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Democrat calls for Muslims to reject terror

Via Gindy, a US Senator has gone on record calling for ostensibly peace-loving Muslims to take a tougher stand against Islamic terrorism. And she's no neocon Republican, either. Agence France-Presse reports:

A top US Senator urged Muslim leaders across the world to issue a slew of religious edicts denouncing terrorism and warned that mosques in "many places" are enabling terrorists.

Senator Dianne Feinstein spoke in the wake of Saturday's bombings in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where 88 people were killed, and the July 7 attacks in London, where 52 people and four suicide bombers died. A new attack in London failed Thursday.

"I think until the mosques in the Muslim world and the imams in the Muslim world in a major way issue fatwa after fatwa denouncing jihad and denouncing terror that we're not going make any progress," the California Democrat told CNN.

"I don't see many, if any, major imams throughout all of the Muslim countries coming together and saying: Enough of this. Stop. This is not Islam. You know, we object to it," she said.
Sen. Feinstein makes a good point. Even if mainstream Muslim leaders bear no responsibility for Islamic terrorism, they do have a unique ability to fight it. Their words, at least in theory, carry a weight with other Muslims that the words of non-Muslim politicians do not. If they are truly appalled by the wave of terror being perpetrated around the world in the name of their religion, well, they're in an excellent position to do something about it.

Are they? In the same article, Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's incoming US ambassador, says:
Many fatwas have come out from Muslim scholars and religious leaders against suicide bombings and against the killings that have taken place, but they're just not getting enough resonance in the public media and the public audiences that should be where these statements are directed.
Well, no. Those statements shouldn't be directed toward "the public media", as if the main goal were to polish up Islam's image. They should be directed to Muslims, in mosques, by imams. But either those statements are not being made, or they're not being taken seriously. And how could they be, when so many Muslims, not merely the extremists, reflexively support a Palestinian movement that has made the Islamic suicide bombing of civilians its signature weapon?

A denunciation of terrorism that overlooks terrorism against Israel is meaningless. Once you've decided it's okay to attack a bus full of Israelis, it's a lot easier to rationalize attacking a bus full of Londoners, or a hotel full of Egyptians. The sea change that Sen. Feinstein hopes for will not come until Muslim leaders unite to condemn terrorism against all people, without an Israel exception. I'm not holding my breath.

I smell a meme brewing... In the Wall Street Journal (via LGF), Ahmed H. al-Rahim calls for a "Million Muslim March" against terrorism.


Anonymous said...

But Feinstein seems to think that Islam can and wants to reject Jihad, which is not the case anywhere though certainly people both well-meaning and apologist use that to mean a spiritual, not violent, cleansing of the self and world.

It seems there is no honesty anywhere about Islam in history and practice. Islam certainly qualifies as a Great Religion, in all that that means about its impact on the world and society. But it cannot be said by anyone with an inkling of history that Islam is a Religion of Peace. There is much on the right about this but some of it just slander and unhelpful. The point is not to slander Islam but to understand it as it is and has been practiced by Muslims for 1,400 years.

Perhaps someone could count how many times that moniker is bandied each time there is some violent outburst somewhere, where a Muslim is very clearly, and over the objection of Western liberal sympathizers, claiming to act in the name of Islam.

The word`s of Theo Van Gogh`s killer are quite clear and one must ask if they could be put in the mouth of another religion replacing the names of the God and the Prophet? Honestly, Could these be the words of a Quaker?

"What moved me to do what I did was purely my faith," he told the court. "I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet."

It is in everyone:s interest to speak honestly and historically about Islam, otherwise will will continue to live in this Bizarro world where a right wing kook like Van Gogh is on the side of Truth and (woman`s) humanity and the left is the accompliice of a major illiberal movement.

Sorry GB to rant... 

Posted by tokyobk

Anonymous said...

tokyobk, let's pre-emptively sum up the debate your comment will undoubtedly inspire:

A:  Van Gogh's killer was an extremist, not a mainstream Muslim.

B: There sure seem to be a lot of Muslim extremists around these days.

A: Baloney. Every religion has extremists, like Christianity has anti-abortion zealots.

B: Again with the anti-abortionists! Look, (i) those guys don't wreak anywhere near as much havoc as Muslim terrorists do, (ii) no major Chrisitian sect condones their actions, and (iii) Christians can tolerate art that makes fun of Jesus without going off and killing anybody.

A: Fine, well, you still shouldn't blame all Muslims for the actions of a few.

B: I'm not. But I would like to see Muslims create an environment in which mainstream Islam speaks with one voice to condemn terrorism committed in its name. That way, the borderline radicals would not get the encouragement, intentional or not, that they need to cross over into actual terrorist acts.

Any further comments should pick up from that point and save us all some time. Okay? 

Posted by GaijinBiker

Anonymous said...

If we want mainstream muslims to feel safe to "create an environment in which mainstream Islam speaks with one voice to condemn terrorism" we have to start by not treating them as the enemy.

History has shown that in the right conditions Islam is not incompatible with secular democracy. A valuable discussion might be had about how to encourage the less radical elements of Islam, but going on and on about how dangerous their religion is will just alienate precisely those muslims who could become our allies.  

Posted by Big Ben

Anonymous said...

"Well, no. Those statements shouldn't be directed toward "the public media", as if the main goal were to polish up Islam's image. They should be directed to Muslims, in mosques, by imams. "

That is why I find many of the very few (if that makes sense) condemnations to be nothing but hot air. They often seem to be aimed at improving the image in the west and not at encouraging Muslims to fight extremism.

Also, not noted in the article, she said it is time to stop making excuses for terrorists such as that they are poor, Israel etc. I would like to see more politicians take this stand. Thanks for the link. 

Posted by gindy

Anonymous said...

GB's presumptive summation leaves out Jewish and Hindu extremists, which are far more relevant to this discussion than the abortion clinic bombers  and sadistic Christian homophobes.

I'm confident that Fienstein has not called on rabbis around the world to condemn the radical Zionists who call for the forcible removal of all Arabs from Palestine and who have killed far more Palestinians than Jews that have been killed by suicide bombers. Nor should anyone demand that Feinstein make such a call, even if it would mitigate her glaring double standard.

The extremist Jews are a tiny minority, even if one of them is Prime Minister of Israel. Many prominent Israelis and prominent American Jewish leaders oppose their bigoted, land-grabbing agenda. Just because their voices seldom appear in the U.S. media does not mean they are not opposed to militant Jewish extremism.

Nonetheless, it would be monumentally condescending to the point of being unhelpful, to suggest that peace-loving Jews and their leaders condemn the extremists. Ditto for Hindus.

What is helpful is to call on all peace-loving people everywhere to acknowledge that religious extremism IN ALL FORMS is a threat to peace, freedom and security.

While Gaijinbiker's conjectures do not reflect it, the data he presents all show that condemnation of terrorism is widespread in the Muslim community. If he is interested in learning more, surely he will attempt to compare the level of condemnation of terrorism among Muslims to the level of condemnation of it among Jews, Hindus, etc. and the level of support for Muslim suicide bombers in places like China, where Islam is a tiny minority.

But that's all mostly psychodrama, important only to the loudmouths populating the right-wing owned media spheres.

The real issue is: how to compel the U.S. and it's client Israel to stop undermining moderate Muslim leaders. One way, for sure, is to stop the campaign of hate against Muslims in general, a big part of which consists of efforts to conflate terrorism with Islam at large. 

Posted by bunkerbuster

Anonymous said...


"The real issue is: how to compel the U.S. and it's client Israel to stop undermining moderate Muslim leaders." 

How might we (Isreal and the U.S.) lay off what you choose to miscontrue as "moderate" Islam? By ceasing to exist?

I don't even know how to argue with such a half-conceived, strain-the-edge-of-credulity statement. BTW: I'm not picking on you because you are contrarian. There are several people who post here regularly who disagree yet stay within the boundaries of fact and common sense. You don't play on their team. 

Posted by langtry

Anonymous said...

Read my post again, Langtry. I say nothing about ceasing to exist. You invent that wholecloth.

I wrote that exiting Iraq and rolling back Israel's land-grab would be two first steps. If you think my comments are not factual, you should try disproving them.

Here's another idea, instead of demanding that moderate Muslims declare the opposition to militants, we should be calling on people of all creeds to declare their support for moderate Muslims in their long-fought battle against extremists. Moreover, we should continue to denounce people who attempt to blur the distinction between fanatical murderers and mainstream Islam.


Posted by bunkerbuster

Anonymous said...

I did read your, post, BB . I think you are dreaming if you think that "rolling back the land grab" (a condition brought about through the actions of the Palestinians & their Arab allies, b/k/a the Six Day War) would satisfy the bloodlust of the Islamic world. Ehud Barak offered much of these same areas at Camp David on the occassion of Bill Clinton's last ditch effort to affect a settlement. Arafat, you will remember, turned him down flat. (I remember reading that the unofficial version of Clinton's last conversation with Arafat was *I paraphrase* "You stupid f**k! You had more than you ever deserved in Barak's offering, and you blew it. You never intended to leave here with an accord. Not only have you screwed your own people, but my legacy as well!" I give full credit, BTW, to Clinton for telling Arafat off.)

As for exciting Iraq, they had their chances to prevent Saddam from underwriting terrorism. (Read the dispatches of Claudia Rosset in the Wall Street Jounal  if you still think that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.) The Muslim world allowed him to continue both his inwardly- and outwardly-directed terrorism, and they were never serious about reform. Iraq (and Afghanistan) is a consequence of that satisfaction with the status quo (one that led to the dozens of American lives prior to September 11th). They no longer have the compelling moral authority to tell us what to do, and aquiescence to their demands has never resulted in a a cessation of terrorism. Quite the opposite, as history would bear out.

Until Muslims governments themselves say that they disavow terror, and Muslims living in Western nations pledge their loyalty to those nations that have given them, on many occassions, asylum from those regimes they now support instead of their home countries, I will have trouble believing that "moderate Islam" is anything less than a minority. I have seen reasons for hope, but these occasions are rare. This does not mean, however, that I don't believe things could change, but I hardly think we should make ourselves more vulnerable in order to prove our intent.


Posted by langtry

Anonymous said...

Langtry, I will take your post as an acknowledgement that mine was, contrary to your assertion, factually accurate.

You say rolling back Israel's land grab would not ``satisfy the bloodlust of the Islamic world.''

As Gaijinbiker has shown at length on this very blog, there is no bloodlust in the "Islamic world.'' Rather, the evidence he has presented shows only a tiny minority of fanatics support terrorism.

And even if there were such a "bloodlust,'' the point of Israel giving back land it has stolen from Palestinians would not be to "satisfy" terrorism, but to bolster the political power of those who are opposed to it.

Inasmuch as Langtry acknowledges that she are "paraphrasing" an ``unofficial VERSION'' of Clinton's conversation with Arafat, there is no veracity there for me to challenge. Why does she thinking making things up like that is part of a legitimate discussion of the topic?

Nevertheless, the experience of Arafat is extremely relevant to our discussion. Over the years, Arafat had become increasingly moderate as he succeeded in winning financial and political support from Western countries and some Arab allies.

The more moderate Arafat became, the larger the political space became for his extremist rivals in Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, etc. To the extent that U.S. policy undermined Arafat, it boosted the political fortunes of Hamas and its ideological allies.

This is why Arafat could not agree to surrendering Jerusalem or the right of return of Palestinians, two basic rights Barak refused to accept. Had Arafat declined to insist on those fundamental rights for Palestinians, many ordinary Palestinians and many of his Arab allies may well have switched their support to the extremists in Hamas etc.

Arafat was very clear about why he would continue to seek the right of return for Palestinians and the right to maintain Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Barak, alas, gave no explanation for why he rejected ARAFAT's OFFER of an agreement under those conditions.

Surely Barak had his reasons for REJECTING ARAFAT'S OFFER. Unfortunately, that never became an issue. Instead, the propaganda spin that Arafat was disinclined to accept a reasonable offer obfuscated the real issue (the denial basic rights for Palestinians) and led to the takeover of Israeli government by the extremist Ariel Sharon.

It's important to recognize that Arafat was never in a position to complete renounce violence because Israel never completely renounced military aggression as a means of expanding its territory.


Posted by bunkerbuster

Anonymous said...

Now, the question is: will the U.S. proceed to undermine Abbas in the same way it undermined Arafat? Even has Sharon has attempted to make much of removing extremists and their supporters from occupied areas of Gaza, he is expanding the the takeover of Palestinian land in the West Bank. Officially, the U.S. government is opposed to this land-grab. Formally, it does nothing to stop it and, indirectly, subsidizes it by granting Israel more aid annually than any other country.

One way to widen the wedge between extremists and moderate Islam is to empower Abbas by supporting his effort to halt Israel's land grab. If the U.S. does not do this, how can it expect Palestinians who see their land being stolen and their people murdered by Israelis to not shift their sympathies to the extremists? 

Posted by bunkerbuster

Anonymous said...

Anyone who calls the spoils of a war started by Palestinians "stolen" doesn't deserve my consideration, bunkerbuster .

Abbas has proven himself either unable or unwilling to reign in Hammas , Fatah *the terrorist organization started by Arafat after he became "President"*, or any of the other extremist groups currently operating in the Palestinian territories, demonstrates that the Palestinians have a long way to go before we should consider them a force for peace.

To call Arafat "moderate" in his later years is psychotic. It's counter-factual, your assertions as to your own veracity notwithstanding. 

Posted by langtry

Anonymous said...

Langtry is dead right about one thing. The Israeli-occupied territories in Palestine are ``spoils of war.'' Since they were taken by violence, how can we fault the Palestinians for trying to return them by violence?

Moreover, I concur with Langtry's description of the territories, as it is a repudiation of religious bigots such as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who claim the areas are part of a ``Greater Israel'' that is their God-given right as Jews to control, to the exclusion of all non-Jews. Like Langtry says, the territories are currently Israel's ``spoils of war.''

It is important to note, however, that Israel itself has not acknowledged the occupied-territories as spoils of war by annexing them.

Israel declines to take this step, because it does not want to formally acknowledge that Jews are a minority within the "Greater Israel'' the extremists claim a right to control. Rather, the extremist policy has been to force Palestinians out of those areas and subsidize immigration of Jews into them, in hopes of eventually creating a Jewish majority. As such, the policy amounts to ``ethnic cleansing'' and it has been denounced by a wide spectrum of Israelis, American Jews and the international community.

I do not, however, agree with Langtry's claim that the Palestinians started the war in which Israel seized the West Bank and other. According to the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League: ``The Six-Day War started with a far-reaching air attack, code named "Moked", to shatter the Arab air forces while their aircraft were still on the ground. A massive, simultaneous attack by Israeli first-line aircraft was launched on the morning of June 5 against all Egyptian air force bases in Sinai and Egypt, the main Arab air force. Approximately 300 Egyptian aircraft, including bombers, combat planes and helicopters, were destroyed in less than 2 hours, eliminating the main air threat against Israel. When it became clear that Jordan had entered the war, the Israel Air Force turned to the Jordanian airfields in Amman and Mafrak and destroyed a large part of the Jordanian Air Force. Later on the same day, the air forces of Syria and Iraq were also eliminated as a threat.''

Granted, the Anti-Defamation League's debatable view is that Israel was justified in starting the war, but no one I know of, other than Langtry, has ever claimed the war was started by the Palestinians.

As for Arafat's moderate credentials: chief among them is the fact that he shook hands with then-Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir, sealing a historic peace agreement between the two parties. It's worth noting that Sharon has never entered into any peace agreement and that extremist Jews assassinated Shamir because he did pursue a negotiated peace with the Palestinians.

Posted by bunkerbuster

Anonymous said...

As it happens, the New York Times addresses this issue in an editorial in today's Internaional Herald Tribune .

``Israel has refused requests by Lieutenant General William Ward, the American-appointed coordinator of the effort to overhaul the Palestinian security apparatus, to allow the Palestinians to import new armored vehicles and fresh supplies of arms to do that very job.

``If the Israeli officials who say they want Abbas, a moderate, to succeed are serious, they have to start taking the steps that will allow him to make the case to the Palestinian people that his way - the path of negotiations over violence - will yield the results they want. That means coordinating the coming withdrawal from Gaza with the Palestinian Authority in a way that leaves impoverished Gaza with its dignity intact, as well as the means to show the world that Palestinians can govern themselves. To that end, Israel must stop blocking attempts to rebuild Palestinian security forces.

``Beyond that, Sharon shouldn't even consider exchanging Gaza for more settlements in the West Bank. Indeed, he could help Abbas enormously by announcing a freeze on all settlement activity. So far, the Gaza withdrawal is shaping up to be every bit as emotional as everyone predicted. It would be nice if both sides could find a way to harness all that emotion into rational negotiations about how to live peacefully, side by side.''

Posted by bunkerbuster



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