h/t Vlad Tepes
h/t Vlad Tepes
Ezra Levant reports for TheRebel.media:
Dr. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum says that there’s a coherent strategy underpinning the apparent chaos we’re witnessing around the world, especially in the Middle East.
Pipes explains that the situation makes sense if viewed through the lens of an “Obama doctrine”: “Snarl at your friends, smile at your enemies.”
Part of it is incompetence on the President’s part, says Pipes, but much of what’s happening is the direct result of Obama’s anti-American ideology — and even his personal psychology.
This thought-provoking, in-depth interview covers a lot of ground: the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia and much more.
James Jeffrey, Barack Obama’s former ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Iraq, has this to say about the administration’s current record in the Middle East: “We’re in a goddamn free fall.”
Count the mistakes: Helping overthrow Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, leading to anarchy and civil war. Pressuring Husni Mubarak of Egypt to resign, then backing the Muslim Brotherhood, leading now-president Sisi to turn toward Moscow. Alienating Washington’s most stalwart ally in the region, the Government of Israel. Dismissing ISIS as “junior varsity” just before it seized major cities. Hailing Yemen as a counterterrorism success just before its government was overthrown. Alarming the Saudi authorities to the point that they put together a military alliance against Iran. Coddling Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, encouraging his dictatorial tendencies. Leaving Iraq and Afghanistan prematurely, dooming the vast American investment in those two countries.
And, most of all: Making dangerously flawed deals with the nuclear-ambitious mullahs of Iran.
Qaddafi of Libya, an Obama success story?
Is this a random series of errors by an incompetent leadership or does some grand, if misconceived, idea stand behind the pattern? To an extent, it’s ineptitude, as when Obama bowed to the Saudi king, threatened Syria’s government over chemical weapons before changing his mind, and now sends the U.S. military to aid Tehran in Iraq and fight it in Yemen.
But there also is a grand idea and it calls for explanation. As a man of the left, Obama sees the United States historically having exerted a malign influence on the outside world. Greedy corporations, an overly-powerful military-industrial complex, a yahoo nationalism, engrained racism, and cultural imperialism combined to render America, on balance, a force for evil.
Being a student of community organizer Saul Alinsky, Obama did not overtly proclaim this view but passed himself off as a patriot, though he (and his charming wife) did offer occasional hints of their radical views about “fundamentally transforming the United States.” On ascending to the presidency, Obama moved slowly, uneager to spread alarm and wanting to be reelected. By now, however, after six full years and only his legacy to worry about, the full-blown Obama is emerging.
Saul Alinsky, the community organizer par excellence. (And whom the author of this article met in about 1965.)
The Obama Doctrine is simple and universal: Warm relations with adversaries and cool them with friends.
Several assumptions underlie this approach: The U.S. government morally must compensate for its prior errors. Smiling at hostile states will inspire them to reciprocate. Using force creates more problems than it solves. Historic U.S. allies, partners, and helpers are morally inferior accessories. In the Middle East, this means reaching out to revisionists (Erdoğan, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Republic of Iran) and pushing away cooperative governments (Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia).
Of these actors, two stand out: Iran and Israel. Establishing good relations with Tehran appears to be Obama’s great preoccupation. As Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute has shown, Obama during his entire presidency has worked toward rendering Iran what he calls “a very successful regional power … abiding by international norms and international rules.” Contrarily, his pre-presidential friendships with truculent anti-Zionists such as Ali Abunimah, Rashid Khalidi, and Edward Said point to the depth of his hostility toward the Jewish state.
The Obama Doctrine demystifies what is otherwise inscrutable. For example, it explains why the U.S. government blithely ignored the Iranian supreme leader‘s outrageous “Death to America” yelp in March, dismissing it as mere domestic pandering, even as Obama glommed onto the Israeli prime minister‘s near simultaneous electoral campaign comment rejecting a two-state solution with the Palestinians during his term of office (“we take him at his word”).
Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamene’i can say most anything and Obama won’t mind.
The doctrine also offers guidelines to predict possible developments during Obama’s remaining tenure, such as: Wretched P5+1 deals with Iran compel Israel’s government to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Gentle policies toward Damascus clear the way for the Assad regime to re-extend its power. Ankara chooses to provoke a crisis in the eastern Mediterranean over Cypriot gas and oil reserves.
The great question ahead is how, in their wisdom, the American people will judge the Obama Doctrine when they next vote for president in 19 months. Will they repudiate his policy of shuffling and contrition, as they comparably did in 1980 when they elected Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter? Or will they choose four more years of it, thereby turning the Obama Doctrine into the new norm and Americans into European-style remorseful masochists?
Their verdict in 2016 has potentially world-historical implications.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2015 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
by Daniel Pipes
March 28, 2015
The Middle East witnessed something radically new two days ago, when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responded to a plea by Yemen’s president and led a 10-country coalition to intervene in the air and on the ground in the country. “Operation Decisive Storm” prompts many reflections:
Saudi and Egypt in alliance: Half a century ago, Riyadh and Cairo were active in a Yemen war, but then they supported opposing sides, respectively the status-quo forces and the revolutionaries. Their now being allies points to continuity in Saudia along with profound changes in Egypt.
Arabic-speakers getting their act together: Through Israel’s early decades, Arabs dreamt of uniting militarily against it but the realities of infighting and rivalries smashed every such hope. Even on the three occasions (1948-49, 1967, 1973) when they did join forces, they did so at cross purposes and ineffectively. How striking, then that finally they should coalesce not against Israel but against Iran. This implicitly points to their understanding that the Islamic Republic of Iran poses a real threat, whereas anti-Zionism amounts to mere indulgence. It also points to panic and the need to take action resulting from a stark American retreat.
Arab leaders have a long history of meeting but not cooperating. From the right: King Hussein of Jordan, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Yasir Arafat of the PLO, and Muammar Qaddafi of Libya in September 1970.
Yemen at the center of attention: Yemen played a peripheral role in the Bible, in the rise of Islam, and in modern times; it’s never been the focus of world concern – until suddenly now. Yemen resembles other once-marginal countries – the Koreas, Cuba, the Vietnams, Afghanistan – which out of nowhere became the focus of global concern.
The Middle East cold war went hot: The Iranian and Saudi regimes have headed dueling blocs for about a decade. They did combat as the U.S. and Soviet governments once did – via contending ideologies, espionage, aid, trade, and covert action. On March 26, that cold war went hot, where it’s likely long to remain.
Can the Saudi-led coalition win? Highly unlikely, as these are rookies taking on Iran’s battle-hardened allies in a forbidding terrain.
Islamists dominate: The leaders of both blocs share much: both aspire universally to apply the sacred law of Islam (the Shari’a), both despise infidels, and both turned faith into ideology. Their falling out confirms Islamism as the Middle East’s only game, permitting its proponents the luxury to fight each other.
The Turkey-Qatar-Muslim Brotherhood alliance in decline: A third alliance of Sunni revisionists somewhere between the Shi’i revolutionaries and the Sunni status-quotians has been active during recent years in many countries – Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya. But now, in part thanks to diplomacy initiated by the brand-new King Salman of Saudi Arabia, its members are gravitating toward their Sunni co-religionists.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia has done something unprecedented in putting together a military coalition.
Isolated Iran: Yes, a belligerent Tehran now boasts of dominating four Arab capitals (Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Sana’a) but that’s also its problem: abrupt Iranian gains have many in the region (including such previously friendly states as Pakistan and Sudan) fearing Iran.
Sidelining the Arab-Israeli conflict: If the Obama administration and European leaders remain obsessed with Palestinians, seeing them as key to the region, regional players have far more urgent priorities. Not only does Israel hardly concern them but the Jewish state serves as a tacit auxiliary of the Saudi-led bloc. Does this change mark a long-term shift in Arab attitudes toward Israel? Probably not; when the Iran crisis fades, expect attention to return to the Palestinians and Israel, as it always does.
American policy in disarray: Middle East hands rightly scoffed in 2009 when Barack Obama and his fellow naïfs expected that by leaving Iraq, smiling at Tehran, and trying harder at Arab-Israeli negotiations they would fix the region, permitting a “pivot” to East Asia. Instead, the incompetents squatting atop the U.S. government cannot keep up with fast-moving, adverse events, many of its own creation (anarchy in Libya, tensions with traditional allies, a more bellicose Iran).
Impact on a deal with Iran: Although Washington has folded on many positions in negotiations with Iran and done the mullah’s regime many favors (for example, not listing it or its Hizbullah ally as terrorist), it drew a line in Yemen, offering the anti-Iran coalition some support. Will Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i now stomp out of the talks? Highly unlikely, for the deal offered him is too sweet to turn down.
American diplomats meet again with their Iranian counterparts to capitulate on yet another difference.
In sum, Salman’s skilled diplomacy and his readiness to use force in Yemen responds to the deadly combination of Arab anarchy, Iranian aggression, and Obama weakness in a way that will shape the region for years.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2015 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
by Daniel Pipes
March 20, 2015
The recent bulldozing by the Islamic State (ISIS) of the ancient cities of Nimrud, Hatra, andKorsabad, three of the world’s greatest archaeological and cultural sites, is just this group latest round of assaults across the large area under its control. Since January 2014, the flamboyantly barbaric ISIS has blown up Shi’i mosques, bulldozed churches, pulverized shrines, and plundered museums.
Worse, the ISIS record fits into an old and common pattern of destruction of historical artifacts by Muslims.
Some attacks target the works of other, rival religions, such as Orthodox churches in northern Cyprus (since 1974), the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan (in 2001), the Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia (2002), an historic Hindu temple in Malaysia (2006), and the Assyrian antiquities (“idols”) in Mosul (2015). On a personal level, a Saudi national smashed historic statues at the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple in Tokyo in 2014. Nor is this danger over: Islamic leaders have bruited plans to destroy Persepolis in Iran, St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
After the 1974 invasion, Turkish forces made many churches in northern Cyprus fit only for animals.
In some cases, conquerors turn non-Islamic holy places into Islamic ones, thereby asserting the supremacy of Islam. This can be done by converting them into Islamic sanctities, such as the Kaaba in Mecca, the Cathedral of St. John in Damascus, and the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; or building on top of them, such as Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India.
Muslims of one denomination sometimes destroy the legacy of other Islamic sects. Recent examples include the tomb of Sidi Mahmoudou, a medieval structure in Timbuktu (2012), Sufi tombs in Libya (2012), and the libraries of Mosul (2015). But best known is the Saudi destruction of antiquities inMecca since the 1990s, applying strict Wahhabi principles of non-intercession; even Muhammad’s tomb in Medina is in jeopardy.
The Taliban blew up a monumental sixth-century Buddha statue in 2001.
Destruction also accompanies the fighting of war; the Syrian conflict since 2011 has been particularly devastating in this regard, with battles causing severe damage to such grand antiquities as the Citadel of Aleppo, the Umayyad Mosque, and Crac des Chevaliers. Alongside, smuggling and other profit-making activities to pay for war costs leads to the wholesale stealing and trafficking of rare antiquities; UNESCO reports, for example, that the ancient Syrian site of Apamea is “completely destroyed.”
Ancient artifacts might even be demolished because their space is needed for something deemed urgent. The Palestinian Authority threw out precious Temple Mount archeological remains as mere rubble in 2000 to build a mosque. In 2013, Hamas bulldozed part of the 3,000-year-old Anthedon Harbor in Gaza for military purposes and the Turkish authorities damaged the Byzantine-era walls of the Yedikule Gardens to build a decorative pool.
Al-Qaeda bombed the Ghriba Synagogue in Tunisia in 2002.
Finally, there are gratuitously self-inflicted cultural wounds. These include the pillaging of Iraqi museums, libraries, and archives (2003), the burning in 2011 of L’Institut d’Égypte and looting of the Egyptian Museum, the 2013 destruction of manuscripts in Timbuktu and the ransacking of the Mallawi Museum in Minya, Egypt, and the 2014 destruction at the Saeh Library in Tripoli, Lebanonand at the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo.
Why does Islam inspire its adherents to annihilate their own patrimony? Because humiliation establishes and reinforces one’s superiority. Destruction of infidel remains confirms the superior power of Muslims and, by implication, the truth of Islam. In parallel, eliminating the vestiges of Muslim rivals establishes the superiority of Islamism over other, less assertive interpretations of Islam.
ISIS blew up Shi’ite mosques in Mosul in 2014.
While the seizure and appropriation of other monuments began at the very inception of Islam (i.e., the Kaaba), the destruction that has reached orgiastic heights with ISIS is something new; note that nearly all the examples listed here date from the twenty-first century. Turned around, those recently-destroyed antiquities survived so long because Muslims had left them alone. In this regard, things are far worse these days than ever before – not a surprise, as Islam is in its worst shape ever. All other major religions have moved beyond such crudely violent impulses whose motive is unacceptable and whose results are tragic.
Is there a Middle Eastern country that exults in its multi-religious heritage, celebrates ancient artifacts on coins and stamps, builds fabulous museums for its antiquities, treats archeology as a national pastime, and studies manuscripts rather than burns them? Well, yes, there is. It’s called Israel. The rest of the region could learn a thing or two about historical appreciation from the Jewish state.
Both the name of the Quwwat al-Islam (“Power of Islam”) Mosque in Delhi and the fact that it was built with materials from “27 idolatrous temples” point to Islamic supremacism.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2015 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Mar. 20, 2015 addendum: For more details on most of the incidents mentioned above, see my blog, “Islam vs. History.”
by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
March 9, 2015
Prominent non-Muslim political figures have embarrassed themselves by denying the self-evident connection of Islam to the Islamic State (ISIS) and to Islamist violence in Paris and Copenhagen, even claiming these are contrary to Islam. What do they hope to achieve through these falsehoods and what is their significance?
First, a sampling of the double talk:
President Barack Obama tells the world that ISIS “is not Islamic” because its “actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith.” He holds “we are not at war with Islam [but] with people who have perverted Islam.”
Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama agree that violence perverts Islam.
Secretary of State John Kerry echoes him: ISIS consists of “coldblooded killers masquerading as a religious movement” who promote a “hateful ideology has nothing do with Islam.” His spokesperson, Jen Psaki, goes further: the terrorists “are enemies of Islam.”
Jeh Johnson, the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, assents: “ISIL is [not] Islamic.” My favorite:Howard Dean, the former Democrat governor of Vermont, says of the Charlie Hebdo attackers, “They’re about as Muslim as I am.”
Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, has declared himself a Muslim?
Europeans speak identically: David Cameron, the Conservative British prime minister, portrays ISISas “extremists who want to abuse Islam” and who “pervert the Islamic faith.” He calls Islam “a religion of peace” and dismisses ISIS members as not Muslims, but “monsters.” His immigration minister, James Brokenshire, argues that terrorism and extremism “have nothing to do with Islam.”
On the Labour side, former British prime minister Tony Blair finds ISIS ideology to be “based in a complete perversion of the proper faith of Islam,” while a former home secretary, Jack Straw, denounces “the medieval barbarity of ISIS and its ilk” which he deems “completely contrary to Islam.”
Across the channel, French president François Hollande insists that the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher criminals “have nothing to do with the Muslim faith.” His prime minister, Manuel Valls, concurs: “Islam has nothing to do with ISIS.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte echoes the same theme: “ISIS is a terrorist organization which misuses Islam.” Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a left-wing German politician, calls the Paris murderers fascists, not Muslims. From Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agrees: “Extremism and Islam are completely different things.”
This is not a new view: for example, prior U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also aired their insights about what is and is not Islam, though less assertively.
Summarizing these statements, which come straight out of the Islamist playbook: Islam is purely a religion of peace, so violence and barbarism categorically have nothing to do with it; indeed, these “masquerade” and “pervert” Islam. By implication, more Islam is needed to solve these “monstrous” and “barbaric” problems.
But, of course, this interpretation neglects the scriptures of Islam and the history of Muslims, steeped in the assumption of superiority toward non-Muslims and the righteous violence of jihad. Ironically, ignoring the Islamic impulse means foregoing the best tool to defeat jihadism: for, if the problem results not from an interpretation of Islam, but from random evil and irrational impulses, how can one possibly counter it? Only acknowledging the legacy of Islamic imperialism opens ways to re-interpret the faith’s scriptures in modern, moderate, and good-neighborly ways.
Why, then, do powerful politicians make ignorant and counterproductive arguments, ones they surely know to be false, especially as violent Islamism spreads (think of Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, and the Taliban)? Cowardice and multiculturalism play a role, to be sure, but two other reasons have more importance:
First, they want not to offend Muslims, who they fear are more prone to violence if they perceive non-Muslims pursuing a “war on Islam.” Second, they worry that focusing on Muslims means fundamental changes to the secular order, while denying an Islamic element permits avoid troubling issues. For example, it permits airplane security to look for passengers’ weapons rather than engage in Israeli-style interrogations.
According to non-Muslim politicians these Taliban members have nothing to do with Islam.
My prediction: Denial will continue unless violence increases. In retrospect, the 3,000 victims of 9/11 did not shake non-Muslim complacency. The nearly 30,000 fatalities from Islamist terrorism since then also have not altered the official line. Perhaps 300,000 dead will cast aside worries about Islamist sensibilities and a reluctance to make profound social changes, replacing these with a determination to fight a radical utopian ideology; three million dead will surely suffice.
Without such casualties, however, politicians will likely continue with denial because it’s easier that way. I regret this – but prefer denial to the alternative.
March 9, 2015 addendum: For many more details on the cases cited here, see my weblog entry “Islam vs. History” at DanielPipes.org.
by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
February 26, 2015
Population shifts resulting from Syria’s four-year long civil war have profoundly changed Syria and its three Arabic-speaking neighbors: Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Turkey and Israel have changed too, but less so.) Ironically, amid tragedy and horror, as populations adapt to the brutal imperatives of modern nationalism, all four countries are becoming a bit more stable. That’s because the fighting has pushed peoples to move from ethnic minority status to ethnic majority status, encouraging like to live with like.
Before looking at each country, some background:
First, along with the Balkans, the Middle East contains the most complex and unsettled ethnic, religious, linguistic, and national mix in the world. It’s a place where cross-border alliances deeply complicate local politics. If the Balkans set off World War I, the Middle East might well spark World War III.
Second, historic tensions between the two main Muslim sects, Sunni and Shi’i, had largely subsided before Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power in 1979. Driven by Tehran’s aggression, they have since flared anew.
The brutal 8-year war, 1980-88 between Iran and Iraq did much to exacerbate Sunni-Shi’i hostility.
Third, the imperialist European powers nearly ignored the identity of the peoples living in the Middle East as they defined most of the region’s borders. Instead, they focused on rivers, ports, and other resources that served their economic interests. Today’s jumble of somewhat randomly-defined countries (e.g., Jordan) is the result.
Finally, Kurds were the major losers a century ago; lacking intellectuals to make their case, they found themselves divided among four different states and persecuted in them all. Today, they are organized for independence.
Returning to Syria and its Arab neighbors (and drawing on Pinhas Inbari’s “Demographic Upheaval: How the Syrian War is Reshaping the Region“):
Syria and Iraq have undergone strikingly similar developments. After the demise of monstrous dictators in 2000 and 2003, each has broken into the same three ethnic units – Shi’i Arab, Sunni Arab, and Kurd. Tehran dominates both Shi’i-oriented regimes, while several Sunni-majority states (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar) back the Sunni rebels. The Kurds have withdrawn from the Arab civil wars to build their own autonomous areas. Once-ambitious dictatorships barely sustain functioning foreign policies. Also, the century-old boundary separating Syria and Iraq has largely vanished.
Syria: The part of Syria still ruled by Bashar al-Assad is becoming more Shi’i. An estimated half of the pre-war Syrian population of 22 million has been driven from its homes; of them, the 3 million refugees, mostly Sunni, who fled the country are unlikely to return both because of the continuing civil war and the Assad regime’s revocation of their citizenship. The regime appears also to have intentionally reduced its control over the area near the border with Jordan to encourage Sunnis to flee Syria. In another ploy to increase the Shi’i population, reports indicate it has welcomed and re-settled about 500,000 Iraqi Shi’is, conferring Syrian citizenship on some.
Bashar al-Assad must have been a better ophthalmologist than dictator.
Iraq: The Syrian civil war provided the Islamic State (or ISIS/ISIL) with an opportunity to move into Iraq, seizing such cities as Fallujah and Mosul, leading to an exodus of non-Sunnis (especially Shi’is and Yazidis), and remaking Iraq along ethnic lines. Given the country’s intermingled population, especially in the Baghdad area, it will be years – perhaps decades – before the sides sort themselves out. But the process appears inexorable.
Lebanon: Sunnis are growing more powerful, beating back the Iranian influence. The million new Sunni refugees from Syria now constitute 20 percent of the country’s population, roughly doubling the Sunni community. Also, Hizbullah, the dominant Shi’i organization in Lebanon, is neglecting its own constituency and losing influence domestically by fighting on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria.
Hizbullah militiamen in Syria reduces the group’s influence in its home country, Lebanon.
Jordan: The recent influx of Syrian refugees follows an earlier wave of approximately one million Iraqi refugees. Together, the two groups have lowered the percentage of Palestinians in Jordan to the point that the latter probably no longer constitute a majority of the country’s population, a shift with major political implications. For one, it reduces the potential Palestinian threat to the Hashemite monarchy; for another, it undermines the Jordan-is-Palestine argument championed by some Israelis.
In brief, Iraq and Syria are devolving into their constituent religious and ethnic parts, Lebanon is becoming more Sunni, and Jordan less Palestinian. However gruesome the human cost of the Syrian civil war, its long-term impact potentially renders the Middle East a less combustible place, one less likely to trigger World War III.
Frontpage, By Jamie Glazov On February 13, 2015:
[Editor’s note: This article is reprinted from our Valentine’s issue of Feb. 15, 2014. It has been updated and edited to fit this year’s Day of Love.]
This Saturday, February 14, is Valentine’s Day, the sacred day that intimate companions mark to celebrate their love and affection for one another. If you’re thinking about making a study of how couples celebrate this day, the Muslim world and the milieus of the radical Left are not the places you should be spending your time. Indeed, it’s pretty hard to outdo jihadists and “progressives” when it comes to the hatred of Valentine’s Day. And this hatred is precisely the territory on which the contemporary romance between the radical Left and Islamic fanaticism is formed.
The train is never late: every year that Valentine’s comes around, the Muslim world erupts with ferocious rage, with its leaders doing everything in their power to suffocate the festivity that comes with the celebration of private romance. Imams around the world thunder against Valentine’s every year — and the celebration of the day itself is literally outlawed in Islamist states.
This year, for example, Islamic religious leaders and officials in Malaysia have warned Muslims against celebrating Valentine’s Day. In Saudi Arabia, the morality police have, as always, outlawed the sale of all Valentine’s Day items, forcing shopkeepers to remove any red items, because the day is considered a Christian holiday.
Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are carrying the torch for the Indonesian Ulema Council in Dumai, Riau, and for the Education, Youth and Sport Agency in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, both of which issued a dire warning last year to people against celebrating Valentine’s Day, stating that the Day of Love “is against Islam.” This is because, as the Indonesian Ulema Council 2011 judgment explained, Valentine’s Day takes young people into a “dark world.”
Malaysia’s State mufti chief assistant Mat Jais Kamos always keeps his mind focused on that dark world and so, last year a few days before Valentine’s Day, he ordered young people to stay clear of celebrating the Day of Love: “The celebration emphasizes the relationship between two individuals rather than the love between family members or married couples,” he affirmed, and department officials backed up his command by distributing leaflets to remind Muslims of the 2006 ban on Valentine’s Day issued by the state fatwa council.
In Islamic Uzbekistan, several universities always make sure that students actually sign contracts promising not to celebrate Valentine’s.
In Pakistan on Valentine’s Day in 2013, supporters of Jamat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s main religious party, took to the streets in Peshawar to vehemently denounce the Day of Love. Demonizing it as “un-Islamic,” the Muslim protestors shouted that the day has “spread immodesty in the world.” Shahzad Ahmed, the local leader of the student wing of Jamat-e-Islami, declared that the organization will not “allow” any Valentine’s Day functions, warning that if Pakistani law enforcement did not prevent Pakistanis from holding such functions, that the Jamat-e-Islami would stop them “in our own way.” Khalid Waqas Chamkani, a leader in Jamat-e-Islami, calls Valentine’s a “shameful day.”
These Islamist forces in Pakistan cannot, of course, completely succeed in preventing couples from showing love to each other on this special day, and so many Pakistanis still cryptically celebrate Valentine’s Day and exchange presents in secret.
All these Islamic outcries against Valentine’s Day reflect myriad other efforts to suffocate the day of love throughout the Muslim War. For instance, in Aceh province in Indonesia every year, Muslim clerics issue stern warnings to Muslims against observing Valentine’s Day. Tgk Feisal, general secretary of the Aceh Ulema Association (HUDA), stated three years ago that “It is haram for Muslims to observe Valentine’s Day because it does not accord with Islamic Sharia.” He added that the government must watch out for youths participating in Valentine’s Day activities in Aceh. One can only imagine what happens to the guilty parties.
As mentioned, the Saudis consistently punish the slightest hint of celebrating Valentine’s Day. The Kingdom and its religious police always officially issue a stern warning that anyone caught even thinking about Valentine’s Day will suffer some of the most painful penalties of Sharia Law. This is typical of the Saudis of course. As Daniel Pipes has reported, the Saudi regime takes a firm stand against Valentine’s every year, and the Saudi religious police monitor stores selling roses and other gifts. They arrest women for wearing red on that day. Every year the Saudis announce that, starting the week of Valentine’s and until a certain day in the future, it is illegal for a merchant to sell any item that is red, or that in any way hints of being connected to Valentine’s Day. AsClaude Cartaginese has reported, any merchant in Saudi Arabia found selling such items as red roses, red clothing of any kind (especially dresses), toys, heart-shaped products, candy, greeting cards or any items wrapped in red, has to destroy them or face the wrath of Saudi justice.
Christian overseas workers living in Saudi Arabia from the Philippines and other countries always take extra precautions, heeding the Saudis’ warning to them specifically to avoid greeting anyone with the words “Happy Valentine’s Day” or exchanging any gift that reeks of romance. A spokesman for a Philippine workers group has commented:
“We are urging fellow Filipinos in the Middle East, especially lovers, just to celebrate their Valentine’s Day secretly and with utmost care.”
The Iranian despots, meanwhile, consistently try to make sure that the Saudis don’t outdo them in annihilating Valentine’s Day. Iran’s “morality” police consistently order shops to remove heart-and-flower decorations and images of couples embracing on this day — and anytime around this day.
Typical of this whole pathology in the Islamic world was a development witnessed back on February 10, 2006, when activists of the radical Kashmiri Islamic group Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of the Community) went on a rampage in Srinagar, the main city of the Indian portion of Kashmir. Some two dozen black-veiled Muslim women stormed gift and stationery shops, burning Valentine’s Day cards and posters showing couples together.
In the West, meanwhile, leftist feminists are not to be outdone by their jihadi allies in reviling — and trying to exterminate — Valentine’s Day. Throughout all Women’s Studies Programs on American campuses, for instance, you will find the demonization of this day, since, as the disciples of Andrea Dworkin angrily explain, the day is a manifestation of how capitalist and homophobic patriarchs brainwash and oppress women and push them into spheres of powerlessness.
As an individual who spent more than a decade in academia, I was privileged to witness this war against Valentine’s Day up close and personal. Feminist icons like Jane Fonda, meanwhile, help lead the assault on Valentine’s Day in society at large. As David Horowitz has documented, Fonda has led the campaign to transform this special day into “V-Day” (“Violence against Women Day”) — which is, when it all comes down to it, a day of hate, featuring a mass indictment of men.
So what exactly is transpiring here? What explains this hatred of Valentine’s Day by leftist feminists and jihadis? And how and why does it serve as the sacred bond that brings the radical Left and Islam together into its feast of hate?
The core issue at the foundation of this phenomenon is that Islam and the radical Left both revile the notion of private love, a non-tangible and divine entity that draws individuals to each other and, therefore, distracts them from submitting themselves to a secular deity.
The highest objective of both Islam and the radical Left is clear: to shatter the sacred intimacy that a man and a woman can share with one another, for such a bond is inaccessible to the order. History, therefore, demonstrates how Islam, like Communism, wages a ferocious war on any kind of private and unregulated love. In the case of Islam, the reality is epitomized in its monstrous structures of gender apartheid and the terror that keeps it in place. Indeed,female sexuality and freedom are demonized and, therefore, forced veiling, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, honor killings and other misogynist monstrosities become mandatory parts of the sadistic paradigm.
The puritanical nature of totalist systems (whether Fascist, Communist, or Islamist) is another manifestation of this phenomenon. In Stalinist Russia, sexual pleasure was portrayed as unsocialist and counter-revolutionary. More recent Communist societies have also waged war on sexuality — a war that Islam, as we know, wages with similar ferocity. These totalist structures cannot survive in environments filled with self-interested, pleasure-seeking individuals who prioritize devotion to other individual human beings over the collective and the state. Because the leftist believer viscerally hates the notion and reality of personal love and “the couple,” he champions the enforcement of totalitarian puritanism by the despotic regimes he worships.
The famous twentieth-century novels of dystopia, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, George Orwell’s 1984, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, all powerfully depict totalitarian society’s assault on the realm of personal love in its violent attempt to dehumanize human beings and completely subject them to its rule. In Zamyatin’s We, the earliest of the three novels, the despotic regime keeps human beings in line by giving them license for regulated sexual promiscuity, while private love is illegal. The hero breaks the rules with a woman who seduces him — not only into forbidden love but also into a counterrevolutionary struggle. In the end, the totality forces the hero, like the rest of the world’s population, to undergo the Great Operation, which annihilates the part of the brain that gives life to passion and imagination, and therefore spawns the potential for love. In Orwell’s 1984, the main character ends up being tortured and broken at the Ministry of Truth for having engaged in the outlawed behavior of unregulated love. In Huxley’s Brave New World, promiscuity is encouraged — everyone has sex with everyone else under regime rules, but no one is allowed to make a deep and independent private connection.
Yet as these novels demonstrate, no tyranny’s attempt to turn human beings into obedient robots can fully succeed. There is always someone who has doubts, who is uncomfortable, and who questions the secular deity — even though it would be safer for him to conform like everyone else. The desire that thus overcomes the instinct for self-preservation is erotic passion. And that is why love presents such a threat to the totalitarian order: it dares to serve itself. It is a force more powerful than the all-pervading fear that a totalitarian order needs to impose in order to survive. Leftist and Muslim social engineers, therefore, in their twisted and human-hating imaginations, believe that the road toward earthly redemption (under a classless society or Sharia) stands a chance only if private love and affection is purged from the human condition.
This is exactly why, forty years ago, as Peter Collier and David Horowitz demonstrate in Destructive Generation, the Weather Underground not only waged war against American society through violence and mayhem, but also waged war on private love within its own ranks. Bill Ayers, one of the leading terrorists in the group, argued in a speech defending the campaign: “Any notion that people can have responsibility for one person, that they can have that ‘out’ — we have to destroy that notion in order to build a collective; we have to destroy all ‘outs,’ to destroy the notion that people can lean on one person and not be responsible to the entire collective.”
Thus, the Weather Underground destroyed any signs of monogamy within its ranks and forced couples, some of whom had been together for years, to admit their “political error” and split apart. Like their icon Margaret Mead, they fought the notions of romantic love, jealousy, and other “oppressive” manifestations of one-on-one intimacy and commitment. This was followed by forced group sex and “national orgies,” whose main objective was to crush the spirit of individualism. This constituted an eerie replay of the sexual promiscuity that was encouraged (while private love was forbidden) in We, 1984, and Brave New World.
It becomes completely understandable, therefore, why leftist believers were so inspired by the tyrannies in the Soviet Union, Communist China, Communist North Vietnam and many other countries. As sociologist Paul Hollander has documented in his classic Political Pilgrims, fellow travelers were especially enthralled with the desexualized dress that the Maoist regime imposed on its citizens. This at once satisfied the leftist’s desire for enforced sameness and the imperative of erasing attractions between private citizens. The Maoists’ unisex clothing finds its parallel in fundamentalist Islam’s mandate for shapeless coverings to be worn by both males and females. The collective “uniform” symbolizes submission to a higher entity and frustrates individual expression, mutual physical attraction, and private connection and affection. And so, once again, the Western leftist remains not only uncritical, but completely supportive of — and enthralled in — this form of totalitarian puritanism.
This is precisely why leftist feminists today do not condemn the forced veiling of women in the Islamic world; because they support everything that forced veiling engenders. It should be no surprise, therefore, that Naomi Wolf finds the burqa “sexy.” And it should be no surprise that Oslo Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Unni Wikan, found a solution for the high incidence of Muslims raping Norwegian women: the rapists must not be punished, but Norwegian women must veil themselves.
Valentine’s Day is a “shameful day” for the Muslim world and for the radical Left. It is shameful because private love is considered obscene, since it threatens the highest of values: the need for a totalitarian order to attract the complete and undivided attention, allegiance and veneration of every citizen. Love serves as the most lethal threat to the tyrants seeking to build Sharia and a classless utopia on earth, and so these tyrants yearn for the annihilation of every ingredient in man that smacks of anything that it means to be human.
And so perhaps it is precisely on this Valentine’s Day that we are reminded of the hope that we can realistically have in our battle with the ugly and pernicious unholy alliance that seeks to destroy our civilization.
On this day, we are reminded that we have a weapon, the most powerful arsenal on the face of the earth, in front of which despots and terrorists quiver and shake, and sprint from in horror into the shadows of darkness, desperately avoiding its piercing light.
That arsenal is love.
And no Maoist Red Guard or Saudi fascist cop ever stamped it out — no matter how much they beat and tortured their victims. And no al-Qaeda jihadist in Pakistan or Feminazi on any American campus will ever succeed in suffocating it, no matter how ferociously they lust to disinfect man of who and what he is.
Love will prevail.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
To get the whole story on Islam’s and the Left’s war on private love, see Ann-Marie Murrell’s interview with Jamie Glazov about his book United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror.
An ambitious 81-page document, Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America, just appeared from the Center for American Progress, a liberal Democratic organization. Unlike its first iteration, in which a group with a $40-million annual budget and deep ties to big business had the nerve to claim that seven much smaller institutions were overpowering the country through their financial clout, this one looks at what the alleged “Islamophobia network” actually does.
The report, written by Matthew Duss, Yasmine Taeb, Ken Gude, and Ken Sofer, makes for interesting reading. Its premise is that critics of Islamism (1) are really anti-Islamic and (2) have single-handedly distorted a the fundamental American value, namely a “basic respect for the rights of minority groups throughout the country.” According to the CAP study, “the views of anti-Muslim actors stand in stark contrast to the values of most Americans.”
By dint of hard work, however, “a well-funded, well-organized fringe movement can push discriminatory policies against a segment of American society by intentionally spreading lies while taking advantage of moments of public anxiety and fear.” This effort “takes many shapes and forms”: a general climate, cynical political efforts, and institutional policies. Despite some setbacks, continues the CAP narrative, the network’s efforts “continue to erode America’s core values of religious pluralism, civil rights, and social inclusion.”
Those fingered as part of this network (I am one) should be perversely proud of our accomplishment: Just a handful of lying individuals manage to subvert a core American value – and all this with what CAP itself estimated to be less than $5 million a year!
Another way of putting it: the United States hosts about as many Buddhists and Hindus combined as it does Muslims. Yet, when did Buddhists or Hindus try to change the existing order or engage in violence on behalf of their faiths? Who ever hears about them? Who fears them?But there is a more convincing reason why Americans fear Islam and Muslims. The news is filled almost daily and even several times daily with bulletins from one Islamist front or another. I hardly need rehearse the repertoire; just turn to the day’s headlines. ISIS and theCharlie Hebdo-like massacre most dominate the news, but Islamists are all the time winning unfavorable attention for themselves by making aggressive cultural demands (say, wearing a face-covering burqa in the courtroom), pushing the superiority of Islam (don’t dare say a negative word about Muhammad), or apologizing for some repulsive practice (such as honor killings or female genital mutilation).
Maybe it’s Islamists who are prompting powerful and spontaneous responses through their threatening behavior. Maybe we critics are not “intentionally spreading lies” but honestly interpreting Islamist aggression and supremacism. Maybe CAP and its ilk should blame the fear of Islam less on we critics and more on the Islamists themselves. (February 13, 2015)
For the first time in his six years as president, Barack Obama met behind closed doors with an exclusively domestic group of Muslims for about an hour on Feb. 4. They covered the boringly predictable topics, judging by the official readout, accounts by participants, and news reports.
What about the guest list? It includes a curiously unimpressive and motley collection of modestly accomplished individuals of little renown:
Some thoughts on these participants:
It hardly needs to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: Almost all the guests are Islamists while not a single anti-Islamist made the cut.
One of the organizations represented, the Arab-American Institute, isn’t even Muslim.
Eight participants are affiliated with organizations, though one of them, the Arab-American Institute, is ethnic, not Islamic. Has the White House staff not yet learned that not all Arabs are Muslims, and especially not all Arab-Americans?
Six participants do other things: a basketball coach (Abdul-Qaadir), a professor (Jackson), an imam (Magid), a businessman (Mokhtarzada), a “comedian” (Obeidallah), and a university chaplain (Rashad). Hard to see how these folks are “leaders.”
A White House decision to tone down what is by nature a controversial meeting probably explains the absence of notable religious figures such as Zaid Shakir, Siraj Wahaj, or Hamza Yusuf. This would also explain the absence of big names from Muslim-American institutional life such as Nihad Awad or Louis Farrakhan.
The list contains several surprises: Two lowly staffers represented MPAC and Ta’leef. The obscure Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir represented basketball, rather than the famed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Hakeem Olajuwon. And where are such Muslim-American stars such as Muhammad Ali, Farouk El-Baz, Omar Sharif, McCoy Tyner, and Ahmed H. Zewail?
Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, Muslim-American leader?
MPAC made the cut but not the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); the latter must be seething, especially as it is hoping for U.S. government assistance to get off the UAE’s terrorism list. This fits a long-term pattern of preferring tamer Islamists over more aggressive ones. Same story with ISNA and Islamic Circle of North America.
In conclusion, this meeting appears to have been pro-forma, part of the political preparation for the “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism” to be held at the White House on Feb. 18. The president invested an hour to protect his standing among his Islamist constituency.
In view of the news that Sisi sets conditions to reconcile with Muslim Brotherhood the following assessment of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s views on reform of Islam deserves close scrutiny. Andrew Bostom has been sounding the alarm on this all along.
by Daniel Pipes
The National Review
January 19, 2015
In a widely praised January 1 speech at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addressed the country’s religious leadership, saying the time had come to reform Islam. He’s won Western plaudits for this, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, but I have reservations about the speech.
To begin with, no matter how fine Sisi’s ideas, no politician – and especially no strongman – has moved modern Islam. Atatürk’s reforms in Turkey are systematically being reversed. A decade ago, King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan gave similarly fine speeches on “the true voice of Islam” and “enlightened moderation” that immediately disappeared from view. Yes, Sisi’s comments are stronger, but he is not a religious authority and, in all likelihood, they too will disappear without a trace.
As for content: Sisi praised the faith of Islam and focused on what he calls fikr, literally meaning thoughtbut in this context meaning wrong ideas. He complained that wrong ideas, which he did not specify, have become sacralized and that the religious leadership dares not criticize them. But Sisi did criticize, and in a colloquial Arabic highly unusual for discussing such topics: “It is inconceivable that the wrong ideas which we sacralize should make the entire umma [Muslim community] a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction for the whole world. This is not possible.”
Nonetheless, that is precisely what has occurred: “We have reached the point that Muslims have antagonized the entire world. Is it conceivable that 1.6 billion [Muslims] want to kill the rest of the world’s population of 7 billion, so that Muslims prosper? This is not possible.” Sisi continued, to faint applause from the religious dignitaries assembled before him, to call on them to bring about a “religious revolution.” Barring that, the Muslim community “is being torn apart, destroyed, and is going to hell.”
Kudos to Sisi for tough talk on this problem; his candor stands in sharp contrast to the mumbo-jumbo emanating from his Western counterparts who uphold the pretense that the current wave of violence has nothing to do with Islam. (Of many flamboyantly erroneous remarks, my favorite is from Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, who responded to the Charlie Hebdo massacre with, “I stopped calling these people Muslim terrorists. They’re about as Muslim as I am.”)
But Sisi gave no specifics regarding the revolution he seeks; what might he have in mind? Contrary to what his admirers say, I believe he champions a subtle version of Islamism, defined the full application of Islamic law (Shari’a) in the public sphere.
Several indications point to Sisi having been an Islamist. He was a practicing Muslim who apparently has memorized the Koran. The Financial Times found that his wife wore thehijab (headscarf) and one of his daughters theniqab (the covering that reveals only eyes and hands). The Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, appointed Sisi his defense minister precisely because he saw the then-general as an ally.
While a student in Pennsylvania in 2005-06, Sisi wrote a paper advocating democracy adapted to Islam, one that “may bear little resemblance” to its Western prototype but “will have its own shape or form coupled with stronger religious ties.” His version of democracy did not separate mosque and state but was established “upon Islamic beliefs,” meaning that government agencies must “take Islamic beliefs into consideration when carrying out their duties.” In other words, Shari’a trumps popular will.
Also in that paper, Sisi partially aligned himself with Salafis, those long-bearded and burqa’ed Islamists aspiring to live as Muhammad did. He described the early caliphate not merely as “the ideal form of government” but also “the goal for any new form of government” and he hoped for the revival of “the earliest form” of the caliphate.
It’s certainly possible that Sisi’s views of Islam, like many Egyptians’, have evolved, especially since his break with Morsi two years ago. Indeed, rumors have him affiliated with the radically anti-Islamist Quranist movement, whose leader, Ahmed Subhy Mansour, he cited in his student paper. But Mansour suspects Sisi is “playing with words” and waits to see if Sisi is serious about reform.
Indeed, until we know more about Sisi’s personal views and see what he does next, I understand his speech not as a stance against all of Islamism but only against its specifically violent form, the kind that is ravaging Nigeria, Somalia, Syria-Iraq, and Pakistan, the kind that has placed such cities as Boston, Ottawa, Sydney, and Paris under siege. Like other cooler heads, Sisi promotes Shari’a through evolution and popular support, rather than through revolution and brutality. Non violence, to be sure, is an improvement over violence. But it’s hardly the reform of Islam that non-Muslims hope to see – especially when one recalls that working through the system is more likely to succeed.
True reform requires scholars of Islam, not strongmen, and a repudiation of implementing Shari’a in the public sphere. For both these reasons, Sisi is not likely to be that reformer.
Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.
Comments by Steven Emerson on Fox News have prompted a heated debate over whether predominantly Muslim “no-go” zones exist in Europe. On Jan. 11, Emerson said they “exist throughout Europe … they’re places where the governments like France, Britain, Sweden, Germany don’t exercise any sovereignty. .. you basically have zones where Shariah courts were set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don’t go in, and where it’s basically a separate country almost, a country within a country.”
Although Emerson, whom I admire for his moral courage and investigative skills, immediately apologized for his “terrible error” of saying that cities like Birmingham, England, “are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go,” he did not address the larger question of whether no-go zones, in fact, do “exist throughout Europe” and are places where governments “don’t exercise any sovereignty.”
Is he right about this?
In a 2006 weblog entry, I called Muslim enclaves in Europe no-go zones as a non-euphemistic equivalent for the French phrase Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones. No-go zones subsequently became standard in English to describe Muslim-majority areas in West Europe.
After spending time in the banlieues (suburbs) of Paris in January 2013, as well as in their counterparts in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Malmö, and Stockholm, however, I have had second thoughts. I found that those areas “are not full-fledged no-go zones” — meaning places where the government had lost control of territory. No war lords dominate; Shari’a is not the law of the land. I expressed regret back then for having used the term no-go zones.
So, what are these places? A unique and as-yet un-named mix.
On the one hand, West European states can intervene anywhere and at any time in their sovereign territory. As the shoot-out in Verviers and the subsequent raids in Belgium suggest, their overwhelming advantage in force – including military, intelligence, and police – means they have not ceded control.
On the other hand, governments often choose not to impose their will on Muslim-majority areas, allowing them considerable autonomy, including in some cases the Shariah courts that Emerson mentioned. Alcohol and pork are effectively banned in these districts, polygamy and burqas commonplace, police enter only warily and in force, and Muslims get away with offences illegal for the rest of population.
The Rotherham, England, child sex scandal offers a powerful example. An official inquiry found that for sixteen years, 1997-2013, a ring of Muslim men sexually exploited – through abduction, rape, gang rape, trafficking, prostitution, torture – at least 1,400 non-Muslim girls as young as 11. The police received voluminous complaints from the girls’ parents but did nothing; they could have acted, but chose not to.
According to the inquiry, “the Police gave no priority to CSE [child sexual exploitation], regarding many child victims with contempt and failing to act on their abuse as a crime.” Even more alarming, in some cases, “fathers tracked down their daughters and tried to remove them from houses where they were being abused, only to be arrested themselves when police were called to the scene.” Worse, the girls “were arrested for offences such as breach of the peace or being drunk and disorderly, with no action taken against the perpetrators of rape and sexual assault against children.”
Another example, also British, was the so-called Operation Trojan Horse that flourished from 2007 until 2014, in which (again, according to an official inquiry), a group of school functionaries developed “a strategy to take over a number of schools in Birmingham and run them on strict Islamic principles.”
What does one call Rotherham and Birmingham? They are not no-go zones, neither in terms of geography or sovereignty. This is where we – Emerson, others (such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal), and I stumbled. The English language lacks a readily-available term for this. And for good reason: I know of no historical parallel, in which a majority population accepts the customs and even the criminality of a poorer and weaker immigrant community. The world has never seen anything comparable to the contemporary West’s blend of achievement, timidity, and guilt, of hugely superior power matched by a deep reluctance to use it.
Instead of no-go zones, I propose semi-autonomous sectors, a term that emphasizes their indistinct and non-geographic nature – thus permitting a more accurate discussion of what is, arguably, West Europe’s most acute problem.
By ART MOORE:
In the wake of the Fox News apology for a guest expert’s on-air claims regarding Muslim “no-go zones” in Europe, an international clamor has ensued with condemnation of Fox, claims that Muslim immigrants really do want to assimilate, and a threat by the mayor of Paris to sue the cable network for “insulting” the great city.
There’s only one problem: Europe is full of Muslim “no-go” zones, which have been documented, lamented, reported on and openly discussed for years.
In fact, the governments of France and other European nations have identified specific enclaves, where Muslim immigrants have chosen not to assimilate, as areas in which law enforcement has lost some degree of control.
The French government lists on its website 751 Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones, that the state does not fully control, notes Middle East foreign policy expert Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum.
The French zones, which have specific street demarcations, were first identified by the government in 1996. An estimate that is now 10 years old found 5 million people living in the zones, Pipes noted.
Nevertheless, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo declared Tuesday in a CNN interview the city will sue Fox News after the network’s coverage “insulted” them.
“When we’re insulted, and when we’ve had an image, then I think we’ll have to sue, I think we’ll have to go to court, in order to have these words removed,” Hidalgo said. “The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced.”
On Saturday, “Fox Report” host Julie Banderas told viewers that in the previous week, “We have made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe, particularly with regard to England and France.”
“Now, this applies especially to discussions of so-called ‘no-go zones,’ areas where non-Muslims allegedly aren’t allowed in and police supposedly won’t go.
“To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country … and no credible information to support the assertion that there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion,” Banderas said. “There are certainly areas of high crime in Europe as there are in the United States and other countries – where police and visitors enter with caution. We deeply regret the errors and apologize to any and all who may have taken offense including the people of France and England.”
The New York Times declared in a headline: “Fox News Apologizes for False Claims of Muslim-Only Areas in England and France” while the Atlanta Journal-Constitution blared, “Fox News admits ‘no-go zones’ are fantasy.”
Not so fast, says Robert Spencer, a long-time monitor of the conflict between Islam and Western civilization as editor of Jihad Watch.
He wrote in a Front Page Magazine column that the “only problem with all the cork popping around Fox’s apology was that there is a problem with Muslim areas in Europe – and the Fox apology didn’t go so far as to say there wasn’t.”
Spencer acknowledged inaccurate statements were made by Steven Emerson, director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. In a Fox News interview Jan. 11, Emerson said “there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.”
“That is false, and Emerson has acknowledged that and apologized,” Spencer wrote.
But Emerson was not guilty of fabrication, Spencer quickly asserted, only of overstatement.
A zone in nearly every city
Pipes, who was one of the first to use the term “no-go zone” in reference to Muslims in Europe, noted in 2006 that France’s Sensitive Urban Zones ranged from two zones in the medieval town of Carcassonne to 12 in the heavily Muslim city of Marseilles, with hardly a town in the country lacking one.
Pipes has continuously updated his original 2006 post, citing references by politicians, civil leaders and journalists to “no-go zones” in Britain, Germany and Sweden, as well as France.
Since 2007, Pipes has visited largely Muslim areas of Paris, Copenhagen, Malmö, Stockholm, Berlin and Athens to find out for himself what is happening. He explained that for “a visiting American, these areas are very mild, even dull.”
“We who know the Bronx and Detroit expect urban hell in Europe too, but there things look fine. The immigrant areas are hardly beautiful, but buildings are intact, greenery abounds, and order prevails,” Pipes said.
“These are not full-fledged no-go zones,” he explained, “but, as the French nomenclature accurately indicates, ‘sensitive urban zones.’ In normal times, they are unthreatening, routine places. But they do unpredictably erupt, with car burnings, attacks on representatives of the state (including police), and riots.”
Britain’s chief inspector of constabulary, Tom Winsor, told the Times of London in an interview that parts of the U.K. are becoming no-go areas for police because minority communities are operating their own justice systems.
“There are some communities born under other skies who will not involve the police at all. I am reluctant to name the communities in question, but there are communities from other cultures who would prefer to police themselves,” said Winsor, who is responsible for the inspection of police forces in England and Wales.
“There are cities in the Midlands where the police never go because they are never called. They never hear of any trouble because the community deals with that on its own.”
Read more at WND
Fox News, by Karl de Vries, Jan. 12, 2015
In hundreds of French “no-go” zones — neighborhoods where neither tourists nor cops dare enter — poor and alienated Muslims have intimidated the government into largely ceding authority over them, prompting fears that the kind of jihad that gave rise to last week’s attack in Paris is festering unchecked.
In some ways, these 751 areas designated by the French government — officially called zones urbaines sensibles (sensitive urban zones), or ZUS, for short, but referred to as “no-go” zones by some observers — resemble poor sections of America’s cities where gangs rule, crime and drugs are rampant and police only enter with significant backup. But in the wake of last week’s massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the fact that hundreds of radicalized Muslims who went to train or fight in Syria and Iraq could return, some experts fear the next terror attack will be launched from inside one of France’s no-go zones.
“These ‘no-go’ zones are essentially breeding grounds for radicalism, and it’s a very big problem,” Soeren Kern, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, told FoxNews.com. “These are areas where essentially the French government has lost control.”
Created in 1996, the zones are sprinkled throughout cities and suburbs in rundown neighborhoods France sought to revitalize with tax breaks for businesses. Most of the zones are blocks of neighborhoods, with the average ZUS containing about 6,000 residents. An estimated 5 million people live the zones, and most of the residents are part of France’s 10 percent Muslim population. In some zones, Islamic law actually supersedes the French legal system on civil matters such as property disputes, adultery and divorce.
“Most of the time, these are quiet places with nothing going on,” said Daniel Pipes, the president of the Middle East Forum, a conservative think tank. “But they’re apt to flare up.”
Examples of flare-ups within the last decade include the infamous 2005 riots, when the accidental deaths of two teenagers in an impoverished Paris suburb during a police sweep touched off a national wave of unrest. For the next three weeks, violent clashes between immigrant youths and police took place in nearly 300 towns and suburbs, resulting in the torching of schools, community centers and thousands of cars, as well as nearly 3,000 arrests and an estimated 200 million euros in damage. Two years later, when two minority teenagers were killed after their motorscooter collided with a police car in a blue-collar town on Paris’ northern edge, rioting and arson ensued for several days. That time, however, the rioters — joined by what a police union official called “urban guerrillas” — fought police officers with shotguns and gasoline bombs, injuring dozens.
Part of the problem, say experts, has been an inability of France to assimilate its Muslim population. Unlike America, where each passing generation seems to become more integrated into the national identity, the opposite is true in France, experts say, with the relationship between the overwhelmingly white, Roman Catholic majority and dark-skinned, Muslim immigrant community becoming more estranged in the past decade.
In 2004, the government passed a controversial law prohibiting the wearing of religious apparel in France’s public schools, including Islamic head scarves. The move triggered demonstrations by Muslims around the world. Seven years later, France formally banned full-face veils in public places, ostensibly as a security measure but widely seen as an affront to Islamic custom and a way to make Muslim women feel unwelcome in French society.
As the divide grows, many second- and third-generation Muslim youths, seeking an identity and a sense of belonging, are becoming more religious than their parents and grandparents.
“These kids … have no relationship to Morocco or Algeria at all, but they’re not integrated into French society at all,” Kern said. “In a way, they’re stateless. They get drawn to radical Islam as a way to give them meaning in their life.”
Meanwhile, immigrants, particularly those from northern Africa, have difficulty landing good jobs or climbing in French society. A Newsweek correspondent estimated in August that 40 percent of young French Muslims from immigrant backgrounds are unemployed, and a 2010 Stanford University study found that a Christian of African heritage was two and a half times more likely to get called for a job interview in France than an equally qualified Muslim with the same ethnic background.
With much of the country’s Muslim population living in the downtrodden ZUS, they’re vulnerable to jihadist recruitment. A poll conducted last summer by Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya found that 15 percent of French citizens had a positive opinion of the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS, or ISIL, and last month, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve revealed that twice as many French nationals in 2014 had joined or were planning to join ISIS than in 2013.
“You see these disenfranchised people, and it’s a very good recruitment pool,” said Scott Stewart, the vice president of tactical analysis of Stratfor Global Intelligence. “(Jihadists) are looking for angry, underemployed guys. It’s a good target audience for them.”
Among that audience were the three men linked to last week’s rampage at Charlie Hebdo and the subsequent manhunt that ultimately claimed 17 victims. The brothers behind the attack, Said and Cherif Kouachi, were French citizens of Algerian descent who were known to authorities for years. Cherif, the 32-year-old younger brother, was part of a cell known as the 19th arrondissement network, a group located in northeast Paris that sent European Muslims to fight in Iraq after the U.S.-led 2003 invasion. Along with several others, he was convicted in 2008 on terror charges, but he did not serve any time after conviction because part of his sentence was suspended and he was credited for time served in his pre-trial detention.
It’s also emerged that Said Kouachi, 34, had traveled to Yemen in 2011 and had direct contact with an Al Qaeda training camp. And Amedy Coulibaly, 32, a French citizen of Senegalese descent who claimed to be a compatriot of the brothers and was gunned down Friday at a Kosher grocery store in east Paris after killing four hostages, had declared allegiance to ISIS in a video that emerged on Sunday.
But while authorities piece together the events and causes behind last week’s events, debate is underway on how French authorities should try to assert more oversight and better relations with those in the ZUS.
Kern wants to see European governments crack down on welfare benefits that he believes entice immigrants, particularly for those with polygamous families. Pipes believes the French government should impose more restrictive immigration policies while demanding newcomers embrace western culture and its freedoms of expression.
Michele Lamont, however, a Harvard professor of sociology of African and African-American studies who is an expert on racism in France, fears that a hard-line response would only inflame tensions further. She believes the majority of Muslims want to be integrated with the rest of the French society, and the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks will be a critical time during which the nation’s Muslim population will either be drawn closer to the rest of the country or face further estrangement.
“It pushes all Muslims to make choices about where they stand,” she said.
by Daniel Pipes
Nov 14, 2006
updated Jan 11, 2015
They go by the euphemistic term Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones, with the even more antiseptic acronym ZUS, and there are 751 of them as of last count. They areconvienently listed on one long webpage, complete with street demarcations and map delineations.
What are they? Those places in France that the French state does not control. They range from two zones in the medieval town of Carcassone to twelve in the heavily Muslim town of Marseilles, with hardly a town in France lacking in its ZUS. The ZUS came into existence in late 1996 and according to a 2004 estimate, nearly 5 million people live in them.
Comment: A more precise name for these zones would be Dar al-Islam, the place where Muslims rule. (November 14, 2006)
Nov. 28, 2006 update: For an insight into how bad things are, the police in Lyons demonstrated on Nov. 9, denouncing “violence against the forces of order.” Things have reached a pretty sad state when the police have to demonstrate in the streets against the criminals.
Jan. 5, 2008 update: In a remarkable statement, Michael Nazir-Ali, the Pakistani-born bishop of Rochester, writes in the Daily Telegraph about the situation in Great Britain:
there has been a worldwide resurgence of the ideology of Islamic extremism. One of the results of this has been to further alienate the young from the nation in which they were growing up and also to turn already separate communities into “no-go” areas where adherence to this ideology has become a mark of acceptability. Those of a different faith or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility to them.
Jan. 16, 2008 update: Paul Belien of Brussels Journal provides an update on the ZUS, connecting them to organized crime in a way that helps explain police reluctance to intervene:
In May , the French voters elected Mr. [Nicolas] Sarkozy as president because he had promised to restore the authority of the Republic over France’s 751 no-go areas, the so-called zones urbaines sensibles (ZUS, sensitive urban areas), where 5 million people – 8 percent of the population – live. During his first months in office he has been too busy with other activities, such as selling nuclear plants to Libya and getting divorced. While the French media publish nude pictures of the future (third) Mrs. Sarkozy, the situation in the ZUS has remained as “sensitive” as before.
People get mugged, even murdered, in the ZUS, but the media prefer not to write about it. When large-scale rioting erupts and officers and firemen are attacked, the behavior of the thugs is condoned with references to their “poverty” and to the “racism” of the indigenous French. The French media never devote their attention to the bleak situation of intimidation and lawlessness in which 8 percent of the population, including many poor indigenous French, are forced to live. Muslim racism toward the “infidels” is never mentioned.
Xavier Raufer, a former French intelligence officer who heads the department on organized crime and terrorism at the Institute of Criminology of the University of Paris II, thinks that organized crime has a lot to do with the indifference of the French establishment.
The ZUS are centers of drug trafficking. According to a recent report of the French government’s Interdepartmental Commission to Combat Drug Traffic and Addiction (MILDT) 550,000 people in France consume cannabis on a daily basis and 1.2 million on a regular basis. The annual cannabis consumption amounts to 208 tons for a market value of 832 million euros ($1.2 billion in U.S. dollars). MILDT estimates that there are between 6,000 and 13,000 small “entrepreneurs” and between 700 and 1,400 wholesalers who make a living out of dealing cannabis. The wholesalers earn up to 550,000 euros ($820,000) per year. Since they operate from within the ZUS the drug dealers are beyond the reach of the French authorities.
The ZUS exist not only because Muslims wish to live in their own areas according to their own culture and their own Shariah laws, but also because organized crime wants to operate without the judicial and fiscal interference of the French state. In France, Shariah law and mafia rule have become almost identical.
Mar. 8, 2008 update: Britain has “ethnic” no-go areas for military personnel in uniform, the Times(London) reports today at “Military uniforms in public ‘risk offending minorities’.”
Certain areas in Britain will still have to remain off-limits for servicemen and women in military gear, despite the Government’s desire for a nationwide uniform free-for-all, senior RAF sources acknowledged yesterday. … one senior air force source said that military commanders had to be aware of potential problems of personnel wearing combat and other military clothes in the street. “We’re aware of the sensitivities, for example, in some ethnic minority communities which is why we need to have a dialogue with local authorities and police if we don’t want to cause a problem.”
Mar. 16, 2008 update: John Cornwell, a leading historian and commentator on religion, is generally skeptical of Nazir-Ali’s no-go areas but finds that if anyplace fits the profile, it’s Bury Parkin Luton:
Luton, like other enclaves, has experienced a spate of incidents that look all too like attempts to make Bury Park a no-go area to non-Muslims. Between November of last year and last month there were 18 attacks – all registered by the police – on five non-Muslim homes in the area. One couple, Mr and Mrs Harrop, white residents in their eighties, have had bricks hurled through their windows. The home of Mrs Palmer, a widow of West Indian origin, aged 70, has been attacked four times; on one occasion a metal beer keg crashed through her bay window while she was watching TV.
Such attacks are not typical of the activities of the sort of radicals who preach a global Islamic state, or potential terrorists, who, according to one of my MI5 informants, merge into a background of “innocent normalcy” till the last minute. DCI Ian Middleton of Bedfordshire police says: “It’s the perception of the victims that their Muslim neighbours are to blame, and we have to respect that. But we have our doubts.” Middleton suspects, as does Margaret Moran, MP for Luton South, that the attacks could be the work of small groups of white or Muslim extremists, stirring up racial and inter-religious hatred for its own sake.
I was to come across comparable “no-go” incidents in other parts of Britain, such as threats against Muslim converts to Christianity, and attacks on visiting social workers and Salvation Army facilities.
July 28, 2008 update: For information on the German case, see Kristian Frigelj, “Unter Feinden,”Die Welt. The teaser explains that “In many German urban areas, the police hardly dare enter because they are immediately assaulted.” July 29, 2008 update: For a translation of this article, see “In Enemy Territory.”
Jan. 12, 2009 update: I consider the potential political import of these no-go zones at “Muslim Autonomous Zones in the West?”
July 19, 2010 update: Due to problems with Turkish delinquents, German police want their counterparts from Turkey to come in and patrol problem areas of North Rhine-Westphalia. Also today, Baron Bodissey discusses the general issue of no-go zones at “A Little Piece of Dar al-Islam.”
Aug. 22, 2011 update: Soeren Kern returns to this subject with an important overview at “European ‘No-Go’ Zones for Non-Muslims Proliferating.”
Islamic extremists are stepping up the creation of “no-go” areas in European cities that are off-limits to non-Muslims. Many of the “no-go” zones function as microstates governed by Islamic Sharia law. Host-country authorities effectively have lost control in these areas and in many instances are unable to provide even basic public aid such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services.
The “no-go” areas are the by-product of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged Muslim immigrants to create parallel societies and remain segregated rather than become integrated into their European host nations.
He then surveys developments in the United Kingdom, france, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
Aug. 4, 2012 update: The French Interior Ministry has created a new type of no-go zone, calledZones de Sécurité Prioritaires (ZSP), or Priority Security Zones. The first batch contains 15 of them, basically the Muslim-majority regions of major cities like Lille, Paris, Strasbourg, Lyons, and Marseilles, as well as in French Guyana. Aug. 24, 2012 update: Soeren Kern explains these new zones in “France Seeks to Reclaim ‘No-Go’ Zones.”
Nov. 11, 2013 update: Andrew Harrod discusses the problems in Bonn at “Germany’s Sharia No-Go Zones.”
Oct. 1, 2014 update: The Swedish police published a report on 55 areas of heightened criminal activity under the anodyne title of En nationell översikt av kriminella nätverk med stor påverkan i lokalsamhället (“A national survey of criminal networks with great influence in the local community”). No ethnicity is mentioned but many happen to be regions with Muslim majorities.
Jan. 10, 2015 update: The number of “zones urbaines sensibles” in France has now reached 976.
Jan. 18, 2015 9:09 a.m. UPDATE: The above version of Daniel Pipes article is as it appeared on his website on Jan. 13, 2015 at 9:45 am. Daniel Pipes continues to update his article on no go zones appearing to walk back his use of the term “no go zones”. The update I have highlighted in red above stating that the number of no go zones in France has now reached 976 has since been removed.
This is the updated portion from later that day through Jan. 17, 2015:
Jan. 13, 2015 update: Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, says that most big French cities have “no-go zones” where non-Muslims, including police, cannot enter:
It’s happening right across Europe. We have got no-go zones in most of the big French cities. We’ve been turning a blind eye to preachers of hate that have been coming here from the Middle East and saying things for which the rest of us would be arrested. In parts of northern England we’ve seen the sexual grooming of under-age girls committed by Muslim men, in the majority, and for all of these things we are seeing the law not being applied equally, we’re seeing the police forces not doing their job because we’ve suffered from moral cowardice. We have through mass immigration and through not checking the details of those people who have come to our countries, we have allowed big ghettos to develop and when it comes to confronting tough issues we’re run a mile and that is why we’re in the mess we’re in, we’ve been led very badly. … So, wherever you look, wherever you look you see this blind eye being turned and you see the growth of ghettos where the police and all the normal agents of the law have withdrawn and that is where Sharia law has come in.”
He added that he is “hoping and praying” that similar no-go zones do not develop in British cities.
Could you describe the places you visited in more detail? What were your impressions of these places before you visited them? Did you feel personally safe visiting them? Do you think there is any truth to the claims being made that police and non-Muslims fear to visit them?
I have visited predominantly immigrant (and largely Muslim) areas of Brussels, Copenhagen, Malmö, Stockholm, Berlin, Paris, and Athens. In the case of Paris, I spent time both in Belleville and in such suburbs as Sarcelles, Val d’Oise, and Seine Saint Denis.
Before my travels, I expected these areas to be similar to the worst areas of the United States, such as the Bronx or Detroit, where buildings are decrepit, streets menacing, and outsiders feel distinctly unwelcome.
My experiences starting in 2007 belied this expectation. All the immigrant areas turned out to be well maintained, with safe streets, and no sense of intimidation. I walked around, usually with camera in hand, and felt at ease. I encountered no difficulties at all.
That said, there is a reason why the French government calls these regions sensibles(sensitive, delicate). They contain many social pathologies (unemployment, drugs, political extremism), they seethe with antagonism toward the majority society, and are prone to outbreaks of violence.
So, from an American point of view, these areas are a bit confusing: potentially dangerous, yes, but in normal times very ordinary looking and with no sense of foreboding. Thus, the term no-go zone does not accurately reflect the situation.
Jan. 17, 2015 update: Research into the term no-go zones referring to Muslim habitations in Western Europe done by the pseudonymous Yoel Natan finds its earliest use to be on my website, DanielPipes.org: An Australia resident who calls himself “fed up” wrote on March 22, 2006, that “In Sydney, Australia, we have large areas of our city that are deemed no-go zones.”
The next use was by the Norwegian analyst who calls himself Fjordman, on July 13, 2006, who defined “Muslim no-go zones” as places “where anything representing a Western institution (post office truck, firemen, even mail order delivery firms) was routinely ambushed with Molotov cocktails.”
Then came my use of the term on November 14, 2006.
An epidemic of recent high-profile attacks by Muslims in the name of Islam – in Canada, Israel, Nigeria, Australia, Pakistan, and France – raises an obvious question: How do the Islamist perpetrators figure that murdering an honor guard, driving cars into pedestrians, slaughtering non-Muslim bus passengers, taking hostage the patrons of a café, or massacring army kids and cartoonists will achieve their goal of applying Islamic law and building a caliphate?
Logically, their violence only helps if it terrorizes their enemies and compels them to bend to the Islamists’ wishes; intimidation, after all, is the essence of terrorism. Sometimes, Islamist terrorism does achieve this objective. For example, to stay out of trouble, a sizeable number of artists have censored themselves concerning Islam; and the botched government response to the 2004 Madrid train bombings helped the opposition party win an election, then withdraw Spanish forces from Iraq.
As a rule, however, terrorism leads not to intimidation but to anger and hostility. Instead of cowing a population, it raises consciousness and provokes hatred for the Islamist cause among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Rather than advance the Islamist cause, high profile acts of violence harm it. Some prominent examples:
The cover of “Charlie Hebdo” that most bothered Islamists.
Ironically, obscure acts of terror do not have this counterproductive effect. To take one of many examples, when an Egyptian Muslim beheaded two Coptic Christians in New Jersey in 2013, few took notice and little anger ensued. Because of reluctance among police, politicians, the press, and the professoriate, most jihadi-style attacks of this nature tend not to publicized, thus avoiding an increase in anti-Islamic sentiments. (Sadly, those with a duty to protect too often hide the truth.)
If high-profile violence is counterproductive, why do Islamists persist in this self-defeating behavior? Out of anger andbecause of a violent disposition.
Yusuf Ibrahim beheaded two Egyptian Christians in New Jersey – and hardly anyone noticed.
Anger: Islamists, especially the more extreme ones, exude bitterness, bile, resentment, and envy. They celebrate the medieval period, when Muslims were the richest, most advanced, and most powerful of peoples, and interpret Muslim decline as the result of Western duplicity and betrayal. Only by striking back righteously at these conniving Crusaders and Zionists can Muslims regain their rightful place of honor and power. Expressing anger becomes an end in itself, leading to myopia, an inability to plan, an absence of strategic thinking, and pulsating grandiosity.
A violent disposition: Exulting in their sense of direct knowledge of God’s will, Islamists favor violence. To make the enemy cower in fear, then smite him is the ultimate Islamist dream, a fulfillment of intense ill will, a triumph of Islam’s superiority over other religions and those Muslims who lack the fire of their faith. Suicide bombings, beheadings, gangland-style murders, and other acts of grotesque recrimination express a deep desire for vengeance.
In the long term, then, these acts of violence do immense damage to the Islamist cause. Turned around, the victims of that violence – some 10,000 fatalities in 2,800 attacks in 2013 alone – did not die in vain but unwittingly sacrificed their lives in a dreadful war of wills. Targeted assassinations, such as those against the French cartoonists, have an outsized impact on public opinion.
In sum, self-indulgence and strategic ineptitude are the hallmarks the Islamist campaign. The catastrophe of the Islamist program is matched by the ineptitude of its tactics. And so, I conclude, its fate will be the same dust-heap of history where fascism and communism can be found. Like those two other totalitarianisms, it promises terrible destruction and many deaths before ultimately failing. The war will be long and painful but in the end, again, the forces of civilization will vanquish those of barbarism.
The recent drumbeat of terrorism in the name of Islam may appear to help the Islamist cause. In fact, it brings its agenda closer to a deserved collapse.