It was, perhaps, inevitable that when religion finally emerged from the shadows of the celebrated ‘post-Christian’ West, it would make headlines for all the wrong reasons, providing secularists with even more ammo to shoot down proponents of religious truth.
Our Heavenly Father is forbearing to a fault. But He is not mocked. And He and His Commandments and His teaching Church have been denied, ignored and ridiculed for far too long. Most painfully by His own wilful, contracepting flock.
It is in this light, ultimately, that we should view the endless footage of the latest bloody outrage of radical Muslims and daily reports of the arrogant demands, socio-cultural pathologies and social dislocation exported to the West by their less radical brethren. Media coverage which effectively has tarred believers of every stripe with guilt by association and fuelled the rise of fascistic ‘religious vilification’ laws - designed, apparently, to stop us all from strapping on the Semtex.
If religion is getting a relentlessly bad press through the Muslims (not to say our own clerical abusers), if the socio-political Islamic threat from within and without Western countries is mounting relentlessly, if the secular screws on freedom of expression are tightening by the month due to this Islamic influence - we’ve had it coming for a long time.
In other words, even as the Western Church continues to haemorrhage internally, pursing its own self-destructive Modernist course, it is not the liberal Catholic-baiting/hating Western Establishment but Islam, as in centuries past, which seems to be the Lord’s last straw ‘wake up’ call for sinful, tepid Catholics in particular, and godless twenty-first century man in general.
One who believes this to be the case is Bishop Cesare Mazzolari, the Italian-born Bishop of Rumbek in southern Sudan who has lived the Islamic nightmare for over 20 years amidst a civil war which has claimed around 2-3 million lives (placing even the catastrophic death toll and suffering wrought by the recent Asian tsunami in perspective). His sobering words of warning are offered in this edition.
Last May, while the Vatican apparatus was pursuing its ‘dialogue’ and Koffi Anan and his UN were, per usual, standing paralysed and mute before genocide, Bishop Mazzolari was frankly describing to an Italian newspaper an Islam of crucifixions, slavery, forced conversions and pathological deception.
In charge of a diocese as big as Italy, where his 30 priests each care for 350,000 faithful, his cathedral is a 20 metre-wide, zinc-roofed shed. "This way they can’t burn it down," he said. He recounted what Muslims did to an elderly missionary in his Order. After having found a half-empty bottle of whisky left by a transport operator in the back of a rail car, they began beating him belligerently. "They struck him 50 times," he said. "Halfway through it, a younger brother in the order begged them, saying, ‘Stop! Give the remaining beatings to me instead.’ However his plea was useless, as they kept striking him until the very end."
He also witnessed what they did to an enslaved Christian boy named Joseph Santino Garang, who was crucified one Sunday when, after having lost a camel, he stopped to pray. "His owner pounded nails through his hands and knees then poured acid over his wounds. Now the poor boy is a hunchback and looks like a victim of polio. I met him in a camp of ex-displaced where, in order to make them return north, the camp’s officials forced them to push their own train cars."
This puts in certain context both the (indefensibly) degrading treatment of Muslim prisoners by a few US soldiers in the Abu Ghraib saga and the controversies surrounding interrogation of Muslim prisoners at Guantanemo Bay. Neither begin to approximate the unspeakable atrocities routinely experienced by Bishop Mazzolari. Intrepid reporters from the New York Times and their dissembling, US-bashing liberal brethren throughout the media-entertainment industry who dictate public opinion across the globe, preoccupy themselves endlessly with the sporadic sins committed by some American soldiers on Muslim prisoners of war, while millions of innocent Christian civilians are ground to dust by barbaric Muslim oppressors with nary a journalistic word.
According to the Bishop, we are only at the beginning of the confrontation with Islam. Nor should his candid recounting of Islam’s militant face be dismissed as an extreme situation to be offset against the ‘moderate’ face we encounter in the West: because, as we shall see, the latter is but a subset of the former. Without the authoritative guidance of a central Islamic teaching authority, à la Pope and Magisterium, the ‘moderate’ is ever on the verge of morphing into the ‘radical’ and fulfilling its dreadful theocratic potential.
This destructive tension is manifest in the failure of decent rank-and-file Muslims to air their disgust and shame - publicly, vigorously and often - at what Islam has become in the hands of those who act out the dictates of the Koran as they plainly read them: revealing, thereby, the fear and intimidation which simmers beneath the ‘moderate’ façade and keeps us all in a state of permanent trepidation. Bishop Mazzolari speaks of this too.
At the same time, it is true that Islamic reformers trying to ‘modernise’ Islam do exist. Even if they are not accorded the recognition and credit they deserve, prominent Islamic voices, slowly and belatedly, are being raised in protest here and there.
In a London Daily Mail op-ed piece of 7 September 2004, English writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, shattered by the barbarism of the Chechen Muslim terrorists at Beslan last September, which "destroyed the fundamental definition of what it means to be human," concluded: "It is a travesty to believe all Muslims are terrorists, but there is a painful truth to be faced."
She goes on to quote from a polemical piece by fellow Muslim writer Abdul al-Rashed, who stated in an Arab newspaper: "All world terrorists are Muslim… we must admit the scandalous facts … our terrorist sons are an end product of our corrupted culture."
Following another workaday week in the life of Islam, which included "the sickening slayings of the Nepalese cooks and servants in Iraq, the kidnap of the two French journalists held by Iraqi fanatics over the French hijab ban, the bombs which broke the uneasy silence in Israel, bringing back mayhem, and then Beslan," Alibhai-Brown perceived small signs of hope in a "long overdue self-examination by some of the great and good in the Muslim world … By the final [Beslan] atrocity, some influential Muslims were jolted awake to take up their responsibilities."
In fact, despite such views being buried under the obsessively pro-Palestine/anti-Israel agenda of the mainstream Western media, some Muslims took stock long before Beslan.
At the second annual "Jerusalem Summit" held last December, in an address entitled "The Daughter of a Shahid Speaks Out For Change," Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-American, told an audience of conservative movers and shakers how the 9/11 Al-Qaeda attacks propelled her out of the kitchen and into the public spotlight.
As reported by the independent internet newsagency World Net Daily, "She recalled that she had lived as a young girl with her Muslim parents in the pre-1967 Gaza Strip. It was there that her father, serving in the Egyptian Army, was killed during a clash with Israeli soldiers. Despite her tragic personal loss, Darwish testified that today she is ‘full of love for the Jewish people and this beautiful holy land.’ She went on to castigate the sustained hostility toward Israel from many in her native Egypt, despite the 1979 Camp David peace treaty between the neighboring countries. Darwish also lashed out at the Islamic world’s general refusal to examine its own sins before throwing stones (or worse) at others, especially at her ‘beloved adopted homeland,’ the USA. She bluntly added that ‘terrorism is never honorable, and should be abandoned as a so-called political tool’ in the bitter Arab-Israeli conflict."
At the same conference, Jordanian professor Mohanna Yousuf Haddad called for "increased Islamic tolerance" of the non-Muslim world. Yet while noteworthy and encouraging, such patchy self-criticism in some Muslim circles is insufficient to allay general fears that ‘dialogue’ with even ‘moderate’ Islam is little more than a ‘holding exercise,’ at best.
For despite the goodwill of particular Muslim individuals or groups in dialogue with Christians at any point in time, it can never counter the inflammatory clauses which litter the Koran. These will always lend themselves to their traditionally brutal, ‘sola scriptura’ application either through the imam-controlled madrassahs (schools) and mosques (80% of US mosques are under radical Wahhabi control) where hatred is passed on to the next generation of jihadists, or the introduction of barbaric sharia law, or via the Arafats and bin Ladens of the Islamic world umma ("community of believers").
And anyway, as Fr Gyorgy Fodor had the conviction to say at a PC "Confronting Islamophobia" seminar at the UN headquarters in New York recently, Muslims show very little if any interest in understanding Christianity (effectively regarded as a sub-species) failing to research the Christian faith in any detail (some Muslim scholars have described the Trinity as "God, Mary and Jesus"). This makes ‘dialogue’ a futile one-way street where the Christians give everything, even apologies for ancient Christian crimes against Muslims, but get nothing in return.
Around the same time, Germany’s Modernist Cardinal Lehmann ventured similar comments.
The super-sensitive, insular Muslims, incapable of self-reflection, were astonished and angered before both of these all too rare outbursts. Leaving one to reflect that Muslim sensibilities and reactions to just and frank criticism are so unreasonable and farcical as to be unworthy of serious consideration or respect.
To be sure, talking is better than warring. Yet is it any wonder that the sense of futility in ‘dialogue’ persists, even as it drags on and on and plays into Muslim hands. It has led to such shameful situations as the Holy Father famously kissing the Koran and, more recently, issuing a preposterous tribute to the two-faced father of Arab terrorism, Yasser Arafat.
It is very telling and indicative of a West in cowardly thrall to Islam that this papal eulogy passed with little adverse comment. Apart from Jewish reaction, which was furious, and rightly so.
It was Arafat, of course, who was the godfather of global terrorism, perfecting the art of terror as a political tool from the first airplane hijackings he inspired in the 1960s to the countless suicide bombings perpetrated by his agents to this day. No wonder many believe that Osama bin Laden, who was 12-years-old when Arafat took over the PLO, developed his terrorist network, Al-Qaeda ("The Base") by patterning it after Arafat’s homicidal Fatah cells.
Yet calling Arafat "illustrious," and claiming that he "loved his people," the Holy Father failed even to allude to the thousands of men, women and children murdered by this despicable man and his Fatah Tanzim militia members, or the fact that he robbed his own impoverished people through his notoriously corrupt Palestinian Authority, stashing away billions of dollars in Swiss vaults and funding a lavish lifestyle for his wife and daughter abroad.
As one report put it, while 9-year-old Zahwa Arafat lived safely in an exclusive Parisian suburb and her mother shopped till she dropped, "other 9-year-old Palestinian children were attending terrorist summer camps, dreaming and praying for martyrdom (i.e. to kill Israelis and themselves)."
In fact, under Arafat’s oversight Arab children as young as 4 years old were trained in commando-style warfare and indoctrinated in this way. Veteran US journalist Joseph Farrah reports that this abomination is fully displayed on two French video documentaries based on raw Palestinian TV footage and Arab language sources - "Israel and the War of Images" and "The Trojan Horse." These also parade Arafat’s 1994 speech in South Africa in which he stated that the Oslo agreement was nothing more "than the agreement which was signed by our prophet Muhammed and the Qurayish" (Muhammad signed a peace agreement with the Qurayish, Jews who lived in Mecca, until his Islamic warriors were strong enough to conquer them).
In addition, the documentaries show Arafat calling for endless jihad and total victory over Israel, as well as his spokesmen denying the reality of the Jewish Holocaust. "Jews are Jews," shouts one of Arafat’s clerics in a Friday sermon broadcast on Palestinian television. "They are all liars. They must be massacred, they must be killed. Allah the Almighty said, ‘Fight them. That’s what the Jews are. Have no pity for them, wherever they are, in whatever country. Fight them wherever you are, wherever you meet them, kill them’."
That’s the real face of the Palestinian ‘movement’: and the reason Arafat walked out of the Oslo peace talks at Camp David in July 2000, rejecting outright a plan that finally offered him a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem and 97 per cent of the land he demanded. Just one of a number of generous offers made to him over the years, including a proposal from the King of Jordan who was desperate to stop the bloodshed. Forever posturing and playing to the cameras, Arafat rejected the lot.
And yet, Islam having inherited the ‘protected species’ mantle previously assigned to Communism by the Left-Liberal pseudo-elite throughout the Cold War era, this pivotal Muslim contribution to the insoluble Middle East crisis is not something the average Joe would glean from his daily diet of anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, anti-American media offerings. Fictions like ‘Islamophobia’ are pushed and the blame for child suicide bombers laid overwhelmingly at Israeli feet by the Left and its Islamic apologists, epitomised by Lamborghini Socialists like Cherie Blair.
A Left-liberal archetype, Mrs Blair once made the pig-ignorant assertion that Palestinian children are driven to blow themselves to pieces through Israeli oppression i.e. rather than by careful manipulation and coaching from the sort of Islamic monsters admitted above by writer Abdul al-Rashed, not to say the monetary incentives of Saddam Hussein and his ilk.
This wilful blindness is tied to the politically correct socialist milieu she inhabits with her husband. It was on further show last year in London when a junior minister in the Blair government stood proudly alongside Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Suddayyis, a senior imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca who has vituperated Jews as "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs."
The utopian thread connecting the Western socialists and radical Islam is long and deep, as brilliantly traced by David Horowitz in Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left. Accordingly, the perverse nature of John Paul II’s Yasser-tribute was only accentuated when the Communist Party itself weighed in with an equally ludicrous statement of admiration, describing a sainted figure "who remained until the very end a dignified symbol of resistance to colonial occupation and aggression, and a steadfast champion of freedom and justice."
Why would an allegedly ‘independent nationalist’ be praised to the hilt by Communists? Well, it turns out that the Pope of Polish "Solidarity" was actually praising a man who, according to an article in the G2 Bulletin intelligence news service, received political and military training in the Soviet Union and learned Marxist principles and the Hegelian dialectic from the Soviets as well as his Communist friends in Vietnam, China and the Stalinist regime of Rumania under Nicolae Ceausescu, among others.
Not that Arafat restricted himself to the left wing of socialism. His personal history and that of the PLO is also mired in fascism.
After all, Arafat’s "hero," mentor and inspiration for 40 years of terror, murder, hatred and international duplicity was the man he referred to as "uncle" – the infamous Hajj Amin al-Husseini.
The grand mufti of Jerusalem leading up to World War II, al-Husseini was a Nazi sympathiser and German agent who recruited tens of thousands of Muslims in Bosnia-Herzogovina and Albania to the German SS on the condition that Hitler extend his "Final Solution" to the Jews of North Africa and Palestine and wipe them our after the war. His Arab legions later participated in the massacres of thousands of Serbs, Jews and gypsies. In a dramatic Berlin radio broadcast on 1 March 1944, al-Husseini cried: "Arabs! Rise as one and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion. This saves your honour."
In light of that insane pedigree, it is unsurprising to learn that Arafat’s bloody Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a terror wing of Fatah responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and innumerable attacks against the Israelis, have announced a redoubling of their murderous efforts. Indeed, they have renamed themselves the Yasser Arafat Martyr Brigade in his memory. Brigade leaders told reporters they would not listen to orders from the new PLO leadership to cease attacks on Israelis and said any clamp down on Palestinian "resistance" organizations would result in a civil war between their organization and the security forces.
Among more realistic observers of Islam than the Vatican, this chaotic aftermath of Arafat’s death had actually raised faint hopes of peace. They reckoned on precisely this sort of fratricidal civil war in which the various Palestinian terror factions vying to fill the power vacuum Arafat left behind might destroy each other and, at the same time, their ideological commitment to bombing Israel and the Jews off the face of the earth. (A diabolical mindset whatever Israel’s sins, their Zionist tail-wagging-dog relationship with the US or one’s view of the state of Israel itself, about which the present writer himself remains deeply ambivalent.)
In that event, the real prospect of a settled peace was in the offing. But it was always a chimera. Incendiary Koranic dictates coupled with the ineradicable socialist roots of Palestinian terror were always going to preserve the Arafat legacy.
And so, unnecessarily extravagant even by the supine standards of diplomatic protocol, the Pope’s Arafat eulogy, as with his Koran-kissing episode, revealed an ecclesiastical realpolitik and interfaith ‘dialogue’ gone stark raving bonkers.
Again, it was Bishop Mazzolari who cut to the chase. When asked about Christian-Muslim dialogue so beloved of Rome, the Bishop responded: "One day they came and asked me to speak with Muslims, that is, to do the impossible."
In her 2004 release The Strength of Reason ("La Forza della Ragione"), dedicated to the victims of the 11 March terror attacks in Madrid, controversial Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci concurred with the Bishop’s assessment.
"Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam. And Italy is an outpost of that province, a stronghold of that colony," Fallaci writes. "In each of our cities lies a second city: a Muslim city, a city run by the Quran. A stage in the Islamic expansionism."
A straight-shooter like Bishop Mazzolari, Fallaci is a former war correspondent who has lived in New York for the past decade. Describing Europe as "Eurabia" - a mix of Europe and Arabia - the Italian writer says the continent "has sold itself and sells itself to the enemy like a prostitute" and that the Catholic Church keeps silent even when its symbols are offended by Muslims and before such practices as polygamy and torture.
Fallaci observes, as we noted at the outset, that the current invasion is not carried out only by the "terrorists who blow up themselves along with skyscrapers or buses" but also by "the immigrants who settle in our home, and who, with no respect for our laws, impose their ideas, their customs, their God."
Like Fallaci, historian Bat Ye’or also refers to ‘Eurabia’, recording that "Europe has evolved from a Judeo-Christian civilization with important post-Enlightenment/secular elements to ... a secular Muslim transitional society with its traditional Judeo-Christian mores rapidly disappearing."
These apparently strident views merely reflect the ideas promoted by ‘moderate’ Islamic spokesmen themselves - like Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and a popular writer and speaker. The grandson of Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the vicious terrorist umbrella group which spawned Yasser Arafat, Ramadan proposes through his teachings and writings that:
Muslims in the West should conduct themselves not as hyphenated citizens seeking to live by "common values" but as though they were already in a Muslim-majority society and exempt on that account from having to make concessions to the faith of others. What Ramadan advocates is a kind of reverse imperialism. In his conception, Muslims in non-Muslim countries should feel themselves entitled to live on their own terms - while, under the terms of Western liberal tolerance, society as a whole should feel obliged to respect that choice. ["The Islamization of Europe", David Pryce-Jones, Commentary, December 2004.]
Offered a professorship by Notre Dame University (wouldn’t you know!), the US government refused Ramadan a visa. This evoked classic fellow-travelling protests from the US and Europe which rationalised his noxious views, suggesting that they translate into a call to Western Muslims to "find common values and build with fellow citizens a society based on diversity and equality"!
Bolstering the radical Islamic front embodied by Yasser Arafat, this ‘moderate’ Islamic front is now entering an epochal phase with the EU talking turkey with Turkey about membership within 10-15 years.
One poll found 67 per cent of French people and 55 per cent of Germans opposing Turkish membership. While on 17 December 2004 the fading tyrant himself, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, stated: "The Islamic world, the Islamic extremists, even bin Laden, rejoice for the entrance of Turkey into the European Union. This is their Trojan Horse."
Some commentators have wryly observed that this is a guarantee it will turn out all right in the end, since Gaddafi is invariably wrong. Yet any expectation that Turkey’s 70 million Muslims will not transform the EU but themselves be transformed into docile Westernised clones, due to the alluring rewards of EU membership, requires a massive leap of faith.
True, as James Wilson points out in "Islam and Freedom" (Commentary, Dec. 2004), Turkey is one of only three democracies ever to exist in the Middle East (the others being Israel and, for a short while, Lebanon). But even Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan, in 2002 the first elected pro-Islamic leader not displaced by the military, "was once a follower of radical Islam and indeed jailed for inciting religious hatred." The point being that while Erdogan may well be a reformed character, the fundamentalist touchpaper never seems far away.
If that paper has not been lit in Turkey it might owe more to the fact that it faces no significant conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims than it does to the military intervention which has periodically preserved Ataturk’s secular state (for the simple reason, as Wilson notes, that there are virtually no Shiites to be found there).
Moreover, however relatively moderate Turkish Muslims might be at home within their own milieu, that moderation could be more easily disturbed after entry to the EU than optimistic commentators would have us believe, following mass exodus to Western Europe and exposure to radical imams.
To discover the fragility and deceptiveness of the ‘moderate’ tag, one only has to scratch the surface of another of the few relatively democratic Muslim countries, such as Indonesia.
Overwhelmingly Muslim, Indonesia, like Turkey, has not been plagued with Islamic separatist movements and Sunni-Shiite conflicts. This has enabled them to keep a lid on things. Furthermore, the new president, a former military general who once headed the security services and who replaced the sitting president by means of a popular vote, has promised pluralism and tolerance.
A recent attitudinal survey, however, has revealed that Indonesia’s ‘moderate’ Islam is not so moderate after all.
This survey was discussed on Australian national radio last December ["The Religion Report", 8/12/04] during a week when 124 leaders and community representatives from the South East Asian region were attending the International Dialogue on Interfaith Co-operation [IDIC] conference in Jogjakarta, called by the Indonesian and Australian foreign ministers to urge religious leaders to denounce terrorism from the pulpit.
Indonesian-based ABC reporter Tim Palmer commented on the "long-held view that Islam in particular in Indonesia, has evolved as a fairly moderate form of Islam, that it’s very tolerant, and that it’s embraced secular society and tolerated the other religions here. And I think to a majority that is true. However, there’s never been any really solid research to find out exactly what the attitudes of Muslims in Indonesia are like."
According to Palmer, the results of the research just completed - a large, face to face poll conducted right across 32 Indonesian provinces by a respected agency - "certainly did surprise even the man who was in charge of this study, Saiful Mujani of the Freedom Institute, who said that he too believed to some extent, that Indonesia was a more moderate society than has been revealed by this."
What it revealed, for example, was that instead of the 95% Mr Mujani had expected to reject "very strongly" the view that notorious local Muslims were justified in carrying out bombing campaigns to defend Islam, "only 60% of those surveyed disagreed with that type of campaign explicitly, and what that left was 16% actually supported the bombing campaigns, and another 25% wouldn’t explicitly disagree. So you have 16% in support, another 25% grey area. What he [Mujani] says from that," explained Palmer, "is that there is plenty of room for these groups to move, to evolve, to gain membership, and even more so to have sympathy enough to hide in the Indonesian community."
In addition, "respondents were asked what other Islamic radical groups they knew, groups like the Islamic Defenders Front who’ve been known to smash bars in Jakarta and Jogjakarta in the past, in particular Jemaah Islamiyah, and of the 40% who had heard of Jemaah Islamiyah, one-third of them said they supported the aims of that group."
"Of course," Palmer later added, "the figures go beyond just attitudes towards extremist groups, they looked at issues such as sharia law, and for example, 40% of the respondents wanted a cutting off of hands introduced into the justice system. They looked at tolerance towards Christianity, something that’s always been considered here that Islam here was tolerant towards Christianity, and just recently we had an example where a Catholic school in Tangerang, near Jakarta, has been bricked up by Muslim extremists who don’t want it in their neighbourhood, well, the survey suggested some 50% of people didn’t want churches built near Muslim neighbourhoods, and 25% didn’t feel Christians should be allowed to teach in State schools; these are quite widespread attitudes."
Just as noteworthy was the familiar refrain, raised by the ABC interviewer, about the "great reluctance on the part of Muslims to be self-critical." This, he said, was evident from "the first day" of the IDIC conference. He also noted that a representative of one of the largest Muslim groups and a moderator at one of the conference sessions, had recently declared that terrorist Abu Bakir Bashir - sentenced by an Indonesian court in September 2003 to 4 years gaol for helping plan bomb attacks which killed 19 people (prosecutors had called for a 15 year term) - was being unfairly kept in gaol!
Palmer responded that this is indicative of a blind spot among Muslims – "that any Muslim is my brother, and hence worthy of support." It was this attitude that the pollsters believe emerged through the survey.
It may also account for the fact that even as it hosts international interfaith conferences calling moderate Muslims to denounce the terrorists in their midst, Indonesia is becoming home to violent jihad extremists, who in one case killed hundreds of civilians, and now houses well over 10,000 radical Islamic schools like the madrassahs of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, on 30 September 2004, Cardinal Sodano defined the Holy See’s position on the entry of Turkey into the EU as neither favourable nor unfavourable, but neutral. The pro-EU Vatican has reiterated its priority with regard to Turkey’s admission as being "respect for human rights, and for religious freedom first of all."
However, as a show of how marginal the ecumenically debilitated Vatican now is to the EU juggernaut, on 15 December, when it voted by a large majority in favour of negotiations for the admission of Turkey to the EU, the European parliament promptly ignored Rome and scrapped an amendment that asked Ankara to confer, as quickly as possible, the status of legal personality upon Christian churches, and to suppress the ministry of religious affairs, the Turkish state agency that supervises worship and blocks the construction of new churches.
Commenting on this latest snub, Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, lamented "the manifestation of a certain anti-Christian prejudice in the majority of the European deputies." Rightly, but hypocritically in view of interfaith concessions already made, the episcopate also warned: "We cannot carry out effective negotiations with Turkey if we surrender European identity bit by bit according to their idiosyncrasies."
The upshot is that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, the ‘rehabilitated’ Islamic radical, promises more religious freedom in Turkey but is under little pressure to deliver and Christian minorities, including approximately 25,000 Catholics, continue to experience discrimination.
Of course, within the EU as in other Western countries, it is reverse discrimination, favouring Muslim immigrants and penalising indigenous Christians, which applies.
Driven by Islamic apologists who have made an industry out of rationalising and justifying any and every action of Islam, past and present, dissociating the religion from the terror perpetrated in its name, reverse discrimination proceeds under the corrosive umbrella of a ‘multi-culturalism’ promoting ‘tolerance’, ‘pluralism’ and ‘diversity’.
This true Islamophilia represents a kind of de-facto Islamic front, alongside the radical and moderate fronts we have considered. It is played out in our own backyards by Islamist fellow-travellers and "useful idiots" who use human rights legislation and the like to enforce a religious ‘tolerance’ which equates to penalising our freedom to critique Islam.
A landmark decision in this regard was the recent finding in favour of the Islamic Council of Victoria [ICV], Australia, against a Protestant group, Catch the Fire Ministries [CFM], and two of its pastors who were accused of inciting "fear and hatred" through critiques of Islam during a seminar and in a critical newsletter and website article.
The action was brought under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Vilification Law, introduced in January 2002, under which a person can be fined up to $6000 or sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, or an organisation can be fined up to $30,000.
The judge found that during the seminar, in the newsletter and the web article entitled "An Insight into Islam by Richard", the respondents had deliberately "made fun of" Islam by misquoting the Koran, and making hurtful generalisations about the nature of Muslims and their propensity towards violence and religious domination, "implying a threat to Australia."
He found that the conduct of one of the pastors was "not engaged in responsibly and in good faith for any genuine religious purpose or any purpose that is in the public interest," and for that reason his behaviour was not granted an exemption from the Act. He also said that at times their evidence lacked credibility and their statements "... seek first of all to create fear."
They were found to have acted in a way that was "likely to incite a feeling of hatred towards Muslims." He said that statements about the expansion of Islam in other countries, their aim to take over Christian countries, and their preferred treatment when applying for refugee visas, "seek first of all to create fear in those who read the article of being harmed by Muslims."
In their defence, the two CFM pastors claimed they had merely informed Christians about Islamic teachings, based on the Koran and other Islamic texts.
The judgement caused waves around the world, as countries like the UK worried about the implications for their own similar laws. "The frightening thing is, so-called ‘hate-crime’ legislation is very much in vogue in Western democracies and will be coming soon to a Senate or Congress near you," Jeff King of the Washington-based group International Christian Concern said in response to the ruling.
Having contrived the whole affair in the first place by encouraging three converts to Islam to attend the seminar and monitor proceedings, the ICV hailed its ‘victory’ and thanked the Islamophiles – the local Catholic Church and mainstream ultra-liberal Protestant denominations – who sided with them during the hearing.
Many Evangelical Protestant spokesmen, on the other hand, challenged the judge’s perverse view of the seminar in question, pointing out that rather than inciting hatred attendees were in fact repeatedly called to love Muslims and invite them into their homes.
Unlike their pathetic Catholic counterparts, they spoke sensibly about an attack on freedom speech and called for the repeal of the legislation. Said one: "People have always been free to publicly debate the Bible, but this decision seems to indicate that this same freedom does not extend to other religious texts. This decision means that a person cannot hold a view of the Koran that is contrary to the ‘official view’ - however one determines that."
In fact, it might even mean that Australians are no longer able to quote from the Koran - full stop!
During the tribunal hearing, one of the accused pastors quoted references from the Koran and other texts about the inferior status of women in Islam. He was asked by the female lawyer acting for the ICV to give only the references, because reading the verses out aloud in the courtroom constituted vilification. "How can it be vilifying to Muslims in the [court]room when I am just reading from the Koran?" the pastor asked the tribunal - a question observers said basically could have applied to the entire case.
Put another way: if a Protestant believes that the Pope is the Anti-Christ and the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon, and quotes from the Bible to demonstrate his point, he has a right to voice his views. And we have a reciprocal right to answer them. That was the basis of the Catholic Evidence Guild, whose members regularly refuted such provocative and sometimes heated comments with logical arguments at Speakers Corner in London’s Hyde Park. Apparently, this civilised process is beyond adherents of Islam, whose ultra-sensitivities betray a deep-seated fear of logical refution of their own ‘scriptures.’
The Victorian decision is so important as a guide to how ‘religious hate’ legislation is being subjectively interpreted by secular judges against all the evidence and co-opted to the Muslim cause, that we are reprinting in this edition and again next week large extracts from the initial CFM submission in its defence. It is educational both in respect of the ongoing attack on freedom of religious expression and the tenets of Islam itself. Readers may assess the reasonableness of the CFM case for themselves.
Reeling from this judgement as the Islamic dilemma Down Under slowly escalates, concerned Australians should look abroad and take heed of where it’s all heading.
Europeans have faced that same dilemma far longer than the Aussies; enduring the ‘multicultural’ experiment and uncontrolled mass immigration to a heightened degree. The resulting scars, deep and self-inflicted, are all too visible.
In his "Islam and Freedom" article, James Wilson documents just a few of the countless European examples of suppression and oppression in the name of "Islamophile correctness":
To encourage such acts of deference [to Islam], there has been a complementary effort to stifle contrary or less than fully respectful opinions. When the outspoken French novelist Michel Houellebecq pronounced Islam to be hateful, stupid, and dangerous, Muslim organizations and the League for the Rights of Man took him to court, just as the Italian writer Oriana Fallaci was sued for her book tying the 9/11 attacks to the teachings of Islam. Although both writers won their cases, the chilling effect was unmistakable.
The institutions that have been affected by Islamophile correctness run the gamut. In Britain, a judge has agreed to prohibit Hindus and Jews from sitting on a jury in the trial of a Muslim. The British Commission for Racial Equality has ordained that businesses must provide prayer rooms for Muslims and pay them for their absences on religious holidays. In a town in the Midlands, a proposal to renovate a hundred-year-old statue of a pig was rejected for fear of giving offense to Muslims. The British Council, an international organization for cultural relations, fired a staff member who published articles in the Sunday Telegraph arguing that the roots of terror and jihad were nourished in the soil of Islam, while the BBC canceled the contract of a popular television journalist for allegedly using negative language to describe the Muslim Arab contribution to mankind.
Commercial society has likewise rushed to accommodate real or imagined Muslim sensibilities: a British bank boasts that it will comply with shari’a prohibitions on the uses of money, and the German state of Saxony-Anhalt has become the first European body to issue a sukuk, or Islamic bond.
Religious society is not far behind: even as bin Laden speaks of wresting Spain ("al-Andalus") from the infidels by violence, the cathedral of Santiago has considered removing a statue of St. James Matamoros ("the Moor slayer"), lest it give offense to Muslims. For the same reason, the municipality of Seville has removed King Ferdinand III, hitherto the city’s patron saint, from fiesta celebrations because he fought the Moors for 27 years. In Italy, where Islamists have threatened to destroy the cathedral of Bologna because of a fresco illustrating the Prophet Muhammad in the inferno (where Dante placed him), thought has been given to deleting the art-work from the walls. Even the Pope has apologized for the Crusades. In secular Denmark, the Qur’an (but not the Bible) is now required reading for high-school students. And so forth.
Apart from a desire to be on the winning side, this craven kowtowing owes much to the intimidation factor already mentioned. As secularist Lionel Shriver put it in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal:
[T]today’s exaggeratedly deferent brand of tolerance is driven by a darker force than mere let’s-all-get-along multiculturalism, and that is fear. In the post-9/11 world, we are arriving at an unspoken understanding that zealots in our midst must not be offended, lest in their indignation they do something horrible.
And of course there is much to fear. Apart from local Islamic agitation, threats, murders and bombings, the best Western intelligence recognises that Al-Qaeda will use a chemical, biological or some kind of nuclear weapon as soon as they acquire it.
After all, Al-Qaeda spokesman Abu Gheith has declared that the whole earth must be subjected to Islam and that Al-Qaeda has the right to kill four million Americans - "two million of them children, and to exile twice as many and to wound and cripple hundreds of thousands," to quote him precisely.
Nonetheless, political correctness born of fear is no basis for fighting the destabilisation caused by multicultural ‘outreach’ and privileges extended to Muslims by Western Islamophiles, who, as Wilson opines, "by subtly deprecating their own national identity and culture have indeed helped open the way to Islamic separatism and Islamist agitation [and] thereby hastened the very clash of civilizations that they (or some of them) foolishly claim they are avoiding."
A former CIA bin Laden expert, Michael Scheuer, while criticising his government superiors for "constantly denigrating our [US] intelligence" and thereby facilitating 9/11, asked: "why were there always enough people for the public relations office, for the academic outreach office, for the diversity and multicultural office? All those things are admirable and necessary, but none of them are protecting the American people from a foreign threat." [Interview with Steve Croft on CBS "60 Minutes," 14/11/04].
Yet even as Islamophilia runs rampant in Europe, the wheels are falling off as the ‘multicultural’ bandwagon careers downhill to its messy - bloody - end.
Holland, for one, perhaps the most ‘progressive’ nation on earth, the much vaunted model of ‘live and let live’ liberalism and racial tolerance, has had enough.
In November 2004, Theo Van Gogh, a great-grand nephew of painter Vincent Van Gogh, was shot eight times and then stabbed by a radical Muslim while cycling through the centre of Amsterdam, for a film he made highlighting the treatment of women under Islam. A few days later, Holland’s Immigration Minister, Rita Verdonk, finally admitted what commonsense observers have always claimed and utopian socialists have always denied: "For too long we have said we had a multi-cultural society and everyone would simply find each other. We were too naïve in thinking people would exist together in society."
Echoing Chancellor Schroeder’s recent call for Germany’s three million Muslims to integrate better into German society, Ms Verdonk said social integration problems centred on Turkish and Moroccan communities, about 800,000 people. "We have in this country a very traditional group of Turkish and Moroccan people. They have become inward-looking rather than outward looking in recent years. They have never learned about Dutch values."
Verdonk proposes band-aid fixes, like requiring imams to speak Dutch and teach about Dutch culture.
They will surely prove as ineffectual as they have in France, which for 20 years has pursued similar policies in vain.
According to a NewsMax report, in attempting to form an umbrella group for the nation’s leading Muslim organizations, the French government "hoped to create an interlocutor analogous to the Catholic Church or the Protestant Federation, and an institute for training of imams who would preach, in French, the Koran and not politics. At one point they thought they had succeeded. Elections were held in Muslim congregations for the 50 seats on the national council. The result was a shock. The group around Dalil Boubakeur, the moderate rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, who was supposed to be the council’s first leader, won merely two seats. But the most radical organization came in second, with 14 seats."
In any event, while the Dutch government is busy rearranging deck chairs, the dangerous atmosphere now permeating Dutch life is driving the natives out. In one week last November, attacks against immigrants and counter-attacks in response saw more than 20 mosques, churches, Islamic and Christian schools vandalised or petrol-bombed. Six Dutch politicians accused of being "enemies of Islam" have received death threats, including Ms Verdonk herself, and two now live in police safe houses. The Speaker of the Dutch parliament was moved to declare: "Holy War has come."
As a result, having had enough of ‘multiculturalism,’ middle-class professionals are emigrating in droves, paralleling the so-called "White Flight" now afflicting Britain. More people left the Netherlands in 2004 than arrived as migrants or asylum seekers, for the first time since the Second World War.
A mother from a quiet village already boasting two mosques and whose family is moving to Canada, told reporters:
"When you go to our big cities you think to yourself ‘Where am I? I am the only person who speaks Dutch’. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague or Utrecht… immigration is getting out of hand. They re-create their own country. They have their own shops and their own schools, their own places of worship. They will take over. I have seen what has happened to a civilised country like ours, and I think I will be happier somewhere else. There is a growing intolerance of immigrants in Holland. It’s a shame – the good ones will suffer because of the bad ones."
True. But for the Dutch themselves the suffering has hardly begun. Their own government believes that by the year 2010, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht will have Muslim majorities.
In liberal Sweden, too, Muslim immigrants in the southern city of Malmo, unemployed and angry and taking it out on their host country, have created ‘no-go’ neighbourhoods where ambulance drivers will not venture without a police escort.
Perhaps because they are contracepting themselves out of existence like the rest of Europe, Sweden boasts the most liberal asylum laws in the EU. Thus already, according to a report, "one quarter of Malmo’s 250,000 population is Muslim, changing the face and the idea of what it means to be Swedish. Asylum seekers may bring spouses, brothers and grandparents with them. Civil servants say the city is swamped. ‘You have 1,000 students in a Swedish school. How many are Swedes? Two,’ said Lars Birgersson, principal of the Rosengrad School."
Before this tidal wave of terror, immigration and propaganda - what hope?
Bassam Tibi, an academic of Syrian origins who lives in Germany, put it succinctly: "Either Islam gets Europeanized, or Europe gets Islamized."
At present, the chance of the first scenario is utterly remote.
Indeed, as James Wilson wrote in his Commentary piece and to judge by the disturbing tip-of-the-iceberg EU portrait presented above, historian Bernard Lewis could be right in speculating that the clash of civilizations may well be over by the end of this century, at which time, if present demographic trends continue, Europe itself will be Muslim.
Hilaire Belloc had a similar premonition:
Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Muhammadan world which will shake the dominion of Europeans - still nominally Christian - and reappear again as the prime enemy of our civilization? ... Since we have here a very great religion, physically paralyzed, but morally intensely alive, we are in the presence of an unstable equilibrium. [The Great Heresies 1938]
Even the prescient Belloc, however, did not foresee the phrases "menace of an armed Muhammadan" and "unstable equilibrium" extending to nuclear bombs in suitcases carried by Islamic jihadists - or that forelock-tugging "nominal Christians" wrapped in a ‘multicultural’ straightjacket of their own making would be shoring up a third Islamic front to assist them.
But if he didn’t anticipate such horrors, the great Catholic apologist doubtless foresaw the self-destructive impulse already at work in his own lifetime and summed up by American founding father Samuel Adams, who declared:
"When people are universally ignorant, and debauched in their manners, they will sink under their own weight without the aid of foreign invaders."
Were he alive to see its consummation today, Belloc would surely apply that observation first and foremost to a decadent Catholic populace, and only then to the hedonistic West in general.
For we are indeed sinking under the weight of our own trespasses. It’s just that, once again, our ancient nemesis has been added for good measure.
And so the Bishop of Rumbek is right: chastisement and purification - a divine remedy - is in the air.
Yet even as internal corruption, external terror and godless tumult mount around us, this brave Sudanese prelate is living proof that we need not fear: our faith is our shield.
His equally courageous and plain-speaking episcopal forebear, St. John Chrysostom (c.347-407), gave similar witness.
Before his exile and eventual murder for attempting to reform the corrupt state of the court, clergy and people, the Patriarch of Constantinople consoled and rallied his besieged flock. He might have been comforting us - affirming our faith amidst the Modernist storm; stiffening our spines before the Islamic tsunami:
The waves are many and the surging sea dangerous. But we are not afraid we may be drowned. For we are standing on the rock. Let the sea rage as it will, it cannot split the rock asunder. Though the waves tower on high, they cannot overwhelm the boat of Jesus. What, pray, are we afraid of? Death? ‘For me life is Christ, and death gain.’ But tell me, is it exile? ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains.’ Is it the loss of property? We brought nothing into the world. It is certain we can take nothing out of it. The terrors of the world I despise, its treasures I deem laughable. I am not afraid of poverty, I do not long for wealth. I do not dread death, I do not pray to live, except to help you advance in virtue. So I simply note what is happening at present and I call on you, my dear people, to be of good heart.