Friday, September 22, 2006

Death penalty for moderate views

Jerusalem Post reported A Bangladeshi Muslim journalist arrested in the past for advocating ties with Israel now faces charges of sedition, a crime punishable by death in Bangladesh, and will likely be put on trial by the end of the month, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Islam must be a weak religion if it cann't stand any criticism.
In a court session on Tuesday in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, a state-appointed judge ruled that the government's case against Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury could proceed to trial and that the hearings would commence within 15 days. As editor of The Weekly Blitz, an English-language newspaper published in Dhaka, Choudhury aroused the ire of Bangladeshi authorities after he printed articles favorable to Israel and critical of Muslim extremism.
The Muslims must really fear Israel if they kill anyone who speaks favorably about it.
Bangladesh does not recognize Israel's existence and refuses to establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
A non-profit organization I am associated with provided computers to an orphanage in Bangladesh, and because there was a Christian component to the donation, we could not even say the name of the country; we had to refer to it as Southeast Asia or something like that.
In November 2003, Choudhury was arrested at Dhaka's international airport just prior to boarding a flight on his way to Israel, where he was scheduled to deliver an address on promoting understanding between Muslims and Jews. His visit to Israel would have been the first by a Bangladeshi journalist.
These nutcases don't want undertanding between Muslims and Jews; they just want violence.
Choudhury was charged with sedition, held in prison for 17 months and was reportedly tortured before being freed in April 2005. But the authorities in Bangladesh, which is ruled by a coalition government that includes Islamic extremists, decided to continue pursuing charges against him. Dr. Richard Benkin, an American Jew who led the fight to win Choudhury's release, told the Post that the situation facing the beleaguered journalist was dire.

"Choudhury has angered the Islamists, who both engineered his arrest and continue to see this as an important case," Benkin said. "He is a pro-Israeli, anti-terrorist Muslim who will not be cowed into silence."

After his release from prison last year, Choudhury proceeded to reopen his weekly newspaper, continuing to publish articles calling for greater interfaith understanding and warning of the dangers posed by fundamentalist Islamic terror.

Last month, unknown assailants set off explosives outside the newspaper's offices and planted a bomb in the press room that failed to detonate.
A letter to the editor would have been much better.
According to Benkin, Choudhury's family has been subjected to various forms of what appear to be orchestrated harassment. These have included pressure from the Bangladeshi authorities to denounce Choudhury, angry crowds gathering outside their home and even physical attacks. The intimidation has stopped "for the moment," he said.

In a May 20, 2005 opinion piece published in the Post, Choudhury wrote: "As a journalist, I counteracted the biased 'news' that promoted hatred of Israel and Jews, condemned terrorism, promoted the free exchange of ideas and urged Bangladesh to recognize Israel."

Describing the moments immediately before his 2003 arrest, he wrote: "Though physically still in Dhaka, my heart ached to kiss Israel's holy soil."


Europe pathetically caves in

Gerard Baker wrote in Times Online [In Afganistan] German aircraft are not permitted by their national rules to undertake night flights. Now to those who survived the Blitz and Barbarossa, the news that today’s Luftwaffe will not fly at night in potentially hostile environments might be regarded as a welcome historical development. But when you are trying to fight a war against a ruthless band of terrorists who operate 24/7, never pausing to consider the dangers of venturing out in the dark, limiting yourself to daytime operations is a little constraining.

And what is even worse, the Western forces have the technological equipment to enable them to be much better than the enemy in the dark.
The Germans are not alone. Many of the European nations with forces in Afghanistan are operating under similarly ludicrous restrictions. Though their soldiers and airmen are highly capable and indeed eager to take the fight to the Taleban, their governments are desperately fearful of the public reaction should their soldiers suffer significant casualties. They don’t think that their voters will stomach it. And the tragedy is, they are probably right.

I was reminded of my unscheduled night in Herat, and what it said about Europe’s dwindling commitment to its own survival, by a series of disheartening developments in the past week on the political and diplomatic front.

Last week we had the tragicomic spectacle of European Nato countries lining up to decline politely the request to beef up their forces in Afghanistan, many of whom are now fighting in perilously under-resourced conditions against a resurgent enemy.

Then on Monday Jacques Chirac went to New York to upend the long, delicate diplomacy designed to deny Iran nuclear weapons. He said France no longer thought the UN should impose sanctions if Iran did not end its uranium enrichment programme. Various explanations were offered by commentators for this volte-face — from the thought that France might be fearful of the economic consequences of sanctions, to the possibility that M Chirac was trying to curry favour with sanctions-opposing Russia and China, to the suggestion that Paris worries that its new peacekeeping force in Lebanon might come under fire from Hezbollah if France acted tough with its Iranian sponsors.
How about the truth. The French are cowards and they love stabbing people in the back.
Whatever the proximate cause of this latest French surrender, the basic reality is that Europeans have been extremely reluctant to press Iran with sanctions all along — the same noises are coming out of Berlin now — and are content instead to acquiesce in the nightmare of a nuclear-armed Tehran.
But once Iran gets the Bomb, Europe will expect the USA to rescue them yet again.
Then, of course, we have had the predictable European outrage following the latest apparent provocation of Islamic extremists by free speech in the West — Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks last week on Islam. I actually heard a senior member of the British Government chide the Pope this week for what he described as his unhelpful comments. This minister went on to say that the Pope should keep quiet about Islamic violence because of the Crusades.
He was pretty sure the Pope would not cut off his head, while he was not at all sure that the Islamofascists would not do it.
It was a jaw-dropping observation. If it was meant seriously its import is that, because of violence perpetrated in the name of Christ 900 years ago, today’s Church, and presumably today’s European governments (who, after all, were eager participants in the Crusades) should forever hold their peace on the subject of religious fanaticism. In this view the Church’s repeated apologies for the sins committed in its name apparently are not enough. The Pope has no right, even in a lengthy disquisition on the complexities of faith and reason, to say anything about the religious role in Islamic terrorism.

It is apt that Pope Benedict should have received such European opprobrium for his remarks. His election last year looked like a final attempt by the Church to revive the European spirit in the face of accelerating secularisation and cultural morbidity.

But the scale of Europe’s moral crisis is larger than ever. Opposing the war in Iraq was one thing, defensible in the light of events. But opting out of a serious fight against the Taleban, sabotaging efforts to get Iran off its path towards nuclear status, pre-emptively cringing to Muslim intolerance of free speech and criticism, all suggest something quite different.

They imply a slow but insistent collapse of the European will, the steady attrition of the self-preservation instinct. Its effects can be seen not only in the political field, but in other ways — the startling decline of birth rates across the continent that represent a sort of self-inflicted genocide; the refusal to confront the harsh realities of a global economy.
Frency cowardace is spreading across Europe.
It may well be that history will judge that Europe’s decline came at the very moment of its apparent triumph. The traumas of the first half of the 20th century have combined with the economic successes of the second half to induce a collective loss of will. Great civilisations die not in the end because of external force majeure but because internally the will to thrive is sapped.

The symptoms of this moral collapse may be far away from the affluent and still largely peaceful cities and towns of the old continent — in the mountains of Afghanistan, the diplomatic reception halls of Tehran and the angry Pope-effigy-burning streets of the Middle East. But there should be no doubt that it is closer to home where the disease has taken hold.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Pope was right

George Weigel wrote in LAT In a brilliant lecture at the University of Regensburg last week, Pope Benedict XVI made three crucial points that are now in danger of being lost in the polemics about his supposedly offensive comments about Islam.

The pope's first point was that all the great questions of life, including social and political questions, are ultimately theological. How we think (or don't think) about God has much to do with how we judge what is good and what is wicked, and with how we think about the appropriate methods for advancing the truth in a world in which there are profound disagreements about the truth of things. If, for example, we imagine that God is pure will, a remote majesty with whom our only possible relationship is one of unthinking submission, then we have imagined a God who can even command what seems to be irrational — like the murder of innocents.

And if that is what the nutcase Muslims envision, then why do they seek to manipulate what that God wants to benefit a few despotic leaders here on earth.
Pope Benedict reminds us, however, that mainstream Christian tradition, following its Jewish parent, has a different concept of God. The God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus
All of whom are mentioned in the Koran.
is a God of reason, compassion and love, a God who comes searching for man in history, appeals to the human mind as well as the human heart and invites human beings into a dialogue of salvation.

This God cannot demand the unreasonable or the irrational. This God's revelation of himself, in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, does not cancel out or abrogate human reason. That is why mainstream Christianity has always taught that human beings can build decent societies by attending to reason.

The pope's second point, which flows from the first, was that irrational violence aimed at innocent men, women and children "is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the [human] soul." If adherents of certain currents of thought in contemporary Islam insist that the suicide bombing of innocents is an act pleasing to God, then they must be told that they are mistaken: about God, about God's purposes and about the nature of moral obligation.
And perhaps they need to be told that Evil frequently tries to pretend to be God, and that perhaps that is what they have been fooled by.
Responsibility for challenging these distorted views of God and the distorted understanding of moral duty that flows from them rests, first, with Islamic leaders. But too few Islamic leaders, the pope seemed to suggest, have been willing to undertake a cleansing of Islam's conscience — as Pope John Paul II taught the Catholic Church to cleanse its historical conscience.
That is because they are cowards. They know that some of the despotic leaders are trying to switch their people's anger at they way they are treated into blaming the West, and they don't want that blame switched to them, for fear that violence will be done to them.
We know that, in the past, Christians used violence to advance Christian purposes. The Catholic Church has publicly repented of such distortions of the Gospel and has developed a deep theological critique of the misunderstandings that led to such episodes. Can the church, therefore, be of some help to those brave Islamic reformers who, at the risk of their own lives, are trying to develop a parallel Islamic critique of the distorted and lethal ideas of some of their co-religionists?

By quoting from a robust exchange between a medieval Byzantine emperor and a learned Islamic scholar, Benedict XVI was not making a cheap rhetorical point; he was trying to illustrate the possibility of a tough-minded but rational dialogue between Christians and Muslims. That dialogue can only take place, however, on the basis of a shared commitment to reason and a mutual rejection of irrational violence in the name of God.

The pope's third point — which has been almost entirely ignored — was directed to the West. If the West's high culture keeps playing in the sandbox of postmodern irrationalism — in which there is "your truth" and "my truth" but nothing such as "the truth" — the West will be unable to defend itself. Why? Because the West won't be able to give reasons why its commitments to civility, tolerance, human rights and the rule of law are worth defending. A Western world stripped of convictions about the truths that make Western civilization possible cannot make a useful contribution to a genuine dialogue of civilizations, for any such dialogue must be based on a shared understanding that human beings can, however imperfectly, come to know the truth of things.
Can Islam be self-critical? Can its leaders condemn and marginalize its extremists, or are Muslims condemned to be held hostage to the passions of those who consider the murder of innocents to be pleasing to God? Can the West recover its commitment to reason and thus help support Islamic reformers? These are the large questions that Pope Benedict XVI has put on the world's agenda. Men and women of reason and goodwill should be very glad that he has done so.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Muslim violence

Boston Globe reported Aa she lay dying in a Mogadishu hospital, Sister Leonella forgave her killers. She had lived in Africa for almost four decades and could speak fluent Somali, but her last words were murmured in Italian, her mother tongue. ``Perdono, perdono," she whispered. I forgive, I forgive.

God received her with honor. He has a special place prepared for those that killed her.
She was 65 and had devoted her life to the care of sick mothers and children. She was on her way to meet three other nuns for lunch on Sunday when two gunmen shot her several times in the back. ``Her slaying was not a random attack," the Associated Press reported. It ``raised concerns" that she was the latest victim of "growing Islamic radicalism in the country."
We have always seen evil in this world. We are just now seeing it more clearly.
Raised concerns? Sister Leonella was gunned down less than two days after a prominent Somali cleric had called on Muslims to kill Pope Benedict XVI for his remarks about Islam in a scholarly lecture last week.
Islam. The Religion of Peace. And they will kill you if you disagree.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

'Day of Rage': Anger Not Jihad

ABC News reported Three words suddenly have a lot of Westerners worried and, it must be said, likely making some wrong assumptions about modern Islam. "Yaum al Ghadab" is Arabic for "Day of Rage." When the Qatari Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi called for a Day of Rage this Friday in response to Pope Benedict XVI's remarks about Muslims, it might have sounded like a call for street violence.

Gee, why would it have sounded like that?
But if there is trouble Friday, and there could well be, it will not be because of language but because of what some people choose to do after they have answered the call for "Yaum al Ghadab."
Or maybe because they are not sophisticated enough to realize how they are being used.
Political manipulation of protest crowds is not a uniquely Islamic idea. It happens in the West, as well.
Rarely with as much violence.
But why do Islamic leaders use what many Westerners regard as inflammatory language? Because it is not inflammatory, at least not in the context of Islamic culture.
Then Islamic Culture is pretty warped.
"We must not try to interpret Islamic terms and cultural signals by using our Western ideas," said Fawaz Gerges, a professor in the department of international affairs and Middle Eastern studies at Sarah Lawrence College, and an ABC News consultant. Gerges pointed out that in Islamic culture "ghadab" means anger or frustration. A day of rage does not mean a day of jihad (war), added Gerges.
It means a day of intimidating the West into fearing war.
Mimi Daher, a Muslim woman working in the ABC Jerusalem bureau, explained that the Grand Multi in Jerusalem reflected this cultural mindset today when he said, "Muslims have to express their anger.
Why? Do Christians have a "Day of Rage" everytime some nutcase comes up with some offensive art?
Was the pope expecting Muslims to clap their hands to him while hurting their faith and prophet?
No but he was not expecting them to act as they did either. He was seeking to establish a dialog, a discussion, about the inconsistencies between God and violence.
Of course not. We call on Muslims throughout the world to react in a disciplined manner, according to our Islamic faith."

"Disciplined manner" is a repeated theme among Islamic moderate leaders who encourage people to protest. As Gerges reminded me, when the cleric al-Qaradawi called for a day of rage, he stressed repeatedly that it should be civilized, urging Muslims to behave with civility and dignity.
Do they know how?
"We must show the world that we are still civilized even when we are aggrieved," he said.
You failed.


Pope asked to convert to Islam

news24 reported The elder son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has called on Pope Benedict XVI to convert to Islam immediately, dismissing last week's apology from the pontiff for offending Muslims.

That is about as likely as Osama accepting Christ as his personal saviour.
"If this person were really someone reasonable, he would not agree to remain at his post one minute, but would convert to Islam immediately," Mohammed Gaddafi told an awards ceremony on Monday evening for an international competition to memorise the Qur'an.
Why on earth would he do something that stupid. He is the head of a major church which truly is a Religion of Peace; why would he want to embrace a faith with no central religious authority, and where people politically try to stir up trouble in the streets to get themselves more power.
"We say to the pope - whether you apologise or not is irrelevant, as apologies make no difference to us."
Then why ask for them? Is Islam so weak that it can be insulted by a cartoon or a 700 year old quotation.
Gaddafi junior also hit out at "those Muslims who look for comfort in the words of a non-Muslim". He said Muslims "should not look for charity from the infidel... but should fight Islam's enemies who attack the faith and the Prophet Muhammad".
Actually they should let the Prophet worry about defending himself, and they should battle the internal struggle that has them so fearful that someone will insult their faith that they respond violently to a question about whether they really are a Religion of Peace


May Pose Risk

WaPo reported McCain's Stand On Detainees May Pose Risk For 2008 Bid

May???   May???   May???   There is no may about it. McCain has completely destroyed any chance he ever had of getting the nomination.


Surge in Anti-Muslim Incidents Reported

- WaPo reported A national Muslim advocacy organization yesterday blamed a "negative and politically charged" environment on the Internet and talk radio for the 30 percent jump in anti-Muslim incidents reported to the group last year.

And why was that negative discussion happening. Could it be because of rioting and calls for the Pope to be killed, and could the murder of an innocent nun have had anything to do with it?
The Council on American-Islamic Relations received 1,972 complaints of harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment in 2005, up from 1,522 in 2004, according to an annual report released yesterday.


Monday, September 18, 2006

You've said sorry, Holy Father - now demand a price

Times Online reported The Pope should have been aware that Islam always reacts to western allegations that it is not a peaceful religion by mass outbreaks of vituperation, denunciation and acts of jihadic violence. That this is a paradox seems not to be even remotely recognised by many Muslims.

I suspect the intelligent ones do, they just don't know how to point out its foolishness without inviting jihad on themselves.
Commenting on the Pope’s speech, Tasnim Aslam, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani foreign ministry, came out with this little piece of doublethink beauty: “Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence.” ... A subtle and astute politician, perhaps Benedict should apologise for having caused offence — and then demand by way of reciprocation that Turkey — Islam’s democratic representative in the West — return to Christian denominations the land it has confiscated from them, allow the Christian churches to open seminaries (which they are barred from doing), make it easier to build new churches, and lock up Turks who terrorise priests. And maybe allow Turks to convert from Islam to Christianity without fear of official or unofficial reprisal. A fair exchange?
That sounds like a good idea. It will never happen, but it it is a good idea.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Defending Lebanon

Yahoo! News reported A top Hezbollah leader said the Shiite group would have no problems with UN peacekeepers as long as they limit their work to defending Lebanon against Israel and do not pursue other agendas.

Such as defending Israel from attacks by Hezbollah, should Iran decide it needs another war.
"UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon) is here to protect the Lebanese and Lebanon's sovereignty, and we want its mandate limited to that," in which case there "will be no problems," Nabil Qaouk, the group's chief in the south, told AFP Saturday.

"We want the new UNIFIL to do its work in conformity with" UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which led to an August 14 truce in the war between Israel and Hezbollah.
And which calls for Hezbollah to be disarmed.
"Israel is seeking to have this force play a new role, in other words, to place it under its control," Qaouk said. "We hope that Europe and the French will not be under American control and will be the closest friends of the Lebanese and the Arab world."
The cowardly French sell their friendship to whoever can pay the most. How much is Lebanon offerring? How much is Hezbollah offerring?
More than 7,000 troops from EU countries will make up the backbone of an expanded UNIFIL presence in Lebanon, which is expected to total 15,000. Under Resolution 1701, they are deploying in south Lebanon, along with an equal number of Lebanese troops, as Israel progressively withdraws from the country.

Qaouk was speaking two days after the French commander of UNIFIL indicated his men would act to take weapons away from Hezbollah if the Lebanese army failed to do so.
Good for him.
Resolution 1701 calls for establishing "an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL" between the Israeli border and the Litani River. It stipulates that UNIFIL should "assist the Lebanese armed forces" in achieving that. Pellegrini said that, "if the (Lebanese army) fails to act, we must assume our responsibilities as a UN force. Someone will have to intervene, with all the consequences that this might have for the Lebanese authorities." Hezbollah has resolutely refused to turn over its arms, saying it will keep them until Israel ends its occupation of the country.
And anyone that thinks they will then disarm is an idiot.


Rioters' madness shames Muslim world

Father Raymond J. de Souza wrote in National Post The eruption of rage in some quarters of the Islamic world against Pope Benedict XVI requires that several tough things be said. Painful though it may be, speaking frankly is necessary if there is to be honest and open dialogue between the Abrahamic faiths. Given the reaction to Benedict's address, though, one wonders if that dialogue is even possible.

It could take place with True Muslims only after they find a way to purge their faith of these firebrand clerics that stir up violence for political purposes, and who hijack the faith of Islam.
The Pope devoted almost 4,000 words to examining the relationship between faith and reason, and the prospect for dialogue between modernity and the world of religion. In the course of that address he quoted a dialogue recorded between the Byzantine (Christian) Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an erudite Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam. The dialogue took place during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402. During their conversation, the Pope said, the Emperor "turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.' "
Or perhaps it is just another example of faith being used to try to achieve secular, political objectives.
Benedict was quoting a 14th-century Christian emperor, under siege from the Ottomans, defending the position that spreading religion by violence is contrary to the nature of God. The Emperor, quite reasonably given his circumstances, suggested to his Persian interlocutor such a view did not prevail in Islamic thought. In response to this historical excursus in an academic lecture by one of the world's most erudite theologians, we are witnessing a wave of madness and malice, no doubt an embarrassment to millions of Muslims.

Roman Catholics are likely angry. Relations between adherents of the two religions simply cannot develop without all conducting themselves as mature adults. It does a disservice to children to call the wild-eyed statements and deranged behaviour of the past days childish.
That is a very good point.
It is not only the obscenity of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist terrorist band suppressed in several Muslim states, demanding an apology from anyone, let alone the Holy Father. It is not only the grandstanding Pakistani politicians passing resolutions condemning a papal speech few read, and even fewer understood. It is not only the extraneous charges about the Holocaust and Hitler by the agitated and excited. It is that we have seen this before.
The Cartoon Wars were one such place.
When Pope John Paul II made his epic pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Palestinian Muslim representatives jostled him on the Temple Mount, shouted at him, and, in one episode of maximum rudeness, abandoned him on stage during an interfaith meeting. Bashir Assad, the Syrian President, treated him to an anti-Semitic rant when the late pope visited Syria.
That just shows that some Muslams can be idiots; it does not show that Islam itself leads to idiotic behaviour.
Catholic goodwill toward global Islam is severely attenuated by such continued maltreatment of our universal pastors. And it is well past time that the maltreatment of history ceased too. The irony of the accusations that Pope Benedict has a "Crusader mentality" is that he was speaking about the period in which the Crusades themselves took place.
Most, if not all, of which, involved a Pope. The loudmouths complaining about the Pope's words should give thought to whether they would like to see additioinal Crusades.