Skip to comments.Insurgent Islam and American Collaboration
Posted on 09/16/2001 2:40:54 PM PDT by DakotaKid
The cultural schism between the Western and Eastern halves of European Christian civilization marked principally by their respective religious traditions, Roman Catholic and Protestant in the West and Orthodox in the East, may or may not prove fatal. One issue stands above all others in determining the outcome: the Islamic resurgence that has rapidly come to mark the post-Cold War era. For the East, which borders on the Muslim world, the problem continues to be, as it has been since Islam first appeared in the seventh century, primarily one of direct, violent confrontation, which today stretches from the Balkans to the Caucasus, and throughout Central Asia. For the West, on the other hand, the problem today is primarily internal, a result of ideological confusion (which in many instances leads to active collaboration), coupled with demographic infiltration.
Last year, the county board of Loudoun County, Virginia, just a few miles down the road from the federal capital, granted a zoning variance, over vigorous local opposition, to facilitate the construction of a new Islamic academy. The institution is one of a number being constructed nationwide, and it will cover some 100 acres, include elementary, middle, and high schools, feature an 800-bed dormitory, and grace the rolling hills of the Virginia horse country with a 65-foot mosque dome and an 85-foot minaret.
County residents opposed the academy on a variety of grounds, notably the loss of tax revenue on land that was otherwise zoned for business uses and the security threat posed by the school, either from Muslims who would be attracted to the county or from the possibility that anti-Saudi Islamic groups might see the academy as a tempting target. But the critics' central issue--and the one that highlights Western incomprehension of the phenomenon in question--was the character of the Saudi regime, which, according to the school's bylaws, exercises total control, to the extent that the school is part of the structure of the Saudi Ministry of Education: an establishment of a foreign sovereign on American soil. Indeed, the Saudi ambassador is ex officio chairman.
Predictably, as soon as Saudi Arabia and Islam became the issues, progressive opinion responded that rejection of the school would be intolerance of "diversity." One county resident displayed a crescent and star in the window of her home to show symbolically that "Islam is welcome here." The ever-vigilant Washington Post weighed in with an editorial blasting opposition to the school as "religious intolerance" and "the worst kind of bigotry" on the part of retrograde denizens of the Old Dominion. "Ugly statements that have been made in public meetings on the issue have run the range of mean-spiritedness," sniffed the Post, "with some residents asserting that the school should be rejected because 'the Saudis execute their own people who convert from Islam.'"
In point of correction to the Post's sarcastic quotation marks, the 1997 U.S. Department of State Report on Human Rights Practices states the following about Saud i Arabia:
Freedom of religion does not exist. Islam is the official religion and all [Saudi] citizens must be Muslims. . . . Conversion by a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy. Public apostasy is considered a crime under Shari'a law and punishable by death.
So which is more "ugly" and "mean-spirited"--the fact that the Saudis do indeed behead those who abandon Islam or that Loudoun citizens have been tactless enough to take note of that fact? One witness before the county board testified that her daughters, who are U.S. citizens, have been prevented from leaving Saudi Arabia for over 13 years because, as women, they may not travel, even though the elder one is now an adult, without their Saudi father's permission. The girls have been forcibly converted to Islam and can only look forward to their eventual marriage, for which their consent is at best a formality.
Fawning by Loudoun County authorities extended even to a blatant disregard of the county's own laws. A Loudoun ordinance defines a private institution as one that is neither funded nor controlled by any government: On both counts, the Loudoun Islamic academy falls. Yet the county board rejected testimony by a former board member-the author of the relevant ordinance--that the academy was not a private institution. No matter. Today, neither Loudoun County, nor the Commonwealth of Virginia, nor the United States would be able to create and run an educational institution based on any religious doctrine. But a foreign government-a government that is every bit as bigoted, intolerant, and ugly as the Post wrongly accused the school's critics of being-may do so.
Especially illuminating in the Loudoun controversy was the position of local Christian social conservatives, who stayed neutral or even supported the academy. In the dimmer recesses of the American Christian mind, the only concern was what precedent denying the variance might set for private Christian schools, or the availability of public vouchers. The importation of Shari'a into a once-Christian commonwealth seemingly registered not at all in evangelical minds blissfully unaware of Islamic aims. But as Bat Ye'or wrote in The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam,
The Islamist movement makes no secret of its intentions to convert the West. Its propaganda, published in booklets sold in all European Islamic centers for the last thirty years, sets out its aim and the methods to achieve them. They include proselytism, conversion, marriage with logical women, and, above all, immigration [emphasis added]. Remembering that Muslims always began as a minority in the conquered countries ("liberated," in Islamic terminology) before becoming a majority, the ideologists of this movement regard Islamic settlement in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere as a chance for Islam.
The element of willful blindness in Western perspectives on Islam cannot be overestimated. So deeply embedded is the notion that all religions are fundamentally the same that evidence to the contrary is simply wished out of existence. When the Ayatollah Khomeini states that
Muslims have no alternative . . . to armed holy war against profane governments, . . . the conquest of all non Muslim territories. . . . It will be the duty of every able-bodied adult male to volunteer for this war of conquest, the final aim of which is to put Koranic law in power from one end of the earth to the other . . .
such utterances are as little heeded as were similar statements by Lenin during the Cold War. After all, Khomeini is a known fundamentalist." Surely, his statements cannot be held against the moderates, the "mainstream" who represent "real Islam," whose beliefs and values are not so different from ours--can they? The contention that Khomeini and his ilk are in fact Islam's historical "mainstream" not only is dismissed but is considered evidence of a dangerous "Christian fundamentalism," which is every bit as bad as the Muslim variety, probably worse. The growing number of Muslims in America (Islam, according to some claims, has already overtaken Judaism as the nation's largest non-Christian religion) and the irrefutable presumption of Muslim peaceableness have set the stage for Islam to become both a social and political force. Under the Clinton administration, Islam has made major strides to join denatured, humanized Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism in their semi-established status as kindred denominations of a single American civic creed, symbolized by Hillary Rodham Clinton's sponsorship last year of the Eid al-Fitr end-of-Ramadan celebration at the White House.
Likewise, the idea that Islam shares an Abrahamic pedigree with Christianity and Judaism, that we are all, in the Islamic phrase, "peoples of the book," is now almost universally accepted. But suppose that, during the early Christian era, a pagan philosopher from Athens had claimed to have received a vision from a divine messenger to the effect that Zeus/Jupiter, the Greco-Roman "father god," was the one and only God -in fact, was the same God the Father worshipped by the Christians; that the Christians had corrupted their Scriptures to hide the fact that Jupiter had been worshipped by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus; that only the self-proclaimed prophet's recitation of his own vision was authoritative; that the rites and sacred places of the Olympian gods (the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Delphic Oracle) had always pertained to Jupiter alone and indeed had been established by earlier Abrahamic prophets; and that those who had surrendered their will to Jupiter were commanded to wage holy war under his thunderbolt symbol on "Infidels" who resisted the divine will. Is there any doubt that Christians then would have rejected the supposed kinship of the new teaching to their own faith as quickly as today's Christians rush to accommodate Islam?
There is little doubt that Islam's god is the former chief deity of the polytheistic Arab pantheon, stripped of his consorts and offspring-a variation on the moon god common throughout the ancient Middle East, among the Babylonians known as Sin (the Sinai peninsula is probably named after him) and among the Sumerians as Nanna. Among the pagan Arabs, he was usually called simply "the god," al-ilah: Allah. The moon god Allah, whose crescent symbol today caps mosques the world over, headed a pantheon of over 300 lesser divinities, including three daughters called Lat, Uzza, and Manat. In fact, the controversy over The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie centers upon an embarrassing (and historically documented) episode during Muhammad's evolving "revelation" (after his death collected as his Koran-Qur'an, "recitation") in which he admitted the possibility of retaining the three daughter-goddesses under his new dispensation. He later rescinded this idea as having been of false-"satanic" inspiration. Muhammad (the son of Abdallah, "slave of Allah," a further attestation of the deity's pre-Islamic origin) was of the Quraysh tribe, the custodians of the Meccan shrine to the pantheon known as the Ka'bah ("cube"), which houses a black stone (probably a meteorite) that Muslim pilgrims continue to venerate. Pilgrims also perform other pre-Islamic pagan rites such as stoning the devil at Wadi Mina and partaking of the waters of the Zamzam well.
In short, Islam is a self-evident outgrowth not of the Old and New Covenants but of the darkness of heathen Araby. Despite ludicrous historical suggestions to the contrary (such as the idea that the Ka'bah was built by Abraham), Muslim apologists have strained to find evidence in the Bible that a new prophet would arise after Jesus, seeing Muhammad in obvious prophecies of the Holy Spirit (that were fulfilled on Pentecost) or of the Second Coming of Christ. One could find no better refutation of Islam's efforts to appropriate Christian Scripture (here, Matthew 24:27) than that of the 14th-century Byzantine saint, Gregory Palamas, to his Turkish captors:
It is true that Muhammad started from the east and came to the west, as the sun travels from east to west. Nevertheless he came with war, knives, pillaging, forced enslavement, murders, and acts that are not from the good God but instigated by the chief manslayer, the devil.
St. Gregory s answer is no less devastating to Islam's self-depiction as a pacific creed. Islam was born in violence, from Muhammad's sanction of raids of pillage and plunder (starting with attacks against his own Quraysh tribe, which initially rejected his revelation) to his savage execution of hundreds of men of the Qurayzah clan (which professed Judaism) and the enslavement and forced concubinage of their women and children. From its inception, first within Arabia and then against all unbelievers, Islam has been unthinkable without its mandate for violence, war, terror--in a word, jihad--itself codified in Muhammad's Koran (notably Sura 9:29). Today, Islamic apologists in America have been quick to latch on to the vocabulary of grievance, denouncing the association of Islam with its violent past (and present) as "stereotyping," "bigotry," and "ignorance." Even American elementary school texts have been rewritten to suggest that once-Christian Egypt, Syria, and Palestine became Muslim because their conquerors were "invited" in; Muslims are quick to remind Christians of the Crusaders' later "aggression," but they do not consider as aggression their own unprovoked seizure of the Christian Middle East.
In the application of jihad, as documented by Bat Ye'or and others, Islam divides the world into two domains, or "houses": the House of Islam (Dar al-Islam), where Islam rules and Shari'a, the law of Allah, has been realized; and the House of War (Dar al-Harb), where the rebellious unbelievers persist in their (or rather, our) lawlessness. In Islamic terms, we unsubdued Christians are harbi, and as such we have no legitimate right to our lands, our property, or even our lives, which by right belong not to us but to the Muslims; that which we now have we enjoy only until Islam becomes strong enough to impose Shari'a. As the highly respected and influential 14th-century authority Ibn Taymiyya explained:
These possessions [i.e., the things taken away from the non-Muslims upon their conquest] received the name of fay [war booty] since Allah had taken them away from the infidels in order to restore them to the Muslims. In principle, Allah has created the things of this world only in order that they may contribute to serving Him, since He created man only in order to be ministered to. Consequently, the infidels forfeit their persons and their belongings which they do not use in Allah's service to the faithful believers who serve Allah and unto whom Allah restitutes what is theirs; thus is restored to a man the inheritance of which he was deprived, even if he had never before gained possession.
It is worthy of note that Ibn Taymiyya is particularly revered by the Wahabi sect, which is the ruling doctrine of Saudi Arabia; students at the Saudi-controlled Loudoun Islamic Academy will no doubt receive benefit of his wisdom. But Ibn Taymiyya's sentiments are not unique to him. On the contrary, Bat Ye'or quotes comparable passages from Islamic sages of many eras and locales, from the time of Muhammad to the present day.
Surveying the long history of the Islamic assault on the Christian world, it is sobering to consider how close the latter has come to annihilation on more than one occasion. In the initial offensive during the first decade after Muhammad's demise, Christendom lost its birthplace in the Levant, with the front of the East Roman Empire only being stabilized at the approaches to Asia Minor. Meanwhile, the Arab armies swept west from conquered Egypt, subduing the whole north coast of Africa and crossing into Visigothic Spain in 711. They were finally stopped by the Franks under Karl the Hammer at Poitiers in 732, the centenary of Muhammad's death. The conversion of the Turkish tribes to Islam in the ninth century lent jihad renewed impetus; the erosion and final collapse of East Roman power opened the eastern door to Europe in the 14th century, and the Ottomans were turned back only at the gates of Vienna in 1683. The site of the first high-water mark at Poitiers and the later one at Vienna are only some 700 miles apart -so narrow has been Christendom's brush with extinction!
The Turkish defeat at Vienna marked the beginning of two centuries of remission during which European technology, particularly military technology, seemed to have resolved the contest between the Cross and the Crescent decisively in favor of the former. During the 19th century, the Christian nations of the Balkans--the only conquered Christian lands since the Spanish reconquista in which the Muslims had not yet reduced the indigenous population to a minority, as they had in Egypt and Syria, or eliminated them utterly, as in the Maghreb--cast off their Muslim masters, and by the end of World War I, most of the Muslim world (with the exceptions of the Arabian heartland itself and of a truncated Turkey which had adopted the modernizing, secular ideology of Kemalism) was subject to European rule. But at the very time that Europe achieved its military and geopolitical advantage, the moral and religious decline that culminated in the autogenocides of 1914 and 1939 had become evident. Having found in their grasp places their Crusader predecessors had only dreamed of reclaiming Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople - effete and demoralized European governments made no effort to re-christianize them and, within a few decades, meekly abandoned them.
The moral disarmament of contemporary post-Christian Europe is now nearly universal. If, in the more remote past, Bourbon France had made common cause with the Sublime Porte (the scandalous "union of the Lily and the Crescent") against Habsburg Austria, the arrangement at least had the virtue of cynical self-interest: Catholic France was hardly expected to praise the sultan's benevolence as part of the bargain. But by the 1870's, Disraeli's obsession with thwarting Russian ambitions in the Balkans prompted the Tories' unprecedented depiction of Turkey as tolerant and humane even in the face of the Bulgarian atrocities. Even so, Britain's Christian conscience, prodded by Gladstone's passionate words, was sufficient to bring down Lord Beaconsfield's government in 1880.
After World War I, with the installation of nominally "pro-Western" governments in many Muslim countries fashioned from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire, the West seems to have convinced itself of the existence of benign Islam. Indeed, the promotion of "moderate" Muslim regimes--especially those willing to make peace with Israel, and, even better, those that have a lot of petroleum--has become a linchpin of U.S. global policy. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, the Gulf states, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria, Indonesia, and a few others have become the darlings of U.S. policy, valued as supposed bulwarks against "fundamentalism" of the Iranian variety (Iran itself having lately been a member of the favored assembly). Operationally, this means not only overlooking the radical activities of the supposedly "moderate" Muslim states--for example, Saudi Arabia's and Pakistan's support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (whom even the Iranians denounce as dangerous fanatics), and assistance by virtually all Islamic nations to the thinly disguised radical regime in Sarajevo-but also a consistent American bias in favor of the Muslim party in virtually every conflict with a Christian nation. The most prominent exception to date has been a pro-Armenian tilt in the Nagorno-Karabakh question, a function of Armenian-Americans' early cultivation of Congress, but this anomaly will undoubtedly soon shift to Azerbaijan's favor under the combined pressure of the Turkey/Israel lobby, of residual Cold War antipathy for Russia (seen as Armenia's main protector), and of American oil companies fixated on an energy El Dorado in the Caspian Basin.
It is hardly a surprise that business executives who would sell their grandmothers to Abdul Abulbul Amir for oil drilling rights would see the world as a reflection of their balance sheets, nor is it a surprise that secular, socially progressive opinion is viscerally anti-Christian. What is not expected is that so many Western Christians, Americans in particular, are willing to believe the worst about their Eastern Christian cousins, who, only lately freed from Islamic (and later, in most cases, communist) servitude, are desperately attempting to avoid a repeat of the experience. Today, when all of the Russian North Caucasus is subject to plunder and hostage-taking raids staged from Shari'a-ruled Chechnya, when not just Nagorno-Karabakh but Armenia proper is in danger of a repeat of 1915, when Cyprus and Greece receive unvarnished threats to their territorial integrity on a weekly basis for the offense of purchasing defensive weapons, and when the borders of Serbia are rapidly approaching those of the pashaluk of Belgrade in order to appease America's new friends in Bosnia and Kosovo, organized Roman Catholic and Protestant sentiment in America overwhelmingly sides with non- and anti-Christian elite opinion in its pro-Muslim, anti-Orthodox tendency.
For example, in 1993, statements were issued by a number of Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican spokesmen in the United States urging military intervention on behalf of the Islamic regime in Sarajevo. "We are convinced that there is just cause to use force to defend largely helpless people in Bosnia against aggression and barbarism that are destroying the very foundations of society and threaten large numbers of people," wrote the chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference, at a time when the Muslim beneficiaries of the intervention were not only impaling Serb POWs on spits but also were slaughtering Roman Catholic Croats by the hundreds in an offensive in central Bosnia. "Mat is going on in Bosnia is genocide by any other name," observed a prominent Baptist spokesman. "The ghosts of Auschwitz and Dachau have come back to haunt us. If we do nothing we are morally culpable." "Those of us who opposed the Gulf War believed that war was not the answer," opined the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, "but today we find ourselves confronted with an evil war, the sure elimination of which may be possible only by means of armed intervention." Thus did the high-minded guardians of the West's Christian integrity give their blessing for NATO to aid the resumption of jihad in Europe. Granted, they were to some extent victims of the melodramatic media coverage that has characterized the Balkan war, but that is not much of an excuse: Who told them to believe everything dished up by CNN?
In a previous article in Chronicles, I have noted that Western anti-Orthodox bias, which I have dubbed Pravoslavophobia, rarely means antipathy for Orthodoxy as such. Most serious Protestants and Roman Catholics often have a fairly positive attitude toward Orthodox Christianity as a morally conservative and liturgically traditional bulwark within the spectrum of Christian opinion. Perhaps it has been so long since Western Christians have had to defend themselves physically as Christians (as opposed to Americans, Englishmen, Germans, etc.) that they just do not understand those for whom it is a current concern.
On the other hand, there are Westerners for whom antipathy is based on the traditional Orthodox character of the front-line states bordering on Islam. Indeed, from this viewpoint, the desire of these countries to avoid not only islamicization but Westernization as well is a major count against them. Though differing in the specifics, the overall attitude toward Orthodox nations today is strongly reminiscent of that of the West toward the East as the dying Byzantine, Bulgarian, and Serbian states faced Ottoman conquest in the 15th century. The West then was explicit: We will help you only if you renounce Orthodoxy and adopt Roman Catholicism. The Orthodox East is being told today that unless they unquestioningly submit to the West's tutelage in political, social, moral, and economic matters--the collective "religion" of the Enlightenment heritage-they again will be thrown to the wolves. In fact, the West will even help the wolves to devour them.
The immorality, not to mention the stupidity, of this should be obvious. Maybe Christians will never come to agreement on doctrinal matters; maybe the East will insist on retaining its distinctive religious and cultural heritage. Whatever happens, the survival of Orthodox Christian civilization in the East should be hardly less important to the West than to the Orthodox themselves, and indeed over the long term, the West's own fate may depend on it. The fact that the West cannot recognize this reality is evident in the forest of minarets going up mainly in Western Europe but also now in North America.
Some Christians see the Muslim influx primarily as an opportunity for evangelization, and indeed we should never neglect to share the Gospel, the only real liberation, with Muslims, who should not, as individuals, be held responsible for the violent system into which they were born and of which they are--perhaps more than anyone else--victims. At the same time, in light of the growing volume of Muslim immigration, Western Christians will soon find out--maybe sooner than they think, given Western birthrates--that confronting the Islamic advance has become, as it has always been for Eastern Christians, a simple matter of physical survival. But by that time, it may be too late for the West as well.
James George Jatras is a policy analyst at the United States Senate. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent any Senate member or office.
A very powerful piece. It is a starting point of understanding of those that would murder inocents.
A very powerful piece. It is a starting point of understanding of those that would murder inocents.
I am so tired of Progressives.
Bumping a good read, DakotaKid.
I hope many more of us read it. Pointing out the stark reality of Islam is not bigotry. It is a service to Americans who can still think.
The naive among us persist in thinking the split between the Christian West and Islam as nothing more serious than the differences between the Elks and the Shriners.
"Can't we all get along?"
I don't think so.
It isn't just the naive; nihilists and skeptics can't treat conflicting fundamental, non-negotiable accounts of the Truth seriously either.
May 1, 1997
PREPARED STATEMENT OF BAT YE'OR BEFORE THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NEAR EASTERN AND SOUTH ASIAN AFFAIRS SUBJECT - HEARING ON RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN THE MIDDLE EAST PAST IS PROLOGUE: THE CHALLENGE OF ISLAMISM TODAY
Basic text of oral Statement; more passages in brackets to be omitted. Fuller text to be used for Freedom House Briefing Seminar on 30 April.]
Mr. Chairman, Members of Congress,. Ladies and Gentlemen.
"Past is Prologue." These words are engraved on the pediment of the Archives building in Washington. The English source is probably Shakespeare's The Tempest, and the original perhaps Ecclesiastes (1:9). I have chosen this motto for my Statement today and shall first give:
An Historical Overview of the Persecution of Christians under Islam.
To fully understand the present tragic situation of Christians in Muslim lands, one must comprehend the ideological and historical pattern that is conducive to violations of human rights, even though this pattern does not seem to be a deliberate, monolithical, anti-Christian policy. However, as this structure is integrated into the corpus of Islamic law (the shari'a), it functions in those countries that either apply the shari'a in full, or whose laws are inspired by it. The historical pattern of Muslim-Christian encounters developed soon after the Prophet Muhammad's death in 632.
The historical pattern of Muslim-Christian encounters developed soon after the Prophet Muhammad's death in 632. Muslim -- Christian relations were regulated by two legal-theological systems: one based on jihad, the other on the shari'a. A Jihad should not be compared to a Crusade -- or to any other war. The strategy and tactics of jihad are minutely fixed by theological rules, which the calif or ruler wielding both spiritual and political power -- must obey. The jihad practised now in Sudan is conducted according to its traditional rules. One could affirm that all "jihad" groups today conform to these decrees.
It is an historical fact that all the Muslims countries around the southern and eastern Mediterranean were Christian lands before being conquered, during a millenium of jihad under the banner of Islam. Those vanquished populations -- here I am referring only to Christians and Jews - were then "protected," providing they submitted to the Muslim ruler's conditions- Therefore, "protection" in the context of a conquest is the consequence of a war, and this is a very important notion.
In April 1992, for instance, religious leaders in Sudan's Southern Kordofan region -- who were "publicly supported at the highest government level" -- issued a fatwa, which stated: "An insurgent who was previously a Muslim is now an apostate; and a non-Muslim is a non-believer standing as a bulwark against the spread of Islam, and Islam has granted the freedom of killing both of them." This fatwa appears in a 1995 Report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights by the U.N.'s special Rapporteur on Sudan, Dr. Gaspar Biro. (ECOSOC, E/CN.4/1996/62, para.97a). This religious text gives the traditional definition of a harbi (someone living in the Dar al-harb, the "region of war"), an infidel who has not been subjected by jihad, and therefore whose life and property -- according to classical texts of Islamic jurists -- is thus forfeited to any Muslim. (It also gives a definition of an apostate who can be killed -- the case of Salman Rushdie in 1989, Farag Foda in 1992, and Taslima Nasreen 1994, are other examples where the death sentence was decreed.)
Non-Muslims are protected only if they submit to Islamic domination by a "Pact" -- or Dhimma -- which imposes degrading and discriminatory regulations. In my books, I have provided documents from Islamic sources and from the vanquished peoples, establishing a sort of classification so that the origins, development and aims of these regulations can be recognized when they are revived nowadays. I am only referring to Christians and Jews because they share the same Islamic theological and legal category, and are referred to in the Koran as "People of the Book" -- the word "people" is in the singular. If they accept to submit to a Muslim ruler, they then become "protected dhimmi peoples" -- tributaries, since their protection is linked to an obligatory payment of a koranic poll tax (the jizya) to the Islamic community (the umma).
This protection is abolished: - if the dhimmis should rebel against Islamic law; give allegiance to non-Muslim power; refuse to pay the koranic jizya; entice a Muslim from his faith; harm a Muslim or his property; commit blasphemy. Blasphemy includes denigration of the Prophet Muhammad, the Koran, the Muslim faith, the shari'a by suggesting that it has a defect, and by refusing the-decision of the ijma -- which is the consensus of the Islamic community or umma (Koran III: 106). The moment the "pact of protection" is abolished, the jihad resumes, which means that the lives of the dhimmis and their property are forfeited. Those Islamists in Egypt who kill and pillage Copts consider that these Christians -- or dhimmis -- have forfeited their "protection" because they do not pay the jizya.
In other words, this "protector-protected" relationship is typical of a war-treaty between the conqueror and the vanquished, and this situation remains valid for Islamists because it is fixed in theological texts. But it should be emphasized that other texts in the Koran stress religious tolerance and peaceful relations, which frequently existed. (Nonetheless, early jurists and theologians - invoking the koranic principle of the "abrogation" of an earlier text by a later one - have established an extremist doctrine ofjihad, which is a collective duty.)
The protection system presents both positive and negative aspects: it provide security and a measure of religious autonomy. On the other hand, dhimmis suffered many legal disabilities intended to reduce them to a condition of humiliation and segregation. Those rules were established as early as the 8th and 9th centuries by the founders of the four schools of Islamic law: Hanafi, Malaki, Shafi'i and Hanbali.
The shari'a is a complete compendium of laws based on theological sources, principally the Koran and hadiths - that is, the sayings and acts of the Prophet. The shari'a comprises the legal status of the dhimmis: what is permitted and what is forbidden to them. It sets the pattern of the Muslims' social and political behavior toward dhimmis and explains its theological, legal and political motivations.
It is this comprehensive system, which lasted for up to thirteen centuries, that I have analyzed in my last book The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam] as the "civilization of dhimmitude." Its archetype - the dehumanized dhimmi - has permeated Islamic civilization, culture and thought and is being revived through the Islamist resurgence and the return of the shari'a.
The main principles of "dhimmitude" are:
1) the inequality of rights in all domains between Muslims and dhimmis;
2) the social and economic discrimination of the dhimmis;
3) the humiliation and vulnerability of the dhimmis.
Numerous laws were enacted over the centuries in order to implement these principles, which remained in practice throughout the 19th century and in some regions into the 20th century.
Arab-Islamic civilization developed in conquered Christian lands, among Christian majorities, which were eventually reduced to minorities. The process of the Islamization of Christian societies appears at all levels. It is part and parcel of the Christian suffering embodied in laws, customs, behavior patterns, and prejudices that were perpetuated during many centuries. Christianity could survive in some countries like Egypt and the Balkans where their situation was tolerable, but in other places they were wiped out physically, expelled, or forced to emigrate.
During the whole of the 19th century, European governments tried to convince Muslim rulers -- from Constantinople to North Africa -- to abolish the discriminations against dhimmis. This policy led to reforms in the Ottoman Empire from 1839 -- known as the Tanzimat -- but it was only in Egypt, under the strong rule of Muhammad Ali, that real progress was made. Improvements in the Ottoman Empire and Persia, imposed by Europe, were bitterly resented by the populace and religious leaders.
European laws were introduced in the process of Turkish modernization, and in some Arab countries, but it was only under colonial rule that Christian and Jewish minorities were truly liberated from centuries of opprobrium. Traditionalists however resented the Westernization of their countries, the emancipation of the dhimmis and the laws imported from infidel lands. The fight for decolonization was also a struggle by the Islamists to re-establish strict Islamic law.]
Why is this persecution ignored by the Churches, governments and media?
The 19th century -- and even after World War I -- was a traumatizing period of genocidal slaughter of Christians, spreading from the Balkans (Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria) to Armenia and to the Middle East. In this context of death, the doctrine of an Islamic-Christian symbiosis was conceived toward the end of the 19th century by Eastern Christians as a desperate shield against terror and slavery. This doctrine -- which also included anti-Zionism -- had many facets, both political and religious. In the long term, its results were mostly negative.
It is this doctrine -- still professed today -- that is responsible for the general silence about the ongoing tragedy of Eastern Christians. Any mention of jihad and of the persecutions of Christians by Muslims was a taboo subject because one could not denounce persecution and simultaneously proclaim that an Islamic-Christian symbiosis has always existed in the past and the present. It is in this cocoon of lies and of a deliberately imposed silence, solidly supported by the Churches, governments, and the media -- each for its own reasons -- that persecution of Christians could develop freely, during this century, even until now, with little hindrance. Moreover, this doctrine also blocked the memory of dhimmitude, leaving a vacuum of thirteen centuries whose emptiness was filled with a myth that was useless as a means to prevent the return of old prejudices and persecutions.
For this reason, dhimmitude -- which covers several centuries of Christian and Jewish history, and which is a comprehensive civilization englobing legislation, customs, social behavior, and prejudices -- has never been analyzed, nor publicly discussed. It is this silence for which academia in Europe and America bear much responsibility that allows the perpetuation of religious discrimination and persecution today. There are many factors that explain this silence of governments, Churches, academia, and the media, on such a tragic issue concerning persecuted Christians in the Muslim world; they are interrelated and although their motivations are different they have solidly cemented a wall of silence that has buried the historical reality.
Proposals for redressing these violations of fundamental human rights:
1. To define the ways and means to end this tragedy:
1) Not to foster an anti-Islamic current which would be wrong, as the vast majority of Muslims are themselves victims of Islamists in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, etc.
2) Christians must continue to live in their historical lands because it is their right, and only they can transform traditional Muslim mentalities. These dwindling communities should be encouraged to stay, as their presence will signify that Muslims have accepted that Jews and Christians also possess the right to life and dignity in their ancient homelands -- and not under a dhimmi protection, but with human rights equal to those of Muslims. If they fail, it will be our loss in the West too. Islamic countries that once had a Judeo-Christian culture should not become monolithically Islamic -- that is, Christianrein, as they have become virtually Judenrein -- through a policy of ethnic cleansing that followed a long historical period of discrimination.
3) If the human rights -- and the minority rights -- of Christians are not respected in those countries that formerly had Christian majorities, then the rights of all non-Muslims will be challenged by the Islamists' resurgence. It is for Christians worldwide -- particularly in America and Europe, and for the international community also -- to assure that the human rights for all religious minorities are respected worldwide.
II. We should realize that those populations are in grave danger and that even Muslim governments cannot protect them from mob violence -- sometimes they pretend to be unable to do so in order to stop foreign pressure or public campaigns. We should also remember that, from the late 1940s, the Jewish communities in the Arab-Muslim world -- then more than a million, now 1% of that number, under 10,000 and fast dwindling -- were the victims of persecution, terrorism, pillage and religious hatred that forced them to flee or emigrate. Christians were left as the only non-Muslims on whom religious fanaticism and hatred could be focused. Each Christian community tried to resist the return of the old order, following the path of secularism or communism.
The Islamists reproach Christians in their countries of:
1) being against the implementation of the shari'a;
2) demanding equal rights, basing themselves on International Covenants;
3) seeking foreign help to achieve equality with fellow Muslim citizens.
For the Islamists, these three accusations alone are tantamount to rebellion. It was these same motives that had justified the first great massacres of the Armenians a century ago in 1894-96, punished for having rebelled and for claiming the reforms that were promised.
This is why dhimmis communities were always careful to proclaim their enmity to Europe. An outward opposition to Christian countries being their life-saving shield against threats from their environment, they have interiorized this animosity to the point that they often strive for the triumph of Islam, some of them even becoming the best and most perfect tools of Islamic propaganda and interests in Europe and America. (The late Father Yoakim Moubarac and Georges Corm in France, and Edward Said in America, are but three examples out of many.)
III. In order to avoid mistakes and be more effective, one has to realize the difference of contexts between the campaign for Soviet Jewry in the 1970s and 1980s, and the promotion of human rights for Christians in Islamic lands today. The main difficulty arises because the discrimination or persecution in some countries cannot be ascribed to a deliberate government policy. It is rather a fact of civilization: the traditional contempt for dhimmis -- not so different from that of African Americans in the past -- and irritation because they are out-stepping their rights and must be obliged to return to their former status.
Sometimes, however, it is imposed by the Islamists, and a weak government doesn't dare to protect the Christians, fearing to become even more unpopular because anti-Western, and anti-Christian prejudices have imbued Muslim culture and society for centuries.
1) There are many ways to persecute Christians; some are by legal means, like the laws concerning the building or the repair of churches; others, by terror. A Christian can be killed, not because he committed a crime, but simply because he belongs to a group of infidels, whom, allegedly, are in rebellion; or for reasons of "spectacle-terrorism" that can serve as a deterrent policy to fulfill the terrorists' aims.
2) Another point concerns the use of a fatwa. If a fatwa is decreed against an individual, any Muslim is authorized to kill him, and by so doing he is the executor of what is considered the sentence of Allah.
IV. The problem is multifarious; it is not only religious but also cultural. This aspect is more acute with Christian than with Jewish communities because Muslims conquered Christian lands and civilization that were then subjected to a deliberate policy of Arabization and Islamization. Take, as an example, Christian pre-Islamic Coptic history: language and culture are a neglected, if not forbidden, domain because it would imply that Muslim history had been imperialistic. But Culture and history are important elements in a group's identity, and there are many Muslim intellectuals who are proud of Egypt's Pharonic and Coptic past. It is the Islamists who reject this past as an infidel culture, a part of the jahaliyah, what existed before Islam, considered taboo. Therefore, I would also suggest further goals, such as:
1) Recovering "Memory," the long history of the dhimmi peoples, of dhimmitude -- the collective, cultural patrimony of Jews and Christians for without their memory and without their history, people fade away and die.
2) Preventing the destruction of Christian historical monuments, either by local governments, or as was done with Abu Simbel, and other sites that now belong to the World's cultural legacy.
V. Discussing "dhimmitude" in academia and elsewhere. This is a Judeo-Christian historical patrimony and those whose heritage it is are entitled to know about it. The discussion of dhimmitude with Muslims, however, is fraught with difficulties. In the eyes of Islamists, and criticism of Islamic law and history is assimilated to a blasphemy. For a dhimmi, it is forbidden to imply that Islamic law has a default, or to contradict the ijma, the consensus. Moreover, the court testimony of a dhimmi against a Muslim is not accepted. Therefore, as dhimmitude is the testimony of dhimmi history -- of Christians and Jews -- under Islamic oppression, it would not be considered valid in traditionalist circles. Besides, the unification of religious and political power transfers the political domain into the religious one, therefore any criticism of Islamic civilization may become, for Islamists and others, a blasphemy.
The case of Farag Foda, and Egyptian Muslim intellectual, who defended the Copts and strongly criticized some Muslim religious authorities was exemplary: he was assassinated in 1992 after a fatwa. In giving his testimony, the late Sheik Muhammad El-Ghazali implicitly justified Foda's assassination on the grounds of apostasy; he stated that anyone opposing the sharia was an apostate and thus deserved death.
VI. Encourage Muslim intellectuals to strive in their own countries and in the West for the defense of equal human rights for Christians and others. The 1981 UNESCO Declaration of Islamic Human Rights and that of Cairo, both conditional on the sharia, are insufficient.
VII. Creation of a team of experts and lawyers -- and not apologists in order to discuss the problem, always stressing that the aim is not to foster anti-Muslim nor anti-Islamic feelings, but to create peace and reconciliation between religions and people, without which the next century will become a bloodbath and clash of civilizations.
The stakes are huge, the threats are real and permeating the whole society through muslim inlets and their supporters as well as possible diplomatic special forces used on US soil to assist them on technicalities. We are at war, we have no time to discuss the sex of the angels, we have to scatter indeed and isolate muslims, their supporters and diplomats. Can America do that? In the current mood of political correctness it is a difficult task, one that looks like trying to inform Jerusalem in 52 AD that it is about to be destroyed by a Roman army at the gates....
Judgment Day America.
While I too do not want to see attacks against innocent Muslims in this country, Islam IS the problem.
Remember how our troops who were in the Gulf War and posted to Saudi were admonished NOT to display Christian symbols?
Islam is not a religion of freedom or justice.
And our media and government point to Saudi Arabia as an example of a 'moderate' Islamic country?
This is how they portray Islam. Islam is the woman on the cross.
Bump back at ya, MarMema.
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