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February 03, 2006

Comments

Dr Evle

Hehe, dr evle has planted his evle seed...

Scott Wickstein

Interesting tit-bit from the Times story:

However Hamas, the powerful Islamist group that won last week’s Palestinian elections, sought to reassure Westerners. Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas’s senior leader in Gaza, paid a visit to a Church to offer Christians his protection.

He assured Father Manuel Musallam, of the Holy Family Church, that he was prepared to station gunmen from Hamas’s military wing to protect the building, telling him: “You are our brothers.”

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman, added: “Hamas rejects and condemns the insult to our great Prophet Muhammad. We think demonstrations and rejection are legitimate, but we should not meet abuse with abuse. Hamas rejects any targeting of any institutions, churches or citizens and those who do this do not represent the authentic beliefs of Islam.”

Moderation from Hamas? I doubt it somehow. I rather suspect these guys know which side their bread is buttered on.

Factory

It's moderation in words, but assuming that they will try and be consistant with their policy positions they will not make any overt violent actions over this issue, or at least they are not planning to.

Scott Wickstein

No they wouldn't plan to kidnap and kill a heap of EU citizens just when they need the EU to renew their 'economic aid/danegald'.

Josef

I just do not understand this generalization about muslims or systematic attack on Islam.
Yes, I do agree there are some extremists however, the portrayal of Islam in western media is very negative.
The way we talk about that religion islamic terriorist, islamic fundamentalist, etc...
I am not surprised by reaction of the muslim community to the presentation of their prophet as terrorist...
I wonder how catholics in Spain and Italy would react if papers started showing the POPE molesting little kids..
Also, do people remember the uproar when that movie "last tempation of christ" or even recently anti-semitism uproar about "the passion of christ"

So, let's not be surprised by the response of the muslim community. We also have to take into consideration the behavior of America in Iraq... there is general sentiment in the Muslim world that US and some of its allies have an Anti-Islamic tilt. For example, how would the US react if in the Iraqi election a Hamas type of organization wins the election?

Would Bush say is this democracy in action or tell the world he will not recognize it?

In terms of Muslims in the Western Countries, they should just boycott the paper. However, repressive leaders in Muslim countries are probably using the opportunity gain some popularity from their citizens.

dsquared

I was about to suggest that doing that "the religion of peace" joke made you look like one of the Little Green Footballs comments crowd which might not be the kind of image you want to project of yourself, but I see that it is, so carry on.

I personally believe that having survived Nazism and Communism, Western culture is strong enough to deal with a few Islamic panics (it is not even as if this is anything like as bad as the Salman Rushdie one yet) and I daresay it will manage to survive your own episode of twisted knickers too.

J.Cassian

Instead of constantly demanding "respect" from the rest of the world and bleating about "Islamophobia" at every available opportunity, why don't Muslims try aiming at indifference from non-believers for a change? I mean the same kind of general indifference enjoyed by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists etc. It's amazing how you can live in the same country with the latter without having to wonder whether their scriptures advocate killing you or not. Every time someone mentions the "Koran" says this or Wahhabism means that in the media, my response is: maybe I should get round to reading the "Bhagavad Gita" or learning a bit more about Theraveda. But it can wait, because that would merely be to satisfy my cultural interests rather than probe the mystery of why bombs are suddenly going off everywhere. There's a good reason "Jyllands-Posten" didn't print cartoons of Krishna or Guru Nanak. If you go seeking the world's attention as relentlessly as Islam has over the past few decades, you can't really complain when some of that attention isn't 100% positive.

Abiola

"I was about to suggest that doing that "the religion of peace" joke made you look like one of the Little Green Footballs comments crowd which might not be the kind of image you want to project of yourself, but I see that it is, so carry on."

You keep deluding yourself that this is just a fringe problem if you want to: I and anyone else with eyes to see can see that this is NOT a problem confined to a few fanatics, but something which clearly plagues the MAJORITY of Muslims who are already within Europe's borders: if 150,000 Muslims in a population of 5 million Danes suffice to intimidate the country's press, why on earth should the Danes go about importing yet more of them?

"I personally believe that having survived Nazism and Communism, Western culture is strong enough to deal with a few Islamic panics (it is not even as if this is anything like as bad as the Salman Rushdie one yet) and I daresay it will manage to survive your own episode of twisted knickers too."

Smug rubbish said by someone who's never had a brush with fanatics roaming around the local Sabon Gari to find a non-Muslim to lynch, solely because of a malicious rumor that a Christian stepped on a Koran ... It must be so wonderful to be able to close one's eyes to reality while feeling superior.

yk

Abiola, I agree with you. It does appear that we are at a struggle for incompatible cultural values, and we have to take a side and choose which we want. I'm not necessarily advocating violence or mass deportation, but I would like to see Western Europe wake up, cherish its traditional values, and stop the suicidal demographic slide that appears to be slowly killing it-- at the same time encouraging an Islamist "Enlightenment" movement. Islamic society is about where we were 500 years ago, and it's time to force them into modernity.

dsquared

[Smug rubbish said by someone who's never had a brush with fanatics roaming around the local Sabon Gari]

Indeed I haven't. This is because I live in Europe, where non-Muslims are the majority and do not live in special non-Muslim ghettoes, and where (this is kind of the point) mobs of Islamic fanatics are not a threat to civil society. This is rather like me saying "say what you like about Chiswick, at least it is not infested with killer bees" and you saying "smug rubbish from someone who has never been attacked by killer bees in Bolivia".

The point here is that Denmark, the UK and France are stable, prosperous non-failed states, and thus political facts about Nigeria don't really have that much read-across. You're not being very coherent here; in particular in the phrase "this is NOT a problem confined to a few fanatics", it is not at all clear what the referent of "this" might be. If the referent is "making death threats and planting bombs", then yes it is. If the referent is "getting quite angry about cartoons" then why should it be? Everyone has the right to get angry about cartoons; lots of Americans quite regularly get enraged about cartoons in the Guardian and I do not yet feel we have reached the stage at which mass deportation of the citizens of "the Nation Of Democracy(tm)" is worth considering.

yonanu

Abiola I have to say that I share your experience of going from not minding what religion people around me observed, to minding it very much. (I also agree very much with y.k. above)
I had my religion and they had theirs.
This controversy (especially) has really shocked me though.
We have imams here in Denmark who intentionally go out and create trouble. They make up organisations, which they claim to represent. They tell one thing to Danish media ("no, we think the boycotts are a bad idea." etc) and the absolute opposite to Arab media ("The more boycotts the better!"). Imams who intentionally give false or distorted information to Arab decissionmakers or media.
That's nothing but a lying bunch of s.o.b.'s
We have demands for punishing the cartoonists, closing down the papers, installing religious censorship laws coming in constantly.
They have some bloody nerve to try and tell us what to do or even ask for special treatment. Sharia is a horrible ideology and completely at odds with liberal democracy.
In effect I think that the practice of Islam is irreconcilable with European ideals.
Some Muslims are what we call culturally Muslim but not particularly religious and, thank god, a net-work of these people is in the offing. They don't like being represented by the loud mouth biggots.
All hope is not lost - yet.

yk

"This is because I live in Europe, where non-Muslims are the majority and do not live in special non-Muslim ghettoes, and where (this is kind of the point) mobs of Islamic fanatics are not a threat to civil society."

France is no longer part of Europe? Muslims may not be the majority yet, but they do live in special Muslim ghettoes and mobs of Islamic fanatics are a threat to civil society.

Andrew

"France is no longer part of Europe? Muslims may not be the majority yet, but they do live in special Muslim ghettoes and mobs of Islamic fanatics are a threat to civil society."

My impression of the French riots was that they were not by Islamic fanatics qua Islamic fanatics, but rather disaffected angry young men, many of whom were secular or even non-Muslim. I think Abiola took this view as well... In any case "special Muslim ghettoes" is the exact opposite of what dsquared said, "special non-Muslim ghettoes" so it's not clear what you mean by your question, "France is no longer part of Europe?".

"I personally believe that having survived Nazism and Communism, Western culture is strong enough to deal with a few Islamic panics"

I don't see how this is smug rubbish - it's not as though defeating Nazism and Communism were walks in the park.

Chuckles

Good on you Abiola.

Some of the responses to Abiola are clearly unthought out. It is not as if this post doesnt represent a change in this blogs position.

1. That Islam is fundamentally incompatible: This present Islam clearly is. Which is of course the point, since this is what we have to deal with. Generalizing across time to eras in which Muslim societies were more advanced than the West has no place here.

2. Surviving Nazism and Communism: Big Fallacy. It assumes that Western culture is at the same level of moral strength that it was when it encountered Hitler and Stalin. It clearly isnt - It is now plagued with relativism and it is precisely the kind of bending over backwards to please the Islamists; behavior NOT countenanced by Churchill and his comrades when they confronted their own evils that proves that the West has declined in sheer strength of moral fibre. Furthermore, the Islamist threat is insidious: One can hardly compare a situation where Islamists are welcome, encouraged, supported and coddled by Westerners with Nazism and Communism where communists and Nazis were always being hunted. The tolerance level of the West has increased. This makes Islamism far more insidious.

3. Reading Across: I find this to be particularly ludicrous. How can one make this argument when there is empirical evidence of uniformity of behavior of the populations in question across various States? If we can predict that Muslims in Nigeria will do A in situation X and Muslims in Netherlands will do A in situation X and Muslims in Indonesia will do A in situation X and Muslims, in, I dunno, freaking PLUTO will do A in situation X, how in Gods name can talk about not reading across? Abiola's anecdote about Sabon Gari is precisely on point because it illustrates the predictability of Muslim behavior.

4. Cultural Muslims: This is irrelevant. There were "cultural communists" and "cultural nazis" and today, there are even "cultural racists" - who dont really hurt anyone. How does any of this mitigate a clear and present danger?

5. Referents: This is bullshit. Making threats and calling in bombs are activities that are aggressively supported by the majority. This is why the problem is not confined to a few fanatics. But even if it wasnt; and the referent in question was to getting angry about Cartoons - Dsquared has missed the point. It is not about getting angry about cartoons. It is about Saudi Arabia instigating a boycott because of Cartoons, it is about Libya recalling its Ambassador because of Cartoons, It is about mobs enraged and making bomb threats because of Cartoons - It is not merely about getting angry. It is about a whole swathe of policy responses to cartoons created in a free society. It shows that Muslims do NOT understand free and open societies - as a collective; Yes, a generalization, but why not?

6. LGF: This is Godwin's Law redux.

7. Politically Stable and Prosperous Countries: This one wins the prize for myopia. I mean, how can someone who just mentioned Nazism and Communism in one breath, bring up political stability and prosperity as disincentives in another? As though Nazism and Communism didnt thrive in conditions of political stability and prosperity. In any case, it is NOT the stability or prosperity of Europe that is in question, but the stability and prosperity of the Muslim population. Is the argument now that instability within microsystems immunes the larger system of which they are a part from significant future danger?

Look, I would not support deportation, but I would staunch immigration to a large extent. To deny that Westerners have the right to practice their values without intimidation is to apply a double standard. Otherwise, I would introduce an immigration test that required immigrants to state on paper that they subscribe to a certain minimal set of values in the country to which they emigrate.
You know whats bad? Should a country take the tough police measures neccesary to curb this kind of violence, the retort would be profiling, racism, yak, yak, yak!
We are asking that Westerners stomach intimidation - something we would never require form others groups! This, while these other groups, in their own countries, which THEY control, are giving foreigners hell.

Dr Evle, you need to quit smoking whatever you've been smoking. Seriously.

Andrew

"a situation where Islamists are welcome, encouraged, supported and coddled by Westerners with Nazism and Communism where communists and Nazis were always being hunted"

Communism was plenty insidious in its heyday too. There were large communist parties in Western Europe both before and after World War II. McCarthyism was a lot of paranoia but some left-ish types were serious communist sympathizers. And Nazism is different, it's true - it's not an evangelist ideology, but an exclusionist one. Still, it's not as though fascism was a fringe ideology outside of Germany and Italy in the interwar period.

Chuckles

Andrew,

Communists and Nazism enjoyed nowhere near the level of policy blindness and tolerance that Islamism does today.

We had the Red Scare. There is no corresponding scare for Islamism. The tolerance level of Western society is at such a level that hardly anything scares them anymore: Which is why it is such a pain to bring certain types to recognize the clear and present Islamist danger. Cries of Racism, McCarthyism, Xenophobia, Islamophobia and what-not have effectively neutralized Western sensibilities in this regard. I mean, can you imagine Nazis and Communists storming, say, the American embassy in Denmark assuming they constituted the percentage of Danish population that Muslims now do: over a caricature of Hitler, or some other deep ideological assault against them in the pages of a newspaper?

Can you imagine that? I cant. Those freaks would have gotten their punk asses rounded up.

If such an assault even happened, it would be in a context wherein the surrounding society recognized Nazism and Communism as de facto enemies, i.e. take over, expansionist powers: Something the present hoi polloi in the West are unwilling to do.

sinden

Yelling "fire" in a crowded room is my right - freedom of expression. It doesn't matter how many die in the panic.

Chuckles

Yes, this is Dsquared's "anger over a bunch of cartoons scenario"

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060203.wproph0203/BNStory/International/

Yeah - seeking hostages - I mean, its just kids acting out. Calls on governments to condemn insults to religion (WTF is that?), diplomatic evictions - yeah, yeah, its just a bunch of anger over cartoons and growing: Surely a West that survived Hilter and Stalin can survive this. We'll just get a bunch of State officers to condemn private expressions of speech and all will be dandy. Ha!

Chuckles

[...Yelling "fire" in a crowded room is my right - freedom of expression. It doesn't matter how many die in the panic...]

Yeah - when you point out how many Muslims died by trying to escape the clear and present danger that those evil, evil cartoons posed to them; when you point out how many Muslims died because cartoons consisted of a physical attack on them, or incited them to damage as they fled caricatures of Mohammed rising from the pages of a paper to strike them, then maybe I'll stop thinking youre an idiot.

Ajak

Because religions are founded on metaphysical theories they tend to be foundationalist--i.e. immune from empirical critique. As a result their strict followers have to be dogmatic about their beliefs and take much offence at epistemological critiques.

In the case of the monotheistic religions the special persons of those relions are not seen as either fictional or just ordinary persons. Any critique of the sacrilisation of such individuals could lead to burnings at the stake, beheadings, ostracism, arrests, and being brought before Popes and Bishops to recant or else!

What tempered the fanaticism of Christianity, for example, was its marriage with theology then the European Enlightenment. Recall that thinkers like Hume faced a lot of problems because of his scepticism concerning religion. And even today there are Christian, Jewish, and Hindu fanatics. In the West, Christian fanaticsism takes on all kinds of forms--from bombing abortion clinics to refusing medical intervention to save a life.

Islam[Judaism was more an ethnic cult and hardly sought converts] on the c ontrary never had a genuine Reformation and Enlightenment--despite having among its followers Averroes, Ibn Khaldun, Maimonides(Jewish), Al Gazali, etc. And what is very interesting is that despite showing great interest and feel for the probing and critical writings of the Ancient Greeks, the Greek paradigm just never penetrated to the level of the masses.

What happened in the West is that following the epistemic barrage from people Voltaire, Hume, Kant, D'Holbach, La Mettrie, Diderot, Marx, empirical science and critical philosophy became the dominant epistemological paradigms in the West.

Westerners have realised that the fruits of empirical science are much more tangible and effective than praying 5 times a day and adhering to ancient superstitions. For example shouting to the Deity for help did not stop the British from gassing the Iraqis and colonising that nation according to British colonial interests.

The thing about science and its major figures is that no one would care if important figures like Einstein or Newton cursed and criticised. With dogmatic religion its major figure have been sacralised and placed beyond human criticism on the part of the devoted.

So what Islam needs is a Reformation and an Enlightenment and a modernisation of its belief structures.
Judaism is a bit of a puzzle though because its holy book contains all the proscriptions and ancient rituals that were copied into the Koran. Fact: there are 3 Volumes to the Book of Monotheism. Figure them out---and the last 2 are more or less newer editions of Volume I.

The answer re the Jews is this: the Jews are Westerners and played an important in all the intellectual movemements in the West, and the Jewish indentity can be maintained even if one denounces Judaism--as Marx did. In fact, one can be strict aetheist and still be Jewish.

On the other hand, a Moslem cannot be an atheist, same for a Christian.

And it is because of lack of an Enlightenment with its Age of Rationalism and scientifc thinking that has set up the Moslem for invasions from the West and technological domination. There's humiliation and the only refuge is the ancient book and its major personality who has, for all practical purposes, been divinised. Thus secularisation of Mohammed would be an attack on the very personality of those who adhere to religious mythography.

dsquared

[It assumes that Western culture is at the same level of moral strength that it was when it encountered Hitler and Stalin. It clearly isnt]

Hahahaha. Yes, things are obviously worse now than they were in the 1930s. Listen to yourselves, for crying out loud.

In general, I'm only in the business of arguing about my actual views, not semi-attached news stories that other people have decided I might have taken a view on. But the historical record suggests to me at least that the Red Panics were a bit of a waste of time and energy and the Cold War progressed a lot better once we adopted detente (a policy which there was no shortage of people calling "appeasement", to forestall that one) and stopped having them.

Chuckles

Sometimes Dsquared, sometimes, you just seem high.

The issue was never about whether things are much worse; and you know it! You know it so well - ergo, why you have decided to pull off this bizzare and highly visible change of topic is something only you know.

I said the West had declined in moral strength - the tolerance level makes this obvious. People like you make it obvious. The arguments you shell out: \"People merely getting angry over cartoons\" - The Minister in Austria, That Free Speech is even being called in question make it obvious.

Yes, adopt detente with Islamists right in your midst and compare that with adopting detente with a USSR far away, or a small insignificant Cuba both faced with the clear and no nonsense threat of nuclear annihilation. Yes, adopt detente with an amorphous, decentralized, religious movement. Adopt detente with a virus with no shortage of viable hosts, adopt detente with a pandemic disease. Adopt detente with all of that! Jeez!

Jim

Speaking of detente and tolerance and what comes of it, there is an example from history that applies. Back in the 1880's and 1890's there was some settlement in the Dakotas and Saskatchewan from the Bekaa Valley - poor buggers! People had mosques and the whole bit - all gone now, all completley assimilated. Nothng remains but soem surnames. Most identities cannot survive against tolerance and indifference; they require opposition to define themselves. Beliefs are different, but in this case religion was moree about identity that belief. Anyway, something similar happened in China, where what originally was a fairly large community of Jews just witthered away over the centuries because no one paid them any attention, and they assumed more and more Chinese customs.

Neither of those scenarios applies in the case of Europe, where 1) there is a pattern of wanton violence and 2) there is no interest on either side in assimilation.

Sebastian Holsclaw

"the Cold War progressed a lot better once we adopted detente (a policy which there was no shortage of people calling "appeasement", to forestall that one) and stopped having them."

In your considered view was it more the detente or the long term economic failure of Communism that caused more Cold War progress?

Would the Cold War have progressed better if we had let South Korea be as North Korea is now rather than fight for it?

Jim

"the Cold War progressed a lot better once we adopted detente..."

The Cold war progressed a lot better when that wild man, that scared the shit out of the Germans as much as he did the Russians, called evil evil, and when resources started to flow into the units deployed in Europe - repair parts, soldiers, decent levels of trainig ammunition, all the stuff we hadn't had for a decades.

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