Anecdotal reports tell of U.S.-born girls being cut while on vacation in their parents' countries of origin and of people traveling to the United States to perform FGM/C on girls here.”
Mainstream American media has simply ignored this report. Is it because even totally objective factual coverage of the report could somehow be considered “Islamophobic” -- an editorial descriptor for all things critical of Islam?
In a larger context, has U.S. big media learned anything from the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, the killings in Copenhagen, the brutal attack at a Kenyan university and the recent mass shootings in Tunisia? Doesn’t our media see these vicious acts as a direct threat to their – and our – basic freedoms of thought, press and expression -- the very fundamentals of a democracy?
This is not a new tension in the West. More than a hundred years ago, Sir Winston Churchill observed - in reference to the conflict between fundamental Islam and democracy - that “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.”
In short, an Islamic reformation is long overdue, as I wrote, “…Muslim integration into Western cultures – especially ours – requires the abandonment of laws, rules and practices inconsistent with living in free societies. This is nothing radical or new – most other organized religions have done it for the past few hundred years, some far more than others.”
Whether one agrees or not with this conclusion is perhaps less important than the willingness to address it, and therefore it must remain an important concern for Western lawmakers and our legal scholars.
Yet, some of our media continues its reluctance to publish on the anachronistic and negative influences of Islam and sharia law - especially as it affects women – and this while attempting to “assimilate” itself into Western democracies and modern legal systems.
And, the idea that media criticism of Islam or sharia law is somehow off limits – especially as it teaches or condones violence toward women - is also fundamentally inconsistent with our democratic values. This is an aspect of Islam or Sharia Law that can never be “assimilated” in Western democracies.
Daniel Gallington is the Senior Policy and Program Adviser at the George C. Marshall Institute in Arlington, Virginia.
An Islamic State jihadi beheads a man who was accused of witchcraft.
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.
It is what President François Hollande said after the massacre of journalists and Jews in Paris. And it is what David Cameron said yesterday after 38 people, mainly British, were murdered on a beach in Tunisia and a man was beheaded in France.
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.
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-Postenpublished 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 a few months ago, 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 offense-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. In December, 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 has, 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.
Douglas Murray is a writer, journalist and commentator. He was the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion from 2007 until 2011 and is currently an associate director of the Henry Jackson Society. Murray appears regularly in the British broadcast media and writes for a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Spectator.
This article appeared originally in The Spectator.
A woman wears a niqab in the West. (Photo: © Reuters) The author argues that if Canadians don’t fear Muslims, "We would not see more niqabs and burkas in Mississauga than in Pakistan."
Let’s be clear that Islamophobia is a growing, well-funded, well-“oiled” industry which is being used as a lethal weapon against the West.
As usual, massive confusion is created around the issues of Islamophobia where young vulnerable Muslim youth are made to believe that they are targets of an institutionalized hate-mongering campaign against Islam and Muslims.
They seem to have succeeded in “beating down critics” because there is an intentional muzzling of debate and discussion about Islam and Muslims. Any criticism against acts by Muslims is immediately dubbed “Islamophobia,” which petrifies the non-Muslim community into silence.
Recently in Ontario, Canada, there has been a challenging debate going on about a new sex-ed curriculum to be introduced in schools. Many religious groups are rallying against the program, including. In an interview with Joe Fiorito of The Toronto Star, Samira Kanji, who is President of the Noor Centre in Toronto (a Muslim place of worship and Learning), is quoted as saying, “I think the charge is being led by conservative Christian groups. For Muslims who join with them I say, be wary – you can’t have common ground with people who otherwise hate you.”
Should this be called Christian-o-phobia? I don’t hear any cried of dissent or victimhood from the conservative Christian community who have just been labelled as hate mongers by Kanji.
It seems there are double standards. Muslims can resort to racist rhetoric, but if anyone else speaks out against acts by Muslims, they are Islamophobic. This is obvious when there is no mention about the rise in antisemitism at places of education. (According to FBI crime statistics, of religious-oriented hate crimes, 62 percent are directed against Jews, and only 12 percent -- a distant second -- are directed against Muslims.)
The fact is that people of all faiths, at some point or the other, have disliked people who are not part of their own faith. History shows us that religious wars and conflicts have caused great rifts between the faithful. Some continue till today. There is criticism, bigotry, ridicule and satire against all the major religions of the world – not something I personally condone. While I firmly believe in freedom of speech, the reality is that bigotry does happens. Does this weaken any religion? No. Those who are deeply embedded in their faith and traditions don’t allow hecklers to dislodge them.
However, the only community that does not allow debate, discussion or critique are the Muslims who are led by Islamist organizations who believe that muzzling the truth gives them more control over the masses.
The attitude that is being propagated to the general Muslim public is that we are right: We are the chosen ones; our religion is the only true religion and we are under attack by the West.
So how does this play out in real life?
Let’s look at Muslim-upon-Muslim hate and violence. Most Muslims from one sect don’t accept or like Muslims from other sects to the extent that it can be played out in physical attacks on the minority Muslim group.
How is it then, that at Islamophobia conferences, the panelists don’t speak out about “Shiite-phobia,” “Ahmadi-phobia” or “Ismaili-phobia?” All three of these minority Muslim communities have had numerous people killed by other Muslims in the name of sectarian violence? I would call this “Other-Muslim-phobia” or “Minority-phobia.”
On June 6, 2015, a conference was held at a library in Mississauga, Ontario titled “Addressing Today’s Islamophobia.” In a report on the conference, Noor Javed, a Toronto Star reporter begins her story by writing, “Muslims across the GTA are feeling the effects of anti-Muslim sentiment in their day-to-day lives, spurred on by the rhetoric and policies of the Conservative government, but are too scared to speak out against it.”
Hussein Hamdani is quoted as saying, “They [Harper Government] want Canadians to be afraid of Muslims.” Hamdani is a lawyer who has worked with the Canadian government on anti-terror strategies as part of the cross-cultural roundtable and was later removed after reports that he had ties to radical organizations. He is also quoted as saying, “They can benefit if Canadians fear Muslims.” Is it a surprise that Mr. Hamdani believes Islamophobia is in the air?
Interestingly the main focus of the Islamophobia conference was to slam the current government which has introduced anti-terror legislation in the form of Bill C-51 and Bill S-7 which is “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act.” Obviously these are considered “Islamophobic” laws.
Panellist Khadijah Kanji complained that the government has dedicated vast amounts of money to honor-based violence when, according to her, only 17 women in Canada have been victims of honor-based violence. She says, “We are not just victimizing people, but we are hurting our entire societies by wrongfully allocating scarce resources.”
So now the Canadian Government, in its attempt to curb terrorism and violence against women, is also dubbed Islamophobic? None of the panellists mentioned that in a democracy, new laws are discussed and debated at length before they are implemented. There was no mention of the fact that the Canadian Prime Minister clearly said that Islamists – not Islam – is the biggest threat to Canada. Many Muslims say the same. So is truth considered Islamophobia?
Is it Islamophobia to critique the Toronto 18? Is it Islamophobia to slam the people who plot violence against the very land in which they live – the Via rail plot and Ottawa shootings?
Someone at the Islamophobia conference should have informed the attendees that Canadians don’t fear Muslims. If they did we would not see masses of Muslim women working in hijabs (sometimes provided by the workplace); we would not see more niqabs and burkas in Mississauga than in Pakistan; we would not see the level of accommodation for prayers and ablution facilities for Muslims and we would not see the abundance of halal meat stores dotting the landscape.
How is it that these privileges are never brought up at these conferences? It’s all about a rant to promote victimhood and more unreasonable accomodation.
Along with liberal, human rights-loving Muslims, most Canadians dislike acts of terrorism against a land we all call home; they shun the violence against women; they abhor honor-based crimes; they are uncomfortable with a push for over-accommodation and face coverings; they reject a parallel set of laws being pushed and most of all they want everyone to live and let live.
This is common sense – not Islamophobia!
Raheel Raza is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity. She is one of nine women's rights activists who took part in Clarion Project's film "Honor Diaries" which breaks the silence on honor violence against women.
Fireworks for the Fourth of July in Washington D.C.
This year the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, celebrated the Fourth of July a month early so as to avoid clashing with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Not only is this absurd, but what could have been a beautiful and respectful intercultural moment instead became a case study of the problematic and wrong-headed way Western leaders often engage with the Muslim world.
The Fourth of July, as America’s Independence Day, should be marked on that day by members of its diplomatic corps, who are America’s representatives around the world. After all, it is the job of American ambassadors to represent their country. That includes proudly celebrating American holidays and presenting the best of America to the world.
Moving Independence Day, on the other hand, belittles America’s standing in the world and shows others that America’s traditions, customs and festivals are negotiable.
The baffling part is that the Fourth of July is not in any way incompatible with Ramadan. One is a religious holy month that Muslims believe commemorates the first revelation of the Quran by Mohammed. The other is a national holiday celebrating independence.
Fourth of July celebrations could easily have been combined with an iftar dinner, the traditional Muslim post-Ramadan feast, taking place after dark and after the fasting has ended. Fireworks are better at night anyway.
Such a thing would have been an appropriate and encouraging demonstration of two cultures coming together in mutual respect to honor each other’s traditions.
Celebrating iftar and the Fourth of July one after the other should also have been no problem, if celebrating them both together seems too much like celebrating neither. If that would not have worked, a more low-key (and foodless) celebration during the day could easily have been arranged.
Many countries around the world celebrate such days and there is no indication that celebrating them causes offense to Muslims (or other faith groups).
Radical Islamists find national holidays offensive because they don’t believe in nations, holding instead that sovereignty belongs to Allah alone and power should be wielded in his name by the caliph. No doubt they will be overjoyed at the decision of America to move the Fourth of July.
But radical Islamists are not the group with which that America needs to be ingratiating itself. On the contrary, they have to be firmly and resolutely opposed to this group.
Moving Independence Day is purely symbolic and some might argue, trivial.
But in diplomacy, symbols are very important. This is symptomatic of a broader unease and inability of Western leaders to engage constructively with Islam. In this case they simply negated the American in deference to the Islamic – a pointless gesture which only serves to embolden radicals, infuriate anti-Muslim bigots and confuse moderates.
In other cases, such as Dutch MP Geert Wilders’ preposterous call to ban the Quran, Westerners have demanded that Muslims negate their tradition, religion and culture.
Both approaches are fundamentally flawed.
If we are serious about combatting radical Islamism and supporting open and tolerant Muslim societies then we have to be confident in the ability of two cultures to interact together.
Rather than being a fine example of cultural sensitivity, this moving of Independence Day sends the message that the organizers themselves do not believe that American Independence is compatible with Islam.
That is a far bigger problem than mere scheduling.
An Iranian Revolutionary Guards soldiers salutes in front of a picture of Ayatollah Ruhollah Moosavi Khomeini, the founder and first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Photo: © Reuters)
On Sunday, over 700 Canadians braved unseasonal cold and non-stop rain for four hours outside an Islamic centre north of Toronto. They came to protest a bizarre celebration honouring the life and deeds of the late Iranian theocratic dictator, Ayatollah Khomeini.
There were politicians from the left to the right, writers, poets, artists, former prisoners and exiles, grandmothers, refugees, victims of torture. They were mostly Iranian Canadians, but also Pakistanis, Jews, Kurds, orthodox Muslims, Marxists and Monarchists.
Inside the sprawling mosque other Canadians were bused in to participate in the macabre display of contempt for life and liberty.
It was encouraging to hear Liberal MPP Reza Moridi praise Prime Minister Harper for his stand against Iran. Such bipartisanship is rare. Denunciation of the Khomeini celebrations came from across the political spectrum, including Defense Minister Jason Kenney.
He tweeted: "Disturbing to see anyone in Canada celebrating the murderous depravity of Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal dictatorship."
But there is another reality that does not bode well for our country. After all, there are other Islamist centres across Canada where misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism and cursing of non-Muslims and secular Muslims are routine.
The difference being, these mosques are pro-Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood, rather than pro-Iran and the ayatollahs.
Apparently politicians have determined embracing pro-Saudi Islamists can generate votes while rejecting pro-Iran Islamists will cost almost none.
Why else would NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in March visit the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) mosque in Mississauga and declare: "For years, this mosque has played a vital role in Mississauga — promoting education and charity for all. And it's been a leader in promoting unity—a lesson so important to the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him"?
Perhaps Mulcair isn't aware of a 2005 story in the Globe and Mail identifying millions of dollars worth of Saudi funding to the ISNA mosque where he spoke. (The Globe reported the funding was touted on the ISNA's website although a spokesman officially denied it.)
Or a 2013 Toronto Star story on the Canada Revenue Agency revoking the charitable status of the ISNA Development Foundation after concluding it "facilitated the transfer of (charitable) resources that may have been used to support the efforts of a political organization . . . and its armed wing," in Pakistan. (The charity denied the allegation.)
Or that the parent organization of ISNA in the U.S. has been listed by the U.S. Justice Department as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a terror funding trial. ISNA was never charged with any crime, but prosecutors listed it as one of the "entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood." (A federal judge later ruled the document should not have been released and ISNA said its inclusion was guilt by association.) In 2013, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau spent an evening at ISNA's Islamic Centre with the congregation during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
This same organization Mulcair and Trudeau embraced recently refused to allow its boys' school soccer team to play against a Catholic school team with two girls on it.
Does this mean Islamism Saudi-style is fine, while Islamism, Khomeini-style is not?
Canadians need to put this question to all three political party leaders before this fall's election.
Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.
One of the cartoons from an anti-ISIS exhibition currently being staged in Iran
Here’s the basic idea of this post: Some 2,300 years ago Kauṭilya came up with the concept of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Or as he put it in his seminal treatise Arthasastra:
The king who is situated anywhere immediately on the circumference of the conqueror's territory is termed the enemy.
The king who is likewise situated close to the enemy, but separated from the conqueror only by the enemy, is termed the friend.
In 21st-Century Middle-Eastern realpolitik my suggestion is just forget it.
No more so is this the case than in the relationship between Iran and the Islamic State (ISIS). It would appear right now the terrorist Islamic Republic and the terrorist Caliphate are on a collision course. And given (as Iran claimed this very day) it is fighting the West’s battle against the evil caliph and his crazy followers, it stands to reason that we in the West should take Tehran’s side.
Indeed, this week Iran is hosting an anti-ISIS cartoon show, surely proving we should jump into bed with the smiling Iranian President Hasan Rouhani and his army of artists who are so keen to point out the blemishes of ISIS.
But hang on a minute.
Let’s back up before we dive under the covers for a quick cuddle with Rouhani or his boss, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
According to Yukiya Amano, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the IAEA is “still not in a position to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is [for a] peaceful purpose.”
That maybe the case but they don’t have nukes yet so why panic.
OK, so they hang gays and other miscreants – 1,000 in the last 18 months – but they are all Iranians, so it doesn’t really impact on me.
Via the Qods Forces, the Revolutionary Guards and a variety of other militaries like Hezbollah, Iran is force-feeding wars on the citizens of countries around the Middle East. But as long as these guys are killing one another I’m alright man.
No. You are most certainly not alright.
It’s time to wake up. Iranian terrorist operatives have carried out attacks in Asia, Africa, and South America. Oh, and let’s not forget American interests overseas.
All of this without a nuclear weapon. Just imagine what Iran would be like along with its proxies if it had the bomb – and the ICBMs it is developing. Soon enough Iran could possess missiles capable of hitting four continents, including the North American mainland.
It’s time to stand up and say no matter what the relationship is between Iran and the Islamic State, no matter how much Tehran claims it is fighting the good fight, I must be on the right side of history. I must say “no to a nuclear Iran.”
Before it’s too late.
An Egyptian Christian woman mourns the killing of Christians by Islamists in Egypt. (Photo: © Reuters)
According to a UNICEF report published this week, an estimated 800,000 children in and around Nigeria were forced from their homes by Boko Haram extremists. This report was published almost a year after the mass kidnappings of nearly 300 schoolgirls from Chibok. There are reports that many of these kidnapped girls were terrorized, raped and later forced to marry their captors.
On the other side of the world, the Taliban have been consistently targeting women and girls. Human Rights Watch's World Report for 2015 says that there continue to be threats to women's rights and freedom of expression. The report notes that other setbacks for women's rights in 2014 included a continuing series of attacks on, threats toward, and assassinations of, high-profile women, including policewomen and activists, to whom the government failed to respond with any meaningful measures to protect them in the future. Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head for asking for education, is a sad testimony to the Taliban's hatred toward educated and empowered women and its terrorist attacks on unarmed schoolgirls.
In between these two worlds, there exists yet another terrorist threat to women. The Islamic State (ISIS) has consistently targeted women in their brutal battle for control of the Muslim world. In this process, members of ISIS have perpetrated barbaric and horrific attacks on minority Yazidi women. Haleh Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, explains how the extremist group attacks women when they seize an area. "They usually take the older women to a makeshift slave market and try and sell them. The younger girls, basically they ... are raped or married off to fighters," Esfandiari said. "It's based on temporary marriages, and once these fighters have had sex with these young girls, they just pass them on to other fighters."
What do these three groups, Boko Haram, the Taliban and ISIS, which are terrorizing our world today, have in common?
- They are Islamists touting political Islam over the spiritual message and looking for political power and hegemony in the Muslim world
- Their ideology is: We are the only ones who know the truth; we will lead and others should follow without questioning our tactics, and only then will they find salvation (perhaps a few virgins thrown in for fun); The West is evil and we will teach them a lesson; our ideology must engulf the Muslim world with the establishment of a Caliphate.
- They work on creating terror among their victims by using tactics of intimidation and threats both physical and emotional.
- As they operate in countries where there is little accountability or law enforcement, they are able to get away with acts of violence and terror, mostly against women and minorities.
Those of us living comfortable lives in North America, sometimes think that this is all happening "out there somewhere," and that we are safe from these terrorists. We live in a country where we embrace liberal democracy, gender equality, freedom of speech and individual freedoms, so we naïvely think that everyone who comes here has the same values. Wrong. Those are the very values that the terrorists abhor, as they tell us time and again.
We must be aware that there are organizations and individuals right here in the United States and Canada who have exactly the same ideology as Boko Haram, the Taliban and ISIS. The only difference is that these North American organizations are required to follow the law of the land. They therefore cannot use violent measures against women and minorities quite so overtly while living here; so they resort to subversive tactics.
They nevertheless follow similar ideologies as other terrorist groups:
- Follow us -- we will represent you as we are the ones on the right path.
- Others (especially women) who are speaking of reform and change within the Muslim world are heretics and not really good Muslims because many of them do not wear a hijab.
- These "heretics" are friends with the "infidels" so how could they be true representatives of Islam or Muslims?
- We will tell you what "authentic" Islam is, and anyone questioning the status quo is an Islamophobic racist bigot, so we will help you play the "victim card."
This is a message that resonates not only from some pulpits, but from some Muslim organizations based in U.S. and Canada, which like to say that they are the voice of the majority of Muslims living here. What is frightening is how many people fall into the trap of believing them, including some of the mainstream media.
It is not surprising, therefore, that a film such as Honor Diaries, which exposes injustices and violence against women in Muslim-majority societies, is a slap in the face of some of these North American Muslim organizations. They cannot handle the truth; they have been caught, cornered and trapped. The only way to deflect the issue is to intimidate and silence those who speak out. Like Boko Haram, the Taliban and ISIS, they specifically target women because they think they are the weaker gender.
In many instances, these subversive organizations have succeeded in suppressing free speech by aggressively intimidating academic institutions. Recently Asra Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, experienced Duke students trying to cancel her speech.
Recently, at The University of South Dakota, one screening of Honor Diaries was cancelled, and at another screening, there were threats and intimidation toward the faculty and the speaker.
This threatening, silencing and censoring is the other face of terrorism; it is no wonder that one such organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, famous for trying to silence free speech, finds its name on the terrorist list published even by the United Arab Emirates.
Raheel Raza is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity. She is one of nine women's rights activists who took part in Clarion Project's film "Honor Diaries" which breaks the silence on honor violence against women.
This article appeared originally in GatestoneInstitute.org
Sky News' camera panned down when a former contributor to Charlie Hebdo tried to show the cover of the first magazine published after the attack.
In 1836, the House of Representatives passed a resolution known as the ‘Gag Rule’ that shelved all petitions relating to slavery without hearing them, thus forbidding open discussion on the issue.
During this time, scores of pro-slavery individuals would reference passages such as, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling" (Ephesians 6:5) in defense of slavery. John Quincy Adams was one of the few congressmen who were adamant on discussing the issue of slavery.
Using a variation of tactics in attempting to read slavery petitions on the floor of the House, Adams retorted, “Am I gagged or am I not?” when Congress attempted to silence him from reading anti-slavery petitions. Adams understood that open dialogue was imperative in discussing critical issues. The Gag Rule would finally be annulled in 1844.
In the past couple decades, a newer, more subtle “gag rule” has slowly come into effect. This gag has been placed on the mass media by bullies who threaten violent rioting and even murder over cartoon drawings.
The majority of mass media companies have let pusillanimity – in the guise of religious sensitivity – triumph over objective reporting. This has been done on such an outrageous level that I am convinced there will be future college courses focused on the political correctness of our times – how and why it came about – and its nocuous implications.
Earlier this year, the office of Charlie Hedbo was attacked by those who explicitly said they conducted the operation to “avenge the prophet.” In the wake of this event, the media had feigned solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and claimed that they supported free speech, but they would not even show the cartoons that had prompted such violence.
How is this not relevant to the news story? The Associated Press, CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox News and The New York Times all decided to not show the cartoon images. Strangely, The New York Times had no problem showing images of the blood bath at Charlie Hebdo’s office. Apparently this was relevant.
Perhaps the zenith of this distressing cowardice was the interview by Sky News with former Charlie Hebdo contributor, Caroline Fourest (see video below).
Such appeasement will merely vitalize the radical Islamists and indubitably encourage future threats. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali correctly stated after the attack, “The more we oblige, the more we self-censor, the more we appease, the bolder the enemy gets.”
Thus, it should be no surprise that a month after the Charlie Hebdo attack, another terrorist attack followed at a free speech meeting in Copenhagen where a famous (or infamous) cartoonist was in attendance. The attack left two dead and six wounded. Now, two gunmen opened fire at a “Draw Muhammad Contest” outside of Dallas, Texas.
Parents often tell their children that when dealing with a bully, the worst thing one can do is to appease him or her. The best thing one can do is stand up to the bully.
At the moment, Islam is the last mainstream religion where millions of adherents react bellicosely when their religion is ridiculed.
Indeed, we are not far removed from the world-wide protests by Islamists in response to the tacky video that was uploaded to YouTube in 2012 entitled, “The Innocence of Muslims,” where hundreds were injured and more than 50 lives were lost.
Furthermore, it is hard to forget the rioting, burning and vandalizing of embassies by Islamists in response to a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Ultimately, at least 200 people were killed as a result of those protests; a few Muslim countries even recalled their ambassadors from Denmark.
All ideas – religious or not – need to be openly questioned, ridiculed and debated. Any idea - particularly religious – should be able to withstand a few cartoon drawings.
Moreover, no one suffers more from radical Islam than Muslims. If the mainstream media outlets want to help expedite the process of ending such radical ideologies and open room for discussing critical issues, they must not give in to bullies. They must put an end to this current gag rule.
Bill Ozanick is a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (class of 2017) in Washington, DC. He has written opinion pieces for The Malaysian Insider and the Diplomatic Courier. He can be followed on Twitter @BillOzanick
Still from a Public Service Announcement in Egypt.
At the end of April Clarion Project spoke with leading Egyptian women’s rights lawyer Reda el-Danbouki. We asked him about the situation women face in Egypt, which was ranked the worst place to be a woman in the Arab world in 2013.
He told us that women face harassment and worse on a daily basis, but are reluctant to go to the police.
By way of explanation, he shared a personal story of a close friend of his, Lamar aged 25, who was abused in the street and found the police to be on the side of her harassers rather than helping her. They dragged her father down to the station and proceeded to intimidate and insult her until she left the police station in tears.
We got back in touch with Reda and Lamar to ask her some more questions about her life. Not only did she answer our questions, but she told us what has happened to her since.
In helping bring us Lamar's story, Reda told us that her story brought him to tears.
(Lamar’s name has been changed for her protection.)
How did it make you feel to be disbelieved by the authorities whose job it is to protect you?
Lamar: I went to the police and I imagined that they would help me, but I found that they have solidarity with harassers. They also harassed me themselves.
How often do women get harassed just walking the streets? Have many of your friends had similar experiences?
Lamar: Women are being harassed every day, every hour and every minute. I am being harassed by my co-workers and sometimes even by my manager. I am being harassed on public transportation, on the streets, while coming back home and even by my neighbors. My friends suffer the same problem.
Who do you feel in Egypt cares about these issues that you can turn to and talk with?
Lamar: The only ones who care about this subject are civil society organizations, and of course I can also talk to Reda el-Danbouki.
Why did the police bring your father to the station?
Lamar: The police insisted that my father will come in order to humiliate me and force me to withdraw the complaint even though I am perfectly capable of filing a complaint and I have the right to do so.
Is harassment more common at certain hours of the day and in specific places?
Lamar: There is no specific time for harassment. It happens everywhere and all the time.
How does the legal system deal with cases of harassment if they reach court?
Lamar: If a case gets to the court, most of the time molesters are found not guilty. It is like the judges encourage molestation. In very rare, rare cases you have verdicts against them.
Why do you think harassment is so widespread in Egypt?
Lamar: Harassment and molestation is widespread in Egypt because we live in a patriarchal society. They think that we women are their property, it’s like we are the food they eat or just a fruit they buy. We are merely bodies in their eyes, they see us only as breasts and behinds. They don’t see our minds and they don’t care about it.
What do you think can bring about change in Egypt and stop this rampant harassment?
Lamar: Things can be changed in Egypt if we prepare the women and empower them. This has to come from the decision-makers. We also need to have a female police force that will deal with these issues, meet with victims of harassment and help them.
The youth civil society organizations have the ability to stop it, but most of them are working without any support. They desperately need more money and to have broader reach.
After answering our questions Lamar told us what has happened to her since she last spoke with Reda el-Danbouki to tell him about her harassment. This is what she said:
For the last two days my father has been beating me severely, and he doesn’t allow me to leave the house. I called the police and told them that I was imprisoned, that my father beats me and also gave them the address of the house, but the police didn’t respond. One senior police officer told me “you must have done something bad and that’s why he beats you.” He didn’t help me at all and he slammed down the phone.
(Photo © Wikimedia Commons / Elliot Moore)
I am out of the country at the moment and I see that Ed Miliband has used the opportunity to ‘say’ in an interview with the ‘Muslim News’ that he will outlaw ‘Islamophobia’ if he becomes Prime Minister. I use ‘say’ because ‘Muslim News’ has never seemed to me an especially reputable outlet for news, Muslim or otherwise. And I say ‘Islamophobia’ in scare quotes because, well, the term deserves them.
There are many things to say about this, but allow me confine myself to three points:
- If Ed Miliband does become Prime Minister and chooses to make ‘Islamophobia’ illegal would he mind letting us know what he thinks ‘Islamophobia’ is? After all a ‘phobia’ is an irrational fear. The Charlie Hebdo staff were often called ‘Islamophobes’ before (and after) two Islamists went into their magazine’s office and shot most of them in the head. If there is such a thing as ‘Islamophobia’ and it is indeed an ‘irrational’ fear, would Ed mind telling us whether it was ‘rational’ or ‘irrational’ of the Charlie Hebdo staff to be fearful of elements of Islam? An answer before 7 May would be helpful.
- I cannot help noticing that some actual, serious ‘hate-speech’ occurred while Labour were last in power, yet nothing seemed to have been done. Consider this speech by Michael Adebolajo at a ‘Unite Against Fascism’ rally in 2009. What else was Adebolajo doing here other than inciting anti-non-Muslim violence and prejudice? Of course Michael Adebolajo actually followed words with deeds and went on to behead Drummer Lee Rigby. Where were the hate-speech laws that day?
- And finally, I hate to grandstand, but I suppose I should point out that if Ed Miliband were to become Prime Minister and were to decide to make what people call ‘Islamophobia’ illegal then I’m very happy to test the law straight away. Indeed I will immediately put on a gathering of academics, writers, Quranic-scholars and philosophers – Muslim and non-Muslim – to discuss Islam. It is possible that some of those gathered may disagree with the foundational claims of Islam. I, for instance, may repeat my belief – not being a Muslim – that it is highly unlikely that the Quran was ‘dictated’ by God. This is not only my belief. It is also the belief of Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, Christians (some Anglican priests excepted), atheists and ex-Muslims, to name only a few minority groups. And so the problem Prime Minister Ed will find is that:
a) What I am saying is true.
b) The ‘Islamophobia’ industry will continue to describe this truth as ‘Islamophobia’.
c) Ed will have made ‘Islamophobia’ illegal.
d) Ed will have made the truth illegal.
This will be a problem, won’t it?
Anyhow – I must say that I’m not at all disheartened by the news from my homeland. Indeed I now have a sneaking desire for Ed to become PM and am rather looking forward to the results.