“Western students of the Arab world have repeatedly remarked on the violent hate that Arabs feel for the West. Wilfred Cantell Smith wrote in the mid-1950′s: ‘Most Westerners have simply no inkling of how deep and fierce is the hate, especially of the West, that has gripped the modernizing Arab.’ A few years later, Bernard Lewis made an almost identical observation in speaking of ‘the mood and wish that united many if not most Arabs’ in 1955: it was, he found, that of ‘revulsion from the West, and the wish to spite and humiliate it,’ to which ‘dramatic and satisfying expression’ was given by ‘Nasir’s [President Nasser] Russian arms deal in Sept. 1955.’ ‘In the twilight world of popular myths and images, the West is the source of all evil–and the West is a single whole….’All this, Lewis concludes, has not only created ‘real problems, through the economic, social and political dislocations to which it gave rise,’ but has engendered ‘a cultural inferiority complex.’”
Sunni Muslim clerics gathered at an anti-Russia protest in front of the Russian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, on Wednesday. CreditNabil Mounzer/European Pressphoto Agency
Events over the last few weeks have raised fears of an accelerating confrontation between the region’s Shiite and Sunni Muslims, with Saudi Arabia and Iran escalating their power struggle, extremists attacking Shiite mosques in the Persian Gulf and armed conflict aggravating religious differences in Iraq, Syria and now Yemen.
But as the violence flares and crosses borders, national and religious leaders seem as eager as ever to stoke the fires, mobilizing followers using implicit or naked sectarian appeals that are transforming political conflicts into religious struggles and making the bloodshed in the region harder to contain, scholars and analysts say.
…Troubling another fault line, Russia’s decision to intervene in Syria alongside the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia, brought calls for retaliation from hard-line Saudi clerics known as Salafis, but also mainstream Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which referred to Mr. Assad as a “treacherous Alawite criminal.”
The Saudi clerics, denigrating their longtime adversaries, including Shiite Muslims and Alawites, who practice an offshoot of Shiite Islam, also took aim at the “Orthodox crusader Russia,” which they said was picking up where the Soviet force driven from Afghanistan by Muslims more than a generation ago had left off.
Istanbul — Earlier this month, on the Muslim holy day of Friday, a horrible accident took place in Mecca near Islam’s holiest site — the Kaaba. A huge crane fell on the mosque that encircles the cube-shaped shrine, killing 118 pilgrims and injuring almost 400. This tragedy was the deadliest crane collapse in modern history, and thus it begged for an investigation. Yet, in a highly religious country, the technicians that operated the crane, the Saudi Binladen Group, had an easy way out. One of them spoke to the press and simply said: “What happened was beyond the power of humans. It was an act of God.”
To their credit, the Saudi authorities did not buy this argument. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud immediately suspended the company from work, ordered an investigation, and offered compensation for the families of victims. The investigators soon concluded that the company was responsible for the accident, because it did not “respect the rules of safety” and violated the manufacturers’ operating instructions.
While this factual investigation is a step forward, we must still ask why the technicians publicly absolved themselves of responsibility, and probably in their own minds as well, by evoking “fate.”
This is not the first time that this metaphysical excuse has come up in such circumstances. Worse accidents have happened near the Kaaba before, during the overcrowded season of pilgrimage, the Hajj, and the blame was reflexively placed on the divine. In 1990, 1,426 pilgrims died in a stampede caused mainly by a lack of ventilation. Nonetheless, the king at the time, Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, then argued: “It was God’s will, which is above everything.” “It was fate,” he added.
This isn’t just a Saudi problem; it is a global Muslim problem. Fatalism is constantly used as an excuse for human neglect and errors. Even in Turkey, which is much more modern and secular than Saudi Arabia, “fate” has frequently been invoked by various officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as an explanation for colossal accidents on railroads, in coal mines and on construction sites.
In almost every case, however, closer scrutiny has revealed the cause to be Turkey’s poor work safety standards and the government’s sluggishness in improving them. Only in February 2015, after hundreds of tragic accidents that killed more than 13,000 workers in 12 years, did Turkey become a party to the International Labor Organization’s conventions on work safety, which were drawn up more than two decades ago and adopted long ago by many other nations.
Accidents, of course, happen everywhere. Yet in the Muslim world, fatalism often serves as a cover for inadequate safety measures or greedy bosses unwilling to pay for them. That is why Turkey’s top cleric, Mehmet Gormez, an erudite theologian, felt the need to warn fellow Turks that “Producing excuses about ‘divine power’ for human guilt and responsibility is wrong,” after a Dickensian mine fire killed 301 workers in 2014. “The laws of nature are the laws of God. God has given us the ability to understand these laws and asked from us to act accordingly,” Mr. Gormez declared. “What is suitable for God’s will is to take the necessary precautions against the physical causes for disasters.”
This important statement was unmistakably grounded in certain medieval Islamic schools of thought, such as the Maturidis and the Mutazilites, who believed human beings possessed free will and could be “the creator of their own deeds.” They also believed that humans could use reason to interpret scripture and establish moral truths.
But such rationalist Muslim schools had powerful rivals, such as the Asharites and the even more rigid Hanbalis, the precursors of today’s Salafis. These dogmatists played down human free will by emphasizing God’s predestination, and discredited human reason. They also denied the existence of natural laws, assuming that causality is an infringement on God’s omnipotence.
Today most Muslims have little knowledge about these old debates, but they live within cultural codes largely defined by the dogmatists, who gained the upper hand in the war of ideas in early Islam. In these codes, human free will is easily sacrificed to fatalism, science and reason are trivialized, and philosophy is frowned upon.
Consequently, “God’s will” becomes an easy cover for intellectual laziness, lack of planning, and irresponsibility. Muslims in positions of power often refer to “fate” to explain away their failures, while never hesitating to take pride in their successes.
Colossal accidents in Mecca and elsewhere must be taken as alarm signals for Muslims to purge our societies of this problematic mentality and seek the great intellectual revival we need. Using oil money to import Western (or Far Eastern) technology is not a solution. What matters is gaining the skills to use that technology proficiently, with all the necessary precautions — and maybe one day inventing such technology ourselves.
Ironically, there was once a time when Muslims were the greatest inventors in the world, with towering mathematicians such as Al Khwarizmi (from whose name comes the term “algorithm”), physicians such as Avicenna (the father of modern medicine), or philosophers such as Averroes (who introduced Europe to Aristotle and rational theology). Taking pride in them today, as we sometimes do, is a start.
But the real question is why these thinkers’ ideas have had a greater impact on Western culture than on Islamic thought? And why have they been marginalized or branded heretical in the lands where they originated? Our past heresies could be exactly what we need to open our minds today.
Why Islam Creates Monsters
The cultural and psychological cocktail of anger, low self-esteem, victim mentality, a willingness to be blindly guided by outer authorities, and an aggressive and discriminatory view toward non-Muslims, forced upon Muslims through pain, intimidation and mind-numbing repetitions of the Quran’s almost countless verses promoting hate and violence against non-Muslims, is the reason why Islam creates monsters.
The Psychological Problem within Islam
The problem with Islam and Muslim culture is that there are so many psychological factors pushing its followers towards a violent attitude against non-Muslims that a general violent clash is — at least from a psychological perspective — inevitable. With such strong pressure and such strong emotions within such a large group of people — all pitched against us — we are facing the perfect storm, and I see no possibilities of turning it around. For people to change, they have to want it, to be allowed to change, and to be able to change — and only a tiny minority of Muslims have such lucky conditions.
Far too many people underestimate the power of psychology embedded in religion and culture. As we have already seen, no army of social workers, generous welfare states, sweet-talking politicians, politically correct journalists or democracy-promoting soldiers can stop these enormous forces. Sensible laws on immigration and Islamization in our own countries can limit the amount of suffering, but based on my education and professional experience as a psychologist for Muslims, I estimate that we will not be able to deflect or avoid this many-sided, aggressive movement against our culture.
I do believe that we, as a democratic and educated society can become focused and organized concerning the preservation of our values and constitutions, can win this ongoing conflict started by the often inbred followers of Sharia. The big question is how much of our dignity, our civil rights, and our blood, money and tears will we lose in the process.
In Mecca I saw little of Islam’s compassion, but a lot of Saudi Arabia’s neglect
Sabreena Razaq Hussain
No regrets, no remorse: Isis mastermind who sent out 15 suicide bombers
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Abu Abdullah, the Isis suicide-bombing commander known as ‘the planner’, in his Baghdad prison cell Photograph: Sam Tarling for the Guardian
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An Intifada of Arab Disappointment – with Themselves
The “Palestinians” are furious at their own inner reality, one that makes a viable state impossible.
Published: Thursday, November 13, 2014 12:12 AM
One of the most important characteristics of a nation is a strong feeling of unity that allows its people to achieve the goals that it deems important. A people with a strong and unified national identity is able to put aside personal, political, ideological and sectorial differences so that its citizens can work together to succeed in reaching a goal that is important and significant to all of them.
Real leaders sense the people’s will to unite for the sake of a national cause and can overcome the differences between them; if they do not, they will be replaced by others who are better than they, who know what the priorities are when there is a crucial national objective at stake. A people with a strong feeling of unity can handle a democratic country that does not fear differences of opinion and changes in government, because these do not degenerate into violence and therefore do not endanger its existence.
In contrast, a nation with a weak and fragile identity has chronic disputes that spill over into rhetorical violence and violent acts between its different sectors, with very little cooperation occurring between them. Different sectors feel threatened by each other leading to serious distrust. The nation’ssymbols are not strong enough to unite its population groups, each of which has goals differing from the other. This kind of nation will invent an external enemy in the hope that the war against it will unify the people for the sake of a higher interest, a war. This kind of nation raises the question of whether its citizens have enough of a feeling of commonality to keep them together and allow them to form a nation-state.
The Palestinian street has been demanding unity between Hamas and Fatah for a long time now, because everyone realizes that the split between the two organizations lets Israel claim that there is “no partner for peace.” This limits the ability of the Palestinians to be effective ih the PA, the Middle East and the international arena. That is the reason the two sign agreements every so often, and why the PA has developed a unity government of technocrats, not politicians, who are approved by both organizations – meaning,naturally, that no one is pleased. And despite the “unity” government, Hamas rules Gaza and comes down heavy on Fatah members in Gaza.
On Friday, November 7, bombs exploded in the doorways and vehicles of ten Fatah leaders in Gaza, and another explosion destroyed the stage that Fatah had prepared for the Arafat memorial ceremony that was planned for the tenth anniversary of his death on November 11. Fatah blames Hamas for the bombings, especially since they all took place at the same time and there is no other group in Gaza that can coordinate the timing of eleven bombings. As a result of the bombings and the bad blood between the two organizations, the memorial event was cancelled. The official reason given was that “Hamas refused to guarantee the safety of participants”, in other words: Hamas threatened to harm the participants, just as they did the stage. And that means that even Arafat is not a national symbol that can hold the two groups under one roof in his memory
Hamas’ real objective is the establishment of an Islamic state with the law of the land being Sharia law that favors Muslims, while Fatah wants something entirely different, a nation-state where Muslims and Christians have equal rights and status. There is no way to bridge these two diametrically opposed goals, it is the reason the battle between Fatah and Hamas, that began as soon as Hamas was formed in December 1987, is still going strong and with no end in sight.
Fatah’s problem is that Hamas joined the political game and won most of the legislative seats in the January 2006 election. The PLO fears another election victory for Hamas and that is why there are no elections in sight. That is the real reason that since 2005, when Abbas was elected, about 10 years ago, there have been no elections for the legislature. When a nation lacks national cohesiion, it fears democratic processes and changes in government.
The Palestinian narrative talks about a Palestinian nation in Israel, Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan and about refugees in Syria and Lebanon. If there were a Palestinian nation we would have seen evidence of solidarity between its parts. But did we see the Palestinians residing in Judea and Samaria go out to protest in a grass roots uprising when the IDF attacked Gaza in Operation Protective Edge a few months ago? No,we did not. Did the Israeli Arabs, who call themselves Palestinians, rebel against the state of Israel because of its treatment of the Gazans and the Arabs of Judea and Samaria? No, they did not. Did we see masses of Arabs in Judea and Samaria rushing to Syria to save their people from the Assad government’s plans to destroy them? Maybe a few. Did the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria offer to absorb their “brothers” who fled or were expelled from Israel during the 1948 War of Independence? Not at a;;. They kept them in refugee camps, without running water, sewage systems, electricity, communications – for years. Is that how one treats one’s brothers?
Why do the “Palestinians” who live in Judea and Samaria view the “Palestinians” living in Gaza as members of another culture? Why don’t the young women of Hevron marry young men from Shchem (Nablus)? Why do the “Palestinian” citizens of Israel treat the “West Bank Palestinians” who work for them like foreign workers, taking shameful advantage of them? Why does the municipality of Tira – a “Palestinian” village near Kfar Saba – forbid Kalkilya’s “Palestinians” use of its localswimming pool? Is it because they are “one people”?
The answer to all these questions is the same: the “Palestinians” are just a bunch of tribes, clans (hamulot) and extended families headed by notables, who never blended and never created a people with a common national consciousness. Some have lived in the land of Israel for generations, but some are recent arrivals. Just for the sake of proving this point: there were two terror attacks in recent weeks in which drivers purposely targeted Israeli civilians. One terrorist was an Arab whose name is Higazi, meaning Saudi, and one was named al-Akri, meaning from northern Lebanon.
Similarly, the “Palestinians” include many families whose names bear witness to the fact that their origins are not in “Palestine”, with the letter “i” at the end of a surname meaning “from” in Arabic. Thus, al-Masri and al-Fiumi – mean Egyptian; Halabi – means Syrian; the names Trabolsi, Sidani, Tyrani (from the cities of Sidon and Tyre) all mean that they are from Lebanon; Zarkawi, Kraki – from Jordan. The residents of the village of Jisr al-Azarka to the south of Haifa are Sudanese, and the Bushnak family of Kafar Manda are from Bosnia. One of Mahmoud Abbas’ advisers is named Damiri, meaning that he comes from the Syrian village of Damir.
The sectoral schisms typifying the “Palestinians” are not any different from those existing in most Arab countries – Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen,Algeria and others.This is the real and deeply rooted reason for the terrible crises these countries have suffered over the last four years, where inter-group rivalries turned into such horrible violence that hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have already lost their lives. The cycles of violence that took place in Gaza before Hamas took over in 2007 also stemmed from these schisms: the PLO in Gaza was a coalition of families that opposed another coalition calling itself Hamas. There is no escaping the conclusion that the “Palestinians” ability to form a functioning state based on common “nationhood” with a solid national identity is the same as that of the Syrians, Iraqis, Libyans, Sudanese and Yemenites.
The only thing uniting the “Palestinians” is their virulent hatred of Israel and their animosity towards the Zionist entity. This is the real reason they cannot stop incitement against Israel and the Jewish people, and for the fact that they cannot bring themselves to put Israel on the maps appearing in their school textbooks. Without hatred of Israel and incitement against the Jewish state, there is no glue holding them together. This is also the reason there are no peace organizations among the “Palestinians”, because peace with Israel means disintegration for them.
Now they are bursting into the streets, stabbing, running over people, shooting, attacking for several reasons, some of them immediate and some running deep: the immediate ones result from the murder of the youngster Abu Khdeir and the deeper ones from their refusal to view the Jews as a nation in its own land, and the jealousy that consumes them at the sight of the Jews building a nation that is to a great extent united, a democratic state with peaceful government changes, one that wins every war. Jealousy breeds hatred and what we are seeing now is the result of their long term failure to establish a “Palestinian nation” with a feeling of togetherness, with any chance of running an organized and stable state.
It is clear to everyone that a Palestinian state formed by the PLO will turn into a Hamas state in record time as soon as there are elections. That is what happened in January 2006. On the other hand, there can also be a violent takeover, as occurred in Gaza in June 2007. Their frustration breaks out into the street in fury at their own reality. The PA tries to deflect the anger towards Israel in order to win supporters in the rivalry with Hamas, and Hamas deflects the public’s anger towards the Zionist entity so as to gain points in its struggle against the PLO.
That is why the only operative solution, the only one that can be implemented on the ground, is one based on Arab
sociology, one that creates eight Palestinian emirates: in Gaza, Shchem, Jenin, Tulkarem, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Jerico and Arab Hevron. Details at http://www.palestinianemirates.com.
The Weak Foundations of Arab Democracy
…Democracy requires checks and balances, and it is largely through civil society that citizens protect their rights as individuals, force policy makers to accommodate their interests, and limit abuses of state authority. Civil society also promotes a culture of bargaining and gives future leaders the skills to articulate ideas, form coalitions and govern.
The preconditions for democracy are lacking in the Arab world partly because Hosni Mubarak and other Arab dictators spent the past half-century emasculating the news media, suppressing intellectual inquiry, restricting artistic expression, banning political parties, and co-opting regional, ethnic and religious organizations to silence dissenting voices.
But the handicaps of Arab civil society also have historical causes that transcend the policies of modern rulers. Until the establishment of colonial regimes in the late 19th century, Arab societies were ruled under Shariah law, which essentially precludes autonomous and self-governing private organizations. Thus, while Western Europe was making its tortuous transition from arbitrary rule by monarchs to democratic rule of law, the Middle East retained authoritarian political structures. Such a political environment prevented democratic institutions from taking root and ultimately facilitated the rise of modern Arab dictatorships.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, spoke of his vision for a state in which “we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play.” Sadly, his dream was never realized. Pakistan remains a place where freedom and social justice are as unattainable for the masses as basic needs like food, clean water and education.
Moderate Islam? Look to Central Asia
Palestinian university students’ trip to Auschwitz causes uproar
JERUSALEM — Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian college students to visit the former Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp in Poland a few weeks ago as part of a project designed to teach empathy and tolerance. Upon his return, his university disowned the trip, his fellow Palestinians branded him a traitor and friends advised a quick vacation abroad.
…One reader said that taking Palestinian students to Auschwitz, a former camp run by the Nazis when Germany occupied Poland, was not freedom of expression but treason.
Other critics of the trip included newspaper columnists, TV analysts and fellow researchers in the West Bank.
While the Palestinian students were visiting Auschwitz, a parallel group of Jewish Israeli students from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Tel Aviv University ventured to Bethlehem to hear Palestinians from the Dheisheh refugee camp tell their story. The responses of both groups of students — Israelis and Palestinians — would then be analyzed.
The evil empire of Saudi Arabia is the West’s real enemy
Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain: planners to financiers, cadres to foot soldiers, ideologists to cheerleaders
Sunday 27 September 2015 20:36 BST
Iran is seriously mistrusted by Israel and America. North Korea protects its nuclear secrets and is ruled by an erratic, vicious man. Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions alarm democratic nations. The newest peril, Isis, the wild child of Islamists, has shocked the whole world. But top of this list should be Saudi Arabia – degenerate, malignant, pitiless, powerful and as dangerous as any of those listed above.
The state systematically transmits its sick form of Islam across the globe, instigates and funds hatreds, while crushing human freedoms and aspiration. But the West genuflects to its rulers. Last week Saudi Arabia was appointed chair of the UN Human Rights Council, a choice welcomed by Washington. Mark Toner, a spokesperson for the State Department, said: “We talk about human rights concerns with them. As to this leadership role, we hope that it is an occasion for them to look into human rights around the world and also within their own borders.”
The jaw simply drops. Saudi Arabia executes one person every two days. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is soon to be beheaded then crucified for taking part in pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring. He was a teenager then. Raif Badawi, a blogger who dared to call for democracy, was sentenced to 10 years and 1,000 lashes. Last week, 769 faithful Muslim believers were killed in Mecca [death toll at least 2,110] where they had gone on the Hajj. Initially, the rulers said it was “God’s will” and then they blamed the dead. Mecca was once a place of simplicity and spirituality. Today the avaricious Saudis have bulldozed historical sites and turned it into the Las Vegas of Islam – with hotels, skyscrapers and malls to spend, spend, spend. The poor can no longer afford to go there. Numbers should be controlled to ensure safety – but that would be ruinous for profits. Ziauddin Sardar’s poignant book Mecca: The Sacred City, describes the desecration of Islam’s holiest site.
Even more seriously, the pernicious Saudi influence is spreading fast and freely. King Salman has offered to build 200 mosques in Germany for recently arrived refugees, many of whom are Muslims. He offered no money for resettlement or basic needs, but Wahhabi mosques, the Trojan horses of the secret Saudi crusade. Several Islamic schools are also sites of Wahhabism, now a global brand. It makes hearts and minds small and suspicious, turns Muslim against Muslim, and undermines modernists.
The late Laurent Murawiec, a French neocon, wrote this in 2002: “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadres to foot soldiers, from ideologists to cheerleaders.” Murawiec’s politics were odious, but his observations were spot on. Remember that most of the 9/11 killers were Saudi; so was the al-Qaeda hierarchy.
In the 14 years that have followed 9/11, the Saudis have become more aggressive, more determined to win the culture wars. They pour money into Islamist organisations and operations, promote punishing doctrines that subjugate women and children, and damn liberal values and democracy. They are pursuing a cruel bombing campaign in Yemen that has left thousands of civilians dead and many more in dire straits.
So, what does our ruling establishment do to stop the invisible hand of this Satan? Zilch. The Royal Family, successive governments, parliamentarians, a good number of institutions and people with clout collectively suck up to the Saudi ruling clan. I have not seen any incisive TV investigation of this regime. We know it is up to no good, but evidence is suppressed. Some writers have tried to break this conspiracy of obsequiousness. Craig Unger’s book, House of Bush, House of Saud was published in 2004. It established beyond reasonable doubt that Saudi Arabia was the nerve-centre of international terrorism. And that the Bush family was unduly close to the regime. Many of us believed the revelations were even more explosive than those by the journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who exposed the lies told by Richard Nixon.
This deadly enemy will not be cowed or stopped by Trident. Our leaders know what is going on. So what do they do? They pick on the small people. The Government’s Prevent programme now imposes a duty on educators to watch out for young “radicals” and nip them in the bud. Older dissenters, too. To date, 4,000 young Muslims have been referred for reprogramming. One was three years old. In May, a young Muslim schoolboy talked about “eco-terrorists” and was taken away to be interrogated about whether he supported Isis. Academics, lawyers, doctors and nurses are also expected to become the nation’s spies. Mohammed Umar Farooq, a student at Staffordshire University, was accused last week of being a terrorist because he was reading a book entitled Terrorism Studies in the library.
In the US, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested because he took a home-made clock to school. (Richard Dawkins, these days a manic tweet preacher, questioned whether the clock was part of a “hoax” designed to get Mohamed arrested, before backtracking.) The West, it seems, is free only for some. And to be a Muslim is a crime.
Extremism is a serious problem. Westernised, liberal Muslims do try to influence feverish, hostile young Muslim minds, but we are largely powerless. Our leaders will not confront Saudi Arabia, the source of Islamist brainwashing and infection. They won’t because of oil and the profits made by arms sales. Political cowards and immoral profiteers are the traitors, the real threat to national security, patriotism and cohesion. How do they answer the charge?