UK: The Interfaith Industry

Leading interfaith activists such as Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg have defended working with extremist institutions by claiming, “We have to take risks to engage with each other. The Jewish community will be far weaker if we all shelter within a comfort zone labeled ‘They all hate us out there’.”

As the British Islamist preacher Haitham Al-Haddad noted, not only do Islamist groups employ interfaith dialogue as a deception, but it is a deception that is crucial: “We are talking about minorities living in the West so we have to provide them with workable solutions in the short run. … It is not the far ultimate aim of Muslims because the far ultimate aim for Muslims is to have Islam governing the whole world, Islamization of the whole globe.”

Unfortunately, honorable activities do not only attract those with honorable intentions. Over the next decade, religious extremists may, in all likelihood, continue to foster violence and hatred in Britain. Should government really be in the business of promoting homophobes, anti-Semites and supporters of terror by continuing to fund, with taxpayers’ money, interfaith networks so closely involved with the extremists themselves?

by Samuel Westrop:

Interfaith dialogue is a powerful industry in Britain. Many hundreds of groups receive many hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ funds to promote dialogue between groups of different faith. On the face of it, such initiatives appear to indicate progress and civilized discussion. But what sorts of groups are involved with the world of interfaith?

download (31)The Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom

The largest umbrella group in Britain for interfaith initiatives is the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom(IFN). Founded in 1987, the IFN claims it works to “promote understanding and respect” between different faith groups.[1]

The IFN has received millions of pounds of taxpayers’ funds: 80% of the IFN’s budget, in fact, is taxpayers’ money.[2] In 2011 alone, the Department for Communities and Local Government granted £373,990 to the IFN.[3]

In July 2013, a delegate to an IFN meeting in Birmingham told the conference that he had heard a senior interfaith official claim that “Jews were a disease.”[4] The delegate then denounced a number of groups present at the conference for their collaboration with signatories to the Istanbul Declaration, a document that calls for attacks on British troops and Jewish communities.[5]

The IFN’s stated aims, then, are clearly at odds with the views held by some of its membership.

The IFN’s executive committee includes Ayub Laher,[6] who is part of the ultra-conservative Deobandi movement. Laher belongs to Jamiat Ulama-e-Britain (JuB), the representative body of Deobandi scholars in Britain, whose Pakistani partner, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, is “directly affiliated” to Pakistani Deobandi seminaries with close ties to the Taliban.[7] The Pakistani group’s leader, Fazlur Rehman, described in Pakistan as a “patron of jihad,” has stated that his organization and the Ayub Laher’s JuB “have a unanimity of thought and ideology.”[8]

From 2011-12, the IFN’s co-chairman was Dr. Manazir Ahsan (although his term expired in July of this year, he remains a member of the IFN’s executive committee), a leading British Muslim activist who helped to coordinate the riots in the UK against Salman Rushdie after the publication of his book, The Satanic Verses. Manazir Ahsan was, in addition, a founder of the UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs, which organized book burnings and protests, and called for the book to be banned and Rushdie to be prosecuted.[9]

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Islamist Assassinations in the West

by Daniel Pipes
Gatestone Institute
February 25, 2013

Terrorism broadly takes two forms: against random individuals who happen to be at a market place or on a bus at the wrong time; or against specific individuals because of who they are. The latter in turn divides into two: against broad categories of people (the military, Jews, people who wear eyeglasses) and against specific public figures, either individuals or institutions. In effect, these last are assassinations (defined by Merriam-Webster as “to murder (a usually prominent person) by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons”).

Horrific as the first two genres are, assassinations are the most terrifying and effective. Whereas the first two can happen to anyone and have the effect of creating a universal but vague dread, the third focuses on a small pool of targets and sends a specific signal to others not to follow in their footsteps. In general, therefore, assassinations inspire the most consequential fear, intimidate the most, and have the greatest consequences.

Actual public Western victims of Islamist violence have included:

  • 1980: Ali Akbar Tabataba’i, Iranian dissident, in the United States*
  • 1980: Faisal Zagallai, Libyan dissident, in the United States
  • 1990: Rashad Khalifa, Egyptian religious innovator, in the United States*
  • 1990: Meir Kahane, Israel politician of American origins, in the United States*
  • 1991: Hitoshi Igarashi, Japanese translator of The Satanic Verses*
  • 1991: Ettore Capriolo, Italian translator of The Satanic Verses
  • 1993: William Nygaard, Norwegian publisher of The Satanic Verses
  • 2004: Theo van Gogh, Dutch artist*
  • 2010: Kurt Westergaard, Danish cartoonist
  • 2010: Lars Vilks, Swedish artist
  • 2010: Jyllands-Posten, Danish newspaper
  • 2012: Charlie Hebdo, French satiric magazine
  • 2013: Lars Hedegaard, Danish historian and political analyst

Notes: * indicates a fatality. Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi, head of the Libyan government, was an Islamist in 1980. I do not list here victims of Muslim but non-Islamist assassinations, such as Malcolm X in 1965 or the attempt on the pope in 1981. For the record, a Palestinian Christian killed Robert Kennedy in 1968.

Statistical comments:

(1) Other than one isolated attack in 2004, this listing of 13 inexplicably divides into two distinct periods, seven in 1980-93 and five in 2010-13.

(2) Listed by their identity, the victims include 8 connected to culture and the arts, 3 political figures, 1 religious one, and 1 analyst. Of the eight cultural attacks, 4 involved cartoons, 3 Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, and one a movie, Submission.

(3) Geographically, 8 took place in Europe, 4 in the United States, and one in Japan. Of the European cases, three took place in tiny Denmark. Britain and Germany are conspicuously missing from this list. Oddly, the 4 American instances took place in either 1980 or 1990.

(4) State involvement can be discerned only in the first 3 cases (Iranian, Libyan, and Saudi, respectively).

(5) In terms of deadliness, 5 attacks led to a fatality, 8 did not.

Lars Hedegaard presented Daniel Pipes with the Danish Free Press Society award in March 2007.

 

And a personal note by way of conclusion: the Feb. 5 attack on Hedegaard – a friend and colleague at the Middle East Forum – inspired me to compile this listing in the hopes that aggregating these loathsome crimes will help wake more Westerners to the danger within.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum.

A Muhammad Cartoon a Day

By Daniel Pipes:

When Salman Rushdie mocked Islamic sanctities in 1989 in his magical realist novel The Satanic Verses, Ayatollah Khomeini did something shockingly original: He pronounced a death edict on Rushdie and all those connected to the production of his book. By doing this, Khomeini sought to impose Islamic mores and laws on the West; we don’t insult the prophet, he effectively said, and neither can you.

That started a trend of condemning those in the West deemed anti-Islamic that persists to this day. again and again, when Westerners are perceived as denigrating Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam, Islamists demonstrate, riot and kill.

Khomeini’s edict also had the unexpected side effect of empowering individuals – Western and Islamist alike – to drive their countries’ policies.

On the Western side, Fleming Rose, a newspaper editor, created the greatest crisis for Denmark since World War II by publishing twelve Muhammad cartoons. Florida pastor Terry Jones caused panic for American commanders in Afghanistan by threatening to burn a Koran. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and friends prompted a crisis in U.S. relations with Egypt with an amateurish video, Innocence of Muslims. By publishing vulgar pictures of Muhammad, French weekly Charlie Hebdo is causing the French government temporarily to shut down diplomatic missions in twenty countries. Plans by the German satirical magazine Titanic to publish attacks on Muhammad have likewise caused German missions to be closed.

On the Islamist side, an individual or group took one of these perceived offenses and turned it into a reason to riot. Khomeini did this with The Satanic Verses and Ahmad Abu Laban did likewise with the Danish cartoons. Hamid Karzai goaded Afghans to riot over burned Korans by American soldiers and Egyptian preacher Khaled Abdullah turned Innocence of Muslims into an international event.

In brief, any Westerner can buy a Koran for a dollar and burn it, while any Muslim with a platform can transform that act into a fighting offense. As passions rise on both sides of the democratized Western / Muslim divide, Western provocateurs and Islamist hotheads have found each other and confrontations occur with increasing frequency..

Which prompts this question: What would happen if publishers and managers of major media reached a consensus, “Enough of this intimidation, we will publish the most famous Danish Muhammad cartoonevery day until the Islamists tire out and no longer riot”? What would happen if instances of Koran burning happened recurrently?

Would repetition inspire institutionalization, generate ever-more outraged responses, and offer a vehicle for Islamists to ride to greater power? Or would it lead to routinization, to a wearing out of Islamists, and a realization that violence is counter-productive to their cause?

I predict the latter, that a Muhammad cartoon published each day, or Koranic desecrations on a quasi-regular basis, will make it harder for Islamists to mobilize Muslim mobs. Were that the case, Westerners could once again treat Islam as they do other religions – freely, to criticize without fear. That would demonstrate to Islamists that Westerners will not capitulate, that they reject Islamic law, that they are ready to stand up for their values.

So, this is my plea to all Western editors and producers: display the Muhammad cartoon daily until the Islamists get used to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.

Kurt Westergaard’s 2005 image of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.