Karachi's Empress Market at Sunset (Photo: WikiCommons by Cyclops1789)
If you haven’t heard of Karachi, the world’s second-most populated city, ask your grandparents.
They may have heard of it referred to as the “City of Lights.”
At the time of the British Raj (Empire), it was the most cosmopolitan metropolis in India, a place that boasted of being the stopover city of choice for multi-day flights from Britain to Australia.
Today it is shunned by European and American airline companies.
Even after the end of the Raj, when Karachi became the capital of the new, artificially-created Islamic state of Pakistan, its majesty remained undiminished.
Catholic churches, Baha’i Temples and Zoroastrian places of worship were part of the city’s religious infrastructure, despite its overwhelming Muslim population.
Karachi today is a time bomb waiting to explode, the consequences of which will spell disaster in the region and beyond.
Today, 20,000 Pakistan army troops from the dominant northern province of Punjab are patrolling the city, arresting people in an attempt to liquidate the most popular political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
MQM followers - representing the Urdu-speaking community that migrated to Pakistan from India in 1947 - are no angels.
But in the land that nurtured the likes of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, they form the only party that is openly secular and has stood up to the Islamists.
So far the Pakistan military, operating under the innocuous and harmless-sounding label of “Rangers” has abducted 4,000 young men, according to the MQM and are also alleged to have conducted extra-judicial killings.
Last month, the Washington Post covered the troubles of Karachi and interviewed a number of MQM activists, who claimed the Army tortured them.
One victim told the Post, he and his brother were held for a week, never charged, but tortured and threatened with castration.
“(T)hey beat us without any reason ... They said, ‘If you are married, we will make you impotent.'"
The military versus MQM clash in Karachi has now spilled into the international arena.
Party leader Altaf Hussain, living in exile in Britain, has called for intervention by the United Nations, NATO and India to stop the persecution of Pakistan’s Urdu-speaking minority.
On July 30, the MQM sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, asking him to intervene.
The Pakistan government in Islamabad denies the allegations.
It claims the actions by its military in Karachi do not target any single political party or ethnic group, that the objective is simply to establish law and order.
However, while the military rounds up MQM workers, a Wall Street Journal report from Karachi suggests it is also facilitating the establishment of an Islamist militia in the city.
Radicals from the Islamist Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) are moving into strongholds of the secular MQM. Far from facing any obstacles, the Islamists’ leader, Ahmed Ludhianvi, has police protection, as do other senior ASWJ officials.
For those who were born in Karachi, developments back home are deeply worrying.
Sohail Raza who heads “Muslims Facing Tomorrow” in Canada told me: “Its very worrying that no one seems bothered with the Islamist threats.”
He cited in particular the nonchalant attitude adopted by Canada's New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair and worries that a man who says the fight against Islamism is not Canada’s fight, could end up as Canada’s next prime minister.
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.
Ayatollah Boroujerdi before his imprisonment and in his cell.
Editor's note: The following is a letter written from prison from Ayatollah Hossein-Kazamani Boroujerdi, who was a senior (Shiite) member of the clergy in Iran.
Boroujerdi is currently in the ninth year of an 11-year sentence for advocating for the "radical" position of separation of state and religion in Iran as well as speaking against Islamism and the country's leaders.
He has been held in solitary confinement, malnurished, tortured, beaten and exposed to chemical agents. His wife has been raped in fron of other family members. He now suffers permanent neurological damage and medical help has been denied to him.
The following is his letter written to his attorney's:
To the Attention of my Dear Representatives and Wonderful Attorneys
With greetings and respect and wishes of increasing success,
As you are aware, I have been at the service of religion, minus politics, since twenty years now, at the beginning of which, due to my independent religious thoughts and opinions, I was imprisoned at the secret prison of Towhid, which is located next to the central post office, and was tortured with hideous devices, destined for a physical and mental breakdown; and fourteen years before that, following a non-political monotheistic publication, I was also imprisoned for a few months in ward 209 of the Ministry of Intelligence, and was subjected to harassment and persecution. Also, during these nine years, as a defender of human rights, I have experienced all kinds of torment to the point that I have lost all of my health, and have no hope to continue my life – my legs are becoming paralyzed, my eyes are becoming blind, my lungs are in danger of failing, my heart is on a path to a heart attack, and my brain is bringing me closer to death. Nine years - every second of which has been accompanied by a mountain of excruciating pressures.
It is a pity that despite my fame and my out-spread insights and diversity of thought, no doctor from international institutions, or an attorney from legal and judicial organizations have yet came to visit me. I sometimes think that if in my place, an animal was subjected to the brutality of the Islamic regime in Iran, the animal protection organizations would have cried out a thousand times. But alas! Defending a religious leader who does not wish to sell himself to the rulers of the brutal regime in Iran is ignored and no effective and appropriate action is taken for him.
Since two decades my family have been distressed and upset – my children are deprived from continuing their education and suffer from lack of livelihood. Ten years ago, before the aggression of the rulers of the regime started against me, I had a unique private library that contained antique books and rare to find manuscripts, which during those days were evaluated to be worth ten billion toomans; and one of the directors of the Astan Quds Razavi (charitable foundation in Mashhad) had announced his interest in buying them and had started negotiations in view of transferring them to the relative library, which coincided with the regime’s reaction and as a result was plundered by the security forces.
Now that the subject of the human rights in our country has turned into a new and serious chapter for the United Nations, and has become the first subject of interest for the Security Council observers after the end of nuclear negotiations, please follow up on my pending case in an open and suitable manner, and please do not delay, as my slogans are directed towards saving the Middle East, and my divine insight for reviewing the basis or the infrastructure of the Quran, which will be a means of putting a damper on the terrorist actions of extremist Islamists. This oppressed, alienated and helpless prisoner is expecting credit, economic and media assistance from all protectors of Justice and the heralds and preachers of peace and those advocating freedom of speech and expression.
This humble servant of religion and humanity shakes the hands of all my supporters, friends and companions and those in agreement with my humanitarian line of thought, and in this regard I bow and prostrate in front of them. I hope that the vital issue of freedom, in all its aspects, will be brought to the attention of Iranians residing abroad, and our nostalgic compatriots may understand my daily life, and will not forget this victim of political Islam, and in turn will become the echo of my cries.
Seyed Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi
Iran- Tehran- Evin Prison
Clarion has interviewed Taybeh Hosseini, President of the Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group, who graciously allowed us to publish the letter. Read the interview here to learn more about this organization and its work.
A protest in Bangladesh of Saudi Arabia's penchant for beheading.
Saudi Arabia recently preached to the international community about the need to confront “intolerance, extremism and human rights violations.”
If this sounds surreal, consider the following excerpts from a July 26 report in the Saudi Gazette(emphasis added):
Saudi Arabia has reiterated its call on the international community to criminalize any actvilifying religious beliefs and symbols of faith as well as all kinds of discrimination based on religion.
Saudi Arabia wants Western cartoonists, comedians, and others—people who represent only their individual selves—to stop mocking the religious beliefs and symbols of Islam, even as the Arabian kingdom’s owninstitutionalized policy is to vilify and discriminate against the religious beliefs and symbols of all other faiths.
Not a single non-Muslim worship building is allowed there; the highest Islamic authority decreed that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.” Whenever Christians are suspected of meeting in a house for worship—or as one Saudi official once complained, “plotting to celebrate Christmas”—they arearrested and punished.
Any cross or other non-Muslim symbol found is confiscated and destroyed. Anyone caught trying to smuggle Bibles or any other “publications that have prejudice to any other religious belief other than Islam” can be executed.
In 2011, a Colombian soccer-player “was arrested by the Saudi moral police after customers in a Riyadh shopping mall expressed outrage over the sports player’s religious tattoos, which included the face of Jesus of Nazareth on his arm.” In 2010 a Romanian player kissed the tattoo of a cross he had on his arm after scoring a goal, causing public outrage.
And yet, Saudi Arabia has the unmitigated gall to ask the West—where Islam is freely practiced, where mosques and Korans proliferate, and where Muslims are granted full equality—to cease “discrimination based on religion.”
Continues the Saudi Gazette:
Addressing an international symposium on media coverage of religious symbols based on international law, which started in this French city on Saturday, a senior Saudi official said the Kingdom emphasized years ago that the international community must act urgently to confront ethnic, religious and cultural intolerance, which has become widespread in all communities and peoples of the world.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, few countries exhibit as much “ethnic, religious and cultural intolerance” as does the Arabian kingdom. Along with the aforementioned discrimination and intolerance against all other religions, Saudi Arabia is notoriously clannish and racist.
Ten percent of the population is denied equal rights because of their race; black men are barred from holding many government positions; black women are often put on trial for “witchcraft”; castrated African slaves are sold on Facebook in the birthplace of Islam, and its princes are known to beat their black slaves to death. Human Rights Watch has described conditions for foreign workers in Saudi Arabia as resembling slavery.
Worse of all is if you’re black and Christian. After 35 Christian Ethiopians were arrested and abused in prison for almost a year, simply for holding a private house prayer, one of them said after being released: “They [Saudis] are full of hatred towards non-Muslims.”
This is unsurprising considering that the Saudi education system makes it a point to indoctrinate Muslim children with hatred, teaching that “the Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians.”
According to Saudi novelist Hani Naqshabandi, “Our religious institutions do not give us room to exercise free thought…. They [Saudi institutions] said that the Christian is an infidel, a denizen of hell, an enemy to Allah and Islam. So we said, ‘Allah’s curse on them.’”
Again, bear in mind that all this is official Saudi policy—not the “free expressions” of individuals, which the Saudis are condemning as creating “ethnic, religious and cultural intolerance” around the world.
The Saudi Gazette goes on to quote one Abdulmajeed Al-Omari, “a senior Saudi official.” Speaking at the recent international symposium in France which hosted representatives from 16 European nations, he said that Western “freedom of expression without limits or restrictions” are “abuses [that] bred intolerance, extremism and human rights violations…”
Again, it bears reemphasizing that in the West individuals are free to express themselves. And it’s just that—expression, not action (as in murder, terrorism, rape, enslavement, church bombings, or the slaughter of “apostates”).
As for Western governments, thanks to political correctness, not only do they discourage freedom of expression but honest, objective talk concerning Islam is suppressed (hence every Western leader maintains that ISIS “has nothing to do with Islam,” AKA, “the religion of peace”).
Meanwhile, it is precisely Islamic teachings that breed “intolerance, extremism and human rights violations,” and not just in Saudi Arabia but all throughout the Muslim world. And it is precisely these teachings that prompt Western peoples to criticize Islam, including through cartoons.
None of this is enough to embarrass the Saudis from their farce:
Al-Omari said the Saudi participation in the symposium falls in line with its efforts to support the principles of justice, humanity, promotion of values and the principles of tolerance in the world as well as to emphasize the importance of respecting religions and religious symbols.
Actually, because of Saudi Arabia’s absolute lack of “justice, humanity, promotion of values and the principles of tolerance,” even the U.S. State Department lists the home of Islam and Muhammad as one of eight “Countries of Particular Concern.”
Thus in ultra-hypocritical manner, Saudi Arabia asks the international community to stop exercising freedom of expression—even as it openly and unapologetically persecutes non-Muslims, discriminates against non-Saudis, and violates the most basic human rights on a daily basis.
It still remains to determine which is more surreal, more unbelievable: that Saudi Arabia, which tops the charts of state-enforced religious intolerance and ethnic discrimination, is calling on the West “to confront ethnic, religious and cultural intolerance,” or that the West deigns to participate in such disgracefully hypocritical forums.
Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War in Christians. Follow Raymond Ibrahim on Twitter and Facebook.
Rev Majed el-Shafie is a human rights advocate and the founder of One Free World International, which campaigns for the rights of persecuted religious minorities worldwide. He spoke with Clarion about his recent trip to Iraq and what he saw there.
Tortured and sentenced to death in his native Egypt for his conversion to Christianity, Rev Majed knows first-hand the suffering caused by religious persecution. One Free World holds that “The ability to believe (or to choose not to believe) in something beyond our material existence, in accordance with our individual conscience, and to manifest that belief in practices and observances is one of the most essential distinguishing characteristics of the human race.”
He recently travelled to Iraq on a mission to interview and rescue Yazidi girls who had been captured by the Islamic State and sold into sex-slavery. He met with many girls who had suffered all kinds of trauma. One 9 year old girl related how she had been raped 20 times a day.
Rev Majed and One World International rescued many girls through back channels, buying them out of captivity. Once rescued, they are moved to a safe house run with a local partner organization where they can rest and begin to heal. Different girls all suffer different levels of trauma and require delicate and different approaches to healing.
In addition to those he rescued some 400 Yazidi girls have escaped, out of an estimated 7,000.
Many are rejected by their communities once they return. This is because of concepts of honor – a girl who has been raped is regarded as tainted or damaged. The attack is not just on her, but is also perceived to be on the honor of male members of the community. This is worse if the girls return pregnant.
Although the abuses of the Islamic State are horrific, he highlighted that the Iranian sponsored shiite-militias can be just as badd. He said "the shiite militias and ISIS are two sides of the same coin."
Rev Majed told Clarion that it is a top priority that girls be allowed asylum into countries like the US and Canada, so that they can start a new life away from community stigma and from physical danger.
Immigration lawyers and those with political connections are needed to raise awareness of the plight of these girls. In democracies governments are obliged to listen to the concerns of their citizens. Therefore, he said, it is incumbent upon citizens of democracies to demand that their governments provide refuge for Yazidi girls traumatized by ISIS.
Once safely in their new country, these young girls will have an opportunity to heal and to start their lives afresh.
He is a leading voice in the fight to gain asylum for survivors of Islamic State sex slavery and he will be tireless in that struggle.
But he needs your help.
Find out more about One Free World International.
Islamic State Jihadi (Screen shot from an Islamic State video)
The Western world’s flaccid response to threats posed by the forces of Islamism is best described by the British author Theodore Dalrymple in his book, The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism.
Referring to the Danish cartoon controversy of 2005, Dalrymple writes, we are “virtually giving in to demands that certain important subjects (like Islamism) henceforth be placed, de facto, off limits for discussion.”
Dalrymple writes it was obvious that for the West, “the quiet life was clearly preferred to the costs of securing a free one; if only we appeased enough, there would be peace in our time.”
This political cowardice within the Left, camouflaged in a burka of anti-war rhetoric, is visible right here in Canada as well.
Both NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have demonstrated the symptoms of appeasement
In an interview with Maclean’s on June 29, Mulcair criticized Canada’s role in the coalition now fighting Islamic State (ISIS), claiming, “This is not our fight.”
That may be true for Mulcair, but other Canadians have a more global view of our tiny planet.
We feel for the families of bloggers beheaded in Bangladesh and the Kurds slaughtered in Kobani.
Imagine telling the parents of the girls kidnapped by Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadis that their fight “is not our fight.”
For someone like myself who has been on the Left all my life, spent time in prison as a socialist, fought for gay rights in hostile Islamic communities and who lives under death threats, Mulcair’s words were a betrayal.
At one time, internationalism was the hallmark of democratic socialists. Today many on the Left have become Sharia Bolsheviks.
It wasn’t just Mulcair’s Maclean’s remark that was offensive to many of us who have suffered the indignities of Islamism.
During the leaders’ debate, the NDP leader quipped:
“(W)e know that a lot of the horrors that we are seeing are the direct result of the last misguided war (U.S invasion of Iraq) …”
I was stunned. Here was a man vying to be Prime Minister of Canada reading a script whose logic could have been taken straight out of the Muslim Brotherhood hymnbook.
In effect, Mulcair was saying it was the fault of America that ISIS was beheading fellow Muslims, pushing homosexuals off the roofs of buildings and making sex slaves out of captured, non-Muslim female prisoners.
Nonsense. Jihadis have been doing this since the dawn of Islam.
I doubt Mulcair knows the recent bloodbath by ISIS in an Iraqi city was not the first such action by jihadis.
On April 21, 1802, 200 years before the United States invaded Iraq, jihadis from the first Saudi state ravaged the Iraqi city of Karbala, killing 5,000 fellow Muslims, plundering the city and destroying the 1,000-year-old tomb of the grandson of Prophet Mohammed.
As for that other man seeking to replace Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s positions on Canada’s and the West’s national security reflect his fear of offending Islamofacists.
When CBC’s Terry Milewski asked Trudeau, “If you don’t want to bomb a group as ghastly as ISIS, when would you ever support real military action?”, Trudeau’s response was shocking. “That’s a nonsensical question,” he retorted.
In 1988, I put up my federal NDP sign, “This time it’s Ed” on my front lawn and voted for Ed Broadbent and his party.
This time, I will not vote NDP.
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.
It has been almost two weeks since the Chattanooga terrorist Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez issued the equivalent of an Islamic declaration of war on the United States in a text message before killing four U.S. Marines and a Navy petty officer.
Yet there are still some Americans refusing to see the writing on the wall, and wondering about the 24-year-old jihadi terrorist’s “real” motives.
It reads: “Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, I [Allah] will indeed declare war against him.” This particular Hadith is from a collection of the 40 most important sayings of Prophet Mohammed.
The text message was not the only clue to Abdulazeez’s jihadi frame of mind. In a “manifesto” posted in early July, the mass murderer quoted Prophet Mohammed as saying for Muslims, life on earth should be seen as a life in a prison, but for non-believers (Christians, Jews, Hindus, pagans and atheists) earth is the Paradise.
This is a common call by Islamists when recruiting suicide bombers or jihadi fighters for the Islamic State, al-Qaida, the Taliban and Boko Haram.
In essence, they claim earth is merely a transit lounge in a journey that will take Muslims to eternal life in Paradise, surrounded by all things that were forbidden to them in this world. Abdulazeez mocked Muslims (like me) who separate Islam from politics, saying such a separation was contrary to Islamic practice.
He wrote in his manifesto:
“So this picture that you have in your mind that the Prophet’s companions were people being like priests living in monasteries is not true. All of them [were] leaders of an army at the frontlines … very involved in establishing Islam in the world … Every one of them fought Jihad for the sake of Allah. Every one of them had to make sacrifices in their lives.”
All of this evidence stares us in the face, yet we are now being asked to believe a statement from Abdulazeez’s family claiming that their son was a depressed youth on drugs.
The family claim they sent him to Jordan, so he could get away from the influence of the bad company he kept.
I find that hard to believe given Abdulazeez’s own declarations, plus the fact his father was investigated twice by the FBI for sending money to questionable charities in the Middle East — he was eventually cleared — and wanted to marry a second wife in the Palestinian Territories, saying this was allowed by Islamic law.
There is something wrong in America when as senior a person as Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is unwilling to conclude the mass murderer was a Muslim.
John Berman of CNN asked Fuentes “Now that we have the name (Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez) the key questions are what?” Fuentes replied, “I know … what the name sounds like, but we don’t know that it’s a Muslim name. We know it’s an Arabic name. On the opposite side are those like former Democratic presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark, who has proposed the internment of U.S. Islamists identified as anti-American.
For 15 years now the question, “How to combat Islamism” has been avoided in the West so as not to offend the powerful urban Islamist lobbyists and vote banks.
Here are three suggestions that the United States, Canada and Europe should implement:
1. Interview and debrief every adult male arriving alone from Arab countries, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Somalia, irrespective of religion, colour or nationality.
2. Tell every mosque in North America and Europe to end any and all derogatory references to “kufaar” (Christians, Jews, Hindus and atheists) including in ritual prayers, or lose their charitable status.
3. End cash donations in mosques and overseas donations from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab sources.
If the West does not take these steps now, there will eventually be a very large appetite for Clark’s harsh prescription to prevent Islamist terror on Western soil.
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.
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.