Does The Democratic Party Want the Jihad Sympathizer Vote?

August 27, 2008

Ingrid Mattson was invited to speak at the Democratic Convention in Denver. She is president of the Islamic Society of North America, a large organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is waging “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions,” according to the MB’s own words. The ISNA was also named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case last year.

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch lists 17 specific items which show Mattson to be a Jihad sympathizer and an Islamic Supremacist, each backed up by quotes and sources. I consider this post by Spencer to be a must-read article. I’ll just summarize two of his 17 points here:

First, Mattson praises the Jihadist, Maududi: “…. So far, probably the best work of Tafseer [Quranic commentary] in English is by Maulana Abul A’la Maududi.'” Spencer gives several examples of Maududi’s own writing which show Maududi fully supports offensive Jihad warfare and the worldwide imposition of Sharia. Here’s just one of those examples, from Maududi’s Jihad in Islam, page 9:

“Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the Nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and programme, regardless of which Nation assumes the role of the standard bearer of Islam or the rule of which nation is undermined in the process of the establishment of an ideological Islamic State. It must be evident to you from this discussion that the objective of Islamic ‘Jihad’ is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of State rule. Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single State or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution.”

Here’s an even fuller expose of Maududi’s writings.

Second, a number of self-identified Muslim reformers and moderates have jointly criticized Mattson and ISNA. Here’s an excerpt from their statement, in which they take exception to the URJ (Union for Reformed Judaism) collaborating with ISNA:

ISNA… has a long history of association with extremist trends in Islam. ISNA has served as a front group for Wahhabism, the official sect in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia; the jihadist ideologies originating in Pakistan with the writings of a certain Mawdudi and the Deoband schools in that country — the latter of which produced the Afghan Taliban, and the Ikhwan al-Muslimun, or Muslim Brotherhood.

Ingrid Mattson, president of ISNA, revealed the style of radical rhetoric with which the organization is saturated ….

…. [The] noble goal [of furthering interfaith civility and cooperation], to which we as Muslims are called by our revelation and our traditions, cannot be served by flattery toward groups like ISNA, in which radicals are camouflaged as moderates.

…. We fear that heedless acceptance of ISNA as an ally of URJ does harm to both our communities, by legitimizing a radicalism that, regardless of ISNA’s rhetorical claims, is fundamentally hostile to Jews and suppresses the intellectual and social development of Muslims.

Nawab Agha, president, American Muslim Congress
Omran Salman, director, Aafaq Foundation
Kemal Silay, president, Center for Islamic Pluralism
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, executive director, Center for Islamic Pluralism
Salim Mansur, Canadian director, Center for Islamic Pluralism
Jalal Zuberi, Southern U.S. director, Center for Islamic Pluralism
Imaad Malik, fellow, Center for Islamic Pluralism
M. Zuhdi Jasser, president, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Sheikh Ahmed Subhy Mansour, president, International Quranic Center

So, my question is this: It would not have been difficult to vet Mattson before giving her such a prominent role at the Democratic National Convention. Since this vetting either was not done or did not result in her exclusion, it seems likely that one of the following must be true:

  • The Democratic Party does not know about the Islamic Jihad and Islamic Supremacy.
  • The Democratic Party does not care about the Islamic Jihad and Islamic Supremacy.
  • The Democratic Party wants the votes of Jihad sympathizers.

In fairness, some Republicans have, in the past, been equally clueless about Islamic Jihadists and Islamic Supremacists. However, the biggest gaffe in this election has been committed by the Democrats, at their most prominent event of the election cycle. This is an opportunity for the Republicans to distinguish themselves relative to the Democrats. I’d love nothing better than a little partisan competition to see which major party can best protect the country from those with the viewpoint espoused by Mattson. Ultimately, we need to have both the Republicans and Democrats on board to be successful in defending our way of life against both Jihadists and peaceful Islamic Supremacists.


How Can We Screen Out Jihadist Immigrants if Muslims Themselves Can’t Tell the Difference?

May 26, 2008

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, some immigrants to the US from Muslim countries are frustrated that their citizenship applications are taking so long. Some are even suing the federal government. They believe their civil rights are being violated if it takes longer for them to gain citizenship than it does for an immigrant from a non-Muslim country. The immigration authorities take longer with Muslim applicants so that a thorough background check can be performed.

It is common sense that for would-be immigrants, US citizenship is not a right but a privilege. Immigration, within certain limits, is good for this country. However, it does not make sense to bring in immigrants from demographic groups that have a higher risk for committing acts of terrorism, or crimes of mass destruction, unless there is a reliable way to distinguish between those who are potentially violent and those who are not. Screening out potential Islamic terrorists protects all people in this country, both Muslim and non-Muslim. A background check is the least we can do; but is it enough?

Is There a Reliable Way to Screen Out Potential Jihad Terrorists?

Robert Spencer and others have stated many times that there is no reliable way for immigration authorities to tell the difference between potential Jihadists and those who will never participate in Jihad. They are correct, and here’s more evidence:

Even Muslims Can’t Tell the Difference!

It would be reasonable to assume that Muslims, being intimately familiar with the various strains of Islam, could spot a potential Jihadist more easily than a non-Muslim, especially if they are close friends or family members. However, this does not seem to be the case in every situation.

Nail Bomber’s Muslim Friend “Stunned”: Nick Reilly, aka Mohammed Rasheed, a British convert to Islam, was recently arrested for attempting to detonate a nail bomb in a restaurant. Omar Siddiqui, Reilly’s friend and president of the Islamic Society at the local university said, “I believe the Islamic community will be stunned by what he is alleged to have done because he always seemed so calm and nice.” According to neighbors, Reilly had a screen saver of the twin towers coming down on 9/11.

Accused July 21 Bomb Suspect’s Sister “Surprised” He Had Jihad Book: When Adel Yahya was being prosecuted for his alleged involvement in the July 21 bomb plot in Britain, his sister Lina evidently knew nothing about a Jihad book he had in their home. Lina said, “This is a surprise. He’s never really had these sort of views.” (Adel’s jury failed to reach a verdict, after which he pled guilty to a lesser charge.)

SUV Jihadist’s Sister “Shocked”: Mohammed Taheri-Azar drove an SUV into a crowd of people on the UNC campus to “avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world.” His sister, Laila, describes her brother as “a kind, gentle and pure soul.” She says his actions are “as much a source of shock and distress to us as they are to you.” This is despite the fact that he admitted plotting the act for two years.

July 7 Bomber’s Wife “Had No Idea of His Plans”: Germaine Lindsay, aka Jamal Lindsay, was one of the bombers in the attacks on London’s public transport system on July 7, 2005. His own wife, Samantha Lewthwaite, a British convert to Islam who was pregnant at the time of the bombing, said, “He was a good and loving husband and a brilliant father, who showed absolutely no sign of doing this atrocious crime.”

So, since it’s apparent that Muslims who are close to the Jihadists can’t predict what they will do, how does anyone expect the immigration officials to do so?

By now, you may be saying, “Wait a minute. These people may have known more than they’re admitting.” This is true, but it doesn’t matter. If the Jihadists’ closest friends and family members could not tell they were Jihadists, that’s a good reason to stem the flow of Muslim immigration. If the Jihadists operate in a community that conceals their activities from the authorities, that’s a good reason to stem the flow of Muslim immigration.

Some Jihad plots are foiled due to Muslim informants, and they deserve credit for helping keep us safe. But not every plot is foiled by informants, and it only takes one successful plot to do a whole lot of damage.

How Do We Screen Out Peaceful Islamic Supremacists?

In addition, since our Constitution is not compatible with Sharia law, we should also be attempting to screen out Muslims who believe Sharia should one day be the law of the entire world. Our system of representative government with individual rights cannot be maintained if a significant portion of the population is hostile to our basic system, whether or not they are potentially violent. Since no one seems to be able to tell with certainty who is a Jihadist, how is anyone to tell whether someone is an Islamic Supremacist?

How Do We Screen Out Those Whose Children Will Be Islamic Supremacists?

In addition to the risks of terrorist immigrants and peaceful Islamic Supremacists immigrants, there’s also the risk of homegrown terrorists and peaceful Islamic Supremacists. More than once, moderate Muslim parents in the West have been appalled to find their children becoming more radical than the parents are. We already have this risk with the population we currently have. However, the larger our Muslim population, the more this risk grows.

I believe it would be good policy to drastically reduce or stop immigration from Muslim majority countries, as well as Muslims from Europe and elsewhere, until this threat has been dealt with successfully. If we allow any immigration at all from Muslim countries, we should give preference to peaceful religious minorities, apostates and heretics from those countries. This is not because all Muslims are Islamic Supremacists, nor will their children all be such. It’s because we have no way of knowing which are which.

Note that this policy protects not only non-Muslims, but also those Muslims already living here who value our way of life and don’t want to change it. Those are the Muslims we should be concerned about, not the ones who want to replace the Constitution with Sharia.


Is Islam Dominated by Radicals?

April 20, 2008

The Rosenkranz Foundation recently sponsored a debate of the resolution, “Islam Is Dominated by Radicals”. Six experts debated the resolution, including two Muslim women, one on each side. It was very well done, although in a strictly time-limited format there are always important points left unmade (hence my comments here).

On the side for the resolution were Paul Marshall, with the Hudson Institute; Asra Nomani, a Muslim woman who has been fighting against radicalization of Islam; and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a former Islamic fundamentalist. Against the resolution were Reza Aslan, professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside; Edina Lekovic, from the Muslim Public Affairs Council; and Richard Bulliet, professor of history at Columbia.

It is disconcerting that this panel included Edina Lekovic, who once edited a paper which published a pro-terrorist article, lied about doing so on national television, then personally attacked Steven Emerson, a terrorism expert, who made her dishonesty public. The very fact that a woman who has links to radicalism herself, and has falsely denied those links, gets invited to speak publicly about Islam supports the notion that Islamic radicalism has hegemony in this country. Why is it so hard to find spokespeople for Islam who have no links to radicalism?

The first speaker for the resolution, Paul Marshall, defined “radicals” as “those who are striving for a political order representing a reactionary version of Islam that denies legal and civic equality to men and women and also denies it on the basis of religion. It also denies freedom of speech and freedom of thought….” Those opposed to the resolution neither accepted nor refuted this definition, they simply ignored it and spoke as though violence is the only radical issue to discuss.

For purposes of this debate, this is an OK definition. At least it isn’t limiting the discussion to the Jihadists; it’s time we get past the idea that only the Jihadists are a threat. Islamic Supremacists desire a vision which is wholely unacceptable from the perspective of the West, whether they accomplish it peacefully or not.

The only downside to using the term “Radical Islam” to describe Islamic Supremacists is that it implies these “radicals” are advocating a form of Islam that is contrary to mainstream, traditional, scholarly Islam. This is, unfortunately, not the case. These people’s world view is radical as compared to mainstream Western thought, but not radical as compared to mainstream Islamic scholarship. For simplicity, in this article I will use “radical” as defined by Mr. Marshall, and “moderate” to mean those within Islam who oppose the “radicals”, even though these definitions have their problems in the larger picture.

Although this was not specifically the topic, some causes of radicalism were alleged, but they were not debated with any thoroughness. The Islamic doctrines that support radicalism were barely mentioned.

The basic argument for the resolution was that Islamic radicals, even if not a majority of the Muslim population, control all levels of power through the Muslim world, and thus they dominate Islam. Saudi oil money is one means used for disseminating a radical view, but not the only means. The debaters for the resolution were very persuasive, and the percentage of the audience who agreed with them shifted dramatically in their favor during the debate. There are just a couple points I’d like to expand upon, which I did not feel were adequately addressed during the debate.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross (for the resolution) mentioned the UK poll which found that 36% of Muslim youth (ages 16-24) believe apostates should be killed. Richard Bulliet from the other side said this shows the radical view does not have hegemony (power), because it is a minority view. However, this ignores an important dynamic: a significant minority which is willing to use violence will have hegemony over an acquiescent majority. As we have discussed, apostates are, indeed, intimidated by “radical” Muslims, even in the West. There is no question but that their freedom of expression is severely curtailed even in the West, and it is virtually squelched in Muslim countries. Even if this were the only facet of Islamic Supremacy regarding which the “radicals” have hegemony (and it is not), it would be alarming by itself.

Reza Aslan (against the resolution) made a bizarre comparison between that 36% figure above and a poll showing that “46 percent… of American Christians believe that the Constitution and American laws should be changed in order to match Christian law and Christian values.” What kind of bizarre comparison is this? Christian “radicals” can be fairly compared with Muslim “radicals” when:

  • Ex-Christians worldwide are afraid to speak out about why they left Christianity in fear for their lives
  • Christians hold big protests calling for the death of anyone who has insulted them
  • Christians form a world-wide movement that’s for stoning for adulterers and gays; for the court testimony of women to count half that of men; for the removal, by force if necessary, of all non-Christians from power; for non-Christians to pay an extra tax in lieu of being killed; etc.
  • These things are not happening, obviously, so we can relax about the Christian radicals.

    Reza Aslan cites a declaration of many leading clerics outlawing “takfir”, which means declaring a Muslim to be a non-Muslim. “Takfir” is often used by Jihadists who want to kill unsupportive Muslims: It is illegal under Islamic law for a Muslim to kill a Muslim, but if a Muslim is pronounced a non-Muslim with a fatwa of takfir, voila! It’s suddenly legal to kill him. Although the ban on takfir was cited as evidence that radicalism has no hegemony, this is a mixed blessing at best: the Jihadists do not consider themselves bound by a bunch of clerics, so they will continue to pronounce takfir as before; however, the moderates now are hamstrung in efforts to distance Islam from the Jihadists. The ban on takfir means that no one can declare Osama bin Laden to be a non-Muslim, which would actually be a good move for the moderates.

    Incidentally, Robert Spencer had been invited to participate in this debate for the resolution, and then was disinvited at the request of one of the speakers against the resolution (he does not know which one, nor does it matter). Mr. Spencer is extremely knowledgable, articulate, and backs up virtually everything with solid data. The fact that someone did not want to debate him is a compliment to him, and not to the someone.


    Which Is the Best Solution to Islamo-Fascism: Reform or Apostasy?

    January 29, 2008

    As I see it, there are three main options for peace- and freedom-minded Muslims to respond to Islamo-Fascism: to ignore or deny it and hope it goes away; to reform Islam into a personal religion with no political component; or to leave Islam. Since ignoring the problem is so obviously doomed to failure, I’ll focus on reform vs. apostasy. Ultimately, this choice is up to Muslims; non-Muslims have choices of their own for responding to Islamo-Fascism. However, non-Muslims can have an opinion on the subject, especially since Islamo-Fascism infringes upon non-Muslim rights. The ideal would be to eliminate Islamo-Fascism in whatever way is most effective both in the short-term and long-term, while minimizing violence.

    On the plus side for reform: if a version of Islam were developed with a compelling, comprehensive rejection of all fascist ideologies, it’s possible it could be easier to get large numbers of Muslims to join such a reform rather than to leave Islam altogether. It may be more comfortable for them to preserve the familiarity of the mosques, prayer rugs, five pillars, etc. However, on the minus side, it is difficult to believe the fascist tendencies of Islam could be altogether removed in such a way that they couldn’t come right back at any time. So, it’s possible that reform would result in Islamic Jihad and Islamic Supremacy going dormant, rather than disappearing forever. This could give the non-Muslim world a false sense of security, and it might even speed up conversions to Islam, which would then come back to haunt us at such time in the future that Islamo-Fascism reawakens.

    At first glance, the idea of an apostasy movement may be tougher for large numbers of Muslims to get on board with. However, since any meaningful reform of Islam is tantamount to apostasy, according to orthodox Islam, perhaps a complete apostasy wouldn’t really be that much harder. Apostasy also seems like a more permanent solution, in that changing religious identity to a different religion creates something of a “firewall” between the ex-Muslim and Islamo-Fascism. It also seems like it would be more durable from one generation to the next. Some liberal Muslim parents have been appalled that their children became radicalized Muslims; that scenario would be less likely with ex-Muslim parents. However, if the apostasy movement does not gain some serious momentum, those advantages will not be enough to avert an unpleasant future.

    Why not both?

    I find that many people who write about Islamo-Fascism choose one solution or the other to support (and some are quite hard-line about it). However, I don’t see reform and apostasy as mutually exclusive. At this point, I think it’s useful for reformers, apostates, and non-Muslims to all work toward solutions, even different solutions, with the common goal of freeing the world from Islamo-Fascism. A reform movement and apostasy movement might even complement each other: if people are leaving Islam in significant numbers, this loss of “market share” could make orthodox Muslims more open to reform. If Muslims are becoming less orthodox, it could make it easier for them to leave the religion altogether. Both solutions are about introducing freedom of conscience to the Muslim world. And, both solutions benefit from well-reasoned criticism of Islamo-Fascist doctrines, which is where non-Muslims could be doing more to help.

    Neither apostasy nor reform has much of a track record of working against Islamo-Fascism. However, we are in a new era which may change the rules in favor of peace and freedom, if we take advantage of the opportunity. With the help of the Internet and modern standards of individual rights and freedoms, maybe one or both will be successful this time.

    Because both reformers and outspoken apostates are in considerable danger, it seems that either solution is greatly helped by the ability to speak freely and anonymously over the internet, which we have at least for now. This is an opportunity that has never before been available to a reform or apostasy movement of Islam. However, some people are trying very hard to end this opportunity. Whatever we do, let’s not allow this window of opportunity to close.


    Can and Should Islam Be Reformed? Part VI: Muslim Culture

    January 25, 2008

    This is the sixth installment of a seven part series, examining the challenges, as I see them, and potential solutions, for reforming Islam. I would consider a reform to be meaningful and successful if it resulted in Islam as a personal religion (just a way of relating with God, with no fascist doctrines); if it offered persuasive, comprehensive, and truthful challenges to the version of Islam put forward by the Islamists; and if it became the prevailing view among Muslims.

    Challenge: Muslim Culture. Besides the religious doctrines, Islam also has a culture which has been influenced by those doctrines, but is really a separate item, with several components. For example, Islam is an honor/shame-based culture, meaning that having a good image is of primary importance. This makes it difficult to admit to problems. In addition, honesty is not an absolute virtue in Islam; there are various exceptions to the rule. The combination of an honor/shame orientation and excuses for dishonesty creates a strong tendency to blame others for problems, which we often see in practice today. Blaming others for problems created by self is a sure way NOT to solve the problems.

    Also, it is psychologically difficult for Muslims to accept a “demotion” from being superior (according to Islamic law and tradition) to being no better than the low-class dhimmis or the unclean kafirs. And, many Muslims strongly identify with Islam, making it more difficult for individuals to change their beliefs.

    In addition to the purely psychological factors, there’s also real danger: Sharia’s draconian punishment for apostasy has also created a culture that is dangerous to reformers, as orthodox Muslims can label any attempt at reform as being an act of apostasy, carrying the penalty of death.

    How to overcome this challenge:

    This is a tough set of issues, but it must be addressed. As long as Muslims cling to the idea that Islam is the world’s most perfect religion, and that all the world’s problems result from Jewish conspiracies, Western imperialism, and whatnot, nothing will change.

    First, honor and shame can be redefined. “Real honor comes from admitting ones own faults.” “People who blame others for their own faults should be ashamed of themselves.” This message would be more effective coming from Muslims, and there are a few who do put out messages along these lines. We need to support them. Let’s not expect immediate results, but a sustained effort could eventually make a difference. When Muslims blame others for problems that are obviously their own responsibility, the rest of the world should not buy into it.

    In addition, the Muslims’ extreme aversion to shame can be utilized by criticizing the problems within Islam and expressing outrage at barbaric Islamic practices every chance we get. If they really get the message that others see Islam’s fascist doctrines as shameful, and honor is heaped upon those who are sincerely trying to reform those doctrines, we could start to see some real change.

    This isn’t about using a “gimmick”, it’s just telling the truth. The truth really could set us free, if only we were willing to tell it. This is the opposite from what the PC crowd says would be effective, but for the past thousand years the Islamic world has gotten by with little or no challenge, and what has that yielded? Stagnation and misery. If we really care about Muslims, we’ll give them what they most need: a good dose of honesty. It’s painful, but it’s about the only thing that has a chance of helping them. The serious reformers, by and large, know this already, and they’re the ones we should be allying ourselves with.

    Shame can also be utilized to make it easier for Muslims to accept the “demotion” from superiority to equality with others. We need to condemn supremacist doctrines, including Islamic supremacy, as shameful.

    Shame is one thing that does actually have a track record for bringing about change in the Muslim world. There have been various examples of <a href=”http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/019017.php”<atrocities averted due to criticism from the West. Since we know shame works, and there’s so little that does, it would be foolish not to use it.

    Note to PC crowd: Criticizing fascist doctrines of Islam (Jihad and Sharia) is not hate. If we hated Muslims, we’d allow these doctrines to grow unchallenged until the only possible effective response is a military one. I don’t believe we’re there yet, but the PC mentality is allowing us to drift closer to it. The first victims of Islamo-Fascism are Muslims; if we care about them, we’ll do what it takes to spare them from it.

    Of course, we can expect a violent response to truthful messages, because Muslims have found violence very effective for getting their way. Think of a two year old. If they throw a tantrum and get what they want, what will happen next time? A responsible parent has to ride out the tantrum, lovingly yet firmly. Otherwise the two year old will soon be running the household, which is what we are already on a slippery slope toward. Many people believe Western culture will inevitably prevail because it is more sophisticated, forgetting the power of a two year old. We’ll have the fewest tantrums–er, the least violence–in the long run if we don’t reward it.

    Making a distinction between Islamic doctrines and Muslim individuals is also useful. Muslims in general identify so strongly with Islam that they may not hear this message for a long time, but eventually it may sink in. Muslims will not be able to conceive of changing Islam until they develop their own identity, separate from Islam.

    As for the danger factor, as with so many of these challenges, there’s no easy solution. However, at the very least, we who live in the relative safety of the West should be handing microphones to the brave Muslims and ex-Muslims who are willing to risk their necks to call for an Islamic reformation, rather than lavishing our attention on those who merely defend the status quo. If we even understood the danger factor better, perhaps we’d be more willing to lift a finger to amplify the effect of those few who are undeterred by death threats.

    Part VII of this series will offer conclusions.

    Part I: The Quran
    Part II: The Hadith
    Part III: The Sira
    Part IV: Sharia
    Part V: Historical Evidence
    Part VI: Muslim Culture
    Part VII: Conclusions
    Overview