Tag Archives: terrorism

The Muslim Reformation

HirsiThe July issue of Foreign Affairs has back to back essays on the Muslim Reformation. The first is by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the second is a rebuttal by William McCants of Brookings. This is a fine example of how Jeremiah is always telling you to form your own opinions.

If you read the New York Times, for example, they equip you with one (1) standard issue opinion, backed up by enough talking points to debate someone who has gotten his opinion from the Wall Street Journal. Foreign Affairs presents debates, like this one, with no guidance but your own.

Jeremiah has a lot of respect for Hirsi Ali, based on the personal risks she has taken to spread her message of Islam – which others call blasphemy.  Her essay was compelling, and resonated with our earlier report on this topic. The call for U.S. involvement, however, might not be a good idea. This brings us to the second essay.

McCants begins defensively, and his first few pages are a straw man attack on Hirsi Ali’s premises. She never suggests a fundamental problem with Islam, i.e., from Scripture. What she says is that terrorists are able to justify themselves as jihadis, and that it is the job of Islamic scholars to deny them cover.

We must not embellish things and say that Islam is a religion of compassion, peace and rose water, and that everything is fine – Ayad Jamal al-Din

Overall, Hirsi Ali has a better grasp of the situation and the desired outcome. She is also more honest in her use of language. McCants adheres to the weasel words of diplomacy, wherein a “violent extremist” is just a “religious conservative” gone bad. On the other hand, he is probably right about the pitfalls of America trying to influence a profound debate at the heart of Islam.

This is where a morality-based foreign policy pays off, bizarre as that may sound. On principle, America should demand freedom of speech for all participants in the debate – no fatwas, no intimidation – and we can make our other values known, too, like gender equality.

Hirsi Ali says we should stand up for the reformers, in our negotiations with allies and foes alike. It may not be constructive for us to take a side in this debate, but we do have a right to articulate our own values – a right, and an obligation.

See also: What Ayaan Hirsi Ali Doesn’t Get about Islam


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The Last Straw

We thought Islamic extremism had jumped the shark last month in Peshawar, and now we have Paris. The Taliban’s murder of Pakistani schoolchildren has galvanized opinion. Decent, God-fearing locals have turned against the Taliban. Prior to this event, authorities have somewhat tolerated the Taliban because they could claim to be fighting the good fight against infidels, apostates, and American stooges.


Pakistan would shelter terrorists operating in the border region, attacking targets in Afghanistan – and Afghanistan would return the favor. If you think it’s crazy that the Taliban could successfully play two sovereign Muslim countries against each other, look at how Russia and America have failed to make common cause against al-Qaeda in the Maghreb or Islamic State in the Levant.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti recently described the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) as a “terrorist entity” that has “violated all Islamic values and the great purposes of sharia.”

Pakistan and Afghanistan will now share intelligence, treating the Taliban as a common enemy, and jointly defending the border region. As much as Jeremiah has favored military support for Afghanistan, it’s hard to deny that this breakthrough owes something to the waning of American influence in the region.

No longer can the Taliban claim to be fighting a foreign aggressor. They are, themselves, the enemy of innocent Muslim civilians. It’s pretty hard to attach terms like “holy struggle” and “martyrdom” to the slaughter of children.

The same goes for Paris. Sheikh Nasrallah of Hezbollah, hardly an American stooge, was quick to denounce the extremists, saying that they are a bigger insult to the faith than any number of satirical cartoons. It doesn’t get much press in the West, but Islamic leaders have been denouncing terrorists for some time.

The fatwa by Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri … terrorism is “haraam,” or forbidden by the Quran

Back in August, the Grand Mufti of Egypt denounced ISIL, and so did President al-Sisi. Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri of Pakistan issued a lengthy and stern fatwa. A roundup of condemnation from official Muslim sources is here. The list is long, and it didn’t just start this week. If you are squatting in the banlieue somewhere, thinking you can suicide bomb your way into heaven – you’re wrong. Stick with prayer and fasting.

On the other hand, there are plenty of Muslims who really do believe the crazy stuff, like killing people who leave the faith. Eugene Volokh is here, with a nice roundup of both sides. He also reminds us that Christianity went through its own crazy period, including the Inquisition, right up until the nineteenth century – or later, if you count Belfast.

At this point, just as Christianity was in 1527, Islam is ripe for al-Sisi’s revolution. The crazies can keep the term “jihad,” which they have stained with blood, and the mainstream can shun them. Some change in language or customs would be appropriate. Catholics kept their monopoly on “priests,” for example, and Latin.

As policy, we should certainly support the anti-terror clerics – with the caveat that overt American support might be counterproductive. What we can do is keep up the pressure of moral condemnation on all sides. The civilized world, including Islam and all faiths, denounces violence, which is the faith of the faithless. Those are the true apostates.

See also: Peshawar Photo Essay

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Iraqi Police Hero

Here is a touching story you might have missed in the mainstream media.  Iraqi policeman Ayyub Khalaf shielded bystanders by tackling a suicide bomber.  Khalaf, 34, leaves a widow and two young children.  God bless him.

GoodGuyHasM16The bomber’s target was Shia pilgrims making their way to Karbala for a religious observance.  To an outsider, this inter Islam violence is just incomprehensible, like Catholics killing Protestants – not that any kind of terrorism makes sense.

Such terrorist acts are particularly despicable and unjustifiable, all the more so since practising religious duties is revered in all various faiths. – UN Statement

Public reaction shows that ordinary Iraqis are sick of al-Qaeda fighting its war in their country.  They’re calling Khalaf a martyr.  Attention jihadis – a real martyr is someone who dies protecting the helpless.  The other lot are just murderers.

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Bow Down, Infidels!

Once again, some nitwit has stirred up the wrath of Islam.  This has happened before.  There was that preacher in Florida who proposed to host a barbecue and Koran burning.  Then, there was the incineration of holy texts by Marines in Afghanistan.  This time, angry mobs have stormed American embassies in Egypt and in Libya, and murdered several embassy staff.

The 2005 publication of 12 caricatures of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper triggered riots in many Muslim countries.

Jeremiah recommends a campaign of unreserved apology.  American diplomats should apologize in force.  President Obama should make a long, televised apology.  Then, he should kneel down in the Rose Garden and kiss a copy of the Koran.   Maybe then, Islam will forgive us.  Oh, and we should punish the guy responsible.  Cut off his hands!  That should do it.

No, that’s not really what Jeremiah recommends.  The logic that we brought this upon ourselves is precisely the “lesson” our enemies mean to teach us.  They also want us to believe that ghastly violence is justified by trifling offenses.  This is how – on the anniversary of 9/11, our own Holy Day – a rabble can subdue America.

Our enemies have a very simple morality.  American actions can communicate only one of two things – strength or fear.  You choose.

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Never Forget

Shed a tear today for those murdered on September 11, 2001, and for our soldiers in action against al-Qaeda.  Let us never forget that America has real enemies in the world.TERRORIST ATTACKS

In the aftermath of this heinous attack, some people asked the astonishing question, “Why do they hate us?”  Jeremiah doesn’t much care why they hate us.  If your response to a violent attack is to cozy up to your attacker and look for understanding, then you have Stockholm syndrome.  The only reliable way to deter an attack is to present a credible threat of retaliation.

Of course, it’s not easy to retaliate against a rabble that will hide among the innocent.  No one ever said it would be easy.  The Bush administration had a poor strategy for invading Iraq, and should have paid more attention to Afghanistan.  But they accomplished one key objective: for the past eight years we have fought al-Qaeda on their soil, not ours.

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