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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 23, 2010.
Monday, 23 August 2010
Imam Rauf and the ‘One State Solution’ for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Andy McCarthy writes at The Corner:

Understandably, Feisal Rauf’s assertion that the U.S. has more innocent blood on its hands than does al-Qaeda is getting lots of attention (see, e.g., Keep America Safe). Something else caught my eye, though. Way down toward the end of the transcript, we find him endorsing the “one-state solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (my italics):

We now have post-Zionism movements in Israel. We have a very broad spectrum of people in Israel who regard Israel as a nation state, as a secular state, as a multicultural state. The very fabric and demographic, and I would say even identity, of Israel has shifted enormously in the last 60 years since its founding. . . .

The differences, perhaps, may lie on whether the solution lies in the two-state solution or in a one-state solution. I believe that you had someone here recently who spoke about having a “one land and two peoples” solution to Israel. And I personally — my own personal analysis tells me that a one-state solution is a more coherent one than a two-state solution.

This is the “solution to Israel” preferred by the Muslim Brotherhood and the anti-Israel Left.

For the Islamists, the terror campaign of Hamas (which is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch) is a method of keeping up the pressure. It is not something they believe will, by itself, destroy Israel. Terrorism is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. The end in question here is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. Hamas is pledged to use violent jihad, but the important thing is accomplishing the mission, not how it is accomplished.

As I’ve pointed out before (I’ve even written a book about it), the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda are after the same bottom line: Islamist rule. The Brotherhood, however, distinguishes itself by being willing to work through available political and legal processes. Al-Qaeda, by contrast, rejects this, reasoning that this approach legitimizes non-sharia processes and, in any event, takes too long. The terrorism and non-terrorism methods of advancing the sharia agenda are far from mutually exclusive; in fact, they reinforce one another. And the non-terrorism approach has, for practitioners, the added advantage that Western opinion elites will laud them as “moderates” even though their agenda is the very opposite of moderate.

For the Brotherhood, Hamas’s jihad (and Fatah’s terrorism, and Israel’s responses) create international pressure for a political solution. In that political solution, the idea is to turn the West’s democracy infatuation and rhetoric against Israel, so that Israel is browbeaten into putting its character as a Jewish state up for a democratic vote. In the interim, the Arab population in Israel (now over a million) is swelling, and Palestinians insist on the “right of return” as part of any political settlement. Between this push for ever-higher Palestinian numbers in Israel and support from secular Israeli Jews who would be willing to trade Israel’s Jewish identity for “peace,” the Brotherhood is moving toward what it expects will be an electoral majority.

The idea is that once Israel’s status as a Jewish state is delegitimized and democratically overturned, the Palestinian territories can be formally joined to Israel, and it will soon become a Palestinian Islamic state — at which point there will be no further need for democracy. That’s the one-state political solution. It just happens to be the same as Hamas’s terrorist solution: No more Israel.

For anyone who has studied how the Brotherhood operates, taken note of Rauf’s Brotherhood associations, and listened to the imam’s slippery answers to simple questions such as Do you believe Hamas is a terrorist organization?, none of this is surprising. But it does raise a question for the Obama administration as it pressures Israel to return to the negotiating table: If the official policy of the United States is that Hamas is a terrorist organization and that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “two states living side-by-side in peace,” how can the State Department be using, for diplomatic missions to Arab states, an emissary who doesn’t believe Hamas is a terrorist organization and who favors a one-state solution in which the Jewish state is disappeared?

Posted on 08/23/2010 4:49 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 23 August 2010
An interesting analogy

An opinion piece in today's Telegraph has nothing to do with Islam; it is about local councils' war on the motorist. Local councils waste money hand over fist, with their "outreach co-ordinaters" and "diversity facilitators", not to mention all the money paid to the skivers on "long-term sick". The answer: rob - sorry, tax - motorists who work in the productive private sector and pay their wages.

Whether or not you share Ed West's views on this topic, his piece is interesting for the analogy he uses:

Where there's green, there's gold, as far as the taxman is concerned, and so councils, using the language of environmentalism to squeeze drivers to the bone, are now utterly dependent on the car. Indeed, car drivers are now so burdened that their role is starting to resemble that of non-Muslim dhimmis in medieval Islamic societies – an outsider group officially despised, yet one on which the state relies financially.

I am pleased to see that the word dhimmi trips off the tongue so easily that it can be used as a point of comparison for something closer to home. Then again, dhimmitude is close to home. Perhaps if local councils spent less money "reaching out" to Muslim "communities", they wouldn't need to fleece the taxpayer.

Posted on 08/23/2010 7:55 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 23 August 2010
Dispatches: When First Cousins Marry

Channel 4's Dispatches programme shows a readiness to offend Muslims by tackling the taboo subject of first cousin marriage in the UK. Labour MP Anne Cryer has spoken out about this, but she is one of the few. This is not the first time Channel 4 has offended Muslims - remember Undercover Mosque? - so I hope that it will take no prisoners. From the Daily Mail:

Sitting in the family living room, I watched tensely as my mother and her older brother signed furiously at each other. Although almost completely without sound, their row was high-octane, even vicious.

Three of my uncles were born deaf but they knew how to make themselves heard. Eventually, my uncle caved in and fondly put his arm around his sister.

My mum has always had a special place in her family because she was the first girl to live beyond childhood. Five of her sisters died as babies or toddlers. It was not until many years later that anyone worked out why so many children died and three boys were born deaf.

Today there is no doubt among us that this tragedy occurred because my grandparents were first cousins. 

My grandmother’s heart was broken from losing so many daughters at such a young age. As a parent, I can’t imagine what she went through.

My family is not unique. In the UK more than 50 per cent of British Pakistanis marry their cousins – in Bradford that figure is 75 per cent – and across the country the practice is on the rise and also common among East African, Middle-Eastern  and Bangladeshi communities.

Quite random, then, for these "communities" have nothing in common.

Back when my grandparents were having children, the med­ical facts were not established. But today in Britain alone there are more than 70 scientific studies on the subject.

We know the children of first cousins are ten times more likely to be born with recessive genetic disorders which can include infant mortality, deafness and blindness.

We know British Pakistanis constitute 1.5 per cent of the population, yet a third of all children born in this country with rare recessive genetic diseases come from this community. 

Despite overwhelming evidence, in the time I spent filming Dispatches: When Cousins Marry, I felt as if I was breaking a taboo rather than addressing a reality. Pakistanis have been marrying cousins for generations.

In South Asia the custom keeps family networks close and ensures assets remain in the family. In Britain, the aim can be to strengthen bonds with the subcontinent as cousins from abroad marry British partners.

Some told us they face extreme pressure to marry in this way. One young woman, ‘Zara’, said when she was 16 she was emotionally blackmailed by her husband’s family in Pakistan who threatened suicide over loss of honour should she refuse to marry her cousin.

She relented and lives in a deeply unhappy marriage. But others told me of the great benefits of first cousin marriage – love, support and understanding. To them, questioning it is an attack on the community or, worse, Islam.

At a Pakistani centre in Sheffield, one man said: ‘The community feels targeted, whether that be forced marriages or first-cousin marriages. The community is battening down its hatches, not wanting to engage.’

As a British Pakistani, I am aware of the religious, cultural and racial sensitivities around this issue and understand why people would be on the defensive when questioned about it.

At times I was torn between explaining the health risks while privately understanding the community’s sense of being demonised.

But I have also grown up in a family that has suffered the medical implications and strongly believe that people should have the choice to make an informed decision.

Throughout I had to remind myself that this is a health story – nothing more. It is not about religion or cultural identity. It is about avoidable suffering such at that experienced by Saeeda and Jalil Akhtar, whom I met in Bradford.

Actually it is about religion and cultural identity. Any reader of Jane Austen will tell you that cousin marriage is not exclusive to Islam, but Islam inculcates the tribalist attitudes and shunning of outsiders that encourage such marriages generation after generation. And who picks up the pieces? The British taxpayer.

Dispatches is tonight, 8pm, Channel 4. I'm going to be out, but will record it and report back.

Posted on 08/23/2010 8:06 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 23 August 2010
Modernity’s Uninvited Guest

It is an unenviable fate for an author to be remembered, if at all, for a devastating review of his principal work by a much greater writer; but such was the fate that befell Soame Jenyns at the pen of Doctor Johnson.

The book that occasioned Johnson’s scorn was A Free Enquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil, which Jenyns first published anonymously in 1756. Johnson’s review brings to mind Truman Capote’s famous remark about Jack Kerouac’s autobiographical novel, On the Road: that it was not writing, it was typing. For Johnson said of Jenyns: “When this [author] finds himself prompted to another performance, let him consider, whether he is about to disburden his mind, or employ his fingers; and, if I might venture to offer him a subject, I should wish, that he would solve this question: Why he, that has nothing to write, should desire to be a writer?”

In this case, however, the criticism was rather unfair; and Jenyns, by all accounts an amiable man, was mortified and harbored a deep but concealed resentment against Johnson for the rest of his life. After Johnson died, Jenyns published some vengefully scurrilous verses about the great man:

Here lies poor Johnson. Reader, have a care,
Tread lightly, lest you rouse a sleeping bear;
Religious, moral, generous, and humane
He was—but self-sufficient, rude, and vain;
Ill-bred and over-bearing in dispute,
A scholar and a Christian—yet a brute.

Another of the scholar and Christian’s objections to Jenyns’s book was its inadequacy to treat its subject. Johnson granted that the nature and origin of evil were a “very difficult and important question.” But they were also one, he added, that “this author’s endeavours will not free from the perplexity which has entangled the speculatists of all ages.”

For Jenyns, as for all writers of his time, the word “evil” conveyed something much wider than it does today. It meant all that caused mankind suffering. It included “moral evil”—extreme human wickedness—but also “natural evil,” the suffering brought about by epidemics, earthquakes, droughts, floods, and the like. It is not surprising that the word should have undergone a change of meaning, for in the intervening period the proportion of human suffering caused by moral, as against natural, evil has increased dramatically, thanks to our growing mastery of nature. When Jenyns wrote, for example, half of all children died, principally from infectious disease, before they reached the age of five; the causes of every known disease remained utterly mysterious, notwithstanding the pedantic flummery of the epoch’s physicians.

Continue reading here.

Posted on 08/23/2010 8:50 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Monday, 23 August 2010
Glass is half empty?

Theodore Dalrymple explains that the word "evil" once referred to natural disasters as well as human wickedness. He goes on to write:

It is not surprising that the word should have undergone a change of meaning, for in the intervening period the proportion of human suffering caused by moral, as against natural, evil has increased dramatically, thanks to our growing mastery of nature.

Every silver lining has a cloud.

Posted on 08/23/2010 9:36 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 23 August 2010
The Bible in the Public Square

Joseph Bottom explains the tension between religion and secularism in America in First Things:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth,” Christ declares in the Gospel of Matthew. “I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

The Bible is full of hard sayings like this—too many, too hard, to be entirely exegeted away in historical criticism, or eased with gentler passages in antidote, or shrugged off as the overstatement of prophetic rhetoric. From the Pentateuch to the Prophets, from the Gospels to the Book of Revelation, something there is in both testaments that has no patience for political compromise, or moral casuistry, or conventional prudence, or philosophical judiciousness.

It’s not the only thing in the Bible, of course, but without it, we have no Bible. “A fire is kindled in mine anger,” as Deuteronomy puts it, “and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.”

There is something in America, as well, that has always burned against the world. From Cotton Matther to William Lloyd Garrison, from John Brown to Martin Luther King, there has been here a hunger to speak with lips touched by burning coals, a blessed rage for the apocalyptic lessons taught only by tongues of fire.

A nation formed by political geniuses—masters of compromise, philosophers of prudence, judges of wisdom—we are also a nation with another theme. Something here has, from the beginning, disdained political order and sought not to be brilliant, wise, and learned, but only true, though the heavens fall as a result. “I am come to send fire on the earth,” Christ says in the Gospel of Luke, “and what will I, if it be already kindled?” It’s not the only thing in America, of course, but without it there is no America.

Continue reading here.

Posted on 08/23/2010 5:43 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 23 August 2010
When It Comes To Islam (or Israel) Stop This "Solution" Nonsense

A re-posting of a piece I put up at Jihad Watch last January,prompted by the piece here on Feisal Abdul Rauf and his sweetly sinister "one-state solution":

Fitzgerald: When it comes to Islam, please stop this "problem" and "solution" nonsense

Many continue to believe that if we argue that Islam itself is the problem, this will leave the West with no solutions.

The word "solution" leapt out at me. I have written about it many times before, in regards to those who speak of a "two-state solution" to the Arab Muslim Jihad against Israel. I have written many times about what a foolish idea it is to believe that further Israeli surrenders, of claims, legal and moral and historic, and of tangible assets, especially the supreme asset, as it is viewed in the Muslim world, of land, would somehow change the immutable and uncreated words of the Qur'an, or somehow change the Hadith -- that is, change either the contents, or the rank of "authenticity," assigned to the Hadith (the written records of the words and deeds of Muhammad) more than a millennium ago by the most authoritative Muhaddithin.

I noted that Americans, unlike Europeans, are used to identifying situations that are troublesome or difficult or unpleasant as "problems," and, as problems, they are assumed to be susceptible of solution and therefore can be "solved." In some ways it is an attractive attitude. It testifies to a certain strain in the national character, a belief that may come from the encounter in this country with Nature, that the settlers in order to survive had to learn to subdue. And they felt, in a different way (a way we find not quite so unobjectionable today) it was felt necessary to subdue the indigenous Indians. Nature could be overcome, other men could be overcome. And when there was a need for something to be invented, born of necessity that invention would emerge. Yankee know-how and stick-to-it-iveness, the attitude that there is "no problem in the world that cannot be solved" if we just put our minds to solve it, may seem to some comically naïve, but for many it reflects an attitude that will not disappear, and of which many of us apparently cannot be disabused.

How many times have you heard someone call in to one of those NPR Talk Shows (where the host invites one and all to "join the conversation" and then has his call-vetters carefully keep out any of those well-informed callers whose questions would throw a spanner into the whole party-line works)? The callers who are allowed on the air say that "in the Middle East those folks have been making war on each other for thousands of years" and "apparently we Americans have got to get on in and bash some heads together to solve their problems if they can't do it for themselves." It never occurs to those who make these suggestions, or those who run the shows and hear them, to ask if it is merely a question of a "problem" to be solved, where the Americans come in because the parties in question have lost all sense of perspective or are unaccountably stubborn, and "solve" the problem by a little common-sensical solution - say, that "Two-State Solution" when it comes to the Arabs and Israelis. We already know it is a solution because otherwise, why would everyone in both parties who has been working on such an outcome call it a "Two-State Solution"? Q. E. D.

And what, even for Roger Fisher, he of Harvard Law, who once galumphed all around the world peddling his made-for-television series on "Arabs and Israelis," has been one of the biggest rackets and profit centers in para-academic life? It's "Negotiation." You can learn the craft and art of "Negotiation." You can buy books, you can take courses, you can hire consultants who will help you, help anyone and everyone if the price is right, to Getting To Yes. Many of those who first worked with Roger Fisher now have their careers, and their consulting centers, and their fat, fat fees. It never occurs to anyone that you can always "Get To Yes" if one side can be pressured to giving up what it needs for its survival (see under "Israel"). And it never occurs to anyone that sometimes life is a zero-sum game - very often in fact - and that one side may not wish to listen to Sweet Reason and Get To Yes, because recovery at once of any lands once possessed by Muslims, and then slow but inexorable domination by Muslims of the entire world, is more important than any Getting To Yes could ever be (unless of course "Getting To Yes" is merely a way to weaken the Infidel enemy, a variant on the Treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya).

There is no "solution" to the war being waged on Israel. Nor is there a "solution" within Israel to the presence of those, Muslim Arabs, who do not and cannot feel loyal to the state of Israel, and wish the Jews and the State of Israel ill.

But the same thing is true in the case of Muslims all over Western Europe and, to a much lesser extent, in North America. In a few decades of criminal negligence, elites in these places allowed in many Muslims who regard the countries they have settled in as places of great comfort, stability, economic opportunity, and also as places where they must work to establish Islam. They work to increase its power and the numbers of its adherents, inexorably, to expand Muslim political power and, in addition, the power of Muslims, to intimidate outside the political system. And they work against the legal and political institutions, such as the American Constitution, that flatly contradict the spirit and letter of the Sharia. There is a way to handle this, but there is no solution.

Many begin with the idea that there is a "problem" and that, therefore, there is a "solution" or must be, and if we analyze Islam and conclude that there is no "solution" to that perceived "problem," then we shall all have to let loose the dogs of war, and everything will be terrible, and nothing good can come of it.

Those who think this way are using the wrong terms. They are using, as so many do, the language of problem-and-solution, the language of political Mr. Fixits, a language that misinterprets reality.

Is world poverty a problem? Is there a "solution" to this problem? What about human greed? Radix malorum cupiditas est, saith the Schoolmen. The desire for money is the root of all evil. Is that a "problem" to be "solved"? Or is it a condition to be recognized, and warned about, as are all the other Seven Deadlies? What about the innate inequality of intelligence among individuals? Is such inequality a "problem" to be "solved," or simply a condition to be recognized, and one not necessarily to be deplored? Is war (the permanence of) a "problem" to be "solved," or a condition to be dealt with, a threat to be made less rather than more dangerous?

The ideology of Islam cannot be changed, cannot be transformed. None of those who tried, in the early part of the 20th century, to "reform" Islam managed to succeed. And indeed, the only reason they wanted to "reform" Islam was in order to make Muslims stronger, because in the early 20th century it was clear that Muslims all over the world were weak, and the Infidel West was strong. And so some changes were entertained by a few "reformers" because they correctly perceived that Muslim weakness and wished to address its causes, not because they wanted to modify the claims of Islam, or the hold of Islam, on its adherents.

Kemal Pasha, Ataturk, was someone who sensed deeply the connection between the disorder and decadence of the Turkish state, and the political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral failures of Turkish Muslim society, and what Islam inculcated, what atmospherics it naturally gave rise to. He was not a "reformer." He knew that there was no way to change the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Sira. What he wanted to do, and systematically did do, was to curtail the power of Islam, as a political and social force, over Turkish Muslims themselves, and thereby to allow room for the development of a secular class. The tragedy of modern Turkey is that many of those who were the beneficiaries of Kemalism did not continue to work to extend its reach and its effects, and did not attain a majority in Turkey, and those who had remained faithful to Islam bided their time, and then helped bring Islam back, and it is they - Erdogan and his associates - who are in the ascendant in Turkey. Those who thought that Kemalism was forever, turned out to be wrong. It is Islam that is forever.

Apparently, some find recognition of a permanent threat too upsetting an idea. But why? Fascism, in its Nazi variant, and Communism remain political ideas that will always attract some adherents. Antisemitism, a pathological mental condition, has not been, and never will be eradicated even with the most potent of vaccination programs. But the numbers of Nazis and Communists and antisemites, relative and absolute, and their positions close to or far from power, and their consequent ability to do harm, or to influence others - all this is in the realm of what can be effected.

We can divide and demoralize the Camp of Islam. We can make some Muslims aware, even keenly aware, of all the ways that Islam itself explains the failures, political and economic and social and intellectual and moral, of their societies. We can prevent Muslim states and groups from acquiring major weaponry. We can halt Muslim immigration to the West, and make conditions such that the conduct of Muslim life becomes more and more subject to review, critical scrutiny, open discussion. Instead of extending a dangerously naïve welcome, we can make clear that we now understand the texts and tenets of Islam, and as a consequence, we feel justified in viewing those who still call themselves Muslims with suspicion and alarm.

That isn't a "solution" to a "problem." That is something much more complicated and, for those who think we can achieve an identifiable "victory" over the ideology of Islam, or over the bearers of that ideology, a "victory" that will end the matter once and for all, no doubt this view is unsatisfying. Unsatisfying perhaps it may be. But as a way to deal with the never-to-end threat of Islam, it is the one that, being based on the truth, will prove to be the most effective.

And that is the only thing that counts.

Posted on 08/23/2010 6:33 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 23 August 2010
Soeren Kern On Mosques In Europe

As Americans debate the appropriateness of building a Muslim mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, similar discussions have been taking place in towns and cities across Europe, where the spread of Islam is far more advanced than it is in the United States. Although Muslims and their supporters in Europe usually frame the issue of mosque construction within the context of granting religious freedom to minorities, most, if not all, of the more controversial European mosque projects are motivated by politics at least as much as by religion.

There currently are an estimated 6,000 mosques in Europe. Many of them are housed in makeshift structures such as small shops, basements, offices, garages and rented rooms. But as the Muslim population in Europe increases by more than one million people per year, Muslims across the continent are becoming increasingly more assertive in their demands to build high-profile mosques that clearly are meant to challenge the European status quo.

Critics say the construction of mosques is part of a strategy for the Islamization of Europe. They point to comments by Muslim leaders like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has bragged: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." Erdogan has also told Turkish immigrants in Germany that "assimilation is a crime against humanity."

Although Europe's postmodern political elites, especially on the left, have encouraged the rise of Islam in Europe, often in a deliberate attempt to undermine the influence of Judeo-Christian values on the continent, growing numbers of ordinary Europeans are saying that the social experiment called multiculturalism has gone too far. Voters in countries ranging from Austria to Spain, and many places in between, have been pushing back against the unfettered expansion of Islam in Europe. Many Europeans are especially angry at the refusal of younger Muslims to integrate into their host countries. In some European countries, opponents of the construction of new mosques have achieved limited successes. But for the most part, the construction of new mosques in Europe continues apace.

In Britain, plans to build Europe's biggest mosque in London were scrapped in January 2010, after some 250,000 people petitioned the government to prevent the project from moving forward. The so-called mega-mosque, which was being promoted by Tablighi Jamaat, a secretive Islamic sect that has been tied to Al Qaeda, would have held four times as many worshippers as Britain's largest Anglican cathedral. It was intended to be operational in time for the 2012 London Olympics. Critics of the mosque, including a number of other Muslim groups, said it would have given Tablighi Jamaat "a huge national platform, right by the Olympics, for them to promote their ideology." Overall, there are an estimated 1,600 mosques in Britain, almost half of which are under the control of the hardline Islamic Deobandi sect, whose leading preacher, Riyadh ul Haq, supports armed jihad and preaches contempt for Jews, Christians and Hindus.

In Germany, a controversial new mega mosque in Cologne is scheduled for completion in late 2010. The futuristic mosque, which will hold up to 4,000 worshippers, will have a large dome and two 55-meter (180 feet) minarets that will be as tall as an 18-story office tower. The 4,500-square-meter (48,000-square-foot) mosque has a price tag of €20 million ($26 million). It is being financed by private donations from more than 800 groups in Germany, and is being built by the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), which is a branch of the Turkish government's religious affairs authority. Critics of the project say the mosque will spoil Cologne's skyline by taking attention away from the city's Gothic cathedral, a globally famous Christian landmark.

In France, construction began in May 2010 of a new mega mosque in Marseille, France's second-largest city which is home to 250,000 Muslims. The Grand Mosque, which at 92,000 square feet will accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers in a vast prayer hall, is designed to be the biggest and most potent symbol of Islam's place in modern France. At least two lawsuits filed by groups attempting to block construction of the mosque have failed. Donors from Saudi Arabia and Algeria are helping to pay for the mosque's €20 million price tag. Overall, there are more than 1,500 mosques in France, almost as many as exist in Istanbul, Turkey. France's most prominent Muslim leader, the rector of the Grande Mosque of Paris, recently called for the number of mosques in France to be doubled to 4,000.

In Sweden, the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan's Mosque, also known as the Stockholm Grand Mosque, was inaugurated in 2000, after years of delays due to protests and appeals. The mosque can accommodate up to 2,000 worshippers and the building includes a library, bookshop, gym, offices, lecture halls and a large kitchen. The mosque's leadership has been accused of having ties to the Sunni pan-Islamist movement Muslim Brotherhood. The Stockholm Grande Mosque Foundation is now proposing the construction of an 11,000-square-meter Andalusian-style mega mosque in the Tensta district of northern Stockholm. The 400 million Kroner ($55 million) project will be paid for by Saudi Prince Abdulazizi ben Fahd, the son of former Saudi king Fahd, as "a gift to honor his deceased father."

In Denmark, the municipality of Copenhagen has approved the construction of a mega mosque in the Nørrebro district that its sponsor, the Iran-based Al-ul Bayt Association, says will be the largest mosque in Europe. Construction of the nine-story complex, which will include a prayer room, amphitheatre, conference centre, library and housing quarters for visiting imams, will begin in early 2011. The proposed construction of another mega mosque in Arhus, Denmark's second-largest city, was abandoned in 2008 after local Muslims failed to raise the €10 million construction cost.

In Poland, a group affiliated with the radical Muslim Brotherhood has announced plans to build a mega mosque in Warsaw. The so-called Center for Islamic Culture in Poland is designed to accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers. At 12 meters high, the mosque will be accompanied by a minaret of 18 meters. Opponents of the mosque say they oppose "a mosque built with Saudi money when it's illegal to have a Bible or cross in Saudi Arabia." They have unsuccessfully petitioned the mayor of Warsaw for "an immediate halt to the work." In Krakow, residents are debating the proposed construction of the Al-Fan Islamic Cultural Center. Opponents say there are not enough Muslims in the city to justify the construction of a large Muslim cultural center.

In Spain, Muslims have demanded they be given the right to worship in the cathedral of Córdoba. The 24,000-square-meter building was a mosque during the medieval Islamic kingdom of Al-Andalus. It was turned into a Christian cathedral in the 13th century. Muslims are hoping to recreate the ancient city of Córdoba, which was once the heart of Al-Andalus, as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe. Funds for the project are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organizations in Morocco and Egypt.

In Switzerland, voters in 2009 overwhelmingly approved a referendum to ban the construction of minarets. The surprise outcome of the referendum, which passed with a clear majority of 57.5 percent of the voters, represented a turning point in the debate about Islam, not only in Switzerland, but across Europe more generally. Similar minaret bans have been proposed in Holland and Italy.

In Holland, construction of the Essalam mega mosque in Rotterdam was halted after the builders ran out of money. The Dubai-based Al Maksoum Foundation, which has financed several other mosques in Europe, has promised to cover the €2.6 million shortfall. Meanwhile, the Dutch government is reportedly co-financing the construction of the new mosque at Ground Zero with $1 million of Dutch taxpayers' money.

In Italy, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said he wants to close a Milan mosque because crowds attending Friday prayers spill onto the street and bother the neighbors. In 2008, the city of Bologna scrapped plans for a new mosque, saying Muslim leaders failed to meet certain requirements, including making public its source of funding. Meanwhile, an estimated 60 percent of the mosques in Italy are controlled either directly or indirectly by the Muslim Brotherhood. In April 2010, the imam of Milan's central Viale Jenner mosque, the Egyptian-born Abu Imad, was arrested on terrorism charges.

In Austria, the southern province of Carinthia in 2008 passed a law that effectively bans the construction of mosques or minarets by requiring them to fit within the overall look and harmony of villages and towns. In Bad Voslau, a traditional Austrian town of about 11,000 people south of Vienna, local residents are up in arms over a multi-million dollar Islamic Cultural Center that was built with help from the Turkish government.

In Belgium, dozens of Christian churches are being turned into mosques as Christian congregations decline while Muslims demand more places to worship. In the city of Beringen, the rector of the Fatih mosque recently asked the municipality for permission to install loudspeakers on the minaret so that the muezzin can call the faithful to prayer five times a day.

Posted on 08/23/2010 7:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 23 August 2010
Dennis Hale On That Mosque


The Strongest Horse
Dennis Hale

Why it will be good for Muslims if the Ground Zero Mosque is stopped

The plan to build a mosque and Islamic center at the site of the 9/11 attacks is one of those rare events that is more important for what it portends than for what it does. To build a mosque on the spot where three thousand people died in the name of Islam would be deeply offensive; but what seems even more important about this event is what it teaches – about those who are building the center, about the non-Muslims who are supporting them. As President Obama might have put it, this is a “teaching moment.” What can we learn?

Despite the fog that surrounds so many controversies these days, a number of things are clear enough by now that all whose eyes are open should be able to see them without difficulty.

The mosque is hugely unpopular, all over the country (by about 70 percent). It is unpopular not simply because it is a mosque at Ground Zero, but because the people who are building it are far too close to the ideology of al-Qaeda – a fact which they have demonstrated, over and over again, by their statements and by their associations. The public has noticed this, although their leaders have not. Certainly, the official media doesn’t know (the New York Times, for example, claims that for his entire career, Rauf has been trying to “reconcile Islam with America and modernism”, a truly preposterous claim), and it’s apparently not known to the folks in the White House, either — but it manages to be true nonetheless.

Here is what the Times and the White House do not know about Imam Faisal Rauf and his partners, and about what they called, revealingly, their “Cordoba Initiative.”

Imam Rauf, an Egyptian born in Kuwait, is the son of the founder of the Islamic Center of New York, whose leaders have consistently been telling their congregants that someone other than Muslims was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. (Rauf is on the Board of the ICNY, and has never interfered with this teaching.) The first candidate, naturally, was “the Jews.” Then it was the United States government. Then it was just “someone” other than Muslims. Rauf himself has said that the United States was “to blame” for 9/11 – a statement just a shade more nuanced than blaming it on “the Jews”. (It’s also what bin Laden said.)

Rauf’s father was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a friend of its founder, Hassan al-Banna, and Rauf’s professional and political connections are all to the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas support network in the United States: the Council on American Islamic Relations; the Muslim American Society; the Islamic Society of North America; the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Three of these organizations were unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing trial – which produced the now famous (in some circles) Brotherhood memo from 1993 describing their goal in America: “eliminating and destroying . . .Western civilization from within . . . so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious . . . .”

Accordingly, Rauf has always refused to describe Hamas as a terrorist organization, insisting that “terrorism is complicated.” He eagerly promotes the imposition of shari’a law on American Muslims, and eventually on non-Muslims as well. He has spent a lot of time in Malaysia, getting an education in religious law from the lunatic anti-Semite who used to be the nation’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad. Rauf’s business partners have included agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran, where he says he might secure financing. He will also accept financing from Saudi Arabia, but he has refused so far to say where his actual pledges have come from, if any. It is unlikely that he could raise $100 million for this project anywhere else but the Gulf.

Just in case there might have been some room for doubt about their intentions, Rauf and his partners named the Ground Zero project after the Cordoba Mosque in Spain, which displaced the last Christian church in that city after the 8th century Muslim conquest. (There were still Christians; just no more churches.) It has long been an orthodox Muslim practice to build mosques where Allah’s enemies have been defeated (e.g., the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus). The Cordoba Initiative is intended to be a monument to yet another famous Islamic victory. It is, in fact, a 9/11 Memorial, built by the enemy.

That’s what the controversy teaches about the builders. What does the controversy tell us about their supporters?

First, they are a minority, and this is something of a surprise. The fault line in this controversy has broken considerably to the left of the political center, and the doubters must include many people who voted for Barack Obama. The Anti-Defamation League, for example, has joined the opposition (though not Alan Dershowitz, normally a partner of the ADL). The official guardians of morality in the mainline Protestant churches are all on board, but it is not at all clear how many of their congregants are with them. Evangelical Christians are opposed, mostly, but so are many Democrats, who are usually at odds with the “Christian Right”. Harry Reid opposes it, and so does Howard Dean, who even criticized fellow-Democrats for “demonizing” the center’s critics.

Second, we have learned that there are many people in the leadership of the nation’s religious, cultural, and political institutions who simply will not look at the evidence about Imam Rauf, or any other Muslim leader or organization, no matter how clear or damning that evidence is. This is a form of irresponsibility that borders on the criminal. Included in this indictment, unfortunately, is the State Department, which is even now sending Rauf on a good-will tour to the Muslim world. The amply demonstrated fact that most of the major Muslim organizations in this country are Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas affiliates and apologists comes to many Americans, over and over again, as news – and then quickly disappears down the memory hole. For a certain kind of liberal, as for birds, the world is born again every morning.

A favorite argument of the Center’s supporters is that if “Muslims can’t build mosques, then we are no longer living in a free country.” Yet the principle of religious freedom is embedded in the very Constitution Imam Rauf has promised to replace with the Quran, ASAP. There is a word for that; the word is “sedition,” and if Imam Rauf is a naturalized American citizen, then he was lying when he took his oath of allegiance, and ought to be deported. And no critic of the Cordoba Initiative has argued that “Muslims” in general should not be able to build mosques. Their ire is directed at this group, and this project, at this particular place.

Given the fecklessness of America’s elites, what must American Muslims, standing on the sidelines, be thinking? Supporters of the Center talk as if Muslims were united in its defense, but that is far from the case. “Make no mistake,” said the courageous Dr. Zudi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, “this Islamic center is not a spiritual statement but a global political one in the name of Islam.” Rahel Raza, one of the founders of the Canadian Muslim Council, testified against the plan at the Community Board hearings in New York – after which, she says, the Center’s financial backer, Sharif Gamal, threatened her over the telephone. The director of Al-Arabiya TV, Abd Al-Rahman al-Rashid, said that he couldn’t “imagine that Muslims want a mosque at this particular location, because it will become an arena for the promoters of hatred, and a monument to those who committed the crime.”

Many American Muslims – how many we have no sure way of knowing – are alienated from the Muslim Brotherhood network that runs so many of the country’s Muslim institutions. They have no desire to see this network score yet another victory. Yet other Muslim-Americans on the sidelines are undoubtedly more conflicted. They may have doubts about Faisal Rauf, but they may also be drawn by the power of orthodoxy, which has always appealed to those unimpressed by easy, half-way answers to life’s most difficult questions. This group is much bigger, almost certainly, than the group determined to modernize Islamic practice and doctrine. They are not yet committed to the radicals, either, but are up for grabs – not just in America, but all over the world.

This group in particular needs to understand that support for shari’a is sedition in a liberal democratic republic, and that the movement to impose it in the West is a political and cultural dead end, a non-starter — a certain route to political isolation and irrelevance (if not deportation). We should work with real moderate Muslims to isolate and disable the fake moderates like Rauf and others from the Brotherhood front groups, in order to stop them from passing their ugly teachings to the next generation — and to set an example for those still on the sidelines.

Yet we are doing exactly the opposite. Imam Rauf is not the only Islamist with good connections inside the government, the press, the universities, and the churches. He has hundreds if not thousands of comrades, in the Defense Department, Homeland Security, the FBI, and in state and local law enforcement. This makes the pious moralizing of the mosque’s defenders doubly dangerous: it enables the enemy, and demoralizes those American Muslims who hope for a different kind of life from the life lived by most Muslims abroad.

This means that the debate over what gets built at Ground Zero is not just a debate among Muslims, and neither is the larger debate about Muslim reform. True enough, there is a war going on inside the Muslim community, a struggle for the soul of Islam and for the future of American Muslims, and that war will have to be fought mostly by Muslims. But it is not a war between equals, and it is not a war in which Americans can be neutral. The Islamists have on their side money, influence, and a ruthless determination to get their way, no matter who has to be hurt. They have already taken over, with Saudi money, most of the mosques in America – one reason why so many American Muslims are “unmosqued” and worship in private. The radicals have also planted themselves inside the government, and have won the admiration and support of the political, religious, and media elites. We have essentially said to the true moderates: You are on your own, and out of luck; the bad guys are running the store.

Bid Laden once said that when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they will naturally prefer to ride with the strong horse. By caving in to the likes of Rauf and his triumphalist Cordoba cronies, we are letting Muslim Americans know who the strong horse is. And it ain’t us.

They will not forget.

Posted on 08/23/2010 8:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 23 August 2010
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: I Only Have Eyes For You (from "Pennies From Heaven")

Watch, and listen, here.

Posted on 08/23/2010 10:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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