Ever since 9/11 the spectre of Islamist terrorism has loomed large, but never more so that now, with the establishment of the ‘Caliphate’ by Islamic State Jihadists. There was a moment in late June this year when, had we taken military action against this evil group we could have slammed them into oblivion. Instead the West looked on as they accumulated land, arms, cash and new members. The terrible beheadings of Western men have loomed large in the last month – but IS have been committing the most disgusting atrocities since inception – selling women and girls and using them as slaves, slaughtering men en masse who didn’t meet their criteria of Islamic righteousness, even crucifixions.
In the UK there has been some little action by the government on this but too late [ed-today 26/09/14 MPs have voted for air strikes]- having allowed the group to grow has given them the oxygen of publicity and the opportunity to amass riches – it is now the richest terrorist organisation in the world, and has been producing slick promotional videos to glamourise their movement and recruit new members.
On the streets of the UK, in stark contrast to the anti-Israel marches of recent months, there have been marches against this monstruous gang and its merciless killings of Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen and Shia Muslims but they have received less media notice than the anti-Israel marches did. What is going on is in effect ethnic cleansing of an area the size of Wales with the stated intention of IS to continue to take more land from unbelievers. This is a very worrying trend – to see Israel’s defence of its own people in the face of kidnappings, murders and constant rocket attacks from Hamas terrorists as somehow more morally repugnant than IS butchery of completely defenceless communities which had never previously attacked it. There is in fact an eerie quiet from commentators on this fact. It is certainly easier to bash Israel for the killings of civilians than it is to question what it is that is driving IS’ frenzy of murder. I suspect this is because people are afraid to have fans of IS target them for slaying next. Or it is just a blindness to the virulence of Islamism the world over – an evil ideology which has spawned Boko Haram – kidnappers of young girls in Nigeria, Al Shabab – terrorising Kenya, the killing of Lee Rigby in Greenwich, UK and of course the 7/7 and 9/11 atrocities to name but a few of the barbaric acts being committed in the name of Islam. (latest report on UK Islamism here http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/2278/britain-islamic-emirates-project) .
Too often the religion is said to be a peaceful one – but there are too many instances of Islamic violence through history as well as today (the initial Caliphate created following the death of Mohammed was one gained by violence, the Mughals in India used to take a ‘tax’ of one son from Hindus, to say nothing of the bloody conquests of the Moors. The verses of the Koran are numerous in inciting hate and violence towards unbelievers – the worst examples of which are Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” and Quran (4:74) – “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.”
There is a problem with Islamists in the way they see themselves in the world – both as victims and conquerors – they often state they are fighting back against poor treatment of Muslims and yet Isis is killing Muslims itself – in fact in terms of violence towards Muslims only about 2% has been from non-Muslims in the last 100 years or so.
Whilst not taking it so far as destructive acts, in the UK too many Muslims see themselves and their communities as victims of racism or distrust, and feel excluded. A very few have turned to violence in retaliation, and often cite the suffering of Muslims world-wide to explain their action. However, I think a more rational view would be to consider whether Muslims who feel disadvantaged make enough effort to integrate into their host societies – like Hindus and Jews have. In fact those most successful Muslims have integrated successfully and are much more secularised than the many that have come from tribal villages of Pakistan and Bangladesh. This latter group often have made no efforts to Westernise their behaviour and attitudes, leading to undoubted exclusion from jobs which require education and good English as well as shared mores and attitudes. Fundamental Islamists bask in this refusal to adhere to UK values which they criticise for being ‘Un-Islamic’ . And yet still they blame the English for their economic woes whilst simultaneously demanding their own Islamic schools, translations and special rules to allow their school girls to wear Hijabs etc. which will only serve to further isolate them. In aiding this warped belief of course well-meaning Left Liberals can take much blame too.
There are probably racists everywhere but surely they would strike as much the Indian population as the Muslim one – yet Indians (like my dad) are not heard complaining of discrimination and certainly not planning suicide attacks on the people of Britain. Presumably Indians remember more readily why they migrated to this country and make an effort to become part of it, rather than isolating themselves behind foreign dress, language and demands for special treatment (Halal food, wearing the veil, the Trojan Horse scandal, Bangladeshi street names in the East End of London etc are all examples of this). It is a failure on behalf of this group of Muslims to take responsibility for problems which they could strive to avoid by simply trying more to fit in to the societies they have migrated to, presumably for a reason. The very inverse of this has always been the Hindus from India and the Jews who have migrated to the UK over the last century. They have far more made every effort to fit in, assimilate and integrate – to the extent that they are now and have been for long represented at high levels in all aspects of society – even as far as Prime Minister in Disraeli and Leader of the Opposition today in Ed Milliband. Jews and Hindus often are very secularised in outlook at least in the public sphere. And yet adherents of their faiths are still able to succeed in this society because ultimately their goals and attitudes are fundamentally the same as ours in the UK – they live peacefully with the rest of the population and only seek to be independent and self-reliant – commendable attributes. They would rather get on and be left in peace that proselytise and force others to adhere to their faiths – in fact it is extremely hard to convert to Judaism even if one wanted to and there is no duty for Hindus to convert others unlike with Islam.
I myself have long ago given up on my childhood Catholic faith in opposition to the hypocrisy of the Church when it blinded itself to the abuse by priests of catholic children and unmarried women, as well as the ridiculous insistence of past popes that contraception be banned which leads to such suffering in Christian parts of Africa. Whilst I might pray to God in times of need or to give thanks, I’d rather pop along to an Anglican church occasionally – but unlike Muslim apostates I am safe in the knowledge that this will not result in the Catholic church ordering my slaying for apostasy.
Looking at the problems in the Middle East and the Arab world in particular – clearly if these countries had a better educated populace, less corrupt and blood thirsty leaders and a greater interest in the secular activities of building economies and infrastructure, as well of course as democracy and individual freedom, they would, like China, begin to rival the West in the success of their nations. This is currently impossible because of the stranglehold of conservative Islamic teaching which stops half the population (women) from gaining equal rights to employment, social freedom, education and basic rights compared to men. These nations then look out towards the West and assume it is the fault of the a conspiracy on behalf of Jews or the CIA or America generally that they are in such a miserable state. Yet looking inwards a bit more would help them far more – it is clearly their regressive religion and bent towards violence which makes stable democratic free market economies impossible. The people under the Muslim yoke should rise up against the conservative, rigid reading of it and see it for what it is – the route to poverty, violence, lack of tolerance and personal freedom. Islam means ‘submission to god’ after all – this submission is inconvenient when living in the Western secular world and some Muslims don’t like it – see this Gatestone Institute report which illustrates how a UK Muslim group states “The Only Identity for Muslims is Islam … In no shape or form can a Muslim support any form of nationalism such as promoting Britishness”.
The problems we face in the West are the great number of disaffected young Muslims who hate us – this was seen in all the Al Quaeda bombings and the horrific systematic sexual exploitation of young girls by Muslim Pakistani men in Bradford, as well as the frightening attempts to Islamify state schools in the Midlands and of course the sad and awful killing of Lee Rigby. There is a constant barrage of Islamic anti-western brooding and complaints of Islamophobia and now blatant incitement to attack us for joining in the fight to defeat ISIS. Yet the West is democratic and tolerant of minorities – so how can we reconcile protecting our people and our valued culture against a culture that is deeply intolerant and too often despises us?
Edward Said in his book on what he termed ‘Orientalism’ (1978) was at the root cause of much of what ails the West in dealing with this, in my view – he saw all whites as by definition racist and bent on the oppression of Arabs and Muslims. The thesis of Orientalism is the existence of a “subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture”. Too often this has informed the fear of those both on the Left and Right politically in the West that we are somehow being racist if we discuss the issues inherent in Islam as it manifests within nations and within mainly poor immigrant communities. This has left us vulnerable to our tolerance being abused and has left us with a situation in the UK where London is commonly called ‘Londonistan’ because it is so much like Afghanistan – Muslim communities who wish it can isolate themselves fully from British culture, which is wrong, as it stops them seeing Britons as normal people and it stops them feeling a need to integrate. This is multiculturalism in action.
We cannot any longer continue to allow the discourse about human rights to blind itself to the human rights of non-Muslims to themselves not be threatened with violence, beheaded and murdered in their own countries and abroad, and instead prioritise that of Muslims – allowing them to display intolerance and hatred towards others. This is why some white Britons can still equate Israel defending itself with the barbarism of ISIS.
In foreign states and communities with majority Muslim members there are countless depredations visited on those who fail to fit the restrictive mould – anyone marrying non-Muslims, dancing or watching sports in Iran or Afghanistan, being a Shia in today’s Iraq, gays, women and minorities. We do not tolerate this of our own societies and it is in fact patronising and racist to expect Arab and Muslim states or communities to be so different (read ‘backwards’) that they should not be held to the same human rights standards as our own Western democracies. This is why Israel is widely berated whilst the glaring issues at play in the Muslim world are ignored or seen as unique problems each time, unrelated to wider problems with Islam. Israelis are just not brown enough and are not poor enough to be considered ‘deserving’ of the right to defend themselves against an equally barbaric aggressor such as Hamas – it’s that simplistic and ridiculous.
Edward Said got it totally wrong and introduced this hand-wringing character of Western discourse on Islam when he said in ‘Islam Through Western Eyes’ (1980) that;
“So far as the United States seems to be concerned, it is only a slight overstatement to say that Moslems and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists. Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Moslem life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Arab world. What we have, instead, is a series of crude, essentialized caricatures of the Islamic world presented in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression.”
It is in fact the Islamic world which funds terrorist activity and promotes Jihad which makes the West fear Islam – because in fact we are truly vulnerable to the aggression of deluded Muslims who want to kill in the name of Islam. I’m afraid that Jews or Hindus don’t tend to devise plans to blow themselves up in order to kill Westerners, rampage through states demanding conversions, nor do they tend to behead people, gouge eyes out or impale severed heads on spikes. Nor do these groups tend to kidnap women and children to rape and sell as chattel. Israel has had to defend itself from this type of terrorism for its entire existence – it’s time we in the West realised who was the good neighbour in the middle east.
The idea that this is simply ‘Islamophobia’ is a ridiculously simplistic way of looking at this. There is a feeling that this is current worry about Islamism is akin to the old Blood Libel against the Jews which suggested that Jews needed to kidnap and kill Christian children for their blood to be used in the manufacture of Matzos. This was and is utter nonsense – but the fear of Islamism is not made up – it is comes from the daily threats emanating from ISIS and other Islamists over the years, from the bombings of our cities, from the massacring of Hindus in Mumbai by Islamists, from the killings of Kenyans by Al-Shabaab and the killing of Lee Rigby, from the sexual depredations of the Pakistani perpetrators in Bradford and the beheadings of kidnapped victims by IS. When Barack Obama says ‘ISIS is not Islamic’ he is wrong – there is a long history of violence and Caliphates in Islam and we are foolish in our cosy Western liberalism to ignore this and worse – to avoid seeing it for what it is – a threat to our security, our values and our freedom.
This is an interesting piece too from Crisis Magazine – time-take-islamic-state-seriously .