Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Preaching of Islam and the Left’s Alliance with Islamists (Pt. 1)

Published on May 8, 2017 by The Rubin Report

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Human Rights Activist) joins Dave Rubin to discuss the challenge of Dawa (the preaching or proselytizing of Islam), the left’s alliance with Islamists, intersectionality, the indoctrination occurring on college campuses, and more. *This episode was filmed on location, not in The Rubin Report studio.

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Sharia Law and Political Islam (Pt. 2)

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Female Genital Mutilation and “Islamophobia” (Pt. 3)

U.N. Survey: 3 Out of 4 Men and over Half of Women in Egypt Support FGM

Photo/Amr Nabil

Breitbart, by John Hayward, May 3, 2017:

A new United Nations surveyof male attitudes toward “gender equality” finds precious little appetite for it across the Middle East.

“Male attitudes towards the role of women in the workplace and at home, and of their participation in public life, were stereotypically sexist in the study of views in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Palestine,” writes the UK Guardian in summarizing the report.

Egypt scored the lowest on the report’s “Gender Equitable Men” scale and is the source of the most striking headlines. For example, CNS News reports that “70 percent of Egyptian men approve of female genital mutilation.” For that matter, 56 percent of Egyptian women also voiced approval for the hideous procedure, which is illegal but not unheard-of, in much of the world.

Egyptian men also supplied 90 percent agreement with the statement that “a man should have the final word about decisions in the home,” and 58.5 percent of Egyptian women agreed. Only 31 percent of Egyptian men thought married women have the same rights to work outside their homes as men. 93 percent of men thought a husband should “know where his wife is at all times.” 96 percent thought a wife should agree to sex whenever her husband desires it.

53.4 percent said “there are times when a woman deserves to be beaten.” 90 percent agreed that “a woman should tolerate violence to keep the family together.” Roughly 45 percent of Egyptian men said they had been violent to their wives.

Only 25.7 percent of male Egyptian respondents said that women should “have the same freedom to access sites on the Internet as men.”

Egyptian women were significantly more supportive of women’s rights on most of these questions, although one point of agreement concerned women at work. While women were over twice as likely as men to say that women should have the right to work, they largely agreed that it was more important for men to work when jobs were scarce and that marriage was more important for women than a career.

Inability to find work was a major source of shame, anxiety, and depression for men.

The survey noted that younger men and women, especially younger women, were more likely to support gender equality. Of the regions surveyed, Egypt scored lowest on the Gender Equitable Men scale, while Lebanon scored the highest.

Morocco produced some alarming results about sexual harassment, with over half of men saying they have sexually harassed a woman, and over 60 percent of women reporting they have been harassed. A higher percentage of female Moroccans (78 percent) agreed that provocatively dressed women deserve harassment than men (72 percent).

The survey, which was conducted by UN Women and a non-profit organization called Promundo, involved 10,000 respondents in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and the Palestinian territories.

Mohammad Naciri, regional director of Arab States UN Women, looked for optimistic signs in the report. “Amidst the stories of men’s violence against women, we found stories of men’s caregiving in the home. For every story of a man who compelled his daughter to marry against her will, there were stories of men who empowered their daughters,” he said.

“The patriarchy works for the very small minority who are on the top of that pyramid,” lead researcher Shereen El Feki told the BBC. “For the rest down below, lots of women, but also from the results of the survey, many, many men, life is very tough.”

Promundo CEO Gary Barker told Reuters that “everywhere else we have done these research… young men typically have more progressive views that their fathers and the older generation. That was not so here.”

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Also see:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Islam’s Most Eloquent Apostate

ILLUSTRATION: ZINA SAUNDERS

WSJ, by Tunku Varadarajan, April 7, 2017:

The woman sitting opposite me, dressed in a charcoal pantsuit and a duck-egg-blue turtleneck, can’t go anywhere, at any time of day, without a bodyguard. She is soft-spoken and irrepressibly sane, but also—in the eyes of those who would rather cut her throat than listen to what she says—the most dangerous foe of Islamist extremism in the Western world. We are in a secure room at a sprawling university, but the queasiness in my chest takes a while to go away. I’m talking to a woman with multiple fatwas on her head, someone who has a greater chance of meeting a violent end than anyone I’ve met (Salman Rushdie included). And yet she’s wholly poised, spectacles pushed back to rest atop her head like a crown, dignified and smiling under siege.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born in Somalia in 1969, is Islam’s most eloquent apostate. She has just published a slim book that seeks to add a new four-letter word—dawa—to the West’s vocabulary. It describes the ceaseless, world-wide ideological campaign waged by Islamists as a complement to jihad. It is, she says, the greatest threat facing the West and “could well bring about the end of the European Union as we know it.” America is far from immune, and her book, “The Challenge of Dawa,” is an explicit attempt to persuade the Trump administration to adopt “a comprehensive anti-dawa strategy before it is too late.”

Ms. Hirsi Ali has come a long way from the days when she—“then a bit of a hothead”—declared Islam to be incapable of reform, while also calling on Muslims to convert or abandon religion altogether. That was a contentious decade ago. Today she believes that Islam can indeed be reformed, that it must be reformed, and that it can be reformed only by Muslims themselves—by those whom she calls “Mecca Muslims.” These are the faithful who prefer the gentler version of Islam that she says was “originally promoted by Muhammad” before 622. That was the year he migrated to Medina and the religion took a militant and unlovely ideological turn.

At the same time, Ms. Hirsi Ali—now a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, where I also work—is urging the West to look at Islam with new eyes. She says it must be viewed “not just as a religion, but also as a political ideology.” To regard Islam merely as a faith, “as we would Christianity or Buddhism, is to run the risk of ignoring dawa, the activities carried out by Islamists to keep Muslims energized by a campaign to impose Shariah law on all societies—including countries of the West.”

Dawa, Ms. Hirsi Ali explains, is “conducted right under our noses in Europe, and in America. It aims to convert non-Muslims to political Islam and also to push existing Muslims in a more extreme direction.” The ultimate goal is “to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with Shariah.” It is a “never-ending process,” she says, and then checks herself: “It ends when an Islamic utopia is achieved. Shariah everywhere!”

Ms. Hirsi Ali contends that the West has made a colossal mistake by its obsession with “terror” in the years since 9/11. “In focusing only on acts of violence,” she says, “we’ve ignored the Islamist ideology underlying those acts. By not fighting a war of ideas against political Islam—or ‘Islamism’—and against those who spread that ideology in our midst, we’ve committed a blunder.”

There is a knock on the door. I hear hushed voices outside, presumably her bodyguard telling someone to come back later. To add to the mildly dramatic effect, a siren is audible somewhere in the distance, unusual for the serene Stanford campus. Ms. Hirsi Ali is unfazed. “What the Islamists call jihad,” she continues, “is what we call terrorism, and our preoccupation with it is, I think, a form of overconfidence. ‘Terrorism is the way of the weak,’ we tell ourselves, ‘and if we can just take out the leaders and bring down al Qaeda or ISIS, then surely the followers will stop their jihad.’ But we’re wrong. Every time Western leaders take down a particular organization, you see a different one emerge, or the same one take on a different shape. And that’s because we’ve been ignoring dawa.”

Ms. Hirsi Ali wants us to get away from this game of jihadi Whac-A-Mole and confront “the enemy that is in plain sight—the activists, the Islamists, who have access to all the Western institutions of socialization.” She chuckles here: “That’s a horrible phrase . . . ‘institutions of socialization’ . . . but they’re there, in families, in schools, in universities, prisons, in the military as chaplains. And we can’t allow them to pursue their aims unchecked.”

America needs to be on full alert against political Islam because “its program is fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution”—with religious pluralism, the equality of men and women, and other fundamental rights, including the toleration of different sexual orientations. “When we say the Islamists are homophobic,” she observes, “we don’t mean that they don’t like gay marriage. We mean that they want gays put to death.”

Islam the religion, in Ms. Hirsi Ali’s view, is a Trojan horse that conceals Islamism the political movement. Since dawa is, ostensibly, a religious missionary activity, its proponents “enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or fascists did in the past.” Ms. Hirsi Ali is not afraid to call these groups out. Her book names five including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which asserts—and in turn receives in the mainstream media—the status of a moderate Muslim organization. But groups like CAIR, Ms. Hirsi Ali says, “take advantage of the focus on ‘inclusiveness’ by progressive political bodies in democratic societies, and then force these societies to bow to Islamist demands in the name of peaceful coexistence.”

Her strategy to fight dawa evokes several parallels with the Western historical experience of radical Marxism and the Cold War. Islamism has the help of “useful idiots”—Lenin’s phrase—such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has denounced Ms. Hirsi Ali as an “extremist.” She sees that smear as a success for dawa: “They go to people like the SPLC and say, ‘Can we partner with you, because we also want to talk about what you guys talk about, which is civil rights. And Muslims are a minority, just like you.’ So, they play this victim card, and the SPLC swallows it. And it’s not just them, it’s also the ACLU. The Islamists are infiltrating all these institutions that were historic and fought for rights. It’s a liberal blind spot.”

Western liberals, she says, are also complicit in an Islamist cultural segregation. She recalls a multiculturalist catchphrase from her years as a Somali refugee in Amsterdam in the early 1990s: “ ‘Integrate with your own identity,’ they used to tell us—Integratie met eigen identiteit. Of course, that resulted in no integration at all.”

Ms. Hirsi Ali wants the Trump administration—and the West more broadly—to counter the dawa brigade “just as we countered both the Red Army and the ideology of communism in the Cold War.” She is alarmed by the ease with which, as she sees it, “the agents of dawa hide behind constitutional protections they themselves would dismantle were they in power.” She invokes Karl Popper, the great Austrian-British philosopher who wrote of “the paradox of tolerance.” Her book quotes Popper writing in 1945: “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

I ask Ms. Hirsi Ali what her solution might be, and she leans once more on Popper, who proposed a right not to tolerate the intolerant. “Congress must give the president—this year, because there’s no time to lose—the tools he needs to dismantle the infrastructure of dawa in the U.S.” Dawa has become an existential menace to the West, she adds, because its practitioners are “working overtime to prevent the assimilation of Muslims into Western societies. It is assimilation versus dawa. There is a notion of ‘cocooning,’ by which Islamists tell Muslim families to cocoon their children from Western society. This can’t be allowed to happen.”

Is Ms. Hirsi Ali proposing to give Washington enhanced powers to supervise parenting? “Yes,” she says. “We want these children to be exposed to critical thinking, freedom, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the rights of women.” She also suggests subjecting immigrants and refugees to ideological scrutiny, so as to deny entry, residence and naturalization to those “involved with, or supportive of, Islamism.”

In effect, Ms. Hirsi Ali would modernize the “communism test” that still applies to those seeking naturalization. “I had to answer questions when I applied for citizenship in 2013: ‘Are you, or have you ever been, a communist?’ And I remember thinking, ‘God, that was the war back then. We’re supposed to update this stuff!’ Potential immigrants from Pakistan or Bangladesh, for instance, should have to answer questions—‘Are you a member of the Jamat?’ and so on. If they’re from the Middle East you ask them about the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘or any other similar group,’ so there’s no loophole.”

Might critics deride this as 21st-century McCarthyism? “That’s just a display of intellectual laziness,” Ms. Hirsi Ali replies. “We’re dealing here with a lethal ideological movement and all we are using is surveillance and military means? We have to grasp the gravity of dawa. Jihad is an extension of dawa. For some, in fact, it is dawa by other means.”

The U.S., she believes, is in a “much weaker position to combat the various forms of nonviolent extremism known as dawa because of the way that the courts have interpreted the First Amendment”—a situation where American exceptionalism turns into what she calls an “exceptional handicap.” Convincing Americans of this may be the hardest part of Ms. Hirsi Ali’s campaign, and she knows it. Yet she asks whether the judicial attitudes of the 1960s and 1970s—themselves a reaction to the excesses of Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s—might have left the U.S. ill-equipped to suppress threats from groups that act in the name of religion.

I ask Ms. Hirsi Ali if there’s any one thing she would wish for. “I would like to be present at a conversation between Popper and Muhammad,” she says. “Popper wrote about open society and its enemies, and subjected everyone from Plato to Marx to his critical scrutiny. I’d have liked him to subject Muhammad’s legacy to the same analysis.

“But he skipped Muhammad, alas. He skipped Muhammad.”

Mr. Varadarajan is a research fellow in journalism at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

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Also see:

The Big Shut-Up

By Mark Steyn, Steyn on the WorldApril 3, 2017:

Over the weekend, I swung by Judge Jeanine’s show to talk about one of the most malign trends of our time: the ever more open refusal by one side to permit those on the other side to speak. As I always say, I don’t care what side you pick on the great questions of the age – climate change, gay marriage, Islam, transgendered bathrooms, whatever – but, if you’re on the side that says the other guy isn’t entitled to a side, you’re on the wrong side. Here’s how I put it to Judge Jeanine:

That Tweetaway takeaway is correct: They don’t want to participate in the debate, and win it. It’s easier to shut it down and save themselves the trouble. Case in point:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Tour Cancelled

Citing security issues, the Somalian-born activist calls off her scheduled Australian tour…

Let’s just expand that “Somali-born activist” précis a little. She’s not a dead white male like me or Charles Murray. As someone once said, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is everything the identity-group fetishists profess to dig: female, atheist, black, immigrant. But, because she does not toe the party line on Islam, her blackness washes off her like a bad dye job on a telly anchorman – and so do her femaleness and godlessness and immigrant status. And in the end she is Charles Murray, or Geert Wilders – or even David Duke. A black Somali woman is, it turns out, a “white supremacist“.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is someone who fled genital mutilation and arranged marriage in a backward, barbarous society to come to the west and live in freedom. Her first stop was the Netherlands. But the director of the film she wrote, Theo van Gogh, was murdered in the street, and the man who shot him then drove two knives through what was left of his chest pinning to it a five-page death-threat promising to do the same to Ayaan. So she was forced to leave the Netherlands, and has lived with round-the-clock security ever since. Now she has to cross Australia off the list, too. Where’s next? Can she speak in Sweden? Or Canada? Ireland or Germany? She left Somalia to live as a western woman, only to watch the west turn itself into Somalia, incrementally but remorselessly, at least as far as free speech is concerned.

It began, as it always does, respectably enough. Four hundred Muslim women in Australia – academics, social workers, diversicrats, supposed “human-rights activists” – signed a petition objecting to her tour Down Under but all artfully crafted in the usual weaselly more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger shtick, concluding with:

Australia deserves better than this.

Aww, that’s so cute! Did you all tilt your heads in unison and group-furrow your brows into concerned expressions? The petition title’s a doozy too:

Ayaan Hirsi-Ali [sic] Does Not Speak For Us

Well, she never claimed to, did she? You’re all Muslim women, and she’s a non-Muslim woman. She’s left Islam. Which makes her an apostate, which is one more reason why she lives with round-the-clock death threats. Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks for herself. Why don’t you try that? Why don’t you try engaging in debate, in argument, in the free exchange of ideas? Or is it easier to insist that supposed freeborn citizens can only “speak for” the collective monolithic position of identity groups?

Next came something called the “Council for the Prevention of Islamophobia”. Hey, we’re all against Islamophobia, aren’t we? (At least at the House of Commons in Ottawa.) But how exactly are we supposed to “prevent” it? Enter the Council’s enforcer, Syed Murtaza Hussain, who isn’t quite as cuddly as all those Australia-deserves-better-that’s-not-who-we-are types:

Its insurers were contacted and warned there could be trouble, and venues where she was scheduled to speak had been contacted and warned that there would be protests where she was due to appear…

[Hussain] informed Festival Hall in Melbourne there would be 5000 protesters outside the venue if the engagement went ahead.

Nice little Festival Hall you’ve got there. Shame if anything were to happen to it.

As Brendan O’Neill observes:

Hirsi Ali’s troubles in Australia are striking because they point to a really worrying interplay between the polite intolerance of ‘Islamophobia’ and the more violent urge in certain sections of society to punish and maybe even kill critics of Islam.

As I say wearily for the umpteenth time, the defenders of Section 18 in Oz and the MPs who voted for M-103 in Canada and the jelly-spined non-entity of a university president who canceled Ayaan’s appearance at Brandeis, on the one hand, and, on the other, the men who slaughtered the Charlie Hebdo staff and shot up Lars Vilks’ event in Copenhagen and firebombed the Norwegian comedienne Shabana Rehman’s family restaurant are merely different points on the same continuum: they’re all in the shut-up business. And they’re all hustling us further along the same dark retreat into silence.

But as I wrote a few years ago:

After the threats against the Comedy Central show South Park the other week, Ms. Hirsi Ali turned up on CNN to say that the best defence against Islamic intimidation is for us all to stand together and thereby “share the risk.” But, around the world, every single translator of her books has insisted on total anonymity. When push comes to shove, very few are willing to share the risk. The British historian Andrew Roberts calls her “the bravest woman I know.”

I agree with Robert. The problem is that for Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s bravery to be effective depends on the tour promoters’ bravery. And the tour promoters’ bravery depends on whichever hotel group she’s booked with to be brave. And the hotel group’s bravery depends on whichever corporate entity owns the event venues to be brave. And the corporate entity’s bravery depends on the insurers’ bravery. And the insurers’ bravery depends on someone ponying up an extra gazillion dollars for security costs. And suddenly for the cost of a bare-bones speech by one brave woman you could mount The Phantom Of The Opera meets Avatar on ice and still come out ahead.

I have had the privilege of sharing stages with Ayaan Hirsi Ali at various places around the world from London to California. It wasn’t that long ago, but it feels already like the past – a previous era, just the day before yesterday but already the rules have changed. In 2015, I spoke in Copenhagen at an event to mark the tenth anniversary of the famous “Mohammed cartoons”. As on the fifth anniversary, it required the protection of PET, the Danish security police. But this time, as an additional precaution, it had to be moved inside the fortress-thick walls of the Danish Parliament in order to lessen further the likelihood of fellows who regard debate as a waste of time (and, indeed,an affront) busting in and shooting us all. Nevertheless, notwithstanding all the security, both the US State Department and the British Foreign Office issued formal warnings advising their nationals to steer clear of the Parliament building that day.

These things are always a little stressful: as recent incidents at Westminster and Ottawa illustrate, even national parliaments are not as “secure” as they appear. So we were looking forward to unwinding at dinner afterwards at what looked like a fine, convivial restaurant. Unfortunately, after the PET agents showed up for the advance-security check, the restaurateurs got cold feet and canceled on us. As my fellow speaker Douglas Murray commented:

Ten years ago, you could publish depictions of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. Ten years later, it is hard for anyone who has been connected with such an act to find a restaurant in Copenhagen that will serve them dinner.

And in another ten years? Douglas, Ayaan and I will still enjoy theoretical freedom of speech but, to exercise it, we’ll have to meet in an abandoned mine-shaft an hour south of Cloncurry, speaking to seven personally invited guests driven there blindfolded. The marketplace of ideas, from Canberra to Copenhagen, is shrinking fast. To quote Laura Rosen Cohen yet again: “Security” is the new “shut up”.

Why is restoring free speech to Australia by scrapping Section 18C so important? The most dismal moment of my own Aussie tour last year was a private dinner with a group of well-known conservative Members of Parliament – that’s to say, men and women reliably to the right of the current Prime Minister, a finger-in-the-windy jelly-spined squish on freedom of expression and so much else. Yet, even dining with supposed sturdier types, the most eminent among our number declared breezily that repealing 18C was “not a first-order priority”, not compared to what he regarded as the real first-order priority: Islamic terrorism in Australia and elsewhere.

I pointed out that one of the reasons why the former (free speech) most certainly is a first-order priority is because, without it, the latter (Islam and the west) cannot be honestly addressed. And so it has proved, yet again.

Malcolm Turnbull’s ministry ought to be ashamed that a woman like Ayaan Hirsi Ali cannot speak in the country they purport to govern. And, if they want to do something to change that, they could start by speaking up for free speech. Will they? Will Turnbull? The men and women who run the western world – in Oz, in Britain, in Canada, in Europe – have made a bet that they can banish a few loudmouths like Ayaan Hirsi Ali to the fringes but that otherwise life will go on. No, it won’t. As I said of that Copenhagen eatery:

The restaurant that chickened out is called Fiat, in King’s New Square. It looks rather convivial from this photograph, with everyone quaffing their bubbly without a care in the world. They don’t seem to grasp that such civilized pleasures require civilization, and, ultimately, people willing to defend it.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is learning the hard way that very few people are willing to “share the risk”.

Political Islam Is Today’s Anti-American ‘Long March Through The Institutions’

The Federalist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, March 27, 2017:

The following is an excerpt of the Hoover Institution publication “The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It,” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. You may read the full report here. ​ This excerpt was originally published in Defining Ideas. ​Copyright © 2017 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.

It is refreshing and heartening that President Trump acknowledges the need for an ideological campaign against “radical Islam.” This deserves to be called a paradigm shift.

President Bush often referred to a “war on terror,” but terror is a tactic that can be used for a variety of ideological objectives. President Obama stated that he was opposed to “violent extremism” and even organized an international summit around this subject. Yet at times he made it seem as if he worried more about “Islamophobia” than about radical Islam.

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, Obama declared: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” In what follows, however, I shall refer to “political Islam” rather than radical Islam.

Political Islam is not just a religion as most Western citizens recognize the term “religion,” a faith; it is also a political ideology, a legal order, and in many ways also a military doctrine associated with the campaigns of the Prophet Muhammad. Political Islam rejects any kind of distinction between religion and politics, mosque and state. Political Islam even rejects the modern state in favor of a caliphate. My central argument is that political Islam implies a constitutional order fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution and with the “constitution of liberty” that is the foundation of the American way of life.

Yes, Islamists Have Everything to Do with Islam

There is no point in denying that political Islam as an ideology has its foundation in Islamic doctrine. However, “Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Muslims” are distinct concepts. Not all Muslims are Islamists, let alone violent, but all Islamists—including those who use violence—are Muslims. I believe the religion of Islam itself is indeed capable of reformation, if only to distinguish it more clearly from the political ideology of Islamism. But that task of reform can only be carried out by Muslims.

Insisting that radical Islamists have “nothing to do with Islam” has led U.S. policy makers to commit numerous strategic errors since 9/11. One is to distinguish between a “tiny” group of extremists and an “overwhelming” majority of “moderate” Muslims. I prefer to differentiate among Medina Muslims, who embrace the militant political ideology adopted by Muhammad in Medina; Mecca Muslims, who prefer the religion originally promoted by Muhammad in Mecca; and reformers, who are open to some kind of Muslim Reformation.

These distinctions have their origins in history. The formative period of Islam can be divided roughly into two phases: the spiritual phase, associated with Mecca, and the political phase that followed Muhammad’s move to Medina. There is a substantial difference between Qur’anic verses revealed in Mecca (largely spiritual in nature) and Qur’anic verses revealed in Medina (more political and even militaristic). There is also a difference in the behavior of the Prophet Muhammad: in Mecca, he was a spiritual preacher, but in Medina he became a political and military figure.

It cannot be said often enough that the United States is not at war with Islam or with Muslims. It is, however, bound to resist the political aspirations of Medina Muslims where those pose a direct threat to our civil and political liberties. It is also bound to ensure that Mecca Muslims and reforming Muslims enjoy the same protections as members of other religious communities who accept the fundamental principles of a free society. That includes protection from the tactics of intimidation that are so central to the ideology and practice of political Islam.

Background on Today’s State of Affairs

The conflict between the United States and political Islam in modern times dates back to at least 1979, when the U.S. embassy in Tehran was seized by Islamic revolutionaries and 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days. In the decades that followed, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania reminded Americans of the threat posed by political Islam.

But it was not until the 9/11 attacks that political Islam as an ideology attracted sustained public attention. The September 11, 2001, attacks were inspired by a political ideology that has its foundation in Islam, specifically its formative period in Medina.

Since 9/11, at least $1.7 trillion has been spent on combat and reconstruction costs in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The total budgetary cost of the wars and homeland security from 2001 through 2016 is more than $3.6 trillion. Yet in spite of the sacrifices of more than 5,000 armed service personnel who have lost their lives since 9/11 and the tens of thousands of American soldiers who have been wounded, today political Islam is on the rise around the world.

Violence is the most obvious—but not the only—manifestation of this trend. Jihadist groups have proliferated all over the Middle East and North Africa, especially where states are weak and civil wars rage (Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Syria, not forgetting northern Nigeria). Islam-inspired terrorists also have a global reach. France is in a permanent state of emergency, while the United States has been profoundly shaken by terror attacks in Boston (the Marathon bombers); Fort Hood, Texas; San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida; and Ohio State University, to name but a few.

Of the last 16 years, the worst year for terrorism was 2014, with 93 countries experiencing attacks and 32,765 people killed. The second worst was 2015, with 29,376 deaths. Last year, four radical Islamic groups were responsible for 74 percent of all deaths from terrorism: the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Boko Haram, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. Although the Muslim world itself bears the heaviest burden of jihadist violence, the West is increasingly under attack.

How large is the jihadist movement in the world? In Pakistan alone, where the population is almost entirely Muslim, 13 percent of Muslims surveyed—more than 20 million people—said that bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies.

Disturbingly, the number of Western-born Muslim jihadists is sharply increasing. The United Nations estimated in November 2014 that some 15,000 foreign fighters from at least 80 nations have traveled to Syria to join the radical jihadists. Roughly a quarter of them come from Western Europe.

Yet the advance of political Islam manifests itself not only in acts of violence. Even as billions are spent on military intervention and drone strikes, the ideological infrastructure of political Islam in the United States continues to grow because officials are concerned only with criminal conspiracies to commit acts of violence, not with the ideology that inspires such acts.

According to one estimate, 10−15 percent of the world’s Muslims are Islamists. Out of well more than 1.6 billion, or 23 percent of the globe’s population, that implies more than 160 million individuals. Based on survey data on attitudes toward sharia in Muslim countries, total support for Islamist activities in the world is likely significantly higher than that estimate.

What Scholarship on Political Islam Says

There are two sets of academic literature aimed at helping policy makers grapple with the threat of radical Islam. In the first set, Islamic religious ideas form a marginal factor at best. Authors such as John Esposito, Marc Sageman, Hatem Bazian, and Karen Armstrong argue that a combination of variables such as poverty and corrupt political governance lies at the root of Islamic violence. They urge the U.S. government and its allies to tackle these “root causes.”

For these authors, devoting attention to religious motives is at best irrelevant, and at worst a harmful distraction. They are not concerned about political Islam as an ideology, only about individual acts of violence committed in its name.

A second set of scholars—which is growing in importance—sees a radical ideology derived from Islamic theology, principles, and concepts as the driving force of our current predicament. Scholars such as Michael Cook, Daniel Pipes, Jeffrey Bale, and David Cook, and authors such as Paul Berman and Graeme Wood, acknowledge that factors such as poverty and bad governance are relevant, but argue that U.S. policy makers should take seriously the religious ideology that underlies Islamist violence.

The failed polices since 9/11 (and even before) in the struggle against radical Islam were built on false premises derived from the first set of literature, which absolves Islam wholly of the atrocities that it inspires. As the failure of American strategy since 2001 has become increasingly clear, however, the view has gained ground that the ideology underlying Islamist violence must be tackled if our efforts are to be successful.

This view is not only held by a few Western scholars. All over the world, there are now Muslims who are engaged in a long-overdue process of reassessing Islamic thought, scripture, and laws with a view to reforming them. These Muslim reformers can be found in positions of leadership in some governments, in universities, in the press, and elsewhere. They are our natural allies. An important part of our future policies in the war on Islamic extremism should be to encourage and empower them.

It’s Time to Understand Dawa

From 9/11 until now, the dominant Western response to political Islam has been to focus only on “terror” and “violent extremism.” This approach has failed. In focusing only on acts of violence, we have ignored the ideology that justifies, promotes, celebrates, and encourages those acts. By not fighting a war of ideas against political Islam (or “Islamism”) as an ideology and against those who spread that ideology, we have made a grave error.

If Islamism is the ideology, then dawa encompasses all the methods by which it is spread. The term “dawa” refers to activities carried out by Islamists to win adherents and enlist them in a campaign to impose sharia law on all societies. Dawa is not the Islamic equivalent of religious proselytizing, although it is often disguised as such by blending humanitarian activities with subversive political activities.

Dawa as practiced by Islamists employs a wide range of mechanisms to advance the goal of imposing Islamic law (sharia) on society. This includes proselytization, but extends beyond that. In Western countries, dawa aims both to convert non-Muslims to political Islam and to bring about more extreme views among existing Muslims. The ultimate goal of dawa is to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with strict sharia. Islamists rely on both violent and nonviolent means to achieve their objectives.

Dawa is to the Islamists of today what the “long march through the institutions” was to twentieth-century Marxists. It is subversion from within, the use of religious freedom in order to undermine that very freedom. After Islamists gain power, dawa is to them what Gleichschaltung  (synchronization) of all aspects of German state, civil, and social institutions was to the National Socialists.

There are of course differences. The biggest difference is that dawa is rooted in the Islamic practice of attempting to convert non-Muslims to accept the message of Islam. As it is an ostensibly religious missionary activity, proponents of dawa enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or fascists did in the past.

Worse, Islamist groups have enjoyed not just protection but at times official sponsorship from government agencies duped into regarding them as representatives of “moderate Muslims” simply because they do not engage in violence. Islamist groups that have been treated in this way include:

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)
The Islamic Society of Boston

For organizations engaging in dawa, the main elements of the strategy are:

  • to have well-organized Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood claim to speak on behalf of all Muslims, while marginalizing Muslim reformers and dissidents.
  • to take ownership of immigration trends to encourage the “Islamization” of Western societies by invoking hijra, the emigration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina.
  • to reduce women to the status of reproductive machines for the purpose of demographic transformation.
  • to take advantage of the focus on “inclusion” by progressive political parties in democratic societies, then to force these parties to accept Islamist demands in the name of peaceful coexistence.
  • to take advantage of self-consciously progressive movements, effectively co-opting them.
  • to increase Islamists’ hold over the educational system, including some charter schools, “faith” schools, and home schooling.

Typically, Islamists study target societies to identify points of vulnerability. In the United States, Islamists focus on vulnerable African-American men within prison populations, as well as Hispanic and Native American communities. Recent targets of Islamist infiltration include the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter.

Agents of dawa also systematically lobby private-sector organizations, governments, and international bodies:

  • They seek to pressure governments to accede to Islamist demands on the grounds of freedom of religion or status as a religious minority.
  • They urge the United Nations and the European Council to combat “Islamophobia” by devising what amounts to censorship guidelines for politicians and journalists and by punishing those who dissent.
  • They press institutions such as the Associated Press to distort the language they use to suit Islamist objectives.
  • They wage sustained campaigns to discredit critics of radical Islam.

The Sinews of Dawa

The global infrastructure of dawa is well funded, persistent, and resilient. From 1973 through 2002, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia spent an estimated $87 billion to promote dawa efforts abroad. Josh Martin estimates that, since the early 1970s, Middle Eastern charities have distributed $110 billion, $40 billion of which found its way to sub-Saharan Africa and contributed heavily to Islamist ideological indoctrination there.

Nongovernmental organizations in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia continue to distribute large sums overseas to finance ideological indoctrination and activities. Powerful foundations such as the Qatar Foundation continue to grant financial support and legitimacy to radical Islamic ideology around the world.

Many Islamic charitable foundations use zakat (mandatory charity) funds to mix humanitarian outreach with ideological indoctrination, laying the ground for future intolerance, misogyny, and jihad, even if no violence is used in the short term. When informal funding mechanisms are included, the zakat funds available could reach “hundreds of billions of dollars” worldwide each year.

The Key Problem Is Using Our Freedoms to End Them

Let it be said explicitly: The Islamists’ program is fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, religious tolerance, the equality of men and women, the tolerance of different sexual orientations, and other fundamental human rights.

The biggest challenge the United States faces in combating political Islam, however, is the extent to which agents of dawa can exploit the constitutional and legal protections that guarantee American citizens freedom of religion and freedom of speech—freedoms that would of course be swept away if the Islamists achieved their goals.

In 2010, one senior American intelligence analyst summed up our predicament: “In the US there are First Amendment issues we’re cognizant of. It’s not a crime to radicalize, only when it turns to violence . . . America is thus vulnerable to a threat that is not only diversifying, but arguably intensifying.”

To give just one example: A cleric in Maryland, Imam Suleiman Bengharsa, has openly endorsed the Islamic State, posted gruesome videos, and praised terrorist attacks overseas. As of February 2017, however, he remains a free man and U.S. authorities insist nothing can be done against him because he has not yet plotted to commit a specific act of violence. One expert has said that Imam Bengharsa “can take his supporters right up to the line. It’s like making a cake and not putting in the final ingredient. It’s winks and nods all the way.” This is what we are up against.

The global constitution of political Islam is formidable. The Muslim Brotherhood, with its numerous American affiliates, is an important component, but not the only one. Even if one were able to eliminate the Brotherhood overnight, the ideological infrastructure of dawa would remain powerful. The network of radical Islamist preachers, “charities,” and organizations that perpetuate political Islam is already well established inside and outside the United States.

To resist the insidious advance of political Islam, we need to develop a strategy to counter not only those who use violence to advance their politico-religious objectives—the jihadists—but also the great and complex ideological infrastructure known as dawa, just as we countered both the Red Army and the ideology of communism in the Cold War. Focusing only on “terror” as a tactic is insufficient. We ignore at our peril the ideological infrastructure that supports political Islam in both its violent and its nonviolent forms.

It is not just that jihad is an extension of dawa; according to some observers, it is dawa by other means. Put differently, nonviolent and violent Islamists differ only on tactics; they share the same goal, which is to establish an unfree society ruled by strict sharia law. Institutionally, nonviolent Islamists have benefited from terror attacks committed by jihadists because such attacks make nonviolent Islamists appear moderate in the eyes of Western governments, even when their goals and values are not. This is known as the “positive radical flank effect. Ian Johnson, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, observed:

Al Qaeda was the best thing to happen to these [Islamist] groups. Nowadays, our bar is so low that if groups aren’t Al Qaeda, we’re happy. If they’re not overtly supporting terrorism, we think they’re okay. We don’t stop to think where the terrorism comes from, where the fish swim.

Dawa must therefore be countered as much as jihad.

Yet, as things stand, dawa cannot be countered. Its agents hide behind constitutional protections they would dismantle unhesitatingly were they in power. In 2017, Congress must therefore give the president the tools he needs to dismantle the infrastructure of dawa in the United States and to counter the spread of political Islam at home and abroad.

While recognizing that our freedoms are sacrosanct, we must also remember the wise words of Karl Popper, who memorably identified what he called “the paradox of tolerance,” namely that “unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance.”

If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.

But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols.

We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.

Ayaan is a fellow at The Harvard Kennedy School, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
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This was a very good debate that took place in 2010. It is worth watching again if you have time:

On This ‘Day Without a Woman,’ Don’t Leave Women Oppressed by Sharia Law Behind

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY LYNE LUCIEN/THE DAILY BEAST

The Daily Beast, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, March 8, 2017:

Wednesday is International Women’s Day, and the organizers of the Women’s March are holding another protest. This one is called A Day Without a Woman, in solidarity with those women who have lower wages and experience greater inequalities.

The protest encourages women to take the day off work, avoid shopping other than in small women- and minority-owned stores, and wear red.

The problems being protested against Wednesday—inequality, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity—are all too real for many disadvantaged women, but the legal protections for them are in place here in the United States. Women who are unfairly treated at work or discriminated against can stand up, speak out, protest in the streets, and take legal action. Not so for many women in other parts of the world for whom the hashtag #daywithoutawoman is all too apt.

Around the world women are subjected to “honor violence” and lack legal protections and access to health and social services. According to Amnesty International’s recent annual report, throughout the Middle East and North Africa, women and girls are denied equal status with men in law and are subject to gender-based violence, including sexual violence and killings perpetrated in the name of “honor.”

The relationship between the sexes in Muslim majority countries is inspired and often governed by a mix of tribal, traditional practices and Islamic law. Algerian author Kamel Daoud recently referred to this system as entailing “sexual misery” for both men and women throughout the Islamic world.Daoud favors the full emancipation of Muslim women, yet many commentators criticized him as being guilty of “Islamophobia,” a term increasingly used to silence meaningful debate.

International Women’s Day should be a day to raise our voices on behalf of women with no recourse to protect their rights. Yet I doubt Wednesday’s protesters will wave placards condemning the religious and cultural framework for women’s oppression under Sharia law. As a moral and legal code, Sharia law is demeaning and degrading to women. It requires women to be placed under the care of male guardians; it views a woman’s testimony in court as worth half that of a man’s; and it permits a husband to beat his wife. It’s not only women’s legal and sexual freedoms that are curtailed under Sharia but their economic freedoms as well. Women generally inherit half of the amount that men inherit, and their male guardian must consent to their choosing education, work, or travel.

In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and parts of Nigeria, where Sharia law underpins the judicial system, women’s rights suffer greatly.

There is a growing trend among some feminists to make excuses for Sharia law and claim it is nothing more than a personal moral guide, and therefore consistent with American constitutional liberties. Yet the rules that such “Sharia-lite feminists” voluntarily choose to follow are also invoked to oppress women—to marry them off, to constrain their economic and human rights, and to limit their freedom of expression—who have not consented to them. The moral conflict between Sharia and universal human rights should not be dismissed as a misunderstanding, but openly discussed.

Many Western feminists struggle to embrace universal women’s rights. Decades ago, Germaine Greer argued that attempts to outlaw female genital mutilation amounted to “an attack on cultural identity.” That type of deference to traditional practices, in the name of cultural sensitivity, hurts vulnerable women. These days, relativism remains strong. Too many feminists in the West are reluctant to condemn cultural practices that clearly harm women—female genital mutilation, polygamy, child marriage, marital rape, and honor violence, particularly in non-Western societies. Women’s rights are universal, and such practices cannot be accepted.

The revival of part of the women’s movement, catalyzed by the election of Donald Trump, has deeper roots than can be seen on the surface. Like Wednesday’s protest, a large portion of Western feminism has been captured by political ideologues and postmodern apologists. Rather than protecting women’s rights, many feminists are focused on signaling opposition to “right-wing” politics.

One of the organizers of the Women’s March movement recently tweeted: “If the right wing is defending or agreeing with you, you are probably on the wrong side. Re-evaluate your positions.”

I’m all for dissent, but that “us vs. them” mentality has caused political gridlock, even on humanitarian issues where the left and right should work together. Hostility and intolerance to others’ views have made rational discussion on important issues taboo. A robust defense of universal women’s rights should welcome support from both the left and the right, overcoming domestic partisan divisions in order to help women abroad attain their full rights.

This International Women’s Day, we should protest the oppression of women who have no access to legal protections. We should support those Muslim reformers, such as Asra Nomani, Zuhdi Jasser, and Irshad Manji, who seek to reform Islam in line with full legal equality between men and women. And we should strive to overcome domestic political divisions to defend the universality of women’s rights.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford, and the founder of the AHA Foundation, which exists to protect women and girls from abuses of the sort described in this article.

Also see:

VanNess: Linda Sarsour, Women’s March Organizer and Fake Feminist

THEO WARGO/GETTY IMAGES/AFP

THEO WARGO/GETTY IMAGES/AFP

Breitbart, by Alex Vanness, Febtuary 3, 2017:

Linda Sarsour is a principal organizer for Woman’s March on Washington following President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Her rise to liberal stardom following the march has occurred in spite of her support for anti-feminist views and outrageous attacks on anti-Sharia women leaders.

Sarsour, who serves as the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY) and who was honored by former-President Obama’s White House as a “champion of change,” seems as if she makes it a point to attach herself to every social justice cause known to man and tie it to Palestine. For example, in November, she attached herself to the cause of blocking Dakota Access Pipeline and made sure to bring her Palestinian flag.

This shameless promotion could also be seen at the Women’s March as well. When addressing the crowd, she made sure to inject some Palestinian solidarity into the cause, stating “you can count on [her], your Palestinian Muslim sister to keep her voice loud.” She also made sure to note that she was her “Palestinian grandmother’s who lives in occupied territory wildest dream.”

However, her biggest splash that weekend was when the level of her hypocrisy towards the cause espoused by the Woman’s March was pointed out to the public.

Specifically, a tweet of Sarsour’s dismissing the misogynistic views of Saudi Arabia simply because the country has a paid maternity leave program, has been making the rounds on social media.

linda-sarsour-tweet-saudi-maternity-leave-2016

Sarsour dismisses the fact that women in Saudi Arabia are treated as second-class citizens who are unable to drive, interact with men, and dress as they please as inconsequential.

In addition to her dismissal of Saudi subjugation of women, she has attacked a documentary calling attention to the plight of women in the Islamic world. Sarsour has been a vocal critic of the executive producer of the film, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch Parliamentarian, ex-Muslim, and vocal critic of Islam who was also the victim of female genital mutilation.

In 2011, Sarsour took to twitter and vulgarly berated Hirsi Ali; and ACT for America founder, Brigitte Gabriel, and said, “I wish I could take their vaginas away – they don’t deserve to be women.” This is especially in vulgar considering the suffering Hirsi Ali has endured. Shortly after the tweet was uncovered, instead of owning up to the vulgar tweet and apologizing, she tried to delete it before it was seen by too many people.

sarsour-ayaan-hirsi-ali-tweet-2011

Sarsour also has a long history of criticizing Israel in ways that cross the line into anti-Semitism and terrorist sympathizing.

She supports the discriminatory and terror-tied BDS Movement and has claimed that “nothing is creepier” than Zionism.

She called for solidarity with Muhammad Allan, a member of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad who has a history of recruiting suicide bombers.

After her hypocrisy towards Woman’s issue’s was exposed, she defended herself by describing attacks on her as fascist, claiming “Fascism is here” and that “[w]e cannot allow them to criminalize our leaders and movements using baseless claims… Remember, we are and can be the true #NeverAgain generation.”

She describes those supporting her as her “Love Army.” To them, legitimate criticisms of both her views and her associations ring hollow.

Groups that sponsored the march – including the official twitter account of Woman’s March, Human Rights Watch, Black Lives Matter, Amnesty International, and the Southern Poverty Law Center – have launched a full scale defense of Sarsour. The hashtag #IMarchWithLinda trended on Twitter.

Cable news personality Sally Kohn issued several tweets defending Sarsour, including calls for people to donate to the AAANY. I don’t think Kohn is aware that the AAANY used to receive financial support from Qatar Foundation International, an organization closely linked to the Qatari government. Additionally, because of her ties to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, the AAANY was able to secure $500,000 in funding for the AAANY.

Sarsour also received several celebrity endorsements from, among others, Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, and Russell Simmons.

Hey, if Mark Ruffalo likes her she must be good, right?

While personal attestations are nice, they are not proof that someone’s even a good person. Even terrible people can find someone who thinks they’re nice.

Those supporting her do not care that she promotes terrorists; they don’t care that she vulgarly called for a victim of female genital mutilation to have her genitalia removed; and they are not concerned that she downplays misogyny in Saudi Arabia. As far as they’re concerned, she helped set up a March so therefore she’s the bees knees.

Sarsour is seen as a rising star in leftist circles and the Democratic Party.   The left needs to take the blinders off and take a long, hard look at the people they’re propping up as role models.

Alex VanNess is the director of the Middle East Peace & Security Project at The Center for Security Policy.

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Also see: