From:  The xenophobic part of my mind

To:    European Muslims

I usually try to take a fair and balanced line in my posts, whatever the concrete issue may be, but the fact is that deep down inside I am quite xenophobic, just like everybody else, if they are honest.

This post started out as a reply for a comment to this post, but I had refrained from posting it, for I felt that it turned out far too one-sided and, well, xenophobic. But I think that it isn’t all that appropriate, given the current rioting in France. I do think that Muslims can be successfully integrated into Western society, but that can only happen when certain issues are properly addressed. Multiculturalism isn’t the solution, it is very much part the problem. At the same time we can rightfully demand from Muslims that they should be aware of the fears and resentments they raise in the populations they are trying to join, and behave accordingly. You want to join the club? Fine, but you have to follow the rules, and the onus is on you to prove that you deserve to be a member, and that the suspicions against you are unjustified. Some Americans seem to have an idealized idea about how the melting pot works – there was and is considerable pressure on new immigrants to fit in, and rightfully so. The same should go for people immigrating to Europe, and there is nothing wrong with social and economic pressure if it is applied fairly and equalibly, rather than being the expression of prejudice and racism.

The text below is written in this spirit, so please keep this in mind whenever you feel like letting out a howl of outrage, or want to tut-tut at my simplistic attitude.


I, too, have almost daily interactions with Muslims, and nearly all of them are pleasant and honorable people, same as everybody else. I also believe that we need to differentiate between Muslim sects.

Fact is, though, that if you leave the individual level it becomes trickier. Muslims, moderate or not, by and large believe that their faith is the superior one, and that they should enjoy preferential treatment. And why should they feel differently? They are, by their own lights, only demanding that different people should be treated differently. So if they have the superior faith, they should be treated like superior people – makes perfect sense to them. Maybe your and mine direct experiences with Muslims have been mostly positive because we haven’t, in our interactions and talks with Muslims, touched upon their fundamental beliefs, which are very likely less pleasing, and would be highly painful for us, if set into practice.

The same would go for many devout believers of other faiths, absent the rule of law. I don’t want to offend anyone, but by and large fervent Christians are only harmless nowadays because they lack the power and numbers to be dangerous, and there are so many competing denominations that keep each other in check. They didn’t leave everybody else alone because they wanted to, but because we others *made* them leave us alone.

That, too, isn’t an indictment of individual Christians, no matter how fervent. Read your history, though. Once again, if you go beyond the individual level, you get things like forcible conversions and the execution of recalcitrant agnostics, heretics and adherents of other faiths who didn’t feel like converting. And the people who did that felt that they did their victims a kindness, for they tried to save them from eternal damnation. Once those components of religious faiths dominate which go far beyond anything a human being can truly comprehend – like the conviction that heretics, non-believers and apostates will burn forever in hell if they aren’t shown the error of their ways – the most bestial brutality becomes downright mandatory in order to save them.

Very few present-day Christians are like that, least of all Pope Benedict, but a lot of Muslims are just like that even in the 21st Century, and the pieties of political correctness prevent us from taking appropriate action to keep them in line. That will encourage extremist Muslims, who can achieve one sense of achievement after another, whenever the the rest of us yield to them, no matter how small the issue in question. Building on these, for them, positive experiences they can grow in confidence, while at the same time moderate Muslims are ignored and sidelined – what incentive do they have to keep going, if the opposite behavior is rewarded over and over again?

Then again, there’s the question how useful the moderates are to us anyway. It’s not as if they staged huge demonstrations against the Islamists, and they also require our protection, lest they be all killed by those same Islamists. I also strongly suspect that the true ‘moderate Muslims’ have effectively stopped being Muslims at all, and they won’t own up to it, for apostasy means yet again death. And even if they still regard themselves as Muslims, they seem to have at the very least capitulated to our secular European culture – for every Muslim girl wearing a headscarf I see one running around in skimpy clothing, weather permitting. Never mind the religious aspect, I wouldn’t let my daughters leave the house like that, if I had children. Last but not least, the (hypothetical?) moderates won’t inform the authorities about the Islamists’ plans, even if they could do so anonymously and without danger to themselves. Islam seems to breed indifference and sloth, at least as far as social matters and the fulfilling of civic duties is concerned. One more reason to apply some pressure, so that they’ll at least bother to face the most most basic tasks for becoming full citizens, like learning the local language.

What all this amounts to is that moderate Muslims are not much help. We also have to be discerning in whom we call a moderate and whom not – the Central Council of German Muslims criticized the Iranian president sharply when he demanded that Israel should be wiped off the map. Good for them, but almost simultaneously they demanded an apology for the Crusades from the Church, claiming that they were the equivalent of centuries of anti-semitic teachings and persecution.

There are other differences between Christians and Muslims. Christian zealots were reigned in by ourselves, and that has never happened with Muslims. Muslim Spain, aka Al Andalus, was rather tolerant and enlightened, but it was overrun twice by Islamic fanatics who declared jihad on their tolerant and enlightened co-religionists and slaughtered them wholesale. There is
no reason to think that moderate Muslims will fare better in the future. As it is, the only reason we have them around in numbers large enough to even mention is that *we* protect them against their fanatical co-religionists. Virtually all tolerant and enlightened, not to mention inspired and brilliant, Muslim authors live either in Europe or North America – that data point alone should give you something to think about. There are Muslim authors living in the Middle East who are pretty good to great practitioners of their craft, but they are mostly notable as far as technical ability is concerned. Especially telling was this incident: Najib Mahfuz, the only Arab author to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature was too sick to deliver a speech at the Frankfurt book fair 2004, so he sent a representative instead. As it turned out said representative, Mohammad Salmawy, is a notorious Holocaust denier – Gerhard Schröder looked damned stupid standing up with him up on that podium. I like to think that he blindly trusted Mahfus to send a trustworthy representative, instead of greeting a holocaust denier knowingly and opportunistically (but with Schröder you never know).

Another important distinction is that Christian institutions at their most powerful still opposed arbitrary punishment and prosecution, and did what they could to reign in excessively cruel punishment. Unlike the Spanish Inquisition, which acted in the nationalist spirit of Reconquista rather than Christianity, the Roman Inquisition indeed was an attempt to reign in the most extreme zealots, and to impose (religious) rule of law. They did not always succeed, for the Roman Inquisition, or the Roman church as such did not always have power and influence over all of Catholic Christianity. like Spain and parts of Germany and Switzerland, but they did at least try. Atrocities like witch hunts and pogroms against Jews took place exactly where the Roman Inquisition had no power, and also worldly authority and rule of law had broken down.

There were some cases when Islamic rulers did the same for their countries, but those were exceptions and only of a temporary nature. And last but not least, the West came up with a division between Church and State, and they didn’t, they can’t even conceive of it. To be sure, this division was a happy historical accident for us, but Muslims had plenty of time to learn from our example, and to recognize the advantages it provides. That they didn’t speaks volumes.

Yes, you can point to genocides perpetrated by western atrocities, especially Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, and the Soviet Union’s gulags, but it was the rest of Western civilization which put an end to them. By war in the former, and persistent efforts in the latter. It is also worth noting that both regimes had been ‘godless’, which had renounced Christianity altogether; secularization had worked altogether too well – much as it pains this committed agnostic to write down. As to the Muslim world: It had been a enthusiastic supporter of the former (minus Turkey, which gave refuge to all European emigrants that wanted in), and contributed only a couple of guerrilla fighters to defeating the latter.

So, now after overcoming western-style totalitarianism, we could finally enjoy the ‘end of history’, get down to business, and march off into an eternal capitalist heaven, if not for a new, or rather renewed Islamic totalitarianism. We can get rid of our multiculti, kumbaya idiots pretty quickly, but afterwards we’ll still be on our own fighting the Islamists – the moderate Muslims mostly won’t bother to show up, as always. I hope to be proven wrong, of course, but I’m not optimistic.

37 thoughts on “Memo”

  1. Ralf, thanks for this. The idea of “moderate” Muslims is not one which is well-defined. It is a political or media term for Muslim-who-criticizes-terrorism. But it is not a coherent position in itself. What we need to see is Muslims developing some viable model for themselves of citizenship in non-Muslim or secular countries which is consistent with Islam. I do not know enough about Muslim theology to say whether this is even possible. The Catholic Church adopted a declaration on religious freedom during the Second Vatican Council. I do not know if the Muslims can in good conscience adopt something similar, nor do I know who would have the authority to promulgate it.

  2. JFM – a frenchman at Rantburg pointed out something I really never thought of, but is appropriate here:

    “Muslims, moderate or not, by and large believe that their faith is the superior one,….”

    If you have been raised you are superior, women are less than nothing and so are kuffir, how are you going to be able to take orders from/work under those who are women and/or kuffir?

    It ain’t gonna happen.

  3. Looking a religions from a strictly secular point of view, I do think the actual form of the religions have much to do with the eventual evolution of their respective cultures. I think environmental forces have a greater impact in the end than theology. Most of the Islamic world still lives in medieval cultures and those cultures are very similar to the cultures of medieval Christendom.

    The lands of Christendom became more tolerant because they had to or perish. Increasing technological complexity created a need for a society of cooperating specialist. Regions that could not tolerate diversity quickly lost the economic and military competition. It was the bloody work of centuries to get where we are now.

    The problem with the world of Islam is that they have not made the same journey that we in the West have made. They have never managed an industrial civilization or fought an industrial war. Most Muslims still live a culture dominated by family ties and in political systems that are monarchies in all but name. Like medieval christians, they view people of other faiths as sub-human aliens towards whom they have only the most abstract an tenuous moral obligations.

    We are caught in a Red Queens Race. We must bring the Islamic world up to the same technological and political sophistication as the west while at the same time preventing them from using the capabilities of the 21st century in actions predicated on a medieval world view.

  4. I think more attention needs to be paid to the scriptural basis of Christianity and Islam when it comes to considering the actions of devout followers of either faith. Despite there having been atrocities committed “in the name of Christianity,” if one reads the entire New Testament, one would be hard pressed to find any hint of justification for those acts. There is certainly no justification to be found in the New Testatment for forced conversions. I don’t believe the same can be said for the Koran.

  5. I think it’s important not to tar all Muslims with the same brush. The world of Islam is huge and riven with differences. (How much do Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia have in common?) The attacks by radical Islamists against Christians and Jews parallel extensive Muslim internecine conflict, and particularly attacks against Muslim democrats and others who do not share the Islamists’ beliefs. Just look at what’s going on in Iraq, which among other things is a battle among Muslims who hold radically different views of how Muslims should live.

    It is greatly disappointing that more Muslims in the West are not outspoken against the jihadists, but it is not obvious that their quiescence is based, in many cases, on anything more than fear. This implies that they will be more likely to support us openly to the extent that we show resolve vs. the jihadists (including our domestic jihadists, about whom we have been IMO excessively complacent).

    As for immigration, certainly immigrants should be expected to adopt the cultural and political ethos of the countries they move to. However, European governments that treated several generations of Muslim immigrants as “guest workers” and temporary residents, for whom it was not necessary to insist on adoption of European ways, share some of the blame for the current, and probably future, crisis.

    To be sure, there are deep currents of anti-Jewish, anti-Christian and anti-western bigotry and jihadist activism flowing through the Muslim world now, and we should fight them using as much force as it takes to prevail. But blurring the distinctions between Muslims doesn’t help. Muslims who share our animosity toward the jihadists are our best allies.

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  7. Comparing Islam with Christianity doesn’t work. Yes, the Church was rigid and demanding, but when did it call for four wives? When did it say women couldn’t touch another man, or go out of the house without being accompanied by a male, even if it was only her 8 yr old kid? When did Christians commit nightmareish female genital mutilation? When did they commit “honour” killings?

    Islam is an extreme, intolerant and controlling religion. They even believe that everyone is born Muslim because there couldn’t be any other way of being born. Those who are Christian or Jewish or anything else are advised to “revert” (There are no converts to Islam. You “revert”.) They believe that their god has demanded that the entire world be dar-es-salam – totally Islamic – and it is their holy duty to make it so.

    They do not recognise national borders. The world is dar-es-salam (under Islam) or dar-al-harb (Not Islam). The nation of Islam and the world outside which is Not Yet Islam.

    This being the case, your “moderate” Muslims cannot condemn their brothers in Islam for carrying out god’s wishes. They may feel uneasy at some of the methods, but they cannot condemn what is done in their god’s name.

    Now, there are some who do actually go to the police with information, but they are very brave and very advanced. Most simply will not.

    So, Ralph, I believe all this has to be taken into account in any discussion of “modern Muslims”, who I think are fewer and further between than we would like to imagine.

  8. Verity,

    It has not been so long that mainstream Christian culture looked very much like all but the most extreme forms of Islam. Upper class women were expected to go out into public veiled and to always have chaperones. Women of all classes were expected to cover their hair at all times under penalty of law. It was considered okay for a cuckold to kill his spouse even with premeditation. Families would not kill a girl with compromised virtue but they could and often did throw them out to starve. Compulsory religion and established churches were the norm. Before 1800, the lands we now call Europe or the West called themselves collectively “Christendom.”

    If we were forced to share a world with our own christian ancestors from 500 years ago they would offend our modern sensibilities as much as modern day old school muslims do.

  9. Shannon – could you tell us which countries you’re talking about, please? No woman in Britain or N Europe was commanded to go out in a veil! Go out with chaperones? Young girls would be chaperoned, but grown women? That is ridiculous! And the only women who covered their hair at all times were nuns, and that was for purposes of killing their own vanity.

    I have never read of anyone in Britain or N Europe throwing a daughter out to starve – escept in 19th Century music halls! These practices may have been common in some of the more primitive/closer-to-Islamic controlled Mediterranean countries like Portugal, Greece and Malta, but certainly not in advanced Christian Europe. It has never been permitted in English Common Law for a cuckold to kill his spouse! And women have always been able to inherit property in their own right. And their testimony in court is equal to that of a man.

    You write: Before 1800, the lands we now call Europe or the West called themselves collectively “Christendom.”

    Yes, in recognition of a common set of beliefs. Our countries have all had very strong identities for a couple of thousand years. Collectively, we referred to Christendom, meaning that this particular thread of morality and piety ran through all our countries, but we most assuredly, as history shows, did not disregard national borders! Today, we refer to ourselves as the Anglosphere, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognise national borders or think we’re all on one collective mission.

  10. I agree much more with Verity than with Shannon. I had this post on Albion’s Seedling recently, about how the Anglosphere’s English origins are rooted in earlier “exceptionalisms” including Christianity.

    Think of it as a pyramid. Christianity in itself was a huge breakthrough. It placed infinite value on individuals, including women, and it defined reason as a God-given capacity which was to be cultivated in the service of God, it asserted that God was reasonable and made the world comprehensible and that we could and should understand Him and it, it said that there were things that belonged to God and not to Caesar, and it defined all persons possessing authority as servants of those place under their authority for the common good. These, and others, were earth-shattering, new ideas. There could be no freedom, no individualism, not even “reason” as we have come to understand these things without the foundation of Christianity. The next layer, the Western branch of Christendom, was the uniting of Christianity with Classical Civilization and Germanic influences. That is the base of the “Old West”, as David Gress calls it. It is distinct from Byzantine civilization, and the Eastern Christian world, which was Caesaro-Papist and had no division of political and religious authority. The Western division of religious and political authority, rendering different things unto God and unto Caesar, led to a unique and decisive increment of freedom. Those portions of Europe under the Western Church which maintained the stronger mix of Germanic personal freedom and legal equality were more likely to develop and sustain free institutions, which evolved into medieval constitutionalism. This added a further increment. This gives us the “Northwestern gradient” in political and economic freedom and dynamism in Europe. England uniquely sustained its medieval inheritance and built on it, due in the main to its “moat” and the creation of naval power to secure that moat, a process NAM Rodger, and here, has described in detail. The English sub-civilization, part of the West, part of Christendom, achieved the “Exit to modernity” and disseminated itself around the world. But it did so not as some alien growth, but as part of the West, of Europe, of Christendom.

    I put it to you that these elements of Christendom have no parallel in Islam.

    Moreover, Verity is right to point out that variations between European countries are important. The Northern European countries always have given higher social and legal status to women. Alan Macfarlane’s book on love and marriage in England shows that Shannon’s picture of the treatment of women has no application to England, certainly back deep into the middle ages, and possibly back to Saxon times.

  11. “…certainly back deep into the middle ages, and possibly back to Saxon times.” Or ever, I would propose, Lex. And not just us. The same in Scandinavia – the Vikings! And the Viking blood which has infused Scotland, especially in the north, has meant the women have always been willing to go onto the battlefield alongside the men. (Yes, obviously as a lesser force, but none the less violent for that.) Women in the north of Europe have never been regarded as property; they’ve always inherited their own property and their word has never been discounted in courts.

    I see after reading your post, Lex,that this forms a coherent group with the Huns.

    And much of northern Europe, including England, was occupied by the Romans, who brought their own civilising ideas. And Roman women were certainly not under anyone’s thumb.

    There was the head of a powerful tribe in England, in Boadicca – of the Iceni – who fought for the ancient Brits against the Romans driving a chariot she had had fitted out with swords coming out of the spokes of wheels. The notion that northern European women were ever equivalent in status to Islamic women is outrageous. There is no equivalency whatsoever. It may have been the case with Mediterranean women who were closer to the caliphate, but certainly not us!

  12. To most Christians, all souls are equal before God – men’s, women’s, Indians, slaves, etc. And that was more important than positions in this world. This was it seems to me a remarkable and beautiful concept.

    Still, people did kill each other over ways of, say, taking communion. In the fervency that led to some of the religious battles of the middle ages, the sense (like the Muslims) that one approach was the absolute good and the other was evil led people to take up arms to purify the world.

  13. The ideology of the people whom we are fighting appears to be an amalgam of fundamentalist Islam, Arab nationalism and European fascism. Use of the generalization “Muslims” in this context is a gross oversimplification.

  14. Folks – I am a Muslim by birth, a Deist by choice — a choice that puts me beneath you “people-of-the-book” Christians and Jews and almost on par with the non-believers/Hindus/animists etc. And those of you who have read my postings here know that I am quite skeptical of all forms of organized religion.

    However, what we are seeing in France is not Islamic in origin but surely is in reaction and expression. Islam, despite what Muslims claim, has evolved over time and has taken a turn for the worst in the 20th century in order to accomodate the psychological needs of Muslims. That Islam that Ralf refers to is more a political reaction against various attempts and subsequent failures of the Islamic world to catch up with the Western world in the past 100 years or so. Everything, with the exception of individualism, that was imported from the West has failed: absolute monarchy (primogeniture is Western, not Eastern), and various forms of collectivism/statism such as socialism, fascism, corporatism, etc. As for Muslim enclaves/ghettos in Western Europe, the return of 2nd and 3rd generation Muslims to an extremist interpretation of their belief system is essentially a reflection of – rather than the cause of – European societies’ failure to integrate them as full citizens. Islam, like Christianity, can take any form and it offers a tremendous source of comfort for those – including for full societies – who do not see the prospects of succeeding in this world. Listening to the Koran being recited, just like meditating/listening to a choir inside a grand cathederal, offers tremendous amount of psychological comfort even to those Muslims who do not understand Arabic. I experience this pseudo-comfort every time I go to a mosque to attend a post-funeral wake. What people like Bin-Laden and his counterpart “imams” in the Western world who don religious outfit do is essentially to provide this comfort in return for political favors from the disgruntled who have no opportunity cost. Western Europe will go a long way once it starts treating its Muslims as individuals rather than parts of some kind of a group. By treating these people as Muslims rather than citizens with equals rights under the law and accentuated by rigid labor laws and social welfare systems, Europeans have pushed Muslims to reinforce their identities in ways that have been counterproductive to all sides. I think America offers quiet a bit of lesson on this but unfortunately both the opinion and policy makers in Europe have a very distorted image of America in terms of race/ethnic relations.

  15. “Western Europe will go a long way once it starts treating its Muslims as individuals rather than parts of some kind of a group.” Sulaiman has, I think, reduced to one sentence the major difference between the American approach and the European approach to Muslims citizens. The multiculturalist approach, which is unfortunately favored by some influential people and institutions in the USA, prefers to think in terms of groups, group-rights and group-identity. But the general attitude here is still the old-fashioned attitude of judging each person as they conduct themselves as neighbors, co-workers, etc. and respecting the person’s religious practices as their personal business. America had to preserve civil peace as a religiously diverse society, and this approach suited us, and left everyone free to pray as they wished, and to persuade others to pray the same way, voluntarily, if that is what they wanted to do. The Europeans are not going to find it easy to do things this way.

  16. “They didn’t leave everybody else alone because they wanted to, but because we others *made* them leave us alone.” Historically there may be something to that, but where does the guy get off claiming credit? “They” and “we others,” indeed. He’d better come from a long line of freethinkers . . . .

  17. Thank you for your comments, most of these will be addressed in follow-up post(s).

    Just this much for now:

    – I’m not trying to brush all Muslims with the smae broad brush, but the problem is that any Muslim we could justifiably call ‘moderate’ will effectively stop being a Muslim, either by his own admission, or the way most Muslim will see him.


    I’m not descended from long line of freethinkers, but rather a long line of people who objected to being burned at the stake over minor theological disagreemnets.

  18. Sulaiman – Thank you for an interesting post. So it’s all our fault, eh?

    Islam, with respect, is an uncompromising religion of violence and conquest. I do not think the labour laws of France played any part, for example, in the beheading of three innocent schoolgirls walking to their school. Nor in the bombing of the hotel in Aman yesterday. Nor the bombing of nightclubs in Bali, nor the atrocity against the WTC. This is all done out of spite, and revenge. Revenge for our being successful despite breaking all the “laws” set out in the Koran. Islam, far from being a religion of peace, is a religion of anger, fury and raging intolerance.

  19. Verity,

    Laws requiring that women cover their head, wear long sleeves and ground dragging skirts were common in American and especially New England well into the mid-1800s. A woman walking down a public street in pants would have been arrested almost anywhere in the western world until the early 20th-century.

    In the pre-forensic age, rape trials were decided by close examination of the victims dress, mannerism and physical location prior to the attack. Women who did not adhere to strict standards were at risk of raped at will. The only way a woman could protect her honor was to goad her attacker into injuring her so severely that it would remove all doubt that she had consented.

    The legal doctrine of fem coverture i.e. that a woman’s property and sometimes even her person, was the legal property of some male, usually her husband, was common in all Western nations and began to die out only in late 1800’s. By comparison, Islamic women have always had the right to own property in their own names.

    Pre-enlightenment Christians made as strong a distinction between believers and non-believers as do many muslims. The doctrine of the divine right of kings meant that only Christians were the legitimate rulers of anybody, anywhere. The concept of Christendom in that time is an exact parallel to dar-el-Islam.

    If forced to share a world with Christians of that era, it would be easy to say, “Look, they divide the entire world into Christians and non-Christian, the latter of whom they perceive as having few if any rights. They believe that only Christians can legitimately rule any country. They justify conquest and slavery by saying it leads to people being converted to Christianity. These people are dangerous irrational fanatics bent on world conquest!”

    Although we like to think of tenets of religions as eternal and absolute, the real world actions taken by devotees of various religions evolve over time. Christians of the past routinely engaged in behaviors that we today would find cruel, brutal and manifestly at odds with the tenets of Christianity yet the ultimate source for the religion, the bible, is the same in all eras. Clearly, the behaviors of adherents is governed more by external factors than the core religion itself.

    Muslims will change their religion to meet changing circumstance just like Christians did. This or that tenet of traditional Islam might make the process easier or more difficult but it will eventually occur. I don’t think there is anything in Islam or any religion that can prevent this process.

  20. Ralf Goergens wrote, in reference to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union:

    It is also worth noting that both regimes had been ‘godless’

    This is not true; officially the former was quite Christian, to the point of having belt buckles stating quite clearly “Got Mit Uns” (God With Us).

    The moral is that any kind of cult which denies doubt and tolerance (save perhaps of those who refuse to reciprocate tolerance) is dangerous.  National Socialism was exactly such a cult, but its official position put it squarely in the Christian column.

  21. Sorry, Shannon, but you’re trying to change the terms of the argument. Women in W Europe were never within a million miles of equivalency with Islamic women. I don’t know about the US.

    And in Victorian England, women did indeed wear trousers – breeches and what were called bloomers for riding bicycles. Not only were British and Northern European women not required to cover themselves up, but some of the decolletage throughout the ages has been very extreme. And not only were they never required to cover their heads, but from the earliest times – by which I mean, pre-Roman, they have contrived attention-getting hairdoes and put all kinds of nets and jewellery and hairpieces on to frame their faces. They have always owned their own property, they have inherited equally with males, they have always had an equal voice in law and they have always been able to divorce their husbands.

    I realise the US had some extreme sects, but we didn’t.

    “Muslims will change their religion to meet changing circumstance just like Christians did.” Oh, really? Islamic scholars seem pretty much agreed that there is no Reformation on the horizon in Islam.

  22. Also, Britain has always been tolerant of eccentrics and the notion that a woman would have been arrested for wearing trousers in Britain is quite wrong. Even in the early 18th Century, there were women who crossed dressed. (Men, too, and no one bothered them, either.)

  23. Verity,

    My basic point is that contemporary Islam= Christianity circa 1500 in many, many respects. Christians of that era showed many of the same negative traits. Christians changed and muslims can to.

    With respect to the treatment of women, most of these practices are in fact traditional Arabic practices that Arabic muslims and non-muslims all engage in whereas non-Arabic muslims do not. If such practices are inherent to Islam, you must explain why Balkens, Turkish, Indian and Far east Moslems generally do not follow such practices. It is largely the spread of Saudi back Wahabism that has caused some Arabic practices to spread but this is a phenomenon purely of the last 30 years or so.

    Looking at all the variation in Islamic practices across the world I don’t think that on whole Islamic cultures are worse than the cultures of other religions at the same level of technological attainment.

  24. Shannon, again and with respect, I cannot allow your statements to stand because they are misleading by omission. I have no idea whether the Turks ever practised female genital mutilation and similar bonkers rituals, but this is by no means confined to Arabs. Ask Aaryan Hirsi Ali, born in Somalia and mutilated when she was around 10. I believe – I have no names to cite – that Nigeria also practise this aberrant custom. (I will not call it primitive because I have never read of any Stone Age people engaging in such barbarity to their own people.) Nigeria also practises the sport of stoning people to death. That means, they bury them up to their waist, or sometimes their neck, and invite the local populace to have a fun afternoon out. In Indonesia, they behead little Christian schoolgirls as they walk to their school through a peaceful coconut grove.

    I don’t think “we” need to bring them up to our technological level, because that is not possible. We will always be in advance of them because we have enquiring minds and they believe that every fact the world needs to know has already been revealed in their holy book.

    They believe they are on a divine mission to make the whole world Islamic for their god and that if we beg to differ, we have to die. They believe there is no such thing as “an innocent victim” of a suicide fanatic in the West, because as non-Islamics, we have not been accorded the status of “human”. It infuriates them that we break all their god’s laws and yet we’re still up there, shaking our booty.

    People who study Islam for a living do not see any sign of a Reformation. Some, indeed, see the resentment growing.

    This is not written as a challenge and certainly isn’t intended to be rude, but all your arguments are easily demolished because you do not address facts. Or the facts you address are so selective that they cannot stand outside the context.

    It’s comforting to think they might snap out of it, but there are no signs of it.

  25. Lee Harris observes that “the “ideal” of tolerance. . . is not imposed from above but rather emerges from below” and “is not cut from a pattern but grows from a seed.” In our small town, the high school did not have dances. There were three (I think – it might have been two) Nazarenes. Their feelings were respected. This baffled people in Texas (people of my generation were still going to segregated schools during their high school years). But it is the natural effect of a small town where we all knew one another & certain values – mainly of respect – reigned. Integration had to be forced, of course. But instinctive tolerance comes from a tradition of working & living side by side.

    Our whole way of looking at the world was bought by hard times in the middle ages. We can hope that Muslims learn from our mistakes, but I’m not sure we can easily teach them a lesson that must grow from a respect for the other.

  26. Verity/Shannon – I think Verity is confusing Arab culture – and at that Saudi Arabian/Yemeni Bedouin culture – with Islam. Petrodollars has given the loudspeaker to the most primitive elements of Islamic world. Perhaps you missed the derogatory remark that an Iraqi official made a few weeks ago about Saudis. In the same light, Syrians and Egyptians look – both Arab – look at Saudis the same way … a bunch of uncivilized people.

    One more point to note is that Islamic militancy among Muslims living in the West is much much much weaker than what would see among the rest of the Muslims living in Dar-l-Islam, particularly among non-Arabs. I follow Afghanistan quite closely and, except for some elements that were radicalized by Saudi/CIA (check out Charlie Wilson’s War in money during the Soviet war and subsequent “helping hand” from bin-Laden, the local population shares practically nothing politically with Muslims of Europe.

    P.S. Verity’s Western “enquiring minds” amused me. Perhaps you are not aware of Muslim achievements in the US, opportunities not available to Muslims in Europe. FYI — a vast majority of them vote Republican and have a per capita income higher than average American. Perhaps you should visit an American university to see how well these “mindless” people are thriving.

  27. Correction – the post above is mine:

    One more point to note is that Islamic militancy among Muslims living in EUROPE is much much much STRONGER

  28. Sulaiman – Yes, I am aware that there are some successful Arabs in the US and I congratulate them. It’s hard to be a success and have a chip on your shoulder at the same time, so I am sure these are rational, intelligent people who have fitted in to the host society and play their part in maintaining it through community work. Excellent!

    Being successful in business – while extremely admirable; I believe capitalism solves most problems – is not the same as having the Western, inquiring mind that produces new technology and systems. Muslims are not driven to seek the new because they believe that everything that needs to be is in their holy book. Contrary to factoids put about in their defence, Arabs did not invent zero or any of the higher mathematics. These came from India (which still produces more talented physicists than anywhere else in the world) and transitted through the Middle East to Europe, where they were grabbed and employed to invent more things.

    Sulaiman – one thing you cannot get away from is “the vast moderate majority” of Muslims that we’re always hearing about cannot bring themselves to condemn atrocities and terrorist outrages and primitivism (beheading three little girls walking innocently to their Christian school) because these atrocities are done in the name of their god so cannot be condemned.

  29. Verity – you are judging 1,000,000,000 people from a few radical elements that you see around you. You have fallen in the very trap that international Islamic fundamentalists have set up in order to exploit it for their own political gain: us versus them. You have fallen for the collectivist mentality that they have, in turn, learned from Western socialists and fascists. What you have failed to understand is that Dar-l-Islam is currently undergoing a civil war, a war prompted by the challenges coming from Western thought which was shaped in a different era and through interaction with Islamic world, and that the West has been dragged into this civil war as we no longer live in geographically distinct areas known as East and West, etc. You have failed to notice that when the West underwent a similar turmoil roughly between 1450-1700 AD, the world was not as globalized.

    FYI – Algebra is an Arabic world. The numbers posted on this page are Arabic in origin. Perhaps you should go to a library and look at the grand architectural styles that Muslims of a different era left behind from Maghreb all the way to Malaysia. Pick up Bernard Lewis’ books (he is an Englishman and part of the vast Neocon conspiracy) to open your mind to a wider and longer perspective on history.

  30. Sulaiman writes: “you are judging 1,000,000,000 people from a few radical elements that you see around you.” No, I am judging Islam by the fact that 1,000,000,000 people cannot bring themselves to publicly condemn Islamic terrorism. If it’s done in the name of their god, it must be OK. They use a lot of weaselly phrases, like, “We feel sorry for the innocent victims” which is a real bit of taqqya and kitman, because in Islam, there can be no innocence where there is no commitment to Islam.

    I am familiar with Malaysia and I have yet to see a building left behind by ancient Arabs!! There is some quite pleasing Muslim architecture in Malaysia, but from the last century or the late 1800s. Malaysia 1500 years ago – or even 200 years ago – was solid jungle with tiny, tiny little kampongs. No buildings other than their little shacks. Give me a break! It only started getting real buildings when the British came in and cleared the jungles.

    But the point of this post is to decry the official line of “oh, you’re judging Islam by the work of a few thousand terrorists”. Indeed I am. And the fact that 1 billion Muslims do not condemn them. Even the most anodyne condemnation one reads has a get-out clause.

  31. Shannon: “My basic point is that contemporary Islam= Christianity circa 1500 in many, many respects. Christians of that era showed many of the same negative traits. Christians changed and muslims can to.”

    The trouble is, the rest of us can’t afford to wait a few more centuries for Islam to evolve into a benign state, not when Islamic supremacists today are looking to acquire nuclear weapons for their cause. Even decades may be too late in this regard.

  32. I agree with what Joshua said. In addition, yes, the church was rigid and a lot of people were narrow minded, although not violently so, about their religion. But plenty weren’t. Northern Europe has never been a theocracy. Perhaps, Shannon, we will give us some specific parallels between Islam and Christianity 500 years ago.

    In addition, 500 years ago, most people, save traders, had never actually been outside their own community. They knew nothing of the world. London, for the English, could have been on another planet. They would not even know the names of many countries on the continent. Most couldn’t read or write except very very basically. But there was no need to read because there were no books. Their little universe was their family, their neighbours and tradespeople who came through their villages and little townships.

    Contrast with the Islamics today. Satellite TV. Trips on planes to foreign countries. Cellular phones. University overseas. Undreamt of personal mobility. Google at their fingertips. Foreign newspapers online.

    Even if Islam could be compared with Christianity, which I most assuredly do not concede, even in part, it is flying in the face of the modern world – blindly denying the truths it can observe with its own eyes. They are not ignorant. They don’t think the world is flat.

    All this was invented by the enlightened West and the world is run by the enlightened West, with undreamed of opportunities for everyone. And they are stuck in the 10th Century. Doesn’t this strike you as perverse?

  33. Verity – it is really amazing how easily you forget your ugly past. Crusaders brought death and destruction not seen at that point in history not only on Muslims but also on Christians who did not agree with their narrow interpretation of religion. And absolute monarchy supported by religious institutions is something that Muslims learned from the West.

  34. Thank god our ancestors recognised the totalitarian nature of Islam and fought it. Hundreds of years later, we fought Nazi Germany (and won)for the same reason. Later we destroyed the Soviet Union for the same reason.

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