Posted tagged ‘Islamist moral values’

Rethinking “Radicalization”: Dutch Researcher Discusses What Makes a Homegrown Terrorist

December 26, 2017

Rethinking “Radicalization”: Dutch Researcher Discusses What Makes a Homegrown Terrorist, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abigail R. Esman, December 26, 2017

(Terrorism is obviously bad and we need to do our best to prevent it. However, my principal concern is about political Islam, aka Islamism. Islamists often do not need to engage in terrorism; they can rely instead on whatever democratic processes are available to Islamise nations. Look at Canada, for example. “Islamophobia” laws restrict free speech about Islam and its anti-democracy, pro-theocracy tendencies. In America, CAIR fights “Islamophobia” as well as organizations which want Muslims to respect American law. Here’s video on America and Sharia law.

(– DM)

On Nov. 2, 2004, Dutch filmmaker and writer Theo van Gogh left his home and set off to work, riding his bicycle as he did most days through the quiet streets of Amsterdam.

Minutes later, 26-year-old Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim angered by van Gogh’s writings and films about radical Islam, fired eight shots at the filmmaker. As Van Gogh stumbled, Bouyeri shot again, then stabbed him with a butcher knife, piercing straight through his chest. Then he sliced across Theo van Gogh’s throat in a failed effort to decapitate him before stabbing him one final time. It was, as many later said, the country’s 9/11, the arrival of Islamist terrorism to the tranquil tulip fields and calm canals of the Netherlands.

Mohammed Bouyeri acted alone, but he was a leading member of what later became known as the Hofstadgroep (Hofstad Group), a loosely-knit circle of Dutch Muslim youth from Amsterdam and The Hague with extremist ideas and half-hatched plans to execute terrorist attacks around the country. In the days following Van Gogh’s death, police raided a home in The Hague, arresting seven Hofstadgroep members after a standoff lasting several hours.

Their trials, and the trials of other members, have shaped much of the Dutch understanding of Islamist terrorism both for citizens and law enforcement. Above all, the cases showed definitively that European Muslims could be radicalized, and that even Muslims raised in the West had become a threat.

In fact, as Bart Schuurman, a research Fellow at the International Centre for Counterterrorism in The Hague, argues in his upcoming book, Becoming A European Homegrown Terrorist, the Hofstadgroep case ultimately came to define homegrown jihadism in Europe. Thanks, too, to the work of Dutch journalists Janny Groen and Annieke Kranenberg, studies into the women in and around the Hofstadgroep have provided important insights into the radicalization of Muslim women in the West, and their role in homegrown jihad.

For his research, Schuurman spoke with Hofstadgroep members and studied the police interviews with the Hofstadgroep to better understand their actions and thought processes.

On the eve of the publication of his new book, Schuurman talked to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) about his findings, what they say about the making of a homegrown terrorist, and how his research can help bring new insights to the fight against Islamist terror.

Abigail R. Esman: The Hofstadgroep was limited to the Netherlands, and the group preceded (by over a decade) the rise of ISIS and even social media. How is knowledge about that group still useful for a more global and more contemporary analysis of home-grown terrorism?

Bart Schuurman: The Hofstadgroep is indeed an older case as it was active between 2002 and 2005. As such, it was part of what could be called the first wave of European homegrown jihadism. I argue that insights we can derive from how and why people became involved in the Hofstadgroep are still relevant now for several reasons. First of all, like the current foreign fighter phenomenon, the Hofstadgroep’s extremist inner-circle also initially tried to join jihadist insurgencies overseas. Only when this failed, did some of them begin to consider and plan terrorist attacks in the Netherlands. Secondly, the Hofstadgroep was not a phenomenon unique to the Netherlands, but one example of the broader phenomenon of European homegrown jihadism that is still with us today. While much has changed in terms of context, such as a shift in focus from Afghanistan to Syria, many of the underlying dynamics driving involvement in this type of terrorism remain unaltered. I think that the field of terrorism studies sometimes has the unwarranted tendency to see every development in the terrorist threat as heralding a fundamentally ‘new’ situation to which our previous explanations and theories are of little to no utility. I’d argue it’s exactly the opposite; especially because it’s relatively easier to access high-quality data on older cases, they are a great resource for informing the ongoing debate on what can motivate (and prevent!) people from becoming involved in terrorism.

ARE: Are there any other groups like the Hofstadgroep today, either in the Netherlands or elsewhere?

BS: In ideological terms, the Hofstadgroep could be broadly characterized as driven by an extremist Salafi-Jihadist worldview and focused on waging a ‘defensive’ jihad against what they saw as Western geopolitical aggression and the threat posed by heresy and apostasy. I think it’s safe to say that such views have continued to be embraced by Islamist extremists in the Netherlands and Europe more broadly, although it is difficult to assess the scale on which this has occurred. But it is crucial to distinguish between holding radical or extremist views and becoming involved in any capacity in terrorist violence. The vast majority of radicals never cross this threshold. What I think we see today in Europe is that relatively small numbers of (would-be) jihadist terrorists continue to pose a serious threat and that they are embedded in a broader ‘radical milieu’ from which they draw support. While this threat is a very real one, I think it is important to keep in mind that these individuals and groups are not representative of the Muslim community as a whole. A key observation that we sometimes miss, is that Muslims are in fact the number one victims of groups like [ISIS] and al-Qaeda when we look at the violence in countries like Syria and Iraq.

ARE: What did you learn about the personalities of those likely to join such groups, or to act as lone wolves? (Is there also a similarity between those who join groups and lone wolf attackers?)

BS: Most researchers would agree that there is no such thing as a terrorist profile, at least not one of any practical utility. Most terrorists are relatively young and most are male; beyond that considerably diversity has been observed in terms of socioeconomic background, family obligations etcetera. None of which means that personality factors cannot play a role at all. In fact, things like past involvement in violence or previous socialization to extremist beliefs can be important parts of the explanation for why someone became involved in terrorism. Perhaps the most important thing that I took away from my Hofstadgroep study in terms of the influence of personality factors, is that extremism and terrorism cannot simply be explained as stemming from psychopathology or deprivation. On the whole, group-based terrorists are not driven (primarily) by mental health problems or lack of opportunities to pursue alternative career paths in society. The uncomfortable truth is that, for many of these individuals, involvement in terrorism is a more or less conscious decision. An interesting finding about lone actors is that many of them did not ‘go it alone’ for tactical considerations, but because they failed to join or form a terrorist cell of their own. This may tie into the higher prevalence of mental health problems among lone actor extremists, which can make them appear untrustworthy or simply disagreeable and therefore prevent them from being truly accepted by other extremists.

ARE: Is there a difference between those who join local groups and the lone wolf types who are influenced by ISIS and Al Qaeda? That is to say, do they see the larger terror groups in the same way Hofstadgroep members saw their own group?

BS: Again, while some lone actors (Unabomber, Breivik) make a conscious decision to operate alone, many would have liked to join others but failed to do so. But both lone actors and participants in groups like Hofstad are generally heavily-influenced by the larger radical milieu of which they are a part; taking inspiration from videos, writings, speeches etc. of leading figures and groups.

ARE: You distinguish between radicalization and fanaticism in your work. Can you explain what these are?

BS: I have been critical of the concept of radicalization for a long time. Although it has become a household term since 2004, it doesn’t really explain how and why people become involved in extremism and terrorism. Radicalization suffers from lack of a clear definition and it is inherently subjective. A century ago, those in favor of extending voting rights to women were often labeled radicals by their opponents. Few would (hopefully!) dare make that same argument now. Not only do our views of what is ‘radical’ change over time, but by associating radicalization so closely with terrorism, we have lumped together activists who, although we may disagree with them, are essentially advocating change while remaining within the limits of the liberal democratic order, with individuals and groups committed to the use of extreme violence to get what they want. If that isn’t problematic enough, most interpretations of radicalization continue to overstate the degree to which beliefs influence behavior. Saying someone was ‘radicalized’ prior to committing a terrorist act doesn’t really help us understand that act; there are millions of people with radical or extremist views and the vast majority of them never become involved in terrorism in any way, shape or form. So while extremist beliefs are usually an important component of the overall picture of why people commit terrorism, they are insufficient by themselves to function as an explanation. For that reason, I think we should stop talking about radicalization and instead study the pathways to lead to involvement in terrorism, as this implicitly draws attention to the multitude of factors that constitute such processes. Fanaticism struck me as a more useful concept because, as it was developed by British psychologist Max Taylor, it recognizes that not all ‘fanatics’ will act on their beliefs but stipulates conditions under which they are more likely to do so. “Fanaticism” is thus able to overcome, at least to some degree, “radicalization’s” greatest shortcoming; namely, why the vast majority of radicals never become terrorists.

ARE: Why are fanatics more likely to become violent?

BS: It is more a question of when, rather than why. Fanaticism (or radicalism, if you will) is more likely to actually lead to violence when 1) the beliefs adhered to are distinctly militant; 2) when the fanatic/radical also holds to millenarian views, such as that the apocalypse is nigh and can be hastened by the individual believer; and 3) (to me most importantly) when the radical/fanatic is not exposed to contrarian views that can challenge his/her extremist convictions or inject some grey into a black/white world-view.

ARE: You also indicate that the Hofstadgroep members were less concerned with creating change than with making a statement about their own Islamic identity. In a way, it seems you are saying it was more about themselves than about the world. That’s an interesting perspective for me, because it parallels my own ideas about terrorists being narcissists, and I wonder if this isn’t in fact true of other terrorists and terror groups – not just Islamist. Is this a view or an approach to terrorism we have overlooked? Maybe we’ve been missing the real picture. Or is it some of both?

BS: I am always a bit careful using terms like narcissism because people can then be quick to pathologize such statements. But there is definitely something interesting going on in terms of identity. A key question for me is always; why would anyone join a terrorist group? The most likely outcomes are death or a life in prison. Now, while jihadists (at least profess to) want to die for their beliefs, terrorism has a much longer and broader history than Islamist extremism alone. There have been many secular terrorist groups who were not keen to go to an afterlife. So, what does terrorism offer that can make some people takes these risks? A large part of the answer lies, I believe, in the attractions of group membership. Things like status within a particular community, the notion of being part of something grandiose and important, the feeling of living an important and exciting life, the comradeship formed under fire, these are key factors binding people to terrorist groups, whether we’re talking about [ISIS], the IRA or the Italian Red Brigades. I think it would be great to delve more deeply into such factors in future research.

ARE: Finally: How can your research help counterterrorism analysts and law enforcement going forward?

BS: I hope that my work will be able make a contribution to the work of counterterrorism policymakers and practitioners in two ways. First of all, by providing a unique primary-sources based account of how and why involvement in a key example of European homegrown jihadist group occurred, I hope to contribute to their subject-matter expertise. More importantly, I hope that my findings will challenge counterterrorism professionals to keep critically re-examining the assumptions about such processes that they use to guide their own work.

Sweden’s New Government Censorship

November 29, 2017

Sweden’s New Government Censorship, Gatestone Institute Judith Bergman, November 29, 2017

(Please see also, Sweden: Nobody helped woman raped by 20 Muslim migrants — neighbors have “learned not to see or hear too much.” — DM)

In the report, placing the word “refugees” in quotation marks, as well as “unaccompanied children,” is supposedly an expression of “hate”. (Many, if not most, migrants classified as “unaccompanied children” have turned out to be grown men).

Government agencies are going out of their way to protect the “integrity” of possible jihadists out of concern for a “democratic society” — the society that these jihadists want to subvert and destroy — and are using their government platform to smear non-mainstream media for matters as small as the use of quotation marks. What about the “integrity” of Swedish citizens and their right to not be blown up?

Why is a municipality sponsoring an organization that supports terrorists and even awarding it prizes? It appears that glorifying terrorism is acceptable in Sweden, so long as its victims are the Israeli children. Far from countering “hate”, Sweden appears to be doing all it can to strengthen Muslim extremism.

The Swedish government is now officially questioning free speech. A government agency has declared so-called Swedish “new media” — news outlets that refuse to subscribe to the politically correct orthodoxies of the mainstream media — a possible threat to democracy. In a government report, tellingly called “The White Hatred” written by Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut (Total Defense Research Institute), a government agency under the Swedish Ministry of Defense, Swedish new media such as Samhällsnytt (formerly known as Avpixlat), Nyheter Idag and Nya Tider are lumped together with neo-Nazi media such as Nordfront.

“Hate” is defined broadly to include violent extremism, “hateful expressions”, jokes, internet trolling and even the use of certain quotation marks. For instance, in the report, placing the word “refugees” in quotation marks, as well as “unaccompanied children,” is supposedly an expression of “hate”. (Many, if not most, migrants classified as “unaccompanied children” have turned out to be grown men).

“One might find,” according to the report’s conclusion, “that pluralism of information sources… is a positive addition in a democratic society where freedom of speech is an important foundation”, but “the new media… stretch the limits of free speech,” which “threatens other democratic values”. The report further alleges that society risks becoming tolerant of the intolerant. That is rather rich coming from the authorities of a European country that has accepted Islamic intolerance to an astounding degree. There is even a proposal from a government minister to reintegrate returning ISIS fighters, who might still wish to destroy the tolerant society that houses them.

The report is part of a series commissioned by the Swedish government to conduct quantitative mapping and analyses of violent extremist propaganda spread in Sweden by the internet and social media. The survey is supposed to include violent extremist environments in Sweden: right-wing extremism, left-wing extremism and Islamic extremism.

A previous report, “The Digital Caliphate,” supposedly looks at Islamic extremism, but is rendered useless in a Swedish context by explicitly refusing to engage with concrete ISIS propaganda in Sweden for “ethical” reasons:

“It is not in itself illegal to sympathize with violent ideologies. Our work is not about mapping the views of private people, as that would be incompatible with an open democratic society. Our analyses have therefore been limited to protect the integrity of private persons. No data has been collected from pages protected by passwords, closed Facebook pages or other types of Facebook pages or social media where the user has sought to keep the material within a closed group. All the material comes from open sources… this means that the material analyzed is limited as a large part of ISIS propaganda happens in closed channels…”

Government agencies in charge of national security, in other words, are going out of their way to protect the “integrity” of possible jihadists out of concerns for a “democratic society” — the society that these jihadists want to subvert and destroy. Meanwhile, these agencies are using their government platform to smear non-mainstream media for matters as small as the use of quotation marks. What about the “integrity” of Swedish citizens and their right to not be blown up? Furthermore, this desire to protect the privacy of potential jihadists means that the most vital part of the work — mapping the extent of Islamist violent propaganda in Sweden — is still left undone.

Sweden’s government agencies in charge of national security are going out of their way to protect the “integrity” of jihadists — people like Mikael Skråmo, a Swedish convert to Islam and jihadist who went to fight for ISIS in Syria, and urged Muslims in Sweden to bomb their workplaces.

At the same time, the Swedish establishment has its own private vigilante mob acting as the thought police. A 76,000-member closed Facebook group, called “Jagärhär” (“I am here”), is a private initiative founded by journalist Mina Dennert to attack opinions on social media with which its members disagree. “She noticed that there were people around us who had been frightened into believing all these images painted by ‘alternative media’ of people of foreign backgrounds as violent criminals… ” explains Dennert’s husband, one of the group’s administrators, who works for Swedish state television. The network has already won four prizes for its “work” in Sweden, including a prize from the Swedish group “Equalisters” (‘Rättviseförmedlingen’), which awarded the network their annual prize, naming it the group that had done the most for equality in 2016. Dennert was also awarded the Anna Lindh Prize.

The methods of “Jagärhär” vary. One tactic is to send mass complaints against a Facebook profile, causing it to be removed by the social media giant. This verdict by mob rule is what happened to the Swedish-Czech author Katerina Janouch, whose profile was shut down several times by Facebook — the apparent result of publishing, among other things, a satirical guide to political correctness. The network, which is one year old, is believed to be closely associated with Sweden’s national public television and the Social Democratic party.

Mina Dennert, also with close connections to the Swedish government, had her network apply for half a million Swedish kroner (nearly $60,000) government grant to support its work, which involved shutting down dissent on social media. Her network, however, recently withdrew its application after its dubious “work” had been revealed by none other than the new media in Sweden. The Jagärhär network has apparently inspired similar projects in other countries, such as #IchBinHier in Germany.

Meanwhile, Islamic extremists in Sweden continue their work. In Malmö, Group 194 — a Swedish-Muslim group that glorifies terrorism and actively sympathizes with the Arab terrorist group Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine(DFLP) — participated in one of the DFLP’s activities in Malmö in 2016. At the meeting, in which Swedish socialists apparently also participated, the participants reportedly celebrated the Ma’alot massacre, an Arab terrorist attack on an Israeli school in 1974 in which 115 hostages (including 105 children) were taken and 25 were murdered. The group, it seems, also routinely carries posters of Arab terrorists when it marches in the streets of Malmö on International Workers’ Day. Group 194’s entire work is focused on virulent anti-Israeli activism, as evidenced by its Facebook page. Sweden clearly has no problem with allowing hate speech from DFLP terrorists in Malmö.

This Swedish-Muslim group, bizarrely, is part of an initiative to make Malmö safe (Trygg Malmö or “Safe Malmö”). As part of this work, it is responsible for patrolling Rosengård — one of the most problematic no-go zones in Malmö — at night. The group was awarded SEK 10,000 (about $1,000) recently by the Malmö municipality — together with the other groups in Trygg Malmö — for its work in Rosengård. Why is a municipality sponsoring an organization that supports terrorists and even awarding it prizes? It appears that glorifying terrorism is acceptable in Sweden, so long as its victims are the Israeli children.

Originally, a Swedish administrative court, in a recent decision, ruled that there was no basis for denying the Muslim organization Young Muslims of Sweden (SUM) its state subsidy. Young Muslims of Sweden, which is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, had been denied state subsidies by the Swedish Ministry of Youth and Civil Affairs, as Young Muslims of Sweden and its member organizations “have been identified as an environment” where some individuals do not respect the ideas of democracy. The Swedish court did not think that there was sufficient evidence for taking away the state subsidy, so Young Muslims of Sweden may soon find its activities funded by taxpayers once more.

Far from countering “hate”, Sweden appears to be doing all it can to strengthen Muslim extremism.

Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

Boston Islamic Seminary Training Next Gen Extremists

November 21, 2017

Boston Islamic Seminary Training Next Gen Extremists, Clarion ProjectSam Westrop, November 21, 2017

Anti-Semitic Teachers at the Boston Islamic Seminary (left to right): Hisham Mahmoud, Yahia Abdul Rahman, Amr El-Fass and Suheil Laher. (Photos: social media)

New research by the Middle East Forum has uncovered evidence of extreme antisemitism among faculty members and guest speakers appointed by the Islamic Society of Boston to teach and promote its latest project: the Boston Islamic Seminary (BIS).

BIS was established in 2016 to “equip future religious leaders with the intellectual, spiritual and practical training to serve the American Muslim community.” Currently, it offers “continuing education” classes, but it hopes to offer an accredited graduate degree program by 2019, which will “train chaplains, imams, and other leaders to serve in a variety of contexts.”

And what exactly will this next generation of chaplains and imams learn at BIS?

Faculty listed on the BIS website include Yahia Abdul Rahman, who is described as an expert on “sharia-compliant” banking. On his social media accounts, Abdul Rahman has posted stories from “The Ugly Truth,” a website that describes itself as “intelligent ‘anti-Semitism’ for thinking Gentiles.”

Elsewhere, Rahman has shared claims that any Muslim who fails to oppose Israel is no longer a Muslim and is afflicted with a “Jewish heart.” Other posts of his claim the Jews were complicit in the 2008 financial crisis.

Another BIS lecturer, Suheil Laher, previously served as head of the (now-defunct) al-Qaeda charity, CARE International. On his old website, Laher published calls to jihad and linked to an al-Qaeda fundraising website. On his current website, Laher refers to homosexuals as “depraved sinners.”

Other current BIS faculty members include Amr El-Fass, who suggests that Jews are to blame for intra-Arab conflict, and Hisham Mahmoud, whom moderate Muslim groups denounced after he likened homosexuality to pedophilia and advocated that homosexuals should be punished.

Guest speakers are BIS are just as extreme. In June 2016, BIS invited Abdelrahman Murphy to address a BIS audience. Murphy, who is a former employee of the Islamic Society of Boston, works for the Qalam Institute, which hosts a document on its website warning that Muslims who seek “cleanliness” and “purity” should “not resemble the Jews.” Murphy has stated: “There is no such thing as an innocent Israeli.”

Another speaker at the BIS event with Murphy was Yousef Abdallah, who serves as the “East Coast Operations Manager” for Islamic Relief, a prominent Islamist charity. Abdallah has posted jokes on social media about “stinking” Jews, has written that Chris Christie is “down on his knees before the jewish lords” and has shared a story praising “martyrs” who provide guns to “kill more than 20 jews” and “fire rockets at Tel Aviv.”

The Middle East Forum has uncovered several other examples. We asked the Boston branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — which often talks about other examples of hate speech — for comment, but it did not reply. Curiously, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston also failed to respond.

For many readers, this must all seem like a familiar story. BIS is a project of the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), which, since its founding over 10 years ago, has displayed much evidence of extremism. Inaugural trustees of the ISB included Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was praised by Bin Laden, and Abdulrahman Alamoudi, an al-Qaeda fundraiser who was jailed in 2004 for conspiring with the Libyan regime to assassinate a Saudi crown prince.

In 2004, Boston Jewish leaders condemned another mosque trustee named Walid Fitaihi, after he denounced Jews as the “murderers of prophets” and claimed that they “would be punished for their oppression, murder and rape of the worshippers of Allah.” The very same Walid Fitaihi is now listed on the BIS website as a faculty member.

The Boston Islamic Seminary promises to educate the next generation of Muslims in Massachusetts. These chaplains, imams and community leaders will in turn educate Muslim communities all over America for many decades to come.

Thus far, none of Boston’s political or religious leaders has expressed alarm over the extremists behind Boston’s newest Islamic institution. The question remains: Exactly how much hatred for Jews and other minorities must be revealed before leaders will speak out?

This article appeared originally on Middle East Forum and was reprinted with permission.

Brigitte Gabriel and Dave Rubin: Terrorism, The Muslim Brotherhood, and Linda Sarsour

July 9, 2017

Brigitte Gabriel and Dave Rubin: Terrorism, The Muslim Brotherhood, and Linda Sarsour via YouTube, May 19, 2017

(The transition of Lebanon from a vibrant homogeneous society into an Islamist state where Muslims, formerly friends of Christians and Jews, became violent enemies — about five minutes into the video — bodes ill for much of Europe. Although this video was posted on YouTube on May 19th, some of the content suggests that the interview occurred significantly earlier.  — DM

 

Islamic Relief Fails a Whitewash

July 3, 2017

Islamic Relief Fails a Whitewash, Gatestone InstituteSamuel Westrop, July 3, 2017

(Please see also, What Hamas Wants. — DM)

Even if the Canadian branch of Islamic Relief claims not to have directly funded these Hamas groups, its own accounts reveal grants of millions of dollars to its parent organization, Islamic Relief Worldwide, which oversees the movement of money to a number of Hamas fronts.

Islamic Relief branches also receive money from several terror-linked Middle Eastern charities, including those established by Sheikh al Zindani, whom the US government has designated a “Global Terrorist.”

Islamic Relief did not much care for the exposé. Reyhana Patel, a senior figure at its Canadian branch, first persuaded the Post to bowdlerize the article by removing some of the sourced material and adding sentences in defense of Islamic Relief.

On May 20, a Muslim cleric, Nouman Ali Khan spoke at a fundraising event in Toronto for Islamic Relief, one of the largest Muslim charities in the world.

Khan preaches that prostitutes and pornographic actors are “filth” and that “you have to punish them … They’re not killed; they’re whipped. And they’re whipped a hundred times.” Khan has also declared that God gives men “license” to beat unfaithful wives, and that Muslim women are committing a “crime” if they object to the religious text that he says permits this abuse.

Muslim cleric Nouman Ali Khan says that God gives men “license” to beat unfaithful wives, and that Muslim women are committing a “crime” if they object to the religious text that he says permits this abuse. (Image source: Rossi101/Wikimedia Commons)

Before the event took place, this author had written about Khan and Islamic Relief in the National Post, with the help of colleagues at the Middle East Forum.

Islamic Relief did not much care for the exposé. Reyhana Patel, a senior figure at its Canadian branch, first persuaded the Post to bowdlerize the article by removing some of the sourced material and adding sentences in defense of Islamic Relief.

Patel then published in the Post a response that denounced our research as “false… one-sided and unsubstantiated.”

Really? In a rather major failing, she failed even to address Nouman Ali Khan’s presence at the Islamic Relief event.

Instead, she boasted of her own humanitarian goodness and attacked the Middle East Forum (MEF) as an “anti-Muslim think tank” that “uses some of its resources to paint a negative picture of Islam and Muslims.” MEF has always, in fact, argued the very opposite. It believes that if radical Islam is the problem, then moderate Islam is the solution. This very maxim can be found in dozens of articles on its website. MEF supports a number of moderate Muslim groups working to challenge extremism, and encourages others to do the same.

It is old habit of Islamists to accuse anti-Islamist activists of being anti-Muslim, because it allows them misleadingly to conflate Islam and Islamism. That obfuscation severely inhibits the work of moderate Muslims trying to free their faith from the grip of these extremists.

Patel’s only reference to the charges of Middle East Forum, in fact, appears to be a deliberate misquote. She writes that MEF “labelled Islamic Relief Canada a ‘terrorist organization which regularly gives platforms to preachers who incite hatred against women, Jews, homosexuals and Muslim minorities.'” Islamic Relief does indeed regularly give platforms to such preachers — Nouman Ali Khan is just one example in the weekly pattern of this charity and its branches across the world.

But MEF did not claim that Islamic Relief was a “terrorist organization.” I wrote that it was “financially linked with a number of terrorist groups.” Islamic Relief branches have, for example, indeed given money to several groups in Gaza linked to the designated terrorist group Hamas. These include the Al Falah Benevolent Society, which the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre describes as one of “Hamas’s charitable societies.” And even if the Canadian branch of Islamic Relief claims not to have directly funded these Hamas groups, its own accounts reveal grants of millions of dollars to its parent organization, Islamic Relief Worldwide, which oversees the movement of money to a number of Hamas fronts.

Islamic Relief branches also receives money from several terror-linked Middle Eastern charities, including those established by Sheikh al Zindani, whom the US government has designated a “Global Terrorist.”

Although MEF believes that Islamic Relief is financially linked to terror, no one wrote that the charity itself is a terrorist organization. Others, however, are less circumspect. In 2014, the United Arab Emirates designated Islamic Relief as a terrorist organization. And in 2016, the banking giant HSBC shut down Islamic Relief’s bank accounts in the United Kingdom “amid concerns that cash for aid could end up with terrorist groups abroad.”

Perhaps Reyhana Patel hoped that by smearing the Middle East Forum, and telling her readers about her love of “diversity … tolerance and inclusion,” she could sell Islamic Relief as a force for good. The charity’s regular promotion of hate preachers and financial links to terrorist groups, however, says otherwise.

And is Patel herself really so dedicated to supporting peace and tolerance? Her social media posts and a short-lived career as a journalist suggest not. Patel has a history, it seems, of attacking organizations that oppose religious extremism. In 2014, Patel wrote an article condemning Student Rights, a British organization that works to expose homophobia, racism and other forms of extremism on campus. Without seriously addressing the group’s research, Patel described the organization as “sensationalist and misleading.” Sound familiar?

Patel has also defended gender-segregation imposed by Muslim student groups at Britain’s public universities, and then complained that Muslim women who oppose this misogynistic behavior “seem to want to discredit and deamonise [sic] me.”

Further, Patel has expressed praise for Malia Bouattia, a prominent student activist in Britain whose anti-Semitism was the subject of national media coverage. In 2011, Bouattia condemned a university with a large Jewish population as a “Zionist outpost.” In 2014, she opposed a motion at a student conference that condemned ISIS on the grounds that such condemnation was “Islamophobic.” That same year, a British parliamentary report concluded that Bouattia was guilty of “outright racism.”

If this is the company Reyhana Patel keeps, then perhaps Nouman Ali Khan’s extremism is a perfect fit for Islamic Relief Canada.

Islamic Relief was designated a terrorist organization by a pious Muslim country. Western banks have closed its accounts over terrorism concerns, and, just last month, Britain’s Charity Commission starting investigating the charity for hosting a preacher who justifies killing homosexuals.

The Islamic Relief franchise is a charitable front for extremism in the West. That it has managed to build a favorable reputation is testament to the careful doublespeak of its officials. Such duplicity should not be tolerated.

Samuel Westrop is the Director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

The Great Price of “Blaspheming” against Muhammad

May 15, 2017

The Great Price of “Blaspheming” against Muhammad, Gatestone InstituteRaymond Ibrahim, May 14, 2017

Because the word of a Christian “infidel” is not valid against the word of a Muslim, accusations of blasphemy, often with little or no evidence, routinely lead to the beating, imprisonment, and possible killing of Christians and other minorities every month in Pakistan.

“The available evidence in all these cases suggests that charges were brought as a measure to intimidate and punish members of minority religious communities… hostility towards religious minority groups appeared in many cases to be compounded by personal enmity, professional or economic rivalry or a desire to gain political advantage.” — Amnesty International.

“Iran sentences a 21-year-old man to death for ‘insulting Islam’ … after confessing when police promised he would be pardoned if he came clean.” — Daily Mail.

A few days ago in Pakistan, a Christian pastor who has been “tortured every day in prison” since 2012 when he was first incarcerated, was sentenced to life in prison. Zafar Bhatti, 51, is accused of sending “blasphemous” text messages from his mobile phone; but human rights activists contend that the charge “was fabricated to remove him from his role as a Pastor.” His wife, Nawab Bibi, says:

“Many Muslim people hated how quickly his church was growing; they have taken this action to undermine his work. Yet despite their actions the church grows. I wish our persecutors would see that Christians are not evil creatures. We are human beings created by God the same God that created them although they do not know this yet.”

She adds, “There have been numerous attempts to kill my husband — he is bullied everyday and he is not safe from inmates and prison staff alike.” In 2014, he “narrowly escaped assassination after a rogue prison officer,” Muhammad Yousaf, went on a shooting spree “to kill all inmates accused of blasphemy against Islam.”

Bhatti is one of countless Christian minorities to suffer under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which has helped make that country the fourth-worst nation in the world in which to be Christian.

Asia Bibi, a Christian wife and mother, has been on death row since 2010 on the accusation that she insulted the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code:

“Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Because the word of a Christian “infidel” is not valid against the word of a Muslim, accusations of blasphemy, often with little or no evidence, routinely lead to the beating, imprisonment or killing of Christians and other minorities every month in Pakistan.[1] An Amnesty International report from 1994 summarizes the situation:

Several dozen people have been charged with blasphemy in Pakistan over the last few years; in all the cases known to Amnesty International, the charges of blasphemy appear to have been arbitrarily brought, founded solely on the individuals’ minority religious beliefs… The available evidence in all these cases suggests that charges were brought as a measure to intimidate and punish members of minority religious communities… hostility towards religious minority groups appeared in many cases to be compounded by personal enmity, professional or economic rivalry or a desire to gain political advantage. As a consequence, Amnesty International has concluded that most of the individuals now facing charges of blasphemy, or convicted on such charges, are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for their real or imputed religious beliefs in violation of their right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Other Christians accused of blasphemy never get the chance for even a mock trial and are dealt “justice” at the hands of angry mobs — such as the young Christian couple burned alive on a spurious accusation of blasphemy in November 2014. A report from 2012 found that “Since 1990 alone, fifty-two people have been extra-judicially murdered on charges of blasphemy” in Pakistan.

Last month, three burqa-wearing sisters shot and killed a man accused of committing blasphemy in 2004. “[W]e couldn’t kill him at the time because we were too young then,” they explained.

Also last month, a 23-year-old college student “was killed and another seriously injured by a vigilante mob for allegedly ‘publishing blasphemous content online.'” The incident occurred on campus; the mob was yelling “Allahu Akbar” throughout.

Although Islam’s blasphemy law is most associated with Pakistan, several other Muslim nations use it to persecute Christians and other minorities. Days ago, around the same time Bhatti was being sentenced to life in Pakistan, in Indonesia, Ahok, the Christian governor of Jakarta, was sentenced to two years in prison on the charge of insulting Islam and desecrating the Koran.[2] Similarly, on March 30, a report appeared saying, “Iran sentences a 21-year-old man to death for ‘insulting Islam’ … after confessing when police promised he would be pardoned if he came clean.”

JAKARTA, INDONESIA – MAY 09: Members of various hardline Muslim groups celebrate after Jakarta’s Governor was convicted of committing blasphemy on May 9, 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Hardline Muslim groups gathered outside Jakarta’s court during the trial of Governor Basuki Tjahaja Pernama known widely as “Ahok”, who was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday after being found guilty of blasphemy as the trial continues to threaten social harmony in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. (Photo by Ed Wray/Getty Images)

Earlier this year in Algeria, Samir Chamek, a 34-year-old Christian man, was sentenced to a year in prison after a court found him “guilty of insulting Islam and its prophet over items he posted on his Facebook page.” They were described as “accusing the prophet Muhammad of terrorism and murder and comparing the prophet to Hitler, mentioning the persecution and massacre of the Jews.” Also in Algeria, last August, a Muslim convert to Christianity was sentenced to the maximum five years in prison for saying that the light of Jesus will outshine Islam and its prophet Muhammad on social media, which the court ruled as “blasphemous.”

In October, in Ethiopia, four Christian girls — aged 18, 15, 14, and 14 — handed out a booklet entitled, “Let’s speak the truth in love.” Because it challenged Islamic accusations against Christianity, local Muslims deemed the book blasphemous and rioted. They attacked a church and assaulted Christians. The girls were arrested and, after a brief court hearing on November 15, sentenced to a month in prison.

As in Pakistan, Muslims mobs and “vigilantes” often take “the law” into their own hands. In March, in India, a Muslim-turned-atheist “was hacked to death by a four-member gang” of Muslims. Last September, a Christian writer and activist was murdered outside of a courthouse in Jordan. The 56-year-old man was earlier arrested for sharing a “blasphemous” cartoon about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. As he was walking into court to stand trial for “contempt of religion” and “inciting sectarian strife,” a man dressed in traditional Muslim garb shot him to death.

Last August, in Nigeria, after two university students got into an argument, the Muslim student accused the Christian student of insulting Muhammad. Soon a mob of Muslims assembled and said the Christian must die. Then they savagely beat and nearly killed him. The following day, mobs of Muslims rioted and vandalized Christian campuses and churches.

Such nonstop accusations, incarcerations, murders, torture and death penalties meted out to non-Muslims on the mere accusation of “blasphemy” — at the hands of mobs, vigilantes, and court judges — call into question any claims of tolerance, modernity or pluralism in many Muslim-majority nations.

Raymond Ibrahim is the author ofCrucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians(published by Regnery with Gatestone Institute, April 2013).

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[1] At least one but often more blasphemy-related cases appear practically every month in Pakistan and are documented in the monthly “Muslim Persecution of Christians” reports. The following are incidents that occurred in the last report, January 2017:

  • An evangelical Christian was arrested on charges of blasphemy and faces the death penalty. According to a complaint by a Muslim, Haji Nadeem, Shahbaz Babu desecrated the Koran by writing his name on some pages, tearing them up and then scattering them on the street in front of a mosque. Although the Muslim admits he did not see the accused in the act, Babu—whom rights activists say is “completely illiterate”—was nonetheless arrested. In a nation where the mere accusation that an infidel insulted Islam could get the non-Muslim killed by the mob, executed by the state or simply imprisoned, Babu’s defenders wonder at the notion that he “is supposed to have desecrated the Qurʾān in secret, but then left the evidence for everyone to see.” Others say that he was disliked by the mosque because several members had stopped attending it and listening to the evangelist who is popular in his region.
  • An imam in Lambanwali accused an elderly Christian of writing and sending to him a series of “derogatory letters” in which he defamed Islamic prophet Muhammad. Once the blasphemy accusation was made, police promptly stormed the Christian’s home in the night and arrested his entire family. Although the man denies the accusation—correctly pointing out that only a suicide would do what he is accused of doing in Pakistan—he “is likely to face an imprisonment of 10 years while there are assumptions that Section 295-C might be invoked in order to aggravate the punishment to death penalty,” said the report.
  • A blasphemy case was registered against Shaan Taseer—son of Salman Taseer, a human rights activist and defender of persecuted Christians who was assassinated by Muslims—for saying “Merry Christmas.”
  • Five Christian rights activists were known for their public opposition to the country’s blasphemy laws all went missing within the same week.

[2] The blasphemy controversy erupted when a video appeared online of Ahok saying that many Muslims misunderstand Koran 5:51 — which commands Muslims not to befriend Jews and Christians. That a Christian would dare try to distort the Koran’s call for hostility against Christians and Jews in order to boost his chances at reelection was deemed blasphemous enough to prompt mass riots and calls for his death in Indonesia.

A Palestinian State or an Islamist Tyranny?

April 26, 2017

 A Palestinian State or an Islamist Tyranny? Gatestone InstituteGiulio Meotti, April 26, 2017

Abbad Yahiya’s novel takes aim at Palestinian taboos such as fanaticism, Islamic extremism and homosexuality. The novel’s publisher has been arrested and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yahiya.

The head of the Union of Palestinian Writers, Murad Sudani, attacked the writer and called for an exemplary punishment. Ghassan Khader, a Facebook user, wrote on his page that Yahiya “should be killed”.

We could go on with this list of Palestinian intellectuals who paid a high price for daring to speak the truth to Mahmoud Abbas and his corrupt circle on many issues: coexistence with the Jews, secularism, sexual freedom, freedom of conscience, human rights, or telling the truth about the Holocaust.

A Palestinian state created with the current Palestinian Authority would destroy freedom of conscience for journalists and writers; exile Christians and homosexuals; torture Arab inmates; impose sharia as the only law, and put people to death for “atheism” and “apostasy” (read, conversion to Christianity).

From the United Nations to the European Union and the mainstream press, it seems that the Jews living in Judea and Samaria are the obstacle for the Middle East coexistence. But have these well-known “observers” really observed what is going on in the areas self-governed by the Palestinian Authority, and that two-thirds of the world’s nations want to turn into another Arab-Islamic state?

Recently, one of the brightest Palestinian novelists, Abbad Yahiya, saw his fourth book, Crime in Ramallah, seized by the Palestinian police in the West Bank. The order came from Palestinian Attorney General Ahmed Barak, who ruled that the book “threatens morality“. The novel’s publisher was arrested and a warrant was issued for Yahiya’s arrest.

When Palestinian novelist Abbad Yahiya recently published his fourth book, Crime in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority police seized all copies the book, claiming it “threatens morality”. The novel’s publisher was arrested and a warrant was issued for Yahiya’s arrest. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

His novel revolves around the murder of a Palestinian girl in Ramallah, and follows the lives of three other boys, from a homosexual to a drinker of alcohol. The novel takes aim at Palestinian taboos such as fanaticism, Islamic extremism and homosexuality. The young gay protagonist of the novel ends up moving to France.

“I do not know what to do”, said Yahiya, who fled to Qatar. “If I return, I will be arrested”.

The head of the Union of Palestinian Writers, Murad Sudani, attacked Yahiya and called for an exemplary punishment as happened with Boris Pasternak and other Soviet novelists. According to Sudani, Yahiya’s novel “violates national and religious values”. He went on to say that “my freedom as a writer ends when the freedom of the country begins”. So Palestinian writers should behave like the Soviet “engineers of souls”, then at the service of Communism, now of Islamic extremism and the Palestinian war against Israel.

Yahiya was also threatened on social media. Ghassan Khader, a Facebook user, wrote on his page that Yahiya “should be killed“. Yahiya should apparently meet the same fate of the Algerian writer Tahar Djaout, murdered by Islamists in 1994. Yahiya’s publisher, Fuad Akleek, was arrested in a library “in a very humiliating way”. The Palestinian police are reported to have entered five hundred libraries and bookshops of the West Bank to seize all the copies of the novel.

Yahiya’s fate is reminiscent of many others under the Palestinian Authority:

  • Waleed al Husseini is a Palestinian blogger who has spent ten months in a Palestinian prison for the same “crime” as the one for which the Charlie Hebdo magazine’s journalists were murdered: “Blasphemy”. Like the gay man in Yahiya’s novel, Waleed now lives in France, protected and blessed by Europe’s freedom.
  • Haidar Ghanem, the Palestinian human rights activist, was less lucky. He was shot to death by Islamic extremists.
  • Mohammed Dajani, the Palestinian professor who took his students on a field trip to Auschwitz, had to resign to save his own life after months-long campaign of death threats, campus riots and intimidation. He broke the Palestinian taboo of Holocaust denial. “I put my job on the line to expose the double-talk we live”, Dajani told Haaretz. “We say we are for democracy and we practice autocracy, we say we are for freedom of speech and academic freedom, yet we deny people to practice it”.
  • Many Palestinian Christian activists have also been found dead.

We could go on with this list of Palestinian intellectuals who paid a high price for daring to speak the truth to Abbas and his corrupt circle on many issues: coexistence with the Jews, secularism, sexual freedom, freedom of conscience, human rights, or telling the truth about the Holocaust.

Famous Israeli writers such as David Grossman, Amos Oz and Abraham Yehoshua, the “peaceniks” most pampered by the Western newspapers, should, instead of blaming their own country, ask themselves what Abbad Yahiya’s case means for the Arab-Israeli conflict, and if they should denounce the Palestinian Authority for what it is doing to him.

What happened to Yahiya’s novel contains the real reason for the failed negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Negotiations did not founder over few houses in Judea and Samaria. The failure is the result of the abyss between an open society, Israel, and a closed regime, the Palestinian entity; between a democracy based on Western liberal principles and a gangster autocracy based on an Islamic dictatorship determined to destroy the Jewish state.

And that abyss is just four kilometers wide, the distance between the Palestinian town of Tulkarem and the Israeli city of Netanya.

A Palestinian State created with the current Palestinian Authority would ethnically cleanse Jews, as Jordan did when it attacked and seized Jerusalem in 1948.

It would be led by Holocaust-enablers such as Hamas, or by a Holocaust-denier such as Mahmoud Abbas. It would destroy freedom of conscience for journalists and writers; exile Christians and homosexuals (hundreds of Palestinian gays now live beyond Israel’s security fence); torture Arab inmates; continue to accept funding from Iran and Sunni Islamic extremists in the name of “the caliphate or death”; impose sharia (Islamic law) as the only law; put people to death for “atheism” and “apostasy” (read, conversion to Christianity). It would most likely oblige women to wear burqas and hijabs as in Saudi Arabia; commemorate terrorists and baby-killers who butchered 1,500 Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada; abolish democratic elections; fill libraries with anti-Semitic and anti-Western books; ban alcohol in public, and ask plainclothes officers to stop young couples to show marriage licenses, as in Iran.

How would you describe that state, if not as a carbon copy of a Nazi government? And what is the only country that would allow the creation of such a state on its own shoulders? The world’s only Jewish State? Of course.