A Problem From Heaven – Why the United States Should Back Islam’s Reformation

Egyptian men read the Koran at Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo,  September 2008 NASSER NURI / REUTERS

Egyptian men read the Koran at Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, September 2008 NASSER NURI / REUTERS

Imagine a platform for Muslim dissidents that communicated their message through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Imagine ten reformist magazines for every one issue of the Islamic State’s Dabiq or al Qaeda’s Inspire. Imagine the argument for Islamic reform being available on radio and television in Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Pashto, and Urdu. Imagine grants and prizes for leading religious reformers. Imagine support for schools that act as anti-madrasahs.

Such a strategy would also give the United States an opportunity to shift its alliances to those Muslim individuals and groups that actually share its values and practices: those who fight for a true Muslim reformation and who currently find themselves maligned, if not persecuted, by the very governments Washington props up.

Foreign Affairs, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, June 16, 2015:

We have a problem—not a problem from hell, but one that claims to come from heaven. That problem is sometimes called radical, or fundamentalist, Islam, and the self-styled Islamic State is just its latest iteration. But no one really understands it. In the summer of 2014, Major General Michael Nagata, the commander of U.S. special operations forces in the Middle East, admitted as much when talking about the Islamic State, or ISIS. “We do not understand the movement,” he said. “And until we do, we are not going to defeat it.” Although Nagata’s words are striking for their candor, there is nothing new about the state of affairs they describe. For years, U.S. policymakers have failed to grasp the nature of the threat posed by militant Islam and have almost entirely failed to mount an effective counteroffensive against it on the battlefield that matters most: the battlefield of ideas.

In the war of ideas, words matter. Last September, U.S. President Barack Obama insisted that the Islamic State “is not Islamic,” and later that month, he told the UN General Assembly that “Islam teaches peace.” In November, Obama condemned the beheading of the American aid worker Peter Kassig as “evil” but refused to use the term “radical Islam” to describe the ideology of his killers. The phrase is no longer heard in White House press briefings. The approved term is “violent extremism.”

The decision not to call violence committed in the name of Islam by its true name—jihad—is a strange one. It would be as if Western leaders during the Cold War had gone around calling communism an ideology of peace or condemning the Baader Meinhof Gang, a West German militant group, for not being true Marxists. It is time to drop the euphemisms and verbal contortions. A battle for the future of Islam is taking place between reformers and reactionaries, and its outcome matters. The United States needs to start helping the right side win.

TONGUE-TIED

How did the United States end up with a strategy based on Orwellian Newspeak? In the wake of 9/11, senior Bush administration officials sounded emphatic. “This is a battle for minds,” declared the Pentagon’s no. 2, Paul Wolfowitz, in 2002. But behind the scenes, there was a full-blown struggle going on about how to approach the subject of Islam. According to Joseph Bosco, who worked on strategic communications and Muslim outreach in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2002 to 2004, although some American officials defined Islam as inherently peaceful, others argued that, like Christianity, it had to go through a reformation. Eventually, an uneasy compromise was reached. “We bridged the divide by saying that most contemporary Muslims practice their faith peacefully and tolerantly, but a small, radical minority aspires to return to Islam’s harsh seventh century origins,” Bosco wrote in The National Interest.

Administration officials could not even agree on the target of their efforts. Was it global terrorism or Islamic extremism? Or was it the alleged root causes—poverty, Saudi funding, past errors of U.S. foreign policy, or something else altogether? There were “agonizing” meetings on the subject, one participant told U.S. News & World Report. “We couldn’t clarify what path to take, so it was dropped.”

It did not help that the issue cut across traditional bureaucratic demarcations. Officers from the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command argued for the integration of public diplomacy, press relations, and covert operations. State Department officials saw this as yet another attempt by the Pentagon to annex their turf. Veterans of the campaign trail warned against going negative on a religion—any religion—ahead of the 2004 election. For all these reasons, by the middle of that year, the Bush administration had next to no strategy. Government Accountability Office investigators told Congress that those responsible for public diplomacy at the State Department had no guidance. “Everybody who knows how to do this has been screaming,” one insider told U.S. News. But outside Foggy Bottom, no one could hear them scream.

Administration officials eventually settled on the “Muslim World Outreach” strategy, which relied partly on humanitarian projects carried out by the U.S. Agency for International Development and partly on Arabic-language media outlets funded by the U.S. government, such as Alhurra (a plain vanilla TV news channel) and Radio Sawa (a 24-hour pop music station that targets younger listeners). In effect, “Muslim World Outreach” meant not touching Islam at all. Karen Hughes, who was undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs from 2005 to 2007, has said that she “became convinced that our nation should avoid the language of religion in our discussion of terrorist acts.”

Here, if in few other respects, there has been striking continuity from Bush to Obama. From 2009 to 2011, Judith McHale served in the same position that Hughes had. “This effort is not about a ‘war of ideas,’ or winning the hearts and minds of huge numbers of people,” McHale said in 2012. “It’s about using digital platforms to reach that small but dangerous group of people around the world who are considering turning to terrorism and persuading them to instead turn in a different direction.” The whole concept of “violent extremism” implies that the United States is fine with people being extremists, so long as they do not resort to violence. Yet this line of reasoning fails to understand the crucial link between those who preach jihad and those who then carry it out. It also fails to understand that at a pivotal moment, the United States has opted out of a debate about Islam’s future.

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A Former Muslim’s Grave Warning to America

hirsi_ali-492x486American Thinker, By Matthew Vadum, June 11, 2015:

Islam “has begotten a bloodthirsty ideology that is determined to destroy the principles of liberty and humanity and basic decency,” ex-Muslim and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali said June 3 at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Hirsi Ali knows what she’s talking about.  Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, she was raised Muslim.  She spent her childhood and young adulthood in Africa and Saudi Arabia.  She fled as a refugee to the Netherlands in 1992, where she earned a political science degree and was elected to the Dutch House of Representatives.  After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Hirsi Ali renounced Islam.

Last week she accepted an award from the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which prides itself on “strengthening American democratic capitalism and the institutions, principles and values that sustain and nurture it.”

Some in the conservative movement refer to the annual Bradley Prizes event, which was emceed this year by commentator George Will, as the “conservative Oscars.”  The other recipients this year were James W. Ceaser, a political science professor at the University of Virginia; Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College; and retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, chairman of the Institute for the Study of War.

The late Christopher Hitchens called Hirsi Ali, whose former religion forced female circumcision on her, someone “of arresting and hypnotizing beauty,” and “a charismatic figure” who writes “with quite astonishing humor and restraint.”  In 2005, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

She famously said, “Islam is not a religion of peace.  It’s a political theory of conquest that seeks domination by any means it can.”

Her latest book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, was published in March by Harper.  (It was reviewed by Katherine Ernst in City Journal.)

“My argument is that it is foolish to insist, as our leaders habitually do, that the violent acts of radical Islamists can be divorced from the religious ideals that inspire them,” she writes in Heretic.  She continues:

Instead we must acknowledge that they are driven by a political ideology, an ideology embedded in Islam itself, in the holy book of the Qur’an as well as the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad contained in the hadith.

Let me make my point in the simplest possible terms: Islam is not a religion of peace.

For expressing the idea that Islamic violence is rooted not in social, economic, or political conditions – or even in theological error – but rather in the foundational texts of Islam itself, I have been denounced as a bigot and an “Islamophobe.”  I have been silenced, shunned, and shamed.  In effect, I have been deemed to be a heretic, not just by Muslims – for whom I am already an apostate – but by some Western liberals as well, whose multicultural sensibilities are offended by such “insensitive” pronouncements … today, it seems, speaking the truth about Islam is a crime.  “Hate speech” is the modern term for heresy.  And in the present atmosphere, anything that makes Muslims feel uncomfortable is branded as “hate.”

In the book, Hirsi Ali writes that it is her goal “to make many people – not only Muslims but also Western apologists for Islam – uncomfortable” by “challenging centuries of religious orthodoxy with ideas and arguments that I am certain will be denounced as heretical.”

“My argument is for nothing less than a Muslim Reformation,” she writes.  “Without fundamental alterations to some of Islam’s core concepts, I believe, we shall not solve the burning and increasingly global problem of political violence carried out in the name of religion.”

In her remarks at the Kennedy Center, Hirsi Ali summarized what brought her to this point and what needs to be done.  With the exception of the opening pleasantries, here follows a transcript of this brave woman’s speech:

Ladies and gentlemen, the Bradley Foundation is committed to strengthening American democratic capitalism and the institutions, principles, and values that sustain and nurture it.  It supports limited, competent government, a dynamic marketplace for economic, intellectual, and cultural activity and a vigorous defense at home and abroad of American ideas and institutions.

It may same strange to you that I, an immigrant black woman from a Muslim family, should identify so strongly with those goals.  Let me explain to you why I do.  There are three reasons.

First, it’s because my life’s journey which has taken me from Somalia to Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia to Kenya to the Netherlands and finally here, could not have been better designed to make me appreciate American principles and American institutions.

Second, I think I can justly say that I was among the first in my age group of millions of Muslims to admit that our faith, no longer mine, has begotten a bloodthirsty ideology that is determined to destroy the principles of liberty and humanity and basic decency.

Even after 9/11 there are still those who naively believe that it’s a threat only in countries like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  The reality as our general [i.e. Jack Keane] just laid out, is that it is now a global threat.  A recent report by the United Nations Security Council confirmed that more than 100 countries are now supplying recruits to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and the United States is one of them.

This year alone the number of U.S.-based individuals in Islamic terror-related cases has risen to 40.  What concerns me is not jihad, or it’s not only jihad.  It’s also the nonviolent activities from preaching to fundraising that are its essential seedbed.  Often those who engage in these activities are very skillful at representing themselves as moderates.

Let me quote you the words of Abdurahman Alamoudi, a founder of the American Muslim Council, who at one time was an Islamic advisor to President Clinton and a goodwill ambassador to the State Department, as well as being consulted by some eminent Republicans.

“We have a chance,” he declared to a Muslim audience, “to be the moral leadership of America.  It will happen, it will happen praise Allah the Exalted.  I have no doubt in my mind.  It depends on me and you, either we do it now or we do it after a hundred years, but this country will become a Muslim country.”

That is the authentic voice of a plot against America today.  I am glad to report that Alamoudi is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for financial and conspiracy offenses involving the Libyan government and the al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the then-crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

Third, and finally, I have come to see that there is a creative threat close to American institutions, the ones opposed by those within the West who appease the Islamic extremists.

Last September our president insisted the Islamic State is not Islamic.  Later that month he told the U.N. General Assembly that Islam teaches peace.  Phrases like “radical Islam” and “Islamic extremism” are no longer heard in the White House press conferences.

The approved term is “violent extremism.”  Ladies and gentlemen, if we don’t define the problem, if we can’t bring ourselves to define the problem, then how on earth can we ever hope to solve it?  [audience applauds]

The decision not to call violence committed in the name of Islam by its true name is a very strange one.  Imagine if Western leaders during the Cold War had gone around calling Communism an ideology of peace or condemning the Baader-Meinhof Gang for not being true Marxists.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe it is time to drop the euphemisms and verbal contortions.  As I argue in my most recent book, Heretic, a battle for the future of Islam is taking place between reformers and reactionaries, between dissidents and jihadists, with the majority of Muslims caught in the middle unsure which side to take.  The outcome matters, matters to Muslims but it matters to us and to global peace, and the United States needs to start helping the right side to win.

Sometimes people who want to smear me use the sham term, “Islamophobe,” which is designed to imply that those who scrutinize Islamic extremism are bigots.  Well, I may have a phobia, but it’s not directed against Muslims.  After all I used to be one.  My phobia is towards any ideology, whether it is Communism, Fascism, or Islamism, that threatens individual freedom and the institutions that protect those freedoms.

That is why I am so grateful and so proud to accept this honor from you tonight.

Thank you, very, very much.

Hirsi Ali’s personal story bears some resemblance to that of Dutch politician Geert Wilders.  Wilders is a member of the Dutch House of Representatives and leader of his country’s Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV), or in English, the Party for Freedom.

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Free Speech Losing to Campus Thought Police

campus thought police

IPT News
April 17, 2015

Attention parents of college students across America. Apparently, your children may not be safe.

This isn’t a warning about real physical dangers on campus, from sexual assault to random shootings. Rather, some advocacy groups say college students are at risk – maybe you’d better sit down for this – of being exposed to ideas and opinions they may not like.

It’s getting so bad that this week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) New York chapter demanded that Brooklyn College “take measures to ensure the safety of Muslim and Arab-American students” because of an upcoming speech by a harsh critic of Islam.

Pamela Geller, who has posted bus ads comparing Islamic terrorists to savages, is a polarizing figure. But her speech will be just that – a speech at a college campus. Not too long ago, such places encouraged students to “think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.”

Now, they are increasingly being called on to sanitize debate to protect the delicate sensitivities of young adult minds.

Rather than encourage students to either skip the event entirely, or to attend and challenge Geller with questions, CAIR opted to scare students, and by extension, their parents, by darkly hinting the talk would lead to violence.

It is baseless. Yet, this is no isolated incident.

In Time magazine, journalist Asra Nomani described efforts to stop her from speaking last week at Duke University. She planned to “argue for a progressive, feminist interpretation of Islam in the world,” but that apparently was unacceptable to some on the prestigious college campus. The university initially cancelled the speech, she wrote, “after the president of the Duke chapter of the Muslim Students Association sent an email to Muslim students about my ‘views’ and me, alleging that I have a nefarious ‘alliance’ with ‘Islamophobic speakers.'”

We don’t like her. We don’t like people who might agree with her, the MSA, a group created by the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, said. Ban her. Thankfully, Duke reversed its decision and promised it is “strongly committed to free expression and open discussion of controversial issues.” But the message to young Muslims was clear. Her words and ideas about modernizing her faith are a threat. Stay away.

Worse yet, the fuel for the students’ protest came from a Duke professor, Omid Safi, a leader of the University’s Islamic Center, who previously accused Nomani, a Muslim, of “enabling Islamophobia,” a contrived term used by radical Islamist groups, as Nomaninoted in a January Washington Post column, to intimidate people out of discussing or criticizing radical Islam.

Only nine people attended Nomani’s talk, a third of them were her immediate family members.

Writing more in disappointment than anger, Nomani said the incident exposes the need to have “a broader debate over how too many Muslims are responding to critical conversations on Islam with snubs, boycotts, and calls for censorship, exploiting feelings of conflict avoidance and political correctness to stifle debate. As a journalist for 30 years, I believe we must stand up for America’s principles of free speech and have critical conversations, especially if they make people feel uncomfortable.”

That’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

As Nomani wondered whether she would get to speak at Duke University, separate campaigns sought to cancel on-campus screenings of the film “American Sniper” atMichigan and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Michigan initially scrubbed the screening of the film profiling U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. But the university reversed itself in the face of a mounting campus backlash that grew national. The film will be re-scheduled to include a panel discussion.

“The urge to excise any sort of negative energy, thought, or feeling in and out of classrooms on campuses is widely and appallingly documented,” wrote Nick Gillespie, editor of the Libertarian-minded Reason website, before Michigan rescheduled the film. “But this latest petty capitulation on the part of feckless administrators to student demands for the ideological bubble-wrapping of education makes some of us remember when college was supposed to be a place to have conversations not stop them before they begin.”

These are all relatively small events – a speech in a campus hall, a film screening – that students can choose to attend or skip depending on their interests. There is no need for a heckler’s veto deciding for others what is an acceptable topic or who represents an acceptable speaker.

But student groups, often led by campus MSA chapters, take it upon themselves to decide what views others should be allowed to hear. In 2011, 10 people tied to the school’s Muslim Student Union (MSU) were convicted on two misdemeanor charges after orchestrating a plan to shut down a University of California, Irvine speech by then-Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.

Emails obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, and later admitted into evidence during the trial, show the MSU designed a “game plan” to shout down Oren’s speech.

“[O]ur goal should be that he knows that he cant (sic) just go to a campus and say whatever he wants,” one of the emails said. Members were advised to “push the envelope,” in order to “realize our role as the MSU of UCIrvine.”

The same student group at the same campus has repeatedly sponsored hate speech in outdoor centers of campus. Six months after the “Irvine 11″ (one student was not brought to trial) were found guilty, the MSU presented a speech by Imam Abdul Malik Ali. In previous UC, Irvine speeches, Malik Ali said he supported Hamas, Hizballah and jihad and called Barack Obama a “deception” because several of his top advisers were Jews.

In 2012, he derided what he saw as an American imperialism that is driven by racist power brokers and “Zionists.”

http://www.investigativeproject.org/audio-video/embed_iframe.php?av_id=552

It’s a horrendous double standard.

The same groups trying to silence speeches by people they don’t like engage in aggressive, in-your-face demonstrations in the heart of many college campuses, making it impossible for people to choose whether they want to hear the message.

At the University of California, Berkeley, students were confronted by fake “checkpoints” during an annual “Israeli Apartheid Week” of protests. The checkpoints featured students carrying fake guns who hollered “Are you Jewish?” as they passed. One student was assaulted.

But when Berkeley invited atheist comedian/talk show host Bill Maher to speak at its winter commencement in December, more than 6,000 people signed petitions urging the invitation be rescinded. Again, the exposure to ideas they may not like was seen as a threat by some student activists.

“As the Student Regent for the University of California, I cannot stand for any action that makes our students feel unsafe, wrote Sahar Pirzada on the petition page. “Bill Maher should not be honored for his bigotry and sexism by being invited to be a speaker on our campus.”

“In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment,” wrote Sadia Saifuddin. “Bill Maher’s public statements on various religions and cultures are offensive and his dangerous rhetoric has found its way into our campus communities. Too many students are marginalized by his remarks and if the University were to bring this individual as a commencement speaker they would not be supporting these historically marginalized communities.”

Dangerous rhetoric that will make students feel unsafe. Maher did speak. Plenty of people likely disagreed with some of his message, which focused on climate change and defended liberalism. No injuries were reported.

Berkeley deserves credit for sticking with its choice. Brandeis University, named for a Supreme Court justice who defended free speech, withdrew a similar invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Here is what her protesters feared hearing.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume every horrible thing critics say about speakers like Nomani, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maher and others are absolutely right.

They have their own constituencies. They’re not going anywhere. How does it serve young people to shelter them from life’s realities – one of which is that people out there will not always, or even often, agree with you – at the very place that is supposed to prepare them for life? The better lesson would be one that protects and defends a founding American principle – the right and value of free speech.

Challenging Islam’s Warrant to Kill

image67Frontpage, March 25, 2015 by Mark Durie:

Last week the Islamic State’s ‘Hacking Division’ released the names and addresses of one hundred US military personnel.  It urged the ‘brothers residing in America’ – i.e. American Muslims – to ‘deal with’ them, which is to say, it wants them killed.

There is much talk these days of radicalization and deradicalization. At the heart of both processes are religious ideas: theological dogmas.  What are some of the key theological principles which might cause a Muslim to take this call seriously? What is the Islamic reasoning given by the IS Hacking Division in support of its call to kill non-Muslims?

The Hacking Division quote two verses of the Qur’an:

  • Sura 9:123 ‘fight disbelievers who are near to you’ and
  • Sura 9:14 ‘Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them, and satisfy [actually yashfi ‘heal’] the breasts of a believing people’.

The meaning of these two verses hangs upon the word qātilū, translated here as ‘fight’. The verbal root q-t-l from which qātilū is formed means ‘kill’, so the the Arabic actually means ‘fight to kill’ (see discussion here). These Qur’anic verses truly are commands to kill non-Muslims.

The second quoted verse, from Sura 9:14, puts forward a view concerning what Muslims should do about emotional pain and anguish they may experience because of unbelievers.  ‘Allah’, the verse says, ‘will heal the breasts’ of Muslims, – and then the sentence continues into the next verse – ‘and remove the rage of their hearts’.

The key concept here is that if Muslims have strong feelings, including anger, against non-Muslims, their emotional distress will subside and be ‘healed’ as they kill, humiliate and triumph over non-believers. Strange therapy indeed for the human soul!  According to the Qur’an, in order to secure inner  ‘peace’, calm within the Muslim soul can be secured by shedding non-Muslim blood.

These are stock-standard verses used to urge Muslims to go for jihad against disbelievers. However what most caught my eye in the Hacking Division’s call to arms against infidels in America was but a reference to Muhammad’s teachings. The Hacking Division refers to hadith 4661 in a published English version of the Sahih Muslim (translated by Abdul Hamid Sidiqqi).

The Sahih Muslim is one of the most revered and authoritative sources for the teaching and example of Muhammad, whose life is considered exemplary and compulsory for Muslims to emulate.  This particular hadith can be found on page 1263 of Volume 3 of the English edition:

Chapter 789 (DCCLXXXIX)

About a man who killed a disbeliever and embraced Islam.
(4661) It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: A disbeliever and a believer who killed him will never be gathered together in Hell. [See here.]

This is a most significant statement. It is saying that if a Muslim kills a non-Muslim, they cannot both end up in hell.  The alternative to hell is paradise, so in other words, killing a non-Muslim – who is destined for hell due to their unbelief – can provide a sure ticket to paradise for a Muslim.

This tradition is the authority for a view widely put about by jihadis, that if a Muslim personally gets to kill a disbeliever, the Muslim will gain paradise.  Put together with with the famous belief that for a Muslim to be ‘martyred’ in jihad opens the gates of paradise (see Sura 3:169-170; 9:111; and 22:58), fighting to kill non-Muslims can be a ticket to glory, win or lose. Either one kills and gains a get-out-of-hell free card, or one is killed and gains a get-into-paradise-free card. This is a win-win proposition for the jihadi.

Persuading Muslims to take the words of Muhammad seriously is the core strategy of radicalization.  This tactic works as well as it does because it appeals to a plain reading of Islam’s holy texts.

To be deradicalized, a Muslim needs to repudiate the theological authority of the teachings of Muhammad and the Qur’an. This is a hard call for pious Muslims. Ayan Hirsi Ali was surely correct in her recent essay calling for reform of Islam when she wrote that

‘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.’

Hirsi Ali also declared:

‘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.’

Hirsi Ali was right: the West needs to engage with and repudiate the Islamic dogmas that killing or being killed in murderous attacks against non-Mulims is some kind of golden key which unlocks the gates of paradise. Until these beliefs and the canonical teachings they rely on are acknowledged and repudiated, the lives of non-Muslims will continue to be discarded as the ‘ticket to paradise’ of Muslim belligerents.

Hadiths such as 4661 from Sahih Muslim, and the Qur’anic verses cited here are a genuine part of the Islamic canon. Such verses remain unrenounced and unrepudiated by a great many Muslims and Islamic institutions today.

As long as such texts are not repudiated, the theological winds of Islam will all too easily continue to sweep pious Muslim hearts and minds towards radicalization, a process which exalts the idea that the lives of infidels are disposable.

Islam’s warrant to kill infidels is an idea which deserves to be exposed, challenged, thoroughly debated, and rejected.

*

Don’t miss the Glazov Gang’s 2-part series with Dr. Mark Durie on Jihadist Slavery and Rape — and Islam-Denial and Our Fear of Islam:

Part I:

Part II:

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

Subscribe to Frontpage’s TV show, The Glazov Gang, on YouTube and LIKE it on Facebook.

Why Islam Needs a Reformation

“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.”

Islamic 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

Islamic 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.

Muslim 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

Muslim 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.

This essay is adapted from Ms. Hirsi Ali’s new book, “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now,” to be published Tuesday by HarperCollins (which, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp). Her previous books include “Infidel” and “Nomad: From Islam to America, A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations.”

Activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali Denounces Anti-Semitism on Campuses as New Film Debuts

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-ap

Breitbart, by DR. SUSAN BERRY, March 14, 2015:

Somali-born free speech and women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali gave the keynote address at a sold-out event in Boston Wednesday that centered on rising anti-Semitism on college campuses in North America.

Hirsi Ali’s address, and a panel featuring a rabbi and three student activists, followed the premiere of a new Jerusalem U film titled Crossing the Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus, which can be viewed in its entirety online. The film demonstrates how anti-Israel activities on college and university campuses are being organized to alienate and intimidate those who support Israel, and how reasonable criticism of Israel “crosses the line” into anti-Semitism.

As a press release about the Boston event notes, Hirsi Ali said the film demonstrates how students are being “misled.” Denouncing “virulent anti-Semitism” on college campuses, she asserted, “The least we can do is boycott, divest, and sanction campuses that compromise academic freedom.”

Excerpts of Hirsi Ali’s address are as follows:

It is appalling that only seventy years from the Holocaust, crowds in Europe chant, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” It is even more appalling that 10,000 soldiers in Paris are needed to protect Jewish sites. That is the continent that promised never again. The men and women who were in the concentration camps, who are tattooed, some are still here. And it is happening again.

Watching Crossing the Line 2: the New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus was like having a bucket of ice water being poured over my head. I saw the film last week. And I watched it again last night. And I couldn’t sleep. The more we pretend that this is happening somewhere far away, the more hopeless and helpless we feel. But this is not happening far away. This is happening on American campuses, British campuses, Canadian campuses. The filmmakers who made this film made it because it is important that we listen to this message while it is at a smaller stage.

I have a different acronym for BDS. They call themselves Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. I call them Bully, Deceive, and Sabotage. Bully, Deceive, and Sabotage the only society that is free in the Middle East. BDS. On campus, if you care about issues like justice and injustice, we really need to show it. You need to do it. Where is the BDS movement against the Islamic State? Where on campuses is the BDS movement against Saudi Arabia? The Iranian regime, who for decades have promised to wipe Israel off the map, who are developing a bomb. And there’s no BDS movement against them on campus. Why? Last year in Nigeria, 200 girls were kidnapped. They were sold into slavery. There was no BDS movement against Boko Haram.

“Anti-Israel activities on campus cause students today to feel embarrassed to be pro-Israel, or could even lead them to hold negative opinions about Israel” said Amy Holtz, president of Jerusalem U, in a statement in the press release. “Raising awareness of this growing problem is crucial. We made this film in order to give students the knowledge to differentiate between education and intimidation, debate and hate. They must be able to identify when it is ‘Crossing the Line.’”

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Published on Sep 30, 2014 by Hamas On Campus

The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is Hamas on Campus. An organization dedicated to wiping Israel off the map.

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Also see:

Imam Who Called for Death of Ayaan Hirsi Ali Is Prison Chaplain

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-IPClarion Project, March 5, 2015:

An Egyptian born Imam who has publically supported the death penalty for those who choose to leave Islam has since been hired by the Department of Justice to teach Islam in prisons.

Fouad al-Bayly, the Imam of the Islamic Center of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, said in 2007 that Ayan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian women’s rights activist and fierce critic of Islam, deserves to die for her public attacks on the faith. She regards Islam as damaging to women, in part due to her own experience suffering female genital mutilation as a child.

Ali was scheduled to speak at the nearby University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown in 2007, and al-Bayly was involved in protesting against her visit. He told local newspapers:  “If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death.”

This is a mainstream view among Islamists. Hardline cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Ali has every reason to take death threats seriously. She has received multiple death threats in the past. Dutch Film Director Theo Van Gogh, who made the film Submission, scripted by ali, which criticized Islam, was killed in 2004. A note pinned to his chest with a knife said that Ali was next.

Yet despite his extremist past, government records show that as of 2014 Fouad al-Bayly has been hired to teach Islam in prisons to the inmates.

Records state that he received two contracts, one for $10,500 for February of last year and another one for $2,400 dated to December. He was hired to provide “religious services, leadership and guidance.” The second contract was to provide “Muslim classes for inmates.”

This is not the first time Imams and Mosques with extremist connections have been allowed access to prisoners despite their records. Clarion Project previously reported that Dar al-Hijrah, an extremist mosque attended by three of the 9/11 hijackers, has engaged in prison outreach in Washington D.C. for 10 years.

In another example, the head of Islamic Affairs for the New York State Prison’s Department of Ministerial Services was later caught justifying the 9/11 attacks and terrorism to prison inmates.

Watch the clip from The Third Jihad on Prison Radicalization:

Betting National Security on a Theory

IPT News
February 24, 2015

1137The debate over whether it’s a good idea to use phrases like “Islamic extremism” in fighting global terrorism took center stage last week as the White House hosted a summit to discuss what it generically calls “violent extremism.”

In a speech last Thursday at the summit, President Obama explained his rationale for eschewing references to terrorist groups’ Islamist ideology.

“Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy,” he said. “They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the ‘Islamic State.’ And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people. We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists.”

So accurately describing their ideology, or calling the terrorists “jihadists” grants them undo legitimacy as true representatives of the faith, the argument goes. The current policy aims to deny them that mantle.

That’s a theory. But there’s a key question no one seems to be asking: Does it work?

This is a continuation of a policy instituted during President George W. Bush’s second term, meaning it has been in place for more than seven years. If it is indeed the right, best policy, advocates should be able to point to tangible evidence to show its value.

Arguably, the Islamist ideology has never been more popular, given the flood of foreign fighters making their way to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State, or Boko Haram’s endless reign of terror in Nigeria. Hamas still enjoys strong support despite following policies which bring devastation to the people of Gaza.

And there is no mistaking the religious motivation driving these groups. Hamas is an acronym for the “Islamic Resistance Movement.” Boko Haram translates roughly to “Western education is sinful.” And the Islamic State has a whiff of religious affinity.

The Atlantic this month devoted 10,000 words to explaining the core Quranic ideology, with an emphasis on an apocalyptic prophecy, which drives the Islamic State’s brutality. It “follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior,” Graeme Wood explains.

That’s more challenging when that belief system is deliberately kept out of deliberations.

Jeffrey Bale, an associate professor who studies political and religious extremism at the Monterey Institute of International Studies’ Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies Program, called the continued emphasis on avoiding references to Islamic doctrine by Western leaders and pundits “absurd.”

The policy has “not had any discernably positive impact on dealing with the threats that such groups pose,” he said in an email to the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “On the contrary. The simple fact is that it is the Islamists, not Muslim moderates, who are winning the struggle for ideological hegemony throughout much of the Muslim world, and that Obama’s efforts to positively ‘re-set’ relations with the Islamic world have completely failed … In short, there is no evidence that this constant pandering to Islamist activists, these embarrassing efforts to whitewash Islamic history and doctrines, and the foolish insistence that jihadist groups have ‘nothing to do with Islam’ have had any beneficial effects. They have mainly served to confuse Western citizens about the extent and nature of the Islamist threat.”

Maajid Nawaz, a former radical who now tries to combat the narrative which fuels Islamist terrorism, argues the avoidance policy could be making things worse for everyone, including Muslims. In recent social media and television appearances, Nawaz, a co-founder of the London-based Quilliam Institute, calls it the “Voldemort Effect.”

Islam is a religion, he writes. Islamism is the attempt to make the laws of the religion supreme over a society. That’s the ideology that must be defeated, but that “cannot happen if you refuse to recognise it exists,” he wrote in a social media post addressed to Obama that he signed “a constantly betrayed liberal Muslim.”

If we dare not say its name, in other words, it can become more frightening to its foes and more alluring to prospective recruits.

In a recent appearance on Fox News, Nawaz expressed concern that this self-censorship actually makes life more difficult for the overwhelming majority of Muslims who reject terrorist brutality displayed by the Islamic State, Boko Haram, al-Qaida and others.

Non-Muslims in the West “they’re just petrified,” he said, “and that can lead to even more anti-Muslim hate crime. Because if they are unable to pinpoint specifically that we’re dealing with the Islamist ideology, in their ignorance they blame all Muslims. And of course then all Muslims face a backlash. So I think it’s better if we wish to protect mainstream Muslims from anti-Muslim hate crime to name the very specific ideology that we’re talking about, which is Islamism, and distinguish that from Islam the faith.

Nawaz is offering a theory, just like the people who advocate the policy embraced by the Obama administration. There’s a key distinction, however. As he describes in his autobiography, Nawaz helped recruit followers to Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group which dreams of a global caliphate and has been called a “conveyor belt” for jihadist terror. He knows which messages worked and which did not.

Some American Islamists showed last week that the Obama message is not working. They have criticized the White House summit as hostile toward Muslims despite the verbal contortions invoked to avoid that very reaction.

If we’re going to focus on extremist violence, they argue, the bigger threat to America is from right-wing, anti-government movements. It turns out the Department of Homeland Security is concerned about violence from “sovereign citizen” movements who believe they are exempt from state and federal laws.

But it would be wrong to talk about that, Linda Sarsour and Deepa Iyak wrote Feb. 17 in The Guardian.

“One thing is clear: the federal government’s one-note approach to countering violent extremism fosters distrust and hostility towards Muslim communities while disregarding threats to Americans’ safety from racist hate groups in the country.”

There is a key distinction, however. For the most part, sovereign citizen attacks are smaller scale, often erupting in what should be routine encounters with law enforcement officers. CNN cites a 2012 example involving a Louisiana traffic stop that led to a shootout between police and a father and his son.

What Islamist terrorists want, what they urge followers to carry out, are mass casualty attacks that can target specific groups deemed to have offended Islam or simply any place where many people gather.

The United States has rigidly followed a policy, going at times to uncomfortable lengths, to avoid putting a religious label on terrorism clearly driven by a rabid adherence to centuries-old Islamic theology. The uninterrupted flow of new recruits to the Islamic State indicates that the policy has not had the desired effect.

“American policymakers do not yet understand Islamism or what persuades young Muslims to join Jihad: sincere religious devotion based on the core texts of Islam, in particular early Islam’s politicized and aggressive period in Medina (compared to Islam’s spiritual and ascetic period in Mecca),” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim, writesin Time magazine.

“How does one tackle misguided religious devotion of young Muslims? The answer lies in reforming Islam profoundly—not radical Islam, but mainstream Islam; its willingness to merge Mosque and State, religion, and politics; and its insistence that its elaborate system of Shariah law supersedes civil laws created by human legislators.”

For the West, the sanitized language and tap-dancing around the issue makes it impossible to fully understand the enemy’s motivation, writes Robert R. Reilly, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.

“You cannot go into a war of ideas without understanding the ideas you are at war with. Yet, throughout the two speeches, [Obama] never mentions the substance of the enemy’s ideas once,” Reilly writes. “…This is like saying, in World War II, that we were fighting the Nazi ideology, but never mentioning the thoughts of Friedrich Nietzsche, Alfred Rosenberg or Adolph Hitler. Or, during the Cold War, saying we are fighting the ideology of Communism, but never mentioning the ideas of Karl Marx, Lenin, or Stalin.”

Rather than continuing to do the same thing and hope for a better outcome, perhaps it is time to listen to the Muslim reformers asking for a more honest, tough love approach. Terrorists are committing acts of barbarism daily in the name of Islam. That doesn’t mean all, or even most, Muslim see the same commands in their faith.

It might delegitimize terrorists more to emphasize how most of their victims are fellow Muslims, and to clearly draw the lines between the terrorists and the hundreds of millions of Muslims who reject their savagery.

It’s a theory, anyhow.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Obama Must Confront the Threat of Radical Islam

An ISIS member waves an ISIS flag in Raqqa, Syria on June 29, 2014.

An ISIS member waves an ISIS flag in Raqqa, Syria on June 29, 2014.

ISIS is recruiting young Muslims from around the globe to Jihad, and the White House apparently doesn’t understand why

Time, By Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Feb. 20, 2015:

How can the Obama Administration miss the obvious? Part of the answer lies in the groups “partnering” with, or advising, the White House on these issues. Groups such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council or the Islamic Society of North America insist that there should be no more focus at the Summit on radical Islam than on any other violent movements, even as radical Islamic movements continue to expand their influence in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Nigeria, and elsewhere.

Amplifying a poor choice of Muslim outreach partners, however, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have argued in recent days that economic grievances, a lack of opportunities, and countries with “bad governance” are to blame for the success of groups such as ISIS in recruiting Muslims to their cause. Yet, if this were true, why do so many young Muslims who live in societies with excellent governance—Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, the United States—either join ISIS or engage in Jihadist violence in their own countries? Why do young Muslims with promising professional futures embark on the path of Jihad?

Neither the Summit partners nor the U.S. Administration can effectively answer these questions.

Both Denmark and the Netherlands have “good governance.” Denmark and the Netherlands not only offer free health insurance but also free housing to Muslim refugees, along with high-quality education for their children. This should produce an outpouring of gratitude by young Muslims towards the host society, and no Jihadists.

Yet there are dozens of Jihadists hailing from the Netherlands and a recent attack in Copenhagen was committed by a man who was raised in Denmark and had effectively enjoyed years of Danish hospitality.

The question is not limited to Europe. Minnesota, for instance, is hardly a state with “bad governance.” Minnesota offers ample opportunity for immigrants willing to work hard. Yet more than a dozen young men from the Twin Cities area have joined the Jihadist movement in recent years.

How can Barack Obama or John Kerry explain this? Based on President Obama’s public statements and John Kerry’s analysis in The Wall Street Journal, they cannot.

It is worth remembering Aafia Siddiqui, the M.I.T.-educated neuroscientist who could have enjoyed a prestigious and lucrative career in the bio-tech industry but instead chose to embrace radical Islam, eventually becoming known as “Lady Al-Qaida.”

Or think of the three Khan siblings who recently sought to leave Chicago in order to go live in Syria under the rule of ISIS. The Khan sister, intelligent and studious, had planned to become a physician. The siblings were intercepted before they could fly out of the country, and prosecutors argue they wanted to join armed Jihad. Defense attorneys have a different explanation, stating the siblings desperately wanted to live under a society ruled by Shariah law—under the rule of Allah’s laws, without necessarily wanting to commit acts of violence.

It is this motivation—the sincere desire to live under Islamic religious laws, and the concomitant willingness to use violence to defend the land of Islam and expand it—that has led thousands of Western Muslims, many of them young and intelligent—and not the oft-described “losers”—to leave a comfortable professional and economic future in the West in order to join ISIS under gritty circumstances.

In its general strategy, the U.S. Administration confounds two things. It is true that in “failed states” criminal networks, cartels, and terrorist groups can operate with impunity. Strengthening central governments will reduce safe havens for terror networks. Secretary Kerry’s argument in The Wall Street Journal is different, however, namely: If we improve governance in countries with “bad governance,” then fewer young people will become “violent extremists.” That’s a different argument and not a plausible one. In fact, it’s a really unpersuasive argument. Muslims leave bright, promising futures to join ISIS out of a sense of sincere religious devotion, the wish to live under the laws of Allah instead of the laws of men.

In reading Kerry’s piece, I am glad that in the late 1940s the U.S. had people such as George Kennan employed in its service to see the Communist threat clearly and describe it clearly. But where is today’s Kennan in this administration? Who in the U.S. government is willing to describe the threat of radical Islam without fear of causing offense to several aggressive Islamic lobby groups?

American policymakers do not yet understand Islamism or what persuades young Muslims to join Jihad: sincere religious devotion based on the core texts of Islam, in particular early Islam’s politicized and aggressive period in Medina (compared to Islam’s spiritual and ascetic period in Mecca).

How does one tackle misguided religious devotion of young Muslims? The answer lies in reforming Islam profoundly—not radical Islam, but mainstream Islam; its willingness to merge Mosque and State, religion, and politics; and its insistence that its elaborate system of Shariah law supersedes civil laws created by human legislators. In such a reform project lies the hope for countering Islamism. No traditional Islamic lobbying group committed to defending the reputation of Islam will recommend such a policy to the U.S. government. Yet until American policymakers grapple with the need for such reform, the real problem within Islam will remain unresolved.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the founder of the AHA Foundation and the author of Infidel, Nomad, and the forthcoming Heretic: The Case for a Muslim Reformation, to be published next spring.

How to Answer the Paris Terror Attack

After the horrific massacre Wednesday at the French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, perhaps the West will finally put away its legion of useless tropes trying to deny the relationship between violence and radical Islam.

This was not an attack by a mentally deranged, lone-wolf gunman. This was not an “un-Islamic” attack by a bunch of thugs—the perpetrators could be heard shouting that they were avenging the Prophet Muhammad. Nor was it spontaneous. It was planned to inflict maximum damage, during a staff meeting, with automatic weapons and a getaway plan. It was designed to sow terror, and in that it has worked.

The West is duly terrified. But it should not be surprised.

If there is a lesson to be drawn from such a grisly episode, it is that what we believe about Islam truly doesn’t matter. This type of violence, jihad, is what they, the Islamists, believe.

There are numerous calls to violent jihad in the Quran. But the Quran is hardly alone. In too much of Islam, jihad is a thoroughly modern concept. The 20th-century jihad “bible,” and an animating work for many Islamist groups today, is “The Quranic Concept of War,” a book written in the mid-1970s by Pakistani Gen. S.K. Malik. He argues that because God, Allah, himself authored every word of the Quran, the rules of war contained in the Quran are of a higher caliber than the rules developed by mere mortals.

In Malik’s analysis of Quranic strategy, the human soul—and not any physical battlefield—is the center of conflict. The key to victory, taught by Allah through the military campaigns of the Prophet Muhammad, is to strike at the soul of your enemy. And the best way to strike at your enemy’s soul is through terror. Terror, Malik writes, is “the point where the means and the end meet.” Terror, he adds, “is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose.”

Those responsible for the slaughter in Paris, just like the man who killed the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004, are seeking to impose terror. And every time we give in to their vision of justified religious violence, we are giving them exactly what they want.

In Islam, it is a grave sin to visually depict or in any way slander the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are free to believe this, but why should such a prohibition be forced on nonbelievers? In the U.S., Mormons didn’t seek to impose the death penalty on those who wrote and produced “The Book of Mormon,” a satirical Broadway sendup of their faith. Islam, with 1,400 years of history and some 1.6 billion adherents, should be able to withstand a few cartoons by a French satirical magazine. But of course deadly responses to cartoons depicting Muhammad are nothing new in the age of jihad.

Moreover, despite what the Quran may teach, not all sins can be considered equal. The West must insist that Muslims, particularly members of the Muslim diaspora, answer this question: What is more offensive to a believer—the murder, torture, enslavement and acts of war and terrorism being committed today in the name of Muhammad, or the production of drawings and films and books designed to mock the extremists and their vision of what Muhammad represents?

To answer the late Gen. Malik, our soul in the West lies in our belief in freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. The freedom to express our concerns, the freedom to worship who we want, or not to worship at all—such freedoms are the soul of our civilization. And that is precisely where the Islamists have attacked us. Again.

How we respond to this attack is of great consequence. If we take the position that we are dealing with a handful of murderous thugs with no connection to what they so vocally claim, then we are not answering them. We have to acknowledge that today’s Islamists are driven by a political ideology, an ideology embedded in the foundational texts of Islam. We can no longer pretend that it is possible to divorce actions from the ideals that inspire them.

This would be a departure for the West, which too often has responded to jihadist violence with appeasement. We appease the Muslim heads of government who lobby us to censor our press, our universities, our history books, our school curricula. They appeal and we oblige. We appease leaders of Muslim organizations in our societies. They ask us not to link acts of violence to the religion of Islam because they tell us that theirs is a religion of peace, and we oblige.

What do we get in return? Kalashnikovs in the heart of Paris. The more we oblige, the more we self-censor, the more we appease, the bolder the enemy gets.

There can only be one answer to this hideous act of jihad against the staff of Charlie Hebdo. It is the obligation of the Western media and Western leaders, religious and lay, to protect the most basic rights of freedom of expression, whether in satire on any other form. The West must not appease, it must not be silenced. We must send a united message to the terrorists: Your violence cannot destroy our soul.

Ms. Hirsi Ali, a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, is the author of “Infidel” (2007). Her latest book, “Heretic: The Case for a Muslim Reformation,” will be published in April by HarperCollins.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali fights radical Islam’s real war on women

In early April of this year, Brandeis University, under pressure from student activists and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, reversed its decision to give an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a global advocate for women’s rights. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)

In early April of this year, Brandeis University, under pressure from student activists and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, reversed its decision to give an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a global advocate for women’s rights. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)

By Ashe Schow:In early April of this year, Brandeis University, under pressure from student activists and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, reversed its decision to give an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a global advocate for women’s rights.

The decision was triggered by Hirsi Ali’s outspoken criticisms of Islam. The Somali-born activist has sounded alarms about the prevalence of extremism in Muslim countries and the misogyny that pervades even mainstream Islam.

During the Brandeis controversy, a CAIR spokesman called her “one of the worst of the worst of the Islam-haters in America.”

But Hirsi Ali’s warnings about Islamic extremism were quickly supported by world events, as just a week after Brandeis rescinded her honorary degree, the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in the first of many such abductions throughout the summer. A few months after the kidnappings began, news spread that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, another terrorist group, was selling Yazidi women into sexual slavery.

Related: Seven horrific examples of the real “war on women”

In recent years, as part of its efforts to leverage its historical electoral advantage with female voters, Democrats in the United States have promoted the idea that Republicans have been waging a “war on women.” At various times, the term has been associated with politicians who oppose late-term abortions; conservatives who defend the right of religious business owners to decline to provide contraception coverage to employees; and those who question the assumptions behind the statistic that women on average earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. During the 2014 midterm election season, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz even claimed Tea Party Republicans were “grabbing [women] by the hair and pulling us back.”

Many on the Right have responded to this campaign either by mocking the idea that a war on women exists or by challenging many of the claims liberals make to perpetuate the narrative — pointing out, for example, that nearly all of the gender wage gap can be explained by the career choices women make. But the truth is that there is a war on women. It just isn’t occurring where American liberals claim it is, but rather in countries where women are forbidden to leave their homes without a male escort; seen as nothing more than chattel to be sold or abused; killed if they disobey their family’s wishes; mutilated to prevent them from having sex; and attacked with acid when they try to escape.

If American liberals were as concerned about women’s rights as they claim to be, they would have to shift their focus to other countries, but that would mean giving up a cherished narrative about conservatives here at home and acknowledging the threat radical Islam poses to women worldwide.

From Earlier: Ayaan Hirsi Ali slams modern American feminism’s “trivial BS”

The real horrors facing women in the world aren’t discussed in America, where those who try to point out what is going on in other countries or criticize the trivial nature of feminist obsessions are sidelined from the public debate.

But recent events have cast a glaring light on the brutal treatment of women by those claiming to act in the name of Islam, posing a challenge to the American Left by creating a conflict between the liberal desire for women’s equality and a multicultural reluctance to criticize other cultures. This philosophical tension gained national attention in October, when HBO’s liberal host Bill Maher noted the connection between Islamic ideology and violence, igniting a bitter argument with celebrity guest Ben Affleck.

Bundled up and fearful of shaking hands because of a cough, Hirsi Ali sat down with theWashington Examiner in November before being presented an award by the Independent Women’s Forum at its Women of Valor Dinner in Washington. She noted that where extremist ideology spreads, death and mayhem flourish.

“That consequence you see today in parts of Iraq and Syria,” Hirsi Ali said. “You see it in what Boko Haram is doing. You’ve seen it with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Everywhere where that idea is implemented it has a sudden pattern.”

Critics have attacked Hirsi Ali as Islamophobic and have argued that the portrait she paints is not representative of Islam at large. But her disagreements with Islam are rooted in her own East African upbringing.

Hirsi Ali was subjected to female genital mutilation at the age of 5 in her home country, Somalia, while her father, who opposed the traditional practice, was in prison. Her father escaped and moved the family to Saudi Arabia, then to Ethiopia and finally to Kenya when Hirsi Ali was 11 years old.

MORE: The real “war on women”: A victim speaks

She grew up as a Muslim woman, reading and accepting the Quran and its teachings. But when her family prepared to force her into an arranged marriage, she fled to the Netherlands. She eventually became a translator, speaking on behalf of Somali women who, like her, were seeking asylum.

Hirsi Ali discovered many women continued to suffer under Islam even in the secular, liberal Netherlands. She decided to enter politics to bring attention to the plight of Muslim women and girls, and in 2003 she was elected to the Dutch parliament.

Her charisma and criticism of Islam as a member of parliament gained the attention of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. She wrote and narrated his film “Submission” about oppressed women in Holland, a film that outraged Dutch Muslims. On Nov. 2, 2004, an Islamist shot and stabbed van Gogh to death in Amsterdam as he rode his bicycle to work. A letter was pinned to van Gogh’s dead body with a knife, a letter that included a death threat against Hirsi Ali.

She moved to the United States in 2006 following her resignation from parliament amid accusations that she lied on her asylum application. But even in America, a security detail accompanies her wherever she goes.

Hirsi Ali has a reputation as a fearless critic of Islam, but she spoke quietly, almost timidly, even though her security detail was on alert just outside the secluded room where our interview took place.

Liberals, she said, protect Islamic extremists partly because the Left has no idea what really goes on in Muslim countries.

“They feel all religions are the same, and they’re not,” she observed. “I think if I adopt the position in good faith to multiculturalists and leftists, I would say [they take the position they do] because they see them [Muslims] as victims. They see them as victims of the white man and so they think: ‘Let’s protect them from the white man. Let’s protect them from capitalism.’… That is misguided at best and malicious at worst.”

One need only remember the tragic shooting at Fort Hood in 2009 to see such indifference to extremism in action. U.S. Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and wounded many more after becoming radicalized and corresponding with Yemeni-American terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki. Despite evidence that Hasan’s rampage was religiously motivated — he shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”) before opening fire — the Obama administration classified the attack as “workplace violence.”

The Left’s kid-glove treatment of even radical Islam exposes the logical flaw at the heart of multiculturalism. How does one tolerate the murderous intolerance of another culture? Is someone really a principled supporter of diversity, of women’s rights, of gay rights, if he refuses to resist or even acknowledge the mortal threat that is posed to those causes by a different culture?

Read more at Washington Examiner

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The Buckley Program Stands Up for Free Speech

6a00d83451c36069e20168eb9dbef6970cBy Bruce Thornton:

The William F. Buckley Program at Yale University lately showed bravery unusual for an academic institution. It has refused to be bullied by the Muslim Students Association and its demand that the Buckley Program rescind an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak on campus September 15. Hirsi Ali is the vocal Somalian critic of Islamic doctrine whose life has been endangered for condemning the theologically sanctioned oppression of women in Islamic culture. Unlike Brandeis University, which recently rescinded an honorary degree to be given to Hirsi Ali after complaints from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Buckley Program rejected both the MSA’s initial demand, and a follow up one that Hirsi Ali share the stage with one of her critics.

The Buckley Program is a rare instance of an academic organization staying true to the ideals of free speech, academic freedom, and the “free play of the mind on all subjects,” as Matthew Arnold defined liberal education. Most of our best universities have sacrificed these ideals on the altar of political correctness and identity politics. Anything that displeases or discomforts campus special interest groups––mainly those predicated on being the alleged victims of American oppression–– must be proscribed as “slurs” or “hateful,” even if what’s said is factually true. No matter that these groups are ideologically driven and use their power to silence critics and limit speech to their own self-serving and duplicitous views, the modus operandi of every illiberal totalitarian regime in history. The spineless university caves in to their demands, incoherently camouflaging their craven betrayal of the First Amendment and academic freedom as “tolerance” and “respect for diversity.”

In the case of Islam, however, this betrayal is particularly dangerous. For we are confronting across the world a jihadist movement that grounds its violence in traditional Islamic theology, jurisprudence, and history. Ignoring those motives and their sanction by Islamic doctrine compromises our strategy and tactics in defeating the jihadists, for we cripple ourselves in the war of ideas. Worse yet, Islamic triumphalism and chauvinism–– embodied in the Koranic verse that calls Muslims “the best of nations raised up for the benefit of men” because they “enjoin the right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah”–– is confirmed and strengthened by the way our elite institutions like universities and the federal government quickly capitulate to special interest groups who demand that we endorse only their sanitized and often false picture of Islam. Such surrender confirms the jihadist estimation of the West as the “weak horse,” as bin Laden said, a civilization with “foundations of straw” whose wealth and military power are undermined by a collective failure of nerve and loss of morale.

This process of exploiting the moral degeneration of the West has been going on now for 25 years. It begins, as does the rise of modern jihadism, with the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian Islamic revolution. The key event took place in February 1989, when Khomeini issued a fatwa, based on Koran 9.61, against Indian novelist Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses, which was deemed “against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran,” as Khomeini said. Across the world enraged Muslims rioted and bombed bookstores, leaving over 20 people dead. More significant in the long run was the despicable reaction of many in the West to this outrage against freedom of speech and the rule of law, perpetrated by the most important and revered political and religious leader of a major Islamic nation.

Abandoning their principles, bookstores refused to stock the novel, and publishers delayed or canceled editions. Muslims in Western countries publicly burned copies of Rushdie’s novel and encouraged his murder with impunity. Eminent British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper suggested Rushdie deserved such treatment. Thirteen British Muslim barristers filed a formal complaint against the author. In their initial reactions, Western government officials were hesitant and timorous. The U.S. embassy in Pakistan eagerly assured Muslims that “the U.S. government in no way supports or associates itself with any activity that is in any sense offensive or insulting to Islam.”

Khomeini’s fatwa and the subsequent violent reaction created what Daniel Pipes calls the “Rushdie rules,” a speech code that privileges Islam over revered Western traditions of free speech that still are operative in the case of all other religions. Muslims now will determine what counts as an “insult” or a “slur,” and their displeasure, threats, and violence will police those definitions and punish offenders. Even reporting simple facts of history or Islamic doctrine can be deemed an offense and bring down retribution on violators. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for example, earned the wrath of Muslims in part for her contribution to Theo van Gogh’s film Submission, which projected Koranic verses regarding women on the bodies of abused women. Van Gogh, of course, was brutally murdered in the streets of Amsterdam. And this is the most important dimension of the “Rushdie rules”: violence will follow any violation of whatever some Muslims deem to be “insulting” to Islam, even facts. In effect, Western law has been trumped by the shari’a ban on blaspheming Islam, a crime punishable by death.

Read more at Frontpage

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali Urges Yale MSA To Refocus Energies

Published on Sep 17, 2014 by Washington Free Beacon

Ayaan Hirsi Ali questions why America, the West can unite against apartheid but not sharia

kelly fileBreitbart,  By Jeff Poor:

On Friday’s “The Kelly File” on the Fox News Channel, Harvard Kennedy School fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali made an appearance to discuss the plight of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for her Christianity that recently gave birth in a Sudanese prison.

Hirsi Ali, an outspoken critic and victim of Islam for female genital mutilation, urged those in the West, including states, to unite against tenets of Sharia Law, which call for the punishment she and Ibrahim faced, as they did against South Africa’s apartheid in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It’s not a dichotomy — it’s not like black and white between having boots on the ground versus doing nothing,” Hirsi Ali said. “Remember apartheid — we stopped it through writing books, writing, through songs, through trade boycotts, through diplomacy. We were united as a — just not America but the West and all moral countries to say it is unacceptable to divide humanity to blacks and whites and what are we seeing with Sharia? We’re seeing it in Brunei. We’re seeing it in Sudan. We know it in our lives, Saudi Arabia and others. On grounds of, you know … we are not taking the positions, the moral positions that we need to and we’re not fighting that moral positions with the tools we have.”

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