Hundreds of Chinese said fighting alongside Islamic State in Middle East
China has expressed concern about the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East, nervous about the effect it could have on its Xinjiang region.
AN ISIS member rides on a rocket launcher in Raqqa in Syria two months ago. (photo credit:REUTERS)
BEIJING - About 300 Chinese people are fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a Chinese state-run newspaper said on Monday, a rare tally that is likely to fuel worry in China that militants pose a threat to security.
China has expressed concern about the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East, nervous about the effect it could have on its Xinjiang region. But it has also shown no sign of wanting to join US efforts to use military force against the group.
Chinese members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) are traveling to Syria via Turkey to join the Islamic State, also known as IS, the Global Times, a tabloid run by China's ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, said.
'According to information from various sources, including security officers from Iraq's Kurdish region, Syria and Lebanon, around 300 Chinese extremists are fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria,' the Global Times reported.
Chinese officials blame the ETIM for carrying out attacks in Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people. But the government has been vague about how many people from China are fighting in the Middle East.
In July, China's envoy to the Middle East, Wu Sike, cited media reports when he said about 100 Chinese citizens, most of them from the ETIM, were in the Middle East fighting or being trained.
China says ETIM militants are also holed up along the ungoverned Afghan-Pakistani border and want to create a separate state in Xinjiang, though many foreign experts doubt the group's cohesiveness.
Instead, human rights advocates argue that economic marginalization of Uighurs and curbs on their culture and religion are main causes of ethnic violence in Xinjiang that has killed hundreds of people in the past two years.
China has criticized the Turkish government for offering shelter to Uighur refugees who have fled China through southeast Asia and said such a channel creates security risks.
Turkish imam joins ISIL in Syria, deputy PM confirms
- LOCAL - Hurriyet
An imam who worked at a mosque in the Çanakkale province of northwestern Turkey has joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), daily Taraf cited Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç as saying on Dec. 12, adding that the imam has been removed from his post.
Turkey and EU: The Kodak-Moment
by Burak Bekdil • December 14, 2014 at 5:00 am
The truth is, Turkey's longer-than-half a-century journey to full EU membership offers volumes of thick picture books full of similar smiling faces, most of them no longer alive. But both the club and the applicant know that Turkey has been dragged planets away from the EU in terms of culture and socio-politics. Turkey is sometimes even hostile to Europe.
While the Europeans wasted their time in self-deception – that Turkey's Islamists were in fact pro-EU, post-Islamist reformers – Turkey was implementing a plan to turn into, not a member of, but a Muslim challenge to what its leaders privately view as a hostile 'Christendom.'
Turkey, under Islamist rule, has keenly pretended that it wants EU membership, while in reality deeply disliking 'Christian' culture; and the EU leaders have pretended that Turkey would one day join the club, while knowing that it would not.
Where Europe meets Turkey. Posing in this December 8 photo are, from left to right: Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations; Volkan Bozkır, Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs; Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. (Image source: EU)
Judging from fancy, Kodak-moment photos that appeared in the press over the past week as well as related statements from European Union [EU] and Turkish bigwigs, one could be tempted to think that things are coming up roses between Ankara and Brussels. Facts, as often, are quite different from what smiling faces and repeated optimism reveal.
On Dec. 6, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, accompanied by nine Turkish cabinet members, visited his Greek counterpart, Antonis Samaras, in Athens, where the leaders of these traditional Aegean rivals happily glossed over major differences and expressed support for closer relations.
Pakistan: School textbooks promote violent jihad
PESHAWAR: As teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai prepares to receive her Nobel Peace Prize, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — her hometown — is pushing for Islamic content in school textbooks that critics claim promotes violent jihad.
Turkey no Friend of the West
by Tarek Fatah The Toronto Sun December 2, 2014 : Middle East Forum
Earlier on Friday, the pontiff met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In an address following the meeting, the Pope condemned the Islamic State's (ISIS) assault on Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.
On the same day the pontiff met president Erdogan, the Turkish leader delivered a blistering attack on the West, claiming, 'They (the West) look like friends, but they want us dead — they like seeing our children die. How long will we stand that fact?'
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported Erdogan as saying: 'Believe me, they don't like us.'
In an incendiary attack on his NATO partners, Erdogan said they 'love oil, gold, diamonds, and the cheap labor force of the Islamic world.'
… Pope could have taken a less appeasing attitude...
At the state level, countries like Turkey and Qatar are behind the phenomenon of the Islamic State.
Elsewhere, Saudi billionaires and institutions fund mosques and Islamist organizations in Canada and the U.S.,….
… He should have raised the issue of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, which for almost 1,000 years was Orthodox Christianity's Kaaba so to speak, but which was forcibly converted into a mosque by Muslim invaders in 1453 Ottoman conquest...
If Islamists and leaders of Islamic countries truly wished to reciprocate to the pope's gestures with an olive branch, what better way than to hand the Hagia Sophia back to Orthodox Christianity.
Appeasement of the Islamists only strengthens them and weakens the Muslims fighting jihadists on the military and ideological battlefields.
Tarek Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, host of a Sunday afternoon talk show on Toronto's NewsTalk1010 AM Radio, and a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.
UK: Britain's Terror Addiction
by Samuel Westrop • December 4, 2014 at 5:00 am
Debates over the causes of radicalization and extremism in Britain invariably focus on how to tackle support for groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. But why is it that Hamas and PFLP are deemed moderate regardless of how many civilians they murder?
'God be praised for the martyrdom operation in Jerusalem and news of the state of the killed and injured.' — Interpal partner Ahmed Brahimi, in response to the murder of Israeli Jews praying in a synagogue.
The response to the murder of four Israelis praying at a synagogue in Jerusalem on November 18 was, in some quarters, one of jubilation.
Although Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the murders, officials of his political party, Fatah, were careful to explain on Palestinian television that the terrorists were 'blessed…soldiers of Allah' and that Abbas had only issued a condemnation for 'diplomatic reasons... [he] is forced to speak this way to the world.'
Other Palestinian groups were less oblique. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which claimed responsibility for the murderous attack, described the terror operation as 'heroic' and handed out sweets on the streets of Gaza.
Hamas praised the attack and described the murders as 'a quality development... an appropriate and functional response to the crimes of the occupation.'
Qatar and Terror
by Denis MacEoin
November 22, 2014 at 5:00 am
Although outwardly more liberal than the Saudis, the Qataris have surpassed them as financiers of extremism and terrorism.
U.S. officials reckon that Qatar has now replaced Saudi Arabia as the source of the largest private donations to the Islamic State and other al-Qaeda affiliates.
Qatar, the world's wealthiest country per capita, also has the unsavory reputation for the mistreatment and effective slavery of much of its workforce.
Leaders of Western states threatened by jihadi advances are happy to sit down with the largest financiers of terrorism in the world, offer them help, take as much money as they can, and smile for the cameras.
There is a central weakness in the coalition against the Islamic State [IS] in Syria, as pointed out by Bryan Bender in the Boston Globe. There are 62 members of the coalition, some of which are Arab states: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, and Qatar. The U.S., however, carries the greatest weight in the air campaign against the self-proclaimed Caliphate. America had carried out 3,589 sorties by August 8, its partners 8; between September 23 (when most partners joined in attacks) and November 3, U.S. sorties numbered a further 3,320, with 1,090 by other coalition members.
The U.S., therefore, flies over 75% of missions -- an indication of American intent? It's not quite that simple.
One of those partners, Qatar, seems to be committed to the mission in other ways. It hosts the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East, the regional headquarters of U.S. Central Command, and stations American and British aircraft and personnel at al-Udeid Air Base.
The U.S. Congress has authorized and appropriated many millions of dollars over the years in return for use and maintenance of this important base.
Qatar is now prepared to pay in full for the U.S. military presence during the campaign in return for American protection.
Except, as a recent headline in the New Republic put it: 'Qatar Is a U.S. Ally. They Also Knowingly Abet Terrorism. What's Going On?' Other views are harsher: 'Qatar's overall cooperation, however, is the worst in the region.'
Qatar is one of the world's smallest states with a miniscule population. A Saudi prince once said that it is made up of '300 people and a TV Channel' (referring to Al Jazeera, based in the capital, Doha). Qatar has only 278,000 citizens and 1.5 million expatriates who make up 94% of the workforce. Qatar, the world's wealthiest country per capita, also has an unsavory reputation for the mistreatment and effective slavery of much of its workforce.
Qatar is also imprisoning Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple sentenced to three years in prison on charges of child endangerment, for allegedly murdering their adopted daughter, Gloria, 8, even though she apparently had health issues prior to the adoption. The Huangs continue to protest their innocence, and claim that the Qataris do not understand how an Asian couple could adopt three children, who happen to be black, from Africa.
Given Qatar's economic and political clout, created by its sovereign wealth fund, its oil, and its ownership of the world's third largest natural gas reserves, Qatar plays a role on the world stage and does much to enhance its public image. In a bid for international kudos, the emirate acted to ensure the award of the soccer World Cup for 2022, only to find itself mired in controversy.
In other spheres, Qatar is the single largest donor to the Brookings Institution, a major U.S. think tank. Payments included $14.8 million after the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, blamed Israel for the failure of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; and it has given money to many universities in the U.S. and Europe. Qatar also hosts eight international university campuses near Doha (Virginia Commonwealth, Weill Cornell, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Northwestern, HEC Paris, University College London, Calgary), and finances the RAND Policy Trust. It owns expensive properties in London, the Barcelona Football Club, and dabbles in other areas worldwide.
While all this increases Qatar's influence, most of it seems to be for show, to present an amiable face to the world. Qatar is not all gleaming towers, bars for non-Muslims, and a modern approach to sexual relations. It remains the only other Wahhabi country in the world next to Saudi Arabia. The problem here is the Qatar paradox. Although outwardly more liberal than the Saudis, the Qataris have surpassed them as financiers of extremism and terrorism. As with its neighbor, it is traditional, devoted to a highly conservative form of Islam, and an underlying commitment to Islamic values.
Although praised for its liberalism in many areas, Freedom House reported in 2013 that 'civil liberties and political rights are severely restricted for residents and citizens alike, foreign workers face especially repressive conditions.' Aside from a short period between 1976 and 1988, Qatar has remained categorized as 'Not Free' since 1972, and has a particularly bad reputation for its brutal treatment of poor foreign workers.
Although non-Muslims are free to worship there, Qatari law bans any form of proselytization or outward show of faith (such as crosses on churches). There are severe laws against homosexuality, adultery (technically a capital crime, with provisions for flogging and stoning), and public criticism of the regime. As of 2011, the Democracy Index describes Qatar as an 'authoritarian regime' with a score of 3.18 out of ten, and it ranks 138th out of the 167 countries covered.
Nowhere is this tendency clearer than in Qatar's support for international networks of terrorist organizations. While U.S. planes bomb outposts of ISIS from their Qatar airbase, Qatar is reputed to be sending money to ISIS, Hamas, Libyan jihadists, and others. Of course, the Qataris deny this. Standing beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel on September 27, Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani declared that, 'What is happening in Iraq and Syria is extremism and such organizations are partly financed from abroad, but Qatar has never supported and will never support terrorist organizations'.
Clearly, al-Thani either knows little about the country he rules or is trying to put one over on the world. One is reminded of how, after Black September's 1973 murders of three diplomats (two American and one Belgian) in Khartoum, the PLO 'privately... threatened reprisal if the Sudanese continued to hold them [the killers] or put them on trial,' while publicly disavowing the killings.
The fundamentalist anti-Semitic Islamic preacher, Shaykh Yusuf 'Abd Allah al-Qaradawi, regarded by many as the leading scholar of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been living in Qatar on and off since the 1960s, while preaching a fundamentalist and often pro-terrorist message there through his website, Islam Online, and his Shari'a and Life television show on Al Jazeera. The Qatari government has never sought to rein him in.
Qatar's major international charity, the Qatar Charitable Society (now simply Qatar Charity) has acted as a financier and agency for terrorist outfits in several countries. It has funded al-Qaeda in Chechnya, Mali and elsewhere, was a key player in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and funded Syria's Ahfad al-Rasul Brigade. Qatar has also financed terrorists in northern Mali operations, including Ansar Dine, alleged to be linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [North Africa]; and it retains contacts with (and no doubt still funds) al-Qaeda.
According to David Blair and Richard Spencer, writing for London's Daily Telegraph, four branches of the Qatari government handle relations with armed groups in Syria and Libya. These are the Foreign and Defense Ministries, the Intelligence Agency, and the personal office [al-Diwan al-Amiri], of the Emir, who, as we have seen, flatly denies financing terrorism. The Amiri Diwan, as in Kuwait, appears in the lists of government ministries and offices. Of course, Qatar does nothing directly. It prefers to use middlemen and to permit private individuals to do the work for it. Large sums are passed to middlemen in Turkey (itself no stranger to support for terrorism), and this money is used for the purchase of weapons from other countries (notably Croatia). The weapons are then transferred to rebel groups in Syria. It has also been claimed that money owed to British companies operating in Qatar has been siphoned off to Islamic State. This may require some ingenious application of the dark arts of bookkeeping, but it does provide another means of evading condemnation of the state.
One of the most obvious examples of government support for jihadi groups is that the international base of the Gazan terrorist group Hamas has been located in Doha since 2012. Khaled Mashaal, Chairman of Hamas's Political Bureau, is reportedly living an opulent lifestyle in a five-star hotel in Doha. Qatar has given generously to Hamas. In October, Ma'mun Abu Shahla, the Palestinian Authority's Minister of Labor, stated that the government of Qatar had given $30 million to provide staff with their first salary payments in several months, a distribution of largesse that will give half of the former Hamas government employees in Gaza their unpaid wages. This payment was arranged with Qatar by Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, despite fears of a backlash from international donor countries, including the U.S., which considers Hamas a terrorist organization.
Apart from cash advances to terrorist entities, the Qatari government seems to be directly involved in other activities, notably the shipping of planeloads of arms to Libyan jihadists. These shipments include a C-17 cargo plane carrying weaponry to a militia loyal to a warlord who had fought alongside Osama bin Laden; arms supplies to the jihadist coalition that now controls Tripoli after the launch of Operation Libya Dawn, and some $3 billion and 70 planeloads of arms to rebel forces in Syria.
Private fundraisers who coordinate donations from individual or corporate donors in Qatar are never detained or subjected to restrictions in Qatar, a privilege that means the transfer of considerable sums to al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Hamas, Jabhat al-Nusra and other Syrian Islamist groups.
The U.S. Treasury has given details of terrorist financiers operating in Qatar. The best known is 'Abd al-Rahman al-Nu'aymi, an academic and businessman who is a key link between Qatari donors and al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of today's Islamic State. At one time, Nu'aymi transferred $2 million per month to the organization. He has also sent around $576,000 to Abu Khalid al-Suri, al-Qaeda's Syrian representative, and $250,000 to the Somali jihadist group, al-Shabaab.
The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned Nu'aymi and other Qatari financiers in recent years. U.S. officials reckon that Qatar has now replaced Saudi Arabia as the source of the largest private donations to Islamic State and other al-Qaeda affiliates. The Qatari government has taken no steps to detain or punish al-Nu'aymi or anyone else, even though Islamist politics are, in theory, illegal in Qatar.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was warned by many people, before his meeting with the Emir of Qatar, that he had to tackle the issue of Qatar's funding of terrorism. The two men met on October 29. Here is part of the official government news briefing on the meeting: On international affairs, they discussed the role both countries are playing in the coalition to tackle ISIL, and the importance of all countries working to tackle extremism and support to terrorist organisations. The Prime Minister welcomed the recent legislation passed in Qatar to prevent terrorist funding and looked forward to the swift implementation of these new measures. They also agreed that both countries should do more to share information on groups of concern.
Need one add that among the matters discussed by these world leaders was Qatar's recent £20 billion investment in the U.K., and Cameron's offer of British expertise in construction to assist the Emirate in building the 2022 World Cup events? Money talks, and in supine Western countries just coming out of a major recession, it talks very loudly. Al-Thani walked away from his meeting with Cameron covered in glory for his country's supposed work to defeat Islamist terrorism worldwide.
Leaders of Western states threatened by jihadist advances are happy to sit down with the largest financiers of terrorism in the world, offer them help, take as much money as they can, and smile for the cameras. They then sell their publics for crumbs from oil-rich monarchs who watch, wreathed in smiles, as the West abases itself out of greed and a total lack of concern for the human rights issues that dog these sheikhdoms in almost everything they do. The Qataris have money, they have power and influence, and they have an abiding love for fundamentalist Islam. They know what they are doing and they wait for their day to come.
Denis MacEoin is a former lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
 Here is a short list of these payments: From FY2003 to FY2007, Congress authorized and appropriated $126 million for U.S. military construction activities in Qatar. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (P.L. 110-181) authorized $81.7 million in FY2008 spending to build new Air Force and Special Operations facilities in Qatar. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (P.L. 110-417) authorizes $69.6 million in FY2009 spending to build new Air Force and Special Operations facilities. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (P.L. 111-84) authorizes $117 million in FY2010 spending to build new Air Force recreational, dormitory, and other facilities at Al Udeid. The Administration's FY2011 military construction request for Qatar was $64.3 million, for Air Force facilities and a National Security Agency warehouse. The FY2012 request includes $37 million to continue the dormitory and recreation facility project. See 'Congress Appropriations and Authorizations', in 'Al-Udeid Air Base,' Wikipedia.
 'Qatar says ready to pay 'in full' for US military presence: Amr Moussa,' Press TV, 1 December 2012 (accompanied by many condemnation of Qatar for doing so).
 For some details about its donations to the UK, see Robin Simcox, 'A Degree of Influence', London, The Centre for Social Cohesion, 2009.
 Joshua Muravchik, Making David into Goliath, New York, 2014, p. 49, citing David Korn.
 See also State of Qatar Ministry of Interior, 'Ministries'.
by Ahmed Vanya • November 20, 2014 at 5:00 am
Many people are understandably asking: What is the true nature of Islam? Is it that although there are many peaceful Muslims, Islam itself is not peaceful?
Classical Islamic law, developed over the history of Islam, is definitely not peaceful or benign, and therefore not suitable for this age; neither are its violent and grotesque progeny, such as Islamism and jihadism.
If Islam is a religion that stands for justice and peaceful coexistence, then this policy of jihad cannot be justified as sanctioned by a just and merciful creator.
Religious traditions have changed and evolved over time, therefore it is the duty of us Muslims, using reason and common sense, to reinterpret the scriptures to bring about an Islam that affirms and promotes universally accepted human rights and values. It is our duty to cleanse the traditional, literalist, classical Islam and purify it to make it an Islam that is worthy to be called a beautiful religion.
Looking at a year of beheadings by ISIS, child grooming abuses in the UK, judicial misconduct by the hanging judges of Iran, slaughtering and enslaving of Christians in Egypt and Africa, and various murders justified in the name of Islam throughout the world, many people are understandably asking: What is the true nature of Islam? Is it that although there are many peaceful Muslims, Islam itself is not peaceful? If, for us Muslims, Islam is a religion of peace, justice, and mercy, how come the militants, who claim to be staunch Muslims -- who are ready to die for Islam and who claim to have established a state in the name of Islam in Iraq and Syria by sacrificing blood and lives -- are beheading journalists and aid workers, and enslaving religious minorities, all by citing Islamic Sharia Law?
The West's Dangerous Enchantment with Islam
Muslim Women Thrown 'Under the Bus'
by Uzay Bulut • November 9, 2014
There are no women's rights in Islam; there are no women's rights in most Muslim countries. And there is no freedom of expression in these countries; people have become virtually voiceless.
To make a positive change in Muslim countries, we need to be able to speak openly, without putting one's life at risk, and tell the (too-often criminalized) truth about what Islamic teachings and traditions actually contain.
If one is called 'racist' or 'Islamophobe,' the answer is that these are the accusations bullies always use to silence those who disagree with them. The real Islamophobes are those who degrade, abuse and kill their fellow Muslims.
If oppression of women is rooted in the culture, shouldn't one be asking, 'what makes a culture that misogynous?'
There is a situation even more frightening. It now seems to be difficult to speak openly about fundamentalist Islam even in Western countries. The worst thing any Western progressive or feminist can do is to stay silent.
The loudest voices in the West now seem to come from many progressives who say that criticizing of Islam is racist, intolerant, bigoted and Islamophobic. Injustices, they claim, take place all around the world, not just among Muslims or in Muslim countries. The criticism, they go on, comes from wrong interpretations of Islamic teachings. They say that Islam respects women, and that there are good and bad Muslims, just as there are good and bad people in all religions.
In just seven years, however, between 2002 and 2009, the rate of murdered women in Turkey has increased by 1400 percent.
There are also more than 181,000 child brides in Turkey.
When those figures are provided by state authorities, they are based on factual statistics. But when they are expressed in a critical manner by Canan Arin, a lawyer and women rights activist, they are, apparently, a 'crime.'
Promoting 'British Values' by Curbing Free Speech
by Soeren Kern • November 6, 2014
'Yes we need to combat the Islamist threat, but this is not the way to do it.... You can't protect democracy by undermining its very foundations…. Freedom of expression is an essential freedom for any democratic society.' — Colin Hart, Director, The Christian Institute.
'They made us feel threatened about our religion. They asked, 'Do you have friends from other religions?' They asked this many times until we answered what they wanted us to say.' — Eleventh grade student at a Jewish Orthodox school for girls.
Trinity Christian School, a small independent school in Reading, is being downgraded and may even be closed for not inviting a Muslim imam to lead a chapel service.
'Individuals who criticize the spread of Islamic Sharia law in Britain could be deemed to be racist and silenced…. Without precise legislative definitions, deciding what [is extremism] is subjective and therefore open to abuse now or by any future authoritarian government.' — Keith Porteous Wood, Director, National Secular Society.
'Are you an extremist?' UK Home Secretary Theresa May has announced new 'Extremism Disruption Orders' that will ban any person the government labels an 'extremist' from appearing on radio or TV, protesting in public or even posting messages on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, without permission.
The British government has unveiled a new proposal that would require Islamic extremists to have their social media posts pre-approved by the government.
The plan—which is aimed at curbing the spread of jihadist propaganda in Britain—is part of a wide-ranging effort to strengthen the government's counter-terrorism strategy ahead of general elections set for May 2015.
The new policy is so broad in scope, however, and the definition of 'extremist' is so all-encompassing, that the government could ultimately silence anyone whose views are deemed to be politically incorrect, according to free speech activists.
The so-called Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) would prohibit any individual the government considers to be an 'extremist' from appearing on radio and television, protesting in public or even posting messages on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, without permission.
Too much time on the present, not enough time on the past
“Most of us spend too much time on the last twenty four hours and too little on the last six thousand years.”
— Will Durant
We are forever hearing the Muslim world using the term “Crusader” in reference to the West when accusing us of every evil that has ever befallen them, as though we had invented colonialism and exploitation or the acquisition of booty in the pursuit of empire.
One of the most prevalent characteristics of the jihadist—when he’s not using the religion of Islam to justify his savagery—is his habitual revision and/or obfuscation of actual Middle Eastern history.
Always careful to avoid turning back the pages far enough to reveal how Islam’s religious parvenus actually pioneered the very idea of imperialism and colonial rule, the jihadist must overlook the fact that long before there was a Palestine “occupied” by a State of Israel, there was also a Palestine when Jews lived absent the presence of religiously intolerant Arab Muslims.
Today’s “pro-Palestinian” protester vehemently refuses any discussion regarding the awkward historical truth defining who is actually occupying who in the land of Israel.
In Open Letter To Muslim World, French Muslim Philosopher Says Islam Has Given Birth To Monsters, Needs Reform
In an essay published October 3, 2014 in the French newspaper Marianne, Abdennour Bidar, philosopher and author of Self Islam, a personal history of Islam (Seuil, 2006); Islam without submission: a Muslim existentialism (Albin Michel, 2008), and History of humanism in the West (Armand Colin, 2014), wrote that believing Muslims cannot avoid a discussion of the causes of jihadi excesses by merely denouncing terrorist barbarism. He says that in the face of the dogmas and political manipulation to which it is being subjected, the Muslim world must be self-critical, and must act to reform itself.
The following is his essay:
Abdennour Bidar (image: aujourdhui.ma)
'I See That You Are Losing Yourself, Losing Your Time And Your Honor, In Your Refusal To Recognize That This Monster [ISIS] Is Born Of You'
'Dear Muslim world: I am one of your estranged sons, who views you from without and from afar – from France, where so many of your children live today. I look at you with the harsh eyes of a philosopher, nourished from infancy on tasawwuf (Sufism) and Western thought. I look at you therefore, from my position of barzakh, from an isthmus between the two seas of the East and the West.
'And what do I see? What do I see better than others, no doubt precisely because I see you from afar, from a distance? I see you in a state of misery and suffering that saddens me infinitely, but that makes my philosopher's judgment even harsher. Because I see you in the process of birthing a monster that presumes to call itself the Islamic State, and which some prefer to call by a demon's name – Da'esh. But worst of all is that I see that you are losing yourself, losing your time and your honor, in your refusal to recognize that this monster is born of you, of your irresoluteness, of your contradictions, of your being torn between past and present, of your perpetual inability to find your place in human civilization.
'What, indeed, do you say when faced with this monster? You shout, 'That's not me!' 'That's not Islam!' You reject [the possibility] that this monster's crimes are committed in your name (#NotInMyName). You rebel against the monster's usurpation of your identity, and of course you are right to do so. It is essential that you proclaim to the world, loud and clear, that Islam condemns barbarity. But this is absolutely not enough! For you are taking refuge in your self-defense reflex, without realizing it, and, above all, without taking responsibility to self-criticize. You become indignant and are satisfied with that – but you are missing an historical opportunity to question yourself. Instead of taking responsibility for yourself, you accuse others: 'You Westerners, and all you enemies of Islam – stop associating us with this monster! Terrorism is not Islam! The true Islam, the good Islam doesn't mean war, it means peace!''
'The Root Of This Evil That Today Steals Your Face Is Within Yourself; The Monster Emerged From Your Own Belly'
'Oh my dear Muslim world, I hear the cry of rebellion rising in you, and I understand it. Yes, you are right: Like every one of the great sacred inspirations in the world, Islam has, throughout its history, created beauty, justice, meaning, and good, and it has [been a source of] powerful enlightenment for humans who are on the path through the mystery of existence...Here in the West, I fight, in all my books, so that this wisdom of Islam and of all religions is not forgotten or despised. But because of my distance [from the Muslim world], I can see that which you cannot... And this inspires me to ask: Why has this monster stolen your face? Why has this despicable monster chosen your face and not another? The truth is that behind this monster hides a huge problem, one you do not seem ready to confront. Yet in the end you will have to find the courage [to do so].
'The problem is that of the root of the evil. Where do the crimes of this so-called 'Islamic State' come from? I'll tell you, my friend. And it will not make you happy, but it is my duty as a philosopher. The root of this evil that today steals your face is within yourself; the monster emerged from your own belly. And other monsters, some even worse, will emerge, as long as you refuse to acknowledge your sickness and to finally tackle the root of this evil!
'Even Western intellectuals have difficulty seeing this. For the most part they have so forgotten the power of religion – for good and for evil, over life and over death – that they tell me, 'No, the problem of the Muslim world is not Islam, not the religion, but politics, history, economics, etc.' They completely forget that religion may be the core of the reactor of a human civilization, and that tomorrow the future of humanity will depend not only on a resolution to the financial crisis, but also, and much more essentially, on a resolution to the unprecedented spiritual crisis that is affecting all of mankind.'
'I See In You, Oh Muslim World, Great Forces Ready To Rise Up And Contribute To This Global Effort To Find A Spiritual Life For The 21st Century'
'Will we be able to all come together, across the world, to face this fundamental challenge? The spiritual nature of man abhors a vacuum, and if finds nothing new with which to fill it, it will tomorrow fill it with religions that are less and less adapted to the present – and which, like Islam today, will [also]begin producing monsters.
'I see in you, oh Muslim world, great forces ready to rise up and contribute to this global effort to find a spiritual life for the 21st century. Despite the severity of your sickness, you have in you a great multitude of men and women willing to reform Islam, to reinvent its genius beyond its historical forms, and to be part of the total renewal of the relationship that mankind once had with its gods. It is to all these, both Muslims and non-Muslims, who dream together of a spiritual revolution that I have addressed my books– to whom I offer, with my philosopher's words, confidence in that which their hope glimpses.'
Turkey: The 'Great Muslim Democracy'
by Burak Bekdil • October 25, 2014 at 5:00 am
Where Turkey stands today is a perfect example of how, when Islamists -- mild or otherwise -- rule a county, even the most basic liberties are systematically suppressed.
'A climate of fear has emerged in Turkey.' — Hasam Kilic, President, Turkey's Constitutional Court.
The prosecutor demanded a heavier penalty for the victim than for her torturers.
The European Commission identified government interference in the judiciary and bans imposed on social media as the major sources of concern regarding Turkey's candidacy for full membership.
Mehmet Ali Sahin, Deputy Chairman of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, suggested that millions of peaceful protestors should be given life sentences.
'We have made the conservative, pious [Muslim] masses not just a part, but a major actor of the political system.' Thus said Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, not even trying to hide his pride.
Where Turkey stands today is a perfect example of how, when Islamists -- mild or otherwise -- rule a country, even the most basic liberties are systematically suppressed. The seal of approval for the terrible failure of what U.S. President Barack Obama once called a 'successful Muslim democracy' came from the country's top judge.
Hasim Kilic, President of Turkey's Constitutional Court, and himself a conservative, recently said that, 'A climate of fear has emerged in Turkey;' and he called on the Turks 'to resist [it], and not give up.' It is not always easy to do so.
Who is the Real Chickenshit?
by Bassam Tawil • November 4, 2014 at 5:00 am
Judging by their actions, most Arab leaders do not want to create yet another terrorist Islamist state, dedicated to the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology and to toppling their regimes. We do want a Palestinian state, but please, only one that will provide responsible governance.
According to the 'Arab street', it is the Americans and Europeans who are cowards, afraid to take significant steps against Iran, and terrified of the Islamic ghettoes in their cities, which have been exporting terrorists to fight for the Islamic State, and providing housing to the seasoned fighters who return.
To Arabs, the ultimate irony is that America is paying Qatar to have its airbase there, while Qatar is paying terrorists to kill Americans.
When John Kerry claimed it was the unresolved Palestinian issue that caused a ripple effect that crated ISIS, he simply inspired the Palestinians to use Al-Aqsa mosque as a religious trigger for future bloodshed.
Does Kerry really blame Israel for ISIS? Above, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry MEETS with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, on July 23, 2014. (Image source: U.S. State Department)
There is a civil war currently under way between radical Islam -- motivated by imperialist fantasies of restoring the Islamic Caliphate -- and the more moderate secular Muslim regimes that are seeking the path to modernization and progress.
At the same time, Sunni Islam is in the midst of an increasingly violent crisis in its dealings with Shi'ite Iran, which looks as if it is about to be granted nuclear weapons capability, and which for decades quietly has been eyeing neighboring Arab oil fields.
Into the middle of this explosive disarray, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his supporters have thrown the accusation that it was actually Israel's so-called refusal to reach a peace agreement that was responsible for the ripple effect that led to the creation of ISIS. This incorrect diagnosis of the situation merely postpones the West's efforts to find a real, workable solution for the Palestinian issue.
Western female jihadis deploy ‘soft-power’ of Isis online
October 28, 2014
The Financial Times
Heba Saleh in Cairo
They cheer on beheadings, defend rape and the enslavement of women, and yearn to revive oppressive centuries-old traditions that many of their female co-religionists in Muslim countries are struggling to shake off.
Hundreds of western Muslim women who have travelled to Syria to marry fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, are part of what experts call the “soft-power” of the militants. Isis has used social media to attract recruits and build an image of the group as a reincarnation of the just and righteous state to which many Muslims aspire....
How Likely Is Deradicalization?
by Denis MacEoin • October 26, 2014 at 5:00 am
Will radical Muslims line up to be deprogrammed and end up teaching kindergarten or devising a twelve-step program for their younger siblings? Since the start of deradicalization programs, the number of radicalized Muslims has risen.
Why is there no Muslim Peace Movement campaigning for an end to violence in Muslim countries? Why do Muslims -- and others -- take to the streets to condemn democratic Israel, yet never march to protest Hamas's use of Palestinians as human shields, or the violence of al-Qaeda, Boko Haram or any other jihadi group? Why not be angry at the way violent Muslims drag the image of non-violent Muslims in the mud? Many Muslims, however, complain about 'Islamophobia' while ignoring the primary causes of hostility to themselves.
Muslims are trapped, because the Qur'an and the ahadith, which make up the holy writ, all condone or command jihad and hatred for non-believers, and they do so abundantly. Yet commentators and politicians still wonder where the fighters of the Islamic State or the killers of Theo van Gogh get their inspiration. A young man who sees the world through such a lens will easily turn to this to justify his desire to wage jihad.
It is still risky for anyone one in any Muslim country to call for a new approach to the most sacred texts.
Will radical Muslims line up to be deprogrammed and end up teaching kindergarten or devising a twelve-step program for their younger siblings?
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on September 1 that British jihadists returning to this country would be forced to enter deradicalization programs. Now, the Danish government has offered a similar program to returning jihadists, without prosecution.
A reasonable idea, one might think, and one that we may all hope is successful. But is this latest round in the battle against Islamic radicalism likely to be any more effective than its predecessors? Will radical Muslims -- call them Salafis, jihadis, Islamic State fighters or what you will -- line up to be deprogrammed and end up teaching kindergarten or devising a twelve-step program for their younger siblings now queuing to take their place on the front line between Islam and unbelief?
IMPORTANT - Jihadis slip through Europe’s passport-free travel zone
November 3, 2014
Sam Jones in London and Duncan Robinson in Brussels
When Mehdi Nemmouche, a French jihadist, made his way home from the Syrian battlefield in March, he crossed borders with the same ease as millions of other European travellers.
He went first to Istanbul, then Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong before catching a flight to Frankfurt and then continuing to his native France. Weeks later, it is alleged, Mr Nemmouche crossed another border to brutally murder four visitors to a Jewish museum in Belgium.
As fears mount of other European jihadis returning from Syria to launch terror attacks on home soil ...
Creator of book 'My Chacha Is Gay' tells American actor he shut down the opportunity for a productive dialogue on radical Islam.
THE WRONGS OF AFFLECK AND THE PROGRESSIVE PC CROWD ON MUSLIMS AND ISLAM....BY A VERY COURAGEOUS WOMAN!!!
When Ben Affleck claimed that Bill Maher and Sam Harris were being racist and were making generalisations about Muslims, he asked, 'How about more than a billion people who are not fanatical, who don't punish women, who just want to go to school, have some , sandwiches?. It's stereotyping.'
However, not everyone agreed with Affleck. In an open letter this week, a Canadian illustrator and blogger of Pakistani origin named Eiynah politely and eloquently explained why she believes the actor is wrong.
I am writing to you today as a woman who was born and raised in Islam. I saw your discussion with Bill Maher and Sam Harris, and I must say you did me a great disservice that day. Your heart was in the right place, of course, and it was lovely of you to step up and defend 'my people'.
What you really did though, perhaps inadvertently, was silence a conversation that never gets started. Two people attempted to begin a dialogue and you wouldn’t even listen. Why should any set of ideas be above criticism, Ben?
Why are Muslims being 'preserved' in some time capsule of centuries gone by? Why is it okay that we continue to live in a world where our women are compared to candy waiting to be consumed? Why is it okay for women of the rest of the world to fight for freedom and equality while we are told to cover our shameful bodies? Can’t you see that we are being held back from joining this elite club known as the 21st century?
Noble liberals like yourself always stand up for the misrepresented Muslims and stand against the Islamophobes, which is great but who stands in my corner and for the others who feel oppressed by the religion? Every time we raise our voices, one of us is killed or threatened. I am a blogger and illustrator, no threat to anyone, Ben, except for those afraid of words and drawings. I want the freedom to express myself without the very real fear that I might be killed for it. Is that too much to ask?
When I wrote a children’s book that carried a message of diversity and inclusivity for everyone, my life changed. My book, My Chacha (uncle) is Gay’ has the innocent anti-homophobia message, 'Love belongs to everyone.' This was not palatable to many of my Muslim brothers and sisters.
Since that project I have been declared an 'enemy of God' and deemed worthy of death. All because I want to help create a world where South Asian children too can have their stories told, so they too can know that love comes in all forms, and that that’s okay. My Muslim brothers and sisters were hit hard by this work because it addresses the issue of homophobia within our own community. It is not something they can pass off as 'Western' immorality. Just like they deny that any issues exist within the doctrine of Islam, many deny that homosexuality exists amongst good, 'moral' Muslims. Just like that, millions of people’s existence is denied. Please do not defend people who think this way, and let me tell you Ben, many 'good' Muslims do think this way.
What you did by screaming 'racist!' was shut down a conversation that many of us have been waiting to have. You helped those who wish to deny there are issues, deny them. You became an instant hero, a defender of Islam. It’s kind, it really is. I understand because I too am plagued and affected by the issues brought about by actual Islamophobia. I have a Muslim name and brown skin, my peaceful relatives have been pushed in the subway and called 'terrorist' for no reason.
I get that.
We must distinguish critiquing an ideology from being hateful towards a group of people. And for this reason I think that tackling the issues within Islam should be two-pronged. They must be brought up, but simultaneously we should stress that blame for these issues cannot be placed on individuals.
In the interest of being politically correct and 'liberal', we silence the voices of millions. I am turning to you because you were instrumental in starting this conversation. Those of us who want reform are muted by extremists, as well as the liberals who betray us in the name of multiculturalism.
ISIS paints a horrific picture, so I understand the knee-jerk reaction to deny any link. Most Muslims choose to interpret scripture in a peaceful way, but that doesn't mean the raw material isn't there for those who choose the path of violence. That material must be addressed.
Can we talk about the blatant double standards and violation of human rights, for a second? Mosques are built throughout western countries, usually without much issue. But in the hub of Islam, the heart of Islam, Saudi Arabia, no one but Muslims are allowed to officially practice their faith. There are no churches, temples or synagogues because Saudi Arabia will not permit any non-Muslim place of worship to exist. Who will hold them accountable for such injustice if we hush everyone who speaks out against Islam?
What is so wrong with wanting to step into the current century? There should be no shame. There is no denying that violence, misogyny and homophobia exist in all religious texts, but Islam is the only religion that is adhered to so literally, to this day.
In your culture you have the luxury of calling such literalists “crazies”, like the Westboro Baptist Church, for example. In my culture, such values are upheld by more people than we realise. Many will try to deny it, but please hear me when I say that these are not fringe values. It is apparent in the lacking numbers of Muslims willing to speak out against the archaic Shariah law. The punishment for blasphemy and apostasy, etc, are tools of oppression. Why are they not addressed even by the peaceful folk who “aren’t fanatical, who just want to have some sandwiches and pray five times a day? Where are the Muslim protestors against blasphemy laws/apostasy? Where are the Muslims who take a stand against harsh interpretation of Shariah? These sandwich-eating peaceful folk do not defend those suffering in the name of Islam, Ben, and therein lies our problem.
Maybe the points Maher and Harris were trying to make are more easily digested when coming from within the community, I can appreciate that. That is why I am writing to you, as someone who has personally been hurt by the lack of acknowledgement of these issues.
If Muslims do not critique their own atrocities, then people on the outside will and their message will not be listened to simply because of who they are. It’s a vicious cycle, one that can only break if indeed, like Harris said, true reformers are empowered.
I ask you and anyone reading this to make an effort to seek out reformers from within our community, and support them in any way you can.
If I were allowed to meet a man that is not my father, brother or husband unchaperoned, I would have loved to discuss this over drinks (which I am also not allowed to have) with you. So, you see, things must change.
Normalization between Ankara and Jerusalem? Guess Again.
by Burak Bekdil • October 30, 2014 at 5:00 am
Until Jerusalem is the capital of a Palestinian state and Israel is pushed back to its pre-1967 borders, it will be 'halal' for Erdogan to blame Israel for global warming, the Ebola virus, starvation in Africa and every other misfortune the world faces.
On the press freedoms index 2014 of Reporters without Borders, Turkey ranks an embarrassing 154th, a score worse than Burundi, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Libya, Uganda and Kyrgyzstan, among others. Once again, Erdogan corrupted facts and figures in order to bash Israel.
Holy struggle against Israel is a prerequisite for Erdogan's pro-Hamas Islamism, and the cold war and Erdogan's explosive rhetoric around it have yielded a treasure-trove of votes in a country that champions anti-Semitism.
Turkey's then Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a 2009 a panel in Davos, Switzerland, tells Israel's then President Shimon Peres, 'when it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.'
'The Jewish lobby has lost much of its mythical power. Our prime minister's rhetoric and actions have largely caused this. The way he [Erdogan] walked out of the Davos meeting [in 2009] has substantially tarnished Israel's regional charisma. Despite all that, Israel has been unable to harm Turkey.' This quote was from former senior diplomat and member of parliament Volkan Bozkir, of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP], in an interview with the daily Hurriyet on March 18, 2013. In Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's mini-cabinet reshuffle last month, Bozkir became Turkey's European Union Minister and chief negotiator with the club for Turkish membership.