A Disgrace and an Insult to Peaceful Muslims
We now find that the disgusting creep who dressed up as a suicide bomber during the protests outside the Danish Embassy, during which threats were made to behead, blow up, and otherwise kill Danes, is a man named Omar Khayam. According to the BBC,
Khayam is a convicted drug dealer who was free from jail on licence at the time of the protest.
All the decent Muslims the world over should know what kind of trash is misrepresenting them.
It’s good to know that Ayatollah ali al Sistani has both criticized the cartoons (which were, indeed, at least in bad taste) and those who have exploited the occasion to act violently. The sad fact is that it’s news when a few hundred people burn down a building or wave signs threatening to cut off heads, but it’s not news when billions of other people go about their business and when religious leaders issue statements calmly condemning violence.
16 Responses to “Maker of Bomb Threats a Poor Representative of Islam, Indeed”
Here’s something else that didn’t make the news yesterday, but should have:
Norman Borlaug got up and went to work yesterday.
Statistically, 1 day of Dr. Borlaug at work saves about 50,000 people from starving to death. If the news media had any sense of scale, he’d make the top story every single day. Instead we get a bunch of free publicity for a few hundred lunatics. Swell.
Not that I make a habit of watching Hannity & Colmes, but I was wondering if you caught what Ollie North blurted out, not once, but 3 times, in the course of an interview discussing the cartoon fallout. 3 times, he said, “The phrase ‘moderate Islam’ is an oxymoron.” He then explained that what he meant was to say the phrase “moderate Islamic leaders” is oxymoronic…before repeating what he first said two more times. No surprise that al-Sistani’s condemnation was not cited, just to disprove both of Colonel North’s observations.
What might be a real oxymoron is the phrase “candid Oliver North interview.”
I must respectfully disagree with your observation. If most muslims are against radicalism, then the greater Muslim world would have 57 liberal democratic states.
As I see it, their is a small percentage of modern Muslims that have accepted and adopted the principles of free liberalism or libertarianism. And most of these Muslims, if not all, live in the west.
You are correct in saying that the media focuses more on the negative image of Muslims. That’s what they do. And they do the same to Christians, Jews, libertarians, anti big government advocates, capitalists, the market place, gun owners, wealthy businessmen, President Bush, and a list of many others. However, my point is that these reactions against the cartoon are very telling.
If a cartoon can set off riots, what will happen when a true secular liberal government replaces an tyrannical or theocratic one? We in the west are advocating to the Muslim world to adopt liberal democracy. And in this liberal democracy, as we westerners know, religious freedom is a right and not the law. I suspect that many Muslims will find this blasphemous such as this cartoon depiction. How will they react? Will they riot? Will they accept and vote for a representative of liberal democracy? Or, will they accept and vote for a Islamic radical?
History has proven that the modern Muslim world favors radicals. Muslim radicals were put in power in Iran years ago and now Palestine. In Iraq and Afghanistan, radicals will seize power as soon as the Coalition forces pull out.
“but it’s not news when billions of other people go about their business….”
The problem I see with this is that you can’t go about your business when you are living in a unordinary society of depotism. The Muslim people can not be pacifist towards their Muslim tyrants and Muslim radicals. They need to fight for their freedom with ideas of liberty or guns if necessary.
The bottom line is that, the Muslim world is not producing Freedom advocates that will stand up to the Muslim tyrants and the Muslim radicals like the way early American revolutionaries stood up to the British empire.
I enjoy your blog and encourage you to continue to advocate liberty to those that are not free. Good luck and Thanks.
It seems obvious that there are problems in Islam as it exists today. I do not think that any other religion has people systematically, persistently blowing up themselves and others on anywhere near the scale as is found in Islam. I look at the response to the cartoons, particularly by non-Muslims who criticize the cartoons, as saying “You cannot say that, it’s in bad taste.”
Come on –there’s a real problem, and it needs to be openly discussed, in public…it is good for Muslims, not just the rest of us.
At the same time, it’s certainly not the case that this is all there is to Islam — it isn’t even obvious that most Muslims are outraged by the cartoons. And it certainly is *not* fair to say that the whole Muslim world, or anything close to it, is up in arms over this matter.
For example, the biggest anti-cartoon demonstration in Pakistan so far was in Peshawar; it’s said that a few thousand people marched. This is maybe 2 or 3 percent of the population — a big percentage for a demonstration, but still a tiny percentage.
It only takes a few to ransack a cultural center, wreck an embassy, or kill a foreigner. And when it happens in various places around the world, we should remember it still is only a few people, very possibly working in concert, and not start drawing conclusions about all or most Muslims.
For whatever it is worth, I’ve been reading through the all the online English-language versions of Pakistani newspapers I can find.
The cartoon debacle is covered, but in no paper does it have anywhere close to top billing, except for Pakistan Times, where the leading headline concerns a speech given by Pakistan’s PM, that addresses this and other issues.
If these papers are any indication, a substantial portion of the Muslim world is more concerned with other issues, such as the Iranian nuclear issue, terrorism in Balochistan, and sugar prices.
I did find an interesting editorial on how the Western press is insensitive to Arabs & Muslims and does a poor job of covering issues related to them. It’s worth reading (and doesn’t mention the Danish cartoons).
At the demonstration in London on February 3rd, demonstrators (many masked) were carrying placards saying: “Kill those who insult islam”; “be prepared for the real holocaust” and “behead those who insult islam”. Although incitement to murder is a criminal act, none of the demonstrators were arrested.
Two individual were holding a counter demonstration, handing out photocopies of the cartoons. They were arrested for breach of the peace.
The cartoon riot is not just an isolated incident of Muslim terror. What about the French riots, the British bombing, the Australian riots, the Bali bombing, the Saudi bombings, the Iraqi bombings, the Jordan bombing, the Palestinians riot on the border of Egypt, the riots about desecration of the Koran in Afghanistan, the Turkey bombings, the Lebanese assassinations, the Balsa school murder, the Russian movie theatre killings, the Bangladesh serial bombings, and the list can go on and on. The terror and violence in the Muslim world is all to often.
I am aware and I very much agree with you in that there is a large number of peaceful, law abiding Muslims. But the fact remains that the Muslim world and some Muslims, at anytime, are subjected to be witness to or perpetrate some type of devastating violence or terror on a daily basis.
I am not saying that all Muslims are violent, however, I do believe that the Muslim culture is indifferent to acts of terror or violence committed by other Muslims in the name of Islam.
This is not a problem equivalent to street crime as your tone, to me, suggest. There is a serious illness of violence in Muslim culture that is badly in need of a cure. The solution must come from enlightened Muslims that favor liberty. Sadly, moderate or liberal Muslims just can’t seem to have any influence or impact in combating this dreadful ideology of Islamic fanaticism with their fellow Muslims.
Western Politicians and Muslim apologists may deny it, but, there is and this is a clash of civilizations. Freedom and liberty versus terror and tyranny.
If you want to find out about terrible tragedies happening in the Muslim world that don’t make the headlines go to Faith Freedom International at http://www.faithfreedom.org. This site is hosted by an Iranian exile who has left the Islamic faith because he believes that Islam sanctions violence with a great disregard for human dignity and individual liberty. And he has taken it upon himself, along with co-journalists, to inform the non-Muslim world about about human rights violations that Amnesty International won’t dare to address.
As far as Pakistan goes, they don’t have a free press, it could be that the press may have been censored in any coverage of the cartoon.
I must respectfully disagree with “James Bond 2006.” It doesn’t take a large number of people to cow and intimidate the majority. Small groups of motivated fanatics can and have acted similarly in Europe to take power and to create states even more horrible than those where the worst excesses in the name of Islam are happening now (think of Fascism, National Socialism, and Communism), but few people insist that Christianity was inherently flawed or that a Christian historical tradition necessarily led to totalitarianism.
Liberal Muslims need to speak up, but then, liberal Germans needed to speak up against National Socialism, liberal Italians needed to speak up against Fascism, and liberal Russians, Estonians, Poles, and Hungarians needed to speak up against Communism. Sometimes they are successful and sometimes not. But I don’t rebuke them (think of the courageous but doomed members of the White Rose in Germany) when they fail.
Jean-Paul raises a very disturbing problem: why did the British police act as they did? It seems remarkably cowardly. And, no, I don’t think that threatening to blow up or behead your enemies is merely an example of free speech; people who make such threats in London, where there have already been terrorist attacks on the buses, should be arrested, interrogated to find out whether they are parts of a larger conspiracy, and punished.
Mr Bond (I am always hoping you are the real 007; if you are I may need to call on you someday) —
I noted that there are systematic problems in Islam; the issues go well beyond simple street crime.
I’m very aware that the Pakistani papers I cite are not arepresentative sample, and that they are not completely free. On the other hand, the picture I get from the Western media (and even moreso, from conservative blogs) is that the whole Muslim world is erupting. But that’s hard to believe, when local evidence says otherwise.
To keep things in perspective, there are, I believe, roughly 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. It is very likely that fewer than 150,000 Muslims have actually demonstrated over the cartoon issue. Even if we consider every demonstrator an advocate of violence (which would be unfair and a gross exaggeration) that’s still only 1 per 100,000 Muslims. The other 1,499,850,000 may or may not be angry, but they aren’t violent.
Pressure from a tiny minority is being leveraged by governments and radical groups, no doubt, and to bad effect, but there’s an enormous error in jumping from that to something like your statement “I do believe that the Muslim culture is indifferent to acts of terror or violence committed by other Muslims in the name of Islam.”
You’ve defined “the Muslim culture” as being that which a small (admittedly powerful) minority vocally and violently advocates. Doesn’t is make sense to suppose that a better definition of “the” Muslim culture is what the majority do?
It wouldn’t be reasonable to define “the Christian culture” as whatever Pat Robertson (or even worse, Gary North) says it is, or by the savage ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Christian Serbs against Muslims in Bosnia-Hezegovina or Kosovo, or the violence by Christian Russians against Muslims in Chechnya. So let’s exercise the same care when talking about Islam.
I think there are serious problems within the Muslim world and within Islamic thought, but when I look carefully I am pretty sure that aggressive violence and intolerance are not uniquely Muslim problems, nor are they necessarily inherent in Islam.
I hear your argument and agree with you about small groups being able to intimidate the majority. That is my point. The small minority will grow to be the majority because the greater Muslim world is indifferent to extreme violence in the name of Islam.
Where is the small minority of moderate or liberal Muslims to motivate the majority into adopting liberty, rule of law, and peace?
Where is the liberal Muslim minority to insist the Muslim world to stop using the Israeli/Palestinian situation as an excuse for their troubles in their respected nations?
Where is the liberal Muslim minority to protest the genocide of non-Muslims by Muslims in the Sudan.?
If moderate or liberal Muslims living in the west were to organize and protest the Muslim extreme violence or terror, with the same energy as the rioters, just maybe people of the would give them credit and support. However, the only time I’ve seen or heard liberal minded Muslims is when they claim that they have been a victim of racism in the USA.
I not saying that all Muslims are violent or are terrorist. However, the terrorist that are committing extreme acts of violence and terror are Muslim.
Peaceful, liberal minded Muslims must be more courageous in confronting Islamic fanaticism.
I agree what you have pointed out, but the point I am trying to make is you cannot deny that the Greater Muslim world, not all Muslims, is indifferent when it comes to terror in the name of Islam. Why is it that Muslims can be riled up about a cartoon and at the same time excuse honor killings. It seems that human rights don’t hold much weight in there culture.
It very well known and noted that the press in the Muslim world depict the same, if not worse, cartoons of non-Muslims. You don’t see a minority of non-Muslims rioting and causing destruction.
Whenever Pat Robertson or the rest of that bunch make inflammatory statements, you can be sure that they will be rebuked. This is evident when within a day or days they retract their statement and apologize. You cannot equally compare, most American Christians will not tolerate nonsense of this sort and they let it be known.
On a daily basis, other religious beliefs are ridiculed and attacked frequently in the greater Muslim world. Go to the Voice of the Martyrs, at http://www.persecution.com, and you can read
about the persecution of Christians in the Muslim world that don’t get headlines by the MSM.
Where in the western world are Muslims being persecuted with death? Where in the western world are Muslims denied to practice their religion? Where in the west do Muslims have not equal rights, man and woman?
If you were to be honest and analyze the atmosphere of the Muslim world, it is not a pleasant place to be. The sooner liberal Muslims attack the fanatic ideology with ideas of liberty, the better. Their course of action to combat extremism should look like the way Abolitionists campaigned against slavery in early America. However, right now they, liberal Muslims, are waiting for the US to do it.
I just read today that it is 700,000 in lebanon that are protesting the cartoon. That is almost 20% of the countries population. Proportionally, we would all the people that voted for Bush in ’04 to march on our nation’s capital in response to an insulting newspaper article.
Is there anything in the United States that could mobilize that many people? I think we could pass a law that the first born child of each family must be sacrificed to Satan and we still would not organize and show up with those sorts of numbers to protest.
Granted, maybe the majority are just peaceful people that just want to show that they really love their Mohammed.
But the fact the 700,000 are rallying united under the Hezbollah banner – not some “moderate” banner – says a heck of a lot. It at least says they are not very turned off by murderous thugs, and and worst says they support them. I am not sure what to think.
Joel, can you provide a citation?
All I can find on this is that people marching in celebration of Ashura also protested the cartoons. Ashura is a major Shiite holy day, and they’d all have been marching regardless.
Also, the only mention I saw of 700,000 came from Hezbollah estimates, while government estimates were at 400,000. Also, the march was largely peaceful.
Incidentally, they are *not* marching for Mohammed, but for his grandson Husain, and mourning his martyrdom. It’s a Shi’a holiday over the event that separates them from Sunnis.
I don’t mean any criticism of you, as this stuff is obscure to many of us, but it’s just one example of how we can miss crucial cultural details…and when we do, we can easily jump to wrong conclusions.
Similarly, consider Hezbollah. I don’t like Hezbollah, but maybe I’d feel differently if I were a Lebanese Muslim, since I’d have experienced my country being invaded, wrecked, and destabilized by the Israeli Army, and I couldn’t find anyone else willing to stand up against this.
Similarly, much as I hate Hamas, I understand that there are two *good* reasons why a Palestinian might have voted for them: 1) they are less corrupt than Fatah, and Fatah’s corruption is bleeding the economy, and 2) Hamas has a good record of providing social services and doing humanitarian work.
Bottom line — be careful in drawing strong & global conclusions from limited data.
Bond — maybe you misspoke, but you shouldn’t have question my honesty. And I have been writing –here, on my own blog, and elsewhere — about the very points you have raised.
What I don’t do is draw unwarranted conclusions about what *most* Muslims believe, or what Islam as a whole asserts. I don’t have data on what most Muslims believe, and neither do you. And I reject the idea that there’s really any coherency to “Islam as a whole” unless it’s what most Muslims actually believe and do.
I don’t know many Muslims, but with the ones I do know, when I have spoken with them I’ve learned that they and their beliefs are not what I imagined. The picture we get in the West is at best incomplete.
For example, it is very clear that Al Qaeda is a religious movement. So yes, there’s a problem in Islam. But it is wrong to go from “problems exist in Islam” to “Islam itself is the problem.” If the only data used are the negative ones, then the conclusion is obvious — but that’s a lousy way to reason.
The arguments that purport to show Muslims are more violent or less civilized than people of other religions — these would be as valid applied to Christians, who are well known for bloody riots and murderous assassinations in Northern Ireland, bloodthirsty bombings of abortion clinics in the U.S., turning their children over to priests to be raped, murdeing gays, etc. Or to Jews, who are well-known for coldly walking into Mosques and cruelly gunning down unarmed people praying, or assassinating political leaders who sign peace agreements.
It’s easy to play this game. But it is unfair, and causes us to mislead ourselves.
First, I must say that I did not mean to insinuate that you are dishonest. For my lack of clarity, I apologize.
The recent victory of Ha-mas in the Palestinian elections indicates to me that the Muslim majority, well at least Palestinians, are indifferent to extremism. The Palestinians had a prime opportunity to elect in moderate or liberal Muslims and they didn’t. The free world was rooting for them and the Palestinians slapped us in the face. Why would a peaceful majority elect terrorists?
In her book, “The Trouble With Islam”, Irshad Manji declares:
“….only in Islam is literalism mainstream. Which means that when abuse happens under the banner of Islam, most Muslims have no clue how to dissent, debate, revise or reform.”
If you didn’t know, Irshad Manji (http://www.muslim-refusenik.com/)is a liberal minded Canadian Muslim who is risking her life to get Muslims to come to grips with the chaos that is happening among Muslims in the Muslim world.
I know she is only one voice. She happens to be the pretty well known one. I will say that this is so, because she is a Muslim woman that is confronting and debating Muslim radicals and this make headlines. However, I have discovered some other Muslim dissidents on the web that pretty much make the same analogy. I read many of their commentary and I derived my position from them. A lot of their views and debate do not make the MSM. They are brutally up front about their dislike of human rights violations perpetrated daily by Muslims.
I don’t dispute with you that the majority of individual Muslims are peaceful. I am just saying that the Greater Muslim World tolerates and, on many occasion, endorses extremism.
James, here’s our dispute in a nutshell: “the majority of individual Muslims are peaceful. I am just saying that the Greater Muslim World tolerates and, on many occasion, endorses extremism”
I don’t know what the greater Muslim world is, if not most Muslims.
Anyway, I have noted that when you & I have disagreed, it has generally been over matters of degree. In general, you and I share the same views…and I think we both are generally right.