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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘muslim countries’

Prerequisites for Muslim-Jewish Reconciliation

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

I appreciate the fact that this Jewish publication was willing to publish my article. I’m not sure how easy it would be for a Jewish pundit to get his or her work published in a Turkish, Egyptian or Iranian magazine. I believe it’s high time someone gave it a try.

History buffs among us know all too well that the best time for Jews over the past two millennia—ever since they were overcome by the force of the Roman empire following two bloody rebellions—was under the rule of the Arab caliphates, both in Spain and in North Africa. So much so, that Jewish sources refer to that time as “The golden age.”

The various Muslim caliphates, which began ruling a very large chunk of the known world in the 7th and 8th centuries, were driven by a single, fundamental, religious mission: to spread Islam. But their agenda for the pagans populating Asia, Africa and Europe was different from their agenda for the “peoples of the book,” followers of Christianity and Judaism. While, most often, the heathens were given no choice about conversion: you became Muslim or you died – Christians and Jews who refused to convert to Islam only had to endure a kind of second class citizenship, with different features in different locales.

It would be helpful to recall that while Jews in Muslim territories at the time were forced to wear articles of clothing that set them apart, and were forbidden to ride horses or use the main public sidewalks—a few miles up north, in Christian Europe, they were being raped, pillaged and burned alive on a steady basis. And while in Christian Europe Jews were blocked from most of the professions, under the caliphates their economic options were much more exciting, hence the term “golden age.”

While Jewish culture in Christian Europe centered almost strictly around the houses of study, with little evidence of a robust culture, in Spain and North Africa the Jews wrote songs and books of philosophy, and excelled as military generals and court politicians—in addition to their flourishing business as traders and bankers.

It is true that Islam had its low point even during that golden age, and every once in a while the mainstream in various provinces—for a variety of geopolitical and social reasons—would take on an ominous spirit of fanaticism and start harassing the “peoples of the books” with fanatical impatience and zeal, threatening their lives unless they converted. But even those waves of fanaticism are dwarfed by the pogroms and expulsions that marked the lives of Jews under Christian rule.

Indeed, the demise of the thriving Jewish culture in Spain came not under Muslim rule, but only after the Christian invasion of the late 1300s, which ended with the expelling of all the Jews of Spain and Portugal in 1492.

What followed was particularly grim for Islam. Just as the original Muslim invasion of the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe was enabled by the decline of the Roman Empire, so did was decline of the Caliphate an invitation to a new force, the great Ottoman Empire, to quickly overtake those same areas, and to push far north into Central Europe, only to be blocked, finally, at the gates of Vienna.

But something went wrong in Muslim history at that point. Historians will continue to argue over the precise reasons – the reality is that sometime around the Renaissance period, while Christian Europe began to emerge from its barbarism, to usher in an age of discoveries, inventions and the rise of the human spirit—at a high cost to many indigenous peoples on several continents—Islam began its sad and disheartening decline that set aside Muslims in general and Arabs in particular as the second class citizens of a developing world. Instead of setting the tone in science and scholarship, as it used to do in the middle ages, Islam was relegated to the position of a spectator in a game it could not hope to win.

We have a big problem with cognitive dissonance in most Arab countries, which are trying to be simultaneously Muslim and modern. By “modern” I mean doing all the things a normal Western society takes for granted: publishing books, making movies, starting businesses, dining in restaurants, driving cars, writing laws to serve the community, delivering state services. Every single one of these aspects of your life which you take for granted represent a potential clash with Islam.

Report: Muslim Countries ‘Worst Violators of Religious Freedom’

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Ten out of the 15 countries with the worst religious freedom abuses are Muslim, according to the recently released U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2013 Annual Report identifying the status of religious freedom throughout the world, and citing countries that are the least tolerant of religious freedom.

IRFA requires the President of the United States, who has delegated this authority to the Secretary of State, to designate as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, those governments that have engaged in or tolerated “particularly severe” violations of religious freedom.

IRFA defines “particularly severe” violations as ones that are “systematic, ongoing, and egregious,” including acts such as torture, prolonged detention without charges, disappearances, or “other flagrant denial[s] of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.”

After a country is designated a CPC, the President is required by law to take action to remedy the situation, or to invoke a waiver if circumstances warrant (As the late JFK put it: He may be an SOB, but he’s our SOB).

For the 2013 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends that the Secretary of State re-designate the following eight countries as CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.

USCIRF also finds that seven other countries meet the CPC threshold and should be so designated: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

USCIRF also places countries on its Tier 2 list, where the country is on the threshold of a CPC status, meaning that the violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are particularly severe and that at least one, but not all three, of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard is met.

The Tier 2 designation provides advance warning of negative trends that could develop into severe violations of religious freedom, thereby giving policymakers an opportunity to engage early and increasing the likelihood of preventing or diminishing the violations. USCIRF has concluded that the following eight countries meet the Tier 2 standard in this reporting period: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, and Russia.

But not to worry – the State Department has issued indefinite waivers on taking any action against Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia. As a result of these waivers, the United States has not implemented any policy response tied to the CPC designation for either country.

Gives a whole new meaning to the slogan “Freedom must be earned.”

In Egypt, the government has failed to protect Coptic Christians, who comprise 10 percent of the country’s 90 million people. The Copts have been tortured and killed and individuals continue to be prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned for “contempt” or “defamation” of religion (Islam).

Somebody should start boycotting Egyptian products…

In Iran, religious freedom for minorities has deteriorated over the last year, a bad year for the Baha’is, Christians, and Sufi Muslims. The Report details that, “physical attacks, harassment, detention, arrests, and imprisonment” intensified.

Jews, Armenian and Assyrian Christians, and Zoroastrians have faced harassment, intimidation, discrimination, arrests, and imprisonment. Anyone who has dissented against the government, a theocratic republic, including Majority Shi’i and minority Sunni Muslims, have been intimidated, harassed, and detained. Several dissidents and human rights defenders have been sentenced to death and executed for “waging war against God.”

Human sacrifice, that must be their god’s favorite pastime.

Refusing to Be Terrorized

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Two out of three governments agree that dealing with terrorism is all about having the right attitude. That, “Yes, we’ve been bombed, but we’re ready to pick ourselves up and get on with our lives without drawing any conclusions from what happened,” attitude that politicians patriotically advocate as soon as the carnage is over.

“Americans refuse to be terrorized. Ultimately, that’s what we’ll remember from this week,” Obama said in his radio address.

But of course Americans were terrorized. Obama’s message is that in response to the terrorism, Bostonians won’t spend the rest of their lives locked in their homes, at least not until the next time there’s a terrorist on the loose. But then again neither are Rwandans or Sudanese. This isn’t so much an inspirational message as a pat on the back from a government that once again failed in its duty to keep Americans from being terrorized.

If America had refused to be terrorized, the Tsarnaevs would not have been admitted to this country or would have been shown the door once they started adding terrorist videos to their playlist. Instead Tamerlan Tsarnaev was free to slap around his girlfriend while his brother Dzhokhar was adding classic hits to his YouTube playlist like “We Will Dedicate Our Lives to the Jihad.”

That ditty, from the hit-master behind “Hey, Shahid,” “The Holy Jihad (Rise Muslim)” and “Insallah, We are Waiting for Paradise” contains lyrics like “Paradise’s rivers softly chime/The 72 virgins lovingly whisper” and “Infidels rule the earth/for the faithful life is torture.”

But while infidels might still rule the United States, though there are serious questions to be raised about who is ruling Michigan or New Jersey, life was hardly torture for the Tsarnaevs who drove luxury cars, attended good schools and got good media coverage. The good media coverage continued even after their bout of mass murder as the New York Times feature story on them was headlined, “Far From War-Torn Homeland, Trying to Fit In.” And who can blame them for trying to fit in by practicing some of their native customs of mass murder.

At some point refusing to be terrorized looks a lot like refusing to pay attention to what terrorism is. After September 11 the government encouraged everyone to get back out there and shop. The message now is take in an interfaith service and then visit your local mosque for a sanitized tour that explains how peaceful Islam really is. There’s a lot of talk about finishing the marathon and MoveOn.orging on our way past the unpleasantness.

But there are two standards on being terrorized: When a mentally ill man shoots up a school, then everyone is obligated to be terrorized all the time. Children can be seized for chewing a pop tart the wrong way and the leading leaders tow around selected parents of victims to demand that the pesky Bill of Rights take a back seat to a special moral superiority vote from a former Democratic member of congress whose great achievement in life was getting shot in the head by another mental patient.

The next Adam Lanza is just around the corner. But the next Tamerlan Tsarnaev isn’t worth bothering with. Gun control is an urgent issue, but mass immigration from terrorist countries isn’t.

Talk of refusing to be terrorized smacks of governments handing out coping mechanisms for preventable acts of terror. And once we start going down that road, it’s worth remembering that the timeless coping mechanism for that sort of thing is Stockholm Syndrome. Indeed the old Stockholm cure is popular in the media which is already beginning to disgorge explanations of alienation that will show that Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev didn’t kill on their own, we made them killers by not showing them enough love.

It’s not the role of governments to tell people how to get over a terrorist attack. Nor is it the role of government to violate the Bill of Rights using the act of a lone madman as a pretext. But it is the role of government to stop an international campaign of terror by a fanatical ideology from reaching these shores using the blunt tool of immigration.

Refusing to be terrorized is as simple as refusing to accept more immigrants from Muslim countries. It’s not the least repressive measure ever, but it beats interfering with the civil rights of hundreds of millions of Americans who are not members of terrorist groups.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/refusing-to-be-terrorized/2013/04/22/

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