We’re marching against Islamists


12:38 am - October 25th 2009

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contribution by Shaaz Mahboob

I was a little shocked – and delighted – to find Inayat Bunglawala announcing that he is going to organise a counter-demonstration to Anjem Choudary‘s group Islam4UK, which is planning to call for the implementation of their version of sharia law at a rally on Saturday 31 October.

My organisation, British Muslims for Secular Democracy (BMSD), had been working closely with likeminded British Muslim and non-Muslim democrats in planning a demonstration to coincide with Anjem’s anti-democracy march and protest against freedom.

Last week a Facebook group was also set up to float the idea and ignite people’s interest. We had planned to make a formal announcement on Monday, but it makes sense, in the circumstances, to bring that announcement forward.

Our counter-demonstration is based on our belief in, and commitment to, those liberal values that define the British state, including legal and constitutional equality for all, equal rights for women and minorities, and religious freedom, including the right to be free of faith. We are turning out to defend all of these virtues of a secular democracy that Islam4UK so despises and daydream of taking away from the British public.

Indeed, the irony is that these are the values which allow Anjem Choudary to protest and promote his grossly illiberal message in the first place. But Choudary often abuses the tolerance our society affords him, and that’s why we decided something had to be done. Many established Muslim groups have not taken enough practical steps to oppose groups such as al-Muhajiroun or Islam4UK. BMSD was launched last year and we have decided to take the initiative by spearheading this campaign to demonstrate our commitment to democracy and freedom.

I am excited that Bunglawala is also joining the fight for liberalism. It seems obvious to me that he has been on a quite extraordinary personal journey in recent months. Last month, he wrote a brave article about gay rights and the appalling abuse homosexual Muslims sometimes receive. This is a remarkable and welcome development – and a clear endorsement by Bunglawala of the values which define our country.

However it is not clear whether such views are personal or reflect a broader change of attitudes within the Muslim Council of Britain, some of whose most senior members remain closely connected with, and openly support, theocratic parties in south Asia and the Middle East that oppose of the secular liberal democracy which we cherish.

I would urge all British Muslims and non-Muslims to build on the brave steps we have already taken and condemn theocratic organisations everywhere who seek to segregate Muslims from mainstream society on the basis of twisted ideological interpretations and impose an intolerant way of life upon them, calling it sharia. This is the basis on which British Muslims for Secular Democracy was founded. We believe that a commitment to plural and liberal values is necessary everywhere around the world.

Bunglawala has already taken some important steps – and I hope he will take another by joining me in condemning all theocratic parties and their grotesquely illiberal views. The Muslim community in Britain is going through a period of rapid change. New voices are emerging all the time. Our message is simple: we are fed up with the old leadership that has betrayed us and everything we believe in.

I make the same appeal to Bunglawala as I do to all of you – Muslim or otherwise – please come along on Saturday 31 and show your support by signing up here for secular democracy. We would love you to join us and raise a voice against all theocratic values and parties – whoever they are.

—————-
This article was first published on Guardian CIF and has been published here by Shaaz’s request.

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Reader comments


Well bloody good for you and I hope it is great success!

2. Dick the Prick

Assume it’s in London? All the very best to you all and I hope the weather’s nice.

3. Dean C T Farme

Against Islamists? I’m sure the BNP will be there too and that you’ll give them s warm welcome! Only they hate Islam more than you!

All respect to you for doing this and it’s a good thing to do. If I lived in London I’d slope along.

But it does bug me that Choudary has been so bigged up by the media as a representative Muslim that you have to take this kind of action to show that he’s not. He should have been left frothing at the fringes, not being interviewed in BBC studios and having his ugly face on the front of the tabloids. It’s much more of a scandal that the BBC has paid him any attention than that they had the BNP on QT because the BNP can claim a million or so voters, and Choudary’s gang would hardly make up two cricket teams.

Excellent initiative.

Splendid idea.

The shameful silence of the left on the sexism, anti-semitism and homophobia of Islam is the abiding scandal of political thought in this democracy,

@7 Let’s see…

The shameful silence of the right on the sexism, anti-semitism and homophobia of the the Daily Mail/Daily Express/the Sun/the BNP is the abiding scandal of political thought in this democracy.

Absolutely right, Denim Justice.

The old principles of equality for women, homosexuals and Jews seem to have gone from practically every sphere of thought.

What’s particularly reprehensible, however, is that even those organisations claiming some sort of spiritual superiority, like Islam and in a few cases Christianity, are among the worst offenders.

We can’t really expect too much of the daily rags. And, like you, most people don’t!

‘The old principles of equality for women, homosexuals and Jews seem to have gone from practically every sphere of thought.’

The Right has never held those principles. The Left did. There’s a justifyable feeling of betrayal, as well as ideological opposition, towards the vocal minority of Left-wingers who have abandoned their principles. And just as Griffin attempted to monopolise the anti-war position on Question Time he attempted to monopolise the stand against Islamist misogyny.

We know the BNP’s sudden ‘convesion’ to feminism is just a pretext for bashing Muslims, so it’s important to show our support to those who wish to fight Islamist bigotry from within Islam itself and to tackle ‘Left-wingers’ like Galloway who are dragging the Left down with them.

Indeed the left did hold the great principles of equality. Fought and died for them in fact.

They were not entirely on their own. Some on the right held those principles, too.

But we certainly expect the left to be way out in the lead on them.

Which is why I used the word shameful in relation to the left’s silence on the bigotry of Islam.

We expect so much more of them.

I wish you every success in combating the extremists on the 31st and it would be great to be able to believe that the term ‘liberal Muslim’ is not oxymoronic.

However I do hope you have not misjudged the pattern of views held in the Muslim community.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/may/07/muslims-britain-france-germany-homosexuality

If I were to say, on a liberal site such as this, that “homosexuality is immoral” I would not expect my comment to last for long.

there is, as well, a large difference between being silent about the obvious bigotry of both fundamental islam and christianity, and choosing to support moderate, liberal and democratic religious types against the baseless prejudices of others without highlighting the frankly super minority fringe of radicals

@ Pagar

You may or may not be right about your ability to mention the immorality of homosexuality on this particular site, but you’re totally correct in the implication of what you say. If you proclaimed yourself a Muslim, no such moderation would be applied. It’s your culture, isn’t it?

Scandalous. And doubly so, because this moral relativism applies to the left as often as the right.

I was wondering how long it would take ppl to use this article to pus their own agendas.

Well done for this shaaz. I’ll be there supporting.

15. Dick the Prick

@8 – in some mitigation to the right – the Tories have kinda been struggling with the nadir of their political authority until the last 2 years. If Brown had called an election when he had the chance we’d still be in opposition for another 3 years. Just saying, we’ve kinda had other things on our minds like obliteration.

It’s important to get across that it’s not Islam per se that people have problems with, but a particular way of giving credence to centuries old pronouncements by religious figures.

St Paul’s writings on women (Timothy, etc) are as bad as anything in the Koran and the hadith, but liberal humanists don’t despise Christians because, by now, old Saul of Tarsus doesn’t really get much of a look in as a marriage guidance counsellor … even if the C of E marriage ceremony is still redolent of his evident disgust with the whole business of sexuality.

The Muslim world, however, is still dominated by a pre-Darwinian anthropocentric approach to revealed religion itself. That’s the problem, not the specifics of Islam. Further, it has to be said that Muslims do have a far more thorny time with the idea of female spirituality than Christians do. Islamic masculinity is NOT about notches on bedposts, it’s about spiritual resistance to the enticements of foolish earthbound Eve … which, again, is rather the way St Paul saw the (morally) weaker sex.

@V.E. Bott.

I agree with much of this obviously thoughtful post, but I can’t quite see any meaningful differentiation of ‘the whole of the Muslim world’ from Islam.

I’d have thought the Muslim world was where Islam was, in its purest form, generally practised.

Good initiative. Maybe knock up some leaflets to hand out to people along the way explaining the difference between those twats around Choudary and ordinary muslims.
Smething that states what fantasists and wind-up merchants they are.

Or how about following them along with a placard that says, ”The guys up ahead are idiots – please ignore them”

Shaaz,

Good for you. And I agree that Inayat has been making progress of late, he always struck me as a likeable enough sort who was just seriously wrong on important issues. It does seem that he has radically re-examined his position.

@Liberanos #14

If you proclaimed yourself a Muslim, no such moderation would be applied.
Really? On this site? You surprise me, do you really mean that homophobic comments would go unchallenged on this site as long as the homophobe identified as a Muslim? That certainly hasn’t been my impression.

@damon,

Or an ‘I’m Not With Stupid’ tee-shirt?

Shaaz
Excellent idea – I can’t make the demo but I wish you well and hope to read positive reports about your initiative in the press.

I know movements such as yours exist in the middle east but only wish they had more influence. I used to work in Israel and used to go to Cairo periodically. I have seen the changes over the years away from liberal attitudes towards more conversative Islamic attitudes. Look at photographs of women on the streets of Cairo in the 70’s and 80’s and compare to today – it is surprising to see how the hijab was unknown then but the norm now.

@Don

Unfortunately, the imperatives of multiculturalism demand our respect for even the most repugnant of practices.

Let every culture bloom in the garden of our democracy!

@Liberanos,

I think you overstate your case.

Don @ 24

I agree with you that homophobic comments would not be allowed to pass without challenge on this site no matter where they came from. But perhaps the more interesting debate is about what is wrong with our attempt at multi-culturalism.

The link to the Gallup survey @ 12 indicates that while 65% of French Muslims thought that “homosexual acts were immoral” that rose, in the UK, to 100%. Out of 500 British Muslims surveyed, every one was homophobic.

This evidence strongly suggests that UK Muslims are interacting with British society differently to the way in which French Muslims are relating to French society.

If we are at all serious about real integration (or even about harmonious co-existence), it would be helpful to understand what is going on.

@22. The Egyptians are indeed a complicated and sophisticated lot. Al-Azhar has recently denounced the niqab
http://www.economist.com/world/middleeast-africa/displayStory.cfm?story_id=14666405

@liberanos Way I think of it, Islam is a multifaceted, changing thing which means different things to different individuals. The Muslim World is where a given set of practices are prevalent at a given time. But further to your 23, I do wonder if Houellbecq would be allowed to post, even here.

@ Pagar Much as I’d love to claim that this shows that the French integration policy works so much better than our multicultural approach (well, it does except in the case of Turks), I have to say that anybody who has ever been a speaker in support of Palestinian statehood dreads the moment when the Pakistani rather than the Arab members of the audience express their support for what one has said.

@25 Pagar: “The link to the Gallup survey @ 12 indicates that while 65% of French Muslims thought that “homosexual acts were immoral” that rose, in the UK, to 100%. Out of 500 British Muslims surveyed, every one was homophobic.”

That’s a bit of a stretch of the word homophobic. It is possible to believe that a lifestyle is immoral without acting discriminatorily. I disapprove of Tories, for example, but I treat them with the same respect as anyone else.

With regard to the Gallup survey, what it suggests is that tolerance of homosexuality varies in the countries from which immigrants came. Most German Muslims have Turkish roots, most French Muslims have North African roots, and most British Muslims have roots on the Indian sub-continent. Perhaps somebody has some stats on the origins of Muslim religious teachers in those three European countries?

An honest question- how did “Islamism” come to be called “Islamism”? You don’t call politically extreme Christians “Christianityists” or politically extreme Hindus “Hinduismists”, and so on.

Why give the followers of the most extreme interpretation of Islam the honour of being called “Islam applied to politics” or whatever “Islamism” is supposed to mean?

Wouldn’t it be offensive to brand the Christian Right “Christianityism” as if it’s the only way Christians can apply their world view to politics?

And it’s deeply saddening to see people saying things like “the left’s silence on the bigotry of Islam.”

What prominent leftists are there that would appease you by saying such things? And should Leftists be making sweeping generalisations accusing whole religions of bigotry?

People whinge about the left not being what they want it to be anymore- that’s because there fucking isn’t one. The Left is us losers making comments on websites- who do you expect to come out and attack Islam with authority over the Left? Because all I’ve heard from supposed leftists is this moaning about how the Left isn’t saying the things they want. You don’t need to wait for some kind of leader that espouses exactly your views- just go ahead and be a bigot on your own.

More than any other mainstream creed, Islam lays claim to be the basis for the organisation of civil and political life, as well as an avenue of spiritual experience and personal morality.

Originally a French 18th century word meaning simply the religion of the Muslims, “islamisme” faded away and then returned, probably in the late 60’s, as a Western academic usage to describe a specific kind of militantism in the 20th century, especially in Egypt and Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1929, is a likely candidate for the first movement so described. The term makes sense in that it implies opposition specifically to the way Arab societies had come to be organized on secular and nationalist lines. Incidentally, both the Brits and the Israelis at one stage welcomed the movement as a counterweight to secular or “socialist” Arab nationalism.

So it’s something that has been ascribed to extremist political movements within Islam by the opposition. Like Viet Cong.

How would people react if the most extreme of Jewish theocrats were labelled “Judaismists”?

Quite rightly, it would be met with anger. Because it is using the most extreme to smear the whole.

“More than any other mainstream creed, Islam lays claim to be the basis for the organisation of civil and political life, as well as an avenue of spiritual experience and personal morality.”

That, quite simply, is not true. You find that in all religions. Now how are moderate Muslims supposed to feel when extremists that they have nothing to do with are touted as merely “Applied Islam” or whatever?

Would it be fair to call the policies of the Soviet Union “Atheismism?”

The policies of the Inquisition “Christianityism?”

@ 33 “Would it be fair to call the policies of the Soviet Union “Atheismism?”” No, it would be neither fair nor accurate because the policies of the former Soviet Union were based on an, albeit fucked – up, interpretation of Marxism. Now, Marxism entails atheism but atheism does not necessarily entail Marxism. So you are not comparing like with like.

@17 “but liberal humanists don’t despise Christians” well, try reading Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris etc. Despise isn’t quite the right word, but the same logic and sentiments are applied to christianity (and pretty much religion in general) as they are to islam by anyone who would seriously consider themselves to be in the “Liberal Humanist” or other Atheist camps, myself included.

Pedantry aside, Shaaz, I thought your article was just brilliant and I wish you every success.

First: yeah, Shaaz. Bravo, bravissimo.

@33

Actually, the term islamism was brought into use by academics who sought to foster a more sympathetic and subtle understanding of the phenomenon; the “opposition”, as you put it, used the term Islamic Fundamentalism.

No, all religions do not, for instance, specify nitty-gritty details of jurisprudence and property law in texts that are supposedly dictated by the Almighty. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s ass” is not equivalent to :

“Oh! ye who believe!
When ye deal with each other,
in transactions involving future obligation
in a fixed period of time
reduce them to writing and get two witnesses
out of your own men and if there are not two men,
then a man and two women, such as ye choose,
for witnesses so that if one of them errs
the other can remind her.”

You’ll find such things in Leviticus or the Talmud, but they have long been taken as priestly interpretations, they don’t have the same status as the indisputable word of God. Even the hadith have far greater status as ‘infallible’ or undebatable than do the dictates of the Talmud or Christian church dogma.

Islamic societies instituted a fusion between religious and civil law and authority that is quite different from the historical process in the West, where the struggle between church and state was one of the driving forces of social change.

Finally, in Sunni Islam, the “gates of interpretation” were closed around the 10th or 11th century, and although the Sunni Islamic world has seen many rebellious religious movements similar in some ways to those of, say, the Hussites of Bohemia, no new principle of jurisprudence has been introduced since that time. Christianity and Judaism, meanwhile, have been jumping through hoops for centuries to accomodate the furious pace of ideological change in the west, with a consequent diminution of the sphere covered by God’s, as opposed to man’s, law.

@34 I have read Dawkins and Hitchens and am unimpressed; they certainly don’t represent liberal humanism as I understand it, although Dennet comes closer. We can despise Christian (Papal, Greek Orthodox, Texan) obscurantism, but the heart of a heartless world still beats in Kierkergaard, Gabriel Marcel, Ricoeur, Unamuno and so many other Christian humanists.

“@ 33 “Would it be fair to call the policies of the Soviet Union “Atheismism?”” No, it would be neither fair nor accurate because the policies of the former Soviet Union were based on an, albeit fucked – up, interpretation of Marxism. Now, Marxism entails atheism but atheism does not necessarily entail Marxism. So you are not comparing like with like.”

Yes I am. What you call “Islamism” requires Islam but Islam doesn’t necessarily entail Islamism.

@35: You say I’ll find similar in Leviticus… doesn’t that mean your whole post was mere obfuscation? Because there are Christians that sought and seek to enforce all of the rules in Christianity’s religious texts. Are they “Christianityists”?

Would you call parties like the Christian Democrats in various countries “Christianityists”?

“there are Christians that sought and seek to enforce all of the rules in Christianity’s religious texts. Are they “Christianityists”?

No, we tend to call them Christian Fundamentalists.

Christian Democrats, qua CDs, do not usually have an agenda harking back to the 10th century. More tea, Vicar?

It is very idiotic to draw direct links between the behavior of some Muslims and a correlation with the teachings of Islam, when in reality, not all Muslims practice Islam as it should be.

This is not untrue for any other faiths, such as Christianity and Judaism. Each member of their respective faith oftentimes practice their faith according to their own interpretations or at some level, obtain their practices from their families, friends or spiritual leaders, which may or may not be in conformity with the actual teachings from their respective scriptures.

I personally disagree with the term “Islamists” as its deep rooted in “Islamophobia”… sad to see the extremism shown by those claiming to fight against extremist Muslims.

36. douglas clark

YHN,

Couldn’t you just make your own mind up about what is right or what is wrong?

I personally disagree with the term “Islamists” as its deep rooted in “Islamophobia”… sad to see the extremism shown by those claiming to fight against extremist Muslims.

Eh?

Are there extremist Muslims – your definition – or are there not?

If there are, how should the rest of us, including moderate Muslims such as your good self, define them in a way that seperates them out?

Because they are thugs that kill moderate Muslims more than any other target group.

I find this circling of the waggons stuff kind of annoying, counter productive and suicidal.

These folk are mad, and the sooner you see that, the better.

37. douglas clark

YHN,

Just to add. I am an atheist, and it wouldn’t even occur to me to kill you. No matter what you said, or what you did. My ideas do not include killing people for what they are or what they have become.

You can see that as a copper bottomed guarantee.

Which is not something you could assume from your fellow religionists. Who can only use death as a method of insisting on religious observance.

I’d have thought that anyone could see the flaw in that.

38. douglas clark

Which, rather obviously, is why I welcome British Muslims for Secular Democracy. Though they really do need to change their name.

Can anyone define an “Islamist” please?

I understand you do not want to kill anyone. Its not on your agenda either… but I’d ask you if you still feel the same way when your own life is at stake. You must try and understand how it came to this in the first place.

While traveling for one of my peace projects, I asked a Palestinian kid what he wanted to do when he grows up. He said he wanted to kill the Israeli army even if it meant suicide. This was an 11 year old kid who’s parents died as a result of phosphorus bombing in Ghaza. When war crimes as cruel as these are left unnoticed… the suppressed will have nothing but pure hatred in their hearts! Such hearts are easy to misguide and manipulate… aren’t they?

40. douglas clark

Lance,

Which peace project were you on that led you to that confrontation?

It is up to a peace project to try to persuade that child that what it thinks is wrong.

I have a lot of sympathy for that kid. It doesn’t resolve anything whatsoever though.

You are supposed to be the grown up. You are supposed to tell the kid that murder is not a solution.

Otherwise your:

While traveling for one of my peace projects…

seems a bit of a waste of time.

If the best you can do is come here and demonise a child.

41. douglas clark

And another thing Lance,

the suppressed will have nothing but pure hatred in their hearts!

I have three kids. Each and any one of them would have done a better job of talking your putative friend down than you apparently did. You supply grievance, you do not lance it. You, sir, are political, and quite what you thought you were doing on your ‘peace projects’ is beyond my ken.

There’s a saying… when you assume too much you make an ASS of U & ME!

What me and my team did there to help coach this kid and countless others is besides the point. Do step out of your comfortable living room someday and try talking to the terrorism (state or otherwise) affected families.

My organization provides for school books and related supplies to war-torn countries. We don’t do it for fame and we are not a charity either, so you wouldn’t see any of the foundation members bragging about what we do.

You didn’t answer any of my questions though…

Whose fault is it that extremists have enough supply of young brains to corrupt?

Instead of fighting the surface evil, why don’t we dare fight the root causes?

After years of military use in Bosnia, Kashmir, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan… have we created more terrorists & extremists than we killed?

Would these extremist Muslims have anything to say if the aforementioned fronts did not exist or got peacefully resolved?

Would the media, the weapon manufacturers and political leaders remain in business if the world (or one particular region within the world) achieved peace?

43. douglas clark

Lance,

I do not know whether anyone will agree with me, but Islamist seems to me to be an extreme idea of what the Muslim faith is.

You could compare and contrast it with Protestantism. Perhaps.

There are not a lot of Protestants that actually subscribe to the Reverend Ian Paisleys views, however, he has a clique that sees him, more or less as a prophet. They are not really mainstream, unorthodox and vile as they are. But neither are the nutters at Luton mainstream Muslims.

Why should we assume that extremists are the truly religious?

I am an atheist, but I am certainly not militant about it.

44. douglas clark

Lance,

What me and my team did there to help coach this kid and countless others is besides the point.

What you did, or didn’t do, for the child is the point.

What, exactly, did you do for that child? You said:

He said he wanted to kill the Israeli army even if it meant suicide.

Did you manage to dissuade him from that? Your own testimony suggests that you didn’t. That was your point, wasn’t it? That some folk, Muslims mainly, have evil in their hearts. What a crock.

Why do I think you are a complete utter naif?

In Christianity we have Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, Charismatic, Episcopal, Mormon, Jehovah Witnesses, Protestants and many other sects… does any of them get labeled extremist?

Although Christianity is a religion of love, peace, and tolerance – it isn’t always the case. For some Christians, their religion is one of force, hatred, and intolerance. They refuse to accept others and equals and so wish to impose their beliefs – or kill in the process, if necessary.

The Lord’s Resistance Army, a sectarian guerrilla army engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government, has been accused of using child soldiers and committing numerous crimes against humanity; including massacres, abductions, mutilation, torture, rape, porters and sex slaves. It is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the Christian Holy Spirit which the Acholi believe can represent itself in many manifestations. LRA fighters wear rosary beads and recite passages from the Bible before battle.

What would you call the LRA?

Yes! I tried and I failed… why dont you go ahead and give it a try??

I’d try and do whatever I can to help such victims get back on their feet. The only way I know of doing so is by helping them get a decent education. If you have any better ideas do let me know.

Do watch this if you haven’t already: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlfhoU66s4Y

47. douglas clark

Lance,

Again.

You went there allegedly. What did you actually achieve?

You are not asking me what I think of religious beliefs are you?

You know, or you ought to know by now, just how ludicrous I think any belief in Gods is. Whether it is just a little bit of a taint, like you perhaps, or mega fucked like the LRA.

Please try to see my point of view, without hopefully comparing me to Stalin.

48. douglas clark

Lance @ 50,

Fair enough mate.

Perhaps, och I don’t know, maybe seeing them for what they are and not trying to convert them would be an idea?

This is not a simple issue.

It is fine for me, in my somewhat Northern bedroom, to argue that everyone who is religious is wrong. It would be unreasonable of me to assume that everyone is going to agree with me.

But demonisation of a belief system, even though it is one I fundamentally disagree with, is not the way forward.

It seems to me that the fundamentals of Islam are slightly robotic. But that will get me more grief than you have ever had.

Islamism is the term used to spare the feelings of those Muslims who hate the association of the more devout of their faith with terrorism.

It sounds less threatening than Islamic or Muslim terrorism.

Why cant we just call them terrorists? Religious extremism is prevalent in every faith… but we dont have Christian terrorists or Buddhist terrorists do we… why the discrimination?

A terrorist is a terrorist, he has no religion! I find the terms “Islamist” “Islamism” or “Muslim Terrorist” very offending…

As soon as the overwhelming majority of international terrorists are no longer
deeply devout Muslims, the addition of the word Muslim will assuredly cease.

Going to their death, clutching the Koran to their chest and calling for Allah to bless their action does nothing to bring that day about.

And how does one cease this “overwhelming majority of international terrorists”? What has the world been able to do till date to stop them from growing? What have we achieved by waging a zillion dollar war against them?

I see no end to this…

MikeSC @29:

The only reason I don’t use the word “Christianist” to describe Bush and company is that there is already a self-coined term for that type of medievalist, politically radical, arch-prejudiced Christian in America. They call themselves “Dominionists“, referring to their fundamental article of faith: that they, as a group, are divinely ordained to 100% dominion over the Earth, birds, beasts and relatives all together.

This is the background of Bush’s wars: a politicised, radical religious doctrine which presumes an absolute right to global rulership on the part of its disciples. And they have a major resource centre on West Green Road, Harringey, right here in Britain. There are several more in Hackney and Dalston. These are the people who launched the Project for a New American Century, and they’re also the people behind the “Christian Party” billboards that carpeted East London before the last election.

I have been known to talk about Christianists when I’m trying to unnerve a political disputant who’s talking out their ear. Usually I use the correct balancing term to Islamist: Dominionist.

Islamist was coined largely to find a more wieldy shorthand than “Arab-ethnic Islamic Terrorist”, or one that was easier for news researchers to spell than the (again, technically accurate) term “Wahhabist”. I’m sure someone will tell me that there are people who fight for the global domination of Arab-led Islam who are not Wahhabists, but imr most of them are.

Mike, I agree with the you on the choice of terms. How are “Wahabists” different from other Muslims? Do they follow a different spiritual leader or something??

@Lance.

You’re right. It’s all deeply depressing. But Muslim terrorists claim that they are carrying out their religious duty as decreed by the Koran, fully supported by many senior Islamic clerics throughout the world.

And as martyrs, who dare claim that they are not sincere?

Somehow, they have to be persuaded that killing those condemned to death by Allah, in the book by which they live their entire life, is not appropriate for the twenty-first century.

Even if it means their admitting that in this respect at least, the Koran is dangerously wrong.

@ Liberanos

That way the bible is equally evil. Its a matter of interpretation only. Just like in most other religions, there are those who misinterpret the teachings of their faith and misguide people.

In behavioral sciences, we always look for what we call the “fuel” behind every conviction. The rise of these extremist groups is directly related to the inhuman activities of Israel. Lets face it, as the rest of the world, we’ve been very irresponsible.

The Afghan war was won using the same extremist groups, only that their fury was directed towards the red army back then.

After all the debate on Israel’s war crimes this year, nothing has changed in Ghaza. The day this issue is rightfully, peacefully resolved… half these extremist groups would be thrown out of business. Till then…

@Lance

The point which is so dangerous to us, is not that the teaching of the faith is misinterpreted, but that it is all too accurate.

Which is why I fear that it is the faith which has to change, not its interpretation.

The difficulty in persuading Muslims to do that is clear to all.

“Islamist was coined largely to find a more wieldy shorthand than “Arab-ethnic Islamic Terrorist”, or one that was easier for news researchers to spell than the (again, technically accurate) term “Wahhabist”. ”

No it bloody wasn’t. It was coined as an alternative to “Islamic Fundamentalist” which, at the time, was deemed too simplistic and pejorative to use in polite society.

“Wahhabist” is inappropriate, because linked to a different historical period. The term for the crap currently peddled by the Saudis, which is very different from that peddled by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, is Salafism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salafi

On what grounds are you claiming this? Any references?

V.E Bott @ 63:

[ /raises hand ]

My mistake. I had seen a lot of commentaries which described Saudi-centric imperial Islam as “Wahhabist”: Salafism is indeed the correct term, and now I know this. Thank you.

That “Islamic Fundamentalist” was also used as a propaganda term had not escaped me, but since “Islamist” is an even more simplistic and misleading term for the phenomenon, I doubt that the motivation you ascribe to the coiners of “Islamist” is accurate. I suspect they were following basic KISS principles.

Did I make any mistakes pointing out who the Americo-centric imperial Christian equivalent are?

@ 35 “I have read Dawkins and Hitchens and am unimpressed; they certainly don’t represent liberal humanism as I understand it.” well, I’d have to say that you don’t understand it. Or, presumably, them. You don’t mention Sam Harris, is that because you are unfamiliar with his work? The point I was making was that your comment in post 17 “but liberal humanists don’t despise Christians” was misleading in two respects: firstly, that “despise” as an accurate description of the “liberal humanist” view of islam and, secondly, your implication that “liberal humanism” holds christianity in higher regard by virtue of not “despising” it.

@35 “We can despise Christian (Papal, Greek Orthodox, Texan) obscurantism, but the heart of a heartless world still beats in Kierkergaard, Gabriel Marcel, Ricoeur, Unamuno and so many other Christian humanists.” What are you talking about?

@ 36 “Yes I am.” I disagree but, actually, I see your point.

@35 “Christianity and Judaism, meanwhile, have been jumping through hoops for centuries to accomodate the furious pace of ideological change in the west, with a consequent diminution of the sphere covered by God’s, as opposed to man’s, law. ” Have you heard of the Army of God? Some christians and jews have been “jumping through hoops” as you put it, but by no means all. Take a brief tour of the ideological landscape of the christian fundamentalist (or, christianist, if you will) right in the US these days and you may see something very closely akin to islamism. Much the same goes for sections of orthodox jewry and the lubavitcher school.

@35 “You’ll find such things in Leviticus or the Talmud, but they have long been taken as priestly interpretations, they don’t have the same status as the indisputable word of God. ” Well, let me introduce you to Deutoronomy. Chapter 1, verse 1 “Whatever I am now commanding you, you must keep and observe, adding nothing to it and taking nothing away” this is god talking and it’s pretty unambiguous and not really open to interpretation, I’d say. Various rules on appropriate action follow, along with punishments for transgressors, for example “you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death …” for a friend or family member who suggests worshipping another god. ” Priestly interpretation” doesn’t come into it, neither does “they don’t have the same status as the indisputable word of god.”


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