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April 19, 2007

Religion of Peace Alert: Turkey Detains Five More In Attack On Christian Publishing House

Everything%20I%20need%20to%20know.htmPolice in Turkey have detained five more followers of the religion of peace and tolerance in connection with an attack on a Christian publishing house Wednesday that killed three employees. The three victims - a German and two Turkish citizens - were found with their hands and legs bound and their throats slit at the publishing house:

[...] One group of suspects detained in the slayings Wednesday told investigators they carried out the killings to protect Islam, a Turkish newspaper reported.

The attack added to concerns in Europe about whether this predominantly Muslim country -- which is bidding for EU membership -- can protect its religious minorities. It also underlined concerns about rising Turkish nationalism and hostility toward non-Muslims.

"We didn't do this for ourselves, but for our religion," Hurriyet newspaper quoted a suspect as saying. "Our religion is being destroyed. Let this be a lesson to enemies of our religion."

[...] It was the latest in a string of attacks on Turkey's Christian community -- which comprises less than 1 percent of the 70-million population.

In February 2006, a Turkish teenager shot a Catholic priest dead as he prayed in his church, and two other Catholic priests were attacked later that year. A November visit by
Pope Benedict XVI was greeted by several peaceful protests. Earlier this year, a suspected nationalist killed Armenian Christian editor Hrant Dink.

Authorities had vowed to deal with extremist attacks after Dink's murder, but Wednesday's assault showed the violence was not slowing down.

More here.

Reports like this one always serve to reinforce Samuel Huntington's famous thesis of a "clash of civilizations." As Dinesh D'Souza put it at Townhall.com back on April 2, "it seems that fanatical Muslims around the world are hell-bent on corroborating the worst accusations against their religion. We seem to be witnessing a virtually unbridgeable abyss between Western principles and Islamic principles. We believe in free speech, and they don't. We believe in reason and pluralism, and they believe in violence. From the Danish cartoon controversy to the reaction to the Pope's Regensburg address, we seem to be witnessing a virtually unbridgeable abyss between Western principles and Islamic principles. We believe in free speech, and they don't. We believe in reason and pluralism, and they believe in violence."

While I consider D'Souza to be an apologist for Islam and prone to blame the West, and particularly America, for problems within Islam itself and its need for serious reform to bring it into the modern world, he does offer some insight into what to do about the problem of violent Islam (my comments are emphasized and bold):

This way of portraying the Muslim world, however, suffers from two serious flaws. First, it is tactically foolish. This becomes obvious when we recognize that there is a second clash of civilizations, and it is within the Muslim world. The Muslim world is divided between traditional Muslims and radical Muslims. The traditional Muslims are the majority, but the radical Muslims are an influential minority and their numbers are growing. For the past few decades the radical Muslims have been actively recruiting members from the traditional Muslim population. In some parts of the Muslim world, we have seen the Islamic radicals grow so strong that they are in a position to win elections. (edit: if traditional Muslims are the majority - how is it that radical Muslims when elections???)

What this means is that no victory is possible in the war against terrorism without stopping the growth of radical Islam. No strategy can work that fails to stem the tide of conversions from traditional Islam to radical Islam. No matter how many Islamic radicals we kill, the strength of radical Islam is undiminished if it is capable of replenishing its numbers with traditional Muslim recruits. Consequently America should make it a central element of its strategy to drive a wedge between traditional Islam and radical Islam. If we can find common ground with traditional Muslims, we can deter them from flocking to the radical camp. (edit: something that actually makes sense)

Attacks on the Muslim religion as violent, or attacks on the Prophet Muhammad as a forerunner of Islamic terrorism, are counterproductive because they have the predictable effect of unifying traditional Muslims and radical Muslims. How can traditional Muslims be expected to show any sympathy toward assaults on their most sacred beliefs and the founder of their way of life? Even if true, such accusations should not be made publicly because their effect is likely to strengthen the worst elements in Islam and make terrorism worse. (edit: for starters, they can recognize the problems within Islam as a religion, and work to reform it)

But is the claim that Islam is inherently violent true? Is Islam, in fact, a religion of the sword that cannot be integrated into a modern world that values reason, tolerance, and pluralism? (edit: some will argue that this is indeed the case) While Christianity began in defeat (edit: defeat? Christians might have a thing or two to say about this), with a Christ on the cross and the early Christians hounded and persecuted, Islam began in victory and conquest. Historically, there is no doubt that the Islamic empire was established by the sword- but so was later Christendom. If I may use the Pope's language, however, this should not be considered a mortal sin. Rome was founded by conquest, as was America. The state of Israel too, to take a more recent example, was founded by the sword (edit: Well, he does have a point here).

Islam's origins do not justify the conclusion that it is a religion that makes no provision for tolerance or pluralism. Islam has, from the beginning, made a distinction between conquering land and bringing it under the rule of Islamic law--this is allowed--and forcibly converting people to Islam--this is not allowed. The Koran itself insists that "there is no compulsion in religion." I realize that many people bandy about quotations from the Koran about "slaying the infidels" and so on, but these quotations generally apply only to pagans, not to Jews and Christians. As monotheists, Jews and Christians were allowed to practice their religion in every Islamic empire, from the Abbasid dynasty to the Mongol empire to the Ottomans. (edit: clearly, the apologist comes out here, D'Souza is spinning)

When the Muslims ruled northern India for centuries, they could easily have forced all the Hindus to convert on pain of death, but they didn't. India remains overwhelmingly Hindu, a tribute to Islamic and later British tolerance. In the medieval period, Islamic tolerance contrasts favorably with Christian intolerance. In the fifteenth century, Jews were attending synagogues in Muslim regimes while Christian rulers in Spain gave them three choices: leave the country, convert to Christianity, or be killed! Many Jews fled to Muslim countries where they could continue to practice Judaism. The Pope made no mention of these facts in his Regensburg speech.

Let us remember that Islam has been around since the eighth century, while Islamic terrorism is a phenomenon of the past 25 years. Consequently it is wrong to blame Muhammad, the Koran, or the Muslim religion for something that is clearly a recent phenomenon. The real question to ask is, what is it about Islam today that makes it an incubator of fanaticism and terrorism? Why is it that now, as never before, so many people are willing to kill and be killed in the name of Allah? These are questions I address in my recent book The Enemy At Home.

The Pope seems to have realized his mistake. He hasn't taken back his words, but he has changed his tune (edit: Saying that religion must include reason is a mistake? Recognizing the violence and mayhem caused by Islamists is a mistake? And he has done nothing new that he already had been doing, as well as the pope before him!). He has subsequently met with prominent Muslim leaders in Turkey and emphasized the common ground between Christianity and Islam. He has called for mutual respect and better understanding between the two religions. Unfortunately there are many people, both on the left and the right, who continue to blame Islam for the sins of Islamic radicalism. These people are not only mistaken, they are strengthening the cause of Bin Laden and his allies and making the war on terrorism harder for us to win.

That readers will recognize that I am not alone in my criticism of Dinesh D'Souza and that he has become an apologist for Islam, here are videos of a debate between Robert Spencer and D'Souza. As Atlas Shrugs put it, "a once reasonable mind on the battle with Radical Islam (particualrly after 9/11) he has become dogmatic and almost sophomoric in his "argument" (of which there is little) to the facts about Islam. And as if that wasn;t enough, he has taken to throwing the Jews under the bus as well. (In the debate) Dinesh did not debate, rather he resorted to sloganeering and barb throwing."




Also from Atlas Shrugs:

Robert answers Dinesh's absurdities here; You've got to read it all

D'Souza: Spencer "essentially agrees with Bin Laden"

Dinesh D'Souza has blogged here, in "Letting Bin Laden Define Islam," about our debate yesterday. I am still at CPAC and don't have much time to give a full answer, but since he repeats some familiar canards about me and my books, which I still think he shows no signs of having read despite his claims to the contrary, I thought I'd post some preliminary thoughts. For one thing, it is worth noting that he made exactly these points in the debate yesterday, and I answered them, but he takes no account here of the answers. Instead, he just continues to make the charges, as if I have said nothing in response at all. Personally, I don't think this kind of thing is a very fruitful avenue for dialogue.

Yesterday I debated Robert Spencer at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in Washington D.C. The debate was aired live on C-Span. Our topic was essentially, Is Islam the Problem? My book The Enemy at Home says no, locating the problem in the way that liberal foreign policy and liberal values projected abroad have strengthened radical Islam and emboldened it to attack us. Spencer's books collectively answer yes, the problem is with Islam itself.

But Islam has been around for 1300 years and the problem of Islamic terrorism is a recent one. How can Islam be to blame? For me the intelligent question is: what is it about Islam today that has made it an incubator of a certain kind of fanaticism and terrorism?

The idea that Islamic terrorism is a recent development is absurd in light of the history of Islamic jihad, including in D'Souza's native India, where 70 million Hindus were killed by Islamic jihadists. D'Souza ignores the fact that today's jihad terrorists are motivated by exactly the same ideology that fueled those jihad conquests. It is indeed resurgent in the last 25 years, but D'Souza has not, and cannot, point to any doctrinal deviation from traditional Islam by the jihadists that could account for this resurgence if it is indeed something new within Islam.

Spencer iwill have none of it. He is part of an influential strain of conservatives who blame the teachings and practice of Islam for producing Islamic terrorism. Since the terrorists do what they do on behalf of Islam, Islam must be the source of their convictions and therefore Islam needs to be examined, denounced and reformed. This is how Spencer thinks we can win the war on terror: by demanding that Muslims stop practicing Islam as it has been practiced since Muhammad.

Yes. A doctrine of warfare against unbelievers must be denounced and rejected if people are going to live in peace. I make no apologies for pointing that out. Any Muslim who sincerely rejects the doctrines of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism should have no problem with it either.

In arguing his thesis Spencer locates all the violent verses in the Koran and all the hideous deeds performed by Islamic conquerors, especially in their early centuries of irredentist expansion. Then he links these to the words and actions of Khomeini, Bin Laden and today's Islamic radicals. Spencer is an effective polemicist.

Thanks, Dinesh. But here you breeze by what I pointed out yesterday: that all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence and all the orthodox sects teach warfare against unbelievers. If anyone is cherry-picking violent verses from the Qur'an, it is they, not I.

Atlas Shrugs deserves a very big hat tip for all the work involved in uploading the videos and following up on D'Souza.

Cross posted from Hyscience

Posted by Abdul at April 19, 2007 8:36 AM

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