(J-Practical, September 20, 2012)
The past week has seen riots, killing and barbarity in countries that have a human history dating back thousands of years. The supposed reason for these violent, shameful riots, is outrage over a movie clip that insults Mohamed.
Lost in the hubbub over the movie clip, is the fact that it’s been on YouTube for a year, and was recently introduced to the Muslim world on Egyptian TV, by an anti-west tirade from Sheikh Khaled Abdalla. In other words, it wasn’t spontaneously discovered by the masses, it was publicized by a Muslim religious leader in order to manufacture and shape the exact response it produced – anti American hate, violence and public brutality. The initial riots were then intensified by other religious leaders across the Muslim world, inflaming Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Malaysia, Niger and (no surprise) Iran. A Salafist cleric in Egypt, Ahmad Fouad Ashoush, just released a fatwa calling for the deaths of all those involved in the making of the film. But some western sources, notably the media and selected governments, are disregarding the Islamic clerics who are openly winding the springs of the violence. The tell us this is actually a ‘spontaneous outpouring’ – that’s sort of like when the Fort Hood shooting was rationalized as a case of ‘Work Place Violence’.
Meanwhile, Google, who was the darling of Tahrir Square, has now been transformed into the spawn of the devil, and Jihadi forums in Egypt are calling to burn down their Egyptian Office. Protesters in Egypt called for “Demonstration of Millions” demanding to burn the US embassy and expel the ambassador. In Lebanon, the angry masses attacked the bastions of western culture, KFC and Arby’s. In Khartoum they had a Tourettes moment, and assaulted the German Embassy. Kuala Lumpur apparently didn’t get the memo, because they only had a small, peaceful demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy. It’s sad how a lack of internet connectivity impacted Malaysia. Interestingly, in Pakistan, the Prime Minister has given up on controlling his riots, and instead demanded the international community pass laws to prohibit people from insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
We’re about to see more violence, as the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo just published caricatures of Mohammad. Expect a fatwa soon against the lives of the French staff at Charlie Hebdo. France is reportedly stepping up security at its embassies across the Muslim world, because, of course they know that if they don’t protect the embassies, nobody else there will.
Why are there Muslim riots against western embassies and westerners? Do they really believe the movie and the caricatures are the spawn of western government plots? What do they think western governments gain from the juvenile movie and the tasteless caricatures? And why are western governments and media pretending that this is some kind of grassroots expression, and ignoring the premeditated malicious incitement by Muslim clerics?
If you believe the ‘popular wisdom’ of our western liberal culture, they’re rioting over the offense to their religion, the callous way that the west portrays and treats the holiest aspects of their culture. They’re rioting because they just can’t get the indispensable respect for Islam. But liberal sensibilities tell us that only a minority of the Muslims are violent, and that the majority of the 1.2 billion Muslims on the face of the earth abhor the violence, and follow a ‘Religion of Peace’. That’s our popular wisdom in a nutshell.
So let’s structure my rant a little and address the ‘popular wisdom’, because once again that phrase is proven as fallacious as ‘common sense’ (which just isn’t common), and jumbo shrimp (which should be one or the other):
Why are we, in the west so apologetic and guilt-ridden about these riots? Given all the evidence of local incitement and mass manipulation, do we really think we’re accountable for the anger, death and vandalism? Are these people really just responding to Skinner’s conditioning model – where we pressed a bar and these people rioted on command? Is that not an absurdly mindless, demeaning and patronizing interpretation of the events? And if we’re going to follow through with the psycho-babble, then lets establish that there’s no better way to reward the rioting, than for us, the west, to accept accountability, be apologetic and exhibit guilt for something that we have no control over and was initiated and agitated into a frenzy by others within those very countries. Even worse, if we then send foreign aid to reward the governments that neglected to control their local unrest, were derelict in applying legal action against their rioters, while demanding that we bear the blame.
Why would they not riot again on a whim? Their ego was rewarded, their crimes went unpunished, their pocketbook didn’t suffer, and they got to teach the west a lesson in humility.
Notice that there were never riots in response to multiple Muslim suicide bombers who murdered Muslim pilgrims in Iraq, or to IEDs that butchered Muslims during Ramadan, the Muslim time of peace. Those blasphemies swept by unnoticed, partly because there would be no rewards for rioting – nobody (especially not the Muslim perpetrators) is going to beat a mea culpa for those atrocities. A ‘Day of Rage’ needs an earthly reward, notably from a submissive, non-Muslim enemy.
So if we’re going to feel apologetic and guilt-ridden, let’s feel that way about our humiliating reflex that instantly drooped us into submission for something we had little control over, and was intentionally instigated by others.
‘Days of Rage’, that’s what these protests are called locally: They’re a carnival, culturally supported and encouraged in that part of the world. This isn’t the first time this year – it happens every few months. These massive, violent protests are a local ‘happening’, nurtured by religious leaders, and rewarded by a lack of dissenting outcries, and absence of local disciplinary action. The ‘Days of Rage’ are like a twisted Woodstock, except that they need little planning, no logistics, and can be repeated infinitely with the same fervour. They even produce kilometers of film and soundtrack that are waiting to be collated into a feature length movie.
The locals are accustomed to these events, and now there’s an added benefit: Not only are international camera crews poised to bestow eminence on the raging rioters and their ‘pious’ deeds, but the internet and social media are also witness to their brave acts. No brick throwing, flag burning and stomping, racist poster, or burnt effigy will go unrecorded. Everybody’s like the immortalized dancing hippies at Woodstock.
So why not stage a ‘Day of Rage’? It catches the news, slings otherwise unknown imams and politicians into the halls of Muslim fame, entrenches hate for the west (and the Jews, the Crusaders, and Israel), produces martyrs (who can be venerated as victims of the west, not deaths caused by wild rioters), and can be blamed on anybody but the local thugs (especially the Jews, the Crusaders, and Israel). Then, the catharsis of the riots can be followed by foreign aid to help recover from the riots.
But let’s get back to the orgy of picture-taking. Some of us in the west, gloss over the details in these pictures, and fail to see the smiling children in parents’ arms, and on parents’ shoulders. Who brings their children to a riot? Those who want their children to be taught the rapture of hate and rage. They bring their kids because it’s like a carnival where they can learn hate by example, with violent activities to entertain and amaze them. Then, they can grow up and participate more fully in the next Day of Rage.
‘The 1.2 billion moderate Muslims’ argument, is another logical western fallacy. We keep hearing that “1.2 billion Muslims around the world abhor such violence”. I think that’s just western simple-mindedness, gullibility and ignorance (someone more politically correct would call it viridity). Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of very nice Muslims, I work with them, celebrate with them, and enjoy their company. I think they’re as non-violent as I am.
But if 1.2 billion people thought their co-religionists’ violence was deplorable, inexcusable and unacceptable, then that behaviour would stop tomorrow. The pressure and momentum that 1.2 billion people can bring to bear on their own political and social culture is inescapable and decisive. A small minority of misbehaving brutes and thugs would be culturally flattened, drowned under the waves of pacifying peer pressure. That’s what 1.2 billion peaceful, moderate Muslims could do.
Since we’re not seeing anything like that, I think it’s safe to say that the 1.2 billion Muslims around the world clearly do not abhor the violence, or it wouldn’t exist. The question is, do they support it, or just ignore it and let it happen. Or is it something in between. (By the way, I used to argue passionately about the existence of the ‘moderate Muslim’ – I no longer do so).
“Prominent Muslims have stood against the violence”, I’m told. And yet the results are negligible. Perhaps because their stand was not as effective as it could be. For example, there’s a 600 page fatwa out there by Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Pakistani Islamic scholar and authority on Islam, that explains why suicide bombings and terrorism are forbidden. It was released in 2010 “in the context mainly of the recent spate of suicide atrocities carried out in Pakistan against a variety of civilian targets”. A twenty year history of suicide bombings outside Pakistan apparently didn’t count, or weren’t considered atrocities by this moderate ‘stand’ (nor by others’). The most famous Islamic scholars still declare martyrdom an exalted virtue. Consistent with that view are the frequent suicide bombings and terrorist murders of Muslims and non-Muslims conducted since the fatwa was issued. Also note that the perpetrators are still widely celebrated as martyred heroes.
Three years ago the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada issued a fatwa that states that acts of terror in Canada or the United States are forbidden. Apparently elsewhere in the world, it’s OK. Is this moderate?
This week in Australia, at the “Muslims Rise” conference (the Australian chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir), an 8 year old girl called on Islamic youth to back jihad, and fight for the restoration of the Islamic caliphate.
Even the ‘secular’ Palestinian Authority thought the best person to deliver a letter to the UN to launch their statehood campaign (last year), was Latifa Abu Hmeid, the mother of 4 convicted terrorists who cold-bloodedly murdered Israeli civilians. It was barely even reported in western media, and it certainly wasn’t protested by any moderate, non-violent Muslims.
Lastly, it’s being reported in Pakistan, that a man who declined to take part in protests over the anti-Islam film has been arrested and faces charges of blasphemy (which incidentally carries a death sentence in Pakistan). Do you think he’s being publicly supported by non-violent Muslims?
So where are the prominent Muslims that stand against the violence with their 1.2 billion supporters? They’re sure not evident, nor is their influence felt anywhere in the Muslim world.
I’ve been way too wordy, so I’ll close with a simple comparison. Last week we learned of a century-old fresco of Jesus in a church in Borja, Spain, which was ‘restored’ by an amateur artist, and now looks like “a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic.” If 21st century Christianity were like 21st century Islam, she would have been burned at the stake or decapitated for her blasphemous, disrespect. Catholics the world over, would have taken to the streets and rioted over the sacrilegious, irreverent, profaning of the representation of Jesus, and Spanish embassies worldwide would be smoldering ruins surrounded by dancing goons carrying burning crosses.
Instead, the non-profit foundation responsible for the church is considering a lawsuit over the botched restoration, while tourists come to the church to chuckle at it (and the church is now charging admission). Jesus is considered to be above all that.
Now that’s what 21st century civilization is about.
I’m glad to be living in Canada. Now we just have to do something about our western ‘droop to submission’ reflex.