Sunday, July 10, 2005



Sickening

What does the local Islamic comunity think of the London bombings? This morning's Sunday Star-Times carried a message [offline] from two local Islamic leaders condemning the atrocities and denouncing the misuse of Islam to justify violence:

We believe, as do more than a billion other Muslims, in a faith that teaches us to enjoin good and forbid evil. We share the same respect for human life as do all reasonable people. Yet there are a tiny minority who say they practice the same faith that we do, but whose actions contradict its teachings. We say to them, there is nothing in Islam that can possibly justify taking innocent lives.

The faith and way of life that the overwhelming majority of our co-religionists and follow [sic] is one of justice, mercy and peace. In the Koran, God exhorts Muslims to be patient in adversity, and never to retaliate in anger. Indeed, he tells us to "return good for evil, so that your enemy will become as your closest friend".

Islam is committed to justice and Muslims are obligated to exercise peaceful means to achieve it. Our faith also recognises that a peaceful solution is not always possible, no matter how badly we want it. So if we are attacked by armed combatants, we are commanded to "fight against those who fight against you", as a last resort to defend justice and liberty.

But every possible path to a peaceful solution must be exhausted before taking up arms. When there is no other option, only then are we permitted to engage in an armed struggle for justice. And we simply cannot envisage harming innocent civilians if we must resort to arms. Islam's standards about this are clear and high, and principles are paramount.

It's particularly sickening then to see that four Islamic centres and Mosques in Auckland were vandalised overnight. New Zealand Muslims did not commit the atrocities in London, and targetting them in "revenge" displays exactly the same toxic idea of "collective responsibility" used to justify terrorism. No doubt the hatemongers who committed this petty act of "revenge" believe it is wrong to indiscriminately target Londoners for the actions of their government. But then is it not equally wrong to indiscriminately target Muslims for the actions of those who pervert their religion to justify murder? Responsibility attaches to individuals, not to groups. The perpetrators of these crimes must be punished, but those who merely share their (assumed) religion have no part in the guilt.

We're supposed to be a better country than this, damnit...

11 comments:

that one person (ok maybe a couple of people) do that says basically nothing about your country - afterall is a country's worth a function of the value of its worst member?

What speaks of your country is the broarder reaction. Which I think is not nearly that bad. Having said that sufficent terrorism can make even the most peaceful country throw down its olive branches and put the doves back in the cages.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/10/2005 10:17:00 PM

As a reasonably regular visitor to this site, I find my reactions to I/S's posts split between agreement and head-shaking embarrassment when the usual tired cliches get trotted out and proffered as a substitute for thought.

This kerfuffle is one of them. While any retaliation outside of the law should be condemned and if possible prosecuted, the baloney here about Islam being a 'religion of peace' and 'tolerance' really is too much. Still in London today there are more fatwas in existence against Salman Rushdie than there are against Bin Laden OR these bombings. Jewish cemetries and Synagogues are regularly desecrated by Muslims in Western Europe: we only have to look at the French experience of this.

As for any march of 'solidarity' with a violent, sexist and expansionist religion that still believes in the crime of Apostasy, spare me. These idiots would do better to march to show their support for the women of Saudi Arabia, the Christians in Pakistan and Aceh, let alone the Black Africans in the Sudan.

Yet, as usual, their suffering is swept under a table. Salman Rushdie's latest article on the cult of Rape in Pakistanand India is worth a read. Despite the propaganda, this is the relity of Islam.

And Idiot/Savant - it's a shame you never post the like of Rushdie here. This is my problem with your site - your concern with humanity and suffering palpably dosn't extend beyond the usual fashionable concerns of the left. When was the last time you spoke against the gender apartheid of islam??

Posted by Anonymous : 7/12/2005 03:27:00 AM

As a reasonably regular visitor to this site, I find my reactions to I/S's posts split between agreement and head-shaking embarrassment when the usual tired cliches get trotted out and proffered as a substitute for thought.

This kerfuffle is one of them. While any retaliation outside of the law should be condemned and if possible prosecuted, the baloney here about Islam being a 'religion of peace' and 'tolerance' really is too much. Still in London today there are more fatwas in existence against Salman Rushdie than there are against Bin Laden OR these bombings. Jewish cemetries and Synagogues are regularly desecrated by Muslims in Western Europe: we only have to look at the French experience of this.

As for any march of 'solidarity' with a violent, sexist and expansionist religion that still believes in the crime of Apostasy, spare me. These idiots would do better to march to show their support for the women of Saudi Arabia, the Christians in Pakistan and Aceh, let alone the Black Africans in the Sudan.

Yet, as usual, their suffering is swept under a table. Salman Rushdie's latest article on the cult of Rape in Pakistanand India is worth a read. Despite the propaganda, this is the relity of Islam.

And Idiot/Savant - it's a shame you never post the like of Rushdie here. This is my problem with your site - your concern with humanity and suffering palpably dosn't extend beyond the usual fashionable concerns of the left. When was the last time you spoke against the gender apartheid of islam??

Posted by Anonymous : 7/12/2005 03:27:00 AM

anonymous - your critique of Islam is no more balanced than what you accuse I/S of.
To speak of Islam (or Christianity for that matter) as a homogenous entity, with specific views upon virtually any subject, is ridiculous. It's as sectarian and riven by factionalism as every religion or philosophical tradition.
As to "violent, sexist and expansionist", you could apply that statement just as easily to the Destiny church, but most NZ Christians will disown Destiny in the blink of an eye.
For an interesting criticism of Islam (and much else) by an Islamic scholar, see:
http://www.shaykhabdalqadir.com/content/articles/Art043_09072005.html

Posted by Huskynut : 7/12/2005 08:31:00 AM

Let's try that URL again:
http://www.shaykhabdalqadir.com
/content/articles/Art043_09072005.html

Posted by Huskynut : 7/12/2005 08:33:00 AM

Huskynut,

I don't recall asserting that Islam IS a homogenous entity. Between the oppressed Shias in Saudi Arabia, Wahhabis, etc etc there is obviously doctrinal difference. My concern is with Islam AS IT IS PRACTICED around the world, in Thailand where there are Jihad killings as in India. I would argue that for anyone who supports gay rights, the equality of women, religious pluralism or a basic doctrine of inalienable human rights, Islam is a black hole of suffering and oppression and should be described as such. I have no sympathy for the destiny church, but I don't believe they sentence women to be raped as punishment for various 'misdeeds', as happens regularly in Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is Islam as practiced, and any delusions about it being equitable is to turn a blind eye to such atrocities.

Posted by adrienne : 7/12/2005 08:47:00 AM

Adrienne: this isn't a march of solidarity with Islam - it is a march of solidarity with our fellow New Zealanders who have come under attack for sharing an (assumed) religion with others who have committed a criminal act. Standing up against the idea of "collective guilt" is not something anyone should feel ashamed of, and it is not something which should depend on the collective concerned. Human rights are interdependent - the rights of any depend on the rights of all. If we stand by and allow Muslims to be victimised in this way, then we have no moral claim when we are victimised in turn.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/12/2005 10:13:00 AM

Idiot/Savant: I agree with everything you just said, and don't recall even refuting these points. However, you've managed spendidly to dodge the the points I raised. Indeed human rights ARE interdependent: yet we see more concern with an episode of vandalism than with the many (mostly female) victims of Islam. Let me use the example of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch-Somali apostate who is still in hiding with (at last count) 7 Fatwas (for death) issued against her for daring to draw attentionto the plight of Muslim women in Holland: here's a snippet:

AMSTERDAM — Ayaan Hirsi Ali had done well in the 10 years since she arrived in the Netherlands as a young refugee from Somalia and, until a few months ago, she lived a quiet life in her adopted land. Never did she intend to create a national commotion.

She studied Dutch, took on cleaning jobs, went to university and worked as a political scientist. She made a name for herself pressing for the emancipation of Muslim women and documenting how thousands, living even here, were subjected to beatings, incest and emotional and sexual abuse.

To the surprise of many, she became a leading voice condemning the government's support for multiculturalism, programs costing millions of dollars a year that she considers misplaced because they help keep Muslim women isolated from Dutch society.

Then Ms. Hirsi Ali, 32, began receiving hate mail, anonymous messages calling her a traitor to Islam and a slut. On several Web sites, other Muslims said she deserved to be knifed and shot. Explicit death threats by telephone soon followed. The police told her to change homes and the mayor of Amsterdam sent bodyguards. She tried living in hiding. Finally, last month, she became a refugee again, fleeing the Netherlands.


I've followed this for a long time, and not a single prominent European Muslim (as far as I can read or find) has defended her. There have been fewer fatwas issued against Osama Bin Laden. How utterly disgusting.

These are interconnected, as you say. If Muslims in New Zealand want to tell me about the 'peace loving' nature of their religion while glossing over the endemic abuse of women, then I will see them as less deserving of moral sympathy. The religion they defend creates misery, victimhood and huge suffering.

Now, I ask you, I/S. You've muttered darkly about an 'erosion' of civil liberties in Britain after 7/7 - yet what about women like Hirsi-Ali? Do they not deserve freedom of speech and protection from violence? I have seen no Muslim say 'this is against my religion' as the hundreds and hundreds threats of rape, throat-cutting and sodomy rolled in against her, and she was forced to live a life of fear, in hiding.

You write well, I/S and I often enjoy your site, but your morality is appallingly selective, and as is so often the case, the plight of women becomes a non-issue to liberals like yourself (I'm not assuming you're male). I would direct you to Salman Rushdie's article in the NY Times. Tell me what you think, please? How to address such suffering?

Posted by Adrienne : 7/12/2005 11:27:00 AM

Before I stop my rant and leave you in peace, here's a wonderful little interchange from Hirsi-Ali in a BBC radio Q+A show:


IHAB: I see that especially after 9/11, I notice that Islam has become the low fence and that anyone who wants to get famous or wealthy or whatever, just start by attacking Islam. And in most of the cases, those who attack Islam and get all these condemnations about--lack the knowledge about what Islam is, have never really practiced Islam, or they are affected by personal experiences. In most of the cases, they're negative experiences. So it is just a case with your guest and other especially ladies nowadays, who start attacking Islam and attack the lack of freedom and the lack of rights for women in Islam, and I believe anyone who knows Islam and anyone who has lived Islam knows that this is absolutely the opposite. That Islam has given more rights than any other ideology or faith or belief, and the fact that all of these negative experiences that we hear about are due to the absence of Islam and not due to the application of Islam.

CONAN: Ayaan Hirsi Ali?

Ms. HIRSI ALI: Well, this is an argument I hear often. The thing is, if you look at reality, I would absolutely love to follow the questioner, but look at the whole of the Islamic world. Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, all the Gulf states, Somalia, I mean, there's just--for the third time there is an Arab Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program, and what all these Muslim countries have in common is the willingness to defend Islam on the one hand and say there's no correlation between Islam and the oppression of women or the oppression of the individual as such. But reality differs from that, and reality is consistent with what the fundamentalists are preaching, that the individual must submit his will to Allah, and that we have to emulate the way of the prophet as much as we can. And I know of a lot of Muslims who say, `But Islam was meant to be different.' But in that case, the faith itself and those who practice the faith, the ambassadors of the faith are giving a poor example of what peace and prosperity and freedom of women and freedom of individuality and the individual is. I would say to your guest: OK, if Islam is peace, then please prove it.


These are words from someone who has geuinely suffered at the hands of this ideology. Pity she's so ignored by the Western left, but what does one expect these days?? Dare some Somali disrupt the left's fuzzy image of Islam as some noble, golden, peaceable fantasy realm?

Posted by Adrienne : 7/12/2005 12:03:00 PM

Adrienne,

Idiot blogged a fair bit about some of these issues in Pakistan when Pakistan's president Musharaf visited NZ a few weeks back. So you accuse him unfairly, I think.

I agree with you a lot of what you say. Yet you are pushing it a bit when you claim that "the Left" sees Islam as a "noble golden fantasy realm". It wasn't very long ago that opposing the Taliban, and their horrific abuse of women, was a Leftist cause. I may (often) be guilty of apathy, but not of amnesia.

You claim you're not making the mistake of seeing Islam as homogeneous. Yet you seem to want to tar it all with the same broad brush. And that is where we part company. Because I think our local (NZ) muslim community deserves better than that.

Posted by Icehawk : 7/12/2005 02:43:00 PM

We choose to subject certain things to analysis, and in other cases we suggest we should ignore those causes and focus on other related causes.

For example you might say isalm results in terrorism or for a leftist argument capitalism results in poverty. We can Think ofa million of these I guess. In all cases yu could say "it isnt [fill in the issue] it is the individual"

Those issues we agree on are often for general policy reasons - for example we dont want to alienate certain religions since if you say "your religion is bad" you will just get people annoyed.

Of course smaller reasons like "alcohol causes people to fall over" (or even an intuitive one like "getting money makes you rich") are also mediated by the individual.

But I personaly would like the intelectual honesty of acknowledging this.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/12/2005 07:21:00 PM