Fight War On Terrorism, Religious aggression, and superstition

October 8, 2010

Fight Back Against Death Threats by Islamic Extremists

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It’s Time to Fight Back Against Death Threats by Islamic Extremists

by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Daniel Huff
Los Angeles Times
September 27, 2010

Earlier this year, after Comedy Central altered an episode of “South Park” that had prompted threats because of the way it depicted Islam’s prophet Muhammad, Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris proposed an “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” The idea was, as she put it, to stand up for the 1st Amendment and “water down the pool of targets” for extremists.

The proposal got Norris targeted for assassination by radical Yemeni American cleric Anwar Awlaki, who has been linked to the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight and also to several of the 9/11 hijackers. This month, after warnings from the FBI, Norris went into hiding. The Seattle Weekly said that Norris was “moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity.”

It’s time for free-speech advocates to take a page from the abortion rights movement’s playbook. In the 1990s, abortion providers faced the same sort of intimidation tactics and did not succumb. Instead, they lobbied for a federal law making it a crime to threaten people exercising reproductive rights and permitting victims to sue for damages. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE, passed in 1994 by solid bipartisan margins. A similar act is needed to cover threats against free-speech rights.

A federal law would do two things. First, it would deter violent tactics, by focusing national attention on the problem and invoking the formidable enforcement apparatus of the federal government. Second, its civil damages provision would empower victims of intimidation to act as private attorneys general to defend their rights.

Such an act is overdue. Across media and geographies, Islamic extremists are increasingly using intimidation to stifle free expression.

In 2004, Theo van Gogh was butchered on an Amsterdam street in broad daylight for his film criticizing Islam’s treatment of women. By 2006, it was reported that “dozens of people” across Europe were “in hiding or under police protection because of threats from Muslim extremists.”

Some targets, including the coauthor of this Op-Ed, fled to the United States, where it seemed safer — and so it is, for now. However, the stark truth is the United States was never immune and the situation is deteriorating.

In 1989, two American bookstores carrying Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” were firebombed. Spooked major chains took it off display. And there have been many more threats that received less publicity. Few have heard, for example, about Oklahoma atheist Sabri Husibi, who received death threats after writing a 2009 article critical of his former faith. His aged mother in Syria was warned she would never see him again. “Clearly shaken,” he requested the paper that published his article clarify that he is critical of all faiths.

These kinds of threats have had a formidable chilling effect. Mindful of the retaliation others faced, Yale University Press, the Met, the director of the disaster epic “2012” and countless others have decided to preemptively censor themselves.

The kind of legislation we propose is essential if we are to win the war of ideas against extremists, who use threats to drive the moderate message out of public discourse.

Existing state laws prohibiting intimidation are inadequate. On the criminal side, the heightened standard of proof deters prosecutors from investing scarce resources. Explicit grounds for a civil action do not always exist, and damages can be difficult to quantify. By contrast, the FACE Act, which provides the model for the proposed legislation, lets victims opt for preset damages.

The “South Park” incident neatly illustrates the benefits. On April 15, following the first of a two-part episode mocking Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad, announced that “[w]e have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh.” The “warning” included the names, photos and work address of “South Park’s” creators, a graphic image of Van Gogh’s mutilated body and pictures of other targets of Muslim extremists. Overlaying this was audio of Awlaki preaching about assassinating anyone who defamed the prophet. Panicked, Comedy Central heavily censored the episode.

This rather obvious threat could not be prosecuted. New York Police Department officials explained it did not rise to a crime. Were the FACE Act applicable here, a civil suit would have been available, and precedent suggests it would have been successful.

In 2002, on very similar facts, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a civil award to abortion doctors who sued using the FACE Act. A fringe antiabortion group, ACLA, had in various public venues displayed “Wanted”-style posters bearing the names, photos and addresses of doctors who performed abortions. Their names were also posted on the Internet alongside a list of wounded and murdered doctors whose names were struck through. The 9th Circuit held that ACLA’s activities constituted true threats unprotected by the 1st Amendment.

If we leave our artists, activists and thinkers alone to weather the assault, they will succumb and we will all suffer the consequences.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament, is a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and the author of “Nomad: From Islam to America.” Daniel Huff is director of the Middle East Forum’s Legal Project.


“Rushdie Rules” Reach Florida

by Daniel Pipes
Washington Times
September 21, 2010

Pastor Terry Jones’ plan to burn copies of the Koran at his church in Gainesville, Florida, let it be emphasized, is a distasteful act that fits an ugly tradition. That said, two other points need be noted: Buying books and then burning them is an entirely legal act in the United States. Second, David Petraeus, Robert Gates, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama pressured Jones to cancel only because they feared Muslim violence against Americans if he proceeded. Indeed, despite Mr. Jones calling off the Koran burning, 5 Afghans and 14 Kashmiris died in protests against his plans.


Palestinians desecrated the Tomb of Joseph in October 2000.

That violence stems from Islamic law, the Shariah, which insists that Islam, and the Koran in particular, enjoy a privileged status. Islam ferociously punishes anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, who trespasses against Islam’s sanctity. Codes in Muslim-majority states generally reflect this privilege; for example, Pakistan’s blasphemy law, 295-C, punishes derogatory remarks about Muhammad with execution.No less important, Shariah denigrates the sanctities of other religions, a tradition manifested in recent years by the destruction of the Buddhist Bamiyan statues and the desecration of the Jewish Tomb of Joseph and the Christian Church of the Nativity. A 2003 decree ruled the Bible suitable for use by Muslims when cleaning after defecation. Iranian authorities reportedly burned hundreds of Bibles in May. This imbalance, whereby Islam enjoys immunity and other religions are disparaged, has long prevailed in Muslim-majority countries.

Then, in 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini abruptly extended this double standard to the West when he decreed that British novelist Salman Rushdie be executed on account of the blasphemies in his book, The Satanic Verses. With this, Khomeini established the Rushdie Rules, which still remain in place. They hold that whoever opposes “Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran” may be put to death; that anyone connected to the blasphemer must also be executed; and that all Muslims should participate in an informal intelligence network to carry out this threat.

Self-evidently, these rules contradict a fundamental premise of Western life, freedom of speech. As summed up by the dictum, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” that freedom assures protection for the right to make mistakes, to insult, to be disagreeable, and to blaspheme.

If the Rushdie Rules initially shocked the West, they since have become the new norm. When Islam is the subject, freedom of speech is but a pre-1989 memory. Writers, artists, and editors readily acknowledge that criticizing Islam can endanger their lives.


British Muslims burned “The Satanic Verses” in January 1989.

Western leaders occasionally stand with those who insult Islam. British prime minister Margaret Thatcher resisted pressure from Tehran in 1989 and stated that “there are no grounds on which the government could consider banning” The Satanic Verses. Other governments reinforced this stalwart position; for example, the U.S. Senate unanimously resolved “to protect the right of any person to write, publish, sell, buy and read books without fear of violence.”Likewise, Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen stood strong in 2006 when disrespectful cartoons of Muhammad in a Copenhagen newspaper led to storms of protest: “This is a matter of principle,” he stated. “As prime minister, I have no power whatsoever to limit the press – nor do I want such a power.”

Both those incidents led to costly boycotts and violence, yet principle trumped expedience. Other Western leaders have faltered in defense of free expression. The governments of Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Israel, and the Netherlands have all attempted to or succeeded in jailing Rushdie-Rule offenders.

The Obama administration has now joined this ignominious list. Its pressure on Mr. Jones further eroded freedom of speech about Islam and implicitly established Islam’s privileged status in the United States, whereby Muslims may insult others but not be insulted. This moved the country toward dhimmitude, a condition whereby non-Muslims acknowledge the superiority of Islam. Finally, Mr. Obama in effect enforced Islamic law, a precedent that could lead to other forms of compulsory Shariah compliance.

Mr. Obama should have followed Mr. Rasmussen’s lead and asserted the principle of free speech. His failure to do so means Americans must recognize and resist further U.S. governmental application of the Rushdie Rules or other aspects of Shariah.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. His article, “Two Decades of the Rushdie Rules” will appear in the October issue of Commentary magazine.


Further Thoughts on Koran Burning

by Daniel Pipes
September 21, 2010

Several additional points that did not fit into my column today, “‘Rushdie Rules’ Reach Florida“:

(1) In contrast to Terry Jones and his miniscule band, British Muslims twice burned copies of The Satanic Verses in pubic during 1988-89, attended by crowds of 1,000 and 7,000. One hardly needs point out that the government did not apply pressure on the ringleaders to desist out of fear of violence resulting.

(2) In contrast to the permission to use the Bible as toilet paper, Muslims rioted, causing at least fifteen deaths, over an incorrect report in Newsweek that interrogators “flushed a Qur’an down a toilet” at the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay.

(3) The change in U.S. policy signaled in the Jones case fits a larger context of Obama administration willingness to shut down free discussion of Islam, as signaled by its endorsement of a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution proposed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

(4) By threatening Jones’ life, Islamists also benefit by potentially bankrupting him. Pretty clever. Details from the Gainesville Sun:

The cost of policing the Dove World Outreach Center for the planned Quran burning that never happened is expected to come to about $100,000 each for the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, officials say. And Gainesville City Manager Russ Blackburn said the city intends to present a bill for the costs to the church’s senior pastor, Terry Jones.

Sheriff Sadie Darnell said she also is considering billing the church. … Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Steve Maynard said 242 deputies were on duty Saturday, 160 of whom were working specifically because of the planned protest.

Total costs for security are actually higher when adding in the participation by other agencies including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and several sheriff’s offices that provided support such as bomb sniffing dogs and detection devices, officials said.

Blackburn said he isn’t sure how realistic it is to expect the church to pay or how much legal authority the city has to compel the church to pay. City Attorney Marion Radson said from his observations, the city was providing a “direct service” to the church.

(5) Several copycats did burn Korans on September 11, for example two pastors did so in Michigan, Tennessee, and Australia. The case of Derek Fenton got the most attention because a video of him burning pages turned up in YouTube and in consequence, his employer, the New Jersey Transit Authority, fired him.

(6) In “Is Koran Burning Protected by Free Speech?” the Legal Project’s Dan Huff looks at the legal implications of what he calls the “Petraeus defense”:

The Constitution permits the government to censor speech if necessary to achieve a compelling government interest. This is a very high standard, but the fact that the nation’s top commander made a rare public appeal for restraint will be cited as strong evidence that avoiding offense to Muslims is essential to the national interest. Once this dangerous premise is accepted, the door is open to court injunctions against speech that inflames Muslim sentiment in strategically important locations.

(7) In “Terry Jones, Asymmetrical Warrior,” David Goldman of First Things offers the most original take on this incident. “L’Affaire Jones demonstrated that a madman carrying a match and a copy of the Koran can do more damage to the Muslim world than a busload of suicide bombers.… What’s the dollar value of the damage from a used paperback edition of the Koran, available online for a couple of dollars?” Goldman goes on to speculate that non-Muslim intelligence services might be drawing conclusions from the impact Jones had and might decide to use his methods to throw the Muslim world into chaos, then he offers some thoughts on what those initiatives could look like. (September 21, 2010)


Istinja’ with the Torah and New Testament

by Daniel Pipes
September 21, 2010

My reference in a column today, “‘Rushdie Rules’ Reach Florida,” included this sentence: “A 2003 decree ruled the Bible suitable for use by Muslims when cleaning after defecation.” That allusion deserves further explanation.

The link above goes to Fatwa #40378 of The Encyclopedia of Fatwas (Arabic: Mawsu’at al-Fatawi) on Issued on November 23, 2003, it contains the standard question-and-answer format of a fatwa and reads thus in English translation:

Judgment: Despising the Torah or the New Testament

Question: “Does someone who insults the Torah or the New Testament engage in apostasy, given that these include some words of God?”

Answer: “It would be impermissible to disdain the Torah and New Testament if they contained the truth and the name of the exalted, such as the name of God the Most High. Whoever does this [i.e., disrespect the books] knowingly and by choice would be considered an apostate and would be despised by God. But [in fact] the Torah and New Testament do not have anything exalted in them. They are known to have been corrupted, so there is no problem disdaining them.

Ash-Shams[ad-Din] Ar-Ramli [d.1004 A.D.] said in [his book of fiqh] Nihayat al-Muhtaj: “It is impermissible to use respected books like those of hadith and fiqh for anal cleansing after defecation (al-istinja’,الأستنجاء ), but non-respected books like philosophy, Torah and the New Testament, which are known as corrupt and which do not contain exalted names, can be used for anal cleansing after defecation.”

Interestingly, Fatwa #40378 is no longer posted at the Encyclopedia of Fatwas; an announcement on its old page drably states that “There is no fatwa with this number.” The screen shot posted on my website, however, establishes that this fatwa was once posted.

Fatwa #40378 appears to have been removed in late 2009, as a result of the Dena Milany controversy. Milany, a German woman, posted the fatwa in English translation and Arabic original, then posted a call on Facebook for a “koran toilet paper roll,” complete with graphic of such an item. Muslims demanded the deletion of this page and the agitation reached to Egypt, where Sheikh Ali Abu’l-Hasan, a former president of Al-Azhar University’s Fatwa Committee, published a fatwa (reported in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Yawm as-Sabi’ on September 27, 2009) in which he ordered the “shedding of [her] blood.” Milany responded by publicizing the above fatwa on her blog,

Despite its removal, the fatwa remains valid. Taking it down from the website does not cancel it; that would require that the institution that issued it formally declare it illegitimate. This has not happened because the Shari’a clearly permits istinja’ with the Bible. Indeed, specialists on Shari’a have through the centuries discussed the legitimacy of istinja’ using the Torah and New Testament. (September 21, 2010)


Two Decades of the Rushdie Rules

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Two Decades of the Rushdie Rules

by Daniel Pipes
October 2010

From a novel by Salman Rushdie published in 1989 to an American civil protest called “Everyone Draw Muhammad Day” in 2010, a familiar pattern has evolved. It begins when Westerners say or do something critical of Islam. Islamists respond with name-calling and outrage, demands for retraction, threats of lawsuits and violence, and actual violence. In turn, Westerners hem and haw, prevaricate, and finally fold. Along the way, each controversy prompts a debate focusing on the issue of free speech.

I shall argue two points about this sequence. First, that the right of Westerners to discuss, criticize, and even ridicule Islam and Muslims has eroded over the years. Second, that free speech is a minor part of the problem; at stake is something much deeper – indeed, a defining question of our time: will Westerners maintain their own historic civilization in the face of assault by Islamists, or will they cede to Islamic culture and law and submit to a form of second-class citizenship?


The cover of the book that prompted the Rushdie Rules.

The era of Islamist uproar began abruptly on February 14, 1989, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s supreme leader, watched on television as Pakistanis responded with violence to a new novel by Salman Rushdie, the famous writer of South Asian Muslim origins. His book’s very title, The Satanic Verses, refers to the Koran and poses a direct challenge to Islamic sensibilities; its contents further exacerbate the problem. Outraged by what he considered Rushdie’s blasphemous portrait of Islam, Khomeini issued an edict whose continued impact makes it worthy of quotation at length:

I inform all zealous Muslims of the world that the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses – which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran – and all those involved in the publication who were aware of its contents, are sentenced to death.

I call upon all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they may be found, so that no one else will dare to insult the Muslim sanctities. God willing, whoever is killed on this path is a martyr.

In addition, anyone who has access to the author of this book but does not possess the power to execute him should report him to the people so that he may be punished for his actions.

This unprecedented edict – no head of government had ever called for the execution of a novelist living in another country – came out of the blue and surprised everyone, from Iranian government officials to Rushdie himself. No one had imagined that a magical realist novel, replete with people falling out of the sky and animals that talk, might incur the wrath of the ruler of Iran, a country to which Rushdie had few connections.

The edict led to physical attacks on bookstores in Italy, Norway, and the United States and on translators of The Satanic Verses in Norway, Japan, and Turkey; in the last case, the translator and 36 others perished in an arson attack on a hotel. Other violence in Muslim-majority countries led to more than 20 fatalities, mostly in South Asia. Then, just as the furor wound down, in June 1989, Khomeini died; his death made the edict, sometimes inaccurately called a fatwa, immutable.

The edict contains four important elements. First, by noting “opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran,” Khomeini delineated the wide range of sacred topics that may not be treated disrespectfully without invoking a death sentence.

Second, by targeting “all those involved in the publication who were aware of its contents,” he declared war not just on the artist but also on an entire cultural infrastructure – including the thousands of employees of publishing houses, advertisers, distribution companies, and bookstores.

Third, by ordering Rushdie’s execution “so that no one else will dare to insult the Muslim sanctities,” Khomeini made clear his purpose not only to punish one writer but also to prevent further instances of ridicule.

Finally, by demanding that those unable to execute Rushdie “report him,” Khomeini called on every Muslim worldwide to become part of an informal intelligence network dedicated to upholding Islamic sanctities.

These four features together constitute what I call the Rushdie Rules. Two decades later, they remain very much in place.

The edict set several precedents in the West. A foreign political leader successfully ignored conventional limits on state powers. A religious leader at will intervened directly, with little cost or resistance, in Western cultural affairs. And a Muslim leader established the precedent of applying an aspect of Islamic law, the Shari’a, in an overwhelmingly non-Muslim country. On this last point: Western states have, at times, served as Khomeini’s effective agents. The government of Austria imposed a suspended prison sentence on a person who defied the Rushdie Rules, while the governments of France and Australia brought charges that could have meant jail time. Most strikingly, authorities in Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Finland, and Israel actually jailed Rushdie-Rule trespassers. It takes effort to recall the innocent days before 1989, when Westerners freely spoke and wrote about Islam and related subjects.

The Rushdie Rules had an immediate impact on Muslims living in the West, whose outbursts of insults and violence generated a newfound sense of power. From Sweden to New Zealand, Islamists responded with joy that, after centuries on the defensive, Muslims had found their voice and, from the belly of the beast, could challenge the West. Most of the violence that followed was of the indiscriminate sort, on the model of 9/11, Bali, Madrid, Beslan, and London, in which jihadists killed whoever happened to cross their paths; documents on average five indiscriminate Islamist terrorist attacks per day around the world.

Less common but more intimidating is the violence that targets those who defy the Rushdie Rules. Let us limit examples of this phenomenon to one country, Denmark. In October 2004, an instructor at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute at the University of Copenhagen was kicked and hit by several strangers as he left the university. They informed him that he had read from the Koran, which as an infidel (kafir) he had no right to do. In October 2005, Jyllands-Posten editor Flemming Rose was threatened for having commissioned cartoons depicting Muhammad. Two of the cartoonists had to go into hiding. One of them, Kurt Westergaard, subsequently narrowly escaped physical attack inside his home. In March 2006, Naser Khader, an anti-Islamist politician, was threatened by an Islamist who warned that if Khader became a government minister, he and his ministry would be blown up.

The Danish experience is typical. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Across Europe, dozens of people are now in hiding or under police protection because of threats from Muslim extremists.” Even Pope Benedict XVI received a flurry of threats in the aftermath of his quoting a Byzantine emperor on the subject of Islam. In the Netherlands alone, politicians reported 121 death threats against them in just one year. The November 2004 execution on an Amsterdam street of Theo van Gogh – a well known libertarian, filmmaker, talk show host, newspaper columnist, and mischief-maker who had ridiculed Islam – traumatized his country and led to a brief state of insurrection.

Westerners generally perceive this violence as a challenge to their right to self-expression. But if freedom of speech is the battlefield, the greater war concerns the foundational principles of Western civilization. The recurrent pattern of Islamist uproar exists to achieve three goals – not always articulated – that go well beyond prohibiting criticism of Islam.

A first goal consists of establishing a superior status for Islam. Khomeini’s demands for the sacred trinity of “Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran” imply special privileges for one religion, an exclusion from the hurly-burly of the marketplace of ideas. Islam would benefit from unique rules unavailable to other religions. Jesus may be sacrilegiously lampooned in Monty Python’s Life of Brian or Terry McNally’s Corpus Christi, but, as one book’s title puts it, “be careful with Muhammad!

This segues to a second goal – Muslim supremacy and Western inferiority. Islamists routinely say and do things more offensive to Westerners than anything Westerners do vis-à-vis Muslims. They openly despise Western culture; in the words of an Algerian Islamist, it’s not a civilization, but a “syphilization.” Their mainstream media publishes coarser, viler, and more violent cartoons than anything commissioned by Flemming Rose. They freely insult Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. They murder Jews just for being Jews, like Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, Sébastian Sellam and Ilan Halimi in France, and Pamela Waechter and Ariel Sellouk in the United States. Whether because of fear or inattention, Westerners assent to an imbalance whereby Muslims may offend and attack while they themselves are shielded from any such indignities or pains.

Should Westerners accept this imbalance, the dhimmi status will follow. This Islamic concept permits “people of the book,” monotheists such as Christians and Jews, to continue to practice their religion under Muslim rule, subject to many restrictions. For its time, the dhimmi status offered certain benefits (until as recently as 1945, Jews generally had better lives in Islamdom than in Christendom), but it is intended to insult and humiliate non-Muslims, even as it exalts Muslims’ superiority. Dhimmis pay additional taxes, may not join the military or the government, and suffer from encompassing legal disabilities. In some times and places, dhimmis could ride on a donkey but not on a horse, wore distinctive clothing, and an elderly dhimmi on the street was required to jump out of the way of a Muslim child. Elements of the dhimmi status have recently been applied in such varied places as Gaza, the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Clearly, Londonistan and beyond are also in their sights.

In turn, re-establishing the dhimmi status is one step toward the Islamist’s third and ultimate ambition, applying full Shari’a law. Closing down discussion of Islam paves the way toward this end. Conversely, retaining free speech about Islam represents a critical defense against the imposition of an Islamic order. Keeping our civilization requires open discussion of Islam.

The Shari’a regulates both private and public life. The private dimension includes such intensely personal matters as bodily cleanliness, sexuality, childbearing, family relations, clothing, and diet. In the public realm, the Shari’a regulates social relations, commercial transactions, criminal penalties, the status of women and minorities, slavery, the identity of the ruler, the judiciary, taxation, and warfare. In brief, Islamic law includes everything from toilet etiquette to the conduct of warfare.

Yet the Shari’a contradicts the deepest premises of Western civilization. The unequal relations of male and female, of Muslim and kafir, of owner and slave cannot be reconciled with equality of rights. The harem cannot be reconciled with a monogamous order. Islamic supremacism contradicts freedom of religion. A sovereign God cannot allow democracy.

Islamists all concur on the goal of applying Islamic law globally. But they differ on whether to achieve this through violence (the preference of bin Laden), totalitarian rule (Khomeini), or by politically gaming the system (the Swiss intellectual Tariq Ramadan). However done, were Islamists to achieve a Shar’i order, they would effectively replace Western civilization with Islamic civilization. In American terms, allowing the Koran to trump the Constitution ends the United States as it has existed for more than two centuries.


The Muslim Council of Britain wishes to transform schools in the United Kingdom.

Accepting the Rushdie Rules, in other words, implies a process that culminates with full application of the Shari’a. Were Khomeini to have his way, those of us who value Western civilization could not argue against Shari’a. To understand the consequences of closing the debate about Islam, note what appears to be an innocuous report published in 2007 by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), a leading Islamist institution in the United Kingdom. Titled Towards Greater Understanding, it advises British authorities on how to deal with Muslim students in taxpayer-funded schools.

The MCB seeks to create an environment in schools in which Muslim children do not make “inappropriate assumptions” that “to progress in society they will have to compromise or give up aspects of who they are, and their religious beliefs and values.” Toward this end, the MCB proposes a jaw-dropping list of changes that would fundamentally alter the nature of British schools, transforming them, in effect, into Saudi-like institutions. Some of its suggestions:

  • Prayers: Provide (1) extra “water cans or bottles” for washing before the prayers and (2) prayer facilities, ideally separate ones for boys and girls. Schools should also make available “a suitable external visitor, a teacher or an older pupil” to lead the communal Friday prayers and give the sermon.
  • Toilets: Water available in water cans or bottles for cleansing purposes.
  • Social customs: No pressure to shake hands with members of the opposite sex, whether students or teachers.
  • Scheduling: Vacation days for all on the two major Muslim holidays, the Eids.
  • Holiday celebrations: Involve non-Muslim students and their parents in Islamic holiday rituals. During Ramadan, for instance, all children, not just Muslim ones, should celebrate “the spirit and values of Ramadan through collective worship or assembly themes and communal Iftar (the breaking of the fast).”
  • Ramadan: (1) No examinations during this month, “since the combination of preparing for exams and fasting may prove challenging for some pupils” and (2) no sex education, to respect strictures against sex during that month.
  • Food: Provide halal meals. Permit students to eat with their right hands.
  • Clothing: Accede to the wearing of hijabs and even jilbabs (a long outer garment down to the ankles). In swimming pools, Muslim children should wear modest swimwear (e.g., for girls, full leotards and leggings). Islamic amulets must be permitted.
  • Beards: A right for male students.
  • Sports: Sex-segregation where there is physical contact with other team players, as in basketball and football, or when exposed, as in swimming.
  • Shower rooms: Separate stalls needed, so Muslims are not subject to the “profound indignity” of seeing or being seen in the nude.
  • Music: Should be limited to “the human voice and non-tuneable percussion instruments such as drums.”
  • Dancing: Excluded, unless it is done in a single-sex environment and does not “involve sexual connotations and messages.”
  • Teacher and administrator training: Staff should undergo Islamic “awareness training” so that schools are “better informed and have greater and more accurate appreciation of their Muslim pupils’ needs.”
  • Art: Exempt Muslim pupils from producing “three dimensional figurative imagery of humans.”
  • Religious instruction: Pictures of any prophets (including Jesus) prohibited.
  • Language instruction: Arabic should be made available to all Muslim students.
  • Islamic civilization: (1) Study the contribution of Muslims to Europe in history, art, mathematics, and science classes and (2) emphasize common aspects of European and Islamic heritage.


One response to the Muslim Council of Britain booklet.

The imposition, explicit or implicit, of Rushdie Rules would render impossible any criticism of a program such as the MCB’s. I could not write this article, Commentary could not publish it, and you could not read it.

Overhauling schools is just one of a myriad of planned changes. Step by step, piece by piece, Islamists wish to trump the premises of Western life by infusing its education, cultural life, and institutions with a concurrent Islamic system that in time overrides secular institutions, until an Islamic order comes operationally into being. Some changes are already in place and extend to many aspects of life. A few pungent examples:

Polygamous marriages are valid under certain circumstances in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Australia, and the Canadian province of Ontario. Muslim women-only swimming sessions exist in municipal pools in Washington State. Women-only classes are being offered at Virginia Tech, a taxpayer-supported university. Women can have their drivers license photographs taken wearing hijabs in three U.S. states. If they work at IKEA or for the London police, women can wear branded hijabs provided by their employers.

Piggybanks have been banned as a symbol of saving at two major British banks. “Any matter containing religious materials contrary to Islamic faith” may not be sent via the U.S. postal system to soldiers serving in the Middle East. Medical personnel may not eat or drink in the presence of Muslim patients or colleagues during the month of Ramadan in a Scottish hospital. The City of Boston sold public land at a discount price to build an Islamic institution.


IKEA, the furnishings store, provides branded hijabs for employees in Great Britain.

These steps, large and small, toward Islamization undermine Western values and mores. They are unacceptable: Muslims are entitled to equal rights and responsibilities but not to special privileges. They must fit into the existing order, not remake Western societies in the Islamist mold. Increasing freedom is welcome, regressing to the medieval norms of the Shari’a is not.

In retrospect, responses to the Rushdie edict among intellectuals and politicians in 1989 were noteworthy for the support for the imperiled novelist, especially on the left. Leftist intellectuals were more likely to stand by him (Susan Sontag: “our integrity as a nation is as endangered by an attack on a writer as on an oil tanker”) than were those on the right (Patrick Buchanan: “we should shove his blasphemous little novel out into the cold”). But times have changed: Paul Berman recently published a book, The Flight of the Intellectuals, that excoriates his fellow liberals for (as the dust jacket puts it) having “fumbled badly in their effort to grapple with Islamist ideas and violence.”

At the time, François Mitterrand, the socialist president of France, called the threat to Rushdie an “absolute evil.” The Green Party in Germany sought to break all economic agreements with Iran. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the German foreign minister, endorsed a European Union resolution supporting Rushdie as “a signal to assure the preservation of civilization and human values.” The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution that declared its commitment “to protect the right of any person to write, publish, sell, buy, and read books without fear of intimidation and violence” and condemned Khomeini’s threat as “state-sponsored terrorism.” Such governmental responses are inconceivable in 2010.

For every exercise in free speech since 1989, such as the Danish Muhammad cartoons or the no-holds-barred studies of Islam published by Prometheus Books, uncountable legions of writers, publishers, and illustrators have shied away from expressing themselves. Two examples: Paramount Pictures replaced the Hamas-like terrorists of Tom Clancy’s novel The Sum of All Fears with European neo-Nazis in its movie version of the story. And Yale University Press published a book on the Danish cartoon crisis without permitting the cartoons to be reproduced in the study.

The reasoning of those who capitulate is as unexceptional as it is dismal: “This decision was based solely on concern for public safety”; “the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority”; “I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat”; “If I would have said what I actually think about Islam, I wouldn’t be in this world for long”; and “‘If this goes down badly, I’m writing my own death warrant.”

Changes since 1989 result mainly from the growth of three isms: multiculturalism, left-fascism, and Islamism. The multicultural impulse regards no way of life, belief system, or political philosophy better or worse than any other. Just as Italian and Japanese food are both delicious and filling, so environmentalism or Wicca offer equally valid alternatives to Judeo-Christian civilization. Why fight for one’s way of life when it has no claim to superiority over any other?

But perhaps one way is worse: if Western imperialism and the white race pollute the world, who wants Western civilization? A sizable movement of left-fascists, led by Hugo Chávez, sees Western power, which they call “Empire,” as the world’s main threat, with the United States and Israel viewed as the chief offenders.

Islamism has grown spectacularly since 1989, becoming the most powerful form of radical utopianism, forming an alliance with the left, dominating civil societies, challenging many governments and taking over others, establishing a beachhead in the West, and smartly advancing its agenda in international institutions.

The yin of Western weakness, in short, has met with the yang of Islamist assertion. Defenders of Western civilization must fight not just Islamists but also the multiculturalists who enable them and the leftists who ally with them.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum, Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, and a columnist at National Review. He delivered an earlier version of this text on receiving an award from the Danish Free Speech Society.

August 5, 2010

Britain’s New Export: Islamist Carnage

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Britain’s New Export: Islamist Carnage

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
August 3, 2010

Britain’s largest and longest-running terrorist investigation ended last month with the conviction of three British Muslims. Their 2006 plot involved blowing up trans-Atlantic airliners with the hope of killing up to 10,000 people. That near-disaster offers a pungent reminder of the global danger poised by U.K.-based radical Islam.

The Heritage Foundation calls British Islamism “a direct security threat” to the United States and The New Republic dubs it “the biggest threat to U.S. security.” Officialdom agrees. The British home secretary compiled a dossier in 2003 that acknowledged his country offered a “significant base” for terrorism. A CIA study in 2009 concluded that British-born nationals of Pakistani descent (who can freely enter the United States under a visa waiver program) constitute America’s most likely source of terrorism.

Confirming, updating, and documenting these reports, London’s Centre for Social Cohesion, run by the formidable Douglas Murray, has just published a 535-page opus, Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections, written by Robin Simcox, Hannah Stuart, and Houriya Ahmed. It consists mainly of detailed biographical information on two sorts of perpetrators of what it calls “Islamism related offences” or IROs – that is to say, incidents where evidence points to Islamist beliefs as the primary motivator.

One listing contains information on the 127 individuals convicted of IROs or suicides in IROs within Britain; the other provides biographies on 88 individuals with connections to Britain who engaged in IROs elsewhere in the world. The study covers eleven years 1999-2009.

Domestic British terrorists display a dismaying pattern of normality. They are predominantly young (mean age: 26) and male (96 percent). Nearly half come from a South Asian background. Of those whose educational backgrounds are known, most attended university. Of those whose occupations are known, most have jobs or study full time. Two-thirds of them are British nationals, two-thirds have no links to proscribed terrorist organizations, and two-thirds never went abroad to attend terrorist training camps.

Most IROs, in brief, are perpetrated by basically ordinary Muslims whose minds have been seized by the coherent and powerful ideology of Islamism. One wishes the terrorist’s numbers were limited to psychopaths, for that would render the problem less difficult to confront and eliminate.

Britain’s Security Service estimates that over 2,000 individuals residing today in Britain pose a terrorist threat, thereby implying not only that the “covenant of security” that once partially protected the U.K. from attack by its own Muslims is long defunct but that the United Kingdom may face the worst internal terrorist menace of any Western country other than Israel.

As for the second group – Islamists with ties to Great Britain who engage in attacks outside the country: the report’s authors modestly state that because their information constitutes a sampling, and not a comprehensive list, they do not provide statistical analyses. But their sample indicates the phenomenon’s reach, so I compiled a list of countries (and the number of British-linked perpetrators) in which British-linked IROs have occurred.

The centre’s list includes Afghanistan (12), Algeria (3), Australia (1), Azerbaijan (1), Belgium (2), Bosnia (4), Canada (1), France (7), Germany (3), India (3), Iraq (3), Israel (2), Italy (4), Jordan (1), Lebanon (1), Morocco (2), the Netherlands (1), Pakistan (5), Russia (4), Saudi Arabia (1), Somalia (1), Spain (2), the United States (14), and Yemen (10). I add to the centre’s list Albania, where an attack took place before 1999, and Bangladesh and Kenya, which seem to have been overlooked.

The two British suicide bombers who attacked a nightspot in Tel Aviv.

In all, 28 countries have come under assault from British-based Islamist terrorists, giving some idea of their global menace. Other than India, the target countries divide into two distinct types, Western and majority-Muslim. An odd trio of the United States, Afghanistan, and Yemen have suffered the most British-linked terrorists.

This documentation prompts several questions: One, how much longer will it take for the British authorities to realize that their current policies – trying to improve Muslims’ material circumstances while appeasing Islamists – misses the ideological imperative? Two, evidence thus far tends to point to IROs on balance strengthening the Islamist cause in Great Britain; will this remain the pattern even as violence persists or will IROs eventually incur a backlash?

Finally, what will it take in terms of destruction for non-U.K. governments to focus their immigration procedures on that percentage or two of Britons from whom the perpetrators exclusively derive – the Muslim population? Unpleasant as this prospect is, it beats getting blown up.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Niqab Security Outrages at Canadian Airports

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Niqab Security Outrages at Canadian Airports

by Daniel Pipes
August 3, 2010

I visited Toronto in early March 2010 and as I left the country I passed through the usual security check at Pearson International Airport. What made it different is that the next passengers after me in line were a man, a small child, and a person in niqab. (I write “person” rather than “woman” as I hardly know who was under the niqab outfit.)

Curious how the niqabi’s hidden identity would be handled, I looked back as the trio was dealing with the security agent. To my astonishment, the agent did not demand to see the niqabi’s face but was content to see those of the man and child. I wanted dearly to video this procedure on my mobile phone but dared not, thinking that this could well get me hauled in on some charge that I, ironically, was breaching security.

This experience comes to mind as I follow a current story about a similar situation at Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport. The Toronto Sun explained on August 1 how Mick Flynn of Bradford, England, was boarding a flight there on July 11

when he witnessed two women with their faces covered board an Air Canada Heathrow bound flight without being asked to remove their veils. In fact, in the video that Flynn has posted online, a man traveling with the group hands in all the passports and is the only one to interact with airline staff while two veiled women simply walk through.

Unlike me, Flynn did something about this outrage: “I complained at the desk — and again as I boarded the plane — asking if the pilot was happy that two women boarded without being identified. Both members of staff whom I spoke to were flustered and clearly embarrassed.”

In a public statement, Air Canada insisted that “Airline passengers have already undergone multiple security checks before arriving at the boarding gate. A final check is made at the gate prior to boarding in order to confirm passengers on the flight.” This, of course, is mumbo-jumbo. Then, to make the story even richer, Air Canada has threatened a lawsuit against Flynn for his video.

A day later, the Sun followed up with a report from Pearson:

A veteran airline worker at Canada’s busiest airport said few veiled Muslim women are forced to reveal their faces before boarding flights. The long-time frontline worker at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport said there is no clear-cut policy given to airline workers on how to deal with this and other sensitive issues. … employees working with various airlines in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa said that checks often occur at the luggage check counter, if at all, and that women who refuse to show their faces are simply allowed to board.

The veteran Pearson worker said there are many factors that have led to what he deems a security risk: The lack of a clear policy from airline management, worries about political correctness, and often aggressive behaviour from men traveling with veiled women. “In general, what happens is the woman stands at the back, the man comes up with the documents. He’s quite aggressive and leaves little room for airline workers to challenge him. … So, why would a general worker who is paid $12-$15 per hour take this upon themselves?”

Transport Minister John Baird issued a statement promising to look into the matter. “If the reports are true, the situation is deeply disturbing and poses a serious threat to the security of the air travelling public. If our current security policies in this area are deemed to be lacking, our government will take the necessary steps to protect the safety and security of the travelling public.” Today, Baird came out with a more assertive statement:

“I’m the minister of transport, they validate my ID every the time,” Baird told Ottawa radio station CFRA. “I do have one cabinet colleague that was denied entry to a plane because he forgot his valid ID at home. … We’re going to get the facts first and then we’re going to take all the action necessary to make sure that the current regulations are followed and followed to the letter.”

As for setting up special rooms where Muslim women can remove their veils away from other passengers, Baird dismissed the idea as unworkable. “I have no intention of establishing special rooms at every single gate so that we can validate someone’s identification,” said Baird. “This is Canada, we’re an open society, we’re a society where men and women are treated equally.”


(1) It’s hard to say something original about this preposterous situation. Obviously, niqabis must not get a free pass onto planes. If anyone wants a few dozen reasons why, just go to my blog on “Niqabs and Burqas as Security Threats.”

The senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, California, getting frisked in Canada.

(2) For an amusing counterpoint, also dated Aug. 1, note the complaint of Kim Riddlebarger, senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, California, who recently attended a United Reformed Churches in North America synod in London, Ontario:

apparently, American Reformed ministers are viewed as a security risk by Canadian authorities! Here I am getting frisked in front of a bunch of my fellow ministers and synod attendees on the same flight out with me (hence the photo). I’ll bet the security people were looking for Cuban cigars – the contraband most likely to be found on a Reformed minister’s person.

(3) It’s fascinating to see the impact of a single low-quality video. Next time, I must not let the opportunity pass me by. (August 3, 2010)

June 7, 2010

Ibrahim in Pajamas Media: “New Fatwa Calls on Men to Drink Women’s Breast-Milk”‏

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New Fatwa Calls on Men to Drink Women’s Breast-Milk

by Raymond Ibrahim
Pajamas Media
June 4, 2010

Last month, I wrote a PJM article dealing with some of Islam’s “problematic” practices, specifically those attributable to the Muslim prophet Muhammad. One of these — the Muslim phenomenon of “adult-breastfeeding,” or rida’ al-kabir — is making headlines again, precisely three years to the day since it last created controversy in (and inevitable mockery of) the Islamic world. According to Gulf News:

Exactly three years ago, on May 22, 2007, an Egyptian scholar was disciplined by Al Azhar University, one of Islam’s most prestigious institutions, after he issued a fatwa calling upon women to breastfeed their male colleagues. Dr. Izzat Attiyah said that his fatwa offered a way around mixing of the sexes in the work place since breast-feeding established a maternal relation even if the beneficiary was not the woman’s biological son or daughter.

Now, a high-ranking Saudi, Sheikh Abdul Mohsin al-Abaican, a consultant at Saudi Arabia’s royal court, has issued a fatwa asserting that

women could give their milk to men to establish a degree of maternal relations and get around a strict religious ban on mixing between unrelated men and women. [Because] a man who often entered a house and came in contact with the womenfolk there should be made symbolically related to the women by drinking milk from one of the women. Under the fatwa, the act would preclude any sexual relations between the man and the donor woman and her relatives.

Sheikh al-Abaican thus “modernizes” Dr. Izzat’s position — that the man must breastfeed directly from the teat — by suggesting that “the man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman. He should drink it and then becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come in contact with the women without breaking Islam’s rules about mixing.”

(So much for simply being in control of oneself without going through bizarre rituals.)

At any rate, where do all these “adult breastfeeding” ideas originate? As usual: Muhammad. A canonical hadith tells of a woman who once asked Muhammad what to do about the fact that a young boy who had been living with her and her husband had grown into manhood: that a non-relative adult male was freely residing with them, seeing his wife without her veils, was upsetting to the husband. So the prophet told her to “breastfeed” the man. Shocked, she responded saying that he was a grown man; Muhammad said — according to some traditions, while laughing — “I know.” The woman breastfed the man, and reportedly her husband was no longer upset, as the act of breastfeeding turned him into a kinsman. Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha — the “mother of the believers” — frequently relied on this practice to meet with non-related males (one of the greatest debates of her time revolved around how many “breastfeeds” were enough —one, five, or ten — to make a man a “family-member.” See here for more hadiths).

The importance of this breastfeeding business has less to do with its sensationalist quality and more to do with what it says about the overbearing and intrusive nature of Sharia law in Muslim life. Muslims cannot escape adult breastfeeding simply because it is contained in Islam’s most canonical hadiths (including Sahih Muslim and the Sunan of Abu Dawud and Ibn Maja). Moreover, it has been addressed — and endorsed — by such Islamic authorities as Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Hazm. To reject this hadith is to reject the sources and methodology of usul al-fiqh — in short, to reject Sharia law.

Furthermore, al-Abaican’s supposedly “moderate” position — that men should not drink the milk straight from the teat but rather from a cup — actually further demonstrates the inescapable strictures of Sharia law: for his sophistry relies on the fact that the hadiths do not literally indicate that men must drink straight from the nipple (probably because it would have been redundant to say so, as there were few other ways to derive breast milk in 7th century Arabia, “breastfeeding pumps” being non-existent then). Yet, by not out-and-out condemning the practice, al-Abaican demonstrates that he, too, dares not stray from the bounds of Muhammad’s literal words.

Now, here’s the real problem (from an infidel point of view): If, in the year 2010, Muslims still feel compelled to be true to “adult breastfeeding,” simply because 7th century Muhammad said so, surely they wholeheartedly embrace their prophet’s thoroughly documented and unequivocal words concerning the infidel.

Look at it this way: the issue of adult breastfeeding is embarrassing for Muslims; far from providing them with any sort of advantage or benefits, it places them, especially their women, in a ludicrous position (indeed, it is ranked first in this list of “top ten bizarre or ridiculous fatwas“). So why is it still a relevant issue among Muslims? Because Muhammad said so. Thus, like it or not, Muslims must somehow come to grips with it.

What, then, of Muhammad’s other commandments — commandments that, if upheld, far from embarrassing Muslims, provide them with power, wealth, and honor — that is, commandments that jive quite well with mankind’s most primordial impulses? I speak of Muhammad’s (and by extension Sharia law’s) unequivocal commandments for Muslims to wage war (“jihad”) upon the infidel, to plunder the infidel of his wealth and women, and to keep the infidel in perpetual subjugation — all things that define Islam’s history vis-à-vis the infidel.

Indeed, Muhammad himself once warned Muslims: “Because you have forsaken jihad, taking hold of cows’ tails and dealing in merchandise, Allah has adorned you with shame and you will never be able to shake it off yourselves until you repent to Allah and return to your original positions [as jihadists on the offensive],” The Al Qaeda Reader, p.162.

In short, the Muslim mentality that feels the need to address adult breastfeeding, simply because Muhammad once advised it, must certainly be sold on the prophet’s constant incitements for war and conquest. Living in an era where the Muslim world is significantly weaker vis-à-vis the infidel world, and so currently incapable of living up to such bellicose commandments, one may overlook this fact. But the intention is surely there. One need only look to 21st century Muslims debating an absurdity like “adult breastfeeding” to be sure of that.

Raymond Ibrahim is associate director of the Middle East Forum, author of The Al Qaeda Reader, and guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College.

June 4, 2010

Virgin Mary Gets Dragged into the Burqa Fray

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Virgin Mary Gets Dragged into the Burqa Fray

by David J. Rusin  •  Jun 4, 2010 at 9:46 am

With efforts to outlaw face-covering attire now gathering speed across the West, some Muslims have begun grasping at straws. Their desperation is reflected in the cynical attempt to turn Mary, the mother of Jesus, into a poster girl for the pro-burqa crowd.

When Amel Marmouri was fined for refusing to reveal her face to policemen in the northern Italian town of Novara, Izzedin Elzir, president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, mused that Muslim women covered to the max are not only following the lead of the Virgin Mary, but also fortifying Western culture:

If we go and see the beautiful artistic representations of the Madonna, we see her with the veil. We don’t see her semi-naked, I think.

For that reason, I believe it is the Muslims who are protecting the traditions of our country.

No word on whether Elzir asserts that Marmouri’s husband upholds the “traditions of our country” by pledging to keep Amel indoors.

However, Elzir is not alone in comparing face-concealing Muslims to the most revered woman in Christianity. Interviewed by the BBC earlier this year, French burqa-wearer Chrystelle Khedrouche struck a similar chord while discussing proposed bans:

When God ordered that women be veiled, we know that they were already veiled. Look at the mother of Jesus, Mary. She wore a veil and I have never seen an image of her where she is not veiled. So we know that women were veiled at that time and if God ordered that women be veiled, it was to add something more to what there was already.

Likewise, a recent news article on Belgian lawmakers approving a prohibition on face veils features one forlorn Muslim arguing that “the Virgin Mary also wore a veil. No one says anything about this.”

Behold yet another Islamist smokescreen to muddle the issue and confuse the ignorant. Nobody can state with certainty what Mary did or did not wear two millennia ago. But give or take a few controversial works of art, she is universally depicted with a veil over her hair, not her face. This is how we know that Mary is the one portrayed, right? A completely covered figure might be Simon Peter in disguise, for all we could tell.

And that is the whole point of the laws now being introduced and implemented. Face veils dehumanize and inhibit identification; headscarves do not — which is why burqas and niqabs, as opposed to hair coverings reminiscent of Mary, are getting the heave-ho.

This debate is all about the face. Mary sets a good example by showing hers.

May 17, 2010

Blog: Bear-Suit Muhammad and the Wages of Cowardice‏

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Bear-Suit Muhammad and the Wages of Cowardice

by David J. Rusin  •  Apr 28, 2010 at 11:33 am

“Has South Park gone too far this time?” asks an article published on April 21, referencing the show’s previous depiction of Muhammad in a bear costume. Just hours later, however, it became obvious that Comedy Central is the one that had gone too far — in kowtowing to radical Islam.

For the 200th installment of South Park on April 14, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone penned a storyline poking fun at the now-familiar trend of censoring images of Muhammad — something that the series had experienced firsthand four years earlier. The new episode, titled “200,” features perpetually mocked celebrities demanding that the kids track down the prophet, as they wish to steal his power to remain free of ridicule. The townspeople fear the consequences of Muhammad appearing in public, so he is disguised as a goofy-looking bear mascot.

What happened next illuminates the well-rehearsed procedure by which Islamist violence and Western cowardice combine to suppress speech, thus slowly paving the road to dhimmitude:

Step 1: Every now and then, Islamists use “education by murder” to mark, with blood-red lines, what will not be tolerated from non-Muslims, such as unflattering commentary about the Islamic faith or caricatures of its prophet. Examples include the 2004 butchering of Dutch provocateur Theo van Gogh and the 2006 orgy of violence sparked by the Danish Muhammad cartoons.

Step 2: Like clockwork, pusillanimous Westerners bow and scrape to avoid upsetting Muslims. From altering disaster films to removing museum art to canceling book launches, the capitulation often takes place without any direct prompting. A little murder goes a long way.

Step 3: If some free expression manages to survive Step 2, a not-so-subtle reminder of Step 1 is offered. The fringe group Revolution Muslim carried this out after “200,” stating: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show.” It helpfully included a photo of van Gogh’s corpse and a sermon from terror cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Comedy Central got the message. In April 21’s follow-on episode, “201,” the network placed black boxes over all images of Muhammad (even those in the bear suit), bleeped his name, and shamelessly censored a speech about intimidation and fear.

Step 4: “Mainstream” Islamic groups deny that the radicals of Step 3 have anything to do with Islam. Right on schedule, Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR donned his tinfoil hat and insisted that “most Muslims suspect [Revolution Muslim] were set up only to make Muslims look bad. We just have very deep suspicions. They say such outrageous, irresponsible things that it almost seems like they’re doing it to smear Islam.” Another case of “anti-Islamic activity,” no doubt.

Step 5: The path is now cleared for many additional surrenders (Step 2) and threats (Step 3). As Eugene Volokh explains, “The consequence of [Comedy Central’s] position is that the thugs win and people have more incentive to be thugs. … Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated.”

This is the way the Western world ends: not with a bang but a wimpishness.

Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings

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Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings

by Phyllis Chesler
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2010, pp. 3-11

To combat the epidemic of honor killings requires understanding what makes these murders unique. They differ from plain and psychopathic homicides, serial killings, crimes of passion, revenge killings, and domestic violence. Their motivation is different and based on codes of morality and behavior that typify some cultures, often reinforced by fundamentalist religious dictates. In 2000, the United Nations estimated that there are 5,000 honor killings every year.[1] That number might be reasonable for Pakistan alone, but worldwide the numbers are much greater. In 2002 and again in 2004, the U.N. brought a resolution to end honor killings and other honor-related crimes. In 2004, at a meeting in The Hague about the rising tide of honor killings in Europe, law enforcement officers from the U.K. announced plans to begin reopening old cases to see if certain murders were, indeed, honor murders.[2] The number of honor killings is routinely underestimated, and most estimates are little more than guesses that vary widely. Definitive or reliable worldwide estimates of honor killing incidence do not exist.

Morsal O, a 16-year-old German-Afghan girl, was killed in May 2008 by her 24-year-old brother Ahmad Sobair O. He stabbed her twenty-three times in a parking lot in Hamburg, Germany, because of her alleged impure moral conduct. Murder of teenage or young adult women by their fathers or other close male relatives is characteristic of classic honor killings and is not a pattern in non-immigrant Western populations.

Most honor killings are not classified as such, are rarely prosecuted, or when prosecuted in the Muslim world, result in relatively light sentences.[3] When an honor killing occurs in the West, many people, including the police, still shy away from calling it an honor killing. In the West, both Islamist and feminist groups, including domestic violence activists, continue to insist that honor killings are a form of Western-style domestic violence or femicide (killing of women).[4] They are not.[5] This study documents that there are at least two types of honor killings and two victim populations. Both types differ significantly from each other, just as they differ from Western domestic femicide. One group has an average age of seventeen; the other group’s average age is thirty-six. The age difference is a statistically significant one.

Families Killing Their Young Women

The study’s findings indicate that honor killings accelerated significantly in a 20-year period between 1989 and 2009.[6] This may mean that honor killings are genuinely escalating, perhaps as a function of jihadist extremism and Islamic fundamentalism, or that honor killings are being more accurately reported and prosecuted, especially in the West, but also in the East. The expansion of the Internet may account for wider reporting of these incidents.

The worldwide average age of victims for the entire population is twenty-three (Table 1). This is true for all geographical regions. Thus, wherever an honor killing is committed, it is primarily a crime against young people. Just over half of these victims were daughters and sisters; about a quarter were wives and girlfriends of the perpetrators. The remainder included mothers, aunts, nieces, cousins, uncles, or non-relatives.

Honor killings are a family collaboration. Worldwide, two-thirds of the victims were killed by their families of origin. (See Table 1). Murder by the family of origin was at its highest (72 percent) in the Muslim world and at its lowest in North America (49 percent); European families of origin were involved almost as often as those in the Muslim world, possibly because so many are first- or second-generation immigrants and, therefore, still tightly bound to their native cultures. Alternatively, this might be due to the Islamist radicalization of third or even fourth generations. Internationally, fathers played an active role in over one-third of the honor murders. Fathers were most involved in North America (52 percent) and least involved in the Muslim world; in Europe, fathers were involved in more than one-third of the murders.

Worldwide, 42 percent of these murders were carried out by multiple perpetrators, a characteristic which distinguishes them considerably from Western domestic femicide. A small number of the murders worldwide involved more than one victim. Multiple murders were at their highest in North America and at their lowest in Europe. In the Muslim world, just under a quarter of the murders involved more than one victim. Additional victims included the dead woman’s children, boyfriend, fiancé, husband, sister, brother, or parents.

Worldwide, more than half the victims were tortured; i.e., they did not die instantly but in agony. In North America, over one-third of the victims were tortured; in Europe, two-thirds were tortured; in the Muslim world, half were tortured. Torturous deaths include: being raped or gang-raped before being killed; being strangled or bludgeoned to death; being stabbed many times (10 to 40 times); being stoned or burned to death; being beheaded, or having one’s throat slashed.

Finally, worldwide, 58 percent of the victims were murdered for being “too Western” and/or for resisting or disobeying cultural and religious expectations (see Table 1). The accusation of being “too Western” was the exact language used by the perpetrator or perpetrators. Being “too Western” meant being seen as too independent, not subservient enough, refusing to wear varieties of Islamic clothing (including forms of the veil), wanting an advanced education and a career, having non-Muslim (or non-Sikh or non-Hindu) friends or boyfriends, refusing to marry one’s first cousin, wanting to choose one’s own husband, choosing a socially “inferior” or non-Muslim (or non-Sikh or non-Hindu) husband; or leaving an abusive husband. There were statistically significant regional differences for this motive. For example, in North America, 91 percent of victims were murdered for being “too Western” as compared to a smaller but still substantial number (71 percent) in Europe. In comparison, only 43 percent of victims were killed for this reason in the Muslim world.

Less than half (42 percent) of the victims worldwide were murdered for committing an alleged “sexual impropriety”; this refers to victims who had been raped, were allegedly having extra-marital affairs, or who were viewed as “promiscuous” (even where this might not refer to actual sexual promiscuity or even sexual activity). However, in the Muslim world, 57 percent of victims were murdered for this motive as compared to 29 percent in Europe and a small number (9 percent) in North America.

What the Age Differences Mean

This study documents that there are at least two different kinds of honor killings and/or two different victim populations: one made up of female children and young women whose average age is seventeen (Table 3), the other composed of women whose average age is thirty-six (Table 5). Both kinds of honor murders differ from Western domestic femicide.

In the non-immigrant West, serious domestic violence exists which includes incest, child abuse, marital rape, marital battering, marital stalking, and marital post-battering femicide. However, there is no cultural pattern of fathers specifically targeting or murdering their teenage or young adult daughters, nor do families of origin participate in planning, perpetrating, justifying, and valorizing such murders. Clearly, these characteristics define the classic honor killing of younger women and girls.

The honor murders of older women might seem to resemble Western-style domestic femicide. The victim is an older married woman, usually a mother, who is often killed by her husband but also by multiple perpetrators (30 percent of the time). Worldwide, almost half (44 percent) of those who kill older-age victims include members of either the victim’s family of origin or members of her husband’s family of origin. (See Table 5.) This is extremely rare in a Western domestic femicide; the husband who kills his wife in the West is rarely assisted by members of his family of origin or by his in-laws.

However, in the Muslim world, older-age honor killing victims are murdered by their own families of origin nearly two-thirds of the time. This suggests that the old-world custom has changed somewhat in Europe where the victim’s family of origin participates in her murder only one-third (31 percent) of the time. Thus far, in North America, no members of the family of origin have participated in the honor killing of an older-age victim. Whether North America will eventually come to resemble Europe or even the Muslim world remains to be seen, as this will be influenced by immigration and other demographic factors. Finally, nearly half the older-age victims are subjected to a torturous death. However, the torture rate was at its highest (68 percent) in Europe for female victims of all ages. The torture rate was 35 percent and 51 percent in North America and in the Muslim world, respectively.

Worldwide, younger-age victims were killed by their families of origin 81 percent of the time. In North America, 94 percent were killed by their family of origin; this figure was 77 percent in Europe and 82 percent in the Muslim world. (See Table 3.) In North America, fathers had a hands-on role in 100 percent of the cases when the daughter was eighteen-years-old or younger (See Table 4). Worldwide, younger-age women and girls were tortured 53 percent of the time; however, in Europe, they were tortured between 72 and 83 percent of the time—significantly more than older-age women worldwide.

Western Responses to Honor Killing

Many Western feminists and advocates for victims of domestic violence have confused Western domestic violence or domestic femicide (the two are different) with the honor killings of older-age victims. Representatives of Islamist pressure groups including Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Canadian Islamic Congress, various academics (e.g., Ajay Nair, Tom Keil), activists (e.g., Rana Husseini), and religious leaders (e.g., Abdulhai Patel of the Canadian Council of Imams) have insisted that honor killings either do not exist or have nothing to do with Islam; that they are cultural, tribal, pre-Islamic customs, and that, in any event, domestic violence exists everywhere.[7] Feminists who work with the victims of domestic violence have seen so much violence against women that they are uncomfortable singling out one group of perpetrators, especially an immigrant or Muslim group. However, Western domestic femicide differs significantly from honor killing.[8]

Former National Organization for Women (NOW) president Kim Gandy compared the battered and beheaded Aasiya Hassan[9] to the battered (but still living) pop star Rihanna and further questioned whether Hassan’s murder was an honor killing:

Is a Muslim man in Buffalo more likely to kill his wife than a Catholic man in Buffalo? A Jewish man in Buffalo? I don’t know the answer to that, but I know that there is plenty of violence to go around—and that the long and sordid history of oppressing women in the name of religion surely includes Islam, but is not limited to Islam.[10]

At the time of the Hassan beheading, a coalition of domestic violence workers sent an (unpublished) letter to the Erie County district attorney’s office and to some media stating that this was not an honor killing, that honor killings had nothing to do with Islam, and that sensationalizing Muslim domestic violence was not only racist but also served to render invisible the much larger incidence of both domestic violence and domestic femicide. They have a point, but they also miss the point, namely, that apples are not oranges and that honor killings are not the same as Western domestic femicides.

One might argue that the stated murder motive of being “too Westernized” may, in a sense, overlap substantively with the stated and unstated motives involved in Western domestic femicide. In both instances, the woman is expected to live with male violence and to remain silent about it. She is not supposed to leave—or to leave with the children or any other male “property.” However, the need to keep a woman isolated, subordinate, fearful, and dependent through the use of violence does not reflect a Western cultural or religious value; rather, it reflects the individual, psychological pathology of the Western batterer-murderer. On the other hand, an honor killing reflects the culture’s values aimed at regulating female behavior—values that the family, including the victim’s family, is expected to enforce and uphold.

Further, such cultural, ethnic, or tribal values are not often condemned by the major religious and political leaders in developing Muslim countries or in immigrant communities in the West. On the contrary, such communities maintain an enforced silence on all matters of religious, cultural, or communal “sensitivity.” Today, such leaders (and their many followers) often tempt, shame, or force Muslim girls and women into wearing a variety of body coverings including the hijab (head covering), burqa, or chadari (full-body covering) as an expression of religiosity and cultural pride or as an expression of symbolic resistance to the non-Muslim West.[11] Muslim men are allowed to dress like Westerners, and no one challenges the ubiquitous use of Western technology, including airplanes, cell phones, the Internet, or satellite television as un-Islamic. But Muslim women are expected to bear the burden of upholding these ancient and allegedly religious customs of gender apartheid.

It is clear that Muslim girls and women are murdered for honor in both the West and the East when they refuse to wear the hijab or choose to wear it improperly. In addition, they are killed for behaving in accepted Western or modern ways when they express a desire to attend college, have careers, live independent lives, have non-Muslim friends (including boyfriends with whom they may or may not be sexually involved), choose their own husbands, refuse to marry their first cousins, or want to leave an abusive husband. This “Westernization” trend also exists in Muslim countries but to a lesser extent. Allegations of unacceptable “Westernization” accounted for 44 percent of honor murders in the Muslim world as compared to 71 percent in Europe and 91 percent in North America.

Tempted by Western ideas, desiring to assimilate, and hoping to escape lives of subordination, those girls and women who exercise their option to be Western are killed—at early ages and in particularly gruesome ways. Frightening honor murders may constitute an object lesson to other Muslim girls and women about what may happen to them if they act on the temptation to do more than serve their fathers and brothers as domestic servants, marry their first cousin, and breed as many children as possible. The deaths of females already living in the West may also be intended as lessons for other female immigrants who are expected to lead subordinate and segregated lives amid the temptations and privileges of freedom. This is especially true in Europe where large Muslim ghettos have formed in the past few decades. It is particularly alarming to note that in Europe 96 percent of the honor killing perpetrators are Muslims.

The level of primal, sadistic, or barbaric savagery shown in honor killings towards a female family intimate more closely approximates some of the murders in the West perpetrated by serial killers against prostitutes or randomly selected women. It also suggests that gender separatism, the devaluation of girls and women, normalized child abuse, including arranged child marriages of both boys and girls, sexual repression, misogyny (sometimes inspired by misogynist interpretations of the Qur’an), and the demands made by an increase in the violent ideology of jihad all lead to murderous levels of aggression towards girls and women. One only has to kill a few girls and women to keep the others in line. Honor killings are, in a sense, a form of domestic terrorism, meant to ensure that Muslim women wear the Islamic veil, have Muslim babies, and mingle only with other Muslims.

Since Muslim immigration and, therefore, family networks are more restricted in North America than in Europe, honor-killing fathers may feel that the entire burden for upholding standards for female behavior falls heavily upon them and them alone. This may account for the fact that fathers are responsible 100 percent of the time for the honor murders of the youngest-age victims. In Europe and in the Muslim world, that burden may more easily be shared by sons and brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.

What Must Be Done

How can this problem be addressed? Immigration, law enforcement, and religious authorities must all be included in education, prevention, and prosecution efforts in the matter of honor killings.

In addition, shelters for battered Muslim girls and women should be established and multilingual staff appropriately trained in the facts about honor killings. For example, young Muslim girls are frequently lured back home by their mothers. When a shelter resident receives such a phone call, the staff must immediately go on high alert. The equivalent of a federal witness protection program for the intended targets of honor killings should be created; England has already established such a program.[12] Extended safe surrogate family networks must be created to replace existing family networks; the intended victims themselves, with enormous assistance, may become each other’s “sisters.”

In addition, clear government warnings must be issued to Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu immigrants and citizens: Honor killings must be prosecuted in the West, and perpetrators, accomplices, and enablers must all be prosecuted. Participating families should be publicly shamed. Criminals must be deported after they have served their sentences.

Western judicial systems and governments have recently begun to address this problem. In 2006, a Danish court convicted nine members of a clan for the honor murder of Ghazala Khan.[13] In 2009, a German court sentenced a father to life in prison for having ordered his son to murder his sister for the family honor while the 20-year-old son was sentenced to nine and a half years.[14] In another case, a British court, with the help of testimony from the victim’s mother and fiancé, convicted a father of a 10-year-old honor murder after the crime was reclassified;[15] and, for the first time, the Canadian government informed new immigrants:

Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, “honour killings,” female genital mutilation or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada’s criminal laws.[16]

Islamic gender apartheid is a human rights violation and cannot be justified in the name of cultural relativism, tolerance, anti-racism, diversity, or political correctness. As long as Islamist groups continue to deny, minimize, or obfuscate the problem, and government and police officials accept their inaccurate versions of reality, women will continue to be killed for honor in the West.

The battle for women’s rights is central to the battle for Europe and for Western values. It is a necessary part of true democracy, along with freedom of religion, tolerance for homosexuals, and freedom of dissent. Here, then, is exactly where the greatest battle of the twenty-first century is joined.

Phyllis Chesler is emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies at the Richmond College of the City University of New York and co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women’s Health Network. The author wishes to thank Jonathan Francis Carmona, graduate student at Hunter College, CUNY, for the statistical tests for this study, and Prof. Howard Lune, director of the Graduate Social Research Program at Hunter College.

Table One: Entire Population (N = 230)

REGION Worldwide North America Europe Muslim World
AVERAGE AGE 23 25 22 23
Killed by Family of Origin1,2 66 49 66 72
Family Position1
Daughter/Sister 53 50 49 56
Wife/Girlfriend 23 27 34 17
Other3 24 33 27 27
Paternal Participation4 37 53 39 31
Multiple Perpetrators 42 42 45 41
Multiple Victims1 17 30 7 21
Tortured1 53 39 67 49
“too Western” 58 91 71 43
“sexual impropriety” 42 9 29 57

1 Significant according to a chi square test.
2 Family of origin includes fathers, mothers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.
3 “Other” includes mothers, aunts, cousins, and no familial relation.
4 Significant according to a Pearson correlation test.

Table Two: Women Only, All Ages (N = 214)

REGION Worldwide North America Europe Muslim World
AVERAGE AGE 23 26 21 23
Killed by Family of Origin1,2 69 52 66 75
Family Position1
Daughter/Sister 56 52 53 58
Wife/Girlfriend 24 28 37 17
Other3 20 20 10 25
Paternal Participation4 39 52 42 33
Multiple Perpetrators 42 45 44 40
Multiple Victims1 18 30 7 21
Tortured1 54 35 68 51
“too Western” 58 89 73 44
“sexual impropriety” 42 11 27 56

1 Significant according to a chi square test.
2 Family of origin includes fathers, mothers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.
3 “Other” includes mothers, aunts, cousins, and no familial relation.
4 Significant according to a Pearson correlation test.

Table Three: Females 25 Years of Age and Younger (N = 129)

REGION Worldwide North America Europe Muslim World
AVERAGE AGE 17 18 18 17
Killed by Family of Origin1,2 81 94 77 82
Family Position1
Daughter/Sister 74 94 67 73
Wife/Girlfriend 14 0 20 14
Other3 3 6 13 13
Paternal Participation4 54 88 54 46
Multiple Perpetrators 46 75 46 38
Multiple Victims1 17 30 8 20
Tortured1 53 25 72 47
“too Western” 57 88 74 38
“sexual impropriety” 43 12 26 62

1 Significant according to a chi square test.
2 Family of origin includes fathers, mothers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.
3 “Other” includes mothers, aunts, cousins, and no familial relation.
4 Significant according to a Pearson correlation test.

Table Four: Females 18 Years of Age and Younger (N = 68)

REGION Worldwide North America Europe Muslim World
AVERAGE AGE 15 15 14 13
Killed by Family of Origin1,2 89 90 86 90
Family Position1
Daughter/Sister 82 100 78 79
Wife/Girlfriend 8 0 13 6
Other3 10 0 9 15
Paternal Participation4 70 100 68 61
Multiple Perpetrators 39 80 32 32
Multiple Victims1 25 29 16 30
Tortured1 55 30 83 58
“too Western” 55 80 67 41
“sexual impropriety” 45 20 33 59

1 Significant according to a chi square test.
2 Family of origin includes fathers, mothers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.
3 “Other” includes mothers, aunts, cousins, and no familial relation.
4 Significant according to a Pearson correlation test.

Table Five: Females 26 Years of Age and Older (N = 51)

REGION Worldwide North America Europe Muslim World
AVERAGE AGE 36 40 31 37
Killed by Family of Origin1,2 44 0 31 65
Family Position1
Daughter/Sister 24 0 13 37
Wife/Girlfriend 55 89 87 26
Other3 21 11 0 37
Paternal Participation4 8 0 13 7
Multiple Perpetrators 30 11 43 30
Multiple Victims1 9 29 8 5
Tortured1 45 44 53 44
“too Western” 56 88 69 38
“sexual impropriety” 44 12 31 62

1 Significant according to a chi square test.
2 Family of origin includes fathers, mothers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.
3 “Other” includes mothers, aunts, cousins, and no familial relation.
4 Significant according to a Pearson correlation test.


This study analyzes 172 incidents and 230 honor-killing victims. The information was obtained from the English-language media around the world with one exception. There were 100 victims murdered for honor in the West, including 33 in North America and 67 in Europe. There were 130 additional victims in the Muslim world. Most of the perpetrators were Muslims, as were their victims, and most of the victims were women.

The perpetrators and victims in this study lived in the following twenty-nine countries or territories: Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Gaza Strip, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the West Bank.

In general, statistically significant interactions were found for age, geographical region, the participation of multiple perpetrators (mainly members of the victim’s family of origin, including the victim’s father), family position, multiple victims, the use of torture, and the stated motive for the murder. Between 1989 and 2009, honor killings also escalated over time in a statistically significant way.

Worldwide, the majority of victims were women; a mere 7 percent were men. Only five men were killed by their families of origin whereas the rest of the male victims were killed by the families of the women with whom they were allegedly consorting or planning to consort with either within or outside of marriage. The murdered male victims were usually perceived as men who were unacceptable due to lower class or caste status, because the marriage had not been arranged by the woman’s family of origin, because they were not the woman’s first cousin, or because the men allegedly engaged in pre- or extramarital sex. Men were rarely killed when they were alone; 81 percent were killed when the couple in question was together.

Although Sikhs and Hindus do sometimes commit such murders, honor killings, both worldwide and in the West, are mainly Muslim-on-Muslim crimes. In this study, worldwide, 91 percent of perpetrators were Muslims. In North America, most killers (84 percent) were Muslims, with only a few Sikhs and even fewer Hindus perpetrating honor killings; in Europe, Muslims comprised an even larger majority at 96 percent while Sikhs were a tiny percentage. In Muslim countries, obviously almost all the perpetrators were Muslims. With only two exceptions, the victims were all members of the same religious group as their murderers.

In the West, 76 individuals or groups of multiple perpetrators killed one hundred people. Of these perpetrators, 37 percent came from Pakistan; 17 percent were of Iraqi origin while Turks and Afghans made up 12 and 11 percent, respectively. The remainder, just under a quarter in all, came from Albania, Algeria, Bosnia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guyana, India, Iran, Morocco, and the West Bank.

Why Would Anyone Want to Blow Up Times Square?

Filed under: Uncategorized — BLOGGER X @ 6:07 am

Why Would Anyone Want to Blow Up Times Square?

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
May 5, 2010

When news comes of Muslims engaging in violence, the triad of politicians, law enforcement, and media invariably presumes that the perpetrator suffers from some mental or emotional incapacity. (For a quick listing of examples, see my collection at “Sudden Jihad or ‘Inordinate Stress’ at Ft. Hood?“).

Instead, I argue, they should begin with a presumption of jihadi intent. That is, the default expectation should be ideological passion, not insanity. Spreading Islam and applying Islamic law are the goals. Of course, some crazy Muslims exist and they do engage in violence, but they constitute a microscopic percentage of the 15,247 Muslim terrorist incidents since 9/11, as counted by

The failed effort to blow up an SUV in New York’s Times Square prompted speculation about the would-be bomber’s motives even before the identity of Faisal Shahzad, an immigrant from Pakistan, had been made public. The Nation‘s Robert Dreyfuss discounted the possibility of a jihadi from the Pakistan-based Taliban, “it seems far more likely to me [he] was either a lone nut job or a member of some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-government far right.”

Then, just hours after Shahzad had been arrested, authorities rushed to assure the public his action had nothing to do with Islam. Examples from May 4:

The establishment agrees – Islam played no role in Faisal Shahzad’s attempted terrorism.
  • Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York City: the bomb could have been placed by “somebody with a political agenda who doesn’t like the health care bill or something. It could be anything.”
  • Mahkdoom Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister: “This is a blow back [for U.S. military activities in Pakistan]. This is a reaction. This is retaliation. And you could expect that. Let’s not be naive. They’re not going to sort of sit and welcome you eliminate them. They’re going to fight back.”
  • Nadeem Haider Kiani, spokesman for the Pakistani embassy in Washington: it’s too soon to tell exactly what motivated the bomber but early indications suggest he is “a disturbed individual.”
  • Cable News Network: “It can confirmed that his house has been foreclosed in recent years. I mean, one would have to imagine that brought a lot of pressure and a lot of heartache on that family.”
  • CBS News: “It isn’t clear if more suspects are at large OR what the motive could be.”
  • The Washington Post: Under the title, “The economic crisis meets terrorism,” Ezra Klein notes that Shahzad’s house was foreclosed and comments: “This guy is like string theory for the media: He brings together the seemingly incompatible stories that drove the past decade. That said, you of course don’t want to speculate on why someone ‘really’ did something. The hearts of men are opaque, and motives are complex.”

And here’s a collection from today’s papers

  • Law enforcement (as reported by NY1): “Investigators say they still have no motive for Shahzad’s actions.” (May 5, 2010)
  • Kifyat Ali, a relative of Shahzad’s: “We are shocked. He had no connection with any political party or jihadi group.” (May 5, 2010)
  • Associated Press headline: “NY car bomb suspect cooperates, but motive mystery.” (May 5, 2010)
  • Associated Press story: “Federal officials aren’t talking about a motive in the arrest of a naturalized U.S. citizen charged with attempting to set off a bomb in New York’s Times Square.” (May 5, 2010)
  • New York Post “exclusive”: Shahzad “said he was driven to evil by the slew of deaths among leaders of the terror group, law-enforcement sources revealed yesterday. Sources said he was an eyewitness to the onslaught throughout the eight months he spent in Pakistan beginning last summer.” (May 5, 2010)
  • USA Today headline: “Motive of NYC car bomb suspect remains a mystery.” (May 5, 2010)
  • The Guardian headline: “Times Square bomb: Pakistanis puzzled by bomber’s motives.” (May 5, 2010)


(1) Some of these interpretations say the motives are mysterious, some of them speculate about one thing or another – but all assiduously avoid the elephant in the room.

(2) You can’t win a war if you don’t have the courage to name the enemy.

(3) Naming the enemy means changing some of the more pleasant aspects of Western life, and so is tough to do.

(4) I expect that naming the enemy will occur only after a cataclysm ends our patience with minced words.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

MacEoin in MEQ on Anwar al-Awlaki: “I Pray that Allah Destroys America”‏

Filed under: Uncategorized — BLOGGER X @ 5:55 am

Anwar al-Awlaki: “I Pray that Allah Destroys America”

by Denis MacEoin
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2010, pp. 13-19

Awlaki is routinely given the title of “imam” and is described as “a Muslim scholar.” On film, he sits in front of an Islamic text or a Qur’an, reading from the Arabic text and translating into English. In reality, his credentials as an Islamic scholar are insubstantial. By his own admission, his Islamic education amounts to only a matter of months here and there.

“We will implement the rule of God on earth by the tip of the sword.”[1] These words are among many coming from the pen and tongue of one of Islamic terrorism’s leading proponents. Anwar al-Awlaki (Anwar Nasser Abdullah al-‘Awlaqi) is not as well known in the West as Osama bin Laden, but for growing numbers of radical and radicalizing Muslims, he is a beacon. Osama bin Laden does not speak fluent English, but Awlaki is American born of Yemeni parents in Las Cruces, New Mexico and is fluent in both English and Arabic. He is an inspiring, clever orator who speaks directly to the concerns of young Muslims in the West, be they converts or born-Muslims like himself. So powerful is his appeal that he has been described as the “bin Laden of the Internet.”[2] In more practical terms, he was given the rank of a regional commander of Al-Qaeda in Yemen in late 2009.[3]

A Fort Hood Tie-in

With roots in Yemen, Awlaki is currently holed up in an obscure corner of that country. However, whatever cover he may have sought there came to an end late in 2009 following the massacre at Fort Hood when it was revealed that the gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, had been in close contact with him. At least eighteen e-mails passed between the pair from December 2008 to June 2009.[4] After the massacre, Awlaki justified Hasan’s actions, saying, “Because the goal was targeted by him [Nidal Hasan], and it was a military target inside the United States, there is no dispute about it [being right].”[5] He went on record praising Hasan at length:

Nidal Hassan is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. … Any decent Muslim cannot live, understanding properly his duties towards his Creator and his fellow Muslims, and yet serve as a US soldier. The US is leading the war against terrorism, which in reality is a war against Islam. Its army is directly invading two Muslim countries and indirectly occupying the rest through its stooges. …

Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.

The heroic act of brother Nidal also shows the dilemma of the Muslim-American community. Increasingly they are being cornered into taking stances that would either make them betray Islam or betray their nation. …

No scholar with a grain of Islamic knowledge can defy the clear cut proofs that Muslims today have the right—rather the duty—to fight against American tyranny.[6]

Awlaki Poses as a Muslim Scholar

Awlaki has a widespread reputation as a respected Muslim cleric. When Nidal Malik Hasan approached Awlaki by e-mail, it was ostensibly for “spiritual guidance” although it is reasonable to presume that Awlaki’s counsel crossed the line into advice on jihad.

Introductions to Awlaki’s talks regularly feature him as a man of learning. He is routinely given the title of “imam” and is described as “a Muslim scholar.”[7] On film, he sits in front of an Islamic text, a Qur’an, or a work by thirteenth-century Muslim scholar Ibn Taymiyya, reading from the Arabic text and translating into English. He has, indeed, served as an imam in Fort Collins, Colorado, at the Al-Ribat al-Islami mosque in San Diego (1996-2000), at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Washington, D.C. (from 2001), and as Muslim chaplain at George Washington University. His talks and sermons are available in books, on CDs, and as YouTube clips.[8]

In the broadest sense, he stands in the first line of motivators for violent jihad of all kinds. His influence can be guessed at by the fact there have been almost three million viewings of these clips, perhaps as many auditions of online recordings, and a steady stream of glowing comments cheering on his exhortations to kill nonbelievers, especially U.S. troops or Israelis.[9] As a result, he has been accused of being “a coordinator, even a facilitator, or talent recruiter if you will, for al Qaeda and all of its franchises”[10] although in reality, his role may be less formal.

According to the New York-based NEFA Foundation (Nine Eleven Finding Answers Foundation), a terrorism research think tank, “There is no other comparable pro-Al-Qaida, American figure who has such tremendous access to audiences or who has such credibility.”[11] Reports New York Times writer Scott Shane, “In nearly a dozen recent terrorism cases in the United States, Britain, and Canada, investigators discovered the suspects had something in common: a devotion to the message of Anwar al-Awlaki.”[12] The groups and individuals involved have included three of the 9/11 hijackers;[13] the “Toronto 18” (2006);[14] Shain Duka, one of the Fort Dix plotters (2007);[15] the Somali affiliate of Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab;[16] Nidal Malik Hasan (2009);[17] Mohammed Hamid arrested on charges of organizing British terrorist training camps;[18] and most recently, the Nigerian would-be bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.[19]

Yet, much like Al-Qaeda operatives and other Islamists, Awlaki in reality has insubstantial credentials as an Islamic scholar. By his own admission, his education in Islamic subjects amounted to only a matter of months here and there with different ulema.[20] A few months would have been much too short a time in which to engage in serious study, particularly the number of classic texts he claims to have read. But Awlaki’s veneer of learning combined with his lack of formality may be a secret of his success. He does not carry the baggage of a regular scholar but speaks in clear English well larded with quotations in Arabic that display an apparent knowledge of Qur’anic and other texts. In his celebrated lecture, “The Dust Will Never Settle Down,”[21] for example, he addresses the question of what to do with nonbelievers who insult the Prophet Muhammad in any way, illustrating his theme with lengthy accounts of cases where Muhammad ordered or permitted the assassination of poets and others who had offended him. In measured, fluent tones, he gives a powerful impression of erudition, of an awareness of source materials, of Arabic texts, and historical understanding. So convincing is all this that he succeeds in turning acts of open treachery and assassination into religious virtues, as he states in a February blog entry: “I pray that Allah destroys America and all its allies.”[22]

Awlaki’s American Connection

Awlaki was born in Las Cruces in 1971 to parents who had immigrated some years earlier from Yemen. His father Nasser held a master’s degree in agricultural economics from New Mexico State University, a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, and was a faculty member at the University of Minnesota (1975-77). He later became the Yemeni minister for agriculture and president of San’a University.[23] While this says nothing about whether Awlaki, Sr. was a Muslim radical, it suggests a home background grounded in education and a positive attitude toward learning. The Awlakis returned to Yemen in 1978 when Anwar was seven. By the time he returned to the United States in 1991, he had received some eleven years of schooling in a secular high school in San’a, along with children from other elite families, improving his Arabic to a high degree while retaining and advancing his English.

He returned to the United States at eighteen and earned a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University (1994), followed by a master’s of arts in education leadership from San Diego State University. He worked on but does not seem to have finished a Ph.D. in Human Resource Development at George Washington University (January-December 2001). It is worth remarking on the close links between Islamic radicals and the sciences and technology as large numbers of terrorists and terrorist backers have studied for degrees in science, engineering, or medicine and have worked in these fields.[24] Like others, Awlaki seems to have transferred a literalist understanding of scientific texts to a blind acceptance of Islamic material. He presents the Qur’an and other texts to his audiences as unquestionable sources of truth that demand the obedience and the dutiful action of the believer.

Between June 1999 and March 2000, the FBI opened an investigation into Awlaki. He was already under suspicion as vice president of a San Diego-based Muslim charity, the Charitable Society for Social Welfare, considered to be “a front organization to funnel money to terrorists.”[25] He was now being investigated for fundraising for the Palestinian terror organization Hamas, for possible direct links to Al-Qaeda, and for a visit paid to him by a close associate of Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.[26] A Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego was eager to get enough on Awlaki in order to probe him thoroughly. A judge in Denver signed off on an arrest warrant on the grounds of passport fraud, but for reasons that are not known, the felony arrest warrant was rescinded by the Denver U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2002. The following day, October 10, Awlaki returned to the United States from a visit to Yemen and was intercepted as a terror suspect at the JFK airport in New York (he was on a terror watch list), questioned but released on the grounds that there was no open warrant allowing security personnel to arrest him.[27]

Preaching Hatred

Awlaki left the United States again soon afterwards and settled in London. Here, he embarked on a series of lectures at the Al-Tawhid mosque, a well-known center for radical preaching.[28] His reputation seems to have risen by leaps and bounds: In June 2003, a year or so after his arrival in England, he was a guest speaker at a meeting of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), the official arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.K. Following this, the MAB organized a series of meetings with Awlaki as speaker.[29]

In October of the same year, the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE), a major Islamist group with centers across Europe,[30] invited him to speak at a major event, and two months later, Awlaki spoke at an event organized by the East London Mosque,[31] a center linked to the IFE, with a reputation for Deobandi-style radicalism and an attachment to the teachings of the two great fundamentalists of the twentieth century, Abu’l-‘Ala Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb. Most worrying are his links to Islamic societies at several places of higher education, including City University, Westminster University, the University of London, and the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS). Since then he has been actively promoted by “some of the United Kingdom’s most prominent Islamist organizations.”[32] More disturbingly, he made a positive impression on some individuals who should have known better than to take him at face value, including Osama Saeed, chief executive of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation and a parliamentary candidate in the 2010 election. Saeed proclaimed that Awlaki “preached nothing but peace.”[33] Azad Ali, president of the Civil Service Islamic Society, a council member of the rights group Liberty, and an advisor on Islamic extremism to a Whitehall counterterrorism panel that provides advice to the U.K.’s director of public prosecutions and most senior prosecutor,[34] spoke of his love for Awlaki and described him as “one of my favourite speakers and scholars.”[35] Both men have dropped Awlaki since the revelations of late 2009.

Awlaki’s links with Saeed and Ali came in for criticism, and in 2003, Louise Ellman, a member of the British parliament, raised the issue of his relationship with the Muslim Association of Britain in the House of Commons when speaking of the links between radical Islamic groups and anti-Semitism:

It is time that the spotlight fell on the Muslim Association of Britain, particularly the key figures, such as Azzam Tamimi, Kamal el Helbawy, Anas Al-Tikriti and Mohammed Sawalha. All of them are connected to the terrorist organisation Hamas. The Muslim Association of Britain itself is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood … It is militantly anti-Semitic and always has been.

In June 2003, the Muslim Association of Britain organised a series of meetings with an American imam, Anwar Al Awlaki, as guest speaker. That gentleman is reportedly wanted for questioning by the FBI in connection with the 9/11 al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. [36]

That his notoriety had by now reached the British parliament may have intimated to Awlaki that he was close to overstaying his welcome in the U.K. and that he might well face scrutiny from the British security services as he had done in the United States. He abandoned the U.K. in early 2004, flying with his wife and five children to Yemen where he resumed residence in his ancestral home in a southern province called Shabwa. He began to lecture at San’a’s Iman University, an institution founded and maintained by Abdul-Majid az-Zindani, designated a terrorist by the U.S. Treasury and a sanctioned affiliate of Al-Qaeda by the U.N. The university is an institution with some 6,000 students, and is, in effect, a madrasa or school for Islamic religious instruction.[37]

Arrested in Yemen

Things took a new turn on August 31, 2006, when Awlaki was arrested by the Yemeni police. There has been dispute about the reason for this arrest, but one plausible explanation seems to be that Washington persuaded Yemen to take him into custody, providing an opportunity to interrogate him. In an interview for Cageprisoners carried out by former Guantánamo Bay inmate Moazzam Begg, Awlaki confirms that he was questioned by the FBI. The interrogation, he states, continued on and off for a year.[38]

Whatever the outcome of those interviews, no charges were brought, and Awlaki was released on December 12, 2007. It may well be the case that political influence was brought to bear, a possibility suggested by the fact that his name was found on a list of one hundred prisoners whose release was demanded by Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen where the Awlaki tribe carries considerable influence.[39] It is understood that the Awlakis provide protection for Al-Qaeda militants against the government.[40] Awlaki himself is thought to be living in his home province, enjoying the same level of protection.

An Advisor to Mass Murderers

Awlaki’s role as a fomenter of violence was further publicized after the December 25, 2009 attempt to down an airliner on its descent to Detroit. The Nigerian Muslim responsible for the nearly successful bombing, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is thought to have met Awlaki while studying at Iman University in San’a and appears to have been a fan of his talks.[41] One report indicates that Abdulmutallab told the FBI that Awlaki had been one of his trainers at a remote Al-Qaeda camp in Yemen and that the two men had met during Abdulmutallab’s final weeks of training and indoctrination.[42]

For a time, it was thought Awlaki had been killed in a raid on December 24, 2009, when Yemeni jets hit a meeting of leading Al-Qaeda operatives. The attack killed some thirty militants, including Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the regional Al-Qaeda leader, and his deputy Saeed ash-Shihri.[43] Two days later, however, the FBI stated that they did not believe Awlaki had been among the victims.[44]

It would seem then that Anwar al-Awlaki is one of the most successful spokesmen for radical Islam, using a non-Islamic language and modern technology to spread his message on the widest basis possible. Muslims have exonerated him on the grounds that he has never done anything directly criminal, but it is clear that he achieves his results through the manipulation of others, men like Nidal Malik Hasan and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. When he preaches to radicals, the result is confirmation of their religious right to kill non-Muslims; and when moderate Muslims listen to his CDs and Internet broadcasts, his erudition, his conviction, and his rhetorical ability all combine to form an impression that it is godly to speak in this way and to carry out acts of violence. As Yemen acquires a reputation as a third base for Al-Qaeda, it is likely that Awlaki will resurface to play a leading role in the recruitment and motivation of yet more misguided young Muslims, not just in Yemen but worldwide.

Denis MacEoin is editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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