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Book Review: Simon Sebag Montefiore’s ‘Jerusalem: The Biography’

Friday, October 18th, 2013

By Henry Goldblum

At first glance, Simon Sebag Montefiore’s best seller Jerusalem: The Biography is surely impressive. Media critics as well as Henry Kissinger have showered it with praise, and the BBC devoted a timely three-part TV series to the author, providing invaluable publicity. Indeed, the book is not dull by any standards. Drama abounds – be it in chapter headings (take chapter 5, “The Whore of Babylon”) or in the description of events, such as the Moloch ceremonies in the days of King Menasseh, “the sacrifice of children at the roaster…in the Valley of Hinom…as priests beat drums to hide the shrieks of the victims from their parents” (p. 39). The Muslim invasion is depicted in graphic detail, particularly the battle of 636 CE, which took place “amidst the impenetrable gorges of the Yarmuk River” (p. 172) – although the area through which the Yarmuk flows is in fact more of an open plain.

Renouncing Uniqueness

Sebag Montefiore has clearly invested much effort in conveying his vision of Jerusalem – past, present, and future. The result reflects thoughtful study of many sources relating to different features of the city, and the author certainly recognizes its special status. However, in his apparent desire to deal evenhandedly with the various local religions, he fails to make it clear that it is only for Jews and Judaism that Jerusalem is, was, and has always been the sole spiritual center on earth. This omission is unacceptable. The author rightly refers, if only en passant, to Midrash Tanhuma and the writings of Philo of Alexandria as two examples of this basic, constant belief, unlimited by time or circumstance. The intensity of Jerusalem’s sacred status for Judaism is such that later monotheistic faiths have attempted at various times to gain a foothold in the city, despite their having other, holier places (Mecca and Medina, Rome and Bethlehem). Perhaps recognizing the significance of capturing the “chosen status” of Judaism, they have utilized diverse strategies to prop up their variant “histories,” including reinterpreting Muhammad’s miraculous night visit to the “Farthest Mosque” on the outskirts of Mecca to include a stopover in Jerusalem.

It has always been fundamental for the Jew to appreciate this imbalance, and it cannot be overlooked in any attempt to describe Jerusalem. Sebag Montefiore has downgraded this uniquely Jewish aspect of the city; as far as he is concerned, Judaism’s monopoly on Jerusalem is limited to part 1 of his book, extending until the year 70 CE. Parts 2-8 belong primarily to other faiths and peoples, and the final section of the book, dating from 1898, is titled “Zionism,” as if the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty is a separate chapter in the history of the city rather than the restorationof a violently interrupted continuum. Significantly, he neglects to emphasize thata Jewish majority has dominated the citywhenever circumstances have permitted,including from the early 19th century onwardwithout interruption; nor does he remind thereader that only when Jews have ruled thecity have all other faiths enjoyed full rights ofworship there.

Historically Dubious These omissions are partially explained by the almost complete absence of references to classic Jewish works compiled in the Land of Israel – despite their obvious relevance in terms of place, time, and subject. Thus, the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds are together accorded a mere four quotations; the output of Jewish historians from Graetz to current Israeli scholars not of the revisionist mode is similarly glaringly absent. In contrast, detailed descriptions of events and individuals taken from non-Jewish sources abound – even when their relevance is historically uncertain or unsound – notably the passages on Jesus in chapter 11. The sole reference to Jesus in Josephus (Antiquities, book 17, 63-64), whom Sebag Montefiore cites among other non- Jewish sources as confirmation of his existence as a historic character, is widely regarded as being of dubious authorship (see Emil Schürer’s History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus, vol. 1, p. 428ff.).

The reliability of the author’s statement at the opening of the Islam section is similarly questionable: Muhammad is said to have come “to venerate Jerusalem as one of the noblest of sanctuaries” (p. 169). With all due respect, the Koran never mentions Jerusalem, and by beginning his discussion of Islam with the reinterpretation of the passage regarding “the furthest place of worship,” Sebag Montefiore creates a false impression, especially since in Sura 2, the Prophet commands that prayer be directed exclusively to Mecca. The other quotes on page 168 are all from later Muslim sources. The term “Iliya,” a corruption of the pagan name Aelia Capitolina coined by Hadrian, continued to be used by the Muslim conquerors of Jerusalem for a generation or more following Muhammad’s death, with examples from as late as the end of the 10th century. This is the name of the city appearing on the milestones of Caliph al-Malik, who built the Dome of the Rock in the 690s. The name Al-Quds, “The Sanctuary,“ came into common use only in the 11th century, in the context of the struggle between Crusaders and Saracens for dominion over the Holy Land (see Moshe Gil, The Political History of Jerusalem in the Early Muslim Period, p. 10). The anecdote concerning Caliph Omar’s tour of the Temple Mount (p. 175 in Sebag Montefiore’s book) only reiterates the secondary status of Jerusalem in Islam – the caliph rebukes Kaab, a converted Jew, who suggests praying in the direction of the Temple on the mount rather than toward Mecca. As Bernard Lewis has stated in The Middle East, “Much of the traditional narrative of the early history of Islam must remain problematic, whilst the critical history is at best tentative” (p. 51). Why, then, has Sebag Montefiore adopted Islamic accounts regarding this period so readily? Is he perhaps playing to Muslim sensibilities? All this leads us to an epilogue that looks forward, as might be expected from the previous sections, to a permanent division of the city into two capitals for two states, in accordance with current liberal and revisionist dogma. The hope of witnessing such a chapter in the history of Jerusalem rankles coming from a scion of the illustrious Montefiore family, whose philanthropy was once invested in the furtherance of a quite different destiny for the city.

Admittedly, Jerusalem: The Biography provides an enjoyable ride. A more appropriate destination and a less controversial and dangerous route might be preferable, but that, presumably, would require a change of driver.

Dr. Heny Goldblum is a lawyer and a scholar of history

Visit Behind the News in Israel.

PA Mourns Failure to Take over Rachel’s Tomb as Muslim Holy Site

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Tens of thousands of Jews are visiting Rachel’s Tomb Tuesday, the anniversary of her death as described in the Torah, to pray for Rachel to cry for them that their prayers be answered.

No tears need be shed for the Palestinian Authority, which can mourn for itself for not being able to hoodwink the world to believe Rachel’s Tomb is a Muslim holy site.

The Torah states in Genesis (B’reisheit’), “And Rachel died, and was buried on the way to Efrat, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.”

Before the Palestinian Authority campaign to rewrite the Bible and ancient history, Muslim authorities for centuries had acknowledged that Rachel’s Tomb is Jewish.

Excited by their blood-letting suicide bombings, firebomb and shooting attacks on Jews in the 1990s, the Palestinian Authority suddenly stopped referring to the site as “Rachel’s Dome” and called it the Mosque of Bilal ibn Rabah.

The manufactured tradition became more popular as Muslim clerics in the Arab world pounded the pulpit that the binding of Isaac (Yitzchak) actually is the binding of Ishmael, that the Holy Temples never existed and that the Western Wall really was the hitching post for the Muslim prophet Mohammed’s horse, may his and it memories be forgotten.

More amazing than the fibs that the Palestinian Authority invented was the acceptance of them by the anti-Israel crowd, especially  UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Last year won UNESCO support that the ancient site also belongs to Muslims even though the Tomb, “Kever Rochel” in Hebrew, existed long before Islam came into existence.

In December 2012, UNESCO director Irina Bokova accepted the view of its chief critic of Israel, Robert Serry, who also serves as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He warned that Israel’s defining Rachel’s Tomb and the Patriarchs’ Cave in Hevron as holy sites would be bad for the sacred ghost known as the peace process.

UNESCO said Rachel’s Tomb also belongs to Christians and Muslim, which at one time built over the Tomb. That is like saying that JFK airport is a Jewish site because there is a synagogue there.

Two years before UNESCO’s sentence to the Jewish site, Palestinian Authority  chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned that there would be a “holy war” over Rachel’s Tomb if Israel did not accept the Muslim claim that that is was an ancient mosque.

Iran went one step further  with its foreign ministry declaring that Israel’s decision to make Rachel’s Tomb a national heritage site “rises from the regime’s strategy for cleaning all the sanctities of the Muslims and Christians in the occupied Palestine to give them a Zionist identity.”

The Palestinian Authority succeeded 13 years ago in taking over Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem, a direct violation of the Oslo Accords, but the efforts of Jewish leaders in the Shomron (Samaria) the past two years have enabled Jews to worship there under IDF guard.

The Oslo Accords interim agreement in 1995 states that security arrangements must “ensure free, unimpeded and secure access to the relevant Jewish holy sites.”

The Palestinian Authority has no problem with that. All it has to do is drive out the Jews with terrorist attacks and then convince UNESCO that Rachel’s Tomb is not a Jewish holy site.

That is the impetus for the Palestinian Authority to call Kever Rachel the  Bilal ibn Rabah mosque.

Jews traveling to pray at Rachel’s Tomb on her yahrzheit Tuesday can thank none other than former Haredi Knesset Member Menachem Porush that they are able to do so.

During the height of the Oslo mirage in 1995, Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau and MK Porush appealed to Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin not to go through with his plan to turn Rachel’s Tomb over to the Palestinian Authority.

Rabbi Lau told the Prime Minister, “One does not part from one’s mother, and MK Porush broke down in tears, crying on Rabin’s shoulders.

Rabin surrendered, and today, the Palestinian Authority can mourn to Mohammed that truth has triumphed over at least one of its lies.

Thousands of Jews at Rachel's tomb on the even of the anniversary of her death.

Thousands of Jews at Rachel’s tomb on the even of the anniversary of her death.

Obama Tries to Buy Democracy in Egypt with Cut in Military Aid

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The Obama administration is cutting back military aid to Egypt in another effort to force democracy on a Muslim country that has become more unstable and violent with every American move to prove to Egyptians it knows what is best for them.

U.S. State Dept. assistant spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Wednesday, “The President has…been clear that we are not able to continue to with business [with Egypt] as usual. As you know, we have already announced that we are not proceeding with the delivery of certain military systems… We will continue to support a democratic transition and oppose violence as a means of resolving differences in Egypt.”

The American government is suspending shipments of F-16 warplanes, Apache helicopters, 1,000 M1 tanks, spare parts needed for maintenance and missiles, among other items.

The cut in aid is “pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The last time the United States tried that game, it resulted in the election of the Muslim Brotherhood government. One year later, the Obama administration saw its game plan went awry, and it backed the ouster of the democratically-elected government.

In other words, it wants the Egyptian military regime to get off its horse and take another crack at corrupting Islam with democratic elections.

If “corrupt” sounds too harsh, here is what former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, born and raised in Iraq and a lot more in tune with the Arabic mentality that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and a long line of “have a nice day” predecessors.

He told Voice of Israel radio the Americans do not understand that democracy contradicts Islamic law.

But the Obama administration insists on forcing a round pole into a square hole.

Mubarak was an autocrat and a dear friend of several U.S. governments, but when the Arab Spring rebellion brought out the worst of Mubarak, with nearly 1,000 Egyptians brutally killed, the Obama administration jumped on the anarchists’ bandwagon and encouraged his overthrow.

Once it appeared the radical Muslim Brotherhood would be a dominant force, it did somersaults away from a strong policy of staying clear of the Brotherhood and instead began embracing it, despite its open anti-American and anti-Israel agenda.

The White House and Foggy Bottom congratulated the Muslim Brotherhood on winning the elections because it was a victory for democracy.

The rest is history. After one year, the Brotherhood proved just as corrupt and brutal as Mubarak, but politically ignorant.

So the Obama administration decided that democracy is not such a great idea when radical Muslims win.

Out goes the Muslim Brotherhood and in its place comes a “temporary” military regime, desperately trying to save Egypt from bankruptcy and from Hamas and Al Qaeda terrorists and  a few other fanatical groups vying for 72 virgins.

But the military regime was not very polite to the Brotherhood and brutally killed protesters. That is what Mubarak did. That is what the Brotherhood did. It seems that is the way things run in Egypt.

But Washington knows better and now is holding back some military aid, which will make it even harder for the regime to combat terrorists, such as those who killed four Egyptian soldiers Thursday morning in a car bomb explosion in the Sinai.

“We’ll see, next time, when a U.S. aircraft carrier wants to go through the Suez Canal, whether it goes to the front of the line,”  David Schenker, director of the Arab politics program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Bloomberg News Wednesday He added that  Egyptians “do a lot of things that are very helpful to us and they can be less helpful.”

The American government has thrown itself in a corner with a law that requires the suspension of aid to countries where there has been a coup d’etat, which the administration refuses to admit occurred in Egypt.

Despite the new suspension in military aid, the United States still is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Egypt.

Paul Gamble, Director of the Africa & Middle East team of Fitch’s Sovereign Ratings Group, told Asharq Al-Awsat. “This does not mean any less money is going to the Egyptian economy, so it really does not have an impact. It’s more a political gesture.”

Turkey Lifts 90-Year-Old Ban on Muslim Veil at University and Work

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

A new law Turkish law breaks a 90-year-old ban on Muslims wearing the veil at university or at government work offices and reflects the growing Islamic influence on the once secular government.

The secular Turkish republic in 1925 banned  civil servants from wearing overt symbols of religious affiliation, That presumably includes the kippa, for those Jews brave enough to wear it anywhere in public in Turkey.

The restriction kept many observant Muslim women out of the government civil service.

Critics of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have viewed the new law as evidence of a “secret Islamic agenda,” but he said it represents more “democracy” and also gives more freedom for Kurdish minorities.

Another radical change in policy is discontinuing the practice of school children reciting a vow of national allegiance each week.

Jihad Tourism

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Originally published at The Investigative Project on Terrorism.

For 20 years I studied and interviewed Islamist mujahedeen (jihad fighters) imprisoned in Israeli jails, examining their inner worlds and discovering the obsessive thoughts leading them to carry out terrorist attacks. They were addicted to fantasizing about an alternative reality, describing their compulsions in metaphors similar to those used by obsessive gamblers and drug addicts. They likened them to “worms” (duda in Arabic) burrowing into their brains and driving them to seek not another game of cards or a fix, but dead Israelis, Americans, Europeans, or anyone else they considered infidels. They did not try to resist their compulsions or consider that their actions might be wrong, because they felt completely controlled and manipulated by the concept of jihad, which dictated their behavior in every sphere of life.

The findings of my research indicated that the jihadists’ obsessions created what are known as “overvalued ideas,” that is, false or exaggerated beliefs sustained beyond reason or logic. One often repeated, was the vision of what awaited the shaheed (a martyr for the sake of Allah) in the Islamic paradise after death. The sensations of the release of tension and relaxation come only after the terrorist act, when the perpetrator looks at the people he murdered. Even suicide bombers whose explosive belts failed to detonate or who were arrested before they could carry out their missions described a transcendent sensation, a smile as they approached their targets.

They spoke of their inability to control their impulsive behavior, harmful to themselves and others.

They described the mujahed‘s [the jihad fighter's] search for meaning in his life, how he turns his back on civilization and everything it represents. Many of them felt rejected by their immediate surroundings, either because of feelings of inferiority, marginality or guilt for things they had done (or not done) that brought dishonor to their families, or simply because they could not integrate into society as productive, contributing citizens. Those who had been exposed to Western society had strong feelings of inferiority, jealousy and rejection, especially because of differences in life styles, sex roles, confidence and other personal attributes. Some of them noted unbridgeable gaps between culture and science. One dispatcher of suicide bombers spoke of the great differences in capabilities, culture and economic condition between Christian and Muslim Arabs. For the mujahedeen, people are either good or bad, and that conceptual polarity directs their course.

Terrorists are also frustrated and alienated by those who rejected them, leading them to announce that as mujahedeen they “reject the rejecters.” A similar sensation has been noted in criminological studies as a criminal behavioral dynamic, and because the criminal is rejected by a normative society and cannot integrate into it, he declares war on it. Generally speaking, there is no psychopathology among Muslim terrorists. That is, none of them can be diagnosed as having a recognizable mental illness, even those who attempted to carry out suicide bombing attacks. What remains to be examined is whether or not there is a collective pathology, and if it is a question of a society, many of whose members find it difficult to suppress violence and control their urges and anger.

Jihad, a holy war against the infidel, is the personal duty of every Muslim, and if he does not wage it, he will die as a religious hypocrite, someone who only outwardly practices Islam but does not truly believe, and be damned for all eternity. The terrorists I interviewed told me that waging jihad is, for the mujahed, the way to partake of Allah’s mercy for themselves and the members of their families, and to go directly to paradise without the Islamic “tortures of the grave” and without undergoing a painful examination by angels before they are allowed to enter.

Exhilaration and ecstasy accompany jihad fighters in their search for arenas of excitement around the globe. They look for places where they can rape and kill with impunity and fight the infidel in the name of Allah, reaching the pinnacle of masculinity and honor reserved for the shaheed. Superficially, they may seem to be fighting for an ideal, but in reality, even in suicide bombing attacks, there is an element of desire for reward, both in this world and the next. The overwhelming desire of many Muslim adolescent boys, even those educated in the West or who are converts to Islam, especially those living in countries where there is no real governance, is excitement. To that end they stream into confrontation zones like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Libya, Iraq, Africa (such as the recent terrorist attack in Kenya), and Syria to experience the mission, the excitement and promise of being a shaheed as the ultimate in self-realization.

Frustration, alienation and a sense of inferiority accompany the increase in the pace of modern life, and the gap between East and West continually grows. The deprivation, restrictions and solutions imposed by Islamism lead people to seek a group to which they can belong and which will help them channel their negative feelings for the other, the different, the “infidel,” feelings which are common to all. In addition, the need for adventure and excitement has helped create a kind of “jihad tourism” especially but not exclusively relevant for young Muslim men, including those born in the West. Today in Syria there are jihadist fighters from 60 countries, among them converts to Islam, who star in videos and help the jihadists recruit supporters and spread propaganda. Jihad tourism is a subculture of fun and excitement, a festival of violence, similar to the Western criminal and gang subcultures. The jihadist lifestyle allows them to shake off the confines of the disintegrating patriarchal family. As opposed to ordinary criminals, whose social status is lowered when they are classified as felons, the Islamic terrorists feel they are performing good deeds for the sake of Allah, raising their status. They act on violent impulses, are unrestrained in their aggression and try to impress those around them by taking risks, hoping for admiration and praise. They butcher people of all ages, use both sarin gas and hatchets, behead, rape and mutilate their “enemies” with no regard for the fact that until recently the enemy was a neighbor, or at least shared their language and culture.

In their “extreme jihad journeys” they become accustomed to violence and atrocities, or as one of the men I interviewed said, “we find the smell of blood natural; even as young children we saw sheep being slaughtered in our yards.” In addition, they receive religious justification from various fatwas, religious edicts issued by sheikhs such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s religious authority. The jihad tourists live like wandering adventurers, generally finding it difficult to integrate into the mainstream of modern life. Instead they choose a path of murder and violence while embracing simplicity and even primitiveness. Having different aspirations, they do not have to compete with the West, seeking instead to destroy it while hoping to recreate the past in preference to joining the future. Before he was killed by the Americans, the terrorists I interviewed often praised Osama bin Laden and the simple life he lived in the caves of Tora Bora – an illusion, because bin Laden lived a life of relative comfort in Pakistan.

The waves of jihad tourism and terrorism targeting mainly Christians and Jews in the West have spun out of control and are not susceptible to the restraints of family, culture, religion or society. Violent jihad tourists are now overwhelming entire countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. The atrocities currently being committed in Syria would not embarrass any legendary serial killer, and there are thousands of such jihad tourists there, Sunni and Shi’ite, and even Western converts to Islam, who torture and kill innocent civilians.

It is the high season for jihad tourism, and while the mujahedeen continue their activities in Iraq, the trendy watering hole is currently Syria, where Bashar al-Assad’s friends and foes alike indiscriminately slaughter innocents of all ages and sexes. They surf on waves of blood, and the operatives of the Al-Nusra Front, a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, slaughter both members of the Assad regime and of secular rebel organizations who fighting the same regime.

The goal of Western educational systems is to provide the tools necessary for functioning in society. In the Islamic countries, however, children are taught from infancy that the family and clan are the foundations of their lives and dictate their behavior. Islamic society binds its members in chains, and the individual has no choice but to submit to group pressure. Drowning in blood and violence, his only justification is seeking the death of a shaheed.

And recent conflicts show that the West provides plenty of jihad tourists despite our education and opportunities. For some, especially converts to Islam, waging jihad in foreign lands can be exciting and revolutionary and a chance to prove the depth of their new devotion.

With all of this in mind, I would like to propose calling murder for the sake of Allah “shahadamania,” which might make it easier for the West to understand and fight the syndrome. It refers to the obsession for istishhad [martyrdom for the sake of Allah] and includes feelings of transcendence and euphoria after killing the infidel, the capitulation to instinct, the inability to function in daily life, and jihad as a good and even altruistic deed in this world to qualify for a hedonistic afterlife.

Iceland to Get its First Mosque

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

The Reykjavík City Council has approved a building permit for the construction of the first mosque in Iceland.

The mosque will be built in Sogamýri, an upscale district near downtown Reykjavík on a highly desirable plot of land that was granted to Muslims free of charge, courtesy of Icelandic taxpayers.

Members of the city council — which is led by Reykjavík Mayor Jón Gnarr, who identifies himself as an anarchist — say they hope the prime location will make the mosque a prominent landmark in the city.

Critics of the mosque, however, say the project is being financed by donors in the Middle East who are seeking to exert control over — and radicalize — the growing Muslim community in Iceland.

Although reliable statistics do not exist, the Muslim population of Iceland is estimated to be approximately 1,200, or 0.4% of the total Icelandic population of 320,000. Most Muslims in Iceland live in the capital Reykjavík, where they make up about 1% of the total population of 120,000.

The Muslim community in Iceland may be small in comparison to other European countries, but its rate of growth has been exponential: Since 1990, when there were fewer than a dozen Muslims in the country, their number has increased by nearly 10,000%. Much of this growth has been due to immigration, but in recent years native Icelanders have also been converting to Islam in increasing numbers.

Currently there are two main Muslim groups in Iceland: the Muslim Association of Iceland, which has around 500 members, and the Islamic Cultural Center of Iceland, which has some 300 followers. The former group is run by Salmann Tamimi, a Palestinian immigrant who considers himself to be the voice of moderate Islam in Iceland; the latter group is run by Ahmad Seddeq, a firebrand preacher from Pakistan whose activities are allegedly being financed by Saudi Arabia.

Although both groups pertain to Sunni Islam, they have been openly fighting with each other for many years over who should be the rightful representative of Islam in Iceland.

In 2000, Tamimi — whose group meets at a make-shift mosque on the third floor of an office building in downtown Reykjavík — submitted an application to obtain a free plot of land from city authorities to build the first purpose-built mosque in Iceland.

Not to be outdone, Seddeq — whose group meets at a make-shift mosque in an old concert hall near the Reykjavík airport — submitted his own application for free land to build a competing mosque.

City officials responded by saying there should be only one mosque and that it should be shared by both groups. “Obviously we won’t be allocating two lots for mosques at this point and we find it natural for them to cooperate on the construction of one mosque,” Páll Hjaltason, the chairman of Reykjavík City’s Urban Planning Council, told the newspaper Fréttabladid.

Seddeq said he was open to the idea of sharing one plot of land, but Tamimi, who submitted his application first, would have none of it. Instead, Tamimi lashed out at Seddeq, accusing him of extremism, fanaticism and oppression in the name of Islam.

“Our application is completely different from theirs,” Salmann said in an interview with the newspaper Fréttabladid. “This is like asking the national church to be with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Tamimi sought to undermine Seddeq’s group by accusing it of being financed by Saudi Arabia. At one point, Tamimi called the police to report members of Seddeq’s group, accusing them of misunderstanding the peaceful nature of Islam, and saying that he feared that Muslim extremists were attempting to gain a foothold in Iceland.

Tamimi also sought to assure the Reykjavík City Council that — unlike Seddeq — his mosque project would not be financed by foreigners and thus would not be promoting extremism.

“If we are going to have a mosque, it must be done according to local considerations,” Tamimi said in October 2010. “As soon as you lose sight of the source of funding you lose control of what happens subsequently. The experience of other countries teaches that it is wise to reject large foreign investments in religion. Such investors are much more likely to import their own countries’ traditions and not adapt to the traditions in their host country.”

In the end, city officials sided with Tamimi, whose mosque project was formally approved on September 19. After more than a decade of bickering, construction of Reykjavík’s first mosque is expected to begin in early 2014.

The cost of building the 800 square meter (8,600 square foot) mosque — which will include a prayer hall, community center and library, as well as a nine-meter (30 foot) minaret — is expected to exceed 400 million Icelandic Krona (€2.5 million; $3.3 million).

But now that the Reykjavík mosque project has been given the go-ahead, Tamimi’s group has changed its tune and now admits that foreign donors will be paying for the mosque’s construction costs after all.

During a newspaper interview on September 19 — conducted just a few hours after the mosque project was approved — Sverrir Agnarsson, a convert to Islam who is chairman of Tamimi’s group, the Muslim Association of Iceland, was asked how the mosque would be financed.

“We have received numerous promises,” Agnarsson said. “We are mostly seeking funding from individual foreigners. We have a right to get support from the collective funds of Muslims [the Ummah, or the worldwide community of Muslims]. We are doing all of this in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice to guarantee that all the money coming to us is received legally, and is not associated with any terrorist organizations,” he added.

The idea that foreigners are financing the spread of Islam in Reykjavík does not sit well with many Icelanders.

One of the most vocal opponents of the mosque project has been the former mayor of Reykjavík, Ólafur F. Magnússon. In an article he wrote for the newspaper Morgunbladid, Magnússon laid out his position:

It is a matter of grave concern that it seems to be no problem for Muslims in Iceland to finance such a mosque here in Iceland with money from ‘Muslim/Islamic promotion organizations’ abroad. They could receive financial help from organizations that want to increase Islamic influence in Iceland as well as in other countries. This can be dangerous for our national culture and safety.

Magnússon also said why he thought it was wrong for foreign organizations to be financing the construction of mosques in Iceland:

Islam is a religion with the goal to eliminate all other religions and to expand all over the world, the West, the Nordic countries…and now even Iceland. The experience in the Nordic countries shows that Muslims are not adapting to society. This has become a huge problem, in Malmö [Sweden] for example. The other day, a mosque was to be built on Trondheim [Norway], but the Norwegian authorities canceled the project because some Saudi Arabian organization was to finance the whole thing.

Although he is not opposed to the mosque per se, Magnússon believes it is outrageous for the city to give Muslims a building site at no cost at a great location in the center of Reykjavík. He also asks why political movements and feminist groups in Iceland are so tolerant towards a religion that he says degrades women.

Part of the answer may be found in the political make-up of the Reykjavík City Council, which is led by the upstart Best Party, a so-called joke party that was propelled into office in 2010 as a backlash against establishment parties in the wake of Iceland’s banking collapse in 2008.

The Best Party — a semi-serious far left party that is home to anarchists, atheists, surrealists, punks and poets — is being led by Jón Gnarr, a stand-up comedian whose stated political aim is thoroughly to upset the established order in Reykjavík. Critics say the new mosque represents a big step toward achieving Gnarr’s objective.

Egyptian Army Saves Christians from Muslim Terrorists

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

The Egyptian military regime escalated its war on radical Islamists Monday and came to the rescue of Christians whose village has been terrorized.

As The Jewish Press wrote here  last week under the headline “A New ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt Aimed at Wiping out Radical Islam,” the military is distinguishing itself by trying to protect the country from those trying to overthrow the government, a campaign that Western countries would not dare carry out for fear of offending their growing Muslim majorities.

Egyptian security forces on Monday stormed Delga, an Islamist-controlled village in central Egypt that had been the scene of some of the worst anti-Christian violence in Egypt. Soldiers and police fired tear gas and searched for suspects in the raid at dawn and arrested 56 terrorists by Monday afternoon, AFP reported.

The village, located 190 miles south of Cairo, came under the control of Islamists loyal to ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi following the clearing of pro-Morsi camps in Cairo in mid-August. After taking control, the Islamists unleashed a campaign of terror against the village’s sizable Christian minority, who make up about one-sixth of the village’s 120,000 people.

The Christian Post reported that Coptic Christians in Delga have been forced to pay a “submission” tax to the Islamists unless they converted to Islam. Dozens of Christian families fled the village, and those who remained and did not pay the tax were attacked.

“As soon as the crackdown in Cairo started, all the loudspeakers at the main mosques in Delga issued calls for jihad,” said Samir Lamei Sakr, a prominent Christian lawyer who fled from the town later that day, according to The London Guardian.

Since the Egyptian military cleared Muslim Brotherhood supporters from the streets, the Islamists torched more than 70  Coptic churches and attacked their homes, businesses and an orphanage

Two book stores of the Bible Society, which has operated in Egypt for 129 years has been operating for 129 years, were destroyed by arson, according to AFP.

“All of Egypt was Coptic for almost a thousand years until the Muslims invaded and started imposing heavy taxes on the Christians,” Washington Coptic church leader Dr. Halim Meawad told the French news agency. “Those who couldn’t pay were forced to convert to Islam under pain of death. Today’s Muslims in Egypt are descendants of Copts who couldn’t pay their taxes hundreds of years ago.”

He said that supporters of ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi blamed the Copts for Morsi’s downfall. “The Copts were attacked because as Christians they were a convenient scapegoat for the Brotherhood,” explained Dr. Meawad.

The Muslim Brotherhood regime, which lasted almost exactly one year after being elected, was welcomed by the Obama administration. Dr. Meawad criticized  President Obama and  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for backing the Muslim Brotherhood at the beginning of the demonstrations this summer, while criticizing the military for violence against demonstrators.

“Neither the Copts nor the military are responsible for Morsi’s ouster,” Dr. Meawad explained. “The Egyptian people simply did not want him. Morsi was elected with only 14 million votes last year, but 33 million Egyptians in the streets on June 30 told him they didn’t want him.”

Christians in other Arab countries, where they are allowed tolerated at all, are not so lucky. Syrian Christians are caught in the middle of the civil war, distrusted by both Assad and the rebels.

In the Palestinian Authority, Hamas has carried out an Islamic campaign to wipe out the “infidel” Christians since the terrorist organization wrested control of Gaza from Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction seven years ago.

Much far better off. Thousands of Christians have fled Bethlehem since the Intifada began in the late 1980s and escalated into the Oslo War in 2000.

JNS contributed to this article.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/egyptian-army-saves-christians-from-muslim-terrorists/2013/09/17/

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