Extremism Advances in the Largest Muslim Country

Religious police enforce a Shariah dress code in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Sept. 10. PHOTO: CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

WSJ, by Benedict Rogers, 

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, has long stood as a role model for religious pluralism. That’s changing. Political Islam and violent extremism have been taking root in society and may soon do so in the government. President Joko Widodo’s choice of Ma’ruf Amin, a 75-year-old cleric, as his running mate in next year’s election marks an ugly turn for Indonesian politics.

Religious minorities had regarded Mr. Widodo as their defender. His rival, retired general Prabowo Subianto, was expected to play the religion card, questioning the incumbent’s Islamic credentials and building a coalition supported by radical Islamists. By choosing Mr. Amin, the president’s defenders argue, he not only has neutralized the religion factor, but might have prevented it from spilling over into violence against minorities. In office, they believe, Mr. Amin will be contained.

Yet Mr. Subianto is unlikely to be deterred from playing identity politics, and rumors that Mr. Amin is reaching out to radical Islamists for support are troubling. Mr. Amin has a history of intolerance. He signed a fatwa that put a Widodo ally, Jakarta’s former Gov. Basuki Tjahaja “Ahok” Purnama, in jail on blasphemy charges. Ahok, who is Christian and ethnically Chinese, was a symbol of Indonesia’s diversity, and as a popular governor was expected to be re-elected. Instead he lost after rivals told Muslims not to vote for a non-Muslim.

Mr. Amin also signed the anti-Ahmadiyya fatwa in 2005, which led to severe restrictions and violence against the Ahmadiyya, an Islamic sect some Muslims regard as heretical. I met recently with Ahmadis in Depok, a Jakarta suburb, where their mosque is closed. The previous week they were visited by 15 local officials ordering them to stop all activities.

Mr. Amin has been behind other repressive measures, including restrictions on the construction of places of worship, proposals to criminalize homosexuality, support for female genital mutilation and local Shariah laws.

Indonesia’s pluralism has come under increasing threat. Local authorities, under pressure from Islamic extremists, forced hundreds of churches to close. While there have been few closures since Mr. Widodo took office, the Rev. Gomar Gultom, general secretary of Indonesia’s Communion of Churches, says “there has been no justice for old cases.” Authorities continue to misuse blasphemy laws. A Buddhist woman in North Sumatra was jailed for 18 months for asking a mosque to turn down the volume on its loudspeakers.

Last month a foreign scholar who has lived in Indonesia for more than half a century told me of a Muslim man who asked his 12-year-old son what he had learned at school one day. “We learned about kafir”—infidels—his son replied. When the father asked what they had learned, the boy replied: “We learned that they must be killed.”

Last year, in Yogyakarta, a Christian man told me his 15-year-old daughter’s best friend, a Muslim, had told her that they could no longer be friends: “After Ahok’s case, my God does not allow me to be friends with people like you.”

These anecdotes are reinforced by news footage that shows marching children at a kindergarten in east Java, dressed in black robes and face veils, wielding realistic-looking toy rifles, with the theme “Fight with the Messenger of Allah to Increase Faith and Piety.” As Mr. Gultom told me, “The seed of radicalization has spread throughout Indonesia.”

Religious intolerance and terrorism aren’t the same, but as the Wahid Foundation’s Alamsyah M. Djafar told me, “if intolerance increases, the threat of radicalism increases, and that will change the face of Indonesia.” And on May 13 a family of suicide bombers attacked three churches in Surabaya within minutes of each other. The parents strapped explosives onto their daughters, 6 and 8, and their teenage sons. At least 13 people were killed.

Three months later, I visited all three churches. I heard two key messages, which offer some hope for Indonesia. The first was from the victims, and can be summed up in one word: forgiveness. Father Aloysius Widyawan, a priest at Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church, told me that the consistent message from his parishioners was: “We must love others, we forgive the attackers, we do not want revenge.” One woman who lost two sons, 8 and 12, in the attacks, said: “I have already forgiven the bombers. I don’t want to cry anymore. I know that our Mother Mary also lost her son, Jesus. I forgive.”

The second message was from Muslims who reject extremism. Within hours of the bombings, they came to clear up the wreckage. At Jakarta’s cathedral that evening, two Muslim women arrived at Mass, offering red and white roses, the colors of Indonesia’s flag.

President Trump’s administration has made the promotion of international religious freedom a priority. If it is serious, the U.S. should work to strengthen the voices of moderate Indonesian Muslims. At the same time, Indonesian politicians whose heart is with the defenders of pluralism must stop playing identity politics and stand up to the preachers of hate. If they don’t, Indonesia’s pluralism is in increasing peril, which will have grave consequences beyond Southeast Asia.

Mr. Rogers is East Asia Team Leader at the international human-rights organization CSW and author of “Indonesia: Pluralism in Peril—the Rise of Religious Intolerance Across the Archipelago” (2014).

Mattis’ Islam Denial: ‘Insider Killings’ Are Counterinsurgency Killings

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and General John Nicholson meet with Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security Director Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai and members of the Afghan delegation at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool Photo via AP)

PJ Media, by Andrew G. Bostom, September 15, 2018:

Trolling for yet more evidence of ignorance and incompetence, Bob Woodward’s crude smear job, Fearwitlessly documented something else altogether: President Trump’s honest, moral understanding of the Afghanistan morass, and its unconscionable impact on our troops:

At a July 2017 National Security Council meeting, Trump dressed down his generals and other advisers for 25 minutes, complaining that the United States was losing, according to Woodward. “The soldiers on the ground could run things much better than you,” Trump told them. “They could do a much better job. I don’t know what the hell we’re doing.” He went on to ask: “How many more deaths? How many more lost limbs? How much longer are we going to be there?”

The continuing phenomenon of so-called “insider killings,” or “green on blue attacks”—where a member of the Afghan Muslim security forces (military or police), in uniform, turns his weapon on U.S. troops, killing or wounding them—validates Trump’s grave concerns.

When U.S. Army Sergeant Major Timothy Bolyard, on his 7th deployment, was murdered by one of our Afghan “ally” insider killers (and Afghan National Policeman), on Spetember 3, he was the highest-ranking enlisted soldier of the Army’s latest advisory brigade dispatched to Afghanistan. Two months earlier, in July, Corporal Joseph Maciel of Task Force 1st Battalion, another unit under the umbrella command of 1st Security Force Brigade, was similarly killed at the Tarin Kowt Airfield in Afghanistan’s southeast Uruzgan Province. An additional two U.S. service members were wounded during this “insider” attack.

Following the July killing and wounding, Gen. Mark Milley, Army chief of staff, notedthat the three soldiers shot were protecting members of the new U.S. advisory brigade that deployed to Afghanistan for the first time just five months beforehand. He stated the Army was moving ahead with plans to create more of the training brigades for deployment, primarily, in Afghanistan. Gen. Milley then added that despite the (July) attack, he would not, “change the mission of the new advisory teams—working closely with their Afghan partners.”

After Sgt Maj Bolyard’s killing less than two weeks ago, Defense Secretary Gen. Mattis concurred, making plain the “advisory” program would continue apace, without questioning either its basic safety for U.S. military personnel, or strategic validity, despite a comprehensive report by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, which determined that “training” Afghan security forces continuously for over a decade had been an abject failure. Mattis averred only that “Afghan leaders” had “increased [the] vetting going on… they are bringing in more people that we have helped train to know how to do it, to make certain we’re catching people who have been radicalized.”

Mattis’ comments about “increased vetting” by Afghan leadership to detect “radicalization,” and subsequent remarks at a Pentagon 9/11 remembrance ceremony characterizing the mass murderous jihad terror attacks as “hatred disguised in false religious grab,” are depressingly consistent with his development and evangelistic application of  the counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine. COIN, as adapted by Mattis in 2006 to Muslim battlegrounds, rivets upon his thoroughly bowdlerized view of mainstream, sharia-based Islam, and the creed’s central institution of jihad warfare. John Dickerson’s 2010 hagiography of General Mattis describes the key feature of the COIN manual—“a new concept of risk: troops use less force and accept more short-term vulnerability to build ties with locals that will bring longer-term security”—and how Mattis conceived and acted upon this overarching directive. Mattis “called in experts in Arab culture to lead cultural sensitivity classes.” He also:

…constantly toured the battlefield to tell stories of Marines who were able to show discretion and cultural sensitivity in moments of high pressure,” insisting his troops ” accept more immediate risks—to not shoot, to remove helmets — in order to plant seeds for future peace. [E]ven at the end of the heaviest fighting [in Fallujah, Iraq], Mattis met with sheiks to continue the effort to win over the locals.

With her singular clarity, Diana West, in a June,2010 essay, further identified the Gordian knot intertwining Mattis’ COIN doctrine and our troops’ hideously self-destructive Afghanistan rules of engagement [ROEs]—which she aptly termed “a post-modern form of human sacrifice”:

It is this COIN theory that is directly responsible for the unconscionably restrictive ROEs that have been attracting media attention, a postmodern form of human sacrifice staged to appease the endlessly demanding requirements of political correctness regarding Islam. There is no separating the two. If we have COIN, we have these same heinous ROEs.

Careful re-reading of a May 12, 2011, unclassified report by a U.S. Army “Red Team,” commissioned at the outset of a spate of “insider attacks”—applying Mattis’ “COIN tactics,” notwithstanding—revealed the yawning gap between U.S. (and Canadian) soldiers, and Afghans. The report was based upon extensive interviews with U.S. and NATO troops. It showed they were (understandably) disgusted with, and highly suspicious of practices and behaviors of their Afghan military “allies,” the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and Afghan National Army (ANA.), as well as Afghan civilians, sanctioned by traditional Islam, and/or the indigenous culture:

US soldiers… reported pervasive illicit drug use, massive thievery, personal instability, dishonesty, no integrity, incompetence, unsafe weapons handling, corrupt officers, no real NCO [non-commissioned officer] corps, covert alliances/informal treaties with insurgents, high AWOL rates, bad morale, laziness, repulsive hygiene, and the torture of dogs (“given the standing of dogs in Islam.”). Perceptions of civilians were also negative stemming from their insurgent sympathies and cruelty towards women and children.

The report also noted:

… numerous accounts of Canadian troops in Kandahar complaining about the rampant sexual abuse of children they have witnessed ANSF personnel commit, including the cultural practice of  bacha bazi [dancing boys], as well as the raping and sodomizing of little boys.

U.S. soldiers were absolutely revolted by such “abuse and neglect” of Afghan children, while excoriating the “poor treatment and virtual slavery of women in Afghan society,” which they found “repugnant.”

But the most critical observation, diametrically opposed to the delusive and dangerous premises of Mattis’ Islam-bowdlerized COIN doctrine, appeared on page 50, item No. 40, regarding recommendations about how to counter the Afghan attacks on U.S. soldiers:

Better educate US soldiers in the central tenets of Islam as interpreted and practiced in Afghanistan. Ensure that this instruction is not a sanitized, politically correct training package, but rather includes an objective and comprehensive assessment of the totalitarian nature of the extreme theology practiced among Afghans.

The report lamented, in an edifying and alarming elaboration (on p. 38), that a majority of ANSF members believed self-immolating homicide bombers attained “salvation,” while U.S. soldiers killed in action did not. Concordantly, most ANSF members accepted that killed “infidel” U.S. soldiers were condemned to Hell. Moreover, the report further warned about ANSF “religious officers” who espoused that such homicide bombers are Islamic martyrs who gain “Paradise,” and/or promoted the notion that these homicide bombers’ actions are justified. Such Afghan Muslim views, in turn, reiterate classical, authoritative—not “radicalized”—Islamic doctrine on jihad and jihad martyrdom from Islam’s most important canonical sources, i.e., the Koran (see Koran 9:11143:7036:5655:7037:48 on martyrdom, and Islam’s cosmic brothel for Muslims, vs. 98:6 mandating Hell for non-Muslims), and the traditions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad (“hadith,” such as Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Numbers 53 and 54).

A contemporaneous February 17, 2011, Washington Post story demonstrated how the U.S. military’s utter failure of imagination engendered the absurd belief that U.S. largesse would solve a millennium of Afghan Muslim hatred of Jews and other infidels, and the related historic use of mosques to foment and physically supply murderous jihadism. In Kabul’s largest and most famous “blue” mosque, distinguished cleric Enayatullah Balegh pledged support for “any plan that can defeat” foreign military forces in Afghanistan, excoriating what he called “the political power of these children of Jews.” Balegh, who was also a professor of Islamic law at Kabul University, stated in an interview, “I don’t think even a single Afghan is happy with the presence of the foreign military forces here.” May 2011, the Vancouver Sun ran a story about Canadian journalist Mellissa Fung’s “chilling memoir” of her experiences (during 2008) in Afghan captivity for 28 days—stabbed, confined in a dark prison hole, and raped, while being held for ransom. Noting that her captors were not “hardcore” Taliban, Fung characterized them (all too benignly) as a “cunning” family business that abducted foreigners for ransom. Most significantly, one of her captors shared this honest and pathognomonic observation which still eludes Mattis and his COIN-indoctrinated military policymakers: “We are all the same. Taliban is Afghanistan. Afghanistan is Taliban.”

Segue forward 7 years to the resurgent Afghan Muslim vox populi Taliban three months ago in June, and their announcement marking the end of Ramadan, 2018. Admonishing the infidel “American invaders” to  leave Afghanistan, while assuring Afghan Muslims of a bright, fully-sharia compliant future, Taliban leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada claimed it had already liberated “vast areas” of the country—an assessment quite consistent with the latest SIGAR accounting that the Taliban contested or controlled over 40 percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts  The good sheik’s message, reiterating traditional Islamic Jew hatred (as Kabul University “academic,” and prominent cleric Enayatullah Balegh had done 7-years before), also denounced the U.S. relocation of our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which further exposes the absolute hatred of American officials towards Islam.”

Almost a century ago, aviation pioneer and nonpareil “poet of the air” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, recounted a mid-1920s episode of “insider” killings of French officers in the North African desert by their ostensible Muslim “ally,” one al-Mammun. Per Diana West’s apt characterization in 2012, “beneath the simple language, the French writer conveys a terrible, irreconcilable truth about Islamic redemption through infidel blood,” Chapter 3 of de Saint-Exupéry’s Wind, Sand, and Stars describes the setting, which foreshadows the grisly event.

Here were men who had never seen a tree, a river, a rose; who knew only through the Koran of the existence of gardens where streams run, which is their name for Paradise. In their desert, Paradise and its beautiful captives could be won only by bitter death from an infidel’s rifle-shot, after thirty years of a miserable existence. But God had tricked them, since from the Frenchmen to whom he grants these treasures he exacts payment neither by thirst nor by death. And it was upon this that the chiefs now mused… I had known of Mammun when he was our vassal. Loaded with official honors for services rendered, enriched by the French Government and respected by the tribes, he seemed to lack for nothing that belonged to the state of an Arab prince. And yet one night, without a sign of warning, he had massacred all the French officers in his train, had seized camels and rifles, and had fled to join the refractory tribes in the interior. Treason is the name given to these sudden uprisings, these flights at once heroic and despairing of a chieftain henceforth proscribed in the desert, this brief glory that will go out like a rocket against the low wall of European carbines. This sudden madness is properly a subject for amazement. And yet the story of Mammun was that of many other Arab chiefs. He grew old. Growing old, one begins to ponder. Pondering thus, el Mammun discovered one night that he had betrayed the God of Islam and has sullied his hand by sealing in the hands of the Christians a pact in which he had been stripped of everything. Indeed, what was barley and peace to him? … [B]ecause of his pact he was condemned to wander without glory through a region pacified and voided of all prestige. Then, truly, for the first time, the Sahara became a desert. It is possible that he was fond of the officers he murdered. But love of Allah takes precedence. “Good night, el Mammun.” “God guard thee!” The officers rolled themselves up in their blankets  and stretched out upon the sand as on a raft, face up to the stars. High overhead all the heavens were wheeling slowly, a whole sky marking the hour. There was the moon, bending toward the sands, and the Frenchmen, lured by her tranquility into oblivion, fell asleep. A few minutes more, and only the stars gleamed. And then, in order that the corrupted tribes be regenerated into the past splendor, in order that there begin these flights without which the sands would have no radiance, it was enough that these Christians drowned in their slumber send forth a feeble wail. Still a few seconds more, and from the irreparable will come forth a new empire. And the handsome sleeping lieutenants were massacred.

Secretary of Defense Mattis remains stubbornly and callously oblivious to the timeless wisdom of Saint-Exupéry, reaffirmed by more than a decade of identical bloody experiences with our Afghan Muslim “allies,” whose own “love of Allah takes precedence.” Simply put, “insider killings” are a direct consequence of Mattis’ failed, morally repugnant COIN doctrine.

The Relentless Radicalization of Sweden

Gatestone Institute, by Judith Bergman, 

  • Swedish police report that Muslim children have told their classmates they will cut their throats, while showing them beheadings on their mobile phones, according to the new study of Salafism in Sweden by the Swedish Defence University.
  • “Many women live worse [lives] here than they would have in their former countries” — Swedish care worker.
  • The inability — willful blindness is probably a more apt description — to see that jihadist terrorism does not emerge from a vacuum, but is nurtured in particular environments, is hardly an exclusively Swedish situation. The insistence of so many European and other Western authorities on describing terrorist attacks as instances of “mental illness” illustrate it perfectly.

A new study[1] of Salafism in Sweden, conducted by the Swedish Defence University, paints a bleak picture of the ongoing radicalization of Muslims in Sweden.

The Salaf are the “pious ancestors” during the first three generations of the followers of Mohammed; its ideology has come to be associated over the last few decades with al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as with local al-Qaeda affiliates. According to the study, Salafists, who believe in Islam as Mohammed’s early followers practiced it, tend to reject Western society in favor of a “pure” Islam: “Not all Salafists are jihadists, but all jihadists are Salafists”. [2]

Although the study does not give an estimate of how many Salafists are in Sweden, it does describe how Salafist milieus there have evolved and grown stronger, especially during the past decade, and lists several examples of the influence they wield in different Swedish cities and localities.

The Swedish Defence University has published a new study that paints a bleak picture of the ongoing radicalization of Muslims in Sweden. (I99pema/Wikimedia Commons)

“Salafists”, the authors of the study conclude, “…advocate gender segregation, demand that women veil themselves to limit ‘sexual temptation’, restrict women’s role in the public sphere and strongly oppose listening to music and some sports activities”[3].

According to the study, many Salafists also tell Muslims not to have Swedish friends, and refer to them as “kufr“, the Arabic term for a non-Muslim or “disbeliever”. One Salafist preacher, Anas Khalifa, said:

“Does that mean that if you meet a Christian or Jew you should beat him or threaten him? No. There is no war between you and Christians and Jews in your school, for example. You hate him for Allah’s sake. You hate that he does not believe in Allah. But you want from your heart that he will love Allah. So you have to work with them, talk with them, because you want Allah to guide them”. [4]

The Salafists, apparently, have divided Sweden geographically between them. According to the study:

“It is interesting that the Salafist preachers, on which the study focuses, appear to be more in cooperation with each other, rather than rivals. Instead, these preachers seem to divide their da’wa (mission) into different geographical areas…”[5].

The study’s findings from different cities where Salafists are active include:

In Borås, some children will not drink the water at the school or paint with watercolors there, because they say the water is “Christian”. The police report that Muslim children have told their classmates they will cut their throats, while showing them beheadings on their mobile phones. There are examples of “adolescents arriving at mosques at the end of a school day to ‘wash’ themselves after having interacted with [non-Muslim] society”. Care workers [health care, child care, etc.] in the city have testified to how men exercise control over women, checking on them even in waiting rooms[6]. One care worker said:

“I realized that there is a network that controls the women so they won’t be left alone with the care workers. They are not given a chance to tell anyone about their situation. Many women live worse [lives] here than they would have in their former countries”.

This kind of control of women appears to be taking place in practically all the Swedish cities mentioned in the study.

In Västerås, religious influence is mixed with crime. “It could be a bunch of guys coming into the grocery store. If the woman at the cashier is not veiled, they take what they want without paying, they call the cashier ‘Swedish whore’ and spit on her,” said a police officer in the study. Other examples include Syrians and Kurds who run stores and restaurants in the area and are questioned by young Muslims about their religion. If the answer is not Islam, they are harassed. In other cases, boys as young as 10-12 years have approached older women in the area, asking them whether they are Muslim, telling them “this is our area”.[7]

In Gothenburg, according to the study[8], Salafists told Muslims not to vote in the most recent elections because it is “haram” (forbidden). “They said that on the day of judgment you will be responsible for the actions of all stupid politicians if you vote. They stood at polling stations… At one polling station they waved an IS [Islamic State] flag”, a local official told the authors of the study. According to one imam in the city, Gothenburg has been the capital of Wahhabism (a Saudi version of Salafism) in Europe since the 1990s.[9]

Out of the 300 Swedish Muslims who joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq, almost one third came from Gothenburg.[10] (In relation to their total population, more people have traveled from Sweden to join jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq than from most European countries — only Belgium and Austria have a higher proportion[11]). Somali-Canadian preacher Said Regeah, speaking at the Salafist Bellevue Mosque in Gothenburg, has “raised the importance of people being born ‘pure’ and that only Muslims are pure. All are born as Muslims, but it is the parents who shape them to become ‘Jews, Christians, or Zoroastrians'”.[12]

The study also reports that non-Muslim business owners have experienced having their facilities vandalized with Islamic State graffiti and that Christian priests have received threats of decapitation[13]. One man, Samir, said, “If you do not follow Islam, people ostracize you. There are parents here who put veils on their three-year-olds. It is unreal. We are not in Iraq”.[14]

Another man, Anwar, was denied service in a Muslim restaurant because he is not religious. He points out that society is letting secular Muslims down: “I don’t need a Bible or a Koran in my life. The only book I need is… the [Swedish] law. But if society isn’t even on your side, what can you do?”[15]

In the Stockholm area, the study estimates that there are currently up to 150 Salafist jihadists[16]. Salafists are especially concentrated in the Järva area, a “no go zone”. Sometimes the jihadist and the criminal elements overlap, and these Muslims terrorize other people who live in the area. One woman said that Salafists and Islamists have come to dominate businesses, basement mosques, and cultural associations during the past ten years, and that “Swedes have no idea how much influence political Islam has in the suburb”. She described how even children are gender segregated and that religious leaders tell women not to tell the authorities if their husband abuses them. “Swedish laws are not applied in the suburbs”.[17]

The study concludes with a critique of Swedish authorities for their apparent inability to link individual radical Muslims to the “environments that form their ideas and in certain cases have facilitated the will to join more radical and violent groups”. The study mentions the following as an example:

“When the then-National Coordinator Against Violent Extremism said that the question of why so many people chose to travel to IS from Sweden was ‘a million dollar question’, it is an illustration of the overall inability of Swedish authorities (with the exception of police and security police) to see that this problem has not emerged from a vacuum”.[18]

This inability — or possibly willful blindness — to see that jihadist terrorism does not emerge from a vacuum, but is nurtured in particular environments is hardly an exclusively Swedish situation. The insistence of so many European and other Western authorities to describe terrorist attacks as instances of “mental illness” illustrate it perfectly.

The authors of the study also mention that schools and other local authorities do not know how to deal with the challenges created by the Salafists. The study mentions, for example, that a Muslim schoolgirl wanted to take off her headscarf to play hairdresser with the other children, but the Swedish personnel did not allow it out of respect for her parents’ wishes. In an example from a Swedish preschool, a little girl did not want to wear her headscarf but the Swedish personnel forced it on her, “even though it felt wrong”, because it was the parents’ wish. Swedish school personnel have also described that they do not know how to act when children want to eat and drink during Ramadan, but the parents have instructed that they must fast.[19]

The study is an important first step in Sweden finally acknowledging that there is a problem, but unless the relevant Swedish authorities — including the Swedish government and the political leaders, who refuse to acknowledge reality in Sweden — read and internalize it, the study will have been done in vain.

Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

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The Nationalist Sweden Democrats Become Biggest Party in The Nation!!!

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On Islam Is on Target

(Photo credit: Islamic State / VOA)

Crisis Magazine, by William Kirkpatrick,, July 12, 2018:

One of the interesting aspects of Fr. James Schall’s refreshing collection of essays, On Islam, is that it provides a chronological record. The first essay appeared in 2003, the last in 2018. This allows the reader to see how our understanding of Islam has changed over those years.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t changed much at all. In 2003 we understood next to nothing about Islam, and in 2018 it’s still next to nothing.

One of Fr. Schall’s main themes is that we must try to understand Islam as Muslims understand it, not as we would like it to be. But instead of adjusting our theories to fit the accumulating facts, we keep trying to force the facts to fit the theory. This, says Schall, is the main reason we have failed to stem the tide of terrorism. We still assume that Islam is a religion like our own and that terrorism is a misunderstanding of genuine Islam.

On the contrary, writes Schall, terrorists are arguably more faithful to the essence of Islam than peaceful Muslims. As he puts it:

The terrorists themselves do claim with considerable historical and doctrinal evidence, on Qur`anic grounds, that they are in fact the true interpreters of Islam.

I don’t mean to oversimplify Fr. Schall’s argument. His essays are chock full of solid philosophical, theological, and historical evidence for his conclusions. But one of his conclusions is that:

advocates of the Islamic State are Muslims who faithfully follow what this religion allows and encourages them to do… To look on them as heretics or aberrations results in policies that only make the Islamic State’s success more likely.

Our insistence on seeing Islam through Western eyes, says Schall, means that we will be blind to the larger picture. Thus, “each bombing, shooting, knifing, or truck-crashing incident” is treated “as an individual problem of some usually ‘fanatical’ or otherwise confused youth acting on his own.” The authorities can’t bring themselves to admit that each incident is part of a pattern—that these actions are motivated by a world view that is shaped by the Koran and the example of Muhammad.

Likewise, the West’s leaders will fail to understand Muslim migration:

The trouble is that such large numbers of young and mostly male Muslims in every Western country are not there simply because they are poor or have been expelled…They are there to expand Islam.

“The purpose of Muslim expansion,” he continues, “is not to assimilate into a new nation and culture but rather to change it so that it conforms to Muslim ways.”

And what is the overall purpose of the expansion? Schall answers with refreshing candor: “Briefly, the assigned mission of Islam is to conquer the world for Allah.” But this simple truth about Islam flies in the face of politically correct and religiously correct notions that all religions are peaceful and opposed to violence. “To conquer the world for Allah?” Religious people, we assume, just don’t think like that. Thus, we convince ourselves that terrorist acts committed in the name of Allah, have “nothing to do with Islam.” “Dealing with Islam,” writes Schall, “is a function of understanding Islam,” and until we admit some very basic facts about Islam we will be unable to meet the challenge of Islam. The result? “I think it very possible, if not likely,” he writes, “that Islam will successfully establish itself in many areas of Europe and America.”

As might he expected, Fr. Schall also addresses the Church’s role vis-à-vis Islam. In an essay on dialoguing with Islam, he suggest that Church leaders, like secular leaders, fail to see Islam for what it is. Instead they prefer to look at it through Catholic eyes and have therefore convinced themselves that the two faiths have very much in common. But, says Schall, “What Islam and the Bible have in common is very little when it comes to doctrine … only with the greatest stretch of the imagination can we say that Muslims believe in the same God as Christians and Jews.” As a result, the dialogue is without resolution because there really is precious little common ground. For example, when Muslim and Catholic dialoguers use the word “peace,” they mean entirely different things. According to Islamic tenets, true “peace” will only come when all the world is Muslim.

Quite obviously, Schall’s position on Islam is at odds with the policies pursued by many in the Church leadership. He asserts that Islam is not a religion of peace, but of conquest. He maintains that terrorists are not misunderstanders of Islam, but are faithful to the plain meaning of the Koran. Moreover, he suggests that many Muslim immigrants to the West are not coming simply to find jobs or escape violence, but to convert the world to Islam.

What, then, does he suggest as an alternative policy? His general prescription is to replace the utopian view of Islam with a more realistic one. A viable Islam policy must be based not on what we wish Islam was, but on what it actually is.   Otherwise, things will continue as they have, and we must face the real prospect of a world converted to Islam.

Among other things, getting real means that Christians must insist that the Koran is not of divine origin. Moreover, they should do what they can to cast doubt about the Koran in the minds of Muslims. Why? Because the Koran is the key motivating force for jihad. The terrorism and the warfare will continue because that is what the Koran commands. The remedy, then, is not to assert that terrorists have misunderstood the Koran, but to assert that the book they follow is not from God:

The first step needed, then, is the affirmation, from the Christian side, that these views are as such false. They cannot be divine revelations.

As long as Muslims continue to believe that the Koran is the direct word of God, then the bloodshed will continue. It should therefore be the aim of Christians to disabuse them of this notion by means either subtle or direct. “What has never really been faced, even by the Church,” says the author, “is the truth content, or lack of it, in the Muslim world view…”

In the context of most current thinking about Islam, what Fr. Schall proposes here is quite radical. On the other hand, it also seems quite realistic. As Pope Francis put it in Evangelii Gaudium, “Ideas disconnected from realities give rise to ineffectual forms of idealism” (232). Unfortunately, the ideas that many Catholic leaders, including Francis, have about Islam seem to be based more on fantasy than reality.

In an essay entitled “On the Fragility of Islam,” Fr. Schall points out that the Koran is Islam’s weakest link. It’s authenticity as a direct revelation from God rests solely on the testimony of Muhammad. There is no other corroborating evidence. To the normal observer, says Schall, the Koran borrows heavily from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures: “Yet, if this historical origin is shown, then the Qur`an is merely the product of a confused effort to rewrite the Scriptures already in existence.”

Fr. Schall hopes that the eventual publication of a critical edition of the Koran by German scholars will make many of these problems evident. Possibly so, but there is already sufficient evidence in any standard edition of the Koran to cast doubt on the authenticity of the revelation. The Koran is almost completely lacking in chronology, continuity, and structure. At the same time it is full of mind-numbing repetition and formulaic prose. It strains credulity to believe that it was written—as Muslim scholars claim—by the Author of Creation.

Fr. Schall’s hope is that when all the many contradictions and incoherencies of the Koran become clear, “Islam may be as fragile as communism”:

Can we expect, as it were, a John Paul II effect, which saw a seemingly unbreakable communism suddenly collapse because its ideas were finally recognized as incoherent and evil?

Schall realizes that Islam is far older than communism and more resilient, and he admits that its fall is unlikely to come as quickly. Nevertheless, there is hope. Until the Iranian Revolution of 1979, there was a good deal of evidence that Islam was losing its hold on the Muslim world. Turkey had become a secular state, and many in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and other Muslim nations found Western values more attractive than Islamic ones. Sadly, this laxity of faith was the catalyst that spurred the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaida, and other groups dedicated to returning Islam to its original zeal.

But memories of better, less-Islamic times remain. Recent events give hope that what has happened once can happen again. In the last several months there have been numerous large demonstrations throughout Iran calling for an end to the theocratic regime. And last week in Paris, 100,000 people participated in a “Free Iran” rally. One minor news story is also telling. A recent study of thirty three deradicalization programsin the UK showed that all but two were either ineffective or counter-productive. The two effective initiatives were, “one defying political correctness and tackling difficult issues head-on and the other directly addressing extremism in religious [Islamic] texts.”

The effective initiatives sound rather like the approach Fr. Schall advocates: tell the truth about Islam, and challenge Muslims to look more closely at the problems of the Koran. The ineffective initiatives resemble the ones the Church leadership has been pursuing. No one can accuse them of tackling difficult issues head-on. Indeed the only issues they tackle with gusto are Islamic-approved ones such as the anti-Islamophobia initiative. If Western leaders and Church leaders keep insisting that Islam is fine just the way it is, there will be very little incentive for Muslims to reform their faith or—if it is irreformable—to leave it.

If and when Church leaders come to the conclusion that their current approach to Islam is both ineffective and counter-productive, they will find in Fr. Schall’s gem of a book a clear guide to a more promising direction.

William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily,and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com

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How Islam Apologists Like John Esposito Dupe Americans About Sharia

PJ Media, by Raymond Ibrahim, July 9, 2018:

Does Islam itself promote hostility for and violence against non-Muslims, or are all the difficulties between the West and Islam based on secondary factors such as “radical” interpretations of Islam, economics, and other grievances?

This is the fundamental question.

Obviously, if “anti-infidel” hostility is inherent to Islam itself, then the conflict becomes existential — a true clash of civilizations with no easy fixes and lots of ugly implications along the horizon. Because of this truism, those who whitewash Islam’s image in the West insist on the opposite: that current difficulties are temporal, and not rooted to innate Islamic teachings.

Enter Shariah: What Everyone Needs to Know, co-authored by John Esposito and Natana J. Delong-Bas. The authors’ goal is to exonerate Sharia — which they portray as enshrining “the common good (maslahah), human dignity, social justice, and the centrality of the community” — from Western criticism or fear, which they claim is based solely on “myth” and “sensationalism.”

In their introductory chapters, they define Sharia as being built upon the words of the Koran and the Sunna (“example”) of the Muslim prophet Muhammad as contained in sahih (canonical) hadiths. They add:

Shariah and Islamic law are not the same thing. The distinction between divine law (Shariah) and its human interpretation, application, and development (Islamic law) is important to keep in mind throughout this book …

Whereas Shariah is immutable and infallible, Islamic law (fiqh) is fallible and changeable.

Next, the authors highlight how important Sharia is to a majority of Muslims. They cite a 2013 Pew Poll which found that 69% of Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa, 73% in South Asia, and 55% in Central Asia believe that “Sharia is God’s [Allah’s] divine revelation.”

Pew found that even larger numbers “favored the establishment of Shariah as official law”: 99% in Afghanistan, 84% in South Asia, 74% in the Middle East and North Africa, and 64% in sub-Saharan Africa.

So far so good: The authors’ introductory claim (that Sharia is fundamental to Islam) and statistics (that hundreds of millions of Muslims revere Sharia and wish to see it implemented) are correct.

Now, the aforementioned question: Is Sharia itself behind the intolerance, misogyny, violence, and terrorism committed in the name of Islam?

Here, the hitherto objective authors shift gears and take on the mantle of apologists. Their thesis is simple: Any and all negative activities Muslims engage in are to be blamed on anything and everything — as long as it’s not Sharia.

In order to support this otherwise unsupportable position, and as might be expected, the remainder of the book consists of obfuscation, dissembling, and lots and lots of contextual omissions and historical distortions. A small sampling follows.

Sharia regarding women

The authors quote and discuss at length many Koran verses about women that seem positive (Koran 30:21, 3:195, and 2:187), without alluding to counter verses that, say, permit husbands to beat their wives (4:34) and treat them as “fields” to be “plowed however you wish” (2:223). Nor do they deal with Muhammad’s assertions that women are “lacking in intelligence” and will form the bulk of hell’s denizens, as recounted in canonical hadith.

They partially quote Koran 4:3: “[M]arry those that please you of other women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then marry only one.” This suits the authors’ purpose, which is to present the Koran as implicitly recommending only one wife, since it acknowledges the near-impossibility for a man to treat all wives equally.

Yet the authors deliberately left out the continuation of Koran 4:3. Perhaps because it permits Muslim men to copulate with an unlimited number of sex slaves (ma malakat aymanukum), even if the men are married.

Esposito and Delong-Bas also dissemble about child marriage, saying “classical Islamic law” permits it, but only when “the child reaches a mature age.”

Yet they make no mention that, based on Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha — that is, based on his Sunna, which is immutable and part of Sharia — this means nine is considered a “mature age.”

Freedom of religion and non-Muslims

The authors claim that “[t]here are more than 100 Quranic verses that … affirm freedom of religion and conscience.” They quote many at length, and then assert: “The guiding Shariah principle … underscored by Quran 3:28, 29:46, and 60:89, is that believers should treat unbelievers decently and equitably as long as the unbelievers do not behave aggressively.”

Yet they fail to mention or sideline the many contradictory verses that call for relentless war on non-Muslims — who are further likened to dumb cattle in Koran 25:44 — until they surrender, one way or another, to Islam (e.g., 8:39, 9:5, 9:29). They also fail to quote the verses that form the highly divisive doctrine of al-wala’ w’al bara’ (“Loyalty and Enmity”). This includes Koran 5:51, which forbids Muslims from befriending Jews and Christians. And Koran 60:4, which commands Muslims to harbor only “hate” for non-Muslims, until they “believe in Allah alone.”

Needless to say, they also ignore Koran 3:28, which permits Muslims to feign friendship for non-Muslims whenever the former are under the latter’s authority. (Such is the doctrine of taqiyya; see herehere, and here for examples; for other sanctioned forms of deception, read about tawriya, and taysir.)

It is, incidentally, because of all these Koran verses — because of Sharia — that the Islamic State forthrightly explained: “We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers.”

The closest the authors get to addressing these issues is in a section titled “Can Muslims in the West be Loyal Citizens?” They respond with a “yes.” However, the evidence they cite are polls (based on wishful interpretations), which of course tell the reader little about the topic at hand: Sharia.

Jihad

As might be expected, when the authors reach the topic of jihad, their dissembling reaches a new level. They repeatedly insist that jihad, as enshrined in Sharia, is simply the Muslim counterpart of Western “Just War” theory, which teaches that war and aggression are permissible only in defense or to recover one’s territory from occupiers. They write: “The lesser or outer jihad involves defending Islam and the Muslim community.”

As usual, they spend much time quoting and elaborating on Koran verses that comport with this position, while ignoring or sidelining the many contradictory verses. In reality, mainstream Islam holds that the Koran’s “Sword Verses” (especially 9:5 and 9:29) abrogate all the peaceful ones, and declare that warfare against non-Muslims — for no reason other than that they are not Muslims — to be not just permissible but obligatory.

Koran 9:29 reads:

Fight those who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and his Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth [Islam] from the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.

What, exactly, is “defensive” about this verse?

Similarly, they claim that dar al-harb, or “abode of war” — Islam’s designation for all non-Muslim territories (such as Europe) that Muslims were historically in a permanent state of war with — “applied to other parties with whom Muslims were in conflict.” Again, they fail to mention that the primary reason Muslims were “in conflict” with them was because they were non-Muslim, and that all non-Muslim territories were by default part of the “abode of war,” except when treaties advantageous to Islam were drawn.

Instead, the authors write: “The territories classified as the abode of war were those that refused to provide such protection to Muslims and their clients” — thereby implying Muslims were hostile to, say, Europe because Europe was first hostile to Muslims. (The historical reality, chronicled in my book Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, was exactly opposite.)

The authors engage in other forms of subterfuge to defend their point and exonerate Sharia. For example, they frequently project a Western definition to Islamic terms and concepts. They write that Sharia is ultimately about “promoting good and preventing evil,” which sounds admirable. They then fail to point out that, based on the Koran and Sunna (that is, Sharia), conquering non-Muslim territories is “promoting good.” And that keeping women under wraps, indoors, and beating them as required is about “preventing vice.”

While admitting that Christians and other non-Muslim minorities are currently being persecuted, not only do the authors insist this has nothing to do with Shariah, but they invoke relativistic thinking: “Just as Muslims living in non-Muslim countries are often concerned with their rights and civil liberties as minorities, so some consider the rights and status of non-Muslim minorities living in Muslim countries to be a parallel issue.”

In other words, because Americans may view Muslims in their midst with suspicion, the ongoing enslavement and slaughter of Christians — more than 6,000 in Nigeria alone since January 2018 — and ban on or destruction of churches is a tit-for-tat. A “parallel issue,” which can only be solved when the West becomes less critical about Islam.

Relativism is also invoked during the authors’ brief treatment of apostasy in Islam: “Historically, apostasy was sometimes punishable by death in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” They claim that apostasy is still a major issue in Islam only due to “radical” interpretations or politics, and they bolster their position by again quoting the same Koran verses that seem to support freedom of religion. They do not mention, for example, the canonical hadith (meaning part of Sharia) in which Muhammad said: “Whoever leaves his religion [Islam], kill him.”

Such is how Islam’s skilled apologists dupe the West: they admit to some of the more controversial aspects that many other apologists shy away from — namely that Shariah is indeed foundational to Islam, and that most Muslims revere and wish to see it implemented — and then, having established trust with the reader, they slip back into the “game.” They portray all the intolerance, misogyny, violence, and terrorism committed daily in the name of Islam as products of anything and everything except Sharia: fallible Muslim interpretations, self-serving clerics and terrorists, socio-economic pressures, Western criticism or encroachments.

Contrary to its title John Esposito’s and Natana J. Delong-Bas’s Shariah is not “what everyone needs to know.” Rather, it’s what non-Muslims need to believe in order to give Sharia, which is fundamentally hostile to all persons and things un-Islamic, a free pass.

Daniel Pipes Discusses Islamism’s War On The West

CSP, by Savvy Street, July 3, 2018:

Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes (DP) sat down with Savvy Street’s Vijay Kolhatar (VK) for an engaging Q&A containing some of Pipes’s key insights into the phenomenon of Islamism. The original post can be found at Savvy Street.

VK: Does Islam’s canon foment terrorism?

DP: I’ve stopped using the word terrorism, finding it meaningless because no two people agree on its definition. So, let me re-ask your question: Does Islam’s canon foment jihadi violence? Yes. Islam is premised on (1) the superiority of Islam, (2) the need to spread its message, and (3) the legitimacy of force to do so. These fundamentals of faith have been apparent from Muhammad’s time to the present, though not everywhere and not at all times.

VK: Is a gay-friendly, women-friendly, Islam possible?

DP: Of course. Every faith evolves. Centuries ago, who could have imagined homosexual and female Christian bishops? Looking at Islam’s present tells us little about its future.

VK: How big is the intrusion of Islamism into the U.N.? What are the consequences of such intrusion?

DP: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has 56 member-states (plus “Palestine”), 47 of which have a majority Muslim population. This is roughly a quarter of the United Nations membership and in the amoral game of give-and-take that lies behind most votes, that bloc can get nearly the entire 193 governments to back it or at least abstain on issues it cares about. Take the vote against moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem: 9 in favor, 128 against, 35 abstentions, and 21 not present. It also permits the forwarding of Islamist initiatives, such as U.N. General Assembly Resolution 16/18 adopted to prevent criticism of Muslims or Islam. This influence led to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres amazingly stating that “One of the things that fuel terrorism is the expression in some parts of the world of Islamophobic feelings and Islamophobic policies and Islamophobic hate speeches.”

VK: How significant is the risk of Sharia law intrusions into Western legal systems?

DP: This process has already begun. For instance, polygamy has made rapid progress as a legitimate life-style option. While laws banning female genital mutilation are on the books, famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz has offered his services for a doctor to be tried for conducting FGM surgeries. Fashion houses have taken up hijabs and even jilbabs. Mosques manage to ban alcohol within a wide perimeter. First-cousin marriages proliferate, with attendant genetic problems. Interest-free banks grow.

VK: Do Islamists fund major political parties in the West? What is the impact of such actions?

DP: My organization, the Middle East Forum, has focused on precisely that question in the United States in its Islamist Money in Politics Project. The thousands of entries here, dating back to 1979, reveal many patterns. For example, 90 percent of Islamist donations go to Democratic candidates. Obviously, the goal of these donations is to make Islamism acceptable. The liberal-left being more sympathetic to this goal, it receives the bulk of the donations. And it’s worked. Rare are the liberal-left voices anymore that stand up to Islamism.

VK: How can the West best deal with the threat of jihadi violence?

DP: By addressing the core ideas behind the resort to violence, such as: living by a medieval code, the superiority of Islam and Muslims to other faiths and believers, the validity of force and coercion to spread the faith, and the notion of God giving specific orders.

VK: What’s the best way for the West to avoid seeping Islamization: open debate on Islam’s canon calling for reform, exposing Islamist political donations, encouraging apostasy within Islam, immigration policies designed to uncover Islamists, or all these and more?

DP: I’d stay away from encouraging Muslims to leave Islam, but the other ideas are all good. However, there’s a more fundamental priority, which is to convince the liberal-left that Islamism presents a threat. So long as this huge segment of Western populations largely remains blind to the Islamist threat, the measures you propose have limited utility.

VK: Is there something intrinsic to Islam that the Western mainstream media wishes to hide?

DP: Yes. The mainstream media, and the Establishment in general (what I call the 6Ps – police, politicians, press, priests, professors and prosecutors) pretend that the Sharia, a medieval law code that calls on Muslims to engage in actions deeply at odds with modern ways, does not exist. This leads them to the inane conclusion that living according to the Sharia is in opposition to Islam. The most spectacular instance of this is the absurd debate on the question whether jihad is Islamic, akin to asking whether the pope is Catholic. And in that discussion, the most extravagant statement was by former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who said of the Charlie Hebdoattackers, “They’re about as Muslim as I am.”

VK: Are you familiar with the case of Tommy Robinson (U.K.)? Do you have a view on it?

DP: I spent much of a day with Tommy in December 2017 as he took me around his hometown of Luton. He is knowledgeable, draws a distinction between Islam and Islamism, and is a leader. Toffs should get over their class bias against him and the authorities must treat him fairly. I hope the outrageous treatment he suffered on May 25 – being arrested, denied a lawyer, tried, sentenced, and dispatched to prison, all within a few hours – serves as a wake-up call to the British public.

VK: What should be the U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia?

DP: Had you asked me this before 2015, I would have answered, keep a distance, bargain hard, root out the evil influence. Since the coming to power of King Salman and his all-powerful son Muhammad, however, I answer differently: Focus on helping Muhammad’s radical reforms succeed.

VK: What’s your view on the Iran nuclear deal?

DP: A scandalous attempt by the six participating governments to defer the problem of Iranian nuclear weapons for about a decade – to when current office holders will presumably no longer be in charge. It is an obnoxious farce.

VK: Did President Assad gas his own citizens or was that brought about by Islamic militant groups to foster an ousting of Assad?

DP: The Syrian regime has more than once gassed its subject population, full stop. More generally, however repugnant the Islamist groups, the regime has carried out the great majority of killings in Syria, both before and after the civil war began in 2011. It is a monstrosity.

VK: Thank you for your time, and for speaking truth to power. We wish you the best in your endeavors.

Video: Robert Spencer on The Hagmann Report on jihad in history and the destruction of the West today

Jihad Watch, by Robert Spencer, June 17, 2018:

On The Hagmann Report several days ago, I discuss the history of Islam and conquest and how it relates to our current day situation both in America and Europe.

Preorder The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS here.