Posted tagged ‘Islam – causes of terrorism’

Islam and terror: Attempts at apologetics

April 8, 2016

Islam and terror: Attempts at apologetics, Israel Hayom, Martin Sherman, April 8, 2016

Barely 20 days before the bloody massacre at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the subsequent slaughter among the shelves of the kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher in the French capital — both perpetrated in the name of Islam — I took part in a televised debate on “The rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in the West”( i24 News, Dec. 16, 2014).

In an attempt to debunk the claim that Islam could or should be blamed for the wave of terror carried out overtly in its name, my opponent, Sami Abu Shehadeh, secretary general of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa branch of the anti-Zionist Israeli-Arab faction Balad, made the following pronouncement:

“One out of every six people all over the world is a Muslim. … Trying to say anything in general about this huge community — 1.5 billion people — will be wrong. … The vast majority of these populations are not involved with what’s happening with violence and terror all over the world. … I don’t think there is anything essential that connects between this huge and historically important religion, and all the terrorism that’s going on.”

Of course, there is much truth to Abu Shehadeh’s claim that most Muslims are not actively involved in terrorism. However, while this claim is factually correct, substantively it is meaningless.

(Obama Video at the link. — DM)

Islam is to terror as rainfall is to flooding

Indeed, for anyone with a reasonably informed grasp of world affairs and an iota of intellectual integrity, the answer to whether Islam and violence/terrorism are causally connected should be unequivocally clear. To ask whether Islam is associated with terrorism is a little like asking if rainfall is associated with flooding.

Of course it is, as can be irrefutably deduced from Abu Shehadeh’s very attempt to exonerate it. After all, if one in six people in the world is Muslim, then five out of six are not. Accordingly, if there were no inordinate Islamic affinity for violence/terrorism, the number of Muslim acts of terrorism should be one-fifth that of non-Muslim terrorism — that is, one would expect five times as many non-Muslim acts of terrorism as Muslim acts of terrorism.

Clearly, this is not the case. Terrorist attacks committed by adherents of Islam far outstrip those carried out by non-Muslims.

So, in stark contrast to the dubious precepts of political correctness, it seems there is little choice but to accept the commonsense conclusion that there is a wildly disproportionate causal connection between Islam on the one hand and acts of ideologically-politically motivated violence against civilian populations — terrorism — on the other.

Try as one may, in the modern world, there is no way that any other faith or creed can be as associated with such violence/terrorism, in scope, size, frequency or ubiquity.

The ‘colonialism’ canard

Numerous attempts have been made to explain away much of the prevalence of violence in the Muslim world and its conflict with the West.

Arguably, the most prominent among such apologists has been none other than U.S. President Barack Obama. In his 2009 “outreach address” in Cairo, he offered the following explanation for the sad state of affairs between the West and Islam, which, he alleged, followed “centuries of coexistence and cooperation” (yeah, right). Obama suggested that “more recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims.”

This argument clearly holds no water whatsoever, for while it is true that much of the Middle East was under imperial rule for centuries, this was mostly Muslim imperialism — the Ottoman Empire. After all, with perhaps the exception of North Africa, Western colonialism was imposed only for a relatively short period after World War I, and ended soon after World War II. This hardly seems sufficient to engender the obdurate Islamic enmity we see today.

So if complaints are to be lodged regarding colonialist deprivation of Muslim rights and opportunities, shouldn’t they be directed at Muslim imperialism?

Significantly, the crucibles of today’s most extreme anti-Western Islam were barely touched by colonialism — the Arabian Peninsula and Iran.

Although neither has endured any imperial — including Western — rule of any consequence, the former birthed the Sunni-derivative version of Islamic radicalism; the latter, the Shia-derivative.

Clearly, this fact sits uneasily with the diagnosis ascribing ongoing tensions between Muslims and the West to colonial injustices.

No cries of ‘Kill for Krishna’?

Moreover, one might well ask why the iniquities of colonialism have not afflicted, say, the Hindu majority in India, certainly “denied rights and opportunities” under the same yoke of British imperialism, no less than the Muslims in adjacent Pakistan.

Yet, in stark contrast to the bloodcurdling yells of “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”) so frequently heard as a precursor to some act of Muslim-related atrocity, we somehow hear no cries of “Kill for Krishna” or “Ganesh is Great” from embittered Hindu terrorists, blowing themselves up in crowded buses, markets, cafes and mosques. Nor do we see aggrieved devotees of Shiva embarking on a global holy war, dedicated to the subjugation of all to the Hindu creed.

So why has India, to a large extent, been able to put its colonial past behind it, and become a vibrant economic juggernaut? Why has it not allowed itself to remain tethered to its past and mired in fratricidal frustration that has so beset its Muslim neighbor, Pakistan? After all, since by far most victims of Muslim violence are other Muslims, rights and opportunities allegedly denied by foreign occupiers, seven decades ago, seem an unpersuasive explanation for Islam’s current conduct.

Modernity as culprit?

Some have tried to contend that the onset of modernity and globalization has generated a perceived threat to Islamic values, which has precipitated tensions with the West. Thus, in Cairo, Obama suggested that “the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to Islamic traditions.” This, too, is difficult to accept.

After all, Islam is the youngest of all major religions, founded centuries — even in some cases, millennia — after Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity. Why would the newest religion find that the developments of modernity threaten its traditions in a manner that, apparently, does not threaten the traditions of faiths far more ancient? Why do they not generate the same tensions with the West that we find in the case of the Muslim faith? Could it perhaps be that Islam is fundamentally incompatible, not only with modernity, not only with anything that is not Islam, but even with variations of Islam within itself?

After all, as appalling as Muslim violence against non-Muslims might be, it pales in comparison to the violence between Muslims.

Horrors of intra-Muslim strife

Indeed, as the Pakistani website Dawn lamented (June 17, 2013): “From Aleppo in Syria to Quetta in Balochistan, Muslims are engaged in the slaughter of other Muslims. The numbers are enormous. … Millions have perished in similar intra-Muslim conflicts in the past four decades. Many wonder if the belief in Islam was sufficient to bind Muslims in peace with each other.”

And wonder we might. For even before the unspeakable barbarism of al-Nusra and Islamic State began to sweep across the Levant, and the ghastly savagery of Boko Haram and al-Shabaab ravaged huge swathes of Africa, and merciless massacres of Muslims at the hands of Muslims abounded.

For example, in the almost 10-year Algerian civil war, internecine frictions between rival Islamist factions resulted in massive fratricide, with a death toll reaching, by some estimates, 150,000. Acts of unimaginable brutality were perpetrated, with entire villages wiped out and victims’ bodies mutilated.

Likewise, regular bombings of markets and mosques across countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have produced massive loss of Muslim life at the hands of belligerent brethren, yet hardly generate a footnote in the mainstream media. The intra-Muslim conflict seems so intense and complex that even a reasonably informed layman would find it almost impossible to figure out who is killing whom, and why.

The majority of Muslims

The pervasive violence in the Muslim world inevitably raises the question of the general character of Islam, and the kind of behavioral patterns it seems to generate. It also raises the thorny question of minority actions versus majority inaction.

Thus, while Abu Shehadeh is probably right to claim that only a minority of Muslims engage in abhorrent acts of terrorism, it is highly unlikely they would be able to sustain this activity without the support — or at least the tacit approval — of much larger segments of the population.

Even if the majority does not actively endorse the conduct of a delinquent minority, there is little evidence of effective disapproval, let alone active opposition to it. So, although, as Abu Shehadeh contends, it is difficult to formulate accurate generalizations for 1.5 billion people, several edifying measures are available that paint a daunting picture of the views held by much of the Muslim world.

The Pew Research Center has conducted numerous in-depth surveys across much of the Muslim world. Its findings show solid — at times, overwhelming — majorities in many countries (and significant minorities in others) in favor of harsh corporal punishments (whipping/amputation) for theft/robbery; death by stoning for adultery; and death for apostasy.

With such a propensity for violence as a widely accepted cultural norm, it is not implausible to assume that wide sections of the Muslim population would not find the use of violence and terrorism overly incompatible with their core beliefs.

Islam is a political theory of conquest

We, in the West, would do well to heed the clarion call from someone who has intimate firsthand knowledge of Islam — the Somalian-born former Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was forced to flee to the U.S. because of threats to her life over her criticism of Islam. She warned: “Islam is not a religion of peace. It’s a political theory of conquest that seeks domination by any means it can. Every accommodation of Muslim demands leads to a sense of euphoria and a conviction that Allah is on their side. They see every act of appeasement as an invitation to make fresh demands” (March 21, 2009).

The consequences of disregarding this will be dire — and deadly.