Friday, November 11, 2011

Jihad Forever


by Mordechai Kedar

Background

Jihad is mentioned in the Kor'an many times, and Muslims are called to jihad for the sake of Allah "with their property and their lives", i.e. to sacrifice even that which is most precious to them in order to promote the goals of Islam and to impose them on the infidels "in order that the word of Allah will be uppermost, and the word of the infidel will be beneath."

Jihad is intended both to defend Islam against foreigners who tirelessly plot against it, and as an offensive operation to spread Islam and impose it by the sword, if needed, upon anyone who does not convert to Islam willingly. Muhammad is quoted thus: "I received a commandment to fight with the people until they testify that there is no G-d but Allah and that Muhammad is his emissary, pray and give zakat [charity] and if they do this, I will spare their blood and their property". After the death of Muhammad (632 CE), some of the tribes abandoned Islam, and the first caliphs waged bitter battles against them in order to force them to return to the bosom of Islam. Afterwards Bedouin armies burst out of the desert towards the fertile and rich countries of the Levant, conquered them with fury and forced millions of people to convert to Islam by the sword.

With the passing of years, and after the consolidation of the Islamic Empire in the conquered territories from Indonesia in the East to Morocco in the West, the emphasis evolved from conquest to management of the country, from the imposition of Islam to economic management. The Muslims needed the services of people of other ethnicities and faiths - Persians, Jews, Christians - for translation and scientific work: architects, engineers, astronomers, economists, chemists, and therefore they abandoned jihad against these people and preferred to leave them be

Modern Jihad

The Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Shi'ite Iran stirred up the idea of struggle against heresy in the Sunni world as well. In 1980 an Egyptian named Muhammad 'abd al-Salam Faraj published a book by the name of "al-Faridah al-Ghaiba", "The Hidden Commandment", which everyone avoids implementing. He was referring to the commandment of jihad. In his short but monumental book, the writer proves, according to Islamic sources, that it is incumbent upon each Muslim to live in a perpetual state of jihad against heretics, but not only against them: also against Muslims who serve the actions and even the words of heretics.

One year after the publication of this book the president of Egypt, Anwar al-Sadat, was murdered, and the prosecution attributed to Faraj a significant part of the incitement to murdering the president. In 1982 he was tried, convicted and executed for incitement to murder al-Sadat. The Egyptian government indeed eliminated Faraj, but did not succeed in putting to rest the idea that a Muslim is obligated to live in a state of constant, eternal jihad.

Jihad is a continuous and permanent rebellion against settling into a routine, against surrender to everyday needs, against compromising the goal, even temporarily. The leader of the Egyptian Jihad organization, which was established in order to support this idea, is Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy and substitute for Osama Bin Laden. They raised the idea of unending jihad to an international, global level

The Palestinian Version

The Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad was established in 1980, one year after the Iranian Revolution and seven years before the founding of Hamas, in order to implement Faraj's idea in Palestine. The battle in this case is against Israel, without any connection to its borders, since, according to the organization, the Jewish State has no right to exist at all. The ultimate goal of the organization is to establish a state according to Islamic law, upon the ruins of Israel, and along with Israel to eliminate all the other organizations, principally the PLO, which has stopped waging battle with Israel and has entered into negotiations with her.

Islamic Jihad even has ideological arguments with Hamas, because Hamas sees its purpose not only as active jihad against Israel but in a wider framework: the building of an Islamic society, education, welfare, Islamization of the public sphere, establishment of government institutions, even the establishment of a state, while the active jihad against Israel and her collaborators can - according to Hamas - wait if it is necessary. Jihad is not willing to accept "state building" in Gaza as a reason to suspend the battle, and this is the focal point of disagreement with the Hamas movement, which weighs the battle with Israel against constraints arising from being a governing movement, since June 2007, when it took control of the Gaza Strip by force.

Islamic Jihad also differs with Hamas on political matters: According to Islamic Jihad, because the Oslo Agreements were born in sin against Islam, the PLO and its institutions have no Islamic legitimacy, so they don’t compete for seats in its legislative assembly. On the contrary, the leaders of Hamas decided in 2005, after the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, that the time was right to pick the political fruit of their battle, in the form of seats in the legislative assembly, so they ran in the elections of January 2006 and won a majority of the seats. Islamic Jihad objects to any activity within the framework of the Palestinian Authority, which was born in the sin of recognition of Israel and signing the Oslo Accords, while Hamas, despite its objection to the Accords, didn't hesitate to take advantage of the institutions that were established as a result, in order to take control of the Palestinian arena.

Hamas weighs the timing of the battle with Israel on the changing balance of its interests: If, during a certain period, it's important to achieve relaxation with Israel in order to better base the control in Gaza, then the struggle against Israel can wait a little. Islamic Jihad is not willing to consider this, because for them the struggle is fundamental, absolute, existential and continuous, and supercedes everything else.

History of the Organization

The Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad was established by Dr. Fathi Shikaki in 1980, inspired by the Egyptian Jihad and the revolution of Khomeini in Iran. The beginning was in Egypt, at the University of the City of Zakazik, which is a center of radical Islamist activity. The founder, Dr. Shikaki, and his friend and later his successor Dr. Ramadan Abdallah Shalah were medical students at the time. It is important to emphasize that they were not poor, not ignorant and not unemployed, and so the founding of the organization and devout adherence to its principle of jihad can not be attributed to poverty, ignorance or unemployment; on the contrary: it is the educated and the doctors who are especially prominent within the organizations of Islamic struggle: Ayman Al-Zawahiri, from the Egyptian Jihad organization, Abd al-'Aziz al-Rantisi and Mahmud al-Zahhar, Hamas leaders - are all doctors, well-educated, not ignorant and not indigent.

After finishing his studies, Shikaki returned to Gaza, and began to establish the organization in order to implement the concept of jihad. The religious personality who gave the organization its "halachic" seal of approval was then Sheikh 'Abd al-'Aziz 'Odeh from the Jabaliya refugee camp. It's important to note that in the beginning of the 1980s Hamas did not yet exist as a militant movement. In Gaza there was an Islamic Charity movement, "al-Majma' al-Islami" which operated within the population similar to the style of the "Muslim Brotherhood" in order to build a Muslim society "from the bottom up". In the view of Islamic Jihad, this is a waste of time and resources, for all forces must be dedicated and directed to one sole goal, the ongoing and uncompromising battle with Israel, and any other goal - as important as it may seem, like education and welfare - is nothing but diversion of efforts and resources in the wrong direction.

With the breaking out of the Intifada in 1987 the activists of Islamic Jihad placed themselves at the front of the action. The people of "al-Majma'" joined in after a few days and established the "Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas", and until today the people of Islmaic Jihad accuse Hamas of being an opportunistic organization which "took a tramp" on the Intifada and took it over, while Islamic Jihad was the group that created it.

In 1988 Shikaki was exiled to Lebanon, where he began his connection with the Arab and Islamist interface, Syria and Iran, by means of Hizballah, which was based at the time in Lebanon as part of the battle with Israeli forces, which were deployed at the time in the South of the country.

Islamic Jihad copied the example of suicide missions that Hizballah developed, and implemented them in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. Its most prominent action was the double attack at the Sharon Junction in January 1995 in which 21 Israeli soldiers and one civilian were killed. Dr. Shikaki was eliminated in Malta nine months after the attack, and evil tongues claim that Israel was behind the elimination. His successor was Dr. Ramadan Abdallah Shalah, who minimizes his exposure in the world and prefers to take shelter in Damascus.

During the second Intifada the organization carried out more than 400 acts of terror which caused more than 140 Israeli fatalities and several hundred wounded. The organization's main stronghold was in Jenin, and this stronghold acted without interference until operation "Defensive Wall" in April 2002. The main operatives in Samaria were Iyyad Hadran, Wa'il 'Asaf, Asad Dana, Mahmoud Talba, Thabet Mardawi and 'Ali al-Safouri. The most prominent attack of the Jihad infrastructure in Samaria was that which Hanadi Jardat carried out at Maxim's Restaurant situated at the entrance to Haifa, in which 21 Israeli men, women and children were killed.

The organization also had a presence in the Hebron area, under the leadership of Mahmoud Sider and Diab Shwiki, who launched suicide attacks mainly in the Jerusalem area. The attack in the "Worshippers' Path" in Hebron, in which the division commander of Judea, Gen. Dror Weinbreg, was killed (November 2002) was inspired by Mahmud Sider.

International Involvement

The "Palestinian Islamic Jihad" organization caught the attention of radical haters of Israel, principal among them the Iranians. They took advantage of the fact that the organization doesn't have a social agenda or aspirations to rule, and they used it mainly in order to interfere with the order that the PLO was trying to impose on the territories of the Palestinian Authority. Today Iran is doing the same thing, but against Hamas, which has, in recent years - since it took control of Gaza in 2007 - turned into a ruling movement that has taken a break from jihad in order to fortify the systems of the state that it established in the Gaza Strip.

The money, weapons and missiles that Islamic Jihad has accumulated enables them to pose a severe challenge to Hamas: On one hand Islamic Jihad can upset normal life in Gaza by means of uncontrolled shooting into Israel, and while the Hamas government can - if it wants to - defeat the Jihad by vigorous and continuous action, Hamas would then be perceived as an "Israeli Security Organization" and would be subjected to media attacks similar to that which the PLO took, after signing security agreements with Israel. So the leaders of Hamas try to reach agreements with the heads of Islamic Jihad, such that on one hand, Hamas will be able to run the state of "Hamastan" in Gaza, and on the other hand freedom of action will be maintained and Hamas will not be accused of suppressing the "resistance".

External Agenda

Currently, Syria and Iran are desperately searching for ways to distract world attention from the worsening slaughter occurring in Syria, and there's nothing better than the well-known and recognized front which is Gaza. In recent months there is bad blood between Iran and Hamas because Hamas has refused to publicly support the Syrian regime, which is fighting against its citizenry for its survival. The Egyptian involvement in the Shalit exchange "outed" the regional agents that were stirring the pot - Iran and Turkey - and Hamas proved its capability to free more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, for which it reaped much approbation, at the expense of all other agents, including the PLO and Islamic Jihad.

The desire of the heads of Hamas to abandon Damascus and cross over to Cairo left Islamic Jihad as almost the only organization left available for a coalition with Iran / Hizballah / Syria in the Palestinian area, and so Israel's front is heating up, because for Israel to hurt Hamas is seen as the most desirable scenario to Iran and its satellites. In this way Iran can hurt Hamas without anyone being able to blame the Ayatollahs and their butcher friend from Damascus.

Israel must be wise in this situation, not only right. True, Hamas is not enthusiastically Zionist, however, in the situation in which Islamic Jihad is driven by the Syrians and Iranians to try to drag Israel into tough reactions that will harm Hamas, Israel must make every attempt to hurt Islamic Jihad instead, and to make it possible for Hamas to establish its Islamist state in Gaza. I'm not trying to give Hamas a "kosher certificate" but we must always consider the alternative: A government in Gaza that is capable of imposing law and order is better, even if it is not pleasant, than to allow factors which Iran and Syria control, to kill Jews in Ashkelon, Ashdod and the area surrounding Gaza, just so that the world will not see the fatalities in Homs, Hama, Latakia and Dar'a.

Our choice is not between the good guys and the bad guys, but between the bad guys and the worse guys. Not a simple choice, but that's how it is in the Middle East: we have to be firm and adjust our expectations to the miserable realities of the troubled area in which we are trying to establish a reasonable and fair country.

= = =

Dr. Mordechai Kedar
is an Israeli scholar of Arabic literature and a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University. He served for twenty-five years in IDF Military Intelligence, where he specialized in Islamic groups, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic press and mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Source:
The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel.
Translated from Hebrew to English by Sally.

Copyright -
Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Germans Stunned by Report on Forced Marriages


by Soeren Kern

A new report shows that thousands of young women and girls in Germany are victims of forced marriages every year.

Most of the victims come from Muslim families; many have been threatened with violence and even death.

The revelations have shocked the German public and will add to the ongoing debate in Germany over the question of Muslim immigration and the establishment of a parallel Islamic society there. The revelations will intensify an ongoing debate in Germany over Muslim immigration and the role of Islam there.

The 160-page report, entitled, "Forced Marriages in Germany: Numbers and Analysis of Counseling Cases," was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of the Family, and made public at a news conference in Berlin on November 9.

The problem of forced marriage is evidently far more widespread than previously believed.

The study -- the first and most detailed of its kind in Germany -- reveals that in 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 3,443 people sought help at counseling and social services centers across the country because they were being, or already had been, forced into marriage.

The vast majority of these victims are women or girls, although 6% are young men. Almost one-third of those forced into marriage in Germany were 17 years old or younger. Another 40% were between the ages of 18 and 21.

Many of the victims experienced extreme violence. More than half (70%) were beaten or otherwise physically abused to convince them to marry, and 27% were threatened with weapons or with death if they did not go through with the forced marriage.

The vast majority -- 83.4% -- of the victims of forced marriages were from Muslim households. Another 10% were Yazidi (a Kurdish religion) and 3.4% were Christians.

Almost all of the victims were from immigrant families, although one-third of the women and girls were born in Germany. The largest share of victims were from Turkey (23%) followed by Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Iraq and Afghanistan.

44% of the people threatened, or subjected to forced marriage, hold German passports.

The victims of forced marriage said it was their fathers who exerted the most pressure on them. The report says the educational level of the victims' fathers was below average, and nearly 90% of the victims' mothers had no formal education. In just over 6% of the cases the fathers had graduated from high school or had professional training.

The report says the primary motive for forced marriages is to "protect the image" of the family. In the case of women and girls, forced marriages are often used to stop unwanted friendships; in the case of boys, it was a reaction to the homosexuality of a child, the report says.

Germany is home to an estimated 4.3 million Muslims, including some 3.5 million Turks. Many Germans are concerned about the emergence of a parallel Muslim society in the country.

A book published in September 2011 revealed that the spread of Islamic Sharia law in Germany is far more advanced than previously thought, and that German authorities are "powerless" to do anything about the Muslim shadow justice system in Germany.

Another 236-page book, entitled "Judges Without Law: Islamic Parallel Justice Endangers Our Constitutional State," which was authored by Joachim Wagner, a German legal expert and former investigative journalist for ARD German public television, says Sharia courts are now operating in all of Germany's big cities.

This "parallel justice system" is undermining the rule of law in Germany, Wagner says, because Muslim arbiters-cum-imams are settling criminal cases out of court without the involvement of German prosecutors or lawyers before law enforcement can bring the cases to a German court.

Settlements reached by the Muslim mediators often mean perpetrators are able to avoid long prison sentences, while victims receive large sums in compensation or have their debts cancelled, in line with Sharia law, according to Wagner. In return, they are required to make sure their testimony in court does not lead to a conviction.

German police do investigate cases involving serious crimes. But parallel to that, special Muslim arbitrators, also known as "peace judges," are commissioned by the families concerned to mediate and reach an out-of-court settlement.

Germans have also been riled by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly warned Turkish immigrants against integrating into German society and has said that Germany's insistence that immigrants who want to live in Germany must learn the German language is "against human rights."

In October 2010, the German government announced a new measure that would punish immigrants in Germany who do not attend "integration courses" to help them assimilate into German society. The law calls on authorities to verify that immigrants applying to extend their stay in Germany have taken German language classes as well as a course on German values and laws. Failure to follow these courses would mean the applicant's request could be denied.

In July 2011, an additional new law went into effect in Germany making it a criminal act punishable by up to five years in prison for people who force others into marriage. Forced marriage had already been ruled illegal under federal statutes that outlaw aggravated coercion, but the new law makes the prohibition more specific.

In Berlin, Germany's Family Minister Kristina Schröder said: "Those who force their children against their will to marry someone they do not love, or who is a complete stranger, are committing brutal violence against them."

In a country stifled by decades of multicultural ideology, however, it remains to be seen whether Germany's political and judicial establishment will actually enforce the law.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.

Source: http://www.hudson-ny.org/2575/german-forced-marriages

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Multicultural Lie


by Bruce Bawer

A number of books have criticized multiculturalism, but even if you’ve already read a bunch of them, Salim Mansur​’s Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism is still very much worth your attention. Mansur, a syndicated columnist who teaches political science at the University of Western Ontario and whose previous books include Islam’s Predicament: Perspectives of a Dissident Muslim, approaches multiculturalism from the distinctive viewpoint of a naturalized Canadian citizen who is also a secular Muslim born on the Indian subcontinent. At once very knowledgeable about the history of multiculturalism and richly steeped in the long tradition of Western ideas about individual liberty (of which he rightly recognizes multiculturalism as a profound philosophical violation), Mansur is also a highly effective polemicist. Although awash in learned references to thinkers ranging from Plato and Aristotle to Karl Popper and Friedrich Hayek​, Mansur’s book is eminently accessible, and should be of interest to any reader who is concerned about the threat that multiculturalism poses to the Western heritage of freedom.

It’s significant that Mansur is Canadian, because Canada, as he puts it, was “the first major democracy to experiment with designing a society on the basis of multiculturalism.” He recounts the origins of this policy, which took shape largely as a response to growing pressure for Quebec’s independence (or, at the very least, for radical revision of its position in the Canadian confederation). This pressure led to Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s 1963 establishment of a Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, which in turn eventuated in the formulation of an official multicultural policy in 1968 by the government of Pierre Trudeau​. Thus began Canada’s shift from a liberal democratic society that supported individual rights to a nation that placed the rights of the group above those of the individual – a process that reached its culmination under Brian Mulroney​, during whose prime ministership, Mansur maintains, “Canada became the first western liberal democracy to adopt multiculturalism as the defining characteristic of the country.”

Multiculturalism, Mansur reminds us, was born in a time when the nature of immigration to North America had changed radically. A century ago, relocating from the Old World to the New was an expensive proposition; people left the lands of their birth “with some certainty of never returning”; they put the past behind them and began a new life, grateful to receive opportunities not offered to them back home. Yet all that changed, changed utterly – and a big reason for the change, as Mansur shrewdly points out, was “the arrival of wide-body aircraft,” which ended up “blurr[ing] the difference between immigrants and migrant workers.” All too many of today’s so-called immigrants to the West, after all, are not truly immigrants in the traditional sense but are, rather, people “situated in two countries…only a few short hours removed from their native lands.” They don’t break their ties to the old country, don’t undergo a dramatic psychological adjustment of the sort that was once a natural part of the immigrant experience. Nor do the countries to which they “immigrate” expect of them what they used to expect of newcomers from abroad: today’s “immigrants” can become citizens of a Western country even if they utterly despise its core values and spend much of their time back in the places they “immigrated” from.

If Mansur is so exasperated at “immigrants” who fail to embrace their new Western homelands, it is because he himself has a profound – and often eloquently articulated – appreciation for the West. Indeed this book is, among other things, a love letter to Western civilization, a civilization unique for its emancipation of the individual from the “collectivist hold of tribe, caste, church, nation, class and any ideology that made of him a mere cog in a wheel.” Mansur – who (admirably) despises collectivism, and has no wish to be a cog in any wheel – reminds us that the idea of individualism is alien to every other civilization on the planet, and that it was “only through prolonged and sustained contact with the West” that the idea took root in non-Western societies.

If Delectable Lie is a love letter to the West, it is especially a love letter to Canada from a refugee who witnessed “terror and savage killings” back in his native country and will forever be thankful to the Great White North for providing him with a refuge and “the opportunity to begin a new life.” His Canadian identity is so important to Mansur, indeed, that he eventually “came to feel uncomfortable with the notion of being a hyphenated Canadian.” For if his Indian identity was something he had “inherited at birth without any effort on my part,” his Canadian identity was the product of “choice and conscious effort.” Being Canadian meant “embrac[ing] the West and freely assimilat[ing] its distinctive culture”; it meant “recogniz[ing], as I did with a mixture of awe and gratitude, that the West represents the idea of a civilization nurtured by the values of the Enlightenment….its politics shaped by the democratic impulse of revolutions against hereditary rule, its philosophy influenced by the development of the scientific method of controlled experiments and tests, its culture open and embracing of new ideas.”

Moving sentiments; stirring words. In Mansur’s view, it is a matter of deep moral urgency that a new immigrant to the West completely and sincerely embrace his new national identity. Mansur meditates sensitively and at length on the importance of being a citizen, noting that “while other cultures have borrowed this idea, it is only in the West that citizenship is vested in a free individual with rights and responsibilities,” and lamenting that Western passports are now so freely handed out to “immigrants” who have little or no emotional attachment to their new countries and no real concept of the deeper meanings – and obligations – attached to the idea of citizenship. In the Western world, as Mansur sees it, one’s identity as citizen is, or should be, paramount; and one of the deleterious aspects of multiculturalism is that it “works to weaken or dissolve citizenship identity by suggesting that the cultural identities which immigrants bring with them deserve to be recognized and treated with equal respect.” This destructive tendency, he urges, must be countered as fervently as possible: “the principle of citizenship with its rights and responsibilities needs to be reaffirmed and protected. People need to be reminded repeatedly what it means to be a citizen in a modern secular state.”

For Americans, this is an illuminating book in many ways. Some of us tend to think of Canada (when we think of it at all) as a country pretty much like our own, where the only real difference is that the people pronounce “out” and “about” differently; but of course Canadians not only have their own history but also their own distinctive ways of thinking about politics, culture, and value – many of which, indeed, have taken shape in reaction to American ways of thinking. So it was with multiculturalism, which in the beginning was viewed as an effective way of distinguishing Canada from the United States, of whose “melting pot” philosophy many bien pensant Canadians heartily disapproved. Canada, they insisted, would not be a “melting pot” but a beautiful mosaic, a melange, a smorgasbord – yet instead of sharpening Canada’s profile vis-à-vis its neighbor to the south, the new policy, Mansur complains, only served to make a “weak national identity….even weaker.”

Still, he suggests, it was not until 9/11 that it became fully clear just how much of a threat multiculturalism poses to free societies. For multiculturalism, he explains, turns out to be nothing less than “the slippery slope that leads to the acceptance or appeasement of the politics of jihad within a liberal democracy.” The kind of liberty we have enjoyed in countries like the U.S. and Canada, Mansur reminds us, is a glorious exception in human history: in most times and places – and certainly in Communist and Islamic societies – the human individual has been “a cog in a machine…a means to an end as defined by the collective. This is the politics of jihad, which has been the normal condition for humankind in history, and only for brief tantalizing moments in history has the promise of history, as what ought to be the condition for humankind, appeared on history’s stage.”

While the phenomenon of creeping jihad has quite clearly exposed the danger of multiculturalism, however, Western politicians and multiculturalist ideologues have decided perversely – “like dope addicts” – that the answer “is more multiculturalism,” including gradually giving in to demands for parallel systems of sharia law, in the absurd hope that if Islamic demands are met, “Muslims will respond by respecting European values.” Yet as Mansur underscores, Islamists “are not ideologically motivated to seek coexistence on terms set by others; for them, coexistence means setting the terms for others on the basis of shari’ah values that are incompatible with liberal values.” Indeed.

“The world is naturally diverse,” Mansur observes. “But the moral strength of liberalism comes from its refusal to make a fetish of this diversity. The liberal vision sees above and beyond diversity in respecting individual rights, and by defending liberty on the basis of securing individual rights liberalism acknowledges that the naturally given diversity finds its best unfettered expression through the lives of individuals as free agents in history.” Delectable Lie is the testimony of a man who has seen the world from both sides – the free and the unfree – and who, after doing some very serious and responsible thinking about liberty and identity, has come to understand exactly why Western freedom and multiculturalism are mutually incompatible. It would behoove those of us who have been fortunate enough to live our entire lives in the free West to heed his wisdom, and defend our liberties as zealously as he does in the pages of this invaluable book.

Bruce Bawer

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/11/10/the-multicultural-lie/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Depravity of the Homicide Bomber’s Recruiters


by David Meir-Levi

One of the 1,027 Arab prisoners released in exchange for Gilad Shalit was a young woman named Wafa al-Biss. Wafa lived with her parents in the Gaza Strip and was engaged to be married. In 2004, she suffered severe and life-threatening burns in a kitchen fire accident in her parents’ home. As a result, her fiancé promptly rejected her because she was now ugly.

In 2004-2005, Wafa’s life was saved by doctors at Soroka hospital in Beersheba, where over a period of six months she underwent a series of successful treatments for the massive burns that she suffered in the kitchen explosion. She developed a good relationship with the medical team. Israelis at Soroka, where she had spent three months undergoing treatment for her burns, treated her with “respect and dignity…..They had been very kind,” she told Judith Miller, who interviewed her in 2007 while she was still in prison. Her family was so appreciative that they wrote a letter of thanks and commendation to the doctors. It said “the care was wonderful and warm.” A Gazan gynecologist with whom she consulted between treatments was even more effusive in his letter to the Jerusalem Post: “I have nothing but praise for the doctors, nurses and other medical staff at Soroka hospital. They show compassion, sympathy and kindness.”

In between treatments, she returned to Gaza with a medical pass to allow her to enter Israel uninhibited at the Erez crossing point from the Gaza Strip in order to return to Soroka hospital for the necessary follow-up treatments.

With her life saved and her facial features partially restored, her homecoming might have inaugurated a return to normal life. But rejected by her fiancé, she had little hope of marriage and thus no hope of bearing children or raising a family of her own. Wafa’s society is an Arab, Muslim and strongly patriarchal society, one in which there is a deeply embedded inequality for women. It is a society which denies individual women the freedom to define their own future. For most women in Gazan Arab society, having no prospect for marriage renders a woman a source of shame to her family, and a financial burden as well. These bleak circumstances seem to have plunged Wafa into a severe depression, and she told her parents that she was contemplating suicide.

Word of her depressed emotional state reached Fatah recruiters for homicide bombers in the Gaza Strip. When they became aware of her mental state, members of the Fatah-controlled el-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade pounced. “They hunted me down like prey,” she recalled.

Al-Biss gave her Israeli interrogators a chilling account of the cynical tactics used by her terrorist mentor, “Abul Khair,” from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. “Abul Khair kept calling,” she said. “He told me a guy they were counting on had backed out of an operation; they needed me. ‘Look at your future,’ they told me. ‘No one will ever marry you.’”

They preyed upon her distressed emotional state and urged her to become a homicide bomber so that she could die with “honor,” as opposed to merely committing suicide and thus dying with “shame”. Since she wanted to commit suicide, they argued, she might as well do it in a way that would bring glory to herself and her whole family.

They enticed her with promises of Muslim paradise, where her beauty would be restored for all eternity; and they accosted her with brow-beating sessions where she was warned again and again that if she lived she would never know happiness, never find a husband, never have a family, and thus be an eternal source of shame to herself, to her parents, and to her people; so she might as well choose a death of glory and honor. She asked if God would grant her anything she wanted in paradise. “Would he give me new skin?” “Yes,” Abul Khair told her. “I wanted to believe him …. He looked religious, like someone you could trust. He told me I was very brave. He made me feel important.”

Thus they recruited her to die as a “martyr” and take many of the “accursed Zionists” with her , even though these “accursed Zionists” would in all likelihood include other Gazan Arab patients at the Israeli hospital, the most certainly the doctor who saved her life, and nurses and other attendants, some of whom were Israeli Arab Muslims working at the hospital, who made her sojourn at Soroka hospital so comfortable.

The recruiters even convinced her parents, who eventually encouraged her “martyrdom”. A “farewell” video clip was taped in her home with the consent of her parents, and when it was time to put on her explosive-laden garments that weighed 10 kg (22 lbs), her own mother helped her dress and fixed a broken zipper.

On June 20, 2005, Wafa entered the Erez crossing ostensibly to travel to Soroka hospital for further treatment; but this time she hid an explosives belt in her underclothes, intending to carry out a suicide bombing at the hospital.

Her heavy clothing aroused suspicion at the crossing and when the explosive belt was revealed, she attempted to detonate it. The detonator failed to function.

Under questioning Wafa revealed that she had been instructed by the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade to use her personal medical authorization documents to make her way through the Erez crossing without the usual careful inspections, and then carry out the suicide attack in a crowded portion of the Israeli hospital.

An NBC video clip captured the incident at Erez Crossing. Notice on the video how she screams in anguish because the bomb does not detonate. But then later she weeps and pleas for clemency protesting that she repents of her choices and actions.

One could perhaps feel some sympathy for her, vulnerable prey to the terrorist recruiters who exploited her depression and brow-beat her into submitting to a mission of suicide and mass murder. But now, after 6 years of imprisonment, she returns to her home in Gaza, hosts grade school children at her home, and urges them to: “…walk the same path we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs.” The children respond with cheers and, waving Palestinian flags, they chant: “We will give our souls and our blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give our souls and our blood for you, oh Palestine.”

Now she is the recruiter, the one who preys upon the vulnerable, in this case impressionable young children, whom she prepares for their future recruitment into the ranks of homicide bombers and mass murderers.

David Meir-Levi

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/11/10/the-depravity-of-the-homicide-bomber%e2%80%99s-recruiters/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Searching for one Palestinian Moderate


by Isi Leibler

The Bible tells us that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah despite Abraham’s intercession, after he was unable to identify even ten righteous people in these cities.

Alas, I believe that if one were to review the entire spectrum of Palestinian political, religious and intellectual leadership, one would be unable to identify even a single righteous or moderate Palestinian leader, committed towards achieving a genuine peace.

We are repeatedly being told that President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are our genuine peace partners and that we are unlikely to find more moderate Palestinians with whom to negotiate.

Yet Abbas, who obtained his “PhD” justifying holocaust denial:

  • refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, insists that the “occupation” dates back to 1948 and even denies any Jewish link with the Holy Land.
  • sanctifies mass murderers of Israeli women and children by bestowing honor on the killers and granting state pensions to their families.
  • rules over an authority in which the controlled media, mosques and state educational system incite hatred against Jews and deny Israel’s right to exist.
  • endorses the execution of any Palestinian who sold land to a Jew.
  • assures his people that any future Palestinian state will be entirely cleansed of Jews.
  • is committed to reuniting with the genocidal Islamic Hamas whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews and the elimination of Israel.

Besides refusing to negotiate with Israel, Abbas effectively rejected offers made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to cede 95% of the territories conquered in response to Jordan’s offensive against Israel.

Indeed, the more Israelis concede, the more Abbas demands. Today he has escalated the issue of so-called Arab right of return of refugees to Palestine as a non-negotiable demand, despite realizing that this would bring an end to Jewish sovereignty which no Israeli government could contemplate.

On the surface, the PA appears moderate compared to Hamas. But their objectives are identical. Abbas speaks with a forked tongue and is vague about his long-term goals when he addresses non-Arab audiences, whereas Hamas is completely honest and boasts that it will never negotiate and will continue to fight until the Jewish state is destroyed.,

Some PA leaders are now becoming less inhibited. Only a few weeks ago, a prominent Fatah leader explicitly proclaimed that a Palestinian State would merely represent the first stepping stone towards the ultimate objective of eliminating the Jewish state. Unfortunately, all opinion polls demonstrate that the Palestinian masses have been brainwashed and endorse these views.

Professor Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Bir Zeit University, was hailed by many naive Israelis as a Palestinian model of moderation. Dr. Yossi Beilin referred to him as a living testimony to the fact that Oslo was not a failure.

Nearly 10 years ago I challenged the bona fides of Nusseibeh, pointing out that he was appointed by, reported to, and accepted instructions from Arafat. I observed that political dissidents under Arafat’s authority had extraordinarily limited lifespans and suggested that Nusseibeh’s role was to provide the PA with a moderate face to the Western world. His amiable and soothing approach was obviously designed to revive Israel's fond memories of the "irreversible peace process" and Arafat’s cynical "peace of the brave".

Whereas Nusseibeh did in fact call for an end to violence and condemned boycotts, he was also recorded in a Palestinian television program expressing sympathy and praising a militant mother of a suicide bomber whom he referred to as "a soldier dying in battle". He always took care not to pass judgment on suicide bombers, merely questioning the benefits of the strategy rather than its morality.

He was often bracketed with Arafat’s Jerusalem representative, the late Faisal Husseini, who was also considered a “moderate" throughout most of his life. Yet following his death, Husseini was quoted in an Egyptian newspaper interview, stating "we must distinguish our strategies and long-term goals from the political phased goals which we are compelled to accept due to international pressures". The "ultimate goal is the liberation of all historic Palestine… Oslo has to be viewed as a Trojan horse".

In a lengthy article recently published on the Al Jazeera website, Nusseibeh set aside his cloak of moderation and, like Faisal Hussein, demonstrated that despite the sophisticated chatter, he was no more moderate than any of his Palestinian counterparts.

His article is a passionate opposition towards recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. The arguments he employs, arguing that Jews should be the only people denied the right to statehood, testify to the fact that his moderation is a sham.

He warns that were Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state, it would become an “apartheid” entity. Not only would Israel's Arabs be stripped of their citizenship and other rights, but they would also be killed like the ancient Canaanites and Jebusites were by the Israelites according to the Bible.

He conveniently ignores that Israel as a Jewish state was the rationale for its creation by the United Nations in 1947. He also overlooks the inconsistency that the new Palestinian entity would be governed by sharia law and cleansed of any Jews and that there is no Arab country which remotely extends similar rights to minorities comparable to Israel.

Furthermore he has the gall to condemn Jewish intolerance towards other faiths in Jerusalem, disregarding the fact that it was only when Jerusalem came under Jewish sovereignty in 1967, that freedom of religious association and worship were extended for the first time to all religions – in dramatic contrast to the manner in which the Jordanians ruled the city.

Adopting the Abbas UN approach, Nusseibeh also reneged on his previous call to Palestinians to cease promoting the right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel. He actually insisted – hold your breath – that 7 million diaspora Palestinians are entitled to repatriation or compensation.

Nusseibeh’s turnaround reaffirms that there is not a single Palestinian leader of political, religious, or intellectual distinction who could be described as a moderate and would be willing to support a negotiated settlement to achieve genuine peace deal with the Jewish state.

And in this insane Alice in Wonderland global environment, we are being told to deal with these bigots as though they were genuine peace partners.

The reality is that appeasing these hypocrites, far from bringing us closer to peace, merely embolden the radicals who confront us with ever escalating demands which few of the original architects of Oslo – certainly not Yitzhak Rabin – would ever have conceded.

To the world and those calling on us to continue providing unilateral concessions - which without exception weakened our position and encouraged our adversaries - I make one challenge: Please identify one single Palestinian leader or intellectual who genuinely advocated moderation and was not assassinated.

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post

Isi Leibler

Source: http://wordfromjerusalem.com/?p=3733

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Military Intervention in the Arab Spring


by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Since the overthrow of Qaddafi in Libya by the NATO-backed forces of the National Transitional Council, many analysts have speculated as to whether this development could ultimately hasten the downfall of two other regimes in the Middle East: namely, Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria and Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime in Yemen.

Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of Qaddafi's death, reports emerged from Syria of more intense anti-Assad rallies across the country, amid a crackdown by the security forces that killed 25 people, mostly in the central city of Homs and the city of Hama to the north. The argument goes that because the protestors have been emboldened by the death of Qaddafi, the regimes in Syria and Yemen will collapse sooner. Is such reasoning sound?

In a word: No.

For there has been one factor underlying the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Ben Ali in Tunisia, and Qaddafi in Libya: namely, military intervention, which can be domestic, foreign, or both.

In Libya, of course, this principle translated to foreign military support from NATO as well as countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, primarily via an aerial bombardment campaign against Qaddafi's forces. Qatar played a key role in providing backing to rebel Islamist militias opposed to Qaddafi, now vying for control with other militias from Misrata - alarmed about the Islamist presence in the country's capital - for the harbor and airports in Tripoli.

No one can reasonably claim that Qaddafi would not have won the civil war and would now have the country securely under his control had there been no foreign military intervention back in March. Thus, outside military support was crucial for driving back Qaddafi's forces from Benghazi and in the end for the regime change we have now witnessed.

In Tunisia, where the unrest across the Middle East and North Africa first began, it is often forgotten that Ben Ali (then prime minister) had been brought to power in November 1987 via a coup d'état, under the pretext of medical reports claiming that Habib Bourguiba was medically unfit to continue ruling as president.

Bourguiba was responsible for secularist policies in the aftermath of Tunisia's independence from France (including textbooks that teach secularism and encourage students to look towards Europe as a model for enlightenment), and Ben Ali's presidency was largely a continuation of this secularist legacy, albeit under much more authoritarian rule - despite promises otherwise.

Sensing the president's unpopularity in the wake of mass demonstrations in Tunisia after the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, the military effectively asked Ben Ali to leave by demonstrating that it would not be willing to crack down on protests by force. Ben Ali therefore fled the country. Since his departure, the military has decided to withdraw from the political scene, hence the free elections for the transitional Constituent Assembly that is expected to lead onto general elections within a year.

Likewise, the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt was a de facto coup, since the military has been in charge since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952. Unlike Tunisia, however, the military seems intent on at least retaining a prominent role in the running of the country. Signs of this trend include the imprisonment and torture of bloggers and activists, the military's effectively orchestrated attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo, and the ongoing brutal crackdown on demonstrations, particularly those held by Coptic Christians in protest against the aggressive attacks on their community at the hands of Islamists.

As Raymond Ibrahim has documented, the Egyptian state media have engaged in a systematic campaign of deception to portray the military's massacre of dozens of Coptic protestors in Maspero, Cairo, as an act of self-defense against supposedly aggressive Christians. Parliamentary elections this month may only make the situation worse, for while the military will probably continue to run the show on matters of foreign relations, Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood could well be given control of matters like religious instruction in schools.

Having outlined the common thread of the role of the military in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, it becomes easier to understand how events may develop elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.

In Syria, elite, Alawite-led military units remain fiercely loyal to the president, and the protestors and army defectors (the latter forming the 'Free Syrian Army') are no match for their weaponry and manpower. It is not therefore surprising that Syrian protestors have increasingly called for the imposition of a no-fly zone.

In Yemen, on the other hand, the military is divided: some elite units like the well-trained 'Republican Guard Units' are still fighting for Saleh, while other troops have joined rebel General Ali Ahmar and the protestors in the capital of Sanaa and the surrounding areas. Both sides are embroiled in a web of alliances with Islamist militants in the country, and there is the additional complication that factions opposed to Saleh are even more disunited than in Syria.

The Shi'a Houthi rebels of the north and the southern separatists- both traditional opponents of the president- have taken advantage of Saleh's entanglement with Ahmar to focus on their own limited goals that do not necessarily require the overthrow of the current regime in Sanaa. The southern separatists in particular are beginning to see an opportunity, and in the southern seaport of Aden more are beginning to question whether it is worthwhile to remain part of the rest of Yemen.

Hence, it is to be expected that both Syria and Yemen will remain in a protracted period of sustained civil disorder and unrest for quite some time, unless there is some form of decisive military intervention from within or from outside.

On a concluding note, it is worth pointing to what has transpired in both Iran and Bahrain.

In the former, the military and Revolutionary Guards have remained completely and ruthlessly loyal to the regime, so the protests were always doomed to fail in 2009 and this year.

Bahrain, on the other hand, saw decisive foreign military intervention on behalf of the ruling monarchy from the Gulf Cooperation Council- including the recruitment of troops from Pakistan- to suppress unrest this year, with the result being that the situation has largely been calmed amid smaller-scale protests at least for the short term, while empowering Shi'a extremist factions like al-Haq, a development that could create a potential long-term source of instability.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and an intern at the Middle East Forum.

Source: http://www.meforum.org/3094/military-intervention-arab-spring

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Concept of Brotherhood in Islam


by Harold Rhode

With the end of the Cold War, a new enemy emerged, Radical Islamic Fundamentalism, made up of Islamic extremists, terrorists and the states that support them. If we are to counter them at all, we must help to understand them as they understand themselves.

In their worldview, they see themselves first as Muslims; as such, they are not loyal to any geographic entity. The world, in their eyes, is roughly divided into two groups: the "Abode of Islam" [Dar al-Islam], and the "Abode of War" [Dar al-Harb] -- or the world which is not yet Muslim but eventually, they believe, should and will be. If they feel any sense of territorial loyalty, it is to the Abode of Islam, the places where Muslims live: "The "Nation of Islam" [Ummah]. In these two worlds, which do not have geographic borders, Islam is not only a religion, but the common political – almost familial -- bond that unites all Muslims.

Historically, the term "Abode of Islam" has meant: Those territories over which Muslims either rule or have ruled; or where Muslims predominate but are wrongly ruled by Non-Muslims. During the past 50 years, however, this definition has been modified to include: a) Those countries whose rulers claim to be Muslims but, in the eyes of the radical Islamists, are apostates; [1] and b) New territories, such as Europe, to which Muslims have been immigrating since the end of the World War II, and where they now form a significant part of the population. If present demographic trends continue, Europe promises to be significantly, if not predominantly, Muslim by the end of this century, and therefore, rightfully in their eyes, part of the "Abode of Islam."

As there are, from this perspective, only two peoples in the world – Muslims and non-Muslims -- Islam teaches that non-Muslims are also one nation [millah] united against the Muslims.[2] . Muslims, whether observant or secular, not only have a strong affinity toward each other, but assume that non-Muslims have the same strong affinity toward each other as well. Although non-Muslims make distinctions among the many peoples and religions of the non-Muslim world, most Muslims, on a deep level, see non-Muslims as one unified people -- whose long term interests are inimical to those of the Muslims.[3]

Whereas the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], for instance, cultivates political and religious solidarity among all Muslims, regardless of the countries in which they live, one cannot imagine a similar organization in the West of Christians, most of whom seem divided into different branches of Christianity – from and Roman Catholicism to scores of Protestant offshoots. Moreover, Western Christians seem not to care unduly about the plight of their co-religionists in Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Lebanon, or anywhere else in the Muslim world, including even Bethlehem and Nazareth.

If one compares this view of the world to that of the Jews for their people worldwide, although Jews show a deep concern and sympathy for Jews everywhere, very few, if any, are prepared to overlook or rationalize criminal behavior in other Jews: when Baruch Goldstein, for example, shot and killed almost 30 Muslims praying at the grave of the patriarch Abraham [4] in 1994, most Jews were ashamed and outraged, and openly condemned Goldstein.

In the Muslim world, however, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan and other Muslim leaders -- in keeping with what seems to be a cultural inability to admit wrongdoing or apologize for anything -- seem proud to express their solidarity with the Turkish IHH terrorists who were part of the Mavi Marmara Flotilla that tried to break a legal naval blockade; with the Egyptians after the August 2011 attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo, or with the terrorist group, Hamas.

No Muslim leader has yet apologized or expressed any remorse for the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001; for the bombing of the Jewish center in Buenos Aires, or for pushing a wheelchair-ridden man into the sea – all non-Israeli and non-military targets. Erdoğan has even said there is no such thing as Islamic terrorism. Does this mean that whatever Muslims do, no matter how awful, cannot be considered terrorism because if Muslims do it in the name of Allah or Islam, that makes it right?

As for non-Muslims living in the Muslim world, they can easily attain equality and acceptance from their fellow Muslims by converting to Islam. As kinship is not based on blood or ethnic ties, as in the West, but above all on religious identity -- irrespective of the level of religious observance -- their earlier, non-Muslim, origins will be quickly forgotten. To be a true Arab, Turk, Iranian, or Kurd, all that is required is to be a Muslim.

This view may account for why Middle Eastern Christians seem to conclude they have no future in the Middle East, and have been emigrating to the West. They apparently see that in the end, the Muslims do not look at them as equals -- as we are currently witnessing in the ongoing massacre of Christians in Egypt, Sudan and Iraq -- and that there exists a huge, permanent glass ceiling that prevents them from advancing in their and their ancestors' countries of birth.

Israel, a small non-Muslim country in the middle of the Muslim world, is in the same situation as the Christians. No matter what it does -- simply because it is not Muslim – Israel will always be regarded as an outsider. If the only way to really belong is to be Muslim, Israel can never be fully accepted by its neighbors in that part of the world. Being Muslim, therefore, is as much a political identity as a religious one.

The same holds true for non-Muslims in the US and the West. Unless the Muslim world undergoes to major revolution in its thinking, we shall always be regarded as outsiders. Although we might have amicable relationships, Muslims will always regard us with suspicion: When the chips are down, they believe, they will be on one side and the non-Muslims on the other – supporting their own, non-Islamic "brothers" just as the Muslims would support theirs.

Muslims understand Western support for Israel, or Western concern for the plight of the Christians in Lebanon or Iraq as a natural and unchangeable form of religious brotherhood -- like theirs. When Westerners try to prove the Muslims mistaken by citing Western support for the Bosnian Muslims, whom Westerners tried to save from being slaughtered by their Christian neighbors, Muslims seem to have great difficulty making sense out of why the Westerners "really" did this. It simply does not conform to their view of Muslim solidarity vs. non-Muslim solidarity. Muslims, therefore, either choose to ignore Western support for their brothers, or dismiss Westerners who have aided Muslims in distress as being part of some deeper plot against the Muslim world.

Any alliance between a Western country and a Muslim one needs to be seen in this context.

No matter how hard non-Muslim powers plead with them to do otherwise, Muslim countries will never see themselves as true friends of the non-Muslim world. Regrettably, the Islamic concept of non-Muslim brotherhood, or millah, means that the Muslims and the West will continue to be at odds with one another, unless the Muslims are forced to re-evaluate their religious sources, most likely as the result of a massive military loss.

In the US, where people of different ethnic and religious groups might feel a lack of solidarity toward others of different backgrounds, all Americans are nevertheless considered equal before the law. For non-Muslims in the Muslim world, unfortunately, this is not what occurs. Non-Muslims are, at best, tolerated, "protected" not-quite-guests, who, under Islamic Shari'a Law, are subject to a different set of regulations and expectations that place severe limitations on their ability rise to the highest political and social levels.

Even though, throughout much of the twentieth century, most of the Muslim world seemed to Westerners to have abandoned its Islamic identity in favor of national identities -- such as Arabic, Turkish, or Iranian -- Islamic identity apparently continued underneath as an essential component of identity. Loyalty, for a large number of Muslims -- and most significantly for the Islamists -- is still owed to the amorphous concept of the Muslim Nation, or Ummah. As the Muslim prophet Muhammad said, "All Muslims belong to one people, the only difference among them is in piety." For Muslims throughout the centuries, this feeling of brotherhood, [5] of belonging to one people – not only to a religion -- is so deeply engrained that today it even permeates the world view of secular Muslims, as well.[6]

Even though Muslims feel a sense of brotherhood toward each other, it does not mean that all Muslims get along well together. Islamic history is filled with examples of how the Muslims have failed because they refused to recognize each other as brothers and members of the same people. The demand from their prophet -- and, later, political and religious leaders -- again and again that they get along together indicates that they did not. In general Arabs cannot stand Persians, who look down on Turks; Shi'ites fear Sunnis; Sunnis intimidate Shi'ites; most look down on Sufis, and so on.

As in the Iran-Iraq War, or every week on the streets of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, many Muslims have no problem inflicting murder and mayhem upon their Muslim brothers. More Muslims have possibly been killed by their fellow Muslims than by non-Muslims. In the West, however, one is judged by one's actions, not by one's thoughts; but in Islam, if the intent of the killer can be interpreted by Islamic Shari'a Law as furthering the cause of Islam, murdering one's own people – or sometimes even family members -- is not only considered permissible but even at times praiseworthy.

On occasion, Muslims have sided with non-Muslims against their fellow Muslims.[7] A few years ago, for instance, as the situation in southern Iraq deteriorated -- largely because of Iranian-armed-and-backed militias reaping havoc in the area -- the Iraqi Shi'ite Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, sent Iraqi forces to clean it up. By doing so, he signaled that he had chosen to side with the non-Muslim Americans who had liberated his country from tyranny, rather than with his fellow Shi'ite (though non-Arab) Iranians. Despite the animosity and hatred toward each other, however, the reflexive reaction of most Muslims seems to be to side with each other against the non-Muslims -- a proclivity that has major political ramifications for the non-Muslim world.

One way of understanding the Islamic concept of brotherhood operates is to look, as a parallel, at how the American Mafia operates. Each Mafia family is independent, although the various families often engage in internal warfare. To the outside world, it appears that they deeply hate and mistrust each other. But the moment the "Feds" confront them, they cooperate as members of the same family, unite against what they see as the common threat, then resume their internal warfare when the threat disappears.[8]

If our radical Muslim adversaries all view the world as divided into Muslims and non-Muslims, it is crucial that we understand that when we are fighting, we are not fighting against a particular country. International borders are irrelevant. By continuing to respect borders, we cripple our military and prevent it from defeating the enemy, who, as we have seen for years in, say, Pakistan and Afghanistan, or Iraq and Iran, simply keep crossing back and forth across borders as needed. If we are to win the war against the Islamists, we must adjust our military and political strategies accordingly.

***

The following sections, some based on the experiences of Western travelers throughout the Islamic world, illustrate how deeply the concept of Islamic brotherhood is embedded in the hearts and minds of the Muslims, whether radical or moderate..

1). Who are the Real Egyptians: the Coptic Christians, Descended from the Ancient Egyptians, or Recent Muslim Immigrants to Egypt?

In the West, one's religion is often a component of one's identity; in Islam, it is the basic component. Non-Muslims living in the Arab World are, in essence, eternal outsiders, never able to fully belong. This is true even in places such as Egypt, where the true Egyptians are the Coptic Christians, descendants of the ancient Egyptians. To the Muslims, a Muslim who immigrates to Egypt from Indonesia is, within a generation or two, an Egyptian, even though he has only been in the country for a relatively short time. Not so Egypt's Christian Copts who make up about 10% of Egypt's population, but, who, no matter how many centuries they preceded Egypt's Muslims there, are forever regarded by the Muslims in Egypt as outsiders.

Egypt, especially in Cairo and Alexandria, has long been a great center to which people from all over the Middle East immigrated, and is known to many people in Egypt and the Levant as the "Mother of the World" [Umm al-Dunya]. When Muslims migrated to these cities -- especially to Cairo – they easily intermarried with local Muslims and became "Egyptians." But almost all the non-Muslims who settled in Cairo and Alexandria eventually left. When they stayed, they usually did so because they had married Muslims and converted to Islam.

There have been massacres in Egypt -- as we are now seeing against the Copts -- even before the fall of its President, Hosni Mubarak. Since that time, the massacres have only increased in viciousness, with security forces driving armored vehicles into gatherings of unarmed Christians to mow them down, or else merely looking on.

From a Western point of view, no one could claim to be more Egyptian than these Copts; but most Muslim Egyptians feel a stronger bond with fellow Muslims in Jordan, Syria, Iraq, or even far more distant lands. Many laws in Egypt exist to make it easy for Copts to convert to Islam and become "real Egyptians," alongside other, strict, laws that ban Muslim from converting to Christianity. In Muslim eyes, the only way for a Copt to become a "true Egyptian," is to convert to Islam.

2). Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan's Election Victory Speech

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also seems to view all Muslims as members of the same people, regardless of nationality:

"Believe me," Erdoğan said, after winning another election in June 2011, "Sarajevo won today as much as Istanbul, Beirut won as much as Izmir, Damascus won as much as Ankara, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank, Jerusalem won as much as Diyarbakir."[9] Erdoğan also mentioned other predominately Muslim places not in Turkey, such as Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

From a Western point of view, Erdoğan was running for office of Prime Minister of Turkey – not of the entire Sunni world. But most of the places he mentioned – such as Damascus, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Sarajevo -- are not part of Turkey. They were, however, part of the Ottoman Empire; and most were, and still are, populated by large numbers of Sunni Muslims.

Imagine a European Prime Minister or American President making a similar speech with references to places outside their countries; such allusions would certainly elicit accusations of imperialism. Even the thought would be unacceptable. But Erdoğan could deliver such a speech because, in his thinking, the concept of Islamic brotherhood is paramount -- as can also be seen in many comments he has made about Israel. He constantly excuses acts of violence committed by his fellow Muslims, the Palestinians, but condemns the non-Muslim Israelis for defending themselves against Muslim terror attacks directed at Israeli border towns such as in Sderot.

Why is Erdoğan is so pro-Palestinian? Is it because he believes in the right of Palestinians to have their own state as they are his fellow Muslims; or because Israel, being largely the state of the Jews, is non-Muslim? If he believes that, as a people, the Palestinians as a national have the right to a state, then why would he not support the right of the Kurds – an ancient people without their own country -- to have their own state, which would include a large part of eastern Turkey that is historically overwhelmingly ethnically Kurdish? But Erdoğan repeatedly opposes a Kurdish state.

3). Are the Ruling Alawites of Syria Muslims? The Answer Determines Whether, in the Minds of Syrian Muslims, They Have a Right to Rule Syria.

Muslims have long accepted a wide range of diversity in Islam. There are four separate Sunni legal schools, each of which can have widely different views on what is legal and what is not. Shi'ites have their own legal schools, and differ strongly with the Sunnis and among themselves over important aspects of their religion. All these schools of Muslim thought, however, agree on one thing: If, according to the Koran the state exists for the good of, and for the propagation of Islam, only Muslims have the right to rule. Non-Muslims in the Muslim state are allowed to live under Muslim rule, but would never have the right to rule.[10]

The Alawites, whose homeland is the eastern Mediterranean coastal area, are an approximately 800-year-old offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. As they are a secretive sect, it is difficult to know exactly what they believe. What we do know is that, for Alawites, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, Ali, is a Jesus-like figure, possessing at the same time both human and godlike characteristics. When Alawites greet each other, one says "Ali is God;" the other responds, "The truest God."

To Muslims, however, Allah never had, or ever can have, a human form of any kind. Conversely, Muhammad was human -- a messenger and a prophet -- but with no divine characteristics. To Muslims, therefore, the Alawite deification of Ali is a heresy.

The question then arises as to whether the Alawites are in fact seen by other Muslims as Muslims at all; and, by extension, whether Muslims even consider them as members of the brotherhood of Islam. This is the question that forms the basis of the uneasy relationship in Syria between the ruling Alawites, who seized power there in the early 1970s, and Syria's Sunni majority –- about 70% of the population -- who see themselves as ascendant in alone having the right to rule their country.

The Alawites understand their precarious situation. In 1972, their leaders asked Lebanon's highly respected Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah, Musa Sadr, to issue a religious edict [fatwa][11], according to which the Alawites would officially be designated a branch of Shi'ite Islam. The ayatollah, for political reasons, obliged -- to bolster Syria's government, which he saw as an ally for beleaguered the Lebanese Shi'ites.

Although this should have helped the Alawites to be accepted as Muslims -- given that most Shi'ites and Sunnis do accept each other as Muslims -- the fatwa was tenuous at best. Nevertheless, the Syrian Sunnis still find it difficult to accept the Alawites as Muslims: if they are not Muslims, they do not have a right to rule the country.

Knowing that the issue of the fatwa is still unresolved for many Sunnis, the Alawites go overboard to demonstrate their "Muslimness" -- while at the same time ruling Syria with an iron fist.

The unsettled nature of their religious legitimacy is also the reason members of the regime cannot -- ever -- sign a peace agreement with Israel. They fear that if they did, the Sunnis would say that such a capitulation proves that the Alawites are not really Muslims. The only people who could possibly sign a peace treaty with Israel and not be labeled "non-Muslims" would be members of the Sunni majority. The Alawites can only forever dangle a peace agreement in front of the Israelis and Americans, negotiating forever, but never signing one.

4). Islamic Brotherhood in the Secular Republic of Turkey

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Ottomans adopted the European system of internal identity cards. If the cardholders were Muslim, under the entry "nationality," they wrote "Muslim, regardless of ethnic or country if origin.

When Turkey and Greece exchanged populations after the Turkish War of Independence in the early 1920s, it was decided that "Greeks" would be sent to Greece, and "Turks" to Turkey. What is distinctive is how the Greek and Turkish governments defined "Greekness" and "Turkishness": Greeks were defined as Orthodox Christians and Turks were defined as Muslims. This meant that Orthodox Christians, who happened to be of ethnic Turkic origin, were "repatriated" to Greece, a "homeland" that historically had never been theirs; and Greeks, who were descended from the ancient Hellenic peoples but who had converted to Islam, were sent to Turkey. Both groups then had to learn their so-called mother tongues, which their ancestors had never spoken.

In the early 1920s, on the embers of the Ottoman Empire, Atatürk and his inner circle founded the secular Turkish Republic. Their new country was to be based on the Western, or geographic, concept of nationality; not on religion. All citizens, regardless of ethnic or religious background, were to be called Turks. All were to be equal before the law and loyal to the republic, the borders of which were inviolate.

Loyalty to a geographic entity was a novel idea in the Muslim world. Before then, the Ottoman Empire had been Muslim and had existed for the good of the Muslims.[12] During the early years of the Turkish Republic, the government made no attempt to differentiate between the different residents, but despite what Ataturk had planned, the concept of Islamic religious brotherhood proved so strong that that Muslims of this newly established polity used the term "Turk" to apply only to Muslims. All others – the non-Muslims -- were called "Türk vatandaşları," or "Turkish citizens," meaning that although they resided in Turkey, it was more as "honored guests" than as equal citizens. Atatürk even tried to create a Turkish Christian patriarchate, but failed.[13]

Even today, more than 85 years after the secular Turkish Republic was founded, Turks sometimes ask foreigners who live in Turkey and who speak Turkish, if they are "Turkish citizens."[14] But if the foreigners are Muslim, they are then asked if they are Turks. To be a "real Turk," one must be a Muslim.

Even before the current Islamic-fundamentalist-oriented AK party took power in Turkey, secular senior officials would often talk about non-Muslim Turkish citizens in ways that implied that these officials did not believe non-Muslims were Turks. During the 1980s, for example, Turkish military and political officials said about the Jews of Istanbul –- most of whose ancestors had lived in what would later become Turkey since the early 1500s if not before –- that, "the Jews here have complete freedom. They are free to travel back and forth to their country [Israel]." During the late 1980s, when an Israeli prime minister visited Turkey and talked about the Jews of Istanbul, many Turkish officials referred to "the visits of their [the Jews'] prime minister" -- as if the Israeli prime minister were the elected leader of the Jews of Istanbul as well.

Among Turks – even the most secular - the idea of Muslim brotherhood is so engrained that it forms the basis of their suspicion of Western policy. Turks tend to see sinister motives, for instance, behind Western questions about the Kurds of Turkey. As Turks and Kurds are both Muslims, when Westerners talk about Kurdish rights in Turkey, Turks fear that by making distinctions between the Muslim citizens of Turkey, the West is trying to divide and conquer them – in the same way Westerners used ethnicity and religion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to divide up the Ottoman Empire. Sadly, most Westerners do not realize that, in spite of their best intentions, Turks believe that Westerners want to "divide up" Turkey into a rump Turkish State and independent Kurdish State. The more non-Muslims talk with Turks about these issues, it becomes clear that the words they use to describe supposed Western intentions are almost the same as those of their Ottoman ancestors when the Ottoman Empire's mission was to protect and advance of the cause of Islam throughout the world.

Even though the Turkish military and separatist Kurds in southeastern Anatolia have from time to time attacked each another -- as many Kurds claim that the Turkish government discriminates against them because they are Kurds and not ethnic Turks -- nevertheless, after subduing the Kurdish terrorists, the Turkish military keeps prodding the civilian authorities to step in and improve the civilian infrastructure for their fellow Muslim "brothers" there. At one point, when the military later saw that the civilian officials were not doing their utmost to improve the living standards of the Kurds, they complained that the civilian authorities were not making the Kurds of that area feel as if they, too, were Turks, and an integral part of the "Turkish" nation.[15] Not only does the Turkish military go out of its way to help the Kurds in the southeast, but until today, for example, the military arranges mass circumcision parties for boys in remote Kurdish-speaking villages where people do not have the money to put on the lavish parties expected of them.

As we in the West expect the Turkish military to be "anti-Kurdish" after being the recipients of terrorist attacks, the above might sound unusual, but from the Turkish military's point of view, all Muslims living in Turkey are Turks.

5). Attempts to Bridge the Political and Social Gaps in the Islamic World between the Non-Muslims and Muslims -- to Negate the Concept of Islamic Solidarity -- Always End in Failure

In the 19th century, Middle Eastern Arabic-speaking Christians invented Arab Nationalism as a way to bridge the gap between themselves and the Arabic-speaking Muslims. These Christians, hoping to attain the equality they could not have under Islam, invented an Arab "national" identity.

These Christian-Arab Nationalists started assigning Arab identities to historic Middle Eastern figures, none of whom was Christian and many of whom were not even ethnically Arab. The nationalists argued that the greatest book ever written in Arabic was the Koran, whose language would form the basis of modern standard Arabic. But for Muslims to say that the Koran was even written is a sacrilege: to them, the Koran is eternal, and existed in Arabic long before it was revealed to Muhammad.

As Arabic-speaking Muslims began to read the writings of the Arab Nationalist Christians, they quickly came to the conclusion that, as Arab culture was overwhelmingly Islamic, the only "true Arab" was still a Muslim. When the concept of national Arab brotherhood proved unable to replace the centuries-old concept of Islamic brotherhood, Middle Eastern Christians again found themselves left unequal to, and outside of, the system. Many Christians then turned to Marxism – probably in an attempt to repudiate all religious identity –- again trying to find an equality that had eluded them under both Arab Nationalism and Islam. Eventually many emigrated to the West to find safety, freedom, and true equality; others converted to Islam; still others remained, especially in Egypt, where they continue, uneasily, to live..

6). Islam Cannot Be Imperialist, Even if Muslims Conquer Non-Muslim Territories and Force the Inhabitants to Become Muslims.

A Westerner teaching a course on the history of Islamic peoples of North Africa at an American university, enrolled around 20 students, mostly secular Muslim Arabs from the Levant, in his class. The lecturer explained how North Africa became Muslim: Arab Muslims had conquered the area in the late 600s, sweeping across the coast and decimating the local cultures, most of which had been were Christian and Berber. Within a century, Christianity had been obliterated and most of the coastal peoples had converted to Islam, but the inhabitants had remained culturally and ethnically Berber.

The lecturer then spoke about the later conquest of the same area by the French in the 1830s; most of the students agreed that the French conquests were imperialist, and consequently decried the French for having seized the land and "imposed" French language and culture on the locals.

When the lecturer then asked what was the difference between the Arab conquests in the late 600s and the French conquests of the 1830s -- both, after all, were foreign cultures that sought to impose their ways on the locals -- the American students concluded that, as both were imperialist, both were bad.

The Arab students, however, emphatically disagreed. Although they all had opposed French imperialism, they either refused to, or could not, fathom the idea that the Arab-Muslim culture could be imperialist. They argued that the Arab Muslims were bringing their superior culture to the locals, who should have been grateful to the Arabs for such a gift.

The Arab reaction provoked outrage among some of the Americans, who then accused the Arabs of being hypocritical. If all imperialism was bad, the Americans argued, the Arab Muslims had been equally wrong to impose their culture on the local non-Muslim North Africans, too.

Neither side could even begin to understand or accept the others' views. To the Arab Muslim students, the Arabs had "liberated" the Berbers from the ignorance they had "suffered" before the Muslims arrived. The Americans could not convince even one Arab that these conquests were the same.

To the Muslims, any conquests launched in the name of Islam against the "The Abode of War" [Dar al-Harb], or the lands ruled by non-Muslims, were acceptable; but wars by non-Muslims against Muslims were, and are, not acceptable.

Today, as Berbers in North Africa and France have been trying to revive their language and culture -- most notably in Morocco, where Berbers constitute the majority of the population -- they have been allowed to do so, but only under strict government supervision. Arab leaders, like their Turkish counterparts, again perceive the differences in the languages and cultures of Muslim minorities as ways that non-Muslims could exploit, divide and conquer their countries.

7). How Muslims View Political Causes of Their Co-Religionists in Distant Regions

As the concept of Islamic brotherhood transcends borders, it is not surprising that Muslims take up the causes of their fellows Muslims in far off lands, such as Arab Muslim fighters joining the Chechens to fight the Russians in the northern Caucasus. This borderless worldview smoothes the way for holy warriors [jihadis] to be lured to training centers and causes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines and beyond, even though these jihadis often look down upon the local Muslims there and their cultures as primitive and backward.

Finally, this view highlights an incident reported in Turkish press concerning a 2008 meeting between US Vice President Cheney and Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan.[16] Erdoğan, according to the report, was sympathetic to Iran's Muslim fundamentalists' developing nuclear weapons. His officials and he argued that the US and other Westerners had a double standard regarding the nuclear issue: the West prohibited Muslims from having nuclear weapons, but Israel – a non-Muslim country – was not prohibited from possibly having nuclear weapons.

Cheney and the other Westerners tried to explain that whether a country was Muslim or non-Muslim was immaterial. The US, he said, took the position it did because Iran had threatened to obliterate Israel, but that Israel had never threatened to obliterate anyone. Cheney's response fell on deaf ears. The Turkish officials either refused to -- or could not -- understand the point the US was making.

8). Religiously Ignorant Members of the Former Ottoman Royal Family and Their Political Affinities

The Sultans of the Ottoman Empire, the forefathers of the former royal Ottoman family, ruled for 653 years, during most of which time the Ottoman Empire was the largest and strongest Sunni Muslim power. During the last 100 years or so of their rule, each Ottoman sultan claimed to be the spiritual and political leader of the entire Muslim world.[17] Moreover, huge numbers of Muslims living outside the Ottoman Empire agreed with him and viewed him as such.

Today, although members of the Ottoman royal family, whose ancestors Atatürk expelled from Turkey in the 1920s, still get together from time to time, they are now frequently secular, and few seem to express more than a rudimentary knowledge of Islam.

One member of the Ottoman royal family who lived in Europe, was, like most of his relatives, secular: he ate pork, enjoyed alcohol, and had even demonstrated "philo-Semitic," pro-Israeli tendencies. He had even asked a non-Muslim friend whether he, a descendent of the Ottomans, was a Sunni or Shi'ite -- an astounding question from a relative of the Ottoman Sultan, his not-so-distant ancestor, who had been the spiritual and the political, leader of the entire Sunni Islamic world

When Israel invaded southern Lebanon in 1982, however, he, who had never displayed the slightest interest in politics and had virtually no knowledge of the people living in southern Lebanon, became enraged at Israel. He said he felt almost personally attacked -- as if Israel had assaulted his people -- even though, ethnically, it was highly unlikely that he shared the slightest blood relationship with anyone in Lebanon. The last Sultan was approximately 1/1258 ethnically Turkish; mothers of the sultans were almost always European, or Caucasian slaves and concubines who were part of the Ottoman harem. We do not know of even a single Arab one.

9) An Iranian Communist Supports His Muslim Brothers, Not the Poor Workers

In Iran, during the time of the Shah, a young Iranian approached an American visiting the Holy Shrine in Qom. The Iranian, saying he felt comfortable speaking about politics there as the Shah's police did not enter the shrine unless there was serious unrest, went on to say that he was a communist because in the Soviet Union people were free, and that he hated the Shah and the US because they supported "fascist" Israel.

The American replied that the Soviet authorities placed serious impediments on people who visited mosques and holy shrines in the Soviet Union; the Iranian said that he knew otherwise.

The American then asked why a communist was even visiting a religious shrine; communists called religion "the opiate of the masses." The Iranian said that he was just waiting for his mother who wanted to pray there; that he himself did not pray.

The American then asked which side the Iranian backed in the Lebanese Civil war, which had been raging for more than two years. The Iranian replied that of course he supported the Muslims: they were poor and exploited by the rich Christians.

The American said that he had seen that too, but that he had also seen rich Muslims exploiting poor Christians. The Iranian then became agitated and said: "But we have to support our Muslim brothers!"

The words "communist" and "fascist" seemed to him to be nothing more than superficial values to be superseded by the loyalty and responsibility with which Muslims defend each other. Newly adopted foreign ideologies could be easily discarded; what remained were the traditional bonds of Muslim brotherhood, regardless of nationality, ethnicity or economic status.

10). A Secular Iraqi and the "Clash of Civilizations"

An Iraqi of mixed ethnic (Kurdish, Arab, and Turkic, and Persian) and religious (Sunni and Shi'ite) origin had been deeply involved in the opposition movement to overthrow Iraq's President, Saddam Hussein. When asked who he was, ethnically and religiously, the Iraqi would reply that neither religion nor ethnicity meant anything to him. What mattered, he said, was democracy: this was the only way all Middle Easterners could be equal. He even refused to refer to himself in religious or ethnic terms: he was, he said, a Baghdadi; that was all he cared about.

As he began, however, to hear more and more anti-Muslim feelings expressed in Europe and the US, he eventually told his Western friends that in a conflict between the democratic West and Islam, he realized he would side with Islam: "In the end," he said, "I am part of them."

11). The Turkish View of Southeastern Europe

Muslims immigrants to Turkey from the Balkan states in southeastern Europe -- ethnically Slavs, with blonde hair and blue eyes -- are easily absorbed into Turkish society, and can quickly become culturally "Turkified." Although some of Turkey's senior military leaders speak Bosnian, Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian, and are ethnically descended from the same stock as the Christians of southeastern Europe, as they -- and the Indo-European Albanians -- converted to Islam about 500 years ago, Anatolian Muslims see them as Turks. At the same time, of course, they do not view the longtime non-Muslim residents of Anatolia as Turks.

12). Being an Outsider [Khareji] in Iran and Afghanistan

Although the word Khareji means foreigner, or outsider, in Persian and Dari (Afghan Persian), it is hard to tell if it refers to non-Afghans, to non-Iranians visiting these countries, or possibly to any non-Muslim living there, no matter how for long.

In both Afghanistan and Iran, people were asked to describe the concept of Khareji and explain to whom this term applied.

Iranian Shi'ites said about Sunni Turks that although there is little love lost between them, Turks were not kharejis; or outsiders; they were just misguided Muslims, but, because they were Muslims, still brothers.

Iranian Shi'ites said about Iraqi Shi'ites visiting Iran that they were not outsiders. Even though Iran and Iraq look askance at one another, and hold strong prejudices against one another, marriages between them are common.

Iranian Shiites said about Armenians and Jews who had lived in the ancient Iranian city of Isfahan for many centuries -- often much longer than many of the Muslims – that they were kharejis, although a different type of khareji than Europeans or Americans.

13). Israel: Jewish-Muslim Intermarriages, and the Islamic Identity of its Muslims

Under Shari 'a law, marriages between Muslim men and non-Muslim women are permitted, but marriages between Muslim women and non-Muslim men are not, unless the man converts to Islam beforehand.

In the Muslim world, non-Muslims can convert to Islam, but according to Shari'a Law, converting out of Islam is an act of apostasy that requires the apostate to be killed, so virtually no one ever converts from Islam. Those Muslims who leave Islam do so at their peril.

When assimilation occurs, it is usually minorities who assimilate into majority cultures. It is much rarer to find members of majority groups joining minorities.

A Jewish woman who marries a Muslim man almost always converts to Islam. As religious identity in Islam is passed down through the father,[18] any children born in a mixed union – even if by rape in a war -- are automatically Muslim.

In Israel, the children of Jews married to Muslims, members of the minority culture, are almost always raised Muslim, even though, from a Jewish legal view, the religion is passed down through the mother and Jews recognize the children as Jews. There are, however, virtually no instances in which such children identify themselves as Jews. Those few children who might try to escape Islam risk death – a threat that only serves to reinforce the solidarity of Islamic brotherhood.

* * *

What then, is the basic difference between the Western concept of solidarity and the Muslim concept of brotherhood?

In the West, citizenship and loyalty to one's country are looked on as the basic building blocks of political identity. Muslims, however, apparently feel a solidarity with Muslims worldwide even before they know what the circumstances are, in a way totally alien to Christians and others, and one that has that has no parallel in the West. In Egypt, Muslims feel a closer tie with Muslims in Syria or Saudi Arabia, than they do with the Egyptian Christians with whom they have been living for centuries.[19]

Almost universally, the Muslim reaction is to feel an accord with, for instance, the Palestinian cause, even though very few support the Palestinians in any significant material way -- casually leaving that to the US and Europe -- and are content to keep them in squalid living conditions, ostensibly for their own good .

In Turkey, one time, when a secular, pro-Western Turkish official criticized Atatürk, the founder of the secular Republic of Turkey, for not having forced the Turks to adopt Christianity, he was expressing an underlying thought: We Turks will never fully be accepted by the Western world because we are Muslims.

"Islam," he said, "claims that all Muslims are members of the same family. Christians, by this Islamic definition, are members of the non-Muslim family of nations who, in a crisis, will support each other against the Muslims."

Had Atatürk forced the Turks convert to Christianity, he implied, Turkey would then have a chance to be accepted into the European Union, and would not have had to worry about the Western-Christian-Greek lobby. He seems to have thought that only as a Christian country would Turkey have been able to gain full Western acceptance. To him, religious solidarity overrode everything. He probably would not have been able to see the situation any other way.

[1] Fundamentalists do not agree on which countries this view includes, although most agree that it does include much of the Arab world – especially Egypt, and the pre-AK Party-ruled Turkish Republic. Others include the rulers of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, whom we see as deeply religious, but whom the fundamentalists see as lackeys of the West. As these rulers are therefore to them apostates, they must be punished according to Islamic law – meaning, they must be put to death.
[2] In Arabic "al-Kufr millatun wahida."
[3] In the Koran, non-believers are called one nation (In Arabic, al-Kufr millatun wahida.), as can be seen, for example, in a tape from March, 2008, supposedly from Osama bin Laden. Osama ranted and raved against Europe for republishing cartoons which denigrated the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Europe did not republish them. They were reproduced in Denmark, a tiny country in Europe. And Denmark did not publish them either. They were published by one publisher, but Osama failed to make these distinctions because for him, the non-Muslims are all one political entity -- so by extension, the whole region is guilty of publishing the cartoons.
[4] http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/february/25/newsid_4167000/4167929.stm
[5] It is important to note that we are not talking here about the political organization called "The Muslim Brotherhood."
[6] Examples will be presented in the following pages.
[7] Ayatollah Khomeini, for example, ruled that the Iranian government could temporarily abrogate verses from the Quran if doing so served Iran's national interests – in this instance, enabling Iran to side with Christian Armenia against Muslim Shi'ite Azerbaijan.
[8] For example, during the 1980's Iran and Iraq bled each other to death, both countries loosing hundreds of thousands – perhaps more than a million people each -- during the eight year Iran-Iraq war. But when the American-led coalition prepared to take back Kuwait from the Iraqis, Saddam had no qualms about sending 135 airplanes to Iran for safe protection.
[9] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13744972. To hear the speech in Turkish, click on the YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VYfqWtGb5w
[10] Lebanon is a special case. In the 1930s, the Christians formed the majority of the population, but all of Lebanon's ethnic and religious groups came to an uneasy agreement regarding power sharing. This agreement subsequently became shaky when the Muslims --the Shi'ites and Sunnis combined – came to form a majority. Nevertheless, the Shi'ites and Sunnis look at each other with suspicion, and often look to the Christians as allies against each other. As Hizbullah does what it is told to do by both Syria and Iran, it is not clear how long this agreement will last.
[11] A fatwa is a religious ruling. It can address any topic. It is not, as some believe, just a death sentence.
[12] Historically, Christians and Jews had been allowed to live in the Empire under Islamic rule, but only as long as they accepted their status as being politically and socially inferior, and paid additional taxes [jizya].
[13] He sent a message to an Anatolian Turkish-speaking Christian prelate living in New Jersey during the 1920s, requesting that he return to Turkey and lead this "Turkish" church. The prelate refused, and with his refusal, died the idea of a Turkish Christian church.
[14] It is obvious from their names they are not Muslims, so the question then becomes, are they non-Muslims of Turkey?
[15] This makes sense only when we understand the word "Turk" to mean "Muslim."
[16] http://yenisafak.com.tr/yazarlar/?t=24.11.2008&y=TamerKorkmaz
[17] For Sunnis, a Caliph was and still is considered God's representative on earth. In addition to his political role as head of the Ottoman Empire, to his people the Caliph's role as a spiritual leader is roughly equivalent to that of the Pope in the Vatican.
[18] There are almost never any marriages between Muslim women and Jewish men. In Islam, the children belong to the father's religion; children born of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father are therefore Muslim, irrespective of the fact that Jews claim these children as Jews. In Jewish law (Halakha), religious identity comes from the mother.
[19] "The Return of Islam," Bernard Lewis, Commentary Magazine, January, 1976, h

Harold Rhode

Source: http://www.hudson-ny.org/2572/brotherhood-in-islam

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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