They don’t seem to get it do they. In Egypt, “one of the country’s highest Islamic authorities, Dar al-Ifta, warned that the Charlie Hebdo cover cartoon, again depicting the Prophet Muhammad, would exacerbate tensions between the secular West and observant Muslims.”
And given their statement one asks, will it happen again? Will two ignorant and out-of-work Muslim brothers pick up on the call from the Islamic authorities and look for other targets for assassination? The Islamic authorities, whoever they are (and from where did they get that authority?) don’t seem to get the very simplest things, do they, “sticks and stones may break my bones” but names (or Charlie caricatures) will never hurt me.
And as in Egypt, although the response is more nuanced, so in France, where millions demonstrated over the weekend to show their support for Charlie and freedom of expression. These Islamic establishment figures are still not seeing the forest for the trees.
This was made clear by the French Muslim organizations who issued a joint statement on Tuesday expressing concern about the “numerous anti-Muslim acts observed these days,” and calling on the authorities to guarantee the security of mosques. [They also] commented on the new Charlie Hebdo cover, urging French Muslims to “remain calm and avoid emotive or incongruous reactions incompatible with dignity,” while “respecting freedom of opinion.”
Is that how they see the cold blooded murders of the Charlie Hebdo writers, editors, and cartoonists? That instead of remaining calm the Kouachi brothers, members of the Umma, or nation of Islam, had simply given in to emotive and incongruous reactions, incompatible with dignity.
They certainly did that. There’s no dignity about a Kalashnikov in the hands of a hooded terrorist. Furthermore the “joint statement” does imply that one can excuse the brothers for that, given the deliberately disrespectful provocations regularly turned out by the Parisian satirical journal.
Islam doesn’t get it, doesn’t get what a tiny minority of Islamic fanatics is doing to a world religion that might have been, and still could be a force for good in our world. At present it’s being torn apart by the crazies in their midst and the “authorities,” whoever they are, are not stepping up to the plate and taking strong and positive action to reel in the Al Qaeda, ISIS, Wahhabi and any number of other fanatical sects that are now setting the agenda for all of Islam.
But there is one Muslim, whom I’ve just earlier today encountered thanks to my daughter who sent me the link. This guy really gets it. His name is Abdennour Bidar, Abdennour meaning appropriately Serviteur de la Lumière.
In a previous Blog I posted his open letter to the Muslim Umma or world. Now in response to the Islamic authorities in Egypt and France and elsewhere I’d like to cite here below a few passages from his letter, with alongside my perhaps a bit free translation.
Would that Bidar’s words be seen and read by all those Muslim authorities who, while not terrorists themselves, are, by their failure to lead, encouraging the very worst, destructive, fringe elements of their own world.
Tu as choisi de considérer que Mohammed était prophète et roi. Tu as choisi de définir l’islam comme religion politique, sociale, morale, devant régner comme un tyran aussi bien sur l’Etat que sur la vie civile, aussi bien dans la rue et dans la maison qu’à l’intérieur même de chaque conscience. Tu as choisi de croire et d’imposer que l’islam veut dire soumission alors que le Coran lui-même proclame qu’« Il n’y a pas de contrainte en religion » (La ikraha fi Dîn). Tu as fait de son Appel à la liberté l’empire de la contrainte! Comment une civilisation peut-elle trahir à ce point son propre texte sacré?
…. Alors ne fais plus semblant de t’étonner, je t’en prie, que des démons tels que le soi-disant Etat islamique t’aient pris ton visage! Les monstres et les démons ne volent que les visages qui sont déjà déformés par trop de grimaces ! Et si tu veux savoir comment ne plus enfanter de tels monstres, je vais te le dire. C’est simple et très difficile à la fois. Il faut que tu commences par réformer toute l’éducation que tu donnes à tes enfants, dans chacune de tes écoles, chacun de tes lieux de savoir et de pouvoir. Que tu les réformes pour les diriger selon des principes universels (même si tu n’es pas le seul à les transgresser ou à persister dans leur ignorance) : la liberté de conscience, la démocratie, la tolérance et le droit de cité pour toute la diversité des visions du monde et des croyances, l’égalité des sexes et l’émancipation des femmes de toute tutelle masculine, la réflexion et la culture critique du religieux dans les universités, la littérature, les médias. Tu ne peux plus reculer, tu ne peux plus faire moins que tout cela ! C’est le seul moyen pour toi de ne plus enfanter de tels monstres, et si tu ne le fais pas tu seras bientôt dévasté par leur puissance de destruction.
You chose to believe that Mohammed was both prophet and king. You chose to define Islam as a political, social, and moral religion, that would reign as a tyrant, over the state as over the people, on the street, in their homes, and even within the consciousness of each one of them. You chose to believe it yourselves, as well as to impose your belief on everyone, that Islam meant submission. And you did this while the Coran clearly states “there is no compulsion in religion.” In fact, you have turned what was a call to freedom into a reign of coercion! How can your betrayal of a civilization’s own most sacred text be possible?
…. So please no longer pretend to be amazed that monsters and demons such as the so-called Islamic state have presumed to be you, have taken your face! Monsters and demons take on only the faces of those already deformed and distorted. If you want to know how to no longer give birth to such monsters I’ll tell you. It’s easy but hard at the same time. To start you have to completely reform the education you give your children, in each and every one of your schools, in each of your own places of knowledge and power. Your reforms should be directed and instituted in accordance with these universal principles… — freedom of conscience, democracy, tolerance, full civil rights and citizenship for the whole diversity of world views and beliefs, absolute equality of the sexes, meaning women rendered free of male guardianship, free reign of critical thinking and questioning within religions, universities and the media. From this you cannot go back, you cannot do less than this. It’s the only way not to go on giving birth to the monsters of hate that we have seen of late. If you don’t take these steps, and soon, you will be overwhelmed yourselves by the destructive power of your creations, now turned against you.
Probably not as terrorists. Certainly not as the embodiment of evil out to destroy the good. We actually know a lot about how they see themselves. They speak often of the validity, the rightness if not the goodness of their cause. Here are two examples.
One from the Pakistani Five. Do you remember, those five Americans who traveled to Pakistan and were arrested by anti-terror authorities in Pakistan and accused of plotting terrorist acts? They told a court Monday that they had intended to cross the border into Afghanistan to wage Jihad against Western forces. And they denied any links to Al Qaeda or plans to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
Here is what one of the five, Ramy Zamzam, a 22-year old Egyptian American, told The Associated Press as he entered the courtroom, “We are not terrorists…We are Jihadists, and Jihad is not terrorism.”
Why were they going to Afghanistan? They said they only intended to help their Muslim brothers who are in trouble, who are bleeding and who are being victimized by Western armies.
Jihad, of course, has several different meanings in Islam. Zamzam seemed to be referring to Jihad as the duty to fight against the foreign armies illegitimately occupying Muslim lands. That may be the meaning of Jihad closest to Al Qaeda’s founder, Bin Laden himself.
According to one Web definition: “Jihad is one of the words that have been misused due to misunderstanding its true meaning. The word “Jihad” is derived from the Arabic word “Jahd” which means fatigue or the word “Juhd” which means effort. A Mujahid is he who strives in the Cause of Allah and exerts efforts which makes him feel fatigued. The word “Jihad” means exerting effort to achieve a desired thing or prevent an undesired one. In other words, it is an effort that aims at bringing about benefit or preventing harm.”
Shouldn’t we at least raise the question whether these people, mostly Muslims, such as the Pakistani Five, who are flocking to those areas of the Muslim world currently occupied by foreign armies, are only trying to free their “brothers,” not principally, in spite of their words and the suicide actions of some to that effect, trying to destroy our Western civilization?
Here is my other example of how these people see themselves, this one in the words of Anjem Choudary, a 42-year-old lawyer and the British-born son of a Pakistani immigrant, and the leader of a protest march planned for the streets of Wootton Bassett, the small English town that has achieved iconic status in Britain for honoring the passing hearses of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
“Our protest march,” according to Choudary, “will be held not in memory of the occupying and merciless British military, but rather the real war dead who have been shunned by the Western media and general public as they were and continue to be horrifically murdered in the name of democracy and freedom, the innocent Muslim men, women and children.”
In his open letter to the families of the 246 British soldiers killed in Afghanistan since the toppling of the Taliban in 2001 Choudary goes on to say, “It is worth reminding those who are still not blinded by the media propaganda that Afghanistan is not a British town near Wootton Bassett but rather Muslim land which no one has the right to occupy, with a Muslim population who do not deserve their innocent men, women and children to be killed for political mileage and for the greedy interests of the oppressive U.S. and U.K. regimes.”
Now if this were a debate, and if there were not so many lives at stake, if there were not suicide bombers always waiting in the wings before stepping onto the stage and blowing themselves up, and if somehow the innocent were not dying in such large numbers, well then there would be two readily defendable sides to the question. And in that case the topic for debate might be: Western Forces Should Immediately Leave Afghanistan.
Actually, I happen to agree with that statement, that our forces should leave Afghanistan, and also Iraq. If the actual wars were not such terrible things, if the seemingly endless line of suicide bombers were not almost daily murdering innocent civilians caught in the cross fire, I would gladly defend my position in debate. As it is the two sides are bent on their mutual destruction, not in words, but in blood, and talking is probably quite out of the question.