Thursday, November 29, 2007

Are we are at war with all Islam?

‘We are at war with all Islam’
Mary Wakefield
Wednesday, 28th November 2007

An interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Last Tuesday at nightfall, as the servants of democracy fled SW1, a young Somali woman stood spotlit on a stage in Westminster. Behind her was the illuminated logo for the Centre for Social Cohesion: a white hand reaching down across England to help a brown one up; in front, an audience of some of Britain’s biggest brains — politicians, editors, academics. She drew her shawl a little closer round her shoulders, looked up and said: ‘We are not at war with “terror”, that would make no sense.’
‘Hear, hear,’ said a voice at the back. ‘Terror is just a tactic used by Islam,’ she continued. ‘We are actually at war, not just with Islamism, but with Islam itself.’
Out in the dark began a great wobbling of heads. Neocons nodded, Muslims shook their heads; others, uncertain, waggled theirs anxiously from side to side: at war with all Islam, even here in the UK? What does that mean?
It would be easier in some ways to ignore Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to label her as bonkers — but it would also be irresponsible. She’s not just another hawkish hack, anxious to occupy the top tough-guy media slot — she has the authority of experience, the authenticity of suffering. In the spring of 2004 she wrote a film called Submission (an artsy 11-minute protest against Islamic cruelty to women) which was shown on Dutch TV. In November 2004 the film’s director, Theo van Gogh, was assassinated and the killer left a long letter to Hirsi Ali knifed into his corpse which said, in short: you’re next. But Hirsi Ali couldn’t be silenced. She has since written an autobiography (Infidel) about growing up a Muslim (in Somalia, then Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia), describing her circumcision, the beatings she received, her arranged marriage, her flight to Holland. She risks her life daily, speaking out against what she calls the ‘fairytale’ that Islam is in essence a religion of peace.
The other reason to take her seriously is that Hirsi Ali’s ideas about Islam (that it is unamenable to reform, and intrinsically opposed to Western values) are attracting attention worldwide. In Holland where, until 2006, she was an MP for the People’s Party for Freedom and Independence (VVD), the famous ‘pillarisation’ approach to immigration — where each new culture becomes a pillar upon which the state rests — has given way to a ‘new realism’, much more in tune with Hirsi Ali’s way of thinking, and in part because of her. In Britain and in America, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has become a sort of popstar for neocons, and she now lives in Washington, and works as a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.
But is she right? And what does ‘war with Islam’ mean? I went to find out; to meet Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the House of Lords on a bitter and blustery afternoon last week, bustling past the police, down the corridors of partial power, to the visitors’ room where she was waiting. We haven’t got much time, so can we dive straight into Islam? I ask. ‘Yes, absolutely, go ahead,’ she smiles. Up close she is disconcertingly beautiful, and fragile-looking. OK then, right. Well, you say that Islam is a violent religion, because the Prophet advocated violence. But isn’t that open to interpretation? I ask. Karen Armstrong, (a non-Muslim biographer of Mohammed) has said the Prophet was a loving man who’d have been horrified at 9/11.
‘Karen Armstrong is ridiculous,’ says Hirsi Ali in her quick, light voice — Africa still audible in the clipped consonants. ‘The Prophet would have not have disapproved of 9/11, because it was carried out in his example. When he came to Medina, the Prophet had a revelation, of jihad. After that, it became an obligation for Muslims to convert others, and to establish an Islamic state, by the sword if necessary.’
But there is such a thing as moderate Islam, I say. Muslims aren’t all terrorists. There are some like Ed Husain (author of The Islamist) who argue that there are many peaceful traditions of Koranic scholarship to choose from. Isn’t it a mistake to dismiss this gentler, acceptable branch of Islam?
‘I find the word “moderate” very misleading.’ There’s a touch of steel in Hirsi Ali’s voice. ‘I don’t believe there is such a thing as “moderate Islam”. I think it’s better to talk about degrees of belief and degrees of practice. The Koran is quite clear that it should control every area of life. If a Muslim chooses to obey only some of the Prophet’s commandments, he is only a partial Muslim. If he is a good Muslim, he will wish to establish Sharia law.’
But I don’t call myself a ‘partial Christian’ just because I don’t take the whole Bible literally, I say. Why can’t a Muslim pick and choose his scriptures too? Before Hirsi Ali can answer, the door to the waiting room flies open and a House of Lords doorman stands theatrically on the threshold. ‘You must stop this interview immediately!’ he says. Why? Is there a breach of security? A terrorist threat? ‘I have not received authorisation for it,’ he says. But we’re here with a peer, I say. I’m sure he has cleared it. ‘Please proceed to the waiting area in silence.’ So off we trudge to the foyer to sit by a fake fire — ‘it’s much nicer here, anyway,’ says Hirsi Ali kindly — and to continue our discussion about the superiority of the free, enlightened West in urgent whispers behind my rucksack.
‘Christianity is different from Islam,’ says Hirsi Ali, ‘because it allows you to question it. It probably wasn’t different in the past, but it is now. Christians — at least Christians in a liberal democracy — have accepted, after Thomas Hobbes, that they must obey the secular rule of law; that there must be a separation of church and state. In Islamic doctrine such a separation has not occurred yet. This is what makes it dangerous! Islam — all Islam, not just Islamism — has not acknowledged that it must obey secular law. Islam is hostile to reason.’
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s eyes are now aglow. She is a terrific believer in reason. For her, Western civilisation is built on the bedrock not of Judaeo-Christian values, but of logic. After seeking asylum in Holland, she spent five years at Leiden university studying political science, absorbing the Enlightenment philosophers — Spinoza, Hobbes, Voltaire — and she mentions them fondly, as if they’re family. But there’s a steely side to her atheism, which says with Voltaire: Ecraser l’infâme! During a recent debate with Ed Husain, as Husain was explaining his moderate Islam, she began to laugh at him, saying: ‘When you die you rot, Ed! There is no afterlife, Ed!’ And it makes me wonder whether, for Hirsi Ali, Islam’s crime is as much against reason as humanity; whether she sees the point of spirituality at all.
Are you so sure you understand what is at the heart of Islam? I ask her. Isn’t there a peaceful prayerfulness — apart from the politics — that an atheist might not understand? ‘I was a Muslim once, remember, and it was when I was most devout that I was most full of hate,’ she says.
OK then, you talk about your conscience, and how your conscience was pricked by 9/11. But if there’s no God, what do you mean by a conscience? And why should we obey it?
‘My conscience is informed by reason,’ says Hirsi Ali, surprised I should ask. ‘It’s like Kant’s categorical imperative: behave to others as you would wish they behaved to you.’
I say, so let’s assume Islam is hostile and not open to reason, that it needs to be wiped out. The next question then is how? We can’t just ban it. Isn’t it destructive to curtail freedom so much in the interests of protecting it? Don’t you risk loving freedom to death?
Hirsi Ali looks at me with pity. ‘You, here in the UK, are in danger. Of course you can’t ban Islam outright, but you need to stop the spread of ideology, stop native Westerners converting to Islam. You definitely need to ban the veil in schools, and to close down Muslim schools because that’s where kids are indoctrinated.’
But, what about freedom of belief and free speech? I ask (with a nervous look at the doorman). And if you close down Muslim schools, don’t you, by the same logic, have to close all faith schools?
‘Islam is different from other faiths because it is not just a faith, it is a political ideology. Children learn that Allah is the lawgiver, and that is a political statement. You wouldn’t allow the BNP to run a school, would you?’
But if we crack down like this, won’t it make Muslims angry? I say, thinking about terrorists and my safety. ‘Well perhaps anger is no bad thing,’ says Hirsi Ali, thinking about ordinary Muslims, and their enlightenment. ‘Perhaps it’ll make Muslims more aware, help them question their beliefs. If we keep on asking questions, maybe Muslim women will realise, as I did, that they don’t have to be second-class citizens.’
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is on her favourite topic now (the subjection of women), leaning forward, gesticulating. And as she talks I realise (belatedly) what makes her different from her neocon pals. Whereas they seem motivated by fear of Muslims, she is out to protect Muslims from submission to unreason. When she speaks of a ‘war against Islam’, she’s thinking not of armies of insurgents, but of an ideological virus, in the same way a doctor might talk of the battle against typhoid. ‘Yes, I am at war with Islam,’ she says, as she gets up to leave, ‘but I am not at war with Muslims.’ It’s a crucial difference.
It’s teatime now and the House of Lords hallway is suddenly full of peers’ wives chattering, shaking their brollies. Sorry about all these women in headscarves, I say unnecessarily, as I shake her hand goodbye. ‘Don’t worry,’ says Ayaan Hirsi Ali, ‘It’s not the hijab, the headscarves are just to protect them against the rain!’ And she walks off, laughing.
The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9HP. All Articles and Content Copyright ©2007 by The Spectator (1828) Ltd. All Rights Reserved

4 comments:

Joe said...

Ok. So let me get this straight; Jack the "Lion Heart" Murtha says the surge is working, Hu? Well Duh!!! Are his cowardly rantings and ravings starting to get old, or did the wind just suddenly change? I wonder if anyone sat next to him at the Thanksgiving table, as if one turkey wasn't enough at the table! So all of a sudden, this "weekend warrior" is supposed to be some kind of an authority on how to fight the war on terrorism? We all know how not to fight the war, don't we. It's certainly not going to be won by appeasers, or yellow cut-and-run cowards like he, Kerry, Reid and Pelosi. I've e-mailed these political hacks many times and shared with them these same sentiments, and do you know what? It just rolls right off their backs. They have no conscience, and no shame. It's like when they are caught in a lie. They stick to their guns,--er-I shouldn't mention guns! That's politically incorrect speech among Liberals. Guns, God, Abortion, and church. I must bite my tongue!

Anonymous said...

This week's events in Sudan really have to make the rest of the world shake their heads in wonder. A 54-year-old British teacher, Gillian Gibbons, who had recently arrived in Sudan, has been arrested by Sudanese authorities. Her crime? It seems that as part of her lessons on bears to her class of 7-year olds, she had the pupils bring in teddy bears to class. As part of the lesson, the children were asked to choose names for the teddy bears. The children chose the name, Mohammed for one bear, and all hell broke loose. It seems that naming a teddy bear Mohammed is an insult against Islam. Accordingly, Ms Gibbons has been arrested and charged for blasphemy- or whatever they call it.

During the ensuing diplomatic crisis between Sudan and Britain, it was reported that the unfortunate lady was facing a maximum punishment of 6 months in prison, plus 40 lashes! Apparently, diplomatic efforts have paid off (to some extent). Ms Gibbons has been sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation.

Not content to leave well enough alone in the face of world-wide shock, the Sudanese have in the past 24 hours carried out a massive demonstration in the heart of beautiful downtown Khartoum-demanding the execution of the British lady as just punishment for insulting Islam. Of course, it should be pointed out that such a demonstration in Sudan (which is under dictatorial rule) would not be possible without the consent-if not the direction of the government. So now the world is treated to the usual scene of outraged Muslim mobs in the streets shouting "Death to All!" (or something like that).

First of all, what kind of country is this Sudan, where a 54-year-old woman would even have to spend 15 days in jail for such an "offense"? Well, for starters, this is the same Sudan where a quarter of a million people have been slaughtered in the Darfur region by killers supported by the government-an atrocity that continues as we speak. This is one of the most odious regimes in the world today.

Then we must ask: what kind of mentality leads people to demand death for naming a teddy bear Mohammed? How about a barbaric 7th Century mentality?

I am not a Brit, but if I were, I would be demanding that my government break off relations and all aid to such a nation. This is not the first outrage that the UK has swallowed at the hands of a 4th rate banana republic. Rememember Idi Amin's Uganda? Remember the murder of a British policewoman by riflefire from the Libyan Embassy in London? Remember the British sailors held hostage by Iran? Whatever happened to the Britain of Margaret Thatcher? I remember when Argentina seized the Falkland Islands from the Brits, and Thatcher sent in the troops to take them back by force. Sadly, the Brits are bending over backwards to placate radical Islam-even in their own country.

And what about the so-called moderate Muslims? Why aren't other Muslim governments speaking out against their Sudanese brethren for bringing further embarassment to Islam? Are British Muslims demonstrating against the Sudanese treatment of a British subject in the name of Islam? Well, probably not since they prefer to wave banners reading, "Behead those who insult Islam!"

Frankly, I am up to here with the sight of Muslim mobs all over the world jumping up and down, shaking their fists, burning other nations' flags and demanding death to people they don't like. It is high time that Muslims join the 21st Century and start acting like civilized people instead of 7th Century barbarians. As for the so-called moderate Muslims, it is past time to stand up to the crazies and re-establish Islam as a religion worthy of respect.

As for Ms Gibbons, I pray for her safe return back to civilization. Sudan does not deserve the help of people like her. Her experience should be a lesson to other westerners who feel compelled to go and serve people who don't appreciate it.

gary fouse
fousesquawk

Storm'n Norm'n said...

Great commentary Garry...

Re:"Rememember Idi Amin's Uganda? "

You're telling your age if you remember Idi...but that's OK, I still remember "Mama"
(From the TV series "I Remember Mama")
Yes, I too remember Idi and all the events you mentioned. Idi was one bad person! I was quite young at the time and recall asking myself, "How does one person, who has little or no value for his fellow man, rise to power?
Years later I ask the same question only from a perspective close to home, "How did Bill Clinton rise to power?" Bill is one bad person!

Joe said...

Wow! After watching the You tube Vid on how these Islamists treat their women, I'd have never believed it if I didn't see it with my own eyes. And, Reid, Pelosi, and Jack Murtha want us to surrender to them??? I have a better idea. How about we send Reid, Pelosi, and Murtha to that country and let them surrender to those blood thirsty barbarians? If they like them, we can always send Kennedy and Kerry over there too, along with Barney Frank. Now there's a guy that they'd love to slaughter. Bush lied to us. He said that the religion of Islam is a religion of peace. Peace for who? The person who just got his or her head cut off? The God that I know doesn't go around murdering people.