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Terrorism and the Other Religions | Informed Comment

Contrary to what is alleged by bigots, Muslims are not more violent than people of other religions. Murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States.

As for political violence, people of Christian heritage in the twentieth century polished off tens of millions of people in the two world wars and colonial repression. This massive carnage did not occur because European Christians are worse than or different from other human beings, but because they were the first to industrialize war and pursue a national model. Sometimes it is argued that they did not act in the name of religion but of nationalism. But, really, how naive. Religion and nationalism are closely intertwined. The British monarch is the head of the Church of England, and that still meant something in the first half of the twentieth century, at least. The Swedish church is a national church. Spain? Was it really unconnected to Catholicism? Did the Church and Francisco Franco’s feelings toward it play no role in the Civil War? And what’s sauce for the goose: much Muslim violence is driven by forms of modern nationalism, too.

I figure that Muslims killed no more than 2 million people or so in political violence in the entire twentieth century, and that mainly in the Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 and the Soviet and post-Soviet wars in Afghanistan, for which Europeans bear some blame (the secular nationalist Young Turks also committed genocide against the Armenians during an invasion of eastern Anatolia by Russia).

Compare that to the Christian European tally of at least 100 million (16 million in WW I, 60 million in WW II – though some of those were attributable to Buddhists in Asia – and millions more in colonial wars.)

20e century deaths by religion

Belgium– yes, the Belgium of strawberry beer and quaint Gravensteen castle – conquered the Congo and is estimated to have killed off half of its inhabitants over time, some 8 million people at least.

Between 1916-1930 Tsarist Russian and then Soviet forces — facing the revolt of Central Asians trying to throw off Christian (and then Marxist), European rule — killed an estimated 1.5 million people. Two boys brought up in or born in one of those territories (Kyrgyzstan) just killed 4 people and wounded others critically. That is horrible, but no one, whether in Russia or in Europe or in North America has the slightest idea that Central Asians were mass-murdered during WW I and before and after, and looted of much of their wealth. Russia when it brutally conquered and ruled the Caucasus and Central Asia was an Eastern Orthodox, Christian empire (and seems to be reemerging as one!).

Then, between half a million and a million Algerians died in that country’s war of independence from France, 1954-1962, at a time when the population was only 11 million!

I could go on and on. Everywhere you dig in European colonialism in Afro-Asia, there are bodies. Lots of bodies.

As for religious terrorism, that too is universal. Admittedly, some groups deploy terrorism as a tactic more at some times than others. Zionists in British Mandate Palestine were active terrorists in the 1940s, from a British point of view, and in the period 1965-1980, the FBI considered the Jewish Defense League among the most active US terrorist groups. (Members at one point plotted to assassinate Rep. Dareell Issa (R-CA) because of his Lebanese heritage.) Now that Jewish nationalists are largely getting their way, terrorism has declined among them. But it would likely reemerge if they stopped getting their way. In fact, one of the arguments Israeli politicians give for allowing Israeli squatters to keep the Palestinian land in the West Bank that they have usurped is that attempting to move them back out would produce violence. I.e., the settlers not only actually terrorize the Palestinians, but they form a terrorism threat for Israel proper (as assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin discovered).

Even more recently, it is difficult for me to see much of a difference between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Baruch Goldstein, perpetrator of the Hebron massacre.

Or there was the cold-blooded bombing of the Ajmer shrine in India by Bhavesh Patel and a gang of Hindu nationalists. Chillingly, they were disturbed when a second bomb they had set did not go off, so that they did not wreak as much havoc as they would have liked. Ajmer is an ecumenical Sufi shrine also visited by Hindus, and these bigots wanted to stop such open-minded sharing of spiritual spaces because they hate Muslims.

Buddhists have committed a lot of terrorism and other violence as well. Many in the Zen orders in Japan supported militarism in the first half of the twentieth century, for which their leaders later apologized. And, you had Inoue Shiro’s assassination campaign in 1930s Japan. Nowadays militant Buddhist monks in Burma/ Myanmar are urging on an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya Muslims.

As for Christianity, the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda initiated hostilities that displaced two million people. Although it is an African cult, it is Christian in origin and the result of Western Christian missionaries preaching in Africa. If Saudi Wahhabi preachers can be in part blamed for the Taliban, why do Christian missionaries skate when we consider the blowback from their pupils?

Despite the very large number of European Muslims, in 2007-2009 less than 1 percent of terrorist acts in that continent were committed by people from that community.

Terrorism is a tactic of extremists within each religion, and within secular religions of Marxism or nationalism. No religion, including Islam, preaches indiscriminate violence against innocents.

It takes a peculiar sort of blindness to see Christians of European heritage as “nice” and Muslims and inherently violent, given the twentieth century death toll I mentioned above. Human beings are human beings and the species is too young and too interconnected to have differentiated much from group to group. People resort to violence out of ambition or grievance, and the more powerful they are, the more violence they seem to commit. The good news is that the number of wars is declining over time, and World War II, the biggest charnel house in history, hasn’t been repeated.   »»» Informed Comment

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Top Ten Ways Islamic Law forbids Terrorism

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

1. Terrorism or hirabah is forbidden in Islamic law, which groups it with brigandage, highway robbery and extortion rackets– any illicit use of fear and coercion in public spaces for money or power. The principle of forbidding the spreading of terror in the land is based on the Qur’an (Surah al-Ma’ida 5:33–34). Prominent [pdf] Muslim legal scholar Sherman Jackson writes, “The Spanish Maliki jurist Ibn `Abd al-Barr (d. 464/ 1070)) defines the agent of hiraba as ‘Anyone who disturbs free passage in the streets and renders them unsafe to travel, striving to spread corruption in the land by taking money, killing people or violating what God has made it unlawful to violate is guilty of hirabah . . .”

Whosoever killed a person...It shall be as if he had killed all mankind. --Qur'an 5.33

2. Terrorism is above all murder. Murder is strictly forbidden in the Qur’an. 5:53 says, “… whoso kills a soul, unless it be for murder or for wreaking corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind.” Qur’an 6:151 says, “and do not kill a soul that God has made sacrosanct, save lawfully.” (i.e. murder is forbidden but the death penalty imposed by the state for a crime is permitted).

3. If the motive for terrorism is religious, it is impermissible in Islamic law. It is forbidden to attempt to impose Islam on other people. The Qur’an says, “There is no compulsion in religion. The right way has become distinct from error.” (-The Cow, 2:256). Note that this verse was revealed in Medina in 622 AD or after and was never abrogated by any other verse of the Quran. Islam’s holy book forbids coercing people into adopting any religion. They have to willingly choose it.

4. Islamic law forbids aggressive warfare. The Quran says, “But if the enemies incline towards peace, do you also incline towards peace. And trust in God! For He is the one who hears and knows all things.” (8:61) The Quran chapter “The Cow,” 2:190, says, “Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loveth not aggressors.”

5. In the Islamic law of war, not just any civil engineer can declare or launch a war. It is the prerogative of the duly constituted leader of the Muslim community that engages in the war. Qur’an 4:59 says “Obey God and the Messenger and those in authority among you.” Nowadays that would be the president or prime minister of the state, as advised by the mufti or national jurisconsult.

6. The killing of innocent non-combatants is forbidden. According to Sunni tradition, ‘Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, gave these instructions to his armies: “I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town . . . ” (Malik’s Muwatta’, “Kitab al-Jihad.”)

7. Sneak attacks are forbidden. Muslim commanders must give the enemy fair warning that war is imminent. The Prophet Muhammad at one point gave 4 months notice (Q. 9:5).

8. The Prophet Muhammad counseled doing good to those who harm you and is said to have commanded, “Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” (Al-Tirmidhi). It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: It was said: O Messenger of God, pray against the idolaters! He said: “I was not sent to pronounce curses, rather I was sent as a mercy.” (Narrated by Muslim [2599])

9. The Qur’an demands of believers that they exercise justice toward people even where they have reason to be angry with them: “And do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness.”[5:8]

10. The Qur’an assures Christians and Jews of paradise if they believe and do good works, and commends Christians as the best friends of Muslims. I wrote elsewhere, “Dangerous falsehoods are being promulgated to the American public. The Quran does not preach violence against Christians.

Quran 5:69: “Surely they who believe, and the Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabeaans, whosover believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness–-their reward waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they despair.”

In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. It is not saying that non-Muslims go to hell– quite the opposite.

When speaking of the 7th-century situation in the Muslim city-state of Medina, which was at war with pagan Mecca, the Quran notes that the polytheists and some Arabian Jewish tribes were opposed to Islam, but then goes on to say:

Qur’an 5:82. ” . . . and you will find the nearest in love to the believers [Muslims] those who say: ‘We are Christians.’ That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.”

So the Quran not only does not urge Muslims to commit violence against Christians, it calls them “nearest in love” to the Muslims! The reason given is their piety, their ability to produce holy persons dedicated to God, and their lack of overweening pride.   »»» Informed Comment

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Paris attackers cannot speak for Muslims Indian group

An Indian Muslim women’s group on Saturday denounced terrorists for killing innocents in Paris in the name of Islam, saying “they are criminals and should be treated as criminals“.

“We decry the terrorists who at the Bataclan concert venue were heard crying out ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they went about killing people,” the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan said in a statement.

“We condemn them outright for carrying out such inhuman and criminal acts in the name of Allah.

“We want to state clearly and emphatically that these terrorists have no business to speak in the name of Allah or on behalf of fellow Muslims.

“They are criminals and should be treated as criminals in any society,” said the statement signed by co-founders Noorjehan Safia Niaz and Zakia Soman.

The terrorists, the statement said, “have only brought about misery, suffering and shame to fellow Muslims and to humankind.

“We urge all Indian Muslims as well as Muslims the world over to stand up in solidarity with the French victims and against those resorting to such dastardly acts in the name of our religion.”

Eight terrorists — all of whom were later killed — unleashed mayhem in Paris on Friday night, killing over 150 people and injuring over 200, some 80 of them critically, in multiple terror attacks.   »»» IANS

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Ahmed Mohamed is just one example of the bigotry American Muslims face

Parents like me send our children to school every weekday morning entrusting the adults there to educate them and to cultivate, encourage and promote innovation and creativity among them. More importantly, I trust that my children are protected from any harm – not arrested and interrogated without my presence or that of an attorney by law enforcement officers for trying to intellectually impress the very adults we ask them to trust and with whom they spend most of their days.

So as a a mother of three public school students and a Muslim, I am outraged that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was removed from his classes, handcuffed, led out in front of his classmates and brought to a juvenile detention center for building a homemade clock and bringing it to school to show a teacher. I am horrified that officials did not follow protocol by calling his parents or offering him an attorney–demonstrating to me that there is a special justice system set up for Muslims, including Muslim children. And it broke my heart when I read that, after his arrest he said, “It made me feel like I wasn’t human” and “it made me feel like a criminal.”

But as much as I am outraged at the treatment this young boy endured, I’m dumbfounded at the ignorance of the adults in his school including the police who literally cannot tell the difference between a clock, a bomb and a “fake bomb”, let alone the kind of kid who might bring any of the above. What message does Ahmed’s treatment by his own teachers send to American Muslim students, aspiring inventors, innovators and engineers? We have spent billions of dollars promoting the math and sciences in schools across the United States – but I guess the people who designed those outreach efforts didn’t mean for Muslim kids to take the bait.   »»» The Guardian (U.K.)

He built a small digital clock and took it to school to show to his science teacher. At this time, the eBay online auction and sales site has at least 20 vendors offering kits to build such clocks: a printed circuit board, some electronic components and a LED display–all ready to be assembled and installed in any housing chosen by the builder. Instead being encouraged by other teachers and the school administration for his efforts, the young Ahmed was arrested and denied his basic rights to have access to an attorney and to be questioned in the presence of his parents.

It is not difficult to distinguish between a clock, a real bomb and a hoax bomb. The latter two have something that is or appears to be explosive: a dynamite stick, a blasting cap, a wad of C4 “plastique”. An electronic clock has NONE of those. As one of the leaders in George Orwell’s Animal Farm says, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

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Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood Rejects Russian Occupation

In a new and significant development, Russian military movements has begun in the heart of Syrian territories, proving the permanent member of the Security Council is now playing the role of a direct occupier and partner in war crimes as well as crimes against humanity, including the targeting of civilians, mass murders, sectarian displacement and forcing demographic changes throughout Syria.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria affirms that this blatant aggression on our country and our people puts Russia along with Iran in direct partnership with Assad’s criminal regime in the killing of our people and the destruction of our country, after its long support for the war criminal and its tireless justification of his killing, maiming and displacement of civilians.

We appeal to the free world and international organizations. Failure to stop the direct occupation and direct partnership in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the criminal regime in Syria today will end all hope for the political solution proposed by the Security Council through various resolutions and statements, which also demanded a halt to the targeting of civilians and stressed in the clearest terms the unity of Syrian land and people.   »»» Ikhwanweb

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FBI says ‘Australian IS jihadist’ is actually a Jewish American troll named Joshua Ryne Goldberg

A young Jewish American man has been charged with pretending to be an Australian-based Islamic State jihadist after a FBI joint investigation with the Australian Federal Police based on information provided by Fairfax Media.

Joshua Ryne Goldberg, a 20-year old living at his parents’ house in US state of Florida, is accused of posing online as “Australi Witness,” an IS supporter who publicly called for a series of attacks against individuals and events in western countries.

In recent days Australi Witness has claimed online that he is working with other jihadists to plan attacks in Australia and the United States. He distributed pictures of a bomb that he was working on with “2 lbs of explosives inside”.

Early on Friday, Australian time, Goldberg, who is non-Muslim and has no real-world links with extremism, was arrested at his home by Florida police for “distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction”.   »»» The Age (Australia)

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Indian clerics issue fatwa against ISIS, declare it ‘un-Islamic’

Over 1,050 Indian Islamic scholars and clerics have issued a collection of fatwas against the Islamic State terror outfit and described its acts and actions as against the basic tenets of Islam.

This is the first time that such a large number of religious leaders and Imams have issued a joint fatwa against Islamic State – also known as Daesh – which has unleashed a reign of terror in the Middle East, killing thousands of innocent people.

Abdul Rehman Anjari, president of the Mumbai’s Islamic Defence Cyber Cell, collected the edicts from Muslims scholars and leaders over the past few months.

These fatwas are in 15 volumes, and copies were sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other leaders to convey Indian Muslims’ views on IS activities.

It urged the international community to take immediate steps to eliminate this terror group that has caused mayhem in the region and is spreading its tentacles in the South Asian region.

Anjari said muftis and imams of all sections and sects of Islam have condemned the activities of Daesh and acknowledged it has tarnished Islam’s image.   »»» Mid-Day (Mumbai, India)

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Terror law prompts British Library to reject unique Taliban archive

The British Library has refused to host a unique digital archive of Taliban documents because officials fear that holding the collection would violate British anti-terrorism laws.

The documents in the unmatched cache mostly come from the 1990s, when the extremist group ruled Afghanistan and hosted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. It includes everything from their official newspapers, magazines and books of sharia law to maps and poetry.

More than 2m words have been translated from Pashto to English, making the collection more accessible. The academics who built up the collection, and have spent two years cataloguing it, told the Guardian they were now speaking to US universities, including Yale and Stanford, about hosting it.

Alex Strick van Linschoten, an academic who was prominent in putting the project together, called the decision shortsighted and said it would put other institutions off hosting similar archives.

“There is already a decent amount of fear about working on these kinds of projects, especially if you’re not a government-funded or affiliated organisation. Academics know to be careful about travelling with these kinds of documents,” he said.
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“It’s a pity, since the value that ours – and other, similar collections – have is really important for the historical record, as well as for researchers, analysts and policymakers, not to mention Afghans, to allow them to understand and come to terms with their own history.”

The British Library said that, “although the archive was recognised as being of research value, it was judged that it contained some material which could contravene the Terrorism Act [2006], and which would present restrictions on the library’s ability to provide access to the archive for researchers”.

It added: “The Terrorism Act places specific responsibilities on anyone in the UK who might provide access to terrorist publications, and the legal advice received jointly by the British Library and other similar institutions advises against making this type of material accessible.”   »»» The Guardian (U.K.)

Interestingly, the British Library still has on its shelves a large number of works (such as The Anarchist’s Cookbook and various neo-Nazi documents that are more dangerous than the Taliban collection. It would appear that for the British, some terrorism is more terroristic than other terrorism.

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White supremacist convicted in plot to kill Pres. Obama and Muslimswith ‘death ray’ device

A New York white supremacist was convicted by a federal jury on Friday of plotting to use a remote-controlled radiation device he called “Hiroshima on a light switch” to harm Muslims and President Barack Obama.

After less than three hours of deliberation in US district court in Albany, New York, the jury unanimously found Glendon Scott Crawford guilty of all three charges against him.

Crawford, 51, wearing a gray suit and eyeglasses, showed no emotion as judge Gary Sharpe read the verdict.

He was convicted of use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to build and use a radiological dispersal device. He was also convicted of distributing information with respect to a weapon of mass destruction.

“Glendon Scott Crawford was a terrorist who attempted to acquire a weapon of mass destruction and to use it to kill innocent members of the Muslim community,” said Richard Hartunian, US attorney for the northern district of New York.   »»» The Guardian (U.K.)

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Pakistan Supreme Court suspends Asia Bibi death sentence

The Supreme Court in Pakistan has suspended the execution of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy.

Asia Bibi, who has been on death row for nearly five years, was given leave to appeal. No hearing date was set.

She denies insulting the Prophet Mohammed, saying her Muslim accusers were acting on a personal grudge.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan – critics argue laws are frequently misused to settle personal scores, often targeting minorities.

She was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and her case is one of the most controversial in Pakistan.

Thousands have protested against her and said they would kill her if she were ever released – including the imam in her own village. Her husband and four daughters live in hiding and say they have received many death threats.

Pakistan has never executed anyone for blasphemy but some people accused of the offence in the past have been lynched by crowds. Lawyers, judges and those seeking to reform the blasphemy laws have also been threatened, attacked or even killed.

Since the 1990s, scores of Christians have been convicted for desecrating the Koran or for blasphemy.

While most of them have been sentenced to death by the lower courts, many sentences have been overturned due to lack of evidence.

Although Christians are often prosecuted, it is Muslims who constitute the majority of those prosecuted, followed by minority Ahmadis (a disputed Muslim sect).   »»» BBC News

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