Posted tagged ‘Secularism’

Understanding secularism without the controversy that shrouds it

August 26, 2017

Understanding secularism without the controversy that shrouds it, Al ArabiyaHassan Al Mustafa, August 26, 2017

Unlike the Arab stereotype, secularism protects the freedom of religion by the power of law and guarantees freedom of belief and expression and grants the faithful their right to practice it.

Secularism does not prevent one from believing in a certain faith because it’s based on individual choices and complete individual freedoms. It rather organizes intertwining between religion and the public space in a way where religion has the right to exist and appear but without overpowering others or denying plurality.

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Secularism in speeches by Arab figures of authority is often controversial among Islamic and liberal movements. “Secularism” has thus become a subject for political and partisan arguments rather than a concept to be discussed to gain knowledge and modernize.

Addressing secularism from this perspective became common. However the discussion entails a shallow definition of the concept and does not accurately and properly understand it or comprehend its meanings, representations and historical and philosophical context.

One can do a simple experiment and ask members of any random council about the meaning of secularism, what it means to them and whether they have a positive or a negative interpretation of it. They will respond with plenty of nonsense that’s irrelevant to the philosophical term which contributed to build the civil modern state in Europe via laws and legislations.

Ideologically used

The word “secularization” has been ideologically used to serve certain aims and it was either presented as the antithesis of religion to intimidate people or marketed as an easy approach that lessens the burden of piousness. Both reflect a populist and ignorant mentality.

Secularism is not a solid concept that has remained the same ever since it was established; it has developed a lot due to practical experiences when structuring states and societies. Discussions between philosophers and scholars, especially in the fields of political sciences and theology, have also contributed to developing the concept.

Secularism has many facets, such as one related to liberal modernization which organizes the presence of religion in the public field and its limits. In other words, it prevents ideologization from dominating the scene in order to preserve two basic values, the civil state and a person’s individuality. It does so without being the antithesis of religion and without cancelling it out.

Unlike the Arab stereotype, secularism protects the freedom of religion by the power of law and guarantees freedom of belief and expression and grants the faithful their right to practice it.

Secularism does not prevent one from believing in a certain faith because it’s based on individual choices and complete individual freedoms. It rather organizes intertwining between religion and the public space in a way where religion has the right to exist and appear but without overpowering others or denying plurality.

Therefore, there are no conflicts between secularism and a man’s religion or between secularism and the collective religious identity. There is conflict between secularism and political Islam and religious fundamentalism because the latter are two ideologies which have their own political and social projects that do not believe in liberal values on which secularism was built.

One of secularism’s major features is that it grants the state its civil character. The state is about managing affairs and it’s not linked to religion. Religion is the business of individuals and believers. The state is for everyone, regardless of their different ideas, beliefs and doctrines.

Islamism Rises from Europe’s Secularism

July 24, 2016

Islamism Rises from Europe’s Secularism, Gatestone InstituteGiulio Meotti, July 24, 2016

♦ In France, the Socialist government imposed a “secularism charter” in every school, banning Christianity from the educational system. Municipalities have already changed the enrollment form for schoolchildren by eliminating the words “father” and “mother”, replacing them with “legal manager 1” and “legal manager 2”. It is George Orwell’s “Newspeak”.

♦ After two major terror attacks in 2015, France, instead of promoting a cultural “jihad” based on Western values, responded to Islamic fundamentalism with a ridiculous “Day of Secularism” to be celebrated every 9th of December.

♦ This narrow secularism has also prevented France from openly supporting Eastern Christians under Islamist oppression.

♦ The empty 13th century Oude Kerk church in Amsterdam is now used for exhibitions and can be rented for gala dinners. In front of it there is “Sexyland”, offering “Live F*ck Shows”, a coffee shop for drugs and an “Erotic Supermarket” for dildos. For seven euros one can also visit the church.

On October 2000, in the sunny French city of Nice, the 105-member European Convention drafted the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Drawn up by the committee of former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the document only referred to the “cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe”. The European Parliament had rejected a proposal from Christian Democrat MEPs and Pope John Paul II, to include in the text Europe’s “Judaeo-Christian roots”.

In the 75,000-word Charter there is not a single mention of Christianity. Since then, a wind of aggressive secularism has pervaded all EU policies. The European Court of Human Rights, for example, asked to remove crucifixes from classrooms: they were allegedly a threat to democracy.

The city of Nice — where exactly sixteen years ago Europe’s rulers decided to eliminate the Judeo-Christian roots from the (never approved) EU Constitution — has just witnessed the bloody manifestation of another religion: radical Islam. “Nature abhors a vacuum”: This is the truth to which our élites do not want to listen; Islamism rises from what William McGurn, George W. Bush’s speechwriter, called “Europe’s feckless secularism“.

You can see it not only in Europe’s churches, three-quarters empty, and the boom of Europeans converting to Islam, but also from what is happening in Europe’s schools. The trends do not support Viktor Orbán‘s vision for a Christian Europe.

A few days ago, Belgium, which was recently targeted in terror attacks, decided that religion classes in French-speaking primary and secondary schools will be cut in half starting in October 2016, and replaced with an hour of “citizenship classes“: lessons in secularism. In Brussels, half the children in public schools already choose to take classes in Islam.

In France, the Socialist government imposed a “secularism charter” in every school, banning Christianity from the educational system. That charter is the manifesto of the “révolution douce” (“soft revolution”), France’s extreme secularism. It is an attempt to eliminate any claim of identity. A Jewish yarmulke, a Christian cross and an Islamic veil are treated the same way. This secularism is what has been rightly defined “the Left’s blind spot with Islam“.

It is a secularism that has also gone mad. The Yves Codou elementary school in the village of La Môle, for example, celebrated “Parents’ Day” instead of Mother’s Day, in order not to upset gay couples. Municipalities have already changed the enrollment form for schoolchildren by eliminating the words “father” and “mother”, replacing them with “legal manager 1” and “legal manager 2”. It is George Orwell’s “Newspeak”.

After two major terror attacks in 2015, France, instead of promoting a cultural “jihad” based on Western values, responded to Islamic fundamentalism with a ridiculous “Day of Secularism” to be celebrated every 9th of December.

It is not that this secularism “exacerbated” cultural tensions, as many liberals say. It is that this secularism severed French culture from the very ideals that created the West. Severing it made this culture blind to the incompatibility of Islamism with secular-minded values. A French teacher,Isabelle Rey, after the massacre at the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, wrote that

“many of our students do not share our dismay at the events. We can pretend to have a consensus, but it is a fact that a significant portion of our population believes that the journalists deserved their fate or that the Kouachi brothers [the murderers] died as heroes”.

This narrow secularism has also prevented France from openly supporting Eastern Christians under Islamist oppression. The music group “The Priests” had planned to advertise an upcoming concert in Paris with a banner on a poster that said proceeds would go towards the cause of Christians persecuted in Iraq and Syria — but the company operating the Paris subway system initially banned the ad, saying it considered the banner as a violation of secularism.

Sweden, one of the European countries more infiltrated by radical Islam, is listed as “the least religious” nation in the West. According to Statistics Sweden, just 5% of Swedes are regular churchgoers, and one in three couples that get married chooses a civil ceremony. How did Sweden get there? Many years ago, the Swedish government banned any religious activities in schools except for those directly related to religion classes.

Not only has secularism no answers for terrorism; it also leaves Europeans unsure about what is worth fighting, killing, and dying for. If you believe, as the secularists do, that our values are mere accidents of history and that the highest good is comfort, then you will care nothing for the future of civilization.

The symbol of this Euro-Secularism is the Oude Kerk, dating from the 13th century, and one of the most famous churches in Amsterdam. The empty church is now used for exhibitions and can be rented for gala dinners. In front of it there is “Sexyland”, offering “Live F*ck Shows”, a coffee shop for drugs and an “Erotic Supermarket” for dildos. For seven euros one can also visit the church.

1707The symbol of Euro-Secularism is the 13th century Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. The empty church is now used for exhibitions and can be rented for gala dinners. In front of it there is “Sexyland”, offering “Live F*ck Shows”, a coffee shop for drugs and an “Erotic Supermarket” for dildos. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Welcome to Amsterdam, where the most practised religion is Islam.

Egypt’s secular culture minister ruffles Salafi feathers

October 7, 2015

Egypt’s secular culture minister ruffles Salafi feathers, Al-MonitorRami Galal, October 6, 2015

(Building a secular Muslim state in a region dominated by Islamists is difficult and takes time, as Egypt and Al-Sisi are learning. — DM)

helmiEgypt’s newly appointed Culture Minister Hilmi al-Namnam appears on the Egyptian talk show 25/30, Nov. 11, 2014. (photo by youtube.com/ONtv)

CAIRO — On Sept. 19, a new Egyptian Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, was sworn in before President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Among the new ministers is the journalist Hilmi al-Namnam, who holds the culture portfolio. The appointment of Namnam, a secularist, has sparked controversy among Egyptian Salafis and aroused opposition in Saudi Arabia. Such Saudi writers and intellectuals as Jamal Khashoggi, editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel, object to Namnam’s appointment because he opposes Wahhabi Salafism, the religiopoliticial movement that originated in the Nejd region of the Saudi kingdom.

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab founded what became the Wahhabi movement in the 18th century. In 1744, Wahhab allied with Muhammad ibn Saud, emir of the Nejd and founder of the first Saudi state, to increase followers of the Quran, Sunnism and the words and actions of the Salaf, the first three generations of Muslims. In doing so, they sought to purify Islam of misguided practices negatively affecting the Islamic essence of unity and various forms of heresy.

Immediately after Namnam assumed the culture portfolio, a video of him from July 2013 went viral. In it, Namnam stated, “The political Islam current must leave the political game completely, especially the Salafist Nour Party, which is more dangerous than the Muslim Brotherhood.” He compared the Nour Party to a “whore who extorts her husband if he doesn’t fulfill her demands by escorting someone else.” Namnam also said, “We lie when we say Egypt is a naturally religious country. It is high time we said Egypt is a naturally secular state.”

The Nour Party came in second in the 2012 parliamentary elections. Among its positions at the time were prohibitions on electing women and Copts, saluting the flag and singing the national anthem. The party altered these platforms, however, after lending its stamp of approval in 2013 to the June 30 revolution, although most of its leading figures waivered over what course to take.

On Sept. 19, Shaaban Abdel Aleem, a member of the Nour Party’s board, requested information on the selection criteria used for appointing the new ministers. On the same day, Khashoggi, who is close to Saudi decision-makers, commented on Namnam’s appointment via Twitter. “For whoever is planning mutual cultural exchanges with our brothers in Egypt, the following piece of information could be useful: Namnam is not only a critic of Wahhabism, but abhors it and blames it for all his country’s catastrophes,” Khashoggi tweeted. In a separate tweet, he wrote, “Honestly, for the sake of relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and due to the nature of the regime there, Egypt should not appoint a minister like Namnam, who has taken it too far in offending the kingdom.”

Namnam responded that evening in a phone call to “Al-Ashera Masaa,” a show on Dream TV, saying, “I did not say Wahhabism was the mother of vices. These are not my words, but I am against terrorist groups in general.” He added that he had criticized “attempts to export Wahhabism to Egypt,” but that he “respects the kingdom’s choices, just as the kingdom’s writers should respect Egypt and Egyptians’ choices.”

Khashoggi immediately replied, again on Twitter, writing, “Egypt’s minister of culture claims he respects Wahhabism, but admits that he is against exporting it to Egypt. I would like to tell him that Wahhabism cannot be exported. It is a pillar of the Egyptian revolution and is represented by emblematic figures like the followers of Sheikh Muhammad Abduh.” The Islamic jurist Abduh, an Egyptian, is a founder of Islamic modernism. He spearheaded the movement at the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century to counter intellectual and cultural stagnation and revive the Islamic nation in line with the times.

Khashoggi argued, “Salafism preceded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as there was the Ansar al-Sunna al-Muhammadiyah group, which remains the oldest reformist Islamic organization in Egypt and the world.” Ansar al-Sunna al-Muhammadiyah seeks absolute unity and the rejection of superstitions and cults. It began in Cairo’s Hadara Mosque in 1926. Many Al-Azhar scholars and Salafist preachers were welcoming of it.

On Oct. 2, tensions escalated when Namnam said during an interview on the Sada al-Balad channel that he was ready to be “martyred to spare Egypt from turning into a caliphate state.” He added that secularism is not the adversary of Islam, as some claim. “Every moderate Muslim is necessarily secular. But, not every secularist is a Muslim,” he said.

The following day, Yasser Borhami, deputy leader of the Salafist Call, implored Sisi to intervene and forbid Namnam from making such statements, which he said contradict the constitution given that Sharia is the primary source of legislation.

Nour Party leader Younes Makhyoun entered the fray Oct. 3, asserting that Namnam should remain impartial or be dismissed. “The person [Sisi] who appointed this minister must oblige him to respect the constitution,” he stated.

Sayyed Mustafa, deputy chair of the Nour Party, told Al-Monitor, “The party did not look into Namnam’s old opinions, because they stem from personal freedom. Each person has the right to believe whatever they wish. But he must realize that he is the minister of culture for 90 million Egyptians. The Ministry of Culture should represent all currents, not just one, be it secular or nonsecular.” He added, “As a minister handling a political portfolio, Namnam must take into consideration Egypt’s foreign relations in general and brotherly relations in particular, like those it shares with Saudi Arabia.”

Zubeida Atta, former dean of Helwan University’s faculty of arts and a member of the Supreme Council of Culture, has a different perspective on the issue. “The concept of secularism that Namnam called for is not a heretical one. It relies on the use of education and its application in countries to improve them and ensure their civil aspects, instead of mixing religion with political life. The latter [mixing of the two] would send Egypt down a sectarian abyss that would threaten its existence,” she told Al-Monitor. “The Nour Party demanded clarifying the selection criteria of ministers. I demand clarifying the criteria that allow such a religious party to participate in political life and in parliamentary elections.”

As for the rumblings from the Gulf, Atta asserted, “Egypt does not dare suggest a Saudi Arabian minister for a certain ministry in the kingdom or criticize a current minister in the Saudi Arabian regime, because this is an internal Saudi Arabian matter. Why is Khashoggi, among others, allowing himself to interfere in the appointment of a minister in the Egyptian Cabinet?”

 

Is Europe Losing Control Over Its Destiny?

September 13, 2015

Is Europe Losing Control Over Its Destiny? Gatestone InstituteSoeren Kern, September 13, 2015

  • The move by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels to force European countries to throw open their borders — and to require them to provide migrants with free clothing, food, housing and healthcare for an indefinite period of time — not only represents an audacious usurpation of national sovereignty, it is also certain to encourage millions of additional migrants from the Muslim world to begin making their way to Europe.
  • “We are not facing a refugee crisis, we are facing a migration crisis… Let us not forget that those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity. Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? If we lose sight of this, the idea of Europe could become a minority interest in its own continent.” — Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary.
  • “[T]he continent is experiencing a mass movement of people not seen since the aftermath of the Second World War. Unlike the end of the war, however, none of the masses currently on the move is European… The control over one’s own borders is one of the most important characteristics — and responsibilities — of a modern state. Countries lose control over their destinies and even cease to exist when they lose control over who gets in.” — Arthur Chrenkoff, New York Observer.
  • Statistics show that of the 625,920 people who applied for asylum in the European Union in 2014, only 29.5% were from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • “If you do not like it, just go away.” — Czech Republic President Milos Zeman, commenting that no one had invited migrants to his country, but once they arrive, they should respect the rules of his country or leave.
  • “The lesson for the United States is that reducing our global influence does not increase international peace and security. Quite the opposite. Obama’s retreat from the Middle East, whether in the aftermath of Libya, his disinterest in the Islamic State’s continuing rise, or his surrender to Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, are all part of the larger pattern.” — Ambassador John R. Bolton, Fox News Opinion.
  • “Since Slovakia is a Christian country, we cannot tolerate an influx of 300,000-400,000 Muslim immigrants who would like to start building mosques all over our land and trying to change the nature, culture and values of the state…. If we do not start telling the truth about migration, we will never move from this spot.” — Prime Minister Robert Fico, Slovakia.

The European Commission, the powerful administrative arm of the European Union, has unveiled a controversial plan that would compel EU member countries to accept 160,000 migrants and refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.

The move by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels to force European countries to throw open their borders — and to require them to provide migrants with free clothing, food, housing and healthcare for an indefinite period of time — not only represents an audacious usurpation of national sovereignty, it is also certain to encourage millions of additional migrants from the Muslim world to begin making their way to Europe.

The migration proposal, announced on September 9, would “share” 120,000 migrants currently holed up in Greece, Hungary and Italy with other countries in the European Union. This number is in addition to previous demands by the European Commission that 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean migrants be relocated from Greece and Italy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose open-door immigration policy is partly responsible for fueling the rush of migrants to Europe, has already warned that the European Commission’s plan is “merely a first step” and that Europe may have to accept even bigger numbers. German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said that Germany could take 500,000 migrants annually for “several more years.”

1243Welcome to Germany! At left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At right, some of the hundreds of migrants who arrived in Munich on September 12, 2015.

It remains unclear just how many of the migrants arriving in Europe are refugees fleeing warzones, and how many are economic migrants seeking a better life in the West. Statistics show that of the 625,920 people who applied for asylum in the European Union in 2014, only 29.5% were from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

German officials have admitted that 40% of the migrants arriving in the country in 2015 are from the Balkans, including Albania, Kosovo and Serbia, which implies that at least half of those arriving in Germany this year are economic migrants fleeing poverty not war.

Critical observers are describing the migration chaos engulfing Europe in apocalyptic terms: an “unstoppable demographic revolution,” a “total Armageddon scenario,” and an “exodus of biblical proportions.”

What follows is a selection of quotes and commentary from a variety of political leaders and opinion-shapers in Europe and elsewhere about the consequences of untrammeled immigration from the Muslim world.

In Britain, Nigel Farage, the leader of the Eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP), spoke to the BBC Radio 4’s Today program. He said:

“The problem we’ve got is we’ve opened the door to an exodus of biblical proportions meaning millions and millions of refugees. We’ve lost sight of what it is to be a refugee. How many millions does Europe want to take? That is the question.

“Genuine refugees have tended to be groups of people, ethnic groups or religious groups who were directly under persecution and were fleeing in fear of their lives. The problem we’ve got now if you look at the definition of the EU’s common asylum policy, it includes anyone fleeing from a war-torn country, and it even includes people fleeing extreme poverty.”

British MEP Janice Atkinson, said:

“Nobody voted for illegal immigration. Plenty of people voted to put us here to oppose it. The hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants overwhelming our borders and our capacities to cope are exactly that — illegal.

“Let’s be clear about another thing: despite what the human rights industry and the massed ranks of taxpayer-funded charities and lobby-groups repeat, this is not a refugee crisis but a massive crisis of illegal immigration which must be resisted for what it is.”

English author and journalist Peter Hitchens, in an essay titled, “We won’t save refugees by destroying our own country,” wrote:

“Actually we can’t do what we like with this country. We inherited it from our parents and grandparents and we have a duty to hand it on to our children and grandchildren, preferably improved and certainly undamaged. It is one of the heaviest responsibilities we will ever have. We cannot just give it away to complete strangers on an impulse because it makes us feel good about ourselves….

“Thanks to a thousand years of uninvaded peace, we have developed astonishing levels of trust, safety and freedom…. I am amazed at how relaxed we are about giving this away.

“Our advantages depend very much on our shared past, our inherited traditions, habits and memories. Newcomers can learn them, but only if they come in small enough numbers. Mass immigration means we adapt to them, when they should be adapting to us….

“So now, on the basis of an emotional spasm, dressed up as civilization and generosity, are we going to say that we abandon this legacy and decline our obligation to pass it on, like the enfeebled, wastrel heirs of an ancient inheritance letting the great house and the estate go to ruin?

“I can see neither sense nor justice in allowing these things to become a pretext for an unstoppable demographic revolution in which Europe (including, alas, our islands) merges its culture and its economy with North Africa and the Middle East. If we let this happen, Europe would lose almost all the things that make others want to live there.”

British MEP Daniel Hannon warned that Germany’s open-door immigration policy was drawing ever more migrants to Europe. He wrote:

“The belief that Germany is relaxing its policy is bound to lead to a level of migration that surpasses anything seen so far. Refugees and economic migrants will be thrown together in a rush. Some will be trampled, and some boats will be overturned. But many more will reach Italy and Greece. Eventually, the front-line EU states will stop trying to enforce the rules, and will simply wave new arrivals across their territory, tempting even more into attempting the crossing.”

The London-based Financial Times lamented the lack of a unified European response to the migration crisis:

“This has been a miserable summer for European ideals. From a bloc founded in the pursuit of peace have emerged frightful images of refugees suffocating on motorway lay-bys, squalid makeshift camps, lifeless toddlers washed ashore, burning asylum centers, serial numbers penned on forearms, the sight of black-clad police pepper spraying families fleeing war. Inundated with asylum seekers, yet lacking the central functions to cope, Europe is divided over what to do. Higher walls? Welcome mats? Is this a national problem or should the burden be shared?

British political scientist Anthony Glees accused the German government of rank hypocrisy for demanding that Greece comply with the strict letter of EU law to obtain a financial bailout, but that same German government unilaterally dispensed with EU law to open Europe’s borders wide open to hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Muslim world. He said:

“Europe’s tectonic plates will move if Germany behaves as a hippie state, guided only by feelings. Prime Minister David Cameron said, quite rightly, in my opinion, that the United Kingdom must act not only with the heart, but also with the head. And the question in the UK is that if Frau Merkel now pursues this policy, a very different policy which it pursued vis-à-vis Greece, where will this end? The UK already intervenes militarily in the fight against the so-called Islamic State. Germany, however, has kept its distance from these things. But then at the same time to say to desperate people in Syria and Iraq, please come to the Federal Republic of Germany, many Britons view this as nonsensical. This will have no end!

“I think it may be that Germany still has historical feelings that are completely absent in Britain. It may be that in 2015, there are still memories of what happened with refugees before the Second World War (1938/1939). But in Britain, where we are currently not only fighting terrorism, not only coping with the problem of economic migrants, but also coping with the humanitarian problem, the German approach seems sloppy and not properly thought through, especially when it comes to Europe when the Germans do not abide by the rules. One may think whatever they might about the Hungarian government, but the rules are there, and if Germany does not comply with the rules, the entire Union is in danger of falling apart.

In Brussels, the self-proclaimed capital of Europe, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, insisted that immigration from Muslim countries would be a solution to Europe’s demographic decline. He said:

“Let us not forget, we are an ageing continent in demographic decline. We will be needing talent. Over time, migration must change from a problem to be tackled to a well-managed resource. To this end, the Commission will come forward with a well-designed legal migration package in early 2016.”

During the so-called State of the European Union address on September 9, Juncker said that there was no difference between Christian, Jewish and Muslim migrants. He said:

“Europe has made the mistake in the past of distinguishing between Jews, Christians and Muslims. There is no religion, no belief and no philosophy when it comes to refugees.”

Although unemployment is rampant within the European Union, especially among young Europeans, Juncker said:

“I am strongly in favor of allowing asylum seekers to work and earn their own money whilst their applications are being processed. Labor, work, being in a job is a matter of dignity…so we should do everything to change our national legislation in order to allow refugees, migrants, to work since day one of their arrival in Europe.”

In the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman said that no one had invited migrants to his country, but once they arrive, they should respect the rules of his country or leave. He said:

“If you do not like it, just go away. Someone may consider it appealing to the worst instincts, but this is the same stance that Hungarians share when they are building a fence against Serbia, and Americans who have built a fence on its border with Mexico.”

In Denmark, Andreas Kamm, the secretary general of the Danish Refugee Council (Dansk Flygtningehjælp), warned that the current refugee crisis could lead to total collapse of European society. In an interview with the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Kamm said he believes that Europe is facing “a total Armageddon scenario.” He added:

“We are experiencing a historical imbalance between the very high numbers of refugees and migrants and the global capacity to provide them with protection and assistance. We are running the risk that conflicts between the migrants and local populations will go awry and escalate. The answer cannot be that Europe imports surplus populations. We cannot be required to destroy our own society.”

Danish Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said: “I’m most indignant over the Arab countries who are rolling in money and who only take very few refugees. Countries like Saudi Arabia. It’s completely scandalous.”

In Germany, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, in an interview with Die Zeit, said:

“The migration crisis presents a formidable challenge. It is bigger than any of us have previously thought — socially, politically, economically, culturally…. Now we will get hundreds of thousands of Muslims with an Arab background. According to what I am told by my French colleague, this is a significant difference as far as integration is concerned…. I am being told that between 15% and 20% of the adult migrants are illiterate.

“We must get used to the idea that our country is changing. School, police, housing, courts, health care, everywhere! We also need an amendment to the constitution. And all this has to happen very quickly, within weeks! This will require a huge change in our established way of thinking.”

In an interview with Politico, Josef Joffe, a normally astute Jewish-German intellectual who is the publisher of the newspaper Die Zeit, seemed completely oblivious to the long-term consequences of importing hundreds of thousands of Muslims to Germany, when he said:

“It is a true miracle. Our poster-boy refugee is now the Syrian doctor who combines educational achievement with moral obligation, given the unspeakable cruelty against civilians in the Syrian war. Germany, like the countries of English settlement, is turning into an Einwanderungsland, a country of immigration, accepting different colors, faiths and origins. So Germany is evolving into a kind of America, where you need not be born as American, but can become one. It is a mental and emotional revolution.”

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán warned of the “explosive consequences” of culture clash between Europe and migrants from the Muslim world. In a September 3 essay published by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Orbán wrote:

“To understand what we must do, we need to grasp the true nature of the situation we are facing. Europe is not in the grip of a ‘refugee problem’ or a ‘refugee situation,’ but the European continent is threatened by an ever mounting wave of modern-era migration. Movement of people is taking place on an immense scale, and from a European perspective the number of potential future immigrants seems limitless.

“With each passing day we see that hundreds of thousands have been turning up and clamoring at our borders, and there are millions more intending to set out for Europe, driven by economic motives….

“We must acknowledge that the European Union’s misguided immigration policy is responsible for this situation. Irresponsibility is the mark of every European politician who holds out the promise of a better life to immigrants and encourages them to leave everything behind and risk their lives in setting out for Europe. If Europe does not return to the path of common sense, it will find itself laid low in a battle for its fate….

“Let us not forget that those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity. Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? If we lose sight of this, the idea of Europe could become a minority interest in its own continent.”

Referring to Hungary’s occupation by the Ottoman Empire from 1541 to 1699, Orbán said:

“I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. We do not like the consequences of having a large number of Muslim communities that we see in other countries and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us to create ways of living together in Hungary that we do not want to see. That is a historical experience for us.”

According to Zoltán Kovács, a spokesman for Hungary’s center-right government, the EU’s response to the crisis has been a complete failure. He said:

“The EU does not differentiate between those who are in real need of help. Genuine refugees are pushed together with economic migrants. We are not facing a refugee crisis, we are facing a migration crisis. People are coming here from a hundred countries around the world. It is completely unacceptable that illegal means of movement are now institutionalized.”

In Slovakia, Prime Minister Robert Fico said that 95% of so-called refugees were actually economic migrants:

“We won’t assist in this folly with arms opened wide with the notion that we’ll accept them all regardless of whether they’re economic migrants or not. If we do not start telling the truth about migration, we will never move from this spot.”

Fico also warned of the consequences of untrammeled Muslim immigration. He said:

“Since Slovakia is a Christian country, we cannot tolerate an influx of 300,000-400,000 Muslim immigrants who would like to start building mosques all over our land and trying to change the nature, culture and values ​​of the state.”

In the United States, Ambassador John Bolton warned that Europe’s migration crisis is America’s problem too. He wrote:

“While Americans may believe that Europe, long disdainful of our own intense debate over border-security problems, is getting what it deserves, we should nonetheless focus on both the potential threats and lessons applicable to us.

“One critical cause of Europe’s illegal-immigration spike is the growing chaos across the greater Middle East. This spreading anarchy derives, in substantial part, from Barack Obama’s deliberate policy of ‘leading from behind’ by reducing U.S. attention to and involvement in the region. When America’s presence diminishes anywhere in the world, whatever minimal order and stability existed there can rapidly evaporate….

“For years, the central cause of population movements into Europe was economic: North Africans crossed the narrow Strait of Gibraltar or headed to France or Italy. Turks and Arabs entered through Greece and Eastern Europe. Once into the European Union, thanks to the Schengen Agreement, travel barriers are now almost nonexistent, and, as in the United States, illegal aliens can essentially travel freely….

“Spreading terrorism, armed conflict and collapsing political authority in the Middle East are now powerful causal factors equaling or exceeding continuing economic disparities. Europe fears being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people on the move, thereby losing control over decisions on who to admit and who to turn away. These concerns are legitimate, but there are deeper risks as well. Mirroring worries in Washington, there is a serious and rising Islamicist terrorist threat hidden within the tides of people seeking refuge.

“The lesson for the United States is that reducing our global influence does not increase international peace and security. Quite the opposite. Obama’s retreat from the Middle East, whether in the aftermath of Libya, his disinterest in the Islamic State’s continuing rise, or his surrender to Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, are all part of the larger pattern. Europe’s illegal immigration problem is our problem as well.”

Writing for the New York Observer, Arthur Chrenkoff wrote:

“As an unseasonably hot European summer gives way to autumn, the continent is experiencing a mass movement of people not seen since the aftermath of the Second World War. Unlike the end of the war, however, none of the masses currently on the move is European. As hundreds of thousands of people continue to arrive on Europe’s doorsteps and throng her roads and railway lines, many conservative commentators see a more apt, and more ominous, historical parallel in the Völkerwanderung or ‘wanderings of the peoples’ that foreshadowed the fall of the Roman Empire some sixteen centuries ago. Europeans have long historical memories….

“As we reflect on the vivid media images of boats and trains overflowing with desperate humanity, it is important to keep in mind two points: 1) The majority of the 350,000-400,000 immigrants who have arrived in Europe so far this year (these are the known numbers; no one knows how many enter undetected) are not Syrians. In fact, less than a third are, with the rest originating in a miscellany of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. 2) The majority seem to be single, healthy-looking young men, which traditionally suggests economic motives for migration, rather than the fear of death or persecution.

“What is happening in Europe at the moment is not so much, or at least not predominantly, a refugee crisis but a crisis of European immigration policies.

Chrenkoff summed it up this way:

“The control over one’s own borders is one of the most important characteristics — and responsibilities — of a modern state. Countries lose control over their destinies and even cease to exist when they lose control over who gets in.”

 

Death by Lashing: Saudi Arabia

June 11, 2015

Death by Lashing: Saudi Arabia, The Gatestone InstituteSalim Mansur, June 11, 2015

  • Nothing could uplift the universal image of Saudi Arabia and King Salman more than if today he issued a pardon. World leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, who has so far been silent on the issue, should immediately speak out — as should the media and human rights groups.
  • There was no insult of Islam, of the prophet, or of the Quran, in what Badawi wrote; and, truth be told, God, Islam and the prophet are all beyond insults, and beyond the reach of profanity that occasionally spills forth from the bigoted or tortured minds of individuals.
  • The treatment of Raif Badawi stands out, not merely for its cruelty, but how it has come to symbolize the grotesquely repulsive nature of the Saudi kingdom and what it represents behind the mask of religious austerity.

Tomorrow, Friday, the virtual death sentence by 1000 lashes, delivered “very harshly” according to the flogging order, fifty at a time, might continue for Raif Badawi, a 31-year-old Saudi blogger and father of three, for allegedly “insulting Islam.”

The flogging sentence, plus ten years in prison, was upheld last week by Saudi Arabia’s supreme court, and can now only be overturned by a pardon from King Salman.

Although Badawi, who is ill and frail, would most certainly perish, in Saudi justice there is little concern for sentences to be proportionate to the crimes for which the accused are found guilty, or for adequate legal representation. Badawi’s lawyer, Walid Abu al-Khair, was also jailed, effectively for the crime of representing him.

Badawi was accused of insulting Islam in his blog posts. In a country where thinking is forbidden, Badawi had expressed forbidden thoughts by questioning the nature of his society and going public with them.

Badawi, for instance, had written, “Muslims in Saudi Arabia not only disrespect the beliefs of others, but also charge them with infidelity — to the extent that they consider anyone who is not Muslim an infidel. They also, within their own narrow definitions, consider non-Hanbali [the Saudi school of Islam] Muslims as apostates. How can we be such people and build… normal relations with six billion humans, four and a half billion of whom do not believe in Islam?”

1106Raif Badawi and his children, before his 2012 arrest.

There was naivety in putting such thoughts in writing, as Badawi did, and drawing the attention of Saudi thought police. In another post, Badawi suggested, “Secularism respects everyone and does not offend anyone… Secularism is the practical solution to lift countries (including ours) out of the third world and into the first world.”

It appears Badawi wrote in the first blush of what seemed to have been a breath of fresh air, characterized as the “Arab Spring,” that wafted across the politically bleak landscape of the Arab world in early 2011. There had come news of a Tunisian vendor who had put lit himself on fire protesting police brutality, and had died as a result; his death sparked a movement against Arab despots.

The anguish of the Tunisian vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi, was genuine. His tragic death brought people into the streets, and the Tunisian strongman, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, eventually fled into exile in January 2011. The Tunisian protest stirred Egyptians to rise against their strongman, President Hosni Mubarak, and succeed in toppling him in February 2011.

The “Arab Spring,” for those brief few weeks in early 2011, held forth the promise of change for better across the Arab world. And young men like Raif Badawi could be forgiven for imagining that they, too, in Saudi Arabia, could no longer be denied freedom, democracy, and secularism — the accepted norms in the West.

But the hard realities of the Arab world turned the promise of the “Arab Spring” into the nightmare of religious terror and counter-terror. Saudi Arabia is the incubator and citadel of Islamic fascism, otherwise known as Wahhabism. And here in the land of the two holy cities of Islam — Mecca and Medina — religion and politics are inseparable, and anyone who trespasses either does so at the risk of losing his head — literally — in the public beheadings that are the hallmark of the Saudi kingdom.

Raif Badawi was arrested, and has been held in prison in Jeddah since June 2012. The arrest of Badawi and Souad al-Shammari came after they together set up the web site called Saudi Liberal Network. It was promptly closed by the authorities when Badawi posted criticism of the Saudi religious police.

The initial sentence for Badawi by the Criminal Court in Jeddah for mischief and subverting public order was for 600 lashes and seven years in prison. He appealed, and the court returned the verdict by raising the sentence to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison. The Saudi supreme court has upheld this sentence.

In the interim Badawi was given 50 lashes in a Jeddah public square in January of this year, while further lashings were suspended on medical grounds. Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, fears the lashings will resume — according to court order the 1000 lashes are to be completed in 20 sessions in front of a mosque — and could be fatal for her husband.

* * *

There is very little the outside world can do to change the nature of the Saudi regime, or for that matter the regime in Iran, which is indistinguishable from the Saudi regime in terms of tyranny and the cruelty to which, in both countries, dissidents are subjected.

After Raif Badawi was arrested, Ensaf Haidar and her children found refuge in Quebec, Canada. Across Quebec there has been heartfelt popular support expressed for Raif Badawi, and condemnation of his punishment. Quebec has officially protested Badawi’s sentence, while demanding his release from Saudi Arabia so that he might join his family where they have settled.

In response to a Quebec National Assembly resolution, passed unanimously in February, condemning Badawi’s lashings in Jeddah in January 2015, the Saudi ambassador to Canada wrote a letter to the Quebec politicians. The same letter was also sent to the Canadian government in Ottawa.

The letter, signed by the Saudi ambassador, Naif Bin Bandir Alsudairy, was obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). It states, “The Kingdom does not accept at all any attack on it in the name of human rights especially when its constitution is based on Islamic law, which guarantees the rights of humans and preserves his blood, money, honour and dignity.”

The stand taken by the Quebec government apparently rattled the Saudi kingdom sufficiently to have its ambassador write a letter addressed to members of a provincial legislature.

* * *

It is one of the anomalies of our age that when, by a fluke of nature, large deposits of fossil fuels are discovered in a country, as in Saudi Arabia, it is accorded attention and respect by other countries in excess of anything it has done, or achieved, or by the record of its conduct in human affairs.

Apart from the oil reserves of the kingdom, the House of Saud is indistinguishable from the House of Kim ruling North Korea, and it is as deserving of the same contempt.

Oil has not only made the difference for Saudi Arabia, it has also made the West complicit in the evil that Saudi Arabia does at home and perpetrates abroad: spreading its pre-modern and perverted culture as Islam or, more appropriately, Wahhabism; and funding terror as jihadism.

The treatment of Raif Badawi stands out, not merely for its cruelty, but how it has come to symbolize the grotesquely repulsive nature of the Saudi kingdom and what it represents behind the mask of religious austerity.

Saudi Arabia is possessed with the opposite of the “Midas touch”: wherever its money buys influence, there, the natural goodness in society is stained and corroded by its touch.

The tragedy surrounding Raif Badawi is both the savage treatment meted out to a young man by the Saudi regime for simply expressing his thoughts, and of how innocence, when it goes against the culture of Saudi intolerance, is mocked, abused, and strangled.

Raif Badawi is also the face of why “official” Islam — the one portrayed by Saudi Arabia and the other OIC member states, and to which the West routinely defers – is so terribly retarded. Freedom of thought is anathema to “official” Islam and its defenders, as it once was in the former Soviet Union; it is the defining characteristic of a closed, totalitarian society.

Raif Badawi is a young man, and the thoughts he expressed were the unsullied thoughts of the young that are at once universal in expectations and desires, as they are innocent and unburdened by the hardness of life’s experiences.

There was no insult of Islam, of the prophet, or of the Quran, in what Badawi wrote; and truth be told, God, Islam, and the prophet are all beyond insults, and beyond the reach of profanity that occasionally spills forth from the bigoted or tortured minds of individuals.

“Official” Islam is an insult to Muslims and non-Muslims alike — for “official” Islam is politics devoid of any redeeming quality found in faith, which nourishes the spiritual yearning of people and uplifts them in a broken world. Through betrayal and hypocrisy, “official” Islam insults God, Islam, and the prophet, every minute of each day, and has become a torment to Muslims.

It is “official” Islam, and Wahhabism in its most perverted expression among Sunni Muslims, that has turned God — Allah in Arabic — repeatedly invoked in the Quran as the “Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,” into a vengeful and capricious deity.

The Quran states that on the Day of Reckoning the prophet will speak forth, “O my Lord! Lo! mine own folk make this Qur’an of no account” (25:30). In another verse, the Quran instructs the prophet to tell the wandering Arabs of the desert that they have merely submitted, but they have no belief “for the faith hath not yet entered into your hearts” (49:14). And then there is the verse stating categorically, “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256).[1]

When religion is reduced to politics then it is the logic of politics, hence power and coercion, that takes precedence. In Albert Camus’s striking formulation, “Politics is not religion, or if it is, then it is nothing but the Inquisition.”[2] In Saudi Arabia, religion is a daily dose of inquisition, and the executioner with his sword is both the reality and the symbol of the vengeful deity that bears little resemblance to the merciful and compassionate God of the Quran.

Raif Badawi’s innocence betrayed him. Age and experience would have taught him the hard reality of his culture, veiled by the mask of “official” Islam. This hard reality of Arab culture has been best understood by Arab poets through the years of Arab and Muslim history. Here is one example of a poet’s disgust with the hard reality of his country’s culture and politics. These are lines from a poem of Nizar Qabbani (1923-98), a much-loved Syrian-Arab poet:

When a helmet becomes God in heaven
and can do what it wishes
with a citizen – crush, mash
kill and resurrect
whatever it wills,
then the state is a whorehouse,
history is a rag,
and thought is lower than boots.

When a breath of air
comes by decree
of the sultan,
when every grain of wheat we eat,
every drop of water we drink
comes only by decree
of the sultan,
when an entire nation turns into
a herd of cattle fed in the sultan’s
shed, embryos will suffocate
in the womb, women will miscarry
and the sun will drop
a black noose over our square.[3]

The Sultan’s power is vainglorious, whimsical, easily insulted, and secured by perpetrating fear, and the realm he rules by decree is by necessity a slaughterhouse.

If Raif Badawi survives the thousand lashes in the slaughterhouse that is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it will be a testimony of how an individual’s courage, born of innocence, might well defy the Sultan’s decree.

Nothing could uplift the universal image of Saudi Arabia or King Salman more than if today he issued a pardon.

World leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, who has so far been silent on the issue, should immediately speak out — as should the media and human rights groups.

________________________

[1] Verses quoted from the Quran are from The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, translated by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall (New York: Alfred A. Knopf and Everyman’s Library, 1930, 1992).

[2] A. Camus, The Rebel (New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1956), p. 302.

[3] Nizar Qabbani, “From The Actors” in Salma Khadra Jayyusi (editor), Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), pp. 378-379.

Directive 11: Obama’s Secret Islamist Plan

June 8, 2015

Directive 11: Obama’s Secret Islamist Plan, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, June 8, 2015

Obama-450x240

What little we know about the resulting classified 18-page report is that it used euphemisms to call for aiding Islamist takeovers in parts of the Middle East. Four countries were targeted. Of those four, we only know for certain that Egypt and Yemen were on the list. But we do know for certain the outcome.

Obama’s insistence that human rights be made a core national security interest paved the way for political and military interventions on behalf of Islamists. Obama had never been interested in human rights; his record of pandering to the world’s worst genocide plotters and perpetrators from Iran to Turkey to Sudan made that clear. When he said “human rights”, Obama really meant “Islamist power.”

********************

Behind the rise of ISIS, the Libyan Civil War, the unrest in Egypt, Yemen and across the region may be a single classified document.

That document is Presidential Study Directive 11.

You can download Presidential Study Directive 10 on “Preventing Mass Atrocities” from the White House website, but as of yet no one has been able to properly pry number 11 out of Obama Inc.

Presidential Study Directive 10, in which Obama asked for non-military options for stopping genocide, proved to be a miserable failure. The Atrocities Prevention Board’s only use was as a fig leaf for a policy that had caused the atrocities. And the cause of those atrocities is buried inside Directive 11.

With Obama’s typical use of technicalities to avoid transparency, Directive 11 was used to guide policy in the Middle East without being officially submitted. It is possible that it will never be submitted. And yet the Directive 11 group was described as “just finishing its work” when the Arab Spring began.

That is certainly one way of looking at it.

Directive 11 brought together activists and operatives at multiple agencies to come up with a “tailored” approach for regime change in each country. The goal was to “manage” the political transitions. It tossed aside American national security interests by insisting that Islamist regimes would be equally committed to fighting terrorism and cooperating with Israel. Its greatest gymnastic feat may have been arguing that the best way to achieve political stability in the region was through regime change.

What little we know about the resulting classified 18-page report is that it used euphemisms to call for aiding Islamist takeovers in parts of the Middle East. Four countries were targeted. Of those four, we only know for certain that Egypt and Yemen were on the list. But we do know for certain the outcome.

Egypt fell to the Muslim Brotherhood, which collaborated with Al Qaeda, Hamas and Iran, before being undone by a counterrevolution. Yemen is currently controlled by Iran’s Houthi terrorists and Al Qaeda.

According to a New York Times story, Obama’s Directive 11 agenda appeared to resemble Che or Castro as he “pressed his advisers to study popular uprisings in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia to determine which ones worked and which did not.”

The story also noted that he “is drawn to Indonesia, where he spent several years as a child, which ousted its longtime leader, Suharto, in 1998.”

The coup against Mubarak with its coordination of liberals, Islamists and the military did strongly resemble what happened in Indonesia. The most ominous similarity may be that the Muslim mobs in Indonesia targeted the Chinese, many of whom are Christians, while the Muslim mobs in Egypt targeted Coptic Christians.

Both were talented groups that were disproportionately successful because they lacked the traditional Islamic hostility to education, integrity and achievement. Islamist demagogues had succeeded in associating them with the regime and promoted attacks on them as part of the anti-regime protests.

Chinese stores were looted and thousands of Chinese women were raped by rampaging Muslims. Just as in Egypt, the protesters and their media allies spread the claim that these atrocities committed by Muslim protesters were the work of the regime’s secret police. That remains the official story today.

Suharto’s fall paved the way for the rise of the Prosperous Justice Party, which was founded a few months after his resignation and has become one of the largest parties in the Indonesian parliament. PJP was set up by the Muslim Brotherhood’s local arm in Indonesia.

His successor, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, was more explicitly Islamist than Suharto and his Association of Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI) conducted a campaign against Christians, Hindus and Buddhists. It helped purge non-Muslims from government while Islamizing the government and Indonesia’s key institutions.

Habibie had been the Chairman of ICMI and ICMI’s Islamists played a key role in moving Suharto out and moving him in. It was obvious why Obama would have considered the Islamization of Indonesia and the purge of Christians under the guise of democratic political change to be a fine example for Egypt.

While we don’t know the full contents of Directive 11 and unless a new administration decides to open the vaults of the old regime, we may never know. But we do know a good deal about the results.

In its own way, PSD-10 tells us something about PSD-11.

Obama’s insistence that human rights be made a core national security interest paved the way for political and military interventions on behalf of Islamists. Obama had never been interested in human rights; his record of pandering to the world’s worst genocide plotters and perpetrators from Iran to Turkey to Sudan made that clear. When he said “human rights”, Obama really meant “Islamist power”.

That was why Obama refused to intervene when the Muslim Brotherhood conducted real genocide in Sudan, but did interfere in Libya on behalf of the Brotherhood using a phony claim of genocide.

Positioning Samantha Power in the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council was part of the process that made over the NSC from national security to servicing a progressive wish list of Islamist terrorist groups that were to be transformed into national governments.

Power, along with Gayle Smith and Dennis Ross, led the Directive 11 project.

Secret proceedings were used to spawn regime change infrastructure. Some of these tools had official names, such as “The Office of The Special Coordinator For Middle East Transitions” which currently reports directly to former ambassador Anne Patterson who told Coptic Christians not to protest against Morsi. After being driven out of the country by angry mobs over her support for the Muslim Brotherhood tyranny, she was promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

“The Office” is still focused on “outreach to emergent political, economic and social forces in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya” even though counterrevolutions have pushed out Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia, while Libya is in the middle of a bloody civil war in which an alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda controls the nation’s capital.

But even as Morsi’s abuses of power were driving outraged Egyptians into the streets, Gayle Smith, one of the three leaders of Directive 11, reached out to the “International Union of Muslim Scholars”, a Muslim Brotherhood group that supported terrorism against American soldiers in Iraq and which was now looking for American support for its Islamist terrorist brigades in the Syrian Civil War.

The men and women responsible for Directive 11 were making it clear that they had learned nothing.

Directive 11 ended up giving us the Islamic State through its Arab Spring. PSD-11’s twisted claim that regional stability could only be achieved through Islamist regime change tore apart the region and turned it into a playground for terrorists. ISIS is simply the biggest and toughest of the terror groups that were able to thrive in the environment of violent civil wars created by Obama’s Directive 11.

During the Arab Spring protests, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit had told Hillary Clinton that his government could not hand over power to the Muslim Brotherhood. “My daughter gets to go out at night. And, God damn it, I’m not going to turn this country over to people who will turn back the clock on her rights.”

But that was exactly what Hillary Clinton and Obama were after. And they got it. Countless women were raped in Egypt. Beyond Egypt, Hillary and Obama’s policy saw Yazidi women actually sold into slavery.

Directive 11 codified the left’s dirty alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood into our foreign policy. Its support for Islamist takeovers paved the way for riots and civil wars culminating in the violence that birthed ISIS and covered the region in blood.

And it remains secret to this day.

Islamic Supremacism: The True Source of Muslim ‘Grievances’

May 15, 2015

Islamic Supremacism: The True Source of Muslim ‘Grievances’, Front Page Magazine, May 15, 2015

Indian.Christians

In the ongoing debate (or debacle) concerning free speech/expression and Muslim grievance—most recently on exhibition in Garland, where two “jihadis” opened fire on a “Prophet Muhammad” art contest organized by Pamela Geller—one thing has become clear: the things non-Muslims can do to provoke Islamic violence is limitless—and far exceeds cartoons.

Writes Victor Davis Hanson for example:

[Pamela] Geller, and not the jihadists who sought to kill those with whom they disagreed, was supposedly at fault. Her critics could not figure out that radical Muslims object not just to caricatures and cartoons, but to any iconographic representation of Mohammed. Had Geller offered invitations to artists to compete for the most majestic statue of the Prophet, jihadists might still have tried to use violence to stop it. Had she held a beauty pageant for gay Muslims or a public wedding for gay Muslim couples, jihadists would certainly have shown up.  Had she offered a contest for the bravest Islamic apostates, jihadists would have galvanized to kill the non-believers. Had she organized a support rally for Israel, jihadists might well have tried to kill the innocent, as they did in Paris when they murderously attacked a kosher market.

But it’s even worse than that.  The list of things that non-Muslims can do to provoke Islamic violence grows by the day and accords with the list of things subjugated “infidels” must never do, lest they provoke their Islamic overlords as laid out by Islamic law, or Sharia.

As such, the West needs finally to come to terms with the root source of these ubiquitous, easily sparked “Muslim grievances.”

Enter Muslim supremacism.

Islamic doctrine—which teaches that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims,  who are further compared to dogs and cattle—imbues Muslims with this sense of supremacism over the rest of mankind.  And a good portion of Islamic history—when Muslims were for centuries on the warpath, subjugating large swathes of the Old Word—further enforced it.

This sense of Islamic supremacism was dramatically humbled after European powers defeated and colonized much of the Muslim world.  Bred on the notion that “might makes right,” Muslims, for a time, even began emulating the unapologetic and triumphant West.  Turkey, for example, went from being the epitome of Islamic supremacy and jihad against Christian Europe for five centuries to desperately emulating Europe in all ways.  By the mid-1900s, Turkey became perhaps the most Westernized/secularized “Muslim” nation.

Today, however, as Western peoples willingly capitulate to Islamic mores—in the name of tolerance, multiculturalism, political correctness, or just plain cowardice—Muslims are becoming more emboldened, making more demands and threats, as they realize they need not militarily defeat the West in order to resuscitate their supremacist birthright.  (More appeasement from the bullied always brings about more demands from the bully.)

To understand all this, one need only look to Muslim behavior where it is dominant and not in need of pretense, that is, in the Muslim world.  There, non-Muslim minorities are habitually treated as inferiors.  But unlike the many Western appeasers who willingly accept a subservient role to Islam, these religious minorities have no choice in the matter.

Thus in Pakistan, as Christian children were singing carols inside their church, Muslim men from a nearby mosque barged in with an axe, destroyed the furniture and altar, and beat the children.  Their justification for such violence?  “You are disturbing our prayers…. How dare you use the mike and speakers?”

And when a Muslim slapped a Christian and the latter reciprocated, the Muslim exclaimed “How dare a Christian slap me?!” Anti-Christian violence immediately ensued.

All of this revolves around what I call the “How Dare You?!” phenomenon.  Remember it next time “progressive” media, politicians, and other talking heads tell you that Muslim mayhem and outbursts are products of grievances against the West. Missing from their rationale is the supremacist base of these grievances.

The Conditions of Omar, a foundational medieval Muslim text dealing with how subjugated “infidels” must behave, spells out their inferiority vis-à-vis Muslims.  Among other stipulations, it commands conquered Christians not to raise their “voices during prayer or readings in churches anywhere near Muslims” (hence the axe-attack in Pakistan).  It also commands them not to display any signs of Christianity—specifically Bibles and crosses—not to build churches, and not to criticize the prophet.  (See Crucified Again:Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians for my translation of “The Conditions of Omar.”)

If the supremacist nature of Islamic law is still not clear enough, the Conditions literally commands Christians to give up their seats to Muslims as a show of respect.

By way of analogy, consider when Rosa Parks, a black woman, refused to give up her bus seat to white passengers.  Any white supremacist at the time had sincere grievances: how dare she think herself equal?

But were such grievances legitimate? Should they have been accommodated?  Are the endless “grievances” of Muslims legitimate and should they be accommodated?  These are the questions missing from the debate about easily bruised Muslim sensitivities.

One can go on and on with examples from all around the Islamic world:

In Turkey, a Bible publishing house was once stormed and three of its Christian employees tortured, disemboweled, and finally murdered.  One suspect later said: “We didn’t do this for ourselves, but for our religion [Islam]…. Our religion is being destroyed.”

In Egypt, after a 17-year-old Christian student refused to obey his Muslim teacher’s orders to cover up his cross, the teacher and some Muslim students attacked, beat, and ultimately murdered the teenager.

These Turkish and Egyptian Muslims were truly aggrieved: Islamic law makes clear that Christians must not “produce a cross or Bible” around Muslims. How dare the Egyptian student and Turkish Bible publishers refuse to comply—thus grieving their Muslim murderers?

In Indonesia, where it is becoming next to impossible for Christians to build churches, Christians often congregate outside to celebrate Christmas—only to be attacked by Muslims hurling cow dung and bags of urine at the Christians as they pray.

These Muslims are also sincerely aggrieved: how dare these Christians think they can be a church when the Conditions forbid it?

In short, anytime non-Muslims dare to overstep their Sharia-designated “inferior” status—which far exceeds drawing cartoons—supremacist Muslims will become violently aggrieved.

From here, one can begin to understand the ultimate Muslim grievance: Israel.

For if “infidel” Christian minorities are deemed inferior and attacked by aggrieved Muslims for exercising their basic human rights, like freedom of worship, how must Muslims feel about Jews—the descendants of pigs and apes, according to the Koran—exercising power and authority over fellow Muslims in what is perceived to be Muslim land?

How dare they?!

Of course, if grievances against Israel were really about justice and displaced Palestinians, Muslims—and their Western appeasers—would be aggrieved by the fact that millions of Christians are currently being displaced by Muslim invaders.

Needless to say, they are not.

So the next time you hear that Muslim rage and terrorism are products of grievance—from cartoons to territorial disputes and everything in between—remember that this is absolutely true.  But these “grievances” are not predicated on any human standards of equality or justice, only a supremacist worldview.

King Abdullah II: We’re War With “Outlaws Of Islam” – Special Report

April 14, 2015

King Abdullah II: We’re War With “Outlaws Of Islam” – Special Report via You Tube, April 13, 2015

(He seems quite diplomatic, but what does he actually think? — DM)

 

Why Islam Needs a Reformation

March 21, 2015

Why Islam Needs a Reformation, Wall Street Journal, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, March 20, 2015

(What are the chances of such a reformation over the next hundred years or so? — DM)

bn-hm855_cover_m_20150319160506A man prays during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, at Jama Masjid in New Delhi on Oct. 6, 2014. Eid al-Adha marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

“Islam’s borders are bloody,” wrote the late political scientist Samuel Huntington in 1996, “and so are its innards.” Nearly 20 years later, Huntington looks more right than ever before. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, at least 70% of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims. In 2013, there were nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks world-wide. The lion’s share were in Muslim-majority countries, and many of the others were carried out by Muslims. By far the most numerous victims of Muslim violence—including executions and lynchings not captured in these statistics—are Muslims themselves.

Not all of this violence is explicitly motivated by religion, but a great deal of it is. I believe that it is foolish to insist, as Western leaders habitually do, that the violent acts committed in the name of Islam can somehow be divorced from the religion itself. For more than a decade, my message has been simple: Islam is not a religion of peace.

When I assert this, I do not mean that Islamic belief makes all Muslims violent. This is manifestly not the case: There are many millions of peaceful Muslims in the world. What I do say is that the call to violence and the justification for it are explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam. Moreover, this theologically sanctioned violence is there to be activated by any number of offenses, including but not limited to apostasy, adultery, blasphemy and even something as vague as threats to family honor or to the honor of Islam itself.

It is not just al Qaeda and Islamic State that show the violent face of Islamic faith and practice. It is Pakistan, where any statement critical of the Prophet or Islam is labeled as blasphemy and punishable by death. It is Saudi Arabia, where churches and synagogues are outlawed and where beheadings are a legitimate form of punishment. It is Iran, where stoning is an acceptable punishment and homosexuals are hanged for their “crime.”

As I see it, the fundamental problem is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts. It simply will not do for Muslims to claim that their religion has been “hijacked” by extremists. The killers of Islamic State and Nigeria’s Boko Haram cite the same religious texts that every other Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct.

Instead of letting Islam off the hook with bland clichés about the religion of peace, we in the West need to challenge and debate the very substance of Islamic thought and practice. We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and to demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts.

As it turns out, the West has some experience with this sort of reformist project. It is precisely what took place in Judaism and Christianity over the centuries, as both traditions gradually consigned the violent passages of their own sacred texts to the past. Many parts of the Bible and the Talmud reflect patriarchal norms, and both also contain many stories of harsh human and divine retribution. As President Barack Obama said in remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast last month, “Remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

bn-hm858_cover_m_20150319160800Islamic State militants marching through Raqqa, Syria, a stronghold of the Sunni extremist group, in an undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Yet today, because their faiths went through a long, meaningful process of Reformation and Enlightenment, the vast majority of Jews and Christians have come to dismiss religious scripture that urges intolerance or violence. There are literalist fringes in both religions, but they are true fringes. Regrettably, in Islam, it is the other way around: It is those seeking religious reform who are the fringe element.

Any serious discussion of Islam must begin with its core creed, which is based on the Quran (the words said to have been revealed by the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad) and the hadith (the accompanying works that detail Muhammad’s life and words). Despite some sectarian differences, this creed unites all Muslims. All, without exception, know by heart these words: “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah; and Muhammad is His messenger.” This is the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith.

The Shahada might seem to be a declaration of belief no different from any other. But the reality is that the Shahada is both a religious and a political symbol.

In the early days of Islam, when Muhammad was going from door to door in Mecca trying to persuade the polytheists to abandon their idols of worship, he was inviting them to accept that there was no god but Allah and that he was Allah’s messenger.

After 10 years of trying this kind of persuasion, however, he and his small band of believers went to Medina, and from that moment, Muhammad’s mission took on a political dimension. Unbelievers were still invited to submit to Allah, but after Medina, they were attacked if they refused. If defeated, they were given the option to convert or to die. (Jews and Christians could retain their faith if they submitted to paying a special tax.)

No symbol represents the soul of Islam more than the Shahada. But today there is a contest within Islam for the ownership of that symbol. Who owns the Shahada? Is it those Muslims who want to emphasize Muhammad’s years in Mecca or those who are inspired by his conquests after Medina? On this basis, I believe that we can distinguish three different groups of Muslims.

The first group is the most problematic. These are the fundamentalists who, when they say the Shahada, mean: “We must live by the strict letter of our creed.” They envision a regime based on Shariah, Islamic religious law. They argue for an Islam largely or completely unchanged from its original seventh-century version. What is more, they take it as a requirement of their faith that they impose it on everyone else.

I shall call them Medina Muslims, in that they see the forcible imposition of Shariah as their religious duty. They aim not just to obey Muhammad’s teaching but also to emulate his warlike conduct after his move to Medina. Even if they do not themselves engage in violence, they do not hesitate to condone it.

It is Medina Muslims who call Jews and Christians “pigs and monkeys.” It is Medina Muslims who prescribe death for the crime of apostasy, death by stoning for adultery and hanging for homosexuality. It is Medina Muslims who put women in burqas and beat them if they leave their homes alone or if they are improperly veiled.

bn-hm863_cover_m_20150319161118Muslim children carry torches during a parade before Eid al-Fitr, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, on July 27, 2014, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The second group—and the clear majority throughout the Muslim world—consists of Muslims who are loyal to the core creed and worship devoutly but are not inclined to practice violence. I call them Mecca Muslims. Like devout Christians or Jews who attend religious services every day and abide by religious rules in what they eat and wear, Mecca Muslims focus on religious observance. I was born in Somalia and raised as a Mecca Muslim. So were the majority of Muslims from Casablanca to Jakarta.

Yet the Mecca Muslims have a problem: Their religious beliefs exist in an uneasy tension with modernity—the complex of economic, cultural and political innovations that not only reshaped the Western world but also dramatically transformed the developing world as the West exported it. The rational, secular and individualistic values of modernity are fundamentally corrosive of traditional societies, especially hierarchies based on gender, age and inherited status.

Trapped between two worlds of belief and experience, these Muslims are engaged in a daily struggle to adhere to Islam in the context of a society that challenges their values and beliefs at every turn. Many are able to resolve this tension only by withdrawing into self-enclosed (and increasingly self-governing) enclaves. This is called cocooning, a practice whereby Muslim immigrants attempt to wall off outside influences, permitting only an Islamic education for their children and disengaging from the wider non-Muslim community.

It is my hope to engage this second group of Muslims—those closer to Mecca than to Medina—in a dialogue about the meaning and practice of their faith. I recognize that these Muslims are not likely to heed a call for doctrinal reformation from someone they regard as an apostate and infidel. But they may reconsider if I can persuade them to think of me not as an apostate but as a heretic: one of a growing number of people born into Islam who have sought to think critically about the faith we were raised in. It is with this third group—only a few of whom have left Islam altogether—that I would now identify myself.

These are the Muslim dissidents. A few of us have been forced by experience to conclude that we could not continue to be believers; yet we remain deeply engaged in the debate about Islam’s future. The majority of dissidents are reforming believers—among them clerics who have come to realize that their religion must change if its followers are not to be condemned to an interminable cycle of political violence.

How many Muslims belong to each group? Ed Husain of the Council on Foreign Relations estimates that only 3% of the world’s Muslims understand Islam in the militant terms I associate with Muhammad’s time in Medina. But out of well over 1.6 billion believers, or 23% of the globe’s population, that 48 million seems to be more than enough. (I would put the number significantly higher, based on survey data on attitudes toward Shariah in Muslim countries.)

In any case, regardless of the numbers, it is the Medina Muslims who have captured the world’s attention on the airwaves, over social media, in far too many mosques and, of course, on the battlefield.

The Medina Muslims pose a threat not just to non-Muslims. They also undermine the position of those Mecca Muslims attempting to lead a quiet life in their cultural cocoons throughout the Western world. But those under the greatest threat are the dissidents and reformers within Islam, who face ostracism and rejection, who must brave all manner of insults, who must deal with the death threats—or face death itself.

For the world at large, the only viable strategy for containing the threat posed by the Medina Muslims is to side with the dissidents and reformers and to help them to do two things: first, identify and repudiate those parts of Muhammad’s legacy that summon Muslims to intolerance and war, and second, persuade the great majority of believers—the Mecca Muslims—to accept this change.

Islam is at a crossroads. Muslims need to make a conscious decision to confront, debate and ultimately reject the violent elements within their religion. To some extent—not least because of widespread revulsion at the atrocities of Islamic State, al Qaeda and the rest—this process has already begun. But it needs leadership from the dissidents, and they in turn stand no chance without support from the West.

What needs to happen for us to defeat the extremists for good? Economic, political, judicial and military tools have been proposed and some of them deployed. But I believe that these will have little effect unless Islam itself is reformed.

Such a reformation has been called for repeatedly at least since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent abolition of the caliphate. But I would like to specify precisely what needs to be reformed.

I have identified five precepts central to Islam that have made it resistant to historical change and adaptation. Only when the harmfulness of these ideas are recognized and they are repudiated will a true Muslim Reformation have been achieved.

Here are the five areas that require amendment:

1. Muhammad’s semi-divine status, along with the literalist reading of the Quran.
Muhammad should not be seen as infallible, let alone as a source of divine writ. He should be seen as a historical figure who united the Arab tribes in a premodern context that cannot be replicated in the 21st century. And although Islam maintains that the Quran is the literal word of Allah, it is, in historical reality, a book that was shaped by human hands. Large parts of the Quran simply reflect the tribal values of the 7th-century Arabian context from which it emerged. The Quran’s eternal spiritual values must be separated from the cultural accidents of the place and time of its birth.

2. The supremacy of life after death.
The appeal of martyrdom will fade only when Muslims assign a greater value to the rewards of this life than to those promised in the hereafter.

3. Shariah, the vast body of religious legislation.
Muslims should learn to put the dynamic, evolving laws made by human beings above those aspects of Shariah that are violent, intolerant or anachronistic.

4. The right of individual Muslims to enforce Islamic law.
There is no room in the modern world for religious police, vigilantes and politically empowered clerics.

5. The imperative to wage jihad, or holy war.
Islam must become a true religion of peace, which means rejecting the imposition of religion by the sword.

I know that this argument will make many Muslims uncomfortable. Some are bound to be offended by my proposed amendments. Others will contend that I am not qualified to discuss these complex issues of theology and law. I am also afraid—genuinely afraid—that it will make a few Muslims even more eager to silence me.

But this is not a work of theology. It is more in the nature of a public intervention in the debate about the future of Islam. The biggest obstacle to change within the Muslim world is precisely its suppression of the sort of critical thinking I am attempting here. If my proposal for reform helps to spark a serious discussion of these issues among Muslims themselves, I will consider it a success.

Let me make two things clear. I do not seek to inspire another war on terror or extremism—violence in the name of Islam cannot be ended by military means alone. Nor am I any sort of “Islamophobe.” At various times, I myself have been all three kinds of Muslim: a fundamentalist, a cocooned believer and a dissident. My journey has gone from Mecca to Medina to Manhattan.

For me, there seemed no way to reconcile my faith with the freedoms I came to the West to embrace. I left the faith, despite the threat of the death penalty prescribed by Shariah for apostates. Future generations of Muslims deserve better, safer options. Muslims should be able to welcome modernity, not be forced to wall themselves off, or live in a state of cognitive dissonance, or lash out in violent rejection.

But it is not only Muslims who would benefit from a reformation of Islam. We in the West have an enormous stake in how the struggle over Islam plays out. We cannot remain on the sidelines, as though the outcome has nothing to do with us. For if the Medina Muslims win and the hope for a Muslim Reformation dies, the rest of the world too will pay an enormous price—not only in blood spilled but also in freedom lost.

Bad Ideas Breed Bad Foreign Policy

March 4, 2015

Bad Ideas Breed Bad Foreign Policy, Front Page Magazine, March 4, 2015

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The triumph of secularization has disarmed us in the fight against modern jihadism. No matter how often jihadists evoke the religious foundations of their actions, no matter how many Koranic verses and Hadith they quote, we cannot imagine a people for whom the spiritual realm is more real than the material world. We cannot imagine a life permeated with the divine and directed by submission––what “Islam” literally means––to Allah and the model of Mohammed. We ignore, as Bernard Lewis has written, the fact that “in most Islamic countries, religion remains a major political factor,” for “most Muslim countries are still profoundly Muslim, in a way and a sense that most Christian countries are no longer Christian.” Hence the worldwide Muslim support for shari’a law and its codified sexism, intolerance, and penal cruelty.

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Barack Obama’s foreign policy will go down in U.S. history as one of the most dangerously inept ever. Created by equal amounts of ignorance, arrogance, and partisan politics, the president’s policies have left behind a world in which rivals and enemies are on the march, while allies and friends are endangered and alienated. He deserves the opprobrium with which future history should load him.

But focusing on individuals and their personal flaws can prevent us from seeing the larger bad ideas that transcend any one person or party. We justly remember British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain as the architect of the 1938 Munich conference that paved the way for Hitler’s aggression. And indeed, Chamberlain’s flaws of character––most important a vanity about his personal powers of persuasion that blinded him to Hitler’s brilliant diplomatic misdirection about his true intentions––contributed to that debacle. But we should also remember the delirious public joy that greeted Chamberlain when he returned to England, and the global acclaim he received for avoiding war with Germany. Millions of people thought Chamberlain had heroically succeeded because many shared the assumptions and ideas that drove his decisions.

So too today, Obama’s vanity and self-regard have from the beginning led to dangerous foreign policy decisions. His belief that he was a global “transformational” and “world-historical” figure drove him to court inveterate enemies like Iran, the Taliban, and the Muslim Brothers, who he mistakenly believed would be seduced by his brilliance and sympathy for their grievances. His fatuous Cairo speech in 2009 and his numerous groveling letters to Iran honcho Ayatollah Khamenei were predicated on Obama’s notion that as a person “of color,” who had spent a few childhood years in a Muslim country and was ashamed of America’s global sins, he had an instant rapport with hard, cruel men who despise the West as “Crusaders,” godless infidels to be conquered, converted, or killed. Indeed, Obama’s delusional self-estimation recalls Chamberlain’s comments to his cabinet that in the negotiations over Czechoslovakia “Hitler was speaking the truth,” and that “he had established some degree of personal influence over Herr Hitler.” Herr Hitler, in fact, considered Chamberlain “a little worm.”

But beyond these failures of character and self-knowledge, larger cultural ideas have contributed to this country’s mistakes in dealing with a resurgent Islamic jihad. Most important has been the triumph of secularism in the West, the marginalization of religion in our politics and culture. Anyone who believes the received wisdom that the U.S. is a religious country should ignore the polling data on churchgoing and look instead at our public culture. Sordid sexual content in movies, television shows, and popular music; 58 million abortions since 1973; the legitimization of same-sex marriage; the incessant demonization of any participation of religion in schools or politics––all bespeak a culture in which religion has been reduced to a private life-style choice and comforting holiday rituals, as Obama suggested when he reduced the First Amendment’s protection of religion to the “freedom to worship.” Anyone who does take Christianity or Judaism more seriously than that is considered, to quote Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, “shamans or witch doctors from savage tribes whom one humors until one can dress them in trousers and send them to school.”

More important, the animus against faith has contributed to the fashionable self-loathing and dislike of their home country on the part of many progressives and leftists, who have implicated Christianity in the crimes of capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism. Hence Obama’s bringing up and distorting the history of the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition in a speech about religious violence. Meanwhile, a noble-savage multiculturalism masquerading as tolerance for the oppressed “other” considers Islam an exotic “religion of peace,” despite its 14 centuries of slaughter, invasion, pillage, slaving, occupation, and colonization. Those tolerant Muslims of Granada in 1066 killed as many Jews in one day as the Spanish Inquisition did in its 3 centuries of existence.

The triumph of secularization has disarmed us in the fight against modern jihadism. No matter how often jihadists evoke the religious foundations of their actions, no matter how many Koranic verses and Hadith they quote, we cannot imagine a people for whom the spiritual realm is more real than the material world. We cannot imagine a life permeated with the divine and directed by submission––what “Islam” literally means––to Allah and the model of Mohammed. We ignore, as Bernard Lewis has written, the fact that “in most Islamic countries, religion remains a major political factor,” for “most Muslim countries are still profoundly Muslim, in a way and a sense that most Christian countries are no longer Christian.” Hence the worldwide Muslim support for shari’a law and its codified sexism, intolerance, and penal cruelty.

Given this failure of imagination, we have misunderstood jihadism ever since it burst onto the global scene in 1979 with the Iranian Revolution, when our foreign policy establishment ignored or dismissed its religious roots. Thirty-five years later, Obama continues the same mistake, refusing to identify ISIS as an expression of Islamic doctrine, or to use the adjective “Islamic” to describe the numerous jihadist movements active today, or to recognize the apocalyptic messianism and genocidal aims of the Iranian mullahcracy. This blindness reflects widespread delusions like the long mischaracterization of Islam as the “religion of peace,” the reinterpretation of jihad to mean a self-improving “inner struggle,” or the historical fantasies of Islamic “tolerance” in Ottoman Turkey or Andalusian Spain.

Behind this Orwellian rhetoric lies the assumption that all religions are basically the same and preach the same doctrines of “love thy neighbor” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This reduction of religion to Hallmark-card sentimentalism is yet another instance of the refusal to take spirituality seriously, and to acknowledge that all spiritual aims are not the same or compatible. How much easier it is to indulge a flabby ecumenicalism and dismiss the jihadists as “evil” or “barbaric,” as though we are dealing with psychopathic serial killers rather than fervent believers in a worldwide faith with doctrines and practices dating back to the 7th century.

Finally, the dismissal of spiritual causes leads us to focus on material ones, which in turn creates the preposterous analyses of jihadism as a reflection of material conditions or psychological dysfunctions created by them. Hence this administration recently has talked about “root causes” like “lack of opportunity for jobs” (State Department spokesman Marie Harf); the need for “peaceful democratic change” and “economic growth and devoting more resources on education, including for girls and women” (Barack Obama); “alienation, poverty, thrill-seeking, and other factors” (John Kerry); and “the perceived effect of U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world” (Rashad Hussain, recently named Obama’s Special Envoy and Coordinator for Strategic Counter-terrorism Communications), to name a few.

Yet even some Christian and observant Jewish conservatives have ignored the power of spiritual imperatives and religious differences, particularly in their focus on democracy promotion as the cure for jihadist terror. George W. Bush, in his 2002 National Security Strategy, focused U.S. foreign policy on promoting a “single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise,” for “these values of freedom are right and true for every person, every society.” These dubious ideals became strategic aims during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And for all he styles himself the anti-Bush, Barack Obama has made the same claims, as in his 2012 remarks at the U.N. “Freedom and self-determination,” he said, “are not unique to one culture. These are not simply American values or Western values—they are universal values.”

But no matter how potentially true these claims may be, to those pious Muslims who consider themselves the “slaves of Allah,” freedom and democracy as we understand them are incompatible with shari’a law, and “national success” will be achieved by restoring Islam to its original purity, and following the “model” that empowered Allah’s warriors to create a global empire stretching from the Atlantic to China. If we take seriously Islam’s spiritual aims––the necessity of obeying Allah’s precepts in order to create for Muslims a totalizing political-social order of justice, piety, and equality, and to ensure an eternity of bliss in paradise––then we will see that our notions of earthly freedom, leisure, confessional tolerance, and prosperity are to millions of Muslims mere temptations to abandon their faith and risk their eternal souls. And we will understand that waging jihad against those responsible for those temptations, especially a rich and powerful infidel West, is the communal duty of the Islamic ummah, and death in that battle the key to paradise.

Trapped in our own secularist and materialist assumptions, we mistake the nature of the enemy and thus create policies––most important the appeasement of Iran through negotiations and concessions that will end with the world’s foremost terrorist state in possession of nuclear weapons––doomed to fail and damage our security and interests. But Barack Obama will not be the only father of that failure.